Wednesday
Feb012017

R: Submit to Hierarchy

It is all too common for people to associate hierarchy with centuries old kings and queens, pharaohs, and emperors. However, even today we are surrounded by such systematic ordering based on rank. In fact, one does not need to look any further than corporations, churches, court systems, and even family structure to see forms of hierarchy in today's world.

Although modern forms of hierarchy are clearly present, the effects of such a societal structure are not so obvious. Do humans benefit from being assigned a rank among their peers? Or, since all men are created equal, should they remain at an equal status in society? In a broader sense, is hierarchy necessary to maintain tradition in a rapidly changing world? Can hierarchy be used as a tool to suppress those ranked low among the spectrum? Or does having seemingly layered authority bring about a more efficient and productive society?

Join us this Wednesday, February 1st at 7:30 pm in the Berkeley Mendenhall Room to discuss all this and more! All are welcome!

Sunday
Dec042016

R: Let the North Pole Melt

Climate change carries with it sectarian implications and political baggage that is difficult to overcome. It is taken as a fact in many circles and vehemently denied in others. Climate change is a point of contention not only with regard to the politicization of science but also because it is a presupposition of many governmental policies and laws. When treating climate change in a political context, we must ask to what extent humans have a responsibility to preserve Earth as it was before significant industrialization and to what extent it is admissible to shape Earth to human needs. Ought we take action to counteract the effects of industrialization? Ought humans steward natural resources in a way that alters the environmental landscape for our betterment?

Moreover, we must balance the good of preserving resources with the good of improving human quality of life. Is it justifiable to restrict the use of fossil fuels when such use would provide a healthier and more productive life for billions of people in developing countries? Or does overuse of natural resources only harm the regions in which these resources are harvested and used? We will debate these and many more questions this Wednesday December 7th at 7:30 p.m. in the Berkeley Mendenhall Room! All are welcome!

Sunday
Nov062016

R: Secession is a State's Right

The subject of secession is often treated with a certain level dismissiveness and disdain. Those who entertain it are viewed as dangerous, while those who endorse it are viewed as outright insane. In 2016, it is simply beyond the pale to discuss secession in any meaningful way. 


Secession is one of the many “Solved Issues” of our time. If you were to bring up the subject in conversation, you might hear this reply: “Didn’t the Civil War resolve this question?” Of course, violence never provides a substantive answer in a debate. It simply ends the debate. And so, the problem of secession remains unresolved. 
But do not despair, for what fun would this life be without unresolved questions? This Thursday at 7:30 pm in the Berkeley Mendenhall Room, the Federalist Party will debate R: Secession is a State’s Right


Those in the Affirmative should consider both the philosophical and historical legacy of secession in the U.S. and beyond. What does it mean to accede to and secede from a government? What implications does secession have for the maintenance of an effective government? How far should the principle of secession be followed? After all, anarchists such as Murray Rothbard have suggested it reaches as far as the individual. Was the American War for Independence really an act of secession? Is it possible (or desirable) to separate the case for secession from the Confederate States of America?  


Those in the Negative must do more than simply highlight the practical difficulties of secession. They too need to answer what it means to accede to a governing institution? Did America secede from the British Empire? What authority did the States have to ratify the Constitution? Are there no rights for aggrieved parties to depart from an arrangement they view as unsatisfactory? Should borders be conceived of as sacred? Is not secession a bulwark against federal tyranny and overreach? Why is a massive country of 320 million people preferable to a collection of smaller, independent states?  


These and many other questions will be addressed at this week’s debate. Hope to see you there!

Sunday
Oct302016

R: Cemeteries are for the Living

Citizens of the United States for the most part do not live on land their families have owned for hundred of years. They largely do not share the practice sharing the home with multiple generations. Yet they do subscribe to the common conviction that roots matter and that ancestry ought to be recognized. Cemeteries are physical manifestations of this belief. Yet are these resting places belong to those who rest there, or do they have meaning only because of those who visit the graves?

In a larger sense, do burial practices celebrate the dead, or do they exist as a way to bind together the living? Should cemeteries be spaces used as public places, or should the focus rest on private celebration of the dead?

Join us in the newly reupholstered Berkeley Mendenhall Room on Wednesday November 2nd at 7:30 p.m. to debate this and other life and death matters. All are welcome!

Sunday
Oct232016

R: Public Schools are a Public Menace

The United States guarantee - indeed mandate - that all children receive an education. Public education is free and available to all children, and is dedicated to providing children the basic skills and cultural literacy they need to enter the workforce. Yet education is not merely to teach skills; it is meant to form students as persons. Can state-funded schools act as a force for truth, good, and unity in America? Or does American society, as an amalgam of morals and cultures, bring about inevitable conflict in public education?

Moreover, ought parents cede to the government power over shaping their children's minds and hearts? Or should communities educate children, instilling in them the values held by the community?

Join us to discuss education and related matters on Wednesday October 26th at 7:30 p.m. in the Riggs Study at St. Thomas More. All are welcome!