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On the dialectical process and political consensus

The Forward Party's method for identifying and advocating policy positions and building our political agenda to advance the general will of the people.

Image is from the cover of Philosophy of Mathematics: Selected Writings (Selections from the Writings of Charles S. Peirce).


By Joshua Peters

Let’s take inventory of what has been added to the formation of our political project, at least from the perspective of these essays. We embrace liberalism, pragmatism, and pluralism, all rooted in the principle of equality, as the vision of our party. We will continue the political system formulated by our Founding Fathers but consciously diverge from their view on political parties. In doing so, we strive to construct a viable third-party structure within our political system. Our mission is the preservation of individual rights, understood as rights that advance individual liberty, social equality, and human dignity. If there is such a thing as an absolute right, then we put forth the notion that freedom of speech is that absolute right, which unfolds through the dialectic process at the individual level and the democratic process at the societal level. Adopting the idealistic conception of freedom, we maintain that freedom is fundamentally rational.

The aforementioned can be understood as the foundation upon which the Forward Party can build its political agenda. But let’s move forward from philosophical formulation and see what this entails in practice. This begins with the dialectic process to determine the execution of the Forward Party’s political agenda, consistent with the vision and mission to serve the general will of the people.

The purpose of the dialectic process is to generate knowledge to inform cogent policy positions aimed at solving social problems. It is a process that allows for competing perspectives to find a productive compromise, whereby a unified perspective emerges, and there is consensus on the problem and the solution. Together with other policy positions, it comprises our political agenda.

The dialectic process is a methodology for sourcing information from individual beliefs and behaviors based on their personal experience. The end result is a political agenda that constitutes a cogent set of ideas that can be said to serve the general will of the people.

There are three objectives of the dialectic process: to collect, analyze, and interpret data; identify the problem and find practical solutions; and reach consensus. There are three components needed to achieve the objectives: communication of the issues, collaboration to reach an understanding of the problem, and compromise to reach agreement on a solution. Finally, to determine if the objectives were achieved fairly and impartially, I believe three criteria are required: issues are observable, solutions are measurable, and results are testable.


Knowledge as fact

It is critical that we get clear on what is meant by “knowledge” if the dialectic process is said to produce it. The etymology of the word ‘knowledge’ originates from the Old English word ‘cnawlece,’ which can signify the perception of a fact obtained from understanding or disclosure, along with the notion of information in the form of data. It is related to the Old English verb ‘cnawan,’ meaning “to know.” This Old English root is connected to the Proto-Germanic ‘*kunjaną’ or ‘*kunnjaną,’ which specifically means “to know,” reflecting an evolution from the broader sense of ability or capacity to the specific act of knowing.

The term ultimately derives from the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) root ‘*gnō-,’ which denotes “to know.” This PIE root is the source of various terms across Indo-European languages related to knowledge, recognition, and understanding. For instance, it has led to the Latin verb ‘gnoscere’ (to know) and the Greek verb ‘gignōskein’ (γιγνώσκειν), meaning “to know” or “to perceive.” The Latin noun is ‘scientia’ and the Greek noun is ‘episteme’ (ἐπιστήμη), which translates to knowledge. The concept of knowledge, as traced through these linguistic roots, broadly relates to awareness of a fact.

In epistemology (the branch of philosophy concerned with knowledge), we tend to start our analysis from the traditional view, which can be traced back to Plato and Kant, that knowledge is a justified true belief (JTB). For the most part, this is seen as the default account of claiming knowledge of something. JTB applies primarily to propositional knowledge (factual knowledge), which takes the form:

S knows that p if and only if p;

S believes that p;

¬p → S does not believe p; or

p → S believes that p.

However, the famous Gettier problem has proven the traditional view of knowledge to be deficient in that it can be shown that one could be said to have a justified true belief in something but still be false based on the facts of the matter or accidentally true based on the circumstances. The Gettier problem suggests that a complete theory of knowledge may not be possible. Furthermore, epistemic intuitions have been found to vary from culture to culture (Rorty’s cultural relativism) and in socioeconomic status (Haidt’s SES relativism), further moving a complete theory of knowledge out of reach.

Consequently, philosophers tend to maintain a view of knowledge as inferential. This account of knowledge argues that it is the product of deductive, inductive, or abductive inferences from relational propositions that serve as evidence or justification. This notion of knowledge maintains that it is fundamental to human cognition and requires reason, experience, theoretical speculation, and practical judgment based on the facts and circumstances.

So, where does this leave us in our ability to claim knowledge of something? The scope of such a question is beyond this essay, but we can maintain that our quest for knowledge of something for constructing policy positions consists of understanding a problem and being able to produce a solution based on the facts.

The word ‘problem’ comes from the Greek word “problema,” which can be understood as ‘a thing to be done.’ A problem signals that there is no fact of the matter given at present, and therefore it must be discovered. Thus, we must survey issues to discover what the problems are that need to be solved.

The word ‘fact’ comes from the Latin word ‘factum,’ meaning ‘a thing done.’ Facts allow us to demonstrate that we have knowledge of something in that problems can be solved through reason and/or understanding of experience. In this sense, we can say there are facts of reason and facts of experience. Therefore, we acquire knowledge of a thing to be done through surveying issues, and we identify things done (facts) that can be said to solve problems.

Now, the question becomes “How are we to understand these facts?” I will submit that we do so through data. The word ‘data’ comes from the Latin word ‘datum,’ meaning ‘a thing given.’ Data, understood at its basic unit, is a propositional statement, e.g., ‘2 + 2 = 4,’ ‘A triangle has three angles,’ ‘Water is the compound H₂O,’ ‘The Earth orbits the Sun,’ etc. Data allows us to have units of knowledge, which is useful for collecting, analyzing, and interpreting facts in order to formulate solutions to problems in the form of policy positions. The solution to a problem is to be materialized as a fact as understood through data, which in turn allows us to measure the scope of a particular problem and the nature, timing, and extent of the solution to determine if the policy position achieved its goal of advancing the general well-being of individuals in society.

In short, data (a thing given) corresponds to a fact (a thing done); facts correspond to knowledge (to know something); and knowledge allows us to solve problems (a thing to be done).

Data and analysis

Data collection and analysis thereof become critical for constructing knowledge. In data science, there are six properties to consider when analyzing datasets:

  • Volume constitutes the size of the dataset.
  • Validity pertains to the accuracy of the data.
  • Variety indicates the nature of the dataset, whether structured, semi-structured, or unstructured. 
    • Structured: organized and typically follows a tabular format with a clear schema, i.e., length, format, rows, and columns are defined.
    • Semi-Structured: semi-organized data, e.g., JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) files. While they don’t have a strict schema like relational databases, they have a hierarchical structure with key-value pairs, making them more organized than plain text.
    • Unstructured: unorganized data, e.g., natural language text, images, audio, video, etc. This type of data doesn’t have a fixed format, making it challenging to analyze using traditional methods without preprocessing and structuring.
  • Veracity deals with the uncertainty within the dataset.
  • Value assesses the usefulness of the dataset.
  • Variability refers to how often the dataset’s mode changes.

Knowing the volume of the dataset is essential because political agendas need to be based on large amounts of data to be representative and accurate. Large datasets can provide a more comprehensive view of the public's opinions, aiding in the identification of trends, patterns, and issues crucial to the electorate.

Validity pertains to the accuracy and appropriateness of the data in terms of its relevance and applicability to specific questions or issues at hand. Valid data accurately reflects the reality it aims to represent, thereby making it crucial for constructing a political agenda that is truly responsive to practical issues. This involves ensuring that the data used to inform policy positions is not only accurate but also relevant to the political context.

The nature of the dataset—whether structured, semi-structured, or unstructured—affects how data can be analyzed and utilized. Political agendas benefit from a variety of data sources. Structured data provides clear, quantifiable insights crucial for statistical analysis and evidence-based policymaking. This takes the form of a relational database table like online survey responses. Each record contains well-defined fields such as respondent ID, survey question ID, question text, response value, etc. Semi-structured data, like social media interactions, offers nuanced understandings of public sentiment and emerging trends. Unstructured data can be mined for qualitative insights, such as public opinion comments.

The reliability of data is essential. A political agenda based on inaccurate or misleading data can lead to ineffective or counterproductive policies. Ensuring high veracity means that decisions are made on a solid foundation.

Assessing the usefulness of the dataset is key to focusing efforts on what matters most. Not all data are equally relevant to every political agenda. Identifying the most valuable information allows for the prioritization of resources and efforts towards areas with the highest impact on policy.

Understanding the consistency, or lack thereof, in the data aids in anticipating and adapting to changes in public opinion. The notion of variability underscores the importance of maintaining a current and responsive political agenda. Political agendas need to be flexible and adaptable; recognizing and understanding variability in data trends can inform adjustments to policies to stay aligned with the electorate's changing preferences.

These six "V's" of data will be useful for acquiring knowledge to construct a political agenda. While the 6V's provide a structure for utilizing data, understanding the underlying mechanisms that translate data collection into actionable knowledge poses a further challenge. In this context, drawing insights from experimental philosophy offers a promising perspective.

What particularly appeals to me about experimental philosophy is its reliance on surveys and polling to elucidate public opinion—for instance, citing statistics such as “80 percent of respondents stated...”. This approach proves instrumental in gaining insight into prevailing issues, thereby initiating the investigative journey toward viable solutions.

While I am skeptical about experimental philosophy’s capacity to generate meaningful insights regarding the deepening of our understanding of epistemic problems, such as justification, warrantability, intentionality, moral responsibility, and moral judgment, it does hold potential in fields like natural language processing, cognitive psychology, and political science. Its potential lies in understanding how certain terms are perceived based on social factors, such as cultural upbringing and socioeconomic status, as well as delving into public opinion on political issues to grasp the epistemic intuition that aids in understanding the general will of the people.

Experimental philosophy, in its pursuit of greater precision in concept analysis akin to its predecessor, analytic philosophy, can prove useful insofar as understanding opinion polls. It aims to determine the types of questions necessary for analyzing and interpreting facts through data that yield optimal solutions. Explanations from experimental philosophy regarding what a concept references or the contextual understanding of an issue and its relation to perception or intuition based on social factors can be useful to conceptualizing survey results to inform knowledge on policy positions.

While epistemic intuitions can be considered culturally relative, it is not within the purview of a political party or government to determine whether certain cultural attitudes towards the world should inform policy agendas. Knowledge that is deemed culturally relative should be left to cultural discourse and should not directly influence policy development, except to provide contextual perspective. Therefore, no data will be collected for the purpose of incorporating culturally relative perspectives into policy positions.

However, socioeconomic status (SES) plays a pivotal role in policymaking, as it provides valuable insights for enhancing the overall well-being of the populace, tackling challenges such as material hardship, income inequality, and social mobility. Consequently, the following variables will be of primary interest: sex, age, income, employment status, homeownership, and parental/guardian status.

Inferential statistics

The process of transforming data into policy follows a formulaic structure, wherein data serves as the input, the dialectic process acts as the throughput, and policy emerges as the output.

Positioning our political agenda based on insights derived from data allows us to make observations that can be seen as forming a numerical consensus derived from a sample distribution. In statistics, a Gaussian distribution, also known as a normal distribution, is used to represent the probability density function of a random variable, with the expected value or mean corresponding to the center of the distribution peak.

, where x is a random variable.

The normal distribution is defined by two parameters: the peak and the width. These parameters are mathematically determined by the mean (µ) and the standard deviation (σ).

Many naturally occurring phenomena tend to approximate a normal distribution. In quantum mechanics, a cluster of particles with similar momentum tend to form a normal distribution, whereby the expected value of the particle position turns out to be the position of the center of the peak. Due to the general tendency of a sufficiently large number of datapoints to form a normal distribution, shorthand methods like the empirical rule are used for analyzing data, which has immense explanatory power.

Using a normal distribution as the basis for the expected organization of data will allow for the use of statistical techniques to describe (e.g., mean, median, mode, max, and min values) and test (e.g., correlation, p-value, and t-test) inferences.

When data is normally distributed, it can be characterized by its mean and standard deviation, which can be used to make probabilistic statements about the data. For example, if a dataset is normally distributed, we can use the mean and standard deviation to calculate the probability of a certain value occurring within a certain range.

A distribution of datapoints on opinions can be useful in establishing policy positions that center around a consensus. For example, if we are interested in understanding the distribution of a particular population, such as a sample of voters, we could collect data on individual opinions on an issue through surveys by using a Likert scale, whereby respondents rate their level of agreement or disagreement with a set of statements. Their responses could then be organized as a distribution. The distribution will tell us the frequency of responses. By analyzing a distribution, we could gain insights into the prevalence and intensity of different opinions, as well as any patterns or trends that may exist within the sample population based on demographic information. Accordingly, this information will be useful for developing policies that advance the general will of the people.

The accuracy and reliability of any distribution will depend on the quality of the data collected and the methods used to analyze it. Additionally, it depends on the quality of questions asked and the degrees to which opinions can be expressed. Careful consideration should be given to sampling bias, measurement error, leading questions, the type of statistical analysis, and surveying parameters when working with data for the purpose of establishing a policy position.

Nevertheless, the advantage of datapoints that are said to be normally distributed is that we can utilize statistical observations to understand opinions that aggregate to form a consensus. In a normal distribution, the majority (68 percent) of the values are within one standard deviation from the left or right of the mean. This will be the area that will drive inferential knowledge of political consensus, and thus our political agenda.


The discussion around epistemology is fascinating, yet it often remains in the realm of the abstract. To bring the dialectic process into a more concrete form, we need to focus on its essential components. Remember, three key elements are necessary to achieve our objectives: (1) effective communication of the issues, (2) collaboration for a deeper understanding of the problem, and (3) compromise to reach a consensus on the solution.

Communication plays a pivotal role in human cognition and political discourse, enabling the sharing of ideas and cultivating an understanding of diverse perspectives. Clear and open communication is the foundation of productive discourse, which is vital for effective problem-solving.

In the political arena, especially for Forwardists, the ability to articulate perspectives on policy positions is crucial. Effective communication not only builds trust and engagement but also forges a sense of unity towards common objectives. Given the complexity of today's political landscape, the importance of skillful communication cannot be overstated.

When addressing problems, clearly stating the issue and its root causes is critical. This clarity facilitates collaborative efforts towards viable solutions and allows for a thorough evaluation of different approaches to ascertain the most effective outcomes.

Collaboration is essential, not just for the sharing of ideas and consensus-building but also for the collective pursuit of goals that might be unattainable individually. Through the pooling of knowledge and efforts, we can uncover common ground and achieve shared objectives.

Moreover, collaboration serves as a catalyst for innovation and creativity. In a cooperative environment, Forwardists can exchange ideas, explore new methods, and devise innovative solutions to challenges.

Compromise is vital for fostering openness and collaboration. A willingness to compromise increases the likelihood of considering alternate viewpoints and promotes a culture of listening and respect. This openness paves the way for creativity and innovation, encouraging individuals to explore unconventional solutions to complex issues.

In a democratic society, compromise is essential for ensuring that all voices are heard and that decisions reflect the collective best interest. It is the cornerstone of our dialectic and democratic processes, enabling progress by accommodating diverse perspectives and facilitating practical solutions. Without compromise, our ability to advance and innovate stalls, underscoring its critical role in the health and evolution of democratic governance.


To effectively transition from abstract concepts to tangible outcomes, we must ensure that our objectives are achieved through fair and impartial methods. This process necessitates three critical criteria: (1) issues must be observable, (2) solutions must be measurable, and (3) results must be testable.

Observation is the cornerstone of data-driven policymaking, providing the basis for hypothesis generation, theory testing, and the discovery of new insights. It involves the systematic collection of data based on experience, allowing us to identify patterns, connections, and formulate innovative theories. For Forwardists, observation is key to gathering unbiased, objective data on social issues, thereby ensuring the reliability and replicability of policy recommendations. This methodological rigor helps illuminate emerging issues and insights, enabling the development of sound, evidence-backed policies.

Measurability is essential in evaluating policy effectiveness. It transforms assumptions—preconceived notions accepted without proof—into testable propositions. For Forwardists, the ability to measure assumptions against empirical evidence ensures that policy positions are grounded in reality, fostering precise, predictive modeling and clear, reproducible communication. This quantitative approach validates the efficacy of policies and supports continuous improvement based on objective data.

Lastly, testability is a fundamental principle for robust policymaking. Testability corresponds to the principle of falsifiability, as championed by Karl Popper, and is indispensable in the realm of policymaking. It mandates that hypotheses or theories must be structured in such a way that empirical testing can potentially disprove them. This adherence to Popper’s philosophy of science ensures that our policies are not merely based on conjecture but are anchored in empirical evidence and open to rigorous scrutiny. For Forwardists, incorporating falsifiability into our methodology not only underscores a commitment to objectivity and scientific rigor but also facilitates the evolution of policy through the rejection or modification of ideas that fail to withstand empirical testing. By making ideas testable and open to challenge, it fosters a culture of critical inquiry, crucial for the advancement of knowledge and the development of effective, accountable policy solutions.

The Risk of Polarization and Homogenization

Political polarization

Leveraging the normal distribution as a foundation offers the significant advantage of utilizing the empirical rule to discern clear and distinct population segments that likely align with a consensus view. This approach facilitates the identification of viewpoints that the Forward Party and the broader electorate might support, paving the way for the development of pragmatic solutions. Employing the empirical rule to frame our understanding of the spectrum of opinions enables us to delineate boundaries on both the left and right of a distribution, aiming to reduce the impact of extreme political ideologies on our policymaking.

To counteract the influence of extreme political stances, we propose policy guardrails that effectively exclude the far-left and far-right viewpoints from shaping our political agenda. This strategy is grounded in the empirical rule’s alignment with normal distribution principles, where the aim is to exclude outliers and focus policy considerations around the mean, representing the expected or average viewpoint. Hence, our primary focus on establishing consensus will be around 68 percent of the sample distribution of voters.

Our conviction in this methodology is bolstered by an array of data sources illustrating that political orientations tend to follow a normal distribution. For instance, a 2014 Pew Research Center study on political polarization, involving 10,013 adults, revealed that 79% of participants were situated within a two-tailed distribution, indicating that a significant majority of political perspectives are moderate. This suggests that political polarization is primarily driven by a small fraction of the politically active population. Similarly, the Hidden Tribes study highlighted that extreme political activist—comprising about 8% progressives and 6% conservatives—represent a minority. These findings are corroborated by a 2020 Gallup report, which identified a center-right tilt in American ideological views, with the largest groups being conservatives and moderates. This trend is consistent over time and across different demographics, including independents, who predominantly identify as moderate.

In light of these findings, the Forward Party advocates for focusing our policy positions within the 80% of the population that resides between the extreme ends of the political spectrum. By setting boundaries around this segment, we aim to minimize the influence of political polarization while fostering a healthy, productive, and innovative dialogue.

Political homogenization

Furthermore, the Forward Party acknowledges the risk of political homogenization, where a single political ideology may dominate and become intolerant towards differing views. This phenomenon, characterized by a narrow distribution around the center, poses a threat to the diversity of thought within the political landscape. Political homogenization can lead to the marginalization of valid perspectives, skew the interpretation of data, discourage critical skepticism, and create a false consensus through ideological conformity.

Political homogenization arises when a single political ideology dominates, becoming intolerantly dismissive of alternative viewpoints. This dominance within a political entity risk sidelining a variety of valid perspectives by overlooking complementary values, skewing data interpretation, deterring legitimate critique through the threat of retaliation, and achieving consensus through ideological dominance rather than inclusive dialogue.

This phenomenon manifests in a distribution that is narrowly concentrated around the center, indicating a lack of ideological diversity. The Forward Party advocates for a balanced approach through dialectical processes and strategic policy initiatives to pinpoint and counteract trends toward political homogenization. The goal is to implement safeguards that maintain a broad spectrum of viewpoints, preventing the consolidation of power by any single ideological stance.

To combat this, we propose the establishment of upper limits or “ceilings” on the influence of singular ideologies. These measures are designed to preserve the diversity of perspectives and prevent the monopolization of political discourse, ensuring a healthy, dynamic exchange of ideas within our political landscape.


In conclusion, the Forward Party adopts a methodological approach rooted in the dialectical process for crafting its political agenda. This process involves gathering, analyzing, and interpreting data to pinpoint challenges and devise actionable solutions, ultimately striving for consensus. This methodology enables us to substantiate our policy positions with rigorously acquired knowledge.

We organize this dialectical process around key pillars: effective communication to clarify the issues at hand, collaborative efforts to achieve a comprehensive understanding of the problems, and a willingness to compromise in order to forge solutions that command broad agreement. These steps are vital for cultivating a constructive dialogue that transcends mere debate, aiming for practical solutions.

To ensure our policy positions are derived in a manner that is both fair and unbiased, we adhere to principles of observability, measurability, and testability. Outcomes that meet these criteria are then integrated into our political agenda, representing our commitment to informed and balanced decision-making.

Note, once a policy is introduced to our platform, it becomes itself a datapoint for consideration and is subject to reevaluation through the dialectic process. This means the mechanism we have established is subject to change and evolve as new information becomes available. This embodies the Japanese philosophy of kaizen, meaning continuous improvement.

Moreover, to safeguard against the risks of polarization and ideological homogenization, we implement guardrails and ceilings. These mechanisms are designed to prevent consensus from being swayed by the most extreme or coercive forces, thereby promoting a more inclusive and moderate political discourse.

When taking everything that has been said on the whole, one finds it takes the following form as illustrated in the diagram below.

Luke 6:47-49 (ESV) reminds us,

Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.

Through these efforts, the Forward Party seeks to cultivate a political environment where consensus is built on the solid ground of reasoned argument, empirical evidence, and mutual respect, rather than the shifting sands of partisanship and dogmatism.

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