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The Debater's Guide, Fourth Edition

Jon M. Ericson, James J. Murphy, and Raymond Bud Zeuschner

Publication Year: 2011

Tens of thousands of readers have studied and applied this practical guide to instruction in argumentation and communication since it was first published in 1961. In this fourth edition-the Fiftieth Anniversary Edition-authors Jon M. Ericson, James J. Murphy, and Raymond Bud Zeuschner have made significant revisions to improve the depth, flow, and clarity of this popular debater's handbook.

With straightforward explanations and specific applications geared toward contemporary debate practice, this compact volume offers students and teachers clear-cut assistance in resolving the key problem faced by debaters: the need to present arguments forcefully and cogently while reacting effectively to criticism. Beginning with a candid explanation of the basic principles of debate, The Debater's Guide then introduces the steps to building a case, from reviewing strategies for refutation and defense to engaging in cross-examination, solid research, and critical thinking. It advises readers on a wide range of important topics, from budgeting time in a debate to speaking in outline form by using a well-organized series of explanations, specific examples, and graphic presentations related to both policy and value issues. The authors apply these concepts to a variety of formats and situations commonly found in high school and collegiate debating.

Avoiding jargon and complex theory discussions, The Debater's Guide offers sound advice on presenting an effective case in oral discourse, helps students build their understanding of how and why debate functions, and provides a solid foundation for success in any format. The expanded contents pages and new subheadings allow for quick reference to any particular aspect of debate, making this new edition an excellent choice for classroom use as well as a valuable hands-on tool during debates.

Published by: Southern Illinois University Press

Book Title

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Copyright Page

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xiii

This fourth edition, the Fiftieth Anniversary Edition of The Debater’s Guide, is an enhanced version of the straightforward advice offered to tens of thousands of readers who have studied and applied its principles since it was first published in 1961. In addition to expanding the glossary, we have added an index to help locate...

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1. The Value of Debate

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pp. 1-5

Those privileged to live in a free society may easily lose sight of the fact that most of the world’s people do not enjoy freedom of speech. The opportunity to debate issues of importance should be viewed as one of the special privileges of a democratic society, and to argue knowledgably and effectively should be viewed as a basic responsibility for each citizen....

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2. Understanding the Process

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pp. 6-19

Almost every topic for school debate is a “proposition of value” or a “proposition of policy.” That is, it is a statement asserting the value or worth of something or asserting that some course of action should be followed—some new policy should be adopted. For instance, here are some school debate topics of past years:...

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3. Underlying Concepts for Case Building

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pp. 20-28

More than 2,000 years ago, Aristotle identified the debater’s fundamental requirement: “There are only two parts to a speech: You make a statement and you prove it.” In modern debating, the two teams make a statement, in effect, when they agree to uphold either the affirmative or the negative side. The whole debating structure...

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4. Research and Reasoning

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pp. 29-44

Research is the process of finding information and material to support ideas or arguments, and it is most effective when conducted as the result of a carefully focused approach. Research is both a first step and a continuing process for the debate speaker. It is the first step in preparation because sound analysis of issues and arguments is possible only when the speaker has acquired a thorough background...

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5. Constructing Affirmative and Negative Cases

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pp. 45-66

In the previous chapter, we talked about the importance of doing quality research so that you would have quality information from which you create your affirmative and negative positions. It is now time to turn your attention to constructing your cases. A case, you recall, is the assembled issues, arguments, and evidence organized in support of or in opposition to the proposition. In a sense, you...

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6. Speakers’ Responsibilities in Presenting the Debate

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pp. 67-78

We mentioned earlier that wise speakers budget their speaking time with great care. There is good reason to be careful, namely that there is much to be done in a short amount of time. But when debaters actually come to the platform to address the audience, they must also realize that each of the eight speeches and four cross-examinations in a typical debate is made under somewhat different circumstances....

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7. Refutation and Defense

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pp. 79-93

Refutation is the effort to demonstrate the error or inadequacy of the opponents’ case. It is the key element in debate and makes the whole process exciting by relating ideas and arguments from one team to those of the other. It is challenging because it is more spontaneous than reading prepared speeches. Refutation is based on research, constructive development, and anticipation of potential attacks. It...

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8. Cross-Examination

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pp. 94-104

Before presenting specific guidelines for doing cross-examination, we will define and describe cross-examination as it is used in the academic debate setting.
Cross-examination may be defined as the purposeful asking and answering of questions about the issues in the debate during an established time format. An effective cross-examination will consist...

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9. Effective Presentation

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pp. 105-117

The essential idea to remember about debate style and debate delivery is a simple one: debate, as the art of formal oral controversy, is a type of public speaking. Although The Debater’s Guide cannot pretend to replace a course in public speaking, it might be useful to call attention to some fundamental principles that are common to debate and to other types of public speaking as well....

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Epilogue: The Ideal Debate Speaker

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pp. 118-120

Good debaters are speakers who can secure public acceptance of the ideas they propose, even though they are confronted by the organized opposition of others. Success under these difficult circumstances calls for a high degree of debate efficiency. As a final reminder, then, of the skills needed by the ideal debater, we offer you these seven talents to cultivate: ...


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pp. 121-126


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p. 127-127

Author Bios

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p. 128-128

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780809386352
Print-ISBN-13: 9780809330348

Publication Year: 2011