Monday, March 11, 2013

IPDA Primer (a crash course)

I wrote the below about a year ago in order to give brand new competitors on the team a basic idea of how to handle IPDA. Because it's incomplete, I called it a draft (and still do so), but rather than keep the "not for redistribution" bit and let the document sit on my hard drive, I thought I'd let it out into the wild. I may put some additional time into this, making it a more complete primer, if there's any interest.

For what it's worth, despite my criticisms of IPDA, I would encourage any program to play with the format, if only for its accessibility... because any form of debate is better than no debate :)

Rereading the below for the first time since writing it, I've made a couple of notes marked in red. Questions, comments, or criticisms are welcome.

NV – 4/23/12 – IPDA PRIMER DRAFT – NOT FOR REDISTROBUTION
Timing
AC:5:00, CX:2:00, NC:6:00, CX:2:00, 1AR:3:00, NR:5:00, 2AR: 3:00.

Striking
Debaters will be given five topics to select from. Topics are eliminated one at a time through the back and forth process of striking starting with the negative.
  • Consider your position, what you know about your judge, as well as the specific language used.
  • Start thinking of potential arguments from the moment you've read the resolutions.
  • Use poorly written resolutions to your advantage! Look for superlatives or other cases where the debate is practically won prior to the round even beginning.
  • Typically, metaphors should be avoided if you're negative, as they tend explode the affirmatives ground. The inverse is also true, but depends on the metaphor itself.
Prep
IPDA prep is 30 minutes long. You will typically have access to the internet, coaches, other competitors, etc during prep. Despite the likelihood of assistance during prep, do not waste time by waiting for someone to help you – dig in and start jotting down ideas for arguments, responses or questions to ask during CX, looking up evidence and statistics, etc.

Case Construction
Structure and organization are key.
No single structure is set mandatory, and the below is provided as a common example.

1) Resolutional Analysis / Framework
This is done by the affirmative, but can be argued against, or provided by the negative if the affirmative fails to do so.
  • Define terms in the resolution
    • Often definitions are contextual, however there will be instances when terms (or even the whole topic in case of metaphors) require definitions
  • Identify case type
    • IPDA cases are usually treated as either fact or value debates (rarely policy*). Key words to look for are “is” in the case of a fact, and “would” in the case of a value - while the word “should,” would usually imply a policy, it's typically treated as a value.
      *Which is unfortunate, see my post on why policy topics are superior here.
  • Provide a criterion
    • This is the way the round ought to be evaluated. There are any number of criterion that can be used; with a fact round “preponderance of evidence," or "qualitative on balance" is usually safe, a value debate can be determined using a “best upholds," criterion, with a value specified (e.g. economic stability, security, human rights, etc). A criterion of "qualitative on balance" is also very common. Policy cases = better debate, again see this post. Policy rounds also allow for use of "net benefits" as a criterion, which allows any other weighing mechanism to operate within it.
  • Establish burdens
    • This is laying down the conditions under which either competitor can win the debate utilizing the criterion or criterion/value.
2) Positions / Arguments / Points / Contentions
Aim for having between two and four points well developed during prep time.
Apply some sort of internal structure to the positions, e.g. “Point A,” “first point under this argument,” etc. 
Argument structure will vary but should always provide evidence, warrants, and impacts, even if you don't refer to them as such. There are a number of ways to structure the arguments, one possibility is as follows:
    • Background
      • X is going on right now and it's really messed up – provide supporting evidence
    • Support resolution (i.e. supporting the resolution allows for BG issues to be addressed)
    • Outcome/benefit/impact/etc
      • This is where you talk about “why it matters,” or “this is important because...” - a significant portion of time should be spent here, as it gives the judge something to evaluate.
      • Suggestions for ways to evaluate the import or outcomes of your positions can be (and borrowing from an NPDA a few years ago):
        • magnitude
          • large-scale events, or events that affect more people are more important than those that do not
        • probability
          • events that are more likely to occur are more important than events that are less likely to occur.
        • time frame
          • things that happen sooner are more important than things that happen later.

3) Rebuttals
These speeches summarize the debate and tell the judge why you've won. While you should be weighing your arguments against your opponent from the first opportunity, these are the last speeches in the round, and thus, your last chance to win a ballot. Because the affirmative has twice the number of rebuttals, it makes sense for the affirmative to first address off-case, then address on-case with the second rebuttal.


Notes
  • Offensive argumentation is always going to be preferable to defensive argumentation. Turn positions (i.e. have them work against your opponent), rather than mitigate when possible.
  • Utilizing CX time effectively can be a way of granting yourself what is equivalent to two additional minutes of argumentation. Offense before defense.
  • An argument dropped is an argument conceded.
  • While filling up your time will usually work to your advantage, there's no need to repeat yourself. If you've gone over everything and have nothing left to say during a speech or CX, “I concede the remainder of my time,” or “thank you, no further questions,” is completely appropriate.
  • Don't be a jerk.
  • If all else fails, smile and bat your eyelashes.

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