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Re: Why vote on a Critique - answering jim
I thought listserve activity would die down once we had a topic. How happy I
am to be wrong.
First, defining the term "counterfactual" once more for bear.
* not true,
* not presently actual,
* 'TAINT SO.
Jim Hanson, my old nemesis, is challenging the a priori nature of critiques.
Note that it makes a difference whether we are talking about kritiks as
characterized by Bear and others or about critiques as characterized by Murphy
and myself. I'll talk here about the latter.
>With a kritik--what exactly has the affirmative done that is so
>bad that they should lose?
That depends on the content of the argument. The best way to explain it is
using the 'fabricated evidence' example. Aff loses even if their non-fabbed
ev proves the resolution, because they have violated a principle that
supercedes our need to answer the resolutional question. They violated an
assumption of honesty that the whole debate rests on. Now, to move to other
critiques you only need to ask is "are there other things like that which one
side could do which would similarly violate a principle which would supersede
our need to answer the resolutional question?" What if one side used racial
epithets? What if the discussion itself, the resolution's framework,
ingrained and perpetuated a sexist assumption? If so, and if the claim were
made in the round it would be a critique. Aff wouldn't lose just because the
critique were made. They would lose if they failed to "do the better job of
debating" when the critique was discussed in the round.
As advocates, we will naturally disagree about which of these arguments we
like, which could or could not be proven in the context of a given resolution
or given debate. As judges we should be willing to listen to the reasoning of
the debaters. I am advocating the legitimacy of an argument form - not the
legitimacy of all arguments which would conceivable fall into that form -
I.e." 'disadvantages' are good, but that disadvantage sucks." We can separate
a discussion of the form from a discussion of the merits of any given
>why does the kritik suddenly get a priori attention over a
>comparison of the advantages and the disadvantages?
Because arguments are naturally sequential. If I say "you shouldn't drive,
but if you do you should wear your seatbelt" there is a natural argumentative
sequence to those thoughts which is independent of their order of
presentation. We would first consider if you should drive. If and only if we
thought you should, then we would look at whether you should use your safety
belt. Similarly if we have arguments which question the value of the
discussion, and arguments which constitute the discussion, the natural
argumentative sequence is to first decide A. is the discussion worth having,
then (if and only if we think yes), B. how is the discussion resolved. Take a
resolutional framework argument. Negative rejects the framework of discussion
engendered by the resolution. Affirmative has advantages which operate within
that resolutional framework (that is why we know to call them "advantages").
A consideration of the worth of the framework precedes an entry into that
framework. We would want to know that it is a question worth resolving before
we troubled to resolve it. Its a priori nature is not capricious. It is a
natural outgrowth of what the critique questions.
>I say use kritiks, if at all, as a means for evaluating the
>worth of an advantage or disadvantage--or for how to weigh the
>advantages versus disadvantages.
How? What do you mean? The example that follows seems to be making the
OPPOSITE point - indicating the irrelevance of comparing the advantage to the
>so, because of this I'm supposed to continue to allow violent
>criminals out who kill thousands
I think the problem is that we are still looking at critiques through a
resolutional lens - i.e., we see them as arguments against the affirmative's
proposal - rather than arguments against affirmation, period, within a given
resolutional or situational framework. Jim says,
>The law will continue to be patriarchal whether I vote for the
>proposal or not.
Sure, but the argument behind the critique is that we, as people and students
and decision-makers, should not participate in a patriarchal framework. THAT
can be changed. If we reject the resolution's focus and instead address the
framework issue then we are changing what is immediately influencing us in
>Or does the term kritik imply I am to suddenly transform the
>decision into "the legal system is a system people should use as
>a means for change."
A critique could have that implication, though it need not be "sudden." It
could be accompanied by arguments - reasons and evidence.
>If this is the case, is not a kritik just a "justification"
>argument (translation--an argument that should be a
Yes, it could be a justification argument (even as defined in this very broad-
minded sense). A justification argument at its very root is a claim that the
resolution cannot be affirmed because some level of it hasn't been or couldn't
be justified. We could say that if the resolution, as affirmed, includes a
focus on law as a mechanism, then the affirmative should be required to
justify that component or they shouldn't win. That wouldn't be a critique
because its function is to deny the resolution - not to supersede it with some
other concern. If, on the other hand, the resolutional framework itself
forced the yoke of legal discourse on both sides, forced us into an oppressive
decision-making mode, then perhaps the resolution itself should be dismissed.
That would be a critique.
>If this is not a fair example of kritik, then what should a team
>use a kritik for?
>why can't the affirmative kritik the negative?
No reason why not. Tom and I argue that it cuts both ways.
>why can't the affirmative argue that the kritik itself places a
>theoretical obstacle as a way to stop change that will save
I just hate throwing around words like "can't" when talking about what
debaters can do in rounds. Of course affirmative CAN do this, and if the
reasons are good then they can win it. However, take note of the fact that
the team offering the critique is indicting a real effect -- an effect that,
if the argument and the evidence is true, is having an impact on the
participants - right here right now. It is non-sequitur to compare that
effect to the imagined effect which occurs only when aff passes their plan
with the help of fiat.
>This is what I would call a "social reactionary/obstacle"
>kritik. Why not attack the pessimism implied in negating the
>resolution or the affirmative case? Why not attack the lack of
>a position on the negative's part (assuming there is no
>counterplan or equivalent to go along with the kritik) and argue
>that their argumentation is nihilistic?
Hey, I think you've got something there: Lets let the debaters debate it out.
If a team offering a critique can't respond with better arguments to these
(question-begging & name-calling) claims, then they should lose. Tom and I
didn't title our article "why critiques should always win." We just want to
legitimate an argument form - once legitimated it awaits more pragmatic tests
within the context of a round.
>yes Ken, I would not want a novice to spend 60 seconds (or even
>1 second) arguing the theoretical goo that ensues upon a
What you are calling "goo" (a fine terministic screen) is really the result of
a somewhat newer and somewhat more ambiguous argument category. I'm sure that
it also ensued when you first tried to explain inherency. Remember? It is
all goo until we understand it and start to use it.
We are all students of argument - and when we get our hands on a new idea, we
are going to distort the hell out of it. But we are all teachers as well. As
teachers should we run from these confusions, or should we see them as the
birth pangs of new ideas, and try to do our best to promote clarity?
Archive created by Jonathan Stanton (email@example.com)
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