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

It is morally permissible for victims to use deadly force as a deliberate response to repeated domes

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/1/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 10,405 times Debate No: 20147
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (8)
Votes (2)




This debate will be in LD format. I'm arguing this at a tournament Jan 6th, so I need the practice with this topic, and I need to edit my case and make blocks. Please accept this only if you can do LD format. First round is my NEG case and your crossex/your AFF case. Second round is my answers/crossex for you and your answers. Third round is rebuttals. Fourth round is conclusion. Also, if you want to see any of my evidence please post a comment and I'll give it to you. I just don't want to post every single source right now.

Resolved: It is morally permissible for victims to use deadly force as a deliberate response to repeated domestic violence.

Here is my case:

Deadly Force:
Deadly force, according to the US Armed Forces, is force which a person knows is substantially likely to result in death.

someone or something which has been hurt, damaged or killed or has suffered, either because of the actions of someone or something else, or because of illness or chance

repeated domestic violence:
"Domestic violence is a pattern of interaction that includes the use of physical violence, coercion, intimidation, isolation, and/or emotional, economic, or sexual abuse by one intimate partner to maintain power and control over the other intimate partner."

I value morality, which is defined as "those qualities of mankind that concern their living together in peace and unity," by Thomas Hobbes. (1)

My value criterion is respect for human life, by which morality is achieved because with respect for life comes peace and unity between humans, at least on the most basic level of not killing each other.

Contention 1:
Alternatives exist, therefore the victim would be violating the respect of human life to kill when alternatives exist. One alternative is to leave the attacker. Another is to use the law to your advantage. The police force exists to protect human life. This is the purpose of most laws, just as it is the purpose of domestic violence being illegal, as Carolyn Hoyle and Andrew Sanders explain, "another purpose is to enable the state to intervene, usually by prosecuting, in order to exact retribution, produce specific deterrence and, perhaps, 'treat' the offender, thereby reducing further offending in a more constructive way." (2)

When alternatives exist, killing becomes a morally impermissible option. These options are practical and available to victims. These alternatives also respect human life, which achieves morality.

Contention 2:
While abusers may violate the social contract, they only violate it in a way that allows the victim to respond by violating the same rights that the abuser violated. Since the abuser has obviously not violated the victim's right to life, the victim does not have the right to kill the abuser. As Sarah Aiken explains, "Aristotle conceives of punishment in purely restorative terms, where just punishments take only the amount of good from the offending agent in proportion with the original good that agent took unfairly. Ideally, no agent is meant to be any worse off than he or she was prior to the unjust interaction once the system of justice has inflicted the appropriate punishment." (3) If the victim is to kill the perpetrator, then the perpetrator is then far worse off than before the exchange because the perpetrator is then dead. The victim cannot do any more harm than was done to them, and it still be considered morally permissible. This is also explained by Benjamin Yost in his redefining of Kant's views, "according to proportional retribution, punishment is just when the harm caused by the punishment is no less, and no more, severe than the harm caused by the crime." (4) The right to human life must be respected and this can only be done by proportional retribution. The respect of human life achieves morality, while using deadly, deliberate force against repeated domestic violence does not. This cannot be morally permissible under any circumstances because the victim would never be killed and be able to do the same to the aggressor.

Contention 3:
Murder can never be morally permissible. It can be excused, but not justified. There is an extreme difference. If we ever allow murder to be morally permissible, we violate the most basic right, the right to life. This results in a breakdown of the society, and it does not respect the human life, which does not achieve morality, and therefore cannot be acceptable. Justice Douglas, who served on the Supreme Court during Furman v. Georgia in 1972 states, "Death is today an unusually severe punishment, unusual in its pain, in its finality, and in its enormity. No other existing punishment is comparable to death in terms of physical and mental suffering." (5) Since death is the ultimate ending, it is not to be disrespected or unjustly delivered. Murder can never be moral. Therefore, it can never achieve morality because it is the ultimate disrespect of human life.


I thank my opponent for this opportunity to debate in LD format, and look forward to a most interesting discussion.

Now, the definitions proposed by my opponent as CON are absolutely fine in the context of this resolution, for they have no impact on my case or the overarching contextual impact on her's as well.

My value premise will be the same as my opponent, as morality, for it provides the best means for basing jurisdiction upon. However, my value criterion will be self-defense, as it provides the best means by which the moral permissibility can be judged.

The moral as well as social contract is made up of categorical imperatives that support the intrinsic notion that you either meet the standards by a moral benchmark, or you fail to do so. As such, an individual who engages in repeated forms of domestic violence thus fail to meet the social or moral contract that we are all burdened with. Thus self-defense in all forms by the victim is justified once the abuser terminates his/her social contract.

Self-defense, including that of murder, would be thus morally permissible for the very fact that it provides a means by which retributive justice is served when the victim is repeatedly abused by the violater. Proposed 'alternatives' to killing are irrelevant to the actual and inherent nature of the action, merely endorsing the fact that there are more moral forms of solvency, however failing to actually testify against the explicit resolution.

Indeed, the perpetrator of the repeated domestic abuse would be thus forfeiting and violating his/her end of the social contract, thus giving leeway for the complete termination of intrinsic rights as proposed for all individuals on a social context as well.

As Robert Grant notes, "Human rights are the benefits negotiated by reasonable persons and received by each of them as a result of their agreement to accept the natural duties imposed by the social contract. Human rights are the consideration for the obligations assumed under that fundamental agreement. Recall that when parties enter into a contract each becomes obligated to the other and each reciprocally acquires a right to what is promised by the other". [1]

Additionally so, the moral permissibility of a murder rests upon the sole consideration of the meeting of the social contract for which is instrumental to determining morality. Ethical concerns are justified if I uphold an intrinsic moral contract in which I am entitled as well as obligated to give to all individuals moral consideration and respect as well as acknowledge the social contract that endorses justice. By negating and forfeiting my end of the social contract, there would be thus nothing to cause preventative measures to be taken for my rights to still be protected from any individual or society. As such, all murder is justified if it is, in fact, a form of retributive action in the main form of self-defense.

Indeed, the laws as well as policies endorsed by the United States themselves advocate for a legal standpoint on which all individuals may be justified in their actions to commit murder on the adequate and sufficient grounds of self-defense. Justice, thus, is upheld in such a case, and through the ethical consideration that it inherently grants all individuals, moral permissibility as well.

Proportionality is not the problem being considered here; it is merely the fact that an individual has violated his end of the social contract that gives moral and social allowance for the termination of ALL natural rights, including the right to life.

Now, my opponent's criterion of respect for human life is, if I may say, not only unfair as a biased criterion that violates the intrinsic guidelines for the composition of a criterion, but also invalid because of its negligence of the undermining social contract.

I may, for example, obviously advocate for the 'unity as well as peace in my interactions with other humans', but the moral permissibility of reciprocal retribution in the form of murder is absolutely still intact if I am faced with repeated violence and my abuser no longer possesses the intrinsic natural rights in his/her violation of the social contract. It is the circumstance in which we justify actions, and it is exactly this for which my opponent fails to acknowledge.

And by the very rules of LD, if my opponent fails to provide us with an adequate criterion, all her arguments may be considered irrelevant to the context of the debate and may be disregarded without exception.

Contention 1:
Again, my opponent introduces the so called 'alternatives' that, as she states, completely negates the moral permissibility of murder in consequence. However, to provide an alternative is beside the point when considering individuals who have already terminated any entitlements under the social contract; it is, in simpler words, saying that an individual already possesses no rights or entitlements, and we can choose to use alternatives than murder on him/her.

This would obviously be a form of moral consideration that surpasses the retributive action of murder, but it would still fail to negate the intrinsic moral permissibility OF murder. Thus we can see that such a contention is irrelevant and is invalid.

Contention 2:
Now, even starting off, my opponent makes a completely fallacious argument that states that the violation of a social contract is only justified by the proportionality to which it is violated. It is the ultimate termination of the social contract itself which justifies termination of natural rights as well. If I have violated a moral and social contract, I either *have* or *have not*; their is no middle ground in which I am violating it to a certain degree.

Now, the form of violation must be explicitly defined; for the violation of mere laws does not necessarily justify the violation of the intrinsic moral and social contract. For example, if I shoplift, or ignore a red light, I would obviously be entitled to punishments or the loss of certain societal privileges or liberties, but on a societal context, I would not be violating a moral or social code.

On the other hand, if I were to walk into a store with a baseball bat and repeatedly attack the clerk, he/she would be entitled to respond in a way for which he/she deems fit, no matter how severe the retribution turns out to be, for I have sufficiently given up all forms of natural rights that I once possessed once I started the attack.

As such, the proportional response as endorsed by my opponent is obviously invalid in its composition, and the intrinsic moral permissibility of an action is untouched upon.

Contention 3:
Her interesting statement is that murder in of itself can never be moral. Now, we find immediately a huge array of problems with this on a social and individual context. First off, saying that something is morally permissible does not make it entitled to the highest of ethical consideration, merely that in the context in which it was applied, morality did not provide a substantial barrier.

Moral permissibility bases itself intrinsically off of the circumstance in which the violation or the action occurred; and just for such a fact, the retributive form of murder seen in the resolution is absolutely permissible by moral standards when used to respond to individuals who have terminated and violated their side of the social and moral contract.

Thus I urge an affirmative ballot.

Cross Ex:
1. Is a social contract intrinsically categorical? Or is it conditional?
2. How does the severity of an action justify the moral permissibility of it?
3. How does an alternative actually justify that murder is NOT morally permissible, when it is the social contract which provides us with the form of determination?
4. Do you feel that retributive moral actions are justified?
Debate Round No. 1


1. A social contract is intrinsically categorical.
2. The severity of an action justifies the severity of the punishment.
3. An alternative allows for an option besides murder, because the abuser is not taking away the right to life, therefore the victim cannot do so either. It is not logical to use harsher violence against violence.
4. If they fit the crime, yes.

Cross Ex:
1. If I morally defy someone by having an abortion, does someone have the right to kill me because I violated the social contract?
2. How can one violation call for a denial of ALL rights, not just the one violated?
3. How can all murder be justified just because it is in retributive action?
4. Is self-defense necessarily killing someone or simply protecting one's self?
5. Is death of the abuser necessary? If not, then how can it be morally permissible?
6. Is it right to kill one person unnecessarily, even if their rights are forfeited?


Answers to CON:
1. First off, having an abortion is a specific topicality that has absolutely no relevance to a social contract. It is by violating the intrinsic rights of another being that has tangible impact on society that such an action may be justified. However, if the child WAS born, or it had the rational capacity to understand proceedings, then of course, if you attempted to kill your child and he/she retaliated by committing retributive justice by killing you, then it would absolutely be morally permissible.

However, as such is not possible in the case of an abortion, then obviously it would be irrelevant to state that *Another* individual can kill you, for you are not inherently violating his/her rights.

2. Firstly, I would like to point out the explicit wording of the resolution is *repeated*, not once; secondly, the violation, as long as it violates or terminates one's end of the moral and social contract, is absolutely justified if I so choose to respond appropriately, for I must take into my hands what the law neglects. This is absolutely also the wording of the resolution, for it is only my burden to justify *MORAL* permissibility, not a legal permissible act.

3. It is not. Now, if you would look back at my case and my statements, you would find immediately that murder in the case of retributive justice is ONLY justified and morally permissible if it is in response to an individual who has terminated his/her side of the moral/social contract by infringing and violating your natural categorical rights.

4. Obviously, self-defense would entail the full spectrum of actions that are defensive in nature. HOWEVER, this is absolutely irrelevant to the context of the resolution itself. I merely have to justify that retributive murder in the FORM of self-defense is morally permissible, however not in any way that self-defense ITSELF is only inclusive of murder. This is irrelevant to the debate, and furthermore, it would be fallacious to assert such.

5. Once again, you fail to understand the meaning of the resolution; finding any alternative is very well, but it only proves to me and the judges that there are choices that would be *more* moral than the choice of murder, but not in only way that murder *itself* is morally impermissible. It is to say that if I am able to eat a sandwich, but there are countless more alternatives, it would still be absolutely fallacious to state that eating a sandwich is wrong. Moral permissibility is completely unfazed by alternatives, only by the action itself.

6. This question fails to acknowledge even the context of the resolution itself. In what way can you prove or justify your assertion that such retributive murder is "unnecessary"? The necessity of such an action completely depends upon the circumstances in which it is hypothesized for, which namely is "repeated domestic violence". In just such a manner, it would be irrelevant to ask me such a question, for the very assumption that it is *unnecessary* is invalid.

Thank you, and I await your refutations.
Debate Round No. 2


brittanyland forfeited this round.


I thank CON for her time, but am also disappointed at the forfeiture.

However, to sum up points in this round, the argument made on my part were the intrinsic social contract for which rights were a two-way exchange and with the full understanding of both parties in entitlement. As such, my opponent fails to adequately refute this, and thus we find that my whole case remains unfazed in its validity.

Now, she makes no remarks or responses to my refutations for her case in her forfeiture, and thus we may find such a point of consideration also the basis for voting.

I thank my opponent for her time, and urge a PRO vote.
Debate Round No. 3


brittanyland forfeited this round.


Once again, since CON has chosen to forfeit, I am sad we were unable to finish this discussion, and hope to continue with it some other day.

As such, arguments may be extended and thus I urge a PRO vote. Thank you.
Debate Round No. 4
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by brittanyland 6 years ago
I'm really sorry. I had to edit these cases and compete at the tournament, so I didn't have time to do these debates! Thank you for your time! It was an interesting topic at Myers.
Posted by THEBOMB 6 years ago
It's to bad she decided to forfeit both sides of this was actually quite interesting...
Posted by EHS_Debate 6 years ago
Her definition of deadly force is wrong, or skewed at least. Read the full definition on this debate.
Posted by brittanyland 6 years ago
Myers Park in Charlotte, NC
Posted by Lenamond2424 6 years ago
@Brittanyland: Where are you debating?
Posted by brittanyland 6 years ago
As long as you can at least argue against my value and value criterion with your own, you can do it. That's the only really specific thing about LD that I need to have because it'll be in the tournament I'm practicing for.
Posted by Deathbeforedishonour 6 years ago
I wish I knew how to do LD format, because I am so pro.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by EHS_Debate 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: Good debate. I debate this too and I like PRO. CON forfeited twice - lost conduct. Social Contract arguments won me over. And I think Ethan had the most reliable source in the comment section.
Vote Placed by cameronl35 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: FF