Plants ought to have the right to vote
The Burden of Proof is split evenly.
plants - the group of organisms in the kingdom Plantae
right - legal guarantee
vote - a formal indication of a choice between two or more candidates or courses of action, expressed typically through a ballot or a show of hands or by voice.
ought - have a moral obligation to
**Actually read the definitions. I've had two debates that had to end abruptly because my opponents simply do not understand that this is a debate about the ethics or impacts of botanical suffrage, NOT the feasibility. I know it's not feasible, don't argue that, that's not the point of the debate.
1. Follow structure
2. You accept to the round structure and resolution, terms, etc. as provided in R1. These cannot be changed.
3. No deconstruction semantics. plagiarism, trolling or forfeiture.
Round 1. Acceptance ("I accept" will do)
Round 2. Constructive arguments
Round 3. Rebuttals
Round 4. Defense
Carry on my wayward son!
[I haven't ever done LD or listened to it so I'm going to try a format of it, you don't have to. I probably messed didn't do it right since I don't think stats are allowed in LD but whatever don't yell at me]
I affirm the resolved: plants ought to have the right to vote.
My value today is justice, simply and traditionally defined as giving each their due. The criterion for upholding justice is the upholding of human rights in plants. Prefer this value because it is something that is the overarching virtue of all individuals, as Plato writes in Republic. Prefer this criterion because the codification of human rights is the act of giving each individual their moral dues, entirely upholding justice in the broadest sense of the word.
Observation 1. Human rights extend beyond the human.
Baxi of the University of Warwick, 1998, writes:
This means that viewing human rights as a solely human endevour is anthropocentric and not what human rights is really about. Human rights extend to non-humans, such as plants.
Observation 2. Democracy is a human right.
The United Nations in 2015 write:
Thus, democracy is something that protects human rights overall, and must be upheld when we look at the value I provided. We must extend democracy to plants in order to affirm human rights; something warranted by both the prior observation and this one.
This means that there is a net benefit in the economy when there is an increase in democracy or a democracy is established, empirically. Countries with higher rGDP per capita have higher interest rates: this means that while the marginal propensity to consume is the same, there is a higher benefit for those that choose to save: an increase in cash available - people are positively effected because they are able to consume more under the same amount of income.
A lack of democratisation or a lower amount of democracy means that interest rates are low: hurting consumers for choosing to save their money. Inflation rates often outpace the interest rates, meaning that people are losing money and can consume less with the same income.
Contention 2. Botanical suffrage solves terrorism
Foot, Professor of International Relations, St. Anthony’s College, Oxford, 2003 says:
As said earlier, suffrage is an inherent human right; and Foot here is saying that denying human rights is the mark of a country that can harbor a terror cell. The US has a moral obligation to protect the lives of its citizens in order for it to continue to exist; if there are no people left alive due to terrorism, the government has failed its job and must cease to exist. There are thousands of lives saved when we don't ignore human rights - therefore, we should notice the impact of refusing to give human rights (chiefly, suffrage) to plants is a large humanitarian one.
Contention 3. Botanical suffrage solves genocide.
Hoffman, Chair of the International Executive Committee of Amnesty International, Nov 2004 states:
If we disregard the human rights of plants, we are advocating for the United States to possibly commit genocide against its own citizens because it has the ability to. Having human rights such as suffrage in plants allows for us to prevent millions of deaths worldwide simply because we allow for plants to have a say in their own life.
I would like to thank my opponent for starting this debate. I will dive right into my arguments. All readers, please be aware that R2 is for my constructive arguments. I will not be refuting my opponent until next round, so please do not mistake any arguments as “dropped.”
Since this is an “ought” debate, it is entirely about the moral and ethical values. I will be looking at two separate morality perspectives, both of which will show why Plants ought to have no rights at all, let alone the right to vote.
For those not familiar Utilitarian Ethics, it is basically that we have a moral duty to do what maximizes utility . From there we must look at if recognizing human rights within plants will increase utility or not. We can see several clear examples of how this can cause negative utility and as such, ought not to be done.
a) Extreme manipulation of our current political system. It goes with little saying, that plants, physically, are incapable of voting. However, with the right to vote established, they fall under voter assistance. Essentially, the “guardian” of the plant (since they can no longer be owned) now holds the votes of every plant . This undermines the basic fabric of democracy. Since we already know how democracy positively influences the economy , we can conclude that anything that harms democracy ought be avoided.
b) Collapsing the economy with minimum wages to plants. With plants obtaining human rights, that would include right to fair wages, for each plant, for the number of hours it works (sun up to sun down, lol). These costs would be incurred by the farmers (and everyone that has a lawn) and would cause food prices to soar at a rate that makes the 1923 German inflation look stable.
c) Destroy agriculture and all farming. Farmers will also get to enjoy that every time they cut down a plant to harvest it, they have just committed murder. Every time they pluck a fruit, they have committed rape (since consent is by default, not given until it is ).
All of these factors show how providing human rights to plants will negatively harm our society and has a negative utility. As such, under utilitarianism, we ought not to do this.
2) Argumentation and the Non-Aggression Principle
Given the strong libertarian presence on this board, these are probably also well known. Argumentation is the stance that the very act of engaging in a rational discussion presupposes non-aggression, and so presupposes Natural Rights based around self-ownership and the libertarian non-aggression principle . This is typically the opposite end of the moral spectrum, since it establishes rights as the ultimate form of ethics, regardless to if they cause a detriment to society. If it is not a violation of the NAP, then it is someone’s right to do. It is a simple step to note that plants are not able to engage in argumentation, since they lack cognitive abilities. As such, they do not have Natural Rights.
I will end my round with these two arguments and allow my opponent to begin their rebuttals.
Contention 1. Utilitarianism
a. Guardianship of plants.
This is simply wrong. In most of the states in the US, there is no way for a mentally incompetent being to be able to vote at all; guardianship to vote isn't a thing. I created a map below of the states that do and do not have voter competency laws, but if you want to read the data itself, it comes from the very website you linked to . Also, the map was cut off a little bit, so the yellow should read "Conflicting laws regarding incompetency".
This means that no, there is no effect on democracy because of guardianship; because guardianship of votes isn't a thing in most states in the US. My opponent concedes that democracy is a benefit so we can see that if we increased democracy to all (plants and humans alike), there would be a net benefit in the US.
b. Minimum wages to plants.
I ask: was slavery a net benefit on the economy because of the exploited labor? Of course it was a net benefit on the economy. Now, I ask my opponent: was slavery moral, with all of its free exploitation of millions of people? Of course it wasn't.
So where is the line between economic benefits and humanitarian benefits? The line is between suffering and money; if there is millions, billions, trillions of beings suffering, then it is not a moral act - even when compared to the economic benefits that may be come of it. Slaughtering 5 billion people for a $2.3 billion increase in the economy isn't a moral act, so why would slaughtering trillions of plants for an increase in economic growth be moral?
Humanitarian outweighs economic in almost all cases - and the only cases in which it doesn't is when there is a very small population and a very large economic increase (1 person to a $1 trillion increase), but with plants, we do not see the same occurance.
c. Destroys agriculture and all of farming
Maybe, but the humanitarian impact outweighs this economic one. 2 million farmers versus billions of beings which necessarily have to be moral agents; the billions of beings win.
As for your murder and rape argument; does a disabled person not have the right to life or the right to not be raped? They of course do; morality necessarily requires people (and Boxi says all living beings) to have rights like these, so while the farmers may not enjoy this, it is a necessary burden that they must have. It is bad for rapists that rape disabled people to have to come to the fact that they raped disabled people, but the impact of the rape outweighs the individual's ideas.
I really don't understand what my opponent is trying to get across within the text of the debate (admittedly, they did explain what they meant outside of the debate, but that isn't allowed to be considered by a judge). If the voter wishes to penalise me for this argument for being dropped because I don't understand it, so be it, but I think that this argument shouldn't be considered in the final vote because I just don't understand it or what its meaning is.
Please note that per our comments in the comment section, that this round for me is only to address my opponent’s round 2. I will not be defending against his round 3 in this round, so those will not count as dropped arguments.
===Observation 1: Human rights extend beyond the human===
My opponent makes an observation, quoting Upendra Baxi, but not liking to a source for the quote. This quote is actually taken from the book, Human Rights, Southern Voices page 165 . When the quote is taken in whole, we can see that Baxi is not talking about rights for plants, but rather that our human rights apply to the environment. He says, “Nor may we succumb to an anthropomorphic illusion that the range of human rights is limited to human beings; the new rights to a clean and healthy environment (or what is somewhat inappropriately, even cruelly, called “sustainable development”) take us far beyond such a narrow notion.”
Indeed, reading further on, you’ll see that the entire book has nothing to do with rights for plants and this quote was taken out of context. In addition, the purpose of the book is to argue for a different look and different view on what we perceive “human rights” to be. It is not a statement of what they are, but what the authors wish that they were.
As such, we are presented with only someone’s opinion that human rights should extend beyond humans, and no ethical foundation to support that opinion, let alone that those rights should extend to plants. This really comes down to just be one large non sequitur.
===Observation 2: Democracy is a human right===
While would normally agree that democracy is a human right (or at least the right speak and engage within government is a right). The issue with this observation is not the conclusion, but how the conclusion is reached. My opponent is basically saying that democracy is a human right because the United Nations says so. This is an appeal to authority fallacy. If my opponent accepts that the United Nation is a legitimate authority on human rights, than he automatically concedes this debate since the United Nations does not recognize the right to vote for plants. He cannot have it both ways.
All three cases can be addressed the exact same way. All three are non sequiturs. My opponent compares the impacts of extending human rights to oppressed humans and assumes that extending human rights to “oppressed” plants will have the same effect. This is comparing “apples to oranges” or “apples to orangutans” (that is as close as I could get to plants to humans while maintaining a similar structure in the phrase) to an extreme level.
My opponent already drops these. In his rebuttal, when I brought up the economic impacts under the ethical system Utilitarianism, my opponent conceded that “Maybe, but the humanitarian impact outweighs this economic one.”
Observation 1. Human rights extend beyond the human
My opponent says that the purpose of the book is to argue that human rights apply to the environment, but not plants. But really, the environment is something that encompasses all of life, and thus, plants. The environment "encompasses all living and non-living things occuring naturally on Earth" , "the biotic and the abiotic" (meaning the living and the nonliving factors that affect it) , "the air, water, minerals, organisms, and all other external factors" . Let me explain it like this:
P1. The environment includes plants
P2. The environment has human rights
C1. Plants have human rights
Now, you claim that the authors are just claiming what the wish the rights were; that's not true. Baxi is explicitly arguing for the recognition of human rights for the environment (and all of its components), and if we don't give rights to the environment, we are living in an anthropocentric society, something that they claim is a net harm.
Observation 2. Democracy is a human right
You say that we shouldn't consider this observation because it came from an organisation that doesn't approve of plant rights; but how is this the case? They are for the codification of human rights and, as Baxi argues, plants have human rights to be considered. They have not released a statement concerning the rights of plants; saying that they have a negative or positive one is fallacious because then we are just putting words in their mouth. They haven't said anything, so my opponent cannot claim that they are against plant rights.
I am arguing for a change in the status quo, and if the UN doesn't think that plants don't have human rights (which they do or they don't - we cannot tell), then we can still consider what they say are human rights and apply them to this change. The US government can argue that marriage is a fundamentally human right, but they can say nothing about gay marriage; does it logically follow that by citing the US government on the issue of marriage, you concede that gay marriage is bad? Of course not, because you are advocating for a change in the status quo and because they haven't released any statements about the status quo.
Even if my opponent's refutations hold up, there is one thing that doesn't; how they can argue that democracy is something good and we need to protect it at all costs (they even argue we need to do this for plants when we consider giving them rights), but say that applying democracy to plants is a non sequitur. They argue that giving plants the right to vote has an impact positively on the economy (they conceded this in R2), but they argue that it breaks the foundation for democracy; then they are saying that we can't talk about democracy because it's only about humans.
Baxi says that we need to recognise human rights for the environment (something that you agree that they are arguing); democracy is a human right; democracy stops all of these bad things (genocide, terrorism, war) and promotes good things (the economy, as you concede). Therefore we need to prevent genocide, terrorism, war at all costs to protect people as well as plants - something that is never actually refuted by you, you just say that we can't apply human rights to these things because they are fundamentally human and it's non sequitur.
My opponent concedes that democracy benefits the economy (R2: "since we already know how democracy positively influences the economy"), drops my terrorism argument saying it's non sequitur when this isn't the case, and drops genocide for the same reason, we can see that my case is left intact.
My opponent's arguments are refuted (that giving plants the right to vote breaks the concept of democracy, other human rights need to be considered, destroy agriculture (like stopping slavery stopped slavery)), except for the one that doesn't make any sense to me in its wording (NAP).
We need to weigh the economy, stopping terrorism, and stopping genocide against the Non-Agression Principle. Obviously, the non-agression principle has no real-world impacts that are realisable, so we can only vote in affirmation.
I would like to thank my opponent for this interesting debate topic and remind voters that this round only is only to address my opponent’s R3. I will not refute anything in their R4 as that would not be fair (since they cannot address my R4). I will however, make a statement about their R4 at the end.
=== Utilitarianism ===
My opponent states that guardianship to vote “is not a thing.” I never said that it was. On page 20 of my original R2 , it states “People who need help in voting because of a disability have the right to help from a person of their choice. This can be a family member, a friend, a caregiver, a poll worker or almost anyone else.” Since plants are physically unable to vote, their right to vote would be passed on to the person of their choice.
My opponent attempts to dismiss this by stating that “there is no way for a mentally incompetent being to be able to vote at all…” However, we are arguing about giving plants the right to vote. Mental incompetency removes the right to vote. Because of this, my opponent cannot argue that plants have the right to vote, but cannot because of mental incompetency, since that is no right to vote. “Laws that bar people who are mentally incompetent… are used to take away a person’s right to vote…” [1, page 12]. It would be an argument of semantics (and thus a violation of my opponent’s own rules) to suggest that they have the right to vote, but they don’t because of mental incompetency (see R1 rules).
b) Minimum Wage
This Minimum wage argument falls under the ethic compass of Utilitarianism, to show that under such ethical codes, we ought not grant plants the right to vote. Humanitarianism falls outside the realm of this ethical code. Also, Slavery is not a net benefit to the economy , just saying.
c) Destroys agriculture and all of farming.
My opponent concedes this aspect as well, once again turning to humanitarianism, which does not fall under Utilitarianism.
As such, we can see that from a Utilitarian stand point, there is no ethical reason to grant plants any rights, let alone the right to vote.
=== Argumentation Ethics ===
Granted, it would be better if I called this “Discourse Ethics” however, I did expand upon this to my opponent. This is an ethical system that defines ethics and rights by our ability to engage in Discourse and rational arguments. By not being able to engage in discourse, plants have no rights under Discourse ethics or Argumentation ethics.
=== Humanitarianism ===
My opponent does not advocate Humanitarianism as a moral code in his opening round, but brings it up extensively in his rebuttals. As such, I will address it now as a counter to their rebuttals. Humanitarianism ethics is “the doctrine that humanity’s obligations are concerned wholly with the welfare of the human race.”  As such, plant rights do not fall under humanitarianism.
=== Conclusion ===
My opponent has not once provided an ethical construct that justifies providing any rights to plants, let alone the right to vote. I have provided two of the most common ethical systems and shown how neither of them suggest that plants ought to have the right to vote. My opponent has kind of provided one in their refutations (but none in their original arguments) which has been easily defeated. As such there are no grounds left to stand on to support the resolution.
=== Closing remarks ===
I strongly recommend double checking every source and every claim of this debate. While I will not refute anything my opponent said in their R4, they stated “They argue that giving plants the right to vote has an impack positively on the economy (they conceded this in R2).” Please look back over my R2 to see if I ever “conceded” this, especially in my arguments about Utilitarianism and how this would destroy the economy.