Video Lecture - Roles of Speakers - the Leader of Opposition

Question and Answers - the Leader of Opposition

1. You said the first thing I have to do is respond to the definition and I should disagree with some things and agree with other things. Can you give me an example?

- Firstly, you don't ALWAYS have to disagree with the definition. If the PM defines the debate clearly and the problem is exactly as you think it should be, then you can just agree with everything. It's ALWAYS important to find something you can agree on.

- As for an example, here's one

a) The motion is "We should abolish the death penalty". The PM defines the debate as applying to every country in the world (this is the scope of the debate) and defines the death penalty as capital punishment for serious crimes, such as murder. In opposition, you can accept the general definition and scope of the debate, but you can focus it a little. You can say you are going to defend that some countries should have the death penalty if they think it helps them (not that ALL countries should have the death penalty, which is directly opposite of the PM's scope of the debate). Furthermore, you are only going to defend the death penalty for murder (since in the world today some countries will execute people for many other reasons). So you agree that generally the debate should be about the death penalty, but you don't want to argue that all countries should have it and not for many different types of crimes, but just murder. This is a fair debate, both teams have a fair burden of proof. Now if instead you say that you only want to defend the death penalty in ONE country (South Korea) and for one very specific type of crime (serial killers) - the debate can still happen but it has become much more narrow and might not be as interesting (when the debate is narrow, you will also have less arguments - find out more about this strategy here).

2. In Opposition, what concessions are okay to make and what are not okay?

- You shouldn't concede too many main principles or your main burdens. If you do that, you will seem like you are avoiding responsibility. If in opposition I am supposed to defend the death penalty, then I need to do so in a way that is broad enough to create debate. You can concede one or two principles, especially if you think they are hard to defend and that most people agree with them. For example

a) The motion is "We should abolish the death penalty" and the PM says they are going to prove that every human being has basic human rights, which includes the right to life. Also he will show the death penalty does not reduce crime, is cruel and costs too much. As LO, you can concede that every human being has basic human rights, but BUT that does not include the right to life. You can concede it does not reduce crime by deterring people BUT it is a form of punishment that people deserve. The BUTs are important because they ensure you have things to defend in opposition. If you completely concede the first two points, then you are only defending costs, and that creates a debate that is too narrow.

3. What are some strategies for rebuttals?

- Glad you asked! Briefly, you can disagree with the logic of the argument, challenge the argument by providing an example of the reverse situation in reality, concede the argument wholly or partially. More information here.

4. I don't understand how my arguments can be a rebuttal. Can you explain it again please?

- Of course I can explain it again, anything for you! Sometimes what you planned to argue (when you and your teammates built the case in your preparation time) is a natural response to the PM's argument. In that situation, you can just point to the point she made and say you will address that when you develop your arguments. And when you develop your argument, remind the judge/audience that you are rebutting the PM's argument. For example, 

a) The motion is "We should abolish the death penalty" and the PM has 2 arguments; the Right to Life is Paramount and the Death Penalty doesn't Deter Crime. Now let's assume when you were planning your speech, you decided you were going to argue 2 arguments in support of the death penalty; The Death Penalty can Discourage Criminals and that Punishments must Suit the Crime. Now your first argument (Death Penalty can Discourage Criminals) directly opposes the PM's second argument (Death Penalty doesn't Deter Crime), so when you get the point when you should rebut the PM's arguments, you can say you will rebut his second argument when you make your first argument. To make it clear to the judge/audience, you should state the labels/names of the PM's argument and of your argument.