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Debate Resolutions Should Not Be Questions

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Voting Style: Open with Elo Restrictions Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/12/2015 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 776 times Debate No: 68196
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (4)
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Debate resolutions should not take the form of questions.

First round for acceptance only.
Second round for arguments.
Third round is for conclusions.

Should be a short, sweet debate.
Debate Round No. 1


I thank my opponent for taking this debate.

1. Definition

resolution - a formal expression of opinion; a decision or determination

By its very definition a resolution is incompatible with a question. A resolution is a formal expression of opinion or a state of determination. This is why debates are generally started with a firm resolution.

For example:

America Is the Best Country In the World

That is a resolution. An expression of opinion that should hold up with some determination.

Now lets compare this to a question:

Is America the best country in the world?

This is the exact opposite of a resolution. You are inquiring into something which shows a lack of determination as it implies that you do not know the answer. How can you debate off of a question?

2. Answers

Questions can lead to resolutions. If you ask the question: "Is America the best country in the world?" and person A says YES and person B says NO it could start a debate. But the debate will not be started by the question itself but the answers received. When person B says NO they are in reality saying "America is not the best country on earth" which is a resolution. Answers can be resolutions, questions can not. This is a common misconception.

Again, a question can be a segue into a resolution via an answer but they themselves are not defensible positions.

3. Indefensible

Questions are indefensible. Debates require that one or both sides defend a position. This is not possible for questions.

Are traditional doors better than automatic doors?

You cannot defend this sentence without making an affirmation of some sort. Once it becomes an affirmation it is a resolution but until then it is merely a question and is, by definition, not a resolution. If you do not make an affirmation (a resolution) then you can only expect an answer, which is not a debate.


Questions can be used to create resolutions but they themselves are not resolutions.
The definition of a resolution and a question are incompatible, therefore a question should not be placed in a spot that a resolution is designed to go.
Questions are indefensible and therefore debates are really focused around answers and not questions.

Thus, debate resolutions should not be questions.

Thank you.


My opponent has the burden of proof to show that debate resolutions should not be questions. Put another way, he has to show why phrasing the resolution as a question is wrong.

In a practical sense, it's perfectly fine to phrase the resolution as "is America the best country in the world?" or "Are traditional doors better than automatic doors?" Obviously, the pro will be answering yes, and con will be answering no. It's especially appropriate when the burden of proof is shared, and the structure is not one of a statement being defended by one side.

Pro's argument has been entirely semantic, but he hasn't shown why we should care about semantics. Just as most people would agree that hamburgers don't have to have ham in them, and that women and married men are entitled to hold bachelor's degrees, I think they would agree that resolutions can be phrased in any way that is clear and useful for the debate to follow.

Perhaps in formal debate settings, for the sake of convention, resolutions are phrased in a particular way, but Pro did not specify formal settings for this debate. Given the context, I think we can assume the topic is any and all debates, and particularly online debates such as the ones we do here on DDO. So far, I can see a problem at all with resolutions phrased as questions.

Debate Round No. 2


My opponent merely says that in regards to a question that "Obviously, the pro will be answering yes, and con will be answering no." [sic].

I do not think that this is obvious at all. If someone asks a question, a) I am not assuming that they already know the answer or b) if it is a question of opinion I cannot assume which side they are taking just merely based on the fact that they have asked a question.

My opponent claims my arguments have been "entirely semantic" when I have not used semantics to bolster my arguments at all. Rather I have been using common sense. I am trying to convey that the common sense way to take a stand in a debate is to affirm something. I already conceded that questions can start a conversation that leads to an actual resolution being stated which then leads to a debate. But the question itself is not a resolution but rather a segue.

My opponent has completely ignored my arguments by saying they were semantic, which they were not. Then merely says we are to assume something when a person makes a question their debate resolution.

Making such assumptions is risky and in bad form while debating or trying to make a good point or argument in the first place.

In conclusion...

My arguments were not rebutted in any meaningful way other than being dismissed out of hand by a weak claim of semantics. A claim which isn't even true.

My opponent basically states what I already clarified in my first round, questions can be a lead up to debate but in order to actually debate a resolution must be stated. One cannot debate "Is the United State the Best Country On Earth?" without one person making a clear resolution (yes or no). If the question merely stands there is nothing to debate.

Therefore, my opponent has made no good arguments as rebuttal and has offered no good arguments of his ow to counter my points made in the first round.

Please Vote Pro. Thank you.


Pro's argument rests on the definition of "resolution". He argues that a resolution is a statement and therefore it cannot be a question.

And yet, as we all know, debate resolutions are often framed as questions. Here are some examples of debate resolutions framed as questions, which went on to perfectly good debates:

These are just some recent examples of something that is fairly common practice.

Pro had the burden of proof to show why the intiator in these and similar debates were wrong to phrase the resolution as they did. It's not enough to say that the word "resolution" does not mean question, when debate resolutions on this site at least obviously do include questions sometimes. Those debates where the resolution is phrased as a questions go ahead in exactly the same way as those debates where the resolution is framed as a statement, so I think that people should continue to phrase their resolutions as questions if they like doing it that way.
Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by Shrek_sDrecKid 1 year ago
Because these are all amateur debates whether you like it or not - unless you can tell university professors otherwise and convince them to make this site a scholarly source...
Posted by Wylted 1 year ago
This resolution should read: "should resolutions be questions", with you being con.
Posted by Clovis 1 year ago
Yet debate resolutions on this site are frequently put in the form of questions...
Posted by dtaylor971 1 year ago
This is quite easy to affirm. A resolution is often responded by,

"I negate the resolution" or "I affirm the resolution." When you insert a question in there, it doesn't work.

"I negate [should abortion be legal?] or "I affirm [can an atheist have morals?]" It simply doesn't make sense...
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