ERIC Number: ED212009
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1981-Nov
Reference Count: 0
Substance or Procedure: Misapplication of the "Tabula Rasa" Approach.
Rowland, Robert C.
Pointing out that the "tabula rasa" debate perspective is built on the assumption that free and open debate is the fairest and most accurate method of resolving disputes, this paper argues that the "tabula rasa" approach itself has not been subjected to a similar scrutiny. The paper notes that this perspective was derived from the legal community's experiences in deciding court cases and discusses how the legal version of the approach has been misapplied in the field of debate. It argues that judges in the law embrace a form of "tabula rasa" as a method of putting aside preconceptions in order to fairly evaluate issues, but that they also recognize that the perspective, if taken to an extreme, can produce inaccurate and unfair decisions. Debate judges, it continues, have not been so willing to adopt this limited version of "tabula rasa." By accepting the passive, unlimited version of "tabula rasa," debate judges have shifted the balance of argument in debate toward procedural issues and away from substantive questions of fact and policy. The paper proposes an active, but limited, "tabula rasa" model of debate evaluation that is designed to remedy such problems. It suggests that by establishing minimum standards that must be met by all arguments, the proposed model would encourage debaters to develop high quality theoretical and substantive arguments while avoiding theoretical trickery. (FL)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Tabula Rasa Approach
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Speech Communication Association (67th, Anaheim, CA, November 12-15, 1981).