The Instigator
kasmic
Con (against)
Losing
14 Points
The Contender
YYW
Pro (for)
Winning
42 Points

Adolescents ought to have the right to make autonomous medical choices.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 8 votes the winner is...
YYW
Voting Style: Open Point System: Select Winner
Started: 12/29/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 35,148 times Debate No: 62421
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (72)
Votes (8)

 

kasmic

Con

Adolescents ought to have the right to make autonomous medical choices.Definitions:Adolescent: "the period of life from puberty to maturity terminating legally at the age of majority"(1)Autonomous: "existing or acting separately from other things or people"(2)Round one for pro is acceptance and opening argument.Pro will waive last round.Comment if you are interested.(1) http://www.merriam-webster.com...(2) http://www.merriam-webster.com...
YYW

Pro

Introduction

Before I begin, I think prudence behooves an analysis of the resolution. The resolution states "Adolescents ought to have the right to make autonomous medical choices." This means that PRO in today"s debate must affirmatively persuade you, the judge, that as a matter of general principle, adolescents should be able to make medical decisions for themselves as a matter of right. CON, in contrast, must persuade you that as a matter of general principle, adolescents should not be able to make medical decisions for themselves as a matter of right.

To affirm this resolution as a general principle, I need only argue that adolescents should have the right to make autonomous medical choices in some cases where they are capable. The resolution does not require the affirmation to argue that all adolescents should have a right to make all medical decisions only on their own. Rather, affirming this resolution requires only a denial of the status quo in which adolescents are generally presumed incompetent to make medical decisions on their own behalf.

Insofar as this is an "opinion-topic" the burden of persuasion is equivalent on both sides, meaning that neither side has a greater or lesser persuasive burden than the other. The reason that the burden of persuasion is equivalent is because to do otherwise would be to show deference towards one side at the expense of the other, and therefore to undertake the exercise of judging this debate from a biased perspective. I think this was at one point an LD topic, or it might be an LD topic now. As such, while this debate necessarily entails certain value-based arguments, I"m not going to argue it as if it were an LD round such that I would begin by establishing a value and a criterion. As a roadmap, I"m going to begin by talking about the status quo of adolescents" right to autonomous medical choices, and then I"m going to present some arguments for why this probably isn"t the best way to go.

The Status Quo of Adolescents" Right to Autonomous Medical Choices

The law currently regards adolescents (people between the age of about 13-14 and 17) as generally incompetent to make medical decisions for themselves. What that means is that young people now do not have the right to decide what kind of medical care they receive or even if they receive it. That choice is left up to their parents or guardians, if they have parents or guardians, or to the state if the young people in question do not have parents or guardians. Adults, in contrast (people over the age of 18) get to make decisions for themselves because of the presumption that someone over the age of 18 is decisional capable of making those kinds of choices.

Decisional capacity is a kind of hard concept to define, but to have decisional capacity is basically to have the ability to understand information, consider it carefully and make a decision on that basis. (1) It should come as no surprise that decisional capacity is not the exclusive province of adults. I think that as a general rule, if a kid can master the mysteries of calculus they can probably understand information relevant to their medical care -and an adult may not even be able to pass a high school calculus class.

There is also some irony in the right to make autonomous medical decisions as it relates to adolescents in the sense that while a 16 or a 17 year old girl who gave birth could be legally required to make medical decisions that relates to the care of her child, that same 16 or 17 year old girl could not, in some jurisdictions, receive birth control from her doctor without parental consent. Alternatively, in almost all jurisdictions a fifteen year old boy could be charged as an adult for committing a crime like robbery or murder and punished as an adult on the premise that the boy had the mental acuity to appreciate the gravity of his decision to perform that crime, but the law might at the same time regard him incompetent to consent to or refuse certain medical care as a result of a sexually transmitted disease he could contract while incarcerated. That doesn"t make a whole lot of sense, does it? How can a teenager an adult (insofar as they are decisionally capable) when they commit crimes but a child (such that they are not decisionally capable) when it comes to medical care?

Justice requires that adolescents have the right to make autonomous medical decisions.

If justice requires that individual autonomy be respected, then to the extent that someone is capable of acting autonomously (in this case, being decisionally capable) that right ought to be respected. As a basic rule, if people can understand facts that are presented to them and they can make decisions on the basis of those facts, they should have a right to make choices for themselves about those facts. And the science here supports the notion that adolescents are decisionally capable; adolescents are, as a general rule, capable of understanding facts presented to them and making choices on the basis of those decisions. (1)

A study from the late 1990s compared the decisions of four age groups (9, 14, 18 and 21 years) on outcome measures which were designed to measure the decisional capacity of those groups relative to the others. While the 9 year olds were less competent than the 21 year olds, there was no statistical difference between the decision making capacities of the 14, 18 and 21 year olds. (2) What that means is that the 14 year olds are generally as capable as the 18 and 21 year olds even though there was some statistically insignificant variation between them.

So, that should be our standard for evaluating who gets the right to make autonomous medical decisions, and it"s fairly straightforward that adolescents can do that. That established, if someone is decisionally capable and that person is denied the right to make choices for themselves about matters that pertain to their wellbeing, then their right to autonomy is being violated. There are a lot of teenagers on this site, and they seem like they"re decisionally capable, so it seems proper that they should be afforded the right to make decisions that pertain to their medical care for themselves with or without the involvement of their parents.

Sources

1. "Adolescent Autonomy: Clarifying an Ageless Conundrum" Hastings Law Journal 51 Hastings L.G. 1256. Rhonda Gay, J.D., Ph.D. August 2000.

2. "Involving Children and Adolescents in Medical Decision Making: Developmental and Clinical Considerations." Journal of Pediatric Psychology. Vol. 21.4: p. 507. Mary Ann McCabe, Department of Hematology/Oncology, Children"s National Medical Center. 1996.
Debate Round No. 1
kasmic

Con

Rebuttals:

1: The Status Quo of Adolescents" Right to Autonomous Medical Choices

Pro says “I think that as a general rule, if a kid can master the mysteries of calculus they can probably understand information relevant to their medical care -and an adult may not even be able to pass a high school calculus class.”

This is a poor comparison and certainly not a general rule. Mastering calculus does not require the same capabilities as decision making. This is like saying a 300 pound defensive linemen in football is, “as a general rule” capable of running a marathon. Obvious physical prowess in one field does not imply prowess or capability in another. This is true with the brain as well. While some adolescents may be capable of doing calculus, this is no indication of maturity of the brain in general. As such this comparison does nothing to support pro’s argument. Certainly adults, on balance, are more capable of making medical decisions then the adolescents who rely on adults to survive.

Pro says “that while a 16 or a 17 year old girl who gave birth could be legally required to make medical decisions that relates to the care of her child, that same 16 or 17 year old girl could not, in some jurisdictions, receive birth control from her doctor without parental consent.”

This is an interesting point. The uniqueness of this circumstance is beyond the scope of this debate. As I may argue that adolescents should not have autonomy in regard to medical choices it would be beyond this debate’s subject or purpose to argue that society could stop teens from getting pregnant. Likewise it is beyond this debate to argue who should make medical decisions for the fetus in the body of a 13 year old. However, it is in scope of this debate to discuss whether a 16 year old girl is capable of reasonable electing to take prescription medicine for birth control. I will address this in my counter argument.

Pro says “Alternatively, in almost all jurisdictions a fifteen year old boy could be charged as an adult for committing a crime like robbery or murder and punished as an adult on the premise that the boy had the mental acuity to appreciate the gravity of his decision to perform that crime, but the law might at the same time regard him incompetent to consent to or refuse certain medical care as a result of a sexually transmitted disease he could contract while incarcerated.”

Like the example previous this is an interesting point. Though, again, outside the scope of this debate. I will say that the charging of a fifteen year old boy as an adult is not the norm and on balance does not happen. There are times where exceptions in society have been made. The arguments I will hereafter may quite possibly show that such an exception should not be made. As much as I am tempted to engage this example, I fear doing so will lead me off track. It suffices me to say that a child being tried as an adult is the exception not the norm. On balance, society does not hold adolescents to the same degree of accountability as adults.

As far as the status quo, it is clear that on balance society recognizes that adolescents are not as capable as adults in decision making and as a result are not held accountable to the same degree. Also as a result, they are restricted from participating in society in many ways.

2: Justice requires that adolescents have the right to make autonomous medical decisions.

Pro says “If justice requires that individual autonomy be respected, then to the extent that someone is capable of acting autonomously (in this case, being decisionally capable) that right ought to be respected. “

Perhaps justice requires capable individuals autonomy be respected. As such, it should be respected. What of children?

John Stuart Mill in his work "On Liberty" said this:

"It is, perhaps, hardly necessary to say that this doctrine (of liberty) is meant to apply only to human beings in the maturity of their faculties. We are not speaking of children, or of young persons below the age which the law may fix as that of manhood or womanhood. Those who are still in a state to require being taken care of by others, must be protected against their own actions as well as against external injury… Liberty, as a principle, has no application to any state of things anterior to the time when mankind have become capable of being improved by free and equal discussion."(1)

John Locke said

“The freedom then of man, and liberty of acting according to his own will, is grounded on his having reason, which is able to instruct him in that law he is to govern himself by, and make him know how far he is left to the freedom of his own will. To turn him loose to an unrestrained liberty, before he has reason to guide him, is not the allowing him the privilege of his nature to be free" (2)

Pro says “As a basic rule, if people can understand facts that are presented to them and they can make decisions on the basis of those facts, they should have a right to make choices for themselves about those facts.”

No contention there. Justice calls for such.

Pro says “And the science here supports the notion that adolescents are decisionally capable; adolescents are, as a general rule, capable of understanding facts presented to them and making choices on the basis of those decisions.”

I am entirely unable to verify my opponents source as I do not own the book. However, I will present sources that contradict what pro has shown in my counter argument.

Finally pro appeals emotionally to those who are on this website saying “There are a lot of teenagers on this site, and they seem like they’re decisionally capable, so it seems proper that they should be afforded the right to make decisions that pertain to their medical care for themselves with or without the involvement of their parents.”

A very clever inclusion as for me to refute will likely alienate some voters. Perhaps that is unavoidable in this debate.

Counter Argument:

As pro presented the status quo, There are many good reasons not to allow adolescents medical autonomy. The main one I would like to present is as follows. Within the human brain is the Prefrontal cortex. "The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is located in the very front of the brain, just behind the forehead. In charge of abstract thinking and thought analysis, it is also responsible for regulating behavior. This includes mediating conflicting thoughts, making choices between right and wrong, and predicting the probable outcomes of actions or events."(3)

"The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is located in the very front of the brain, just behind the forehead. In charge of abstract thinking and thought analysis, it is also responsible for regulating behavior. This includes mediating conflicting thoughts, making choices between right and wrong, and predicting the probable outcomes of actions or events."(3)

"Since the PFC controls intense emotions and impulses, it is sometimes referred to as the seat of good judgement. As such, a properly functioning prefrontal cortex inhibits inappropriate behaviors " including delaying gratification of needs, for things like food or sex " while encouraging wise, acceptable choices. In part, this occurs because it works to allow humans to balance immediate reward with long-term goals."(3)

"Medical studies have shown that the PFC is the last section of the brain to mature. In other words, while all other brain regions are fully developed early in life, its development is not complete until around age 25."(3)

"A damaged PFC can negatively impact a person's ability to assess situations or perform tasks, particularly those of a moral or ethical nature."(3)

"As a number of researchers have put it, "the rental car companies have it right." The brain isn't fully mature at 16, when we are allowed to drive, or at 18, when we are allowed to vote, or at 21, when we are allowed to drink, but closer to 25, when we are allowed to rent a car."(4)

Both of these sources suggest the age of PFC maturity is 25. It is quite clear that adolescents on balance, do not have the mental capability to effectively think abstractly, or rationally, or "to balance immediate reward with long-term goals," due to this scientific truth. This lack of mental capability is generally accepted as a justifiable reason to not allow adolescents to make autonomous medical decisions.

Conclusion:

The status quo supports my argument. Society on balance recognizes that adolescents are less capable of making rational decisions. Science supports such an understanding of an underdeveloped brain. As a result autonomy of minors is justly severely limited. Justice demands autonomy of those who are capable. Justice demands that such autonomy is not intended for those not yet able to govern themselves.

Due to what has become obvious in this debate, Adolescents ought NOT to have the right to make autonomous medical choices.

Sources:

(1) http://www.bartleby.com...
(2) http://www.constitution.org...
(3) http://www.wisegeek.org...
(4) http://hrweb.mit.edu...
YYW

Pro

The basic argument I made in the last round, which my opponent didn't directly address, is this:

Justice requires that adolescents have the right to make autonomous medical decisions. The reason is because if justice requires that individual autonomy be respected, then to the extent that an individual is capable of acting autonomously they have a right to do so. Adolescents can act autonomously because they are decisionally capable, meaning that they can understand information and make decisions on the basis of information that they learn.

CON made some pretty weak rebuttals... they didn't really work, though. The reasons his rebuttals don't really carry a lot of weight are fairly clear. First, being able to understand something complicated like calculus shows that on a certain level adolescents are capable of abstract and complex reasoning, which shows that at least those adolescents who take and succeed in academic classes that involve complicated reasoning skills are decisionally capable and thus can act autonomously. But, talking calculus is certainly not the "end all" of decisional capacity -it's one example of a kind of "marker" that would let us know that a person can acquire new information, critically consider it and make decisions accordingly.

Second, rather than actually engage any of the examples I listed, CON just said that they were "beyond the scope." The problem is that they're not. It is absurd that a 16 year old can get pregnant and could be legally required to make medical decisions for her child, because in order for that to happen, the law would have to recognize that the same 16 year old is sufficiently capable of making medical decisions in "for others" but not "for herself." In the same respect, the law recognizes adolescents as adults in some cases but not others -so, again, we've got another contradiction in the status quo. If the basis of PRO's claim is that adolescents are not capable of making decisions like adults in some cases, but capable of making decisions like adults in other cases, that's a conflict that has to be addressed. After all, this whole debate comes down to whether adolescents are "sufficiently capable" of decision making for themselves.

Third, CON's claim that adults are "more" capable of making medical than adolescents because adults have a more developed pre-frontal cortex is problematic because it does not mean what he thinks it means. Basically, what CON is saying is that because adults have more developed pre-frontal cortexes, that they and only they should be able to make medical decisions for adolescents. The problem with that argument should be pretty clear: no matter how well developed adults' pre-frontal cortexes are, that doesn't mean that adolescents are not sufficiently mature enough to make those kinds of decisions for themselves. The evidence I have, which CON didn't even bother to address suggests that adolescents *are* sufficiently able to make medical decisions for themselves, and thus able to act autonomously, so justice requires respect for their right to act autonomously.

The point to take away from this is that even if adults are "more" mature than adolescents (obvious), that doesn't mean that medical decisions that affect adolescents should be the exclusive province of adults because adolescents are "mature enough" to have a role in that decision making process to the extent that they are able to act autonomously. Even still, CON is fundamentally mistaken about the differences in decision making processes between adults and adolescents.

"Studies comparing adolescent and adult decision-making processes have found few, if any, differences in cognitive abilities between adults and adolescents aged 14 and over. (3) Psychologist Tara Kuther concludes on her review of the psychology literature that "many adolescents are as able as adults to conceptualize and reason about treatment alternatives, and, therefore, to make healthcare decisions." (4) CON's emphasis on pre-frontal cortex development, thus, is as misplaced as his tendency to infantilize adolescents by denying their medical autonomy.

Fourth, CON attempted to respond to my argument, summarized above, by quoting John Stuart Mill. Mill's point was that the doctrine of liberty does not apply to children. Liberty is "the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one's way of life, behavior, or political views." That is *actually* beyond the scope of this debate, because we're only talking about *autonomy within the context of medical choices* -which is narrower than liberty. Autonomy within the context of medical choices is only the right to decide what, if any, medical care one receives. So, we don't have to give adolescents free reign in society to accept that they can (and probably should) be able to make some decisions for themselves. I don't really know why CON included the Locke quote... because it has nothing whatsoever to do with this debate.

That established, I'm really glad that CON agrees that if people can understand facts that are presented to them and they can make decisions on the basis of those facts, they should have a right to make choices for themselves about those facts. I'm especially glad that he went so far as to concede that justice requires this. The reason is because adolescents, who are people just as much as adults are, are decisionally capable and thus their right to make autonomous medical choices should be respected. That is why at the end of the day, even though the pre-frontal cortex may not be completely developed until age 25, CON has a long way to go to prove that the pre-frontal cortex is "not developed enough" from ages 13-17 to preclude decisional capacity. He hasn't done that, and he can't do that, because the scientific literature directly contradicts such a contention. Insofar as I have shown that the opposite is true, and my opponent has conceded that to the extent that people can act autonomously, justice requires that their right to do so be respected, I've won this debate.

Vote PRO!

Peace and Love,

YYW

Sources, continued... (As an aside, all CON had to do to verify my source was google it.)

(3) Shoshanna Ehrlich, J. "Grounded in the Reality of Their Lives: Listening to Teens Who Make the Abortion Decision Without Involving Their Parents", 18 Berkeley Women"s L.J. 61, 150 (2003); also Shoshanna Ehrlich, Who Decides? The Abortion Rights of Teens (Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 2006). (From IPPF. Understanding Young People's Right to Decide: Why is it important to develop capacities for autonomous decision making?)

(4) Kuther, T.L. "Medical Decision-Making and Minors: Issues of Consent and Assent", 38(150) Adolescence 343 (2003) at 350. (From IPPF. Understanding Young People's Right to Decide: Why is it important to develop capacities for autonomous decision making?)
Debate Round No. 2
kasmic

Con

Rebuttals:

Pro says “Justice requires that adolescents have the right to make autonomous medical decisions.”

He comes to this conclusion saying

“Adolescents can act autonomously because they are decisionally capable, meaning that they can understand information and make decisions on the basis of information that they learn.”

I will ignore the fact that “decisionally” is not a word. (1) Indeed this debate hinges on whether adolescents are capable of making rational decisions medically. More on this later.

Pro says “CON made some pretty weak rebuttals... they didn't really work, though.”

Do you always start your rebuttals with Ad homiem statements?

Pro says “First, being able to understand something complicated like calculus shows that on a certain level adolescents are capable of abstract and complex reasoning, which shows that at least those adolescents who take and succeed in academic classes that involve complicated reasoning skills are decisionally capable and thus can act autonomously.”

This is obviously and empirically false.


“Teen brains are particularly good at learning and remembering new things -- much better than the adult brain. The teen brain's ability to absorb its environment is one reason teens are so influenced by their environments and interested in so many new things. These learning and retaining skills are present for both boys and girls.”(2)

Ergo Teens may be able to master calculus. However,

“The part of the teen brain not yet fully developed is the frontal lobe, which is the part of the brain that manages impulse control, judgment, insight, and emotional control. So when teens engage in risky and/or foolish behavior, it's not just that they don't have life experience to know better, but that their brains have difficulty assessing consequences. Basically, teens have less myelin (the fatty coating that surrounds nerve cells). Nerve cells need myelin to send signals throughout the brain. So in teen brains, the synapses that are supposed to connect the frontal lobe to the rest of the brain are not working as well as they should. As a result, teens can't access those skills based in the frontal lobe easily.”(2)

Pro says “talking calculus is certainly not the "end all" of decisional capacity -it's one example of a kind of "marker" that would let us know that a person can acquire new information, critically consider it and make decisions accordingly.” Sorry bud, but clearly being able to do calculus serves as no such marker…. As such this comparison does absolutely nothing to support pro’s argument.

Pro says “It is absurd that a 16 year old can get pregnant and could be legally required to make medical decisions for her child, because in order for that to happen, the law would have to recognize that the same 16 year old is sufficiently capable of making medical decisions in "for others" but not "for herself."

I agree that it is absurd, both that 16 year olds are pregnant and that the current law would deem capable the incapable.

Pro says “In the same respect, the law recognizes adolescents as adults in some cases but not others -so, again, we've got another contradiction in the status quo.”

As I mentioned last round. These examples are the exceptions to the norm, not the norm itself. My arguments show that such exception’s should not be made. On balance, society does not hold adolescents to the same degree of accountability as adults.

Pro says “no matter how well developed adults' pre-frontal cortexes are, that doesn't mean that adolescents are not sufficiently mature enough to make those kinds of decisions for themselves.”

I have shown and will continue to show that adolescents are not sufficiently mature enough to make those kinds of decisions.

Pro concedes that adults are more mature stating… “adults are "more" mature than adolescents (obvious),”

Pro goes on to say “that doesn't mean that medical decisions that affect adolescents should be the exclusive province of adults because adolescents are "mature enough"

Evidence given in this debate shows this not the case.

Pro says. “Liberty is "the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one's way of life, behavior, or political views." That is *actually* beyond the scope of this debate, because we're only talking about *autonomy within the context of medical choices* -which is narrower than liberty.”

Merriam-Webster defines liberty as “the state or condition of people who are able to act and speak freely”(3) Compare this to the definition of Autonomous in round one. Clearly the principle of Liberty is exemplified in the word Autonomous.

Saying that adolescents ought to have the autonomy to make medical decisions is synonymous with saying that adolescents ought to have the liberty to make medical decisions. As such, Both Mill’s quote and Locke’s quote are highly applicable as they both share the truth that liberty, or in other words autonomy, is a right for those who “to human beings in the maturity of their faculties. We are not speaking of children, or of young persons below the age which the law may fix as that of manhood or womanhood.” To give adolescents the liberty to make medical decisions is “To turn him (or her) loose to an unrestrained liberty, before he has reason to guide him, is not the allowing him the privilege of his nature to be free"

Adolescents are “Those who are still in a state to require being taken care of by others, must be protected against their own actions as well as against external injury…” This is true medically.


Pro says “I'm really glad that CON agrees that if people can understand facts that are presented to them and they can make decisions on the basis of those facts, they should have a right to make choices for themselves about those facts. I'm especially glad that he went so far as to concede that justice requires this.”

I still agree with the above statement, pro continues to say “The reason is because adolescents, who are people just as much as adults are, are decisionally capable and thus their right to make autonomous medical choices should be respected.”

As shown repeatedly in this debate, and as the evidence supports this is not the case.

Clearly there is scientific proof that children are less capable then adults. Our society has deemed 18 year olds as adults. Perhaps the age at which people should be referred to as adults would be a good topic for a separate debate.

In spite of the PFC not being fully developed until 25, it is developing continuously. This means that we can conclude that the PFC of 18 year olds is more developed than that of a 14 year old. Ergo we can conclude that 18 year olds are more capable of capable of reasoned thinking, making choices between right and wrong, predicting outcomes, good judgment, regulating behavior, or inhibiting inappropriate behavior then those younger than them.

More importantly we can easily and indisputably conclude that adolescents so defined in round one are not capable of making reasoned decisions medically and should therefore not have medical autonomy.

This is a clear win! Vote Con!


(1) http://www.merriam-webster.com...
(2) http://health.howstuffworks.com...
(3) http://www.merriam-webster.com...

YYW

Pro

So, this is awkward. Decisionally is definitely a word. A quick google search reveals that to be the case... and produces some results where it's used, including in my source which I originally listed. (1)

This link explores the nuances of decisional capacity:

http://plato.stanford.edu...

This is sort of awkward, because we are now at the second occasion in this debate where my opponent's incapacity to "google" stuff has produced generally unfavorable results on his own end. I think another thing CON doesn't understand is how decision making works... as if medical decisions are somehow "over and above" other kinds of decisions. That seems to be a consistent theme of what he's writing, which is silly. He has done little more than acknowledge that I used a word he didn't know, and has thus far failed to substantively rebut anything I've said.

The problem is that he doesn't understand how logic works... His argument, rephrased in the previous round in some creative ways, is essentially this:

THIS IS IMPORTANT: Teenagers' pre-frontal cortexes are not as developed as adults, therefore only adults can make medical decisions for teens. What he has failed, demonstrably, to do is show how (1) prefrontal cortex development to an adult level is necessary to make medical decisions, (2) that teen prefrontal cortex development -even if less than adults- is not "sufficient" to make medical decisions, and (3) that even if teenager's prefrontal cortexes are not sufficiently developed, and "adult level" prefrontal cortex development is necessary to make "good" medical deacons, that restricting the medical decisions of teenagers only to adults violates adolescents' substantive rights.

THIS IS WHY WHAT I SAID ABOVE IS IMPORTANT: As to the stuff I mentioned above, my opponent doesn't consider any of those things. There is no link between "prefrontal cortex development at the adult level" and "exclusive medical deciders." Even still, insofar as the pre-frontal cortex does not develop until around the mid-20s, his own logic should preclude even legal adults form making their own medical decisions which is (other than violating adult's substantive rights) fundamentally dumb. So while CON can make silly pithy remarks like he did in the previous round, his logic is terribly weak. I said why it was weak above, but he just said that explaining the actual reasons that his argument was weak was an ad hom attack.... such disappoint.

So... I've pointed out a lot of contradictions in the status quo, which he has yet to rebut the substance of. I've pointed out weakness in his case, and he's ignored them. I've made the argument that adolescents ought to be able to make their own medical decisions... and when all else fails my opponent says "adults are more mature than adolescents" therefore only adults should be able to make medical decisions. This is basically the same weak logic as his dumb prefrontal cortex argument. It might be the case that adults are more mature than adolescents, but unless my opponent can show that adolescents are NOT sufficiently mature to make medical decisions for themselves, (accepting "maturity" as the standard for who ought to be able to make medical decisions) then this argument falls too. Again, the fact that adults are more mature than teens does not mean that teens are not mature enough to make those decisions for themselves.

But, I'm not so sure I like the standard of "maturity" being the delineating factor between groups who can make medical decisions and those who can't. The reason is because even if someone else might be in a better position to make certain decisions for someone else (for any number of reasons -one of which might be *LOL* a more developed prefrontal cortex), the reason that we respect people's right to make decisions that relate to themselves is because respect for the dignity of others (read: justice) requires it. In a free and democratic society, it's not good enough to say that all and only those who are in the best position to make decisions get to make those decisions when that decisional power intrudes on another's right to autonomy. And... this is another point that my opponent has just fouled up in totality, inferior as he's completely dropped it other than to put some irrelevant philosophical quotes in that he clearly doesn't understand the meaning of.

Like, he literally does not grasp the difference between "liberty" as a general concept and "limited autonomy within the context of making medical decisions." The former is a whole lot more broad than the latter, even if I were to accept that "liberty" and "autonomy" are the same thing -which they're not, but the semantic argument is another conversation for another day. To say that teenagers should have "some autonomy within a limited context" is not to say that "teenagers should have carte balance liberty to do anything they please."

The other problem with CONs entire case is that he's talking about teens being able to make medical decisions for themselves as if that somehow means that anything the parent thinks is to be thrown out with careless disregard. That is not the case. To say that an adolescent should be able to decide medical things for themselves is not to entirely remove the parent from the medical decision making process. It means, rather, that even though the parent(s) may still have influence in that process, the person who is actually going to be subject to the decision that's made (read: the adolescent) is going to be the one who makes that call. Perhaps CON doesn't get this because his pre-frontal cortex isn't sufficiently developed, so he's not capable of understanding the relevant stakes in place here... like, maybe he lied about being 25. (I kid... I kid... sort of.)
Debate Round No. 3
kasmic

Con

Final Rebuttals:

1: “Decisionally”

Pro is right this is awkward. Merriam-Webster, dictionary.com, the Free dictionary, Webster, Oxford, and Cambridge dictionaries represent the top 6 online dictionaries. Not one of them recognize “Decisionally” as a word. (1,2,3,4,5,6) In fact his own source from Stanford.edu does not use the word “decisionally” once….. Awkward!!!!

Pro says “This is sort of awkward, because we are now at the second occasion in this debate where my opponent's incapacity to "google" stuff has produced generally unfavorable results on his own end.”

Apparently pro feels that if you can google something on the internet… it is reliable. “This is silly…”

2: Straw man

pro says “I think another thing CON doesn't understand is how decision making works... as if medical decisions are somehow "over and above" other kinds of decisions.”

This is an expertly executed straw man, Pro starts off saying “I think…. CON doesn’t understand how decision making works.” Then he places the straw man in my argument saying “as if medical decisions are somehow “over and above” other kinds of decisions.”

He even put over and above in quotes, as if I had said that. I never did.

The real geniuses of it come right after when he says “which is silly.” Pro has made an appeal to ridicule on a straw man argument that I did not make. Very clever.... and dispicable.

Pro continues with condescending ad hominem attacks saying “The problem is that he doesn't understand how logic works...”

It seems pro is relying on a combination of fallacies in this debate.

3: Finally Pro’s actually rebuttals:

Pro says “What he has failed, demonstrably, to do is show how(1) prefrontal cortex development to an adult level is necessary to make medical decisions.”

Evidence provided in this debate has shown that underdevelopment of the prefrontal cortex “in teen brains, the synapses that are supposed to connect the frontal lobe to the rest of the brain are not working as well as they should. As a result, teens can't access those skills based in the frontal lobe easily.” These skills were summed up earlier, however for convienence…

“Since the PFC controls intense emotions and impulses, it is sometimes referred to as the seat of good judgement. As such, a properly functioning prefrontal cortex inhibits inappropriate behaviors " including delaying gratification of needs, for things like food or sex " while encouraging wise, acceptable choices. In part, this occurs because it works to allow humans to balance immediate reward with long-term goals.”

This information also demonstrates “(2) that teen prefrontal cortex development -even if less than adults- is not "sufficient" to make medical decisions.”


Pro says “that restricting the medical decisions of teenagers only to adults violates adolescents' substantive rights.”

Another straw man…. I never said to restrict the medical decision of teens only to adults. I argued the status quo that teens should not have autonomy in such matters. This does not in any way remove teens from the decision making.

Pro then misrepresents the data with more appeal to ridicule saying “Even still, insofar as the pre-frontal cortex does not develop until around the mid-20s, his own logic should preclude even legal adults form making their own medical decisions which is (other than violating adult's substantive rights) fundamentally dumb.”

As I argued last round… the age of PFC maturity is 25. It is quite clear that adolescents on balance, do not have the mental capability to effectively think abstractly, or rationally, or "to balance immediate reward with long-term goals," due to this scientific truth. This lack of mental capability is generally accepted as a justifiable reason to not allow adolescents to make autonomous medical decisions.

More ad hom as pro says “So while CON can make silly pithy remarks like he did in the previous round, his logic is terribly weak. I said why it was weak above, but he just said that explaining the actual reasons that his argument was weak was an ad hom attack.... such disappoint.”

Pro can call may remarks “silly pithy or weak” all he wants. However, such observations are not qualitative or appropriate for debate.

Pro says “In a free and democratic society, it's not good enough to say that all and only those who are in the best position to make decisions get to make those decisions when that decisional power intrudes on another's right to autonomy.”

I do not know where Pro lives, but in the U.S. adolescents are denied autonomy. It is the reality. Also of note, such adolescents have more “autonomy” now then ever before in this country.

More ad hom as pro says “other than to put some irrelevant philosophical quotes in that he clearly doesn't understand the meaning of.”

Really, I am amazed at pro’s argumentation. So much Ad hom….

Ad hom continued…. Pro says “Like, he literally does not grasp the difference between "liberty" as a general concept and "limited autonomy within the context of making medical decisions."

Again, the definitions are synonymous… though my opponent seems reluctant to use a dictionary as shown earlier.

4: Reversing position!?

Pro says “To say that an adolescent should be able to decide medical things for themselves is not to entirely remove the parent from the medical decision making process. It means, rather, that even though the parent(s) may still have influence in that process, the person who is actually going to be subject to the decision that's made (read: the adolescent) is going to be the one who makes that call.”

For clarity I will submit the definition from round one for autonomous “existing or acting separately from other things or people”

Surely influence from parents negates a concept of autonomy. Interestingly enough Pro almost arrives to the conclusion I am arguing for…. That adolescents help make medical decisions, however, due to the nature of adolescents (a underdeveloped PFC) should not do so autonomously.

Pro ends with his final ad hom attack

“Perhaps CON doesn't get this because his pre-frontal cortex isn't sufficiently developed, so he's not capable of understanding the relevant stakes in place here... like, maybe he lied about being 25. (I kid... I kid... sort of.)”

How rude! I really am 25.

Closing Statement:

Reminder to Pro to waive last round per rules of acceptance.

Pro has relied on Ad hom and logical fallacies to make his case. Perhaps this has been done as pro cannot make a reasonable case is to be made to support the resolution.

I have been supremely disappointed. I was under the impression that my opponent was a well-respected, quality debater on this website. I was excited he wanted to debate me. In this debate however, he was very condescending, and his arguments full of insults. Color me disappointed.

The status quo supports my argument. Society on balance recognizes that adolescents are less capable of making rational decisions. Science supports such an understanding of an underdeveloped brain. As a result autonomy of minors is justly severely limited. Justice demands autonomy of those who are capable. Justice demands that such autonomy is not intended for those not yet able to govern themselves.

Due to what has become obvious in this debate, Adolescents ought NOT to have the right to make autonomous medical choices.

Vote Con!

sources:

(1) http://www.merriam-webster.com...
(2) http://dictionary.reference.com...
(3) http://www.thefreedictionary.com...
(4) http://www.webster-dictionary.org...
(5) http://www.oxforddictionaries.com...
(6) http://dictionary.cambridge.org...

YYW

Pro

It has been brought to my attention that my tone was demeaning. I apologize if my tone was overly condescending. The reason I made the joke in the last round about my opponent's prefrontal cortex is because it's literally the mirror of his own arguments, just turned on him. If you're offended by my joke, then you should also be offended by his entire case to the extent that a non-fully developed prefrontal cortex is a sufficient justification for denying people's autonomy. But, as per the structure of this debate I will not post arguments in this round.

Peace and Love,

YYW
Debate Round No. 4
72 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by kasmic 1 year ago
kasmic
Same topic, many fewer views. http://www.debate.org...

Based on this small sampling, it must be you.
Posted by YYW 1 year ago
YYW
I think in reality it was that this topic was an NFL debate topic after we debated it. I mean, I'm an important guy (lol, insert big ego joke here) but yeah
Posted by kasmic 1 year ago
kasmic
Most of my debates only get one, maybe two thousand. Seems you bring a large audience haha.
Posted by YYW 1 year ago
YYW
It was a really good debate... makes sense that it would be viewed so many times.
Posted by kasmic 1 year ago
kasmic
I was just reading through some of my old debates and was stunned to see this has been viewed many thousands of times.
Posted by YYW 2 years ago
YYW
Thanks for the vote, Whiteflame!
Posted by whiteflame 2 years ago
whiteflame
RFD (Pt. 1):

Despite how much was said here, there are really two points of contention in this debate. I'll spend some time going over how each played out, and then render my decision. Before I get into them, though, I'm just going to mention a few issues.

I don't know why Con kept arguing that "decisionally" isn't a word. Pro made it clear what he was arguing, it wouldn't matter to me if he made up a word and used it to represent his point. This just generally became a red herring, detracting from the debate and turning both debaters to attacking each other's mental capacities, even if they did so indirectly.
Speaking on that, I think Pro nearly crossed the line a couple of times into ToS violations. He gets close enough that this would suffice as a reason to afford Con conduct here. Though I appreciate the apology in the final round, he does take it too far too often, especially in R3.
The overuse of dismissal through fallacies is similarly problematic. I could have skipped everything Con said under "2: Straw Man" in the final round and basically have been in the same boat. I don't doubt that there were some fallacies, but I would have appreciated some direct responses, or at the very least, some explanations of what the actual arguments were, rather than simply pointing out the fallacies.

With that, onto the debate.

1. What the hell is autonomy?

I don't know why this is an issue, but it is one. What I learn in the final round is that we have two very different views of what autonomy is, and as a result, that the entire debate has played out with each side assuming that the definition was obvious and established. The fact that it was provided in R1 doesn't really change the fact that we have two very different interpretations.
Posted by whiteflame 2 years ago
whiteflame
(Pt. 2)

Pro argues throughout that autonomous means having the choice in their hands and their hands alone. That doesn't mean the choice isn't informed by others, but rather that the ultimate decision is solely theirs.

Con argues that intervention in a decision effectively destroys autonomy, viewing autonomy as both independently making and coming to a decision. As such, under his view, it is necessarily problematic for autonomy that a decision be informed by other people.

I can't really determine which of you is right based solely on the arguments provided. Con argues the latter, but only in the final round, and as Pro doesn't get a chance to respond and, thus, defend his perception, I can't simply accept it.

But I can analyze the resolution myself. The resolution states: "Adolescents ought to have the right to make autonomous medical choices." A choice can be in the mind or it can be presented to others. The latter situation is the part the debaters agree upon. If it's the former situation, though, I'm forced to accept one of two circumstances. Either we never make autonomous choices because we're always being informed by outside sources (we cannot and do not make choices in a vacuum), or autonomy is impossible to erase, since the choice can be made in the mind regardless of intervention. In either case, I accept Pro's views regarding the definition, and thus move onto the meat of the debate.
Posted by whiteflame 2 years ago
whiteflame
(Pt. 3)

2. How should we decide what is an appropriate age to be able to make autonomous medical choices?

This really comes down to a tension between one point made by each debater. Most of the points, particularly those regarding justice, are simply granted. I thus buy that allowing medical choices for adolescents, if they are reasonably capable of making those choices, is the only way to act justly. I would have liked to have seen some arguments from Con regarding justice as well, as I think there are reasonable points to make with regards to its effect on society at large. Nonetheless, I stay focused on the two points.

Pro argues for their decisional capacity, pointing out that they meet a decent standard for what should allow for such decisions to be placed into their hands based on two factors: 1) that currently, many adolescents are required to make much more complex decisions by the law and therefore that allowing this would result in more consistency, and 2) that studies have shown that the capacity of individuals to make decisions isn't altered demonstrably between the ages of adolescence and early adulthood.

Con argues against their capacity to make reasonable medical decisions based on one major factor: 1) that development of the prefrontal cortex is the major relevant factor in determining when someone has the abilities to regulate their behavior and thus make acceptable choices.

This could have been an interesting source of debate. I would actually have loved to see Con argue that autonomous medical decision-making should remain limited until the age of 25, but he seemed to shy away from taking that point, arguing that it's "a good topic for a separate debate." It actually would have been relevant, since Con still would have been able to argue that adolescents ought not have access to this right.
Posted by whiteflame 2 years ago
whiteflame
(Pt. 4)

As such, there isn't as much support for this as there should have been. Con throws a wrench into his own argument in R3, especially when he makes this argument:

"In spite of the PFC not being fully developed until 25, it is developing continuously. This means that we can conclude that the PFC of 18 year olds is more developed than that of a 14 year old. Ergo we can conclude that 18 year olds are more capable of capable of reasoned thinking, making choices between right and wrong, predicting outcomes, good judgment, regulating behavior, or inhibiting inappropriate behavior then those younger than them."

This is an odd delineation, and one Pro continuously attacks in R2 and R3. I can buy that development of the PFC is really important for making medical decisions. I don't know why I should make this delineation between 14 year olds and 18 year olds when a) Pro showed me that their decisional capacity is, essentially, the same and you're not giving me reasons why it's different except "development", b) the entire reason you're giving me for adolescents not being capable of making autonomous medical decisions is that their PFC isn't fully developed, which applies to 18-year-olds, and c) this makes it all the more difficult to determine at what point along the PFC development spectrum people suddenly become capable of making autonomous decisions (i.e. is it when they turn 18? Is there a special percentage developed at which this point is reached?).
8 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Vote Placed by whiteflame 2 years ago
whiteflame
kasmicYYW
Who won the debate:-Vote Checkmark
Reasons for voting decision: Given in comments.
Vote Placed by Danielle 2 years ago
Danielle
kasmicYYW
Who won the debate:-Vote Checkmark
Reasons for voting decision: My RFDs for good debates like this are always thorough, so I will post it in the comments section. Thanks for the invitation to read it ~ I truly enjoyed this debate.
Vote Placed by 16kadams 2 years ago
16kadams
kasmicYYW
Who won the debate:-Vote Checkmark
Reasons for voting decision: Con noted multiple physical reasons as to why adolescents cannot make medical choices. However, under his definition everyone under 26 should not make medical choices, which is absurd. He fails to prove how these developmental deficiencies should deprive adolescents of their rights to medical treatment. PRO empirically applied this: do these developmental differences matter? Although some differences were present between the two extreme age groups (9 and 21), there was no differences between the other age groups. Therefore, with the evidence presented, it seems as though these developmental differences have little real-world impact on society. CON failed to describe how these differences mattered, and PRO proved that they didn't matter really at all. Also Kasmic's font was a b!tch to read, is he trying to torture us? Evil satanist. YYW wins.
Vote Placed by dsjpk5 2 years ago
dsjpk5
kasmicYYW
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: I found Pro's claims to not be compelling. 1. Knowledge of Calculus is not a good barometer of being able to make competent medical decisions. 2. I don't believe teen mothers should be able to make decisions cor their babies. 3.Teens should not be charged as adults since they aren't mature enough to make adult decisions. On the other hand, I did find Con's arguments concerning the development of pre-frontal lobes in adolescents worthy of consideration.
Vote Placed by TheJuniorVarsityNovice 2 years ago
TheJuniorVarsityNovice
kasmicYYW
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: I have never seen a debate where one side calls 3 different logical fallacies multiple times against another opponent. I would recommend that perhaps Con only use those when they are important, and also con might want to cut down on the use of the phrase 'on balance' haha, you might also watch dismissive remarks (ROUND 3) . Despite these habits I ultimately chose con as the victor. Con has shown that teens are not fully mentally developed until 25 so why give them MED AUTO when we could remain in the SQ where teens can voice their opinion to their parent who then ultimately get the say. The fact is, that experience matter and ability to think also matters. I would have Pro know that calc (which I am in at 17) is very different from deciding if you want a c-section, or say an abortion. Finally, If we adopt Pro's policy of rewarding AUTO when mature, then would we not revoke it based on the same principle, and isn't that a violation of rights? I see no reason to change SQ, good round :P
Vote Placed by bsh1 2 years ago
bsh1
kasmicYYW
Who won the debate:-Vote Checkmark
Reasons for voting decision: The primary area of clash in this debate was whether a lack of prefrontal cortical development was sufficient to demonstrate that a teenager should not be permitted to make autonomous medical choices. Frankly, while I agree with Con that the adolescent brain is less developed and mature than the adult brain, I think Pro showed that it was "mature enough" to make those kinds of decisions. Pro's framing of the BOP in Round 1 was key--he does not need to show that all adolescents should have this right; merely, he must show that "affirming this resolution requires only a denial of the status quo in which adolescents are generally presumed incompetent to make medical decisions on their own behalf." Given this, Pro persuades me that, generally speaking, adolescents can make these kinds of choices, and that the law, through its own contradictions, seems to recognize this as well. Both sides were rude in this debate. [Disclosure: Pro asked me to Vote. I am only online for that reason.]
Vote Placed by Mikal 2 years ago
Mikal
kasmicYYW
Who won the debate:-Vote Checkmark
Reasons for voting decision: I think some of pros main points were dropped. I think the debate hinged on Pros sources vs cons pre frontal argument. Pro was able to sufficiently show that based on cons reasoning even adults that lacked the ability to develop fall under his own criteria and would not be able to make decisions based on said criteria. Pros was able to establish enough viable means to show that adolescents are capable of making their own medical choices, which fell flat with some of cons rebuttals. Basically I think con failed to show how his own criteria was essential for making medical decisions, and even if it were hinted at and even if it were established it would fall into a slippery slope. Which it never go that far as pro was able to demonstrate effectively that adolescents could make their own medical choices.
Vote Placed by Wylted 2 years ago
Wylted
kasmicYYW
Who won the debate:-Vote Checkmark
Reasons for voting decision: Pro's arguments on justice went ignored and think they could've been overcome but I'll keep my opinion how to myself. Pro was somewhat of a dik in round 3 and if this was 7 point voting, I'd award conduct to con but since it's not I have to determine whether it's sufficient enough for pro to lose, and it's not The rebuttals to the prefrontal cortex largely ignored as well. Con needed to show that an underdeveloped prefrontal cortex was insufficient for good decision making and since the prefrontal cortex isn't completely developed until 25, he needed to make a strong enough case to show that 24 year olds should also not be allowed to make autonomous medical decisions. Con, in the future have a more intact philosophy to apply to your case. It was kinda scattered. I'd also suggest refraining from rebuttals in your opening round as it allows your opponent more characters to make his case tn you have.