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RFD for "democratic Hitler" debate

tejretics
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4/13/2016 10:12:50 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
**This is an RFD for this debate: http://www.debate.org...**

I'm posting an RFD in this forum thread for two reasons. First, I don't want to spam the debaters' notifications with comments, since this is a pretty large RFD. At around 17k characters, it would have required around 10 comments, and with proper division, it would have needed more--perhaps 12 or 13. Second, it's easier for me to just post it in a forum thread rather than using the laborious task of dividing the RFD into two-thousand character blocks.

The debate actually would require around a two-sentence RFD, but I engaged in this huge analysis of the debate for the benefit of the debaters--largely for Con's benefit, since he requested me to and I'm soon going to be in a debating team with him.

Just as a disclaimer, Con asked me to vote on this debate. That didn't really influence my decision since it's basically a full forfeit debate. The short version of my RFD is here:

Con wins because Pro doesn't advance the rather large burden that they have. Pro's burden was to prove that every country "needs" a democratic Hitler, but all they manage to present is a group of under-warranted arguments that don't have clear impacts. Whereas Pro doesn't uphold their arguments, Con's barrage of arguments is especially strong--Con shows that the idea of a "democratic Hitler" is incoherent, that Hitler was especially ruthless, that he wasn't compatible with free speech, and that dictatorship is inherently more harmful than democracy. Pro's forfeits prevented their ability to address Con's arguments. Thus, Con wins.

The long version is below.

The topic is framed in the form of a question--which doesn't really usually affect the topic framing, since the questions can easily be re-framed into something which is more-like a debate resolution. In this manner, the question "Does every country need a democratic Hitler?" becomes the resolution "every country needs a democratic Hitler." Now this resolution is pretty unclear--it seems absurd. So I thought, since I have too much time in my hands and am postponing homework, I'll analyze every part of the topic. The first part is "every country," which is fairly obvious. By "country," I assume the resolution means "sovereign state," since--based on context--the resolution talks about whether a certain leader should exist. The next term is "need," which I interpret to be--since most dictionaries agree--a necessity. Just for substantiation, let's look to the Oxford Dictionary: "Require (something) because it is essential or very important rather than just desirable."

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com...

The next part of the topic is what I consider the most important one, since it isn't a common term and yet forms the keyword of the topic: "democratic Hitler." I have no idea what "democratic Hitler" means--it seems a laughably contradictory term. Pro does little to define it. The definition has to be resolved in-round, because I'm really unsure as to what exactly "democratic Hitler" means--the best interpretation is a person with all of Hitler's characteristics, except as an elected leader. Now the resolution is a normative one. A "normative resolution" is a topic which visualizes an ideal society. As Wikipedia says:

"Normative means relating to an ideal standard or model, or being based on what is considered to be the normal or correct way of doing something."

https://en.wikipedia.org...

All debates have two things that judges have to consider to know if either side has a victory: one is the "burden of proof," and the other is the "burden of persuasion." The burden of proof is, quite simply, what each side has to prove to win the debate. Debate is about essentially making arguments relating to a position on a topic. What exactly do those arguments have to prove is decided by the burden of proof on each side. Which side has a greater burden of proof is dependent on the topic of the debate. The "burden of persuasion" essentially resolves the issue regarding the side that has to persuade the judge of their position. In other words, in the event of a tie, the judge has to have a "tie breaker" by holding a position that is default.

Since the topic is a normative topic, both sides have a burden of proof to present positive arguments that favor their side of the motion. Pro's burden of proof is to show that every country "needs" a democratic Hitler, while Con's is to show that not every country needs a democratic Hitler. But there is a burden of persuasion in this debate as well: one which rests squarely on Pro. The reason is, I'm going to assume that a Hitler isn't needed, due to the uncertainty involved in Pro's position. Pro's case is entirely theoretical, because we haven't experienced a "democratic Hitler"--an observation noted, in fact, by Con. This is important because this means I presume Con. While the status quo doesn't justify itself--so Con needs to justify it--Pro's position has enough uncertainty to warrant me presuming Con.

Okay. With that established, let's get to the actual text of the debate.

So the actual arguments begin in R1 itself, which is wise, seeing as this was a three-round debate as far as the set-up is considered. It's often considered a norm on DDO to clarify the topic, rules and guidelines in the first round of the debate--which works on a four-round or five-round debate, but on a three-round debate, that ends up with two rounds of argumentation. Having only two rounds to argue severely restricts the ability to defend one's own case and doesn't really give any sort of completeness to the debate. Basically, I'm just noting that it was smart to start the arguments in R1.

Pro goes first, as is typical with most debates. Pro's first argument is that "there is no doubt that Hitler was a . . . genius." This isn't exactly a justified assertion--it is merely an ipse dixit. Of course, judges aren't supposed to be interventionist and all that, but debaters are supposed to explain concepts in a way that even the most lay judge would understand. That is not to say that I am necessarily a "most lay judge," but judges are supposed to be "tabula rasa," which is a Latin word meaning "blank slate." Essentially, I'm completely blank about the topic, so debaters must explain everything coherently. There's no proper explanation and/or warrant for Hitler being a genius. Another problem with this argument is that it doesn't do much--if anything--to advance Pro's burden of proof. Pro's BOP is to show that a "democratic Hitler" is "needed" by every country. First, as established above, the only coherent definition I can gauge from "democratic Hitler" is a person with ALL characteristics of Hitler, except as a democratic leader. So Hitler being a genius isn't enough--like Pro says, there have been evil geniuses. Pro concedes: "[It is] sad that he used it the wrong way." If Con jumps on this, then Pro's case is doomed because he has to show all properties of Hitler as necessary. Second, this doesn't mean a democratic Hitler is "needed," only that a democratic Hitler would be "beneficial." As established above, the term means a democratic Hitler is *essential,* not just beneficial.
"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
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4/13/2016 10:13:27 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
Pro's next argument is that Hitler brought a lot of economic benefit. This was one cogent argument from Pro, since it has an actual impact I can gauge. Pro says "he brought development that we cannot think we can get in a 100 years." Sorry, Pro, but this is another ipse dixit. Every statement made which has an actual impact needs a warrant. Arguments often follow a structure--which I like a lot--called the "claim, warrant, impact" structure. In fact, I believe most arguments should have this structure. In this, a claim is made, it is justified and its relevance to the resolution and magnitude are explained. This is a claim without a warrant--which, as a judge, I basically have to ignore or weigh significantly less than arguments with high probability.

Pro expands on the economic argument, "He uplifted every Arebiter (worker) and farmers amd [sic] businessmen to zeniths in 4 years. He himself led a humble life, which most politicians don't do today. From 11 million German marks equal to a dollar, he brought it up to almost equal. He employed 6 million people with decent salaries in 4 years. He provided safety to animals, banned advertisements of cigarettes and alcohol, and himself never consumed the same. We need a democratic Hitler back..." This is overall a good expansion, because it outlines the impacts. So, from Pro, I have a claim and an impact. What I'm lacking is a good warrant"which essentially makes the whole argument ipse dixit. Let's see how Con deals with Pro's arguments.

I'm pleasantly surprised by Con's argument. It isn't something you expect from a first debate at all. Most of our first debates were pretty bad (e.g. see my first debate: http://www.debate.org...). So, kudos to Con! In R1, Con opens with "Firstly, I would like to give some definitions and some logic." That's an ideal opening, because it is the obligation of the Contender to clarify the topic and the definitions when the Instigator fails to do so--it will significantly aid in the advancement of the BOP. Con proceeds to define "democracy," and correctly observes that the real Hitler was a dictator. Good observation to make--because, like me, Con has correctly noted that the topic, at first sight, is absurd. A "democratic Hitler" seems like a blatant oxymoron, because Hitler was a dictator. For further clarification, Con defines "dictator" as well.

I would have also liked to see some of the topic analysis I presented above--especially the part about all characteristics of Hitler and about "needing." Still, it's good enough, since I'm going to hold Pro to that burden anyway.

Con then talks about the characteristics of democracy: "Democracy is all about yearning, attempting and learning to live in harmony. It is not just a political system; it is a way of life. Democracy thrives in the debates and discussions, varieties and differences, highs and lows. Democracy is the pinnacle of social gentleness and the ability to accept the other as they are." This is an interesting paragraph, but I'd have liked to see some warrants. I'm buying, regardless, that democracy thrives on acceptance of others. I'm still unsure of how this relates to the topic, though"

"but Con manages to find a relation. He says, "Since dictatorship is the complete opposite of a democracy, the idea of a "Democratic Hitler" rule out, i.e., it makes no sense that a person with absolute power governs a state that is ruled by the majority of its members. Thus, a "Democratic Hitler" can never exist. Democratic Hitler is nothing but an oxymoron. It is as similar as chalk and cheese. In my considered opinion, they are simply immiscible." This is very similar to the observation I made earlier: the phrase "democratic Hitler" is incoherent. So Con is right that a democratic Hitler is impossible. But there's a problem with this first argument: What is the link to the topic? Con doesn't "link" (relate) the topic to this argument. Okay, a democratic Hitler is impossible. So what? This is an entirely hypothetical debate--that's pretty clear. Con should have run a clear link, saying something similar to "ought implies can," or "it is impossible for something to be 'needed' if it can't exist." But without establishing such a link, the argument doesn't make sense insofar as the topic is concerned.

Con's next argument is more topical--he says Hitler was a ruthless person who was responsible for mass murder, et cetera. Remember, any reasonable analysis of the term "democratic Hitler" would mean a person with all of Hitler's characteristics except dictatorships. Con has good examples to prove this point. Con shows that Hitler's involvement in the genocide of 5.5 million people is important. I'd like to ask Con--as well--to use sources. Citations are important to justify any assertion made. Pro doesn't contest the example of the deaths of 5.5 million people, and it's a justified fact, but that doesn't mean one can just assert it. Con then says something about Hitler's artwork saying something about his psychology--which I absolutely don't buy because it seems pretty incoherent, and I don't have a study or its methodology to back this up. I repeat, please use sources. See this example from the Debate.org citations template, assuming the topic "Steve Young is a better quarterback than Joe Montana":

Steve Young is the better of the two quarterbacks because he has a 96.8 QB Rating (1), whereas Joe Montana only has a 92.3 (2).

(1) http://www.nfl.com...
(2) http://www.nfl.com...

As you can see, the numbers (1) and (2) indicate sources--a very similar format to the one used on Wikipedia. It's definitely a useful format, and one I would urge both debaters to use. Citations add strong justifications to the argument.

This argument is indicative of the fact that neither of the debaters discusses probability. Pro and Con both don't warrant the said benefits and harms arising from a "democratic Hitler," so all I have to go on is magnitude. So let me elucidate this problem a bit for the benefit of the debaters. I've explained what "claims," "warrants" and "impacts" are. At the end of the debate, debaters are usually expected to weigh the impacts against each other. How do the impacts of the arguments impact the topic? I'll let bluesteel--one of this site's best debaters and best judges--elucidate it since he can do it in a much better way than I could ever dream of. The full quote is in the next post due to character constraints.
"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
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4/13/2016 10:13:51 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
"A good offensive argument has a link and an impact. A link is the explanation of how the argument relates to the resolution. An impact is the reason to vote for your side. Take, for example, the topic: Iran poses a greater threat to the United States than North Korea. You are Pro. You run an argument about Iran cutting off the Strait of Hormuz. The link is that Iran has the military capability to cut off all access to the Strait of Hormuz and has threatened to so in the past. The impact is that if Iran cut off the Strait of Hormuz, the US would lose access to Middle Eastern oil, which would cause a large uptick in oil prices.

In contrast, Con argues that North Korea might launch nuclear weapons at the United States. The link is that North Korea has operational nuclear weapons and has threatened to use them against the United States in the past. The impact is that a nuclear explosion in Los Angeles would kill 10 million Americans . . . [Y]ou have to weigh Pro's Strait of Hormuz argument against Con's nuclear attack argument. For impact analysis, you are supposed to consider probability and magnitude. Probability is the likelihood that the impact will happen. Magnitude is the total size of the impact. A nuclear attack has a greater magnitude because 10 million lives is a much bigger impact than higher oil prices. However, given that the United States would retaliate against North Korea using nuclear weapons, North Korea would likely be deterred from launching a nuclear attack, so the probability of this impact is low. In contrast, Iran is far more likely to cut off the Strait of Hormuz given that the current Revolutionary Government has shown a willingness to resort to extreme tactics, such as when it took over the United States embassy in Iran. So the judge could still vote Pro, even though the magnitude of the impacts are smaller, because the probability of Iran harming the US by cutting off the Strait of Hormuz is much higher."


So the impacts I have, so far (since there are still arguments I have to analyze), are: the genocide of 5.5 million people meaning danger to the lives of multiple others and ethnic cleansing, versus economic benefits and intelligence. There's no proof from either of the sides that either of these happened. Thus, there's no way for me to gauge any sort of probability. But I do have a magnitude on either side, and it's clear that 5.5 million lives outweighs economic benefits, by far. So, as a judge, I'd vote Con so far, but regardless, I'll have to note that the debaters have to use probability as well as magnitude.

Con's next argument is that Hitler wasn't open-minded to other opinions. Con says, "Hitler was a person who was not open minded. He wasn't open minded with other ideas and beliefs, and worked only for the betterment of his state: Germany. He had started what was known as "Nazi Book Burnings." It was a terrible event which occurred, people (some even being college students) burnt books because some books were against the "German Spirit." He didn't want any other ideas in his country, which shows his narrow mindedness. Not accepting other ideas and beliefs in today's modern society is absurd and will result in differences and ultimately, a war." I'm not getting clear links or warrants from this argument. I understand what Con was trying to convey, e.g. Hitler would curtail freedom of expression, but Con doesn't explain how restricting expression is "absurd" in today's society. Without that link, there's little or no impact from this argument. In the future, please explain every point--"hold the judge's hand" while debating.

Con's final argument is that dictatorship is worse than democracy. The fundamental problem with this argument is, per my interpretation of the debate, the whole argument is irrelevant. "Democratic Hitler" means a person with all characteristics of Hitler except the dictator-aspect. Con should have clarified what he was arguing by justifying another interpretation of the topic, but Con's failure to do that means I discredit this argument.

From Pro, I have an argument on economic benefits from R1, which lacks probability and lacks a clearly defined magnitude. From Con, I have an argument on genocide and a small impact from free speech. Genocide clearly outweighs economic benefits, so I vote Con on arguments. Conduct also to Con as a result of Pro's two forfeits. S&G tied due to no significant disparity between the sides. Sources tied since both sides failed to utilize sources.
"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
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4/13/2016 3:34:08 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
To offer further feedback, "I extend" isn't a sufficient argument when the case is still standing, Con. I get that Pro forfeited, but Pro's case still stood--you should have addressed Pro's case. You essentially dropped it.
"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