Presumption Triggers

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Presumption triggers are arguments that attempt to invalidate all offense in the round, causing presumption, so that the judge votes for one debater on presumption. Presumption triggers can be strategic if one debater is behind on contention-level offense, since they result in all offense becoming irrelevant. Additionally, it is not always obvious whether an argument is a presumption trigger until it is extended in the second speech, which can make responding to such arguments more difficult.

Going for a presumption trigger would only be viable if the debater is actually winning that presumption flows to their side. Since presumption is arguably more contestable than permissibility, this might be a strategic downfall of the argument.


Here is an example of a presumption-trigger ran by the negative against an affirmative with a utilitarian framework. It assumes that the negative has won that there is an act-omission distinction.

The act-omission distinction triggers presumption under the aff's util framework. The distinction says that we cannot be morally responsible for not taking actions. In other words, we cannot generate moral obligations by analyzing what would have happened were we not to act. This takes out the aff offense because they only reason why they justify acting is to avoid the harms laid out by plan – which is an omission – and all their advantages are premised upon what would happen were we not to act – but since we aren’t morally responsible for not acting, it triggers presumption.