Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates bring Oxford-style debate to America – one motion, one moderator, two panelists for the motion and two against. From clean energy and the financial crisis, to the Middle East and the death of mainstream media, Intelligence Squared U.S. brings together the world's leading authorities on the day's most important issues. Join the debate online and cast your vote for each topic at www.iq2us.org.More from Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates »
IQ2US Tribute to David Carr
Is Amazon the Reader's Friend
In late 2014, Amazon and the publishing house Hachette settled a months-long dispute over who should set the price for e-books. In Amazon’s view, lower prices mean more sales and more readers, and that benefits everyone. But for publishers, the price of an e-book must reflect the investment made, from the author’s advance to a book’s production. The conflict, resolved for now, has only raised more questions about the value of books, Amazon’s business practices, and the role of publishers. Is book publishing an oligopoly, a dinosaur in need of disruption? Is Amazon, which accounts for 41% of all new book and 67% of all e-book sales, a monopoly? Who is doing right by readers and the future of books?
IQ2US Retrospective on the Freedom of Speech
With the world outraged by the attacks on satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, last week in Paris, we think back to our debate from 2006 on the motion: Freedom of Expression Must Include the License to Offend. The debaters were Philip Gourevitch, David Cesarani, Christopher Hitchens, Daisy Khan, Signe Wilkinson, and Mari Matsuda. The complete debate can be heard at http://intelligencesquaredus.org/debates/past-debates/item/545-freedom-of-expression-must-include-the-license-to-offend.
Should We Genetically Modify Food?
Genetically modified (GM) foods have been around for decades, and they are developed for a number of different reasons—to fight disease, enhance flavor, resist pests, improve nutrition, survive drought. Across the country and around the world, communities are fighting the cultivation of genetically engineered crops. Are they safe? How do they impact the environment? Can they improve food security? Is the world better off with or without GM food?
Should We Legalize Assisted Suicide?
In 1994, Oregon voters passed the Death with Dignity Act, which legalized physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill. Since then, it has become legal in 4 more states, including New Mexico, where the state court ruling that it is constitutional is under appeal. Will these laws lead to a slippery slope, where the vulnerable are pressured to choose death and human life is devalued? Or do we need to recognize everyone’s basic right to autonomy? The debaters are Peter Singer, Baroness Ilora Finlay, Andrew Solomon, and Dr. Daniel Sulmasy.
Does Income Inequality Impair the American Dream?
Income inequality has been on the rise for decades. In the last 30 years, the wages of the top 1% have grown by 154%, while the bottom 90% has seen growth of only 17%. As the rungs of the economic ladder move further and further apart, conventional wisdom says that it will become much more difficult to climb them. Opportunities for upward mobility—the American dream—will disappear as the deck becomes stacked against the middle class and the poor. But others see inequality as a positive, a sign of a dynamic and robust economy that, in the end, helps everyone. And contrary to public opinion, mobility has remained stable over the past few decades. If the American dream is dying, is it the result of income inequality? Or is disparity in income a red herring where more complex issues are at play? The Debaters are Elise Gould, Edward Conard, Nick Hanauer, and Scott Winship.
Mass Collection of U.S. Phone Records Violates the Fourth Amendment
Some say that the mass collection of U.S. phone records is a gross invasion of privacy. Others say that it is necessary to keep us safe. But what does the U.S. Constitution say? "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” Is collection of phone records a “search” or “seizure"? If so, is it “unreasonable”? Does it require a particularized warrant and probable cause? These are among the most consequential—and controversial—constitutional questions of our time.
Will Flexing America's Muscles in the Middle East Make Things Worse?
The disintegration of Iraq, Syria’s ongoing civil war, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the promise and peril of the Arab Spring... What role should America play in the Middle East? For some America’s restraint has been a sign of disciplined leadership. But for others, it has been a sign of diminished strength and influence. Are we simply recognizing the limitations of our power, or does this embattled region require a bolder, more muscular, American presence? The debaters are Aaron David Miller, Michael Doran, Bret Stephens, and Paul Pillar.
Should We Embrace the Common Core?
In K-12 education, there is nothing more controversial than the Common Core State Standards, national academic standards in English and math. Adopted by more than 40 states, they were developed, in part, to address concerns that American students were falling behind their foreign counterparts. Has the federal government overreached and saddled our schools with standards that have been flawed from the start? The debaters are Carmel Martin, Carol Burris, Michael Petrill, and Frederick Hess.