You wish to begin a debate? Here are the main steps to creating a page.
1. Find a topic
Make sure that your debate isn’t already online
Try searching with different keywords to make sure that the topic isn’t already referenced.
Choose a topic that really is subject to debate
“Does God exist?” is a real topic of debate, as there are both people who defend the existence of God and his non-existence.
“Does Zeus exist?” is no longer a topic of debate amongst the public, as nobody really defends the existence of Zeus today.
2. Find a good title
Formulate a yes-no question
- “Should stores be opened on a Sunday?”
- “Can one joke about everything?”
- “Are we free?”
- “Why is the sky blue?”: the type of answer is “Because…”
- “What is a good government?”: the type of answer is “A good government is…”
- “Darwinism v. creationism”: this title isn’t question.
Make your titles clear and short
|Does the use of vaccines present health risks for humankind?
||Should be be vaccinated?
|Is the western world going through a global crisis, both morally, culturally and spiritually?
||Is Western Europe in decline?
|Is the theory of neurophysiological determinism valid?
||Do we have free will?
3. Try to find as many PRO and CON points of view
Research diverse and opposing media
To be as neutral and comprehensive as possible, go through a variety of sources: books, articles and sites holding a consensual point of view; but also sources which clearly embrace a point of view, be it a minority one. Get out of your comfort zone by reading opinions which aren’t your own.
To propose arguments that are truly being defended, as well as to give more consistency to arguments, quote textes (books, articles, studies, etc…). Write down the sources.
Important: Each quotation must be attributed to a single argument. Separate each part of a same text in support of a different argument.
Summarise each argument with a title
To better organise the outline, summarise each argument or each quotation in a sentence.
Titles DENYING the existence of God:
- “Nothing proves the existence of God”
- “Different religions contradict each other”
To save your research (outline, quotations, notes, etc.), remember to use your draft pages.
4. Write an outline
Classify your arguments as PRO and CON/FOR and AGAINST by listing them out before hand
You may want to list, on paper or elsewhere, the different PRO and CON, or FOR and AGAINST arguments of the debate.
For the following debate concerning “Should schools still use a grading system?” :
|Arguments IN FAVOUR
- Grades are biased
- Grades can be stressful for students
- Grades aren’t fair
- Grades favour competition amongst students
- There are better systems for academic evaluation
- Grades allow the student to know where he stands compared to others
- Grades are a source of motivation for students
- Grades are a fair and objective system
- Grading is the lesser of bad systems
How to classify the arguments which fall at the same time in the FOR and in the AGAINST category?
Sometimes, the same idea might yield positive outcomes from one perspective, and negative ones from another.
Within the debate "Should we establish a basic income?", the proposition that "A basic income allows one to work less" is both :
- a PRO argument : a basic income allows for more spare time for any other chosen activity one chooses;
- a CON argument: a basic income encourages idleness and less productivity.
Thus, it is not quite one single argument, both PRO and CON, but two different, seperate ones: one to be classified as PRO/FOR, and another to be classified as CON/AGAINST.
Group close arguments into families
Many arguments are variations of the same idea. To clarify the reading, try to group close arguments in the same family of arguments.
In the debate “Should we welcome more migrants? ", the arguments FOR "We practiced slavery ", "We colonised Africa”, and "Multinationals exploit the resources of African countries” can be united in the family “We must make reparation to African countries”.
Families correspond to the main arguments of the debate. On the FOR side as on the COUNTER side, try to reach between 4 and 10 families.
Look for objections
Each argument FOR or AGAINST can give rise to counter-arguments (or objections). Search in first the unavoidable objections to each argument.
For the debate "Should freedom of expression be total? ":
|Freedom of expression must be total for power to report abuse of power
- The criticism of the institutions is dangerous
- Freedom of expression is often the false nose of racism
|Freedom of expression must be limited to fight against hate speech
- The notion of incitement to hatred is vague
- Wanting to eradicate hatred leads to censorship regime
- Hatred is sometimes necessary
How to tell the difference between an objection and a AGAINST argument?
We take up the question of the debate and we try to answer: "No, because X", X being the proposition on which we have a doubt. If this sentence holds water, then X is an argument AGAINST. If the sentence seems odd or unsatisfactory, it may be an objection to a FOR argument, that it is search.
In the debate “Should we establish a basic income? ", The idea" Basic income only fights against extreme poverty ”is an argument AGAINST?
Test: Should we establish a basic income? No, because basic income only fights the extreme poverty.
This sentence is preposterous: it would not occur to someone to object to basic income for this reason (basic income is already a given if it fights extreme poverty).
On the other hand, is there a FOR argument of the debate to which this objection would apply? Yes, the basic income fights only against extreme poverty "is an appropriate response to the argument" The basic income helps fight poverty”. It is therefore an objection to a FOR argument.
Build on existing debates
Check out debates at different stages of advancement.
- A draft debate with the main FOR and AGAINST ideas: Should the notes be deleted at school?
- A detailed plan giving an overall vision of the debate: Are we in a democracy?
- A successful debate after many hours of work: Should we establish a basic income?
5. Create the debate page
Do you have a debate title and a plan? Enter your title below and click on "Create debate":