How To Reasonwell

Your Identity

Once you sign in, choose Settings from the Me menu at the top of any page. There you can choose a username and enter your profile details. Your profile and all the opinions you enter are visible on the web at, just like on Twitter.

You are welcome to use your real name or a pseudonym. Your email address is never revealed publicly.

Getting Started in a Debate

When you first start using Reasonwell you will notice that all of the claims and arguments entered by others are shown in orange. Orange means you have not yet entered an opinion. If you agree with a claim or accept an argument, it becomes black for you. If you disagree with a claim or reject an argument, it becomes red. You can always change your opinion later.

To get involved in a debate, find a claim of interest to you, and enter an opinion on it by checking the Agree or Disagree checkbox. Then accept or reject the supporting and opposing arguments that are listed beneath it, or enter your own arguments to explain the reasons underlying your opinion.

When you enter a new argument, each premise you write should be a single sentence stating a claim that makes sense on its own. Sometimes people will encounter those claims without the context of the argument in which you entered it, so references to “this” or “that” would be ambiguous out of context. This often means repeating yourself in a way that feels awkward at first, but that’s normal in argument mapping.

Your Inbox

At the top of every page on Reasonwell is a link to your inbox. Your inbox shows proposed arguments that challenge the opinions you have entered. When you accept or reject an argument, it is dismissed from your inbox. The Inbox link has an orange badge showing the number of items that remain unaddressed. To keep up with an evolving debate, try to keep your inbox empty. If in doubt about what to do next, go to your inbox.

Reasonwell will send you notifications by email of new items in your inbox. You can choose which kinds of activity should send email notifications by choosing Settings from the Me menu at the top of any page. If you no longer wish to receive notifications relating to a particular claim, you can uncheck “Show new arguments in Inbox” on the page for that claim.

Accepting and Rejecting Arguments

Arguments are ranked by the number of people who accept them. By accepting an argument, your vote contributes towards pushing it a little higher up the list. The idea is that the best arguments will appear at the top.

If you reject an argument, you are prompted to say why. You might reject an argument because:

  • You disagree with a premise
  • You believe the argument relies on an unstated assumption that is false
  • The argument is flawed in some way, i.e. it commits a logical fallacy

If you disagree with a premise then your inbox will show arguments that support the premise. If you state that an argument relies on an assumption that is false, your inbox will show arguments that support the assumption being true.

Defending Arguments

If you accept an argument and someone else rejects it and gives a reason for doing so, that criticism of the argument appears in your inbox. If they propose an argument opposing a premise, that appears in your inbox just like for any other claim with which you agree. If they state a new assumption that they believe the argument relies on, that assumption appears in your inbox. If they describe a flaw in the argument, that flaw appears in your inbox.

To defend the argument against a proposed incorrect assumption, you can either reject the notion that the argument relies on that assumption, or you can argue that the assumption’s claim is not incorrect.

To defend the argument against a proposed flaw, you can reject the assertion that the flaw exists and is fatal to the argument.

In all these cases, if the criticism is valid you can edit the argument to address it, or you can change your opinion and reject the argument.

Strong Opinions Loosely Held

On Reasonwell you are encouraged to have “strong opinions loosely held.” That means taking a position for or against rather than sitting on the fence, while staying open to the possibility of changing your opinion if persuaded by good arguments.

This is not to say you must have an opinion on everything. But when you engage with a particular debate, stay abreast by accepting or rejecting new arguments to maintain an empty inbox. Make all that orange stuff go away.

Start A New Debate

The Reasonwell community is just getting started, and the range of topics and arguments represented on the site is far from comprehensive. We need keen beans like you to bring new debates to Reasonwell. When you encounter a contentious claim or an interesting argument in other online media or elsewhere, bring it to Reasonwell. From the front page select “Make a new claim” to get started.

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