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PostPosted: Sun Feb 05, 2012 11:39 pm 
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So at my last tournament, I was Aff one round. Our goal is upholding the constitution. Neg countered with net benefits. I argued that the Neg's goal espoused a belief in consequentialism and therefore they were saying that the ends justifies the means. The judges didn't say anything about it on the ballot, but I'm curious what other people think about that efficacy and/or legitimacy of that line of attack.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 12:13 am 
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It's legitimate if you can win it, but I doubt you can do so consistently.

As far as efficacy, if they win a decent impact, all they have to do is explain that upholding the Constitution at the price of societal collapse belongs in the dictionary right next to "pyrrhic victory." Or, as one of my debaters used to say, "in a nuclear war, the Constitution itself would go up in flames."


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 4:19 am 
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Justin Stacy wrote:
but I'm curious what other people think about that efficacy and/or legitimacy of that line of attack.
It's definitely legitimate, because that is pretty much the definition of Net Benefits.
I'm not sure about the efficacy, but that wouldn't stop me from running this attack if I felt like it or if the Negative really pressed their criterion.

DrSraderNCU wrote:
As far as efficacy, if they win a decent impact
If they are winning a decent impact, they should stop talking about Criterions and focus on the impact.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 9:07 am 
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I'm at the same stage. In parli, there are many arguments that I would like to run but can't utilize successfully as net benefits impacts (because I do advocate some actions that would be harmful) or as kritiks (because the community is unfamiliar with my arguments and therefore unwilling to consider them valid kritiks - how ironic). Furthermore, there are impacts that I don't think should be considered even though they are considered under net benefits (e.g. The risk of starting a war should not be considered a reason to avoid stalling the economy, but it is a valid reason to combat weapon proliferation).

The resolution typically says that an actor should take a certain action, not that it would be net beneficial for the actor to take that action. There are many principles at work in determining which choices are preferable over others and consequentialism is an extremely small part of the guiding principles.

Saying that consequentialism allows the end to justifiy the means is difficult to impact. Why is the means bad? Because it is not net-beneficial?

I would instead make a criticism of net benefits based on the thesis that different actors have different roles, meaning that they are supposed to concern themselves solely with achieving their roles instead of trying to accomplish the big picture goal all on their own. If you do your part, it's not your fault if the world comes to an end because others didn't take care of their own responsibilities.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 1:48 pm 
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Like with Ayn Rand, I share your conclusion for 100% opposite reasons.

A wise decisionmaker (hopefully you at least increase your abilities there in debate a little bit) looks at the whole picture and sees responsibilities, interlinkages, and long-term interactions when making decisions with limited authority. That's why limited authorities work with other limited authorities to coordinate together.

Net benefits are definitely a poor choice as aff, and sometimes as opp, though the entire debate can sometimes just fit into NB (yeah, of course the judge should vote for the "best" policy, but what's beneficial? Oh right, my unargued criterion). But at the end of the day, one has to make decisions based on some things being more important than other things.

Two symptoms of the usual debater's philosophy, in my opinion, are:

1. Over-expertization of everything. We see this in Halogen's post. "I'm responsible for this, b/c it's what I know and do". Results in a bunch of uncoordinated efforts and bad decisions. It's why Michael Lyden found that undergraduate liberal arts students can make more nuanced and at least as equally accurate predictions as National Intelligence Estimates by top experts in economics, culture, and history. http://scip.cms-plus.com/files/Resource ... alysis.pdf

2. Lack of clarity. People used to 15 arguments that can't distinguish between which ones are true and make sense and those that bizarrely equivocate to absurd conclusions (the amount of elections debaters SAID would result in nuclear war that DIDN'T is pretty staggering) struggle in the real world to lead, decide, and act.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 6:35 pm 
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DrSraderNCU wrote:
It's legitimate if you can win it, but I doubt you can do so consistently.

As far as efficacy, if they win a decent impact, all they have to do is explain that upholding the Constitution at the price of societal collapse belongs in the dictionary right next to "pyrrhic victory." Or, as one of my debaters used to say, "in a nuclear war, the Constitution itself would go up in flames."


An absolutist would say that destroying the Constitution ourselves is worse than having someone else do it. Death is not the worst of all evils. Is life worth losing the Constitution and the rights it provides?

I know that sounds pretty extreme, but hey, that's the absolutist position. Kant even said that any lying is a moral evil -- even lying from "altruistic" motives.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 7:08 pm 
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Net benefits =/= consequentialism.

Consequentialism says that it doesn't matter what the means are as long as they achieve the ends.

Net benefits says that the cost of the means sometimes outweighs the benefit of the ends.

Example: violating the Constitution vs. (potentially) less crime if we utilize torture to deter.

Consequentialism says that as long as we have less crime, violating the Constitution is an acceptable means.

Net benefits says that the cost of violating the Constitution outweighs the decrease in crime. In other words, legalizing torture isn't net beneficial.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 7:16 pm 
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Net benefits is entirely subjective based off of the evaluating paradigm you have. Like Isaiah said, you have to have some measure for weighing costs and outcomes.

That's what criteria provide.

Regardless of whether or not you have a specific goal/criteria, you WILL debate with something in mind. Those weighing mechanisms allow us to evaluate the net benefits of saving money, but losing lives.

And that's why when voting for the BEST policy, you're not truly voting for the policy that is objectively best, you are voting for the policy that is subjectively best within the evaluation mechanism you've adopted.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 7:31 pm 
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Yes, net benefits needs some weighing mechanism, but narrowing it down to a specific criteria artificially inflates that impact to being the most important for no real reason other than the fact that you think its the impact you're most likely to win. General weighing mechanisms (such as the standard magnitude, probability, timeframe, and reversibility) accomplish the same goal of minimizing subjectivity without artificially picking one impact type. Plus arguing the relative importance of magnitude and probability in a specific impact scenario results in clearer impact stories than simply trying to narrow the round down to a certain issue. Really, its much better to avoid subjective net benefits analysis by telling the judge why your specific impacts outweigh after the round has developed and you know what you're winning instead of picking a specific impact in your first speech and being forced to defend that its the most important for the remainder of the round.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 8:06 pm 
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It's even better than better to have such clarity that you know before the round what the key issues will be, tell the judge all the way through, and sure enough they are the voters in the end.

The best communication has that tendency.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 8:55 pm 
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Then why run multiple disadvantages? If you already know which one the other team is going have bad responses to, don't run anything else. Locking yourself into an impact scenario before you even know what the other team's responses are only exposes yourself to losing when they have better responses than you were expecting. You should absolutely know what the aff in a round is going to want to go for (either you or the other team) you need to give yourself multiple options in getting there (or keeping the other team from getting there).

Parli has taken this to the extreme as its currently popular to run condo CPs and Ks that blatantly contradict than collapse to one in the block (which I think is a bad idea for other reasons) but the idea of giving yourself multiple ways to win the round is definitely a good one. Even if you think a case is blatantly non-topical, in the majority of cases you're going to run some other arguments just in case aff has a good T defense. A similar principle should apply to deciding between impact scenarios

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 9:03 pm 
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The question is: why run 2 well developed advantages with a clear theme instead of 10 small ones?

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 9:19 pm 
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1. Its strategically a bad idea to run that many advantages because it takes more time to set up advantages than to put solid defense on them, so you'll end up with only 1 or 2 of those advantages, and they won't be as well impacted as the DAs from the neg
2. I agree that you do need some sort of story. Its just a bad idea to block yourself out of potential impact scenarios just because at the start of the round/while writing your case you think its less important. If neg has lots of defense on your advantages with some potential small turns, you want to be able to go for your impact turn on the disadvantage. Running a specific criterion doesn't really give you this option. Having focused advantages that move you toward a clear impact =/= actually running the criterion that forces you to ONLY go for that impact

Plus, when you run a criterion you essentially have to defend that your criterion outweighs any other impacts that could be in the round, while impact weighing at the end means you only have to outweigh the ones that actually exist in the round.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 10:27 pm 
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And if you're REALLY good and know your case backwards and forwards, you'll do it just fine.

Which is what you need to be aiming for because that kind of clarity is hard to come by in the real world and will move you places.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 2:11 am 
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kingwill wrote:
Net benefits =/= consequentialism.

Consequentialism says that it doesn't matter what the means are as long as they achieve the ends.

Net benefits says that the cost of the means sometimes outweighs the benefit of the ends.

Example: violating the Constitution vs. (potentially) less crime if we utilize torture to deter.

Consequentialism says that as long as we have less crime, violating the Constitution is an acceptable means.

Net benefits says that the cost of violating the Constitution outweighs the decrease in crime. In other words, legalizing torture isn't net beneficial.


Why does the cost of violating the Constitution outweigh the decrease in crime? Because violating the Constitution leads to bad CONSEQUENCES.

Consequentialism includes future consequences. It doesn't just include status quo ones. Absolutism says you can't even weigh consequences -- which is what net benefits must do by default.

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