Stoa Voting Guide 2018-19: Value Resolutions

Stoa's LD resolutions are out. Let's take a look!

#1: Resolved: Criminal procedure should value truth-seeking over individual privacy.

Good: Interesting Conflict. 

Privacy has seen its fair share of discussion in homeschool debate leagues, but it's great to see it discussed in criminal justice. The conversation is more specific than NSA surveillance or email encryption.  Smart affirmatives will bring up examples of high-profile criminals, or suspected terrorists: shouldn't finding the facts be more important than safeguarding privacy?

Good: Strategically Balanced.

This topic is balanced between value-centric and application-centric cases, which is rare. There are plenty of options for value-centric cases, where the debate will hinge on how we make decisions in criminal procedure, whereas others will focus on which side of the topic best meets an agreeable standard (such as justice.)

Bad: That One Recycled Response.

Sadly, there will be one argument that intermediate/novice competitors rely on to dismiss applications. For context, neg is trying to make truth-seeking look bad and invasive. It's invasive and encourages overreach.

However, the aff will defend against all of the negative's applications in Contention 1 with "but that wasn't actually truth-seeking". It's a low-effort argument and negatives will run it constantly. Advanced kids will come up with Res A's to keep it alive, and it'll show up so frequently that negative cases will be built around dealing with it even though it's nonsense.

Explaining why it WAS truth-seeking will get us back into very familiar territory for stoa kids. "That's not national security/preemptive warfare/public needs/etc." Same old tired argument. So while the wording is balanced, coherent, and understandable, it could still be better.

What it should've said: Criminal procedure should value effective policing over individual privacy.

Rating: 5 Stars. 
Longevity: 40 Rounds.

Value resolutions aren't designed to last a full season, but you can expect this one to last a while. It'll be stale by late February.

2. Resolved: The United States overvalues the “right of the people to keep and bear arms.”

Good: Timely Topic.

Gun violence seems to be making the news almost every day, and the debate about how we reduce it is ever-present. There's room for interesting arguments on either side.

Bad: Everything Else.

Gun control is an issue that utterly polarizes audiences. The persuasive needle is almost impossible to move, and affirmatives will always have an uphill battle. There's almost no value debate here; the question primarily comes down to public safety and that's a question for statistical scientists. High-schoolers are likely to mishandle statistics and opponents will struggle to articulate how. Statistics are hard.

The wording also gives a free pass to the low-hanging no link response. Aff gives an application of a mass shooting. Neg responds. "Not within the right to bear arms, he's a felon. Laws don't protect criminal behavior!"

The debate will get boring fast. 

It should say: "The United States overvalues the Second Amendment."

Rating: 2 Stars. (As a practice res, 5 stars.)
Longevity: 10 rounds.

3. Resolved: Advances in biomedical engineering that save human lives ought to be valued above deontological ethics.

Good: Fresh Topic Area.

Biomedical engineering is getting more relevant every day and is wrought with value implications. It's about time we had a conversation about it. Expect new applications to be run throughout the season as medical research makes new breakthroughs.

Bad: Requires Conflict-hunting. 

This resolution correctly omits the phrase "when in conflict" (because the conflict in a value resolution is always implied). However, figuring out where there is a conflict is the most difficult aspect of this resolution. Intermediate/advanced debaters will find out almost immediately that the best way to win is with effective Res As (that clarify the scope of life-saving biomed or deontology). 

But we have to look out for everyone. Novices will have to learn debate while writing cases for a res that calls for a highly complex case. It's going to be rough for them.

Bad: The Real Debate: Which Deontology?

Deontology just means rules. As aff, you'll come up with a set of rules that conflict with life-saving biotech. Then you'll say these rules aren't as cool as biotech.

Neg will come up with a different set of rules that conflict, and insist that we understand deontology with those instead. The res forces a strategic imbalance: on aff, you have to be app-centric (yada yada deontology is lame CHECK OUT THIS NEW TECHNOLOGY WOW) and on neg, you have to be value-centric: (WAIT USE THESE RULES. THESE ONES. BIOTECH? WHO IS SHE?). We care about the examples on aff, but on neg, we really only care about how we measure deontology.

Good resolutions don't do that. Here are two better resolutions.

A) Advances in biomedical engineering that save human lives are worth the cost.

B) In the field of medical ethics, consequentialism ought to be valued over deontology.

Rating: 3 stars. 
Longevity: 25 rounds.

It is a great topic area, with strong persuasively charges for each side. Fix the wording, and it'll be a strong contender for future seasons.

Vote for res #1.

[Policy Resolutions coming soon.]