Communication 48C:074 Argumentation and Debate

go to weekly reading and assignment list

Professor Palczewski, Lang 341: 273-2714

Weds 6:00 - 8:50pm, Lang 346

Fall 2003 office hours: Tues: 1:30-3:30

I also will be in my office with previously scheduled student meetings at the following times. If you have a quick question, feel free to call or drop by:

Tues: 11-11:30, 1-1:30

Thurs: 11-11:30, 1-1:30  

If none of these times work, feel free to email or call for an appointment  

email Cate at:

changes in the syllabus will be noted in pink

Description: This class examines argument both as a form and as a competitive process. We will examine:

1) how an argument is structured,

2) how the location from which one argues affects how the argument itself is constructed,

3) the role of argument in public policy debate,

4) how emerging communication technologies enable and restrict citizens' ability to engage in public argument, and

5) the formal aspects of practicing, judging and coaching competitive debate.

The course should teach you not only how to construct and present your own arguments, but also how to construct and critique public argument.


Reading: Winkler, Newnam, & Birdsell Lines of Argument: Core Volume and For Policy Debate


Class topic:

Resolved: that the United States Federal Government should enact one or more of the following:

Withdrawal of its World Trade Organization complaint against the European Union's restrictions on genetically modified foods;

A substantial increase in its government-to-government economic and/or conflict prevention assistance to Turkey and/or Greece;

Full withdrawal from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization;

Removal of its barriers to and encouragement of substantial European Union and/or North Atlantic Treaty Organization participation in peacekeeping in Iraq and reconstruction in Iraq;

Removal of its tactical nuclear weapons from Europe;

Harmonization of its intellectual property law with the European Union in the area of human DNA sequences;

Rescission of all or nearly all agriculture subsidy increases in the 2002 Farm Bill.


General Information: See my website ( for general course and university policies. Any major changes in the syllabus will be posted on the website.


Requirements: All assignments should be typed and are due at the beginning of class. If you have experience in competitive debate, please see me about alternative assignments

1. Short assignments: [5 @ 2 points each = 10 points] no more than one page each. These are to be used to stimulate class discussion and to help you internalize readings. You may be asked to present your assignment in class. These assignments are simply to indicate that you are making practical application of what you read. It would be wise to use these in preparation for your paper and debate. Please turn in copies of all articles used. Also, for all evidence, use correct debate citation format: link to citation format.

A. diagram an argument using the Toulmin model: Sept. 3

For this assignment, find an article about the US/EU topic. Within the article, find one example of an argument and diagram it. You can follow the format in the book, or the drawn diagram I used in class. Identify the claim, data and warrant by quoting the part of the passage that functions as each one. If the argument is an enthymeme, then indicate how the author wants you to fill in the missing parts by writing out what you think makes sense, and placing it in parentheses. Attach a copy of the article from which you took the example.

B. create a preliminary bibliography for your policy paper and debate: Sept 17. A research checklist is attached here.

1. You ought to start working on this now, collecting bib printouts as well as articles. For the assignment, all you will need to turn in are printouts of the bibliographies (the results from your searches). DO NOT type up the bib, just use computer printouts. I am looking to see that you have conducted a thorough search, using multiple subject lines within each database. For example, if doing a search on GMOs in Infotrac, I would expect subject searches on the following: GMOs, WTO, agricultural trade.

2. Next week, I want us to, as a class, discuss which research areas on which to focus for affirmative cases. Thus, you will need to have read some articles about your areas. Try and determine if anyone advocates the action described in the resolution. Try and find out what problem is solved by that action. Try and figure out if the action is desireable.

3. For the bib assignment, you CAN split research responsibilities with the other person assigned to your area. Feel free to use the listserv to find and talk to your research buddy.

The following are the research assignments (some of these folks may have dropped -- if they were not in class last night, I indicated "dropped?" next to their name):

Negtive only -- GMOs: Rachelle and Rachel

Negtive only -- NATO: Heidi and Joel

Negtive only -- Tactical nuclear weapons: Erin (dropped?) and Rod (dropped?)

Aff and Neg -- Farm Bill: Kevin, _______ and Rachelle

Negtive only -- DNA: Ashley and Kris

Aff and Neg -- Turkey & Greese: Danielle, Molly, Rachel

Aff and Neg -- Iraq: Ryan, Rebecca and Kris

If you are a lone person on an assignment, you will need to do the research checklist attached to the bib (I added date restrictions on each type of database to the list to help guide you).

If you split the assignment, add an additional 1-2 years to each search. Meaning, if you are doing General News, go back to January 2002, not just Jan 2003. If you are doing Law Reviews, go back to 2000, not just 2002.

The way I recommend splitting the assignment, in order for work to be most equitable is as follows.

Person 1: Lexis Nexis and Books (this search produces more but is faster)

Person 2: Project Muse, Infotrac, web search, PAIS, and specific databases (this search may produce less, but is more time intensive)

C. sample of solvency or topicality argument: Sept. 24

You should find one piece of evidence on solvency or topicality. It can be affirmative or negative.

To complete the assignment, you should do the following.

1. indicate if the evidence is aff or neg.
2. tag the evidence, with an explanation of how it would be used in the debate
3. cite the evidence, using the form discussed in class and linked to the syllabus.
4. paste the cut out quotation on the page.

So, the page you turn in should look like this:

your name
aff or neg/solvency or topicality
tag: 2-3 word tag, 5-10 word explanation
quotation . . . . . .

If you have questions, email.

You only need to find one piece of evidence. It ought to be on the topic area you are researching.

D. sample of counterplan: Oct 1

You should find one piece of evidence, either to support the CP or to answer it. If your evidence is in support of a CP, the assignment should also include an outline of all of the component parts of a CP, inserting the evidence into the part of the outline where it belongs. If your evidence answers a CP, you should also include a list of other possible types of answers, inserting the evidence where it fits. Follow the format outlined for assignment C.

E. text of a submission to an electronic discussion forum: Dec 10

You will need to turn in two items for this assignment: 1) an advocacy statement and 2) a reflection paper. First, for the statement, you are to submit an actual advocacy statement to some public forum -- this can be a letter to the newspaper, a contribution to an on-line discussion group, a letter to a congressperson, etc. Please make a copy of whatever you wrote and turn it into me, along with some proof of submission. The statement should be no longer that 1 single spaced typed page. It can be about any of the topics researched this semester. Second, you should turn in a 3 page long reflection paper. The paper should discuss: 1) how you chose the location for advocacy, 2) the argumentative choices you made when writing the statement, and 3) how this form of advocacy differed from your participation in debates. In other words, you are actually making a statement of belief, and asking others to really act on it. How is this different from the type of advocacy done in debates?

2. Policy paper: [15 points] 15 pages. This paper should take one of the controversial issues examined in class and examine it from all sides. The paper should be divided equally among the sides and your resolution of the controversy. If there are two sides, then the page division is 5 to each side and five to your resolution. If there are three sides, then 3.75 pages to each side and 3.75 to your resolution. (The resolution section should be used as the draft for assignment (1E).) Each of the sections will be weighted equally. This will be used as preparation for the debates. Heavy emphasis will be placed on the quality of the research used in the paper. The following is a rough approximation of the type and number of resources that should appear in the bibliography:

Newspapers: 20
Mass circulation periodicals: 10
Specialized journals: 15
Books: 2
Websites: 5

Your essay should contain quotations from all types of sources if you want your research to be positively assessed. ***Due November 24, by 5:00pm. If Cate is not around, have the main office date and tme them and place them in my mailbox***

Format advice:

Most people end up dividing the paper into three 5 page parts (although if you want to get radical, you can do more than 3 parts). Remember to follow general paper rules: double-spaced, typed, normal margins, proofread, etc.

Begin with a 1page introduction &endash; that introduces the WHOLE paper, not just the aff. The intro should lay out the core points of disagreement to be addressed, and explain any complexities. Remember, you can write the paper on any of the topic actions you want, not just the ones we have debated in class.

The first 5 pages lay out the affirmative arguments. You should follow the general outline for policy arguments: describing a problem, explaining why your plan is necessary to fix the problem, specifying your plan, and then explaining how your plan fixes the problem. You will also want to include a section on desirability. Unlike a debate, where there are multiple speeches and you cannot always predict what the other side will say, you DO know what the main arguments for and against a given policy action are. So, make sure you defend the affirmative against all the arguments you are likely to make in the next section. This also means you will need to think about which arguments to include in each of the stock issue subsections. If the negative section presents a counterplan, then you will want to make sure there are specific answers to it in the inherency section. Of course, remember to spend time making a prima facie case before moving to the defensive arguments. When writing defensive arguments, you can say something like (transitioning here from solvency to desirability):

Withdrawl from NATO carries with it many benefits. However, some argue those benefits are not worth the military disruption caused by the transition away from a collective security agreement. Our position is that withdrawl will not cause significant alliance disruption and, even it is does, the benefits outweigh the costs. &endash; and then go on to develop those two arguments.

The second section of the paper should lay out all the negative arguments. You do not need to answer every stock issue. Instead, you should pick and choose your strongest arguments, and spend time developing them. You should follow a parallel structure to the affirmative section (skipping any stock issues you decide not to discuss). And, again, if there are strong affirmative arguments, you need to work in answers to them. So, for example, if you decide to argue that NATO withdrawl will increase nuclear proliferation, and that is bad, you will need to work into your desirability position an answer to the argument that vertical proliferation is good.

In the final 4 pages, you evaluate all the arguments, and come to a conclusion about whether you think support of the policy action is warranted or not. In other words, as a result of all your research, what have you concluded based on the research? In many ways, in the final 4 pages you will write a ballot. You should work through each stock issue and indicate which side has the stronger evidence and more reasonable position. You must make a decision about which side has stronger arguments. Do you think we should take the action or not? And, as a bit of advice, it is highly unlikely that you will decide one side has won all the arguments on every issue. Instead, you will need to recognize give and take.

Style advice:

1) There is no "right" answer. Depending on your research, you can come to different conclusions. A person who says the aff is right can get the same grade as the person who says the neg is right.

2) Avoid too much jargon. Ideally, you can use this paper as a writing sample in your portfolio (you'll develop one in senior seminar class). Write this paper as though your audience were educated citizens, considering whether to support a policy or not. Some debate jargon is acceptable, but do not write a sentence like: "you cannot link turn a unique DA" without explaining what that means.

3) Do not use straw person arguments. I will be looking to see that you present the strongest possible arguments on both sides. This means you should include the strongest evidence in your paper (you will not have space to include all of it, so you have to choose which evidence you think is best). I want you to work through a real debate, where both sides have good points, and come to a conclusion.

4) Organize the bibliography alphabetically within type. So, have a section on newspapers, then a new section on specialized journals, etc. This does NOT mean you have to cite everything in the bibliography. Instead, always cite the BEST evidence. However, before you can decide which evidence is best, you need to explore a range of sources. Include all research in the bib, not just that which was cited.

5) Use appropriate paper citation format (APA or MLA).

6) Introduce quotations. Do not just plop a quote into the middle of a paragraph. Instead, introduce and qualify who says the quote, and then point the reader to the core idea. For longer quotes, single space and block ident.

7) Paraphrase or quote sentence segments when possible. You will not have enough space to include all the quotations at full length. Thus, paraphrase most of the quote and only exactly quote the most relevant segment of the quotation. It would look like this:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Science, a United Nations sponsored group of the world's foremost climate scientists, has concluded that warming is happening and is primarily influenced by human actions. After reviewing satellite data, sea-ice, overall global temperatures, and tides, they have concluded that the changes in global temperatures will result in "global changes in soil moisture, an increase in global mean sea level, and prospects for more sever extreme high-temperature events, floods and droughts in some places" (IPCC, The regional Impacts 1).

The end results of these climate changes are deaths from flooding, famine from food shortages, and catastrophic storms. As blah explains. . . . .

8) Use subtitles, but not jargon. Thus "Affirmative" is a bad subtitle. "The Case for NATO Withdrawl" is a better one.

3. Policy debate: [15 points] Each person will participate in at least one debate. You will be evaluated on the basis of delivery, research, critical thinking, and engagement with argument. Debates will occur on October 22, 29 and November 5, 12, 19. Sign-up sheets will be distributed later in the semester.

Preliminary time limits for the debate speeches

1ac: 7 minutes
2nc cx of 1ac: 2 minutes
1nc: 7 minutes
1ac cx of 1nc: 2 minutes
2ac: 7 minutes
1nc cx of 2ac: 2 minutes
2nc: 7 minutes
2ac cx of 2nc: 2 minutes
1nr: 4 minutes
1ar: 4 minutes
2nr: 4 minutes
2ar: 4 minutes

each team gets 5 minutes prep to use throughout the debate


4. Policy debate evaluation: [15 points] You will be asked to judge all debates in which you do not participate. You will be graded on the quality of your flow, your ability to analyze the argumentation, and the quality of criticisms offered to the debaters. Debates will occur on October 22 and 29 and November 5, 12, 19. Points will be divided equally amongst all debates. Plan to turn in your flow, and a 1-3 page typed critique of each debate. The first page should have specific comments to each debater, at least one comment about something they did well, and at least one comment on an area to improve. The remaining pages shold work through each stock issue, indicated who won it (aff or neg) and which arguments persuaded you. The ballot should conclude with an overall decision in the debate. You must pick a winner.


5. Midterm [15 points] short answer. November 5


6. Final: [20 points] short answer and essay: 5:00-6:50pm Wednesday December 17. You may substitute participation in an intercollegiate debate tournament for the final (the tournament most likely will occur on December 6). Further details on this will be provided in class. If you choose to attend the tournament in lieu of the exam, you will need to do two things:

a) Write a short (3-5 pp.) paper that critically analyzes your experience, describes how the class prepared you for the tournament, and outlines ways things could have been done differently to better prepare you. This paper is due during the final exam period.

b) Write an experiential funding request to help defray expenses. This paper's due date is dependent on the experiential funds due date.

Even if you choose to go to the tournament, you still need to attend class on the day of the final.

Substituting the tournament for the final: In order to substitute the final for the tournament, you need to have done sufficient work so that the tournament will be a learning experience. On the Wednesday before we leave (December 3), I will do a file check and make sure that you all are ready to go. The following is a list of things I expect to have been completed:

A. a presentation copy of the 1AC
1. suggested changes should have been incorporated and additional research completed where necessary.

2. it should have been timed, and the actual time noted (you will have 8 minutes for constructives, and 5 for rebuttals at the tournament)

3. a carefully worded plan should have been developed, that uses the words in the topic. This should have been checked by your class coach.

4. a preflow of the 1ac, with citations and key phrases from cards. You can use this in each aff debate and will not need to recopy it. Just flow on a strip of paper you can tape to your in-round flow.

B. 2AC blocks &endash; you ought to have thought about the possible negative arguments against your case, and organized your evidence into block form to answer each of those arguments. These ought to be organized so that they can quickly be found. You may do this either by using an "expando" file, or by developing an index and numbering the pages. This will also be very useful in writing your paper.

C. Negative blocks should have been completed and copied for the rest of the class. Evidence distributed in class should be incorporated into the appropriate blocks.

BLOCK CHECK LIST LINK to be added later

7. Discussion and participation in mini-debates: [10 points] Come to class ready to apply concepts and provide examples.


Useful links (these are good place to start familiarizing yourself with the various treaties, but your research should not end here): 

General information:

teaching policy debate

debate central

topic background

topic wording

European Union

web portal to relevant topic links

The EU online


the new transatlantic project





transatlantic relations

power and weakness

Tactical nukes:

DNA sequence:

Farm Bill:

the bill

some more


Week 1: What is Argument: August 27

read: WNB Core 1

key concepts: argument1, argument2, Toulmin model (claim, data, warrant), affirmative, negative, cooperative argument, competitive (adversarial) argument, enthymeme, commonplaces, presumption (technical and conventional), issue, types of evidence, inductive and deductive reasoning, group think

read: topic paper and topic wording


Week 2: What is Argument, continued: September 3

contexts, spheres and fields

read: WNB Core 2, 3, 6

key concepts: lines of argument, spheres of argument (technical, personal and public), field, value, policy, fact, definition, fallacies, criteria, justification, stock issues

argument diagram due Sept. 3


Week 3: Debate Basics: September 10

resolutions, research, delivery, flowcharting, cross-ex

read: WNB Core 4, 5, 7 ,8, 9

key concepts: types of materials and publications (specialized, mass circulation, government documents, newspapers), open-ended v. closed-ended questions, CX trees, deliberation, advocacy, economy of expression


Week 4: Stock issues: September 17

desirability, significance and inherency

read: WNB Policy 1, 2, 3

key concepts: necessary condition, presumption, fiat, significance, inherency, solvency, desirability, topicality, counterplan, disadvantage (link, impact, uniqueness), link turn, impact turn

preliminary bib due Sept 17


September 20-22 -- UNI Hosts national level, season-opener debate tournament. To find where rounds are occurring, go to Lang. Elimination rounds will be held at the Waterloo Ramada Inn.


Week 5: Stock issues: September 24

solvency and topicality -- mini debates

read: WNB Policy 4, 5

key concepts: solvency, topicality, should-would argument, PMN, circumvention, definition, term-of-art, contextual definition, extratopicality

solvency or topicality example due Sept. 24


Week 6: Counterplans: October 1

counterplans -- mini debates

read: WNB Policy 6

key concepts: counterplan, competitiveness, topical counterplans, dual-directional topics, mutual exclusivity, net benefits, permutation, conditional argument, dispositional counterplan, extra-competitive

counterplan example due Oct. 1


Week 7: Argument development: October 8

argument interaction, speaker roles

read: WNB Policy 7, 8

key concepts: cross-application, time frame, probability, increment of impact, threshold, brink, linear argument, double-turn, division of responsibilities


Week 8: Evaluating Policy Debate: October 15

read: WNB Policy 9

key concepts: paradigm, policy making paradigm, hypo-testing paradigm, tabula rasa, games theorist, critic of argument, critique, guidelines for criticism, more fallacies


Debates -- the team listed first is Aff; the team listed second is neg.

Week 9: Debates: October 22

Work week. Come to class with all research and evidence processing completed so that each group can work on developing their arguments and blocks for the debate


Week 10: Debates: October 29

Debate 1: Danielle & Bekka (Iraq) v. Heidi and Rachel

Debate 2: Molly & Kevin (Farm Bill) v. Rachelle & Ryan


Week 11: Debates: November 5

1 hour review, 30 minute break, 1:20 midterm



Week 12: Debates: November 12

Debate 1: Rachelle & Ryan ( ) v. Danielle & Bekka

Debate 2: Heidi & Rachel (Farm Bill) v. Molly & Kevin


Week 13: Debates: November 19 (NCA)

Class time to work on information exchange for policy papers. Remember, if you have a question, email me on or before November 19. I will check my email on the 20th.

*** Policy Papers Due November 24, by 5:00pm. If Cate is not around, have the main office date and tme them and place them in my mailbox***


Week 14: No class, fall break: November 26


Week 15: Public and Value Debates: December 3

key concepts: moral imperative, values and value objections, Lincoln-Douglas debate


December 6-- study break tournament


Week 16: Advocacy in an electronic world December 10

read: WNB Core 10

text of argument submitted to an electronic discussion forum: Dec 10


Final exam: 5:00-6:50pm Wednesday December 17