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All Parties Agree to Avoid Red Herrings
Clause #1: Clarification of Purpose
Before proceeding, all parties must communicate the goals they are trying achieve through this argument/conversation. More importantly, all parties must identify the intellectual or emotional needs they are trying to have met through such an interaction.
Clause #2: Ethical and Logical Consistency
Because almost all political arguments grow from the need of all parties determine right from wrong, or moral from immoral, each party must articulate a clear foundation of principles or axioms upon which all of their political positions are built.
“I am a Republican/Democrat/Libertarian/other, and that political belief system is built upon the impenetrable idea(s) that ________________(insert principles here) __________________.
Please avoid abstract language and subjective claims like: “America is the greatest country in the world!” OR “Freedom is the only answer.” OR “Obama says…” All your subsequent arguments and statements must not contradict the principles you put forward at this step. All elements of your current political belief system must be consistent with these principles.
Clause #3: Avoiding the Box
While the discussion must stay on the agreed upon topic, all parties must agree to abstain from the tactic of putting their opponent(s) “in a box.” This refers to attempts to control the context of the discussion in a way that is advantageous to you.
Clause #4: Foundation of Facts
All parties must be able to demonstrate that their opinion/claim/call-to-action is built upon a foundation of facts with which their opponent agrees. This is often the most challenging part of any debate because each party will have different strengths and deficits in his or her knowledge-base. Both parties will agree to fact-checking in real time (internet) if necessary.
Clause #5: Ideological Flexibility
You agree that if your opponent can clearly demonstrate that your argument contains numerous inconsistencies, contradictions or other general errors in reasoning, you will follow up by doing all of the following:
1. avoid launching into an emotion-driven invective against your opponent, including ad hominem attacks
2. avoid the “taking my ball and going home” tactic, where you say something like, “I’ve had it with this! There’s no talking to you! And everyone is entitled to their own opinion anyway. Goodbye.”
3. admit that your position needs additional research and consideration
4. agree to consume two (2) pieces of educational media chosen for you by your opponent (articles, book excerpts, videos, podcasts, etc…)
SOME EXAMPLES of common reasoning errors to avoid: Appeal to Emotion/Fear, Appeal to Authority, Appeal to Popularity, Circular Reasoning, Ambiguity, Equivocation, the Genetic Fallacy, Fallacy of Composition/Division, Fallacy of the Excluded Middle, and Appeal to Tradition
PARTY 1 ______________________________ PARTY 2 ______________________________ WITNESS_________________________