Give Them 'L'
In part 1 I discussed the claim, warrant, impact (CWI) model of argumentation and explained when one uses this model one is in fact, employing the three modes of persuasion enumerated by Aristotle. I equated the claim to ethos because the claim must be credible, the warrant to logos because there must be good grounds to believe the claim and the impact to pathos because the impacts evoke emotional responses in the listener. But I expand the model to include 'L' which is to say there must be links and links are the statements which connect the warrants to the claim and the impacts to the claim. Thus the model is illustrated:
WARRANT -> CLAIM <- IMPACTS
Each of the arrows (-> and <-) represent links and the links are the connecting statements.
Now, it may not be obvious to you because you may be the kind of speaker who naturally makes well connected arguments, or so you think. Links are important because they fill in missing information which describes how the CWI components are related. Without good links, the argument may require the judge to make up links or simply make leaps of faith in order to rationalize the claim and you do not want the judge making stuff up.
Some examples of connecting statements:
Consider the following argument -
"The US should push Israel to dismantle settlements on the west bank of the Jordan river and Gaza. According to Al-Jazeera, many Palestinians view the settlements as an obstacle to peace."
Now consider how much clearer the argument is when a connecting statement is included:
"The US should push Israel to dismantle settlements on the west bank of the Jordan river and Gaza. Jewish settlements on the west bank and Gaza encroach upon lands viewed as traditional Palestinian homelands. According to Al-Jazeera, many of Palestinians view the settlements as an obstacle to peace."
Here is another example:
A nuclear North Korea is not a serious threat to the United States. The threat of nuclear annihilation deterred the Soviet Union which was much more powerful than North Korea.
And with a connecting statement:
A nuclear North Korea is not a serious threat to the United States. Any nuclear attack on the US from North Korea would be met with an overwhelming retaliatory strike. The threat of nuclear annihilation deterred the Soviet Union which was much more powerful the North Korea.
ALWAYS REMEMBER your cases must make a claim (or claims) presumed to be true. The claim(s) are supported by warrants and data which prove the claim. The claim should (but are not always) be augmented by impact statements which explain why it is important to support the claim. If you miss any of the parts, your claim can be defeated.
ALSO REMEMBER the warrants and the impacts must link to the claim. This means there must be some idea either expressed or implied which connects the warrants and impacts to the claim. This may seem trivial but remember it is all part of how to convey your message persuasively to a "blank slate" judge.
Recall that an impact is a reason to support the claim. It essentially says, by supporting the claim something bad results; there is a disadvantage. Or, by supporting the claim something good results; there is an advantage. In simplistic terms it can be related to cause and effect. There is a cause (support of the claim or passage of a plan) which results in some effect (the impact; either an advantage or disadvantage). The impact link, then, is the connection between the cause and effect. As such, it is proof an impact is indeed caused by what is claimed. Certainly if a debater claimed a certain course of action would result in a negative effect and the opponent proves it does not have the negative effect, the opponent can claim there is no link to the negative effect.
For example, a debater could claim that increasing taxes will lead to nuclear war. A judge is naturally inclined to ask himself, how nuclear war is linked to increasing taxes and could either completely dismiss the claim or attempt to assemble his own link which may not be the one the debater intended. Therefore, by providing the link or series of internal links which connect the cause and effect, the debater clarifies his case. In the example given, she could say, increasing taxes results in economic collapse and economic collapse leads to war between super-powers and super-power war escalates to nuclear war. So in this example, increased taxes causing economic collapse and economic collapse causing war and war leading to nuclear war are all internal links which shows how increasing taxes results in nuclear war.
Links are claims (or we could say, sub-claims) which connect the cause and effect and as claims, they must be provable and unique. We have already discussed how to prove claims, so what is uniqueness? Uniqueness means in the status quo, there are no other causes for the claimed effect. For example, the opponent could argue that economic collapse has already occurred without an increase in taxes and did not result in war, so the idea that increasing taxes leads to economic collapse is non-unique. Another way an opponent can challenge the cause-effect relationship is by arguing the impact will not happen. For example, he could argue that economic collapse would destroy the ability to conduct a war. I will discuss more about breaking the links in part 3 of this series.
Get This: Links Are Claims
Let that sink in. If you make the assertion that some impact will result from support of a claim or cause, the unique link is a claim which must be able to stand on its own, which means it must be true and thus must be backed up by sufficient evidence or common knowledge. As we have seen above, in making the links between raising taxes and nuclear war, the very first link claims economic collapse will result. You need to be able to prove that or you will never make it off first base, and so-on with all of your links.
Up until now, we have discussed links for cause-effect claims. These are the links between the claims and impacts when we recall the WARRANT -> CLAIM <- IMPACT structure of argumentation. These are most commonly exploited in policy debate and very often become key elements of the negative side's strategy. But certainly any format of debate can take advantage of knowledge about how links connect the claims and impacts and exploit weaknesses in the links.
There is another kind of link, however, that also bears notice. These are the links which connect claims to their proof. A good warrant provides the link between the claim and the data or evidence used to support it but very often the link is not explicit and so it is often ignored or overlooked. The link in the warrant will provide the relevancy between the claim and its support. The characteristic of this kind of link is the fact it is a general rule that applies to several specific applications. To clarify this even more, remember the discussion we had regarding syllogistic logic (review here). In Peirce's terminology, the major premise is the rule and the minor premise, the specific case. Seeing the warrant-claim link as a general rule, the connection should be clear. The link is the major premise.
Example : Debaters are mortal (claim)
Specific case : Debaters are human (warrant)
Rule : Humans are mortal (warrant link)
Warrants Must Be Logically Sound
In syllogistic logic and debate (click here for a review) the major premise is a link connecting specific case evidence to a claim. Every premise must be true or the conclusion can not be true so debaters must choose these links carefully and learn to identify the links in opponent's speeches to test them for validity. When the connection fails, the claim fails.
Here are three ways in which to break a link/warrant/premise and so by recognizing these it is possible to understand how to make your own cases better:
It may be wrong or untrue.
It may be an assumption.
It may be hidden.
In the first way, any premise which is wrong is exposed by contrary evidence. Often a debater will build a premise on out-dated or superseded evidence. Quite often, things which were considered true at one time may no longer be true and so it is very important to stay current and thorough with your research so such problems can be exploited.
Ex. If the US economy collapses, a revolt will occur because when nations economically fail, it usually results in a revolution. (The claim, US economic collapse = revolt is based on the premise (warrant) that nations with failed economies experience revolts - but this is untrue. The US economy collapsed during the Great Depression of the 1930s but there was no revolution and so the premise is "empirically denied".)
In the second way, many times conclusions are reached on the basis of assumptions or hypothetical statements. These premises may or may not be true but because it is ambiguous it can not be used as a premise (or link).
Ex. When people become desperate for resources they will go to war. Current U.S. trade policies are provoking China into war. (It is a hypothetical statement that desperate people resort to war it is not conclusive that US trade policies will provoke war.)
The third type of problematic premises are sometimes the toughest to identify because premises are not always stated. This happens when the debater is either ignorant of his own premises or is trying to be intellectually dishonest in order to gain some advantage. This becomes very apparent when an argument appears unresolvable. It may be because conclusions are based on an implicit premise.
Ex. During WWII the US used atomic weapons to avoid the loss of American lives sure to occur from invading the Japanese homeland, therefore it is logical to say that if the U.S. considers high loss of life probable, the US will resort to nukes. (This is a subtle example of hidden link. The evidence of the US atomic attack on Japan is specific making it a minor premise and so there is no explicit major premise. The unstated major premise may be "nations use nukes to avoid high casualties", but we don't know for sure so it can not be claimed the conclusion is true or logical.)
In part 3 I will discuss how to break links which has the effect of disconnecting the claims from its warrants and impacts. Knowing this, helps you understand how to write better cases.
For more information about general debate principles, follow the links here.
Policy debaters can explore the concepts in more depth by reading about uniqueness in disadvantages (click here).