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Brian (8)

Some protocols for Socratic debate

These protocols are specific to debate - but I feel set the tone for any truth-seeking dialogue: 
  1. Why? is a legitimate question. Reasons should always be given when asked for.
  2. Follow the argument wherever it goes. The debaters are like rafts and the argument is the river.
  3. The river has rough and calm bits. The aim is to find the sea - not to tip your opponent from his raft.
  4. ALWAYS listen before responding. In fact to prove you have listened - restate your opposer's argument to check you have heard - before responding.
  5. The order should be a) data - what was said; b) interpret the data - what did the speaker mean; c) evaluate the argument - was the speaker right or wrong.
  6. Decide whether to use a formal or informal format (we will be using an informal format).
  7. Each debater should be given about equal time - or at least as much as he feels he needs.
  8. Try for an impartial moderator/chairman if the question is contentious.