Parli: Identifying Moral Charges

Resolutions have 3 basic moral charges. Each calls for a significant shift in the kinds of arguments you run.

1. Moral

Moral means it discusses goodness, or one thing being better than other. “Capitalism is better than socialism.” Phrases like “ought to,” “better than,” or “valued above” all suggest a moral charge. This is by far the most common kind of resolution. 

Weighing-mechanisms in a moral resolution tell us when one thing is better. Sample value: Public Safety.

You should learn this type of resolution inside and out, but remember: there are others. Almost all policy resolutions and most value resolutions are moral.

2. Amoral

Amoral means that the resolution discusses things that are neither good nor bad. It may still assign worth, but in some morally neutral way. “Electric screwdrivers are more efficient than manual screwdrivers.” We’re discussing efficiency, which could be great if we’re building an orphanage of a birdhouse, but evil if we’re building a torture chamber. 

Your weighing-mechanism will tell us when one thing has more of X quality. Sample fact-criterion: Rotation Speed.

The final product doesn’t matter – the resolution only cares about efficiency. Most fact resolutions and some value resolutions are amoral.

3. Immoral

Immoral means that the resolution discusses bad things, or asserts that something is bad. “Anarchy is more dangerous than Communism.” Immoral resolutions are tricky because they force you to say “Vote for my terrible thing. My thing is more terrible than my opponent’s.” 

Your weighing-mechanism in the immoral resolution should tell us when one thing is worse. Sample value: Human Suffering. 

A lot of debaters would default to a flowery value, like quality of life or general well-being. After all, aren't values supposed to be the thing that we personally value? Aren't they the highest good in the round?

Nope. Values are just logical tools. We use them to figure stuff out: such as when one socio-economic system would more dangerous than another. This resolution is immoral, so we can easily use human suffering to identify the greater danger.

While immoral resolutions are rare in competition, they are worth your time in practice. Make these identifications part of your instinct!