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Organizational Pattern of Debate Cases
CATA 335 - McGaan

The order of the speakers in a traditional debate is 1st Affirmative Constructive, 1st Negative Constructive, 2nd Affirmative Constructive, 2nd Negative Constructive.  These four presentations of the case and response are followed in our class by a cross examination period in which the entire class participates.  In this class we conclude the debate (rebuttal period) with one summary speech from each team (rather than the traditional four rebuttal speeches - one from each speaker).  In rebuttal, negative goes first.


1st Affirmative Speaker   (8 minutes)


Background and significance of the issue -- very brief

Definitions of any important terms as needed


I. Problem: Is there a need for change (adopting the policy)?

II. Will our plan solve these harms?

      Present the affirmative team plan.

      • mandates - what the plan will do.

      • mechanism - who will carry out the plan

      • function - how the plan will work.   ( intent, procedure, enforcement, funding )

[ Show/prove reasons why we should expect the plan to work . (This part of the case may need to go into the second speaker's presentation.) ]

2nd Affirmative Speaker    (8 minutes)

 INTRODUCTION     Very Short Introduction and Review Plan

[ Present workability arguments if not done in 1st speech esp. when challenged by 1 Neg. ]


III. Will the plan necessarily produce significant benefits which outweigh disadvantages?

      Prove the possibility of advantages occurring.  Be sure to show PMN and PMA

Refutation of 1st negative speaker

      (Respond to and refute arguments against the problem portion of your case brought up by 1 Neg..)


Summarize the case briefly.

Call for action.


    [ NOTE: It is the responsibility of the negative to create "clash." ]

1st Negative Speaker   (8 minutes) 

INTRODUCTION      Indicate negative team's general strategy/philosophy of opposition to the affirmative case

(strategy options:)

  • Defend the Status Quo ("Things are good the way they are.").
  • Argue the Affirmative hasn't proven its case (one or more of the requirements of a policy case haven't been proven), often called case-side attack.
  • principally attack plan-side (problems with plan workability or solvency, disadvantages outweigh any advantages).
  • Counter-plan (presenting a plan just like an affirmative plan with solvency but the plan must be non-topical).

Contest affirmative's definitions if appropriate *

Contest the topicality of the affirmative case if appropriate *

* If the negative does not address definitions or topicality it is assumed the affirmative's position is accepted. That is typical.


I. Challenge the Affirmative's arguments on the problem.


  • - Refute the factual basis (gr./cl.) of the affirmative's problem arguments
  • - Refute the significance of the affirmative's problem arguments
  • - Refute the inherency of the affirmative's case (e.g. evidence "SQ solves," no established SQ cause, variability)
    • - offer minor repairs (and proof of their workability and solvency as an inherency attack)

II. [ If time permits 1st negative may offer arguments proving the affirmative plan will not work. This may be deferred to the second negative speech. ]


Summarize how your arguments have destroyed the affirmative's case (e.g. negated case requirements).

2nd Negative Speaker    (8 minutes)

INTRODUCTION   Present a brief overview of the negative's strategy in attacking the plan and advantages.


II. Present arguments and prove that the affirmative plan will not work [if not presented in 1st negative].

  • - argue that circumvention will occur

  • - other workability arguments (time, complexity, expense)

        • [ "ought" belongs to the affirmative ]

III. Argue and prove that the affirmative case lacks solvency

  • - challenge the factual basis of the benefits (e.g. show they won't occur)

  • - show the plan does not meet need (PMN) OR

  • - show the plan does not meet claimed advantages (PMA)

  • - prove that (unique) disadvantages will occur if the affirmative plan is adopted


Summarize how negative arguments have destroyed the affirmative's case (e.g. negated case requirements)

** (no new arguments may be introduced after this point) **

Cross Examination and Rebuttal

Question Period     (10-15 minutes)

Following the four "constructive" speeches there will be a 10-15 minute question period, alternating questions for each side from the debaters and the audience.

Negative Rebuttal    (5 minutes)

The negative goes first in rebuttal and should review their strongest arguments showing the affirmative has not proved its case. Remember, the negative need only show the affirmative has failed to prove ONE case requirement (e.g. the negative must win one of the three stock issues).

Affirmative Rebuttal    (5 minutes)

The affirmative gets the last word since they have the burden of proof.  Affirmative should review their whole case showing how all requirements of a case still stand at the end of the debates (e.g. the affirmative must win all 3 stock issues).

last updated 3/6/2007