Debating has a long history with historical evidence of this practice dating back 4,000 year. Debating was used in ancient Egypt, China, and Greece. As such, people who participate in debates are contributing to a rich history.
In this post, we will take a look at several types of debates that are commonly used today. The types of debates we will cover are as follows.
A special debate is special because it has distinct rules for a specific occasion. Examples include the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858. These debates were so influential that there is a debate format today called the Lincoln-Douglas format. This format often focuses on moral issues and has a specific use of time for the debaters that is distinct.
Special debates are also commonly used for presidential debates. Since there is no set format, the debaters literally may debate over the rules of the actual debate. For example, the Bush vs Kerry debates of 2004 had some of the following rules agreed to by both parties prior to the debate.
- Height of the lectern
- type of stools used
- Nature of the audience
In this example above, sometimes the rules have nothing to do with the actual debate but the atmosphere/setting around it.
Judicial debates happen in courts judicial like settings. The goal is to prosecute or defend individuals for some sort of crime. For lawyers in training or even general students, moot court debates are used to hone debating skills and mock trial debates are also used.
The parliamentary debate purpose s to support or attack potential legislation. Despite its name, the parliamentary debate format is used in the United States at various levels of government. There is a particular famous variation of this called the Asian parliamentary debate style.
A non-formal debate lacks the rules of the other styles mentioned. In many ways, any form of disagreeing that does not have a structure for how to present one’s argument can fall under the category of non-formal. For example, children arguing with parents could be considered non-formal as well as classroom discussion on a controversial issue such as immigration.
This form of debate is probably the only one that everyone is familiar with and has participated in. However, it is probably the hardest to develop skills in due to the lack of structure.
The academic debate is used to develop the educational skills of the participants. Often the format deployed is taken from applied debates. For example, many academic debates use the Lincoln Douglas format. There are several major Debate organizations that promote debate competitions between school’s. The details of this will be expanded in a future post.
This post provided an overview of different styles of debating that are commonly employed. Understanding this can be important because how you present and defend a point of view depends on the rules of engagement.