Elements of Debating eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 138 pages of information about Elements of Debating.

Its purpose is to indicate in the most definite form every step through which the hearers must be taken in order that the proposition may at last be fully accepted by their experience.

The brief is for the debater himself.  He does not show it to the audience.  It is the framework of his argument.  It is the path which, if carefully marked out, will lead to success.

Now, as we have seen, there are three principal steps in debating: 

1.  Making clear what you wish the audience to believe.

2.  Showing the audience why the establishing of certain issues should make them believe this.

3.  Proving these issues.

The first two of these steps constitute what in the brief is called the Introduction.

The third step, proving the issues, is the largest part of the brief and is called the Body or the Proof.

In addition to these two divisions of the brief there is a sort of formal summary at the end called the Conclusion.

The skeleton of a brief then would be as follows: 


In which:  (1) the desired end is made clear; (2) the issues are determined.


In which the issues are stated as declarations or assertions and definite reasons are given why each one should be believed.  These reasons are in turn supported by other reasons until the assertion is finally brought within the hearers’ experience.


In which the proof is summarized.

Of course no two briefs are identical, but all must follow this general plan.  Suppose we look at what might be called a model brief.


Statement of proposition.


  I. Definition of terms.

  II.  Restatement of question in light of these terms.

  III.  Determination of issues.

    1.  Statement of what both sides admit.

    2.  Statement of what is irrelevant.

  IV.  Statement of the issues.


  I. The first issue is true, for: 

    1.  This reason, which is true, for: 

      (1) This reason, for: 

        a) This reason.

        b) This reason.

2.  This reason, for: 

(1) This evidence.

(2) This authority.

(3) This testimony, for: 

a) See Vol.  X, p. —­, of report, document, magazine, or

II.  The second issue is true, for: 

1.  This reason, for: 
(1) This reason.

2.  This reason, for: 

(1) This reason.

      (2) This reason.

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Elements of Debating from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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