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Debate Case Development
Transcript of Debate Case Development
Locating the Immediate Cause
Why is there interest or concern about the controversy expressed in the proposition?
Was there a stimulus to inspire such attention? (such as a court case, a news story, a recent discovery?)
What are people saying about the issue?
Investigating the History
Every controversy has a history.
Investigating this history provides you with the pertinent information that will help you understand the field of argumentation, presumption, and the proposition.
This deeper understanding will strengthen your argument.
Defining Key Terms
Defining terms in the proposition clarifies meaning.
A failure in clarifying terms is an invitation to misunderstanding and poor analysis.
The definition of key terms can become a contested part of your argument -- be prepared to defend your definitions.
Determining the Issues
Each type of claim (fact, value, policy) has certain "stock issues" that must be explored.
What questions must be answered?
What evidence exists to support your case?
What evidence exists to support the opposition?
Putting together the "argumentative package" that advocates or opposes a proposition.
Discover and analyze the issues central to the controversy, identified by the wording of the proposition.
Collecting, processing, and organizing your research.
Propositions of fact:
What information confirms or denies the probability of a proposition?
Propositions of Value:
What are the criteria for evaluation?
How does the "value object" measure up to those criteria?
Propositions of Policy:
Why is change needed?
How does the proposed policy resolve the reason for change?
What are the consequences of the proposed change?
The high cost of college textbooks is a consequence of the market for used textbooks.
Student’s experience with textbook purchases,
State and federal legislative hearings on textbook costs,
The passage of federal law to mandate earlier selection of textbooks by college teachers and consideration of cost.
The emergence of college bookstores
The practice of selling back textbooks to bookstores,
Tracking the escalating costs of textbooks over the past four decades,
The growth of used textbook providers on the Web,
The rising popularity of eBooks.
Definition of key terms:
"High cost" – price of college textbooks compared to pricing of other categories of books.
"Market for used textbooks" – student demand for used texts that cost less than new ones.
"Consequence of" – the role of college bookstores in influencing the pricing of new and used college textbooks.
The prices of both new and used college textbooks are influenced by the pricing practices of college bookstores.
College bookstores make a substantial profit on the sale of used textbooks.
Publishers are forced to keep prices high on new books and to bring out updated editions more frequently because they do not make any revenue on the sale of used textbooks.
But, what about other contributing factors? How will I counter those?
The price of a college textbook is established by the publisher, not the college bookstore.
Publishers are making plenty of profit from new book sales.
The owner of a used textbook has the right to sell it.
College bookstores are being shut out by the direct sale of electronic books promoted by publishers and so they have to rely on used book sales.
How will I counter the advocate's claims?
The sale of used textbooks by college bookstores are not to blame for high textbook prices.
Factual proposition: The nation-state of Greece has the right of ownership of the Elgin Marbles
Lord Elgin had legal permission, a document called a "firman," to remove the sculptures from the Parthenon.
Questions exist about whether the firman was valid legal permission under Ottoman-Turkish law at the time of the removals.
The marbles are a symbol of Western civilization and no one entity can be said to own a public monument that is central to so many contemporary nations.
The marbles are undeniably Greek in origin and are the cultural patrimony of the Greek nation-state.
Value Proposition: The new Acropolis Museum in Athens is the best site for the Elgin Marbles.
It provides state-of-the-art facilities for the conservation and display of the marbles.
Athens is a major travel destination.
It will reunite the Elgin Marbles with other Parthenon artifacts so visitors can appreciate the pieces together, as a whole.
The museum overlooks the Parthenon, providing a context for the marbles.
Policy Proposition: The British Museum should restore the Elgin Marbles collection to Greece.
The marbles were created in Greece for Athenians, by Athenians. There is no confusion regarding their origin. Thus, they are Greece's cultural patrimony.
The Trustees of the British Museum are empowered by the British Museum Act of 1963 to lend items from the collections for public display at institutions both inside and outside the United Kingdom.
Their return would revive tourism in Greece, contributing to the economy.
(Will need to explain the details - loaned for how long, how much would it cost to ship the marbles, etc.)
Proposition: Each state should implement a "fat tax" on unhealthy foods.
The sale of used textbooks by college bookstores drives up the costs of all textbooks.
Proposition: The South Carolina General Assembly should vote against the Charleston University Act.
Reading Response #5:
Come up with an example of a controversial issue that people debate.
If you were constructing an argument about this issue, why would it be important to "locate the immediate cause of concern" and "investigate the history"?