Intro to Kritiks (a.k.a. Ks)

Added on by Henry Zhang.

Kritiks, pronounced like "critiques" and sometimes abbreviated as a K, are some of the most intimidating positions. Not necessarily because of their complexity, but rather because the arguments that they express tend to come from rather dense philosophical positions and have less to do specifically with the nuances of the topic. As a result, it takes a lot more effort to come up with a kritik and to use it as a viable position. However as always, understanding its function and structure is key to being able to deal with it when you inevitably have to respond to one.

Kritiks are generally run by the negative as a specific indict of a practice or argument made by the affirmative debater. The kritik is broken up into three sections: the link, the impact, and the alternative.


The first part of the logical chain in a kritik is the links section. Because in a kritik your main goal is to discuss some sort of mindset or convoluted epistemological harm that your opponent is biting into, the links is the section where you explain how exactly your opponent's advocacy is biting into your criticism.

Ultimately your links can be based on many things. You can draw links specifically to the text of the resolution, specific arguments your opponent referenced, or even specific words that they say. And like a violation in a theory argument, it is often useful to attempt to pin your opponent in a corner by forcing them to explicitly verify how they link into your criticism.

Note: Be very, very sure that your own actions do not similarly cause you to link into the kritik. This is one of the most common ways to respond to the argument and undermine it, so being extra vigilant on this issue is recommended.


The impact is again the section that you are probably extremely familiar with. Given your criticism of some action, you need to explicitly vocalize why it's bad. In this section, it is general imperative that you cut evidence specifically on the issue rather than making use of your own analysis. Because these issues tend to be rather out-there, referencing a well-established philosopher or moral theorist is critical to maintaining the strength of your position as a whole.


The alternative is the final section, and it is debatable whether this section is actually required in your position. Essentially in your alternative, you talk about what should be done instead of the action that is being criticized. It is a hotly contested topic as to whether this section is required. However, if you do include this analysis, be sure that your alternative is consistent with your position as a whole, and you would probably benefit greatly from using the same type of evidence as found in the other sections.