Below are guidelines* to help promote respectful, constructive, inclusive and interesting discussions.

1. Come prepared
  A. If possible, do the reading prior to attending the meeting.
  B. Consider bringing some of your own observations, responses and questions regarding the readings to help promote better discussion.
2. Be respectful
  A. Be nice.
  B. Don’t interrupt.
  C. Don’t present objections as flat dismissals. (Leave open the possibility that there’s a response.)
  D. Don’t be incredulous. (Don’t roll your eyes, make faces, laugh at a participant, etc., especially to others on the side.)
  E. Don’t start side conversations parallel to the main discussion.
  F. Acknowledge the other person’s insights.
  G. Object to theses; don’t object to people.
  H. Be aware of tone. Try to communicate in a kind and respectful way.
3. Be constructive
  A. Reasoned objections are, of course, welcome, but it’s also always okay to be constructive, to build on a speaker’s project or to strengthen their position. Even objections can often be cast in a constructive way.
  B. When an objection critiques a position, it often helps to find and express a positive insight suggested by that objection.
  C. If you find yourself thinking that the other person’s position or project is worthless and there is nothing to be learned from it, think twice before commenting or asking your question.
  D. It’s okay to question the presuppositions of an argument or project, but discussions in which those questions dominate can be unhelpful.
  E. You don’t need to keep pressing the same objection (individually or collectively) until the speaker says uncle.
  F. Remember that philosophy isn’t a zero-sum game: there can often be multiple “right” or useful points of view. (Related version: Philosophy isn’t “Fight Club.”)
4. Be inclusive
  A. Don’t dominate the discussion (partial exception for the speaker).
  B. Raise one question per question. (Follow-ups are okay, but questions on different topics should go to the back of the queue.)
  C. Try not to let your question (or your answer) run on forever.
  D. Acknowledge points made by previous contributors/questioners.
  E. It’s okay to ask a question that you think may be unsophisticated or uninformed.
  F. Don’t use unnecessarily offensive examples.

* This list was adapted from guidelines developed by Prof. David Chalmers; see: See, also, Prof. Dan Dennett’s “Four Steps to Arguing Intelligently.”