The Instigator
Smithereens
Con (against)
Winning
9 Points
The Contender
RationalMadman
Pro (for)
Losing
3 Points

That there is no such thing as a bad question

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
Smithereens
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/26/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,254 times Debate No: 25292
Debate Rounds (2)
Comments (18)
Votes (4)

 

Smithereens

Con

To make rebuttals easier, I have listed my arguments in order here. My thanks to my opponent if he/she would do the same thing. :)

1) 'Bad' is a set definition that can describe a question
2) Malicious Questions are bad questions
3) It is possible to waste questions and therefore have bad questions
4) Bad quality questions are bad questions

To start, we need a universal definition that the pro side agree with, concerning the word 'bad.' If my opponent disagrees with the definition, I would request him/her to state an alternate definition.
bad: not good; not as it should be; inadequate or unfit; rotten or spoiled; incorrect or faulty; wicked; immoral; malicious or of malicious intent; harmful; ill; in sorry state, distressed. (Webster's English Dictionary)

From that definition, I would like to highlight the words Malicious and harmful.
My First argument is that questions can fit this definition of Malicious/harmful. It is completely possible, easy even, to cause intentional harm via a question.

For example, in a debate, a morally dubious propaganda technique is an attack of the person. I argue from the assumption that my opponent is familiar with the rather self-explanatory term.

An attack of the person is from pure and simple malice. What is to be noted however, is that an attack of person can be done using questions alone. Consider this exchange where person A attacks person B's integrity using questions.

Person A: [argues correctly]
Person B: "are you high on drugs? Is that what is making you sound like that?"

Person B has illegitimately accused Person A of something that both of them know not to be true. However, the observer is ignorant and Person B asked the question to undermine Person A's integrity, note, Maliciously.

So Person B asked the question with the intention to cause harm, or otherwise, maliciously. In this scenario, Malicious means bad. Therefore, Person B asked a very bad question.

My third argument is that it is possible to waste a question. Again, for the purpose of this debate, I will have to define 'waste.'

Verb:
Use or expend carelessly, extravagantly, or to no purpose.

A close synonym to the word waste is 'squander.' And in this example, Person B squanders a question.

Person A: [gives information]
Person B: [has choice of 2 questions he/she can make, what? or how? Person B can only ask one question and chooses to ask what? In the full knowledge that asking why? would be of greater benefit].

Person B here completely ignored the opportunity to ask a valid question, instead choosing to ask the inferior of which he already knew the answer. It is undeniable to say that person B, asked the bad question out of the possible two.

That argument ties in neatly with my fourth and final point. That a poor quality question is a bad question, not necessarily a bad questioner. It stands to reason that a person bad at asking questions will ask bad question. These bad questions are questions that do not serve the purpose of questions, namely, they do not warrant a valid answer.

In other words, If I were to ask someone if I had brilliant blue rainbows and ponies jumping out of my mouth, I would be asking a question whose answer I was already aware of. This makes the question completely redundant, or in other words, bad.

Concluding, Bad questions are questions that are intentionally harmful/malicious, deliberately wasteful, and completely useless.

If a question can be found to be useless, malicious, or wasteful, then we can agree that the question being asked is a bad question.
RationalMadman

Pro

The premise of my debate shall be on the basis that there is such a thing as bad usage of a question but no such thing as a bad question.

I would like to reword the con's definition of bad, and actually the definition of good is necessary to understand my definition of bad, as I believe they have associated 'bad' with far too many words to begin with.

Bad: Not good in any manner or degree. [1]
Good: That which is morally right; righteousness. [2]

My debate has one, very simple point. Any question one could possible conjure up will be morally right in some manner or to some degree, thus one cannot ever claim a question as bad. Instead, the only aspect related to the question which might be seen as bad is the use of the morally right question in a context that could cause pain or suffering to another person or for the sake of wasting time by asking a totally irrelevant question for the context in which it was used.

Sources:
[1] http://dictionary.reference.com...
[2] https://www.google.co.uk...

I hope the con will find some way to rebut my point.

I believe my new outlook on the debate counters all points raised by con, thus it would be a waste of my opponent's and my own time if I were to repeat the same rebuttal one by one for each of their points.
Debate Round No. 1
Smithereens

Con

I would like to thank my opponent for accepting this debate. I have noted his definition, and found it to be lacking in content. Bad is a very broad word and my opponent seeks to sum it all up with only one definition. That doesn't work. Due to the round constraints we have for this debate I will not propose an alternative.

It might be considered impolite to raise new material at this stage of debate, but I recently learned that rules of debating are very different all over the world and so I just hope you live in a country that allows new arguments brought out in the latter half of the debate, my thanks and apologies if that's not the case.

My opponent raises an argument with some unclear assumptions in mind that he presumes I accept. This is not the case. I argue that these are assumptions simply because he did not reinforce them with examples or evidence. Given that this is a rather philosophical debate, I won't hold that against him.
These are his assumptions:
a) A question cannot be morally incorrect despite every other part of speech being able to. (No idea why)
b) If circumstances are morally incorrect, the question remains correct. (For some reason)

He bases these ungrounded bits of logic on one claim: That questions (noun) are good, but questioning (verb) can be bad.

At face value I can see why people fall for that argument.

I would like to refute this type of reasoning with one point: If the questioning is harmful, that makes the question the bullet. And in such scenarios, anything that hurts anyone will fit the negative team's definition of 'bad.' That means that both the question and the way it is being asked is hurtful. But note* The question is the thing that hurts. Not the questioning. Its like firing a gun and claiming that the gun is the culprit not the bullet. In this case, the gun is the questioning (verb) and the bullet is the question (noun). you cannot say one is bad without the other being bad. Either both are good, or both are bad.

My next issue of rebuttal is my opponents claim that questions are moral, and they are used immorally, hence the illusion of a bad question. In his words: "...the use of the morally right question in a context that could cause pain..."
He explicitly claims that the above is "the only aspect related to the question which might be seen as bad..."

I would like my opponent to justify his claim against this question:
'Have you stopped beating your wife?'
This is referred to as a loaded question, if you answer 'yes,' you admit to have beaten your wife in the past, answering 'no' means you are still beating your wife. These sorts of questions are double negative. And my opponent cannot claim that the way it is asked is the thing that is bad, in this case, the question is inherently bad, immoral question, as it seeks to corner the person being asked. Now in consistency with my other arguments, I also claim that the way it is asked plays a role in whether the question is a good or bad question. Not to the irrational extent my opponent does however.

Furthermore, I would like to point out how one of my points in round one completely dismantles his argument. My fourth argument from round 1 was that bad quality questions are bad questions. In this case, they way the question is asked is completely out of the question, (so to speak) thus, invalidating his case.

Reiterating on that point, I would like to point out that questions are either open-ended, or close-ended questions. [1][2][3][4]

An open-ended question asks questions like why? or how? Questions that require a detailed response. Close-ended questions are questions that only need a yes or no response. Close ended-questions are the inferior of the two types of questions. As I said before in the previous round, the inferior question meets the universally agreed to definition of the word 'bad.' It is the 'badder' of the two questions.

In conclusion, my opponent proved that a question can be badly asked, but has not done much in the way of proving that a question cannot be bad, simply because it is impossible. There are bad questions, just as there are badly asked questions.

Since this is the last round, I would like to thank my opponent for a wonderful debate, I wish him all the success he needs as he debates. Keep up the good work :)

[1] http://integritysolutions.wordpress.com...
[2] http://polaris.gseis.ucla.edu...
[3] http://writing.colostate.edu...
[4] http://toolboxes.flexiblelearning.net.au...
RationalMadman

Pro

There are moments in life where one must source their debate. Sometimes, not a single source will be needed for the pure logic about to be displayed before the audience of the debate. I shall be using pure logic to counter all your raised points.

The gun analogy is perfect. It's perfectly representative of the truth, my opponent merely chose to display it from a false point of view. The man holding the gun is the one posing the question. The gun is the context in which the question is being used. The bullet is the question. In a gunshot the bullet is helplessly thrust into a person or at a shooting target. It is crushed if the target is hard and merely left to waste and rot, since one cannot use a bullet if it hits a hard object, it is deformed. If the bullet is the question then the bullet has no say in where it goes or how it is used. So the analogy is in fact helpful to the Pro in this debate. In fact a bullet can be used to save someone by killing their potential murderer or rapist, so I fail to see how this is even related to the con's side of debate.

'Have you stopped beating your wife?' is not a bad question. It merely is used to get information from someone. If used in a context where it can hurt someone it doesn't mean that it is bad, it means that it was used in a bad way.

Questions of poor quality do not exist absolutely. To exist absolutely as bad it would mean that there can infinitely be no question of lower quality than that question, otherwise if compared to the wrong set of questions it could always be seen as being high quality since there will always be worse questions than others (words can infinitely be arranged to form questions, not all arrangements making sense but still asking a question). However, this is not true and thus there is no way t determine the quality of a question. Just because it is a yes or no question doesn't mean it is a bad quality question. The question 'Is there such a thing as a bad question?' according to the con's debate, would in itself be a bad question as it requires a yes or no answer, so the con is openly claiming this debate's questioning to be of poor quality. This is ironic and hypocritical of the con.

There is no such thing as a bad question.

Use logic.

Vote pro.
Debate Round No. 2
18 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Smithereens 2 months ago
Smithereens
who the heck reported that...?
Posted by whiteflame 3 months ago
whiteflame
*******************************************************************
>Reported vote: dylancatlow// Mod action: NOT Removed<

3 point to Con (Arguments). Reasons for voting decision: ...

[*Reason for non-removal*] This debate is over 4 years old, as is the vote. As such, this vote is well beyond the statute of limitations for moderation, and is thus no longer moderated.
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Posted by Smithereens 5 years ago
Smithereens
You're gonna check this comment too, arent ya? >:)
Posted by RationalMadman 5 years ago
RationalMadman
faggot
Posted by Smithereens 5 years ago
Smithereens
im just posting this comment here now in the attempt to waste your time should you have it under email remiders :P
Posted by adontimasu 5 years ago
adontimasu
@Smithereens - I lol'd. +1
Posted by Smithereens 5 years ago
Smithereens
hes allowed to comment, this is after all, the comments section.
Posted by RationalMadman 5 years ago
RationalMadman
just shut up, you aren't even debating.
Posted by royalpaladin 5 years ago
royalpaladin
Not adequately . . . Plus, just because you listed a bunch of refutations does not mean that they are convincing.
Posted by RationalMadman 5 years ago
RationalMadman
I refuted all his points.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by adontimasu 5 years ago
adontimasu
SmithereensRationalMadmanTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: While Pro refuted most of Con's arguments, Con's last argument was not refuted. Pro refuted it by using his own personal definition of bad, a definition that Con did not agree to use, nor did he attempt to use. Therefore, Con fulfilled his BOP within the context of the amount of time and the number of rounds, and therefore won.
Vote Placed by Travniki 5 years ago
Travniki
SmithereensRationalMadmanTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Counter VB Dylancatlow, Ill judge this debate later today, it looks interesting
Vote Placed by dylancatlow 5 years ago
dylancatlow
SmithereensRationalMadmanTied
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Reasons for voting decision: ...
Vote Placed by Stephen_Hawkins 5 years ago
Stephen_Hawkins
SmithereensRationalMadmanTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: To be frank, I thought CON's opening argument was very strong before it was accepted. In response, PRO seemed to propose a squirelling definition to attempt to win the debate, which was reasonably denied by CON. And in fact questions that are morally dubious were presented, and thus I have to side with CON. (Just a note, if CON wants, I'd wonder if he wants to redo this debate against me)