Debates are crucial to intellectual societies. They are how one confronts an opposing opinion, and must triumph over it. The only way a good idea can be propagated is by a good debater, one who understands that no one agrees on anything and that anything worth doing will have opposition that must be overcome. Philologos helps intellectuals hone their debate skills, and for those who already master argumentation, to help fellow Philologians gain their skills.
There are six debates held every year, and each debate is a different style. This helps Philologians experience different ways of arguing, as well as gain a cosmopolitan understanding for how debates are conducted across the world. Some styles are less reliant on hard evidence and more on reason and logic, and some styles require teamwork while others encourage division. Topics for the styles vary, and must relate to them. Topics are chosen at the meeting before the debate (a week in advance) by those who will participate in the debate. The PEC will provide a few suggested topics, but during the discussion phase any participating member can propose a topic. Each person has one vote to use per round, and the list is progressively decreased until there is only one left. If the final two topics are tied, then the PEC will choose between them.
Teams are created the week before a debate, and a team captain is appointed. The captain's responsibility is to ensure that any prior research being done by the team is fairly distributed, and that the order of who will speak has been defined prior to the debate.
Anyone can be in the audience, whether club members or not, but we really encourage everyone to participate in the debates, rather than just watch.
The August Debate is a way for new and returning Philologians alike to settle into the new academic year with a casual, informal debate. The topic is announced at the very beginning of the meeting, and because of this, evidence is expected to be based in reason, logic, and philosophy, rather than facts or research.
The Policy Debate mirrors the policy style of debating. A decision is proposed, and one team argues for it, and one against it. Those arguing for it prepare a way for the decision to be implemented (or can select a plan already proposed in reality), which is shown to the opposition before the debate. The opposition's objective is to show why the specific plan they have must not be adopted.
The Parliamentary Debate finishes off first semester with a debate that involves some of the middle and high schools we work with in our School Visit program. There are four teams, divided into two sides, with an "opening" team making arguments, and the second "closing" team expanding on that or introducing a new point. While one side wins the debate, 1st and 2nd place are divided between the two teams on the winning side, so while it is in the best interest of both teams to cooperate, they must outshine each other.
The L-D Debate, short for Lincoln-Douglas, is a debate style that specializes in the "big questions". The topic is a value judgement, with the specific value stated inside the topic. Example: "A moral government ought not to kill". One side agrees, one side disagrees. Most arguments should be based on logic and philosophy, with actual evidence being used minimally.
The Party Debate is our variation on the European Square style of debate, where four teams debate a multi-faceted topic. Depending on the topic, the teams may represent countries, political parties, interest groups, or schools of thought. While two teams can form a coalition, in the end only one team wins the debate.
The Paris Debate is the culminating debate of the year. Based on the Paris style popular in France, this form of debating is rather traditional and formal. What makes this debate so special is who is judging it. For this debate, Philologos invites professors and other experts in argumentation and speaking to determine the victorious team, whose members gain a certificate. At the end, they also provide useful tips for both sides to help them improve their debating skills.
POI: point of information. This is a 20-second interruption allowed in some debates, where the opposing side can ask a question or make a quick interjection into the speaking person's argument. A speaker can choose whether or not to accept their requests, however it is respectful to accept at least one each time someone speaks. A POI is not allowed to last longer than 20 seconds. If the person asking it continues to speak, then the time they use is taken out of the time given to their team's closing statement.
Yielding Time: time yielding is when a speaker gives up the remainder of their time after they have finished speaking. There are two main ways one can do this: yielding to another person who wishes to speak instead of you for the time remaining (perhaps they have a better argument), or if you are simply done with your argument and have nothing left to say, in which case the remaining time is given to the next person from your team to speak.
Parts of Debate:
Opening Statement: This is sort of like an introductory paragraph for the debates. It is a way for you or one of your teammates to introduce the very basics behind why your side is right and the opposition is wrong. This is not the general argument phase, you should not be using evidence or addressing a specific position.
Arguments: This is the pith of the debate, where you address specific points. It should go without saying that interrupting people, namecalling, or anything else offensive will get you removed from the debate. Arguments should be based on evidence, logic, or emotional appeals. When using statistics, you should know your sources, as the opposition could call you out on your data, and if you do not know it, then you look unprepared. Using incorrect evidence or blatantly lying will only hurt your team.
Closing Statement: This is the conclusion. Your team uses this period to summarize the main points your team raised in the argument phase. You should not be making new arguments, however you may include a counter-argument if you so wish. It is advisable to use great language here, as in the end this is what finishes off the debate, and ending with a powerful phrase is a great way to get your argument stuck in the heads of those listening to you.
The winners of a debate are not chosen by the audience. Instead, people who will be participating in the debate vote on which side of the topic they agree with, right before the debate begins. This is done because not everyone on a certain side will agree with it, they might be there because they want to help balance the debate. At the end of the debate, the vote is held again, to see who among the debaters were convinced by their opposition, or by their fellow teammates. The Paris Debate is exempt from this, as in this debate the victors are determined by judges. However, this voting process still occurs so that teams can know how many people were convinced, and judges are encouraged to take this into account.
Each debate is named after the month it occurs, and so we try to organize our semester schedule so that the debate occurs on the last meeting of each month, however sometimes it may have to occur during a different week.
Despite class occurring in November and April, we do not hold debates then. Students during these months are inundated with final projects and final exams; it is unfair to ask for them to have to sacrifice schoolwork for a debate, which requires some preparatory work.
While debates are planned to only last one hour, they sometimes do by anywhere between ten to thirty minutes. Since our meetings officially end at the hour mark, and some members have other duties that commence soon after our meeting ends. If you have to leave on the hour, then inform your team before the order of speaking is chosen so you get your time to speak.
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