[eDebate] fiat fairness and fun

Michael Korcok mmk_savant
Wed Nov 14 17:32:06 CST 2007

whatsizname:  "so the same reason that 'but plan won't pass' fails to negate the affirmative plan is the same reason that 'fiat, iran will disarm' fails as well. it's not that it's abusive'. it's that it's not worth considering. you can't assume away one of the necessary premises of a thought experiment and then claim you've demonstrated why that thought experiment is a bad idea. you haven't proven the water is dirty -- you've merely pulled the plug."
me: no... 
the affirmative gets fiat because we need to examine what the world would be like if the plan was enacted in order to decide whether the plan should be enacted.
the negative gets fiat because we need to examine what the world would be like if the competitive counterplan was enacted in order to decide whether the plan should be enacted.
"fiat, Iran will disarm"  is stupid not because it won't happen or because it's abusive or because it's not worth considering.  "fiat, Iran will disarm" is stupid because the decision-maker faced with the choice of enacting the plan does not have the authority to choose to have Iran disarm.  here's an example without an obtuse reference to dirty water in a metaphorical bathtub.
plan: Josh buys that Mazda Miata with the retractable hardtop.
counterplan 1: Josh buys a BMW Z3.
counterplan 2: Benazir Bhutto buys that particular Miata that Josh is looking at.
assume both counterplans compete.  the first is legitimately a reason not to go ahead with the plan while the second is not.  That's because Josh (the putative decision-maker) could choose to do counterplan 1 instead of the plan while they couldn't choose to do counterplan 2 instead of the plan.  it has nothing to do with propensity:  even if Josh had zero interest in buying the Z3, counterplan 1 would still be a reason not to adopt the plan while even if Benazir really really wanted that particular Miata, counterplan 2 would still be illegitimate.
an excellent discussion of the underlaying logic here is in this summer's DRG by Paul Strait and Brett Wallace.
I am enjoying the rest of the discussion.  I have what might be a bit of a different take on Josh's main claim.  Maybe.  
It seems to me that the underlaying logic of decision-making should trump both fairness and other educational impacts in almost every instance.  The "object fiat" example is a case in point.  Even if it were somehow more "educationally worthwhile" and "fair" to allow the negative to fiat acton outside the scope of authority of the decision-maker, we should still discourage, frown upon, and otherwise disallow it.  Because it would be an irrational way to analyze whether or not the plan ought to be enacted.  
Specifically, decisions about proposed courses of action which allowed considerations of competitive alternatives outside the scope of authority of the decision-maker would conclude in rejecting some actions which should not be rejected.  That's irrational decision-making.  So, for example, we might reject the US strengthening sanctions against Iran solely because it would be better if Iran just chose to abandon its proliferation efforts.  That would be lousy thinking.  It would be lousy thinking even if it made the debate game more fun and it would remain lousy thinking even if it improved education by getting some people to look at things from Iran's perspective.
In summary, I think we should get decision-making about action right first and worry about how to structure the game to be fun, fair, educational, cost-effective, inclusive, and money-making within that theory.
Michael Korcok
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