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RFD: Assisted Suicide (TUF v. Lannan)

YYW
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12/5/2015 8:34:14 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
I. Debate:

http://www.debate.org...

II. Procedural Stuff:

(a) USFG? Wtf. No.

The resolution is the US Federal Government should legalize euthanasia. This resolution is poorly phrased, because it invokes a federalism issue (read: the difference between federal authority and state authority) which is a legal issue and not a moral issue, or at least not directly a moral issue, as this debate clearly endeavors to discuss, given the context in which the debate takes place. The federalism issue is unavoidable in interpreting the plain language of this debate, and it's the one that most prominently disfavors PRO at the expense of CON, because this at once intrudes on state common law, and the constitutionally recognized distinction between federal legislative power and state police power (the authority to regulate the health, safety, and morality of its people).

Because the federalism issue is so manifestly against PRO's interests, and because surely neither debater is in any kind of a reasonable position to discuss the federalism issue (as neither are lawyers are law students), I will relegate consideration of the federalism issue beyond the periphery of what the burdens in this debate will be. I *loathe* to do this, because it goes against the entire value structure of debates; debaters assent to debating a specific resolution with specific terms, and ignoring an entire clause in the resolution is under almost all circumstances an outrightly inapropriate thing to do, there are supervening policy reasons why, in this specifically limited circumstance, consideration of the federalism issue is something that must be laid aside, which I have already outlined above. The result will be in the interest of fairness, which is to say, to balance the respective burdens that each debater has, with respect to what they are obliged to persuade me of, in order to win this debate.

(b) The Burdens of Persuasion

In that this is a normative debate, which it obviously is, based on use of the word "should" in the context which it is used, the burdens are equal. Anyone who disagrees with this is wrong, and must be confused with respect to what debates *do*. The value of fairness to both debaters, compelling as it is, alone is enough for any person to understand WHY the burdens are equal, but some people are stupid so I guess they don't know. Fairness matters more than misguided notions of "the status quo" being self justifying. It is not, and to say otherwise is to impute bias at the expense of one debater to the benefit of another. Any judge who does this should be castigated, both for their incompetence, and for their perverse misunderstanding of what a judges's role is.

(c) Disclosures:

I oscillate, on a personal level, as to what my views on this particular subject are. This debate raises many competing values, and consideration of those values, and hierarchally prioritizing them presents many challenges. I surely do not have an answer. Perhaps either of these debaters might. I say that to say this: I am not biased, as to the topic.

Likewise, I am not biased as to the debaters. This is reflected principally in constructing the burden of proof, as I have, in this instance, and preserving PRO from virtually certain failure, otherwise. Excluding the federalism issue is done for the sole reason of equalizing the burdens, which, again, I loathe to do, but when resolutions are written in ways that their plan language interpretation would lead to a result that defies the purpose and function, as this resolution surely would otherwise, has the salutary effect of negating imputed bias. Second, I have no personal favor or aversion to either of the debaters, relative to the other. Both are good site members in good standing, in both the site and with me, equally so.

Analysis of arguments to follow in another post, due to my suspicion that I will require additional character space.
Tsar of DDO
YYW
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12/5/2015 9:13:16 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
III. Arguments

(a) PRO

PRO distinguishes between voluntary and involuntary euthanasia, (hereinafter "VE" and "IvE" respectively). IvE, being murder, PRO indicates will not fall within the periphery of his advocacy. PRO's arguments are these: (1) terminal people need to die quickly so they don't waste (family or society) resources; (2) dying quickly is the benevolent thing to do because it spares people from unnecessary misery; (3) legislation can thwart VE's improper implementation; (4) legalized VE is already going on (a point I'm dubious about).

(b) CON

CON's arguments are these: (1) the risks of IvE are unavoidable, as is evidenced by Belgium; (2) arguments from efficiency improperly misconstrue medicine's purpose, which invites a parade of horribles; (3) (I'm not really sure what CON's point was here, but I think he was trying to say that euthanasia intrudes on individual rights, at both the expense of that individual and society generally).

IV. Clash

Clash exists primarily in two areas: (1) the goals of medicine: efficiency or humanity (see PRO's 1, and 2; CON's 2 and, indirectly, 3); (2) benefits and harms: as measured by risks of abuse relative to benefits of implementation (see PRO's 1, 2, and 3; CON's 1, 2, 3).

PRO doesn't really meaningfully respond to the Belgium example; I needed to know what safeguards the US is going to have in place to prevent what's going on in Belgium from happening in the United States, because that was CON's point in introducing it. PRO just tells me that Belgium is not the United States therefore... PRO wins? Hardly. PRO just said that there *are* such mechanisms to prevent a Belgium-like outcome in the US, he didn't explain WHY those mechanisms are going to distinguish the US from Belgium. No points to PRO's credit for this.

PRO later tried to draw a distinction between VE and IVE, and say that, principally, as a way to rebut CON's second point, that what CON is talking about is IVE. Again, this really is not responsive. Granted, CON's argument wasn't very clearly articulated, but the point was that bad things happen when we change how medicine works at present, and reformulate our goals based on efficiency first rather than the preservation of life first. However, PRO's later responses really just brought this to a tie.

PRO's response to CON's third point similarly left me in want of a lot; just as CON's articulation of it was really unclear. I can't reasonably say that either debater was more or less persuasive here. CON's third point is pretty much a non-starter.

CON's responses to PRO's first point just doesn't really do a whole lot. I don't care about the distinction between PAS and VE; morally they're congruent, but this debate is about VE not PAS. However, because the moral principles implicated in both are congruent, it has some impact, but not a lot. All in all there was much left to be desired from this point.

CON thereafter adds that "The laws against Euthanasia are proper regulations to ensure and protect against abuse." which, when read together with his previous arguments, is reasonably compelling, but he really needed here to explain more about his Belgium example. Rather than wasting character space with some odious block quote, that space should have been used to explain why the government can not protect against abuses. He didn't do that... he just offered a conclusory statement (read: a claim without a warrant or an impact).

However, CON tried to get more specific in terms of how regulation just isn't going to cut it in his third rebuttal. The problem is that most of this was non-responsive. Again, elaborating with specificity on how Belgium is just going to be what legalizing VE turns into is what he should have done, but didn't do.

What CON's response should have been about PRO's argument that VE is already happening is: "So what? You didn't have an impact... and that doesn't advance your BOP." But, he just said some words that were pretty much, like previously, were more or less non-responsive. (As an aside, I hate language like "cross-apply my arguments from the last round." It's not something that good or excellent debaters do. Good or excellent debaters take the time to discreetly analyze unique contentions, which is what CON should have done, but failed to do.)

V. Outcome:

Conspicuously absent from this debate was the most obvious point that should have been there: discussion of whether it's morally acceptable to kill other people because it's more convenient for those to remain to be alive, or because it's 'what's best' for the already dying, beyond discussion of those issues impact on material resources. Both of you kind of danced around the issue, but neither of you addressed it head on, and that disappointed me. I assume that both of you were really made uncomfortable by considering the issue, which is reasonable, but when you take a topic as heavy as this, you don't dance around the elephant in the room... or at least you shouldn't, and that's exactly what both of you did. There's a worthwhile discussion to be had there, on both sides, and you both should have made a better effort to have it.

The only meaningful thing I take away from PRO's argument is that when people die quickly, it's good for everyone (both the living and the soon to perish). The only meaningful thing I can take away from CON's argument is that the line between VE and IVE is a thin one and the potential for abuse is too great. I can't reasonably find a way to give one person the win and the other the loss. Neither debater more or less successfully met their burdens of persuasion, and neither of them gave me any substantive way to vote for their case and not their opponents.

This is the first tie I've given in a long time. I almost never give ties. But this is a tie, because there is no meaningful way to say in this instance who won and who lost.
Tsar of DDO
YYW
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12/5/2015 9:35:22 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
VI. Reflections

I am confident that bad judges are going to invent reasons to give a particular debater the win; my guess is that most will vote for TUF, some might vote for Lannan, neither will do so on any reasonable basis.

What will happen is what always happens when dumb judges vote on debates: they lose sight of the resolution, and then basically just "feel like" they've been "persuaded" by something and then use suspicious language like "blah blah blah, I'm buying PRO's argument that blah blah blah" or "blah blah blah, I'm not buying PRO's argument, blah blah blah."

Like, as a rule, whenever I see the phrase "I'm buying [debater's] argument that [blah blah blah]" I am just automatically suspicious of that debater's competence, because they almost never give any reason AT ALL (much less a correct one) for why one argument is superior over another.

The reason this happens is because judges like that get caught in their subjective agreements or disagreements with the premises, rather than the objectively evaluated persuasive force of those same arguments.

It's about substance, but only insofar as one person did a better job of making their point, and that is *always* an objective evaluation (contingent upon the issue of whether the debater adequately supported their claim), not a subjective one (which would be contingent upon a judge's being subjectively persuaded).

While I don't think that's too hard a concept to grasp, I see judges screw it up all the time. Like, pitifully screw it up... and then the get all sanctimonious about how "all judging is subjective" or whatever... which is just stupid. If all judging is subjective, then there would be no point in debating anything because the sole criterion for when a debater won or lost would be the debater's argument's congruence with the particular judge's subjective values and ideas. And in that instance, a win or loss would be more contingent upon the judge (and getting lucky with the right judge) than anything else... so, the debate's outcome would therefore have nothing to do with a debater's performance relative to another, beyond the extent to which one debater's performance was more or less "alike" with what the judge wanted to hear... which is just manifestly idiotic.

But we'll see. I expect that many bad judges are going to produce, as they always do, bad RFD's cast for arbitrary reasons, and most likely everything I've said here will just go wildly over their heads.
Tsar of DDO
TUF
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12/5/2015 10:55:59 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Thankyou for clearly taking the time to read the debate. The criticisms will not go in one ear and out the next, I promise you. I rather enjoyed your thoughts on the debate despite the fact that they were more geared to the negatives of both debaters.
"I've got to go and grab a shirt" ~ Airmax1227
YYW
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12/5/2015 11:31:41 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/5/2015 10:55:59 PM, TUF wrote:
Thankyou for clearly taking the time to read the debate. The criticisms will not go in one ear and out the next, I promise you. I rather enjoyed your thoughts on the debate despite the fact that they were more geared to the negatives of both debaters.

My goal is to be fair in all respects, as a judge, because to do otherwise would be wrong. That said, please do not be discouraged--either of you. The goal is improvement, not simply criticism. Ideally, this RFD will serve as a starting point for that.
Tsar of DDO
FourTrouble
Posts: 12,777
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12/7/2015 12:06:39 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/5/2015 8:34:14 PM, YYW wrote:
(a) USFG? Wtf. No.

The resolution is the US Federal Government should legalize euthanasia. This resolution is poorly phrased, because it invokes a federalism issue (read: the difference between federal authority and state authority) which is a legal issue and not a moral issue, or at least not directly a moral issue, as this debate clearly endeavors to discuss, given the context in which the debate takes place. The federalism issue is unavoidable in interpreting the plain language of this debate, and it's the one that most prominently disfavors PRO at the expense of CON, because this at once intrudes on state common law, and the constitutionally recognized distinction between federal legislative power and state police power (the authority to regulate the health, safety, and morality of its people).

Because the federalism issue is so manifestly against PRO's interests, and because surely neither debater is in any kind of a reasonable position to discuss the federalism issue (as neither are lawyers are law students), I will relegate consideration of the federalism issue beyond the periphery of what the burdens in this debate will be. I *loathe* to do this, because it goes against the entire value structure of debates; debaters assent to debating a specific resolution with specific terms, and ignoring an entire clause in the resolution is under almost all circumstances an outrightly inapropriate thing to do, there are supervening policy reasons why, in this specifically limited circumstance, consideration of the federalism issue is something that must be laid aside, which I have already outlined above. The result will be in the interest of fairness, which is to say, to balance the respective burdens that each debater has, with respect to what they are obliged to persuade me of, in order to win this debate.

lol I was thinking exactly this when I saw the resolution. I actually was expecting Lannan to make the federalism argument, given his conservative inclinations.
FourTrouble
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12/7/2015 12:09:25 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/5/2015 9:35:22 PM, YYW wrote:
I am confident that bad judges are going to invent reasons to give a particular debater the win; my guess is that most will vote for TUF, some might vote for Lannan, neither will do so on any reasonable basis.

I'm reasonably confident you will hate my RFD. But I'm also certain I decided the debate as fairly as possible without awarding a tie, which I didn't want to do.
YYW
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12/7/2015 1:20:22 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/7/2015 12:09:25 AM, FourTrouble wrote:
At 12/5/2015 9:35:22 PM, YYW wrote:
I am confident that bad judges are going to invent reasons to give a particular debater the win; my guess is that most will vote for TUF, some might vote for Lannan, neither will do so on any reasonable basis.

I'm reasonably confident you will hate my RFD. But I'm also certain I decided the debate as fairly as possible without awarding a tie, which I didn't want to do.

I haven't read your RFD, and I'm likely not going to unless you specifically want my feedback on it. Regarding your comment about the probability that I will "hate" your RFD, it's not that I have particular feelings with respect to RFD's... only towards judges and their ability to produce correct ones. (Do not take anything I say, pertaining to RFD's, personally though. It's not personal, nor should it be.)

I (correctly) predicted that most voters, averse to awarding a tie, would award the win to TUF. There was no basis for doing so, but I mean it's just clear that that's what's going to happen... however erroneous.

If for whatever reason bsh1 votes on the debate he will likely give the award to TUF, unless he can come up with some contrived reason to give it to Lannan simply to prove my prediction wrong (wouldn't be the first time a debater has done that; hence my usual practice of just speculating about what people are going to do behind closed doors).

But in any event, this is one of those debates that different people are going to produce different outcomes for, and that's fine. As a rule I don't make a policy of publicly castigating voters who (1) made a good faith effort to try to get the right answer, even if (2) they failed to do so.
Tsar of DDO
YYW
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12/7/2015 1:28:11 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/7/2015 12:09:25 AM, FourTrouble wrote:

On reconsideration I read your RFD, and I have expressed thoughts about it's sufficiency in your thread, as well as thoughts about anyone who disagrees with my thoughts about your vote's sufficiency, in the comment section of the debate.
Tsar of DDO
bsh1
Posts: 27,504
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12/7/2015 1:28:31 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/7/2015 1:20:22 AM, YYW wrote:
If for whatever reason bsh1 votes on the debate he will likely give the award to TUF, unless he can come up with some contrived reason to give it to Lannan simply to prove my prediction wrong (wouldn't be the first time a debater has done that; hence my usual practice of just speculating about what people are going to do behind closed doors).

I am not te kind of voter who contrives reasons to vote for other people. I wouldn't put my integrity in jeopardy like that. I will vote for the debate I believe won, and for no one else.
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