Productive Dialogue

Some notes and lists about "constructive dialogue" relevant to this project, almost all of which are from American sources.

Discussion Guidelines

Rules, codes or protocols to facilitate public discussion or debate are scarce to non-existent, but there are many to draw from which apply to particular institutional or private contexts, e.g. in universities, parliaments, seminars, workshops, business meetings and so on.

This short post on Ground Rules for a Successful Town Hall Style Meeting comes close. Rapoport's rules via Daniel Dennett set out an ideal, if not practical code for public discussion. NYU guidelines for respectful philosophical discussion are relevant but again not a practical for present purposes.

Organisations Addressing Polarisation

Ask Big Questions

Better Angels

Impossible Conversations

Listen First Coalition

More in Common

National Conversation Project

Socrates Cafe

Street Epistemology


Breaking Through Gridlock

How To Have Impossible Conversations

Event Models and Precedents

The default format for the Brisbane Dialogues is intended to be informal, facilitated discussions between a visiting speaker and one or two local speakers with differing viewpoints. This encourages exploring a subject together, establishing common ground and reasoning towards solutions, in contrast to the adversarial nature of debates, although there is a place for them also.

One example close to home was when Douglas Murray, a conservative, atheist English Oxford-educated journalist and author and Cornel West, a black, Christian, socialist activist and Harvard philosophy professor, toured Australasia together holding public discussion events covering many topics. The tour was called "Polarised!" but the discussions were civil and enlightening. This is a good "across the aisle" model for The Brisbane Dialogues.

An interesting model for one-on-one debates is The Soho Forum, which, although libertarian-based, stages regular events on contentious topical propositions with speakers of very different persuasions, as does, to a lesser extent, but closer to home, The Sydney Institute.

Facilitating civil discussion about big ideas and issues.

"He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that." J.S. Mill