The Instigator
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The Contender
Con (against)
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Policy debaters should not use Kritikal affs

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/7/2011 Category: Education
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 6,430 times Debate No: 15205
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (8)
Votes (1)




First round is introduction. I'd like an expierinced policy debater, if possible.


This will be my first debate in a LONG time. I don't participate in policy debate personally, but I'm familiar enough with the activity that I think I can give you a satisfying debate on it.

I have no idea why you oppose kritikal affs as of yet, so I'll forego making arguments this round. I figure it's only fair since you haven't presented arguments in round 1 either.

Since I'll have plenty of characters left over this round, I'll take the time to define the "kritik" for those unfamiliar.

This is from the encyclopedia of the Spartan Debate Institute (SDI) of Michigan State University [1]

"[Kritiks encompass] An extremely diverse domain (as opposed to kingdom, phylum, or specie) of arguments - so diverse that any statement made about them seems riddled with exceptions. In fact, perhaps 40-60% of the entries in this Wiki are particular kritiks or kritikal concpts.

That said, a kritik (or critique, or critical argument) generally seeks to engage the other team in some realm beyond traditional cost-benefit assessment of unique advantage and disadvantages of the plan. The specific word, critique, is often spelled with the German spelling (kritik), as many kritiks (particularly the earlier ones) are tied to German philosophers. Or, to save time, people just call it "The K"...

Negative kritiks might object to specific words (in the plan or in affirmative cards), specific methods of solvency, specific impacts, particular assumptions behind the solvency or impacts, or the framework or mindset which lead to the case being written. A kritik might object more generally to making ethical claims, using the state to solve problems, the very existence of the state, pretending reality is real, asserting that problems should be solved, etc.

Although kritiks vary widely in their details, rounds where negative initiate them often hinge on one of these issues:
Is the affirmative able to "weigh" their advantages against the kritik, or does the kritik provide defense/offense/theory objection against them?
Which impact is larger?
Does the kritik solve the case (the root cause, perhaps)?
Does the alternative solve the kritik?
Is the alternative better than the perm or permutation?
Which kinds of questions should be the judges' highest priority?

Affirmatives can run kritiks as well, including 2AC kritiks of certain disadvantages, case arguments, solvency arguments, etc. Some critical 1AC cases are a kritik of certain parts of the status quo, but will defend the plan as a policy action against DA's, CP's, topicality attacks (though they often answer some of those arguments with kritiks). Some critical affirmatives either don't have a plan, or defend the plan in some way other than saying it would be literally good if the government passed the policy. Some critical affirmatives affirm the resolution, in a sense, while others object to it, or to the very idea of having one. Most critical affirmatives that don't claim to be topical are prepared to generate a lot of offense against negatives that run it."

Debate Round No. 1


Thanks to my opponent for accepting the debate. If it is ok with him, I'm going to use examples from this years topic.

Contention 1:
Kritikal affs rarely have solvency. They need to cite specific links to a downfall, or upbringing of a philosiphy from said plan. The proposal is inherently flawed. I'll extend in my 4th contention

Contention 2:
It forces the neg to debate against themselves. If their neg strat revolves around a k, then they are forced to run framework against themselves. It takes out alot of neg ground because they often have to debate themselves. Alot of PIC's are no longer available to be run. Let's say you run the kritikal afghanistan, if I run an agent cp, It is very easy to wiggle out of it. All you have to say is that if the agent is going to reinforce the philosiphy and you have lost. They are an extreme disadvantage. The main part of the neg strat is taken out.

Contention 3:
Kritikal affs are almost always contradicting, untopical, and (a lot of times) easy to beat. Extend contention 1 that they rarely have solvency. They revolve around appealing to the judges morals, therefore they are not policy. The anti-philosophy framework will take it out in a second. Plus many policy judges are anti-K, getting many teams voted down. Although they take out the main part of the neg strat, they are at a disadvantage to t's theory, and framework

Contention 4:
Kritikal affs are flawed. But so are ks, They basically say that one policy enaction will create the perfect society by eliminating a philosophy. Then by "pulling out of a few countries", we'll all be happy and dancng in the streets- no. What happened when we eliminated German nazi's- Neo nazis. To try and eliminate a philosophy is futile.


Nails forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


He forfeited, extend all arguments


Pardon the forfeit last round. I put this off for far too long and ran out of time while writing. I'll just post what I intended to write last round and finish the rebuttal:

Debate generally has as its foremost concern two key values: fairness and education. Debate is an academic activity sponsored by schools, so it is important that students be educated by their participation in debate. However, it is also a competitive activity, so it must be constrained by rules of fair play. As such, when determining which norms to set for debate rounds, the most important impacts to consider are those to the fairness and educational quality of debate as an activity. A norm against kritikal affs would undermine both.

1. Fairness

A. Aff/Neg skew

In a world where kritikal affs aren't allowed, affs are at a major disadvantage. They only have one possible method of debating the resolution (the utilitarian cost-benefit analysis of most policy debates) which significantly limits aff options. On the flip-side of the coin, it makes negating easier because when you discount all of the non-utilitarian affs, there are significantly fewer affs to prepare for. Finally, it's just flat out unreciprocal since the negative has access to the kritik. If the negative has the ground to question the various philosophical underpinnings of the aff, the aff should be able to choose what philosophy to defend.

B. Big School/Small School

In a world where only body-count impact calculus is the norm, the big school will almost always win. Small schools get easily out-evidenced by the massive amount of files that the large schools possess. Allowing for kritikal affs checks back this problem because it allows for small-school debaters to specialize in one form of debate (e.g. being well-read on a particular philosophy) and debating in that manner instead of having to cut cards and prepare for every facet of the resolution. It's also easier to win a K debate as the underdog since the debates are resolved moreso on the debaters' knowledge and explanation of the philosophy rather than the number of cards that can be spewed out, meaning having the most evidence won't always guarantee the win.

2. Education
Kritikal affirmatives are educational. They promote understanding of different veins of philosophy, provide different perspectives on politics than the dominant ones, and encourage the rigorous questioning and defense of the basic assumptions we make. I would go so far as to say that the philosophical education one gains from the K is more useful than the policy education gained from DA debate. The current events that your politics DAs adrees will be long since past by the time you're old enough to do anything about them, and the majority of us won't even grow up to be policy-makers. We all will, on the other hand, make important life choices that require a grasp of philosophy. Excluding these important concerns makes for a myopic and over-limited debate that runs counter to the free-thinking spirit of the activity.

Moving to PRO's points...

There are a few flaws with contention 1 (regarding his assertion that kritiks rarely have solvency)

1st, this is, at best, a problem in implementation and not in concept. Bad debaters write bad K affs. The same debaters would write bad policy affs. This isn't a problem with the Kritik, just a problem with the people who write poor ones.

2nd, this flaw is hardly unique to the kritikal affirmative. Here's the first 3 policy affs I found in a google search:

Not one of them makes a lick of sense to me and all seem to lack the "solvency" that you talk about. They claim that we need to promote international law, prevent human rights violations, solve terrorism, prevent Pakistani collapse, and a whole host of issues and then propose one small action (such as closing Bagram Air Base) which they claim will completely solve these issues. None warrants why the small action that they propose is sufficient to solve all of the problems they discuss.

3rd, I think this argument begs the question of whether kritikal affs need solvency to begin with. It is not the goal of every philosophy to solve for some huge impacts. Sometimes the means are more important than the ends and taking a stance is important regardless of whether it solves anything. In these cases

On this contention 2 (that kritikal affs make K negs debate against themselves) my opponent commits a very hasty generalization fallacy in assuming that all kritiks are the same. If the affirmative proposes one particular philosophy, the negative can counter it with another. I would posit that it is better for kritik negatives to debate against K affs because they can engage solely in the comparative philosophical discussion that they want to debate and ignore the framework issues you think are so bad. Here's a good few examples of teams countering the K with the K:

Also, he mentions the Afghanistan Agenty Counter-plan (which is a dumb argument in the first place - but that's another debate) being easily beat by the K aff. That just proves your CP is a bad argument that doesn't effectively disprove the aff. That's not a reason the aff is bad. It's a reason your neg strat is.

Contention 3 is mainly a bunch of assertions which I'll deal with in the next round if they ever get quantified, impacted, or warranted. He says morals aren't policy but (1) if you don't think policy makers need to look to morals in decision-making, you're just wrong -- I don't want a Capitol Hill unconstrained by moral rules, and (2) most K teams would reject the role of policy makers in the first place. You can debate a policy without being a policy maker. Also, I don't know what this "Anti-philosophy framework" is, but if it is anything like it's name suggests, I doubt it is a strong argument.

On his contention 4, all arguments from contention one apply. This is just a reiteration of "kritiks don't solve".
Debate Round No. 3


I'll start with his case and then move onto my own

1. Fairness

>>>affs are at a major disadvantage
-Extend my case that Kritkal affs are already at a disadvantage. But more problems arise with Kritikal Affs

>>>> which significantly limits aff options
extend 3 words earlier in his speech, he states that MOST policy debates revolve around a util. Framework. So how is it limiting, if barely anyone uses it.

>>>>there are significantly fewer affs to prepare for.
-If anyone has the time, go to and select open evidence. Aproximatly every 1 in 20 is kritikal (that's just my second hand Math), but still there are not that many.

>>>>it's just flat out unreciprocal since the negative has access to the kritik
-Why can't the aff run Topicality against Cps? Why Can't they run a theory on a da? Because these are jobs of the neg. The aff is simply proposing a plan and defending it.

>>>> Small schools get easily out-evidenced by the massive amount of files that the large schools possess
-this is true, however, as I will extend later, this does not help

>>>>allows for small-school debaters to specialize in one form of debate
The con says that it is good to have one strat, well it isn't. This allows for other schools to prepare for what they are going to run

>>>>won't always guarantee the win.
-This turns the con, this means that people using ks as a crutch won't have to use actual evidence

Basically, debate is a game, and policy is a very educational event, no one can argue that. But Kritikal affs are basically cheat codes for this game, because they don't require any type of wiggle room for the aff.

>>>>make important life choices that require a grasp of philosophy.
-Policy is to help us understand and help alter the policies, but putting in morals does not belong. Doing it in Pf is okay, because PF is more real world. But policy bases itself on "how do we tackle the problem?". And, Policy is on a nation level, not on an individual level. How can we use "capatilism is bad" philosophy to solve everyday problems?

Now to my case

1st- No a lot of them do not revolve around solvency, because there is no solvency for philosophies. What happened after we killed German Nazis?- American Nazis.
Also, this creates a crutch of Framework. A philosophy framework is already easy to beat. (there are like 1000 blocks) and without the framework, it's easy to loose. This actually makes it unfair to the aff.

Now i'll agree that there are serious flaws in policy debtors arguments, but Kritkal affs AMPLIFY said problem, because instead of concrete ground, they just float around in the sea of thought, not actually coming down to earth

3rd- Solvency is the basis for policy debate, the number one rule of policy is- No Solvency, No win
Why would debater do an event called policy, if they didn't want to act as a policy maker?

4th-extend contention 1 defense


I'll begin with PRO's points as there really isn't anything substantial here to address, just faulty examples and false assertions.

Contention 1

My opponent has made the flat-out assertion here that "there is no solvency for philosophies", which is an overly broad and clearly faulty generalization that betrays PRO's naïveté on the subject of philosophy. At any rate, this is answered by the 3 arguments that I made last round, all of which PRO glossed over without responding to. Those arguments were:
1. A lack of solvency is a problem with the implementation, not the concept. The fact that bad debaters write bad K affs that have no solvency just proves that bad debaters write bad cases, not that kritikal affs are themselves a bad concept. The same bad debaters would write bad policy affs if they chose not to run kritiks.
2. Writing cases that have very unrealistic claims to solvency is a trend that seems to have arisen in policy and one that is not unique to kritiks. Most policy affs have unrealistic scenarios involving global warming and nuclear war that the policy option proposed is very unlikely to solve for. (Reference my post last round for examples.)
3. This argument begs the question by assuming that the consequentialist concept of “solvency” is still important under a non-consequentialist philosophical framework.
PRO also asserts that a “philosophy framework” is easy to beat. This is unwarranted, empirically denied by the fact that people still manage to run and win on non-utilitarian affirmatives all the time, and really hard to believe since almost all philosophers would be utilitarians if the arguments in favor of it were so convincing.
Contention 2
My opponent’s defense of his 2nd contention is literally one sentence long and contains no actual argument, using instead the metaphor that kritiks “just float around in the sea of thought, not actually coming down to earth.”
4 problems here:
1. All (normative) philosophies have real-world practical application as their purpose is to guide action, meaning they do, in fact, come down to earth.
2. Kritikal affs still defend concrete policy action with plan texts that they can be held to. The only difference is that the warrants for enacting the plan are different. The action is itself the same as that of a policy aff, meaning the same neg arguments still apply.
3. He’s conceded my first argument that his initial claim (that negatives can’t run kritiks against kritikal affs) is false and it is in fact the case that kritikal affs actually allow for better, more substantive kritik debates on the negative because they allow for engagement in the actual philosophy instead of the dumb framework arguments that my opponent seems to hold in such high esteem.
4. PRO has conceded my 3rd argument that the arguments he claims to lose access to aren’t legitimate arguments in the first place, meaning a world in which they aren’t debated is a better one.
Contention 2
My opponent asserts that “solvency is the basis for policy debate.” Reference the 1st contention for my defense of kritikal aff solvency.
He goes on to ask the presumably rhetorical question, “Why would debater do an event called policy, if they didn't want to act as a policy maker?”
Unfortunately for him, there are two easy answers.
1. You can discuss policy without being a policy maker. The most relevant current political example is in Wisconsin where politically active citizens have taken it upon themselves to bring about the policies they believe in, rather than relying on their policy makers. Coincidentally, that concept of individual resistance/solvency is similar to the type of solvency many kritikal affs espouse and is in fact more applicable to the vast majority of people than PRO’s “policy maker” paradigm, since most debaters won’t be policy makers, but they will be politically active.
2. Policy maker ≠ utilitarian. You can still be a policy maker and enact policies for non-utilitarian (kritikal) reasons. For example, a few years back, Massachusetts sanctioned Burma, not because it would solve any problems with the tyrannical regime of Burma, but simply to take the moral stance that it would not associate itself with such governments. That is one of many example of policy makers acting in non-utilitarian ways.
CON Case
Contention 1 (Fairness)
I’ll concede that a world without kritikal affs wouldn’t be unfair. I won’t be arguing in favor of this contention. PRO’s only arguments here are that kritikal affs are bad and thus would disadvantage the aff. That is not a harm in terms of fairness because any disadvantage of running Ks is one the aff willingly accepts by choosing to run that case despite any problems they see with it. It is not a harm forced upon them by the other team.
Contention 2 (Education)
PRO’s only argument here is not only a poor response but, in my opinion, a morally repugnant one. He says, “Policy is to help us understand and help alter the policies, but putting in morals does not belong.”
We’ve seen far too many times in recent history what happens in policy makers do not constrain themselves by moral standards. What’s worse, some of the worst atrocities in history (most genocides, including the Holocaust, as well as most totalitarian regimes) have been the result of the leaders in charge foregoing basic moral responsibility in favor of successful political action. Morality should not just be A concern for policy makers; it should be THE concern. The most utilitarian regimes have been the most harmful and oppressive. That is a type of policy making I would be reluctant to support.
Regardless, you can cross-apply here my point that most of us are not policy makers. Even if policy makers assume a utilitarian paradigm, we don’t have to. For us, philosophy is an important life concern.

Debate Round No. 4
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by boredinclass 7 years ago
Dude I just realized after this debate was over that I use kritkal arguments
Posted by Nails 7 years ago
All the spaces in my post in round 3 disappeared somehow. Pardon the untidiness.
Posted by Nails 7 years ago
Pardon the forfeit. I shouldn't have waited until the last minute. I unexpectedly ran out of time while writing the rebuttal. It should be up within about an hour.
Posted by boredinclass 7 years ago
1. They should be discouraged

2. The ones that use advantages, or in the plan are about a philosophy
Posted by Nails 7 years ago
2 clarification Qs:

1. Is your position that there should be a rule against kritikal affs (such as the one in public forum) or simply that as a norm they should be discouraged?

2. Are you using "kritikal aff" in the broad sense that would include most non-utilitaran affs (e.g. a "kritikal Japan aff") or are you referring only to those cases that don't claim to affirm the resolution?

I'm fine with the arguing the CON position regardless of the content of the answers. I'd like to make it clear what the resolution entails.
Posted by petersaysstuff 7 years ago
I hate kritikal affs!
Posted by Johnicle 7 years ago
Clarification: Is the debate meant to be 'when given the option, normal cases should be preferred', or simply 'kritikal affs should be banned.'
Posted by CiRrK 7 years ago
Hmm, interesting. I'm tempted to take it....but idk
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Brenavia 7 years ago
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro's arguments were defended while con's were refuted