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Fiat Bad?

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Gordon Mitchell et al, 7/21/2001, Associate Professor of Communication at the University of Pittsburg, ISIS Briefing on BMD, http://www.isisuk.demon.co.uk/0811/isis/uk/bmd/no6.html.

 

A buildup of space weapons might begin with noble intentions of 'peace through strength' deterrence, but this rationale glosses over the tendency that '… the presence of space weapons…will result in the increased likelihood of their use'. This drift toward usage is strengthened by a strategic fact elucidated by Frank Barnaby: when it comes to arming the heavens, 'antiballistic missiles and anti-satellite warfare technologies go hand-in-hand'.34 The interlocking nature of offense and defense in military space technology stems from the inherent 'dual capability' of space-borne weapon components. As Marc Vidricaire, Delegation of Canada to the UN Conference on Disarmament, explains: 'If you want to intercept something in space, you could use the same capability to target something on land'. 35 To the extent that ballistic missile interceptors based in space can knock out enemy missiles in mid-flight, such interceptors can also be used as orbiting 'Death Stars', capable of sending munitions hurtling through the Earth's atmosphere. The dizzying speed of space warfare would introduce intense 'use or lose' pressure into strategic calculations, with the spectre of split-second attacks creating incentives to rig orbiting Death Stars with automated 'hair trigger' devices. In theory, this automation would enhance survivability of vulnerable space weapon platforms. However, by taking the decision to commit violence out of human hands and endowing computers with authority to make war, military planners could sow insidious seeds of accidental conflict. Yale sociologist Charles Perrow has analyzed 'complexly interactive, tightly coupled' industrial systems such as space weapons, which have many sophisticated components that all depend on each other's flawless performance. According to Perrow, this interlocking complexity makes it impossible to foresee all the different ways such systems could fail. As Perrow explains, '[t]he odd term "normal accident" is meant to signal that, given the system characteristics, multiple and unexpected interactions of failures are inevitable'.36 Deployment of space weapons with pre-delegated authority to fire death rays or unleash killer projectiles would likely make war itself inevitable, given the susceptibility of such systems to 'normal accidents'. It is chilling to contemplate the possible effects of a space war. According to retired Lt. Col. Robert M. Bowman, 'even a tiny projectile reentering from space strikes the earth with such high velocity that it can do enormous damage — even more than would be done by a nuclear weapon of the same size!'. 37 In the same Star Wars technology touted as a quintessential tool of peace, defense analyst David Langford sees one of the most destabilizing offensive weapons ever conceived: 'One imagines dead cities of microwave-grilled people'.38 Given this unique potential for destruction, it is not hard to imagine that any nation subjected to space weapon attack would retaliate with maximum force, including use of nuclear, biological, and/or chemical weapons. An accidental war sparked by a computer glitch in space could plunge the world into the most destructive military conflict ever seen.

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Trolling aside..

 

Traditional debate desensitizes us to the suffering of others; rather than proving a framework for activism, this speculative mindset of “fiat†only rewards oppression and suffering of others.

Gordon R. Mitchell [Professor of Communications @ Univ. of Pittsburg. An NDT top speaker now coaches debate at the University of Pittsburgh], “PEDAGOGICAL POSSIBILITIES FOR ARGUMENTATIVE AGENCY IN ACADEMIC DEBATEâ€, Page 3, Argumentation & Advocacy, Vol. 35 Issue 2, Page 43, 1998 (HEG)

The sense of detachment associated with the spectator posture is highlighted during episodes of alienation in which debaters cheer news of human suffering or misfortune. Instead of focusing on the visceral negative responses to news accounts of human death and misery, debaters overcome with the competitive zeal of contest round competition show a tendency to concentrate on the meanings that such evidence might hold for the strength of their academic debate arguments. For example, news reports of mass starvation might tidy up the "uniqueness of a disadvantage" or bolster the "inherency of an affirmative case" (in the technical parlance of debate-speak). Murchland categorizes cultivation of this "spectator" mentality as one of the most politically debilitating failures of contemporary education: "Educational institutions have failed even more grievously to provide the kind of civic forums we need. In fact, one could easily conclude that the principle purposes of our schools is to deprive successor generations of their civic voice, to turn them into mute and uncomprehending spectators in the drama of political life" (1991, p. 8).

 

Re-conceptualizing debate as a forum for political action allows us to actively shape reality, breaking from the regression of hypothetical discourse. Giving debaters the burden of linking solvency to out-of-round actions avoids normative implications by providing a tool for interacting with the outside world. This argumentative agency paradigm empowers debaters as political agents more effectively than imaginary “fiatâ€

Gordon R. Mitchell [Professor of Communications @ Univ. of Pittsburg. An NDT top speaker now coaches debate at the University of Pittsburgh], “PEDAGOGICAL POSSIBILITIES FOR ARGUMENTATIVE AGENCY IN ACADEMIC DEBATEâ€, Pages 4-5, Argumentation & Advocacy, Vol. 35 Issue 2, Page 44-45, 1998 (HEG)

ARGUMENTATIVE AGENCY In basic terms the notion of argumentative agency involves the capacity to contextualize and employ the skills and strategies of argumentative discourse in fields of social action, especially wider spheres of public deliberation. Pursuit of argumentative agency charges academic work with democratic energy by linking teachers and students with civic organizations, social movements, citizens and other actors engaged in live public controversies beyond the schoolyard walls. As a bridging concept, argumentative agency links decontextualized argumentation skills such as research, listening, analysis, refutation and presentation, to the broader political telos of democratic empowerment. Argumentative agency fills gaps left in purely simulation-based models of argumentation by focusing pedagogical energies on strategies for utilizing argumentation as a driver of progressive social change. Moving beyond an exclusively skill-oriented curriculum, teachers and students pursuing argumentative agency seek to put argumentative tools to the test by employing them in situations beyond the space of the classroom. This approach draws from the work of Kincheloe (1991), who suggests that through "critical constructivist action research," students and teachers cultivate their own senses of agency and work to transform the world around them.

 

 

It's not from 2001 but I think this is the one you are reffering to. My cards are unorganized so if I find the oneyou are reffering to I'll try and post it.

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Trolling aside..

 

Traditional debate desensitizes us to the suffering of others; rather than proving a framework for activism, this speculative mindset of “fiat†only rewards oppression and suffering of others.

Gordon R. Mitchell [Professor of Communications @ Univ. of Pittsburg. An NDT top speaker now coaches debate at the University of Pittsburgh], “PEDAGOGICAL POSSIBILITIES FOR ARGUMENTATIVE AGENCY IN ACADEMIC DEBATEâ€, Page 3, Argumentation & Advocacy, Vol. 35 Issue 2, Page 43, 1998 (HEG)

The sense of detachment associated with the spectator posture is highlighted during episodes of alienation in which debaters cheer news of human suffering or misfortune. Instead of focusing on the visceral negative responses to news accounts of human death and misery, debaters overcome with the competitive zeal of contest round competition show a tendency to concentrate on the meanings that such evidence might hold for the strength of their academic debate arguments. For example, news reports of mass starvation might tidy up the "uniqueness of a disadvantage" or bolster the "inherency of an affirmative case" (in the technical parlance of debate-speak). Murchland categorizes cultivation of this "spectator" mentality as one of the most politically debilitating failures of contemporary education: "Educational institutions have failed even more grievously to provide the kind of civic forums we need. In fact, one could easily conclude that the principle purposes of our schools is to deprive successor generations of their civic voice, to turn them into mute and uncomprehending spectators in the drama of political life" (1991, p. 8).

 

Re-conceptualizing debate as a forum for political action allows us to actively shape reality, breaking from the regression of hypothetical discourse. Giving debaters the burden of linking solvency to out-of-round actions avoids normative implications by providing a tool for interacting with the outside world. This argumentative agency paradigm empowers debaters as political agents more effectively than imaginary “fiatâ€

Gordon R. Mitchell [Professor of Communications @ Univ. of Pittsburg. An NDT top speaker now coaches debate at the University of Pittsburgh], “PEDAGOGICAL POSSIBILITIES FOR ARGUMENTATIVE AGENCY IN ACADEMIC DEBATEâ€, Pages 4-5, Argumentation & Advocacy, Vol. 35 Issue 2, Page 44-45, 1998 (HEG)

ARGUMENTATIVE AGENCY In basic terms the notion of argumentative agency involves the capacity to contextualize and employ the skills and strategies of argumentative discourse in fields of social action, especially wider spheres of public deliberation. Pursuit of argumentative agency charges academic work with democratic energy by linking teachers and students with civic organizations, social movements, citizens and other actors engaged in live public controversies beyond the schoolyard walls. As a bridging concept, argumentative agency links decontextualized argumentation skills such as research, listening, analysis, refutation and presentation, to the broader political telos of democratic empowerment. Argumentative agency fills gaps left in purely simulation-based models of argumentation by focusing pedagogical energies on strategies for utilizing argumentation as a driver of progressive social change. Moving beyond an exclusively skill-oriented curriculum, teachers and students pursuing argumentative agency seek to put argumentative tools to the test by employing them in situations beyond the space of the classroom. This approach draws from the work of Kincheloe (1991), who suggests that through "critical constructivist action research," students and teachers cultivate their own senses of agency and work to transform the world around them.

 

 

It's not from 2001 but I think this is the one you are reffering to. My cards are unorganized so if I find the oneyou are reffering to I'll try and post it.

 

 

 

I am perpetually amused how the tags have absolutely nothing to do with the evidence.... and how debaters continue to get away with this in debate because it is now a commonplace activity.

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The first card is tagged wrong because it talks about harms and advantages, not fiat. I don't see any problem with the second card; it's fine. The tags have a lot to do with the evidence, even if they're not great. I think bad tagging is a prevalent problem, but there's not too much wrong with the above cards specifically.

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I tend to agree with Qhaos above.

 

Surely there are copies of these cards on Cross-x that have different tagging....or you can express them in a different way.

 

I don't think that the argument nec. is fiat bad....but way of thinking about fiat or the way of engaging in fiat has on our lives and the way we think about what it means to be political & a human being.

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Since no one has mentioned this yet, I'm going to just leave this here...

 

 

Mitchell now agrees that switch-side policy debate is superior – debate should be protected space for students to take imaginary positions that go against their convictions

 

Mitchell, 02 (11/9/02, Gordon, “[eDebate] Adri and Ross,†http://www.ndtceda.com/pipermail/edebate/2002-November/044264.html)

 

Politically I have moved quite a bit since 1998, when I wrote that debate institutions should pay more attention to argumentative agency, i.e. cultivation of skills that facilitate translation of critical thinking, public speaking, and research acumen into concrete exemplars of democratic empowerment. Back then I was highly skeptical of the "laboratory model" of "preparatory pedagogy," where students were kept, by fiat, in the proverbial pedagogical bullpen. Now I respect much more the value of a protected space where young people can experiment politically by taking imaginary positions, driving the hueristic process by arguing against their convictions. In fact, the integrity of this space could be compromised by "activist turn" initiatives designed to bridge contest round advocacy with political activism. These days I have much more confidence in the importance and necessity of switch-side debating, and the heuristic value for debaters of arguing against their convictions. I think fashioning competitive debate contest rounds as isolated and politically protected safe spaces for communicative experimentation makes sense. However, I worry that a narrow diet of competitive contest round debating could starve students of opportunities to experience the rich political valence of their debating activities. I have preliminary ideas of how to cope with this political conundrum, yet could make great use of follow-on feedback.

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Brad,

 

Great inclusion. He seems to take issue with performance affs which theoretically hurt switch side, than he does with critiques which still say "vote neg." This is not to say he doesn't still criticize or at least modify his view.

 

And....one other thing should also be pointed out. The idea that we are tied to our authors opinions is kind of bunk. Debate couldn't exist as robust, dynamic, and creative as it is, if we were tied to authors absolute conclusions in all cases. Also, the perm would win a lot more in those debate--overwhelming 7 to 12 links with no question.

 

Lets not get it twisted, he doesn't answer the original arguments around paralysis & objectification.

 

I think he makes an interesting, if really under-developed argument. Again, an important inclusion.

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Wrong, and incorrect.

 

In the first card, Mitchell discusses how debaters desensitize and detach themselves from grotesque realities by viewing events through the lens of a competitor instead of a political being. Though he gives decidedly 'policy' examples, there is nothing in his stated logic which would exclude critical discourse from the same criticism. Do you honestly believe that a negative team who observes an affirmative using gendered language doesn't orgasm at the thought of busting out Fem? An aff who uses exploitative rhetoric and the neg ogles the thought of busting out Cap? Please. One can be equally detached on a critical level... and I would contend more so because when doing so on a policy level, it is through ignorance but at the critical level, its through wanton disregard through the masquerade of pretending to be more than one is or advocates.

 

In the second card, it is a mere continuation of the first card. Makes sense given it is from the next page. Mitchell discusses how argumentation can be used to advance sociopolitical agendas, but no where does that exclude discussion of policy. Is your argument that by running a case about how improved roads can improve fuel economy which in turn reduces environmental problems, that one is incapable of advancing a social agenda of a more green economy? So no, there is nothing "critique" friendly about what he discusses.

 

And none of it has anything to do with fiat.

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First off, I did not tag or cut that evidence, it's compiled from several different files (I'm actually pretty sure I ripped it off a Virtual Debate here). I noticed myself the tags are pretty presumptious (at least the first one). Even then, I believe whoever originally tagged it wasn't so much power tagging as much as making logical conclusions based of the claims made within these cards. The tag of the first card takes the claim made within the evidence and applies it to a broader perspective, which isn't necessarily 'wrong'.

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In the first card, Mitchell discusses how debaters desensitize and detach themselves from grotesque realities by viewing events through the lens of a competitor instead of a political being. Though he gives decidedly 'policy' examples, there is nothing in his stated logic which would exclude critical discourse from the same criticism. Do you honestly believe that a negative team who observes an affirmative using gendered language doesn't orgasm at the thought of busting out Fem? An aff who uses exploitative rhetoric and the neg ogles the thought of busting out Cap? Please. One can be equally detached on a critical level... and I would contend more so because when doing so on a policy level, it is through ignorance but at the critical level, its through wanton disregard through the masquerade of pretending to be more than one is or advocates.

 

This is not a reason the tag was incorrect; it is a counterargument to Mitchell's argument as it is sometimes deployed. I agree that lots of critical affirmatives link to Mitchell's argument, but I don't think that all of them do. Traditional debate does do what Mitchell says, whether or not nontraditional debate also does varies based on the qualities of the affirmative case. That means this card is a true and viable argument for some types of critical affirmatives.

 

In the second card, it is a mere continuation of the first card. Makes sense given it is from the next page. Mitchell discusses how argumentation can be used to advance sociopolitical agendas, but no where does that exclude discussion of policy. Is your argument that by running a case about how improved roads can improve fuel economy which in turn reduces environmental problems, that one is incapable of advancing a social agenda of a more green economy? So no, there is nothing "critique" friendly about what he discusses.

 

Mitchell says that debate should be tied to actual actions, as opposed to just thought in itself. He doesn't exclude policy action, I agree. His argument isn't that we should avoid policy action, it's that we should be tying some sort of action to our advocacy no matter what it is, whether that action occurs in political realms like the USFG or less political ones like informal community groups that try to solve problems. K teams that advocate out of round action are supported by Mitchell. Again, the tag of the card is fine.

 

And none of it has anything to do with fiat.

 

The second card is about using debate as a means to political ends, instead of as an end in itself. He suggests that we stop focusing on skill development exclusively and that we start using our existing skills as well, so that we don't become emotionally disconnected from the actual impacts of what we're talking about. The card isn't a criticism of fiat itself, so much as a criticism as the way fiat functions in debate. Fiat is used as an excuse to not take actions, to just think about actions, and the Mitchell card says that is wrong.

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I think Ankur is carving out some interesting distinctions I hadn't heard before....but don't necessarily agree. Interesting none-the-less.

 

To be fair, in his 2002 addendum, he specifically does use the word fiat, which suggests he was indicting the use, approach, or perspective in the first theory (aka so-called reflexive fiat)

 

Back then I was highly skeptical of the "laboratory model" of "preparatory pedagogy," where students were kept, by fiat, in the proverbial pedagogical bullpen.

 

PS. Haven't read Qhaos' post yet.

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