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Resolved: The United States Federal Government ought to pay reparations to African Americans.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/17/2015 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,343 times Debate No: 79667
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (12)
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This is the Public Forum topic for this month, and I think it will be nice to debate.

Resolved: The United States Federal Government ought to pay reparations to African Americans

I will be taking the Con side of this resolution. The format will be as follows:

R1: Acceptance

R2: Constructive Arguments

R3: Rebuttals

R4 More rebuttals and conclusions

Feel free to ask any questions.


I accept.

As the quote goes, "Bring it on!"
Debate Round No. 1


Thank You DeltaMed910 for accepting the debate. I hope we have a great experince =) In this round, I will be presenting my arguments.

Ought - Used to indicate a desirable or expected state [Oxford Dictionary]

Reparations - The making of amends for a wrong one has done, by paying money to or otherwise helping those who have been wronged [Oxford Dictionary]
There are two observations that I want to present from this resolution.

Observation 1: Solutions cannot be desirable unless they are also feasible [1]

Francesca Pasquali is a professor of philosophy, and she states, "Political philosophy is required to develop solutions that are at once desirable and feasible; it must advance proposals that are creditable under both respects. This explains why, according to Rawls, political philosophy must defend a reasonable faith in the possibility that the social world makes it feasible to enact desirable solutions."

Observation 2: Moral outrage offers an insufficient reason for adopting infeasible solutions [2]

Ryan Fortson, who has a PHD in political science form Standford law school writes,"Discussions of feasibility carry the unfortunate and displeasing aftertaste of ignoring moral arguments. However, assessing feasibility is a necessary task within the realm of politics, where limited resources and conflicting desires mean that not all claims for justice can be vindicated."

These Observations show us key aspects about this resolution and the burden of proof I have (as con) to win the debate. The main point behind these two observations is to show that the United States Federal Government cannot be held responsible for

Contention 1: Economic Infeasibility

Reparations would cost the government trillions of dollars and are not economically feasible

Jack White calculated that descendants of slaves are owed twenty-four trillion dollars "based on unpaid wages denied ten million slaves, doubled for pain and suffering with interest added. [3]

Reparations are infeasible in nature and would be destructive to the economy. If reparations could bankrupt the government or set back the economy, then we should not use them. Furthermore, it is taxpayers that are funding this money - which brings me to contention 2…

Contention 2: Reparations would be unfair to Payers

Those would pay now are not responsible and haven’t benefitted from slavery

Alfred L. Grophy writes, "Moreover,the primary beneficiaries of those systems [slavery and segregation] are now gone. Payments will have to come from taxpayers, who have no culpability for those past crimes and little, if any, of the benefit."

The burden of the money required would be put on taxpayers for something that they were never responsible for. The government cannot require taxpayers to pay such a large sum of money for something they are not responsible for.

Contention 3: Recipients of Reparations are Unclear
It is impossible to determine who deserves reparations. There are currently no slaves in the United States and only the decendants of slaves are alive today. It is not possible to trace all of the descendants and pay them.

Allen C. Guelzo, Professor of the Civil war Era writes, "Who should be paid? At first glance, the answer seems obvious: the slaves. But the victims of slavery are now long dead; it is the heirs of those victims who stand next in line for compensation. Still, the line is a shaky and complicated one, with the chief complication lurking in the genes of African-Americans themselves. Slavery was a system of bondage; it was also a system of forced rape and violent sexual exploitation across the old slave South. The mixed-race offspring of slavery were plain to see on every plantation. And the long-term result is that the average African-American today has been estimated, in genetic terms, to be approximately 20 percent white – and much of that 20 percent includes the genes of the white slaveholders who originally owned his great-grandparents. By what logic do we pay reparations for slavery to those who, in all too many cases, are literally descendents of the actual slaveholders? And should reparations for slavery include the descendents of those blacks who – like President Obama – did not arrive in the US until after slavery was ended?

Due to the mixing of different races during the time of slavery, and other eras, it is unclear as to who we would be paying reparations to. Many people with even a slight descent of being African American would jump at the opportunity to receive reparations. And since many African Americans today came after times of slavery and segregation, does that mean they get reparations too? It is not feasible for the U.S. Government to find out weather every single person that applies for reparations truly has a descent from slavery; in fact, it’s downright impossible.

For these reasons, I urge that you vote Con in today’s round.


[1] Francesca Pasquali, (Prof., Philosophy, U. of Bergamo, Italy), VIRTUOUS IMBALANCE: POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY BETWEEN DESIRABILITY AND FEASIBILITY, 2012, 6.3

[2] and [3] Ryan Fortson, (JD, Stanford Law School & Ph.D., Political Science, U. Minnesota), AFRICAN AMERICAN LAW & POLICY REPORT, 2004, 73.

[4] americans/who-would-pay-for-reparations-and-why DOA: 6-26-15]




Ought to.

Ought - Used to indicate a desirable or expected state [Oxford Dictionary]

Getting money is desirable and expected, but not feasible. The government "ought to" but cannot. They ought to apologize to Angela Merkel. They ought to give money back to bankers. But they can't.

We ought to do many things, but we simply cannot.
Debate Round No. 2


I'm afraid that there may have been a misunderstanding? I am Con, and I'm advocating that The government out NOT to pay reparations. My opponent simply attacked my definition of ought, but actually helped me??

He states that it's not feasible to give reparations, which is exactly what I'm saying in my case. His last sentence is, "We ought to do many things, but we simply cannot." I would completely agree with this statement, but it doesn't help Pro in any way.

I feel that there has been a misunderstanding here, but i'll talk to my opponent and figure it out.



Sorry if my position was unclear.

I am on the PRO side, supporting the fact that the USFG "ought to" give reparations back to African Americans.
My opponent is on the CON side. He gave you arguments regarding "can we" but this debate is about "ought to".
My stance is that we ought to give reparations, but can't.


My stance:
You walk across a homeless man.
You ought to give him some money. Heck, buy him a coffee.
But you can't, because you don't have any cash on you.

My opponent is saying:
You walk across a homeless man.
You shouldn't give him some money.
You don't have any cash on you anyways.

Which stance is morally correct?
And you might ask me, why am I talking about morality?

My entire point was that "ought to" refers to a moral obligation; an obligation we don't have to nor we can't follow through on. In fact, I agree with all of my opponent's arguments, since they highlight my stance and policy of "ought to".
I quote:

"'Discussions of feasibility carry the unfortunate and displeasing aftertaste of ignoring moral arguments.'"

The wording "ought to" throws feasibility straight out the window. So now we can focus on moral arguments.

***My entire argment revolves around being morally obligated to pay reparations to African American slave descendants. My opponent will have to prove to you why paying these overdue relievances are morally wrong.***


R1. Economic Infeasibility

I agree with this argument. It is completely infeasible, in this state of affair, to pay reparations. It will be too much of a strain. However, I must emphasize this argument does nothing to prove my opponent's burden that paying reparations are not morally correct.

R2. Reparations Unfair to Tax Payers
That's right. Reparations do tend to be biased against tax payers. But this debate isn't about feasibility nor is it about can we actually do it. It's about *should* we do it, are we *obligated* to do it.

R3. Recipients are Unclear
Again, this argment is irrelevant.

I tripped an old lady on the street.
I ought to apologize to her.
However, I can't find her.
Therefore, does that mean I don't have to apologize to her? No, I still should.

To my audience:
My opponent brought three completely irrelevant arguments; two of which support my stance and the last not remotely related. I gave you a morally correct stance; one that involves apologizing for our misdeeds.

Are YOU the one that doesn't feel obligated to say "sorry"?

Debate Round No. 3


KingDebater369 forfeited this round.


By laws of debate and common sense, I claim victory.
Debate Round No. 4
12 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by zoey202 2 years ago
i love this topic to bad i could not debate it
i would kill for a good public forum round right now
Posted by KingDebater369 2 years ago
As I started rereading the arguments I presented in round 1, I realized that i must have forgotten finish my sentence at the end of the paragraph after my observations. I apologize very much for that. Here is what the final sentence was supposed to be:

The main point behind these two observations is to show that the United States Federal Government cannot be held responsible for something that is not feasible to do, and even if my opponent were to give evidence of a moral obligation, the reason isn't sufficient enough to justify reparations.
Posted by bluehatchie 2 years ago
Sounds perfect i(:
Posted by KingDebater369 2 years ago
bluehatchie, maybe we can debate at a later time? DeltaMed asked first so I wanted to give him the first chance.
Posted by bluehatchie 2 years ago
Id like to accept this debate
Posted by DeltaMed910 2 years ago
I'd like to accept your challenge.
Posted by bobsndyer1 2 years ago
Reparations for what? Watermelons are about $5 and really have not gone up. Chicken is really cheap. Especially at KFC and Bojangles.
Posted by AplusLeafy 2 years ago
Posted by AplusLeafy 2 years ago
Wronged African Americans are Africa Americans generally.
Posted by TubOLard 2 years ago
Deal with it? You're a drama queen too?
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