Last summer a large discussion was held on Facebook, Twitter and SevenTwenty on the motion of the ESL final of Euros: This House Believes that God exists. More than just a debate about whether this was a good motion to set at an Euros final, the discussion revolved around a far more intriguing question: is the activity we call parliamentary debating suited to tackle metaphysical questions such as the existence of God, or should we limit ourselves to discussing questions about the political process? Former Euros and Worlds ESL-finalist Daniel Schut believed at the time that we should not debate metaphysics. In the following notes he will expand on his reasoning, and give us a very thorough explanation about whether “This House would, or would not debate metaphysics”. For the first entries in this series, please follow this link.
Note beforehand: in re-reading this part, I suddenly realize this article is becoming quite jargon-heavy. I’m pretty sure I’m using terms here that debaters in different regions and with different academic backgrounds either have never used, use vaguely and intuitively, or use differently. Because some of the vocabulary could be contentious, too, I’m thinking I should introduce some of the glossary as discussion articles as well. What do you think?
Previously, we saw that in a dialectical situation, the discussants, through discussing, unearthed a ‘common ground’. Does competitive debating also have such a concept? The next couple of articles look into this.
Suppose there were no judges. Could debaters themselves uncover a common ground? Probably not, because they explicitly want to win their side of the case, and thus aren’t willing to concede any premisse that benefits the other side. In the dialectical situation, the discussants have no such goal: their aim is to ‘critically resolve the issue’, which means they want to find criteria upon which the case can be decided.