The Instigator
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The Contender
Con (against)
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"General statements are generally true" is an ifalliable statement.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/10/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,062 times Debate No: 23527
Debate Rounds (4)
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Votes (1)




I hear a lot of people knocking generalizations because a few of the group in question don't fit the generalized description. WELL I SAY PHOOEY! Generalizations are excellent ways to convey a quick idea or emotion without having to waste time explaining the few ways which it could be wrong, its the same reason why we round numbers.

This debate will NOT be related to stereotypes or statistics related to popular generalizations, but a more philosophical statement regarding the very usage of a generalized statement being truth.

That generalized statement, ladies and gentleman, is simple. Generalized statement are generally true.

First round will be acceptance

Second will be opening arguments

Third will be rebuttals

Lastly, third round will be closing statements.

While this is my first time debating on this site, I have a RICH background in "argumentation" and am hoping to have a lively debate!


I accept, and I thank my opponent for issuing this challenge. I look forward to an interesting debate.
Debate Round No. 1


First, I would like to define the definitions for "truth" and "general" for this debate
a (1) : the state of being the case : fact
(2) : the body of real things, events, and facts : actuality
b : a judgment, proposition, or idea that is true or accepted as true
: not confined by specialization or careful limitation
: belonging to the common nature of a group of like individuals : generic
a : applicable to or characteristic of the majority of individuals involved : prevalent
b : concerned or dealing with universal rather than particular aspects
: relating to, determined by, or concerned with main elements rather than limited details
Alright, with that out of the way I will lay out my defense.
"General statements are generally true" has two meanings.
1: The first meaning states the a comment made in general is a statement which is generally true in nature related to the whole of the being. Such as, saying all cats have tails is truth "in general" as the majority of cats have tails, while some breeds do not have tails. Thus the statement itself is false about all breeds of cats while being truthful about the general body of the species.
2: The second meaning protects it from a larger criticism of a generalized statement being false in nature. This meaning states a simple loophole. "General statements are GENERALLY true" implies that the whole class of general statements themselves is subject to occasional error. If I were to state that most stars are smaller then our sun, that would be a false generalization, as we know most stars are larger then our sun. I can then use the fail safe of "generally true" as that generalized statement was wrong, yet the body of all generalized statements is unaffected as there are or could be many more generalized statements which are correct.
(I hope we can keep teleological arguments out of this as much as possible, although I have a feeling that's what this debate is going to fall back on XD anyway, thanks again for accepting this debate and the quick response!)


First, I would like to call attention to the resolution ""General statements are generally true" is an infalliable statement.". The only logical assumption is that 'infalliable' is supposed to mean 'infallible', which is what I now define it as meaning (as my opponent has not defined it and Round 1 was solely for acceptance, I believe that I ought to be able to define it). Infallible means, according to the Oxford English Dictionary "incapable of making mistakes or being wrong". Therefore, in order for my opponent to affirm the resolution (he must undertake burden of proof as instigator and Pro) he must show that "General statements are generally true" is incapable of being wrong. This will not be an easy thing to do, but so far my opponent has done admirably. All this having been established, I now move on to my case.

It is clear by viewing the statement "General statements are generally true" in the way my opponent does in his second meaning that it is fallible. For instance, consider all the general statements that can possibly be made. For every one that is accurate, there are nearly infinite ones that are not. For example, I could state "Trees have leaves.", a general statement that I believe most people would acknowledge as fairly accurate. However, I could then go on to state "Trees have tentacles.", "Trees are aliens.", "Trees hate me." and "Trees are terrorists.". Those statements are all equally general, yet few (excepting dendrophobics) would accept them as factual representations of reality. Therefore, in this way of viewing the statement, it becomes clear that general statements are actually generally false, as only a minority of general statements are true. "General statements are generally true", therefore, is capable of being wrong as it is wrong regarding the general truth of general statements. The resolution is negated.

Thanks Pro, for a good Round 2. I'm looking forward to Round 3.
Debate Round No. 2


"For every one that is accurate, there are nearly infinite ones that are not. For example, I could state "Trees have leaves.", a general statement that I believe most people would acknowledge as fairly accurate. However, I could then go on to state "Trees have tentacles.", "Trees are aliens.", "Trees hate me." and "Trees are terrorists.". Those statements are all equally general, yet few (excepting dendrophobics) would accept them as factual representations of reality."

While my opponent has made an excellent point in trying to destroy ONE of the definitions, he has overlooked that in order to show my statement that "general statements are generally true" is fallible my opponent needs to contest BOTH definitions laid out. Not only that, but my opponent has overlooked yet another loophole in which his own circumstances of creating many false generalizations can be accounted for. One could make the statement "general statements are usually false in nature" and it would be a true statement. And since that generalized statement could then be applied to all statements after that no matter how many generalizations one could make it would still support my statements that "generalizations are generally true" as the "true" statement in this circumstance would be addressing the ENTIRE body of generalized statements. Thus, the first definition of the generalized statement being TRUE still holds even when claiming all or even most generalizations are false as my original statement could support the position that it is TRUTH that generalizations are generally false within the entire body of generalized statements.

This creates a situation common in brain teasers where "one head always lies and the other always tells the truth" and destroys my opponents argument against the number of generalized statements which can be claimed as false or true as the number of which being true or false is irrelevant. "Infallible" also means "something which cannot be dis-proven" in common language, and my statement cannot be dis-proven in the manner my opponent has just tried. My statement is incapable of being wrong as its meaning of "what is defined as truth", and its meaning of "how much of something that is defined is truth is truth" protect each others meanings.

Until my opponent can dis-prove that general statements are generally false (in which I explained how that assertion itself creates a paradox where the first definition of my statement holds true by acknowledging the supposed fact where general statements are generally false, as that itself is a generalized statement), or are untrue within the body of the subject in question (as in, the very nature of making even a true generalization would be false in nature), my assertion may still be claimed as "infallible" as the second definition cannot be dis-proven, and the first statement is still sound. BOTH definitions must be contested before my argument can be proven false.

(This might certainly become a argument in teleology. You will quickly learn that I enjoy paradoxes, which you now realize is what you are trying to disprove)


I apologize in advance in case I strawman my opponent's argument.

It appears that my opponent believes, for whatever reason, that I am obligated to contest both definitions. This is not so. I need only show one to be wrong before the statement becomes infallible, and by extension the resolution is negated.

Prefer my OED definition of "infallible" to my opponent's "common language" definition, as I defined it first. I have never heard of "infallible" being used to mean "something which cannot be dis-proven"; I have generally only heard it meaning "something that cannot fail".

(Apology again, here is where the strawmanning might begin)

My opponent in his first paragraph seems to claim that "general statements are usually false in nature" supports the idea that "general statements are generally true" in the first sense. It does.

As I have already said, prefer my definition. I defined it first, and accepting my opponent's definition would be very bad for me.

In my opponent's last paragraph, he appears to be saying there is a paradox because "general statements are generally untrue" would then cause "general statements are generally true" to be true, causing the paradox. I do not presume to speak for any wider body of people, but I myself to do not consider a paradox to be infallible. Again using the Oxford English Dictionary, I define paradox (logical) as "An argument, based on (apparently) acceptable premises and using (apparently) valid reasoning, which leads to a conclusion that is against sense, logically unacceptable, or self-contradictory; the conclusion of such an argument.". Therefore, I postulate that the paradoxical status of "general statements are generally true" with regards to "general statements are generally false" makes it fallible, as it is self-contradicting. Asserting the truth of a statement that contradicts the statement asserting the truth of the statement that contradicts the statement asserting the truth of the statement that contradicts the statement (...) must be considered fallible. It is fallible because stating "general statements are generally true" when "general statements are generally false" is a general statement causes a paradox, which is self-contradictory and therefore fallible, regardless of whether it is true or false.

I cannot disprove the second definition, but not being able to disprove it does not make it infallible.
Debate Round No. 3


BrickWall forfeited this round.


My opponent has forfeited Round 4, therefore extend all of my arguments and vote for CON.
Debate Round No. 4
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1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by 16kadams 4 years ago
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Total points awarded:01 
Reasons for voting decision: FF