WHAT IS Lincoln Douglas (LD)?

TYPE OF DEBATE: one on one debate

TOPICS: based on philosophical values (what ought to be)

WHEN ARE TOPICS ISSUED: topics for LD are changed every TWO months

Lincoln-Douglas debate is a one-on-one debate dealing with philosophical values that are important to modern society ("what ought to be" instead of "what is"). In L-D, the emphasis is placed upon the use of logic and persuasive oratory to make convincing argument for or against a given topic resolution. Furthermore, L-D is centered upon the use of philosophical values (such as Democracy, morality, or utilitarianism) to justify one's argument. Lincoln-Douglas debate balances analytically argumentation with evidence. The event is named after the 1858 debate between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas.

The debate should focus on logical reasoning to support a general principle, instead of particular plans (or counter-plans) for implementation. Debaters may offer generalized, practical examples or solutions to illustrate how the general principle could guide decisions.

Please note, topics for Lincoln-Douglas change every two month, giving students enough time to prepare and to debate.


In this one-on-one format, students debate a topic provided by the National Speech & Debate Association. Topics range from individual freedom versus the collective good to economic development versus environmental protection. Students may consult evidence gathered prior to the debate but may not use the Internet in round. An entire debate is roughly 45 minutes and consists of constructive speeches, rebuttals, and cross examination.


Ms. Danielle Jones