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Resolved: Individuals have a moral obligation to assist those in need.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/12/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 859 times Debate No: 21948
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (5)
Votes (1)




Seeing as I creeped on my opponent and saw that he was doing LD debates (or has done LD debates), I thought it would be fun to challenge him to an old topic.

Resolved: Individuals have a moral obligation to assist those in need.

Round breakdown will go like this:

Round one: Con introduction (this post), Aff case.
Round two: Con case and rebuttals, aff rebuttals
Round three: Con rebuttals, aff rebuttals. No new arguments in this round.

CX questions won't be necessary since you should be able to figure things out in three days, but if necessary, questions can be asked in the comments section.

I await my opponent's case.


I affirm the resolution stating Resolved: Individuals have a moral obligation to assist people in need. I will be using the value of Morality. I will be supporting this with a value criterion of Utilitarianism. My value criterion upholds my value because by doing things that provide the most good for the most number of people, then morality will be achieved. I will be supporting this with three contentions.
Contention 1:There is no downside to the moral obligation.
Sub-point A: The Veil of Ignorance makes the moral obligation in the best interest of all. In John Rawl's Veil of Ignorance, every situation is judged from the perspective of both sides, under a "veil of ignorance", which reshuffles everybody's position in society. For example, slavery is judged to be morally wrong, because the pain of the slave outweighs the benefits of the slaveholder, and the people in the scenario don't know which side of the situation they could be in. Immanuel Kant states this in simpler terms by stating that situations may arise in which we will eventually be the ones in need of help, and those are the grounds that this moral obligation exists. Because Rawls and Kant both state that this is in the best interest of all, then the moral obligation is utilitarian, and therefore achieves morality.
Sub-point B: Singer and Kant put practical limits to the moral obligation. Peter Singer and Immanuel Kant state that the moral obligation does not apply when the following exceptions occur: when helping somebody puts yourself in need, when helping others causes you to neglect other obligations to society already in place, or if the person helping does not agree to the cause of the person in need. Because these statements suddenly make the obligation attainable and don't risk the loss of anything morally significant, that means that it upholds the good of lots of people, and therefore more than achieves morality.
Contention 2: The obligation can be fulfilled despite personal limitations.
Sub-point A: the most somebody can do in a situation is what counts. There is always a possibility in which somebody is in need of help, but the person obligated to help has limitations that prevent them from completely helping out the person in need. For example, somebody may be drowning in a lake, but the person who is obligated to help can't swim. That doesn't negate the obligation. On the contrary, the individual would instead be obligated to do the most that they can, such as call 911. Thus, the greatest good can still be achieved despite personal limitations, and morality is achieved.
Sub-point B: the individual isn't required to solve the problem by themselves. As stated in the previous sub-point, the individual doesn't have to completely solve the problem given to them if they have personal limitations. This also goes for helping those who are without a home. For one person to devote their entire income by themselves to a homeless person is absurd. That is why there are charities in place. People aren't meant to help others on their own. Therefore any argument that my opponent makes against the practicality of being obligated to help others is null.
Contention 3: Morality is objective
Sub-point A: the Veil of Ignorance views situations with the best interests of all people in mind. Because, as explained before, the veil of ignorance reshuffles everybody's place in society to judge situations with complete objectivity, the veil can be best used in this debate to objectively judge situations, then, logically, the situations judged with the veil are ideal for utilitarianism to be upheld, and therefore the veil can be shown to be essential to upholding my value of morality.
Sub-point B: Suffering is Undesirable. Everybody can agree that the suffering of an individual is bad. Everybody has a standard reaction to pain and suffering. When you see somebody hurt on the side of the road, there is a standard reaction of feeling bad, or at least pity for those in pain. By going off of this standard reaction to suffering, we can use this as a baseline for the definition of morality. By using this definition of morality in this debate, we can agree that there is no question of morality from person to person.
In conclusion, the moral obligation stated in the resolution does exist, and therefore I have affirmed the resolution. To go over my contentions again, there is no downside to the resolution. Second, the moral obligation can be fulfilled despite personal limitations. Third, Morality is objective. Thus, I urge an affirmative ballot in today's debate.
Debate Round No. 1


I'd like to thank my opponent for an interesting affirmative case to read. I hope to point out the flaws in it with this speech, as well as present my case in the google document below.

With that being done, let's talk about my opponent's case.

Starting with his framework, I'm going to outweigh and come first. Ontology questions the assumptions moral theories such as utilitarianism takes as truth, and thus functions on a higher level. But then secondly, my contention level arguments link into his framework and fulfill it better than he does because when we assist people in need, we alieviate their suffering and ruin the value of life. Thus, by not assisting them and allowing the suffering of the world to flow naturally, we allow life to continue to have meaning. Thus, I'm going to be better linking into my opponent's value.

Then, for my opponent's contention one, I'd like to point out a very confusing flaw with my opponent's case. While his value-criterion is one of utilitarianism, in his contention one he advocates for Kant's categorical imperative, which is a deontic moral theory. This is a massive contradiction with my opponent's case, as utilitarianism supports the ends justifying the means, while deontology says the exact opposite, that the ends don't justify the means. As long as this contradiction exists, his contention one cannot link into his value-criteron, and thus doesn't link into his value.

Also, he then advocates for Rawls' Veil of Ignorance, that has absolutely no link into morality since it is a theory of what makes an action JUST, not what makes an action MORAL. Justice and morality are two entirely seperate concepts, and he's trying to blend the two into being one. While these theories may work in principle, put in his case they contradict his framework. So because of his own folly, we can safely disregard contention one.

For his contention two, I don't even have to respond to this one. The ability to assist is not what my case calls into question. The end results of assisting only makes things worse, thus turning my opponent's case on a resolutional level.

For his contetion three, we can safely ignore this one. I'm not calling into question the objectivity of morality. But let's talk specifically about sub-point b of contention three for a moment. In this sub-point, he says that suffering is undesirable with no actual warrant to back it up besides a plea to your emotions. I flat-out disagree with this. My case provides specific evidence as to why suffering is necessary for us to find meaning in life. In so far as I'm the only one prividing actual evidence to back up my claims, I'm fully refuting his argument coming out of this sub-point.

So the round breaks down pretty easily:

1. His contention one contradicts his entire framework in multiple places.
2. My framework precludes his framework, as ontology functions on a higher level than normative morality
3. I'm sufficiently turning my opponent's case on a resolutional level, showing how by not assisting, we cause more harm than good by ruining the value of life by reducing the amount of suffering in the world.

So, at this point, it's an easy neg vote.



scgates forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


Extend all my arguments.


scgates forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by scgates 6 years ago
Crap sorry ran out of time. can i post my rebuttal in next round?
Posted by scgates 6 years ago
ya thats fine
Posted by Zaradi 6 years ago
I'm going to assume yes, since I need to get some debates done.
Posted by Zaradi 6 years ago
No problem. That's probably what I'm going to do, but I'm worried about character length. Is it okay if I use a google doc and just paste the URL into the round box?
Posted by scgates 6 years ago
i liked this topic when it came up. sorry just copied and pasted my tournament case
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by 16kadams 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:10 
Reasons for voting decision: FF