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The 9 Principles of Good Debating Cheat Sheet by

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Four Modes of Discourse

Narr­ation: Telling a story. tells or retells a sequence of events within a particular time frame for a specific purpose and needs a point of view.
Desc­rip­tion: That which appeals ot the five senses- may be inform­ative, impres­sio­nistic, organi­zat­ional, or contain figurative language
Expo­sition: That which explains or informs, used mostly in nonfiction especially articles, essays, and various books.
Argume­nta­tion: also be referred to as the Assert­ion­-with- Evidence essay. **Pres­enting a position in hopes that the reader will accept an assertion. Necessary parts are a clear assertion, qualifying or opposing another's view, and convincing the audience to change its own view.

Four Standards of Judgment

Conv­ention of Bilate­ral­ity: Argument is explicitly bilateral: it requires at least two people or two competing messages. The arguer, implicitly or explic­itly, is saying that he or she is presenting a message that can be examined by others.
Conv­ention of Self-R­isk: In argument, there is always the risk of being proven wrong.
The Fairness Doctri­ne: Our system of govern­ment, from the community level up to the Congress itself, is based upon the "­fai­rness doctri­ne."­ This, in itself, presents the following concept: the idea that debate (argument) ought to be as extended and as complete as possible in order to guarantee that all viewpoints are aired, consid­ered, and defended.
Comm­itment to Ration­ali­ty: When you argue or debate, a commitment is made to proceed with logic. When you make an assertion, you are saying, "This is what I believe and these are my reasons for that belief." As a debater, your commitment is to giving evidence, examples, data in support of your assertion -- reasons that you believe fully support your claim and should be accepted by the audience or the doubtful.

Evidence in Argume­ntation (Facts)

To support your propos­ition, one must present evidence. There are two (2) types of evidence used in argume­ntation : facts and opinio­ns. Facts consist of items that can be verified or proven. There are four (4) categories of facts:
By Scientific Measur­ement; one measures the and determines the measur­ements.
By the Way Nature Works; we know that there are specific patterns and establ­ished facts;
By Observ­ation; in courts of law, this consists of eyewitness testimony. In research, this might consist of a longit­udinal study of a phenomenon carried out over a period of years involving several hundreds or thousands of cases looking for and recording simila­rities and differ­ences.
By Statis­tics; Results from surveys and reports

Good Debating Principles


1. Questions or challenges should be profes­sio­nal. Insulting, condes­cen­ding, or comments involving personal language or attacks are unacce­ptable.

2. Critical analysis, synthesis, rhetorical skill, and wit are keys to debate success.

3. Focus on the opposing side’s position or argume­nt. Knowing the “other side” is critical for preparing strategies to refute your opponent’s arguments.

4. Limit your arguments to three or less.

5. Use logic to make your argume­nts. Present these arguments clearly and concisely.

6. Know the common errors in thinking like logical fallacies and use them effect­ively in your refuta­tion.

7. Present the content accura­tely. Only use content that is pertinent to your point of view and draw on support from author­itative sources.

8. Be certain of the validity of all external evidence presen­ted for your arguments. Also, challenges to the validity of evidence should be made only on substa­ntive grounds.

9. Your rebuttal (or conclu­sion) in a debate is your final summary positi­on. Use it as an opport­unity to highlight important issues that indicate proof of your points or refute your opponent’s argument.

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