Ben Shahar ParadigmLast changed 2/16 3:27P PST
There's a PF specific section at the bottom, but some of the other stuff is relevant to y'all as well.
My pronouns are they/them.
The most important thing is to debate how you want to debate, have fun, and hopefully learn. This paradigm represents my preferences about debate; except when I explicitly say, I will do my best to adapt to the specific round in question.
If you have any questions before the round, email me at email@example.com or find me on facebook. If the round, or this space, is inaccessible for you for any reason at any point, please let me know and I will do whatever possible to help.
Debate is a game structured by wins and losses, but it’s an educational game with important implications on the subject formation of participants. In that vein, I highly recommend this article when you get time.
To win my ballot: do good weighing, signpost, call out missing internal links and unwarranted claims, and don’t be violent. I will try to find the easiest path to the ballot; tell me what that is.
My view of paradigms has been changed by Sierra Maciorowski: this paradigm is long because I have a lot of thoughts about debate, and because people who know me know those thoughts; anything I take out would advantage people who know me. I want to emphasize that I think it is my job to adapt to you: as long as I understand your arguments, and as long as they aren't violent, I will always prioritize the debating done in the round over anything in this paradigm.
I debated at Nueva in parli and PF and Rice in NPDA; I'm currently on a leave from college. I like to pretend I’m OK. I've gone for everything from the states CP to intrinsic perms to Edelman to plan flaws. I appreciate flexibility in my judges more than anything else, so that's what I'll try to do. Therefore, the most important things in this paradigm are higher-order questions about how I like rounds to happen, rather than which arguments I prefer.
A Note on Tech
I was a technical, fast, gamesy debater. I prefer to judge debates which fall under those lines. Do not think that this gives you a free pass to exclude non-technical teams. I have a lot of experience in rounds where I was an exclusionary debater, especially junior year, and also a lot of experience in how to manage this; I know for a fact that it is possible to read the most techy arguments in debate without being exclusionary. I am willing to intervene if I feel that a team has been skewed out of the round by tech. Here are some examples of situations in which I will intervene:
- You are repeatedly cleared and don’t make an effort to slow down. (I know, from experience, that slowing down is hard. ADHD often pushed me to go faster and get to the next argument. I will err on the side of not intervening via the ballot here, but instead intervene on my interpretation of certain arguments/the other team’s burden of rejoinder.)
- You are faster than conversational speed and do not take POIs.
- You are reading overly technical arguments/are reliant on jargon and do not take POIs.
On the flipside, if you fear that you might be skewed out of the round, please call it out before round and especially in round if you feel comfortable; this is not necessary, but it will make it much easier for me to justify intervention. In addition, I’ve tried to define most of the technical terms in this paradigm, but if there’s something I missed, please feel free to reach out! And if you ever want help with tech stuff, let me know!!
Tech vs. Truth
I will intervene on speech times, the fact that I give at most one win, and against arguments which I subjectively judge to be rhetorically violent*. Break any of these, but especially the third, and you lose with a max of 25s. Any other argument** is tech over truth as much as my biases allow.
There is almost never no risk of any argument unless an answer is cold conceded. Debaters should be much more reliant on offensive claims and warrant-level comparison than extensions of defense.
*I do not trust myself, given my positionality as a white person, to make this judgment, but I am unable to find a better solution. I therefore believe white people should be free strikes for people of color, such that people are not forced to operate in a space where some veil of objectivity in evaluating what is and is not violent is ceded to whiteness. If you are a person of color and want me to conflict you, let me know and I will do so and defend that decision to the tournament.
**There is a minimum threshold of warranting required for a claim to become an argument. Emphasizing this is important: I will not vote on claims which I do not feel have sufficient warranting to be complete arguments, even if conceded. I suspect my threshold here is (significantly) lower than most judges, but it does exist. “Conditionality is a voter – they lose” is not an argument. “Conditionality is a voter – they’ll kick out of MG offense and collapse to whatever I undercover – they lose because dropping the argument is the definition of conditionality” is. I also need arguments to be extended, explicitly, and including a warrant and an implication, in every speech. Shadow extensions don't have no risk, but they have a very small risk.
Give content warnings when applicable – err on the side of caution here. Fast debate is great, as long as it isn't used to exclude; see above. I don't want to shake your hand. Anything else: I don't care. Stand up, sit down, lie down, wear formal clothing, wear no shoes, tag team, have open cx, etc. You do you.
I will try to be non-expressive. I may fail. My expressions tend to have little to do with how I'm evaluating the arguments, and more to do with random stuff about my mood. The one exception is that if I'm not flowing anything, it's because I either don't know where on the flow you are, or I think you're repeating an argument you already made. I will try to raise my hands and make it obvious that I'm not flowing. If this mode of communication is not accessible to you, please feel free to let me know and we can come up with an alternative.
Trans debaters who submit their pronouns on tab have taken a huge risk to do so. For every instance (that I notice) in which you misgender someone who has done this, even if it’s accidental, I will deduct a full speaker point. I will also take time to write down that you did so – this may cause me to miss an argument.
I empirically average a 29.2. I will give a 30 if:
- You read an interesting K that I’m unfamiliar with.
- The LOC order is just case, and has 8 minutes of good arguments.
I will disclose and give an RFD. If you don't agree, I encourage you to argue (although I obviously can’t change my decision) – these conversations force me to be a better judge, and I found them cathartic as a competitor – obviously, this doesn’t mean you should be disrespectful, and you should always ask other judges if they’re ok with this. I'll continue these discussions as long as necessary, even post-tournament over facebook, unless I feel they're going in circles.
Evidence is important but not the be-all-end-all: good cards beat good analytics but good analytics beat bad cards. Please call out bad cards; I will not read evidence unless asked to do so or have no other way to resolve the debate.
Weighing means comparatively explaining why your offense outweighs, including your link chain and solvency mechanism. I strongly dislike “their impact is big so it’s low probability;” this is unwarranted and likely untrue. I prefer leveraging defense as a reason their impact is low probability. I like debates where weighing starts as early as possible. You get high speaks for strategic meta-weighing – meaning comparison of weighing mechanisms, eg whether magnitude or probability is more important. I will default to epistemic modesty, meaning the weight of each piece of offense is the chance they are true times the chance they outweigh.
I like to know what an argument is responding to, both in terms of top-level organization (what page are you on?) and on the line-by-line (where on the page are you?). I am very skeptical of long overviews which are not signposted as responding to specific arguments.
I enjoy specific and narrow plans with clever internal link stories much more than generic whole res affs, but I see why the latter is strategic. I love good case negs. Impact turns are extremely strategic, especially with CPs that solve the other advantage; this is one of my favorite neg strategies. In my opinion, the more time the LOC spends on case, the better the debate.
I think affs are too reliant on impact defense and unwilling to engage in people’s terrible internal link arguments. I generally think that the link debate is more important than the uniqueness debate but can be persuaded otherwise.
I am undecided on all of the relevant theoretical questions here. I love nuanced, deep solvency deficit debates and therefore dislike vague CPs that shift in the back half. I also enjoy impact turned net benefits. I think advantage CPs and PICs are super underutilized, especially when you write them during the aff to take advantage of a bad PMC arg. I will judge kick by default unless told otherwise.
I don’t have a preference for sequencing Ks vs. theory. I’m down for all of the techy K tricks, as well as ethical conditionality and performative contradictions, but also obviously open to arguments to the contrary. I like link turns and smart perms better than impact turns, but will obviously listen to either.
I may or may not be familiar with your lit; feel free to ask. By far, most of my work has been with queer theory, but I’m familiar with lots of other arguments.
One final note: I tend to think that debate is not the best space for arguments which are reliant on the identities of competitors. I am certainly willing to listen to these debates, because I know from experience that they can be necessary survival strategies, but making assumptions about other people’s identities is a very dangerous political move which can force outing and be counterproductive to revolutionary action.
All the stuff from the K section applies.
I tend to think that the neg is better off relying on procedural fairness and limits questions – especially skews evaluation claims as terminal defense to the aff – than on defenses of policymaking. I like neg strategies which are contextualized to the aff, no matter if it's your own K, framework, or some kind of countermethodology. I think KvK debates should be more reliant on root cause claims (and corresponding link turns) and less on coalition-style perm arguments.
Competing interpretations means that I evaluate theory through an offense-defense paradigm; it does not require a counterinterpretation. A corollary is that I literally do not understand how a difference between potential and articulated abuse would function. I am, of course, willing to listen to arguments which dispute either of those claims, but they’re an uphill battle.
I will not vote for reasonability absent an explicit brightline. I prefer standards-level strength of link weighing (who has a better internal link to fairness or education) over generic fairness vs education debates, although the latter tends to be more strategic. Absent weighing, I don’t have a default preference between fairness and education. I default to dropping the argument, not the debater, on all theory questions except status theory (conditionality).
I am very down for frivolous theory. However, I am more sympathetic to RVIs(and similar tricky checks on theory: metatheory, OCIs, etc) than most judges. I won’t hack for them, but I think it’s certainly a debate. I think MOs should be much more willing to rely on these tricks, combined with reasonability arguments, to answer MGs which read multiple shells.
Sure. It’s not my favorite, but I see its utility and I’m down to evaluate it. I suspect it’s under-utilized outside of LD, and I’m very interested in its interactions with theory and the K.
Tricks are very fun when well done, but do not make me judge a bad tricks debate without framing as to why your argument affirms/negates. I default to presuming negative even if the block goes for an advocacy, but good tricks debaters will make arguments in both directions. All the stuff I said at the top about accessibility applies 1000x here.
I think IVIs are pretty cool. I need some framing beyond "this is bad" as to why it warrants a ballot, but in general I'm much more sympathetic to them than most judges are.
-------- Parli --------
Policy >>> Value > Fact. I will vote for plans on fact/value reses and tend to prefer these debates.
Pass them to the other team or repeat them twice slowly; preferably both. I expect you to have a copy for me after the round, if I need it.
I’m down to do flex if both teams agree and time permits. If not, I enjoy debates in which everyone takes POIs. I protect but POOs are always a helpful reminder, especially for critically important arguments; excessive use of POOs will tank your speaks.
I think the neg should be able to split the block. I’ll default per community norms to not allowing it, but I have a low bar for arguments that you can.
-------- LD --------
To be completely honest, I'm not certain that I'm qualified to judge LD. My engagement with tech debate is almost entirely from parli (tech parli, but parli nonetheless), so while I understand how these arguments function and should be competent at flowing/evaluating fast debates, these events obviously have very different norms in a lot of areas. I'll do my best to evaluate whatever you want to read, but you're better off leaning away from traditional phil and from embedded clash (especially long 2NR K overviews). I'm also used to much more explicit signposting than my limited experience with LD suggests y'all do.
Put me on the email chain: firstname.lastname@example.org
Translation of speech names if you're confused about my paradigm: PMC = 1AC, LOC = 1NC, MG = 1AR, MO + LOR (parli has a block) = 2NR, PMR = 2AR.
-------- PF --------
PLEASE WEIGH. PLEASE SIGNPOST. I AM BEGGING YOU.
Theoretically justify any changes to this and I'm cool.
Anything in final focuses should be in summaries, except that if second rebuttal doesn't cover their own case first summary doesn't have to either, including extending turns. To be clear, yes, this means first final focus can extend a turn from first rebuttal that wasn’t in summary, as long as it wasn’t answered in second rebuttal.
New offense in rebuttal (either, but especially second) is abusive unless it link or internal link turns their case (without external impacts) or relies on a link argument made in their case (as do impact turns). I will grant a lot of leniency to the other team in answering these arguments.
PF CX is fake. I don't flow it.
If you let me know that you disclose at some point before my decision, you get an extra speaker point each.