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Re: Theory Sources, Answering Roskoski
Matt Roskoski made some interesting arguments in repsponse to an earlier
posting I made on theory evidence and sources. While I agree with many of
his comments, others deserve further comment. I think Matt may have read a
lot into a few sentences.
>"Murphy uses words like "smart" and "superior intellect." These terms
>describe native intelligence - i.e. the capacity for reasoning. People are
>born with that, they don't learn it.
This is untrue, of course. People learn to reason just as they learn to read
>Then, Murphy divides
>people up into scholars like Ken & Arnie, graduate assistants, 1st year
>& first year debaters. These terms describe experience and education - i.e.
>accumulated knowledge (at best, age at worst). These things you learn,
>not born with them. And, of course, it's also true that some people in the
>community have more of that than others.
>The two don't correlate, however. Educated people can be very stupid and
>often are. I've taken classes both at KU and at Florida State from
>Ph.D. bearing tenured professors who couldn't understand ideas I was trying
While I may equivocate education and intelligence, I suggest that the
correlation of those is perhaps stronger than the hasty generalization above.
I would further suggest that, in the debate world, there is some
relationship between level of education and level of intelligence. Of
course, I exclude social skills...
>If it was not, then
>he has claimed that some people in debate are smarter than others, and you
>know who's smart and who's not by what diplomas they have hanging on their
>wall. That is incorrect and offensive. I, as a graduate assistant, of
>resent being labeled an intellectual inferior by Mr. Murphy. I am not and
>will not countenance being labeled as such.
Are you sugesting that everyone is equally smart? Was that not the crux of
my initial position ("You are as smart as they are."). I certainly did not
mean to imply that diplomas ALONE were an indication of intelligence. Broda
Bahm and Madsen have a number of respected publications and convention papers
to list along with their Ph.D. Those who offend me are those, having the
forums available, do nothing to indicate to our public a level of achievement
beyond a degree (which, I agree, often means little). While those without
experience could certainly exhibit an equal amount of native intelligence,
unused potential is just that. Individuals should hardly be rewarded for
>Initially, debate as a process and debate as an organization should treat
>everyone as equals. Consider - that's in our rhetoric. We describe CEDA as
>egalitarian organization that give's everyone a fair shake. Furthermore,
>necessary for fair debates - seniors would otherwise always beat freshmen
>they would be presumed intellectually superior. Common logic confirms this
>belief. We learn in argumentation class that appeal to authority is a
>and that a bad idea doesn't become a good one just because someone with a
>certificate said it. Also, a good idea doesn't become a bad one just
>the author lacks some social recognition.
I agree completely (and this was certainly not part of my original position),
but there's an subtle dichotomy here. Why are sources needed for non-theory
arguments (needed? they're absolutely necessary) and we blindy accept them
as appeals to authority, but the same is not true of theory argument?
Credibility is certainly part of argument and should be part of argument
regardless of the argument field.
>Finally, I should point out that "smart" people already get recognition
>for their intellectual achievements. For example, theory authors have been
>published - if they weren't, there wouldn't be theory ev. We can and should
>laud them outside of debates. They are not so insecure as to require pats
>the back in debates as well. Praise their accomplishments at home, at
>conventions, even between rounds. IN ROUNDS, compare their ideas to the
>being presented in response, and vote for the superior ideas. To do
>but is to betray the principles upon which debate rests.
I completely agree with the second half of this paragraph. Ideas must always
be tested. Good ideas (like resolutional focus) refuse to die regardless of
the source. I disagree with your analysis on recognition. Having published
(as of next year) close to ten refereed journal articles, I can tell you that
it does hurt to have your ideas dismissed simply because of the name attached
to an article, and to have people act as if it is really easy to get articles
published. I would attach here the addage, "put your money where your mouth
is" (not directed at Matt, but at the community as a whole). One credibility
problem with intercollegiate debate is the perception of the speech comm
field about our journals. I suspect that dissing those who undertake the
effort to publish doesn't help. So many of us hear the negative comments
much more than the praise.
>I reject Mr. Murphy's call. I would reject a call to tell debaters
>"You're not good enough to question this argument. Shut up and listen."
>is the implication of Mr. Murphy's claim. I hope that's not what he
>but that is the logical consequence of a regime that declares participants
>be intellectually unequal and repudiates the right of participants to claim
>equality with the authors of theory evidence.
I think here you have hit at the heart of the problem. While you spent a lot
of time discussing how ideas must be tested (and, certainly, don't belong to
any person) and anyone can test them, you conclude with the "right" of
participants to be "equal" with authors? No, they are NOT equal with the
authors. Not any more than a 1st year law student is equal with Antonin
Scalia (when I say "equal" I am referring to a multifacted conception of
equality). And while they both may argue the same ideas, it IS with
different intellectual and educational backgrounds. Is this a judgment made
by Scalia (to elevate himself)? Heck, no. It's a judgment made by the legal
The last thing I want is for a first year debater to walk into a round
knowing they are as smart as or as experienced as Ken Broda Bahm or Arnie
Madsen. It means that all of their efforts and achievements are meaningless.
I would want a debater to walk into a round thinking they were as smart and
willing to test the ideas rather than the persons.
Food for thought.
Archive created by Jonathan Stanton (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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