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Is a purely logical debate possible?

Is it possible to have a debate with absolutely no emotion and using only logic? I cant imagine it being possible because even if you craft a perfectly logical argument and remove your own emotion your listeners will still receive and analyze it in light of their own emotions. As a subquestion what emotions do you think predominate debate? I would say anger and fear. Would it be possible to change that? I'm thinking of this especially in light of persuasive debate, when you want someone to do something for you.

  • Sep 5 2013: I think a better question is: Is a purely logical debate desirable?
    That would be difficult to say no to, if it were possible. Since it's not, I think the effort to remove emotion from debate is undesirable. We have all been taught that our emotions and our preferences are bad reasons to think a certain way, so more often than not we reason and rationalize a logical front for our emotions, so that our words sound logical when the real foundation for the point we're making is how we feel. This kind of false argument is unhelpful, in my opinion. I feel like arguments can be more calm, productive, and informative when we accept our emotions and incorporate them into our arguments. When we bare our souls, so to speak, our logic can accompany our emotions instead of serving as a front for them.
    • Sep 6 2013: I liked your comments. If i may ask.....Do you think debate Constrains or Expands a persons ability to Perceive and Understand Truth (whether or not that truth is in alignment with his own opinion)?
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        Sep 6 2013: Depends on how much the person knows him/herself? How open minded a person is to different perceptions/perspectives? Intent? Does a person simply want to "win" the debate? Or does s/he genuinely want to hear and/or consider other ideas? I think/feel the person decides whether or not s/he will be constrained or expanded.....yes? no? maybe? I'm waiting for David to respond too:>)
        • Sep 6 2013: I agree with you Colleen. Debate should (and usually does) expand our knowledge. It is definitely possible to have a debate and learn nothing, though. This is usually due to our own willful blindness. What do you think, Scott?
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      Sep 6 2013: I like and agree with your comment too David. As multi sensory, multi dimensional human beings, it seems that it would not be possible to totally remove all emotions from a debate.

      It has been mentioned already on this thread that what feels logical to one person, may not feel logical to another person. So, as you say...what we feel about something is the foundation of a debate and we can reason and rationalize a logical front for our emotions.

      I also believe that arguments can be more calm, productive and clear when we recognize and accept our emotions and incorporate them into the debate. To "Know thyself" and know where our thoughts, feelings, ideas, beliefs and opinions are coming from in our "self" is an important piece when/if our intent is to keep anger and fear out of the debate.
  • Sep 15 2013: I don’t think there’s a such thing as a purely logical debate.
    Every debate is based on intellectual conflicts, which provoke (even the slightest) anger.
    All people who take their stands on an argument want to appeal to the listeners to make them agree with them. And especially, when the opponents rub their noses in it, they can’t help feeling embarrassed and want to restore their calm and clever position(even the calmest person in the room feels such a thing as emotion. ) In an effort to do that, they try to think of something that sounds cleverer, which is partly inspired by their emotion.
    It’s almost impossible to entirely exclude one’s emotion from the process of arguing.
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      Sep 15 2013: I'm totally agree with you Elizabeth. However, I'm still wondering whether such peaceful and joyful debates really exist and can be adapted to our daily life.
      • Sep 15 2013: True. In particular, some people tend to justify their being too emotional on debate. They just wouldn’t listen to who objects to their opinions.

        We should always aim for ideal debates nonetheless :)
        Thank you
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    Sep 12 2013: *My picture of the constructive debate:*

    In a constructive debate every person, first of all, fairly strives to understand his opponent. To understand what aspects of his worldview made him to think so. To understand the language that the opponent is using (his circle of concepts). To understand the true interests of the opponent.

    Depending on the answers on these questions, not always the debate is possible.

    But if possible, then the goal of constructive debate is to minimize the mistakes of own subjectivism. To do so, every person should ask himself, where is my opponent right and where I am not right (two important different questions). Everybody should correct his own view himself.

    If person is not able to participate in constructive debate because of current mindset. Then you have to accept this as a fact of objective reality. And then probably the best what you can do for him and for peace in the world, is to ask one simple but powerful question that will influence the thinking of the opponent in a positive way. But no persuasions, only one Socratic question.

    If debate is not possible because of speaking different languages. Then it is better to accept this earlier than later. And if the debate really has value for both, then both have to learn enough the language of their opponent to meet on some middleground and continue the debate. Here with middleground I mean such circle of concepts that will be enough clear to both parties. Here with "enough" I mean enough for constructive debate as it is being felt subjectively by both.

    * * *

    So, in my view, what we all could constructively do in context of the question set by Sam Blaine, is to discuss on "what is constructive debate" and then develop behavioral stereotypes for our civilization and then spread it using various media like: own behavior, essays and speeches, books and movies, and other media of the cultural code depending on our potential.
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    Sep 12 2013: First of all, need to define the goal of debate. And here we have the problem, cos there are usually two sides participating in the debates. Therefore to be fair, you have to analyze different combination of possible goals of both parties.

    You say: "I'm thinking of this especially in light of persuasive debate".

    So, does it mean that you want to persuade somebody in something? And what is your goal then?
    1) Just to persuade without questioning whether you are right at all?
    2) Or, to understand fairly the interests of another party, then fairly figure out for yourself if your proposal truly fits his interests, and *if so* then show how "what you are proposing" fits the interests of your friend? Otherwise to change your own mind: not mind of your friend.
    3) Your variant?

    So, basically, are you ready yourself to change your mind during a debate? Are you ready to doubt the fundamentals of your position that you feel is true? Or your goal is to win? To win for what goal? For goal of domination?

    The problem lies in the nonconstructive culture of having debate. There is no behavioral stereotypes spread in the society, which could be used for a constructive dialogue instead of nonconstructive debate. I think that true democracy starts from a dialogue. So far we are far away from it. And if you want to approach this, then we have to rethink our culture and start spreading new behavioral stereotypes: influence Hollywood directors and school pedagogues. The problem is that rare people think about future today. And the problem we face is just not resolvable in the current generation. Cultural engineering is not a matter of one generation. And if the Hollywood and like that has such big power, why this power is not accountable to the people like the legislative, executive and judicial ones?

    *Abstract algorithmic of debates:*
    Nonconstructive: The person asks himself where my opponent is not right?
    Constructive: The person asks himself where my opponent is right and I am not?
  • Sep 11 2013: I don't think so. If you're having a debate in which both parties only express the logical and rational side of a topic, then it would be pretty one sided, and not much of a debate, more of a discussion.

    Say you wanted to debate the topic of global warming-whether it's real or not. Most of the facts will point in one direction, leaving the other side to rely on opinions and the power of persuasion.
  • Sep 6 2013: Q: Why would two people choose to DEBATE instead of ENQUIRE into any particular matter?
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    Sep 24 2013: It is a tricky question :) . Because human biology won't let it happen... You have hormones in your body, this is human nature. Maybe you work on something scientific, and want to express only the logical bases of the reaults, you won't be able to do it. Because your initial aim is proving your argument and you want to show it to people. If not, why are you doing this debate :). So, your subconscious will have an intention to presuade the audience. So, every debate will include emotions. But, I have another question, why do you want to exclude emotions? They are the mile stones of persuasion in a debate, because people especially look for reliability. I'm not telling you to convince people for something that is not reliable, but if you really believe it and feel it, just let it go.. And if you are wrong, than you can accept it with courage and without arrogance.
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    Sep 24 2013: Human being being emotional it pops up every now and then in logic as well. More over people constructs logic from their own perspective which is also biased with emotion so it's seems very difficult to have pure logical debate. In such case seems only robots can do logical debate.
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    Sep 24 2013: Ambrose Bierce

    “Logic, n. The art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding. The basic of logic is the syllogism, consisting of a major and a minor premise and a conclusion - thus:

    Major Premise: Sixty men can do a piece of work sixty times as quickly as one man.
    Minor Premise: One man can dig a post-hole in sixty seconds; Therefore-
    Conclusion: Sixty men can dig a post-hole in one second.

    This may be called syllogism arithmetical, in which, by combining logic and mathematics, we obtain a double certainty and are twice blessed.”
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    Sep 22 2013: Yes, logical debate is possible. However, a purely logical debate would come down to: Which information each side trusts, and what kind of logical processing capabilities each side has. If they trust the same information and follow the same logical rules, they should agree in the end.
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    Sep 19 2013: We have to stop being human before this 'purely logical' debate would be possible. Because the entirety of human beings and humanity can not be simplified by logic.
  • Sep 12 2013: Who's logic, yours or mine?
    Let's start here:
    "Uncertainty is a uncomfortable position. But certainty is an absurd one."- Voltaire
  • Sep 12 2013: It is possible, all you have to do is remove your own ego from the equation.

    Further there is no such thing as persuasive debate, as if you have an agenda, it therefore explicitly implies your ego will be effected by not getting the outcome you seek. A true debate is where neither party has any predetermination to a specific outcome and only arrive at a goal via reason and understanding.

    Unfortunately for humanities sake, we have a long way to go to achieve that goal of removing ego from the equation. Until then I'd suggest that at least we try to remain cordial.
  • Sep 6 2013: The purely logical debate is possible only among computers. The very moment two people start to debate , that is the proof that their emotions have instigated them to start a debate. Other wise why would two people debate if there would be no emotions , both will be happy without debate.The emotion which instigates the two people to start the debate is EGO and from ego springs out many variants of emotions.Logic is often used to justify the emotions.
    • Sep 12 2013: Unfortunately you cant see the benefit of this type of discussion, viz "Other wise why would two people debate if there would be no emotions".

      I present that maybe the people in Syria, deserve a debate like this, before the US unilaterally bombs these peoples. After all once those bombs kill, and that is their sole purpose, there is no going back.
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    Sep 5 2013: We are not logical creatures. What seems logical to me seems like nonsense to others, and vice-versa.

    • Sep 6 2013: I like your phrasing...
      what is logical to one
      is illogical to others
      what is obvious to one
      is not obvious to others

      where is truth to be found?
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        . .

        • +1
        Sep 6 2013: Deep the heart part of the mind.....
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        Sep 6 2013: Hi Scott.
        I am a Christian, that became logical to me after I was obliged to check it out. Prior to this I just dismissed it on reputation (false as it turned out).
        We can look at things logically, but we have to be pretty surgical in removing our prejudice in whatever subject we are studying. Then we can stick to known facts, although our conclusions will normally be an opinion based on these facts. It is all too easy to take the route of trusting 'experts'; that usually means accepting their prejudice. What we really need are the facts that have led them to their conclusion.
        So we can have what appears to be a logical debate, but usually only with others with the same prejudice.
        Having said that; the Truth is out there. Just tackle the candidates logically, without prejudice, and the Truth should be obvious.

        • Sep 6 2013: I enjoyed your remarks. You've made some good points. Your comments on truth reminded me of something I read a while back. Something like.....

          "We swim in Truth like fish swim in water. It need not be sought for we're In It. Seek only those things Within that veil Our View of Truth. Those things that limit Perceptions. Truth cannot be found. It must uncovered from Within"

          Have a great weekend!
        • Sep 6 2013: To claim that Christianity is a logical outcome of consideration of the relevant facts is to offer the mother of all non sequitur debates and posit it as founded on logic, in which case, we may conclude that your use of the word logic is (with all due respect) deeply flawed. A religion that relies on evidence of attributed revelation to historical unwitnessed characters we never met, and know nothing of, is so far from logic as to be ludicrous. I offer you a prophet ostensibly spoken to by his donkey, a man who lived in a big fish, 3 men who survived in a furnace, a man who remained unharmed in a den of wild lions, a city whose walls fell down at the blast of trumpets, a spinning chariot, a temporarily receding sea, the appearance of angels at odd times, a virgin birth and much else that defies any known logic except the most extremely irrational misunderstanding of the word. I wouldn't know where logic can be used to verify Noah's gathering of billions of fertile pairs of globally distributed animals and plants, let alone how his vessel might have held, fed and preserved them, leave alone perfectly replace them into flood-destroyed environments to thrive. Whatever arguments you may offer - and I've heard them all - logic bares no relation to religion whatsoever, and, nothing personal, but merely asserting it does based on your personally constructed redefinition of what we mean by logic doesn't cut it. If you mean it became obvious or convincing or appealing to you as a theory of existence; granted, it may have, (any faithful Muslim or Hindu might argue likewise), but where is the logic we are considering in any of that? Logic isn't whatever you want it to be; it is the branch of philosophy concerned with inference. You are not referring to logic, but to argument, or intuition or somesuch.
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        Sep 7 2013: @Trevor
        Certainly got you animated anyway. One man's logic is another man's foolishness, that's how it is.

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        Sep 7 2013: I agree Scott. Truth is all around us, we get blinded to it by our own perceptions.

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        Sep 12 2013: What is the truth? The truth is that your name is Scott Bell.

        There is no absolute abstract Truth. The truth is always very concrete and specific to concrete situations.

        If somebody has some opinion about some phenomenon --> this is a truth about his opinion.
        If somebody has another opinion about the same phenomenon --> this is a truth about his opinion.

        But how somebody can recognize which of two opinions is true? The practice is the criteria. The truth is measured by the ability to forecast the behavior of the phenomenon for achievement of some goals.

        And actually it is better to use word "effective". And to not use word "true". If one estimates somebody's opinion or decision, it is better to say "this is effective or not effective for such and such goals". Same solution can have different effectiveness for different goals. There are no true solutions, but effective or not effective.

        There is no abstract truth. Truth is always very concrete and relates to our true goals.

        What is the true goals?
        The true goals are not what the person says to other or to himself. The true goals are the estimation of what person really does with his real actions. The same actions can be estimated with different goals. This estimation is always subjective. This estimation is not true or not true. The estimation is effective or not effective. Can you effectively estimate your own true goals?

        Quite different questions is what is the right goals? The matter is that the effectiveness of all goals is measured against other goals of higher order. Thus we come to the question: is there right goals? I mean the goals of some highest order, against which we estimate effectiveness of all other goals, decisions and actions. Also could be called the concept of my life

        But answer on this question completely relates to concrete worldview of each particular person. This is why I believe that it is impossible to have a constructive debate without effective understanding of somebody's worldview
  • Oct 3 2013: Logic is merely the set of variables you use to analyze a certain subject or object. The term logic is not indicative of truth or facts.

    Your logic is subjective just like emotions. Many times your logic is based, at least in part, on your emotions. You cannot have a debate without logic.

    A purely logical debate is preferred. If you aren't using logic you may be arguing based on random thoughts or ideas. Logic ensures that you are checking your thoughts for validity based on a set of predefined variables.
  • Oct 3 2013: A logical debate could be considered an exchange of facts and their strengths. With that being said you would HAVE to limit what is said and how you respond. Setting up to have a logical debate would have parameters and guidelines. Once those are changed you are now in a different type of debate - to persuade or to defend. You would assume that any debate has a base of logic unless you are looking to debate on something that has a possibility - another dimension, etc. I would prefer to see a debate with a sense of emotion and or passion. The outcome might be determined on the intensity of your presentation.
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    Oct 3 2013: Possible, yes but highly improbable. Because once again perception and emotion are formidable foes.
  • Oct 3 2013: Humans are emotional creatures.
    Who debates? Humans.
  • Oct 3 2013: On of example of logical debate when we are debating for getting rid of unknown by defending our positions. Other will spot the flaws which we have yet perceived or at our blind angle. In this imperfect information scenaro, both will learn and improve and expand their knowledge. I think US presidential debate is close to perfect logical debate as both different view of future and their own best offer sutions. Just try to look beyond the drama and action. At the end of game, US citizen gain better fact and making better decision. Cheers
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    Oct 2 2013: Unless you feel some emotion towards the subject of the debate, you wouldn't even bother to participate.
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    Oct 2 2013: Yes Sam Blaine, Its possible if debate is between 2 Robots who are rich by Artificial Intelligence :D LOL

    Jokes Apart !
    NO! ITS NOT POSSIBLE,, According to Wikipedia, the Debate is contention in argument; dispute, controversy..... Well, we can see all the reasons those are responsible for the birth of a debate, actually are offspring of emotional quarrel. Dispute happens when one's emotion make him/her to support something and other's not. Even an argument is not possible if one not get hurt emotionally by other one..... :)
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    Sep 30 2013: Are you asserting it is not possible to be logical at the same time as experiencing emotions?

    isn't it possible to feel emotions but still make a logical argument?
  • Sep 29 2013: We can make logical statements. A debate implies conflicting ideas. It is important to make or interpret logical statements without emotion. People form logical statements with conviction. When a contrary set of logical statements is presented we naturally fight our convictions. To accept new logic is to throw away an old set. It would be unnatural to do this without emotion. The real question is - why is it important to remove emotion?

    The foundation of an idea should be boundless. Otherwise we aren't being creative.
    • Oct 3 2013: Very true - it would be hard to present a set of ideas without emotion - but to exchange ideas and logic - in order to help that idea move forward - can be considered a logical debate. I would venture to say that a "think tank" starts as presenting facts n a debatable form.
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    Sep 27 2013: Human beings are incapable of forming thought without emotion or bias. In what synaptic void might an idea arise that is not in some way affected by previous experience and perception? And into what compartment of the brain could an idea, or any input to the senses, be received and stored without feeling? Logic is a construct or framework that is used, it seems to me, just as often to justify a position as it is to arrive at one.

    The primal, adrenalin-pumping emotions once gave us an evolutionary advantage, but they are counterproductive in resolving conflict or solving issues today. Knowing that we cannot fully eliminate unhealthy emotions, perhaps we would be better off replacing them. What if we could replace anger with more temperate feelings, such as indignation or irritation? Anger requires cultivating, and the world would be a better place if we would all stop looking for ways to feed our anger, and strove to hold our tempers.

    But of all the emotions, fear is the most harmful, as it produces irrationality and a multitude of false assumptions. Fear either paralyzes, making us unable to function, or it mobilizes us into doing something that is, more often than not, ill-advised. What if we replaced fear with concern, and then followed this concern by performing a fact-based risk assessment, in order to allay our concerns? We all need to ask ourselves what we’re afraid of, and even though we may not entirely eliminate fear, we should never stop trying to overcome it.
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    Sep 27 2013: I don't know.
    It would imply that we can be completely logical...

    Though I get thrilled (and emotional) when I had debates that come close to it. (I love debates with high quality arguments and passion, and eagerness to remove each others fallacies and thank each other for doing so...)

    One thing you need to learn: be glad if you are proven to be wrong, and admit you are learning from each other.
    Doesn't mean that I am able to do that...
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    Sep 24 2013: Yes, I think it is possible to have a "purely" logical debate. Take Socrates and other philosophical dialogues. Their dialogues are based on logic. I think we need to clarify that pure logic should not be devoid of emotion because it's part of our human make-up. I don't think logic becomes impossible due to relativism because emotion (or as other people call "your perspective" "your experiences") play a role. In my opinion relativism is a scourge for debate, honesty, truth. Logic debate is possible. Pure logic I think needs to be clarified more. In my opinion a human being can do pure logic.. because a human being is not "pure". He/She is will, intellect and emotion.
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      Oct 2 2013: No Catherine, I do not agree this. Philosophical dialogues are purely dialogues (and logical too), like what Socrates says. Debate is an argument not dialogues. When Socrates says something he do not argue to accept him and to follow him. He says what is not not logical ( or 'pure logical' in our language.

      Debate is only possible when someone's emotion becomes stir. when he/she do not agree this or that. when one thinks he/she is right not the other one. Dialogue do not have those Consequences....
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        Oct 2 2013: I agree with you. You're right. I didn't really think it that way. I guess I simply thought dialogue and debate as meaning the same thing which they're not. Thanks for that.
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    Sep 24 2013: sir, putting debate in the frame of logical is not possible at all eg even scientist disagree with each other.
  • Sep 23 2013: Why Logic and Bell Curve Probabilities do not work when it matters.

    The Thanksgiving turkey story. From the turkey’s point of view, life is predictable and stable, with daily feedings, care and protection by the farmer. But then Thanksgiving rolls around, with a big surprise the turkey couldn’t have foreseen from its lifetime of experience.

    We need to see beyond logic, unfortunately this takes wisdom.
  • Sep 20 2013: It is supposed that it's not possible because we are not computers. This is the reason why I'm writing now. I love enjoing debates about topics i am interested in. Therefore, I try to persuade people who could read what I write that my opinion is worth to be taken in consideration. Somebody could reply it shoul be enough to talk about what your feelings, thoughts and emotions are not dealt with. Actually, it's irrespective of the contest you are referring to. Let me give you an example : in the eighteenth century some historians began to think events and facts could be analized objectively. However, after many efforts to support this theory, they ended up with a conclunsion "Objective History doesn't exist". It is impossible for our mind looking at something and make only logical judgements unless we are speaking about a logical matter
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    Sep 19 2013: Debate always presupposes an intention - intention to establish one's point as more true, if not absolutely true, than the other party. So I wouldn't say emotion is involved more than I would say the degree of interpersonal sincerity.

    In ancient India, debate was classified into 3 types - 1) "Vaada" which is the best kind of debate where both parties are sincerely seeking to find the truth, and all kinds of proof are admitted as long as they help realize the truth. 2) "Vitanda" which is only intended to disrupt and stir up emotions by personal attacks. 3) "Jalpa" in which distracting or subversive arguments were put forth in order to confuse the opponent.
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    Sep 16 2013: Logic traditionally involves deduction (drawing particulars from the general) and induction (drawing general principles from the particular). I suppose two humans could debate basing their arguments on *selections* (samples) drawn from the entire universe of facts -- which is what we do. Only if the entire universe of facts pertinent to an issue were collected -- an impossibility -- would two humans (or machines) come to draw the same conclusions. Since the question is "Is a purely logical debate possible" I would posit that it can, but only if both parties select different data. Otherwise they would simply agree. Beyond the question "is a purely logical debate possible" is a more important question: Is debating a waste of time? Why? Why not? Ah, but that would involve debating wouldn't it ....
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    Sep 16 2013: It's possible in mathematics, Sam. Not in human relations.
    • Sep 21 2013: Actually, if you look at Godel's incompleteness theorem, it might not even be possible in mathematics.
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    Sep 15 2013: I'm wondering why would anyone want a purely logical debate in the first place?

    Presumably the purpose of a debate is the find the best answer and course of action to a particular question or problem. In which case trying to achieve that with only logic (from the intellect, the rational part of the brain) is severely limiting the process. You are firing on only one cylinder.

    In any debate, I would want to call on my IMAGINATION to picture possibilities, listen deep to my INTUITION (a short-cut to answers through accumulated experience), cry for help from my INSPIRATION for a creative solution, improve communication by watching the BODY(-language), maintain presence via my INSTINCT (= emotions), ask what rings true in relation to my SOUL, as well as check the logic of argument via my INTELLECT ... and then eventually present all the evidence to my WILL to make the final choice/decision.

    Dividing the mind into rational and "non-rational" (includes emotions) is a bit like dividing the body into 'torso' and 'non-torso'; or 'brain' and 'non-brain'. Would you like to be operated on by a surgeon with that crude an understanding of the body?
    In the last 400 years the Intellect has been called upon to make decisions all on its own, without help from all the other functions of the mind; no wonder it's over-loaded and makes bad decisions - poor thing. And it hardly helps to kick the emotions down as a nuisance, when they are such wonderful instant message-bringers as well.

    It's way overdue we had a better model of understanding of the mind, and consciousness.
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    Sep 14 2013: Well, it is indeed an uphill task even for me. I usually evade the debate session as I also get too emotional when the other side tends to undermine my intelligence and use a harsh words that punch a big hole to my confidence. I must concur with you that anger and fear stands as the variables to produce a bad debate :). But then, humiliation and uncivilised debates lead to a disturbing emotion stability as what had happened to me.

    It is indeed possible to have a clean and productive debates if we are able to channel our intellectual thoughts freely without the interference of emotions. But that's the tricky part. In a good debates one must prepare to embrace the truth / logical arguments and the other side to acknowledge that the debates is not intended to indicate who's the smartest one.
  • Sep 14 2013: As part of my high school debate team our stated objective was to defend cigarette smoking. This was prior to the landmark tobacco settlement and after the surgeon general label on the harmful effects of cigaret smoking on the body. I still question why we chose to argue that cigaret smoking was a freedom of expression, that other factors contributed to the claims of illness and disease. We basically had no argument or meaningful purpose to debate or defend cigarette smoking. Which I think is what a lot of debate or what we call debate is about. It was hard to argue against the effects of smoking as the country took up jogging with a Walkman. If you applied some of the same points the pro choice advocates make, it's my body and decision between my doctor and myself we probably would have won. We also didn't have any passion about winning our argument. Which had a huge impact because if we had we could have pressed for acceptance of our position. Which in my opinion is what a lot of debate is. Pressing the other side to conform or admit your position is superior to even the topic being debated.
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    Sep 13 2013: A purely logical debate would be ideal, but the possibility of having one is very low. We are both blessed and cursed with emotions and empathy (for the most part, anyways). When it comes to debates and arguments, eventually some sort of emotion will be rallied up - whether it is a poignant subject matter or it is simple frustration caused by the opposed, emotions uprising are inevitable.

    However, it is extremely possible to have a debate with logic, emotions, and credibility (also known as pathos, ethos, and logos)! The real trick is finding the equilibrium between the three to make a really sound argument.

    There is a chance that in the future an argument consisting of solely logos and ethos could exist - but to omit pathos could arguably make us seem less human. As aforementioned, we are both blessed and cursed with emotions, these emotions help shape us as a society and give us characters. In layman's terms, emotions are rather important!
    So, as lovely and great the sound of a purely logic, it's not possible.
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    R H

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    Sep 12 2013: i would say 'no', that it is not possible. I would say that because there are too many possible factors, nuances, interpretations, definitions, relationships, and effects for and between any given particular facet(s) of a debate for simple logic to be able to convey. Debate positions would therefore be incompletely communicated and ultimately futile if only logic were employed - insomuch as a satisfactory outcome is desired.
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    Sep 12 2013: "
    Steven Why 30+
    Assumption's, just like the use adjectives "most", and "mostly" the true bane of logical and rational discourse... Those tend to be ego related."

    The words "most" and "mostly", are similar to the abstract terms "greater" or "greater than", when used to convey a true message in the pure language sense. They have no relation to ego in the general sense -only in an individual setting. If the shoe fits, wear it. If not, find another shoe.

    For most applications in life, or the natural world, there are no absolutes; so dependence on them is irrational -see Chaos theory.
  • Sep 12 2013: I think wisdom is the key ingredient and wisdom is the ability to foresee the “unintended consequences” of a decision, series of actions or the failure to act.

    Logic has little to do with wisdom; the two are not connected as unintended consequences are rarely logical. However emotion does have a part to play because it leads to a decision that is just and “does the right thing”.

    I would also add wisdom is more often about what to leave out and what not to do more than the opposite - “need for action”.
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    Sep 11 2013: Logic and debate do not go together. Logic is to take the most likely path that achieves the desired results based on facts at that time. Debate is to sit and talk about it.
    • Sep 12 2013: So you dont think we can have a logical debate regarding the path we take as a species, for instance the "logical consequences" of taking such a path. Too often as in your comment they are separated, and we end up with stock piles of VX nerve gas as well as nuclear weapons. As, by example, Oppenheimer realized only after he created the A-bomb, and on then regretted the path taken. What we've yet to realize, and your comment typifies it, is that one is not mutually exclusive to the other.
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    Sep 11 2013: Define logical, Sam.
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    Sep 10 2013: the analytical logic of us depends on our pertinence to find the final goal and the first principals of our sens perceptions ,and like we can't be deporved from our sensations ,the purely logical debate depends on the time that we live it ,the long we can be purely logic with same principals the most we belong to this principals like intolerence ,the most we can percept our intolerence the long our ethical critic can be close to the truth that we need to know.
  • Sep 10 2013: A "debate" implies that there is some opposition of ideas in which one side or the other intends to prevail. This is different from a classical argument, in which one or more persons present the best possible evidence for a particular conclusion. Arguments can (and possibly should) be made logically, with the provision that emotional appeals might be included in the argument when valid and appropriate. Debate, however, is never purely logical because each side has a stake in the outcome and a degree of passion or commitment regarding its own position. Such passion or commitment can even be a key part of the position being taken. As an example: we can argue the evidence leading to our conclusion that a limited military strike in Syria would produce more benefits than costs (or vice-versa). The ensuing argument might lead to clarity on the issue and allow people to better understand the situation. It might also lead to multiple and varied decisions about what to actually do. In such an argument, the deaths of children and non-combatants, the suffering caused by the gas attack, and the cruelty of those who would use such weapons would only be relevant in "unemotional" ways. However, in a debate about whether we "should" initiate a limited military strike in response to the attack, this same evidence might be used to inflame the emotions of the listeners as part of a strategy to win the debate. So the real question might be: do we want our collective decisions made through debate or argument, through logical reasoned discourse or through some mix of logic and emotion that allows us to consider both how we think about the issues and how we feel about them?
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    Sep 10 2013: Everything is purely subjectivity. What I thought as something important might be something not important for others. Debate cant be pure logic as long as there is perspective there. :)
    • Sep 12 2013: but isn't subjectivity objective?
      • Sep 21 2013: Yes, but objectivity is quite subjective as well.
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    Sep 10 2013: I believe a debate absolutely can be logical provided we accept that apathy is the absence of emotion and not the emotion itself.

    If the participants truly do not care one way or the other about the outcome of a debate and their goal is simply to determine to the best of their ability which situation is more true in the given instance I feel they can do this logically.

    It is true that all persons have bias or a per-determined way of looking at a thing based on experience, however being aware of their bias is a key to controlling it by taking it into account and applying a counterweight.
  • Sep 10 2013: Human beings can not be thought without emotion. Some people might say the difference between human and animals is emotional thing. One could imagine that only logical ideas would exist in debates. But one's logic is formed itself through one's subjectivity. So I think it is inevitable to consider deep relationships betweem ourselves and emotions:)
    • Sep 12 2013: You chose clothes to wear today, yes, are you saying that your choice was solely based on an emotional impulse?

      And that you can never rise above that impulse?
      • Sep 12 2013: Hello, Steven! I am sure that emotional things play a huge role in our lives. As you said, we should act rationally beyond emotionally. Impulse sometimes pushes into the extreme end so that individual's considerate attitudes would be required, I think.
  • Sep 10 2013: I suppose an appropriate answer will depend on assumption, semantics, definitions and perceptions of the question. but assuming only one side can be correct then it would be impossible for both sides to be purely logical, only the correct side can possess 100% pure logic. The other side cannot be purely logical by the definition of being "wrong". Purely emotionless communication is also impossible because humans are never totally devoid of some level of emotion while they are conscious. Emotion is a perpetual continuum, not a binary state. So in answer to your question, No.
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      Sep 10 2013: I feel a purely logical answer can be wrong. I feel this way because logic is only as good or accurate as the information it has to go on at the time of decision and our knowledge base on any given matter is constantly being upgraded over time as new information becomes available be it on a personal or humanity level.

      Pure logic then would not be the answer, but rather the means by which it is arrived at.
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    Sep 9 2013: I would think it's possible to have an entirely logical debate.

    I would think humility is often present in debates. No matter how strong your case, you usually have the notion that your "opponent" might have a better one, or at least have some better points. I would think curiosity is often present, you're curious as to what your opponent might say, and also curious about what you might say back.
  • Sep 9 2013: Yes. It would be a lot of work and probably be rather dull.
    • Sep 12 2013: Well have you ever rationalized that those people that maybe bombed in Syria, maybe dont mind dull?
  • Sep 9 2013: the paradox of logic is that it is inherently also a belief that the evidence you put forward is true; when you put forward a statement, what it implies is that something you subconsciously or consciously agree to; if one can say that a car travelling at 5m/s will cover more distance than a car travelling at 3m/s over the same period of time, it is then equally valid to say that the second car will cover more distance than the first car over the same course of time; it is entirely dependent on one's perception, and what is generally accepted as truth takes into account of the human component that makes it true

    in the situation of a debate, if your primary object is to convince, then it follows that you believe in what you have presented is true and that your opponent is at false; within the argument is also your own input of how argument should centre around and how evidence should be sequenced; one can never be certain that association between any "correct" statements is also correct or logical and void of conjectures; the act of associating, which is putting forward an argument based on multiple evidence, the structuring of an argument is human-driven
    • Sep 9 2013: Truth is independent of logic. Logic only refers to whether or not a conclusion follows from premises if specific rules of transformation of premises to conclusion are followed. It has nothing to do with truth. Logic is pure GIGO.
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    Sep 9 2013: 1+1=2 is puremoment logic but if 1+1 can = 1 too will turn into puremoment emotional logic ,so the perfect logic can we use it's the ethical one,fair it's proved but it can be with pardon and love too.
  • Sep 8 2013: if purely logical people are debating. by logic i assume you mean using reason rather than rhetoric and emotion. in the culture i live in, it is rarer and rarer for people to separate their emotions and their ego-identity from their ideas and belief systems, so it does seem like it is less and less possible to have an intelligent conversation without people becoming angry and offended. conversations like this however, in which we examine the psychology involved in argument, may help to fix that.
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    Sep 8 2013: Do you mean no concrete examples as well? I would point to any math equation. The answer is never a matter of opinion.
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    Sep 8 2013: I'm sure that it is possible but with only logic, there can be only a discussion that goes around and around.

    Logic can be utilised for all sides of an argument so it really depends entirely on the original premise and then after that, the opinions of the participants and listeners.

    How to come to a conclusion? Is that the aim of any debate? Is it to change minds? or just enjoy the debate?

    "Even if you persuade me, you won't persuade me" - Aristophanes
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    Sep 8 2013: If anyone feels threatened by a postulation, emotion will enter the debate.

    I can't think of a non-threatening postulation.

    I could say that: "Nothing can produce nothing and therefore something has to always existed".

    Those who's ideas about eternity are threatened by this assertion will immediately seek to destroy its logic.

    Yet, logically, there is no argument that will offset it's presumption and many will feel it is an imperious statement.

    We have to accept the idea that humans are emotional creatures and deal with it. The less we know the more emotional we become when environmental demands are immediate . Emotion, along with primitive instinct, drives our thinking when answers are not immediately available
    • Sep 8 2013: that is an assumption built upon the idea that all people have the same psychology. not everyone identifies themselves with their ideas.
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        Sep 9 2013: No, that is true, but there is the "norm" of the population which is emotionally driven. The outliers are of little concern. Most are at peace with their "own" ideas. It is the ideas of others that cause them consternation.
        • Sep 12 2013: Assumption's, just like the use adjectives "most", and "mostly" the true bane of logical and rational discourse... Those tend to be ego related.
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    Sep 7 2013: Can you have a purely logical debate? Yes if that is the rules of the debate. There are many types and rules can be established to be monitored and enforced by mediators or judges. The rules would also include if the debate was to have a measured outcome and by whom. If the debate is purely logical then neither anger or fear should be factors only those desired and not desired outcomes.

    Persuasion does not have to be in a debate form to get someone to do something for you. Aristotle and Machiavelli both used persuasion in very different ways.

    People should want to do things for you .... if they have to be persuaded or influenced to .... then it is shallow at best.

  • Sep 6 2013: There's no right or wrong answer; we debate in many domains. Some debates use hard data, other, more soft evidence. Some are scientific, detached from our personas; we can stand away from them personally and give a point of view. I'd put global warming there. We have much data about energy consumption, the sun, matter, population and climate records, so that debate can be advanced or destroyed by yet more data. Others debates relate to exactly who we believe we are. Inevitably emotive is "Why is the West's population increasingly obese?" Debaters have vested interests, or may feel vulnerable, blamed, unattractive, guilty, attacked for their weight and so on. Don't expect logic to rule there! Likewise, debates on gun crime and the right to bear arms in the US are a proxy for bigger political issues. De-criminalizing marijuanha; do you imagine this could be logically resolved? More emotive: the causation of homosexuality and whether it (if there is an "it) can or should be reversed; can a single parent can do as good a job as a father and mother; can a lesbian couple do as well as a man and a woman at bringing up kids? Such debates are intrinsically important to us, but we know debaters are NEVER going to look to solely logical argument. These are too contraversial and sensitive - the case data we're offered from here will be the polar opposite of the case data from there, or it'll be considered culturally skewed or otherwise biased. So, let's respect logic for the argumentation where the data is valid, verifiable, scientifically secure. We know emotion will come in screaming and early in all debates where human or animal rights, personal identity and status pertain. Experience shows that in any debate concerning sex, gender or politics, logic is irrelevant and a fight may break out at any time. Where we debate religion, we're joining in an insoluble conflict that never goes away and logic can have no place whatsoever in that debate.
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    Sep 6 2013: It depends on what you call Logic. In french, it can have many definitions:
    - A science which study methods of reasoning and thinking for attaining truth
    - The Art of convincing
    - Ways of reasoning
    - Coherence
    As an Art of convincing, it seems unlikely to be without emotions, as Arts are made of emotions. Also there are as many ways of reasoning as humans on this planet, so logic can't be thougt from an objective point of view. Cultural, religious and societal differences, inequalities in education, different ways of explaining science (like algebra and vedic mathematics) make it really difficult to have an unified logic. So, in my opinion, having a purely logical debate is impossible, and would be quite boring too!
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    Sep 6 2013: I think it's quite difficult for any human, however logical they strive to be, to forgo their id that any debate, at the very end, does tend to veer toward the emotional. Also, whatever communication you are putting out has to go through so many layers of filter for your listener. Filters that are constructed from their own experiences and emotions.
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    Sep 6 2013: "As a subquestion what emotions do you tthink predominate debates?"

    The need to be right?

    But it really depends on who the parties are debating, imho.

    Here is a quote for you Sam:

    "In all intellectual debates, both sides tend to be correct in what they affirm, and wrong in what they deny."

    John Stuart Mill
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    Sep 6 2013: No, I don't think so. There are too many variables in how 'facts', 'truths', and 'evidence' are presented in a debate. Confirmation bias for instance, sees to it that one evidenced fact can convincingly be opposed by another evidenced fact on the basis of the need to preserve perceived truths in ideology and belief. Human sensibilities therefore mean that logical debate is impossible.

    And a good thing too - it is those emotional elements in a debate that provide both stimulation and mobility in the subject discussed. Logic on its own is immovable and rooted in what it already knows, whereas the addition of emotion 'shakes it up' and can potentially move staid 'reality' to a new and better place.
  • Sep 6 2013: Emotion is required to reason. Learn what science has discovered about human reasoning.
  • Sep 6 2013: the short answer is no and I am not against emotion or passion but I believe there are too many closed minds who only think they know the truth and that there are 2 sides on most issues. Logic with emotion, passion and an open mind is great.
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    Sep 5 2013: The answer is no. The second Law of Classical Logic, called The Law of Non-contradiction, states that "A" cannot be both "A" and "Not A". Since Law #2 falsifies any and all arguments which contradict it there can be no "pure" debate. What passes for debate is often just dueling fallacies. Logic is not debatable.
    • Sep 12 2013: Quantum mechanics says something can be at two places at the same time. Therefore something can be A and Not A.
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        Sep 12 2013: Indeed you are correct. QM denies Classical Logic, Critical Thinking, and The Scientific Method. QM is a new and different reference frame of knowledge and information. My beliefs are in accordance with classical knowledge.
  • Sep 5 2013: In short, no.

    In length:

    In purely logical domains, such as exact science and mathematics, there is no debate. One answer is objectively correct, the others aren't. There may be an attempt to figure out which answer is the correct one, but that's less debate, and more calculation.

    In anything that isn't objectively correct (as in, not purely in the domain of exact science or math), a debate can be had, but it can never be fully logical. Seeing as reaching the objectively correct answer via calculation is impossible, there is no purely rational way to determine anything. Therefore, emotion and other non-rational process is required to make a decision, even without adding more than one person to the table.

    Ultimately, logic is in something of a supporting role in debate. You use calculations to support certain aspects of your not-fully-rational theory. And again, aside from pure mathematics and exact science, there is no fully rational theory.
  • Sep 5 2013: Remember subject. We may have a debate about Mathematics. physics, chemistry, biology and the like. looking at it like this where is the emotion?
    • Sep 6 2013: i have had many discussions on Math, physics and chemistry that were very emotional and passionate. 8>))
      • Sep 6 2013: That makes sense, but why? and it was an area selected to contrast with politics and religion. Even sales is largely emotional. Are you saying that dsicussions are always or almost always emotional. I believe that this is an interesting direction to go.
        • Sep 7 2013: several months ago i hosted a dinner with my old college roommate who teaches climatology, a friend that teaches geology, and a friend who also teaches climatology. We talked about many things but eventually got to global warming - My roommate and the geology friend believed that carbon dioxide and human beings was causing the warming. My other friend argued that it was not proven and the warming is still in the range.

          It was passionate but without the hostility - facts, figures, etc. was presented on both side and I loved it.

          When we switched topics there was no anger just an agreement to disagree until more evidence comes in.
      • Sep 7 2013: Okay that discussion may be an example of a purely logical debate. Sounds like it waas.
  • Sep 5 2013: Looking at definitions:

    Debate is contention in argument; dispute, controversy; discussion; especially the discussion of questions of public interest in Parliament or in any assembly. Debate is a method of interactive and representational argument. Debate is a broader form of argument than deductive reasoning, which only examines whether a conclusion is a consequence of premises, and factual argument, which only examines what is or isn't the case, or rhetoric, which is a technique of persuasion. Though logical consistency, factual accuracy and some degree of emotional appeal to the audience are important elements of the art of persuasion, in debating, one side often prevails over the other side by presenting a superior "context" and/or framework of the issue, which is far more subtle and strategic. The outcome of a debate depends upon consensus or some formal way of reaching a resolution, rather than the objective facts as such. In a formal debating contest, there are rules for participants to discuss and decide on differences, within a framework defining how they will interact. (

    Dialectic (also dialectics and the dialectical method) is a method of argument for resolving disagreement that has been central to European and Indian philosophy since antiquity. The word dialectic originated in ancient Greece, and was made popular by Plato in the Socratic dialogues. The dialectical method is discourse between two or more people holding different points of view about a subject, who wish to establish the truth of the matter guided by reasoned arguments. (

    No emotion? Perhaps computer vs computer in a debate about logic? If the mutual goal was to uncover truth rather than winning a debate, egos could be held in check by curiosity. Maybe in Science this is possible, but in most other issues opinion dominates truth.

    Dialectic seems closer than debate to your goal...
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    Sep 5 2013: I am sure you are correct that emotion will naturally enter discourse among people. Use of tact, for example, is a result of people's being emotionally attuned to others. Various persuasive devices used in debates are as well.

    Even if emotion were not involved, debate would not be purely logical, because people's assembly of information and how they interpret such information will be subject to biases they will often not recognize in themselves and which are out of conscious control.

    Daniel Kahneman, Nobel laureate and TED speaker, is an excellent resource on this point.

    On the other hand, I think it is extremely possible and common for discourse not to involve either anger or fear. It's really a matter of the culture of the group engaging in discussion.