[eDebate] Rejecting the cult of fairness

Kuswa, Kevin kkuswa
Wed Nov 14 13:11:17 CST 2007

enjoying this discussion.  two quick things:
1. all of this presumes that the deployment of "fairness" or "predictability" is an immediate jump to the ballot (what josh calls whining).  Such a deployment is not always being used in a given debate--these issues can be deployed as intermediate concepts linking to another aspect of the debate.  For example, the claim that the plan has to take a certain form to be "fair" does not necessarily mean that the implication is the ballot--it could mean that the negative has reciprocal wiggle room on the counterplan or the alternative and the debate proceeds from there.
2. Selecting what "model" to follow (see Branson below) is somewhat ludicrous.  The models mentioned are not stagnant and they overlap.  Branson says, "Maybe it should model the academy, maybe it should model the policy wonk community, maybe it should model the government, maybe it should model the activist community, maybe it shouldn't model anything."  These paths are all inevitable.  The problem here is the "it."  The "it" is a futile attept to contain what debate is.  Moreover, if what debate "is" takes place within a changing notion of "the academy," than there is no model to select--there are simply competing "mode(l)s" that follow different conventions at different times.
So, both Branson and D'Amico want to find a way to discourage "bad arguments."  Who doesn't?  The real question is, what are the standards?  Are they universal?  What arguments are superior to the characterizations of debating "fairness"?  And, once you all sort that out, how do you justify the split you are making between form and content?  All of the "predictability" discussion assumes a certain content and does not incorporate distinct ways to perform such content, thereby altering the content itself.  Performing fairness in the debate round as an analogy to fairness for the Palestinians by speaking for half the time with a muzzle might be different than a blippy unwarranted A-Spec argument.  Unfortunately the current discussion does not allow a consideration of such differences--differences that are crucial to the "mode(l)s" issue and pedagogy as a whole.
It may be better to accept bad arguments than to predefine what is "good" and only allow arguments with a pre-approved pedigree.


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