((Tablet wasn’t working earlier, and school starts tomorrow… so I’m not going to bother to get something out tonight, if just to ease my mind. I’ll get as much of it done as I can, but I don’t expect a release myself. Sorry folks.))
Hi! Could you give a specific example of a defensive/offensive V/VC? Perhaps linking a specific past topic? Thanks!
Sorry it has taken so long to respond.
Anyway, the gist to the offensive bit would be something that deals directly with the opponents argument, while defense deals in syncing with your own case and being a solid foundation.
For the topic: Resolved: November/December 2011 - Resolved: Individuals have a moral obligation to assist people in need.
Say that you are the affirmative. A lot of people on Negative ran a case based on absurdism or the loss of rights by creating a moral obligation.
To deal with this, you could run the Criterion of Virtue Ethics, because it still advocates altruism and helping people, but it does not necessarily believe in overriding moral laws or forcing morality. The Value would depend on your case, since it needs to be solid, but for one advocating good for its own sake, as virtue ethics does, something like life, quality of life, or kindness would work, depending on what you want to emphasize with the case.
This list is by no means inclusive, and just about any philosophy can be used as a criterion or value if the right resolution crops up. Reading any standard work of philosophy can produce a viable criterion, or give you an idea for a counter argument. Anything like the Great Gatsby, 1984, or any classic, while they don’t provide specific philosophies, are brilliant to familiarize yourself with philosophy and argument.
Other sources like Wikipedia and the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy are really good for philosophical study, though they can be even dryer than some of the original writers. They write particularly dense, but it is manageable.
Finally, if anyone would like to contribute an idea, criterion, or tactic, feel free to contact me and do so.
((Hopefully I haven’t lost too many followers for being this boring for so long… but it was the only way I could keep things happening while I was gone. I’ll find a blog to put this on and formalize it, and even write some more in depth analyses of the criteria, but that’s later.))
Other Possible Criteria: These are philosophies that I have never heard of anyone running, though I have run some myself as my criterion. They all are significant philosophies, and each has their own sphere of applicability.
The Invisible Hand
The core of conservative economics, the Invisible Hand is an idea put forth by Adam Smith in the Wealth of Nations. The Invisible Hand is a force of the unseen that guides economics automatically, invalidating any use of economic coercion or alteration. Depressions, booms, etc, are all part of a natural cycle. It’s the principle upon which Laissez-faire economics is based.
This is the pursuit of Equality.
Principle of X
This is for when you want to take a value and use it as a criterion. Whatever X is, you pursue it. So, the Principle of Benevolence would be the pursuit of benevolence, and by this pursuit, you achieve another value.
"Legal moralism is the view that the law can legitimately be used to prohibit behaviors that conflict with society’s collective moral judgments even when those behaviors do not result in physical or psychological harm to others. According to this view, a person’s freedom can legitimately be restricted simply because it conflicts with society’s collective morality; thus, legal moralism implies that it is permissible for the state to use its coercive power to enforce society’s collective morality." Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
This is a method of determining what is just based separate from Deontology and Teleology. You determine whether an act is good based on its own virtue, in disregard for any law of morality. You do something because it is good, not because a law said to, or not to, even.
Will to Meaning/Logotherapy
What man desires most is meaning in his life, a purpose or cause. It stands in opposition to a will to pleasure and a will to power, the assertions of Freud. You could use Freud’s as well, but I prefer Frankl’s.
Read Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E Frankl for this one. It’s a really good read.
Law of Human Nature
Written by C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity, this idea states that there is an inherent idea of morality in everyone, but that people disobey it. It mostly serves as a counter to absurdism.
Harm Principle: It is the core ideal of Libertarianism, as set forth by John Stuart Mill. It states that the only way a government can justly limit a man’s action is if they are hurting someone else. It’s the whole argument in the drug legalization debate that it’s not hurting anyone else.
I have immense issues with this philosophy, enough that I’m breaking the format of this piece, and I whole-heartedly advise against using it. It’s massively short-sighted, as everything but the most inanely trivial affects someone else.
The Theory of Justice
In the book by the same name, John Rawl’s put forth the multi-faceted Theory of Justice. It’s a social contract of sorts, but its individual theses can be used as criteria as well. If you wanted to use all of his principles, run the Theory of Justice, or just use the individual ideas.
Original Position/Veil of Ignorance- This states that, when deciding issues of policy, you should do it from behind the Veil of Ignorance. When under its effects, you do not know who you are, what position in society you hold, etc. You could be a rich man or a slave and anything in between. Thus, you are required to judge what is fairest for the whole of society, for fear of being in any offended group.
First Principle of Justice- “First: each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive basic liberty compatible with a similar liberty for others”- John Rawls. That is to say, everyone deserves to have their basic rights met, as much as possible.
Second Principle of Justice- This one has two parts: a) Social inequalities ought to be arranged so that they benefit the worst off (the Difference Principle), and b) offices ought to be available to all, in equality of opportunity.
Note that the First Principle of Justice overrides the second if it becomes relevant.
Another philosophy I altogether despise, absurdism states that there is no morality based on how absurd everything is, that there is no meaning. It’s nihilistic, and as far as I am concerned, inapplicable to LD. I’ll leave any special research to you, because I’m primarily concerned with countering it.
Good to Know Criteria: Though less common, you should be at least familiar with these, as these are popular with shock cases (someone who is trying to catch you by surprise and novelty) and are really strong with some resolutions.
The capacity to choose for yourself. It’s just basic self-determination, nothing fancy.
A social contract explains why civilization exists and what the ideal government is. It also states what mankind is like before society exists, in what is called the state of nature.
There are many Social Contracts, but the 3 most important were written by Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. When running a social contract, you would phrase it something like “Locke’s Social Contract.” If you really want to get to know these, you’ll have to read their books.
Hobbes: Mankind is inherently evil in the state of nature. It takes a divinely invested sovereign to create a just society, which men enter for self-preservation. It is fundamentally a monarchy. It was set forth in the Leviathan.
Locke: Civilization is formed on the principle of honor, or morality, as inherent in his Law of Nature. He established such things as rights. His government is a republic, and the United States of America is based off of his work in large part. This is found in Locke’s Second Treatise of Government.
Rousseau: The ultimate democracy. The only way to limit a man’s will is by the consent of the majority. Law is passed by the will of the masses. His book is the Social Contract.
A key teleological idea, this states that you must pursue the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Do NOT forget the implication that you can harm the minority for the sake of the majority, which makes this a teleological idea. People use this on deontology cases, and it is a woeful instance of ignorance and contradiction. Utilitarianism is also the single most common criterion. It’s a rare thing to go a tournament without seeing a utilitarianism case.
There are 3 variations of utilitarianism: act, rule, and negative. Act is what most people think of, in as, you judge what is best based on the circumstance. Rule is more deontological, but retains its teleological status, as it states that what is best for the majority is always what is best for the majority. Few people are aware of this dichotomy, so it could be an advantage to bring it up in cross-examination.
Negative utilitarianism is not standard, but it states that you minimize harm and restrict it to the least number of people. It’s the same idea going in the opposite direction.
Similar philosophies include pragmatism and political realism, doing the practical thing, and cosmopolitanism, which is doing what is best for the world.
A key deontological idea, this philosophy is primarily the work of Immanuel Kant. It states that whatever you do should be moral enough that it could be made a reasonable universal law. The implication is that you shouldn’t do bad things, ever.
wow, the advice you give on LD is SO unique and your perspective must be derived from all your national circuit success.
I’m using this primarily to declare my return. Slow responses, no art, etc, ought to end as soon as the queue is consumed. If I build up a bit content in spite of my current rest levels, I’ll just clear the queue and post them all at the same time.
I find this message to be quite hilarious regardless of the author’s realization of the irony of that statement. National circuit success is predicated on the stuff I’m trying to avoid. If I won there, I would be indoctrinated, not attacking it. I also suppose it’s cool that I’m relevant enough to get anon hate too, though I don’t really care.
I should also add that, unless it was in the past few hours, I haven’t seen anything of tumblr, nor will I go through a week and a half of 400+ blogs… so don’t expect me to be up to date.
Now, on to what the majority of people will read this for: the Criteria List
Note that not all criteria are created equal, and I actively hate some of them. There are a few I highly advise against, if for no more than personal antipathy. They are attitudes I feel are destructive, and they are often contradictory or poor for LD debate. I won’t write much for them. There is a bit of editorializing, but only with the abject worst of the bunch. Most are untouched by opinion however, as I’ve used most of the rest, and each has their place.
Need to Know Criteria: Criteria that you need to know to make it in LD.
One of the 2 key philosophies, most philosophies are either deontological or teleological. Deontology states that the ends do not justify the means. Even if you achieve a good end, you are not permitted to do something immoral in the process. Deontology is concerned with how results are achieved.
The antithesis of deontology, this philosophy states that the ends justify the means. Most people call it consequentialism, though I personally prefer the name Teleology, especially since less people recognize it. Teleology is concerned with the ultimate results.
Note: Do NOT confuse teleology and deontology. A lot of people do it, but you must understand the difference.
Here is an old analysis I borrowed from a friend who went to Nationals on setting up Values and Criteria.
AFF: Defensive Value, Offensive Criterion
The defensive value, as it is the core of your case, makes up for the lack of adaptability on the Aff and since you only need to maintain that the resolution is right, playing defensively is logical. The aggressive criterion maintains an offensive potential so that you don’t become stuck on the defensive.
NEG: Offensive Value, Defensive Criterion
The Neg’s entire point is to disprove the Aff, so an offensive value is the best. The defensive criterion gives you a fallback so that you’re not to aggressive and lacking in a defensible case.
A defensive value or criterion would be something that syncs well with your case and massively strengthens your arguments. An offensive value and criterion would be something that is designed in anticipation of your opponent’s case, something that will counter common arguments.
The Value-Criterion, or V/C, is the core of an LD case. I’d say the Value and Criterion, separately, equal about one and a half contentions. You should only have one criterion and one value. It is critical that your Value and Criterion sync, as they are meant to build each other. The same is true of your contentions; the best cases have each contention link back to their value through the criterion.
A Value is any ideal, virtue, etc that your case hopes to achieve. Really, it is anything that you would value (no surprise), some sort of abstract idea usually. In case, you state what you will be valuing for this round, so LD often centers around whether or not you achieve your value. There is no set list of values, as it is anything that your case considers good and achieves. Popular ones are Societal/Social Welfare, Justice, Health, Life, Stability, Humanity, Civilization, Progress. If it suits your case, you could even use something like anarchy, though I would say that strays into the ivory tower philosophy I previously warned about. Regardless, values can be just about anything. This is similar to the claim.
It is also possible to run an anti-value, but these are only effective on principle of shock value. They aren’t as strong as a good old value, so I won’t bother covering them, especially since just about nobody uses them, even in varsity.
Another point I should make is to avoid a value like Morality. It is altogether too vague, and easily defeated, as most opponents will just say that they fulfill your value and their own at the same time. Morality is practically inherent in LD, so running it is pointless.
A Criterion is the warrant. It is the hardest part to learn about LD, as it is rather vague in definition. It comes down to being the philosophy by which your case achieves your value. For example, if you are valuing Justice, by killing a serial killer, then a logical criterion would be Utilitarianism, which is the pursuit of the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Much of the difficulty comes from what criteria there are, as there is no real definitive list. I will list ones I know later.
The rest is your Contentions/Case, which make up the bulk of your arguments. This is like the data. I will leave explanation of this to your local debate team/coach, but here’s what makes up your contentions: definitions, arguments, evidence, and quotes. 3 contentions are usually about right, with one different argument per contention.
Now, I wish to deal with Lincoln Douglas debate, since the majority of you who find this page will be here for this. We must first get basic structure out of the way. The topic is called a resolution, and changes every two months. You build cases to debate the resolution. Like all debates, there is an Affirmative and a Negative, someone who argues for the resolution, and someone who opposes it. Negatives come in many different flavors, like qualification and straight refutation, but I’ll just cover the standard rebuttal style, where you build a case which states that the resolution is false. You will be randomly assigned Aff or Neg each round, so you must prepare cases for each.
This is standard in all debate, so here’s the fancy part of LD: the Value and Criterion. If you are familiar with the claim-data-warrant structure, then it is a lot easier to explain.
Debate is not inherently a creature of antagonism. It is altogether possible to approach it instead as a discussion, a synthesis and advancement of ideas. In this manner, you can acknowledge that your opponent is valid, that a variety of beliefs exists. Subsequently, you still assert your ideas to be the better, as it is still a debate, but it massively increases the flexibility of your ideas. You can grant concessions, admit that one opponent’s claim is true, but rapidly evolve your case to focus on your strong points. You do not have to be right on everything, just the important issues. Instead of an absolutist view where all points must be correct, you can now choose where you will fight, what issues matter, and what to marginalize. It is a harmful stigma to believe that an idea, no matter how poor, should be maintained along with the superior, as its maintenance detracts from the other arguments.
Finally, I would advise the avoidance of ivorytower philosophy, i.e. dealing in thought that lacks pragmatism. It does no one good if all you debate and find the truth in is issues that have no relevance, or if you favor philosophies that are absurd, that even you admit would be erroneous in practice (this might seem odd, but any study of progressive debate, especially the Policy style of debate, which I will not cover, as this can rapidly show its face as an issue). Note that ideals are not necessarily ivory tower, as it is important to establish what is desired, even if it is unattainable, the key difference being that one, while incapable of achieving an ideal, can actively get closer to it. Likewise, the statement, “If you can’t convince, confuse,” is invalid. If no one understands your speech, than you may as well be spewing hot air.
In short, don’t have your head in clouds, and don’t over grow your ego. This path will likely be more difficult than the common ideas, but, to quote Kennedy, “We do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” It also helps that they are better in the long run.
This section is primarily devoted to the refutation of some common pervasive ideas within debate and some explanation of better alternatives.
Let us begin with a truth, or an ideal at the very least. The purpose of debate is not to win. Victory in debate is the arbitrary determination of the judge, whose validity of choice is never verified. Debate is ultimately meant to serve truth. Debate, at its best, will determine who is correct, who has found the truth, not the better debater. On a personal basis, this judgment should be made in disregard of the judge; learn from your opponents arguments. If they are right, adapt your own stance. Even if you came out victorious, alter your case to better address any legitimate claims your opponent may have had. Do not let your ideas stagnate; continually permit their growth.
The most imminent error I have in mind is the philosophy of antagonism. It is explained rather well in this dialogue from the movie “The Great Debaters.”
“Who is the judge?” “The judge is God.” “Why is he God?” “Because he decides who wins or loses. Not my opponent.” “Who is your opponent?” “He does not exist.” “Why does he not exist?”
“Because he is a mere dissenting voice of the truth I speak!”
What I am about to say is irregular, as I have never heard another debater concur with this, as nearly all, to some degree or another, subscribe to this antagonistic view. Fundamentally, I find this idea to be false, lacking in foresight and simplistic. It is simplistic, and as such, it is easy to believe. Further, it is easier to debate believing your opponent to be an ignoramus, that you are always correct, that dissension is idiocy. You will NOT always be the courier of truth. You will not always be in the right. Your skills at debate are imperfect. Your opponent is in the exact same circumstance. They are not a beast magically taught speech, who you have been tasked to remind of its ignorance. They are intelligent human beings, and many will be better than you, especially as you make the transition from novice to varsity debate. If at all possible, learn from their arguments and synthesize your own. Two heads are better than one. No matter how absurd an idea may appear to you, it may ultimately come off conqueror. Do not allow yourself to believe that you are always right, for it is the seed for much of what is wrong with the world. It breeds arrogance. It is the core of partisan politics. It is dissension preferred over synthesis. If you develop that mindset simply for its convenience in debate, you will find it difficult to uproot throughout your life.
Now that I have over dramatized the difficulties of debate, it is essential to realize that any novice to debate will likely not possess all three. Even if they are present, they still need improvement. Do not expect to perfectly fulfill the demands of charisma, writing, or logic ever in your earthly experience, and as such, there will be a perpetual need to improve. So, in the face of whatever stands in your way, remember that is inherent that you won’t perform everything with ease. You will fail, but you will have your victories, and if you learn from both, then you have won, regardless of the verdict of the judge.
Now, for some explanation into the direction of this essay; I specialize in what is called Lincoln-Douglas debate. It is the debate of philosophies, of morality. This is being written primarily for the edification of novices, and as such, I’ll soon cover completely the structures and ideas of LD debate. But first, I wish to first cover a little of the psychology and philosophy of debate itself, a bit of metagame, if you will.
Debate is an art. It is the craft of ideas and words, to form a coherent, plausible, and appealing argument. It combines the function of the actor, writer, and theorist into one. It is these 3 qualities that create the skilled debater: charisma, the capacity to sway hearts simply with the inflections of voice, poetry, the skill of aligning words for their greatest linguistic beauty, and intelligence, the trait of nestling brilliance within these other two categories.
The serious debater cannot successfully neglect any of these categories. While it is possible to win, lacking intelligence, eventually, someone will see the fraud. Without charisma and poetic skill, ideas fail to be communicated, so no matter the genius of the idea, the only one who can see it is the bearer and the rare individual who can interpret the vain ramblings of the poor speaker. Thus, it is necessary to cultivate all three; otherwise you depend too wholly on the judge’s lack or possession of some unnamed quality.