The Instigator
Pro (for)
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The Contender
Con (against)
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Impossibility exists

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Post Voting Period
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It's a Tie!
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/30/2011 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 990 times Debate No: 20133
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (6)
Votes (0)




This debate has been initiated multiple times on DDO, with the win going to both pro and con.[1][2] I hope this debate will be fun for all parties involved and am open to suggestions regarding the rules (and definitions) of this debate. But please do not dispute them in-round.

Debate Rules:
Each debater will have 72 hours to post an argument
· Each argument will have a maximum of 8,000 characters
· The voting period will be one week
· A dropped point is a concession
· Even if a point is easily refuted, if the debater does not refute it, it stands as truth

All other rules should be covered in their respective sections.

Impossibility* - Incapable of existing or occurring, an alternative that is not available[3]
Exist - To have real being whether material or spiritual[4]
Paradox - A situation, person, or thing that combines contradictory features or qualities[5]

Definitions are not to be disputed within the debate, as these seem fair to both sides while still respecting the intent of this debate (at least to me). I would hope no arguments will hinge upon the definitions provided above, as I chose these with respect to common usage and context. If you wish to challenge any definitions provided or suggest new ones (for words previously defined or undefined here), please send me a private message.

*I do not wish to have a definitional debate. Although this definition explicitly states that impossibility is "[i]ncapable of existing...", I'd assume both debaters know what this debate is intended to entail

Round 1: Acceptance and questions of clarification
Round 2: Opening arguments and rebuttal
Round 3: Rebuttal and closing statements

Con shall not make new arguments in round three for two reasons:
A. Pro will be unable to respond
B. Pro and con have each had one refutation at this point (Pro could not refute Con's points in round two). It is only fair to give an equal number of chances to refute points to Pro and Con.

Burden of Proof:
Pro will endeavor to show that impossibility exists. Con will endeavor to show that impossibility does not exist. If Pro provides one example of impossibility purportedly existing that is not adequately refuted, he has shown that impossibility exists in at least that one instance.



I accept.

Let's see those big, pretty arguments. Lay 'em on me, big boy.
Debate Round No. 1


I intend on demonstrating the existence of impossibility through examples and logic. My contentions:

1. Self-referential Paradox
2. Squaring the Circle
3. Barber Paradox
4. Time Travel Paradox
5. Generic Theoretical Demonstration

Contention One: Self-Referential Paradox

By proving the all-inclusive opposite of something to be false, one proves the original proposition to be true. This logic may be applied to the concept of an impossibility; by proving false the statement that nothing is impossible, it is proven that impossibility exists. I feel this is best expressed in the form of a syllogism.

Premise One: The statements that impossibility exists and that nothing is impossible are all-inclusive opposites.
Premise Three: The statement that nothing is impossible is false.
Conclusion: The statement that impossibility exists is true.

Premise One

For the purposes of this debate, for impossibility to exist, something must be impossible. If nothing is impossible, impossibility does not exist. If the statement "nothing is impossible" is true, the conclusion "impossibility does not exist" is always valid.

Premise Two

If nothing is impossible, it must be true that it is impossible for something to be impossible. To rephrase that, the statement "nothing is impossible" applies universally; everything is possible. But what about something being impossible? Is that possible? If Con answers yes, he agrees that it is possible for something to be impossible, that impossibility exists. If Con answers no, he states that nothing is impossible, that it is impossible for anything to be impossible. Either way, the statement is found to be false and Con is agreeing that at least one instance of impossibility exists.


When both premises are true, the conclusion is true.

Contention Two: Squaring the Circle

The problem of squaring the circle, to quote Wikipedia, is "the challenge of constructing a square with the same area as a given circle by using only a finite number of steps with compass and straightedge." The article goes on to state that "[a]pproximate squaring to any given non-perfect accuracy, in contrast, is possible in a finite number of steps, since there are rational numbers arbitrarily close to pi." However, creating a square with area exactly equal to that of a circle (with just a compass and straightedge) is impossible, as proven by the Lindemann-Weierstrass theorem.[1]

Con may claim that Leonardo da Vinci or another man achieved this feat, but, in the example of Leonardo da Vinci, only 99.8% accuracy was achieved.[2] Besides that, the feat is mathematically impossible.[1][2]

The Lindemann-Weierstrass theorem proves that pi is transcendental, that is to state that it is not algebraic. Because pi is not algebraic, math dictates that it is impossible to create a square with exactly the same area using just these tools.

Contention Three: Barber Paradox

Imagine a town with just one barber, who happens to be male. Every male member of the society keeps himself shaved through one of two actions:

A. Shaving himself, or
B. Having the barber shave him

Thus, we reach the paradox, the barber. Who shaves the barber? Because each male in the town does exactly one of the two actions, the situation is paradoxical. If the barber shaves himself, then he is fulfilling both options. He is shaving himself and having the barber shave him. If he does not shave himself, then he fulfills neither option. He is neither shaving himself nor having the barber shave him. This directly contradicts the statement that every male in the society is shaved through one of the two options. Thus, the scenario is an impossibility.

Contention Four: Time Travel Paradox

*This contention is not stating that time travel is impossible*
Once again, I ask you to consider a hypothetical scenario. Imagine that a scientist invents a time machine. The technology becomes available to a specific individual who decides to go back in time. Upon arriving in the past, said individual murders the scientist before he invents the time machine. Once again, this is an impossible scenario because if the scientist were to be murdered before inventing the time machine, it would be impossible for an individual to go back in time using a time machine designed and built by the same scientist.

Contention Five: Generic Theoretical Demonstration

This contention shall be presented in the form of a syllogism as well.

Premise One: All X are instances of Y.
Premise Two: Z is an example of X.
Conclusion: It is impossible that Z is not an instance of Y

I would go into more depth with each premise and the conclusion, but I feel it would be superfluous, as this one is extremely self-explanatory. As per the definitions of this debate, impossibility does not have to have material being. Even a completely theoretical instance of it is enough to affirm the resolution.


I have shown through my contentions that the only alternative to impossibility's existence is a self-referential paradox and thus cannot be true. I have given multiple examples, material, hypothetical, and theoretical, of impossibility's existence. With these five contentions, I will stop in order to give Con enough space to respond and now open the floor to him.




InVinoVeritas forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


I would offer Con another chance to rebut my points because I doubt he intentionally forfeited, but his next round is the final round of the debate. He would be giving one rebuttal more than Pro and Pro would not have any chance to attempt to refute his claims.

Voting Issues

· Con forfeited his only speech I would get a chance to respond to.

· All we have to grade Con's spelling and grammar on is "I accept. Let's see those big, pretty arguments. Lay 'em on me, big boy."; I would put S/G as equal with such a small sample size for Con.

· Con agreed in accepting that "[a] dropped point is a concession". He also agreed that "if the debater does not refute [a point], it stands as truth". All my arguments should be viewed as complete truth and conceded. Also, he made no arguments.

· Con used no sources. Pro did.

Vote Pro.


By making me have the full burden of proof (as the opponent stated in the first round), the opponent was expecting me to defend the idea that "the existence of impossibility is impossible." This stance in itself contradicts my argument... Hence, burden of proof should have been split.

I addressed this in the comments section, and the opponent failed to reply and address this issue.

I ask for your conduct vote.

Thank you.
Debate Round No. 3
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by Micromann 4 years ago
The opening post's request included rules as well ("...and am open to suggestions regarding the *rules* (and definitions) of this debate. But please do not dispute them in-round."). I consider BoP to be a rule, hence my stating under the "Rules" section that "[a]ll other rules should be covered in their respective sections." Nonetheless, I think this debate has just been full of misunderstandings. I apologize for not being clearer.

Voters: Do not vote to give either side a win.
Posted by InVinoVeritas 4 years ago
I'm not disputing a definition. I'm disputing a term of debate.

And sure.
Posted by Micromann 4 years ago
I realised that I may have been a bit unclear in my last comment. To clarify on why I did not check the comments, it was because I asked that definitions or rules not be disputed in-round. I meant "in-round" in the sense applied at a debate tournament (i.e., a specific debate against an opponent, used in contexts such as "I am guaranteed four rounds before I see if I made it to semi-finals), referring to the round as a whole, rather than just one set of two speeches. I assumed that my opponent would have understood the rules and accepted them to have accepted the debate, so I was not anticipating any disputing of them in the speeches or the comments. However, it appears I was unclear and apologize.

Do you want to just call this debate a tie (asking potential voters to vote it as a tie accordingly) and move on?
Posted by Micromann 4 years ago
Ah. I'm sorry. I didn't check the comments section until you drew my attention to it with your round three statements. I assumed that there would be no need, as I asked my prospective opponent not to dispute rules within the timeframe of the round ("I ... am open to suggestions regarding the rules (and definitions) of this debate. But please do not dispute them in-round."). I would be happy to redo this debate on the grounds that you tell me what arguments you intend to give (as you have seen the premise of my arguments). Once again, I apologize.
Posted by InVinoVeritas 4 years ago
"Pro will endeavor to show that impossibility exists. Con will endeavor to show that impossibility does not exist. If Pro provides one example of impossibility purportedly existing that is not adequately refuted, he has shown that impossibility exists in at least that one instance."

I think the burden of proof should be equal. If the burden of proof is all on me, then my argument is essentially "The existence of impossibility is impossible."
Posted by Micromann 4 years ago
"Lay 'em on me, big boy."

I see what ya did thar.
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