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What is a Case?

 Three Definitions

  • a connected series of arguments (claim & ground & maybe warrant) which collectively prove a proposition. 
  • a large assertion in need of proof.
  • a proposition and reasons for assent.
  • examples: the Declaration of Independence, a lawyer's summation to the jury, a scientific (or other scholarly) article.

 Key Terms:

  • presumption - what is assumed to be the case before argument. status quo.   Examples"If it ain't broke, don't fix it."  "Presumed innocent." Accepted theory. Current policy.
  • Burden of proof - belongs to the opponent of presumption (the affirmative team). The obligation to prove something, to prove sufficient reasons for change.  Burden of Rebuttal - falls on the negative team IF the burden of proof is met.
  • prima facie case - one that meets burden of proof, thus, it shift the burden (to the opposition's rebuttal). A prima facie case is sufficient to convince prior to rebuttal.
  • fiat - If the proponents of a case (affirmative) can show that something "should" be done, fiat power assumes that the agents of action identified by the proponents of change will do all that is necessary to carry out the proponents plans.  For instance, negative teams cannot argue, "Congress will never pass such a bill." or "This would be unconstitutional."  Fiat power assumes that if a case is proven (adopted) then everyone involved will act as needed to support the actions required to carry out the proposition/plan.

 Requirements of the prima facie case. The case must show:

  • Topicality - (i.e. affirmative arguments are directly relevant to the proposition)
  • Significance - (of problem and benefits)
  • Inherency - (that your case has an intrinsic, not accidental, connection to the issues or problems or solutions developed in your approach to the proposition)
  • of a problem that is
  • solved by your
  • plan (actions you mandate), which is
  • necessary to gain benefits.

When doing research on a debate topic, ALWAYS focus on finding grounds for proving the "Requirements of the Case."

 Analysis of Propositions.  (note: "should" means "it ought to happen" not "it will happen.")

  • The five Ss of problem solving
    • state problem
    • search for information
    • sift information for importance, relevance etc.
    • solicit idea for solutions from various sources
    • select the best alternative

Last updated 9/30/2008