What are the elements of a good debate?
A debate can be a learning experience for all involved. Or, it can turn into a horrible session of anger and accusations, war of words, and hurtful criticism. What do you feel is needed for a successful debate?
Use logic, not emotion in a debate.
Attack the issue, not the person.
The question that needs answering is not, who is right, but what is right.
Seek to understand the other persons point of view before proving that you're right.
You don't want to shoot the other person down and make them feel stupid.
In a good debate, you want the other person to understand you, not show that you're better than them.
Remember that the fate of the world doesn't depend on who wins the debate.
If you win or lose the debate, always leave as friends, not enemies.
I haven't been in a debate for a while, but I remember I had one in my Health & Society class (if that was the name of the class). I made sure I read all my research material, and did a pros and cons checklist. When the day arrived, I was prepared. I had to work with a team and since I'm quite versatile, I wasn't angry we hadn't practice to make our debate as presentable as I'd like. I answered way too many questions, talked out of turn, and tried to make first impression. But the class was really feeling it (I hope so) because we were asked some questions, that indicated some interest in the topic about inner city youth. I loved the part, but due to not practicing, we could have done better.
Debate and argument are not the same. When debate spirals out of control then it is no longer a debate. To be good in a debate, whether it's online or in an academic setting, it's important to know and understand your topic from a well-rounded perspective. One good tactic is to take the opposing argument and prevent refuting evidence.
"X and such group would have you believe that this and such is true, but here are the 3 studies that prove that this is not the case... etc.
Winning a debate should come down to facts, backing up ones position with credible evidence - and it should also engage people to further research and personalize the subject. Making people want to learn more is the sign of victory in a debate. It isn't about "you", but about the subject itself.
I like the answers everyone else gave. I'd also add that words and phrases have to be defined so that everyone involved knows how they're being used. If not, things get confusing and arguments start because of simple misunderstandings that could've been avoided.
A genuine debate in my opinion involves two or more individuals/parties using knowledge based on sound research or experience to address an issue of common concern.
Proper debate is not about closed minds and argument (which is simply taking a contrary position) but a sincere attempt at truthful expression with open minds and a willingness to adapt and change.
Most political debate I've watched is kind of rhetorical in the sense that most speakers already know what they're going to say, and read from prepared scripts. Some do change as the debate progresses and this I think is the essence of pure debate - a willingness to listen and respond in reasonable language, without descending into any form of personal attack, and without deviating from the subject being debated.
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