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Principles of Debate & Argumentation

Debate & Fallacies

Patrick Mesisca

on 6 March 2018

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Transcript of Principles of Debate & Argumentation

Principles of Debate & Argumentation
I. Create a debatable Proposition

A. Do not debate topics (abortion) ... BUT
Debate Propositions: (the termination of a fetus from a woman's womb with intent to destroy is immoral)
B. Affirmative side is "For" the proposition as stated

C. The negative side is "Against" the proposition as stated
A. controversial

B. have one central theme (do not include "and" in a debate proposition)

C. avoid emotionally loaded words in a proposition that would sway a judge prior to hearing an argument

D. phrase must be clear - avoid ambiguous terms
be precise is the statement
Practice Exercise: Take the following three topics and create a debatable proposition:
a) abortion
b) the cost of a college education
c) technology in schools

1. Define terms
The definition of terms is an essential part of debate. In some instances, the opposition (negation) will agree on definitions and the debate moves on to Contentions.

In other cases, the debate is centralized on definitions such that whoever convinces the judge that his or her definitions are best for the debate WINS!
Remember to define all of the terms in the debated proposition.
Status Quo: the existing state of affairs; the way it currently stands

A - The affirmative must seek to change status quo by affirming the proposition

B - The negative must seek to change status quo by negating
- No need to debate issues where everyone agrees on or is comfortable with the current state of affairs
Evidence: the raw material of argumentation
Evidence consists of facts, opinions, and objects that generate proof.

Reasoning + Evidence = Conclusions
* Remember to cite your sources of evidence in debates and speeches to give credibility and avoid plagiarism
1. What if opponent asks for a card or evidence?

2. Why is evidence called a card in debate?
* Remember: one cannot critically evaluate an idea without weighing out the evidence
A - any unsound mode of arguing, which appears to demand our conviction, and to be decisive of the question in hand, when in fairness it is not
1. Do not say, "My opponent committed the fallacy of circular reasoning"

2. Do - show how the fallacy being used is an illogical form of argumentation then present a more reasonable argument free of fallacies
1. Ad Hominem -
"attacking the individual instead of the argument."

A. Example: "You are stupid, your argument could not possibly be true."

B. Example: "I figured you could not possibly be right so I ignored your comment."
C. Any name calling
2. Appeal to Force
"telling the hearer that something bad will happen to him if he does not accept the argument."
A. Example: "If you don't want to get beat up, you will agree with what I say"

B. Example: "Convert or die"
C. "I'm gonna tell on you"
3.Appeal to Pity
"Appeal to emotion or sympathy in order to urge the listener to accept your argument"
A. Example: "You owe me big time because I defended you last time"

B. Example: "If you were only in that situation, you would have done the same thing"
4.Appeal to the Popular/Majority
"Urging a person to accept a position because the majority hold it"
A. Example: "The majority of students like soda, therefore soda is good."
B. Example: "Everyone else is doing it, why shouldn't you?"
5. Appeal to Tradition
"Convincing someone that something is true or right just because it was always done that way before"
A. Example: "We should not have musical instruments in our worship service because we have always had acappella worship."
B. Example: "This is the way its always done. Therefore it is right!"
6. Begging the Question
"Assuming the thing to be true that you are trying to prove"
A. Example:
1. God exists because the Bible says so
2. The Bible is inspired
3. Therefore, God exists
B. Example: see Moroni 10:4 - Mormon argument
7. Cause and Effect
"Assuming that the effect is related to a cause because the events occur together"
A. Example: When the rooster crows, the sun rises. Therefore, the rooster causes the sun to rise.
* Remember, correlation is not causation
8. Fallacy of Division
"Assuming that what is true of the whole is true for the parts."
A. Example:
1. The car is blue, therefore the engine is blue.

2. Your family is weird, therefore you are weird too.
9. Fallacy of Equivocation
"Using the same term in an argument in different places but the word has different meanings"
A. Example: A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Therefore, a bird in the hand is worth more than President Bush.
B. Example: Evolution states that one species can change into another.
We see that cars have evolved into different styles.
Therefore, since evolution is a fact in cars, it is true in species.
10. False Dilemma
"Giving two choices (either / or) when in reality there could be more choices possible."
A. Example: You either did knock the glass over or your sister did. Which is it?
(Uh, Someone else did?)
* Note: this happens too often in interrogation rooms!
"Attempting to endorse or disqualify a claim because of the origin or irrelevant history of the claim.
A. Example: The Nazi regime developed the Volkswagon Beetle.
Therefore, you should not buy a Volkswagon Beetle.
Because look who started it.
B. Frank just got out of jail this year.
It was Frank's idea to open a store.
Therefore, we should not open the store because I do not
trust Frank.
"Rejecting an argument or claim because the person proposing it likes someone whom is disliked by another"
A. Example: Hitler loved his mother. Hitler was bad. Therefore, loving your mother is bad.
B. Example: Your friend is a thief, therefore I cannot trust you.
13. Non Sequitur -
"Comments or information that do not logically follow from a premise or the conclusion."
A. Example: We all know why it rained today. Because I washed my car.

"Presenting negative information about a person before he/she speaks so as to discredit the person's argument"
A. Example: Frank is pompous, arrogant, and thinks he knows everything. So let's hear what Frank has to say about the subject.

B. Example: If you vote affirmative then you will not have to come back tomorrow and judge another round of debate because I am undefeated. But if you vote for the negation then my opponent and I will be tied and you all will have to come back tomorrow to judge another round of debates!
15. Red Herring
"Introducing a topic not related to the subject at hand"
A. Example: In a formal debate on the topic of God's existence, the atheist brought up controversial passages in the Bible to try to show the Bible is flawed. The Christian pointed out the red herring - Bible passage problems are interesting to discuss and deal with biblical inerrancy and infallibility but not relevant to the topic of God's existence.

B. Example: We need to strengthen the requirements for students to graduate. After all, teachers still need a raise next year.
* Note: When you redirect the subject of discussion to an irrelevant topic, you commit red herring. Be honest, how many of you have done this in some of your discussion-based classes?
16. Special Pleading (Double-standard)
"Apply a standard to anther that is different from a standard applied to oneself"
A. Example: Those rules don't apply to me because I am older than you.
B. Example: "Building walls instead of bridges is not a Christian action" - Pope Francis

* MATTHEW 7:2 -- "For by the standard you judge, you will be judged, and the measure you use will be the measure you receive."
17. Straw Man
"Producing an argument about a weaker representation of the truth and attacking it"
A. Example: We know that evolution is false because we did not evolve from monkeys.

B. Example:
Person A - Violent video games provide a healthy outlet for young people in an aggressive society.

Person B - If you support violent video games, then you must also support gun violence in schools. Because gun violence in schools is wrong, you should reject participation in violent video games.
18. Deny a Valid Conclusion
"when someone admits or cannot refute the premises of the opponent, yet denies the conclusion that logically follows from these premises."
* Note: If each of the premises leading up to the conclusion are true, then the conclusion that logically follows must be true.
A. Example: we do not deny valid conclusions in mathematics so why would we in logical arguments.
B. Example:
1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe had a cause.
Uh, where does the Pope live? V__________ C ______
C. Donald Trump accused Ted Cruz of not acting like a Christian because of lies, but decried the Pope's accusation that Mr. Trump was not a Christian because he wants to build a wall.
Definition: attributing a property
to something that could not possibly have that property. Attributing that facts of one kind are also facts to another kind.
1. Example: Blue sleeps better than my wife.
(Colors do not sleep)

2. Example: Well if the universe had a cause, then God must also need a cause.
(the universe is contingent and God is necessary; the finite universe does not have the same attributes as the infinite God.)
Directions: Find one real life example of each fallacy in tfound in the media. Use the internet, TV, movies, or printed material to illustrate your real life example of each of the 20 fallacies. You must cite the source.

I think we’re all guilty of this one, if only because it helps us feel we can make a little more sense of the world. It means that because something happened often during a period of time, it will happen less often in the future, or vice versa.

1. Example: Like a gambler thinking that because he’s lost 15 times in a row, he’s bound to start winning (hey, they named it the Gambler’s Fallacy for a reason).

20. Gambler's Fallacy
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