Sample: Four Step Refutation

When responding to a portion of the argument, the most efficient and effective method to use is the Four Step Refutation.

The steps are as follows:

1. State the argument (claim, warrant, or impact) that you are answering/the argument your opponent has made.

2. State your argument against this claim, warrant, or impact.

3. Compare and contrast your argument versus your opponents’ arguments.

4. Explain why your argument should prevail or the greater failure in your opponents’ argument (why their claim does or does not have an impact, why your argument matters more, why your opponents are missing the point, etc.)



Example from US intervention topic:

  • Point 1 stressed that the US is a uniquely capable intervenor in democratic struggles. Voeten found a “statistically significant” positive impact. The Peceny evidence even states that as of 1999, 70% of countries where the US had intervened became democracies.
  • However, our Hoover card points out that chances of success of an internally imposed democracy are very slim no matter who intervenes.
  • Our opponents rely on evidence that does not take into account the past decade of U.S. interventions, which have been failures, nor do our opponents explain what “statistically significant means”. Our evidence cites the most important impact, whether democracy takes hold or not after intervention. Our evidence finds on the whole democracy does not take hold.
  • Our opponents must explain the actual effect of intervention rather than hide behind scientific language. We also must see the probability of the positive impacts our opponents illustrate. That probability is almost zero. No matter how positive the Pro’s impacts sound, they are at best idealistic and do not account for the severe impacts of a failed intervention that we illustrate in our case.

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