2015-2016 LD Topic List

Update: The official list for potential 2015-2016 LD topics has been made available.

Here it is!!

Resolved: The United States ought to promote democracy in the Middle East.
Resolved: Countries ought to prohibit the production of nuclear power.
Resolved: In the United States criminal justice system, jury nullification ought to be used in the face of perceived injustice.
Resolved: Immigration ought to be recognized as a human right.
Resolved: In the United States, campaigns that support candidates for public office ought to be financed exclusively by public funds.
Resolved: Democracies ought to incorporate provisions for legal secession into their national constitutions.
Resolved: The United States ought to adopt carbon pricing.
Resolved: Corporations ought to value their responsibility to shareholders over the public interest when the two conflict.
Resolved: The privatization of civil services undermines democracy.
Resolved: In the United States, private ownership of handguns ought to be banned.

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  • cynical

    Heritage Foundation vs ALL the Ks
    Extinction in front of lay judges might be feasible
    Who tf is percieving this injustice?
    “I don’t link, I just recognize it”
    Yay politics (not)
    6, Texas plan
    Warming frontlines… lots of warming frontlines…
    I’m shaking in excitement
    What
    RIP local circuit aff debaters

  • From my understanding of the discussion, handguns was used instead of firearms for a couple of reasons:

    Firearms would allow plans that would be too hard to beat. “Ban private ownership of rocket launchers.”
    They did not want a hunting debate.

  • Jacob Nails

    Resolved: In the United States, campaigns that support candidates for public office ought to be financed exclusively by public funds.

    I would change “exclusively” to “primarily” or some synonym. Any topic that imposes an absolute burden on the aff seems easy to abuse. I haven’t seen the literature on this topic, but I imagine that there is some conceivable exception that the negative could point out, and that would be sufficient to negate under the current wording.

  • Kaelyn

    Please change handguns to include other kinds of firearms to increase aff ground

  • Eric Anderson

    The word handgun should be something like “firearm” or “rifle” because there is way too little ground for exclusively HANDGUNS. Every aff that talks about safety will just be rolled over by a neg that points out all the aff solvency is undermined by the fact that every other form of firearm will still be available in abundance.

    • In the U.S. banning all guns is obviously unconstitutional, so gun control efforts focus on particular weapon types. Most crime is committed with handguns and they are uniquely dangerous because they are easy to conceal.

      MOST of the gun control literature is about banning handguns. Until very recently assault weapons were not considered the biggest gun control issue.

      I am not a huge fan of this topic, I love other topics on the list a lot more, but if it was “firearms” it would be much worse.

      • Eric Anderson

        But all the neg has to win is that other types of guns are concealable and then the aff has no options. It’s happened before that people have put shotguns down their pant legs and taken them illegal places. Besides, if it was something like rifles, the aff would have a fighting chance because when the constitution was written, rifles didn’t really exist. It was muskets and the like, so the aff can make a bright line relative to barrels. Furthermore, it’s going to be a lot easier to win “amend the constitution” that it will be to win “banning exclusively handguns solves all the harms of firearms”

        • Danny DeBois

          Seems like “some crimes can still happen with assault rifles!!” is only at best weak mitigation to “I solve massive amounts of handgun violence.”

          The stronger neg approach on this topic would just be to defend several (effective) measures that stop short of banning guns, such as universal background checks, permit-to-purchase licenses, and gun safety requirements (which are also what most of the current gun violence prevention organizations advocate for, given the political infeasibility of handgun bans and the DC v. Heller decision granting people the right to own handguns in their homes). But I think the debate between bans and regulation is still interesting, and could go either way.

  • Danny DeBois

    I think a better version of the nuclear energy topic would be about foreign policy (e.g. should the US seek to limit countries from developing nuclear energy programs)–that allows for a lot more discussion of the Iran situation (which I’m assuming is part of the motivation behind this topic area), while still allowing for traditional arguments on nuclear energy debates (pollution, fossil fuel reliance, etc.). Also, there’s a good chance that people will try to force this topic as-worded to be about Iran anyways, and that will just lead to messy T debates that no one wants to have.
    I think the jury nullification topic is really interesting, but I’m unsure about whether jurors should be the actor. Does anyone know what actor most articles on this topic use (e.g. the U.S. Government)?
    My personal favorite is public financing of campaigns, hope it gets chosen!

    • Danny DeBois

      Also, this topic is a bit hard to generalize as worded–the debate about whether European countries that heavily rely on nuclear energy (e.g. France) should prohibit it is much different than the debate about whether Middle Eastern countries (like Iran and Saudi Arabia) should prohibit it.

      • Jacob Nails

        Is there even an aff lit base outside of Iran? I’m not an expert, but nuclear energy was the college topic 2 years ago, and I recall the arguments for a categorical prohibition to be extremely weak.

        I think the topic would need to be much more weakly worded in order to be debatable, e.g. “Resolved: States should reduce their reliance on/production of nuclear energy” (in which “ban nuclear energy” is still a topical aff), and even that seems to favor the neg.

    • Rebar Niemi

      Uh p sure an actor other than jurors is impossible for nullifying unless it’s like jury null should be illegal/prohibited by the US

    • Michael O’Krent

      This is a more developed version of comments I submitted to the NSDA the other night:
      On the nuclear topic, I think that this wording is much better than any version of the topic that puts the focus on the Iran issue. The main reason is that there is no real conflict in values between nuclear weapon non-proliferation and nuclear energy production; the core of the Iran conflict is the factual question of whether Iran is actually producing nukes. I don’t think it’s a good idea to include that issue in the topic because it detracts from the normative issues. Obvs Iran getting nukes would be pretty bad and probably worse than them not having nuclear energy. The only debate to be had there is the uniqueness debate, while the moral questions aren’t really questions. Debating morals and values is good; we shouldn’t choose a topic that allows people to completely get out of those debates.
      I also think that the factual are they/aren’t they debate is irresolvable. Iran’s nuclear program is so shrouded in secrecy that nobody really can make a cogent argument for the factual existence/absence of nuclear weapons development. The clash on those debates will just be between two claims for which there’s no real publicly available evidence. And we all know how great ev comparison debates between two unwarranted empirical claims are…
      Also from a cultural perspective, it also felt a little weird to imagine a topic that basically asks students to argue that it’s ok to let Iran get nukes when the first people those weapons would be used on includes my family in Haifa. There are probably other students who would be put in the position of having to argue “let Iran nuke my family.” That alone isn’t a reason to reject the topic; instead, I think the uneasiness I feel points to the primacy of the factual conflict over the values conflict in the phrasing of the topic that focused on Iran. Of course launching nuclear weapons is bad, whether on my family or anyone else’s. But treating Iran as a conflict between non-prolif and energy production sidesteps the crucial factual question needed to answer that resolution.

      If we let the topic be worded more broadly like it is now, Iran would be maybe a plan at best. But probably no one would run it because it would be pretty object fiat-y for Iran to just decide that they don’t want nuclear power/weapons any more. And if my objection to the Iran version of the topic is right, then the T debates probably wouldn’t be messy; Iran nukes advantages would be extra-T because the aff would fiat that Iran stops producing weapons in addition to power. Nuclear power good/bad is a wonderful area for debate, with lots of interesting questions and implications that don’t rely on specific political scenarios like Iran. There are other specific scenarios and plans that are really good, like, off the top of my head, France (squo uses mostly nuclear power), earthquake-prone areas, tradeoffs with other renewables, nuclear waste disposal, population-dense countries/proximity to cities, etc. But if you want to generalize, there’s always the nuclear power classics: risk of meltdown vs. benefits of renewable power; where do we put the waste?; and where do we get the uranium? Those are problems every country has to face, regardless of how much nuclear power they currently utilize. The general debates won’t be as deep as some specific scenarios, but I think the upshot is that this particular concern over generalizability is actually an argument for plans good.

      • Salim Damerdji

        “Also from a cultural perspective, it also felt a little weird to imagine a topic that basically asks students to argue that it’s ok to let Iran get nukes when the first people those weapons would be used on includes my family in Haifa.”

        Now you know how Iranians feel about Israel’s nuclear weapons.

        “There are probably other students who would be put in the position of having to argue “let Iran nuke my family.”

        Dear God, I didn’t realize Iranians were so subhuman that they lacked the rationality MAD needs to apply

      • Marcus

        I think you should read up on your Iran prolif lit, and the internal
        links a lot of countries perceive between nuclear energy and nuclear
        weapons. There are a lot of interesting debates beyond Iran getting
        nukes obvs bad, regarding counter balancing, perception, and IR.
        Kenneth Waltz literally writes an article titled “Why Iran should get
        the bomb.”

  • ontolliegy

    Appreciating the lack of “just goverments ought…” wording

  • doubleturn

    The nuclear energy topic puts a pretty tough burden on the aff. Prohibition is pretty strong

  • bruh

    Please not the civil services thing. Usually, topics that don’t prescribe a normative duty/policy action turn out really weird, with no CP ground, and incentivize squirrelly cases. Not to mention, they’re boring.

    • ontolliegy

      It literally sounds like a PF topic please no

    • Rebar Niemi

      Rly bc I don’t think this topic has any of those problems more than any other topic also whatchu mean normative policy action aren’t all policy actions justified normatively

      • Rebar Niemi

        Oh sorry misread your comment thought you meant had a policy action not lacks a policy action. OK kinda understand what you mean there but in the abstract your concerns seem unfounded

    • Michael O’Krent

      this topic does read as normative to me, just not in a purely moral sense. it’s teleological, where the good is democracy rather than “morality” at large. there is totally a duty involved. it’s just that rather than the duty coming from , it comes from democratic principles of governance or maybe the constitution of the aff’s jurisdiction

      • Nick Smith

        Yeah, literally the first paragraph of the SEP entry on “Democracy” is about normative democratic theory.