The Instigator
McNichol
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Man-is-good
Con (against)
Winning
35 Points

does the term, "survival of the fittest" apply to students in highschool

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/19/2011 Category: Education
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 5,407 times Debate No: 17571
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (15)
Votes (6)

 

McNichol

Pro

When entering highschool, I believe there are always the constant fact the the survival of the fittest applies to students in highschool because they have to strive to fit in and be popular.
Man-is-good

Con

I would like to thank my opponent for creating this debate. However, I would like to emphasize my opponent’s argument. Please note, my opponent, please write a much more detailed opening argument and define words and terms in your first round. It is a form of good argumentation to do so…

Survival of the Fittest: “the idea that species adapt and change by natural selection with the best suited mutations becoming dominant.” [1]

The Semantic Argument

The term survival of the fittest was chiefly created to describe the process of natural selection, though the general consensus among the scientific community is that the term does not accurately denote such a process. In fact, in The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication, Darwin wrote: “This preservation, during the battle for life, of varieties which possess any advantage in structure, constitution, or instinct, I have called Natural Selection; and Mr. Herbert Spencer has well expressed the same idea by the Survival of the Fittest. The term "natural selection" is in some respects a bad one, as it seems to imply conscious choice; but this will be disregarded after a little familiarity"[2] In this case, the term “survival of the fittest” denotes the change of species in regard to changes to the environment, with the domination of mutations. It is strictly a scientific term, though outdated.

Pro suggests that it can be applied to high school students if one considers the common difficulties and challenges a high school student faces. This is true, but only if we conflate the strictly scientific meaning of the phrase, survival of the fittest, to mirror the everyday life of the instigator. I respect the instigator’s argument, but assuming that the term ‘survival of the fittest’ applies to high school students only conflates the general meaning of the word ‘fittest’, which generally means ‘adapted or suited; appropriate’ [3], with not only the scientific meaning (most adapted or suited to environmental changes), but the social one (adapted to high school routine or experience).

Terminologies have origins, and these origins generally determine the specific usage of the term. That origin in turn also determines its meaning: ‘survival of the fittest’ was coined by Herbert Spencer, who was, in turn, again referring to the concept of natural selection when he first used the term: "This survival of the fittest... is that which Mr. Darwin has called 'natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life'." [1] It is clear that Spencer intended, in his book—the Principles of Biology, that this term not be applied to social standards but to biology, specifically the theory of evolution.

Natural selection is merely the “nonrandom process by which biologic traits become more or less common in a population as a function of differential reproduction of their bearers.” [4] There are no social implications that apply to the everyday experiences that Pro was referencing to. Darwin himself merely wrote about variations occurring to species that account for part of evolution. The only ties between evolution and society should be social Darwinism, but that itself is irrelevant to the debate…

Recap

I have shown that the term ‘survival of the fittest’ and, partly, ‘natural selection’, are chiefly scientific in origin and definition. To suggest that they apply to areas of life outside the range of science [such as our high school experiences] would conflate and distort these specific meanings.

Secondary Argument/Refutation

In addition, I would also like to point out that Pro only considered his high school experience. There are a few problems with this approach:

Subjectivity: Pro fails to give examples of other high school environments that might challenge or stimulate students to “fit in and be popular”. In addition, Pro is also neglecting the different type of students that enter the high schools, and the different range of tastes and behavior that would cause him/her to be more popular than others.

Vagueness: Pro’s resolution is very vague in that ‘high school students’ cover freshmen, sophomore, juniors, and even seniors, all of which may have differing degrees of popularity and adaptation to the school environment. In addition, the resolution is phrased as a question. I suggest Pro not to phrase his resolution like a question, otherwise it can potentially cause confusion—especially upon one’s views and stance on the topic presented.

With that being said, I will be more than glad to continue the debate. I will, in particular, focus on our high school experiences if Pro concedes to my previous argument.

[1] http://www.phrases.org.uk...

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...

[3] http://dictionary.reference.com...

[4] http://en.wikipedia.org...

Debate Round No. 1
McNichol

Pro

McNichol forfeited this round.
Man-is-good

Con

It appears that my opponent has forfeited his second round, and failed to address my point. Nevertheless, I will make one final argument in regard to the resolution, and also challenge the validity of the resolution itself.

Semantic Argument:

The instigator apparently is referring to the meanings of the individual words of the phrase ‘survival of the fittest’. This allows him to apply the phrase to his high school experiences. However, I will challenge this approach:

Phrases are ‘groups of words…that function as a single linguistic unit in the syntax of a sentence’ [1] In other words, phrases represent a single meaning in the sentence being used. The best approach to understanding phrase is, therefore, not by understanding the constituents in the group….

Imagine a classroom contest, between two students, both of which are carrying dictionaries, who are competing for some remuneration or reward. Both must guess, or at least approximate, the definition of a word or phrase picked out from a box of index cards…In the current round, the teacher picks out a card and cries, out loud, ‘Survival of the fittest’…The two students quickly pick up their book and instantly search for the definition.

Student A does the following. He finds the definition of the phrase ‘survival of the fittest’ as: “Natural selection conceived of as a struggle for life in which only those organisms best adapted to existing conditions are able to survive and reproduce”[2].

Student B however chooses a different approach. He defines the meaning of the constituents of the phrase:

Survival: n. “the act or fact of surviving, especially under adverse or unusual circumstances.”

Fittest: the superlative of the word ‘fit’ [conventional definition assumed from the laws of grammar]

Fit: adj, “adapted or suited to” [3]

Student B arrives at the conclusion that ‘survival of the fittest’ means the survival of members best suited or adapted to some ‘adverse or unusual’ environment and its circumstances. However, this definition fails to acknowledge the biological overtones and regard to life and community in an environment, and thus is false. By the end of the round, Student A has won and receives the renumeration…

Refutation of Pro's Argument in Terms of 'High School Experience'

My opponent's argument states that students "have to strive to fit in and be popular"...However, he has failed to display, as even in the literal intepretation of the phrase 'survival of the fittest', that the high school environment is at least 'advese or unusual' for the entirety of 'high school students' in the resolution. Therefore, despite the point that students do need to adapt to the typical high school routine, and his/her peers, such a point does not necessarily need to be called a 'survival'. According to the definition I provided above, survival only applies to 'adverse or unusual circumstances' that force the students to strive to survive. My opponent does not display that the high school enviroment is harse or unusual, making his assertion invalid as to whether or not they even apply to the literal definition of 'survival of the fittest'.

My opponent has also failed to make a distinction between the distinct, and individual, grades of students, along with their ranks. A typical high school will have: freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors, all of which have varying degrees of experience and attunement to their school. This diversity alone challenges Pro's general assertion that "students have to strive to fit in and be popular"....He again implies that he is referring to the freshman class, but this is not inferred from the resolution: "does the term, 'survival of the fittest apply to students in high school", which only names 'students', including all of the grades listed above.

In addition, my opponent has also failed to name what type of high schools that might potentially challenge or stimulate their students into studying and taking assignments seriously. Generally, the four types of schools in the United States are: public, charter, and magnet schools...:

The following are excerpts from descriptions of each type of schools [which, as a note, applies to the institutions of secondary education]:

"Public schools get their financing from local, state, and federal government funds. In most cases, they must admit all students who live within the borders of their district. Charter schools and magnet schools are two relatively new kinds of public schools.

Charter schools began appearing in the early 90s. They are autonomous, "alternative" public schools started by parents, teachers, community organizations, and for-profit companies. These schools receive tax dollars but the sponsoring group must also come up with private funding. Charter schools must adhere to the basic curricular requirements of the state but are free from many of the regulations that apply to conventional schools and the day-to-day scrutiny of school boards and government authorities....

Considered cutting edge, charter schools usually challenge standard education practices and sometimes specialize in a particular area, such as technology, the arts, or a back-to-basics core-subjects approach. Some charter schools are specifically for gifted or high-risk kids. They usually offer smaller classes and more individual attention than conventional public schools....

Magnet schools are highly competitive, highly selective public schools renowned for their special programs, superior facilities, and high academic standards. They may specialize in a particular area, such as science or the arts. Students who apply to these schools go through a rigorous testing and application process. Some magnet schools have boarding facilities to allow students from out of state to attend...." [4]

Note that references and descriptions of the schools' history were cut for issues of length. Clearly, the three types of schools provide different environments, as based on their different curriculum and avaliability. There is no guarentee that students will be forced to strive and be perfect in all such schools.

Even the different kinds of students negate the general nature of the resolution:

Premise: Students are 'individuals'.
Premise two: Individuals have different ways of adapting to their environment.
Premise three: A 'high school', regardless of the different kinds, are 'environments'.

Conclusion: Students have different ways of adapating to their high school environment.

Recap:
1. 'Survival of the fittest' is chiefly a scientific term that, though no longer in technical use, retains its biological and social connotations. Ignoring these connotations, and applying them to fields outside of their intended subject, risks conflating the specific definition of such a term. (Established in round one).

2. 'Survival of the fittest' is a phrase that functions not in individual units...Applying it to "students in highschool" risk assuming that such a phrase can be understand by the sum of the definitions of its part, which, as I showed in the imaginary contest of students A and B, to be untrue.

3. Differences in students and even high school environmens further invalidate the resolution and assertions made by Pro, and further negate the resolution in general.

I await my opponent's response...I hope this will be a good way of learning, though competition and debating.
In the meantime, I encourage my opponents to vote Con since Pro has failed to give a rebuttal to my claims and cannot introduce new arguments in the final round...

Being that Pro is still a relatively new member, I hope he continues to debate and present his views on such issues. After all, the phrase 'practice make perfect' is true in a community like DDO....

1] http://en.wikipedia.org...

[2] http://www.thefreedictionary.com...

[3] http://dictionary.reference.com...; definition of the word ‘survival’ and ‘fit’

[4] http://www.babycenter.com...

Debate Round No. 2
McNichol

Pro

McNichol forfeited this round.
Man-is-good

Con

Since Pro has forfeited his final round, and has presented no rebuttal or refutation to my case whatsoever, I urge voters to vote for Con. I will give a brief overview of the contentions and cases that I presented in the precious rounds:

After Pro posted his first, and only argument, contending that the phrase "survival of the fittest" applies to social experiences in high schools, and possibly other institutions of secondary education, I rebutted his case by making the following contentions: "survival of the fittest" was created chiefly to describe a mechanism in the theory of evolution, and is synonymous with natural selection [as demonstrated by cited passages from "The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication", in a piece written by Darwin himself], and that to use it to apply to "students in high school" would risk conflating that meaning. The implicaton is that by conflating definitions to suit areas outside of their intended designation, one risks generalizing specific meanings into general ones. The promotion of such conflation can lead to more misunderstandings of both the meaning, and even use, of the term. In my secondary argument, I also focused on Pro's ill-defined resolution and how, even by the literal definition of the phrase "survival of the fittest", cannot apply, since Pro failed to designate what type of student or even high school [private, public, magnet, charter, and so on].

All of this was uncontested by Pro, who forfeited two of the three rounds, thereby confining his arguments to his solitary post in the initial round, and giving me ample time to refute and question such claims. I advice Pro to at least set rules and standards, since I was easily able to give my own definitions and phrases, which, in a debate that centers more or less on semanatics, guarentees a victory for Con. In addition, since Pro allowed a character limit of eight thousand, he could have exploited it to write clearer, more fleshed out arguments. In fact, Pro could have contended the risk of conflating definitions and at least questioned the flexibility of word application....As I have stated before in the debate, Pro should continue to debate and share his views, as well as communicating with the members of the community here. It is felicitous for him, as a new debater, to do so, and will be a rewarding experience.

Although I was disappointed when Pro's forfeits caused a threat to the integrity of the entire debate, and precluded any chance of a lively discussion, I must thank Pro for creating the topic, as a general mark of sportsmanship...
Debate Round No. 3
15 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Man-is-good 5 years ago
Man-is-good
I apologize if it did seem like vote-bombing but Russian was getting out of hand vote-bombing 16kadams and ike, I believe. He was already branded a troll (http://www.debate.org...) and his responses---"You guys should vote for me to make this kid look stupid when he lose to me so vot russianfish99" didn't seem too serious (combined with his "vote bombing").
Posted by Man-is-good 5 years ago
Man-is-good
"The Russian guy countered a v-bomb, making OberHerr's vote-bomb against me COUNTERING NO ONE and your v-bomb against me COUNTERING NO ONE"

If you mean your debate with 16kadams, then I'm confused. I assumed Russian was vote-bombing against 16kadams (like he did on numerous other debates) which I also countered. [[http://www.debate.org..., where he voted for imabench and if you notice there are no other vote bombs that Russian could be countering; in fact, including this debate (questionably), http://www.debate.org... and if you notice in the number of votes--THERE ARE NO OTHER VOTE-BOMBS (all seven points to Con) to counter.]
Posted by Danielle 5 years ago
Danielle
MiG, I'm reporting you for vote-bombing to innomen and Juggle. On my homosexuality debate, the first vote (Mangani) was legitimate. Ron-Paul gave Pro 7 points which was a complete vote-bomb. ConservativePolitico gave Pro points for sources despite the fact that his sources were absolutely ridiculous (and I explained why in the debate, proving that he didn't actually read it). He used hate groups as sources. Alkid96 countered RP's v-bomb. Drafterman's vote was legitimate. Lordknukle not surpisingly completely v-bombed against me. Maikuru's votes were legit. So were Wiploc's. Then OberHerr v-bombed against me for no reason. The Russian guy countered a v-bomb, making OberHerr's vote-bomb against me COUNTERING NO ONE and your v-bomb against me COUNTERING NO ONE. You have nobody to counter because only 3 people "v-bombed" in my favor after 5 people v-bombed in my opponent's favor. Reported, thanks.
Posted by Man-is-good 5 years ago
Man-is-good
I'll look into it....
Posted by Mr.Infidel 5 years ago
Mr.Infidel
That is strange. I can't send you a message while you are clearly my friend list
Posted by Man-is-good 5 years ago
Man-is-good
I'm confused myself...you're not blocked in any way........
Posted by Mr.Infidel 5 years ago
Mr.Infidel
Why can't I send you a message, mig?
Posted by Man-is-good 5 years ago
Man-is-good
Shhhhhhhhhhh.....
Posted by Mr.Infidel 5 years ago
Mr.Infidel
Hey MIG, are you leaving? I noticed everything from your profile is deleted.
Posted by Man-is-good 6 years ago
Man-is-good
I don't end a debate without class.
6 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Vote Placed by Zarroette 3 years ago
Zarroette
McNicholMan-is-goodTied
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: ff and absolutely crushed.
Vote Placed by K.GKevinGeary 5 years ago
K.GKevinGeary
McNicholMan-is-goodTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: well the arguments are obvious. Conduct again. Spelling fine for both if i can read it. Survival of the fit is not surival of the strong, but the one who can produce the most offspring, so technically it can apply to H.S. being that H.S. is composed of humans, but Con though won this without a doubt.
Vote Placed by Spritle 5 years ago
Spritle
McNicholMan-is-goodTied
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Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: FF
Vote Placed by thett3 6 years ago
thett3
McNicholMan-is-goodTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: FF. Man-is-good would've won this debate anyway.
Vote Placed by kohai 6 years ago
kohai
McNicholMan-is-goodTied
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Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: ff
Vote Placed by ApostateAbe 6 years ago
ApostateAbe
McNicholMan-is-goodTied
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Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: forfeit. "...general mark of sportsmanship"; more of a general mark of cowardice.