The Instigator
mongeese
Pro (for)
Losing
41 Points
The Contender
TheSkeptic
Con (against)
Winning
44 Points

Definitions posted by the Instigator in Round 1 should be treated more like rules than contentions.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/12/2009 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 4,772 times Debate No: 10430
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (72)
Votes (15)

 

mongeese

Pro

Definition - a statement of the meaning of a word or word group or a sign or symbol (http://www.merriam-webster.com...)
Instigator - the person who starts a debate on this site
Round 1 - The first round of said debate
rule - a prescribed guide for conduct or action (http://www.merriam-webster.com...)
contention - a point advanced or maintained in a debate or argument (http://www.merriam-webster.com...)
More rules:
1. My opponent has to debate as if the resolution is "Definitions posted by the Instigator in Round 1 should be treated more like contentions than rules," and he/she is PRO.
2. The resolution refers to general cases, a typical debate on DDO, not extreme cases.

Sometimes, debaters start a debate with a clear set of rules, such as in the following:
http://www.debate.org...
http://www.debate.org...
I think that definitions should be counted as rules. Sometimes, you see people say, "I agree with all definitions stated by my opponent." I think that if a person doesn't agree with a R1 definition, that person should either debate as if he/she did agree or not accept the debate, as one would with a rule.

For example, let's say that I started a debate with the resolution, "Most tables are made of wood." In the first round, I state my definition for table: a piece of furniture consisting of a smooth flat slab fixed on legs (http://www.merriam-webster.com...)
My opponent then accepts the debate, and says, "I disagree with your definition. I think that the definition should be: a systematic arrangement of data usually in rows and columns for ready reference. These are obviously not made of wood. I win."

This would obviously seem very semantical, and very stupid. And yet, it has happened before.

http://www.debate.org...

I believe that definitions are not disputable in such cases, and must be accepted upon accepting the debate.

More reason for this is because when the Instigator posts a definition, the Contender already knows exactly how the debate has been defined, and therefore has the full liberty to either discuss the definitions in the Comments or refuse to accept until definitions are changed. However, if the Contender changes the definition to what the Instigator does not like, then it is too late for the Instigator to back out of the debate. Going by the proposition I support, the Instigator and Contender have completely equal power in determining the definitions of a debate. However, by the proposition my opponent supports, the Contender would have a clear advantage over how the debate will go.

Finally, the Instigator defines things to make the debate what he or she wants to debate. If the Contender redefines a word, the Instigator is no longer debating what he or she actually wanted to debate, which is unfair. Both the Instigator and the Contender should approve of definitions, as that is fairest, and definitions are what determine the entire flow of the debate, and that is exactly what the proposal I support does.

So, here's a little fact sheet:

Definitions are used by the Instigator in Round 1 to show exactly what he means in his resolution. Definitions allow for the resolution to be simpler. Definitions in the Instigator's Round 1 are rarely, if ever, dropped and/or changed, and usually only with agreement between the Instigator and the Contender. If the Contender protests the definition of a word when the word was already clearly defined by the Instigator in Round 1, then the Contender almost always loses the argument, no questions. If a person does not like a definition in the debate, he/she should not accept that debate.

Rules are used by the Instigator in Round 1 to show exactly how the Instigator wishes for the debate to work out.
Rules allow for the Instigator to have a little bit of control over the debate, although rules are usually equal in restriction for the Instigator and the Contender; few people would accept a debate that is heavily weighted against the Contender by rules. Rules are only used in Round 1, unless both the Instigator and the Contender agree to either abolish or introduce a new rule into the debate. If the Contender protests a rule that was put into place by the Instigator in Round 1, then the Contender almost always loses the argument, no questions. If a person does not like a rule in the debate, he/she should not accept that debate.

Contentions are used by the Instigator in Round 1 to show how the Instigator is going to debate. Contentions can be brought up at any time during a debate, with the exception of the Contender's last round. They are used to affirm or negate a resolution, rather than define it. When the Contender protests that one of the Instigator's contentions is false or invalid or wrong, or anything else, this is perfectly normal. The Contender explains why, and then they debate as normal, which does not happen with rules and definitions. If a person does not like the Instigator's contentions, he/she can post his/her own contentions to counter them, and/or point out flaws in the original contentions. This is perfectly okay. Contentions can actually be correct or incorrect, as opposed to rules and definitions.

So, definitions and rules are similar in that they are used in Round 1 by the Instigator to show how the debate goes in course and resolution, and it usually takes an agreement to drop or change a definition or rule. They are similar in that when a person disagrees with them, he/she should not accept the debate, rather than argue against them unfairly.

Thank you to whoever accepts.
TheSkeptic

Con

I thank mongeese for starting this debate, and I'm hoping too put my 2 cents onto this topic. It's quite commonly addressed among debaters, and unfortunately there's been a rampant shared belief that definitions should be treated more like rules than contentions. This may very well be the case in a formal debate in which the definitions are supplied beforehand by some official, but in an informal debate among scientists, philosophers, intellectuals, etc. you will notice this is absolutely not the case. And there are very convincing reasons for why.

So this is what I'm going to do. I will first present a simple positive argument for why the contender should not enter a debate, then respond accordingly to my opponent's point that may have been left untouched by my first argument.

====================
In many areas of discussion, definitions are the focus of a debate
====================

It would be simply folly to think that conceiving of a definition makes it a foundational focal point for a discussion; if this would be true, then definitions would all be arbitrary and any attempt at an intellectual discourse would be absurd. We find that in many controversial topics that are entertained even on this website, finding the CORRECT definition is key. You may be thinking that it sounds silly that there can be a correct definition (after all, you can decide in your head that cat means dog, bread means poop, etc.), but if you are seeking the truth then this is feasible.

For example, take the abortion debate. The main split happens at the issue of personhood, in which a person is a morally and legally relevant entity. Thus the debate is about two things - what constitutes personhood and does a fetus qualify. The focus would be on what the correct definition of personhood, since supposedly personhood is actualized in the combination of properties, one's nature, etc. The idea of a correct definition would only be suitable if the goal in making a correct definition would be to accurately refer to a corresponding subject - if I want to figure out if a fetus should have rights, then I need to know what type of entity deserves rights to begin with (and what rights themselves are). If someone were to define personhood as the ability to twirl a pencil, then obviously abortion debates would be absurd. In the context of an abortion debate, in which the goal is to find the truth about the moral situation of abortion, using the correct definition is imperative.

Arguments over the correct definition/representation/etc. of an idea happens many times in philosophy. As mentioned before, the debate in abortion often centers around one's conception of personhood. In the debate about free will, there is a common struggle between those who support the Leeway model of control and the Source model of control. Accepting one of these models (the two are incompatible obviously) leads to significant consequences for the free will debate.

====================
Responses to several of my opponent's claims
====================

If someone doesn't agree with an instigator's R1 definition, then he can simply accept the debate and attack the definition. Even though this may stray from the topics, this is legitimate and perhaps an even more fundamental point. We don't see anything wrong or unfair if I were to be CON for the proposition "we are morally obligated to help those in need" by arguing moral facts don't exist - this would be hitting a more fundamental point that the resolution likely assumes to be true. Likewise, attacking an opponent's definition is to show his own conceptual understanding of the topic is wrong.

In response to your table example, if someone were to offer that definition then you can DEFEND your definition, by pointing to the context of how it was used and showing that your argument was using the definition you proposed and not your opponent's. There is nothing in the idea of not treating definitions as rules that forbides the instigator from defending his definition - indeed this would be encouraged.

"So, definitions and rules are similar in that they are used in Round 1 by the Instigator to show how the debate goes in course and resolution, and it usually takes an agreement to drop or change a definition or rule. They are similar in that when a person disagrees with them, he/she should not accept the debate, rather than argue against them unfairly".

----> You hammer on this point, by arguing that many times the contender will abuse definitions by seeing the context of what the instigator is arguing, and warp a critical word. And I agree, this is low. But remember, the instigator CAN and SHOULD defend his own definitions.

====================
Conclusion
====================

My opponent's main point was to show that the contender can and often does abuse the resolution by redefining key words; what he forgets is that the instigator can put the contender back in his place by demonstrating the incompatibility between the debate subject and the re-definition on the contenders' part. Since most topics in a debate deal with finding the truth, having the correct definition should be important. Thus, what the instigator defines in his first round shouldn't be taken as a rule that you implicitly agree to when accepting the debate - it's perfectly permissible to accept a debate and point out the flaws of the instigator's definition.
Debate Round No. 1
mongeese

Pro

Thank you, TheSkeptic, for your response.

I would first like to note that my opponent has not responded to my contentions regarding fairness.

"In many areas of discussion, definitions are the focus of a debate."

My opponent assumes that if definitions were established as rules, then any attempt at debate would be absurd. However, people would rather quickly realize which types of definitions people are willing to debate over and which ones people are not. Nobody would attempt a debate in which "cat" means "dog," as nobody would be willing to accept, and if anybody would accept, then who are we to stand in that person's way? Additionally, my opponent tries to establish the existence of a "correct" definition. However, a definition is merely an interpretation of a word, and who better knows the intended definitions of the Instigator than the Instigator himself? If the Instigator declares that the debate will assume "Link" to refer to a video game character rather than a connection between two things, that is really not arguable, and therefore cannot be a contention.

My opponent brings up abortion, and the definition of personhood. However, if the Instigator chooses to define personhood in a way that is biased towards the Instigator, then the people can boycott the Instigator until the Instigator declares that the definition will be up for debate. Or, the Contender could point out that as the Instigator's definition of personhood is not the same as the definition of personhood typically used, the Instigator's definition of personhood has no legal or moral relevance, leaving the Instigator needing to defend the notion that his definition has legal or moral relevance. In this way, the definition is still a rule, but it becomes a question of whether or not it is a very relevant one. My opponent states that if personhood were defined as the ability to twirl a pencil, then that abortion debate would be absurd. However, because that debate would be absurd (although the Contender would point out that the Instigator's definition of personhood loses all moral and legal significance, and can thus be ignored), personhood would not be defined in such a way, unless the Instigator wants an absurd debate, in which case, who are we to stop him?

My opponent also brings up free will, and two different models of control, the Leeway model and the Source model. However, there's really no issue here. If the Instigator defines free will as the Source model, then the debate is obviously going to be about whether or not the Source model is correct, and if the Leeway model is used, then the debate centers on the Leeway model. There really isn't any way for the Instigator to abuse definitions in a debate about free will without any obvious need to boycott. If my opponent can conceive one, then he should post it.

"Responses to several of my opponent's claims"

My opponent advocates attacking definitions. However, he does this under the impression that it can show the Instigator's definition to be wrong, although the Instigator's definitions cannot be wrong. Definitions are merely statements to explain what words mean. If the Instigator's resolution is "Xebo qwui kazing," and he posts the following definitions:
Xebo - Global warming
qwui - is not
kazing - real
...then the resolution has been defined, and there's nothing more to it. He has interpreted the resolution as he has typed it, and that's the end of it. There is no wrong definition. I would like my opponent to explain a situation in which there is a "wrong" definition.

As for the table example, and defending, there is a slight problem. If the Instigator made an opening argument about table making, then such a definition would be rather easy to defend. However, if he does not make an opening argument, sure that his definition would be enough to clarify his intentions (as is the case in numerous debates in DDO), then there's no argument that can support the furniture definition as opposed to the data definition, with the exception of the idea that the Instigator's definition is already consented to, and therefore taken as a rule. Additionally, many times, two different definitions can play into the same context, leaving again a tie unless the Instigator is given a trump. With no context, we have to rely on the idea that the Instigator's definition trumps. Finally, if a definition cannot be wrong, then there is still no reason for the Contender's definition to ever trump the Instigator's in the first place.

Conclusion analysis:
My opponent relies on the debate subject being used by the Instigator to trump the Contender's definition, but this relies on an established debate subject, which cannot solve everything, given sometimes a lack of a debate subject, and sometimes a debate subject that can go with multiple definitions. My opponent advocates correct definitions, but definitions are not correct or incorrect. Definitions simply cannot be flawed. When the Instigator starts the debate, "Free will exists," and defines free will as "the ability of people to make choices not entirely determined by external factors," then the debate might as well read "The ability of people to make choices not entirely determined by external factors exists." There may be other definitions of free will, but it's pretty clear what the Instigator is talking about.

I would like to remind everybody again that my opponent has dropped my arguments about fairness, just in case you've forgotten.

In this round, I would appreciate it if my opponent would demonstrate some more detailed examples in which redefining a word would be justified, although it would be best to remember that we are not really discussing extreme examples (like my exaggerated Xebo example).

Again, thank you for doing this debate, and good luck with your response.
TheSkeptic

Con

I thank my opponent for his response, though I will say that he has largely misunderstood my argument; let me summarize it. My basic contention is that while I agree most debates will feature clear definitions that are understood by both the instigator and the contender, with no controversy and no attempt at change, there will be some debates in which challenging the debate can happen in a legitimate way and for a legitimate purpose. Such debates happen in many philosophic debates, such as free will, personhood, personal identity, ethics, etc.

Since my opponent doesn't seem to see the point I am making, in the following section I will respond to some of his key quotes and demonstrate my positoin via my responses. His major fault is his myopic view of how to treat definitions one does not agree with:

====================
A couple of responses
====================

"My opponent assumes that if definitions were established as rules, then any attempt at debate would be absurd."
----> No, I said that if definitions were established as rules, this would ignore the fact that there are many (though not all) debates about finding the correct definition.

"Additionally, my opponent tries to establish the existence of a "correct" definition. However, a definition is merely an interpretation of a word...Definitions are merely statements to explain what words mean."
----> Read my argument again; I specifically stated that a definition is correct if it's used in the context of figuring out the truth (which we do in debate all the time). If we debate about what personhood is, then we assume that some property/essence/etc. would be what we would call personhood - and this would be very important given the moral and legal ramifications. Therefore, finding the CORRECT definition of personhood is important, and we shouldn't simply submit to arbitrary definitions.

Your example of lines of gibberish equaling a coherent resolution is completely missing the point. The difference is linguistic, and is not what we mean by a different semantical usage - which refers to a word's inherent MEANING.

"If the Instigator declares that the debate will assume "Link" to refer to a video game character rather than a connection between two things, that is really not arguable, and therefore cannot be a contention."
----> If the instigator were to use this definition to prove the existence of something that wouldn't be supported under the existence of a video game character, then the contender has all the ammunition needed to destroy the instigator's position. For example, if the instigator used the video game definition and argued that "there is no link between smoking cigarette and lung cancer", then the contender can refute this by showing he is equivocating.

"However, if the Instigator chooses to define personhood in a way that is biased towards the Instigator, then the people can boycott the Instigator until the Instigator declares that the definition will be up for debate."
----> By biased, I assume you mean a definition that the contender does not agree with. Sure, he could "boycott" the debate but how will that take place? A comment or private message saying that he doesn't agree with the proposed definition and it should be otherwise? If that is so...then that is EXACTLY what any debate on personhood is about; the contender could and very well should simply accept the debate and argue over that. Sure, he could refuse or boycott the debate, but he can also accept it and challenge the definition - thus treating definitions not as rules but contentions.

"If the Instigator defines free will as the Source model, then the debate is obviously going to be about whether or not the Source model is correct..."
----> I assume you mean correct in the sense of "can the Source model provide free will's existence", since this is what you make it out to mean. Obviously, then, you can argue in another way by demonstrating whether or not the Source model is an appropriate model of control - which it often is reduced to. The contender could either show the Source model is inadequate to account for control, or he can show that the Source model does not deny/affirm free will (depending on his position in the debate). You are unfairly restricting the options available.

"owever, if he does not make an opening argument, sure that his definition would be enough to clarify his intentions (as is the case in numerous debates in DDO), then there's no argument that can support the furniture definition as opposed to the data definition, with the exception of the idea that the Instigator's definition is already consented to, and therefore taken as a rule."
----> Sure...then the contender might have no ammunition to use against the instigator. In such a case, then the contender can simply NOT challenge the definition. My position never stated every debate would be susceptible to refutation.

====================
Conclusion
====================

It's pretty apparent that my opponent completely passes by my argument. He misunderstands and misinterprets what I say, as is evident from his responses.

I'm not saying nor implying that every debate is legitimate to a definition revision; but I am saying that SOME ARE. If this is so, then it can't be an absolute guideline that definitions are to be treated as rules and not as contentions. If there are exceptions, then definitions should be treated as contentions - if you don't challenge them, then this is similar to agreeing/conceding to a definition.
Debate Round No. 2
mongeese

Pro

Thank you for your clarifying response, Skeptic.

I don't believe that I have misunderstood anything; I am simply providing solutions.

"A couple of responses"

My opponent claims that there are "many" debates about finding the correct definition. However, that would contradict my own experience in debating. In all of my debates, I don't think a single one was intended to search for the proper definition of a word. If there was any, it would not be a general case, and would thus not be of any concern of this debate, by rule #2.

My opponent contends that definitions are correct if "used in the context of figuring out the truth." However, there are many different truths out there, and the truth being concerned depends on the definitions. For example, let's take the example of a debate entitled, "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?" Now, the Instigator could define "egg" to only include chicken eggs, or they could define "egg" to encompass all things we consider eggs. In the first scenario, the chicken is usually said to come first (http://www.debate.org...), while in the second scenario, the egg is considered to come first (http://www.debate.org...). I would like to note that although the voters decided to vote-bomb the debate in favor of Panda because of the delayed definition, this would not be poor conduct at all if "egg" was defined beforehand.
However, in no case would it make sense to allow the Contender to replace the Instigator's definition. The idea of focusing only on the chicken egg is a completely valid one, so if the Instigator declares that "egg" will refer only to chicken eggs for the debate through a definition, why can the Contender complain? It's just a different truth from the one that would be reached through the other definition, but to shift the truth being concerned is highly unfair for the Instigator, who chose a position based on the intended truth, as the Contender should do.

My opponent attacks my gibberish as irrelevant. However, if I can assign any definition I want to "Xebo" (as my opponent has conceded), why can I not do the same thing with "personhood"? After all, perhaps I want to focus on a specific aspect of personhood, and using "personhood" in the resolution makes the resolution more simplistic to recall or type while the real intention of the debate would still be evident in the definition.

My opponent also uses an example using Link, with the resolution, "There is no link between smoking cigarette[s] and lung cancer." First, I would like to note that Link would be capitalized in the resolution, so let's assume that every word in the resolution is capitalized. Secondly, it would be rather clear that the Instigator wants to debate about whether or not there is any sword-wielding video game character between smoking cigarettes and lung cancer. The Contender cannot assume that the intention was to use the connection definition of "link," as the video game definition was already declared. As the Instigator already declared "Link" to refer to a video game character, the debate is still focusing on a truth; the fact that it is a rather obvious truth is beside the point. To suddenly force the Instigator to debate about connections when he wanted to debate about video game characters would be unfair to the Instigator, as he already made the resolution as clear as can be.
Equivocation relies on the idea that the definition of "Link" in the resolution is different from the Instigator's chosen definition. However, as the resolution was written and defined by the Instigator, this would quite simply be impossible. Just because when other people write out the resolution, they define "link" as a connection, doesn't mean that the Instigator must conform to this standard. He would already prove himself not to conform to this standard through defining "Link."

Now, we're back to the personhood example. My opponent argues that the definition of personhood must be changed to obtain truth. However, he does not respond to my idea from Round 2:
"Or, the Contender could point out that as the Instigator's definition of personhood is not the same as the definition of personhood typically used, the Instigator's definition of personhood has no legal or moral relevance, leaving the Instigator needing to defend the notion that his definition has legal or moral relevance."
Now, this option makes more sense than attacking the Instigator's definition directly.
First, let's say that "personhood" is in the resolution, and is defined as "having human genetics." In this case, "personhood" is still just a placeholder in the resolution for the definition "having human genetics," and should be read as "having human genetics." So, a fetus would have "personhood" by the definition introduced by the Instigator. The Instigator would obviously be looking to debate on the genetics of fetuses. Depriving the Instigator of such a debate after it has already been clarified would be unfair. Note that a truth is still reached in the debate (fetuses have human genetics).
Now, if "personhood" is used to support a contention, then the Instigator can merely argue that such a definition of "personhood" has no moral relevance. In a debate about abortion, if the Instigator says, "Fetuses have personhood, and therefore, abortion is immoral," the response would be, "By my opponent's definition of personhood, having personhood doesn't actually grant a fetus the right to life." The Contender could even bring up a new definition of personhood to show why the Instigator's definition of personhood is not the same as the norm, but this definition would not replace the old one in any context, unlike what would occur in a dispute over the resolution.
In either case, and especially in the resolution case, the definition should not be attacked.

My opponent's example to talk about free will seems to be the resolution "Can the Source model provide free will's existence?" This would lead to two main arguments: 1. Is the Source model real, and therefore, able to provide existence? 2. Does the Source model provide free will's existence? However, I still don't see any discrepancy over definitions. In general cases, the definition for Source model would not specify that the Source model is indeed true. Free will has multiple different extremes, and therefore, the extreme chosen by the Instigator to be debated should be observed. The Contender should not be allowed to change the extreme of the free will being debated anywhere from free will being the illusion of choice to having the ability to do things independent of all factors whatsoever, as the Instigator will likely choose a definition between these two extremes. The Source model should be shown to be inadequate using the chosen definition for Source model, as disproving one conception of the Source model does not disprove all of them, and the relationship between Source model and free will depends on the definitions of each, but any connection between the two as defined by the Instigator could still be debated whole-heartedly. My opponent's example does not include any justification of attacking definitions.

Conclusion:

In all of my opponent's examples, I have shown why attacking definitions is either unfair or unnecessary.
If the word is in the resolution, attacking the definition is unfair because it shifts the debate from the truth chosen by the Instigator to a completely different truth. There cannot be any equivocation, because there's nothing to equivocate from except the Instigator's definition itself.
If the word is not in the resolution, but it is instead used in support of a contention, it can be pointed out that as the word's denotation changes, so does its connotations, so the word loses relevance previously associated with it.

Skeptic, thank you for this debate. I hope I didn't misread your arguments.
TheSkeptic

Con

I thank mongeese for this debate. As I have done in my past debates, all I will simply do is quote him and respond, since I feel this is adequate enough given his response.

====================
Quoting and responding
====================

"My opponent claims that there are "many" debates about finding the correct definition. However, that would contradict my own experience in debating."
----> Right, because your experience in debating is so comprehensive it includes every serious intellectual topic of discussion...no. As I've mentioned, abortion debates in defining personhood is an example. Often free will debates (among those who actually understand it) as well, along with debates on morality, etc.

"However, there are many different truths out there, and the truth being concerned depends on the definitions."
----> There is no such thing as "different truths", there is only objective truth. To make such an incredible claim I'd expect at least some reasoning behind it, but you fail to give any and assume as if this was true. Your example of "what came first, the chicken or the egg" is absolutely horrible - that isn't a difference in the nature of truth values, but rather a difference in semantics. Once again, your analogies completely miss the point.

"However, if I can assign any definition I want to "Xebo" (as my opponent has conceded), why can I not do the same thing with "personhood"?"
----> Ugh, you miss the point yet again. What you did wasn't a SEMANTICAL difference, but a LINGUISTIC one - given that "Xebo" is not a recognized word (let's assume this). You saying that you can focus on a specific aspect of personhood by deciding what the definition is, but this assumes a stable conception of personhood; otherwise how can you specify an aspect of it?

"Secondly, it would be rather clear that the Instigator wants to debate about whether or not there is any sword-wielding video game character between smoking cigarettes and lung cancer."
----> The point of the example was to demonstrate that there are times when you are abusing the definition of a word to prove an irrelevant point; effectively, it's called equivocation. So in other words, the instigator in R1 can easily define personhood or free will as something trivially true, and claim that his position is correct in light of this...which should not be the case.

"Equivocation relies on the idea that the definition of "Link" in the resolution is different from the Instigator's chosen definition. However, as the resolution was written and defined by the Instigator, this would quite simply be impossible. "
----> No, equivocation happens when you abuse/ignore the context in which the word is used. Words can have different meanings at particular times, and to equivocate is to purposely ignore the correct one and use another one. Observe the common example given in logic classes: A feather is light. What is light cannot be dark. Therefore, a feather cannot be dark. This is obviously false in all other contexts, but the instigator is simply playing around with words to suit his desires.

"First, let's say that "personhood" is in the resolution, and is defined as "having human genetics." In this case, "personhood" is still just a placeholder in the resolution for the definition "having human genetics," and should be read as "having human genetics." So, a fetus would have "personhood" by the definition introduced by the Instigator. The Instigator would obviously be looking to debate on the genetics of fetuses."
----> The debate would be looking on the genetics of fetuses? Even though that is a potential debate topic, it's pretty obvious that fetus' do have human DNA, and rather the issue is with your definition - it's highly contestable. So no, the contender shouldn't be forced with having to deal with a definition he doesn't agree with, just like he doesn't have to accept premises he doesn't find to be true. Furthermore, your idea from R2 about the contender showing the instigator's definition of personhood has no legal or moral relevance is a dull point - so what, that's an option the contender can take but there are others as well.

"Depriving the Instigator of such a debate after it has already been clarified would be unfair. "
----> You aren't depriving the Instigator of anything; you're simply arguing against his definition. As reminded before, he can always DEFEND IT.

"Now, if "personhood" is used to support a contention, then the Instigator can merely argue that such a definition of "personhood" has no moral relevance."
----> This is a ridiculous point, it doesn't matter if the definition appears in an argument or in your resolution; they are both still tenable.

"To suddenly force the Instigator to debate about connections when he wanted to debate about video game characters would be unfair to the Instigator, as he already made the resolution as clear as can be."
----> Once again, you are twisting my words. Who said the contender would "force" the instigator to debate about something else? To contend a definition is like to contend any other point/argument/etc. - point is, THE INSTIGATOR CAN DEFEND HIS OWN DEFINITION IF CHALLENGED.

"Free will has multiple different extremes, and therefore, the extreme chosen by the Instigator to be debated should be observed"
----> What?! Sure, people have different conceptions of what free will is but ultimately it must only be one of them, which is the point of the debate. Overall, your argument here misses the point or understanding of the Source model; for instance, there are no "different versions of the Source model".

"...and the relationship between Source model and free will depends on the definitions of each, but any connection between the two as defined by the Instigator could still be debated whole-heartedly"
----> Yeah, but if the instigator wrongly defines free will or even the Source model, and uses this as fuel to support free will, then the contender has a great oppotunity to demonstrate the error in his opponent's thinking.

"In all of my opponent's examples, I have shown why attacking definitions is either unfair or unnecessary."
----> It's not unfair because I never stated the instigator must be forced to accept the contender's revision; just like any other argument, he can defend it. And even if it's not entirely necessary, if it's an option then so be it - just like how many arguments can be attacked succesfuly in various ways.

"If the word is in the resolution, attacking the definition is unfair because it shifts the debate from the truth chosen by the Instigator to a completely different truth"
----> Ignoring your abhorrent usage of the word "truth", even if the Instigator intended for a different debate if he had a bad definition then he is culpable for being attacked for this in the same way someone can start a debate and have it shift to another discussion because his base assumptions are being challenged.

====================
Conclusion
====================

All in all, mongeese's argument has been quite weak. It's a clutter of strawmen (I never stated the instigator must be forced to accept the contender's revision), misunderstandings (he stumbles over the Source model example), fallacies (false dichotomies), and absurd claims with little to no reasoning behind it (claiming there is no one, objective truth) in a while.

I'll say it one more time: like any argument or premise, a definition in many instances can have a truth value. If we want to know what free will is, then the phrase "free will" should refer to some aspect/characteristic/etc. that exists thus giving a definition pulpable grounds to be labeled correct or incorrect. When this is so, defining such a phrase is the same as making an argument, thus meaning the contender can and often should challenge the definition.
Debate Round No. 3
72 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by SexyLatina 7 years ago
SexyLatina
RFD: I like mongeese's arguments better, and his round 2 speech was actually enjoyable to read in its good arguing.
Posted by mattrodstrom 7 years ago
mattrodstrom
If the definition is central to the argument, you are debating on the topic, and Con is explaining exactly why the resolution is flawed.
Posted by daniel_t 7 years ago
daniel_t
@mattrodstrom: You tell me it doesn't have to become a "full out semantics debate" if the instigator backs down.

So when the contender redefines a word or words of the resolution the only choices for the instigator is to either back down (and debate something he wasn't prepared to debate) or have a full out semantics debate (which the instigator may, or may not, win.) Either way, the instigator doesn't get to debate about what he wanted to debate about. Those aren't very palatable choices IMHO.
Posted by mattrodstrom 7 years ago
mattrodstrom
@ D_T: Changing the definition can make for a semantics debate, one which the contender ought to automatically lose if he doesn't immediately offer clear and convincing reason why his definition is better.

It doesn't need to be a full out semantics debate, if the instigator realizes that his definition sucked, and that the new one is indeed more fitting, the debate can continue with the new one.

If however the instigator's whole argument was based upon the nature of a really weak definition of something central to the topic at hand, and he cannot offer a Reasonable argument, with reasonable definitions, to support his resolution, he deserves to lose.
Posted by mongeese 7 years ago
mongeese
@TheSkeptic: What context?
And as for stipulative definitions, that's exactly what I mean. For the purposes of argument, words may be defined in certain ways in the resolution. How are definitions in the resolution not stipulative?
Posted by daniel_t 7 years ago
daniel_t
@TheSkeptic: "It doesn't matter if the debate goes awry from what the instigator intended, it's the same as if his underlying assumptions were challenged. Furthermore, just because the contender overs a revision of the definition does not mean it must be accepted - stop putting words in my mouth."

Of course the Contender's revision doesn't have to be accepted, but if it isn't accepted it has to be debated. Substantively changing the definition of any word in the resolution from what the Instigator established changes the nature of the entire debate from one about a particular subject (the resolution) to one about the meaning of a particular word or words.

As an example, say the resolution is "God exists" and the Instigator defined both "God" and "exists", but the contender defined either or both words differently. Once the contender does that, the debate can no longer be about whether or not "God exists" (the resolution,) by *either* of the debaters definitions of "God" and "exists". It will only be about what "God" and or "exists" mean; the resolution can no longer be argued for or against.

If all the contender wanted to do is argue about what a word or two mean, then good for him, but the instigator gets stuck in a debate he doesn't want.
Posted by TheSkeptic 7 years ago
TheSkeptic
@daniel: It doesn't matter if the debate goes awry from what the instigator intended, it's the same as if his underlying assumptions were challenged. Furthermore, just because the contender overs a revision of the definition does not mean it must be accepted - stop putting words in my mouth.

@mongeese: The contender can attack the definition of one word or phrase in the context of the resolution. If the instigator has re-defined the entire resolution, then so be it (though I don't see the purpose in creating a debate like that).

Seriously, to say that there can't be any correct definition and whatnot is so philosophically naive of you. When you say a definition can't be right or wrong, you are only referring to STIPULATIVE definitions -- http://en.wikipedia.org... -- which obviously aren't the only kind.
Posted by mongeese 7 years ago
mongeese
"Specify that your claim is given that 'gay people'=those who have gay sex, rather than just talk about gay people generally"

That's called a definition...
Posted by daniel_t 7 years ago
daniel_t
@mattrodstrom: "... if you explain why the initial definition is not reasonable..." you are no longer debating the resolution. Instead you are debating the definition of a particular word *in* the resolution.

"if the instigator wants to have a narrower claim, I say: Make A Narrower Claim!!!"

That's what the definition is there for! Otherwise, the contender wouldn't have bothered writing the definition in.
Posted by mattrodstrom 7 years ago
mattrodstrom
+ if the instigator wants to have a narrower claim, I say:

Make A Narrower Claim!!!

Specify that your claim is given that "gay people"=those who have gay sex, rather than just talk about gay people generally

b/c if you don't specify your opponent ought to be able to combat the resolution with a reasonable definition of what "gay people" are.
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