Iterative Arguments: Alternative to Adversarial Collaboration

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.