Spring Vote 2021 LD Options

Resolved: Hegemony is superior to the balance of power in international relations.

The Greek ἡγεμών, “hegemon,” is an ancient term-of-art dating back at least to the time of Alexander the Great. Hegemon translates from Greek to mean, “a leader, guide, commander, or chief,” and was applied to Alexander after his unification of Greece. It has since then be used by historians to describe any great power that commands their region in military, cultural, economic, and diplomatic terms. The greatest empires and leagues of history are all part of the conversation of hegemony: Persia, Rome, Mongolia, Britain, and the United States have all had their turn at hegemony, and the effects on the world have been tremendous: human civilization has flourished beneath the rule of hegemons because hegemons have an interest in peace, trade, infrastructure, and multiculturalism. There is therefore an ancient and influential school of thought in foreign policy that considers hegemony the best system for international relations.

However, hegemony also has influential critics. For centuries of European history, wars between the great powers were waged in the pursuit of hegemony. Napoleon’s France, Bismarck’s Germany, and Maria Theresa’s Austria all conquered, lost, and reconquered European territories over and over again. Even for the United States the pursuit of hegemony has led us towards military adventurism, expensive entanglements, and embarrassing reversals. There is therefore extensive room for both the Affirmative and the Negative to make arguments from morality, economics, national security, demography, human rights, culture, and other topics in defense of their side. This resolution is well balanced, topically robust, and very important for our students to understand as it is absolutely fundamental to foreign policy.

Resolved: In criminal justice it is more important to protect innocence than to punish guilt.

In criminal law, Blackstone’s Ratio says: it is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer. This basic idea strongly influenced western legal concepts like presumption and the fourth amendment. Yet, a system that seeks to protect innocence as its highest goal comes at a cost. Evidence that absolutely links a defendant to the crime may be tossed out of court if it was gathered without a warrant, for example. How much should the court system prioritize protecting the innocent, versus putting criminals behind bars? This resolution echoes a previous Stoa resolution (truth-seeking vs. individual privacy), but goes a step further by getting at the heart of the matter: should we prefer a system that makes it hard to accidentally convict an innocent person? Or one that ensures we punish the guilty?

Resolved: In the field of biomedical engineering, restraint ought to be prioritized over scientific advancement.

Medical advances over the last century have raised the average lifespan to an unthinkable degree for our forebears. The sequencing of the human genome, the emergence of CRISPER, and in vitro fertilization all represents stepping stones on the path to radical recontextualization of the possibilities of how humanity can shape the future of our species. But not all knowledge is beneficial let alone safe. This resolution encourages students to plumb the depths of the emerging ethical dilemmas around science’s power to reshape humanity.