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Minarchist State (Pro) v. Welfare State (Con)

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/22/2016 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 394 times Debate No: 85415
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (3)
Votes (1)




This is for Rosalie's beginner tournament, the affirmative will be advocating for a Minarchist state which is defined as:

Minarchism (also known as minimal statism) is a political philosophy and a form of libertarianism. It is variously defined by sources. In the strictest sense, it holds that states ought to exist (as opposed to anarchy), that their only legitimate function is the protection of individuals from aggression, theft, breach of contract, and fraud, and that the only legitimate governmental institutions are the military, police, and courts. In the broadest sense, it also includes fire departments, prisons, the executive, and legislatures as legitimate government functions.[1][2][3] Such states are generally called night-watchman states.

In brief, a Minarchist state exists solely for the purpose of protecting life, liberty and property.

My opponent (picsbad) will be advocating for the welfare state which is defined as:

A concept of government in which the state plays a key role in the protection and promotion of the economic and social well-being of its citizens. It is based on the principles of equality of opportunity, equitable distribution of wealth, and public responsibility for those unable to avail themselves of the minimal provisions for a good life. The general term may cover a variety of forms of economic and social organization.[1]

In brief, the welfare state is one that not only protects life, liberty and property, but also provides for the enjoyment of such rights through things such as universal education, healthcare, food stamps, etc.


1) Dropped arguments treated as concessions, but if opponent exaggerates the impact of the dropped argument, the impact can be disputed.

2) All evidence has to be cited with a link or some way to access the full content of it

3) Plans/counterplans are allowed but discouraged, voters should note this debate will be primarily philosophical and about the morality of each side's respective positions, solvency takes a back seat.

4) First round is for acceptance only

5) To voters, any vote lacking an RFD with substantive reasons for your decision will not be counted towards the final result.

I look forward to an interesting debate with my opponent


I accept the terms of this debate.
Debate Round No. 1


"A government big enough to give you everything you want, is a government big enough to take away everything that you have." It is because I agree with Thomas Jefferson that I advocate for a minarchist state in this debate. I will be offering the value of Government Legitimacy, Governmental legitimacy is when a government's actions are appropriate uses of power carried out by a legally constituted government. Governmental legitimacy has to be paramount since for both the affirmative and negative advocacy, the actor is the government, therefore the crux of the debate should be centered around if its actions are considered fair and just towards the governed. The affirmative believes that the only way to have a legitimate government is to respect and protect the humanity and free will of the governed, which is why we offer a value criterion of the Second Formulation of the Categorical Imperative. Which states that we must "Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never merely as a means to an end, but always at the same time as an end." Kant believes we should apply this not just on a micro scale (in interpersonal relations), but also on a macro (governmental) scale, where he states "There is only one innate right,” says Kant, “Freedom (independence from being constrained by another's choice), insofar as it can coexist with the freedom of every other in accordance with a universal law” (6:237). Kant rejects any other basis for the state, in particular arguing that the welfare of citizens cannot be the basis of state power. As I will explain momentarily, we cannot have a welfare state while simaltaneously respecting free will, autonomy and humanity of the governed. What my framework necessarily states is that we must first have a legitimate government, and to achieve a legitimate government we must respect the automonous will and humanity of the citizenry. For this debate I will have two points of contention, the first will be how the welfare stae violates the providers (the wealthy who fund the welfare state), and the recipients of welfare, and we will conclude by explaining how only a Minarchist state can be legitimate.

Kant states that one of our most basic obligations as human beings is to treat others as ends whether than means to an end, to avoid treating people as means to an end we cannot use their humanity or material possesions for our own purposes. It is obvious that the poor will not be funding the programs they are the recipients of, therefore the middle class and wealthy are left to shoulder the burden. In the welfare state, the societal attitude is one that violates kantian principles for two different reasons, the first is that the welfare state uses the wealthy as a means of funding social welfare programs, depriving them of their free will to do so. As political theorist Richard Ebeling says

First and foremost, the guiding idea behind political paternalism is that the individual cannot be trusted to be a free and responsible human being. Those who wish to socially engineer our lives consider us too ignorant, too irresponsible and too narrow in our own personal planning horizons to intelligently and reasonably take care of our own health care, our own retirement, our own family's education, or our own spending and consumption choices.

These political paternalists who are proposing to enlarge the agenda of the welfare state implicitly consider themselves superior to the rest of us. With arrogance and immeasurable hubris, they presume to know what is good for us, better than we know ourselves. They are nothing less than would-be tyrants and despots determined to make the world over in their own ideological image – and, of course, all for our own good, whether we want it or not.

In addition, they are willing to use force against their fellow human beings to attain their paternalistic ends. That is, they believe that it is morally right for the state to use its coercive powers to take the income and wealth of some to give to others.

If an innocent citizen were to resist having his income and wealth redistributed, the paternalists clearly believe that the state has the right to even kill him (since the police agents of the state have the legitimized authority to use lethal force against those who resist its power) so someone else can have his or her food stamps, or public housing apartment, or for the government to pay their visit to the doctor's office.

If this seems like an "extreme" or an exaggerated statement, see how the government will react if on the day your income taxes are due you inform the tax authority that you are sending in a tax payment to pay your contribution for police, courts and national defense, but you're withholding any amount that would fund any of its redistributive programs because you consider them unnecessary and immoral. You soon may be facing jail time or physical harm if you resist their confiscatory seizure of your property for unpaid taxes."

His analysis provides a warrant for both the idea that the rich are used as a means to an end, and the idea that the welfare state does not operate off of the assumption that we are rational beings with an independent will. An oftly cited justification for the welfare state is the idea that a lot of the poor are at an inherent disadvantage due to their upbringing and enviroment and that a lot of wealthy people do not deserve their abundance of possesions because they were brought up with privilege that allowed them to prosper. When we see humans are nothing more than products of their enviroment that are incapable of rising above or sinking below their circumstances, we no longer operate off the assumption that each human has a rational and autonomous will, thus violating the categorical imperative. Not only does the welfare state make it so the government no longer operates off the assumption that we are free and autonomous beings, it slowly takes away our autonomy and indepedence.

Little by little, year after year, Americans get used to the idea of the welfare state, accept it, and allow the government greater leeway to collect taxes to fund entitlements. Americans eventually come to expect the government to assume total control, to “fix” all the problems of the world with a snap of its fingers.
In effect, we give up our own will to struggle with the problems of the world, expecting that government will take care of us and protect us from the worst abuses of an unfair world. Where inequities exists, government will step in and make them equal. Where suffering occurs, the government will create a new program to alleviate it.
The danger lies in two areas: First, in order for American democracy to function, its people must be free to exercise their free will and take control over their own lives. Second, the government trend toward the welfare state creates a real possibility of eventually becoming a totalitarian state.
1) The democratic principle demands that people exercise free will. When a government gets in the way of free will, even through subtle coercion, such as politicizing school curriculum or by supporting contrary ideologies over the principles of liberal democracy, the liberty of its people is in danger. The counter to this problem is self-determination and education.
John Stuart Mill (considered a gradual socialist himself) put it this way:
Society can and does execute its own mandates: and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself.2
This area of the democratic principle deserves a deeper and more complete treatment than I give it here. It is enough to note, however, that the welfare state suppresses human will to the point where the government “practices a social tyranny” on Americans, urging us to conform to the social mandates of such a society while alienating those who don’t conform.

For these reasons the only just government is a minarchist one, one that protects our free will by protecting our basic negative liberties, a government that exercises any more au


To begin, I agree with the following statement made by Pro: "Governmental legitimacy has to be paramount since for both the affirmative and negative advocacy, the actor is the government, therefore the crux of the debate should be centered around if its actions are considered fair and just towards the governed." This debate should be evaluated on whether the minarchist state or the welfare state is more fair and just towards the governed.

In order for a government to be fair and just, it must represent the will of the people. A government that goes against the will of the people would be unjust according to Pro's definitions. The existence of at least some form of a welfare state is consistent with what the people want throughout the developed world. Every developed, democratic country has some form of welfare state, which shows that the people generally do not want minarchism. A specific example is that in the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal is widely accepted as the beginning of the American welfare state ( FDR was elected repeatedly by landslides, so the people did want at least a minimal welfare state, not minarchism. (

Pro says "What my framework necessarily states is that we must first have a legitimate government, and to achieve a legitimate government we must respect the automonous will and humanity of the citizenry." It was the will of the citizenry to establish a welfare state to feed those who are less fortunate than themselves.

The definition of freedom as "independence from being constrained by another's choice" is unfortunately impractical. We are all constrained by the choices of our parents. Say that John and Jim both have parents who made different choices. John's father invested in Microsoft stock and made a fortune, but James's father lost all of his savings at a casino and fell deep into debt. John's father can afford to send him to college, but James cannot go to college because his parents cannot afford it, and he must work at low-paying jobs just so his family can eat and pay rent, so he can't save his own money for college. In this case, James is constrained by the choices of another, and John is not because John has the freedom to go to college. The idea of government not taking things from those who have it and giving it to those who need it would be far more theoretically justifiable in a world where people started out their lives equal - but that is not our world, and it probably never will be.

Kant states that we must never use human beings as a means to an end - but this should not be interpreted as a moral absolute. The idea of taking Kant's teachings as a moral absolute is disproved by his own statement that it would be immoral to lie to a murderer, even if it saved someone's life ( And also many of the people who are wealthy today gained that wealth by using others as a means to an end. When you must delegate employees to certain tasks and have them be instruments as part of a company's plan, you are inevitably using them as a means to an end, so this part of the Categorical Imperative is not practical on a universal level.

I agree with Pro that political paternalism is bad - however proving that political paternalism is bad does not prove the welfare state is bad, because paternalism is not intrinsic to the welfare state. Paternalists "presume to know what is good for us, better than we know ourselves." Forcing someone to help others does not fit the definition of paternalism. Welfare states are naturally beneficial to some and harmful to others, but they do not have to force anyone to be helped. If somebody doesn't want food stamps (in the USA), then they don't have to apply for food stamps, and they won't get any. This is not paternalism. While paternalism can occur in a welfare state, it is by no means inevitable or intrinsic to the welfare state, and I only have to defend the theoretical justification of the welfare state, so paternalism being bad does not prove minarchism is better than the welfare state. Therefore, Ebeling's critique of paternalism does not link to the abstract idea of a welfare state.

Pro says that the welfare state is bad because the government uses force to take people's money for taxes. Why is it bad? Because of the harm caused by this force: jail time or even death. However, this system prevents more harm than it causes. According to Rational Choice Theory (, people will naturally choose the option that produces the highest benefit for their own self-interest. Since it is better to lose money than to be killed or sent to jail, the impacts of death and imprisonment that Pro suggests would not happen unless it actually is better for someone to be imprisoned than taxed, in which case we should respect their choice according to Pro's view of freedom. Welfare prevents people from dying of starvation, which is a slow and painful death and is far worse than being parted with some of your money. It is far worse for the poor to lose access to food, health, and safety than for the rich and middle class to lose some access to luxuries. Some of these people cannot make money for themselves due to illness or disability, and relying entirely on private charity takes a very serious risk with human life. The lack of a welfare system creates a world that is not fair or just for the poor.

Pro claims that the welfare keeps getting bigger and bigger. But Reagan reduced its size during his administration, and other Republicans may do the same in the future ( The argument that the welfare state leads to totalitarianism is a slippery slope fallacy. In reality totalitarianism is more likely to be caused by sudden and abrupt changes such as the Russian Revolution or Hitler's rise to power. Pro has not provided any historical examples of the welfare state leading to totalitarianism. Also totalitarianism is non-unique to the welfare state - oppressive governments have been common throughout history, before the welfare state became more common in modern times.

On the quote from John Stuart Mill, I definitely agree that society should not command something that is wrong, but the rich giving money to the poor so they can have food, education, healthcare, and shelter is not a wrong command, but rather the mandating of an act that most would agree is moral. Social tyranny is not dependent on the welfare state since it is entirely determined by society, not the government. The government cannot legislate society's values, and society will impose certain values on people whether or not there is a welfare state.

The idea of the welfare state can be justified from either a utilitarian or deontological perspective. A utilitarian perspective says that the benefits given to the poor who are prevented from starving outweigh the harm done to the rich who can afford to pay taxes. John Rawls, a deontological philosopher who was inspired by Kant, believed that justice is fairness and that society should be constructed in such a way as to be most beneficial to those at the bottom. He favored the welfare state to laissez faire capitalism, though he actually followed democratic socialism, which goes even further than the welfare state. Rawls saw redistribution as necessary to ensure fairness, as it is unfair when too much goes to the people at the top.
Debate Round No. 2


Objectivity forfeited this round.


My opponent forfeited, so I will win this debate. Extend all of my points from Round 2.
Debate Round No. 3


Objectivity forfeited this round.


picsbad forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by Rosalie 9 months ago
Please be sure to send this to me once it hits voting period, thanks
Posted by Objectivity 9 months ago
My sources and final sentence of my conclusion were cut off so I posted it here
Posted by Objectivity 9 months ago
a government that exercises any more authority is an unjust one.

1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Death23 8 months ago
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Total points awarded:01 
Reasons for voting decision: ff - pro forfeited twice; con forfeited once