A kritik is a form of argument or disadvantage that is not unique to the other side's argumentation; that is, it is a very broad criticism that challenges, for example, an assumption or general means of argumentation.
A kritik typically does one of the following: (1) criticize a resolution for its phrasing or abusiveness, and hold that the ballot ought to be in favor of one side, (2) criticize a debater's approach to argumentation, or something a debater did/said (e.g. the usage of profanity), or (3) challenge a core assumption held by the resolution or the other debater's case (e.g. on the resolution "The USFG should expand its non-military exploration of the oceans," a kritik would say "the USFG shouldn't even exist in the first place" or advocate for anarchism instead). On DDO, the user Zaradi is known for running kritiks. Indeed, he described a kritik as the following:
Kritiks, modeling the German version of the English word "critique", are cases that challenge assumptions within the resolution or within your opponent's case. There are two kinds of kritiks -- pre-fiat Ks and post-fiat Ks.
Pre-fiat Ks talk about the ways that your opponent approaches answering the resolutional question and how they're either wrong, harmful, or lead to something that is wrong/harmful. For example, if I were to argue that we should give animals rights because it reduces animal suffering, a pre-fiat kritik of this position would be that trying to reduce suffering is a bad thing, and that we shouldn't be looking to reduce suffering, this would be a pre-fiat K on the topic.
Post-fiat Ks, as opposed to pre-fiat Ks, talk about the results of affirming and how they would lead to disastrous results. For example, if we stay with the animal rights topic, a post-fiat K could argue that establishing new rights serves as a proxy for the government to assert more totalitarian control over us, which could lead to a lot of disastrous harms to our humanity and value to living.
Structure of a Kritik
In most forms of debate where kritiks are accepted, they typically follow the following structure:
The "links" are the foundations of the kritik, which describe (1) the reasons for the truth of the kritik text, or how there is a violation of some principle within the resolution or the opponent's case, and (2) the reason that violation is bad. The "impact" is the result of that principle violation, or the magnitude of the harm. The alternative is the means to solve the problem outlined in the kritik. In a kritik that challenges an assumption made in the argument or the resolution, the alternative would be an actual solution; however, in kritiks that criticize the resolution or the opponent's means of approaching the resolution, the alternative is typically a ballot in favor of the side that runs the kritik.
Kritiks have been criticized for multiple reasons. They have been frequently criticized, both on Debate.org and on live debate circuits, for being overly difficult to understand. DDO member FourTrouble has noted that it is possible to run a kritik without the obfuscation of language:
"The way to run a K is to write the arguments yourself. If you're using Derrida, cite him, but don't quote him. Explain the argument clearly. There's no need to obfuscate meaning in a debate. It only hurts your argument. And the idea that these ideas can't be explained clearly is bullsh!t. All ideas, concepts, arguments, no matter how complex, can be put into plain English.'I think Ks get a bad rap precisely because folks who run them say it's not their fault the kritical literature is dense, when (a) the literature isn't dense, it's doing specific rhetorical things that you can only appreciate in the full context of the literature, and (b) it doesn't need to be "dense," as even the most complex arguments can be articulated with uncomplicated, plain language."