[eDebate] actor/agent counterplans

Michael Korcok mmk_savant
Thu May 11 19:16:53 CDT 2006

Too much of the ground discussion on potential resolutions is about actor/agent counterplans.  That makes as little sense as worrying about or depending upon "Jesus could come early to fix the problem" counterplans.  Especially for the majority of resolutions being considered here, the actor/agent counterplans being considered are just nonsense and that means they shouldn't be a consideration in discussing ground (or no more a consideration than other possible silly negatives).
The theoretical matter was settled years ago:  the only counterplans which make sense are those which could be chosen by the decision-maker deciding whether to enact the plan.  The critic isn't that decision-maker, they are just a debate judge.  Nearly all actor/agent counterplans are unavailable to any plausible decision-maker. Lichtman and Rohrer made the point in 1975 at the dawn of the modern era of counterplans for pete's sake.  Walter Ulrich pointed out that actor/agent counterplans were nonsense again in 1987 and I elaborated on the argument again a few years ago.  No one has had a remotely interesting general justification for agent/actor before or since.  30 frikkin years is plenty of time to come up with SOMETHING.  It is as if the collective inertia of debate-theory-stupidity kept alive an argument like "But does the affirmative case have super-structural faux-attitudinal inherency or not?" for decade after decade.
The plenary power resolutions are an example, but the same conclusion applies to nearly all of the resolutional areas.   In the real world, the decision whether "The US Supreme Court should rule immigration legislation unconstitutional, thus doing away with the plenary power of Congress over immigration." would never hinge on whether or not it would be better that "Congress should just get rid of the offensive legislation."  If this isn't obvious, it should be.  As obvious as "I should buy the Toyota Hybrid" would never be negated by "It would be better if your neighbor 4 houses down the street bought the car instead." Or as obvious as "The USFG should extend hate crimes legislation to cover acts against basque midget lawyers." would never be negated by "No, those committing hate crimes should find love in their hearts for the little semi-frank-shils."  That is because in each instance, the decision-maker choosing whether to enact the plan does not have authority to enact the counterplan.
To argue that the negative would have ground on plenary power resolutions because the negative could just counterplan that Congress or Bush change their own bad behavior is no more logical than arguing that the negative would have ground on "we should discourage violent criminality" because the negative could just counterplan that those committing criminal violence turn to happy happy thought-sharing projects instead.
Again, this isn't about the plenary power resolutions.  I like them at least as much as the other resolutions proffered.  And nearly all of the resolutional discussions heavily involve actor/agent counterplans.  While I understand that resolutional framers want to consider as many possible arguments and counter-arguments for given resolutions,  it is an obvious mistake to hinge acceptance or rejection of a resolution on debate theory that is questionable at best and obviously nonsensical to those who have thought about it to any depth.  It is as if every single post about potential resolutions on this topic worried about or relied on the possible intrinsicness justification minor repairs available to the negative....
Michael Korcok
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