This article is intended to be read by newcomers to this website: here, I will introduce concepts such as the burden of proof, introduce information about fallacies, show you how to format debates, and show you how to make convincing arguments.
Burden of proof
The burden of proof is basically the burden to provide proof for your position on an issue. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophic_burden_of_proof)
Usually, the burden of proof falls on the person making the positive claim. Here, I will show you why this is:
"Bananas are red because you cannot prove that they aren't red."
Makes less sense than:
"Bananas are not red because there is no proof yet that they are red."
In the first statement, you are asked for proof that bananas are not red, yet on the second statement, you are asked to prove that your claim, "bananas are red" is true. If we did not have the burden of proof, then this could happen:
"A is true because you cannot prove that it isn't"
"No, A is not true because you cannot prove that it is"
"But, A is true because you cannot prove that it isn't"
And so on and so forth.
Another example is Russel's teapot: Someone makes a claim that there is an invisible teapot that does not have any effect on the physical world. If the burden of proof fell on the person with the negative position, then the statement would be impossible to refute because it is utterly unfalsifiable. However, if the burden of proof fell on the person claiming that the teapot exists, then the teapot is assumed to not exist because there is a lack of evidence.
Fallacies are errors made in logic: when someone's conclusion does not match the reasons they found to argue for that conclusion, it is a fallacy.
1. All bananas are yellow
2. There are yellow apples
Conclusion: Yellow apples are bananas
This is a fallacy because the logic does not make sense.
Another example is the strawman fallacy:
Let's say that Bob argued for the position Y. Joe disagrees with Bob.
If Joe argues against Y using logic and evidence, no fallacy occurs.
However, if Joe argues against a similar, but more extreme or simplified, position X, then he has made a strawman fallacy: he has misrepresented Bob's case.
In debate, you should try to spot fallacies in your opponent's arguments to make them easier to refute, and fix fallacies in your own arguments to make them more logically sound.
I recommend that you format your debates by making each argument under a different subheading. For example, let's say that you are arguing for the case that "X is superior to Y".
Instead of doing this:
X is superior to Y because 1. bla bla bla bla bla flajlfjfso ajofkire ifkien k oiear kjnfvoia fdnkjeoi fnkasf jelmwasifnkewndFAnawnfoids neifad fjeldjfoirejlfdn isnfenjkfhiewl f 2. igfjaifdeiaoi afa foijaeo fjoieafjoi aijof oej oa jfjdlkghrhojkd hgirengihyty jijoi eaojdsijoidsfjlxjlkfds
X is superior to Y because:
bla bla bla bla bla flajlfjfso ajofkire ifkien k oiear kjnfvoia fdnkjeoi
fnkasf jelmwasifnkewndFAnawnfoids neifad fjeldjfoirejlfdn
2. HEADING 2
igfjaifdeiaoi afa foijaeo fjoieafjoi aijof oej oa jfjdlkghrhojkd hgirengihyty jijoi eaojdsijoidsfjlxjlkfds
Grammar and spelling are also important in debates, too. Use a web browser like Firefox, which has a built-in spellcheck feature, or use a word processor like Microsoft Word to check your argument for grammar and spelling. You should also proofread your arguments in case they do not catch all of the errors.
Your arguments should be logical, and should be checked for fallacies.
First of all, you should do some research. Use facts from the internet or books to find evidence for your case. Then, put the evidence in your arguments, and remember to put them in your own words and cite your sources properly to avoid plagiarism and show where the evidence came from.
Second of all, you should make your argument based on the evidence you find: do not just put the evidence in there. Instead, you should explain why the evidence shows that your case is right.
Third of all, you should make sure that your arguments are free of fallacies.
Now, you are ready to debate!