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NO SEMANTICS! And so... What?

YYW
Posts: 36,250
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7/26/2012 1:23:56 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
In just about every debate I read over, in the rules there is invariably a line that reads "no semantics" in some fashion or another. But, when I see judges penalize people for "semantics" I often wonder if perhaps there wasn't a disconnect between the judge, the debaters, and the notion of what the hell is going on.

One judge -an especially intellectually challenged fellow who will remain unnamed because I don't think he intended to sound as stupid as he did- wrote:

" All in all, in a battle of semantics, con prevailed."

So, my fellow debaters, let's clear up the matter:

When YOU say "no semantics" what do YOU mean? I may be stupid too because I can't read your mind, but I genuinely want to know what we all think about this nebulous and elusive concept of "semantics" because I postulate that we don't all mean the same thing, and I further postulate that even if we think we mean the same thing, we don't know how to apply that understanding to our debates.

As such, I will invite everyone here to offer THEIR version of what THEY think "semantic" quibbling is all about. And truly, I'm anxious to learn.
Tsar of DDO
MouthWash
Posts: 2,607
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7/26/2012 1:31:16 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/26/2012 1:23:56 AM, YYW wrote:
In just about every debate I read over, in the rules there is invariably a line that reads "no semantics" in some fashion or another. But, when I see judges penalize people for "semantics" I often wonder if perhaps there wasn't a disconnect between the judge, the debaters, and the notion of what the hell is going on.

One judge -an especially intellectually challenged fellow who will remain unnamed because I don't think he intended to sound as stupid as he did- wrote:

" All in all, in a battle of semantics, con prevailed."

So, my fellow debaters, let's clear up the matter:

When YOU say "no semantics" what do YOU mean? I may be stupid too because I can't read your mind, but I genuinely want to know what we all think about this nebulous and elusive concept of "semantics" because I postulate that we don't all mean the same thing, and I further postulate that even if we think we mean the same thing, we don't know how to apply that understanding to our debates.

As such, I will invite everyone here to offer THEIR version of what THEY think "semantic" quibbling is all about. And truly, I'm anxious to learn.

I think it's just a formality...
"Well, that gives whole new meaning to my assassination. If I was going to die anyway, perhaps I should leave the Bolsheviks' descendants some Christmas cookies instead of breaking their dishes and vodka bottles in their sleep." -Tsar Nicholas II (YYW)
YYW
Posts: 36,250
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7/26/2012 1:32:42 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/26/2012 1:31:16 AM, MouthWash wrote:
At 7/26/2012 1:23:56 AM, YYW wrote:
In just about every debate I read over, in the rules there is invariably a line that reads "no semantics" in some fashion or another. But, when I see judges penalize people for "semantics" I often wonder if perhaps there wasn't a disconnect between the judge, the debaters, and the notion of what the hell is going on.

One judge -an especially intellectually challenged fellow who will remain unnamed because I don't think he intended to sound as stupid as he did- wrote:

" All in all, in a battle of semantics, con prevailed."

So, my fellow debaters, let's clear up the matter:

When YOU say "no semantics" what do YOU mean? I may be stupid too because I can't read your mind, but I genuinely want to know what we all think about this nebulous and elusive concept of "semantics" because I postulate that we don't all mean the same thing, and I further postulate that even if we think we mean the same thing, we don't know how to apply that understanding to our debates.

As such, I will invite everyone here to offer THEIR version of what THEY think "semantic" quibbling is all about. And truly, I'm anxious to learn.

I think it's just a formality...

WHAT?!?!?! A DAMN FORMALITY?!? This has been depressing. Seriously though, what do we think about semantics. I MUST know.
Tsar of DDO
MouthWash
Posts: 2,607
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7/26/2012 1:34:51 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/26/2012 1:32:42 AM, YYW wrote:
At 7/26/2012 1:31:16 AM, MouthWash wrote:
At 7/26/2012 1:23:56 AM, YYW wrote:
In just about every debate I read over, in the rules there is invariably a line that reads "no semantics" in some fashion or another. But, when I see judges penalize people for "semantics" I often wonder if perhaps there wasn't a disconnect between the judge, the debaters, and the notion of what the hell is going on.

One judge -an especially intellectually challenged fellow who will remain unnamed because I don't think he intended to sound as stupid as he did- wrote:

" All in all, in a battle of semantics, con prevailed."

So, my fellow debaters, let's clear up the matter:

When YOU say "no semantics" what do YOU mean? I may be stupid too because I can't read your mind, but I genuinely want to know what we all think about this nebulous and elusive concept of "semantics" because I postulate that we don't all mean the same thing, and I further postulate that even if we think we mean the same thing, we don't know how to apply that understanding to our debates.

As such, I will invite everyone here to offer THEIR version of what THEY think "semantic" quibbling is all about. And truly, I'm anxious to learn.

I think it's just a formality...

WHAT?!?!?! A DAMN FORMALITY?!? This has been depressing. Seriously though, what do we think about semantics. I MUST know.

You aren't acting right. When did you get a (albeit horrible) sense of humor?
"Well, that gives whole new meaning to my assassination. If I was going to die anyway, perhaps I should leave the Bolsheviks' descendants some Christmas cookies instead of breaking their dishes and vodka bottles in their sleep." -Tsar Nicholas II (YYW)
AlwaysMoreThanYou
Posts: 2,900
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7/26/2012 1:37:27 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
What I mean by semantics is that you shouldn't attempt to abuse wording of anything to debate something that wasn't the original intent of the instigator. It's kind of subjective when you're abusing something or the instigator is being dumb, so in general I trust people to be intelligent.
'When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.' - John 16:13
YYW
Posts: 36,250
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7/26/2012 1:37:41 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/26/2012 1:34:51 AM, MouthWash wrote:
At 7/26/2012 1:32:42 AM, YYW wrote:
At 7/26/2012 1:31:16 AM, MouthWash wrote:
At 7/26/2012 1:23:56 AM, YYW wrote:
In just about every debate I read over, in the rules there is invariably a line that reads "no semantics" in some fashion or another. But, when I see judges penalize people for "semantics" I often wonder if perhaps there wasn't a disconnect between the judge, the debaters, and the notion of what the hell is going on.

One judge -an especially intellectually challenged fellow who will remain unnamed because I don't think he intended to sound as stupid as he did- wrote:

" All in all, in a battle of semantics, con prevailed."

So, my fellow debaters, let's clear up the matter:

When YOU say "no semantics" what do YOU mean? I may be stupid too because I can't read your mind, but I genuinely want to know what we all think about this nebulous and elusive concept of "semantics" because I postulate that we don't all mean the same thing, and I further postulate that even if we think we mean the same thing, we don't know how to apply that understanding to our debates.

As such, I will invite everyone here to offer THEIR version of what THEY think "semantic" quibbling is all about. And truly, I'm anxious to learn.

I think it's just a formality...

WHAT?!?!?! A DAMN FORMALITY?!? This has been depressing. Seriously though, what do we think about semantics. I MUST know.

You aren't acting right. When did you get a (albeit horrible) sense of humor?

I've always had a sense of humor, it just only rarely surfaces.
Tsar of DDO
larztheloser
Posts: 857
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7/26/2012 4:19:08 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
"No semantics" to me is a variant of the rule "no squirreling". Essentially it means not to use alternative or unreasonable definitions in order to win the debate. In my experience, when somebody does that it usually turns the debate into a form of tautology, making the rule quite un-necessary. Where this is not the case, the debate will be "trolled" and this is usually also penalised by voters. So basically it's a bit of an un-necessary rule. I think most debaters include it because they haven't thought about it so much.
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
Posts: 18,324
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7/27/2012 4:26:25 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
"Semantics" as mentioned in debates here often refers to unreasonable interpretations of the resolution. For example, if the resolution is titled, "9/11 was an inside job," it would be unreasonable to interpret 9/11 as referring to a specific day as opposed to the attacks on the world trade center. Yes, the contender would be technically correct in their definition but it is against the spirit of the debate since it is fairly obvious to any rational person that 9/11 in this case refers specifically to those attacks. The same can be said if the contender chooses to interpret "9/11" as 9/11 of any year and argue from there. So, a semantic argument is one which is valid as per common dictionary definitions but goes against the spirit of the debate.
000ike
Posts: 11,196
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7/27/2012 4:37:20 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
It refers to manipulating definitions for the debaters own advantage. It's the act of calling into question uncontroversial words and attempting to win on a technicality.

It's deceitful, uninteresting, and defeating of any productive debate.
"A stupid despot may constrain his slaves with iron chains; but a true politician binds them even more strongly with the chain of their own ideas" - Michel Foucault
Stephen_Hawkins
Posts: 5,316
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7/27/2012 5:11:15 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/26/2012 4:19:08 AM, larztheloser wrote:
"No semantics" to me is a variant of the rule "no squirreling". Essentially it means not to use alternative or unreasonable definitions in order to win the debate. In my experience, when somebody does that it usually turns the debate into a form of tautology, making the rule quite un-necessary. Where this is not the case, the debate will be "trolled" and this is usually also penalised by voters. So basically it's a bit of an un-necessary rule. I think most debaters include it because they haven't thought about it so much.

Essentially, this. It's what someone says when they can't create a closed topic, really, or if they want to make sure that they can debate a very specific issue.
Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach him how to be Gay, he'll positively influence the GDP.

Social Contract Theory debate: http://www.debate.org...
UnStupendousMan
Posts: 3,475
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7/27/2012 5:22:53 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Semantics is when someone does not use undefined words at face value. Example: DNA defined as "Demonic Namibian Antelopes" rather than "Deoxyribo Nucleic Acid" as the instigator contended. Or people could just bicker about what a word actually means.
YYW
Posts: 36,250
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7/27/2012 6:15:30 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/27/2012 4:26:25 PM, F-16_Fighting_Falcon wrote:
"Semantics" as mentioned in debates here often refers to unreasonable interpretations of the resolution. For example, if the resolution is titled, "9/11 was an inside job," it would be unreasonable to interpret 9/11 as referring to a specific day as opposed to the attacks on the world trade center. Yes, the contender would be technically correct in their definition but it is against the spirit of the debate since it is fairly obvious to any rational person that 9/11 in this case refers specifically to those attacks. The same can be said if the contender chooses to interpret "9/11" as 9/11 of any year and argue from there. So, a semantic argument is one which is valid as per common dictionary definitions but goes against the spirit of the debate.

This is what I would hope we all mean. That is basically what I have always understood it to mean. That should be what every debater understands it to mean.
Tsar of DDO