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Principles of Debate & Argumentation

Debate & Fallacies
by

Patrick Mesisca

on 29 June 2016

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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
DEBATE PROPOSITIONS SHOULD BE ...
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
FIRST STEP IN EVERY DEBATE:

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
Status Quo: the existing state of affairs; the way it currently stands
AVOID STATUS QUO IN DEBATE!

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
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
FALLACIES
1. WHAT IS A FALLACY?
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
2. HOW TO EXPOSE A FALLACY:
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
FALLACIES TO AVOID
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 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 some of the parts."
A. Example:
1. A Boeing 747 can fly unaided across the ocean.
2. A Boeing 747 has jet engines
3. Therefore, one of its jet engines can fly unaided across the ocean
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!
11. GENETIC FALLACY
"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.
12. GUILT BY ASSOCIATION
"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.


B. Example: (Humor) - "I do my best work, when people don't believe in me" - (Michael Scott, The Office)
The Office - full of humorous non sequitur jokes!
14. POISONING THE WELL
"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: Don't listen to him because he is a loser.
15. Red Herring
"Introducing a topic not related to the subject at hand"
A. Example: I know your car is not working right. But if you had gone to the grocery store one day earlier, you would not be having problems.

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.
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