Interpretation and violation – the affirmative should defend the desirability of topical government action



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  1. Interpretation and violation – the affirmative should defend the desirability of topical government action



“USFG should” means the debate is solely about a policy established by governmental means


Ericson ‘03

(Jon M., Dean Emeritus of the College of Liberal Arts – California Polytechnic U., et al., The Debater’s Guide, Third Edition, p. 4)

The Proposition of Policy: Urging Future Action In policy propositions, each topic contains certain key elements, although they have slightly different functions from comparable elements of value-oriented propositions. 1. An agent doing the acting ---“The United States” in “The United States should adopt a policy of free trade.” Like the object of evaluation in a proposition of value, the agent is the subject of the sentence. 2. The verb should—the first part of a verb phrase that urges action. 3. An action verb to follow should in the should-verb combination. For example, should adopt here means to put a program or policy into action though governmental means. 4. A specification of directions or a limitation of the action desired. The phrase free trade, for example, gives direction and limits to the topic, which would, for example, eliminate consideration of increasing tariffs, discussing diplomatic recognition, or discussing interstate commerce. Propositions of policy deal with future action. Nothing has yet occurred. The entire debate is about whether something ought to occur. What you agree to do, then, when you accept the affirmative side in such a debate is to offer sufficient and compelling reasons for an audience to perform the future action that you propose.

“Should” requires defending federal action


Judge Henry Nieto 9, Colorado Court of Appeals, 8-20-2009 People v. Munoz, 240 P.3d 311 (Colo. Ct. App. 2009)

"Should" is "used . . . to express duty, obligation, propriety, or expediency." Webster's Third New International Dictionary 2104 (2002). Courts [**15] interpreting the word in various contexts have drawn conflicting conclusions, although the weight of authority appears to favor interpreting "should" in an imperative, obligatory sense. HN7A number of courts, confronted with the question of whether using the word "should" in jury instructions conforms with the Fifth and Sixth Amendment protections governing the reasonable doubt standard, have upheld instructions using the word. In the courts of other states in which a defendant has argued that the word "should" in the reasonable doubt instruction does not sufficiently inform the jury that it is bound to find the defendant not guilty if insufficient proof is submitted at trial, the courts have squarely rejected the argument. They reasoned that the word "conveys a sense of duty and obligation and could not be misunderstood by a jury." See State v. McCloud, 257 Kan. 1, 891 P.2d 324, 335 (Kan. 1995); see also Tyson v. State, 217 Ga. App. 428, 457 S.E.2d 690, 691-92 (Ga. Ct. App. 1995) (finding argument that "should" is directional but not instructional to be without merit); Commonwealth v. Hammond, 350 Pa. Super. 477, 504 A.2d 940, 941-42 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1986). Notably, courts interpreting the word "should" in other types of jury instructions [**16] have also found that the word conveys to the jury a sense of duty or obligation and not discretion. In Little v. State, 261 Ark. 859, 554 S.W.2d 312, 324 (Ark. 1977), the Arkansas Supreme Court interpreted the word "should" in an instruction on circumstantial evidence as synonymous with the word "must" and rejected the defendant's argument that the jury may have been misled by the court's use of the word in the instruction. Similarly, the Missouri Supreme Court rejected a defendant's argument that the court erred by not using the word "should" in an instruction on witness credibility which used the word "must" because the two words have the same meaning. State v. Rack, 318 S.W.2d 211, 215 (Mo. 1958). [*318] In applying a child support statute, the Arizona Court of Appeals concluded that a legislature's or commission's use of the word "should" is meant to convey duty or obligation. McNutt v. McNutt, 203 Ariz. 28, 49 P.3d 300, 306 (Ariz. Ct. App. 2002) (finding a statute stating that child support expenditures "should" be allocated for the purpose of parents' federal tax exemption to be mandatory).


Debate over a controversial point of action creates argumentative stasis—that’s key to avoid a devolution of debate into competing truth claims, which destroys the decision-making benefits of the activity


Steinberg and Freeley ’13 David Director of Debate at U Miami, Former President of CEDA, officer, American Forensic Association and National Communication Association. Lecturer in Communication studies and rhetoric. Advisor to Miami Urban Debate League, Masters in Communication, and Austin, JD, Suffolk University, attorney who focuses on criminal, personal injury and civil rights law, Argumentation and Debate Critical Thinking for Reasoned Decision Making, Thirteen Edition

Debate is a means of settling differences, so there must be a controversy, a difference of opinion or a conflict of interest before there can be a debate. If everyone is in agreement on a feet or value or policy, there is no need or opportunity for debate; the matter can be settled by unanimous consent. Thus, for example, it would be pointless to attempt to debate "Resolved: That two plus two equals four,” because there is simply no controversy about this statement. Controversy is an essential prerequisite of debate. Where there is no clash of ideas, proposals, interests, or expressed positions of issues, there is no debate. Controversy invites decisive choice between competing positions. Debate cannot produce effective decisions without clear identification of a question or questions to be answered. For example, general argument may occur about the broad topic of illegal immigration. How many illegal immigrants live in the United States? What is the impact of illegal immigration and immigrants on our economy? What is their impact on our communities? Do they commit crimes? Do they take jobs from American workers? Do they pay taxes? Do they require social services? Is it a problem that some do not speak English? Is it the responsibility of employers to discourage illegal immigration by not hiring undocumented workers? Should they have the opportunity to gain citizenship? Does illegal immigration pose a security threat to our country? Do illegal immigrants do work that American workers are unwilling to do? Are their rights as workers and as human beings at risk due to their status? Are they abused by employers, law enforcement, housing, and businesses? How are their families impacted by their status? What is the moral and philosophical obligation of a nation state to maintain its borders? Should we build a wall on the Mexican border, establish a national identification card, or enforce existing laws against employers? Should we invite immigrants to become U.S. citizens? Surely you can think of many more concerns to be addressed by a conversation about the topic area of illegal immigration. Participation in this “debate” is likely to be emotional and intense. However, it is not likely to be productive or useful without focus on a particular question and identification of a line demarcating sides in the controversy. To be discussed and resolved effectively, controversies are best understood when seated clearly such that all parties to the debate share an understanding about the objective of the debate. This enables focus on substantive and objectively identifiable issues facilitating comparison of competing argumentation leading to effective decisions. Vague understanding results in unfocused deliberation and poor decisions, general feelings of tension without opportunity for resolution, frustration, and emotional distress, as evidenced by the failure of the U.S. Congress to make substantial progress on the immigration debate. Of course, arguments may be presented without disagreement. For example, claims are presented and supported within speeches, editorials, and advertisements even without opposing or refutational response. Argumentation occurs in a range of settings from informal to formal, and may not call upon an audience or judge to make a forced choice among competing claims. Informal discourse occurs as conversation or panel discussion without demanding a decision about a dichotomous or yes/no question. However, by definition, debate requires "reasoned judgment on a proposition. The proposition is a statement about which competing advocates will offer alternative (pro or con) argumentation calling upon their audience or adjudicator to decide. The proposition provides focus for the discourse and guides the decision process. Even when a decision will be made through a process of compromise, it is important to identify the beginning positions of competing advocates to begin negotiation and movement toward a center, or consensus position. It is frustrating and usually unproductive to attempt to make a decision when deciders are unclear as to what the decision is about. The proposition may be implicit in some applied debates (“Vote for me!); however, when a vote or consequential decision is called for (as in the courtroom or in applied parliamentary debate) it is essential that the proposition be explicitly expressed (the defendant is guilty!). In academic debate, the proposition provides essential guidance for the preparation of the debaters prior to the debate, the case building and discourse presented during the debate, and the decision to be made by the debate judge after the debate. Someone disturbed by the problem of a growing underclass of poorly educated, socially disenfranchised youths might observe, “Public schools are doing a terrible job! They' are overcrowded, and many teachers are poorly qualified in their subject areas. Even the best teachers can do little more than struggle to maintain order in their classrooms." That same concerned citizen, facing a complex range of issues, might arrive at an unhelpful decision, such as "We ought to do something about this” or, worse, “It’s too complicated a problem to deal with." Groups of concerned citizens worried about the state of public education could join together to express their frustrations, anger, disillusionment, and emotions regarding the schools, but without a focus for their discussions, they could easily agree about the sorry state of education without finding points of clarity or potential solutions. A gripe session would follow. But if a precise question is posed—such as “What can be done to improve public education?then a more profitable area of discussion is opened up simply by placing a focus on the search for a concrete solution step. One or more judgments can be phrased in the form of debate propositions, motions for parliamentary debate, or bills for legislative assemblies, The statements "Resolved: That the federal government should implement a program of charter schools in at-risk communities” and “Resolved; That the state of Florida should adopt a school voucher program" more clearly identify specific ways of dealing with educational problems in a manageable form, suitable for debate. They provide specific policies to be investigated and aid discussants in identifying points of difference. This focus contributes to better and more informed decision making with the potential for better results. In academic debate, it provides better depth of argumentation and enhanced opportunity for reaping the educational benefits of participation. In the next section, we will consider the challenge of framing the proposition for debate, and its role in the debate. To have a productive debate, which facilitates effective decision making by directing and placing limits on the decision to be made, the basis for argument should be clearly defined. If we merely talk about a topic, such as ‘"homelessness,” or “abortion,” Or “crime,” or “global warming,” we are likely to have an interesting discussion but not to establish a profitable basis for argument. For example, the statement Resolved: That the pen is mightier than the sword” is debatable, yet by itself fails to provide much basis for dear argumentation. If we take this statement to mean Iliad the written word is more effective than physical force for some purposes, we can identify a problem area: the comparative effectiveness of writing or physical force for a specific purpose, perhaps promoting positive social change. (Note that “loose propositions, such as the example above, may be defined by their advocates in such a way as to facilitate a clear contrast of competing sides; through definitions and debate they “become” clearly understood statements even though they may not begin as such. There are formats for debate that often begin with this sort of proposition. However, in any debate, at some point, effective and meaningful discussion relies on identification of a clearly stated or understood proposition.) Back to the example of the written word versus physical force. Although we now have a general subject, we have not yet stated a problem. It is still too broad, too loosely worded to promote weII-organized argument. What sort of writing are we concerned with—poems, novels, government documents, website development, advertising, cyber-warfare, disinformation, or what? What does it mean to be “mightier" in this context? What kind of physical force is being comparedfists, dueling swords, bazookas, nuclear weapons, or what? A more specific question might be, “Would a mutual defense treaty or a visit by our fleet be more effective in assuring Laurania of our support in a certain crisis?” The basis for argument could be phrased in a debate proposition such as “Resolved: That the United States should enter into a mutual defense treaty with Laurania.” Negative advocates might oppose this proposition by arguing that fleet maneuvers would be a better solution. This is not to say that debates should completely avoid creative interpretation of the controversy by advocates, or that good debates cannot occur over competing interpretations of the controversy; in fact, these sorts of debates may be very engaging. The point is that debate is best facilitated by the guidance provided by focus on a particular point of difference, which will be outlined in the following discussion.

Vote neg

Preparation and clash—changing the topic post facto manipulates balance of prep, which structurally favors the aff because they speak last and permute alternatives—strategic fairness is key to engaging a well-prepared opponent



Topical fairness requirements are key to effective dialogue and deliberative discourse makes the discussion one-sided and subverts any meaningful neg role.


Ryan Galloway 7, Samford Comm prof, Contemporary Argumentation and Debate, Vol. 28, 2007

Debate as a dialogue sets an argumentative table, where all parties receive a relatively fair opportunity to voice their position. Anything that fails to allow participants to have their position articulated denies one side of the argumentative table a fair hearing. The affirmative side is set by the topic and fairness requirements. While affirmative teams have recently resisted affirming the topic, in fact, the topic selection process is rigorous, taking the relative ground of each topic as its central point of departure.¶ Setting the affirmative reciprocally sets the negative. The negative crafts approaches to the topic consistent with affirmative demands. The negative crafts disadvantages, counter-plans, and critical arguments premised on the arguments that the topic allows for the affirmative team. According to fairness norms, each side sits at a relatively balanced argumentative table.¶ When one side takes more than its share, competitive equity suffers. However, it also undermines the respect due to the other involved in the dialogue. When one side excludes the other, it fundamentally denies the personhood of the other participant (Ehninger, 1970, p. 110). A pedagogy of debate as dialogue takes this respect as a fundamental component. A desire to be fair is a fundamental condition of a dialogue that takes the form of a demand for equality of voice. Far from being a banal request for links to a disadvantage, fairness is a demand for respect, a demand to be heard, a demand that a voice backed by literally months upon months of preparation, research, and critical thinking not be silenced.Affirmative cases that suspend basic fairness norms operate to exclude particular negative strategies. Unprepared, one side comes to the argumentative table unable to meaningfully participate in a dialogue. They are unable to “understand what ‘went on…’” and are left to the whims of time and power (Farrell, 1985, p. 114). Hugh Duncan furthers this line of reasoning:¶ Opponents not only tolerate but honor and respect each other because in doing so they enhance their own chances of thinking better and reaching sound decisions. Opposition is necessary because it sharpens thought in action. We assume that argument, discussion, and talk, among free an informed people who subordinate decisions of any kind, because it is only through such discussion that we reach agreement which binds us to a common cause…If we are to be equal…relationships among equals must find expression in many formal and informal institutions (Duncan, 1993, p. 196-197).¶ Debate compensates for the exigencies of the world by offering a framework that maintains equality for the sake of the conversation (Farrell, 1985, p. 114).¶ For example, an affirmative case on the 2007-2008 college topic might defend neither state nor international action in the Middle East, and yet claim to be germane to the topic in some way. The case essentially denies the arguments that state action is oppressive or that actions in the international arena are philosophically or pragmatically suspect. Instead of allowing for the dialogue to be modified by the interchange of the affirmative case and the negative response, the affirmative subverts any meaningful role to the negative team, preventing them from offering effective “counter-word” and undermining the value of a meaningful exchange of speech acts. Germaneness and other substitutes for topical action do not accrue the dialogical benefits of topical advocacy.

Effective deliberative discourse is the lynchpin to solving all existential social and political problems.


Lundberg, UNC Chapel Hill communications professor, 2010

(Christian, Tradition of Debate in North Carolina” in Navigating Opportunity: Policy Debate in the 21st Century, pg 311-3)



The second major problem with the critique that identifies a naivety in articulating debate and democracy is that it presumes that the primary pedagogical outcome of debate is speech capacities. But the democratic capacities built by debate are not limited to speech—as indicated earlier, debate builds capacity for critical thinking, analysis of public claims, informed decision making, and better public judgment. If the picture of modem political life that underwrites this critique of debate is a pessimistic view of increasingly labyrinthine and bureaucratic administrative politics, rapid scientific and technological change outpacing the capacities of the citizenry to comprehend them, and ever-expanding insular special-interest- and money-driven politics, it is a puzzling solution, at best, to argue that these conditions warrant giving up on debate. If democracy is open to rearticulation, it is open to rearticulation precisely because as the challenges of modern political life proliferate, the citizenry's capacities can change, which is one of the primary reasons that theorists of democracy such as Ocwey in The Public awl Its Problems place such a high premium on education (Dewey 1988,63, 154). Debate provides an indispensible form of education in the modem articulation of democracy because it builds precisely the skills that allow the citizenry to research and be informed about policy decisions that impact them, to sort through and evaluate the evidence for and relative merits of arguments for and against a policy in an increasingly information-rich environment, and to prioritize their time and political energies toward policies that matter the most to them. The merits of debate as a tool for building democratic capacity-building take on a special significance in the context of information literacy. John Larkin (2005, HO) argues that one of the primary failings of modern colleges and universities is that they have not changed curriculum to match with the challenges of a new information environment. This is a problem for the course of academic study in our current context, but perhaps more important, argues Larkin, for the future of a citizenry that will need to make evaluative choices against an increasingly complex and multimediated information environment (ibid-). Larkin's study tested the benefits of debate participation on information-literacy skills and concluded that in-class debate participants reported significantly higher self-efficacy ratings of their ability to navigate academic search databases and to effectively search and use other Web resources: To analyze the self-report ratings of the instructional and control group students, we first conducted a multivariate analysis of variance on all of the ratings, looking jointly at the effect of instmction/no instruction and debate topic . . . that it did not matter which topic students had been assigned . . . students in the Instnictional [debate) group were significantly more confident in their ability to access information and less likely to feel that they needed help to do so----These findings clearly indicate greater self-efficacy for online searching among students who participated in (debate).... These results constitute strong support for the effectiveness of the project on students' self-efficacy for online searching in the academic databases. There was an unintended effect, however: After doing ... the project, instructional group students also felt more confident than the other students in their ability to get good information from Yahoo and Google. It may be that the library research experience increased self-efficacy for any searching, not just in academic databases. (Larkin 2005, 144) Larkin's study substantiates Thomas Worthcn and Gaylcn Pack's (1992, 3) claim that debate in the college classroom plays a critical role in fostering the kind of problem-solving skills demanded by the increasingly rich media and information environment of modernity. Though their essay was written in 1992 on the cusp of the eventual explosion of the Internet as a medium, Worthcn and Pack's framing of the issue was prescient: the primary question facing today's student has changed from how to best research a topic to the crucial question of learning how to best evaluate which arguments to cite and rely upon from an easily accessible and veritable cornucopia of materials. There are, without a doubt, a number of important criticisms of employing debate as a model for democratic deliberation. But cumulatively, the evidence presented here warrants strong support for expanding debate practice in the classroom as a technology for enhancing democratic deliberative capacities. The unique combination of critical thinking skills, research and information processing skills, oral communication skills, and capacities for listening and thoughtful, open engagement with hotly contested issues argues for debate as a crucial component of a rich and vital democratic life. In-class debate practice both aids students in achieving the best goals of college and university education, and serves as an unmatched practice for creating thoughtful, engaged, open-minded and self-critical students who are open to the possibilities of meaningful political engagement and new articulations of democratic life. Expanding this practice is crucial, if only because the more we produce citizens that can actively and effectively engage the political process, the more likely we are to produce revisions of democratic life that are necessary if democracy is not only to survive, but to thrive. Democracy faces a myriad of challenges, including: domestic and international issues of class, gender, and racial justice; wholesale environmental destruction and the potential for rapid climate change; emerging threats to international stability in the form of terrorism, intervention and new possibilities for great power conflict; and increasing challenges of rapid globalization including an increasingly volatile global economic structure. More than any specific policy or proposal, an informed and active citizenry that deliberates with greater skill and sensitivity provides one of the best hopes for responsive and effective democratic governance, and by extension, one of the last best hopes for dealing with the existential challenges to democracy [in an] increasingly complex world.

Simulated ocean debates inculcate agency and decision-making skills—that enables activism and avoids cooption


NOAA 13 [NOAA, The Report of Ocean Exploration, 2020, A National Forum, 2013, http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/oceanexploration2020/oe2020_report.pdf]

The solutions to the challenging issues facing our oceans—global warming, acidification, over-fishing—require the right combination of strong science, informed policy, and skilled engineering. However, there is one challenge (indeed, the grandest ocean challenge) that doesn’t fit that formula: public engagement. Solving the ocean challenges require an engaged and supportive public. A public that understands what is at stake, and can draw a clear connection between ocean health and the health of their families and communities. Unfortunately, the same tactics needed to address the pressing ocean issues also work to cognitively erase that public connection with the ocean. The immensity of the ocean and its corresponding challenges create a willful blindness among the public—it’s just too overwhelming to comprehend, so people stop trying. The most effective way to build an engaged and informed public is just the opposite. Instead of highlighting the problems, we need now more than ever to use a positive approach to show what’s wonderful about our oceans. We need to strengthen the public connection through positive association. From a postive perspective, there’s no better tactic than ocean exploration. It taps into everything that’s awe-inspiring about the ocean: its vastness, its mystery, its wonder. But it also taps into everything that’s awe-inspiring about our humanity: our curiosity, our ingenuity, our wonder. Public engagement is the highest imperativeevery other issue is derivative. People will only protect and pursue something in their field of awareness. We need a direct emotional connection. Ocean exploration gives us the power to tell that story.

We must engage in state institutions in order to challenge colonialism


Mendoza 8 (Elva Fabiola Orozco, Master of Arts in Political Science, Borderlands Theory: Producing Border Epistemologies with Gloria Anzaldua, April 24, 2008, http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/theses/available/etd-05062008-175949/unrestricted/Final_thesis_corrected.pdf)

By making the struggle inner, Anzald˙a puts an excessive responsibility on the individual herself in finding her liberation. Yet, since people experience freedom, or its absence, in the public sphere, in the quest for liberation, the inner self has to realize that the struggle is not only against the inner demons, fears, or traumas, but also against society and its social and political institutions, i.e. the state and the economic sector. In this realm, it is important to remember that identity construction is not an exclusive personal matter, but rather it involves an individualís perception of herself and her interaction vis-‡-vis those against she defines herself. In other words, since Borderlands theory attempts to liberate the self from imposed identities, one needs to be clear that such liberation would not be possible if one does not directly confront the structure of power that participate directly in shaping oneís identity in one way or another. Thus, although Anzald˙a states that the struggle is to be directed against the dominant culture (white males), Anzald˙a misses the opportunity to challenge the institutions that the white culture created to institutionalize domination. In doing so, Anzald˙a also misses the opportunity to challenge one of the most important entities that creates, regulates, and promotes those institutions, namely, the state. The state apparatus widely advanced the ideologies of the Monroe Doctrine, the Manifest Destiny, the Proposition 187, etc. While commenting on Patchen Markellís Bound by Recognition, Vazquez-Arroyo argues that: The state is frequently a constitutive actor in the politicization of identity, either by its own logics of legitimation or by means of its role in the political economy. It is not innocent to the managing and racialization of identities in capitalist societies either. In fact, the recognition of its legitimacy often relies on the production and management of differences (Vazquez-Arroyo, 2004: 9). Thus, if the state plays a prominent role in politicizing identities, any theory or projects of resistance directed to change or create a new identity needs not only to call accountable the figure state, but also to confront it and seek to influence it in a direct form. It is through the state that domination is legitimized and worked out even in the so-called democratic states. Stateís apparatuses through their institutions, policies, rules, laws, etc., have an important participation in determining what is legal and what is not, what is just and what is not and also whose rights get to be protected and whose not. Consequently, in seeking significant freedom, it is important to pay close attention to those political institutions that represent us and critically evaluate their complicity in promoting the privilege or oppression of certain groups. Thus, although I do consider the freedom of the self important, it is hard to argue against Arendt on this point since the freedom of the colonized has been erased in the public sphere, meaning that it is in the public space where freedom must be sought, fought, and recuperated. In this vein, colonized people must not only resist domination, imposition and the like. They must insert themselves in the city, in schools, in hospitals, in congresses, in government offices, in bars, in galleries. In short, the colonized must exist in every single place that claims to be public since it is there where freedom matters.



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