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Zaradi's Prized Tournament Final: Food Security

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Voting Style: Open with Elo Restrictions Point System: Select Winner
Started: 4/3/2015 Category: Society
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,197 times Debate No: 72825
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (60)
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This is the Final round of Zaradi's Prize Debate Tournament. I want to extend my thanks to Zaradi for hosting and for being magnanimous enough to attach a prize to this tournament. I also want to thank Beginner for suspending his leave of absence in order to conclude the tournament with this debate. I look forward to a superb exchange. Finally, I want to thank everyone involved in the tournament, including competitors, debaters, voters, and casual readers--this would not have been as fun or even possible without you.

Sides in this debate were assigned by Zaradi, so I will be engaging in a devil's advocate position. It should be fun and challenging, and I look forward to meeting that challenge head-on. To vote on this debate, your ELO must be at least 2,500. The style of voting is Select Winner. If Beginner has an queries about any elements of the set-up, I urge him to contact me prior to the debate by PMing me or posting in the comments. Now, with those preliminary notes out of the way, on to the debate!

Full Topic

A just government ought to ensure food security for its citizens.


The definitions below are influenced by or excerpted from Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, Merriam Webster, Oxford Dictionary, the WHO, the FAO, the World Bank, and Encarta.

Government - 'the organization, machinery, or agency through which a political unit exercises authority and performs functions' and 'the body of persons that constitutes the governing authority.'
Ought - expresses moral obligation
Ensure - to guarantee; a pledge whereby one party agrees to absolutely secure, provide, or obtain something for another party.
Food Security - A condition wherein all citizens have access to reliable and sufficient supply of affordable and nutritious food.
Citizen - 'a legally recognized subject or national of a state or commonwealth'


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, moral nihilism, etc.)
7. My opponent accepts all definitions and waives his/her right to add resolutional definitions
8. An exception to rule 7 is that debaters may propose competing ideas or definitions of justice and what constitutes "just" governance
9. The BOP is Shared
10. Pro must go first and must waive in the final round
11. 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 Beginner; I am looking forward to a truly stellar and enjoyable discourse on this important topic!


Thank you bsh. It's certainly a pleasure to be up here standing next to bsh in this battle of eloquence and wits. I want to extend the same gracious thanks that bsh gave in his preface to the audience, to bsh himself and to Zaradi. Without further ado -

Premise 1 - The Purpose of Government
I assert that a government exists to serve a purpose. In other words, each governmental state assumes inherent moral duties to those that it governs. The government acts as a functional, political agency in order to further justice. A just government is one which fulfills its duties of promoting, preserving and furthering justice. In other words, a just government is just. Fairly tautological really.

Premise 2 - Justice
P2SP1 - What it Means to be Just.
There are two general definitions of 'Just'. One definition pertains in particular to fairness while the other pertains to moral uprightness. Since governments exists with inherent moral duties, justice in the case of this debate can be reasonably assumed to pertain to the case of morality insofar as to justify interchanging the word 'just' with the word 'moral' in the resolution.

P2SP2 - The Government's Moral Duties
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men"[2]
These words were written by the founding leaders of the American government. It states that governmental institutions are created to secure basic moral values for its people, and further asserts the basic moral values to encompass the three tenets: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. While the American government doesn't necessarily represent the totality of the world's government, it provides a set of generally accepted values. Based on John Locke's tenets of Life, Liberty and Property, the values proposed in the Declaration of Independence are a manifestation of western moral philosophy. I assert that the western ideals centered around these utilitarian values of Life, Liberty, etc. are the ideals for which governments should strive to promote for all its citizens.

P2SC1 - A Just Government Ensures the Right to Life
This is the conclusion we draw from P2SP2. In order for it to be just, a government must fulfill its moral duties. One of these moral duties is to ensure the right to life of its citizens, and food security is a necessary precondition to fulfilling its obligations to this particular right.

Premise 1 establishes that a government has moral duties. Premise 2 establishes that a government is just if it fulfills its moral duties. Premise 2 further establishes that these moral duties encompass some very specific set of values, and that among these values is the right to life. Premise 2 finally concludes that an obligation to securing the right to life implies an obligation to ensuring food security.
And thus a just government is obligated to ensure food security for its citizens else it cannot be considered just: a just government ought to ensure food security for its citizens.
In other words, a government which acts on this particular obligation is just.

Post-hoc Musings:
CON's case should argue that food security does not need to be achieved. In other words, he can either argue an absence of duty or the presence of a contrary duty. CON may also contend the qualifications for being just.
CON could possibly argue that the right to life may be impossible to fulfill or that it may come at some cost. However, the affirmative does not need to show how to ensure food security. It only needs to affirm that food security ought to be ensured. The affirmative argues that the end result of food security ought to be achieved as a moral duty. The goal itself is just, and for a government to be just, it must seek to achieve this goal. The method by which to reach this goal isn't of concern to this debate. Given that the government knows how to provide food security to its citizens without incurring general net losses, a just government ought to provide food security for its citizens.

Debate Round No. 1


Thanks again to Beginner for his arguments! I apologize in advance for any errors caused by C/Ping from word.


Observation One: Terms

Since we're allowed to clarify what "justness" is to us, and to add necessary or useful non-resolutional definitions, I will offer two quick definitions:

Justice - he quality of being just, impartial, or fair
Just - acting or being in conformity with what is morally upright or good

Observation Two: "Ought" Implies "Can"

"Ought" implies "can" for three reasons:

1. It would be unjust impose impossible obligations. It is wrong to impose moral duties on an agent that said agent cannot possibly meet, because that agent would be condemned as immoral--blamed--through no fault of its own. For instance, it cannot be a moral obligation for me to eat copious amounts of arsenic and live, simply because I could never attain that standard. Therefore, I am doomed to failure and to immorality (because I fail to do what is morally required of me). That is inherently unfair.

2. If obligations were not achievable, agents would waste resources attempting to meet the burden imposed on them. It is therefore better to recognize attainable objectives in order to maximize resources and benefits.

3. Capacity to perform obligations is a prerequisite to any moral system. "[T]he point of uttering moral judgments disappears if the agents involved are not able to act as proposed." [1] So, because I cannot reasonably be blamed if I fail to survive after eating large amounts of arsenic, the obligation fails to achieve its purpose, which is to delineate good from bad, blameworthy from praiseworthy. The obligations themselves are rendered meaningless.

Observation Three: Ensuring Food Security

What does it mean to ensure food security? If we look to the definitions given in R1, to "ensure" means to to "absolutely secure, provide, or obtain" something. "Food security" is also applied to "all" not just "some" citizens. Therefore, to ensure food security is to unconditionally and totally obtain reliable supplies of affordable and nutritious food that is accessible to and sufficient for every single citizen. When taken in tandem with OB2, this means that Pro MUST show solvency (i.e. that he can tangibly implement food security as defined), or he cannot meet his burden in the debate.


My line of argumentation is simple: that no government can ensure food security, and so Pro cannot affirm the resolution.

Contention One: Biodiversity issues make guarantees of food security impossible

Sub-point A: Reductions in biodiversity are current and significant

"[B]iodiversity resources are being lost at an accelerating rate that may cause the disappearance by 2025 of one-quarter of all the species now existing...Even if the evolutionary process that creates diversity continued at rates comparable to those in the geologic past, it would take tens of millions of years for today"s level of diversity, once seriously depleted, to be restored." [2] "The loss of local species...results in irreversible loss of the genetic diversity they contain, known as genetic erosion." [3]

Sub-point B: Loss of biodiversity jeopardizes food security

"[Genetic erosion] has dangerously shrunk the genetic pool...for natural selection, and for...breeders, and has consequently increased the vulnerability of agricultural crops to sudden changes in climate, and to the appearance of new pests and diseases...For example, in the United States in 1970, [a fungus] destroyed more than half the standing maize crop...grown from seeds that have a narrow genetic base and are susceptible to this disease." [3] "The current wholesale destruction of populations and species of wild plants...[is] foreclosing the potential for developing new food sources," because fewer plants can be explored for their agricultural viability. [2]

Contention Two: Disease makes ensuring food security impossible

Sub-point A: Disease prevents humans from cultivating

"Diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS not only reduce the man-hours available to agriculture and household food acquisition, but also increase the burden of a household in acquiring food." [4]

Sub-point B: Disease can destroy crops and livestock

"Catastrophic plant disease exacerbates the current deficit of food supply...Plant pathogens are difficult to control because their populations are variable in time, space, and genotype. Most insidiously, they evolve, often overcoming the resistance that may have been the hard-won achievement of the plant breeder." [5] Even where genetic diversity exists, virulent illnesses in both animals and plants can significantly harm populations.

Contention Three: Climate change endangers food security

"[T]he UN's intergovernmental panel on climate change concluded that climate change was already having effects...The report [was the result of] a three year joint effort by more than 300 scientists...[and] said climate change had already cut into the global food supply. Global crop yields were beginning to decline...raising doubts as to whether production could keep up with population growth...[C]limate change could lead to dramatic drops in global wheat [and maize] production." [6] The report added that the effects of climate change were irreversible: "The report said some impacts of climate change will "continue for centuries," even if all emissions from fossil-fuel burning were to stop." [7]

Contention Four: Sociopolitical barriers stymie food security

Sub-point A: Agro-terrorism impedes food security

"Kenya's Mau Mau used the African milk bush to poison cattle. In 1978, the Arab Revolutionary Council poisoned Israeli orange crops with mercury...In 1997, Israeli settlers used pesticides to destroy 17,000 metric tonnes of Palestinian grapevines...[F]ood chains have so many points of vulnerability; [P]otential threats to them can include anything from the sabotage of open field crops and water pipes to deliberate contamination...of food reserves." [8]

Sub-point B: Lack of infrastructure is problematic

"Limited rural development [is] a primary factor aggravating food insecurity in sub-Saharan Africa. The majority of the population, as well as the majority of the poor, lives in the rural areas...Weak rural infrastructure...limit[s] the potential for agricultural development and opportunities for nonfarm income." [9]

Sub-point C: Wars jeopardize food security

"Violent conflict is an important factor behind high food prices and severe food insecurity. Conflict often affects the ability to produce, trade and access food...Conflict typically brings increased military spending...which crowds out other social expenditures, contributing to food security and child hunger"In Mali, where conflict has disrupted market access, coarse grain prices increased sharply by 80-100 percent above average from late 2011 onwards in many markets." [10]

Underview: Too Many Threats

There are just too many threats, many of which are unforseeable or have yet to manifest, that could potentially stymie efforts to ensure food security, for food security to ever be solvable. Even if Pro can address the specific solvency issues I mention, it is still not possible for him to predict and prevent every possible thing that could prevent food security from being ensured. Thus, Pro cannot affirm.


Securitizing food is inherently Bad

1. It increases the risk of conflict

"[I]t allows states to utilize security--and military resources to compete over scarce resources such as agricultural land, fresh water, fertilizers and fish stocks--increasing the risk for conflict." [11]

2. It leads to a bloating of government authority

"[G]overnment acknowledgment of shortfalls in centrally-led food and agriculture 'defense' may be telling. Such shortfalls underscore not just administrative inadequacies, but real challenges of centralization and scale as responses to food security risks...[C]entralization, simplification and resource intensity of the prevailing U.S. food system [are] inimical to a" [12] Decentralization is actually good for the economy, according to EU comparative studies [13] and centralization risks a transition to authoritarianism.

2. It's Neo-Colonial

"[C]ountries from Saudi Arabia to China plan to lease vast tracts of land in Africa and Asia to grow crops and ship them back to their markets. 'The risk is of creating a neo-colonial pact for the provision of non-value-added raw materials...and unacceptable work conditions for agricultural workers'…Some negotiations have led to unequal international relations.'" [14]


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2 - Paul R. Ehrlich, Anne H. Ehrlich and Gretchen C. Daily, “Food Security, Population, and Environment,” Population and Development Review, Vol. 19, No. 1 (Mar., 1993).
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Thus, I negate! Over to Pro...


Many thanks to bsh!

OV - The Burdens to Showing Qualification

CON's second observation states that "ought" implies "can" which directly contradicts the part in my posthoc musings which states that I, PRO, do not need to provide the method by which the government should ensure food security for its citizens.
The rationale is simple. The case in question here pertains very specifically to a necessary condition for a qualification. As with any condition-to-qualification correlation, the ability to satisfy the condition is actually irrelevant to the necessity of this condition toward that qualification. For example, in order to be bald, one ought to be hairless on the head. In order for one to be a female, one ought to have a vagina. In order for one to be naked, one ought not to be wearing any clothes. In order for something to be omnipotent, it ought to be able to transcend space and time among other things. In order for a person to be telepathic, that person ought to be able to read minds. In order for a government to be considered just, it ought to ensure food security to its citizens.
Notice that some of the sets of qualifications and conditions that I've provided above are impossible. It is impossible to either be omnipotent or be able to satisfy the condition of being able to transcend space and time. Yet the condition of being able to transcend space and time is nonetheless valid toward something's qualifying for omnipotence. Similarly, the condition of ensuring food security is valid toward a government's qualifying to being just.
Fairness in terms of a condition-to-qualification correlation is irrelevant.
Thus I reject the burden of giving a method for a government to ensure food security.

OV Musings - Irrelevant Filler Thoughts

A condition's impossibility necessarily makes the qualification impossible. Thus, if a qualification is impossible, then it is implied that the condition is also impossible. Since the condition of ensuring food security isn't a logical contradiction, I assert that the condition of ensuring food security is possible given that we have an infinite set of possible solutions to choose from. We may not have yet found out how to ensure food security, but as long as it is possible, governments ought to divert resources to at least attempt to provide food security. What resource and how much of it to divert is up to individual government's discretion. Even though a number of governments are still unable to ensure food security, I assert that if we at least try, it is likely that we'd get there eventually.Thus I feel (and hopefully have shown) that this debate is about whether or not the goal of ensuring food security is just.
I could technically argue that there is no such thing as a just government. That for a government to be just is impossible. If I were to make that line of argument, I would say that a government can seek to be just and that a good government only has to be one that attempts at satisfying the conditions to being just. A good government isn't necessarily a just government, but that is neither here nor there.

The Implications of OV

I hesitate to reject a so many of my opponent's contentions with just a single thought made during posthoc musings, but the negation is what it is. Any case CON's whose weight lies in touting the costs of or denying the possibliity of ensuring food security is directly refuted by the OV's conclusion. All I have to do is show that a government's condition of ensuring food security is relevant to its qualifications of being just. How to ensure food security is not my burden to take.
Again, given that the government knows how to provide food security to its citizens without incurring general net losses, a government ought to provide food security for its citizens in order to qualify as just.
Thus PRO's first, second and fourth contention, which are based on impossibility and barriers to ensuring food security, fail. PRO's third contention pertains to a possible cost of ensuring food security. It also fails. Thus the underview of all four contentions is effectively refuted.

Response to the Offcase

PRO's offcase serves a legitimate point of contention with my case. Namely, it notes that securitizing food is inherently bad. PRO supports the statement of the offcase with the potential consequences of specific actions. However, PRO does not show that the actions, such as centralization, are necessarily required in order to ensure food security. Neither neo-colonialist nor competitive motions have been show to be inherently correlated with ensuring food security.
In any case, all three points supporting this offcase depend upon some assumed methodology. The first assumes a competition for scarce resources (the world produces enough food to feed everyone[1] so the resources cited here aren't actually the issue). The second cites a source which asserts and assumes centralization. The third cites a method tried by the chinese. Since the method toward ensuring food security isn't relevant as noted by the OV, all three points fall off the case anyway.

1 -
Debate Round No. 2


Thanks to Beginner for his arguments. I will now be rebutting his case.


P1. The Purpose of Government

Pro writes that "a government exists to serve a purpose. In other words, each governmental state assumes inherent moral duties to those that it governs." But this argument is missing several steps: it fails to explain why the purpose of government is (a) to benefit those it governs, (b) moral in nature, and (c) obligatory vice advisory in nature. I will talk about each one of these points in turn.

Regarding (a), Pro explains justice to be about fairness and moral uprightness. Would not a "just" government then have a duty to help every person, regardless of the status of their citizenship? Surely, all people are equally morally valuable and it would be unfair to only provide goods and services (or to take actions partial towards) citizens. Why should the happenstance of birth mean that I get less healthcare or fewer amenities? After all, I cannot choose where I am born or conceived; it's inherently random. The impact here is one that we need to evaluate in the context of my arguments, since an obligation to provide food security to everyone on planet Earth clearly is not within the scope of a just government's capacity. Even more, one could say that because the resolution uses the term "citizens," Pro is locked into affirming an obligation only towards citizens, at which point, his failure to limit the scope of the government's duties negates.

Regarding (b), Pro simply assumes that if government has a purpose, that purpose is a moral one. Firstly, a hammer's purpose is to beat things, but that does not mean that it is morally obligatory to use a hammer in only that way. Pro never explains how purpose is linked to morality, so Pro has failed to show that the purpose of government conveys any moral obligation of any kind. Secondly, Pro has not illustrated how a government is, itself, the kind of agent upon whom moral obligations can be bestowed. Simply put, Pro hasn't illustrated that the government is a moral actor; this is especially important when there is good reason to believe that governments are in fact amoral: "It literally makes no sense to say that a nation is morally responsible for an action, although it makes perfectly good sense to say that all those persons who contributed to the action’s coming about are morally responsible...[W]hen the nation has a purpose, as expressed, say, in a resolution of a governing body, it is not the nation that is self-aware but the persons who comprise it. And that self-awareness is not of each individual's own purpose, since one's own purposes may be in conflict with those of the nation. Even if they are not in conflict, that is, even if there is 100 percent support for a motion, the awareness of the nation's purpose as expressed in the motion occurs in the individual persons and not in the nation. Unless you can put purpose and self-awareness of purpose in the identical subject, you cannot have a moral agent. And in the case of group action, you can never have the identical subject that both has the purpose and is self-aware of having it. Knowing that my nation has declared war is different from the act of declaring war and occurs in a different subject." [1; for more, see: 2] The impact here is simple: if the purpose of government doesn't translate into a moral obligation, or if the government is an amoral actor, then either Pro has failed to link his arguments to morality and to uphold his burden or governments cannot have moral obligations.

Regarding (c), even if we buy that the purpose of government is limited to citizens and is moral in nature, why is it obligatory vice advisory or desirable? I could say that a hammer's purpose is to beat things, and so it is desirable to use them in that fashion. That claim, operating under the assumptions Pro makes, is coherent. So, again, Pro fails to make the necessary leap to "moral obligation" from his arguments.

P2. Justice

SP1. Meaning of Justice

Whilst I don't having many qualms with Pro's definition of justice, I think it is important to emphasize that in both of our conceptions of justice, we see justice as about fairness and/OR morality. The point here being that it is not nonsensical to imagine a fair but amoral actor, which is just by virtue of its fairness.

SP2. The Government's Moral Duties

Pro's only justification for his interpretation of the purpose of government is the Declaration of Independence. We can acknowledge two problems with this: (a) it's American-specific and (b) there are other interpretations of this.

Regarding (a), this is an issue because Pro hasn't established that America is a just government, which leads to another missing premise. He is trying to show what a just government is by pointing to America, but he has yet to establish that America is a just government, and/or that American ideals are the hallmarks of just governance. Pro is committing a "begging the question" fallacy. [3] Additionally, this is an issue because there are myriad different governmental systems that reflect diverse cultural, political, and social situations. Some of these systems are going to be more prohibitive of government action. Since this resolution is broad, and doesn't refer to any specific country (we could even be talking about a hypothetical just government vice some actual government), Pro needs to give us a reason to narrow the scope of the debate to a more "western" or American outlook.

Regarding (b), many would argue that the rights enshrined in the Declaration of Independence are negative, not positive rights. If that is the case, these ideals would be the basis for a libertarian state, not one that would actively ensure food security. So, Pro's interpretation of the text may be flawed. Positive rights necessarily encroach on our negative rights because they requires us to act or give something up, and negative rights also seem more fundamental in that they are our most basic guarantees of respect--not to be maimed, not to be killed, etc. So, if Pro cannot explain why his interpretation of the text is the best one in the round, we're left at an impasse of interpretations, which would render this argument moot.

Even if we agree that a government's purpose is to the utilitarian interests of its society, there are still significant hurdles for Pro to overcome. However, I will be discussing the pitfalls of the conclusion Pro's draws from this argument when I get to his post-hoc musings.

Pro also contends that "Premise 2 establishes that a government is just if it fulfills its moral duties." But this is false, largely because utilitarianism and justice are not compatible. Suppose that I am due Z, but it would be utilitarian to give persons A-Y item Z instead, even if they are not due Z. In this case, it would be unfair to deprive me of that which I am due Z, but beneficial and in furtherance of a government's purpose, to deny me Z. So, inasmuch as Pro contends that "utilitarian values of Life, Liberty, etc. are the ideals for which governments should strive," Pro is creating a dilemma whereby governments must occasionally act unfairly and unjustly towards some in order to fulfill their moral duties.

Post-Hoc Musings

The crux of Pro's argument here is this: "the affirmative does not need to show how to ensure food security. It only needs to affirm that food security ought to be ensured." However, this line of reasoning encounters several significant problems.

1. Pro argues that a government's purpose is to pursue and promote certain values. This requires that we look not only at the ends, but also at the means. If we say that we want to value life, then it is not enough to look just at the value, because there needs to be a viable means of achieving that value in place. Similarly, if the government's objective is to ensure food security, then it might defund education, national defense, all public works, etc. in order to bankroll the food security goal. Clearly, this is contrary to the very purpose Pro asserts a just government embodies because it sacrifices myriad essential goods in order to deliver on just one essential good. If that is the trade-off that a government is facing, then, just from a practical point of view, it ought not to ensure food security, because it has other duties it has got to perform. The point here is straightforward: if the government wants to maximize or promote certain values, it must consider the practical issues considered with pursuing any one value, because failing to do so risks generating net detrimental harms. Governments have many obligations, and they must be balanced. Therefore, we need to look to the means, and not solely the ends.

2. Suppose that a government could ensure food security by committing mass genocide, thereby shrinking its population to a more manageable size. Pro suggests that he only needs to show that a just government ought to ensure food security, and that he need not show how it ensures food security. So, in Pro's world, this genocide solution could occur, because no thought is given to the "how" only the "what." Surely, it is not morally right, fair, or just to use genocide as a solution to the food security question, and so some thought must be given to formulating a "how" that still respects the ethical values a just government is supposed to embody. If Pro cannot demonstrate that a moral solution to the food security problem exists, then he cannot affirm.

3. Cross-apply my "ought implies can" arguments here. I will defend those arguments in my next speech.


1 - Lloyd P. Gerson. "Aristotle’s Politics Today," 2008 Albany: State University of New York Press
2 -
3 -

Pro's case is severely underdeveloped, riddled with unwarranted assumptions and missing premises. Thus, I negate. Over to Pro...


Thanks bsh.

My opponent elicits several points which I will address.
P1 - THe Purpose of Government


CON: "Would not a "just" government then have a duty to help every person, regardless of the status of their citizenship?"
No. Non-citizens of a government do not fall under the administrative jurisdiction of that government. Those not under the jurisdiction of the government who do not expect to follow the governments rules cannot expect to receive benefits from this same government. I believe a government should do what it can to influence/help what it can. It would be great if the world could merge all its governments into one to help the world's people as a whole, but this simply is not the case that we have in reality.


CON's next point of address against my P1 states that purpose does not necessarily indicate moral obligation. I agree. Purpose does not necessarily indicate moral obligation. Moral obligation doesn't exist everywhere where purpose is concerned, but in the case of a conscious entity (which a hammer is not), purpose does necessarily denote moral obligation. A conscious entity's objective purpose is not to be distinguished from its moral obligations. Such an entity is acting in the right way when it does what it is made to do. Such an entity is acting morally when it does what it is made to do.
CON states that a government is created by groups of constituent conscious entities and that this consciousness doesn't extend to qualifying the consciousness of the government. I assert the contrary. Government's should be considered conscious entities because it is created and run by conscious entities with an active purpose attached to it. When one makes statements expecting a government to do something, the entity that this expectation really extends to is the body of people who run the government. A government is synonymous to the people who run the government. The people, as a conscious body, constitute the administrative body that is the government.


If I've read the initial sentence of this point correctly, CON asks why a government is obligatory or desirable. I do not believe that this is what CON is really asking since showing government to be obligatory isn't what this debate is about. So I'm going to go ahead and assume that the question my opponent is really posing is: "Why is any single tenet obligatory in a moral government?"
In other words, why does any tenet I name necessary in order to qualify a government to being just?
Basically, "why does ensuring food security qualify as a moral duty?" The answer lies in P2SP2. I've clearly established that a government's purpose and moral duties are indistinguishable. Thus any of a government's purpose must be synonymous to a government's duty. P2SP2 asserts that western utilitarian ideal is the preferred moral ideals and that, among these ideals (as per the U.S. Constitution - 'Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness") is that of Life. To this end, food security is a must.

P2 - Justice

SP2. Meaning of Justice

While justice entails both fairness and/or morality as per definitions, in order for my opponent to refute via this point, he has to show that justice only applies to fairness. In the case we have here, a government's inherent moral duties denotes the morality side of the definition. Thus, prefer my interpretation over CON's.

SP2. Government's Moral Duties

I do not need to establish that America is a just government. I only need to show that the ideals toward which this particular government strives is just. Since these values are very utilitarian, my argument in this case basically is a clear case for utilitarian values. In order for my opponent to actually negate, he must negate utilitarian values as distinguished from utilitarian methodology.

Whatever interpretations entail, the passage I cited is very clear cut. It isn't speaking in vague moral language. It isn't using imagery or metaphors. It very clearly states that Man should be guaranteed a set of purposes and that government is made for that purpose. The language isn't abstract. If my opponent cannot show that what I've stated here is false, then this point does not serve a valid negation.

CON: "Pro is creating a dilemma whereby governments must occasionally act unfairly and unjustly towards some in order to fulfill their moral duties."
Again, given that the government knows how to provide food security to its citizens without incurring general net losses, a government ought to provide food security for its citizens in order to qualify as just. The goal is inherently just and is thus something toward which a government should strive for.

Here is the framework within which this debate falls:


Government = G
Just = J
Ensure Food Security = A
Set of conditions necessary for a government to be considered just = S = {A,B,...,Z}


[a] G = J if and only if the set S is true.
[b] If any single element of S is false, then S is false.
[c] if S is false, then G is not J.
[d] If A is false, then S is false.
[e] Therefore if A is false, G is not J.

[a] - a tautology. In order for a government to be considered just, it must satisfy the conditions that are needed for a government to be considered just.
[b] - by definition, S is true only if all elements of S is true. If any single element in S is not true, then S cannot be true.
[c] - necessarily follows from [a].
[d] - necessarily follows from [b]
[e] - if A is false, S is false. If S is false, by [a], G = J is false.

The definition of S is the only point of contention relevantly covered in this debate. CON argues that S is a null set, that a government cannot be just (nor can it be unjust - it is amoral). CON has also been contending whether A is an element of S, which makes sense with CON's basically arguing that S only consists of Ø. I argue the contrary. That S is not Ø and that A is an element of S.

Every other point past this point cannot be negated. Any point outside of the logical framework is irrelevant to this debate. How S is to be fulfilled falls outside of the logical framework. It is thus irrelevant. Since A is an element in S, how A is also irrelevant by extension. All my opponent's musings on hypothetical costs of A (i.e. defunding things, genocide(?), etc.) fall outside the logical framework. They do not affect the logical framework and thus they are irrelevant. Even if A is impossible, as long as it is a valid element within S, the condition of S is perfectly valid.
Eliciting an old example: Even if omnipotence is impossible, it is a valid condition to being God. Thus the set of conditions in order to qualify as God, even if impossible, is valid.
Even if ensuring food security is impossible, such considerations of what is or is not possible is not relevant to the logical framework of this debate. This is why every negative contention my opponent has made does not actually have anything to do with this debate.

I can't hammer htis home any clearer: "[G]iven that the government knows how to provide food security to its citizens without incurring general net losses, a government ought to provide food security for its citizens in order to qualify as just."

Thus, I continue to reject the burden that my opponent is trying to slate onto my back. It is not essential, not even relevant, for me to show a perfect or good way to achieve the goal. Such a method is assumed to exist. I only need to establish value in the goal itself. This I have done.
Debate Round No. 3


Thanks, Beginner. Onto my case!


Pro CONCEDES OV1 and essentially CONCEDES OV2 insofar as he doesn't respond individually to any of the three justifications I provide for why "ought" implies "can." Pro also CONCEDES OV3's interpretation of what it means to ensure food security: "to unconditionally and totally obtain reliable supplies of affordable and nutritious food that is accessible to and sufficient for every single citizen." Extend these points.

The only objection Pro really raises is that because a just government is defined as one that ensures food security, it is tautologically true that such a government ought to ensure food security, regardless of whether or not it "can" do so. It does not matter, from Pro's viewpoint, if the definition imposes unfair or impossible obligations, because the definition is still valid. This leads me to my first objection:

1. Again, Pro really does not individually rebut my three justifications for why "ought" implies "can" (OIC). All Pro really says is that because the definition of a just government includes ensuring food security, only those governments that can meet this obligation are just. Ergo, Pro argues, a just government "ought" to ensure food security. This confuses the kinds of "ought's" we're talking about. To say that something follows from a definition is NOT the same as saying something is a moral obligation. So, saying that it follows from the definition of what a just government is that it would ensure food security does not make the necessary link to morality; it also commits an is/ought fallacy. Pro says, for instance, that the bald man "ought to be" hairless just as the just government "ought to" ensure food security. Where "ought to be/ought to" are, you can put in "is/does." The "is/does" is actually more accurate in Pro's sentences because they describe what Pro sees to be definitional facts. Surely, it would be patently ridiculous to say: "the bald man has a moral obligation to be hairless" instead of "the bald man is hairless." Simply put: just because something is the case, has nothing to do with whether it ought to be the case or whether it is a moral obligation.

2. If the obligation is unfair or impossible, it is invalid--at least in this case. If it is both true that OIC and that just governments cannot ensure food security, then the "ought" of the resolution is false, even if a just government is one that--by definition--provides food security. Note that if something is unfair, it cannot be moral. We can think of any number of examples to support this, from slavery to cheating to bribery, etc. More generally, we can say that morality involves some concept of right and wrong, and that fairness is widely regarded as "right." Therefore, if the obligation is unfair, it invalidates the more nature of it. Therefore, even if Pro shows that a just government tautologically ensures food security, the "ought" in the topic is false.

3. The way Pro sets up his definition of a just government is a false equivalence with the examples he gives. Baldness has a single qualification, a female has a few qualifications, god has the qualifications of omnipotence, omniscience, and (perhaps) omnibenevolence or omnipresence. A just government, on the other hand, if we treat each "ought" as its own qualification, has literally innumerable qualifications--it ought to provide food security, health care, national security, park services, clinics, roads, etc. And, of the examples Pro gives, the only one that requires action on the part of the agent is the one involving just governments. It's just logically impossible to suggest that any government can meet absolutely all of the qualifications a just government would have, because many will work at cross-purposes (e.g. a just government ought to respect privacy vs. a just government ought to ensure national security) or require resources that just aren't there. Pro's conception of a just government then is literally something that is inconceivable--it violates the law of noncontradiction by having attached to it a bunch of competing mandates that it MUST all meet to be just. To paraphrase Pro: "Since a just government is a logical contradiction, I assert that a just government is impossible." Something that cannot exist cannot have moral obligations; for instance, if I don't exist, I cannot be obliged to do anything. Thus, we can negate.

4. Pro DROPS that moral obligations are meaningless if they are highly unreasonable or unattainable. Pro makes a lot of arguments about the "purpose" of things being important--it seems that the purpose of moral obligations is to delineate between actions that are praiseworthy and those that are blameworthy. So, such obligations should actualize their purpose; it is also irrational to have moral obligations that are pointless or don't serve any moral objective. Since ensuring food security is impossible, it cannot be a moral obligation, since that would defeat the purpose of what a moral obligation is. It is another reason why the "ought" in the topic is false.

5. A just government would not--definitionally--recognize or accept unfair obligations. Surely, then, it would reject the resolution because it unfairly requires the impossible, which is unjust. At the very least, we could not logically say that to be a just government, a government must meet unfair or unjust obligations.


Pro writes: "Since the condition of ensuring food security isn't a logical contradiction, I assert that the condition of ensuring food security is possible given that we have an infinite set of possible solutions to choose from." I--unsurprisingly--have several objections. But first, let me for a third time remind everyone what it means to ensure food security: "to unconditionally and totally obtain reliable supplies of affordable and nutritious food that is accessible to and sufficient for every single citizen." Recall that this clarification was DROPPED by Pro. Therefore, "ensuring food security" is more than just maximizing or promoting food security, it is making certain that all citizens, all of the time, everywhere within the country, are food secure. If even one person out of millions in a single month of a year is food insecure, a government has failed to ensure food security for all its citizens that year.

1. That something isn't logically contradictory doesn't mean it is actualizable. Consider, a unicorn is not a logically contradictory concept; therefore, it is "possible" that it exists. Yet, if I searched every spot in the universe, that doesn't mean I would ever find it. Similarly, even if ensuring food security is theoretically possible, that doesn't mean it will ever become actually possible. There is a big difference there.

2. It is impossible to ensure food security. There will ALWAYS be risks to or flaws in the food supply and delivery systems. It's impossible to eliminate all risks, especially when many of those risks are atemporal (i.e. they are timeless), such as agroterror or disease.

3. Pro's line of argument rests on the idea that at some nebulous point in the future, it might be actually possible. It also might never actually be possible. Who knows? Maybe by the time we figure it out (if we ever do), Marx's communist utopia will have come to pass and no governments will exist to have obligations. We just don't know. We should not allow Pro to extend the timeline of this debate out into the ether for several reasons: (1) it's just too much of an unknown and we should operate in more knowable parameters to keep the debate meaningfully debatable and to avoid dubious speculation, (2) conceptions of justice tend to evolve over time, and so we should limit our discussion to a more current timeline in order to keep our discussions of justice pertinent, and (3) a shorter timeline will make the impacts of our arguments more clear (as time goes on, it does become harder to weigh, evaluate probability, see the links, etc).

4. Ultimately, the core of my arguments in the OIC revolve around fairness, so even if you buy that it is or will be "possible" to ensure food security, that doesn't devastate my case, because the obligation is still incredibly unfair, and so it still incurs the same impacts and the same arguments are still valid. It may be "possible" for me--and asthmatic, unathletic guy who has had back surgery in the past--to climb Mt. Everest and return alive, but it would still certainly be unfair to obligate me to do so. We can conceive of other "possible" but unfair obligations too, the point being that unfair but possible obligations are still unjust, immoral, and meaningless. Ensuring food security is still an unfair obligation because we would literally have to explore infinity in order to be able to even hope to solve it, and that is analogous to me climbing Everest, if not worse.

5. Otherwise, Pro DROPS all the specific arguments I make about the impossibility of ensuring food security. Extend them.


1. Centralization is inherent to food security in the sense that it places "food" under more government control or supervision. It's not the private sector ensuring food security, it's government. The government is the actor. Pro DROPS that this centralization would be bad if it occurs.

2. World grain production has actually shown signs of diminished growth since 1980, and is below projections that factor in new technologies. [1] In a rapidly growing world, this is concerning because food may not keep up with population. We you factor in rapid biodiversity loss and climate change, this problem is only amplified. So, the scarce resources argument stands.


Since this will be Pro's final speech, he cannot rebut any arguments he dropped or conceded this or last round (per rule 3), whether I explicitly extend them or not.


Thus, I negate. Over to Pro...


Note: Whether I explicitly contend any specific points or not, if any case I've established beforehand speaks contrary to a case, its validity makes it plausible as a point of refutation.
Let me once again refer back to the logical framework. In order to qualify as something, an item/idea must satisfy the set of conditions toward this qualification. Any member of this set can be possible/impossible. It doesn't matter. What matters is that the condition is relevant. That means that the condition can be impossible. Again, I'm not saying that it is, merely that it can be. And since the possibility of a condition (the "can" or "how-to" of a condition) is not relevant, as long as the logical framework holds true, CON's cases which touch on the realms of possibility and costs (consequences) are effectively devastated.
Possibility: again, since impossible conditions (i.e. omnipotence) are entirely feasible to its correlating qualification (i.e. Godhood), the belief that any impossible condition nullifies qualification must be false. Thus possibility isn't a relevant factor.
Consequences: Allow me to explain the impact of my not having the burden to delivering the 'how-to' for ensuring food security. Consequences only appear if when we consider specific methods of implementation. However, there are an infinite number of possible methods, so no single consequence other than the one specified by the condition itself (food security ensured) can be necessarily attributed to the condition (ensuring food security). Any number of consequences not necessarily attributed to ensuring food security does not qualify as a relevant consequence. Ensuring food security and its consequences other than the one necessarily attached to it are mutually exclusive!
Even if a condition is impossible, it's feasability is unaffected by its impossibility. Impossibility and relevancy in this case are mutually exclusive. Even if specific methods toward ensuring food security might yield specific consequences, these consequences aren't necessarily tied to ensuring food security
This is a direct contradiction to CON's "ought implies can" argument. Even if I haven't directly address the points under the "ought implies can" argument, I've effectively refuted it via my counter-case. I'll leave it to the judges to gauge the effectiveness of my countercase.

My opponent says that I commit the is/ought fallacy. I do not.
Here is the statement I'm endorsing that is being questioned in is/ought form: ' A government is just so it ought to ensure food security to its citizens. '
The is/ought fallacy is, in short, when a moral obligation is made based on what is factually true. It is the fallacy of making a normative statement out of non-normative, amoral facts. However, o say that a government is just is, in itself, a normative statement. It is not a factual statement. Thus, the is/ought fallacy cannot possibly apply.
The ought statement in this case necessarily implies qualification. It doesn't call for action. Even if a condition is already satisfied, it still qualifies as a condition. Even if God is already presumed to be omnipotent, omnipotence is still a necessary condition to being God.
When we consider God, it is abundantly clear that God ought to be omnipotent. God should be omnipotent or He simply isn't God.
The logical framework of this debate dictates that this is a case of condition and qualification and that the 'ought' in this case is used as a qualifier.


CON's Case
Attainability simply is not relevant. The moral burden of the government may be huge, but it is what it is. This is an indirect refutation to my opponent's claims on the fairness of impossible moral obligations. Its irrelevancy alone completely negates its application in this case. None of my opponent's contentions hold since they fall outside the frame of this debate as per Post-hoc Musings.

My Case
My case is simple.
1. A government exists for a purpose.
This is dropped. CON argues that purpose does not necessarily imply justness and uses the purpose of a hammer as an example, but he doesn't contend the statement itself.

2. A government's purpose is to basically to ensure the peaceful livelihood of its people in the form of "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" or utilitarian values.
This value is dropped.

3. Ensuring food security is necessary to the condition of Life.
This is essentially dropped. CON goes on to basically argue that the consequences of ensuring food security is unjust, but these consequences aren't necessarily true or relevant to food security itself.

4. A government which fulfills its purpose is just.
CON argues that purpose does not imply justness. His hammer argument falls short since the hammer isn't conscious. He drops his hammer argument and thus this line of reasoning.. thus this is essentially conceded as per the most recent round.

5. Thus a government which ensures food security of its citizens is just.
CON argues against the arbitrary distinction to citizens, but drops this line of inquiry. While it's true that I've been operating under the assumption that ensuring food security to its citizens means to ensure it to all citizens, I've shown that even if this were impossible, as seems to be the impact of this part of my opponent's point, it is still a plausible condition to hold for the "just" qualification.

Thus I affirm.
I admit that this debate has beena bit lackluster. This is thanks, in large part, to my not partitioning as much time as I probably should have for a debate of this calibre. It's very obvious that bsh did a lot more research on his case than I did on mine. I thank him for his efforts:
Thank you bsh for a wonderful debate.
I'd also like to extend all the thanks made in the introductory rounds.
I know it was tough and probably very boring (particularly my side), but really.. thanks for reading peeps! :)
Debate Round No. 4


Thanks, Beginner, for a great debate!


P1. The Purpose of Government

(a) I asked, "Would not a 'just' government then have a duty to help every person, regardless of the status of their citizenship?" Pro says that a government doesn't have obligations to non-citizens because they are not expected to follow the government's rule, and so cannot expect benefits. But, this doesn't answer the question I posed regarding why the happenstance of birth should allow some people to get benefits while others don't. If I had been born in Brunei instead of the U.S., I would've gotten a much smaller array of benefits just because I was unlucky enough to be born there. If a just society is truly concerned about fairness and moral uprightness, then why would it not reject the very justification Pro gives for partiality towards its own citizens and instead set out to help all people so that they don't suffer arbitrarily? Pro really doesn't give much analysis here. Pro never actually disagrees that it is unfair to have a system where some people benefit based totally on the luck of birth. Pro DROPS that "because the resolution uses the term 'citizens' Pro is locked into affirming an obligation only towards citizens;" therefore, if you buy my argument that just governments have moral obligations towards everyone and not just citizens, than the resolution is negated.

(b)(1) Pro asserts that purpose does not always indicate moral obligation, it only does so for conscious entities. I have two objections. First, Pro does very little to warrant why a conscious entity's purpose connotes moral obligation. He says that "[a] conscious entity's objective purpose is not to be distinguished from its moral obligations," but he never explains why. If a person does what he or she is made to do, sure, they are acting in accordance with their purpose, but why is that moral? Why not simply practical or desirable? Secondly, let's take an unconscious entity: a saw. The purpose of a saw is to cut things. Now, let's suppose a human, a conscious entity, is asked to use a saw. Would the human be immoral if they used the saw as a musical instrument? Pro says that this wouldn't be immoral, since it is only immoral when a conscious entity violates their own purpose. He writes: "Such an entity is acting in the right way when it does what it is made to do." Suppose, however, we applied this logic to the saw example. The human is acting in the "right" way when he uses a saw for what is what made to do (to cut), and in the "wrong" way when he uses it as a musical instrument. It seems that the same reason Pro applies holds up in this example. The point being that Pro's logic would make clearly moral actions, actions that Pro even suggests are okay, immoral. So, Pro's argument here is just absurd.

(b)(2) Pro writes: "Government's should be considered conscious entities because it is created and run by conscious entities with an active purpose attached to it...A government is synonymous to the people who run the government." I have several responses. First: Pro's argument seems to treat government as only the people that make decisions, but, based on the agreed definition in round 1, it is also: "the organization, machinery, or agency through which a political unit exercises authority and performs functions." The rules, regulations, departments, and agencies themselves cannot have awareness, even if the people that use them can. For instance, one would never say that the hammer is aware, but the human that uses it is. Since "government" is both machinery and people, it cannot be fully conscious because a large chunk of it lacks any awareness. In the sense that we wouldn't hold an animal morally responsible for biting someone, we cannot hold only a partially conscious entity to moral standards. The distinction here is that the awareness is vested in the people that run the government, not in the government itself. Second: Pro's arguments are NON-RESPONSIVE to the following: "Unless you can put purpose and self-awareness of purpose in the identical subject, you cannot have a moral agent. And in the case of group action, you can never have the identical subject that both has the purpose and is self-aware of having it." So, the government is also made up of bureaucrats. They may be self-aware, but they do not act. So, even if we were able to say, "the legislature" or "the leaders of government" are moral actors, the government as a whole is not, because only a small subset of it has both purpose and self-awareness. Thirdly, even if the government is defined as a body of persons who make decisions, that body of persons is going to disagree about many, if not most, decisions, and even if there is agreement that agreement is going to be reached for reasons unique to each group member. Since the decision is that of the groups, but not everyone is aware of all the thought processes each member took to get to that conclusion, the group is not self-aware in the same sense than an individual, moral agent is.

(c) My question here was whether "purpose" was necessarily synonymous with "obligation," rather than something like "practical" or "desirable." Pro still hasn't really answered this question. Even if an agent acts in the "right" way by acting in harmony with its purpose, why is this "rightness" obligatory instead of simply desirable? Pro never gives a clear answer.

P2. Justice

SP1. Meaning of Justice

Pro gives two definitions of justice in round one: "One definition pertains in particular to fairness while the other pertains to moral uprightness." My definition, which was DROPPED by Pro, reads: "[t]he quality of being just...or fair." The key here is that in both cases, the idea of justice is framed as moral uprightness and/OR fairness, and that there are two distinct ways to perceive it. Moreover, the fact that we are considering moral obligations doesn't seem to rule out the fairness side of the definition, since it's not incoherent to ask what a "fair government's" moral duties are. But, regardless, this point isn't that important in the debate.

SP2. Government's Moral Duties

(a) Pro's ONLY justification for the values he describes is the Declaration and his unwarranted claim that: "it provides a set of generally accepted values." Pro may talk about how is case is founded on utilitarian (or "western") values, but he NEVER lays the groundwork to justify those values at any point during the debate. This is an ipse dixit/begging the question fallacy and an appeal to authority fallacy. As I said last round: "this is an issue because there are myriad different governmental systems that reflect diverse cultural, political, and social situations. Some of these systems are going to be more prohibitive of government action. Since this resolution is broad, and doesn't refer to any specific country (we could even be talking about a hypothetical just government vice some actual government), Pro needs to give us a reason to narrow the scope of the debate to a more 'western' or American outlook." Pro NEVER gives us a reason to believe tin his concept of a just government or his utilitarian values.

(b) Pro says that the Declaration "clearly states that Man should be guaranteed a set of purposes and that government is made for that purpose." It does say that man is guaranteed a set of right, but there is certainly ambiguity as to whether these rights are positive or negative. The Declaration read: "they are endowed...with certain unalienable Rights...Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." These rights could easily be negative rights, i.e., a right to not be killed, a right to not have one's liberty violated, and a right to have have one's pursuit of happiness violated. Food security is a positive right, in that it requires rather than prohibits action. If the document justifies only negative rights, then there is no obligation to ensure food security, as government's only job would be to stop people actively harming others (e.g. murder), and not to ensure that people were not being harmed by their own actions and situations. Since Pro has failed to explain why the Declaration's rights are necessarily positive rights (he gives zero analysis here), then the negative interpretation is equally plausible. This forces us to make the Declaration a moot point, which leaves Pro with absolutely no justification at all for his utilitarian values, not even an appeal to authority fallacy.

Re: the Post-hoc musings, cross-apply my early OIC-related stuff here.


I only need to win one of these points to successfully negate.

1. OIC

(1) Pro uses an is/ought fallacy (he uses definitional truths/facts to draw normative conclusions, and his examples, e.g. the bald man, make no sense--e.g. "the bald man has a moral obligation to be hairless"). (2) Unfair moral obligations are necessarily invalid, as the unfairness negates the morality of the obligation. (3) Moral obligations must be fairly attainable to have meaning. (4) A just government wouldn't recognize unfair obligations. (5) Food security is impossible. (6) Food security is an unfair obligation, so even if it's possible, my impacts stand.

2. Invalid Values

Pro never explains why his utilitarian/western values are justified, except to appeal to the authority of the Declaration and to beg the question.

3. Securitization

Extend resource conflict and centralization, which validate my off-case.

4. Altruism

A just government wouldn't just help it's own citizens, it has obligations to all people.

5. Purpose =/= Moral Obligation

(1) Pro never explains why acting for a purpose is obligatory, and not just desirable. (2) using his reasoning we can arrive at absurd conclusions (the saw example).

6. An Amoral Government

Government is not (fully) conscious, so it is amoral. Ergo, it cannot have moral obligations.

Thanks again to Beginner, Zaradi, and anyone who read the debate. Please VOTE CON!
Debate Round No. 5
60 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by bsh1 2 years ago
And this still needs more votes.
Posted by bsh1 2 years ago
Thanks for the votes guys!
Posted by whiteflame 2 years ago
RFD (Pt. 1):

I loves me a good burdens debate, though burdens did become the main focus of this debate as it went on. Perhaps that was mainly the result of a Con case aimed at expanding the burdens Pro believed he had, but it did turn the debate into a direction I was not expecting from the outset. That's fine, and I think what became of it was very interesting, though by the end of the debate, I'd say the victor is pretty clear.

The main reason for that clarity is seen in what each debater does in their concluding rounds.

Pro spends his time focused mainly on defending his case against Con's burdens analysis. He presents his case once again, breaking it down into the five key pieces that compose it. Pro points out a few drops, but their importance to the debate as a whole remains somewhat mysterious. This is a very defensive finish, one without much punch to it and really skirting over many of the major points Con made over the course of the debate. In fact, as I read through this, it seemed to become clear just how much Pro had to prove in order to win this debate, which may have actually hurt him going into Con's final.
Posted by whiteflame 2 years ago
(Pt. 2)

Con spends a great deal of time pointing to drops and explaining their importance in the larger debate. There's a lot of time spent on rebuttal, with the chief focus being on offense and knocking out important points from Pro rather than mitigating them, and it's made clear how any victories scored by Con manage to inflict damage on Pro's case. Whereas a lot of these arguments were unclear in that link throughout much of the debate, those links are specified. The voting issues are laid out in some detail (though I think these could have used some beefing up and been better separated), and what becomes clear is that Con has multiple ways to win this. He doesn't need to win any single argument to come out on top, nor does his logic have to be perfect to showcase a reason to negate. He just has to show flaws in Pro's logic to succeed, and since I now have a stepwise diagram of what Pro has to win, it becomes relatively easy to see how these problems apply.

I could pick Con up on several of these. The OIC point is strong enough, especially with regards to unfair obligations. If there is no means to achieve food security fairly, then that showcases a reason why a nation ought not ensure it. I'm not really buying the response that it doesn't matter how it's done (mainly because I think Con's explanation on the is/ought fallacy is stronger than Pro's defense), but even if I'm buying it, I still have to know that SOME means of accomplishing food security is fair. Con gives me a tremendous amount of material on why fairness is the standard by which we should establish what is just, and other contributing factors just pale in comparison by the end of the debate. So long as I don't see any possible route that's fair to obtain food security, I buy that we ought not do it.
Posted by whiteflame 2 years ago
(Pt. 3)

I fall just shy of picking Con up on the invalid value point, mainly because the western values responses don't fully shut down Pro's case, and there wasn't enough material on utilitarianism to squelch that. It does harm, but not enough by itself.

I could also have picked him up on securitization. All of the argumentation with regards to resource conflict and centralization just gets a blanket "not a part of my case" from Pro without any real response. I'm not sure in what world these two don't come into play. They seem inherent to any means of making food security possible.

I'd vote on altruism as well. Con really set Pro up here nicely by explaining why being just requires that a government provide said security for all people and not just its own citizens. The response that the duties of government don't encompass those who aren't citizens is really irrelevant to the point Con was making, and so while I didn't initially find this point persuasive, it grew on me.

The purpose =/= moral obligation point stands well, but it's really more support for some of the points under the OIC voter, not enough to win by itself.

I do like the amoral government voter as well, though in that case, I would at least be uncertain. I buy that a government can be characterized as amoral based on its amorphous nature, but I needed more analysis on why the human elements inherent to it can't ascribe it moral obligations. I understand that it can't, as a whole, take on those obligations itself, but to have them applied to it seems plausible.

In any case, I'm voting based on at least 3 out of the 6 voters from Con, giving him the win.
Posted by Nuzlocke4 2 years ago
I meant con. Dammit.
Posted by Nuzlocke4 2 years ago
Already agreeing with pro. To bad I cannot vote.
Posted by bsh1 2 years ago
Hopefully this gets some more votes.
Posted by tejretics 2 years ago
No problem.
Posted by bsh1 2 years ago
This deserves to be above Vi_Spex's debate.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by whiteflame 2 years ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: Given in comments.
Vote Placed by tejretics 2 years ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.