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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 1:08 am 
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The most agreed upon type of counter plans falls under the listing of Non-Topical. But I am wondering about a certain aspect of these. Just how far does the fiat power of the negative team in a counter plan goes? Are there any rules that I am unaware of? Because I was thinking the other day. The negative team could logically argue that they have fiat power over time and time travel to fix the harms in the past. Obviously a flawed plan in reality, but logically possible. I'd like to know what y'all's thoughts on this is.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 1:34 am 
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The negative team could logically argue that they have fiat power over time and time travel to fix the harms in the past.

I strongly disagree.

Time travel theories aside, at its core, fiat is a suspension of reality. Because neither the judge nor the debaters actually have authority to pass a policy in real life, we pretend like they do for the sake of discussion. If we don't pretend that we have authority to pass laws, then every negative team could legitimately argue that the entire debate is meaningless because nothing will happen in the real world. Thus, in my mind, the same fiat restrictions apply to Affirmative teams, Negative teams or anyone who proposes a policy action.*

Once we accept fiat, the important question then becomes, "How much should we be able to suspend reality?" Because, as you pointed out, assuming too much destroys the debate rather than improving it.

There are a thousand and one different ways to separate "abusive fiat" from "acceptable" fiat, but I'm fairly certain that time travel will always fall under "abusive fiat" no matter who you ask. Interestingly enough, we could use the "time travel" argument as an absurdity test. If someone's interpretation of fiat allows for absurd plans like "world peace" or "time travel," then that interpretation is probably bogus.

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*I believe in plancentrism, so I don't believe that fiat comes from the resolution. For those of you who believe in rezcentrism, my explanation still holds. Consider why the craters of policy resolutions nearly always use the word "should" instead of "would".

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 2:36 am 
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But how are the lines drawn on what is abusive and what isn't for the negative team's fiat in counter plans? I used time travel for an example. But what about this example:
The Affirmative team runs harms of Russia's human rights and proposes to cut trade with Russia until they reform they're human rights. Couldn't the Negative then run a counterplan that changes the government of Russia to mirror that of the US. This is something that is possible (unlike time travel) but can the negative team claim fiat over Russia in this situation?

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 2:50 am 
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In actual practice, it's kind of a case-by-case thing. If the CP is too crazy, the Aff can win the argument that it's abusive and should be voted down just to keep debate fair. This is pretty much what Elijah is arguing. (This kind of "utopian fiat" objection is commonly raised against counterplans that fiat multiple actors, and counterplans that fiat international actors; IMHO both of those are actually legit in the right context, but many people disagree.)

But the theoretical logic can get a bit more complicated than that. Since Elijah gave you a plancentrism answer, I'll give you a rezcentrism answer. :) Before I get into that, however, it helps to remember two conceptual things about the rezcentrist framework:

1. Fiat isn't actually a "power". It's just a convenient way of describing the fact that the round is about what should happen, so arguments like "that would never get through Congress" are irrelevant - they don't disprove that it should get through Congress. (Wiki article: Fiat.)

2. CPs are basically just opportunity cost DAs. (At the core, anyway - some will argue that they carry other significance as well.) Doing the Aff plan keeps us from doing XYZ, and doing XYZ is better than the Aff plan, so that means what we "should" do is XYZ - not the Aff plan.

So, the question is: how crazy does a CP have to be before it stops being a legitimate opportunity cost to the Aff plan?

If the CP uses the same actor as the resolution (e.g., Federal Government etc.), then the only real restriction is whether the CP is legally possible. This is pretty obvious: if enacting a plan in Congress prevents the President from doing something even better, we shouldn't enact the plan in Congress. But if enacting a plan in Congress prevents the Secretary of State from abolishing abortion or something, that doesn't matter, because the Secretary of State didn't have the power to do that in the first place. It's not a legitimate alternative to the plan, so it's not actually an opportunity cost.

If the CP uses another actor, things get trickier. Here's one way it might be argued: We're debating about what the Federal Government should do. The fact that the plan prevents China from doing something better is only a legitimate opportunity cost if China is actually likely to do it. The judge rejecting the plan because China might hypothetically do something better (but almost certainly won't) is like the President vetoing a Congressional bill because China might hypothetically do something better (but almost certainly won't.) That's bad policy.

(This poses some difficulty for my beloved states CPs. But I don't think it's difficult to win the argument that "blocking state action" is a legitimate opportunity cost to plans involving the Federal Government; federal vs. state interplay is a big deal in the status quo, and 95% of the time the states CP would be accompanied with a massive federalism DA anyway.)

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 2:52 am 
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abuse is largely a situational thing. if aff is running JVA 2.0, and neg CPs with "well we'll just fiat that russia stops HR abuses!" that's clearly abusive. of course it would be great if putin turned into a saint, but it destroys debate if one team can just fiat an entire country to just be good. this year, that would be roughly equivalent to saying "we fiat nobody will commit genocide, which solves the problem better than creating a standing army."

on another note, if a) the negative team's job is to negate the resolution, b) negating the resolution is the same as affirming the negative of the resolution (i.e. "resolved: that the united nations should not be significantly reformed or abolished"), c) extra-topicality is a bad thing and d) extra-topicality should apply to both teams in the round, then the conclusion is that the neg can't run any CPs at all, because that would go beyond their burden of simply affirming the negative of the resolution. unless you phrase it as an opp-cost DA, which i typically do on the rare occasion i run counterplans, but i hardly ever see anybody else do.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 8:40 am 
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kingwill wrote:
unless you phrase it as an opp-cost DA, which i typically do on the rare occasion i run counterplans, but i hardly ever see anybody else do.
It's worth noting, by the way, that a CP is always an opportunity cost - even if not explicitly phrased as such. CPs have to be competitive; and, by definition, if it's competitive, it's an opportunity cost.

Various plancentrism and position advocacy proponents will argue that CPs have a unique purpose in the round, beyond just being an opportunity cost. I've never held to this position, simply because I don't think it's necessary, but it's out there.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 4:58 pm 
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a CP may have an opportunity cost, but just to clarify, they're definitely not the same thing. a CP phrased as an opportunity cost DA has to consider the probability of it actually happening - if the CP is to abolish the veto, that will never happen in a million years, and so even if we're losing that opportunity, the opportunity will never fulfill itself so we're not really losing any opportunity. it doesn't present a reason to vote neg. as a CP, however, neg is assumed to have fiat, and so the debate is based on the assumption that the CP will happen if the judge votes neg, and the merits of the CP are weighed against the merits of the plan, without debating the probability of either plan actually happening.

the difference is between neg saying "we shouldn't do this because the likelihood/magnitude of this lost opportunity outweighs the benefits" and "we shouldn't do this because there is a better way to do it." with non-topical counterplans, the distinction happens in the real world too. a UN official who says "this plan ruins the opportunity for iran to unilaterally disarm, so we shouldn't do it" is proposing an opportunity cost DA, albeit not a very compelling one. however, if iran's representative at the UN says "these sanctions won't work, and besides, we'll just unilaterally disarm," he is proposing a counterplan. one is a reason to "vote neg," another is not.

basically, CPs have fiat, DAs do not. which means that the difference between an opportunity cost DA and a CP can be pretty large in-round.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 9:00 pm 
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My thought on Non-T Fiat

Since the Negative team has no 'fiat' power derived from the resolution, the CP has to be something that could realistically happen WITHOUT the judge voting for it. A vote for the neg is a vote for the SQ, meaning that the plan has to happen IN the Status Quo.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2013 2:17 am 
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It should be noted that kingwill is presupposing that fiat is a "power", and that advocating a plan somehow "makes it happen" on a level beyond other arguments in the round. (This stands in contrast to conventional rezcentrism, in which fiat is merely a term used to describe the fact that certain arguments are irrelevant, and plans/CPs are merely factual points that help affirm or deny the truth of the resolution.) I have recently come to disagree with this position; see this thread, a lengthy (and, at times, entirely incoherent :?) discussion of whether advocacy matters.

Discussing his points further would probably be pointless, since I approach the whole issue from a different framework. But two quick comments:

kingwill wrote:
the difference is between neg saying "we shouldn't do this because the likelihood/magnitude of this lost opportunity outweighs the benefits" and "we shouldn't do this because there is a better way to do it."
Both of these cases involve opportunity costs. Think of it this way: why does it matter that there is a "better way to do it"? Because doing it the worse way misses out on the advantages of the better way. That's an opportunity cost.

As I said, by definition, if a counterplan is competitive, it's an opportunity cost. That's literally what competition is: "if you do this, you can't also do that." This is why it "works" for CPs to be just opportunity cost DAs, without assuming advocacy.

jadenwarren wrote:
Since the Negative team has no 'fiat' power derived from the resolution, the CP has to be something that could realistically happen WITHOUT the judge voting for it. A vote for the neg is a vote for the SQ, meaning that the plan has to happen IN the Status Quo.
Right (sort of), but there are two exceptions(?) to this.

First, something can be a legitimate opportunity cost without being guaranteed to happen. For example, suppose we think Person XYZ is a terrorist, and we think we should blow him up with a drone strike. However, if there is a sufficient chance that he might be innocent, we shouldn't - because we'd lose the opportunity to have a proper trial, acquit him, etc. Even if it's a pretty small chance, the opportunity cost may be a reason to reject the plan.

Second, if the CP uses the same actor as the resolution, things don't necessarily have to be likely in the SQ to be an opportunity cost. Take the typical resolution "Resolved: That the United States Federal Government should significantly reform its environmental policy." This establishes the contextual question of the round as, "what should the USFG do?" You can't say, "the USFG shouldn't sanction Iran because Iran should just unilaterally disarm", because the resolution doesn't ask what Iran should do. But you can say, "the USFG shouldn't sanction Iran because the USFG should just invade Iran", because the resolution does ask what the USFG should do.

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COG 2016 generics-only sourcebook - NCFCA/Stoa (thread)
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Loose Nukes debate blog - stuff to read with your eyes.


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