A community guide written by: Barney & Ramshutu
Kritik (or just K), is the German word for critique. They differ in that while we always critique each other's arguments, we do not always Kritik the foundations on which they’re built. Put simply, a Kritik sidesteps evidence offered, and makes a case around such being irrelevant or outright harmful due to greater concerns.
If explicit or not, all good Kritiks will take this form:
- Analysis: The main complaint, and Kritik introduction.
- Link: What specific element of the opponent’s case it deals with and how.
- Implications: The damage done if the K is ignored.
- Alternative: What better solution does the K suggest? If none, we should use the status quo.
When debating if someone pulls a Kritik but is missing any piece, remind the judges exactly how little value it offers toward the resolution in light of that. Technically this is Kritiking the Kritik.
This section gives a simple overview of common identified types.
To be clear, on DebateArt.com you may Kritik the established rules for a debate (including the common “No K” rule) as harmful to the spirit of debate. This of course needs to be justified as a necessity, rather than just bleated about; failing to justify it reduces it to Special Pleading.
A disagreement with the presence of a word or general language. For example, someone might Kritik that the use of the word “racism” in the resolution normalizes the idea of race itself, leading to future systemic oppression.
- “I know many married bachelors: Bachelors of Art, Science and Engineering”
A semantic Kritik is when a commonly understood or defined term or phrase, is restated to have a meaning other than was expressed or understood. These are usually toxic and may garner conduct violations in any non-troll debate, as it can easily drive the debate off the clearly intended topic.
However, in cases where a phrase is poorly defined, or defined in such a way that is unfair, a semantic Kritik can be used to convince voters that the resolution is better fulfilled using another definition of a word.
- “[lofty bullshit about the nature of knowledge itself]”
- “East, West, just points of the compass, each as stupid as the other.” ‑Dr. No
These question the assumed normative cultural basis of good and evil, or if one thing can be objectively better than another. An oddly common but horrid example is people threatening that if you make them question their faith, there will be nothing holding them back from casual murder .
- “Nazis had gun control” ‑Various
As an example, that the anti-choice movement doesn’t oppose the death penalty or open their homes to refugee children, is a neat factoid about hypocrisy, but is not directly topical within legalize/criminalize abortion debates.
- “If you seen Black Panther and enjoyed it then you are a hypocrite and contradicting.” ‑Actual quote from a user
Which users are on either side of the debate, or what they said elsewhere, is irrelevant to the topic at hand.
- “Libtard!” -Many people with questionable intellects and ethics.
Ad Hominem attacks are actually Kritiks, albeit the very weakest. They side-step the topic, to launch insults upon the debater, and then declare themselves the victor for being non-sequitur.
However, not all insults are Ad Hominems. You’re wrong BECAUSE your father smelt of elderberries, is distinct from you’re wrong AND your father smelt of elderberries. The ladder is not drawing any conclusion about the debate from it, so while rude, is mainly just an anecdote. Whereas if your father is the topic of debate, the attack may be fallacious for other reasons, but is not an Ad Hominem.
- “Everyone and everything you know will be gone! What will you have after 500 years?” ‑Omni‑Man
Without getting deep into the concept of pre- vs. post-fiat, these are basically rejections of hope as a concept. Someone argues something would be good due to X, Y, and Z, and the other person says it’ll never happen anyway or eventually it won’t matter, so we should dismiss the very notion from consideration.
This section details the three different perspectives from which K’s must be handled.
If it’s a major Kritik with its own heading text, be sure to mention it in your vote and weigh it as an argument; then when weighing the linked contentions, factor in the success or failure of the K against them.
If it’s a minor Kritik just kind of tossed in there, handle it however you want. Some Kritiks are just lofty words to confuse the issue.
If it’s a rule Kritik (or a Kritik in violation of established rules), include in your analysis consideration of if it was indeed necessary in order to have a fair competition. Unless the debate was truly untenable without the violation, win or lose, the Kritik is poor conduct.
Remember, the initiator of the Kritik always has the burden to show voters a compelling case for why the kritik must be accepted. While there is no strict rule as to how high the bar is set for a Kritik to win; as these arguments can often end up winning a debate outright; they are often difficult to weigh and contentious if voted on.
First ensure it’s both warranted and on topic, then that it meets the form requirement, and finally that it does not harm your own case (e.g., when advocating for some legal change, running a values are meaningless K makes your case conceded as meaningless). Of course if the K isn’t airtight, you still need to tackle the main opposing argument… In fact if it is airtight, you’ll still need to tackle that in light of the K (manually apply the link to each contention under its heading).
Also, refrain from harassing voters. If they don’t comprehend what you meant or the implications, blame the writer (yourself) for not making it comprehensible enough to them.
Don’t panic! Generally handle it how you would any other argument.
Don’t use up the character limit on it if you have not first met Burden of Proof for your primary case. Some Kritiks are Red Herrings with this specific intent.
To minimize Kritiks some employ a rule in the description, but a better solution is usually to predict the likely Kritiks, and write a more detailed resolution which hamstrings them. Instead of “Y is true,” write “assuming X, Y is true”; with that in place any criticism involving X, does not touch the resolution.
The following are some reviewed examples of both good, and bad Kritiks. They may prove useful guidance in launching or defending against Kritiks.
Death23, “Genetically Modified Organisms” In this debate, the contender successfully challenges the rules and definition of the debate as unfair, explains why they should be ignored, proposes and justifies his own set of definitions, and is ultimately successful.
Speedrace, “Is Christianity A Good Moral System” Having agreed to a no forfeit/auto-loss rule, the contender misses a round but returns. He uses other debates as precedence for the rule not being absolute. The instigator opts to just cite the infraction and discontinue the topical debate. Judges favor the contender in rejection of the auto-loss.
Wylted, “A Fine-Tuned Universe…” The contender wholly side-steps the subject, arguing that there was no purpose to debating, so he should win on grounds of creativity… The instigator wins, explaining “My resolution affirming argument is untouched.”
Virtue Ethics are dangerous because those you have predetermined to righteous can do no wrong. Often this ties into nationality, occasionally resulting in genocide being excused as virtuous genocide.