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Shared BoP in most cases is a falsehood.

ClassicRobert
Posts: 2,487
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5/23/2014 10:15:00 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Often times I see people state in the rules for their debates that there is a "shared burden of proof." Excluding debates with resolutions like "x vs. y," this just doesn't make sense. BoP in a clear resolution is on the person advocating change from the status quo, or the person making the positive claim, depending on the context.

Some examples:

"The minimum wage ought to be raised."

"Doctor-assisted suicide ought to be legalized"

"The welfare state should be replaced by a negative income tax."

Clearly, one side is arguing change, so they have the burden of proof to show that the status quo is insufficient, and that the change they propose is better. All the other side needs to do to negate that resolution is show why the one advocating change is wrong. The wording of those resolutions could be rearranged so that it says "The minimum wage should stay where it is" or that "We should keep the welfare state as it is" and the burden of proof for these debates would remain on the person advocating change.

"Ethical egoism is true"

"The blank slate interpretation of human consciousness is correct"

In cases like these, there is no real "change," so the burden of proof is placed on the debater making the positive claim. If a voter goes into the debate knowing nothing about the topic, the base assumption that they're going to be making is that it isn't true. So when you say ethical egoism is true, you need to show the voter why it's true. When you say that humans are born with a blank slate, you need to show the voter why that's true.

So people, please, stop writing "shared burden of proof" in your debate rules and just deal with the burden that you have.
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JohnMaynardKeynes
Posts: 1,512
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5/23/2014 10:28:44 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
I generally agree with what you have posted, though I do share the sentiment that some others seem to have regarding the BOP: that the notion of arguing that because a person doesn't have the burden of proof, they can simply say "All I must do is neutralize your points" yields, for the most part, a very boring debate and a significantly easier time for the person without the burden.

That aside, though, I do have a question for you that has eluded me for some time. You stated, which I agree with, that the BOP falls on the person either making a positive statement or arguing for a change in the status quo. Which of these takes priority, though? For instance, if the resolution is "The minimum wage should stay where it is," isn't that making a positive statement? So even though Pro is arguing for the status quo, isn't it possible to say, in that case, that the BOP ought to be shared?

Personally, I wouldn't mind simply throwing out BOP except for very extreme cases and simply evaluating arguments.
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Raisor
Posts: 4,461
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5/23/2014 10:50:00 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 5/23/2014 10:15:00 PM, ClassicRobert wrote:
Often times I see people state in the rules for their debates that there is a "shared burden of proof." Excluding debates with resolutions like "x vs. y," this just doesn't make sense. BoP in a clear resolution is on the person advocating change from the status quo, or the person making the positive claim, depending on the context.

Some examples:

"The minimum wage ought to be raised."

"Doctor-assisted suicide ought to be legalized"

"The welfare state should be replaced by a negative income tax."

Clearly, one side is arguing change, so they have the burden of proof to show that the status quo is insufficient, and that the change they propose is better. All the other side needs to do to negate that resolution is show why the one advocating change is wrong. The wording of those resolutions could be rearranged so that it says "The minimum wage should stay where it is" or that "We should keep the welfare state as it is" and the burden of proof for these debates would remain on the person advocating change.

"Ethical egoism is true"

"The blank slate interpretation of human consciousness is correct"

In cases like these, there is no real "change," so the burden of proof is placed on the debater making the positive claim. If a voter goes into the debate knowing nothing about the topic, the base assumption that they're going to be making is that it isn't true. So when you say ethical egoism is true, you need to show the voter why it's true. When you say that humans are born with a blank slate, you need to show the voter why that's true.

So people, please, stop writing "shared burden of proof" in your debate rules and just deal with the burden that you have.

Shared BoP is often another way of saying "on balance..." It just denotes that both sides need to present offense to win the round.

For example in the policy resolutions you presented, Neg couldn't just say "I have negated all your reasons in favor of the resolution" and win, neg would need to provide reasons why the resolution is undesirable.

This offense/defense paradigm is a pretty common way to evaluate debates, but inserting it into R1 on DDO is an easy way to leverage the concept when you weigh arguments in round.
NiqashMotawadi3
Posts: 1,895
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5/24/2014 12:12:46 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
I see your point but some of us like to be in abstract situations and take the BoP as a challenge, not because our position is fundamentally the one that would take that BoP, and that is perfectly fine with me, unless I instigate a debate where the BoP is on my opponent, and he falsely argues that I share it, forcing me to defend myself and argue that the BoP is on him.
Wylted
Posts: 21,167
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5/24/2014 1:52:11 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 5/23/2014 10:15:00 PM, ClassicRobert wrote:
Often times I see people state in the rules for their debates that there is a "shared burden of proof." Excluding debates with resolutions like "x vs. y," this just doesn't make sense. BoP in a clear resolution is on the person advocating change from the status quo, or the person making the positive claim, depending on the context.

Some examples:

"The minimum wage ought to be raised."

"Doctor-assisted suicide ought to be legalized"

"The welfare state should be replaced by a negative income tax."

Clearly, one side is arguing change, so they have the burden of proof to show that the status quo is insufficient, and that the change they propose is better. All the other side needs to do to negate that resolution is show why the one advocating change is wrong. The wording of those resolutions could be rearranged so that it says "The minimum wage should stay where it is" or that "We should keep the welfare state as it is" and the burden of proof for these debates would remain on the person advocating change.

"Ethical egoism is true"

"The blank slate interpretation of human consciousness is correct"

In cases like these, there is no real "change," so the burden of proof is placed on the debater making the positive claim. If a voter goes into the debate knowing nothing about the topic, the base assumption that they're going to be making is that it isn't true. So when you say ethical egoism is true, you need to show the voter why it's true. When you say that humans are born with a blank slate, you need to show the voter why that's true.

So people, please, stop writing "shared burden of proof" in your debate rules and just deal with the burden that you have.

Why don't you discuss when shared BOP is acceptable.
YYW
Posts: 36,355
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5/25/2014 7:53:40 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 5/23/2014 10:15:00 PM, ClassicRobert wrote:
Often times I see people state in the rules for their debates that there is a "shared burden of proof." Excluding debates with resolutions like "x vs. y," this just doesn't make sense. BoP in a clear resolution is on the person advocating change from the status quo, or the person making the positive claim, depending on the context.

Some examples:

"The minimum wage ought to be raised."

Normative claim, equal burden.

"Doctor-assisted suicide ought to be legalized"

Normative claim, equal burden.

"The welfare state should be replaced by a negative income tax."

Normative claim, equal burden -although very odd resolution.

Clearly, one side is arguing change, so they have the burden of proof to show that the status quo is insufficient, and that the change they propose is better. All the other side needs to do to negate that resolution is show why the one advocating change is wrong. The wording of those resolutions could be rearranged so that it says "The minimum wage should stay where it is" or that "We should keep the welfare state as it is" and the burden of proof for these debates would remain on the person advocating change.

Not really. The burden of proof depends on the kind of claim being advanced. A positive claim (a testable, falsifiable claim about what is) places the burden of proof on he or she who makes the claim, whereas a normative claim (which more or less presents a question of opinion) enjoins both sides to an equal burden. It's "shared" only in the sense that it's mutually held, and then only when it's a normative resolution; PRO has a 100% burden to affirm the resolution and CON has a 100% burden to prove the opposite (negative) of the resolution.

"Ethical egoism is true"

That one's weird, because ethical positions cannot be "true" or "false" where truth or falsehood is contenting upon empirical proof -and since we can't empirically test normative claims (which ethical egoism posits) the resolution is flawed. Also, arguing over whether various ethical frameworks are "true" or "false" isn't a worthwhile enterprise, for that same reason.

"The blank slate interpretation of human consciousness is correct"

This one's another weird one, because the we're making a positive claim about something that can only be normatively articulated. There is no positive or "capital T Truth" to any normative claim; there is only subjective "lower case t truth" -which isn't really "truth" in any meaningful sense -it's just opinion. So, insofar as it's opinion, it's a shared/split/equal burden.

In cases like these, there is no real "change," so the burden of proof is placed on the debater making the positive claim.

Ehh... sort of, but not really. If someone is making a positive claim, then they have the full BOP, just as if someone's making a policy argument that does, in fact, differ from the status quo. Take for example the topic "The United States should substantially increase trade with South America." The resolution implies a change from the status quo and therefore CON's only burden is to show that the status quo, for whatever reason, is cool as it is. But, that's still a normative claim -the stuff of opinion. We can't falsify it. We can't test it. We can speculatively predict the impact of taking one action or another or not taking any action at all, and we can even frame those debates through any number of clever lenses -but there's no authentically objective metric against which we can test that claim because all standards/frameworks themselves are necessarily subjective by their very selection. Even still, whenever you see a "should" it's always a normative claim.

If a voter goes into the debate knowing nothing about the topic, the base assumption that they're going to be making is that it isn't true.

Sure, but only for positive claims... something like "The average price of gas is higher than 3.50 USD." Debating something like that would be stupid because a simple google search can tell us that, in fact, the average price of gas in the United States is or is not higher than 3.50 USD -but that's an example of a "positive" claim -a claim whose truth can be verified, falsified and empirically proven. Alas, the BOP rests totally on he or she who makes that specific kind of claim.

What's not a positive claim, but a normative claim, is something like "The price of gas is too damn high!" Maybe it is. Maybe it's not. We're still advocating a change from the status quo (at least implicitly) insofar as we're -to the extent that we're affirming- saying that gas should be cheaper, but in that case PRO has to posit that "The price of gas is too damn high!" whereas CON has to posit that "The price of gas is not too damn high." In any case, both debaters have an equal burden: one has to affirm the resolution, while the other has to negate (affirm the logical negation). That's practically what a "split" or "shared" burden means.

So when you say ethical egoism is true, you need to show the voter why it's true. When you say that humans are born with a blank slate, you need to show the voter why that's true.

Ethical egoism cannot be "true." We can "buy" ethical egoism as a perspective or we can not -but there is no "truth" to lower case t truth, as "truth" in that usage only means "I think X." and to call an opinion true is to wage war on the meaning on the concept of truth, itself.

So people, please, stop writing "shared burden of proof" in your debate rules and just deal with the burden that you have.

The reason that people write what they do is because, mostly, they're establishing the standard against which they want the judge to evaluate both debaters -and, Bobbert, most judges need reminding. There are some who, for whatever idiotic reason, can look at a normative resolution and conclude that one debater has a much greater burden than another even when we're not talking about policy arguments.

The reason is because they're imposing the "change v. status quo" criterion for evaluating the BOP into a philosophical issue, when there is no "status quo" in philosophy to advocate for or against other than the judge's preconceptions about the issue. So, when a judge says that one side or another has a higher burden in, for example, an LD resolution, they're telling all who read that RFD that the status quo against which they're measuring is their own beliefs. Doing so, then, puts the judge in dialogue with the debaters -and that's fundamentally irresponsible, disingenuous and downright shitty judging. However, not all judges know how to evaluate resolutions so it's appropriate, then, for the debaters to do it for them -and that's ok.
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