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,