Strategy for Logic Referees

Strategy for Logic Referees (LR)

1) Ensuring Sufficient Controversy to Start.

Formulating  a controversial MainClaim to start the game. To play a game of ToL, a MainClaim is needed that is controversial amongst the assembled players. Best advise is to have an approximately even split amongst those convinced of the MainClaim and those opposed (or ‘not yet persuaded’.) It falls to the Logic Referee to solicit and select a controversial MainClaim to start the game. The StrawPoll that opens the game can be used to check whether or not a proposed MainClaim is indeed controversial amongst the players on site.

2) Mind your negatives.

The LR is advised to decide whether the positive or negative MC is best assigned to “For” or “Against”.

Logically, a MainClaim can be positive or negative, an affirmation or a denial. In one sense, it makes no difference which is chosen, since either way the same premises would be relevant. However, to forestall confusion, the LR should take care that the “For” and “Against” sides make intuitive sense. Thus if the MainClaim calls for a ban or prohibition on X, its logical form is positive, but semantically it is “against” X. It therefore makes sense to choose a negative formulation instead (‘X should not be banned’) since then players who are against the MC are against X, and those who are for the MainClaim are for X. If this precaution is not taken, players are liable to mis-vote on the Strawpoll, and end up accidental winners due to initial misunderstanding.

3) Get the Players Speaking.

Even before beginning to take up the Reasons players offer for or against the MainClaim (ie., before any Bouts), the Logic Referee  may wish to encourage an initial verbal statement by some Player(s?) advocating for the MC. It may also be useful to say in general terms why opponents think what they do.

Players are expected to speak up in defense of the claims they advance. Tell them to talk up their premises to get more votes. Have them explain the importance of their points, show the strength of your reasoning so others get persuaded.

4) Premise Order of Play.

The LR must determine the order in which to play premises, and which premise to play first. For instance, it may be strategic to play non-controversial premises before controversial ones. This sets up the problem of getting from an established or relatively non-controversial premise premise to a desired and controversial conclusion, a gap players can now attempt to fill. The LR needs to chose whether to build out one side’s arguments to completion first, or allow each side to score each initial wins by establishing non-controversial premises, so that each side can get some easy ‘points on the board,’ as it were. The best course will vary with circumstance. However, it is the responsibility of the Logic Referee to encourage complete arguments, and not allow the Common Ground to become a mere list of points for (or against). Players who have the advantage of preparation time should be encouraged to construct complete arguments in advance of the game.

4) Complete the Arguments Started.

The game Tug of Logic allows for the construction of complete and connected consensus arguments, not mere pro and con lists. For this it often, helps for the LR to ask players who have established evidence for their claim what makes that evidence sufficient; alternatively, why is the established premise a warrant for the conclusion. (Hint: the missing premise will share some terms with the established premise and others with the desired conclusion.)

5) Encourage interaction amongst Players.

The LR should instigate dialogue and direct interaction. This can be done by asking questions. For instance, the LR may as a Player, ‘why is this evidence a reason to accept the MainClaim?’ Or the LR may ask players about their votes during the Bout: ‘what makes you think the RiP is established?’;‘why do you contest the RiP? Don’t you see how many other players’ accept it? What have they missed?’. An important question to ask frequently is: can you propose changes to the RiP wording would allow you to accept it?’. Encourage Players to ask these questions themselves of one another, and not to direct their responses to others via you, the Logic Ref.

6) Managing the Flood.

When there are many players, and the have submitted many R2Ps, the task of choosing the first and next reason to play becomes unmanageable. It is difficult to sort premises and plan which to play in what order. In future, there may be technical solutions to this problem of a flood of Reasons-to-Play. But there are several procedural work-arounds that the Logic Referee can deploy.

i) The LR may ask a player who has submitted a long list of reasons to choose the one that is strongest to start with. That is, the problem can to some extent be thrown back on players.

ii) Large games with many players may be best run with the assistance of a Logic Line Judge (LJ) who can focus on managing the flood of R2Ps. In this they may be assisted in this by the PIN function on each player’s card (or ‘quiver’), which moves one of the reasons to the top of the card for easier identification and selection later.

iii) Another strategy for managing the flood of potential reasons to play is to restrict who can submit reasons. This is done by policy (not software), by telling players in advance that only certain players, or small teams (ideally pairs). Short games can be played that give one or two players a chance to develop complete persuasive arguments, with all other players participating in the discussion of the best premise-wording and by voting. It is important in such cases for the LR to actively involve all players in evaluating and reformulating the reasons played to build toward complete valid arguments. As a variation, a short game can be played with two  players (or teams) who take up opposing sides on the MainClaim.

I’m Michael

I’m a writer and philosopher, and now a game developer. This site introduces Tug of Logic, a game and web-app I have created to serve public reasoning.

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