Framework Debates

I’ve seen this mentioned a few other places on the board lately and I’ve been thinking about it, so I decided it is probably time to start a thread about it.

What is a framework (FW) debate? Contrary to opinion, framework debates are not inherently new to parli. In fact, they have been there from the start. What do y’all really think the Criteria is? All a FW/Crit does is provide a lens through which the arguments in a round or on an issue should be weighed. Should we use Comp Ad or Preponderance of Evidence? Should we use Life or Liberty? Should we use pre-fiat or post-fiat? FW debates are the way to justify those choices. So really, we engage in FW debates all the time.

Unfortunately, whenever this debate happens outside of a criteria discussion, debaters and critics have a hard time dealing with the FW debate. I have two main examples.

The first is the NPTE final round. The prologue to the CSU affirmative IS by definition a FW debate. SC concedes almost the entirety of the prologue in the debate. However, CSU fails to capitalize on this and use it to your advantage. I know that in NDT rounds I have judged, if someone concedes a framework debate the round is at least half over. That means, that you only get to win in their paradigm, basically by proving they are 100% wrong. All of Ian and Marie’s offense in the NPTE final existed outside, not inside of the CSU framework. However, debaters, competitors and judges alike failed to make this connection.

The second example is the NPDA final round. I was a judge on this panel and I feel like that gives me a unique perspective on how this argument was misunderstood. The Burdens argument was the framework for the round. The foundation and fundamentals in this argument were functionally conceded by Lewis and Clark. The FW for this round, established by Whitman was, the Gov has to prove that Harvard (the institution) must be shamed, and the Opp has to prove that Harvard (the institution) should NOT be shamed. That means that any argument NOT dealing with Harvard (as an institution) cannot be accessed by the Government. Once the gov functionally concedes that this interpretation comes from their case, they are stuck with this burden. Opp wins that plan text cannot be accessed because it is shaming Summers and not Harvard the institution. However after the round, talking with some of the other critics it was immediately clear to me that NO ONE understood how the burdens argument operated in the round. Instead they voted on “the free speech impact wasn’t clearly enough articulated.” That’s another thread entirely, but the general feeling I got was that “if it was run as T, I would have pulled the trigger on it.”

Framework debates MUST be offense for whoever wins it. It should be used to eliminate entire arguments from one team’s strategy. Here’s a very bad example, but one none the less: A young debater whom I find very cool, but constantly rag on has made this argument on a few occasions. He will define Cost-Benefit Analysis as a comparision between the Status Quo and Plan in the PMC. THEN, when people concede the FW debate, he will use this FW to say that OPP can’t run Counterplans because they are not competitive in the CBA FW, which they have conceded. I know, I know, it’s a silly argument, but it’s how FW debates should be used.

So yes, the term FW is something we are stealing from policy. However, it is something Parli has had all along. What we should STEAL from policy is how to execute a FW debate!

Let the discussion begin,

John Boyer

Framework debates MUST be offense for whoever wins it. It should be used to eliminate entire arguments from one team’s strategy.

I have a lot to say on this issue, but its 1 AM so I’ll save most of it for at work tomorrow. My one comment is that the quoted section is freaking true and almost nobody abuses it to its potential. Frameworks. Win. Rounds. If you win “Discourse trumps policy considerations”, the line-by-line on the disad doesn’t matter! It is entirely possible that nothing out of their entire speech is responsive under your framework and nothing indicts your framework – this means you win, automatically, and don’t be shy about saying it (example: Yucca Mountain with a radioactive colonialism moral imperitive is essentially a case with a non-policy framework. No policy argument is responsive in that framework, none, if you are trying to spin one you are wasting your time. )

I think debaters would be less freaked out by frameworks if they started treating them as a superclass of criteria arguments and the pre-fiat vs. post-fiat distinction. You’ve had those debates before, you know how to deal with them. Frameworks work exactly the same way. Just make sure the other team is oppressing you more than you’re oppressing them, and you’re golden.*

Patrick McKenzie

  • This is partly in jest. Partly.

OK, for the poker inclined: Every time a good team is making a framework argument they are sifting through the deck and choosing cards to make a good hand for themselves. When I structure the round to say “We’re going to decide this on a NB criteria with a liberal American judge debating and by the way plan is koseki and no argument which is not about Japan matters”, I’m dealing myself a straight flush. Your response should not be to shuffle and hope for a royal flush. Your response should be “We’re playing go-fish”.

Patrick McKenzie

“He will define Cost-Benefit Analysis as a comparision between the Status Quo and Plan in the PMC. THEN, when people concede the FW debate, he will use this FW to say that OPP can’t run Counterplans because they are not competitive in the CBA FW, which they have conceded. I know, I know, it’s a silly argument, but it’s how FW debates should be used.”

Which is why people don’t like “frameworks”

Joey, it’s not like it is a difficult argument to answer. Especially if GOOD FW debates become more commonplace then this argument would receive much ridicule. Also people would stop conceding it because they would be used to making sure they win the FW debate.

Also if people don’t like FWs so much, then why does the community INSIST on a criteria for every round? Why is everyone starting to run burdens arguments?

What is the alternative to a FW debate? A rule that mandates Policy FW every round? I can’t imagine that world would be any fun. It almost sounds like NFA-LD!

-Boyer

My favorite ‘framework’ based decision…or I should say, one of the worst rounds i’d ever seen occurred many years ago.

Resolution: This House Believes in reincarnation.

PMC: “We’d like to define this house as ourselves, the government team. Our position will be to defend that we believe reincarnation is really cool.”

–no POI requested throughout entire speech–

LOC: “John and I would like to thank the Prime minister for such a fair and clearly understandable interpretation of the resolution. We’ll skip proceedurals and get right into the debate.”

Me: :jawdrop :confused :shake :mad :angry :brickwall

I think that framework doesn’t only have to be a tool for excluding some arguments strategically, and usually when people have tried to do that its backfired-

them- Our criteria is wefare of the american people.

us- so if your plan kills a shitload of foreigners what happens?

Them- thats not in our framework, so we dont pay attention to that.

Us- thats the problem.

Pretty simplified but it

  1. happens a lot (maybe just in orange county, haha… god i hate it here).

And 2. shows the flaw in frameworks that are less than all inclusive. so i think the challenge is in finding a framework that can exclude some arguments without biting the impacts of that exclusion. (I.e. Roland Blieker writes a lot about how established discourses dont allow for ideas that are not within their realm of acceptable truth to even be analyses- he uses feminism a lot as an example, since the basic attitutide of much of the IR community is “thats really interesting, but it doesn’t have anything to do with what we’re tlaking about here, so…”)

BUT i agree with john that people should use framework args strategically- i think people do this a lot already in statism debates. Policy making frameworks unfairly advantage statist advocacies, so weighing the impacts of case against the Signing of the ballot you probably aren’t going to win.

Overall, i’ve had more success with attacking framework arguments that exclude sections of the population and/or theoretics than i have with trying to hose peoples ground with my own criteria.

Originally posted by PancreasMatt
[B]I think that framework doesn’t only have to be a tool for excluding some arguments strategically, and usually when people have tried to do that its backfired-

them- Our criteria is wefare of the american people.

us- so if your plan kills a shitload of foreigners what happens?

Them- thats not in our framework, so we dont pay attention to that.

Us- thats the problem.[/b]

I think theres a plethora of arguments that can be made to why exclusion is fine. In a sense its the same as what youre doing in a rebuttal…X is most important so ignore Y.

hahahaha!

so in this case “americans are more important than x other ethnic group, so ignore them”?

Good luck, dude.

(and if you want to say “well, not in that instance” thats fine, but it proves the point that you need some pretty damn significant reason to outweigh the exclusion impacts- and if the impact is worth taking the time to spike out with your criteria, you have an uphill debate convinging the judge it doesn’t matter. in fact, its probably more work than just biting the disad and debating it, instead of the negative time tradeoff/risk that comes with an all or nothing position)

I have absolutely no problem making the argument that when it comes down to it Americans are more important than foreign lives, when the agent is USFG. Its simple…the government of America needs to represent intrests the American people. Helping others is cool but at the end of the day theres only one country we’re representing here and thats the US. And unless you’re Peter Singer then you must agree with this in some instance.

I’m not saying there arent responses or ways to work within that framework, (kritiks,backlash DA’s,etc) but I think thats just one example of legit defense of that framework.

John,

You’re right…my point wasn’t “frameworks bad” (Ben and I would run entire 2 minute framework contentions), but “don’t be dumb, people”. Which I guess in retrospect is somewhat vapid.

Matt – Replace “Americans” with “American Indians” in that framework and you’ll have, well, Yucca. Its not frameworks that are the problem, its that those debaters are running a framework which is both a tough sell in the community AND then they’re not bothering to sell it well. And yes, “radioactive colonization of Indians is the only thing that matters” is a) popular and b) strategically effective on the Yucca topic as a framework/criteria/what-have-you.

I have absolutely no problem making the argument that when it comes down to it Americans are more important than foreign lives, when the agent is USFG. Its simple…the government of America needs to represent intrests the American people. Helping others is cool but at the end of the day theres only one country we’re representing here and thats the US. And unless you’re Peter Singer then you must agree with this in some instance.

See, now thats bad framework analysis. Your justification for your framework is a) restate framework and b) say, without any trace of analysis, that any rational person who doesn’t kill babies should agree with your framework. Don’t do bad framework analysis! Do good framework analysis! “We should only consider impacts which we have expert insight on and for which we know the cultural landscape – US policymakers should not weigh economic harm for Mexico in their decisionmaking because we’re not justifably confident in our ability to predict harm to the Mexican economy and we shouldn’t presume that they share our white capitalist values system and even define a decrease in their balance books a harm. Now, looking to opp’s positions, you will see how they never examine the assumption that economic impacts are bad from the perspective of Mexico, and their analysis on getting to them is very hand-wavy, which demonstrates why our framework is superior and you should reject arguments outside of it even if you are attracted to them on some level.” Those are just example warrants, feel free to write your own, but you do need them when you assert the superiority of one framework over another.

Patrick McKenzie

See, now thats bad framework analysis. Your justification for your framework is a) restate framework and b) say, without any trace of analysis, that any rational person who doesn’t kill babies should agree with your framework.

claim: The USFG should look out for the intrest of the American people first

Warrant: …because the American people elect them to represent their intrests not Mexico’s.

Its not that complicated Patrick, you can figure it out. :wink: I’m not saying that its the ideal way to set up a framework but my point is that I have no problem saying American intrests are more important that foreign intrests, minus extraordinary circumstances. When the US spends a million dollars on golf lessions when they instead could have sent the money to the poor and needy around the world on some level they are saying that golf lessons are more important.

"We should only consider impacts which we have expert insight on and for which we know the cultural landscape – US policymakers should not weigh economic harm for Mexico in their decisionmaking because we’re not justifably confident in our ability to predict harm to the Mexican economy and we shouldn’t presume that they share our white capitalist values system and even define a decrease in their balance books a harm.

So youre telling me that the American government doesn’t know anything about Mexico’s culture or economy? what about Macroeconomics or interconnected international markets?

1 Like

I don’t think his argument is that US policymaker’s cannot understand economics, but that they cannot predict what policy goals/outcomes Mexico desires… and any attempt to, would probably just be super-imposing our ideas of what is “right” to their market. So, the only thing that would matter to the US would be our economic situatoin.

world - You’re making a statement of “is” which, while interesting, is irrelevant to the argument. Patrick is making an argument of “ought”, which establishes a framework.

Warrant: …because the American people elect them to represent their intrests not Mexico’s.

You keep changing the order of words in that sentence and pretending its a warrant, but its still not. Its a definition of your position (“What is the American government? A government, for Americans”). There are arguments to say that we should be American-first, but they require explanation, not just assertion that that is the natural order of things. That like answering “Why should we value the right to life?” with “Because life is a right.” There needs to be a “Why” somewhere. Like, “Governments represent the interests of their citizens and theirs alone because they draw their power only from consent of the governed, who alone determine what the government should do. Allowing the perspectives of Mexicans to alter US government policy implies that the Mexicans are subject to the US government, which is false and wouldn’t be desirable even if it were true, because <colonialism bad>. If we allow governments to draw authority from some source other than the will of their citizens, then <statism bad>. Thus, <statism> + <colonialism> = <ignore Mexicans>”.

So youre telling me that the American government doesn’t know anything about Mexico’s culture or economy? what about Macroeconomics or interconnected international markets?

I don’t agree with the possible argument I was giving, obviously. I will point out, though, that this objection is nonresponsive to my framework challenge – after I say white capitalism is a mindset which you’re inextricably mired in saying “But I’ve got economic theories which accurately describe how to maximize the efficiency of capital no matter where we apply them!” just continues to bite the link. Its not a failing, I hasten to add – you simply can’t be expected to see past the blinders of your own experience, much like the US can’t be expected to be able to understand a foreign culture on the deep level needed to evaluate what is best for them. Which is why we shouldn’t pretend to.*

Patrick McKenzie

  • Yes, BLECH, this is both stupid and morally obtuse. But its stupid and morally obtuse in a way likely to maximize its success as a debate argument under the constraint “Argue that the US should ignore effects to the rest of the wordl”.

It seems like the FW debate has gotten out of hand. I never intended in my original post for this to become a discussion of multiple frameworks within one broader ‘policy framework’ context.

In my view the purpose of the FW debate is to allow for different kinds of arguments to compete in the round. It is difficult because I don’t want my definition to limit FW debates to a policy/value or prefiat/postfiat dichotomy. I think there is room for a FW debate within the policy framework.

However, the arguments that y’all are engaging in is more a question of impact calculus and not one of FW. I just wanted to clarify that.

We talk about impacts in EVERY parli round and we have to do a good job of comparing impacts and WEIGHING impacts. It seems like that kind of argumentation would solve many of the disputes argued above.

There is a thin line between the FW debate and the Impact Calculus debate. Knowing the difference between the two and being able to win both arguments is one of the keys to success. If you are going to go for a FW argument, you still have to win that within that FW your impacts outweigh your opponents.

I hope this makes sense as I’m not feeling very well and I’m on a little too much cold medicine.

Frameworks are how you make sense of impacts. The framework can be no fait, above board or it can be fiat game world. But (assuming you buy that distinction) within that there are multiple frameworks. An impact isn’t terminal unless you win your framework.

“Some impacts are terminal, others are not, you should care only about terminal ones” is, itself, a framework. :slight_smile:

For that matter, "The debate should be decided by comparison of impacts which each team wins" is a framework. It just happens to be a framework most of the community defaults to. The smart debater who can not breakdance would be well advised to come up with reasons* why this is a good idea. (* “Reasons matter” – another framework, even more default than “impacts matter”. We could just as easily determine who wins by voting for the non-white team when possible and flipping a coin otherwise.)

And, yes, the discussion of frameworks is infinitely regressive.

Patrick McKenzie

However, the arguments that y’all are engaging in is more a question of impact calculus and not one of FW. I just wanted to clarify that.

Thats an overlimiting conception of frameworks and one which obscures the pedagogic lesson debaters need to know: frameworks determine the how to evaluate the rest of the debate round, frameworks need to be justified, and frameworks can be really strategically useful. “Debate about government policy + NB” is a framework. So is “Debate about government policy + Rawlsian justice” and “Lets rap, yo. Fo’ sheezy.”

Patrick McKenzie