1NC — Disadvantages


A disadvantage is a negative argument that proves that the affirmative plan is undesirable.  It is one of the simplest ideas in debate – it is an argument about a negative consequence that will result from adopting the affirmative plan.

For example, the affirmative plan may save lives.  The disadvantage proves that the affirmative plan hurt the economy, triggering despair, death, and even war (for example)

Debate is not the first time that you have considered disadvantages when making decisions.  For example, even when making a simple consideration of whether or not to buy a shirt, you take into consideration disadvantages.  One disadvantage to buying a particular shirt is that it will take away money from something else that you may wish to spend it on, like another shirt or a pair of shorts.  Or, you may think the shirt will look bad on you. These simple arguments are all disadvantages.

It is important to note that any given disadvantage alone is not necessarily a reason to vote negative.  Negatives must argue that the disadvantage (or combination of disadvantages) proves that the affirmative’s plan is net-undesirable—that the costs outweigh the benefits.  To continue with the example above, the negative would need to prove that it is better to buy the pair of shorts with the money than the shirt.

What are the parts of a disadvantage?

In debate, disadvantages have different parts. Although these parts make the disadvantage appear more of a difficult argument than what has just been discussed, the different parts will actually assist you with both understanding different types of arguments generally and with constructing and answering disadvantages.

Link.  The link is the part of the argument that ties the negative disadvantage to what the affirmative is arguing.  For example, placing restrictions on AI development with copyright protections could undermine the AI industry.

Internal link.  The internal link connects one link to another link or one link to an impact. For example, undermining AI developments could undermine the US position vis-a-vis China. Sometimes the argument is contained in either the original link evidence (see above) or the impact evidence. Other times it is added as a separate piece of evidence.

Impact. The impact is similar to a harm claim, though the term impact is usually used in the context of the disadvantage.  The disadvantage is the final, end problem that results. For example, military decline causes war.

Uniqueness.  The uniqueness to the disadvantage is usually presented first, but since it is the hardest part of the disadvantage to understand, it is discussed last.  Uniqueness refers to the part of the disadvantage that argues that the disadvantage will not occur absent the adoption of the affirmative plan. There are three types of uniqueness arguments, though the negative will likely only present a general uniqueness claim in the first negative constructive.


There are other types of uniqueness arguments, though they are all not proven in the first speeches.

Link uniqueness.  Link uniqueness establishes that the link will not happen now.  In this case, the negative needs to win that there are not greater restraints on AI coming now.

Internal link uniqueness.  Internal link uniqueness argues that the internal link will not happen now.  For example, in this case, you could argue that US leadership in AI will be retained.

Impact uniqueness.  Impact uniqueness establishes that the impact will not happen now.  For example, the negative might argue there will not be a global war now.

Disadvantages are first presented in the 1NC as off-case positions.  The basic shell should contain the link, internal link, impact, and uniqueness arguments.  Sometimes debaters will forget to demonstrate support for one of the parts. It is the job of the affirmative team to point this out.

It is essential that the negative win every part of the disadvantage.  If one part of the disadvantage falls, the entire disadvantage falls.

Sample Disadvantage