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Re: ADA restricting critiques (LONG)
I.) First, the justification may be that it teaches us "better" modes of
persuasion. I am uncertain as to the means by which we evaluate "better".
Is it that argumentation most in line with scientific reason? Cartesian
rationality? Western ideological methods of inquiry? If so, why do we
adopt these particular views as opposed to a different form of
ideological hegemony? Why not force a premodern dogma of Christian
morality? There seem two justifications for enforcement of this particular
dogma as oposed to others.
A.) The first would be that it is more pedagogically effective (ie.
it teaches us the best ways to persuade people when we get out of the
debate community). Since most of the modern world operates in the
consequentialist modernist mode of reason, we are best able to persuade
those around us from that method. I believe that this argument fails for
1.) This is a method of teaching that is purely a
continuation of whatever discourse or ideology dominates the status quo.
To typify debate in this manner removes the "critical" from the thinking
on any level but the most superficial. Rather than challenge the
narratives of the majority, debate here would reinforce them (as it often
does) and become a way to teach conformity and agreement rather than
investigation and insight. I may really like the RESULT of the ADA rule,
but the fact it exists precludes me from proving why it should (McGuire's
theory on innoculation springs to mind as a crude and approximate referent).
2.) The basis of this argument is that current modes of
thought need to be "protected" from other modes of though that are
hurting it. If coaches could teach their teams to effectively argue that
critiques must be unique, why would this rule ever exist? The more truly
pedagogical approach is to expose debaters to as much "bad" or
inconsistent argumentation as possible since 95% of what they will see in
the real world will be such. Are election arguments logical and well
reasoned? No. Are advertisements logical and well reasoned? No. (these
are my opinions.) This is not to say the critique is poorly reasoned, but
only that if one concedes the argument of the anti-critique people, it
does not justify rule-making to enforce their view.
3.) Rule making to protect argumentation form or style is
fundamentally oppossed to faith in the dialectic. "Good" argument should
always beat "Bad" argument, right? If you believe that the dialectic
works then there is no cause for the rule. In 2A lingo, you got no
advantage to the rule if the dialectic works (which seems a premise your
conclusions are reliant on) so if I have ANY inkling of a disad (linear
or unique) you lose. Disads can be found above and below.
B. The second reason it may be better argumentation to use the
model ADA is attempting to enforce is that is may be more consistent with
an objective method of "Truth" (that's capital T type Truth). If one
accepts that it is even possible to have capital T truth there are still
at least three errors in this reasoning.
1.) The existence of objective truth does not make that
Truth knowable. Remember that Descartes posited that there was no way to
really know whether one was in contact with an objectively existing world
or was brain in a vat being used for fun and profit by some demon. I will
here side with Shaviro and similar postmodern authors who claim the
difference is purely academic and meaningless. What I truely perceive as
true might as well be until I can find it otherwise. In other words,
until I (that is I, NOT WE) find the critique must be unique, or that
only a certain number of counterplans is the logical limit, it is not
true for ME. If any would be so bold as to let me judge NDT (oh, the
terror!) I pledge to knowingly and consciously disobey any rules and
follow what I believe to be the best choice given the immediate context
of the in-round experience. If you think you have found Truth and just
need to teach it to others, do yourself and your students a favor and
don't. Finding what you believe to be true and the means you think best
to find that is what debating was all about for me. It's what life is all
about for me. How could you rob that from a student by "protecting" them?
2.) We are not talking hard empirical facts. Even if what
I just said is lost on you, the fact that debate is primarily involved in
social scientific prediction should help you to understand that "Truth"
is whatever most people believe at one time. There is no way to even
argue effectively for social scientific Truth or True methods after the
fall of Skinner and Freud. Chaos theory is for the natural environment,
which any sociologist will tell you is far more stable than human
behavior. Politics, especially international relations, is a nonlinear
and chaotic system. Even the Tofflers recognize the failure of
international relations to conform to expectations and predictions,
especially ones so culturally bound as Cartesian dialectical predictions.
3.) No system or method can be relied on for truth. Ask a
well versed researcher, which is better, quantitative or qualitative
methods and they will say that it depends on the question being asked and
the subject of inquiry. Which is better, consequentialism or moral
absolutism? Well, that would depend also. What's the best way to
presuade, to analyze policy, to criticize policy, to formulate policy?
Well that damn well depends too. In an attempt to optimize the situations
for debate ADA may well have the effect of sterilizing debate and sifling
creative thought. Basic organizational theory... Brainstorming... Why does
one allow outlandish and crazy ideas? Ideas with little or not recognized
merit? Because they may stir or give birth to great discoveries or ideas.
Growth has an awkward stage. Fourteen years old is often painful, clumsy
and difficult. Does that mean we should find a way to halt us all at 9?
The clumsiness of the critique now (if such even is the case) does not
justify one placing it in a straightjacket and a padded room.
II.) The justification may be found in some cases on the basis of a
protective paternalism. The idea is that we need to protect debaters from
these bad arguments.
A.) The first form I see this take is that people are afraid that
the "bad" argument will roll over the "good" argument for some reason.
This is primarily answered above, but I would like to add two points.
1.) There are no "bad" arguments. There are those that
win and those that do not. There are those that have more fidelity or
coherence than those with less. The truth (little t) is generated through
consensus, in debate that is consensus between critic and debater(s). In
other words, truth is what you can get away with. It always has been and
always will be. Do UFOs exist? Can there be cold fusion? How will China
react to the sale of more F-14s? These are questions in which there is no
domination of one view over another (not to say that some views do not
currently weild more power, but rather that the power relationship is not
fixed in a manner that is unchanging or stable). Is astrology more
reliable than biology? Can rain dances summon rain spirits to bring rain?
Does psilocybin help us contact another dimension? These claims are in a
domination (or near domination) relationship in our society, but it is
primarily due to ideological hegemony. We believe it because it is
consistent with what we believe. There is no objective standard for that
2.) What RIGHT does the ADA have to determine which arguments
are GOOD and which are BAD? If the Gods themselves came down and said
Critiques Must Be Unique I would ask "WHY?" and evaluate on the basis of
the answers. Debate should teach us to be INDIVIDUAL thinkers, not
someone else's thinkers. Each person should generate truth for themselves
and if you don't have faith that people can/will do that then you sould
consider the following: Why debate? Why answer my arguments here? Why
even attempt persuasion? Unless of course you are simply attempting to
exert control over the activity, in which case you either believe
yourself omniscient and we humble mortals thank you for your insight; or
you are simply generating and enforcing YOUR truth on others which
concedes that truth is made, not found.
B.) The second form of paternalism is the protection of the poor
inexperienced debater who can't help themselves enough to argue against
the mean old nasty critique. This argument falls on two seperate counts.
1.) Teach your debaters to fish. A hokey and corny saying
perhaps, but appropriate to the case: Give a person a fish they eat for a
day, teach them to fish and they eat for a lifetime (or till they have
overfished the oceans and the catch runs out). Let the debaters make the
answers and learn how to argue it out. For their sake, if it's so bad,
they can beat it!
2.) Raw horse puckey. If you step in it what do you do?
You learn not to step in it again. Even a three year old figures that
out. Novice debaters ARE NOT dumb people! They are NOT incapable of
reasoning! Rules are NOT the best way to help new debaters. If uniqueness
is an important part of the critique it will be apparent to a number of
debaters (even if it isn't it will probably still be apparent that it is)
and they will argue it. No one needs a rule to figure that out or make
III.) The last two reasons for rule-based debate seem to fall under the
general heading of "We have a right!" which I also find unconvincing.
Whether that right be from ownership or majority I find no reason it
justifies a limit to debate.
A.) Some argue that "If you don't like it, amke your own debate
league!" Which I find about as intellectually advanced as "It's my ball,
so we play by my rules!"
1.) You OWN ADA or NDT or CEDA or APDA? Please show us
your title to the organization. That would help. This may be an appeal to
an implied majority (WE think this way), but if so it is poorly stated.
Also, there is no reason ownership denotes a power over the
object/subject owned. Major league ball clubs are owned, but many felt
the owners had no right to the way they ran those clubs. The players
own their talents and time, but many feel they had no right to strike.
Ownership does not confer carte blanche rights to consume or manipulate
that which is owned. Period. Not even in this highly individualistic and
ownership driven society, and especially not in others.
2.) Your enforcement of the rule incurs a number of
disadvantages (above and below) but yields no advantage. What is gained
by making the rule? Take your ball and go home, and the game stops. Give
a little and accept a few alternative approaches as at least worth
accepting as possible arguments and you lose what? Is ADA so threatened
by the critique that this is their only capable reaction? THINK AND SPEAK.
Tournaments are also NOT owned by their hosts. Because of the complex
relationship between host/tab/critic/competitor/coach/administrator that
creates a synergistic effect (Debate Tournament) no single party can
claim ownership to the even that occurs there. A tournament is not so
much a thing as it is a happening, a process. As such, it is owned by all
those involved in the being/becoming of the tournament.
B.) We all voted and made a decision. So, like, we all own it, so
we all got together and decided it would be this way, so, like, that's
the way it is.
1.) Even if majority = authority this argument has no
power except its power. We are more than your (majority), hence we have
more power than you (majority), hence we get to do what we want (rules).
Majority rule (liberal democracy) is a subtle form of might makes right.
So, like, Bob, we decided we don't like you, so like, we're gonna' kill
you. So, like, Sarah, we decided you're ugly, so we're gonna' cover your
face with a paper bag. So, like, Jill, we decided you're stupid so,
you're not allowed to talk anymore. So, like, Dana, we decided critiques
are bad disadvantages, so you're not allowed to argue your point of view
anymore. This and the "I own it" are childish responses at worst, evidence
of the counter-discourses generating fear and uncertainty in the core at
2.) This is another not so creative way to avoid change
or critical thinking. The majority is a reflection of the dominant
ideological system. That gives it no hold to Truth or even dominance in
truth. Saying that the majority can avoid critical thinking by voting
their viewpoint into unquestionability is a stagnant Stalinist response
of sick character and intellectual bankruptcy. Huh? What? Us change? Us
think? No, we are more than you. We stay same, you conform. Uhg.
Please note. These are my opinions. As vile and bileous as you may find
them, they please me. I say them because I am motivated in myself to say
them for myself. Disagree? Good! That makes me happy. I like it when
people can intelligently disagree. I encourage reasons why you disagree
and why my characterizations may seem unfair. That's debate. Want to make
people like me stop debating? Want to make anyone stop debating? My
answer is GO TO HELL. Want to stop certains styles or issues in debate
rounds? Want to tell debaters they CAN'T argue certain issues or ways? My
answers is BURN IN HELL. I feel very strongly about this. These are my
beliefs. I respond this way as a statement of my personal beliefs, not as
a physcial threat or intention of wishing you harm.
Please do not take this to mean that debater's shouldn't argue that
critiques need to be unique. My criticism is of rule-making in debate. I
can think of at least 3 really good reasons why topicality should NOT be
a voting issue (in my opinion). Let the debaters argue it out. It's THEIR
activity, not ours (I no longer being a debater).
Cal State Chico
Archive created by Jonathan Stanton (email@example.com)
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