Adam Symonds -- Arizona State

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Judging philosophy:

Big picture:
--Impact comparisons largely control my decisions. Do it well and you are in good shape. By comparison, I mean more than “we win on magnitude, timeframe, and probability.” Actually compare your impact claims to theirs.
--I generally think our debates should be about a plan. The more you abstract away from the plan and a resolution, the less interesting and educational I find the debate. Yet, I frequently vote for teams that aren’t “policy” teams. All I can say is Pointer is right: usually the only thing worse than the K in the debate is the set of K answers.
--I probably give lower points than the judges you usually pref. With tenths of a point, I’ve set my average at 28 and work up or down from there.
--I do not evaluate debates in a strictly offense/defense paradigm.
--I assess argument quality.
--I love great evidence and will reward you for reading it.
--DEBATE THE LINE BY LINE. Do not group "the link debate" "the alt debate" "the uniqueness debate" in the block.

Evidence comparison makes a great deal of difference in my decisions. I generally don’t call for very many cards, largely because I believe evidence supports arguments and it is the responsibility of the debaters (particularly in the final rebuttals) to clearly convey those arguments and compare those arguments to their opponents’ to persuade me why I should vote for them. I shouldn’t be left to discover interesting and relevant arguments in the evidence on my own after the debate. However, if I do read evidence, and it does make additional arguments that impact the debate, I am likely to assess that impact. This should only heighten the importance you place on comparing evidence during your speeches. Evidence is only as good as its method of deployment in the debate. The better job you do explaining your evidence, the more likely you are to win.

Evidence I read in debates is often way too short or badly underlined. By badly underlined I mean the following: (1) The highlighting produces sentences that lack subjects, objects or verbs – in short they are not sentences. (2) Half of a word is highlighted in order to change the tense or otherwise remove the word from its original context to insert it into the context of another sentence. (3) Out of a 1 page card, a word or two is highlighted in each sentence, constructing a brand new sentence the author never wrote. Evidence should include support for reasons for the claim(s) made in the tag. I will not read the un-highlighted portions of your evidence in attempt to figure out what the hell the alphabet soup you highlighted means.

I think the toolbox of policy answers typically deployed are worse than the Ks. Teams that beat “the K” in front of me do the following: continue to press the value of the 1AC advantages (we outweigh), defend against the K impact tricks (value to life, ontology/epistemology/representations come first, etc.), leverage the alt solvency in defense of the permutation, make alt theory arguments, force the neg to answer mechanical questions about the alt, challenge the (usually nonexistent) internal link to the K. Impact turns are great, but you still have to defeat the “K comes first” type impacts in the 1NC.

Framework: In most of the debates I judge, someone reads some version of this argument. For most of you, this is probably the most relevant section of my philosophy. I suppose I end up judging these debates because I largely don’t think there is a “divide” between policy and critical arguments. These debates have far more to do with impact framing than any procedural framework argument. Here are some observations about these debates after several years of watching them:
(1) I am generally persuaded by the race to the middle. Policy consequences and discursive/representational consequences ought to be measured and evaluated. I do think we should be evaluating the comparative advantages/disadvantages of the plan (indeed, in almost all cases I think the aff should be defending a plan); however, I don’t think policy consequentialism is the only way to make such a decision.
(2) While fairness is a key component of the framework debate, it’s very unlikely I will conclude that one team ought to lose the debate for reading a critical argument. I am, however, likely to conclude that fairness reasons dictate inclusion of the policy impacts alongside other styles of impact. Make sure your argument also includes justifications for topic-specific education and advantages to the type of politics you advocate (i.e. state-based, utilitarian, consequentialist).
(3) As a result, both teams would be better off spending more time comparing the genres of impact arguments, rather than spending time on framework. Policy teams that spend time justifying the process of debating about plans and consequences in terms of its educational and substantive political values are quite persuasive. Teams that read a stack of cards about consequences are big generally fail to answer the critical substance about politics. As a result, they tend to lose.
(4) Topicality often makes more sense to me as a strategy against critical affs than framework does. However, if you aren’t prepared to defend the value of T beyond fairness and procedural impacts, you’ll likely be frustrated as the debate devolves into framework. If you want to succeed here, talk about clash, the value of topic specific education, and indict the efficacy of debates over political tactics that are unpredictable.
(5) Both sides are pretty bad at translating their impact arguments into the other team’s language. Both sides are usually bad at addressing the advantages to the other side’s conception of politics/debate.
(6) Impact comparison is the most important part of these debates. Consequently, this is where I look first to make a decision. If one team establishes a frame through which I ought to evaluate the impacts in the debate, I am typically persuaded to view the debate this way. Whatever method you would like me to use to evaluate the debate, you’d do well do spend a good deal of time justifying its use. One problem I typically see that you should guard against: policy teams often don’t spend time explaining how their “policy making best” evidence responds to the specific impact framework critical teams try to establish. Take the time to make the application of your evidence specific.

Permutations: Generally, these are very powerful weapons for the aff against Ks for me. If you want to win a permutation, you need to express the net benefits, and explain why the links the neg wins are irrelevant in a world where the alternative solves the impacts to those links. If you’re neg and want to defeat the permutation, you need to make sure you have specific link arguments to the permutation, rather than simply relying on links to the plan/1AC. You should have internal link arguments that stem from the links to some kind of impact, otherwise your alternative is going to hurt you on the permutation. “There’s still a risk of a link to the perm” usually doesn’t persuade me in the face of aff net benefits to the perm. Why does combining the aff with the alternative produce something worse than the alt alone? Whichever side does a better job on these points will win the perm.

Theory: I think things have gone a long way towards the neg. I frequently find myself sympathetic with aff theory arguments. Anything beyond one conditional CP and K tends to make me lean aff on conditionality, although I am less concerned with conditionality than many of the really dumb CPs available. On that note, let me say that the proliferation of arbitrary theory interpretations is profoundly dumb. Most of these can be waived away if you point out how arbitrary they are. Object fiat, International fiat seem objectionable to me. Given the nature of the literature on democracy assistance, conditioning CPs seem reasonable – provided there is actual solvency evidence and solvency advocates for the CP. (I also think our community standards for what constitutes a “solvency advocate” are incredibly low.) I’m more likely to be persuaded by teams with more explanation and less blippy tag lines. 20 half-sentence justifications for conditionality is just bad debate. Also, cheap shots are dumb. On this topic, I imagine there will be many international fiat debates – I definitely lean aff here, so make sure you’re putting in quality time and arguments for the educational and fairness values of international fiat if that’s your desired strategy.

Even if … because…(Love you Becky!): You aren’t winning everything. The best debaters account for this and provide alternative routes for me to vote for them even when they lose sections of the debate. Bottom line: give yourself outs.

Seasonal voting record:

TourneyDivRdAFF    NEG    Decision
EmporiaOpenOctoKansasCampbell0Gress0UMKCBonnet0Sadowski0AFF 2-1 (NEG)
EmporiaOpenQurtNoTexaKersch0Pryor0OklhmaMasterson0Tomik0NEG 2-1 (NEG)
UCOOpenOctoTexasFitz0Stolte0KansasBonnet0Schmitz0AFF 3-0 (AFF)
UCOOpenQurtTexasBhattacharjee0Koneru0KansasCampbell0Gress0NEG 3-0 (NEG)
UCOOpenFinalUMKCAllsup0Garcia0WichitBox0Munday0AFF 2-1 (AFF)
WakeOpenDoubUNLVEisenstadt0Meneses0NwstrnBeiermeister0Kirshon0NEG 3-0 (NEG)
TexasOpen4EmoryMoore0Rains0Mo StBess0Reed0Bye/FFt
D1QualOpenFinalUSCOh0Purk0UNLVBato0Velto0NEG 3-0 (NEG)
NDTOpenQurtGonzoKanellopoulos0Moczulski0WichitBox0Munday0AFF 5-0 (AFF)
NDTOpenSemiGonzoKanellopoulos0Moczulski0NwstrnBeiermeister0Kirshon0NEG 3-2 (NEG)
CEDAOpenTripTexasFitz0Stolte0UMKCAllsup0Garcia0NEG 2-1 (AFF)
CEDAOpenDoubWichitBox0Coleman0UWyoFanning0Pauli0AFF 3-0 (AFF)
CEDAOpenQurtWhitmanHumble0Zendeh0Mo StFrederick0Gilmore0AFF 2-1 (NEG)

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