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

The only role of government is to protect persons and property from force.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/22/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 599 times Debate No: 63742
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (5)
Votes (1)




The proposition in question involves a very influential and important topic. I will argue the libertarian/classical liberal position that the only place for government is to protect a person's rights to self ownership, thereby protecting his person, and to the fruits of his labour, thereby protecting his property. My opponent will argue that government has some other role i.e. universal healthcare or minimum wage. Good luck to my opponent.


The role of the government lapses far over the small portion you believe. The government provides a lot of management that we've shown in our early years that we cannot handle as citizens. The government provides regulation of commerce, trade with foreign nations, provides our nation a means of communicating with other nations, and provides the groundwork for a judicial system that can end disputes and trials. Your proposition, that the government is responsible for us and our property, leaves the rest of it's duties up to absolutely no one. In nations other than America, in places like tribal societies, they have a form of government, sometimes in the form of a council. The council represents the ideals of the citizens and all of their wants and needs. It also provides a means of settling disputes between people. Yes, that can be considered protection, but it is also a means of providing for the citizens. In our nation we depend on our government for foreign commerce. The trading between other nations gives us as citizens more opportunities economically, and helps better our country, not protect it. I will rebut your position more once I have a clear indication of the direction of this argument.
Debate Round No. 1


I thank my opponent for accepting this debate. I wish him the best of luck in communicating his position and objections to my own.

In this round, I will first provide a logical argument for the proposition. I will then address my opponents points.

Firstly, we have a few definitions. I define a non-aggressor as one who does not violate the person or property rights of others through physical force or threat of physical force. Secondly, I will define a state as an entity possessing, or claiming to possess, a monopoly or near monopoly on the use of force. Secondly, I define the non aggression principle (hereafter NAP) as the following: "The initiation of physical force or the threat of doing so against a person or his property is morally wrong." From this simple, guiding principle, the entire ideology of libertarianism/classical liberalism is derived. Third, I will define "libertarianism" as "the political philosophy consistent with the NAP." Finally, I define society as "The aggregate of people living together in a community," a slightly shortened version of the Oxford dictionary definition.

However, to attempt to derive this position without demonstrating or at least providing justification for the truth of its fundamental principle would commit the fallacy of begging the question. Although the concept of not taking people's property or hurting their person is intuitive, intuition has led mankind to all sorts of illogical or reprehensible behaviours ranging from communism to geocentricism.

To begin with, consider a very fundamental question; who is entitled to the ownership of a person? Intuitively, the person himself would own his person. There are essentially two alternatives: that one class of persons owns another, or that everyone is owned by society. I won't spend much time on the former option of class ownership as I highly doubt this audience believes in the divine right of kings or any other such nonsense. Instead, I will address the question of whether each individual is owned by society as a whole. This implies that if "n" number of people live in a society, everyone owns a "1/n"th share of everyone else. In other words, the ownership of an individual is divided evenly among members of a society. However, it is illogical to suggest that others have a more legitimate claim on your person than you have on your own. It is simply ludicrous to suggest that an individual owns everyone except himself. Therefore, the only logical answer to this question is that each individual is entitled to the ownership of his person.

Obviously, if each person is entitled to the fundamental right of self-ownership, then we have solved the problem of initiating violent force against a person. That would clearly violate this right, and must therefore be immoral. However, my opponent may rightfully object that we have not yet proven to satisfaction the question of fundamental property rights. We will now show that property rights are a direct consequence of self ownership. If I own my own person, than it follows that I own my labour. If I own my own labour, than it follows that I own the fruits of my labour, and this we call property. Property is created by mixing labour with resources, and by doing so, so long as the resources are not the property of another person. Therefore, if I possess ownership of my property, it is morally wrong to initiate force, or to threaten the initiation of force, against my property. This completes our justification of the NAP.

However, there is one very significant question left: what should we do to those who violate this principle? The only satisfactory answer is to retaliate with force. Those who ignore reason in favor of force must face forceful consequences. This is where government comes in. If individuals are unable to maintain the NAP on their own because they are outgunned, a state is necessary to monopolize force and minimize the use of aggressive force. This is the justification for the proposition of the debate.

Now they we have a firm logical foundation for our beliefs, I shall turn to my opponent's preliminary objections. Firstly, he claims that "government provides a lot of management that we've shown... we cannot handle as citizens." While I would love more specifics on this point, as well as proof that citizens cannot handle these responsibilities, I shall do my best to explain why government management is bad. Firstly, any government activity requires the use of force. This is because the government uses force to acquire money via taxation. Therefore, any purpose other than preventing the use of force or rectifying incidents of its use violate the NAP. Secondly, the government is notoriously incompetent at everything. Even the post office is running a massive deficit. Next, my opponent proposes that government "provides regulation of commerce, trade with foreign nations, and the groundwork for a judicial system." I would encourage my opponent to be more specific in what regulations are appropriate for commerce. However, the protection of a contract lies within the NAP. The right to own property implies the right to freely trade it, thereby implying the right to make a contract. Additionally, violating a contract by taking property and failing to provide your end of the deal means that you do not legitimately own the property and are therefore violating the rights of the owner. Therefore, a civil judicial system to oversee property disagreements is perfectly legitimate, as are "regulations on commerce" that protect the contract. Additionally, there is little need for the concept of nation-states in the first place. However, to be "practical", I will assume that other nations will remain exactly as they are and that only the U.S.A. will be transformed into a libertarian country. Free trade is the demand of the NAP, as free exchange is again a right guaranteed by the right to property. Finally, my opponent states that tribal councils represent the wants and needs of members of their societies. As long as they do not act in violation of the NAP, their existence is perfectly fine. If not, then they are in violation of the natural rights of their people. Again, please provide specifics on exactly what regulations would be put into place in regards to commerce.

I look forward to hearing the views of my opponent. Good luck to you.


aushhtinnn forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


I am truly sorry to see that my opponent has forfeited. Perhaps I bored him to death with my argument. That's one strategy, I suppose. 😃

For those interested in this topic, I would recommend reading "For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto" by Murray Rothbard. It is available at the following URL:

Finally, it you wish to debate this proposition as con, I am open to challenges. Thanks for watching the debate. I hope you learned something new.


aushhtinnn forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by Raistlin 2 years ago
Thanks to FreedomBeforeEquality for clarifying an important point. Clearly, I do not mean by "the role of government" any role that an actual government has taken on; otherwise, virtually every US program would disprove my point. Thank you for pointing out that, despite this, there is some ambiguity in the topic about whether it means actual or ideal role. I will try to be more clear in the future. However, it looks like my opponent got the gist of it. I hope everyone is enjoying the debate and learning something.
Posted by FreedomBeforeEquality 2 years ago
I think you should stress that it's the role of the current US government, not just 'the role of government'. You sound like you're giving an American gov't lesson ... while Raistlin is actually debating the ideal government.

There are so many forms and each one with different roles. Ours just happens to be the worst is all.
Posted by cheyennebodie 2 years ago
What's next? Communism and firing squads for those who do not pass the indoctrination camps.
Posted by funnycn 2 years ago
It's now become giving out free stuff and spying. What's next?
Posted by justiceandtruth 2 years ago
So con debates govs position is to do more than protect persons? And what would you define as force
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by lannan13 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeiture