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)


morally permissible


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.


157 responses to “Resolved: It is morally permissible for victims to use deadly force as a deliberate response to repeated domestic violence

    • Hi Morgan,

      Thanks for reading and contributing. I am not here to provide you with specific values and criteria for your case. The positions I provided in the post are general case frameworks you can use which will run throughout your analysis. The job of the value structure, in short, is to tell the judge what is the most important thing you want to achieve and how you’re going to get there, or how you’re going to measure it. For example, take the typical value structure of Justice and Protection of Human Rights. The idea is that justice is the most important thing we want to achieve, and we get there primarily by protecting human rights. The contentions would then analyze how the resolution does or does not allow for the protection of human rights.

      So for these case positions, you have to ask yourself what you’re trying to achieve. Take the vigilante justice position for example. You have to ask yourself why vigilante justice is morally permissible. What does it allow us to achieve? This will be your value. Your value criterion can definitely be vigilante justice, but you should still ask yourself what vigilante justice is. Is it a right? Is it a protection of some sort? The answers to those questions can also be your value criterion. Feel free to post potential value structures, and I will be happy to give feedback.

      • well, if i use my criterion of protecting human rights, how can i back that up? like, how can i prove that self defense is a legitimate right? for example, if i say we have the right to life, i can use locke’s natural to back it up, so if i don’t have a philosophy/philosopher backing me up, my opponent can just say, “well since you’re just making up that we have this natural right we can’t consider it.” Right? sorry, I’m a novice. so i’m still kind of trying to get a hold of how things work in LD

      • Hi Sibi,

        There’s no need to apologize; I’m here to help. Let’s take a look at your proposed case first. The contentions and value structure work well together. However, you will need to make sure your definitions are good, and you leave yourself with a lot to prove. How do you define justice and self defense? What if the victim’s life isn’t under threat? Then is it morally permissible for the victim to use deadly force? Also, take particular care with your 3rd contention to prove why police alternatives, non-lethal force, and escape are not viable options.

        As far as justifying why self-defense is a right, both Locke and Hobbes can help you out. Learn about social contract theory and the rights claims we make against one another. That will help you understand how self defense can be a right. You can also claim that self defense is necessary for justice because we can’t truly have our right to life protected if we do not have the right to self defense.

        I suggest writing your contentions first if you are having trouble with your value structure. It helps some people to do it that way because they can see a common theme running throughout their contentions and use that to build the value structure.

    • Don’t focus on the V and VC first. Develop a framework and understanding of the resolution, like the ones I’ve provided, and build your contentions around it. That will make it much easier to develop a value structure because you will be able to see what you’re trying to get to and how you’re getting there.

      • Ok that makes sense my coach is saying that justice cant be served because it’s not selfdefense it’s first degree murder because it was thought on and then deliberate means thought about and makes it first degree. ¿Right? But then self defense is limited to not killing… I’m going to base my argument on the definitions and prove her wrong… So any help woul be appreciated and thanks for actualy takeing your time to do it’s for the topic and debaters

      • Your coach may or may not be correct in saying that it is not self defense. Can self defense be deliberate? You have to answer that question. When I debated the resolution, I found neurological evidence which argued that actions performed in self defense are not completely deliberate. They are reactionary, just like when you put your hand on a hot stove. You immediately draw it back without thinking about what you’re doing. However, there is evidence which suggests otherwise as well.

        That being said, premeditated murder is unjust under U.S. law. Does the resolution ask you to evaluate justice using the doctrines of U.S. law? Or does it ask you to morally evaluate an action? You must determine first how we evaluate the morality of actions. How do we determine if something is moral? Once you answer that, you can use that framework to evaluate the victim’s deliberate use of deadly force.

        Also, self defense is not necessarily limited to not killing. You can kill in self defense, like if you shoot someone to stop them from shooting you.

        My advice to you is to avoid focusing on the definitions. Don’t focus so much on what it means for something to be deliberate and such. Focus more on the principle which the resolution asks you to examine. If someone is the victim of repeated domestic violence (which we have a decent understanding of), is it ok for them to kill their abuser?

        It may help you to look into virtue ethics (Aristotle) and vigilante justice philosophy. The ideas regarding reflective equilibrium can also be useful. Coherence philosophy can make a strong affirmative or negative position. Check out the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy for good summaries of all of these. There is a link to it in the third column of the site.

        And you are welcome 🙂 It is my pleasure to help out.

    • Well, virtue, or virtue ethics, is a system you can use to evaluate whether or not an action is moral. Aristotle developed a mechanism to evaluate actions and individual characteristics to see if they are proper. I won’t tell you what the system is, because you should research virtue ethics and learn it on your own. You will build the system into your value structure, and then your contentions will evaluate whether or not the victim’s actions satisfy your evaluative mechanism.

    • Notice I did not give you a definition of vigilante justice. Vigilante justice is essentially people taking the law into their own hands. I gave you a framework you can use to argue in favor of vigilante justice. It is up to you to find your definitions and specific philosophical references.

    • That’s strange, I wrote that same comment on a ballot this past weekend….woah, it’s like people can find on me the internet after I judge them or something crazy like that. Are you one of the kids I judged? Be honest now 😛

  1. and also when you said: “Self Defense – Our morals come from the rights claims we agree upon when we form the social contract.” what does that mean??

    • John Locke was of the opinion that society is based on a social contract where people make agreements with each other, given up certain rights from the state of nature to have other rights protected. So, for example, I give up my right to kill in order to have my life protected. I make this agreement with every other individual, and in so doing, form society and the contract by which it operates. Our morals derive from these agreements, and these agreements are what we use to evaluate whether or not an action is moral.

  2. no im not one of the kids haha xD… but i would love to start trying. i bet it would help my game. Judges tell me i was always the best speaker, but what i said was none-sence or i didnt fight the opponents case good enough, so im getting to becoming a better debater!!!

    • Both the sides are equally strong. The key is to write positions you believe in. That way, you become more convincing when you speak in round.

  3. Hey, im a novice debater from Wellington Highschool Florida and i have a few questions…
    Firstly, on both the affirmative and the negative. What should be the value and valued criterion. I’ve been writing cases for this resolution for weeks now and I’ve kinda got a general idea of what works and what doesn’t. On the affirmative, Utilitarianism, Morality, Safety, Justice, and Life all come to mind. The V VC combo I’ve been running is Morality and Util, and Safety and Justice… I’d love your opinion on what you think works the best or any ideas you may have on it.
    And on the negative, the Value usually will remain Morality but the VC I’m having some issues with. The VC could be Deontology Ethics, Life, or Safety. Personally, I’ve found Life to work the best because the resolution is discussing whether it is morally permissible to use deadly force. From my definition of deadly force, my interpretation of the resolution is that it implies killing. By valuing life, and maintaining life it will prove morality by looking at moral code and simply by logic. I’d love your opinion.

    And my only problem with your contentions above is the Aff on self defense. The negative may argue that by the resolution talking about deliberate responses and that in order for it to be deliberate it will have to be thought out or planned. Also, the negative may provide a card on majority of self defense is instinct and cannot be deliberate.

    And on that Note… A reminder… Everything is debatable

    • Hi Greg,

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I will do my best to address your concerns and provide feedback.

      Let’s start with the question of a value and value criterion. What I have provided you with in this case are not contentions. They are frameworks. Every point I give you is the basis for an entire case, complete with its own value structure and contentions. That being said, I responded to a comment earlier by advising you to write your contentions first. Build your contentions around some common theme, and the value and value criterion will become apparent.

      You did provide some structures, however, so let’s talk about the suggestions you make and evaluate them. Starting with the affirmative, you mention you’ve been seeing Morality and Utilitarianism a lot. There are several questions here. First, how does your opponent define morality? Remember, philosophers have debated for millenia over the definition of morality, and I guarantee there are problems with every definition, so be sure to address that. Next, remember to ask how utilitarianism gives us morality. Utilitarianism evaluates actions after they occur to determine whether or not they are moral based upon if they benefit more people than they harm. So, what if we rounded up everyone with AIDS and killed them? That would effectively cure AIDS and prevent an unspeakable number of deaths. Speaking in terms of utilitarianism, that is a moral action. Does that seem problematic to you? I do not Also, how does allowing people to kill each other achieve utilitarianism? Wouldn’t it be better if the abuser was rehabilitated? That would benefit more people right? I do not think a utilitarianism framework is effective on the affirmative, though it may be more defensible on the negative.

      Let’s talk about safety and justice. You have to explain which one leads to which. Does justice lead to safety, or the other way around? The first doesn’t really make sense, because we can give people rights and still have lots of violent crime, like in New York or Cleveland. The second doesn’t really make sense either because we can make people safe and destroy their liberty, like if we locked everyone in a padded cell and fed them three times a day. They’d all be perfectly safe, but the society wouldn’t exactly be just.

      On the negative, the resolution does imply killing. There is no reason to debate situations where the abuser doesn’t actually die. That being said, you need to think more deeply about life. Do we value the life of a serial killer? Would it be permissible for a person kidnapped by a serial killer to kill in order to escape? What about war? Is it morally permissible to kill to defend one’s country? Using life to evaluate morality may not be as simple as you think. Also, is it possible to say the victim’s life is at risk? Does repeated domestic violence cause enough damage to effectively destroy the life of the victim? There is a lot of compelling evidence which suggests that may be true.

      Speaking in terms of self defense, it doesn’t have to be in the moment. I agree that actions taken in self defense can be completely reactionary. In fact, there is a lot of neurological evidence which supports that argument. However, there is no reason pre-meditated assault cannot be defensive. What about preemptive strikes to prevent nations from getting nuclear weapons? Are those done in self defense? Also, remember that the resolution specifies repeated domestic violence, so we know that the crime has already occurred and will occur again. Therefore, it doesn’t really matter when or how the victim kills the abuser, just that the intent is deliberate.

      As a final matter, I would advise staying away from justice on both sides, unless it is your value criterion. You have been asked to evaluate the morality of an action. Determine how you will do that first. How do we determine if something is moral? Make that your value criterion. Your value should really be morality. Remember, though, that there are many definitions of morality, and you have to find one that is good for your case.

      I hope that helps!

    • the thing on deliberate its is premeditated and premeditation can be seconds by the law books…. so thats a negitive rebuttle for ya

      • Deliberate can be premeditated. It doesn’t have to be, but it can. And so what if its second degree murder under U.S. law? The resolution asks you to evaluate the morality of the action, not the legality of it. This is not an effective rebuttal.

      • but it would work… because if the aff brings in the social contract thats partcialy law and u can say that it under 1st degree murder.. so it could work if they bring in the law and the value if justice is law because justice wont be served because at the end of the day some one was killed in a act of murder just because it was premeditated or deliberate.

      • The social contract is not the law. Do not make the mistake of thinking they are the same. Also, the resolution is not specific to the United States. The affirmative will not make the mistake of relying on U.S. law to define their moral system, and neither should you.

      • haha true i will see it differntly now because other countries have differnt laws. and some countiries will permit murder because they have differnt morals…

  4. Ace, with the aff i am having trouble with the VC. The best I can think of is Conditional Ought. This is what i have.

    In order to achieve this form of justice, we must look to Kant’s version of Conditional Ought. Kant defines conditional ought as that one ought to perform some act in order for something beneficial to happen. We must look to Conditional Ought because as the National Center For Victims of Crime explains, that 62% of all domestic abusers have at least 2 victims. Conditional Ought must be the best value criterion because when we act, we must act as if something will benefit us and others.

    • Hi Ken,

      Let me ask first what you value and contentions are. Your criterion will be based on that. That being said, Kant does not believe in conditional oughts. For him, morality exists independent of benefits and merits. He was a deontologist.

      Conditional oughts are supported in moral theories such as utilitarianism. My advice is to think about what you’re trying to get to. Do you want a moral system? Do you want justice? Do you want people to be happy? Depending on the answer to that, ask how to get there. That will be your value criterion.

      • well ace i kinda changed it after you told me this. My value is justice and my vc is safety. I use Mazlow’s hirearchey of needs as my evidence for safety. what do you think?

      • My question to you now would be how you use this structure to evaluate the morality of action. Is the victim’s action just because it protects his/her basic need of safety? If that’s the case, then where do we draw the line of what people can do to make themselves safe? And who is the judge of what it means to be truly safe?

        Also, is safety the only requirement for justice? We could lock everyone up in a cell and feed them 3 times a day. They would be completely safe, but that isn’t exactly justice.

        The value structure isn’t bad, but just be prepared to answer questions like these.

  5. ok well replying to the first question. The action is moral because they are taking our safety which is equally taking away our justice. 2nd question. Yes it is just because Hobbes says that when we enter gov’t we give up all rights except the right to self defense. 3 question. My definition of safety is the condition of being protected and safe from any form of danger and risk. (Sorry if I’m argumentative.)

    Now to move on to neg:

    i can only come up with a few things for neg. V: Moraltiy VC:Inherent Human Worth C1: 2 wrongs dont make a right and C2: Violates our rights and is taking away certain rights.

    Any help?

    • Don’t apologize for being argumentative; that’s the point. This is debate 🙂

      Let’s talk about your responses. You can claim that only safety is necessary for justice, but then your value structure becomes circular. This means that justice and safety are the same thing. So what is justice? Being safe. How do we achieve it? By making people safe. Do you see the problem? Are you sure justice doesn’t include things like human rights and such?

      That being said, why do safety and justice equate to life? I understand that the abuser is taking away the victim’s safety and justice, but why does that justify a response which takes away the abuser’s life?

      As for the neg:

      Does inherent human worth evaluate whether or not an action is moral? If so, then why is the victim not moral in protecting their human worth? Also, how do those contentions link to human worth? Remember, your contentions need to address the resolution using your value structure. Your contentions talk more about human rights. Also, don’t forget to impact. So what if two wrongs don’t make a right? The resolution is asking whether or not the action is morally permissible, not if it’s the right thing to do. And so what if it violates rights? That doesn’t necessarily make it morally impermissible.

      You may want to look up virtue ethics and coherence theory. Those may help you find more interesting case positions.

  6. Hi i was thinking for this topic to use Self Preservation as my Value for AFF could you give me some ideas for a Criterion

    • Hi Tobi,

      You need to ask yourself if self preservation is the most important thing you’re trying to achieve. Do we value it all the time? What if we have to kill innocent people to preserve ourselves? Is that morally permissible?

      Once you answer those questions, you need to ask yourself how self preservation is best achieved. Is it done through the right to self defense? Is it done through good police protection? Is it done through a good justice system? What about a solid social contract? The answer to that question will be your value criterion. And remember, your contentions have to link through your value structure, so it may be more beneficial for you to come up with a contentions first.

  7. Wow, thanks so much for this! I’m a novice who’s really having trouble finding evidence and such. While of course I knew about the works of Locke, Hobbes, etc. I have had trouble incorporating them into my contentions and FW. This has really helped me. Do you know of any other sources in which I’d be able to get evidence for this resolution?

    • Hi Kat,

      There are many sources you can check out. For all your philosophy stuff, I recommend the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. It’s at, and there’s a link to in the the third column of this site. has a lot of domestic violence statistics and information which will be useful to you. I also recommend you check out the National Library of Medicine’s website to find neurological studies about how peoples’ brains work. That should get you started.

  8. How do you decide what is moral and what about mental abuse? I don’t think using deadly force for mental abuse would go well in a case. What would you say if someone brought up that in the neg?
    p.s your webpage is very helpful. thankyou. 🙂

    • Hi Victoria,

      You should include physical abuse in your definition of violence. Domestic violence must include physical abuse, otherwise there’s really no point in talking about it. Killing someone for verbally assaulting you isn’t really a proportional response no matter how you swing it. So if the negative says that mental or emotional abuse doesn’t warrant killing, just agree and say that it is the aggregate of the physical, mental, and everything else that warrants the killing.

  9. You miss a critical arguement oppurtunity actually by trying to be “fair” with your definitions, which is nonsensical and in reality abusive with the way you are doing it. What I am talking about is your definition of domestic violence. There is NO SPECIFIC DEFINITION of repeated domestic violence, regardless of your interpretation of it being physical. You are parameterizing to the point of it being abusive for you are restricting it solely to physical violence. The negative should be allowed to make the arguement that the resolution is arbitrary and immoral for it is saying it is morally permissible for someone being verbally abused to kill their attacker.

    • Hi Bill,

      Thanks for the comment. Allow me to clarify that I never said domestic violence is only physical. Rather, it is a combination. However, it cannot be ONLY emotional. Every major credible definition of violence and domestic violence necessitates physical violence. This includes the APA, CDC, Merriam-Webster, Oxford, NIH, and NLB definitions. I am not parameterizing to an abusive point. Rather, I am advising students not to take positions which are stupid and abusive and turn the debate into a definition argument. The idea here is to debate whether or not the damage caused by repeated domestic violence, as it is commonly understood (not narrowly defined in some particular element or form), warrants a response of deadly force from the victim.

      I am not saying the negative should not be able to make this argument, but rather advising students not to make the argument because it is weak and abusive. It is against the spirit of the resolution and teaches students nothing. How do you propose on developing a value structure to defend that position? Are you going to use retributive justice? Proportional punishment? Virtue ethics? Coherence theory? Social contract theory? How do you think the debate will go if the negative makes that argument? The affirmative will inevitably go up there and just claim a different definition, at which point it’s a yelling match about who has the better definition. What if the affirmative claims to affirm every case where physical violence is included and provides statistics which show that is the majority? How do you propose a student will defend against that? What if the affirmative gets up there and says that even verbal abuse alone can merit deadly force if it the verbal abuse is severe enough? The negative is then on the back foot.

      In debate these days, students are being taught to focus on particular nuances and singular arguments rather than on the major issues. Yet, if you look at every national championship round in the past 6 years, the debater who has won has been the one who has focused on the large logical issues and the underlying positions of the case, not particular definitions. I am not missing a critical argument. I am simply recognizing that it isn’t a good one, and I am advising students not to use it.

  10. I picked self-defiance for my value but I don’t know what to do for my vc. I was thinking 4 my first contention the right 2 bare that okay? btw thank you so much for answering my question you have no idea how much I appericate it. Thank you!

    • Did you pick self defense or self defiance? The two are different, and I’m not entirely sure what self defiance is. Also, is self defense the most important thing you’re trying to achieve? Or, is it a means to get to something else more important? If it’s the most important thing, then you need to ask yourself how you achieve self defense. That will be your value criterion.

      As for your first contention, I’m wondering what the right to bare arms has to do with the resolution. The resolution does not ask you to evaluate the law or use the U.S. Constitution. You must explain why the right to bare arms matters to the resolution.

      Finally, allow me to suggest that you should start from the bare skeleton first. You’re thinking too specifically and trying to come up with particular arguments. That will make it harder for you to write a case as well as argue it. Read my resolutional analysis again. Ask yourself the fundamental questions first.

      1. How do we determine if something is morally permissible?
      2. Does that apply in this situation?
      3. If so, what does it say about deadly force as a response to repeated domestic violence?

      Answer these questions thoroughly first, and then build your case.

  11. My value is self-defense. Sorry i’m a horrible speller. I was thinking the right to bear arms illustrates proof that it is morally permissble to act on self-defense because it is in the constitution so in a way can’t that show it is morally permissble?

    • This will only work if the Constitution determines what is moral. Remember, the resolution is not specific to the United States. Also, if you’re using the U.S. Constitution to determine what is moral, then it has to be in your value structure.

  12. Also could you say that we decide what is morally permissble by doing what is for the greater good of society. So self-defence killing a person who is violent and hurts people.. I am having trouble with my contentions. I am trying to do that first than my v and vc but i’m having problems. I was told to use the behavior of law as one of my contentions but i’m having trouble with it. Sorry I keep asking you so many questions.

    • Yes, you can use that position. And you can claim that it is a benefit to get rid of someone who is hurting people. Be careful about taking the claim further though. I don’t know if you necessarily want to say that the victim should kill the abuser, just that it is morally permissible if they do.

      What exactly do you mean by behavior of law?

      Don’t apologize for asking questions; that is what I’m here for. I’m happy to help. Ask as many questions as you want.

  13. Forgive me if you’ve already talked about this, this is a really long forum.
    So are you saying that we should write our contentions before making our V&VC. because i am having trouble with value structure.
    also, would it make sense to have
    C:Human rights
    1:we have the right of self defense
    2:deadly force is the only way to get justice in this situation
    3:There is no other way to get our human rights
    for affirmative?

  14. So would it be fair to say that the Aff’s burden is to prove sometimes it is permissible? because obviously if i get hit twice, i cant kill someone. and that the neg’s burden is to prove it is never permissible?

    • The Aff’s burden is to prove that it is morally permissible for victims of repeated domestic violence to use deadly force as a response. Remember, repeated domestic violence is not domestic violence which is repeated. Terms are defined differently in debate. “Repeated domestic violence” has its own unique definition and characteristics. You can look at the framers’ intent on the NFL website as well to give you an idea of how the burdens ought to be structured.

      Also, as a logical matter, the negative never has to prove anything. The negative only has to argue that you cannot affirm. There are multiple ways of doing that. One of them is to say that it is never morally permissible, but there are others as well.

  15. Im not sure you can sustain the position alternatives exist, because the truth is alternatives dont always exist…

    • The alternatives always exist, they are just not as easy to take. Admittedly, seeking recourse from the justice system is not easy in places in Africa, and yet Beatrice Mtetwa has still seen great success with it, after being abused in horrendous ways throughout her life. Non-lethal force and escape is always and option, always. Just because escape is dangerous and potentially life threatening, it doesn’t mean the alternative doesn’t exist.

  16. whats your opoion of myv being self-defence and my vc being self preservation? My first conetnion would be about the cycles of abuse from generation to generation or eposdic abuse and how not stopping the abuse wil decrease self worth preservation and thus decreasing the worth of the society…. I don’t think its very strong and my subpoint would be the battered person u have advice to help me strengthin my contention?

    • Your contentions are about society, but your metric for evaluating morality is self preservation…that doesn’t work well together. If you’re talking about society, put societal welfare or utilitarianism or something as your value, and then figure out how you’re getting there. In order to strengthen your contentions, I recommend you have a lot of evidence. Also, why does the battered person syndrome matter so much that you’re devoting an entire contention to it?

  17. ooo behavoir of slw is from Black’s book socology of law and it decsribes the relastionships of people and law. Like for instance the police would asume a fight between a husband and wife is just a lovers qquwrill as opposed 2 two different people fight..but I am having trouble finding proof for that

  18. For my third contention on aff my tagline is that most victims believe living in fear is worse than dying and my subpoint was going to be stalking and how you can never really get away from the domestic violence. so is there any warrents that u can suggest 4 me 2 use???

    • Before I suggest warrants, let me ask you a few questions.

      On your third contention, you must tell me why those things matter. So what if victims believe living in fear is worse? What if they believe that slavery is ok? Does that make it permissible for them to have slaves? Why do the victims’ beliefs construct morality? The same question must be answered about your sub point. Why does it matter? So what if you can never really escape? Why does that mean it is morally permissible to take a life?

      As for warrants, I recommend using Google Scholar and searching for what you need. It has some very good articles with research on the points you are arguing.

  19. So if we use social contract theory for the NEG side we’d make an observation that states the resolution implies a deliberate deadly force. Then 1 contention stating how the consequence is disproportionate? I find it really hard to find an author that would advocate John Locke’s Social Contract theory in regards to Domestic Abuse. And in the case that I can’t find too many warrants for the Social Contract theory do I run a counterplan for the NEG advocating 1 alternative like Anger Control? If so, what is the basic layout for a counterplan because I’ve never run one before.

    Thanks Ace!

    • Hi Rohan,

      Thanks for reading. I’d be happy to address your concerns.

      Before beginning, let me advise you to not be so “debatey.” When you use terms like warrant, counter plan, cross supply, etc…, you do not sound convincing. Rather, you alienate a large number of judges. Have a conversation with the judge, and try not to seem like you are talking at them.

      With that, let’s start with social contract theory on the Neg. You do not need to make an observation at all, because the resolution explicitly says the word “deliberate.” Next, you don’t need an author that supports Locke’s version of the social contract…you have John Locke! Modern scholars will not argue the issues of domestic violence using philosophy. They will argue them using pragmatism, and chances are that most of them are utilitarian anyway. The key to running contract theory on the Neg. is to have a solid value structure which clearly explains how we make rights claims against each other, as John Locke outlined. Then, based upon that, your contention would argue that the response is not proportionate because the attacker has not done anything to forfeit their right to life.

      You can run a counterplan on the negative, but do not call it a counterplan. You cannot get up there and just say that anger control is an option, so deadly force is not morally permissible. Just because I have a choice between peanut butter and jelly, it doesn’t make peanut butter immoral. Instead, find some philosopher like John Rawls who explains why the existence of alternatives affects the morality of the action in question. Then, build that analysis into your value structure, and use your contention to explain why that analysis means that deadly force is not morally permissible.

      Does that make sense? Let me know if you have anymore questions 🙂

      • I understand it much better now! Thanks! Also what are your thoughts on the categorical imperative for this topic?

      • I don’t really like the categorical imperative for anything really. If you use it on the Aff., you just give yourself the absurd burden of universality, and if you use it on the Neg., you can’t defend the 3rd maxim. I would advise against it, but if you can come up with a good way to run it, please let me know.

  20. How would one go about denying self defense? How could someone says that people don’t have the right to defend themselves?

    • Hi Alivea,

      There are several ways to deny self defense.

      The first is to remember that, if the affirmative is running the position, it is their job to prove that people have the right to self defense. Most of the time, they’ll just assume it and won’t actually tell you why that’s true.

      You can also argue that the victim’s life isn’t really under threat in repeated domestic violence, so self defense doesn’t apply.

      You can also argue that if the victim’s life is under threat, their actions are no longer deliberate, but rather reactionary because of the survival instinct. So, they fall outside the bounds of the resolution.

      These are just a few basic ideas. I hope that helps.

  21. I had one last question about the social contract theory. Would you recommend the Contractarianism theory of Gauthier? If not what should I research for social contract theory?

    Thanks Ace!

    • Gauthier’s theory is really no different from Locke’s. He just says that the reasonable moral outcome is one in which people give up the least to get the most. I recommend using Locke. He is simpler and explains more clearly how our moral constructs come from the social contract.

  22. Could we also argue that allowing the person to take control of punishment in their own hands breaks the social contract as well because the government must have absolute power, not the people? (Hobbes point of view)

  23. While I find the affirmative relatively easy on this resolution, I am having difficulty crafting a good framework for a negative case. I’d like to run either (or, hey, both) a self-defense NC (where I outline why the resolution is not a matter of self-defense, employing arguments about alternatives, imminence and proportionality) or a vigilantism NC (where I talk about why vigilantism is wrong and why the government needs to deal with abusers). A kind of hybrid strategy I’d like to employ is one in which I discuss why the government should be the agent for providing justice in circumstances that are not extreme (i.e. involve self-defense) and then go on to explain why the resolution’s circumstances are not matters of self-defense as well as attacking vigilantism. The V/VC pair I was considering is a value of morality and a criterion of something along the lines of “rule of law.” Could this case work, and can you think of a better criterion that runs along the same lines yet perhaps is more easily justifiable? Thank you so much.

    • Hi Jamie,

      Both positions are doable, but I think you’re trying to be too preemptive. What will you do if the affirmative doesn’t run self defense or vigilantism? I didn’t run either when I debated the topic, and it threw off every opponent I encountered. The hybrid strategy makes sense, but only if you claim that the victim’s actions are immoral because it’s the government’s job to provide justice here.

      My recommendation is to build governmental legitimacy into your value structure if you’re going this route.

      • You’re probably right, the case does rest on several assumptions. Still, if I do decide to run something with government legitimacy or the like, can you direct me as to where I can find support for government legitimacy being necessary for morality? Or should morality even be my value?

  24. Hi I’m a novice and having a hard with the value and the value criterion. Would this work? My value is self preservation and My criterion is either self defense/vigilante justice or the social contract. If could please advice me on which would go better with my contentions.

    In other words, I value self preservation and one can achieve it through self defense if it is in danger when abuse is occuring/and or I value self preservation and my criterion is the social contract and if/when the abuser breaks the social contract by casing bodily harm, I am no longer confined to abide it by it in order to preserve my self preservation. The last criterion I was thinking of was self vigilante justice in that I can take justice into my own hands to achieve self preservation when all else fails.

    My first contention is self defense. One is permitted to use deadly force as self defense in order to achieve self preservation. If a woman is beaten severely to where she is barely alive and fears her own safety, she can use deliberate force.
    I don’t know how I continue to elaborate on that contention. Could you say that

    My Second Contention is justice. A woman can use deliberate force as a way to achieve justice for herself.

    Third contention could be that there are no other possibilities or ways for her to achieve help. The oppressed has exhausted all her options.

    How can I elaborate on my contentions and are my contentions ok? Or do I need to fix them?

    I’m also having a hard time paraphrasing philosophers ideas on things such as social contract, virtues, due punishment, etc… Is there a website that gives exact quotes? Thank you.

    • Your case and your contentions are fine. Any of those value criterions would work well with you contentions as well. However, depending on which one you choose, you should place one contention before the others.

      You need to elaborate on your contentions by proving that the alternatives fail and that domestic abuse threatens the victim’s life.

      The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy will help you with great summaries of philosophy.

  25. is it right to use teleology saying that even if it is not always morally permsible it dosent matter because sometmes you have to use harsh force

    • Which side are we talking about? this argument is not good for the Affirmative, because you have to prove that the action is morally permissible. The argument doesn’t really make sense on the negative either because it doesn’t tell you why you can’t affirm.

      Also, teleology doesn’t work this way. Teleology justifies the existence of things based upon their purpose rather than their cause. So, if you’re running a teleological argument, you would essentially say that whatever causes the deadly force doesn’t matter, but its purpose is to protect the victim’s life or make the world a better place, and therefore, it’s fine.

  26. Ace, if you didn’t use self defense or vigilante ethics for your case, what did you use? If I were to use self defense, could my value be morality and my value criterion be preserving human rights, using Hobbes? I find the aff for this resolution to be very difficult, please help!

    • I ran an argument which argued that the purpose of life is equal to life itself, since a life is meaningless without liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The abuser violates the victim’s liberty and pursuit of happiness to the point where their life loses purpose. Therefore, under the social contract, the abuser forfeits their right to life.

      And yes, you can run morality and preserving human rights. Though you have to be sure to explain why it’s morally permissible for the abuser to have their right to life violated.

  27. Could Utilitarianism be a good vc for aff? Would it be valid to say that by killing the abuser, the abuser would no longer be able to harm other people, including further acts of violence against the victim and/or other people that they might abuse in the future? That way, less people are harmed, and less people would suffer from the abuser, thus “greatest amount of good for the greatest NUMBER of people. I know it’s pretty iffy, but i can’t really think of anything else for aff that fits my contentions 😦

    • Sure, that argument works. Be ready for the rehabilitation argument though. People will say that the abuser can go to jail and therapy and turn over a new leaf. That would be the greatest good for the greatest people.

      If you can argue it well, the utilitarianism position is decent. You can also argue that the threat of death will prevent people from abusing in the first place. A lot of abusers do so because they don’t feel as if they can be punished for their actions, but knowing that they could be rightly killed may reduce the incidence of the crime.

  28. Hi Ace! I am working on a Neg. and like the idea of using John Locke. However, I am having trouble finding a

  29. Hey ace
    first i want to say that this forum is beyond helpful and i really appreciate. okay i have several questions about the affirmative side
    first is about the burden i give. So essentially i was gonna say morally permissable means that it is not specifically morally prohibited and so if the neg doesnt prove that its morally prohibited you must default aff…sound good? but this doesnt really connect to rest of case because i go about actually proving its morally permissible. so should i drop this burden? Also for my case im trying to find a way to put in self defense vigilante justice and the social contract and how the abuser forfeits their life if they abuse the victim, but the problem is i cant really find a clear and distinct link between the three….my ideas for v and vc were value as contractual morality based on the social contract and my standard would be Protection of Human rights. like the right to self defense and such on.. like i can warrant all of those individually but not as a single entitity… any ideas? also if the neg was the bring up alternatives how do u feel about the tool in the tool box argument.where u basically say u only use deadly force when it is needed and at that point it is morally permissible for the victim to use deadly force for all the reason above(then refer back to case)
    and finally i find i always win with experienced judges but lay judges usually screw me over saying im too narrowminded or too combative in cx and give me really low speaker points and such. like what are some dos and donts for lay judges? thx an answer to any of the above questions would be soo helpful to me. i feel like people have put me at a status that i dont think i can fufill so i need all the help i can get. oh and i almost forgot…is the social contract universal all over the world? if not wouldnt that be really easy to tear down?

    • Hi Jacob,

      I am happy to help. Let me go down the list and address your concerns.

      1. If you are going to place a burden, then your case needs to revolve around it. Otherwise, you should remove the burden because you are using time which could be better spent providing an additional warrant or something.

      2. I recommend against including all three in the same case. The reason for this is that each argument is an entire case position, and not just a contention. The only way you could put the three together is to take an approach that values governmental legitimacy, and argue that the only legitimate government is one which provides the people with vigilante options for situations where the government clearly fails. Since the government fails when it comes to domestic violence, the victim retains vigilante justice and self defense options, and these options are deadly force because the abuser has essentially violated the victim’s right to life.

      3. I like the contractual morality standpoint. However, if you are taking this approach, I would recommend you use the value of morality and a value criterion somehow related to the social contract. That way, you can easily demonstrate how maintaining a good social contract leads us to morality.

      4. The tool in the tool box argument is bad. It is not a categorical affirmation of the resolution. Don’t be afraid to stick to the tough positions and argue that deadly force is permissible even when it isn’t necessary. Remember, most of the time your opponent won’t actually prove why the existence of alternatives makes deadly force impermissible. Just because I have the choice of jelly, it doesn’t mean peanut butter is wrong.

      5. There are several reasons you are probably losing to the lay judges. First, you’re probably too “debatey.” Don’t use words like cross-supply, warrant, impact, card, etc… Instead, use simple words like apply my earlier argument, evidence, why the argument matters, expert opinion, etc… These will be more appealing to the judge. Don’t worry about sounding stupid; you won’t. Have a conversation with the judge instead of talking at them. Second, don’t set parameters such as the burden you brought up earlier. Even if you use observations which are fair, lay judges will find them abusive, especially if you have an aggressive speaking style, which I imagine you do. Third, don’t use LD theory. Don’t talk about why we debate, or how a resolution is supposed to be debated. Instead, just debate the topic. Fourth, don’t be super aggressive in CX. Don’t try and argue your point. Instead, use your questions to highlight your opponent’s logical flaws, and then make the argument in rebuttal.

      6. The social contract is not a practical thing. Countries don’t actually have “social contracts.” Rather, the social contract is the theoretical underpinnings of society which determine how our rights function. Every philosopher has his own view about how/why we form the social contract, and what the best type of contract is. Hobbes, for example, advocates delegating all your rights to a sovereign, whereas Locke argues that people make rights claims against each other. So, to answer your question, the social contract is intended to be a universal principle. That is to say that philosophers argue that every society should have their “ideal” social contract.

      I hope this helps. Feel free to ask any other questions 🙂

  30. Hi Ace! I am doing an aff and wondering where i could get a card for my vigilante justice contention. Ive been looking around for the hour and cant find a proper person or book to site/ use for my card. Please help! 🙂 thanks!

    • Hi Alex,

      It would help to know what your contention is arguing specifically. Then I can point you in the right direction of philosophers or experts who support your argument.

  31. I am arguing that because the government cannot respond, it falls in the hands of the victim. any help would be great! thank so much.

    • My recommendation to you is to develop your own argument, and then justify your premises with warrants because it will be very difficult to find support for this theory. Modern philosophers are not concerned with vigilantism, and classical contractarians almost universally reject it. So, here’s how your argument would work.

      1) The purpose of government is to protect people.
      2) When government fails, or cannot possibly succeed, people should be allowed to protect themselves.
      3) In the case of repeated domestic violence, government has failed.
      4) Therefore, people should be allowed to protect themselves.

      You can find “cards” to support each of these points except for number 2. For that one, you will have to develop your own argument. Clever use of analogies can help get your point across there.

      Let me know if this makes sense and if you have any other questions.

      • Would there be a stronger contention since this one doesnt have a specific card to back it up? My other contention is self defense.

        – And on that note, do you recommend any V and VC combo? Right now, my V and VC is morality and preservating human rights. However, i dont think my value and VC fit very well with my contentions.This is my first ever case and im finding it difficult to find/make a V and VC. Any recommendations?

        Thanks for the help!

      • The strength of a contention is not determined by the cards which back it up. The beauty of LD is that you can make your own arguments and own theories, and they can be very successful if you argue them properly. Also, I advise against using the word “card” in rounds and making arguments which rely solely upon them. I don’t mind the vigilante justice contention at all.

        What I would recommend is that your value structure focus around vigilante justice. So, something like Justice or Governmental Legitimacy with a VC of Vigilante Justice would be ideal.

  32. Hi,
    I was having the toughest of time with getting started with both sides of this case and I was wondering if you can help get me started? I haven’t come up with a value or value criterion and I feel so lost. My debate is already next week so I need to start getting it down. If you can give me a couple of tips to get me started, I would appreciate it! Thanks!

    • Hi Mark,

      I recommend first reading my post. All of your questions are answered in there. I break down the resolution for you so it makes sense. After that, come back to me with some ideas, and I will offer you feedback.

  33. Hi,
    Thank you for all the advice on your page – it has been really helpful. Earlier you mentioned using Rawls because he talks about alternatives existing affecting the morality of actions. Do you mind saying which part of Rawls says this – and if we can legitimately use Rawls, since most of his work relates to distributive justice and this resolution doesn’t really address that?

    • Hi Natalie,

      Rawls outlines this principle in the “Presentation of Alternatives” section of “A theory of justice.” And yes, you can legitimately use Rawls because he does take some time to address principles of normative justice. You can also use his philosophy to make a distributive argument and contend that victims should have the right to kill the abuser because that’s what reasonable people would desire from behind the veil of ignorance.

  34. Okay perfect. Thanks!

    I have decided on a value of justice but can’t think of a solid value criterion. Any suggestions?

    For my affirmative arguements, I’m thinking about my first contention as the victim can use self defense. However, I’m having a tough time tying this back to my value.

    For my second contention, I was thinking about doing the vigilante justice but I don’t understand what you mean with that…

  35. Hi,
    I actually changed my value to quality of life and my value criterion to safety. I’m planning on using the self defense contention to prove that victims have to be able to use deadly force against repeated domestic abuse. I’ll relate this back to my value and vc by saying that if they use a deadly force, they are protecting themselves and overall, increasing the quality of life, instead of not doing anything about the domestic abuse.

    How do you think this is so far? I’m also stuck on a second contention. I was thinking about the vigilante justice contention but I don’t know how that will relate to my value and vc. If you could lend any ideas, I will truly appreciate it.

    Thanks for the help!

    • Hi Mark,

      My first question to you would be why the abuser doesn’t deserve a better quality of life. If the abuser went to jail, was rehabilitated, and became a productive member of society, wouldn’t that be the ideal thing for everyone? That would increase the victim’s quality of life as well as making the abuser a better person. Although, I do like the quality of life/safety value structure, a lot actually. I advise you to take a hard line stance and just say that people are allowed to do whatever they would like to preserve their safety because it is the primary requisite for a good quality of life. This way, you can also include the vigilante justice contention and say that it falls within the moral bounds of doing what you need to preserve your quality of life, because the government has failed.

  36. hi!
    Im doing an affirmative and wondering if there are arguements against the negative “alternatives exist” contention. The only one that i have come up with is the fact that just because there are alternatives doesnt mean using a deliberate deadly force is immpermissible. Let me know if you have any other arguements or ways to expand on my arguement! Any help would be greatly appreciated. Im new at this :))

    • That’s generally the best argument to make Lexi. Most people will not tell you why the existence of alternatives makes deadly force impermissible, and you should call them out on it.

      The second argument you can make is that the alternatives will always fail because this occurs in the private domain. So, it’s not a matter of whether or not they have failed, but the reality that they cannot succeed. So, to be honest, there really are no alternatives.

      As far as arguing against alternatives specifically, you can find tons of statistics (although they are U.S. specific) which demonstrate the failure of almost all justice system alternatives.

  37. Oh and i forgot to say-

    For the alternative of leaving, my arguement is that there is an increased risk of harm or death at the time a vicitm leaves.

    However, i need an argument for the other alternatives (sources, outside help, police)

    any ideas?

  38. Hi Ace, i am having trouble w/ V & VC on aff. My value is Safety but the thing i come up against is that im not looking at it wholeistically. How can i prove that we cant look to the abusers safety?

    VC: I have natural rights and use John Locke, however again i stumble on the fact that i neglect the abuser. How agian can i prove that they no longer have rights?

    Reply Please. 🙂

    • Hi Randy,

      Why do you have to prove the abuser still has rights? Or why do you have to prove the abuser deserves safety? According to Locke, the social contract consists of claims individuals make against one another. So, if the abuser has begun violence, are they still upholding their end of the contract? If not, why do they deserve the benefits that come with?

    • in safety its self and the social contract are strong. could be better but hey thery will work. i understand that the social contract is being broken by the abuser but on the flip side is that the topic isnt limited to just the U.S. it can be made to other countrys but id u play it well enough it can be told that because they broke the social contract u have the right to fight back. now with ur natrual rights we are all intitaled to use self defense but just because that self defense is limited in the sense that the force beign used is potentiatly grated than the force the abuser is useing. now remember in ace’s contention for the negitive is disproportinate rights violation and that the force being used in self cant be greater than the force being used by the abuser. so hope i helped a tid bit or at least a little bit

      • Ok, woah, hold on Brett. The social contract does not apply to the U.S. only. It is an abstract moral concept which applies universally, independent of the particular laws of the country. That being said, you cannot assume that the abuser is violating anything. It is your job to prove it if you’re on the affirmative. Self defense doesn’t apply to this resolution. In fact, the word “deliberate” is expressly in there to avoid cases of self defense, as I tell you in my analysis. Not only that, if you’re using self defense, you must explain how that applies to premeditated murder cases. Also remember that proportionality is a negative position. You still have the job of proving why it’s right. You cannot just assume that the force has to proportional. Who says it does? Why does it have to be proportional? You must answer these questions when you build your value structure.

  39. Hey Ace,
    I am a novice debater and I am having a hard time coming up with a good criterion to up hold my value of justice for my neg case. I kind of wanted to prove that morality judgement and that you have to go back to the law but I don’t know how to put that. Thanks.

    • Hi Marshall,

      I think you should just put it like that. We can’t make things morally permissible/impermissible because morality clouds judgment. Therefore, “right” and “wrong” should be determined by the law. Your VC could be the rule of law or something like that. However, you need to be careful because slavery was also legal, and Hitler’s laws weren’t exactly the greatest thing ever.

  40. Thanks, I was kind of leaning towards due process that murder is murder and should be dealt with accordingly. Do you know any strong cards that maybe would help?

  41. Do you know of any sound debates against Morality during value clashes? There is a school in my league who’s debaters almost always use Morality, and I’m not sure how to argue that morals like Utilitarianism or Justice are more worthy.

    • That depends on how your opponent defines morality. Remember, morality is not necessarily valuable in itself. After all, Hitler had a sense of morality. The question is how we determine what the proper morality is. So, we shouldn’t really value morality, but rather a good morality. And, it’s your job to tell me how to get there.

      The key to responding to morality is to pay close attention to how your opponent defines it.

  42. I was wondering how good the nietzsche Will to Power affirmative position was? Also how would someone answer to a Victimization Kritik against the negative side? Additionally, is parametricizing to women abusive on the affirmative side or is it ok enough to not bump into theory?

    • Ok, first of all, stop being so debatey. Using terms like parametrizing and kritik will not help you in convincing a judge to vote for you 😛

      That being said, let’s talk about the actual points. What do you mean by the Will to Power affirmative? Nietzsche argued that everyone has a will to power to become the dominant uber mensch. By that token, both the victim’s and abuser’s actions are morally permissible. Is that the argument you’re talking about? Nietzsche doesn’t like moral restrictions, nor does he allow for many.

      You would answer a victimization Kritik by saying that theory arguments are terrible. You can’t affirm the resolution because doing so allows for a “victimization dialogue?” So let me ask you this, is it ok for the victim to kill if we don’t call them a victim? The K has no impact. Also, if you’re in an area where round strategies like that work, then remember that it’s your job to uphold the resolution and the negative’s job to refute your case. So, chances are the negative will not actually respond to your points adequately if they are running a kritik.

      There is no reason to parametrize to women only. There is no problem with doing so, but it is unnecessary. What moral position could you take which applies to women and not to men? If you are taking such a position, perhaps you should come up with a stronger argument which doesn’t rely on specific parameters.

  43. I was against someone in debate that used this exact case for affirmative. I knew something was up when she couldn’t pronounce disproportionate.

    I still beat her though.

  44. Hi Ace!! Can you please explain the Coherence Theory to me and how it will play a role in this resolution’s debates? I don’t plan on using it, but I’d like to know how to write an AT about it. And how would go about writing an AT for the Social Contract if someone ran it on Aff?
    Thank you!! 🙂

    • Hi Cathy,

      I’m sorry for the delayed response. I’ve been away for a while. Coherence Theory basically dictates that the truth of any proposition is determined by its coherence with an already established set of propositions. It can be used on either side to say that a victim’s use of deliberate deadly force does/does not cohere with our already established moral principles.

      As far as attacking the social contract, it depends on how your opponent is specifically running it. For Hobbes, the social contract involves surrendering one’s rights to the sovereign, which makes the victim’s actions impermissible. For Locke, the contract involves claims against other human beings of equal weight, which still makes the victim’s actions impermissible.

  45. How are some ways to argue that self defense is better than right to life? And how do you write a contention when you know what your opponents are? How would I counter his if he says right to life is key to stopping slavery and genocide? Sorry for all the questions, I’m normally a policy debater and this is my first time doing a mock LD debate

    • Hi Devin,

      Sorry for the delayed response. I’m not exactly sure what you’re asking me. Why are you trying to argue that the right to self-defense is better than the right to life? And what do you mean by ‘better’? Please clarify, and I will do my best to respond.

  46. Hi Ace,
    I’ve noticed that some Aff people use Pragmatism (as their criterion, I believe). How can I argue against this on the Neg?
    Also, just a quick outline of my Neg case:
    CV: Life
    CR: The Social Contract Theory
    C1: Life is the ultimate value
    C2: Deliberate deadly force is the ultimate domestic violence
    C3: Morals are too subjective
    I used to be really familiar with my Neg case, making it my favorite, but recently I’ve raised some eyebrows at my own arguments, as have some of my fellow debaters. One of them asked me, “Well if you say morals are subjective how can you decide if it’s not morally permissible like you are trying to do on the Neg?”

    Thanks and let me hear your thoughts!

    • Hi Cindy,

      I will be happy to help you out.

      As far as pragmatism is concerned, I would advise you to listen to what your opponent says. Most people use pragmatic approaches very poorly and leave gaps in their explanation of how it relates to the resolution or to determining moral permissibility.

      Generally speaking, pragmatism is the idea that one should do what is practical. So, in the case of the resolution, is it really practical for the victim not to kill the abuser? It would just be so much easier. It would save the justice system time and money, and it would save the victim a lot of trouble. It terms of pragmatism, it’s really more pragmatic for the victim to kill the abuser. That being said, you also have to answer how pragmatism can determine morality. Just because something is practical, why does that mean it is moral?

      Let’s talk about your case. I have a couple suggestions. First, it’s important you outline precisely how your social contract theory functions. Remember, there are multiple contractarians who have different theories regarding the social contract. You should take out your first contention. You should explain why life is the most important value under your value.

      Next, your second and third contentions don’t relate to your value structure at all. If your VC is about the social contract, then your contentions should focus on why the social contract determines that a response of deadly force is not permissible. Remember, a case needs to function as one cohesive machine. The parts need to connect and support one another. Having separate unrelated points weakens your analysis.

      As far as the subjectivity of morals is considered, you should just respond that the social contract provides an objective universal moral system. I would also recommend just scrapping your 3rd contention. Why does it matter if morals are subjective?

      I hope that helps. Good luck!

  47. ok for the aff. what would be good contentions? i have a h*ll of a good neg, and would like to know good contentions. because i have one turnament left tp qualify and i need all the help i can get. i am also the team caption and need to be a good person and help the team is much as i can.


    • I appreciate the comment Brett. However, I am not here to provide contentions. I have given good framework analyses here, and you are welcome to run contentions by me, but I’m not going to give you a case. I wish you the best this weekend, however.

      • ok thanks. i was thinking that the law cant be in my house 24/7 so i have the right to defend my slef in the best mannor possiable, and other than that im stuck

      • That’s fine, but you have to make sure you prove why deadly force is the best manner possible.

  48. so i was having alot of trouble thinking of values and criterion for this topic because often when i try to apply them they either don’t make sense or could apply to neg like i thought about a V of morality and my VC as reduction of human suffering but i kinda like yours alot better i just can’t find a way to make my contentions follow suit or maybe self defense as a critertion for morality or justice or social welfare?

  49. Sorry I have revised my question. Okay so I am not sure if morality works as a value for this case here is an outline.
    V: Morality? Justice? Human Happiness? (do any of these fit my case?)

    VC: Reduction of Human Suffering

    C1:: The legal system fails to protect victims of domestic violence

    C2:Escape is not a realistic option and often results in serious harm to domestic violence victims.

    C3: Failure of government to protect victims justifies self-protection (kinda don’t know how to present this one in my case any different possibilities?)

    Thanks please reply!

    • Hi Kat,

      My recommendation to you would be to run a value structure based on governmental legitimacy and argue that a government can only be legitimate if it allows provisions for self defense or vigilante justice.

      • Thanks. I had a question because when I debated my oppenet said 2 things that for one I didn’t understand and two didn’t think mattered. debating the AFF, although, I did not define the word deliberate during cross- ex they asked me for a definition and I said of the top of my head purposefully. They later said my definition was worse than hers and should not be “counted” or accepted because it was leaning towards the AFF case. My first thoughts were 1) ISN’T THAT THE POINT OF DEFINING WORDS?! to help your case????! and 2) theirs was premeditated as if thats not leaning towards the negative case who is trying to prove premeditated murder. So I guess my question is aren’t we supposed to use definitions to help our case or is that a legitimate arguing point?

      • Hi Kat,

        Focus on definitions is a big problem in debate these days. People use hokey abuse definitions which suit their case. The purpose of definitions should never be to help your case but rather just to frame the round. The purpose of the word “deliberate” in the resolution is to prevent the negative from having to hold the victim morally culpable for accidents.

        The way to avoid these types of issues is just to define the terms in your case. If your opponent challenges the definition, you need to think whether or not the definition hurts you. In this case, it doesn’t. The affirmative is required to defend premeditated attacks, and there’s no reason you can’t include premeditated attacks under your framework. If your opponent tries to make things seem bad for you, you need to think whether they actually are. If not, just accept the burden. Your judge will be more impressed with that than if you get into a definition battle.

        If the definition does make things more difficult for you, then the chances are that the definition is very abusive. If that is the case, just point it out and move on. Don’t dwell on it.

      • ok thanks. What about if my opponent states my examples are overly emotional and says they shouldn’t be used because they use ones emotions to persuade them towards the aff? I mean my respnse was the repeated domestic abuse is an overly emotional topic. That these examples I used were true which is why justice should be served to the victim and allow them to use deadly force to escape.
        Probably not the best answer but it was all I had……..

      • You should actually respond by being kind of a jerk about it. Don’t push it too far, but point how how absurd your opponent is being. Just be like, look, emotional or not, this is reality. My opponent clearly can’t find a flaw in my case, so he/she is grasping at straws. “Emotion” is not a refutation of my argument. My examples still warrant my argument, and whether you cry about it or not, I’m still right.

  50. Hey Ace! Just wanted to quickly thank you for the help, and for your willingness to do so as much as you can!
    I took your advice and guess what? I’m going to State!

    Thank you again!

    • Hi Eric,

      It is important to be careful when making claims like this. Why is self defense not deliberate? What is your warrant for this claim? You need to give me a reason or justification to explain this before you can say that it falls outside the resolution.

      • Ace,
        Sorry for not elaborating.
        First, I would like to define deliberate as premeditated, and/or done with care and intent.
        Self-defense is accepted if and only if 2 things occur:
        1) the threat must be imminent.
        2) all other options must be exhausted.
        If the threat is imminent, then self-defense is not a deliberate response.
        I know I shouldn’t be paying too much attention to the definitions, but I lost a debate round because I could not combat my opponent’s question of self-defense being a deliberate response.

      • Ok, let’s talk about that. Who defines deliberate as premeditated? And why is a decision in the moment not done with care and intent? If I think to myself, next time somebody attacks me, I’m going to fight back, is that not self defense and deliberate? Also, by that definition, my decision to eat at a particular restaurant is not deliberate if I do not carefully consider it and premeditate it. How does that make sense?

        Second, who says that those are the criteria for self defense? Is it U.S. law? Because if it is, the resolution is not U.S. specific. Not only that, the person must explain why the law is the proper metric for determining morality. If it is some philosopher, then the claim is unverified. Just because you say that’s what self defense is, it doesn’t automatically make it self defense.

        If the U.S. is threatened by nuclear attack, and we decide to send an airstrike to blow up the nukes, wasn’t that a deliberate action, and wasn’t the threat imminent? If I jump out of the way of a car about to hit me, isn’t that a deliberate action to avoid an imminent threat?

        The reason you lost is not because your opponent had good definitions, but because you didn’t properly question them. The reality is that all of that argument is a series of unverified claims. All of those things need proof, and they are all fairly easy to refute with proper rhetoric.

  51. Oh, that makes sense. Thanks!
    Also, could you give me a feedback on this neg outilne?

    I am running a V VC combo of morality and protection of fundamental rights, respectively.
    C1)The right to life cannot be forfeited in any circumstance.
    -For this contention I am going to try to tie in Deontological Ethics, and say killing is never morally permissible no matter the consequences.
    C2)Disproportionate Rights Violation.
    Repeated Domestic Violence is not the equivalent of taking one’s life.


    • Hi Eric,

      I like the contentions, particularly the first one. However, the problem is that your value structure becomes lost in your contentions. Remember, your case needs to work together as one cohesive unit.

      I recommend you change your value structure to suit your first contention. I would suggest something like a value of Moral Duty and a value criterion of whichever deontological theory you decide to use, whether it be virtue ethics, kantian ethics, or whatever.

      Hope that helps. Good luck!

      • i saw thanks alot. i didnt qulify but as team caption i have to still help them. and about the papers for $20 if you did do them would they be in more detail and such?

      • Yes, the briefs, if I do write them, would be very detailed. They would include evidence and complete position analyses along with sample cases.

    • Lol, well I’m not going to put my best material online. I save that for my students and the briefs I will eventually write 😛

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