[eDebate] fiat fairness and fun

Kevin Sanchez let_the_american_empire_burn
Wed Nov 14 21:25:18 CST 2007


...or 7 steps to heaven -- in reply to, http://www.ndtceda.com/pipermail/edebate/2007-November/073115.html (or whatsizcok)

_

(1) there are necessary preconditions that make possible the debate about whether the affirmative plan should pass. to distinguish between a necessary and a contingent precondition, we ask a simple question: what has to happen in all possible worlds where plan might be enacted to have a valuable debate about whether plan should be enacted? ...more on this below.

(2) 'if plan doesn't get enacted now,...' is one of those preconditions. it's necessary for '...then the u.s. should enact plan' to make sense. therefore, when someone claims, 'but that won't pass', they've missed the point of the debate about whether the affirmative plan should be enacted. whether plan won't be enacted is irrelevant to whether the u.s. should enact it, because even if it won't be, it might still should be. ...it's worth spending a little more time here: in other words, 'in all
possible worlds where the u.s. federal
government should enact plan, the u.s. federal government should consider enacting a plan that isn't enacted and won't be enacted' makes sense. in debate terminology, demonstrating this is called 'inherency'. inherency makes sense because if a plan will (already) be enacted, then it shouldn't (i.e. doesn't have to) be enacted.

(3) a necessary precondition that meets (1)'s test and is similar to (2)'s example is 'if iran doesn't disarm...', where the only reason for debating whether the u.s. should toughen sanctions to disarm iran absolutely depends on iran not disarming. when someone fiats this away, they've missed the point as well, because whether iran will disarm is irrelevant to whether the u.s. should try to disarm iran. ...this'll be better explained by (5).

 (4) making the debate pointless is pointless, not abusive. ...on that much, everyone so far seems to agree.

so why do i prefer using (1)(2)(3) to get to (4) rather than the justification you offered? first, my analysis is simpler, and i'm a simple-minded soul. second, your analysis *disallows non-topical counter-plans*. here's how: you say no policymaker has the authority to choose between u.s. sanctions and iran disarm. that's true. but that's also true of united nation sanctions, as a hypothetical; but would you similarly claim the u.n. counterplan should be a priori disallowed? 

let's use your example (which lacks the scintillating reference to dirty water in a metaphorical bathtub, but still), and let's substitute some terms in...

plan: the u.s. buys a mazda miata with a retractable hardtop.
counterplan 1: the u.s. buys a b.m.w. z3.
counterplan 2: the u.n. buys that particular miata that the u.s. is looking at.

the same reason you offer to forbid the iran counterplan also functions as a reason to forbid the u.n. counterplan, because "the decision-maker faced with the choice of enacting plan does not have the authority to choose to have iran disarm" or to have the u.n. toughen sanctions or to have any number of interesting counterplans that don't use the u.s. as their agent. yet, even by the spirit of decision-making theory (if not its letter), there's value in debating whether the u.s. or the u.n. should work to impose tougher sanctions on iran, regardless of whether any one national decision-maker has the authority to choose. (if you try and fudge this by saying 'they do have the authority to choose whether to act or to let the u.n. act', then they also have the authority to choose whether to act or to let iran act, and you've just let in the iran disarm counterplan in again.) ... so how does (1) exclude what's useless and include what's useful?

(5), or how the theory of necessary versus contingent preconditions distinguishes between the iran counterplan and the u.n. counterplan. if the u.n. should call for tougher sanctions and not the u.s., then that may well be a possible world in which the u.s. *shouldn't* toughen sanctions to disarm iran. however, if iran disarms, that would be a possible world where the u.s. *couldn't* toughen sanctions to disarm iran. (see? ...why rely on a complicated decision theory where you have an analytic truth?) we couldn't debate whether the u.s. should toughen sanctions in order to disarm iran if we let 'fiat: iran disarm' go as a valid refutation, because that world makes no sense; the u.s. can only toughen sanctions in order to disarm iran if iran doesn't disarm - hence it's a necessary precondition (and invalidating it moots the debate). likewise, we couldn't debate whether the u.s. should toughen sanctions in order to disarm iran if we let 'but it won't pass now' go as a valid refutation, because that world similarly makes no sense; the u.s. can only toughen sanctions in order to disarm iran if the u.s. won't already toughen sanctions - hence it's a necessary precondition (and a moot reply for the negative to make). but we could debate whether the u.s. should toughen sanctions in order to disarm iran if the u.n. toughens sanctions in order to disarm iran, because that world makes a lot of sense, and tests the value of the plan; in a world where the u.s. shouldn't toughen sanctions because the u.n. should, i'd expect to find a number of valid and valuable reasons for the u.s. not toughening sanctions to disarm iran, agreed? (caveat: there's some time specification required for this analysis, but we can safely skip over that nuance for now.)

in case you didn't want to read any of that, (6) that "the decision-maker faced with the choice of enacting plan does not have the authority to choose to have iran disarm" (korcok's criteria) also means there's no use in talking about it from a policy perspective, i.e. it's not worth considering (my criteria). 

(7) there's probably lots of value in thinking about iran's decision-making calculus from its own strategic perspective, i.e. in pretending to be iran instead of the default position of pretending to be the u.s. federal government. how can debaters do so without waiting around for the framers to give them a foreign agent? ...answer: kritik. this is the appropriate purview for a specific kritik alternative: it needn't be 'we call on iran to disarm' either, but simply 'iran will disarm'. your 'net benefit' is neo-imperialism. when they argue 'that's unfair', pull across josh's analysis. when they argue 'that's illogical in terms of decision-making theory', pull across mine. and when they get smart and finally argue 'that's a necessary precondition for debating whether the u.s. should enact plan', then you reply, 'we're a kritik, and therefore not subject to the narrow limitations of the plan-centric framework'. we insist on our free reign to rearticulate the political imaginary; we inhabit impossible worlds. and today, we are all iranians!'
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