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01/27/2010 9:33 PM by
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Ronnie O'Sullivan
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The quarterfinals debate that I judged at West Georgia has brought up an interesting theoretical question. Namely, when does an argument have to be explicitly conceded in order for a team to make use of it later? There was a short discussion of this on The 3NR.

I expand this discussion and provide a bit more background on the debate. A summary of the relevant parts of the quarterfinals debate:



2AC: NFU solves CBW & No Impact to CBW.

2NC: Kicks the CP, does not explicitly mention the 2AC CBW add-on or impact takeout, nor does he extend the 1NC impact.

1AR: Extends the add-on and the 1NC impact to CBW attack.

2NR: Extends the 2AC impact takeout to CBW.

2AR: Contests the legitimacy of the 2NR’s extension of the impact takeout.

Was the 2NR’s move legitimate? I argue that it was because there is a prevailing set of debate practices that are consistent with allowing this type of extension, and requiring the explicit concession of the impact takeout in the block would rely on a model of debate that could result in nonsense and shenanigans.  

Generally, what is the status of an opponent’s argument that is neither explicitly answered nor explicitly extended by a team in a debate? Is there a case where this situation occurs that we consider an argument to be implicitly extended? There most definitely is and the cases are sufficiently similar to justify interpreting the negative’s move in the block as an implicit concession of the 2AC arguments.

Case – The turned DA. When the 2AC turns a disadvantage, be it a link or impact turn, they rarely explicitly extend the other component of the turn that makes it offense. Despite this lack of explicit extension, if the block were to stand up in the face of a straight link-turned DA and say “we are no longer advancing the argument that there is an impact to this disad,” the affirmative would rightly call foul.

Though this case is not controversial, I will belabor the discussion of it for the sake of future clarity. Why don’t we make the 2AC explicitly concede the impact to the link turn? It would take very little time to make it transparent that the link turn accesses the negative’s impact, really just a formal statement of “Extend the negative’s impact evidence; economic decline causes war, Mead 92.”

Given the ease of this explicit concession, why don’t we require it of the 2AC? The answer is that it is wholly unnecessary. The presence of the link turn, and the lack of explicit contestation of the impact, leads to the overwhelmingly logical assumption that the 2AC has conceded the impact. In this case, we do not force the 2AC (and probably not even the 1AR) to go through the rote exercise of explicitly extending the negative’s impact, nor should we.

So, are the two cases similar? Does the negative’s silence in the face of the 2AC add-on and impact takeout constitute an implicit concession of both, or a strategic blunder? Our case study seems to suggest that when in doubt, we are willing to spot a team the implicit concession. Why do we force the block to demonstrate that they possess the strategic wherewithal to acknowledge that one argument takes another out, but do not force the 2AC to demonstrate that they know that the impact to their link turn is the original 1NC impact? Both situations seem sufficiently basic to infer that an implicit concession has occurred.

One possible distinction between the two is that the implicit concession of the impact is the conclusion of the link turn while the failure of the negative to explicitly concede affirmative arguments represents a lack of resolution or conclusion. The chief response to this objection is that the resolution is the concession of all affirmative arguments and the conclusion is the sum total of those arguments. If the combination of the 2AC arguments represents something to the effect of “we prevent a CBW attack, which has no impact,” then I fail to see why the negative’s silence in the face of this conclusion fails to resolve the situation.