I. Introduction to class topic
In today’s class, we’re going to look closely at the Lincoln-Douglas resolution. This year, the resolution is, “Resolved: That the United States foreign trade policy ought to value human rights above national sovereignty.” This may not make sense to you right now… and in today’s class, we’re going to explain in great, exhaustive detail what it means. Today we’ll be talking about the resolutional analysis. The resolutional analysis comes at the beginning of an affirmative case and discusses what exactly the resolution means.
II. Resolutional Analysis
Your standard value case is divided into two parts. The first is called resolutional analysis and the second is called the case proper. The ‘Resolutional analysis’ is just a fancy way to say, ‘analyze the resolution.’ The reason a resolutional analysis is important is because when you’re establishing your support for the resolution, it’s very helpful to know exactly what the resolution says and to explain this to judge.
Resolutional analyses are useful for three purposes.
1. They set the topic of debate.
2. They set the parameters for the debate.
3. They establish the burdens of proof in the round.
In value debate, we have a sort of checklist for debaters to run down to make sure they’ve analyzed the resolution enough. This checklist includes definitions, burdens, value premise, and value criterion.
Definitions are a very integral part of any debate case. A lot of times, particularly with values, we have different ideas about what a term means. For instance, the word “liberty” for many people means “freedom to do whatever you want.” But “liberty” also means “freedom from unjust restrictions.” These two concepts are both completely different and also both completely valid. Therefore, it’s important to start of the debate with definitions so that your opponent and your judge know what kind of liberty you’re referring to.
When defining your terms you’re going to want to:
1. Use a mainstream dictionary. (Webster’s, Black Law, American Heritage, etc)
2. Give a good definition, not a twisted one that puts you at a competitive advantage.
3. Make sure major phrases such as “trade policy” are defined together. Sometimes defining words separately makes for a pretty strange definition. (black/cherry, French/fry, etc) It may turn out that the words in the term can be defined separately and still validly, but it's better to have the two words defined together.
4. Define the ambiguous, major terms. Looking at the resolution for this year, which words or terms strike you as being unclear? (“trade policy,” “human rights,” “national sovereignty,” maybe “ought”)
5. Do not define obvious words such as “the” or “is.” Unless you’re debating Bill Clinton, this is just unnecessary and a big waste of your time.
If you’ve done a good job of defining your terms, everyone in the round will know what everyone else is talking about, and this is a very important first step towards achieving communication.
Resolutional burdens ask the question, “What do I need to do in order to win this debate round?” Writing burdens is actually very easy. It’s simply a matter of examining the wording of the resolution and deciding what you have to do to effectively uphold the statement of the resolution. Because this is a resolutional issue, it's better to address the burdens of the round before laying the framework for your case.
Presenting your case in support of the resolution is like giving the judge a huge Mrs. Field's cookie. "I'm going to prove that the United States foreign trade policy ought to value human rights over national sovereignty." It's quite a mouthful, isn't it? Burdens are like taking that huge cookie and breaking it down into bite size pieces. Some obvious burdens from this year's resolution are:
1. Human Rights are important
2. Human Rights are important within trade policy
3. Human Rights are to be preferred over National Sovereignty
This may seem simplistic and unnecessary, but laying down the burdens in the round is actually very helpful. At the end of the round after much heated discussion on various wars, sanctions, and trade policies, you can sort through the muck and bring back these very simple burdens. At that point, you need only to go through the list of burdens and demonstrate surely and succinctly that you have fulfilled each and every one of them.
Use burdens to your competitive advantage. Looking at burdens in relation to the resolution this year, we could say that it is the affirmative team’s burden to prove that human rights should always be valued above national sovereignty. That would be a good negative burden to put on the affirmative team because it’s hard to prove absolute statements. But the affirmative team could say that their burden is only to prove that, on balance, we should value human rights above national sovereignty. In other words, if the affirmative team shows more instances that human rights is more important a value than national sovereignty, they should win.
V. Selecting your value premise
The resolution will often provide a general term that must be further defined as a specific value. This year, the values espoused by the resolution are “human rights” and “national sovereignty.” Because these values are both pretty broad, this allows for the affirmative and negative team to select more specific values to support the resolution.
But before we delve deeper into how to choose a value to defend throughout the round, it’s important that we all really understand what values are. A value is an idea, principle, or thing that is desirable (or valuable if you don't mind using the same word to define the word :).
There are at least two types of values.
1. Intrinsic values. Intrinsic values are desirable due to the nature of their characteristics.
2. Pragmatic values. Pragmatic values are desirable because of their application in the real world. (Graham, 14)
What are some values that you can think of? What are some ideas that Americans believe have intrinsic or pragmatic worth? (should be lots of ideas… liberty, life, pursuit of happiness, property, health, peace, security, etc)
When choosing a value to defend, you want to keep several rules of thumb in mind.
1. Your value must fit within the resolution. You may think the highest value is “new shoes,” but if the resolution is talking about national sovereignty, your value can’t be new shoes, no matter how important that value is.
2. Your value should agreed upon as having desirable characteristics. As the writer of your case, you can say that anything is a value, including “socialism” or “death.” But you probably wouldn’t want to defend these values in a round because very few people would buy that these things have intrinsic or pragmatic worth. Avoid cognitive dissonance!
3. Your value should uphold the entirety of the resolution. There are many different values that fall under the larger, broader value of human rights but you want to make sure to select the one that best upholds “human rights.” Narrow the term, but don’t narrow it too much.
VI. Selecting your value criterion
One of the characteristics of a value is that it is a concept of worth based on consensus from a society, group, or collection of people. (Graham, 14) Given this characteristic, values are usually broad and somewhat fuzzy. That’s why, along with your value premise, you also want to propose a criterion.
Former LD debater Jason Baldwin defines criteria as, “A criterion for the value premise details how the judge will recognize when that broader value has been adequately supported.” In this way the value is the goal, and the criteria is the path taken to achieve that goal. (Graham, 15)
Picture yourself sitting in a car at the edge of the Grand Canyon. Across the chasm is an In-N-Out. You need to get the car across the chasm to get yourself a sumptous meal... but how? Build a bridge. In this analogy, the car is the application of your value in the real world; the value is (of course) the In-N-Out restaurant; and the bridge is the criterion. The criterion is a bridge between the application and the value.
VII. Purpose of Value/Criterion
The basic reason for proposing a value premise and criterion is to identify a standard for the judge to use in choosing which side wins the debate. (Baldwin) This framework serves inclusion and exclusion functions. (Yay!)
The inclusion function of the value premise is to identify the arguments that have merit based on the value. If you have shown the significance of your value premise, the arguments within your case will have added significance as they correspond.
The exclusion function identifies arguments that are not relevant to the value premise. If your value premise is security, and an opposing argument shows negative impacts to freedom, that opposing argument can be refused as irrelevant to the value premise. In this way a clear value premise can serve as a relevancy filter for arguments in the debate. (Graham, 14)
VIII. Class exercise
Discuss current national/international issues (Westerfield case [capital punishment], war with Iraq, gun control, whatever) and identify the value conflict in each. If you have a white board, make a list of values for each side of the issue. (e.g. Capital punishment pro: retribution, justice, safety; con: mercy, forgiveness, life, etc.) Class participation time!!! Let the kids work stuff out.
Find two controversial issues in current events. Find out why the issue is controversial by looking at both sides of the story and identifying the values that are in conflict. Write a brief summary of the story and how the values clash. (This should take approximately half a page, typed, or a full page handwritten)
(e.g. Westerfield trial/Captial punishment: Justice vs mercy. War with Iraq: Peace vs National Security interests, whatever… the goals here is to get them thinking about values in every day life… discuss issues if you have extra time at the end of class, make lists, etc)
Bibliography of sorts:
Cox, Martin R., and Matthew Whitley. Arguing About Values: An Introduction to Lincoln-Douglas Debate. 1998
Baldwin, Jason. An Introduction to the Value Premise. Rostrum. 1999
Graham, David et. al. Lincoln-Douglas Debate Handbook. 2001
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