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May 14, 2010 / compassioninpolitics

Strategic and Innovative Arguments

Someone was curious about innovative arguments on cross-x and I made this reply (note: it references other people in the thread)

Seven ways to create argument innovation in policy focused debate:
1) Counterplans (lots of innovation potential here)
2) Creative argument combinations
3) Backfile checks (preferably with new twists)
4) New nuance, distinctions, framing, and twists to arguments
5) More in-depth research–allows argumentative flexibility
6) Both theory and framework arguments
7) The element of surprise

For the affirmative specifically:
1) Recuting articles with longer cards with multiple warrants and great distinctions
2) Multiple solvency mechanisms. (ie credibilility)
3) Multiple and diverse add on advantages
4) Framing the debate in your 1ac to your advantage (framing inevitability of your scenario in the status quo is one way–ie economic downturn). Its try or die.
5) Lots of offense in the 2ac. (recently this has meant the impact turn)
6) Theory & framework arguments.
7) Go old school with an argument or two.
8] Smart pre-empts in the 1ac.

More on innovation, strategy, and improvement:
Research, watching great debaters, practice rounds, tournament rounds and brainstorming drive lots of innovation too.

Model yourself after pattern in great debaters–and make them uniquely your own. One way to do this is to look at the high school case list wiki. At this point I would focus on the TOC list on the wiki–as its smaller in size and they have demonstrated a significant degree of strategic acumen. What did they do that was smart?

After reading the 1acs I think you’ll find they share a couple strategic characteristics:
1) 1acs had multiple ways to access impacts.
2) framed inevitability well (they also probably had a your disads are all unique card)–this enables teams to say “we own uniqueness” or “we control the direction the link”–which is functionally like boxing out the other team in basketball.
3) they had a couple decent natural answers to counterplans embedded in their aff (US is key cards)
–I dont know what the equivalent to states counterplan will be next year–because most cases logically seem that they can only be solved by the US (not Japan, Europe, or the UN–unless the aff just makes a bad mistake and doesn’t claim US specific advantages). My guess is process counterplans and advantage counterplans will be more popular–and both of these are harder to pre-empt than agent counterplans
4) had some nuance and twist to the tag, what they underlined, and probably how they extended the argument.
5) those with ethics arguments created a ballpark argument–it framed the ballot–it framed the choice (even it it didn’t say “use the ballot to do X”)
6) about 1/3 to 1/2 set up some way to frame impacts in the debate (perhaps more–and generally in some underview).
7) those that won and went on to elims knew where they had strengths and where they had weaknesses. (For instance on the treaties topic–we probably weren’t going to win 100% risk of our genocide impacts–but we were probably going to win a decent risk of whatever impacts we read to multilateralism and US exceptionalism. Knowing this going in–can help you make decisions for the 2ac.)

A couple of other ideas about strategy and argument innovation:
I would also suggest looking at the literature on criticism of cost benefit analysis or prediction (I have to think public policy and/or political science contains its own critique of CBA thinking–perhaps one before or after the complexity/chaos theory Ankur outlines above–although thats certainly a decent one). Look at different ethical systems. These can fundamentally change the direction of the debate–but don’t change it from a policy debate.

Similar to the scenario Ankur described with China–both trilateral relations disads (which turns link turns into links) and “goldilocks” disads can perform the same function (not too hot or too cold–aka change bad). The only “goldilocks” disad I’ve seen are federalism and the economy–I’m sure someone has done something similar with politics however. Unfortunately–these disads are hopelessly non-unique because the universe is dynamic–things change. (ie the economy won’t stay at 3.5% rate of growth forever).

Think about how innovation would occur in another areas in academia, technology, etc….

Link to the original post and thread.


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