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The Contender
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Resolved: I have the burden of proof in this debate.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/21/2016 Category: Funny
Updated: 2 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 339 times Debate No: 93962
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
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This is a short debate.

Full Resolution

Resolved: I have the burden of proof in this debate.

I: The user known as Diqiucun_Cunmin
Burden of proof: the obligation on a party in a dispute to provide sufficient warrant for their position (
This debate: The debate titled 'Resolved: I have the burden of proof in this debate.' on

R1 for acceptance only. The debate is free thereafter. No trolling. Sources can be in comments.


I accept the debate.
Debate Round No. 1


I thank my opponent for acceptance, and will move on to my argument.

My claim, 'I have the burden of proof in this debate', a) presupposes the existence of a burden and b) asserts my possession of this burden. Both place a burden of proof on me.

Here is an analogy after Russell. Suppose I were to claim the existence of an invisible teapot in the solar system. My claim, were I to provide no evidence, can be dismissed entirely. As Russel wrote, 'if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense.'

The BOP is an abstract burden that cannot be directly perceived from our senses, and for which I can provide no sensual evidence. All else being equal, its non-existence is more probable than its existence because of Occam's Razor: affirming the existence of the BOP means affirming the existence a new construct. The number of things and ideas that one can possibly conceive of is virtually infinite, and thus the prior probability of existence of each one, given that a finite number of things exist in the world, asymptotes to zero. I have to provide information to increase the posterior probability of existence.

It is therefore necessary for me to explain through reason why such a burden exists, why certain things cannot be explained without invoking the BOP. If I provide no warrant, you have no good reason to believe the BOP exists.

My explicit claim - that I possess the BOP - also imposes the BOP on me. Anyone providing a claim has the burden of proof to provide warrant for it, and which side has the BOP is no exception. Otherwise, I am just wasting my and your time by stating something without proof or evidence. You are not the one who stated a claim - I was - so you have no BOP to prove your position correct.




My first point of argument will be to assert a burden of proof upon myself- in order for the motion to be untrue, and therefore for my own position to be valid, I, as opposition to the motion, have to assert a positive claim which explicitly contradicts the motion that the burden of proof is upon my opponent. My position is as follows:

"The burden of proof in this discussion is not clearly upon either party, but if it were upon either, it would necessarily be upon myself".

I am proposing this as a positive claim, and the following resource would have the burden of proof therefore fall upon myself:

"If there is a claim proposed and that claim is disputed, the burden of proof falls onto the proponent of the claim.".


Both parties are claiming to have a burden of proof, and therefore, we are necessarily arguing the same position, just from a different perspective- it is comparable to a motion which reads "I am the tallest participant in this discussion"- both the proponent and the opponent would have to argue the same case- that they are themselves the tallest. In such a discussion, neither party clearly has the burden of proof- if one is true, the other is necessarily false, and vice versa.

The above link proposes the following, and it applies to this discussion:

"When we have no evidence to resolve the proposition, we may suspend judgment. From a cognitive sense, when no personal preference toward opposing claims exists, one may be either skeptical of both claims or ambivalent of both claims.".

This is necessarily the most reasonable case for an observer of this debate to hold- that neither the proposition nor the opposition of the motion can clearly be demonstrated to have the burden of proof, and that therefore the rational position is to not place the burden of proof on either party, as both positions should be regarded with ambivalence.
Debate Round No. 2


I thank my opponent for his arguments, and I will make specific rebuttals below. My opponent has made strong arguments about BOPs in general, but failed to make a convincing case in the context of our debate, as I shall demonstrate below.

Neither side has the BOP

My opponent appears to misunderstand the debate rules laid out in R1. Contrary to what Con has written, there is no alternative claim. The sole resolution is 'I have the burden of proof in this debate', and I defined 'I' to mean Diqiucun_Cunmin - that is, myself. So what Con is arguing for is not 'PsychicPhysicist has the burden of proof in this debate', nor is it the claim he brought out last round, but it is the negation of the resolution - 'It is not the case that Diqiucun_Cunmin has the burden of proof in this debate'. This is not an alternative resolution, either: The only resolution is that I, Diqiucun_Cunmin, have the BOP in this debate. As I am Pro, this confers upon me the sole burden of proof, for reasons I have adequately explained in the previous round.

Even if the negation of the resolution were an alternative resolution, my claim is still a stronger one and thus I have the BOP. This is because 'It is not the case that Diqiucun_Cunmin has the burden of proof in this debate' does not necessarily presuppose the existence of the BOP; it could be that I don't have the BOP because there's no such thing as a BOP.

Con more likely has the BOP
My opponent attempts to put a BOP on himself using this claim, which I shall call X: 'The burden of proof in this discussion is not clearly upon either party, but if it were upon either, it would necessarily be upon myself.' The problem is, this is not the resolution of this debate. The resolution says, 'I have the burden of proof in this debate'. As X is not the resolution, the scope of X's BOP is only within Con's argument space, instead of the entire debate. If I both Con and I forfeited all rounds, Con still would win as I didn't fulfill my BOP.


I wish to reiterate, as I feel my opponent missed this point, that in order for the motion to be untrue, one of a number of contradictory claims must be true, specifically:
"The BOP does not exist".
"The BOP is upon Con".
"The BOP is not clearly upon either party"
and so on.

Yes, "The BOP is upon myself" is a consistent statement which would, in the event that both parties say no more on the matter, would be deemed true. However, as soon as that claim is disputed, as it was by myself, then the statement necessarily becomes false, as both Pro and Con have positive statements to uphold; in Pro's case that the BOP is upon himself, and in Con's case that the BOP does not exist, is upon himself, or is not on either party. In this specific discussion, I, as Con, asserted that the BOP is not clearly upon either party, and this is necessarily the most reasonable case, as both Pro and Con are making positive claims, and therefore they both have a requirement to provide proof of their claims. Therefore, in the event that no sufficient proof is produce by either party, or that both parties produce equally valid proof, the observer of the debate should finish reading with ambivalence towards both claims- the burden of proof is on neither party.

Incidentally, I would like to point out that neither party has a responsibility to assert the existence of the BOP, either, as this is well understood within debating circles and therefore should be granted as axiomatic.

Who the BOP falls on depends on whether it is contested- if not contested, it falls on Pro. If contested, as it was, it does not clearly fall on either party, and hence the motion is defeated.

I would like to thank my opponent for his words on this matter, and for proposing such an interesting discussion, and wish him luck in the voting procedure. I would also like to thank the readers and voters of this discussion for being involved in our motion, and I urge you to vote against the proposition, for the reasons above
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by Diqiucun_Cunmin 3 months ago
@Uther: Ah, right. I got the idea that I was reinventing the wheel after I conceived of this topic, but I couldn't put my finger on which debate it was. Now I remember yours :P
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