Fiat (policy debate)

Fiat (policy debate)

Fiat (Latin for "let it be done") is a theoretical construct in policy debate—derived from the word "should" in the resolution—whereby the desirability rather than the probability of enactment and enforcement of a given plan is debated, allowing an affirmative team to "imagine" a plan into being.

There are different theories regarding fiat:

"Normal Means"—Going through the same political process comparable with normal legislative processes. There is no overarching, accepted definition of the legislative pathways which constitute "normal means," but clarification about what an affirmative team regards as "normal means" can be obtained as part of cross-examination by the negative team.

"Magic Wand" aka "Pixie Dust"—The plan is instantly instituted and enforced. It avoids politics disadvantages because it avoids the part of the process that goes through the government and subsequently avoids any sort of political affiliation. However, such fiat is generally considered abusive and is generally not used. It is still subject to disadvantages having to do with the effects of the plan.

For a lecture on the history and application of fiat in policy debate by Ken Strange, Director of Forensics at Dartmouth College, check [http://ddw.wikispaces.com/fiat+lecture] .

Pre-fiat and Post-fiat arguments

There are generally two types of negative arguments that can be made during a debate: "pre-fiat" and "post-fiat".

"Pre-fiat" arguments are arguments that relate to in-round issues. Examples include: abuse Topicality arguments (the affirmative is not within the resolution, therefore preventing the negative from running an argument they would have otherwise been able to run) and language kritiks (kritiks condemning the affirmative for using inappropriate or dangerous language). The team making a pre-fiat argument will argue that the pre-fiat argument should be evaluated before any other argument in the round. This is also what makes Topicality a "voter" issue, as abuse (and other Topicality arguments) are pre-fiat.

"Post-fiat" arguments attempt to show that the consequences of passing and enacting the affirmative plan would be in some way worse than the harms described by the affirmative. Such arguments are labelled "post-fiat" because they require the supposition of a world where the plan is passed and implemented.

Though this has been very popular in policy debate, some debaters have fought against this distinction arguing that the effects of the plan exist once it is "examined".

Kritik framework verses fiat

Kritiks can be used to combat Fiat by the Negative team as mentioned above, but don't always have to focus on plan language. Some kritik literature is focused on assumptions made by the other team, such as assumptions that may be viewed as racist, imperial, capitalist, or drastically offensive in nature. These argue that the AFF's plan no longer matters in function, or idea, as it is structurally wrong, e.g. the plan may or may not do what the AFF says, but it is structured in a racist way, and must be rejected. These kritiks argue that the judge should prefer the structure or "Framework" of the kritik, as it is not as offensive as the AFF is, but rather seeks to solve the problem the AFF brought into the round i.e. in our example, exposing us to racism.

The main point of the Kritik Framework is that it combats Fiat. Instead of saying the AFF's plan is good because it has efficient solvency, and saves the "status quo" from harms, the Kritik argues that all of this should be disregarded, as the world view of the AFF is too offensive to cause any good.

The Kritik can argue that running DA's or CP's are an unfair burden to be stuck with, as the Framework will state that Fiat is simply imaginative in nature, as is the plan, (being non existent in the status quo, hence Inherancy), and therefore should be rejected as the Kritik enacts a real world change.

For lectures discussing Kritiks and Framework, please check out the Dartmouth Debate Workshop's lectures [http://ddw.wikispaces.com/kritik+lecture] and [http://ddw.wikispaces.com/John+Turner+on+Framework] .


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