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Responsibility of Voting

YYW
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2/5/2015 7:13:00 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Recent events widely known to all of us have given rise to certain discussions about voting policies. I think that the fact that those discussions are taking place suggests the extent to which we are interested in a level of reform with regard to the issue of voting, as a community.

Before it is anything else, voting is an act which obliges all who undertake it to do it with respect to each debater. What it means to "vote with respect to each debater" is to approach voting *as if* you had no preference for either side. Practically, this is impossible to do for a variety of reasons that relate to the intricacies of human cognition, but it is nevertheless an ideal against which we must measure ourselves *before* even beginning to read a debate.

The reason for this is fairly straightforward: judging a debate is not the same thing as rendering an opinion on an issue, it is nothing more than indicating whose arguments were better reasoned. Deciding which arguments are "better reasoned" does not depend on your thoughts or opinions with regard to the particular issue that is being debated. It's about logical structure, organization, coherency, the strength and substance of rebuttals, and the like. These criteria are not evaluated on the basis of how a judge feels (that is to say, what opinion they hold), but on an objective standard (to the extent that is possible) of who was "better."

That said, judging a debate is a necessarily subjective exercise. Even though judging is a necessarily subjective exercise, that does not mean that the arguments with which you are more personally sympathetic ought to win on the basis of their congruence with your personal beliefs. The only way a debate can be fairly judged is to, as best you can as a judge, check your beliefs at the metaphorical "door" before you even enter the room where a debate is taking place. Make no mistake, this is no easy task. Even Antonin Scalia, the longest presently-serving judge on the Supreme Court of the United States, tends to favor in first amendment cases speech that he is politically sympathetic too, and disfavor speech that he is not politically sympathetic too.

If Antonin Scalia (whose politics I fervently disagree with but whose command of the law and intellectual capacity is beyond reproach) has a difficult time with this, then it is reasonable that you and I will too. That does not mean, however, that it is "ok" to give a side a win that is undeserved to a side that objectively lost. (More on this notion of "objective losses" later. For now, suffice to say that an objective loss is one in which no reasonable person could grant a win without bias.) In order for a judge to check his bias, there are certain traits that he must have. Among them is a security in his own beliefs.

The reason that a certain sense of security (not to be confused with certainty) is important is because in that we are reasonably confident in the integrity of our own belief systems, we do not persecute others for disagreeing with us with respect to political differences or moral differences as a general practice.

What that means is that if I, a liberal, judge a debate about gun control, despite the fact that I am perhaps the most visceral enemy of the 2nd Amendment on all of DDO, I acknowledge that it is ok that other people think differently than I do. In that I acknowledge that difference, I am open-minded enough to hear alternative theories of firearm policy and the reasons for them *without* feeling that my own belief system is coming under attack. I am also not so pretentious as to think that I have comprehensively solved the issue of gun control in the United States. So, when I judge a debate about gun control, I am equally likely before reading the debate to either side -which is to say that I am "persuadable" without deference to either side of the issue.

It is important that I be "persuadable" without deference to either side of the issue because to the extent that I am, the meaning of "debate" changes from one of exchanging and comparing the relative strength of certain arguments and ideas, to one of amassing behind me as many people as I reasonably think agree with me. We have an arena to do the latter activity. It's called "the American political process." DDO is not the American political process.

Impartiality, likewise, is more an obligation of honor than of policy. We can write policies that oblige people to be "impartial" but proving bias is a very hard thing to do, for reasons that are beyond the scope of this post. What that means is that if you, as a judge, give a side that you agree with the win because you agree with that side, you have dishonored yourself, both debaters in any debate you judge and you have dishonored the integrity of the debate process.

The reason you have dishonored yourself is because of the fact that you have transgressed a moral obligation you became bound to uphold in the moment that you undertook the act of judging a debate. The reason you have dishonored both debaters is because debate is because you have acted unfairly to one at the expense of the other and conferred upon one an unearned merit and denied the other his or her due. The reason you have dishonored the debate process is because debate is an exchange of arguments and ideas before it is anything else, and to the extent that you fail to judge a debate on anything other than the relative strength of arguments you have betrayed the very foundation of what it means to debate.

Debating, like everything else, is an activity which has moral gravity and as a judge you have a moral duty to judge as impartially as possible. If you do not think that you can check your bias, you have no business judging debates.
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YYW
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2/5/2015 7:23:44 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
What is an objective win? What is an objective loss?

A reasonable judge is an impartial one, whose mind is persuadable and open without deference to either debater or their perspective.

An objective win is a circumstance in which a debater's arguments are such that no reasonable judge could give them the loss.

An objective loss is a circumstance in which a debater's arguments are such that no reasonable judge could give them the win.

Debates exist on a spectrum between objective wins and objective losses. To the extent that a debate is an objective win, the other is an objective loss and vice versa.

Conceptually, it looks like this:

(OW)|==========|(tie)|==========|(OL)

The space between them represents ambiguity; that is to say, the likelihood that a reasonable judge as described above might or might not give a win or a loss.

Imagine each of the ten "equals signs" above as indicating ten points on a gradient scale, with a tie at "zero."

If a debate (where "debate" refers to the totality of arguments proffered by one side) is a -7, then there is a 30% chance of a reasonable judge NOT granting that person a win. If a debate is a 9, then there is a 10% chance that a reasonable judge would give them the loss.

Many debates fall between -10 and 10, but do not come with certainty to an objective win or loss. Some debates do, and to the extent that any person gives a -10 a loss they must be biased or inept; perhaps they are inept because they are biased, or they are biased because they are inept. In any event, they are not reasonable judges.

It is "to be reasonable judges" that we all must aspire, as to be a reasonable judge is to be fair, that is to say, to fulfill the moral obligation that all judges have to debaters with respect to the debates they, the judges, undertake to judge.
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YYW
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2/5/2015 8:28:43 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
The final thing that I would emphasize is probably one that will come with some irony, given my political affiliations; it's about culture and the limits of policy.

No policy can make a man want to be good. Policies can only penalize people for being bad. While policies can affect culture, in that our policies establish thresholds of acceptable behavior, fear of penalty only makes people want to avoid the penalty by doing the thing that will invoke it.

Maybe that's too nuanced a point for people to appreciate here, but it's the essential reason why new voter reform policies are not going to really accomplish what we ultimately want. They might, in a number of ways, move us in the right direction... but that's going to be it.
Tsar of DDO
debatability
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2/5/2015 8:59:30 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/5/2015 8:28:43 PM, YYW wrote:

one question about voting: What ought to be done in the event that a debater's argument is ridiculously flawed thus causing the judge to not buy it.. yet the debater's opponent has not addressed the argument.

I know this doesn't really relate to the OP but I've run into this on occasion when judging novice debate rounds and I never know what to do in situations where whoever wins the debate comes down to one argument. Should I let the fact that their argument is flawed/abusive cause it to fall? or should their argument stand since their opponent did very little to address it?

Rarely would a quality debate come down to that, but novice LD rounds are something else XD
YYW
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2/5/2015 9:11:44 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/5/2015 8:59:30 PM, debatability wrote:
At 2/5/2015 8:28:43 PM, YYW wrote:

one question about voting: What ought to be done in the event that a debater's argument is ridiculously flawed thus causing the judge to not buy it.. yet the debater's opponent has not addressed the argument.

Then the argument is bad, such that it cannot win against the opponent.

I know this doesn't really relate to the OP but I've run into this on occasion when judging novice debate rounds and I never know what to do in situations where whoever wins the debate comes down to one argument. Should I let the fact that their argument is flawed/abusive cause it to fall? or should their argument stand since their opponent did very little to address it?

Different judges will answer that question differently. Some judges will not penalize a bad argument unless his opponent at least points out that it is bad, whereas some judges will not penalize a bad argument unless his opponent points out both that it is bad and why, and other judges will not consider an argument that is incomprehensible, and in that case it's a question of "who sucks less."

Rarely would a quality debate come down to that, but novice LD rounds are something else XD

With notices, the overarching issue is usually "who sucks less" lol
Tsar of DDO
bsh1
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2/5/2015 9:12:33 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
I agree with much of this. Good post.
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debatability
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2/5/2015 9:18:49 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/5/2015 9:11:44 PM, YYW wrote:
At 2/5/2015 8:59:30 PM, debatability wrote:
At 2/5/2015 8:28:43 PM, YYW wrote:

one question about voting: What ought to be done in the event that a debater's argument is ridiculously flawed thus causing the judge to not buy it.. yet the debater's opponent has not addressed the argument.

Then the argument is bad, such that it cannot win against the opponent.

I know this doesn't really relate to the OP but I've run into this on occasion when judging novice debate rounds and I never know what to do in situations where whoever wins the debate comes down to one argument. Should I let the fact that their argument is flawed/abusive cause it to fall? or should their argument stand since their opponent did very little to address it?

Different judges will answer that question differently. Some judges will not penalize a bad argument unless his opponent at least points out that it is bad, whereas some judges will not penalize a bad argument unless his opponent points out both that it is bad and why, and other judges will not consider an argument that is incomprehensible, and in that case it's a question of "who sucks less."


I tend to do the former and only vote someone down if their opponent contests their rediculously bad arguments. I was just wondering if there's a "right" way to judge in those situations. You're right though. It really just comes down to who sucks less lol.

Rarely would a quality debate come down to that, but novice LD rounds are something else XD

With notices, the overarching issue is usually "who sucks less" lol
YYW
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2/5/2015 9:31:09 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/5/2015 9:18:49 PM, debatability wrote:
At 2/5/2015 9:11:44 PM, YYW wrote:
At 2/5/2015 8:59:30 PM, debatability wrote:
At 2/5/2015 8:28:43 PM, YYW wrote:

one question about voting: What ought to be done in the event that a debater's argument is ridiculously flawed thus causing the judge to not buy it.. yet the debater's opponent has not addressed the argument.

Then the argument is bad, such that it cannot win against the opponent.

I know this doesn't really relate to the OP but I've run into this on occasion when judging novice debate rounds and I never know what to do in situations where whoever wins the debate comes down to one argument. Should I let the fact that their argument is flawed/abusive cause it to fall? or should their argument stand since their opponent did very little to address it?

Different judges will answer that question differently. Some judges will not penalize a bad argument unless his opponent at least points out that it is bad, whereas some judges will not penalize a bad argument unless his opponent points out both that it is bad and why, and other judges will not consider an argument that is incomprehensible, and in that case it's a question of "who sucks less."


I tend to do the former and only vote someone down if their opponent contests their rediculously bad arguments. I was just wondering if there's a "right" way to judge in those situations. You're right though. It really just comes down to who sucks less lol.

At the end of the day, it's always about who sucks less, because by whatever mechanism you're evaluating them (whether a shitty argument gets extended because an opponent dropped it or whether you don't extend an argument because it was clearly shitty) it all comes down to "who sucked less." That person wins.

There are some debates where those philosophical differences actually can turn the outcome of debates. On my scale, those are debates between equally matched competitors, and they're like 1's and -1's or something like that.

Like, in a debate between thett and bsh1, that's going to be a close debate because they're about evenly matched. But, in a debate between, for example, bsh1 and dsjpk5... well, there's going to be a clear winner there. lol

The irony is that the people who judge debates, to the extent that they are shitty, disincentivize very talented debaters from having open vote debates. Like, dsjpk5 doesn't even try to be impartial. He just vomits up what he agrees with, gives that person the win and moves on to vomit on the next person he disagrees with.

There are others, like the last two people who have voted on bsh1's debate with Cassie regarding gay marriage, who were just too inept to understand how arguments' relative strengths measure against one another. It is clear that both of them hadn't even the foggiest idea what bsh1 actually said. Maybe that's because they're morons, or they didn't read the debate. Both possibilities.

The most likely explanation, though, is that their totalizing ignorance is what caused them not to give bsh1 the win because it is one of those cases where "no reasonable judge" could give bsh1 the win.

Rarely would a quality debate come down to that, but novice LD rounds are something else XD

With notices, the overarching issue is usually "who sucks less" lol
Tsar of DDO
Whataburger
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2/6/2015 12:34:38 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
I recently had a debate with Wylted in which a major point of concern was whether his tactics in the round were honest, and if not whether or not a vote for him could be warranted.

You can see the thread started about it here: http://www.debate.org...

and the debate itself here: http://www.debate.org...

I wanted to mention this as I think it's a relevant extension to the discussion of responsible voting. Now I will qualify my post to say that I am new to DDO, but not new to the debate community at large. Issues with a judge's legitimacy don't see public scrutiny nearly as often in the high school and college debate scene as it would appear they do on DDO. In the debate formats I'm accustomed to there may be some inter-squad complaint about a judge's decision and rarely that complaint may be brought to the attention of the tournament director, but by and large we live by the rule that the judge is god and her decision is final.

That doesn't seem like the case here on DDO. For one the necessary qualifications to judge a debate are far more lax, one's ballot isn't intrinsically linked to their real-world identity and there don't seem to be any universal community guidelines in place for framework. With a lack common framework to guide our discussions voting decisions can be largely arbitrary and the fear of turning off other debaters keeps members from voting.

I think that it is crucial for a judge to be a tabula rasa as they can, but as DDO is a public debate forum, I think more responsibility needs to be placed on the debaters rather than the judges. In oral debate, I can call a point of order if I feel my opponent is being abuse to me, but in a written debates posted in time-restraints I can't interject at all.

My complaint in the debate I had with Wylted was that his arguments in the final round were not only abuse, they also broke the rules I set out in round 1. So if never the opportunity to decry that action in the debate space, what course of action should the ethical judge take? Should we expect them to go out of their way to dig through comments and forum threads to probe the issues raised in greater depth? Is that a fair thing to expect of them?

Ethical judging is only possible with ethical debaters. I think that's it's largely unfair to expect a citizen judge to be fully unbiased, and to such an extend it's important to hold the debaters accountable for unethical conduct in-round.
YYW
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2/7/2015 11:30:55 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
There is an ongoing question for me, with respect to the issue of voting, that principally comes out as whether the time it would require me to teach someone to vote correctly is worth it. Ideally, I would teach one or two people, and they would teach others, but the process of teaching is a difficult enough thing to do (especially given that people learn at different rates) and the process of teaching someone how to vote is something that requires a tremendous amount of work even in the best cases.

As a general rule, the better thing I think for me to do will only be to lay out an intellectual framework for voting, as I have before. This is not the only approach, but it's the approach that I use because it is the most fair. I will briefly sketch it now:

There are two kinds of debates that exist on DDO, in general terms; debates which present issues of fact, and debates which present issues of opinion. In more precise language, we call these "positive" and "normative" resolutions, respectively. An issue of opinion presents an "ought" question. An issue of fact presents a question of what "is," which is to say "what is or is not the case."

Suppose Whiteflame and I debate about whether a particular Zoo in Irvine, California (assume for the sake of argument that Irvine has at least one zoo, although I don't know that that's the case) ought to include a penguin exhibit. If whiteflame is PRO then he has the responsibility to present arguments that would persuade a reasonable judge that the particular zoo in Irvine should include a penguin exhibit. If I am CON then I have the responsibility to show that that same zoo ought NOT include a penguin exhibit. Various kinds of arguments may follow.

Arguments for PRO might be that:
1. Penguin exhibits are very attractive to consumers with children as may economically benefit the zoo. (read: penguin exhibit will make the zoo money)

2. The zoo in question has space that is not being used, that would be well suited for a penguin exhibit.

3. Penguin exhibits at zoos generally raise awareness to certain environmental problems as may inspire the zoo's visitors to live "greener" lifestyles.

Arguments for CON might include:
1. While penguin exhibits are very attractive to consumers, the cost of developing and maintaining a humane penguin exhibit would be greater than the cost of developing and maintaining a big cat exhibit -which the zoo currently does not have.

2. Market research suggests that citizens of Irvine, CA and surrounding areas within reasonable traveling proximity to the zoo's physical location prefer big cats to penguins.

3. Big cat exhibits are more environmentally friendly to run and maintain, given that big cat exhibits do not require refrigeration.

Here, I have presented a reasonable alternative to the proposal inherent in affirming the resolution. The reason this is a permissible debate technique is because whereas PRO must persuade that the penguin exhibit is 'the way to go', CON only has the responsibility to persuade *against* the penguin exhibit. So, it's a choice between penguin exhibit or not penguin exhibit. Implicit in the "not penguin exhibit" range of options is "any option other than the penguin exhibit" which would include the "big cat" exhibit I referred too.

Is this fair? Yes. There are a myriad of options at the disposal of one who desires to negate a resolution, and while the burdens of persuasion are equal, the range of arguments available to PRO with this resolution are necessarily narrower than the range of arguments available to CON.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Now, suppose that we're proceeding into the second round:

Whiteflame responds:

1. While penguin exhibits are very attractive to consumers, the cost of developing and maintaining a humane penguin exhibit would be greater than the cost of developing and maintaining a big cat exhibit -which the zoo currently does not have.

>>>There is exactly twenty thousand square feet of space available for a new exhibit, which is an insufficient size to house big cats. Keeping big cats in spaces of twenty thousand square feet or less is inhumane. So, even if developing and maintaining a big cat exhibit would be cheaper, it would be inhumane and therefore unethical to develop a big cat exhibit in the space provided.

2. Market research suggests that citizens of Irvine, CA and surrounding areas within reasonable traveling proximity to the zoo's physical location prefer big cats to penguins.

>>>Given Irvine residents' fondness for big cats, they would be particularly aggrieved by the development of an inhumane big cat exhibit.

3. Big cat exhibits are more environmentally friendly to run and maintain, given that big cat exhibits do not require refrigeration.

>>>While a big cat exhibit may be cheaper to run and maintain, to the extent that consumers believed the inhumane exhibit was unethical they would be disinclined to visit it, as would make the big cat exhibit an economically unprofitable use of the zoo's resources.

----------------------------------

I respond to Whiteflame:

1. Penguin exhibits are very attractive to consumers with children as may economically benefit the zoo. (read: penguin exhibit will make the zoo money)

>>>The aggregated electrical costs of maintaining a penguin exhibit, along with the costs of constructing a large refrigerated exhibit of at least 10,000 square feet of space as may be minimally adequate to house the penguins would cost more than the zoo could expect to net over a period of ten years.

2. The zoo in question has space that is not being used, that would be well suited for a penguin exhibit.

>>>The space is located along the periphery of the zoo's property, which borders the parking lot of an abandoned building. It would cost less to buy the adjacent property (1.5 square miles) and develop it for an open-air big cat exhibit than it would to build the penguin exhibit.

3. Penguin exhibits at zoos generally raise awareness to certain environmental problems as may inspire the zoo's visitors to live "greener" lifestyles.

>>>Given Irvine, California's climate, an open-air penguin exhibit for penguins would be impossible. A big cat exhibit, over a period of twenty years, would consume less electricity than a penguin exhibit in the space available would in one year.

----------

More to come later...
Tsar of DDO
bluesteel
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2/7/2015 11:55:50 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/5/2015 8:59:30 PM, debatability wrote:
At 2/5/2015 8:28:43 PM, YYW wrote:

one question about voting: What ought to be done in the event that a debater's argument is ridiculously flawed thus causing the judge to not buy it.. yet the debater's opponent has not addressed the argument.

I know this doesn't really relate to the OP but I've run into this on occasion when judging novice debate rounds and I never know what to do in situations where whoever wins the debate comes down to one argument. Should I let the fact that their argument is flawed/abusive cause it to fall? or should their argument stand since their opponent did very little to address it?

Rarely would a quality debate come down to that, but novice LD rounds are something else XD

If the round actually comes down to who wins that argument, then vote on it because it was dropped. Not doing so fails to teach a novice debater the penalty for dropping dumb arguments.

If one novice actually had a solid case and the dropped argument has to be weighed against other things, give it less weight because it is so implausible.

If one novice is lying about sources, penalize him. I've had to vote down a Parli team for blatantly lying about what a specific law did, even though their opponent didn't call them on it. I hate Parli debaters who do that. I'm not voting on a factual lie, especially in an evidence-less debate where your opponent can't ask for your card.

They won anyway though. The other two judges on the panel weren't knowledgeable enough to know they were blatantly lying.
You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into - Jonathan Swift (paraphrase)
YYW
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2/7/2015 11:59:52 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/7/2015 11:55:50 AM, bluesteel wrote:
At 2/5/2015 8:59:30 PM, debatability wrote:
At 2/5/2015 8:28:43 PM, YYW wrote:

one question about voting: What ought to be done in the event that a debater's argument is ridiculously flawed thus causing the judge to not buy it.. yet the debater's opponent has not addressed the argument.

I know this doesn't really relate to the OP but I've run into this on occasion when judging novice debate rounds and I never know what to do in situations where whoever wins the debate comes down to one argument. Should I let the fact that their argument is flawed/abusive cause it to fall? or should their argument stand since their opponent did very little to address it?

Rarely would a quality debate come down to that, but novice LD rounds are something else XD

If the round actually comes down to who wins that argument, then vote on it because it was dropped. Not doing so fails to teach a novice debater the penalty for dropping dumb arguments.

If one novice actually had a solid case and the dropped argument has to be weighed against other things, give it less weight because it is so implausible.

If one novice is lying about sources, penalize him. I've had to vote down a Parli team for blatantly lying about what a specific law did, even though their opponent didn't call them on it. I hate Parli debaters who do that. I'm not voting on a factual lie, especially in an evidence-less debate where your opponent can't ask for your card.

They won anyway though. The other two judges on the panel weren't knowledgeable enough to know they were blatantly lying.

I've had situations like that too, with LD. I hate it...

Liars can not win.
Tsar of DDO
bluesteel
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2/7/2015 12:07:33 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/5/2015 7:13:00 PM, YYW wrote:
Recent events widely known to all of us have given rise to certain discussions about voting policies. I think that the fact that those discussions are taking place suggests the extent to which we are interested in a level of reform with regard to the issue of voting, as a community.

Before it is anything else, voting is an act which obliges all who undertake it to do it with respect to each debater. What it means to "vote with respect to each debater" is to approach voting *as if* you had no preference for either side. Practically, this is impossible to do for a variety of reasons that relate to the intricacies of human cognition, but it is nevertheless an ideal against which we must measure ourselves *before* even beginning to read a debate.

The reason for this is fairly straightforward: judging a debate is not the same thing as rendering an opinion on an issue, it is nothing more than indicating whose arguments were better reasoned. Deciding which arguments are "better reasoned" does not depend on your thoughts or opinions with regard to the particular issue that is being debated. It's about logical structure, organization, coherency, the strength and substance of rebuttals, and the like. These criteria are not evaluated on the basis of how a judge feels (that is to say, what opinion they hold), but on an objective standard (to the extent that is possible) of who was "better."

That said, judging a debate is a necessarily subjective exercise. Even though judging is a necessarily subjective exercise, that does not mean that the arguments with which you are more personally sympathetic ought to win on the basis of their congruence with your personal beliefs. The only way a debate can be fairly judged is to, as best you can as a judge, check your beliefs at the metaphorical "door" before you even enter the room where a debate is taking place. Make no mistake, this is no easy task. Even Antonin Scalia, the longest presently-serving judge on the Supreme Court of the United States, tends to favor in first amendment cases speech that he is politically sympathetic too, and disfavor speech that he is not politically sympathetic too.

If Antonin Scalia (whose politics I fervently disagree with but whose command of the law and intellectual capacity is beyond reproach) has a difficult time with this, then it is reasonable that you and I will too. That does not mean, however, that it is "ok" to give a side a win that is undeserved to a side that objectively lost. (More on this notion of "objective losses" later. For now, suffice to say that an objective loss is one in which no reasonable person could grant a win without bias.) In order for a judge to check his bias, there are certain traits that he must have. Among them is a security in his own beliefs.

The reason that a certain sense of security (not to be confused with certainty) is important is because in that we are reasonably confident in the integrity of our own belief systems, we do not persecute others for disagreeing with us with respect to political differences or moral differences as a general practice.

What that means is that if I, a liberal, judge a debate about gun control, despite the fact that I am perhaps the most visceral enemy of the 2nd Amendment on all of DDO, I acknowledge that it is ok that other people think differently than I do. In that I acknowledge that difference, I am open-minded enough to hear alternative theories of firearm policy and the reasons for them *without* feeling that my own belief system is coming under attack. I am also not so pretentious as to think that I have comprehensively solved the issue of gun control in the United States. So, when I judge a debate about gun control, I am equally likely before reading the debate to either side -which is to say that I am "persuadable" without deference to either side of the issue.

It is important that I be "persuadable" without deference to either side of the issue because to the extent that I am, the meaning of "debate" changes from one of exchanging and comparing the relative strength of certain arguments and ideas, to one of amassing behind me as many people as I reasonably think agree with me. We have an arena to do the latter activity. It's called "the American political process." DDO is not the American political process.

Impartiality, likewise, is more an obligation of honor than of policy. We can write policies that oblige people to be "impartial" but proving bias is a very hard thing to do, for reasons that are beyond the scope of this post. What that means is that if you, as a judge, give a side that you agree with the win because you agree with that side, you have dishonored yourself, both debaters in any debate you judge and you have dishonored the integrity of the debate process.

The reason you have dishonored yourself is because of the fact that you have transgressed a moral obligation you became bound to uphold in the moment that you undertook the act of judging a debate. The reason you have dishonored both debaters is because debate is because you have acted unfairly to one at the expense of the other and conferred upon one an unearned merit and denied the other his or her due. The reason you have dishonored the debate process is because debate is an exchange of arguments and ideas before it is anything else, and to the extent that you fail to judge a debate on anything other than the relative strength of arguments you have betrayed the very foundation of what it means to debate.

Debating, like everything else, is an activity which has moral gravity and as a judge you have a moral duty to judge as impartially as possible. If you do not think that you can check your bias, you have no business judging debates.

Good post. I just wanna add a couple things.

Justice Scalia favors decisional principles that minimize a judge's personal bias determining the outcome. Originalism is a relatively objective standard: what did the words of the Constitution mean at the time of the Founding? How would the Founders have answered this question? If we don't like what the Founders would have done, the Constitution gives us a solution: amend the Constitution. In contrast, a living Constitution approach literally just expresses the policy preferences of 5 justices on the Supreme Court. There is a worry that the Court will sit as a superlegislature judging the wisdom of every single law that was passed. While many people would prefer such a system because the Supreme Court has a far higher intelligence level and favorability rating than Congress, it is not the system given to us by the Constitution. So does Justice Scalia never allow his personal politics to impact his decisions? No. His dissent with Lawrence makes his biases obvious. He doesn't dissent just on principle, but rails against the pro-homosexual academics who advance the gay agenda. But in general, Scalia advocates a judging style that normally would not allow him to vote his personal opinions.

Many people on DDO adopt a style of judging that simply asks: which side do I agree with after the debate is over? That is as subjective as you get. The objective way to judge is to ask: if I had no personal opinion and knew nothing about this topic beforehand, which side would have convinced me?

To minimize bias, a judge should even be a bit harsher on the side they agree with. You know what arguments are out there; if the debater fails to make the strongest case that you know is possible, don't reward them for it. That's actually proof that they didn't make some of the arguments that originally convinced you, so their case is weaker than what it would have taken to convince you if you were a blank slate (tabula rasa).
You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into - Jonathan Swift (paraphrase)
YYW
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2/7/2015 12:13:58 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Tabula rasa judging is, theoretically, a great idea. The problem is that most people can't do it. They bring what they know to the exercise of judging, and they can't help but not judge arguments with which they agree with some level of deference and arguments they disagree with, with some level of objection -conscious or otherwise.

The "security in your own beliefs" point was more or less to suggest that "judging a debate is not rendering a final verdict on the issue." So, a person's individual perspective on a debate must have no impact on how they judge the debate. Getting to that point of intellectual security is what makes tabula rasa judging a possibility.
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DarthVitiosus
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2/7/2015 1:14:33 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/5/2015 7:13:00 PM, YYW wrote:

What may be impartial to you may not be impartial to me.Who determines what is impartial and what is not?

What is fair to you may not be fair to me. Who determines fairness?

Should we be voting on who provided the better arguments? Or should we be voting whether Pro has met the resolution? Or perhaps we should be arguing which side was more persuasive? Or maybe we should be voting based on something else?

You may think you have the merits to speak authoritatively on this subject but I don't believe so. On what merit do you have to tell others how to vote?

I have formal debating experience and I have yet to come to a conclusion about this with others who have formal debating experience. I am not so sure you will be able come to a decisive agreement because most people will argue for whatever rules will favor themselves. They will always complain when someone votes in a way they dislike. Fairness is only as relevant as their win.
WILL NOT BE REMOVED UNTIL:
#1. I have met 10 people worth discussing with on DDO who are not interested in ideological or romantic visions of the world we all live in.
#2. 10 people admit they have no interest in any one else's opinion other than their own.
#3. 10 people admit they are products of their environment and their ideas derive from said environment rather than doing any serious critical thinking and search for answers themselves.
bluesteel
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2/7/2015 1:26:11 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/7/2015 12:13:58 PM, YYW wrote:
Tabula rasa judging is, theoretically, a great idea. The problem is that most people can't do it. They bring what they know to the exercise of judging, and they can't help but not judge arguments with which they agree with some level of deference and arguments they disagree with, with some level of objection -conscious or otherwise.

I agree it's difficult to apply, but that doesn't mean people shouldn't adopt a tabula rasa analytical method over their normal method. People argue that Originalism is difficult to apply because the historical record of what the Founders thought can be ambiguous or even contradictory. For example, the Federalist Papers are the primary resource for the Founders views, but the Founders disagreed on certain issues, e.g. small vs. big government (i.e. Jefferson vs. Hamilton).

But ultimately, I mostly agree with Scalia's approach. I don't like Kennedy's approach to the Constitution which is extremely subjective. I disagree with Scalia on specifics; I think the right to privacy inheres in the Ninth Amendment, whereas Scalia would read that Amendment as meaning nothing (as being merely rhetoric to convince the constitutional delegation to adopt the rest of the Bill of Rights).

So in essence, I don't care if people say tabula rasa is too hard a framework to apply. Every single RFD should at least purport to apply it. I have the most problem with RFD's that do not even attempt a tabula rasa approach, but rather conclude with: Pro simply failed to convince me. I prefer a biased attempt to apply tabula rasa than no attempt to apply tabula rasa.

The "security in your own beliefs" point was more or less to suggest that "judging a debate is not rendering a final verdict on the issue." So, a person's individual perspective on a debate must have no impact on how they judge the debate. Getting to that point of intellectual security is what makes tabula rasa judging a possibility.

I agree with this.
You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into - Jonathan Swift (paraphrase)
YYW
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2/7/2015 2:25:15 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/7/2015 1:26:11 PM, bluesteel wrote:
At 2/7/2015 12:13:58 PM, YYW wrote:
Tabula rasa judging is, theoretically, a great idea. The problem is that most people can't do it. They bring what they know to the exercise of judging, and they can't help but not judge arguments with which they agree with some level of deference and arguments they disagree with, with some level of objection -conscious or otherwise.

I agree it's difficult to apply, but that doesn't mean people shouldn't adopt a tabula rasa analytical method over their normal method. People argue that Originalism is difficult to apply because the historical record of what the Founders thought can be ambiguous or even contradictory. For example, the Federalist Papers are the primary resource for the Founders views, but the Founders disagreed on certain issues, e.g. small vs. big government (i.e. Jefferson vs. Hamilton).

Yup.

But ultimately, I mostly agree with Scalia's approach. I don't like Kennedy's approach to the Constitution which is extremely subjective. I disagree with Scalia on specifics; I think the right to privacy inheres in the Ninth Amendment, whereas Scalia would read that Amendment as meaning nothing (as being merely rhetoric to convince the constitutional delegation to adopt the rest of the Bill of Rights).

Scalia is only a fair-weather originalist, though. I agree with you on Kennedy, but I'm generally more sympathetic to Ginsburg than to Scalia. That said, while I make fun of Scalia from time to time in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way (for a number of reasons we can discuss in the politics section if you like), I understand why he does what he does the way he does it.

So in essence, I don't care if people say tabula rasa is too hard a framework to apply. Every single RFD should at least purport to apply it. I have the most problem with RFD's that do not even attempt a tabula rasa approach, but rather conclude with: Pro simply failed to convince me. I prefer a biased attempt to apply tabula rasa than no attempt to apply tabula rasa.

I would agree with that, too. Many, many RFD's I see are shitty attempts to rationalize giving a side that specific voters disagreed with losses. I see three votes of that variety in bsh1's debate with Cassie the last time I checked it.

But a judge who isn't at least willing to try check their personal beliefs at the door has no business judging.

The "security in your own beliefs" point was more or less to suggest that "judging a debate is not rendering a final verdict on the issue." So, a person's individual perspective on a debate must have no impact on how they judge the debate. Getting to that point of intellectual security is what makes tabula rasa judging a possibility.

I agree with this.
Tsar of DDO
bluesteel
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2/7/2015 2:35:02 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/7/2015 2:25:15 PM, YYW wrote:
At 2/7/2015 1:26:11 PM, bluesteel wrote:
At 2/7/2015 12:13:58 PM, YYW wrote:
Tabula rasa judging is, theoretically, a great idea. The problem is that most people can't do it. They bring what they know to the exercise of judging, and they can't help but not judge arguments with which they agree with some level of deference and arguments they disagree with, with some level of objection -conscious or otherwise.

I agree it's difficult to apply, but that doesn't mean people shouldn't adopt a tabula rasa analytical method over their normal method. People argue that Originalism is difficult to apply because the historical record of what the Founders thought can be ambiguous or even contradictory. For example, the Federalist Papers are the primary resource for the Founders views, but the Founders disagreed on certain issues, e.g. small vs. big government (i.e. Jefferson vs. Hamilton).

Yup.

But ultimately, I mostly agree with Scalia's approach. I don't like Kennedy's approach to the Constitution which is extremely subjective. I disagree with Scalia on specifics; I think the right to privacy inheres in the Ninth Amendment, whereas Scalia would read that Amendment as meaning nothing (as being merely rhetoric to convince the constitutional delegation to adopt the rest of the Bill of Rights).

Scalia is only a fair-weather originalist, though. I agree with you on Kennedy, but I'm generally more sympathetic to Ginsburg than to Scalia. That said, while I make fun of Scalia from time to time in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way (for a number of reasons we can discuss in the politics section if you like), I understand why he does what he does the way he does it.

He's definitely a fair weather textualist. I don't know if he's a fair weather originalist. Can you point me to a decision where he completely ignores originalism, to satisfy my own curiosity?

I have nothing against Ginsburg, I just can't remember the last time I actually read a Ginsburg opinion or dissent or concurrence. Her constitutional thinking doesn't seem like it is influential enough to get excerpted very often. Scalia, in contrast, is the most excerpted justice since even his dissents raise good points. Among the liberals, Breyer gets the most showcasing. Sotomayor and Kagan are both new, but Sotomayor gets featured on social issues/criminal justice and Kagan on structural/separation of power issues (given that was her area of scholarship).

No hate on Ginsburg, just, she and Alito are relatively invisible to me, and I've read a lot of cases.


So in essence, I don't care if people say tabula rasa is too hard a framework to apply. Every single RFD should at least purport to apply it. I have the most problem with RFD's that do not even attempt a tabula rasa approach, but rather conclude with: Pro simply failed to convince me. I prefer a biased attempt to apply tabula rasa than no attempt to apply tabula rasa.

I would agree with that, too. Many, many RFD's I see are shitty attempts to rationalize giving a side that specific voters disagreed with losses. I see three votes of that variety in bsh1's debate with Cassie the last time I checked it.

But a judge who isn't at least willing to try check their personal beliefs at the door has no business judging.

The "security in your own beliefs" point was more or less to suggest that "judging a debate is not rendering a final verdict on the issue." So, a person's individual perspective on a debate must have no impact on how they judge the debate. Getting to that point of intellectual security is what makes tabula rasa judging a possibility.

I agree with this.
You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into - Jonathan Swift (paraphrase)
YYW
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2/7/2015 2:35:52 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/7/2015 1:14:33 PM, DarthVitiosus wrote:
At 2/5/2015 7:13:00 PM, YYW wrote:

What may be impartial to you may not be impartial to me.Who determines what is impartial and what is not?

That's an unintelligible statement. It's like saying objectivity is subjective, or that the color black is not actually black, but white; that Morocco is not Morocco but Tibet, or that iPhones are not iPhones, but androids.

What is fair to you may not be fair to me. Who determines fairness?

So, I'm not really talking about "fairness" so much as I am talking about a reasonable judge, who is fair only because that judge (who is more or less a hypothetical person) judges without deference to either side. It's a standard by which we measure ourselves as judges -and which Bluesteel, white flame, bladerunner and I might measure you if you cast a biased vote ;)

Should we be voting on who provided the better arguments? Or should we be voting whether Pro has met the resolution? Or perhaps we should be arguing which side was more persuasive? Or maybe we should be voting based on something else?

I've answered all of those questions above. Did you read what I wrote?

You may think you have the merits to speak authoritatively on this subject but I don't believe so. On what merit do you have to tell others how to vote?

This is meaningless as well. You desire that I should list my resume? If you need my resume to validate what I'm saying, then you've already lost the ball.

I mean, the fact that you're asking me this question speaks to the extent to which you have no concept of how the presentation of arguments actually works.

I have formal debating experience and I have yet to come to a conclusion about this with others who have formal debating experience. I am not so sure you will be able come to a decisive agreement because most people will argue for whatever rules will favor themselves. They will always complain when someone votes in a way they dislike. Fairness is only as relevant as their win.

I don't really care what your formal debating experience is. If you disagree with the notion that votes should be cast as objectively as possible, you're wrong. The reason you're wrong is because to the extent that votes are not as objective as possible, then there is no point in even debating because the exercise of debate is meaningless. It's just about amassing as many people who agree with you to vote for you. So, we're not "debating" so much as "engaging in a more or less political process" that is roughly analogous to ideological elections.
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YYW
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2/7/2015 2:42:36 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/7/2015 2:35:02 PM, bluesteel wrote:
At 2/7/2015 2:25:15 PM, YYW wrote:
At 2/7/2015 1:26:11 PM, bluesteel wrote:
At 2/7/2015 12:13:58 PM, YYW wrote:
Tabula rasa judging is, theoretically, a great idea. The problem is that most people can't do it. They bring what they know to the exercise of judging, and they can't help but not judge arguments with which they agree with some level of deference and arguments they disagree with, with some level of objection -conscious or otherwise.

I agree it's difficult to apply, but that doesn't mean people shouldn't adopt a tabula rasa analytical method over their normal method. People argue that Originalism is difficult to apply because the historical record of what the Founders thought can be ambiguous or even contradictory. For example, the Federalist Papers are the primary resource for the Founders views, but the Founders disagreed on certain issues, e.g. small vs. big government (i.e. Jefferson vs. Hamilton).

Yup.

But ultimately, I mostly agree with Scalia's approach. I don't like Kennedy's approach to the Constitution which is extremely subjective. I disagree with Scalia on specifics; I think the right to privacy inheres in the Ninth Amendment, whereas Scalia would read that Amendment as meaning nothing (as being merely rhetoric to convince the constitutional delegation to adopt the rest of the Bill of Rights).

Scalia is only a fair-weather originalist, though. I agree with you on Kennedy, but I'm generally more sympathetic to Ginsburg than to Scalia. That said, while I make fun of Scalia from time to time in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way (for a number of reasons we can discuss in the politics section if you like), I understand why he does what he does the way he does it.

He's definitely a fair weather textualist. I don't know if he's a fair weather originalist. Can you point me to a decision where he completely ignores originalism, to satisfy my own curiosity?

Any case where he has ever opined about affirmative action, gay rights, or free speech that is inconsistent with socially conservative ideology.

Not that this is a perfect source... but it sort of suggests the concept...

http://www.bloombergview.com...

I have nothing against Ginsburg, I just can't remember the last time I actually read a Ginsburg opinion or dissent or concurrence.

Hmmm... that's interesting.

Her constitutional thinking doesn't seem like it is influential enough to get excerpted very often. Scalia, in contrast, is the most excerpted justice since even his dissents raise good points. Among the liberals, Breyer gets the most showcasing. Sotomayor and Kagan are both new, but Sotomayor gets featured on social issues/criminal justice and Kagan on structural/separation of power issues (given that was her area of scholarship).

Whether it's asserted very often or not is sort of distinct from whether I'm more or less sympathetic to it; it's the dissents that she signs onto, or the majority opinions, that speak I think to her way of thinking: contemporary, pragmatic, and not divested from the context in which any particular case arose. I think Kennedy tries this, but he's just not a very smart man.

No hate on Ginsburg, just, she and Alito are relatively invisible to me, and I've read a lot of cases.

The fact that Alito is as insignificant as he is is a good thing. The same applies to Thomas.

So in essence, I don't care if people say tabula rasa is too hard a framework to apply. Every single RFD should at least purport to apply it. I have the most problem with RFD's that do not even attempt a tabula rasa approach, but rather conclude with: Pro simply failed to convince me. I prefer a biased attempt to apply tabula rasa than no attempt to apply tabula rasa.

I would agree with that, too. Many, many RFD's I see are shitty attempts to rationalize giving a side that specific voters disagreed with losses. I see three votes of that variety in bsh1's debate with Cassie the last time I checked it.

But a judge who isn't at least willing to try check their personal beliefs at the door has no business judging.

The "security in your own beliefs" point was more or less to suggest that "judging a debate is not rendering a final verdict on the issue." So, a person's individual perspective on a debate must have no impact on how they judge the debate. Getting to that point of intellectual security is what makes tabula rasa judging a possibility.

I agree with this.
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bluesteel
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2/7/2015 2:44:13 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/7/2015 2:35:52 PM, YYW wrote:
At 2/7/2015 1:14:33 PM, DarthVitiosus wrote:
At 2/5/2015 7:13:00 PM, YYW wrote:

What may be impartial to you may not be impartial to me.Who determines what is impartial and what is not?

That's an unintelligible statement. It's like saying objectivity is subjective, or that the color black is not actually black, but white; that Morocco is not Morocco but Tibet, or that iPhones are not iPhones, but androids.

What is fair to you may not be fair to me. Who determines fairness?

So, I'm not really talking about "fairness" so much as I am talking about a reasonable judge, who is fair only because that judge (who is more or less a hypothetical person) judges without deference to either side. It's a standard by which we measure ourselves as judges -and which Bluesteel, white flame, bladerunner and I might measure you if you cast a biased vote ;)

Should we be voting on who provided the better arguments? Or should we be voting whether Pro has met the resolution? Or perhaps we should be arguing which side was more persuasive? Or maybe we should be voting based on something else?

I've answered all of those questions above. Did you read what I wrote?

You may think you have the merits to speak authoritatively on this subject but I don't believe so. On what merit do you have to tell others how to vote?

This is meaningless as well. You desire that I should list my resume? If you need my resume to validate what I'm saying, then you've already lost the ball.

I mean, the fact that you're asking me this question speaks to the extent to which you have no concept of how the presentation of arguments actually works.

I have formal debating experience and I have yet to come to a conclusion about this with others who have formal debating experience. I am not so sure you will be able come to a decisive agreement because most people will argue for whatever rules will favor themselves. They will always complain when someone votes in a way they dislike. Fairness is only as relevant as their win.

I don't really care what your formal debating experience is. If you disagree with the notion that votes should be cast as objectively as possible, you're wrong. The reason you're wrong is because to the extent that votes are not as objective as possible, then there is no point in even debating because the exercise of debate is meaningless. It's just about amassing as many people who agree with you to vote for you. So, we're not "debating" so much as "engaging in a more or less political process" that is roughly analogous to ideological elections.

Here, here. Agree with all of this.

The debate community is quite large. You can do PF among yourselves at a small school. That doesn't mean your views on debate theory have any validity. The consensus among the most respected members of the community, i.e. the coaches and debaters who do consistently well, is that judging should be as objective as possible. Only idiot coaches think otherwise. If judging were subjective, then a novice would always beat a varsity member as long as he picked the side that you as a coach agreed with. Why even teach debate technique? Just teach people how to win coin flips. Practice flipping technique so they can always choose the better side on the topic. Arguments would be irrelevant.

There is a certain amount of subjectivity in any objective system of analysis, but that *type* of subjectivity is different from the type of subjectivity you get from applying a subjective system of analysis.

To disagree with the premise that judging should be objective is to disagree with the very concept of switch side debating. It is anathema to being a legitimate member of the debate community.
You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into - Jonathan Swift (paraphrase)
bluesteel
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2/7/2015 2:56:01 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/7/2015 2:42:36 PM, YYW wrote:
At 2/7/2015 2:35:02 PM, bluesteel wrote:
At 2/7/2015 2:25:15 PM, YYW wrote:
At 2/7/2015 1:26:11 PM, bluesteel wrote:
At 2/7/2015 12:13:58 PM, YYW wrote:
Tabula rasa judging is, theoretically, a great idea. The problem is that most people can't do it. They bring what they know to the exercise of judging, and they can't help but not judge arguments with which they agree with some level of deference and arguments they disagree with, with some level of objection -conscious or otherwise.

I agree it's difficult to apply, but that doesn't mean people shouldn't adopt a tabula rasa analytical method over their normal method. People argue that Originalism is difficult to apply because the historical record of what the Founders thought can be ambiguous or even contradictory. For example, the Federalist Papers are the primary resource for the Founders views, but the Founders disagreed on certain issues, e.g. small vs. big government (i.e. Jefferson vs. Hamilton).

Yup.

But ultimately, I mostly agree with Scalia's approach. I don't like Kennedy's approach to the Constitution which is extremely subjective. I disagree with Scalia on specifics; I think the right to privacy inheres in the Ninth Amendment, whereas Scalia would read that Amendment as meaning nothing (as being merely rhetoric to convince the constitutional delegation to adopt the rest of the Bill of Rights).

Scalia is only a fair-weather originalist, though. I agree with you on Kennedy, but I'm generally more sympathetic to Ginsburg than to Scalia. That said, while I make fun of Scalia from time to time in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way (for a number of reasons we can discuss in the politics section if you like), I understand why he does what he does the way he does it.

He's definitely a fair weather textualist. I don't know if he's a fair weather originalist. Can you point me to a decision where he completely ignores originalism, to satisfy my own curiosity?

Any case where he has ever opined about affirmative action, gay rights, or free speech that is inconsistent with socially conservative ideology.

Not that this is a perfect source... but it sort of suggests the concept...

I read that argument when I got to law school, and it sounded true at the time. Having read Scalia a lot more now, I think its argument is not true. It argues that he is non-originalist for the 14th Amendment because the Reconstruction-era framers believed in using race conscious measurements, so affirmative action is consistent with original meaning. But originalism is a form of textual interpretation. As the article notes, originalism does not give effect to what was in the minds of the Framers if it contradicts the text. The rule for originalism is that textualism always trumps: if the text is unambiguous, you go with the textual meaning. The Equal Protection Clause in the 14th Amendment guarantees equal protection under the law. "Equal protection under the law" is unambiguously equality of opportunity, not equal of outcome. The law provides unequal protection if it privileges blacks. Scalia's problem with say: some Reconstruction era Senators favored affirmative action is that the legislative record itself is ambiguous. Some Reconstruction era framers did not favor affirmative action. The real question is what did "equal protection under the law" mean when the Amendment was adopted, not what some Senators believed.

A more fair criticism is that Scalia is a fair weather textualist. His decisions on sovereign immunity *do* look to the intent over the Framers over an unambiguous text, which would not extend sovereign immunity to disputes that involve a citizen suing his own state, since the text applies only to suits between a citizen of one state and a *different* state. Scalia looks to the legislative history over the unambiguous text. There is a hardcore textualist and former clerk of Scalia's at Harvard that lambasts him for it.


http://www.bloombergview.com...

I have nothing against Ginsburg, I just can't remember the last time I actually read a Ginsburg opinion or dissent or concurrence.

Hmmm... that's interesting.

Her constitutional thinking doesn't seem like it is influential enough to get excerpted very often. Scalia, in contrast, is the most excerpted justice since even his dissents raise good points. Among the liberals, Breyer gets the most showcasing. Sotomayor and Kagan are both new, but Sotomayor gets featured on social issues/criminal justice and Kagan on structural/separation of power issues (given that was her area of scholarship).

Whether it's asserted very often or not is sort of distinct from whether I'm more or less sympathetic to it; it's the dissents that she signs onto, or the majority opinions, that speak I think to her way of thinking: contemporary, pragmatic, and not divested from the context in which any particular case arose. I think Kennedy tries this, but he's just not a very smart man.

No hate on Ginsburg, just, she and Alito are relatively invisible to me, and I've read a lot of cases.

The fact that Alito is as insignificant as he is is a good thing. The same applies to Thomas.

So in essence, I don't care if people say tabula rasa is too hard a framework to apply. Every single RFD should at least purport to apply it. I have the most problem with RFD's that do not even attempt a tabula rasa approach, but rather conclude with: Pro simply failed to convince me. I prefer a biased attempt to apply tabula rasa than no attempt to apply tabula rasa.

I would agree with that, too. Many, many RFD's I see are shitty attempts to rationalize giving a side that specific voters disagreed with losses. I see three votes of that variety in bsh1's debate with Cassie the last time I checked it.

But a judge who isn't at least willing to try check their personal beliefs at the door has no business judging.

The "security in your own beliefs" point was more or less to suggest that "judging a debate is not rendering a final verdict on the issue." So, a person's individual perspective on a debate must have no impact on how they judge the debate. Getting to that point of intellectual security is what makes tabula rasa judging a possibility.

I agree with this.
You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into - Jonathan Swift (paraphrase)
YYW
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2/7/2015 3:05:08 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
I will say this, too, about my judging style...

There are different kinds of tabula rasa judges. There are some who believe that any argument, no matter how inconsistent with objective reality its factual premises are (read: mothafukka's be lying) that unless an opponent calls out a false claim, it is not the judges place not to extent an argument whose factual predicate is incorrect. The argument can also be as fallacious as it can be, unless called out, because we debate exists in an atmosphere like the wild west. Said in more simple language, if "debate" is the "wild west" the marauding mothafukkas who staged a gun fight in the saloon get to ride that like into the horizon because they didn't get shot at by the bar patrons. The police are nowhere to be found.

There is another school of thought which posits that no argument whose factual predicate is inconsistent with reality may be rewarded, but also maintains that it is not the judges place to not extend logically fallacious arguments because that puts the judge in dialogue with the debaters. I disagree with this too, because it is inconsistent with how debate works. If debate is like building a house and the house is built on grains of sand and not concrete, it doesn't stand up on its own.

There is a third school of thought with respect to tabula rasa judging which checks the judges ideological beliefs, values, principles, etc. at the door but does not require the judge to be an absent-minded arbiter -but a judge. What that means is that if someone lies in a round and I catch it, I am going to penalize them for it if the lie was material to their case ("material" here means that their impact could not stand without their lie). It also means that I am not going to extend an argument that is logically fallacious whether the opponent refutes or not; for example, if an impact depends on an is-ought fallacy, I will give it no weight in my RFD. This is maddening to some debaters who don't understand the difference between logically valid and invalid arguments. The reason it's maddening is because they often do not understand the difference between a valid and invalid argument, so they confuse "penalty on the basis of logical invalidity" with "judge bias." I am of this final school of thought, and I think most of the best judges on DDO are too.
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YYW
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2/7/2015 3:08:42 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/7/2015 2:56:01 PM, bluesteel wrote:
At 2/7/2015 2:42:36 PM, YYW wrote:
At 2/7/2015 2:35:02 PM, bluesteel wrote:
At 2/7/2015 2:25:15 PM, YYW wrote:
At 2/7/2015 1:26:11 PM, bluesteel wrote:
At 2/7/2015 12:13:58 PM, YYW wrote:
Tabula rasa judging is, theoretically, a great idea. The problem is that most people can't do it. They bring what they know to the exercise of judging, and they can't help but not judge arguments with which they agree with some level of deference and arguments they disagree with, with some level of objection -conscious or otherwise.

I agree it's difficult to apply, but that doesn't mean people shouldn't adopt a tabula rasa analytical method over their normal method. People argue that Originalism is difficult to apply because the historical record of what the Founders thought can be ambiguous or even contradictory. For example, the Federalist Papers are the primary resource for the Founders views, but the Founders disagreed on certain issues, e.g. small vs. big government (i.e. Jefferson vs. Hamilton).

Yup.

But ultimately, I mostly agree with Scalia's approach. I don't like Kennedy's approach to the Constitution which is extremely subjective. I disagree with Scalia on specifics; I think the right to privacy inheres in the Ninth Amendment, whereas Scalia would read that Amendment as meaning nothing (as being merely rhetoric to convince the constitutional delegation to adopt the rest of the Bill of Rights).

Scalia is only a fair-weather originalist, though. I agree with you on Kennedy, but I'm generally more sympathetic to Ginsburg than to Scalia. That said, while I make fun of Scalia from time to time in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way (for a number of reasons we can discuss in the politics section if you like), I understand why he does what he does the way he does it.

He's definitely a fair weather textualist. I don't know if he's a fair weather originalist. Can you point me to a decision where he completely ignores originalism, to satisfy my own curiosity?

Any case where he has ever opined about affirmative action, gay rights, or free speech that is inconsistent with socially conservative ideology.

Not that this is a perfect source... but it sort of suggests the concept...

I read that argument when I got to law school, and it sounded true at the time. Having read Scalia a lot more now, I think its argument is not true. It argues that he is non-originalist for the 14th Amendment because the Reconstruction-era framers believed in using race conscious measurements, so affirmative action is consistent with original meaning. But originalism is a form of textual interpretation. As the article notes, originalism does not give effect to what was in the minds of the Framers if it contradicts the text. The rule for originalism is that textualism always trumps: if the text is unambiguous, you go with the textual meaning. The Equal Protection Clause in the 14th Amendment guarantees equal protection under the law. "Equal protection under the law" is unambiguously equality of opportunity, not equal of outcome. The law provides unequal protection if it privileges blacks. Scalia's problem with say: some Reconstruction era Senators favored affirmative action is that the legislative record itself is ambiguous. Some Reconstruction era framers did not favor affirmative action. The real question is what did "equal protection under the law" mean when the Amendment was adopted, not what some Senators believed.

A more fair criticism is that Scalia is a fair weather textualist.

I think that's a fair criticism as well, but I don't think that two are mutually exclusive possibilities.

His decisions on sovereign immunity *do* look to the intent over the Framers over an unambiguous text, which would not extend sovereign immunity to disputes that involve a citizen suing his own state, since the text applies only to suits between a citizen of one state and a *different* state. Scalia looks to the legislative history over the unambiguous text. There is a hardcore textualist and former clerk of Scalia's at Harvard that lambasts him for it.

I think that if he's a fair weather textualist, then he is necessarily a fair weather originalist, for the reason you just said...

http://www.bloombergview.com...

I have nothing against Ginsburg, I just can't remember the last time I actually read a Ginsburg opinion or dissent or concurrence.

Hmmm... that's interesting.

Her constitutional thinking doesn't seem like it is influential enough to get excerpted very often. Scalia, in contrast, is the most excerpted justice since even his dissents raise good points. Among the liberals, Breyer gets the most showcasing. Sotomayor and Kagan are both new, but Sotomayor gets featured on social issues/criminal justice and Kagan on structural/separation of power issues (given that was her area of scholarship).

Whether it's asserted very often or not is sort of distinct from whether I'm more or less sympathetic to it; it's the dissents that she signs onto, or the majority opinions, that speak I think to her way of thinking: contemporary, pragmatic, and not divested from the context in which any particular case arose. I think Kennedy tries this, but he's just not a very smart man.

No hate on Ginsburg, just, she and Alito are relatively invisible to me, and I've read a lot of cases.

The fact that Alito is as insignificant as he is is a good thing. The same applies to Thomas.

So in essence, I don't care if people say tabula rasa is too hard a framework to apply. Every single RFD should at least purport to apply it. I have the most problem with RFD's that do not even attempt a tabula rasa approach, but rather conclude with: Pro simply failed to convince me. I prefer a biased attempt to apply tabula rasa than no attempt to apply tabula rasa.

I would agree with that, too. Many, many RFD's I see are shitty attempts to rationalize giving a side that specific voters disagreed with losses. I see three votes of that variety in bsh1's debate with Cassie the last time I checked it.

But a judge who isn't at least willing to try check their personal beliefs at the door has no business judging.

The "security in your own beliefs" point was more or less to suggest that "judging a debate is not rendering a final verdict on the issue." So, a person's individual perspective on a debate must have no impact on how they judge the debate. Getting to that point of intellectual security is what makes tabula rasa judging a possibility.

I agree with this.
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bluesteel
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2/7/2015 3:11:11 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/7/2015 3:05:08 PM, YYW wrote:
I will say this, too, about my judging style...

There are different kinds of tabula rasa judges. There are some who believe that any argument, no matter how inconsistent with objective reality its factual premises are (read: mothafukka's be lying) that unless an opponent calls out a false claim, it is not the judges place not to extent an argument whose factual predicate is incorrect. The argument can also be as fallacious as it can be, unless called out, because we debate exists in an atmosphere like the wild west. Said in more simple language, if "debate" is the "wild west" the marauding mothafukkas who staged a gun fight in the saloon get to ride that like into the horizon because they didn't get shot at by the bar patrons. The police are nowhere to be found.

There is another school of thought which posits that no argument whose factual predicate is inconsistent with reality may be rewarded, but also maintains that it is not the judges place to not extend logically fallacious arguments because that puts the judge in dialogue with the debaters. I disagree with this too, because it is inconsistent with how debate works. If debate is like building a house and the house is built on grains of sand and not concrete, it doesn't stand up on its own.

There is a third school of thought with respect to tabula rasa judging which checks the judges ideological beliefs, values, principles, etc. at the door but does not require the judge to be an absent-minded arbiter -but a judge. What that means is that if someone lies in a round and I catch it, I am going to penalize them for it if the lie was material to their case ("material" here means that their impact could not stand without their lie). It also means that I am not going to extend an argument that is logically fallacious whether the opponent refutes or not; for example, if an impact depends on an is-ought fallacy, I will give it no weight in my RFD. This is maddening to some debaters who don't understand the difference between logically valid and invalid arguments. The reason it's maddening is because they often do not understand the difference between a valid and invalid argument, so they confuse "penalty on the basis of logical invalidity" with "judge bias." I am of this final school of thought, and I think most of the best judges on DDO are too.

I disagree. I think KCA is logically invalid. The third approach would allow me to always vote Con on a KCA debate without reading.

Debate is about the effectiveness of the debater's use of pathos and logos. A debate who lets a logical fallacy stand has failed to prove that he or she has superior logos.

The is-ought fallacy is unique because I think a judge always has discretion to reject non-topical arguments, even without a debater raising topicality (with an exception for policy debate). "Is" arguments will always be non-topical on "ought" resolutions. To me that's different than rejecting an argument merely for being logically flawed.
You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into - Jonathan Swift (paraphrase)
bluesteel
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2/7/2015 3:19:12 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/7/2015 3:08:42 PM, YYW wrote:


It's just misleading to say he is a fair weather originalist because the implication is that sometimes he subscribes to a living Constitution theory, which is untrue. It's more that he selectively invokes originalism, but originalism would never lead the conclusion that affirmative action is constitutional. As you point out, textualism and originalism are two different interpretive methods, and Scalia is not consistently faithful to one over the other. He ignores textualism is favor of original intent when it suits him. Or, to be more fair to his views, he ignores textualism when it leads to a patently absurd result. He would argue that the intent of the Eleventh Amendment to establish sovereign immunity is so patently obvious, because it was adopted in response to a Supreme Court decision that abrogated sovereign immunity, that adhering to the literal text in such a scenario would just be too absurd. It would completely ignore the historical context in which the Amendment was adopted.

It's true; he's fair weather on both. But not in the way that the liberal justices and Kennedy are fair weather originalists. They look to the historical record to interpret the text only when it suits their normative judgment about what the law should be. Scalia is very much of the believe that normative judgments should play no role in interpretation. It means what it means or what it was meant to me. It doesn't mean what you want it to mean.

He is remarkably consistent given how long he has been on the Court. His personal opinion is clearly that he is hard on crime, but his originalism has led him to issue some very pro-privacy Fourth Amendment decisions, e.g. the Kyllo decision.
You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into - Jonathan Swift (paraphrase)
YYW
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2/7/2015 3:19:53 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/7/2015 3:11:11 PM, bluesteel wrote:
At 2/7/2015 3:05:08 PM, YYW wrote:
I will say this, too, about my judging style...

There are different kinds of tabula rasa judges. There are some who believe that any argument, no matter how inconsistent with objective reality its factual premises are (read: mothafukka's be lying) that unless an opponent calls out a false claim, it is not the judges place not to extent an argument whose factual predicate is incorrect. The argument can also be as fallacious as it can be, unless called out, because we debate exists in an atmosphere like the wild west. Said in more simple language, if "debate" is the "wild west" the marauding mothafukkas who staged a gun fight in the saloon get to ride that like into the horizon because they didn't get shot at by the bar patrons. The police are nowhere to be found.

There is another school of thought which posits that no argument whose factual predicate is inconsistent with reality may be rewarded, but also maintains that it is not the judges place to not extend logically fallacious arguments because that puts the judge in dialogue with the debaters. I disagree with this too, because it is inconsistent with how debate works. If debate is like building a house and the house is built on grains of sand and not concrete, it doesn't stand up on its own.

There is a third school of thought with respect to tabula rasa judging which checks the judges ideological beliefs, values, principles, etc. at the door but does not require the judge to be an absent-minded arbiter -but a judge. What that means is that if someone lies in a round and I catch it, I am going to penalize them for it if the lie was material to their case ("material" here means that their impact could not stand without their lie). It also means that I am not going to extend an argument that is logically fallacious whether the opponent refutes or not; for example, if an impact depends on an is-ought fallacy, I will give it no weight in my RFD. This is maddening to some debaters who don't understand the difference between logically valid and invalid arguments. The reason it's maddening is because they often do not understand the difference between a valid and invalid argument, so they confuse "penalty on the basis of logical invalidity" with "judge bias." I am of this final school of thought, and I think most of the best judges on DDO are too.

I disagree. I think KCA is logically invalid. The third approach would allow me to always vote Con on a KCA debate without reading.

I think you're between the second and third school of thought, and I think you're closer to the third school of thought than you might realize. I mean, I've read your RFD's, and when debaters make mistakes -as they often do- you point that out and it's reflected in the outcome of how you judge. Granted, I haven't done a comprehensive review of every RFD you've ever written, but that seems to more or less be the trend.

Debate is about the effectiveness of the debater's use of pathos and logos. A debate who lets a logical fallacy stand has failed to prove that he or she has superior logos.

I agree with that too, but the fact would still remain that as between a debater whose impact rests on logical fallacy and a debater whose impact does not, the latter is still superior to the former. So, it's less a question of whether a debater has to point stuff out than it is a question of who, as between both, shall come out on top.

Ultimately, though, the reason you're closer to the third school of thought than you realize is because most shitty arguments get refuted such that pointing out the logical fallacy isn't necessary for the latter debater to win.

The is-ought fallacy is unique because I think a judge always has discretion to reject non-topical arguments, even without a debater raising topicality (with an exception for policy debate). "Is" arguments will always be non-topical on "ought" resolutions. To me that's different than rejecting an argument merely for being logically flawed.

Regarding the issue of God's existence, there is no argument that can prove God exists... so debating the issue is stupid. To say that "God exists" is to say "I really hope, and perhaps have faith that God exists but because I don't have empirical proof that that's the case I can only make arguments from absurdity to buttress my faith's insecurity."
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YYW
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2/7/2015 3:24:29 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/7/2015 3:19:12 PM, bluesteel wrote:

I don't really disagree with much of that.

It's true; he's fair weather on both. But not in the way that the liberal justices and Kennedy are fair weather originalists.

Kennedy doesn't really have a comprehensive framework of thought. He's... to wishy washy.

They look to the historical record to interpret the text only when it suits their normative judgment about what the law should be. Scalia is very much of the believe that normative judgments should play no role in interpretation. It means what it means or what it was meant to me. It doesn't mean what you want it to mean.

Except that the first Amendment, as Scalia has interpreted it, with his "objective" standard, curiously protects speech that he agrees with more than it protects speech that he does not agree with, on a normative political level.

He is remarkably consistent given how long he has been on the Court. His personal opinion is clearly that he is hard on crime, but his originalism has led him to issue some very pro-privacy Fourth Amendment decisions, e.g. the Kyllo decision.

I'll agree that he's consistent, and I don't think he's a bad judge. I make fun of him only because he's the intellectual power house for judicial conservatism. Roberts tries... but doesn't really do a good job. The Sebellius case, for example, speaks to that.
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