[eDebate] ans Saindon

Brent Saindon basaindon
Tue Jul 17 09:30:54 CDT 2007

Sent this only to Korcok, not to the listserve -- sorry.

Brent -- response below.

 This discussion does not really get off the ground for me, mostly due to the first statement. You pick a convenient point to talk about the function of counterplans, but you do not talk about  the function of "plans," that is the important departure points for anti-topicality. In order to talk about anti-topicality, one has to examine a trend that has occured with the evolution of certain types of critiques, especially language critiques: the affirmative does not get rid of the resolution when they read a plan. The plan does not make it go away. 

Quick test: What does a judge "affirm" or "negate"? A plan? Where does this plan come from, and why does the affirmative have rights to the argument? Because they spoke first? Why is the counterplan only a test, while the plan is the focus of the debate? Why not reverse the order?

You cannot make these claims out of thin air. Something has to drive the division of ground, the production of the plan, and the  ultimate thing that gets affirmed. I submit to you that the resolution becomes the way to make this all happen.  The counterplan is a test while the plan is the "real" policy under consideration ONLY because the resolution is the ultimate focus of the debate, and what gets either affirmed or negated. Once the plan exists not as an island on its own, but as an example of the resolution, then the theory concerning anti-topicality gains some traction. 

I know that people worry about this whole "resolution is the real focus" stuff because they do not want to go back to the days of counterwarrants. This is not necessary, since the wording of resolutions generally makes counterwarrants an illegitimate strategy. Let's say for instance, that the resolution asks the affirmative to "establish a policy to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in existence". The phrase "establish A policy" makes counterwarrants useless because of the inclusion of an indefinite article. One  policy out of a thousand possible can be proven good, and that would be a SUFFICIENT condition to prove the resolution true. In addition, all the other examples of bad topical policy do not disprove that one topical policy in particular is both viable and desirable. If the resolution did not include the indefinite article, then counterwarrants would be troublesome for the topic. We generally do not have to worry about this because, conscious or not, the use of
 the indefinite article seems logical for plan debating anyway, encouraging teams to debate one of several possible options.

Returning to the permutation and anti-topicality discussion, you are conflating two different ideas. The perm is not strictly bound to the topic, otherwise it would not be a good test of competition between the counterplan and the plan. The perm proves that a desirable coexistence can occur between the plan and the counterplan (even though the counterplan is likely non-topical), just as  solvency evidence proves that the plan can successfully coexist, perhaps even complement, other policies and procedures in place in the status quo (all of which are also outside the topic -- like executive enforcement, other laws, etc.). No problem with that.

Anti-topical is a different matter. In fact, I would submit to you that your crazy ass anti-resolutional foundation stance about plans has produced the theory of anti-topicality as a response to unbelievably broad interpretations of perm theory. The idea that the perm is bound by nothing has made it popular to perm arguments that DIRECTLY clash with the resolutional statement as a whole. In addition to the original concern (the rethinking critique that denies the desirability of doing the plan getting permed with the action to prove that they can both "go together"), I will provide another one: a language critique. If the negative critiques the resolutional wording that frames the policy (CE, for example),  affirmatives always try to combine the plan with the criticism, even though the plan is only an example of the policy phrase (CE). In my mind, from the thinking above, this permutation does not support the resolution -- it supports the action taken under a different name
 ("the hugs not drugs" FP, or whatever -- the alternative policy description does not matter). For language criticisms to have traction, there has to be a belief that the plan must support the resolution (in the sense of providing evidence that leads one to "affirm" a conclusion, at least tentatively). If the plan does not necessarily have to function as a policy of CE, then it is not a very good example. For those of you that remember the theory of "reverse intrinsicness" that was circulating a few years ago, the most of the theory can be gleaned from this post (for the careful reader).

In most cases, anti-topicality is not a concern with counterplans -- it most concerns critiques. The problem for  counterplans ONLY occurs in utopian CP's (like anarchy and wrold government), or if the resolutional wording ITSELF creates an artificial exclusion to other CE, as is the case with the "only" topics. Adding different types of CE to your perm is not just non-topical (which is not the same as saying the resolution is false), it directly negates the exclusion explicitly stated in the resolution (which IS the same as saying the resolution is wrong). Coexisting with others policies does not necessarily disprove the resolution, but coexisting with policies that the resolution explicitly says SHOULD NOT be included does disprove it. 

Did the topic committee "mean" to make the resolution like this: probably not. Does the wording of the resolution (i.e. its grammar) make this type of competition (which is a specific form of mutual exclusivity) a potential issue: yes, I think so. Will people take advantage of it: that depends on two issues. First, there has to be other forms  of CE that are in the literature and that solve the case harms way better than the mechanisms given to the affirmative. I cannot answer at this point whether this is the case or not (though it is a distinct possibility, given how broad CE is as an FP concept). Second, people have to believe they can win the theory on a topic specific anomaly that changes the "normal conditions" under which we teach most of our theories. That's the judge gamble. It might be risky, and if the CP's are too good to beat any other way, we may begin the season with people allowing them, but end the season with a presumption against them. From the logic of
 topical interpretation and the presumption that the topic helps to determine what is and is not theoretically viable in any given year (the "only" and the indefinite article "a" are just two examples), I think this should be a WORRY for the topic voters.

Brent Saindon

P.S. I had trouble following the lacy post and response, mostly  because it is clear I do not share the same predispositions about what the judge is voting for and what plans do. It would be nice if the background to these alternative theories became available for others to figure out what is going on (or at least me).

Michael Korcok <mmk_savant at hotmail.com> wrote:    P { margin:0px; padding:0px } body { FONT-SIZE: 10pt; FONT-FAMILY:Tahoma }  naw...
 the mistaken assumption of the "there's something to anti-topicality if the resolution's truth matters" is that counterplans (and, inter alia, permutations) do more than evaluate the desirability of the affirmative plan.
 just because a counterplan competes and is better than the plan doesn't imply that the counterplan should be done.  the counterplan is JUST a reason not to do the  plan:  if the counterplan doesn't compete or the plan is preferable, then the counterplan doesn't offer a (sufficient) reason to reject plan and if the counterplan competes and is better than the plan, then the plan should NOT be done.  the logic of counterplans doesn't justify "adopt the counterplan" and so never gets to "accept or reject the resolution".
 think of it this way:  the counterplan, if IT was to be evaluated, might well succumb to one or more counterplans which compete with and are preferred to it.  in policy debate, however, a counterplan is not evaluated by considering the opportunity cost of ITS adoption - counterplans only logically function as the opportunity costs of affirmative plans.  
 therefore...  a topical counterplan doesn't get to function as a warrant for the resolution ... the logic only entails that the counterplan is a reason NOT to do the plan.   there is nothing wrong with a negative answering the cross-ex question: "So we should adopt the counterplan?"  with "Oh hell no!!!  But if you did adopt the plan, you would forego the superior option of the counterplan which means you ought not do the plan.  But don't be an illogical spastic monkey...  We're sure if this counterplan were to be evaluated, it would also be crushed under the weight of its own opportunity cost.  But that's a debate for another time and another judge..."
 the same logic shuffles on over to the consideration of permutations.  a permutation functions to test the competitiveness of the counterplan.  and that's it.  just because a permutation is the most desireable policy of those in a given debate does not mean that it should be adopted.  IT isn't being evaluated, that is, it isn't been compared to its opportunity cost to determine whether it should be done.  if that  evaluation were to be undertaken, there might well be any number of counterplans that compete with and are preferable to that action which make it clear that the perm shouldn't be adopted.  
 a great perm ONLY shows two things: 1) the parts of the counterplan in the permutation don't compete with the plan and 2) the plan is better than the competitive parts of the counterplan (those not in the perm).  whether the permutation is mostly topical or conceivably anti-topical or even inimical-to-any-conception-or-interpretation-of-the-resolution is irrelevant simply because the reasons to prefer the perm to the counterplan don't ever imply that a perm should be done, adopted, or endorsed.  they only imply that the perm is better than the counterplan.  well whoopdeedoo...  the perm, if it were the focus of the debate, that is if we evaluated whether to adopt the perm or not, would face a VERY different set of arguments than it  faces.  for example... the perm would be evaluated against ITS opportunity cost and chances are very very very good that ain't the counterplan it is the perm to.
 Michael Korcok
 Bakersfield College

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