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Before we begin this round- er, this article, I think it’s best that we look at some points of Resolutional Analysis.
Let’s take a look at the resolutions presented to us by the Stoa board. It’s important to understand the choices we’re making before we make them. Analysis can only help us in our quest for the best and most thought-provoking resolution this year.
Resolution 1: Resolved: Corporations ought to prioritize the interests of stakeholders over the exclusive interests of shareholders.
This resolution has a lot of potential, but also has the structural propensity to sink into a slog of a definitions debate. Stakeholders and shareholders are technically categorically distinct categories. That said, the common person can easily blur the lines between the two, making a chicken-and-egg debate a nigh-on inevitable result. The role of corporations in the modern world is something that should be discussed at length. Themes of social responsibility, private interests, and self-determination have the chance to shine in a resolution like this one. There is ample ground for both the Affirmative and the Negative in this particular resolution. Drawing up that ground is where the difficulty lies.
Resolution 2: Resolved: In resisting oppression, nonviolent disobedience ought to be preferred over violent resistance.
A classic resolution and the bane of many Parliamentary debaters for its frequency. Its frequency does not belie its importance, however. In lieu of recent political movements, a democratic society must examine itself and determine what is preferable and actionable: violence or nonviolence? Expect cases with a lot of hot-button political topics. Remember that switch-side debate is rarely about debating what one actually believes, and that your opponent is probably not the worst person on earth simply because they disagreed with your Martin Luther King Jr. example. Jokes aside, questions about violence and nonviolence often hinge on what oppression is being discussed and what oppressors are in action. Expect heavily nuanced debates about morality, the ethics of liberation from oppression, and what it means to be oppressed in the first place.
Resolution 3: Resolved: Criminal justice ought to prioritize rehabilitation over retribution, restitution or deterrence.
This resolution is most heavily weighted to the Negative, it would seem. The word “or” does a lot of the heavy lifting to make it so. The Negative has three topical, separate, and distinct cases they can run. This can lead to indecision paralysis for the Negative, but also means that the Affirmative must attack and defend against three distinct concepts that overlap at points. This resolution also has the most international potential. Comparing justice systems across countries is, if we can pardon the expression, criminally underutilized from a philosophical standpoint. It is useful for Americans to remember that theirs is not the only system that seeks justice, nor is it de facto the best one. This resolution has a great deal of introspective potential. As a democratic society that seeks justice, what can we do to improve our definition of justice?
Nathanael is a senior honors student at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, studying for a bachelor’s degree in history. Nathanael believes that debate is first and foremost about cultivating strengths to export out of debate. Nathanael argues one should win such that even their opponent is happy for them.
You can learn about Nathanael in this short bio. You can also book coaching with Nathanael here.