[eDebate] Counterplan Competition

Dylan Keenan dylan.keenan
Thu Jan 17 08:49:24 CST 2008

Well, I think according to Hester's reasoning CP #2 is not competitive
because it both asks more and demands less from the Iranian government ----
and this actually gets me to the first concern I have concern about Tripp's

Demanding concessions is a different negotiating strategy than not demanding
them, BUT if we follow the "substantive offer" guide of the plan, we could
say it would also be a different offer to give more carrots to Iran. Clearly
that is a distinct offer/opening move and by his logic it is competitive.
Thus we create the nightmare where negatives can exploit the nature of
negotiating structures to make the feed Africa CP competitive by adding it
as a carrot. And I think this is a VERY realistic byproduct of Tripp's
reasoning since every diplomat who tells you unconditional and conditional
are two distinct offers tells you that different sets of carrots are also
different offers (thus you see a few cards on what carrots we should and
should not offer Iran in the deal). Clearly this is bad for debate, which
sort of proves the point that you need a bright line of excluding
counterplans that goes beyond what the literature regards as "competitive"
---- formal logic fits that line very well I feel.

I thus firmly disagree that "competition should be decided through net
benefits, not abstract, formalist concerns". It needs to be decided through
both, using first abstract concerns and then net benefits. To say otherwise
is actually to assert that many counterplans which add to the plan, even
more clearly then the unconditional counterplan are competitive because
people realize that the two can be done as distinct actions and thus write
to compare them. In truth I think most of the community already accepts a
formal logic standard to some degree when evaluating competition. The idea
that a legitimate permutation includes "all of the plan action" is such a
line. Most judges to my knowledge believe if the best policy at the end of
the debate includes all of the plan action then the affirmative should win.

I still do think Tripp's argument has some intuitive appeal but I also think
it misreads the majority of plans. The diplomatic literature treats the
offers as exclusive opening moves because they presume, and probably
correctly in the world outside debate, that conditional offers are truly
conditional insofar as they are IFF statements, not just IF statements.
However if one LITERALLY reads most plans, they state a sufficient condition
for the carrots, not a necessary one. Again this is formal logic but it is
also the truthful meaning of an 'if' statement. You get to read the plan in
light of negotiations literature, maybe, for competition, but you don't have
a right to misread it.

One last quick point, is that I think we may also have different conceptions
of what an offer means. I think the affirmative has to defend only what
basically amounts to a statement of the plan withinin earshot of Iran. It
isn't an 'offer' in the sense of formal negotiators presenting it as a first
step. At the core the only thing that has to happen is an effort to make
Iran aware of the fact that "Their doing Y will cause the US to do X". The
most accurate description of the plan is a statement of a contingency (If
Y?) not a formal negotiation move, AND if the affirmative presents it that
way, you shouldn't get to read negotiation literature onto it.
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