We are so excited to reveal the resolution options for the 2023-24 competitive season!
1. Resolved: The letter of the law ought to have priority over the spirit of the law.
Law is interpreted differently depending on the type of law and what country it is practiced in. There is an inherent conflict between following the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. Laws are drafted with certain wording that has specific meaning which may or may not reflect the intent of the law. The spirit of the law refers to the intent or purpose that the creators of a law had in mind when they crafted the law. How do we know which way to approach laws? Should different types of rules or laws be seen differently? Thomas Aquinas’ understanding and definition of law will differ from Montesquieu, Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle’s view. The resolution is not set in a specific type of law and could be more broadly interpreted over historical time periods, civilizations, and nations.
2. Resolved: National security concerns ought to be valued above individual rights. This debate is as old as the advent of the state and as enduring as the pages of history: should the government prioritize its own security or subvert that security to better serve its citizens’ rights? Conscription, censorship, surveillance, state secrecy, suspension of habeas corpus, propaganda and manipulation, lavish spending on the military – all these measures come at the cost of individual rights, yet even free societies consider many or most of these practices essential responsibilities of the state. So, what should be the relationship between security and rights? What should we prioritize?
3. Resolved: Higher education is overvalued in the United States.
In the United States most teens are strongly encouraged to attend college. College graduates, as a whole, earn higher salaries, have more career opportunities and have more stability in their lives. They also have the opportunity to grow specific skills and gain knowledge in a broad area of disciplines. Doctors are trained in universities to help advance citizens' health and save lives. Engineers help build a world that is safe and invent technologies to make our lives more productive and comfortable. But is there a better way? Is pursuit of the trades and individual entrepreneurship undervalued? Throughout the debates on this resolution the students will explore the true cost/benefits of formal education.
4. Resolved: A free press ought to prioritize objectivity over advocacy.
This resolution encourages students to explore the ethical principles that underlie media practice and our information ecosystem. Most codes of journalistic practice affirm objectivity and confirmation of facts as essential elements of the discourse. However, when we examine news consumption from the perspective of people’s expressed preferences, a different picture emerges. The rise of cable television, talk radio, and the internet have allowed news consumers to tailor their information streams to outlets that they trust, including partisan outlets. The line between news and commentary has become increasingly indistinguishable and there are powerful incentives for legacy media to shift coverage in the directions tailored to audience tastes and sensibilities.
5. Resolved: Elected representatives ought to value constituent interests above their own conscience.
Politicians in representative democracies must decide how to represent constituents, and an individual politician’s understanding of the responsibilities of office may conflict with the expectations of their constituents. Some politicians seek to mirror constituent views and act in their interests, irrespective of the politician’s personal preference. Under this model a politician is meant to express the will of constituents and act as a proxy. Another model requires a politician to exercise his best judgment on a given topic and trust that constituents voted for the politician to exercise discernment, study issues, and reach optimum conclusions. A separate idea states that politicians should act as partisans and stick to party lines. Which one is best?
1. The United States Federal Government should substantially reform its energy policy.
This topic offers debaters the chance to learn about both the science and economics in the energy market. Students will explore supply and demand, learn what causes gas or electricity prices to rise and fall, understand the history of energy markets and oil imports, and learn to balance the risk & reward of various technologies. In the wake of rising energy prices, compromised supply lines, and new developments in energy production technologies, there’s never been a better time to reevaluate how the United States should approach its energy needs.
2. The United States Federal Government should substantially reform its policy on consumer protection or antitrust.
This topic will throw debaters into the world of regulations that exist to safeguard consumers against faulty products, deceptive or fraudulent business practices, and monopolies. While consumer protection laws have existed for centuries, the transition to the digital age has created new challenges for consumer protection, including on issues of security and privacy online, making this topic ripe for discussion and policy changes. Debaters will explore questions like, what is the role of the federal government in protecting consumers? What legal frameworks should exist for redress if a consumer is scammed or harmed by a business? And, do consumer protection laws help or hurt the market?
3. The United States Federal Government should substantially reform its revenue generation policies.
Most team policy topics ask debaters how the government is spending money - this topic looks at the other side of the equation and asks where the government gets that money from in the first place. Students will get to explore questions like, what is the ideal way to fund government? Where does government get its authority to levy taxes? And, what types of revenue generation are the most just, appropriate, and efficient? In addition to discussing political theory and philosophy, debaters will also get to discuss the economic side of revenue generation, like budget management, incentive structures, the relationship between taxation and economic growth, and so much more.
We hope you love these topics as much as we do! Happy voting!