Answering Common Theory Spikes: Part II

An increasingly popular trend in debate has been the 1AC blitzing of short theory spikes. Strategically speaking, it’s not hard to see why; when dropped these arguments are devastating and potentially round winning. And due to both their brevity and quantity, neg. debaters, more often than not, do end up dropping these arguments. This article will point out generic theoretical spikes most 1ACs employ nowadays and provide answers to each of them. The first part of this article, which covers answers to spikes #1-4 can be found here.

5. I speak in the dark and theory is a binary. This is framed either a) prefer the aff. interpretation on face since I was forced to pick one b) drop the argument for neg. theory.

Just because theory is a binary doesn’t mean there isn’t a right answer (one can argue that it is easier to defend aprioris bad than aprioris good). In fact, if they are binaries, they both can’t be true due to their mutual exclusivity. Therefore, you should have just picked the fairer/ more educational interpretation.

Moreover, drop the argument is extreme vague with regard to theoretical arguments thare are indicts of the aff. advocacy. If the aff. reads a generic on balance aff. and the neg. wins that he/she has to specify a country, how do we “drop the argument?” Does the aff. now have to specify in the 1AR and the 2NR, instead of the 1NR, will read disadvantages? With regards to these shells, it seems that drop the argument should be synonomous to drop the debater.

6. All neg. counterplans must have a counter- solvency advocate (someone who advocates against the counterplan).

Surprisingly, this argument is surprisingly easy to answer due to negligence on the affs part. Most affs who read this argument don’t actually provide a counter solvency advocate in the 1AC for whatever it is they are advocating. Their standards certainly don’t warrant why only the neg. has to do it. I’m not sure why most negs don’t pick up on this.

But assuming the aff didn’t mess up, this argument is also nebulous. What is the threshold for providing a counter-solvency advocate? Does the neg. just have to cite an article or read a card as to why their counter-plan is bad? If it’s the latter, can the aff. leverage that card? Debate would certainly be unusual if at the end of everyone’s speech they had to read a card or two about why their position is wrong.

7. Affirming means to prove an obligation. There are many ethical and political theories that justify different things. Having to prove an obligation under all of them would be an infinite burden, so I only need to prove the existence of one.

This argument has been used to spike out of neg. offense by arguing that it is sufficient for the aff. to win an obligation under one ethical theory, regardless of other ethical theories. For example, if under util. we would affirm, it doesn’t matter if the NC wins both deontology and a prohibition under a deontology NC, we still affirm because there is still an obligation under util. If this sounds counter-intuitive and just wrong, don’t worry because it is.

The first part you should attack is the theoretical justification for this argument i.e. reciprocity. The way you solve this is by arguing that both debaters get to pick one ethical theory, prove their side of the resolution under it, and then argue which ethical theory trumps the other. That seems to solve all their arguments about having to prove infinite theories. Finally, their interpretation would seem much more unreciprocal, since it requires the neg. to prove a prohibition under every ethical theory.

This argument is also substantively false. If the neg. proves an alternative ethical framework is true and that framework requires us to negate, it doesn’t matter what duties we have under the AC framework because that framework is false. The AC interprets the debate as “util. requires us to affirm.” Rather it is really “if util. is true, then we are required to affirm.” If the neg. wins the NC, then they have proven util. false which no longer triggers the antecedent.

8. Conditional logic means that indicting assumptions affirm because denying the antecedent of the conditional statement still proves that statement (google conditional logic to see why this is true).

Conditional statements are if-then statements. The resolution is not an if-then statement. Ergo, the resolution is not an if- then statement. This argument does not apply.

9. The skept trigger- X is key to morality, only my framework accounts for it, so if my framework is false, we devolve to nihilism or skept.

This argument assumes that skepticism is the starting point for morality which is never warranted. It could just as easily be the case that util. is the starting point for morality and absent any true morality we default to body count. Skepticism requires proactive justifications which their trigger doesn’t provide.

Moreover, LD framework debate is comparative. Neither debater’s ethical theory may be true but that doesn’t mean we can’t evaluate the debate. We just have to pick the one that is more likely to be true. Thus, the only way this argument can be used is as a reason to prefer a framework, not as a reason skepticism is true.

10. Neg. may only have one unconditional access to the ballot- this argument is extended as a reason why the neg. can’t run theory and substance because that causes a 2:1 skew.

The problem with this argument is it assumes that theory is a choice. However, theory is not like your traditional apriori. If you read an apriori, you get an advantage. If you don’t read it, you are not necessarily at a disadvantage. The same cannot be said of theory. Theory is a double bind; either a) I read theory or b) I debate under an unfair/ uneducational interpretation. Thus, traditional views of reciprocity cannot apply to theory debate.

In addition, theory is, contrary to popular belief, not unreciprocal even absent an RVI. The aff. can just read theory in the 1AR and weigh against the neg. shells.


Editor Note: The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Victory Briefs.

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