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Binghamton Speech & Debate

Proposition: Nicholas Holmes (University of Michigan-Flint ) vs. Opposition: Olivia Dennison (Binghamton University)

Judge: Chase Hutchinson (Wood River High School)

Resolution: THBT: An overriding ethical obligation to protect and preserve extraterrestrial microbial life and ecosystems should be incorporated into international law.

  • Nicholas Holmes
    Nicholas Holmes

    Olivia Dennison
    Olivia Dennison
    Click to begin

    Speech Details

    Click on the other tabs to watch watch that speech.

    Posted at April 18, 2016 08:45:53PM EST by Nicholas Holmes



    Cole, Joshua & Carol Symes, 10/2013 (W.W. Norton & Company, "Western Civilizations: Their History and Culture").

    Hirshfield, Irvin 2/3/2016 (Professor of Biology, St. John's University, NASA Debate Interview Series, "NASA Debate Interview Series- Irvin N. Hirshfield":

    National Geographic Society n.d. (National Geographic Online, "Deforestation":

    Tindall, George & David Shi, 12/2012 (W.W. Norton & Company, "America: A Narrative History").

    Williamson, Mark 2003 (Space Technology Consultant of Glebe House, Elsevier Science, "Space Ethics and the Protection of Space Environment":

    Posted at April 20, 2016 01:39:01AM EST by Olivia Dennison



    None available for this speech.

    Posted at April 20, 2016 05:53:06PM EST by Nicholas Holmes



    University of Michigan, 10/31/2008 ("The Concept of the Ecosystem":

    Posted at April 21, 2016 10:30:18PM EST by Olivia Dennison



    "UCSB Science Line." UCSB Science Line. Web. 21 Apr. 2016.

    Posted at April 22, 2016 12:27:58PM EST by Nicholas Holmes



    Lupisella, Mark, 1997 (Space Policy, "The Rights of Martians”:

    O’Neill, Ian, 3/5/2011 (Discovery, “Has Evidence for Alien Life Been Found?”:

    University of California, 2015 ("UCSB Science Line”:


    This match has been completed. Show the Decision.

    Submitted at April 24, 2016 02:20:37AM EST by Chase Hutchinson

    Category Nicholas Holmes Olivia Dennison
    Use of evidence: 4.3 3.5
    Delivery skill: 6 6
    Coherence of arguments: 4 2
    Responsiveness to opponent: 4 2.5
    Identification of key points: 6 2.3
    Comments: I think you do a very good job but let your opponent get away with way too much. The first thing you should say when you hear their CP is that "This is already what the plan would do and your CP is just a repeat of that." In most college debates you might hear the term "Perm: Do the plan" if you want to get all fancy. That I think would have made it a lot less messy to vote for you.

    Going to the line by line, I think you have a good opening speech that sets a good tone but gets muddled by the end of the debate. If you had made your framing argument about how values should come before policymaking in the first speech, I would have seen things a lot more clearly. However, I think that you can also say that values inform policy and that bad values create bad policy, making all their impacts inevitable unless we change our ethical approach.

    I really like your approach of discussing how humanity tends to be a tool of destruction and your impacts are very clear. I think you end up undercutting yourself when you end up agreeing with a lot of the counterplan about how you could do that too. I would recommend making arguments about why space colonization/resource extraction could be a bad thing and just a repeat of England colonizing native land.

    Other than that, I really liked your speech. Make sure to extend things a little bit more and have a clear distinction on how you end up solving better than they do.

    Feel free to let me know if you have any questions.
    You have a lot of interesting arguments, but I have a really hard time seeing how the counterplan is any different than the plan. I am not compelled by your "he didn't say what exemptions he would include in his speech" as you don't really say why there wouldn't be these exemptions in this real world of policymaking you operate in. I imagine the international community would provide things that allow them to stop an asteroid from destroying the planet (and whatever life may or may not be on the asteroid) through an exemption. Whether or not this would then be "an overriding obligation" I think is where you could make some distinguishing arguments about why you are different than what the resolution entails.

    Further, I have a really hard time when you say education is important but then try to wave away the propositions arguments about why we have to learn from past mistakes in history. That seems like a very important form of education that you don't really acknowledge nor actually work with while the proposition does. Why should I ignore that type of knowledge in favor of potential knowledge to be gained from unchecked (or at least exemption heavy) space colonization/resource extraction when I have just been educated about how these things can be bad for everyone? You really need to tell me why your education is worth that risk or at least do some mitigating impact calc.

    You make one argument that could have had a lot more weight if you had made it more central to your case. You said something to the effect of "we should research then make the law and then continue to research." This is known as a delay counterplan which in this instance might have some real weight if leveraged more heavily with your policy making being good framework. However, I would need to see more of a pressing need to allow for unchecked research now and impact that out better.

    Feel free to let me know if you have any questions.

    The decision is for the Proposition: Nicholas Holmes

    Reason for Decision:

    The final speech given by the Proposition made it clear that the part of the resolution that says such an obligation should be "incorporated" is largely supported by both sides made me most comfortable to vote on that. However, this wasn't easy nor do I don't think this is entirely true, as it seems the proposition should have to say that this should be an overriding ethical obligation which would probably preclude all the exemptions listed in the counterplan but the opposition never said this in a clear way for me. Therefore, I effectively evaluated this as a Perm: Do the plan. If that language doesn't make sense, feel free to message me but it effectively means the proposition says just do the plan since it functionally would already do what the conterplan does under normal means. Also, while the framing argument about this being about values and not policy comes in the last speech (see your comments I left above) I feel that there is enough of this that feels like an extension of the "learn from the past to better understand the future argument" that I give this some weight. Also, it seems to function in a policymaking world as well when the proposition says we could better understand how to engage with the final frontier of space. Long story short, I think the proposition captures 100 percent of what the opposition says the counterplan will do as well as taking a good valued/ethical stance that could possible alleviate environmental destruction/genocide/a bad scientific approach making me see only a risk that the counterplan could lead us to repeat possible bad mistakes of the past.

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