A flaw in debates

During my days as a debater, one common tactic i used in the first half of my career was what i call the “lack of an alternative solution”. Most debates revolve around one team proposing a solution to a problem and the other team saying that the solution doesn’t work. So as a member of the proposing team, i always tried my best to put a burden on the opposing team to come up with an alternative solution if they felt so strongly against mine.

I’m embarrassed to say that this tactic won me quite a few debates.

This is what i did — if Solution A doesn’t work, therefore Solution B must exist. Since you don’t agree with Solution A, you must tell me what Solution B is. 

Just in like real life, debates have the “Government” team and the “Opposition” team. The job of the Government team is to propose Solution A, and convince the judge and audience that it works, despite all the shortcomings the Opposition team will point out. The job of the Opposition is not to be the Government; if Solution A is wrong, then it still remains the job of the Government to come up with Solution B.

By arguing that the Opposition should propose an alternative, it already means i concede the point that Solution A might not work. And once i do that, then it effectively means i’ve lost the debate.

The job of the Government is the proposal of solutions, is the courage to admit they’re wrong when they’re wrong, and to think up of different solutions once old solutions have failed. While there is no harm in the Opposition proposing their own solutions (this is a credit to them), it is not their burden to carry. Did you notice i’ve stopped talking about debates?


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