The Instigator
Con (against)
5 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
3 Points

Domestic Violence

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Post Voting Period
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after 2 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/20/2013 Category: Society
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 16,363 times Debate No: 36868
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (10)
Votes (2)




Topic: The use of lethal force by victims as a deliberate response to repeated acts of domestic violence is immoral.

Round One: Just for acceptance, definitions, and rules.

Rules: Keep it polite. No new arguments or evidence in the final round.

Burdens: Pro must show that a victim's deliberate use of lethal force against an abuser is immoral; Con should show that such an action is not immoral (which is not the same as showing it is moral.) Both sides also have the burden of clash; i.e., they must address their opponent's points as best as they can.

Provisos: By "repeated acts," we're referring to a pattern of incidents which are not necessarily habitual or uncontrollable. "Immoral" indicates that something is "contrary to the moral precepts of most cultures." By accepting, you agree to rules, burdens, and definitions.

Lethal force - an act of violence that is likely to produce death in the victim(s)
Victims - those being harmed by the acts of domestic violence
Deliberate - carefully considered, premeditated, unimpulsive
Response - a reaction to something, in this case, acts of domestic violence
Domestic Violence - is defined by the DOJ as "a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone."

Thank you in advance for accepting!


I accept the terms and debate with one agreed upon modification to the definition of Immoral, and clarification concerning the definition of Morality.

Immoral will be defined as "Not conforming to accepted standards of morality" and Morality as "Principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior."

I wish you the best of luck, and look forward to an intriguing debate!
Debate Round No. 1


Thanks once again to XelnagaCUByo for accepting! I will now present the Con"s case.

OBSERVATION: The Con"s burden, as agreed, is to show that, on balance, lethal force against an abuser is not immoral. That is not that same thing as having to show that lethal force is moral. If I show that it is neutral, or at least justifiable (merited according to accepted moral standards), than I submit that I will have met my burden.

CONTENTION ONE: There is often little recourse left but lethal force when dealing with abusers.

Sub-point A: Government fails to solve.

According to Lawyer Casey Westover, "When Congress passed VAWA, violence was the leading cause of injury for women ages fifteen to forty-four. "As many as four million women per year were the victims of domestic abuse," and one woman was raped every six minutes. Because these problems do not fall within the scope of a federal enumerated power, State governments alone had the power to protect women from these most fundamental deprivations of social liberty. Their response was inadequate. State legislatures failed to pass laws adequately protecting women from violent attacks. Although almost every State passed hate crime legislation in the 1980s, few if any included gender as a protected group"Some violent acts against women were not even considered a crime. For example, in a few states it was not illegal for a husband to rape his wife" Even when state legislatures passed laws to protect women from violence, state executive and judicial branches often failed to adequately enforce them. Crimes of violence that primarily affect women were treated less seriously than comparable crimes that primarily affect men. Police sometimes refused to take reports, and prosecutors allowed offenders to plead to less serious charges. State government had failed to protect the social liberty of women in the most basic sense, and the federal government attempted to step in. Morrison, however, held that this was beyond the reach of congressional power." According to Prof. Peter Marguiles, "Survivors also encounter significant barriers to access legal assistance"Many law offices have, however, limited their representation, particularly in the order of protection context, which often is the survivor's first point of contact with the justice system. The 1980 Legal Services Corporation ("LSC") Annual Report states that 0.8% of the caseload handled by the LSC concerned domestic violence. Big city legal services programs, in particular, have been inactive. In New York, few legal services programs perform any domestic violence work. In Miami, the legal services program does none. In Philadelphia, a recent law graduate on a fellowship coordinates that program's domestic violence legal assistance efforts."

Sub-point B: Women cannot simply run away.

Prof. Leigh Goodmark writes: "Lenore Walker explains, "Battered women who kill their abusers do so as a last resort.""Battered women who kill have frequently tried to leave their abusers but have found that police, clergy, courts, shelters, or other resources were either not available or not helpful in stopping the violence. In addition, battered women are aware of the tenuous nature of the protection available through the legal system. They read newspaper stories and watch television accounts about women who have called the police and obtained orders of protection, only to be killed by their abusers. When "media tragedies' like these hit the news, battered women get the message: the system that fails to protect them from assault at home will not protect them when they leave." Goodmark goes on to observe that most victims of domestic violence are dependent on their abuser for one or more reasons, including financial, social, resource, or other form of dependency. This notion is bolstered by a report authored by the New South Wales Multicultural Health Communication Services, domestic violence "includes interfering with someone"s personal freedom by keeping them away from their family or friends, or withholding money to which they"re entitled. These types of abuse have one thing in common - they"re ways that someone uses to control his partner and sometimes other members of the family. Some people believe this abuse is a private matter"But domestic violence is a crime and families have the right to be protected against it. This ability of abusers to manipulate victims unjustly infringes there freedoms and capabilities.

CONTENTION TWO: Despite the lack of imminence, deliberate lethal force as a response to domestic violence is justified.

Sub-point A: Lethal force is moral justified as a form of self-defense.

According to Prof. Robert Schopp, "The moral justification of self-defense reflects broad underlying principles of public morality. In a liberal society that vests fundamental value in the individual"s right to self-determination and recognizes each sovereign person"s equal standing, any culpable criminal conduct infringes on the victim"s concrete interests and violates her sphere of sovereignty. The aggressor imputes inequality of standing by culpably violating the victim"s protected domain, and in a liberal society any violation of sovereignty constitutes an injury to a fundamental interest. The victim may exercise any force necessary, therefore, to protect her sphere of self-determination against an aggressor whose culpable conduct extends beyond his own protected domain."

Sub-point B: Abused children should be permitted the use of lethal force.

According to Catherine Ryan, J.D., "battered children who kill their abusive parents in non-confrontational settings do not fit within the framework of traditional self-defense. The danger posed to the child at the moment of the killing will often appear to be neither imminent nor reasonable to the average person; but to the child involved in a long and continued cycle of abuse at the hands of a parent, the constant and ongoing threat of abuse may make the child believe that the killing of his or her parent is indeed necessary to ward off imminent death or great bodily harm."

Sub-point C: Lethal force is morally and legally permissible a defense to domestic violence, insofar as domestic violence is a form of kidnapping.

Gregory Diamond asserts that, "If the harm a kidnap victim faces is continued vulnerability to serious bodily harm at another's hands, that threat is always imminent, as the victim has no ability to prevent it. It extends in time beyond the moment of abduction itself, continually renewing a state of terror and threat. In most jurisdictions, given an honest and reasonable belief that one must kill one's kidnapper in order to effect one's escape from the threat of serious bodily harm, one is legally justified in doing so"No black letter law says that one can or cannot kill one's kidnapper while he is temporarily incapacitated, but the following scenario suggests that one could: If a woman has been abducted by A and B, who she honestly and reasonably believes intend to murder her, and A falls asleep while B is absent from the room, presumably she may kill the sleeping A as part of a plan of escape if she fears that A may otherwise awaken and prevent her from defending herself against the ambulatory B. This would be so even if A and B had not yet actually begun to move toward committing the murder"If a sleeping A could be killed if doing so is truly necessary to prevent him from waking and foiling an escape from B, one may fairly suspect that a sleeping, yet powerfully threatening, A could be killed if doing so is truly necessary to prevent him from waking and foiling her escape from A himself"Even if a court did not allow a defendant to argue that she was a literal victim of kidnapping, the above analysis might bolster her moral claim to self-defense by use of that metaphor"After a trial court convicted the defendant of kidnapping, an appellate court reversed the conviction. Despite the fact that the battered woman had made no attempt to leave even during those moments when her batterer was not in the room with her, the Connecticut Supreme Court reinstated the conviction. It found that the combination of physical abuse and implicit threats to the victim if she left sufficed to constitute restraint and abduction, and therefore kidnapping. This would seem, therefore, to justify lethal self-defense."

Sub-point D: Abuse is always an imminent threat, and therefore poses a grave and constant risk of harm to the victim.

According to the Journal of Psychoative Drugs, "abusers become addicted to abusing their victims. They use four characteristics of addiction, which are, (1) loss of control: The abuser is contrite after the abuse, promises not to do it again, but inevitably does so.(2) continuation despite adverse consequences: The victim experiences emotional, sexual, and physical damage and loss of self-esteem"(3) preoccupation or obsession: Abuser is preoccupied with controlling the victim"(4) tolerance"the victim gets desensitized and tolerates increasing levels; the violence escalates in frequency and/or intensity and/or diversity." The Journal concludes by stating that while abusers can learn to control their addiction, this requires years of counseling, during which time the abuser should be isolated while unsupervised. Ultimately, because an abuser is addicted to the abuse, the threat that he could lash out against the victim is ALWAYS present, and may therefore be countered with lethal force.

IN SUM: Any one of the various justifications for lethal force is sufficient, I feel, to meet my burden. Thus, I negate that lethal force as a deliberate response to repeated acts of domestic violence is immoral. I await the Pro"s case. Thanks!


Thanks to bsh1 for the Debate! Although it is normal for the Contender to rebuttal his opponent"s arguments in his first round, due to time constraints I have only been able to develop my case. Good luck once again!

Observation 1: Con makes the observation that while I must show that the victim is immoral in his or her action, he must only show the victim is neutral or justifiable. Considering the nature of this round, I believe it is imperative that we note that rather than there being multiple different ways to classify lethal force, in this situation it is either moral or immoral, and cannot be simply neutral. Because this is a problem directly weighing societal benefits and the lives of individuals, it is a moral dilemma where no middle ground can exist. Con is apt in describing that he must prove the victim is justified in using force, however, he seems to indicate that justifiable is synonymous with neutral, when it is in fact, not. In reality I must prove the victim is unjustified, or immoral in his actions, and he must prove the victim is justified, or right in his actions. Although this observation does not necessarily enhance my position I believe it is needed as the observation provided by Con seems to indicate his position has more freedom for winning the round, when in fact, it does not.

Observation 2: Domestic violence does not designate the ability for the direct victim of the abuse to be a child. When reviewing the definition of domestic violence we must note that domestic violence must occur between intimate partners, and that domestic violence can occur between "intimate partners who are married, dating, or living together."[2] The inclusion of only couples and not children as the victims of domestic violence is further revealed as "Delaware, Montana, and South Carolina specifically exclude same-sex relationships in their domestic violence laws."[3]. If same-sex relationships are not able to be classified as domestic violence in some cases, then how can an adults abuse towards a child count as domestic violence?

Contention 1: Deadly Force can never be justified or declared as moral: Only excused

Sub-point A: Deadly Force can never be justified as a response to non-deadly force

According to an article by Cathryn Rosen[1], "Paul Robinson, a leading proponent of systematization of criminal law defenses, has identified three categories of justification defenses: n38 (1) lesser evils; n39 (2) authorized use of defensive force; and (3) authorized use of aggressive force. All three categories are premised on a balancing notion. An act is justified if the societal harm avoided outweighs the societal harm inflicted. Lesser evils justifications involve relatively easy tasks of balancing the relative importance of the physical harm threatened with the physical harm inflicted. The weighing required for authorized use of defensive and aggressive force is more difficult. Usually, the physical harms are equal -- the taking of human lives. Robinson tips the balance in the defender's favor, however, by emphasizing the importance of weighing more than the comparative physical injuries. Society also has an interest in the right to bodily integrity. When society's interest in the right to bodily integrity and the protection against physical injury are combined, they outweigh society's interest in protecting the aggressor from physical harm. Robinson identifies a uniform internal structure shared by all justification defenses. If certain triggering conditions occur, a necessary and proportionate response is permitted. The necessity requirement has two aspects. First, it requires immediacy of the triggering conditions. One can act only when there is no time to use any method other than criminal conduct to protect or further the interest at stake. Second, the defender may act only to the extent necessary to protect the threatened interest. That is, if non-harmful (i.e., noncriminal) or less harmful alternatives for avoiding the threatened harm are available, the infliction of criminal harm is not necessary or justified. Both aspects of the necessity requirement further the same goal. If justified conduct is noncriminal because it constitutes the lesser evil, the availability of a noncriminal alternative to avoiding the threatened harm defeats the claim. Because the justified conduct still causes a societal harm, it will be exculpated only if the greater harm was certain to occur and if no less harmful alternative was available. Otherwise the justified conduct will not be the lesser harm. The proportionality requirement serves a similar function. Even when the threatened harm is immediate and no less harmful alternatives are available, the maximum harm that may be inflicted cannot exceed the threatened harm. For example, deadly force never can be used to protect against non-deadly force. If the harm inflicted exceeds the maximum limit, it is not the lesser evil and cannot be justified."

Sub-point B: The use of deadly force can be excused but not justified
"Justified conduct is conduct that will be encouraged or, at least, tolerated under objectively identifiable circumstances that are not exclusive to the defendant. In contrast, excuse focuses on the actor's subjective perceptions. An excused actor has committed a harmful act that the criminal law seeks to prevent. Unlike a justified act, the excused act did not avoid a greater societal harm or further a greater societal interest.
The actor is excused despite the harmful act because, due to internal or external pressure, she was not morally blameworthy. Under the circumstances in which the harmful act was committed, the actor did not have a fair opportunity to choose meaningfully whether to inflict the harm."

Contention 2: There are multiple viable options for escaping domestic violence besides resorting to lethal force

Even if you do not buy the idea that killing is never justified, when considering the presented case of a victim of domestic violence, we must accept that killing is not justified due to the other options available for the victim to escape the situation.

Sub-point A: Government solves
In the year 2000 alone approximately 300,000 incidents of domestic violence were reported[3], and "The United States has made progress in the last few decades in addressing this violence, resulting in welcome declines."[4] There exist multiple governmental and private agencies and programs which all offer public help and refuge from domestic violence, such as The National Domestic Violence Hotline[4], or The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services[5].

Additionally, new protections for victims of domestic violence are being implemented. "A SPECIAL court will sit in Calderdale to deal with cases of domestic violence. Victims will receive extra help and support from the new court - which is one of 18 new Specialist Domestic Violence Courts being set up by the Government. The programme promotes a combined approach to tackling domestic violence.. It involves the police, the Crown prosecutors, magistrates, courts and probation service, together with specialist support services for victims. Justice Minister, Bridget Prentice said: "I am delighted to announce a further 18 Specialist Domestic Violence Courts. "These courts have been a real success and are central to the package of support we offer the unfortunate domestic violence victims". Key features of the Special Domestic Violence Courts include: Trained and dedicated criminal justice staff with enhanced expertise in dealing with domestic violence, Magistrates specially trained in dealing with domestic violence cases and tailored support and advice from Independent Domestic Violence Advisors. Home Office Minister Alan Campbell said: "Domestic violence is a devastating hidden crime which the Government condemns in all its forms". "[6]

Sub-point B: Even in cases where the victim may have battered woman syndrome, their actions display the ability to leave
Even reasoning defending battered woman"s syndrome "doesn't explain how women who are that helpless manage to stab their husbands repeatedly in the chest with butcher knives, shoot them at close range, or hire hit men to do the job. Nor does it explain why, if battered women are capable of such violent actions, they are incapable of non-homicidal responses such as leaving the house."[7]

Tying it together:
I have shown that the use of lethal force by victims as a deliberate response to repeated domestic violence is immoral because the decision of the victim would not be immediate, but rather deliberate, and therefore the use of excessive force (including deadly force) would not be justified.
Additionally, I have shown that the victim has additional plausible outlets for escaping domestic violence besides using deadly force, and as such the use of deadly force becomes not only unneeded but also immoral.

(1)Cathryn Jo Rosen, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at Temple University, American University Law Review, Fall 1986 ("The Excuse of Self-Defense: Correcting a Historical Accident on Behalf of Battered Women Who Kill" 36-11, Rosen received her JD and LLM from Temple University School of Law)
(6)The Times, 31 March 2009, "Extra help for victims of domestic violence,"
(7)Gerald Caplan, Professor of Law at George Washington University, 1991(National Review, "Battered Wives, Battered Justice", vol 43, #3)
Debate Round No. 2


I thank my opponent for an excellent debate thus far. As previously agreed, Pro may make his rebuttal next round, with no new arguments or evidence in the final round. For this round, though, I will be refuting Pro"s case. His arguments will be displayed in all CAPS; my rebuttals will appear below.


There are three points I"d like to raise in objection to Pro"s assertion. Firstly, the only explanation Pro offers for why there is no gray area is that the topic poses a "moral dilemma where no middle ground exists." Essentially, this is saying there is no middle ground because there is no middle ground, which is, of course, circular logic. Pro fails to warrant his assertion. Secondly, there are a variety of moral theories that illustrate how an action can be morally neutral, for example, ethical utilitarianism. Under this theory, if a moral dilemma has not net loss or benefit, it is neither moral nor immoral; it is simply neutral. Thus, proving an action"s moral neutrality would be sufficient to fulfill the Con burden because I would have shown that lethal force was not "immoral." This single example seems to disprove Pro"s argumentation. Thirdly, Pro concedes that, even if you don"t accept that moral neutrality is enough to go Con, justification is enough to vote Con. If lethal force is justifiable, meaning "encouraged or, at least, tolerated," then a Con vote is in order.


Even if children are not strictly victims of domestic violence (I"ll use the abbreviation DV now) we should still evaluate the impacts of violent relationships upon them. Violent parents and high-risk lives are not good for children, and women may need to employ lethal force on behalf of their children. "Domestic violence not only affects those who are abused, but also has a substantial effect on family members, friends, co-workers, other witnesses, and the community at large. Children, who grow up witnessing domestic violence, are among those seriously affected by this crime. Frequent exposure to violence in the home not only predisposes children to numerous social and physical problems, but also teaches them that violence is a normal way of life - therefore, increasing their risk of becoming society's next generation of victims and abusers." (Source: 1) However, violence in LBGTQ relationships should be construed as DV. The agreed upon definition of DV stated it was between "intimate partners," not necessarily those of the same sex. In fact, the DOJ recognizes same sex DV on a federal level. "Domestic violence can happen to anyone regardless of race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels. Domestic violence occurs in both opposite-sex and same-sex relationships and can happen to intimate partners who are married, living together, or dating." (Source: 1)



Firstly, Pro"s own source says that lethal force can be justified if there is a net benefit to the act. In fact, his source sets up two criteria by noting that: "justified conduct"will be exculpated only if the greater harm was certain to occur and if no less harmful alternative was available." In other words, that a threat must (a) be imminent, and (b) there can be no alternative prior to lethal force being used. It should also be proportional. I would argue that if I can show that DV constitutes a deadly, imminent, and alternative-less threat, lethal force is justified according to Pro"s own criteria. There are two takeaways from this, that Pro fails to show deadly force is never justified, and that the Con can easily justify DV under Pro"s framework. I will now show how the Con can meet the threefold criteria set out by Pro"s source. (1) Imminence is defined as impending; about to occur, according to Encarta. Abusers are addicted to their abuse; meaning they need to abuse constantly and will escalate their abuse overtime in order to continue getting high. Because this urge to abuse is always present, the threat of abuse is always imminent and always certain. Women shouldn"t have to wait until the first punch lands before they defend themselves, because waiting can often be lethal. (2) There are few if any alternatives; I"ll address this in response to Pro"s second contention. (3) Proportionality, oftentimes domestic abusers use serious and potentially deadly acts of violence, which would indicate proportionally lethal force could be used.

There is a second argument that can rebut Sub-point A, even if you don"t believe I meet the three criteria. The evidence Con presented was in a self-defense context, but both the moral and temporal laws governing the nature of self-defense are biased against women. According to Prof. Cynthia Gillespie, "Over the centuries a number of rules limiting the right to self-defense have been developed which seek to balance the private right against the public order. These rules, for the most part, have been written not by legislatures but by judges, virtually all of them male, in cases predominantly involving male defendants. The result has been a law that permits men to exercise their right to defend themselves in the situations in which men have customarily felt the need to do so, but it does not permit women to exercise their right to self-defense in the situations in which they believe they must do so." Therefore, those three criteria need not necessarily be met to show justification.


The evidence offered by Pro is written from a legal perspective, which is not necessarily in line with the moral perspective. Law does not necessarily connote morality; thus, this evidence is questionable when talking about whether DV is "immoral." In addendum, Con states that if an act is excused it is "not morally blameworthy." In other words, the person was not immoral. So, if a woman is excused is using lethal force, then her response was not immoral, and a Con ballot is in order. This clearly turns Pro"s card for the Con.


I"ll just make a quick note here. Contention one is predicated on contention two being valid because many contention one arguments rely on the notion that there are alternatives to lethal force. Therefore, if there are no alternatives, Pro"s C1 SA are void.


In fact, government does not solve. Pro offers only one example of this, the UK. In fact, this is a global resolution, and many nations are completely without viable legal recourse for victims of domestic violence. "You realize that they remain in those relationships because they do not have a way to hide," she said. "They do not know where to run to. They go to their parents, but their parents send them back because of the cultural mindset, they think it is right for your husband to beat you, they keep pushing them back. Some of them have actually expressed that if we knew where to go and hide we would leave this relationship"Tesfaye says in her home country, Ethiopia, which also does not have laws to cover domestic violence, marital rape is a huge, if largely unmentioned, problem. She says laws which were recently passed in Ethiopia severely restricted outside funding for non-governmental organizations, making it all the more difficult to address the situation" (Source: 2) So, while some nations like the UK may have some means of redress, many nations do not. Even the U.S. has its problems, as I noted in my case. And, even in the UK instance, those Courts have yet to be tested; they could be miserable failures. Pro says victims have "plausible outlets for escaping domestic violence," yet, frankly, this is often not the case. Technically, recourse may exist, but if making use of those outlets is extremely hard and implausible, lethal force is justified.


At the very least, BMS would provide an excuse, which, as noted earlier, would warrant a Pro vote. Furthermore, this doesn"t address the issue of LGBTQ domestic abuse, nor does BMS apply to all female victims. In addendum, I have offered much evidence explaining why lethal force is often the only option. Finally, those examples the source lists hardly characterize the majority of DV cases.

Final note, I would point out that much of my case directly or indirectly rebuts many of my opponent's points, and can therefore be cross-applied. I'll touch on this more next round.

So, when we ask is lethal force justified in response to DV, the answer must be yes. Thus, I eagerly await Pro"s rebuttal of my case. Round 4 can be for defenses of our respective cases and for voting issues.

3. Gillespie, Cynthia K., 1989, Founder-Women"s Law Center, holds a J.D. in Health and Insurance Law, "Justifiable Homicide: Battered Women, Self-Defense, and the Law," p. 182


XelnagaCUByo forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


I thank the Pro for his responses; for any one reading this, Pro's responses can be found on a link posted under the comments section. I will begin with a generic overview of the round thus far, and then attempt to both briefly defend my points and then go on to rebut the Pro's points. I shall then conclude with voting issues.

OVERVIEW: The Pro states that he likes to edit his positions as the debate progress. Fine. However, no more new points or edits should be made as this is the final round, and we agreed on that at the onset of this debate. Pro concedes the two criteria I noted in terms of the potential for DV to be moral as well. (Pro dropped my points regarding proportionality.) If I can meet those two criteria, then a Con ballot is in order.



Pro concedes that moral neutrality is sufficient to vote Con. He claims that this has little impact on the round; on the contrary, what this means is that if the Con fails to demonstrate lethal force to be immoral, you must vote Con. The Pro must prove immorality. If the Pro fails to do that, then default to Con.


I conceded children were not direct victims of DV, but that does not mean they are not indirectly harmed by DV. In which case, a parent may be justified in using lethal force against the abuser to halt the harm to the child. As to LGBTQ, under the definition we agreed, domestic violence applies to them. You cannot try and limit the scope of the definition we both assented to, particularly when you"re only referring to states, and this topic is global.


SUBPOINT A: Pro drops my argument that the two criteria (imminence + alternatives) are biased against women, and should therefore be disregarded. Thus, even if I fail to meet those criteria, a Con ballot is still in order because I have shown that those criteria are immoral, in which case, you can default back to the Con case, C2 sub-point A, for reasons why lethal force is not immoral.

SUBPOINT B: Pro makes a very important drop here. I argued that, "Con states that if an act is excused it is "not morally blameworthy." In other words, the person was not immoral. So, if lethal force in response to DV is excusable, which Pro claimed it was, than the victim"s actions were not immoral. Pro"s own argument turns against him. That"s a prima facie reason to vote Con. Pro"s attempt at rebuttal is to say that "although an action may be immoral"they were not morally blameworthy." This is incorrect, insofar as an act that is immoral is morally blameworthy. If an act is not morally blameworthy, it"s not immoral. Moreover, Pro never warrants his own assertion here. Finally, Pro and I see to agree that the actions of the justice system do not, as a rule, reflect morality. Therefore, look to Pro"s own words, and my moral arguments, rather than his legalistic cards.


This is completely dropped by Pro. Extend my arguments that Government doesn't solve for DV. Extend my arguments that Battered Women"s Syndrome excuses an action, warranting a Con vote, and that BWS applies in only a small fraction of cases so Pro cannot co-opt it for his advocacy.


This is utterly abusive. It"s one thing to make new rebuttal points at this stage; it"s entirely different to add new contentions. It's fine to "edit" and adapt; it's not fine to create wholly new positions. You can disregard C3 for this reason. Even if you don't buy that, here's another reason to disregard it: essentially what Pro is saying is that he cannot meet the burden he establishes form himself. He must prove lethal force fails to meet those two criteria, instead, because of the "inconclusive" nature of things, he cannot actually show that those two criteria aren't met. He says this doubt is reason to presume Pro; I vehemently disagree. In fact, it"s reason to presume Con, largely because if the existence of alternatives is "inconclusive" women could feel as if they have no other option but lethal force, at which point, there actions were justifiable or excusable. Furthermore, Pro loses much of his offense when he introduces this contention, here's why. His case relies on the notion that the threat is not imminent, and that plausible alternatives don"t exist. He cannot prove either, because he states the evidence is inconclusive. At this stage, he is basically asserting that he cannot even prove the fundamental claims of his own case. Therefore, his case lacks logicality and any type of warranted foundation. That only leaves Con"s case to vote off of. Finally, as Con, I offer reason to assert that lethal force is okay separate from these criteria, which means parts of my case go un-impacted by Pro's C3.



His only attack on this was to cross-apply his contention three, which I have already addressed.


SUBPOINT A: This is dropped by Pro. This is key because Schopp"s discussion of the danger to a victim's sovereignty does not require imminence, rather, it merely requires abuse, which is what an abuser, by definition does. The Impact of the Extension: Schopp claims that victims should be permitted self-determination via criminal conduct, which does not necessarily imply imminent violence. It could involve other forms of unlawful coercion. At this point, even if I cannot meet the two criteria posited by Pro, this card shows how lethal force is justified, meriting a Con ballot. Pro cannot make any arguments against my card, as those arguments would be new.

SUBPOINT B: Again, I pointed out that the harms posed to the child should still be taken into account when considering whether a parent should use lethal force in a violent relationship. But, even if you disregard this card entirely, I still have enough offense to win.

SUBPOINT C: Pro gives no warrant as to why DV and kidnapping are not synonymous. All he says in regards to this is that that is a "hefty argument" to make, which neither rebuts nor analyzes my point. Extend my argument and don't allow him to make new points against it. Pro then applies his C3 to SPC. I dispute the applicability of C3 to SPC, because C3 acknowledges that the availability of alternatives is "inconclusive" and nebulous. My source is stating that because people wanting to flee just don"t know what will happen if they try, they are morally permitted to kill the abuser instead. Ultimately, it is because the existence of alternative is vague and dubious that lethal force is allowed. Pro misconstrues what my card was saying, and so fails to realize that his C3 actually confirmed the point my source was making.

SUBPOINT D: Pro calls my points "inconclusive" because "certain cases" show otherwise. In fact, Pro fails to mention any specific cases, leaving us only with the evidence I provided. And instead of actually addressing the warrant, that addiction creates a constant need for abuse, making the threat constantly pending, and thus imminent, Pro attempts to get around it with vague, unspecific claims about unnamed cases. My evidence is clear and straightforward, and should be preferred to such ambiguous assertions. Again, don't let Pro make new arguments or cite new cases here.


(1) I meet the criteria set out by Pro. My C2 SPD show imminence, and my rebuttal of Pro"s C# shows the invalidity of his remarks, allowing you to prefer the wealth of evidence I offer that alternatives aren"t available.

(2) Pro"s own arguments about the "excusable" nature of lethal force actually support the Con side, as I noted in response to his C1 SPB. Insofar as he admits lethal force is "not morally blameworthy" he makes it impossible for himself to meet his own burden of showing lethal force to be immoral.

(3) BWS turns Con as well, because it is excusable.

(4) I extended evidence which showed why the two criteria Pro set out show be entirely discounted, in which case, you should prefer the Con because I offer not only separate reasons on why lethal force is justified, but also because Pro has undermined a key part of his advocacy.

(5) My C2 SPA, which went unrebutted, proves, on its won, why a Con ballot is in order, separate from the two criteria.

(6) The warrants of my SPD were poorly addressed if they were addressed at all. This sub-point illustrates how DV is akin to kidnapping (a warrant never directly analyzed by Pro) and how, just as in a kidnapping, lethal force is justified. Even if you buy is C3, if you also accept that DV is like kidnapping, then you must also buy that because of this, lethal force is not immoral. In fact, Pro never suggests that killing a kidnapper is immoral, while my source makes it very clear that such force is permissible. So, this evidence is clearly able to show that lethal force, is, indeed, not immoral.

(7) Pro undermines his own case. Pro's case relies on the notion that the threat is not imminent, and that plausible alternatives don"t exist. He cannot prove either, because he states the evidence is 'inconclusive' so he can't meet the burdens he sets for himself. I noted this in my earlier rebuttal when I point out that Pro's contention one was reliant on his contention two being correct. Pro dropped this point, and then contradicted his own contention two with his contention three, simultaneously invalidating his contention one. Essentially, Pro has no viable case. That only leaves one case standing: mine.

Please don't allow Pro to address any points he dropped earlier. Ultimately, this round comes down to the issue of burdens. In many ways Pro utterly fails to show that lethal force as a response to DV is "immoral." Pro fails to meet his burden, whereas I, as noted above, have met mine. Thus I conclude by thanking Pro for an excellent, cordial debate, and I ask for a Con ballot.


First I will be briefly defending my case, then I will extend my arguments from earlier regarding my opponents case, and I will end by giving voters.

||Pro Case||

O1: Moral or Immoral, no noticeable in between

Con submits that I need to provide reason to show why lethal force is immoral, as a failure to do so would merely result in the voters giving Con the round because any moral middle ground is his territory. I think his conclusion is slightly misplaced, and here’s why.

If I am able to show that using lethal force is not able to be deemed as moral, then there are only two options left: moral neutrality or immorality. Considering my undisputed analysis in R3 C1 stating that the likelihood for a morally neutral event to exist is extremely minimal, especially in a case as complex as a victim of DV using premeditated lethal force, I think it is reasonable to default to the idea that lethal force is immoral in this case. Also, considering the definition of immoral is “not conforming to the accepted standards of morality”, it would make sense that an action which does not fall in line with that which is moral would be considered immoral.

O2: The resolution does not allow children as the direct victim of DV

The argument that lethal force is able to be justified by looking to the indirect harm it causes to children is not properly upheld by my opponent. The only evidence he gives regarding why the abuse is harmful to the child is that it may cause them to develop problems later in their life and relationships.

My opponent provides no standard by which we are able to judge whether this harm inflicted to the child should be retaliated against with the use of lethal force, and thus he is merely making statements which have no basis.

C1: DV cannot be called moral, it can only be excused

SP A: Deadly force cannot be justified against DV

We must note that when discussing my O2, Con vehemently argues that when talking about DV we must include LGBTQ in the definition: and then when refuting my SP A he tries to use evidence reducing the legitimacy of the moral laws I set up by claiming “the moral and temporal laws governing the nature of self-defense are biased against women.” On one hand he advocates the position that the victims of domestic violence can be of any gender or sexual background, and on the other he claims my moral standards are irrelevant because the victim as a women is disadvantaged. We are able to disregard the evidence because his evidence requires the specificity of the actor using lethal force to be much narrower than we have determined it to be.

SP B: Deadly force may be excused, but not justified

It appears Con and I have a fundamental disagreement regarding the nature of being morally blameworthy and the morality of an action. I submitted in R2 and R3 that an action was able to be immoral, while the actor can still remain morally blameworthy.

We must note that when reading the resolution, “The use of lethal force by victims as a deliberate response to repeated acts of domestic violence is immoral,” the object in question is the action itself, and not the victim. While the victim is the person committing the action, because we are judging the action and its consequences directly we are able to declare the action immoral while the victim can remain morally blameless. Con directly contested this, and although I am convinced my position remains the correct one, as a voter you may still be undecided. This is where we must look to my second point regarding the justifiability of an action in R3 SP B.

This is an important drop considering I establish that the ability of the victim to carefully deliberate an action warrants them as responsible for their actions. This means that if you do not buy the idea that the action and the victim are able to be separated, the only burden I have remaining is to show the action was immoral, as I have already shown the victim to be immoral in their usage of lethal force.


The original purpose of this contention was to show the options victims have for escaping DV. However, upon realizing how divisive the evidence truly was, I chose to abandon its original purpose, but keep the evidence itself.

As far as the excuse of BWS goes for excusing an action, look to my rebuttals regarding SP B for a reason why the victim is able to be held morally accountable for their actions in this instance. Also, the use of BWS as a solve all piece of evidence for justifying using lethal force is merely ignoring the loads of other cases of DV where the victim does not have BWS. For this reason the impact of his BWS evidence is minimal at best.

C3: The evidence regarding whether or not victims have alternative ways to escape DV is inconclusive

I apologize if I introduced this Contention wrongfully, as I was under the impression that all new arguments before R4 would be accepted. If I misunderstood the rules I urge you not to take this contention into consideration, however, from my POV the Initiator seemed to imply in the first round that all new arguments before R4 were okay, and it is because of this that I believe this contention should still stand.

I stated last round that by my standards in order for the victim’s action of using lethal force to be justified there must be

1) Imminent threat

2) No other options for escaping DV

In order for condition number 1 to be met, Con must show that there is an imminent threat. Failure to do so means that the criterion was not upheld, and therefore the action cannot be justified. The same applies to number 2.

Because I am able to show, due to inconclusive evidence, that Criterion 2 is not able to be upheld, we must conclude that lethal force is not justified. Look to my O1 defense this round if you are unsure how I am able to reach that conclusion.

Con asserts that inconclusive evidence would only strengthen his position, as women would feel they have no other option for escaping. However, I am not making a statement that is meant to be applied to every woman specifically, rather, I am remarking that in some cases women do have ample means for escaping, and in others, they do not.

||Negative Case||

C1: Lethal force only choice left

If my C3 still stands, this contention is not able to make an impact for Con.

Essentially Con employs evidence in this contention which shows how in some cases the Government fails to provide solutions for DV, and how women cannot simply run away. My evidence in R2 C2 not only has just as much merit, but it shows why in some cases the opposite is true. Pro attacks my arguments by showing why people do not have outlets for escaping, but all he is doing is merely showing that his side of the issue has multiple examples, rather than refuting my point. The facts I gave regarding all the ways women have escaped from DV still stands.

C2: Despite the lack of imminence, deliberate lethal force as a response to domestic violence is justified.

SP A: Lethal force is morally justified as a form of self-defense.

In this contention Con sets up a different standard by which we may judge the use of lethal force, and he uses this standard to justify deadly force.

Considering my opponent never disputed the validity of my standard by which we may judge an action which I established in R2 C1, and I never disputed the validity of his standard, the choice of a standard falls upon the voter. Even though I may not attack my opponent’s standard at this point, I can still give reasons why mine is preferred.

Because the majority of the discussion during this case revolved around my standard of societal benefits and harms the standard I set up should be preferred. Additionally, my standard is more globally applicable, considering my opponents standard can only be applied to self-defense cases or cases where a person’s sovereignty is broken, and mine encompasses all situations in which societal benefits or harms are able to be weighed.

SP B: Abused children should be permitted the use of lethal force.

Look to my defense this round of the O2.

SP C: Lethal force is morally and legally permissible a defense to domestic violence, insofar as domestic violence is a form of kidnapping.

Considering the multiple figures I gave in R2 C2 establishing the ability of agencies and people to provide and find shelter from DV, the assertion that “people wanting to flee just don’t know what will happen if they try” justifies their use of lethal force simply ignores all the evidence I presented when trying to apply this assertion to the resolution. We are essentially repeating our discussion of C3 in structure.

The same implications can be taken from my C3 regarding my opponents use of evidence showing you can't escape, as can be taken from this comparison of some cases of DV to kidnapping.

SP D: Abuse is always an imminent threat, and therefore poses a grave and constant risk of harm to the victim.

Even if you don’t buy my point last round due to a lack of evidence, the controversy surrounding the ability of a victim to escape is enough to go Pro.


Conduct goes to con for his extremely mannered behavior during and outside of the round, and for his choice to even go above and beyond in certain cases.

Spelling and grammar is a tie.

I believe I made the more convincing arguments, and as such, won the round, for the following reasons listed below.

Reliable sources is a tie.

Here are the reasons why I won the debate:

(1) My standard is preferable due to its more thorough usage throughout the round, and it’s global applicability.

(2) Under my standard of societal benefit and harm, using lethal force as a deliberate response to DV is shown as not justified, and in turn, immoral.

(3) My opponent’s discussion of LGBTQ is turned against him and invalidates his counter to my C1 SPA, and counter to my C2 SPB. This allows much of my case to stay standing, and uphold my C3 to ultimately show how lethal force is immoral.

||Vote Pro||

Debate Round No. 4
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by bsh1 5 years ago
Thanks to both rajun and Mrparkers for voting. Especially, thanks for to Mrparkers for very useful/detailed feedback.
Posted by XelnagaCUByo 5 years ago
Thanks for voting!
Posted by Mrparkers 5 years ago
This was a good debate, and a difficult one to judge. Both sides did very well, and honestly, there is no clear cut winner, which forced me to do a lot of thinking (this is a good thing!)

Ultimately, Con's argument about how domestic violence affects children carried a lot of weight to it, and I don't think Pro's line of reasoning was enough for me to dismiss it. Pro, you responded that this point didn't have a basis in the resolution, and while it is true that children were not directly included in the resolution, Con pointed out that DV can affect more than just the victim. I think it would have been interesting if Con took the stance that DV also negatively affects the abuser, which is true, and perhaps used that as a point.

Regardless, a DV victim using lethal force in an attempt to help a child is a pretty selfless act, which is a good example of positive morality. If the DV victim could justify their act of counter-violence by putting a child's needs before theirs, then using that force is a moral decision.

To summarize, arguments are going to Con for that reason, and because of the rules here on DDO, Con is also getting the conduct vote due to Pro's 1 round FF. Yes, I am aware that Pro posted the argument in the comments, but its still a violation of conduct. Accidents happen. Sources and S&G were close enough to call it even.

Great debate guys!
Posted by XelnagaCUByo 5 years ago
No problem, thanks for setting this up!
Posted by bsh1 5 years ago
Thanks for a great, cordial debate!
Posted by XelnagaCUByo 5 years ago
I'm going to post a link to my R3 argument, which has remained unedited after the submit time past.

I encourage all voters to take this failure on my part into consideration when voting, but to please still read the argument as it is imperative to my case as a whole. Thanks!
Posted by bsh1 5 years ago
Can you post your arguments in the comment section?
Posted by XelnagaCUByo 5 years ago
I'm really sorry about round 3! I attempted to post it, but unfortunately I didn't leave adequate time for it to load my post, and upon having less than 5 seconds left I pressed submit but to no success. I'm Going to try and think of a solution, as a R3 forfeit pretty much spells defeat for me.
Posted by XelnagaCUByo 5 years ago
Thanks for the sources!
Posted by bsh1 5 years ago
First round sources; I realized I forgot to add citations...

Westover, Casey L., 2003, Law Clerk to Murphy, US Court of Appeals 8th Circuit, The John Marshall Law Review, Winter, 36 J. Marshall L. Rev. 327, p. 343-5

Goodmark, Leigh, 2007, Assistant Professor, University of Baltimore School of Law, "The Punishment of Dixie Shanahan: Is There Justice for Battered Women Who Kill?", The University of Kansas Law Review, 55 Kan. L. Rev. 269, p. 317-9

Ryan, Catherine S., 1996, [JD] "Battered Children Who Kill: Developing an Appropriate Legal Response," Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy, 10 ND J. L. Ethics & Pub Pol'y 301, p. 307-8

Schopp, Robert F., 1998, Professor-University of Nebraska College of Law, "Justification Defenses and Just Convictions," p. 87-8

Diamond, Gregory A., 2002, holds a J.D. from Columbia University, "To Have But Not to Hold: Can "Resistance Against Kidnapping" Justify Lethal Self-Defense Against Incapacitated Batterers?", Columbia Law Review, 102 Colum. L. Rev. 729, p. 748
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Mrparkers 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments
Vote Placed by rajun 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:13 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD. Forfeit from pro, even if it is posted on comments, he loses the points... The last round did it for me... Pro wins the arguments... even if some good amount of BOP was on him.... 3:1...