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The Recent Plague of Solvency Advocate Theory

Mon, 20 Jan 2014 23:28:31 GMT

Mon, 20 Jan 2014 23:28:31 GMT

The "solvency advocate" theory arg (at least back when I remember it blowing up circa 2009/2010) was basically just a check to ensure that affs that had a specific advocacy were predictable/based in relevant topic literature. You're right that if this is the trick people are using to beat plan affs that they should really just be writing T blocks. Its really not THAT hard. I'd venture to say any decent article that people cut from frequently either spends time defining or references articles that define key terms. Plus a lot of times you can write some half decent disads/case turns from doing T research since authors that spend time clarifying key topic terms do so because they see a really good reason to do so.

Jake Nebel
Mon, 20 Jan 2014 23:38:21 GMT

miss u phelan

Jake Nebel
Tue, 21 Jan 2014 00:02:36 GMT


Jake Nebel
Tue, 21 Jan 2014 00:08:52 GMT

86 anonymous users on the forum... Come out and play!

Adam Tomasi
Tue, 21 Jan 2014 00:27:23 GMT

This article was very informative! Up until now I had simply assumed a solvency advocate entailed an author explicitly advocating for the aff. I think, though, that rather than crafting interps/counter-interps based on what a debater defines a solvency advocate to be (and comparing the definitions, which is what I see is an outcome of your view), the 1AR should say, "I meet. Your interp completely misunderstands what a solvency advocate actually is".

Tue, 21 Jan 2014 02:41:22 GMT

A lack of solvency author should be a topicality argument? It seems to me that a lack of solvency author should be answered as by saying that no one agrees that the affirmative plan would solve the harms of the affirmative. No need for any theory.

Chris Theis
Tue, 21 Jan 2014 02:49:27 GMT

Bietz, I think you are missing the point a little bit. Scott is saying that solvency advocate theory is being used by negatives to exclude affs that they do not have answers to. In fact, at VBT there were times that teams had tons of solvency evidence that was specific to the plan and agent, but were losing on theory because there was not a card that said "I advocate [insert exact plan text]." Scott is just saying that those arguments are silly and rely on a misunderstanding of the term and its purpose. So, if negs legitimately think an aff is too unpredictable or whatever, they should make a T argument, instead of relying on a solvency advocate argument that doesn't make much sense.

Tue, 21 Jan 2014 02:56:19 GMT

How does having a solvency advocate make a case any less predictable? There are about 160 developing countries. Many probably have dozens of scholars that write about their lack of develop-ed-ness. Having an author suddenly makes you predictable? That being said, the fact that most are interpreting the resolution as having to be 2 or more nations doing the plan could really limit the resolution in requiring an advocate. BTW: for the sake of clarity, what do people mean when they say "solvency advocate?"

Tue, 21 Jan 2014 06:38:35 GMT

You'd have to ask Neil Conrad (or perhaps Jake or Chris would know) but my guess is the idea for needing a solvency advocate came out of a lot of policy theory literature on Counterplans (in particular the oft used Strait and Wallace article that I know has made its rounds through LD and Ross Smith's article on International Counterplans). The idea was that any number of potential counterplans were being developed in policy that were not grounded in the literature (eg one could not find comparative literature discussing the merits of say the US taking an action vs the EU taking that same action). The consequence being there wasn't comparative evidence between the plan and the CP (eg no evidenced solvency deficits) nor an analysis of the consequences of the CP vs the plan (eg no evidenced disads). Obviously in policy the idea of an aff needing a solvency advocate was never really a question since they had to show solvency for their harms and the standard was high enough that this wasn't really a deal. Neil's original standard from my memory was that there needed to be a n advocate with an advanced degree in a relevant field writing in a peer reviewed publication about the necessity of the aff. Obviously the level of detail on that last clause is up for interpretation, but the fundamental premise is that debaters should base advocacies out of the topic literature as opposed to just a listing of harms and some vague advocacy that could be construed as addressing it. I haven't been to a tournament in about a half year and haven't judged LD in about 2 years, but from the sound of it, this argument has been extrapolated to try and limit out any affs that don't lift an advocacy text from the literature (eg they cant point to a card that says do the plan). The problem with this is that in most cases, debaters cannot/do not go into the same level of detail in their advocacies as scholars/real policymakers do. There's obviously a point where someone is bending the standard here a little bit, but the basic idea is that advocacies should be as synthesis from the literature and should represent the basic claims staked out by scholars/advocate in the field. My gut instinct on this topic is that there should be a discussion of the environmental consequences of resource extraction in a particular nation. I think the author's point re: T arguments is that people are trying to limit the topic the wrong way. This seems like an incredibly massive topic, and there should be an honest attempt to figure out what limits can be placed. i'd guess that resource extraction could be limited in any number of ways and that in conflict could be interpreted in a couple ways that dramatically change the scope of the topic. People should look there instead of trying to create bizarre evidentiary standards. The other thing is that the biggest difference between LD and Policy in terms of topics isn't really the timeframe but the level of preparation in creating a topic. Fairly substantial papers are written outlining policy topics and someone has done a good amount of basic research (the findings of which are made public) way ahead of time. At the NDT/CEDA level, there's a whole separate process once a controversy has been chosen to figure out what the wording of the topic should be. Obviously given the frequency in topic changes in LD it might not be feasible to do that amount of work for each topic proposal, but the solution to poor topic wording lies in better topic research, not in theory arguments.

Jake Nebel
Tue, 21 Jan 2014 11:16:42 GMT

*RE: Phelan's Origin story about this piece of ideology in LD.* What Neil and I meant was that someone has to have defended your advocacy in some published literature (although I think Phelan has indeed memorized every specification that Neil added to it). This seemed like a minimal qualification of a predictable plan or counterplan. For if you can't show that someone in the literature has defended this before, then how should the neg be expected to prepare against it? At the time, we did believe that the solvency advocate should have defended the entirety of the aff advocacy. I believe the complaint was often raised in Policy when the plan did a bunch of very different things, with no one person advocating all of them collectively. I'm not sure I agree with that: why isn't having each part based in the literature sufficient evidence of the predictability of the whole thing (assuming it's topical etc.)? *RE: solvency advocate and T.* I don't think having or lacking a solvency advocate is evidence that bears on whether the plan is topical. You could have a plan that i s clearly topical, but which no one has ever defended before. And you could have a solvency advocate for a plan that is clearly not topical (e.g., if someone runs a plan about drug courts on this topic—lots of solvency advocates, but not topical). So I think solvency advocate theory is an independent theory argument. I think it's clearly a _worse_ argument than T, and it's worse to debate. It's a worse argument for the reasons Scott mentioned. But another reason comes through when you understand predictability as a scalar concept—i.e., some advocacy may be more or less predictable. Impact comparison occurs at the margin, right? So instead of framing it in terms of what's necessary or sufficient for a plan to be predictable, let's just ask how much _more_ predictable a plan is by virtue of having a solvency advocate. And as Bietz said, the answer may be not much at all. (I can see some ways in which it's much more predictable. But I think in LD we kind of use 'predictable' as a term of art. By 'predictable,' I mean how reasonable it is to expect that someone should have prepared for it. I think it has some normative content when you say that some advocacy is unpredictable: you might in fact have predicted it, but you ought not to have been expected to prepare for it.) Now, if you compare the extent to which not having a solvency advocate makes your plan less predictable to the extent to which being _not topical_ makes your plan less predictable, I think the winner's in the T corner. Why is it worse to debate? Well, it just doesn't require much skill or knowledge to be able to point out that there's no solvency advocate and then give some reasons why that's important. And the answers back and forth may be a mostly verbal dispute about what 'solvency advocate' means. That's not an interesting or important debate, because we can use technical terms like that however we wish, as long as we make them clear. (So I disagree with Adam's strategy of saying, "I meet: you misunderstand what a solvency advocate it." Because there's not really an important fact about what the phrase 'solvency advocate' means. The neg should just Find-Replace their uses of that technical phrase with 'shmolvency advocate,' which is a new technical term that they get to define.) But I think debaters can learn a lot by preparing really deep T arguments. I think T helps students develop a lot of important skills, including research, noticing subtle distinctions, and weighing the strengths and weaknesses of evidence.