2AC — Answering Kritiks

Answering Kritiks

Every debater wants to become better at answering kritiks.  Although there is no simple formula to complete this task, there are a number of basic things that you can do to improve the quality of your debating against critiques.

Determine what type of kritik you are debating.  You cannot answer a language kritik the same you answer a disadvantage-style kritik.  Uniqueness arguments, for example, are completely irrelevant against language critiques but arguably more relevant against disadvantage-style kritiks.  You need to figure out what type of kritik you are confronted with and adjusted your answers as suggested below.

Win a framework debate.  You can really answer all of the second and third generation kritiks, and make inroads into the first kritiks critiques, by winning that the framework that the judge should use when deciding the debate is determining whether or not the plan is net-beneficial. If you can win this general argument on the negative, you can win that the affirmative loses because they don’t have a plan (they may just be singing or rapping and arguing that their performance should be evaluated by the judge), they should lose. Or, more limitedly, but very importantly, you can argue that the judge should decide the debate only on whether or not the plan is net-beneficial and that is the debate that you are winning.  

Winning the framework debate will not entirely defeat the first generation of kritiks because those kritiks have relevance in this traditional policy-making framework – they question the solvency and the desirability of the affirmative.

The framework arguments are still useful, however, because they include arguments that the judge should assess the desirability of the plan – challenging their “no fiat claim” and allowing the relevance of your disadvantages to come back into play.  Second, these framework arguments contend that the affirmative should only be responsible for the increment of harm their plan causes (they make the bad law a little more legitimate) and not all of the consequences of the action. Although these framework arguments do not eliminate the relevance of the negative’s critique, they do substantially undermine its relevance.

In the remainder of this chapter, I am going to discuss how to make additional answers to critiques that assume that you are able to push your opponent back into a framework that assesses the overall merits of the plan’s desirability.  A subsequent chapter with more advanced suggestions for debating kritiks will cover answering these other forms of critique outside the plan desirability framework. Disadvantage critiques are also the most popular form of critique in high school debate, so I want to give them the most attention.

I’ll use the capitalism kritik to center the discussion.

Question the relationship between the link and the impact.  Most disadvantage-style critiques only posses a very tangential relationship between the link and the impact.  For example, a team may argue that the plan either promotes capitalism or is an example of capitalism in action.

The problem with this relatively simple argument is that affirmative does not support all of the manifestations of capitalism. You could, for example, that reducing certain environmental protections make it impossible for businesses to operate. Since critiques are really about what the affirmative supports, and the terminal impact to the critique usually comes from something the affirmative never said they support, you can argue that there is really no link between your plan and environmental managerialism.

Make a non-uniqueness claim.  There is really no reason that disadvantages have to be unique and that disadvantage-style critiques do not have to be.  You should argue that environmental managerialism (or whatever) is entrenched now, that you only make it a little worse at best, and that your advantages outweigh the increment of the impact.

Make a logical permutations against the alternative.  Teams that present critiques of things like environmental managerialism or the law will usually argue for alternatives that say things like “reject environmental managerialism” or “reject the law.”  Since they’ll argue that the affirmative is a manifestation of environmental managerialism, any permutation must include severing out of this original support of environmental managerialism. This makes the permutation an illegitimate severance permutation.

The affirmative team can avoid this standard retort to the permutation by making a logical permutation.  A logical permutation breaks the alternative down to its various parts. For example, environmental managerialism includes at least all of these parts: big companies that produce nuclear weapons for profits; companies that extract resources from the earth for profit, potentially destroying the environment; companies that exploit workers

A logical permutation would advocate doing/support the plan (reducing arms ales) while rejecting big companies that produce nuclear weapons for profit, other companies that extract resources from the earth for profit, and all other manifestations of environmental managerialism.  This permutation is deadly for a few reasons. First, it does not sever out of anything the affirmative originally advocated –- reducing arms sales. Second, it solves the entire impact to the critique because the critique’s impact stems from these other elements/manifestations of environmental managerialism.  

This permutation will defeat almost every critique that has a relatively utopian alternative because it enables the affirmative to solve the impact.  It forces the debate back to whether or not the particular form of service the affirmative advocates is undesirable, and, after all, if the negative can win that that specific form of service is undesirable, they should be able to win the debate.  This is simply proving that the plan is disadvantageous.

Argue the alternative doesn’t solve and/or is bad.  Just as you can attack the solvency of a counterplan, you can attack the solvency of the alternative and argue that simply rejecting environmental managerialism will fail. You can also run disadvantages to the alternative, arguing that

Read impact turns.  If the negative says the state is bad, say it is good. If they say environmental managerialism is bad, say it is good.  Many negative teams are not well-prepared to debate basic impact turns to their critiques.

Cap K 2AC