The Instigator
Pro (for)
The Contender
Con (against)

Policing, law enforcement, or security services provided by government is immoral

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/28/2016 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 588 times Debate No: 98494
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (8)
Votes (0)




R1: Acceptance
R2: Argument
R3: Rebuttal
R4: Closing Remarks(only limited new argument if absolutely necessary)

I am taking that position that modern policing that is, all protection, security and law enforcement currently provided by governments is immoral. I will try to argue generally but my frame of reference is the United States.


I accept, good luck.
Debate Round No. 1


Some say the most important attributes of job in law enforcement are the person's integrity and moral behavior. In order to be a law enforcement officer, individuals must demonstrate a life lived morally within certain criteria. However, what about the profession as a whole as it relates to government administration of law enforcement. There are several issues with regard to the morality of law enforcement.

1) Government in and of itself is not moral.

Government functions based upon the initiation of force against those subject to it. Government is a monopoly on force within a specified geographical area for purposes of social control or order. The primary easy example of this is how governments fund themselves via taxation. If you don't pay taxes you will presented with increasing levels of threats and force up to and including death in the extreme if you physically resist you arrest for 'tax evasion'. It is a generally accepted moral principle that hitting others and taking their stuff is wrong. Just because a large group called government want to doesn't suddenly make those actions moral. Some would argue in favor of social contract theory, however social contracts are not a valid form of contract. In practice the social contract assumes that some people can enter into a contract and force others to comply. Social contract theorists call this the "general will". It is the same as me buying a house and making you pay for it.

2) Many laws made by governments are immoral, wicked, or unjust.

Law enforcement officials have some limited discretion in some enforcement situations but by taking on the profession they agree to enforce all the laws of the state. Laws that have no victims(speeding, drug possession, prostitution and so forth) amount to edicts limiting human liberty and enforcement of such amounts to immoral initiation of force as I have previously described.

3) Law enforcement culture fosters immoral behavior

Punch (2009) describes the journey of some police officers as they travel from being moral civilians to immoral police officers. This often occurs because indoctrination into the police culture can negatively affect police recruits" ethical behavior and have disastrous consequences (Souryal, 2011). Punch (2009) states that the result is the slippery slope during which immoral decisions start as minor breaches of organizational or occupational rules and evolve into major corruption.
We see this come to fruition with shootings of unarmed people by police, the targeting of people of color and minorities, and general ability of police officers to get away with minor crimes and violations by having the "brothers in blue" cover things up for them. It also manifests in the way police handle certain situations with excessive force as often the militaristic indoctrination into police culture hypes up violent attitudes among the police.

4) Subjecting all protection services to market forces of capitalism could produce better outcomes

When protection and security is subjected to market forces of measured outcomes and economic resource and customer movement we see better outcomes. By better outcomes I mean few deaths, improper use of force incidents, and better metrics that measure the prevention of victimization. One such example of this in action is the private company of the 'Threat Management Center' in Detroit, Michigan. They have not had one agent or protected client killed and none of their agents have been involved in crime or moral turpitude action. The use profitability from protecting corporate clients to teach free self-defense classes and protect whole neighborhood in Detroit where government police response is lacking. We see this type of positive result over and over again in the private security and protection industry where government police fails at their primary directive to protect property and life.

Some may argue that government based police provide some good and lifesaving services. I would agree with that statement. However, that does not mean that government and its inherent aggression is the only way to provide such protection. We need to seek out ethical alternatives to what we currently have.

Punch, M. (2009). Police Corruption: Deviance Accountability and Reform in Policing. Portland, Oregon: Willan Publishing.

Souryal, S. (2011). Ethics in Criminal Justice: In Search of the Truth (5th Edition). Burlington, Maine: Elsevier.


In this argument I will be using this as the definition of morality: principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior.

My BoP is to prove that Policing, Law Enforcement, and Security Services are moral.

C1: Law Enforcement
To understand this contention it is imperative that we understand the harm of one person for the sake of others to be objectively moral. Let us assume we have a criminal, and he partakes in a crime with victims. If we punish our criminal, and the punishment has proven a deterrent effect, thereby reducing the number of victims of the same crime. If we assume that this is the best way to reduce the rate of crime, we can then be able to claim that our actions are moral. The assumptions that I have created in this scenario are as follows: All crimes have victims, our current state of law enforcement proves a deterrent effect, and that our current method of punishment is the best way to diminish crime. If I successfully prove these assumptions then we can reach the conclusion that law enforcement is moral.

The first assumption that most, if not all, crimes have victims. I have found that the simplest way to prove this point is to list crime that many people have assumed to be victimless, and then prove that these crimes have victims I will analyze three crimes that many people assume do not have victims. The crimes I will analyze are, drug possession and use, piracy, and prostitution.

First on the list is drug possession and use. In cases of drugs with smoke such as marijuana a major problem is second hand smoke. Second hand smoke, or SHS, is a severe issue. It most affects children who live in the home of the smoker. SHS is also a major problem in workplaces where smoking is not banned.SHS causes cancer along with other major health problems like lung infection or a weak immune system(1). A study shows that 53 thousand people die each year from second hand smoke, most of them children(2). Drug addiction and use also has severe effects on the abuser’s family and friends(3). The mental trauma that drug use causes to families involved allows us to classify the families as victims of drug abuse.

Piracy is a crime with of victims. It is painfully obvious that the victims of piracy are the companies that produce the music or movies that are being pirated. Ever since a file sharing site called Napster was released music sales in the US dropped 47%. It is estimated that between 2004 and 2009 30 million songs were pirated(4). The colossal scope of this problem justifies piracy being a crime with victims.

Prostitution biggest victims are the prostitutes themselves. 62% of women have been raped in prostitution, and 73% report physical assault(5). If we were to accept prostitution as a viable job option, then more of our young girls would become prostitutes. In Spain where prostitution is legal there is even a college for prostitutes(6).

My second assumption is the easiest to prove. Punishments have a deterrent effect, if they didn’t our criminal justice system would be an utter failure. I do not speed my car because I do not want a ticket, not because there is a law. I believe that it is easy to assume that punishments prove a deterrent effect.

The last assumption is the hardest to prove, that there is no better alternative. There are two options that seem a little viable, a trust based system and a reward for innocence system. I will explain why both of these options fall flat.

A trust based system would quickly fall apart. If a criminal committed a crime in a trust based system, the criminal would be deported. But that does not repay the cost of the crime. We have no way to make sure people do not follow the rules in a trust based system, and the government would quickly fall apart. A trust based government is not a viable option.

The second, and seemingly more promising, option is a reward based government. The Idea is that if you have done nothing wrong then you get rewarded. There are a few problems with this option. There are about 325 million people in the US right now(7). Imagine the cost of rewarding all of these people. If the government payed everyone only 3 dollars, we would hit almost one billion dollars. If someone was to break a law and the government revoked some of their rewards, what is stopping them from commit more crimes? For these reasons our system of law enforcement and criminal justice is the only viable option.

C2: Policing
There have been recent police shooting, and now people are starting to view police as corrupt. But we have to remember there are thousands of police officers that have never shot an unarmed african american. Less than a quarter of police shooting have been against african americans(8). Over 200 police officers die each year in the line of duty(9). The police are the good guys.

The police are necessary. The police uphold the laws and allow the deterrent effect I have explained. If we did not have police, then we would not have a method of upholding the law. Our police are moral, and it is illogical to suggest otherwise.

C3: Security Services
The number one priority of a government is the protection of it’s citizens. Our system of security, including background checks and US customs are to uphold that duty. To prove that security services are moral all we have to do is ask if restricting our freedom for safety is right. We are not slaves, our security services do not restrict our freedom greatly. Because of this minimal concession we make we are safe. In the US you do fear walking outside like in other countries. Therefore our security services are, in fact, moral.

Debate Round No. 2
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Debate Round No. 3
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Debate Round No. 4
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by tommylibertarian1 1 year ago
Sure, that is a generally accepted definition
Posted by EXOPrimal 1 year ago
can we agree on this definition of morality?
principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior.
Posted by tommylibertarian1 1 year ago
There are many types of anarchist philosophies. I call myself a voluntaryist. Many one put me into the anarcho-capitalist category
Posted by canis 1 year ago
The alternative ?
Posted by tommylibertarian1 1 year ago
The burden is shared. If you make any positive claims you will have a bop on those claims just as I have the bop on claims that I make.
Posted by EXOPrimal 1 year ago
One question: is BoP shared, or do you hold the BoP?
Posted by tommylibertarian1 1 year ago
I will not accept the premise that evil is necessary when we can demonstrate alternative ways of providing the same services in a more ethical fashion.
Posted by Youngastronomer 1 year ago
To be honest, law enforcement is a necessary evil. The police are 99.9% heroes protecting you from thugs, thieves, robbers, serial killers and mass murderers.
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