Philosophy 103

Guidelines for Debaters

Note: At the close of the debate, Debaters must submit to me a summary of their debate points.

1.       To begin the debate, speakers should one by one, beginning with the “yes” side speakers introduce themselves, state the issue of the debate and state which side “Yes” or “No” he/se is debating on .

2.       The “yes” side speakers will go first.  Then the “no” side speakers will each present their case.

3.       Before starting to prepare for your debate, make sure you clearly understand the question and what exactly you will be arguing for.  If you have any doubt about what the question is or what it means, consult the lectures, a textbook on business ethics, or me.  Don’t look in a regular dictionary for the meanings of the words used to state the question.  Philosophers use ordinary words in less than ordinary ways.

4.       Presenting your side of the case consists in giving 2-3 examples that support your position and also requires making clear just what moral principles (such as the Principle of Utility, Rawl’s two principles of Justice, the Kantian principle of Respect for Persons, etc.)  your reasons are based on.     

For example, if you are arguing on the “yes” side that employers should give reasons for firing an employee, you might give the following as a reason.  People are not just tools that you can throw out when you no longer need them or when they aren’t functioning up to par.  People deserve respect.  So you should try to explain why they are being fired.  For example, in the case of firing a plumber, you might explain that the skill level required for the job is lacking on his part.  To support this, an employer might go on to cite several cases where the employee lacked the necessary skill level. 

By contrast, if you are arguing on the “No” side of this same issue, you might give as a reason why employers ought not to give reasons for firing the fact that an employee will often disagree with the employer’s reasons and such  disagreements take up time and do not always succeed in convincing the employee of the legitimacy of the employer’s reason for terminating the employee.  Then go on to give an example of this type of situation.

5.       In giving a reason it is crucial to bear in mind the following points:

a.       Even if you disagree with the idea that you are being asked to argue for, your goal is understanding that idea and properly representing the reasons a person who does agree with the idea has for agreeing with it. So don’t worry about being on the “wrong side” of the debate.  The debate topics are formulated  so that each side has sufficient amount of arguments to support it.  If you feel that the position you have to support is extremely weak, you definitely need to do more research and reread the class notes.

b.      Your grade in the debate is not based on beating the opposing side.  It is based entirely on how clear you represent your side of the debate and how well you can support the idea that you are arguing for.

c.       I can help you with reasons for whatever side that you are arguing for.

d.      If you do not connect your examples to a moral principle when you give your reasons, then the examples will not count towards your grade on the debate.

e.      Note finally, that the grading rubric for debaters has two components:  (1) how well team members coordinated their efforts and planned the debate; and (2) how well each member of a team presented and explained in his 2-3 examples how these examples support their side of the debate and how they relate to at least one moral principle.

6.        Each debater will be graded on whether he/she:

A: Gave one clear reason for his/her position

B: Spoke within time limit

C: Showed knowledge of topic , including how the reason relates to a moral principle)

D: Spoke so as to be heard

E: Cooperated on a division of labor