Negative Responsibilities

The Central question in any policy debate is: Do the benefits of adopting the proposition outweigh the risks / disadvantages of its adoption? If the answer is yes, the affirmative prevails, if the answer is no, the negative prevails.

Negative Approaches

1st Negative Constructive:

The only objective of the first negative constructive is to show that the affirmative has offered insufficient reason to accept the proposition. This is demonstrated by showing that:

1. The Affirmative case is irrelevant to the resolution (topicality) or so narrow in scope that it does not allow us to generalize that the whole resolution is true (hasty generalization).

2. The harmful conditions the affirmative cites as justification for adopting the plan are either non-existent or of insufficient magnitude to warrant policy change.

3. Even if harms can be shown to exist (or in the case of comparative advantages affirmatives certain benefits could be achieved), the affirmative plan is incapable of producing them (i.e. plan-meet-need / advantage arguments, workability problems, failure of plan to address contributing causes to the problem, etc.).

*1st Negative Constructive casts all arguments in terms of the above–tell your judge that your attacks strike at the relevance of the case, undermine the justification for action, and show the futility of the affirmative’s plan. At the end of your constructive speech, you should be able to recap why there is no reason to vote for the affirmative.

2nd Negative Constructive:

Your only job is to demonstrate reasons to vote against the affirmative. Since your partner has shown there is no advantage to be gained from the affirmative position, you solidify your team’s stance by demonstrating that there are substantial problems (harms, disadvantages) associated with the affirmative proposal. In short, the disadvantages associated with the affirmative position are greater than the advantages offered. You may do this by:

1. Arguing that there are problems with adapting the resolution. These arguments are phrased as the adverse consequences of losing certain beneficial elements of the present system.

2. The specific actions of the affirmative plan will lead to disadvantages. These are plan-specific disadvantages.

*2nd Negative Constructive–all disadvantages must have a label or claim that specifies the harmful effect of the affirmative’s action.

Basic Negative Moves

Keep reminding the judge that your team’s position undermines the rational for change (case-side attacks) and that even if there is something left on “case-side” it is outweighed by the disadvantages offered.



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