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NAsHDC Debater's manual
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Sample Motions
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Debate Basics
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*Purpose of Definitions
- There are 2 purposes of Definitions
1.Identifying the issues to be debated- The purpose of the definition is to specify the issue in the motionh that is to be resolved by debate between the teams. There is no point in arguing the merits of an issue before the nature of the issue has been determined.
- Sometimes this will be obvious because the wording of the motion will make clear the issue to be debated. For example on the motion That Australia should accept more humanitarian refugees. the issue of the debate is whether Australia should increase (or contain or reduce) its humanitarian refugee intake. On the other hand, many motions do not have a clear meaning. Motions such as That the state of the union is stuffed. That the glass is half full and that the invisible hand has arthritis are clearly susceptible to a range of possible meanings. Whatever the nature of the topic, the affirmative team should clearly state what issue will be argued between the teams.
2. Clarifying the meaning of words- Every motion contains a series of word, some of whivh need to be defined. Even topics with words that appear to be obvious in their meaning may require definition. The motion That we should legalize euthanasia requires a clarification. What does "euthanasia" mean? Does is refer to active euthanasia (for example lethal injections) or does it refer to passive euthanasia (switching off life support machines)? What does "legalize" mean? Does legalize mean that euthanasia will be available on demand or that it will be allowed only with the permission of doctors and psychiatrists? These are important words to agree on before arguing the merits of their case.
EXAMPLE #1 : This House Believes That We Should Bomb Iraq
- In this case in which you have a very clear definition, it is necessary only to clarify the terms of the motion, in the exmple above it would be neccessary to explain what EXACTLY was meant by the terms "we" and "bomb"
...this means that the UK and the US alone should start a program of air strikes against military targets right now"
...this means that if UN diplomacy breaks down the UN as a whole should sanction a program of air strikes against Iraqi military targets"
.., This means that the UK should drop a nuclear bomb on Baghdad as soon as possible." And so on.
EXAMPLE#2: This House Would Use the Force
- In cases such as this in which the motion is very vague, actual issue itself must be decided and explained and a reasonable link must be made with the motion as given.
...the force in question here is the force of the law and we would use it to make voting in General Elections in the UK compulsory".
...the force in question here is the police force and we would use it to adopt a policy of zero tolerance on petty crime (as in New York) throughout UK."
... the force in question is the force of nature and we believe we should harness this by investing more in renewable energy sources."
And so on.

-Motions are usually stated in one of two ways. First, they can be stated in the "would" or "should" form (i.e, This house would remove patents on pharmaceutical drugs from the 3rd world, This house believes that election campaigns should be fully financed by the state). Motions stated this way call for the affirmative team to come up with a proposal or model. This leads to a policy debate. A model is a specific set of practical actions proposed by a team in a debate. So it means that the affirmative sets up a particular kind of system that they support for reasons that are linked to various parts of the model.
Second, a motion can be stated in the "is" form (i.e. This house believes that marraige is an outdated institution, THBT conditional economic aid is futile, THBT we have more to fear than hope for globalization). This type of motions calls for teams to argue for or against a particular idea. This usually leads to what people typically call a value judgment debate.
For example, the motion "This house believes that the Media is more powerful than the Government" does not immediately suggets a possible course of action; Rather, it urges you to argue in general terms about the relative power of the two institutions. This is an example of a value judgement debate. In such a debate, you have to be very carful when defining what exactly is meant by "powerful", and also how you propose to assess it. An example might be that " more powerful" means they have more influence on what and how people think, as measured by how they vote, which issues they lobby about and what they say in the opinion polls.
NOTE: Be careful in discerning what kind of debate the motion calls for. Many teams mindlessly propose policies no matter how the motion is stated. The problem with defining a motion stated in the "is" form into a policy is that you run a risk of assuming the truth of the motion. For example, given the motion that the media is more powerful than the government, you'd be assuming the truth of the motion if you propose thate the government curb the powers of the media. In this instance, you assumed that indeed, the media is more powerful than the government and therefore, its pwers must be curbed. Many judges frown on this and construe this as a squirrel (explained below)
1. Definitions without a logical and relevant link to the topic (squirrel)
Definitons must have a logical and relevant link to the topic. This is to be assessed (as with the other parts of matter) from the viewpoint of the average reasonable person. The team defining the topic should be prepared to show explicitly the link between the topic and the issue or issues that will be debated.
If a team adopts a definition which is unexpected, or which appears to be contrary to the normal interpretation of language, a credibility gap may be created in the mind of the averae reasonalbe person.
2. Self-proving or truistic definitions
Teams should not adopt definitons that effectively prevent the other team from participating in the debate. While philosophers search for truisms, truisms bring a very early end to any possible debate.
An example of a truism can be found in the motion That tomorrow is another day hwere the affirmative defines the word 'tomorrow'  as being the day after today, which by definiton is another day-the definition contains its own proof of its truth. anothe example may be on the motion That we should eat, drink and be merry where the affirmative defines the issue of the debate to be whether humans need to eat and drink to survive and whether it is better to be happy than sad. Clearly the approach of the affirmative team prevents the negative team from arguing a rational case. 
3. Definitons which time set the debate
Definitons which time set the debate in the past or future are prohibited. For example on the topic That prohibition does not work , it would be prohibited to confine the deabet to the period of prohibition in the US during the 1920s. Certainly prohibition during the 1920s could be used as an argument or example to support the team, however it could not be used as the definitional arbiter of what the debate could and should not include.
Similarly, on the topic That genetic engineering should be welcomed and not feared, it would be prohibited for the affirmative team to define the debate to be in the next century where genetic engineering had solved world hunger problems and a myriad of diseases. The definition should place the argument on the day and hour of the actual debate.
4. Definitons that place set the debate unfairly
Definitions which place set the deabte unfairly are prohoboted. While the debate can be narrowed to a particular place, situation or organization, it cannot be narrowed down unfairly. Consider the possible definitions on the topic That the state of the union is stuffed. It may be reasonable to define the debate to be about federalism, or the European Union or ASEAN or any other number of national or transnationl unions. It may be reasonable to define the debate to be about the trade union movemnet. Undoubtedly, these debates have been place set, but not unfairly. However, it would be unfair to define the debate to be about federalism in Burkina Faso just because you happened to have written a research paper on it.
The interpretation of what constitutes an unfairly place set debate will depend on the venue of the debate, the participants and the audience. A debate in Australia with Australian teams might fairly set the debate in the Australian workplace and whether the trade union movement is dying. The same definiton may not be fair in front of a Japanese audience, with an Australian team on the affirmative and a Malaysian team on the negative. Therefore, teams need to carefully consider the venue, the audience and the participants in the debate before place setting the debate.
* adapted from the Autralasians Debating Handbook

First affirmative-
a. Defines the motion--identify issues which will be in contention
b. Provide an outline of the team structure--team line--team split
c. Present arguments allocated to first speaker
First negative-
a. Identify major areas of initial disagreement with the affirmative case
--rebut the major affirmative agrements.
b.Provide an outline of the team stucture--team line-- team split
c. Present arguments allocated to first speaker
Second speakers-
a. Rebut major arguments of previous speaker/s
b. Defend own case against rebuttal by previous speaker/s
c. Present arguments allocated to second speaker
Third Speakers-
a. Present an overview of the debate- identify the essential issues upon which the teams disagree-- rebut the important aspects of the opposing team's case-- defend own team's case against attack- summarize own case
* To beginners in debaters, speaking for seven minutes while performing these roles may seem daunting. To make the job easier, we prepared a template for each speaker position. A template is like a script. It tells you what to do at each moment in your speech. However, it doesn't tell you exactly what to say-- that depends on the topic. It merely points out the things you should do in your speech in the order that you should do them. Internalize the templates and you will go a long way!
* the set-up: 0:00 to 3:00
1. Define the motion. Then state the issues or competing values as requirements of the motion. Also, affirm the urgency of the debate in 1 or 2 sentences
2. State your team line or stance. This simply a statement of what your team wants or believes.
3. Give your parameters. If you are proposing something (i.e., legalizing prostitution), you need to describe the proposal by talking about its details and mechanics (i.e., professional licenses to prostitutes, taxes, mandatory health check-ups, etc.) In addition, you could effectively scope the debate by setting it in a place (i.e., Western liberal democracies like the US). If you are debating a value judgment, lay down your criteria or benchmark. It also helps to tell people what the debate is NOT about.
4. State your team split: the division of labor (arguments) between 1st and 2nd speakers (i.e., "I as the 1st speakerwill argue that... My partner will talk about...")
5. Dictate the opposition should do by showing what their burden is. Challenge them to respond in a certain way (i.e., "What the other side has to do in this debate is to come up with an alternative and show why it's a better than our proposal")
* the meat of your speech ( the analysis 3:00 to 6:00)
6. Exhaustively explain and develop your argument/s: Explain exactly what you mean, and why it's important in the debate. Use examples from the past, statistics and facts to back up your arguments. Don't mento\ion examples (name-dropping), explain them in the form of a short story.
*Closing (don't take this pary lightly. Use it to your advantage!): last minute
7. Pre-empt and anticipate what the other team is going to say and summarize your main point/s.
* Introduction: 0:00to 1:00
1. In not so may words, recast the case of the 1st aff. and expose its obvious weaknesses, if any. You must also respond to the definition, mentioning whether it is fair and makes a reasonable link to the motion. state your initial areas of disagreement.
2. State and outline your case: State your team line. Give your own set of parameters (only if you have a counter-proposal or alternative). Then say your team split.
3. Rebuttal: Take down the argument/s odf the PM. But don't take it forever. Rebut only the important points.
*3:00 to 6:00
4. Develop your argument/s
*last minute
5. Summarize
6. Throw your own burdens and demands to the other side: Capitalize on what they should've done, but haven't or failed at (i.e., "They haven't explained why.. and exactly how...")