Lincoln Douglas Debate What is LD Debate? Based on the seven debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas in 1858, high school Lincoln Douglas (LD) involves the philosophical analysis and debate of a resolution that has no definite answer. Two debaters argue in opposition to each other in a round, with one representing the affirmative side and the other representing the negative side. The affirmative must prove the resolution true; the negative must simply prevent the affirmative from achieving this goal. Most debate events recognize two levels of competitors: Junior Varsity and Varsity, while some tournaments include a Novice division. Debate Structure In standard LD debate structure, each side presents two kinds of speeches. The first is the constructive speech, where each side will present a prepared speech arguing for or against the resolution. The second is the rebuttal speech, used to refute arguments made by the other side and to make a final attempt to gain the judge's vote. Note, however, that because the negative is trying to disprove the affirmative's position, the negative's constructive speech will ordinarily contain elements of rebuttal as well. Additionally, each debater has one opportunity to ask direct questions of the other in the cross-examination period. The only binding rules are the time limits placed on the debaters for each speech they make. The commonly accepted time structure is as follows: 1. Affirmative Constructive (AC)- 6 minutes 2. Cross Examination of Affimative by Negative- 3 minutes 3. Negative Constructive with 1st Negative Rebuttal (NC)- 7 minutes 4. Cross Examination of Negative by Affirmative- 3 minutes 5. 1st Affirmative Rebuttal- 4 minutes 6. 2nd Negative Rebuttal- 6 minutes 7. 2nd Affirmative Rebuttal- 3 minutes Constructive Speeches In the first two speeches debaters present cases, or pre-written defenses of or attacks against the resolution. The affirmative debater spends the entire six minutes presenting the constructive since the negative has not yet spoken. The negative's constructive will be in the first speech as well, and usually take between two-and-a-half and threeand-a-half minutes. The rest of the first negative speech will contain rebuttal arguments that respond to the affirmative's case. Although there are no set rules about how a debater must present his or her case, most debaters use a generic structure to ensure they present their arguments in the clearest way possible. This structure includes: o Definitions- Explanations of key terms that the debater feels will be important in his or her advocacy of the resolution. o Framework- A collection of observations and resolutional analysis, given near the beginning of a constructive speech, which narrows the debate and possibly frames the resolution in a manner that improves the debater's chances of winning. o Standards- Concepts or rules used to evaluate the round. o Value- A moral premise that represents the most important goal for the round. Values are usually nebulous and somewhat vague; for example democracy, liberty, justice, and societal welfare generally make good values, depending on the resolution. o Criterion- A conceptual mechanism presented by the debater to achieve and uphold the value. For example, supposing the value of liberty successfully upholds the side of a particular resolution, an appropriate criterion could be free speech, so long as the debater argues that that is the most important aspect of liberty and that possessing it will allow society to criticize government thereby maintaining other types of liberty. o Contentions- The actual arguments of the case, which usually contain both evidence and inductive reasoning to prove the point. Each contention begins with a short tagline summarizing the argument (called a claim), followed by logical and evidence based justification (the warrant), as well as the effect of achieving these standards (the impact). Cross- Examination and Rebuttal Following each debater's constructive speech, the opponent is given a three-minute period to ask questions regarding the constructive that was just given. Any questions may be asked, and debaters are encouraged to use the time to clarify any confusing points made by their opponent as well as ask specific questions that weaken the other debater’s standing. The rebuttal speeches are the speeches in the latter half of the debate. In this portion, most debaters focus on attacking their opponents' arguments and defending their own in a way that will cement a victory in the round. Toward the end of the final speech, the debaters will reduce their arguments to a few core voting issues that they want the judge to focus on when deciding the winner (this process is known as "crystallizing"). Past Resolutions o Resolved: The abuse of illegal drugs ought to be treated as a matter of public health, not of criminal justice. o Resolved: Economic Sanctions ought not be used to achieve foreign policy objectives. o Resolved: In the United States, the principle of jury nullification is just a check on government.