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theory vs. substantives
In a recent post Ken Bahm asked
>>>Why is knowledge regarding military intervention **presumptively**
>>>superior to knowledge about logic, advocacy, standards of evaluation, or
>>>language? And don't beg the question by saying something like "because
>>>that is the topic."
The purpose of my post is to explain why topic knowledge is more important than
However, I will begin with a disclaimer. Nothing in this post should be used
by anyone as the basis for a judging philosophy or be interpreted as my
personal judging philosophy. As judges we should always seek not to intervene
in debates for all the reasons that Matt Roskoski recently posted. I agree
with Ken and Don that taking "the power" only to replace one set of arbitrary
"rules" with another would be absurd. However, as coaches I think that we
should push our students towards topic knowledge over theory.
Disclaimer part 2. I agree that knowledge about logic, advocacy, language, etc.
is important and I am not suggessting that coaches ignore the theory of debate.
We would be doing a disservice to our debaters if we as coaches didn't teach
and encourage our debaters to engage in debates about these issues.
OK, now my argument. We should encourage our students to debate the topic.
Presumably, we select a topic because we think it contains important, timely,
educational material for debate. Caveat - even if we don't pick topics that
do this that just means we need to do a better job selecting topics i.e. "bad
topics" isn't an answer to my argument. Assuming we do pick good topics (big
assumption, maybe although I think most recent topics have been ok) then we
should debate the issues involved in that topic.
1) Overuse - use of theory in debate tends to be overdone. I think this happens
for two reasons. First, it is easy. Chop up a few whole rez articles, get a few
good definitions, add to the mix a couple of language postitions and you are
ready to go. No need to do more research your negative work is done. Although
generic DA's maybe subject to a similar claim I think the difference is the
need for topic specific links. A good Russia DA is useful in many debates on
the military intervention topic but when the affirmative changes the links have
to change. This requires additional research. As new cases are broken good teams
try to find new links. Whole rez doesn't need to change.
Second reason theory gets overdone is time constraints. Small changes
in the plan or case can change the substantive debate significantly. But the t
theory debate would be the same. Although there is merit in theory debate
since it never gets beyond the third level i.e. the 2NR. This results in
the theory debate being virtually the same over and over.
2) Variety of knowledge - the basis of many theory arguments stays the same.
A student could run many theory arguments every semester they debate. If we
make our students research the topic in each of the eight semesters they debate
then the possibility exists for them to get in-depth knowledge in eight
different areas as oppossed to one (theory).
Finally a suggestion. Topic specific theory. I think it is possible to merge
the best of both worlds by having students investigate the theory debate
possibly based on the resolutional construct. For example, if the topic is
one that introduces several theoretical issues than by all means lets get
our debaters to research and debate those issues. But lets guide them away
from the generic whole rez block.
2AC #7 extend the evidence, group the answers...
Archive created by Jonathan Stanton (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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