The Instigator
birthdayfan
Pro (for)
Losing
5 Points
The Contender
Teucer32
Con (against)
Winning
6 Points

Resolved: that governments have a moral obligation to assist other nations in need.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Teucer32
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/28/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,790 times Debate No: 33019
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (2)

 

birthdayfan

Pro

I would like to start off framing this debate.

First of all, this debate is going to be Lincoln-Douglas Value Debate.

This debate will follow NCFCA LD Debate speech structure. (AC then NC then 1AR then NR then 2AR)
Remember: During the rebuttals(1AR, NR, and 2AR), no new arguments may be presented! You may only refute your opponent's position!

Round 1:

I will begin constructing the affirmative's/my case.(AC)
The next speech will be for the negative to both construct his/her position and to refute my arguments/contentions.(NC)

Round 2:
The affirmative will respond to the negative's arguments and reaffirm his/my case/side of the resolution.(1AR)
The following speech will be for the negative to refute my arguments and negate the resolution.(NR)

Round 3:
As per NCFCA speech guidelines, the 2AR is the final speech. In this speech, the affirmative is to refute the negative's arguments and reaffirm his/my side of the resolution.
The negative side that is constructed by Debate.org for the third round will only be used to thank for the debate, NOT for rebuttals, arguments, closing statements, or anything of the sort!

Thank you for the debate and good luck!

I shall now begin my case.

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“All men are by nature equal and free.”
It is because of the truth of this quote by Founding Father James Wilson, that I stand Resolved: That governments have a moral obligation to assist other nations in need.

Government: The governing body of people of a nation, state, or community.
(New Oxford American Dictionary)
Moral obligation: An obligation arising out of considerations of right and wrong.
(Princeton Wordnet)
Assistance: The activity of contributing to the fulfillment of a need.
(Princeton Wordnet)
Nation: A large aggregate of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language, inhabiting a particular country or territory.
(Oxford Dictionary)
Need: Anything that is necessary but lacking.
(Princeton Wordnet)
Human Rights: The fundamental rights of life, liberty, and property to which all humans are entitled.
(The Free Dictionary)

My value/highest goal in this debate round is: Universal Human Rights.

My criterion/means of acheiving my value is: Governmental Assistance

Now that I have established my value and criterion, I will establish my three main points/contentions.

Contention 1: Human Rights are Universal.
All humans have rights. This statement is universally agreed upon and is self-evident. Let’s look at the phrase “human rights” Human rights are rights for humans. We can see from this that they are universal and every human has them.
Nobel Peace Prize-holder, Iranian lawyer, and activist Shirin Ebadi sums up the universality of human rights in her statement, “Human rights is a universal standard. It is a component of every religion and every civilization.”


Contention 2: Rights Transcend Borders.
To understand why rights transcend borders, we must understand that human rights are of the utmost importance, and their value cannot diminished by the human construct of national borders. Both me and the negative can agree that governments should protect their citizens’ human rights. Why do we believe this? We believe this, because we believe that citizens’ human rights are valuable. If citizens’ human rights are so valuable why are non-citizens’ human rights less valuable? Since, every human has the same rights and they are universal, we cannot say that one person’s human rights are less valuable than another person’s human rights.


Contention 3: Governmental Assistance leads to Human Rights.
We have already seen that universal human rights is the highest goal in today’s debate round. However, we must ask, “How are Universal Human Rights achieved?” That is where my criterion of Governmental Assistance comes in. Through governmental assistance, human rights are protected impartially and universally.

We can see how governmental assistance leads to my value in that one year alone, an estimated 14 million of the poorest people in the world died, while only an estimated 4 million would have died if this population had the same death rate as the global rich.
(D. R. Gwatkin and M. Guillot, The Burden of Disease Among the Global Poor: Current Situation, Future Trends, and Implications for Strategy, World Bank, Washington, D.C., 1999.)

An example of governmental assistance leading to universal human rights is the assistance given to Haiti.

After a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, the governments of the world assisted the poor nation with $3.1 billion worth of aid.
(http://www.globalhumanitarianassistance.org...)

This assistance helped the Haitian people survive the aftermath and to protect their human rights.
( http://www.huffingtonpost.com...)

Former Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Anna Lindh sums up the need to assist other nations in need in her statement, “Human rights are praised more than ever and violated as much as ever.”


Let’s Recap
Three key points have been made,

1. Universal Human Rights is the highest value in today’s debate round.

2. Governmental Assistance leads to Universal Human Rights.


3. Since a citizen’s human rights are so valuable and universal, non-citizen’s rights should not be excluded.


Therefore, governments do have a moral obligation to assist other nations in need.
Teucer32

Con

Hey, birthdayfan—thanks for setting up this debate! You’ve set forth a pretty interesting resolution to debate, so I thought I’d get in on the action.

I have never debated in Lincoln-Douglas Value format; however, I think you’ve described it well enough for me to understand.

Good luck!
______________________________________________________

It’s my task to negate the resolution, so let’s take a look at it:

“Resolved: That governments have a moral obligation to assist other nations in need."

I. Interpretation


A. First, I would like to point out an ambiguity in the resolution as stated. It is not clear whether the word “governments” refers to all governments or just some governments. Our debate could go in many different directions, depending on how we choose to interpret this word.

So let’s see how birthdayfan interprets “governments.” Uh oh. It seems like birthdayfan’s interpretation does not resolve our ambiguity—because he has interpreted the singular “government” rather than the plural “governments.” This is a mistake by birthdayfan.

Well, in that case I will address both possible meanings of “governments.”

1. Governments = all governments. This interpretation is very problematic for birthdayfan. Let’s assume that all governments have a moral obligation to assist others in need. In that case, needy nations would be morally obligated to assist other needy nations. For a more concrete example, suppose nation A has enough drinking water for 25% of its population, and nation B also has enough drinking water for 25% of its population. Is A morally obligated to assist B by providing it with drinking water? Certainly not—that would be awful!

2. Now let’s address the other interpretation: Governments = some governments. In this case, maybe only the richest countries have a moral obligation to assist others in need. However, if birthdayfan were to choose this interpretation, he would be committed to showing who exactly has this moral obligation.

Voters, don’t like birthdayfan get away with not choosing one of these interpretations!

B. Next, I would like to address another issue of interpretation. Birthdayfan has argued for an interpretation of the resolution that is unintelligible to me. This unintelligibility arises from his interpretation of the word “need.” We should be able to insert his interpretation of the word into the resolution, and it should make sense; but when we do this, we can see that it makes almost no sense at all: “…That governments have a moral obligation to assist other nations in anything that is necessary but lacking.” Is this really the definition Birthdayfan wants to use? What does this even mean?


II. Contention Debate

A. Contention I: Human rights are Universal. Birthdayfan's reasoning here is problematic. He argues that the universality of human rights is derived from the meaning of the term "human rights"--he argues that you can see it by just looking at the phrase. But just because the term "human" applies to all humans doesn't mean that all humans have certain rights. By birthdayfan's logic, I could use the term "gnat rights" to arrive at the conclusion that pesky little insects have rights. Obviously gnats do not have universal rights, so birthdayfan needs to come up with a better argument here.

B. Contention III: Governmental Assistance leads to Human Rights. This proposition is problematic. We need governmental assistance for human rights to exist? In Contention I, birthdayfan argued that human rights already existed. Now we need governmental assitance to create them? Voters, please make sure birthdayfan makes his position clear. To be clear, it is my contention that human rights--if they exist--exist regardless of whether governments choose to assist people.



I'll stop there. Thanks again for the debate, birthdayfan!

Debate Round No. 1
birthdayfan

Pro

I. Interpretation.

A. Governments.

Sub-Point 1:
I would like to clarify that when we looks at the phrase, "...that governments have a moral obligation..." We are talking about all governments. For clarity, I will provide an example. If a person said, "I love debaters." then that person doesn't mean some or a specific few, that person is talking about all debaters.

Sub-Point 2:
My opponent brought up the argument that it is immoral to say that needy nations are morally obligated to assist other nations, at their citizens' expense. However, this argument relies on the false premise that assistance requires resources. Let's look at the definition of 'assistance', it is, "The activity of contributing to the fulfillment of a need." A need is, "Anything that is necessary but lacking." Thus, we see that to assist is to Contribute towards the fulfillment of anything that is necessary, but lacking. Now, how is this relevant? This is relevant, because a government with little resources can still assist without hurting its people. An example of assistance, that does not consume resources, but aligns with the definition is Diplomatic Assistance. Governments can assist and fulfill certain needs through peace talks, sending diplomats, and persuading nations. This means that even governments like Haiti's can assist other nations in need.

B. Resolutional Analysis

My opponent brought up the argument that when you put the definitions into the resolution, they are unintelligible. However, when we really look at this, it isn't the case. For example, let's put all the definitions into the resolution, not just one segment. Resolved: That the governing body of people of a large aggregate of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language,inhabiting a particular country or territory, have an obligation arising out of considerations of right and wrong to contribute towards the fulfillment of anything that is necessary but lacking, in other large aggregates of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language, inhabiting a particular country or territory that lack something necessary.

However, for all simplicity we will be arguing the simple resolution stated, "Resolved: That governments have a moral obligation to assist other nations in need."

II. Contention Arguments.

A. Contention I.
My opponent triied to argue that human rights don't exist and that not all humans have rights, just like gnats don't have rghts. However, he has shown no logical backing for this point. Rather, the existence of human rights' value and human rights itself is self-evident.
Quoting the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,” This shows that the human rights’ inherent value is self-evident and obvious. Without the essential rights of life, liberty, and property, we are left dead, enslaved, and homeless. Finally, my opponent has not offered an alternate definition of human rights(The fundamental rights of life, liberty, and property to which all humans are entitled.), thus the definition stands in this debate.

B. Contention III.
My opponent's argument against my third contention simply requires a point of clarification. In my third contention, I stated that my criterion of governmental assistance protects human rights, not that it creates them. Every human has rights, but they can be violated. The main point in my third contention was that governmental assistance protects human rights. He has not refuted that point.

III. Values.
Now that I have successfully refuted my opponent's arguments I will now go over my value. My value/highest goal in this debate is that of Universal Human Rights. He has not shown why my value isn't the highest goal in today's debate thus it stands. My opponent may agree with my value, but still needs to negate the resolution/moral obligation.

IV. Contention II.
My opponent has dropped my second contention. My second contention was the basis for why the moral obligation to assist other nations in need exists. Since, my opponent has not addressed it, it is dropped, thus stands in this debate. Since, the contention stands, I have successfully proved that governments have a moral obligation to assist other nations in need. I would like to remind the audience that we are in rebuttals, thus no new arguments may be made, we may only refute the presented arguments from now on. This means that my opponent may not address any
dropped arguments or contentions, thus they stand.

V. Moral Obligation.
My opponent has shown no reason why governments do not have a moral obligation to assist other nations in need.

VI. Definitions.
I would like to remind the audience that all definitions that my oppent does not address, stand in this debate.

VII. Recap.
Finally, I would like to reiterate the three key points of my case.

1. Universal Human Rights is the highest value in today’s debate.

2. Governmental Assistance leads to Universal Human Rights.


3. Since a citizen’s human rights are so valuable and universal, non-citizen’s rights should not be excluded.

Therefore, governments have a moral obligation to assist other nations in need.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I would like to remind everyone again that we are in rebuttals. In rebuttals, as stated in the beginning of the debate, you may not bring up new arguments. You may only refute existing arguments and clarify. No new arguments may be presented.

Thank you for accepting the debate, Teucer32.
Teucer32

Con

As birthdayfan has reminded me, we are now in the rebuttals portion of the debate. That being the case, it is now my duty to refute and clarify.

Overview

In the first round, I presented two possible interpretations of the word "governments." In his last note, birthdayfan chose one of them: governments = all governments. I think birthdayfan should lose the debate on this point, and I will explain this in detail. Furthermore, I will defend my objection that birthdayfan's interpretation of the resolution is incoherent. And finally, I will defend my objections to birthdayfan's contentions.

I will proceed with a line-by-line analysis of birthdayfan's last remarks.

I. Interpretation

A. "Governments"

Sub-Point 1:
I am happy to accept birthdayfan's interpretation of "governments" referring to all governments.

Sub-Point 2: In my first round remarks, I noted that this interpretation of "governments" is problematic for birthdayfan, because it requires needy nations to give to other needy nations. Birthdayfan responds by arguing that my argument has some sort of underlying assumption about resources. But even though I used resources in my example last round, my argument still stands--requiring anything of needy nations is immoral!

To clarify my position, here's another example: Suppose that a hurricane hits nation A, and, on the same day, an earthquake ravages nation B. Under birthdayfan's interpretation of "governments," nation A would have a moral obligation to assist nation B--and vice versa. But really, we should not expect nation A to have any obligation--moral, or otherwise--to assist nation B. Morally speaking, A's only obligation in this scenario is to it's own people. Any assistance A gives to B would be supererrogatory--it would go beyond the call of moral duty.

To be clear, it is not my position that other nations might have a moral obligation to nations A and B. Suppose there is a nation C that stayed clear of any natural disasters. Maybe C has a moral obligation to A and B. However, it is ridiculous to expect anything of nations A and B in a time of such peril.

Birthdayfan tries to skirt the issue by noting that a nation like Haiti can assist other nations in many different ways. But suppose there is a country that doesn't need anything but resources. Do we expect Haiti to provide them then? Under birthdayfan's interpretation of "governments" we would still expect something from Haiti. Suppose, for the sake of argument, that there were a nation whose only need was food for one person. The only way to assist this country is to provide food to the one person. Under birthdayfan's interpretation, Haiti would be obligated to provide food to this country whether Haiti had any food or not. You can now see how ridiculous it would be to expect this from Haiti. Sometimes diplomacy and persuasion aren't going to be an option.

In other words, sometimes a need can only be fulfilled by very specific action--like providing a resource. If that action cannot be taken by a particular country because it lacks a resource, it would be absurd to say that it has a moral obligation to assist another country by providing that resource. Yet this is what birthdayfan argues.

With that said, I believe I clearly win on this point alone: it is not the case that all governments have a moral obligation to assist other nations in need. Birthdayfan would have been wise to interpret "governments" to refer to some governments rather than all governments. However, he hasn't. I believe I have proven the absurdity of the proposition that all governments have a moral obligation to assist others in need. That said, I ask that you vote for me.

B. Resolutional Analysis - Unintelligibility / Incoherence

I applaud birthdayfan for substituting all of his definitions into the resolution. This is an important exercise that I believe a lot of debaters sometimes overlook.

But notice that birthdayfan has cleverly inserted words like "fulfillment" into his new version of the resolution. That word is NOWHERE in his definitions.

Also notice that birthday fan inserted his definition of the singular "government" into his new version of the resolution. That's not even the word in the original resolution!

This point may come off as petty, but it is my position that the pro in this debate has an obligation to present an intelligible interpretation of the resolution to win this round. Otherwise, the resolution makes no sense! Birthdayfan has been careless with his definitions, and he should not be rewarded.

II. Contention Debate

A. Contention I

Birthdayfan claims that I have no logical backing to my point that gnats don't have universal rights. This is not true. I was pointing out that Birthdayfan's logic was flawed. Here is my interpretation of Birthdayfan's logic on this contention:

1. "Human Rights" applies to all humans. (Definition)

2. Therefore, human rights exist and are universal. (Assertion of existence)

This same logic can be applied to gnats.

1. "Gnat Rights" applies to all gnats. (Definition)

2. Therefore, gnat rights exist and are universal. (Assertion of existence)

You as a voter can see how problematic this logic is. Birthdayfan claims that I do not provide another definition for "Human Rights," but this point does not matter. Unfortunately for birthdayfan, definitions do not imply existence. I can provide a definition for "unicorn," but that does not mean that unicorns exist. Similarly, one can provide a definition of "Human Rights," and that doesn't mean human rights exist.

B. Contention III

On this point, birthdayfan has clarified his position. He means to say that governmental assistance protects human rights, not that it creates them. Great.

Birthdayfan says, "Every human has rights, but they can be violated."

But cross-apply my analysis from Interpretation Sub-Point 2. Suppose in nation C that one person is in need of food. And suppose that nation A has just been hit by a hurricane and has no food. Has nation A violated the person in nation C's human rights? Of course not. Yet birthdayfan says nation A has a moral obligation to help nation C, even though it cannot.

Nobody has a moral obligation to do something he can't do.

III. Values

Birthdayfan claims that I haven't refuted his goal of Universal Human rights. However, I actually have. That is the entire point of the Contention I debate.

IV. Contention II

Yeah, I'll concede Contention II. But I don't need to win it.

V. Moral Obligation

Birthdayfan: "My opponent has shown no reason why governments do not have a moral obligation to assist other nations in need."

False. See Interpretation Sub-Point 2 for an example.

VI. Definitions

Birthdayfan: "I would like to remind the audience that all definitions that my oppent does not address, stand in this debate."

I won't dispute this point. However, I think the issues that I've pointed out with a few of the definitions are damning enough.

Conclusion

Voters, I should win this debate on Interpretation Sub-Point 2 alone. Please refer back to this point when evaluating the round. Again, it is absurd to expect assistance from nations who are unable to provide assistance. Even if nations can provide diplomacy and persuasion, sometimes that is not enough to actually assist. So we should not expect anything from those nations. We must only expect assistance from those who are able to provide it.

If the voter is unpersuaded by this argument, I would ask he or she to look to the resolutional analysis and the contention debate.

Birthdayfan unfortunately made a mistake of interpreting "governments" to refer to all governments. Universal Human Rights may be a noble goal--I'll concede that much. But we cannot expect all governments to be morally obligated in some situations. Therefore, it is not the case that all governments have a moral obligation to assist other nations in need.
Debate Round No. 2
birthdayfan

Pro

I. Interpretation

A. Governments

Sub-Point 1
Opponent Agreed.

Sub-Point 2
My opponent stated that a needy nation's government doesn't have any moral obligations, except to its own people. He then went on to refute the idea of Diplomatic assistance, saying that some nations only need food, water, and resources of the like. However, he has shown no logically backing for this point, except for that diplomatic assistance doesn't always work. Thus, if I can prove that diplomatic assistance does work, this point is invalidated. Although, in some cases diplomatic assistance may not directly work, it can work in action with other forms of assistance. For example, if Haiti and Honduras are needy, America assists Haiti, but can't assist Honduras due to diplomatic strife or lack of peace, then Haiti can assist Honduras with diplomatic assistance. Once Haiti has finished assisting Honduras diplomatically, the diplomatic strife will be eliminated, peace restored, and America can assist Honduras with humanitarian assistance. All of this fulfilled a need, abides by the definition of assistance, and does not consume any resources, thus does not harm its citizens.

Resolutional Analysis
1. Assistance: The activity of contributing to the fulfillment of a need.|Clearly, fulfillment is in the definition.

2. The substituted version is not perfect, that's why I said we should debate the simplified version; the one that started the debate. We could spend 100 rounds nit picking at my poor grammar, however, that does nothing to further this debate, it doesn't warrant a vote for either side, and distracts from the main issue.

II. Contentions

A. Contention I

I would like to clarify that my definition argument on "Human Rights" was for clarity. Also, I would like to remind the voters that he has dropped the argument that human rights are self-evident.
The existence of human rights' value and human rights itself is self-evident. Quoting the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,” This shows that the human rights’ inherent value is self-evident and obvious. Without the essential rights of life, liberty, and property, we are left dead, enslaved, and homeless.

B. Contention III
This is the same point as in Point I. INterpretation, Sub-Point 2. However, he is missing the point of this contention. Human RIghts can be directly violated, either by dictators, other people, etc. My point was that Governmental Assistance leads to the protection of human rights universally.

III. Values
I would like to clarify that the moral obligation, contentions, values, and criterions are completely separate entities, but to elaborate extensively on this wouldn't do much to further the debate.

IV. Contention II
My opponent agreed with this point, however, this is the entire reason for the moral obligation. My point here was that protecting citizens' rights, but not non-citizens' rights is hypocritical. If citizens’ human rights are so valuable why are non-citizens’ human rights less valuable? Since, every human has the same rights and they are universal, we cannot say that one person’s human rights are less valuable than another person’s human rights.
It was in ths=is point that I also reiterated and confirmed that human rights are universal.

V. Moral Obligation
This will be decided by the presented arguments.

VI. Defintions
I have refuted all challenged definitions, thus, they all stand.

Conclusion
I strongly urge the voters to evaluate my refutation of Interpretation, Sub-Point 2 and to consider that my opponent agrees with Contention 2 of my case, thus it stands.

It is for these reasons that I stand Resolved: That governments have a moral obligation to assist other nations in need.

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As per the rules established in round 1, this is the last speech and the final round is simply for the negative to thank for the debate. As do I thank the negative for the great debate!
Teucer32

Con

Following the rules of this debate, my portion of Round 3 is simply reserved for thanking birthdayfan for the debate.

Thanks for the interesting topic, birthdayfan!
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by YYW 4 years ago
YYW
A libertarian who is championing an interventionist foreign policy platform that amounts to an international duty to rescue among states? Interesting. I'll think about taking this. Very interesting.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by davidtaylorjr 4 years ago
davidtaylorjr
birthdayfanTeucer32Tied
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Total points awarded:23 
Reasons for voting decision: Very interesting debate. I agree with Con, but have to say I liked the conduct of Pro better.
Vote Placed by Noumena 4 years ago
Noumena
birthdayfanTeucer32Tied
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Total points awarded:33 
Reasons for voting decision: Most of the problems brought to Pro's contentions by Con were easily subsumed by simply further clarifying what it the argument actually was. Example: Con trying to mount a point on Pro's poor wording of "protecting rights" vs. "creating rights". The point though which Pro was hard pressed to defend was his value, that of universal rights. Con's reductio (though poorly worded which lead to some confusion) was that we can't argue that something is truly self evident in the face of obvious denial. This is a problem I've seen in a lot of LD debates. Furthermore the recourse to the consequences of not respecting rights was misguided on Pro's part though it didn't play any part in the justification of self-evidence so it shouldn't go against Pro. It's just a null point. Arguments to Con because Pro was unable to back up his foundational premise. Sources to Pro for utilizing them in his C3 as well as conduct for Con's sometimes obvious attempts to obfuscate Pro's points.