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Idea on debate





Bikerman
I've been kicking around an idea I had some time ago, and now seems like a good time to suggest it.
Basically I've been thinking that it would be interesting to setup a formal debate - where two people take oppositional positions and the 'audience' puts questions to either.
It could be structured as :
Initial vote on a proposition followed by:
a) Initial post in support of proposal
b) Initial post in opposition to proposal
a) Rebuttal/response
b) Rebuttal/response
then questions to either from anyone for a fixed number of postings and a final vote on the proposition.

It would be interesting to see if the traditional 'formal debate' could translate to this medium successfully..
watersoul
Sounds a good idea and kind of reminds me of debating sessions back in my school days.

The only concern I would have is the technical issue of how to prevent people 'jumping in' or making a reply out of turn?
Bikerman
watersoul wrote:
Sounds a good idea and kind of reminds me of debating sessions back in my school days.

The only concern I would have is the technical issue of how to prevent people 'jumping in' or making a reply out of turn?

Well, that would be good practice for members in not feeding trolls. Just ignore any such interventions.
Afaceinthematrix
Generally, in a debate, you have some time control. You're given a certain amount of time to respond and state your point. How is that going to work here? Will you be given a character limit when typing your response? Furthermore, how do you prevent people from taking all sorts of extra time to go out and research a position and get other people's rebuttals towards it?

Would we set up a schedule for submitting your posts? Maybe, both parties upload their arguments on January 1 (for example) at a neutral site (I can set one up if you wish) where they cannot see the other argument. Then you, since you're the moderator, post both of these arguments up here at the same time (or actually, we do not even need the 3rd party site - they can PM you or any other volunteer). Then, both rebuttals are due by January 2nd in the same fashion (PM, 3rd party site, whatever we decide). Then everyone is given maybe 2 days to post their questions here and then a deadline is set to handle questions.

I can see it maybe working if we have a strict schedule. And maybe, to prevent the trolls, everyone PM's their questions to you and you keep a locked thread? We can iron out some details and I am sure other people will have good ideas on how to handle this...
ocalhoun
Afaceinthematrix wrote:
Generally, in a debate, you have some time control. You're given a certain amount of time to respond and state your point. How is that going to work here? Will you be given a character limit when typing your response? Furthermore, how do you prevent people from taking all sorts of extra time to go out and research a position and get other people's rebuttals towards it?

I don't really see the extra time for thinking and researching as a problem, since both sides have the same advantage.
In my opinion, it actually gives the debate a better quality, since more thought goes into responses, and any false facts can be exposed.
That said, in lieu of a time limit, a post-length limit may be a good idea, as it would help to keep a lengthy debate readable. (and force debaters to be concise)
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As for people replying out of turn, just like a real debate would have a moderator, simply assign a (non involved) moderator to this debate... With the extra advantage that out-of-turn responses can be erased, and over-length posts can be cut short.
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Not sure about the idea of an audience though... Seems like it may be hard to keep the attention of an audience in this medium. Might be better to arrange for questions to be determined beforehand... You could have a separate topic for that, where people can suggest questions to be addressed. The same questions could even be re-used for different pairs of debaters.
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In addition to the P&R forum, this formal debate experiment may also work well in the politics forum.
Bikerman
OK, let's make this live then - what would posters like to see debated and who would they like to see debate? Let's have some suggestions. Select an issue and say who you would like to see explore it by taking opposing stances....
Afaceinthematrix
I would like to see the following topics:

1) The illegalization of many drugs in most developed nations.
- The practicality of making drugs illegal
- The morality (or immorality) of banning drugs. Is it restricting the freedom of adults?
- What would be the implications of legalizing all (or at least most) drugs?
2) Should we encourage the belief that kids have in Santa Claus?
- Does encouraging the belief in fairy tales lead kids to be more willing to believe in other tales (like God) or does it have no bearing whatsoever?
3) Is it right to give up freedoms for public safety?


I would volunteer for number one under the assumption that I can be on the con (against drugs being illegal and for legalizing them). Usually I can debate decently on both sides but I simply feel way too strong about legalizing drugs (which, to me, means going towards legalizing freedom) and do not feel that I would do a very good job on the other side. I would like to see number two and three debated but do not have too much of an interest in doing it myself. I could, however, do them if no one else wanted to debate it but enough people wanted to see it debated.
deanhills
Why not make it in the format of a competition, so that there will be a good incentive for the debate. And the debate format not only restricted to Phil&Rel Forum, but any Forum?

If it were live, how would that be incorporated with the discussion forums, or would that be something separate?
Ankhanu
Re: Audience questions
I dislike the idea of pre-determining questions before the debate, it feels too fabricated and doesn't address the debate itself. It seems reasonable to have questions posted to the debate thread after the intro/rebuttal phase, and have the debaters address the questions thereafter. Of course, some questions could easily be formulated ahead of time, but they may lose relevance through the debate, whether they are addressed within the back and forth, or become moot by a change of direction, or something.

deanhills wrote:
Why not make it in the format of a competition, so that there will be a good incentive for the debate.


I think this is a silly idea. Those who are interested in having a good debate will find the debate incentive enough. There's no need to sully it with extra competition.

deanhills wrote:
And the debate format not only restricted to Phil&Rel Forum, but any Forum?


That's fine and good, but I'm pretty sure Bikerman's intent was Philosophy debate specifically. There's no reason why the idea couldn't be applied elsewhere, but, the focus here is philosophy.
Bikerman
Indeed - it was a specific suggestion for this forum because there has been much nonsense posted specific to this forum, about debate and how it should be carried out. I thought it might be useful to have some examples of formal debate as examples.
It is also excellent practice/training in that if forces the debater to not only think about what they want to say, but also to anticipate and consider the possible rebuttals/counters.
If people want to do similar things on other forums then that is fine by me, but my interest is in the proposal here.
So far we have several suggested motions, and one offer to speak to a motion considering the morality of drugs policy. One could probably phrase a motion something along the lines of:
Motion for debate :
'Current national and international policies in most Western countries with regard to recreational use of drugs is not only a failure in practical terms, but is fundamentally immoral.'
Afaceinthematrix
Ankhanu wrote:
Re: Audience questions
I dislike the idea of pre-determining questions before the debate, it feels too fabricated and doesn't address the debate itself. It seems reasonable to have questions posted to the debate thread after the intro/rebuttal phase, and have the debaters address the questions thereafter. Of course, some questions could easily be formulated ahead of time, but they may lose relevance through the debate, whether they are addressed within the back and forth, or become moot by a change of direction, or something.


I agree. Questions do not need to be predetermined. In my experience, questions that you ask are often directly related to a specific point that someone makes in their argument. So it is unreasonable to expect all questions to be formulated before the person even gets to read both sides of the debate.

Quote:
That's fine and good, but I'm pretty sure Bikerman's intent was Philosophy debate specifically.


The nice thing about philosophy is that it covers almost every topic. I assume Bikerman wanted a philosophical debate since he posted it in the philosophy forum. However, it isn't that hard to turn anything into a philosophical question since philosophy can essentially cover any topic as long as you apply it correctly to the discipline.

Quote:
Motion for debate :
'Current national and international policies in most Western countries with regard to recreational use of drugs is not only a failure in practical terms, but is fundamentally immoral.'


I second that motion under the obvious condition that we have volunteers to do the actual debate. I already agreed to argue for the side that's for legalizing drugs. I, of course, do not have to do it. If someone else wants to do it then we can see who people are more interested in seeing debate. And then we need someone for the other side.
Bikerman
I'll take the position against the motion if nobody else wants to, but I'd rather someone who actually believes the motion is wrong debate it if possible - so we can see how strong feelings on either side can be constructively focussed in debate.
Ankhanu
I probably won't be taking part in many debates; I'm not much of a debater Razz I look forward to reading them!
ocalhoun
Bikerman wrote:
I'll take the position against the motion if nobody else wants to, but I'd rather someone who actually believes the motion is wrong debate it if possible - so we can see how strong feelings on either side can be constructively focussed in debate.

You may need to find a topic more debatable... I don't know of anyone here who would feel strongly in favor of drug prohibition.
watersoul
ocalhoun wrote:

You may need to find a topic more debatable... I don't know of anyone here who would feel strongly in favor of drug prohibition.


Funny, I thought exactly the same thing Smile
Bikerman
Well, that makes it more interesting to me....I like a challenge Smile
If nobody else wants to take up the 'anti' banner on the motion, I'll argue it. I'll leave it open until Thursday for other volunteers.
Suggested format - initial vote on the motion.
Initial posting (1 each) from pro and anti.
Rebuttal (1 each) from pro and anti.
Open questions.
Final vote.
watersoul
Sounds good, I'm looking forward to it.
ocalhoun
Bikerman wrote:
Well, that makes it more interesting to me....I like a challenge Smile
If nobody else wants to take up the 'anti' banner on the motion, I'll argue it. I'll leave it open until Thursday for other volunteers.
Suggested format - initial vote on the motion.
Initial posting (1 each) from pro and anti.
Rebuttal (1 each) from pro and anti.
Open questions.
Final vote.

Make sure you're very specific about the order in which these should happen - people are still new at this.
(Even people who've done formal debates before probably haven't done so on a forum before.)
Bikerman
Yep, don't worry. If nobody steps up by end of Thursday I'll post a detailed suggested format.
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