My take on the Stoa Spring Vote 2015 – Part 3 – LD resolutions

By Kirk Bravender

So, the Stoa 2015 Spring Vote items are out, and you’re wondering what you should vote for. Here is a brief analysis of each item on the ballot this May. We last looked at OI vs. Storytelling. Let’s take a look at the four proposed LD resolutions. Look for a discussion about the TP resolutions later on.

Lincoln Douglas Value Debate Resolutions – Stoa Speech and Debate

Vote: For Two of the Resolutions Developing countries ought to prioritize economic growth over environmental protection. 4. Resolved: The use of economic sanctions to achieve U.S. foreign policy goals is moral. The key to this resolution is the word moral. The word goals implies a level of pragmatism, so is this a directly pragmatic question?

Before we dive too deeply into the actual resolutions themselves, let’s take a look at a different perspective on a now extremely unpopular measure that was approved last year by a 60% majority.

Resolution 1 – Resolved: In art, form ought to be valued over content

I would not vote for Resolution 1 for two reasons – vagueness and Neg weight. I know a lot of people really like art. Personally, I don’t want to debate art for half of a school year. Art is admittedly really cool, but let me explain those two reasons I mentioned earlier.

First, the resolution is very vague. The debate will probably end up as a definition war, versus a good values clash. There’s also potential for application wars, but not so much as some of the other resolutions.

Party because of the unusual broadness of the resolution, one club in particular has decided not to compete if the first resolution is voted in. Their rationale:

“Simply put, the topic is quite likely to lead to research that includes images of a pornographic nature and our club feels strongly that is not something we are willing to risk. I am not simply referring to classic works of art but more to modern works that many don’t call art at all. We realize that we can’t protect our students all the time and that items of a pornographic nature can easily be found by anyone who wants to find them, but that is entirely different than directing them straight to the portals this debate topic is likely to include. In order to prove their point, students will need to look for reasons to value form or content and that will mean looking for harmful, negative or offensive examples.”

— Rebecca Starbeck

Second, the resolution is very weighted towards the Neg. The negative can say that both form and content need to be valued equally, which will chime with the understanding that most judges have of art. So there will be a lot of bias/weight towards the Neg.

Resolution 2 – Resolved: In formal education liberal arts ought to be valued above practical skills

This resolution seems decent. Brings out new ground for debate, doesn’t have the main problems with the first resolution, and opens up new values that wouldn’t have worked under older Stoa resolutions. In short, it’s pretty cool.

Resolution 3 – Resolved: Developing countries ought to prioritize economic growth over environmental protection

This one seems really cool. It hits a hot topic in the world today. It’s not nearly as broad as the art resolution. The boundaries of the debate are defined well. There is potential for application wars, but on the whole, this resolution seems like a great choice.

Resolution 4 – Resolved: The use of economic sanctions to achieve U.S. foreign policy goals is moral

On its face, this resolution seems decent as well. However, this resolution also suffers from being extremely Neg weighted. Neg can simply say that government is amoral (as opposed to moral or immoral). Either every single round will go to the Neg, or every single round will devolve into a definition war over the definition of moral. Not a pretty picture.


Because Resolutions 1 and 4 suffer from extreme Negative weight, I would most likely vote for Resolutions 2 and 3.

Penny for your thoughts. Post a comment!