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How can you provide in depth analysis when given a simple motion?
Submitted by CATC on 24 December 2014
Hi, often times at tournaments, we are given simple motions. These motions usually have a set list of arguments attached to it- whether you be at the government or opposition side. However, I'm tired of running these obvious pre-canned arguments, yet I find great difficulty in digging further and making the debate more than what it seems at the surface level. Can youo please help me out? If you can case build a motion for me as an example, that will be greatly appreciated. Thanks! :)
further analysisSubmitted by Anne Valkering on 25 December 2014
Dear CATC,Standard arguments are usually standard arguments because they are the most important things to prove in a debate, so they would always be standard in any debate. However, there are ways to improve on them and make them more interesting. Two useful additions would be to be more specific and more detailed or to debate on a more meta-level.
One caveat before I start though: what you find standard topics and standard debates, might not be standard topics, debates and arguments for people from other debate regions, debate circuits or debate styles. I am pretty sure that as someone from the Netherlands, I find most topics debated domestically in, say, the US or South Korea to be fairly far-fetched, as they do not fit in with my knowledge of how life works in my country. So debates about gun control are unnecessary and debates about our neighbouring countries tend to assume a lot more shared interests than differences. So I can hardly comment on "standard" cases because I do not know which ones you are normally debating about.
First, more detailed analysis comes from looking at an argument and a case from more angles than one. So if you are speaking about limiting campaign finance, looking not just at big business and "the voter" but differentiating between voters and different types of special interests. When debating about an international intervention, not just looking at the interests of the actor, the international community and the country discussed, but also the neighbouring countries, shifting power alliances, and different groups within the country discussed. Or when discussing development aid, detailing the effect of a policy on different types of developing countries rather than lumping them all together. In sum, differentiation and specificity can come from analysing how an argument or plan might work differently for different groups.
It can also be by using different lenses on a particular topic. Talking about the criminal justice system already changes dramatically when you move out of "there are criminals, victims and society" to include different types of criminals and different types of reasons and causes for crimes, cops, the office of the prosecution and government, minority groups,neighbourhood organisations, societal norms, that all have an interest and impact on certain processes. It could do so even more if you look at it from different societal or philosophical perspectives, for example on what is the use of the justice system (debater shorthand: "prevention of harm, rehabilitation and retribution") for different social groups and what does this mean for how it should be shaped. Should the justice system be focused more on societal norms, or more on the effects on individuals? Or when debating an economics issue, one can debate about whether a certain policy (Keynesian investments, or higher taxes) will lead to more or less economic growth, or is principally right or wrong, but one can also debate about what the economy is in essence for and what it should serve.
This moves us nicely to meta-debate, where you no longer just stake out arguments against each other, but actively compare them and try to win the debate on which ones are more important. If you can show that the economy is ultimately there to serve to provide for society and all that are in it, raising taxes and doing Keynesian policies would seem a fair thing to do even if it is stealing in a way. In case you show that economy is ultimately just there to facilitate transactions between otherwise free individuals who can choose to partake or not and are responsible for their own good, you stop Keynesian policies. The way you win this debate is by providing argumentation on why your interpretation is more important and more valid, rather than just providing the argument that you are morally right (which you should still do).