Debate Class: Check these Three Remaining Strategies
In the first part of this article, you’ve already learned which arguments you should prioritize in your rebuttal and one advanced strategy you can use when rebutting arguments. The next rebuttal strategy we are going to talk about is flipping your opponent’s impacts.
The first way to do this is by arguing that the harm your opponents claimed happens as a result of your case, is actually more applicable to their case. For example, on the motion this house believes that countries should eliminate their arsenals of nuclear weapons,” if the government made an argument about nuclear proliferation causing war, Opposition could turn this impact by arguing:
Judge, the Government team claimed that they will reduce the chances of war. However, war is actually more likely on the GOV side when we ban nuclear weapons for two reasons. Reason number one: Lack of deterrence meaning it’s less risky for countries to go to war, and reason number two: non-compliance of rogue states means that they will keep their nuclear weapons arsenals.
This effectively makes the Government team’s second argument a harm on their side.
The second way to turn an impact is to argue that an opponent’s benefit happens on your side of the house as well. On the same motion, if the Government team argues that banning nuclear weapons will save money, the Opposition could respond with:
Judge, the Government team claimed that countries will save money by eliminating their arsenals of nuclear weapons. However, nuclear weapons themselves actually save money because, first, they are less expensive than conventional weapons. Second, countries can decrease the size of their armies if they have nuclear weapons. So, if we care about saving money, that happens more on our side of the House.
The third strategy is adding multiple layers of rebuttal. This means your rebuttal point should not only include one response but multiple responses, forcing your opponents to do a lot more work to try and rebuild their argument. The “even if” method can be very helpful here.
Let’s take the motion like “This House would break up Disney.” Opening Government says:
Disney should be broken up into multiple companies so that we allow for more competition in children’s entertainment. The more competition there is, the better movies, toys, and cartoons for kids to enjoy.
How can you rebut this argument from Opening Opposition? You can firstly say that more competition doesn’t mean better movies or cartoons, because smaller companies will have smaller budgets to invest in these movies. They will have less know-how, fewer creators, and fewer directors, which will make these cartoons and movies have lower quality. This might sound something like this:
I have three layers of rebuttal to Opening Government’s argument about creating more competition. First, even if we have more companies, children still love classic Disney stories more than any of the others, so breaking up the company and creating more cartoons doesn’t mean that these cartoons will get any followings, especially given the cultural impact of old Disney characters. Second, movie fans often love buying merchandise specific to these movies. Disney has the money because of that to research, invest in, and develop these new products for children, while smaller companies will have to start from scratch. Third, since these new small companies will have fewer resources, they won’t be able to take risks and will likely just copy successful characters and movies, which means more of the same but of lower quality. Thus, even if there will be more competition, it won’t be beneficial for children’s entertainment.
When you provide multiple layers, your opponents will have to “peel” your rebuttal layer by layer, which not only takes away a lot of their time but also makes your position more convincing to the judge.
Last but not least, remember that even if you can’t find any problems with your opponents’ argument or any way to use it against them and to your advantage – you can always turn to weighing. Weighing is a great strategy that you can and should always use, but it is especially useful when your opponents did an excellent job. This requires you to explain why your argument or your case is overall more important and should be prioritized over your opponents’ cases or arguments, even if they were proven to be true and impactful. Key questions you want to ask yourself when weighing include:
· Who is affected and how, on both sides?
· Who or what do we care about more in this debate?
· Does this argument help or hurt them?
For example, on the motion, “This House would ban fuel-powered cars in city centers,” your opponents have made a great argument and proven that without cars, air pollution levels will drop and consequently, people will live longer. You argued that without cars, the city’s economy will weaken significantly, making it impossible for people to find jobs or socialize with others. Since you cannot really say that as cars are banned, pollution levels will still stay the same, it is much better to prove why the economic impact of this change will be much bigger on the citizens than its health impact.
Let’s recap! In this article, you first learned that when rebutting, you must prioritize arguments with the largest impact or impacts that are more likely to happen, arguments that directly clash with your case, and arguments that could determine the winner. You’ve also learned four advanced rebuttal strategies – using your opponents’ logic in your favor, flipping your opponents’ impacts, making a multi-layered rebuttal, and weighing.
Now go engage with your opponents and win the round!