A major annoyance in any philosophical discussion are those people who evade direct legitimate questions.  Evasion is standard operating procedure in politics.  But when the purpose of a discussion is to find and expose truth, evasion is counterproductive.  Those of us who are truth seekers will find no reason not to take a


I, [ your name ], hereby pledge that I will not evade any proper question in any philosophical discussion.  I will not ask, "Where are you going with this?" because the answer to a philosophical question remains the same regardless of where the questioner is going.  I will not answer a similar question and pretend I answered your question.  I will answer any proper yes-or-no question with either yes, no, or I don't know, and will elaborate if desired.  If asked, "Does A = B or not-B?" I will not evade by saying, "A = C."  I will not answer a "why" question with "why not?".  I will simply admit I don't know.  If I find a question improper, I will state why it is improper, and pledge to answer it when rephrased in proper form.

Definition of improper:
  1. logically unanswerable (nonsensical or paradoxical)
  2. containing unresolved ambiguities relevant to the answer
  3. based on a false assumption
    (e.g.  Have you stopped beating your wife?)
  4. tangential to the subject being discussed
  5. divulging personal info about other people
  6. endangering me or someone else in some way other than to expose our errors
  7. a 3rd party interruption to a 2 person discussion in progress
  8. an irrelevant question asked just to prove an exception to the rule
  9. a barrage of questions, which if answered would result in branching, and cause accelerating complication
  10. a hydra-headed expanding series of questions asked just to prove you can ask more questions than an opponent can answer
  11. an apparently sincere question from a person who has already proven to be a time wasting game player
    (I reserve the right to terminate a time-wasting discussion.)

However, since something important may have been overlooked, I reserve the right to modify this pledge or back out, after stating my reasons for doing so.

To take this pledge, simply make it known to the other members of your group that you are taking it.  Note who is made uncomfortable by it.  You may reassure them that it imposes no obligation on them to do likewise.

This pledge is no big deal to a person who normally operates this way.  The only people who choose to evade or remain silent when properly questioned on their position are those who have something to fear from a straight answer, either politically, or because a straight answer would expose a defect in their position.

The pledge is not without loopholes.  A person who takes it can easily circumvent it by claiming the equivalent of "national security" or by claiming that any question is ambiguous until all terms are perfectly defined, and then requiring definitions of all terms in the definitions.  But the pledge at least exposes dishonorable tactics as dishonorable.

Oh!   And here's a corollary.

Anyone who drops a philosophical email discussion without stating a reason for doing so admits defeat.