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So I was checking out libertarianism frameworks and I came across a case online (TOC Prelims NC.doc) that talks about meta-constraints. I've heard of framework constraints and I don't understand them, let alone meta-constraints. What are they?

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"Meta-constraint" here is being used in the same way you'd use the phrase "side-constraint" or "decision-rule" (often written "D-rule"). The argument's function is written out, though: if you violate the constraint, which is consistency with property rights, then they lose. The reason they should lose, or what it takes to violate that constraint, or why the supposed inconsistency of rehabilitation with property rights has anything to do with how argumentation works, is not explained well though.

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"Meta-constraint" here is being used in the same way you'd use the phrase "side-constraint" or "decision-rule" (often written "D-rule"). The argument's function is written out, though: if you violate the constraint, which is consistency with property rights, then they lose. The reason they should lose, or what it takes to violate that constraint, or why the supposed inconsistency of rehabilitation with property rights has anything to do with how argumentation works, is not explained well though.

 

The argument isn't about rehabilitation, it's about the nature of argumentation itself.  Their evidence says that argumentation carries basic property rights assumptions - that's the Kinsella card.  Arguing against the thing which warrants argumentation itself is self-defeating.  (And that's why it's a meta-constraint instead of just a constraint, because they're invoking the nature of argumentation as the basis of their constraint, and that's 'meta' relative to the specific argumentation in the round.)

 

The specific violation is on rehabilitation, which is what they're saying bites this meta-constraint.  The card is clear as mud, however.

 

Aside: I have a hard time believing someone got to the TOC with a value of 'morality'.  Tautology?

Edited by Squirrelloid
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I have a hard time believing someone got to the TOC with a value of 'morality'.  Tautology?

It depends on how you think about it/verbalize the interaction between the standard, value, and res in your head. Also, morality is almost always the value in progressive (TOC style) LD. Sometimes people value justice, but only for similar reasons as they would value morality. Also, even if any of the affs that this person hit with this case specifically had values other than morality, their standard probably functions as a side constraint on what can be done to maximize those values/keeping those values accessible, so there's no reason why it's such a horrible strategic choice to value morality, and it's especially not one that would prevent someone from competing at the level of the TOC.

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It depends on how you think about it/verbalize the interaction between the standard, value, and res in your head. Also, morality is almost always the value in progressive (TOC style) LD. Sometimes people value justice, but only for similar reasons as they would value morality. Also, even if any of the affs that this person hit with this case specifically had values other than morality, their standard probably functions as a side constraint on what can be done to maximize those values/keeping those values accessible, so there's no reason why it's such a horrible strategic choice to value morality, and it's especially not one that would prevent someone from competing at the level of the TOC.

 

All values in LD are claims about 'morality'.  The value should be used to describe a specific moral system.  Which is why it's a tautology - that's what values are.

 

I haven't judged LD in over a decade, but I did used to do it when I was in High School. xP  (There is no LD in the Chicago Debate League, just policy.)

Edited by Squirrelloid

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All values in LD are claims about 'morality'.  The value should be used to describe a specific moral system.  Which is why it's a tautology - that's what values are.

 

I haven't judged LD in over a decade, but I did used to do it when I was in High School. xP  (There is no LD in the Chicago Debate League, just policy.)

Fair play. I'd just prefer that instead of making a particular metaethic or general moral system their values people keep them 'Morality' or 'Justice'. The reason for this for me is that keeping morality the value leaves things extremely open-ended on the framework debate, and even opens up the possibility for multiple metaethics in a single case. I feel as if always-already assuming morality and leaving the value open to something else forces it to be filled by something more monolithic. Without morality as the value, people would potentially have to value a single metaethic or something. Also leaving the value as morality and the standard a particular moral system seems to leave things similarly open-ended, allowing for more offense to function under that framework since it's an appeal to the entire system rather than a single tenet of it as it would be if the system were the value and something smaller within it were therefore the standard. I much prefer leaving things open ended like that because (a) it's closer to how the philosophy actually operates, i.e. considering multiple things within it and not just a particular part of it, as the standard exclusively would with the system as the value, but also (B) it's easier to link turns to/come to a philosophical middle ground and focus on the contention level offense.

 

Obviously just abandoning the concept of most cases needing a value *and* a standard would solve this as well, but that's uncomfortable for many.

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The argument isn't about rehabilitation, it's about the nature of argumentation itself.  Their evidence says that argumentation carries basic property rights assumptions - that's the Kinsella card.  Arguing against the thing which warrants argumentation itself is self-defeating.  (And that's why it's a meta-constraint instead of just a constraint, because they're invoking the nature of argumentation as the basis of their constraint, and that's 'meta' relative to the specific argumentation in the round.)

 

Well, no, I don't think it's self-defeating. You could argue that their idea of what argumentation is, or the warrants they present about what assumptions it carries, are wrong. Like, one could argue that argumentation doesn't imply property rights the way that Kinsella describes. It'd be purposeful obfuscation to say that would be contradictory--the argument wouldn't be an argument against argumentation itself, but the opponent's understanding of argumentation. But yeah, you're right about why it's meta. They're using it as a side-constraint on speech acts they take to violate argumentation, though, so that's why it functions as a side-constraint in the round; they present it as the impact to a d-rule, and they're waiting for the next speech to give them a link so the NR can bounce the trap. I assume the link is just gonna be the aff continuing to defend rehabilitation... Tricky tricky LD!

 

I'm interested to hear what sorts of things that you were used to seeing as an LD debater then! I agree with Bdawg, all I see in the progressive TFA circuit is morality as a value and then various moral frameworks defended as the standard. Occasionally you see frameworks out of left-field, though, like an aesthetics aff or monism or other things, usually tricky NCs or weirdly-constructed K affs & negs. Those aren't as good as a typical "The value is morality because ought is a moral obligation, the standard is [whatever]" though.

 

I used to really strongly believe that valuing morality was tautological and useless myself, but I think that the standard (or 'criterion,' same thing) debate makes up for it. In the end, you're right, all normative LD debate is about value, almost invariably moral in nature (I'm of the opinion that not all value has to do with morality, though, but I've never seen that become particularly important in an LD round). Setting up the value as morality gets that fact out of the way and then allows for the AC or NC to explain their conception of moral value through the standard debate. Barring the tautology consideration, though, Bdawg does a great job of explaining more strategic & games-playing reasons to prefer valuing morality and focusing on the standards debate, props to you man.

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Well, no, I don't think it's self-defeating. You could argue that their idea of what argumentation is, or the warrants they present about what assumptions it carries, are wrong. Like, one could argue that argumentation doesn't imply property rights the way that Kinsella describes. It'd be purposeful obfuscation to say that would be contradictory--the argument wouldn't be an argument against argumentation itself, but the opponent's understanding of argumentation. But yeah, you're right about why it's meta. They're using it as a side-constraint on speech acts they take to violate argumentation, though, so that's why it functions as a side-constraint in the round; they present it as the impact to a d-rule, and they're waiting for the next speech to give them a link so the NR can bounce the trap. I assume the link is just gonna be the aff continuing to defend rehabilitation... Tricky tricky LD!

 

I'm interested to hear what sorts of things that you were used to seeing as an LD debater then! I agree with Bdawg, all I see in the progressive TFA circuit is morality as a value and then various moral frameworks defended as the standard. Occasionally you see frameworks out of left-field, though, like an aesthetics aff or monism or other things, usually tricky NCs or weirdly-constructed K affs & negs. Those aren't as good as a typical "The value is morality because ought is a moral obligation, the standard is [whatever]" though.

 

I used to really strongly believe that valuing morality was tautological and useless myself, but I think that the standard (or 'criterion,' same thing) debate makes up for it. In the end, you're right, all normative LD debate is about value, almost invariably moral in nature (I'm of the opinion that not all value has to do with morality, though, but I've never seen that become particularly important in an LD round). Setting up the value as morality gets that fact out of the way and then allows for the AC or NC to explain their conception of moral value through the standard debate. Barring the tautology consideration, though, Bdawg does a great job of explaining more strategic & games-playing reasons to prefer valuing morality and focusing on the standards debate, props to you man.

 

Dancon, i need to stop forgetting to respond to things you post when I've decided I need to organize my thoughts before responding.  Because invariably I lose the post and never get around to responding. 

 

So, first, i'm going to agree not all values are moral.  I value owning a house, but for entirely non-moral reasons.  Renting doesn't make you a bad person.  However, the values we tend to talk about in LD are moral values (because the resolution uses ought - morality doesn't have to be stated, it is implicit in the types of values we're asked to discuss).

 

2nd, I wish to modify my claim that morality as a value is tautological.  It's actually more of a non-sequitur, because morality is not itself a value.

 

Values are that which we act to gain and/or keep.  (Pretty sure that's Aristotle, but its been a long time).  Morality isn't something we gain or keep, it's a path we follow by pursuing and/or gaining the right values.  You don't 'gain' morality, you can behave in a manner consistent with morality.

 

I don't see the value in LD as being the entirety of morality in any sense - it doesn't require a mono-ethic if you run a specific value.  Rather, a specific value is a claim on what the dominant value to be considered is with respect to the topic.

 

The criterion/standards debate is about how we measure our success in achieving the value.  If we emphasize a value of Liberty with respect to $Topic, the criterion tells us when we've satisfied Liberty in the topic area.

 

Thus, if we meet the criterion (or criteria if more than one), we have satisfied morality with respect to $Topic by gaining/keeping the governing value.  That's what the classic LD structure is supposed to look like.

 

Typical (good) values when I did LD included Justice (2 versions: "fairness" (Rawls) and "giving each their due" (Aristotle and successors)), Liberty, Equality, Beauty (aesthetics cases), quality of life / decrease suffering or death (Util frameworks), dignity.  (Probably others I can't remember).  The utilitarians typically called their value 'Utilitarianism', and used what they were maximizing as their criterion, but that's technically backwards.

 

I dislike Bdawg's rationale - it's sort of a race to the bottom to abandon having to commit to anything, because actually stating a moral value you think needs to be upheld in the topic area means you might have to defend something.  This unwillingness to commit to a specific position and defend it is the single worst trend in debate of any sort.

Edited by Squirrelloid
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LDer here.

 

Agreeing with Dancon and Squirreloid for the most part. Only thing I would add is:

 

The value/value criterion structure is silly. Very, very silly. At least, from the perspective of a case that tries to affirm the resolution's ought as ought = moral obligation. For instance, I'm very invested in Kantian philosophical approaches to resolutions, and broadly constructivist/anti-realist approaches to metaethics. In my cases, particular values like beauty or liberty are often dealt with in a way that avoids the v/vc structure. An example:

 

If certain things are required by the nature of action in general, then it's possible that I value something like "freedom" but the particular justifications of the framework aren't so easily separable into "justifications for the value" and "justifications for the value criterion"--instead, the framework makes sense more often when it's taken holistically.

 

Value/value criterion as a case structure is useful only insofar as your framework is separable into those two components. The oddity described above (utilitarian frameworks with Utility as the value and a consequentialist standard) seems to be a symptom of debaters not understanding the way in which they justify their frameworks sufficiently. The holistic model is more overtly complicated because debaters actually have to understand their opponent's arguments well to grasp all the nuances of justification, but it avoids the farcical "I'm winning the values debate so I win" that is unfortunately so common in my--and I'm certain others' too--local circuit.

 

On the subject of the Lexington NC:

 

The Kinsella coercion bad arguments are very obviously silly. If you're interested in libertarianism, check out Varun Bhave's circuitdebater profile, or Salim Damerdji's from a couple years ago. Those two are much better framework debaters--and don't make weird role of the ballot arguments that have odd substantive implications (it seems odd that you can't argue for the goodness of coercion simply because you need a certain degree of non-coercion [which seems different in kind from the coercion you are justifying] to utter words. Non sequitur?).

 

PM me if I can help with anything--I don't often go on here, but when I do, I'd be happy to help if I can.

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I dislike Bdawg's rationale - it's sort of a race to the bottom to abandon having to commit to anything, because actually stating a moral value you think needs to be upheld in the topic area means you might have to defend something.  This unwillingness to commit to a specific position and defend it is the single worst trend in debate of any sort.

 

There's a big difference between avoiding clash and reading a case with a functional amount of flexibility. Your stance is analogous to saying that if the 1AC of a policy team reads a hegemony advantage with death impacts they are then obligated to discuss the all other consequences of the plan in the round only in terms of their effects on hegemony or on death, because otherwise there will not be enough clash. That's bad. Debaters should be free to make or drop as many arguments of whatever type as they think will help them to win the round. Arguments are not commitments, rather they are ideas; the only commitment any team has is to make arguments that will win them the round. The broader people's V/Cs are, the less hamstringed they are by the arbitrariness of the format, and the less contrived and mechanistic judges' evaluations of the round will be. Forcing people to stick with arguments which are no longer the vital strategic points of the debate does not increase clash, it instead makes good clash harder to find.

Edited by Scarf

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Aside: I have a hard time believing someone got to the TOC with a value of 'morality'. Tautology?

Values literally aren't a thing in progressive LD, the default assumption is that you defend a normative ethic (unless you're reading a kritikal position or something)

Edited by goodatthis

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Values literally aren't a thing in progressive LD, the default assumption is that you defend a normative ethic (unless you're reading a kritikal position or something)

 

A normative ethic you say... last i checked those are about values...?  They may not use the term, but they're still debating about values.  You can't debate ethics without debating values (or agreeing on values and debating means / implementation).

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A normative ethic you say... last i checked those are about values...?  They may not use the term, but they're still debating about values.  You can't debate ethics without debating values (or agreeing on values and debating means / implementation).

A normative ethic is one that guides action. Pretty much the definition of morality is a set of principles that guide action. Moral is a term attributed to actions which are consistent with morality. Ought is a moral obligation. Hence, ought functionally means "you are obligated to do actions consistent with morality." So the default assumption due to the nature of the rez is that you defend a normative ethic, which is really just one value, morality.

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I mean some of the stuff said in thread is true I guess?  Normative ethics ask the question "what should be done?" or "how should we implement our value systems?"  Things like util and deon are normative ethics because they seek to answer the question of how to act in particular situations.  They do not presuppose values and value systems.  Metaethics on the other hand ask exactly those questions: what do good and bad mean?  Is that knowable?  Is goodness universal? etc.  When dealing with metaethical questions you don't deal with questions of implementation.  (it should be noted it's common to deal with both these questions at once)

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A normative ethic is one that guides action. Pretty much the definition of morality is a set of principles that guide action. Moral is a term attributed to actions which are consistent with morality. Ought is a moral obligation. Hence, ought functionally means "you are obligated to do actions consistent with morality." So the default assumption due to the nature of the rez is that you defend a normative ethic, which is really just one value, morality.

 

Morality is not a value, as already explained in a post above.  

 

Nor is there one monolithic morality.  Stuff like "really just one value,  morality" is patently BS, because it implies morality is some monolithic thing that everyone agrees with and that has one objective nature.  It doesn't.  Rather, our values determine what our moral obligations *are*.  The essence of a (moral) value is that it ascribes moral status to certain actions or beliefs, because we feel morally obligated to gain or keep that value (and thus take actions or hold beliefs which accomplish that). 

 

So those "set of principles that guide action" are values.  When you defend a normative ethic, you are defending a set of values, full stop.

 

 

I mean some of the stuff said in thread is true I guess?  Normative ethics ask the question "what should be done?" or "how should we implement our value systems?"  Things like util and deon are normative ethics because they seek to answer the question of how to act in particular situations.  They do not presuppose values and value systems.  Metaethics on the other hand ask exactly those questions: what do good and bad mean?  Is that knowable?  Is goodness universal? etc.  When dealing with metaethical questions you don't deal with questions of implementation.  (it should be noted it's common to deal with both these questions at once)

 

Util and deontology are not normative ethics, but categories of types of normative ethics.  

 

Deontology pretty much says that motivations are primary - that's not an ethic, but a claim about what is important in constructing an ethic.  Kantian ethics is a normative ethic that is within the class of deontological ethical systems.  It asserts a primary value (The Good Will) and provides a criterion to judge whether or not particular actions satisfy this value (The Categorical Imperative).  (Alternately, the Categorical Imperative can be seen as a program for constructing moral values - if you would will that it be universal law, then you should act to gain/keep it - making it a value by definition).

 

Utilitarianism is not inherently an ethic, but the version expressed by Mills and Bentham does have value-assumptions built into it.  The logic of Utilitarianism itself, however, is a method for determining if you have properly satisfied a value (or potentially properly constructed a value) - it merely asks you to do ethical arithmetic over the entire population to assess whether a particular action has satisfied your value.  "The greatest good for the greatest number" does not itself specify what is good - which is the domain of values and normative ethics.  (Mills and Bentham bundle assumptions about what is good into their writings, but those assumptions are a distinct thing from the reasoning process Utilitarianism advocates using, and could easily be replaced by different ideas of the good while keeping a Utilitarian calculus).  The utilitarian calculus itself is a criterion for assessing whether a course of action achieves a value.

 

Note that Deontology and Utilitarianism are both categories of reasoning which contain a wide variety of normative ethics, and fundamentally oppose one another.  Utilitarianism says ethics should be about ends (because the utilitarian calculus is looking at outcomes) while deontological systems say we should be looking at what motivated someone to act (and tend to ignore outcomes).  

 

Note also that it's impossible to use either of them without specific values, because they require a value to function.  It is impossible to do Utilitarian calculus without defining what 'good' is, for example.  Similarly, deontology is near meaningless unless we can assess which motivations are good.

 

Meta-ethics does  not answer questions about what good or evil is, it instead answers questions like 'what do "good" and "evil" mean?' - that is rather decidedly different.  The whole purpose of normative ethics is to determine what actions are good or evil so it can make a determination about what we should do.  In order to do that, normative ethics must invoke values and value systems.

 

There's a big difference between avoiding clash and reading a case with a functional amount of flexibility. Your stance is analogous to saying that if the 1AC of a policy team reads a hegemony advantage with death impacts they are then obligated to discuss the all other consequences of the plan in the round only in terms of their effects on hegemony or on death, because otherwise there will not be enough clash. That's bad. Debaters should be free to make or drop as many arguments of whatever type as they think will help them to win the round. Arguments are not commitments, rather they are ideas; the only commitment any team has is to make arguments that will win them the round. The broader people's V/Cs are, the less hamstringed they are by the arbitrariness of the format, and the less contrived and mechanistic judges' evaluations of the round will be. Forcing people to stick with arguments which are no longer the vital strategic points of the debate does not increase clash, it instead makes good clash harder to find.

No.  The proper analogy is insisting policy teams read a specific plan, not just defend "The USFG should do something".

Edited by Squirrelloid

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Morality is not a value, as already explained in a post above.  

 

Nor is there one monolithic morality.  Stuff like "really just one value,  morality" is patently BS, because it implies morality is some monolithic thing that everyone agrees with and that has one objective nature.  It doesn't.  Rather, our values determine what our moral obligations *are*.  The essence of a (moral) value is that it ascribes moral status to certain actions or beliefs, because we feel morally obligated to gain or keep that value (and thus take actions or hold beliefs which accomplish that). 

 

So those "set of principles that guide action" are values.  When you defend a normative ethic, you are defending a set of values, full stop.

I'm confused as to the implication of this. I originally just said that in LD, people don't differentiate between values. And when I say values, I don't mean things that important to us as people. If the resolution were a question of what we valued, every framework would have to operate within this, which is obviously not what happens. Most frameworks do not speak to this. When I say values, I mean things that function on the supposed highest layer of the framework debate, higher than meta-ethics, since even meta-ethics try to find the origin of our normative claims. I might have been tired when I said "defend a normative ethic," but what I really meant was "everyone just tries to prove the ought statement true/false, which entails proving a moral obligation (or vice versa).

 

Then you say that morality is a set of values, but this proves my point- everything collapses to morality. Hence, even if you defend something dumb and probably impact-justified like "liberty", that in it of itself is a layer below morality, since it is a subset of it. Liberty is not a value, it functions more as the next internal link in a framework- much like how the standard functions. 

 

So to sum it up, all "values" in the sense of "I value morality," in the LD sense, not in the "what is important to me" sense, collapse down to morality anyway, since it functions on a higher level. All other values like life or liberty are subsets of morality, since they are principles we have an obligation to uphold. In a sense, liberty functions as a standard rather than the internal link to proving the ought statement in the rez true. I think overall you are probably conflating the meaning of a value in LD. TOC debaters value morality because it is the thing all other values collapse down to, even their framework syllogism implicitly holds something else to be important, like freedom. However, they still don't value freedom.

 

By the way, if your argument is "values are incoherent in LD" then you're probably right, valuing anything specific is probably pretty dumb because 1) all frameworks implicitly "value" morality anyway (so technically the argument would be that valuing something besides morality would be pretty stupid) due to the burden to prove the ought statement in the rez true/false and 2) most framework syllogisms and arguments implicitly hold other things to be important. 

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I'm confused as to the implication of this. I originally just said that in LD, people don't differentiate between values. And when I say values, I don't mean things that important to us as people. If the resolution were a question of what we valued, every framework would have to operate within this, which is obviously not what happens. Most frameworks do not speak to this. When I say values, I mean things that function on the supposed highest layer of the framework debate, higher than meta-ethics, since even meta-ethics try to find the origin of our normative claims. I might have been tired when I said "defend a normative ethic," but what I really meant was "everyone just tries to prove the ought statement true/false, which entails proving a moral obligation (or vice versa).

 

Then you say that morality is a set of values, but this proves my point- everything collapses to morality. Hence, even if you defend something dumb and probably impact-justified like "liberty", that in it of itself is a layer below morality, since it is a subset of it. Liberty is not a value, it functions more as the next internal link in a framework- much like how the standard functions. 

 

So to sum it up, all "values" in the sense of "I value morality," in the LD sense, not in the "what is important to me" sense, collapse down to morality anyway, since it functions on a higher level. All other values like life or liberty are subsets of morality, since they are principles we have an obligation to uphold. In a sense, liberty functions as a standard rather than the internal link to proving the ought statement in the rez true. I think overall you are probably conflating the meaning of a value in LD. TOC debaters value morality because it is the thing all other values collapse down to, even their framework syllogism implicitly holds something else to be important, like freedom. However, they still don't value freedom.

 

By the way, if your argument is "values are incoherent in LD" then you're probably right, valuing anything specific is probably pretty dumb because 1) all frameworks implicitly "value" morality anyway (so technically the argument would be that valuing something besides morality would be pretty stupid) due to the burden to prove the ought statement in the rez true/false and 2) most framework syllogisms and arguments implicitly hold other things to be important. 

 

I confess, this is frustrating.

 

Value: something you act to gain and/or keep.

 

You cannot value moraliy.  That's like saying 'i value values' - it's meaningless.  It's almost tautological, except you can't act to gain or keep morality, and therefore it *cannot be a value*.  You can behave in accordance with morality by acting to gain or keep other things (values).

Values in LD, when articulated as I've described above, are not inarticulate.  The problem is when you say incoherent things like 'a value of morality'.  There is no " "values" in the sense of "I value morality,"  that statement is meaningless.

 

LD is supposed to debate situations where values are in conflict.  It could be equality vs. liberty, or different conceptions of justice against each other.  That's how every resolution I've ever seen is intentionally constructed, and it speaks to deep divides in philosophy and ethics where people have profound disagreements about the importance of these things.  What determines if the resolution is true or false is what we believe the dominant value which dictates moral behavior in the situation is.  There is no objective answer - it's a subjective answer based on how we prioritize possible values.  

 

And you have things backwards here: "Hence, even if you defend something dumb and probably impact-justified like "liberty", that in it of itself is a layer below morality".  Not only is it not dumb to defend something like Liberty (and where did you ever get the idea that doing so was dumb), but it's not a layer below morality either - it's a value that may contribute to constituting morality (depending on your ethical framework).  It's on the same level because its part of it, and in fact, it is impossible to know what morality is without specifying values and heirarchically organizing them.

 

Even if you refuse to believe valuing morality is incoherent, saying you value morality is contentless, because it conveys zero information.  Which means you're wasting time when you could be conveying useful information instead.  That we're talking about morality is implicit in the resolution, any mention of the word morality is a waste of breath because we all know that's the context.  However, giving a real value conveys information by indicating what it is we believe (or at least wish to argue) dominates considerations of morality in the context of the resolution.  

 

My take away from this exchange is that most national-circuit LDers (and the summer camps that prep them, and quite possibly most judges on the national circuit) don't understand what values are anymore, or how the value-criterion structure is supposed to work.  And that's sad, because it isn't rocket science.

Edited by Squirrelloid

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