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

It is morally permissible for victims to use lethal force in response to repeated domestic violence

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/9/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,813 times Debate No: 21866
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (13)
Votes (2)




Resolved: It is morally permissible for victims to use lethal force in response to repeated domestic violence.

This was an LD topic during January and February. I intend to have an LD styled debate, but be warned traditional LD debaters: I will (most likely) be running a K. If you don't know how to respond to a K, I suggest you either a) do your homework and learn how to respond to a K or b) don't accept this debate.

8,000 characters. If you're running out of characters and need more, feel free to use google documents to post your arguments and just post the link to the doc as your round.
3 days to post an argument. If that's not enough time for you, then you may want to complain to Innomen to increase the max time for arguments to be posted.
2 week judge time.

3 Rounds of debating. Arguments will come in this order:

1. Con presents rules of debate. Pro accepts and posts case.
2. Con presents case and refutes pro. Pro defends and refutes con's case.
3. Con refutes and defends. No new arguments. Pro defends and refutes. No new arguments.

Yep, just like an LD round, minus the CX time. But you have three days to figure out what my arguments say. So it kind of works out anyway. As pro will go first, the work for defining terms will come down to the pro. If you don't, well....-snicker snicker snicker- let's just say you want to make sure you define well.

Anyway, good luck to whomever accepts this debate.


Thank you for allowing me to debate with you! Good Luck, here are all of my arguements.

Resolved: It is morally permissible for victims to use lethal force as a deliberate response to repeated domestic violence.
Terms: morally permissible- permitted by one's beliefs of right and wrong.
1.Victim- person who suffers from adverse circumstances
2.lethal force- force which under certain circumstances can be deadly.
3.Deliberate response- response marked by full consciousness of the nature and effects.
4.Repeated- happen or occur again
5.Domestic violence- a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain control or power over a spouse
Value premise: Self Defense
-Self defense= Defense of oneself when physically attacked
Value Criterion: It is important that you use self defense as a matter of protecting yourself, and looking out for your own personal interests which are living.
Contention 1 Abuse leads to psychological issues.
Emotional abuse leaves victims with moderate to serious psychological issues. They begin to think it is their fault and that they deserve the way they are being treated. Victims of abuse often lack confidence and may even be ashamed. Some feel that the abuse they suffer is a normal part of life, which is usually due to the fact that they grew up either seeing or being in a similar situation as a child. Along with taking place at home, emotional abuse can also become an issue in the workplace or with friends. The victim can ultimately become so accustomed to the emotional abuse that they begin to disregard personal worth and health. If not taken care of early enough, this can lead to issues that progress severely with time.
It is best to use self defense, it should be in one's self interest to look out for their own personal interests in which should not be having psychological issues. If a person is to disregard health they could likely die. This is why it is morally permissible to use deadly force as a deliberate response to domestic violence.

Contention 2 Deadly force is morally permissible if its for good intention.
The doctrine of double effect
Thomas Aquinas is credited with introducing the principle of double effect in his discussion of the permissibility of self-defense in theSumma Theologica (II-II, Qu. 64, Art.7). Killing one's assailant is justified, he argues, provided one does not intend to kill him. Aquinas observes that "Nothing hinders one act from having two effects, only one of which is intended, while the other is beside the intention. … Accordingly, the act of self-defense may have two effects: one, the saving of one's life; the other, the slaying of the aggressor." As Aquinas's discussion continues, a justification is provided that rests on characterizing the defensive action as a means to a goal that is justified: "Therefore, this act, since one's intention is to save one's own life, is not unlawful, seeing that it is natural to everything to keep itself in being as far as possible." However, Aquinas observes, the permissibility of self-defense is not unconditional: "And yet, though proceeding from a good intention, an act may be rendered unlawful if it be out of proportion to the end. Wherefore, if a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful, whereas, if he repel force with moderation, his defense will be lawful."
According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline in abusive relationships abuse ranges from verbal to physical abuse. Typically it will be both and will happen repeatedly. Therefore, it is lawful to use deadly force as a deliberate response to domestic violence. Seeing as it would be considered self defense. In order to have life you must value self defense.

Contention 3 Victims in abusive relation are enslaved by their agressors.
The victim in an abusive relationship can easily be compared to a slave. And in order to get out of slavery you must use self defense. This is why as people we should highly value self defense. We should value self defense because, without this we cannot have life in the circumstance of an abusive relationship.
Slave- a person who is the property of another and is forced to obey them
According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline. The following things are likely to happen to a victim of an abusive relationship: the abuser doesn't trust you, they try to isolate you from your family and your friends, monitors where you go, doesn't allow you to work, threatens to kill you, etc. Also, there are many physical things that may happen to a victim of an abusive relationship such as: punches you, slaps you, kicks you, chokes you. The abuser may also take you to an unknown place and leave you there. They may threaten you with weapons. And the list goes on.
A victim of an abusive relationship is in comparison with a slave because, for example, the victim is forced to obey their abuser or they could die. This is why the value of self defense is higher than any other value.
Debate Round No. 1


My case is in the below link, so that I may be able to respond to my opponent's arguments in this round.

Now, group her entire case, since it literally only talks about self-defense. There is a plethora of things wrong with self-defense in the resolution.

1. “repeated” implies that the action has occurred before, therefore:

a) The abuse is not deadly, since they survived the first round. Therefore the actor is not in imminent danger.

b) The abuse is periodical, so they have chances to escape but have chosen not to in favor of revenge.

2. “deliberate” implies that the actor has contemplated their response before the actual confrontation, therefore it cannot have been based on the threat to the victim
at the time since they would only have antecedently been aware of the magnitude of the risk to their life.

3. Even if self-defense justifies lethal force, it’s impossible to know whether self-defense was truly necessary or not in the situation. Since every situation is different, applying an overarching moral rule to it just fails entirely.

4. TURN: if self-defense is true, then the abuser is justified in killing the victim when the victim tries to kill the abuser. In other words, the abuser can then claim he was acting in self-defense and kill the abused person and get away with it. This will always outweigh because self-defense thus fails to protect the life of those who are abused.

5. If self-defense were true, then any murderer could claim he acted in self-defense and get away with it, relying on complex psychological analysis to prove whether or not they actually felt threatened – analysis that is in no way falsifiable.

6. Self-defense negates because deadly force fails to fall into the category of self-defense. Rosen explains

The amount of force employed by the defender must be proportionate to the threatened aggressive force. If deadly force is used to defend against nondeadly force, the harm inflicted by the actor (death or serious bodily harm) will be greater than the harm avoided (less than serious bodily harm). Even if deadly force is proportionate, its use must be necessary. Otherwise, unlawful conduct will only be justified when it involves the lesser harm of two harmful choices. If
countering with nondeadly force or with no force at all avoids the threatened harm, defensive use of deadly force is no longer the lesser evil of only two choices. Alternatives involving
still less societal harm are available. Indeed, in many cases it may have been possible to avoid unlawful conduct altogether. The same consideration underlies the imminency requirement.
Since using deadly force deliberately to respond to domestic violence fails to meet these criteria, either a) you don’t buy self-defense and drop the argument or b) negate off of self-defense and drop the debater.

And since the entire thesis of my opponent's case is based off of the ideas of self-defense, it's safe to say I've refuted her case. But if not, then let's go through her case contention by contention.


This entire contention is based off of psychological issues meriting a violent reaction. There are a number of things wrong with this, though.

First: Even if battered women’s syndrome or other abuse related psychological disorders are true, this doesn’t justify using deadly force. If a person commits a crime because they’re bipolar, it doesn’t make the crime just. It just means that the judge will take a bit off of their punishment.

Second: TURN: if psychological trauma justifies killing, then other mental disorders (i.e. bipolarism or alcoholism) would then justify the use of abuse in the home, thus nullifying all aff impacts. Furthermore, under this the aff would conceptually negate.

Third: There isn’t enough context in the resolution to suggest whether or not the victim it talks about is suffering from psychological trauma. Therefore, we can’t determine if psychological trauma is even in play here, making the argument, at best, really sketchy.

Fourth: TURN: if deadly force is justified under psychological trauma, then this would set a bad example for the future i.e. are women then allowed to kill other members of their family because of psychological trauma? According to the psychological trauma, it would just, but this is clearly in contradiction with their standard.

Fifth: Even if psychological trauma justifies killing, we have no way of determining whether her action was out of psychological trauma or other motivations, making it undeterminable under the resolution.


See responses to self-defense. Already refuted this.


Really, all this is is just a justification for why self-defense is warranted. So as long as I'm disproving self-defense, then this doesn't really matter. But even if she extends it out as an independent reason to vote pro, the victims simply aren't slaves because they can always choose to leave. She's going to try and stand up and stay that they can't leave, but:

First: This just isn’t true. A victim can always choose to simply walk out the door, psychological impacts aside. Instead of choosing to shoot the abuser in the head in the middle of the night, there is nothing preventing them from simply walking out the door.

Second: TURN: killing the abuser leaves them in a worse place psychologically or economically. They could face retribution from the abuser’s family, wouldn’t be in a better economic situation, and would later regret taking a human life. Thus, affirming only leaves the victim in a worse spot than she was before.

Third: TURN: there is no way to determine in fact whether or not a woman could’ve really left her situation. All domestic violence cases involve an element of “he said, she said”, and it would be incredibly easy for the woman to claim she had no other options, when she really did.

Thus, the women aren't slaves and can leave if they choose to.

So to wrap up the round and explain what's going down:
1. The K turns my opponent's case in two ways. One, the pro is advocating that we protect ourselves, but they commit massive violations of worth by replicating bare life. Second, Homo sacer allows exclusion which permits killing within ethics and thus they allow for more domestic violence by justifying exceptions to our traditional moral framework.
2. My opponent literally has zero offense coming out of this round. All three of her contentions have been refuted, her value and criterion demolished. There's nothing left for her to leverage offense off of.
3. Even at best, I'd like to point out one simple fact that my opponent appears to have missed. The resolution clearly states that "It is MORALLY PERMISSIBLE for victims to use lethal force to respond to repeated domestic violence". What my opponent is trying to prove is that it's LEGALLY permissible, not morally permissible. Even if she's winning the entirety of her case, refute all of the arguments I placed against her case, beat back and refute the aff, it's impossible for her to win since she's not proving why it's morally permissible. Until she proves that, she literally cannot affirm the resolution.

Thusly, I urge a con vote. Good luck to my esteemed opponent!



laurenr701 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


Extend all my arguments and refutations.


laurenr701 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
13 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Zaradi 6 years ago
Okay Telanin. You're really overanalyzing the entire situation. (this was not meant in disrespect).

None of my comments in any way were intended to be derrogatory or disrespectful. I was simply excited to be able to run my case.

And why is offering to help someone with something suddenly a bad thing? o.o that's super confusing to me.

Calm down a little. Take a chill pill. Relax. I'm not over here trying to make my opponent feel stupid. I'm just trying to be a good person...
Posted by laurenr701 6 years ago
Haha, I know how to respond to K's I hear them all the time, just have never actually seen the layout of one. Its pretty similar to every other case.
Posted by Telanian 6 years ago
The problem, Zaradi, is with the tone of the things that you are saying. For example, the following:

"Thank god, she ran Self-defense. This will be fun >:)"

to me sounds like:

"Thank god she was stupid enough to go for the self-defense argument. I'm going to have fun annihilating her."

Now you can argue all you like that that was not what you intended - and to be fair to you, maybe you didn't mean that - but nevertheless that is how it comes across. Hence why I said that such comments display a lack of respect for your opponent. If you think that your arguments are better, then simply post them up and let them speak for themselves.

And speaking of respecting your opponent, offering to help them out with a response is incredibly patronising and very poor debate etiquette. Again, to be fair to you, maybe you did make that offer in good faith, but just think about this logically for a second - even if your opponent does need help (and I see no reason to believe that she does), why on earth should she want to accept it from you, her debating opponent!
Posted by Zaradi 6 years ago
Ah, okay then. If you need help responding to it, I'll help you out on how to respond to a K.
Posted by laurenr701 6 years ago
Alright, Thanks! This is the first time I have ever seen a K before! Im a traditional LD debater.
Posted by Zaradi 6 years ago
Nevermind, I think I fixed it. Didn't tick off a box that let anyone with the link access it.
Try here:
Posted by Zaradi 6 years ago

How did those mean I don't respect my opponent? I like that she ran self-defense since I could then run my K, and if she hadn't defined terms, I would've defined them in a way that she probably wouldn't liked. How does that mean I don't respect her? I'm kinda curious.

And since I've heard that the link isn't working, try this one.
Posted by laurenr701 6 years ago
I cant even access the google doc you posted it states that I must have permission or something. So, when I figure this out I'll post my rebut.
Posted by Telanian 6 years ago
I'd just like to say that while I'm very much enjoying this debate, I do not like the tone of some of your comments, Zaradi. Remarks such as "If you don't, well....-snicker snicker snicker- let's just say you want to make sure you define well" and "Thank god, she ran Self-defense. This will be fun >:)" betray a fundamental lack of respect for your opponent, which I for one find extremely irritating.

So if I can be rather blunt, please stop insinuating and hinting that your arguments are going to be amazing - simply post them up and let them speak for themselves. And if the voters agree, then that will be appropriately reflected in the results.
Posted by Zaradi 6 years ago
Oh, and if you need the cites for the Agamben, Butler, or Rosen, I can provide them. I just don't like people stealing cites.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by TUF 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeits.
Vote Placed by 16kadams 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:10 
Reasons for voting decision: F