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The Contender
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Potential Abuse / Voter Issue

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/12/2012 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,273 times Debate No: 21923
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (11)
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LOL so this is an interesting debate
Resolved: Potential Abuse is a voter / Resolved: Potential Abuse is not a voter
I'll take any side, you can just affirm one of the resolutions (:



I will be arguing in favor of the following resolution:

Resolved: Potential Abuse is not a voter.

For the fairness of this debate, I would like to restrict the topic of the discussion to LD debate, also known as Lincoln-Douglas debate. This allows us both to have fair access to ground, instead of skewing ground massively to pro.

As the instigator, the burden of proof will rest on the Con to prove why potential abuse ought to be a voter in LD rounds.
Since the con did not define any terms in his part of round one, I shall do it instead.
Potential: expressing possibility[1]
Abuse: a corrupt practice or custom[2]
Voter: A reason for a judge to vote for one side or the other.

For the fairness of round spread, I will allow my opponent to make the first argument.

Debate Round No. 1


xD ok...Starting on FWK/Definitions, I have a few things to add/say:

1. We should also include policy debate, 3 reasons:A. Fairness - I debate policy, you debate LD: including both means we're evenB. Accuracy - LD doesn't include all theory; things like ASPEC aren't exactly at the forefrontC. It doesn’t take any ground away – it’s not like it’s harder for you to win if we consider CX too

2. Potential abuse should not be considered "corrupt" nor a “custom”, rather some aspect of a performance a debater uses (be it argumentation, presumption, assumption, or use of “irony”, ect.) which makes a debate worse, AS DEFINED by the debaters in the round. This is not only more accurate but also more fair. There are no definite standards for a debate, that’s why we have a “standard(s)” section in theory shells.

3. Defensive voters – sometimes a voter just means “don’t evaluate this argument”.

Onto my “case” (lol)

1. Potential abuse is key to have absolute value – only debating about in-round is subjective and not accurate for determining standards or voters

Jake (no last name given), 4/32011 (“Does "Potential Abuse" Matter? (Even a little bit?)”, Fantasy Debate,

I don’t like this example because it is such an awful argument. Deontology does not assume truth-testing, and even if it did assume truth-testing, it would not necessarily be a version of truth-testing that justified running a prioris. (If you disagree with any of these claims, say so in a comment and I’ll elaborate.) So, here are a few other examples: Topicality. A is debating B. A runs a case on a topic from last year. A never debated that topic, but B won every tournament on that topic and is even better prepared to debate A’s case than she would be to debate a topical one. (Suppose there is no official rule requiring topical advocacies.) Consult. A is debating B. A runs a counter-plan that defends the exact same thing as B’s advocacy, but only after prior binding consultation with every solvency advocate in B’s case. B happens to have done extensive research on her solvency advocates and has good evidence that the consultation would be very bad. Theft. A is debating B. A steals a plan from B’s expando before the debate. Unbeknownst to A, B wrote the plan for target practice, and she has solid, extensive answers to the plan. B did not have answers to any other case on the topic. Timer. A is debating B. A is the only one timing, and he speaks for a minute past the time expires in one of his speeches. But he accidentally spends that minute making arguments for why B should win. (Suppose it is the last round at the tournament and nobody else at the tournament is harmed by the extra length of the round.)We could construct many other, similar examples by imagining cases where someone does something that seems unfair but the other debater is not disadvantaged by the unfair act. Wade’s view would imply that A does nothing wrong because he does not run any position that disadvantages B in this debate. Perhaps his act justifies other people doing things that would disadvantage other people in future debates. But “debaters should never be held accountable for positions that they do not run.” I don’t plan on going through each of the above examples to explain why A’s strategy is nevertheless wrong. (We can talk about the individual cases in the comments section of this post.) But the general story is that, if theory is not about determining and enforcing the rules, then it becomes suspiciously ad hoc. It is just a matter of luck that A’s strategy does not cause in-round abuse. And we should minimize the role of luck in influencing our evaluations of fairness (and other moral concepts). For more discussion on the problem of moral luck, see Thomas Nagel’s “Moral Luck” in Mortal Questions (Cambridge, 1979).

To summarize, if we don’t consider the potential for an action to be bad, then debaters can get away with being super abusive so long as their facing a good team

2. This has another implication – not considering potential abuse makes debate regressive; it encourages teams to get as close to voters as they can and then use the other team against themselves to justify abuse. We once (legit) has a school say to us “oh don’t consider topicality, their school blocks all this out, it’s not like they aren’t ready”. Just because a team has answers to an affirmative doesn’t mean that they can’t run theory; potential abuse is key to engage teams at multiple levels

3. Potential abuse PROVES an action is bad – if a team can do that, then the judge should punish them; that achieves solvency out of round, which comes before all else

4. Defensive voters – even if a team doesn’t get rejected, showing the potential for them to be prevents them from running bad arguments – it’s “wards them off”


While my opponents arguments are, more or less, logically sound, they all have one error in common that I will be exposing as the reason why his case fails. It comes down to a undisputed definition (call it semantics if you will, it's still a legit definition).

Even if I concede to my opponent's definition of abuse, which for simplicity I will, we must first distinguish between ACTUAL abuse and POTENTIAL abuse. This is where my opponent's case becomes incredibly flawed. If there is actual abuse in the round, say perhaps a shift in advocacy or some other violation, then it is up to the debater (or debaters, if I'm defending policy as well now) to prove that there is a violation and prove that it should cost them the round. This is the premise of my opponent's arguments. To this, I can concede to. Sure, when abuse is present, it should be countered and be considered a voter in the round. That's just common logic.

But there's one key flaw that my opponent DOESN'T adress, which is the difference between POTENTIAL abuse and actual abuse. This difference is going to make his case entirely non-relevant to the topic at hand. If there is actual abuse, then that abuse should be a voter. I won't dispute this. But just because there is the POTENTIAL for abuse to happen, doesn't automatically make abuse present. If POTENTIAL abuse were a voter, it would be impossible to determine any round, for both debaters (or teams) have the POTENTIAL to run abusive arguments. But, again, just because I have the potential to run abusive arguments, it doesn't mean that I will actually run abusive arguments.

This is a key flaw in my opponent's case, and it's the reason why his case doesn't apply to the resolution. All my opponent's case talks about is if there is abuse in round, then it should be considered a voter if the argument for it to be is made. Fair enough. But we have to distinguish actual abuse from potential abuse, and the actual abuse, which my opponent advocates against, isn't actually in question. If we allow potential abuse to become a voter, then we put debate rounds into an infinite cycle of regression, as both debaters have equal potential to run abusive arguments.

Thusly, POTENTIAL abuse should not be a voter.
Debate Round No. 2


This round looks like it's going to come down to the definition of potential abuse. Potential abuse, I should clarify, doesn't just mean "abuse that never ever happened", it means "abuse that doesn't necessarily degrade the particular round". For example: If I punch my friend in the shoulder, that's not abuse. But if I punch a baby in the shoulder, that's probably "abuse".

What I'm saying is that, in a world of debate, it's ok so solidly vote on "punching" (metaphorically), even if it isn't necessarily "abusive” in the round. The word “potential” in the phrase “potential abuse” doesn’t mean “it could potentially have happened”, it means “it happened, and it could potentially have been abuse”.

When I defined “potential abuse”, I should have just labeled that as “abuse”. Potential abuse is when something happens that wouldn’t necessarily be defined as “abusive”, but has the potential to degrade debate. We know it has the potential to degrade because it violates the standards set by the debaters, even if it doesn’t trigger the impacts they bring up. Violating the standards is when it’s potential, and causing the impact is when they are abusive IN round.


A reads 3 off – 2 counterplans and a kritik
B says: condo bad
Interp – condo bad
Violation – 3 condo positions
Standards – Destroys argument interaction the can read contradictory arguments making it impossible for us to answer
Voter – [whatever]

NOW – potentially, if A was really good in that round, none of the arguments had to be contradictory. the problem is that, if we let A get away with that, s/he might run 4 kritik later, each saying completely opposite things.


The problem with my opponent's last round is he's trying to come back and redefine potential after having already conceded to the definition I gave. Hold him to his concession, as it's going to be key to judging the round.

Potential, since my opponent already conceded to it, will be defined as expressing possibility. So the resolution can thusly be reworded like this:

Possible Abuse should not be a voter.

If we allow something that is POSSIBLY abusive to be a voter in a round, then the round will become an infinite cycle of regression, as each side could've potentially been abusive. The round, at that point, would become indeterminable. But if there is actual abuse, as my opponent keeps stalwartly arguing for, then it ought to be a voter, provided that the argument is made. But, again, actual abuse is not what the resolution is talking about. His arguments are only responsive as to why ACTUAL abuse ought to be a voter. This doesn't correspond with the resolution, though, so hold him to a) the resolution and b) the definition he conceded to.

At this point, I'm a little confused as to what to put here. His arguments are, more or less, saying the same thing as before, and are still not responsive to potential abuse. He conceded to the definition I provided, so hold him to that.

So it's an easy pro vote.
Debate Round No. 3


First, thank you for debating
And now..

Looking back at the definitions, one sees many re-iterations of the same core concepts. Lemme try to clear them up so that this round is easy to evaluate

- Abuse: something violating the standards set by debaters, which in turns skews strategy/fairness/education, etc.
- Potential: having the possibility to…X
Thus, potential abuse is action which violates evaluations standards but does NOT qualify as abuse because it doesn’t necessarily skew voting standards strategy, fairness, education, etc.

My opponent claims that round become regressive because each time might have been abusive, I have a few answers (sorry that I didn’t make them earlier)

1. Not every argument has the potential to be abusive..rounds don’t become regressive

2. If an argument DOES have the potential to be abusive, there’s no reason NOT to vote against it

3. Debaters…they tend to debate. (lol). The fact of the matter is that I stand up and say “having a value is abusive”, the opponent will probably answer that and explain WHY it doesn’t even have the potential to be abusive. This checks abuse

4. My second argument went conceded out of the second round – not considering how an action could have been abusive ALSO makes debate regressive, because teams are encouraged to nestle right up to the line between in-round abuse
and potential abuse. My example, in round 3, proves this point

5. Reality checks his offense – “voter” doesn’t mean something a judge walks into the round thinking about, it means something a debater has full liberty to bring up

To elaborate on #5, I’m advocating a punishment paradigm, not some round where the judge evaluates arguments that weren’t made

6. Reality checks his offense in a second way – teams won’t run stuff like “plan texts are a voter”

To elaborate on #6, you should also look at the third argument I made – if ridiculous arguments are made, they will aptly be anwered (and if they’re not, then they should be voted on)

In conclusion, the question you should ask in the end is “can debaters really make claims that ____ is bad because it could POTENTIALLY cause abuse?”

the answer, as I have shown, is yes. Thanks (:



So the round ends up coming down to what we consider to be POTENTIAL abuse. I'd like to point out a few things.

He conceded to my definition of potential as expressing possibility. This train-wrecks his entire arguments because they're based on the fact that the argument has actually happened, when potential means that it is POSSIBLE someone could use an abusive argument. My opponent's false assumption to the resolution will ultimately cost him the round. Because of this, it causes an infinite regression in the voting abilities of the judges because each side has an equal ability to potentially run an abusive argument. He then listed a bunch of reasons why this was false (in the last round, no less. Please count off for this massive conduct violation), so I will go through and answer them.


This is true, but you miss the point of the resolution. Each debater has an equal potential to run an abusive argument, thus the round becomes regressive.


1. This implies that the debater ran some kind of theory or topicality argument to check back the abuse, which does not always happen. In situations where it doesn't happen, it would force unnecessary judge intervention, which is bad for debate.
2. Again, this presumes an abusive argument is made in the first place, which is not what the resolution calls into question.


I don't see what this point is trying to say. Is it because debaters have ways to check back abuse that it should be a voter? That doesn't make any logical sense.
But also, again, it presumes the argument has been made in the first place, which isn't what the resolution calls into question.


1. My opponent brings up an argument from a previous round that he had not extended until now, which is highly abusive. Since this is ACTUAL abuse, you ought to count off for it.
2. Again, this makes the false presumption that an argument has been made in the first place, which is not what the resolution calls into question.


1. The definition of what a voter is doesn't change the potential for other people to possibly run an abusive argument, which still causes the infinite regression.
2. This argument functions as offense against him because by making potential abuse a voter, we only encourage judges to make decisions off of arguments that "could've been made" and that would've been "possibly abusive", which is unnecessary judge intervention.


1. He doesn't give a reason why plan texts ought not be a voter. If a plan text is fair and well made, there isn't a reason why it ought not be a voter in the round.
2. Again, this focuses on the false presumption that an argument has already been made, which is not what the resolution calls into question.

So the round breaks down fairly simply.
1. You define potential as the possibility of an action, which makes the resolution say "The possibility of someone using an abusive argument should not be a voter".
2. I'm showing you exactly how if potential abuse is a voter, it causes an infinite cycle of regress in the judges ability to vote, because both debaters have an equal potential to run an abusive argument, which is the main reason why it ought not be a voter.

Thusly, the resolution of "Potential abuse should not be a voter" can be affirmed, and you can easily vote for the pro debater.

Debate Round No. 4
11 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Zaradi 4 years ago
Unofficially, cast your vote.
Posted by FourTrouble 4 years ago
lol just saw this, let me know next time your debate goes unvoted, I'll try to vote...
Posted by Zaradi 4 years ago
Awh. No one voted on this...
Posted by Layne-vs-Kagan 4 years ago
LOL ok
Posted by Zaradi 4 years ago
Changed my mind. I'm going against potential abuse xD
Posted by Zaradi 4 years ago
Y'know what. Screw it. I'll take this and advocate for theory.
Posted by Zaradi 4 years ago
So gonna run theory on this topic xD
Posted by BlackVoid 4 years ago
Posted by vmpire321 4 years ago
I don't understand this
Posted by THEBOMB 4 years ago
wtf is this debate about?
No votes have been placed for this debate.