2023 — Buckeye, AZ/US
Big Questions Jr
Middle School Big Questions
Big Questions Debate - Topic - Resolved: Humans are primarily driven by self-interest.
Each debater will make an opening presentation, laying out the arguments and reasons to prefer their side of the resolution. These are called the Constructive speeches, and they are five minutes long. The Affirmative side will always speak first. Following these speeches, there is a three-minute question segment. During the questioning segment, the Affirmative side will ask the first question. Following the first question, the questioning period is a free-flowing question and answer period where both speakers may ask each other questions.
Affirmative Constructive – 5 minutes
Negative Constructive – 5 minutes
Question Segment – 3 minutes
Following the Constructive speeches and the first question segment, each debater will deliver a speech addressing the key claims and contentions of their opponents. This speech will address where there are weaknesses or opposing evidence, identify main areas of clash and how arguments interact with one another, rebuild their own contentions, and offer additional evidence for their position. These speeches are known as the Rebuttal speeches, though their content may not be entirely made up of rebuttal. The Rebuttal speeches are four minutes long and followed by a second question segment, which is identical in form to the first.
Affirmative Rebuttal – 4 minutes
Negative Rebuttal – 4 minutes
Question Segment – 3 minutes
The Rebuttals and question segment is followed by the Consolidation speeches. These speeches are three minutes long and serve to reduce the debate to its core elements. Debaters will focus on identifying the areas they are garnering the best advantage and strengthening the analysis and argumentation in those areas; the form will not resemble a strict “line-by-line” treatment of the debate. Additional evidence or analysis on existing points of contention will be given, but new arguments are discouraged.
Affirmative Consolidation – 3 minutes
Negative Consolidation – 3 minutes
Debaters will give a Rationale speech – a three-minute summation of the central argument(s) that prove their side and the reasons they have proven them in this debate. No new arguments are offered in the Rationale speech; the speeches focus entirely on the activity that has taken place earlier in the debate.
Affirmative Rationale – 3 minutes
Negative Rationale – 3 minutes
Both teams will receive a three minute period of prep time to be used at any time (excepting in the middle of a speech which has begun) to prepare their speeches.
Prep Time – 3 minutes / side
The Negative and the Inverse Resolution
Big Questions is designed to pit opposing worldviews against each other in an effort to lead students to explore levels of argumentation that are rarely reached in other debate formats. For that reason, the Negative is expected to present arguments that the resolution is actively false. Negative speaker(s) should view themselves as the Affirmative on the inverse resolution – exemplum gratia, the Negative on “Resolved: Socrates is a man” should view themselves as the affirmative on “Resolved: Socrates is not a man.” Any prima facie burdens on the Affirmative debater(s) apply equally to the Negative debater(s). Negatives must do more than refute the Affirmative case.