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Re: Debate Puzzle: II
I believe that lucius K poses an important theoretical question on the
fiat of the affirmative perm that ties in well with the question of
opportunity cost counterplans. Generally, my understanding of the perm
has been that a perm does not have fiat *in the same sense* as the
affirmative plan. If it did, then the affirmative would become a moving
target, undermining the 1NC's speech, and essentially mandating the neg to
initiate many new arguments, both DAs and theory, in the block. This
would make it a very dangerous position for the affirmative -- the 1AR
would have to come up with original answers to the DAs and theory spread.
This would also promote badly underdeveloped debates, leading to new
answers in both the 2Rs. A judge who refused to hear new arguments in
the 2AR would thus essentially seal the aff's L from the 2AC. More on the
Nicholas Ellinger wrote:
> lucius K wrote:
> > My puzzle:
> > Does a permutation have fiat? I haven't seen enough perm debates to fully
> > answer this myself.
> > I consider the question pertanent because without fiat, aren't you
> > allowing should/would arguments? But with fiat, aren't you allowing
> > abusive perms to be fiated?
> > (For now, pretend that the c/p is a competing policy advocated by the Neg)
> > -------------------------------------------------------------------------
> > EXAMPLE #1 (perm w/o fiat):
> > 1AC: plan is to reform all nuclear power plants.
> > 1NC: Counterplan is to have States do the aff plan.
> > 2AC: The affirmative argues permutation, that both States and USFG
> > together reform nuclear power.
> > Q: What if the negative responds that the USFG WOULD never work with the
> > states in nuke power, thus the perm is illegitamite?
> > What if the Neg reads a card that says the states WOULD never reform
> > nuclear power?
> > The Affirmative might respond that the card proves that states can't
> > reform nuke power, but the Neg's answer is that it simply proves
> > counterplan's inherency. The counterplan may never be done in the SQ, but
> > negative fiat overcomes this. Meanwhile, the permutation has no fiat, so
> > it can't overcome the same inherent barriers.
> > Or better yet, why doesn't the Neg simply cross-apply Aff case inherency
> > to the perm?
> > EXAMPLE #2 (perm w/ fiat):
> > 1AC: plan is USFG reform nuclear power
> > 1NC: Counterplan with ban all nuclear power.
> > 2AC: Permutation argues that both occur simultaniously.
> > 2NC: Neg argues that the perm is physically impossible. You can't
> > do both at the same time.
> > Q: What if the Aff argues that perm fiat gives them the right to
> > overcome space/time barriers so that the desirability of the perm can
> > be answered?
> > * * *
> > One might respond that I'm confusing the difference between COULD, as in
> > the perm PHYSICALLY COULD not occur. and WOULD, as in there is an
> > attitudianl barrier that prevents the perm.
> > But I fail to recognize how this differnce checks permutation abuse. Is it
> > legitimate for the Neg to quote Jesse Helms that he would never implement
> > the perm? Is it legitimate for the negative to argue that socialism cannot
> > physically co-exist with capitalism? Or, does the Aff have the power to
> > fiat over these concerns so that the perm's desirability once implemented
> > can be debated?
> > Another response may be that since a perm is simply a test and not
> > advocated, then fiat is irrelavent. But this doesn't answer why
> > the permutation's desirability is argued. Sure, the Aff may have
> > proven that the counterplan isn't mutually exclusive, that the plan
> > and the counterplan COULD co-exist, but the Neg response is that
> > the counterplan is still more desirable than the perm. Inorder to win the
> > perm against a net-beneficial c/p the Aff argues that it is as desirable
> > or more desirable than the counterplan. (or parts of it) Why can't the
> > Negative respond that the perm is less desirable because it wouldn't be
> > done because congress won't vote for it?
> > * * *
> > I guess the big question is, How is a permutation argued so that it
> > prevents both abuses highlighted in Example #1 and Example #2?
> Here is my semi-solution to this quandary: Perms have hypothetical fiat.
> When a perm is not advocated, then it is necessary only to find if the
> perm COULD happen. Assuming the perm has been found legitmate, as in
> the first example, then the perm COULD happen and would be possible
> regardless of congressional say-so. This is the beauty of inherency v.
> fiat theory -- fiat can overcome inherent barriers.
> However, as with any other inherency v. fiat, the fiat has to be
> possible. In the second example (simultaneously banning and regulating
> nuclear power), it is clear that the two ideas cannot co-exist. The
> perm is illegitimate and thus the aff cannot fiat it. Fiat is only
> feasible to overcome inherent barriers, not barriers of possibility.
I don't see why the 'could' criterion prevents the 'do both' perm here.
In policy debate, we must necessarily deal with questions of policy. In
that context, it seems entirely possible for two pieces of contradictory
legislation to be passed. I'm almost sure that has happened in the past
(albeit often on different jurisdictional levels), and it certainly raises
interesting questions that can be argued out. If the neg ran a prolif
signaling DA, claiming that increasing nuclear power would increase loose
nukes abroad, the aff could claim that the perm would capture the DA by
trumpeting the C/P legislation to the world and keeping the plan quiet.
They could even argue full solvency and thus net benefits for the perm if
they had ev that a Court would strike down the C/P legislation, after the
danger of the DA had passed (e.g., after the US acquired NMD). Of course,
the neg could argue just the opposite -- that the perm would send the
wrong signal and have no solvency. The makings of a good perm debate.
If we try to use the 'could' bright line, then I believe that virtually
any perm would be seen as permissible. The one true bright line I believe
that is necessary is that the perm must incorporate all of the plan plus
any part(s) or the whole of the C/P plus nothing else. This manages to
allow for good debates on exclusionary C/Ps that Josh Hoe so eloquently
defended, while avoiding any intrinsicness traps. I really think that a
perm meeting this standard would find it very hard to be abusive of fiat
to any greater extent than either of the teams may be. After all, the
perm just combines parts of each team's advocacy. If the neg C/Ps with
anarchy, and then the aff perms the C/P, it is clear that the abuse came
not in the 2AC but the 1NC. I don't really think there are that many
"space/time barriers" to passing contradictory policies. Generally just
common sense, or in debate terms, net-benefits argumentation.
> The question of "Why can't the Negative respond that the perm is less
> desirable because it wouldn't be done because congress won't vote for
> it?" varies depending on your view of perm theory. I am from the school
> of "If you perm the counter-plan, it goes away." for the simple reason
> that if a counterplan is permable, it is irrelavant to the
> advantage/disadvantage of aff plan. (This is why I'm not a huge fan of
> opportunity cost counterplans. For them to be legitmate, I believe, the
> neg has to prove that the money/time/resource/etc. that goes to aff
> would go to neg if aff is not implemented).
The desire espoused here -- to avoid probabilistic counterplans and perms
-- is certainly a valid one. I am not entirely certain whether you would
want to reject opportunity cost for this reason, for once fiat enters the
round the probability becomes unity -- a certainty (provided it's not
argued to be abusive). Still, I agree that a perm ought to show whether
the counterplan is material to passing the plan. In affirmative plan
focus, the central question is whether to pass or reject the plan -- and
if any counterplan is proposed that does not compete on the level of
net-benefits (the only *true* standard of competition), then it must be
rejected, and the affirmative may be upheld (if net-beneficial to SQ).
> There are those, however, who believe that once a perm enters the round,
> the round splits into three parts (for the sake of simplicity, the do
> both perm is used): aff case (aff), perm (aff), and counterplan (neg).
> If the negative counterplan is better than both the perm and aff case,
> the neg wins. However, this would only happen if the aff case is worse
> than the status quo and therefore, it amounts to the same weighing
> mechanism as the paragraph above, only 10X more complex.
What? If the plan saves 10 lives, the counterplan saves 100 lives, and
the perm only saves 40 lives because contradictory elements between the
plan and counterplan undermine its solvency (for example), then while the
aff plan is clearly better than the SQ, the counterplan is net beneficial
and should win. If the neg had not run its C/P, and had not proved enough
direct costs to outweigh the advantages, then it would have lost. Ergo
the justification for running the C/P.
> Getting back to the question of "Why can't the Negative respond that the
> perm is less desirable because it wouldn't be done because congress
> won't vote for it?", if you believe the first version of perm theory,
> when the cp goes away with the perm, fiat becomes irrelavent. Based on
> the second, however, the idea of congress backlash might possibly lead
> to the perm being less desirable than the counterplan (although by no
> means negating the perm).
The Congress legislative backlash sounds interesting but unpersuasive.
The first test which tests the counterplan to see if it provides a warrant
for plan rejection seems clearly superior. It seems that a bit of
reciprocity might be in order -- if the neg can legitimately C/P a policy,
then the aff ought to test whether it competes. Fiat is definitely not
exclusively neg domain (if at all...but that's another argument).
The best way I can think of to argue a perm to avoid both of lucius K's
pitfalls is saying first that the C/P is intended to test whether the aff
is advocating the best policy within its chosen parameters. Then the perm
tests whether the C/P competes on the level of net benefits within those
same parameters. While the aff does not advocate the C/P (or the part(s)
of it in the perm) in the same way it advocates the plan, it does
acknowledge that to some extent the neg might have a good idea that can
work in the same world. If proven as such by the end of the round, then
the judge has no logical warrant to vote against the aff on probabilistic
arguments proposed by the neg. Perhaps one could argue that the aff can
even fiat the perm at the end of the round if proven net beneficial, just
as the neg fiats the dispositional C/P only when proven net beneficial.
If the neg instead argues a non-fiated opp cost C/P, then both the C/P and
the perm are subject to the same probabilistic attacks, making the
probabilism argument a good one for the aff instead of the neg.
> The views expressed above are from a 1-year college debater and by no
> means are reflective of the beliefs of Vanderbilt University, Greendale
> High School, Pick N' Save Supermarkets, the Central Intelligence Agency,
> or any of their employees, students, or puppet Third World dictators.
> Do not rebroadcast without the express written consent of Major League
I would add a similar caveat (1-year college debater etc.), and hope that
I have MLB permission for this post :).
> Nick Ellinger
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