[eDebate] Fun with Permutations Re: ans Lacy

Jean-Paul Lacy lacyjp
Tue Jul 17 21:41:09 CDT 2007

At 04:11 AM 7/17/2007, Michael Korcok wrote:
[Important and funny stuff snipped...I'll talk about it later]
>JP writes: "If so, the judge has to evaluate rejecting the perm as an 
>opportunity cost of forgoing the plan, especially if the superior benefits 
>of the permutation can only be achieved by adopting the plan."
>i *think* this misconceives what perms are and do.
[More snippage]
>  it looks like JP's claims flow from the idea that if you don't do the 
> plan you can't do the perm, so there is forced choice between not doing 
> the plan and doing the perm.  truly twisted, man.   look, every action 
> that is plan PLUS some other action (feed the starving in Darfur, don't 
> nuke France, etc) has to be foregone if we don't do the plan.

Here is an example of a ?true? permutation:

Plan: Impeach Bush, he's evil.

Counterplan: Impeach Cheney, he's more evil, Bush will be wholly useless 
without Cheney's brains & it avoids the "Cheney President DA"

Permutation: Do both, makes Pelosi president, who is less evil than Bush & 

The permutation is the best option available in the debate: Better than the 
plan, the status quo, and the counterplan.

The opportunity to gain the advantage of the perm *only* arises if you do 
the plan. Its not just a "plus action" like "do the plan and don't nuke 
France:" The unique advantage of adopting the perm, thus making Pelosi 
president only arises if you do the plan. This net benefit is what 
distinguishes the "true" perm from perms which aren't any better than the 
counterplan alone. As Saindon points out, these are fairly common if the 
aff has evidence that the permutation produces uniquely desirable effects 
that are better than the counterplan alone.

Now, if the above is true, who wins and why? [Yes, we?re assuming the 
natural state of the counterplan is conditional & the judge can dispose of 
it how they wish.]

1.      Aff, because the judge votes for the perm. [See my original post ? 
the risk of ?capture? is one opportunity cost the negative bears when it 
decides to run a counterplan. Captures the unique educational choice making 
skill that opportunity cost offers...]
2.      Aff, not because the aff advocates the perm, but because it's a 
logical option available to the judge.
3.      Neg, because the perm just proves the counterplan doesn?t compete, 
but the plan still causes the ?Cheney President? DA. [The judge can?t vote 
for a permutation that hasn?t been tested the way the plan has. Just 
because the perm is true doesn't make it the BEST policy option. If the 
perm was the plan, it would be subject to a totally different set of 
arguments. Plus, the aff can't advocate a perm because it violates the core 
parametric agreement that the affirmative wins only if their 1ac topical 
plan should be done.]

***Sort Of New Idea***

4.      Aff, because a "true" permutation is logically an opportunity 
forgone whose cost is borne by the decision maker with the power to do the 
plan. [Aside from the strange constraints imposed by a debate round, why 
would a rational decision maker ignore that cost?]

***New Idea Alert***

5.      The judge accounts for the probability that the perm will be 
adopted if the plan happens. I alluded to this at the bottom of my original 
post. No, the counterplan is not ?fiated? the way the plan is, its just a 
test of the opportunity cost of doing the plan, but doing the plan does 
create an opportunity that the permutation will happen. Why shouldn't the 
judge consider that chance when they evaluate whether the plan is a good 
idea? If the risk of the perm outweighs the ?Cheney President? DA, the aff 

***Another Different Idea***

5.      Aff, because presumption is with the *known.* The judge votes aff 
for the known opportunity to enact the perm. The permutation is a *known* 
unique opportunity created by the plan. Yeah, there are unknown costs 
because the perm hasn't been fully tested, but those hidden disadvantages 
and opportunity costs are just as likely as hidden advantages and 

>JP writes: "*As for "fully testing" a perm, it seems like only convention 
>prevents doing so: The negative does have a good deal of opportunity to 
>test the opportunity cost of the perm, and other than the structure of 
>speeches, (and other artificial constraints, like "dispositionality," in 
>all its forms) prevent debaters from doing so."
>okay, fair enough.  this looks like an affirmative argument for 
>legitimating an advocacy of the perm.  sure, nothing prevents the negative 
>block from presenting a new counterplan to the permutation.  except 
>self-respect, that is.  a humongous beer can will surely drop on any 
>negative team that even thinks about doing that.

What tests, or types of arguments has the permutation not been subjected 
to? What ?completely different set of arguments? would a permutation be 
subject to if it were the focus of the debate?

The negative gets to read all sorts of disadvantages to the permutation: In 
the above example, they could read a ?Pelosi Bad? disadvantage.

The affirmative gets to read the equivalent of PICS by advocating the plan 
plus part of the counterplan: Common on the China topic when negatives 
would counterplan to ban all pressure. The aff would permute the 
counterplan, banning all pressure but the plan and one aspect of current 
pressure they were ready to defend.

The negative also gets to counterplan its way around the advantage to any 
?true? permutation. In what bizarre world could that happen? In the above 
example, the negative could counterplan to replace the government with a 
parliamentary system, which garners a host of "better government" net 
benefits, plus installing Pelosi as the equivalent of the president. The 
counterplan proves the permutation isn't the best way to put Pelosi in 
charge & can't be permuted because, well...it deletes the current 
constitution. [No, that isn't the best example.]

It may be a? giant can of beer falling from the sky,? but it may be your 
best bet in the bizarre world of the judge who believes the answer to the 
above hypothetical is #1, 2 or 4.

What other types of arguments am I missing? Ks? No, the negative can read 
all the K?s that apply to the perm just like they can read disads. 
Inherency? No, if the perm isn?t inherent, if the plan and all or part of 
the counterplan have been enacted, the aff loses.

So, what genre of arguments isn?t the permutation subject to?

Is there anything about the structure of a debate round that makes the plan 
the only idea a judge can ?fiat? at the end of the debate? Do you need the 
aff to speak first and last and have a negative block in order to 
intellectually endorse a policy? Is there something special about the 
speech order & time limits that prevent an adequate test of anything but 
the plan? If so, then "opportunity cost" and all sorts of conditionality 
probably have no place at all in a debate.

As for parametric agreements, I dunno. It seems like the cp, presented as a 
reason to reject the plan, should logically be considered a reason to vote 
for the plan if the perm is ?true.? To me, it seems like one reason to vote 
for the topical 1ac plan that can't logically be ignored unless we graft on 
some odd conventions that distort decision making. After all, the negative 
presents the cp as a reason to reject the plan & a true permutation proves 
the opposite. The conventions of normal decision making by argument should 
still apply.

--JP Lacy
lacyjp at wfu.edu

ps--All this will be irrelevant if Korcok gets his way & we adopt a 
non-policy topic.

pps--I know, this discussion seems esoteric and far fetched to most people. 
It will be until you're debating in a round where the perm suddenly becomes 
"true." Happens a few times a year. My first predisposition is to let the 
debaters decide how to evaluate a round. Failing that, I have defaults. So 
does everyone else. Don't be the victim of a default loss.

ppps--Yes, most of what I say above makes intrinsicness legitimate, but 
only intrinsicness arguments that are opportunities only gained by adopting 
the plan.

ppps--Just for fun: Who wins if the permutation is as good, but no better 
than the counterplan alone?

pppps--All this ignores the controversy of whether the counterplan is 
really "fiated" the same way the plan is. One good reason that counterplans 
are actually fiated is that they logically arise from the negative's burden 
to prove we "should not" do the plan. If counterplans aren't presented as 
"opportunity costs," but instead as fiated alternatives, everything above 

ppppps--None of this would be much of a controversy absent the merger...

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