Zach Moss


Judging Paradigm – Zach Moss
Questions left unanswered by this document should be addressed to
Current: Southern Illinois University (parli coach)
Former: University of Wyoming (policy coach, 2 years approx. 50 rounds judged/year)
Former: Northern Arizona University (parli coach, 1 semester)
Former: Concordia University Irvine (parli coach, 1 semester)
Former: Concordia University Irvine (parli competitor, 2 years)
General issues
Be respectful to one another and your audience members.
State all texts and interpretations twice, at normal speed. No, I did not write down the resolution during prep time. No, I will not accept a text after the round. Please just take the extra three seconds to read it a second time.
The shortest version of this paradigm can be summed up as “Make an argument, impact it, explain why it wins you the debate round” which I feel neatly encapsulates all the minutiae of how to win my ballot. I’ve been doing debate long enough that I have very few preferences in regards to which arguments you make, I am far more interested in the quality of those arguments, and typically vote for the teams who advance the highest quality arguments. I do have some specific predilections about arguments, so if you want more details, buckle in.
Specific Inquiries
Speaker points (what is your typical speaker point range or average speaker points given)?
My baseline will be set once I beg nationals tab from last year for the mean speaker points given, if you show up and make arguments you’ll get at least that many points. I save scores below that for debaters who are irresponsible with their rhetorical choices or treat their opponents poorly. Debaters can improve their speaker points through humor, strategic decision-making, rhetorical flourish, SSSGs, smart overviewing and impact calculus.

How do you approach critically framed arguments? Can affirmatives run critical arguments? Can critical arguments be “contradictory” with other negative positions?
I approach critically framed arguments in the same way I approach other arguments, is there a link, what is the impact, and how do the teams resolve the impact? Functionally all framework does is provide impact calculus ahead of time, so, as a result, your framework should have a role of the ballot/judge. Beyond that, my preference is for kritiks which interrogate the material conditions which surround the debaters/debate round/topic/etc. as opposed to kritiks which attempt to view the round from a purely theoretical stance. I have found that materialist kritik links are usually of stronger substance, the alternative solvency is easier to explain and the impact framing applies at the in-round level. Ultimately though you should do what you know; I would like to believe I am pretty well read in the literature which debaters have been reading for kritiks, as a result I’m less willing to do the work for debaters who blip over the important concepts they’re describing in round. There are probably words you’ll use in a way only the philosopher you’re drawing from uses them, so it’s a good idea to explain those concepts and how they interact with arguments at some point.
Affirmative kritiks should still be resolutional, though the process by which they do that is up for debate. T & framework often intersect as a result, so both teams should be precise in any delineations or differences between those.
Contradictory arguments: Do not do this. Please see the conditionality section of this paradigm for further explanation.

Performance based arguments
Teams that want to have performance debates: Go for it. Make some arguments about how I should evaluate your performance, why your performance is different from the other team’s performance and how that performance resolves the impacts you identify.
Teams that don’t want to have performance debates: Go for it? I think you have a lot of options for how to answer performative arguments and while plenty of those are theoretical and frameworky arguments it behooves you to at least address the substance of their argument at some point either through a discussion of the other team’s performance or an explanation of your own performance.

To vote on topicality I need an interpretation, a violation, a reason to prefer (standard/s) and a voting issue (impact). In round abuse can be leveraged as a reason why your standards are preferable to your opponents, but it is not a requirement. I don’t think that time skew is a reverse voting issue but I’m open to hearing reasons why topicality is bad for debate or replicates things which link to the kritik you read on the aff/in the MG. At the same time, I think that specific justifications for why topicality is necessary for the negative can be quite responsive on these question, these debates are usually resolved with impact calculus of the standards.
FX-T & X-T: For me these are most strategically leveraged as standards for a T interp on a specific word but there are situations where these arguments would have to be read on their own. In those situations it’s very important to have a tight interpretation which doesn’t give the aff a lot of lateral movement within your interpretation. These theory arguments are still a search for the best definition/interpretation so make sure you have all the pieces to justify that at the end of the debate.

Functional competition is necessary, textual competition is debatable, but I don’t really think text comp is relevant unless the negative attempts to pic out of something which isn’t intrinsic to the text. If you don’t want to lose text comp debates in front of me on the negative you should get ahead of the normal means debate before the block to show how the CP is different from how the plan would normally be resolved. I think severance/intrinsic perm debates are only a reason to reject the perm, and are not automatically a neg leaning argument. Delay and study counterplans are pretty abusive, please don’t read them in front of me if you can avoid it. If you have a good explanation for why consultation is not normal means then you can consider reading consult, but I err pretty strongly aff on consult is normal means. Conditions counterplans are on the border of being theoretically illegitimate as well, so a good normal means explanation is pretty much necessary.

Conditionality: If you want to win neg rounds in front of me, you should avoid reading conditional advocacies. I will vote for aff teams who make the effort to read condo bad, no matter how small of an effort that is. Yes, I realize this may appear out of sync with the “do you” philosophy which frames this paradigm, but I assure you, in the grand scheme of things this is a much smaller restriction than you think it is, so maybe you should just adapt your strategy in the rounds you find me judging.

In the absence of debaters’ clearly won arguments to the contrary, what is the order of evaluation that you will use in coming to a decision (e.g. do procedural issues like topicality precede kritiks which in turn precede cost-benefit analysis of advantages/disadvantages, or do you use some other ordering)?
Given absolutely no impact calculus I will err towards the argument with the most warrants and details. For example if a team says T is a priori with no warrants or explanation for why that is true or why it is necessary an aff could still outweigh through the number of people it effects (T only effects the two people in the round, arguments about T spillover are the impact calc which is missing in the above explanation). What I’m really saying here is do impact calculus.

How do you weight arguments when they are not explicitly weighed by the debaters or when weighting claims are diametrically opposed? How do you compare abstract impacts (i.e. “dehumanization”) against concrete impacts (i.e. “one million deaths”)?
I err towards systemic impacts absent impact calculus by the debaters. But seriously, do your impact calculus. I don’t care if you use the words probability, magnitude, timeframe and reversability, just make arguments as to why your impact is more important.

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