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PostPosted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 5:18 pm 
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for as long as I can remember, there has been a pretty clear distinction between significance and inherency.

sig = weight of harm. does the problem matter (quantitatively/qualitatively)?
inh = permanency of harm. is the problem embedded in the status quo (or is there already an existing solution)?

nowadays though, i've often seen basically all harms arguments tossed carelessly into just one of those categories (usually inherency).

this confuses me. do debaters not know the difference anymore? are they getting lazy? or do i have an unusual interpretation of those stock issues?

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 5:32 pm 
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Your interpretation of the stock issues are pretty good in my opinion. The reason I would sy that these are lumped together often is that they are so similar. Some debators in a round might say, well the problem isn't significant because it is already being solved. It's not as much that they are grouping them under the stock issue of significance, but rather use the word significant to quantify that there will be little or no change with an Aff ballot.

I might be misunderstanding you question. ;)

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 5:32 pm 
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onegirlrebelution wrote:
for as long as I can remember, there has been a pretty clear distinction between significance and inherency.

sig = weight of harm. does the problem matter (quantitatively/qualitatively)?
inh = permanency of harm. is the problem embedded in the status quo (or is there already an existing solution)?

nowadays though, i've often seen basically all harms arguments tossed carelessly into just one of those categories (usually inherency).

this confuses me. do debaters not know the difference anymore? are they getting lazy? or do i have an unusual interpretation of those stock issues?

I think people just get confused where to put harm responses on the flow. As you said, inherency is the permanency of the harm. Whereas significance is why the harm matters.

In my mind, there are 3 ways to respond to a harm.
a) This is going away next year anyway. (Inherency)
b) This doesn't matter. (Significance)
c) They don't fix it. (Solvency)

Some might get the 3 confused and argue that their 1st inherency point is that "Their harm doesn't matter because it's impact is so tiny." when that should have been a significance point.

I think typically, people understand the difference.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 10:29 pm 
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Masked Midnight wrote:
This might be better off in the "debate theory" forum. ;)

my apologies. yes whoever moved this, thanks.


...okay good, so it seems i'm not way off in my understanding of them.

Foxtrot wrote:
The reason I would sy that these are lumped together often is that they are so similar. Some debators in a round might say, well the problem isn't significant because it is already being solved. It's not as much that they are grouping them under the stock issue of significance, but rather use the word significant to quantify that there will be little or no change with an Aff ballot.

curlyhairedmenace wrote:
In my mind, there are 3 ways to respond to a harm.
a) This is going away next year anyway. (Inherency)
b) This doesn't matter. (Significance)
c) They don't fix it. (Solvency)

Some might get the 3 confused and argue that their 1st inherency point is that "Their harm doesn't matter because it's impact is so tiny." when that should have been a significance point.


so i think what you're saying is that people just don't really bother to make the distinction between the two? i guess that makes sense; i more often see it though as people calling all harms arguments inherency rather than significance. i guess they think inherency automatically equals harms.

let's say you're arguing not really about a harm's weight or its permanency, but rather that it doesn't even exist to begin with. (example: a NATO expansion case argues "Russia will attack small NATO countries that join" and Neg responds "no, Russia's never even gonna go there.") that still would be significance, right?

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 11:08 pm 
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I would agree with your interpretation of inherency, but maybe a slight differential. Inherency is what's actually causing the problem. The root of the problem. If the inherency of the harm goes unaddressed, the solvency will not follow.

And I definitely agree that significance and inherency are being confused. Way too much.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 11:32 pm 
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I use lots of medical analogies when I explain the stock issues. Here's what I would chip in as the answer to this question.

I always explain significance as "how big, how bad?" Some people even separate the issue into those two dimensions: degree and harm. Degree is how big, how widespread? If you have chronic pain, is it in your little toe, or throughout your body? If you've got an outbreak of bird flu, is it one patient or all of New York City? Harm, "how bad," is distinct from "how big." Ebola is pretty bad on the "how bad" scale: it's effectively incurable, untreatable, and absent a miracle you die spurting blood from every opening. The opposite end might be the common cold, which isn't remotely life threatening; a few days' discomfort and that's it.

Inherency, then, also has two dimensions: how long and how controlled? The common cold isn't terribly inherent, because it goes away on its own in two or three days. It's literally more rational to do nothing and wait for it to go away than it is to treat it, beyond simple things like fluids and rest. That's a good analogy for voting negative: do nothing and wait for it to go away. Another minimally inherent need is a chronic medical condition that doesn't ever go away on its own, but is 100% controllable by an outside agency, such as the majority of cases of diabetes: control the diet, get good exercise, monitor blood sugar and take insulin when needed, and the condition is controlled. In that case, is radical action, like an experimental pancreas transplant, warranted? Probably not; a regimen already in place controls the condition, and the disadvantages of major surgery and an organ transplant outweigh the non-inherent advantage. In each case, the question we're answering is, "Absent change, will this phenomenon persist long enough to cause unacceptable damage?" If it goes away on its own while the cumulative damage is still minimal, then no. If it's sufficiently controlled that it's not piling up discernible harm, then no.

Of course, as Delta_FC notes, you can't answer either question unless you isolate the cause of the problem. If all you know are the symptoms, then you don't know how long the problem can be expected to persist, nor how controllable it is. I had more to say about that here.

Hope they're in slightly better focus.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 4:07 am 
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Significance vs. inherency is just a distinction of terminology, but there are different categories of arguments:

  • The plan cannot happen because it has already happened.

  • The plan does not have as much benefit as aff claims because something similar to the plan is already happening.

  • The plan cannot change anything because the status quo is already doing everything the plan does, just under a different name.

  • The plan does not have as much benefit as aff claims because aff's advantage has already happened to some extent and cannot happen to its fullest extent again.

  • The plan cannot change anything because all it can do is trigger one or more discrete (i.e. finite) events that, in turn, trigger the advantage, but all those discrete events have already happened and cannot happen again.

  • The plan does not have as long-lasting of a benefit as aff claims because the status quo will claim aff's advantages after a certain point.

  • The plan does not have as important of a benefit as aff claims because the harm it solves is not as important as aff claims.

  • The plan does not have as important of a benefit as aff claims because it does not achieve the advantage to the extent that aff claims.

Notice that, in each argument, I write the impact and then the argument leading up to the impact. Whatever you call them, these are all different arguments that serve different functions in the debate. However, some of them have basically identical impacts.

Each of these arguments basically has one of two impacts: "cannot" or "not as much". Note the distinction between "cannot" (which I generally refer to as "inherency") and "not as much" (which I generally refer to as "significance"). "Cannot" arguments are terminally impacted, whereas "not as much" arguments only function within impact calculus. As long as you recognize this distinction and as long as you impact your arguments so that they actually give the judge a reason to prefer your option (status quo or counterplan) over aff's option (the plan), you're well-within the realm of substantive debate and the distinction between inherency and significance is not even a theory debate. It's just an unimportant distinction of terminology.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 5:14 am 
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DrSraderNCU, the way you explained them here really makes the distinctions clear and easy to understand! thanks very much. (and you too, Delta_FC. the point about root cause is a good one)

Halogen wrote:
Significance vs. inherency is just a distinction of terminology, but there are different categories of arguments:

  • The plan cannot happen because it has already happened.

  • The plan does not have as much benefit as aff claims because something similar to the plan is already happening.

  • The plan cannot change anything because the status quo is already doing everything the plan does, just under a different name.

  • The plan does not have as much benefit as aff claims because aff's advantage has already happened to some extent and cannot happen to its fullest extent again.

  • The plan cannot change anything because all it can do is trigger one or more discrete (i.e. finite) events that, in turn, trigger the advantage, but all those discrete events have already happened and cannot happen again.

  • The plan does not have as long-lasting of a benefit as aff claims because the status quo will claim aff's advantages after a certain point.

  • The plan does not have as important of a benefit as aff claims because the harm it solves is not as important as aff claims.

  • The plan does not have as important of a benefit as aff claims because it does not achieve the advantage to the extent that aff claims.

Notice that, in each argument, I write the impact and then the argument leading up to the impact. Whatever you call them, these are all different arguments that serve different functions in the debate. However, some of them have basically identical impacts.

okay i like the way you set that up, with the impacts first. i didn't really see it that way before, but i see now it's possible (and really makes a lot of sense) to impact even harms args like that. thanks, i will definitely keep this in mind! (i think i'm actually gonna print a copy for nats haha)

Halogen wrote:
the distinction between inherency and significance is not even a theory debate. It's just an unimportant distinction of terminology.

i agree that it's just a terminology issue and doesn't affect the ballot or anything, but to me it's not unimportant because it does affect the clarity of the round. it's easier to understand/analyze/group/refute arguments when they're labeled correctly.

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