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RFD - Sidnix vs Fire - Smoking Ban

tejretics
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12/18/2015 1:50:26 PM
Posted: 11 months ago
This is an RFD for the following debate: http://www.debate.org...

I'm voting on this for the Voter Union, of donald.keller. Contact whiteflame or donald.keller if you're interested in joining.

Let me analyze what the terms of the resolution entail. (1) "Smoking" is interpreted to mean "smoking tobacco," since that's what seems to be the resolution based on the debate. A ban on smoking refers to a universal one, rather than merely a ban on public places, etc. The resolution is vague, in that it doesn't specify *where* a smoking ban is a necessary law. This forces an interpretation, which might be harsh on Pro, of a smoking ban being a necessary law universally. (2) What is a "necessary law"? At what point is a law to be considered "necessary"? Pro isn't clear on this at all. I don't see how "a smoking ban should be implemented" entails "a smoking ban is a necessary law." What makes a law qualify as necessary? But both debaters seem to interpret the resolution as "a smoking ban should be implemented." I'll go with that interpretation for the purpose of the RFD, but I caution Pro to draft the resolution in a way that doesn't leave it up to much interpretation.

There is no single side that possesses the greater burden in this debate. To claim such is a flawed interpretation of the resolution. Both sides have offense, and ought to have offense. The resolution is fundamentally a matter of subjective opinion, since the term "necessary" is not an adjective by which a fact-based resolution can be drafted. As such, the resolution is intrinsically normative -- the debaters interpret the resolution in such a way that it fundamentally speaks of what would happen in a normative society. If the resolution is normative, there is no means by which to assign the burden to a single side, since there is no burden of proof; only a burden of *persuasion.* The job of the debaters is to persuade the judge to vote for their side, and to do so is not to merely refute the opponent's points, but to have offense of their own. There's nothing to prove in the whole debate, only something to persuade, which is why the burdens of persuasion -- as they usually are -- are split evenly.

Pro's case

Pro first argues that smoking has negative effects on health, and that passive smoking causes severe secondhand impact, which is a reason for it to be banned. Once more, I lack explanation as to why it's having health harms makes a ban on it a necessary law. Pro fails to give me a link between a ban and its harms. Why should the government legislate based on the health of its citizens? How so? Pro's argument, from that means, is vague, and I would urge Pro to significantly explain their argument. Nonetheless, the argument is mitigated against by Con's counterplan, which is to ban tobacco in public and create specific zones for smoking, thus defeating any secondhand impact. Pro responds to this by saying (a) there could be family members harmed in the houses, and (b) smoking zones cause smoking to "lose its charm." Con makes a strategic error in dropping point (a), which could be compelling. Nonetheless, much of secondhand harms is mitigated in that Pro fails to sufficiently explain (b), in that "losing its charm" is entirely subjective and is an unproven assertion.

Pro fails to have a clear impact for secondhand impact. How many people are affected? How many would die? How does it weigh against Con's arguments? Some feedback for Pro: whenever you make a claim (e.g. smoking is injurious to health), follow multiple steps to construct an argument: (a) prove the claim to be true, with sources and arguments, (b) show how the claim has relevance to the resolution, and (c) clearly outline what follows, the impact (e.g. how much does it injure). Following that, present an impact calculus that *weighs* the impact of this against your opponent's impact. For further reference, consult the "new members read me" thread, and also click all the Google document links within that thread.

Lack of an impact severely reduces the power of the claim, so I would recommend you clearly articulate the impacts.

Con's case

Con's first argument regards the economic impact of smoking. The argument isn't really explained; all I can understand from the argument is that smoking makes a lot of money. Where does the money go? How does it benefit the government? Why should the government care? None of these questions is addressed. But Con does show that a smoking ban could aggravate/cause economic recession, which is something the government *should* care about. Pro's response isn't compelling. He argues that a "gradual ban on smoking" will reduce the economic impact, but (a) merely *reducing* the impact doesn't entirely stop it, and (b) Pro doesn't adequately explain the argument, and doesn't provide any warrant for his counterplan actually working. There's no compelling reason to think the counterplan will work. Judges don't vote on arguments that are insufficiently explained, so I don't buy the response. Con wins economy.

Con then argues liberty. Pro has a simple response: liberty should be limited when there is harm to oneself, and to others. This isn't warranted, but I can buy the "harm to others" part since it's basically the purpose of government policy, which is an assumption in the debate. Making smoking zones can reduce the impact here, and there's no clear, articulated impact to the people at home one. Pro concedes Con's framework, and argues via secondhand impact (though the secondhand impact offense itself isn't explained). Following that, Con's next argument is dependency. People are dependent on smoking. Causing five million people to lose their jobs and their livelihood is a huge impact. Pro's plan here is vague. He doesn't show that making cigarette companies manufacture the alternative is (a) practical, and (b) would work. Furthermore, he doesn't even *offer an alternative.* Without an alternative, the argument just fails.

Feedback for Con: the same as Pro. Follow the claim/warrant/impact method, and clearly explain all your points. It helps to add an impact calculus at the end of your argument. Also, *read the debate.* It's clear, Con, that you didn't entirely read Pro's arguments, or, at the very least, accidentally skipped some bits of argument. You've dropped so much of what Pro brought up. Read, and then form refutations. We've already discussed this in a PM before.

Conclusion

There are multiple arguments I have to weigh in this debate. First, economy - I'm not exactly given a reason to care, but there is some level of implicit harm to the plan, where people would be harmed economically. The dependency argument holds the largest impact, with 5 million people losing a source of livelihood. Pro's largest impact, in contrast, is secondhand impact. Secondhand impact, though, isn't sufficiently explained: how much impact in the homes? Can't people use the smoking zones? How many people are affected? And Pro fails to give me any weighing mechanism. Nor does Con. On what basis should government legislate? Which arguments outweigh which others?

I'm left with an unclear impact on secondhand smoke, and a clear dependency impact. The latter is more explained, and it clearly holds as much magnitude as the former. Further, the former fails probability, since the debaters don't even discuss probability when it comes to that. When it comes to magnitude, I presume they're equal because Pro doesn't give me magnitude. Con has more probability in his impacts. Pro doesn't have probability or magnitude. Con does have magnitude.

Therefore, I vote Con.
"Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe." - Frederick Douglass
tejretics
Posts: 6,089
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12/18/2015 1:56:16 PM
Posted: 11 months ago
As a sidenote, Fire's accusation of plagiarism isn't true. I c/p'd Sidnix's text from every round into Google and found nothing. "Plagiarism checker" and similar websites aren't reliable, btw. So I didn't even consider the plagiarism bit.
"Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe." - Frederick Douglass
fire_wings
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12/18/2015 3:20:25 PM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 12/18/2015 1:56:16 PM, tejretics wrote:
As a sidenote, Fire's accusation of plagiarism isn't true. I c/p'd Sidnix's text from every round into Google and found nothing. "Plagiarism checker" and similar websites aren't reliable, btw. So I didn't even consider the plagiarism bit.

I did, it says it is copied from DDO opinions.
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