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Jim Hanson Director of Forensics, Whitman College POLICY JUDGING PHILOSOPHY September 2007.
I BEGAN JUDGING DEBATE IN 1980--yea, I'm old.
I weigh the benefits of the topical parts of the affirmative advocacy versus those of the competing negative advocacy.
1. Please speak no faster than about 3/4 national circuit rate; speak loudly; speak with emphasis and meaning. If you have me for an elims round or at the NDT, I’ll just do my best to keep up and read cards at the end of the debate.
2. Please give clear thesis statements for your arguments especially any position you want to go for in the 2NR and 2AR. This is incredibly important in elim rounds where the rounds are usually faster than I can fully digest.
3. Please extend evidence by the tag. I rarely write down numbers or authors.
4. I sometimes give arguments more weight than the evidence might justify if a good story is told in cross-examination or during a speech.
5. I dislike 1) arguments that advocate purposely or actively killing thousands of people (e.g. "spark"), 2) rudeness, 3) “They are stupid” comments. I really dislike personal attacks on opponents and carried too far could be the cause of a loss.
6. I think teams tend to cry “no new arguments” too much especially when they have a one card turn that turns into 5 minutes of additional links and impacts in the negative block. I am lenient about new arguments until the 2AR. If you want me to “box-in” your opponent, then you will need a good explanation of what you could not argue and why that was so critical.
TOPICALITY AND THEORY
1. I have a strong predisposition that affirmatives must be topical. I’m lenient on topicality including for post-modern/performativity/“we support but don’t traditionally fiat a plan” types of cases. However, affirmatives should not count on me voting that topicality oppresses you or that your case outweighs topicality; I’m very predisposed to believe that an affirmative does have to be topical.
2. My predisposition is that the negative must show a clear violation and that it has significant harmful effect (my default is not "competing interpretations"). Show the topic size explodes, becomes unpredictable for research, kills core negative ground (eg the negative can't run "usfg action is bad" arguments; if you can't run a particular politics disad, i'm less likely to care).
3. I think my basic view of theory is: as long as an advocacy is clear, then argue it. Attempts to win theory with me on arguments such as “Conditionality bad” and “T is a reverse voter” and “A-Spec” tend to be uphill battles. To win such an argument, you should show that your opponent’s strategy destroyed your ability to debate effectively--not just that you lost an ability to run "x disad" or "y counterplan." Theory arguments that I find more convincing are: plan is so vague, it is not clear if any arguments apply; the affirmative severs or changes part of their plan; the negative runs two positions that straight turn each other.
4. My default is the negative gets the status quo, a counterplan, and a kritik alternative.
5. My default is that non-permable counterplans are ones that are functionally opposite to part or all of what is advocated in the text of the plan.
6. I have leanings (though not super strong) against consult counterplans--I think plan is usually enacted normal means and if the cplan alters the normal means, then that is consistent with the plan since it did not endorse a specific normal means.
7. I strongly default to "its severance and that's a voter" when affirmatives use perms that jettison a "functional" part of their plan needed to make it topical. e.g. on the "pressure china topic" the aff. plan submits a complaint to the wto; aff. says the complaint would lead to sanctions (so the plan is topical pressure); then aff says "perm--do plan without sanctions." that is severence as far as i am concerned and it is a voter (and yea, that plan is probably also not t).
8. International Fiat: Fine; I'm not likely to drop a Japan or EU Counterplan.
9. Multiple Actor Fiat: More debatable but the Aff. will need to give good args why I shouldn't consider such cplans.
10. Object Fiat: Probably bad but I think it is debatable and might depend on the situation. Affirmatives should be ready to defend US action but there's a limit to how much the negative gets to counterplan out of harms.
Links, links, links. Explain to me why the plan causes the disad.
Overall, negatives have somewhat of an uphill battle with me when running kritiks though I have and do vote on kritiks. Some key points about my views of kritiks:
• Negatives should have specific links, clearly stated implications/voters, and strong answers to perms.
• I probably should either be able to envision an alternative or you should lay out a clear alternative—and it would be nice if it appeared in the 1NC. If it isn’t, I give the 1AR tons-o-latitude.
• I'm not really big on kritiks of a word (eg “your evidence said the word ‘man’ so you lose”). Absent a team dropping the arg/making real weak responses, I avoid voting on such issues unless the word is so bad it prevents debate (e.g. using an epithet to attack another debater in the round). Now, if both sides agree that representations are key, then "word kritiks" matter.
• Arguments about “pre-fiat” “post-fiat” “in-round is all that counts” and “fiat is illusory” aren’t real persuasive to me. Both sides made arguments in the round—so argue them. If the debate centers on representations, then show your representations--including the policy implications--are more important. K Teams: This means I almost always weigh the aff. advantage impacts against your K impacts.
• “This kritik completely turns solvency” arguments are often not persuasive to me especially if the affirmative can depict one of their advantages as being independent, as being something specific and empirically proven, happens before kritik consideration, etc.
• Ethical imperatives are fine but if you drop or lose badly nuclear wars/mass death/suffering--I have a hard time finding your argument persuasive. Put at least some defense against the consequences or you will have an uphill battle getting my ballot even if you have flaming "ignore the consequences" cards.
• Affirmatives should try to perm kritiks and show how the benefit of their case’s advocacy is more important than the harm of the kritik.
• "Framework" arguments can help but in my opinion, they usually end up with one side just slightly winning and that usually isn't enough for me to throw out the kritik nor to throw out the aff. case advocacy. Wanna win a framework argument? Do so like I say for theory/t: show serious harm to your side. Otherwise, both side's arguments count.
• Negatives that run performativity kritiks against affirmatives often leave me wondering how they answer the affirmative case especially as of the 1nc (meaning, after you truly explain your K during the block, I let the 1ar make new responses). Make sure you link your performance to the affirmative clearly; make it clear how the performance defeats the aff.
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