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their several speeches in a succession, opposing the cause which others have maintained, giving their reasons against it, and endeavouring to refute the arguments whereby the first speakers have supported it.
V. AFTER this, one and another rises up to make their replies, to vindicate or to condemn, to establish or to confute what has been offered before on each side of the
question ; till at last, according to the rules, orders, and customs of the court or assembly, the controversy is dicided either by a single judge, or the suffrage of the assembly.
VI. WHERE the question or matter in debate consists of several parts, after it is once opened by the first or second speaker, sometimes those who follow take each of them a particular part of the debate, according to their inclination or their prior agreement, and apply themselves to argue upon that single point only, that so the whole complexion of the debate may not be thrown into confusion by the variety of subjects, if every speaker should handle all the subjects of debate.
VII. BEFORE the final sentence or determination is given, it is usual to have the reasons and arguments, which have been offered on both sides, summed up and represented in a more compendious manner; and this is done either by the appointed judge of the court, or the chairman, or some noted person in the assembly, that so judgement may proceed upon the fullest survey of the whole subject, that, as far as possible in human affairs, nothing may be done contrary to truth or justice.
VIII. As this is a practice in which multitudes of gentlemen, besides those of the learned professions, may be en.. gaged, at least in their maturer years of life, so it would be a very proper and useful thing to introduce this custom into our academies, viz, to propose cases, and let the students debate them in a forensic manner in the presence of their tutors. There was something of this kind practised by the Roman youth in their schools, in order to train them up H 3
for orators, both in the forum and in the senate. Perhaps Juvenal gives some hints of it when he says,
Concilium dedimus Sylla, privatus ut altum
Where with men-boys I strove to get renown,
Sometimes these were assigned to the boys as single subjects of a theme or declamation : so the same poet speaks sarcastically to Hannibal,
I demens, et sævas curre per Alpes,
Go climb the rugged Alps, ambitious fool,
See more of this matter in Kennet’s Antiquities of Rome, in the second essay on the Roman Education.
Of Academic or Scholastic Disputation. The common methods in which disputes are managed in the schools of learning are these, viz.
1. The tutor appoints a question in some of the sciences to be debated amongst his students : one of them undertakes to affirm or deny the question, and to defend his assertion or negation, and to answer all objections against it; he is called the respondent: and the rest of the students in the same class, or who pursue the same science, are the oppo
nents, who are appointed to dispute or raise objections against the proposition thus affirmed or denied.
II. Each of the students successively in their turn becomes the respondent or the defender of that proposition, while the rest oppose it also successively in their turns.
III. It is the business of the respondent to write a thesis in Latin, or short discourse on the question proposed ; and he either affirms or denies the question according to the opinion of the tutor, which is supposed to be the truth, and he reads it at the beginning of the dispute.
IV. In his discourse (which is written with as great accuracy as the youth is capable of), he explains the terms of the question, frees them from all ambiguity, fixes their sense, declares the true intent and meaning of the question itself, separates it from other questions with which it may have been complicated, and distinguishes it from other questions which may happen to be a-kin to it, and then pro. nounces in the negative or affirmative concerning it.
V. When this is done, then in the second part of his discourse he gives his own strongest arguments to confirm the proposition he has laid down, i. e. to vindicate his own side of the question : but he does not usually proceed to represent the objections against it, and to solve or answer them; for it is the business of the other students to raise objections in disputing.
VI. Note, In some schools, the respondent is admitted to talk largely upon the question with many flourishes and illustrations, to introduce great authorities from ancient and modern writings for the support of it, and to scatter Latin reproaches in abundance on all those who are of a different sentiment. But this is not always permitted, nor should it indeed be ever indulged, lest it teach youth to reproach instead of reasoning,
VII. WHEN the respondent has read over his thesis in the school, the junior student makes an objection, and draws it up in the regular form of a syllogism : the respondent repeats the objection, and either denies the major or minor
proposition directly, or he distinguishes upon some word or phrase in the major or minor, and shews in what sense the proposition may be true, but that that sense does not affect the question ; and then declares that in the sense which af. fects the present question, the proposition is not true, and consequently he denies it.
VIII. Then the opponent proceeds by another syllogism to vindicate the proposition that is denied ; again the re. spondent answers by denying or distinguishing.
Thus the disputation goes on in a series or succession of syllogisms and answers, till the objector is silenced, and has no more to say,
IX. When he can go no further, the next student begins to propose his objection, and then the third and the fourth, even to the senior, who is the last opponent.
X. DURING this time, the tutor sits in the chair as president or moderator, to see that the rules of disputation and decency be observed on both sides ; and to admonish each disputant of any irregularity in their conduct. His work is also to illustrate and explain the answer or distinction of the respondent where it is obscure, to strengthen it where it is weak, and to correct it where it is false : and when the Tespondent is pinched with a strong objection, and is at loss for an answer, the moderator assists him, and suggests some answer to the objection of the opponent, in defence of the question, according to his own opinion of sentiment.
XI. In public disputes, where the opponents and respondents choose their own side of the question, the moderaz tor's work is not to favour either disputant; but he only sits as president to see that the laws of disputation be ob served, and a decorum maintained.
XII. Now the laws of disputation relate either to the opponent, or to the respondent, or to both.
The laws obliging the opponent are these.
1. That he must directly contradict the proposition of the respondent, and not merely attack any of the arguments whereby the respondent has snpported that proposition :
for it is one thing to confute a single argument of the respondent, and another to confute the thesis itself.
2. (Which is a-kin to the former) he must contradict or oppose the very sense and intention of the proposition as the respondent has stated it, and not merely oppose the words of the thesis in any other sense ; for this would be the way to plunge the dispute into ambiguity and darkness, to talk beside the question, to wrangle about words, and to attack a proposition different from what the respondent has espoused, which is called ignoratio elenchi.
3. He must propose his argument in a plain, short, and syllogistic form, according to the rules of logic, without flying to fallacies or sophisms; and, as far as may be, he should use categorical syllogisms.
4. Though the respondent may be attacked either upon a point of his own concession, which is called argumentum ex concessis, or by reducing him to an absurdity, which is called reductio ad absurdum, yet it is the neatest, the most useful, and the best sort of disputation where the opponent draws his objections from the nature of the question itself.
5. Where the respondent denies any proposition, the opponent, if he proceed, must directly vindicate and confirm that proposition, i. e, he must make that proposition the conclusion of his next syllogism.
6. Where the respondent limits or distinguishes any proposition, the opponent must directly prove his own proposition in that sense, and according to that member of the distinction in which the respondent denied it.
XIII. The laws that oblige the respondent are these.
1. To repeat the argument of the opponent in the very same words in which it was proposed, before he attempts to answer it.
2. If the syllogism be false in the logical form of it, he must discover the fault according to the rules of logic.
3. If the argument does not directly and effectually oppose his thesis, he must shew this mistake, and make it appear that his thesis is safe, even though the argument of