On Why Debaters Should Make Deductive Arguments Analytically

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On Why Debaters Should Make Deductive Arguments Analytically

Terrence Lonam

As many people know, most of the cases I ran my senior year were largely or entirely analytic in nature, i.e. I didn’t really use cards. I think that, although I’m obviously biased, this is a trend that should spread throughout the debate community, at least at the framework level.

I acknowledge that there are some arguments that debaters are just simply not qualified to talk about, i.e. our current foreign policy with respect to Syria and the likely effects that intervention could have in the Middle East. The reason that we aren’t qualified to talk about these sorts of arguments is that their warrants don’t come from a process of deductive reasoning but from the qualifications and expertise of the author. However, any argument that is deductively justified can be made and defended by anyone because the whole notion of a deductive argument is that its conclusions should follow from its premises by the rules of logic, not some transcendental authority.

I believe that choosing to make deductive arguments analytically allows debaters freedoms that carding these arguments simply doesn’t for two reasons:

First, debaters are able to make dense arguments clearer by using language that flows well for them and by manipulating the warrants of these arguments so as to make them more debate functional.

When philosophers write their arguments, they don’t do so thinking they are going to be dissected down to paragraph long chunks spread at 300 words a minutes. The entire notion of reading a lined-down card as opposed to reading a full quote speaks to this; debaters feel strategically obligated to twist and manipulate the evidence (hopefully just the wording, not the meaning) they are reading down to the smallest and most concise chunks possible instead of reading the entirety of what an author originally wrote. Writing arguments analytically allows debaters to use words and phrases and jargon that make their arguments more intelligible to their judges and opponents, which can make arguments that are presented through the use of metaphor or complicated rhetorical strategies more palatable and accessible.

The strategic value in writing arguments in this way is obvious. Judges generally try not to vote on arguments they don’t understand and so any debater must always be trying to make their point more clearly to the judge. Failures here are obvious, take K debate: nearly every paradigm has at least a sentence devoted to explaining how debaters need to be really clear when reading continental literature, mine included. Debaters can avoid this hurdle by synthesizing these arguments in clearer and more conventional language. Additionally, analytic arguments are generally much shorter and so debaters who can effectively write analytics will be able to better explain and develop their arguments, making analytics an obvious strategic choice.

Second, writing arguments analytically allows debaters to synthesize arguments from various philosophical doctrines in a natural progression without being forced to waste time reading a card to explain each point, i.e. I used largely continental arguments about how our identity is defined in terms of the “other” as warrants for why we need a state that provides for equal freedom and independence in much the same way that Arthur Ripstein does. I think this is largely the most valuable skill I learned as debater; I was forced to do rigorous research, and find parallels between different philosophies that would allow me to present the best possible versions of my arguments possible. This is the same sort of skill that any good framework debater has to develop in round, i.e. how am I going to defend my Kantian framework against the challenges of emotivism or contractarianism or empiricism, but gives debaters the freedom to more constructively and adequately think through the various parallels by giving them the time to make these arguments outside of the 45 minutes of a debate round.

Additionally, even if coaches and students choose not to read analytics in round, writing arguments out analytically is one the best tests of true understanding. It’s easy to not think about the nuances of every step of every argument as you are carding an article, but writing out analytics doesn’t afford that same comfort. In order to write a cogent and effective analytic, debaters have to be able to think about the logical flow of their argument and find the best way to present it in order for it to make sense at all. This is a great tool for helping to teach debaters to find the missing holes in arguments (i.e. if you can’t figure out how to write the warrant for a card analytically, chances are there isn’t a warrant there in the first place). This skill translates no t only into better and more developed cases, but into the ability for debaters to quickly pick up on the logical connection between arguments so that they can better compare between arguments, a skill that can often make or break rounds.

As a final note, many people who saw me debate with largely analytic positions last year claimed that this strategy was academically dishonest because it appropriated an authors argument as my own, but I don’t think that this was the case. Running an argument in a debate round does not claim to represent that argument as yours in the way in the way that turning it in for a paper does. When students turn in papers or represent arguments as theirs, they claim that they originate some idea and so have some sort of creative license. It seems nonsensical to apply that same level of ownership to a debate case because debaters don’t generally claim to be the origin of any of their arguments, this seems to be the reason we don’t need to read cites for our fairness voters and logical truisms.

Special thanks to Bryan Wilder for his advice and general badassery.

 

  • Guest

    I understand that this thread is probably dead by now, but a question occurred to me by rereading the article. I think what is advocated is a great model for debate, as the authors cited in a debate round never wrote to be read in the format that LD has taken. Terrence, I think your ideas are great, but I just have one concern.

    One of debate’s main aspects, as well as one of its most important skills, is that of research. It seems to me that by using all analytic frameworks that we lose some philosophical and empirical literature. I understand that paraphrasing them for the purposes of debate are great and that to paraphrase we have to learn about them first, but I think there is a problem when it comes to this. There are 2 problems with just paraphrasing or creating analytics for the purposes of debate, in my opinion.

    1. We lose the ability to quickly analyze and form an opinion on the words of other people. For example, reading through a Kant article we learn A) about Kant’s philosophy itself and B) the ability to skim and process that article quickly. Despite the gist of the article, I still think there is a value in reading the text of an article. From my personal experience, I can now do research on topics not related to debate much more efficiently than before I experienced the stresses case writing. The very process of reading articles allows us to do higher quality and a higher quantity of research in other areas of both debate and of life.

    2. We lose the finer points of philosophy just by reciting the warrants for standard arguments. When writing a framework, if we were to just type up the evaluative mechanism of actions from a particular article, then we lose the finer points of those arguments. Only by reading the text of the original work can we actually learn about the finer details of philosophy. This has 2 impacts, in my opinion. First, a complete framework comparison can’t be made within a debate round because we only debate concepts, but not the specifics, which are also valuable. Second, we lack the general philosophical knowledge necessary for application to the real world. Note that analytic debaters obviously know their stuff, this is just my opinion. I’m sure that people who run all analytic frameworks know the Ins and outs of the respective arguments. If I’m stepping on anybody’s toes I’m sorry, it was just a concern of mine.

    All in all, I think analytics in frameworks, and even on the contention level, are a great model, but only if supplemented with actual research on a) the topic and b) philosophy. Terrence, you have a great model for debate in mind, I’m just curious to hear your thoughts on there impacts on research burdens in debate relative to analytics.

  • pjwexler

    I find this threat very interesting. I also think that is it part of a
    larger question about what is and what is not considered plagiarism in
    our activity.

    As it happens- i do happen to think
    that running cases, etc. that one did not contribute to writing is
    plagiarism, and I’m not really certain why it might be viewed otherwise.
    At the very least doing so meets the definition of plagiarism in most
    school’s handbooks of which I am ware.

    I don’t
    attribute unethical motives to people who see it otherwise, and
    perhaps they could be convincing in their advocacy for the practice.

    In
    practice, this doesn’t really have a huge impact on my judging, though
    I do have a line in my paradigm about this sort of activity. I just
    think we need to be honest that when debaters run cases or other
    arguments that they didn’t write (or at the very least contribute to
    writing) that we are saying plagiarism is acceptable in our activity in a
    way that is different from school or most fields of employment.

    • Jacob Pritt

      I agree with this completely. As a coach, I sometimes cut cards for my students, sometimes compile whole cases even, but in a round each of my students will be reading something they had a part in creating.

      I think it becomes problematic at the point where certain debate institutions will have their debaters literally completely detached from parts of the preparatory process. For instance, I heard my senior year at the TOC, one participant after an outround which was won on a split decision when asked how the round went claimed “I had no idea what [my opponent’s position] was about, so I just followed my intuition and read the blocks [my coach] gave me.”

  • UTIL.DB8R

    First, I think its funny that you think Salim would have an account having anything to do with the word “util”.
    Second, I am Chad Burgess. I don’t have this account to remain anonymous, I’m even linked to it with my Facebook. It’s for the humor factor.
    Third, you seem to be arguing with yourself. I think we both agree that plagiarizing is bad and that debaters can read stuff that they didn’t write.
    Fourth, on a broader scale, not just concerning this line of argument, I think that reading deductive arguments in carded format is beneficial for debate since it broadens the depth of philosophical knowledge. If there was no reason to cut cards from authors the extent of their philosophy would likely not be recognized and debaters would stick to the same old args they always use rather than venturing further into nuances of particular views.

    • Debater

      As if people don’t already do that? That same Goodin/Woller/Cummiskey FW is really deep. Sure, some people might research more, but those are the same people that would do the research no matter the format. If anything, analytic arguments mean that people will have to research more and better understand the arguments they are reading so that they can make them analytically.

      • UTIL.DB8R

        You seem to have a complaint with util, what you are saying is no different than the same old practical reason fw with Kgarrd and Velleman. I’m not saying that people won’t ever research in depth phil args when they only read analytical ones, I’m saying that people are more inclined to find nuances when reading cut cards. I would have no reason to find new authors and different takes on certain theories if i would just make up my own. Also, i think a rather large point that hasnt been addressed is that citing authors in round means new/young/lone wolf debaters will be able to research certain authors, because remember, not everyone is so priveleged to have coaches or massive amounts of philosophical journals at their disposal. At least saying the name of the author others to get a lead into a certain philosophy.

  • Salim Damerdji

    Obviously your coaches give you permission to read what they give you…

    • David Joannides

      So, if my friend, or anyone else, were to give me permission to turn in an essay that I didn’t write to a professor, that no longer makes it plagarism?

      • UTIL.DB8R

        There is a big difference between claiming something as ones own for schooling and using args written by others with their consent for debate.

      • Bob Overing

        Regardless of the coaches/teammates issue, appropriating philosophers’ work without citation is definitely plagiarism.

        • Emily Massey

          Doesn’t the coaches/teammates point show that in a round, there’s no expectation that what you say is your own idea? According to all the definitions here, you plagiarize only if you represent the ideas as your own: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/plagiarism?s=t

          Bob, you cite definitions of plagiarism from academic institutions, but I think probably the only reason they leave out the “represented as your own” qualification is that in an academic context, it’s already assumed that what you say is your own idea unless you cite it as someone else’s. In academia, you’re trying to contribute to discussion on some subject, and you can’t make a real contribution by simply repeating what someone else said (you at least have to say something about what they said). Debate isn’t like that, though–you’re just trying to win the round, and it’s assumed that you’ll use any arguments you can, not just original ones.

          • anon321

            I agree. I also think rebuttals in debate would be weird if we had to follow strict plagiarism guidelines. If debaters encounter a fw that they remember reading an answer to in their research, nobody would expect them to search through their articles in order to cite the response in round. They would just make it analytically. Moreover, I think having carded authors doesn’t solve this lack of cites problem because a lot of the cards for frameworks that debaters read are authors talking about other authors’ ideas. The debaters don’t include these authors in their citation though, so they are crediting the wrong person with the argument.

          • Bob Overing

            I’m not sure if you’re serious or arguing just for the sake of arguing. You really think it’s okay for debaters to lift arguments from published sources without any form of citation? I’m sorry, but I can’t teach the “anything goes” research approach to my students.

            You can quibble about definitions, but like I said above, this practice strongly resembles academic dishonesty, and there’s no need for it.

          • Emily Massey

            I am serious. I agree that academic dishonesty is bad, but I don’t think this qualifies, because debate is different from academia. It seems to me that what’s bad about plagiarism is that you’re trying to get credit for someone else’s ideas. In debate, you’re not trying to get credit for the ideas you use, since no one assumes they’re your ideas in the first place.

          • mcgin029

            This is really irresponsible. If you stand up and say something out loud without citation, you are representing it as your own. That’s just what it means to do that. In academic writing and in academic performance, anything you publish — orally or in writing — is understood to be your idea unless you provide a citation.

            My experience is that high school students have a hard enough time learning about the problem of plagiarism — both how and why to avoid it — without respected educators advocating it.

          • anondebater25

            It crazy to say people view all debaters arguments as their own. Its clearly not true. For example, when I see Valley debaters running your arguments, I take them to be your ideas, not theirs, even though they don’t cite you

          • Emily Massey

            Dave, calling my argument irresponsible still doesn’t respond to it. People just don’t expect debaters to be using only their own ideas, so I don’t see how this is plagiarism, unlike in academia. Do you really think students should have to cite their coaches’ ideas? Or that a debater who makes an on-the-fly argument he remembers from some reading he did should have to look up the original article in prep time?

            I’d rather have students understand what’s wrong about plagiarism (trying to get credit for someone else’s ideas) than prohibit them from a wide swath of activities, only some of which are actually objectionable. If we do the latter, students are more likely to think that rules prohibiting plagiarism in general are silly and unfounded.

          • mcgin029

            And repeating your initial argument doesn’t make it less irresponsible.

            The question of using coaches’ ideas and/or running cases written by coaches and teammates is a whole other discussion, one that has been seen on one debate board or another many times over the years. From a strict academic honesty sense, a debater who runs a team or coach case without permission or attribution is committing plagiarism. So, our community obviously has a norm that makes exceptions in those cases — perhaps the ideal is that debaters’ cases are either their own or are collaborative, or that the debaters have permission from their coaches/teams to represent ideas in that way. An information taking with permission would arguably not be plagiarism — see _Finding Forrester_ for an interesting fictional example.

            But that doesn’t resolve your problem. Your contention is that since there is an assumption in debate that the debater’s case is not their own (or at least not entirely their own) there is no need to provide citations.

            Extending that argument to its logical conclusion would allow debaters to read the full text of cards cut from a published source without citation of any kind. This is obviously a taking. I have seen many novice debaters do this — you can always tell when a novice is reading in their own voice vs the voice of a published professional — and I have always, correctly, told them that they need to cite their sources.

            There cannot be a blanket assumption in debate that since debaters do not write the entirety of their own cases that none of the work is represented as their own and that they, therefore, have no obligation to cite sources. That is (A) nonsensical and (B) very dangerous in terms of what it teaches high school students about the expectations of academic honesty. Cheating is endemic among high school students these days, and the consequences for getting caught, particularly in college, are severe. Moreover, people just shouldn’t take others’ things without permission or attribution. It’s wrong.

            I’ve had lengthy conversations with my own students about the ethics of taking. Many if not all of them see nothing wrong, for example, with illegally downloading music or movies (as long as they don’t get caught.) I don’t understand this at all. The simple rule that you should not take from others what does not belong to you ought to be one of the first things we learn as people. As educators we certainly have an obligation to recognize and abide by the rule as much as possible, and to model that behavior to our students.

            One caveat: I’m an economic socialist. I have no problem — in fact, I celebrate — state redistribution of fungible resources. But organized fairness-based redistribution isn’t the same thing as thievery.

          • Emily Massey

            Reading a card without an author name strikes me as bizarre but not unethical, for the same reasons I’ve been repeating. You say it undermines academic honesty among students, but again, if it isn’t plagiarism then it shouldn’t affect lessons about real plagiarism. Also, I can’t see it happening much, except maybe with novices, for a few reasons: (1) convention, (2) reading author names helps judges flow arguments, so debaters have an incentive to do it, (3) judges give more weight to cards, whether justified in all cases or not.

            By the way, I agree with you completely about illegally downloaded music (and, of course, cheating).

          • mcgin029

            Hmm. If you honestly think it’s OK to read a card without the citation (aside from its being “bizarre”) — I don’t think there’s much more discussion to be had. We just have vastly different levels of expectation. I will say that based on long experience at both the high school and college level as an instructor, a student who doesn’t learn to accurately cite a source — EVERY source, EVERY time — is apt to find themselves in some very hot water at the college level.

            As to your reasoning regarding the understood source of the information — given its most charitable reading, when a debater reads a case, the case itself is taken to be a production of their team, so not citing the case in its entirety to a coach or teammate seems, in the context of what debate is, OK or at least OK-ish.

            Your argument is all about how things are “understood” or are to be taken. This is a reference to norms, then — if the legitimacy of citing or not citing something is controlled by “how it is taken,” and your argument is that citations aren’t necessary in debate because the case is not “taken” to be the debater’s own work, then this whole process of “taking” things to be certain ways is the deciding factor of legitimacy.

            Not reading a citation on a card, then, would be lying in a debate context — it would be academically dishonest. You acknowledge that citation reading for cards is a convention in debate; passages of prose in a case that lack citation are “taken,” then, to be the work of the debater’s coach/team/whatever (in your reading.) Failing to cite a source is an attribution failure; it is dishonest.

            All of that fine-point-picking aside, kids really, REALLY need to have the requirements of attribution and academic honesty reinforced.

          • Emily Massey

            One final piece of point-picking:

            You’re right that my argument makes reference to norms, so you would be right that not citing is plagiarizing if the norm I referenced were limited to the expectation that a debater’s ideas are the product of his team. However, I think the expectation is even more permissive than that. As I said in an earlier post, “Debate isn’t like [academia]–you’re just trying to win the round, and it’s assumed that you’ll use any arguments you can, not just original ones.” The example of a debater not citing off-the-cuff responses that he remembers from previous reading bears this out (he didn’t get those ideas from his team, necessarily).

          • anon321

            Also, I think there are another couple of examples of why we dont always need to cite things. First, debaters often get ideas from listening to/debating other kids. For example, if I here a kid reading a really cool aff, I might write my own, original version of it with entirely different cards and arguments but with the same basic idea. This inevitably happens on every topic where after the first few tournaments, kids start reading the same cases. However, it would be silly to mandate that kids start off their ac with “I affirm the resolution. Credit for this case goes to person x because his case really inspired me”. Moreover, certain arguments like impact files and framework cards circle the circuit, and nobody expects people to credit who originally carded them and thought of the idea. Second, kids dont always know where their coaches get information from. I often discuss with my coach a way to write a fw and sometimes he sends me articles to read, but more often then not, he tells me a warrant and then it is up to me to write it analytically. However, this warrant was from something my coach had read from somewhere before or that he had talked to people about; yet, I would hesitate to call that plagiarism since students dont know where the warrant originates.

          • marshall thompson

            It seems as though there are several distinct concerns with instances of plagiarism that should probably be meaningfully disentangled. While I think I can see there be several additional concerns beyond the following I have not though about it enough to be able to really say.
            1. Claiming credit as yours
            This seems to be the one focused on here. The first point is that this is clearly not exhaustively what academic honesty is about. For instance, I could not turn in a paper where before each thing I got form someone else just preface (this is not my own thoughts). I need to also specify who I am getting the information from. Thus even if in debate we do not assume that arguments are our own there may be additional concerns to think about.
            For instance, it seems important to cite information so that other people can look up the ideas themselves to better understand the argument (this may be a prof looking it up in a class, or a peer reviewer in an article, or a novice watching a debate round). It serves important ends within any academic community including the debate community to attribute ideas properly for purposes of access.
            However, external to ends based concerns of that sort there also seems to be a concern a little more deontnic-esque, namely:
            2. Credit attribution
            Beyond making it clear an idea is not my own. We are also concerned as persons to give respect to other persons as thinking agents who come up with ideas. That is one reason I believe that I actually cite an author name in papers I write rather than just say (some other person), or why I take the time to try and figure out where I got an idea from if it is important to a paper I am writing. Even if my prof would never bother to go look it up herself, or indeed may just know who I am citing, I nevertheless for purposes of respecting the author whose idea I am using try my best to form a citation.

            At the very least it seems to me that there are important aspects to academic honesty only accomplished by attribution of that sort. Accounts like this also (I think but am not sure) have explanatory power for other concerns people have raised. I will go through a few of them now.
            1. Team cases/blocks. If we accept that a debate speech is not claiming arguments of ones own we need to see if there are prudential reasons for the community or issues of interpersonal respect that play a role here. I think it is clear that often there are not. For instance, if the person wants more info for an analytic our team came up with, there is not a body of literature I am depriving them of. they will just have to ask someone on my team which is what they often do. We could easily direct them to the person who came up with it on the off chance that would matter.
            Further, sense the coach or fellow debater are providing full permission to use the argument, we dont have the same concern about not respecting them per se, because the person is giving you the argument within a framework that assumes no expectation of citation, unlike academia. It would be like if my mom/dad was a scholar in the field and recommend I make an argument. I would feel far less inclined to cite my conversation with them, then if I card a article they wrote. This would not however justify a friend giving me a paper to turn in as my own in class, because then I am again presenting the work as my own.

            2. Analytics made in rebuttals.
            Here it seems to me an important issue is one of being time pressed. I am held to lower standards of academic rigor when writing a paper for an inclass exam and an out of class paper. The expectation is not that I neccessarily properly sight all of the ideas, because it would be such a strain to do so. Thus the pragmatic concerns seem ‘outweighed’ by a fear of paralyzing argumentation in rebuttals. And the issue of author respect are different because within academia we expect different things in directly time pressed scenarios like in class essays.

            Now I grant there is probably a very good chance probably upward of 60% that I am just totally off here, because I just saw this conversation and am taking a break from school work to jot down my thoughts. But on the off chance I am in the vicinity of a solution to the conflicting intuitions it seemed worth posting.

          • Emily Massey

            I think these are great points, Marshall, and they may provide good reasons to cite when possible in a case even when you’re using analytics. I also think that my narrower original claim, that what Terrence is advocating isn’t plagiarism, still stands, since claiming the argument as your own is a necessary condition for plagiarism that debate rounds don’t meet.

  • Bob Overing

    Woah. This is obviously plagiarism. Your response is that debaters never represent arguments as their own (which is definitely contestable), but most definitions don’t require an outright assertion of originality. This article defends plagiarism according to every definition found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plagiarism#Academia

    You can contest this all you want, but I would advise debaters against practices that resemble academic dishonesty. It’s not that difficult to write a good tag and read a card.

    • Debater

      The solution could be to have footnotes referencing the article(s) that you used to come up with the analytic. That would seem to eliminate suspicions of plagiarism.

      • Bob Overing

        One should probably still say “paraphrasing X” or “summarizing Y” in speech.

        • Debater

          That could work too, although it isn’t really necessary. When scholars make analytic arguments, they don’t need to mention the person they draw from in the text of the argument, they usually just make a note in the footnotes. My point was just that you could salvage the idea of an all analytic framework and still not be academically dishonest.

          • anon123

            When writing in a paper, people see the footnotes. When giving a speech, readers do not see the footnotes. Bob’s suggestion is specific to vocal citation.

          • Debater

            Vocal citation is irrelevant for plagiarism purposes. So long as there is a physical or digital copy with the citations included, the work is not being plagiarized. Aside from that, scholars don’t even cite every analytic argument vocally when they give a presentation or a speech at a conference, so it makes no sense to apply such a standard to debaters.

          • Adam Bistagne

            I think you’re forgetting that most of these presentations at a conference are also then submitted in writing, so that participants of the conference or others who did not attend the conference can read and analyze the so called “lecture” afterwards. I don’t think the fact that I have a private digital copy solves for plagiarism, but rather the fact the copy is usually published somewhere, or at least given to the relevant “adjudicators”.

            Also, works at a conference usually draw upon research that a scholar has published or is going to published, so again, there is a publicly available copy. I’m not sure having a private copy with footnotes takes care of the plagiarism issue. [This may mean that full-text disclosure with footnotes “prevents” plagiarism, but I still think we should have a norm of vocal citation in debate for other reasons mentioned below].

            I think in an academic setting, like debate, where the only communication that is relevant in adjudication of the content’s merit is vocal communication, than the case for vocal citation of an author you are quoting, summarizing, or paraphrasing, is quite strong. I think this is especially true in a world where judges rarely if ever call for analytic arguments.

            Further, most arguments debaters make aren’t even written down, but can still cite or use author’s ideas, so vocal citation would still seem to be a strong norm that should be imposed.

    • anon94

      Man, I wonder what would happen if my essays in college were tags and lined down ev.

  • Adam Young

    could not agree with this more-great article!

  • cosmarchy

    Terrence, your vision of in-round framework debates and pre-round preparation is a great model for debate. I agree with just about everything you say and think it might be useful to warn debaters thinking of adopting this tactic against a couple of issues (not for the purpose of deterring debaters from doing so, but so that they can do so more effectively).

    Cases heavy in analytically justified philosophical arguments can be very difficult to flow. For some reason, many debaters think that, just because an analytic argument isn’t a theory spike, they do not have to number/label analytic arguments. This seems ridiculous, but evidently not ridiculous enough to encourage people to actually label things (source- I’ve judged this year). I should also add that you and Julian were very good at clearly labeling analytic arguments and transitions between them. Aside from the numbering issue, some also seem to think that analytics can be read at the same speed and level of clarity as a piece of evidence familiar to most judges.

    Although analytic arguments contain the same quantity of information as a lined-down card, there is still a qualitative difference between how judges perceive and process these two types of arguments. When debaters read cards, I listen to the words in the beginning of the argument (tag), flow the author name, and then fill in the details of the argument in the card after the name. I do this purely out of convention because most people have strayed away from philosophical analytics; I come to expect that the first few words of an argument are not the argument itself, just a debater’s brief introduction to a carded argument. When a debater reads an analytic-heavy case, this convention can make flowing much more difficult (for me anyway, though I suspect I am not alone in using this convention). I find myself waiting and waiting for the author name, yet all that comes is more of the debater’s words. In the process, I have missed a considerable amount of the argument and often lag behind in flowing until I get the chance to catch up. In short, the author name is a placeholder for the content of your argument; that’s why we say “Extend Nietzsche 2” in the 1AR instead of only extending the dense particulars of an argument without identifying where in the case it occurs. So, if you’re reading an argument not associated with an author’s name, be sure to give this argument an alternative placeholder, whether it be a number, a letter, or other notation.

    If you’re reading many of them, slow down and emphasize this notation to give the judge more time to experience the argument. When you say the word “Ripstein”, most judges can probably fill in a sufficient explanation of the argument on their flow before you even begin reading the substance of the card. We associate authors with the arguments they make, plain and simple. With analytics, this is not the case. Judges cannot predict the direction your rhetoric will take since they have no prior experience of the argument nor a convenient label with which to associate it. My problem of playing catch up on the flow arises with cases like those Terrence and Julian ran last year (if anyone’s doubting the strategic value of running those kinds of cases, take it from me — they’re a bitch to answer). If one argument finishes and I haven’t written down an author name, then the debater begins another analytic argument immediately after, I will fall increasingly behind with each additional argument made thereafter. TL;DR- Be clear, be slow. Don’t take our understanding for granted.

    As for the K debaters of the world, I feel somewhat more qualified to speak about their tactics. My critical positions from last year contained tags that were often as long as, or longer than, the cards themselves. This is because there is always room for expansion upon how cards function, room to simplify the language, and room to add in more words to give the judge more time to experience the argument (this phrase is important to me). Some claimed that the way I did this was inefficient, but two things:

    1. Judges who liked my kritiks liked them because of the exceptional clarity with which many of the tags were articulated. Many judges also hated them no matter what I did, but… separate issue.

    2. Oftentimes, kritiks are comprised of unjustly brief tag lines and extremely dense cards. The analytic alternative is to replace these cards with one’s own explanation when possible. However, for K debates especially, many positions gain legitimacy in the mind of a judge unfamiliar with the argument merely due to name recognition. A debater ranting about slave morality and the will to power just sounds like a random teen going on an aphoristic tangent; when Nietzsche does it, it’s an argument. Not just an argument: an argument with a story and a meaning. In certain circumstances, it is inevitable that dense critical arguments, though they could conceivably be worded analytically, require the use of cards. This use must be balanced with sufficiently fleshed out tags, however. A tag of “AND, OTHERIZATION” for a page long card is disrespectful to the content of the argument. There is a decent middle ground for tag length and card usage.

    Final notes:

    1. To anyone thinking my flowing tactics/conventions are stupid or inefficient: I know. I’m working on it.

    2. I would also like to extend special thanks to Bryan Wilder for his general badassery.

    • Jacob Nails

      One could partially avoid the confusion by writing analytics like cards: start with a short summary sentence read slowly (the tag) followed by the more in depth explanation. Pause and slow down again for the next tag.

      Alternatively, write an all-analytic AC, post it online, then card that AC in a new AC, so it ends up looking like:

      The value is morality.
      Lonam 1

      The criterion is maximizing utility
      Lonam 2

      Compulsory voting maximizes utility
      Lonam 3

      Now you’ve got the best of both worlds.

    • tlonam

      Hey Eli,

      So my thoughts on these issues are largely the same. Debaters who read lots and lots of analytics have to be very careful about the way they choose to the present them

      1. Organization and proper labeling is absolutely critical. I tried to introduce analytics as best I could as a debater by reading a heading for each section of arguments, i.e. Action is necessarily self-conscious for three reasons, to help the judge figure whats about to happen. Its then critical to pause between each argument to give the judge time to catch up.

      Additionally, I was by no means one the fastest debaters on the circuit last year, but I’ve done a pen drill or too in my time. I was worried when I started reading all analytic cases that they would be too fast for judges to flow, but I found that largely wasn’t the case. It sounds silly, but it is seriously possible to make an argument too efficient to flow, but what I realized last year is that by using colloquial language and lots of examples to clarify your points solves back most if not all of the issue you presented because the judge is given a tangible example to hold onto.

      2. My criticism of K debate wasn’t really directed at your unique way of tagging (as most K debaters don’t use it) but I think the issue you raise about author qualification and judge bias is largely a double-edged sword. I think many judges on the circuit, especially today, will give an argument less credence given the author name, i.e. If a debater says Baudrillard, I think a lot of judges are going to think, here comes some K bullshit (even though thats pretty unfounded, I’m just being blunt to clarify my point) and give the argument less credence than the same argument articulated in everyday language without an appeal to an author they already have opinions on. The same is probably true of Korsgaard.