Sunday, July 29, 2012

Infrastructure - Review of Cases - Part 6

For other Policy Debate postings, including an analysis of the Infrastructure topic follow the links here.

National Infrastructure Bank
Gas Tax / Trust Fund

Case Reviews
Since camp cases are emerging, I have decided to scan through select case Affirmatives and deliver some summaries. While I will be looking at specific camp cases, I intend to summarize the general advocacy without reference to specific files. So, if several camps put out a high-speed rail case, for example, I will generally summarize the case plans, advantages, etc. without referencing a particular file. Now for sure, some of the reviews will be one particular file, if no other camp puts out a similar case.

This series will spread out over several postings as I find time to review the cases. In general, the posts will be short, the comments will be brief and they are strictly my opinions. If I say I do not like a case, it does not mean you should avoid looking at it, especially since sometimes the files are updated and improved.

The case files, I review will be taken from the National Debate Coaches Association, Open Evidence Project.

Infrastructure Bank
The National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank is exactly as the name implies, a bank for funding transportation infrastructure projects which, as Obama intends, are mainly targeted toward safety, security and competitiveness.
Several files were reviewed for this synopsis.

The bank is funded by a single injection of funds and then grows on investment returns. The federal investment stimulates and provides confidence for massive private sector investment and compliments state investments which provide the majority of funds for the infrastructure projects.

Project Grab-Bag
Since the case advocates a source of funds, any number of legitimate transportation infrastructure projects can be funded and the advantages and solvency of those projects claimed...well some cases think so.

The principle economic advantages are realized through growth, mainly in the area of jobs, and competitiveness which may be argued separately or interdependently in claiming growth increases competitiveness.  It is claimed these advantages avoid collapse and global wars.

Improved transportation system efficiency will link to positive environment advantages which avoid global warming impacts.

Improved transportation system efficiency will link to positive energy advantages which avoid oil dependency and promote alternative energy solutions.

The Good
As of this writing, the bank is not created so it has inherency.  The plan does specifically address the idea the plan must provide an investment and that is exactly what the Infrastructure Bank is intended to do.

The Bad
While the plan can be set up to specify all of the typical planks of a traditional policy debate case, one must realize this case does not specifically take a direct action which results in solvency for the advantages.  In my opinion, this leaves it open for claims it is effects topical and extra-topical.  The only problem this case solves directly is it provides a much needed source of investment dollars.

I am inclined to think this case (and ones like it) should be avoided by novices and probably everyone else who are not prepared to deal with strong T challenges.

Gas Tax / Trust Fund
Initially I was going to lump this case in with the Infrastructure Banks cases until I looked the plan text.  Then my interest was piqued.  This case advocates raising the federal Excise Tax on gasoline and banking the funds and creating a price floor for gas which stabilizes market uncertainties.

The price floor spurs the development of alternative and renewable energy solutions and the case raises the excise tax. This generates funds for transportation infrastructure.

Energy Policy
Whoa...a different tact altogether.   U.S. energy policy artificially deflates the price of energy which increases demand to the detriment of the economy, environment and our security interests. Additionally, the fuel efficiency standards set by the federal government further undermine national interests. This impacts diplomatic legitimacy, requiring the U.S. to make concessions which impact soft power.  A multilateral approach to dealing with threats, avoids conflict and triggers for war.  Additionally, rising federal mileage requirements will collapse the auto industry, killing jobs and the economic recovery leading to eventual conflicts. Increasing the gas tax is the mechanism to turn the current energy policy and avoids all of the harms just mentioned.

The US deficit is at critical mass and new revenue is needed to fix the problem. Failure to address this harms U.S.-China relations which takes us on the path toward extinction.

Renewable Energy
Current energy policy fosters uncertainty in the renewable energy sector. Pricing policies are the drivers of uncertainty which harms the renewable energy development effort which causes the U.S. to lose leadership. The plan will cause a shift to renewable energy development ensuring US dominance solving the slide to nuclear conflict.

The Good
Outstanding cards, especially in the first advantage.  The file is big and provides great coverage for potential 2AC and beyond extensions and answers to expected Neg arguments.

The Bad
The solvency link to the second advantage is implied.  A good card or two needs to be cut because, the spending for transportation infrastructure is a small percentage of the GDP and the advantage claims solvency through revenues.  Perhaps the solvency needs to come from spillover. I think the case is long.  There is a lot of evidence to read so it is suitable to advanced teams.

This case is amazing.  I really like it a lot.  There is a lot of good work and well thought out arguments in this case.  Unlike the Infrastructure Banks, this case provides direct solvency for its advantages and some of the cards are excellent. The arguments require a really good understanding of the evidence and concepts so take care you do the background work for this case.  Novices are going to need to do some cutting and that needs to be done very carefully so as not to hurt the legitimacy of the premises.

Infrastructure - Review of Cases - Part 5

For other Policy Debate postings, including an analysis of the Infrastructure topic follow the links here.

Freight Rail Infrastructure
High Speed Rail

Case Reviews
Since camp cases are emerging, I have decided to scan through select case Affirmatives and deliver some summaries. While I will be looking at specific camp cases, I intend to summarize the general advocacy without reference to specific files. So, if several camps put out a high-speed rail case, for example, I will generally summarize the case plans, advantages, etc. without referencing a particular file. Now for sure, some of the reviews will be one particular file, if no other camp puts out a similar case.

This series will spread out over several postings as I find time to review the cases. In general, the posts will be short, the comments will be brief and they are strictly my opinions. If I say I do not like a case, it does not mean you should avoid looking at it, especially since sometimes the files are updated and improved.

The case files, I review will be taken from the National Debate Coaches Association, Open Evidence Project.

Freight Rail (Multimodal) Upgrade
The freight rail system is in serious need of upgrade as demand is outpacing capacity.

Only the fed can spark the needed work with a massive investment.  Once that happens, everyone jumps on the band wagon, emphasis will shift from trucks to trains and the carbon dioxide levels start to drop.

The economy needs a shot in the arm and investing in transportation infrastructure is a way to boost the economy. In particular if the freight rail logjam is cleared, goods will flow to market quicker.  Adding freight rail jobs has a spillover effect in the overall job market.  A slow market, recession economy, will, according to ... yep, Kahlilzad, leads to global wars.

Global Warming
Since global warming is anthropogenic (just accept it so we can move on in this debate), unless freight rail is upgraded, there will be more reliance on vehicular traffic to move the goods and that means more greenhouse gases. Rail pollutes less. By the way, I don't need to enumerate what the impacts of warming are because no doubt every policy debater since Al Gore was VP has heard the claims.

Coming off the econ advantage is an internal link to a possible terrorism advantage.  The evidence in the case suggest a sort of repression of terror and conflicts as a result of U.S. leadership/heg.

Alt Fuels (Ethanol)
Freight rail could potentially stimulate the ethanol fuel industry as the principle means to move the commodity across the nation.  A strong ethanol based energy system has multiple impacts on energy, economy and environment.

Coal is another alternate fuel that is moved by rail and has benefits to the economy, and energy sectors.

The Good
The case is good, evidence is good, claims are valid, especially the amount of emissions with respect to tons shipped.  The file provides good depth extending into to 2AC and beyond.

The Bad
There is not a lot bad with this case.  I think it could be improved by perhaps expanding the intermodal advantages.  The terrorism/heg internal link should be strengthened and run as an advantage, otherwise it seems like an, oh, by the way... claim which is not taken seriously enough.  There is little on the safety aspects of rail freight and that needs covered.  Rails are vulnerable to sabotage and derailments can be environmentally devastating to regions.

While it may argued that for every 'x' rail jobs added, 'x' times 'y' additional jobs are added in the general economy.  It may be true but I advise caution. In fact, upgrades to intermodal systems focus on high levels of automation which ultimately reduce transportation jobs.  Nevertheless, I think there should be no problem showing a net benefit to the economy and jobs in particular.

I really like this idea and think it has good potential for teams of all levels of experience.

High Speed Rail
I reviewed several HSR Affirmatives and they all have pretty much the same basic advantages.  Plan texts do vary and a proper plan text can be critical.
The basic idea of the plan is build HSR in metropolitan regions to alleviate the transportation gridlock that exists in such regions.  One of the files, introduces the concept of megaregions which I think is absolutely essential to support the pressing need in the SQ. But, I do have a caution about the megaregion concept as argued in one of the cases I reviewed which I will discuss in the summary of this analysis.

HSR will require Public Private Partnerships (PPP). Federal investment is key to inspiring investor confidence in the private sector.

HSR is an enormous project which directly and indirectly spurs job creation and generally stimulates the economy according to the evidence presented in the cases.  The usual impact of economic collapse and global war is avoided.

HSR relieves congestion and provides an emissions and fuel efficient way to transport masses of commuters.  If we don't stop emissions you already know polar bears will go extinct and that means no more National Geographic specials featuring cute polar bear cubs.

Links are important for this advantage so beware.  The basic idea is, HSR contributes generally to increased U.S. competitiveness which translates to leadership which translate to hegemony which potentially reduces terror and global conflicts.

HSR means more efficiency by reducing the fuel consumption per passenger mile.  This reduces our dependency on fossil fuels which are already expected to disappear soon and then watch the wars break out everywhere.

The Good
In general the evidence is good, links are adequate, and some extensions and answers are available.

The Bad
I would caution about using any of these cases as seen in the files I reviewed.  They are incomplete and don't go far enough in answering some the questions Neg is likely going to ask.  While I think this Aff can easily stand up to topicality, the evidence in the files I reviewed do not address it very well. I have the same criticism for states and private actor counter-plans.

These cases need more development and I think one possible way to do that is through the concept of megaregions.  Megaregions are a fact of life in the SQ and the problems they have will only get worse in the near future.  Megaregions also span state boundaries which very clearly puts them into the realm of federal management under provisions of the Commerce Clause.  Affs do not want to get into advocating megaregions as a kind of model for the future economy.  It will be hard enough running the HSR advocacy without adding the megaregion burden to the case.  Nevertheless, I think the idea is not only reality, but essential to justification for HSR.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Infrastructure - Review of Cases - Part 4

For other Policy Debate postings, including an analysis of the Infrastructure topic follow the links here.

Airport Improvement Program
Electric Vehicle Infrastructure

Case Reviews
Since camp cases are emerging, I have decided to scan through select case Affirmatives and deliver some summaries. While I will be looking at specific camp cases, I intend to summarize the general advocacy without reference to specific files. So, if several camps put out a high-speed rail case, for example, I will generally summarize the case plans, advantages, etc. without referencing a particular file. Now for sure, some of the reviews will be one particular file, if no other camp puts out a similar case.

This series will spread out over several postings as I find time to review the cases. In general, the posts will be short, the comments will be brief and they are strictly my opinions. If I say I do not like a case, it does not mean you should avoid looking at it, especially since sometimes the files are updated and improved.

The case files, I review will be taken from the National Debate Coaches Association, Open Evidence Project.

Airport Improvement Program (AIP)
The AIP is a block of funding grants available for a wide range of improvement projects as long as they meet a nebulous set of National objectives which give top priority to noise abatement and military projects.  Because there is such a wide range of projects that may qualify, the Aff is potentially a shell for any kind of project a team hopes to advocate.

At the time I reviewed the case files, NDCA had filed two AIP cases.  One was a shell which I review below and the other was a specific case.  Both used some of the same cards.  The specific case identified a few other advantages, the shell did not.  Those interested can look at the specific case to see how to use the shell to create a specific case.  I am not a fan of the political advantage claimed by the case however, since it may only be valid until the election and in my opinion, it's links are opinion or speculative at best.

Increased capacity enables reduced delays with a net benefit to the economy. Airports are a source of jobs and revenues. As you might expect if you are a policy debater, upholding the economy avoids a worldwide collapse and resulting conflicts and increased risk of terror attacks.

Improved security reduces the risk of terrorists using general aviation aircraft and facilities to carry out their nefarious deeds. This scenario generates bio and nuclear terror potentials. Guess what terrorism leads to...yup nuclear war.

If airports succeed in reducing their carbon footprints then global warming is slowed, environmental damage mitigated and the biosphere thanks you for preserving the earth. Otherwise, environmental damage leads to famine which leads to yet another nuke war scenario.

Various Solvency/Advantage Add-ons
Bomb Detection
Improved screening for baggage bombs. The advantage links for this should be obvious.

NextGen is the satellite based aircraft navigation system and is a case by itself. AIP provides the infrastructure improvements required to support NextGen which requires substantial upgrades to airports and aircraft. Therefore AIP links to NextGen's copious advantages.

Military Airport Program (MAP)
This program is an AIP pre-approved grant so, if AIP gets funding, the advantage or perhaps, better, solvency for capacity and congestion problems, is a no-brainer.  MAP does not increase militarization or security. It merely converts idled military air-bases into commercial and private airports.

The Good
I like the idea and think it makes a good shell for a variety of specific cases which can fall under AIP in general.  Topically and states CP challenges should be non-starters since airport management has long been a USFG responsibility.  The files has good extensions, and background cards with help in understanding how the funding can be achieved.

The Bad
The case file I looked at is a shell, but a pretty good start.  This needs work so don't expect to just start reading the cards and expect to have a case.  The links could be a little better. Certainly, the environmental advantage is a stretch in my opinion.

Good shell. I would recommend it as a basis for creating a pretty good case. Definitely a good start for a novice team if a coach or varsity teammate helps them develop it.

Electric Vehicle Support
Provides investment in infrastructure for electric vehicle charging stations.

Increase in EV infrastructure means more vehicles which means lower prices for EVs and batteries so then this feeding frenzy sort of begins and consumers get excited and the industry skyrockets.
PPPs (Public Private Partnerships) can provide the mechanism for funding.

Clean energy industry is stimulated by targeting electric vehicle infrastructure.
Auto industry is stimulated as the sales of electric vehicles increase.
Either of the above advantages are linked to a declining economy in the SQ which is on the brink of collapse with expected nuclear war impact.  By stimulating one or the other industries, clean energy or automobile, the flagging economy harm is solved and nuke annihilation averted.

Heg is supported by the competitive auto industry which we helped out by investing in charging stations.  When heg is strong, the military-industrial complex thrives. Strong heg also allows the case to claim the electric vehicle industry is helped because the military uses the technologies which spin out of that industry.  Of course we all know what happens if heg is weak or collapses.

Electric Grid
The power grid is vulnerable to nuclear attack which would be devastating if we had no way to charge our iPads.  The claim is made that investment in EV infrastructure stimulates the powers that be to build up and harden the grid. Well, maybe build up but hardening is only suggested by the tag on the card.

Dwindling Oil
We are rapidly running out of oil and when that happens all manner of stuff will hit the fan.  EVs are the key to ending our dependency on oil.

Climate Change
You can no doubt see the connection between electric vehicles and mitigating climate change.  Electric cars reduce harmful emissions and since all global warming is anthropogenic, problem solved.

The Good
I see the case as topical and certainly the inherency is valid.

The Bad
Is there any reason at all this infrastructure can not fall under state initiatives?  The inherency evidence claims that most of the EV charging facilities are in California which strongly suggests the State of California spurred the development locally rather than some federal push to build the infrastructure.

The link to the Heg advantage is non-existent.  I mean, if Heg is strong it benefits industry and a strong industry benefits Heg is very circular.  Heg is pretty strong right now, and that alone has not been a particular stimulus to the EV industry, otherwise this case would not even be inherent.  Also, the electric grid advantage is overstated.  The nuclear vulnerability is not even remotely solved in the evidence provided.  The case wants us to assume that, hey since we're upgrading, why not harden against nuclear attack? That shouldn't add too much to the upgrade cost.

Even though people may support the idea of stimulating the EV industry, this case is going to be met with all kinds of good Neg challenges. Most significantly, other than funding, there are no real inherent barriers to normal market forces building up the EV industry.  Besides the fact the need for USFG action is unclear, many of the advantages are not linked in a consistent way.  You may want to consider a different case altogether.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Infrastructure - Review of Cases - Part 3

For other Policy Debate postings, including an analysis of the Infrastructure topic follow the links here.

Army Corps Waterways
Mobility Disability

Case Reviews
Since camp cases are emerging, I have decided to scan through select case Affirmatives and deliver some summaries. While I will be looking at specific camp cases, I intend to summarize the general advocacy without reference to specific files. So, if several camps put out a high-speed rail case, for example, I will generally summarize the case plans, advantages, etc. without referencing a particular file. Now for sure, some of the reviews will be one particular file, if no other camp puts out a similar case.

This series will spread out over several postings as I find time to review the cases. In general, the posts will be short, the comments will be brief and they are strictly my opinions. If I say I do not like a case, it does not mean you should avoid looking at it, especially since sometimes the files are updated and improved.

The case files, I review will be taken from the National Debate Coaches Association, Open Evidence Project.

Army Corps Aff
Save the waterways based on the fact that lock systems are failing at an alarming rate. The claim is made that by 2020, some 80% of the locks will have failed.  Interestingly, the case file I looked at offered numerous funding alternatives and if nothing else it is very useful to understand how the funding scenarios work to fund infrastructure projects which are not always directly allocated by an act of Congress, which is considered "normal means" in many cases.

Eroding waterways harms economic competitiveness and rebuilding the waterways is key to solvency.  A principle part of the solvency rests in the concept of FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) built upon an export-based economy. Interestingly, the case evidence advocates a sort of "golden arches" theory of International Relations which could link to a laundry list of advantage scenarios, though the file I saw does not expand it.

Rebuilding the waterways will create jobs both directly and a spillover from regional economic development.

Rebuilding the waterways is key to agricultural competitiveness where increases translate to a return on the investment. Amazingly, the file i examined links the growth in Ag competitiveness to avoidance of heg collapse in a Khalilzad '11 card.  The Ag increase also solves rising food prices which is, as one would expect, internally linked to global economic collapse and when that happens, all kinds of bad scenarios emerge among rogue states.

The Good
This case is really quite good and packed with good cards and information which goes well beyond the 1AC. There are nearly 200 pages in the file I examined so its big but the research seems pretty comprehensive.

The Bad
Perhaps it is not terrible, but there is no table of contents so there is going to be lot of time invested in sorting through this file and organizing it.  For some reason, there are no identified advantages and this case could be stronger if advantages are added.

The idea of FDI is not really explained well in the evidence.  I assume the foreign direct investments are happening on both sides of the ocean because it is never really clear which way that money is flowing, although the export economy depends on U.S. goods flowing out.  While an export economy would be great for many businesses, it is not necessarily driven by any of the plan actions and that is a flaw in my opinion since more often than not, an export economy emerges when the dollar is weakest in foreign markets.  The economics of this case can be disputed because of the assumptions which are made in the solvency framework.

A smart case overall.  It could be strengthen by adding advantages.  The drivers of the export economy and the economics of such an economy overall are a concern and may invite some pretty strong econ disads.

Mobility Disability
A criticism of investment decisions which demonstrate a harmful mindset about mobility for persons experiencing disabilities.  While this Aff has major elements of a kritik, it advocates a real investment of dollars, not simoleons.

Transportation projects tend to isolate persons with disabilities by denying them mobility. In fact this case indicts the transportation infrastructure by claiming it intentionally isolates society from persons with limited mobility. This of course, fosters a mindset of otherization which nurtures our genocidal tendencies.

The case challenges students to alter their thinking about the perception of persons experiencing disabilities. The case then enumerates specific things that can be remedied.
The case provides numerous solvency cards which seeks to remove mobility barriers which are both real and physical, and barriers which arise from attitudes.

The case does provide a few advantage/solvency extensions, such as solving for exclusion and dehumanization.  For me, these are more or less identified as problems in the SQ that I would think, supposed to be solved directly by the case.  Other specific advantages include a slap against Eugenics, the "science" of the master race, so to speak, with its laundry list of negative impacts.  Eugenics is not that big of a problem in the U.S., is it?  Okay, don't answer that.

The Good
The case is big. In fact, its huge but the good thing is, it does go well beyond the 1AC including 2AC extensions, and answers to anticipated Neg arguments.  Excellent cards, good links, wonderful advocacy most of the time.

The Bad
This case is big.  A team will need to cut it down.  The version I saw was 110 pages
One of the things that strikes me and perhaps I need to absorb it a little more, is the mix of real-world and philosophical, mindset-only actions required for solvency.  For me it muddles things and is a little confusing.  Because the plan is specific in action and calls for a financial investment, it is not possible, in my opinion to argue this like a pre-plan kritik even though it wants to sound like one.

The case begins well and then it gets messy because after it indicts infrastructure planning, it advocates an infrastructure plan. Of course this time, because we debated it, its going to work out correctly and not exclude people. Nevertheless, I do have to congratulate the authors.  They seem to have put a lot of work into this case and no doubt it can be honed or whatever to make it "feel" right for a more mainstream judge like myself.

Infrastructure - Review of Cases - Part 2

For other Policy Debate postings, including an analysis of the Infrastructure topic follow the links here.

Alaska Ports
Desert Xpress (XpressWest)

Case Reviews
Since camp cases are emerging, I have decided to scan through select case Affirmatives and deliver some summaries. While I will be looking at specific camp cases, I intend to summarize the general advocacy without reference to specific files. So, if several camps put out a high-speed rail case, for example, I will generally summarize the case plans, advantages, etc. without referencing a particular file. Now for sure, some of the reviews will be one particular file, if no other camp puts out a similar case.

This series will spread out over several postings as I find time to review the cases. In general, the posts will be short, the comments will be brief and they are strictly my opinions. If I say I do not like a case, it does not mean you should avoid looking at it, especially since sometimes the files are updated and improved.

The case files, I review will be taken from the National Debate Coaches Association, Open Evidence Project.

Alaska Ports
There are too few ports on Alaska's North Slope so let's build some. Especially since global warming may be turning that gigantic block of Arctic ice in to a cozy, maritime haven for ships, crews and families. The case offers several solvency scenarios.


Scenario: Commerce
Solves for a lack of U.S. commercial influence in the region which is a key to global economy. Well kinda.  Actually the untapped resources are the key, the ports are just a way to deliver the goods.  And of course, failure to get the goods out will cause nukes to fly, just as soon as the impending world economic collapse crosses the brink.

Scenario: Oil Spills
The ports will provide a way to solve for oil spills in the region which we sorely lack right now.  You know, the oil that may spill when we start exploiting the oil fields which are vital to solving the economy and preventing a nuclear holocaust. Also rapid response to oil spills preserves the biodiversity (the diversity that is presumably killed when we start drilling the NWR.

Scenario: Navy Presence
The Navy is woefully incapable of getting stuff done in the north Arctic Sea because there are too few facilities and resources for them. In the meantime, Russia is arming up in case there is a rush for resources. The Navy presence will slow the arms race. That's how it works, right? We go up there with guns and bombs and the rest of the world puts theirs away and not a moment too soon, because global war was looming.

Good Things
To be fair, there is a lot of good stuff in the case.  The file supplies enough evidence to go well beyond the 1AC and I like that.  I don't see topicality as particularly a problem (see below for an exception) but CP challenges can be so the securitization aspects of the case can help.  I mean, even if NATO provides security, they need bases.

Bad Things
A key part of the incentive to build these ports comes from the oil and gas reserves which are available in the region.  You know where they are...that protected National Wildlife Refuge where exploitation is illegal.  So there is an assumption, that oil and gas production will increase without the preceding messy politics which have marked past attempts to open the region to exploitation.  The one thing this case needs is some really good evidence that lack of ports is harming the ability to ship out oil and gas in the SQ and then consider how much worse it will be when the NWR is opened up.

In general, the cards are not tagged very well.  Often the tags suggest things the cards do not say and that can be a big problem when Neg brings it to the judge's attention.  This cards should be re-tagged.  It may actually help the case.

Potentially, Neg could claim a topically violation based on the fact, the 1AC claims no major ports in the region.  This invites the inevitable, "increase" means you can't start from zero answered by the inevitable, "yeah-huh 'cause zero plus one is an increase".

I think the case is a start and potentially a pretty good one for novices, especially because it has extensions, answers, etc. which can help a young team.  There still needs to be a lot of work and that also helps a young team.  Some other advantages can link to this plan and advantages may internally link to the solvency, for example, the Navy presence may link to an advantage that solves terrorists from attacking our oil fields and pipelines.  In my opinion, these things would help this case.

Desert Xpress (XpressWest)
The government should give money to the XpressWest project (that's right the name has changed so already this file may be old). This is basically a high-speed rail between Victorville, California and Denver Colorado via Las Vegas. What makes this case tricky, is it could be funded this year which would basically blow inherency.

The massive California economy is in trouble and making it better is good for everyone and what better way to service the California economy than rush scores of Vegas revelers off to the slot machine in a mere 84 minutes.  Watch the money roll in now!  Good thing, too, because nuke war was looming on the horizon.

Okay. Well this case has some advantages that are not all broken-out and identified for the sake of the flow, but...if the Cali econ is propped up, it reduces the likelihood of heg wars (really, it does) and props up California agriculture. Never mind that last point is a bit circular.  So here are the principle advantages that are enumerated in the case I read...

Thousands of jobs will be created. That's right 1000s.

The city will get richer and we all know how important that is.

High Speed Rail
Everyone sees what a great thing HSR can be.

Good Things
It is sort of topical.

Bad Things
I don't get it.  This case comes far short of solving the big problems it claims because the link is uh...wait...oh yeah...a party train.

Infrastructure - Review of Cases - Part 1

For other Policy Debate postings, including an analysis of the Infrastructure topic follow the links here.

Bering Strait Tunnel
Tunnel Of Love

Case Reviews
Since camp cases are emerging, I have decided to scan through select case Affirmatives and deliver some summaries.  While I will be looking at specific camp cases, I intend to summarize the general advocacy without reference to specific files.  So, if several camps put out a high-speed rail case, for example, I will generally summarize the case plans, advantages, etc. without referencing a particular file.  Now for sure, some of the reviews will be one particular file, if no other camp puts out a similar case.

This series will spread out over several postings as I find time to review the cases.  In general, the posts will be short, the comments will be brief and they are strictly my opinions.  If I say I do not like a case, it does not mean you should avoid looking at it, especially since sometimes the files are updated and improved.

The case files, I review will be taken from the National Debate Coaches Association, Open Evidence Project.

Bering Strait Tunnel
The case proposes to build a tunnel between the U.S. and Russia under the Bering Sea. The distance is about 65 miles. Presumably the tunnel will support rail traffic as a main source of commerce.

Solves for international cooperation.

U.S. Russian relations.
The claim made is relations are deteriorating although I am not sure they were ever that great.  Economically we cooperate. Russia has one of the fast growing economies in the world and that is hard to ignore.  Politically we have conflict and have continued to have conflict for decades.

Russian Far East.
The idea here is to increase Russian presence and influence in the Far East.  This presence magically deters Chinese expansion, soothes North Korea, etc. I wonder why Russian presence did not deter a nuclear North Korea? I guess because there weren't enough Russian railroads in the region.

Global Integration
Somehow, (I guess because U.S. / Russian relations are solved) this tunnel stimulates this fabulous world-wide cooperation and world-wide cooperation solves a laundry list of nuke war scenarios. One case file spends a lot of cards focusing on interconnection of the electrical grids and suddenly world energy needs are a whole lot closer to being solved.  (details like how their 50 cycle system is connected to our 60 cycle system are just, well, details which we can discuss later - like during the 1NC).

Good things
The plan is implemented by land grants. That works, as it has plenty of historical precedence in the American old west. Time frame is fairly good.  According to one source the tunnel could be completed by 2019 and return on investment could be rapid afterwards.

Bad Things
One the biggest problems I personally see in this case is no real distinction between solvency and advantages.  The harms being solved are then offered as advantages.  This doesn't make much sense to me especially since I don't think the case does a very good job of establishing harms in the SQ which requires this tunnel as the way to solvency.

The solvency and indeed much of the success of this case will depend on complete Russian cooperation and there is no assurance that will happen.  Many of the advantage cards note the fact that Russian interest in the tunnel is not that great and the U.S. needs to drive the project. In my opinion, the dependency on Russia for success kills solvency and advantages.

In my opinion, dump the Global Integration advantage. World cooperation just seems to spring out of no where.  Its fantastic leaps of faith are flights of fancy. (That's a lot of F's)

Topicality is questionable on this one, in my opinion.  Fifty percent of the project depends on a foreign government.  To avoid T debate, it is argued the U.S. will do the American side and Russia will do the Russian side.  Even if topicality is not challenged, that is a huge potential road-block to solvency.

This case needs work. Before building the tunnel, this case needs to build a bridge to link the tons and tons of international coop advantages that somehow magically spring forth.

Tunnel of Love Aff
This case envisions a Bering Strait tunnel, not as a legitimate tool of commerce but instead as an idea which solves real-world harms just by conceptualizing the vision.

It is established in the SQ that American's stereotypical view of Russia and its people creates discourse and ideology that "otherizes" the Russians.  This, of course, results in us viewing them as enemies and culturally different and that spills over into real-world conflict.

The plan solves by imagining a world where Russia and U.S. cooperate to build a Bering Strait tunnel.  Doing so allows us to bridge the cultural divide.  This is posed as a pre-fiat, apriori case which corrects the perceptions which would impede real cooperation. The key to this solvency is gaining the ability to imagine great things and foster Utopian dreams.

Good Things
Some of the cards in the case are excellent and link specifically to the imaginative Bering Strait tunnel.

Bad Things
In my opinion, there needs to be a little more clarity on why this change in mindset needs to be done before real-world cooperation can ensue.  I mean, why should the judge think we should not look to a Neg counter-plan which solves real-world, near-term harms while Aff dreams of Utopia? Especially since cultural mindsets tend to change over generations, not years.

I imagine this to be a really sweet Aff.   I love the idea of this case.  It definitely does a nice job of creating a critical view of the status quo with regard to Russian relations and does offer an alternative.  I think if the point can come across that plans will fail without the alternative this case is a pretty good idea.  It is not a case for novices to run, however.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

CWIL - Breaking Links - Part 2

Warrant Links Revisited
Warrant links are not commonly analyzed by debaters in any genre.  I would venture to say policy debaters very rarely think about the links in their evidence, especially when pulling cards from camp cases and shoving them into the case file.  Warrant links, or at least what I call warrant links, are crucial to establishing a logical consistency in cases. In CWIL - part 2, I introduced three ways debaters can recognize faulty warrant links:

The link may be untrue
The link may be an assumption
The link may be missing or hidden

While I showed a few examples of these three problems, I feel it is appropriate to examine the concepts in more detail. I encourage you, therefore, to read the article on logic in debate here.

The Logical Basis of Warrants
Very quickly, let us recall a classic syllogism is a logical conclusion derived from a major premise and a minor premise.  Applying some of the work of philosopher, Charles S. Pierce, we declare the major premise is a general rule expressing the predicate of the conclusion and the minor premise is a particular case of the rule, describing the subject of the conclusion.  We have stated in CWIL - part 1 the claim must be true so the warrant which supports it must be true.  In the same way, a syllogism (conclusion) is true if the premises it is based upon are true.  For the sake of analysis, I will define a warrant as the major and minor premises so let me distinguish between the warrant data and warrant link.  I equate the claim to the syllogism and the warrant data to the major premise. Using Pierce's terminology, the claim is the conclusion and the warrant data is the general rule. The particular case, or minor premise, we define as the warrant link since it specifically connects the rule to the conclusion; hence, the data to the claim.

To be sure, chances are you will not be able to search the web and confirm the relations I am establishing.  They are my extrapolations based on, what to me, is a bit of common sense and deep thinking about how to analyze arguments.  Application of these relations is not always assured, since arguments can be extremely complex and convoluted, but in general terms, I think the ideas have validity conceptually which may be all that is required to figure out some new ways first of all, to write stronger cases and secondly, to challenge opponent cases.

What Exactly Are Warrants?
Warrants are probably greatly misunderstood by some debaters.  I have heard, for example, one debater ask another, "what is your warrant for that?" and based on the accepted answer it was clear to me, either both of them, or me did not understand what a warrant truly is.  I am going to go out on a limb and say, I do have a pretty good idea of what warrants are and it was the debaters who didn't get it. At its most basic a warrant is an assurance that something is true.  Many debate manuals say it is the reason to believe the claim is true.  Typically in debate, claims are supported by some kind of evidence.  Evidence can be based on common knowledge which are things everyone knows based on experience or direct observation or evidence which is not common knowledge, so it comes from authorities, experts and other credible sources.  Common knowledge or credible evidence from experts are not warrants.  Both sides can usually agree the evidence is sound and valid.  The difference between the Affirmative and Negative in debate, is how the evidence is applied in support of the claims.  So the warrant is an explanation of how the evidence supports the claim and it is the warrants which are often disputed rather than the evidence. (Exceptions of course, are outdated evidence or non-credible evidence - but no problem, you won't have these in your case, right?)  In short the warrant is the logic which validates the claim.  At least we hope it is logical.

To illustrate, we make the claim, debaters are mortal.  We observe that mortal is defined as subject to death. Our evidence, based on observation, states all things have a finite existence and every living thing eventually dies.  We construct a syllogism.  As a general rule, humans are living things and since living things have finite existence, humans are subject to death.  Specifically, we apply the general rule to the specific case of debaters by observing, that every debater we have known was categorically human.  This is also supported by common knowledge.  As a result, our claim that debaters are mortal is based on the warrant that humans are subject to death, i.e. mortal and debaters are human, ergo, debaters are mortal.  It is logical and true and so we deem it a good warrant.  Hopefully you see that the logical warrant constructs a general rule from the data and then applies a specific example which links the claim to the general rule:

         |          |
      THE RULE   THE CASE    

Why So Serious?
By now you are thinking, why does this need to be so complex?  Well, in practice, it really isn't quite that complex.  I have gone into painful but I think necessary detail in order to establish a theoretical basis behind these ideas so we can discover ways to exploit inherent weaknesses in an opponent's case and especially in a place where it is not so obvious.  In reality, one would be unlikely to breakdown the logic behind how they write a warrant but I did so in order to show the process which the mind can be trained to do almost automatically.  But let's be real. Quite often, debater's warrants are not so logical and if not it may be possible to exploit the faulty warrant to one's advantage.

A Lincoln Douglas Example
Following is extracted from an actual LD case arguing that juveniles who commit violent crimes should be tried as adults.  The debater was arguing in this contention, the claim that by holding juvenile offenders to a different standard threatens the power which holds society together.

First the evidence:

Parkin, Frank.Tutor in Politics and Fellow of Magdalen college (Oxford), MAX WEBER, 1986. p.71. 
This is the leitmotif that runs through all Weber’s political sociology. Societies and their lesser parts are held together not so much through contractual relations or moral consensus, as through the exercise of power. Where harmony and order apparently prevail, the threatened use of force is never altogether absent. Inside the velvet glove is always an iron fist. The terminology of violence, coercion, and force is as natural to Weber's sociology as the terminology of moral integration is to Durkheim’s.

Then the warrants:

A society would not exist without an exercise of power. Violent crimes are defined by the implementation of laws which are the exercise of power. When a Juvenile commits these violent crimes they have defied that power. By allowing separate systems for juveniles and adults it is demonstrated that juveniles are above the ‘power’ that hold society together.

First, the debater gives a one sentence summary of how the card should be interpreted, basically, societies are held together by the exercise of power. Most people can look at the evidence and more or less agree it is an adequate summary of the card.  But now the debater must link the evidence to the intended conclusion and this requires a warrant and it is the warrant which creates conflict in the debate.

The next sentence is actually two premises, minor and major which setup an implied conclusion:

The implementation of laws are an exercise of societal power (major premise)
Violent crimes are defined by the implementation of laws (minor premise)
Violent crime laws are an exercise of societal power (implied conclusion)

Granted, the conclusion is not exactly in a classical form but I think I have conveyed the general sense of what the debater wanted to convey and it is probably the conclusion the judge would naturally be drawn to on the basis of the two premises.

Now, the debater wants the judge to reach the conclusion that if juveniles are allowed to somehow avoid the exercise of power that violent crime demands, it threatens the cohesiveness of society.  So to reach that conclusion, a link must be constructed which takes the judge from the premise that violent crime laws are a necessary exercise of societal power, to the idea that avoidance of the power is bad for society and here, perhaps is where the logic goes slightly askew because the link which enables us to reach that conclusion is missing, and this exposes the opportunity for the opposing debater to attack the warrant.  Here is one possible way the link could have been provided:

Violent crime laws are a (necessary) exercise of societal power.
(missing minor premise - the warrant link)
Separate juvenile laws against violence are not an exercise of societal power.

In order to complete the syllogism, the minor premise must show that a separate juvenile system of laws governing violent crime are not an exercise of societal power and really, the warrant should go even farther and show that because it is not an exercise of power, the advantages of the exercise of power are not realized, so that is harmful to society.  Nothing in the evidence, or the warrants enables the judge to reach the desired conclusion.  Because the link is missing, the opponent could attack the leap in logic.

Avoiding Trouble With Warrants
To be sure, it is quite difficult to do this kind of case analysis in round under the pressure of a limited prep time although it is not impossible.  Probably an effective strategy is to probe the warrant claims for consistency during the cross-x.  Chances are, when the case is read, the judge and the opponent are probably already wondering, how did the case warrants get from point A to point B?  We can conclude the debater should write their cases so as to avoid these kinds of problems in the first place.  Warrant links are often untrue, assumptions or missing altogether in cases so it pays to do a detailed analysis well before the case is actually read in a rounds.

There is much more I can go into, including many examples from actual cases I have read but I think going through this one exercise demonstrates the concepts of Warrant Links and their purpose in cases.  Evidence, as such, is rarely disputed.  After all, what high-school debater has the expertise to question the veracity of a recognized expert on a topic.  It is the interpretation and application of the evidence that leads to debate.  If I write a case, I decide what points I want to make, then I find evidence to support the points and I explain how the evidence proves my points.  The warrant is that explanation so it better be logically sound.  If not, I can expect trouble.  Either the opponent is going to undermine the warrant or the judge will simply fail to see it my way, or both.

Comments welcome.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

CWIL - Breaking Links - Part 1

A Better Flow
I wish there was a better way to flow debates.  Not so much for judges, rather for competitors.  An ideal flow, in my mind would allow the debater to quickly identify the components of the debate arguments being used by the opponents.  The debater would be able to identify the claims, warrants, impacts and links; the CWIL.  (Don't know what I'm talking about?  Please review part 1 and part 2).  Not only would this be useful in understanding how to attack the opponent's claim, it would be useful in understanding the logical structure of the opponent's case or lack of logic as the case may be.  The problem is, it is not easy to flow a case while doing the deeper analysis of what is the warrant, link, impact, claim because often the opponent is pouring through the case like there are only a few minutes in which to make points.  Oh wait...there is.

Actually, in policy debate, it may be slightly easier mainly because of the way the cases are structured and even though the opponent reads the case at 180 words per minute or faster, one has the opportunity to look at the cards and in general, the typical case structure identifies the claims, impacts and links and of course the cards themselves are the evidence supporting the warrants.  In traditional LD or PF, cases are far from being consistently structured and typically links and such are not necessarily identified as such.  Nevertheless, I really believe there are benefits to be gained if the debaters can train themselves to automatically discern the components of the arguments being made.

The All Important Links
Links are one of the most important parts of the case structure and often the most overlooked (Impacts are the most important part of the case argumentation).  Typically the claims are fairly evident and the warrants and evidence which support the claims are exposed to examination and the impacts; that is the advantages and disadvantages are enumerated plainly and forcefully.  Its those darn links that seem to fly under the radar and yet, without links, the case could potentially collapse like a house of cards.  I bet right now, experienced policy debaters are snickering.  They know all about links.  The word "link" is embedded in their vernacular.  They literally have cards in their case files labelled "link".  Advantages have links, disads have links, kritiks have links.  Links are everywhere.  But I think policy debaters can still benefit from this because I am going to talk about links which are not so obvious and yet still crucial to holding a case together. I want to talk about links that are not labelled on the header of cards.

So let me say from the outset, my terminology in keeping with my debate theories may not be exactly what you are used to hearing.  I may call something a link and you may not know that it is a link. I may say link and you may use another term so I will try to be as clear and consistent as possible so as to reduce the opportunity for confusion.  Once again, I will mention three kinds of links, only one of which is most familiar to policy debaters.

  1.  Impact Links - those which connect advantages and disadvantages (or other kinds of negative arguments) to claims. In policy these are well known and usually link to the plan or counter-plan.
  2.  Warrant Links - these are typically logical links which connect the warrant to the claim and are often unknown to policy debaters or they do not realize they are links.
  3.  The Implicit Link in policy disadvantage scenarios, which I exposed in the essay on Uniqueness in Disadvantages.  We will not specifically talk about these here because they are really another kind of impact link.

Breaking Impact Links
Policy debaters are typically taught about link turns and impact turns when facing advantage or disadvantage scenarios.  There are specific ways to turn impacts which basically means one wants to prove the claimed impact will not occur or will be mitigated, diminished or pushed out into the distant future. We don't want to explore those kinds of arguments here.  Instead will discuss what is commonly called the link turn in policy debate.  A link turn is a way of breaking the relationship between the claim / plan / cause and the impact / disadvantage / effect. It does not so much address the effect as it does the cause and for me, at least, keeping to idea of a cause-effect relationship is an easy way to try to understand how to break the link.

Causality is a very interesting study because debaters are making claims that certain events arise uniquely due to a preceding event and whether or not it is true is really not what we must concern ourselves with.  We are concerned about the perception of causality.  In other words, we want the judge to believe that some event arises uniquely from a preceding event.  If the judge believes it, we can win the case.  If the opponent can somehow disconnect the relationship between the two events, we could lose the case.  Again, debate does not try to discover absolute or categorical truth.  We try to establish a relative truth within the mind of the judge which is presumably open to such influence guided by the persuasive skill of the debaters. As a general principle, therefore, we can realize that certain requirements should be in place before there is a degree of certainty the judge will perceive causality.  Generally speaking:

  1.  The cause and effect should have proximity in time and space.  If the gap in time becomes too great between cause and effect or if the distance between the locations of the cause and effect is too great, the judge may not perceive the link.
  2.  The cause must precede the effect in time.  I think that one is obvious.
  3.  The effect must uniquely arise from the cause.  If there are other possible causes for the effect, it diminishes the strength of the connection in the judge's mind.
  4.  The cause must always produce the same effect.  For example, if economic collapse causes war it better always cause war otherwise, a few examples of when it didn't diminishes the strength of the link in the judge's mind.

There are other relations we can identify but these are the principle ones which are simple to deal with and provide plenty of opportunity for exploitation.

The first relationship is a spatial relation and is not given much thought by debaters and the fact that it is not given much thought is a signal you should think about it if want to find ways to reduce the impact of an opponent's case.  For example, a claim that some event in the U.S. affects the quality of life in central Asia better have a very good link to explain how that causation bridges the 1000s of miles to a rural village in Asia and if it's not clear, exploit it so as to blur the judge's perception of causality.

An Answer to the Question: What Is Uniqueness?
The next three relations are all some form of what is commonly called uniqueness and attempt to establish a one-to-one relationship between the cause and event (although a true one-to-one relation is not easy to establish, if the judge sees uniqueness, the job is done).  What we establish above, are three distinct ways a debater can attack the uniqueness of a cause-effect.  Obviously, if the effect already exists prior to the passage of the plan or the establishment of the claim, the cause is non-unique. This violates the second relation.  If there are alternative causes for an event, though you may not of thought of it as such, the particular plan or claim is non-unique. And finally if it can be shown the that sometimes the effect does not arise from the cause, the causation is empirically denied, which is really one more way of saying it is non-unique.

By keeping the above four relations in mind, there are four possible ways to turn the link and thus break the causality in the mind of the judge.

In part 2 we will explore the concept of Warrant Links, show their relationship to the premises of a syllogism and realize additional opportunities to break case links.

The CWIL Model - Part 2

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:


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.

Impact Links
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.

Warrant 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).

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The CWIL Model - Part 1

Debate as Persuasion
In debate, speakers make claims. The resolution itself is usually a claim; Resolved: A just nation ought to ban capital punishment or Resolved: On balance, Internet sites like Wiki leaks do more good than harm.

Claims are conclusions which are presumed true.  But it is very important to remember, truth in debate is relative.  The claim does not have to be categorically true nor universally accepted as true as long as the judge can be convinced the claim is more true than any counter-claim or the impacts of the claim out-weigh the impacts of counter-claims.

Since you only have a short time to convince the judge you must employ persuasive speech.

Persuasive speech employs three modes:
 Ethos, Logos and Pathos

In debate ethos is comprised of two things:
1. The credibility of the speaker (you)
2. The credibility of the evidence

The logos is the validity of the claim. Reasonably explained and backed by logic and evidence.
It is the argument used to explain why the claim is true - what you have learned as the warrant.

Pathos is the emotional state of mind induced in the listener. In debate we use pathos, subtly and carefully. Impact statements induce emotional responses - these are impacts and explain why the claim is important, why should the judge care.

For links to learn more about Aristotle's modes of persuasive speech click here.

In debate, one often hears of the Claim, Warrant, Impact (CWI) model of argumentation.  CWI argumentation is simply a model for presenting claims in a persuasive way.  Anyone can make claims but the claims we tend to find believable are those which meet certain conditions.  One very important characteristic of a believable claim is it must be delivered credibly.  This means, of course, the claim is made by a credible authority or the claim is in accord with what is generally accepted to be true by the listener.  If the claim does not deviate too far from accepted norms and if there is no counter-claim, the listener may accept the claim as true without further proof.  When the claim begins to deviate from generally accepted norms, or there is a dissenting opinion either in the mind of the listener or from another speaker, the claim will be evaluated by the listener and is less likely to accepted without additional influence.  If you, as the speaker, are an authority making a claim, perhaps your authority will be enough to convince the listener.  For this reason, it is very important for the debater to become a sort of "expert" on the topic being debated.

Nevertheless, it is not wise for the debater to rely solely on her own authority and expertise in the topic to convince the listener.  For this reason, debaters will supply warrants for their claims and warrants are the grounds or basis for why the claim is true.  Warrants may be based on nothing more than a convincing analysis of known facts which support the claim or they may include actual proof the claims are true based on the work of recognized authorities on the topic who have earned the respect of their peers.  This is why debate, in recent years has relied heavily on "evidence" pulled from articles, academic journals, studies and the like, since these kinds of warrants not only show why the claim is true but also add credibility to the claim based on the recognized authority that originated the evidence. Your credibility is enhanced by the credibility of your sources.

Having now established credibility and firm grounds as to why the claim is true, the CWI model further augments the persuasiveness of the claim by making additional claims which explain why the claim is important or relevant to the life of the listener.  These additional claims are called impacts.  An impact will basically say, one should support the claim or bad things can result or by supporting the claim good things can result.  Impacts are a very, very important part of the persuasive technique.  The reason is, in debate your opponent will also be making warranted claims and they will be very persuasive as well and often the listener will reach a conclusion about which side is more persuasive based on a comparison of the impacts since the claims and counter-claims may be equally persuasive.

CWI vs Ethos, Pathos, Logos
When we speak of Claim, Warrant and Impact, we see direct corrolation with ethos, logos and pathos and so when speeches have all of these we are in the act of persuading.

Claim = our conclusions
Warrant = proof our claim is valid
Impact = another kind of claim explaining why the initial claim is important

Below, one can see how I visualize the correspondence between Aristotle's modes of persuasion, ethos, pathos and logos and the CWI model of argumentation.  It is important to keep this structure in mind when I expand it in part 2 of this essay.

  Logos     Ethos   Pathos
 Warrant - Claim - Impact

What this illustrates is the correlation of the claim to ethos, the credibility of the argument.  I correlate the warrant to the logos; the logic, evidence, and proof of the claim.  And finally, I see a direct correlation between the impacts and pathos since it is the impact of the argument which evokes an emotional response in the listener.  Impacts tend to make it personal.

Examples of Use
The following examples illustrate the use of CWI .  In each example, I identify the claim (C), warrant (W) and impact (I).
  1. The president must cut taxes for corporations (C). Sixty percent of corporations expand overseas due to high tax rates in the U.S. (W). If those companies expanded domestically more people could be happily employed (I).
  2. Thousand of people are killed or permanently maimed each year by land mines (W).  The United States must pressure nations to support a ban on land mines (C).  Otherwise, more and more innocent people will be victimized (I).
  3. As people become increasingly dehumanized, genocide becomes more likely (I). In Argentina, some 30000 people are believed to have simply disappeared and are counted among the "los desaparecidos" (W). The US should demand resolution of this situation before continuing to provide financial aid to their government. (C)

More on CWI
A claim can be and is usually supported by more than one warrant
A claim may lead to several impacts and those impacts may be chained
An impact is a claim and so must also be credible and warranted.

In part 2 I will introduce the 'L' portion of my CWIL model.

For more information about general debate principles, follow the links here.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Deriving Logical Values in LD

For more about Lincoln Douglas Debate including topic analyses, strategies, and links to evidence *click here*

Please read the article Applying Logic in Debate for background information

In a series of articles for the NFL publication Rostrum, Jason Baldwin, at the time, PHD Candidate in philosophy at Notre Dame University, described a brilliant scheme for applying Logic in LD debate (src: Part of the article described problems with the traditional model for the selection of values and value criteria and proposed an alternate model based on classical logic. Prior to having read his article, I also worked on techniques for applying syllogistic logic to the selection of value criteria after watching my debaters struggle resolution after resolution trying to understand and apply the standard model. Far too often, I have seen criteria which are as vague as the values they intend to measure. For me, a sort of revelation occurred when I realized the LD terminology is "value premise" and a premise is an assertion which provides the basis of a logical conclusion. Applying some terminology from Charles S. Peirce's study of logic, there is a sort of corollary between the broad, conceptual value premise and the major premise which Peirce calls the "rule". Therefore if we have the conclusion, the resolution itself; and we have the rule, an application of the value premise; then we need only infer the minor premise, Peirce's "specific case", as the premise which narrows our application of the rule and thus provides the criterion which is applied to the conclusion. In short, the conclusion (resolution) is inferred from a general rule (VP) and specific case (VC). This article will describe my approach to deriving the LD values and value premises.

Explicit Values
Sometimes the wording of the resolution more or less demands an evaluation of a specific value. For example, Resolved: A just society ought not use the death penalty as a form of punishment.  The explicit use of the word "just" would suggest the value of justice should be examined by both sides. At its most basic, the resolution affirms capital punishment is not just. It is possible for the debater to choose a different value but this places an additional burden on the debater to show how the value ultimately links to the resolution. For example, if the debater chooses life as a value premise, the debater must, at some point in the case, establish how the value of life is linked to the conclusion that capital punishment is unjustified. This will be examined later.  To begin the process of deriving the premises which drive the conclusion about capital punishment, we breakout the subject and predicate of the resolution as "societal use of capital punishment" is the subject; "is not just" is the predicate. To deduce the premises we establish a middle term (m) and formulate the syllogism:

(m) is not just
Uses of capital punishment is (m)
Therefore, use of capital punishment is unjust.

Give the above construct, creating a suitable middle term links the rule (all m are not just) to the specific case (capital punishment is m). For example, the debater may choose to replace the middle term with "forms of murder" and yield the syllogism:
Forms of murder are unjust
Uses of capital punishment is a form of murder
The use of capital punishment is unjust.
The logic works but is it consistent? In other words can the debater prove the premises are valid?

Consider another middle term of, "actions which risk innocent lives".
Actions which risk innocent lives are unjust.
Use of capital punishment risks innocent lives.
Therefore, use of capital punishment is unjust.
Again the logic is sound but now it is possible to prove the minor premise by giving evidence showing sometimes the innocent are mistakenly executed. So we can select for the value of justice, the value criterion of "reduce risk to innocent lives". There is nothing implicit in this process to suggest the derived value criterion is the only possible criterion.  There can be many as long as the resulting premises can be proven true, the conclusion must be true.

Selecting Implicit Values
Often debaters will choose to defend values which are not explicitly given in the resolution.  Sometimes it is necessary because the resolution does not suggest a value. Other times, debaters will choose an alternate value either because they feel it gives them some kind of advantage or they believe they can better defend an alternate value.  Regardless of the reason, the chosen value must link to the resolution and there are several ways this can be done.  The main problem debaters face, is how to choose a value in the first place and perhaps application of logic can help here. For example, Resolved: Colleges and universities ought to ban hate speech.  We can rearrange the wording without changing the meaning so as to identify the intended subject and predicate for the syllogism. Hate speech ought to be banned (by colleges and universities).  Constructing the premises we have:

(middle term) ought to be banned (by C and U)
Hate speech is (middle term)
Therefore Hate speech ought to be banned (by C and U)

Choosing "dehumanizing individuals" as a middle term yields the premises:
Dehumanizing individuals ought to be banned. (major premise)
Hate speech dehumanizes individuals. (minor premise)

Based on the major premise we can derive potential value premises if we consider that dehumanization is something we ought not value, then things which humanize we should value, so we could for example, use a value premise of inclusion or self-worth.

Anything which promotes inclusion should be valued.
Dehumanization of individuals does not promote inclusion.
Dehumanization of individuals should be rejected (not valued).

Dehumanizing individuals ought to be banned.
Hate speech dehumanizes individuals.
Hate speech ought to be banned.

Here is another example, Resolved: Nations ought not possess nuclear weapons.  In the example, there is no explicit value so we must supply one.  Let's start by deriving a categorical syllogism from the resolution.

First, let's rearrange the wording without changing the meaning of the resolution: Nuclear weapons ought not be possessed by nations.  The subject is nuclear weapons, the predicate is ought not be possessed (by nations).  Constructing the premises:

(middle term) ought not be possessed (by nations)
Nuclear weapons are (middle term)
Nuclear weapons ought not be possessed (by nations)

Choosing a middle of term of "weapons which kill indiscriminately" the major and minor premises become:
Weapons which kill indiscriminately ought not be possessed. (major premise)
Nuclear weapons kill indiscriminately. (minor premise)

Based on the major premise can we make a conclusion about what ought be valued?  Perhaps, but it would be a little awkward to suggest since, weapons which kill indiscriminately ought not be possessed, we should possess weapons which do not kill indiscriminately.  So in this case, it may be worthwhile to breakdown the major premise even further.

(middle term) ought not be possessed
Weapons which kill indiscriminately are (middle term)
Therefore, weapons which kill indiscriminately ought not be possessed.

Using a middle term such as "instruments of mass murder" creates the premises of:
Instruments of mass murder ought not be possessed
Weapons which kill indiscriminately are instruments of mass murder
If our major premise states what NOT to possess then what should we possess?  We can possess things which promote the value of life or freedom from the fear of death.

Instruments which do not promote life should not be possessed
Instruments of mass murder do not promote life.
Instruments of mass murder ought not be possessed

Instruments of mass murder ought not be possessed
Weapons which kill indiscriminately are weapons of mass murder.
Weapons which kill indiscriminately ought not be possessed.

Weapons which kill indiscriminately ought not be possessed
Nuclear weapons kill indiscriminately.
Nuclear weapons ought not be possessed.

What About the Value Criterion?
At the beginning of this discussion, I mentioned the work of Charles Pierce and his terminology of the rule and specific case as major and minor premise.  I noted how the term, value premise, relates to a general rule or principle.  We learn from LD handbooks and NFL guidelines, that the value criterion is a "standard" which allows the judge to evaluate how well the case supports the value being promoted.  In other words, the Affirmative declares, my case upholds the value of life.  Since there are many, many ways to potentially uphold the value of life, the debater narrows things down a bit for the judge and specifies, "such and such" promotes life so if my case achieves "such and such", then my case upholds life.  One can even see, a kind of syllogistic structure emerge:
(middle term) upholds life
My case case is/does (middle term)
My case upholds life.

Really, this syllogism can be described as a value/value criterion framework for the case. We see the major premise or rule as the broad value. We see the minor premise or specific case as the criterion which provides a specific application for the rule and from that emerges the conclusion the debater ultimately wishes the judge to reach.  Applying this, recall the hate speech value syllogism:

Anything which promotes inclusion should be valued.
Dehumanization of individuals does not promote inclusion.

Here we see that if dehumanization does not promote the value of inclusion, we promote inclusion by reducing dehumanization so we declare a value premise of reducing dehumanization.

In the second example, our value syllogism was:

Instruments which do not promote life should not be possessed
Instruments of mass murder do not promote life.

In this value structure, we promote life by eliminating an instrument of mass murder and so we can declare that as our value criterion.

Many Paths to Truth
In the above examples I have taken some basic resolutions and derived a value premise which links to the resolution in a logical way.  Of course in looking at these examples and thinking about how to apply the principles to examples of your own, you may choose different middle terms and ultimately yield links to other values and thus find other ways to arrive at the logical "truth" of the resolution.  It is more an art than science because, a great deal of care and experience must be applied in order to construct syllogisms which not only make sense intuitively, but can also be backed up by evidence and fundamental knowledge as the case takes shape.  It is important to remember that in order for the syllogism to be true, the premises must be true and it is your job as a debater to convince the audience the premises are true.  Your ability to do so, in the face of an opponent who is also trying to make a case, can only get better as your debate skills improve through experience. But, applying these principles can be helpful in creating case structure which is linked from value to final conclusion by well defined logical inferences.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Everyday Debate Is Reaching Out

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The information I post on these pages is free as it is my intention to educate and help the debate community in some small way. Perhaps some day, I may expand my work to offer some compensated services. Perhaps. But for now, I coach an enthusiastic debate team in a very competitive district and I have little time to do much more. In the meantime, I will continue to offer you detailed analyses, commentary based on my experience and links to evidence and research as I see fit. Hey, its my website. If I want to give it away, I'll give it away. I am not going to write cases for you. It is better, I think, if I equip you with a few of the tools and knowledge you need to be a truly remarkable debater.

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I am starting to sense the build-up of activity as debate season rapidly approaches once again.  I am looking forward to a great season of competition.