Sorting out good faith from bad faith debate

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Joined: 6 Feb 2005
Age: 40
Gender: Male
Posts: 21,055
Location: The 27th Path of Peh.

18 Oct 2018, 1:25 pm

It seems like there are a couple different ways in at debating on topics when it comes to regard for truth, the first is actually trying to get at truth, the second is not trying to get at truth but rather bolster a particular team or preferred political worldview.

I think both of these debate styles have pretty clear hallmarks that they can be sorted out on. There might be caveats, feel free to bring them up.

Signs someone is seeking truth:

- Asking questions or making comments to tease apart complexity, attempting to see the full depth of the subject matter.
- When disagreeing with someone asking questions that try to get the other person to expand on what they mean or why it is that they hold the viewpoints that they do.
- Attempting to meet people on their vernacular and engage with their particular style of understanding an issue.
- If in disagreement splitting apart the areas you agree with the other person on, and the areas you disagree, even within relatively narrow scopes of discussion.
- Doing everything you can to raise the fidelity of the conversation.
- 'Steel-manning' your opponent or the opposing idea.

Asserting preferred politics or playing for 'team':

- Hitting the ground with a PhD from Personal Greatness University in the given topic - no research needed.
- Not asking questions, even ignoring posts to reply to the title blurb rather than OP.
- Attempting to mischaracterize your opponent, motive-monger, or project/mind-read.
- Blanket dismissal of whole swaths of information if a person says one thing you disagree with.
- Doing everything you can to lower the fidelity of the conversation
- 'Straw-manning' your opponent or the opposing idea.

I wanted to write this because I hate seeing the 'Everyone says their opposition debates in bad faith therefore the accusation is meaningless' type of excuse fly (though if you would debate in bad faith or for team that's exactly what you should say!). AFAICT there are objective metrics to see these things and I think the above are, if not comprehensive, at least cover the main points.

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. To be your own man is a hard business. If you try it, you'll be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privelege of owning yourself" - Rudyard Kipling