No doubt it would be hard to get people to do what’s depicted in the
post. The conjecture is that in many important instances it would be
considerably less hard than collaborative truth seeking. But it’s
just that: a conjecture. Still, I would think it prudent to explore
many different avenues here given how unfruitful debates so often are
and how much so often is at stake.
Do you mean as opposed to three or more? That would be less
practical, although some fields, like philosophy of mind, certainly
have very many competing theories!
I would certainly like there to be more collaborative truth seeking.
But, as said above, I don’t see it becoming the norm, certainly not in
the short term. Tetlock and Mitchell, for instance, deem it “least
feasible when most needed”. (1)
I agree that convergence would be ideal, but I’m quite pessimistic of
how often it could be achieved even if our culture of discourse
encouraged it a lot more.
Here, the synthesis would of course ultimately rest on the shoulders
of the reader. It would be up to them to assess which of the sides
has made the better case for their thesis. The iterative nature of
the argument would at least ensure that obvious counterarguments
aren’t left unanswered, or if they are, the reader would have a better
chance of noticing it and could then adjust their beliefs accordingly.
Another benefit from an iterative approach of this sort: the reader
would have only one self contained argument to consider from both
sides instead of having to wade through possibly a long sequence of
rebuttals and rejoinders in which the forest is easily lost for the
I’m not sure what you mean to imply with your comment, but since someone had downvoted lukeprog’s quote, I guess at least that person might have taken it to undermine Mencken’s words. However, all Mencken is saying is that
p(easy,neat,plausible,wrong) > 0
which in no way contradicts
p(easy,neat,plausible,right) > 0.
Of course the essence of the quote is that a solution’s being easy, neat and plausible doesn’t imply it’s right which often seems to be forgotten in public discourse.
I don’t think a single vote—and that’s all any voter has—sends any message. It hardly makes a difference to party A whether party B gets 279451 or 279452 votes.