Sometimes it can be hard to get the judge to care about your argument. Maybe you aren’t spending enough time on them, the other team had good responses, or the judge just zoned out.
I propose an alternate cause for this phenomenon.
Most debaters know about the three parts to every argument. First you have the claim: this is what you are trying to prove. Next is the warrant: why the claim is true. Finally there’s the impact: why does it matter if the claim is true.
Contention 1: Important to Education
Impact: Achieves the Value
If you’re only telling the judge to flow the claim and impact of your argument, you’re making a huge mistake. That’s why it’s super important to tag the warrants of your argument.
The judge needs to be able to look back at the end of the round and see the warrants for your arguments on their flow. If you don’t put it on the flow, you’re leaving it up to chance if the judge remembers or cares about it.
To illustrate my point, which of these harms looks more powerful on the flow? (Case is about the dangers of fossil fuels)
Harm 1: Dangerous Potential
Impact: Loss of Life
Harm 1: Dangerous Potential
- Study finds 130,000 poisoned
- Factories cause air pollution
- Oil accidents
- Impact: Loss of Life
With the latter, the judge can look back and see clear proof for the argument at the very end of the round. That’s the power of tagging and flowing warrants.
Most TPers and LDers are good enough at this: preparing their cases beforehand helps with making sure that the warrants are tagged for the judge. But I’ve seen Parli debaters struggle with tagging warrants much more, and it’s very unfortunate since the judge is way less likely to know about the specific argument you’re making in a Parli round as opposed to a TP or LD round, where by the end of the year judges have already seen the most common cases half a dozen times over and know what to expect.
So, you’re convince you need to tag warrants. But I hear you ask, “How, oh how, Nathanael, do I do this? I’m not just going to tell the judge, ‘My warrant for the argument is X, and please write this down.’ That would take too much time.”
Well, I gave it away above. What do you think God made subpoints for except to explain the warrants for your argument?
To summarize: as much as possible, tag your warrants for your important arguments and tell the judge to write them down. The easiest way to do this is with subpoints. This will help the judge to remember your arguments better and also make them more persuasive.
Nathanael Morgan is a freshman at the Saint Constantine College in Houston, Texas. As an accomplished debater with 3 years of competitive experience in Stoa and numerous awards, he enjoys researching and coaching others. Among other things, he also enjoys speedcubing, chess, and technology.