Rights, Responsibilities, Rules, and Rewards
For participants in Tea With Socrates and Socrates Cafe.
(as proposed by Steve Donaldson. Your feedback is welcome.)


"Socrates" Bill of Rights

  1. You have the right to participate.
  2. You have the right to be heard.
  3. You have the right to remain silent.
  4. You have the right to be treated with respect.
  5. You have the right to express contrary opinions.
  6. You have the right to be free from intimidation and personal attack.
  7. You have the right to change your mind.
  8. You have the right to say "I don't know".
  9. You have the right to speak up in defense of your rights.
  10. You have the right to question anything (including these rights).


"Socrates" Bill of Responsibilities

  1. You have a responsibility to respect and defend the rights of others.
  2. You have a responsibility to encourage the participation of others.
  3. You have a responsibility to listen without interrupting or engaging in side conversations.
  4. You have a responsibility to wait your turn before speaking.
  5. You have a responsibility to speak loud and clear so others can hear.
  6. You have a responsibility to limit your turn to a reasonable length.
  7. You have a responsibility to stay on topic.
  8. You have a responsibility to avoid personal attacks, criticism, and name-calling.
  9. You have a responsibility to keep a sense of humor.
  10. You have a responsibility to help others live up to their responsibilities.


Rules of Engagement

  1. Wait to be called on before speaking.
  2. Yield to the moderator after speaking.
  3. Address the whole group when speaking.
  4. Speak loud and clear so others can hear.
  5. Stay on topic.
  6. Refrain from one-on-one debates.
  7. Refrain from interrupting or engaging in side conversations.
  8. Refrain from personal attack, criticism, and name-calling.
  9. Refrain from using hostile tone of voice or intimidating body language.
  10. Refrain from absolute statements and grand generalizations.


Rewards of Involvement

  1. You stand to gain increased understanding and insight.
  2. You stand to gain intellectual stimulation.
  3. You stand to gain new perspectives.
  4. You stand to gain the opportunity to be heard.
  5. You stand to gain the opportunity influence others.
  6. You stand to gain motivation to organize your thoughts.
  7. You stand to gain practice in articulating your ideas.
  8. You stand to gain feedback for your thoughts and feelings.
  9. You stand to gain the experience of group thinking.
  10. You stand to gain the fellowship of others.






Feedback

On 6/5/03 at 6:06 AM Scott wrote:

Steve,

Since you have invited feedback on your list of “Rights, Responsibilities, Rules, and Rewards,” I’d like to offer mine.

I think the Bill of Rights is very appropriate.

I don’t like some items in the Bill of Responsibilities, however. Since one has a right to remain silent (Right #3), it should follow that no active participation in any form is obligatory upon anyone. No one should be required to “encourage the participation of others” (Responsibility #2) or “help others live up to their responsibilities” (Responsibility #10). If these “responsibilities” were instead called “suggestions,” meaning that adherence to them is strictly voluntary, then there would be no conflict with the right to remain silent (which is, I think, an important right).

The Rules of Engagement are mostly reasonable, but Rule #10, as written, is not. It states, “Refrain from absolute statements and grand generalizations.” The rule itself seems to depend on a grand generalization -- namely, that ALL grand generalizations should be avoided! Therefore, the rule is self-contradictory. But more importantly, if ever enforced, the rule would stifle philosophical discussion and inquiry. Do claims such as “all knowledge is sensory-based,” “all religions are irrational,” and “all life is sacred” count as absolute, grand generalizations? I think they do. And I think they are all potentially worth discussing. “Anyone who disagrees with me is a Nazi” is also an absolute, grand generalization. I think this is the sort of thing you’re trying to caution against. Maybe the rule could be reformulated to state something like, “Refrain from making dogmatic or prejudicial statements.” But now that I see the text on my computer screen, I don’t think such a formulation would work. In my view, any claim based on “faith” (i.e., any claim that lacks supporting evidence in reality) is dogmatic and prejudicial, and I don’t think an open forum such as this one should proscribe against faith-based expressions; their irrationality can be dealt with in the open. Actually, I think Rule #8 (“Refrain from personal attack, criticism, and name-calling”) covers the Nazi example, so no new rule should be needed. Now if it were up to me, I’d delete “criticism” from Rule #8. Criticism can be a good thing and should, I believe, be tolerated provided that it doesn’t descend into “personal attack” and “name-calling.”

These are my thoughts. I hope you find some of them useful.

-Scott

Share your thoughts, observations, and questions here. I can't promise to post every message, but I will read each one and I will post as many as I feel are appropriate and helpful to the discussion.
Subject:

Your name (optional)
Your email address (if you would like a response from me)
Permission to post all or part of the message or a summary thereof: Yes No