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Changing Just This One Word Will Turn Victory Conditions In Your Favor

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Smart debaters tell their judge what needs to happen to win the round, and then spend the debate explaining why they have done it. Things that need to happen to win are called "victory conditions", or "burdens", and they are an important part of framework in a debate. Victory conditions give the judge a simple and clear way to decide the round. For example on resolution regarding taxation, a debater might say "If we can prove that affirming the resolution would negatively affect the bottom 20% of income earners, who are among society's most vulnerable, that is reason enough to negate." This lets the judge know what conditions (harming the bottom 20% of earners) must be met (by the con side's own winning arguments) for the con side to win. In the example above, it is implied that the pro side has the burden of proving the bottom 20% of earners are not harmed by the resolution.

While many debaters have victory conditions in their cases, they are often written in a way that leaves the debaters vulnerable to easy attacks by their opponents. After all, if the opposing team is able to meet the proposed victory conditions, then the opponent will win the round. It is important that debaters are careful to make any burden they give themselves easy to meet, and strategically more difficult for their opponents.

Changing just one word of the burden can give a debater an advantage in the round.

Consider a game where a player flips two coins in a row. The chance of winning the game is adjusted by altering the victory conditions.

In one version, the player wins if the first coin or the second coin land on heads.

In another version, the player wins if the first coin and the second coin land on heads.

Which victory conditions are better for the player?

In the first version, the probability of winning is 75%. In the second version, the probability of winning is 25%. All else being equal, it is easier to do one thing or another thing than it is to do both of those same two things.

In a debate, it is strategic to give the opposing team a more difficult burden to meet while giving one's own team an easier one. Removing "and" from one's own framework and making the victory condition singular or switching it to "or" will make meeting victory conditions much easier. Adding the "and" to an opponent's victory conditions will make it much harder for them, as they must now meet two conditions instead of just one. Both of these things will still need good warrants behind them and must be relevant and consistent within the debate. However, this will make winning the debate much easier. Just remember, be careful not to provide conditions that are too unfair to your opponent, or the judge and opponents might not accept these conditions as valid ways to win the round.

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