Philosophy Book Index

Doug Addleman               Hired                                     All                                          

Aaron Alford                      Appalachian State            All

Lance Allen                         McKendree                        All

Alex Baldwin                      McKendree                        All

Lucas Barker                       Hired                                     All

Mark Bentley                     Appalachian State            All

Joe Blasdel                          McKendree                        Emergency Only

Tyler Gillette                      Hired                                     All

Beth Graham                     McKendree                        All

Michael Gray                     Arkansas State                  All

Mark Katerberg                Hired                                     Sunday only

Rodney McBride              McKendree                        Saturday only

Brent Nicholson                McKendree                        All

Chris Oliver                         Missouri                               All

Zach Schneider                 McKendree                        All

Gage Simmons                  McKendree                        Friday only

Caitlin Smith                       Minnesota                          All

Amanda Stauder              McKendree                        Sunday only

Amanda Walker                McKendree                        Saturday and Sunday only

Baker Weilert                    Arkansas State                  All



Doug Addleman




Summary: I like to see good debates, which for me means that it’s more important that you debate how you debate best not in the stylistic way you think I want to see. Be aware that, while I have no problem comprehending speed, I’m not the quickest flow so I probably need slightly more pen time than average if you’re going fast.

Background: I did 4 years of NPDA/NPTE debate (2011-2015) at Wheaton. Since then, I’ve only judged occasionally, maybe 50 rounds in the last three years. I still have a strong grasp of debate-style argumentation, jargon, and many key positions, but might not be up on recent trends.

Preferences: I belong to the ‘debate is a game’ school of thought, but I also recognize that it has implications on individuals outside of the game aspects. I do my best to be sensitive to those implications and am willing to listen to any arguments about them. I expect everyone to be respectful of the personhood of the people they’re engaging. Since debate is a game where you set the rules, I try to be as flow-centric as possible for the purpose of my ballot unless you’re winning arguments that tell me to do otherwise.

Speed: I tend to think that speed is overall good for the debate, but really don’t enjoy it being used as a crutch by teams to win debates against slower teams. Please go as fast as you want as long as it’s accessible to everyone in the room. I am, however, a slower flow than I used to be, so recognize that if you’re quite fast you may want to slow down a bit if you want me to reliably flow your warrants and not just vague tags.

Specific Positions: Feel free to run any positions you want (critical affs, advantages, case turns, DAs, Ks, theory, etc.). I ran a variety of arguments, but tended to rely mostly on case debate, critical affs, and Ks in the last couple years of my career. I’ll listen to whatever you want to debate—I’d rather see a good in-depth economics debate or T debate (though those weren’t my typical strategies) than a bad critical debate, and vice-versa.

Theory: I might have a slightly lower threshold on theory (T, condo, MG theory, whatever) than some, in part because I’ve never bought that proven abuse is really necessary (though go ahead to argue that it is, you can win it).

Performance: I don’t like thinking of ‘performance’ debate (for lack of a better term, since all debate is performative) as a fundamentally different type of debate. Please make the role of the judge in these debates very clear if you care about it (this doesn’t have to be structured in any specific way though). I am receptive to arguments that aff doesn’t need to defend the topic and to arguments that they should.

Speaker points: Range: usually I give the top speaker in a round between 28.5 and 30 (with 30 being rare) and then down from there (rarely below 27). Average overall is probably around 28. While I vote on the flow, I really enjoy watching creative debate and that may show up in my speaker points. I value unconventional interpretations of topics (though I also don’t mind T debates either), enjoy theory debates—including weird, atypical ones—and find the most enjoyable debates to be technical and involving in-round divergent thinking. If your position or how you use it in the later constructives surprises me, that may bode well for your speaks.


Aaron Alford

Appalachian State

  1. I competed in NPDA debate for 4 years at Cedarville University, I coached there for a year, an am now assisting the Appalachian State Debate team.
  2. I utilized kritikal and policy strategies roughly equally my junior and senior year. 
  3. I like kritiks. I am familiar with most of the major literature bases for kritiks, however I do believe debate is an educational activity which requires inclusion, so it is important that your kritikal argument is clear to the opposing team even if they haven’t read your lit base.
    1. If you read a kritik, I prefer grounded impacts and concrete solvency over depictions of an ideal world or other abstract alternative solvency mechanisms for the kritik.
    2. The permutation is always a test of competition and not an advocacy.
    3. The affirmative should engage with the framework debate to gain access to their 1AC by either responding with a competing framework, or demonstrating how their 1AC operates within the Kritik framework.
    4. I like Capitalism critiques, I like arguments about ethics, and I like kritiks of debate itself.  If you have a critique you want to try, I might be a good judge to try it in front of.
  4. I like policy affs with strong impacts.  I like impact frameworks that explain why I should prefer your impacts.  Magnitude is not necessarily where I will vote, if a compelling argument is presented to prefer another method of weighing the impacts.
  5. I like Advantage-Counterplans.  I think advantage counterplans are a smart strategy for the negative team. I am open to condo bad and other counterplan theory arguments from the MG.
  6. I prefer speed debate, so long as both teams are able to participate in the round.  If the other team asks you to slow down, you should.  If continued exclusion on the basis of speeds occurs, I am willing to vote for an abuse procedural
  7. Debate is not a game, but we do play it like one more or less. I am a tabula rasa judge.  I will judge the arguments as presented, it is the job of the debaters to present the necessary information and identify good arguments from bad arguments in the round. 
  8. I think the affirmative should defend the resolution with an advocacy, however I do like affirmatives that are out of the ordinary, and am willing to entertain innovative frameworks and interpretations of the topic.
  9. I spent a lot of time reading procedurals as a debater.  I think procedural debate can present some of the most technical and rewarding rounds, but it is important to articulate abuse or tell me why your procedural is a voting issue if you expect me to vote for it. 
  10. Topicality bis a voting issue.
  11. Specs are not compelling unless you articulate abuse.
  12. I default to the competing interpretations in procedural and framework debates.
  13. Specific positions are generally more compelling to me than generic arguments.  I will listen to your politics position, but I will not be happy about it and I might make unhappy faces.
    1. Policy arguments should include a specific interrogation of the uniqueness, this should not be blipped through, please read warrants with your claims.  I would rather you read one good position with excellent warrants and analysis, than two meh positions.
  14. I generally think Identity/non-topical arguments should cede the ballot, unless there is a compelling reason why their performance must win to create the change they seek.
  15. Please do not read any advocacy which supports mass death or suffering as good.  I don't like the advocacy of suicide, dehumanization, or justifying the reduction in the value of human life.
  16. Don't make stuff up, ethics are good.


Lance Allen


I competed in Parli and IE’s for 4 years at Mckendree and have now coached for 4 years. That means I have a diverse background and have seen a large variety of positions.  As a coach, I have watched rounds at traditional tournaments in parli to LD out rounds at nationals. While I am competent in a K debate, I am most comfortable in the case/DA/CP debates. This means that the K needs to be well explained, whether a critical Neg or Aff. For me, in-round abuse is not necessary on T. All CP types are fine, just beat the procedural. I evaluate procedurals first and then move to rest. I tend to weigh the magnitude and probability first in impact calc. You should feel comfortable running most any position in front of me as long as it is well explained and defended. 


Alex Baldwin


TL;DR-Be nice to your opponents. Have fun and make arguments you like to make. If you have any questions that this did not answer, find me in person or message me on Facebook.

Background: I did Parliamentary debate with McKendree for four years. The strategies I used while debating varied. I much preferred case debate, but I also read a variety of different K’s. I have been out of the activity for a few months now, but I still will be able to keep up with a competitive round.

Topicality/Theory: I only went for T or theory a few times during my debate career, but if you feel like you need to read T/theory in a round, do it. When reading you interps/counter interps, I ask that you either read it twice, or read it slowly so I (and your opponents) can actually get it correct to avoid confusion on the flow. These are not my favorite rounds to be a part of, but I believe they are necessary for debate to function. Do not read bad spec arguments in front of me though, please. I am ok with you being conditional, but there is a point where it becomes abusive, in my opinion. Reading a condo K, condo CP, and disad then kicking out of the K and CP is abusive (although, I may have done this once or twice). I don’t enjoy silly theory arguments so please don’t read stuff like “the AFF team must read their plan text in the 30 seconds of the PMC.”

Disads: I love disad debates. My ideal debate round is any round with a politics disad and maybe a AFF specific disadvantage.

Kritiks: I read a variety of K’s when I debated, so I am comfortable with them. However, do not assume that I know everything about the K you are reading. Do not just use buzz words. I’m ok with AFF K’s as well.

Speaker Points: my speaks will float between 27-30. If you do something offensive to your opponents or make a reprehensible argument, your speaks will reflect that.


Lucas Barker


Background: In high school I participated in Public Forum all four years. In college, from 2010-2014 I debated in both Lincoln-Douglas and Parliamentary debate for McKendree University. Additionally, I intermittingly judge at debate tournaments. Finally, I realize the importance of a judge's paradigm and background information and if this philosophy is not comprehensive enough to answer your question(s) please do not hesitate to ask during breaks and/or before debate rounds. I’ll do my best to answer any and all questions you may have. I want you to be able to maximize your prep time.


l  Approach of the critic and to decision-making- My “default setting” for a debate round is a policy making one. I believe the Affirmative should defend a topical plan and that the Negative should defend the status quo or present a competitive counter-policy option. If you believe the round should be “debated” in another way you will have to give me compelling reasons as to why that is the case. I find impacts with large magnitudes compelling, but I am also willing to vote for probability. Either way you should explain to me how your arguments interact with timeframe, probability, and magnitude. I am not particularly fond of “fact debates” since I dealt with more than enough of those in high school. I strongly encourage you to run a plan even when it’s a “fact” resolution.


l  Relative importance of presentation/communication skills to the critic in decision-making- I enjoy watching debates that are passionate and include confidence when one is speaking. Ideally, you should not only be winning the round but also appear and sound as if you are winning the round. Don't be hesitant about being creative with your arguments since that will most likely leave more of an impression. Additionally, you do not have to like your opponents in a debate round, but you should at the very least be polite. Bullying and/or being a generally rude will be reflected in your speaker points and may even affect my perception of your arguments. I really enjoy when someone is funny while still being strategic in a debate round, but I do not encourage it if you know that you are not funny.


l  Relative importance of on-case argumentation to the critic in decision-making- I enjoy rounds where the negative has not only provided disads, kritik, and/or a counterplan but also provides specific arguments that engage the Affirmative’s advantages. I think that case arguments are generally light or absent in most debate rounds so when they do occur I tend to enjoy those rounds more. Since I typically gave the MO I enjoy seeing rounds where the MO decides to make bold moves in the block such as willing to go for only arguments on-case (when it is the ideal choice). Finally, I am probably more persuaded by smart defensive arguments than the average judge and that is a result of having Cory Freivogel as a coach. Note: That does not mean I don’t evaluate offensive arguments!






l  Preferences on procedural arguments, counter-plans, and kritiks-


Topicality: I will vote on topicality and if you find yourself facing an un-topical affirmative and you know how to go for topicality then you should. If there isn't in-round abuse and you read topicality out of the LO with no additional arguments I don't know why I should vote for you.

Spec Arguments: I do not like spec arguments since most of the time teams only read them as a time trade-off. An adequate MG's response to spec argument for me is to just say “lol” and move to the next sheet of paper. That being said... if an Affirmative refuses to grant you links to your disadvantage/argument because they are not specifying something you should call them on it and it will be something that I consider when deciding the round.

Counterplans: A counterplan must be competitive and have a net benefit for me to vote for it. But, the Aff must also give me a reason why the CP is not competitive. If there is no net benefit I do not know why I wouldn't just vote for the Aff.

Kritiks: I am fine with Kritiks but I enjoy topic specific K's. You will have to explain the Kritik to me and provide logical reasons such as examples as to why the K matters, how it links to the Aff, and why it outweighs. You should also be able to answer a permutation to your K. If you want to run an untopical Kritcal Aff  I will listen but it may be an uphill battle for you. NOTE: If you are running multiple conditional strategies I have voted on performance contradictions when it comes to a K. Not saying it will happen all the time or most of the time BUT it has happened before. This is your activity so argue the way you want to argue

Conditionality: I am fine with conditionality (I ran conditional arguments regularly.) but I do believe that there is a tradeoff. At a certain point if you are reading an obscene amount of strategies your arguments will not be as well developed and therefore not as persuasive as your opponents. NOTE: I will not say that I will never vote for condo bad but I have yet to vote for condo bad so please keep that in mind when it comes to your strategy.

With all that being said I encourage you to use your strengths when it comes to debate, to partake in this activity in a passionate way, and debate the way you enjoy the most. I will do my best to be as open to your strategy as possible. At the end of the day I hope everyone is having fun! questioregarding it feel free to ask at the tournament.  GOOD LUCK!!! 


Mark Bentley

Appalachian State

**I have made some modifications to my judging philosophy to better reflect my view of debate**

Section 1: General Information

I approach debate primarily as an educational activity with interwoven game elements. Our in-round discourse has critical, real world rhetorical implications and the debate space functions best when critiquing ideas and power structures, whether through policy implementation or critical framework. While I am very receptive to advocacies of violence against the state or other power structures, I am very opposed to violence targeting individuals in the debate space. This doesn’t refer to a couterplan or procedural run against you that you don’t like, but that our praxis, even in competition, should be kindness towards each other, directing violence towards oppression, power structures and discourses of power and domination. Please give trigger warnings when appropriate.   

I really like specific, well run critical debates. They are my favorite, but I'm also totally good with non-critical arguments. So, if critical arguments are not your thing, don't feel like you have to run them in front of me or I won't vote for you. I vote for plenty of non-critical arguments. Likewise, just because you run a critical argument doesn't mean I'm automatically going to vote for you.

I evaluate arguments in whatever framework I am presented with, as long as it's warranted (don't just tell me something is important, tell me why it's important). I usually do not vote on defense alone, and prefer offensive arguments on positions rather than just defensive. When weighing arguments, I default to weighing probability over magnitude and timeframe, but I will weigh them differently if you explain why I should.

I have a rather high threshold for spec arguments and need to see clearly articulated in-round abuse, or I will not vote on them. This usually manifests itself as obvious underspecified, groundshift-ready plan situations. Spec arguments generally function best for me as link insurance for other positions. Asking questions are a must when running spec arguments. I tend to think conditionality, and PICs are bad, but a procedural needs to be run and won to get my vote. However, even if an argument is kicked, the rhetoric of the position has already been introduced into the round and I still consider valid link access to that rhetoric.

I tend to protect against new arguments in the rebuttals, but like POO’s called when whoever’s giving the rebuttal thinks they’re getting away with sneaking new arguments in.  I tend to grant the PMR access to new articulations to existing arguments from the MO, and the opposition from arguments suddenly blown up in the PMR.


Section 2: Specific Inquiries  

Please describe your approach to the following.

1. Speaker points (what is your typical speaker point range or average speaker points given)?

                 25-30. 27-30 is my typical range, 25 and below is typically for abusive individuals.


2.  How do you approach critically framed arguments? Can affirmatives run critical arguments? Can critical arguments be “contradictory” with other negative positions?

I definitely prefer critical arguments that are “grounded in the specificity” of the resolution, over generic, over-run kritiks (if your criticism is as important as you say, you can certainly link to and specifically engage with any res/arguments the other team runs). I will vote on permutations and theoretical objections. I also give weight to performative contradiction arguments as deficits to solvency (or however else you would like to use them). I tend to get bored with highly generic kritiks. I do not prefer non-topical Affirmative kritiks, because they unnecessarily exclude the Negative and  if the issue is as important as you claim, it definitely has specific topical application that can allow for equitable engagement by the Negative. Failure to apply your criticism to the topic puts the kiritik at a rhetorical disadvantage and opens the Affirmative up for methodological criticism by the Neg. I also prefer methodological challenges to non-topical Aff K’s rather than topicality procedurals, as the method debate tends to engage more with the substance of the kritik and doesn’t link into replications of structural oppression as readily.

Explain your ideas instead of just throwing terms around. Sure, I may know what the terms mean, but I need to know what you mean by them and how you are using them to determine the functionality of the argument. I also think it’s important to not only tell me the importance of (or need for) the interrogation or deconstruction a criticism engages in, but also why should we engage with THIS specific interrogation/deconstruction and what, if anything, it seeks to solve, resolve, change, etc. In other words, don’t drop or omit solvency of the criticism. Also, don’t give blanket blips of “alt solves all” because, no, it doesn’t. I understand that argument as a game piece, but if your advocacy is worth voting for you need to have more substantial analysis than that. Use solvency as a way to justify the need for the criticism through analysis of what it actually does.


3.   Projects and performance based arguments…

“Performance based arguments” are hard to run well, but definitely possible. The act of debating, criticizing, and advocating itself is a performance, and so you will need to do extra work to justify how and why yours is uniquely important. The way "performative arguments" are often run makes it too easy for the other team to non-unique the "performance" with links to existing power structures/discourses/performances. I tend to evaluate “performance arguments” within the proximal space of debate, and apply solvency accordingly, but also acknowledge the real world rhetorical impacts of the arguments. As with non-topical Affrimative kritiks, “performance based arguments” should have specific topic application and allow for equitable engagement for both sides.

For "projects" I have and will vote for "projects" that engage with the topic and the other team’s arguments. “Project” arguments absolutely must not replicate the oppressive structures they seek to critique against the individuals in the room. Violence should be directed at systems and people of power and oppression, not towards individuals in the round. I strongly advocate for avoiding debates that would pressure individuals in the round to disclose personal details not otherwise known or they are unwilling to discuss in a debate round. Indict rhetoric and ideas, but not individuals in the round. Practice kindness towards others, and violence towards oppression.


4.   Topicality. What do you require to vote on topicality? Is in-round abuse necessary? Do you require competing interpretations?

I tend to weigh topicality through competing interpretations (make them clear what they are). It’s much easier for me to vote on “articulated in-round” abuse, than potential abuse.


5. Counterplans -- PICs good or bad? Should opp identify the status of the counterplan? Perms -- textual competition ok? functional competition?

I tend to view most counterplans as theoretically legitimate and like to leave it up to the debaters to determine what is or is not legitimate in the given round. I don’t like delay counterplans, and will not be likely to vote on a PIC when the resolution calls for a specific plan action on the part of the affirmative. I don’t prefer conditional advocacies. I am open to voting for a PIC/Condo bad procedural. Neg should give CP status. CP’s and perms can be either textual or functionally competitive, as long as there is a net-benefit or demonstration of non-competition.


6.   Is it acceptable for teams to share their flowed arguments with each other during the round (not just their plans)

Yeah, I don’t really care what you share...but that also doesn’t mean you don’t have to flow and just use the other team’s flows. Also, I don't think teams are necessarily under any sort of obligation to share their flows with the other team, but this can also be contextually dependent.


7.   In the absence of debaters' clearly won arguments to the contrary, what is the order of evaluation that you will use in coming to a decision (e.g. do procedural issues like topicality precede kritiks which in turn precede cost-benefit analysis of advantages/disadvantages, or do you use some other ordering?)?

First off, you should definitely tell me which order I should evaluate and why. If you haven’t, this usually tells me you haven’t done your job. I usually evaluate K’s and procedurals first, then advantage/disadvantage impact calculus, probability before magnitude and timeframe.


8.   How do you weigh arguments when they are not explicitly weighed by the debaters or when weighting claims are diametrically opposed? How do you compare abstract impacts (i.e. "dehumanization") against concrete impacts (i.e. "one million deaths")?

Again, if it gets to this point, you haven’t done your job and I won’t be real happy, and you probably won’t be happy with my decision. I don’t automatically weigh death more than dehumanization, but can go either way based on the context and arguments. Dehumanization is a terminal impact. Well warranted impacts are always preferred over poorly warranted ones. I greatly prefer systemic impacts over low probability, high magnitude impacts, but will evaluate impacts on whichever framework wins out in the round.

Joe Blasdel

McKendree University

Section 1: General Information


  1. I competed in parliamentary debate and individual events from 1996 to 2000 for McKendree University.  After a three years studying political science at Syracuse University, I returned to coach at McKendree (NPDA, LD, and IEs) and have been doing so for the last sixteen years. 


  1. In a typical policy debate, I tend to evaluate arguments in a comparative advantage framework (rather than stock issues).  I am unlikely to vote on inherency or purely defensive arguments.


  1. On trichotomy, I tend to think the government has the right to run what type of case they want as long as they can defend the topicality of their choice.  While I don’t see a lot of good fact/value debate, I am open to people choosing to do so.  I’m also okay with people turning fact or value resolutions into policy debates. For me, these sorts of arguments are always better handled as questions of topicality.


  1. If there are new arguments in rebuttals, I will discount them, even if no point of order is raised.  The rules permit you to raise POOs, but you should use them with discretion.  If you’re calling multiple irrelevant POOs, I will probably not be pleased.


  1. I’m not a fan of making warrantless assertions in the LOC/MG and then explaining/warranting them in the MO/PMR.  I tend to give the PMR a good deal of latitude in answering these ‘new’ arguments and tend to protect the opposition from these ‘new’ PMR arguments.


Section 2: Specific Inquiries  


  1. Speaker points (what is your typical speaker point range or average speaker points given).


Typically, my range of speaker points is 27-29, unless something extraordinary happens (good or bad).


  1. How do you approach critically framed arguments? Can affirmatives run critical arguments? Can critical arguments be “contradictory” with other negative positions?


I’m open to Ks but I probably have a higher threshold for voting for them than your average judge. I approach the K as a sort of ideological counterplan.  As a result, it’s important to me that you have a clear, competitive, and solvent alternative.  I think critical affirmatives are fine so long as they are topical.  If they are not topical, it’s likely to be an uphill battle. As for whether Ks can contradict other arguments in the round, it depends on the context/nature of the K.


  1. Performance based arguments…


Same as above.


  1. Topicality. What do you require to vote on topicality? Is in-round abuse necessary? Do you require competing interpretations?


Having a specific abuse story is important to winning topicality, but not always necessary.  A specific abuse story does not necessarily mean linking out of a position that’s run – it means identifying a particular argument that the affirmative excludes AND why that argument should be negative ground.  I view topicality through a competing interpretations framework – I’m not sure what a reasonable interpretation is. On topicality, I have an ‘average’ threshold.  I don’t vote on RVIs.


On spec, I have a ‘high’ threshold.  Unless there is in-round ground abuse, I’m probably not going to vote on spec.  I would only run spec arguments in front of me if you’re using it as link insurance for another position and the affirmative refuses to answer your questions.


  1. Counterplans -- PICs good or bad? Should opp identify the status of the counterplan? Perms -- textual competition ok? Functional competition?


All things being equal, I have tended to err negative in most CP theory debates (except for delay). I think CPs should be functionally competitive. Unless specified otherwise, I understand counterplans to be conditional. I don’t have a particularly strong position on the legitimacy of conditionality. I think advantage CPs are smart and underutilized.


  1. In the absence of debaters' clearly won arguments to the contrary, what is the order of evaluation that you will use in coming to a decision (e.g. do procedural issues like topicality precede kritiks which in turn precede cost-benefit analysis of advantages/disadvantages, or do you use some other ordering?)?


All things being equal, I evaluate procedural issues first. After that, I evaluate everything through a comparative advantage framework.


  1.  How do you weight arguments when they are not explicitly weighed by the debaters or when weighting claims are diametrically opposed? How do you compare abstract impacts (i.e. "dehumanization") against concrete impacts (i.e. "one million deaths")?


I tend to prefer concrete impacts over abstract impacts absent a reason to do otherwise.  If there are competing stories comparing impacts (and there probably should be), I accept the more warranted story. I also have a tendency to focus more heavily on probability than magnitude.


Tyler Gillette


I debated for 3 years at KCKCC

I read a lot of different types of arguments when I debated and am willing to listen to almost anything. Just what you do best and even you are clear on why that means you win I will vote for it.

Theory- Just like any argument you need a clear link and impact in theory debates. With most theroy args I helieve it is usually a reason to reject the argument not the team. Condo: I am probably ok with conditionality, but, the more condtional arguments that are read the more sympathetic I am to the affirmative team. It will also be much easier to win if you can prove the conditional positions are contradictory to each other. CP theory: PICs are usually ok and the aff should have a defense on why wahtever the negative PICs out of is important to the aff. PIC theory is way more winable against ridiculous than it is against a PIC grounded in topic lit. .  

CPs- Are a very winable strategy in front of me. Make sure the net benefit is clear. The only 2 types of CPs I think may be iffy are consult and ridiculous word PICs out words such as "should" and "the". If you have literature grounded in the topic on reason consult is good you can probably win the argument, I just find that is rarely the case. Some word PICs are ok, if you have reason the world they said is offensive or bad for what they are trying to acheive you have a shot, but i should be subsantitive not just a PIC out of "should" "and" or "the". That does not mean I won vote on those types of arguments, I just think PICs out of minor words are harder to win and probably more thoeritically questionable.

Topicality/Framework- There needs to be a clear impact to these types of arguments, just saying it isn't fair or is bad for education is not an impact if you don't have reasons why those are true of the affirmative you are debating against. I am more than willing to vote on these arguments is they are well warranted and impacted it just may be harder to get me to vote here than it is other people. On topicality, I believe reasinibilty is the best way to evaluate it, I can be persuaded otherwise, but, that is my general starting point. On framework, it is hard for me to believe we should exclude certain styles of debate, I tend to find the impact turns to framework far more believable than the impacts to framework. The most important thing to win if you want me to vote on framework is probably topical version of the aff.

 Disads-If you have them read them. I am totally ok with almost all disads, politics is one of my least favorite arguments in debate, the links and internal links on politics are usually questionable. Offense is always a prefferable strategy, but, I am willing to say a disad has 0 risk if the aff can prove it.

Case debate- I like to see good case debate and think the neg should in someway interact with the aff case. Just like disads offense is a better strat but if the neg can prove it I will vote on 0 risk of solvency.

Kritikal affs- I am open to any type of aff you want to read as long as you can justify why what you do means you win. If your method is clear and you impact your arguments you should have no problem. When negating these affs it is usually better to engage the argument instead of jsut reading framework, it wil be a hard sale to get me to believe we should exlcude any style of deabte.

 Kritiks- I read a far amount of kritiks, but don't assume that means I know as much about the lit you are reading as you do. Kritiks are my favorite type of arguments and a usually a viable strategy, just be sure you are explainign how your argument interacts with the aff and means you win. 

I think that covers everything if you have any questions feel free to ask before round or email me


Beth Graham


TL;DR- I am comfortable with whatever makes the debaters most comfortable and I value clarity.           

Background- I was on the McKendree Parliamentary debate team for four years. We used a variety of strategies; however, I have always preferred case debate. I have been out of the activity for a few months, but I will be able to keep up with a competitive round. If I have trouble understanding you due to clarity, I will clear you. If you are quiet, I move closer before asking you to speak louder.

Disads/Counter Plans: I really enjoyed disadvantage debates. I appreciate the use of politics combined with an AFF specific disadvantage. When running a counter plan I ask that you read the text of your counter plan twice, slow down, or provide written copies.

Kritiks: During my career I read a variety of K’s and became comfortable with them. However, if you read a K in front of me, do not just read buzz words and assume I know everything about your K. I am okay with AFF K’s as well. I ask that you read your alternative twice, slow down, or provide written copies of the alt.

Theory/Topicality: I have read and gone for Theory or Topicality a few times during my debate career. When reading interps/counter interps, please read it twice or slow down. I understand the need to read theory/t in round; however, I do not appearance silly arguments such as “the AFF team must read their plan text in the 30 seconds of the PMC.” You can be conditional in front of me, but I also believe that there is a point were conditionality can become abusive. You should be wary of reading bad spec arguments in front of me. That said, make sure to answer bad spec arguments. If you feel that you need to read theory or topicality in a round, please do so.

Speaker Points: My speaker points float between 27-30; however, if you say something offensive or make a reprehensible argument, your speaks will reflect that.


Michael Gray


Arkansas State


This pertains mostly to Parli.


Debated for A-State from 2007-2011; mostly Parli, but some IPDA and Worlds. Assistant coach for A-State from 2011-2013 and Director of Debate for A-State from 2016-present. 


I'll listen to anything, but I do not evaluate blippy claims that lack warrants or logical impact scenarios. I don't need them to tell me not to evaluate an argument if you didn't make an argument. Debate jargon is useful, but it is not some magic trick that replaces argumentation. Don't try to teleport from links to terminal impacts and expect me to fill in the blanks for you. That's called intervention.


Speaker Points: These exist to reward good speakers. What is a good speaker? For me, a good speaker has little to do with who won the round. I have been known to give out more than a few low-point wins – but that may be a regional nuance or because I sometimes vote on presumption. Just speed doesn't make you good. Just knowing lots of stuff doesn't make you good. Just winning an argument doesn't make you good. It's that other thing that makes you good. Do that. Make sense?


Case: The Aff has the burden of proof & the burden of rejoinder. It is your job to fairly limit the round and present a clear case that upholds the resolution. If you can convince me otherwise, do it.


I'll gladly vote on an aff K if it makes sense and wins. But listen... it’s better when your opponent can engage. So, make your aff K clear and accessible. Save the ninja stuff for neg.


T: I love a well-run topicality argument. Or 2. Or 3. I’m completely okay with collapsing to T. I actually think teams should do it more often. It’s a lost art.


Spec/Vagueness: Yes.


K: Yes, please. Avoid any blatant mis-readings and misapplications (please listen to this... please). You will have a difficult time winning my ballot if you're (intentionally or not) misrepresenting the nature of another person's rhetoric or using well-established theory in a way that it was not intended.


DA/CP/Condi: structure, structure, structure.

My default stance is that all Neg arguments are conditional. If, however, the debate turns to theory, Aff can win condi-bad. I'll listen. I need clear articulation of theory arguments, not just blippy responses that require me to intervene to fill in the blanks.


Speed and Speed K: I prefer upbeat debate and a good pace. If you've clocked yourself, I am totally comfortable with a clear rate of speech around 275-325wmp. I’ve rarely seen a need for anyone to argue that fast. In all honesty, parli is at its best when highly-trained, charismatic debaters engage in argumentation at about 225-250wpm. Anything faster and you're probably repeating yourself, skipping syllables, and missing good arguments for the sake saying more words. That said, if you’re one of those super-clear talkers (you know who you are), I might be willing to tolerate your top speed for part of the debate.


If I or your opponent calls clear and you do not respond appropriately, you will receive the lowest speaker points you've ever gotten. I promise. You may well win the round, but you will have done so unethically and I cannot award high speaks to unethical debaters who intentionally ignore a legit request like "clear." I will vote on a speed K... IF it is run correctly, makes sense, and defended appropriately. I will not vote on "they talk fast and it's not fair."


If you holler clear or slow when it is honestly not necessary, I will… look, just don’t do it. Only use that when you must.


Rebuttals: By the time we get to the rebuttals, I've heard enough line-by-line. I'd appreciate a bit more here, but if your rebuttal sounds exactly like your previous speech (pay attention, Neg), I'm already bored. Come on, this is your chance to really secure those speaker points. Show me that you can tend to the line-by-line and cover the flow and still give me a clear summarization of advocacy and impact analysis at the bottom. 


Time, Timers, & Beeps: Thanks and stuff off time – quickly. I prefer you time one another. If you are unable, I'll start my timer when you start debating. When my timer beeps, you get maybe 10 words before I stop flowing. I've had more sentence fragments at the bottom of a flow than I can count. Look... just time your arguments. It's not difficult to just be done talking 1 second before the timer goes... it's impressive and judges notice it. Be impressive.


At the end of the day, I believe that debate is an educational game and that education does not have to be at odds with gameplay. It's both, so do both. Make it interesting and competitive and you'll receive what you earn.


Mark Katerberg


My primary goal in a debate is to have solid technical skill with deep interaction on the merits of points. A dropped argument is true for the sake of the round unless you tell me why it should not be, but the impact of that drop will not be evaluated unless I'm told why it should be. I have debated, coached, and judged Policy Debate at both the High School and Collegiate level so feel free to use lingo, speed, and get as crunchy on theory as you like. I have an understanding of most critical arguments and enjoy hearing them if they are argued well. I likely just heard what the topic is the morning of your round, so don't expect me to have technical understanding of the topic area. This debate is yours and I will vote for you for whatever reason you instruct me to unless there are arguments for why I should not.

Rodney McBride


I debated for McKendree from 2013-2016, qualifying for NPTE in my last two years of competition.

If I have to, I will roll my eyes, sigh, shrug, and vote for your critical Aff, but please dont lie to me about it. Make coherent arguments. Dont make me make arguments for you, I make weird arguments. I dont care about the inherency of the transparency of your jargony bargaining. Say smart things, not purposefully confusing things. I am not bothered by your speed, but be polite. Win your argument.


Brent Nicholson



This philosophy should give you a look into the way I think, but I believe that it will be totally sufficient given my outlook on debate. In the past, I’ve tried to be comprehensive, but I think that that lead to folks misinterpreting my thoughts on debate. Do not take my brevity to mean that I don’t have thoughts about debate, but rather that I think my own opinions ought not matter to you as a debater – this is, after all, your activity.

My goal as a judge is to adapt to the round that the debaters have. This may seem to be empty to y’all, and that’s fine, but my goal as a coach and judge is to facilitate debate rounds that debaters want to have. I feel capable of judging any debate and would encourage you to do you when I am your judge.

With that said, you’ll probably want a few things that I start off with to keep in mind.

- I assume all negative advocacies are conditional unless stated otherwise.

- I think timeframe and probability are more important than magnitude, but no one ever does the work, so I end up voting for extinction impacts.

- Give your opponents’ arguments the benefit of the doubt. They’re probably better than you give them credit for and underestimating them will hurt your own chances of winning.

- Role of the ballot arguments do not make sense to me: if you have to win that the aff/neg does something good to meet the role of the ballot, it seems like you’ve already won the regular-old impact debate. Keep trying! But be aware that I was probably already voting for you if you won an impact.


Chris Oliver


Experience: I'm new to this style of debate having participated in Cross Ex and Lincoln Douglas 20+ years ago. I'm a PhD Student in Theatre with a specialization in Performance in a new Media Age. I study Performance in all forms from television to sports to politics and diplomacy.



I teach my students to approach a problem, we must eliminate good, bad, right, and wrong. We have to dive into the details and choices we make as human beings. We must learn to make choices and defend our choices and learn from the process.


Zach Schneider




Hi! I’m Zach. I debated for 5 years of NPDA/NPTE parli (4 at Cedarville University and 1 at SIU) and this is my fourth year coaching/judging.

I used to have a much longer philosophy, but I deleted most of it. The vast majority of my specific argumentative thoughts reflect who I was as a debater, not who I am as a judge. As a judge, I’ve really stopped caring about most ideological preferences; I mostly just want to see you excel at whatever it is you do best. I also keep a Google doc of stats about my decisions if you want to find out how I historically have evaluated arguments in your preferred genre.

With that said, here’s what I think is the foundation of how I structurally understand/evaluate debates:

·         I fundamentally believe that the aff team should defend the topic (or some advocacy, anyway) and the neg team should say that the aff is bad. I am very unlikely to vote negative if the neg does not have links to the aff, even if the neg also has good arguments or is “more correct” in the abstract. This also means I think the aff always gets a perm, even in a “methods debate” (I also think every debate is about methods).

·         I think that the rotating topic is one of the best things about parli, so I am somewhat inclined to think aff teams should defend the topic (or at least adapt their K aff to the topic). I still vote for plenty of untopical aff teams, but I also end up voting for framework a fair amount.

·         I generally think that every high-level debate is won on warrant depth/comparison and impact calculus – whether it’s a policy debate, K debate, framework or T, etc. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a rebuttal with too much impact calculus. In any good debate, both sides will be winning a lot of arguments; the next-level teams are the ones that can then compare those arguments and tell me why their winning set is more important.

·         When I split with other judges on panels in high-level rounds, it’s usually because I am very technical as a judge. I keep a tight flow and I am most likely to vote for the team that is correctly identifying and leveraging the arguments they’ve won on the flow (even if I think the other team is correct on some deeper level or outside the context of debate). This is the best way I’ve found to remove my biases and make myself predictable as a judge: if your flow has the same arguments as mine (and the same extensions/comparisons) then you should rarely be surprised by my decision.

·         I cannot evaluate arguments that I don’t flow (literally; I have ADHD and I’ve long forgotten them by the end of the debate). I’m happy to listen to your speech in whatever form it takes, but if you don’t want it flowed and you also care about competitive success, it’s in both of our best interests that you strike me.

·         I respect and appreciate teams that are willing to stake out their argument and defend it, pretty much regardless of what that argument is. I love courageous, gutsy, nuanced arguments. In contrast, I am usually annoyed by arguments that I perceive to be running away from the substance of the debate (such as generic spec or random nitpicky theory arguments).

If you’re reading my philosophy to find out whether you should read argument X, you should probably assume I’m ambivalent towards it, and in general I’d rather you think “what do we want to read” or “what is strategic in this debate” not “what is Zach’s favorite argument.” I think I’m a competent judge in just about any debate and I’m happy to watch you do whatever it is you do best.


Gage Simmons


I competed for 4 years in parli debate for McKendree and am now in my first year judging. I am receptive to pretty much any style of argument but I don’t love non topical K affs. That doesn’t mean you cant read them but I have a higher threshold to vote for them and think framework can be compelling against them.

Case debate is my favorite style but I am familiar with a decent  amount of Kritiks and still enjoy that type of debate. If you choose to read those type of arguments make sure to actually explain them and not just use buzzwords .

Despite not reading much theory in my career I do like theory as long as it is well done.  I am not a fan of bogus arguments you read just to waste time.


Caitlin Smith


Experience/General Stuff:

I debated 4 years of NPDA/NPTE parli in college for Wheaton College (graduated in May) and 4 years of LD in high school. I’m currently coaching parli at the University of Minnesota and LD at Apple Valley High School. I care a lot about debate, about equity in it, access to it, and very much believe in the power it has to change lives. I try to evaluate rounds as on-the-flow as I can, though, of course, none of us are unbiased. That said, debate is a game and the real world at the same time, so I will not check my status as a moral agent at the door. I’m fine with speed and will clear you if you pass my threshold (which is unlikely). Please say all plans/CP’s/T-interps/alts/etc. slowly and twice and take at least one question in your speech (if there isn't flex time/CX). Finally, please be respectful of your opponents and partner.

AD/DA/CP Debate:

I’ll be honest, I never did well at complicated economic or political AD/DA debate, so I will be largely limited to my understanding of what you put out in a given round. If you’re clear, there shouldn’t be a problem, just don’t expect me to know what various terms or abbreviations mean off the bat. 


Please do it. This will make my job a lot easier, and also make it a lot more likely that I see the round the way that you would like me to. I will evaluate the round as you tell me to, but, that said, I default to probability first and will have a substantially lower threshold than most parli judges to vote on systemic/materialized/highly probable impacts (given any arguments being made that I should prefer them). This does not mean I will not vote on nuclear, disaster, etc. scenarios, just that I will not accept prima facie an unwarranted claim that those impacts outweigh all other things if your opponents are making arguments to the contrary.


Win the debate on whatever layer you would like, I have no problem voting on theory. I like debates that are contextualized to the way that arguments interact; if you can do the nuances of a theory debate, and/or if your opponent is clearly abusive, I will be happy to vote on that position. I default to competing interpretations. 


I debated lots of K’s in my time in parli and I love them. The biggest thing I need is a clear alt text and alt solvency. Tell me the (presumably very good) reasons your K matters in this round/against this case/whatever and give me a clear picture of what your alt is going to look like, and I will be happy. I really hate chicken-and-egg style root cause debates and would much prefer to hear substantive debate about the issues in the K. Please don’t assume I know your literature. I will vote on what is said in the round, not my prior knowledge of your particular author.


Debate is both a game and the real world. Bringing real world issues to the forefront within debate rounds is simultaneously extremely important and extremely difficult. It definitely creates change in our community and, as such, is something I take very seriously. I will attempt to evaluate every round as fairly as I can, while recognizing I do not check my status as a moral agent at the door. The one thing I like to be clear in these debates, therefore, is the role of the judge. I don’t mean that you have to include me in your movement, make me feel comfortable, or anything like that; I mean expecting me to evaluate what I’m supposed to do at the end of a debate round, with many moral issues on the table and no framework to deal with them, is very likely to give me an anxiety attack. I don’t say this because I anticipate any such problem, but simply because it is a very real concern for my mental health.

Speaker Points:

26-30, unless you do something very rude or exclusionary.


Amanda Stauder


Section 1: General Information

I debated policy and public forum in high school for four years, debated four years for McKendree doing Parli and some LD. I coached at McKendree for three years before beginning coaching at a local high school last year.

Speed –I am competent at flowing debates but admit that I am a little less in the know about current issues and slower in terms of speed than I was when I was still debating. If I can’t understand you or you’re going too fast I will let you know. If I’m confused about a position I will look confused. On critical arguments go slower.

I generally protect the PMR but just in case I miss something you should call points of order if you think the argument will matter in the decision for the round. Points of order and of inquiry are not your speech time and not a time to make an argument-- they are for question asking or to challenge whether an argument is new. If someone says no to a question do not just talk loudly over them and ask anyway/comment on the round.

Disadvantages- do the impact calculus work in the rebuttals and make sure that the rebuttals include explicit extensions of the position you want me to vote on. Politics- I do not follow domestic politics closely if at all. I do not know which senator is from where and what they think. I did debate in college and have a political science degree so you don’t have to dumb things down, just make sure to clearly explain your story and why points matter on politics disadvantages.

Section 2: Specific Inquiries

Speaker points (what is your typical speaker point range or average speaker points given)?

I try to give the median of speaker points. Higher if you really impress me, lower if you are really offensive or particularly bad at speaking. Stuttering, disorganization, and a lack of understanding about how positions interact will also not be good for your speaker points.

How do you approach critically framed arguments? Can affirmatives run critical arguments? Can critical arguments be “contradictory” with other negative positions?

I didn’t read critiques when I debated but I think I am more critical argument friendly than I was a few years ago, though they are not my favorite. I do not understand nor do I have a background in post-modern literature and the jargon does not make sense to me. Say critical things and use regular words and I should be more than able to follow along. Explain a voting rational for critical arguments over the others in the debate to help me construct a decision for one. Critical affirmatives I like less- I think you should affirm the resolution. I am likely to not vote for performance affs and really critical affirmatives- it will be an uphill battle for you and probably not bode well for your speaker points.

Topicality. What do you require to vote on topicality? Is in-round abuse necessary? Do you require competing interpretations?

I view topicality in terms of competing interpretations- standards claims with impacts to education or ground I find much more compelling that abuse claims and reverse voters, though I’m sure most people feel this way. In-round abuse not necessary but you do need to articulate what, as the negative, what you do not get access to in the world of your interpretation and then why I should care (ie how it affects debate, education, ground, etc). For affs, you have to have a

clear and supported counter interp and your own counterstandards if you want me to not vote negative.

Counterplans -- PICs good or bad? Should opp identify the status of the counterplan? Perms – textual competition ok? functional competition?

PICS are okay, specify the status of the CP so we’re all on the same page from the beginning, not voting for the CP means just that- I can still vote negative on other arguments in the debate. Reading CP with K’s is okay but you should not go for a combination of those. You can run a K and a CP but you need to pick one in the MO and adequately kick the other which means you have to answer the offense first of course.

CP theory I understand but am not particularly opinionated about. Keeping theory arguments to a minimum is probably best thought sometimes they are warranted when you’re caught off guard or the CP is actually really abusive. Theory arguments are okay but I am more reluctant to vote on them.

In the absence of debaters' clearly won arguments to the contrary, what is the order of evaluation that you will use in coming to a decision (e.g. do procedural issues like topicality precede kritiks which in turn precede cost-benefit analysis of advantages/disadvantages, or do you use some other ordering?)?

Topicality is first, then kritiks, then CP/DA/Aff. The order of priority is also up for debate. Framework arguments indicate how to evaluate the kritik verses the aff.

How do you weight arguments when they are not explicitly weighed by the debaters or when weighting claims are diametrically opposed? How do you compare abstract impacts (i.e. "dehumanization") against concrete impacts (i.e. "one million deaths")?

When not explicitly weighted by the debaters- people dying outweighs human rights abuses. Human rights abuses are the “root to all violence ever” without examples and as a blanketed claim will not get you far with me. Concrete impacts are preferable but some topics lend themselves more readily to arguments about human rights. Which is more important is up for debate and dependent on the context, and resolution, those arguments are made in.


Amanda Walker


General I debated in Parli and LD for 2.5 years at McKendree. I graduated in 2014 and have been judging since then. Debate is a competitive academic activity, and you should pursue strategies that you feel are best for you. However, your strategy should reasonably relate to the topic. I’m not a fan of strategies that rely heavily on surprise or are overly gamey (not that I won’t vote for them, but your speaker points will suffer.) In general, if you are going to read a critical or performative strategy in front of me, you should be sure to slow down a bit and explain it thoroughly-basically ELI5. Performative advocacies are not something that I have a lot of experience with and I have not been super comfortable evaluating the few I have watched. Not to say that you shouldn’t read them in front of me, but you should be prepared to thoroughly explain how I should evaluate them. I believe the affirmative team should defend a topical plan text/advocacy. I believe this strategy is often best for education and access to the round. Critical affirmatives are fine, as long as they relate to the topic. I really like topic specific disads and counterplans. If you read a K, it should have specific links. While I view debate as a competition, that doesn’t mean you should be overly aggressive, confrontational, or just plain mean to each other. I enjoy a good joke and some sass, but there is definitely a line. Specific Positions I like a good topicality debate. I don’t need in-round abuse to vote for T. I generally think condo is good and PIC’s are bad, but I’m not opposed to a theory debate. If you can convince me otherwise and there is a decent substantive debate about it, that’s great. Unless the other team is clearly abusive, I think spec arguments, in general, are not very compelling. 

Baker Weilert


Arkansas State University


Experience: 4 years policy debate in Kansas, 4 years parliamentary debate at Louisiana Tech University, and Arkansas State University. Currently Assistant Debate Coach at Arkansas State University. I was predominantly a one off K debater, if that tells you anything about my preferences. Paradigm: Tab, but I will default flow (in the most literal since of the word, which means you probably won’t like my RFD) so, PLEASE give me the lens you want to be applied so that can be avoided. Speed: You can fly like the wind, with the caveat that I truly believe the best debate occurs at a moderate rate of speed. That being said use whatever strategy you deem necessary, speak as fast as you’d like. Positions: I will listen to anything, as long as it has clear structure, and you articulate why/how I should evaluate the position. Abuse: Must show articulated abuse, for example: throw out a crappy DA and point to the No Link as reason why abuse has occurred, or any other creative way you can show me abuse. In Round Behavior: DO NOT BE MEAN, I will tank speaks. Totally fine to be witty, and slightly confrontational, but avoid personal attacks, I would much rather hear you actually debate. Generics: I don’t mind generic canned positions, but please take the prep time to make the link level specific. Overall: I believe debate is a creative space, so feel free to run literally anything you want. Enjoy and respect the debate space, and we should be all good. Don’t hesitate to ask for clarification on any of the above.