View Full Version : An amendment to promote clash in debates
12-01-02, 06:46 PM
An amendment to Bylaw XIII: Tournament rules. Rules of Debating and Judging. Section 2. Objective of the debate.
Current Text: The opposition must oppose the resolution and/or the proposition team's case. If, at the end of the debate, the judge believes that the proposition team has supported and successfully defended the resolution, they will be declared the winner; otherwise the opposition will be declared the winner.
Proposed change: The opposition must oppose the proposition team's case. If, at the end of the debate, the judge believes that the proposition team has supported and successfully defended the resolution, as reasonably interpreted, they will be declared the winner; otherwise the opposition will be declared the winner.
Justification: These changes will promote clash in the debate. The curent language presumes a resolution existing independently of its interpretation by the proposition team. The proposed language change suggests that the resolution does not have a fixed meaning prior to contextualization by the proposition team. In addition, the changes promote clash by directing opposition argument to the proposition case rather than to a different understanding or interpretation of the resolution. As any statement may have myriad reasonable interpretations, as well as other interpretations that are contradictory, foolish, or maniacal, the claim that the opposition could debate any of these, rather than the presumable sensible position advanced by the proposition team in a debate, undermines the purpose of adversarial argumentation.
12-01-02, 07:14 PM
I have serious problems with this language:
1) Again, the tag. This one is exceedingly vague and pre-judging. Further, it is solely rhetorical, devoid of descriptive content.
2) The justification assumes "parametrics" analysis AS A GIVEN. Now, debaters should be free to argue in favor of parametrics interpretations and judges should be open to these arguments, but "parametrics" interpretation is not without controversy and should not be imposed by rule.
3) The rule would prohibit counterwarrants in a BLANKET fashion. While this may be appropriate in "policy" rounds (where the case selection will almost always provides adequate Opp ground), it may be very problematic in "value" or "fact" rounds. Indeed, many judges would interpret this language as prohibiting the Opp from challenging the Gov value/criterion in "value" rounds or presenting any independent counter-examples in "fact" rounds. The ground skew and potential for abuse would be theoretically enormous.
I think it is better to leave this language as-is and allow the debaters to argue over what standards are appropriate.
12-01-02, 08:11 PM
It failed unanimously at the meeting, even after a friendly amendment I offered.
12-01-02, 08:47 PM
In spite of the failure of amendments, I think it is still important to have discussions of those that seem likely to be resubmitted. And I've never known John Meany to give up easily. :)
12-01-02, 09:36 PM
What do we think of counterwarrants in reference to policy? I distinctly remember a round against Kyle and Ian from CC -- with Jason in the back of the room, no less -- in which we contextualizes a resolution into a policy, and in which Kyle argued against by offering alternate interpretations of the resolution which were bad. Jason's decision relied specifically on the wording which John's amendment attempts to abolish. According to the current rules, that's a completely legitimate tactic, and it's the abuse of that tactic that John worries about when describing the "foolish" and "maniacal" possibilities" opened up by the current wording.
Forget how this would be codified for a sec; ought this be a legitimate opposition tool for policy debates?
12-01-02, 09:41 PM
I think it depends on the arguments from the debaters. I think the rule as written establishes a presumption that it is a legitimate Opp tactic but that presumption (like much in the rules) is open to the debaters to reinterpret and justify.
I don't remember that round well except to note that you are at least largely correct in your depiction of the RFD. But I note your own language that it is not the tactic itself that is the problem but the "abuse" of that tactic. This implicitly grants that there is no real need for a rule change since "abuse" can be argued by the debaters in the absence of a rule change.
I think most judges are intellectually capable of hearing arguments as to why a rule should be interpreted differently depending on the situation in the round...
12-01-02, 09:58 PM
Do we reject the concept of a government "right to define," then? Because I'm not sure what's left to it if, even when the proposition team interprets the resolution fairly, the opposition can oppose a different interpretation of the resolution. I think the amendment is intended to protect the right of the government to center the debate and have a discussion on one issue, without having to deal with alternate interpretations.
The underlying problem the amendment seeks to address is that of a rigged game, wherein the opposition gets to pick what they oppose. This has always seemed unfair, and the amendment attempts to preclude it from happening by guaranteeing that the government picks what is talked about (within the bounds, of course, of the resolution).
12-01-02, 10:44 PM
No, we don't reject the "right to define" but we do subject it to a test of fairness. If the "right to define" is used so as to overlimit Opp ground, then Opp has a pretty persuasive argument as to why counterwarrants should be accepted in that particular round.
If, however, the Gov has left plenty of ground for Opp, then the Opp seems to have little justification for any attempt to appeal to counterwarrants in the search for ground.
The specifics, of course, are left to the debaters in round.
You see, the "rigged game" is hardly an Opp only phenomenon. I've seen some pretty abusive Gov cases in my time. And I would prefer a redress (like counterwarrants) that maintains a debate instead of direct judge voting on the claim of "abuse". When "abuse" is an absolute voting issue intervention reigns supreme. It is better to have "abuse" become a justification for innovative ground redistribution instead.
12-01-02, 10:49 PM
I don't think there is an intrinsic, universal "government right to define." Nor do I think counterwarrants are always legitimate. Like many things, it's situational.
For example. If the rez is "Hey, change something" and the opp runs counterwarrants about how banning Title IX is a really bad idea, I think there's a legitimate govt argument that they can't defend the whole rez here. So let the MG make it.
But if the resolution is "G.W. Bush is right about Iraq," and the gov's case is a 7-minute explanation of how GW knows exactly where Iraq is on a map and who their leader is and the UN resolution numbers which apply to it, then there is probably room for the opp to say "Granted, but he's wrong about many other, more important things with regard to Iraq."
Because it's situational, the amendment seems to cut a fairly wide berth. Let the debaters work it out. Taken to logical ends, it could even exclude T from the opposition toolbox, as that is not opposing the "case" but rather the government's interpretation of the resolution, which the amendment seems to legislate as always being correct.
Why make rules about this at all?
12-01-02, 11:26 PM
I agree with a lot of what you say, Ian. I would just say, because this is something that came up in the business meeting as well, I think, that the amendment was never meant to eliminate T, and the interjection of "as reasonably interpreted" is in there specifically to retain topicality as a mode of argument.
Beyond that, I think that that standard of "as reasonably interpreted" creates the burden for the opposition, if they want to provide counterwarrants, to show that the government has failed to offer an interpretation reasonable to the resolution. Your Iraq is certainly right, in that it doesn't really matter that Bush knows where Iraq is on the map. (Counter, incidentally: take away his piece of paper and we'll see whether he knows the Security Council resolutions) But if the gov interpreted it to argue a more contentious, yet limited version -- that is, that the Bush administration is right to engage them multilaterally, rather than unilaterally -- that still seems perfectly debatable and perhaps a more focused debate. It also might make debate more varied: rather than debating all of Iraq every tournament, we might see more nuanced yet still very relevant issues debated.
Eagle of Meaux
12-02-02, 12:28 AM
I side with Ian and Jason on this one. While I think counter warrants are almost always a terrible way to debate I solidly believe that that issue ought be one for the debaters to argue out in the round. Thatís what we have debate theory for. I personally think the all the rules ought define is that one team must take each side, speeches should be a certain length, Certain points may be made at certain times, and that the judge must vote for the team which presents the superior argumentation and give speaker points according to ability. The more thatís open to the debatersí discursion, and the fewer ďrulesĒ that judges and competitors think they can appeal to without justification (3 PoIs anyone?) the better.
12-02-02, 08:15 AM
I would be interested in your comments regardnig the NPTE rules (http://npte.debateaddict.com/npte_debate_rules.html).
12-02-02, 08:32 AM
I fail to see how this promotes clash. I'm sure we've all been in rounds where, even if it's all on-case or off-case debate, the debaters are speaking past each other. This resolution does not solve for "two ships passing in the night."
12-02-02, 08:51 AM
I think this as well as at least one of the other proposals would be improved by removing the "power tagging" on the title. It appears that the author is using the titles to try to assert conclusions about the desirability of the proposal. Its wierd enough when Congress does that garbage and we really don't need to model Congress in NPDA....
12-02-02, 09:57 AM
I think that the rule discussed should remain as is, simply because it allows for a wider variety of acceptable argumentation... with a correlating higher risk for gov should they choose to debate the resolution.
Placing all of your argumentation eggs in one basket, on opp, seems to be risky -- as many judges would then place an equal burden to disprove the resolution on the opp ---
If this were a common practice, I'd be a little more concerned that we are heading into LD neg case land... but as is, it is an interesting option for debate -- and perhaps an interesting challenge for opp.
12-02-02, 02:06 PM
Given the preponderance (dominance, actually, at least in this region) of very rigid "res of fact" ways of thinking, I think counterwarrants are not only allowable but necessary for the Opp.
If the Opp ground were to be constrained by a rule against counterwarrants on a "res of fact" case, the Opp would then be prohibited from bringing up examples that work to disprove the "res of fact" and would be required, by rule, to only argue the examples provided by the Gov. The ground skew would be massive.
12-02-02, 02:20 PM
I think the difference there is that in a res of fact, the "case" to be opposed is the contention that a fact exists. In that case, counterwarrants aren't being proposed to the resolution, but to the case itself, thus being legitimate within the amendment (which at no point uses the word counterwarrant).
12-02-02, 05:48 PM
At the point that the rules explicitly require that the Opposition only oppose the "Government case" I have no doubt that there will be many judges that WILL interpret it as prohibiting the use of counter-examples in "res of fact" debates. Unfortunately, I have had extensive recent experience in seeing how rigidly some judges apply perceived limitations on the "correct" way to interpret "res of fact".
Eagle of Meaux
12-02-02, 10:01 PM
I think they are excelntly done. I have a few comments on a few parts of them:
"3. Normative values and/or evaluative criteria may be offered either explicitly or implicitly. Explicit presentation of a value or criterion shall not be a required "prima facie" part of a Government case.
4. Government interpretations of the resolution should reflect a fair division of ground. Specifically, government interpretations should not be framed in such a way as to force the opposition to oppose well-established facts (i.e. physical realities), to embrace overtly racist, sexist, or otherwise discriminatory positions, or to uphold a value that is tautological with the resolution or with the Government case."
I really donít think this is necessary, I personally agree with it, but I think it should be hashed out within a round.
If I read the Point of Order and Point of Personal Privilege sections correctly time is not stopped. Is this correct?
"H. Evidence. With the exception of these "NPTE Rules for Debating and Judging", debaters may not use quoted evidence or "cards" in rounds. Debaters may cite statistics or sources for facts or definitions, but such factual citations should not be the sole basis upon which an argument rests. Debaters should rely upon their own analysis as the primary basis for arguments."
Vague, but understandably so. How many words do i ahve to cite for it to be a "card" of evidence and thus prohibited, or am I missing the standard.
"I. Specific Knowledge. The basis for arguments should lie within the accessible realm of any reasonably well-educated person. Debaters who desire to present obscure or detailed information should be prepared to explain, in detail, the context of such information and its relationship to broader issues. Judges should exclude as "specific knowledge" only information that lies outside the accessible realm of a reasonably well-educated person and is challenged as such by opposing debaters. Judges should limit their consideration of information as narrowly as possible to exclude only those claims that are so specific or inaccessible as to be impossible to discuss without quoted evidence. The accessibility of the information and the debatability of the claim within the round shall be the critical issue, not lack of prior knowledge on the part of debaters or judges."
Hmmm. Does this mean that only information that a reasonably well educated person could not possibly access is off limits? If so spiffy, if not could you explain further please?
All in all, spiffy.
12-02-02, 11:55 PM
npte rules are a fantastic subject for discussion of course, but I thought we were suppsoed to try to stay on topic here.
I think the tag is biased. Most tags (and voter's descriptions) are. I also dont' think it tells us as much about the amendment as I would have liked to have known, perhaps a bit more information about what it does, not what its goals are, would have been helpful.
I dont' like that it makes "reasonability" the main justification for a legit interpretation of the debate. Generally, my instinct is to look to reasonability first, but I'm also open to hearing other standards, like education, b-l, and grammatical integrity. To insert our own biases as to the best standard to be used (and I believe that that would happen, when encoded like this) is risky and adds yet more limitations to some of the interesting roads debates can take us down, like 8 minutes of T if need be, or like counterwarrants proving how the gov's case is not a representative warrant for the res (which is, I think, the best way to argue coutnerwarrants)
More later. . .maybe. . .too much holiday retail. People!!!! Quit buying so much SHIT!
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