Definitions

controversialists

Controversy

[kon-truh-vur-see; Brit. also kuhn-trov-er-see]
A controversy or dispute is a commencement of a conflict between statements of accepted fact and a new or unaccepted proposal that disagrees with, argues against, or debates the accepted knowledge or opinion. Controversies can range in scope from private disputes between two individuals to large-scale disagreements between societies.

The term originates in c.1384, from Latin controversia, as a composite of controversus "turned in an opposite direction", from contra- "against" and versus (see verse).

Perennial areas of controversy include religion, philosophy and politics. Controversy in matters of theology has traditionally been particularly heated, giving rise to the phrase odium theologicum. Controversial issues are held as potentially divisive in a given society, because they can lead to tension and ill will. Some controversies are considered taboo to many people, unless a society can find a common ground to share and discuss its people's feelings on a certain controversial issue.

Benford's law of controversy, as expressed by science-fiction author Gregory Benford in 1980, states "Passion is inversely proportional to the amount of real information available."

In law

In the theory of law, a controversy differs from a legal case; while the latter includes all suits, criminal as well as civil, a controversy is a purely civil proceeding.

For example, the Case or Controversy Clause of Article Three of the United States Constitution (Section 2, Clause 1) states that "the judicial Power shall extend ... to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party". This clause has been deemed to impose a requirement that United States federal courts are not permitted to hear cases that do not pose an actual controversy—that is, an actual dispute between adverse parties which is capable of being resolved by the court. In addition to setting out the scope of the jurisdiction of the federal judiciary, it also prohibits courts from issuing advisory opinions, or from hearing cases that are either unripe, meaning that the controversy has not arisen yet, or moot, meaning that the controversy has already been resolved.

Amount in controversy is a term in United States civil procedure to denote a requirement that persons seeking to bring a lawsuit in a particular court must be sue for a certain minimum amount before that court may hear the case.

A dispute can be resolved through litigation or alternative dispute resolution like mediation or arbitration.

In early Christianity

Many of the early Christian writers, among them Irenaeus, Athanasius, and Jerome, were famed as "controversialists"; they wrote works against perceived heresy or heretical individuals, works whose titles begin "Adversus..." such as Irenaeus' Adversus haereses. The Christian writers inherited from the classical rhetors the conviction that controversial confrontations, even over trivial matters, were a demonstration of intellectual superiority. See Christian theological controversy.

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