[eDebate] keenan, "k" and "policy"

J T jtedebate
Sun Apr 12 11:31:22 CDT 2009

I'll take issue with the "body of work" comments...that's just not reality...in one of those supportive backchannels, I gave examples of Foucault and Heidegger where scholars have pointed a definitive alteration in their philosophies from different portions of their career; "early and late Heidegger/Foucault".? It would be naive to assume some who wrote for 30 years would have the same opinion throughout...people grow, learn, and change....they also clarify what they meant in different works..many "on point answers" to K args reflect a misreading of the author, or maybe just a different reading...authors often respond to those critics with clarification or refutation.

Quite simply, what we think are good answers when we read an article, might not play out that way.

And why should a team be liable for Zizek's work on religion when they are running a cap K?? Just like the Heidegger/nazi debates, aff have to win a link that someting in the author's personal life directly affected the line of thought advocated in the K...trying to answer Empire with bad "Hardt & Negri are nazis" cards is just insufficient. If they were, then HOW did nazism implicate their philosophy?

W. James Taylor ("JT")

Asst. Debate Coach

Emporia State University

***Nothing in this email should be taken to represent Emporia State Debate or Emporia State University.  The contents are the sole opinion of the author.

--- On Sun, 4/12/09, Eric Morris <ermocito at gmail.com> wrote:

From: Eric Morris <ermocito at gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [eDebate] keenan, "k" and "policy"
To: "matthew farmer" <matthewfarm at gmail.com>
Cc: edebate at www.ndtceda.com
Date: Sunday, April 12, 2009, 8:39 AM

Once again, thank you for reading what I said and engaging it! It's much easier to make explain an argument when you have a set of responses to it. 

I think you largely agree with the thesis of my email when you utter this sentence: "It would be hypocritical to accept a generic link without much
application and then require high levels of specificity by the opposing
team". You just perhaps disagree that this hypocrisy EVER happens? I'm glad your debate experience has been so universally positive. You must find the practice of filling out MPJ to be a very confusing waste of time....

Conversely, I think it happens often. I have accumulated some backchannel support for this, based on prior posts. Not just in rounds my teams lose, but also in rounds they win on other issues. It also happens in rounds I watch without having a horse in the race. It undoubtedly has benefitted my teams from time to time, as I've had several teams win lots of rounds on the K.? I am writing in this forum, instead of in a post-round where I had something perhaps at stake in the decision, because I think if judges did a mental check of "Am I holding the negative to the same sort of scrutiny on K links that I am holding the aff to on links to their K answers" (and obviously, either or both sides might be running the K, so the point is more universal) then it would improve judging practice. Also, if judges performed this check, and then explained their decisions in that manner, I think debaters would be more likely to attempt specific answers instead of generic

I agree that good link and link defense work by the debaters should be prioritized above just reading the evidence. I think my earlier email bracketed out from my criticism cases where one team was clearly out-debating the other on the analytics related to the link. If the other neg team said the things I quoted, and the aff didn't challenge it, then sure. In those cases, the judge should prefer the better debating. But, I was talking about cases where the neg didn't say it and/or the aff did challenge it. I hope you would agree that some rounds/judges come down in such a way that evidence reading ends up being really important - either because the teams are close to even in their debating, or the judge prioritizes evidence, or the judge was confused and is figuring it out, as much as they can, after the fact. 

I will select, for establishing a point of stasis, one sentence from what you said: "In other words, the distinction: 'they're critiquing a different part
of my authors work, we're not using that,' is a 100% link take-out
(apples and oranges). 'The link is generically talking about world
economics,' still admits some similarities. it's not that there's 'no
link', it's that there's only some."

I agree that some criticisms of an author are CONFINED to a particular work. We found some Deleuze answers recently that suggested the Anti-Oedipus was the remedy to all errors in other D&G work. Obviously didn't read them against UCO, since most of their cards were from Anti-Oedipus. If it's CLEAR that the criticism is limited to ONLY a particular work, and the neg is quoting another work, then sure - apples and oranges. 

That said, most of the major K authors do have continuity between major works. Most of them use similar methods, draw upon similar concepts. In a sense, it is the BODY of work which often leads to an author being given credibility, by general audiences, academic audiences, and perhaps even debate audiences. Other, a derivative work is nearly unapproachable without the context of the earlier work. When criticism of a particular work is used more in the frame of 'here's an example of what I'm talking about', then the criticism should presumably extend BEYOND the particular work. The word choice of the evidence is important here, but having a presumption of relevance instead of a presumption of irrelevance would do wonders to IMPROVE debating (plus, that same presumption is afforded the negative). 

Giving too much credence to 'we're quoting a different work' implicitly spots one team presumption that the author in question has seen the error in their thinking and thus corrected the error. That's a fine claim to make with evidence, but systematically spotting it to a team who did nothing more than note "that's not our book title" is the sort of subtle judging practice that dramatically influences the direction of K debating. I've seen this spotted in cases where the aff team was clearly doing work to say "here's how it links to your use of said author" and the judge said "but you don't have a card to support THAT claim". The remedy, in such situations, is what we both agreed upon already - judges should make sure they are comparable link evidence demands on people reading a K and people responding to one. 

One judge I could single out - in a positive way - is Russell. Pretty solid judge (and there's so much else about him you can disparage anyway, so why not admit it?). I've seem him on numerous occasions vote against a critical argument because the other team read cards that were SO on-point relevant to their argument that the typical "dance of no-link-to-us" wasn't an adequate answer. The judging pool could univeralize that specific practice (without universalizing Russell in general, god forbid) and it would improve K debating. Dramatically. 

Alternative texts change over time. A lot. Primarily based on positive and negative experiences with the judging pool, and what you can get away with. I should know - I've written more than a few. 

I am a fan of "do the K in all other instances" based on the strategic possibilities it creates. I have a flowing shorthand specifically for it. But, if the alternative text is consistently just "reject the aff's use of X", it creates a quandry. Does the perm do MORE than the alternative (matching perhaps what's in the CARDS, or what's in the underlying articles)? If so, it's intrinsic. If it doesn't go beyond the alternative, then "all other instances" becomes "no instances at all". My point is that excluding such permutations on intrinsicness grounds endorses reading K authors in an extremely selective, minimalist, and probably counter educational way. If intrinsic perms are not a comfortable remedy, then perhaps a counter-interpretation of the negative work which refutes the negative's interpretation. This would extend beyond whether said author "supports the plan" (which is certainly relevant, but not decisive - a disad link author can and often DOES
 support the plan). Instead, it would seek to explore whether the author cited would agree with the negative's conclusion of rejection and their placement of that rejection claim above practical concerns, etc. Of course, the negative could read OTHER authors to support those claims, and might not even need the particular author to make the K happen. But, if the K critically depends on the particular author (given how judge lean heavily on evidence in some cases), then the counter interpretation might be VERY relevant. At worst, it would create a major incentive for teams running K's and teams hitting them to figure out what the authors are really saying. I think that would be VERY productive. Do other disagree?

Most debaters aren't particularly lazy - especially when they are compared to other students! Many of them work very hard. The wins and losses are a very powerful incentive for why they work, and also HOW they work. They do what they think will win. If you don't like what they do, and think they should do different things, then tweak your judging practices to line up the incentives accordingly. Most judges do so, as Farmer admits. You can do this without abandoning productive practices like the burden of rejoinder. 

I would like to see debaters be all over the literature base of K's they commonly debate. But, I also want them to be all over the policy part of the topic. It's a tall order, and there are trade offs involved. When judges impose different link expectations for K's than they do for specific K answers, they make mastery of generic K answers the most productive response. If that's how you want K debates to be, then fine. If you want them to be more particular to specific K's, then judge in ways which incentivize that. 


On Sat, Apr 11, 2009 at 10:46 PM, matthew farmer <matthewfarm at gmail.com> wrote:

On the lack example:
A lot of this DOES have to do with the debaters... Specific arguments/pieces of ev are given to debaters that do not understand (or perhaps cannot; I am tempted to make a trained incapacity argument here) their function, that do not understand the broader discussion going on in the literature base, etc. The effect is that people who know more about the lit (in this example, the k team typically) are able to draw subtle distinctions that are often Invalid. In policy debate, we call this spin. I can't help but remember a one-shot wonder involving the internal link of a peace process da that i once ran. The arg was that the EU and US were pushing 2 separate peace processes, and that political capital was key to getting the US one through... This arg is obviously terrible (there were't two, just cards that made it sound like there were), but in the right context, the spin of the internal link could be controlled. Back to lack, the ev alone cannot do the
 work... The debaters need to be able to apply their criticism of the k in a flexible and Creative manner. They need to be able to speak with some authority about the premises of their opponents arguments; they need to be informed. 

The reciprocity arg:
I'm not sure inequity in the level of scrutiny is as prevalent as you might think. I personally have a very high standard for k links and am increasingly bored and annoyed by teams that don't do the work to talk about the plan and advantages and draw comparisons with their theory. It would be hypocritical to accept a generic link without much application and then require high levels of specificity by the opposing team. However, this once again requires that the generic link be answered. Too often, the generics aren't answered at all, or are simply called 'generic'. A good no link argument involves a summation of the conditions by which a link is met and then a description of how the aff is distinctly NOT that, and further how the aff avoid the pitfalls of that which would link. The coach of the losing team might wonder, 'why is it that our specific arg was washed aside by a few subtle distinctions, and their generic link slipped through?" Well, perhaps
 the answer lies in the lack of a coherent no link arg. In other words, the distinction: 'they're critiquing a different part of my authors work, we're not using that,' is a 100% link take-out (apples and oranges). 'The link is generically talking about world economics,' still admits some similarities. it's not that there's 'no link', it's that there's only some. Is the burden not in part on the aff to say, 'we're not that aspect of world economics at all, we avoid all of those pitfalls'. It seems to me that often there are low quality links made by both sides, but the side that tends to know the lit and is creative tends to do the better no link work. Obviously, it would be great if they all did great work on their links and no links, but it makes sense to me why these close debates tend to lean k. 

Alt text: 

Good cross-x and theory is the answer. Think of deliberately screwy k alts like the states cp is for galloway. they stop us from debating the good stuff. Also, 'perm: plan plus non-comp portion of alt' -- then aff redefines what perm does as alt changes... It's the reciprocal response, plus they speak last, so it ought work out a lot of the time. Intrinsicness args should not be necessary, if the aff wins that the neg reads their author wrong then the alt might not solve, the links might not apply? There's offense here too, if they're misreading, then they're probably guilty of something that would result in an impact (by their own author's logic). The remedy might be better debating...


Totally agree about judges being more descriptive. I learned a lot from post-rounds. I'll add though, that the question 'how could I make this arg better/apply?' was usually required. The debaters need to take some initiative as well. 

One last point, tangentially related, the lazy K debater is matched by the lazy k answerer. The 'I don't give a shit about that stuff' position is too prevalent on both sides of the isle. In this respect, I second JT. The training of debaters to think ideologically about argument form and content has a lot to do with these debater-motivation concerns. 


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