Category Archive News

ByJonathan Kellogg

Why is WSDC the best debate format?

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: WSDC. Do you want to read more about how WSDC works? Click here.

I am Jonathan Kellogg, a past-DSDC debater. I am now studying at LUC (I am aware of the cliché). As a schoolie, I have participated in numerous WSDC format tournaments in both Dutch and English. I have also participated in numerous BP tournaments. I doubt whether there is an objectively “best” form of debate; it is largely a matter of personal preferences. But the WSDC format is one of the most underappreciated formats among students and deserves more attention than it is currently receiving.

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ByGigi Gil

Should we ban Artificial Intelligence in criminal proceedings?

This is the last part of our series on Artificial Intelligence in debating. Read part 1 and part 2 too!

In the previous two articles, you have read what is meant when we speak of artificial intelligence (AI). Mike has done the hard work. In this article, it is my honour to give an example of the application of this knowledge in debating, based on the following motion:

This House would ban the use of statistical risk assessments for determining penalties in criminal proceedings.

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BySrdjan Miletic

The strongest argument against vegetarianism

This post outlines an argument against vegetarianism. I originally used it in a workshop to show how arguments can be convincing without being one-sided or overly aggressive, a problem which I find many debaters arguments fall into. I repost it here in case anyone else is interested.

Vegetarians believe that eating meat is always wrong. As I see it, most modern vegetarians believe animals have some degree of rights and hence that eating animals, which involves killing them, is wrong. I absolutely agree that animals have a certain degree of rights but I still believe that eating meat is by no means immoral. I believe this because I believe that being killed is preferable to never being born. Not eating meat indeed does mean that animals are not killed but it also means they never live. This is because my individual decision to not eat meat means that there is less demand for meat which in turn means fewer animals are produced to satisfy that demand. This is a problem for vegetarianism as, if we assume that animals like humans would rather be alive than dead, then not eating meat means animals are worse off than eating it. Instead of living short lives before dying, they do not live at all. There are three potential responses to my argumentation which I would like to tackle. One response is that the conditions animals in factory farms suffer are indeed worse than death. I do not believe this is true but even if it is, it is entirely possible for meat eaters to restrict themselves to free-range meat which gives the animals it is taken from a reasonable quality of life. If this means eating meat less often, so be it. The second, better response is that morality if absolute, not relative. Even if eating meat is better for animals than not eating meat, that does not make it moral, just comparative less immoral. For example, torturing and raping someone is worse than just torturing them. That does not mean torture is moral, only that it is comparative less immoral. Hence, both eating meat and killing animals as well as not eating meat and causing the non-existence of potential animals are both immoral. The moral course of action would be to ensure animals exist and to not kill them, for example by donating money to animal sanctuaries The issue with this line of argumentation is that it presumes acceptance of not only a negative duty to not harm animals but a far stronger positive duty to ensure they live and live well. If you accept we have such a duty then vegetarianism can indeed stand up to my objection. But, the consequences of accepting we have such a positive duty are that we need to intervene wherever animals are suffering, even in nature at the hands of other animals, in order to prevent that suffering. Given that most people would not accept that we have a duty to intervene in nature in such a way, I doubt most people do believe that we have a positive duty of care towards animals and hence I believe that this specific defence of vegetarianism is not sufficient to persuade the average informed voter that they should be a vegetarian. The final response is that talking of the preferences of non-existing beings is ludicrous. For example, arguing that women should always be pregnant else they deny non-existent children their right to life is crazy. So is arguing that not eating meat denies non-existent animals the right to life. Our aim should be to avoid killing and if that means fewer animals so be it. The problem with this response is that even looking only at the preferences of currently living animals, insofar as we can assume animals have preferences, it is hard to imagine that any species of animals would prefer a world where their species did not exist or existed in far reduced numbers, to one where they did exist but some of their kind who would otherwise not have been born are killed by humans. Hence, even ignoring the preferences of non-existent animals my argument still holds.

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ByNoah van Dansik

Why is Eloquentia the best debate format?

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: Eloquentia. Do you want to read more about how Eloquentia works? Click here.

I am Noah, twenty years young and the president of ASDV Bonaparte. I am also a municipal councillor for GroenLinks and I study law at the University of Amsterdam.

At Bonaparte, we debate in both the AP and BP format but my absolute favourite is Eloquence (Eloquentia in Dutch, elo for short). Rhetoric and eloquence are central to this format. You don’t win with just good argumentation but you have to actually convince your audience.

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BySilke Zwart

Why is British Parliamentary the best debate format?

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: British Parliamentary (BP). Do you want to read more about how British Parliamentary works? Click here.

My name is Silke Zwart and I am currently studying political science at the Radboud University in Nijmegen. About a year and a half ago I discovered Utrecht Debating Society. This year I can also take on the role of vice-chair of the association! In these eighteen months, I have experienced a lot of fun debates on many different topics. I’ve debated whether Cookie Monster should be on a diet, whether we should sacrifice our partner at the European Championships to an Aztec God, and whether we support lean-in feminism. Although these debates sometimes took place in the American Parliamentary (AP) format, since my membership I have developed a fondness for British Parliamentary (BP) debates. In this article, I’ll explain why this is the case!

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ByMike Weltevrede

Artificial Intelligence in Debating (Part 2)

In the previous article, we discussed what artificial intelligence (AI) actually is. In short, AI is a method that uses input data to complete a certain task by imitating human thinking. In this article, I discuss applications of AI in the real world, such as deep fakes. Moreover, I will talk about black-box algorithms: why are they used and what are the developments around “explainable AI”?

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ByMike Weltevrede

Artificial Intelligence in Debating (Part 1)

One type of topic that is increasingly being set at many tournaments is artificial intelligence (AI). Due to AI being such a complex and novel topic (both in reality and in debating), lots of debaters don’t manage to go much beyond slippery slope arguments implying some type of malevolent impending doom and struggle to make nuanced arguments. Examples where AI is involved, include route-planning, Alexa/Siri, and spam filtering of your emails.

This article is meant to serve as the first of a two-part guide to debating AI, going through the basics of artificial intelligence, starting with machine learning (ML) and ending with deep learning (DL) this week. Next week, I will talk about examples of applications of AI, ML, and DL in the real world (and why they are used). Conclusively, Gigi Gil will put the knowledge to use in the context of debating by discussing a debate motion on artificial intelligence in the system of criminal law. Any additions or questions? Let me know what you think in the comments!

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ByJoeri Willems

Why is American Parliamentary the best debate format?

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: American Parliamentary (AP). Do you want to read more about how American Parliamentary works? Click here.

My name is Joeri Willems. I work as an employment consultant and debated at the Erasmus Debating Society. The American versus British Parliamentary (BP) discussion was a big topic when I started debating but a fight that AP unfortunately lost. To me, this discussion is kind of a false contradiction; kind of like a discussion between chocolate and pizza. Most prefer to live in a world where both pizza and chocolate exist. AP is the debate flavour that is unique and delicious and I wouldn’t want to miss it.

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ByMike Weltevrede

Board Day August 2020

On Saturday, August 15, the Nederlandse Debatbond once again organized the board day. This edition was a great success. With more than 20 participants, more than half of all board members were present and every association but one was represented. Due to the corona crisis, this edition of the board day was held online. On the board day, the new board members of the Dutch debating associations get to know each other and the Debatbond. There are also workshops specifically aimed at supporting the board members.

The day started with an opening speech by Tom Pouw, chairman of the Debatbond. After this, three workshops were given. The first was given by Jos Buijvoets (former general board member of the Debatbond and honorary member of the Tilburg Debating Society Cicero) and was about member recruitment and promotion. Jos explained, for example, how social media can be used to attract new and larger groups of members but he also talked about more traditional ways, such as lecture talks and the open houses.

After Jos’ workshop, a workshop was given by myself. I built on Jos’ workshop and talked about member retention and activation. Now that the board members know how to attract members through Jos’ workshop, I explained to them how to retain those members and how to make them more active. I did this by splitting members into different groups and explaining what each of them needs to stay with the association.

Finally, Tom Pouw gave a workshop on sponsoring and selling trainings. Unfortunately, many associations often do not think of sponsoring as one of the bigger points they will be working on even though it can be very useful. So Tom discussed this topic and emphasized that sponsorship is not free money: it is actually an exchange of services. To explain this clearly to boards, he went through a step-by-step plan that boards could start to take up sponsorship.

ByNederlandse Debatbond

The Netherlands wins the European Debating Championships!

After nine preliminary rounds and seven final rounds in total, two teams of the Leiden Debating Union have won the finals of the European Debating Championships! Katharina Margareta Jansen and Louis Honee did not only reach the finals for teams with English as a Second Language (ESL) but also the open finals. David Metz and Emma Lucas also reached the open finals; there were two Dutch teams in this final round!

In the end, Katharina and Louis have won the ESL finals and David and Emma are taking home the trophy for the open finals. This is an incredibly impressive achievement!

We have also kept a live blog with more information per day. Check that out here!

You can watch the ESL finals here
You can watch the open finals here