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June 21, 2010 / compassioninpolitics

Lessons from Lincoln Douglas

It been a while since I participated in lincoln-douglas debate, but here are some simple fundamentals.

There are three primary lessons policy debaters can learn from lincoln-douglas debaters:

1) how to debate ethics (and perhaps background for critiques like qualitative arguments)
2) how to think about criteria and gateway arguments
3) how to construct arguments

Common value premises in Lincoln Douglas debate:

1) Justice (and particular types of justice)
2) Dignity
3) the resolutionally dictated value (***)

Ethics and morality usually amount to:

1) Intent
2) Means
3) Ends: Rule utilitarianism or act utilitarianism
4) Virtue ethics
5) Anti-values (ie avoiding bad things like Racism or Dehumanization)

Here is a short list of things to consider:

1) Purpose (duty/responsibility) (duties break down into human duties and duties to contract/organizations/government)
2) We subsume your value
3) We are the prerequisite to your value (utility vs. rights, life vs. quality of life (also called “value to life” in policy debates). Conversely, your value is only valuable in relation to achieving ours.
4) Our value dovetails with human nature or the purpose of humanity.
5) the ability to apply the value to resolve conflicts (pragmatic/utilitarian value)
6) how it accesses other values which are important in society or the sector of society debated in the resolution
7) Alternatives or exclusion of alternatives

In search of more “debating values” and “debating criteria” methods. Also in search of activities.


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