Normally between 10 and 20 members attend each debate – enough for a variety of opinion but small enough for everyone to actively take part if they wish to. Some people are happy just to listen for much of the debate.
There is sometimes a dinner at about 6.30pm during which people can get to know each other or catch up. The point of this, apart from just being enjoyable and pleasant, is that sitting down and eating together tends to make people much more inclined to treat each other in a dignified and respectful way. Of course, people may still argue passionately about a topic they feel strongly about but if they have had a meal together they are more inclined to treat the person who disagrees with them as a human being.
At the beginning of the debate there is a round of introductions and each person states whether they are for or against the particular motion of the day and why. The main part of the debate is a free-flowing discussion on the topic, with a system of raising hands and turn-taking if there are too many people wanting to speak at once. At the end of the debate, each member of the group again states if they are in favour of the motion or against – describing why they have either changed their mind or stuck to the same position. Sometimes the group ends with a show of hands to indicate if the motion has been carried.
The debate lasts for about an hour and half and people often stay for drinks at the end.
The South Liverpool Debating Society
Fortnightly in-person groups at Keith’s Wine Bar in Lark Lane
The Dnipro Debating Society
Fortnightly online groups with occasional in-person debates (when the situation allows)
The societies are linked by the same format and summaries of debates in each of the groups will be published in the Critical Friend Newsletter. Please subscribe (either for free or paid) to support the network. The motions for the debates will sometimes be shared across all the groups, which will further link the societies together and provide interesting points of comparison.