WAYS OF REBUTTING AN ARGUMENT
* there is more than 1 way to rebut an argument. Try to think outside the square a little- an argument
can be not simply "wrong", but might be rebutted in a number of ways.
1. The argument is factually wrong- the strongest factual rebuttals are factual rebuttals beacuse arguments
that are shown to be based on falsehoods and factual errors are basically dead. However, be careful
to only correct relevant factual errors! if a speaker makes a slip of the tongue and says "coal" instead
of "oil" , then thus may not really undermine
his argument very much! Minor errors with dates, times, people's names etc. may be corrected by the
other team- but this may not in itself help you prove your case.
However, if a team uses an example, statistic or other evidence that you know is wrong, and is the foundation
for an argumnet, then you should point this out. You don't need to show the newspaper clipping that is the source of your
fact-adjudicators will trust you if what you say sounds reasonable. The adjudicator will take the viewpoint of the average
reasonable person- hence he won't use any of his specialist knowledge of a subject but he will know blatant lies when he hears
2. The argument involves unacceptable consequences and implications
- This type of rebuttal can be very effective, because it doesn't necessarily require you to dhow that
the other side is totally wrong. It requires you to take another step in your analysis and show that whilst the point
made by your opposition is superficially correct- the consequences of their argument are worse than any benefit that they
claimed would follow.
- Sometimes these arguments are characterized as "slippery-slope" or "it-will-open-the-floodgates" arguments
-that is to say allowing one thung to happen will inevitable lead to more (and usually much worse) things being allowed to
happen. They can be a useful tactic-but be wary of going too far and claiming that your opponent's proposal will lead to the
destruction of society as we know it!
3. The argument is correct, but should be accorded little weight- In this instance, you don't need to
prove that an argument is wrong- you can concede certain idea or premise but argue that the idea is of little weight. Be careful
when doping this- you don't want to concede anything too important to your opponent's case.
An exampleof a type of argument that can be conceded is when a team argues that a particular proposal
would cost too uch. In response, you could concede that there may indeed be some cost, but for the benefits of the proposal
the expense will be worth it. It may be also possible at times to concede the underlying premise of an argument. But to argue
that a different conclusion to be drawn. In a debate topic "that Private Schools should not receive Government funding", the
negative team might want to concede that the statuis of the education system is not adequate, but to argue that the affirmative's
proposal will not solve the problem.
4. The argument is illogical-the conclusions don't follow from the premises
- A good argument will be one which is clearly explained so that it makes sense- the conclusion that
is drawn must flow from the premise. Look out for "leaps of logic" in your opponents arguments-have all the links been drawn
5. The argument is irrelevant to the proof of the stance
- An argument is irrelevant if doesn't directly support your stance. For example, In the debate about
implementing capital punishment, The argument that crimes such as murder and rape are the most monstrius human acts is irrelevant.
All it proves is that perpetrators of these crimes should receive the heaviest available punishment. but it doesn't justify
making death penalty the heaviest available punishment.
1. Before rebutting an argument of your opponent, you should first assess whether it was explained completely
and was supported with evidence. if not, then the argument is merely an assertion. You should point this out! It doesnt't necessarily
make what they said wrong- it just undermines their credibility. However, a word of caution: exposing an argument's lack
of explanation or evidence is not enough to rebut it. real rebuttal contests an argumen's validity rather than its completeness.
You could say something like, "even if the opposition didn't substantiate this point, I'll address it.
Also, listen very carefully and make sure you are right when you claim that an argument is based upon
assertions- if you have missed a crucial portion of a speech then you might be wrong!
2. Be very carefull not to misrepresent the arguments of the opposing team. Debaters tend to misrepresent
arguments ny reducing them to their most simplistic form and ignoring all the accompanying explanations. many debaters resort
to this because it makes the job of rebutting an argument easier. this my dear paduan, is tantamount cheating!
For example: The affirmative proposes that the US and the EU recognize the legitimacy of the junta in
Burma and argues that the opening trade and diplomatic ties with Burma is the best way influencing the junta to go slow on
its human rights violations. The negative then rebuts the argument by saying that what the affirmative wants is to legitimize
the human rights violations of these Burmese junta and is therefore, morally unacceptable. In this example, the negative just
misrepresented the affirmative argument! The afirmative wanted to improve relations with the Burmese junta not because they
didn't care abut human rights. Rather, the objective they had in mind is to improve the human rights situation there. Therefore,
iy's plainly wrong to say they want to legitimize brutality in Burma.