Resolved: The United States ought to provide a universal basic income.

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Resolved: The United States ought to provide a universal basic income.

This is a good topic. It’s phrased how topics should actually be phrased, and it isn’t weighted heavily toward one side. There is actually a debate to be had here. So let’s talk about it!

Definitions

Universal basic income – A UBI is an unconditional amount of money guaranteed to people designed to cover their cost of living. The money is given without any additional requirements placed on it.

Ought – Remember that your job is to explain how we decide what the U.S. government ought to do, id god,so you need to make sure your framework accounts for that.

Affirmative

1. Veil of Ignorance – Rawls developed a model of evaluating social distributions known as the original position or veil of ignorance. He argues that all such decisions should be made by a body which has no biases. Basically, you must pretend like you could wake up tomorrow and be anyone in society, with any socioeconomic status.best fake id, From behind this veil, a universal basic income seems like a great idea. Who wouldn’t vote for that?

2. Utilitarianism – There’s a pretty obvious utility argument to be made. A UBI provides the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people because it takes care of those who are most in need.

3. Aristotelian Virtue Ethics – Aristotle described cultivating virtue as central to having a just society. Virtues exist as the mean between two extremes. One could easily contend that a UBI is the virtuous course of action, lying between the extremes of providing people nothing or a lot.

Negative

1. Economic Justice – All types of justice rely on the idea that people get what they deserve, or ought to of. Contending that people deserve an income just because they exist is difficult. What gives them the right to a universal basic income?

2. Property Rights – The UBI needs to come from somewhere; money doesn’t just materialize. It would likely require higher taxes on everyone else to provide for this. This is a direct violation of property rights. Unlike other things which taxes are spent on,id chief. most taxpayers will not see a benefit from the UBI. It’s also tough to claim that a UBI can function as a claim on others.

3. Moral Conflict – This is more of a complicated position. Basically, the argument here is the only way to get U.S. society to provide a UBI is to not provide a UBI. It will force the necessary moral conflict to get society into a place where a UBI becomes acceptable. Providing a UBI does not allow for the development of society’s morality to be able to accept the change. Moral conflict is good for moral progress, and income gaps increase moral conflict.

Resolved: In United States public K-12 schools, the probable cause standard ought to apply to searches of students

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Resolved: In United States public K-12 schools, the probable cause standard ought to apply to searches of students

This topic seems interesting, and it should be, if it’s debated properly. The landscape is pretty broad and allows for a lot of direct clash. There are also some interesting questions about where the Constitution does and does not extend to, the answers to which could be use to frame a pretty dynamic debate.

Definitions

k – 12 schools – Pretty straightforward, this includes all K-12 schools, public and private. We’re also excluding all post-secondary education like colleges and technical schools.

Probable Cause Standard – This is the 4th amendment standard used to determine if an officer can conduct a search of a person. The officer must have probable cause to suspect that a crime has occurred, at which point a prior warrant is no longer required to search an individual’s person. For example, if the officer sees blood on the hands of someone during the search for a murderer, then that is probable cause to detain and search that person. Do not get caught up in debating what is and is not probable cause; that is not the issue in this resolution.

Searches of students – This includes all searches – lockers, person, vehicles, etc… The affirmative and negative positions must both apply categorically.

Case Positions

Pro

1. Constitutionality – Despite what many people think, public institutions like schools are not beyond the reach of the U.S. Constitution. The probable cause standard is a constitutionally guaranteed protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, and it extends everywhere. It is unconstitutional to exclude students from this protection.

2. Moral Precedent – Student’s learn much more in school than just what they’re taught in class. A large part of their moral development also occurs in those hallways. If students are subjected to searches, then we establish a moral precedent that this type of policing is OK, and we create a generation of people who will be on the dangerous cusp of a slippery slope descending into a police state.

3. Reason – There is no compelling reason not to have the probable cause standard. Why would a search of a student be conducted otherwise? The only justification to search would be if you suspected the student of a crime, in which case there is probable cause. It would be pretty ludicrous to just start searching students for no reason.

Con

1. Constitutionality – The U.S. Constitution does not completely extend to public institutions like schools. There are special limitations in schools on things like speech in order to preserve safety and the sanctuary of the public space. To that end, the probable cause standard does not actually apply to students in schools.

2. Political Citizenship – Minors are not political citizens yet, and as such, the full protections from searches and seizures do not extend to them. They do not have the same political or economic rights as adults, and as such, there isn’t a justification to apply to probable cause standard to them.

3. Less Stringent Standard – Because safety concerns ought to be higher for children, a less stringent standard is more appropriate. The probable cause standard does not offer the appropriate flexibility for students to be searched if a security threat is suspected. Officials need to be able to respond quickly and with limited restrictions in order to ensure the safety of students.

Resolved: Countries ought to prohibit the production of nuclear power

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Resolved: Countries ought to prohibit the production of nuclear power

I can’t even begin to describe how terrible this topic is. If this is any indication of what’s going to be upcoming, then it’s going to be a terribly rough year. We have to debate it, though, so let’s see what we can come up with.

Definitions

Countries – It’s important to note that this refers to a country’s government. A “country” has no ability to prohibit or permit anything. Rather, its government does. Don’t get bogged down in what this term might mean. It’s pretty obvious.

Ought to prohibit – This is the crux of the case. The resolution is asking a question of what a country should, so your framework must answer the question of how we determine what a country should do, or more specifically, how we determine what a country should prohibit.

Nuclear power – This includes nuclear power in all its forms. The resolution does not specify just nuclear weapons, so if you’re advocating for a prohibition, you’re advocating for a complete prohibition. The neg, however, does not need to fully negate all forms of nuclear power. As long as some nuclear power is permissible, the negative is fulfilling it’s burden of negation.

Case Positions

Affirmative

1. Security – Any government’s first obligation is to the security of its people. Nuclear power has time and time again shown to be destructive, whether used in weaponry or as civilian energy. It does not provide enough utility to offset the security concerns either. Because it harms security, nuclear power ought to be prohibited.

2. Economics – Particularly when it comes to energy productions, government must do what is in the economic interests of the nation. Nuclear energy has proven to be a poor investment. The up front construction costs, along with other costs, are not offset by the energy production provided, especially considering that nuclear reactors do, at some point, need to be decommissioned.

Negative

1. Progress – A government’s obligation is to promote the progress of its society. The best way to achieve progress is through moral conflict, and the promotion of nuclear energy causes just that. Allowing nuclear power production to continue will spur research into alternative and sustainable energy sources by forcing people for confront harsh realities about society’s energy needs and the dangers associated with meeting those needs through the use of nuclear power.

2. Security and MAD – In a nuclear world, the only way to truly ensure security is through mutually assured destruction. As long as everyone has nuclear weapons, nobody will use them because all governments are self interested parties concerned with their own preservation. Therefore, to be the most secure, governments ought to encourage the development of nuclear weapons rather than prohibit nuclear power.

I hope that helps. Good luck!

Resolved: Developing countries should prioritize environmental protection over resource extraction when the two are in conflict.

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Resolved: Developing countries should prioritize environmental protection over resource extraction when the two are in conflict.

This topic is so boring. I’d like to know what tree huggers managed to weasel their way onto the committee and get this topic in the list. I rarely say things like this, and by that I mean, I almost always say things like this, but the topic sucks. Despite its massive suckage, though, we must forge ahead and conduct an analysis so that we can conquer all who oppose us on the battlefield of debate. Let’s get started 🙂

Definitions

1. Developing countries – As the term is understood, a developing country is a country that does not meet Western nation’s basic concept of standard of living. Developing countries struggle with economic development, technological advancement, and internal strife. They are often typified by poverty, high illiteracy rates, and corrupt governments. You know what developing countries are, so don’t try to claim that every country is technically “developing.”

2. Prioritize – This term has been used in a number of resolutions before. Prioritization is simple. If you prioritize something, you choose that thing over something else when you’re faced with the choose.

3. Environmental Protection – Simply put, this is protection of the environment. Environmental protection entails taking care of the earth, preserving nature, and generally protecting the environment from destruction.

4. Resource extraction – This means extracting resources. In the context of the resolution, you’re probably most concerned with activities like oil drilling, fracking, mining, cutting down forests, and other generally destructive tasks.

Case Positions

Negative

1. Governmental Legitimacy – A government is only legitimate if it fulfills its obligations under the social contract. The government has no obligation to the environment, since the environment was not a party in the contract. The government’s obligation is to protect and provide for its people, and since the nation is still developing, it is implicit that those obligations have not yet been met. Resources are vital for a government to be able to carry out these obligations. If the government does not prioritize resource extraction, it will be unable to remain legitimate.

2. Utilitarianism – Prioritizing resource extraction leads to the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Developing nations need resources for basic infrastructure creation like running water systems, roads, electricity generation, hospital building, etc… In the modern world, it’s almost impossible to extract such resources without harming the environment, so when the two come into conflict, extraction must be prioritized to achieve what is best for the people.

Affirmative

1. The World is Flat – Developing nations do not need to worry about environmentally dangerous resource production. Increasing globalization has made it possible for developing nations to readily acquire resources for which they would otherwise need to destroy the environment. Prioritizing resource extraction results in carrying out unnecessary violence to our environment, which is a moral offense.

2. Necessity Leads to Progress – Earth will eventually run out of resources, and it will be necessary for the human race to figure something out. If nations begin prioritizing environmental protection, it will spark ingenuity which will provide energy solutions more readily. Human history demonstrates that people innovate best and most efficiently when there is a desperate need for innovation. This is why wars lead to such tremendous technological innovations. If governments refuse to extract resources, then people will be forced to innovate.

I hope this helps get you started. Good luck!

Resolved: The U.S. government should not require its citizens to have health insurance.

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Resolved: The U.S. government should not require its citizens to have health insurance.

Why? Why do these topics continue to get worse and worse? I thought the new generations of kids were supposed to be getting dumber, not the adults! AGH! I mean, really though, who’s voting for these topics? How do they win? Who writes them? There is clearly some shady conspiracy going on to turn debate into a vacuum of nonsense. Ugh, I guess we just have to deal with it. So let’s do it.

Definitions

1. U.S. Government – We all know what the U.S. government is. People will inevitably try to make a distinction between the state and national government. In reality, it’s actually irrelevant. The resolution is asking you to argue the principle of the thing, not for a specific level of government.

2. Require – When the government requires its citizens to do something, that means it imposes some sort of punishment for not doing such thing. The content of this punishment is irrelevant to the resolution. You can assume that the government will not execute people for not having healthcare, and don’t let people try to get abusive with this. Again, the resolution is asking you to talk about the principle of requiring people to have health insurance rather than the actual content of what that would look like.

3. Citizens – We all also know what a citizen is. Being a citizen entails a legal status, not just that a person lives in the U.S. The reason the resolution uses this word is so that the Con doesn’t have to support illegal immigrants being required to have health insurance.

4. Health Insurance – Health insurance refers to the concept of a person paying a certain amount into a pool, and the pool pays costs for medical care and/or treatment if you should need it. Again, the form this takes does not matter. This resolution is not about the government providing universal healthcare. It’s about the government punishing people who do not have health insurance, like they do with car insurance.

Potential Positions

Con

1. Health Insurance is Good – It’s a fact that people who have health insurance end up better off. If there preventive examinations and consultations are paid for, people are more like to go in and get checked up. Requiring people to have health insurance will improve the overall health of the country. The long term result is that less and less people will actually have health associated costs, so healthcare spending will decrease.

2. A Health Insurance Requirement Stops People From Being Stupid – There is a large portion of the population that doesn’t get health insurance for reasons other than not being able to afford it. These people are jeopardizing their lives. If the situation were ever to arise that they would need medical care, they would not be able to get it because of an inability to pay. There’s a reason the government requires people to have auto insurance, and the reason reason holds true for health insurance as well.

Pro

1. The Requirement Won’t Have Any Significant Impact – People who don’t have health insurance will not be suddenly motivated to get it because of some government requirement. They will still abuse the emergency care system as they always have. A requirement doesn’t suddenly make health insurance affordable, nor does it motivate people to pay for something they don’t feel they need.

2. Individual Rights – Every person has a right not to have health insurance. By not getting health insurance, I am only endangering my life and nobody else’s. Therefore, I should have the ability to forego health insurance if I should choose. It’s not the government’s place to tell me how to manage my life.

I hope this helps you get started.

Resolved: The United States is justified in intervening in the internal political processes of other countries to attempt to stop human rights abuses.

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Resolved: The United States is justified in intervening in the internal political processes of other countries to attempt to stop human rights abuses.

The trend of poorly worded resolutions continues. This one leaves an unending void for abuse and sketchy definitions. That being said, it’s what we have to work with, so let’s get to it.

Definitions

Justified – Justified means that there is good reason to do something. This good reason can either be something like a moral obligation which is more important than any other consideration, or it can simply mean that the positive outcomes outweigh the negative outcomes. This will be the hinge of you case. You must determine what it means for a government’s action to be justified. This is where your value structure will come from.

Intervening in the internal political processes of other countries – Here’s where the vacuum for abuse appears. With the way the resolution is currently worded, the affirmative needs to defend all actions which can interfere with the internal political processes of other countries. This includes military invasion, nuclear strike, assassinations, embargoes, election engineering, and essentially all other things. If you’re on the affirmative, I recommend dealing with this using an observation. Just say that you’re arguing for the principle of intervention, not necessarily any particular action. The actual form of the intervention will depend on the particular situation. Some situations may call for negotiations, while others may call for military invasion. What you’re essentially saying is, if the situation calls for a particular type of intervention, then the U.S. is justified in carrying it out.

Human rights abuses – Don’t try to get complicated with this part of the resolution. We all know what human rights abuses are, and there are plenty of historical examples to draw upon. People will try to make the affirmative defend absurd things like high taxes as part of human rights abuses. Don’t fall for it, and just call them out on their shenanigans.

Attempt – This word is important because people will try to abuse it to say that the affirmative doesn’t need to consider the outcome of the intervention because it’s just an attempt. It’s irrelevant whether or not it succeeds. While this may be technically true, you should pay attention to the affirmative’s case. They will likely be arguing a consequentialist position. This means that they must consider the likely outcome in the calculation of whether or not to invade.

Alright, with those definitions set, let’s talk about case positions.

Affirmative

1. Just War Theory – Just war theory dictates that cases of human rights abuses merit intervention by those who have the ability to do so. Because just war provides us justification for the most dramatic for of intervention, military invasion, it necessarily provides justification for all other forms of intervention. Therefore, the United States in justified in these interventions.

2. Self Interest – Human rights abuses occurring across the world are a threat to the United States. Regimes which carry out human rights crimes also often promote anti-U.S. sentiment and action. If these regimes and political processes are stopped, the U.S. will not only be helping those whose rights are being violated, but it will also be helping itself.

3. Moral Obligation – Peter Singer contends that if we are in a position to help somebody without sacrificing anything of comparable value to us, then we are morally obligated to do so. The scale of human rights violations occurring across the world puts the United States in this position. Because the U.S. is in a position to end these human rights abuses, it is incumbent upon it do so.

Negative

1. Governmental Legitimacy – While human rights abuses may be terrible, the U.S. is not justified in unilateral action. In order to remain legitimate, and preserve the legitimacy of international contract, the U.S. must go through the United Nations in order to conduct any intervention. Unilateral action violates international convenants which preserve governmental legitimacy.

2. Likelihood of Success – One of the key elements of Just War Theory is that an intervention must have a reasonable chance of success. History demonstrates that political interventions of any form are not likely to succeed. They often end up causing more damage than they prevent. Because the reasonable chance of success condition isn’t met, the U.S. has no justification for conducting these interventions.

3. Self – Determination – Every peoples has the right to self determination. When the U.S. intervenes, it inevitably violates that right by imposing ideas and rules on a people who have not elected to have those rules put upon them. The only way a country can truly attain stability is if the people decide their own fate. The U.S. needs to stay out of the business of other countries to preserve the rights of global citizens.

Resolved: On balance, the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission harms the election process.

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Resolved: On balance, the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission harms the election process.

This topic is awful, so much so that I didn’t even feel like finding a witty cartoon to put in this post. The topic doesn’t even ask you to assess the merits of of the ruling, but the impact it has had on the election process. Enough time hasn’t passed for you to have adequate evidence to address the impact, nor is it possible to draw any sort of reasonable causal distinction. This is going to lead to terrible off topic debates. To everyone who voted for this topic, wtf were you thinking?

Ok, with that ranting introduction over, let’s actually talk about this nonsense.

Definitions

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission – This is the only important definition in this resolution. Everything else is straightforward. What did the ruling do? There’s actually a lot to it, but the gist is that it allows for corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts of money toward convincing people to vote for a particular candidate. My advice to you is to actually read the entire opinion available here.

Potential Case Positions

Pro

1. Increased Block Voting – Unions have spent a noticeably greater amount of money since the ruling, and union members have voted more homogeneously. This demonstrates the advent of voting blocks rather than independent thoughtful voting. The results of this is increased political divisiveness as people increasingly vote on partisan lines as opposed to voting on the merits of the candidates’ positions and ideas.

2. Increased Non-Voter Influence – Interest groups like unions and corporations do not vote. While election decisions affect them, candidates are supposed to represent the people. Since the ruling, a number of non-voter interests have enacted initiatives which can be characterized as “buying votes” for the candidate of their choice. This has negatively impacted the election process by not only decreasing its legitimacy but also removing the representation of the people.

Con

1. Nothing Has Changed – There is no evidence to suggest that the election process is different in any noticeable way. Unions and corporations aren’t doing anything differently than they have done in the past, and voter allegiances have not dramatically shifted.

2. More Political Activity – Avenues for political education and awareness have become more effective since the removal of funding limits. The ruling has enable previously silent interests to become more active, which has allowed for a more vibrant political landscape, which is always a good thing.

I hope this helps give you some kind of start for this horrendous topic. Good luck finding evidence and analyzing it.

Resolved: The United States should prioritize tax increases over spending cuts.

Resolved: The United States should prioritize tax increases over spending cuts.

Wow, what is with all these terrible topics? The vagueness in this topic alone should have been enough for the NFL to reject it, particularly for a PF topic. Not to mention, this topic is horrendously weighted for the Con. Like all the other crap, however, we’re stuck with it, so let’s get down to business.

Important Terms and Definitions

The United States – Don’t let anyone tell you that this refers to anything other than the federal government. That’s what we’re talking about, not state governments.

Should – This is the crux of your case. You must understand how to determine what a government should prioritize, and you must use that understanding to build your contentions.

Prioritize – If you’re on the pro, here is the scenario for you: You have to pick between tax increases and spending cuts. You think tax increases are better. Prove it. This is what prioritization means, end of story.

Tax Increases and Spending Cuts – These terms are so vague. Where are we cutting spending? What does the tax increase look like? The terribad phrasing here not only precludes that all tax increases/spending are equal, but it also asks you to determine a philosophical difference as opposed to a practical one. Has the NFL forgotten that this is PF? As far as a definition is concerned, we all know what tax increases and spending cuts are. Your job is to understand how they manifest in particular segments of the economy (defense, welfare systems, healthcare, energy, etc…) In your case, I would advise against going into specifics regarding particular sectors, but be prepared for abusive arguments which do such things.

Potential Case Positions

Pro

1. Efficiency of Tax Increases – A government’s priorities ought to be determined by what is the most efficient option for accomplishing its goals. Tax increases are more efficient than spending cuts. Pragmatically speaking, they are easier to push through congress because they are not subject to as much quibbling as spending reform. Taxes are the most direct for of revenue for the federal government, and the rich can definitely afford to pay more in taxes.

2. Effectiveness of Tax Increases – A government should do what is most effective in accomplishing its goals. While spending cuts may help us save money, they do not allow us to direct funds toward new initiatives which will help rebuild our economy. The new educational and healthcare initiatives which are now being put into place require money.

Con

1. Tax Increases are Unnecessary – We spend more on defense than the next 27 countries combined. We spend more per capita on healthcare than any other nation, and we’re in the top 10 per capita spending on education. We clearly don’t need more money. We need to spend it more wisely. If we fixed our government programs and allocated money more appropriately, increased taxes would be unnecessary.

2. Tax Increases Harm Small Business – This is a fairly obvious point. If we increase taxes, it makes it more difficult for small businesses to operate. Small businesses are a large driving for economic growth and success, and we really shouldn’t hinder them.

3. Spending Cuts are More Effective – Spending cuts don’t happen often, but when they do, they show remarkable results. The $200 billion decrease in military spending had an immediate positive impact on the economy that few people talk about. Harlem Children’s Zone is another great example of how managed spending can still yield good results and outcomes. Throwing money at problems doesn’t fix them. If stop spending as much money, it forces us to evaluate how to spend it most effectively.

This should be good to get you started. As always, feel free to post comments and such.

Resolved: Individuals Have a Moral Obligation to Assist People in Need

This is a great topic! It is a throw back to the good ol’ days of LD Debate when arguments were not confined by the rigid constraints of the real world but were actually debated on metaphysical territory, as they should be. So, let’s take a look into the topic and see what questions arise and which ones we can begin formulating answers for. Keep in mind that this is not a comprehensive analysis of this topic like you would find coming from Victory Briefs. Instead, this is an overview designed to get you thinking about the issues the topic raises.

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

It is important to begin with a grammatical analysis of any topic to understand the parts of the sentence which are important.

Nouns: individuals, people, moral obligation

Verbs: have, assist

Adjectives: in need

As you can see, terms are defined slightly differently when it comes to debate resolutions. Moral, for example, is not an adjective which describes a type of obligation. Rather, ‘moral obligation’ is a noun, taking on a different identity of its own entirely. It is improper to delineate the two and attempt to discover how our morals lead to obligations. Instead, we should look to where our moral obligations come from on the whole. The former method of examination already presupposes that our moral obligations originate from our morals, and so we inevitably end up trying to derive sources of our morality instead of deriving sources for our moral obligations.

The second important term to examine is assist. What precisely does it mean for someone to assist someone else? Do our obligations extend as far as putting our own lives at risk to save the lives of others? How much are we obligated to sacrifice of ourselves?

The final important term is in need. Again, the two words are not separated here. Rather, they comprise an entirely new adjective which describes a type of person. So, what is a person in need? People suffering from genocide are distinct from those involved in civil war, who are distinct from impoverished people, who are distinct from orphans, etc… Granted, these categories can intersect, but is there a need to separate them? The scope and type of assistance provided to each can be radically different. What if you don’t agree with the cause of the people? Are anti-Tamil elements obligated to help Tamils in Sri Lanka?

These are the term definitions which need to be addressed. My take on the resolution essentially ignores these nuances because the implications do not change the argument. Whether a person gives their life or gives some money, the point does not change that they are obligated to give something. Also, the object of any assistance would be to create an overall positive impact, so if the self-sacrifice is absurd, the goal is not really achieved. Continually, when examining the question of someone in need, it is more proper to examine regions or populations than it is to examine specific people or nations. For example, the Middle East is in need of assistance as opposed to a solitary Palestinian being in need. This prevents the issue of supporting specific causes, and rather institutes common goals like peace and justice. Therefore, the key to avoiding squirrelly arguments and abusive definitions/counter-arguments is to universalize things. This will be more important in rebuttals than in case construction because some people will undoubtedly attempt to corner you.

With those issues out of the way, the only thing left is the issue of moral obligations. This is the crux of this resolution. In order to debate the topic, you must adopt and argue for an origin point for moral obligations. Essentially, the resolution is asking you where you think our moral obligations come from and whether that means we have a moral obligation to assist people in need or not. So let’s talk about some sources of our moral obligations and the implications they have for the resolution.

The Social Contract – Our moral framework as individuals comes from the social contract. There are several philosophers which address the social contract and how it operates. The two most common philosophers referenced in LD are Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. The troubling thing is that these two individuals are often mentioned synonymously though their renditions of the contract are entirely different. For Locke, individuals have claims against each other because they are morally good and seek to promote the betterment of society. So, I don’t kill somebody because I recognize that everyone should have their life protected, as should I. If this is true, this means that we indeed have a moral obligation to help others in need because we deserve to be helped when we are in need. This principle leads to the betterment of society, and so a moral obligation arises. Hobbes, on the other hand, contends that humans are self-interested evil creatures. Therefore, we sacrifice all our rights to a sovereign (government, dictator, whatever), and that sovereign decides upon a fair system of obligations and punishments that everyone abides by. The extension of this point is that the sovereign cannot institue a punishment for not being altruistic because there is no corresponding right which is surrendered to the sovereign. Therefore, no moral obligation arises.

Natural Rights – Everyone is due natural rights, so our moral system ought to be based upon doing whatever maximizes natural rights. This means that, societally speaking, we have an obligation to help other people because it promotes life, liberty, and property/pursuit of happiness. Because inidividuals comprise society, this means that these obligation falls upon the individuals. On the other hand, there is the autonomy argument on the negative side. If we force people to be altruistic, we violate their autonomy. This argument can be made, but the impact is difficult to make. So what if we violate autonomy? It isn’t absolute anyway. We don’t let people yell fire in a crowded theatre because it risks peoples’ lives. Autonomy can be limited when its exercise causes more harm than good. So why not limit it in this case to prevent harm to people and promote societal welfare and such?

Utilitarianism – In this case, our sense of morality is derived from an ethical system. So, whichever course of action promotes the greatest good for the greatest number of people is the moral option. This is easy to argue on the affirmative side. If helping people in need promotes the greatest good for the greatest number (as is entailed by the word “helping”), the we have a moral obligation to do so. On the other hand, if helping people in need is actually more harmful, then we ought not to do it. I am also not a fan of this argument at all. It ignores the actual value clash in the resolution. The resolution is not asking which side has more benefits. In fact, the resolution assumes that the affirmative has more benefits. It is asking whether or not these benefits merit making altruism an obligation. Nevertheless, it is still a defensible position; I’m just not a big fan of it.

The Categorical Imperative – In order for an action to be moral, it must meet the three maxims of Kant’s categorical imperative. This can also be run on either the affirmative or the  negative side. On the affirmative, we can argue that we could definitely will helping people in need to be a universal law, and it doesn’t treat people as a means to an end only. On the negative, we can argue that altruism can never be universally willed because of its extremes, and that it treats people as a means to the end of their own betterment (effectively claiming inferiority of their moral judgment).

Anyway, these are just a few of the basic systems of moral evaluation that can be used when arguing this resolution. What I have seen a lot of is people using Singer and Korsgaard. While these two are very intelligent and well regarded modern thinkers, they actually do not provide logical justifications for their arguments. Singer argues that one is morally obligated to help others if he/she does not have to sacrifice anything of comparable worth. Yet, he never explains why this obligation exists. He claims that one’s moral worth increases, but again, he never proves why this is the case. The same can be said for Korsgaard on the opposite side of the argument. I would admonish debaters to stay away from modern thinkers as they do not develop actually systems of moral evaluation but rather solitary arguments without much solid grounding. Instead, LD debaters should understand how moral systems operate and develop cases built around a particular moral system, as that is what the resolution is really asking of them.