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The Purpose of Debate

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  • The Purpose of Debate

    OK, I'm curious....

    In Shoutbox, Pap said "debate to me has always been about win at all costs"

    That sounds kinda brutal to me, but it MAY be the prevailing attitude toward debate on Tweb -- I honestly don't know.

    Often, in debate, I begin to see where the weaknesses are in my arguments, for the purposes of reexamining what I believe, or learning how to express it more clearly.

    Is debate "about winning at all costs"? Or is it about finding the truth.

    Do you allow your position to be examined by others to the extent that you may change your position somewhere along the way? Or is this like "school debate", where you stick to your guns no matter what?
    "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

  • #2
    Actually, the proper practice of debate, even in high school, should require the debators to argue both sides of an issue so that they learn the strengths, weakness, presuppositions, and consequences of both positions. If one can win both sides of a debate, it says more about one's abilities, and the opponent's lack thereof, than the truth of the proposition being debated. Debates are about rhetorical skill, not necessarily about truth, let alone divine truth which surpasses our verbal abilities.
    βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι᾿ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον·
    ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.

    אָכֵ֕ן אַתָּ֖ה אֵ֣ל מִסְתַּתֵּ֑ר אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מוֹשִֽׁיעַ׃

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    • #3
      Originally posted by robrecht View Post
      Actually, the proper practice of debate, even in high school, should require the debators to argue both sides of an issue so that they learn the strengths, weakness, presuppositions, and consequences of both positions.
      Yes, our Debate Coach was infamous for trying to figure out what our "bent" was, and assigning us the opposite side of the issue to debate.

      If one can win both sides of a debate, it says more about one's abilities, and the opponent's lack thereof, than the truth of the proposition being debated. Debates are about rhetorical skill, not necessarily about truth, let alone divine truth which surpasses our verbal abilities.
      OK, so do you think "Tweb Debate" is more like the "classic" debate where one is only interested in "winning"? And, as I said, it's possible this is true... I just never thought of it this way because.... well..... I see so little "classic" debate here. It usually bogs down into "you're stupid, no, you're a dummy, ok, idiot, yeah, poopiehead*..."





      *with regards to Sparko or Rogue, "poopiehead" should always be taken as a term of endearment when used by me
      "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post
        Yes, our Debate Coach was infamous for trying to figure out what our "bent" was, and assigning us the opposite side of the issue to debate.

        OK, so do you think "Tweb Debate" is more like the "classic" debate where one is only interested in "winning"? And, as I said, it's possible this is true... I just never thought of it this way because.... well..... I see so little "classic" debate here. It usually bogs down into "you're stupid, no, you're a dummy, ok, idiot, yeah, poopiehead*..."



        *with regards to Sparko or Rogue, "poopiehead" should always be taken as a term of endearment when used by me
        I think most debate, here, elsewhere on the Internt, and everywhere else for that matter is about winning at all costs and trying to make your opponent look stupid with the mistaken belief that this makes oneself look smart. It is all the more ridiculous when one is arguing about God, where we learn more from our failures than from our supposed successes. I only have to time to engage in debates where I hope to learn something, especially if there's no purgatory!
        βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι᾿ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον·
        ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.

        אָכֵ֕ן אַתָּ֖ה אֵ֣ל מִסְתַּתֵּ֑ר אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מוֹשִֽׁיעַ׃

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by robrecht View Post
          I think most debate, here, elsewhere on the Internt, and everywhere else for that matter is about winning at all costs and trying to make your opponent look stupid with the mistaken belief that this makes oneself look smart. It is all the more ridiculous when one is arguing about God, where we learn more from our failures than from our supposed successes. I only have to time to engage in debates where I hope to learn something, especially if there's no purgatory!
          Well, yeah, me too!

          and you're stupid, so I'm smart. and your mother wears combat boots!

          Seriously, I think my BEST "debating" has been in the Mormon area, because I started out not knowing as much as I thought I did, and learned quite a bit from the Mormons. I learned a LOT about how NOT to argue points with them, which helped me considerably in real life, as my wife and I have been ministering to two women, and 3 couples of Mormons who have "seen the light".
          "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post
            Well, yeah, me too!

            and you're stupid, so I'm smart. and your mother wears combat boots!

            Seriously, I think my BEST "debating" has been in the Mormon area, because I started out not knowing as much as I thought I did, and learned quite a bit from the Mormons. I learned a LOT about how NOT to argue points with them, which helped me considerably in real life, as my wife and I have been ...
            I thought you were going to say that it helped you win debates with your wife!
            βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι᾿ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον·
            ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.

            אָכֵ֕ן אַתָּ֖ה אֵ֣ל מִסְתַּתֵּ֑ר אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מוֹשִֽׁיעַ׃

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            • #7
              Originally posted by robrecht View Post
              I thought you were going to say that it helped you win debates with your wife!
              I ALWAYS get the last word with my wife --- "yes, dear!"

              (having been married for nearly 40 years, I have learned the skill of allowing her to THINK she has won the debate! )
              "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post
                I ALWAYS get the last word with my wife --- "yes, dear!"

                (having been married for nearly 40 years, I have learned the skill of allowing her to THINK she has won the debate! )
                I see that she has learned the skill of letting you think that you have the skill of letting her think she has won the debate.
                βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι᾿ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον·
                ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.

                אָכֵ֕ן אַתָּ֖ה אֵ֣ל מִסְתַּתֵּ֑ר אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מוֹשִֽׁיעַ׃

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by robrecht View Post
                  I see that she has learned the skill of letting you think that you have the skill of letting her think she has won the debate.
                  You only say that cause it's true!
                  "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    CP can you teach Mr. Catholicity the art of giving the pregnant woman the last word?
                    A happy family is but an earlier heaven.
                    George Bernard Shaw

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Catholicity View Post
                      CP can you teach Mr. Catholicity the art of giving the pregnant woman the last word?
                      Yes, Ma'am.
                      "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I've only participated in one formal debate on TWeb but one issue with that sort of thing is that if you start to realize your position is wrong, you're kind of committed to a side, so you'd better be really sure before you start. But that sort of thing makes you less likely to concede any good points your opponent makes.

                        I try to approach serious/debate type discussions on here as a search for truth, and not be afraid to admit when I'm wrong or even have been convinced. (Of course, I don't always succeed in this goal!)
                        "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          For me, the purpose of debate is to try to convince the other person they're wrong and to refine my arguments and find out where I'm wrong. Almost all my debating is in the category of apologetics, and there I'm not going to convince the other person of anything unless God happens to work through me and use what I say as one means of convicting the other person. So while I still try to convince the other person, and pray for them, I find the actual benefits are in learning about the opposing side, having my arguments tested and refined, etc. And then I will have better arguments for whenever God does choose to work through them. (John Piper wrote a book called Think that uses the analogy of wires and electricity for what we do vs. what God does. Wire doesn't do anything without electricity flowing through it. But it's my job to lay down the best wire I can for when God chooses to send current through it.)

                          I also use it to test out hypotheses. E.g. in my debate with 7up, I intuit that having divine characteristics is an all-or-nothing proposition. Is that true? If it isn't, he or someone else will point out why it's false, and then that will prompt me to figure out the real answer to why God doesn't create other gods. Or if it's true but I haven't worked out the reasons why, or there are other kinks, then a skeptic arguing against it will force me to figure things out. Or maybe it's true but it's something that isn't going to be convincing to Mormons even if they accept it as true, and then that forces me to find arguments that are more effective. If something doesn't work, I try to fix it or discard it and look for something better.

                          And I just think it's fun. When I was growing up, I wasn't allowed to contradict anything my mother felt or thought, so I effectively grew up without freedom of speech. So being able to debate -- having a free exchange of ideas, being able to say exactly what I think and argue against what someone else says, and having them consider my ideas and give me honest feedback -- is particularly important to me.

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                          • #14
                            A happy family is but an earlier heaven.
                            George Bernard Shaw

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              The conservative purpose of debate is to find out the truth by the constant testing by qualified individuals. The liberal purpose of debate is as a front for their true goals, much like the liberal purpose for crowing about racism* is to offer a pretext for their own power grabs. That's why so many liberal posts rarely seem like a pretext for debate but they'll still go crazy over little things.

                              I'm here not to gain knowledge of the devil's advocacy position, which generally isn't held by normals who can do that whole "reasoning" thing in their own head, but to mock them and trip them up until they reveal their true positions. Debating in a traditional format can do it, but you usually have to approach the issues more creatively.

                              You'll find much more interesting reading on this process here.

                              * Current Working Definition: "A hateful word to describe high-functioning groups."

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