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Argument Guidelines

This section describes content guidelines for creating an Argument on Honest Argument. For documentation on Argument mechanics, see here.

This section is very skeletal and is expected to grow and be refined as the site grows.

Argument Types

Arguments can generally be considered to be about concepts, or about facts or events. Arguments about the former tend to be more exploratory, whereas Arguments about the latter tend to be more exacting.

Sourcing Assertions

"Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts."

Daniel Patrick Moynihan

When arguing about facts or events, you should support your assertions with references to original source material. Good references include:

It is important, however, to distinguish between journalism - reporting on facts and events - and opinion. References to opinion (columnists, pundits, political journals) have little place in Arguments concerning facts or events, though they certainly have their place when arguing concepts.

Similarly, blogs don't usually - but sometimes do - provide original reporting. When they do, you should feel free to use them as references. But understand that the user community - particularly those on the other side of your Argument - are going to scrutinize and challenge those references very closely.

Blogs are, however, very often a good source for challenging "original source" reporting, but their challenges are expected to reference (with links) alternative original source material.

Anecdotal Evidence

A favorite tactic in "proving" that the media is liberal/conservative:

Anecdotal evidence is an informal account of evidence in the form of an anecdote or hearsay... Misuse of anecdotal evidence is a logical fallacy and is sometimes informally referred to as the "person who" fallacy ("I know a person who..."; "I know of a case where..." etc.)

So, for example, a particular story that you do not like cannot be used as evidence that the reporter, the publisher, or the media in general is liberal or conservative. Nor can a dozen particular stories. Nor can a book of anecdotes published by someone who used to work for that particular publisher.

Disallowed Assertions

There are a small number of specific assertions that are not allowed to be used in general Arguments. In some cases - such as "the media is liberal" - they are disallowed because their usage is intended to be dismissive, rather than explicative. In other cases - such as "this is judicial activism" - they are completely meaningless in terms of argumentation as different sides maintain different interpretations.

While these assertions may not be used generally, in some cases they are worthy of and do occupy Arguments of their own.

Additionally, while not (as yet) prohibited, assertions challenging a source as hypocritical are strongly discouraged, as they do little to further understanding of the topic at hand and can easily drown out the substantive information in Arguments. If you really need to do so, go ahead and create an Argument asserting that "Person X is a hypocrite about subject Y", but leave it out of Arguments generally about subject Y.

Time and/or Geographical Sensitivity

Many Arguments are relevant to a specific point in time and/or to a specific geographical location. In such cases, be sure to reference the period or geographical locations in the Thesis. E.g.




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