Philosophy of Computer Science

Suggestions and Guidelines
for Peer-Group Editing
of Position Paper #5

Last Update: 12 April 2007

Note: NEW or UPDATED material is highlighted

  1. When you get into your small groups, introduce yourselves quickly, and share copies of your papers with each other.

  2. Choose one paper to discuss first.
    (Suggestion: Go in alphabetical order by family name.)

  3. After spending about 10–15 minutes on the first paper, move on to the next, going back to step (2) above, changing roles.
    Spend no more than 15 minutes per paper (because you've only got about 45 minutes at most).
    Perhaps one member of the group can be a timekeeper.

  4. Suggestion: There are really 2 arguments in this dialogue: Pro's argument and Con's argument.
    So, the first task is to present each argument.
    Once you have identified the premises (including any hidden premises) and conclusion of each argument, you can then analyze it for validity of the argument and truth of the premises.

  5. For each paper in your peer-editing group, ask as many of the following questions as you have time for:

    1. Did the author present both Pro's and Con's arguments?

    2. For each argument, did the author state whether and why s/he believes the argument to be valid?

      • It's possible to formulate both arguments so that they are valid!
      • If you do that, then ascertaining the truth value of the premises becomes your central task.

    3. For each argument, did the author state whether and why s/he agrees with the premises?

    4. For each argument, if the author believed either that the argument was invalid
      (even with missing premises added—i.e., that there was no way to make the argument valid)
      or that one or more of the premises was false, then did the author state whether and why s/he agrees with the conclusion?

      • Reminder:

        1. If you think an argument is sound, then you are logically obligated to believe its conclusion
          (and you don't have to give any other justification for the conclusion).

        2. If you don't believe the conclusion of an argument, then it is either invalid or else has at least one false premise;
          you must identify which, and explain why.

        3. If you think an argument is unsound (either because it is invalid or has at least one false premise),
          then you might still believe the conclusion for other reasons;
          in that case, you must give those other reasons.

  6. Remember!: Your revised paper must have the appropriate heading at the top of the first page, must use the terms "true", "false", "valid", and "invalid" appropriately, and must have your peer-edited first drafts attached! See Position Paper 5 for details and penalties!

  7. Keep a written record of the questions and replies.
    This will be useful to the author, for revision.

  8. At home, over the next week, please revise your paper to take into consideration the comments made by your fellow students (i.e., your "peers"):
    Perhaps defend your claims better, or clarify statements that were misunderstood, etc.
    For help, see me.

Copyright © 2004–2010 by William J. Rapaport (