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Lesson 2: Fiat’s Relationship to Kritikal Debate

Fiat means “let it be done” in Latin and is a foundational part of what helps debate function. For example, when you read your affirmative, most of the time the debate doesn’t end when your opponent says “the government would never agree to that.” That’s because of the concept of fiat. We assume that the affirmative happens and then we debate about the implications of that action. Given that we discussed fiat, you need to understand pre-fiat and post-fiat when it comes to reading Ks.

Pre-fiat has to do with everything before the implementation of the affirmative. More specifically, it has to do with us—debaters, judges, the framers of the resolution, the debate community. Pre-fiat arguments are focused on debating about debate, not so much the actual topic itself. Pre-fiat arguments are not exclusively Kritiks. For example, theory is a type of pre-fiat argument. Theory arguments are about the rules we should have and follow within debates. Once we finish debating about that, then we can talk about the topic at hand. A really great example of this is when a debater reads a Feminism K about the debate community being sexist. It does not necessarily have to do with the topic and has everything to do with us as human beings who exist in debate. A pre-fiat K argument might find instances of sexism that their opponent’s scholarship exhibited and explain that this is the most important impact in the debate round. The logic is that anything that has to do with us as people comes first, because before we can deliberate about hypothetically affirming or negative the resolution, we are people interacting with one another first. This becomes a gate that keeps their opponent from accessing their strategy centered on the topic.

Post-fiat has to do with everything that happens after implementation. It is what many of you already do when you are debating regularly about an action we ought to take and the consequences that follow. For example, if someone is reading a Capitalism K and they argue that doing the resolution will only increase the ability for the rich to exploit the poor, they are focusing on the consequences of doing (or not doing) the resolution. 

As a K debater, you can defend both or one of them. Even if you do not explicitly label your impacts as pre- and post-fiat, you still need to understand these concepts. Why? It helps determine what exactly you will do to generate “solvency” in the round. It is also important to know what type of impacts you are reading so you can justify them properly and use them strategically. 

For example, if you make pre-fiat arguments about the debate community, you want the judge to focus on impacts that deal with us as people within the round first. Justifying this well means that even if your opponent reads post-fiat impacts (i.e., extinction), you can argue that your impacts come before any hypothetical implementations of a plan. This could mean saying a lack of access to debate and racism within debate is happening here and now. This is more important to address compared to the hypothetical world of your opponent where, even then, extinction is unlikely to occur. 

Likewise, if you do have arguments that also show your K can lead to topical changes, you would want to mention that and use it as leverage in the debate. This could involve saying the mindset of the criticism causes the impacts they are talking about. For example, upholding capitalism incentivizes capitalism and leads us faster toward human extinction.