The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

Government of any kind is immoral

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/18/2015 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 431 times Debate No: 70270
Debate Rounds (3)
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Governments of some type have ruled over mankind for most of existence but are governments moral institutions?
Definitions(debatable) :
Morality: Principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior that are agreed upon generally by society.
Government: An accepted monopoly on the use of force within a specific geographical area.

My argument is one from the principle of non-aggression, that is that it is immoral to initiate force against another person or group of people no matter what the intended result is. As a child, you learned that theft is wrong and that assault(hitting) is wrong, so why is it okay for a government to do these things? Society should be based on voluntary associations, any association with governments are involuntary.

This is just a summary of my argument and I anticipate covering other territory such as social contract theory. I look forward to the discussion.


Tommy B12, it is an honor. The one point of clarification I would make is that there are other institutions which can exercise differing levels of force on their members, thus dispelling the definition that government is a monopoly of force. I will give you the chance to redefine that definition at the start of the argument. Thank you, shall we begin?
Debate Round No. 1


Perhaps force is not the correct word depending on how you define it. The concept that makes government immoral is its initiation of force. Force in and of itself used for such things as self defense is no all bad. My argument was not that government is just a monopoly on the use of or initiation of force but that is is an accepted or legitimized one. Force can be used by private actors but if is is not in self defense it is generally looked at as not desirable. However, when governments engage in the initiation of force it is somehow looked at as acceptable. If I were to break into your house and steal from your wallet, that would be wrong, however if I work for the IRS and take money forcibly from your paycheck or force you to write a check to me pending increasing violent punishment it is not wrong. How do you address this contradiction?


George Washington once said, "Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master." I will begin by agreeing with you, as George Washington did, that government is, in fact, force.

However, I would bring up the origin of government. All just or "moral" governments are created by a number of people consenting to surrender some of their unalienable rights (or portions of those rights) to an entity with greater capacity to protect those rights. The Declaration of Independence says it well:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed"

This leads to the "contradiction" called to attention in a previous argument. You stated that taking money from another person without their consent is wrong. Likewise, that a government forcibly taxing its citizens is wrong. Now I would ask, does the government not have the consent of the governed? Are you restricted and forced to live in a specific place or to always pay these taxes? You are not. Indeed, you give your consent and restrict your rights the moment to drive on a public road, the moment a peace officer protects you from harm, or the moment you receive any other benefit paid for by the taxes of citizens. Any person willing to forgo the comforts of life under a government may leave the bounds of that government. A person in a remote, uninhabited jungle will have neither a government to pay or a government to protect them. But in imagining a world without those comforts, most come to the conclusion that a government is necessary (especially a world outside of a jungle, where you interact with other people).

This leads me to address a final question; where does the right to use force come from? If a government takes its power from those it governs, why can it exercise force on individuals, while a citizen does not have that right? It is simple. Each person has the right to not be forced to do something. This is a right which they may surrender if they see fit. In creating a government, the governed not only consent to surrender their rights for protection, but also some of their liberty for security. People realize that a government requires funding, and a way to force obedience. Indeed, people are very willing to surrender some freedom to a government which requires those freedoms in order to operate.

I believe that government is the most effective way to ensure all people are protected from each other. I believe that force is the only way this can come about, and that a government truly gains the right to use force from those it governs with their consent. Thank you, and I solicit a Con ballot.
Debate Round No. 2


Social Contract theory has a few problems. I will address some of them here. As for the effectiveness of government as a protector, that is another conversation. Governments in a way can be effective at some things in terms of creating order in society. To the extent they are effective, is debatable. The question however, is the morality of government not its efficacy.

As for the social contract here are some things to consider:

Assumptions of the social contract and refutations:

1) There is a social contract: Citizens, by joining a society, consented to some set of common rules, so they are morally bound to obey them.

This first point of the social contract is fictional. There are no historically instances in which all people in a geographical area gave affirmative consent to a state. These concepts exist mostly in the writings and heads of theorists. After the beginning of a society citizens don't choose their states. They are born somewhere and are bound by rules they did not actively agree to.

Also, if life in the state of nature is nasty, brutish and short(as Hobbes argued), then in what sense can I be said to have consented to its alternative? If I'm drowning in the sea, and you offer me a 'contract' to allow me onto your boat, that contract is made under duress.

2) Do citizens consent to the social contract by voting?
Aside from the fact that many states(governments) are not democracies(or representative republics), voting is generally optional in which case many citizens(more than half in the USA) do not give consent by voting as they don't participate. Can citizens who vote for the losing candidate in the election be said to be consenting to their rule when they did not support the eventual ruler?

3) Well..if you don't like a country you can leave like Socrates argued.

Choosing between two violent or immoral alternatives is not the same as being free to choose. If a woman is told by her parents that she has to choose between two men, but has to marry one of them can it be said that she is choosing marriage? The only way to know if people are making a free choice in favor of governments is if they have the choice not to choose a government which is feasibly impossible in modern society.

4) You argued that citizens consent to the social contract by receiving government services (welfare, public highways, police protection)

If a slave accepts a meal from his master is he or she not still a slave? In many cases, because I have no choice but to live under a government(see above) and because government restricts or eliminates competition in areas(such as roads, schools-restricted I know there are private schools, and the military). Also because the state forcibly takes my resources(taxation) and converts them to services(many of which one may disagree with) and I have to take those services does not mean I consent to them.

Given the brutal nature of the social contract and that it is not really a contract at all and is inescapable I would argue that force is initiated upon one and that initiation of force is immoral. That makes government as we know it immoral in behavior. Having institutions that are voluntary to help organize and guide society are always going to be needed. The problem with the state is that the relationship is NOT voluntary. It is the involuntary use of initiatory force without express consent that makes the state immoral thus one should vote for pro in this debate.


I feel that amid all the rhetoric and philosophy which surrounds this issue, there is really only one argument. You addressed this in your fourth point; that citizens give their consent by the services rendered, or that they do not. It is the heart of the argument, because the debate is centering around the right to use force being derived from the governed.

Anyone who's anyone knows that a government cannot function without funding. As people subject themselves to a government, they submit to pay for their protection. Just like insurance, but much more practical as it can use force to implement law.

I feel as though my competitor has been very blind in his views and statements, and has not really looked past his biases. I thank him and the judges for their time, and hold that governments of at least SOME kinds (where they derive their power and force from the governed) can be absolutely moral. I feel as though the burden of proof has weighed against him, and I plead for the votes of those judging. Thank you.
Debate Round No. 3
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1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by CASmnl42 1 year ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Both sides had good conduct and were reasonably grammatical. Neither side used sources. Comes down to arguments. Both raised good points, but Con's were better reasoned. Pro introduced an inconsistency by implicitly conceding that life with gov't was preferable to life without gov't (ie, the state of nature) - if one accepts the social contract under "duress" because the alternative is so much worse, it seems that Pro doesn't really have much to complain about. I'd also note that Pro never established his premise that the initiation of force is always wrong.