Category Archive News

ByTom Steenblok

Valentine’s Day: Romantic love should not be the primary consideration in a marriage

It is February, the coldest months of the year are almost over, and that’s how the most romantic day of the year arrives: Valentine’s Day! That is why in this article I will analyze a motion on that age-old subject: love. I will analyze the following motion:

TH prefers a world where romantic love is not the primary consideration in a marriage.

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ByJoris Graff

Should environmental activists support sabotage and destruction against major polluting companies?

This house believes that environmental activist organizations should start a campaign of sabotage and destruction against major polluting companies

Round 3 – Utrecht Online Open 2021

This motion was set in round three of Utrecht Online Open 2021 and was the most interesting debate I was allowed to judge this tournament. If a motion concerns the climate problem, then I am already interested. As far as I am concerned, the motion is also interesting because it offers the possibility for principled arguments (do environmentalists have a right, or even an obligation, to self-defense, even when it takes on violent forms?) and for the analysis of a large number of stakeholders (environmentalists themselves, large companies, the general public, the government). It is necessary for teams to go into detail about the motives of these different stakeholders and the way in which these motives are influenced by the motion. Below, I will briefly discuss some arguments for the proposition and opposition and the way in which these can be weighed against each other. Since in my debate hardly any attention was paid to principled arguments, I will omit them, which does not mean that these arguments cannot be effective.

One reason why I think that this motion is interesting is that perhaps the most intuitive argument for the proposition is also one of the least effective in my view. This argument is that large companies have a profit motive and when they have to spend more costs on security and repair for polluting activities, they are more likely to switch to sustainable production models. However, it is difficult to prove that these costs will be so high that they outweigh profound transformations in business operations. How realistic is it that radical environmentalists, who are likely to have relatively few resources, can deal such a significant blow to multinationals?

A more promising route for proponents is to focus on the implications of the thesis for political and public perceptions of environmentalism and issues. The team that was the second proposition in my debate did so most effectively on the basis of the (to me unknown) “radical flank theory”. This theory states that when a flank of an activist movement radicalizes, it has positive effects for the moderate majority of the movement. First, it makes it possible for moderate activists to present themselves as a reasonable alternative. Environmentalists are often seen as radical anyway, regardless of their actions. When they can point to a more radical flank, it helps improve their own image. Second, it leads to moderate activists becoming a more attractive collaborative partner for authorities. The government, naturally, wants to combat violence as much as possible and one of the ways to do this is to seek more cooperation with the moderate flank of the movement, thus removing the discontent that feeds radicalism and allowing the moderate movement to outstrip the radical activists. This makes it easier to obtain concessions from the government regarding ecological regulations.

The opposition, of course, tries to set up the opposite frame in which the perception of some of the environmentalists being seen as radical spills over to the entire movement, including the more moderate parts of it. When this is the case, negative consequences will, of course, follow. For example, the Opening Opposition in my debate tried to prove that this perception makes the government less inclined to cooperate with environmental movements, because they do not want to be open to the criticism of collaborating with radicals. The Closing Opposition tried to prove that individuals are less likely to make their consumption habits more ecologically sound, because they do not want to be associated with a movement that is seen as radical.

The crux of the clash over the social and political impacts of this motion thus boils down to how the general public will understand these actions and how this spills over to moderate activists. It is difficult for teams to win this clash because “the general public” is quite a diverse actor and different members are likely to react in different ways. That’s why nuance is important. Which parts of the public are most likely to be more positive or negative towards the environmental movement? Why are these parts of the public most important to ecological decision-making? Eventually, the Closing Government won the debate that I was judging because they provided two points of nuance that we felt were missing from the opposition (and the Opening Government): a) the way in which a group behaves has more influence on the majority of people’s perception of that group rather than the views of the group, meaning that moderate activists are likely to be judged more positively on their behavior than they are judged negatively on their ideological association with radicals and b) that people who tend to relate these actions to the entire environmental movement are in any case already likely to not think much of environmental activists and therefore the behavior of this group (and thus their influence on the government) probably changes little. The decision to let the Closing Government win, however, was not unanimous, indicating how much of a complicated discussion was required to win this central clash.

This motion is a good example of why it is important for teams to look beyond the obvious arguments (“Companies want to make money!” and “People don’t like violence!”) and delve deeper into the question of how motives of different (sub)groups play through in their behavior. As often happens in debates, this motion is not won by introducing the most intuitive points but by best linking the points to a convincing analysis of the psychology of the different stakeholders. This motion has strengthened my belief that much of debating is actually applied psychology.

ByJoris Graff

[Utrecht Online Open 2021] The highest echelon of online debate tournaments

Although the Utrecht Debating Society has long been one of the reliable pillars of the Dutch debating world, the association had never organized an international tournament. Until 2018, the English-language UCU Opens, which were organized by the independent University College Utrecht, took place but after this small association collapsed, a gaping void in the middle of the Netherlands emerged on the international debate map. Until January 2021, because the association seized the transition to online debating to organize the first Utrecht Online Open, without being dependent on the excessive rates that Utrecht University demands for accommodation. Thus, on Saturday, January 16, debaters from the American West Coast to India gathered in a shared cyberspace to experience the organizational science of the Dom city.

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ByLinsey Keur

The best books of 2020

Like many debaters, during the last year I turned to books to provide me some escapism and entertainment. Helped by the extra free time at home and the decreased number of mandatory readings for university, I managed to read a wide variety of books. Below, I will review three very different books that I each enjoyed in their own way. Of course, it was very difficult to pick only three books to highlight here, since there are so many great books. So if you ever want to chat about books, feel free to reach out to me! Or if you want more book recommendations, you can follow @linseyreads on Instagram.

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ByRoel Becker

[Nijmegen Open 2020] Getting more and more used to online debating

Source cover image:

On December 19, 2020, the first Nijmegen Online Open took place. It was great to see the lovely Trivium organize another competition, especially because the society has certainly seen its ups and downs over the last years. On top of that, it was a special competition for me personally: Nijmegen is where I grew up, started debating, and the place where I CAd my first (and now probably last) competition.

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ByRoel Becker

Arguments: People should receive their entire pension upon retirement

The following motion was the topic of the second-round debate of the Nijmegen Open 2020.

Infoslide: A lump-sum pension payment is when workers receive their whole pension at the start of their retirement. A staggered pension payment is when they are paid their pension monthly.

Motion: THW allow workers to make a choice between a lump sum pension payment and a staggered pension payment.

Round 2 – Nijmegen Open 2020

This motion review is partly based on the discussions and testing that was performed within the CA team of the Nijmegen Open: Fabian Beitsma, Gigi Gil, Hadar Goldberg, Lucy McManus, Parth Pandya, Marta Vasić & Roel Becker. I thank all co-CA’s for their hard work. Obviously, only I am responsible for any mistakes.

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ByRyoji Yoshisada

Arguments: Should we allow Income Share Agreements?

At the Amsterdam Open 2020, the following motion was discussed:

Infoslide: For the purposes of this debate, income share agreements are contracts where a person can agree to receive money from investors, in exchange for the investors making decisions over their career choices and reaping some of their income.

Motion: This House would allow people to sign income share agreements (ISA).

Amsterdam Open 2020 – Round 3

When we see this motion, there are two conclusions we need to think about.

  1. Is allowing ISAs beneficial or harmful?
  2. Is allowing ISAs legitimate or not?

This motion is a really good example to dig into both of the questions.

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ByMike Weltevrede

Holiday socials in corona times

Source cover image: TIME

The end of the year is near. A time when people (should) get together and celebrate the holidays. Despite the fact that it looks quite different this year, we will of course not let everything that is going on ruin the fun. In this article, we give tips on how to celebrate the holidays within your debating society. We discuss special debate motions, Christmas dinners, and, of course, gifts. In short: plenty of fun things to do within the corona measures!

Do you have any nice ideas for motions or activities? Then leave it in the comments at the bottom of this article!

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ByDaan Spackler and Rob Honig

This is how Lagerhuis+ improves high school debating

Source cover image: DebatUnie

There are many debate formats in the Netherlands. In this new series, debaters tell you why they think a certain debate format is the best. This time: Lagerhuis+, especially for high school debating. Do you want to read more about how Lagerhuis+works? Click here (Dutch).

In the discussions about the best debate format, the largest group of debaters is sometimes forgotten: high school students. In Dutch classes, a “debate” is held at hundreds of schools in the final years as a school exam. You’ve probably experienced it like that yourself. Until recently, teachers of Dutch opted for the classic American parliamentary structure; usually with 2 versus 2 speakers. In recent years, more and more people have switched to the “Lagerhuis+” form of debate (a variant of the “World Schools Format”), also in debating clubs.

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ByFabian Beitsma

Debating Parenting

Bron cover image: Eckerd Connects

I am Fabian, 23, and almost graduated in clinical psychology. I started debating in the fourth grade of high school, and it immediately fascinated me. Debating involves a combination of a competitive element, plus the development of many skills such as analytical and critical thinking, processing speed and abstract thinking. Debating has brought me a lot more besides these intellectual skills: part-time work as a debate trainer for politicians, making many friends and acquaintances and an accepting environment for LGBT+ people and identity formation.

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