Debate and Critical Analysis: The Harmony of Conflict

By Robert James Branham | Go to book overview

3
RESEARCH AND EVIDENCE

As debaters seek to gain the assent of an audience, they must support their claims with proof. "Proof," Wharton observed in Criminal Evidence, "is the basis for accepting a proposition as true" ( Torcia, 1985, p. 3). Evidence is the means through which proof is established, the observations and testimony that may lead us to conclude that a claim has been substantiated.

An unevidenced claim is a mere assertion, and generally is discredited in debate. When faced with a controversial assertion, we naturally ask "But, can you prove that?" Scientist Thomas Huxley described this challenging impulse as a valuable habit of mind, "believing nothing unless there is evidence for it," and "looking upon belief which is not based upon evidence, not only as illogical, but also as immoral" (quoted in Foster, 1908, p. 53).

The ability to understand, develop, and support argumentative claims is gained through research. The functions of debate research are really threefold: to gather background information on the designated topic; to discover the most important issues and arguments related to the topic; and, finally, to gather evidence in support of one's own prospective arguments and in refutation of the arguments expected from one's opponents. Most research time should be devoted to the last of these three tasks. Locating the best available evidence with which to substantiate one's claims, however, is no easy matter and requires mastery of a systematic approach to the conduct of research.

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Debate and Critical Analysis: The Harmony of Conflict
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • 1 - The Nature and History Of Debate 1
  • 2 - The Structures of Advocacy And Opposition 30
  • 3 - Research and Evidence 69
  • 4 - Argument Anticipation And Briefing 96
  • 5 - Refutation 116
  • 6 - Counterpositions And Counterplans 150
  • 7 - Strategies for Moral Argument 177
  • 8 - The Form and Techniques Of Debate 207
  • References 233
  • Author Index 237
  • Subject Index 240
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