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Last Updated: February 4, 2014
I debated LD for 3 years for Loyola High School in Los Angeles, reaching TOC in my senior year. I currently debate policy for USC and coach LD for Loyola and Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy.
I evaluate rounds through the lens of offense-defense; I vote on offensive arguments that are impacted as most preferable to the standard of evaluation. In theory, I believe that there might be such a thing as terminal defense, but in practice that is very rarely the case. However, if a defensive argument is labeled as terminal defense and conceded, I will likely regard it as such. Beyond this paradigmatic view, I try to judge in the most objective or
manner possible. I believe that debate is great because of the wide argumentative diversity and creativity it provides to debaters; utilize that as you see fit. I will not exclude any arguments on face and I am open to whatever argumentative structure you choose, whether it be a traditional value-criterion, plan, counterplan, kritik, etc. However, I acknowledge that I do have certain biases and argumentative preferences, which may influence my decisions in close rounds and will certainly affect my assignment of speaker points. That is not to say you shouldn't run arguments that are contrary to my preferences, just that you should be aware of my leanings in order to make sound strategic choices. Those views and preferences are outlined below.
The way I evaluate framework is that the framework that is won, even if only marginally, is the only framework I will use to evaluate offense. I am open to arguments as to why I should not evaluate framework in this way, but that is the norm. Just like any other level of argumentation, framework debate requires weighing. The fact that your ethical warrants include more philosophical jargon is not a substitute for quality explanation and comparison of these arguments. I also give very little weight to claims of “embedded clash”; it is the debater’s job, not mine, to explain how framework arguments interact. I have familiarity with many ethical theories that are run on the national circuit, but there are certainly gaps in my knowledge—the burden is on the debater to explain his/her arguments. I am most comfortable (and most eager) judging debates under utilitarian standards, but I am open to other ethical theories.
As stated before, I evaluate the round via an offense-defense lens, so I will vote for the debater who wins comparatively more offense to the established standard. Weighing at this level of the debate is essential, and debaters who are able to explain how their arguments interact effectively will be rewarded with good speaker points. Absent weighing by the debaters, I will default to strength-of-link (a conceded argument outweighs a contested one). I generally dislike the debates that occur surrounding skepticism, presumption, and permissibility, especially when they are “triggered” as a reason to vote. There are ways to use skepticism as a reason to prefer one ethical theory over another, but only when one framework it is articulated as a mechanism of overcoming the skeptical challenge. Usually, however, these types of arguments incentivize blippy, uneducational, spike-riddled debate with little argument interaction, and they're a sure-fire way to get low speaker points.
In light of my preference for utilitarian standards, I think that debates involving plans vs. counterplans, disadvantages, and kritiks are particularly engaging and educational. I believe that since each topic only lasts two months, the most valuable education comes from debate about the topic. I am more likely to give high speaks to a debater who can debate intelligently about the intricacies of environmental controversies in various countries than a debater who is deeply familiar with a philosopher who died 200 years ago.
By default, I believe that theory is an issue of competing interpretations and that fairness is a reason to drop the debater. I am much more sympathetic to claims that fairness should be a reason to drop the argument versus claims that theory should be an issue of reasonability. By default, I do not think that theory is an RVI. I also believe that theory should only matter as an issue of structural (rather than substantive) abuse. Structural abuse is a particular practice that has altered the burden structure or win condition for the debate (in terms of available paths to the ballot). NIBs and a prioris are classic examples of structural abuse. Substantive abuse, on the other hand, is a practice that makes it more difficult to gain access to a particular path to the ballot (but has not changed the win condition). Examples of substantive abuse are all the "spec" shells or solvency advocate theory.
I believe that disclosing constructive positions on the NDCA case wiki is extremely beneficial both in allowing better preparation on the topic and facilitating more educational, constructive, and engaging debates. For Jan/Feb 2014 in particular, with the wide variety of potential plans the aff could defend, I think disclosure is a must. With these preferences in mind, I am very willing to vote on disclosure theory in debate rounds and believe that disclosing is a very effective answer to theory arguments, especially "plans bad."
I know how to flow. I will yell “clear” if you are unclear and “slow” if you are too fast.
I listen to CX, but if an argument you make relies on something that happened in CX, you still need to explain how the argument interacts with others in the round.
By default, I do not presume one way or another, and I believe that there will always exist a marginal risk of offense somewhere to keep me from having to presume one way or another. In the case of debaters “triggering” presumption, see the discussion of presumption and permissibility above.
My assignment of speaker points will generally range from 27 to 29, but I will try to assign them relative to the quality of the pool at a given tournament. Generally, conforming to my paradigm will result in higher speaker points, while ignoring it will result in lower speaker points. You will not get a 30.
Good luck, have fun, and feel free to ask me any questions you may have before the round.
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