the basics of ld debate

 6 minutes for affirmative speech
 3 minutes for cross-examination
 7 minutes for negative speech
 3 minutes for cross-examination
 4 minutes for first aff. rebuttal
 6 minutes for negative rebuttal
 3 minutes for the last aff. rebuttal
 4 minutes of preparation time
Obviously, it is a one-on-one debate.
The affirmative tries to give good reasons for the resolution—FOR THE
Examples are almost always used to show a specific instance of what the
debater is discussing—not as a strategic, specific case on the resolution.
The negative tries to give good reasons against the affirmative case/the
resolution (again, the aff case is almost always the same as the resolution).
Typically, the debaters argue that you should decide the round based upon
the value (an ideal such as “saving lives”) and criteria (a mechanism for
weighing the value such as utilitarianism, the greatest good for the greatest
number) that each side presents.
The resolution is “RESOLVED: Security is more important than Civil
The affirmative side will emphasize a value/criteria focused on
security/saving lives/protection.
The negative side will emphasize a value/criteria focused on
The two sides should clash with each other’s arguments and
demonstrate why their side is more compelling.
Detailed Example
The resolution is “RESOLVED: When in conflict, public health ought
to be prioritized over intellectual property rights.
Affirmative Case:
Value: Saving Lives is good. Criteria: Utilitarianism, greatest
good for the greatest number.
Contention I: Public health is key to saving lives and providing
the greatest good for the greatest number.
Contention II: Intellectual Property Rights leaves lives in
danger violating utilitarianism. IPR means drugs don’t get sold
inexpensively and so many people die.
Negative case:
Value: Agree that saving lives is good. Criteria: Profit Incentive
is critical to saving lives.
Contention I: IPR profit incentive leads to new drugs that save
Contention II: IPR profit incentive provides the greatest good.
A brief explanation of LD debate:
1. A "value" is an advantage.
2. A criterion can work one of two ways:
a. "value criteria" are basically plans - only they are plans with
solvency advocates who have been dead for 300 years. For example,
a criterion like "Locke's social contract" is a proposal to achieve
certain values through use of a liberal (consent-based),
legislative government devoted to protecting the property interests of
its citizens.
b. "voting criteria" are not like plans at all - the best analogy is a
critic's judging philosophy. When LD was first invented, the desire to
move away from policy debate led its creators to suggest a way that
the paradigm adopted by the critic could become a subject for
debate. Instead of learning that one's critic was a "policymaker," etc.
the debaters would suggest paradigms for adjudicating the debate. In
LD, these criteria are "weighing mechanisms" like utilitarianism (use
value/greatest good for greatest number of people/calculation of
goodness or badness of an action), deontology (the means justify the
ends - Kant), teleology (the means justify the ends - commonly
associated with utilitarianism), cost/benefit analysis, and futurism
(what's best for future generations).
When you debate LDers, they will try to confuse you about which
type of criteria they are using: I encourage them to attempt to make
their "plans" look like "weighing mechanisms" and vice-versa.
3. The most valuable case wins the debate. The criterion is used either to
establish that one case can achieve a value (value criteria/plan) or that one
value is preferable in weight to another (voting criteria/weighing
4. The resolution is not "parametricized" or proven by a single
example. Rather, your goal is to show that the resolution should be
generally affirmed or negated as a principle. This means that you must
extend proof (analysis, empirical examples, statistical data) that would
convince someone of the viability of the resolution or its null as an abstract
5. The negative most commonly is thought of as having the same burdens as
the affirmative. In nearly all debates, the negative also presents a value and
criterion and the negative's burden in disproving the resolution is equal to
the affirmative's burden to prove the resolution as a general principle.
List out the arguments for and against the topic. Do the arguments for
outweigh the arguments against? Be sure to consider the value and criteria
presented in deciding which side's arguments are more important. Does the
affirmative case support the topic? USE YOUR NOTES OF THEIR
ARGUMENTS. Explain in, at least, a paragraph, which issues convinced
you to vote the way that you did. If you need more room, ask the ballot table
for an additional ballot.
Here is an example decision you might make:
 "The negative established that promoting democracy winds up just
imposing economic hardship on countries. The affirmative tried to focus on
freedom as an imperative. The negative, demonstrated, however, that
promotion of democracy actually winds up undermining freedom because
corporations dominate and undermine individual voices. In the end, I
concluded that democracy promotion is unfortunately not a good ideal."
 Explain your decision. USE COMPLETE, CLEAR SENTENCES. "I voted
negative because they showed that democratic ideals . . ."
 Explain why you did not vote for the arguments of the losing team. Try to
point to arguments that the winning team made that convinced you against
these arguments. "The affirmative arguments about democracy helping
freedom ignored the three negative arguments showing . . . "
 Explain what the losing team needed to do to win the debate. "The
affirmative needed better analysis showing that democracy has empirically
helped people."