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Burden Of Proof Fallacy

WAM
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6/24/2015 1:27:04 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
Now, everybody on here seems to know what the "Burden of Proof" (BOP) is. To define this more, I'd assume we are talking about the philosophical burden of proof, not the legal one. However, constantly 'debaters' are defining who has the burden of proof.

Now to the issue.
When I used to do debate at school and had a very good record, in fact, always when I debate I assume that every party holds a burden of proof. I will consider both the statement, the counter statement as well as any arguments of any side invalid if there has been no proof. Also keep in mind that for any debate Pro and Con are taking the opinion of the counter statement, thus meaning that they could have made the opposite statement.

As an example: Gay Marriage is Wrong. Pro, who made this statement says the BOP is on Con. Cons statement would be 'Gay Marriage is Right'. Now, Pro has not provided proof, neither has Con. They would both have to provide proof as to their statement, otherwise this would mean that one statement is immediately considered correct and one isn't. And that is not what debate is about. Debate is about convincing an 'uninformed' audience of one sides opinion. As to that, how does sided BOP make any sense?

Any ideas?
Fly
Posts: 2,045
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6/24/2015 8:57:09 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/24/2015 1:27:04 AM, WAM wrote:
Now, everybody on here seems to know what the "Burden of Proof" (BOP) is. To define this more, I'd assume we are talking about the philosophical burden of proof, not the legal one. However, constantly 'debaters' are defining who has the burden of proof.

Now to the issue.
When I used to do debate at school and had a very good record, in fact, always when I debate I assume that every party holds a burden of proof. I will consider both the statement, the counter statement as well as any arguments of any side invalid if there has been no proof. Also keep in mind that for any debate Pro and Con are taking the opinion of the counter statement, thus meaning that they could have made the opposite statement.

As an example: Gay Marriage is Wrong. Pro, who made this statement says the BOP is on Con. Cons statement would be 'Gay Marriage is Right'. Now, Pro has not provided proof, neither has Con. They would both have to provide proof as to their statement, otherwise this would mean that one statement is immediately considered correct and one isn't. And that is not what debate is about. Debate is about convincing an 'uninformed' audience of one sides opinion. As to that, how does sided BOP make any sense?

Any ideas?

In your gay marriage example, I would say that you are incorrect that a failure to uphold the BOP of one position means the other position is correct. That would be a false dichotomy fallacy. There is often a third position or more on things, and it is often "We don't really know."

So, if one position is making a truth claim, and the other is not, then that is where a one sided BOP would make sense. In such a debate, one would attempt to convince the audience that he is upholding the BOP, and the other would need to convince the audience how his opponent is not upholding the BOP.
"You don't have a right to be a jerk."
--Religion Forum's hypocrite extraordinaire serving up lulz
WAM
Posts: 139
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6/24/2015 9:09:26 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/24/2015 8:57:09 AM, Fly wrote:
In your gay marriage example, I would say that you are incorrect that a failure to uphold the BOP of one position means the other position is correct. That would be a false dichotomy fallacy. There is often a third position or more on things, and it is often "We don't really know."

I did not try to put it to the term that they are 'correct' so to speak, but that debate-wise they are correct. Thus in the debate setting, not the real world.

So, if one position is making a truth claim, and the other is not, then that is where a one sided BOP would make sense. In such a debate, one would attempt to convince the audience that he is upholding the BOP, and the other would need to convince the audience how his opponent is not upholding the BOP.

But even in such a debate, there needs to be evidence, and as such proof from both sides. If I start a debate, 'The earth is round' and am pro, con automatically is for 'the earth is not round'. If I provide evidence as to my claim but con does not, I technically win. Theoretically as such, if you want to win the debate you need to provide proof of 'your' statement and thus have a technical 'BOP'
Fly
Posts: 2,045
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6/24/2015 9:24:40 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/24/2015 9:09:26 AM, WAM wrote:
At 6/24/2015 8:57:09 AM, Fly wrote:
In your gay marriage example, I would say that you are incorrect that a failure to uphold the BOP of one position means the other position is correct. That would be a false dichotomy fallacy. There is often a third position or more on things, and it is often "We don't really know."

I did not try to put it to the term that they are 'correct' so to speak, but that debate-wise they are correct. Thus in the debate setting, not the real world.

So, if one position is making a truth claim, and the other is not, then that is where a one sided BOP would make sense. In such a debate, one would attempt to convince the audience that he is upholding the BOP, and the other would need to convince the audience how his opponent is not upholding the BOP.

But even in such a debate, there needs to be evidence, and as such proof from both sides. If I start a debate, 'The earth is round' and am pro, con automatically is for 'the earth is not round'. If I provide evidence as to my claim but con does not, I technically win. Theoretically as such, if you want to win the debate you need to provide proof of 'your' statement and thus have a technical 'BOP'

If you have a truly dichotomous set of positions, then one side's failure to uphold their BOP is indeed a victory by default for the other side. The catch is that most positions are not a true dichotomy, as I already pointed out. Hence the common accusation of one's opponent setting up a false dichotomy.

The example you give is actually a false dichotomy. There is a third position: "We don't really know if the earth is round or not." Therefor, both sides in your example have a BOP. Hopefully this explains your conundrum.
"You don't have a right to be a jerk."
--Religion Forum's hypocrite extraordinaire serving up lulz
WAM
Posts: 139
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6/24/2015 9:46:17 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
I agree with what you have said, however, in a proper Debate setting this is incorrect.

If I make a statement and say "The Earth is Round" and you state that "We don't know whether the Earth is Round or not " I should technically win. Stating that we 'don't know' means that it very much could be possible. Even if it is not probable, it is still possible. However, if you state that 'we don't know, but it is most likely egg shaped' and argue towards that statement and provide evidence, you could, depending on your evidence, win the debate. But saying 'we don't know' is not a resolution nor an argument.

Lets make an example.. If I say 'God exists' and you state 'we don't know', you might be correct, have not brought forward an argument to prove or disprove god's existence though.

Even in a truth claim I would assume that both parties would have a 'burden' of proof to provide (counter) claims.

A one sided BOP can only exist when there is a topic that is true beyond any point. And that is not possible.
Welfare-Worker
Posts: 1,176
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6/24/2015 10:44:57 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
Some posters make great efforts for the appearance that they have made no claims, so have no responsibility for any substantiation of anything, except that the other person must substantiate their claims, to the satisfaction of the 'no claims' poster.

Informal debates within threads deviate much further from formal debate guidelines than a reasonable person should expect.
This is one example.

If two sides are in a debate, two sides have a burden of proof, about the topic, and any questionable claims made within the discussion.
philochristos
Posts: 2,614
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6/24/2015 3:11:42 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/24/2015 1:27:04 AM, WAM wrote:

As to that, how does sided BOP make any sense?

Any ideas?

It's just a convention of this web page. The person who has the burden of proof is the person who has to make a positive case for their position.

If Pro has the burden of proof, but not Con, then Pro has to prove the resolution, but Con does not have to disprove the resolution. Con only has to refute Pro's arguments.

If Pro and Con share the burden of proof, then Pro has to prove the resolution, and Con has to prove the resolution is false (i.e. prove the negation of the resolution).

It's necessary to stipulate the burden of proof because if you don't, the voters won't know how to vote. If they assume Con has the burden of proof when Con does not have the burden of proof, then they will improperly vote against Con for not proving the negation of the resolution, but only refuting Pro's arguments. You can't judge a debate properly if you don't know who has what burden of proof. I ALWAYS stipulate the burden of proof in the debates I set up just to avoid confusion, and I always discuss it when I answer a challenge just to inform the voters so there's no confusion.
"Not to know of what things one should demand demonstration, and of what one should not, argues want of education." ~Aristotle

"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." ~Aristotle
Outplayz
Posts: 1,271
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6/24/2015 3:27:11 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/24/2015 1:27:04 AM, WAM wrote:
Now, everybody on here seems to know what the "Burden of Proof" (BOP) is. To define this more, I'd assume we are talking about the philosophical burden of proof, not the legal one. However, constantly 'debaters' are defining who has the burden of proof.

Now to the issue.
When I used to do debate at school and had a very good record, in fact, always when I debate I assume that every party holds a burden of proof. I will consider both the statement, the counter statement as well as any arguments of any side invalid if there has been no proof. Also keep in mind that for any debate Pro and Con are taking the opinion of the counter statement, thus meaning that they could have made the opposite statement.

As an example: Gay Marriage is Wrong. Pro, who made this statement says the BOP is on Con. Cons statement would be 'Gay Marriage is Right'. Now, Pro has not provided proof, neither has Con. They would both have to provide proof as to their statement, otherwise this would mean that one statement is immediately considered correct and one isn't. And that is not what debate is about. Debate is about convincing an 'uninformed' audience of one sides opinion. As to that, how does sided BOP make any sense?

Any ideas?

Well as i understand it in philosophy the opposite side gives evidence to their claim. BOP is on both sides. However, it can be more or less for some sides. Like in spirituality. If someone says unicorns exist, pro, they would have to present their evidence. It doesn't mean, however, con has to search every corner of earth to state his/her evidence. All con has to do is refute all of the evidence pro provides. So, technically the BOP in this matter would be more on Pro, and Con's job would be to refute those claims. I guess it just matters what you are debating.
WAM
Posts: 139
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6/24/2015 11:22:46 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/24/2015 3:11:42 PM, philochristos wrote:
At 6/24/2015 1:27:04 AM, WAM wrote:

As to that, how does sided BOP make any sense?

Any ideas?

It's just a convention of this web page. The person who has the burden of proof is the person who has to make a positive case for their position.

If Pro has the burden of proof, but not Con, then Pro has to prove the resolution, but Con does not have to disprove the resolution. Con only has to refute Pro's arguments.

If Pro and Con share the burden of proof, then Pro has to prove the resolution, and Con has to prove the resolution is false (i.e. prove the negation of the resolution).


Burden of proof is normally, but does not have to be on Pro. In arranged debate, you normally do an opening statement, which could be considered a BOP and both sides have to do it. In fact, during the opening statement you cannot do rebuttals.

And this is the Issue I have with this. People pushing the BOP around, although both sides have it. Someone who makes a statement has to provide prove as to it, just like someone against it has to provide proof to disproof it.

I can understand that this is often not practical on DDO, especially with non-experienced debaters who will just debate any stupid topic that does not make any sense. It seems to me however, that in more or less professional debates on here there is a shared BOP, while in the 'noob' ones it gets pushed around.

I know that this is not a good example as such but I will refer to one of my debates, in every of which I have taken a burden of proof against the opposition (I have not yet made my own debate) though many times they did not uphold their BOP. Now, I could have just said 'You have BOP' and not wrote anything, but this would not help the debate. As an example this debate, for which the topic was "Can certain types of music be blamed for violent behavior?" (http://www.debate.org...). Though Con did not provide any proof, I, Pro disproved the statement (at least I would say so)

And here is what the issue is with a one sided BOP. I will take you, philochristos as an example and hope you do not take offence. I will use one of your recent debates, "is there a jesus christ" as an example. In this debate you have referred Pro to their BOP and won quite easily (http://www.debate.org...). However, the only thing you did was disprove Pro's arguments. You did not provide proof that Jesus Christ 'is not there'. You could have quite easily disproved this (I like to take these things very lingual and logical) and Pro's arguments as well, as seen.

And this is the issue I have with a one sided BOP. It leaves the debate topic undebated and unchallenged. Only arguments get refuted. And as such, the actual topic does not get debated.

And I hope that everybody agrees that the reason for debate is the topic, and not the arguments by one individual.
philochristos
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6/24/2015 11:59:52 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/24/2015 11:22:46 PM, WAM wrote:
At 6/24/2015 3:11:42 PM, philochristos wrote:
At 6/24/2015 1:27:04 AM, WAM wrote:

As to that, how does sided BOP make any sense?

Any ideas?

It's just a convention of this web page. The person who has the burden of proof is the person who has to make a positive case for their position.

If Pro has the burden of proof, but not Con, then Pro has to prove the resolution, but Con does not have to disprove the resolution. Con only has to refute Pro's arguments.

If Pro and Con share the burden of proof, then Pro has to prove the resolution, and Con has to prove the resolution is false (i.e. prove the negation of the resolution).


Burden of proof is normally, but does not have to be on Pro. In arranged debate, you normally do an opening statement, which could be considered a BOP and both sides have to do it. In fact, during the opening statement you cannot do rebuttals.

And this is the Issue I have with this. People pushing the BOP around, although both sides have it. Someone who makes a statement has to provide prove as to it, just like someone against it has to provide proof to disproof it.

I can understand that this is often not practical on DDO, especially with non-experienced debaters who will just debate any stupid topic that does not make any sense. It seems to me however, that in more or less professional debates on here there is a shared BOP, while in the 'noob' ones it gets pushed around.

I know that this is not a good example as such but I will refer to one of my debates, in every of which I have taken a burden of proof against the opposition (I have not yet made my own debate) though many times they did not uphold their BOP. Now, I could have just said 'You have BOP' and not wrote anything, but this would not help the debate. As an example this debate, for which the topic was "Can certain types of music be blamed for violent behavior?" (http://www.debate.org...). Though Con did not provide any proof, I, Pro disproved the statement (at least I would say so)

And here is what the issue is with a one sided BOP. I will take you, philochristos as an example and hope you do not take offence. I will use one of your recent debates, "is there a jesus christ" as an example. In this debate you have referred Pro to their BOP and won quite easily (http://www.debate.org...). However, the only thing you did was disprove Pro's arguments. You did not provide proof that Jesus Christ 'is not there'. You could have quite easily disproved this (I like to take these things very lingual and logical) and Pro's arguments as well, as seen.

And this is the issue I have with a one sided BOP. It leaves the debate topic undebated and unchallenged. Only arguments get refuted. And as such, the actual topic does not get debated.

And I hope that everybody agrees that the reason for debate is the topic, and not the arguments by one individual.

I'm not offended at all by your example. I think you're totally entitled to your preferences about burden of proof. As far as my preference goes, I like the convention we have here at DDO. I like being able to choose whether one wants to assume the full burden of proof or have a shared burden of proof. On some of the debates I've initiated, I assumed the full burden of proof because I just wanted to subject my arguments to scrutiny. I wanted to see how they stood up. In other debates where Pro had the burden of proof, and I was Con, I would take it upon myself to assume a shared burden of proof, not because I had to, but because i wanted to.

I think there's an advantage to doing debates where only one side has the burden of proof. If both sides have the burden of proof, then there are really two debates going on at once. One debate is over whether the resolution is true. There are arguments for it, and refutations of those arguments. The other debate is over whether the resolution is false. There are arguments showing it's false, and refutations of those arguments. And the structure of a debate like that is problematic. Consider this structure:

Pro gives an opening defending the resolution.
Con gives an opening opposing the resolution.

Pro rebuts Con's opening.
Con rebuts Pro's opening.

Notice with this format that Pro's rebuttal comes immediately after Con's opening. A person reading the debate will be able to see Pro's rebuttal while Con's opening is still fresh on their minds. But Con's rebuttal comes three posts down from Pro's opening. By the time one read's Con's rebuttal, they have a much better chance of having forgotten a lot of what Pro's said. So Con's rebuttal will not have the same punch as Pro's rebuttal.

So basically, prefer the way we do things here at DDO. I think the safest thing for people to do so there's no issues and no hurt feelings is to simply stipulate the burden of proof when they set up a debate. That way nobody has any room to complain about who has what burden of proof. If you don't like the way the debate is set up, you don't have to accept it.
"Not to know of what things one should demand demonstration, and of what one should not, argues want of education." ~Aristotle

"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." ~Aristotle
Welfare-Worker
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6/25/2015 5:45:43 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/24/2015 3:11:42 PM, philochristos wrote:
At 6/24/2015 1:27:04 AM, WAM wrote:

As to that, how does sided BOP make any sense?

Any ideas?

It's just a convention of this web page. The person who has the burden of proof is the person who has to make a positive case for their position.

I have been on some other boards over the years. More than a few.
This is a convention of Atheists, from my experiences.
Certainly not unique to this forum, although not all Atheists on all forums do this.

All claims should be substantiated, as all claims are positive.

"There are no good football players in the Americas.", is a claim that would need substantiation.
There is no significance difference to the claim than "All of the good football players are in Europe."
There is no reasonable positive claim that cannot be expressed as a negative, or reasonable negative that cannot be expressed as a positive.

Yes, that is a challenge, if you choose.