The Instigator
lddebate234
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
royalpaladin
Pro (for)
Winning
25 Points

Resolved: Civil disobedience in a democracy is morally justified. (STRICTLY VALUE LD)

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Post Voting Period
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after 4 votes the winner is...
royalpaladin
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/15/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 8,331 times Debate No: 22858
Debate Rounds (3)
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Votes (4)

 

lddebate234

Con

This is a value/criterion based Lincoln-Douglas Debate.
In order to keep the standard speech format for LD, the affirmative will post their opening arguments in the first round.
Rounds:
1. a) [this]
b) affirmative opening case
2. a) negative opening case and refutations
b) first affirmative rebuttal
3. a) negative rebuttal and closing arguments
b) second affirmative rebuttal and closing arguments.
royalpaladin

Pro

"Law never made a man a whit more just." Because I agree with Henry David Thoreau, I affirm.


For clarity, I offer the following definitional concept:

Civil Disobedience is defined by Elliot Zashin of Harvard University as the knowing violation of public norm(considered binding by local authorities but which may ultimately be invalidated by the courts) as a form of protest: it is non-revolutionary, public, and nonviolent (i.e. there is no use of physical violence except self-defensively when participants are physically attacked, and no resistance to
arrest if made properly and without undue force). Thus, according to Zashin's definition, the negative cannot dejustify civil disobedience on the grounds that it is violent because it is definitionally unviolent and nonrevolutionary. Any arguments about the destruction of society area also extratopical.

Democracy is defined by Princeton Wordnet 3.0 as "a political system in which the supreme power lies in a body of citizens who can elect people to represent them." Note that this does not mean that decisions in a democracy are absolutely binding. It simply indicates that the society believes that the ultimate authority lies with the people.

Justified is defined by Webster's Unabridged Dictionary as to show to be right or just.


Since the resolution charges us to determine whether societal rights trump the rights of those who find the laws unjust, it presents us a rights conflict. Since the debate centers on what each party is due, my value of the round is Justice, defined as giving each his due.


The resolution charges us to determine whether Civil Disobedience is morally just. To assess this question, we must examine natural rights. Natural rights, specifically life, liberty, and property, are possessed by individuals simply because they were born human, and not because a government chooses to grant these rights to its citizens. Because the state was formed to protect natural rights, its primary obligation is to ensure that all citizens receive the rights and protections that they are do. So, in order to achieve Justice, we must ensure the protection of natural rights. Thus, my value criterion for the round is the preservation of natural rights.


My sole contention is that civil disobedience protects the rights of the people by keeping social and political power in the hands of the people.

First, there is no binding obligation to follow unjust laws; in fact, there is an obligation to overthrow them. This is derived from the social contract. The social contract is an agreement between the citizens and the state that is based on reciprocity. The citizens in society relinquish some liberties to the state, and consent to follow the state's just laws in exchange for the protection of the ir natural rights. For example, citizens pay taxes to the government in exchange for the construction of a police force. Because the government's duty is to protect natural rights, and unfair violations of natural rights are inherently unjust, when the government creates laws that violate rights, it is acting in an unjust fashion. When the state creates laws that violate the rights of the people, it loses its legitimacy and people have the right to rebel because their rights transcend the state. In his Second Treatise on Government, John Locke agrees,"The reason why men enter into society, is the preservation of their property; and the end why they chuse and authorize a legislative, is, that there may be laws made, and rules set, as guards and fences to the properties of all the members of the society, to limit the power, and moderate the dominion, of every part and member of the society: for since it can never be supposed to be the will of the society, that the legislative should have a power to destroy that which every one designs to secure, by entering into society, and for which the people submitted themselves to legislators of their own making; whenever the legislators endeavour to take away, and destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they put themselves into a state of war with the people, who are thereupon absolved from any farther obedience, and are left to the common refuge, which God hath provided for all men, against force and violence." Since the people have a right to rebel against the state, they also have a right to commit acts of civil disobedience, which are not acts of rebellion but rather protest specific laws.


Second, unlike many other forms of protesting unjust laws, civil disobedience promotes democracy by maximizing the power of the people within the context of the state. Civil disobedience entails violating laws and accepting the state's punishment in order to demonstrate the injustice of the system to the rest of society as well as to push cases into court systems. This means that civil disobedience necessarily entails preserving the good institutions of the state while weeding out its poor qualities. Armed rebellion and other alternatives require dismantling the state and thus may limit the power of democracy and cause massive rights violations. For example, during the Civil Rights Era, Martin Luther King Jr. and other activists actively accepted being arrested by the government in order to demonstrate to society that segregation was unjust. Rather than overthrowing the system, which they would have been justified in attempting to do, the activists were able to correct injustices through nonviolent means that protected democracy, preserved their rights, and mitigated the possibility of anarchy. Traditionally, civil disobedience has been used to preserve humna rights. Historian Howard Zinn explains, "There is a tradition in the US of citizen actions of civil disobedience.The acts of civil disobedience in the period preceding the Revolutionary War are quite well known, but often ignored when contemporary acts are judged, not by standards of justice, but by narrow technical standards of war…. There were many violations of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, in which groups of white and black abolitionists rescued, or attempted to rescue, escaped slaves…. The occupation of factories in 1936 and 1937—the famous "sit-down strikes"—were illegal, but resulted in the recognition of unions and the betterment of working conditions…. In short, American history sustains the idea that civil disobedience—the violation of laws on behalf of human rights, against starvation and sickness—should be distinguished from criminal disobedience, where a law is violated for individual gain. Civil disobedience therefore is not to be punished because it is a technical violation of law, but to be honored as part of the American
tradition, enhancing democracy."


Third and finally, civil disobedience enhances democracy by promoting democratic discourse. Because civil disobedience is a valid, nonviolent means through which to catch the attention of society as a whole, political dissidents can opt to use it as an effective channel for bringing alternative political viewpoints into discussion. Penney O'Donnell, a Professor of Journalist of the University of Technology Sydney explains, "As Jim Cairns’ biographer Paul Strange recently noted, the Australian news media do not frame or explain civil disobedience protests in terms of this country’s civil disobedience tradition (Strangio 2002). As leader of the anti-conscription mo vement in the 1970s, Cairns was a key spokesperson for the case that robust democracies need citizens who are prepared to directly challenge their governments if they make bad laws. Political dissent was not a recipe for anarchy, in his view, but a challenge to the prevailing ‘democratic lassitude’ and to the ordinary person’s reluctance to change. It was an opportunity to explore and evaluate different political points of view (Strangio 2002).

Thus, I strongly urge an affirmation of today's resolution. Thank you.
Debate Round No. 1
lddebate234

Con

lddebate234 forfeited this round.
royalpaladin

Pro

Extend the entirety of the affirmative case. As per standard LD rules, drops count as concessions, so my opponent has not only failed to advance his own case, but he has also conceded the whole affirmative analysis.
Debate Round No. 2
lddebate234

Con

lddebate234 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
No comments have been posted on this debate.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by TUF 4 years ago
TUF
lddebate234royalpaladinTied
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Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: Nice case, royal!
Vote Placed by Maikuru 4 years ago
Maikuru
lddebate234royalpaladinTied
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Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: Full forfeit by Con.
Vote Placed by Xerge 4 years ago
Xerge
lddebate234royalpaladinTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit....
Vote Placed by THEBOMB 4 years ago
THEBOMB
lddebate234royalpaladinTied
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Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: Total FF