Case construction
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Case Construction. A Brief Roadmap. Before you start writing your case… Affirmative Case Setup Negative Case Setup. Step 1: Read and Think!. Before you ever put pen to paper, browse the literature Google Lexis Search Go to the Library

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Case Construction

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Case Construction


A Brief Roadmap

  • Before you start writing your case…

  • Affirmative Case Setup

  • Negative Case Setup


Step 1: Read and Think!

  • Before you ever put pen to paper, browse the literature

    • Google

    • Lexis Search

    • Go to the Library

      The point is to get an idea of what others have to say on the topic.


Step 2: Brainstorm!

  • Make a t-chart, or a flow chart, etc.

  • Keep your thoughts organized

    • This means “aff ideas” get put together and “neg ideas” get put together.

    • Keeping your ideas separate will minimize headaches.


Affirmative Outline

  • There are many things affirmatives can do. The only thing they must do is prove the resolution is true.

  • We’ll go over strategies tomorrow, but for now we are going to simply look at what things should go in your case, and in what order those things should go.


Affirmative “Ingredients”

  • Your case must have:

    • Restatement of the topic

    • Definitions

    • Value/Standard Set-Up

    • Arguments (Contentions and/or subpoints)

  • Your case might have:

    • Observations and/or Burdens


Aff Step 1: Definitions

  • As the affirmative you get to set up the initial “framework” for the round.

    • What does the topic mean?

    • What arguments should the judge consider based on the words in the resolution?

    • What arguments should the judge ignore?


Aff Step 1: Definitions

  • The way primary way to set up this “framework” is by defining key PHRASES in the resolution.

  • Do NOT NOT NOT define each word in isolation. Instead define words in “functional groups”.


Aff Step 1: Definitions

  • A “functional group” is a block of words that all work together.

  • For example: If the topic is _____________________________


Aff Step 1: Definitions

  • You would NOT want to define each word individually. Individually the words are not that important. What’s more important is how the words interact with each other.

  • You would want to define these PHRASES:


Aff Step 1: Definitions

  • Once you’ve figured out what phrases you should define, in a few words jot down what you think the phrase means.

  • If appropriate, write down what the phrase does not mean.


Aff Step 2: Arguments

  • Generally your affirmative will have 2 “contentions”. These are your two general reasons you want to use to prove the resolution is true.

  • Look at your brainstorm chart. What are your strongest arguments? What arguments will you have the easiest time explaining in 15-20 seconds?


Aff Step 2: Arguments

  • When you’re doing your outline, you want to make sure that you include a basic idea of what all will go into your argument.

  • Claim - what do you want to prove

  • Warrant - why is it true

  • Impact - why does it matter if it’s true


Aff Step 3: Value/Criterion

  • This is the last thing you want to set up. Again, we’re minimizing headaches.

  • The point of the value criterion is to tell the judge HOW they will evaluate arguments.


Step 3: Value/Criterion

  • The VALUE is the overarching principle the resolution is addressing. Typically it’s either justice or morality.

  • 99% of the time the value will be explicitly stated in the resolution.

  • Don’t worry about defining your value yet. Just identify it.


Step 3: Value/Criterion

  • The CRITERION (aka STANDARD) establishes a “rule” for determining if the value is a word that can describe something.

  • Morality and justice are pretty vauge, and both “beg the question”. (What IS morality? What IS justice?)


Step 3: Value/Criterion

  • Even a definition of justice as generally accepted as ‘giving each their due’ begs the question, “What are people due?”

  • A Standard can be thought of as a specification or identification of something that people are - or are not - due. (Or a specific quality that indicates morality/immorality.)


Step 3: Value/Criterion

  • What is your standard? Look at your arguments. Specifically, look at your impacts.

  • If you think your arguments prove the resolution true for reason X, then X is your standard.


Step 4: Consistency Check

  • Once you’ve got your outline, make sure everything “jives”.


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