Types of Debate Proposition

In debating, the proposition is the main issue or the central topic of the debate. In general, there are three types of propositions. The three types of propositions are propositions of

  • Fact
  • Value
  • Policy

Understanding the differences in these three types of propositions is important in developing a strategy for a debate.

Proposition of Fact

A debate that is defined as a proposition of fact is a debate that is focused on whether something is true or not. For example, a debate may address the following proposition of facet.

Resloved: human activity is contributing to global warming

The affirmative side would argue that humans are contributing to global warming while the negative side would argue that humans are not contributing to global warming. The main concern is the truthfulness of the proposition. There is no focus on ethics of the proposition as this is when we come to a proposition of value.

Proposition of Value

A proposition of value looks at your beliefs about what is right or wrong and or good and bad. This type of proposition is focused on ethics and or aesthetics. An example of a proposition of value would be the following..

Resolved: That television is a waste of time

This type of proposition  is trying to judge the acceptability of something and or make an ethical claim.

Value propositions can also have these other more nuances characteristics. Instead, affirming the good or bad of a proposition, a proposition of value can also make a case of one idea being better than another such as…

Resloved: That exercise is a better use of time than watching television

Now the debate is focus not on good vs bad but rather on better vs worst. It is s slightly different way of looking at the argument. Another variation on proposition of value is when the affirmative argues to reject a value such as in the following.

Resolved: That encouraging the watching of television is harmful to young people

The wording is slightly different from previous examples but the primary goal of the affirmative is to argue why television watching should not be valued or at least valued less.

One final variation of the proposition of value is the quasi-policy proposition of value. A quasi-policy value proposition is used to express a value judgement about a policy. An example would be

Resolved: That mandatory vaccinations would be beneficial to school age children

Here the affirmative is not only judging vaccinations but simultaneously the potential policy of making vaccinations mandatory.

Proposition of Policy

Propositions of policy call for change. This type of proposition in pushing strongly against the status quo. Below is an example.

Resolved: That the cafeteria should adopt a vegetarian diet

The example above is using for clear change. However, notice how there is no judgement on the current state affairs. In others words, there is not judgement that the non-vegetarian diet is good or bad or that a vegetarian diet is good or bad. This is noe reason why this is not a proposition of value.

In the case of a proposition of policy, the affirmative supports the change while the negative supports the status quo.

Conclusion

Debate propositions shape the entire direction and preparation for the debate itself. Therefore, it is important for debaters to understand what type of proposition they are dealing with. In addition, for teachers who are creating debates, they need to know exactly what they want the students to do in a debt when they create propositions.

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