The Instigator
tommylibertarian1
Pro (for)
The Contender
LordDeclan
Con (against)

Government is immoral

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Debate Round Forfeited
LordDeclan has forfeited round #3.
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/27/2016 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 628 times Debate No: 98473
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (7)
Votes (0)

 

tommylibertarian1

Pro

Round 1 is acceptance only
Round 2 is for argument
Round 3 is for rebuttal
Round 4 is for conclusions

Thanks and good luck!
LordDeclan

Con

I will be very happy to debate this topic with you, thanks for the opportunity!
I hope that this debate will be constructive, and that we will both learn something valuable.
I wish you the best of luck. May the best debater win.
Debate Round No. 1
tommylibertarian1

Pro

Is government moral? To answer that question requires us to look at what is government and morality. Government can be defined as an organization that maintains a monopoly on force in a fixed geographic area. In actual practice that means a group of humans that rules over other humans, ruling meaning to exercise the initiation of force or threats of force for social control or order.

But, what is morality? Morality is principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior. So, what constitutes good or bad behavior or right or wrong? I argue here that the initiation of physical force or threats of physical force constitute bad behavior. When in kindergarten or as a child we learned this concept. We were taught that hitting people and taking their stuff is wrong because it violates the rights and liberty of another and leads to bad outcomes. We were never taught that there is an exception if I work for government. The very definition of government in that it imitates force or threats of force to attempt to create social order and utilitarian outcomes is the reason it lacks morality. The most obvious example of this is how governments amass resources though taxation or forceful confiscation of property from those it rules over.

Some may argue that a social contract exists, but there are problems with the idea of the social contract. One is that it is an invalid form of contract as others though perhaps in most modern nations contract on behalf of others who disagree though democratic or republican means(the concepts of governments, not the political parties). This doesn't follow as one cannot enter into contracts for another without some other consent involved. I can't buy a house and make you pay for it.

The idea of the social contract misunderstands the nature of political power. The state is not a voluntary association or club as its hallmark is the use of force or threats of force for compliance. There is also no methodology to withdraw consent from governments all together in a society as it is now. This lack of a true voluntary interaction is another hallmark of the immorality of the state.

One may argue that government is necessary for a functioning world. This is argued despite the fact that most human interactions require voluntary cooperation and force is damaging to those relationships. There is no evidence that a lack of a state would create poor outcomes. The only poor outcomes would be a disorderly establishment of the state after its long stood existence. A practical transition to voluntary associations and societies would have to take place.

If a peaceful person condemns all aggressive wars by one country against another, he is understood and applauded by the overwhelming majority of the people. But, when the same peaceful person condemns all aggressive actions by the state against its own citizens, he or she is misunderstood and repudiated by almost all of his fellow citizens. Why is this? Why does the person recognize one forceful action as being immoral but not the other? It is conditioning to accept what the state does as just and right without question or is something else at play?

The fact is it is a well understood fundamental tenet of any system of morality that no person has a moral right to initiate coercive action against another person. Given that government is immoral.

I would ask con to consider the following:
1) Why does the right to initiate force exist for the state and not individual citizens?

2) Wouldn't the ability to use force legitimately mean that the state has a higher claim over an individual that that individual does?

3) Have humans ever has a natural right to initiate force against other humans?

4) If, how how does one delegate a right one does not have?

I hold that if one honestly answers those questions you can only come to the consensus that governments are immoral.
LordDeclan

Con

Firstly I would like to congratulate Pro on a very well thought-out and convincing argument.

Pro has given me a list of questions, however I feel that it is more appropriate to answer these in Round 3, as rebuttals rather than my own argument. Please note that any capitalisation I use in this debate is strictly for emphasis and does not represent anger, shouting, sarcasm or anything of the sort.

I would argue that government is not inherently immoral, though of course I am not stating that all government is moral. My first point is that government is a system that can be used to significantly help the populace of a given nation. It allows for greater efficiency, allowing pooled resources to be accrued and easily channelled into the most important uses. To expect the people to do this alone is folly; the amount of time and effort it would take them to collaborate in such a manner would lead to ineffective implementation and general inefficiency in the system. I would ask Pro how he expects anything to get properly done on a State level without SOME FORM of government. I would say that assisting the people in having a more efficient society would create a better life for them and is therefore completely moral.

I would also point out that the redistribution of wealth is often viewed as immoral, however I do not agree. I will elaborate on this in the rebuttals round.

I would also argue that government is moral because it is implemented by the will of the people. It is an INCREDIBLE minority of people who have advocated the complete removal of government; the will of these anarchist groups should not overcome the vast majority of people who support a government. The fact that the people being governed support having a government makes it legitimate and moral; to remove all government would in fact be an infringement on the will of the people and thereby immoral. Democratic government is even more legitimate, and therefore more moral, as the people directly choose to be governed, choose who they are governed by, and choose how they personally are represented in that system of government.

Finally; government can be seen in every species to ever exist throughout history. Naturally, all creatures are inclined to create a system of superiors and inferiors. This would suggest that there is some quality to government which provides a distinct survival and development advantage. To take this advantage away from people, forcing them to become more isolated and independent, would be completely immoral. People are meant to work together; we intrinsically make bonds with other human beings. To force people to live in a society where there are no opportunities to do so, because it would be too inefficient, is utterly immoral. Government is moral because it is inherently wanted, and thus taking it away is immoral, in fact, it's theft.

I eagerly await Pro's next argument and wish him the best of luck.
Debate Round No. 2
tommylibertarian1

Pro

I would like to thank my opponent for their commitment to following the outline agreed upon for this debate and their kind words.

Con begins by citing a typical utilitarian argument for government in that it is designed to help the people of a given territory and by extension I will assume con means that can create the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people in that territory. I admit that governments can produce outcomes that are many times helpful to populations. Government solutions may not and in fact, most times I would argue are not the most efficient ways to produce good outcomes but that decent outcomes can come from them. One example would be the National Health Service(NHS) in the United Kingdom. A totally government run health care system. The NHS functions fine, the UK does not have rampant death and disease and people generally have access to health care. However, that doesn't justify the use of force or threats of force to accomplish that goal when there could be more ethical alternatives.

The central question of this debate is not whether or not government can deliver solutions that help society but rather whether they are delivered in a moral and just manner.

Con argues that wealth redistribution is moral and just. I would ask Con, If I steal $100 out of you wallet or purse to give to my friend to feed his family, is my theft of your property justified? Furthermore, what if hire someone to commit that theft for me, is that justified?

A government is essentially the hired thief. Fredric Bastiat said "The state is that great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else." I would like con to explain how a society in which we are a constantly taking the property of others is moral or just when all conventions of morality that we know of tell us theft and use of force or threats of force for purposes other than self defense is immoral.

Con argues that government is moral because it is the will of the people. I previously made a solid refutation to social contract theory in the previous round but let me address Con's specific points here. First, we must understand that not all governments are necessarily government based on what the people likely actually want. We can point to North Korea, Afghanistan when under the Taliban, possibly Iran, Cuba, and many other dictatorial states. If Con wishes to point to the fact that the people don't revolt as evidence of consent to be governed in those places, I would argue that insurrections would be easily quelled by those totalitarian governments.

Con argues that removing government would infringe upon rights of those who wish to be governed. However, in a state of being where all human associations are voluntary and free from force people could easily form private associations that are voluntary for mutual aid or self governance. It is important to not the difference between governance and government, governance being systems of organized people and societies that don't necessarily involve force. There are many theories on how to have governance without government but that is not the topic of this debate.

Con attempts to defend democratic systems as being legitimate while not addressing the inherent nature of democracy or to a more limited in scope sense republican forms of government that have democratic features(like the United States). Is immoral as it entails that the mere plurality or majority of voters(depending on your voting system) will use violent force or threats of force to impose their will or ideas on the remainder of the population who didn't support them. In a stateless society people will have voluntary associations or individual choices and relationships would not be based on force.

An argument that governments exist in every species known to ever exist is lacking an understanding of exactly what government is. Species that are social in nature have developed systems of organization but one would not necessarily call them governments without investigation and data. We must remember that the defining nature of government is the ability to use the initiation of force. That is what makes government immoral. George Washington famously said "Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force..." The US founders attempted in a crude and arguable unsuccessful way to create a system of government that avoided the pitfalls of purely democratic systems. They understood that government was force and in my view erroneously thought they could attempt to limit that power.

Con states at the end of the argument, "People are meant to work together; we intrinsically make bonds with other human beings. To force people to live in a society where there are no opportunities to do so, because it would be too inefficient, is utterly immoral." I would agree that human are social beings and that they seek bonds with each other to create meaningful relationships and organizations for survival benefit. However, does Con really believe that people want those relationships among people forceful and not voluntary interactions? Government being inefficient is not the argument for the state's immorality. It is simply a side effect of how governments operate and is a separate issue. Con finishes by state that government is moral because it is wanted. That brings the question that if government's programs and ideas are desired by the greater marketplace of society why must they be implemented using violent force? Good ideas should not require force.

I look forward to Con's answers to my previous questions and thank my opponent for their time.
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Debate Round No. 3
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Debate Round No. 4
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by LordDeclan 1 year ago
LordDeclan
Sorry I have been busy with family over New Year. As I've been playing Devil's Advocate anyway I'd be happy to concede the debate to Pro if need be.
Posted by vi_spex 1 year ago
vi_spex
governmental
Posted by tommylibertarian1 1 year ago
tommylibertarian1
LordDeclan, I didn't see your definitions until now. See my argument. I have no problem with those but I used a more easily palatable definition for morality. However, it should be noted that the defining characteristic of government or political action is the ability to use force.
Posted by tommylibertarian1 1 year ago
tommylibertarian1
Crap! I noticed a typo after I posted. Social contract is not a valid form of contract
Posted by LordDeclan 1 year ago
LordDeclan
I apologise for failing to establish definitions in my acceptance. Which of the following do you feel are appropriate?

immoral Translate Button
[ih-mawr-uh l, ih-mor-]
adjective
1.
violating moral principles; not conforming to the patterns of conduct usually accepted or established as consistent with principles of personal and social ethics.
2.
licentious or lascivious.

(From Dictionary.com)

government Translate Button
[guhv-ern-muh nt, R08;er-muh nt]
noun
1.
the political direction and control exercised over the actions of the members, citizens, or inhabitants of communities, societies, and states; direction of the affairs of a state, community, etc.; political administration:
Government is necessary to the existence of civilized society.
2.
the form or system of rule by which a state, community, etc., is governed:
monarchical government; episcopal government.

noun
3.
the governing body of persons in a state, community, etc.; administration.
4.
a branch or service of the supreme authority of a state or nation, taken as representing the whole:
a dam built by the government.

(Also from Dictionary.com)
Posted by tommylibertarian1 1 year ago
tommylibertarian1
EXOPrimal the nature and concept the state itself is immoral generally.
Posted by EXOPrimal 1 year ago
EXOPrimal
Do you mean that a certain government is immortal, or that government itself is immortal?
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