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Welcome to the Debate Forum

The purpose of this forum is to allow debaters holding two opposing positions to take each other on. Debaters can choose from among several debate formats, some of which permit other members to contribute to the debate. There will be no judges in a debate, but the debate parameters and forum rules (except for the rule against advocating non-Objectivist ideas) will be strictly enforced by a moderator, and violation of the rules is grounds for termination of the debate.

Initiating a debate:

To begin, debaters should individually or jointly propose a topic and (optionally) debate parameters in this thread. If a debater posts individually, he will be able to turn down up to three members as opponents before he must accept or cancel or debate. A moderator will agree to moderate, and propose a start time and debate parameters. As soon as both debaters agree, the debate will begin.

To propose a debate:

1. Put the subject of the proposed debate (e.g. "Capitalism v. Socialism") in the "topic title" line of a new thread.

2. Indicate the status of the debate in the "topic description" line underneath. The status would begin as "Proposed debate." It would change to something like "Active debate" when the debate had officially begun.

Debate Parameters

(These parameters may be changed if pre-agreed by both sides.)

The debate will be in a simple statement-response-statement format with a reply-limit of 24 hours.


*Short posts from the members will be allowed to comment on the effectiveness on each rebuttal.

*The debate may be extended if both sides agree.

(The debate format I proposed is just a guideline – you are welcome to agree on your own.)

Edited by GreedyCapitalist
removed the three response limit
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  • 2 weeks later...
Well, I thought the idea was for me to debate ONE person on ONE topic. I'm not trying to be difficult, I just want it to be a debate rather than a discussion where everyone of the 1000 members on this site is against me.


Can you at lease confirm your position, so that it will be clear what the debate is about? Miss Rand defined government as follows:

"A government is an institution that holds the exclusive power to enforce certain rules of social conduct in a given geographical area."

Your position is that no such institution should exist?

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Isn't ethics a philosophy issue?

Yes, ethics is a branch of philosophy. However, an application of a philosophical principle (such as the right of individuals to their lives) to a particular situation (individuals living in a state that sponsors terrorists) is not, itself, philosophical.

Philosophy is the science (a systematic ordering of knowledge, using definite methods, and having definite objects of study) which deals in ideas that apply to everyone, everywhere, and at all times.

1. Philosophy is the science that studies problems that everyone must deal with:

- What exists? (Metaphysics)

- How do I know? (Epistemology)

- What should I do about it? (Ethics)

- How should I act in society to protect my rights? (Politics)

- And how can I hold this vast system of facts and values in mind as a summation? (Esthetics)

2. Philosophy is the science that uses methods (observation, thought, and logic) that are available to everyone, everywhere, and at all times through history.

3. Philosophy is the science whose products are ideas (concepts and principles) which are the foundation of all the other, specialized sciences -- such as physics, law, and military strategy.

Thus philosophy is distinguished from other sciences by its objects of study, its set of methods, and its results.

Does existence exist? That is a philosophical question. Does my bicycle exist today or was it destroyed by accident when a wrecking-ball smashed it into little pieces last week? That is a historical question and maybe a legal question too.

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Initiating a debate:

To begin, debaters should individually or jointly propose a topic and (optionally) debate parameters in this thread.


I am proposing a debate. The general subject is epistemology. The particular topic is a comparison of Ayn Rand's epistemology (as shown in her Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology) and Immanuel Kant's epistemology (as shown in his Critique of Pure Reason, second edition).

I propose to take this side of the debate: Immanuel Kant's epistemology is opposed to Ayn Rand's epistemology in every essential characteristic.


I say "debate" with great hesitation. Ordinarly the only people who should debate a subject are those who have mastered their subject. I have not mastered either Ayn Rand's epistemology or Kant's extraordinarily difficult to understand epistemology. I have read several of Kant's works, but I have studied only CPR-B. Even then, my study has been shallow, for three reasons: I was looking only for his positions on a few issues (though they are key to CPR-B); I found his presentation (in English) to be the second most difficult philosophical text I have ever examined; and, last, because I have gone through the text only one and a half times (that is, once through, and back again, but focusing only on certain parts of interest to me).

I know of no one in this forum who has mastered Kant's epistemology. (I will gladly step aside if someone else steps forward as knowing Kant's CPR-B epistemology.) Others in this forum know Ayn Rand's epistemology better than I do. However, I may be the only who has a special interest in IOE as, in effect, Ayn Rand's book of reason. Again, if others are more qualified, I will gladly step aside.

In the current "Kant" thread, Hal has said, in my words, that Ayn Rand's epistemology is more similar to Kant's than different from it (especially when compared to other Enlightenment philosophers). So, I nominate Hal to be the other debater/discusser.

Though neither Hal nor I have mastered our subjects, I suspect both of us will greatly benefit from this opportunity to debate, discuss, and do more research.


1. I would like to make this proposed thread a debate in format -- set rules, with only two participants (to begin with) -- but also, in part, a discussion in purpose. A debater's purpose is to win; a discussion member's purpose is to uncover answers to problems, partly by asking questions, partly by challenging, and partly by suggesting intermediate answers that might lead to a conclusion.

2. This topic fits in very nicely with a long-term project I am doing, but I am very busy with other aspects of that project. So, I must insist on having a lot of time to respond -- up to a week. I think that is appropriate because this debate/discussion must reference IOE and CPR-B, as proof statements. That takes time (especially for CPR-B).

3. Both sides will use the Guyer and Wood English translation of CPR-B. (I know no German.)

4. We will limit the discussion to epistemology and its foundation in metaphysics (ontology). (Strictly speaking, "epistemology" arose after Kant, so his work is a mixture of ontology and epistemology.)

5. Each debater can reply to the other debater's post with up to three posts of his own. (I think we should encourage more, but shorter, posts rather than single, all-inclusive responses -- for easier reading.)

6. At the end, when we are both exhausted or agree we are going in circles, each debater/discusser will briefly summarize his position.

Questions? Comments?

Edited by BurgessLau
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I can see this thread becoming disorganized (particularly over the next few months or so) and I have a suggestion. I would have saved it for the Model Rules that David and I are working on, but I think this should be done sooner than he and I might be.

Have people propose topics in a thread. Instruct them (at the top of this pinned thread seems best) to do the following:

1. Put the subject of the proposed debate (e.g. "Capitalism v. Socialism") in the "topic title" line.

2. Indicate the status of the debate in the "topic description" line underneath. The status would begin as "Proposed debate." It would change to something like "Active debate" when the debate had officially begun.

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  • 2 months later...
  • 4 months later...

Since new debate proposals should be separate threads, I deleted some old posts.

All new posts in this thread should be regarding the general format and nature of the debates.

Question: should I close completed debate threads?

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Question: should I close completed debate threads?

I would prefer that they not be closed unless the person who created the thread specifically asks that they be closed. Just as with other threads, there could always be a new idea or a new poster who wants to comment on the subject even after a long period of inactivity.

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