The Instigator
jack_ling
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
FourTrouble
Con (against)
Winning
13 Points

Resolved: When in conflict, an individual's freedom of speech ought be valued over community moral.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
FourTrouble
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/12/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 6,525 times Debate No: 21960
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (1)
Votes (4)

 

jack_ling

Pro

We will be arguing the value of morality based on the resolution. I will be affirming the resolution so the negative side must debate that the resolution is untrue. Here is the round format:
1. Acceptance.
2. Constructive.
3. 1st Rebuttal.
4. 2nd Rebuttal.
Good luck to whoever accepts this debate resolution.
FourTrouble

Con

I look forward to a thought-provoking debate.
Debate Round No. 1
jack_ling

Pro

I affirm.
"Give me liberty or give me death!"
Patrick Henry, founding father, wrote:
"Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"
Because I agree with Patrick Henry, I must affirm the resolution, Resolved: When in conflict, an individual's freedom of speech should be valued above a community's moral standards.
In order to clarify the round, I offer the following definitions. Conflict, being the specified limit of the resolution, is defined as discord of action, feeling, or effect; antagonism or opposition, as of interests or principles. An individual is a distinct, indivisible entity; a single thing, being, instance, or item. Freedom of speech is the right of people to express their opinions publicly without governmental interference, subject to the laws against libel, incitement to violence or rebellion, etc. To value is to consider with respect to worth, excellence, usefulness, or importance. And finally, moral standards are the beliefs and/or judgements of an individual or individuals based on what is right or wrong.

For reasons of clarifying the limiting factors of the resolution, I present the following observation and analysis:
Although both the resolution and its underlying puzzle set the parameters of the debate as requiring a conflict between both the affirmative's and the negative's set values, a harmful conflict may not exist when the underlying question includes that of freedom of speech. Such because that freedom of speech allows the expression of public opinions without interference, but is not considered in cases of libel (lying), incitement to violence (promotion of violence), and rebellion. So in all cases of conflict between any moral standard and freedom of speech, no physical may thus result.

I value liberty because it is the ultimate good implied by the resolution which questions the weight of two set values, one being freedom of speech and the other community moral. Liberty is the freedom from control, interference, obligation, restriction, hampering conditions, etc.; power or right of doing, thinking, speaking, etc., according to choice.
The affirmative side seeks to achieve ultimate liberty by means of the value criterion which is the preservation of individual liberty. The preservation of individual liberty best achieves the value premise of liberty because if we are all equal (and I say that we are), then no one has the right to infringe upon the rights of another.
Individual freedom will lead us to supreme liberty if leads us to the preservation of individual liberty, which it does. Thus, the answer to the underlying question of today's resolution is that individual freedom – and not the moral standards of a community – will lead us to the preservation of individual liberty – and thereby to liberty in its most pure form – because if a society treasures an individual's expression of ideals, then they must sacrifice the community's standards for the sacred and the profane; if moral judgements and standards are valued above our freedom to express ideologies, there is no "safety net" upon which we may stop these judgements from being valued above and destroying all of our liberties as a whole; and set limits exist on freedom of speech while moral judgements are created from opinions based by an individual or, as in this resolution, a group.

1. If a society treasures an individual's expression of ideals, then they must sacrifice the community's standards for the sacred and the profane. As the two are mutually exclusive, it is impossible to have liberty of thought and preserve the judgements of moral standards. An individual's pure and unfettered ability to speak and write about ideology can only thrive in an environment of tolerance. If the right to be offended (by individual expression) reigns supreme, liberty is thus precluded. In order to maintain a community moral standard, it is required that the right to feel offended is more important than the right to liberty. And where does the moral standard stop? It has no apparent limits. If somebody has been offended, has a moral standard thus been broken? Where as an individual's right to free speech has a natural limit.
John Stuart Mill (Essay on Utilitarianism) wrote:
"The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others."
Because free expression of ideas will invariably result in offense. To be truly free, all forms of expression must be unimpeded. Any selective control, no matter how trivial, will reduce all freedoms. Those who have control this so-called standard will be the only ones who feel free. Those who control will be free to make their subjective political judgements, but everybody else's freedom will be impeded. The exercise of individual rights with the absence of government control is the definition of liberty; you cannot have both government control and the exercise of individual rights while still achieving liberty for all. Tolerance is the price of liberty. Without tolerance, judgements which are no standards will diminish or eliminate individual freedom. Both community judgement and individual freedom can be maintained with tolerance for free speech of an individual or group of individuals, as intolerance is the first and most important ingredient of tyranny.

2. If moral standards and judgements are valued above our freedom to express ideologies, there is no "safety net" upon which we may stop these judgements from being valued above and destroying all our liberties as a whole. As this has not yet happened in our current society, this is a logical argument and must be analyzed as such in the most extreme cases. In opening, people view liberties as a whole under the concept of liberty. So if all liberties are tied in together, what is the value difference between these separate liberties? The answer is that there isn't. If we undervalue a single liberty which is in equality with all other liberties of any kind, what is to prevent all of these liberties from being undervalued? The answer is if all are equal, then nothing stops a moral judgement from affecting everything in the case that they are in fact equal. Society would simply not function properly if our liberty was detained because slavery would be justified because the value of human freedom would be undervalued relative to the needs of a majority's moral standards.
John Stuart Mill writes:
"If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."

3. Freedom of speech increases the quality of ideological thought. The reliance on freedom of speech is massive when in accordance to the accuracy of new media, economic development, and the purity of political exchange. As today's society perfectly portrays, bias exists on a mass scale in news media. As the wealth of nations has proven thus far, the free market economic system yields the largest amount of public and worldwide wealth in history. In a world under the free market economic system, goods from the primary, secondary, and service sectors flow smoothly through to wherever the highest demand is at the time. As such stated, moral standards have impeded upon the purity of political exchange. This current flaw of our political system ties in with the bias which does exist in our news media. At the time in which we live, major news media sources allow their moral philosophy of politics to show an extremist's bias towards liberal view points. As it currently stands, these sources believe that it is right to have the same political ideologies as democratic and liberal politicians, but that it is wrong to have any major difference from this main flow of ideas. As a result, the object of which we obtain most of our information, the television news, supplies biased, inaccurate information. Such a result ought to be avoided because . This preservation of individual liberty maximizes liberty altogether in this case in that the affirmation of this contention outweigh those (if any) which exist in negation of the claim; thus, individual liberty achieves liberty on a larger scale than the scale which the negative may insist exists on community moral standards.

For the reason I have previously stated, we can clearly conclude that liberty should be upheld and when in conflict, our individual liberty of expressing ourselves ought be valued above the moral standards of a community. And for these reasons I urge an affirmative ballot.
FourTrouble

Con

In many ways, this debate is about the fundamental disagreement between two distinct political philosophies: classic liberalism and communitarianism. Liberalism, as it is formulated by John Stuart Mill, argues that free rational choice is the ultimate good. Communitarianism, on the other hand, argues that individuals are defined by various communal attachments (e.g., ties to the family or to community traditions) so close to us that they can only be set aside at great cost, if at all.

Aristotle said, "man is by nature a social animal." We involuntarily pick up social attachments as children, in which rational choice plays no role whatsoever. In the words of Michael Sandel, we are "members of this family or community or nation or people, as bearers of this history, as sons or daughters of that revolution, as citizens of this republic," regardless of our choices. People do not choose their parents, first language, or the neighborhood in which they grew up. Individuals are socially constructed, determined by cultural values that are not chosen rationally.

Unlike liberalism, which subordinates local cultural values to the universal value of free rational choice, the communitarian prefers the value of particularity. Charles Taylor calls this a "politics of difference," which makes the recognition of the particularity and uniqueness of different groups more fundamental than rational choice. In practical terms, this means making special adjustments to the special requirements of distinctive groups, for if we refuse such adjustments in the name of some baseline measure of rational potential, we deny distinct groups their recognition as distinct and unique.

This view recognizes that values are generated by community morals and not by the abstract rule of pure liberty. I will argue that Pro's principle of "pure liberty" is incoherent and empty, and that it derives its value and meaning from a presupposed context of community morals. Community morals are valued over the freedom of speech because free speech does not exist except within the context of an already pre-existing set of community morals.

Harm Principle

"All that makes existence valuable to anyone depends on the enforcement of restraints upon the actions of other people. Some rules of conduct, therefore, must be imposed by law in the first place, and by opinion on many things which are not fit subjects for the operation of law."
John Stuart Mill

Pro rests his entire case on Mill's defense of liberty. That said, notice that Mill argues against Pro's "value premise" of "pure liberty." Mill argues that some restrictions on liberty must exist, and that these restrictions can be determined by the harm principle. According to Mill's logic, as long as some speech causes harm, every society must have some limitations on speech.

If we accept that speech cannot be defended absolutely, then we must ask ourselves the following question: how are we to determine the appropriate limits of free expression? The only consistent answer to this question is, by the values of our community.

Once it becomes clear that some limitations on speech are necessary, Pro's position quickly unravels and collapses on itself. For example, Pro argues that "libel" is subject to restrictions, but contradicts himself with the statement that "selective control, no matter how trivial, will reduce all freedoms." So which is it? Do we make room for selective control or do we allow libel? Pro's position offers no possibility of answering these questions.

Instead, because Pro's claims lack epistemological stability, Pro falls into a double bind. The problem with stipulating tolerance or pure liberty as a "value premise" or first principle, as Pro does, is that you cannot possibly be faithful to it. Sooner or later, a culture whose core values you are tolerating will reveal itself to be intolerant at that same core. At some point, confronted with the demand to surrender its viewpoint to tolerance, an intolerant culture will fight back with everything from hate speech to violence.

The response to such hate speech or violence is placing restrictions on liberty. The central question of this debate, then, is how to determine these retrictions. I answer community morals.

Free speech

Speech does not exist outside of a community in which it is judged. The idea of free speech or a free speech principle that exists independently of a community's morals does not exist. Think about it: the moment you ask what free speech is for, you admit the possibility of forms of speech that subvert the supposed good effects of free speech. Hence, as soon as you locate and move against speech that compromises the good effects of free speech, you are engaged in an act of censorship implicit in the concept of free speech. Because censorship is implicit in the free speech, the appropriate censorship is determined by the community morals used to judge any speech utterance.

Or suppose free speech is defined not in relation to its consequences but in terms of a moral imperative. It will necessarily come at the expense of some other possible moral imperative. Hence, by identifying a free speech principle in relation to a moral imperative, you again undermine the free speech principle by censoring other moral imperatives. The point is, any attempt to justify rather than merely identify a free speech principle will require acceptance of principles that will compromise the said free speech principle.

The limitations imposed on speech are determined by the community in which any speech utterance occurs. But limitations will always exist. Pro's ideal of "pure liberty" and an "unfettered ability to speak" is a fantasy that is unsupported epistemologically or ontologically.

Hate speech

An utterance is hate speech so long as some group finds it objectionable, and since this is a requiment almost any utterance will meet, hate speech is not a limitable category and can be anything, even the Declaration of Independence or the Golden Rule. It follows, then, that whether a form of speech is protected or not will depend on the prior investments of those who produce and receive it. Hate speech, so called, is always at once someone's rationality and someone else's abomination.

To put this another way, if hate speech is seen as evidence of moral or cognitive confusion, then we simply use rational thought and good reasoning to clear up the confusion. But if hate speech is simply wrong, if it is the expression of a despised morality, the morality of your enemy, you will not deny it simply through rational thought. Because it would be interpreted as morally indefensible, within the community, the community will feel morally obligated to flat out refuse its existence in public discourse.

Autonomy

Whereas Pro's argument focuses solely on the autonomy of the individual, my argument also takes the motive, context, and consequences of speech into account. That said, arguments for restricting speech according to community moral standards can be made that focus solely on the autonomy of the individual.

The freedom to develop as an individual depends on mutual understandings between individuals and their community. Speech that violates this mutual understanding (aggressive or hateful speech) denies the right of individuals and groups to participate freely and equally in public discourse. Restricting aggressive speech does not violate the liberty and equality of individuals, but rather, secures the liberty and equality of individuals in the public sphere.

In other words, restricting speech when it conflicts with community morals is a way of securing the equal status of citizenship for all members of society by eliminating messages from the public domain that would detract from that status. Freedom of speech is an important right, but more fundamental is the status of an individual as a member of the community deserving equal concern, respect, and rights.
Debate Round No. 2
jack_ling

Pro

jack_ling forfeited this round.
FourTrouble

Con

Pro forfeits. Extend my arguments, please.
Debate Round No. 3
jack_ling

Pro

jack_ling forfeited this round.
FourTrouble

Con

Pro has deactivated his account and forfeited. Please vote Con. Thanks.
Debate Round No. 4
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by tkubok 4 years ago
tkubok
What about libel and slander?
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by DakotaKrafick 4 years ago
DakotaKrafick
jack_lingFourTroubleTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con's arguments were so amazing, they left Pro no other choice than to FF and ultimately close his account.
Vote Placed by Xerge 4 years ago
Xerge
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Vote Placed by 16kadams 4 years ago
16kadams
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Vote Placed by imabench 4 years ago
imabench
jack_lingFourTroubleTied
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Reasons for voting decision: FF