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

Individual's have a moral obligation to assist people in need

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/29/2011 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 15,607 times Debate No: 18987
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (9)
Votes (1)




"Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world."

It is because I agree with the words of Howard Zinn that I stand Resolved: Individuals have a moral obligation to assist people in need. Before we begin I would like to offer the following definitions:

Moral obligation - A duty which one owes, and which one ought to perform (Law Dictionary)

Assist - a play that helps to put out a batter or base runner. (Merriam Webster Dictionary)

Or An act of help, typically by providing money

Need - A condition requiring relief.

The highest value of today's round is that of Human Dignity which is defined as the inherent worth of individuals that exists a priori, that is, exists independent of circumstances. Affirming Human Dignity means affirming the worth of individuals not because of what they do but because of their humanity. The criterion for the round is egalitarianism which is the belief that human worth is equal amongst all human beings. Egalitarianism the best criterion for the round because, while human dignity is a prerequisite of any other values and the foundation of a just society, egalitarianism is a prerequisite for human dignity, for once human dignity is not recognized as universal, it is then no longer inherent. I intend to show that the egalitarian ethic is exemplified in libertarian/socialist social structure, a structure that relies on a moral obligation to assist others.

Contention 1: Wealth inequality is inherently dehumanizing.

With the acknowledgment of equal human dignity, wealth inequality is an unacceptable form of dehumanization that places a value on an individual's worth to society. This lack of equality is not only an affront to egalitarianism and thus human dignity but also an affront to liberty, for equality is, rather than mutually exclusive as viewed by some, a necessary component of liberty. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of philosophy, "one can appreciate that having money gives one effective freedom to engage in a wide variety of activities and experiences. One has the option to purchase any of many commodities and do with them whatever is legally and conventionally allowed, up to the limit of one's budget. The ideal of equality of income and wealth is roughly the ideal that people should enjoy this effective freedom to the same extent." Inequality of income provides greater liberty to those with jobs supposedly more valuable to society. However, this belief has no basis in fact. Why should the street sweeper be said to deserve less income and thus less liberty than the banker or CEO? We should look to a world where professions are not chosen out of a drive for profit, a drive propagated by the notion that we are some how "worth more" by choosing a high class profession, and instead, look to a world where professions are done not based out of a desire for profit but a desire for meaning. This would not only be morally right but economically more efficient by allowing individuals to pursue career they find the most meaning from. Thus, Wealth equalization is a prerequisite to upholding egalitarianism and thus human dignity.

Contention 2: An egalitarian society can only exists through an obligation to assist those in need

By its very definition, need implies an inequality of condition. This inequality of condition, as has been stated, is unacceptable to a society that strives for the dignity of all members. The only way an ideal structure can be achieved is through the voluntary distribution of wealth exhibited in the communes. In this system of free association, individuals are free from not only the coercion of state control embodied in the Soviet Union but also free from the more subtle forms of social despotism found in capitalism. But this absolute freedom from coercion can only be achieved if from the bottom up, thus bypassing the state. Thus it is individuals and not the state that must act to end income inequality.


Referring to defining moral obligation. Defined as "A duty which one owes, and which one ought to perform (Law Dictionary)"

There is no "duty" in the world not even morally. That we owe to people. The homeless in America have every opportunity to better themselves. When it comes down to it all they have are excuses as to why they are in such a predicament. Some would argue that they suffer from addictions to drugs and alcohol that keep them from succeeding but again that's just an excuse and if they truly wanted to better themselves they would clean their act up. If someone is truly sincere about bettering themselves and show it to me, I would gladly help them but that isn't the case unfortunately with most people. I feel that the money and such should be given to better things such as children hospitals, cancer charities, ect.

Money would be better off some where else, other than in the pockets of a homeless man that "begs for food and water" when re they take those couple of dollars to a drug store (convenient store) and buy a pack of cigs with it. Or take to an alcohol store and buy some jack Daniels with it.

In conclusion, being morally obligated to help someone is complete bovine excrement. If you don't know for sure what you are doing to "help" that person "in need" than don't help them. It's simple, if you feel like you're just giving money to the homeless for them to buy drugs why should we be obligated to give them anything? We can put the cash to better and more giving events and charities that actually might help make a difference in the world. If homeless people want to get back on their feet then they are able to do it at anytime. They must be lethargic to not. Everyone has their own philosophy to different things. We shouldn't be put in the position to all have the same thing we need to oblige towards.
Debate Round No. 1


I will first just given a broad overview of my opponents case.

My opponent has demonstrated perfectly the dehumanization our social structure imposes on the poor. The poor are deemed "lazy" and "drug addicts" and it is simply accepted that they have somehow chosen to live in such a state. My opponent seems to disregard the impact of conditions of birth and the cycle of poverty. It is not a coincidence that children of the poor tend to be poor. It is not that this "choice" is inherited in families but, rather, because of the inherent disadvantage being born in poverty places on the individual. Freedom from violence and access to high quality education are powerful variables that make it nearly impossible for the poor to "raise themselves up from their boot straps."

My opponent has really only made one argument and that is that the poor and homeless are lazy and do not deserve or actually need assistance.

First, my opponents argument that we do not know if they are actually in need is moot because it is not what the resolution is asking us to evaluate. The resolution assumes a person is indeed in need and the question lies in whether we have a moral obligation to help people given that they are in need. We are not trying to determine whether we should help people who might be in need to whether we should help people who are in need.

Second, my opponent's entire case is just a series of claims without any warrants to back them up. He just repeats the claim that the homeless are lazy without providing any reason to believe this, and then categorizing all homeless people as drug addicts. In an economy where there are more people than jobs, it doesn't make any sense to say that the homeless can just choose to have a home.

My opponent also states that a homeless person can get back on their feet and the reason that they do not is because they are lethargic. So people starve to death, STARVE TO DEATH, because they don't feel like eating? I'll let the judges of this debate decide which is more plausible, that the homeless choose to starve because they are lazy or there are simply not enough jobs available.

My opponent has also failed to address my argument about how wealth inequality is dehumanizing. All he says is that people who are homeless are lazy but this fails to address the argument that wealth places a value on individuals and that we should be free to choose professions not out of a drive for profit but out of a longing to find meaning in work and to provide for society as a whole. He also doesn't address the argument that egalitarianism requires this moral obligation to others. As of now, I do not know if my opponent accepts the principle of egalitarianism or simply rejects that having such an obligation to other is necessary to uphold egalitarianism. Thus, this argument stands as well untouched.

My opponent has failed to meet his burden of clash by failing to respond to the arguments given. Thus, my opponent has failed to provide the con case enough ground to stand on in later rounds and therefore, Pro already wins the debate.


jackinthebox forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


Extend all my arguments through.


jackinthebox forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by valers 6 years ago
Interesting debate! Yeah, I'm also doing this subject for my Speech and Debate class and I also have to make a pro and con debate about it. It's really really hard.
Posted by mylescoen12 6 years ago
Wow that's gonna be tough switching from alturism to objectivism mindset between rounds!lol The aff I'm using now I wouldn't actually use in rounds b/c my district' s judging pool is really conservative! I would probably do something similar to yours. I might run virtue ethics on the neg basically saying morale obligations can only be dedermined on the personal level. I like your cases both of your cases.
Posted by Mr.wigggles 6 years ago
oh no, i just have to do a neg, and an afft for my debate class. My afft is the complete oppiste. here ill post part of it. ...
Americans are blessed with great plenty; we are a generous people and we have a moral obligation to assist those who are suffering from poverty, disease, war and famine.
quote by Adam Schiff.
I agree with Adam Schiff in this quote that people have a moral obligation to assist those who are in need, that need to be saved from poverty, disease, hunger, and war. Individuals that have the power and ability to assist those in need, have the responsibility and obligation to do so. That is why I agree and affirm the resolved- that Individuals have the moral obligation to assist those in need.

My highest moral value for this debate will be that of Duty or Responsibility. Individuals are responsible to help those in need if able to do so. With the ability to assist come the responsibility of doing so. People have a obligation to assist others if they are able to.
My criterion for this debate will be that of, Altruism ethics, or simply altruism. This is defined by merriam webster as unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others. Altruism is the duty for a person to look out for others, and their well being. Altruism is the opposite of egoism, which is the selfishness of a person to not look out for others. To be ethical one most look upon an Altruism view point of helping others., rather than an egoistic view of looking after only oneself, and being selfish. Altruism connects to the resolved of individuals have the moral obligation to assist others because it refers to devoting or having a duty to look after, or assist, others, or those in need.
Posted by mylescoen12 6 years ago
Mr. Wigggles we should debate some time it would be an awesome debate! I mean, socialism versus Rand ??!!! Talk about an ideological battle!

On a side note, do you actually agree with Rand or are you just using her for a debate case?
Posted by mylescoen12 6 years ago
I personally believe that there are instances where we as individuals, being a part of humanity, have a moral obligation to assist. An example would be if an injured child was bleeding on the side of the road. I'm not necessarily saying this should be a legal obligation, but I do believe that refusing to help others in certain instances can incur moral culpability on the individual.
Posted by quantummechanics97 6 years ago
Man cares for nothing but one's self, (see my debate on self-sacrifice) therefore this debate is not valid.
Posted by Mr.wigggles 6 years ago
"Man—every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life."
Ayn rand's philosophy of Objectivism states that every man works for himself, and serves for only his own happiness and not for the happiness of others. To pursue his own self interest and for not the self interest of others.
My criterion for this debate will be that of self- interest of ones own happiness and Ethical egoism which is defined as-is the prescriptive doctrine that all persons ought to act from their own self-interest. By This states that in acting for ones self-interest is provides one happiness. We do not need to assist others, but only assist ourselves reach happiness. We do not have to be forced or have a duty to serve those in need because we are not obligated to help others but our selves. This does not mean that people CAN'T assist or help those in need, but that they are not required or enslaved to do so. Only by free-will and choice can they if one want to.
My Contention will be that of a capitalistic economy in which people work to achieve their own goals and happiness. This is the opposite of socialism, or communism in which everything is shared equally between one another. People that work, are rewarded, those that don't do not get rewarded. People are not responsible and have to help those in need, but those that do have the power to help, can if they desire.
According to ayn rand and her theory on Objectivism, and Ethical Egoism that individuals help themselves for their own self-interest for their own happiness. That people are not obligated to be enslaved into assist those in need. These belief are why I urge you to agree with my negative opinion of the resolved that Individuals do not have
Posted by Mr.wigggles 6 years ago
Individuals do not have a moral obligation to assist people in need.
No man can have a right to impose an unchosen obligation, an unrewarded duty or an involuntary servitude on another man. There can be no such thing as "the right to enslave."
-- Ayn Rand, "Man's Rights," The Virtue of Selfishness
I agree with Ayn Rand that individuals should not be imposed to obligated or responsible to serve another man unchoosenly, and in a sense acan be considered a form of enslavement. Individuals do not have a duty to assist and serve others, and nor those in need. That is why I negate the resolved that "individuals have a moral obligation to assist those in need." I believe that "individuals do NOT have a moral obligation to assist those in need.
I will give my interpretation of the resolved to understand my stance as the negative, by first defining key terms in the statement. . According to Merriam- Websters dictionary, obligation is defined as something one is bound to do : DUTY, RESPONSIBILITY . moral as conforming to a standard of right behavior, assist as to give usually supplementary support or aid to, to give support or aid. Assist according to Merriam Webster as to give aid or help., Service is a synonym of assist and is defined as an act of helpful activity; help; aid: to do someone a service.
My highest moral value for this debate will be that of Objectivism (Ayn Rand)
"Man—every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life."
Posted by tvellalott 6 years ago
Might take this.


Probably not. :P
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by SkepticsAskHere 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: con forfeits