The Instigator
Con (against)
0 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
3 Points

Should the government have any authority to legislate morality?

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/7/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,820 times Debate No: 35362
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (4)
Votes (1)




Over the past several years the government has taken an obscene role in legislating morality. There are many facets in this argument, yet I think we should limit them to only a bare few.
First: The governing bodies of many nations worldwide have taken a stance on the validity of marriage.
It is a hot debate that is laced with religious dogma, pseudoscience, and public debates on morality.
The original definition of marriage is an intimate or close union. Legally speaking, marriage affords certain government benefits such as, but not limited to: taxation rebates and write offs; estate and inheritance benefits; power of attorney; etc.
None of those benefits would change if conferred upon a homosexual or heterosexual union.
Second: The existence of "sin taxes."
I, obviously, am taking some artistic freedom in defining a sin as a religious machination that assumes the facade of morality. There are numerous consumption or luxury taxes in place that penalize citizens for wanting to obtain finery. It is something that is accepted at this point, yet the government wanted to increase revenue and orchestrated sin taxes. Those would be taxes on tobacco and alcohol. They fund things like schools and community outreach. Something that on the surface looks to be noble. If we delve deeper though, it becomes apparent that this is an unbalanced notion. There are several programs that lend aid and even profit to individuals that have children and use for community programs. They are not paying for their usage, instead relying on individuals that participate in "immoral behaviour".
Third: The regulation of adult enterprise.
There has long been a drive to clean up the"smut" in communities by suspending liquor licences to gentlemen's clubs, suspending business licenses of adult novelty shops, and making it difficult or criminal to procure adult oriented materials. Each time a business that caters to adults opens, providing that it is dealing with sexual taboos, it is met with an onslaught of protesters and red tape.
These are only three examples of legislation that is primarily geared towards the morality of the populous.


I would like to thank my opponent for creating a debate on if government should have any authority to legislate morality. As Pro, I hold that, should government exixt, the government should have some power, but not absolute power, to legislate morality. As Con, my opponent is arguing that government should not have any authoirty to legislate morality.

Because I am taking the stance that they should only have some power, there is no need to defend any etreme cases; I only need to show that some cases are legit. I will argue that the following three examples are some cases where the government should have the authority to legislate.

1) Murder

2) Rape

3) Theft

Under nearly every moral compass, these three things are viewed as immoral. It is also viewed that the government should take measures to limit the instances of these actions through legislation with crime and punishment. I will keep the arguement basic at this point and allow my opponent to express why they belive that these should not be legislated by the government.

Thank you,
Debate Round No. 1


I would like to thank my opponent for her thought provoking rebuttal.
I would like to start by acquiescing that in the absence of some rare or extreme cases; rape, murder, and theft are all considered highly immoral acts. That being said, it is my role as the Con to pick apart the argument.
James Madison said, "It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they... undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is today, can guess what it will be tomorrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed?"
Since law is force, it should be restricted to the one purpose for which individuals may legitimately use force--to protect our natural rights. As Thomas Jefferson put it in his First Inaugural Address, the law should "restrain men from injuring one another" but "leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits.
He is defining crime as an act that injures, or seriously impedes rights. If we take James Madison as an expert of law, (he is hailed as the father of the Constitution and drafted the Bill of Rights) then we see that, although theft, murder, and rape are immoral, they are criminal because they are victim based.
Now the debate has evolved into whether or not crimes are moral, obviously they are not. This still leaves the question of whether the government should have the ability to pass laws based on morality alone, with or without the virtue of a victim or a violation of justice or injury. I still stand firm on the notion that all laws that get passed should be written ethically, but have criminal intent at their core. The three examples from round one gay marriage, "sin taxes, and abolition of adult enterprises (specifically when treated differently from other businesses that hold similar licenses), are all examples of legislated morality with little or no intrinsic value of the spirit of the law behind them.
If we allow laws to be passed solely on the standing of morality, then it will not be long before all of the new laws are slanted toward the values and credos of the lawmakers, not of the populace as a whole. Morals are a personal code of what is right and wrong; the catalyst being personal. What is right for some is rarely right for others and never right for all.
In the United States we have a representative government and it is important that we represent as many as possible.
This is most succinctly achieved by relegating lawmaking into areas of criminal violations and preventing it from drifting into values, beliefs, or morals.


I would like to thank my opponent for their argument. I will expand this round upon how everything my opponent has argued for is nothing but an extension of morals.

It shouldn't need to be defined, but here is the definition of moral - "of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior" [1].

All we need to do to see that my opponent is still arguing for moral legislation is to expand his answers with "why?" He says that while the stealing is immoral, that is not why it is legislated. It is legislated because it is "victim based" or victimizes others. But that begs the question, why should the government care if something victimizes another person? Just because one is victimized, why should it be illegal? Because most believe that victimizing someone is wrong, which is a moral statement.

This just expands that the law is ultimately based on morals, sometimes you just have to dig a little. Without "right" and "wrong" (as morals determine) there is no ought or should, and so there is no law and there is nothing that law should do (unless my opponent is suggesting the laws be only for the benefit of the law makers regardless of morals).

I thank my opponent as we move into the final round for closing statements.

Debate Round No. 2


I would like to thank my opponent for their argument. Several good points were raised in this debate and I will keep my conclusion short. My opponent is arguing that laws that are victim based are also morally based, but I think that point is also crippling to the argument. Many things are morally wrong, but not criminally wrong.
It is not a coincidence that it is called a criminal code. A moral code is personal and governs a very small group. If we were to have each morality passed into law, we would have a system that was both confusing and over run, partially due to the vast and varying morals, and partly due to the many conflicting morals.
It would be impossible to extrapolate morals from criminal wrongs, yet I don't think that constitutes the rights of lawmakers to pass laws that deal solely with morality. I would never attempt to debate that crimes are morally based, but I would argue that it is not a good reason to pass a law that is solely moral.
Laws may seem solely moral, but they exist to protect citizens from victimization, not to regulate what people do for themselves, by themselves.
I would like to thank my opponent in advance for her posting.


My opponent did not dispute that legislation against victimization is a moral legislation, nor did my opponent argue that we should not legislate against such things. As such, my opponent has agreed that the government should have some authority to legislate some morality. The resolution has been affirmed.

Thank you,
Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by MathandScienceprodigy 4 years ago

1) The term legal is often used by the courts in reference to an inference of the law formulated as a matter of construction, rather than established by actual proof, such as legal malice.

2) Morality is the principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior.


The Government legislates laws based upon moral ethics. Therefore, yes.
Posted by Ore_Ele 5 years ago
If you think that me saying "murder is immoral" is volatile and dangerous thinking, then I'm sorry.
Posted by BrooklynHaze 5 years ago
That's some dangerous thinking you're doing there Pro. Morality is volatile.
Posted by Ragnar 5 years ago
Regarding my vote: That was bloody close! It was only when reviewing sources that I realized the area pro came ahead with; I nearly just have feedback. Had con done slightly better in either of the other two areas, I probably would not have noticed it and given him the vote (while still agreeing with pro).
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Ragnar 5 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct: Both sides were a little too good, breaking the flow of the arguments to effectively hug. S&P: No noteworthy flaws. Sources: Only one source was used (a dictionary, some gain, but not enough alone to claim the source vote), on a debate that called for several. Had the source for a certain presidential quote been used (and not countered) I believe con would have taken this area (without a source for the quote, it's an appeal to undefined authority); plus sources contribute to organization. Argument: Pro is correct that the resolution has been affirmed, convincing me to agree with that after the debate... However DDO voting standards ( search "(3 Points)") are not for merely convincing me, Analysis Refutation & Organization are what argument is voted on; to which these two both did a great job leaving the issue too almost too closely matched for a vote. However pro takes the lead in organization largely from use of line brea