Kyle Cheesewright


Kyle Cheesewright

This judging philosophy is an exercise in automatic writing. These were (arguably) the first 25 things that came to my mind about debate. They all contain some degree of truth.

  1. I have been involved in competitive debate and forensics consistently since August of 1996.

  2. My approach to debate is to try to evaluate debate rounds fairly, based on the narratives constructed in the debate. I currently track those narrative constructions through a traditional ?flow? based method, though I am interested in finding an alternative mechanism, nothing else has quite clicked for me.

  3. I don?t believe in absolutes. That?s as true for judging philosophies as it is for metanarratives.

  4. I believe that the story of the debate is undervalued by the debaters: both teams are trying to construct an explanation of why they offer me a better vision of the world, but they do this almost exclusively through extending sentence blurbs, and leave it to me to put together how those sentences interact. The more comprehensive and complete your story is, the more likely you are to win.

  5. ?Pieces of Paper? are just that. A debate round is not composed of some arbitrary number of pieces of paper. It is made from 45 minutes of words, and an arbitrary number of bodies.

  6. I usually prefer impacts with a larger propensity to impacts with a higher magnitude. I make a lot of decisions based on magnitude because few debaters really appreciate nuance.

  7. Being able to talk quickly is fun. Sacrificing strategy for speed makes me a sad panda.

  8. I value reciprocity as a standard.

  9. I have finally reached the point where I am comfortable declaring conditionality dead. Once an argument has been introduced into a debate round, it does not just disappear. It can do 3 things for you: generate positive impacts, generate negative impacts, or generate no impacts. Kicking a position means that you have maneuvered an argument to the point where you believe it generates no impacts. Both teams may not agree on this characterization.

  10. Things said in Points of Information are indeed part of debate.

  11. I miss metaphorical resolutions like an amputated limb. On cold days, I can still feel them tingle.

  12. I think that the pre/post fiat debate is an oversimplified way of trying to argue that we should prefer impact claims with a larger propensity/proximity.

  13. I have absolutely no clue as to what a ?test of competition? is. I don?t understand why I should evaluate an advocacy option that is not something I should vote for in a round. I will assume your permutation is advocacy unless you say something else. If you say something else, I need to know what you expect me to do with that thing.

  14. Bias is unavoidable. That does not mean that I am a machine that churns out the same product every time based on my bias.

  15. Examples = Evidence. And not the kind that isn?t allowed in Parli.

  16. If you are going for two arguments that contradict in the rebuttals, my head might explode. That would be sad for me, and you will be expected to clean it up. That would be sad for you.

  17. If you are running arguments that contradict in your constructive . . . I really don?t think that you have all your cylinders running. This may not affect the outcome of the round, but it will affect the outcome of my speaker points. This assumes you are not arguing that contradictions are good?if you are, you might want to spend some time thinking about what that really means (for both teams, and your judge).

  18. I will never be a policy maker. Academia is where I am comfortable. I like to think of myself as a human being.

  19. I do not believe that cross-applications are the same thing as new arguments.

  20. Debate as an objective flow game is a lie that debaters tell each other to feel more comfortable in the chaos. I am not very interested in this kind of pillow talk.

  21. I am a fairly critical person. This means that I like to think about stuff, and what that stuff means. That does not mean that I blindly dislike things.

  22. I try to be self-reflexive about the decisions that I make in a debate round. I will respect you more if you are willing to call me out when you think I have done something incorrectly. I will really R.E.S.P.E.C.T. you if you do so that in a way that is humble and self-reflexive as well.

  23. I don?t believe that resolutions mean any one thing. The cool thing about words is that they mean so much.

  24. I like emotion in and about debate. I prefer it when that emotion isn?t hatred.

  25. Points of Order are important to call. Not every new argument needs a point of order. If you find yourself calling a ridiculous number of them, that probably says something about the debate that has occurred. As a thinking human being, I know that as well.


Another old philosophy:

“Henceforth, my dear [debaters], let us be on guard against the dangerous old conceptual fiction that posited a “pure, will-less, painless, timeless knowing subject”; let us guard against the snares of such contradictory concepts as “pure reason,” “absolute spirituality,” “knowledge in itself”: these always demand that we should think of an eye that is completely unthinkable, an eye turned in no particular direction, in which the active and interpreting forces, through which alone seeing becomes seeing something, are supposed to be lacking”
-Genealogy of Morals, Fredrick Nietzsche

debate is a game . . . it?s a wonderful, ever evolving, constantly changing flow . . . directed byparticipants in the debate round. under this conception, i will attempt to remove myself from the debate round as much as possible (while bearing in mind that this process is completely impossible, and gets more difficult in many debates). in order to allow me to make this attempt, i have a few requests that i will make of you:

first, please offer clear tagline for your arguments. this will allow me to transcribe as accurately as possible the argumentative claim that you are providing.

second, please compare warrants. many times debaters get so wrapped up in their drive to win that they extend a bunch of argumentative claims, and never interact with the argumentative justification for these claims . . . this makes it exceedingly difficult to determine who?s claim is better.

third, please do not speak so quickly that it impedes your strategic decision making abilities. i can probably understand you at whatever speed you choose to engage the other team, but in many cases the use of speed becomes a crutch that results in the extension of many arguments, without a subsequent extension of their justification, or an explanation of how those arguments interact.

fourth, for the love of all that?s light . . . COLLAPSE YOUR STRATEGY. you may very well have the potential to win every argument in a debate round. but the desire to win every argument makes the round a) exceedingly messy for me to evaluate as i have to discover the interactions of a multitude of arguments without any guide from the debates, and b) think that you will be more likely to loose some of those arguments because your choice to go for everything, which can end up hurting you. plus, i?m just not smart enough to evaluate the 30 arguments you are extending in terms of the 30 arguments the other team is extending based on nothing more than what i have written on a ?flow.?

fifth, please do not assume that i know things about the world. there are many things that i know, but relying on ?fact? to be the basis of your argument as opposed to ?justification? means that your relying on your assumption of my knowledge base to be able to determine factual claims for you. justify why your facts have more fidelity or coherence.

finally, a hodge podge of things- i will not assume that just because your practice is common, that it is better. if someone runs a speed k, absent arguments made to counter this assumption, i will expect debaters to contextually slow their speeches when responding to a question of speed as a legitimate form. i also assume that everything you do is 1) always already performative, and 2) always already discursive. it is up to you to explain why your practice of being performative or discursive is does or does not matter in the debate round. and, the rules are so full that they are empty. clarification with face to face talk or kylecheesewright [at] gmail [dot] com


This is from the GGI 2006. Which makes it the oldest philosophy I’ve found thus far.

Kyle Cheeswright-HIRED (CSULB, CSU alum)
11 years of debate experience
6 years of Parliamentary Debate
AND- I wrote my philosophy first, but wanted to add, for clarities sake, that everything said in my judging philosophy is subject to modification based on specific argumentation made in the
debate round. Debate is a game that is primarily played by the competitors in an individual debate round. Because I prefer to see good debate, I think that the debaters in a round should select strategy based on what they feel the most comfortable arguing. For some, this is politics and counterplans; others prefer a hefty case debate, while others will choose to roll with their critical strategies.Debate is one of the most fantastic games that you can play, because you get to pick the field of play.
For me, resolutions of fact or value are not really the best way to debate. I would prefer that teams have clear advocacy statements that form the nexus of a debate round. Teams should have
a clear vision of what framework their advocacy operates under, and be able to explain that in round, and apply it to opposing arguments.
At the end of a debate round, if I am provided no other explicit way to weigh the round, I use my flow to evaluate which side of the debate provides for a better world. This means that I
emphasize impacted arguments. I would prefer that the teams in a debate round do the weighing of their impacts for me, and I will always default to explicit weighing that is done in a debate
Finally, I hail the flow as a golden god. I will try to make my decisions with maximum deference to my written record of the round. I attempt to keep my personal location and politics
outside of the round as much as possible, and while I recognize why many have skepticism about how realistic that goal is, I will continue to attempt to reach it. For this reason, I will usually take the easiest way out a round. That doesn?t mean that all dropped arguments = lose, so impact your
arguments clearly and explain why I should vote on them.
I guess I should also let you know that personally, I tend to come from a critical framework.
My academic interests seem to coalesce along the lines of critical theory and exploration of discursive cartographies. I don?t need or want people to pander to my personal politics; I do more
than enough of that everyday. I need and want people to play debate in the way that makes for the best and most entertaining debate round, and I look forward to seeing debaters playing their
favorite games in their favorite ways. Good times, noodle salad.


This s the most recent philosophy I’ve been rocking. It’s for aproximately 2011-2015. I will probably be writing something new this year.

A Body’s Judging Philosophy:

Debate has been my home since 1996—
and when I started, I caressed Ayn Rand
and spoke of the virtue of selfishness.

I am much older than I was.
These days, I am trying to figure out
how subjectivity gets created
from the raw material of words
and research.

I have no interest in how well
you can recite the scripts you’ve memorized.
Or at what speed.

I will not be held responsible
for adjudicating your bank balance.
And I will not provide interest on your jargon.
I will listen to your stories
and I will decide which story is better,
using the only currency I am comfortable with:
the language of land,
and the words that sprout from my body
like hair.

I remember the visceral intensity
of the win and loss,
and the way that worth was constructed from finishing points.
I am far too familiar with the bitter sting
of other names circled.

I think that the systemic is far more important
than the magnitude.
Politics make me sick.
And I know that most of the fun with words,
has nothing to do with limits,
because it’s all ambiguous.
And nothing fair.

These days,
I read Deleuze and Guattari,
and wonder what it means when classrooms are madhouses.
And all that remains is the


This is the best thread on Net-Benefits, and it’s not close.

Judge Philosophy Directory

“All that you touch
You Change.
All that you Change
Changes you.
The only lasting truth
Is Change.
God Is Change.”
–Octavia Butler, “Parable of the Sower.”

Debate is a game. Debate is a strange, beautiful game that we play. Debate is a strange beautiful game that we play with each other.

I love debate. It’s the only game that exists where the rules are up for contestation by each side. There are some rules that aren’t up for discussion, as far as I can tell, these are them:

1/ Each debate will have a team that wins, and a team that looses. Say whatever you want, I am structurally constrained at the end of debate to award one team a win, and the other team will receive a loss. That’s what I got.

2/ Time limits. I think that a discussion should have equal time allotment for each side, and those times should probably alternate. I have yet to see a fair way for this question to be resolved in a debate, other than through arbitrary enforcement. The only exception is that if both teams decide on something else, you have about 45 minutes from the start of the round, to when I have to render a decision.

Pretty much everything else is open to contestation. At this point, I don’t really have any serious, uncontestable beliefs about debate. This means that the discussion is open to you. I do tend to find that I find debates to be more engaging when they are about substantive clash over a narrow set of established issues. This means, I tend to prefer debates that are specific and deep. Good examples, and comparative discussion of those examples is the easiest way to win my ballot. Generally speaking, I look for comparative impact work. I find that I tend to align more quickly with highly probable and proximate impacts, though magnitude is just so easy.

I tend to prefer LOC strategies that are deep, well explained explorations of a coherent world. The strategy of firing off a bunch of underdeveloped arguments, and trying to develop the strategy that is mishandled by the MG is often successful in front of me, but I almost always think that the round would have been better with a more coherent LOC strategy—for both sides of the debate.

At the end of the debate, when it is time for me to resolve the discussion, I start by identifying what I believe the weighing mechanism should be, based on the arguments made in the debate. Once I have determined the weighing mechanism, I start to wade through the arguments that prove the world will be better or worse, based on the decision mechanism. I always attempt to default to explicit arguments that debaters make about these issues.

Examples are the evidence of Parliamentary debate. Control the examples, and you will control the debate.

On specific issues: I don’t particularly care what you discuss, or how you discuss it. I prefer that you discuss it in a way that gives me access to the discussion. I try not to backfill lots of arguments based on buzzwords. For example, if you say “Topicality is a matter of competing interpretations,” I think I know what that means. But I am not going to default to evaluating every argument on Topicality through an offense/defense paradigm unless you explain to me that I should, and probably try to explicate what kinds of answers would be offensive, and what kinds of answers would be defensive. Similarly, if you say “Topicality should be evaluated through the lens of reasonability,” I think I know what that means. But if you want me to stop evaluating Topicality if you are winning that there is a legitimate counter-interpretation that is supported by a standard, then you should probably say that.

I try to flow debates as specifically as possible. I feel like I have a pretty good written record of most debates.

Rebuttals are times to focus a debate, and go comprehensively for a limited set of arguments. You should have a clear argument for why you are winning the debate as a whole, based on a series of specific extensions from the Member speech. The more time you dedicate to an issue in a debate, the more time I will dedicate to that issue when I am resolving the debate. Unless it just doesn’t matter. Watch out for arguments that don’t matter, they’re tricksy and almost everyone spends too much time on them.

Before I make my decision, I try to force myself to explain what the strongest argument for each side would be if they were winning the debate. I then ask myself how the other team is dealing with those arguments. I try to make sure that each team gets equal time in my final evaluation of a debate.

This is a radical departure from my traditional judging philosophy. I’ll see how it works out for me. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. For the record, I have strong opinions on just about everything that occurs in a debate round—but those strong opinions are for down time and odd rants during practice rounds. I work to keep them out of the debate, and at this point, I think I can say that I do a pretty good job on that account.

I just thought of a third rule. Speaker points are mine. I use them to indicate how good I thought speeches are. If you tell me what speaker points I should give you, I will listen, and promptly discard what you say. Probably.

For the sake of transparency: My personal gig is critical-cultural theory. It’s where my heart is. This does not mean that you should use critical theory that you don’t understand or feel comfortable with it. Make the choices in debate that are the best, most strategic, or most ethical for you. If your interested in my personal opinons about your choices, I’m more than happy to share. But I’ll do that after the debate is over, the ballot submitted, and we’re just two humans chatting. The debate will be decided based on the arguments made in the debate.

“[Y]ou can’t escape language: language is everything and everywhere; it’s what lets us have anything to do with one another; it’s what separates us from animals; Genesis 11:7-10 and so on.”
-David Foster Wallace, “Authority and American Usage.”