Category Archives: Kritiks

Recommended Podcast Episode: Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò on Deference Epistemology and Standpoint Epistemology

Podcasts are an excellent educational resource for debaters. I will occasionally recommend specific episodes that debaters might find particularly helpful.

Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò is a philosophy professor at Georgetown. He recently wrote two provocative articles about the concept of deference epistemology and its relationship to standpoint epistemology: “Identity Politics and Elite Capture” (in the Boston Review) and “Being-in-the-Room Privilege: Elite Capture and Epistemic Deference” (in The Philosopher). Both have significant potential applications to popular debate arguments; Jenny Zhang explicitly made that connection in a Gawker article. Táíwò is also working on a book-length version of these articles; its title is Elite Capture: How the Powerful Took Over Identity Politics (And Everything Else) and it will be published by Haymarket Books in mid-2022.

Cards from Táíwò’s articles are already being cited in debates, and I expect that they will become increasingly popular going forward. To help students understand how to defend and answer Táíwò’s arguments, I recommend two podcast episodes: “Identity, Power, and Speech with Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò” from The Dig and “Constructing New Rooms with Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò” from The End of Sport.

The former episode is a long, in-depth conversation about Táíwò’s articles. Daniel Denvir is a talented interviewer, and his questions give Táíwò an opportunity to unpack, explain, and expand his position. Listening to this conversation will help students better understand the concepts and arguments in Táíwò’s work.

In the latter episode, hosts Nathan Kalman-Lamb, Johanna Mellis, and Derek Silva ask Táíwò to apply his arguments to sports. The conversation begins with a basic introduction to the idea of racial capitalism and then moves to a discussion of elite capture and how it plays out inside and outside of sports, including in last year’s WNBA and NBA player protests and in Colin Kaepernick’s exclusion from the NFL. Then, Táíwò offers a succinct explanation of what he means by the concept of deference epistemology, how it differs from standpoint epistemology, and how it might be applied to college football during the pandemic. Sports fans will find this episode particularly helpful for understanding Táíwò’s arguments, but I think it will be helpful even for students who aren’t familiar with the specific details of the sports examples.

Fiori on Performative Contradictions

In an article on the UTNIF blog, Nick Fiori—Assistant Director of Debate at Damien High School—highlights the frequency with which contradictions are made between a critique and the rest of the arguments presented in a first negative constructive speech. Negatives often present a security critique, for example, while simultaneously presenting disadvantages premised upon security logic.

[C]ertainly there exists a pre-disposition against performative contradictions in debate; only by mistake do negatives read a hegemony good disad and a hegemony bad disad in the same 1NC. But this type of contradiction is less problematic because any reasonably experienced 2AC could exploit the contradiction to their advantage by conceding some arguments and turning others. But with advocacies, by this I mean arguments that would produce a change over the status quo (counterplans, alternatives), it’s more tricky, and when those advocacies exists on conceptually different levels like a counterplan and Kritik, the contradiction seems to take on actual and not just debate practice problems. If it is true, as the negative’s had argued, that it wasn’t the effects of the plan that were the problem, but the rhetoric of the 1AC, then why is it that the negative is allowed to make such utterances but the affirmative cannot? I speak only from my personal experience, but it seems to me that there is a general default among debate judges that this position is perfectly defensible. Why is it so incredibly rare for the aff to be able to win on the argument that the negative links to their own Kritik when, on face, it seems largely unfair?

Head over the UTNIF blog to read the entire piece.

Going for Framework on the Aff: Its hip to be square pt 1

Debate arguments often operate like fashion trends; they emerge on the scene, gain popularity, that popularity peaks and then declines. Some arguments, like multiple counterplans, then experience a resurgence years later. For some time now it has been very difficult to gain any traction by going for framework arguments on the affirmative vs negative critiques. This is partially because judges get tired of hearing trite theory debates, and also because as the K has gotten more and more mainstream the idea that it is “abusive” has become a tough sell. However, many greedy negatives are not content with 4 entirely plan inclusive counterplans- they also want to use framework to moot the remaining shards of 1AC so that they can pick up an easy win. Because of this, you as an affirmative must be able to pick up on when it is happening, and competently extend framework.

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Asking better cx questions vs a K

Many people follow a script when debating any kind of K and ask the same cross x questions regardless of what the neg’s argument is. These questions often follow a general trend started at a camp or by a dominant team, and like fashion trends they can’t all be fleece vests- some are going to suck. So in an attempt to improve the quality of your cx’s I am going to go through some current popular lines of questioning criticizing them and then offer some alternatives (omg its just like a k inside of this post about k’s… braaaaaaaaaaaaaahm)

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Kritik Concept 2- We don’t need uniqueness

Inevitably each summer when students are asked what makes a k different from a da one of the answers given is that a k doesn’t require uniqueness. This view is reflected in many debates I see where a team reading a k will respond to arguments about uniqueness by saying “duh, we are a k” and act as if that fixes everything.

The idea that k’s don’t “need” uniqueness relies on a basic misunderstanding of a few concepts I will now attempt to elaborate.

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Keep Sending in K answers

The consolidated K answer project has gotten a lot of good responses with a few people in particular going above and beyond and contributing quite a bit.

But there is always more to do! Please email in any contribution you can- cards, cites, books/articles that look good.

Especially for the sort of stock K args that cross over to many different K’s like
-predictions fail
-value to life
-reps/language key
-serial policy failure/error replication
-defenses of empiricism and qualifications
-root cause
-terminal extinction impacts like modernity/rationality/technology/neoliberalism/militarism/biopower cause extinction