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Blubber

Blubber

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Published by Dillon Johnson

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Published by: Dillon Johnson on Oct 21, 2011
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06/03/2012

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Critiques are valuable arguments for several reasons:

• Critiques are highly generic. They can be applied to a large variety of cas-

es. The resolution always makes critical assumptions, and the critique

provides a general argument you can use to attack the resolution.

The Process of Critique

65

Thus, in the example above, whenever an affrmative team opposing

educational changes in its plan endorses testing, this argument can be

used against the affrmative.

• Critiques have multiple consequences. They can minimize the affrmative

advantage while also providing an argument to weigh against what-

ever advantage the affrmative claims. The critique of testing above is

effective against the affrmative’s harms, solvency, and plan.

• Critiques integrate many arguments into one position. Because the critique

frequently applies to the affrmative case as well as the plan, the nega-

tive has a position in the debate that is coherent, as opposed to being

composed of unrelated ideas. For example, the educational reform the

affrmative proposes runs into the critique of testing at almost every

level of its presentation.

• Critiques frequently have a priori implications. An a priori argument is

one that must be resolved frst, usually before the substantive issues of

the debate are resolved. In our example of testing, the negative could

argue that policies that reinforce racism or sexism are so evil that they

need to be avoided absolutely. If testing is racist or sexist, it should

be rejected regardless of substantive benefts that might result from

increased testing.

• Critiques frequently avoid uniqueness problems. Affrmative debaters fre-

quently rely on some element of the current system to implement its

plans or to prove why new policies would better achieve the goals of

the present system. Critique authors frequently argue, in effect, that

the goals of the present system should be rejected at every opportuni-

ty. If the arguments against testing were presented as a disadvantage,

the affrmative could claim that we already use testing (not unique)

in education at almost every level, so the affrmative does not, on bal-

ance, increase testing as an important part of the educational system.

But with a critique the situation is somewhat different. For example,

if testing is wrong then we should reject it every time we fnd it. In

addition, many critique authors argue that the most important place

to reject accepted ideas is in individual settings, such as a debate, thus

66

The Code of the Debater

making the critique unique each time a judge has the opportunity to

reject the affrmative.

• Critiques shift the debate to negative ground. Affrmatives are used to

debating on their ground: the case evidence and the implications of

the plan. Critiques offer negatives the opportunity to shift the focus

of the debate to an issue they are more familiar with: the intricacies

of the critique. This can give the negative an advantage in the round.

For example, in our example above, instead of talking about the af-

frmative’s issues of student achievement, the debate can be moved

to negative ground by discussing the ways in which achievement is

measured and determined.

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