[eDebate] The Agent

Kuswa, Kevin kkuswa
Fri Apr 10 01:15:40 CDT 2009

Thanks, Josh.  I like this post and its open tone.  The recognition that something like "we" might allow everything JP is struggling to maintain is an important one.

There are probably other "learning outcomes" to add to the four listed below (being with friends), but those make sense and so does the struggle over what to do when they are in conflict.

On the other hand, I don't think the "whatever thing" would have to be a monster (or at least not a bad monster). I am also not sure it would really be "whatever" by the time deabters formulate their arguments.

Also, it is still absurd to say that the USFG is a solvency obstacle to non-USFG topics because such a position implies that we can avoid those problems by simply making the USFG the agent.  Again, it's like saying, "we have to debate from the perspective of the usfg because if we don't the usfg will not let us act at all."  Do not think about a giraffe.

From: edebate-bounces at ndtceda.com [edebate-bounces at ndtceda.com] On Behalf Of Josh [jbhdb8 at gmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, April 09, 2009 3:54 PM
To: edebate at ndtceda.com
Subject: [eDebate] The Agent

Look, I know I am going to get skewered for this...Obviously, I think there are some good reasons for a traditional actor.

First, uniqueness, its possible to focus on "WE" and USFG - Obviously I dont entirely agree this is a good thing but whatever

On most questions of public policy the USFG is an impediment or necessary partner to creating/maintaining meaningful change.  Yes, I realize there is a large debate over local versus national change...about individual vs collective change...about social locations...and of course, many people think "pretending you are the USFG" means you have to be racist and genocidal.  I also fully realize that debaters are not literally the government.  However, it is possible to debate the social context of how you should/ought be most effective as a social agent and in many areas the USFG is an important part of change that goes from round - to judges and participants - to how we relate to questions of public policy as agents outside of debates.

There are also many disadvantages to debate purely about social orientation and locations:

First, its very hard to judge or debate against many of these claims.  I believe....Stressing the "I"....that debate is about four major things (as currently practiced):

A) Learning a rigorous method of testing claims (some have called this the search for the Best Policy Option but this undersells the practice - whatever we are talking about be it "we" or "policy" or comparing "rap albums" debate represents a method of teaching refutation and engagement and a search for relative truth)

B) Education on a TOPIC (for many people, including me, I see a HUGE benefit in debating different specific topics because it means we examine and learn from the experts or those most directly connected to a particular subject - IMPORTANT CAVEAT - experts can be singers, people who work in the field, from personal experience, and from personal interviews, my argument is NOT that you only learn from big E experts when you research a topic.

C) Exploring your personal relationship to debate. Debate does get better when its cannon is tested by debate.  Reflexivity is good. For instance, really many of the criticisms of "traditional debate" are really indicts of the ways we evaluate impacts. It would be great for us to be reflexive about the absurdities of hyper-expressing CBA (lack of plan causes X, X = Nuke war, lack of plan causes Y, Y causes nuclear war, ad infinitim)

D) Exploring your personal relationship to your social location and expressing and finding a voice to express your interests and agency. Not only does debate teach a method to determine relative truth it can also be space to be an advocate and equally important a social agent for change.

These 4 things often contradict and come into conflict.  For instance, debating one particular topic in time would prevent people from advocating and discussing what they personally wish to advocate and perhaps trades off with personal examination and reflexivity about debate qua debate.  However, it is also true that purely debating "the whatever beast" carries an incrementally large disadvantage of not 1) Being mutually predictable  2) Being falsifiable through mutually accessible sources of research 3) Allowing a meaninful search for relative truth benefit (in other words choosing option D literally trades off with learning the method of testing relative truth traditional debate represents and also doesnt expose the personal proposal of the affirmative to that form and method of testing relative truth).  3) Creating any meaninful role for the negative (this is rarely discussed even in rounds). 4) Prevents the follow on educational effect (what I mean by this is that while I read about particular debate arguments I distinguish, to some extent, between strategery for debate and things I think about what we should really do to fix the problems a topic represents. In other words, while many affirmatives may err on the side of what is strategic to claim for a debate - my research on the subject of that affirmative has follow on effects.  Again, what represents evidence is more malleable then my opponants will represent.  I have ALWAYS accepted alternative forms of evidence and ALWAYS accepted logic arguments in the face of stupid arguments in cards.

So my conclusion has been that the DAs to "that whatever monster" outweigh the DAs to "traditional topics."  This does not mean I am immune to or unconcerned with the criticisms of traditional debate...or unwilling to modify thinking.  I think if you read any of my arguments five years ago and then read the above you would have to admit I have shifted my thinking in many ways.

Now, in terms of USFG - it seems to me, that the more we move away from a stable universally accessible relationship to an external actor we brook the disadvantages mentioned above plus the disadvantage of the USFG being a literal roadblock to actual/real/meaningful social change in most of the areas our topics would discuss (the JP Lacy DA).

I am presenting this more as a starting point for discussion then an attempt to get in the usual fights with a bunch of people I respect but disagree with.  It is ok if you disagree, say terrible things about what I said, or just mock me...I am more interested in finding new ways to approach this currently.


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