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What does the phrase "prima facie" mean?

F-16_Fighting_Falcon
Posts: 18,324
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5/30/2013 9:26:05 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
I see this phrase used a lot on DDO in debates and in forum topics. Most of the time I am puzzled as to what the speaker means by it. A quick glance through wikipedia does not make this any clearer as it also shows common errors in using it as well as its use as a policy debate term. I don't even understand which meaning people intend to it. I'll provide one example now but I'll provide more when I find them. Anyways, here is the definition according to Meriam Websters and wikipedia.

pri"ma fa"cie
-> at first view
-> on the first appearance

From wikipedia:
"It is used in modern legal English to signify that on first examination, a matter appears to be self-evident from the facts. In common law jurisdictions, prima facie denotes evidence that " unless rebutted " would be sufficient to prove a particular proposition or fact. The term is used similarly in academic philosophy. Most legal proceedings require a prima facie case to exist, following which proceedings may then commence to test it, and create a ruling.

Prima facie is often confused with res ipsa loquitur (literally, "the thing speaks for itself"), the common law doctrine that when the facts make it self-evident that negligence or other responsibility lies with a party, it is not necessary to provide extraneous details, since any reasonable person would immediately find the facts of the case.

The difference between the two is that prima facie is a term meaning there is enough evidence for there to be a case to answer. Res ipsa loquitur means that because the facts are so obvious, a party need explain no more.

In policy debate theory, prima facie is used to describe the mandates or planks of an affirmative case (or, in some rare cases, a negative counterplan). When the negative team appeals to prima facie, it appeals to the fact that the affirmative team cannot add or amend anything in its plan after being stated in the first affirmative constructive."


Here is an example of its use on DDO:

"I've had to grapple with this word throughout my time on DDO. On the one hand, it's prima facie clear that there should be "no semantics", because people should know what others are talking about when they use every day language. "
http://www.debate.org...

I plug in the words "at first sight" and it isn't any more clear to me what the speaker intends to say. On the one hand, it's prima facie clear that there should be "no semantics", because people should know what others are talking about when they use every day language.

Here is another example:
"Abortion is Prima Facie Morally Wrong"
http://www.debate.org...

Again, I plug in at first sight and it makes no sense. Abortion is at first sight morally wrong?
Noumena
Posts: 6,047
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5/30/2013 9:45:49 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
denotes evidence that " unless rebutted " would be sufficient to prove a particular proposition or fact. The term is used similarly in academic philosophy.

Pretty much this.
: At 5/13/2014 7:05:20 PM, Crescendo wrote:
: The difference is that the gay movement is currently pushing their will on Churches, as shown in the link to gay marriage in Denmark. Meanwhile, the Inquisition ended several centuries ago.
YYW
Posts: 36,392
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5/31/2013 7:30:16 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 5/31/2013 7:23:36 PM, drafterman wrote:
Sounds like a sex act from ancient Rome.

Primo Fellatio.
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bladerunner060
Posts: 7,126
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5/31/2013 7:41:32 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
I've often head-translated to "on its face" or "on the face of it" (Which is not a literal translation, but feels to me like it conveys the meaning)

To use your examples in reverse order (and to change structure a tad in the second due to usage)

Abortion is, on its face, morally wrong.

On the one hand, on the face of it it's clear that there should be "no semantics", because people should know what others are talking about when they use every day language. "
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