The Instigator
bsh1
Pro (for)
Winning
7 Points
The Contender
EndarkenedRationalist
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Redistributive Justice

Do you like this debate?NoYes+3
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
bsh1
Voting Style: Open with Elo Restrictions Point System: Select Winner
Started: 8/4/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,680 times Debate No: 59926
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (42)
Votes (1)

 

bsh1

Pro

Preface

I have been looking forward to this debate for some time. It should be fun. Thanks to Endark for agreeing to take me up on this issue!

Topic

In many cases, Justice requires the Redistribution of Resources.

Rules

1. No forfeits
2. Any citations or foot/endnotes must be provided in the text of the debate
3. No new arguments in the final round
4. Maintain a civil and decorous atmosphere
5. Violation of any of these rules or of any of the R1 set-up merits a loss

Also, for this debate, we will agree to forgo semantic arguments; however, debaters are free to dispute what "Justice" is.

Structure

R1: Acceptance
R2: Constructives
R3: Rebuttals
R4: Rebuttals
R5: Rebuttals and Closings

Thanks...

...again to Endark for what I am sure will be a fabulous debate!
EndarkenedRationalist

Con

I accept, and I would like to thank bsh1 for what will undoubtedly be a fantastic debate!
Debate Round No. 1
bsh1

Pro

Thanks to Endark for this long-awaited debate. I now will talk a little about "justice" itself, and then present my case.

JUSTICE

What is "justice?" According to Aristotle, justice is giving each their due; this is, perhaps, the most straightforward understanding of justice we can look to in trying to understand the concept. When seen in action, the idea of "giving each their due" is both an intuitively accurate description of justice, as well as a description that hits upon important theme underpinning more philosophical or formal, dictionary definitions thereof. For example, in Situation A a child has spent the whole day weeding the garden and is rewarded by her parents with the evening off. In Situation B a child has spent the whole day weeding the garden but receives no reward from her parents. Situation A is just and Situation B is unjust.

The significant difference between Situation A and Situation B is the lack of fairness. In the former, 1 act was exchanged for another. In the latter, one act was demanded for nothing in return--it is, in a sense, slavery. In everyday life we take this type of fairness for granted; for instance, when we go to work, we require that we receive wages in exchange for our work, and we would regard anything less as not only illegal, but as unfair and unjust. We are DUE our wages, just as the child was DUE her reward, and so it would be wrong to deprive us of these things. This leads me to underscore the following: fairness and justice are inextricably linked. When we discuss what is fair, we are also to some extent discussing what is just, and what is fundamentally unfair is unjust.

So, what if we were to put these two key terms (Justice and Fairness) into dictionary definitions? See here [1]:

Justice - "the quality of being just, impartial, or fair"
Fairness - "treating people in a way that does not favor some over others"


I would just add one simple qualifier regarding fairness. It is okay to treat the winner of a race differently than the loser insofar as we give one a prize and the other earns nothing; yet, it would be unfair to treat the children who weed the garden differently because they have done the exact same thing, and so should get the reward. Therefore, I would amend the dictionary definition to reflect this subtlety, and rephrase it thus: "treating people in a way that does not favor some over others based on arbitrary or nonexistent traits or differences." This can probably be put more succinctly as freedom from "prejudice or favoritism." [1]

This implies that we must treat people equally and we must value them equally. This does not imply absolute equality, but it does underscore that the principle of equality is still important to justice. [2] We cannot, as it were, pick favorites or given unearned advantages to individuals. Thus, I submit that justice rests on the plinths of fairness and equality, and that if redistributing resources in some cases in necessary to meet these two criteria, then justice will require it.

PRO's CASE

My core claim today is similar to the following: “The claim to equality does not depend on intelligence, moral capacity, physical strength, or similar matters of fact. Equality is a moral ideal, not a simple assertion of fact. There is no logically compelling reason for assuming that a factual difference in ability between two people justifies any difference in the amount of consideration we give to satisfying their needs and interests. The principle of the equality of human beings is not a description of an alleged actual equality among humans: it is a prescription of how we should treat humans." [3] I will be arguing that it is unjust and unfair to permit the existence of arbitrary advantages that empower some relative to others as this constitutes a form of partiality. Justice requires that we attempt to rectify this imbalance via redistribution.

Contention One: Inequalities are undeserved, arbitrary, and demand redress.

"We may observe that the difference principle gives some weight to the considerations singled out by the principle of redress. This is the principle that undeserved inequalities call for redress; and since inequalities of birth and natural endowment are undeserved, these inequalities are to be somehow compensated for. Thus the principle holds that in order to treat all persons equally, to provide genuine equality of opportunity, society must give more attention to those with fewer native assets and to those born into the less favorable social positions. The idea is to redress the bias of contingencies in the direction of equality...the absence of individual dessert creates a presumption in favor of regarding the distribution of talents as a common asset. The lack of desert or a pre-institutional concept of virtue means that institutions are unconstrained by antecedent moral claims in their pursuit of the primary virtue of social justice. In this sense, the analogy of manna from even is apt. The array of assets dealt by fortune is neither just nor unjust. ‘These are simply natural facts. What is just and unjust is the way that institutions deal with these facts.’ There is no reason to let assets and the benefits that flow from them lie where they fall. This would be simply to incorporate and affirm the arbitrariness of nature." [4]

Contention Two: Rewarding according to desert is difficult and often unfair.

"The distributive shares that result do not correlate with moral worth, since the initial endowment of natural assets and the contingencies of their growth and nurture in early life are arbitrary from a moral point of view. The precept which seems intuitively to come closest to rewarding moral dessert is that of distribution according to effort. Once again, however, it seems clear that the effort a person is willing to make is influenced by his natural abilities and skills and the alternatives open to him. The better endowed are more likely, other things equal, to" achieve more greatly. They have resources and natural talents that others lack, and can use them to garner an unfair advantage over others. People are, in fact, not born equally talented, and so it is wrong to exclude those who are less skilled simply because of the happenstance of birth. "The idea of rewarding dessert is impracticable. And certainly to the extent that the precept of need is emphasized, moral worth is ignored. Nor does the basic structure tend to balance the precepts of justice so as to achieve the requisite correspondence behind the scenes. It is regulated by the two principles of justice which
define other aims entirely." [4]

Contention Three: Examples.

Now that some theoretical arguments have been made, I would like us to consider some examples roots in those arguments.

Ex.1 - Falling Trees

My house was hit several years ago by a tree which collapsed during a hurricane. It was on public land and healthy, so we could not remove it, nor did we (or anyone else) see a need to remove it. Yet, the damaged cause by its fall cost us hundred of dollars. Our insurance company deemed it to be an "act of God;" in other words, an occurrence that was random and not anyone's fault. This arbitrary event left us disadvantaged in the sense that we were now deprived of a livable home. Is it not just of us to demand compensation for this misfortune, if the disaster truly was undeserved?

Ex. 2 - Tale of Two Cities

Two children are born: one in Juba, South Sudan, the other in the Hamptons, USA. Juba is a hard worker--persevering through famine and civil war to provide meager sustenance for his impoverished family. Hamptons is an entitled jerk who enjoys fast cars, sleazy women, and all the luxuries money can buy, without putting in a single ounce of effort to earn that money. By virtue of where he was born, and who he was born to, Hamptons is far better off than Juba. That is unfair and unequal; that simply because Juba is born to a poorer family in a still poorer country , he is relegated a worse life, despite the fact that he worked much harder in comparison. You cannot help where you are born or who you parents are--it is unjust that such random luck should become a determining factor in how successful you are in life. As with the child weeding the garden, we have one option that gives someone too much and we have another option that gives someone too little. A balancing act is required via redistribution.

Ex. 3 - Sheer, Dumb Luck

Two girls are born: one is a fabulous singer, the other has no special talents. The first flunks out of high school, becomes a druggie, and has a personality that can rival the Grinch before his heart grew 10 sizes. The second passes high school after much hard work and receives a degree in library sciences. The first then goes on to win American Idol, become a millionaire, have men dying to be with her, and is a public icon, while still retaining all of the odious elements of her personality that she had before. The second stays a librarian, is always struggling to make rent, and dies indebted and alone in a dusty archive somewhere in Nome, Alaska. Sheer dumb luck made one girl rich and the other poor--one was just born with good vocal chords. She didn't earn them, they just existed. And, because she didn't earn them, they weren't her due, nor were the profits of her luckiness her due. The second girl worked hard to earn her way through life, and so it seems unfair that she should not succeed, while the first girl did.

All three of these examples focus on arbitrariness, undeserved disadvantages or harms, and the ideas of fairness and equal treatment. They provide concrete exemplars of the theory behind justice and redistribution.

SOURCES

1 - http://www.merriam-webster.com...
2 - http://www.scribd.com...
3 - http://cnatkaniec.wordpress.com...
4 - https://is.cuni.cz...
EndarkenedRationalist

Con

I would like to again thank my opponent and wish him the best of luck in the debate!

JUSTICE

My opponent presents the Aristotelian definition of justice. I can accept this definition – that justice is giving each his or her due. However, there is no mandate in justice that these dues be equal, neither does 'fairness' equate to 'eqaul'. In my case, I shall demonstrate how the redistribution of resources is an injustice, that the concepts of equality and justice are not synonymous, and that equality itself may even be an injustice.

Quite simply, the debate does not merely revolve around the morally abstract notion of equality but that the redistribution of resources is necessary for justice. It is this point primarily I plan to attack.

Contention 1: People Have An Unalienable Right To Property.

The right to property can be called the foundation of Western civilization. John Locke’s theory of government went into the formation of the United States and continues to exist today as a shining beacon for the free world. In his Second Treatise of Government, Locke wrote that:

“every man has a property in his own person: this no body has any right to but himself. The labour of his body and the work of his hands, we may say, are properly his” (5:27) [1].

Even today, many people would acknowledge that the primary function of government is to protect the rights of its citizens. Everyone knows the famous rights Locke wrote about: life, liberty, and property. Government was structured to protect those rights. In The Metaphysics of Morals, philosopher Immanuel Kant wrote that the basis of government had to be freedom.

“There is only one innate right…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) [2].

The protection of property is critical for implementing the right to freedom. Kant defines property as everything “with which I am so connected that another’s use of it without my consent would wrong me” (6:245). This does not just apply to objects physically in use – according to Kant, if person A takes an apple from person B’s hand, it is just as wrong as taking an apple from B’s tree. Likewise, it would be just as wrong for arbitrator C to come in, take B’s apple, and hand it to A, unless B had sold the apple or had wronged A in a manner where the transferring of the ownership of the apple proved a just punishment.

In order to have the right to freedom, people must necessarily possess the right to use their property for their freely chosen choices. If they are controlled in how they may utilise their possessions, they can hardly be called free.

No matter how we look at redistribution, it requires the re-allotment of resources, whether already distributed or having the potential to be so. Without consent, this redistribution entails a violation of the right to property.


Contention Two: Absolute Equality Is Injustice.

The furthest logical extension of a redistribution of resources is an equality of outcome. This is something very few people outside of the communist label will dispute. Once everyone has an equal share of resources, one may look back and say, this is justice. But few would call the world envisioned in Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron” just.

“[All people] were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else" [3].

In this world, equality reigned as an absolute king. Everyone had the equal opportunity to do everything because everyone was equal. Those who were smarter had alarms embedded in their ears that went off periodically to distract their thought process; those who were faster or stronger wore weights; etc, etc. People with any natural advantage, whether it pertained to their own bodies or not, had it forcefully stripped away in violation of their rights to liberty and property.

This was a world of equality, but it was not a world of justice. In fact, the level of equality seen was an injustice. We may therefore say that equality and justice do not always go hand-in-hand.

Subpoint A: Equal Opportunity Is Not A Right.

People have a right to property, but that property should not be taken and redistributed in order to provide others with equality of opportunity. Robert Nozick notes in his book Anarchy, State, and Utopia, that life is not a race. Instead, life is a series of individual exchanges. The people partaking therein do not care about desert or handicaps but simply personal benefit.

“No centralized process judges people’s use of the opportunities they had; that is not what the process of social cooperation and exchange are for” (236).

Nature inherently makes people unequal. Attempting to forcibly remove these inequalities is itself an injustice. People may receive equal treatment, but the uncomfortable fact of the world is that people are not equal. A person may receive what they use their natural faculties to obtain. Nozick supports this as well.

“Whether or not people’s natural assets are arbitrary from a moral point of view, they are entitled to them, and to what flows from them” (226). It cannot be called unjust for a man to use his natural wit to raise a fortune while another man, born with less faculty, works for a modest salary and more than it can be called unjust for a woman born naturally fast to defeat a man born crippled. Their strengths and weaknesses lie in different fields, and attempting to use justice and redistribution to equalize that which was not meant to be equal can only result in harm.

Subpoint B: The Necessary End Of Redistrubtion Is Equality.

As long as the playing field is slanted, claims can be made that it shows favoritism and is unfair. To that end, any amount of redistributing resources short of equality does not solve the issue nor affirm the resolution. A partial redistribution is insufficent to accomplish the end of a just, flat playing field.

Contention 3: The Redistribution of Resources Violates The Individual’s Right to Property.

Now that we have established that people have a right to property and that justice need not entail equality, we can move on to the resolution at hand: that justice requires the redistribution of resources.

To take one’s property from them without their consent is theft. Theft is an injustice for exactly that reason – it violates the right to property. If A has $100,000 and B has $40,000, taking $30,000 from A and giving it to B would be an example of imposing absolute equality, as both would then have $70,000. However, while B might be happier, A would have suffered a great injustice. A’s right to property has been violated; his liberty to use his possessions as he sees fit has been stolen. B has also suffered an injustice, even if B is unaware of it. B is not entitled to A’s money, nor does B have a right to A’s money. B has gained A’s money through no virtue of his own but through circumstances beyond his control.

That A has more money than B makes them unequal in this sense, but it does not make an injustice. Making them have an equal amount, however, is an injustice. This example can easily be expanded. Many look at the wealth inequality gap in the United States and discuss how it might be equalized. But just because there is a large gap does not mean there is an injustice. The question lies with the present patterns of distribution. No matter how large or unequal the gap, if it accorded with the laws of acquisition, exchange, and trade, it is just.

‘Money’ here stood in for resources, but the analogy holds with any resource. To redistribute the resource is an injustice to both those who are redistributed from and those who are redistributed to. Since the end result is not just, and the process itself is not just, the entire concept cannot be called justice, and injustice cannot be committed in the name of justice.

Contention 4: The Redistribution of Resources Is A Reactionary 'Solution'.

The gifts bestowed on humankind, whether by God, nature, fortune, society, or the individual's own merit, are there for use. It cannot be called an injustice that an American is born into a Christian family in the United States while a Saudi woman is born in Saudi Arabia. The regime of one or the other (or both) may be called unjust, as may various circumstances that may or may not face each, but the fact of their births itself is not unjust. If we redistributed the resources one had to equalize them, what would be the result?

A redistribution of resources in order to equalize the playing field, to steal from the rich in order to benefit the poor, is an ongoing process. It is not a method of empowering the disenfranchised; it is a method of enslaving them. It sees a problem and employs a continuous violation of the right to property in order to try and rectify it. In order to maintain a level playing field, the redistribution cannot cease, for the moment it does, the unequal distribution will return. Justice can be worked toward without the redistribution of resources, which is, in itself, unjust

Therefore, all we have done is create a self-perpetuating cycle. A better, more just solution would be to enable the less fortunate to assist themselves with violating the rights of others.

I should stipulate that I am not obligated to provide and detail an alternative solution.

Once again, I thank bsh1 for this challenging debate, and I look forward to the next round!

[1] Locke, John. Second Treatise of Government.
The full text can be found here: http://www.constitution.org...

[2] Kant, Immanuel. The Metaphysics of Morals.

[3] Vonnegut, Kurt. "Harrison Bergeron."
The full text can be found here: http://www.tnellen.com...

[4] Nozick, Robert. Anarchy, State, and Utopia.
Debate Round No. 2
bsh1

Pro

Thanks, Endark! I will rebut Con's case.

C1: Right to Property

Con engages in an appeal to authority fallacy throughout this contention, saying that because X said something, it must be true. To effectively argue that (a) people have a right to property, and that (b) this right is unalienable, Con must do more that simply name-drop; he must provide reasoning, and, as yet, no such reasoning has been forthcoming.

But let us momentarily assume that property is a right, and that the reason it is important is, as Con suggests, because property is a prerequisite for freedom. This logic creates some nasty byproducts that we must consider. Suppose that freedom is the absence of coercion, or, as Kant frames it, being independent of another's will. "If we take this definition of freedom then the amount of freedom a person has is the extent to which they can act without being coerced to do (or not to do) something against their will. In a libertarian society you cannot (legitimately) do anything with another's property if they don't want you to, so your only guaranteed freedom is determined by the amount of property you have. This has the consequence that someone with no property has no guaranteed freedom, and that the more property you have, the greater your guaranteed freedom. In other words, a distribution of property is a distribution of freedom, as the libertarians themselves define it. Thus...the libertarians are saying that the best way of promoting freedom is to allow some people to have more of it than others, even when this leads to some having very little or even none." [1]

This creates an interesting paradox. Property is meant to be the right that ensures the right to freedom (you cannot be free without it), yet when we enforce unalienable, ultra-strict property rights, we consequently deny some people freedom. Property is both the supposed guarantor of freedom, and the force depriving some people of freedom.

I would suggest that property is something to which we are all entitled, but that it is not unalienable in the sense that it can be take away provided a good reason exists to do so. Humanity has created many such good reasons, including protection of the environment, historical preservation, taxation, eminent domain, national defense, etc. If I can present a good reason to restrict property rights in this case, then I believe I can still affirm the resolution. "Taking property from someone restricts their freedom, but ALL societies restrict people's freedom in some way, and libertarians themselves accept some restrictions on freedom--such as the restriction of not violating other people's property rights. The issue is then what are acceptable incursions on people's freedom and what are not." [1]

C2: Absolute Equality

Firstly, it is important to note now that I am not necessarily arguing for equality of outcome, merely equality of opportunity. Everyone deserves at equal chance at success, but that does not mean that people are due equal success. This portion of the contention does not negate my case, my advocacy, or my rebuttals. Merely, it restricts my ground.

SA: Equal Opportunity is Not a Right

Con posits that it is an injustice to redress or equalize for the arbitrariness of nature. Why? Con, in his opening, agrees that fairness and justice are linked, so why is it fair that one person born into poverty should have naturally less of a chance to advance himself than someone born into a wealthier society. Children cannot choose their parents nor can they choose the community into which they are born. This is not fair, because it is not, as Nozick incorrectly suggests, "a series of individual exchanges." Life--and success--are just as much influenced by things you cannot control as it is by things you can.

Con states: "It cannot be called unjust for a man to use his natural wit to raise a fortune while another man, born with less faculty, works for a modest salary and more than it can be called unjust for a woman born naturally fast to defeat a man born crippled." But, unfortunately, Con fails to explain WHY this is not unjust.

As Peter Singer wrote, "the claim to equality does not depend on intelligence, moral capacity, physical strength, or similar matters of fact. Equality is a moral ideal, not a simple assertion of fact. There is no logically compelling reason for assuming that a factual difference in ability between two people justifies any difference in the amount of consideration we give to satisfying their needs and interests. The principle of the equality of human beings is not a description of an alleged actual equality among humans: it is a prescription of how we should treat humans." [2] Certainly, all humans are MORALLY equal, regardless of their levels of talent.

If we buy this premise, which I think is intuitively obvious, then Con's point is negated. Consider, Endark and I are moral equals. Endark is a better singer than I am, and I am a born with low IQ and EQ. Endark succeeds because of his talent, while I fail because of my lack of talent and skill. What has essentially happened is that two morally equal agents were treated unequally from the get-go. I am treated less well, despite moral equality requiring that I be treated equally to Endark.

This argument, at most, justified equality of outcome. And, at least, it affirms the need for equality of opportunity. If moral equals should be treated equally--deserving equal treatment re: their rights to life, liberty, property, and freedom--then it is wrong to give one moral equal a leg up over another at the start of life, since this gives one a greater chance to make use of and maximize their rights than the other. By equalizing them at the start, we pay homage to the idea that moral equals should be given a fair and equal playing field.

I would also contend that Equality of Opportunity, and indeed redistribution of resources, is essential for other rights, such as the right to life. Even Nozick asserts that life's value can be found in our ability to self-actualize. [3] It is hard--if not impossible--to self-actualize under conditions where one lacks basic access to food, water, shelter, and other fundamentals. Surely, redistribution of resources to people in such privation is justified as a means of saving their lives (upholding a right to life), as a means of increasing their liberty, and as a means of respecting their human dignity as described by Nozick.

SB: The Necessary End

Certainly, an absolutely fair playing field might be impossible to attain, but that in no way negates the idea that we should have the most fair playing field possible. 90% justice is better than 50% justice, for example.

C3: Right To Property 2.0

Con discusses theft, a form of coercion, where coercion implies the use of force or the imposition of one's choice on another. I would argue that unless Con can show that his society uses less coercion on net than one in which redistribution is enshrined, he cannot outweigh me here. "Libertarians are unanimous in viewing coercion as a violation of liberty, thus if you are forced to give money to the government to provide welfare, then you are being coerced and your liberty violated. The only legitimate use of coercion, according to libertarians is in enforcing people's rights. Libertarians legitimise coercion in these circumstances, and the amount of coercion required to enforce these rights depends on how willing people are to respect them. Hence it cannot be the case that a free market is free from coercion, unless everyone voluntarily respects these rights and abides by the law. For a libertarian to claim that a libertarian society is totally free in this sense, and justify it by saying that they expect everyone to respect property rights in this way, is on a par with a socialist claiming that a socialist society is free from coercion, because they expect everyone to be willing to accept the socialist's laws. Arguing that the free market they depict is an ideal that is free of coercion, but the practice requires some coercion to prevent people from violating rights, doesn't help either--the socialist can argue the equivalent point in defence of their position! A libertarian may concede that coercion is required to protect rights, but that other than that, the free market is free of coercion, and will be freer of coercion than a non-libertarian society. However, as I said before, the amount of coercion required depends on how willing the citizens are to accept a free market order. If the citizens of a society do not want a libertarian order, it may require a lot of coercion to impose it, likewise if the citizens want socialism it won't require as much coercion to get it. In other words, what determines the amount of coercion required in a society, is the extent to which people are willing to accept the rules imposed on them, and this is as true of a libertarian, society as it is of any other. Thus, it is debatable that a libertarian society would have less coercion in it than a non-libertarian one." [1]

C4: Reactionary Solutions

I would simply cross-apply much of what I've already said here. I would note that Con is indeed required to present an alternative solution or show that affirming creates more issues than it solves. If redistribution is the ONLY solution to the problem, then it is required. Insofar as Con acknowledges a problem exists, unless he can offer a better solution, we must default to the one I have presented to address it.

Concluding Remarks

Ultimately, the ideal of libertarianism is freedom and the ability to use that freedom to pursue happiness. Indeed, one might even define the former as the latter; yet, oddly enough, without redistribution, the pursuit of happiness may be beyond many.

SOURCES

1 - http://web.archive.org...
2 - Source 3, R2
3 - http://www.iep.utm.edu...
EndarkenedRationalist

Con

I will now rebut PRO's case.

In the previous round, I stood by Aristotle's definition of justice. I still do; however, I do challenge PRO's comparison between Situation A and B seen here:

"For example, in Situation A a child has spent the whole day weeding the garden and is rewarded by her parents with the evening off. In Situation B a child has spent the whole day weeding the garden but receives no reward from her parents. Situation A is just and Situation B is unjust."

The difference between Situation A and B is not inherently unjust. For example, if one child was weeding as a punishment and the other was weeding either for a neutral reason (such as a chore) or a positive reason (such as altruism), then both situations are still just. Though the example is only there to illustrate justice - as, since it does not deal with redistribution, it does not relate to the resolution outside of defining justice - I felt it important to clarify that the difference is not in and of itself unjust. This also removes my opponent's practical basis for linking justice and fairness.

"I would just add one simple qualifier regarding fairness. It is okay to treat the winner of a race differently than the loser insofar as we give one a prize and the other earns nothing; yet, it would be unfair to treat the children who weed the garden differently because they have done the exact same thing, and so should get the reward."

I feel this paragraph is worth exploring. In the race, both have done the exact same thing, have they not? Both have run the race. Yet one of them is treated differently than the other. In one situation, both children do the same work, and my opponent says both should be rewarded, yet in the race both also did the same work by running and finishing the race, yet only one was rewarded - the faster one. The one who was born swifter, trained harder, or just got luckier. My opponent later says that we cannot reward by desert (thereby excluding both the born swifter and got luckier reasons), yet it is nigh impossible to separate which factors led to one person finishing first. This is a contradiction in my opponent's case.

Now let's move on to my opponent's contentions.

Rebuttal to Contention 1

Under his first contention, my opponent asserts that:

"This is the principle that undeserved inequalities call for redress; and since inequalities of birth and natural endowment are undeserved, these inequalities are to be somehow compensated for."

This comprises a large part of my opponent's argument, and it one directly at odds with my contention regarding the right to property. I should clarify that when I say property, I am not merely referring to land or housing. The body itself is the property of its owner. A person who does not control his or her body and mind is a slave; there is no other term. To say that one does not deserve the naturally given gifts of their own body is to strip them of that ownership. This is why the right to property is so essential to liberty.

Additionally, the notion that they are undeserved is, at this point unproven, and it is up to my opponent to prove otherwise. He has not yet done so. Because of this, the second half of his contention also falls apart. Since nothing demonstrates the qualities are undeserved, there is no ground for redress.

"The array of assets dealt by fortune is neither just nor unjust. ‘These are simply natural facts. What is just and unjust is the way that institutions deal with these facts.’ There is no reason to let assets and the benefits that flow from them lie where they fall. This would be simply to incorporate and affirm the arbitrariness of nature."

As I demonstrated earlier, enforcing a redistribution of resources would itself be an injustice because it violates the right to property. While my opponent and I may agree that the method by which institutions 'deal with these facts' in unjust, my opponent would seek to employ an unjust 'solution.' It would seem paradoxical to suggest that justice can be achieved through injustice (indeed, it takes us into an ends justify the means conversation, which does not relate to the debate).

Rebuttal to Contention 2

"The precept which seems intuitively to come closest to rewarding moral dessert is that of distribution according to effort. Once again, however, it seems clear that the effort a person is willing to make is influenced by his natural abilities and skills and the alternatives open to him. The better endowed are more likely, other things equal, to" achieve more greatly. They have resources and natural talents that others lack, and can use them to garner an unfair advantage over others."

Effort or achievement? If we look back at my opponent's example about the race, both may put in extreme effort, but one still wins and one still loses. One comes away with everything; the other slouches away with nothing. My opponent's own example counters his case.

Rewarding based on effort is a pretty picture, but it will always lose out to rewarding based on achievement. If two people each write a book but only one of them gets published, it doesn't matter that they both expended effort; the one that didn't get published didn't get the monetary rewards. He or she may have received other rewards, such as personal satisfaction and perhaps even admiration from friends and family, but they are unlikely to be anything quantifiable. Is it unjust for one person to be published and the other not? No, not necessarily. Would it not be unjust to lavish the same praise and fame on the unpublished author as the published one? Would it not be unjust to rob the published author of some of his/her fortune and give it to the unpublished author because the published one somehow didn't deserve the fruits of his/her efforts?

Simply put, the inequalities nature renders among all people are there for use. Just because A is born with a worse singing voice than B does not mean A is inferior in all aspects. A might be a better runner, for example. And C might not be gifted for singing or running but might have a creative mind. There are a myriad of possibilities and opportunities for people to pursue that for which they are naturally gifted or inclined. There is no need to level the inequalities between two people when each can simply pursue a different field from the other. My opponent is treating natural talent as if it were an arbitrary standard that makes one man superior to another in all aspects and thus needs rectification. In reality, however, this is not the case.

Rebuttal to Contention 3

Contention 3 is not a contention so much as a trio of examples.

The Falling Tree:

"My house was hit several years ago by a tree which collapsed during a hurricane. It was on public land and healthy, so we could not remove it, nor did we (or anyone else) see a need to remove it. Yet, the damaged cause by its fall cost us hundred of dollars. Our insurance company deemed it to be an "act of God;" in other words, an occurrence that was random and not anyone's fault. Is it not just of us to demand compensation for this misfortune, if the disaster truly was undeserved?"

This is a disingenuous example regarding the redistribution of resources. If a contract was made wherein insurance was purchased for the house (storm or accident insurance), then the company has an obligation to fulfill that contract and pay for all or part of the damages. If no such contract existed, the company is under no obligation to provide monetary support. PRO is not entitled to the money of others simply because of a misfortune on his part; do not the people at the company also suffer misfortunes? Under this logic, we would all be financially responsible for one another when undeserved disasters occur.

The Tale of Two Cities

"Juba is a hard worker--persevering through famine and civil war to provide meager sustenance for his impoverished family. Hamptons is an entitled jerk who enjoys fast cars, sleazy women, and all the luxuries money can buy, without putting in a single ounce of effort to earn that money. By virtue of where he was born, and who he was born to, Hamptons is far better off than Juba. That is unfair and unequal; that simply because Juba is born to a poorer family in a still poorer country , he is relegated a worse life, despite the fact that he worked much harder in comparison."

Is the scenario described above unequal? Yes. Is it unfair? Arguably yes. But is it fair to take resources from Hamptons and give them to Juba? No. Is it just? No. In doing so, we are punishing Hamptons because he was born somewhere and rewarding Juba because he was born elsewhere. This neither relates to effort, as my opponent previously argued, nor achievement.

The Librarian and the Singer

I think I've actually addressed part of this example already. The singing voice belongs to the girl by nature; it is her property, and she is free to exercise it as she wills.

And of course, the first girl is just an absolutely awful human being and the second is described so as to maximize sympathy. Because if both girls were decent people, the emotional impact of the perceived 'injustice' just fades away, regardless of the two girls would be in the real world.

However, nothing in this example necessitates a need for a redistribution of resources. The girl who became a librarian made her own choices. She obviously had an interest in the field, or she wouldn't have studied library sciences. She knew the risks and consequences of that decision and willfully chose to pursue it anyway. Just because she might have worked harder does not mean she is automatically entitled to more.

To fall back on one of the oldest sayings, life isn't fair.

Conclusion

Ultimately, the examples and arguments presented by my opponent fail to necessitate a redistribution of resources, nor do they explain how it would solve the perceived problems. Instead, redistribution only creates more problems by violating individual rights and creating a system of dependence.
Debate Round No. 3
bsh1

Pro

Thanks to Endark for what is shaping up to be a truly fabulous debate! I will now defend my case.

OVERVIEW

Con discusses self-ownership at several junctures in this debate. Self-ownership is a flawed concept for several reasons, which I shall now expound on.

P1: An entity cannot own itself.
P2: Self-ownership is the idea that humans own themselves.
C1: A human cannot be a self-owner.

P1 is very straightforwardly demonstrated. "Own" means to "possess." [1] "Possess" means "to have." [1] A thing cannot have itself, because "to have" implies that said thing has control something other than itself. For example, the phrases "I have rights," "I have a car," and "I have a pen" all imply one thing possessing another. Thus, to say, "a building has itself" is incoherent. The correct verb is not "has," but "is." P2 is self-evident by Con's own description of the concept. Thus, the conclusion is valid.

Therefore, the only way to affirm that humans are self-owners is through Cartesian dualism, which asserts that there is a body and a soul. [2] The soul would thus own the body, making the person a self-owner, as one portion of himself owns the other. This causes a breakdown in the concept of self-ownership.

P3: The body is external property.
P4: External property operates under certain limits.
C2: The body is restricted by certain limits.

P3 is true insofar as the soul owns the body, the body is property external to the soul, its owner. P4 is true insofar as both Locke and Nozick, on whom Con relies extensively, assert that all external property is subject to the Lockean Proviso. [2, 3, 4] In this case, the idea that having too many bodies diminishes resources (like food), would certainly apply. Thus, human's self-ownership is not absolute. And, to even access this diminished version of self-ownership, Con must show that a soul exists, which he is unlikely to do.

JUSTICE

Con agrees to the idea that Justice is "giving each their due," but he proceeds to question some of my analysis of that definition. Firstly, in the weeding example, I assumed that Situation A and B were occurring under identical circumstances and that the only difference was that one child was rewarded, the other was not. Con is supposing that each example is occurring under different circumstances, but that is not how hypotheticals like this function.

Let me offer a different example that may clarify. Suppose there is a factory where two people, persons X and Y, work. There is no different in their skills or abilities, and they both work equally hard with equal output. Both joined at the same time, work under the same conditions, etc. In other words, these two people could be clones in all aspects save one. Person X is paid 20 dollars a day, whereas Person Y is paid just 15. This is unfair. Why? Because for equal work, workers out to receive equal compensation. If Person X's output is identical to Person Y's, and there is no other relevant distinction betwixt them, how can Person X be due more than Person Y? There is just no logical justification for it. Thus, fairness is involved in justice. We can also extend the dictionary definition of justice that I offered; this affirms the link between justice and fairness.

As for the example of the race, where the winner can justifiably be treated differently than the loser, Con misinterprets this to say that my argument must imply that because two people did the same thing (finished the race) both should have the same outcomes. In fact, this is not precisely true. Let's say that we have Contestants P and Q. Contestant P trains harder than Q; they both start off from the same starting position under equal conditions, and P wins. If P and Q were roughly equal in talent, then rewarding them based of the effort they invest to cultivate that talent is not wrong or unjust, merely it impracticable. In a perfect world, P receive benefits that Q would not, since the differences between them are not arbitrary. Thus, there is no contradiction.

Con drops that prejudice and favoritism are unjust. Extend this point.

PRO's CASE

Extend my equality card from Singer, as it was also not addressed.

Contention 1

Con, for the most part, simply cross-applies arguments from his case to my case. Since I already addressed his case, I can simply cross-apply those rebuttals to defend my contentions.

Con discusses here the notion of self-ownership, claiming that because one owns oneself, one, by extension, owns its natural assets. Cross-apply my overview here.

Next, Con asserts that natural talents and assets are not undeserved. To talk about "desert" and what someone deserves is to talk about what they have earned or are entitled to. Since a newborn as not earned anything, it is nonsense to talk about desert in that fashion. A newborn is certainly also not entitled to his talents either because his self-ownership is in doubt. Therefore, natural assets are undeserved.

Con concedes or fails to rebut all of the following:

1. "'The array of assets dealt by fortune is neither just nor unjust. "These are simply natural facts. What is just and unjust is the way that institutions deal with these facts.""

2. "To treat all persons equally, to provide genuine equality of opportunity, society must give more attention to those with fewer native assets and to those born into the less favorable social positions."



Thus, if we agree that some equality/lack of favoritism is necessary for justice (a point I extended earlier), and if the way to provide that equality is to engage in redistribution, then we can affirm the resolution now.

Contention 2

Con then provides the example of the authors. Let us say that Authors G and H are the authors in question. They both write high-quality work. I am the publisher, and I can only afford to publish one, yet I cannot decide between their works. So, I pull a name out of a hat, and Author G is the one that is published. This is random chance; Author G deserves success no more than Author H, yet G has achieved more greatly. Thus, achievement is not a good criteria for determining desert.

Con says that "Just because A is born with a worse singing voice than B does not mean A is inferior in all aspects." I think we can both agree that people are not equal in ability, and it is going to always happen that some people have more ability and talent than others. A might be better at B in many categories, thus improving A's chances of success over B. B is then placed at an unfair disadvantage (holistically), even if he might have one or two talents A does not share. Also consider the problem of competing talents. If B's talent is singing, and A's talent is also singing, if A can sing better than B, A is also likely to succeeded more greatly than B. Con would like to pretend as if all talents even out so that everyone is on a fair playing field--but that is just not the case.

Con also adds, "the inequalities nature renders among all people are there for use." Remember that con conceded that favoritism and prejudice were unjust; yet he would have us legitimize the prejudice of nature where some, by virtue of their talents, are favorites in the race to succeed. Is this not antithetical to justice?

Contention 3

Falling Tree

Whether or not it was contractual, it is still a redistribution of resources. Insofar as Con agrees that it would be unjust to abridge the terms of a contract entailing redistribution, he agrees that justice requires redistribution of resources.

Con then says: "Under this logic, we would all be financially responsible for one another when undeserved disasters occur." Certainly, this is true to an extent. If people are suffering severely and undeservedly, then their suffering is not just. Is there truly no moral compunction to help them? Surely, sending aid of some sort is a just response. How can one sit in comfort, while others starve--does your right to a TV outweigh a hungry person's right to eat?

Tale of Two Cities

Con agrees that this example is both unequal and unfair. In other words, it violates the two criteria on which Justice rests. It is fair to take resources from Hamptons then, not as a punishment because he was born to wealth, but as a means of equalizing the playing field. Hamptons is entitled to an equal chance at success as Juba, not to automatic wealth. Thus, we are not actually being unfair to Hamptons, because we are ensuring that this equality of opportunity is realized.

Consider that even Nozick felt that "bequests [are] sometimes passed on for generations to persons unknown to the original earner,..producing continuing inequalities of wealth and position...The resulting inequalities seem unfair." [5] He even argued that redistribution in the form of taxation should be used to combat this kind of inequality. [5]

The Librarian and the Singer

Just because the example was written to maximize emotion impact does not make it invalid. It was done to emphasize the core message that many good people fail undeservedly, while many bad people succeed due to the combined arbitrariness of nature and luck.

Life may not be fair, but that does not mean that we should not do what we can to mitigate some of the worst inequalities. If anything, the startling gaps in welfare between someone in the U.S. and someone in Somalia are gaps that should not exist and which my opponent agrees are unfair.

SOURCES

1 - http://www.merriam-webster.com...
2 - http://www.jacobroundtree.com...
3 - http://en.wikipedia.org...
4 - "Against Self-Ownership: There Are No Fact-Insensitive Ownership Rights over One's Body" by Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen, Philosophy and Public Affairs [http://www.jstor.org...]
5 - http://en.wikipedia.org...

Thanks again! Over to Endark...
EndarkenedRationalist

Con

Entering the home stretch, I'd like to again thank bsh1 for this debate! I'll continue my rebuttals.

My opponent begins with a syllogism:

"P1: An entity cannot own itself.
P2: Self-ownership is the idea that humans own themselves.
C1: A human cannot be a self-owner."

What my argument said was that the body was the property of its owner; that is, the person. I may say I own my arm, for if I am a free man, no one else owns it. I may say the same for each component of my body - my leg, my voice, etc. No one else controls it unless I am a slave; nor is my arm my being. I own it, I use it, but it is not me. The same may be extended over the body, and we can go all the way to consciousness, at which point, this debate becomes metaphysical in nature (additionally, P1 is not proven, as my opponent would need to prove, but has not in this debate. Attempts to do so now are unfair. Therefore this point stands). The building analogy is likewise faulty; not being sentient, a building is incapable of ownership.

Justice

My opponent tries to alter his arguments. If we look back at his opening example in R2, my opponent never says anywhere that the circumstances are identical in each situation. This means he has shifted the goalposts on his line of argumentation and refuted my argument as an attack on a position he never indicated existed.

Even the example with the factory has a few flaws. Firstly, the situation described is nearly unheard of in reality. Regardless of whether or not people are treated equally, people do not have equal skills, do not work equally hard, and do not produce equal output. Since this situation is logically implausible, it again disconnects my opponent's link between fairness and justice. Second of all, the situation is still not inherently unjust. Both workers agreed to the conditions they have found themselves in; if X signs a contract to be paid $20 and Y signs a contract to be paid $15, then both have agreed to their situations. Furthermore, what is the standard of equal output? A garbageman or construction worker may produce more physical labour than a doctor; yet we do not pay them equally because this would be absurd.

Quite simply, fairness and equality are not one and the same.

My opponent disingenuously says that I dropped points. My entire R3 rebuttal was to points my opponent raised in R2 because that would have been the only fair way to carry on this debate; otherwise I would have extra rebuttals to respond to. My opponent did not raise Peter Singer in R2 except to produce a quote appealing to his authority (something my opponent says I do to Locke). It is also plain dishonest. Here is what I said regarding Singer:

"Additionally, the notion that they are undeserved is, at this point unproven, and it is up to my opponent to prove otherwise. He has not yet done so. Because of this, the second half of his contention also falls apart. Since nothing demonstrates the qualities are undeserved, there is no ground for redress."

As we would now be in the final round, my opponent cannot introduce new arguments to support the notion of why the abilities bestowed by nature are both undeserved and unjust. My arguments have demonstrated why they are not - the right to property. The closet we get to this is this rebuttal:

"Since a newborn as not earned anything, it is nonsense to talk about desert in that fashion. A newborn is certainly also not entitled to his talents either because his self-ownership is in doubt. Therefore, natural assets are undeserved. "

A newborn is, however, entitled to rights, and being in a state of absolute dependence does not equate to forfeiting those rights.

Rebuttal to Contention 1:

"Con discusses here the notion of self-ownership, claiming that because one owns oneself, one, by extension, owns its natural assets. Cross-apply my overview here."

I have already addressed self-ownership above. When I think of something, is it not my thought? When I pick up an apple. is it not my hand that does so? Quite simply, all the parts of my body belong to me. As Ingram notes in The Idea of Self-Ownership,

"My 'self' encompasses all of my humanity from my physical presence to my thought processes; it is literally everything that is me. Every aspect of me that could be termed my 'self' must relate to a corresponding property right I posses over that aspect of myself" [1].

Moving on, my opponent looks at two points he believes I conceded or dropped. Regarding the first, I had already said this:

"As I demonstrated earlier, enforcing a redistribution of resources would itself be an injustice because it violates the right to property. While my opponent and I may agree that the method by which institutions 'deal with these facts' in unjust, my opponent would seek to employ an unjust 'solution.' It would seem paradoxical to suggest that justice can be achieved through injustice. "

This is in fact a rebuttal, and so heralds the second time my opponent has falsely claimed I dropped a point. There is a concession in there - that we can agree that the current method institutions use to deal with inequality is unjust - but this concession is not a point in either of ours favours.

The second point is the entire resolution. The notion that I've dropped it is silly, unless none of my arguments relate to the resolution.

Rebuttal to Contention 2

"Let us say that Authors G and H...both write high-quality work. I am the publisher, and I can only afford to publish one, yet I cannot decide between their works. So, I pull a name out of a hat, and Author G is the one that is published. This is random chance; Author G deserves success no more than Author H, yet G has achieved more greatly."

Once again, my opponent makes the presumption that the two people are of equal talent. This is a ridiculous proposition. G may be a better authour and H may be a better actor, yet if H chooses to pursue writing over acting, it is not unjust to reward G every time, since G provides better work. Under the resolution, no matter what field H pursues, regardless of whether or not it plays to H's talents, if H winds up worse off than G, than G has to have resources taken away and given to H. So because H made mistakes in life, G, who is not even aware of H's existence, is responsible for H. This is unjust.

My opponent himself even made this distinction in his opening:

"treating people in a way that does not favor some over others based on arbitrary or nonexistent traits or differences"

My opponent's case has presumed there are no differences between people. We see that with these idealistic notions of equal work - the children in the garden, the singer and the librarian, the two authors, etc. Additionally, in my opponent's world, when someone does do less work, that is the person who was born into better circumstance and is better-off. My opponent ignores what happens when the scenario is flipped.

"A might be better at B in many categories, thus improving A's chances of success over B. B is then placed at an unfair disadvantage (holistically), even if he might have one or two talents A does not share. Also consider the problem of competing talents."

However, there is no obligation for B to pursue each and every field before him. If B opts for a field where his talent surpasses A's, where is the injustice? If A is better at singing than B, and both enter American Idol, how can it be unjust for A to win and B to lose? The person who sings better deserves the victory; to rob them of it is the injustice here. It would be like if A got a paycheck for winning only to find out all the money went to B because B was poorer. In this case, why do we not reward the person who lost the race in my opponent's earlier example?

In response to prejudice, let's see a dictionary.

Prejudice - "preconceived judgment or opinion; an adverse opinion or learning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge" [2].

By the definition of prejudice, nature, being non-sentient, is not capable of prejudice. This rebuttal is baseless.

Rebuttal to Contention 3

The Tree

There would not be a redistribution in the sense we have discussed because, under a contract, you have already purchased protection. You are simply receiving that which you already paid for. This is only 'redistribution' in the sense that me tipping a waiter is 'redistribution,' and that is not what we are looking at. Furthermore, no, I am not morally obligated to help them. The United States, and indeed, Western society, is founded on negative rights; that is, the right to freedom from interference. I may choose to help the hungry, but I am not obligated to, and if I choose not to, then my choice may be called cruel or selfish, but it may not be called unjust.

The Two Cities

Rephrasing the action doesn't change what is happening; Hampton is being unjustly punished because he was born better off. But if, as my opponent says, the assets dealt by fortune are neither just nor unjust, he cannot then by justly punished because fortune dealt him better assets.

The Librarian and the Singer

My opponent again ignores the scenario of good people succeeding and bad people failing. Not once instance in his case allows for this; it presents the story one would see in children's fiction as a reality.

My Contention 4

Nowhere did we establish this was a shared BoP. My opponent is advocating a change in the status quo. I am not obligated to provide an alternate solution (though an example of one would be opening/encouraging charity-run/non-profit preschools and schools in lower-income areas. This solution does not entail taking from others, and it helps further people's chances of success). Because, again, the next round is the final round, we have to proceed as though my opponent dropped this entire contention.

Thank you for a great debate, bsh1, and I look forward to the finale!

[1] http://orca.cf.ac.uk... (page 17)
[2] http://www.merriam-webster.com...
Debate Round No. 4
bsh1

Pro

Thanks, Endark!

PRO's CASE

Overview

Con states: "I may say I own my arm, for if I am a free man, no one else owns it...No one else controls it unless I am a slave; nor is my arm my being. I own it, I use it, but it is not me." Firstly, reiterating arguments is insufficient to address the rebuttals to those arguments I already presented. Also, simply because you are free does not mean that you own yourself, as this implies you can surrender freedom--something Con says is an inalienable right (it's a contradiction). If something is owned, it can also be sold or trade away. If we hold that freedom is an inalienable right, I don't need to own myself to be free--I am not property that can be owned, but rather something beyond ownership: a person.

I did prove P1. I stated: "P1 is very straightforwardly demonstrated. 'Own' means to 'possess.' 'Possess' means 'to have.' A thing cannot have itself, because 'to have' implies that said thing has control something other than itself. For example, the phrases 'I have rights,' 'I have a car,' and 'I have a pen' all imply one thing possessing another. Thus, to say, 'a building has itself' is incoherent. The correct verb is not 'has,' but 'is.'" This is important: Con says I never proved P1; yet, as I just showed you, I did. Con DROPS this argument--Con may not attempt to deconstruct or rebut this argument from now on because any such attempt would be an illicit new argument.

Con has raised no objection to P2, so my syllogism remains intact: we cannot be self-owners.

Justice

The purpose of an analogy like that is to generate two identical scenarios that differ in a explicitly relevant way, and to compare how, with all other factors held constant, this one difference impacts each scenario. It is not that I am shifting my arguments, it is that Con misunderstands their function.

Con says that the situation described in the factory is nigh unheard of in reality. Whether or not the situation is logically implausible is irrelevant as the example is simply illustrating a principle and how said principle functions. Certainly, in real life there will be more nuances to this, but the nuances don't render the core message invalid. Additionally, this resolution is a question of principle, not necessarily of reality; if justice, in principle or in theory, requires redistribution, then it is enough to vote Pro, even if the practical administration of that principle is difficult or impossible.

Just because both have agreed to their situation does not make it fair or just. People can consent to unjust acts for a variety of reasons: need and desperation, a lack of information, implicit coercion, etc. I am very sure that "giving each their due" is not the same as "giving each what they consented to have." For the same quality and quantity of work, both workers should, in principle, receive equal remuneration. One person's output is not worth less than the other, so it ought not to be assessed as less than the other in this case.

The quote that Con says was rebutting Singer was actually made in response to my C1 (my 4th source), while Singer was my 3rd source. So yes, it was dropped.

Con then erroneously asserts that I have failed to show while natural abilities are underserved. In fact, I did. I said: " To talk about "desert" and what someone deserves is to talk about what they have earned or are entitled to. Since a newborn as not earned anything, it is nonsense to talk about desert in that fashion. A newborn is certainly also not entitled to his talents either because his self-ownership is in doubt." Con then proposes that a newborn is entitled to rights; yes, all people are granted certain rights, but this doesn't actually clash with my assertions.

I don't have a right to a good singing voice, so I can't claim that my rights were violated when I was born with out one. Similarly, rights cannot be used as a basis for saying that a person deserved those talents they were born with, because they had no right to those talents to begin with. They are arbitrary, and thus, undeserved.

Contention 1

What you are saying is that "my hand is a part of the rest of my body." This is not saying that you own your hand, rather it is expressing that your hand is part of you. For example, a room in a building is not owned by the building, it is simply part of it. "My" in this case is used to express association. It is your hand, associated with you. Ultimately though, my dropped syllogism should be extend as sufficient for me to win this point.

Regarding the first point Con dropped, even if we claim that you have a property right to your talents (which I dispute), this does not mean you deserved those talents in the first place, as you have done nothing to entitle yourself to them or to earn them. If the talents weren't deserved in the first place, then even if they are protected by property rights once you acquire them, that doesn't make them just.

As to the second dropped point, that is not the resolution. The resolution is asking whether we should redistribute. This point is explaining that redistribution has links to equality, so if we value equality we should value redistribution.

Contention 2

Regarding the authors example, cross-apply my arguments about the ability to affirm the resolution on principle or in theory, and that the example is demonstrating a core principle that the nuances of life do not necessarily invalidate. The principle here is that achievement isn't a good standard for desert, as sheer, dumb luck can factor into every person's successes.

It is not wrong to take from G to give to H as G was abetted in his success by an unjust accomplice, luck--his winnings are the fruit of the poisonous tree. The means by which he acquired wealth were unjust and arbitrary, and so the wealth itself is tainted.

All people are not clones, but that does not justify pointing to arbitrary traits as justification to treat one person better than another. It would be arbitrary to say blacks should be treat worse than whites, gays worse than straights, Canadians worse than Americans, women worse than men--we recognize the immorality in all of these statements because the difference (race, orientation, nationality, gender) have nothing to do with our capacity or worth as human beings. So why should arbitrary traits like luck and innate talent be allowed to distinguish us if things like skins color (just as innate as some talents) aren't?

Again, we're looking at the aggregate fitness of A and B. A is more fit than B overall, and thus is more likely to succeed. What if B's talents are in an area already saturated by employees and the industry isn't looking to hire? A's diversity of talent allows him to adapt well to many fields and succeed. Really, Con is trying to suggest that all people are equally capable of success--that's untrue. Insofar as not all people are equally equipped for success, there is a definite disparity present.

Contention 3

I would disagree--Western society is now full of human rights, many of which positive, such as the right to education, the right to food, the right to healthcare. [1] If you are using rights to say that you don't have to redistribute, then this logic fails. I have a human right to healthcare and education, I have claims on your money, insofar as your tax dollars go to fund healthcare and education, etc.

It is not a punishment to set the playing field more evenly, because Hamptons is entitled to an equal shot at success as Juba, but not a better shot just because he was born in a richer society. To fail to equalize the playing field would actually punish Juba for being born in a poor society. Even if the initial distribution of natural assets is neither just nor unjust, we still need redistribution to ensure that those assets are not used to gain an unfair advantage over someone with fewer assets.

CON's CASE

Overview

Con DROPS his Contentions 1, 2, and 3. He may NOT defend them next round as this would be unfair.

What should be the order:

R2 - Cases
R3 - Rebutting Cases
R4 - Defending Cases
R5 - Rebutting Cases

Instead, Con used R4 to rebut my case, forcing me to defend it. This means I've should have had a chance to rebut Con's defense of his case, but won't. Extend my rebuttals to Con's case; the impacts: (1) Con's case is paradoxical and jeopardizes freedom, (2) Con has failed to prove a right to property exists, (3) it is okay to infringe property rights sometimes, (4) equality of opportunity is a prerequisite for other rights, and (5) a redistributive society violates rights no more than does a libertarian one.

These extensions harm, as most of his arguments are predicated on a right to property, which he hasn't show exits and which can be violated given good cause, and since most of Con's arguments about how redistribution is unjust rely on the notion that redistribution violates rights, which a libertarian society (Con's advocacy) also does roughly equally to my advocacy, rights violations are non-unique arguments.

Contention 4

Con is required to present an alternative solution or show that affirming creates more issues than it solves. If redistribution is the ONLY solution to a problem--a problem Con admits exist--then it has to be our default unless given a better choice. Con has failed to show that his solution is better.

VOTING ISSUES

1. Con's have failed to show that a right to property exists--all points based of this right fall because their premise is unsubstantiated.
2. Human rights support redistribution
3. Equality of Opportunity is necessary for other rights. If rights and justice are linked as Con supposes, then E.O. is just because it enables us to access our rights
4. People are not due the arbitrary advantages/disadvantages given to them by nature. The only way to restore fairness (and thus, Justice) is via redistribution


Thank you! Please VOTE PRO!

[1] http://www.un.org...
EndarkenedRationalist

Con

This being the final round, I shall simply stick to rebuttals and reconstructions.

Rebuttals

I believe I have established the importance of the right to property, and my opponent's attempts to divorce that by saying that we somehow don't have ownership over ourselves is weak at best. Somebody owns my arm; it is not an autonomous being, nor is it in control of itself. It is subject to my will and my desires. I may choose to use it; I may choose to sever it and give it away. I cannot do this with something I do not own. Therefore I own it. I have an arm; I do not 'is' nor 'am' an arm.

This is not a new rebuttal to my opponent's response, but it is more than sufficient to demonstrate that I have already dismantled P1, and my opponent simply saying 'an entity cannot own itself because an entity cannot have itself' is a tautology. What it is not is sufficient prove to conclusively affirm P1, so the entire syllogism collapses.

For my opponent to now turn around and claim that his standards need not apply to reality after using the real world is several scenarios is both contradictory and entirely new, so I ask the voters to disregard this point entirely.

If we look at my opponent's 4th source here [1], we see that it is John Rawls, not Singer. So yes, Singer was rebutted.

"Con then erroneously asserts that I have failed to show while natural abilities are undeserved. In fact, I did. I said: " To talk about "desert" and what someone deserves is to talk about what they have earned or are entitled to. Since a newborn as not earned anything, it is nonsense to talk about desert in that fashion. A newborn is certainly also not entitled to his talents either because his self-ownership is in doubt." Con then proposes that a newborn is entitled to rights; yes, all people are granted certain rights, but this doesn't actually clash with my assertions."

What this argument boils down to, as I said before, is my opponent asserting that natural abilities are undeserved because they are undeserved. The example he provides of the newborn was also successfully refuted. Here my opponent even concedes that a newborn is entitled to rights. This includes the right to property, which is the right I used to construct the majority of my case. So here PRO is conceding the inherent existence of the right to property.

This also disproves the argument regarding the lack of desert for a singing voice because, once again, of the right to property. It is also worth noting that my opponent continues the faulty comparison to a building when a building is incapable of ownership due to lack of sentience.

As to the second point my opponent again claims I dropped - here it is:

"To treat all persons equally, to provide genuine equality of opportunity, society must give more attention to those with fewer native assets and to those born into the less favorable social positions."

Or, worded another way, justice requires the redistribution of resources. To achieve justice (herein meaning by providing genuine equality of opportunity), society must redistribute resources to those with fewer assets. This is the resolution. This is not a dropped point.

Further, my opponent provides different standards than he did in R1. Look at the R1 rules:

"R1: Acceptance

R2: Constructives

R3: Rebuttals

R4: Rebuttals

R5: Rebuttals and Closings"

Yet in R5, my opponent says:

"R2 - Cases

R3 - Rebutting Cases

R4 - Defending Cases

R5 - Rebutting Cases"

I consider this manipulative and unfair. The rules in R1 do not say R4 is for reconstruction or defense. It says rebuttals, same as R3 and R5.

Contention 1: The Right To Property

In my case, I have successfully demonstrated that all people have a right to property. I have demonstrated the various forms that property may take. I have demonstrated the necessity of the right to property in preserving the right to liberty and, most importantly, I have demonstrated how the redistribution of resources is a violation of the right to property. It robs from A to give to B by the same happenstance that may have made B worse off than A (ignoring or perhaps even in spite of the situations where B is directly responsible for his actions), and dressing up this injustice does not make it justice.

Contention 2: Absolute Equality Is Unjust

Not only was this contention conceded, but so was my argument that absolute equality is the necessary end of the redistribution of resources. To redistribute only a little bit from A to B does not significantly benefit either, and my opponent has already admitted a willingness to go as far as possible.

The Book Example

I clearly stated last round that G is a better authour than H. That is not necessarily a factor of luck, and by limiting it so, my opponent sidesteps the actual points contained therein - that H was directly responsible for his situation by choosing to pursue a field he knew he lacked the talent to succeed in and by continuing to stick with that field, and that G is somehow responsible for this. Because of the sidestep my opponent makes, I consider these points dropped, and I ask the voters to extend them.

The Role Of Contracts

This is not a new point - I am simply giving it its own category while using only information provided earlier. When we enter contracts knowingly, as most, if not all of us, have the capability of doing,the outcomes of doing so cannot be called unjust. If we entered it,even if it was unfavourable, we were willing to trade off say, a small bit of liberty, in exchange for something we valued more, the same way many people today trade liberty for safety.

The Array of Talent

As I have established many times throughout the debate, simply because A is better than B in one thing does not mean A is better than B in all things. B will ALWAYS be better than A in at least one thing. When A and B pursue the same field in which A is better, we cannot then justly punish A for being better. We are discouraging achievement, we are discouraging innovation, and we are discouraging creativity.

Negative Rights

I cannot really say much here, since most anything I put would be a new argument. My opponent certainly used the round to introduce not only a new argument but new evidence as well. This being the last round, I move that these be dismissed, as to do otherwise would be abusive.

In Summary

PRO has failed to demonstrate that people do not own themselves. My case from Ingram was dropped entirely, and I have already pointed out the tautology of my opponent's argument. Therefore I extend mine.

PRO has already conceded the existence of the right to property, as demonstrated in his existence of the newborns' entitlement to rights. I have sufficiently demonstrated that these rights include the right to property and how the right to property is an essential right in securing the right to liberty. This point is extended.

PRO entirely ignores the running self-contradiction in his arguments of unjust acts leading to justice. This point is extended.

PRO has entirely failed to rebut the necessary end of redistribution being absolute equality. Regardless of whether or not this argument is found persuasive, PRO has failed to refute it, and so it must be extended.

PRO continues placing a BoP on me when I do not have one. I am not obligated to provide an alternative solution. However, even so, I have provided a few examples of steps that could be taken to ease the wealth disparity without violating basic rights. PRO ignored these examples (the charity/non-profit schools, for instance), so I extend them here.

PRO alternatively places and divorces his stances from reality in another massive contradiction. He cannot have this cake and eat it too. I ask the voters to take note of this contradiction in their decisions.

For My Case

I have demonstrated the existence and importance of the right to property.

I have demonstrated various applications of that propety, including monetary and physical.

I have demonstrated that people merit their natural advantages/disadvantages because of the right to property.

I have demonstrated that the redistribution of resources violates the right to property.

I have demonstrated that absolute equality is unjust.

I have demonstrated that the necessary end of the redistribution of resources is absolutely equality.

I have demonstrated that the redistribution of resources unjustly punishes the better-off for no just reason other than that they were born better-off, which is not a just reason.

I have demonstrated that the redistribution of resources punishes the less fortunate by creating a cycle of dependence - a point my opponent largely ignores. I extend this point.

All in all, this has been a fantastic debate! I would like to thank bsh1 for being an outstanding opponent, and all of the voters for taking the time to read and reflect on this debate. Thank you all, and I urge everyone to vote CON!

Debate Round No. 5
42 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by bsh1 2 years ago
bsh1
Rofl...
Posted by whiteflame 2 years ago
whiteflame
Ha! That's a good one!

*quietly soaks a rag in chloroform as he calls for the other masked figures to bring around the unmarked van*
Posted by ESocialBookworm 2 years ago
ESocialBookworm
Couldn't help myself. xD

Hope that gave y'all a good laugh...
Posted by ESocialBookworm 2 years ago
ESocialBookworm
*sees whiteflame's RFD*
*stops*
*backs away slowly*

THE CONSPIRACY CONTINUES!!!

MAX = EDDIE
EDDIE = WHITEFLAME
Ergo, MAX = EDDIE = WHITEFLAME!!!
Posted by whiteflame 2 years ago
whiteflame
Heh, it certainly is intriguing. Kinda shocking how much we think alike in both our views and on debate in general.
Posted by YYW 2 years ago
YYW
lol, whiteflame it's amazing how often (more times than not) I am in parallel agreement with not only your decision, but with the way you rendered it.

Endark never messaged me, so I haven't voted yet, but this is precisely what my RFD would have said "Well, despite its limited application, much of Pro's case appears to solidly carry through. Con's case has a broader application, but the link to a reduction in justice is, at most, a limited, linear concern. I buy that there's a harm, but with Pro winning as much as he is on his case, that harm seems too minimal to surmount the benefits to justice in society. Hence, I vote Pro."
Posted by bsh1 2 years ago
bsh1
@Ajab - I think the ELO restriction is either 1500 or 2000. You ought to be able to vote if you so choose. I set that low restriction just to keep out the uber-noobs.
Posted by 9spaceking 2 years ago
9spaceking
I knew my gut was right...bsh1 is still beating the nigh-unbeatable.
Posted by bsh1 2 years ago
bsh1
Thanks for that massive RFD and for the vote, Whiteflame.
Posted by EndarkenedRationalist 2 years ago
EndarkenedRationalist
Well, thank you for taking that much time! That was incredible!
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by whiteflame 2 years ago
whiteflame
bsh1EndarkenedRationalist
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: Given in comments.