Legislation of Morality
Debate Rounds (4)
Round 1 is for acceptance and opening clarification requests, if any.
1.Principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior.
I thank Pro for accepting this debate.
Concerning Pro's definition of morality: It is a working definition only if the definitions of 'right' and 'wrong' do not come from government (or similar social structure) ("What is legal is right and what is illegal is wrong") as that would create a meaningless circular loop in Pro's favor. Yes, morality is the set of principles that distinguish right and wrong, but in order for that to have any meaning those principles must have their origin from a "3rd party" or outside source. That source is often (though certainly not always) something akin to religion, personal conscience, family, tradition, etc.
The reason that the above clarification is necessary (and the crux of my argument) is the practical distinction between right and better. As law is merely the implementation of government, the question simplifies itself into whether the purpose of government is to execute righteousness (the morality argument) or to better its citizens (my argument).
The United States, while being far from an ideal government by any means, illustrates my point nicely. The Preamble to its Constitution runs like this:
"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." 
The American founding fathers laid out a nice bullet list that basically serves as the thesis of their entire constitution. Notice the appalling lack of mention of morality. The US government is built on the principles of perfecting the Union, establishing justice, insuring tranquility, defending the populace, promoting the general welfare, and preserving liberty. All of those points are empirical standards that are exempt from petty moral disputes, highlighting their practical advantage over the subjective ideas of 'right' and 'wrong.'
In summary: 'betterment of society' is a better core value of a government than 'execution of morals,' both because of the former's historical success and credible endorsements (e.g. Thomas Jefferson and co.) and because of the latter's inefficient subjectivity ('whose morals shall we execute?').
The distinction between right and wrong drives our values on every level. Every person and organization have some form of morality, some good, some bad, some in the middle. But there is no question that everyone has some form of moral compass.
That being the case, the question of this debate is not whether or not morality is in the Constitution specifically as my opponent has tried to argue. The question is whether or not morality should ever be the basis of a law or its implementation.
Today I am going to look at one law and one law only. Only one law is needed to defeat the Con position. We will look at murder laws.
Murder, the killing of an innocent human with intent. It is wrong, on every moral, ethical, logical, and any other human levels. There is no question about the moral implications of it, there is no question that it is wrong. Yet, based on the arguments put forth by my opponent, we should not have this law. It is a moral law ranging back to the beginnings of Human History. A moral law that we can all agree is necessary and just.
Let's examine Pro's reasoning.
"The distinction between right and wrong drives our values on every level. Every person and organization have some form of morality, some good, some bad, some in the middle. But there is no question that everyone has some form of moral compass."
I couldn't agree more. Everyone has a form of morals and makes decisions based on them. However, this fact has little relevance to morality's place in government.
"That being the case, the question of this debate is not whether or not morality is in the Constitution specifically as my opponent has tried to argue. The question is whether or not morality should ever be the basis of a law or its implementation."
The example of the Constitution was not conclusive proof of my point, but rather a case study of a successful implementation of the system I propose is better than its competitors. Yes, the basic question is which system would have a more advantageous implementation.
"Today I am going to look at one law and one law only. Only one law is needed to defeat the Con position. We will look at murder laws.
Murder, the killing of an innocent human with intent. It is wrong, on every moral, ethical, logical, and any other human levels. There is no question about the moral implications of it, there is no question that it is wrong. Yet, based on the arguments put forth by my opponent, we should not have this law. It is a moral law ranging back to the beginnings of Human History. A moral law that we can all agree is necessary and just."
I am thrilled that you bought up the example of murder as it is exactly this kind of reasoning that is most clearly exposed.
Firstly, I would like to point out that Pro has contradicted himself. While he earlier (implicitly) conceded that the U.S. Constitution is indeed based on the system I recommend, he states here that under that system murder would be made legal (which it is obviously not).
The reason murder is illegal in the United States is not because it is immoral, even though most legislators would agree with that fact. It is illegal because it doesn't establish a more perfect union, it doesn't establish justice, it doesn't ensure domestic tranquility, and so on. Murder causes a net loss in society, therefore it is made illegal.
Secondly, there are several grey areas regarding murder, some of which are legal, and some of which are not. Some people consider self-defense murder and therefore morally wrong. Others take issue with war. Perhaps the best example in this instance is revenge. In many cultures, the avenging of a murdered relative through murder is not only moral but an obligation. Here, your system would support murder in a revenge scenario if it was morally supported by the people living under the rule of that particular government, while my system would forbid it regardless of its morality, based on the net loss it incurs on society (two men dead over one). Therefore my system is advantageous because it does what is in the best interest of society as a whole, not the specific moral values of the people.
It has nothing to do with the Constitution of the United States, it is globally accepted as wrong.
"The example of the Constitution was not conclusive proof of my point, but rather a case study of a successful implementation of the system I propose is better than its competitor."
Apparently, my opponent didn't read my previous argument in which I addressed this same point, which my opponent had previously brought up.
My opponent stated that it was obvious that murder was wrong for moral reasons only. I demonstrated the opposite using the example of the United States. My opponent has yet to refute that.
Signer of the Declaration of Independence and Second President of the United States
[I]t is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue.
(Source: John Adams, The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Little, Brown, 1854), Vol. IX, p. 401, to Zabdiel Adams on June 21, 1776.)
[W]e have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. . . . Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
(Source: John Adams, The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co. 1854), Vol. IX, p. 229, October 11, 1798.)
The moment the idea is admitted into society, that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If "Thou shalt not covet," and "Thou shalt not steal," were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society, before it can be civilized or made free.
(Source: John Adams, The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1851), Vol. VI, p. 9.)
John Quincy Adams
Sixth President of the United States
The law given from Sinai was a civil and municipal as well as a moral and religious code; it contained many statutes . . . of universal application-laws essential to the existence of men in society, and most of which have been enacted by every nation which ever professed any code of laws.
(Source: John Quincy Adams, Letters of John Quincy Adams, to His Son, on the Bible and Its Teachings (Auburn: James M. Alden, 1850), p. 61.)
There are three points of doctrine the belief of which forms the foundation of all morality. The first is the existence of God; the second is the immortality of the human soul; and the third is a future state of rewards and punishments. Suppose it possible for a man to disbelieve either of these three articles of faith and that man will have no conscience, he will have no other law than that of the tiger or the shark. The laws of man may bind him in chains or may put him to death, but they never can make him wise, virtuous, or happy.
(Source: John Quincy Adams, Letters of John Quincy Adams to His Son on the Bible and Its Teachings (Auburn: James M. Alden, 1850), pp. 22-23.)
Signer of the Declaration of Independence
[N]either the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt.
(Source: William V. Wells, The Life and Public Service of Samuel Adams (Boston: Little, Brown, & Co., 1865), Vol. I, p. 22, quoting from a political essay by Samuel Adams published in The Public Advertiser, 1749.)
Framer of the First Amendment
Our liberty depends on our education, our laws, and habits . . . it is founded on morals and religion, whose authority reigns in the heart, and on the influence all these produce on public opinion before that opinion governs rulers.
(Source: Fisher Ames, An Oration on the Sublime Virtues of General George Washington (Boston: Young & Minns, 1800), p. 23.)
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Signer of the Declaration of Independence
Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime & pure, [and] which denounces against the wicked eternal misery, and [which] insured to the good eternal happiness, are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments.
(Source: Bernard C. Steiner, The Life and Correspondence of James McHenry (Cleveland: The Burrows Brothers, 1907), p. 475. In a letter from Charles Carroll to James McHenry of November 4, 1800.)
Chief-Justice of the Supreme Court
[T]he primary objects of government are the peace, order, and prosperity of society. . . . To the promotion of these objects, particularly in a republican government, good morals are essential. Institutions for the promotion of good morals are therefore objects of legislative provision and support: and among these . . . religious institutions are eminently useful and important. . . . [T]he legislature, charged with the great interests of the community, may, and ought to countenance, aid and protect religious institutions"institutions wisely calculated to direct men to the performance of all the duties arising from their connection with each other, and to prevent or repress those evils which flow from unrestrained passion.
(Source: Connecticut Courant, June 7, 1802, p. 3, Oliver Ellsworth, to the General Assembly of the State of Connecticut)
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by wrichcirw 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: see comments - PRO only proffered an opening and closing and did not debate, and for that, I cannot score arguments (even though I think CON's position is untenable).
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