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I missed debate club (Vector, VA) last night. Then I got three questions about inherency this morning. Coincidence? I think not.

So I decided to answer them here without their permission.

1. How do I run a “no barriers” inherency contrasted with running an “already happening” Inherency. I have a basic idea of what both types are saying, but wth the no barriers, won’t the affirmative just respond with “that doesn’t matter,
our plan is not currently happening so inherency isn’t an issue”…?

2. What’s structural inherency? Why does it matter?

3. Hey Isaiah, do you have a second [politeness]…what is structural inherency?

This post will look at inherency in general, types of inherency, and no barrier as an argument. For starters, let’s review a couple things about inherency:

Inherency is usually an expression of what “is” and the causes for the same. When teaching stock issues I try to show its place in the round like this:

Inherency is what is, significance (DAs, harms, advs) is what we THINK about it. Let me repeat that: inherency is the dry facts of what we’ve got, significance is the subjective “spin” we put on the issue. You usually want to debate about subjective things, not whether something is or is not. In other words, the best debates usually happen where both teams agree on the basic facts (we have three branches of government), and debate about how to view those facts.

I said DAs and Advs up there. How are they related to the “is” part of inherency? Inherency is often about causality. What “is” causes something (harm) in an aff case. The NEW what “is” proposed by an aff team (their plan) also causes things, namely advantages and disadvantages. We just call them different things… usually a “link.” I prefer “cause and effect.” Inherency arguments are about “cause” and significance arguments are about “effect”.

You can tell by how I’m addressing this that what we learn from inherency is more than some formulaic “four stock issues are needed to win.” I don’t care about that. What’s important is to see what debate theory teaches about how to think; here inherency teaches us to separate causality and facts from our OPINIONS about those facts. Can we express them at the same time? Sure “the Status Quo kills babies” and “your plan will cost $$$$” often combine cause and effect (inh and sig) when you say them, but in your head you need to keep them separate.

Types of Inherency

So the “types” of inherency are WAYS to express causality (or more appropriately, WHY what is is). These are to be distinguished from inherency strategies (like gap inherency, link turns, etc etc).

Structural = How the system is built to create whatever barrier or non-barrier. These are usually laws, systems, or processes.

Example: FDA’s review panels usually have a mix of doctors, government workers, and big pharma reps.

Attitudinal = What attitudes or thoughts are contributing to the way things are or would be, usually that of politicians or the general public, but not always.

Example: The military industrial complex’s massive private sector that profits off of war makes them seek ways to lobby for foreign policy hawkish policies, more wars, higher security, etc.

Existential = Literally “that’s just how it is.” Here you’re basically saying NOT something else, but it sounds a thousand times better to outline 3 existential barriers than to say “3 I dunnos”.

Example: That we haven’t passed SBSP is an example of existential inherency. We just haven’t put the money in it, not that anybody is terribly against it.

Existential inherency is often used to refute newer or less experienced debaters who argue things like “There’s no barrier!” [without much more], or “My opponents can’t say WHY it hasn’t happened yet. Surely there must be a reason, so vote against them for that.” Basically, they don’t have an argument and are fishing for the aff team to provide one for them. If you are asked in CX “if this was such a good idea, then why haven’t we done it yet?” then you can respond “there are two existential causes” one of which may be simple laziness 😛 Another of which might be a good joke moment: “Since when is Congress having passed a policy a measure of its awesomeness?” /pet peeve moment

I think I’ve answered the “What is structural inherency” question here (comment for more followup questions if you want). But let’s cover the first question:

“No barrier” as an argument

I think the “no barriers” argument is not a winner. You really can’t win with that unless you have some other argument that that is combining with.

I have seen people win on it, but usually it’s lame-o with judges who don’t understand theory and think that means an aff “lost” inherency b/c there aren’t barriers.

Plus, it’s an existential barrier if it hasn’t happened yet.

More where you want to go with that argument is like this (the “researched” approach):

Here were the barriers a year ago.

Here’s where the barriers fell:
August — x one
November — y one
January — z one

Now everything is in place and there are no barriers left except A

But because of attitudinal inherency in the U.S. and political will, A will be overcome on [exact date, that’s really really soon]

Therefore aff plan isn’t needed.

That’s about the strongest way to do it [the strategy is called gap inherency] but even that is difficult to win because aff will respond “but it hasn’t happened yet, and we can get my advantages RIGHT NOW.”

However, if combined with an unintended consequences DA you might have something.

“The bill on this subject that will likely sail through has been vetted, debated in committees, and has the length necessary to make sure OTHER areas of policy aren’t negatively affected. The aff team is just mandating one sentence as a policy. Given the inherency, you can trust the advantages of aff will come about in SQ so no reason to go for them. But unintended consequences may occur from not using the mechanism of the current bill proposed, so there is significance against the aff plan that the SQ doesn’t bear. So vote SQ today to achieve aff advantages.”

Contrasted with “Already Happening” as an argument, clearly no barrier is extremely weak. If it really is already going to happen, then aff case isn’t needed.

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