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THE DYNAMICS OF DISCUSSION
Communication Activity #2

Constructing Discussion

Picture a situation in which you are expressing philosophical ideas from your own belief system and someone else responds with unconstructive language.

Step One: In your first message:
a) Briefly present (i.e., state) some central claims and ideas from your own belief system.
b) Describe the unconstructive response(s) you received from others to these claims.
c) Identify and explain your purpose in the discussion.
d) Describe the effect that the unconstructive language has on the discussion and on you.

Post this first message in your own Framework area.

Step Two: Read at least one message from people who have chosen different frameworks than you (there are four other groups).
Post a reply to each of those other four in which you respond constructively to their central claims and ideas. Recall that a constructive discussion does not have to be agreeable or timid. You may fairly and constructively disagree and point out errors or confusions in another's reasoning. But you must make an honest effort to show that you understand their points and position. You must resolve to stick to the issue that they have set. And you must avoid unconstructive language and techniques that undermine the growth of dialogue. Be sure to include a statement of your purpose in a discussion of this sort.

Step Three: Read all of the responses to your own original message (Step One). Reply to these if you wish. Do you think that this exchange is the start of a constructive or unconstructive discussion? How does it compare to previous experiences with discussion on these issues? Make sure that you write about this experience in your Journal.

 

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