[eDebate] Debating debate / ans Sanchez

Paul Strait paulstrait
Mon Nov 12 21:06:25 CST 2007


<<r : "What evidence did you use to 'find' that Wake debaters are 'functionally 
turned into machines'?"
well 'turned into machines' reads more as an evaluative claim than a
strictly descriptive one; however, you can find support for their
opinion in how 'primarily card-cutting assistant coaches>>

I'm not going to address the primary substance of this, but when you say that a person, a fellow colleague, has "turned into [a] machine" -- and keep in mind, you are talking about specific people; their schools have been named -- you should consider the rhetorical implications of dehumanizing them like this.  It seems unnecessarily offensive (even if one accepts the premise that sometimes it is necessary to offend).  Maybe the word I am looking for is 'rude,' if nothing else.

<<is that really so much worse than the practice of 'automatic negation'?
... after all, a debate is only a formal comparison of positions, and
it takes great talent to agree with someone well.>>

No.  It takes zero talent to agree perfectly with someone.  None.  Moreover, it is neither education nor helpful to agree perfectly with someone.  When you disagree with someone, you identify potential weaknesses in
their position; thinking about these weaknesses (and the responses to
those weaknesses) helps everyone understand the issue better, helps the
advocates better advocate their position, and helps the opponents
better oppose that position.  The very best, most strategic debate strategies often rely on almost agreeing perfectly with someone, but disagreeing about one element of their position.  This kind of 'agreement,' where a choice between two similar but competitive alternatives is forced, improves everyone's decision-making skills, helps the advocates of the position agreed upon, and is consistent with the basic principle of dialectic that has guided the rhetorical tradition since its inception.  Perfect agreement, since it offers nothing against which to compare the initial position, leaves no room to evaluate that position (at best, it can only be evaluated against straw-person positions).  I don't know what you mean by 'automatic negation,' but I am nearly certain that it is not something Ross thinks is good. 

L. Paul Strait

**********
Ph.D. Student,
Annenberg School for Communication
University of Southern California
**********
Phone:  202-270-6397
 
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