“Offensive” Counter-Interpretations on Theory

Piece by Ryan Lawrence, Director of Forensics at Lynbrook (CA)

Recently, there has been some discussion in the LD community over the role of competing interpretations and the status of theory debates. Some members of the community have proposed that under competing interpretations, a counter-interpretation on theory represents an offensive reason to vote for the affirmative. I find this belief to be misguided and the trend of “offensive counter-interpretations” (OCIs) to be harmful to theory debates. I will begin by outlining some basic assumptions about theory debates that will establish a base-line under which to evaluate the claims made by proponents of the OCI. I will then identify what I believe to be the arguments forwarded by said proponents and finally refute those claims and establish my own reasons for why the logic behind the OCI fails.

Part 1: The Role of Competing Interpretations
Competing interpretations establishes a decision rule for theory. Put another way, it is an understanding of the burden of the debater answering theory. It stipulates that to prove a counter-interpretation acceptable, the debater must prove it to be better than the original interpretation, relatively speaking, without regard for the absolute merits of either interpretation (most notably in terms of the presence of in-round abuse.) To defeat a theory press under competing interpretations, the debater must have a better interpretation, not just one that is adequate.

The principle of competing interpretations does not bring anything to bear on the role of theory in the round, including whether it is a reason to reject the argument or reject the debater, or whether theory is a unidirectional or bidirectional issue. The justifications for competing interpretations may on occasion draw upon assumptions about the role of theory, but those assumptions are not warranted by competing interpretations. It would not be contradictory to argue, for example, that theory is merely a reason to reject the argument/practice, but that competing interpretations should be used to determine the validity of that practice. If under competing interpretations the counter-interpretation is worse, then the practice should be rejected. Similarly then, competing interpretations does not imply anything about the directionality of theory.

Theory arguments are generally considered to be unidirectional (only a round-winner for the debater initiating it) because being fair does not logically conclude in a win. A court room analogy is apt here. If an attorney questions the fairness of allowing a certain piece of evidence to be allowed and loses the motion, the logical conclusion is that the evidence is permitted, not that the opposing side wins the trial on procedural grounds. Proving the evidence is permissible does not mean that the attorney has done anything untoward in questioning its validity. Indeed, in the judicial system, we see such procedural motions as exercises of zealous advocacy and not engaging in them would potentially be a sign of a failure to adequately represent one’s client. Similarly, proving a debate practice to be good does not logically imply that the other debater has done anything untoward in questioning it.
Competing interpretations does not logically intersect with the argument above. Saying that the person answering theory needs to have a better interpretation, not just an adequate one, to prove that they are fair does not in any way alter the logical unidirectional nature of theory.

Part 2: Reverse Voting Issues
In order to alter the unidirectional nature of theory, a reverse voting issue is required. While an RVI could make an argument as to why theory is logically bidirectional, there is no reasonable way to justify such a claim. More often, an RVI will claim that matters of fairness or education should trump theory’s logical role; that even if beating theory doesn’t really mean the debater should win, not letting them win would create some harm we must avoid. A popular form of this argument is to claim that by not being reciprocal, theory short-circuits equal access to the ballot. However, as identified in Part 1, competing interpretations does not add any fuel to this fire. Therefore, there is no assumption made by a debater running theory (even one that advocates competing interpretations) that would warrant an RVI. Any debater answering theory that wishes to win on it would need to introduce an external reason why that should be the case.

Part 3: The Problem of the “Offensive Counter-Interpretation”
The problem is that advocates of the OCI attempt to short-circuit the need to make an RVI argument by playing semantic games with their interpretations. Our example for the purpose of this discussion will be as follows: Priya’s affirmative case advocates a plan and makes framework arguments suggesting that the debate should be focused on the plan, not on the resolution as a whole. Hector initiates theory in the NC, with the interpretation “the affirmative must advocate the resolution as a whole.” He articulates theory as a reason to reject the debater (since most OCI proponents seem to admit that their argument would only matter under this condition.) Priya may provide one of the following three counter-interpretations: a) “the affirmative may advocate a plan”, b) “the affirmative must advocate a plan”, or c) “the negative must permit the affirmative to advocate a plan.” In all three cases, Priya’s reasons to prefer are reasons why plans are good (or perhaps necessary) for debate.

Most people accept that counter-interpretation A (“affirmative may”) would not imply that the affirmative should win. To say otherwise would involve a very different understanding of competing interpretations than that advocated in Part 1 and a very different understanding of the role of theory. There is nothing logically implied by proving that running plans is permissible that says that the person running the plan should win.

However, some have argued that counter-interpretation B (“affirmative must”) is offensive. However, once again, there is nothing logically implied by proving that Priya had to run a plan that suggests that Hector should lose for questioning that necessity. The only difference between counter-interpretations A and B is that the former would permit the affirmative to choose between advocating a plan or advocating the resolution, while the latter would only permit the affirmative to run plans. While this may be relevant to certain arguments on the standards level (e.g. arguments about not being able to predict what framework that affirmative will choose), it is not relevant to the question of theory’s directionality.

Counter-interpretation C is the one that seems to be most popularly defended as offensive and is, in my mind, the worst counter-interpretation for Priya to choose. OCI advocates suggest that since the interpretation says that the negative must have done something, there is now a violation. They are correct. This “counter-interpretation” indeed forwards a conception of debate that the negative violates. Can the affirmative win if they win this interpretation? You bet! So why is it the worst counter-interpretation for Priya to choose? It is not a counter-interpretation at all. It says nothing about what the affirmative should do, and that is what the negative was indicting with their original argument. There is nothing logically incoherent about saying plans are bad for debate, but that the negative should let it slide and not run theory.
If we take a very generous view of the counter-interpretation, we can assume that it means something more like “the negative must permit the affirmative to advocate a plan if they are proven to be fair.” This would make all of Priya’s reasons to prefer about how plans are good (or perhaps necessary) more germane on the violation level, since they are reasons why she is fair. This would implicitly answer the original theory shell and prove a violation to the interpretation. However, still missing is any reason why this argument is true. Why should the negative lose for attempting to prevent the affirmative from running plans?

These arguments are the reasons to prefer “counter-interpretation” C, and (surprise!) are the same arguments that would be made in an RVI. What should now be clear then is that this “offensive counter-interpretation” is just an RVI in disguise, but with no warrant. It does not function as a counter-interpretation to the original shell. It is just a new theory argument that says that the negative’s use of theory in this round was unfair. To be warranted, it needs to make appeals to claims of fairness or education like any other RVI.

The “offensive counter-interpretation” does great harm in conflating the competing-interpretations debate with the RVI debate. Rather than having these two debates occur independently, the OCI confuses the issues and makes the round far more difficult to evaluate. What is more, it also promotes a misunderstanding about some very important theoretical issues that is bad for debaters’ education. There is nothing inherently wrong with people wanting to question whether theory should be a no-risk issue for the person running it. However, these efforts should not resort to semantic gamesmanship but instead confront the issues head-on.

  • Richard Dunn

    Although this thread happened three years ago, I just read this article and I have some questions about offensive counter-interpretations and how they relate to competing interpretations. Hopefully someone will see this comment and will respond.

    I am going to use an example that is a bit different from the one used in the article, because it helps me make my point better.

    Say Bob reads a whole-resolution Aff in the 1AC. Alice gets up in the 1NC and reads theory with an interpretation of “The Affirmative debater must advocate a plan.” Alice then reads reasons why plans are good. Bob gets up in the 1AR and reads a counter-interpretation of “The Affirmative debater may advocate a plan.” Both debaters agree to a competing interpretations model of evaluating theory, and both debaters agree that fairness and education are voting issues. My view is that under competing interpretations, Bob should win the round (without even needing a reverse voting issue) if he wins that his counter-interpretation is better than Alice’s interpretation.

    First of all, I think everyone agrees that competing interpretations is about norm-setting, meaning that debaters must justify that their interpretation is preferable for all debate rounds, not just the current round. I view Bob’s counter-interpretation as a sort of “PIC” to Alice’s interpretation- both interpretations agree that plans are good; the difference is that Bob “PICs” out of the mandate that is a feature of Alice’s interpretation. It seems obvious that Bob does not violate his own counter-interpretation; while Bob did not read a plan, his counter-interpretation does not mandate that the Aff must in fact read a plan- only that the Aff may read a plan if s/he so chooses. It just so happens that in this particular round, Bob chose to advocate something other than a plan, a position that is valid under his CI.

    Bob’s CI is able to co-opt all of Alice’s offense about why plans are good; after all, his CI allows for plans. Bob is also able to generate offense about why whole-resolution approaches are also good, since his CI allows for these as well. To win that his interp is better, all Bob has to do is show that his “PIC” out of the mandate to run plans is net beneficial for Lincoln-Douglas debate as a whole. Assuming Bob wins this, it seems like Bob should win the round automatically. After all, both debaters agreed that fairness and education are voting issues. If Bob wins that his CI is more fair and more educational than Alice’s interp, isn’t that a reason to vote Alice down? Alice has advocated a norm for debate that hurts fairness and hurts education. Bob has a better norm that is more fair and more educational. Fairness and education are voting issues in the debate round. It seems apparent that if the judge votes for Alice, s/he has endorsed a norm for debate that has proven to be less educational and less fair than another proposed norm. Why would an RVI be necessary?

    I’m now going to take this logic a step further, and apply it to the substance debate. Say the Aff reads a topical plan that results in saving 1,000 lives. The Neg then reads a competitive counterplan that results in saving 2,000 lives. Both debaters have agreed that whichever team saves more lives will win the round. At the end of the debate, the judge determines that the Neg’s counterplan saves more lives than the Aff plan, and thus the Neg should win the round. It would be nonsensical to suggest that the Neg debater needed to win a “Reverse Voting Issue” against the Aff plan to win the round. And yet, that is exactly how we currently view theory debates. Under my example, Bob has advocated a more fair, more educational norm for debate. He generated offense from his interpretation, and won more offense back to the voters of Fairness and Education. I simply do not understand why he would need a reverse voting issue to win the round off theory.

    • DanAlessandro

      There are a lot of problems with the example you raise. First, Bob’s counterinterpretation of “affs may read plans” isn’t competitive with the initial interp of “affs must read a plan”. Clearly permission for aff to read a plan is implicit in a mandate for affs to read plans.

      RE norm-setting: The idea that “competing interps” implies norm-setting is the source of most issues plaguing theory debates today. Most of the time, competing interps is only justified to mean we should use an offense-defense paradigm on theory where the interp with the most offense back to it is used. These warrants could be “use competing interps because reasonability is arbitrary so it invites intervention”. This clearly wouldn’t show that we have to vote for the interp that would create the best norms for the activity. It’s a very tall order to justify the judge having some obligation to maximize fairness/education in every round ever, and should never be assumed.

      Additionally, even if Bob somehow won norm-setting competing interps and won that his interp is competitive, that would be far from sufficient to win the theory debate. You write “Bob’s CI is able to co-opt all of Alice’s offense about why plans are good; after all, his CI allows for plans”. However, if the initial shell has justified why plans are better than whole-res affs, then it’s better to mandate plans since there would be a plan in every round. In Bob’s world there are some rounds with plans and some worlds without plans, so he’d have to win offense for why having both is better than having just plans.

      The rest of your second paragraph begs the question of an RVI. You write that “If Bob wins that his CI is more fair and more educational than Alice’s interp, isn’t that a reason to vote Alice down?”. This is precisely what an RVI would justify, namely that somebody should lose for advocating an unfair theory interpretation. It’s far from “apparent” that advocating a bad theory interp is a reason to lose, proven by the fact that RVIs have been a highly controversial argument in LD for many years.

      Additionally, your argument that “advocating the better norm” is a reason to vote one way or another has issues outside of whether norm-setting is justified. Round would become irresolvable whenever both debaters won a theory interp, because they both are “advocating a better norm”.

      The extension of “norm setting logic” to substance debate is a non-sequitir. A neg conceding that substance will be evaluated through a criterion of maximizing lives is extremely different from a 1AR conceding that fairness and education are important. The 1AR can concede that fairness and education are voters in the debate round, without conceding some sort of “maximization” argument that the judge has an obligation to maximize F/E in all of debate. In the case of substance, the neg has conceded a prescriptive utilitarian criterion of maximizing lives for the future, but this isn’t analogous to conceding voters. One way to conceptualize this is that a government has obligations to all of its citizens because the citizens are under its jurisdiction/ceded rights to the govt/etc. However, a neg with any sense of strategy will not make arguments in the voter that the judge should automatically vote for whoever endorses a good norm for debate.

      • Richard Dunn

        Dan, thank you for taking the time to respond. I have a few points of clarification that I would like to get your (or anyone else’s) take on.

        RE Competitivness of the CI: My view is that insofar as a PIC is competitive with an Aff plan, the CI is competitive with the Interp. While the interp forces the Aff to advocate a plan in every round, the Counterinterp permits the Aff to run a plan, but also would permit the Aff to take a whole-res approach, run a K-Aff, or do something else. However, these other approaches (whole-res, K-Aff) are not permitted by the interp, meaning that the CI is competitive. The CI is simply “PICing” out of the mandate.

        RE RVIs: First, my view relies on a norm-setting version of competing interpretations, so assume for a moment that the debaters agree on a version of norm-setting competing interps. I don’t think this is a big stretch, since I know that many people in the LD community view CI as an issue of norm-setting.

        My argument is that if Bob wins that his CI is more fair and more educational than Alice’s interp, that should be enough to win the round, without an RVI. Competing interpretations says that we should prefer the best interpretation- whichever is more fair and more educational. Why does the current community default say that the debater initiating theory gets to win the round if s/he proves that the practice the Aff defends is less fair/less educational, but the debater running a counter-interpretation does not get to win the round if s/he proves that the practice the opponent defends through the interp is less fair/less educational? RVIs do not address this; RVIs, as I understand them, talk about the unfairness of the practice of running theory in and of itself, NOT about the unfairness/”uneducation” of a particular practice defended through an interp or a counterinterp. For example, if Bob were to run an RVI on Alice- he would be saying that the very action of Alice running theory hurts fairness, eg. “Theory skewed my time in the already short 1AR- aff time skew is true” But that doesn’t say anything about the fairness of Alice’s advocacy, which is that Aff debaters must run plans.

        I suppose part of the reason for this community default is the idea that “you shouldn’t win just because you’re fair/educational.” But, that doesn’t make sense under competing interpretations. Competing interpretations says that the MOST fair/MOST educational interp should win; if the Aff proves that his/her counterinterpretation is more fair/more educational than the interp, that is a clear link to the voting issues of Fairness and Education. Why would an advocacy (the CI) with more offense back to the voting issues of F and E not be enough to win the round?

        That is the reason why I make the jump and extend this logic to the substance debate. Say both debaters agree that whoever wins more offense back to the standard would win the substance debate. At no point would there ever need to be arguments for a “reverse voting issue.” This situation parallels the theory debate. Whoever wins more offense back to F and E wins the theory debate. So why does the person running the CI need an RVI? Fairness and Ed are already voting issues, and the other debater has already been proven to have an advocacy that is less fair and less educational.

        On your other objection, you write:
        “Additionally, your argument that “advocating the better norm” is a reason to vote one way or another has issues outside of whether norm-setting is justified. Round would become irresolvable whenever both debaters won a theory interp, because they both are “advocating a better norm””

        I’m not sure I understand how both debaters could win a theory interp in the same round- Competing Interpretations means that one interp will be better than the other, and that whichever interp is better (more fair/more educational) will win the theory debate. I cannot envision a scenario in which there would be a “tie” under competing interps, where both debaters would be “advocating the better norm.”

        Overall, I suppose my argument breaks down like this- First of all, I subscribe to the viewpoint that Offensive Counter-Interpretations do not require an RVI to win the round. And, I also believe that counter-interpretations which are traditionally labelled as defensive (for example, “debaters may run a plan”) should actually be considered as offensive, since they world like “PICs” to the interp, and provide reasons why they are net benefical, more fair and more educational than the interp.

  • As someone who comes from a policy background, I don’t really care if LD is like policy or not, as long as it isn’t like pofo.

    That being said, it does seem odd to me when policy terminology is borrowed, because vary rarely are the concepts applied in the same way. It’s almost as if someone read a transcript of a policy speech where the words were used but not explained, and then interpreted them literally.

    Case in point- competing interpretations arose as a way to explain you were responsible for defending your interpretation was legitimate for all rounds, not just the debate currently occurring. So if you said “help bob” and the neg said “can’t assist 1 person, moots disad links” and then the aff impact turned Malthus, they couldn’t answer T by saying “no abuse, we conceded the link”. Since not all debaters who assist one person, and not even that particular debater in all rounds, will concede the link, they should have to defend what they “justify” not just what they do.

    It did not literally mean “you have to have a counter interp or you lose” or “2 interps battle highlander style cause there can be only one”. It meant proving no in round abuse was insufficient to defeat T/theory.

    I’m not really sure what the rational is for taking terms and trying to make them mean something else other than its a way to sneak an RVI in.

  • Graham Tierney

    I am someone who does believe that competing interpretations justifies an RVI, and I think that you have somewhat misinterpreted the argument that I find compelling.  You claim that there is no warrant for counter interp C to be offensive.  You say, “Why should the negative lose for attempting to prevent the affirmative from running plans?”  I think the answer is provided by the logic of competing interpretations.  CI says that if a debater violates a net-beneficial rule for debate (i.e. one that is fair and educational), then they should lose.  The two interpretations to me do seem mutually exclusive, it cannot be true that the aff must not run a plan if it is true that the negative must allow the aff to run plans.  Minimally, a reason plans are net-beneficial proves the first false and the second true, so even if there is some technical detail of wording the spirit of them is mutually exclusive.  

    This seems to imply that each of the CIs are voters as well.  CI says debaters who advocate net-detrimental rules for debate (meaning there is a net-beneficial and competitive counter interp), should lose.  The aff by making an unfair argument (say a plan like your example) implicitly advocates a rule that the aff can run plans.  The neg advocates a rule that excludes this action.  The aff clarifies their implicit interpretation in the OCI and tries to show how their rule is better.  Both are articulating a rule that is fair (by their own arguments) and their opponent is violating that rule by advocating a different one.  If theory is not about what you do but what you justify, to me, it only makes sense for the debater attempting to justify unfairness (in the interp or counter interp) to lose.  

    I could be miss interpreting what competing interps means, but from my understanding this logic follows so I default to assuming wining a net beneficial competitive counter interp is sufficient to win the round.  I think this follows from competing interps because under reasonability, both the interp and counter interp can be reasonable.  A counter interp or however the person responding shows that they are reasonable doesn’t mean that the opponent is unreasonable, so its not a reason to vote the other person down.  I see reasonability and competing interps as a dichotomy as I don’t know another way to evaluate theory, so that is why I claim competing interps justifies an RVI.  I’d be interested to know if you think this is miss interpreting competing interps and appeals to some other aspect of theory or where you think this logic falls.  

    • Rebar Niemi

      Graham, i think the key part of ryan’s claim that eludes your analysis is that the initial interpretation was about the aff’s behavior, where as the (C) counter-interp is about the negative’s behavior. according to the way we typically understand competitive interps to function, that is not a competitive interp, but instead an opposing but ultimately parallel and non-competitive theory interpretation. a competitive interp would have to solve the abuse story, so much in the same way “CI: aff must be allowed to run a plan” doesn’t access the offense of “aff must be topical,” “CI: neg must permit aff to run a plan” doesn’t access the offense of “aff must advocate whole res.”

      maybe i’m not making sense, but that was what i understood his primary objection to be. under the typical norms of how interpretations and counter interpretations compete, the (C) CI is not competitive. although i confess that if it were competitive, your logic does have a certain persuasive zing to it. I think truly competitive CI’s make the RVI argument very easy, but do not automatically reverse the direction offense is flowing. 

      The more I think about it (and this is unrelated to your argument Graham), OCI seems to me analogous to situations in which an internal link is extended but the terminal impact is not. Much in the same way we do not typically give credence to internal links without an impact, it seems consistent to ignore a CI (offensive or not) without a reason to reverse the direction of the voter.

      • Anonymous

        I think a useful way of framing Ryan’s argument is that counter-interpretation C is like a counterplan with two planks of action. That is, it has a plank that says plans are good, and then one that says, “Thus, Neg must permis Aff to run them.” Ryan’s argument, though, is that all offense in the standard will typically only justify the first blank. Therefore, even though the second plank might be competitive in the counterplan sense, there’s no net benefit to adopt it absent arguments that would have to be made for it, typically in RVI form.

    • I only have time for a somewhat brief reply. When you state: “their opponent is violating that rule by advocating a different one” you conflate the procedure of questioning a debate practice with the qualities of the practices themselves. Yes, the negative “advocates a rule that excludes that [practice]” but advocating for the rule is different than actually engaging in the practice that it advocates for. Aside from literally being two different things, there are also potential disadvantages and advantages that apply to the former that do not apply to the latter. We can, for example, argue that there is value to being able to “keep them honest” without having to stake the round on it for a number of reasons. By running theory I justify running theory in other roughly similar circumstances. Nothing more. Nothing less. 

  • Rebar Niemi

    the courtroom analogy is particularly apt because just like our supposedly rocksolid “law,” LD theory debates are typically won by the person with more time/resources (in this case typically time/energy/theory prep rather than actual money, but hey whazzup pluto) and not necessarily the side that is correct. While I agree that a “counter-suit” is necessary to win that someone should lose for trying to make you lose, I can’t help but feel that the analogy to courts is question begging insofar as I can think of many examples in which one side of a civil case batters the other side with repeated frivolous suits until they eventually win de facto if not de jure.

    Although I’d say the OCI is merely a crude effort to continue the arms race we’re all participating in, and I’m sure we’ll see a more refined analysis of why it is wrong for theory to be a no-risk issue. It seems like maybe 1AR theory should be no-risk and 1NC theory should have some modicum of risk involved, particularly if multiple shells are run.

    I love your breakdown of the 3 types of counter-interps in the plan scenario though, I find it very cogent.

    My biggest question after running this is besides the inevitable “time skew, I have to invest so it shouldn’t be no risk” what RVI’s do people find to be acceptable?

    • Alex Smith

      Not to repeatedly post in this thread, but it actually might be worth drawing this analogy out a bit more. In law, if you make colorable but unsuccessful claims–including procedural claims–you do not get in trouble. If you make “frivolous” procedural claims, you can be sanctioned, but you generally do not lose the case unless those procedural claims were the core of your case. If we take legal practice to be analogous to how debate should or does operate, you should not lose for making even a “frivolous” theory argument, and certainly should not lose for making a colorable argument. Of course, this would require both judges and debaters to think in shades of grey rather than black and white, but I’m reasonably optimistic that such a distinction would be workable. 

  • Anonymous

    Ryan, I agree with you in Part 2 that nothing about competing interpretations necessarily entails an RVI. I’m curious, though, about the role competing interpretations could play in the arguments you discuss about theory short-circuiting access to the ballot–how competing interpretations could strengthen substantive justifications for an RVI.

    I think people tend to assume that it is easier to win a theory debate when running theory under the competing interpretations model–that is why many running the interpretation advocate for it, whereas many defending themselves fight for reasonability. Given that there is this perception that competing interpretations makes it easier for you to win theory (and thus for your opponent to lose the round, if run as a reason to reject the debater), do you think there’s room for the argument that competing interpretations ESPECIALLY short-circuits equal access to the ballot? That is, what do you think of the argument that competing interpretations could strengthen claims of structural unfairness on theory by making it even easier for the debater initiating theory to win, whereas a reasonability model might not skew the debate quite as much because defending oneself is easier?

    • Alex Smith

      This is not a novel argument. If you are not making the argument that competing interpretations is bad because it leads to a race to the bottom to find the most artificially limiting interpretation–and that this interpretation will generally favor the person running theory–then you should be making it. 

      • Anonymous

        I don’t think I’m making the first part of that argument as you suggest; I’m more describing how the requirement to prove comparative offense is greater than that of proving mere adequacy, and how that could then contribute to claims for RVIs. My argument is not grounded in the infinite ability to run any marginal theory shell. 

        Regardless, I agree that the arguments I suggest should and would need to be made–that’s why I prefaced my comment with agreement of Ryan’s Part 2, in which he claims nothing about competing interpretations automatically entails an offensive implication. I do think, though, it is important to explore the ways competing interpretations could bolster substantive justifications for an RVI–arguments that would actually be made.

        • Alex Smith

          The first part of the argument is a(nother) warrant for why it’s easier for the person running theory under a world of competing interpretations–it’s not just about the burden of proof, but about the ex ante incentives to run theory or topicality based on marginal and unimportant distinctions. Moreover, if the problem is that it’s harder to prove comparative offense than adequacy, then the solution would be to require the other side to prove only adequacy, not to vote for the best interpretation. Again, not a novel argument, and an argument that more people should be making. 

          • Anonymous

            I agree that people should be making this argument. I think it’s more ambiguous, though, whether this argument really only justifies that one should have to merely prove adequacy; I think it could plausibly be used as theory offense as to why competing interpretations is unfair. From there, a debate could be had about whether the proper remedy is to merely impose reasonability, or if remedying the unfairness of competing interpretations (after it’s been run) requires granting an RVI. I’m not sure there is a right answer to that question.

    • Certainly the argument is possible, depending on the wording of the interpretation used. If the interpretation is generic to all use of theory, then it seems the other debater would just need to identify that competing interpretations is not a necessary component of theory. If the interpretation on the RVI is that when competing interps is run, the outcome must be a voter for either side, then your argument functions as offense for it. That being said, as Alex identified, you would need to prove why this is a reason for your interp rather than an alteration of the decision rule.