When examining significance, you look at two aspects of significance in every harm. The first aspect to look for is quantitative significance or how many instance of that harm are happening, how many people are hurt, how many incidents are we discussing. Quantitative significance is the realm of statistics and numbers. After that, you look at the qualitative significance of the harm. This is usually the impact and is best shown through establishing the harm in people’s lives or the harm to society caused by the problem. Qualitative significance is the realm of culture, feelings, attitudes; the abstract human emotions and issues that result from the harm discussed.
A good argument will have a balance of both quantitative and qualitative significance, but occasionally you will run into a case where these are out of balance. Any good affirmative needs to be able to explain the justification for qualitative over quantitative significance, or in some situations vice-a-versa. The harm may have many incidences, but not really have a huge impact on people’s lives. An example of this type of case would be found in the Informed Consent case. On the other hand, the harm could have few incidences, but it could impact society or people’s lives in a very harmful way. An example of this type of case could be found in the Expert Witness case.
So as a negative, how do you handle an argument against a case that lacks qualitative significance? Well, if the team actually can’t show a huge detriment to people’s lives and to society, why implement a change? This sort of case usually lends itself very well to disadvantages. If the problem identified might be happening in large numbers but there isn’t any real detriment to society/people brought out within the case, then there must be a pretty good reason why the problem is still in existence. This should bring out an avenue of DA attacks for you to build.
As far as attacking a lack of quantitative significance, you might consider whether a minor repair is the best bet. Is it really necessary to overhaul an entire system just to achieve a benefit for such a small group? If only a small group is affected, it is very likely that a small repair is all that is needed. Be aware of this and do some research into how you could enact a minor repair to the system without upholding the entire resolution. Also, you could check to see if the problem is on its way to being resolved. This often uses the affirmative’s solvency against them. If someone is working on the issue, then more are likely to be working on it as well.