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Semantics

Mikeee
Posts: 234
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10/5/2011 3:58:46 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
Have you ever tried to debate something for the IDEA and not the WORDING of how you phrase your opening statements? In some debates, your opponent makes attacks at you word interpreting something differently that "WHAT IS SAYS", and resorts to showing that you did not use literal definition of something. I feel that this is not how debates should go. It is annoying, and failure on your opponent's part, when they resort to semantics when you are obviously debating the IDEA of what you meant, and not the word choice. Debates should not be determined by "semantics", they should be interpreted for the analysis and meaning, rather than your use of English or vocabulary, here are some examples;

"Pro tried a semantical approach, thus losing him conduct points. He clearly states in his opening round that it is that described in Genesis, ni room for semantics." - kohai [1]

"I doubt someone will accept this. It's an obvious win for the Pro based on the proposed definition of materialism alone, which specifically states rejection of spirituality." - Danielle [2]

"Since my opponent has stated he needs to 'prove' there is a god, he must make it impossible for me to arrive at a logical standpoint to where a godless existance is possible... I, however, need to simply dismantle and abolish all claims that my opponent makes. I am not neccessarily required to assert that no god exists, seeing as we do not by default understand that a god exists..." - shift4101 [3]

"Noah's Flood: An "event" in history that was a world wide flood. This flood covered the entire earth in water. This debate is through a literal reading of Genesis. " - kohai [4]

Quotes from:
1. http://www.debate.org...
2. http://www.debate.org...
3. http://www.debate.org...
4. http://www.debate.org...
Ore_Ele
Posts: 25,980
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10/5/2011 4:21:07 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
One of the things I've started in debates that I start, is putting a line or two about the "heart of the debate." While my resolution may be able to be picked at via semantics, I want the heart of the debate addressed.
"Wanting Red Rhino Pill to have gender"
Raisor
Posts: 4,461
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10/5/2011 5:35:54 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 10/5/2011 4:21:07 PM, Ore_Ele wrote:
One of the things I've started in debates that I start, is putting a line or two about the "heart of the debate." While my resolution may be able to be picked at via semantics, I want the heart of the debate addressed.

Yep, semantics have a place in debate- at the least they promote clarity in communication. If you start a debate, you have the power to frame it so as to focus on the "idea" and not the "phrasing."
CosmicAlfonzo
Posts: 5,955
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10/5/2011 5:41:55 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
If someone is using language they don't have a grasp of, and it ends up making the debate deceptive as a result, I wouldn't say that con is necessarily playing semantic games.

All affirmations are true in some sense, false in some sense, meaningless in some sense, true and false in some sense, true and meaningless in some sense, false and meaningless in some sense, and true and false and meaningless in some sense.

There is reason for this.

Most disagreements are certainly the result of people who aren't able to get on the same page as each other. While I will take the time to do so talking to someone in person or on a forum, there isn't really time to do that sort of thing in a formalized debate. I see it as possibly being a trick meant to mislead someone into agreeing to debate something they never had the intention of debating.
Official "High Priest of Secular Affairs and Transient Distributor of Sonic Apple Seeds relating to the Reptilian Division of Paperwork Immoliation" of The FREEDO Bureaucracy, a DDO branch of the Erisian Front, a subdivision of the Discordian Back, a Limb of the Illuminatian Cosmic Utensil Corp
Double_R
Posts: 4,886
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10/5/2011 5:49:00 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
Semantics are a pain, but if you spend enough time thinking about your resolution and making sure that you are clear then you won't be attacked so easily. Always provide definitions and clarifications to what is being debated vs. what is not. For example I always put in a "Burden of proof" section where I discuss what each side must accomplish to win the debate. Also, I always state "no semantics" then follow it with some comment discussing what the debate is generally about. If someone still tries a semantic battle after all that the voters would normally not accept it because it was clear that it was unacceptable.
mongeese
Posts: 5,387
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10/5/2011 5:51:52 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
The availability of semantics forces the Instigator to actually define the words in a resolution. If the resolution is not defined, a disagreement on how to interpret the resolution is often inevitable. If one side's argument works under one reading, and the other side's works under another, who wins?
Ore_Ele
Posts: 25,980
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10/5/2011 5:57:55 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 10/5/2011 5:51:52 PM, mongeese wrote:
The availability of semantics forces the Instigator to actually define the words in a resolution. If the resolution is not defined, a disagreement on how to interpret the resolution is often inevitable. If one side's argument works under one reading, and the other side's works under another, who wins?

Assuming that no effort was made in the OP to define words or make their case clear (like their R1 was only the resolution)? I would say the individual that used the most commonly associated defitions.

If the debate was "Planes have directly benefited society" and con tried arguing that a plane is "A flat surface on which a straight line joining any two points on it would wholly lie." and so can only "indirectly" benefit society, I'd probably go with Pro (assuming he was arguing for airplanes).
"Wanting Red Rhino Pill to have gender"
DetectableNinja
Posts: 6,043
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10/5/2011 6:59:55 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
But, as someone else said, semantics encourage clearer resolutions and communications. If you hate semantics, be more clear.
Think'st thou heaven is such a glorious thing?
I tell thee, 'tis not half so fair as thou
Or any man that breathes on earth.

- Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus
DanT
Posts: 5,693
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10/5/2011 8:44:28 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
What is even worse is when you list definitions in round 1, and your opponent spends the entire debate attacking your definitions, such as in this debate; http://www.debate.org...
"Chemical weapons are no different than any other types of weapons."~Lordknukle
wiploc
Posts: 1,485
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10/6/2011 9:33:59 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
We could have a thread for people trying to refine their resolutions before starting debates. I'm sure people would offer advice, often good advice.