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Individuals have a moral obligation to assist people in need

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/3/2011 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,116 times Debate No: 19658
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (4)
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Its kind of weird to go first on neg but I guess this is how its gonna go. Id like this to be done in Ld format.

If any civilization is to survive, it is the morality of altruism that man will have to reject- Ayn Rand.

My value is morality- Principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior. Seeing as it is the key term in the resolution; I aim to bring the greatest morality. My value criterion is liberty- The quality or state of being free and a person's ability to pursue their own rational freedom. By upholding Liberty we will in turn uphold morality.
For further clarification, I will provide the definitions which will create the backbone of my case.
Need- Circumstances in which something is necessary in respect to survival and life function
Ethical egoism- Moral agents ought to do what is in their self interest without the direct harm of others.
Altruism- The belief in dis-interested and selfless concern for the well being of others

Contention 1: The resolution is counterproductive (in respect to morality).
Sub point a: Obligations degrade Altruism.
As ayn rand stated in the ethics of emergencies-
By elevating the issue of helping others into the central and primary issue of ethics, altruism has destroyed the concept of any authentic benevolence or good will among men.
As said in the Stanford Encyclopedia of philosophy-
Moral judgments that a person ought to do implies that the person has motivating reasons to do it, and that a person is likely to have such reasons only if he or she has implicitly entered into the agreement.
The highest morality comes from being able to make choices free of coercion. Helping in need would certainly not be wrong but should not be made from fear of immorality.
Humanity can progress when individuals assist people in need without prompting or obligation; more or less mandating assistance eliminates altruism. Thus a moral obligation is scarcely moral at all.
Sub point b: By obligating people we are immoral
Consider the situation: You could say that donating an organ or blood could be considered assisting people in need. You could also consider respecting someone's religion as a moral judgment that is morally right. Now given that this goes against moral codes in some religions, such as Jehovah's Witness, telling them they are morally obligated to assist when it goes against their morals is IMMORRAL period.

Contention 2: In certain situation Ethical egoism shows greater morality than altruism.
Again Ethical egoism is the theory that a person should do what benefits them in accordance with morality. Ethical egoism does not require moral agents to harm the interests and well-being of others when making moral deliberation; e.g. what is in an agent's self-interest may be incidentally detrimental, beneficial, or neutral in its effect on others. Because we cannot rely on Obligation of others to run our own lives we must look out for ourselves
Let's look to Radley Balko's story of how altruism shows less benefit than egoism.
Aaron Feuerstein oversaw a Massachusetts-based textiles company called Malden Mills. In 1995, three of Malden Mills' factories burned to the ground. Feuerstein was pronounced a corporate hero when he promised his workers that he would continue to pay their salaries out of his own pocket while he rebuilt the factories, even though his workers wouldn't be producing.
Contrast Feuerstein with former GE CEO Jack Welch.
Jack Welch laid off thousands of workers in his efforts to streamline and change the focus of the company. (Let's go back to Feuerstein.) Feuerstein's pledge to continue paying his workers eventually cost them their jobs, and cost Feuerstein his company. Feuerstein ran out of money, and Malden Mills was forced to declare bankruptcy. Welch, on the other hand, turned GE from a sleepy home-appliance company into an international mega-corporation that today is a leader in several industries. For every job he slashed, he eventually created dozens of new ones; it is Welch, not Feuerstein did the most good for the most people. And in conclusion the solution presenting the greatest good would have been never been shown under obligation.
Contention 3: True altruism creates dependence.
Ayn rand wrote-
Altruism makes him feel that somebody will take care of him he feels it is not necessary for him to be productive or to take an interest in his own career. to the extent that he fails, he will become a first mortgage on the life of everybody else, which gives him an incentive not to succeed. Without altruism many more people would realize that there is no escape from the responsibility of carrying ones own weight, of providing for ones own survival and of being productive.

If every moral person were to practice altruism only the dependent immoral people would benefit. Although helping people in need is an honorable thing to do, when we tell people that they are "obligated" to help, those on the receiving end will develop a laziness or dependence upon others. Now said person is ALWAYS in need help and ALWAYS want more. This makes them a serious drain on society


Resolved: Individuals have a moral obligation to assist people in need.

I stand on the firm affirmation of today’s resolution, be it resolved: Individuals have a moral obligation to assist people in need. According to the American Heritage Dictionary “need” in the context as object of the preposition “in” means “A condition of poverty or misfortune.” For today’s debate, I will use “societal welfare” as my value, achieved through the value criterion of NET BENEFITS.

I negate the Aff's Value & VC because there is no direct correlation between morality and liberty. A woman may have the freedom to have an abortion, but whether or not it is a moral decision is a COMPLETELY different matter. That is why I ask the voters to look toward my Value & Criterion.

Contention 1: The principal of beneficence requires those who pursue luxury to first ensure the necessities of everybody else.

Sub-Point A: The principle of beneficence describes a moral obligation to help others.
1. Beneficence is defined according to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy as including “effectively all forms of action intended to benefit or promote the good of other persons. The language of a principle or rule of beneficence refers to a normative statement of a moral obligation to act for the benefit of others, helping them to further their important and legitimate interests.” Therefore, the principal of beneficence declares that there is a moral obligation to help others.
B. The principle of beneficence morally requires the necessities of everyone before surplus of anyone.
1. Bob Corbett quotes the 20th century philosopher Peter Singer’s expansion on beneficence: “Singer formulates that obligation in the following manner: ‘if it is in our power to prevent something very bad happening, without thereby sacrificing anything of comparable moral significance, we ought to do it.’”
2. Bob Corbett moves on to outline “Working from this asserted principle, Singer goes on to distinguish between absolute poverty -- a state where one does not have the necessities to even stay alive, or at least to maintain a life of minimal human dignity, and absolute luxury -- a state of where one has goods beyond those of absolute poverty. He argues that the principle of beneficence requires that everyone's necessity is morally prior to anyone's luxury, and thus we are morally required to attend to everyone's absolute necessities before attending to our own luxuries.” He also summarizes “Singer's distinction between absolute poverty and absolute luxury is that the distinction is quite clear and we can empirically distinguish between them in most actual cases.” This shows that there is an observable difference between surplus and necessity, and that everyone’s necessity comes morally before anyone’s luxury.

Contention 2: At the sacrifice of little, we can engender great benefits.

According to Hunger Notes are 925 million hungry people in the world (13.6%). Also, they say, “The world produces enough food to feed everyone. … [There is] enough to provide everyone in the world with at least 2,720 kilocalories (kcal) per person per day (FAO 2002, p.9). The principal problem is that many people in the world do not have sufficient land to grow, or income to purchase, enough food.”

According to US News) “Worldwide, 1.1 billion people lack clean water, 2.6 billion people go without sanitation, and 1.8 million children die every year because of one or the other, or both.” The article continues to cite the growing water crisis. Later, it confirms that if solved this problem becomes self-managed when it states, “Studies have shown that providing clean water and sanitation brings tremendous benefits. Health costs go down. People live longer, stay healthier, and become more productive.” Finally, it states that the minimum amount of water needed is 20-50 Liters. In contrast, the average American consumes 400-600 liters a day, over eight times the necessary amount at the least. Solving this, 300 million Americans consume the amount of water needed by over 2 billion people in addition to their own; and only 1 billion people are in need of water. Again, by violating the principle of beneficence we can see that individuals with mass surplus are morally obligated to assist others in need, and this evidence shows that there is enough water in the world for everyone.

Sub-Point C: In the world and the U.S.A., a small loss of luxury can vastly aid poorer nations.
1. According to Santa Clara University’s Claire Andre and Manuel Velasquez’s World Hunger: A Moral Response, “In 1990, the World Bank urged the international community to increase aid to poor countries to 0.7% of their GNP. If this goal is reached, poverty could be reduced by as much as 40% by the end of this decade.” This would vastly improve economic conditions in the nations, OPENING UP opportunities for greater commerce activity internationally, including the US. This statistic shows that the loss in luxury of the world would be very minimal in comparison to the gain in defeating poverty, over 40% in a single decade at less than 1% of each nation’s GNP. Yet, a cost-analysis shows that such a small amount can recompense us even greater boons. It opens our economy up to new imports from the nation. For instance, IRAQ after its liberation experienced heavy economic depredation. According to the Independent News, after the international community assisted Iraq through taxpayer money, it has become a powerhouse in the oil industry and is an active partner with America. In fact, in Kurdistan alone, 45 billion barrels of oil are stored, ready to be sold.

Ultimately, by upholding the principle of beneficence, the American individuals are GAINING greater benefits from it. Not only is helping the needy definitely a moral obligation, but it is one that also benefits us. The judge should look toward the value of “societal welfare,” as it encompasses many other values. To truly attain this state, we humans must pursue net benefits. BECAUSE the AFF. has shown 1) why the obligation is “moral,” as according to the principle of benefice by philosopher Singer, and 2) why this moral obligation upholds net benefits, as both sides – the individuals assisting and those in need of help – have much to gain, I urge the judge for a strong vote on the AFFIRMATION.


C1 - Negation states that obligations degrade altriusm, and that humanity only progresses through a non-imposed altruism. This is a non-sequitur. Whether or not a "moral obligation" is imposed on altruism, the person that does a good, charitable act will be considered
altrustic regardless. To uphold the criterion of net benefits, we need to see what does the greatest good for the greatest number of people. With the Aff, we have the people practicing altruism be satisfied (b/c they know they have done a good deed), and the people that receive such altruism be happy. However, w/ the Neg, we have those who forgo altruism completely - and less people receive altruism. It is simply illogical to agree with Neg's contention.

C2 - Ethical egoism is of "greater morality." As I said before, net benefits and societal welfare is achieved by the greatest good. The Negation fails to realize that this is not the perfect world, where people donate freely without being asked to. In a perfectly pragmatic view, to achieve net benefits, we need to have a catalyst that drives people to be altruistic - a 'moral obligation.'

C3 - True altruism creates dependence. Without some kind of statics or study on the psychology of humans, we simply cannot believe this baseless claim. Everybody has the incentive to succeed in life. What one receives in altruism pales in comparison to one's dreams and goals in his or her life.
I urge a strong ballot on the AFF.


Debate Round No. 1


As a road map I will first build up my own case by rebutting my opponents attacks on my case starting with the value/vc debate, and then going on to my contentions. After this i will go on to attack my opponents case.

He attacked my value and value criterion by saying liberty doesn't uphold morality using an example of a women seeking abortion not being moral. This is a complete opinion and should be discounted. Id like to point you to the theory of moral relevance that shows not everyone's morality is the same. It is obviously moral to the women and even if it is not your view you have to respect hers. In every sense respecting someones liberty is moral.
On the other hand, his value and value criterion are the same thing, which shows complete ignorance for Lincoln Douglas form. He is upholding the greatest good for society with a net benefit of the greatest good. His vc is also abusive. Their is no way for the negative to uphold this because the net benefits will always fall with the aff. He has even shown this on his attack on my C1 and C2. So you must prefer my value and value criterion because it can be upheld by everyone.

On his attack on my contention one he only attacks my sub point a and fails to mention anything on my sub point b So all further arguments on that are null and void. It is now held that everyone shall agree with my example of the organ donor and the fact that certain situations are immoral when mandated by the resolution. In his attack he basically attacks the tagline saying that even if it is a moral obligation, altruism still happens. He fails to realize that im saying it is immoral to obligate assisting in need and that we can progress (as we have for thousands of years) without obligation. My first point is so Because the only reason people will assist is that they are fearful of being immoral. my opponent is still making people assist when it intervenes with their life, values, morals, and well being. This is absolutely ridiculous.

on his attack on my contention two he continues with his concern for the achieval of net benefits. When however i am arguing that not always does the net benefit of affirming happen, which i have shown through everyone one of my examples in my case. If something doesn't work 100% percent of the time then it cannot be an obligation. Look at other moral obligations like not killing innocent people. It works all the time. If a person does kill an innocent person they are deemed immoral for violating the moral obligation. Because the purpose of assisting people in need doesn't work all the time it can't be obligatory. This is the main point and SHOULDN'T BE IGNORED.

And finally his attack on my contention 3 is based on the fact that there is no study on the matter. He is right that I have no study, but that does not discredit my contention. If you think about it, why should a homeless person work when everything is handed to him? Some have obviously lacked the ambition to help society in the first place. Now look to this source of fake homeless people . These people have found it more beneficial to always want assistance than to follow their dreams and goals. This also discredits societal welfare in this situation because now they are draining society without providing any benefits to society. He goes on to say altruism pales in comparison to one's dreams and goals. My opponent contradicts himself because I could say the same thing for his point. Who is to say someones recieval of altruism doesn't override their goals. You say it from personal opinion as have I. The choice the voters have to make is to accept the old Chinese proverb - Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he can feed himself for life. Now by affirming and having the original intent to assist someone in need your not truly assisting them in need. This leads into paradoxical ethics. So now you must conclude Affirmation=paradox.

Now on to my oppenents case,

In his contention 1 he is distinguishing between need and want. Basically he is telling everyone to live at the bare minimum and to donate everything else to charity because in his opinion it is the most moral thing to do. This is completely ridiculous; you can't have everybody working to support other people's lives without enjoying their own. This defeats the whole purpose of the pursuit of happiness. And that is a value I think we all can share.

In your contention 2 the situations of assisting in need you're advocating, you're not focusing on the individual aspect of the resolution. So you're arguments aren't really topical. The only way for an individual to help is to donate to your certain charities. Now you're asking everyone to conform to your beliefs and your values. Not everyone is as passionate about your charities as you are and you have to respect that. People may choose to donate their donatable money to other charities that don't assist people in need like PETA or the united Negro college fund or any college fund for that matter. By your logic you're saying it is immoral to not donate to YOUR charity.


PointZero forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


Not sure what happened to my opponent. Please vote on the previous rounds and both of our rebuttals.


PointZero forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by Reid 7 years ago
vmpire321, speech and debate tournaments. derp
Posted by iTzDanneh 7 years ago
Point zero good luck to you some things i forgot to mention in my post was that id like to refrain from making this a definitional argument and debating each others sources. Id also like to keep this traditional not focus to much on the value or value criterion and focus on the topic.
Posted by vmpire321 7 years ago
??? "I debated it many times today"

Posted by Reid 7 years ago
I would so accept this topic. However, I debated it many times today, and am sick of hearing it until next week when I must argue it. Good luck to whoever accepts the challenge.
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