The Instigator
QT
Pro (for)
Losing
3 Points
The Contender
bluesteel
Con (against)
Winning
11 Points

January/February LD debate topic

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
bluesteel
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/23/2011 Category: Society
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 7,530 times Debate No: 20036
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (23)
Votes (3)

 

QT

Pro

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


The first round will be only for accepctance.

This debate will take place in LD format. Both debaters must offer a value, criterion and necessary definitions. Arguments may include either data or clear philosophical warrants.



bluesteel

Con

I accept.
Debate Round No. 1
QT

Pro

I affirm the resolution resolved: It is morally permissible for victims to use deadly force as a deliberate response to repeated domestic violence. For clarity, I offer the following definitions:


Morally permissible acts are those which are not prohibited by valid moral laws.


Deadly force is defined as an amount of force that is likely to cause serious bodily injury to another person.


A victim is an individual who suffers from a destructive or injurious action or agency.


Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior perpetrated by an intimate partner against another. (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence)


I’ll begin with a brief resolutional analysis. Since the phrase "deliberate response" in the resolution implies that the victim was provoked by the attacker, we know that the victim, in this sense, would only use deadly force if provoked.


Additionally, the affirmative is not bound to defending that it’s morally permissible to use deadly force in every single case of repeated domestic violence. The resolution does not contain a universal qualifier such as the word "all", enabling me to defend a general statement. Furthermore, forcing me to defend the application of the resolution in all circumstances would destroy reciprocity which is a key to fairness.


I value justice which is the administering of deserved punishment or reward.
Justice mandates the existence of basic human rights for at least those individuals who are innocent. These human rights must be described in terms of relationships among people.


Robert Grant (a practicing lawyer and former judge) explains, “A right is only one side of a relationship; your right must be the duty of another. A human right is a contractual right that imposes upon all others the necessary and universal duty to act or refrain from acting in a certain way. Human rights should not be confused with possessions, like an apple or a house. Rather, a human right is a relationship between an individual and all others that entitles a person to certain conduct from every other person and from society“ (1).


Therefore, as Roger Scruton, a visiting professor at Oxford University, concludes, “Human rights cannot be had for free. [They] cannot be invented without also inventing the social and legal relations that enable us to uphold them. [A] society cannot be based in rights alone but must also inculcate a strong sense of duty in its members, if rights are to be anything more than useless bits of paper” (2).


The only way societies can inculcate such a strong sense of duty in their members is by giving them a self-interested reason for conforming to morality. As the psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg observed, a large proportion of the population is not motivated by an unselfish concern for others.


Julie Hough explains, "On the basis of his research, Kohlberg identified six stages of moral reasoning. At the first level, a person's moral judgments are focused on avoiding breaking rules that are backed by punishment. The reasoning of stage one is characterized by ego-centrism and the inability to consider the perspectives of others. The stage two orientation focuses on the instrumental, pragmatic value of an action. Morality is of the form, "you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours." At stage two, one follows the rules only when it is to someone's immediate interests. What is right is what's fair in the sense of an equal exchange” (3).


In other words, people in the first stage of moral development will only conform to societal rules if they avoid harm in doing so. Meanwhile, people in the second stage of moral development will follow these rules only if they directly benefit from doing so. Clearly, individuals in both of these stages will not be motivated by an entirely selfless concern for the interests of others.


Therefore, if we want to protect human rights in general, we must give these individuals a self-interested reason to fulfill their duties to others. To accomplish this goal, societies must uphold the social contract. The social contract is an agreement between citizens to refrain from violating each other's basic rights. This contract produces unique benefits for those who choose to accept it.


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).


In other words, under the social contract, individuals can earn their basic rights only by fulfilling duties to each other. If an individual violates his end of the contract by harming another, the victim no longer has any duties towards him or her. Therefore, this contract gives all individuals a self-interested reason to perform only those actions which are consistent with justice. A few entirely irrational individuals may choose to violate the social contract, but the overwhelming majority of individuals will not do so out of self-interest. Therefore, upholding the social contract is key to upholding human rights in general. For this reason, my criterion is respecting the social contract which includes taking away the rights of those who fail to meet their duties.


I contend that, in perpertrating domestic violence, an attacker violates his or her end of the social contract and forfeits his rights including the right to life.


As Kasachkoff writes, "Everything else being equal, persons have the right not to be killed. However, rights, even the right not to be killed may sometimes be forfeited. [Anyone] who attacks or threatens another without an objectively valid moral reason (as do unprovoked attackers), forfeits his or her right not to be killed" (4).



As explained at the top of the case, domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, and sexual assault perpetrated by an intimate partner against another. If individuals are to have any duties under the social contract, they certainly must have the responsibility to protect other’s basic right to bodily integrity. Therefore, in resorting to domestic violence, an individual is necessarily violating their end of the social contract. The repeated failure of the abuser to perform their moral duties under the social contract undoubtedly entitles the victim to rescind the contract. Under recession, the victim is no longer morally required to uphold his or her duties to the abuser.


Therefore, we must recognize it is morally permissible to use deadly force as a deliberate response to repeated domestic violence.


Sources:



1. Grant, Robert. "The Social Contract and Human Rights." Humanists, Humanism, and Rational Thinking in Utah. Utah Humanist, June 2000. Web. 14 Dec. 2011.

2. Scruton, Roger. "Animal Rights." City Journal (2000). Web. 22 Aug. 2011.


3. Julie Hough. "Moral Development and Moral Education: An Overview." Studies in Social and Moral Development and Education. University of Illinois at Chicago. Web. 14 Dec. 2011.

4. Kasachkoff, Tziporah. Killing in Self-Defense: A Unquestionable or Problematic Defense? Law and Philosophy. Volume 17, Numbers 5-6, 509-531.

bluesteel

Con

Thanks QT.

Random House dictionary defines "deliberate" as "characterized by deliberation; careful or slow in deciding." Therefore, "deliberate deadly force" meets the definition of first degree murder: it involves foresight, planning, and cold-blooded deliberation. It is *not* a heat of passion crime like second degree murder. This means that my opponent cannot justify the killing of an abuser by appealing to the exculpatory effects of emotion or heat of passion since the long deliberation process ensures that the decision to kill is fully rational. The use of the word deliberate thus refers to pre-meditated homicides or pre-meditated attempted homicides.

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

Repeated – occurring more than once.

Value: justice
Criterion: justified self-defense

Lacking a morally acceptable theory of justice, the social contract breaks down. Currently, the principle of necessity governs the rights of people to justifiably kill other people. The principle of necessity states that one should not be held criminally liable for one's actions if and only if the actions were *necessary* to prevent some greater harm.

In the case of domestic violence, murder is not a necessary response because the abuse victim can *leave* the perpetrator rather than murdering him. Given that there is a suitable non-violent alternative, pre-meditated murder of an abuser cannot be morally justified using the principle of necessity.

Law professor Joshua Dressler explains the problem of pre-meditated self-defense as follows, "My concern, however, is not with the . . . case of the woman who uses deadly force against her abuser during an attack or because of an immediately impending one; rather, my focus is on the . . . morally perplexing situation of the battered woman who kills her tormenter when he is not attacking, or about to attack, her. I am interested, in other words, in ‘nonconfrontational homicides,' such as when the abuse victim kills her abuser while he sleeps, or as he is watching the Super Bowl game, or eating dinner. . . . The traditional rule, which still prevails in most jurisdictions, is that self-protective force can only be used to repel an ongoing unlawful attack or . . . an imminent unlawful assault; and ‘imminent' or ‘immediate' has come to mean that the attack will occur momentarily, that it is just about underway. By definition, of course, no assault is taking place or imminent in nonconfrontational cases. . . . Stemming from the common law, a core feature of self defense law is that the life of every person, even that of an aggressor, should not be terminated if there is a less extreme way to resolve the problem." Therefore, our entire society is founded on the principle that nonconfrontational homicides are morally impermissible.

Dressler continues, "I fear that the result of expanding self-defense law to the extent required to justify
the killing of a sleeping abuser would be the coarsening of our moral values about human life and, perhaps, even the condonation of homicidal vengeance. . . . I believe that we should be very, very slow to suggest that the killing of a sleeping abuser is a ‘proper' or even ‘tolerable' moral or legal outcome." The danger of allowing nonconfrontational homicides to be considered morally permissible is the slippery slope. If a man hits a woman twice, according to the resolution, she can then kill him at any point in his life. His life has become forfeit. A whole slew of dangerous self-defense claims then become possible. If your brother consistently steals food off your dinner plate, you can then suffocate him in his sleep because you claim to fear starvation. Pre-emptive self-defense is dangerous indeed. Dressler analogizes pre-emptive self-defense to allowing a number of mini-Iraqs and justifying the Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive warfare on an individual level.

The problem with lethal responses to non-lethal domestic violence is not only the pre-emptive nature of the response, but also its lack of proportionality. Self-defense allows the use of *proportionate* or *appropriate* force, which is taken to mean *equal* force. If I punch you in the stomach, you can punch me back. You are *not* allowed to stab me or shoot me in the face. Prosecutors often call this form of homicide "bringing a knife to a fistfight." In the same way, slicing off a man's testicles while he sleeps and watching him bleed to death is *not* a proportionate response to physical hitting.

==Rebuttal==

Let's begin with my opponent's resolutional analysis. "Deliberate" means pre-meditated and intended; it does not mean "provoked." I can deliberately intend to kill you, without provocation.

My opponent also claims that she does not need to defend every use of deadly force in cases of repeated domestic violence. However, for something to be morally permissible, under my opponent's own definition, there must be no moral law prohibiting the act. To prove that the moral law prohibiting murder does not apply to repeated domestic violence cases, my opponent must disprove the moral law's application to all the cases that I present.

My opponent argues reciprocity, but no topic is ever fully reciprocal. My opponent sets up a definition that would supposedly force me to defend the "validity" of moral laws, allowing her to argue moral nihilism. This foists a huge burden of proof upon me. In addition, letting her spike out of nonconfrontational homicides moots my whole case, which is even more unfair. Lastly, she chose the topic and side, so she has no cause for complaint.

Fundamentally, my opponent's argument is that by violating the social contract, one forfeits the right to life. There are a number of problems with this:

1. My opponent straw mans her own author (Kasachkoff). When he argues that one forfeits the right to life by attacking another, he means an attack intended to cause death. Self-defense still requires an *immanent* threat, which nonconfrontational homicides lack, and a proportionate response. Without proportionality, this argument is absurd. Say I violate the social contract by disobeying the speed limit; without demanding a *proportionate* forfeiture of rights, a cop could shoot me in the head if the violation of the speed limit results in *all* my rights being forfeit. Thus, an abuser sacrifices his right to not be physically assaulted by his victim, but does *not* sacrifice his right to life. I will never contend that the DV victim does not have the right to hit back.

2. An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. If the murdered abuser's brother believes that the wife violated the social contract by killing her husband, then he believes his retributive killing of her is justified. My opponent's moral stance justifies vigilantism, which leads to a breakdown in the social contract as people take the law into their own hands.

3. Dressler takes issue with the "forfeiture" justification (that the abuser forfeits his right to life) because of "the implications of this moral view. We have decided that a human life is expendable. We can swat him like a fly and toss him in the garbage without guilt feelings. If we follow the logic of this position, imagine—as has occurred —a battered woman hires a contract killer to take her husband's life, and then seeks to justify her conduct. No court has allowed such a claim. But, if the death of an abuser is equivalent to throwing out the garbage or swatting a fly—if he is not recognized as a human being deserving of the law's protection—what basis do we have for prosecuting the woman or, for that matter, the contract killer?" Thus, the problem with the forfeiture principle is that it places no value on human life and justifies vigilante justice.

4. My opponent is cynical regarding human nature. She says, "people in the first stage of moral development will only conform to societal rules if they avoid harm in doing so." If this is the case, then the aforementioned "justified" murders will *always* occurs because the killer incurs no harm by doing so. The killer can always find a violation of the social contract to exculpate him or herself. Thus, under my opponent's interpretation of social contract theory, murder will become commonplace.

5. My opponent assumes all rights stem from the social contract, which ignores the existence of natural rights (Lockean "inalienable" rights), like the right to life. My opponent further says that one can "sacrifice one's duty" to another if that person violates the social contract, but duties are positive rights/obligations. Negative rights, like the right to life, cannot be thus sacrificed since they are not "duties" imposed by the social contract. For example, if someone violates the social contract by refusing to pay taxes, society is not obligated to provide him with social services (which are positive obligations). However, by refusing to pay taxes, he does not sacrifice his right to life, which is a negative right.

Sources:

http://moritzlaw.osu.edu...
Debate Round No. 2
QT

Pro

Resolutional Analysis



My opponent seems to misunderstand the point of my resolutional analysis. I was just arguing that an affirmation of the resolution is not an overarching endorsement of the use of deadly force but merely the recognition of its legitimacy as a check on repeated domestic violence.



Definitions



My opponent argues that victims of repeated domestic violence are those who have been abused more than once in their lifespan. However, according to the Collins English Dictionary and the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, repeated actions are those which happen many times or reoccur again and again. Therefore, the phrase repeated domestic violence correctly refers to habitual abuse rather than merely occasional violence.



Attacking the Negative Case



Alternatives to Deadly Force



My opponent claims that victims of domestic violence can leave the relationship instead of resorting to the use of deadly force. However, as Jane Campbell explains, “The likelihood of harm may substantially increase when a woman leaves an abusive situation. According to the...Justice Department...the victimization rate of women who separate from their batterers is six times the rate of married women.” Simply stated, leaving a relationship is not a viable option for victims of domestic violence.



The Imminence Requirement



My opponent argues that current understandings of self-defense require the victim to prove that their life was in imminent danger. However, this doctrine takes an excessively narrow focus and excludes the context of relationships that are unique to the domestic sphere:




  1. Most notably, traditional analysis of self-defense fails to take into account the gendered context of domestic violence. Women, who account for the majority of domestic violence victims, are often unable to attack their abuser in a directly confrontational situation due to disparities in size, strength, and emotional control. This requires a different notion of what is morally permissible in response to domestic violence. As Jane Campbell furthers, “Several aspects of the traditional self-defense doctrine are a difficult fit for...women. As many commentators have argued, the law of self-defense is a male construct, defined by how men…respond to violence. Rather than recognize and respect the fact that domestic violence is different, and often less avoidable, than other types of violence, the law often simply metes out unjust and overly harsh results for those whose self-defense does not fit precisely within the traditional, male-based canon.” To give women a fair opportunity to defend themselves, we must allow them to use deadly force even in non-confrontational situations.



2. Furthermore, unlike other situations in which self-defense may be used, domestic violence leaves the victim in a constant state of terror. While lethal violence may or may not be imminent at a particular moment in an abusive relationship, the fact that it is rationally perceived as inevitable makes anticipatory self-defense morally permissible. Jane Campbell explains, “The law of self-defense arises from longstanding principles governing behavior between those involved in aggression, but developed apart from the relationship between spouses....The law needs to recognize that batterers are different than others who make threats. Not only do batterers share a home with the victim—unlike most people involved in disputes—but they operate much like the way terrorists do by instilling fear that an attack is forthcoming, and thus, creating constant anxiety and fear in their victims. The uncertainty about precisely when or how the attack is coming creates dread, hyper vigilance, and fear in the victim...The sustained trauma created by an abusive relationship differs from other [situations] in which self-defense is used.” Therefore, applying the traditional doctrine of self-defense to situations of domestic violence would be inadequate.



For these two reasons, we should recognize that, while the use of violence in non-confrontational situations is typically unethical, it should be allowed in cases of repeated domestic violence.



The Slippery Slope Argument



My opponent also argues that allowing victims of domestic violence to kill in non-confrontational situations would justify the use of deadly force in almost any circumstance. However, as I explained above, domestic violence is unique and differs from other situations in which self-defense may be used. Thus, in allowing the use of deadly force in response to repeated domestic violence, we wouldn’t have to allow the use of deadly force in other non-confrontational situations.



The Proportionality Argument



My opponent argues the use of deadly force is not a proportionate response. However, as Elisabeth Ayyildiz explains, “[A] battered woman may not be able to defend herself without a deadly weapon because of disparities in size, strength, and emotional control...Indeed, a woman's lesser degree of force may only incite a vicious retaliation by the abuser.” Thus, the use of deadly force may actually be a proportionate and necessary response to domestic violence.



Defending My Case



1. My opponent claims that my version of the social contract would justify the use of deadly force in response to minor violations of the law. This objection misunderstands my original position. As I stated previously, “The social contract is an agreement between citizens to refrain from violating each other's basic rights.” In other words, the social contract applies only to basic rights, such as those discussed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Therefore, my social contract theory would only allow for the use of deadly force if an individual has violated another’s basic rights.



2. My opponent argues that adopting the social contract would allow people to take the law into their own hands and use unreasonable judgment in determining if another had actually failed to meet their duties. However, this isn’t true. Under my version of the social contract, societies could conduct legal investigations to determine if the perpetrator of the violence had actually defaulted on his or her duties. Indeed, nothing in my advocacy would prevent these investigations from occurring.



3. My opponent argues that I disregard the value of humanity in permitting the use of deadly force. However, the opposite is actually true. In taking away the rights of a few individuals who frequently fail to meet their duties, I’m providing everyone with a clear incentive to respect and promote the value of humanity.



4. My opponent claims that murders will become commonplace under my version of the social contract since a criminal could "always find a violation of the social contract to exculpate himself." I have 2 responses to this argument:



A) The social contract only applies to basic human rights, which are not frequently violated. Thus, a criminal would rarely be able to find a legitimate justification for the use of violence.



B) It’s highly likely that the state would investigate any particular incidence of violence. This would give all individuals a reason to use deadly force only if their basic rights had actually been violated.



5. Lastly, my opponent argues that some rights are natural and cannot be taken away. This objection ignores evidence I presented in my case. As I noted, rights can only exist within a relationship where both people fulfill their duties. According to Robert Grant, “A right is only one side of a relationship; your right must be the duty of another. A human right is a contractual right that imposes upon all others theduty to act or refrainfrom acting in a certain way. Human rights should not be confused with possessionsRather, a human right is a relationship between an individual and all others that entitles a person to certain conduct from every other person and from society.” Therefore, even basic rights cannot exist if individuals in society do not fulfill their responsibilities.



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bluesteel

Con

Thanks QT.

== Definitions ==

Repeated means more than once, not habitual. If I "punched you repeatedly," it means that I hit you at least twice. It does not mean that I "made it a habit of hitting you." Repeated domestic violence is domestic violence that occurs at least twice. That's a low bar for retaliatory murder.

== Alternatives to Deadly Force ==

I proposed that women *leave* an abuser rather than murdering him in his sleep. In response, my opponent cites a study which finds that women who leave their partners are six times more likely to be murdered than women who do not. There are a number of problems with this:

1. I can't locate this study and my opponent doesn't source it properly. I *was* able to locate a similar study which found that women were at slightly increased risk of being murdered if they separated from an abuser, but the effect only lasts for two years. [1] The biggest problem is that the DV victim *goes back* before the two years are up (and the abuser presumably forgets about her). "According to statistics, the average abused woman leaves her abuser seven to eight times before she leaves permanently." [2] Many of the women in the study were murdered when they returned. Leaving generally works, but the women need to *actually* leave and *not* come back.

2. This is an example of the base rate fallacy. Although it sounds really scary to say they were *six* times more likely to be murdered, this isn't a surprising statistic if the base rate is small. For example, if I increase my annual income *sixfold,* that sounds really impressive. Unless I tell you that my annual income was one dollar. Then a sixfold increase does not sound as impressive.

So what is the base rate? According to the Department of Justice, there are 4 million women in abusive relationships in the United States, and each year, 1,000 women are murdered by an intimate partner. [1] Assuming 100% of the intimate partner murders were done by abusers, this means that a woman in an abusive relationship has a .025% chance of being murdered by her abuser. A sixfold increase doesn't sound quite as bad knowing that the base rate is .025%.

3. Statistics do not justify murder. If a statistic found that Latinos are more likely to murder someone than whites, that doesn't justify me going around killing Hispanic people "to prevent murder." Statistics, coupled with pre-emptive homicide, are dangerous because they deny free will. Not *every* abuser kills. At most, 0.25% of them do. We cannot say that leaving is not an option merely because it slightly heightens the chance that an abuse victim gets killed.

And if every repeated abuser gets murdered in his sleep by his abuse victim, 99.75% of those men would have been innocent of murder. Most of the evidence points towards the need to strengthen the power of restraining orders and force police to respond more stringently to them. This seems like a less drastic solution than allowing pre-emptive homicide.

== Immanence Requirement ==

My opponent *correctly* points out that older self-defense rules often assumed male on male violence. However, State v. Wanrow set a precedent that relaxed the requirement that women use *proportionate* force. The case concluded that a smaller victim may need to use larger amounts of force to subdue a larger attacker. Wanrow would justify an abuse victim *shooting* her attacker if he tries to beat her. However, Warnow does *not* relax the immanence standard. Even if someone bigger than you attacks you, if you survive, mostly unharmed, you *cannot* then shoot him in the back as he walks away. That is *not* self-defense. In the same way, murdering a man while he sleeps because he hit you 5 hours ago should *not* be considered "self-defense." We can relax the *proportionate force* standard but *NOT* the immanence standard.

== Does battered woman's syndrome morally justify murder? ==

My opponent argues this under her #2 point under immanency.

Dressler explains that there is a difference between an explanation that *excuses* one's actions versus one that proves one's actions are *free from wrongdoing* or *morally justified*: "Self-defense, after all, is a justification defense, not an excuse defense. The claim of a defendant pleading self-defense is that she has acted properly or, at least, not wrongfully, in doing what she did. . . . [In contrast,] an excuse defense is recognized in the law when the actor has performed a wrongful act—an unjustified act—but we believe that she should not be blamed for her actions." Arguing that the woman has been so emotionally scarred that she should not be blamed for resorting to murder is an excuse defense: we empathize with the woman and will be lenient towards her, but her actions were still morally wrong. Dressler explains that justification defenses must prove that the *act itself* was justified, whereas excuse defenses seek to prove that the *agent* who committed the act should not be held fully culpable. The insanity defense is an excuse defense that concedes the moral impermissibility of the act itself but seeks to excuse the act by appealing to the agent's lack of rationality.

Professor Anne Coughlin has observed that battered women's syndrome is an insanity defense because it "defines the woman as a collection of mental symptoms, motivational deficits, and behavioral abnormalities; indeed, the fundamental premise of the defense is that women lack the psychological capacity to choose lawful means to extricate themselves from abusive mates." Dressler furthers that "It makes no sense, therefore, to describe a belief in ‘imminent deadly force' as reasonable—to say that killing a sleeping person is justified to prevent an imminent death—if the only reason for describing the situation this way is that the person suffers from emotional paralysis, learned helplessness, or is the victim of any other behavioral syndrome."

== Slippery slope ==

Pre-emptive murder is pre-emptive murder. Allowing a battered woman's exception leads to a battered child's exception leads to a PTSD exception , etc. As soon as we allow exceptions to the immanency standard, we allow vigilante justice and pre-emptive murder.

== The Social Contract ==

My opponent says that only violations of rights enumerated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are violations of the social contract. So although breaking the speed limit may not be a violation, the following things are: abortion (Article 1), racial profiling (Article 9), privacy violation (Article 12), slander (Article 12), gay marriage (Article 16), denial of welfare benefits (Article 22), asking an employee to work weekends (Article 24), denial of financial aid for college (Article 26), and downloading copyrighted material (Article 27). [3] So according to my opponent, you can't shoot me for breaking the speed limit, but you *can* murder your boss for asking you to work overtime and the RIAA *can* murder people who pirate music.

My opponent claims that society would first investigate whether a violation of the social contract has occurred. This makes *no* sense. If a woman wants to murder her husband in his sleep or hire a contract killer, she's going to call for a trial first? And then once he's found guilty of domestic violence, we let the wife murder him rather than putting him in jail? This sounds like a horrible justice system.

Regardless, the abuser is innocent until proven guilty. The wife cannot shoot first and then have the state ask questions later. This is further problematic because every murderer could claim to be an abuse victim since the only witness that can contradict this story is now dead. If every murderer claims the victim violated the social contract, the state will have a hard time proving otherwise since their primary witness is already dead.

My opponent doesn't really answer the analysis about how a forfeiture of rights has to be proportionate. We can't say a man's life is worth *nothing* because he has hit his wife twice. He should go to jail (and forfeit some of his right to liberty), but he shouldn't forfeit his right to life. That's far too extreme.

My opponent responds to natural rights by saying natural rights don't exist. This would mean that in the absence of society (think Lord of the Flies), murder would be justified. The right to life is supposed to be "inalienable." My opponent's moral stance requires altering the very wording of the Declaration of Independence and its guarantee of inalienable rights.

[1] http://www.freebatteredwomen.org...
[2] http://www.wisegeek.com...
[3] http://www.un.org...
Debate Round No. 3
QT

Pro

Definitions

My opponent restated his definition of repeated without answering my argument. As I noted, “According to the...Merriam-Webster Dictionary, repeated actions are those which happen many times or reoccur again and again.” Therefore, the phrase repeated domestic violence correctly refers to frequent abuse.


Alternatives to Deadly Force
  1. In my last post, I referenced a study which found that the violent victimization rate of women who separate from their batterers is six times the rate of married women (1). In response to this study, my opponent argues that a six-fold increase is not that significant since the base rate is incredibly small. However, this is not true. According to Jane Campbell, the violent victimization rate among women who are married is 2.16%. Therefore, women who separate from their partners would have a 13% chance of being violently victimized (1). This would definitely deter many women from leaving an abusive relationship.

  2. Furthermore, women who do leave a relationship often must return to protect their children and avoid losing custody of them. According to my opponent’s source, “Many women return to abusive relationships in the belief that doing so is the only way to protect their children. [These] women try to act as human shields, sacrificing themselves to stop abusive mates from harming their children....[W]hen women maintain their commitment to leaving abusive relationships, the legal system sometimes fails them by failing to grant restraining orders and by giving the batterers custody of the children.”

For these two reasons, we must recognize that leaving an abusive relationship is not an option for many victims of domestic violence. My opponent argues that, in the future, leaving a relationship might be a more plausible option if we improve certain aspects of our legal system. However, the resolution only applies to the status quo since it’s written in the present tense.

Imminence Requirement
  1. Gender Bias

    My opponent concedes that it’s permissible for women to use deadly force in order to defend their lives in directly confrontational situations. However, if we truly want to give women a fair opportunity to protect themselves, we must also recognize that the use of deadly force is permissible in non-confrontational situations as well. Victims of domestic violence often cannot anticipate or predict precisely when the next attack or assault will occur. This makes it difficult for them to prepare for an attack by having a deadly weapon accessible. Therefore, in many confrontational situations, a woman can only defend herself through the use of physical violence, which will likely have little to no impact on a man who’s much stronger. In fact, the woman’s attempt to physically defend herself may only further anger the abuser. As Jane Campbell notes, “Several aspects of the traditional self-defense doctrine are a difficult fit for...women. [T]he law of self-defense is a male construct, defined by how men respond to violence. Rather than recognize and respect the fact that domestic violence is different, and often less avoidable, than other types of violence, the law often simply metes out unjust and overly harsh results for those whose self-defense does not fit precisely within the traditional, male-based canon.” To give women a fair opportunity to defend themselves, we must therefore allow them to use deadly force in non-confrontational situations.

2. Constant state of fear

In response to my second sub-point, my opponent argues that battered woman’s syndrome doesn’t justify murder. According to my opponent’s own source, the battered women’s syndrome is a disorder characterized by a collection of mental symptoms and motivational deficits which prevent a victim from acting within the parameters of the law. However, I never suggested that we should excuse a victim’s behavior because she sufferes from some disorder. Quite the opposite, I was arguing that victims of domestic violence have an entirely rational reason to fear for their lives, even when they’re not being attacked at the very moment. As I explained, batterers operate much like the way terrorists do by constantly threatening to attack or even kill their victims. The uncertainty about precisely when an attack is coming, coupled with the batterer’s past history of violence, rationally leads a victim to fear for their life in even non-confrontational situations. Therefore, we ought to relax the imminence requirement in cases of repeated domestic violence.


The Slippery Slope Argument

My opponent claims that as soon as we allow exceptions to the immanency standard we must allow preemptive murder in general. However, this simply isn’t true. There is no inherent reason why allowing victims of domestic violence to use deadly force would lead to a situation in which preemptive murder would generally be justifiable. Police would continue to investigate all homicides to determine if the actions taken in each situation were acceptable. If the police investigation determined that the murder was not justifiable, then criminal charges would be filled just as they currently are.

Proportionate Force

In his last post, my opponent conceded the proportionality argument. As he stated, “State v. Wanrow set a precedent that relaxed the requirement that women use proportionate force. The case concluded that a smaller victim may need to use larger amounts of force to subdue a larger attacker... In the same way…we can relax the proportionate force standard…”

Social Contract
  1. Basic Human Rights

    I stated that the social contract applies to only basic rights, such as those listed in the Universal Deceleration of Human Rights. This was intended as a general statement. I did not mean that the social contract applies to every single right implied by this document.

  2. Legal Investigations

    In his last post, opponent stated, “The wife cannot shoot first and then have the state ask questions later. This is…problematic because every murderer could claim to be an abuse victim since the only witness that can contradict this story is now dead.” However, in legitimate cases of domestic violence, there clearly would other witnesses to testify about the abuse (such as the victim’s children, family, friends, coworkers, etc.). It’s highly likely that there would also be other pieces of evidence, such as documentation of severe bruises, scrapes, and other injuries.

  3. Proportionality

    My opponent claims, “We can't say a man's life is worth nothing because he hit his wife twice.” However, as I explained at the top of my post, the phrase repeated domestic violence correctly refers to frequent and habitual abuse, not merely occasional violence

  4. Natural Rights

    1. My opponent once again argues that rights are natural and unalienable. However, he never really addresses my original argument against this point. As Scruton explains, “Rights cannot be had for free…A society cannot be based in rights alone but must also inculcate a strong sense of duty in its members, if rights are to be anything more than useless bits of paper. Rights ought not to be given but purchased, and the price is duty.”

    2. Furthermore, as Eric Barnes states, “The idea of a right’s being natural makes no sense. The concept of a right is a normative (i.e. moral) concept, but nature only has to do with how things are and not with how things should be. In other words, moral concepts are created by people, and they are not natural; so the idea of a right’s being natural makes no sense” (2).

5. Value of Humanity

Domestic violence has been regarded as a private, household issue for a long time. Society generally has failed to help victims of domestic violence find a way to regain their dignity. By recognizing that it’s morally permissible to use deadly force in response to repeated domestic violence, abusers will think twice before victimizing their spouse or partner. This, in turn, will promote human dignity.


2. Philosophy in Practice

bluesteel

Con

Thanks for the debate QT.

Fyi, DV = domestic violence.

Final Rebuttal:

== Definitions ==

Merriam Webster's gives an example of what it means by "recurring again and again": "repeated changes of plans." Obviously, if we are trying to decide where to go for dinner and we repeatedly change our plans, that means we change our plans two or more times. At most, Merriam Webster's differs from my definition because it asserts that repeated means at least *three* occurrences ("again *and* again") as opposed to two. Three abuse incidents is still a low threshold for retaliatory murder being "morally justified."

== Alternatives to Deadly Force ==

My opponent cites a statistic here that the *violent victimization* rate of all married women is 2.16%. "Violent victimization" rate?? – that's a peculiar turn of phrase. My opponent takes this term to mean "murder." However, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, which compiles the data that Campbell is citing, notes that the violent victimization rate "includes rape or sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault and simple assault;" IT DOES NOT EVEN INCLUDE MURDER. [1] [2] So sure, 13% of all separated women are either assaulted, robbed, or raped by their former intimate partner. But the two HUGE problems with this study are that: 1) the statistics are referring to *all* women, not women who were abused, so the statistics are not even resolutional, and 2) murder is not included, and a pre-emptive murder to prevent an assault that has not even occurred yet seems ridiculously excessive.

As already noted, the *real* base rate for domestic violence murders is .025%. Even though we now know Campbell's study is NOT EVEN APPLICABLE to murder, if we apply a six fold increase to this base rate, that's still only a .15% chance of being murdered.

My opponent next says that women must return to protect their children because the legal system fails them by failing to award custody. This proves that we need to reform our legal system in this regard (for example, using integrated domestic violence courts, as some jurisdictions already do). Legal reform is a "less drastic alternative" than allowing pre-emptive murder so that women can retain custody.

If the law fails you, you can't resort to murder. That is the very definition of vigilante justice.

Leaving is *always* an option. There are battered women's shelters precisely to help women leave. The key takeaway is: TAKE THE KIDS WITH YOU. Your husband leaves for work – take the kids and leave.

== Immanence Requirement ==

My opponent says that women in abusive relationships cannot predict the next attack. Then they should *leave.* The goal should *not* be for them to *try* to put themselves into a confrontational situation, the goal should be to *avoid* confrontation entirely. The immanence requirement is not a "male based construct* but rather the only check on pre-emptive murder and vigilante justice. Without the immanence requirement, a woman could kill an abuser *after* leaving him. She could hire a contract killer with no repercussions. She could kill him if he hit her 3 times, even if he entered a program and hasn't hit her in *years.*

Without the immanence requirement, if I lose to a bigger man in a bar fight, I can shoot him in the back as he walks away because I'm worried that he might try to beat me up again next week. This is obviously a ridiculous standard for self-defense. It completely opens to the door to justified revenge killings.

My opponent claims it is *logical* to fear death when you live with an abuser. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, there is only a 0.025% chance of being murdered by your abuser. It is more logical to pre-emptively kill your car to prevent a road fatality. Abusers are bad people because they hit their intimate partners, but 99.975% of them are not murderers.

== Slippery Slope ==

My opponent claims that the police can investigate whether the murder was justified. The very problem with this is that the only other witness to the domestic violence in these cases is already dead. Alleging domestic violence will become an easy way to get away with murder. Remember, the state would need to prove that no domestic violence occurred *beyond a reasonable doubt.* Even men could start using this defense, since some men are abused.

In essence, my opponent is claiming that allowing vigilante justice in *some* circumstances is okay because the state can investigate whether those exceptional circumstances have occurred. However, since a high burden of proof is on the state, this is especially problematic. Allowing more murders and placing the burden on the (already overburdened) state to prove that all these murders were "justified" seems like a bad idea.

In addition, the state cannot *just* relax the immanence standard for domestic violence because this would be incoherent and illogical. When the Court sets a precedent, it applies in all cases. Allowing domestic violence pre-emptive murder would have to allow all pre-emptive murder by abolishing the immanence standard or so riddling it with exceptions that is becomes completely ineffectual.

== Proportionate forfeiture of rights ==

There is a reason that domestic violence is not a capital offense: we as a society do not believe that domestic violence merits a forfeiture of the right to life. Only murder merits a forfeiture of the right to life.

I argued that two incidents of DV was too low a threshold to forfeit one's right to life. In response, my opponent claims, under proportionality, that two incidents of DV is not enough to merit a forfeiture of the right to life but habitual DV is. However, even 2 incidents violate the social contract; this is not consistent with her overall position under social contract theory. In addition, it will be further confusing for police if 2 incidents are insufficient to justify a murder, but 3 or more are. [Or maybe not even 3 - the term habitual is vague, arbitrary, and subject to personal interpretation] *This is a reason to vote Con right now.* My opponent draws an arbitrary and unenforceable distinction between 2 incidents and 3 or more ("habitual") incidents. This takes out her social contract argument as internally inconsistent and takes out her arguments about legal investigation as those are now impractical. Police will have the impossible task of discerning whether DV occurred a few times or "habitually."

== Social Contract ==

Property is considered by the UDHR and John Locke as a "basic right." Therefore, an intellectual property violation would break the social contract, as would any theft. Therefore, you could murder anyone who steals from you or pirates your intellectual property if we declare that violating the social contract leads to the forfeiture of all rights.

== Legal investigations ==

My opponent says documentation of bruises will exist. Most DV victims refuse to report the crime to the police, out of shame, and would thus not have documentation. A DV victim that *is* rational enough to document the abuse prior to murdering her husband is rational enough to decide to leave instead. Think how calculating one would have to be to collect evidence of DV prior to the murder in order to prove the DV in court.

Kids might know, but not all abuse victims have kids. Friends and family often don't know because DV victims hide the abuse.

== Natural Rights ==

I don't really care if Scruton – whoever that is – equates rights to duties. Positive rights are duties. Negative rights are supposed to be "inalienable." How can we talk about *inalienable* rights and then let the right to life be ALIENATED by 3 acts of domestic violence?

My opponent then cites Barnes, who attacks the definition of the word "natural," but natural rights just means "inalienable" rights, i.e. rights that exist absent the social contract. When Hobbes talks about a state of nature, he is not talking about the "state of the blue jays and the grass," but rather the absence of society.

== Value of Humanity ==

Allowing disproportionate responses to immanent threats respects dignity. Allowing pre-emptive murder so *destroys* the value of human life that is sets an extremely dangerous precedent. Saying an abuser forfeits his right to life is like saying that murdering him in his sleep is no more morally wrong than "taking out the trash" or "swatting a fly." It is hard to believe that the only way to respect a crime victim's dignity is to allow him or her to commit an even worse crime.

== Concluding remarks ==

Under the necessity principle, a response is only morally justified if there is no less drastic alternative. I have offered a less drastic alternative: *leave.* Remove yourself from that situation. My opponent points out why some women may not like this option or that it may be difficult psychologically to achieve this outcome. As far as morality is concerned, that's … too … bad. You can't murder your only cigarette distributor because it's psychologically difficult to quit smoking. An alternative doesn't become *moral* just because some people see it as *the only way out.* Many murder-suicide perpetrators see their final act as *the only way out.* This doesn't justify the morality of the act.

Morally, we are supposed to judge acts under the veil of ignorance. When judging the morality of an act, we are supposed to judge the act itself without knowing anything about the perpetrator. That's why a *justification* defense must prove that the act itself was not morally wrong without appealing to any excuses regarding the *agent* of the act in question.

Remember, saying that "a woman suffers from psychological traumas that make leaving difficult" is an excuse defense: we can feel empathy and be lenient without condoning the act itself. We can even reduce her sentence or, in extreme cases, let her go free entirely, (as we do with insanity and temporary insanity defenses), but we *cannot* condone the act of murder itself as *morally justified.* What kind of message does that send?

The message it sends is that taking the law into your own hands is okay. That vigilante justice is okay. It sets the precedent that the State no longer has a monopoly on the use of legitimate deadly force, which leads to a breakdown in the social contract and results in Hobbes' dystopia where life is nasty, brutish, and short.

Lastly, if my opponent loses the social contract, she fails to meet her burden under the resolution of justifying nonconfrontational homicides in repeated DV cases. And she does lose this point for 3 reasons: 1) It is internally contradictory - a few cases of DV don't justify murder but "habitual" DV does?, 2) the justification of vigilante justice turns this argument by undermining the social contract, and 3) the right to life is inalienable.

Remember, if *any* violation of the social contract - meaning threats against life, liberty, or property - results in a disproportionate forfeiture of *all* rights, including the right to life, then society will clearly break down into a slew of pre-emptive of post-hoc vigilante justice.

For all these reasons, I urge a Con vote.

[1] http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov...
[2] http://www.childtrendsdatabank.org...
Debate Round No. 4
23 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Maikuru 5 years ago
Maikuru
Half way through and it's pretty good so far. Posting this as a reminder for myself to finish.
Posted by EthanHuOnDebateOrg 5 years ago
EthanHuOnDebateOrg
RFD
-----
First off, conduct was tied for both; the definition debate was quite an obstacle to arguments throughout the whole debate, and yet there was no direct breach of conduct. S&G will go to QT, for a few less mistakes overall, and a few spelling errors on Bluesteel's part. Now, arguments: The overall thrust of CON rested upon imminence and proportionality. As such, PRO failed to adequately refute or testify against both, merely providing refutations that proved only self defense justified. VC debate was won by PRO, however, as CON failed to refute adequately the criterion for which arguments are based. PRO did make interesting arguments against pre-emptive murder; however, his arguments based off of the social contract were vague in composition and failed to sufficiently justify how a breach of the social contract may allow it to be completely morally permissible for murder to be a form of retaliation. PRO had a good case, interesting points, but CON won on arguments for his strong refutations and adequate justification for all points. Good debate both.
Posted by EthanHuOnDebateOrg 5 years ago
EthanHuOnDebateOrg
I'll look this over, it's pretty interesting.
Posted by QT 5 years ago
QT
Oops. I meant RFD.
Posted by QT 5 years ago
QT
Thanks for the detailed RDF :)
Posted by cameronl35 5 years ago
cameronl35
Both sides definitely helped me with my cases on this topic, however. My RFD was somewhat strict on Pro but you did a great job and you lost to a very formidable opponent, do not be discouraged.
Posted by cameronl35 5 years ago
cameronl35
Conduct, S&G, and sources were all tied however I gave two points to Pro because the arguments were rather even, I'll explain later. As far as the initial cases go, both sides could've done a better jobs by organizing their claims and no side presented an impeccable case but Pro successfully tied her VC in to justice much better than Con, who didn't justify his VC at all initially. Pro won the cases and VC (1 pt each). After that Con won almost every point. He successfully explained and proved that allowing deadly force to be *permissible* would set a precedent for pre-emptive murder in general. Con's alternative, leaving the relationship, surprisingly was defended very well and was solidified. Con also turned the violation of the social contract argument by proving that under Pro's logic pirating and more would be acceptable. The only argument Pro won after the initial cases was the gender bias argument. Con had some really great rebuttals and surprised me on this one. Overall it was a very good debate but at the end of the day Con obliterated numerous points and Pro didn't solidify most of hers, Con had a greater impact and thus won the debate. Great read, I'm surprised there aren't more votes.
Posted by bluesteel 5 years ago
bluesteel
thanks maikuru
Posted by Maikuru 5 years ago
Maikuru
Wow, that is a lot of text. I'll try to look this over.
Posted by bluesteel 5 years ago
bluesteel
I also don't get the statistics since it's supposedly argues that women who have never been abused might be abused when they separate, which has nothing to do with the resolution. It's a prevalence statistic not a frequency statistic.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Maikuru 5 years ago
Maikuru
QTbluesteelTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Very good debate. It was close until Con's Round 3, which was completely gangbusters. It was incredibly astute and tackled every single contention. Pro's rebuttal was mainly reiterations of already defeated points. Good read but arguments to Con.
Vote Placed by EthanHuOnDebateOrg 5 years ago
EthanHuOnDebateOrg
QTbluesteelTied
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Total points awarded:15 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.
Vote Placed by cameronl35 5 years ago
cameronl35
QTbluesteelTied
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Total points awarded:23 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.