Iterative Arguments: Alternative to Adversarial Collaboration


27


matsn

I've been toying with an idea of developing two competing theories in parallel in an iterative manner:

  1. writes an initial thesis
  2. does the same
  3. revises their thesis to address 's thesis where it contradicts that of 's
  4. does the same
  5. and so on until both parties feel they have nothing to add

This would be different from adversarial collaboration, as it's commonly understood, in that both sides would work on their own arguments instead of trying to agree on a common summary (which is very hard!).

It's worth emphasising that the idea is not to correspond with the opponent. Instead, one would keep updating one's thesis to meet the challenges presented by the competing thesis so that it remains coherent and stands on its own after every iteration.

I wrote a little ClojureScript library to go with a Pandoc template to facilitate iterative argumentation of this kind. The library makes it easy to navigate between the sides of the argument ensuring that following local links will switch context when appropriate, etc. Additionally, it provides bidirectional links by way of highlighting bits on both sides of the argument. Hot loading is also supported to make writing the document more convenient. Currently it's very much work in progress, of course. I didn't want to commit to too many features at this point not knowing if any of this would be useful.

Would someone here be interested in trying out this sort of thing either with their own "archnemesis" or with me? For starters, I think it would be best to pick a properly contentious topic but not one inciting too much passion.