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What really is the ROB?

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So I know that a lot of K folks will read arguments about what the roll of the ballot is -- ontology/epistemology/etc first, and I know that in my 2ac blocks I'm supposed to have framework that says the roll of the ballot/judge (assuming I'm reading a tpd aff) is to evaluate the effects of the implementation of a hypothetical plan text. But, as far as I know, the "actual" rob is affirming the resolution based off whichever team is more convincing.


That said, this is all really shaky in my head. What does it really mean to say that the ballot signifies anything? How does this intersect with arguments about standards -- like, how does an aff being more educational mean that the resolution is true/false? What does it mean to argue that it should be changed, esp. does that affirm the resolution? What about topical counterplans? Is the only point of the resolution to inspire affs and then everything will be determined by the impacts inround?


I guess this probably comes from a lack of understanding of the impacts of standards/pre-fiat stuff on the critical side.


This was probably a lot, any help would be appreciated, I've a lot to learn.


e: I put this in Ks because generally its teams outside of tpd that will make arguments like this (although its just as much if not more about T/theory) -- didn't know quite where it went, hope it's not an issue 

Edited by please

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The role of the ballot is just a way to think about the role of debate itself. There isn't a "real" role of the ballot unless there's a "real" way to debate, which most people agree does not exist. Some people happen to believe that the purpose of debate is to think about hypothetical federal policies. Some people think debate is a place for ethical conversations and subject formation. When debaters argue over what the role of the ballot is, they're really just arguing about what they want debate to be about. This is important, because if I'm defending a hypothetical plan and my opponent argues that debate should be about how we represent the world in our discourse, I'm going to have to justify a model of debate in which it matters that I have a plan which claims to solve for some impacts.


One issue you bring up is topicality. Topicality does regard whether the resolution is true or false because under plan-based debate, the role of the Affirmative is to present and justify a policy plan which proves the resolution to be true. If the resolution says the federal government should reform education, and the Affirmative plan does something that is not topical (like passes a tax reform bill) the resolution hasn't been proven true.


Your question about topical counterplans is an interesting one, and it's something that many people have varying thoughts about. The idea of the Affirmative being able to defend the plan as a specific instance of the resolution is sometimes referred to as "parametricizing" the resolution. Does the Affirmative have to defend every instance of the resolution? Or do they merely have to defend the plan? In the case of a topical counterplan, a different question arises: does the Negative have to disprove the whole resolution, or must they merely negate the specific Affirmative plan? If one argues that the Negative must disprove the whole resolution, the topical counterplan is not a logical argument because it still proves that the resolution is true. If one argues that the Negative must disprove just the Affirmative plan, it makes sense to argue a topical counterplan because it may provide an opportunity cost to the Affirmative.


At its core, the ballot is a way for the judge to signify which side they agree with the most. Some say that the role of the ballot is to "vote for whoever did the better debating." Ultimately, like many other aspects of debate, the role of the ballot is up to the debaters, and to the judge. You should think about what model of debate you want to debate under, and prepare yourself to defend that model of debate.

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