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Defining a Motion and Constructing a Case Paulius Ramanauskas Yuri Romanenkov.

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Presentation on theme: "Defining a Motion and Constructing a Case Paulius Ramanauskas Yuri Romanenkov."— Presentation transcript:

1 Defining a Motion and Constructing a Case Paulius Ramanauskas Yuri Romanenkov

2 Outline 1. The Proposition Case 2. The Definition 3. The Arguments

3 The Proposition Case

4 Motion Resolution Topic Arguments Levels Areas Contentions Points ► Provides grounds for debate ► Tells what the debate will be about ► Summarises the change in the status quo ► Provide the substance of the debate ► Reasons why the change in the status quo should occur ► They actually persuade the audience Definition Model Plan Case statement Policy A prop case advocates a change in the present situation using logical reasoning ► Provides the framework for debate at various levels ► Set by the hosts of the debate This House would talk to terrorists Terrorist groups, which have an agenda (except plain destruction of people or states) should be negotiated with (1) Negotiations would allow us to deal with the issues of communities who have no other leaders but terrorists

5 The Definition

6 Types of Motions Open Closed ► Allow reasonable liberty of definition ► Specifies the general topic area ► Sometimes hard to distinguish from open motions, especially when paraphrased ► Allow extremely little if any liberty of definition ► Implies a model to be debated Semi-open The three types of motions differ in the extent of liberty of definition they allow ► Allow absolute liberty of definition ► May give a hint on what may be debated ► Can either be suggestive or completely random ► Definition serves as a link to the case ► This House would wear its black Vera Wang ► This House would put the women on the top ► This House would promote equality of opportunity ► This House would stop discrimination of women ► This House would introduce quotas for women in the boardroom ► This House would introduce quotas for women in parliaments

7 Creating a Model ► Allowing for reasonable debate (tempting as it may be to nail your opponents by your definition) ► Consistent with common sense ► Clear and simple; not taking a lot of time to explain ► Up-to-date  DOS  DONTS ► Squirreled ► Requiring specific knowledge ► Unfairly place set ► Truistic ► Tautological ► Time set Common sense is the best guide when creating a model

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10 Squirreling is a pitiful attempt by an (Opening) Government team to link the motion to an arbitrary case through changing meanings of words, where it has not been explicitly allowed by the motion-setters (whatever pricks the team may think they are). Squirreling Motion Squirrel Case Squirreling is something that severely distorts the debate This House would ban smoking Smoking refers to the smoking pipes of the industry that pollute the environment The United States should ratify Kyoto protocol to tackle global climate change

11 Thou shalt not squirrelth Squirreling is NEVER a winning strategy Squirreling is wrong ► It makes motions completely irrelevant ► It is a sneaky way of stealing preparation time from the other three (one, if American) teams in the round ► It significantly reduces the quality of the debate Squirreling doesn’t pay off ► Adjudicators are extremely likely to react very negatively ► The rules of some closed motions competitions (such as the SSE Riga IV) punish squirrels by an automatic fourth rank ► Even if you get away with squirreling, the quality of the debate is guaranteed to be low, and the speaker points will undoubtedly reflect that

12 Steps to Take If You’re Confused ► Consult the rules of the competition: they will most often have a section on the types of motions used This time think inside the box ► Ask your more experienced friends (but keep in mind that group preparation is banned in many competitions) ► Ask the Chief Adjudicator or anyone on the Adjudication Team: they are the most competent people to help you ► Take the most straightforward definition Rule of Thumb ► If you are unsure, whether a motion is an open one, it is most likely not

13 A definition (and therefore a case) requires specific knowledge if an ordinary intelligent person is not reasonably expected to be able to debate the case. Specific Knowledge It is often hard to decide, whether a given case requires specific knowledge The Sarbanes-Oxley Act should include further requirements for non-financial reporting of public companies Miller v. California should be reversed to make it easier to have something judged to be obscene The ordinary intelligent person has broad interests; he is well read, has attended some university and follows the news reasonably closely

14 Place setting Place setting is similar to specific knowledge, but often is even more controversial A definition is place set unfairly, when all participants of the debate (including the adjudicators) are not reasonably expected to be able to debate the case. Major obstacles to launching new businesses should be removed in Ethiopia Iran should abandon its nuclear programme The European Union should have a constitution

15 A tautology (or circular argument) is something that is true by definition. Truisms and tautologies Truisms occur very infrequently, mostly in the form of status quo cases; tautologies are a once-in-a-debating-career occurence The police should not be allowed to detain people on the streets for no particular reason A truism is something that is obviously true. Motion Tautology This House believes that terrorism is a catalyst for progress Terrorists are people who promote legitimate agendas by violent means

16 Time setting Time setting is allegedly allowed in some American debating circles, but entirely unwitnessed anywhere else A time set definition implies a change in the status quo that is supposed to have occured in the past (possibly involving historical personalities), or to occur given some uncertain future developments. President Harry S. Truman should not have authorised the use of nuclear weapon in Japan in 1945 When living on Mars will be possible, humans should outsource polluting industries there

17 The Arguments

18 A sexy argument Clear structure is essential for a good argument ► Summarises the argument in a clear and concise form ► Often part of a ‘because statement’ Higher corporate tax would weaken the industry S Y EXEX Statement Explanation Illustration ► By all means the most important part of any argument ► Gives the analysis behind the statement ► Introduces the facts necessary to support the argument ► This may take the form of (among others): ► Basic logic ► Analogies ► Statistics Lower profits limit investment opportunities, slowing expansion OECD research shows that 10% increase in tax level reduces GDP by 0.5% annually

19 Basic logic Use basic logic when you know what you’re talking about, but have nothing to prove it Statement Illustration Explanation Lifting the ban on wearing headscarves in French schools would increase discrimination in the society. Children are often not tolerant to each others differences. Muslims wearing headscarves in schools differentiate themselves from the rest of the pupils. The society might become segregating from the very young age. This would then decrease mutual understanding and increase discrimination within French society. Last year’s riots in France suggest that segregation does exist, and leads to severe instability and violence.

20 Analogies An analogy is an assumption that if two things share some features, they also share others Statement Illustration Explanation Legalising gay marriage in EU would make the society more tolerant towards gay people. Being generally conservative, people may oppose new policies, especially those implying a moral judgement. As the practices become usual, people become comfortable with the ideas. The EU-wide ban on death penalty was initially extremely unpopular. However, following its implementation the majority of EU population now oppose death penalty. It is acceptable to infringe upon personal choice through compulsory post-mortem organ donation. Organ donation creates social value. We accept infringements upon our liberties when the social benefits of it outweigh the total loss in choice. Government collecting taxes is an acceptable limit on personal choice, since it provides public goods, etc.

21 Statistics ‘80 per cent of statistics is created on the spot’, Homer Simpson Statement Illustration Explanation The introduction of the Euro facilitates trade. The Euro creates incentives for cross- border trade, since it decreases transaction costs, and eliminates exchange rate risk, i.e. there are no more fluctuations in the exchange rate that can affect the value of the contracts). Since the launch of the Euro, the trade among the countries in the Eurozone has increased by a vast 10%. Tips on Figures ► Make sure the figures you give are clear and simple to understand ► Using absolute numbers not always makes sense ► Keep your figures to integers; only rarely decimal places would make a big difference ► If you make figures up, make sure they are credible

22 Tips and Tricks ► Think what the major issues in the debate will be, and make sure your case covers them ► You may structure your case in a number of different ways, trying to provide an integral picture; label your arguments accordingly: ► Political/Economic/Social/Environmental/Legal ► Moral/Practical ► Domestic/Regional/International ► Individual/Society Always try to see the big picture ►Morally: undermining democracy should be a punishable offence ►Socially: stimulates social inclusion of the disadvantaged groups, which normally don’t vote ►Politically: encourages parties to adjust their platforms to reflect the interests of the voters Voting should be made compulsory ►Individuals will be given an incentive to understand their needs ►The Society ►will have a more stable political system through higher turnouts ►will become more inclusive Voting should be made compulsory


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