The Instigator
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The Contender
Con (against)
5 Points

BOP should always be shared in debates

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/23/2015 Category: People
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 538 times Debate No: 75704
Debate Rounds (3)
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I will argue why burden of proof (BOP) should always be shared when having a debate, my opponent should be able to explain why he/she in this situation or in any other debate should not share the hardship

No forfeiters please

Good luck Con


I accept the debate.

I am looking forward to an interesting philosophical debate.

I agree that the Burden of Proof (BoP) should often
be shared between the opposing sides in a debate, however the BoP must sometimes fall on only side. This is what I will argue for.

Pro has not stated otherwise, so I will present my argument in this round. Note that according to the resolution, highlighting "always", I only have to give one or a few examples of debates where the BoP should not be shared.

The burden of proof - scientific and non-scientific

"An extraordinary claim requires extraordinary proof." - Marcello Truzzi [1]

Imagine a claim, of something thought impossible. Let's say I have a cube in my living room. The cube:
  • Is floating
  • Has no matter or antimatter (and thus no gravity)
  • Is invisible
  • Emits or reflects no lightwaves
  • Emits or reflects no soundwaves
  • Any mass can move trough it without restrictions
  • Etc (it has no characteristics that can be detected by us)

There is clearly no way to prove or disprove the existence of this cube, by our ways of detection. Yet I still claim this cube to be there. I am making an extraordinary claim here, and as Marcello Truzzi would agree, I should need extraordinary proof to back it up.

I am the one making this claim, and I should provide the proof. Why should the opposing side of the claim need to provide proof, when there is simply no way to disprove the statement that this cube exists?

The scientific philosopher Karl Popper defines a theory as scientific or non-scientific (pseudoscience or imagination) by its falsifiability [2]. Falsifiable means that it is possible to falsify. This obviously does not mean that every scientific theory needs to be wrong, only that it must, in theory, be possible to falsify it to know whether it is wrong or not.

We derive from this that my previous example of a floating cube is not a scientific theory. To bring this back down on the ground, we can look at another example, and perhaps a more standard topic on this site: "The US is more powerful than China". Here, the BoP should quite obviously be shared, because the theory can be falsified - the one side can prove that the US is more powerful, and vice versa.

To conclude: If the theory is falsifiable, the BoP can be shared. However, if the theory is not falsifiable, the BoP must be on the one side making the claim. This is in order to force the side making the claim to present proof, which can then be disproved (falsifying the theory) or verified (making the theory valid unless it conflicts with other theories that are better supported).

In other cases:

While this was the most essential type of debates where the Burden of Proof actually must be shared, the Burden of Proof is often forced on one side by the Instigator in a debate. This usually happens when a claim simply conflicts with what is regarded as "common sense", or when the claim conflicts with things that are already physically established.

In these cases I more often than not believe that the BoP should be shared, for a more equal, open and interesting debate. However, there is still a minority of debates where


[1] Wikipedia, "Marcello Truzzi",, (accessed 23. 05. 2015).
[2] Shuttleworth, Martyn. "Falsifiability".;(accessed 23. 05. 2015)

Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for accepting, and I'm pleased you have started.

If someone makes a claim against what's established e.g. nukes are a hoax, this might seem like an extraordinary claim to many people, but it won't be for everybody, when I heard it my first thought was it could be true, therefore extraordinary claims do not require an extraordinary proof.

Although it is illogical to demand evidence for an absence of something, or to ask someone to prove something does not exist at any place or time, like the cube you described, we should always assume that if someone makes a claim they have a reason for believing it, no matter how strange it may seem to us, and that someone who does not believe them also have reasons for not believing. The burden of proof should thus be shared equally to make the debate fair. There is no need to wait for someone to present their argument first either, you say there is no way someone can disprove your cube, but they can by showing it defies the laws of physics.

Someone cannot possibly prove that there is a dog somewhere which can talk like a human, if someone makes such a claim because they saw a dog talk on Britain's Got Talent, someone can prove dogs can't talk by referring them to the link below, and using other sources.

A positive assertion is when you say something is true, a negative assertion is when you say something is false. It is often said that the burden of proof rests on the person making the positive assertion but not the person making a negative assertion (because apparently you can't prove something doesn't exist). However it is possible to rephrase a statement so that a positive assertion is a negative one e.g. 'X is even' = positive which is the same as saying 'X is not odd' = negative. This means it is just as easy to prove something is false as it is to prove something's true.

Unfortunately it looks like the last part of your argument has been cut off, but I think I have made my points clear and I look forward to the next round


Thank you for your argument.

First of all, let me apologize for and correct two mistakes from my previous round.

There was a small spelling error in the second source. This is the correct one:
[2] Shuttleworth, Martyn. "Falsifiability". (accessed 23. 05. 2015).

The last sentence was indeed cut of. It was not in any way central to my argument, but it should have ended like this: "However, there is still a minority of debates where the claim is unfalsifiable, and thus require the BoP to be fully on one side."

Refutations, by section:

Section 1: With the example of the nuke being a hoax, I agree that the BoP should be shared, because it can be disproved, as according to my previous conclusion. Marcello Truzzi's quote ("An extraordinary claim requires extraordinary proof.") holds true, in that would indeed require extraordinary proof to show that nukes are a hoax. This would involve disproving articles, video recordings, personal accounts, and parts of established science itself. All this is definitely what I would characterize as extraordinary evidence.

Section 2:
Secondly, Pro asserts that "we should always assume that if someone makes a claim they have a reason for believing it, no matter how strange it may seem to us". This argument is actually in my favor. If they actually have a true reason for believing it, then surely they should have no problem showing evidence for this? If they do so, the opposing side in the debate actually has something to agree with or argue against. If they can't show evidence, then surely they have no reason for their beliefs. Moreover, if they do not show any evidence, yet claim something unfalsifiable is true, the opposing side again has nothing to disprove or approve.

I'm also not sure why Pro attacks my example with the cube. It was simply meant as an example of a ridiculous claim that someone could make, that is also impossible to argue against. My point is, people can make claims that are unfalsifiable by definition. Therefore, the BoP must lie on the one making the claim, because it is impossible to falsify it. One could add to the cube the characteristics of being omnipotent, that it defies any law of nature etc. but I'm sure you get the idea.

Section 3:
I agree with the example of the dog: As I have already explained, as long as the theory or claim in question is falsifiable (as in this example), I agree that the BoP should be shared.


My case, as explained in the first round, still stands true. As long as a theory or claim is unfalsifiable, the BoP must rest on the one making the claim. My opponent has not made any arguments for why the BoP should be shared when a theory is unfalsifiable.

Good luck!
Debate Round No. 2


Falsifiability is the belief that for any hypothesis to have credence, it must be inherently disprovable before it can become accepted as a scientific hypothesis or theory.

If someone claims 'God exists', it is not possible for a scientist to disprove or falsify this YET, but should the BoP rest on the person making this claim? A proof doesn't need to be scientific, so the BoP can always be shared equally.

I didn't mean to "attack" your cube example, I was merely trying to show that a claim which is unfalsifiable is actually possible to falsify and that there is no statement which cannot be proven wrong or shown to be less likely to be true than another.


Thank your for your argument


My opponents argument boils down to the idea that every claim or theory can befalsified. This is false. One can make an infinite amount of theories and claims that cannot be falsified, and most likely never will be. This site [1] provides two more examples, along with explanations for each example. My example of the cube is also still perfectly viable, as I have explained previously.


In a rational society, we need accepted facts or theories to be based upon evidence. For a theory or idea to be accepted as truth, it must have the greater amount of proof infavorof it compared to other theories. This means that people can't come up with impossible claims and theories, or ones that are impossible to falsify, without having to provide proof for it themselves. This is the way of any rational society. If it wasn't this way, people would be able to come up with the most absurd things and make people accept it as truth, because there was no evidence against it.

During the Dark Ages, many women were burned or drowned as witches by the church, because people were convinced that they were witches. There was obviously no actual evidence for it, but no evidence against it either.Is this what we want in our modern society? There is a very important principle in law, which states: "Innocent until proven guilty." This can be translated to "False until proven true." It is always the task of the claimant to provide evidence for the claim. Surely we don't want a society where it is the other way around: "True until proven false"? "Guilty until proven innocent?"

Vote Con.


[1] Bennet, Bo. "Unfalsifiability". Logically Fallacious. 25.05.2015)

I would like to thank my opponent for an interesting and educational debate.
Debate Round No. 3
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1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Kreakin 1 year ago
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: Argument to Con as he is correct that the resolution specifies "always". This was a big error for Pro as Con easily showed that it is not "always" the case. When I started to read this I thought God was going to come into this and it eventually did which was disappointing. Alongside the irrational argument that having a belief for an unspecified reason makes it valid to put the BOP on both parties(Round 2) it appeared to reveal, rightly or wrongly, a religious agenda. ie I believe in God and I need to prove it exists but you need to prove he doesn't. Con rightly pointed out that the claimant needs to provide the proof to back up their claim if it appears their is no reason to suppose such a claim. Sources have to go to Con as Pro used the Mirror as a source which, whilst making a point does detract somewhat as to Pros credibility. That's not to say Wikipedia is a good source either, however the source on falsifiability was. Happy to discuss reasoning further & thanks for de