This debate is for bsh1's May Round Robin Tournament between myself and ShabShoral.
A just government ought to legalize the recreational use of drugs.
Drug - a medicine or other substance which has a physiological effect when ingested or otherwise introduced into the body.
Legalization - permitted by law.
1. BOP is on Pro. As the affirmative, he will begin arguing in Round 1 and will waive the last round.
2. Alcohol is exempt from this resolution.
3. No trolling/semantics/kritiks.
4. Voting is on arguments only.
5. Maintain a civil atmosphere.
Looking forward to an exciting debate.
To determine what a just government ought to do, one must determine what “justness” means in general. It is fair to say that that which is just is the good, and that which is the unjust is the bad. If the good is that which is to be pursued by any moral man, then the bad is that which is to be avoided. Therefore, a just government must always be sought after, and an unjust government must always be avoided.
Things are either pursued for their own sakes or for the sakes of things outside themselves. If a thing is merely a tool used to obtain another value, it is plain to see that that final end is greater than the stepping stone. In horseracing, putting on a saddle is not an end in itself – the saddle is put on in order for the jockey to ride the horse, the horse is ridden so the jockey can win the prize, the prize is won so the jockey can buy things, etc., until an end in itself is reached, that thing being the highest value possible (for if it were not, it would not be sought for its own sake instead of the sake of something greater than itself).
If this end in itself is that which is always pursued, then it is the chief good, and good actions are those which aim to obtain or maintain it. Likewise, the bad is that which moves one further away from the ultimate good. Therefore, if this ultimate good is identified, proper action will be illuminated.
The greatest good must be valued. But what are the prerequisites of value? It is nonsensical to think of a rock as having values, and, in the same way, a corpse cannot value anything. For something to be valued, there must exist a valuer, as without this there would be no entity to do the valuing. The chief good, then, if it is valuable, is logically dependent on the life of a valuer – it cannot exist without one. If the valuer was erased, so would any values, including this standard of value. If this is so, then the only rational end in itself would be the life of the individual qua man, since, without the protection of this thing, nothing else can be worthwhile (making it the primary concern which precedes all others).
If such a life is the ultimate value, then, as established earlier, that which advances it is the good and that which destroys it is the bad. It is obvious that values must be chosen – a man being carried away in a tornado does not “value” the direction he’s headed, since he did not make the choice to go that way. He did not have any input on the course of his life, including what he would work towards and value. If this is so, it seems that the standard of value, the life of a self, is also dependent on freedom for any values to exist (you cannot negate the source of all values without contradicting yourself – the very act of the negation implicitly houses the value judgement that you thought it was the right thing to do, which is impossible if you are destroying value judgements in general). Given this, autonomy needs to be preserved by any just actor.
With autonomy as an immutable right, we can now examine the issue of drug legalization. No matter what the effects of recreational drugs are, denying the right of individuals to use them is to deny the right to choose for themselves – you would be subjugating them to your whim and your edicts, making them slaves to your moral code, a moral code that negates itself by destroying the very thing that it requires to remain coherent. If you cannot logically hold that what you are doing is just while negating the concept of “justness”, then such force can, logically, never be just, and is immoral absolutely, regardless of circumstances. The conclusion of the abolition of force is that the abstract use of drugs, devoid of context, cannot be justly banned. For my opponent to win this debate, he has to show that it is right to initiate force in order to put mens’ minds and bodies in shackles for any reason.
On to Con!
My opponent's argument follows these steps:
P1: Autonomy should be valued
P2: Legalizing drugs expands autonomy
C: Drugs should be legalized
In my case, I will demonstrate why I believe this syllogism to be incorrect.
= Freedom =
In a just government, a good and virtuous society is desired. The state wishes to create a community that is moral and respective as to not infringe on others' freedoms. However, if the government wants a moral society, it cannot grant its people such rights that destroy the good that could be exist which would make a society moral. What is good is pursued as what is just, and what is bad is unjust.
The issue with my opponent's case is that it has no concern for what people actually choose. It assumes that the ability to use their agency extensively is what constitutes a moral society, since that is the good that a just government seeks. In reality, human nature is flawed, and freedom is frequently used badly. By giving people more of the ability to choose, we living indifferent to virtue. Since virtue is a moral good that is essential to a valued society, then a just government ought to esteem virtue as the ultimate value, not agency. Freedom comes into conflict with virtue, and when a moral society is valued, then virtue is what should be esteemed over agency.
This is not to say that agency should never be esteemed as a value. It is important to individual freedoms, but it is often limited in order to make room for the freedom to enjoy a moral society. Certain laws exist to prohibit crime because the government values a virtuous society, not one in which injustices are committed such as theft and murder. If we want to establish a society with fewer injustices, it is in the government's best interest to not legalize the use of drugs for the purpose of preventing immoral uses of them. By granting certain freedoms to people, they are granted the ability to abuse their freedoms and be a detriment to the community, which contradicts a moral society.
= Autonomy =
My opponent states, "denying the right of individuals to use them is to deny the right to choose for themselves". This is the main idea of the case of the Pro side, but it is missing a crucial piece of information: government prohibition does not restrict one's right to choose. It simply sets consequences for choosing in a certain way. If drugs are illegal, that doesn't mean that an individual is barred the right to use them, it means that to do so would inflict a degree of punishment upon them. This is true for all laws. Everyone has the capability to commit crime, and their freedom to choose to do it is never barred. They have always had that agency, but if they were to use it in an immoral way, thus hurting society, then consequences are set upon them to balance the scale of justice and to undo the damage that was inflicted.
One reason that a just government exists is to influence human behavior. Obviously the consequences of the laws set on certain offenses deter crime, and without it there would be anarchy. If state laws were never enforced, and certain actions never made illegal, then more people would abuse their agency and would commit crime. The existence of these punishments keep some crimes at bay, and the same logic can be applied to drug legalization.
= Society =
My opponent and I should agree that drugs are harmful, intoxicating, and hurtful to one's health. For recreational purposes only, one cannot see how drugs could possibly help society and bring some kind of benefit. Pro's argument isn't that it does bring a benefit, but rather that its ability to be used is an affirmative reason to legalize its use. After all, it's agency, right? Well, as I've stated before, this agency can and will be used detrimentally. No good can come of it, but only bad. People can become intoxicated by drugs and can do things to hurt others or themselves while under the influence of it. When this happens, they lose their ability to choose. They are carried off in a tornado and cannot "value" the direction they are moving.
Such is true of car accidents when one is under the influence of drugs. Perhaps one may be hurting him or herself, but there's no standard for determining whether they are doing so out of their own free will. They may be harming themselves without the ability to control it. Or maybe they injure others without their consent. These possibilities alone entirely negate the agency argument, because agency could be abused in such a manner where it no longer can be used. If my opponent is arguing for the entire legalization of drugs based on the principle of freedom alone, then it cannot hold up.
In sum, a just government ought not to legalize drugs for the welfare of its people. Agency isn't abused, but still exists for all aspects of choice regardless of consequences. A virtuous society is one in which moral choices are allowed to be made to the extent that it does not cause a net harm to the community.
I sincerely apoligize to my opponent - I thought I had more time than I really did to write out my case. Instead of putting out a half-acceptable round, I'm going to ask that all voters vote in his favour and I forfeit the debate.
Vote Con I guess.
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