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10 December 2005

Preparing for Worlds 3 (First Principles)

Preparing for Worlds Post 3: Debating on First Principles

This comes from the same handout I took the "debating on first principles" post from. I used it for a quick prep with some worlds teams a couple of years ago but now I am not sure where I pulled all the info from. I'm sure I didn't write most of it but I don't know where it came from. Probably a mailing list somewhere. Apologies to the person who did write it for not crediting them. UPDATE: After some comments and e-mails I think the bulk of this came from Dan Neidle's guide from the British Debate mailing list. Dan was a Worlds finalist so he knows what he is talking about.

Arguing on first Principles
Don’t be overwhelmed by the number of issues, organisations, nations and topics there are to prepare for. As Kim Little (World Champion, Australasian Champion, Australasian Best Speaker 2000) says, there are only really half a dozen debates - they just have different actors. The issues stay the same.

For example Napster, Hate Speech and Porn are separate debates with their own distinctive matter requirements (which you could be an expert on) but the issue is still the role of government regulation and the merits of censorship. Learn the theory and then all you need is a little specific jargon to add credibility and you’re all set.

Don't be daunted and frightened by a motion on a specific topic you know little or nothing about. EVERY debate will have an underlining principle at its heart and the rest is packaging. Look at the general principles expressed in the original motion. What is the basic argument here

When the motion is announced at Worlds ask yourself don't panic: What is this debate really about. You will have debated the subject many times before. Just step back and don't get lost in the initial detail.

Ask yourself some questions during the debate:
What is this Debate really about
What is usually required to win this debate
What can we add to the debate that hasn’t already been said?
Are our arguments convincing? Are our examples good & getting to the heart of the issue or simply taking up time.

Examples of motions and some basic arguments are:

This house supports domestic content quotas in broadcasting
This house would bail out failing industries.
Basic Principle: Role of the government regulation & spending public money

This house believes that making Yassar Arrafat a partner in peace was a mistake
Basic Principle: Democracy and Negotiating with terrorists.

This house believes that the west should treat state sponsored sexism as apartheid
Basic Principle: Western culture versus other cultures. “Western Imperialism”

This house believes that civil liberties must be restricted in the interests of security
This house would force feed anorexics
Basic Principle: Rights of the individual versus responsibility of state/society

This house believes that the sexual history of rape victims should be admissible in court
Basic Principle: Rights of the individual versus responsibility of state/society and balancing rights between individuals.

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