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The Future of Formal Debate

November 28, 2021 at 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm EST

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In her debut salon, former college debater and generally argumentative person Alice Fine will lead a discussion on formal debate, including high school and college debate, political debates, and debates among public intellectuals (such as the Munk Debates).

“[Debate teams set] the goal of persuasion above the goal of truth. The debater’s strength lies not in intellectual curiosity nor in amenability to rational persuasion by others, but in his skill at defending a preconception come what may.” –W. V. O. Quine

In this salon, we’ll discuss the practice of formal debate, as well as its effects on debaters, audiences of debate, and discourse norms in general.

We’ll consider questions like:

  • What are the assumptions implicit in formal debate?
  • Why do we find debate compelling to watch?
  • What different forms of debate can we imagine?
  • What kinds of people get involved in debate, and who is turned off by or excluded from it? Why?
  • What are our personal goals when debating, whether formally or informally?
  • How can we learn to debate in a way that better achieves those goals?

Check out before the salon:

“Why debating still matters”

The Argument Culture, chapter 1

Clip from Chomsky and Foucault’s 1971 debate

What is British Parliamentary style debate?



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November 28, 2021
1:00 pm - 4:00 pm EST
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Alice Fine