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13th-century illustration of a Jew and a Christian debating in a work by the Jewish convert Petrus Alphonsi Petrus alphonsi dialogues.jpg
13th-century illustration of a Jew and a Christian debating in a work by the Jewish convert Petrus Alphonsi

Debate is a process that involves formal discourse on a particular topic. In a debate, arguments are put forward for often opposing viewpoints. Debates have historically occurred in public meetings, academic institutions, debate halls, coffeehouses, competitions, and legislative assemblies. [1] It is a formal type of discussion, and often includes a moderator along with an audience.


Logical consistency, factual accuracy, and some degree of emotional appeal to the audience are elements in debating, where one side often prevails over the other party by presenting a superior "position" on the issue. Modern debating contests include rules for participants to discuss and decide upon the framework of the debate (how the debate will be judged).

Debating is carried out in debating chambers and assemblies of various types to discuss matters and to make resolutions about action to be taken, often by voting.[ citation needed ] Deliberative bodies such as parliaments, legislative assemblies, and meetings of all sorts engage in debates. In particular, in parliamentary democracies, a legislature debates and decides on new laws. Formal debates between candidates for elected offices such as the leaders' debates, are sometimes held in democracies. Debating is also carried out for educational and recreational purposes, [2] usually associated with educational establishments and debating societies. [3]


A Debate among Scholars, Razmnama illustration Mughal43.jpg
A Debate among Scholars, Razmnama illustration

Debating in various forms has a long history and can be traced back to the philosophical and political debates of Ancient Greece, such as Athenian democracy, Shastrartha in Ancient India. Modern forms of debating and the establishment of debating societies occurred during the Age of Enlightenment in the 18th century.[ citation needed ]

Emergence of debating societies

Debate Tonight: Whether a man's wig should be dressed with honey or mustard! A 1795 cartoon satirizing the content of debates. IsaacCruikshank-DebatingSoc.jpg
Debate Tonight: Whether a man's wig should be dressed with honey or mustard! A 1795 cartoon satirizing the content of debates.

Debating societies emerged in London in the early eighteenth century, and soon became a prominent societal fixture of life in London. [4] Although debating societies had existed in London since at least 1740, they were exclusive and secretive societies. However, by the mid-18th century, London fostered a vibrant debating society culture, largely due to increased membership from London's growing middle-class. [4] Debating topics covered a broad spectrum of topics while the debating societies allowed participants from both genders and all social backgrounds, making them an excellent example of the enlarged public sphere of the Age of Enlightenment. [5] Debating societies were a phenomenon associated with the simultaneous rise of the public sphere, [6] a sphere of discussion separate from traditional authorities and accessible to all people that acted as a platform for criticism and the development of new ideas and philosophy. [7]

Many subjects were debated in the London Debating Societies of the 18th century. This is a cover to a panegyric on marriage and family life, c. 1780. Married-state-ca1780.jpg
Many subjects were debated in the London Debating Societies of the 18th century. This is a cover to a panegyric on marriage and family life, c. 1780.

John Henley, a clergyman, [8] founded an Oratory in 1726 with the principal purpose of "reforming the manner in which such public presentations should be performed." [9] He made extensive use of the print industry to advertise the events of his Oratory, making it an omnipresent part of the London public sphere. Henley was also instrumental in constructing the space of the debating club: he added two platforms to his room in the Newport district of London to allow for the staging of debates, and structured the entrances to allow for the collection of admission. These changes were further implemented when Henley moved his enterprise to Lincoln's Inn Fields. The public was now willing to pay to be entertained, and Henley exploited this increasing commercialization of British society. [10] By the 1770s, debating societies were firmly established in London society. [11]

The year 1785 was pivotal: The Morning Chronicle announced on March 27: [12]

The Rage for public debate now shews itself in all quarters of the metropolis. Exclusive of the oratorical assemblies at Carlisle House, Free-mason's Hall, the Forum, Spring Gardens, the Cassino, the Mitre Tavern and other polite places of debating rendezvous, we hear that new Schools of Eloquence are preparing to be opened in St. Giles, Clare-Market, Hockley in the Hole, Whitechapel, Rag-Fair, Duke's Place, Billingsgate, and the Back of the Borough.

In 1780, 35 differently named societies advertised and hosted debates for anywhere between 650 and 1200 people. [13] The question for debate was introduced by a president or moderator who proceeded to regulate the discussion. Speakers were given set amounts of time to argue their point of view, and, at the end of the debate, a vote was taken to determine a decision or adjourn the question for further debate. [14] Speakers were not permitted to slander or insult other speakers, or diverge from the topic at hand, again illustrating the value placed on politeness by late 18th century debaters. [11]

Student debating societies

A debate at the Cambridge Union Society (c. 1887). A debate at the Union Club - c1887.JPG
A debate at the Cambridge Union Society (c. 1887).

Princeton University in the future United States was home to a number of short-lived student debating societies throughout the mid-1700s. The American Whig Society was co-founded in 1769 by future revolutionary James Madison.[ citation needed ]

The Dialectic and Philanthropic Societies were formed at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1795 and are still active. They are considered the first of the post-revolutionary debating societies.[ citation needed ]

The first student debating society in Great Britain was the St Andrews Debating Society, formed in 1794 as the Literary Society. The Cambridge Union Society was founded in 1815 and claims to be the oldest continually operating debating society in the World. [15] This claim is arguably valid because Princeton's societies had been shut down during the American Revolutionary War, while the UNC societies' operations were briefly suspended during the American Civil War.

Over the next few decades, similar societies emerged at several other prominent universities. Examples include the Oxford Union, the Yale Political Union, and the Conférence Olivaint.

Debating for decision-making

Parliamentary debate

In parliaments and other legislatures, members debate proposals regarding legislation, before voting on resolutions which become laws. Debates are usually conducted by proposing a law, or changes to a law known as amendments. Members of the parliament, assembly, or congress then discuss the proposal and cast their vote for or against such a law.

Emergency debating

In some countries (e.g., Canada [16] and the UK [17] ), members of parliament may request debates on urgent matters of national importance. If the Speaker grants such a request, an emergency debate is usually held before the end of the next sitting day.

Debate between candidates for high office

In jurisdictions which elect holders of high political office, such as the president or prime minister, candidates sometimes debate in public, usually during a general election campaign.

U.S. presidential debates

Since the 1976 general election, debates between presidential candidates have been a part of U.S. presidential campaigns. Unlike debates sponsored at the high school or collegiate level, the participants and format are not independently defined. Nevertheless, in a campaign season heavily dominated by television advertisements, talk radio, sound bites, and spin, they still offer a rare opportunity for citizens to see and hear the major candidates side by side. The format of the presidential debates, though defined differently in every election, is typically more restrictive than many traditional formats, forbidding participants to ask each other questions and restricting discussion of particular topics to short time frames.

The presidential debates were initially moderated in 1976, 1980, and 1984 by the League of Women Voters, but the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) was established in 1987 by the Republican and Democratic parties. The presidential debate's primary purpose is to sponsor and produce debates for the United States presidential and vice-presidential candidates and to undertake research and educational activities relating to the debates.[ citation needed ] The organization, which is a nonprofit, nonpartisan corporation, sponsored all of the presidential debates in 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016, and 2020.

However, in announcing its withdrawal from sponsoring the debates, the League of Women Voters stated that it was withdrawing "because the demands of the two campaign organizations would perpetrate a fraud on the American voter." [18] In 2004, the Citizens' Debate Commission was formed in the hope of establishing an independent sponsor for presidential debates, with a more voter-centric role in the definition of the participants, format, and rules.

Competitive debating

Finalists in the German-language Jugend debattiert international debating contest VIII. Internationales Finale Warschau.JPG
Finalists in the German-language Jugend debattiert international debating contest

In competitive debates, teams compete against each other and are judged the winner by a list of criteria that is usually based around the concepts of "content, style, and strategy". [19] There are many different styles of competitive debating, organizations, and rules.

Competitive debating is carried out at the local, national, and international levels. [20]

In schools and colleges, competitive debating often takes the form of a contest with explicit rules. It may be presided over by one or more judges or adjudicators. One side is in favor of the proposed status qou (also known as the "Affirmative", or "Pro" side) and one is opposed to the proposed status quo (also known as the "Negative", or "Con" side) of the resolution. The Pro side will attempt to support the resolution; the Con side must sufficiently refute these arguments. Both sides are required to embrace and defend their own positions, and will often debate both sides during a competition.

Forms of competitive debating

Australasia debating

The Australasian style debate consists of two teams, each consisting of three people, debating over a topic. The topic is presented in the form of an affirmative statement beginning with "That" or "This House", for example, "That cats are better than dogs", or "This House should raise taxes". Most topics are usually specific Australian regions to facilitate participant and audience interest. [21]

Each team has three members, each of whom is named according to their team and speaking position within his/her team. For instance, the second speaker of the affirmative team to speak is called the "Second Affirmative Speaker" or "Second Proposition Speaker", depending on the terminology used. Each of the speakers' positions is based on a specific role. For example, the third speaker has the opportunity to make a rebuttal towards the opposing team's argument by introducing new evidence to add to their position. The last speaker is called the "Team Advisor/Captain". Using this style, the debate is finished with a closing argument by each of the first speakers from each team, and new evidence may not be introduced. Each of the six speakers (three affirmative and three negative) speak in succession to each other, beginning with the Affirmative Team. The speaking order is as follows: First Affirmative, First Negative, Second Affirmative, Second Negative, Third Affirmative, and finally Third Negative. [22] "Points of Information", more commonly known as "POIs," are often used in Australian and New Zealand Secondary School level debating. A Point of Information (POI) is when a member of the team opposing that of the current speaker gets to briefly interrupt the current speaker, offering a POI in the form of a question or a statement.

The context in which the Australasia style of debate is used varies, but in Australia and New Zealand is mostly used at the Primary and Secondary school level, ranging from small informal one-off intra-school debates to larger more formal inter-school competitions with several rounds and a finals series which occur over a year. [23]

European square debating

This is a Paris-style inspired format, with four teams with France, the United Kingdom, Germany always represented, and then one other major European nations which can change(for example, Russia). These "Nations" then confront each other on a policy debate on European issues, as parts of two broad coalitions. [24] [25] Each team is composed of two speakers (the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary). The debate starts with the first speaker from France, followed by the first speaker of Germany (the opposite side), followed by the second speaker of France, and the second speaker of Germany. The debate continues with the first speaker of the United Kingdom, followed by the first speaker of Russia, and it goes on with the respective second speakers. Each debater speaks for 5 minutes. The first and the last minutes are protected time: no Points of Information may be asked. During the rest of the speech, the speaker may be interrupted by Points of Information (POIs) from the opposite countries (debaters from France and the UK may ask POIs to debaters representing Germany and Russia, and vice versa, respectively). The format forces each debater to develop a winning strategy while respecting the coalition. This format was commonly developed by the Franco-British Comparative Project [26] and Declan McCavanna, Chairman of the FDA [27] and was featuring France, the UK, Germany, Russia and Italy.

Extemporaneous speaking

Extemporaneous speaking is a style of debate, which involves no planning in advance, and two teams with a first and second speaker. While a majority of judges will allow debaters to cite current events and various statistics the only research permitted is the articles given to the debaters along with the resolution shortly before the debate. [28] The debate begins with an affirmative first-speaker constructive speech, followed by a negative; then an affirmative and negative second-speaker constructive speech, respectively. Each of these speeches is six minutes in length and is followed by two minutes of cross-examination. There is then an affirmative and negative first-speaker rebuttal, and a negative and affirmative second-speaker rebuttal, respectively. These speeches are each four minutes long. No new points can be brought into the debate during the rebuttals. [28]

This style of debate commonly centers on three main contentions (although a team can use more or less). In order for the affirmative side to win, all of the negative contentions must be defeated, and all of the affirmative contentions must be left standing. Most of the information presented in the debate must be tied in to support one of these contentions, or "signposted". Much of extemporaneous speaking is similar to public forum debate and policy debate. However, Extemporaneous Speech is considered in more areas, especially in the United States, as a form of Speech, which is considered separate from debate, or itself a form of debate with several types of events. [29]

Impromptu debating

Impromptu debating is a relatively informal style of debating when compared to other highly structured formats of debate. Similarly, to Extemporaneous debate, The topic for the debate is given to the participants between fifteen and twenty minutes before the debate starts. The debate format is relatively simple; each team member of each side speaks for five minutes, alternating sides. A ten-minute discussion period, similar to other formats' "open cross-examination" time follows, and then a five-minute break (comparable to other formats' preparation time). Following the break, each team gives a 4-minute rebuttal. [28]

Impromptu debate is often considered to be more akin to Public Speaking since speeches can be anywhere between stand-up routines, to the reputations of nations, depending on the topic given to the contestants. Contestants will be given a list of abstract topics when the event begins and will create a speech on their chosen topic. [28]

Jes debating

This style of debate is particularly popular in Ireland at the secondary school level.[ according to whom? ] Developed in Coláiste Iognáid (Galway) over the last ten years, the format has five speakers: two teams and a single 'sweep speaker' on each side.[ clarification needed ] Speeches last 4:30 minutes with 30 seconds protected from POIs at either end of the debate. Adjudication will depend on BP (British Parliament) marking[ further explanation needed ], but with particular recognition of principled debating. A ten-minute open house will also be adjudicated. Traditionally, the motion is always opposed to the final vote.[ citation needed ]

Lincoln–Douglas debating

Lincoln-Douglas debating is primarily a form of United States high school debate (though it also has a college form called NFA LD) and is named after the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates. It is a one-on-one event focused mainly on applying philosophical theories to real world issues. Debaters normally alternate sides from round to round as either the "affirmative", which upholds the resolution, or "negative", which attacks it. The resolution, which changes bimonthly, asks whether a certain policy or action conforms to a specific value.

Though established as an alternative to policy debate, there has been a strong movement to embrace certain techniques that originated in policy debate (and, correspondingly, a strong backlash movement). Plans, counterplans, critical theory, postmodern theory, a debate about the theoretical basis and rules of the activity itself, and critics have all reached more than occasional, if not yet universal, usage. Traditional L-D debate attempts to be free of policy debate "jargon". Lincoln-Douglas speeches can range from a conversational pace to well over 300 words per minute (when trying to maximize the number of arguments and depth of each argument's development). This technique is known as spreading, and originated in policy debate tactics. There is also a growing emphasis on carded evidence, though still much less than in policy debate. These trends have created a serious rift within the activity between the debaters, judges, and coaches who advocate or accept these changes, and those who vehemently oppose them.

Mace debating

The Mace debating style is prominent in Britain and Ireland at the school level and is composed of Two teams, consisting of two people, debating an affirmative motion, which one team will propose, and the other will oppose. [30] Each speaker will make a seven-minute speech in the order; 1st Proposition, 1st Opposition, 2nd Proposition, 2nd Opposition. After the first minute of each speech, members of the opposing team may request a 'point of information' (POI). If the speaker accepts, they are permitted to ask a question. POI's are used to pull the speaker up on a weak point, or to argue against something the speaker has said. However, after 6 minutes, no more POIs are permitted. [31] After all four debaters have spoken, the debate will be opened to the floor, in which members of the audience will question the teams. Finally, One speaker from each team will speak for 4 minutes. In these summary speeches, the speaker will answer the questions posed by the floor and opposition, before summarizing their own key points. The MACE format of debate is designed to be beginner-friendly and to prepare students for BP Parliamentary debate (which it is modeled off). [31]

Mock trial

Model United Nations

Moot court

Offene parlamentarische Debatte (OPD)

The offene parlamentarische Debatte (Open Parliamentary Debate, OPD) is a German competitive debating format. It was developed by the debate club Streitkultur Tübingen and was used for the first time in a tournament in 2001. [32] It aims to combine the advantages of parliamentary debates and public audience debates: each of the two teams has three speakers, and in addition, the debate includes three independent "free speakers". Clubs using OPD exist in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy. [33]

Oxford-style debating

Derived from the Oxford Union debating society of Oxford University, Oxford-style debating is a competitive debate format featuring a sharply assigned motion that is proposed by one side and opposed by another. A winner is declared in an Oxford-Style debate either by the majority or by which team has swayed more audience members between the two votes. [34] Oxford-style debates follow a formal structure that begins with audience members casting a pre-debate vote on the motion that is either for, against, or undecided. Each panelist presents a seven-minute opening statement, after which the moderator takes questions from the audience with inter-panel challenges. [35] Finally, each panelist delivers a two-minute closing argument, and the audience delivers their second (and final) vote for comparison against the first. [36]

Paris-style debating

This is a format specifically used in France (though the debates are commonly held in English). Two teams of five debate on a given motion. One side is supposed to defend the motion while the other must defeat it. The debate is judged on the quality of the arguments, the strength of the rhetoric, the charisma of the speaker, the quality of the humor, the ability to think on one's feet, and teamwork.

The first speaker of the Proposition (Prime Minister) opens the debate, followed by the first speaker of the Opposition (Shadow Prime Minister), then the second speaker of the Proposition, and so on.

Every speaker speaks for 6 minutes. After the first minute and before the last minute, debaters from the opposite team may ask Points of Information, which the speaker may accept or reject as he wishes (although he is supposed to accept at least two).

The French Debating Association [27] organizes its National Debating Championship upon this style. [37]

Parliamentary debating

Parliamentary debate is conducted under rules originally derived from British parliamentary procedure, though parliamentary debate now has several variations, including American, Brazilian, British, Canadian, and German forms. It features the competition of individuals in a multi-person setting. It borrows terms such as "government" and "opposition" from the British parliament (although the term "proposition" is sometimes used rather than "government" when debating in the United Kingdom). [38]

Parliamentary debate is practiced worldwide and many international variations have been created. The premier event in the world of parliamentary debate is the World Universities Debating Championship. This tournament is conducted in the traditional British Parliamentary style of debate. [39]

British Parliamentary debating

The British Parliamentary (BP) debating style involves four teams: "government" or "proposition" (one opening, one closing) teams support the motion, and two "opposition" teams (one opening, one closing) oppose it. [40] The closing team of each side must either introduce a new substantive point (outward extension) or improve upon a previous point made by their opening team (inward extension), all whilst agreeing with their opening team. In a competitive round, the teams are ranked first to fourth, with the first-place team receiving 3 points, the second receiving 2, the third receiving 1, and the fourth place receiving no points. This is the style used by the World Universities Debating Championship (WUDC). [39]

However, even within the United Kingdom, the British Parliamentary style is not used exclusively; the English-Speaking Union (ESU) runs national championships for both universities (John Smith Memorial Mace) and schools (ESU Schools Mace), (including representation from Ireland) in a unique "Mace" format named after the competition, while there are numerous standalone BP competitions hosted by universities and schools across the UK and Ireland throughout the year. [31]

Canadian Parliamentary debating

The Canadian Parliamentary debating style involves one "government" team and one "opposition" team. On the "government" side, there is the "Prime Minister" and the "Minister of the Crown". On the "opposition" side, there is the "Leader of the Opposition" and the "Shadow Minister". In most competitive situations, it is clear what the motion entails, and it must be addressed directly. The debate is structured with each party speaking in a particular order and for a defined length of time. However, unlike a cross-examination style debate another dominant debate style in Canada Parliamentary debate involves parliamentary rules and allows interruptions for points of order.

In very few cases, the motion may be "squirrelable".[ citation needed ] This means that the assigned motion is not intended to be debated, and may even be a quote from a film or a song.[ example needed ] The "government" team then "squirrels" the motion into something debatable by making a series of logical links between the proposed motion and the one they propose to debate. This makes the debate similar to a prepared debate for the "government" team and an impromptu debate for the "opposition" team.

In Canada, debating tournaments may involve a mix of parliamentary and cross-examination-style debate, or be entirely one style or the other. Competitive debating takes place in English, French, or bilingual style – in which approximately 50% of content must be in each language.

American Parliamentary debating

In the United States, the American Parliamentary Debate Association is the oldest national parliamentary debating organization, based on the East Coast and including the Ivy League. [41] The more recently founded National Parliamentary Debate Association (NPDA) is now the largest collegiate sponsor.[ according to whom? ]

Brazilian Parliamentary debating

The Brazilian Parliamentary Debate, also known as "Parli Brasil", [42] involves a "proposition team", that will support the motion, and an "opposition team", who will oppose the motion.

It is based on the British Parliamentary style, but the primary difference is that the proposition's members are not called "government", since not only the political government congressmen of that country can introduce new parliamentary topics. In other words, the government can support or oppose the topic in session on the Congress. This way, using "government" as a synonym to "proposition teams" could create confusion about how the speakers are going to position themselves on the debate.

Therefore, the speakers at the debate are called "First Member of Proposition", "First Member of Opposition", "Second Member of Proposition", and so on.

It is the most used competitive debating style used in Brazil; it is used at the official competitions of the Instituto Brasileiro de Debates (Brazilian Institute of Debates).

At Parli Brasil, every speaker speaks for 7 minutes, with 15 seconds of tolerance after that. After the first minute and before the last minute, debaters from the opposite team may ask Points of Information, which the speaker may accept or reject as he wishes (although he is supposed to accept at least one).

Another major difference between the Brazilian scene and the Worlds is that Brazilian tournaments use to present themes weeks before the tournament, with the motion only being presented 15 minutes before the debate, as usual BP. Some tournaments, such as GV Debate and Open de Natal are changing this, too. The presence of themes makes some differences in the strategy in comparison to the Worlds.

However, there is no unique model in Brazil because many club debates were created before the creation of "Parli Brazil" and not all modified their rules. This is the case, for example, of the UFC Debate Society in Fortaleza ("Sociedade de Debates da UFC"), which was established in 2010. [43] In 2013, UFRN Debate Society was created ("Sociedade de Debates da UFRN") also made some changes based on the old "Clube de Debates de Natal" (Debate Club in Natal, Rio Grande do Norte). [44]

The model "Parli Brazil" only started its activities in 2014 with the realization of the I Brazilian Championship of Debates in the city of Belo Horizonte, making the second edition in the city of Fortaleza, and the third is scheduled to take place in the city of Florianópolis. [45] Since then, they were also created UFSC Debate Society ("Sociedade de Debates da UFSC") in 2014 [46] and the UFRJ Debate Society ("Sociedade de Debates da UFRJ") on June 25, 2015, [47] and others.

At IV Open Minas, hosted by the Brazilian Institute of Debates as a prep for CBD, some changes were implemented, when rules and reasoning stopped being judging criteria. The changes were adopted at V Brazilian Championship of Debates.

Policy debating

Policy debate is a fast-paced form of speech mostly commonly found in the U.S. Policy debate is composed of two teams of two which will advocate for and against a resolution (typically a proposed policy for the United States federal government). Affirmative teams generally present a proposal to implement the resolution. The negative will either try to disprove or undermine this plan or display that the opportunity costs of their opponent's plan are so great that it should not be implemented. Policy Debate is sometimes also referred to as cross-examination debate (shortened to Cross-X) because of the 3-minute questioning periods following each constructive speech.

Public debating

Public debate may mean simply debating by the public, or in public. The term is also used for a particular formal style of debate in a competitive or educational context. Two teams of two compete through six rounds of argument, giving persuasive speeches on a particular topic. [48]

Public forum debating

"Public forum" debating combines aspects of both policy debate and Lincoln-Douglas debate, but makes them easily understood by the general public by having shorter speech lengths, and long questioning periods, called "cross-fires", where the debaters interact. This form of debate is also designed to address current affairs, with topics that change monthly and address both U.S policy and international issues. This form of debate is primarily found within the United States. The core basis of this type of debate is to appeal for anyone who is eligible to become a jury member, unlike the policy debate or Lincoln-Douglas debate, which requires more experience in debate to judge.[ citation needed ]

Tibetan Buddhist debating

This is a traditional Buddhist form of debating that was influenced by earlier Indian forms. [49] The debating style was brought to and evolved within Tibet. This style includes two individuals, one functioning as the Challenger (questioner) and the other as the Defender (answerer). The debaters must depend on their memorization of the points of doctrine, definitions, illustrations, and even whole text, together with their own measure of understanding gained from instruction and study.

At the opening of a session of debate, the standing Challenger claps his hands together and recites the seed syllable of Manjushri, "Dhih". Manjushri is the manifestation of the wisdom of all the Buddhas and, as such, is the special deity of debate. In debate, one must have a good motivation, the best of which is to establish all beings in liberation.[ according to whom? ]

A characteristic of the Tibetan Buddhist style of debating is the hand gestures used by debaters. When the Challenger first puts their question to the sitting Defender, their right hand is held above the shoulder at the level of their head, and the left hand is stretched forward with the palm turned upward. At the end of their statement, the Challenger punctuates by loudly clapping together their hands and simultaneously stomping their left foot. They then immediately drawback their right hand with the palm held upward and, at the same time, hold forth their left hand with the palm turned downward. This motion of drawing back and clapping is made with the flow of a dancer's movements.[ neutrality is disputed ] Holding forth the left hand after clapping symbolizes closing the door to rebirth in the helpless state of cyclic existence.[ neutrality is disputed ] The drawing back and upraising of the right hand symbolizes one's will to raise all sentient beings up out of cyclic existence and to establish them in the omniscience of Buddhahood. The left hand represents "Wisdom" — the "antidote" to cyclic existence. The right hand represents "Method"[ according to whom? ] — the altruistic intention to become enlightened, motivated by great love and compassion for all sentient beings. The clap represents a union of Method and Wisdom. In dependence on the union of Method and Wisdom, one is able to attain Buddhahood. [50]

Turncoat debating

In this style of debating, the same speaker shifts allegiance between "For" and "Against" the motion. It is a solo contest, unlike other debating forms. Here, the speaker is required to speak for 2 minutes "For the motion", 2 minutes "Against the motion", and finally draw up a 1-minute conclusion in which the speaker balances the debate. At the end of the fifth minute, the debate will be opened to the house, in which members of the audience will put questions to the candidate, which they will have to answer. In the Turncoat format, emphasis is on transitions, the strength of argument, and the balancing of opinions.[ clarification needed ]

International Groups and Events

Asian Universities Debating Championship

United Asian Debating Championship is the biggest university debating tournament in Asia, where teams from the Middle East to Japan [51] [52] come to debate. It is traditionally hosted in Southeast Asia, where participation is usually highest compared to other parts of Asia. [53]

Asian debates are largely an adaptation of the Australasian format. The only difference is that each speaker is given 7 minutes of speech time, and there will be points of information (POI) offered by the opposing team between the 2nd to 6th minutes of the speech. This means that the 1st and 7th minute is considered the 'protected' period where no POIs can be offered to the speaker. [52]

The debate will commence with the Prime Minister's speech (first proposition) and will be continued by the first opposition. This alternating speech will go on until the third opposition. Following this, the opposition bench will give the reply speech.

In the reply speech, the opposition goes first and then the proposition. The debate ends when the proposition ends the reply speech. 4 minutes is allocated for the reply speech, and no POI's can be offered during this time.

International Public Debate Association

The International Public Debate Association (IPDA), inaugurated on February 15, 1997, at St. Mary's University (Texas) in San Antonio, Texas, is a national debate league currently active primarily in the United States. Among universities, it is unlikely that IPDA is the fastest growing debate association within the United States.[ citation needed ] Although evidence-based arguments are used, the central focus of IPDA is to promote a debate format that emphasizes public speaking and real-world persuasion skills over the predominate use of evidence and speed.[ according to whom? ] To further this goal, IPDA predominantly uses lay judges in order to encourage an audience-centered debate style.[ citation needed ] Furthermore, although the main goal of the debater is to persuade the judge, IPDA also awards the best speakers within each tournament.

IPDA offers both "team debating" where two teams, consisting of two people, debate and individual debate. In both team and individual debate a list of topics are given to the two sides thirty minutes before the start of the round. A negotiation ensues to pick a topic. The sides, one affirming the resolution and one negating the resolution, then prepare an opening speech, a cross-examination of the other side, and closing remarks for the round.

While most member programs of the International Public Debate Association are associated with colleges or universities, participation in IPDA tournaments is open to anyone whose education level is equivalent to high school graduate or higher.[ according to whom? ]

World Universities Peace Invitational Debate (WUPID)

WUPID is an invitational tournament that employs the BP or Worlds format of debating. It invites the top 30 debating institutions in accordance with the list provided by the World Debate Website administered by Colm Flynn. If any or some of the teams cannot participate, than replacements would be called in from the top 60 teams or based on strong recommendations from senior members of the University Debating community.

WUPID was first held in December 2007, with Sydney University being crowned champion. The second installation in 2008 saw Monash taking the trophy home. The third WUPID was held in Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) in December 2009. The first two tournaments were co-hosted by Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UNIKL).

WUPID was the brainchild of Daniel Hasni Mustaffa, Saiful Amin Jalun, and Muhammad Yunus Zakariah. They were all former debaters for UPM who took part at all possible levels of debating, from the Malaysian nationals to the World Championship.

Other forms of debate

Online debating

With the increasing popularity and availability of the Internet, differing opinions arise frequently. Though they are often expressed via flaming and other forms of argumentation, which consist primarily of assertions, formalized debating websites do exist. The debate style varies from site to site, with local communities and cultures developing. Some sites promote a contentious atmosphere that can border on "flaming" (the personal insult of your opponent, also known as a type of ad hominem fallacy), while others strictly police such activities and strongly promote independent research and more structured arguments.

Rule sets on various sites usually serve to enforce or create the culture envisioned by the site's owner, or in some more open communities, the community itself. Policing post content, style, and structure combine with frequent use of "reward" systems (such as reputation, titles, and forum permissions) to promote activities seen as productive while discouraging unwelcomed actions. These cultures vary sufficiently that most styles can find a home. Some online debate communities and forums practice Policy Debate through uploaded speeches and preset word counts to represent time limits present in the physical debate. [54] These virtual debates typically feature long periods of theoretical prep time, as well as the ability to research during a round.

Originally most debate sites were little more than online or bulletin boards. Since then, site-specific development has become increasingly common in facilitating different debate styles.

A televised debate held during the 2005 Chilean presidential elections. Debate televisivo Canal 13 CNN.jpg
A televised debate held during the 2005 Chilean presidential elections.

Debate shows

Debates have also been made into a television show genre.

See also

International high-school debating
International university debating

Related Research Articles

The Canadian University Society for Intercollegiate Debate is the national organization which governs all English language competitive university debating and public speaking in Canada. It sanctions several official annual tournaments and represents Canadian debating domestically and abroad. Its membership consists of student debating unions, sanctioned by their respective universities, from across Canada. CUSID has been described as "a student-run, parliamentary debate league with close ties to the American Parliamentary Debate Association".

Lincoln–Douglas debate is a type of one-on-one competitive debate practiced mainly in the United States at the high school level. It is sometimes also called values debate because the format traditionally places a heavy emphasis on logic, ethical values, and philosophy. The Lincoln–Douglas debate format is named for the 1858 Lincoln–Douglas debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas, because their debates focused on slavery and the morals, values, and logic behind it. LD debates are used by the National Speech and Debate Association, or NSDA competitions, and also widely used in related debate leagues such as the National Christian Forensics and Communication Association, the National Catholic Forensic League, the National Educational Debate Association, the Texas University Interscholastic League, Texas Forensic Association, Stoa USA and their affiliated regional organizations. The vast majority of tournaments use the current NSDA resolution.

Policy debate is a form of debate competition in which teams of two advocate for and against a resolution that typically calls for policy change by the United States federal government. It is also referred to as cross-examination debate because of the 3-minute questioning period following each constructive speech. Evidence presentation is a crucial part of Policy Debate; however, ethical arguments also play a major role in deciding the outcome of the round. The main argument being debated during a round of Cross Examination is which team has a greater impact. This factor alone can decide the winner of a round. Whichever team can prove the greater impact is likely to win the round. When a team explains why their impacts are "greater" than the opposition's impacts, they utilize the concept of "impact calculus." One team’s job is to argue that the resolution— the statement that we should make some specific change to address a national or international problem —is a good idea. Affirmative teams generally present a plan as a proposal for implementation of the resolution. On the other hand, the Negative teams present arguments against the implementation of the resolution. In a single round of debate competition, each person gives two speeches. The first speech each person gives is called a “constructive” speech, because it is the speech where each person constructs the basic arguments they will make throughout the debate. The second speech is called a “rebuttal”, because this is the speech were each person tries to rebut the arguments made by the other team, while using their own arguments to try to convince the judge to vote for their team. The Affirmative has to convince the judge to vote for a change, while the Negative has to convince the judge that the status quo is better than the hypothetical world in which the Affirmative's plan is implemented.

Congressional Debate is a competitive interscholastic high school debate event in the United States. The National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA), National Catholic Forensic League (NCFL) and many state associations and national invitational tournaments offer Congressional Debate as an event. Each organization and tournament offers its own rules, although the National Forensic League has championed standardization since 2007, when it began to ask its districts to use one of a number of procedures for qualification to its National Tournament. The Pakistan Student Congress event is a conference, and not interscholastic competition.

The American Parliamentary Debate Association (APDA) is the oldest intercollegiate parliamentary debating association in the United States. APDA sponsors over 50 tournaments a year, all in a parliamentary format, as well as a national championship in late April. It also administers the North American Debating Championship with the Canadian University Society for Intercollegiate Debate (CUSID) every year in January. Although it is mainly funded by its member universities, APDA is an entirely student-run organization.

The National Parliamentary Debate Association (NPDA) is one of the two national intercollegiate parliamentary debate organizations in the United States. The other is the American Parliamentary Debate Association. Its membership is national with participating schools on both coasts and throughout the country. As of 2015, NAPA was the largest debating organization in the United States with around 200-250 participating schools in any given year.

Public Forum debate is a type of current events debate which is a widespread form of high school debate in the U.S. Individuals give short speeches that are interspersed with 3 minute "Crossfire" sections, questions and answers between opposed debaters. The winner is determined by a judge who also serves as a referee. The debate centers around advocating or rejecting a position, "resolve", or "resolution", which is usually a proposal of a potential solution to a current events issue. Public Forum is designed to be accessible to the average citizen.

The World Schools Debating Championships (WSDC) is an annual English-language debating tournament for high school-level teams representing different nations.

Parliamentary debate is an academic debate event. Many university-level institutions in English-speaking nations sponsor parliamentary debate teams. In addition the format is currently spreading to the high school level. Despite the name, the parli is not related to debate in governmental parliaments beyond formal speaker titles such as "Opposition Leader" and "Prime Minister".

In all forms of policy debate, the order of speeches is as follows:

Inter-collegiate policy debate is a form of speech competition involving two teams of two debaters from different colleges or universities based on a resolution phrased as something the United States federal government "should" do. Policy debate also exists as a high school activity, with a very similar format, but different leagues, tournaments, speech times, resolutions, and styles.

British Parliamentary Style Style of competitive debate

British Parliamentary style debate is a major form of academic debate that originated in Liverpool in the mid 1800s. It has gained wide support across countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, and North and South America. It is the official style of the World Universities Debating Championship (WUDC); of regional and national major tournaments such as the Pan African Universities Debate Championship (PAUDC), All Nigerian Universities Debate Championship (ANUDC), Zimbabwe Debate Championship (ZiDC), Asian British Parliamentary (ABP) debating championship, Lagos Debate Open (LDO) and European Universities Debating Championship (EUDC); as well as of non-English language tournaments such as the World Universities Debating Championship in Spanish and World Debating Championship in Portuguese Language. Speeches are usually five to seven minutes in duration.

In competitive debate, most commonly in the World Schools, Karl Popper, and British Parliamentary debate styles, a Point of Information (POI) is when a member of the team opposing that of the current speaker gets to briefly interrupt the current speaker, offering a POI in the form of a question or a statement. This may be as a correction, asking for clarity, or just a plain question. As in some debating styles, such as World Schools Style, they often may not be offered in the first or last minute of any speech, or during reply speeches. Points of information may never be offered to a member of the same team.

World Schools Style debating is a combination of the British Parliamentary and Australia-Asian debating formats, designed to meet the needs of the World Schools Debating Championships tournament. Each debate comprises eight speeches delivered by two teams of three members, representing the Proposition and Opposition sides. The first six speeches are eight minutes in duration, with each team then finishing up by giving a four-minute concluding reply speech. Teams are given 30 to 60 minutes to prepare for their speeches.

Australia-Asia Debate, sometimes referred to as "Australasian Debating" or "Australs Style", is a form of academic debate. In the past few years, this style of debating has increased in usage dramatically throughout both Australia and the Asian region, but in the case of Asian countries including Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines, the format is also used alongside the British Parliamentary Format. The context in which the Australia-Asia style of debate is used varies, but it is commonly used in Australia at the primary and secondary school level, ranging from small informal one-off intra-school debates to larger more formal inter-school competitions with several rounds and a finals series which occur over a year. It is also commonly used at university level.

<i>The Arena</i> (TV series)

The Arena is a debate-style television show produced by Mediacorp Channel 5 in Singapore. Season 1 of the show was broadcast from January–March 2007. A second season, known as The Arena II, was aired from March–May 2008. The show involves teams of students from secondary schools in Singapore debating against each other on issues of topical interest.

Public debate may mean simply debating by the public, or in public. The term is also used for a particular formal style of debate in a competitive or educational context. Two teams of two compete through six rounds of argument, giving persuasive speeches on a particular topic.

Square Off is a television debate program broadcast on the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC). It broadcasts every Friday at 6:00 pm PST, with replays throughout the week. The show is hosted by Maiki Oreta and is primarily sponsored by the Philippine Graphic.

Asia World Schools Debating Championship, commonly coined as AWSDC, is an international debate competition founded by the Debate Society of Anglo Singapore International School in 2013. The 1st Asia World Schools Debating Championship was held from 1–8 August 2013 at Anglo Singapore International School's Campus in Sukhumvit 64, Bangkok, Thailand including 7 preliminary rounds, and single elimination playoffs thereafter. The tournament was centred on the theme, "Youth Activism: It's Our Turn". 30 teams from all over the world participated; including Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, China, Philippines, Korea, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and South Africa. The team from Anglo Chinese Junior College (Singapore) emerged as the tournament's first champions, going undefeated in all of its 11 matches.

This is a glossary of policy debate terms.


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