So what is the difference between an offensive and a mitigating argument? It sounds like a pretty silly question, but I couldn’t really answer that question through four years of debate. It drove me crazy because I would go to the Liberty Tournament, and the judges would always tell us that we needed more offensive lines of argumentation, but they just assumed that I knew what they were talking about (and because they were filling out my ballot, I pretended I did). In retrospect I should have ask my coach.

I naturally gathered that an offensive argument gave the judge a reason to “reject” the case or argument and a defensive argument mitigated an argument but is not the “kill shoot.” However, these definitions were not adequate and left me confuse. Really all I had to know was that:

Offensive Arguments = Topicality, Disadvantages, Kritiks, and Turns

Mitigating Arguments = Inherency, Significance, Solvency

Rather simple, but everyone expected me to “just know it.” So if someone tells you that you need to strengthen your offense (which is most often the case), you know what you need to work on.  Obviously, offensive arguments are “stronger” arguments because they are “kill shoots”; however, it’s a combination of both mitigating and offensive arguments that will provide a complete negative position.

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