The Social Contract and Moral Obligations
It's been a sizeable amount of time since I last debated, and I really want to get back into it, esp. now that the campaign is over and things are settling down. This is one of two challenges I am issuing, and I think it should afford some interesting discussion. I find the topic to be cool, somewhat of a departure from a lot of the common topics used on DDO, and I think it will provide an basis for an engaging discourse!
To accept, you must have completed at least 3 debates. To vote, a judge must have a minimum ELO ranking of 2,500. This is specifically a debate on social contract theory, and its applicability/validity in moral philosophy.
Due to the social contract, governments have moral obligations to their citizens which are superior to those it has towards non-citizens.
The definitions below are influenced by or excerpted from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy and Merriam Webster.
Social Contract Theory - "Social contract theory, nearly as old as philosophy itself, is the view that persons' moral and/or political obligations are dependent upon a contract or agreement among them to form the society in which they live...[S]ocial contract theory is rightly associated with modern moral and political theory and is given its first full exposition and defense by Thomas Hobbes. After Hobbes, John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau are the best known proponents of this enormously influential theory." Simply put, the social contract theory argues that a government is formed pursuant to a mutual agreement or contract among the people of a given jurisdiction, and that the scope and duties of the government are determined by the agreement or contract.
Government - 'the organization, machinery, or agency through which a political unit exercises authority and performs functions'
Moral - 'sanctioned by or operative on one's conscience or ethical judgment; conforming to a standard of right behavior'
Obligation - 'something one is bound to do'
1. No forfeits
2. Any citations or foot/endnotes must be individually provided in the text of the debate
3. No new arguments in the final round
4. Maintain a civil and decorous atmosphere
5. No trolling
6. No "kritiks" of the topic (e.g. moral skepticism, governments don't exist, etc.)
7. My opponent accepts all definitions and waives his/her right to add resolutional definitions
8. For all undefined terms, individuals should use commonplace understandings that fit within the logical context of the resolution and this debate
9. Pro must go first and must waive in the final round
10. Violation of any of these rules or of any of the R1 set-up merits a loss
R1. Pro's Case
R2. Con's Case, Pro rebuts Con's Case
R3. Con rebuts Pro's Case, Pro defends Pro's Case
R4. Con defends Con's Case, Pro rebuts Con's Case
R5. Con rebuts Pro's Case, Pro waives
...again to whomever accepts; I am looking forward to a truly stellar and enjoyable discourse!
Due to the social contract, governments have moral obligations to their citizens which are superior to those it has towards non-citizens.
Question for my opponent to answer and readers to ponder:
Does a contract create a moral obligation?
What is being debated?
Per rules in round one we see that no kritiks are allowed. This means that the assumptions of social contracts and moral obligations are not contestable. I am arguing that if social contracts and moral obligations are assumed, Governments have a greater moral obligation to their citizens then to non-citizens.
Obligation as defined by my opponent is “something one is bound to do.”
A contract by its very nature creates an increased obligation. Con’s round one outlines the social contract as “the scope and duties of the government are determined by the agreement or contract.” Scope and duties is synonymous with their “obligations” that should be fulfilled.
Obligations Are Weighted:
The stronger the relationship, the stronger the obligation. For example, say there are two starving children. One is your sibling. Your relationship to them as a member of society creates an obligation. Your relationship to them as family creates an additional obligation. Likewise, imagine you signed a contract that you would feed your sibling. Your obligation is now influenced by an agreement in addition to the already existing obligations. Thus we see that relationships and contracts themselves increase obligations.
Impact of a social contract:
The social contract creates and defines both a relationship and a contract. As demonstrated this increases the moral obligation.
Scarcity as an issue:
There are cases where what is needed morally exceeds the capability of those who can provide. For example, back to the hypothetical I used earlier. What if you signed a contract to feed your starving sibling and there is another there starving and you only have enough food for one. If you split the food both will die. It is your moral obligation to fulfill your contractual promise to feed your sibling first. As there is not enough for both. This clearly shows that your moral obligation is stronger due to both the relationship and the contract.
Summary of Arguments:
Obligations are strengthen and increased by relationships. The social contract a nation with its citizens creates a relationship and contractual obligation. This increases the moral obligation that a nation has with its citizens vs. non-citizens.
Obligations are weighted. A standing relationship/contract increases the moral obligation.
The Social Contract adds to the obligation to help citizens vs non-citizens
In a case of scarcity the social contract obliges the government to care for
its citizens first
For my opponent to win he must argue that contracts do not increase moral obligation. This is an insurmountable task.
The above demonstrates that Due to the social contract, governments have moral obligations to their citizens which are superior to those it has towards non-citizens.
Many thanks to Kasmic for accepting this debate! I've wanted to debate him for awhile, and so I am looking forward to this opportunity. At this time, I will now present my case.
The resolution can be negated in 1 of 2 ways: (1) to deny that the social contract imputes "moral" obligations to governments rather than "political" ones, and (2) to argue that the social contract theory is flawed and an invalid source of moral authority. Notice, it isn't my job to provide a competing source for a government's moral authority; I just need to rebut that the social contract theory is such a source.
Contention One: The Social Contract Is Seriously Flawed
P1. There is no True Consent in the Social Contract
(a) Consent cannot be Implied.
"Central to the Social Contract idea is the claim that we owe allegiance to the law because the benefits we have derived have been voluntarily accepted. This is one place where our autonomy is supposed to come in. That is, having benefited from the Rule of Law when it was possible to leave, I have in a sense consented to it."  David Hume in his essay 'Of the Original Contract' points out how ridiculous the basic premise of the Social Contract is: 'Can we seriously say that a poor peasant or artisan has a free choice to leave his country-when he knows no foreign language...and lives from day to day by the small wages which he acquires? We may as well assert that a man, by remaining in a vessel, freely consents to the dominion of the master, though he was carried on board while asleep, and must leap into the ocean and perish the moment he leaves her." 
What this excerpt demonstrates is the simple fact that implied consent is no consent at all. Any social contract that rests its laurels on the idea that acquiescence can be conveyed through non-departure is necessary absurd. In fact, there are very many reasons that might render a person unable to leave a given jurisdiction. Perhaps I live in Niger, in the deserts. Leaving my oasis-blessed village would be unbelievably foolhardy, as it would deprive me of a reliable source of water, it would risk me getting lost in the Sahara, it would put me in the path of potential criminals who use the remoteness of the desert as a hideout, etc. In essence, any attempt to leave would put me at too high a risk. Consequently, we cannot conclude that I have consented to my government or its social contract despite the fact that I choose to remain.
(b) Implied Consent Justifies Immoral Governments.
"The contract argument set forth in the case of refusal to emigrate proves too much...It can be maintained that anyone living under the control of a regime receives something that the regime might call benefits. Ultimately, thus, the benefits argument reduces to the claim that all under the control of state should obey the state." 
Suppose that I live in Soviet Russia. I receive public benefits, such as public transport, which I make use of. One might argue that reception of these benefits or refusal to leave the country constitutes implied consent. At that point, one is saying that the Soviet government was legitimate, because, by receiving goods from the authorities, the population has given the government its tacit consent. Clearly, implied consent could justify any kind of regime because, as long as people live there and use public services, they can be reasonably construed as consenting to their situation under a social contract paradigm.
(c) The Social Contract Justifies Exploitation, Murder, and a Parade of Horribles.
"The moral terms require the dominant group to evaluate the lives of their group more highly than those of the subordinated...and the epistemological terms require the members of the dominant group to see themselves as intellectually superior to the dominated. The social contract then can be seen as a justification by the parties to the contract of their interaction, and of their exploitation of those who are not parties to the contract, but only if the fundamental division of in-group and out-group is accepted...Pateman extends her critique of the ideology of contract to the case of colonial appropriation of native peoples' lands with what she calls the 'settler contract.'"  Frankly, any number of past atrocities could be justified as moral using the logic of the social contract. The needs of citizens must be prioritized, and moral side constraints lose importance in their light.
(d) Consent is not Hereditary.
"First of all, the state created via the social contract monopolizes protective services and thus constrains the property rights of those of succeeding generations who were not involved with the negotiations of the original contract. Secondly, in the social contract approach, the state would transfer the power to tax to the majority, which would bind subsequent generations to that power."  The problem with binding succeeding generations to the contract is simple: my forefathers cannot reasonable consent for me. As an individual, with my own free will and my own autonomy, only I can consent for myself. We could point to a reasonable facsimile of a social contract, i.e. the U.S. Constitution, and apply this argument quite effectively. Why should the decrees of people living in 1787 and 1788 apply to me, many generations removed? The document specifically talks about securing liberties for "posterity" and makes plans for a system of government designed to last years.  Given this data, it appears that the Constitution garners its validity not just from my supposed implied consent, but also from the idea that its law is binding to future generations, which is a very non-consensual notion.
P2. The Feminist Critique
(a) Economic Man.
"Virginia Held...argues that social contract theory implicitly relies on a conception of the person that can be best described as 'economic man.' 'Economic man' is concerned first and foremost to maximize his own, individually considered interests, and he enters into contracts as a means by which to achieve this end. 'Economic man', however, fails to represent all persons in all times and places. In particular, it fails to adequately represent children and those who provide them with the care they require, who have historically been women. The model of 'economic man' cannot, therefore, fairly claim to be a general representation of all persons. Similarly, Annette Baier argues that Gauthier’s conception of the liberal individual who enters into the social contract as a means by which to maximize his own individually considered interests is gendered in that it does not take seriously the position of either children or the women." 
(b) Dependence in Relationships.
"Baier argues that Gauthier, who conceives of affective bonds between persons as non-essential and voluntary, therefore fails to represent the fullness of human psychology and motivations. She argues that this therefore leads to a crucial flaw in social contract theory. Liberal moral theory is in fact parasitic upon the very relations between persons from which it seeks to liberate us. While Gauthier argues that we are freer the more that we can see affective relations as voluntary, we must nonetheless, in the first place, be in such relationships (e.g., the mother-child relationship) in order to develop the very capacities and qualities lauded by liberal theory. Certain kinds of relationships of dependence, in other words, are necessary in the first place if we are to become the very kinds of persons who are capable of entering into contracts and agreements...She therefore suggests that we consider other models of human relationships when looking for insight into morality. In particular, she offers up the paradigm of the mother-child relationship...Such a model is more likely to match up with many of the moral experiences of most people, especially women." 
If we give this argument credence, it will have significant ramifications on the social contract. The social contract posits that it has obligations to those who "agree" to enter into the contract. It is, as the name suggests, a voluntary proposition. Yet, if we entertain the idea that the government-citizen relationship should be one that is based on a contractual arrangement is called into question. Perhaps a relationship built on caring for dependents or those more closely related to us, purely on those bases, would be preferable.
Contention Two: The Social Contract Cannot Convey Moral Obligations
Awareness is a prerequisite to having obligations. While it may be fair to say that the government has a function or functions, it would not be correct to assert that it has obligations. I could not oblige a rock to do anything, as a rock is inanimate. How can an entity that lacks any connations at all bear responsibilities? But, I can accurately assign functions to rocks. By fashioning them into points, I may give them the function of a spearhead. The government is like a rock, it is inanimate, and thus can only have functions, not obligations.
To quote the earlier definition: "the organization, machinery, or agency through which a political unit exercises authority and performs functions." This definition very clearly defines a government as a mere thing, not a thinking agent. It is a tool, not an actor. Only actors can have obligations, not tools.
1 - https://books.google.com...
2 - http://www.constitution.org...
3 - https://mises.org...
4 - http://www.iep.utm.edu...
5 - http://www.archives.gov...
6 - http://www.iep.utm.edu...
7 - http://plato.stanford.edu...
Thanks again to Kasmic. It should be a stimulating discourse :) I turn the floor over to him now...
Thank you BSH1 for your arguments. They have inspired much thought.
Con here argues that “implied consent is no consent at all.” In the broad view of social contract theory, consent is not implied. It is expressly given. That stated, Social Contract theory does accept the reality that children, newborns, and other similar cases are unable to give any kind of consent whatsoever in their present state. Point being that they CANNOT rather than DID NOT. As there is no feasible way to “choose” where you are born and as you are not born with the ability to consent others do so reasonablely on your behalf. For example, in the U.S. those under the age of 18 are unable to vote. Their interests are ideally expressed and protected by society and especially their parents. During this state in their life they do not give consent of their own volition as they cannot but it is given for them. Then, when they reach the age of reason, or capability (which the U.S. has placed at 18) they are then endowed with the ability to give their consent through voting.
(b) Implied Consent Justifies Immoral Governments.
(c) The Social Contract Justifies Exploitation, Murder, and a Parade of Horribles.
See response to last sub premise as this contention is also not on point.
Con argues that “The problem with binding succeeding generations to the contract is simple: my forefathers cannot reasonable consent for me. “
(a) Economic Man.
“social contract as a means by which to maximize his own individually considered interests is gendered in that it does not take seriously the position of either children or the women."
(b) Dependence in Relationships.The author of “The Social Contract” Jean-Jacques Rousseau explains that "The most ancient of all societies, and the only one that is natural, is the family: and even so the children remain attached to the father only so long as they need him for their preservation. As soon as this need ceases, the natural bond is dissolved. The children, released from the obedience they owed to the father, and the father, released from the care he owed his children, return equally to independence. If they remain united, they continue so no longer naturally, but voluntarily; and the family itself is then maintained only by convention."
Con argued that “Perhaps a relationship built on caring for dependents or those more closely related to us, purely on those bases, would be preferable.” The social contract is not in conflict with this, in fact it acknowledges as a whole that the first societies and the building block of society is the family. Thus what con argues is not something that can be “preferable” to the social contract, but is a part of and underlying premise of the social contract itself.
Flawed or not, the social contract is a contract and functions as a contract. It has been demonstraed that social contract theroy is grounded in the ideal of consent of the governed and rightly so.
Contention Two: The Social Contract Cannot Convey Moral Obligations
“Awareness is a prerequisite to having obligations. While it may be fair to say that the government has a function or functions, it would not be correct to assert that it has obligations. I could not oblige a rock to do anything, as a rock is inanimate. How can an entity that lacks any connations at all bear responsibilities?”
I confess myself perplexed by this contention. The government in a social contract is not inanimate but interacts and is a living entity. Otherwise how could one commit treason or a crime against the state? Can I commit a crime against a rock? I cannot, the State as an actor is empirically evident.
back to con.
Thanks again to Kasmic! At this time, the rules require me to address Pro's case, which is what I will be doing.
Pro must demonstrate that the social contract creates moral obligations for governments. The social contract is defined (in part) thusly: "[it] is the view that persons' moral and/or political obligations are dependent upon a contract or agreement among them to form the society in which they live...[T]he social contract theory argues that a government is formed pursuant to a mutual agreement or contract among the people of a given jurisdiction, and that the scope and duties of the government are determined by the agreement or contract." In other words, the social contract binds government through an agreement, and the social contract gains its moral force in virtue of the fact it is an agreement.
I submit that Pro's entire argument is non-topical. Pro argues that moral obligations are a function of the closeness of relationships. That is not the same as saying that moral obligations are a function of a contractual agreement. To illustrate Pro's reasoning, Pro writes: "[S]ay there are two starving children. One is your sibling...Your relationship to them as family creates an additional obligation." In other words, just by being related to someone implies obligations towards them. But, I cannot choose who is or is not my sibling. That is something that is totally arbitrary and outside the scope of my control; yet Pro suggests I have obligations to them regardless. The point here is clear: Pro is grounding moral obligations in a theory that legitimizes the existence non-voluntary, non-agreed obligations. That is NOT the social contract. Pro's case is not-topical and can be dismissed on that basis alone.
It is just important to note that the question being asked by the resolution is not merely "does a contract create a moral obligation," as Pro suggests, but "does a contract create a moral obligation for governments." It is important to understand specifically what is at issue in the debate in order to correctly interpret what may or may not be a kritik. Therefore, any argument that questions whether social contracts can produce moral obligations, whether governments can have moral obligations, and whether those moral obligations justify differential treatment is fair game.
Pro writes: "A contract by its very nature creates an increased obligation." This is a bare assertion fallacy, and lacks any kind of warrant whatsoever. But even if I concede the point, I can argue that a contract, when legitimately constituted, creates legal obligations. That would leave us with several questions. Why do legal obligations necessarily translate to moral obligations? Why is the social contract legitimately constituted? None of these questions are really answered by Pro. In my case, I've endeavored to show why the social contract was not legitimately constituted (invalid consent) and that it's not actually attributing moral obligations (because the government is not a moral agent).
Obligations are Weighted
There are several arguments to make here:
1. Cross-apply my overview to Pro's case here. Pro is trying to derive obligations from relationships, but he needs to be deriving them from agreements. It almost seems as if Pro is trying to reason backwards. He has identified a conclusion that he wants (that relationships breed obligations) and is attempting to find a way to justify that stance after the fact. He wants to use the social contract to do that.
2. Pro's case lacks warrants. Pro writes: "Your relationship to them as family creates an additional obligation. Likewise, imagine you signed a contract that you would feed your sibling. Your obligation is now influenced by an agreement in addition to the already existing obligations." Pro just assumes that agreements equate to moral obligations. Supposed I was a hitman and I signed a contract to kill someone. Am I morally bound to follow that contract? No I am not; in fact, it would be immoral to carry out that contract. So, clearly, we cannot just assume that contracts entail universal moral obligations as Pro does. He needs to actually provide reasoning as to why the social contract is a contract that conveys moral obligations.
Essentially, Pro only has two arguments to ground the existence of obligations in this debate: (1) contracts convey obligations because they're contracts and (2) relationships convey obligations. The latter is just not topical. The former is un-warranted (ipse dixit), question-begging, and incomplete (in the sense it blindly assumes the validity of the social "contract" and assumes that contractual obligations are moral without ever making the case for that).
3. Pro's contradicted himself. First, it's important to note that a contract doesn't imply a close relationship. For instance, I could be a U.S. citizen (thus a member of the contract), who uses legal loopholes to avoid paying taxes (or who makes too little to pay taxes), who lives outside the U.S., and who works for a foreign firm that does not really have connections to the U.S. Compare this hypothetical person to someone who lives inside the U.S., who pays taxes, and who contributes to his society through his work. The second person obviously has closer ties to the U.S. than the first. Using the idea that the weight of obligations changes based on closeness, surely the government has more obligations towards the second person rather than the former. Yet, most social contract theorists contend that governments have equal obligations towards all people (my rights to equality, liberty, property, justice, etc. are just as good and valid under the social contract as those of other citizens, and just as entitled to government protection). So, Pro would both have systems where a government's obligation is both weighted and unweighted regarding its citizens.
4. Arbitrariness presents a huge problem for Pro. Pro writes: "[a]s there is no feasible way to 'choose' where you are born." Pro is basically saying that relationships are arbitrary. If so, why is that just moral grounds for deriving moral obligations. Surely, Pro has a reason for why relationships are a good way to justify moral obligations, but an arbitrary reason is not a good reason. In that case, Pro needs to furnish that good reason, lest he leave himself no foundation for his claims.
5. Pro's contradicted himself. The social contract is built on the belief that coercive government is illegitimate (therefore consent must be obtained). Yet, Pro also suggest that I have obligations to which I did not consent (e.g. obligations to family). Consequently, Pro is both saying that obligations must only be grounded in consent (to reject coercion) but may also be grounded in non-consensual ways. That's just nonsensical. Pro must either affirm volition-based obligations, or involuntary obligations. Not both.
Just cross-apply everything I said above here. It rebuts the claim that: "This clearly shows that your moral obligation is stronger due to both the relationship and the contract."
Really, Pro's argument here is to make a case through anecdotes and assumptions. He never explains the underlying moral logic behind the situation; he never actually explains WHY it is the case that one should prioritize one's sibling. He just presents his example and assumes that it proves his point. Examples should be used to supplement reasoned argumentation, not to replace it.
In a sense, one could even say that his example is a non-sequitur, which "is an argument in which its conclusion does not follow from its premises."  Pro's argument is as follows:
P1. I have a contract with my sibling
What is missing from this logic is any explanation of how or why having "a contract with my sibling" (P1) gets him to the point of me being "morally bound to help my sibling" (C1). This is a gap in the reasoning that is never really explained in Pro's entire case. Pro's one meager attempt to fill this gap is to say, "A contract by its very nature creates an increased obligation." But the nature of the contract is never actually explained, and the link to morality is never drawn. Why are my obligations to my family "moral?" Perhaps they are legal, filial, pragmatic, etc.
Pro's case is characterized by three things. Firstly, he fails to sufficiently explain anything. He leaves way too many question answered, which means his whole case is built on a series of as-yet unfounded assumptions. And, his assumptions themselves have gaps in logic that make it hard for them to stand up to critical analysis. Secondly, his whole line of argumentation regarding relationships just is not topical, and cannot be evaluated. Thirdly, he contradicts himself, which seriously undermines the credibility of his case. Pro's case is just not sufficient to validate the social contract, let alone that it conveys moral obligations. Thus, I negate.
Con says that I have argued that moral obligations are a function of the closeness of relationships. Con does not refute this rather he just concludes that such an observation is “non-topical.” Apparently con has misunderstood the link. I will present it as clearly as I can. It has been established in my arguments that a relationship increases ones moral obligations. I demonstrated this by observing the moral obligation inherent in familial relationships. Again this is not refuted by con. Understanding that a relationship causes a moral duty is essential as one main function of contracts is to establish and define the relationship of those involved. Then, and only then such a concept is established illustrate the obligations entailed.
The social contract does just that. It establishes the relationship and from the relationships, the duties of the parties involved. Thus the Social Contract, (as any contract) creates an obligation. Specifically between the citizens and their government. This squarely rests this debate on whether such an obligation is moral, or as stated in my opening argument “Does a contract create a moral obligation?”
Due to this observation I mentioned that for con to successfully win this debate he must argue that a contract does not increase the moral obligation. No such argument were made in his opening arguements. Rather, he has missed the mark arguing that the Social Contract is “flawed.” This does not satisfy what he must do in this debate. His rebuttals do however partially address this topic.
Con attempt to show that some of his contentions are not kritiks, yet one certainly is. Con says the following argument is fair game:
“whether governments can have moral obligations” Yet to argue that governments cannot have a moral obligation undermines the assumption of the resolution.Consider the resolution. The question is if a social contract creates a “superior” moral obligation.
Superior is defined as “higher in station, rank, degree, importance, etc”(1) This implies that other non-social contract governments have moral obligations but that the due to the lack of a social contract such obligations are “lower in station, rank, degree, or importance.” Thus the only reasonable non kritik and in keeping with the rules arguments that my opponent can make is to question if a social contract increases the moral obligation or has no effect. To argue that governments cannot have moral obligations is a kritik by definition.
Con claims that I made a bare assertion when I concluded that a contract by its very nature creates an increased obligation. All one needs to do to see the claim is true is to look up the word contract in a dictionary. “an agreement between two or more parties for the doing or not doing of something specified.” (2) If you agree to do something it is then your duty to do it. That is synonymous with being obliged to do it. Thus it is clear that a contract inherently creates an increased obligation.
Con than asks a two questions to which I will answer.
“Why do legal obligations necessarily translate to moral obligations?” As con has defined moral, it is clear that fulfilling a legal obligation would be “conforming to a standard of right behavior.”
“Why is the social contract legitimately constituted?” Cross apply my response to con’s premise 1(d) Not only is the social contract legitimately constituted. It seems to be the only such way such a contract could be legitimate.
Obligations are Weighted
1: I have already addressed the first concern raised here. A contract defines the relationship from which the obligations are derived from.
2. Con says that I just assume “that agreements equate to moral obligations.” Per con’s definition of moral that assumption is justified. To this con attempts a hell marry on the topic proposing the hypothetical “Supposed I was a hitman and I signed a contract to kill someone. Am I morally bound to follow that contract?” Sure you do but not morally bound enough to override the moral weight to not murder. Surely my opponent would agree that on balance agreeing to contract makes keeping that contract “conforming to a standard of right behavior.” Surely being a man of your word is agreeably moral.
3. Con’s assertion that I contradict myself is nonsense. Sure there is an underpinned morality that must be respected between governments and all people, however the topic we are debating is if that obligation is greater to citizens than non, which it clearly is.
4. Con strawman’s my position to be that relationships are arbitrary. This is far from the point made as to seem an intentional strawman. My statement that you cannot choose where you are born is to imply that your familial relationship is inherent, or natural. In this case I am arguing that through that familial contract your consent is given on your behalf to the social contract.
5. Con seems to misunderstand my point here. It is not that some obligations are chosen and others are not, rather that the social contract is an extension of the natural and familial contract. The only natural contact is that of the family. All others are entered into unnaturally that is to say by choice. Again, for minors this choice is made on their behalf through their natural family contract which becomes null upon there adulthood in which case if they choose to leave the social contract society… so be it.
Con says I “never actually explains WHY it is the case that one should prioritize one's sibling. He just presents his example and assumes that it proves his point. Examples should be used to supplement reasoned argumentation, not to replace it.” I did not perceive the need to show the natural obligation that occurs in the family as it seems empirically evident. Does my opponent feel that a mother has no moral obligation to her newborn child, or that a father has no obligation to his offspring? If so, this is in direct conflict with his definition of moral. Society accepts familial obligations as “conforming to the right standard of behavior.”
Con again straw mans claiming my conclusion to be “I am morally bound to help my sibling over the other person.” Rather my conclusion is the the moral binding is “superior” to that to the other person.
Thanks, Kasmic! Onto my case...
This goes un-refuted. Extend that I can successfully negate in one of two ways: (1) To show that governments are not subject to moral obligations (thus the social contract cannot impose those kinds of obligations on them), and/or (2) to argue that the social contract theory is flawed and an invalid source of moral authority. Please note that either one of these lines of reasoning are sufficient grounds to negate the topic; therefore, it is not essential that I win both of these points in order to negate.
C1. The Social Contract Is Seriously Flawed
P1. No True Consent
Pro asks what I mean by true consent. "True" consent is simply valid consent, meaning that one is (a) that an agent has options to choose from, (b) that the agent was truthfully informed about the options, (c) that the agent voluntarily chooses (without duress) one option over another, and (d) that the agent gave his consent while of sound mind. I would also add (e) that consensual choices ought to be respected.
(a) Consent cannot be Implied
Pro spends a great deal of his time talking about minors and the mentally handicapped. But this is not what my argument was about. Social contract theorists, such as Locke, argue that a social contract gains its legitimacy from the tacit or implied consent of rational adults. That by accepting services from the state or by remaining withing a state's jurisdiction, individuals consent to that government. It was this idea that was under critique. At no point does Pro actually defend implied consent (except in the cases of minors and the mentally handicapped), and so my arguments here are dropped. Please extend that implied consent--even for rational adults--cannot be construed as valid. As the dropped Hume evidence explained: "Can we seriously say that a poor peasant or artisan has a free choice to leave his country-when he knows no foreign language...and lives from day to day by the small wages which he acquires? We may as well assert that a man, by remaining in a vessel, freely consents to the dominion of the master, though he was carried on board while asleep, and must leap into the ocean and perish the moment he leaves her." Consequently, implied consent violates the (a) and (b) criteria for valid consent. Again, this all went totally un-refuted by Pro, who seemed to misunderstand how this was being applied. The social contract cannot derive it's legitimacy from the implied consent of rational adults.
Pro then asserts: "It is worth noting that the social contract is a contract between the government and the governed as a whole. A contract to society...It is utterly absurd to expect each person to have a separate and distinct personalized contract with government." This line of reasoning poses several problems (though I am not calling for a "personalize contract;" just for one that everyone in the society has consented to). Firstly, it means that the contract devolves into mere majoritarianism. Whatever rules the majority decides apply to everyone no matter how unjust those rules are. The whole purpose of the social contract was to create rules to check the powerful from unjustly infringing on the minority. But, using Pro's logic, a majority of society could create a contract that called for enslaving the minority, and this contract would still be valid because "society" consented to it. Pro's logic justifies majoritarianism, which is antithetical to what the social contract was meant to be. Secondly, how can society justifiably consent on my behalf. If we are in a state of nature, with each person totally free, there are no formal, agreed upon mechanisms by which community consent can be exercised (e.g. a government with checks and balances). While exercising community consent through a government might be justified, because there are checks in place to shield minorities, before government (and thus before the social contract), societal consent cannot be construed as valid, because minorities have no way of protecting their rights and interests in the process. For a social contract to be valid, then, EVERYONE must agree to it; and only then can there be a valid framework for community consent, and that framework is valid because everyone, including the minorities, have okay'd it and have ways of exercising their voices within it.
(b/c) Implied Consent Justifies Immoral Govs + The SC Justifies a Parade of Horribles
Pro writes: "It is not my burden to show that Social Contract applied spawns only 'moral' governments, or that governments formed under a social contract do not or could not act immorally." Actually, it is Pro's job to show that the social contract is moral. If you refer back to my overview, one of the ways I can negate the resolution is: "to argue that the social contract theory is flawed and an invalid source of moral authority." If the social contract is immoral or unethical, it is not a valid source of moral authority, and thus cannot be the source of valid moral obligations. Pro must prove that the social contract is a valid source of moral authority before he can claim that it is a justifiable means of deriving moral obligations.
Since the rest of these two points are entirely dropped, you can extend that: (1) the social contract justifies immoral governments and (2) the social contract justifies the exploitation and maltreatment of non-citizens. The impacts of each of these points are fairly straightforward. In order for the social contract to be morally significant enough to ground obligations, it cannot justify or promote immorality. If the social contract is a source of moral obligation, then I, as a citizen, would've had a moral obligation to obey soviet officials or to steal native peoples' lands, both of which are immoral things to do. That creates a paradox: I would have a moral obligations (from the social contract) to do immoral things, which invalidates the social contract's validity as a source of such obligations. We cannot be morally obliged to commit or abide by immoral acts.
(d) Consent is not Hereditary
Pro writes: "It is more reasonable for your forefathers or parents to consent on your behalf than to argue that an unborn person or even an infant could consent. This is the case in a social contract."
Pro strawmans what I am saying. I am not suggesting that infants should or could consent. But, once I am an adult, my ability to consent is my own, not my forefathers'. So, while it may be "more reasonable for [my] forefathers...to consent...than an unborn person...could consent," once I am born and grown, my consent is, by right, my own.
Pro then talks of the ability to amend the contract, but there are more pressing concerns to be made here. If I do not consent to a social contract, but am unable to leave a jurisdiction for reasons outside of my control, is that government "my" government, and do its laws apply to me despite my lack of consent. To apply those laws to me would be to exercise the tyranny of the majority, "in which decisions made by a majority place its interests above those of an individual or minority group, constituting active oppression."  It is not oppression to have to obey laws made by a system I consented to; it is oppression to be bound to follow laws made by a system to which I never consented. Only I can consent for myself, and so if I do not consent to the Constitution, to apply any of it to me would be against the notion of consent (goes against (e) and (c) of the standard for consent).
I would add that amendments are all well and good, but they only are valid if everyone has agreed to the process by which they are ratified, for reasons noted earlier. And, having the ability to change a contract doesn't mean that one will change it--amendments are hard to get through. Given this, I may never consent to the contract because I may never get the changes I want.
P2. The Feminist Critique
Pro writes: "My burden is not to show the morality or functionality of a social contact itself, but to argue that if there is a social contract is the moral obligation increased."
Pro is wrong. To show that moral obligations are "due to the social contract" Pro must first show that the social contract is moral. Pro is begging the question here--he assumes it is moral to prove that it can create moral obligations, but that assumption is entirely unwarranted.
Pro then suggest that it women and children have secured more rights overtime, but this misunderstands the critique. The critique is against the idea of volition itself--that the social contract goes about deriving its moral legitimacy in the wrong way. That moral legitimacy better comes from dependency than agreement. Pro says that the social contract does not conflict with this notion, when, in fact, it does conflict.
Note that the social contract does not derive it's legitimacy from the closeness of relationships, but from consent. As I said last round: "Pro is grounding moral obligations in a theory that legitimizes the existence non-voluntary, non-agreed obligations. That is NOT the social contract." Pro cannot justify the social contract through relational thinking; he can only do so through voluntary thinking. Relationships can be non-agreed, and thus are not valid grounds to justify a system based totally on agreement.
C2. Moral Obligations
Pro drops that an unaware being cannot have moral obligations. Extend this.
Pro then says that the social contract sees the government as a "living entity." This is incorrect. The government is created by an agreement among the people, not an accord between the people and the state. The government is a tool made by the people to achieve a specific end. As for crimes against the state, the victims are the people, as their end has been disrupted. The government isn't the victim. Besides, Pro agreed to the definition; he's stuck with it.
1 - http://tinyurl.com...
Thank you BSH1 for the opportunity to debate you, it has been a pleasure.
Con claims that I did not refute his statement that he can negate by either showing governments are not subject to moral obligations or that social contract theory is flawed. I have in fact refuted both claims.
Last round I demonstrated that arguing that governments cannot be subject to moral obligations is a kritik of the resolution as the assumption and question of the debate lies on if the social contract creates “superior” moral obligation. This implies that Governments without the social contract have moral obligations, I am only arguing that they are inferior or in other words not as strong moral obligations. Thus as a kritik, it would be against the rules to argue in that matter and such arguments are necessarily dismissed.
Con was free to argue that the social contract theory has flaws. This does not however lead to the conclusion that social contracts do not create an obligation. As I have argued that keeping obligations is “conforming to the standard of right behavior” it follows logically that the social contract does provide an increased moral obligation. Thus the resolution is affirmed.
C1. The Social Contract Is Seriously Flawed
“P1. No True Consent”
Con claims I dropped this argument which I clearly did not. Cross apply my response from round 2 P1 a. Interestingly enough Con then claims that rational adults cannot have their consent implied. However, I have shown that once an individual is able to give or withhold consent they have the ability to do so. Thus I have shown in this debate that rational adults do in fact give consent through the social contract. Or in Con’s words “once I am born and grown, my consent is, by right, my own.” This is true and the social contract affirms and respects as much.
“P2. The Feminist Critique”
Con continues to widen the burden of proof I hold to ridiculous lengths. To accept his argument is to expect me to prove that social contracts create perfect governments. I have not ever made such a claim and responded that "My burden is not to show the morality or functionality of a social contact itself, but to argue that if there is a social contract is the moral obligation increased." This is reasonable to affirm the resolution. I have done so.
I conclude as I did previously Flawed or not, the social contract is a contract and functions as a contract. Remember I have shown that the function of a contract is to define the relationship and from that the obligations required.
Contention Two: The Social Contract Cannot Convey Moral Obligations
As Con sums this argument up he shows that I accepted a definition in round one that does not permit me to argue as I had previously. As unfortunate as that is it matters not as I have also shown that such an argument is a kritik and against con’s rules set in round one.
Con has only thus argued that the social contract is not perfect, while possibly true it is not near enough as I have shown the contract to be legitimate. Even if you buy this argument it is not enough to negate the resolution. His only other contentions are kritiks and thus dismissible as a violation of rules.
I have demonstrated that a contract defines the relationship and derives from them the obligations necessary. The Social contract does just that. The only question voters must ask is if keeping obligations is “conforming to the standard of right behavior.” I have clearly shown it does, thus it follows by the definitions given by con in round one it is clearly affirmed that Due to the social contract, governments have moral obligations to their citizens which are superior to those it has towards non-citizens.
I'll kick topicality to save character space. This does not grant Pro any positive offense as his points here don't actually affirm.
I'll kick this, too. Again: my kicking this argument does not grant Pro any positive offense as his points here don't actually affirm.
1. Pro writes: "If you agree to do something it is then your duty to do it. That is synonymous with being obliged to do it." Again, this is a bare assertion fallacy. If I am a hitman, and I agree to kill someone, most people would argue that the agreement does not produce moral obligations. I cannot be morally obligated to act immorally. Surely, the wrongful nature of the agreement negates the agreement's ability to convey moral obligations. So, just because something is an agreement is not enough to prove that it creates obligations. This links in to something I noted last round: "If the social contract is immoral or unethical, it is not a valid source of moral authority, and thus cannot be the source of valid moral obligations." Additionally, if I agree to do something, it may be morally good of me to do that, but it is not always obligatory. If I agree to go get frozen yogurt with my friends tomorrow, is it something I am "bound" to do, or is it something that it would be good of me to do? If I failed to show up, my friends might be annoyed and they might say that I shouldn't have missed it, but they would hardly suggest I acted immorally by failing to come. That alone suggests that I was not obliged to attend, as to fail to fulfill a moral obligation is to act immorally. So, again, Pro has not made the case that agreements equate to moral obligations.
2. Pro says that fulfilling legal obligations is "conforming to a standard of right behavior," so legal obligations are moral obligations. In this debate, we have used the Constitution as an example of a legitimately constituted social contract, meaning it was validly created. Yet, this Constitution legalized slavery, and laws were passed under that Constitution which required free states to return runaway slaves. these laws were Constitutional at the time. Is it "conforming to right behavior" to recognize people as 3/5ths of a person or to return free men to a situation of oppression? The answer is "no." Legal obligations are of law, not morality. Therefore, Pro needs to explain why the social contract produces not just legal obligations, but also moral obligations. Pro fails to do that. Again, he just blindly assumes that the social contract produces moral obligations.
Obligations are Weighted
2. Pro says that the hitman does have a duty to to kill, but that this obligation is overridden by the "moral weight to not murder." Even if it is overridden, it's an extreme claim to say that the hitman has a moral obligation to kill an innocent person. Also, there is an internal paradox in what Pro's remark. Moral obligations are things we must do to be moral. If I am morally bound to do X, the morality categorically demands of me that I do X; I am not given any other choice if I wish to obey morality...that is what "obligatory" means. So, Pro is saying that the hitman, by having a moral obligation, can only act morally if he kills the innocent person, but would also be immoral for doing so. That's a contradiction. Pro then writes: "Surely my opponent would agree that on balance agreeing to contract makes keeping that contract [moral]." No, I would not agree with that. First, the topic is not an "on balance" topic. Secondly, I would concur that agreeing to a social contract produces legal obligations, but not moral ones. Thirdly, a social contract can only produce valid obligations (of any kind) if it was legitimately constituted, meaning that it has the true consent of the people under it. Fourthly, Pro must defend that social contract duties are moral, he cannot just assume that is true because contractual duties are usually moral.
3. Con says that there is an "underpinned morality that must be respected." This strongly implies that Pro agrees "that governments have equal obligations towards all [citizens]." Pro also contend that stronger relationships produce stronger obligations. Finally, Pro drops that some citizens can be closer to the government than others. This creates a contradiction, as his relationship argument suggests that governments have stronger obligations to some citizens than others, but the social contract suggests that the government has equal duties to all citizens. Sure, the topic we are debating is whether governments have stronger duties to citizens as compared to non-citizens, but that doesn't mean we cannot consider the implications of Pro's logic to determine how his points mesh. Pro's arguments contradict; thus, they cannot coexist and they are not valid together.
4. Pro writes: "My statement that you cannot choose where you are born is to imply that your familial relationship is inherent." If you cannot choose, then how is it not arbitrary or random? This isn't a strawman; it's a simple logical extrapolation. Arbitrariness is inherent in familial relationships. Just to repeat: "an arbitrary reason is not a good reason." Since I was thrust into my familial relationship in an arbitrary way, why do I have any obligation towards my family? Pro hasn't furnished a good reason why I have such an obligation, so we have to assume that there is no good reason. If that's the case, then me arbitrarily being born within the US is not enough to justify me having an obligation to the US.
5. Pro exhibits the appeal to nature fallacy. Why is the familial contract good because it is natural? Not all that is natural is good, so naturalness is not evidence of goodness. But, Pro never disagrees that familial obligations are unchosen; in fact, this is something he embraces, writing: "[a]ll [non-familial relationships] are entered into unnaturally that is to say by choice." First, Pro says that "the social contract is an extension of the natural and familial contract." If the social contract is extending an non-chosen relationship, then isn't Pro suggesting that the social contract is unchosen? This statement just seems to contradict everything else Pro is saying. Secondly, nothing Pro said seems to rebut the earlier claim I made: "The social contract is built on...consent...Yet, Pro also suggest that I have obligations to which I did not consent...Consequently, Pro is both saying that obligations must...be grounded in consent (to reject coercion) but may also be grounded in non-consensual ways. That's just nonsensical." This whole point is basically dropped. If Pro is going to make philosophical arguments, he must ensure they jive together; if they contradict, then they cannot be used in tandem.
Pro asks, "Does my opponent feel that a mother has no moral obligation to her newborn child, or that a father has no obligation to his offspring?" First, this is a false analogy. The example in question was one of a contract, not a familial relationship. The former is chosen, the latter is unchosen. The question, therefore, should not be, do I have an obligation to X because X is family, but do I have an obligation to X because I am under a contract with X. The family scenario is just a red herring. Secondly, filial obligations are not always moral. It would be immoral for a sibling to save their brother or sister if, by doing so, they could cost the lives of many others. So, we cannot just assume filial = moral. Finally, nothing Pro say's here address my claim that his case is a non-sequitur. As I wrote: "What is missing from this logic is any explanation of how or why having 'a contract with my sibling' (P1) gets him to the point of me being 'morally bound to help my sibling' (C1)...[T]he nature of the contract is never actually explained, and the link to morality is never drawn."
The following is an outline of Pro's case (with voting issues that rebut each premise); if I can defeat any one link in Pro's chain, I can negate:
P1. Citizens agree to a social contract, creating a relationship (VI1)
P2. Closer relationships produce stronger obligations (VI2)
P3. Contractual obligations are moral (VI3; VI4)
P4. Citizens are closer to the government than non-citizens via the social contract
C1. Governments have superior moral duties to citizens
VI1. There is no true consent or agreement
Implied consent is invalid for all the reasons I noted earlier. Explicit consent doesn't really exist in social contracts; I never actually gave my consent to the Constitution. It was just assumed that I did. And, as noted earlier: "I may never consent to the contract because I may never get the [amendments] I want." Pro drops the hereditary consent is invalid. Social contracts are legitimately constituted.
VI2. The Fallacy of Relationships
All of Pro's arguments for relationships producing duties are either bare assertions or contradictory.
V13. Contracts =/= Moral
Pro has failed to warrant why contracts = moral obligations. His points are just a non-sequitur, and his reasoning is largely unwarranted. He just assumes that the obligations are moral.
V14. The Feminist Critique
Pro says, "To accept his argument is to expect me to prove that social contracts create perfect governments." This only rebuts my P1B and P1C, not P2. As I said: "The critique is against the idea of volition itself--that the social contract goes about deriving its moral legitimacy in the wrong way. That moral legitimacy better comes from dependency than agreement." Pro is non-responsive to the actual critique. Pro himself says that families have non-voluntary obligations. If that's true and the feminist point holds, then dependency rather than agreement should be the source of moral authority. That negates the social contract, which draws its moral authority from its contractual nature.
Please, Vote Con! Thank you!
Per format rules I waive this round. Good Debate!
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