Philosophical Multicore

Sometimes controversial, sometimes fallacious, sometimes thought-provoking, and always fun.

Are Teenagers Capable of Intelligent Debate?

Posted by Michael Dickens on April 24, 2009

I love debate.org.

There was a debate with the resolution Young people between the ages of 13 and 17 are able to make an argument that can be used in a debate. The PRO side actually instantly wins, since it is stupendously easy to make an argument that can be used in a debate. So I will assume that this resolution really means “…are able to make an argument that can be effectively used…”.

Ok to tell the truth I am 13 too, and I agree we can be good at debating. But in this case i’ll play as the devil’s advocate.

I don’t think that younger people can be good debaters, they have barely lived a few years and only base their arguments on book or obtained knowledge, not natural intelligence or experience. 13-17 year olds haven’t lived life enough to actually know what is right or what is wrong. Even though if they have won a few debates that doesn’t mean that they are the best at debating.

That is a bad argument for the CON side, which means CON wins. (Not really, since the resolution is not that all teenagers are capable of intelligent debate, only that some are.)

No, but really. That’s a bad argument. The PRO side doesn’t do a very good job of rebutting it (the PRO was 13 at the time, so also provides evidence to support CON), so I will.
1. Arguments based on obtained knowledge are close to as good as those based on experience.
2. Right and wrong are not based primarily on experience; they are based on evolutionary logic, if you’ll allow me to coin that phrase.
3. Even if morals were based on experience, many adults lack experience as well. The PRO side cites abortion as an example, but uses it to prove a different point. I will use it to prove this point: men have no experience with having abortions, but they are still fully qualified to argue about whether abortion is moral. Why? Because they have experience with people. Abortion is really about fetuses, and whether they deserve the rights that fully-fledged people have. Teenagers also have experience with people, though not as much. However, not a lot is necessary.

In conclusion, I win. (You were expecting a beautiful and inspirational closing sentence, weren’t you?)

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