ERIC Number: ED366038
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1993-Nov
Reference Count: N/A
Does Style Negate Substance? The Use of Argument in Parliamentary Debate.
Epstein, Susan B.
Two debate rounds offered at the National Parliamentary Debate Association (NPDA) illustrate how debate could offer both style (the ability to communicate well) and substance (a message of significance and purpose). With the resolution "idealism is better than realism," debaters and judges were transported into a "Popeye" cartoon. Both teams ended up arguing in favor of Popeye breaking up with Olive Oyl but for different reasons: it was the ideal thing to do according to the government team, and the realistic thing to do according to the opposition. However, the Popeye round fails to pass the tests for effective arguments by example--the example of Popeye is not relevant, only one example is offered, and the example is not typical. Problems arise when parliamentary debaters argue by example and attempt to use examples as claims. Another debate resolved that "this house should tear down walls." The government team discussed tearing down walls in relation to the barriers that keep the United States from funding the space program, and the "house" was the appropriations committee. The government team and the opposition team provided legitimate arguments supported by general knowledge evidence to produce a superior debate about real issues. Unfortunately, parliamentary debate does not always have argumentation at its heart because examples are being offered as claims rather than as evidence. Style and effective delivery are important to the development of competitive debate, but style should not be a substitute for substance. (RS)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Debate Tournaments
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Speech Communication Association (79th, Miami Beach, FL, November 18-21, 1993).