Debate or debating is a formal method of interactive and representational argument. Debate is a broader form of argument than logical argument, which only examines consistency from axiom, and factual argument, which only examines what is or isn't the case or rhetoric which is a technique of persuasion. Though logical consistency, factual accuracy and some degree of emotional appeal to the audience are important elements of the art of persuasion, in debating, one side often prevails over the other side by presenting a superior "context" and/or framework of the issue, which is far more subtle and strategic.
In a formal debating contest, there are rules for people to discuss and decide on differences, within a framework defining how they will interact. Informal debate is a common occurrence, the quality and depth of a debate improves with knowledge and skill of its participants as debaters. Deliberative bodies such as parliaments, legislative assemblies, and meetings of all sorts engage in debates. The outcome of a debate may be decided by audience vote, by judges, or by some combination of the two. (Of course, this implies that facts are based on consensus, which is not factual.) Formal debates between candidates for elected office, such as the leaders debates and the U.S. presidential election debates, are common in democracies.
The major goal of the study of debate as a method or art is to develop one's ability to play from either position with equal ease.
Debates are sometime organized for purely competitive purposes, particularly at the US high-school level, but also in other English-speaking countries.