Argumentrix is a wiki of claims and rebuttals

Please do not discuss your opinions; no one should know what you believe. Adopt the site's tone and style: simple, blunt, precise, direct, plain, to-the-point. Include only the absolutely necessary context, and eliminate jargon. Content that is convincing, rhetorical, persuasive, elegant, evocative or embellished may be removed.

Argumentrix:Argumentrix is a wiki about arguments and counter-arguments

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Argumentrix is a neutrally presented, user-created database of opinions, arguments, propositions and rebuttals.

Why is Argumentrix the way it is? Why is it so heavily moderated? What is its use? Why should anyone contribute to it?

People want a new way to understand debates. The world has grown more sophisticated, and making everyday decisions about where to shop, which websites to visit and which news sources to trust are growing more and more complex. Most of the sources of information about debatable issues are highly biased, so much so that each side in an argument writes using totally different terminology and assumptions. That means people who do try to find out more information use keywords that push them towards sites that mimic the views they've always been exposed to, and many earnestly don't realize there's a whole nother world of people using different keywords and browsing a completely different ecosystem of information.

Argumentrix can change that. We provide a single source that simply collects and classifies debates. We don't judge them, we don't explain them, we don't tell you whether they are right or wrong, we just tell you that people believe them, and why.

What makes Argumentrix different from other debate sites? We're not a site for debate, we're a site about debate. It's not a place to go to settle an argument, but rather a place to find out what you will need to decide in order to settle the argument.

Does it seem like most debates are argued over what the terms of the debate are, or what terms will be used to define the debate? Since every side is so polarized they insist on using their own set of jargon and assumptions, nobody ever debates the real issues at hand, instead quibbling over semantics and setting the boundaries of the argument. Argumentrix can reduce this effect by providing a single standardized place that anyone can visit where every debate is laid out in a separate page, and its terms are already set in as neutral a format as possible.

Think of Argumentrix like biological taxonomy. Biologists might classify animals by counting the number of molars and bicuspids, or measuring the angle antennae attach to the head. But ordinary people out camping aren't going to do that, they need field guides and wildlife books to make things simple and easy. Even though ordinary people never need to count bicuspids to know they're looking at a racoon, the publishers of those field guides need scientific taxonomy. Without that, one field guide might call a bird a "silver warbler", and another the "silver-throated warbler", and another the "California warbler", and maybe one will call it the "gray jay", and people who used different field guides would be constantly talking past each other, arguing over which bird they're looking at rather than looking at more birds. That's the situation we find ourselves in today - there's no official taxonomy of beliefs, so partisans and pundits argue over what the proper name of the bird is, when what really matters is whether it's going to hurt people or not.

What is Argumentrix?

  1. Argumentrix presents arguments on subjects of durable social, political, scientific or cultural importance.
  2. Argumentrix seeks to distill arguments into precise statements, each of which constitutes its own page.
  3. Argumentrix avoids conflict by being tightly focused on presenting arguments for and against titular propositions.
  4. Argumentrix states all the necessary assumptions for each proposition in the form of a series of supporting and opposing arguments.
  5. Argumentrix separates each supporting and opposing argument into its own separate proposition for relevant arguments and premises.

Future plans for Argumentrix

Each supporting or opposing point will be on a subpage identified by an id number, effectively providing a database of opinions that can be machine-read. As you read Argumentrix, you can check whether you agree or disagree with each proposition, and this information could be tabulated. Wherever possible, notable people and groups can be cited as a source as well. Therefore, as you fill out and refine your opinions, you can answer questions like:

  1. On what issues do I agree with Candidate X? What issues do I agree with him on, but for different reasons?
  2. Which religious denomination most closely matches my personal beliefs? What about the pastor giving opinions on the news, what opinions of mine does he disagree with?
  3. Where in the world does the population most closely match my moral, political or legal beliefs?
  4. Which points do my partner and I disagree on?
  5. What set of positions do people tend to cluster around? Do "soccer moms", for example, really have a distinct set of opinions? In what ways do I fit into any particular cluster of opinions, and in what ways do I differ from them?
  6. How do people's precise thoughts on issues like gay marriage evolve over time? Which points do they tend to give in to first before changing their minds on the overall argument?
  7. Why do people who consider themselves the same political philosophy as me disagree with me on certain arguments? What unusual beliefs mark a particular author or movement?

Other Argumentrix goals include:

  1. More standardization in surveys and polls, so that people's opinions can be more accurately teased out and tracked over time
  2. A way to reduce the ability of politicians to be wishywashy - if a standard set of a couple hundred arguments are given to every candidate and asked to take clear stands for and against each point, they can be easily compared. Such surveys are given now, but politicians only complete them for groups they know they agree with on. For example, in the United States, pro-gun politicians will take the NRA questionnaire, whose bias is obvious, but refuse to take a gun control questionnaire because of its bias. Anti-gun politicians will do the opposite, and since both questionnaires are biased, neither can be usefully compared, and neither candidate has to answer any of the hard questions that really challenge their positions. Argumentrix removes as much potential for bias as possible by stripping points of any rhetoric or context, and at least provides a stable resource that can be referred to. For example, if a politician refuses to answer the Argumentrix questionnaire because it is biased, he should at least be able to identify the arguments he feels are biased, the points that are missing, etc, and answer the remainder. No matter which political persuasion any person is, there are the hard questions that really challenge their beliefs, and those are the opinions that are really important - those are also the questions that politicians most want to avoid because it inevitably takes them "off-message". Argumentrix can quickly identify those questions they don't want to answer.
  3. A way to go around the inevitable rehashing of the same tired arguments that hinder discourse. Rather than endless divisive arguing over what to argue about, and how to define terms like "capitalism" or "murder", you can simply link to a few Argumentrix points and say "I believe capitalism is superior for these reasons" and someone else can say "I believe that capitalism is flawed for these reasons", and you can perhaps discover that your points rely on capitalism being defined one way, and his a different way, and now you've saved yourselves hours of bickering and research.
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