Debate can be based on several different types of claims. Those are as follows:
- fact claims,
- value claims, and
- policy claims.
Fact claims are argumentative theses which are based on a quantifiable assumption. In other words, fact claims are arguments, namely the claims made about some measurable topic or fact. They speak about how things were in the past, how they are in the present, or how they will be in the future. Such claims do not have to be true: they only claim to be true. The common feature of fact claims is that the speaker cannot directly check their validity. A persuasive speaker should provide arguments in favour of the presented claim, showing that it is probably true, or at least that it is more likely to be true than false.
Value claims are argumentative theses which are based on a qualifiable assumption. In other words, value claims are arguments, namely the claims about moral, aesthetic, or philosophical topic. They are arguable statements concerning the relative merits of something that can be measured subjectively. They are arguable due to the fact that the opinions of people about the criteria to evaluate an argument can be different. Different value claims may be used to prove the theses. Defending a value claim involves offering a set of criteria on which it is based, defending the set of criteria as legitimate, and showing how applying the criteria justifies the claim.
Policy claims are argumentative theses which are based on assumption about a necessary course of action. In other words, policy claims are arguments, namely the claims about an actionable topic. Those are the statements regarding the merits of one course of action as opposed to other courses of action, and they come out of the very need to act. To argue in defence of a policy claim is to state that, given the knowledge we have at the present time, it is best to act in the manner proposed rather than in some alternative way. (Baumback, 2012).
As I remarked in the Introduction, the practical classes in the Communication Skills module are founded on the educational approach which renowned Brazilian educator Paulo Freire actively promoted in the late 20th century. In short, it deals with a dialogical teaching method in work with students, in which the group alone chooses topics to address. Thus, the classes get relevance for the specific context of every single group of students, namely a high level of the class adjustment to the needs of students.
Given those grounds, we recommend students to choose on their own the topics to discuss in the Communication Skills classes. If you run out of inspiration, here follows a partial list of the topics that you can debate about.
Some debate topics
Should building a nuclear power plant be permitted in Zagreb?
Should cloning humans be allowed?
Should testing drugs and cosmetics on animals be permitted?
Should artificial insemination be allowed to women over 60?
Should same-sex couples be permitted to adopt children?
Should state bodies be allowed to read private emails?
Should we insist on the use of open-source software in educational institutions?
Should soft drugs be legalised?
Should abortion be legal?
Should parents be allowed to educate children at home?
Should higher education be free?
Should genetically modified crops be banned?
Should positive discrimination be legally imposed?
Should the people in the third age be accommodated in the family or in retirement homes?
Do we need special driving rules for young drivers?
Should prisoners be given the right to vote in elections?
Do we need religious education in Croatian schools?
Should Croatian Waters be privatised?
Should primary education be extended?
Should torturing the terrorists be permitted during interrogation?
Should retirement age be extended?
Should parents who do not educate their children be punished?
Should obese children be taken from their parents?
Should the secondary school pupils be tested on drugs?
Should the alcohol consumption age limit be raised?
Baumback, J. (2012). Fact, Value, Policy. Salinas: Hartnell College. Text available here.
International Debate Education Association (2012). Debatabase. International Debate Education Association. Available here.