I want this blog to be a repository for my ramblings, but there's a chance that people will stumble across it and take issue with what I've written here. In an effort to circumvent unproductive debate, I want to make the case for trying to restrict debate to something as close to productive, thoughtful as possible.
Ideas are important. Humans rely on them for everything and they'll ultimately save or ruin us, depending on which ideas we adopt. I'll have great respect for anyone who wants to seriously question what I've written about on this website. Hopefully, we'll edify and correct each other. If we take this rational approach to debate, we'll come away with ideas which will more successfully ensure that humanity continues to improve! If you are someone who wants to seriously discuss ideas, please comment away!
Now it's time to address the other 99.9% of the denizens of the blogosphere. There are rules in debate which ensure that it stays as emotionally impartial, rational, and productive as possible. Here are some ways to stop good conversation dead in its tracks, which may help to explain why I did not respond to you, and which might explain why your comment didn't contribute anything useful to the debate:
1. Stay on topic. Stunning: the number of comments I've seen on thoughtful blog posts which do not address the blog's content.
2. No emotional ad hominem attacks. Please address the ideas, not the person presenting them. Statements such as, "Anyone who thinks that is dumb," or, "You are heartless for saying that," etc. contribute nothing to supporting a counterpoint. Arbitrary emotional assertions do not unseat a logically constructed argument. I encourage you to employ logic to prove me wrong! I'd appreciate being shown why I am in error so that I can correct myself. What I promise to ignore is baseless name calling. Name calling isn't a debating victory; it's intellectual cowardice and forfeiting the engagement before its even begun!
3. No "ad philosophem" attacks. While I espouse a specific philosophy, I won't countenance comments which reject my arguments based on their origin -- which will typically be rooted in the principles of Objectivism. An accusation of, "Dogmatist!" is not a refutation of ideas; it is simply ignoring them. "Ad philosophem" attacks are particularly ineffective at refuting an idea because: good arguments stand against weaker ones, regardless of their origin.
4. Please do not color your comments with partisan assumptions. If I argue a point and you interpret it as a conservative stance, accusing me of being a god-damn-dirty-neo-con does not prove me wrong. If I take a stance that you feel is liberal or progressive, labelling me a bleeding-heart-communist-hippie hasn't trumped my position. To prove your point to me, just prove your point to me! Name calling won't further anyone's cause or edify either of us in any manner.
This list will probably expand.