Guide to Impact Calculus


Impact Calculus is an effective method to weigh the implications of two or more arguments. In this article, we will provide a brief overview of the forms of Impact Calculus most used in Parliamentary debate.


Impact Calculus is a way of weighing different impacts in a round. It is more of a holdover from policy than a purely Parliamentary creation. Still, it is important to be aware of the four main aspects of impact calculus. In essence, if you cannot factually disprove an argument, this is a way of proving why one subjective impact is more important than another. Pick which method you want to use based on which best benefits your case. In practice, spending too much time on impact calculus tends to be a waste of time unless you have a techy judge. Still, incorporating aspects of it into your weigh is beneficial.


There are four main types of impact calculus, each of which we will discuss further.



1. Substantiality


This means that one impact is more realistic/probable than the other. For example, there might be a 0.1% chance that an asteroid destroys the earth at some point. But there is a 100% chance that building an asteroid defense system would cost billions upon billions of dollars. Thus you should weigh based on the most likely outcome.


2. Timeframe


This is the argument that one event will come before another. For example, people will die from nuclear war before they die from Global Warming. Therefore, we should not build nuclear power plants. In debate, this tends to be one of the weakest types of impact calc. Still, in actual policy decisions, people almost always favor what will bring short-term benefits. So although it usually is not the most effective for most topics, it is interesting to think about.


3. Magnitude


This is the argument that one impact is more severe than another. For example, while everyone will be affected by global warming, only a few people will experience radiation from the nuclear plants themselves.

4. Severity


This means that the impact is more severe than another. For example, 5 billion people dying from nuclear war is worse than every human being having a lower quality of life due to global warming.


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