The Socratic method is a way of having better arguments. It is a method to systematically validate underlying presumptions, in a conversational style. I want to look at one specific part of this method today: socratic questioning.

Socratic questioning is focussed on fundamental concepts and principles. It is a great tool to know how to apply these categories of questions when someone poses an idea:

  • Clarify their thinking: Could you elaborate a bit more on that? What are you saying …? Could you explain further?
  • Challenge assumptions: Why do you think this assumption holds here? Is … really the case?
  • Challenging evidence: Is there reason to doubt (or trust) this evidence? What do you know about the origin of this evidence?
  • Explore alternative viewpoints: Is there anyone that sees this differently? What are counter-arguments you found?
  • Implications and consequences: But if … happened, how would that turn out? If you would do …, how would that affect …?
  • Question the question: Why was this question important? Which of your questions turned out to be the most useful? Why did you ask this specific question?