[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]
Return to main CEDA-L Archive Page
re: Critique Arguments
If we believe that our advocacy is real and has consequences
then I would like to think that it would be possible to
raise issues regarding the actual language and advocacy
practices of debaters in the debate forum. It should also be
possible to say that these issues should be handled on a
different plane then the hypothetical claims surrounding the
implied action of a debate resolution.
First, it seems worth noting that the term "critique" is
vague enough that it may cover a huge array of arguments and
that the type I am defending might be very different from the
type you are indicting. Second, I think there is a serious
equivocation being made here regarding two argument levels.
For example (only an example) most people would say that a
charge of evidence falsification is a legitimate argument
(provided it can be substantiated). Most would also agree that
this is an argument dramtically different in kind than the
Bosnian war that the falsifying side is advocating.
No one would accept the claim that "well, we lie about the
evidence - but the impact of that lie is so small it is
massively outweighed by thermonuclear war." Obviously there
are two dramatically different levels of argument that are
being inappropriately meshed together with the result of a
One level, I will call the question of legitimacy - perhaps
analogous in court to the issue of standing or jurisdiction
(but having a more normative bent): should we be having this
debate? Is this what we should be debating about?
The other level, I would call the resolutional question:
is the resolution true or false. Getting to the
resolutional question means that we have presupposed the
legitimacy question - and usually we do presuppose it. Yes, we
should be debating it, that is why we came to the round. The
falsification debate sketched above is an example of a denial
of legitimacy: "no we should not proceed, because one side has
violated a fundamental operating assumption - trust in
evidence." The reason why the weighing is inappropriate is
because the falsifiers are using questions relevant to
resolutional truth (or falsity), the Bosnian war, to answer
questions of legitimacy. This begs the question. They don't
apply because arguments regarding resolutional truth
presupposes that we've affirmatively answered the legitimacy
Now, it seems logical that there would be degrees of
legitimacy - maybe falsifying evidence is the absolute denial
of legitimacy, maybe using racist or sexist language against
someone is as bad or worse (Jeremy is right this is a matter
for argument) but at this level, this type of critique (in this
case a non-resolutional critique) differs in impact from the
falsification claim, but not really in form.
In addition, it may be possible to say that considerating
resolution itself causes oppression (it sucks us into
militaristic thinking, it reifies sexist categories, it
destroys culture - also matters of argument and evidence) such
that the legitimacy of a discussion surrounding the truth of that
resolution is destroyed. Lets say a resolution said,
"resolved that bitches should be President" [I use the
oppressive term in order to critique it] it would be possible
to 'prove' it saying "bitches" is slang for women and yes,
women should be President, but it seems more intuitive to say
that the oppressive language destroys the legitimacy of the
claim and that the critique argument is far more relevant than
would be any argument regarding the statement's truth. Other
resolutional critique arguments of course differ in degree, but
not in kind, from this example.
So, in light of this, Jeremy's claims can be answered.
>Resolutional critiques always appear to me to be disads with
>such poor brinks/probability that the only way they will be able
>to outweigh case is if they are a-priori which means that they
>are weighed against nothing.
Only when viewed through a lense that MAKES them disads. If
it is a critique (and if there is a reason for them being a
priori) then it is very different from a disad because it
answers a fundamentally different question.
>Thus, the negative seems to get an unfair advantage because they
>get to have their impacts weighed in the round, but the
>affirmative team does not.
No, the legitimacy question goes both ways. Both sides
should be able to introduce impacts relevant to the question
of legitimacy, but neither side should mix levels.
>The second problem that I have with resolutional critiques, is
>that they are extremely arbitrary.
Often in practice I'll bet they are - if so they are
misnamed. To say something is a critique in my
understanding is to say it operates at a different level -
a level that is presupposed when we just focus on the truth of
the resolutional question.
Finally, he says...
>I believe that it would be almost impossible to convince many
>judeges in the mid-west not to vote on many of these critiques,
>especially sexist language. I fear that on far too many
>arguments premature consensus has emerged, which I believe
>stifles debate and is deangerous for this activity.
Yes, I agree completely, but the direction of the premature
consensus in the midwest these days does not appear to be in
favor of any style of argument other than that existing within
the hypothetical world created by affirmative's implied policy.
Criterial argument, let alone pre-criterial argument, has been
consensually vanquished. I think that if one were to argue
that militaristic discourse is bad on next semester's topic,
the midwestern hallway (if not the round itself) would
unfortunately label you a wimp who is afraid of a "real" (read
'dehumanizingly militaristic') debate.
---Ken Broda-Bahm, S.I.U.
Archive created by Jonathan Stanton (email@example.com)
Return to main CEDA-L Archive Page