I'll start with 'Thanks!' for offering your thoughts about the process of communication, and some factors that contribute to miscommunication and/or conflicting views.

I have some initial, half-baked reactions, not necessarily or entirely critical:

You state- "When two people have highly divergent premises and evidence used in their thinking, they can oftentimes come to extremely different conclusions."

My response- When two people begin with different premises and rely on differing types or standards of evidence, what appears to be discussion or argument between them is in reality two people talking past each other. Shared premises, and at least a provisional consensus about what constitutes 'legitimate' and 'relevant' evidence, are prerequisites for meaningful discussion can occur about a substantive matter, something that may be subject to disagreement. Accordingly, when there is apparent disagreement or miscommunication, we do well to inquire/determine if in fact we and our interlocutor are operating from different premises and evidence. (Side note- two people can hold different premises and rely on different standards of evidence, but still arrive at the same conclusion, which suggests that we need to be careful about assuming that shared views/conclusions on any particular subject implies shared basic premises.)

I think many of us, much of the time, don't reflect enough, and make explicit enough (to ourselves and others) what our premises are, and what we might take to be 'legitimate' and 'relevant' evidence. Revisiting our premises and evidence, subjecting them to scrutiny, can be unsettling, because given a second or third look, they aren't always as solid as we imagined.

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I really like this entry! In think your metaphor about stand of thought is a useful one for organizing an argument!

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