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How to analyze impact in philosophy debates?

Ockham
Posts: 19
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6/8/2016 12:46:03 PM
Posted: 6 months ago
I've been reading bluesteel's voting guide to improve my voting.

http://www.debate.org...

I have two questions about these guidelines.

First, the guide says "Voters should only be voting for offensive arguments. Defensive arguments, on their own, cannot logically form a basis for decision because they only mitigate the opponent"s case."

My issue with this is that a lot of the debates I participate in and vote on are burden of proof debates, where one specific side has the burden of proof. For example, in a debate over the existence of God, it would be unfair to require the atheist to argue against the existence of God if their actual position is only that theists have not met their burden of proof.

How does the offensive / defensive argument distinction apply to debates like this?

Second, the guide says that "a good RFD should engage in impact analysis and consider both probability and magnitude."

However, many of the debates I participate in and vote on don't have anything to do with probability or magnitude, because they are metaphysical or epistemological issues.

For example, I recently had a debate over Anselm's ontological argument where I argued for empiricism to undercut Anselm's rationalism. Probability and magnitude don't meaningfully apply to this sort of debate. The ontological argument is an a priori deductive argument, so it is either sound or unsound, which means probability doesn't come into it. Magnitude isn't really relevant in a metaphysical debate, either, because we're not debating about the concrete consequences of a policy.

So, how does impact analysis work in a philosophical debate?

Thanks in advance for any answers.
Ockham
Posts: 19
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6/8/2016 2:10:14 PM
Posted: 6 months ago
Note: Please don't answer if you can't do so authoritatively, because then I may end up getting my vote removed because I followed your advice. Thanks!
whiteflame
Posts: 1,378
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6/8/2016 2:16:52 PM
Posted: 6 months ago
At 6/8/2016 12:46:03 PM, Ockham wrote:
I've been reading bluesteel's voting guide to improve my voting.

http://www.debate.org...

I have two questions about these guidelines.

First, the guide says "Voters should only be voting for offensive arguments. Defensive arguments, on their own, cannot logically form a basis for decision because they only mitigate the opponent"s case."

My issue with this is that a lot of the debates I participate in and vote on are burden of proof debates, where one specific side has the burden of proof. For example, in a debate over the existence of God, it would be unfair to require the atheist to argue against the existence of God if their actual position is only that theists have not met their burden of proof.

How does the offensive / defensive argument distinction apply to debates like this?

Burden of proof is something that should be clearly defined in the debate, but whether or not that's the case, if it plays a role in your decision, you need to explain who carries that burden, why they carry it, and what that burden requires of them. Defensive arguments can be enough to deny someone the ability to carry that burden through the debate, so yes, a debate can be won solely with defensive argumentation. I think the point bluesteel was trying to make, though, was that you're never voting FOR that defensive argument. You're voting AGAINST the side that failed to meet their burden. The defensive point only helps establish why they failed to do so.

Second, the guide says that "a good RFD should engage in impact analysis and consider both probability and magnitude."

However, many of the debates I participate in and vote on don't have anything to do with probability or magnitude, because they are metaphysical or epistemological issues.

For example, I recently had a debate over Anselm's ontological argument where I argued for empiricism to undercut Anselm's rationalism. Probability and magnitude don't meaningfully apply to this sort of debate. The ontological argument is an a priori deductive argument, so it is either sound or unsound, which means probability doesn't come into it. Magnitude isn't really relevant in a metaphysical debate, either, because we're not debating about the concrete consequences of a policy.

So, how does impact analysis work in a philosophical debate?

I don't pretend to be an expert on this type of debate. It's not my forte, either in debating style or in voting, though I have voted on them more than a few times. Essentially, in this case, it's a balance of logic. Who better upheld their view of how the world works? There is a sort of magnitude to it, since some points will do more to affect the core logic that plays a role in the outcome of the debate than others, and depending on how far reaching the consequences of your accepting a specific point are, a single argument may outweigh others in terms of importance to the overall debate. But, to my knowledge, the basis for judging such debates is a little looser, and more based on the specific debate than on a general magnitude assessment as with policy debates.

Thanks in advance for any answers.
Ockham
Posts: 19
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6/8/2016 2:18:43 PM
Posted: 6 months ago
At 6/8/2016 2:16:52 PM, whiteflame wrote:
At 6/8/2016 12:46:03 PM, Ockham wrote:
I've been reading bluesteel's voting guide to improve my voting.

http://www.debate.org...

I have two questions about these guidelines.

First, the guide says "Voters should only be voting for offensive arguments. Defensive arguments, on their own, cannot logically form a basis for decision because they only mitigate the opponent"s case."

My issue with this is that a lot of the debates I participate in and vote on are burden of proof debates, where one specific side has the burden of proof. For example, in a debate over the existence of God, it would be unfair to require the atheist to argue against the existence of God if their actual position is only that theists have not met their burden of proof.

How does the offensive / defensive argument distinction apply to debates like this?

Burden of proof is something that should be clearly defined in the debate, but whether or not that's the case, if it plays a role in your decision, you need to explain who carries that burden, why they carry it, and what that burden requires of them. Defensive arguments can be enough to deny someone the ability to carry that burden through the debate, so yes, a debate can be won solely with defensive argumentation. I think the point bluesteel was trying to make, though, was that you're never voting FOR that defensive argument. You're voting AGAINST the side that failed to meet their burden. The defensive point only helps establish why they failed to do so.

Second, the guide says that "a good RFD should engage in impact analysis and consider both probability and magnitude."

However, many of the debates I participate in and vote on don't have anything to do with probability or magnitude, because they are metaphysical or epistemological issues.

For example, I recently had a debate over Anselm's ontological argument where I argued for empiricism to undercut Anselm's rationalism. Probability and magnitude don't meaningfully apply to this sort of debate. The ontological argument is an a priori deductive argument, so it is either sound or unsound, which means probability doesn't come into it. Magnitude isn't really relevant in a metaphysical debate, either, because we're not debating about the concrete consequences of a policy.

So, how does impact analysis work in a philosophical debate?

I don't pretend to be an expert on this type of debate. It's not my forte, either in debating style or in voting, though I have voted on them more than a few times. Essentially, in this case, it's a balance of logic. Who better upheld their view of how the world works? There is a sort of magnitude to it, since some points will do more to affect the core logic that plays a role in the outcome of the debate than others, and depending on how far reaching the consequences of your accepting a specific point are, a single argument may outweigh others in terms of importance to the overall debate. But, to my knowledge, the basis for judging such debates is a little looser, and more based on the specific debate than on a general magnitude assessment as with policy debates.

Thanks in advance for any answers.

Thanks!
Wylted
Posts: 21,167
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6/8/2016 2:26:38 PM
Posted: 6 months ago
Dude the guide is for policy debates. I think Bluesteel also debates policies exclusively.

Now for a debate on say the existence of God, it is still an ideal to argue some form of positive argumentation for the non existence of God. The burden of proof does lie on the theist most of the time, but it is likely some piece of their argument will survive until the end ensuring you will lose.

I won't pretend judging a philosophical debate is as easy as a policy debate, but most of the principles can be applied even if you have to make some common sense adjustments. When two competing philosophies but heads, you will just weigh the arguments like you would in a policy debate and see which philosophy is better supported by the body of evidence.

Lets say we have positive existence for God argument such as the Modal Ontological argument. Now succesfully arguing nihilism would prove that existence is not greater than non existence because there is no reason to place any value higher than another, that nullifies that argument, but you argue for the problem of evil/suffering and show that dog's and insects suffer too much. Your opponent might argue that insects don't actually feel pain, so you have proven atleast animals hurt.

This means your positive argumentation of the problem of evil stands while his ontological argument fails.

Now let's say that you both argue the same arguments, but you say the ontological argument fails because you can use the same sort of argument about the perfect island, and he says that your POE argument fails because he succesfully argues that animals do not feel pain because they are philosophical zombies and also because solipsism proves he is the only person in existence. Well than you would lose because all you have done is proven that perfect islands exist while he has proven that no unneccesary suffering occurs, meaning your argument fails and his is partially successful. He negates your argument while you only make his look silly.

You see this is still an act of weighing arguments.
Of looking at each arguments impact.

I hope the stream of consciousness post helped