RACE --- race
Tue Sep 23 20:41:00 CDT 1997

Congratulations to all on the end of the first weekend of competition.
My hopes are that all found the experience both equitable and enjoyable.

Daniel Hugh Nexon wrote:
> [verbiage snipped]
> > If a term is demeaned or brought to meaninglessness in my terminology,
> > there are several implications off the top of my head.  First, that
> > which is A's ground directly tradesoff with that which is N's ground.
> The presumption, of course, is that ground is zero-sum. I disagree.
> Besides, this argument is indeterminate: if a word in the resolution has
> no independent meaning, if it adds nothing to the resolution, than why
> should we care (there is no effect on ground in the first place).

The structure of debate creates a zero-sum in that the affirmative has
already run the plan that linguistically "belong to" the negative.

Obviously i'm not making myself clear about the search for meaning
here.  It is not just an attempt to sketch the scope of the meaning but
also the depth of the meaning.  Total meaninglessness is the absurd
extension of this but the concept involved is a preference associated
with relative meaningfulness.  This eliminates much of the traditional
broad-narrow discussion.  The more meaningful interpretation of the
collective words in the resolution may be very very broad or very very
narrow.  Those are issued to consider in framing future resolutions.
The idea here is which interpretation provides a deep meaningfulness to
the collective terms in the resolution.  Most of the little snipets and
examples which i've used that are tautalogical (as is most of life by
the way) are suggestions for why this interpretation provides a more
meaningful interpretation of the phrase than the alternative
interpretations of the resolution (which are pretty ambiguous so far in
the thread which is - i guess understandable).
> Please elucidate. It seems to me you are making the classic mistake of
> equating a [particular] meaning of a resolution with the [particular]
> meaning of one of its constituitve terms. (This doesn't surprise, given
> the particular German term you use earlier....) The phrase in the
> resolution can still have "predictable" meaning even if one element proves
> to be linguistically superfluous. (I think this question is irrelevant,
> however, given that we agree that its serves a function either way, and is
> therefore not meaningless compared to a resolution without it)

I don't think i'm making this a-the movement at all.  And the grounding
i suggested was probably not nearly as German as it sounded.  (though i
did recently discover that the Rhaesa name for those who have asked me
for more than a decade is definitely German!)
> Take the example of Southeast Asia below. You've explained adequately why
> Southeast Asia: [list] is grammatical, and how the list provides a
> specific limit on the general term, yet the list itself provides the same
> limit with the presence or absence of the term SEA.

I believed that was what you were asking for.  I guess i missed
something.  I am once again adequate and inadequate but am slowly slowly
learning about this whole thought process.

 Ergo, by your
> standard, SEA places no "unique" limit on the resolution and, it seems,
> the resolution is inherently flawed.

Always beware of sentences starting with "ergo" (this is an old German

We've agreed (i thought) that all resolutions are inherently flawed in
that language is inherently ambiguous.  Once again, i don't grasp the
need to dive for the lifeboats and not attempt to ascertain some
semblance of what i've called "correctness" as opposed to Truth.  The
latter is best found in a meditation room at the Naropa Institute in

Whether an alternative meaning of the
> term "its" might place an "unique" limit on the resolution is irrelevant.

The problem here once again of course is that you assume that any
interpretation of the resolution is valid until proven not valid and
your standard of proof is a level called "certainty for eternity" which
is pure silliness on your part.

I must apologize for my glibness this evening ... but i have spent weeks
attempting to find a way not to treat you in this manner with zero
success.  At times you seem to be a very insightful and thoughtful
person and i enjoy the interaction and then you turn into some kind of
mutant gnat!

> The example of SEA already demonstrates that a term can serve no
> meaningful function from the perspective you have laid out to critique the
> "possesive" interpertation of "its" without diminishing the meaningfulness
> of the resolution as a whole.

Wait a minute!!!!  I explained some meaing decently or adequately or
something.  And it does diminish the resolution as a whole BUT (and here
is my threshold argument once again!!!) That doesn't mean you should
apply that to other phrases in the resolution and ENCOUARGE
interpretations which provide minimal meaning when QUITE meaningful
interpretations are plausible.
>   Third, i imagine that your notions here would be
> > different if the title of the thread were "security", however, i'm
> > arguing previously and below that the "threshold" for interpretive
> > reasonableness does carry over from one portion of the topicality
> > discussion to another.  It seems that the current "paradigm" suggests
> > that any ambiguity in words (which there always is) requires a throwing
> > up of the hands linguistically and moving to questions of competitive
> > equity.  This seems a sad move to me.
> I'm sorry it brings a tear to your eye, but I find nothing in your
> argument to suggest any different evaluative concept other than
> "competitive equity": not your "three reasons" why terms must have meaning
> (from ground through predictability), nor the "unique" meaning argument
> which seems, at least to me, indistinguisable from a claim that "limits
> are good, more limits more so."

I'll keep working to explain things better.  Perhaps it would help me if
i had a CLEAR notion of what YOU mean by competitive equity because
everyone i know has a different notion of it and it usually shifts
depending on which side of the topic they are on at the time.

But this is also why my use of "paradigm" in quotes below is precisely
accurate.  The "normal science" you suggest of "competitive equity"
blinds people to the possibility of even "entertaining" other options
despite the anomalous factor that year after year at the end of the
season many voices are raised loudly about the failure of the "normal
> Besides, your own admission of "ambiguity in words" at least goes far
> enough for my purpose: it makes absurd your claim to have dveloped the
> "correct" understanding of the resolution. But I would go further, the
> current "paradigm" (why put the word in quotations and use it, since you
> eveidently realize it is most likely a misues of the concept?) is, in
> fact, a "good" thing in that it recognizes any attempt to fix meaning
> serves particular uses and interests, and makes manifest this relationship
> (and often ironically.....).

This obviously depends on what one means by correct.  I have attempted
to distinguish it from a claim to TRUTH.  I have explicitly stated that
i'm listening for something to convince me otherwise.  If you prefer the
word "preferable" to "correct" you may choose to transpose them --
however i would warn that the term "preferable" has become so muddied in
the practice of embracing ambiguity that any reason for preference is
considered as reasonable as another which makes the discussions ...
> [snip--SEA discussed above]
> > > The *agent* is limited, not the provider of security assistance. Imagine:
> > > resolved, Dan should increase candy deliveries to eDebate members. It is
> > > not a given that I have to deliver the candy myself. Compare to: ...Dan
> > > should increase *my* candy deliberies...."
> > >
> > > Ahh, but you got this below.
> >
> > not only do i get to it, but your example clearly demonstrates my
> > argument given that the second anecdotal reference is analogous to the
> > resolutional wording.
> Uh, yes.
>  This anecdote, however, as with the one on
> > coaching in AD's posts seems difficult to accept because the reference
> > of the possessive is a WHO rather than a WHAT.  The presence of ITS
> > suggests a WHAT.
> No, it doesn't. I don't want to sound patronizing, but in English, when
> the subject of a sentence is third-person singular we use he/she/it. In
> American English, in particular, an entity such as a government is not
> gendered: "its" is correct either way, whether WHO or WHAT (if I
> understand you here).
> > These criteria are not purely exogenous.  They relate to the context of
> > interpretation concerning debate as a practice.  The notion of what
> > constitutes redundancy, it seems to me, entails including some notions
> > of accepted debate practice as context.  The question of FIAT and its
> > meaning is a thread which crosses the context of specific debate
> > resolutions, while the question of the meaning of a Specific debate
> > resolution falls within the general context of debate as practice.
> I disagree entirely. The question of the scope of fiat logically follows
> from the resolution, and does not proceed it. Debate practice has
> developed cross-resolutional commencurability precisely because the
> structure of resolutions has remained basically the same: X (the US)
> should do Y (increase SA, adopt a policy to). The only deviant I can think
> of recently was the Privacy topic, when, in fact, fiat questions became a
> little more interesting.
> Examples: imagine the resolution had been one of the following:
> Resolved that...
> 1.The US, in conjunction with Japan, should.....
> 2.ASEAN should....
> 3.World War II should have been lost by the allies.
> 4.Heidegger's position in _Being in Time_ is correct.
> 5.Dan Nexon was a bad debater.
> 6.Dogs are smarter than cats.
> 7.It would be bad for ASEAN if it accepted F-18s from the US.
> etc.
> In these circumstances, fiat is radically different. Sometimes, our
> understandning of it has *no* meaning. In fact, fiat is a *product* of the
> meaning ascribed to the resolution. It looks like a "debate practice"
> because we're in a reflexive activity whereby, year after year, we choose
> similar resolutional structures which repeat the conditions necessary to
> conserve that practice.

i think the CONCEPT of Fiat is the same and the specific authority of
fiat as defined by the agent of action in each specific resolution is
different.  I'm beginning to wonder if you are able to clearly bracket
conceptual discussions from specific discussions.  Perhaps this is why i
appear so tautalogical to you and you seem so pesty to me.
>  > > I fail to see
> > > why questions of fiat or authority adress the "ask Australia" case....
> >
> > The "ask Australia" notion seems to be the example suggested here and in
> > another post so i will try to address it.  First, my interpretation
> > would also limit such cases to the same degree as the alternative
> > interpretations provided.  So if this is a "good" limit, it is not a
> > unique advantage to the alternative interpretations.
> This is irrelevant. See my earlier discussion. This is an answer to the
> "meaninglessness" argument. The "unqiue advantage" argument is at best
> question begging, at worst it demonstrates the circularity of your
> argument.
please try to stop tossing these damn labels out and explain why you
think i am doing these things so i can either correct my language or
correct misinterpretations.  (talk about claims without warrants!!!)

>   Second, the
> > question of authority here is one of whether the USFG would have the
> > jurisdictional power to dictate another's foreign policy with regard to
> > a substantial increase.
> No, this is a question of whether asking Australia would, in fact,
> result in an increase in security assistance to SEA. I guess that makes
> the topicality of the affirmative dependent on solvency. Bummer. (this is,
> in fact, what your argument below adds up to)


>   This comes from a cross-resolutional notion of
> > FIAT and a contextual notion of the subject/agency in this particular
> > resolution.  In regard to the "Ask Australia" plan, it would seem that
> > the redundancy might be present in the fact that a mere asking would not
> > constitute a substantial increase.  Thus the limit is not a limit at
> > all.
> Of course, your interpertation does nothing to avoid this problem, since
> the countires of SEA could simply reject the attempted increase in
> security assistance (Malaysia's PM might give us the finger, for example)
> meaning that the mere appropriation might not (in your words) "constitute
> a substantial increase."
> The counter I can think of is contingent on the meaning of "to." I guess
> one might produce an argument that the mere appropriation of additional
> security assistance was topical.....  But this doesn't strike me as
> persuasive for a number of reasons (for one thing, it might legitimate
> appropriating but never authorizing, or a plan to do both but send it
> somewhere else instead).
> But anyway, if "its" does mean what you argue it to mean, why wouldn't the
> "ask Australia" case be legitimate if Australia increased expenditures for
> US security assistance? (I can think of some reasons... but I don't
> particularly think we even need to get to this argument).
In that limited instance (with some objections i can think of but won't
go into here) it would be topical.  However, i still don't understand
how you'r interpretation would allow the negative to demarcate that ask
Australia was not topical.  Your interpretation has denied the relevance
of possessiveness ... where do we draw the lines.  Why can't ask
Australia be within "a" conception of security assistance by the United
States?  Obviously it would be.

Also, the ability of your interpretation to eliminate one potentially
abusive case does not seem to me to be a very high threshold of
determining meaningfulness.  The anomaly that is discussed at the end of
each year for the past decade is not the fact that One case was not
adequately eliminated but the vastness of the quantity that were
embraced.  It seems to me that the ideas i've been trying to suggest can
be helpful in this regard.  The idea of meaningfulness which i've been
discussing (and admittedly it is mutating along the way as most theory
does in evolution) seems to dovetail in another way with the discussion
of "paradigms".  The idea of the resolutions meaning is both the overall
scope and the exemplar.  The exemplar relates to the depth of the
meaning associated with the overall scope.  [Just another suggestion and
association i'm offering (at no expense to you) for ways of beginning to
re-think the thresholds of meaning in our ideas of preference.]

> > Also, the question would be, in my interpretation, whether USFG security
> > assistance is increased by the "asking of Austr. or Beta Antares"?  This
> > is not a subjective question under my notion.
> Yes it is. What constitutes the USFG's present security assitance? Do we
> look to committe jurisdiction, CBO reports, the department of state, of
> defense, Senator Jess Helms? Given the USFG is only constituted as a
> person for limited reasons (this issue would take all day) but *not*
> because it has a "mind," how can we even ask the question you want to ask
> in the first place?

i believe i dealt with this in one of the two previous answers to the
beginning portions of your post ... it is a question of a what meets not
a whether aff. must meet.
> > assumptions" or it is not argument.  To suggest that the burden of
> > topicality analysis requires an argument which is uncontested would seem
> > to suggest that Only dropped topicality attacks can be successful.
> > (this is yet another example of the type of threshold notion which is
> > problematic and mentioned in a string below)....
> I've snipped most of the above, and I've dealt with this earlier, but I
> feel the need to clarify that this is *not* my argument, nor have I ever
> suggested it. Rather, I argue that your grandiose claim that you have
> developed the 'one true' interpertation of the resolution is based upon
> assumptions which are ultimately unresolveable. They may be pragmatically
> resolved based on a situational decision calculous in the round (which is
> what happens) but, outside of that context, they cannot be used to assert
> a captial-T Truth claim such as you have. Moreover, I've dealt with the
> fiat issue above.

> > seem to care in the least what the specific resolution is and only with
> > the cart notions of how to determine meaning.  This obviously is another
> > theoretical quibble on my part which is probably beyond the scope of
> > this specific thread (and my time in dealing with this thread)
> Not at all. One of my problems is that you have invoked as a "rule" a
> conception of fiat which is, in fact, situationally dependent upon the
> resolution.

above.  concept rule with situational change in scope.

If you want to discuss the implications of the proposition
> that (and I agree with this, even though I think the meaning of the
> resolution is logically prior) in practice, fiat and topicality are
> co-determinate, I'd welcome it.

I'm not certain what you want to discuss but this co-determinancy thing
sounds interesting.  Probably totally unrelated to this is a practice
which i like to call "fiating topicality" by inserting the resolutional
words in the text of the plan to create the mirage of topicality and to
some the actual topicality in terms of fiat.  The concept of Fiat would
be prior but the specific application would be after the deterimination
of topicality.  This would suggest that such attempts are properly
understood as illusions.  Of course, it seems that the interpretation
i'm suggesting of "its" in this resolution eliminates the function of
these silly practices of recent years by recognizing that whether the
plan is topical requires an assessment of factual matters in current
security assistance.  Fiating in new meanings of security assistance are
specifically excluded.  This is one of the arguments i was making for
why the temporality is important.  If I can define security assistance
in my plan with no possessive constraint on the meaning than i can
create anything into security assistance by authority of the enactment
of the text.
> >  moreover, you've failed to demonstrate the utility or reason for
> > > assuming each word has to have a limiting function....
> >
> > i've tried to provide a bit more clarification in this regard in the
> > overview to my reply to AD's first reply to me and in several places
> > within this post.  I find it interesting that utility would be the
> > method of determining this.
> That's why I provide the "or." Before this post, you'd yet to give any
> explanation for why each word must have a limiting function. Don't mistake
> my attempt to be inclusive of a bunch of possibilities for a truth claim.

I hope that i've come along a bit further in creating some ideas here.
It has been painful.  I guess it usually is.  I would welcome tag-team
with anyone interested of contributing to these ideas and taking them
further and revising them.  I must admit that Daniel's particular method
of discussion has left me less interested in debate than i have been in
about twenty years.
> > > Actually, this is what we call a claim without a warrant: a series of, if
> > > I may borrow a phrase, "clevery worded" statements without any reason
> > > behind it.
> >
> > I will concede quickly that "blow the doors off" is a wording in which i
> > slipped into poetic rather than analytic language.  The "anarchic" was
> > an attempt at humour given your signature.
> Then it was too opaque for me. However, my point still stands. After being
> accused of "clevery worded" statements without substantive merit I found
> it highly amusing to watch argument after argument attempting to show the
> "truth" of your interpertation which is, in reasoning, contingent upon
> accepting your argument in the first place. The "temporality" claim, for
> example.
> > I don't agree that my wording is without reason.  In addition to all of
> > the reasons commented on above and in the AD correspondence, the notion
> > of the "threshold" being relevant does seem to be something of a unique
> > reason.
> Nahh. Not really. Its basically epiphenomenal: an added gloss on
> previously argued positions. If they fall, it falls.

Why do you refuse to even pretend to try to CONCEIVE of my ideas before
deflecting them?  How can you suggest that something i say is important
in my thought is only gloss?  You haven't even lifted a synapse to try
and comprehend what i've been typing about off and on for some weeks now
and just provide these gnatish replies that reflect everything stupid
about debaters.  Luckily, I know and trust that you are not
representative of the activity as a whole.  It sustains in spite of this
>  And your use of the Southeast Asia wording to relate to this
> > wording is "data" for the ease in which such associations are made.  I'm
> > not suggesting that the linguistic context of the resolution is not
> > important - quite the contrary.  I am suggesting that the rigor one
> > imposes on one notion of meaning or meaninglessness is often
> > "cross-applied" to others.
> So am I. But I am suggesting, among other things, a certain lack of rigor
> in "cross-applying" universal statements about meaningless to particular
> instances, or in launching what is essentially an undertheorized argument
> about the nature of language (one I think may be inconsistent with some of
> your borrowings, but we'll have to wait until it is developed more)

nope.  you won't have to wait.  this is my last post on the matter.  the
thoery will be developed NO more by me -- at least in dialogue with
YOU.  You accuse me of a lack of rigor.  And your brain can't even read!

with respect to the debate community i apologize for this attitude but i
will do my best to stay out of your hair.  If Daniel's attitudes towards
my thoughts are anywhere near a consensus (and a few kind backchannels
have suggested otherwise over the past six months) i can stay out of
what used to be my playground and one i have fond memories of but am no
longer "able" to actively play in.

I'll think about this frustration towards Daniel's attitude in the
coming weeks and make a decision whether to signoff of this listserv
which would functionally cut me off from a community that i enjoyed for
much of my first adult life.

david rhaesa

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