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Rebuttal and Constructive Guide*
*This guide is written primarily for debaters with at least a year of experience in LD and familiarity with basic flow jargon and techniques in LD. It is an introduction to basic strategy and decision making, especially for debaters who typically run traditional cases in flow rounds. I will include resources and explanations of advanced techniques, especially as they relate to the strategies in this guide (so far: Ground Theory?). This is a work in progress. In LD there are imbalances between the Affirmative and the Negative. The major imbalance is the amount of time you have for each speech. Basic strategy in rebuttal seeks to exploit the strengths and weaknesses of having differing amounts of time in each speech in order to win the round.
Affirmative – AC
Rebuttal strategy should be your primary consideration for the composition of any constructive, AC or NC. Because more time is allocated for the AC than any other affirmative speech, in the 1AR and 2AR your focus will be on manipulating what you already read in the AC, rather than trying to win based on the strength of new arguments in the 1AR (although you will still make new arguments in the 1AR while responding to the NC). Therefore it’s important to remember that you are often committed to winning your framework, because you cannot rely on having the time to impact to your opponent’s. This is because your claims and warrants may need to be fundamentally different from the ones in your constructive in order to impact to a negative standard, depending on how different it is from your own standard. For example, it’s usually implausible to run a consequentialist, impact based AC and then link to a negative deontology framework. Moreover, some negative frameworks skew ground or are abusive. I will explain different approaches to the AC and the strengths and weaknesses of each, in terms of which strategies they make more or less viable. I typically recommend a Framework heavy AC, so I’ll start there. Framework heavy ACs The strategical value of a framework (FW) is its ability to control access to offense and impacts. Winning the framework forces your opponent to impact through your framework in order to negate the resolution. The first major choice you have in the composition of the AC is the content and length of the framework. Although every framework is different, by “FW heavy AC” I’m referring to a framework which is typically lengthy and thoroughly carded (~1 - 1.5 or 2 pages of FW, including definitions and observations, etc.). It also narrowly restricts offense to certain types of impacts. Typically, these frameworks are based on a philosophical system. If you write a framework heavy AC, keep the following in mind while drafting the FW:
that there can be multiple warrants and impacts for a single claim. the most important consideration is how well your arguments link to your framework. In order to prove that a claim is true. I assume that you know what a contention is. You will almost certainly use less contentions than that in a framework heavy AC. i. Restrict offense as much as possible. with each contention having a different theme. after we discussed the strength of using multiple warrants and impacts as opposed to multiple arguments/contentions. you only need to extend or win ONE of your warrants. It’s especially vital that you understand warrants. Ideally these should be separate. if too many different arguments can link into it. . although they should still link. It should be X. if you have a claim. It is common to see 4-6 contentions. A good benchmark is 3-4 warrants for the criterion alone. and two impacts. therefore Z(s). therefore Z. warrant and impact like this: X. It illustrates well how to do this. but remember that 4-6 contentions is 4-6 groups of arguments. argument diversity on the AC has been a popular strategy. in LD this is sometimes called a “tag.e. The claim is the statement of what you are arguing. It’s extremely important that you understand the parts of an argument very well. carded warrants which specifically address the benefits or necessity of using your framework. Winning the framework won’t help you unless you link to it. the claim. you only need to win one of the warrants in order to have access to both of the impacts. If the standard is too general. This makes it very easy for you to outweigh in the 2AR. If you’re not running a lot of FW then it’s better to prefer arguments with the largest impacts. Make your impacts explicit in-case. You’re attempting to create a situation where only you have access to impacts in the round. and the significance of this fact for your purposes in a debate round. but avoid being abusive. Therefore. it is also common to see contentions with only one argument. Contentions (in a FW Heavy AC) Of course. then you are ceding some of your advantage. There are three parts to any argument (not just in LD). and can tailor your impacts specifically to your framework. At the end of this guide. The impact is why the argument matters.January 2012 Corey Long 1. warrants and impacts. or your type of framework. However this is misleading. and for review. even in a lay round. because Y(s). because Y. diverse impacts to your FW for your arguments.. Therefore I’ll pause here to make sure that the jargon is clarified. Exploit the fact that you can write multiple. Aristotle summarized claim. I’ve added a contention from a case which Raghav sent to me while I was coaching last year. 2. but this can be far more effective than it may seem if done properly. For a long time. I elaborate on this point in the next section on Standard ACs. Warrant the framework as much as possible. *This part of the guide will assume familiarity with warrants and impacts. three warrants.” Warrants are reasons why the claim is true. However.
it’s probably best to read less FW in the AC. Instead. most impacts are analytic. since winning it will not give you the kind of advantage which is intended in this strategy. To deal with this concern. They’re used especially to explain how different pieces of evidence link in order to form an argument. *An analytic is your personal interpretation of evidence. An argument being “analytic” isn’t an excuse for inadequate evidence. Running a lot of FW will sometimes bait the Negative into Ground Theory. You need to be prepared to defend your FW from any claims that it may skew ground. or how arguments link in general. Moreover. Read the warrant closely and look for errors in reasoning or reasoning which requires more evidence than your opponent has offered. as it can be run in any round. your lack of argument diversity will hurt you. Your advocacy will be unified. This isn’t exactly a weakness as much as it is a consideration. This is of great strategical benefit in rebuttal. Usually.” Don’t mistake an argument without a card as an “analytical argument” even if your opponent labels it that. especially the 2AR. when using a stock case. you can save time reading analytics*. it will benefit you to have less diverse argumentation as that will make it easier to “sell a story” to your judge. focus on improving your warrants and impacts. Finally. or a lay round. your ability to control offense will compensate for your lack of diversity. Remember that if your opponent has no access to the framework. My reasoning is that if you win a strong framework. it is more difficult to prepare for a strong FW than to prepare for actual contentions because contentions are more predictable. If you plan to use stock argumentation and a stock framework. Also. And if you’re going to take the time to learn theory. on either side of the resolution. If you’re going to a national tournament then you need to be able to respond to theory regardless. and use that time for more warrants and impacts. which will allow you to control offense. but some adaptation will also be required). Weaknesses of a FW heavy AC If you are heavily prepped out or the opponent happens to be very prepared. clear and easy to vote on. consider using non-standard or non-stock argumentation. I recommend making few arguments (possibly only 1 contention) with multiple warrants and impacts. consider preparing some theory shells for your own . Strengths of a FW heavy AC The primary strength is that it’s more likely that you’ll win the Framework because of your warrants. which are necessary in order to explain contentions and arguments which are not similar to one another. Often debaters will mislabel their own personal arguments as “analytics. if you’re in a flay round (in which your judge is comfortable with some speed and progressive argumentation. It will be difficult for your opponent to make turns in the 1NR because they will have to allocate most of their time to your FW.January 2012 Corey Long Because you’ve allocated much of your time to the framework. you only need to extend 1 warrant and then impact it in order to win.
contentions which rarely garner offense for you in-round) in order to add warrants or impacts to a stronger argument.. but rather the impact. Standard AC A standard AC uses less FW—about 1/4 of the case. especially if you’re confident in your ability to beat the Neg on impact. In addition to Raghav’s contention. Rather. consider cutting weaker contentions (i. Framework and General Strategy If you read a more standard AC. Prefer contentions which have the largest impact to any consequentialist framework. your strategy will no longer be one that seeks to deny negative offense by controlling the FW. as opposed to ~1/2 of the case in a FW heavy AC. strike a balance between argument diversity and thorough warrants. Basically. In regards to the FW. The basic premise of the strategy is the same as in a FW heavy AC—the AC exploits the relative length of a 6 minute AC compared to a 3-4 minute NC. it should still be warranted (just not as thoroughly) and you should plan to use it. some negative frameworks skew ground and you’ll want a framework that you can defend. This is often preferable to simply increasing the number of arguments that you have. . If that’s the case. you’ll execute a strategy which primarily looks to outweigh on impact. which limits your ability to outweigh. you’re increasing the odds that you’ll have access to its impact by being able to extend one of the warrants.e. Remember that the diversity of your offense is not key. and a few notes on when to use it. then you must also adjust your decision making to reflect the strengths of your case. Contentions Because your strategy will be to outweigh on impact. I’ll also add a review of Ground Theory to the end of this guide. Also. and we’ll discuss how you should write your case in order to reflect the advantages of a standard AC. when you deem appropriate. because the impact may not be as large. While writing your contentions. your contentions should reflect this. Again. It can be as generic as you’d like. you’ll find that some have stronger impacts and warrants than others. There will still be situations where winning the framework will enable you to deny negative offense. Often if you write a case which contains 5 contentions.January 2012 Corey Long use. By adding additional warrants to an argument. unless you’re running a deontological FW. this composition makes certain strategies more or less viable. or if you plan on running rather diverse argumentation.
We’re going to look at each part of the 1AR. and not simply a rebuttal guide. we’ll discuss what to do in the 1AR and 2AR in the following sections. With that in mind. The major mistake of most 1ARs is focusing too much on coverage and not enough on offense. 1AR | First Affirmative Rebuttal The 1AR is considered the most difficult speech in LD because you only have 4 minutes to respond to a 7 minute NR. such as extending and impacting. gain offense. so starting on the AC makes obvious strategic sense. You can give a better 1AR if your constructive is designed to make your rebuttals effective. Of course. This is because the goal of your 1AR is to give you access to enough offense in order to outweigh in the 2AR. and outweigh in order to win the round. noting what you should be doing in order to execute your strategy and what you should avoid. going NC then AC makes your strategy less viable than if you go AC then NC. the reason that this guide is a constructive and rebuttal guide. by executing a strategy. It can be difficult to cover both sides of the flow adequately. The first decision you have to make is which side of the flow to start on. It’s okay if the negative makes an extension as long as you can outweigh. start with what is of most strategic value to you. it’s imperative that you win the FW debate. ideally you won’t mismanage your time but think of going AC then NC as extra insurance that you can still win the round even if you missed something on the NC. is because in rebuttal your goal is to execute a strategy which begins in the constructive. but lack an understanding of what exactly they’re trying to accomplish when they give a rebuttal or make an argument in rebuttal. I advise that you begin on the AC before responding to the NC if you’re running a standard case. However. However. 1AR | Framework .January 2012 Corey Long Affirmative Rebuttals I decided to write this guide because I felt like many of the rebuttals which I flowed at tournaments and in practice lacked direction and overall strategy. Almost all of your offense will come out of the AC. If your AC is FW heavy then I advise that you go Framework AC NC. the 1AR will become significantly easier once you become proficient at identifying which arguments you need to make in order to execute your strategy. The reasoning is the same. therefore you should address both FWs before moving on to the AC. Generally. If you mismanage your time. In this case. Many debaters are knowledgeable in regard to debate techniques and mechanics.
January 2012 Corey Long Add a note about reading it in its entirety vs each section Ground theory Raghav’s contention I need more examples .
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