Monash Association of Debaters

Sam Block


Welcome to another edition of the Monash Debating Review. It has been a great privilege to be
involved in the editing of this volume, and I can speak for myself and all the Associate Editors
in saying that the process has been both interesting and fulfilling.

As editors, we wanted this issue to contain pieces worthy of an academic journal, and which
went beyond how-to guides to debating of the sort which are widely available. Setting
stringent criteria in our call for articles, we were rewarded with some really excellent pieces
which we are proud to present here. While they range widely in their content and emphasis,
these essays are united by the fact that they extend our knowledge of an area of debating, and
promote discussion, rather than contracting it.

Bob Nimmo and Art Ward add to a vital debate about how tournaments should be run with
two articles, Nimmo’s on tabulation and Ward’s on the composition of adjudication teams.
Both draw upon myriad personal experiences to make arguments in favour of changing
current practice. At the same time, both convey a wealth of information valuable to anyone
considering running a debating tournament. Nimmo’s article in particular is, we believe, the
most comprehensive guide to tabulation ever printed, and the only one of which we are aware
that deals with tournaments of the size that Bob has regularly worked on. Ward’s article is
equally timely, and as the makeup of adjudication teams continues to change, we hope this
piece will start a much-needed conversation on how to produce the right ones.

Colin Etnire & Lelia Glass’s joint piece takes a very different look at debating. By examining
speakers’ deployment of language and its inflections to construct a social reality favourable to
their argumentative position, their essay brings a much-needed refocusing to the descriptive
analysis of competitive debating. While this is far from a how-to guide, it will serve debaters
and judges alike well to broaden their conception of debating through this lens.

Finally, Tim Lees and Rob Marrs examine two types of topics and arguments generally held
at – or beyond – the periphery of debating. Lees’ examination of theological argumentation
in the context of British Parliamentary debating casts a new light on the set of argumentation
traditionally considered acceptable and makes a strong argument in favour of admitting new
types of reasoning. By contrast, Marrs’ piece argues for the acceptability of motions about
sport and engages with some familiar objections to them. Both address important questions
about what sorts of topics we should set, and how we should evaluate speakers addressing

Taken together, we hope that this Volume has something to offer anyone interested in serious
thinking about debating, adjudication and tournament organisation. We hope that they
prompt discussion, both written and oral, and build the knowledge we as a community can
draw on.

  • Sam Block