Lincoln-Douglas debate is also known as L-D debate, which is the source of many stupid jokes by policy debaters. In L-D debate, two debaters face off on opposite sides of a resolution. The person taking the affirmative side begins with a six-minute opening argument. The timing of the typical L-D round is as follows:

1. 6 minute opening argument by the affirmative
2. 3 minute cross-examination by the negative
3. 7 minute opening argument and response by the negative
4. 3 minute cross-examination by the affirmative
5. 4 minute response by the affirmative
6. 6 minute response by the negative
7. 3 minute response and closing arguments by the affirmative

L-D debate is value debate. The resolution forces each side to take on competing values and argue about which one is supreme. For example, if the resolution is, "Resolved: An oppresive government is better than no government at all," the affirmative side might value "order" and the negative side might value "freedom". Such a debate would revolve around whether order is more valuable than freedom.

Each side supports her/his arguments with a criterion, or a paradigm for judging the values. For example, a political resolution such as the one mentioned above might call for a debater to use Rousseau's On Social Contract to judge whether order is more valuable than freedom.

The outcome of the debate is decided by one to three judges, who, in theory, judge the round on such things as value, criterion, speaking ability, individual arguments, and cordiality. In reality, rounds are often decided on what side the judge argrees with or which debaters the judge is attracted to.

L-D debate is offered as a course in many high schools across the nation, and students often have the opportunity to compete within the National Forensic League. Debate is an excellent opportunity for teenagers to learn philosophy, research skills, and argumentation.

The term Lincoln-Douglas debate comes from the original debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas on the topic of the morality of slavery in 1858. The original debates can be found at http://www.umsl.edu/~virtualstl/dred_scott_case/texts/lindoug.htm.

In the tradition of their namesake, L-D Debate rounds revolve around morality and logic, rather than facts and figures.

LD rounds are generally conducted one on one.

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