Category Archives: Digging Into The Debate Theory Archives

Digging Into The Debate Theory Archives: Ulrich on Counter-Procedure Counterplans

Digging Into The Debate Theory Archives is a series highlighting “old” debate theory articles that are particularly thought-provoking, influential, or illuminating and that active debate students would benefit from reading.

In part five of the recent series on the history of plans in policy debate, I quoted Walter Ulrich’s 1987 attempt to categorize the different types of counterplans. He distinguished between three major types: counter agent counterplans, counter policy counterplans, and counter procedure counterplans. While further sub-categorizations (like Solt’s twelve categories) may be helpful to distinguish between particular counterplans, the simplicity of Ulrich’s taxonomy can help students recognize their shared foundational assumptions.

Ulrich outlined his categorization scheme in a short article about one of the three counterplan types he identified: counter procedure counterplans. He defined them as counterplans that “develop alternative methods of evaluating and/or adopting the policy defended by the affirmative.” Popular examples included “the referendum counterplan, the study counterplan, planning counterplans, and other counterplans that advocate alternative processes for evaluating the affirmative policy.”

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Digging Into The Debate Theory Archives: Cheshier on Effects Topicality

Digging Into The Debate Theory Archives is a series highlighting “old” debate theory articles that are particularly thought-provoking, influential, or illuminating and that active debate students would benefit from reading.

In this installment of the series, I am sharing David Cheshier’s 1999 Rostrum article about effects topicality. Cheshier’s monthly columns in Rostrum were an excellent resource for debaters in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and they addressed many of the most important theoretical controversies of the era. While some columns feel a bit dated in 2021, many are as relevant as ever. This one is a good example — especially for students preparing to debate the 2021-2022 water resources protection topic.

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Digging Into The Debate Theory Archives: Lambertson on Plans and Counterplans (from 1943)

Digging Into The Debate Theory Archives is a series highlighting “old” debate theory articles that are particularly thought-provoking, influential, or illuminating and that active debate students would benefit from reading.

To this point, the articles in this series have been from the most prolific period of published debate scholarship: the 1970s and 1980s. But earlier eras also offer insightful articles that still hold resonance today. In this installment of the series, I will highlight a 1943 article about plans and counterplans. It is one of many interesting findings from my recent deep dive into the history of plans.

Written by Floyd W. Lambertson, a Professor of Speech at the Iowa State Teachers College (now the University of Northern Iowa), it includes an early theorization of standards for evaluating plans and counterplans. The most interesting part is that Lambertson surveyed several other debate coaches (including A. Craig Baird and Alan Nichols) and documented their perspectives on plan writing, the role of plans in debate, and the affirmative and negative burdens associated with them. This gives contemporary readers insight into the era’s “community consensus” about plans and counterplans.

Current students will recognize many similarities with the controversies that still exist today about plan specification, solvency burdens, and counterplan competition. More than two decades before the formal development of the policymaking paradigm, the basic foundation for counterplan theory as it has been understood for the last fifty years was already being developed. Most histories of the counterplan don’t start until the paradigm wars of the 1970s — until a few years ago, that’s when I thought they were first introduced — but understanding these earlier origins can provide important historical context for the counterplan theory battles of later eras.

The full text of Lambertson’s article is below.

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Digging Into The Debate Theory Archives: Solt on Types of Counterplans and Constraints on Negative Fiat

Digging Into The Debate Theory Archives is a series highlighting “old” debate theory articles that are particularly thought-provoking, influential, or illuminating and that active debate students would benefit from reading.

In 1989, Roger Solt identified twelve types of counterplans that were relatively popular during that era of policy debate. Solt’s categories are:

  1. Foreign/international counterplans
  2. International organization (of which the U.S. is a member) counterplans
  3. Private (self-interested) institution counterplans
  4. Private (public-interested) institution counterplans
  5. Fundamental change to basic form of government counterplans
  6. Radical topic-related reforms counterplans
  7. Sub-federal level of U.S. government counterplans
  8. Process counterplans
  9. Exceptions counterplans
  10. Offset counterplans
  11. Advantage counterplans
  12. Uniqueness counterplans
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Digging Into The Debate Theory Archives: Schunk on Fiat, Pseudo-Inherency, Circumvention, and Process DAs

I’ve long believed that students can learn a lot by exploring “old” debate scholarship. But with a few notable exceptions (like Solt’s “The Disposition of Counterplans and Permutations”), most students have little exposure to the ideas that circulated in earlier eras of debate. To help students “connect the dots” between older debate scholarship and contemporary controversies and arguments, I will occasionally dig into my archive of articles to highlight ones that are particularly thought-provoking, influential, or illuminating.

The first article I’ve selected — John Schunk’s “Affirmative Fiat, Plan Circumvention, and the ‘Process’ Disadvantage: The Further Ramifications of Pseudo-Inherency,” published in 1981 — explains a theory of fiat that is still relevant to today’s controversies about plan texts, circumvention arguments, and process DAs and counterplans. Distinguishing between “legitimate” inherency and what he calls “pseudo-inherency,” Schunk argues that most circumvention arguments (as they continue to be argued today) misunderstand the meaning of “should” in a policy proposition.

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