Logical Decision-Making: In Defense of Harrigan's "Judge Choice" Theory

[T]o say that representations matter—insofar as [they] determine/influence policy outcomes—says little or nothing about which justifications should be used for policymaking. The representations presented by the 1AC that are justifications for action, instead of outcomes of the plan are neither mandatory nor inevitable outcomes of voting Aff.

Thus, the judge, at the end of the debate, should be able to choose (for themselves) why to vote Aff or Neg. Logically, one can choose the best arguments from the set of available reasons presented in the debate. Not every 1AC justification needs to be part of the final “package” of voting Aff. If one or more representations for voting for the plan is undesirable, they should not be used. If, at the end of the debate, positive/beneficial justifications for acting remain, the plan is desirable and the Aff should win.

With that, University of Georgia Debate Coach Casey Harrigan has levied a fundamental challenge to the theoretical viability of representational critique as currently conceptualized in academic policy debate. This article will defend Harrigan’s “judge choice” theory against the attacks of its critics and thereby contribute to the developing theoretical literature about representational critique.

Before examining “judge choice” and the criticisms that have been wrested upon it by critics, it is important to first clarify the target of Harrigan’s theory. In his initial article, Harrigan defines “representational critique” as “any argument that takes issue with justification for action that is not necessarily tied to outcome of action.” In other words, a critique of representations contests the accuracy, desirability, or ethics of one or more of the reasons that the affirmative has advanced to support a policy proposal but not the policy proposal itself.

Popular examples of this genre of argument (“Reps Ks”) include critiques of the way that a team or its authors describe terrorism, proliferation, nuclear weapons, global warming, or the environment. Indeed, the list of possible targets of representational critique is as long as the list of arguments that the affirmative can advance as justifications for the adoption of their plan.

Harrigan is critical of the way in which these representational critiques are currently debated. In practice, debates involving these arguments typically occur as follows:

The affirmative proposes a change in policy by the United States federal government. To support the necessity and desirability of this change, the first affirmative constructive outlines several reasons that the course of action they have proposed would avoid catastrophic consequences or accrue beneficial advantages.

In response, the negative criticizes one or more of the reasons that the affirmative has advanced to support the adoption of their plan. Even if the plan is desirable when compared with the status quo, the negative will argue, one or more of the ways that the affirmative chose to justify the plan has harmful consequences that ought to be rejected by the judge-critic.

The affirmative, faced with this objection to one or more of their representations, will respond with three basic strategies:

  1. Defend the representation that the negative has criticized. This is the most straight-forward and least controversial of the possible affirmative responses to a representational critique.

  2. Offer a permutation that calls for the passage of the plan but the rejection of the undesirable/harmful representation(s).

  3. Contend that the plan should be the focus of the debate, not the representations used to support its enactment.

These latter two affirmative responses are met with a predictable negative rejoinder centered around the importance of representations to the process of policymaking and the outcome of policy change. Moreover, the negative will assert that the affirmative must defend all of the representations they have advanced in support of their plan because their failure to do so constitutes “severance”.

It is here that Harrigan’s “judge choice” theory contests the orthodoxy surrounding the practice of representational critique.

The judging community, unfortunately, has imported the logic of counterplan competition and ascribed to the dogma that every representation forwarded by the 1AC must be featured in a final evaluation of the plan – with little attendant reasoning for why this must be the case. … [I]mporting the theory of CP competition into these debates is a clear misapplication of the term. “Severance” implies an initial attachment—that the plan initially required that certain justifications be used for acting. In other words, the Neg assumes that the Aff had said that voting for the plan mandates that certain representations be used. … This is false. … [J]ustifications for action are frequently disconnected from outcome. … In this way, representations are different than, say, a policy advantage to the plan.

Elevating the representational critique to the status of a voting issue relies on a decision-making methodology that is inconsistent with that used by judges to evaluate other types of arguments. Critics of “judge choice” have argued that it is illegitimate for a judge to decide for themselves whether or not to consider one or more of the justifications presented by the affirmative to support their plan. While this discomfort with perceived “intervention” is well intentioned, it does not comport with the way in which judges resolve other types of debates.

For example, the affirmative may extend four responses to a disadvantage in their final rebuttal: it is not intrinsic, it does not link to the plan, the case outweighs the impact, and it is empirically denied. When evaluating this debate, the judge should consider each of these responses and determine whether they are sufficient to defeat the disadvantage. If the judge determines that the affirmative’s intrinsicness response is theoretically illegitimate, for example, s/he moves on to consider the affirmative’s contestation of the link. The intrinsicness response, because it has been defeated by the negative, is no longer a relevant argument for the judge to act upon when making their decision.

In the same way, the representational critique functions to persuade the judge that one or more of the justifications that the affirmative has presented ought not be considered as a reason to enact the plan.

In response, critics will appeal to the harm that has been done by the initial presentation itself of the affirmative’s contested justification. If the negative wins that the way the affirmative represented terrorism is racist, for example, ought not the affirmative lose for adopting a racist stance?

It is here that critics wrongly equate the theory of “judge choice” with the theory of “plan focus”. The latter theory requires that judges exclude consideration of the representations that have been offered to support the adoption of a policy proposal from their evaluation of the debate. “Judge choice,” on the other hand, accepts the necessity of representational critique but prescribes a mechanism for determining its relevance from the perspective of a logical decision-maker.

The crucial distinction, then, is between plan focus and policy relevance. When presented with multiple justifications for a policy change, a logical decision-maker can choose which of these justifications compels them to support or oppose the advocate’s proposal. If the decision-maker concludes that a policy change is warranted because of justification A, the undesirability or even harmfulness of justifications B and C ought not dissuade him or her from endorsing the change. The degree to which justifications B and C are bad ought not factor into the evaluation of justification A unless justifications B and/or C are intrinsic to the policy proposal.

This logic can be clearly applied to representational critiques. If the judge concludes at the end of the debate that the policy proposed by the affirmative ought to be enacted based on justification A, s/he should choose to endorse it based exclusively on justification A—justifications B and C are not part of the judge’s reasoning for voting affirmative. As such, the harmfulness of justifications B and C is not relevant to the judge’s endorsement of the plan.

Again, this view of the judge’s decision is consistent with the way that decisions are viewed in other circumstances. Returning the disadvantage example above, the undesirability of the affirmative’s intrinsicness response is not part of the judge’s reasoning when s/he decides to reject the disadvantage because the affirmative has won that it is empirically denied. When the judge articulates his or her decision, s/he does not reference the intrinsicness response: “I voted affirmative because the disadvantage is empirically denied”. Disputing this decision because the affirmative’s intrinsicness response is undesirable does not make sense.

In the same way, a judge evaluating a debate involving a representational critique can (and would) explain their decision in a way that is not reliant on the flawed justifications that the negative has indicted. “I voted affirmative because the plan is justified for reason A” cannot be logically disputed by arguing that reasons B and C are incorrect, undesirable, or unethical.

In order for the representational critique to become a reason to vote negative, the critics of “judge choice” need to establish the veracity of f two underlying decision-making assumptions:

  1. The judge’s decision must account for every justification advanced by the affirmative. In other words, once an utterance is made, it cannot be discarded from the judge’s deliberation.

  2. The harm done by the voicing of the objectionable representation is sufficient to disregard consideration of the plan’s desirability.

The first assumption results in illogical decision-making. Harrigan explains:

The debate judge should be treated like an intelligent and dynamic policy-maker. The affirmative should forward a proposal with a set of justifications. The Neg can criticize (via DAs, a counterplan, a K, etc.) the plan or the justifications. If the Neg wins that the plan is a bad idea, they win. If the Neg wins that the justification is bad, then the judge should reject that justification and determine whether the plan is a good idea for any other potential reason.

It is not logical to reject a policy proposal on the grounds that it could be supported by an inaccurate or undesirable justification. This model of decision-making does not comport with the way that individuals make everyday decisions.

For example, a friend could propose that you attend a baseball game with him. To convince you that this is a good idea, he could argue that attending the game will accrue three benefits: (1) it will be fun, (2) it will allow you to get enjoy delicious ballpark fare, and (3) it will allow you to throw batteries at the opposing team’s right-fielder.

Being a reasonable, law-abiding, and non-violent person, you take issue with the third justification that your friend has offered to convince you to attend the game: you have no desire to throw batteries at the opposing team’s right fielder (Sammy Sosa has retired, after all) and indeed you think that this very idea is morally heinous.

Nonetheless, you agree with your friend’s first and second arguments (it will be fun and there will be good food), so you decide to agree to attend the game with him for those reasons but not for the third reason (throwing batteries).

In order for the very presentation of the third reason to become a reason not to attend the game, it must be the case that throwing batteries at the opposing right-fielder is intrinsic to attendance at the game. If it is, then the benefits of attending the game might be outweighed by the disadvantages of attending and you might decide not to take your friend up on his offer.

Most representational critiques do not raise objections that are intrinsic to the plan’s adoption. To use one of Harrigan’s examples, the affirmative might propose to disarm the United States’ nuclear arsenal in order to accrue two advantages: proliferation and biodiversity. If the negative critiques the way the affirmative represents the environment within their biodiversity advantage, they have not advanced a criticism that is intrinsic to U.S. disarmament. If the negative wins their argument—that the way the affirmative represents environmental harms is undesirable/harmful—then the judge should not consider the biodiversity advantage as a reason to endorse the plan. The judge could still choose to endorse the plan, however, because it would accrue the benefit outlined by the proliferation advantage.

It is illogical, then, to consider a representational critique as a reason to reject the plan if other reasons to endorse the plan have been presented.

This, then, requires the advocate of the “judge choice” theory to address the second underlying assumption of critics: that the harm done by the voicing of the objectionable representation is sufficient to disregard consideration of the plan’s desirability.

Harrigan addresses this argument by framing it as a reactionary move:

Interestingly, the contrary position—that you should hold speakers to every reason they cite as justification and use it to assess their policy—is one of the most reactionary and anti-critical stances one could take. It prioritizes who speaks over what is spoken about. It ignores content for form. It punishes instead of compromises. And, fundamentally, it is a tactic used by conservative political forces to crush progressivism. Do the critique folk really want to be in this company?

This argument can be clarified with an example. Imagine that during the years before the Civil War a bill to outlaw slavery is under consideration by the U.S. Senate. Advocates of the bill advance a variety of arguments: they insist that slavery violates the fundamental human dignity of slaves and they argue that the abolition of slavery is necessary to maintain the competitiveness of industry in the Northern states. Those that believe the first justification find the second justification objectionable and indeed immoral: it relies on the assumption that slavery can be justified by economic calculations and therefore fails to acknowledge the inherent dignity of all human beings.

Pretend that you are a neutral Senator deliberating over the bill—you are not certain which way to vote and are willing to listen to all arguments made by each side. After giving each side a fair hearing, you determine that both the “fundamental human dignity” justification for endorsing the bill and the criticism of the “Northern competitiveness” justification are true. What should you do?

The “judge choice” theory would argue that you should vote in favor of the bill on the basis of the “fundamental human dignity” justification. Even though one of the justifications for the bill (“Northern competitiveness”) was objectionable, it is not the reason that you are endorsing it—your vote reflects the first justification, not the second.

On the other hand, the decision-making model advanced by the critics of the “judge choice” theory would require the advocates of the bill to defend both the “fundamental human dignity” justification and the “Northern competitiveness” justification. A neutral Senator evaluating these justifications would therefore be put in a difficult position: should they endorse the bill and thereby support the second, objectionable justification? Or should they reject the bill because one of the justifications offered in its support was objectionable?

Negative teams defending representational critiques often advance arguments that would require resolving this conundrum in the latter fashion. Arguing that “the damage has already been done,” for example, deprives the judge of the logical opportunity to reject some justifications for a proposed course of action while approving of others.

It is here that an important distinction needs to be made: judges should evaluate each of the justifications offered for and against a proposed course of action, but that does not mean that they need to act upon them. The “judge choice” theory does not allow the affirmative to “take back” a justification that they have advanced in support of their plan. Instead, it simply acknowledges that the loss of one justification does not in itself prove that there is no justification for the plan’s adoption.

Importing the concept of “severance” from counterplan theory, therefore, is inappropriate. In the context of a counterplan, “severance” means that the affirmative’s permutation does not include the entirety of the plan and therefore alters the object of the judge’s decision-making. This is categorically distinct from “severance” in the context of representational critiques. Instead of altering the object of the judge’s decision-making, “severance” in this latter context alters only the criteria upon which the judge makes their decision. And in contrast to a severance permutation advanced against a counterplan, “severance” in the context of the critique does not really “sever” at all—the affirmative still presented an objectionable justification for the plan’s adoption, but it is the judge that subsequently eliminates this justification from their tally of “reasons to do the plan”.

As Harrigan explains, the “judge choice” theory alters the function of representation critiques but does not sap them of their strategic utility.

There isn’t “no cost” to presenting poor justifications for action on the Aff. In all likelihood, you’d lose your entire advantage. … The K still has value—but it’s meaning changes to a “reason not to use such representation” instead of a DA to the plan. … The Reps K isn’t a DA to the plan. It can never be “[Objectionable] Reps cause extinction – outweighs the case”, because the conclusion of that statement is that those justifications should never be used for acting in the first place. Translation: “No Link, Judge”.

Again, critics of the “judge choice” theory assume that the damaging effects of an inaccurate, undesirable, or unethical justification are accrued regardless of whether the judge chooses to act based on that justification. Returning to the disarmament example, a judge that votes affirmative based on the proliferation advantage but not the environment advantage is not supporting the justification that the negative has critiqued. This is a critical distinction because it explains why the negative’s insistence that representations shape policy enactment miss the point: only those representations that are acted upon shape the enactment of a policy. If the judge chooses to enact the plan based on a second justification, the disadvantages to the first justification are not relevant even if representations have policy relevance.

Harrigan explains:

Finally, what about the Doty card and other “reps matter” style arguments that I mentioned before? Well, representations matter—but those arguments presume that the reps actually used influence policy. My position is that the judge can choose which representations to use for policy enactment, so Doty et al. applies to the 1AC but not the final position chosen by the judge that is a reason to vote Aff because it affirms the plan.

Roger Solt, perhaps the most influential debate theorist of recent decades, agrees with Harrigan’s view:

A focus on the “representations” employed in debates has, of late, to some extent displaced the previous concentration on discourse. While discourse focuses on the words employed, representations involve the broader images that those words create and convey. Nonetheless, the problems associated with representational focus in policy debate are rather similar to those linked to discursive focus. First, if one is proposing a plan of action, the representations employed are secondary and instrumental means of justifying an ultimate policy conclusion. Thus, even if representations are in part discredited, the overall policy [end page 50] conclusion may hold. Second, representations are always partial, always limited by personal perspective, and always prone to interpretation. There is no such thing as an absolutely clear, perfectly accurate representation of something. We thus can quibble endlessly about the correctness of an image. But the fact remains that we are forced ultimately to act on the basis of imperfect depictions and recognitions.

The critics’ only recourse, at this point, is to argue that the very introduction of the harmful representations in the first place is sufficient to disregard consideration of the plan in favor of punishing the offending team for their transgression. Faced with the logic of the “judge choice” theory, the representational-critique-as-voting-issue stance must out of necessity resort to a defense of the punishment paradigm.

While a rigorous examination of ballot-as-punishment is beyond the scope of the article, it is worth mentioning David Glass’s theory of “counter-topicality” as a possible complement to Harrigan’s “judge choice” theory. Glass contends that the negative ought to be limited to only those arguments that are competitive with the resolution:

This new conception of debate – that the negative is limited to arguments which compete with the resolution – has other consequences. First, it also limits the type of Critiques which can be run. Critiques would also have to be competitive with the Resolution, as opposed to being simply linked off of any word which the Affirmative says that the Negative deems objectionable. For example, given this year’s topic, criticisms of the United States’ endorsement of United Nations Peacekeeping Operations would be fair game, since you could not simultaneously endorse those criticisms and endorse the resolution. However were the affirmative team to use a “bad word”… for example, if an affirmative speaker made a sexist remark, criticisms of that remark would not be a basis for a negative ballot, because while it may be bad or objectionable that the Affirmative used sexist language, that bad act does not compete with the Resolution (you can simultaneously reject the sexist language and endorse that the resolution is correct).

Is the very fact that the Affirmative can “get away” with bad language in a Counter-Topicality framework an argument against the framework? There are other tools available to the judge to punish bad language other than to vote negative – such as docking speaker points. Second, one may argue that the issues of fairness and preparation are higher standards, because debate is impossible without them. Once you allow language criticisms, you simply fall back into the framework where arguments which do not compete with the resolution are acceptable – and you need to find an alternate line which allows those arguments but limits out the infinite number of performances which the negative may resort to as an alternate approach to the affirmative. Further there is no limit to the number of things about the affirmative team or about the language that the affirmative uses, or about the debate process itself, that the negative could argue is objectionable – and an increasingly large number of these may be much harder to predict than the use of sexist language; this is why the Counter-Topicality framework is preferable, and that the Negative must be limited to arguments which compete with the resolution. Such a framework still gives the Negative a lot to say, and it allows the Affirmative to reasonably prepare. (One “real world” example – if a Senator was arguing against sending troops to Iraq, but used bad language in making her point, would you reject her arguments and send troops to Iraq as a rejection of her discourse? Or would you simply think worse of her, but in the absence of arguments which compete with the idea that sending troops to Iraq is bad, endorse the policy position that we should not send troops to Iraq?)

Glass’s theory of “counter-topicality” is therefore consistent with Harrigan’s theory of “judge choice” in offering a foundation for logical decision-making. In order for the representational critique to reclaim its status as a voting issue, its advocates must either explain how it can be reconciled with a logical model of decision-making or defend that the necessity for punishment is enough to justify deviating from it.

Works Cited:

Glass, Dr. David. “Counter-Topicality: An Instrument of Fairness,” Rostrum, Volume 79, Number 7, March 2005, Available Online at http://www.nflonline.org/Rostrum/Pol0305Glass.

Harrigan, Casey. “‘Judge Choice’: The Illogic of Representational Critique,” Georgia Debate Union, November 6, 2009, Available Online at http://www.georgiadebate.org/2009/11/judge-choice-the-illogic-of-representational-critique.

Solt, Roger E. “Debate’s Culture of Narcissism,” Contemporary Argumentation & Debate, Volume 25, September 2004, Available Online via Communication & Mass Media Complete, p. 50-51.

28 thoughts on “Logical Decision-Making: In Defense of Harrigan's "Judge Choice" Theory

  1. Scott Phillips

    "The crucial distinction, then, is between plan focus and policy relevance. When presented with multiple justifications for a policy change, a logical decision-maker can choose which of these justifications compels them to support or oppose the advocate’s proposal. If the decision-maker concludes that a policy change is warranted because of justification A, the undesirability or even harmfulness of justifications B and C ought not dissuade him or her from endorsing the change. The degree to which justifications B and C are bad ought not factor into the evaluation of justification A unless justifications B and/or C are intrinsic to the policy proposal."

    This is where you go off the rails- plan focus IS the idea that if something is not a reason to reject the plan, the judge doesn't have to vote neg because of it. Plan focus IS policy relevance. The obvious problem with this is the ballot does not say "plan was good yes/no" it says "better debating done by x/y". The assumption that "judge choice" is entirely logical/apolitical/value neutral is false at best.

  2. Casey Harrigan

    I won't try to speak for Bill, but I don't disagree with the substance of your comment, Scott. No assumption about what debate IS can be apolitical.

    However, if we think that the plan/advocacy of the Aff has *any value* and is distinct from any other word spoken in the 1AC, *however slightly*, then Judge Choice seems to make the most sense.

    Judge Choice can certainly be out-lefted. Maybe words mean nothing and you should just vote for the form you like most. There are, however, substantial problems with such an alternative model…

  3. Bill Batterman Post author

    @SP:

    "This is where you go off the rails- plan focus IS the idea that if something is not a reason to reject the plan, the judge doesn’t have to vote neg because of it. Plan focus IS policy relevance. The obvious problem with this is the ballot does not say “plan was good yes/no” it says “better debating done by x/y”. The assumption that “judge choice” is entirely logical/apolitical/value neutral is false at best."

    "Plan Focus" is distinct from "Policy Relevance" in the way that they conceptualize the link. In both cases, the plan is the focus of the debate insofar as the judge votes for or against the plan.

    Plan Focus: representations are irrelevant — they are bracketed off from the discussion of the plan. Links must be to the plan, not to anything else.

    Policy Relevance: representations are relevant to the extent that they influence the desirability of the plan — they are not bracketed off from the discussion of the plan. Links do not need to be to the plan — they just need to implicate the desirability of the plan.

    Distinction without a difference? I don't think so. Traditional "plan focus good" arguments are founded on a concern for ground/fairness and are leveraged to exclude relevant arguments from the judge's consideration. Adopting the language of "policy relevance" is a way to account for representational critique without making sacrifices with regard to the logic of decision-making.

    "The better debating was done by _____" begs the question, obviously. The "judge choice" theory relies on an underlying assumption about the importance of logical decision-making that can obviously be contested. But the value of the "judge choice" theory, I think, is that it makes sense of representational critiques *within the framework of logical decision-making* in a way that is theoretically sound.

  4. Scott Phillips

    "Plan Focus: representations are irrelevant — they are bracketed off from the discussion of the plan. Links must be to the plan, not to anything else.

    Policy Relevance: representations are relevant to the extent that they influence the desirability of the plan — they are not bracketed off from the discussion of the plan. Links do not need to be to the plan — they just need to implicate the desirability of the plan."

    I don't know where these come from- as I understand it plan focus is the 2nd not the first. An example:

    A. Using apocalyptic environmental rhetoric is bad- while the environment is screwed, using chicken little scare tactics is a bad way to justify your plan.
    B. China threat rhetoric is western/orientalist bias and used to justify aggressive containment strategies that cause conflict.

    Plan focus would reject A- since we already assume the fiat of the plan, arguments about whether or not certain rhetoric is a good way to advance the plan is irrelevant. Argument B could not be excluded by plan focus good arguments because it makes the logical claim that bad representations affect outcomes.

    The only part of this I object to is the idea that if the aff reads a huge china advantage, neg reads a china threat K, 2ac reads a free trade add on- the aff has now dodged the entire debate about their original advocacy. How is this good for debate/advocacy skills/education/fairness/fill in other word?

  5. Casey Harrigan

    For clarification:

    me: well, clearly there has to be at least A justification for the plan
    but a single bad rep does not negate the aff
    or even many bad reps
    if there is no mandatory connection between voting aff and using aff justifications
    think about it in pure logic terms: there is a pool of X available justifications
    the judge must pick a reason to vote Aff from that pool
    if the Neg says "one is bad"
    there are other fish in the sea

    Scott: i guess i dont understand why you think that is different then plan focus
    if the k isn't a reason to reject the plan, teh judge just doesnt pick that advantage

    me: because the logic is true regardless of what is the focus
    as long as the aff plan / advocacy has SOME meaning
    i think plan focus means the plan is the only question of the debate
    i dont think its close to that

    Scott: well it seems the judge sasy "can i find one justification for the plan that is legit"
    so they are looking for a way to justify the plan, which is them focusing on the plan

    me: if you think plan focus is "the plan has some meaning, however slight, that distinguishes it from any other word in the debate", then yes, it relies on plan focus (but i dont think most people mean that when they say the term)
    well, the judge could also say
    "can i find one justification for affirmation"
    etc. – depending on the role of the ballot
    its far more an indict of "severance" as applied to reps ks
    than it is an argument about what the most logical framework for debate should be

  6. Bill Batterman Post author

    @Scott Phillips

    "The only part of this I object to is the idea that if the aff reads a huge china advantage, neg reads a china threat K, 2ac reads a free trade add on- the aff has now dodged the entire debate about their original advocacy. How is this good for debate/advocacy skills/education/fairness/fill in other word?"

    In this circumstance, the negative should argue that the threat construction that the affirmative relied upon is *intrinsic to the plan*. If it isn't, then it doesn't make sense to reject the plan–the negative has made a bad strategic decision when they chose to invest the totality of their attack against the affirmative in an argument that isn't intrinsic to the plan.

    The reason that the China Threat K example *seems* problematic is because the "China Threat K" *sounds* like it should be intrinsic to the plan. But if the plan doesn't have anything to do with China, then the negative has just invested a bunch of time into what amounts to a defensive takeout.

    How about this example?

    1AC: plan increases food stamps, solves obesity.

    1NC: the way the aff frames "obesity" is bad/leads to killing fat people.

    2AC: um, ok… increasing food stamps also helps the economy. So still do it.

    In that case, there's nothing about the "K of obesity reps" that provides a reason not to enact the plan. Yes, this 2AC strategy "moots" the 1NC… but that's the neg's fault, not the aff's.

  7. Scott Phillips

    Bill,

    There is no brightline there. China threat seems intrinsic, untill the 2AC reads an add on that says defense spending creates jobs which allows people to buy puppies. Representations are not tied to the plan objectively- there is no way to prove they are in this model or any other. The aff CHOOSES them. You blame the negative for a bad "strategic choice" which I find totally backwards- if the aff chose a dumb advantage, why isn't it they who have made a bad choice???

    This is also why I found harrigans example that reps k's are "conservative" problematic. Take the Iraq war- they have WMD!!! "uh, no they don't, that's western racism". Not a reason to reject the plan- lets invade anyway. Now we will just say its because Iraq should be a democracy and we need to nation build. "uh, that's not a good idea, western values aren't universal". Too late now- that's just defense- now we can't cut and run or it would hurt our leadership…

  8. Casey Harrigan

    Its only partially a bad strategic choice by the Neg. The China Threat K still beats the whole 1AC advantage – it proves that justification should not be used.

    If you debated Naveen's ICC Aff on treaties, and read 30+ heg takeouts, and the Aff conceded them, kicking their only advantage, and reading a new add-on (which would be the sole justification for the Aff), that's a win for the Neg, not a loss, right?

  9. Faber

    As another way of articulating the arg Scott already made (ie in his 1st post: when I started this comment, the 1st comment was the only one posted; idt I really need to change the comment, the argument has taken a different direction anyway):
    this entire theory assumes that the only thing a judge is doing is deciding what action to take, endorse the plan or do not endorse the plan. It ignores that each constructive and rebuttal is not just a list of arguments with uncertain truth value and which may cease to be relevant to the policy, but also constitutes a speech act which is immutable, an historical fact. And the K can instruct me to be something other than a pure policymaker (role of the ballot cards) and to evaluate the affirmative's speech acts.

    As a side note, even as I acknowledge that Dr Glass has a point about the problem of non-competitive frameworks, I am also pretty skeptical of his counter-topicality proposal. 2 specific warrants:
    1. I don't find Dr Glass' distinction between counter-topicality and hypo-testing at all reassuring:
    >>This "counter-topicality" paradigm should not be confused with >>Hypothesis Testing. Hypothesis Testing is a paradigm in which the >>Negative must disprove the Resolution. Counter-Topicality does not >>merely force the Negative to prove the Resolution false (which would >>still allow for any argument which is not the Resolution); rather, >>Counter-Topicality limits the set of Negative frameworks to those which >>compete with the Resolution, as a matter of fairness and education.

    Ok, so counter-T is more specific than hypo-testing. But it still seems to allow for the whole-rez, counter-warrants style of debate that convinced the community to move away from hypo-testing in the first place. Specifically, Dr Glass says that counter-T is like hypo-testing, but with the added requirement of directly competing with the resolution. That is, well, exactly what happens when the neg reads 5 disads to plans not-the-aff. That is an absolute solvency mitigator (spellcheck doesn't like that word, but suggests mitigatory??!), because it just relocates, rather than resolving, the negative's ability to ignore the aff's choice of what to debate about.
    Admittedly, it might be possible to reframe the idea of counter-T so that it doesn't capture hypo-testing, so this may be a reason to reform counter-T rather than a reason to reject.

    2. Also, he doesn't even address what this does to modern counterplan debate. The vast majority of PICs are topical, so under a counter-topicality paradigm, it seems they might actually be affirmative offense (hypo-testing), but even if not, they still wouldn't be a reason to vote negative. Obviously opinion on whether this is a good or bad point of the proposal will break down along the lines of who thinks PICs are legit and who doesn't. Personally, I like PICs. They moot affirmative offense and force the unprepared aff to debate against itself. Erm, I mean, they encourage depth over breadth, meaning better clash, and they encourage specific research, and so on. Advantage counterplans are great, and they can often be non-topical, but I don't think they are an adequate substitute for PICs, just an awesome complement.
    Banning PICs is entirely intrinsic to the proposal; this d/a isn't going to go away no matter how we fiddle with what counter-T means.

  10. Bill Batterman Post author

    @Scott Phillips

    "There is no brightline there. China threat seems intrinsic, untill the 2AC reads an add on that says defense spending creates jobs which allows people to buy puppies. Representations are not tied to the plan objectively- there is no way to prove they are in this model or any other."

    Right — but if the defense spending add-on is a reason the plan is good, then the affirmative has provided a reason the plan is good and the negative has not provided a reason the plan is bad.

    Sometimes representations *are* intrinsic to the plan. Using the China example again:

    1AC: build a BMD because China is a threat.

    1NC: China Threat K

    2AC: military spending good add-on

    2NC: China Threat K is intrinsic to the plan — building a BMD will be perceived by China as aggressive — even if the plan is done only as a way to stimulate the defense industrial base, it will be shaped by anti-Chinese sentiments — hawks in the U.S. will capitalize and bash China, etc. And, CP to solve military spending / turns to military spending.

    "The aff CHOOSES them. You blame the negative for a bad “strategic choice” which I find totally backwards- if the aff chose a dumb advantage, why isn’t it they who have made a bad choice???"

    They have. But when the aff has a dumb advantage, is it a wise negative strategy to only point out that their advantage is dumb? Or should not the negative still advance an argument disputing the desirability of the plan? The fact that the affirmative has made a poor *substantive* decision about the content of one or more of their advantages does not mean that the negative has not made an equally poor *strategic* choice in constructing their 1NC.

    "This is also why I found harrigans example that reps k’s are “conservative” problematic. Take the Iraq war- they have WMD!!! “uh, no they don’t, that’s western racism”. Not a reason to reject the plan- lets invade anyway. Now we will just say its because Iraq should be a democracy and we need to nation build. “uh, that’s not a good idea, western values aren’t universal”. Too late now- that’s just defense- now we can’t cut and run or it would hurt our leadership…"

    But the affirmative needs to provide a reason that the plan is good. And, hopefully, the negative will have a reason the plan is bad. The way you've described this debate about Iraq occurring doesn't make sense — it seems to me that it would go down like this:

    1AC: Invade Iraq. Solves WMD.

    1NC: No WMD — that's Western Racism.

    2AC: Concede. Democracy Promotion Add-On.

    2NC/1NR: That's also Western Racism.

    The 1AR can't read another add-on — they only get two constructive speeches to introduce justifications for their plan, so there's no risk of infinite regression. If the negative wins their "you are wrong about Iraq because your claims are grounded in Western Racism" arguments, then there is no reason to invade.

    More importantly, and this seems obvious to me, the negative *should say that invasion is bad*. Otherwise, the negative has taken up a purely defensive posture: the aff has provides two reasons (in this hypothetical) that the U.S. should invade Iraq and the negative has only argued that these reasons are bad, not that we *shouldn't invade Iraq*. Why?

    (BTW–I think this is a really good discussion. Too much debate theory only gets discussed in rounds where time constraints and strategic interests make it impossible to really work through the foundational assumptions of a given position.)

  11. Scott Phillips

    Bill/Casey,

    All your responses presuppose the plan is the focus, and thus b the q- an argument the neg would clearly be objecting to if they hoped to win a reps K. Absent the plan being the focus, there is no reason to equate a reps K to a "heg takeout". The idea that reps K's are just defense and we should keep the policy train rolling is the central focus that evidence supporting reps K's object to.

    Your china example best proves my point. You say it "is intrinsic" because china would perceive it as hostile…. this obviously presupposes a certain understanding of china.

  12. Casey Harrigan

    @Scott Phillips
    The only framework Judge Choice does NOT presuppose is one where the plan has no value related to its outcome. If every word in the debate is equal (Saying the plan only has representational value – and this is the same as whatever representational value could be assigned to "Contention 1: Inherency"), then it clearly doesn't apply.

    It can be out-lefted. But, do the defenders of the traditional representations K really want to also defend that model of debate?

  13. Faber

    Scott said:
    >>There is no brightline there. China threat seems intrinsic, untill the 2AC >>reads an add on that says defense spending creates jobs which allows >>people to buy puppies. Representations are not tied to the plan >>objectively- there is no way to prove they are in this model or any other. >>The aff CHOOSES them.

    I have no idea if this is what Scott meant, but either way this is a key point ("this arg is literally on fire, put 15.6 stars and a smooch next to it on your flow") in the following way: One element of debate that pretty much everybody agrees on is that a team is not responsible for defending their argument from answers that the other team does not make. EG, if I read link evidence that talks only about US relations with "Eastern Europe" but tag it "Turkey gets angry if we do the plan", only in the event that the aff makes this indict do I have to defend my position against the indict 'Turkey isn't in Eastern Europe, their link evidence gives no warrant for the claim'. Otherwise, even though my scenario is complete garbage vis-a-vis the aff in this round, I get away with it because it is the aff's responsibility to make this argument. Further, because the aff doesn't dispute my interpretation of the evidence, for the purposes of this round, that evidence actually _does_ warrant the claim that Turkey would be angry about the plan. This is objectively illogical (because it assigns truth to a falsehood), but is nevertheless the way debate works, and is even fundamental to the game as we play it. Any other meaning of that evidence would only exist by "judge intervention", which is bad. And most crucially, if I win the link, it is necessary that the plan would cause the scenario.

    By the same reasoning, within a debate round, the justifications for the plan are exclusively those justifications that the affirmative has advanced, and the justifications that affirmative has advanced are the only justifications that could be used, and the justifications that the affirmative has advanced must be used. The debate round instantiates and eventually deletes a universe in which the contents of the round are the only things that exist, and in which the contents of the round are the only way for those things to exist.
    To demonstrate, spin all my Turkey-relations stuff around to talk about affirmative advantages. The advantages that the aff has presented are the only reasons that plan could be beneficial – necessarily true, otherwise the neg would have to refute all potential advantages to the case. The advantages that the aff has presented _are_ reasons the plan is good – if conceded, necessarily true. If the aff wins the link to their advantages, these things have to be the result of the policy – necessarily true, the only alternative is judge intervention against a link scenario that doesn't make sense but is nevertheless won by the aff.
    All of this adds up: the aff has irrevocably (unless the neg reads kick-enabling defense) tied their policy to their advantage by reading the advantage in the 1ac. So if the K makes an offensive claim, the 1ac itself has made it necessary that the offense is stuck to the plan.

  14. Faber

    BTW, y'all can stop saying that the paradigm (as currently represented/explained/justified) doesn't assume debate is only about policy-making:

    "[T]o say that representations matter—insofar as [they] determine/influence policy outcomes—says little or nothing about which justifications should be used for policymaking."

    That's the first sentence (a quote from Casey's post on GD.org) of Bill's post, and note the last 3 words: "used for policymaking." Clearly, this paradigm was envisioned from a starting point that included the belief that our activity is about making policies. That doesn't mean it's a bad paradigm, just that it is a lot less far-reaching than y'all see it as, and a lot more vulnerable to everyday negative framework and/or meta-framework arguments.

  15. Faber

    @Bill Batterman
    <blockquote cite="#commentbody-1319">
    Bill Batterman
    And obviously, Faber, the affirmative needs to present and then win another justification for the plan. It’s not “all possible justifications, spoken or unspoken” that the judge is evaluating — it’s only the justifications offered by the affirmative. If the affirmative offers two justifications and the negative critiques one of them, it doesn’t make sense for the judge to disregard the other.
    This either misses the point (if you stopped reading after the first observation about the nature of arguments in a debate round) or blatantly ignores the impact to my reasoning (if you read all the way through), which is clearly stated at the bottom of the post. Like you said, "obviously." That was a starting point, not an ending point of my reasoning. Original reasoning (with warrants) reproduced below, quick summary of claims now.
    (Summary) : For debate to work, the advantages the aff claims must be considered inevitable justifications of the policy, so any offense against the reps of 1 advantage does actually stick to the plan.

    You say "it doesn't make sense to ignore the other", which doesn't respond to my argument that there is negative offense on the first.
    Also, the idea of "not ignoring the other advantage" isn't mutually exclusive with seeing the reps K as having offensive potential, so even if there were actually a warrant in your dismissal of my argument, it wouldn't be an answer.
    Further, this argument that you dismissed is actually an internal link takeout to the argument you were trying to make by posting the text of the cards. The cards say justifications matter. Your arg is that only the justifications actually used matter. This argument says that all the justifications the affirmative advances are necessarily used unless there is some defense that allows the aff to kick them.

    *** the following all excerpted from comment #10 ***
    …the justifications for the plan are exclusively those justifications that the affirmative has advanced, and the justifications that affirmative has advanced are the only justifications that could be used, and the justifications that the affirmative has advanced must be used. The debate round instantiates and eventually deletes a universe in which the contents of the round are the only things that exist, and in which the contents of the round are the only way for those things to exist.
    …the aff has irrevocably (unless the neg reads kick-enabling defense) tied their policy to their advantage by reading the advantage in the 1ac. So if the K makes an offensive claim, the 1ac itself has made it necessary that the offense is stuck to the plan.

  16. Bill Batterman Post author

    @Faber

    "For debate to work, the advantages the aff claims must be considered inevitable justifications of the policy, so any offense against the reps of 1 advantage does actually stick to the plan."

    Why?

    (I think this results in illogical decision-making. Aff says do the plan for reason A and reason B, neg says reason A is bad. Why shouldn't the judge vote for the plan because of reason B and disregard reason A? "For debate to work"? I don't know what that means.)

    "This argument says that all the justifications the affirmative advances are necessarily used unless there is some defense that allows the aff to kick them."

    Because..?

    I don't think you've provided support for your assertion that "the aff has irrevocably (unless the neg reads kick-enabling defense) tied their policy to their advantage by reading the advantage in the 1ac." Is the warrant supposed to be that "The debate round instantiates and eventually deletes a universe in which the contents of the round are the only things that exist, and in which the contents of the round are the only way for those things to exist."? If so, I don't know what that means–universe creation and deletion are hard for me to wrap my head around without further explanation.

  17. Bill Batterman Post author

    @Scott Phillips

    "1. If you are looking for a card that uses terms like offense/defense, then you are correct, they do not say that"

    Not looking for that. Looking for scholarly support for the argument that the undesirability of one justification for action is sufficient to disprove the desirability of that action.

    "2. Of the cards you posted, I have only ever heard of Doty. So it is quite possible we are coming from entirely different knowledge bases here. But just using the doty cards you quoted (the comments don’t let me underline etc so this is messy)"

    I don't think we're disagreeing about what the evidence says; my contention is that **the judge is not voting affirmative because of the justification that the negative has criticized**. So yes — if the judge endorses a policy based on a justification that the negative has criticized, then it is unethical. And yes — "material objects and subjects are constituted as such within discourse." But that doesn't mean the judge, by voting aff for justification A, is constituting material objects and subjects through the discourse of justification B or C.

    My hang-up is with the argument that the fact that the affirmative presented justification B and C means that the "material objects and subjects … constituted through discourse" are influenced by justification B and C *if the judge votes affirmative for justification A*.

    Our central point of disagreement, I think, is with the way we conceive of the effects of the affirmative's representations. Is it the advancement of the objectionable representations *within the round*—even if these representations are subsequently abandoned—that constitutes material objects and subjects? I don't think so—my view is that the constitutive effects of a given representation are only accrued when that representation is affirmed/endorsed. If the judge does not affirm or endorse that representation, then what impact does it have?

    The contrary position doesn't make sense to me because it assumes that *the mere act of voicing an argument* results in material disadvantages *even if* that argument is not endorsed by the decision-maker.

    Smith is consistent with this position: he says narrow interpretations of politics are wrong because they ignore the political effects of discursive analysis. This is a reason that reps matter — NOT a reason that the judge must act upon undesirable reps IF THE AFF WINS another justification for plan enactment.

    To summarize: endorsing action based on a flawed justification is bad. But the judge need not endorse action based upon a flawed justification. The Reps K is a reason for the judge not to endorse action based upon the flawed justification that the negative has criticized. Therefore, the judge's decision does not incur the disadvantages associated with endorsing an undesirable justification for action.

  18. Faber

    @Bill Batterman
    First off, my comment #17 mis-cited this stuff as coming from comment #10. In fact, these are arguments I made in comment #14. So, sorry about that and any resulting confusion. Those are my fault.
    The explanation of what 'universe creation' means was the big long discussion of US-Eastern Europe and US-Turkey relations. Which I think was pretty clear, because actually universe creation is just an alternate way to get a handle on it, and the standard way to get a handle on it is just to understand the way truth of arguments works in debate, which everyone here does. But I'll try to restate/reframe.
    The situation is this: I am negative. I read a US-Turkish relations disad to the case. The link evidence speaks only about US relations with "Eastern Europe". The aff is floored by this scenario, doesn't have any evidence to answer it, and only makes generic arguments like "policies like plan are inevitable". They don't point out that the link evidence is talking about Europe instead of Turkey. To simplify the analysis, let's say they don't read any other no-link args either.
    It is indisputably true in the real world that:
    My disad doesn't link, because I have read the link for an US-EE relations d/a, not a US-Tk relations d/a.
    However, there are some rather different things that are true in the debate world:
    – My disad does link, because the aff hasn't refuted the link. This is, as you said above, "obvious", even though it is blatantly false. I only have to defend my scenario from args that the aff makes, all other 'holes' in the scenario are 'filled' when the aff fails to point them out. Thus, the arguments raised in the debate are, for the purposes of rendering decision, the complete set of arguments that could be made.
    – Until the judge signs the ballot, the link evidence actually does warrant the claim that Turkey will get angry over the plan. The judge's RFD will say "Neg, this link evidence has nothing to do with the scenario. But aff, you don't point this out, so I have to treat it the way the neg claims it." Even though the judge looks at a paragraph that doesn't talk about Turkey at all, he has to treat it as though it does talk about Turkey. This is in and of itself an indict of the analogy between deciding a debate round and voting for a bill in the Senate: a Senator would never assume something true that he knew to be false, but judges are required to do it all the time. Further, it warrants the idea that truth value outside of the round has nothing to do with truth value inside the round. That's what I mean by 'creating and destroying a universe': each debate round creates its own reality of truth and falsity.
    – The neg needn't answer arguments the affirmative doesn't make. This is "obvious" above. Thus, the only reasons that something in a debate round can be false are the reasons proposed by the debaters.
    – Similarly, for the reason that this is how the debaters responded, it is impossible in this universe for the disad to be answered differently.
    The upshot of this last point is that, when recontextualized to the 1ac, it is impossible within this round-universe to advocate the plan without using the justifications that the 1ac used. That means the justifications are a non-decreasing set: once something goes into the set, it cannot go out except under very special circumstances (kick-enabling defense).

    Also, casey/bill feel free to answer at any time my argument in comment #10, that in addition to creating arguments which are falsifiable, the 1ac creates a speech act which is immutable. That arg isn't dependent on abstract logic structures, it's pretty straightforward: at every point after the 1ac, the words of the 1ac will still be what they were. That's pretty static, and role-of-the-ballot cards warrant that the judge should be someone who pays attention to speech acts instead of just arguments.
    I can even contextualize this into your Senator examples: Whatever the Senator's personal reasons for voting Yay/Nay, the house as a whole has very specific reasons that it adopts the policy, and these are spelled out in the whereas clauses at the top of the bill. The 1ac has posited a proposal, complete with whereas clauses. Whatever intention the judge has in adopting the plan, he still votes for the bill with the whereas clauses intact. So the representations of the 1ac are inevitable in the world of the plan.

  19. Bill Batterman Post author

    @Scott Phillips

    "I think we may have to agree to disagree on this one at this point, but I will try one last time to explain why in the following 3 ways:"

    This last post did an excellent job of framing our disagreement–I actually don't think we're very far apart. I'll try to explain this better tomorrow with reference to the Smith vs. Wallace debate, but I must retire for the evening… gotta tab a local tournament in the morning.

    Same goes for you, Faber — your last post was helpful in isolating our areas of disagreement. I'll try to reply to both of you tomorrow.

    Thanks to everyone for an engaging discussion. If you're lurking and haven't chimed in yet, please do so!

  20. Bill Batterman Post author

    @Scott Phillips

    “The idea that reps K’s are just defense and we should keep the policy train rolling is the central focus that evidence supporting reps K’s object to.”

    I don’t think that’s true. I’ve cut all of the famous “reps key” cards and the common denominator seems to be that the way a policy is framed is meaningful. Below are four very common pieces of evidence that are often read to support the Reps K: I don’t think any of them is responsive to the thesis of “judge choice”. The justifications for a policy are relevant, yes… but that does not refute the claim that the judge should endorse a policy based on “good” justifications instead of “bad” ones. The fact that a bad justification was advanced does not mean that the judge must therefore deploy that justification as part of their reasoning for endorsing the plan.

    In debate speak, there is No Link — the judge is not voting for the plan because of the justification(s) that has/have been critiqued but rather for a different justification that has not.

    And obviously, Faber, the affirmative needs to present and then win another justification for the plan. It’s not “all possible justifications, spoken or unspoken” that the judge is evaluating — it’s only the justifications offered by the affirmative. If the affirmative offers two justifications and the negative critiques one of them, it doesn’t make sense for the judge to disregard the other.

    Here are the cards — if anyone thinks that one of them responds to “judge choice”, please cite the text / explain… I’m certainly open to changing my mind.

    #1

    Thomas E. HILL, Jr., Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina, 1991
    [“The Message of Affirmative Action,” The Affirmative Action Debate (1995), edited by Steven M. Cahn, Published by Routledge, Reprinted from Social Philosophy & Policy, p. 169-170]
    Actions, as the saying goes, often speak louder than words. There are times, too, when only actions can effectively communicate the message we want to convey, and times when giving a message is a central part of the purpose of action. What our actions say to others depends largely, though not entirely, upon our avowed reasons for acting; and this is a matter for reflective [end page 169] decision, not something we discover later by looking back at what we did and its effects. The decision is important because “the same act” can have very different consequences, depending upon how we choose to justify it. In a sense, acts done for different reasons are not “the same act” even if otherwise similar, and so not merely the consequences but also the moral nature of our acts depend in part on our decisions about the reasons for doing them.

    Unfortunately, the message actually conveyed by our actions does not depend only on our intentions and reasons, for our acts may have a meaning for others quite at odds with what we hoped to express. Others may misunderstand our intentions, doubt our sincerity, or discern a subtext that undermines the primary message. Even if sincere, well-intended, and successfully conveyed, the message of an act or policy does not by itself justify the means by which it is conveyed; it is almost always a relevant factor, however, in the moral assessment of the act or policy.

    These remarks may strike you as too obvious to be worth mentioning; for, even if we do not usually express the ideas so abstractly, we are all familiar with them in our daily interactions with our friends, families, and colleagues. Who, for example, does not know the importance of the message expressed in offering money to another person, as well as the dangers of misunderstanding? What is superficially “the same act” can be an offer to buy, an admission of guilt, an expression of gratitude, a contribution to a common cause, a condescending display of superiority, or an outrageous insult. Because all this is so familiar, the extent to which these elementary points are ignored in discussions of the pros and cons of social policies such as affirmative action is surprising. The usual presumption is that social policies can be settled entirely by debating the rights involved or by estimating the consequences, narrowly conceived apart from the messages that we want to give and the messages that are likely to be received.

    #2

    Roxanne Lynn DOTY, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Arizona State University, 1996
    [Imperial Encounters: The Politics of Representation in North-South Relations, University of Minnesota Press, Borderlines Series, ISBN 0816627622, p. 169-171]
    The cases examined in this study attest to the importance of representational practices and the power that inheres in them. The infinity of traces that leave no inventory continue to play a significant part in contemporary constructions of “reality.” This is not to suggest that representations have been static. Static implies the possibility of fixedness, when what I mean to suggest is an inherent fragility and instability to the meanings and identities that have been constructed in the various discourses I examined. For example, to characterize the South as “uncivilized” or “unfit for self-government” is no longer an acceptable representation. This is not, however, because the meanings of these terms were at one time fixed and stable. As I illustrated, what these signifiers signified was always deferred. Partial fixation was the result of their being anchored by some exemplary mode of being that was itself constructed at the power/ knowledge nexus: the white male at the turn of the century, the United States after World War II. Bhabha stresses “the wide range of the stereotype, from the loyal servant to Satan, from the loved to the hated; a shifting of subject positions in the circulation of colonial power” (1983: 31). The shifting subject positions–from uncivilized native to quasi state to traditional “man” and society, for example–are all partial fixations that have enabled the exercise of various and multiple forms of power. Nor do previous oppositions entirely disappear. What remains is an infinity of traces from prior representations [end page 169] that themselves have been founded not on pure presences but on differance. “The present becomes the sign of the sign, the trace of the trace,” Derrida writes (1982: 24). Differance makes possible the chain of differing and deferring (the continuity) as well as the endless substitution (the discontinuity) of names that are inscribed and reinscribed as pure presence, the center of the structure that itself escapes structurality.

    North-South relations have been constituted as a structure of deferral. The center of the structure (alternatively white man, modern man, the United States, the West, real states) has never been absolutely present outside a system of differences. It has itself been constituted as trace—the simulacrum of a presence that dislocates itself, displaces itself, refers itself (ibid.). Because the center is not a fixed locus but a function in which an infinite number of sign substitutions come into play, the domain and play of signification is extended indefinitely (Derrida 1978: 280). This both opens up and limits possibilities, generates alternative sites of meanings and political resistances that give rise to practices of reinscription that seek to reaffirm identities and relationships. The inherently incomplete and open nature of discourse makes this reaffirmation an ongoing and never finally completed project. In this study I have sought, through an engagement with various discourses in which claims to truth have been staked, to challenge the validity of the structures of meaning and to make visible their complicity with practices of power and domination. By examining the ways in which structures of meaning have been associated with imperial practices, I have suggested that the construction of meaning and the construction of social, political, and economic power are inextricably linked. This suggests an ethical dimension to making meaning and an ethical imperative that is incumbent upon those who toil in the construction of structures of meaning. This is especially urgent in North-South relations today: one does not have to search very far to find a continuing complicity with colonial representations that ranges from a politics of silence and neglect to constructions of terrorism, Islamic fundamentalism, international drug trafficking, and Southern immigration to the North as new threats to global stability and peace.

    The political stakes raised by this analysis revolve around the question of being able to “get beyond” the representations or speak outside of the discourses that historically have constructed the North [end page 170] and the South. I do not believe that there are any pure alternatives by which we can escape the infinity of traces to which Gramsci refers. Nor do I wish to suggest that we are always hopelessly imprisoned in a dominant and all-pervasive discourse. Before this question can be answered–indeed, before we can even proceed to attempt an answer–attention must be given to the politics of representation. The price that international relations scholarship pays for its inattention to the issue of representation is perpetuation of the dominant modes of making meaning and deferral of its responsibility and complicity in dominant representations.

    #3

    Roxanne Lynn DOTY, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Arizona State University, 1996
    [Imperial Encounters: The Politics of Representation in North-South Relations, University of Minnesota Press, Borderlines Series, ISBN 0816627622, p. 5-6]
    This study begins with the premise that representation is an inherent and important aspect of global political life and therefore a critical and legitimate area of inquiry. International relations are inextricably bound up with discursive practices that put into circulation representations that are taken as “truth.” The goal of analyzing these practices is not to reveal essential truths that have been obscured, but rather to examine how certain representations underlie the production of knowledge and identities and how these representations make various courses of action possible. As Said (1979: 21) notes, there is no such thing as a delivered presence, but there is a re-presence, or representation. Such an assertion does not deny the existence of the material world, but rather suggests that material objects and subjects are constituted as such within discourse. So, for example, when U.S. troops march into Grenada, this is certainly “real,” though the march of troops across a piece of geographic space is itself singularly uninteresting and socially irrelevant outside of the representations that produce meaning. It is only when “American” is attached to the troops and “Grenada” to the geographic space that meaning is created. What the physical behavior itself is, though, is still far from certain until discursive practices constitute it as an “invasion,” a “show of force,” a “training exercise,” a “rescue,” and so on. What is “really” going on in such a situation is inextricably linked to the discourse within which it is located. To attempt a neat separation between discursive and nondiscursive practices, understanding the former as purely linguistic, assumes a series of dichotomies—thought/reality, appearance/essence, mind/matter, word/world, subjective/objective—that a critical genealogy calls into question. Against this, the perspective taken here affirms the material and performative character of discourse. 6

    In suggesting that global politics, and specifically the aspect that has to do with relations between the North and the South, is linked to representational practices I am suggesting that the issues and concerns that constitute these relations occur within a “reality” whose content has for the most part been defined by the representational practices of the “first world.” Focusing on discursive practices enables [end page 5] one to examine how the processes that produce “truth” and “knowledge” work and how they are articulated with the exercise of political, military, and economic power.

    #4

    Cori E. DAUBER, Associate Professor of Communication Studies at the University of North Carolina, 2001
    [“The Shots Seen ‘Round the World: The Impact of the Images of Mogadishu on American Military Operations,” Rhetoric & Public Affairs, Volume 4, Number 4, Winter, Available Online to Subscribing Institutions via Project Muse]
    The impact the Mogadishu images have had on American foreign policy is clear. But their impact is not inescapable or inevitable. It is based on the incorrect assumption that people can only read images unidirectionally. No matter how similar, no matter how powerfully one text evokes another, every image is unique. Each comes from a different historical situation, is placed within a different story, and offers an ambiguous text that can be exploited by astute commentators. Images matter profoundly, but so do their contexts and the words that accompany them. The implications of this shift in interpretation are potentially profound. Mogadishu, or the mention of a potential parallel with Mogadishu, need not be a straightjacket or a deterrent to the use of American power. Rhetoric, whether discursive or visual, has real power in the way events play out. What this article makes clear is that rhetoric (and therefore rhetorical analysis) also has power in the way policy is shaped and defined. In a recent book on the conflict in Kosovo, the authors note that when the president spoke to the nation on the night the air war began, he immediately ruled out the use of ground forces. This was done, they argue, due to fears that leaving open the possibility of ground force participation would sacrifice domestic public and congressional (and allied) support for the air war. But “publicly ruling out their use only helped to reduce Milosevic’s uncertainty regarding the likely scope of NATO’s military actions,” 109 and possibly to lengthen the air war as a result. Yet, they report, National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, “who authored the critical passage in the president’s speech, maintains that ‘we would not have won the war without this sentence.'” 110 It would be difficult to find more direct evidence for the profound impact and influence public rhetoric and debate have—and are understood to have—on policy, policymaking, and policymakers at the highest level. That means that rhetorical analysis can have a role to play and a voice at the table before policies are determined. Academic rhetoricians, through their choice of projects and the formats in which they publish, can stake a claim to having an important voice at the table—and they should do so.

  21. Scott Phillips

    Bill,

    1. If you are looking for a card that uses terms like offense/defense, then you are correct, they do not say that
    2. Of the cards you posted, I have only ever heard of Doty. So it is quite possible we are coming from entirely different knowledge bases here. But just using the doty cards you quoted (the comments don’t let me underline etc so this is messy)

    “This suggests an ethical dimension(offense) to making meaning and an ethical imperative that is incumbent upon those who toil in the construction of structures of meaning. This is especially urgent in North-South relations today: one does not have to search very far to find a continuing complicity with colonial representations that ranges from a politics of silence and neglect to constructions of terrorism, Islamic fundamentalism, international drug trafficking, and Southern immigration to the North as new threats to global stability and peace.”

    “The goal of analyzing these practices is not to reveal essential truths that have been obscured(the defensive claim), but rather to examine how certain representations underlie the production of knowledge and identities and how these representations make various courses of action possible(the offense). As Said (1979: 21) notes, there is no such thing as a delivered presence, but there is a re-presence, or representation. Such an assertion does not deny the existence of the material world(your argument that its an impact take out), but rather suggests that material objects and subjects are constituted as such within discourse(the aff is not a passive spectator reporting false representations, they are a political agent engaged in the process). So, for example, when U.S. troops march into Grenada, this is certainly “real,” though the march of troops across a piece of geographic space is itself singularly uninteresting and socially irrelevant outside of the representations that produce meaning. It is only when “American” is attached to the troops and “Grenada” to the geographic space that meaning is created. What the physical behavior itself is, though, is still far from certain until discursive practices constitute it as an “invasion,” a “show of force,” a “training exercise,” a “rescue,” and so on. What is “really” going on in such a situation is inextricably linked to the discourse within which it is located. To attempt a neat separation between discursive and nondiscursive practices(i.e. you and casey), understanding the former as purely linguistic, assumes a series of dichotomies—thought/reality, appearance/essence, mind/matter, word/world, subjective/objective—that a critical genealogy calls into question(BINGO). Against this, the perspective taken here affirms the material and performative character of discourse. 6”

    3. I’m sure you have seen this since you have “I’ve cut all of the famous “reps key” cards and the common denominator seems to be that the way a policy is framed is meaningful”, but to review

    Smith, Review of International Studies (1997), 23:4:507-516 (apologies for lack of specific page, i did not cut the most accessible version of this card i have available)
    My central claim is that Wallace has a very restricted notion of politics, such that it seems obvious to him just who are those who ‘have to struggle with the dilemmas of power’. For him the political arena is public and it refers to the formal political process, specifically involving the academic in ‘speaking truth to power’. I think that there are two fundamental problems with this view of politics. First, it is very narrow indeed, referring to the activities of elected politicians and policy-makers. It ignores the massive area of political activity that is not focused on the electoral and policy-making processes, and the host of ‘political’ activities that do not accord with the formal processes of politics. His is a very official and formal definition of politics, one that would omit a vast array of political activities. For Wallace, ‘political’ means having to do with the formal policy process, thereby restricting discussion of politics to a very small subset of what I would define as political. Therefore, Wallace would see detachment where I see engagement; hiding behind the walls of the monastery where I see deep enquiry into the possibilities of the political; and scholasticism where I see intellectual endeavour. Second, and for me more importantly, his view of politics is narrow because it confines itself to policy debates dealing with areas of disagreement between com- peting party positions. The trouble with this view is of course that it ignores the shared beliefs of any era, and so does not enquire into those things that are not problematic for policy-makers. By focusing on the policy debate, we restrict ourselves to the issues of the day, to the tip of the political iceberg. What politics seems to me to be crucially about is how and why some issues are made intelligible as political problems and how others are hidden below the surface (being defined as ‘economic’ or ‘cultural’ or ‘private’). In my own work I have become much more interested in this aspect of politics in the last few years. I spent a lot of time dealing with policy questions and can attest to the ‘buzz’ that this gave me both professionally and personally. But I became increasingly aware that the realm of the political that I was dealing with was in fact a very small part of what I would now see as political. I therefore spent many years working on epistemology, and in fact consider that my most political work. I am sure that William Wallace will regard this comment as proof of his central claim that I have become scholastic rather than scholarly, but I mean it absolutely. My current work enquires into how it is that we can make claims to knowledge, how it is that we ‘know’ things about the international political world. My main claim is that International Relations relies overwhelmingly on one answer to this question, namely, an empiricist epistemology allied to a positivistic methodology. This gives the academic analyst the great benefit of having a foundation for claims about what the world is like. It makes policy advice more saleable, especially when positivism’s commitment to naturalism means that the world can be presented as having certain furniture rather than other furniture. The problem is that in my view this is a flawed version of how we know things; indeed it is in fact a very political view of knowledge, born of the Enlightenment with an explicit political purpose. So much follows politically from being able to present the world in this way; crucially the normative assumptions of this move are hidden in a false and seductive mask of objectivity and by the very difference between statements of fact and statements of value that is implied in the call to ‘speak truth to power’. For these reasons, I think that the political is a far wider arena than does Wallace. This means that I think I am being very political when I lecture or write on epistemology. Maybe that does not seem political to those who define politics as the public arena of policy debate; but I believe that my work helps uncover the regimes of truth within which that more restricted definition of politics operates. In short, I think that Wallace’s view of politics ignores its most political aspect, namely, the production of discourses of truth which are the very processes that create the space for the narrower version of politics within which he works. My work enquires into how the current ‘politics’ get defined and what (political) interests benefit from that disarming division between the political and the non-political. In essence, how we know things determines what we see, and the public realm of politics is itself the result of a prior series of (political) epistemological moves which result in the political being seen as either natural or a matter of common sense.

  22. Bill Batterman Post author

    Here’s that Smith card with the page number… and yes, I’ve cut it/read the article. Didn’t mean to sound arrogant–just didn’t want people to think I was unfamiliar with these arguments. I’ll reply in a separate comment to make things cleaner.

    Steve SMITH, Professor of International Relations at the University of East Anglia, 1997
    [“Power and truth; a reply to William Wallace,” Review of International Studies, Volume 23, Issue 04, October, p. 508-509]
    My central claim is that Wallace has a very restricted notion of politics, such that it seems obvious to him just who are those who ‘have to struggle with the dilemmas of power’. For him the political arena is public and it refers to the formal political process, specifically involving the academic in ‘speaking truth to power’. I think that there are two fundamental problems with this view of politics. First, it is very narrow indeed, referring to the activities of elected politicians and policy-makers. It ignores the massive area of political activity that is not focused on the electoral and policy-making processes, and the host of ‘political’ activities that do not accord with the formal processes of politics. His is a very official and formal definition of politics, one that would omit a vast array of political activities. For Wallace, ‘political’ means having to do with the formal policy process, thereby restricting discussion of politics to a very small subset of what I would define as political. Therefore, Wallace would see detachment where I see engagement; hiding behind the walls of the monastery where I see deep enquiry into the possibilities of the political; and scholasticism where I see intellectual endeavour.

    Second, and for me more importantly, his view of politics is narrow because it confines itself to policy debates dealing with areas of disagreement between competing [end page 508] party positions. The trouble with this view is of course that it ignores the shared beliefs of any era, and so does not enquire into those things that are not problematic for policy-makers. By focusing on the policy debate, we restrict ourselves to the issues of the day, to the tip of the political iceberg. What politics seems to me to be crucially about is how and why some issues are made intelligible as political problems and how others are hidden below the surface (being defined as ‘economic’ or ‘cultural’ or ‘private’).

    In my own work I have become much more interested in this aspect of politics in the last few years. I spent a lot of time dealing with policy questions and can attest to the ‘buzz’ that this gave me both professionally and personally. But I became increasingly aware that the realm of the political that I was dealing with was in fact a very small part of what I would now see as political. I therefore spent many years working on epistemology, and in fact consider that my most political work. I am sure that William Wallace will regard this comment as proof of his central claim that I have become scholastic rather than scholarly, but I mean it absolutely. My current work enquires into how it is that we can make claims to knowledge, how it is that we ‘know’ things about the international political world. My main claim is that International Relations relies overwhelmingly on one answer to this question, namely, an empiricist epistemology allied to a positivistic methodology. This gives the academic analyst the great benefit of having a foundation for claims about what the world is like. It makes policy advice more saleable, especially when positivism’s commitment to naturalism means that the world can be presented as having certain furniture rather than other furniture. The problem is that in my view this is a flawed version of how we know things; indeed it is in fact a very political view of knowledge, born of the Enlightenment with an explicit political purpose. So much follows politically from being able to present the world in this way; crucially the normative assumptions of this move are hidden in a false and seductive mask of objectivity and by the very difference between statements of fact and statements of value that is implied in the call to ‘speak truth to power’.

    For these reasons, I think that the political is a far wider arena than does Wallace. This means that I think I am being very political when I lecture or write on epistemology. Maybe that does not seem political to those who define politics as the public arena of policy debate; but I believe that my work helps uncover the regimes of truth within which that more restricted definition of politics operates. In short, I think that Wallace’s view of politics ignores its most political aspect, namely, the production of discourses of truth which are the very processes that create the space for the narrower version of politics within which he works. My work enquires into how the current ‘politics’ get defined and what (political) interests benefit from that disarming division between the political and the non-political. In essence, how we know things determines what we see, and the public realm of politics is itself the result of a prior series of (political) epistemological moves which result in the political being seen as either natural or a matter of common sense.

  23. Paul Strait

    An aspect of this discussion that seems unexplored, and is another way to distinguish between "plan focus" and "policy relevance," is the the status of counterplans that are textually competitive but not functionally competitive. That is, they PIC out of a word in the plan which they assert is a bad word to use when discussing policy. In either case, the actual policies are identical, all the way down to the text of the legislation, supreme court decision, or executive order.

    Under "plan focus," those CPs are competitive, probably. Under "policy relevance," those CPs are almost certainly not competitive. Since the CP aspect of these negative strategies is used to make what would otherwise be a negligible representations impact relevant, the question of whether these CPs are competitive seems to be a relevant part of this discussion.

  24. Scott Phillips

    Bill,

    That you could construe the Smith evidence as consistent with your position is mind boggling to me- its a K of the very mode of “rational decision maker” that you are using as the basis of your point. I think we may have to agree to disagree on this one at this point, but I will try one last time to explain why in the following 3 ways:

    1. Your assumption that the judge can ignore one advantage and vote for another assumes a division between action and justification that is untenable- justifications are actions! While you can use a “plan focus” theory argument to say interrogating representations is an unfair burden for the aff or distracts from the topic, how you could read this evidence and think it supports that distinction is beyond me. That dichotomy itself relies on a series of other dichotomies like subject/object , inside/outside, theory/practice that are themselves called into question by representational critiques.

    2. Your positioning of the judge as a “rational policy maker” is not value neutral- when pressed you and case both fall back on “its not that they don’t matter, its that the judge can chose to ignore them”. This is a distinction without a difference- if the end result is that they are not factored into the decision then REPS DON’T MATTER- period. When I chose to ignore something, say the well known health facts about drinking soda, they cease to matter to me. You both repeatedly wish away objections by saying “the judge can chose” but this does not respond to the critics- your positing of WHAT the judge is chosing has rigged the game- this is EXACTLY what smith is talking about- it is as if you and Casey were quoting Wallace in your points. The fact is the plan is a policy, but it is not the only “policy” in the 1AC- and to assume it does is to buy into a very specific mode of politics.

    3. “I don’t think so—my view is that the constitutive effects of a given representation are only accrued when that representation is affirmed/endorsed. If the judge does not affirm or endorse that representation, then what impact does it have?”

    Can you point to a single line in any of the evidence here that you think supports this distinction? The 1AC is a calculated political act- the aff is not stuck with a certain set of representations, they get the choice. Once they chose to describe the world in a certain way, why should they not be responsible for those choices? All of this evidence says that the way we describe the world- the way the aff chooses to describe the world- is an ethical and political act. It may be true that “the judges action does not incur the DA” but again, that is not the question posed by the ballot- you are assuming things into facts that are contestable and political. You also say:

    “Not looking for that. Looking for scholarly support for the argument that the undesirability of one justification for action is sufficient to disprove the desirability of that action.”

    Where is a card that says the opposite? Honestly, I think you can Casey have perfectly embodied the “problem-solving” theory critiqued by Heidegerrians who I know you detest. Their basic point is we come up with an action and then search for problems to justify it- a more apt description of your model is impossible I think.

    Spanos, Boundary 2, 1990 219-220
    What if, to be more historically specific, we read Heidegger’s state¬mrnt not simply in the context of the Third Reich, the Holocaust, and the question of German national identity (the context which has come to be called the Historikerstreit), but also, as the American appropriation of the debate surely demands, from the immediate perspective of the Vietnamese suffered face to face (and continue to suffer) the dreadful conse¬quences of the American intervention in Vietnam undertaken in the name the “free world,” which is to say, of the liberal discourse and practices of the West? In referring to “American intervention,” I do not mean to suggest a purely military act of violence (an “atrocity”) which was radically different from the cultural discourse and the political, social, and economic (including agricultural) practices accompanying this intervention-and which, there¬fore was essentially and solely responsible not only for the massive and gratuitous destruction of human (civilian) life, but also for the devastation of a culture, more specifically, of a “rice culture,” a traditional way of life utterly and resonantly integral with the Vietnamese earth, in this case, the rice paddies. This would be the reading demanded by the binary logic of Davidson’s interpretation of and judgment against Heidegger’s synecdo¬chal text, if it were applied to the American intervention in Vietnam, as significantly it has not been. What I mean is that the American intervention constituted a relay of interventions, which, however uneven the distribution of destruction, were in essence the same: not only in the sense that they were informed through and through by a hyper-instrumentalized reason¬ the advanced, end-oriented technology that, according to Heidegger, in ex¬tending its dominion over the planet, promises the fulfillment and “end of philosophy”-but also, as I will show, in the sense that the culpability for the horrible human consequences of these interventions defies moral dis¬crimination. Continued on p. 231-3 In its monolithic will to accomplish the imperatives of an imperial economy, which it represented as a benign “mission” to “save” a “free” Viet¬nam from the “savagery” of Chinese Communist domination, in the face of a bafflingly elusive “Other,” the American Command not only visited death and mutilation on the peasant population of Vietnam at large; in devastat¬ing the Vietnamese earth in the process, it violently uprooted a traditional -stable, agricultural, and family-oriented-people (those who survived), transforming them into a population of spiritually as well as physically mu¬tilated refugees 3Z In short, the American Military Command’s massive and indiscriminate use of high-technological fire power against an enemy who refused to distinguish his/her person from the land on which he/she dwelled also destroyed the culture of the Vietnamese people. According to Frances FitzGerald, this terrible experience of cultural death, even more than the violence of the “face to face experience of horror,” of mass death and mu¬tilation, was, from the point of view of the Vietnamese people at large, the dreadful legacy of the American intervention in Vietnam: Still, the physical destruction is not, perhaps, the worst of it. The destruction of an entire society-“That is, above all, what the Viet¬namese blame Americans for,” said one Vietnamese scholar. “Will¬fully or not, they have tended to destroy what is most precious to us: family, friendship, our manner of expressing ourselves.” For all these years, the columns in the Saigon newspapers denouncing Ameri¬cans for destroying “Vietnamese culture” have sounded somehow fatuous and inadequate to those Americans who witnessed the U.S. bombing raids. But the Vietnamese kept their sights on what is per¬manent and irreparable. Physical death is everywhere, but it is the social death caused by the destruction of the family that is of over¬riding importance. . . . The land and the family were the two sources of national as well as personal identity. The Americans have de stroyed these sources for many Vietnamese, not merely by killing people but by forcibly separating them, by removing the people from – the land and depositing them in the vast swamp-cities 33 But to restrict this violence against an absolutely demonized “other simply to the context of military operations-the direct and visible use of force by the State-is misleading in a way that disables criticism. For, like the representations of American violence by the liberal humanist opponents of the war-even those who raised the question of war crimes and genocide-to isolate critique to the site of the overt manifestation of power is to lend such critique to the radical discrimination between the military intervention and the cultural discourse and practice accompanying it, i.e.. to the rationalized conclusion that the American destruction of Vietnam and its culture was the result, not of the fulfillment of the American ideological narrative, but of the betrayal of its liberal humanist (disinterested) value system. What the actual events of this shameful-I am tempted to say “unpardonable”-period in American history disclosed more dramatically and forcefully than any other historically specific moment-even that extended period in the nineteenth century bearing witness to the genocidal practices of Manifest Destiny-is, to use an Althusserian terminology, that the cultural apparatuses, the agencies of knowledge production, were absolutely continuous with the (Repressive) State Apparatuses: that the American Command which wasted Vietnam in trying to fulfill its restricted narrative economy was not purely a military/political command, but a relay of commands extending from the government through the military/industrial complex to the network of technical advisory agencies (military, political, cultural, social, informational, economic, etc.) and, as the protest movement made clear in exposing the complicity of the University with these commands, especially to the academic institutions of knowledge production 3^ One has only to read the secret memoranda of The Pentagon Papers, as Richard Ohmann did in 1975, to perceive that the “rational” (“can do”) discourse (and the problem-solving model determining its thought process)35 of the liberal humanist intellectuals who planned American policy-Robert McNamara, McGeorge Bundy, William Bundy, Walt Rostow, John McNaughton, to name only the most prominent-was a tech¬nological discursive practice that, in its unerring obliteration of potentially disruptive differences in the name of Identity, was in essence the same as the military technological practices which unerringly and indiscriminately destroyed Vietnam in the name of a decisive victory, i.e., of a “final solution” to the Vietnam problem: Of course it is the job of generals to win, and political impact be damned. The more surprising and dismaying revelation of The Pen¬tagon Papers is how much the civilians running America came to share this perspective. Perhaps the neatly symmetrical form . . . and the mechanical quality of the whole paradigm, helped dull their senses and made the unspeakable a daily routine. An all-pervasive metaphor accompanies the argumentative strategy [of the problem-solving model]: that of cost and benefit. . . . They must solve problems, even if it means subtracting cab¬bages from kings. Thus McGeorge Bundy in February, 1965, advo¬cating a course of “sustained reprisal” against North Vietnam for “offenses” against the south. “While we believe that the risks of such a policy are acceptable, we emphasize that its costs are real.” These costs include “significant air losses,” “an extensive and costly effort against the whole air defense system of North Vietnam,” high U.S. casualties, and arousal of American “feelings.” “Yet measured against the costs of defeat in Vietnam, this program seems cheap. And even if it faiis to turn the tide-as it may-the value of the effort seems to us to exceed its cost.” . . . What arguments like these have in common is a lunatic incommensurability. Even now, reading these documents, I
    want to shout “You destroyed the South Vietnamese people, and talked of piaster spending. You held off from still greater killing only because open debate in America about doing so might encourage the North Viet¬namese.” The main point to make, in this context, is that since the suffering of the Vietnamese didn’t impinge on the consciousness of the policy-makers as a cost, it had virtually no existence for them¬ at least not in these memoranda 36 And, I submit, what Ohmann discloses in general about the dreadful, routin¬ized indifference to the Vietnamese’ “face to face experience of the horror” inscribed in the technicist discursive practices of this relay of American commands applies with exceptional force to the agencies responsible for the dissemination of agricultural knowledge and practice-especially the cultivation of rice-to the Vietnamese people.

    Thats right- SPANOS CARD PLAYED- TRUMP!

  25. Devin

    Bill, I’d like to take another look at two of the scenarios you’ve conceived of and pose a few more.

    1. Looking at the baseball scenario from the main article: You’re friend invites you to the baseball game for fun, food, and batterie throwing. While you are correct that assaulting baseball players is not intrinsic to attending a game, this answer oversimplifies the problem. Firstly, agreeing to go the game, regardless of what element of the proposal was most convincing, is still an endorsement of the proposal as a whole. Thus, you’d be responding in the affirmative to a person’s reprehensible proposal even if you’re only in it for the hot dogs. Secondly, the problem begs the question of why you’d want to spend time with such a violent person at all. If battery-hurling is a part of the person’s justification for going to the game, then the justification and the attendance are inseparably tainted by this dubious character. 



    2. Let’s look at another real world application of the theory. A friend invites you to a party. He tells you that there will be good music, nice people, and that you’d have the opportunity to steal the host’s DVD collection. How can you take him up on his offer without implicitly endorsing him stealing the unsuspecting host’s complete series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer disks? Wouldn’t going to the party also affirm that you like said person and want to continue spending time with him?

    3. Look to the slavery scenario you constructed: This is an illuminating scenario, but in a way you didn’t intend. We have two ways of arguing for the abolition of slavery, the “human dignity” camp and the “Northern competitiveness” camp. It is important to recognize, in this situation, that while arguing for the same policy, these two arguments are coming from different advocacy frameworks AND from different people. If we are evaluating this like a senator, then that distinction makes little difference. BUT, if we are evaluating the situation like a debate judge, the distinction matters. When judging a round, our imperative isn’t to determine whether or not a policy is more desirable than not (afterall, the next round we may decide the exact opposite way). Rather, our imperative is to evaluate which debater and which line of argumentation or advocacy is superior. In the case of the slavery question, we can say that the “human dignity” debaters are superior to the ‘Northern competitiveness” debaters, despite both making true arguments. As you’ve pointed out, both of these claims would not be made by the same person – doing so, would be poor debating.

    4. Another similar example: Two arguments are made by two distinct interest groups. Both arguments say that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Raids should be stopped immediately. The first group argues that ICE raids are atrocious, violent and racist. The second group argues that ICE raids prevent employers employing undocumented immigrants at lower wages. Both the human rights advocates and the exploiters of immigrant labor would love to see an end to ICE raids. You’d be correct to say that making the policy decision to stop ICE raids does not implicitly make you either a human rights advocate or of the exploiting class. However, one way of advocating for the policy is ethical and the other is deplorable. In evaluating a debate, especially one where a team makes an ethical demand of the judge, you must take the particular teams advocacy into account. One advocate of the policy could win, a different advocate may lose. This decision calculus is independent of whether the policy is net beneficial in a vacuum. A team that made both arguments, would still be making a deplorable argument, despite the first argument being ethically sound.

    5. For ‘policymaker’ judges, “judge choice” makes a lot of sense as a way to reconcile reps Ks with their decision making framework. However, for judges who do not inherently prioritize policymaking as their paradigm, “judge choice” falls a bit short. If one chooses to evaluate a round without a policymaking paradigm, then representations cannot be abstracted from policy. The Smith card discussed above makes the argument that this distinction needs to be called into question (especially when a negative team is instructing us as such). If a policy is on-the-whole advantageous but the debaters advocate it from a reprehensible position, even if the policy could have been advocated ethically, there is still an imperative to vote it down.

    Afterall, when signing a ballot one way or another, we are not voting ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on a particular policy; we are voting ‘aff’ or ‘neg’ in regards to who the better debate team is. I’d contend that advocacy matters here.

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