A Kritik is defined by 4 criteria.
- It must have a link
- It must have an impact
- It must have an alt
- It must argue from a kritikal position
Anything that does not meet all four of those requirements is not a K, and should not be considered in this round.
Preventing Con from using Ks would be equivalent to taking away all Con ground. This is because a K is not inherently any different from a standard disadvantage that Con may decide to run. There is no differentiation between a K and any other form of argument like a DA or CP for example.
The purpose of debate is education — this is what all participants who both participate in, and observe a debate get. An important part of this education is truth seeking. One of the main reasons we debate is to prove what is true, and what isn’t true. This however, can present a problem when the resolution is itself making assumptions about the world that are untrue. By this I mean that some resolutions are tautologies, and yet false. The simplest example of this would be a resolution that goes like this. Resolved: If red is blue then blue is red. Here pro could easily prove that red is blue by simply stating that x = x, and in an isolated round this is entirely true. This is why Kritiks are necessary for truth seeking, and here, we see the only way for Con to combat an obviously false statement is to K the resolution.
Sometimes a resolution will make an assumption and it will not be so obvious, or necessarily even be illogical. For example, Resolved: The USFG should substantially increase its protection of water resources in the United States. Here the assumption is not so obvious, but one is being made. Here that assumption is that water is a resource. This may not be illogical in any way, and it may even be effectively true, but it is still necessary to debate if it should be treated as a resource, and protected as a resource. This would be a necessary prerequisite to determine when evaluating any plan, but here we see that the flawed resolution makes that assumption which is why it is necessary to K the resolution.
This does not only apply to resolutions however, but Ks can actually apply to an entire case, or part of a case. For example, a debater might say that we should extend human life by forcing life support on the ederly by law. If we simply assume that extending life is a good thing, than in a vacuum this seems like a good thing, but this is why it is necessary to take a kritikal position. Ks can allow us to evaluate actions based on their other effects, even if those effects are not quantifiable. In the example above the effect would be on freedom, and on quality of life. There is no quantifiable impact to freedom or to quality of life, so extending life would outweigh in terms of a Util framework, and this is why it is necessary to argue from a Kritikal position here.
Evaluating kritikal thinking and philosophy
Almost all debates concern one of 2 things. Either truth, politics, or both. By politics I do not necessarily mean the government, but rather anything regarding the public. In both of these cases it is necessary to evaluate Kritikal positions using Ks.
Starting out with the truth, we are going to see that almost all debates on this subject are going to require some philosophical position. In fact, this may be as broad as even stating what the truth is, so really any advocacy for a truth does require a kritikal position to even define what truth is. If we are arguing over the truth of a moral topic this becomes even more clear. It would be nearly impossible to argue over ethics without Ks because the sequence of link to impact provides the necessary quantifiable impacts to be able to weigh different ethics against each other.
Politics also requires philosophy. Recently politics has been boiled down to a science free of ideology. Bureaucrats refer to The Science and make public policy decisions based on that. Social engineers try to control entire groups of people. Advertisers have a formula that shows their ads to the people that will best receive them. While these things may all be possible, and our even currently happening, when we debate we our not just talking about what is possible. We are talking about what we should do, and this requires us to evaluate kritikal positions.
Going back to the example of forcing an ederly person on to life support to extend their life we see that it is necessary to consider philosophical positions, but this applies even further to politics as well. For example if we look at the Covid lockdowns we see that the science said to shut down, but this isn’t really the case. People used science to determine that the deaths caused by Covid were going to be great enough to justify lockdowns. If people did not perform this evaluation we would be shut down all the time for everything. People die of the common cold, so we would have to shut down because of that, and the list goes on and on. The point is that if people were not able to evaluate things from a position beyond science, society would come to a grinding halt.
Kritikal positions provide the best way to weigh real world mechanisms because they can take into account all effects, even if they are not quantifiable. Simply weighing x number against y number does not give a full picture.
The threat of a K
Debaters could run ridiculous positions just to win, but the threat of a K deters this. Without Ks debate rounds will essentially exist within philosophical vacuums, so any philosophy is valid. This means that someone can win by causing the most death, pain, or suffering because there is no way to stop this argument without a kritik. Many arguments may not be this extreme, but a K can still serve as a good deterrent for untruthful or immoral positions.
Ks are the best way of running a Kritikal position
A Kritik is a formatted argument with a link, impact, and alt. By standardizing how kritikal positions are presented it does several things. The first is that it ensures the frivolous Ks will not work. This is because if a K does not apply to something the link will fail, and any competent debater will be able to immediately point this out.
The advantage of having an impact is that it allows kritikal positions to easily be weighed against traditional positions, and furthermore impacts actually give meaning to a kritikal position. Without an impact there is no consequence for violating a kritikal position, and as such there is no reason to consider it.
Finally the alt is an essential tool that ensures Ks must be possible to solve for. Without alts it would be entirely possible to present a link and an impact to an issue that can not be solved, and then just win because there is an issue that can not be solved. For example if pro has to uphold that the government should make a policy, and the con reads a K on the hegemony of the government it is entirely possible to dismiss this K because pro can simply say the alt fails and causes devastating effects because it destroys the government.
Ks are inherently no different from any other argument, but they just handle a different type of evaluation. Ks are essential for truth seeking, and without them it would be impossible to defend against untrue tautological resolutions, and cases that make unwarranted philosophical assumptions. Ks have educational value because they force people to evaluate issues from a kritikal position which is necessary because both truth and politics require you to think from a kritikal perspective. Finally, a kritik is the best way to run a kritikal position. It standardizes the format, and it prevents frivolous kritikal positions.