Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Debating

One of the tricks of debating is to take what your opponent has said to its logical conclusion. To illustrate, suppose your opponent says that we have a problem in America today. The problem is that foreigners are selling us too many cheap imports and thus putting Americans (who can't compete with the cheap imports) out of business.

First, distill the essence of what your opponent is saying. It is this: Cheap imports = Bad.

Second, apply logic. If cheap imports = bad, then it must be the case that expensive imports = good. Ask your opponent, "Would it be better if we had to pay three times as much for the imports we buy from foreigners?"

This should give your opponent some pause. Everyone knows it is better to buy cheap than expensive. So what does your opponent say now?

Or you could say that if it is bad for us to buy cheap imports, it must (logically follow) that it would be horrible for us if foreigners simply gave us their products at zero price.

Again, here is the logic:

1. If cheap imports = bad, then
2. Free imports = worse, and
3. Expensive imports = good

Sometimes when we take our opponents' arguments to their logical conclusion we can show them how ridiculous their arguments are.







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