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RFD for gun ban debate

tejretics
Posts: 6,080
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4/9/2016 6:45:11 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
This is my RFD for the following debate: http://www.debate.org...

This vote is from the Voter Union. Contact DK, TUF or me for details on joining, though we reserve the right to veto applications based on vote quality and/or frequency. If you have a debate that needs a vote, insofar as it isn't a full forfeit or a troll debate or something similar, you can submit it to any of the three of us and we will probably get you a vote and an RFD cast meeting certain Voter Union standards.

The first and major framework-related issue in this debate is moral realism. The debate essentially hinges on the back-and-forth with regards to the value premise, i.e. morality. I didn't like that the debate turned into a debate on moral realism, and Con's kritik with regards to that is -- more than anything else -- annoying. Con doesn't clearly articulate the challenge of moral realism, and works the K as a part of a rebuttal without properly outlining the offense. The resolution itself implies a debate of ethics, but if both sides had conceded a utilitarian standard, the debate would be much easier to judge. Con doesn't explain how the kritik advances their burden. It merely acts as a challenge to Pro's framework. But there's a problem with such a rebuttal-oriented kritik. The argument is a "pre-fiat" one, so it negates any possible argument run by either side. The debate is a debate of ethics, due to the word "ought." If Con doesn't accept moral realism, they don't have a standard by which to judge the debate, which essentially negates the entirety of Con's R1 case. Regardless, I can treat the R1 arguments as an "even if" case and focus on the kritik as Con's primary offense. It's unclear as to whether it is Pro's burden to show moral realism, because Con's case also relies on moral realism. The resolution is one that seeks a certain normative goal in society, so the burden of proof is shared. If both sides have shared burdens of proof, both sides need to justify assumptions within their case.

The kritik advances the burden only if Con is able to properly justify rebuttal to the premises of Pro's argument. While the burden is on Pro to prove his argument, the point of objection - premise 4 - is usually taken as a default. There's always non-zero probability of something existing because of the number of possibilities, so it is Con's burden to negate that. So the fundamental framework-issue in this debate: does Con negate moral realism? Con fails to do that. Pro advances the argument that moral realism has to be presumed true because it's better to affirm under moral realism than to negate it and perform what could possibly be an immoral action. I don't find Con's responses to that compelling at all. Con's first argument is the distinction between "is" and "ought," but that doesn't even function as a proper rebuttal since it is essentially a summary of the whole debate surrounding moral realism. As Pro explains, moral realism is the worldview where some moral "ought" claims *are* facts, i.e. "is" claims. Just because some people *think* there's a distinction between "ought" claims from "is" claims doesn't mean such a distinction necessarily exists, and Pro's whole argument is with regards to preferring treating "ought" claims as moral facts. Con's whole response is essentially repeating the idea behind moral realism and asserting that it's false, except in a different manner. Con fails the burden of explaining *why* such a distinction is required outside of quoting some figures whom I don't know whether to trust.

Con's only objection to Pro's argument from uncertainty (called "the probabilistic reasons principle") is the idea that there's a non-zero probability that moral realism is true. But Con doesn't properly justify this objection. As mentioned above, non-zero probabilities are the default position. Con doesn't offer a compelling *objection* to moral realism so this premise stands. As such, I can conclude that the value is morality. The judge paradigm, therefore, is to analyze which side upholds this value better. So which side upholds this burden better? For this, I have to analyze the arguments and clash, and weigh which side has stronger offense remaining.

Pro's case rests on the plan which involves the gradual transition into a ban on private possession of firearms in the United States. Pro has two pieces of offense to warrant such a ban: (a) there are a lot of gun-related deaths in the US and the plan would reduce the number of deaths as a result, and (b) the number of gun-related accidents is also huge. Pro links these arguments to the value of a right to life. He argues that the right to life and number of lives lost is the primary statistic that has to be factored in as a proper impact. Con's arguments are: (a) guns are required for the protection of people from dangerous wild animals, (b) it would cause severe harms on a large business and, therefore, to the economy, and (c) the plan can't properly be implemented because there's no way for the guns to be confiscated properly. Con drops the argument in favor of an individualistic framework, instead focusing on the kritik of moral realism, so I presume Pro with regards to morality. With this, I've found an appropriate judge paradigm for the debate: whichever side has the stronger impacts with regards to number of lives saved.

Let's move to the clash surrounding the arguments made in this debate. Con argues first, so let's see if Con's case stands properly. I buy that Con's economic argument is irrelevant to the debate because under the individualistic framework *conceded* by Con -- which I think Con should have contested with some sort of utilitarianism, at the very least -- lives lost outweighs anything. Even one life outweighs the whole gun business unless the impact is serious poverty from unemployment causing deaths, which isn't an impact advanced by Con. I find the framework absolutely ridiculous, but it is both warranted and dropped, so it's a huge blow to Con. I don't find Pro's response to the "wild animals" impact compelling either, but Pro essentially argues that hunting is a business -- not something entirely private -- so they can keep their guns. I'm unclear on how hunters don't "privately" possess firearms and this objection seems entirely semantic, but it isn't under-explained enough to warrant me not weighing it at all, because Con *drops* this too. Confiscation is Con's sole impact, arguing from an "ought implies can" perspective. I agree with the perspective because Pro ran a plan, but the argument doesn't hold because both sides agree that the UK successfully implemented a gun ban -- so confiscation is possible. Con doesn't provide evidence that confiscation or buyback isn't possible in the US, and Pro argues that the confiscation takes place over a long time period. None of Con's offense stands. Con's final argument isn't fully refuted -- only a mitigation is provided -- but I don't think that's enough against stronger impacts because confiscation of a *large* amount of guns is sufficient to prevent deaths. The one argument about the Second Amendment presented in Round 3 is irrelevant because it doesn't advance Con's burden of proving that guns *should not* be banned (i.e. the Second Amendment shouldn't be repealed).
"Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe." - Frederick Douglass
tejretics
Posts: 6,080
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4/9/2016 6:45:19 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
The final decisive point with regards to this debate is Pro's case. Con drops Pro's second argument -- on accidents -- which is enough to grant a Pro win. The impact is around 600 deaths per year in gun-related shootings, out of between 15000 and 19000 shootings. That's a pretty large impact, and one I can buy sufficiently to vote Con down. I'm punishing Con for his drop of Pro's argument with regards to accidental shootings. Pro's next argument is gun-related *intentional* deaths and crime. The impact is, from his graph, 3189 intentional gun-related deaths per year. The impact isn't actually outlined by Pro (who says 3.2 deaths on average per 100,000 people annually, so I had to do the calculation). As feedback, don't make your judges do anything. A good debater gives the judge as little effort as possible. It's poor debating to make your judge perform calculations like that. But that doesn't mean I'm not weighing the impact, because all Con does is call it a pretty small impact compared to others -- but Pro has proven to me that every life is important, and under the individualism framework Pro is winning. The final objection to Pro's case is the clarity of the plan, but Pro essentially posits a plan of mass-confiscations over a period of a few years. I agree that the plan is unclear but I'm buying the possibility of implementing this plan, so I don't fully agree with Con's objection. I don't like Pro's articulation of the "mass shootings" impact, because the numbers are pretty low: what is bad about mass shootings is the sheer *panic* caused by them to society. Of course, though, that fits more with a utilitarian analysis than an individualistic framework.

I also understand Con's frustration with regards to the obscure philosophy. The problem is the word "ought" which implies moral obligation. So the debate is fundamentally an *ethics* debate not a *pragmatic* one. I think Pro exploited that to gain a victory.

I have very little offense from Con left and a lot from Pro. Thus, I vote Pro.
"Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe." - Frederick Douglass
autocorrect
Posts: 432
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4/9/2016 9:22:03 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
Thank you for your feedback. It's interesting to discover how such a perverse decision was justified. My unfamiliarity with the format cost me - and famousdebater exploited that more than anything. I was flying blind throughout, and rather than being led by good example - it was like being followed by a bully hurling rocks. Next time it will be different. Thanks again.
autocorrect.