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What Makes a Good Debate?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Left Coast, Oct 22, 2020.

  1. Left Coast

    Left Coast Happy Holidays!
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    You'll notice this thread is, perhaps ironically, in a discussion section. So no debating about debate, please. ;):p

    What are the features of a good debate? I intentionally use the word "good" here, knowing it means different things to different people. Perhaps a good debate, in your mind, is a productive one, one you are glad you engaged in (or watched/heard), one you learned something from, one you felt was a worthwhile use of your time, or some other positive attribute. I leave it to you to explain how you understand the term in context of this conversation.

    What are the elements or features of such a debate?
     
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  2. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest I have the kavorka
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  3. chinu

    chinu Passenger

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    Deep thinking makes a good debate for me. :)
     
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  4. KAT-KAT

    KAT-KAT Well-Known Member

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    I haven't seen much to salvage "for me" in some of them lately. This may sound a little biased, but the best debates I have been having lately are when my own side actually jumps in to agree or disagree with me and explains why.
     
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  5. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    Both sides argue the topic as though they are trying to persuade impartial readers that they are right. Doing this avoids all the nonsense.
     
    #5 joe1776, Oct 22, 2020
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2020
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  6. The Hammer

    The Hammer Virtue, Piety, Study

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  7. PureX

    PureX Veteran Member

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    A subject that matters.

    Participants that can think creatively, and that know how to debate honestly, instead of egotistically.

    Engaged in for the purpose of sharing perspectives, not 'winning' an argument.
     
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  8. Unveiled Artist

    Unveiled Artist Windmills of your mind

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    I think a good debate has many factors.

    1. Insightful: Willing to open oneself up to others opinions or see in their shoes. Example, "oh. I believe homosexuality (as an action) is a sin; 'but' I understand what you mean when the action and perception of that action are involved within a strong relationship."

    2. Understanding: The need and patience for each person to ask questions for clarification sake. The patience to speak out ideas and the skill to find conclusion in idea(s) presented or signal if one idea needs to move on to the next

    3. Topics: A good debate is not limited to some topics over others. So, political topics, religious, I don't know, culinary topics may have strong opinions by debaters but "both" sides have equal say in their views and both sides should be accredited to their views even if the other side disagrees.''

    4. Knowledge: If a person is not knowledgably about a given topic(s), then he or she would know that that topic may not be for that person. For example, I know little to none about Hinduism. So if Hindus wish to debate for the sake of learning and not needing to win, I wouldn't participate because I don't have the basics to keep up with that conversation.

    5. Agree to disagree: This helps close off the conversation. When conversation debates are left hanging, it causes more mishaps than saying "there's not much more we can say now..." and so forth

    6. Debate vs. Argument vs. Discussion

    Debate is when you make as statement or claim and you have the ability to support that statement or claim to validate what you say is worth listening to, has authenticity, and "proves" you know something for what you're talking about. So, for example, if one says "god exists" but then leave the other person hanging, that phrase means nothing in the debate. Debates hinge on support.

    Argument is when one doesn't attack the ideas (as above with support) but attacks the person "as if" they are the ideas they dislike or disagree with. When feelings become involved and things are taken personal (even on the onset of the discussion), it's no longer a debate and definitely no longer a discussion.

    Discussion just involves talking about different opinions, learning from each other (which is essential in debates to), and basically just being open to converse without needing to support every point said. Sometimes discussions are masks as debates because one person asks for clarification or they just genuinely want to say why they feel differently without needing to prove it at the same time.

    7. Debates have good and productive support. The support can be technical such as from a science book or say a peer review. It can be testimonial. Personal experiences usually support why people believe what they do and how they came to that knowledge (for themselves) even if others cannot understand it. Support can be hearsay. Anything that one person gives another to justify their statement or claim is considered support. Unless both parties know the type of support should be the criteria of a said debate, a good debate takes in mind all different supports and challenges them as support rather than belittling them as they don't meet the criteria of their own definition of support.

    8. Productive: Debates should at least let each person "leave out" with something they didn't understand or a view that they understand the perspective even if they disagree. I've seen people from multiple religions on RF who say their views won't change despite the debates. If that is so, then what's the point in debating? If you can't learn something different or different perspective (via preconceived biases maybe), then debate is useless. Maybe have a discussion but not a debate.

    9. Same criteria of authority: The criteria of debate should be agreed between the parties involved only. Anyone outside that party has no say in which side is right or wrong (or should be). Ideally, it would be the people involved. So, if an atheist and christian debates, unless the Hindu wants to accept the authority in which the debate is founded on, there's no reason to join.

    There are others, but that's how I define a good debate.
     
    #8 Unveiled Artist, Oct 22, 2020
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2020
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  9. bobhikes

    bobhikes AntiRepublican
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    A debate is a continuation of new idea's and counter's. Like a presidential debate, you list your idea, I counter you respond and I respond, then you post a new idea and I counter... until we run out of new ideas. I don't think I've ever been part of a debate on the RF. People here tend to argue a specific idea and run from new idea's. Then instead of countering they just reword there idea and present it again. It is so prevalent that after many years you can actually argue certain peoples supposed debate.
     
  10. Estro Felino

    Estro Felino Believer in free will
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    And in fact I try to sum up my concepts because I know most of us are quite busy...work...homework during the day...and short posts might help:p
     
  11. Brickjectivity

    Brickjectivity Veteran Member
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    At last a topic I can speak about! Besides topic it depends upon how knowledgeable the participants are. I have years of seeing people debate. Everyone loves a well spoken deep reply, particularly if its said with golden words, not too short, not too long. An opponent will work hard to draw out this kind of response, and if its a friendly opponent the response will be rewarded in kind. On many subjects we find ourselves lacking and hoping to get other people to talk. This does not make for a great debate opportunity. If we have done the study required that is truly the best path to a good debate though it can be spoiled through other problems. If all participants have labored to prepare you have grounds for a truly unforgettable debate.

    It also comes down to what the topic is. Some topics are too upsetting to be discussed. Most people allude to this when we say "Talk about the weather" by which we actually mean "Avoid confrontational subjects."

    We also react better to friends than to strangers.
     
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  12. bobhikes

    bobhikes AntiRepublican
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    One other things about debate's. They are not done to change the opinion of the other debater. The debates are done to win over the audience. It is expected that both debaters will not agree but are presenting there case to win over the undecided. It is the audience not the debater that decides who was better.
     
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  13. Vinayaka

    Vinayaka devotee
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    Each person listens or reads carefully the other side's points, and responds to them directly, not sidestepping, or avoiding, or finding a new way to go back to their own point. If asked a question, they either answer it directly or admit they don't know. They don't fake that they understand it. The conversation flows along with little reiteration, and finally comes at some sort of agreement, even if that is to disagree. It remains cordial, and nobody hurls personal insults or uses false logic that any reader or listener can see through.
     
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  14. Vinayaka

    Vinayaka devotee
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    I used to try debating when I taught. That was a difficult one to teach. If I had 24 students, I'd have 4 groups, and 2 debates, with the others being the audience. Then we'd vote on which side offered the best argument. Usually it reverted into a popularity contest and had nothing to do with the debate topic, or the ability to debate.
     
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  15. bobhikes

    bobhikes AntiRepublican
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    I like the idea but understand the problem. If in a room with Republicans when asked most people would say the Republican won the debate. The best way to grade a debate is to ask the audience to summarize the debate not grade it. They will only be able to include what impacted them and then you could see how effective it was. I probably wouldn't determine a winner but instead present what the audience got out of the debate vs the content. To determine a winner ideally I would of asked the audience to summarize their feelings on the topic a week earlier so that you could compare to their summary.
     
  16. Vinayaka

    Vinayaka devotee
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    In Grade 6 we studied government as per the Alberta curricula. I've been retired 11 years now. Where were you when I needed you? The entire idea was a bit deep for that ability, but they tried. They did better than the real politicians we observed in the provincial legislature. That was mostly a yelling contest. One guy would speak, and then the cat calls would come.

    One day when we were on the field trip associated with that curricula, the speaker of the house actually said, "I sure wouldn't want to be a Grade 6 teacher here with a class today. How can he explain this behaviour back in class tomorrow?" (true story)
     
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  17. MNoBody

    MNoBody Well-Known Member

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    -compassion
    -a collaborative spirit of exploration.
    the first thoughts that sprang to mind.
     
  18. Israel Khan

    Israel Khan Well-Known Member

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    A good debate is when it is evident that both sides are honestly trying to understand each other's views, do not misrepresent each other, do not vilify each other and behave civilly.
     
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  19. Heyo

    Heyo Well-Known Member

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    Engagement. In a good debate all sides are doing their best to present their view.
    Understanding. Debaters steelman their interlocutors views before they try to dismantle them.
    Knowledge. Debaters know what they are talking about and know how to debate. They try to avoid logical fallacies and rhetoric.
    Conclusion. I like to have a debate to have a conclusion, even if it is to agree to disagree.
     
  20. Augustus

    Augustus the Unreasonable

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    Doesn't require much:

    1. Good faith interpretation of arguments, if in doubt give the argument the best possible interpretation.

    Commonly people will play a game where, they (actively or subconsciously) try to give the words the worst possible interpretation and refuse to accept that any other meaning is possible. Too may debates get stuck on a bad faith assumption and refuse to move beyond that.

    2. A general willingness to accept that, if they clarify their meaning to a point you interpreted differently, then this is what they meant (unless overwhelming evidence to the contrary).

    3. A willingness to address the strongest points of the opposing argument, not look for a quibble or face-saving out.

    4. An acceptance that someone can disagree without being a moron/troll/Hitler

    5. A willingness to accept that other people may know more than you on certain topics and, even if this doesn't mean you accept their arguments, that you don't have to reflexively pretend you are knowledgeable and are making a rational argument against it. It's not a problem to say you don't really know much about that and will reserve judgement.
     
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