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  #1  
Old 10-26-04, 11:42 PM
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Critera (i.e. Weighing Mechanisms)

I recently was in a debate, pulling out the timeless "Net Benefits" criteria during my PMC - nothing new at all. What was new was the strange feeling of disgust that wafted over me as I layed out my standard criteria for the round.

I have come to the realization that I am using the same old criteria over and over again, without necessarily understanding what they really are and mean, and what other options I might have available for me.

And so I figure it would be super advantageous for me (and possibly one or two other people out there) to start a thread inqiring as to what everyone's favorite criteria is, what it means, the philosophy behind it, and how it is used.

Anything you all can think of would be great. Please don't limit yourselves to just criteria for policy rounds. Fact and value criteria would be great as well.

Thanks,


Spanky
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Old 10-26-04, 11:44 PM
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Net Benefits. It subsumes all other values.
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Old 10-26-04, 11:49 PM
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Ergh. Joey, please, elaborate for me. Despite the fact that NB is one of my staple criterion, having someone else's perspective on the theory of the criteria and its potential use would be invaluable.

Thanks once again,


Spanky
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Old 10-26-04, 11:51 PM
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I like net benefits - it's my default position in all cases, unless the debaters convince me to use something else.

And let me make this clear, because I had this discussion with a few fellow critics this weekend - although it may be an economic theory, most people view CBA and NB as the same thing. I've actually seen a debate over which I should pick, without really laying out the differences.

As for what net benefits means to me, it means I look at the advantages v. the disadvantages - the body count if you will.

I did want to add that sometimes I look to the longer term implications. Sometimes it just comes down to the round. So I may ignore short term big impacts if I feel they are outweighed by larger impacts in the longer term.

I'm more than happy to consider another criterion, but this is my default.

Alan

Last edited by Alan : 10-26-04 at 11:52 PM.
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Old 10-26-04, 11:53 PM
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Net benefits allows for all values to come to bear on the decision making process. Certainly it looks at the 'body count', but it can also take into account other values, as well, like education, quality of life, social stability, and things like that.
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Old 10-26-04, 11:57 PM
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Kitty Utility.

I think that criteria is, honestly, the worst outmoded "do it for the sake of tradition with no rational reason" holdover in Parli debate outside of the Holy Topic Trinity and the teapot dance. Joey is right, "NB" does subsume all other values.

That being said, you can use other criteria strategically. Mainly by proposing a criteria which is effectively "Net benefits but ignoring ground I expect my opponent to win". For example, I frequently run "US utility" (or "NB from US perspective") as reason to do certain plans -- this essentially spikes out certain disadvantages. For example, its a good criteria to use on repeal-embargo-to-Cuba cases (against, obviously) -- it forces the negative to refute your criteria before they get to claim their starving Cubans advantage as an actual advantage.

My personal favorite trick is to use criteria which are suggested by the resolution ("treat this criteria like topicality"). Usually this comes from poorly worded resolutions, but I've seen "Resolved: X is better than Y" resolutions where one instance of a success of Y is sufficient for the resolution to be false. There was one like this on school reform last year ("Resolved: results based education funding must always fail")-- judge berated me soundly for this argument and then proceeded to vote on one of the twelve empirical examples we gave where it succeeded. Why call this criteria instead of topicality? Because I'm a tricky bugger -- you can sneak that criteria through at the bottom of case ("my criterial underview") and, depending on how it is answered, blow it up into mini-T or just cross apply it like crazy during the MO.

Patrick McKenzie
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Old 10-27-04, 09:11 AM
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even though people think there are other criterion there is but one: net benefits.
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Old 10-27-04, 09:21 AM
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Would anyone who used to do that silly activity known as high school LD :P like to weigh in on value criteria? Or was it value/criteria? I've judged it a dozen times and had it explained to me several others it was never entirely clear what that was all about. But it didn't seem WHOLLY without merit.

Wasn't there a day we all used to say "cost-benefit analysis" instead of "net benefits?" Am I old? I'm hoping the next generation of debaters just cuts to the chase and says, "Our criterion is: Whatever is good."

Andrea
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Old 10-27-04, 09:38 AM
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I'm hoping they cut to the chase and omit it entirely.

Patrick McKenzie
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Old 10-27-04, 10:01 AM
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You people who keep claiming that net benefits (aka utilitarianism) subsumes all other criteria need to go to your freshman philosophy professors and get your money back NOW. Utilitarianism does not subsume all other moral systems, in particular deontological moral imperatives (which, by definition override net-benefits/utilitarian calculations; deontology looks at motives and net-benefits looks at outcomes, so they are contradictory on another level too) and virtue ethics (which deal with conflicting moral imperatives in ways that may incorporate some utilitarian calculations but definitely cannot be subsumed by them).

Nonetheless, current debaters (it wasn't like this a mere 5 years ago) chant out the net-benefits-subsumes-all pimp in 75-90% of rounds, it seems. Yawn. I mean, aren't you people supposed to be, like, learning stuff? Why do you just kicking picking up and repeating each other's errors with sumg tones?



Since there is an obvious need for some remedial education here, I give everyone who has ever run the "net benefits subsumes all others" bunk a reading assignment:

Marcia Baron, Philip Petit, Michael Sloat. 1997. Three Methods of Ethics - A Debate: For and Against Consequences. Blackwell Press.

Read the whole book. And then read it again. And then hit yourself with it over the head until you forget all about net benefits subsuming anything except 12 spaces of typewritten text. And then if you run that again, remember that Catbert will force you to write 500 lines, "I will not butcher Patty's intellectual heritage." Or worse, force you to listen to A-Spec arguments.
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Old 10-27-04, 10:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by AhhAlegra
Would anyone who used to do that silly activity known as high school LD :P like to weigh in on value criteria? Or was it value/criteria?
Yup, sure can.

I was actually going to type in "talk to your favorite ex-LDer" anyway, but this is a nice lead-in to this discussion. I always used a value/criterion structure in LD. You have the value (obviously), and then you propose a weighing mechanism, i.e. a criterion, in order to weigh the competing claims in the round. A very common criterion is situational ethics. Other really common ones I saw in LD are: utilitarianism (Bentham or Mill), Marketplace of Ideas, deontology, teleology, categorical imperitive, social contract...the list just goes on and on. I guess the most important thing to understand is that any framework can be used as a criterion for a value round as long as some sort of standard can be argued for within it.

P.S. That silly activity always helps out whenever someone decides to be clever and run a value case on me.
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Old 10-27-04, 10:37 AM
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I'll weigh in bit on criteria (the proper plural, criterion is singular)

First I think it is a mistake to presume that NB is superior to all others. NB allows for an ease of discourse, in that it translates nicely for those that did policy debate, but it is by no means the best.

If you agree with me that the purpose for debate is not the search for truth or even your own edification, but rather to WIN A COMPETITION, then the superior criterion is whichever one places you in the best position to WIN. Why choose NB, a crit, which almost always plays straight away into the opp strategy of pimping your solvency and running a dis-ad.

My second concern with peoples prespective on NB is that it does not weigh in well with K. If the criterion is NB, ie the ad's vs. da's of the plan, how then does any pre-fiat implication on K enter into the discourse and interact with my ballot. No one ever explains this well and it causes me to drop K after K.

So here are some counter-criterion which I would suggest that you each consider.

First, Just-War-Theory. If your proposing military action argue that it is just and the opp burden is to argue, within JWT, that the action is unjust. If everyone knows what they are talking about, and as well-read college students I should hope that you do, a very interesting debate insues with plenty of opp. ground. If you want to know more about this philosophy PM me and I will send you a bib.

Second, how about just recrafting the crit. as Patrick suggests. Its not slimey in anyway, if the opp. chooses to remain silent its thier loss. Remember the ballot says, 'In my opinion the better debating was done by....' If the opp gets shafted by the criterion and is too stupid to change it, who do you think will get rewarded on the ballot?

Third, I always liked a criterion that begs for a Counterplan. For example if the Round is on the flat tax, I might propose a criterion of 'wht system of taxation best provides for the fiscal needs of the federal government'. Obviously this begs for a CP as, unless opp. is Greenspan, defending the status quo might be kinda tough.

Fourth, look at Plato's Republic, there are a million good criteria in there, as the book is essentially about how one forms a government and how the government should go about making policy. I thin plato would reject NB on face, but I will leave it to you to read and make your own conclusions.

I've got tons of crit which I could run, I would encourage each of you to take the time and think of them, and understand who they can be effectivly used to shape the round in a manner that is benifical to you, ie you win more.

Brian Mathey
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  #13  
Old 10-27-04, 11:33 AM
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"You people" who think net benefits is utilitarianism, stop insulting people's intelligence.

Above, I provide clear justification for how net-benefits can take into account concerns beyond body count. In fact, if in the course of the debate, someone convinces us why, say, art matters more than lives (not wholly untenable, as we're all going to die), more power to you. As I've expressed multiple times in multiple places my express dissatisfation with the consequentialist nature of people in America, it would be somewhat surprising if I supported utilitarianism.

--Joey

[edit: all below here is new]

I posted before I read Jason's post. Dude, chill man.

Quote:
Originally posted by NiceJason
Claiming net benefits subsumes all other values is philisophically unsound. Utilitarianism does not subsume all other moral systems, in particular deontological moral imperatives (which, by definition override net-benefits/utilitarian calculations; deontology looks at motives and net-benefits looks at outcomes, so they are contradictory on another level too) and virtue ethics (which deal with conflicting moral imperatives in ways that may incorporate some utilitarian calculations but definitely cannot be subsumed by them).

I'm glad Spanky brought up this thread, because it allows us to have an educational conversation about the criterion in debate. If someone is interested in further reading on the subject, check out Marcia Baron, Philip Petit, Michael Sloat. 1997. Three Methods of Ethics - A Debate: For and Against Consequences. Blackwell Press.

--Nice Jason
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Old 10-27-04, 11:52 AM
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So if "net benefits" is allowed to include all of the above - then isn't it a meaningless and completely useless term? Why say it if it doesn't actually mean anything? Because it is rather obvious, imo, that "net benefits" doesn't really provide a very usefull tool for measuring impacts, I think it is used to signify something else: that the judge is being asked to don a type of policy maker paradigm in judging the round. Net benefits doesn't provide any useful information at all in terms of providing an actual criteria for measuring good and bad - but it's place in debate seems to be more of a call on the judge to not act as a stock-issues, hypo-tester, tab ra, comm, games theory, or any other type of judge, but to act as a policy maker weighing costs against benefits (both utilitarian and deontological) and making a decision.

As a mechanism for the actual weighing of the costs and benefits, "net benefits" is a meaningless catch-phrase.

J
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Old 10-27-04, 11:59 AM
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I agree with Jake. I think it's the job of the debaters in the last two rebuttals to put some meaning into net benefits by explaining what I should weigh, how much I should weigh it, and in what order. All to often, debaters fail to do this and I'm left to weigh on my own. I like to think I'm pretty good at it, but sometimes people can disagree.

For instance, above I talked about the timeframe of weighing. I was on the bottom of a 2-1 a couple weeks ago because I took the long-term view and the other critics took the short-term view. I can't say they were wrong because neither team told us which view to take. I could have very easily gone the other way.

So please, debaters reading this thread, remember that it's not just enough to say "net benefits" and "we've got the bigger impact." Otherwise, you're just hoping I agree with you rather than convincing me that you're right.

Alan
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Old 10-27-04, 11:59 AM
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It's policymaker+. NB includes Ks and Value objections/benefits. It would eschew things like jurisdiction, probably. But yeah, whenever we run answers on criterion, we often talk about what a policymaker would do. And it does provide a useful mechanism: does the plan provide benefits? It stops things like PICs, for example.
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Old 10-27-04, 12:11 PM
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And.. since a good use of a crition is to focus the issues within the round, wouldn't it be a good idea to actually say what IS good within your Net Benefits crit?? Otherwise, as Jake says above... it is completely meaningless and a waste of your time and mine.

There are a plethora of ways to use crits to be more precise in your advocacy. IF you would like the round to be about what is or is not good economic policy concerning the poor, then find a crit that helps you narrow the focus of the round to that area of discussion.

Then... (gasp) use the crit to actually tell me why you win the round. Arguments that don't fall into the territory of the crit don't have any place in the round.

IF your opp accepts your crit, great.. they should only do so because they think that they too can win under it. IF they don't see a way to win under your crit, then they should argue for a replacement.

There used to be a time, not so long ago, that "top of case" meant more than just a dozen T arguments... crit is up there too... and getting lonely.

Employ a method of shock and awe in front of me, be creative with the crit... please.

Patty

ps, I'll share info I share before nearly every round--- namely, that if you are wrong on a point of philosophy and the other team does not catch you being wrong, then I won't base my RFD on that point.. you may get a multi-page ballot --but you won't lose the round on the wrong philosophy.

p
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Old 10-27-04, 12:24 PM
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or (GASP) (soooooo unnecessary) people use the criterion to focus the opposition (or affirmative) right out of the round. No thanks. And we *do* use the criterion to tell you why we win the round: we're net-beneficial, so we win. Or, if we're opp, either we're net-beneficial (fun to play with) or they're net-detrimental.

--Joey
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Old 10-27-04, 04:47 PM
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Joey,

Net-benefits is intrinsically consequentialist logic and cannot be stretched to incorporate non-consequentialist moral systems like deontology and virtue ethics no matter what. If you can't see the difference between consequentialism and non-consequentialism, you really DO need to get your freshman ethics course money back.

Your claim that it can be extended beyond body count is true, but non-responsive as the "extensions" you cite are just other types of consequentialist analyses.

Put it this way -- consequentialist logic says that if I can save 100 lives by murdering a baby, then murder the baby on "net benefits". Deontology, however, incorporates non-consequentialist logic about the intrinsic worth of human beings and/or virtue ethics cites the overriding imperative against the murder of innocents regardless of the benefits of doing so, and these considerations cannot be incorporated under your net benefits crit.

Now start writing lines and turn them in to Patty at the next tournament.
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Old 10-27-04, 05:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Catbert
Now start writing lines and turn them in to Patty at the next tournament.
I wasn't getting anything you said up until this point. Now I am enlightened.
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  #21  
Old 10-27-04, 05:44 PM
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To me, a net benefits criterion in debate says:

1) I promise to terminally impact and weigh arguments, since there isn't really a criterion to impact and weigh through.

2) Don't vote on a strict stock issue paradigm (for example, I can lose solvency but outweigh with turns on a disad). I suppose jake is right that it also rejects other judge paradigms.

So why not a value/criteria model or a specific criterion?

Well, it is a bit limiting, since it says that only impacts to that criterion matter. That seems limiting, though in some cases it may be worthwhile to argue that impacts within those limits outweigh all other impacts.

Other than that, it's the difference between putting the impact analysis at the beginning or at the end of the argument. Do I really care where it is? Not really, so long as it is done well.

So Spanky, you started the thread to ask what alternate criteria you may wish to use. Use whatever your entire case is impacting towards. A good example of a non net-benefits criterion is NPDA Nat Finals 2001 (Berkeley v Wyoming) which can be found at http://debate.uvm.edu/watchdebate.html but maybe I'm a bit biased on that one.

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Old 10-27-04, 08:07 PM
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why do we even establish a judging criterion in the first speech? Why not make the rebuttalists figure that out? I mean if the case is a comparative advantage case, it implies a Net-benefits criterion. Why do we waste the 15 seconds in the first speech to explain that? It seems to me when it comes right down to it N/B is purposefully left really vague so that the LOR says, "we win b/c we make life better" vs. the PMR "we win b/c we keep a million people from dying." It seems to me either one fits under the criterion, so why have it at all?

I also think that whenever someone runs a critique, they should be spending a little bit of time at the top establishing a framework, which is essentially a counter-criterion.
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Old 10-27-04, 08:10 PM
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I think impact weighing needs to start in the LO if your opp, otherwise gov gets all new answers.
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Old 10-27-04, 08:27 PM
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fair enough joey, but why does the PMC need to do any criterion stuff, especially when its just a blip anyway?
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Old 10-27-04, 08:33 PM
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Hat tip to Jake on the analysis of what NB practically means. Its overly broad (and almost meaningless), but yes, you can transform any debate in which there are two or more competing imperitives (i.e. anything but an ungodly blowout) into NB. Just war theory? "Death of innocents in Saddam Hussein's Iraq outweighs value of presumption in favor of peace". Blah blah blah. Deontology just means "NB but you assign the argument I'm winning a utility of infinity relative to the arguments I'm losing" (Hint! This is a strategically good idea! Use it!)

Oh, and always counteroffer ANY criteria they propose with net benefits as an alternative option. Why? If a competant team is speaking, they are making an offensive argument which they expect to be able to win on. Have you figured out how their criteria disadvantages you yet? No? Well, why wait until the MG/MO to be screwed by this? Get out your answer NOW -- "I think the criteria is overlimiting, as it excludes my pet impact X, which is clearly relevant to the question of passing plan. Here's why even a person who endorsed their criteria would prefer being able to weigh X under it" You can always revert to their criteria later, but advocating NB gives you a neutral bit of wiggle room to avoid screwage later.

For example, we once had a retrospective value debate about going into Iraq. Criteria was "just war theory" (by the way, blipping that is exactly as bankrupt as saying NB and moving on). I countered with NB, because I correctly predicted that the aff's interpretation of just war theory excluded war on the behalf of innocents in the defending country, and claimed that if their blippy JWT was justified by either Catholic theology or international law that considering all the relevant factors was essential to evaluating the justice. MG makes the "just war excludes Patrick's impacts" argument, proceeds to botch their own criteria, we crush.

Patrick McKenzie

[Edit: Dudley -- he doesn't, its a meaningless tradition, if you're going to talk about criteria at all it better be an offensive argument you expect to win with.]
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Old 10-27-04, 09:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dudley
fair enough joey, but why does the PMC need to do any criterion stuff, especially when its just a blip anyway?
It stops the neg from saying, "YOU DIDN'T SAY A CRITERION! OMG That means I get to define one, and I define the criterion as <anti-case benefits>."

Really, though, fundamentally I agree with you. Hence why I didn't disagree with that part of your post I think a policy paradigm implies net-benefits.

--Joey
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Old 10-27-04, 10:13 PM
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Depending on the structure of case, it could also be that each advantage is good in a different sort of way... so the first advantage could be good in a utilitarian sort of way, the second because it provides a particular kind of justice and the third because it respects individual autonomy --- SO, you could claim your ballot by saying that the good outweighs, and the good is three different KINDS of good.

Patty
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Old 10-28-04, 10:06 PM
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on the value/criteria idea... it's really very easy once it's been explained. a value is the philosophical goal held paramount in the round (oftentimes not even used in parli since policy style debate seems to be preferred). a criteria is one of two things: either it's a weighing mechanism or a vehicle used to get to your value. obviously, then, in most non-value oriented rounds, it's simply a weighing mechanism as to whether or not plan is better than the status quo/counterplan/whatever opp runs.
net benefits is used really commonly, and i think it's a good way to weigh out policy oriented rounds. i mean, you can do cost benefits analysis or competitive advantage, but i think those are just really others ways of saying "net benefits".
in agreeing with what patty says, i think that one of the reasons that parli debaters are hesitant to run values (along with the fact that 1. they don't know what they are, 2. they think that a criteria is the same thing and 3. they DEFINITELY don't get the relationship between the two) is that oftentimes all the advantages don't really have one core value-oriented advocacy. i mean, you could tie a lot of them together with "quality of life", but that tends to require adjusting all the economic impacts you've put on one advantage and explaining more about the implications of "improved foreign relations", along with, of course, explaining exactly why quality of life would be important.
while i think that not running values kind of forces debates to stray away from an overall unifying value concept, it also allows for more debate about the different areas of the impact of a policy, rather than simply limiting the debate to discussing the merits of the value (didn't that sound convincing? that comes from a year of debating with ex-policy kids...).

Last edited by maggster427 : 10-28-04 at 10:07 PM.
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Old 10-31-04, 01:28 PM
hunt hunt is offline
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net benefits

I think net benefits/cost benefits criteria mean practically nothing unless impacted/explained by the debaters in the round.
I think sophisticated debaters should very carefully consider their resolutional analysis both gov and opp. Part of this resolutional analysis should be establishing a weighing mechanism for evaluating the key issues/voting issues in the round. There are many ways to potentially evaluate the issues: utilitarianism, cost/benefits, ultimate values like life, liberty, justice, etc., by means of social contract or some such, etc.
If these weighting mechanisms/criteria are actually linked to the issues in the round, it makes it much easier for the judge/s to evaluate the round and render a "reasoned" decision.
Not having clear criteria is like not having clear definitions of key terms or phrases. It muddles the round and allows for much more judge intervention.
Steve Hunt
Lewis & Clark
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Old 10-31-04, 07:36 PM
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This idea that deontology and teleology are inherently opposing is, in my unqualified opinion, bunk. If one really believes in cause and effect, we see that the separation between "means" and "ends" is merely an illusion we all participate in. I understand the arguments for a non-consequentialist view of ethics, particularly the idea that the results of our actions are inherently not absolutely predictable. I also like the one that consequentialist ethics give too much weight to the way the world works in the SQ. But these arguments can be incorporated within a consequentialist mindset.

Jason, if you (or anyone else) believe that consequentialist and non-consequentialist thought cannot be harmonized on a theoretical level, could you elaborate on why? These appeals to authority are awfully hard to argue against. Perhaps you could further the discourse by elucidating what arguments these authors would use to rebut me?
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