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The Contender
Con (against)
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When in conflict, personal freedom ought to be valued above economic security

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/15/2011 Category: Economics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 13,048 times Debate No: 17877
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (5)
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**This round will be Lincoln-Douglas style**

Throughout the ages, mankind has sought many things: wealth, prosperity, power, and fame. But among these things rises something greater, more valuable, than any of these things combined, and that thing is freedom. Gandhi said of freedom, "It is the breath of life. What would a man not pay for living?" Because choosing personal freedom possesses more inherent worth, not only in situations where personal freedom and economic security conflict, but in all areas of life, I Affirm the resolution: When in conflict, personal freedom ought to be valued above economic security.

To establish some common ground in today's debate, let's examine some definitions:
Personal freedom: the power or liberty to order one's own actions and property as long as they do not infringe upon the rights of others.
Economic security: the condition of having a stable source of financial income that allows for access to basic infrastructure needs pertaining to health, education, dwelling, information, and social protection
Conflict: incompatibility or mutual exclusivity as of one idea, desire, event, or activity with another
Value: consider (someone or something) to be important or beneficial

With the definitions established, it's necessary to ask why we ought to Affirm the resolution.

The value we are presented with are those of personal freedom and economic security, and thus the value that I as the Affirmative will be upholding is that of personal freedom (as previously defined). Personal freedom is not only valuable because of what it brings us–independence–but also because of what it is–arguably the most important right that human beings are endowed with. To prove why the resolution is true, let's examine three contentions:

Contention 1: Conflict is the limit
When analyzing this resolution, it is essential that we only look at examples of personal freedom and economic security when they come into conflict. After all, there are a number of scenarios in which we find personal freedom and economic security to be in perfect harmony. Thus, the question of the resolution is specifically limited to the area of conflict: when we must choose one over the other. Additionally, it's important to recognize that we must compare these values from the perspective of an third party, because it's impossible to use your own personal freedom to devalue that same freedom. Likewise, if you choose to value economic security, you are exercising your personal freedom in that very action. Therefore, we have to consider personal freedom and economic security when they are valued by an external actor–someone else must be doing the valuing. So why is personal freedom superior? This leads directly into

Contention 2: Valuing personal freedom creates independence
Independence is commonly thought of in terms of the American Revolution, cries of liberty, and rights being fought for. But at it's core, independence is so much more than just being free. Inherent within the idea of independence is that not only are you free, but you are free from the control of others. Independence is defined as, "not depending on another's authority; not depending on another for livelihood or subsistence." When we value personal freedom, it allows us to become less reliant on others for our needs, and more reliant on ourselves. The problem that arises when valuing economic security over personal freedom is that it necessitates dependence on others. For example, when you go out and get a job, you are exercising your personal freedom, and as a result, gain finances for basic needs–economic security. However, when a decision must be made–get a job and exercise personal freedom, or slack off and get checks from the government–we find that valuing economic security leads to dependence on others, and creates an irresponsible and irrational mindset. The government has two options: allow you to exercise your freedom to go get a job, thereby valuing personal freedom, or send you monthly checks so long as you don't have a job, thereby valuing economic security. The fundamental problem is that this encourages an others-reliant mindset, instead of a self-reliant mindset. Part of the reason why the free market is so successful is because the system values personal freedom above economic security as a fundamental precept. In a society's marketplace, there is conflict: we have to choose to either value freedom of those in the market to make their own decisions, or we must choose to value the economic security of society as a whole, and try to ensure that everyone has a fairly equal level of goods and services–basically socialism. The superior choice–capitalism–creates a system where people must learn to be reliant upon themselves, while the latter choice incentivizes laziness, a mindset of entitlement, and a state where we are dependent on the government to supply our every want and need. Ultimately, the mindset created by valuing economic security over personal freedom when in conflict, is a negative one, that leads to failure in the long run. Valuing personal freedom allows people to be independent, make well reasoned decisions, and learn to become self-sufficient in the long run.

Contention 3: Personal freedom is inherently valuable
[quote]. Freedom is the most important of all the rights that mankind has. Without freedom, what use is life? We are merely slaves to another, our lives dependent on the whims of another. Without freedom, our property means nothing–for all we are concerned, we *are* property. While economic security has its place, it can never take the inherent value that personal freedom has when the two conflict. This principle is illustrated perfectly in the historical example of slavery. Much of the south viewed slaves as property, and decided to take away the personal freedom of the Africans, for the supposedly "higher value" of economic and financial security. In the end, however, the government realized that not only was slavery unfeasible for the long term success of America, but more importantly, it was a gross violation of rights and freedoms, and was inherently immoral.

In the end, personal freedom ought to be valued above economic security when in conflict, because while economic security necessitates dependence on others and has no intrinsic worth, personal freedom possesses both practical and moral value, due to the independence it creates and the inherent value it has. What would you not be willing to pay for your life? And what good is your life, unless you are free.


I agree with my opponent's definitions.

Contention 1: Economic security is a foundation of a good life
For most of us, school is a lot of hard work. Not only are we not allowed to spend the time at school as we wish, but after school, we must do a lot of time-consuming (and mostly useless) homework. It's obvious that school restrains our personal freedom. Why then do most of us attend school? The answer is that school promises us a well-paying career (a.k.a. economic security), and a well-paying career promises a luxurious life. Thus economic security is more valuable than personal freedom.

Contention 2: Economic security is the limit of personal freedom
What you have limits what you can do. No where is this concept more prevalent than in finances. Those who have money can build giant buildings, make multiple movies, and buy whatever the heck they want. Those who don't have money can only watch enviously. Since personal freedom is a measure of your liberty to do the things you want, it makes sense to state that economic security is a measure of personal freedom. Thus economic security must come first.

Contention 3: Independence depends on economic security
When a person without money wants to accomplish something that is above his/her financial means, he/she has to borrow from people who have money. The person without money is dependent on the people with money. If that same person had adequate financial means, he/she would not be dependent on others, and thus would be independent. Thus economic security is more important than personal freedom, since without economic security you cannot be truly independent, and without independence you cannot truly be free.
Debate Round No. 1


In this argument, I'll be addressing Con's case, and then reiterating the validity of my own case.

I'm assuming that since a value wasn't explicitly presented, Con is supporting economic security as their value.

Response to Con's Contention 1: The entirety of Con's argument here is that because economic security is necessary, and because it comes first, it is superior. This argument, however, has no legitimate grounds. I'll address these ideas, and then refute the example of schools.
1. While it is true that everyone needs some sort of economic security, this by no means proves economic security to be superior–necessity does not equal superiority. In Soviet Russia, or other Socialist nations, people were guaranteed a certain level of economic security, having access to things like food, shelter, a form of income, and other basic infrastructural needs. However, their quality of life was very poor, their valuing of economic security over their freedom led to reliance on a corrupt and illegitimate government, and the moral value of personal freedom was implicated. Economic security led to others-dependence and a devaluing of morality.
2. Con commits the logical fallacy "post hoc, proper hoc," saying that because we have economic security before we have a high-quality life, economic security is more valuable. Con also commits circular reasoning: by valuing economic security, we have a luxurious life. What is a luxurious life? Essentially, having lots of economic security! Con proves nothing. The example of schools is also fallacious, as it not only is based on the flawed circular reasoning, but also is simply untrue. Several highly successful people have dropped out of school and yet had success. Without the freedom to pursue your life in a meaningful way in the future through an exercise of personal freedom, economic security and "luxury" ends up being meaningless.

Response to Con's Contention 2: Con's second contention, unfortunately, falls prey to the same problem as the previous: circularity. Con constantly appeals to the standard of economic security to prove why economic security is good. Second, the examples of "building giant buildings" or "making multiple movies" really have nothing to do with the resolution, since they don't show personal freedom conflicting with economic security. Even if you accept that personal freedom is limited by economic security (which it isn't–nations that have been in deep poverty have been able produce intelligent people and resourceful commodities), that doesn't prove economic security is more valuable, just as a tape measure is not more important than the person that it measures.

Response to Con's Contention 3: Two responses. One, Con seems to appealing to the higher standard of personal freedom, when he says, "without economic security you cannot be truly independent, and without independence you cannot be truly free." This seems as though Con is conceding that personal freedom is the highest goal, and that economic security can help achieve that goal. If that is the case, then a vote for Pro is justified. Two, Con also seems to be agreeing with me in regards to the independence argument. While it may seem that Con is arguing for economic security here, in reality, they admit to my very point: if you want to accomplish something above your financial means (buy a $3000 TV set), and you go out and borrow money from someone else, that is valuing economic security. Even if you disagree with that, the person buying the TV would also be exercising their own personal freedom in order to get economic security–that obviously leaves us in a bind, as I identified in my Contention 1, and it's also not an example of conflict. *When in conflict,* economic security valued over personal freedom (such as the example I gave in my Contention 2) does in fact create others-dependence, and a socialistic welfare state where everyone depends on the government for sustenance.

This being said, let's return to the Pro case and see why not only is it still valid, but it has gone almost completely unrefuted by Con.

In my Contention 1, I pointed out how conflict examples are the only applicable ones to the resolution–all others must be disregarded because of the wording of the topic. I also showed how it's impossible to value economic security higher than personal freedom if you choose to use your own freedom to do that very thing. We must examine all examples of conflict from the perspective of an external actor (someone else doing the valuing). These issues were largely ignored by Con, who went on to use examples without conflict, and examples with the individual as their own actor. As this argument was not refuted, it should be considered conceded, and since Con has not complied with these standards, all of their arguments contradicting this standard should be thrown out.

Under my Contention 2, I argued that personal freedom creates independence–a state where we are reliant upon ourselves for our well being. As a general principle, economic security creates irresponsibility when it's valued above personal freedom when the two conflict, because it allows for your fundamental ability to make decisions to be undermined in return for money. In my example of government welfare, you can either use your freedom to go get a job, or you can sacrifice your freedom and get a check. The latter option clearly provides no long-term stability, and in fact, breeds an irresponsible mindset, which is why we should reject economic security when it conflicts with personal freedom.

My third (3) Contention went entirely unaddressed. Con completely ignored the fact that personal freedom has inherent moral value, that all other human rights and dignity depend on this one concept. Economic security has no intrinsic value–it never has, and it never will. Economic security is money. Personal freedom is the foundation that sets the standard and the principle for the worth of mankind. Without that freedom, man is no better than an animal, and if that's the mindset we hold to, the world would be a terrible place.

In conclusion, personal freedom still clearly reigns superior to economic security when the two conflict, because it is more responsible, creates independence, and is inherently valuable, while economic security is not. For these reasons, please vote Pro.


Response to Pro's Contention 1:

Pro states that a third party should be doing the valuing. My arguments are based on the values of the general public, and not on my own personal beliefs. Therefore, my arguments follow his standard and remain unrefuted.

Response to Pro's Contention 2:

Pro uses a poor analogy to support this contention. It is true that it is your freedom to get a job, but it is also true that it is your freedom to not seek jobs. On the job, you are under the command of your boss. Your boss restrains your personal freedom, but provides you with economic security. If you don't have a job, you have all the personal freedom you can ever want, but your economic security is limited to a monthly check from the government (or not even that, depending on what country you live in). That my opponent uses this analogy means that he concedes to the fact that economic security comes first.

Response to Pro's Contention 3:

All values are inherently valuable, but some are more valuable than others. Some values can only be realized if certain other values are realized. Since the latter values must be realized first, they are inherently more valuable. I have shown that for one to have true personal freedom, one must be economically secure. Thus economic security is inherently more valuable than personal freedom.

I will now support my own case.

Con Contention 1:

My opponent claims that people of Soviet Russia were guaranteed a certain level of economic security but were deprived of their freedom, and thus their quality of life was poor. I'd like to see his source for this.
Also, I could give a counterexample that would immediately refute his point. The people of present day Communist China, although not free, still maintain a relatively high quality of life. Don't argue with me on this point, because I have visited China many times.

My opponent also claims that my school analogy is fallacious. He claims that several people drop out of school and are successful. Now I pose this question to you: what percentage of the human population can actually do that? You would find that a very small percentage of people actually do this, and that the vast majority of people depend on education to gain economic security.

My opponent concludes his response to my contention 1 by saying that without freedom, economic security is meaningless. I'll pose him this question: if he lived in another country, and the government of that country suddenly decided to take away all his material belongings (his house, his electronics, his groceries, etc.), would he relinquish his belongings and avoid jail or go to jail and keep his belongings?

Contention 2:

My opponent misses the point. Your personal freedom cannot go beyond your economic security, therefore making economic security more valuable, as through economic security you obtain the means to realize two values, and through personal freedom you obtain the means to realize none. Pro then compares my point to a tape measure. This is highly inaccurate, as a tape measure in no way limits the height of a person, it only measures the height. Economic security is the limit, not the measure, of personal freedom. Thus a better analogy would be the exoskeleton of an insect, where the exoskeleton limits the size of the insect, and if you destroy the exoskeleton, you destroy the insect.

Contention 3:

Pro claims that I am conceding that personal freedom is the highest goal. Whether or not it is the highest goal depends entirely on the individual, and thus here Pro deviates from his own standards (third party has to do the valuing). My point is that while personal freedom may emphasize independence, one cannot have independence if one is not economically secure. Thus my opponent's second contention supports my case and not his.
Let me show you how borrowing money is an example of conflict between personal freedom and economic security. When you borrow money, you are expanding your personal freedom but undermining your economic security, as you are going above your financial means. Obviously, with some people struggling to pay off credit card debt, borrowing money isn't always a good decision. This leads me to the following conclusion:

When personal freedom is valued over economic security, the result is a vicious cycle of economic dependence on others leading to further undermining of one's economic security.

My conclusion has been proved, while my opponent's is only a claim and has not been backed by hard evidence. Thus it has been proved once again that economic security must come first. For the above reasons, I urge a CON ballot.
Debate Round No. 2


In this speech, I'll address what Con said against my Contentions, and then reassert what I said against his case.

Contention 1: Con misunderstands the argument here. I'm not saying that our own personal beliefs can't be brought into the debate. Rather, I'm saying that in all examples of conflict, it is imperative that the subject of the example not be doing the valuing themselves. For example, a person cannot choose to devalue their own choice. But when we take into account an external actor (like the government), that external actor can do the valuing for us. We'll see how this applies later on.

Contention 2: You can use your freedom to not get a job, but that example doesn't show any conflict with economic security. I'm not sure of the point Con was attempting to make with this response. While Con's response to the freedom restrained with a job may sound plausible, the problem this falls prey to is the contradiction of Contention 1 (that he agreed to). If an individual goes and uses their own freedom to go get a job (thereby limiting their own freedom), they are valuing personal freedom in order to restrain personal freedom, which obviously presents us with an impossible and unresolved principle. The only possible way this can make sense in the context of the resolution is if an external actor values one thing or the other. If you don't have a job, your freedom is limited by the government in the sense that you cannot go out and get a job without losing the economic security you have. The two are directly in conflict. It is not the case with using your own freedom to get a job, because 1. that doesn't work under this topic, and 2. You'd be using your own freedom to get economic security (in which case, there really is no actual conflict, which was defined as mutual exclusivity). This doesn't refute my response that primacy does not equal superiority (the earth existed before humans did, but that doesn't make the earth of superior value to human beings).

Contention 3: Incorrect. Not all values are inherently valuable. Money can be a value, but money has no inherent worth–it is what is known as a pragmatic value, something that is good only because of what it brings us. In the same way, economic security is merely having a stable source of finances to have basic services. That is not by any means an inherently valuable goal. Pragmatically valuable in some cases, sure. But not inherently valuable. Con's argument that primacy equals superiority is fundamentally flawed, as it can be empirically denied. Extremely impoverished nations can have large amounts of personal freedom, but little to no economic security. Personal freedom is not defined by what you can make (that's economic security: making money), but by how dependent you are on others, and when you choose to throw away personal freedom to gain economic security, you will inevitably lose independence and become more dependent on others. That is what conflict is defined as. When you throw out economic security, however, to value personal freedom, it is much more likely that one can be self reliant as they are making choices of their own accord, which necessitates wise and responsible decisions.

Response to Con Contention 1: Here's my source quote: "Although the country suffered enormous devastation and lost more than twenty million lives, it had gained considerable territory and now ranked as one of the two great world powers along with the United States. Nonetheless, life in the country continued to suffer. Industrial production was once again concentrated on heavy industry, agricultural failures produced widespread famine, political freedoms were restricted even further, and another huge wave of purges was carried out. As the Cold War got underway, an increasing proportion of the Soviet Union's resources were funneled into military projects, further exacerbating the quality of life." [1]
Examples are great, but that doesn't prove the principle I was illustrating. I agree with Con, based on statistics, that China has somewhat of a high quality of life. This was not my main argument in my previous response, although it was a secondary one. The main response to the quality of life argument was that initially brought up: quality of life = a high degree of economic security. This argument hasn't changed, and Con's argument is still circular. Even if you agree with Con's argument that economic security creates quality of life (which has already been shown to be false in some instances, true in others–leaving us with an inconsistent principle), that doesn't prove anything, other than that economic security achieves greater amounts of economic security.
In response to the school analogy, the percentage of people who can do this has absolutely nothing to do with our debate. The point of that analogy was to illustrate that 1. Con's argument was circular (which he hasn't yet refuted), and 2. that Con's principle was not true in all situations. Examples illustrate the truth of principles, and if we only debate over examples instead of principles, nothing will really be resolved. Economic security simply isn't the highest value because it doesn't allow one to be self-reliant when you throw out personal freedom, and it doesn't possess any intrinsic worth.

If I were in jail, my material belongings would be pretty worthless. However, if the government took away all that I owned but allowed me complete personal freedom, I could go and get another job, another house, more food, etc. Besides, we already agreed that economic security is defined as "financial stability that allows for access to basic services," and it's entirely possible to survive without having money (difficult, granted, but possible).

Response to Con Contention 2: Economic security is only the financial means one has, not the ability of that person. If you want to get "luxurious" life and have lots of expensive things, economic security might be useful. But valuing a stable source of income will theoretically achieve luxury (which is simply the accumulation of wealth). I didn't miss the point of Con's argument, I simply addressed it at it's root: economic security doesn't limit someone, and even if it did, that doesn't show conflict (and thus has nothing to do with the debate). The argument Con makes is also circular. Therefore, his contention falls.

Response to Con Contention 3: I don't deviate from my standard, and I didn't claim that it's based on the individual. I simply pointed out a contradiction on Con's part. My point is that, while I and Con both agree that economic security and personal freedom are important and work together often times, the question of the resolution is explicitly which is more valuable in conflict. Whether one works well with the other has nothing to do with that. If we must choose between either one or the other, personal freedom allows for independence because it requires one to make decisions that will be responsible, while on the other side of the coin, economic security essentially encourages laziness, and thus dependence.

1. Borrowing is not a conflict, and 2. It's not an external actor. When you borrow money, you choose to value access to those goods and services. Obviously you choose to borrow money. Which is why you can't exercise your own personal freedom in order to value your personal freedom (that ends up in a circle, which we want to avoid, as it proves nothing).

When you value personal freedom over economic security, you can still survive, and have the ability to provide for yourself. But if you choose to have a stable income and throw away your free choice, that inherently leads to depending on whoever is giving you said stable income. Personal freedom forces you to be self-reliant. Also, economic security is a pragmatic value, personal freedom is intrinsic. Personal freedom is more valuable than economic security. Since I win both justifications, please vote Pro.


Since my opponent will be out of town this week, Round 3 will be the last round.

I'll address my opponent's rebuttals, and then reassert my rebuttals.

Contention 1: The quote that my opponent used was about Stalinist Russia. There are several things wrong with using Stalin as an example for this debate. First of all, how may people like Stalin have appeared throughout history? I know about only two, which means that the cases that my opponent mentions are quite rare. Second, Stalin's reign does not show a conflict of economic security and personal freedom. Because of Stalin's paranoia, the people of Russia would have been deprived of their freedom whether the USSR was a world power or not.

In the vast majority of cases, economic security does significantly affect quality of life. A simple example would be a millionaire's mansion compared with a slum dog's shack. Thus my contention still stands.

In response to my school analogy, my opponent claims that because some people can drop out of school and be successful, my reasoning is circular and not true in all cases. Even if this is so, my reasoning is true in the majority of cases. Thus my principle is upheld.

My opponent claims that if he were in jail, his material belongings would be useless. That may be so, but you are guaranteed survival in prison, whereas if you are penniless and out of prison, there is no saying whether you would survive. Remember, I said you were in a foreign country. I did not say whether or not they had programs to help the poor survive. If I were him, I would reassess my decision.

Contention 2: What I meant by this contention was that one's financial means are limited by one's economic security. Your personal freedom is limited by your financial means. My opponent has not addressed this. Notice that I don't give a situation here, because this contention is just a reason to choose economic security over personal freedom. My opponent says that this contention doesn't show conflict. I can say the same about both of his contentions.

Contention 3: I have already shown that borrowing money is a conflict between personal freedom and economic security. My opponent has not refuted my reasoning. Just because you choose to borrow money doesn't mean that borrowing is not a conflict of values.
From the borrowing example I concluded that personal freedom valued over economic security leads to a vicious cycle of debt and dependence on others. Pro has not refuted this conclusion.

Pro's contention 1: In any sort of conflict, the only one who can do the valuing is the subject of the conflict. Therefore Pros contention 1 falls. Pro has changed his contention from 'all arguments should be debated in the perspective of a third party' to 'the subject of a conflict should not be doing the valuing'.

Pro's contention 2: Economic security comes from work, but the workplace also robs you of some of your freedom. There is obviously conflict between economic security and personal freedom here, and most people choose economic security.
My opponent's version does not work. You don't lose economic security if you get a job. No matter what job you get, you always get a higher paycheck than the government gives you. When you get a job, you lose some of your freedom.

Pro's contention 3: Pro tries to refute my argument that economic security comes before personal freedom by citing impoverished nations as an example. The question is, is the personal freedom enjoyed by people of impoverished nations any use? There are few useful things that they are able to do, and each day hundreds of them die from disease.
Pro goes on to say that personal freedom is defined by how dependent you are on others. This definition does not agree with the definition he stated in Round 1, and I've already shown that a lack of economic security necessitates dependence on others.
Pro also says that not all values are inherently valuable but provides no explanation as to what inherent value is. He says that money is good only because of what it brings us. In Round 1 he states that economic security is "the condition of having a stable source of financial income that allows for access to basic infrastructure needs pertaining to health, education, dwelling, information, and social protection." Economic security is necessary for survival. By devaluing economic security, my opponent is devaluing life itself.


Because economic security is the foundation of a good life, is the limit of personal freedom, and allows independence, I urge a CON ballot.
Debate Round No. 3


darnocs1 forfeited this round.


merciless forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by darnocs1 7 years ago
If it's alright with you, merciless, could you make your last response the last argument of the debate? I am going out of town for a week, leaving on Monday, and won't be able to make the 3 day deadline. We can close up the round with your last argument, and then do the voting.
Posted by darnocs1 7 years ago
Apologies, I forgot to include the link to my source in the argument. Here it is:
Posted by darnocs1 7 years ago
Sure will!
Posted by merciless 7 years ago
Please post before Friday 1 pm so I have time to respond before the weekend.
Posted by innomen 7 years ago
definitely need more socialists on this site. Unfortunately they tend to not like having their beliefs challenged.
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