The History and Mathematics of Codes and Code Breaking

Tag: jury

Debate Judging Criteria

In the debate tomorrow, I will be judging the strength of each team's arguments based on several criteria.

First and foremost is the clarity of arguments. Teams will be judged primarily on not only the merit of their arguments but whether they can express their viewpoints clearly. Even if a presented argument is powerful, if the idea is not expressed clearly then it will not be considered a strong argument. In addition, conciseness will be considered, as a strong argument should be succinct as well.

Supporting evidence will also be a significant part of the judging criteria. Without sufficient evidence to support a claim, it will be not help support the overall argument the team makes. In fact, an argument without sufficient evidence could likely hurt a team's position, as the other team would most likely capitalize on a weak argument to strengthen their own. However, presenting too much evidence for a claim also is not desirable, because a succinct argument is stronger than an argument supported by a laundry list of evidence.

Lastly, the manner in which teams respond to counterarguments will likely determine how strong their arguments are. Coming up with counterarguments against a claim is relatively easy, but defending a claim against counterarguments is harder and really shows how well a team knows their argument by showing that they considered potential arguments the other side could make. Having strong refutations to counterarguments would considerably improve the strength of an argument.

Criteria for Debate

The first criteria I am planning to use to evaluate the two teams is clarity of argument. This refers to whether the presenter can clearly convey the main points they are trying to make in an orderly manner. I am looking to see if I can isolate some a sort of thesis statement in each of their arguments. I will then be evaluating the strength of the evidence for the argument. I will see if the presenter has relevant examples to support their thesis, whether it be empirical or anecdotal evidence. There are many examples we studied in this course which can benefit the position of both teams and it will be interesting to see if any teams make connections to the coursework.

I will also be evaluating whether each team is able to find weaknesses in the other team’s arguments and consequently, present counterarguments. Each team should be able to defend against any counterarguments. To be able to refute the opposing side’s arguments, each team needs to listen. They need to listen to what the other side is saying and digest the information instead of just listing off the arguments they have. There is a difference between a debate and a speech. A debate is a conversation.

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