FORMAL DEBATE UNIT DEFINING TERMS AND ISSUES PART 2
DEFINING TERMS • Make sure you define all necessary terms in your proposition in the affirmative to make sure both sides apply each argument to an agreed upon definition • Prompt and precise terminology is essential to good analysis in debate • The way you and your fellow debaters define the proposition determines the kind of information you will prepare
The main responsibility for defining terms in a debate actually is for the affirmative • In debate tournaments, the debate usually opens with a statement of definitions by the affirmative • In classroom debate, it is a good idea for both sides to work together with a statement of definitions
Ways To Define Terms of a Debate Proposition • Use some authority—a reference source, dictionary, or leading text in which there is a clear definition to agree with • For Example: Black’s Law Dictionary could be used in defining what is meant by “the jury’s system” in a proposition calling for a change in that system. 2. Use an example to define a term—Provide a specific example 3. Define terms by negation—stressing what a term does NOT mean.
Continued.. • 4. Delve into the derivation or origin of a term. You can break the term into parts and explain their individual meanings and from where the part originated • For Example—Resolved: That the federal government should establish, finance, and administer programs to control air and water pollution in the United States. You could explain that the word establish is derived from the Latin stabilis—meaning firm and stable. To establish a program then is to create something with the idea of its being permanent and stable. • 5. You may compare/contrast a difficult or technical term with one that is more familiar. • Use one or a combination of the methods for each term. • For Example: If you are debating whether the next drama production is to be produced on a “raked” stage, you could define a raked stage by comparing it with a conventional stage.
Practice Time: Which words would need to be defined in the following propositions? • Resolved: That the federal government should ban the sale of all detergent containing phosphates. • Resolved: That environmental control standards should be reduced. • Resolved: That smoking in public places should be illegal. • Resolved: That two credits in practical arts be required for high school graduation. • Resolved: That Congress should prohibit unilateral United Stated military intervention in foreign countries.
Investigating the Debate Proposition • DEFINE THE PROBLEM • You are debating because someone thinks a problem exists • Ex. “Resolved: That it is important for students to develop an appreciation of art” (This is a POV) • The problem is someone sees a lack of art appreciation
Define The Problem cont. • When you have identified and defined the problem, ask yourself the following questions: • How long have we had the problem? • What seems to have caused it? • What solutions, if any, have been tried before? • Why didn’t they work? • In what ways are conditions different now?
Investigating Debate Proposition cont. • DEFINE THE CONTROVERSY • You can pinpoint this by asking • Why are you debating this particular topic at this particular time? • What is causing you or others to be concerned about certain facts, or to questions certain values, or to favor changing a certain policy? • What are the different views that people have of the positions? • When evaluating a topic, consider what is going on right now that makes the topic controversial?
Define the Controversy cont. • For Example, if you were debating the value of foreign language programs in your high school, you would begin your investigation by asking the following questions: • What is going on right now in education or in the world that makes this topic controversial? • Why are people interested in it?
To find out what all the sides of the controversy are, you should look into the history of the controversy. • This can allow you to discover more arguments (pro or con) that have been used before • No matter what side you are on, this information could be useful when building your case or when pointing out the weaknesses in the other side’s case.
STOCK ISSUES • Are not really issues but instead are questions meant to reveal issues • The questions are so general, they can be used with any debate topic • Is there a need for a change in the status quo? • Are there problems in the status quo? • Are these problems serious enough to warrant a change? • Can the problems be solved easily? • Or are they inherent in the present system—meaning so tied to it that the system itself must be changed in order to eliminate the problems? • Will the affirmative plan solve the problems in the status quo? Is the affirmative plan practical? Will the affirmative plan work? • Is the affirmative plan the most desirable solution to the problem? **It’s not enough for the affirmative side to say something ought to be done—they must show how it can be done.
There is a difference between the debate proposition and affirmative plan • The proposition is like the architect’s drawing of what a house should look like from the outside when finished. • The affirmative plan is like a blue print that carefully outlines how the house is to be put together to look that way.
The affirmative plan then must show how the change stated in the debate proposition will be brought about and carried out. • By applying stock issue questions to your proposition, you can develop specific issues.To do this substitute specific words from your prop. for the general stock issue terms status quo and affirmative plan.
Stock IssuesSpecific Issues 1. Is there a need for a 1. Is there a need for a change change in the status quo? in the present way of financing political campaigns? 2. Will the affirmative plan 2. Will the affirmative method solve the problems in the of publicly financing political status quo? campaigns solve the problems in the present way of financing political campaigns? 3. Is the affirmative plan 3. Is the affirmative method of the most desirable solution publicly financing political to the problem? campaigns the most desirable to the solution?
SUMMARY OF PART 2 In analyzing a debate proposition, you can begin by defining the terms using the following methods: 1. Quoting an authority 4. Through Derivation 2. By using examples 5. Compare/Contrast 3. Through Negation Analysis also requires defining the nature of the problem, reasons for current controversy, investigating the history of the problem, any previous solutions tried, and current viewpoint held about the problem. Further investigation uses 3 stock issue questions: (1) Is there a need for a change in the SQ? (2) Will the affirmative plan solve the problems in the SQ? (3) Is the affirmative plan the most desirable solution to the problem?