Different forms of rebuttal

Rebuttal – constructive disagreement with what someone else has said in a debate or discussion – is a really important skill. Here are some different ways of going about it.

1. “We do not agree with that argument”


  • Point: “It is the government’s duty to protect people from themselves”
  • Rebuttal: “No, the government has the duty to protect people from outside dangers but people have the right to make their own decisions regarding their own behaviour as long as it doesn’t affect anybody else”

2. The basis of that argument is factually untrue”


  • Point: “We need to cut carbon emissions to prevent global warming”
  • Rebuttal: “Global warming is a natural phenomenon – there is no conclusive evidence to show that what man does will have any effect on climate change”

3. “The basis of your argument is logically flawed”


  • Point: “If we spend more money on education then people will get better exam results”
  • Rebuttal: “You haven’t shown us the link between education spending and exam results”

4. “Your argument does not work in reality”


5. “That argument is insignificant”/ “there are more important arguments”


  • Point: “Bringing back the death penalty would create jobs for executioners”
  • Rebuttal: “Very few jobs would be created and this is not a good enough justification for taking people’s lives”

6. “That argument is irrelevant”


  • Point: “We should have a minimum wage to uphold women’s right”
  • Rebuttal: “Women’s rights are irrelevant – the minimum wage affects men and women equally”

7. “That argument does not mean that your case is proven”


  • Point: “Prostitution is a serious problem (and therefore we should legalise it)”
  • Example: “Just because prostitution is a problem doesn’t mean we should legalise – you’ve failed to show how legalisation would make it better”

8. “That argument contradicts one of your other arguments”


  • Speaker 1: “Legalising drugs will make them more expensive as tax will be added”
    Speaker 2: “Legalising drugs will make them cheaper as dealers artificially inflate prices”
  • Rebuttal: “Your partner said drugs would become more expensive, you’re saying they would be come cheaper. Are you wrong or is she?”

9. “That argument is an assertion”


  • Point: “The more people who go to university the better”
  • Rebuttal: “That’s an assertion – why is it necessarily good for everyone to go to university”

10. “The example you used to back up your argument doesn’t work / is wrong”


  • Point: “Conflicts are more effective if they backed by the UN for example the Iraq war worked well because of UN backing”
  • Rebuttal: “The UN did not back the Iraq war”


NB 8, 9 and 10 are not enough in and of themselves and should be used in conjunction with one of 1-6.

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