2AC — Answering Disadvantages

How Do You Answer a Disadvantage

You want to come up with answers to a disadvantage by attacking the various parts of the disadvantage.  

Answer the link.  When you make a “no link” argument, you are contending that the first step in the disadvantage will not result from supporting your plan.  For example, you could argue your plan does not undermine AI development. In this specific instance, that will not work because the 1AC claims it does undermine AI development, but if the 1AC was structured differently it may work.

Turn the link.  A link turn argues that the opposite of the link is true – the affirmative’s plan actually strengthens AI development. In this specific instance, that will not work because the 1AC claims it does undermine AI development, but if the 1AC was structured differently it may work.

Answer the internal link. When answering the internal link, you are essentially arguing that “A” will not produce “B.”  In this instance, you would present evidence that AI development is not critical to the military. You could argue, for example, that nuclear deterrence prevents conflict regardless of AI.

Turn the internal link.  Just like when turning a link, if you turn the internal link, you argue that the opposite of the internal link is true.  For example, you could argue that AI undermines the military.

Answer the impact. An impact answers says that the impact is false.  For example, you could argue that military readiness does not prevent conflict. Since this disadvantage includes that it strengthens US leadership, you could argue that US leadership doesn’t prevent war.

Turn the impact.  An impact turn says that not only is the final impact not bad, but it is also good.  For example, you could argue that US leadership causes war.

Inventing Your Own Logical Affirmative Arguments

Look for missing internal links.  Often negative teams will not present all of the internal links that they need to prove the disadvantage.  Sometimes they do not present them because they do not have them (they are either missing the evidence that they need to support the internal link or the internal link simply is not true).  Sometimes they do not present them because they wish to keep the initial presentation of the argument shorter, and will fill in the holes if they choose to extend the disadvantage later in the debate.  Regardless as to why the internal links are not included, you should be sure to point that out and at least make them read the evidence later in the debate.

Attack the probability.  Disadvantages are designed around arguing that the affirmative’s plan will kick-off a chain of events that will eventually trigger some catastrophe. The more internal links the lower the probability of the disadvantage because each intervening step would have to all occur in order for the disadvantage to happen.  There is only a given probability of each occurring, and the probability of them all occurring together is even much smaller.

Think about history.  Think of what you know about history to argue that parts of the disadvantage are false.  For example, think of a time that the U.S. suffered a recession (such as after the 9-11) attacks and argue that that did not produce a depression.

Reference current events.  Although you may not have a lot of recent evidence on a particular argument advanced by the negative, used what you know about current events to argue against the disadvantage. For example, you may know that the government has just issued some new environmental regulations.

Claim the impacts are “empirically denied.”  Almost all disadvantages have terminal (final) impacts that involve wars or some other form of total destruction.  The total destruction relies on these wars escalating from small conflicts to large, global ones. Point out that we have had many wars in recent history that have not escalated – U.S/Iraq, Israel-Hezbollah, U.S.-Afghanistan, India-Pakistan, etc.  

Prepare a General Set of Disadvantage Answers

As you advance through your debate career, you will have a better understanding of all of the different disadvantages that people are likely to run and how to answer them.  As you grow to gain this knowledge, it will be possible for you to prepare more specific answers to each disadvantage. Until then, you can help yourself by thinking about different general approaches and arguments that you can use to defeat all kinds of disadvantages.

Use your affirmative to non-unique the disadvantage.  As discussed in the last section, most disadvantages have impacts related to war and tyranny.  Affirmative plans often contain advantages that stem from preventing war. You can use your affirmative case to argue that war is inevitable unless you vote affirmative and that the disadvantage is non-unique.  Think about any harm claim that you have made in your 1AC. If a disadvantage impact is similar to any harm claim you have made, you can argue that that disadvantage is non-unique in the status quo and can be prevented by voting affirmative.  On this specific topic, you can argue that environmental decline causes war.

Use your affirmative to solve the impact.  Think of a way that voting for the affirmative can prevent the impact. For example, if your affirmative case focuses on reducing pollution, have a general piece of evidence that pollution breaks-down societies and causes conflict.

Maintain an apriori claim.  An apriori claim is a claim that one teams makes that they will say is more important than all of claims made by the other side. For example, an affirmative team may argue that the judge has a moral obligation to support their affirmative plan.  They will argue that this moral obligation should hold even if the negative disadvantages are true. If you have an apriori moral  claim for your affirmative, you can always be prepared to argue that this trumps the negative’s disadvantage.

Be Careful When Answering Disadvantages

Do not answer your own affirmative harm claim.  When you are answering the impact to the disadvantage do not take-out your own affirmative harm/impact claims.  For example, if you have an “economy decline causes war” impact in your 1AC, and the negative reads an economy impact, you will not want to argue that economic decline does not cause war.  You certainly don’t want to present an impact turn against your original 1AC impact!

Do not double-turn yourself.  A double-turn occurs when you make both a link turn and an impact turn.  For example, you could argue that you both save the economy and that economic growth is bad.  If you do this, you will essentially presenting a disadvantage against yourself – you are arguing that you strengthen the economy and that that is bad.

You can also double-turn yourself by turning both the internal link and either the link or the impact.  For example, if you argue that the affirmative plan saves money, and that a recession will stop a depression, you are essentially arguing that you stop a recession and a recession is good. Similarly, if you argue that you stop a depression by causing a recession and that a depression is good, you are essentially arguing that you stop a good economic depression.  

Other Things to Consider when Attacking the Disadvantage

Accept reality. Sometimes the negative has a very strong link to a given disadvantage. If that is the case, focus on debating the internal link, the impact, or the uniqueness (or all three). .

Make a variety of arguments.  Make as many different link, internal link, impact, and uniqueness arguments as you can.  The weakness of the disadvantage may not be obvious to you after the 1NC, but it will become obvious as the 2NC or the 1NR responds to each of the arguments that you present.  

Avoid impact turning disadvantages.  Sometimes it is necessary to impact turn a disadvantage – you may not have any/many other arguments.  If you need to straight-turn a disadvantage, you should do so. But, if you do you are in for a very tough fight – most teams are very prepared to debate the impacts to their disadvantages.   The link debate is what they will most likely be less prepared for.

Straight-turning Disadvantages

There are two different ways to turn a disadvantage. A disadvantage can either be link-turned or impact-turned. You CANNOT do both. If you do both, you are double-turning yourself.

Straight link turning

If you want to link turn a disadvantage, you need to win three arguments:  a link take out, a link turn, and a link non-uniqueness argument. I

If you want to straight link turn a disadvantage, you should not make any other arguments against the disadvantage.  If you make an internal link take out (AI not key to the military), you are not straight-turning the disadvantage because the negative can then concede that argument and say it doesn’t matter if AI in the military is bad because the internal link take-out proves they have no impact on it. 

Similarly, if you make an impact take-out to military readiness, the negative can concede that to get out of any link turns.

The key thing to remember is that when you straight link-turn a disadvantage you should not make any other arguments than those that are discussed in the sections below.

Straight Impact Turning

If you want to straight impact turn a disadvantage, you need to make an impact take-out and an impact turn. To continue the military readiness example, you could argue that military readiness won’t protect peace and that military readiness causes war.

Unlike the strategy for link turning, you do not want to make any non-uniqueness arguments when impact turning a disadvantage.  For example, you don’t want to argue that other things will cause readiness to collapse.

Like the strategy for link turn, however, again you do not want to make any other arguments against the disadvantage.  If you make “no link” arguments, for example, claiming you do not hurt AI (you can’t in this instance, but, for example) then negative can say the impact turns are irrelevant because the plan has no connection to the fate of AI.

Why should you straight turn a disadvantage?

It is very trendy to “straight turn” disadvantages.  Debaters often get excited when teams run a disadvantage that they are prepared to straight-turn.

Straight-turning the disadvantage is a risky approach, however.  If you choose to straight turn the disadvantage you must necessarily decide to forego making other good arguments – link no link arguments and no internal link arguments.  These parts of the disadvantage may be the weakest part of it. Failing to attack those parts may be a gift for the negative.

Moreover, if you straight turn a disadvantage, you are going to force the negative to “go for it” – to extend it instead of may another disadvantage, another topicality argument, or another kritik strategy.  These other arguments may be weaker or you may simply be more prepared to defeat them. You may rather have the other team go for those arguments. If you straight-turn the disadvantage, you are “forcing their hand,” making them debate about something they may even want to debate about.

There are times, however, when you want to straight turn – either link or impact turn – the disadvantage.

You can’t defend your affirmative case. Perhaps the negative has launched a devastating attack against your cause for which you are unprepared.  If you know that you will not be able to defend your case against their attack, you can straight-turn a disadvantage. This will give you another advantage that is not dependent on winning your original case.

You want to divert the other team.  Perhaps the other team has another solid disadvantage or counterplan for which you are unprepared. If you do not want them to go for it, try straight-turning a particular disadvantage that you’d rather have them go for.  

You can’t answer a counterplan. The other team may come up with a tricky counterplan that you are unprepared to debate.  The counterplan, however, is not enough. The other team will need to win that the counterplan is net-beneficial – that a particular disadvantage that links more to the plan than the counterplan is a reason to only vote for the counterplan (see the section on counterplans for a greater explanation).  If you straight-link or impact turn that particular disadvantage, they will not be able to win that the counterplan is competitive.

Reduce the other team’s speed advantage.  Some teams are very, very fast. Or, at the very least, they are much faster talkers than you are.  They may present five or six different disadvantages in the 1NC. If you straight turn all of their disadvantages, it will force them to try to extend all of them in the negative block.  This is very difficult and will upset their verbal quickness advantage.

It is very important that you only straight turn disadvantages when you think that you need to do so to win the debate.  If you do not need to straight-turn a disadvantage to win the debate, do not do so. Defeat the disadvantage as best as you can and use the disadvantage to outweigh the case.

Advanced Disadvantage Answering Tips

Put your best answers last.  This is something that you should only do if you have some experience and are good at allocating your time. Generally you want to put your best arguments in order to insure that you have time to make your best arguments.  If you put them last, however, teams that are top heavy are less likely to answers them – or at least answer them very well.

Read an “add-on.” An add-on is an additional short advantage that you can read. If you read it on the disadvantage flow, teams are less likely to answer it.  If you can find an add-on related to the disadvantage (say one that says that you stop an economic downturn and that the economy is key to the military and a strong economy generally prevents war), you should read it on the relevant disadvantage.

Sample 2AC vs AI Good