The Instigator
spiritmeetthesoul
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
TruthHurts
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

States are fundamentally immoral

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Post Voting Period
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It's a Tie!
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/12/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 667 times Debate No: 56497
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (0)
Votes (0)

 

spiritmeetthesoul

Pro

My position is simple and I would like to be simply refuted if possible.
Unless in self-defense, violence is immoral. The government often uses violence offensively, therefore, the government is immoral.

How could I be clearer.

Refute that if you can.
TruthHurts

Con

Let's be clear on what Pro is arguing. Pro is stating that the concept of a state is fundamentally immoral; that is, all states and governments are immoral. Thus, to win this round, all I must do is demonstrate that, at least in one instance, a state is not immoral.

I do not really have much work to do, then, because Pro's own resolution frames my argument. Pro claims, "The government often uses violence offensively, therefore, the government is immoral." Firstly, Pro has not done any work proving violence is immoral in this fashion; in fact, under a utilitarian calculus, it is often advantageous to execute pre-emptive strikes, etc.

Secondly, not all governments do this. A fundamental part of the state is not offensive violence. For instance, Switzerland remains perpetually neutral, never engaging in offenseive warfare.

Thus, I have negated the resolution with a simple counterexample. Remember, Pro has the BOP in the round and, until the arguments Pro has put forth are better warranted, I will refrain from extensive constructives and rebuttals.

I look forward to future argumentation.
Debate Round No. 1
spiritmeetthesoul

Pro

Firstly, I did assume that nonviolence is universally preferable to violence and I believe that to be true and generally accepted. For example, can you imagine a society where children were encouraged to settle disputes with murder instead of dialogue? If I need $10 would you prefer I ask you to lend it to me or stick a gun to your head and threaten you. The examples are endless, and the answers are clearly the later in all cases. I challenge you to give me a single example in civilian life where violence is preferable to non-violence.

Your idea of pre-emption is a straw man because while you might be able to demonstrate that pre-emptive strike could be “advantageous,” this is not the same as being moral and you have walked off the map at this point.

Furthermore, I didn't say that in order to be immoral violence must be used against another state or "engage in offensive warfare." I didn't use the word warfare, I said "The government often uses violence offensively."

If the government resorts to any violence (self-defense excluded) including on it's own territory and against it's own people then it is immoral. Has switzerland ever used violence other than for self defense against it's own citizens? I'm sure like all states it does daily, but here's just one example to prove my point has.http://www.swissinfo.ch...

Lastly, Max Weber defines states as having a monopoly on violence in a geographical area, if this is accepted then by definition states not only use violence but derive their very legitimacy by holding a monopoly on it. Regardless of Max Weber, the reality is in all instances only the state claims the right to use force and does so with impunity.

My argument holds.
TruthHurts

Con

Pro's argument is horrible, and I will use this round to demonstrate how this is the case. Pro's entire argument is based upon the idea that one immoral act makes the entire concept of a state immoral itself. Pro cannot make this link; I could lie to a friend once, which is immoral, but that does not make me an immoral person. A single action does not, and cannot, demonstrate the overall morality of a collective entity like a state.

Pro, repeatedly, misses the point and, more importantly, conflates people acting within the state and the state itself. The state itself is the philosophical conception which I am defending here, and I cannot protect against every negative act. Immoral actions by individuals within the state does not make the state immoral, and Pro cannot make that link. Morever, these sort of actions are not inherent within a state; that is, by nature, immoral violence is not encoded in the DNA of a state.

I. Constructive


A, The State of Nature

Pro claims that states are immoral. What, then, could be the alternative to the state? The state of nature.

The state of nature is the hypothetical premordial state in utter anarchy and absense of governance. In the state of nature, people are generally presumed to be equal, fairly preoccupied with self-preservation, and have several innate rights claims. One of these includes an innate right to punish those who infringe on the rights of yourself and others [1]. We gather that this is a fundamental right because it is necessary in following the law of nature, which commands that we preserve ourselves and, if not conflicting with our own safety, others [2]. In order to ensure the survival of a premordial society, then, it was necessary for a sort of vigilantism to occur, to deter, incapacitate, retribute, and rehabilitate.

Leaving this state of nature, of course, has obvious benefits. The main impetus, however, for doing so revolves around several inconvenienves present in the state of nature: 1) Lack of a tangible, universal law, 2) Lack of ability to enforce puishment, and 3) Lack of an impartial adjudicator in conflict [3]. To avoid these difficulties, men banded together and transferred some of their natural rights, including a right to punish, to the government in a social contract, which outlined the rules of society and the obligations of the government.

The central role of the government, then, is to enforce the social contract and to punish those who go against it. If a government fails to do this, then, depending on which philosopher you prefer, the people have a right to revolt against the government, or the government fails to even be a legitimate government in the first place. Thus, we can see that any state, including the United States, has a moral obligation to its constituents to enforce the social contract and punish those who go against this, including murderers. Failure to do so involves, in effect, a lie and a betrayal of trust.

This state of nature could range from a toxic society marred by vigilantism and prejudice to a outright destructive one rife with crime, in which no productive societal growth would take place. Thus, massive rights violations would take place in the state of nature, which surely amounts to vastly more immorality than could possibly be perpetuated by a legitimate state.

In this constructive, I have demonstrated where the government derives its monopoly on force. What is important to note here is that Pro completely misunderstands what this means; this right revolves around the right to punish offenders who pose threat to others. This is self-defense. This ability to monopolize force allows for the maximization of rights and utility for all members of society. This, therefore, is moral, especially when weighed against any alternatives which Pro must defend.

Rebuttal

Pro begins by claiming that nonviolence is preferable to violence. This is, of course, generally true. However, many times a state must engage in proactive measures that fall outside the bounds of self-defense to ensure the protection of its citizens' rights. For instance, taking part in World War I was not a result of self-defense; however, fighting in it protect American interests and, by extension, the rights of its citizens. Engagement within led to economic gains, the protection of allies, and the rise of peace. This peace is preferable, of course, to war in any moral system. Offensive actions, however, were required to end it. Thus, under a utilitarian calculus, this is preferable.

Pro badly misunderstands this argument; I am using a utilitarian moral scale, since Pro has provided no alternative, to weigh this round. I demonstrate that positive action CAN, sometimes, be moral under this. Pro fails to respond.

Pro next attempts to demonstrate that even Switzerland engages in violence for reasons other than self-defense. An example of police brutality is cited. This, of course, is not a moral action. However, this is not indicative of the state; the state specifically provides against this sort of brutality in its laws. When an actor like a policeman engages in this sort of brutality, he is acting OUTSIDE the state by breaking the social contract. Whenever any actor does this, he is not acting as the state.

Again, Pro has to somehow show that one immoral act by one member claiming to act on behalf of the state is an indictment on the morality of the state in general. This cannot be done.

I have already addressed the idea that the state has a monopoly on force. Pro does not understand what this means.

Remember: Pro's BOP is to show that, by its nature, the state is immoral. Not that some states can do immoral things. That all states innately are immoral entities. Pro cannot, and has not, done this. Anecdotes about brutality are not sufficient to meet the BOP.


Sources

1. https://www.law.upenn.edu......
2. http://facedownphilosophy.wordpress.com......
3. http://www.iep.utm.edu......
Debate Round No. 2
spiritmeetthesoul

Pro

Pro's entire argument is based upon the idea that one immoral act makes the entire concept of a state immoral itself.
Concepts can't be immoral this statement makes no sense.

...one immoral act does not make you immoral
Yes it does. If you lie to your friend you are a liar . One act of murder makes you a murder. If you consider either of things to be immoral, then by doing them you are immoral.

The state itself is the philosophical conception which I am defending here. philosophical conception ??? Very ambigious.
Morever, these sort of actions are not inherent within a state; that is, by nature, immoral violence is not encoded in the DNA of a state.

I'm not sure what you mean by ...these sorts of actions. Or nature, or encoded in the DNA.
What, then, could be the alternative to the state? The state of nature.

I cannot agree that the opposite of the state is a "state of nature." How about an alternative to a violent state being one that is non-violent?

The central role of the government, then, is to enforce the social contract and to punish those who go against it.
What social contract? Show me where I signed this? Was this contract forced upon me at birth? Can children enter into binding contracts? What if the other party to this "contract" doesn't fullfill it's side of the bargin, do I have any legal recourse? I have a better "contract" witth my cell phone company than I do with the government.

Pro begins by claiming that nonviolence is preferable to violence. This is, of course, generally true.
Thank you for agreeing with me.

American interests and, by extension, the rights of its citizens. Please define american interests. Please define rights, please define citizens. Entire paragraph is meaningless.

Engagement within led to economic gains, the protection of allies, and the rise of peace.
Please define engagement. protection and "rise of peace."

However, this is not indicative of the state; the state specifically provides against this sort of brutality in its laws.
declaring one thing illegal does not shield one from the consequences of one's actions. If only one such incidence had transpired in all of history then I would be loath to continue with my argument; however, these sorts of abuses happen all the time and are indicative of both an individuals actions and that of the entity represented.

Pro's BOP is to show that, by its nature, the state is immoral. Not that some states can do immoral things.
Straw man, I never argued that states are immoral "by its nature." You've totally convoluted my argument.

If one does immoral things, one is immoral.
My argument stands.
TruthHurts

Con

Thank you. I will begin with an overview, and then move into the key points of clash in this debate to demonstrate why I have won.

Overview

Let's begin by remembering Pro's BOP in this round. Pro must prove that the very conception of a state and, thereby, all states, are innately and fundamentally immoral. Though Pro comically attempts to dispute this reading of the resolution, it is clear that Pro must prove the ultimate positive statement, that all states are immoral. This comes from the inclusion of the word 'fundamentally.' Upon further analysis, Pro himself demonstrates that this bar cannot be met.

I would also like to take a moment to note the petulance, ignorance, and downright absurdity that underlines most of Pro's argumentation, especially in the last round. By begging the question and using circular logic, asking me to define complicated terms like 'citizen' and 'peace,' and complaining that my arguments are somehow ambiguous or incomprehensible, it is clear that Pro is over his head in the round, rhetorically and stylistically. As a result, Pro's rebuttal to my argumentation are incredibly weak, if present at all.

Action vs. Actor

A central focus of my argumentation has been to demonstrate the gap between the morality of an action and the morality of an actor. I have demonstrated that one (individually and collectively) retains moral agency even though he may have done immoral acts. If this is the case, then the resolution and all of Pro's arguments are negated.

Pro's response is lacking. Pro asserts that by doing acts you are immoral, that if you lie you are a liar. Besides the fact that this is mere assertion without any justification, Pro misses the nuance in my arguments, that making moral judgements on individuals, groups, and institutions goes beyond a single action. Rather, such judgements are the result of an accrual of such actions. However, Pro refuses to engage with this idea. As a result, my arguments must flow through as valid and Pro loses the round.

State of Nature/Formation of a State

I have stated that the only alternative to the state is the state of nature, a situation with far more rights violations, disutility, suffering, and immorality than could possibly occur under a valid state. Thus, even if a state does some immoral things, under a utilitarian calculus, the state is still the moral option. Pro literally concedes the entire debate when he claims, "How about an alternative to a violent state being one that is non-violent?"

If Pro can conceive of a scenario where a state is nonviolent and, therefore (under Pro's framework), moral, then states are not fundamentally immoral; rather, only some are. Thus, the resolution is negated.

Also, I urge you to flow through all of my arguments about the condition of the state of nature, the social contract, and actors acting immorally outside of the state. We get no real response from Pro to any of these other than a comical misunderstanding of the social contract (which is physically present in constitutions and signed tacitly upon using government services) and all of my other philosophical arguments. As a result, my arguments must flow through as true and, again, negate the resolution.

Offensive Violence

I have argued that, sometimes, under a utilitarian calculus, proactive, offensive violence is moral when weighed using a utilitarian scale. I cited World War I and the involvement of the United States as an example, though innumerable conceiveble scenarios of such actions exist. The response we get from Pro is, literally, "define all of your terms."

This is comical and shows the general attitude of Pro as one that is averse to good-spirited debate. If Pro cannot have a debate without a semantic definition of words like 'citizen' and 'rights,' especially when these definitions are not central to the clash, then I am not sure how Pro can have a productive debate at all. I will not define these commonplace terms, and I urge you to flow the arguments through as valid.

I also have put forth the idea that immoral actors claiming to act on behalf of the state are actually acting outside the state, due to laws the state has physically codified and the social contract. This would mitigate marginal instances of perceived state immorality, though by this point the resolution has already been negated. We get no real response, other than a continued assertion that these things really are indicative of and innate to the state. This argumentation from Pro is not sufficient, is not rational, is not substantiated, and, ultimately, loses Pro the round.

Conclusion

I have conclusively won this round by demonstrating that Pro has not met the BOP of the round, that immoral actions do not make immoral actors, that states are more moral than the alternative, and that offensive violence is sometimes justified. Pro has made little concerted effort to refute these notions and, having refuted Pro's entire argument, I clearly win this debate on the flow.

To conclude, I would like to note that Pro claims that, "I never argued that states are immoral 'by its nature." If this is the case, then I sincerely wonder what fundamentally actually means. It is clear Pro cannot, and has not, provided a cohesive solution to the errors in his case, stemming from the incredibly high BOP set by the resolution.

I urge a Con vote and am proud to oppose.
Debate Round No. 3
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