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Frameworks Wide and Narrow (Part III) by Jake Nebel
People have asked me why I think a wide framework is a good strategy. I understand their confusion, since preclusive standards have such obvious strategic merits that may never seem worth sacrificing. I don't think a wide framework is always strategic, but its strategic virtues include the following:
1. You can avoid many objections to theories that are entirely outcome-based or entirely rule-based. Under a wide framework, you can sometimes just "no link" these objections, and other times you can just concede the objections and impact to your standard in the means-based or ends-based way that the objections permit. If your position's offense includes both kinds of impacts, you can win this time tradeoff.
2. Your framework can be both shorter and more difficult to answer. Shorter, because it takes less time to establish that something is valuable (e.g., human dignity) than to establish that we must treat that value in only one specific way (e.g., maximizing it). More difficult to answer, for two reasons. First, some of the objections which you can avoid are the strongest ones. There are more and better objections to the view that we are always obligated to maximize the sum total of wellbeing in the universe (e.g., anti-aggregation, repugnant conclusion) than there are to the view that wellbeing is intrinsically good. Second, you will often have access to better arguments for the standard. There are good topic-specific reasons why the criminal justice system should care about consistency, which do not say that consistency is the only thing that matters, or that consistency is only valuable as a means-based constraint rather than an end.
3. Framework debate on the national circuit today is, by and large, pretty bad in a few ways. Let me preface my explanation by saying: it's really good in the sense that it's impressive that debaters are familiar with philosophical arguments that they might otherwise not encounter -- although it's unclear how much that's due to reading and research, as opposed to merely recycling. :( But it's bad in that it's often a battle of competing assertions, bastardizations, implausible claims, and lines and arrows. The cards are often read way too fast for someone who's never heard them to understand them -- a practice which judges shouldn't accept, even if they understand the cards after much repetition. The arguments are rarely tailored to the topic, they usually trade off with substantive argumentation, and the weighing debate is often just rhetoric and sophistry. My point is that you can please your judges and win their ballots by making plausible framework arguments that are germane to the resolution's context, reflect the philosophical literature more accurately, and return the debate to the resolution's conflict scenario. Even if you don't share these complaints, you should agree that a lot of judges are reasonably frustrated about framework debate in the status quo.
4. Wide frameworks increase your flexibility in the rebuttals. In a plan debate, why have more than one impact scenario? Because you can weigh between the scenarios and prioritize the advantages in the 1AR. The same flexibility comes with wide frameworks. You can weigh between your contentions in the rebuttal with philosophical argumentation. Of course, the negative can start the weighing debate early -- and you can preempt it with weighing arguments in the AC. But that's also true for policy affirmatives with multiple advantages. This strategy is, in functional terms, no different.
I think the above considerations show that wide frameworks have a strategic place in LD, without giving an illegitimate advantage to one side.