Total Posts:2|Showing Posts:1-2
Jump to topic:

RFD for Smoking Ban Debate

whiteflame
Posts: 1,378
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
2/18/2016 1:58:18 AM
Posted: 9 months ago
This is an RFD for the debate between donald.keller and Fire_wings given here: http://www.debate.org...

The debate is relatively straightforward. I"m given frameworks by both sides, and there"s no apparent conflict between them, nor does either side contest either framework substantially, so I just buy both off the bat. Pro"s framework is that the Harm Principle needs to be upheld, which is pretty basic. Con does start off his R3 by stating that he disagrees with this, stating that it "is unreasonable", but fails to explain why it"s unreasonable. I can see where those arguments could have been made, but without them and without any further argumentation whatsoever on this, there"s no reason for me to accept this argument. I"m buying from Con that Pro carries the BoP, but given the Harm Principle, that burden just requires that he show a greater negative than a positive. If they look about equal, then Con wins.

Most of Pro"s arguments just don"t get contested to a sufficient degree. He tells me under what conditions rights may be limited, and explains that rights aren"t themselves an endgame. I"m told several times throughout the debate that this also applies to liberties: there"s a balance between law and liberty, and that balance is based chiefly on the Harm Principle. This will become important as I look through Con"s case.

The economics argument is a pretty clear win for Pro. He"s giving me far more analysis throughout the debate of what the numbers are, where they apply, and how substantial they are for his side versus his opponent"s. The argument that much of these costs are paid by smokers themselves really does nothing to abate the central problem: that this money is spent on medical care and doesn"t go into the larger economy. I"m not sure I buy that spending on medical care necessarily does disappear from the broader economy, but that argument didn"t appear from Con. There"s clearly a very large cost, and that cost affects the entire country. The reality that many of these costs are borne by others as a result of smokers either not being able to pay them or causing the damage to non-smokers also reinforces this point, explaining why this cost is at least partially borne by those who made no decision to take it on.

The secondhand smoke argument is probably the most devastating of Pro"s arguments. He tells me about the factor of smoke affecting non-smokers, and much of Con"s responses seem to grant this analysis, including the thirdhand smoking argument I also see coming from this. Pretty much Con"s only response to this is that he can solve through his counter plan, and I"ll get to that as I hop onto his case. While costs may have nebulous effects to a degree, the very real loss of life and health is a substantial impact, particularly since it happens to broadly.

The economic freedom point could probably have been explained more clearly, but it seems to be more of a turn on the freedom of choice argument that Con later presents rather than positive matter for Pro"s case. Perhaps that was the point. The addictive nature of the drug is certainly well-taken. The only response this gets is an effort to outweigh from Con, so I"ll get to that on his case.

Con"s case starts off with a general definition of tobacco, which ends up doing little for his case and never factors into the remainder of the debate.

Con"s liberty argument got substantial pre-rebuttal from Pro"s first round, and Con didn"t appear to have factored any of those responses into how he structured this. In fact, much of this argument is based on the nebulous concept of "self-ownership," which is never clearly explained. Self-ownership is not, as Con says, the right to do what we want. It"s a far more complicated concept than that, and the view that disallowing anything fundamentally destroys our self-ownership seems a ridiculous claim. On that basis, our self-ownership is already long gone. Admittedly, Pro never makes these arguments, but Con really should have done more to explain this point instead of leaving me with questions like this.

The bigger problem is that I have no idea what the value of self-ownership is. All of this argumentation pretty much ends with self-ownership is great because it"s self-ownership. It"s a circular argument with no particular point to it. Beyond that, Pro tells me quite a bit about how the self-ownership of others is violated by smokers, to which I get the response that the counter plan solves (again, I"ll get to that soon). Without that absolute solvency, though, Con"s in a bind. He doesn"t tell me why the right to smoke is something special that should outweigh the problems Pro is presenting, even if the number of people affected is far fewer on Pro"s side. Health seems to outweigh, and I really have no reason to believe that that"s not the case.

Con"s economic impact argument is clearly less thought out than Pro"s, as he just throws numbers without context out in support of smoking. While I buy that there"s a clear and large amount of money gained from the tobacco industry, that is also clearly and largely outweighed by the economic costs of smoking that Pro cites. So economic impact is falling on Pro"s side.

Con"s dependency argument is pretty much the only one that survives relatively unscathed to the end of the debate, so he does have that going for him. It"s just" not really all that potent. The number of people who lose their jobs is far lower than he claims, as Pro points out, and while the loss of jobs is certainly something to mourn, this is counter balanced by the larger effects on the economy. It"s not at all clear that those effects would have no effect on this population, nor is it clear how dependency itself is problematic. There are good reasons why dependency and joblessness could have long term and deep implications for these people, but Con doesn"t explain how that"s so. It just looks like a short term impact that will vanish as the economy surges upward.

Con argues that illegal tobacco is bad. This argument is never well explained. Con just says that a black market will form, which Pro effectively counters by showing that there"s a general stigma against tobacco, meaning that such a market would likely be small and unimportant if it did form. This might bolster criminal networks, but it"s unclear what the impact of that would be, and since that"s the only impact I get from this argument, it"s not very effective.

That just leaves the counter plan, which Con doesn"t seem to understand. He keeps saying that there will be rooms where people can smoke, and that those rooms will be ventilated and the smoke won"t reach other sources. Pro clearly shows me how second and thirdhand smoke travel, which isn"t being fully prevented by even the best ventilated of rooms. He tells me about the massive costs involved in making these rooms broadly, and that at least suggests that they won"t do a perfect job of preventing the spread of smoke. Personally, I was also wondering how Con planned on preventing smoking within peoples" homes, particularly because the enforcement mechanism for doing so would have to be insanely good and ridiculously costly. That wasn"t brought up, but it"s yet another reason for me to be concerned about this.
whiteflame
Posts: 1,378
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
2/18/2016 1:58:28 AM
Posted: 9 months ago
Conclusion:

I don"t doubt that Con"s counter plan will improve the situation we face today dramatically. The problem is that it doesn"t solve completely. Pro"s plan apparently does, since Con doesn"t question his solvency. Based on health alone, which appears to be the strongest impact in this debate, I can immediately vote Con. I could do so on the basis of costs as well, since those are more substantial than anything Con presented. I can"t buy the liberty trumps everything argument Con is giving me because it doesn"t fit with the framework from Pro that he never contests, and he simply doesn"t give me any reason to prefer liberties to major net beneficial problems. They have nebulous impact at best. Pro"s arguments all have substantial impacts. Even if I am buying it, the reality that there"s a loss of freedom from addiction that Pro cites is not something Con ever effectively counters, and with that alone I can say that freedom is too muddled to decide. With the health issues, the freedom question resides firmly in Pro"s corner. Hence, I vote Pro.