Resolved: It is morally permissible for victims to use deadly force as a deliberate response to repeated domestic violence
I’m thinking about writing and publishing briefs. So, before reading the topic analysis, if you could please take a second to answer the poll below, I would appreciate it. Thanks!
I am surprised to see this topic recycled so soon, and without any current world justification for it. Alas, such is the situation and as such I shall once again provide a topic breakdown.
Let’s begin with terms and definitions.
victims, deadly force, deliberate response, repeated domestic violence (remember how nouns are constructed in debate)
is, use (not important to define)
Victims – The definition for this term seems obvious. Naturally, the person getting beaten or attacked is the victim of the domestic violence. However, in the past, people have attempted to argue that children and other family members can also be included in the definition of “victims.” Therefore, the affirmative must defend the position that other people can also kill the attacker. DON’T DO THIS! This is stupid and abusive, not to mention against the intent of the resolution. It is also a very easy argument to counter and not very convincing to judges in general. The victim is the person being attacked, end of story.
***As another note, some people attempted to point out that the resolution never specifies the target of the deadly force. The abused woman could go kill the bartender that served her alcoholic husband. What then? Again, please don’t do this. The resolution intends the target of the deadly force to be the abuser, however poorly worded the topic may be.***
Deadly Force – Deadly force is force that kills. Do not fall into the trap of debating the eventualities when the target doesn’t actually die, like a gunshot to the leg or shoulder. Just assume the force will kill. Otherwise, there is really no point in debating.
Deliberate Response – The purpose of making the force deliberate is to eliminate accidental killings due to self defense. If a victim reacts to being attacked and kills the attacker without actually intending to do so, then the situation falls outside the resolution. The victim must intend to kill the attacker. Therefore, the deliberate response is intentional and controlled.
Repeated Domestic Violence – Do not make this more complicated than it has to be. Like “in need,” we all have a basic understanding of what repeated domestic violence is. A person in a relationship is continually beaten and abused time and time again. Just find a legitimate source which corresponds to the common understanding of the term, and stick the definition in your case.
Morally Permissible – This is the most important definition in the debate, and it will not be defined with the rest of the terms. Rather, you must use your value structure to show how we determine whether or not something is morally permissible. Like the previous resolution asked you to determine where our moral obligations come from, this one asks you to determine how we determine the morality of an action.
With the definitions addressed, let’s talk about some potential case positions. Remember, the crux of any position is a solid framework which provides a way to evaluate the morality of actions.
Self Defense – Our morals come from the rights claims we agree upon when we form the social contract. According to Hobbes, the only right which we cannot sacrifice completely is the right to self defense. If one’s life is threatened, he/she has the absolute right to defend, and the aggressor effectively sacrifices their right to life by threatening that of another. Repeated domestic violence can be said to actually threaten the victim’s life. It traps them in such a cycle of physical and psychological damage, that it effectively robs them of their life. Therefore, their deliberate use of deadly force to escape the situation is morally permissible. To make it more explicit, suppose the person has been captured by a serial killer. The serial killer continually rapes and beats the victim for several years before killing them. Would we not admit that it is morally permissible for the victim to use deadly force to escape the situation? Why is repeated domestic violence any different?
Vigilante Justice – It is morally permissible for individuals in society to react accordingly when government fails. In the case of repeated domestic violence, it is impossible for government to come up with an adequate response because this violence occurs in the private domain. Justice systems the world over have failed to develop appropriate recourse systems which efficiently and adequately respond to domestic violence. It is impossible to record the goings on in every home to protect against this crime. Therefore, it falls upon the victim to react. This is the same reason we retain the right to bear arms.
Alternatives Exist – Options which harm people become morally impermissible when less harmful options exist. Victims of repeated domestic violence can seek recourse to the legal system or escape through the use of non-deadly force. Debilitating non-deadly force can be used as an effective method for the victim to incapacitate the attacker and escape to seek the help of authorities.
Disproportionate Rights Violation – Our moral system exists because of the rights claims we make against each other. According to John Locke, the social contract develops as a result of people wanting to coexist with one another and therefore agreeing individually that they will not violate rights in exchange for not having their own rights violated. Therefore, the only appropriate retribution is that which is equivalent to the rights which have been violated to begin with. Taking life is not proportional to the rights violation which occurs as a result of repeated domestic violence. Though the victim may be robbed of liberty and happiness, they still have the opportunity to regain it because they are alive. Life provides the opportunity to exercise all other rights, and therefore, it is more valuable than all other rights. A victim’s use of deadly force would therefore be disproportionate and morally impermissible.