Looking forward- Fall 2018

Hey ya’ll!

Hope you’re having a wonderful summer. The UM debate team is gearing up for another very exciting semester. We are looking forward to some amazing opportunities and powerful conversations and we are hoping you can join us! We’d like to invite students interested in debate to join us at practices and invite anyone and everyone to come to our two public debates we will be hosting throughout the semester.

Our original information meeting will be held in room 113 of the Trent Lott Institute on campus on August 22nd at 5:30.

Regular practice times will be in the same location at 2:00 on Sundays and 5:30 on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Students are encouraged to attend around their schedule.

The first public debate will be October 4th at 5:30 and the second will be October 24th at 3:30. Topics and locations will be announced as soon as they are determined.

Thank you for your support and engagement. We cannot wait to see what the semester has in store!

Be brilliant.

 

The Debate Team of the University of Mississippi

 

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Arguing vs. Argumentation

Debate often has a reputation of being facilitated and structural bickering.  Although this can be true at its worst, this perception is entirely inaccurate on the larger scale. Part of this misconception comes from the somewhat confusing grammar of debate.  In its most simplified form, debate is not about arguing but rather focusing on the making of arguments. You can see how this could be confusing. In debate, the term “argument” carries the same meaning as in logic or philosophy. It is not something you “have” but rather something you “make.”  Within these contexts, an argument is a series of original statements, or premises, that build on one another in order to, hopefully, derive an impactful conclusion.  In logic, this is known as a syllogism.  Making arguments in debate is not inherently about winning or even being persuasive. Instead, it aims at the discovery of meaning and significance through the connection of things we already know to be true.  Although debate also inherently includes the desire to be appealing and to compete well, these factors should not be allowed to distort debate’s core intent of the communication and evaluation of ideas, lest the activity itself grows toxic and devolves into fruitless bickering. Ironically, the debaters who generally can best access this “idea-building” process see the most success–  logic is persuasive.

Motivation for debating should transcend ambition or competitiveness.  The evaluation and construction of ideas is pointless without the recognition that truth exists and is worth discovering.  Truth is complex and sometimes seemingly at odds with what we already believe. Debate forces us to suspend our own beliefs and contend with ideas as they are. Using critical thinking, we evaluate a stance for all of its merits and failings. In the end, we hope to either reaffirm our beliefs or recognize the potential truth of alternative perspectives. If we lose the foundation of logical argumentation, we lose the search for truth within debate, and thereby its primary purpose.

By the same token, engaging with the other teams’ argumentation should be guided by principle and logic.  In order to dispute a conclusion, good debaters demonstrate why premises do not “build” the way that was asserted, introduce unintended consequences to the logic of the other teams’ arguments, or bring up alternative ideas and facts that directly challenge those of the other side of the issue.  Debate should not sink to the employment of buzzwords, jargon, over reductionism, or fallacies. It should not be nit-picky.  Instead, it should focus on the significant– on adding something to the conversation and elevating it.

Counterintuitively to what has been said thus far, there is an extra pressure within good debate to avoid unnecessary intellectualization.  British Parliamentary, the form of debate practiced by our team, attaches special significance to maintaining a “common man” style that recognizes the complexity of the issues we debate but still attempts a format and style that is accessible to all decently informed world citizens.  The goal is not to create a dialogue understandable only by subject experts and the topical “elite.”  Even so far as it is debate’s purpose to discover truth, it is its purpose to create a conversation around it that all can contribute to.  Rather than lecture, we aim to convey ideas in a way that makes them more approachable rather than less so.

Be Brilliant.

The Debate Team of the University of Mississippi

 

The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress.”  – Joseph Joubert

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General Information

Welcome to the current events matter loading blog of the University of Mississippi! Here we will be posting links to various articles on topics of particular relevance or significance as well as condensed summaries of issues written by the debaters themselves. We do NOT own any of the articles linked to the posts unless otherwise stated. If you want to stay in touch please follow us on our social media. Our Twitter handle is @UMissDebate and our Facebook is University of Mississippi Debate Team. If you want to get in touch, you can email us at umissdebate@gmail.com. If you wish to join us at a practice or public debate, look for a later post detailing the semester’s times and dates.

Be brilliant.

The Debate Team of the University of Mississippi.

 

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A Mandate of Education

In a recent conversation with a friend, I received a piece of insight that I will retain the rest of my life.  As part of a piece of academic research, I was interviewing him on a very contentious subject that I happen to have deeply held feelings about.  The exact topic is irrelevant– it was what he said about the nature of contentious and polarizing issues that was profound.   To paraphrase, he argued that we tend to approach issues surrounded by conflict in manner overly limited and simplistic, thereby rejecting positions dissimilar to our own out of hand rather than actually taking them at face value and employing informed critical thinking to discover and appreciate nuance we otherwise miss.  If an issue is controversial enough to muster polarization of opinion, there must be nuance and the potential for merit in a multidirectional sense.  To simply label perspectives contrary to our own as ridiculous without first taking the opportunity to educate ourselves on the topic in an empathetic and fair way does disservice to not only those with whom we disagree but also to ourselves and the issue itself.  If we do truly care about something, we are obliged to seek out the nuance and depth intrinsic to its being– otherwise, what we care about is only a fragmented shadow of the thing.

It is here, at the crossroads of conviction and acceptance of complexity, that we receive the mandate of education.  It is this ability to self educate and think critically that debate seeks to augment.  By framing this growth process in the context of competition and community, we grow in our ability to appreciate the inherently multifaceted nature of the world’s most impactful issues.  The purpose of this page is to serve that end: to embrace nuance and controversy with the end goal of developing intellectual humility, well-informed conviction, and a lifetime of growth.

Be Brilliant.

The debate Team of the University of Mississippi

 

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

— Nelson Mandela

 

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