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Re: Theory Sources
- To: email@example.com (Issues concerning CEDA debate)
- Subject: Re: Theory Sources
- From: "JEREMY B. ROSEN" <JR2337@STUDENT.LAW.DUKE.EDU>
- Date: Mon, 20 Jun 1994 12:08:07 -0400
- Organization: Duke Law Student Research Network
- Priority: normal
I think that the debate between Bahm,Murphy and Roskoski has been
extremely interesting. However, I believe that much of what is being
discussed misses the true problem. I believe that the major proplem
is that debaters do not know how to argue theory very well.
Consequently most debates on theory come down to a mindless blither
between limits and reasonability and breadth vs. depth, etc.. Those
who like theory, such as Bahm and Murphy, should be, and I am sure
are, horrified at these types of debates. Those who do not enjoy
theory, such as Matt, no doubt have been influenced in their
decisions based upon the actual debates that they have seen. In
fact, perhaps the best, most developed, and best argued Topicality
debate I have seen occured last year when judging some of Matt's
teams. Thus, I believe that the focus of this discussion needs to
deal with more practical issues: Namely, how do we improve the
quality of theory debate in CEDA today. Once that has been
accomplished, there may be a need to engage in a more theoretical
debate about the benefits of theory. If Ken and Tom are succesful in
their goal of persuading those onthe list to their side, nothing
really has been accomplished because theroy debates will still be
I do not believe that I have the answers on how to go about this
project. I certainly am not very qualified to discuss theoretical
issues. Even though I was a relatively succesful debater, I know
that I was god-awful when it came to theory arguments. Thus, I
believe that there is a good argument to be made that people who have
thought about theory a great deal, and are published, can speak more
authoritatively on theory than I can. This does not mean, that we
should defer to Bahm and Murphy merely because they have written
articles. However, there should be some presumption that they have
more knowledge on the subject than I do. However, their knowledge
will not help improve the quality of theoretical debates accross the
Thus, I propose a new thread of this discussion. How can we
improve the quality of theory debates in CEDA? If this can be
accomplished, then this argument that has been going on will have
some real value. If this does not occur, then this has been a
pointless discussion up until now.
And now, I have a few thoughts on the ongoing debate. It seems
to me, that both sides seem to be missing critical parts of the
otherside's arguments. For instance, Matt has no answer to the
question of theory ev. from sources other than debate coaches. While
it may be true that we shouldn't put others in the debate community
ahead of us, this does not logically follow to mean that we should
not place some great phiosopher or argument theorist ahead of us.
The other question, is why should the reasons we use evidence to
support bombing Bosnia, not be applied to the reason why we should
debate the whole resolution? If citing experts in one is good, why
is it bad for the other?
On the other hand, merely because a debate coach is published
many times in refered journals, does not necesarily make that person
the absolute expert on debate or argumentation. Certainly, his
argument is probably more thought out than the average debater's.
However, good debaters should be able to analytically tear apart
evidence from a debate theorist, just as they might from an arms
I guess this puts me somewhere in the middle. I think that good
theory debates are highly valuable, but in the long run, I do believe
that more deucational benefit can come from learning about the topic,
especially when they are as broad as they have been.
My final point, is that I belive that this discussion proves that
there is no such thing as a pure tabula rasa critic. I know from
personal experience, that it is much easier to win a theoretical
argument in front of bahm and murphy than it is in front of roskoski.
All three of them try very hard to be objective and fair, but at
some point it becomes impossible to completely divorce yourself from
your decision. Thus, it is important for judges to be candid about
their biases. Instead of jumping on those who write in their
philosphy that they do not like theory, we should be happy that they
are not trying to hide their biases. The same line of attack could
be made against peopel who claim to like theory in their philosphies.
These judges are probably less likely to vote for arguments which
say that theory is not a good argument.
I am sorry if this is a bit rambly, but I just got out of
property class, and my mind is a mess.
Cornell Debate/Duke law
Archive created by Jonathan Stanton (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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