The Five Most Common LD Myths (Part 2)

Here’s the remaining two big myths I see constantly in value debate. For the first three, click here.

Myth 4: Non-external Frameworks are Meaningful

Values measure the resolution.
Criteria are means and measures for the value – making the value more accessible.

Neither of these arguments make a lick of sense if they are bundled in the thing we are measuring. Example:

Resolved: Republicans are better than Democrats.
Value: Republicans
Contention 1: ... Republicans are Republicans
Contention 2: Democrats are not Republicans?

Saying that something is good because of itself is circular. It’s like saying: “That truck is one truck-length long.” Measure it with feet, or meters, or dollar-bills, or Josephs laid end to end. But don’t measure something with itself.

Here’s a case which, if not persuasive, at least contains advocacy:

Resolved: Republicans are better than Democrats.
Value: Hair
Contention 1: Republicans have Awesome Hair
Contention 2: Democrats have Lame Hair

Bet you didn’t expect to see incisive political commentary in the middle of a value theory article. Yeah. I’m full of surprises.

Myth 5: Contentions are Argument Landfills

This might be the most common mistake.

Policy debate has a flexible ecosystem of arguments. You can build your case in diverse ways – Harms/Advantages, Comparative Advantage, Justifications, etc – and come away with a strong, coherent case. Not so in value and fact debate, which require constructing and using a framework.

The mistake usually looks like this: definitions, whatever framework arguments you like, then whatever else is left over in the contentions. The contentions don’t have a specific purpose and may not have anything in common. They’re just Whatever Was Left.

Here’s what that might look like with the current NSDA topic, “Just governments ought to ensure food security for their citizens.”

Value: Life
Contention 1: Food Security grows Economy
Contention 2: Governments can Help
Contention 3: Life is Paramount

Not only is this needlessly confusing, it’s actually self-refuting. In the value, the judge is told to measure the resolution with Life – or to put it another way, to ignore anything other than Life. Then in Contention 1, the judge is told about the Economy. Now he has to decide: accept the value, or contention 1? He can’t do both.

Here’s how we fix the above case:

Value: Life
Value Link: Paramount
Contention: Food Security Saves Lives
Application: Example of Government Helping

The contention is not a landfill. It connects the subject(s) in the resolution to the framework. Value cases have a rigid structure, using each argument class to perform a specific function. Almost any variation on that structure means a mistake has been made. As a general rule, any value case with three contentions refutes itself. This year, both Stoa and NCFCA kids need exactly two (Truth Seeking upholds my value/Individual Privacy doesn’t) and (Fair Trade upholds my value/Free Trade doesn’t).

What other myths have you been seeing? Let us know in the comments.