Warrant Debating- A short example

It’s important that you debate the warrants within evidence and not the tags to the evidence. For example, “free trade solves war” could be the tag to a piece of evidence, but it would be wrong to assume that every card with this tag makes the same argument. While interdependence is certainly a major warrant for this argument it is not necessarily the only one, and to assume it is would be a blunder.

So let’s look at an example I see in a lot of debates. One side has an econ impact and so reads a trusty Mead card. What is the warrant in these cards? Think about it before reading on.

The other side, wanting to read impact defense (a generally good impulse) pulls out a frontline and reads some cards at random. Usually this means they end up reading a Bennet and Nordstrom card. Think about that- what is the warrant in this evidence?

Has anyone figured out why this is a mismatch?

The warrant in the mead (at least 92,98, and 09) evidence is essentially that economic decline allows crazy ultra nationalist leaders to come to power who will wage aggressive wars a la Hitler. The Bennet and Nordstrom article (or at least the parts usually read)deconstructs the theory of diversionary war, the idea that a rational policy maker would start a war to distract the populous from economic troubles.  In other words, these 2 pieces of evidence aren’t really discussing the same people/scenarios.

Generally when I evaluate a debate like this as a judge the debaters have not done a lot of work to compare these kind of disparate claims.  So as a judge I can do a few things

1. Say that the Mead side should have pointed out the other card did not directly refute their warrant and therefore act as if it applied and decide decline does not likely cause war because that evidence is better

2. Say the no war side did not read an applicable card since it does not address the Mead warrant and give the Mead side full weight of their impact

3. Decide these cards somehow cancel each other out to some degree and assign the Mead team some percentage risk of their impact.

Which one of these 3 the judge does will obviously have a huge effect on the decision- why would you want to leave it up to them to decide?

A side note on variance- there is a lot of variance at tournaments. What I mean by this is that how tough of team you hit, how good of judges you get, how many breaks go in your favor etc. is all out of your control and can vary greatly from tournament to tournament. A lot of teams who are on the cusp of being good enough to clear can be helped/hurt by a lot of variance at a particular tournament. Better debate teams are affected by variance a lot less. Many debaters who aren’t very good (or are bitter) often attribute this continued consistent success to “rep”. In reality a much stronger reason for their success is that these better teams are subtly doing things that counter act variance- they are making the comparisons that take these variance adding elements out of the hands of the judge by doing it themselves. Just a few of these can make or break an entire debate, so being able to identify the places where they can be deployed and then deploying them can be very important.