Resolved: In the United States, national service ought to be compulsory

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Resolved: In the United States, national service ought to be compulsory

Who’s excited to start off another year? Fortunately, this first topic is a good one. It actually leaves room for some debating and limits the potential for abuse. So let’s dive in.


National Service – This refers to a person working for the government in any capacity. Most commonly, national service occurs in the form of military service, but serving a position for the government in any capacity can also count. The key will be building a position that can encompass all national service, and not just military service

Compulsory – Compulsory means required or mandatory. In the case of this resolution, this would mean that everyone, at some point in their lives, would be required by law to carry out some national service

Ought – Simply, ought means should. It implies an obligation. In this case, the agent of action is the government, so the framework of your case will need to revolve around how we determine what governments ought to do


1. Utilitarianism – A simple utilitarian calculus concludes that mandatory national service is a good thing. It offers the opportunity for younger graduates and individuals to gain experience while also contributing to the community/country. It gives us a new division of workers to complete tasks and services that would not otherwise be completed. And it will also likely create a more compassionate and considerate population. It’s a good thing all around.

2. Categorical Imperative – This question passes all three maxims of the categorical imperative. Particularly, we can envision the universalizability of this principle, as well contending that compulsory service strives toward a number of ends in the kingdom of ends.

3. Rights – With rights come corresponding obligations. In order to earn positive rights such as voting, welfare, etc…, one must complete the corresponding obligation to the government and society which affords the person these rights. Such an obligation can be completed in the form of compulsory national service, thus making the rights afforded to citizens less arbitrary.


1. Constitutionality – One could argue that compulsory national service is unconstitutional and violates the 13th Amendment which prohibits slavery or involuntary servitude.

2. Social Contract/Right to Life – The only right which can be said to be absolutely retained under any social contract is the right to life. Compulsory service is a direct violation of this right. Because it impedes a person liberty/autonomy, it destroys their governance over their own life, thus violating their most inherent and important right.

3. No Compelling Affirmation – The reality is that there is no compelling reason to institute national service. There is no evidence which demonstrates consistent positive outcomes, nor can a theoretical argument be sustained for its advantages. To claim that the government ought to do something despite there being no compelling reason to do so is absurdity.

Hope that helps get you started. Good luck!

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