Q&A: What exactly is an impact?

Q: What exactly is an impact?


Impact: effect, result, consequence, influence, significance, weight, repercussion, outcome

Impacts are perhaps the most forgotten and misunderstood part of arguments. Many think of impacts as those Policy things that talk about nuclear war and species extinction. Yes, those are impacts, but every argument has some impact. Impacts are not unique to Policy. Impacts explain what the result of an argument is, the effect that argument would have on the world, or even why the argument matters within the resolution. PF impacts are more “real world” than Policy and tend to involves less links within the argument. Policy style and structure allows for the reading of cards to support such impacts, whereas the style and structure of PF lends itself to more immediate effects.

The PF impact also must cater to the variety of judges that debaters will encounter. The impact not only should explain the effect of the claim, but also should illustrate for the judge why he or she should care about the argument. Make impact relatable and tangible. How would it affect the judge personally? The state you live in? The daily life of an American? Localizing large-scale effects is the most effective way to humanize impacts that are hard to imagine.

Consider having a warrant for your impacts. If you can provide evidence of the impact occurring or evidence that predicts/measures the impact’s effect, include it. If there is no evidence, at least explain the likelihood and magnitude of the impact. You will have to defend the impact as plausible and significant, just as you would a claim. For a more in depth look at impacts, please see Beyond Resolved’s chapter on Impact Calculus.


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