Policy Debate Terminology

A

Add-on. An add-on is an additional affirmative advantage that teams may read in the 2AC. Add-ons are usually very short – two cards. The first card is usually a giant impact card and the second card is a card that explains how the affirmative avoids the impact.

Advantage The advantage is the benefit the affirmative claims from solving their harm through their plan. For example, affirmatives could claim that increasing exploration of the ocean prevents pollution.

Affirmative The side in the debate that affirms the resolution. In contemporary policy debate the affirmative will defend an example of the resolution. On this year’s topic, for example, they could defend increasing monitoring of the ocean.

The term “affirmative” is often loosely used, and can refer to either the affirmative team, or the affirmative case.

Agent counterplans   An agent counterplan is a counterplan that uses a different agent than the affirmative does. For example, if the affirmative’s agent is the Supreme Court, the negative may chose to counterplan with the Congress.

Alternative When arguing critiques, negatives will often argue that the affirmative participates in some particular way of doing things that is bad. For example, the negative may argue that certain ideas in the affirmative celebrate capitalism and that capitalism is bad. In this instance, negatives may argue that their alternative is to “reject capitalism.”

Apriori. An apriori claim is a claim that one teams makes that they will say is more important than all of claims made by the other side. For example, an affirmative team may argue that the judge has a moral obligation to support their affirmative plan. They will argue that this moral obligation should hold even if the negative disadvantages are true.

Argument. Basically, an argument is a claim – an assertion – that is backed up by a warrant or warrants – reasons. There are many different types of arguments in debate that are discussed throughout this volume and in this vocabulary section.

Assumptions. Assumptions are arguments you take for granted when constructing your argument that are not explicit. For example, in arguing that the *federal government* should increase service you are arguably generally assuming that the federal government should, and can, do good things. These assumptions are often attacked by the other side, usually in the form of a kritik.

Attitudinal inherency. Attitudinal inherency argues that there is some attitude that prevents their plan from being adopted. For example, affirmatives may argue that Rumsfeld’s attitude that money is better spent on military technology is an attitude that undermines efforts to increase the number of persons serving in the military.

Affirmative plans may be basically topical, but may also include elements that go beyond the resolution. For example, affirmatives may lift the ban on gays in the military to increase the number of persons participating, and also institute a program to stop discrimination against gays. The latter would be extra-topical – it’s something “extra” in the plan. It is really something “extra” that is “non” topical.

B

Backflowing. After you give a speech you should give your partner a copy of your flow sheet so that he or she can fill in your arguments so that you have a flow of your own arguments. The 1NC & 2AC should both be back-flowed.

Bright-line. “Bright-line” arguments most often arise in the context of topicality debates. Usually it is the negative team arguing that a bright-line – a clear division – of interpretations between conflicting meanings of a term must be established and that their interpretation creates the best bright-line. For example, on the national service topic, negatives may argue that interpreting a “person” to be a “human being” creates a bright line that excludes all non-human animals and inanimate objects.

Block. A “block” is simply a list of arguments constructed on a sheet of paper that contain multiple arguments in support of an overall claim. This should not be confused with the negative block

Brief A brief is a block.

Brink Negatives will argue that their disadvantages have a “brink” and that the affirmative plan will push us over the brink. For example, negatives will argue that the status quo economy is okay, but vulnerable, and the negative impact of the plan on the economy will trigger an economic decline.

Canned. A canned speech is a speech that is prepared entirely before the start of the debate. 1ACs are entirely canned and 1NCs are mostly canned.

Card. A card is simply a quote that teams read in a debate. These quotes are called cards because debaters used to bring their quotes to tournaments on index cards.

Case. The case loosely refers to the contents of the First Affirmative Constructive (1AC). This speech outlines the affirmatives case – its support – for its plan. The case includes the affirmatives inherency, harms, significance, and solvency

Case attacks. Negatives can initiate a variety of arguments to attack the affirmative. These include attacks on the affirmatives inherency, harms, significance, and solvency. Any arguments that directly refute claims made in the 1AC are case attacks.

Case list. A case list is simply a list of arguments that various teams and schools make during debates. Your squad can keep its own case list, or you can participate in shared case list projects such as the one at Planet Debate.

Cite/Citation. The citation is the source the evidence comes from. The citation includes the author’s name, the source, the title (if different than the source), the page number of URL, the year, and the date.

Claim. A claim is simply an assertion made by another team. They may claim, for example, that an economic decline will trigger a war.

Competition. Competition is the essential idea that the negative must prove when advocating a counterplan. The negative must prove that the counterplan is better than the affirmative plan or a combination of the plan and all or part of the counterplan.

Conditional. Any argument can be conditional – a side will only chose to advance it under a given condition. Most often, teams will advance arguments conditionally when they reserve the right to advocate them if they are losing them. Most often it is counterplans that are conditional – negatives reserve the right to stop advocating them if they are proven undesirable by the affirmative. Negatives will argue that they can always go back to defending the status quo rather than their counterplan or kritik alternative.

Constructive. There are eight speeches in the debate. There are four constructive speeches and four rebuttals. Each construct is 8 minutes long.

Contention First affirmative constructive speeches (1ACs) are often organized into contentions. Affirmatives often present a harms contention, an inherency contention, and a solvency contention. Sometimes affirmatives will not use the word “observation” instead of “contention.”

Counterinterpertation. In topicality debates, negativeteams will offer interpretations of particular word(s) and then say the affirmative’splan doesn’t fit within the meaning of those words. Affirmativeteams will offer counterinterpretations of the words and then explain that their plan meets their counterinterpretation.

Counterwarrant. A counterwarrant is a counter-example for the resolution. A counterwarrant is an argument that says that a given example proves the resolution false. For example, if the affirmative says AmeriCorps is good, the negative’s counterwarrant could be that the Armed Forces are bad. Counterwarrants do not directly respond to the affirmative case, but are arguments against the resolution in general. Since current policy debate is focused on the specific plan advanced by the affirmative, counterwarrants are no longer run.

Often, you will hear the term “counterwarrants” used in theory debates. Teams will say something like, “Your theory argument justifies counterwarrants.” Since most debate theorists do not believe that counterwarrants are legitimate, they are using counterwarrants to make an argument against your theory argument.

Cost-benefit analysis. Cost-benefit analysis is real-world terminology for the language of net-benefits. Affirmatives have to prove that their plan is cost beneficial (net desirable in light of the disadvantages) and negative s have to prove it is not cost-beneficial (net undesirable in light of the advantages).

Counterplan. A counterplan is an alternative plan to the affirmative plan that is advanced by the negative. The most essential defining element of a counterplan is that it is competitive – the negative must prove that the counterplan is better than the affirmative plan or a combination of the plan and all or part of the counterplan.

Critique. It is really impossible to give a brief sentence or paragraph explanation of a critique since there are so many different forms and applications of critiques in debate. For a proper understanding, you should read the chapter on critiques.

Cross-examination. There are four cross-examination periods during the debate.

D

Decision-rule. A decision rule is an argument that one team contends is apriori – the most important argument in the debate/an argument that trumps all other arguments.

Defensive arguments. Defensive arguments refute the basic claim made by the other side by saying that they are not true. For example, if one said argues that economic decline causes a war and you argue that economic decline does not cause a war, you have made a defensive argument.

Debate theory. In most areas of the country there are no specific rules governing the debate other than the time limits. Debate theory is about making arguments over what arguments and argumentative practices should be acceptable in modern debate.

Disadvantage. A disadvantage proves that the affirmative plan is undesirable. For example, the affirmative plan may save lives. The disadvantage proves that the affirmative plan may hurt the economy, triggering poverty and death. It is important to note that any given disadvantage is not necessarily a reason to vote negative alone. Negatives must argue that the disadvantage proves that the affirmative’s plan is net-undesirable – that the costs outweigh the benefits.

Disclose. When you disclose you tell the other teams what your main arguments are before the debate. Affirmative disclosure – telling the other team what your case is – is common, whereas negative disclosure is not.

Discursive.   Discursive arguments are about the choice of words a team may make in a debate. For example, a team may argue that it is bad to describe a given instance of violence as a “terrorist” incident because such loose terminology results in more violence. Discursive arguments are usually grouped in the category of “kritik.”.

Dispositionality   Dispositionality is a form of conditionality. Negatives will say that their counterplan is dispositional when they reserve the right to stop advocating it only if the affirmative straight turns it.

Double turn. If you make a double-turn you are making both a link turn and an impact turn. For example, you could argue that you both save the economy and that economic growth is bad. If you do this, you will essentially presenting a disadvantage against yourself – you are arguing that you strengthen the economy and that that is bad.

E

Elimination rounds. After the preliminary debates are complete, debaters in the top four to thirty two teams (depending on the size of the tournament) are selected to participation in elimination rounds. Teams are seeded from one to anywhere from four to thirty-two based on their performance in the preliminary rounds. Teams that lose are eliminated until one team remains.

Evidence. In debate, evidence refers to quotes debaters introduce to support their arguments.

Extra-topicality. Affirmative plans may be basically topical, but may also include elements that go beyond the resolution. For example, affirmatives may lift the ban on gays in the military to increase the number of persons participating, and also institute a program to stop discrimination against gays. The latter would be extra-topical – it’s something “extra” in the plan. It is really something “extra” that is “non” topical.

Fiat Fiat stems from the word “should” in the resolution. It is the idea that we can assume that the plan is adopted for the purpose of testing its merits. It removes the focus from questions about whether the plan would actually be adopted.

Floating PIC. A Floating PIC is a kritik alternative that endorses all of what the affirmative does, but not some minor element, usually a word or a specific idea. It is “floating” because it does not usually take the form of a counterplan, but simply floats – teams will mention it in their speeches and then develop it in the 2NR.

Flow A flow is what debaters use to take notes in a debate. Usually most people take notes vertically – in an outline form. In debate you take notes horizontally – noting the arguments and the responses to them across the course of the debate. Flowing is a fundamental and absolutely essential skill if you want to be a good debater.

Framework. The framework is the explanation of how the judge should evaluate the debate. Framework debates have become common since the advent of the critique because critiques introduce important questions about how the debate should be resolved – should the judge evaluate the net desirability of the plan (the standard means of evaluation), evaluate language choices made by each side, prioritize process considerations such as the use of speed (fast-talking by the other team)? Arguments that address fundamental questions regarding how the debate should be decided deal with important issues of framework.

Frontline. A frontline is a set of arguments that are designed to answer a general argument. Debaters write frontlines against off-case positions as well as advantages and solvency claims.

 

G

Generic. A generic is a general argument advanced by the negative that applies to many different affirmatives A generic counterplan is a counterplan that applies to many affirmatives. For example, most affirmatives use Congress as their agent, the Congress counterplan is a generic counterplan. Mo affirmative plans spend money, so spending is a generic disadvantage. Most plans use the government, so statism is a generic critique.

Generic disadvantage. A generic disadvantage is a disadvantage that applies to many affirmatives. For example, most affirmatives spend money, so spending is a generic disadvantage.

H

Harms. The harms refer to the part of the affirmative case that the affirmative tries to solve for. For example, affirmatives may claim that in the status quo many people have poor educational opportunities and that this results in poverty and economic decline. The poverty and economic decline are the harms that stem from a lack of education.

High-low. When deciding speaker awards, tournaments usually drop from considerations a debater’s highest speaker points and a debater’s lowest speaker points. High-low also refers to how debates are paired at a tournament. After the first two to four preset debates, most debates are paired high-low within brackets. What this means is that teams with identical records (say 2-2) will meet in future debates but those with the highest speaker points will debate those with the lowest speaker points .

Hypothesis testing. Hypotesting is a debate theory that says that the central question to be addressed in the debate is the overall truth of the resolution. It comes from the idea that the affirmative is testing a hypothesis – the hypothesis being the resolution. Since the focus of modern debate is on the plan, hypotesting is not a popular theory

I

Impact. The impact is similar to a harm, though the term is usually used in the context of the disadvantage. The impact is the final, end problem that results. For example, if the negative’s disadvantage argues that the affirmative’s plan undermines the economy, the impact is the final result – an economic decline may cause poverty, or even trigger a war.

Impact non-unique. An impact non-uniqueness argument says that the impact to the disadvantage is already happening – that the economy is in a downturn now, that there is widespread poverty now, or that the war that the affirmative says will happen in already occurring.

Impact take-out. An impact take-out says that the impact is false. For example, if you argue that an economic decline doesn’t cause a war you are taking out their impact claim that an economic decline causes a war.

Impact turn. An impact turn says that not only is the final impact not bad, it is good. For example, if you argue that an economic decline is good because it will protect our environment, you are arguing an impact turn.

Interpretation. Topicality debates will revolve around the interpretation of the resolution, or term in the resolution, offered by the affirmative team and one offered by the negative team. For example, a negative team may advance an interpretation of the “substantial increase” that says a substantial increase is a “one percent” increase.

Inherency. Inherency is a stock issue that the affirmative must prove. It centers around the idea that the plan the affirmative advocates is not being implemented in the present world – the status quo. There are three types of inherency – existential inherency, structural inherency, and attitudinal inherency. Each of the three types is discussed in more detail in specific vocabulary entries.

Internal link The internal link connects one link to another link, or one link to an impact. It is often discussed in the context of disadvantages, but all arguments have internal links. For example, if the negative argues that the plan causes a recession, a recession causes a depression, and a depression causes a war, the internal link is the argument that a recession will cause a depression.

Internal link turn Just as you can turn an link and turn an impact, you can turn an internal link by arguing that the opposite of the internal link is true. For example, if the internal link is “recession causes a depression,” an internal link turn is that a recession stops a depression.

Intrinsic/non-intrinsic. Affirmatives will often argue that the negative’s disadvantage is non-intrinsic – that the affirmative plan could be voted for and that intervening action could be taken to prevent a given disadvantage from happening. For example, if the negative argued that the affirmative’s plan will cause the U.S. to attack Iran, the negative could argue that we could simply do the plan and not attack Iraq.

Intrinsicness permutation. As discussed in the section on counterplans, and in the definitional entry, a permutation is a combination of the affirmative plan and all or part of the counterplan. If the affirmative’s permutation includes action beyond the affirmative plan and all or part of the counterplan, the permutation is intrinsic.

Judge. The judge is the person who decides the winner and loser of each debate. In elimination rounds there are usually three judges.

K

Kick. You can kick a kritik or disadvantage argument in a debate as long as it is not straight-turned. There is a debate about whether or not counterplans that are straight-turned can be kicked.

Kritik. In this volume it is referred to by its English spelling – critique. It is difficult to say exactly what a kritik is. Kritiks have taken many forms in debate, and the popularity of many has come and gone.   It is best to read the chapter on critiques to gain the best understanding.

L

Language Kritik. A language kritik argues that the other team’s language choice is bad. For example, a team may argue that it is bad to describe a given instance of violence as a “terrorist” incident because such loose terminology results in more violence. Discursive arguments are usually grouped in the category of “kritik.”.

Limits. Limits questions arise in topicality debates.   Negative teams will argue that their interpretation of the topic is more limiting than the affirmative’s interpretation. For example, teams will argue that if you define a person only as a human being it will produce a more limited topic than if you define it to include animals.

Link. Most teams who present disadvantages will argue that the affirmative will doe something (like trigger price inflation) that will push us over the brink to complete economic ruin. All disadvantages do not have to be structured in this fashion, however. Disadvantages can also be argued as being linear – -that the affirmative plan causes some incremental harm, such as environmental destruction and that each increment of the harm is bad

Line-by-Line. Line-by-line refers to going point-by-point through the flow of the other sides arguments and answering each one as you go.

Link. A link is generally discussed as part of a disadvantage. It is the part of the argument that ties the negative disadvantage to what the affirmative is arguing. For example, a link to a spending disadvantage argues that the affirmative plan will spend money.

Link non-unique. A link non-uniqueness argument attacks the uniqueness of the link. For example, a link-uniqueness argument against a spending disadvantage argues that the government is spending money now

Link take-out. A link take-out argues that the link is false. For example, if the affirmative argued that they do not spend any money, they would be making a link take-out.

Link turn. A link turn argues that the opposite of the link is true. If a disadvantage claims that the affirmative plan spends money as the link, an affirmative argument that the plan saves money is the link turn.

N

Negative. The negative team argues against the resolution. In modern policy debate, the negative directs their arguments against the specific policy proposal outlined by the affirmative.

Negative block. The negative block is the two negative speeches that occur back to back – the 2NC & the 1NR.

Net beneficial. In order for the negative team to win a counterplan, they must prove that the counterplan is net-beneficial. A counterplan is net-beneficial if it is better than the affirmative plan or a combination of the plan and all or part of the counterplan.

Net benefits. Disadvantages or kritiks that the negative uses to prove that it is better to just do the counterplan than a combination of the plan and the counterplan (the permutation) are often referred to as net-benefits. These disadvantages or kritiks need to at least link less to the affirmative plan than to the counterplan. Technically these arguments are not net-benefits until it is proven that they are reasons to support only the counterplan.

New arguments. New arguments are arguments made in the debate that are made after the team had a speech to answer the arguments. For example, if you make five arguments to the disadvantage in the 2AC, and you make a sixth argument in the 1AR, the argument you make in the 1AR is new. You have to answer arguments in the debate at your next available opportunity – the next speech.   The only exception to this is that 2AC arguments can be answered in the 2NC or the 1NR.

Non-topical. If the affirmative plan does not fit within the bounds of the resolution it is deemed to be non-topical.

Non-unique. A non-unique argument is an argument that will occur regardless of whether or not the affirmative’s plan, or the negative’s counterplan or kritik alternative, is adopted. For example, if the negative argues that the plan will cause the economy to crash and the affirmative argues that the economy has already crashed, then that problem is non-unique to what the affirmative is advocating.

O

Observation. First affirmative constructive speeches (1ACs) are often organized into observations. Affirmatives often present a harms observation, an inherency observation, and a solvency observation. Sometimes affirmatives will not use the word “contention” instead of “observation.”

Off-case. In addition to direct case attacks, the negative can refute the idea that the affirmative should win the debate through topicality arguments, kritiks, counterplans, and disadvantages. These four arguments are referred to as “off-case” positions.

Offensive arguments. If someone tells you to make an offensive argument, you may think that he or she is telling you to be rude. This is not the case, however. An offensive argument simply refers to a turn – a link turn, an internal link turn, or an impact turn. If the negative says your plan spends money, and you argue that it saves money, you are making an offensive argument.

On-case. On case arguments are specific arguments made by the negative that directly refute the affirmative’s inherency, harms, or solvency

Overview. An overview is a general explanation of a major argument in that occurs before you begin answering the line-by-line argument(s) that the other side has made. 2NRs and 2ARs will also give overviews that include a general assessment of the debate that explains why they are winning the debate.

P

Pairing. The pairing is the sheet that is released by the tab room before the start of each debate. The pairing identifies your team, the team you are debating, the room where the debate will occur, and who the judge(s) of the debate.

Paradigm. A paradigm is a way of seeing the world. In debate, judges have different paradigms – or ways of seeing the debate. The most popular contemporary paradigms are stock issues and policy-making.

Partner. In policy you debate with a partner – it’s two people vs. two people

Permutation (perm). A permutation is a combination of the plan and all or part of the counterplan (or kritik alternative). Affirmative teams make permutations to test whether counterplans and/or kritks are competitive. Usually it is not simply enough to point out that a permutation is possible – you need to prove that the permutation is a net-desirable course of action compared to the counterplan.

Persuasive. If an argument is persuasive it is convincing to the audience.

Plan. The plan is the affirmative’s basic statement of how they believe things should be changed – most always by the federal government. Negative teams can also introduce plans – in the form of counterplans.

Plan meet need (PMN). A plan meet need is a basic solvency argument that says that the affirmative plan will not solve for the harms that they have identified. For example, a PMN may say that the affirmative doesn’t recruit enough troops to avoid the readiness crisis that they have identified.

Plan-Plan. Plan-plan is an out-of-fashion debate theory that says that the negative and the affirmative should both advance plans and whichever plan has the greatest advantages should win. Plan-plan theory never survived close analysis because it ignores that critical concept of counterplan competition that demonstrates that the counterplan is a reason to vote against the affirmative.

Plan Inclusive Counterplan (PIC). A plan-inclusive counterplan is a counterplan that does part of the affirmative plan, but not all of it. They will argue that the part that they do not do is bad. They will link disadvantages and kritiks to the part that they do not do.

Policy-making Policy-making is one of the most popular paradigms – ways of viewing and judging the debate. Policy-makers believe that the affirmative plan should be voted for if it is on balance beneficial and believe that the negative should win if the affirmative plan is prove to be net undesirable.

Positions. Positions are the major off-case arguments advanced by the negative. Negative positions include topicality, counterplans, critiques, and disadvantages.

Preliminary rounds Most debate tournaments have both preliminary rounds and elimination rounds. In the preliminary rounds each two person team is assigned a number of affirmative and negative debates (say three of each). After the preliminary debates are complete, debaters in the top four to thirty two teams (depending on the size of the tournament) are selected to participation in elimination rounds.

Prima Facie Burden Prima Facia burdens are generally things that the affirmative must prove in order to win. Generally, they must prove that their plan is inherent, that significant harms will occur if the plan is not adopted, and that the affirmative can solve for the identified harms.

Probability Probability refers to how likely something is. It is an important means of risk analysis. For example, if you argue that the affirmative plan will destroy the economy, you need to argue how probable that is. As you will learn in debate, almost anything is possible. The question is how probable is it?

Procedural A procedural is a debate theory argument that argues that that some specific argument advanced by the other side should not be allowed, and often it will at least be asserted that the procedural objection is a reason to vote against the other side.

R

Rank. In each debate the judge rates the debaters 1-4. This rating number is your rank in a particular debate. A 1 is the best rank and a 4 is the lowest rank.

Rebuttal. There are four constructive speeches in the debate and there are four rebuttals. Each debater delivers a constructive and a rebuttal. In modern debate, it is useful to think of each speech after the first as a rebuttal. You are constantly in the process of answering – rebutting – arguments

Reasonability. Reasonability issues arise in topicality debates. Affirmatives will argue that their interpretation of the topic is reasonable and that topicality debates should not be about discovering the most limited interpretation.

Resolution The resolution is the chosen subject for debates. Affirmatives will support it, and negatives will go against it.

Risk analysis Risk analysis involves assessing risks of the costs and benefits of a given proposal. The central elements of risk analysis are the impact, the probability, and the time-frame.

Roadmap. The road map is the identification of the order you will address the major positions in the debate, such as topicality, disadvantages, critiques, counterplans, solvency, and advantage/harm arguments. In most regions of the countries judges will let you explain your roadmap before they start running your speech time in order that they can also put their flow sheets in order.

Run. Debaters refer to “running” arguments in a debate. This simply means making the argument in a debate. If you “run” a spending disadvantage, for example, it simply means that you have presented it.

S

Scenario A scenario is a chain of events that results in a given impact. For example, you a team may argue that if U.S. global leadership declines China will invade Taiwan, triggering a war throughout Asia.

Severance. Severance occurs when the affirmative attempts to jettison part of their plan. They try to do this when creating a severance permutation, or if the negative argues that part of their plan is extra-topical, they may argue that they should be able to jettison that part of their plan.

Severance permutation A permutation is a combination of the plan and all of the counterplan or a combination of all of the plan and a part of the counterplan. If the affirmative eliminates part of the plan in the permutation (for example, the part that spends money), this is a severance permutation.

Shell The shell is the basic outline of the off-case argument that is presented in the first negative constructive.

Sign posting. Sign-posting is using the flow to go point by point through your opponent’s arguments. When you reference what specific arguments you are answering, and on what flow, you are sign posting for the judge so that he or she can put your answers in the right place.

Solvency Solvency is a basic affirmative stock issue that explains how the affirmative plan will fix – or solve –the problem(the harm) that the affirmative has identified

Speaker award. The person with the greatest speaker point totals at the end of a tournament is the tournament’s top speaker and receives a speaker award. The person with the second highest total speaker points is the second speaker. Usual ten to twenty speaker awards are given.

Speaker points. In every debate a judge assigns speaker points to each debater. Speaker points are rather subjective.

Squad. In this text, the squad refers to everyone from your school’s debate program. Sometime this is also called the debate “team,” though the word “team” in this text refers to a two person team – you and your partner.

Standards In a topicality debate, there has to be some means for the judge to decide which interpretation of the resolution, or a specific word, that the judge should accept. The standards part of the topicality debate governs this decision, with both teams introducing opposing standards for the judge to decide the debate on. Negatives will often argue for the most limiting standard, whereas affirmatives will argue that the judge should be more reasonable and allow common sense interpretations of the term .

Status quo/squo The “status quo” is Latin for “the present system.” Affirmatives attack the status quo, and negatives, unless they run a counterplan or a kritik with an alternative, generally defend the status quo. Often, debaters simply refer to it as the “squo.

Stock issues Stock issues is one of the popular paradigms. According to this Paradigm, affirmatives must prove each of the stock issues – inherency, harms, significance, solvency, and topicality or they lose the debate.

Strategy. A strategy is a means of achieving a specific goal. Debaters often loosely use the word strategy to simply reference what arguments they are going to run in the debate. But, strategy refers to more than that – it refers to a consideration to how that package of arguments will advance throughout the debate to secure victory.

Structural inherency Structural inherency is the idea that there must be some legal barrier currently in place that prevents the adoption of the affirmative’s plan. Affirmative passage of the plan would effectively remove the barrier.

Switch side debate Switch side debate is debate where debaters argue both sides of the resolution by alternative between the affirmative and negative. Switch-side debate is the standard way that debate is currently practiced.

T

Tab room. The tab room is where the pairings for the tournament are produced and the results are calculated.

Tabula Rasa Tabula rasa is Latin for “blank slate.” Generally, debaters wish judges to be “tabula rasa – or “tab” for short. They want the judge to leave as many predispositions as possible at home and judge the debate solely based on the arguments made by the debaters.

Tag. The tag is the brief statement that precedes the card that is a basic summary of the card.

Take-out. A take-out is a strictly defensive argument that refutes the claim made by the other side. For example, if your opponent claims that economic decline causes a war and you say that economic decline doesn’t cause a war, then you have made a take-out.

Team. In this text, a debate team refers to two individuals – you and your partner. People often refer to the “debate team” as the squad.

Theory. See “debate theory.”

Top heavy Top heavy refers to the notion that debaters spend a lot of time giving overviews for their arguments and strongly answering the first few arguments that their opposition makes while ignoring – or at least poorly answering – many of the arguments at the bottom of the flow.

Topic There are two ways that the “topic” is defined. First, the topic can be defined as a one word statement that summarizes what is being debated. For example, many says that the 2014-14 topic is “oceans.” The “topic” also refers to the “resolution.” The 2014-15 policy debate resolution is: The United States federal government should substantially increase its non-military exploration and/or development of the Earth’s oceans.

Threshold A threshold argument is similar to a brink argument. When presenting a disadvantage, negatives will argue that the economic decline triggered by plan will push us over the threshold to economic decline.

Time frame The time-frame refers to how quickly the impact scenario that is isolated by one of the teams will happen. Both teams will usually at least assert that the time-frame for their impact happens quickly and will argue that the judge should give it primary consideration for that reason.

Topicality Topicality is a negative argument that essentially contends that the affirmative’s plan does not fit within the meaning of the resolution. For example, if the affirmative only increases the number of people exploring the ocean by one, the negative will argue that it is not a substantial increase.

Tournament. The tournament is the place where debates occur. All tournaments have a given number of preliminary debates where everyone participates and then elimination rounds where two person teams debate until the last one is undefeated.

Turn When you turn an argument you say they opposite. If the other side argues you spend money, and you argue you save money, you are turning their argument. There are three types of turns – link turns, internal link turns, and impact turns. Be careful not to double-turn yourself.

U

Uniqueness Uniqueness refers to the part of the disadvantage that argues that the disadvantage will not occur absent the adoption of the affirmative plan (or negative counterplan or kritik alternative). Uniqueness is one of the most hotly contested issues in modern policy debate.

Underview. An underview is essentially an overview that is given at the end of the speech rather than the beginning. Underviews can help focus the judge, but arguments that are made in underviews are usually best advanced in overviews because that is when you have judge’s closest attention.

V

Violation The violation is the part of the topicality argument that says the affirmative plan is inconsistent with one of the words in the resolution. For example, if the affirmative only increases the number of people serving in the Armed Forces by one, the negative will argue that it is not a substantial increase.

Voting issue. Both teams can argue that any given issue is a voting issue – an issue that the judge should vote on before anything else. Mostly, teams argue that topicality is a voting issue.

W

  1. A warrant is a reason that is given in support of a claim. For examplClaim – economic decline causes war. Warrant—World War II followed from a period of economic decline.

 

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