Debate is masculine, conversation is feminine.
-Amos Bronson Alcott
Debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide- open,
and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes
unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.
-William J. Brennan, Jr.
Debates conceal rather than reveal the truth. Truth is revealed in
Disagreement produces debate but dissent produces dissension.
-Daniel J. Boorstin
Disagreement, vehement disagreement, is healthy. Debate is impossible
without it. Evil does not question itself. Even the incorruptible are
corruptible if they cannot accept the possibility of being mistaken.
Facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of
increasing certainty. Facts are the world's data. Theories are
structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts do not go
away while scientists debate rival theories for explaining them.
Einstein's theory of gravitation replaced Newton's, but apples did not
suspend themselves in mid-air pending the outcome.
-Stephen Jay Gould
For the sake of democracy, vigorous, civilized debate must replace the
law of silence that political correctness has imposed.
Freedom is hammered out on the anvil of discussion, dissent, and debate.
-Hubert H. Humphrey
Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of
scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is
I think that you can disagree with people and debate over their
positions with issues without engaging in the politics of personal
-Hillary Rodham Clinton
In a body (like Congress) where there are more than one hundred talking
lawyers, you can make no calculation upon the termination of any debate.
-Franklin P. Adams
It is better to debate a question without settling it than to settle a
question without debating it.
Nothing is gained by debate on non-debatable subjects.
On every question of construction (of the Constitution) let us carry
ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect
the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning
may be squeezed out of the text, or intended against it, conform to the
probable one in which it was passed.
One rule observed in their council is, never to debate a thing on the
same day in which it is first proposed; for that is always referred to
the next meeting, that so men may not rashly and in the heat of
discourse engage themselves too soon, which might bias them so much
that, instead of consulting the good of the public, they might rather
study to support their first opinions, and by a perverse and
preposterous sort of shame hazard their country rather than endanger
their own reputation, or venture the being suspected to have wanted
foresight in the expedients that they at first proposed; and therefore,
to prevent this, they take care that they may rather be deliberate than
sudden in their motions.
Religious believers of the world, you are free to continue to debate the
simple, narrow question that divides you from atheists, but you have no
right, in so doing, to treat the Humanists of the world with contempt.
You owe them a deep debt of gratitude, for not only have they shed much
light on a naturally dark world but they have very probably helped
civilize your own specific religion.
Sloths move at the speed of congressional debate but with greater
deliberation and less noise.
That's one of the major lessons: no president should ever take this
nation to war without full public debate in the Congress and/or in the
The ethical debates are like stones in a stream. The water runs around
them. You haven't seen any biological technologies held up for one week
by any of these debates.
The presidency is now a cross between a popularity contest and a high
school debate, with an encyclopedia of clichés the first prize.
There needs to be debates, like we're going through. There needs to be
town-hall meetings. There needs to be travel. This is a huge country.
-George W. Bush
There's a time for debate and a time for consensus. There's a time for
advocacy and time for first principles.
What I think the political correctness debate is really about is the
power to be able to define. The definers want the power to name. And the
defined are now taking that power away from them.
Whatever the field under discussion, those who engage in debate must not
only believe in each other's good faith, but also in their capacity to
arrive at the truth.
(August 10 is also the birthday of Herbert Hoover.)