Debate and Critical Analysis: The Harmony of Conflict

Debate and Critical Analysis: The Harmony of Conflict

Debate and Critical Analysis: The Harmony of Conflict

Debate and Critical Analysis: The Harmony of Conflict

Synopsis

Rather than approach debate primarily as a form of interscholastic competition, this unique book identifies it as an activity that occurs in many settings: scientific conferences, newspaper op-ed pages, classrooms, courts of law, and everyday domestic life. Debate is discussed as an integral part of academic inquiry in all disciplines. As in all fields of study, various competing views are advanced and supported; Debate and Critical Analysis is designed to better prepare the student to assess and engage them.

This text posits four characteristics of true debate -- argument development, clash, extension, and perspective -- which form the basic structure of the book. Each concept or aspect of argument covered is illustrated by an example drawn from contemporary or historical sources, allowing the reader to actually see the techniques and strategies at work. All popular forms of competitive debate, including "policy," "Lincoln-Douglas," "value-oriented," and "parliamentary," are discussed in detail -- as embedded in the actual topical controversies with which they are concerned. In this way, the student can learn the structures, reasoning processes, and strategies that may be employed, as well as the practical affairs of debating, from brief-writing to the flowsheet.

Excerpt

Some years ago, in sorting through the old books left in my faculty office by its previous occupant, I stumbled upon a copy of William Trufant Foster's 1908 text, Argumentation and Debating. It was everything I had despaired of finding in a debate text. Foster systematically explored the processes and strategies of analysis and argumentation in ways that rang true to my own experiences as a debater and teacher of debate. He approached debate not as an isolated activity for specialized competition, but rather as the stuff of our political, moral, and everyday lives. To illustrate techniques of argument, Foster drew upon historical and current controversies and added his own wry Yankee comments. Although Poster's book had been out of print for decades and was dated and incomplete in many ways, it provided an extraordinary model of what a text for classes in debate, argumentation and critical analysis could be. In countless ways, it has been the inspiration and daunting model for this book.

There have been other, more contemporary inspirations: people who have contributed greatly to the development of the ideas in this book. I gratefully acknowledge the work of my teachers, particularly Herb James and Bob Shrum; Matt Mason and Tom Foley, who were my partners not only in competition but in learning debate; John Meany, whose dedication to the intellectual and ethical integrity of debate change all who have the joy to work with him; and the many students of my own who have helped develop, sharpen, and challenge my understandings of . . .

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