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How to Debate Framework

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Introduction to Framework Transcript:

Hello, I’m Nikko and welcome to Debate Clash. In this video we’ll be going over what framework is and how it functions in a Public Forum Debate round. Let’s move get right into it.

What is framework and why is it important?

Framework is the lens the judge looks through to evaluate a debate round and determine a winner.

To better explain let’s take a look at what goes through a judge’s mind when they enter a debate round. They read the ballot and it says, “The better debating was done by *blank*.” Okay, well how do I determine who debated better?

Framework answers this question by specifying exactly how a winner is decided. I might say, “Our framework is whichever team reduces the deficit the most should win the round.” Or “Whoever stimulates the economy the most should win.”

This is the power of Framework. You essentially get to re-write the ballot and define your own rules for winning.

The framework you propose only needs to contain 2 parts. The first is how the judge should evaluate the round – the rules. And the second is why the judge should use your framework – the warrant.

Now let’s jump into the next section describing why we use framework at all.

Why do we have Framework?

There are several reasons we have framework. The first is to make the round more predictable.

Before anyone introduces a framework the judge evaluates the round through this arbitrary lense of “Whoever convinces me wins the round.” That is immensely unpredictable and forces the judge to put their own bias into the decision making process.

Imagine for a moment you’re watching the final round at a debate tournament. The aff wins some arguments and the neg wins some arguments. Each judge will then just vote for their favorite arguments. If there isn’t a clear framework there also isn’t a clear winner.

It’s like if we were playing a weird monopoly and I ended up with $10,000 US Dollars and my opponent ended up with $10,000 euros. The rules don’t tell us which currency is worth more therefore the winner is randomly chosen. At the beginning of the game I should have proposed that US Dollars should be worth more.

Another reason we use frameworks is because we use them in our daily lives. Let’s say my life proposed a resolution that was, “Resolved: Nikko should go into the medical field rather than the IT field.”

In order to determine my decision on this resolution I need to choose what lense to observe it from. If the framework told me to prioritize money I might go into the medical field. If the framework evaluated what I like doing I would probably choose the IT field. There’s also a lot of other framework I could use, do I want to prioritize shorter more instantaneous results, maybe the less risky approach, the one that gives me more freedom, takes less time, or provides me the best title to flaunt around.

These are all different frameworks. My first impression of the resolution “Nikko should go into the medical field rather than the IT field” is well whichever field is better should win. I need to determine what I want before making a decision.

Applying this to a debate round, you need to tell the judge what the resolution wants, what are we striving for in this debate?

We all subconsciously need and utilize frameworks in our daily lives. It seems only appropriate to incorporate this into the strategic world of debate.

What happens in the framework debate?

The affirmative proposes a framework that says, “we should look to the short term consequences of our actions.” The negative then stands up and says, “we should look to the long term consequences of our actions.” What happens now?

What happens at this point is you get to actually debate which framework you should use for the round.

So here are some of the arguments you can make to win the framework debate.

The most popular arguments use the resolution itself to prove your framework. I call these resolution specific arguments. For example if the resolution was, “The United States Federal Government should end food stamps.” And your framework said, “whichever team protects and helps the citizens the most should win.”

Your resolution specific framework argument could then say, “The US Government’s duty is to protect and help its citizens. Because the resolution is asking us what the Federal Government should do we should use the government’s mindset or purpose as a framework for the round.”

There are also arguments that observe the internal effects that the framework would have on the round. These take into account attributes such as fairness of the round or the limits that this places on each team.

As previously mentioned the framework writes the rules for how to win the debate. If these rules are unfair or give a team an advantage then they probably shouldn’t be used. I like to refer to these as internal framework arguments.

For example, if the resolution was,”Resolved: Standardized Testing is beneficial to education in the United States” and my opponents on the negative said, “The resolution is an absolute statement. Testing is beneficial to all education in the US. Therefore if we as the negative can prove 1 instance of testing that isn’t beneficial we should win.”

I would argue that this framework where they just have to prove one instance to win is extremely unfair because even if we prove that 99.9% of schools that have standardized testing benefit from it we would still lose the debate round.

This also forces us into a defensive position. Under their framework nothing that we do or say matters unless it is directly refuting one of the instances they attack us with. These limits are drastically unfair. We are playing a game of soccer and they just created the rule that we can’t leave the goalie box.

If the rules are unfair we shouldn’t be using them.

These can be used to attack your opponent’s framework as shown in the previous example, but they should also be used to support your own framework. After you propose your framework let the judge know that your framework is best for the resolution and is fair for both sides.

And finally there are external framework arguments that take into account the effects that a framework would have on us, the debate community, or the world. For example you might run into a debate team that tries to be tricky and runs a framework that proclaims that Human Extinction or War is a good thing.

You can make external framework arguments saying there framework destroys the education of debate because they aren’t clashing with our arguments and its unrealistic. In real life we would never implement a policy with the goal of killing everyone in the world.

In fact if my principal came in to watch this round and saw that the winner was determined by whoever kills the most people our debate program would be shutdown immediately. It destroys the educational atmosphere of debate and if they continue to run this it could shut down other debate teams. Because of these reasons, don’t use their framework to weigh the round.

Keep in mind that an experienced judge generally evaluates the round in 2 parts. They say, which framework should I look at the round with? Okay, the affirmative convinced me to prioritize short term consequences.

Now I can look at the round and see which side provides the best short term consequences. Remember that it is possible for the judge to use your framework to weigh the round, but then vote for the other team.

How do you construct a good framework?

The golden question. How do you create an effective framework?

I believe the best frameworks are those that support your case, nullify your opponent’s arguments, and are easy to defend.

You should constantly be thinking about your framework as you outline and construct your case. If your framework prioritizes short term consequences make sure that your case is riddled with points that have short term benefits.

Some teams prefer to write their cases and then add a framework others prefer to write a framework and then create a case around it. Ultimately it’s up to your discretion which you choose, but make sure your points fit with your framework.

Nullifying your opponent’s arguments is also something you need to take into account. Let’s say the resolution is “The United States should reduce its deficit.” You know for a fact that the affirmative will be making arguments that in the long run the deficit will produce some exceptionally bad results.

By running the framework, “We should evaluate short term consequences.” It destroys all of their arguments that talk about bad results in the future.

And finally you want to make sure you can defend your framework. You should be able to prove to the judge that your framework is supported by the resolution, and is internally, and externally beneficial.

If your framework is bulletproof, nullifies your opponent’s arguments, and supports your own you should have no difficulties winning.

Debate is all about learning what you don’t know, if you have a question about a word I used or a concept you didn’t understand completely please ask in the comment section below.

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1 Comment

  1. 11/30/2016 at 3:28 PM —

    I’m a Public Forum novice with little experience in framework, and I want to know where I should put a framework argument. Which speech should it be in, and should it be in the beginning or the end? If anyone has an answer to this, please reply and let me know.

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