[eDebate] Solt on the unconditional PIC hypothetical

Ross Smith smithr
Tue Nov 6 12:27:21 CST 2007

More good stuff from Roger:

On the PICs/Conditionality hypothetical, I think the most insightful 
post so far has been Dallas?s. Like him, I think I would fall in the 
probably small minority of judges who would still vote negative. My 
answer, slightly different from his, is that in saying that a 
counterplan is ?unconditional,? one is saying that the counterplan will 
be one?s sole policy advocacy PROVIDED THAT ONE IS PERMITTED TO ADVOCATE 
IT. But if affirmative theory arguments deny the negative the advocacy 
of the counterplan, it seems more reasonable to revert to the status quo 
as a point of comparison with the plan rather than to endorse the plan 
by default. Again, in terms of the hypothetical, we know at the end of 
the round that voting for the plan will make the world worse (relative 
to what now exists), and this is certainly not a comfortable position to 
be placed in if one attempts to model debate judgihng on the standards 
of rational real world decision making.

This last caveat is, of course, one which most contemporary debate 
judges would reject, game theory (broadly construed) having come to 
trump argument theory and rational choice theory within our activity. I 
also don?t think that the idea of a totally ?unconditional? counterplan 
makes sense from a rational choice standpoint, since a rational decision 
maker would (almost) always have the option of rejecting two bad 
proposals for change in favor of a less disadvantageous status quo. So, 
I can see an argument that the negative should be punished for defending 
a less than totally rational theory construct. Still, the correction to 
this lapse of requiring the judge to vote for a known evil (the plan) 
seems only to compound the irrationality.

Ross K. Smith
Director of Debate
Wake Forest University

336-251-2076 (c)
336-758-5268 (o)


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