Clarifying CMSDL Argument Limits

This Q. and A. formatted entry is in response to a couple of questions we’ve gotten from coaches asking for clarification of several of the 2013/14 CMSDL Argument Limits.

What arguments can the negative newly initiate in the 2NC?

As determined by the CMSDL Coaches Council last school year, new off-case positions (disadvantages, topicality, counterplan) cannot be presented in the 2NC -– violations result in forfeit. Enforcement of this limit, as with the others clarified below, should be through protest to the tournament director.

New case attacks, however, are runnable in the 2NC. The 2NC can initiate Harms and Solvency take-outs and turns.

What does “Updated Evidence Allowed” mean for the Varsity/JV, beginning at T2?

Beginning at Tournament Two and then for the rest of the year, JV and Varsity teams can research new evidence to use to supplement or even replace the evidence in the CMSDL Core Files. The limitation is that the new evidence they research should be making the same or a similar argument as is in the current files. In other words, allowing middle schoolers to do their own research doesn’t mean that they introduce any new arguments. This would unlimit argumentation in a manner that coaches generally think wouldn’t be educational or fully fair. But they can research new evidence that upgrades the evidence currently in the Core Files, or makes an argument closely related to the argument made by the current evidence.

The CMSDL administration will be inclined not to interpret this restriction on the use of new evidence too narrowly. So, to provide one example: the Politics DA has been dramatically affected by political events of the past six months (at least the amount of time that has passed since the Core Files were written), so both the negative and the affirmative can find new evidence that is in the spirit of the arguments laid out in the Core Files version of these arguments but don’t fit any of the current argument labels exactly. An evidenced argument on the affirmative might be something, for example, that says that the Politics Disadvantage is made non-unique by the difficulties that Obamacare has had in its rollout. This is in the spirit of — but updated from — the Core Files version of the argument. It should go without saying that a team who runs newly researched evidence can have new evidence read in turn against its newly researched argument.

What does “Plus One Previewed New Harms/Solvency per School” mean for the Varsity/JV, beginning at T3?

Before T3 and T4 each school will be able to preview one new advantage (Harms that are solved for by the plan) for one of the Core Files cases. This does not mean that schools can preview an entirely new affirmative case. It means that schools can preview a new advantage to a case currently in the CMSDL Core Files. So schools will not be able to preview a new plan. Schools can be creative, however, about how they link their new advantage to a current plan; for example, some schools might preview a new advantage that argues that a plan that lifted the Cuban sugar embargo would politically undercut the embargo as a whole, leading to big economic advantages to full Cuban-American trade.

Note that negative teams are almost entirely unlimited in their argumentation against teams that run a new, previewed advantage. This means that they can run any case attacks and any disadvantages against these cases. Negatives are still limited to running topicality violations and the counterplan that appear in the CMSDL Core Files.

What does “Unlimited Case Attacks” mean for the Varsity/JV, beginning at T3?

Varsity and JV teams will be entirely unlimited in their case attacks — i.e., Harms and Solvency take-outs and turns — beginning at T3. This means that they can research any new case arguments beginning at T3. It should go without saying that affirmative teams can run any new evidenced arguments against these new case attacks.

Do the CMSDL Argument Limits restrict analytic, non-evidenced arguments?

In short, no. Middle school debaters can make any argument at any time that they think of, they create, that doesn’t have evidence. In debate these are called analytic arguments, and reflect a student’s critical thinking. We would never want to restrict that.

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