Friday, September 30, 2016

Thoughts on Debate

 de·bate  dəˈbāt
noun a formal discussion on a particular topic in a public meeting or legislative assembly, in which opposing arguments are put forward. 
a contention by words or arguments: as a:  the formal discussion of a motion before a deliberative body according to the rules of parliamentary procedure b:  a regulated discussion of a proposition between two matched sides

“Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt, to offer a solution everybody can understand.”
Colin Powell

“A good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that at the end he and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger. You don't have that idea when you are arrogant, superficial, and uninformed.”
Nelson Mandela

“Those who cannot understand how to put their thoughts on ice should not enter into the heat of debate.”
 Friedrich Nietzsche

"If you argue with a madman, it is extremely probable that you will get the worst of it; for in many ways his mind moves all the quicker for not being delayed by things that go with good judgment. He is not hampered by a sense of humour or by clarity, or by the dumb certainties of experience. He is the more logical for losing certain sane affections. Indeed, the common phrase for insanity is in this respect a misleading one. The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything except his reason."

—G. K. Chesterton
Orthodoxy (New York: John Lane Co., 1909), p. 32

Chesterton wrote that a good argument is invigorating.  People argue because they care about the truth – even if they argue to hide it.  He stated there are three kinds of bad arguments.
1.     Arguments from an authority (the Bible, the Pope, the latest scientific discovery.)  An argument must stand on its own merit and logic.
2.     Arguments with loopholes or exceptions (“yeah, but what about this?”)   An argument must acknowledge the strength of the other side.
3.     Arguments that switches from head to heart (“don’t you care?”)  An argument is an affair of reason.

He also stated three techniques of a good argument.
1.     Agree with your opponent on some pivot point.
2.     Restate your opponent’s argument; know his or her case at least as well if not better than he or she does.
3.     Have your opponent restate your argument to make sure that he or she understands it.

The Difference between Argument and Persuasion

Argument                                                                             Persuasion
Gain legitimacy                      Purpose                                  Gain consent

Appeal to logic                       Method                                   Appeal to values, emotions

Formal                                    Language                               Formal or informal

Data                                        Characteristics                       Illustrations
Informed                                                                                Assertions
Sources                                                                                   Jargon
Definition                                                                               Euphemism

Summary                               Endings                                  Directional

Linear progression to a        Organization                          Build up to an
logical conclusion                                                                  emotional 

What about you?   What are your thoughts on debate, argument, and persuasion? 

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