The Instigator
Con (against)
7 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
7 Points

Vigilantism is justified when the government has failed to enforce the law

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Post Voting Period
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It's a Tie!
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/9/2009 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,102 times Debate No: 7760
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (15)
Votes (2)




Vigilantism is justified when the government has failed to enforce the law. NEG
V: Societal Welfare
The welfare of society is of the utmost importance. We need to stop crimes from being committed before they are. We also need to establish a stable social order. Society will never progress otherwise.
VC: reduction of human suffering
My opponent advocates some type of punishment which entails human suffering for two victims. The criminal who will be punished by the vigilante and the original victim of this crime. What I propose is that these crimes be prevented by eliminating motives from society. Thus, in this scenario we will have lesser human suffering. If this is not done then it will be an endless cycle of crime committed and punishment committed.
Vigilantes are never moral or just
1 If vigilantes are striving for justice, they will never achieve it. Let me further explain. When man has tried to define justice, many different types have arisen. For example, equality of justice or utilitarian justice. Since justice can never be defined it can never be achieved. For the vigilante to achieve justice in his mind will truly be his justice, not necessarily true impossible justice. For example, the Second World War. Nazi Germany viewed justice as killing inferior Jews for they had led to the partial downfall of the country in the First World War, they assumed. We can see clearly that this was just for them but not for the rest of the world.
2 Vigilantes who try to enforce the law are hypocrites. This may seem blunt and offensive but it is exactly this. Let me first add the distinction between a vigilante and a community watchman. A vigilante violates the law, while technically a community watchman is an extension of the law and provides a legal service to the community. The vigilante who tries to uphold the law clearly has two faults. One he is violating the same law he is trying to uphold. This cannot be allowed even in government. Imagine a policeman who tries to prevent killings in his profession, performs them instead. This negates his earlier service and proves to enforce the concept that anything is allowed. Two the laws he may be trying to enforce are probably unjust. It is to be expected from a government that does not enforce the law that it have unjust laws in the first place. Why wouldn't a corrupt government NOT have laws ascertaining the power of its leaders?
3 A Vigilante is useless if prevention and deterrence is the goal. A vigilante allows the infraction to be committed and then administers injustice once again. When the vigilante allows the infraction to be committed he is truly not stopping the crime. The individuals who committed the crime will be locked away, but new ones will still arise. The correct solution would be to stop these criminals and catch them before the crime is committed. Otherwise we would be going in an endless cycle. The criminal commits the crime, vigilantes punish them. How this would be achieved would be to study the motives and reasons and to eliminate those reasons or prevent them from acting out those reasons.

Thus, we can ascertain the thought that all vigilantism is completely unjust, immoral and ineffective. Furthermore we also know that what the government was doing earlier will be the same or similar to what the vigilante will do. Enforce the law into an endless cycle. And finally we see that the laws or justice enforced will never achieve a societal good. Boogie Dance!


Per Ike Brown, criminal sociologist:

Vigilantism- A social movement without authorized legal authority aimed at the rectification of a structural flaw in society brought about by inadequate law enforcement.

Per the RHD:

Government: The political direction and control exercised over the actions of the members, citizens, or inhabitants of communities, societies, and states.

The Law: The principles and regulations established in a community by some authority and applicable to its people, whether in the form of legislation or of custom and policies recognized and enforced by judicial decision.

Value: Societal Progression. As the situations of the times change, society must adapt to expand its influence as to limit harmful changes and to encourage helpful ones. Societal progression must been seen as the superior value in today's debate because without progression, no change for the better can be achieved and society will ultimately collapse.

Value Criterion: The Will to Power. Every human individual seeks to expand its dominion in the greatest amount possible. In pursuing this will to power, however, the individual repeatedly conflicts with other beings which also seek to expand its power. In order to further their wills to power, these beings form groups, unions, and societies so as to channel their energies together to expand their power.

A government thus holds two essential purposes: one, to expand its citizens' wills to power, and two, to protect its citizens from harmful individuals whose quests to expand power conflict with the general public.

The government has failed to expand the will to power as to limit the actions of the criminal, and it has failed to protect it's citizens from the criminals' will to power. Thus, because the government has failed to fulfill these duties, it falls upon the citizens to take these duties unto themselves, as Natural Law under the Will to Power would demand.

Observation One: The American University of Law Review has concluded that vigilantes:
-One, are members of an organized committee
-Two, are established members of a community
-Three, proceed with definite goals (as opposed to random acts of violence)
-And Four, act as a last result as a result of the failure of the established legal system.

Cross apply this with my Value Criterion and you will see that because the government has field to adequately represent its' citizen's wills to power, the vigilantes act to take this will to power upon their own shoulders, and thus act for the progression of society by their necessary expansion of the will to power.

Observation Two: Because there is no antecedent in regards to "the law" as stated in the resolution, it is implied that the government has failed to enforce the law as a general concept.

Contention One: Vigilantism is justified because it limit's the negative effects of the expansion of criminal's power.

When an individual commits a crime, he directly opposes the progression of society as a whole in favor of his personal desires for power. As such, because his pursuit of power conflicts with the pursuits of the public, his actions must be stopped.

The apathy on part of the government does nothing to quench the essential will to power of the people. Criminal action directly opposes the desire for power and progress of the law-abiding public, and because these two wills to power are in conflict, both sides must be represented in order to ensure progression. By advocating a Negative stance, the will to power of the public goes unrepresented and thus the criminal's will to power is unchallenged. When applied to the resolution, Negative advocacy essentially breaks down to anarchy because the will to power of the public is not represented in any way.

Contention Two: Vigilantism is justified because it aids the expansion of the people's will to power.

Criminal activity poses a threat to the progression and power of society. By means of vigilantism, the will to power expands over those who freely wage war against the progress of society.

The resolution clearly states that the government has failed to enforce the law, and in doing such, opposes the will to power of the people. The Negative asserts that the citizens have no such authority to expand their will to power without proper authority. Accordingly, the will to power of the people cannot be represented, and thus, society becomes ridden with conflict. The regulation of the will to power guarantees that the people's efforts towards expansion are maintained and that those who oppose this will are punished, while a lack of representation ultimately looses the individuals' own wills to power, which can be destructive. These destructive wills create a detriment to society and without regulation of these wills, society will descend into lawlessness and ultimately collapse into a chaos of disorderly conflicts of will.

On to refutation.

My opponents' value must be rejected in favor of Societal Progression because without the progression of society, welfare can never be improved. If criminal activity reigns free, the welfare of society cannot be achieved because the collective wills to power of the people cannot be channeled towards greater goals. My opponent even concludes his explanation of his value by saying that society cannot progress without the establishment of a social order, and I have already proven that the social order will collapse if the people's wills to power are not maintained. Thus, we must value Societal Progression as the supreme value in this debate.

For the measurement of Societal Welfare my opponent advocates that we must strive to reduce human suffering. My opponent advocates a perfect world where conflict of will doesn't exist and everyone lives in peace in harmony without providing any sort of logical proof as to how this would be achieved. Therefore, we must see that the opposing VC flows to the Affirmative because the representation of the people's wills to power ensures that society will not dissolve into chaos and lawlessness, thereby removing many potential conflicts and casualties.

My opponents first point is invalid because it hinges upon an essential belief of essential humanity; that is, he says that because humans cannot define justice, justice cannot be achieved. Let me first point out that my opponent's claim that is not within the scope of human achievement to define justice is unwarranted. But regardless of whether this claim is true, justice still exists, and we must strive to achieve the best level of true justice possible. Regardless of what the Hitlers and Mussolinis or the Lincolns or Washingtons of this world see justice as, there is still an objective standard that must be aimed for.

My opponent's second contention is additionally invalid because of his inaccurate assertion that the aim of a vigilante is to enforce the law. As seen by my case, the true duty of the vigilante is to replace the government in the representation of the people's will to power by acting against opposing wills, and in this regard, there is no hypocrisy to speak of.

Finally, my opponent once again misinterprets the goals of vigilantes in his third contention. Vigilantes must represent the will to power of the people and act against those who oppose it. Prevention is a cause worth aiming for but can never be achieved on a universal scale short of removing all conflict, all human interaction. By definition each individuals' wills to power are in conflict with one another, but the individuals can further their wills by uniting under a common goal, as is the purpose of government or vigilante action. They then act against those who oppose this will. With the rejection of government control and the rejection of vigilantism, the people's wills to power cannot be represented and thus their wills will be in constant conflict with their aggressors.
Debate Round No. 1


Thanks to Clockwork for accepting this debate.

Value: Societal Progression

Societal Progression is not compatible with the resolution for one reasons:
A: The Nazi party wanted to progress the German society by dominating the world. The resolution denotes "Justified" however we can understand that societies might progress through unjust acts.

VC: Will to Power

In his first speech my opponent said "Vigilantes must represent the will to power of the people and act against those who oppose it." This shows that a vigilantes will hinges upon the peoples will. NOTE: The vigilantes supposed will is SOCIETAL PROGRESS. This is not true for two reasons:
A: the will of the people might not be to progress a society
Many times the people do not want to continue a society but to end it. In Gabriel Garcia Marquez's book 100 years of solitude, He tells the story of how the town of Macondo was created. The story tells that a group of cock fighters and their families decided to start a new town due to an accident that happened after a match.
B: Most of the time the wills will conflict
Uniting to achieve a common goal can happen, but this does not state that all of the wills of the citizens will be the same. as proven above. Vigilantes will be torn on which values to enforce.

Observation One: I will attack the first part of the observation. Vigilantes are not necessarily acts of a committee. I will pose one question to my opponent : If a vigilance committee was exterminated except for one person would he still be a vigilante? Is it still called vigilantism?

Contention One: There are three flaws with this contention:
A: The vigilante doesn't necessarily have the tools to reform or even find the criminal
The vigilante isn't a government. It doesn't have all the branches or resources of even the most basic governments.
B: As I stated in my third contention vigilantism does not achieve deterrence. It is a cycle:
A criminal pops up
we catch him
another pops up
C: With reference to A: above we can see that the vigilante might not even catch the criminal. However I will to the extent of saying that the vigilante will harm society. Killing an incorrect person can harm families and thus society.

Contention two : ( Look at VC: Will to Power)

V: Societal Welfare
VC: reduction of Human suffering
My opponent even concludes his explanation of his value by saying that society cannot progress without the establishment of a social order, and I have already proven that the social order will collapse if the people's wills to power are not maintained. Thus, we must value Societal Progression as the supreme value in this debate.
First, I will differentiate my value from my opponents. Societal Welfare is clearly superior because Welfare is much more widely needed.
First progress can be bad ( Look at V: Societal Progress), but welfare is always good.

C1 Justice can only be approximated. That was my opponents response, however what I was trying to establish is that since we all have different concepts one vigilance committee would fight another to establish their justice. This proves that vigilantes who uphold a will of justice ( as dictated by their community) will fight with another who tries to do the same but misunderstands it.

C2 I will concede this point as an inaccurate assertion if the peoples will is not to uphold the law. The truth is that the peoples will can be anything. So since my opponent cannot establish the exact will it could be dictated as this in one city or justice or whatever in another.

C3 My opponent misinterprets my contention. It just says that the pain and crime will never end. I proposed but never established as an option to reduce suffering not end it.

Explain the will of the Vigilante.


My opponent's attack on my Value is irrational. He suggests using a subjective method as an effort to meet an objective standard. Just because someone believes that something is justified doesn't mean that it is. The expansion of power (as is the duty of a government) and unjust actions are two separate acts and should be treated as such. Furthermore, irrational expansions of power do not fall under the definition of vigilantism because these instances would not be used to rectify society's structural flaws, but would instead create new ones.

My opponent's inadequate attacks on my Value Criterion are rooted in a basic misunderstand of the Will to Power. A government has two duties: To expand and maintain the power of its citizens, and to protect the already existing dominion of its citizens against threatening forces. The progress of society is therefore essentially bound to the will to power because of the expansion achieved under such a will.

Regardless of whether or not a community is physically expanding its boundaries, it is still working under the will to power. For example, Germany under the guiding hand of Otto von Bismark did not seek to colonize, in contrast other nations at the time. Rather, Bismark strove to ensure that the Germany that he had helped to craft would further stabilize for the sake of its future as a prosperous nation. In doing such, Bismark ensured the expansion of the German nation's power internally as opposed to externally.

My opponent misinterprets the will to power as a way to act; rather, the will to power is THE way we act. The problem with a Negative stance, however, is that there remains no way to combine the people's wills to power to reach common goals of progression.

From Plato to Locke, philosophers have noted that one of the main reason man naturally forms societies is because under such a union they can channel their efforts to accomplish tasks that could not be achieved by the individual. A Negative stance creates a total removal of this standard and as such, the people's wills fall into disorderly conflict and anarchy reigns.

My opponent's attacks on my first contention are illogically based. All attacks on my first contention try to connect an Affirmative position to a requirement of a just society, while the resolution only equates an Affirmative position with justified action. Neither affirmative nor negative positions achieve a Utopian standard of justice because the government fails to enforce the law. However, the highest standard of justice possible must be attained, and vigilantism works towards this standard in a way not remotely achieved by Negation.

As my opponent attacked my Contention 2 by extension of his attack on my VC, I defend my C2 by defense of my VC. Note that Negative has failed to refute that vigilantism does not descend society into lawlessness by fault of the chaotic conflict of wills achieved by a Negative stance.

My opponent asserts that progression can be a step backwards on the part of society, but by definition that would be a regression of society. Progression always moves the will to power of the society forward and must be valued over my opponent's value of societal welfare because progression serves the society as a whole by moving forward.

Note that my opponent is extremely vague in what constitutes welfare in society; he assures us that a state of anarchy serves the welfare of the public better than regulation and protection by extension of the will of the people. It could be said that the Negative value is better achieved by an Affirmative stance.

My opponent further states that justice can only be approximated, but I would have to disagree. If justice could only be approximated, the resolution would be "Vigilantism 'can be' justified when the government has failed to enforce the law." There has to be a standard of measuring justice; as Aristotle stated, we must give each his due, both to the law-abiding public and to those who wish to wage war against the well being of society. By this we can see that this standard of justice is by no means achieved by a Negative stance.

My opponents weak attempt at defense of his conceded contention two fails even further. The will of the people is the will to power by which every being acts, the will for expansion and growth of society. Thus we must see that through this basic will the very nature of humanity is fulfilled and justice is attained.

Finally, if my opponent does not establish a method in his contention three that reduces pain and suffering that CANNOT be achieved by vigilantism, his C3 is irrelevant to this debate. Seeing as we have three rounds left, I wish to see some proof that by Negation a lesser degree of suffering can be realized. As this as of yet has not been established, at this moment my opponent's C3 is irrelevant to this debate.

I await my opponent's response.
Debate Round No. 2


TheCategorical forfeited this round.


Extend... Forfeits are not fun.
Debate Round No. 3


TheCategorical forfeited this round.



Seeing as my opponent has failed to post two of his rounds, and, as a result, the entirety of his case stands undefended, please vote Pro.
Debate Round No. 4
15 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Clockwork 8 years ago
It was probably CON that voted CON. =)
Posted by wjmelements 8 years ago
Clockwork deserved to win this.

Shame on whoever voted CON.
Posted by TheCategorical 9 years ago
Sorry, I forgot. I have had a tough week. I got 3rd TWICE in the UofH and Oakridge tournaments and Lanier lost both. Furthermore, in my deffense this week was Taks/ the test for Texas or five days of boredom.
Posted by Metz 9 years ago
What he means by Just vs. Justified is that for something to be Just it must be good. for something to be Justified it must merely be permissible. They both apply circumstantially.

Essentially anything that is not unjustified, is Justified. This includes things that are totally neutral, like playing a board game.
Posted by TheCategorical 9 years ago
In response to your justified comment, that's why the W2P should only be used in "justified" cases, not "just" cases. My case would be ruined if the resolution used the word "just" instead of "justified".
can you explain how that works? Just implies justice but justified implies under the circumstances, right?
Posted by Clockwork 9 years ago
Your example of your failed W2P case is a fault of bad judging, not fault on Nietzsche. That's equal to a judge saying "I disagree with X in Plato's Republic, so I voted Con." If your opponent can discover a flaw in your founding philosopher's logic, then so be it, but the judge's job is to interpret the doings of the round.

Most of the refutation of Nietzsche deals with moral relativism and nihilism, and pointing out the irrelevance of the Ubermensch.

In response to your justified comment, that's why the W2P should only be used in "justified" cases, not "just" cases. My case would be ruined if the resolution used the word "just" instead of "justified".

The Will to Power is incorporated in Natural Law, which dictates the formation of government in the first place. When the original channelers of the Will to Power have failed, Natural Law dictates that the Will falls to the next power, that being the citizens.
Posted by Metz 9 years ago
"it's a pretty bad idea to debate anything related to Nietzsche in an actual tournament without reading Beyond Good and Evil and Thus Spoke Zarathustra, at the very least."

Its a bad idea to debate Nietzsche in general... Judges don't seem to like him... I used a WTP case and a judge essentially suggested getting psychiatric help before voting me down because I mentioned the word "Nietzsche"

Also On the WTP... Nietzsche never says the WTP is necessarily the BEST way to act. Merely that is the way that we do act. Say I am a drug addict. Taking Drugs is part of how my Body must act. Am I justified in taking drugs because of this?
Posted by Clockwork 9 years ago
Gah, stupid character limit made me eliminate the sub point labels. Blast.
Posted by Clockwork 9 years ago
Never mind, I'll actually be done by the end of the night.
Posted by Clockwork 9 years ago
I'm in the process of writing my case, I'll post it sometime tomorrow.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by TheCategorical 9 years ago
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Vote Placed by Clockwork 9 years ago
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