[eDebate] Agent/Less debate
Thu Apr 9 10:03:15 CDT 2009
I believe that one of the purposes in proposing "agent/less" debate is to
shift focus away from USFG policy entirely, and to instead foreground
individual agency to the exclusion of broader considerations. My believe is
based on at least these factors:
a. the pejorative reference to "externalization of agency" in Kuswa's posts
(a criticism which most certainly links to Tuna's suggestion of using
b. Seeing plenty of debaters who consider the un/desirability of US
hegemony (etc.) in the external world as irrelevant to whether the judge
should endorse/decline US hegemony (etc.) "in this room"
Tuna: What about framing the resolution as "This House" would preclude the
inward turn (where debaters consider external events largely irrelevant to
the 'real' question at hand, which is some particular philosophy of agency,
etc.)? Or, are you saying such an inward turn is desirable? I don't think
you are - I think you are calling for a form of debate that still considers
external questions to be relevant (e.g. not "secondary" to the 'real'
question of agency).
In my view, this "inward turn" game (it's not about external reality but our
relation to that perceived reality) has been happening and will continue to
happen to some degree. The question is whether it continues amongst those
who seek to play it (with some 'clash of civilization' debates) or whether
the power of the topic process can be captured to foist it onto the rest of
us. The call to endorse the inward turn with the legitimacy of the topic
process is a curious move, since I thought those playing it now felt that
topic committee's endorsement was not relevant. I don't understand how we
avoid displacing the so-called "fetish" of the USFG (a rhetorical gesture
apparently designed to invoke some sort of normalizing power related to
social deviance against those prefer policy debate?) onto a different
"fetish" (agency, micropolitics, whatever...).
There could be a long discussion about whether such forms of debate have a
mutualistic, commensal, or parasitic relationship to USFG-centered policy
debate. I've seen enough rounds where two teams that were both opposed to
USFG based debate spent time accusing each other of being "more mainstream"
to be skeptical about the mutualistic option. If it's either of the other
two, there should perhaps be more concern about the long term health of the
Kuswa: "*why not give it a shot for one year?"
*Because a year is a long time. Why not instead host a tournament and
declare an alternative topic, perhaps an agentless one related to the
NDT/CEDA topic, and see who shows up? Perhaps get many of the teams to agree
to have video from such a tournament publicly posted, so that the rest of us
could see what you would like us to be doing?
On Thu, Apr 9, 2009 at 9:19 AM, Alfred Snider <alfred.snider at uvm.edu> wrote:
> What I am talking about does not eliminate discussions of federal
> policy. You might decide to use the USFG as your agent, or you might
> decide to use the WTO or the ICC.
> "This House" can and does include all of them. It takes the agent out of
> the topic and puts it in the plan.
> I agree about debate being a training ground for real activism later.
> You are spot on.
> Abers wrote:
> > While there is clearly a vocal group of debaters who want to distance
> > themselves from the federal government, I think this discussion
> > discounts a lot of debaters who actually like talking about and
> > directing the focus of their speech act towards questions of federal
> > policy. I would absolutely agree that there are problems with the USFG
> > fetish, but the solution proposed to completely eliminate federal
> > government action from the discussion seems to throw the baby out with
> > the bathwater. Scott Elliott points out that at CEDA people did not
> > want to debate the topic; yes because the topic was agriculture
> > subsidies and everyone just assumed there would be sweet K ground.
> > Shocker, there wasn?t. And by K ground, I don?t just mean affirmatives
> > that exclusively defend federal government action. The problem with
> > the agriculture topic, for the k affirmatives, was the literature
> > discussing alternate ways to view subsidy policy either from different
> > perspectives or in alternate philosophical frameworks wasn?t there.
> > However, frequently this literature does exist and it?s possible to
> > read affirmatives that, rather than explicitly defending federal
> > government action as an act of imagination where congress passes a law
> > etc etc, counter define what the ballot and debater?s relationship to
> > the statement of the resolution should be. I think these affirmatives,
> > like our broiler chicken aff or Towson?s Palestine aff that they read
> > on the Middle East topic, show it?s possible to discuss perspectives
> > on and about different policy actions taken by the federal government
> > without being assimilated into it or whatever while still retaining a
> > (at least somewhat predictable) relationship to the topic that the
> > negative can prepare for.
> > This seems, at least to me, to be the middle ground. Essentially its;
> > here is the resolution, how can you as a debater educationally relate
> > to it. This leaves debaters who want to pursue affirmatives that
> > follow a more traditional rout (though traditional is probably a bad
> > word to use considering I don?t think debate affs in the 1980s had 14
> > extinction scenarios and probably read a bunch more inherency cards)
> > an avenue to debate how they would like to. Gives ample K aff ground
> > based in ?topic literature.? And preserves debate as a forum for
> > political awareness about what the federal government is doing. Debate
> > is basically the only place, besides possibly the daily show, where I
> > as a student, feel compelled to figure out what exactly the federal
> > government is doing with the money we give them. At risk of starting
> > another debate, we live in a place where individual input can actually
> > affect government proceedings and policy. Don?t we as individuals who
> > support a government have some responsibility to educate ourselves
> > about what that government is doing? If debate is not the place, does
> > not serve this function, why should we even be doing it. Seems like we
> > should be out being real activists. Which, to me, all comes back to,
> > how do we know what to protest, which is where I think the importance
> > of ?policy? in policy debate arises.
> > Abe Corrigan
> > Gonzaga Debate
> > On Wed, Apr 8, 2009 at 11:59 AM, Alfred Snider <alfred.snider at uvm.edu
> > <mailto:alfred.snider at uvm.edu>> wrote:
> > Scott Elliott says change the name.
> > It is a little disconcerting because many debate formats debate about
> > policy issues.
> > Some have said to call it "cross examination" debate, others say
> > "research" debate.
> > Yet, other formats have cross ex and not every "policy" debate in
> > CEDA-NDT has evidence.
> > A proper name would make things clearer to those outside but break
> > link with past debaters who use the policy moniker.
> > I would like to agree with Kevin Kuswa and others that a serious
> > problem
> > is the USFG fetish.
> > Some years ago I wrote a topic paper using the agent "we." By this I
> > would mean those people in the room who were debating about an
> > idea. Not
> > that they should go out and implement some plan, but that for the
> > purposes of this debate they were the objects of persuasion.
> > The term in the worlds format is "This House" which means the same
> > thing
> > as we, as it refers to those gathered in that room.
> > I would prefer we or This House, and as illustrated by the
> > discussion so
> > far, then we could have a choice of agents. Let's face it, USFG
> > does not
> > equal
> > Another concern is the unwillingness to debate the topic. Yes,
> > that is a
> > problem, for preparation, for publicity, for training judges, for
> > bringing in new coaches, for a lot of things. I like the freedom of
> > speech aspects, though.
> > I will be interested in following this discussion.
> > Tuna
> > --
> > Alfred C. Snider aka Tuna
> > Edwin Lawrence Professor of Forensics
> > University of Vermont
> > Huber House, 475 Main Street, UVM, Burlington, VT 05405 USA
> > Global Debate Blog http://globaldebateblog.blogspot.com
> > Debate Central http://debate.uvm.edu
> > World Debate Institute http://debate.uvm.edu/wdi/
> > World Debate Institute Blog http://worlddebateinstitute.blogspot.com
> > 802-656-0097 office telephone
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> Alfred C. Snider aka Tuna
> Edwin Lawrence Professor of Forensics
> University of Vermont
> Huber House, 475 Main Street, UVM, Burlington, VT 05405 USA
> Global Debate Blog http://globaldebateblog.blogspot.com
> Debate Central http://debate.uvm.edu
> World Debate Institute http://debate.uvm.edu/wdi/
> World Debate Institute Blog http://worlddebateinstitute.blogspot.com
> 802-656-0097 office telephone
> 802-656-4275 office fax
> eDebate mailing list
> eDebate at www.ndtceda.com
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