debate unit: part 4 selecting debate patterns, attacking fallacies, & refutation


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  • ORGANIZING THE BODY OF SPEECH/DEBATE2 Basic forms of reasoning #1 Deduction/DeductiveBegins with a generally held truth (called a major premise) and arrives, often via a specific instance (called a minor premise), at a conclusion about a particular principle, policy, or problem.This form uses a formalized 3-step pattern (called a syllogism)Major Premise: is a generally held truthMinor Premise: is a specific instance or example Conclusion: Answer based on rationale from both premises

  • Examples of Deductive ReasoningMajor Premise: All teachers have college degrees.Minor Premise: Mrs. Bartel is a teacherConclusion: Therefore, Mrs. B has a college degree.This works as long as the major premise is accurate and the subject of the minor premise properly belongs/fitsAnother way to remember this is if either premise or minor premise is false, then the conclusion will be false.

  • Two Wrongs Do Not Make a RightA rule to remember about syllogisms is that if both premises are or contain a negative, no conclusion can be reached.Major Premise: No science teachers coach debateMinor Premise: Mr. Crisson is not a science teacher.Conclusion: Therefore, Mr. Crisson _____No conclusion can truly be reached. Speculation may occur, but no true answer may be deduced from the premise.

  • If you use the deductive pattern in a speech, then you will begin by stating a generalization that is already accepted by your listeners. You will then show that specific instances relate to the accepted generalization and thus lead logically to the specific conclusion.

  • EXAMPLE OF DEDUCTIVE PATTERNAccepted Generalization: Dishonest politicians should be removed from office.Specific Instances: In instances A, B, C, and D, Politician X has used the power of public office to increase his own power and wealth. (You would specify examples in A, B, C, and D)Specific Conclusion: Politician X should be removed from office.

  • 2nd type of reasoning is InductiveInductive Reasoningthe reverse of deductive reasoningYou would start with the specific facts or instances/examples and build from them to a general statement. Deductive can be seen as going from the bigger picture to the details or from the outside to the inside (outside in)Inductive starts with the details and then goes to the broader/bigger picture or from the inside to the outside (inside out)

  • ***Inductive reasoning is actually the way we build most of the assumptions we live by. Some logicians believe that all reasoning is ultimately inductive.If this is used in debate, begin with specific examples and then move to a conclusion dictated by those examples.

  • Examples of Inductive ReasoningSpecific 1: Former school debater Earl Hunsaker is now President of the Student Senate at State USpecific 2: Former school debater Dorothy Meredith is now a State RepresentativeSpecific 3: Former school debater Louis Hawker is now serving as our district attorneyConclusion or inference drawn: High school debate helps prepare students for positions of leadership and responsibility in our society

  • Although Inductive Reasoning is often used, it may still contain flaws and Inductive arguments need to be tested. Inductive reasoning may best be examined by asking questions about particular types of inductive reasoning. 4 main types of inductive reasoning:1. Reasoning by example2. Reasoning by analogy3. Sign reasoning4. Causal reasoning

  • Reasoning By ExampleFor this, you use selected examples support your main contentionYou may claim that the American League is superior to the National League and point to (1) the results of the World Series between 1980-2009 and (2) the ease with which certain players have improved their records when traded from the American League to the National League. Under each of these headings, you would provide specific examples.

  • Testing Reasoning By Example1. Are there a reasonable number of examples?2. Are the examples typical? 3. Do the examples cover the critical period of time being discussed?4. Are there enough negative examples to seriously damage your contention?5. Are the examples relevant to contention?You should answer yes to 1-3 & 5 and No to #4

  • Reasoning By AnalogyThis is based on comparisons of similar places, people, objects, or events. You may reason that since 2 people are alike in terms of certain things you know about them, they must be alike in other ways.ExampleAn Oklahoma legislator might contend that since a particular tax structure was working well for Texas, it should work well for Oklahoma. He could claim the two states are alike since they border on one another and since oil and cattle have contributed to the wealth of both.

  • Testing Reasoning by AnalogyAre there significant points of similarity?Are the differences crucial enough to destroy the analogy? **If you answer no to any of these, your reasoning is weak and most likely false.

    ***Although the analogy is often vivid and memorable, it is seldom very sound proof.

  • Reasoning From SignWe use this often. We learn to read signs to reason or make an educated guess. If your teacher comes to class wearing a suit on days of hard work and serious notes, you learn to connect the suit to hard work days. If your teacher dresses casually on days that you have informal, laid back activities, you learn to see the signs and connect them.

  • Testing Reasoning by SignIs the sign related to the anticipated state or action? (Can differences in a teachers clothes really relate to behavior pattern?)---Determine if the sign is accidental, occasional or typical2. Are there other signs which may be even more accurate predictors?(Finding consistencies such as if they dress a certain way every Tuesday or other)

  • Causal ReasoningThis means that people assert that one thing (cause) produces another (effect). If you take a known course of action (hitting another student in the face with a lemon pie as a part of a comedy act), we can predict the effect (audience laughter). You can also argue from effect to cause

  • Testing Causal ReasoningIs the alleged cause capable of producing the effect?Is the alleged cause the only factor that could account for the effect?Is the alleged cause capable of producing other, and undesirable effects?

  • Avoiding and Attacking FallaciesFallacies are errors in reasoning.There are many but the most common or most frequently occurring ones are known as the slovenly seven.Try to avoid them when building your own arguments and also try to expose them when your opponents use them.

  • The Slovenly SevenAd Hominen Attacks the person rather than the argument. Attacking someones religious beliefs, nationality, political party, or race needs to be avoided.Begging the Question-This is acting as if an argument is true when, in fact, it is the very question at issue. Centimeter-KilometerGive them a cent. and they will take a kilo (inch to mile). This consists of the idea to allow a certain action will inevitably lead to more serious consequences-when that is not necessarily true.

  • 4. Either-Or FallacyThis occurs when someone oversimplifies a problem and improperly reduces the number of alternative to two. The tendency is to see one side as right and one as wrong and not even realize there may be more than just two sides.5. False AnalogyWhen someone compares two things that are essentially unlike.

  • 6. False CauseThe fallacy of the false cause occurs when you label something as the cause of something else insufficient evidence. The false assumption here is that an event that happens first is necessarily the cause of an event that happens later.7. Hasty GeneralizationA statement or argument based on an insufficient number of examples. You make an assumption about a group based on one or limited examples.

  • Attacking Fallacies--RefutationRefutation is the process of attacking your opponents arguments.Each side is constantly trying to attack the other sides arguments while building up its own.During a debate, regardless of which side you are on, you would listen carefully to the opposing argument, and when its your turn, you attack any of the following errors:

  • Fallacious reasoninguse of the Slovenly SevenErrors in reasoningreasoning that does not meet sound standards of argument.Inconsistent statementsfor example, a governor who says education is at the top of his/her priority list and later in the same speech announces that actual funds for education will be cut in the coming year.

  • 4. Evidence that does not meet the test of good evidence.5. Lack of sufficient evidence.

    A General Pattern of Refutation To Follow1. Restate your opponents arguments as clearly & concisely as possible. Try to quote your point as exactly as possible. If not, that can be used against you by your opponent.

  • General Refutation Pattern cont.2. Show the significance of your opponents argument to his or her position. Show what will happen to your opponents case if you demonstrate that his or her argument is not sound.3. State concisely your objections to your opponents argument. Point out any errors.4. Introduce new evidence or reasoning to support your objections.5. Summarize your refutation, being sure to emphasize the effect of the refutation of your opponents case.