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15 December 2005

Preparing for Worlds 8: Extensions

Preparing for Worlds Post 8: Extensions
This comes from the same handout I took the "debating on first principles" post from. I used it for a quick prep with some worlds teams a couple of years ago but now I am not sure where I pulled all the info from. I'm sure I didn't write most of it but I don't know where it came from. Probably a mailing list somewhere. Apologies to the person who did write it for not crediting them. UPDATE: After some comments and e-mails I think the bulk of this came from Dan Neidle's guide from the British Debate mailing list. Dan was a Worlds finalist so he knows what he is talking about.

Tomorrow: Good and bad things in debating

What are extensions?
The job of teams at the bottom of the table, simply put, is to be better than what has gone before, to find something new in the topic which allows them to make an invaluable - a more valuable - contribution to the debate, without being inconsistent with the definition provided by their colleagues.

Extensions are one way for the 2nd government team to distinguish itself from the 1st government team. Look at the government side as a coalition. 1st government is the senior government party and 2nd government as the junior government party, both supporting a particular piece of legislation. They both support the bill but for different yet complimentary reasons and the junior government party must make this difference clear in order to attract the public’s (i.e. the judges) attention and survive.

Extensions aren’t always necessary. The 2nd Government simply need to be better than 1st government. They can do that with or without a full blown extension but extensions are often seen as an easy way to achieve this. A 2nd Government who just repeats 1st government will struggle to win the debate.

Here is Neill Harvey Smith’s excellent review of extensions:
1) Do not add a more convenient definition (We would abolish hunting with hounds AND battery farming)
2) You do not have to say the word "extension" but you may if it pleases you.

1) You do have to provide new arguments for the proposal:
a) with a broad definition, these are usually additional or narrower arguments (disarming Iraq will also benefit the region)
b) sometimes, after a narrow definition, they are broader arguments (what general principles are at stake in the particular case of Iraqi disarmament?)
c) exceptionally, you can make the same arguments but better and win, looking at the consequences of the proposition in depth and developing a couple of Durham's 9 points from 1st Prop in depth.

2) If 1st Prop does not provide a definition, you can still win. Find a fair and debatable definition that emerges from the top half and argue it well (you cannot simply insert your own definition it has to come from somewhere in the top half), addressing 1st Opp's points. You will be rewarded for thinking on your feet and thanked for producing a debate.

In general, you will score higher for arguing new material well, addressing any new points from 3rd opposition and summarising the entire debate effectively, stressing the importance of your material.

One way of adding an “extension” that is not quite an extension but still differentiates you from 1st Government is to find an argument 1st government said they would make but didn’t. Make a note of the arguments they said they were going to cover and pick the ones they didn’t get around to (don’t rely completely on this as they may well cover all their points)

See also the presentations on Preparing for Worlds Post 1.

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