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Resolved: Adolescents ought to have the right to make autonomous medical choices.
Welcome to a brand new debate season! Who’s excited?! I’m excited that, maybe, for the first time in nearly 5 years, the NFL will go back to the glory days of LD Debate, when topics were broad and philosophical and not stupid….or more stupid. Yay! Let’s get into it.
Adolescents – This is the group of people who are no longer children but not yet adults. The specific ages differ depending on where you are, but the age should really be irrelevant. You’re arguing the principle of whether or not these people, however society decides to define, should be able to make autonomous medical decisions.
Autonomous Medical Decisions – These are decisions one makes about his/her medical care free from outside influence or coercion. This is to say that a person can freely and independently make their own medical decisions, as an adult would.
Ought – Ought means should. Your job here is to explain how we determine what rights people should have.
Right – This is also your job to define. There are a lot of rights theories out there which explain rights in different ways. While we conceptually know what rights are, it’s important to elucidate exactly what you’re arguing for/against.
1. Veil of Ignorance – The argument here is that, from behind a veil of ignorance, all people would choose to have control over their own medical decisions. Ergo, any just social policy would dictate that adolescents have the right to make autonomous medical choices.
2. Self Determination – The right to self determination corresponds to one’s ability to be self-determinant. All beings who have such a capacity have a de facto right of self-determination which extends to medical decisions. Adolescents are self-determinant, and therefore, should have the right to make autonomous medical decisions.
1. The Categorical Imperative – Such autonomy is not universalizeable. We cannot reasonably say that all adolescents, or even all people, should have the right to make autonomous medical decisions. Therefore, we cannot say that, in general, adolescents should have the right to make autonomous medical decisions.
2. Utilitarianism – Adolescents are short sighted and prone to mistakes. Allowing them to make autonomous medical decisions would often result in harmful choices with long term consequences that they will not be able to foresee. Allowing parents to make their decisions for them is the more utilitarian approach.
I hope that helps get you started. Good luck!