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question-1332062_1280“Why should we go to the Chinese buffet?”

“Because Chinese food is tasty!”

“But the food we have at home will save us money!”

“But I’d rather have tasty food!”

“Well I’d rather have money!”

The value clash of the ages: Money vs. Taste.  Reasons to prefer or value links are the second-layer of why in value debate.  You want to go to the Chinese buffet because you value tastiness.  But why should we use tastiness as the way to decide where we eat?  Why not value saving money?  To answer that question you have to bring in reasons to prefer.  A reason to prefer tastiness could be that it gives us pleasure.  You may have more money eating cheap food, but you’ll be less happy.  A reason to prefer money conservation could be that it discourages waste.  Food is way too expensive.  We can save money and still get relatively good tasting food.  Now that you both know why you want your specific values, you can have a real debate.

Here’s an index of generic reasons to prefer for you to consider during your next value round.  This is meant to be a tool for beginning and experienced debaters alike.  It’s also meant to be a living, breathing document.  So please contact us with any ideas you have of reasons to prefer that can work for almost any value and we’ll throw them in!  

Robust Measure

This resolution encompasses broad concepts and we need to use broad values to make sure we’re evaluating the whole resolution.

Narrow Measure

In order to have a good debate, we have to narrow the resolution down to its most important concept(s).  We only have a 40 minute debate round; let’s make it count.

Encompasses other value

My opponent’s value is a subset of my value.  Get my value and get the whole picture.

Foundation of other value

You can’t have my opponent’s value without first upholding my value.  Let’s uphold my value and then we’ll worry about the other one.

Goal of other value

Essentially, the reason my opponent’s value exists is in order to reach my value.  We can see that my value is therefore more important.


Over time, my value has been proven to be crucial to society and individuals.  It’s worked for thousands of years as a key concept to every success.


This value can’t be divided into different parts.  It’s entirely self-coherent. This makes it likely to stand the tests of time.

Specific to the resolution

This value is closely related to the resolution and gives us the best chance of evaluating this round within the parameters of our resolution.

Easily Measured

Easily measured values are simple and clear and provide you a clear idea of when this value has been achieved or not.

Intrinsically Valuable

In and of itself, this value has value.  The importance of my value isn’t dependent on any benefits or externalities.  It is something that proves value by its own existence.

Goal of Actor

This value is actually why we have governments, societies, criminal justice systems etc.  The system or actor enumerated in the resolution acts first and foremost to uphold this value.


Morally, this value is superior to my opponents.  The moral importance of my value outweighs the benefits of the other value


A simpler value allows for clarity in judging and clarity in decision-making.


This value has no exceptions which makes it the most powerful, immutable value in the round.

Depth of Utility

My value is more important because it can be used to obtain a wide variety of benefits and satisfactions.

Develops society

This value is crucial to moving society forward.

Foundation of society

Without my value, society wouldn’t exist, let alone flourish.

Goal of society

Society exists, at least in part, in order to achieve my value.

Higher/lower in a hierarchy

A hierarchy has been formed where my value was put ahead of your value.  

Internationally acceptable/Unifying

This value is used all across the globe.  It’s something every one can agree is either essential to this topic context or just essential to all societies.


This value doesn’t just take human nature out of the picture.  It looks at how real people in the real world actually interpret this resolution.


This value doesn’t look at when either side was abused or misconstrued.  It only looks at when both sides were interpreted correctly therefore capturing the truest debate.

Historical Precedent

All throughout history, my value has been proven to be crucial to this topic context.  

Legal Precedent

This value is what courts use to decide these kinds of issues.


This value is impartial to either side and provides both sides with equal ground to debate this issue upon.  Therefore ensuring the best clash and the closest we can get to finding out the truth within the round.


This value is what first comes to mind when we think about the resolution. It makes perfect sense in the context of this resolution.

headshotDrew Magness is a sixteen year old junior currently in his third year of debate.  He’s competed in Lincoln-Douglas, Team Policy and Parliamentary Debate claiming top 5 finishes in each form including two tournament titles.  Pursuing every opportunity he can, Drew writes for two different debate publications and is competing in three leagues this competitive season.  As a speaker and debater, he’s placed in the top ten at tournaments fifty separate times, including two top ten national finishes in his second year of competition.  On the intangible side of things, Drew strongly believes in the way speech and debate trains students to think and speak in a winsome manner while evaluating every side of a story and developing their own opinion.  

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