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No theory/no need for evidence
Hey Ken and others interested in the "using theory evidence post Ken made"
First, for others who don't know--Ken coached me when I debated at Western
Washington and he is an amazing coach. He is insightful; has great ideas; and
you can see it in the articles that he has written.
Second, I disagreed with you then about theory and t-rasa judging Ken--and I
Third, are you going to coach at Towson?
I agree with Ken that dismissing theory evidence is as arbitary as if we
dismissed evidence on the "substantive" issues in a debate (though I have some
sympathy with the notion that as debate participants we know as much or more
than some of the authors that are read to us--particularly, in its application
to the arguments in the round).
I'd also add that I think we often have a over deference for the "authority"
read in the "substantive" evidence when we would do better to examine the
reasons and values exhibited in the arguments the authors present.
That said--what arguments would really need theory support? Hasty G? Whole
Res? Critiques? Language based value objections? Criterial objections? I hope
not, at least when I am judging. Students should be focused on whether
military intervention is a good idea in Bosnia--not whether such a case
violates principles of formal logic in its relation to the resolution nor
should they be forced to defend a term in a resolution they did not write nor
should they be forced to defend their criteria interpreted in a way they never
intended nor argued.
That said--the theory argument that is worth discussing is topicality. Now, to
make a good topicality argument, I would argue that it must be a specific
violation topicality argument. By that, I mean a violation that is supported
with specific (I'd underline that word if I could) reasons to support the
definition/interpretation given and specific reasons why that violation should
be a reason to vote for the argument. Hence, the good old "reasonable is
better" "no--best definition is the way to go" and "t is a voter because of
jurisdiction" just do not present good enough reasons to reject an affirmative
case (I should say in most situations do not present enough reasons). Instead,
the good topicality argument must be specific to the violation the affirmative
has committed with their case/plan. Example--Michigan State ran a "must be
1000 troops" standard and then read lots of evidence arguing that using other
numbers or interpretations were subjective, could be used to say one soldier
was a military intervention, etc. They then impacted the argument by
showing that using the affirmative interpretation would lead to an unlimited
number of cases. Now--my question--what theory evidence could help a team make
such an argument? The only thing I can think of is theory about a proper
balance of ground or research abuse or anything which hits at the assumptions
behind the specific reasons the debaters wish to present. Absent that, the
debaters need to provide specifics--arguments based on that semester's
resolution and the other team's affirmative case. No theory articles can
provide evidence to do this--they would appear to late and could never account
for the multiple permutations of arguments that would exist in each, specific
round that the debaters need to address to make the kind of topicality argument
I am talking about.
So, if you are in agreement with me that t is the sole procedural issue and you
agree with me that t arguments should focus on specifics rather than broad
theoretical generalizations about the role of definitions, etc.--then, I hope I
have made a convincing case that theory evidence usually is not helpful nor
needed and indeed probably would get in the way of debaters making specific
arguments. To the degree that the debaters stay focused on the specifics and
use the "theory" evidence to address the assumptions of the specifics--then, I
agree with Ken. Otherwise--lets stay focused on the practical--the
Archive created by Jonathan Stanton (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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