Introducing the 2022-2023 NCFCA LD Guide by: Noah McKay

The LD Guide is HERE – !
This guidebook is written as a preparatory resource for beginning, intermediate, and advanced Lincoln-Douglas competitors, as well as coaches, club leaders, and parents. Unlike many sourcebooks on the market, it is not primarily a catalog of source material (though there are plenty of useful resources cited throughout). My aim is to walk you through the process of writing a constructive speech (colloquially known among LD debaters as a “case”) step-by-step, offering explanations, sources, and example arguments wherever they might be useful along the way. By the time you have finished reading this guide, you will understand how the components of an LD case fit together and how the best arguments in LD are formulated, and you will know how to apply that understanding to this year’s topic. While I have written this guide to be accessible for beginners, I am very confident that advanced students will also find valuable insights within…

The material in this guidebook focuses exclusively on the 2022-2023 NCFCA LD resolution:

Resolved: The individual right to property ought to be valued above the economic interest of the community.

In the sections on definitions and resolutional analysis below, I will more carefully consider how this resolution should be interpreted. For now, you simply need to know that the resolution is the claim that the affirmative team – typically abbreviated “AFF” – is required to defend in a debate round. The goal of the negative team, a.k.a. “NEG,” is to prevent AFF from proving that the resolution is true. So under this year’s resolution, AFF must defend the right to private property over the economic interest of the community, and vice-versa for NEG.

This resolution raises a host of substantive philosophical and empirical questions: What is property? What is a right? Is there a right to property, and, if so, where does it come from? How are property rights justified? What is an economic “community”? What duties do we have to our communities, and how do those stack up against our individual rights? What is government’s role in all of this? Are governments instituted to safeguard the sovereignty of the individual, or do they exist to forward the common good? Are strong property rights good or bad for the economy? What are the economic “interests” of a community? Can these include moral interests, like preventing economic injustice, or must they be restricted to practical interests? In the pages that follow, I will survey the work of several philosophers and economists who differ on these questions. Any outside material will be cited in the footnotes so that you can check out the primary sources for yourself. 

This guide is split into eight sections, four of which correspond to the four sections in a typical LD case:

  • Definitions: In this section, the debater defines the key terms in the resolution.
  • Resolutional Analysis: In this section, the debater explains or interprets the resolution.
  • Framework: In this section, the debater proposes a standard for deciding whether the resolution is true.
  • Contentions: In this section, the debater offers his main arguments for thinking that his position best upholds the framework.

Throughout each of these sections, I will present example definitions, analyses, frameworks, and contentions. Occasionally, I will also present counter-arguments to these, which will appear below. (Each of these counterarguments is vulnerable to counter-counter-arguments, but in order to keep this guide to a reasonable length, I will have to stop one counter-argument deep!) Hopefully, this will give you a sense of both the strengths and the weaknesses of each argument.

In Section 4, I will pause to survey important concepts in political philosophy and economics that will be relevant to the material discussed in the framework and contentions sections. This survey will be introductory, but it will supply you with a stock of background knowledge and vocabulary that will come in handy when writing your case and responding to common arguments.

Sections 7 and 8 include two fully written LD cases, one for AFF and one for NEG. If you have never read or written an LD case before, it may be best to start with that section and return to Section 1 once you have a general sense of the structure of a case. Your case does not have to look exactly like either of mine when you are finished, but they are good templates to follow. And of course, you are free to use them in competition (though hopefully by your second or third tournament you will have written your own cases). 

In theory, there is enough material in this guidebook for you to build your own case from scratch, without using any of the material in Sections 7 and 8 and without conducting your own independent research. That would not be a bad place to start (and it is partly what the guide is for), although I hope you are inspired to do lots of digging on your own!

Happy debating,

Noah McKay

Noah is one of Lasting Impact! LD Coaches. He will be at numerous Camps this summer including Charlotte, Cary, St. Louis, and Chicago.
He will also be running an LD Club and Apologetics in the Fall. Registrations are going on NOW for Fall 2022.

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