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

Vigilantism is justified when the government has failed to uphold the law.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/4/2009 Category: Society
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,689 times Debate No: 7689
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (4)
Votes (2)




First of all, good luck to whomever accepts this debate challenge.
I will start in the first round, and my opponent (Pro) will end the debate.


Value: Justice
I define justice as Aristotle did, "giving each his or her due". This is the most legitimate value for this debate because of the resolution giving the condition of lack of law enforcement and also the main focus point of vigilantism, which is a principle regarding the citizens' enforcement of law. Law at its most basic and universal concept has always been the maximization of justice. In order to achieve justice, societies have relied on law and the enforcement of law.

Criterion: Popular Sovereignty
The criterion by which justice shall be measured in this debate shall stand as the maintenance of popular sovereignty. Popular sovereignty is defined as "a doctrine in political theory that government is created by and subject to the true will of the people", and is basically the idea that because the government gains power through the consent of the people, it is the duty of the government to reflect the views and positions of the people. Note that the true will of the people is not always identical to the desires of the public, because the true will is a result of both the freedoms of the individual and the restrictions necessary for the maintenance of a just society. By this we must see that the acts of vigilantes often fail to reflect the true will of the people for a number of reasons, which leads me to my first contention.

1: Vigilantism is unjust because the actions of vigilantes often fail to coincide with the true will of the people.

Vigilantes strive for swift and sure punishment: the problem, however, is that vigilante "justice" is often too swift and too sure. Vigilante "justice" offers no room for due process, and the decisions of guilt and magnitude of retribution are issued solely by the vigilante(s). This means that vigilante justice often fails to take into account the respect for human dignity and true justice demanded by popular sovereignty, and is therefore unjust, partly by fault of the ineptitude and inexperience of the vigilantes in interpreting the true will of the people.

2: Vigilantism cannot be justly used to enforce laws that themselves are unjust.

Often in society, a law arises that is unjust in itself. One example of this is the Fugitive Slave Law that was in place during pre-Civil War times in America requiring that escaped slaves be returned to their owners upon discovery. It's obvious to see that this past law was unjust, and for that reason law enforcement officers of that era often intentionally failed to enforce this law. However, although the law enforcement officers refused to commit injustices themselves, there is no rationalization for the citizens to commit these atrocities themselves. Vigilantism simply cannot be justified under any circumstances when enforcing the law directly equates to injustice, because those injustices go directly against the need for progression and the respect for human dignity that popular sovereignty achieves.

3: Vigilantism is often unjust because vigilantes lack the necessary means to reform their victims or to repair their victim's actions.

Unlike government systems, vigilante justice most often resorts to violent, physical measures as retribution for their victim's crimes. There is no reform of the victim attempted, no lesson taught, and if the punishments issued by the vigilantes do not kill the criminal, the victim is free to wreak havoc upon society. Vigilantes also cannot make reparative action for the criminal's actions, either directly through a mandate of community service nor indirectly through fining the criminal. Consequently, vigilantism ultimately opposes the maintenance of popular sovereignty because it opposes the progression that is a basic part of the true will of the people: it impedes the moral progression of the criminal by a lack of reform and additionally makes no effort to further society by repairing the negative impacts of criminal activity.

I urge a vote for Con


Viglante: An organization that intakes the responsibility of upholding justice with that further intention.- Oxford Law handbook
Value: Justice
VC : Categorical Imperative
Thesis: Punishing the guilty is a categorical imperative. A Kantian would argue that if one of the last two people on earth, surviving the apocalypse in a concrete bunker, knew beyond a doubt that his fellow survivor was an escaped murderer, he would have duty to execute the evildoer. This justice-over-all approach warrants vigilantism in the face of failed government enforcement. Furthermore this establishes that the only premise of justice other than the effect being just, is that a good will is the only way to achieve it. Lastly this achieves justice by endorsing truth at all costs, and justice that is true, a good will.

1: We all have a duty in our society. It is to excell in our area of work. Bring commerce to our society. Lastly, we have to abide by all societal norms. In the absence of a government the duty of establishing justice to preserve society is not being fufilled. Thus, as at all times we have a duty to be just and create justice.
a:Our duty is now to uphold justice so the society will not collapse. In doing so, we are commiting to a good will. We are saving hundred of people from chaos.
b: I will distinguish that the actions carried out are solely to protect society which would be just. This is not done out of a perpetual hatred for a crime or vengeance. This is not what vigilantism is. Seeing as my opponent has not defined Vigilantism there is no competition with my definition so the affirmative definition must be accepted.
C: The duty composes of five things:
1. Uphold Justice with the intention of upholding justice
2. Deliver punishments
3. Protect thyself
4. protect thy community
5. Establish order
D: Work toward the institution of some order is invariably just because the sole purpose of society is this. To prevent collapse and anarchy the affirmative must promote vigilantsim
E: The Institution of a vigilante group is granted by the craving of man for order. I will propose that since government has broken its side of the social contract it must be reestablished or fixed.

VC: Popular Sovereignity
Popular Sovereignty is defined as the true will of the people. I will stress that the will of the people is subject to the peoples needs and wants but the vagueness of this argument leaves a lot to be desired. Understand that the true will of the people is not consistent with the resolution. The true will of many people is often diverse "it is the duty of the government to reflect the views and positions of the people" The people are the rulers, essentially. How is this not different from Vigilantism. For example in your first point you said "Vigilantes strive for swift and sure punishment: the problem, however, is that vigilante "justice" is often too swift and too sure." So this Vigilante organization would further ask for the same of the govt. For example:
What happens with government: The people ask for the execution of a criminal, justly. The government has to give it according to you vc.
What happens in vigilantism: The vigilante organization, since it being the public, it wants to execute a criminal. It happens.
My opponent is essentially advocating vigilantism in doing what the people want. This essentially leaves his case as nothing.
Cont. 1 is immediately refuted, extend my args.
Cont.2 This contention is pressing in a definition that states that a vigilante upholds the law. My opponent, though clearly has failed to define vigilantism and proposes no argument that states otherwise. This argumant is irrelevant with my definition.
Cont.3 Vigilantes motion toward justice. They swift and sure, but right. Unlike the cases currently proposed, this is in a context of a place with no government. To further elaborate, it further poses the "end of the line". It advocates justice period. In other words Justice is not the reform of the criminal, it is his debt to society for his crimes. Their punishment is sufficient because, as clearly my opponent doesn't believe, justice is sufficient.

Afterword: Hi, This is my first debate on this website, and my first year doing LD. Also I am in middle school.
Debate Round No. 1


rulshok forfeited this round.


Well, well, welly well well. Extend My arguments PLZ and if you can please review the following case and revise the mistakes and logic
Vigilantism is justified when government has failed to enforce the law: I affirm
Value: Justice
VC: The Categorical Imperative
Thesis: The categorical imperative implies that an action to be just must have those intentions. Otherwise the action would be unjust or lesser justice. I will even go to the extent that government with the intent of pay, or as a job is not just. Furthermore I will classify Vigilantes as just for my following contentions. The link between my value and my vc is as follows: The categorical imperative outlines what is just, in following it we achieve justice.
For clarity in the round, I offer the following definitions:
Vigilantism: The act of a citizen who takes the law into his or her own hands by apprehending and punishing suspected criminals with the intention of achieving justice.
Justified: to show to have had a sufficient legal reason.
Government: the body of persons that constitutes the governing authority of a political unit or organization.
Failed: to be or become absent or inadequate.
Enforce: to carry out effectively.
The Law: a rule of conduct or action prescribed or formally recognized as binding or enforced by a controlling authority
Observation 1: Vigilantism in my definition will be left in ambiguity as to further understand how truly, the concept of vigilantism is just, not just one occasion.

Contention 1: The categorical imperative will be divided into three sub-divisions which will be my sub points. The divisions will be as follows:
A: The intention
The intention of the vigilantes is to achieve justice because there is no other virtue achieved in being a vigilante. For example the vigilante organization Sombra Negra in El Salvador has the goals of cleansing the social abominations in the society, they also think that their ultimate goal is to create justice and finally perfect El Salvador. Furthermore the commonly used term vigilante justice refers to the intention of the vigilante to achieve his personal justice. Lastly the intention of the vigilante is indisputable because of the absolute absence of virtues to risking one's life to help out one's society
B: The effect
The effect of the vigilante can be disputed much more easily but I will explain simply that the average of vigilantes achieve their goals and intentions. However, many times in history they are not identified as such. For example, Julius Caesar, He took over control of the Roman society and continued as had been done earlier, apprehending and punishing suspected criminals. Some would call this a dictatorship, but I disagree. The original government was disbanded and Julius Caesar took over as the head of Rome, however there was no government. He was the one who commanded the law and was truly a vigilante. Many cases as these are filled in history. The Sombra Negra, as mentioned earlier, has also had a positive effect in El Salvador. According to there was a 3% decrease in gang related murders in 1994 and an increase in 5% in 2004 when the vigilante group had officially been not operating for 3 years.
C: The after effect
The after effect of vigilantism is
Debate Round No. 2


rulshok forfeited this round.


Debate Round No. 3


rulshok forfeited this round.


Extend... And hey if anyone is looking look at my revised aff case
Vigilantism is justified when government has failed to enforce the law
V: Societal welfare
VC: Will to Power of societal order
Thesis: The will to power is an individual's struggle against their surroundings that culminates in personal growth, and the ability to assert power. Vigilantism is justified through this struggle against the crime that has been committed. In Will to Power Nietzsche writes:
"My idea is that every specific body strives to become master over all space and to extend its force (its will to power) and to thrust back all that resists its extension. But it continually encounters similar efforts on the part of other bodies and ends by coming to an arrangement ("union") with those of them that are sufficiently related to it: thus they then conspire together for power."

If the government (the highest power) has failed to uphold the law then the vigilante is justified at working for the top, for this is the natural state. Thus, Vigilantism is Justified when the government fails to uphold the law(which is essentially relinquishing power over people). Since the will of the people is being upheld
Observation1: The affirmative is stating that all actions are manifestations of power and a want for the ideas behind it to reach supremacy. EX. Why would I do charity? Because I want to help children and promote the idea by example.
Observation 2: Will to Power explains how an individual set out to reach his goals. The vigilante's goal is to maintain a status quo in which the society is neutral or better. This can further be explained in the definition "who decides to take the law into his own hands" meaning that said individual will fix the law. Thus, it can be understood that the object that is being altered is societal laws.
Contention 1: How vigilantes both work for themselves and others
It can be understood that a government's priority is its citizens, however will to power may seem to contradict that. Or does it?
Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr., wrote—clearly within a line of thought already well-established by then:
It has been said that "[t]he most basic function of any government is to provide for the security of the individual and of his property." Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 539 (1966) (WHITE, J., dissenting). And unless Government safeguards its own capacity to function and to preserve the security of its people, society itself could become so disordered that all rights and liberties would be endangered. As Chief Justice Hughes reminded us in Cox v. New Hampshire, 312 U.S. 569, 574 (1941):
Civil liberties, as guaranteed by the Constitution, imply the existence of an organized society maintaining public order without which liberty itself would be lost in the excesses of unrestrained abuses.
1.White: Government must "provide for the security of the individual and of his property."
2.Powell: Government cannot do that unless it "safeguards its own capacity to function."
3.Hughes: Without "an organized society maintaining public order," there can be no liberty.
4.Yoo: Our government must therefore protect "the security of the United States."

There, in just a short set of remarks by members of the professional legal class, by what seems like an unassailable logical progression, we can see the clear development of what ought to be a deeply troublesome idea: only a government whose primary interest is protecting its own institutional existence can serve the function that its citizens believe—apparently mistakenly—ought to be its primary interest, namely, the security of those citizens and their interests. Thus disproving will to power as a narcissistic term.

Cont: 2 Vigilantism's on your side ( To the tune of nationwide)
Some may ask, Well, what if the vigilante fails? I will answer truly. He probably will but this is how all governments are formed. Through trial and error he will work his way up. He will essentially be our patriotic fighter. He works to help us and if he fails, then we mourn. However with every vigilante the will to maintain the societal order will grow. Then, with an incredible barrage someone will achieve.
A: Misdirected conceptions make the vigilante harm society
This is not true. The vigilante first represents himself and then his people. The vigilante will work for his people to establish a societal order. If he fails in that will, it will be not because of him being. "Vigilantes" who have misconceptions about their will or people aren't really trying to enforce the law or better it, only to achieve a knock off or their personal justice which is not a vigilante. To put it in simple terms if the vigilante tries to enforce the law, but isn't really, then that isn't the will of maintaining the social order and thus enforcing the law.
B: the laws are bad.
Again, I will point out that if the "vigilante" tries to enforce bad laws, he will be disturbing the societal order. This runs contradictory to the earlier statement that his will is to promote the societal order. Some may point out that the definition says to take the law into one's hands. This, however, does not imply that the laws will be enforced. This can mean that the laws will be changed and then enforced or some other sequence.
Debate Round No. 4
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by Clockwork 8 years ago
Sorry, one more comment by me before I go. I can never think of everything I want to say in one moment, it comes to me in waves.

My cases are written in a way that ensures that the basis behind my opponent's refutation of my contentions is almost always the same general idea. This (roughly) allows me to write my final rebuttal in advance, but also means that they're hard to defend if you didn't write them yourself. I'll be interested in where you take it.

I wouldn't hesitate if there was a 72-hour post time, but I'm busy at the moment. I might jot down a Will to Power Pro case and run it tomorrow if its still open.
Posted by Clockwork 8 years ago
And by the way, my original speech was built as a spoken case (it was the case I took to districts and state), and by taking out the rhetorical devices you've made the arguments feel off-balance. Maybe its just me and my crafted perspective of my case, but it doesn't seem to flow well with the choppy editing you've initiated.
Posted by Clockwork 8 years ago
Thanks for stealing my case without citing it, Rulshok. I very well may pick up this case just to have fun, but you deserve to lose on the sole account of plagiarism.
Posted by Maikuru 8 years ago
This is a much more popular debate topic than I could have imagined.
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Vote Placed by TheCategorical 8 years ago
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