Case (policy Debate) - The Structure of The Case - Observation or Contention

Observation or Contention

A typical case includes between two and four observations/contentions, depending on the speed of the intended speaker and the length of the observations/contentions. Traditionally, observations/contentions address one of the stock issues and are labeled accordingly. For example:

  • Contention 1: Significant Harms
  • Contention 2: Inherency
  • Plan
  • Contention 3: Solvency


These outlines are quite general, and different debaters may retain some or none of the above structural elements as their situations dictate. On an aesthetic level, for example, it is not uncommon for some cases to include creative titles for observations and advantages. A case increasing the number of pilots in the United States Air Force might call the first contention "Air Power."

On a more practical level, recent policy debate cases have made a habit of including one or more contentions which do not directly relate to the affirmative thesis, but are designed to preempt common negative attacks. For instance, a team running a case often considered nontopical might devote 45 seconds of the first affirmative constructive to reading contextual definitions of disputed terms in order to frame the debate in a favourable light early on. (Because topicality is a "meta-issue" it is traditionally omitted from the opening presentation of the case, although historically an introductory contention where the affirmative defined the terms of the resolution was much more common.) Additionally, teams might decide to include "non-unique" contentions, where the information presented bears little on the overall affirmative argument other than to say that any negative disadvantage should have already occurred in the status quo.

Read more about this topic:  Case (policy Debate), The Structure of The Case

Famous quotes containing the words observation or, contention and/or observation:

    Nor has science sufficient humanity, so long as the naturalist overlooks the wonderful congruity which subsists between man and the world; of which he is lord, not because he is the most subtile inhabitant, but because he is its head and heart, and finds something of himself in every great and small thing, in every mountain stratum, in every new law of color, fact of astronomy, or atmospheric influence which observation or analysis lay open.
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    Laws and customs may be creative of vice; and should be therefore perpetually under process of observation and correction: but laws and customs cannot be creative of virtue: they may encourage and help to preserve it; but they cannot originate it.
    Harriet Martineau (1802–1876)