O N D I S C U S S I O N
This is an attempt to provide a framework for the discussion of disputed (and sometimes difficult) questions. It is based in part on the book Attacking Faulty Reasoning: A Practical Guide to Fallacy-Free Arguments by Professor T. Edward Damer of Emory & Henry College in Virginia. (While I do present Prof. Damer's topic headings, the descriptions of each kind of common mistake in discussion and the examples of each are mine.)
This paper is divided into two sections. The first section, The Elements of a Sound Argument, discusses the four parts of a sound, properly-constructed argument, and gives examples of the various fallacies and errors that prevent an argument from being sound. (In the text that follows, an "argument" means an organized chain of factual assertions which together lead to an affirmative conclusion of the general type, "It is the case that . . .")
The second section, A Code of Conduct for Discussion (and again, the topic headings are Prof. Damer's), is a list of thirteen principles which together comprise a suggested Code of Conduct for participants in discussions.
I hope these analyses and suggestions will prove useful.