ERIC Number: ED330014
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1991-Apr
Reference Count: N/A
Debate and Critical Thinking.
Although academic debate is not viewed highly by many in the critical thinking movement, most of the attacks are based on a misperception of the activity, while others target faults that are not inherent to the activity. Contrary to the claim that debaters seek only to win, this desire is regulated by rules of evidence, time limits, rules governing what can be argued, and voluntary disclosure of arguments and evidence. In addition, the claim that winning is everything emphasizes the advocates in a debate instead of the judge, who forms a reasoned judgment based on the positions advocated. In regard to the claim that debaters rely on poor evidence, it should be noted that most cases in law are forced to rely on imperfect evidence, and debaters already attack the qualifications of evidence in debate. Teachers may supplement this with lectures on the relative strength of sources, and judges can reinforce this by placing more weight on sources of high quality. Finally, given the time limits in debate and the use of a neutral third party, the argument that debaters win through persistence, not merit, does not have much credibility. The use of trained judges, basing their decisions on reasoning, rebuts the argument that debate focuses on insincerity and flattery. Debate is an excellent way to train students to be critical thinkers. Rather than drawing a model of critical thinking from formal logic, the model should be drawn from freedom of speech, where truth emerges only through an adversarial system involving advocates and critics. (TD)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Debate Theory; Evidence
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Central States Communication Association (Chicago, IL, April 11-14, 1991).