Bad Framework Arguments are Bad- Part 2

Part 1 attacked some analytic arguments people make on framework, in this part we will focus on some of the “evidence” presented by both sides and examine why it puts the capital B in Bad.



1. “Organizational decision making”. Lets start with the card people read on this

Because organizations matter. Forget the stories of heroic individuals written in your middle school civics textbook. Nothing of great importance is ever accomplished by a single person. Thomas Edison had lab assistants, George Washington’s army had thousands of troops, and Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity had over a million staff and volunteers when she passed away. Even Jesus had a 12-man posse. In different ways and in vastly different contexts, these were all organizations. Pick your favorite historical figure or contemporary hero, and I can almost guarantee that their greatest successes occurred as part of an organization. Even the most charismatic, visionary and inspiring leaders have to be able to manage people, or find someone who can do it for them. International development work is no different. Regardless of your issue of interest — whether private sector investment, rural development, basic health care, government capacity, girls’ education, or democracy promotion — your work will almost always involve operating within an organization. How well or poorly that organization functions will have dramatic implications for the results of your work. A well-run organization makes better decisions about staffing and operations; learns more from its mistakes; generates resources and commitment from external stakeholders; and structures itself to better promote its goals. None of this is easy or straightforward. We screw it up fairly often. Complaints about NGO management and government bureaucracy are not new. We all recognize the need for improvement. In my mind, the greatest challenges and constraints facing international development are managerial and organizational, rather than technical. Put another way: the greatest opportunities and leverage points lie in how we run our organizations. Yet our discourse about the international development industry focuses largely on how much money donors should commit to development and what technical solutions (e.g. deworming, elections, roads, whatever) deserve the funds. We give short shrift to the questions around how organizations can actually turn those funds into the technical solutions. The closest we come is to discuss the incentives facing organizations due to donor or political requirements. I think we can go deeper in addressing the management and organizational issues mentioned above. This thinking led me to an MPA degree because it straddles that space between organizations and issues. A degree in economics or international affairs could teach you all about the problems in the world, and you may even learn how to address them. But if you don’t learn how to operate in an organization, you may not be able to channel the resources needed to implement solutions. On the flip side, a typical degree in management offers relevant skills, but without the content knowledge necessary to understand the context and the issues. I think the MPA, if you choose the right program for you and use your time well, can do both.


I would think no further elaboration than just reading this evidence would be required to show why its a bad argument, but nevertheless here we are. So lets put 20 seconds on the clock Tosh style and go over the basic reasons its bad


1. umm… cause its not about the government? In fact, its the EXACT OPPOSITE- its about why people need non governmental organizations to achieve their goals. Organizations like say, the black panthers, the labor movement, the anything other than USFG policy making group

2. Its not about debate- it doesn’t say we should simulate policy making or focus on a resolution, it says you should get an MPA degree (which I had to look up to figure out what it was). In fact, it denigrates the focus on things like “economics ” or “international affairs”- you know, the things policy debate teams want to talk about- and says instead we should talk about how to community organize- Thanks Obama

Actually, I’m just gonna stop there because what more do you need to say? What is the possible rationale for reading this card? I can’t figure it out. If anyone wants to defend this in the comments maybe we can have a more in depth discussion, but really, what are you doing reading this?


So what would an effective 2AC to this card look like? For this one I don’t think you need to read any evidence, just make some analytics explaining the points above- that its not a defense of discussing the state/government policy making, and that you do teach organizational skills for non state activists.


2. Steinberg and Freeley

Steinberg and Freeley 13, * David, Lecturer in Communication studies and rhetoric. Advisor to Miami Urban Debate League. Director of Debate at U Miami, Former President of CEDA. And ** Austin, attorney who focuses on criminal, personal injury and civil rights law, JD, Suffolk University, Argumentation and Debate, Critical Thinking for Reasoned Decision Making, 121-4

Debate is a means of settling differences, so there must be a controversy, a difference of opinion or a conflict of interest before there can be a debate. If everyone is in agreement on a feet or value or policy, there is no need or opportunity for debate; the matter can be settled by unanimous consent. Thus, for example, it would be pointless to attempt to debate “Resolved: That two plus two equals four,” because there is simply no controversy about this state­ment. Controversy is an essential prerequisite of debate. Where there is no clash of ideas, proposals, interests, or expressed positions of issues, there is no debate. Controversy invites decisive choice between competing positions. Debate cannot produce effective decisions without clear identification of a question or questions to be answered. For example, general argument may occur about the broad topic of illegal immigration. How many illegal immigrants live in the United States? What is the impact of illegal immigration and immigrants on our economy? What is their impact on our communities? Do they commit crimes? Do they take jobs from American workers? Do they pay taxes? Do they require social services? Is it a problem that some do not speak English? Is it the responsibility of employers to discourage illegal immigration by not hiring undocumented workers? Should they have the opportunity to gain citizenship? Does illegal immigration pose a security threat to our country? Do illegal immigrants do work that American workers are unwilling to do? Are their rights as workers and as human beings at risk due to their status? Are they abused by employers, law enforcement, housing, and businesses? How are their families impacted by their status? What is the moral and philosophical obligation of a nation state to maintain its borders? Should we build a wall on the Mexican border, establish a national identification card, or enforce existing laws against employers? Should we invite immigrants to become U.S. citizens? Surely you can think of many more concerns to be addressed by a conversation about the topic area of illegal immigration. Participation in this “debate” is likely to be emotional and intense. However, it is not likely to be productive or useful without focus on a particular question and identification of a line demarcating sides in the controversy. To be discussed and resolved effectively, controversies are best understood when seated clearly such that all parties to the debate share an understanding about the objec­tive of the debate. This enables focus on substantive and objectively identifiable issues facilitating comparison of competing argumentationleading to effective decisions. Vague understanding results in unfocused deliberation and poor deci­sions, general feelings of tension without opportunity for resolution, frustration, and emotional distress, as evidenced by the failure of the U.S. Congress to make substantial progress on the immigration debate. Of course, arguments may be presented without disagreement. For exam­ple, claims are presented and supported within speeches, editorials, and advertise­ments even without opposing or refutational response. Argumentation occurs in a range of settings from informal to formal, and may not call upon an audi­ence or judge to make a forced choice among competing claims. Informal dis­course occurs as conversation or panel discussion without demanding a decision about a dichotomous or yes/no question. However, by definition, debate requires “reasoned judgment on a proposition. The proposition is a statement about which competing advocates will offer alternative (pro or con) argumenta­tion calling upon their audience or adjudicator to decide. The proposition pro­vides focus for the discourse and guides the decision process. Even when a decision will be made through a process of compromise, it is important to iden­tify the beginning positions of competing advocates to begin negotiation and movement toward a center, or consensus position. It is frustrating and usually unproductive to attempt to make a decision when deciders are unclear as to what the decision is about. The proposition may be implicit in some applied debates (“Vote for me!”); however, when a vote or consequential decision is called for (as in the courtroom or in applied parliamentary debate) it is essential that the proposition be explicitly expressed (“the defendant is guilty!”). In aca­demic debate, the proposition provides essential guidance for the preparation of the debaters prior to the debate, the case building and discourse presented during the debate, and the decision to be made by the debate judge after the debate. Someone disturbed by the problem of a growing underclass of poorly educated, socially disenfranchised youths might observe, “Public schools are doing a terri­ble job! They’ are overcrowded, and many teachers are poorly qualified in their subject areas. Even the best teachers can do little more than struggle to maintain order in their classrooms.” That same concerned citizen, facing a complex range of issues, might arrive at an unhelpful decision, such as “We ought to do some­thing about this” or, worse, “It’s too complicated a problem to deal with.” Groups of concerned citizens worried about the state of public education could join together to express their frustrations, anger, disillusionment, and emotions regarding the schools, but without a focus for their discussions, they could easily agree about the sorry state of education without finding points of clarity or potential solutions. A gripe session would follow. But if a precise question is posed—such as “What can be done to improve public education?”—then a more profitable area of discussion is opened up simply by placing a focus on the search for a concrete solution step. One or more judgments can be phrased in the form of debate propositions, motions for parliamentary debate, or bills for legislative assemblies, The statements “Resolved: That the federal government should implement a program of charter schools in at-risk communities” and “Resolved; That the state of Florida should adopt a school voucher program” more clearly identify specific ways of dealing with educational problems in a manageable form, suitable for debate. They provide specific policies to be investigated and aid discussants in identifying points of difference. This focus contributes to better and more informed decision making with the potential for better results. In aca­demic debate, it provides better depth of argumentation and enhanced opportu­nity for reaping the educational benefits of participation. In the next section, we will consider the challenge of framing the proposition for debate, and its role in the debate. To have a productive debate, which facilitates effective decision making by directing and placing limits on the decision to be made, the basis for argument should be clearly defined. If we merely talk about a topic, such as ‘”homeless­ness,” or “abortion,” Or “crime,” or “global warming,” we are likely to have an interesting discussion but not to establish a profitable basis for argument. For example, the statement “Resolved: That the pen is mightier than the sword” is debatable, yet by itself fails to provide much basis for dear argumen­tation. If we take this statement to mean Iliad the written word is more effec­tive than physical force for some purposes, we can identify a problem area: the comparative effectiveness of writing or physical force for a specific purpose, perhaps promoting positive social change. (Note that “loose” propositions, such as the example above, may be defined by their advocates in such a way as to facilitate a clear contrast of competing sides; through definitions and debate they “become” clearly understood statements even though they may not begin as such. There are formats for debate that often begin with this sort of proposition. However, in any debate, at some point, effective and meaningful discussion relies on identification of a clearly stated or understood proposition.) Back to the example of the written word versus physical force. Although we now have a general subject, we have not yet stated a problem. It is still too broad, too loosely worded to promote well-organized argument. What sort of writing are we concerned with—poems, novels, government documents, web­site development, advertising, cyber-warfare, disinformation, or what? What does it mean to be “mightier” in this context? What kind of physical force is being compared—fists, dueling swords, bazookas, nuclear weapons, or what? A more specific question might be, “Would a mutual defense treaty or a visit by our fleet be more effective in assuring Laurania of our support in a certain crisis?” The basis for argument could be phrased in a debate proposition such as “Resolved: That the United States should enter into a mutual defense treaty with Laurania.” Negative advocates might oppose this proposition by arguing that fleet maneuvers would be a better solution. This is not to say that debates should completely avoid creative interpretation of the controversy by advo­cates, or that good debates cannot occur over competing interpretations of the controversy; in fact, these sorts of debates may be very engaging. The point is that debate is best facilitated by the guidance provided by focus on a particular point of difference, which will be outlined in the following discussion.



I have a few problems with the way people use this evidence in debate, but a lot of it boils down to “we can read this card and then we don’t have to explain anything”. In that light, much of my criticism should be read as an urge for a counterplan- you can make these same arguments, but make them better, by explaining them yourself.


For me, the key part of the evidence is this

To be discussed and resolved effectively, controversies are best understood when seated clearly such that all parties to the debate share an understanding about the objec­tive of the debate. This enables focus on substantive and objectively identifiable issues facilitating comparison of competing argumentationleading to effective decisions. Vague understanding results in unfocused deliberation and poor deci­sions, general feelings of tension without opportunity for resolution, frustration, and emotional distress, as evidenced by the failure of the U.S. Congress to make substantial progress on the immigration debate.


What most K teams are saying, with varying degrees of success and clarity, is that these decisions are not in fact objective- that the issues that constitute “substantive” are actually constructed for someone and for some purpose. Since K arguments are about rendering previously unchallenged assumptions suspect, this evidence does little to actually prove these assumptions but instead merely makes explicit that these assumptions are being made. Now, I will fully admit most K teams do not do a good job of attacking this piece of evidence for this specific reason, but the general thrust of their arguments usually does call these kind of questions into assumption. A good place to start would be with the Butler article defending academic writing, I think her criticism of “common sense” very much mirrors the assumptions many policy teams running framework fall victim to. What “resolved effectively”, “share an understanding about the objective of the debate”, “Substantive and objectively identifiable issues”- all these phrases can be deconstructed to show that there is in fact no agreement on what they mean, and that the interpretation of these phrases teams running a policy framework make are not objective but are in fact political. Here is a usable card in that context if you read a race affirmative that makes the same argument



More to the point, the demand to be reasonable is a disingenuous demand. Black folks have been reasoning with white people forever. Racism is unreasonable, and that means reason has limited currency in the fight against it. Black folks understand, just like white folks do, that reason should be wielded as a tactic, not adhered to as a rule.

Ultimately, by casting us all as irrational leftist contrarians, Goldberg begins to sound a similar note to Jonathan Chait, who in the face of Coates’ staggering evidence of America’s historical and contemporary failure to address the race problem, concludes that Coates is simply, and troublingly, angry and pessimistic.

Cue Pharrell’s “Happy,” and let’s all cut a jig.

Rather than threatening people of color into capitulation, why don’t those on the liberal left see these incursions and schisms as a call to put their big-girl panties on and get their shit together? Accusing us of being divisive in left politics is a classic silencing tactic. Unchecked racism and the white liberal sanctimony that makes it possible are divisive. The left got 99 problems, but radicalism ain’t one.


If I was going to read evidence on framework, my goal would be to clash with/engage the K evidence other teams would be reading to indict framework. The problem with most “debate coach” evidence I see people read is that it doesn’t really do this- it elaborates the policy side of things but it doesn’t anticipate or engage with the critical arguments that are going to be coming back at you(a revelation that will no doubt shock k debaters).


As an example, here is what I think is one of the better cards explaining the critique of the rational actor policy making process. It takes apart many of the claims made in cards like the one above and the cards most people would read in response don’t go to the next level of engaging the argument, they just sort of repeat the debate good mantra


Greg Marston, Bachelor of Social Science (QUT), PHD (UQ) Social policy and Discourse Analysis , 2k4 p. 14-15

The positivist paradigm informs an idealized rational actor understanding of the policy-making process. The rational approach to policy-making is an extension of particular forms of positivism and neo-positivism that seek to purge the social scientist of values (Bryman, 1988, p.14). This idea of reason without values is maintained through instrumental and technical rationality. Instrumental rationality in policy-making can be defined as follows: ‘in any organization there might be a number of ways of reaching goals; and when faced with the need to make a choice between alternatives the rational decision maker chooses the alternative most likely to achieve the desired outcome’ (Ham and Hill, 1993, p.77). The idealistic representation of policy as a form of ‘rational decision making’ between available choices and options is problematic for a number of reasons. The limitations of rational approaches to policy-making arise from an insufficient account of the political context, insufficient emphasis on the participants in the process (and their conflicting interests) and the ‘ideal type’ nature of the models themselves (Dalton et al, 1996, p.17). A positivist view of policy-making asserts policy solutions as universal truths waiting to be discovered by the so-called policy ‘expert’. Hillyard and Watson (1996, p.324) argue that this perception denies the constitutive role of discourse. In short, a positivist epistemology is not an adequate position for researchers and policy analysts aiming to explore and understand how policy meanings are discursively constructed, how regulatory functions of the state are being transformed and how policy actors represent and articulate policy problems and solutions. By focusing on ‘objective’ outcomes and grand narratives of ‘progress’, ‘rationality’ and ‘truth’, we remain blind to the multifaceted nature of policy-making processes. Positivist accounts of the social world do not recognize the constructive nature of discursive processes that produce knowledge and identities, or how conflict over policy meanings is manifested within specific policy environments. While not denying the place of positivist informed research in social planning, this paradigm is limited when it comes to understanding questions of power as experienced in the production, reproduction and transformation of policy agendas. As Yanow (1996, p.6) argues. ‘positivist knowledge does not give us information about meanings made by actors in a situation. When we read a policy we see more than just marks on a page. we hear more than just sound waves’. Exploring the discursive dimensions of policy-making requires alternative theoretical frameworks and epistemologies that are able to capture the processes of subjectification and the relationship between agency, identity and discourse in local policy contexts. The various strands of critical social theory and post-structuralism are areas of theorizing that offer social policy researchers different ways of thinking about language and culture.



3. People often read a “dialogue” impact that illustrates this pretty well- what that evidence says is debate should be a dialogue….


Debate as a dialogue sets an argumentative table, where all parties receive a relatively fair opportunity to voice their position. Anything that fails to allow participants to have their position articulated denies one side of the argumentative table a fair hearing. The affirmative side is set by the topic and fairness requirements. While affirmative teams have recently resisted affirming the topic, in fact, the topic selection process is rigorous, taking the relative ground of each topic as its central point of departure.¶ Setting the affirmative reciprocally sets the negative. The negative crafts approaches to the topic consistent with affirmative demands. The negative crafts disadvantages, counter-plans, and critical arguments premised on the arguments that the topic allows for the affirmative team. According to fairness norms, each side sits at a relatively balanced argumentative table.¶ When one side takes more than its share, competitive equity suffers. However, it also undermines the respect due to the other involved in the dialogue. When one side excludes the other, it fundamentally denies the personhood of the other participant (Ehninger, 1970, p. 110). A pedagogy of debate as dialogue takes this respect as a fundamental component. A desire to be fair is a fundamental condition of a dialogue that takes the form of a demand for equality of voice. Far from being a banal request for links to a disadvantage, fairness is a demand for respect, a demand to be heard, a demand that a voice backed by literally months upon months of preparation, research, and critical thinking not be silencedAffirmative cases that suspend basic fairness norms operate to exclude particular negative strategies. Unprepared, one side comes to the argumentative table unable to meaningfully participate in a dialogue. They are unable to “understand what ‘went on…’” and are left to the whims of time and power (Farrell, 1985, p. 114). Hugh Duncan furthers this line of reasoning:¶ Opponents not only tolerate but honor and respect each other because in doing so they enhance their own chances of thinking better and reaching sound decisions. Opposition is necessary because it sharpens thought in action. We assume that argument, discussion, and talk, among free an informed people who subordinate decisions of any kind, because it is only through such discussion that we reach agreement which binds us to a common cause…If we are to be equal…relationships among equals must find expression in many formal and informal institutions (Duncan, 1993, p. 196-197).¶ Debate compensates for the exigencies of the world by offering a framework that maintains equality for the sake of the conversation (Farrell, 1985, p. 114).¶ For example, an affirmative case on the 2007-2008 college topic might defend neither state nor international action in the Middle East, and yet claim to be germane to the topic in some way. The case essentially denies the arguments that state action is oppressive or that actions in the international arena are philosophically or pragmatically suspect. Instead of allowing for the dialogue to be modified by the interchange of the affirmative case and the negative response, the affirmative subverts any meaningful role to the negative team, preventing them from offering effective “counter-word” and undermining the value of a meaningful exchange of speech acts. Germaneness and other substitutes for topical action do not accrue the dialogical benefits of topical advocacy.


This is question begging at its finest. Fairness is ” a demand that a voice backed by literally months upon months of preparation, research, and critical thinking not be silenced.”- well what were you researching for those months? Why isn’t it applicable to what the affirmative said? You could research the 5 major cases at camps for months and then find out none of them are being read. All affirmative’s operate to exclude negative arguments- thats the purpose of strategy, how do you draw the line between an affirmative that has no plan and “silences” months of research and a new affirmative? A small affirmative that disads don’t link to? You could follow this line of reasoning for some time, but more importantly it is dangerous to read an impact that says “no politics disad silences and dehumanizes us” vs a team telling personal narratives or talking about their identity because quite frankly the “I lost my TPA DA” trauma is not really that persuasive. Its very easy for the affirmative to “link turn” this argument and present a case for why the negative has done/is doing any number of things that make them feel dehumanized or disrespected in the debate. You have essentially substituted one sort of nebulous unquantifiable impact (fairness) for another (respect)- but this new impact, while being just as hard to explain and impact, is now also susceptible to many straightforward turns.

Incidentally, if you want to make a similar argument there are better cards that don’t fall victim to the same criticism (or less so). Here is an example


John Dryzek 6, Professor of Social and Political Theory, The Australian National University, Reconciling Pluralism and Consensus as Political Ideals, American Journal of Political Science,Vol. 50, No. 3, July 2006, Pp. 634–649

A more radical contemporary pluralism is suspicious of liberal and communitarian devices for reconciling difference. Such a critical pluralism is associated with agonists such as Connolly (1991), Honig (1993), and Mouffe (2000), and difference democrats such as Young (2000). As Honig puts it, “Difference is just another word for what used to be called pluralism” (1996, 60). Critical pluralists resemble liberals in that they begin from the variety of ways it is possible to experience the world, but stress that the experiences and perspectives of marginalized and oppressed groups are likely to be very different from dominant groups. They also have a strong suspicion ofliberal theory that looks neutral but in practice supports and serves the powerful. Difference democrats are hostile to consensus, partly because consensus decisionmaking (of the sort popular in 1970s radical groups) conceals informal oppression under the guise of concern for all by disallowing dissent (Zablocki 1980). But the real target is political theory that deploys consensus, especially deliberative and liberal theory. Young (1996, 125–26) argues that the appeals to unity and the common good that deliberative theorists under sway of the consensus ideal stress as the proper forms of political communication can often be oppressive. For deliberation so oriented all too easily equates the common good with the interests of the more powerful, thus sidelining legitimate concerns of the marginalized. Asking the underprivileged to set aside their particularistic concerns also means marginalizing their favored forms of expression, especially the telling of personal stories (Young 1996, 126).3 Speaking for an agonistic conception of democracy (to which Young also subscribes; 2000, 49–51), Mouffe states: To negate the ineradicable character of antagonism and aim at a universal rational consensus— that is the real threat to democracy. Indeed, this can lead to violence being unrecognized and hidden behind appeals to “rationality,” as is often the case in liberal thinking. (1996, 248) Mouffe is a radical pluralist: “By pluralism I mean the end of a substantive idea of the good life” (1996, 246). But neither Mouffe nor Young want to abolish communication in the name of pluralism and difference; much of their work advocates sustained attention to communication. Mouffe also cautions against uncritical celebration of difference, for some differences imply “subordination and should therefore be challenged by a radical democratic politics” (1996, 247). Mouffe raises the question of the terms in which engagement across difference might proceed. Participants should ideally accept that the positions of others are legitimate, though not as a result of being persuaded in argument. Instead, it is a matter of being open to conversion due to adoption of a particular kind of democratic attitude that converts antagonism into agonism, fighting into critical engagement, enemies into adversaries who are treated with respect. Respect here is notjust (liberal) toleration, but positive validation of the position of others. For Young, a communicative democracy would be composed of people showing “equal respect,” under “procedural rules of fair discussion and decisionmaking” (1996, 126). Schlosberg speaks of “agonistic respect” as “a critical pluralist ethos” (1999, 70). Mouffe and Young both want pluralism to be regulated by a particular kind of attitude, be it respectful, agonistic, or even in Young’s (2000, 16–51) case reasonable.Thus neither proposes unregulated pluralism as an alternative to (deliberative) consensus. This regulation cannot be just procedural, for that would imply “anything goes” in terms of the substance of positions. Recall thatMouffe rejects differences that imply subordination. Agonistic ideals demand judgments about what is worthy of respect and what is not. Connolly (1991, 211) worriesabout dogmatic assertions and denials of identity that fuel existential resentments that would have to be changed to make agonism possible. Young seeks “transformation of private, self-regarding desires into public appeals to justice” (2000, 51). Thus for Mouffe, Connolly, and Young alike, regulative principles for democratic communication are not just attitudinal or procedural; they also refer to the substance of the kinds of claims that are worthy of respect. These authors would not want to legislate substance and are suspicious of the content of any alleged consensus. But in retreating from “anything goes” relativism, they need principles to regulate the substance of what rightfully belongs in democratic debate.


And here is one more specific to identity claims

Amanda Anderson 6, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Humanities and English at Brown University, Spring 2006, “Reply to My Critic(s),” Criticism, Vol. 48, No. 2, p. 281-290

MY RECENT BOOK, The Way We Argue Now, has in a sense two theses. In the first place, the book makes the case for the importance of debate and argument to any vital democratic or pluralistic intellectual culture. This is in many ways an unexceptional position, but the premise of the book is that the claims of reasoned argument are often trumped, within the current intellectual terrain, by appeals to cultural identity and what I gather more broadly under the rubric of ethos, which includes cultural identity but also forms of ethical piety and charismatic authority. In promoting argument as a universal practice keyed to a human capacity for communicative reason, my book is a critique of relativism and identity politics, or the notion that forms of cultural authenticity or group identity have a certain unquestioned legitimacy, one that cannot or should not be subjected to the challenges of reason or principle, precisely because reason and what is often called “false universalism” are, according to this pattern of thinking, always involved in forms of exclusion, power, or domination. My book insists, by contrast, that argument is a form of respect, that the ideals of democracy, whether conceived from a nationalist or an internationalist perspective, rely fundamentally upon procedures of argumentation and debate in order to legitimate themselves and to keep their central institutions vital. And the idea that one should be protected from debate, that argument is somehow injurious to persons if it does not honor their desire to have their basic beliefs and claims and solidarities accepted without challenge, is strenuously opposed. As is the notion that any attempt to ask people to agree upon processes of reason-giving argument issomehow necessarily to impose a coercive norm, one that will disable the free expression and performance of identities, feelings, or solidarities. Disagreement is, by the terms of my book, a form of respect, not a form of disrespect. And by disagreement, I don’t mean simply to say that we should expect disagreement rather than agreement, which is a frequently voiced-if misconceived-criticism of Habermas. Of course we should expect disagreement. My point is that we should focus on the moment of dissatisfaction in the face of disagreement-the internal dynamic in argument that imagines argument might be the beginning of a process of persuasion and exchange that could end in agreement (or partial agreement). For those who advocate reconciling ourselves to disagreements rather than arguing them out, by contrast, there is a complacent-and in some versions, even celebratory-attitude toward fixed disagreement. Refusing these options, I make the case for dissatisfied disagreement in the final chapter of the book and argue that people should be willing to justify their positions in dialogue with one another, especially if they hope to live together in a post-traditional pluralist society. One example of the trumping of argument by ethos is the form that was taken by the late stage of the Foucault/Habermas debate, where an appeal to ethos-specifically, an appeal to Foucault’s style of ironic or negative critique, often seen as most in evidence in the interviews, where he would playfully refuse labels or evade direct answers-was used to exemplify an alternative to the forms of argument employed by Habermas and like-minded critics. (I should pause to say that I provide this example, and the framing summary of the book that surrounds it, not to take up airtime through expansive self-reference, but because neither of my respondents provided any contextualizing summary of the book’s central arguments, though one certainly gets an incremental sense of the book’s claims from Bruce Robbins. Because I don’t assume that readers of this forum have necessarily read the book, and because I believe that it is the obligation of forum participants to provide sufficient context for their remarks, I will perform this task as economically as I can, with the recognition that it might have carried more weight if provided by a respondent rather than the author.) The Foucauldian counter-critique importantly emphasizes a relation between style and position, but it obscures (1) the importance or value of the Habermasian critique and (2) the possibility that the other side of the debate might have its own ethos to advocate, one that has precisely to do with an ethos of argument, an ideal of reciprocal debate that involves taking distance on one’s pre-given forms of identity or the norms of one’s community, both so as to talk across differences and to articulate one’s claims in relation to shared and even universal ideals. And this leads to the second thesis of the book, the insistence that an emphasis on ethos and character is interestingly present if not widely recognized in contemporary theory, and one of the ways its vitality and existential pertinence makes itself felt (even despite the occurrence of the kinds of unfair trumping moves I have mentioned). We often fail to notice this, because identity has so uniformly come to mean sociological, ascribed, or group identity-race, gender, class, nationality, ethnicity, sexuality, and so forth. Instances of the move toward character and ethos include the later Foucault (for whom ethos is a central concept), cosmopolitanism (whose aspiration it is to turn universalism into an ethos), and, more controversially, proceduralist ethics and politics (with its emphasis on sincerity and civility). Another version of this attentiveness to ethos and character appears in contemporary pragmatism, with its insistence on casualness of attitude, or insouciance in the face of contingency-recommendations that get elevated into full-fledged exemplary personae in Richard Rorty’s notion of the “ironist” or Barbara Herrnstein Smiths portrait of the “postmodern skeptic.” These examples-and the larger claim they support-are meant to defend theory as still living, despite the many reports of its demise, and in fact still interestingly and incessantly re-elaborating its relation to practice. This second aspect of the project is at once descriptive, motivated by the notion that characterology within theory is intrinsically interesting, and critical, in its attempt to identify how characterology can itself be used to cover or evade the claims of rational argument, as in appeals to charismatic authority or in what I identify as narrow personifications of theory (pragmatism, in its insistence on insouciance in the face of contingency, is a prime example of this second form). And as a complement to the critical agenda, there is a reconstructive agenda as well, an attempt to recuperate liberalism and proceduralism, in part by advocating the possibility, as I have suggested, of an ethos of argument. Robbins, in his extraordinarily rich and challenging response, zeroes in immediately on a crucial issue: who is to say exactly when argument is occurring or not, and what do we do when there is disagreement over the fundamentals (the primary one being over what counts as proper reasoning)? Interestingly, Robbins approaches this issue after first observing a certain tension in the book: on the one hand, The Way We Argue Now calls for dialogue, debate, argument; on the other, its project is “potentially something a bit stricter, or pushier: getting us all to agree on what should and should not count as true argument.” What this point of entry into the larger issue reveals is a kind of blur that the book, I am now aware, invites. On the one hand, the book anatomizes academic debates, and in doing so is quite “debaterly” This can give the impression that what I mean by argument is a very specific form unique to disciplinary methodologies in higher education. But the book is not generally advocating a narrow practice of formal and philosophical argumentation in the culture at large, however much its author may relish adherence to the principle of non-contradiction in scholarly argument. I take pains to elaborate an ethos of argument that is linked to democratic debate and the forms of dissent that constitutional patriotism allows and even promotes. In this sense, while argument here is necessarily contextualized sociohistorically, the concept is not merely academic. It is a practice seen as integral to specific political forms and institutions in modern democracies, and to the more general activity of critique within modern societies-to the tradition of the public sphere, to speak in broad terms. Additionally, insofar as argument impels one to take distance on embedded customs, norms, and senses of given identity, it is a practice that at once acknowledges identity, the need to understand the perspectives of others, and the shared commitment to commonality and generality, to finding a way to live together under conditions of difference. More than this: the book also discusses at great length and from several different angles the issue that Robbins inexplicably claims I entirely ignore: the question of disagreement about what counts as argument. In the opening essay, “Debatable Performances,” I fault the proponents of communicative ethics for not having a broader understanding of public expression, one that would include the disruptions of spectacle and performance. I return to and underscore this point in my final chapter, where I espouse a democratic politics that can embrace and accommodate a wide variety of expressions and modes. This is certainly a discussion of what counts as dialogue and hence argument in the broad sense in which I mean it, and in fact I fully acknowledge that taking distance from cultural norms and given identities can be advanced not only through critical reflection, but through ironic critique and defamiliarizing performance as well. But I do insist-and this is where I take a position on the fundamental disagreements that have arisen with respect to communicative ethics-that when they have an effect, these other dimensions of experience do not remain unreflective, and insofar as they do become reflective, they are contributing to the very form of reasoned analysis that their champions sometimes imagine they must refuse in order to liberate other modes of being (the affective, the narrative,the performative, the nonrational). If a narrative of human rights violation is persuasive in court, or in the broader cultural public sphere, it is because it draws attention to a violation of humanity that is condemned on principle; if a performance jolts people out of their normative understandings of sexuality and gender, it prompts forms of understanding that can be affirmed and communicated and also can be used to justify political positions and legislative agendas.


4. Global problem Solving/Portable skills. Here is the card I most commonly see on this argument

Christian O. Lundberg 10 Professor of Communications @ University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, “Tradition of Debate in North Carolina” in Navigating Opportunity: Policy Debate in the 21st Century By Allan D. Louden, p. 311

The second major problem with the critique that identifies a naivety in articulating debate and democracy is that it presumes that the primary pedagogical outcome of debate is speech capacities. But the democratic capacities built by debate are not limited to speech—as indicated earlier, debate builds capacity for critical thinking, analysis of public claims, informed decision making, and better public judgment. If the picture of modem political life that underwrites this critique of debate is a pessimistic view of increasingly labyrinthine and bureaucratic administrative politics, rapid scientific and technological change outpacing the capacities of the citizenry to comprehend them, and ever-expanding insular special-interest- and money-driven politics, it is a puzzling solution, at best, to argue that these conditions warrant giving up on debate. If democracy is open to rearticulation, it is open to rearticulation precisely because as the challenges of modern political life proliferate, the citizenry’s capacities can change, which is one of the primary reasons that theorists of democracy such as Ocwey in The Public awl Its Problems place such a high premium on education (Dewey 1988,63, 154). Debate provides an indispensible form of education in the modem articulation of democracy because it builds precisely the skills that allow the citizenry to research and be informed about policy decisions that impact them, to sort through and evaluate the evidence for and relative merits of arguments for and against a policy in an increasingly information-rich environment, and to prioritize their time and political energies toward policies that matter the most to them. The merits of debate as a tool for building democratic capacity-building take on a special significance in the context of information literacy. John Larkin (2005, HO) argues that one of the primary failings of modern colleges and universities is that they have not changed curriculum to match with the challenges of a new information environment. This is a problem for the course of academic study in our current context, but perhaps more important, argues Larkin, for the future of a citizenry that will need to make evaluative choices against an increasingly complex and multimediated information environment (ibid-). Larkin’s study tested the benefits of debate participation on information-literacy skills and concluded that in-class debate participants reported significantly higher self-efficacy ratings of their ability to navigate academic search databases and to effectively search and use other Web resources: To analyze the self-report ratings of the instructional and control group students, we first conducted a multivariate analysis of variance on all of the ratings, looking jointly at the effect of instmction/no instruction and debate topic . . . that it did not matter which topic students had been assigned . . . students in the Instnictional [debate) group were significantly more confident in their ability to access information and less likely to feel that they needed help to do so—-These findings clearly indicate greater self-efficacy for online searching among students who participated in (debate)…. These results constitute strong support for the effectiveness of the project on students’ self-efficacy for online searching in the academic databases. There was an unintended effect, however: After doing … the project, instructional group students also felt more confident than the other students in their ability to get good information from Yahoo and Google. It may be that the library research experience increased self-efficacy for any searching, not just in academic databases. (Larkin 2005, 144) Larkin’s study substantiates Thomas Worthcn and Gaylcn Pack’s (1992, 3) claim that debate in the college classroom plays a critical role in fostering the kind of problem-solving skills demanded by the increasingly rich media and information environment of modernity. Though their essay was written in 1992 on the cusp of the eventual explosion of the Internet as a medium, Worthcn and Pack’s framing of the issue was prescient: the primary question facing today’s student has changed from how to best research a topic to the crucial question of learning how to best evaluate which arguments to cite and rely upon from an easily accessible and veritable cornucopia of materials. There are, without a doubt, a number of important criticisms of employing debate as a model for democratic deliberation. But cumulatively, the evidence presented here warrants strong support for expanding debate practice in the classroom as a technology for enhancing democratic deliberative capacities. The unique combination of critical thinking skills, research and information processing skills, oral communication skills, and capacities for listening and thoughtful, open engagement with hotly contested issues argues for debate as a crucial component of a rich and vital democratic life. In-class debate practice both aids students in achieving the best goals of college and university education, and serves as an unmatched practice for creating thoughtful, engaged, open-minded and self-critical students who are open to the possibilities of meaningful political engagement and new articulations of democratic life. Expanding this practice is crucial, if only because the more we produce citizens that can actively and effectively engage the political process, the more likely we are to produce revisions of democratic life that are necessary if democracy is not only to survive, but to thrive. Democracy faces a myriad of challenges, including: domestic and international issues of class, gender, and racial justice; wholesale environmental destruction and the potential for rapid climate change; emerging threats to international stability in the form of terrorism, intervention and new possibilities for great power conflict; and increasing challenges of rapid globalization including an increasingly volatile global economic structure. More than any specific policy or proposal, an informed and active citizenry that deliberates with greater skill and sensitivity provides one of the best hopes for responsive and effective democratic governance, and by extension, one of the last best hopes for dealing with the existential challenges to democracy [in an] increasingly complex world.


I think this card has a number of problems the way it is being debated, but the two main ones are


1. It assumes that the alternative is to “give up on debate”- I have never seen any team make this as an argument. The issue is always what/who should debate be about, not should we have debate.

2. The studies it cites, and the card itself, do not defend the FW argument most people are reading in debate. You can see from the part above that the topic is almost totally irrelevant in these studies- its the act of arguing and preparing a case that garnered the benefits. This pretty severely undermines the rational for reading this card in a debate.


This is a good place for the negative to read a critique of focus on the government. In this card the idea is citizens need to learn the skills of “deliberation” so that we can get government decision making on track. The warrant behind most of these claims in this, and similar, evidence is that lack of participation is whats undermining the effectiveness of our policy making. This is definitely  an assumption you should challenge. I have seen a bunch of cards read against this throughout this year, but I think this is one of the better ones that makes a diverse set of arguments that can respond to “better deliberation solves XYZ”

Chris Hedges, Pulitzer Prize Winner,  senior fellow at The Nation Institute in New York City and has taught at Columbia University, New York University and Princeton University 9-12-10

There are no longer any major institutions in American society, including the press, the educational system, the financial sector, labor unions, the arts, religious institutions and our dysfunctional political parties, which can be considered democratic. The intent, design and function of these institutions, controlled by corporate money, are to bolster the hierarchical and anti-democratic power of the corporate state. These institutions, often mouthing liberal values, abet and perpetuate mounting inequality. They operate increasingly in secrecy. They ignore suffering or sacrifice human lives for profit. They control and manipulate all levers of power and mass communication. They have muzzled the voices and concerns of citizens. They use entertainment, celebrity gossip and emotionally laden public-relations lies to seduce us into believing in a Disneyworld fantasy of democracy. The menace we face does not come from the insane wing of the Republican Party, which may make huge inroads in the coming elections, but the institutions tasked with protecting democratic participation. Do not fear Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin. Do not fear the tea party movement, the birthers, the legions of conspiracy theorists or the militias. Fear the underlying corporate power structure, which no one, from Barack Obama to the right-wing nut cases who pollute the airwaves, can alter. If the hegemony of the corporate state is not soon broken we will descend into a technologically enhanced age of barbarism. Investing emotional and intellectual energy in electoral politics is a waste of time. Resistance means a radical break with the formal structures of American society. We must cut as many ties with consumer society and corporations as possible. We must build a new political and economic consciousness centered on the tangible issues of sustainable agriculture, self-sufficiency and radical environmental reform. The democratic system, and the liberal institutions that once made piecemeal reform possible, is dead. It exists only in name. It is no longer a viable mechanism for change. And the longer we play our scripted and absurd role in this charade the worse it will get. Do not pity Barack Obama and the Democratic Party. They will get what they deserve. They sold the citizens out for cash and power. They lied. They manipulated and deceived the public, from the bailouts to the abandonment of universal health care, to serve corporate interests. They refused to halt the wanton corporate destruction of the ecosystem on which all life depends. They betrayed the most basic ideals of democracy. And they, as much as the Republicans, are the problem. “It is like being in a pit,” Ralph Nader told me when we spoke on Saturday. “If you are four feet in the pit you have a chance to grab the top and hoist yourself up. If you are 30 feet in the pit you have to start on a different scale.” All resistance will take place outside the arena of electoral politics. The more we expand community credit unions, community health clinics and food cooperatives and build alternative energy systems, the more empowered we will become. “To the extent that these organizations expand and get into communities where they do not exist, we will weaken the multinational goliath, from the banks to the agribusinesses to the HMO giants and hospital chains,” Nader said. The failure of liberals to defend the interests of working men and women as our manufacturing sector was dismantled, labor unions were destroyed and social services were slashed has proved to be a disastrous and fatal misjudgment. Liberals, who betrayed the working class, have no credibility. This is one of the principal reasons the anti-war movement cannot attract the families whose sons and daughters are fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan. And liberal hypocrisy has opened the door for a virulent right wing. If we are to reconnect with the working class we will have to begin from zero. We will have to rebuild the ties with the poor and the working class which the liberal establishment severed. We will have to condemn the liberal class as vociferously as we condemn the right wing. And we will have to remain true to the moral imperative to foster the common good and the tangible needs of housing, health care, jobs, education and food. We will, once again, be bombarded in this election cycle with messages of fear from the Democratic Party—designed, in the end, to serve corporate interests. “Better Barack Obama than Sarah Palin,” we will be told. Better the sane technocrats like Larry Summers than half-wits like John Bolton. But this time we must resist. If we express the legitimate rage of the dispossessed working class as our own, if we denounce and refuse to cooperate with the Democratic Party, we can begin to impede the march of the right-wing trolls who seem destined to inherit power. If we again prove compliant we will discredit the socialism we should be offering as an alternative to a perverted Christian and corporate fascism. The tea party movement is, as Nader points out, “a conviction revolt.” Most of the participants in the tea party rallies are not poor. They are small-business people and professionals. They feel that something is wrong. They see that the two parties are equally responsible for the subsidies and bailouts, the wars and the deficits. They know these parties must be replaced. The corporate state, whose interests are being championed by tea party leaders such as Palin and Dick Armey, is working hard to make sure the anger of the movement is directed toward government rather than corporations and Wall Street. And if these corporate apologists succeed, a more overt form of corporate fascism will emerge without a socialist counterweight. “Poor people do not organize,” Nader lamented. “They never have. It has always been people who have fairly good jobs. You don’t see Wal-Mart workers massing anywhere. The people who are the most militant are the people who had the best blue-collar jobs. Their expectation level was high. When they felt their jobs were being jeopardized they got really angry. But when you are at $7.25 an hour you want to hang on to $7.25 an hour. It is a strange thing.” “People have institutionalized oppressive power in the form of surrender,” Nader said. “It is not that they like it. But what are you going to do about it? You make the best of it. The system of control is staggeringly dictatorial. It breaks new ground and innovates in ways no one in human history has ever innovated. You start in American history where these corporations have influence. Then they have lobbyists. Then they run candidates. Then they put their appointments in top government positions. Now, they are actually operating the government. Look at Halliburton and Blackwater. Yesterday someone in our office called the Office of Pipeline Safety apropos the San Bruno explosion in California. The press woman answered. The guy in our office saw on the screen that she had CTR next to her name. He said, ‘What is CTR?’ She said, ‘I am a contractor.’ He said, ‘This is the press office at the Department of Transportation. They contracted out the press office?’ ‘Yes,’ she said, ‘but that’s OK, I come to work here every day.’ ” “The corporate state is the ultimate maturation of American-type fascism,” Nader said. “They leave wide areas of personal freedom so that people can confuse personal freedom with civic freedom—the freedom to go where you want, eat where you want, associate with who you want, buy what you want, work where you want, sleep when you want, play when you want. If people have given up on any civic or political role for themselves there is a sufficient amount of elbow room to get through the day. They do not have the freedom to participate in the decisions about war, foreign policy, domestic health and safety issues, taxes or transportation. That is its genius. But one of its Achilles’ heels is that the price of the corporate state is a deteriorating political economy. They can’t stop their greed from getting the next morsel. The question is, at what point are enough people going to have a breaking point in terms of their own economic plight? At what point will they say enough is enough? When that happens, is a tea party type enough or [Sen. Robert M.] La Follette or Eugene Debs type of enough?” It is anti-corporate movements as exemplified by the Scandinavian energy firm Kraft&Kultur that we must emulate. Kraft&Kultur sells electricity exclusively from solar and water power. It has begun to merge clean energy with cultural events, bookstores and a political consciousness that actively defies corporate hegemony. The failure by the Obama administration to use the bailout and stimulus money to build public works such as schools, libraries, roads, clinics, highways, public transit and reclaiming dams, as well as create green jobs, has snuffed out any hope of serious economic, political or environmental reform coming from the centralized bureaucracy of the corporate state. And since the government did not hire enough auditors and examiners to monitor how the hundreds of billions in taxpayer funds funneled to Wall Street are being spent, we will soon see reports of widespread mismanagement and corruption. The rot and corruption at the top levels of our financial and political systems, coupled with the increasing deprivation felt by tens of millions of Americans, are volatile tinder for a horrific right-wing backlash in the absence of a committed socialist alternative. “If you took a day off and did nothing but listen to Hannity, Beck and Limbaugh and realized that this goes on 260 days a year, you would see that it is overwhelming,” Nader said. “You have to almost have a genetic resistance in your mind and body not to be affected by it. These guys are very good. They are clever. They are funny. They are emotional. It beats me how Air America didn’t make it, except it went after [it criticized] corporations, and corporations advertise. These right-wingers go after government, and government doesn’t advertise. And that is the difference. It isn’t that their message appeals more. Air America starved because it could not get ads.” We do not have much time left. And the longer we refuse to confront corporate power the more impotent we become as society breaks down. The game of electoral politics, which is given legitimacy by the right and the so-called left on the cable news shows, is just that—a game. It diverts us from what should be our daily task—dismantling, piece by piece, the iron grip that corporations hold over our lives. Hope is a word that is applicable only to those who grasp reality, however bleak, and do something meaningful to fight back—which does not include the farce of elections and involvement in mainstream political parties. Hope is about fighting against the real forces of destruction, not chanting “Yes We Can!” in rallies orchestrated by marketing experts, television crews, pollsters and propagandists or begging Obama to be Obama. Hope, in the hands of realists, spreads fear into the black heart of the corporate elite. But hope, real hope, remains thwarted by our collective self-delusion.


The reason I like this card more than others that make similar arguments is that this card very explicitly makes a tradeoff disad about mental energy- that the time we spend in debate focused on deliberative skills/talking about the government directly trades off with more viable alternatives which is pretty sick wording for establishing your K of framework.


Ok this post has gotten super long so I am going to stop there and save the rest for a later sequel. If you have questions/other args you’d like to see addressed post them in the comments.


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