Lincoln Douglas
• In 1858 Abraham Lincoln challenged his
opponent for the U.S. Senate, Stephen Douglas,
to a series of debates. Douglas accepted and
there was a spectacle in 7 cities, complete with
cheering crowds and brass bands.
• The issues were state rights and slavery. As a
result of this “clash,” 2 person debates on a
proposition of value are called Lincoln-Douglas
• Political candidates continue to use this backand-forth speech format. It communicates their
clash of ideas on important issues of the day.
L-D Debates
• L-D Debates are different than the last type of
debate we completed (Policy Debates) in
2 key ways. (value and 1 on 1)
• However, the principles of research,
argumentation, evidence analysis, case
preparation, and rebuttal that were discussed
during our last debate apply to L-D debates as
(Side Note)
• Due to the nature of the ideas/concepts in an LD debate, style, especially your delivery, is one
of the most important parts of your debate.
• Meaning, how you speak and deliver your side is
the biggest portion of your debate grade.
Debating Propositions of Value
Difference in How You Argue
• Because L-D arguments hinge on propositions of value,
which are neither right nor wrong, you will find it
necessary to argue less from statements of fact (This is
right. They are wrong. This evidence proves I am right.)
and more from evidence that provides philosophical
support for value preferences. (philosophy =
rational investigation and critical study of
• Your ability to convince a judge of the merit of your
arguments is less about how much evidence you
use than about how you present statements of
value and how you support the values you offer
in the round, both through evidence and logical
Making Sense of This
• To debate L-D topics, you must understand what
values are and how they affect our lives and
• Also, remember that values are neither right nor
wrong. They are descriptions of what is preferable or
• LD is more conceptual, and real-life examples may
illustrate some philosophical truth, but may not
necessary “prove” it.
• Which makes more sense to the audience and is the
more logical/philosophical choice?
• We all have a set of values that come from the
social, political, and religious influences in our
lives. Personal, professional, and political
conflicts often occur between people because
people hold different values or prioritize their
values differently.
• Just because you disagree with someone doesn’t
mean their opinion/value judgments are wrong.
Value Proposition
• A proposition of value declares some judgment
about some reality.
• A value declaration requires that the debater
determine and support the reality as well as
determine and support the reasonableness of the
• “The temperature is too hot in this room” is a
proposition of value.
• It should be obvious that everyone debating this
proposition must agree upon the temperature and
the room – which may be open to debate.
• However, we must also pursue the correctness of the
judgment declared. What is “too hot?” You must
establish a standard of judgment.
• Then, ask “too hot for what?” We must argue against
a standard. “Too hot to boil water?” “Too hot to
freeze something?” “Too hot for school?”
• A value judgment is not just a matter of personal
opinion – don’t be mistaken.
• Arguments (in the previous scenario) can be
made as to appropriate standards of judgment.
• Then, arguing the temperature to the standard
can result in a strong case.
• Notice: propositions of value cause debaters to
argue both facts (material truths) and values
(appropriate standards of judgment). And the
debate doesn’t end there.
• The debaters must also argue how the facts
measure up against the standards of judgment.
Another Example
• You cannot decide that your wristwatch is worth
more than my watch until you agree upon the
standard with which you establish its worth.
• If the standard of judgment is dollar value and mine
is plastic and was free with my new running shoes
and your watch is an antique Rolex. Yours is worth
• However, what if we both need to be at the airport
on time? My watch keeps great time, while your
Rolex has not kept time for the past fifty years. My
watch is worth more than yours if telling time is the
standard of value.
• If we cannot agree upon an appropriate standard, then we
have to argue over what standard is the more appropriate
for deciding the worth of wristwatches.
• That may be an argument that is difficult to decide.
• I may argue that the essential nature of watches is as a
timepiece, and that telling time is the best way to judge the
value. To that, monetary value is secondary.
• You may argue that both watches have the same purpose
and yours can be repaired - and that the ultimate worth of
something is the accumulation of all of its potential values.
Your watch may not tell time, but it could if fixed. Add that
to the monetary value and yours is the most valuable.
• How would an objective judge decide this debate?
• It would depend upon which of us seems most reasonable
in arguing the appropriate standard of judgment.
Values are Categorized as:
• Moral or ethical: judgments about right/wrong
or good/bad
• Artistic: what is beautiful or ugly
• Pragmatic or Practical: what is practical or
• Political: principles such as democracy, justice,
Core Value
• To defend or reject a proposition of policy (last
debates) requires a standard of judgment against
which the “facts” are compared.
• The standard of judgment in value debate is the core
• The core value is often implicit within the context of
the proposition; for example, “Individual rights are
more important than social order.”
• Implicit in this topic are core values such as
freedom, liberty, safety, etc.
Core Value Cont’d
• A debater upholding the importance of individual rights
might argue that liberty would be secured by the value
judgment, and that liberty is of utmost importance.
• A debater rejecting the proposition might argue that
upholding liberty above all else would be an
endorsement of anarchy and chaos.
• The case for rejection might argue that stability is
essential to the survival of society, and therefore social
order is of greater importance than individual rights.
• The rejection might argue further than unless stability
can be guaranteed, liberty is meaningless if not
impossible. So – social order may be necessary for
liberty to be meaningful.
• Both sides could argue the core value of “liberty.”
• Either way, core value is the standard argues to
be of utmost importance when trying to decide
the truth of the value judgment.
• Since you are trying to advocate your side of the
proposition, you choose a core value that you
think most people would accepts as an assumed
value to society and one that your side of the
proposition uniquely upholds.
As far as our debates go
• We hold many values, and at time one value
conflicts with another.
• When this happens, we must decide which is
more important.
• In doing this, we establish a hierarchy or
ordering of our values.
• You are proving that your value judgment goes
above the others, thus saying your side should
Value Criteria
• When you are arguing that liberty is being met by
upholding the proposition that individual rights are
more important than social order, you find yourself
explaining what constitutes liberty, its elements, and its
• This explanation is important.
• Value criteria are the measures by which the facts of
individual rights are compared with the standard of
judgment, which is liberty.
• Generally speaking, value criteria are the measures by
which the facts of the value proposition are said to
uphold the core value.
• Different types of value propositions demand different
considerations for both core values and value criteria.
Common Values Debated
Pursuit of Happiness
• Lincoln Douglas debates allow for analysis to
determine how values are ordered and how they
should be ordered.
• Though neither side is necessarily right or wrong
– one side will analyze the issue better and state
why it is more important to agree with them and
why their side makes “more” sense.
Two Forms of LD Topics (Types of Value
1. The first is more common and asks for the
resolution of judgmental declarations or
statements of fact.
For example: “Resolved: That government
limits on a right to bear arms in the US is
2. The second is purely philosophical and calls for
comparison of two “core”/”terminal” values.
For example: “Resolved: That liberty is
preferable to life”
First Option (Single Entity)
• “Resolved: That government limits on a right to
bear arms in the US is justified”
• First, you will define the terms in this topic. The
debate over this topic will center upon the values
of society that are upheld by such laws.
• A case to reject this resolution will focus on
precious values that are compromised, limited,
or denied by such laws.
First Option (Single Entity) Cont’d
• To support the resolution, an appropriate core value
might be the protection of public welfare. The value
criteria might be duty or safety.
• The appropriate value criteria depends upon the
core value: safety may be important for measuring
the protection of the public welfare; fair
administration of laws may be the test for justice,
and duties fulfilled may be the criterion for
determining whether social contract is met by
• The case upholding the resolution could argues that
laws that protect citizens from themselves are
justified because they promote safety (the value
criterion), which is necessary for gaining the
protection of the public welfare (the core value)
Second Option: Comparison Between
Two Entries
• “Resolved: An oppressive government is more
desirable than no government.”
• A value proposition that declares a judgment of
comparison between two entities requires a
different approach.
• This declares that between two separate
conditions, items, or ideas, one is to be preferred
over the other.
• You can compare in many ways: one has higher
priority, one is more desirable, one is more
important, one has greater value, etc…
• Definitions will be of first importance. What is meant by
“oppressive” and what is meant be “no government?”
• Then, again, decide on core values.
• Decide on your value criteria. For example, laws and
rules would be important for determining order and
• Aff. may say: while laws can be restrictive, it’s necessary
for stability – which is essential to stabilized society.
• Neg may say: no government would mean no organized
restrictions upon fairness and dissent, and while chaos
might flourish with no gov., fairness and free expression
would be worth the cost of avoiding cruelty and
Burden of Proof
• Burden of Proof means those obligations held by the
debater initiating the argument.
• In LD debates, the value proposition is not assumed to
be a judgment that is right or wrong… so there isn’t a
burden of “proof”
• Instead, they have the job of arguing that the proposition
is reasonable for anyone to believe. They have the
burden of proving the reasonableness of the proposition.
• The negative has the burden of proving it false or
• However, this argument won’t decide the debate because
neither is assumed “true/right.” It is a part of winning
the debate.
Burden of Rejoinder
• The burden of rejoinder (or refutation) means
the obligation to respond.
• Both sides have the burden of rejoinder. They
must respond and reply to the opposing side.
• This means that in addition to presenting your
case and your points, you must respond to what
the other side said during their speaking time.
• If you simply read what you wrote and your case,
but don’t reply to the opponent’s claims – there
is a lack of clash and you could lose the debate.
• You know what clash is – the interaction between
both side.
• You must do this during the debate – it is how one
side is shown to be weak or to shine as strong.
• Clash requires you to think on your feet.
• So, when the affirmative goes first – the negative
must present their case AND comment on the
affirmatives when they speak.
• Then, after the negative goes, the affirmative does
the same.
Affirmative Constructive
Cross-Examination by Negative
Negative Constructive
Cross-Examination by Affirmative
Affirmative Rebuttal
Negative Rebuttal
Affirmative Rebuttal
6 min
3 min
7 min
3 min
4 min
6 min
3 min
The long negative constructive allows for both
constructive and rebuttal opportunities.
While both debaters have equal time, the affirmative
has one more speech than the negative.