The 101

by Rachel Citrin, Varsity Debate c/o 2013


Lincoln Douglas (LD) is a type of debate that is done without a partner and lasts about 45 minutes. Lincoln Douglas debate is termed from the Lincoln–Douglas Debates of 1858 between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas. The main issue discussed in the debates was slavery, and more specifically, the morality of slavery. Thus, LD is a debate that discusses morals and the philosophic principles that society is based on.

Every two months, LD receives a “resolution,” or topic to be debated and this topic can range anywhere from US foreign policy to domestic policies to the morality of killing one person to save the lives of many. Many of the rounds end up centering on what the moral actions are to be taken in the given situation. In this debate, each individual brings a constructive cases and evidence into a room to be judged by an experienced judge. Each individual has a “value” (an overarching theme for the round that the person is trying to achieve) and a “Value-Criterion” (how to achieve the value). An example would be a Value of morality and a Value-Criterion of maximizing human rights.

This is really interesting type of debate, and with some judging experience, judging it can be a lot of fun!!