[eDebate] Ross's Judging Question About the Unconditional PIC

Jean-Paul Lacy lacyjp
Thu Nov 1 21:46:15 CDT 2007

Dallas illustrates the original dilemma for debaters: The term 
"unconditional" means different things to different people & can result in 
opposite (but equally reasonable) results.

(This also applies to the meaning of "conditionality," "dispositionality," 
"logically limited conditionality" and whatever new terms come about to 
describe the "status" of a counterplan.)

I'd prefer to leave the meaning of terms to the debaters.

Given Ross's hypothetical, there isn't room to do so. No debater has 
defined the term "unconditional." The judge is left to their own 

So, what if we add this caveat to the original hypothetical:

CX of the INC: "The CP is unconditional, does that mean you can not revert 
to the status quo?"
Answer: "Correct, we have no recourse to the status quo."

If that CX happens, who wins?


At 03:33 PM 11/1/2007, Dallas Perkins wrote:
>I lost your message, but I'll respond.  I vote neg.  Saying the CP is
>unconditional does not mean that the neg can never be consigned to
>advocacy of the SQ.  If something about the CP is totally
>illigitimate--say, it's topical, it's a PIC, it's international fiat, it's
>object fiat, etc--then that seems to me to prove only that the neg cannot
>advocate the CP.  This does not mean the neg can't still advocate the
>world without the CP.
>I've given this some thought over the years.  I confess that my rationale
>is more metaphysics than debate theory.  The neg always defends the status
>quo, the counterplan only functions as an amendment of the SQ.  Every CP
>is built on top of a very elaborate SQ.  The CP can't change everything
>about the SQ, it only changes a very little bit of it.  Everything else
>remains the same, and most of what the neg defends is the SQ.  (This is
>equally true of the aff, of course.)  If some or all of the amendments to
>the status quo proposed by the neg (or the aff) are illigitimate for some
>theoretical reason, the remedy is to disallow those illigitimate
>This disallowing of illigitimate counterplan or plan provisions need not
>be a voting issue.  If the team with the disallowed plan still wins the
>debate based on what they have left, so be it.  A plan with an
>extratopical provision is not traditionally thought inevitably fatal.
>Similar treatment should be accorded counterplan advocacy decided by the
>judge to be illigitimate.
>Finally, this is very different from conditionality.  The neg does not
>claim the right to jetison the CP with all its attendant net benefits
>merely because it is getting beaten like a rented mule on the merits.  The
>neg may only take advantage of the opportunity to make a strategic
>concession of an argument still being extended in the debate by the aff.
>If at any  time in the debate the aff grants the theoretical legitimacy of
>the CP, the neg is stuck defending it.  This seems to me a reasonable
>strategic choice for the aff to be forced to make; conditionality's
>requirement that the aff answer a complex multi-argument negative attack
>without a clear point of comparison seems unreasonable.
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