The Instigator
RoyLatham
Pro (for)
Winning
14 Points
The Contender
larztheloser
Con (against)
Losing
7 Points

People should have the right to make dangerous choices.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 5 votes the winner is...
RoyLatham
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/2/2011 Category: Society
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,498 times Debate No: 16840
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (13)
Votes (5)

 

RoyLatham

Pro

The Resolution

In this debate I will affirm the individual's right to make dangerous choices. My opponent suggested the topic after noting that in my profile I affirmed tobacco rights, which indeed I do. The topic will be debated more generally, but that provides an idea of the context.

This round is for definitions and acceptance. The debate begins in R2.

Definitions

A right is

"something to which one has a just claim: as a : the power or privilege to which one is justly entitled rights> right to decide>"
http://www.merriam-webster.com...

Few if any rights are absolute. Even a strong right like free speech is restricted for example, for perpetuating a financial fraud. A right can only be overcome for a strong reason. By contrast, a privilege is

"a right or immunity granted as a peculiar benefit, advantage, or favor : prerogative; especially : such a right or immunity attached specifically to a position or an office"
http://www.merriam-webster.com...

"Right" is used in the sense "right in law" in the definition of privilege. For our debate a right is something that a person has by default, and which government may restrict only for good cause. A privilege, by contrast, is something that one must be granted, usually by application for a grant from the government. For example. a physicians license is provides the privilege of practicing medicine to the person to whom it is granted by government.

A "dangerous choice" is a decision wherein one of the outcomes poses a significant risk to the individual making the choice. For example, the choice to smoke cigarettes poses a significant health risk to the individual who decides to smoke.

Other words used in this debate are standard dictionary definitions, taken in the appropriate context in which they are used.

I thank my opponent for the opportunity to debate this topic and look forward to a good debate.

larztheloser

Con

I'd like to thank my opponent for his opening statement, as well as for creating this debate. He provided some good definitions, all of which I accept. However I think, for the sake of clarification, I should add that when a choice has several outcomes that pose significant individual risk (as opposed to just one) that is also a dangerous choice.

From the con perspective, I will argue that when something becomes "significantly risky," we should not have an inherent right to make that choice, but rather it should only be a privilege reserved for exceptional circumstances. To win this debate, I intend to both offer convincing reasons as to why exceptionally dangerous choices should only be taken in exceptionally dangerous circumstances, as well as rebutting any reasons my opponent brings up that this is untrue.

I look forward to hearing my opponent's substantive contentions, and wish him the best of luck for the debate!
Debate Round No. 1
RoyLatham

Pro

Perhaps at the moment of making a dangerous choice, a voice from an all-seeing power will issue a profound, "I don't think so." That would be good. That isn't what happens. Instead, a government bureaucrat, immune to risk of job loss or failure, will decide what is too risky for you. Your freedom of choice will be curtailed by someone who doesn't know you, the risks you face, or the rewards you hope for in return for taking the risk. The deal is the same as slavery: you are relieved of the burden of decision making in return for, at best, a meager, supervised existence.

1. Restrictions on dangerous choices are unjust


If there is no right to make a dangerous choice, then a government agency must decide was is dangerous and who can receive the privilege of accepting risk. Learning to ski, ride a bicycle, skateboard, or surf are inherently risky. After becoming an expert, the risk drops. How will the bureaucracy decide whether you are one of the people who can learn without injury or one who is likely to have the enterprise terminated by serious injury? The best that a bureaucracy can do is to make a judgement based upon statistics of some kind. Such judgements depend upon statistics, so they are inherently unjust to people who are incorrectly denied based upon the screening criteria.

Moreover,, judgement ought to be based upon risk and reward. Bureaucracy is poor at assessing risk, but totally unqualified to judge a person's reward. If a person is not very interested in skiing, then denying that person the privilege of skiing is of little consequence. However,, if a person loves to ski , a risky undertaking, then denying the privilege is a major penalty. Pursuit of happiness is a fundamental self-evident right. If what makes a person happy has risk, then denial is violation of that right.

Informing someone of the risk is not a denial of the right. So it's fair enough to require various cautions and warning labels, so long as the ultimate choice is left with the individual. It's also fair to prohibit risks that endanger others. It's one thing to perform risky maneuvers in an aircraft over the ocean, another thing to perform over a city.

2. Progress depends upon taking risk

There are many types of risk. The most dangerous occupation in the United States is fishing, and timbering and farming also pose significant risks compared to the average occupations. Starting a business poses a significant risk of failure and financial loss. Launching new products risks not only the financial success of the company investors, but the jobs of they employees. However, society needs risk taking for progress. Developing a new pharmaceutical typically costs $300 million to $600 million, and the drug often enough proves ineffective.

"In a recent survey of over 630 working professionals conducted by Caliper, a Princeton-based human resources consulting firm, over 7 out of 10 people feel that taking risks is more important to success than avoiding mistakes. ... People in high-level positions—those who are C-level and Vice Presidents—stressed the importance of taking risks much stronger than those in Administrative or Managerial positions." http://www.jobbankusa.com...

The right to take risks derives from the individual's right to do what is best for himself, and at the same time it benefits society. The rest of us get the fish, timber, farm products, innovative consumer products, and new pharmaceuticals -- all obtained at significant risk to individuals. Just having a process for granting the privilege of taking risk causes significant harm to society because it wastes money supporting bureaucrats to make judgements, it deters entrepreneurial people who cannot cope with the bureaucracy, and it slows the advent of new enterprise by the government processing time. All those disadvantage would accrue even if bureaucrats were correct at assessing risk, which of course they are not. Only the individual is qualified to assess the risks and rewards.

The right to take significant risks is fundamental to human freedom. The burden should be on those who want to restrict freedom.

3. Government enforces ideology through the guise of risk control

Smoking cigarettes poses a significant health risk to the smoker. It is a good example because it poses very little risk to others. People who smoke die younger than those who do not smoke. The effect on health system costs has been the subject of four think-tank studies. All the studies show that the costs are a wash. The costs of treating smoking caused illness is offset by the savings in not treating all the illnesses which one is likely to get by living older. Those opposed to smoking ignore the health savings from shortened lives, assuming that people who lived longer would have no health expenses whatsoever. A Dutch study reported this year that, "Ultimately, the thin and healthy group cost the most, about $417,000, from age 20 on. The cost of care for obese people was $371,000, and for smokers, about $326,000." http://voicesweb.org...

Studies of second hand smoke show only a slight effect, and that is for people living in a household with a smoker. http://www.nycclash.com... In any case, entering a private establishment that permits smoking is a matter of personal choice. Modern air filtering technology also makes it practical to purify the air for non-smokers to purity greater than the outdoor air.

Smoking is an example of how ideology masquerades as forbidding a dangerous choice. Most things that people do have both advantages and disadvantages. Getting out of bed and going down stairs to begin your day has the risks falling on the stairway. The risks are real and quantifiable. A 2005 Report in the U.K. emphasized the hazard, quoting"“To fall down stairs is not only to fall off a cliff, but to fall on rocks below, for the nosings of steps presents a succession of sharp edges.” http://www.hse.gov.uk... It went on to report that most such accidents occur in the home, and cite statistics of more than 500 accidents on stairs. If it is not your right to assess the risk and decide if it is significant, the government can make the trade off for you. Perhaps a license should be required, or special safety equipment. If the government in some locality wants to keep real estate prices high to keep out poor people, the mechanism is available to ban two-story houses on the grounds the risk is too high.

Cases can easily made against planes or automobiles, or bicycles or walking. In each case the hazards can be demonstrated with solid statistics, but the benefits are amorphous and non-specific. The government can ban or discourage anything it wants to. As with cigarettes, they point only to the hazards and dismiss benefits as minor and ephemeral.

What greater risk could there be than the risk of losing one's immortal soul? A government-imposed regimen of prayer. and ceremonies may, in the opinion of government, reduce that risk. Surely, an individual cannot chose to take so great a risk. The point is that principle of having to beg for privileges is a means for government to control the most minute aspects of life for the purpose of having you avoid a dangerous choice.

Disallowing dangerous choices is a form of slavery, contrary to the necessary risk taking that individuals and society need for progress, and it has no practical bounds on which decisions are controlled. All errant thought is, to the ruling powers, dangerous.

The resolution is affirmed.
larztheloser

Con

If my opponent's conception of an Orwellian dystopia arising from people not making dangerous choices sounds a little bit scary to you, then take heart in knowing that I'm not arguing for banning choices in favor of government-enforced slavery (as you will see). This kind of emotive thinking was characteristic of my opponent's case - he played on people's fear of government bureaucracy, and on people's love of risk-taking or even using everyday things that people take for granted, such as walking down stairs. When you actually look at the logic of my opponent's case, suddenly it doesn't become so appealing. Every single one of his points was premised on the use of statistics to decide what makes a harm significant. Therefore the simplest rebuttal to every single one of his points is that what makes a harm significant is not a statistic, but the experience of the individual.

In terms of my case structure, I will offer a truckload of specific attacks on my opponent's case in round three. In this round I will simply give two solid reasons why we should not have a right to make dangerous choices, and include a few rebuttal points scattered into my argument.

1. Not everyone is an expert
When I was 4 years old, even though I was fairly confident at walking, my parents would not let me walk down the stairs. Only after I had practiced with them for many hours, under their intense supervision, would they allow me to climb a spiral structure five times my own height. They were confident that I was no longer at risk of significant harm. When I was 12 years old, the ski-lift operators refused to take me to the top of Mt Ruapehu, where the toughest slopes were. I had to start out at the bottom where gentle areas were set up for beginners.
The reason why we allow Jackie Chan to leap around the Eiffel Tower is because he knows what he's doing. He knows how to do absolutely crazy stunts, having trained for countless hours at the circus, and therefore the choice is unlikely to be significantly harmful. If I was to try to leap around the Eiffel Tower I would be promptly and rightly arrested and put on suicide watch.
The way to make a dangerous decision to minimize the risk. That is true for all manner of possible dangerous activities. Driving really fast should only be done on the racetrack, because doing it on a random road - even when there are no other cars around - is too risky for an individual. However, we make an exception for rally car drivers who are trained to race under these conditions. In other words, what gives a person their freedom to choose to do something is their ability to overcome the possible dangers.
The way to minimize the risk is, as I showed in the first paragraph, to learn under controlled conditions, where there is little risk. As one becomes more experienced one can increase the level of risk, but the risk is offset by the increased experience one has earnt. That's why I can't go to the bank and loan hundreds of millions to develop a new pharmaceutical - I have absolutely no idea how to create a pharmaceutical drug, meaning the risk for me is very high, so the bank knows that my chance of success is ridiculously slim. However, if I was the leader of a team of ace scientists, the bank will be more inclined to allow me to take the risk, because the risk of failure is relatively low.
This, of course, begs the question of what makes one an expert. It cannot be tied to an exact likelihood or statistic of harm because this cannot be established (unless one can divine the future). At the same time the standard must be objective. My contention is that such standards in fact already exist for every activity. Driving, for instance, is often tied to both a test and a few supervised hours on the road. Developing pharmaceuticals is tied to having the relevant qualifications and probably some years of lab work. We don't just let people fly commercial aircraft until we are sure they are expert pilots. Amateur pilots, while they might luckily be able to fly such an aircraft, are simply too risky.
My overall point is that where there is the possibility of doing something correctly, we should hold people up to a standard that society has already reasonably worked out. In some cases, where there is no safe way of doing that activity without significant individual harm, the only reasonable standard is to disallow it, as everyone is necessarily an amateur.

2. It is the role of the state to stop us doing stupid things
Many countries have laws mandating seat-belts, bicycle lights and car warrants. States provide guidance to people wishing to commit suicide, they fund lifesavers at the beaches, and generally contribute more than anyone to our society's education. Face it - the role of the state is to stop us being dumb.
This isn't government ideology, as my opponent would have you believe. It is my understanding that the status quo is not government-enforced slavery. However, it must be conceded that most truly dangerous activities in our society are currently privileges reserved for those who know what they are doing. What I want to show, however, is the reason why the government is charged with enforcing this state of affairs.
In our society we hold a wide variety of competing views about where the line should be drawn with respect to various dangerous choices people make. This is a good thing, as should be self-evident to debaters like us. The state is the only institution that, at least in theory, allows all of us to have our voices heard. I can't go to McDonalds and tell them about how great KFC is. I can't go to the KKK and tell them how awesome black people are. I can't go to Greenpeace and tell them that the environment fails. Why? Because none of these organizations listen to dissenting opinions. However, dissenting opinions form the heart of government - I can write to my representative right now and tell him whatever I want. If my idea is likely to have any support, then my representative has an incentive to bring it up. It is the one organisation where people of every kind of background and ideology are heard, and more importantly, regularly make themselves heard. Moreover, the strength of these opinions generally directly translates into the decisions made by the government. What we should and should not be allowed to do is something we all have our own opinions about.
Therefore the government is the best placed institution to decide what we should not be able to do. The question therefore becomes when, not if, it is the government's role to restrict something. The reason why the government restricts things that we know are likely to cause serious harm to an individual is because the state marketplace of ideas nautrally generates all manner of opinions on what the state should not allow. Only those ideas that are generally universally accepted to have serious harm to individuals are therefore, ideally, legislated against. This sets a high threshold for harm which allows for as little bureaucratic intervention as possible while minimizing the risk of a lot of people coming to individual harm.
Of course, I know that no government is perfect. All too often we hear cases of when the public mandate has been ignored. However, my case is that the government is still the best placed arbiter for managing our competing wants to restrict certain risks from being taken, and that the government is charged by the citizens of the state to prevent other citizens from being stupid.

Allowing dangerous choices is a dangerous path. We all intuitively know that giving 8-year-olds access to mercury is probably a bad idea. Of course mercury is a very useful substance when we know how to use it properly - but that little 8 year old would be forced, practically enslaved, to not experience mercury if I win the debate. I didn't need to give you all that analysis for you to know that's flawed. Voters, there are some rights I'm happy I don't have! I'm proud to oppose.
Debate Round No. 2
RoyLatham

Pro

I claimed that if a person had no right to make dangerous choices, our choices would not be made by an all-seeing benevolent power, but rather by a government bureaucrat who is immune to risk yet will decide what is too risky for you. Con counters with a comparison to parents taking care of their children. That's asserting that Big Brother is indeed like your parents: smarter than you, more knowledgeable, and better to judge what is good for you than you yourself. But that's wrong, unlike your parents, government does not know you at all, and government does not have vastly more experience in what the relevant risks may be to you. It's better compared to child abuse.

Con further argues that, "no government is perfect ... the government is still the best placed arbiter for managing our competing wants to restrict certain risks from being taken, and that the government is charged by the citizens of the state to prevent other citizens from being stupid." I think that is equivalent to saying that since parents cannot supervise our whole lives, the best we can do is have government take over the role of parenting. I don't think so. A better alternative is to let people grow up and be responsible for themselves.

Con largely ignores my case. The unrefuted points of my case stand:1. Restrictions on dangerous choices are unjust, 2. Progress depends upon taking risk, 3. Government enforces ideology through the guise of risk control.

C1. Con argues that "not everyone is an expert." He uses the parenting example, in which parents know many more than small children. I remember watching boys of about 12 surfing on a rocky coast in Hawaii. There were no parents supervising. The waves were not really big, but they moved the surfboards into the rocks at the speed of fast walk. When a lad was about to crash into rocks, he would jump off the board, land neatly on the rocks, and simultaneously picked the board out of the surf. Parents knew it was safe. How would government know? For most kids it would be "dumb," for those kids it was not. A 12 year old does not have a resume showing experience.

Con argues that we allow Jackie Chan to leap around on the Eiffel Tower because he is an expert. Stuntmen are in fact not licensed, or given permits, or "allowed." Perhaps the French have rules for their Tower, but in general stuntmen assess their own risks. Chan is frequently injured, saying, "The stunt was simple-just jumping down from a castle wall to a tree below. The first time I tried it, the stunt went perfectly, but I wasn't satisfied with the take. I tried it again, and the second time, I somehow missed the branch I was trying to grab. Whish! I fell past the tree and onto the ground below. ... I hit the rocky ground head first. A piece of my skull cracked and shot up into my brain, and blood poured from my ears. The production team quickly got on the phones to try to find the nearest hospital that could do emergency brain surgery, and eight hours later, I was going under the knife. The operation was successful, and I recovered quickly-even though there's a permanent hole in my head now, with a plastic plug there to keep my brains in." http://www.randomhouse.com...

Con argued that it must be that Chan and others were "allowed." They are not. They know the risks and decide to accept them in view of the rewards. So what would Con recommend as the procedure by which some are allowed and others are not?

C2. Objective Standards. Con seems to have mistaken my entire point about the use of statistics. My point was not about identifying who is an expert. My point was about identifying what, according to the government, is dangerous. If something is deemed dangerous, then, according to Con, a person should not have a right to do it. The government may or may not allow it, but there is no right to make the dangerous choice. So if 500 people are injured on stairs, then they may be deemed dangerous, and hence subject to government regulation.

Con argues that objective standards exist for every activity, by which a person is judged an expert or not. There are none for stuntmen, Con's prime example. There are no such standards for most dangerous sports. There are none for most of the dangerous occupations: fishermen, loggers, or farmers. http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com... Some activities are inherently dangerous, without regard to experience. The dangerous occupations are in that category. Government might decide that fishing in rough weather is too dangerous. A comfortable bureaucrat will decide. Con specifically states that such activities though too dangerous must be disallowed.

Because there are no objective standards for what is dangerous, the government can control whatever it wishes. The point of something being a right is that the government must make a compelling case to restrict your rights, but if it is a privilege, then no case need be made. For example, the right to free speech can be restricted, but the government must prove that doing so is justified in terms of preserving others rights. If free speech were a privilege, there is no obstacle to arbitrary restrictions. Regimes that restrict speech do so with the claim that such speech is dangerous.

Con argues that the state is the only institution that allows us "all to have our voices heard." He cites McDonald's as an example. McDonald's is extremely responsive to the desires of it's customers. They adjust menus http://www.montrealgazette.com... and have great concern over customer complaints. ("BBB has determined that McDonald's meets BBB accreditation standards, which include a commitment to make a good faith effort to resolve any consumer complaints." http://www.bbb.org... ) Con's problem is that people who are not customers are not able to control the hamburger-eaters. Perhaps a enlightened bureaucracy could force them to eat tofu. This is called "the tyranny of the majority" which someone dined as "the right of the 51% to pee on the cornflakes of the 49%." What it is about is _control_. The argument is that an elite should decide what is best for each person and then force it.

There is no chance that questions of what is dangerous would be put to voters. Americans would never declare hamburgers to be dangerous, and they would never be asked. The way it would work is that an empowered bureaucracy, properly educated at elite institutions, would make all the decisions under the premise that they are smart and everyone else is dumb.

Pro argues that democratic government works because "the strength of these opinions generally directly translates into the decisions made by the government. What we should and should not be allowed to do is something we all have our own opinions about." I believe that is the major weakness of democratic government. Loud voices do tend to prevail, and they do so at the expense of the rights of the individual. Loud voices are often ideologues, who are the dumbest people in society, not the smartest. That's why we need rights to protect individuals from the tyranny of the majority. The "majority" in practice, is often not the numerical majority, but the majority of strident true believers.

P4. Government restrictions on choice are unneeded and ineffective

Right now, Jackie Chan gets to choose his stunts, fishermen decide when to set out to sea, and the dangerous professions are self-regulated by individual judgment. Ski resorts restrict who goes on what slope based upon their concern over a reputation for safety, and because of the costs of insurance. There is no problem for government to solve.

Genuinely foolish people who endanger themselves are not in the least impressed by government rules.

larztheloser

Con

This is the round where I refute my opponent's case, including his case against my case. Since I don't have the letter count for a cool intro, let's get right into it!

Pro 1. Restrictions unjust
My opponent argues that since bureaucrats do not know you, your risks and rewards, they will be making their claims about your ability based on statistics. That's not how it works. Look at car licenses: the government doesn't profile people's right to drive based on crash statistics. Rather, they say that if you can pass the test, you're good enough. That is a fairly accurate way of assessing how dangerous your choices are. We don't just let anyone be a doctor or lawyer because we recognize there is a high level of risk involved. Do we exclude certain doctors based on statistics? No. We examine their ability.
If my opponent is advocating justice, discrimination based on who you are should be irrelevant to his calculation - otherwise the argument only promotes arbitrary inequality. Further irrelevant is the reward. If I don't want to be a doctor, I won't go to medical school and sit the test. If we have no reward, we won't need to make the choice.
Finally, my opponent states that informing somebody of the risk goes far enough. First this was only an assertion, second it's an untrue one - we don't just warn people of the dangers of lighting fires near a tank of LPG, we actively prohibit it, and for good reason.

Pro 2. Progress depends on risk
I don't think the risks necessary for progress should be taken by just anybody. Without proper training I should not go on a commercial fishing boat. The fact is that we catch more than enough fish already - indeed many people fear that we are over-fishing! We need to examine the ability of people who take dangerous risks for us to make sure that the risk has been as minimized as is possible.
The next stage of this argument is that I am apparently only advocating for wasting money on bureaucrats who slow development time and scare people. On the first point, the cost of qualifying somebody to take a risk is offset by the savings of not having millions foolishly take that risk. Not having a system in place undermines necessary training for dangerous professions and thereby endangers everyone who is employed by those industries - as well as annoying us, who will end up having less fish after all the fishermen are killed in storms. On the second point, development time is not slowed by ensuring minimum standards of competence for dangerous work - indeed, it is sped up because everyone always has a minimum skill set. Finally, yes, my opponent is right to claim that some do not have the courage to front up to "bureaucratic" events, such as a rally safety briefing. If that's the case, those drivers won't have the courage to make a dangerous choice while under the pressure of driving at insane speeds down poor-condition roads, and therefore probably shouldn't be driving.
Finally he claims that it is fundamental to human freedom to be allowed to make dangerous choices. That is saying that nothing is a privilege because every choice is a fundamental human freedom and therefore our non-absolute right. If my opponent denies the existence of privileges, how can he claim to prove that making dangerous choices is not one!?

Pro 3. Government-enforced slavery
My opponent opens this point by mentioning smoking is not a burden on others. However for an individual, smoking cannot be done safely. You can make it more dangerous for yourself, but you cannot smoke safer than the default. The trouble is that the default is incredibly dangerous. 18.1% of all deaths in the United States are attributable to tobacco (http://www.csdp.org...). As I have gone on to show, the role of the state is to stop us doing stupid things. It cannot be safe, so it must be stupid.
Then my opponent asks where we draw the line. Easy. The line is drawn at the point where there is no safe way to do something dangerous. That's why we have building codes for staircases which, in many cases, force homeowners to not have their stairs too small. If we can't do something safely, we shouldn't be allowed to do it.
Then we read that since governments ban dangerous choices, they ban all choices they might consider dangerous, which leads to a statedom of prayer and ceremony, which leads to us losing our souls. Again this is pure rhetoric. I have given clear reasons why governments cannot ban all choices, and even if they did, there is no causal link between banning choices and mandating prayer.
He also claims the alternative is self-responsibility. But I'm only advocating legislating against taking actions that are so dangerous for an inexperienced individual as to be necessarily irresponsible!

Pro 4. Ineffective?
My opponent claims people regulate these things themselves. If that were the case, then legislating for the minimum standard that already exists won't have any negative impact, because nothing will change. However I don't think people do regulate themselves. This is like my opponent is assuming his all-seeing power is guiding us under the status quo! The reason why we compromise our safety so often is because the standards don't exist.
Then my opponent asserts that people don't care for standards (1-sentence wonder argument). I doubt that too. Most employers today look for qualified people. That in itself will get people caring about standards.

Con 1. Not everyone is an expert
It is irrelevant whether somebody is actually able to pilot a light aircraft or surf by some rocks. What is relevant is the risk they take on in doing so. That's why many beaches have flags telling us where it is safe to swim. Making the dangerous choice to swim by the rocks is bad because of the danger involved, regardless of whether the kids were lucky enough to not get hurt. And yes, pro surfers could get hurt on those rocks too (just as Jackie Chan might mess up a stunt) but the point is that their experience reduces that risk. I argue that reducing the risk should be the basis for rights.
Next we hear a refutation of my claim that objective standards exist for stuntmen, dangerous sports, or dangerous jobs. First, agents won't represent stuntmen unless they can show that they can do the stunts. Usually this means going to one of the hundreds of stuntmen schools out there. The standard is objectively set by the coordinator for each movie. Second, dangerous sports are closely monitored by competition organizers and training facilities. You can't do any white-water rafting without several hours of expert instruction. Third, the standard for dangerous jobs depends on the job and is set both by the companies that run these operations and local regulation. You can't start up a commercial fishing operation without some understanding of fishing laws, for instance local quotas.
It might be objected that many of these standards are already set by society, so why the government interference? Again, there are some people who just don't play by the rules society establishes. This is a problem for us to fix.

Con 2. Role of State
Here we only one attack, "tyranny of the majority" - democracy is not always fair. He's right. But the cause of this unfairness is bad democracy. As I have shown, the multitude of loud opinions conflict each other, meaning they'll never get majority support, so only the non-controversial opinions usually get resolved. Sometimes it is true this does not happen. But we're dealing with the purpose of the government here. That a few abuse the system should not mean the voices of the many get ignored. Here the voices are calling for standards. I'm saying - let them be heard!
A minor related point was raised that the government will be egoistic. First, no evidence. Second, they have a strong mandate not to be, as I have shown already.

With all my opponent's points addressed, I look forward to my sum-up next round!
Debate Round No. 3
RoyLatham

Pro

Con says, "the role of the state is to stop us doing stupid things. It cannot be safe, so it must be stupid." If true, then every explorer, entrepreneur, policeman, fireman, participant in a risky occupation, or athlete in a risky sport is stupid. He says that if an activity cannot be done safely it ought to be banned. That model permeates his side of the debate.

My model of behavior is that it is reasonable to take risks appropriate to the rewards. What is "appropriate" depends upon the individual's assessment of the risk and the individual's assessment of the rewards. There is a role for government when the public is potentially put at risk, but not when the risk is personal. And what if a person wrongly assesses risks and rewards? It's not up to government to make that judgement, so long as only the individual is at risk.

1. Restrictions on dangerous choices are unjust


Pro claims that the government can administer tests to determine who is qualified to undertake risks and who is not. Education would be required as preface to the testing, so that the process of gaining expertise. So if you want to skateboard or start a business, you start by getting a proper education then are certified by passing a government test. this is unjust because it does not take into account an individual's ability to assess situations and stay within one's limits. Your parents know our character and accordingly what you can do safely. The government can only set a passing grade and mark you unqualified if you are one point below that. It is also unjust because it does not take into account how important it is to you to skateboard or start a business. If you fail the test by a few points or even more than a few points, it is unjust to deny you the right to do as choose based upon someone else's belief that you are stupid to accept risk.

2. Progress depends upon taking risk

I used fishing as an example of a risky occupation. It is inherently risky, because fisherman are subject to the uncertain forces of nature. But we need fishermen. Con responds that we probably have too many fishermen, due to stories of overfishing. Con's premise is that if an occupation is inherently risky, it must be banned. He considers only risks, not rewards. So it isn't a question of whether we might get by with fewer fishermen, a issue is getting rid of the entire endeavor of fishing. Of course, my example was representative of the entire spectrum of risky occupations: timbering, police, farming, entrepreneurship, and so forth.

Pro argues that things can be done to reduce risk. Sure, but the occupations cited are inherently risky and Con claims that everything that cannot be made safe must be abandoned. That follows from his premise that risk taking is stupid. I clam it is perfectly reasonable to take risks in view of rewards. One reason is that risk is needed for progress in society.

Pro argued that risk can be eliminated by requiring education, followed by passing a government test. That forbids participating in any new activity identified as risky because there are no educational programs for activities never practiced, nor can there be a test for expertise. Progress cannot be made without new activities, some of which entail risk.

3. Government enforces ideology through the guise of risk control

Con cites a calculation that smoking causes 18% of all deaths. There is no doubt that smoking is bad for health. However, if the government banned smoking, those people would not live forever. The worst of heavy smokers would have a life expectancy increased by 8.8 years compared to non-smokers. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov... Less smoking is proportionately less dangerous. However, we don't know if smokers denied cigarettes would adopt some other risky behavior, like eating too much. The cited statistics make clear that obesity and lack of exercise are also dangerous behaviors. So government must intervene again to ensure that every person behaves in accordance with the ideological principle that avoiding risk is the most import thing.

Are people wise to reduce their life expectancy by smoking? I say it is up to them. The risks are well known. It's up to them to decide.


4. Government restrictions on choice are unneeded and ineffective

The cited statistics show that only 4% of deaths are due to injury. Roughly half of those are traffic deaths, which are already subject to government licensing and testing. Of the 2% remaining, we don't know how many are do accidents that are not preventable (natural disasters, lightning strikes) or are already controlled by government (industrial accidents, airplane crashes, medical malpractice). We don't know the exact numbers, but the deaths from injuries due to unsupervised dangerous decisions must be well below 1%. This affirms my commonsense assertion that people are naturally concerned about their own safety, and it refutes Con's notion that most people are stupid and need parent-like supervision

Con 1. Not everyone is an expert

The point of my anecdote about kids surfing into rocks is that what they were doing was in fact safe. It was obvious they were expects, and there parents knew it. Con attributed it to luck and deemed in unsafe. Take those same kids and put them on bicycles in New York City and they would be in serious danger. City kids can navigate the streets, but best stay away from ocean surf.

Con compares government to responsible parenting. Most parents know the capabilities of their children so they can judge. Government cannot possibly have that knowledge. Therefore the judgements of government are unfair. When public safety is involved, we tolerate the unfairness to favor the public. When the individual is only risking himself, there is no grounds for the unfairness.

Con claimed that objective tests of expertise exist for every dangerous activity. Parental judgement are subjective, not objective. Stunt coordinators and agents select stuntmen based upon subjective, not objective, criteria. Some stuntmen attend school, some do not. Only Jackie Chan decides what he can do. Employers of fishermen, timbermen, and farmers make subjective choices. Nothing prevents individuals from, say, farming, on their own. Entrepreneurs are almost entirely self-selected.

Con 2. Role of State

Con claimed that my argument was "democracy is not always fair." That's not it. Con's premise is that taking risk is stupid. Imposing that value on everyone is inherently unfair. Beyond that, government must also decide what is dangerous, what it takes to qualify for taking risk, and whether in fact the activity should be prohibited altogether. All will be determined by bureaucracy, not by vote of the population. Bureaucrats are by nature both ideological and risk averse.

Con never responded to this argument. He implicitly agreed by assuming that everyone enforcing his concept would agree with his ideology that taking risk is stupid.

Summary

I have no problem with government taking steps to protect public safety.and labeling risks. It's debatable how much of that is worthwhile. Children are subject to parental judgment because children lack experience and knowledge.

The debate is about whether people shave a right to grow up and make dangerous choices for themselves. It's self-evident that they have the right to do so, and unfair to deny that right. The public will never be allowed to decide what is safe; it will be done by ideological bureaucrats who are risk averse. People are naturally cautious, and the statistics bear that out. Some people take foolish risks, but those people are likely to act foolishly regardless of government rules.

Society benefits substantially from people who make dangerous decisions. We need every explorers, entrepreneurs, policeman, fireman, fishermen, timbermen, and farmers. All those pursuits are inherently dangerous. We even benefit from Jackie Chan and those who take risks for the sake of thrills. They teach us what is possible.
larztheloser

Con

Since this is the last round, I will not offer new substantive contentions and will simply sum up how I see the debate. First, if you scroll back to round one, you'll see that I opened my case with the generalization "exceptionally dangerous choices should only be taken in exceptionally dangerous circumstances." As you can see, I don't want to prevent risk-taking. I want to protect risk-takers. I want to make sure that firemen, lumberers and policemen alike have the qualifications they need to do their job. I say people who train for years to be a stuntman should be privileged over those who have no experience whatsoever. I told you, in round two, why this is in principle - because expertise is the basis of freedom. I also proved why the state should enforce this. My model gives these benefits.

Pro has ultimately attacked this analysis from six angles (excluding three or four dropped points), some of which were repeated and rehashed across multiple points. The analysis that he ignored was that his model undermines training institutions, forcing them to shut down and making dangerous decisions even more dangerous. This is important. His model is not only allowing poor decision makers to make dangerous decisions, but even dwindling the pool of good decision makers until all our choices are made by unqualified people. Again, he did not respond. I also made a minor point about sped-up development time, to which I saw no response.

First, he says we should also account for an individual's self-responsibility and utility in assessing people, which of course we can't. On the first issue, I have already told you that self-responsibility cannot be objectified and therefore would only be discriminate if included. Furthermore it isn't playing out in reality - most doctors are responsible. On the second issue, I told you last round that everyone who wants to do something will have a reward, so reward can be assumed. On all of these points, my opponent gave you no response.

Second, he claims new activities don't have standards and therefore should be banned under my model. This was a new argument dropped into the last round. My simple answer is that my model already accommodates for this. We shouldn't do things just because they're new and we know how to do them. We should do things when they become safe to do. When we learn of the safe way to do something, we should be allowed to do it. If the safe way is common sense, then doing it is not a dangerous decision and therefore not relevant to the motion. When something cannot be done safely, why would we do it?

Third, he claims that when denied some risks, people might move on to more dangerous risks (such as smokers going to on more dangerous risky behavior). Again, this was a new argument dropped into the third round. The reason why people smoke is because they are pressured into it, directly or indirectly. Nobody goes around smoking for the sake of risking their life. Therefore, if we apply counter-pressure, one can reasonably predict smoking rates will drop. Look at cannabis - where legal, cannabis is smoked more frequently than where its illegal. The same pressures apply to unhealthy eating. Without extra pressure to eat unhealthily, why would people do so? Cigarettes suppress appetite slightly, but not to an unhealthy level. My opponent offered no narrative of where the pressure would come from, so the point must fall. Even if he did, I anticipated this point with my point that people care about government standards. My opponent did not respond.

Fourth, pro argues that few people die due to their own stupidity, so people are naturally risk-averse, so my model is not needed. Maybe he should have responded to my counter-analysis, that my model isn't for the many, but for the few who don't play by society's rules. He also didn't really engage with my point that smoking is a dangerous decision because it so frequently causes death, other than saying "I say it's up to them." That assertion, characteristic of much of the rhetoric in my opponent's case, was never properly substantiated. I also think he is making dodgy use of statistics, for instance, counting a freak act of nature as preventable. In any event, the point fails.

Fifth, that the tests for stuntmen or fishers are subjective, while other risk-takers, such as entrepreneurs, are almost entirely self-selected. First, I have already told you that being an entrepreneur or similar is predicated upon getting a small business loan. Even if you don't need one, not everyone can start a business, for instance, previously bankrupt people. To make a dangerous decision within a business there are usually laws requiring the decision is made with a due amount of care. Those are not subjective tests. They have each been objectified in bank codes and court cases. On dangerous occupations, there is nothing subjective about knowing fishing regulations or stunt safety procedure. Either you do or you don't. My opponent never told us why it is subjective, other than that only the people doing the professions decide what they can do. That's ignorant of my analysis in round two that these things can be tested. Of course you don't just take people's word for it - you determine their ability before you let them take the risk.

Sixth, that bureaucrats are zealous anti-risk crusaders. However, restricting choice carries political capital that ensures extreme restrictions will be voted out. Also note that my opponent is really only asserting this, having given no analysis as to why this is true. My opponent did not respond to any of this, although I gave you both points of analysis towards the end of last round. Therefore the point cannot stand.

As you can see, my model has stood the test of all six of my opponent's attacks, and therefore should win. Risk-takers can only teach us what is possible if they are actually able to succeed in taking those risks. One can never mandate the success of all highly risky activities, but the least one can do is take risks responsibly. Risks are great. I welcome challenges. I am grateful to farmers, explorers and miners, not because of the risks they took, but because of the success they've found. That success came from their expertise. We don't let anyone do anything in society - certain freedoms must be restricted for the good of ourselves and others.

Let the experts overcome the dangers. Don't leave it to amateurs. Vote con.
Debate Round No. 4
13 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by tvellalott 6 years ago
tvellalott
Will RFD tomorrow. Looks like a fun debate.
Posted by Brainmaster 6 years ago
Brainmaster
:O he mentioned KFC without Koopin immediately posting
Posted by Rockylightning 6 years ago
Rockylightning
Roy friend me
Posted by RoyLatham 6 years ago
RoyLatham
When I was a kid, I played with mercury. It's not very toxic so long as you don't eat it, which I didn't. A local hermit (yes, there were hermits back then) used to eat a spoonful of mercury every spring, pronouncing it "Spring Cleaning." He lived to old age, although no one is quite sure how.

As a kid, I collected bugs, and my Dad showed be how to dispatch wasps quickly with cyanide. I suffered no harm. It requires moderate care.

Those things were acceptable risks back then. Today, extreme sports are acceptable risks, while mercury and cyanide are not. I'll bet that skateboard tricks and the like would have been thought unacceptably dangerous back then. What is perceived as a acceptable risk depends upon the times. Now toxins are out, and broken bones are okay.
Posted by larztheloser 6 years ago
larztheloser
Not denying that. My point isn't about cognitive ability though. I should know.
Posted by TheFreeThinker 6 years ago
TheFreeThinker
I don't want to steal the debate from RoyLatham, but there is a difference between cognitive ability and education.
Posted by larztheloser 6 years ago
larztheloser
Regardless of your cognitive ability, if you have not been to university and learnt how to handle mercury, you die. It makes no difference if you know why you dropped dead, because you are dead.
Posted by TheFreeThinker 6 years ago
TheFreeThinker
It does very well make a difference because a minor lacks the rudimentary skills needed to understand the consequences of his actions, weather an adult is responsible for himself.
It is not about experience but about cognitive abilities.
Posted by larztheloser 6 years ago
larztheloser
It's not relevant to the argument. The whole thing about minors is to illustrate the concept that experience determines whether you should be allowed to make a dangerous choice. I could have used any generic inexperienced person in the child's place, but a child is nice and easy to use as an example of a generic inexperienced person plus it saves a few letters.
Posted by TheFreeThinker 6 years ago
TheFreeThinker
You guys should clarify what you mean with "people", since Larz already started arguing with minors...
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by baggins 6 years ago
baggins
RoyLathamlarztheloserTied
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Total points awarded:23 
Reasons for voting decision: Point by point, Con addressed each argument raised by Pro. However Pro's argument was much more easier to read and understand. I really had to look at it point by point before I realized that the rebuttal is in fact strong! 3:2 to Con
Vote Placed by Cliff.Stamp 6 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
RoyLathamlarztheloserTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro has the BoP and creates an argument ad absurdum. Larz does offer a solid counter argument but the reasons are often hard to follow due to the high word count and lack of summary objectives. A balanced argument, but the BoP forces a dominant position fromPro which was not obtained 3:2 larz
Vote Placed by Double_R 6 years ago
Double_R
RoyLathamlarztheloserTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pros case was more convincing and easier to follow. I found his refutation of Cons role of the state argument most compelling.
Vote Placed by headphonegut 6 years ago
headphonegut
RoyLathamlarztheloserTied
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Reasons for voting decision: The argument that really stood out in this debate was pros second argument of risks are necessary for improvement which con did not effectively refute
Vote Placed by TheFreeThinker 6 years ago
TheFreeThinker
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro had more convincing arguments, especially arguing that government disguises ideology as risk and that Government restrictions on choice are unneeded and ineffective