09-wndi-assist-people-in-need-hanne (1)

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West Coast Publishing
2011 LD—Moral Obligation
“Resolved: Individuals have a moral obligation to assist people
in need.”
Hanne Jensen
Whitman College
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West Coast Publishing
2011 LD—Moral Obligation
Summarized Topic Description
Individuals have a moral obligation to assist people in need.
This topic, more than most Lincoln-Douglas resolutions, will depend very much on how the affirmative and
negative choose to define the separate words in the resolution. More likely than not, debates on this topic will
whittle down to what are individuals rights and responsibilities as human beings and as members of a society.
Legally, there is little doubt that most places in the world do not require any action to be taken by individuals for
the pure benefit of others, which is why this question falls into the moral spectrum.
Understanding what constitutes morality and a moral obligation is difficult because morality means different
things to different people. The various religions and cultures which compromise America, much less the world,
show clearly how people’s difference of opinions on the matter of what is right and wrong can show through their
laws and customs. In order for a resolution such as this to have any weight as a moral maxim, it should be
universal. This poses a dilemma because of the disagreements on the matter.
In addition, the potentially (but not explicitly) limiting term of “individuals” allows for a variety of interpretations.
Individuals could mean persons acting solely individually or individuals contributing to a group or organization in
order to accomplish assistance on a larger scale. It could be argued that the use of the world individuals in the
resolution means the exclusion of government or organizational involvement (that individuals rather than groups
have this moral obligation) or merely that individuals must have an involvement in the process, as there is no overt
mention of mutual exclusivity.
Determining the need of people can be tricky: in order to establish that a person is in need requires that either the
person in question consider themselves to be in need or that a third party observes them and deigns them to have
a need. Both possibilities pose a problem for the affirmative and negative as one would mean that only people
able to freely accept and express their need would be considered able to accept assistance, and the other would
allow for the imposition of alien values and judgments on people who may not want, understand, or even need
their assistance.
The very concept of assistance is riddled with its own problems as it does not specify whether or not a person is
required to make a substantial difference in the lives of people in need. Assistance could mean a comprehensive
and permanent solution to a need or it could mean a small but well-intentioned gesture of good will. Clearly, both
the negative and the affirmative debaters have their work cut out for them as far as interpreting and defining the
resolution before even debating its merits and shortcomings.
The affirmative debater would be best served by focusing on the natural equality of all people and the ability of
almost all individuals to do something to help those in need. Keeping the expansive term assistance down to
helping others help themselves or mitigating extremely forceful pressures on the needy as well as interpreting
“people” loosely, allowing it to be persons the individuals know or come into contact with daily life would make it
difficult for the negative to argue that there are not moral obligations to do small generosities. The affirmative
could successfully argue that it is more important for the individual to become involved with the fabric of
humankind in a positive way than it is to solve every major world problem.
In contrast, the negative should argue that while it is laudable for individuals to assist others in their community
and elsewhere that people have no moral obligations to assist others; the very reason that it is a good thing to do
and praiseworthy is because it is going above and beyond what is required. Additionally, the negative has the
ability to make many arguments of how individual involvement with be either ineffective or even
counterproductive to the overall goal of assisting the needy. The negative would do well to take the side of
consequentialism, that all the good intentions in the world won’t necessarily evoke any real change in the
landscape of the modern world; it is more important to cause change than it is to have an ethically motivated
populace.
Once the angles of the debate are established, it will (as usual) come down to the values. Not getting too bogged
down in advantages or disadvantages to practical implementation of either case, truly hammering home the values
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2011 LD—Moral Obligation
will be the key to success in a large number of rounds. Make sure they are clearly defined, weighed, and impacted
out throughout the entire speech.
Definitions
Individual
Merriam-Webster (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/individual)
a particular being or thing as distinguished from a class, species, or collection: as (1) : a single human
being as contrasted with a social group or institution <a teacher who works with individuals> (2) : a single
organism as distinguished from a group
Bing Dictionary (http://www.bing.com/Dictionary/search?q=define+individual&FORM=DTPDIA)
1. specific person: a specific person, distinct from others in a group
"belief in the individual's right to self-expression"
2. any person: a human being, or a person of a specified type
"a panel consisting of four individuals"
"a very unfortunate individual"
3. separate thing: a separate entity or thing
4. [biology] separate organism: an independent organism separate from a group
"The plant part contains the embryo, which gives rise to a new individual."
Although “individuals” is clearly not the most contentious term in the resolution, it is important to decide whether
or not to emphasize that individual is separate from a group. If so, the Merriam-Webster definition is probably the
best bet, but if the desired goal is to not draw attention to potential mutual exclusivity arguments, it may be
preferable to go with Bing’s second definition.
Moral obligation
The Electric Law Library (http://www.lectlaw.com/def2/m142.htm)
A duty which one owes, and which he ought to perform, but which he is not legally bound to fulfil.These
obligations are of two kinds 1st. Those founded on a natural right; as, the obligation to be charitable,
which can never be enforced by law. 2d. Those which are supported by a good or valuable antecedent
consideration; as, where a man owes a debt barred by the act of limitations, this cannot be recovered by
law, though it subsists in morality and conscience; but if the debtor promise to pay it, the moral obligation
is a sufficient consideration for the promise, and the creditor may maintain an action of assumpsit, to
recover the money.
Moral
Bing Dictionary (http://www.bing.com/dictionary/search?q=definition of moral
&qpvt=definition+of+moral+&FORM=Z7FD)
1. involving right and wrong: relating to issues of right and wrong and to how individual people should
behave
2. derived from personal conscience: based on what somebody's conscience suggests is right or wrong,
rather than on what rules or the law says should be done
3. according to common standard of justice: regarded in terms of what is known to be right or just, as
opposed to what is officially or outwardly declared to be right or just
"a moral victory."
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2011 LD—Moral Obligation
4.
5.
6.
7.
encouraging goodness and decency: giving guidance on how to behave decently and honorably
good by accepted standards: good or right, when judged by the standards of the average person or
society at large
able to tell right from wrong: able to distinguish right from wrong and to make decisions based on that
knowledge
based on personal conviction: based on an inner conviction, in the absence of physical proof
"moral certainty"
Obligation
Bing Dictionary (http://www.bing.com/Dictionary/search?q=definition+of+obligation&form=QB)
1. duty: something that must be done because of legal or moral duty
2. state of being obligated: the state of being under a moral or legal duty to do something
3. gratitude owed: something that somebody owes in return for something given, e.g. assistance or a favor
4. [law] binding legal agreement: a legal agreement by which somebody is bound to do something,
especially pay a specified amount of money
5. [law] legal contract: a legal document such as a mortgage or bond that contains the terms of an
obligation, usually including a penalty for failing to fulfill it
Included here together are the definitions of “moral obligation,” “moral,” and “obligation.” The first definition of
the combined terms is probably the most useful as it considers both terms in relation to each other as opposed to
separately. Needless to say, it also will take less time to explain in a round. If, however, the case is constructed so
to have significant debate into what constitutes a moral action or what an obligation is, it might be advisable to
define each word individually.
Assist
Merriam-Webster (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/assist?show=0&t=1310331776)
transitive verb: to give usually supplementary support or aid to <assisted the boy with his lessons>
intransitive verb: to give support or aid <assisted at the stove> <another surgeon assisted on the
operation>
The Free Dictionary (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/assist)
To give help or support to, especially as a subordinate or supplement; aid: The clerk assisted the judge by
looking up related precedents. Her breathing was assisted by a respirator.
For arguments requiring that assistance be considered generic help of any size, using the verb in the intransitive
form is preferable. For arguments that assistance would be used supplementally, use the verb in the transitive
form. Technically, the use of assist in the resolution implies a transitive grammatical structure anyway.
People
Merriam-Webster (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/people)
1. plural : human beings making up a group or assembly or linked by a common interest
2. plural : human beings, persons —often used in compounds instead of persons <salespeople> —often used
attributively <people skills>
3. plural : the members of a family or kinship
4. plural : the mass of a community as distinguished from a special class <disputes between the people and
the nobles> —often used by Communists to distinguish Communists from other people
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2011 LD—Moral Obligation
5.
6.
7.
plural peoples : a body of persons that are united by a common culture, tradition, or sense of kinship, that
typically have common language, institutions, and beliefs, and that often constitute a politically organized
group
lower animals usually of a specified kind or situation
the body of enfranchised citizens of a state
thinkexist.com (http://thinkexist.com/dictionary/meaning/people/)
1. (n.) One's subjects; fellow citizens; companions; followers.
2. (n.) Persons, generally; an indefinite number of men and women; folks; population, or part of
population; as, country people; -- sometimes used as an indefinite subject or verb, like on in French,
and man in German; as, people in adversity.
3. (n.) One's ancestors or family; kindred; relations; as, my people were English.
4. (n.) The mass of comunity as distinguished from a special class; the commonalty; the populace; the
vulgar; the common crowd; as, nobles and people.
5. (n.) The body of persons who compose a community, tribe, nation, or race; an aggregate of
individuals forming a whole; a community; a nation.
There are a surprising number of definitions of the term “people.” Avoid using MW’s definitions #3-6 and
thinkexist’s #1, 3-5 unless there is a clear purpose for attributing people to a specific group. The familial definitions
can be useful for justifications of special obligation but otherwise, as there is no clear mention of possessives in the
resolution, there should be a reason before the definition is employed as such.
Need
Merriam-Webster (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/need?show=0&t=1310333064)
1. a : a lack of something requisite, desirable, or useful
b : a physiological or psychological requirement for the well-being of an organism
2. a condition requiring supply or relief
3. lack of the means of subsistence : poverty
Dictionary.com (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/need)
1. a requirement, necessary duty, or obligation: There is no need for you to go there.
2. a lack of something wanted or deemed necessary: to fulfill the needs of the assignment.
3. urgent want, as of something requisite: He has no need of your charity.
Merriam-Webster’s second definition is probably the most accurate definition in the context of the resolution. If,
however, the goal is to argue that a need is something specific, be it food or biological necessities as opposed to an
emotional state of contentment, etc, it may be preferable to use one of the other more directed definitions.
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2011 LD—Moral Obligation
Affirmative Case
Here is an example affirmative case which may be used as it is constructed, as a starting point for possible
additions, or even just as an example.
Introduction
As the world grows more populous, tight-knit communities become rarer and rarer. It is becoming more of an
individually focused world where no one owes anything to anyone but themselves. If everyone were completely
self sufficient, this would not be a problem. But in the modern world poverty, hunger, natural disasters, and other
compromising circumstances are making the likelihood that all people are living at an acceptable standard shrink
away. A world where there can be no trust in other people, no possibility of shared experience in life with other
people, is not a hospitable world for anyone. Each person has a duty to help with what then can when they can.
Because of this fact, individuals have a moral obligation to assist people in need.
Value
Quality of Life
World Bank, 2004
"Glossary." The World Bank Group.
. Web. 10 Jul 2011.
<http://www.worldbank.org/depweb/english/beyond/global/glossary.html>.
People's overall well-being. Quality of life is difficult to measure (whether for an individual, group, or nation) because in
addition to material well-being (see standard of living) it includes such intangible components as the quality of
the environment, national security, personal safety, and political and economic freedoms.
By assisting people in need, their quality of life will be improved because a wrong will be righted, their needs
aided. They are not the only ones who will benefit, however: when the overall needs of the community are
addressed, everyone benefits and a higher standard of living and quality of life is achieved for all. Without quality
of life, life itself is meaningless. Because of this, it is the first thing that should be valued.
Value Criterion
Individual Responsibility
"Wordnet." Princeton Wordnet 3.1. Princeton University, 2011. Web. 10 Jul 2011.
<http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=responsibility⊂=Search+WordNet&o2=&o0=1&o8=1&o1=1&o7=&o5=&o9=&o6=&o3=&o4
=&h=>.
(the
social force that binds you to the courses of action demanded by that force) "we must instill a sense of
duty in our children"; "every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity, an obligation; every possession,
a duty"- John D.Rockefeller Jr
Everyone has the ability to help and if everyone does their part, then everyone will reap the benefits. Advocating
individual responsibility is the only way that the quality of life can be raised to its fullest potential.
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2011 LD—Moral Obligation
Contention One: Without individual investment, communities
deteriorate
A. Individual apathy on matters of communal interest will create discord.
The Atlantic, Internationally acclaimed social and political commentary periodical, March 1982
http://www.theatlantic.com/ideastour/archive/windows.html
We have difficulty thinking about such matters, not simply because the ethical and legal issues are so complex but because we
have
become accustomed to thinking of the law in essentially individualistic terms. The law defines my rights,
punishes his behavior and is applied by that officer because of this harm. We assume, in thinking this way, that what is good for
the individual will be good for the community and what doesn't matter when it happens to one
person won't matter if it happens to many. Ordinarily, those are plausible assumptions. But in cases where
behavior that is tolerable to one person is intolerable to many others, the reactions of the others-fear, withdrawal, flight--may ultimately make matters worse for everyone, including the individual
who first professed his indifference.
Taking other persons’ wants and needs into consideration when deciding what our actions will be is the only way
to make a truly cohesive society that will benefit everyone. If people are wholly self-centric, nothing can be
accomplished and no progress can be made.
B. Without assistance by individuals, communities will deteriorate; famous broken
windows theory proves.
The Atlantic, Internationally acclaimed social and political commentary periodical, March 1982
http://www.theatlantic.com/ideastour/archive/windows.html
Philip Zimbardo, a Stanford psychologist, reported in 1969 on some experiments testing the brokenwindow theory. He arranged to have an automobile without license plates parked with its hood up on a street in the Bronx and a
comparable automobile on a street in Palo Alto, California. The car in the Bronx was attacked by "vandals" within ten minutes of its
"abandonment." The first to arrive were a family--father, mother, and young son--who removed the radiator and battery. Within twenty-four
hours, virtually everything of value had been removed. Then random destruction began--windows were smashed, parts torn off, upholstery
ripped. Children began to use the car as a playground. Most of the adult "vandals" were well-dressed, apparently clean-cut whites. The car in
Palo Alto sat untouched for more than a week. Then Zimbardo smashed part of it with a sledgehammer. Soon, passersby were joining in. Within
a few hours, the car had been turned upside down and utterly destroyed. Again, the "vandals" appeared to be primarily respectable whites.
Untended property becomes fair game for people out for fun or plunder and even for people who
ordinarily would not dream of doing such things and who probably consider themselves law-abiding.
Because of the nature of community life in the Bronx--its anonymity, the frequency with which cars are abandoned and things are stolen or
broken, the past experience of "no one caring"--vandalism begins much more quickly than it does in staid Palo Alto, where people have come to
believe that private possessions are cared for, and that mischievous behavior is costly. But vandalism
can occur anywhere once
communal barriers--the sense of mutual regard and the obligations of civility--are lowered by actions
that seem to signal that "no one cares." We suggest that "untended" behavior also leads to the breakdown
of community controls. A stable neighborhood of families who care for their homes, mind each
other's children, and confidently frown on unwanted intruders can change, in a few years or even a
few months, to an inhospitable and frightening jungle. A piece of property is abandoned, weeds grow up, a window is
smashed. Adults stop scolding rowdy children; the children, emboldened, become more rowdy. Families move out, unattached adults move in.
Teenagers gather in front of the corner store. The merchant asks them to move; they refuse. Fights occur. Litter accumulates. People start
drinking in front of the grocery; in time, an inebriate slumps to the sidewalk and is allowed to sleep it off. Pedestrians are approached by
panhandlers.
A society that is not aware of itself as a group where individuals can affect the well-beings of others is one that will
slowly deteriorate. The opposite holds true as well: when people are invested in other people in the world, bonds
are formed which are symbiotically beneficial.
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2011 LD—Moral Obligation
C. Individual participation in communities and societies helps to improve quality of
life.
Robert Costanza et al, various leaders in the field of Anthropology, Sociology, etc. December 2008
For example, objective measures
include indices of economic production, literacy rates, life expectancy, and
other data that can be gathered without directly surveying the individuals being assessed. Objective
indicators may be used singly or in combination to form summary indexes, such as the UN’s Human Development Index (Sen, 1985; UNDP,
1998). While these
measurements may provide a snapshot of how well some physical and social needs
are met, they are narrow, opportunity-biased, and cannot incorporate many issues that contribute to
QOL such as identity, participation, and psychological security. It is also clear that these so-called “objective”
measures are actually proxies for experience identified through ”subjective” associations of decision-makers; hence the distinction between
objective and subjective indicators is somewhat illusory. Subjective indicators of
QOL gain their impetus, in part, from
the observation that many objective indicators merely assess the opportunities that individuals have
to improve QOL rather than assessing QOL itself. Thus economic production may best be seen as a means to a potentially
(but not necessarily) improved QOL rather than an end in itself. In addition, unlike most objective measures of QOL, subjective measures
typically rely on survey or interview tools to gather respondents’ own assessments of their lived experiences in the form of self-reports of
satisfaction, happiness, well-being or some other near-synonym. Rather than presume the importance of various life domains (e.g., life
expectancy or material goods), subjective measures can also tap the perceived significance of the domain (or “need”) to the respondent. Diener
and Suh (1999) provide convincing evidence that subjective indicators are valid measures of what people perceive to be important to their
happiness and well-being.
Action by governments and organizations are not enough to create true improvement in quality of life. Individual
action, individual care must be taken, because quality of life is not limited to just the basic physical needs that
comprise standards of living. Quality of life includes a semblance of connections between people, psychological
and emotional well being. Merely reaching out is assisting those in need.
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2011 LD—Moral Obligation
Contention Two: Obligation is limited to ability and required of all
A. Kant instructs that the practical construction of morals insists that they must be
universalizable.
Garth Kemerling, contributor to the online philosophical dictionary philosophypages.com, 2003
http://www.philosophypages.com/hy/5i.htm
Constrained only by the principle of universalizability, the practical reason of any rational being
understands the categorical imperative to be: "Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at
the same time will that it should become a universal law." That is, each individual agent regards itself
as determining, by its decision to act in a certain way, that everyone (including itself) will always act
according to the same general rule in the future. This expression of the moral law, Kant maintained, provides a concrete,
practical method for evaluating particular human actions of several distinct varieties.
It would be unreasonable to argue that some people should contribute and some should not. The fact is, everyone
can assist those in need, and they don’t have to (nor should they) go beyond their means to do so. Whether it is a
billionaire donating substantial sums to a charitable organization or a child sharing a piece of her sandwich with a
homeless person, both are contributing.
B. Moral obligation does not depend on a certain position an individual occupies in
life.
Olufemu Badru, Department of Philosophy, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria, December 2009
http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.whitman.edu:2048/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=7e70c8c7-36fa-47fa-ac65e76d59278270%40sessionmgr113&vid=2&hid=111
In other words, from the foregoing, the point is that while obligation
results from contract-like relations or simply
contractarianism between the self and the other, duty results from the fact of occupying a position of responsibility; duty
is a certain job of value expected of a person who occupies the position.
Moral obligations do not arise from people earning or losing certain rights. The difference between duty and
obligation is that duty is something expected of a person because of who they are or what they are capable of
doing. Obligation is a relationship between a person and another, based on the nature that they are both people.
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2011 LD—Moral Obligation
Contention Three: Special obligation is destructive to living in modern
society
A. The “bad Samaritan” is morally reprehensible.
RJ Howard, MD, Surgeon University of Florida School of Medecine, August 2006
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Feinberg would characterize one who refuses permission to recover organs as a ‘bad samaritan’.
A bad samaritan ‘is a stranger
standing in no “special relationship” to the endangered party; who omits to do something— warn of
unperceived peril, undertake rescue, seek aid, notify police, protect against further injury [provide organs
from deceased individuals]—for the endangered party; which he could have done without unreasonable cost
or risk to himself or others; as a result of which the other party suffers harm, or an increased risk of
harm and for these reasons the omitter is “bad” (morally blameworthy)’. Some countries in Europe
even have laws against the bad samaritan who fails to undertake easy rescue.
If we see that something is wrong and do not try to make it better when we have the capacity to do so, we are the
Bad Samaritan. We have a responsibility to do what we can if it does not create an “unreasonable cost or risk to
ourselves or others.” This is our responsibility as individuals, our moral obligation to improve the quality of life by
assisting people in need.
B. Persons have a right to be treated with respect regardless of their place of origin.
Olufemu Badru, Department of Philosophy, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria, December 2009
http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.whitman.edu:2048/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=7e70c8c7-36fa-47fa-ac65e76d59278270%40sessionmgr113&vid=2&hid=111
Kant’s conception consists in the right
of a stranger not to be treated in a hostile manner by another upon his arrival on the other’s territory,
and this hospitable treatment is to continue so long as the stranger behaves peacefully, in the society
of his host.
Founding his justification on the right of common possession of the surface of the earth,
Whether a person is our neighbor or lives a million miles away, whether they are citizens or foreigners, all deserve
to be treated with equal respect. Often we will only help those people we are close to, or whose well being
directly affects us. This is the problem of special obligation, which stands in the way of improving the lives of the
needy.
C. Special obligation is irrelevant, we have an obligation to help strangers just as much
as those we know.
RJ Howard, MD, Surgeon University of Florida School of Medecine, August 2006
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Ross suggests that the
obligations of beneficence ‘rest on the mere fact that there are other beings in the
world whose condition we can make better’. I believe he would agree that we have an obligation to benefit
others, even persons we do not know.
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Negative
Introduction
It is not unique to the modern condition that there are people in need all around the world. Now and
throughout history, there have been times when people have had to rely on each other survive, much
less live happily and contentedly. There is no dispute about that. A clarification must be made, though.
While it is indeed formidable for one person to help another, to promote interpersonal relationships, it
is not required. No person owes another anything just by nature of being alive. To claim otherwise
would be to nullify basic concepts such as freedom, autonomy, and justice. It is with this in mind that I
argue individuals have no moral obligation to assist people in need.
Value
Freedom
"Wordnet." Princeton Wordnet 3.1. Princeton University, 2011. Web. 10 Jul 2011.
http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=freedom
the condition of being free; the power to act or speak or think without externally imposed restraints
Freedom is a prerequisite to individuals having any individual power whatsoever. To determine what obligations
an individual has, they must first be considered free actors, otherwise any agency is removed from the question
and the discussion of moral obligation of individual action is moot.
Value Criterion
Autonomy
Dictionary.com online dictionary 2011
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/autonomy
independence or freedom, as of the will or one's actions: the autonomy of the individual.
In order to have truly free individuals, they must be autonomous, capable of making their own decision with their
own free will. Anything less would be a result of coercion of the exertion of one will onto another’s, an inherently
immoral act to begin with.
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Contention One: Individuals do not have a moral obligation to assist
others.
A. While it is commendable to assist the distant needy, people are not morally
obligated to do so; it is supererogatory.
Olufemu Badru, Department of Philosophy, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria, December 2009
http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.whitman.edu:2048/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=7e70c8c7-36fa-47fa-ac65e76d59278270%40sessionmgr113&vid=2&hid=111
the duty of assistance is very important to
Rawl’s internationalism. As stated in the earlier part of this work, it is the only principle that shows that the society of
peoples owes anything at all to the distant other in the sense of positive action to bring the peoples in
the burdened societies out of their problems. Laudable as this principle might have otherwise been, its central defect lies in
the supererogatory implication. The principle grants a duty that does not morally obligate society of
peoples to help the distant needy in those burdened societies. What it allows to get to those needy
peoples is just humanitarian services. Thus , the recipients of the assistance from the society of peoples
are deprived of any moral right to make a morally binding demand on the society of people if they fail
to fulfill this duty of assistance.
Although it is the last in the listing of the principles that under pin the society of peoples,
Although people in need may indeed have a right to receive aid, there is no obligation for individuals to give that
aid. Even though this seems somewhat contradictory, it is a question of moral obligation for separate individuals
and groups. People assisting those in need is laudable, it is not required.
B. The moral obligation to assist others is limited to not causing harm to ourselves.
RJ Howard, MD, Surgeon University of Florida School of Medecine, August 2006
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In developing his thoughts about ‘the obligation to assist’, Peter Singer separates preventing evil from promoting good and contends ‘if
it is
in our power to prevent something bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything of
comparable moral importance, we ought, morally, to do it’. Slote argues that ‘one has an obligation to
prevent serious evil or harm when one can do so without seriously interfering with one’s life
plans or style and without doing any wrongs of commission’.
To further the point, there is no call for people to give in a way that will negatively affect them. Because they are
not obligated to give anything, there is no way to claim any specific “appropriate” amount. For a person to give
beyond their means or to negatively affect their ability to give in the future would be counterproductive to the
very nature of aid.
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Contention Two: Competent individuals have the right to make their
own decisions.
A. Before autonomy can be usurped, incompetency to make decisions must be
determined.
TL Zutlevics, PhD in Philosophy Flinders University and PH Henning, MD Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Australia, December
2005 http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.whitman.edu:2048/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=6a64c405-eba3-4b9f-a4d3e99c550494e8%40sessionmgr113&vid=2&hid=111
If we are going to override someone’s autonomy the general view is that we should have very good reasons
before doing so. One such reason would be if the person were deemed incompetent to make a decision. It is permissible to act
in the interests of a person in a situation where they are deemed incompetent to make a decision.
An individual’s autonomy is key to their freedom, and therefore should not be mitigated by others. The liberties
we give up in order to live in a certain societies are exempt from this rule because they are sacrificed by the choice
of the individual. To impose a moral obligation on someone against their will would undermine their autonomy,
thus compromising their freedom.
B. Individuals should judge what they deem to be morally right and then act
accordingly
Larry Krasnoff, Professor of Philosophy at College of Charleston South Carolina, October 2010
http://ejournals.ebsco.com.ezproxy.whitman.edu:2048/Direct.asp?AccessToken=5WN4444TRZPSQYJJW66BQSUPZYPBTRN69U&Show=Object
Of course we ought
to do what we judge to be good, and of course we ought to do it because of its goodness. The
we ought to exercise
our autonomous judgment about what to believe, but just as certainly we ought to believe what we
judge to be true, independently of anything about ourselves. In the theoretical case, our thoughts are
necessarily directed towards objects beyond ourselves, and so the role of our will must be to
subordinate itself to our best judgments about the nature of the object.
model here is one of recognition, drawn without fundamental alteration from the case of belief. Certainly
Moral obligations must be the results of our reasoning and judgments. If that happens to coincide with the
reasoning and judgments of everyone else in the world, then of course we should do what we deem to be good.
But it is a decision that must be arrived at from within, not an externally advocated obligation.
C. No moral obligation be universal in our culture, the only way it can be determined is
on an individual basis.
Ana Iltis, Center for Health Care Ethics, Saint Louis University, 2003
http://proquest.umi.com.ezproxy.whitman.edu:2048/pqdweb?index=0&did=575822021&SrchMode=1&sid=1&Fmt=10&VInst=PROD&VType=P
QD&RQT=309&VName=PQD&TS=1310274871&clientId=48453
The multiplicity of autonomous selves do not sustain a single standard of morality. MacIntyre argues that we
possess “the fragments of a conceptual scheme….We possess indeed simulacra of morality, we continue to use
many of the key expressions. But we have – very largely if not entirely – lost our comprehension, both
theoretical and practical, of morality.” The most striking feature of contemporary moral debates is “that they apparently can find no
terminus. There seems to be no rational way of securing moral agreement in our culture,” The ongoing debate
concerning the morality of immorality of abortion is a clear example of this lack of agreement or spectrum of views. There are significant
disputes concerning the moral and legal permissibility of abortion.
A successful account of moral integrity and moral
responsibility, therefore, cannot be universal but must be situated in a particular context. Absent a
universal understanding of morality, no single sense of moral obligation is available. There
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appears to be no framework within which we may justifiably assert that all individuals are morally
obligated in particular ways beyond a limited set of side constraints we may recognize as universal .
It
nevertheless is the case that we routinely wish to attribute moral obligations to individuals and to understand the moral obligations particular
persons bear. We
may understand particular individuals as having particular obligations only with an
appreciation of their moral characters and moral integrity. Moral character allows us to attribute
moral obligations, and moral integrity is the mechanism by which we can evaluate the extent to which
they satisfy the obligations.
As each person experiences reality in a very different way and holds different values in higher esteem than others
(examples include religion, politics, even this round), we each have different views of what constitutes moral
action. The concept of universal morality is an illusion, so saying that every individual has the same moral
obligation (to assist those in need) is laughable. Only individual morality can exist.
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Contention Three: Mass individual giving is harmful to social reform
A. Charitable giving distracts from the real problem and PREVENTS opportunities for
lasting change.
BBC Ethics Guide, 2011
http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/charity/against_1.shtml
Indeed charitable giving
may even distract from finding the best solution - which might involve a
complex rethink of the way the world organises its economic relationships, and large-scale
government initiatives to change people's conditions. If that is so, then the effort put into charity might
be better devoted to pressuring governments to bring about needed change. And governments might be more
likely to focus on dealing with poverty if they weren't being helped by charities.
By attempting to fix the effects of injustice without addressing the cause, people are creating an endless cycle of
the very problems they are trying to prevent. Individuals do not have the capability to change the world alone;
they may affect some changes on the micro scale, but cannot solve for corrupt governments, failing economies, or
genocides. Larger action is needed to solve the root problems.
B. An influx in charity spending results in a certain area, the government will cut
spending to areas that need it, stagnating growth.
BBC Ethics Guide, 2011
http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/charity/against_1.shtml
The argument goes something like this. If
the charity sector increases spending in an area also funded by
government then there is a risk that government will choose to spend less in that area with the result that
governments save money, and extra benefits provided by the charity spend are reduced.
When aid is given to a certain area of need by individuals, governments will stop sending as much assistance so
that they may afford to help in other areas, leaving large problems to individual assistance. Not only will benefits
that only the government can offer be cut, but also the stability of aid will be compromised. If individual aid shifts,
the area they were supporting will be left with nothing.
C. By individually assisting the needy, people will lose the desire to affect real
collective social reform and no real change will happen.
BBC Ethics Guide, 2011
http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/charity/against_1.shtml
This isn't a new argument: “ It is more
socially injurious for the millionaire to spend his surplus wealth in
charity than in luxury. For by spending it on luxury, he chiefly injures himself and his immediate circle, but by spending it in charity he
inflicts a graver injury upon society. For every act of charity, applied to heal suffering arising from defective
arrangements of society, serves to weaken the personal springs of social reform, alike by the
'miraculous' relief it brings to the individual 'case' that is relieved, and by the softening influence it
exercises on the hearts and heads of those who witness it. It substitutes the idea and the desire of
individual reform for those of social reform, and so weakens the capacity for collective self-help in
society,” (J A Hobson, Work and Wealth, 1914).
If people are satiated by donating their five dollars a month to the AIDS foundation, they will assume their moral
obligation has been “fulfilled” (and in some interpretations, it has). This will cause a complete stagnation of social
reform and the change needs to happen as advocated by the affirmative. Not only will individuals be less
passionate about assisting the needy, but governments will cease to be pressured as heavily to effect real change.
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Affirmative Blocks
Moral Obligations Don’t Discriminate Against People
Kant’s claims only justify assistance to people living in the territory of the assister, not
for all people everywhere.
Olufemu Badru, Department of Philosophy, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria, December 2009
http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.whitman.edu:2048/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=7e70c8c7-36fa-47fa-ac65e76d59278270%40sessionmgr113&vid=2&hid=111
First, the Kantian conception of universal
hospitality only entail doing good to a stranger/foreigner when he is within the territory of the host.
Thus, Kantian universal hospitality should rather be rendered as ‘domestic hospitality towards strangers/foreigners.’ Second, following from
the first point, the Kantian conception of universal hospitality does not, and can even not, justify doing good in a
morally obligatory way to a distant needy, since this is outside its conceptual scope.
At least, two points are deducible from Kan’ts conception of universal hospitality.
Everyone has an obligation to assist people living in absolute poverty.
Squidoo.com, political and philosophical commentary website, 2011
http://www.squidoo.com/worldhunger#
In Asia, Africa, and Latin America, over 500
Million people are living in what the World Bank has defined as
"absolute poverty." When reading the title of this article, in knowing that 15 Million children die from hunger each year, how could
one possibly reject the idea that we have a moral obligation to help? In truth, many may think we do
have an obligation to the less fortunate. Yet, our actions often validate the arguments against helping
those in need. Is our wealth maintained by the exploitation of the innocent throughout the world? Is poverty a natural phenomenon? At
the very least, each citizen of the world owes this issue great consideration. Perhaps no one is innocent, we are all guilty of
failing to break poverty's endless cycle.
The moral obligation to assist people in need transcends time, location, and culture.
Thomas Pogge, German philosopher, Director of the Global Justice Program and Leitner Professor of Philosophy and International Affairs at
Yale University, Jan-Mar 2000
http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.whitman.edu:2048/stable/25115635?seq=2
Fourth, with respect
to these moral concerns, all human beings have equal status: They have exactly the
same human rights, and the moral significance of these rights and their fulfillment does not vary with
whose human rights are at stake. Fifth, human rights express moral concerns that are unrestricted, i.e.,
they ought to be respected by all human agents irrespective of their particular epoch, culture, religion,
moral tradition or philosophy. Sixth, these moral concerns are broadly sharable, i.e., capable of being understood and appreciated
by persons from different epochs and cultures as well as by adherents of a variety of different religions, moral traditions, and philosophies.
The notions of unrestrictedness and broad sharability are related in that we tend to feel more
confident about conceiving of a moral concern as unrestricted when this concern is not parochial to
some particular epoch, culture, religion, moral tradition or philosophy.
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Individuals Are Necessary in Evaluating Moral Obligations
Questions of morality are always ascribed to the individual.
Jan Narveson, ethics philosopher, 2002
http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.whitman.edu:2048/stable/25115724?seq=2
The question for morals is always and fundamentally cast in individual terms: what is this, that, or the other
person to do? If we think that there are things which groups should do, those claims will say nothing to
anyone unless there is some way of understanding that individuals, such as members of that group of
persons affected by its behavior, have duties or rights or some other moral status in relation to it.
Individuals have a moral obligation to respect human rights, even if that means
disregarding other considerations.
Thomas Pogge, German philosopher, Director of the Global Justice Program and Leitner Professor of Philosophy and International Affairs at
Yale University, Jan-Mar 2000
http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.whitman.edu:2048/stable/25115635?seq=2
Persons have a moral duty to respect human rights, a duty that does not derive from a more general
moral duty to comply with national or international legal instruments. (In fact, the opposite may hold:
Conformity with human rights is a moral requirement on any legal order, whose capacity to create
moral obligations depends in part on such conformity.) Second, human rights express weighty moral
concerns, which normally override other normative considerations. Third, these moral concerns are focused on human
beings, as all of them and they alone have human rights and the special moral status associated therewith. Fourth, with respect to these moral
concerns, all human beings have equal status: They have exactly the same human rights, and the moral significance of these rights and their
fulfillment does not vary with whose human rights are at stake. Fifth, human rights express moral concerns that are unrestricted, i.e., they
ought to be respected by all human agents irrespective of their particular epoch, culture, religion, moral tradition or philosophy. Sixth, these
moral concerns are broadly sharable, i.e., capable of being understood and appreciated by persons from different epochs and cultures as well
as by adherents of a variety of different religions, moral traditions, and philosophies. The notions of unrestrictedness and broad sharability are
related in that we tend to feel more confident about conceiving of a moral concern as unrestricted when this concern is not parochial to some
particular epoch, culture, religion, moral tradition or philosophy.
A2: Consequentialism
Morality is about the duty, not necessarily about what happens after.
William Haines, Professor at University of Hong Kong, March 2006
http://www.iep.utm.edu/conseque/
Consequentialism is controversial. Various nonconsequentialist views are that morality
is all about doing one’s duty,
respecting rights, obeying nature, obeying God, obeying one’s own heart, actualizing one’s own
potential, being reasonable, respecting all people, or not interfering with others—no matter the
consequences.
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Moral Obligations Require Doing Something Good, Not Just Not Doing
Something Bad
We have moral duties not only to prevent from doing harm but also to take positive
action.
Thomas Pogge, German philosopher, Director of the Global Justice Program and Leitner Professor of Philosophy and International Affairs at
Yale University, Jan-Mar 2000
The first understanding
conceives human rights as moral rights that every human being has against
every other human being or perhaps, more generally, against every other human agent (where this also includes
collective agents, such as groups, firms, or governments). Given this understanding of human rights it matters greatly
whether one then postulates human rights that impose only negative duties (to avoid depriving) or whether one instead postulates human
A human right to freedom from assault might then
give every human agent merely a weighty moral duty to refrain from assaulting any human being or
also an additional weighty moral duty to help protect any human beings from assaults and their
effects.
rights that in addition impose positive duties (to protect and/or to aid).
It is better to inadvertently cause harm while trying to help than to let current harm
happen and do nothing.
Gerhard Øverland, expert in Philosophy, Anthropology, and Sociology, June 2008
http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.whitman.edu:2048/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=2&hid=106&sid=ab3a18c7-0387-4711-aed1ca0914161581%40sessionmgr114
Two questions call for extra attention, namely to determine the significance of being an innocent contributor to harm and the significance of
being a culpable bystander. Because although
it is uncontroversial to assume severe implications following from
being a culpable contributor, and no implications from being an innocent bystander, the significance of these
other two options are routinely challenged. I argue that by merely being an innocent contributor to harm one
acquires a duty to shoulder a fair share of the harm in question. Even though one innocently causes
harm, one has a duty to shoulder a fifty percent of the harm, or risk of harm, and not to leave a victim
to shoulder the whole load. I then go on to shed light on the significance of being a culpable bystander by evaluating situations in
which we can choose between forcing contributors and bystanders. I propose that in a choice between imposing cost on an
innocent contributor and a culpable bystander, we should impose it on the latter. If I am right in this
judgement, we have reason to believe that culpable bystanders may be subjected to substantial force
to ensure they help protect people in need.
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HUMANS ARE MORALLY OBLIGATED TO CARE FOR THE GOOD OF OTHERS
A. INDIVIDUALS ARE INEVITABLY PART OF COMMUNITIES AND MUST BE CONCERNED FOR OTHERS
Linda Fisher, Associate Professor of Law and Director, Center for Social Justice, Seton Hall University
School of Law, YALE LAW AND POLICY REVIEW, 2000, p. 357-358.
It is helpful to view the issue not only from the perspective of the individual, but also from a collective
vantage point. That is, individuals are inevitably part of many communities - national, ethnic, religious,
and the like. Any complete picture of human life must capture the individual embedded within those
larger structures, since no one can live in complete isolation. Thus recast, the issue becomes not
whether we as individuals desire communal life, or whether we think it is good, but what sort of
community or communities we want. How can communities best ensure that they promote human
flourishing and well-being? The individual is no more fundamental or primary than the communities in
which she is embedded. Etzioni appropriately emphasizes the need to balance autonomy with concern
for order.
B. THE BENEFITS OF THE COMMON GOOD ARE AVAILABLE TO EVERYONE
Claire Andre and Manuel Velasquez, NQA, ISSUES IN ETHICS, Spring 1992, p. 3.
As these examples suggest, the common good doe not just happen. Establishing and maintaining the
common good requires the cooperative efforts of some, often of many, people. Just as keeping a park
free of litter depends on each user picking up after himself, so also maintaining the social conditions
from which we all benefit requires the cooperative efforts of citizens. But these efforts pay off, for the
common good is a good to which all members of society have access, and from whose enjoyment no
one can be easily excluded. All persons for example, enjoy the benefits of clean air or an unpolluted
environment, or any of our society's other common goods. In fact, something counts as a common good
only to the extent that it is a good to which all have access.
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COMMUNITARIANISM ADDRESSES THE NEEDS OF EVERYONE
A. COMMUNITARIANISM INVOLVES A RESPONSIBILITY TO OTHERS
Henry Tam, Chair of UK Communitarian Forum, COMMUNITARIANISM, 1998, p. 121.
Central to the communitarian message is the notion of responsi¬bility. How individuals behave affects
the well being of others. No citizen of an inclusive community can be allowed to entertain the delusion
that responsibility cannot be properly ascribed in the world in which we live. Apart from genuine
ignorance when there is no indication that a person should or could have found out about the
unforeseen harm of his or her actions, and involuntary behaviour arising from the physical force of
others or the psychological disruptions within a person, there are no grounds for denying that each
individual is responsible for his or her behaviour and its effects on others (for a detailed exposition of
the concept of responsibility, see Tam, 1990).
B. SOCIETY-BASED ETHICS DO NOT THREATEN INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS
Linda Fisher, Associate Professor of Law and Director, Center for Social Justice, Seton Hall University
School of Law, YALE LAW AND POLICY REVIEW, 2000, p. 356.
Although many Americans are instinctively repelled by the notion of a social order that can trump
individual preference, and therefore may recoil at Etzioni's prioritization of social order in a
communitarian democracy, order need not be oppressive. Order can merely refer to the collective
determination of appropriate moral conduct and the preservation of public health and safety. The same
concept can be rephrased as "the public interest." A decent community must, of course, promote the
well-being of its individual members…. In a constitutional democracy, citizens may participate to define
its content, both politically and morally, with constraints produced by recognition of individual rights, a
commitment to constitutionalism, adherence to fair procedures, and a fundamental respect for others'
subcultural values. Consequently, a social order may exist that adequately recognizes and protects
individual rights, particularly the rights of less powerful members of society. Therefore, as Etzioni
repeatedly emphasizes, protecting the social order need not threaten individual rights that are
necessary to encourage an optimal degree of individual autonomy.
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THE GENERAL PRINCIPAL OF SELF-INTEREST IS ANTI-DEMOCRATIC
1. THE FOUNDING FATHERS VALUED THE COMMON GOOD ABOVE INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY Tim Fort,
Assistant Professor, University of Michigan, AMERICAN BUSINESS LAW JOURNAL, Spring 1999, p. 410.
One of the most ardent Federalist judges, Samuel Chase, viewed the democratic principles coming from
the atheistic and rationalistic French Revolution to be a dangerous corruption of virtue required for the
success of American government. Individual liberty was to flourish within the constraints of a common
good that allowed freedom to elect leaders. According to Presser, once leaders were elected, the
English notion of government insisted that leaders thereafter were not to be criticized. John Marshall's
interpretation of the Constitution strongly in favor of individual liberties created an "original
misunderstanding" of the Constitution - according to Presser -which rejected the divinely-directed
requirements of a citizen's life in favor of a Constitution understood only as a protector of individual
freedom. This original misunderstanding effectively divorced republicanism from liberalism because it
replaced support for the common good with protection of individual liberty.
2. RUTHLESS INDIVIDUALISM IS ANTI-DEMOCRATIC
Claire Andre and Manuel Velasquez, NQA, ISSUES IN ETHICS, Spring 1992, p. 1.
It is precisely this sense of common purpose and public spirit crucial to the guidance of institutions in a
democracy that is absent from our society today. A ruthless individualism, expressed primarily through a
market mentality, has invaded every sphere of our lives, undermining those institutions, such as the
family or the university, that have traditionally functioned as foci of collective purposes, history, and
culture. This lack of common purpose and concern for the common good bodes ill for a people claiming
to be a democracy. Caught up in our private pursuits, we allow the workings of our major institutions -the economy and government -- to go on "over our heads." One way of summing up the difficulty
Americans have in understanding the fundamental roots of their problems is to say that they still have a
Lockean political culture, emphasizing individual freedom and the pursuit of individual affluence (the
American dream) in a society with a most un-Lockean economy and government. We have the illusion
that we can control our fate because individual economic opportunity is indeed considerable, especially
if one starts with middle class advantages; and our political life is formally free. Yet powerful forces
affecting the lives of all of us are not operating under the norm of democratic consent. In particular, the
private governments of the great corporations make decisions on the basis of their own advantage, not
of the public good. The federal government has enormously increased its power, especially in the form
of the military industrial complex, in ways that are almost invulnerable to citizen knowledge, much less
control, on the grounds of national defense. The private rewards and the formal freedoms have
obscured from us how much we have lost in genuine democratic control of the society we live in.
3. VALUING THE COLLECTIVE GOOD IS MOST DEMOCRATIC
Andrei Marmor, JD, THE CANADIAN JOURNAL OF LAW AND JURISPRUDENCE, July 2001, p. 215.
The concept of a collective good is the easiest to define: collective goods are those which require some
form of collective action to produce. What marks this concept of a good only concerns its typical
production process. There is a considerable variety of goods in our societies which can only be produced
collectively, that is, by the concerted action of numerous individuals, institutions, and agencies.
Consider, for example, the goods of national security, the protection of the environment, democratic
decision procedures, adequate health care, and perhaps also science and education; all these goods
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require collective action to produce. Note, however, that there is an element of contingency in this
characterization. The production of goods may vary with circumstances. In some societies, or under
certain circumstances, the production of a given good may require collective action, whereas in others,
it may not. Consider the good of clean air, for example. The production of clean air becomes a collective
action problem only in societies which actually face a problem of pollution. If there is no pollution, such
as in distant rural communities, perhaps, there is no need to produce clean air, and clean air becomes a
good people can enjoy without any communal aspect whatsoever. On the other hand, certain goods are
essentially of such a nature that their production involves a collectivity. Democratic political procedures,
for example, are of such an essentially collective nature. People cannot produce or have a democracy by
themselves.
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COMMON GOOD IS THE ONLY WAY TO ADDRESS THE PROBLEMS
HUMANITY FACES
1. WE MUST FORGO OUR SELFISH INTERESTS TO SOLVE ISSUES THAT THREATEN HUMANITY
Claire Andre and Manuel Velasquez, NQA, ISSUES IN ETHICS, Spring 1992, p. 5.
This reinvigoration of democracy is not proposed as an idealistic project but as a practical necessity. The authors
write that nowhere is the need more evident than in the international sphere, where problems are beyond the
capacity of any single nation to solve. Our economic life is dominated by the dynamics of a vast world market that
cannot be controlled by the action of any single nation-state. Problems of environmental pollution transcend
national boundaries. The proliferation of nuclear weapons threatens the security of all. Vast disparities in global
wealth and power lead to petering conflicts that endanger economic health and political security around the
world. In a world of increasing complexity and interdependence, we can no longer afford "to go our own way."
Rather, we need to exercise our capacity for developing institutions that recognize our interconnectedness,
moving toward the creation of "the good society," "where the common good is the pursuit of the good in
common."
2. RAWL’S NOTION OF THE PUBLIC GOOD PROTECTS THE MINORITIES FROM OPPRESSIONCarlos A. Ball, Associate
Professor, University of Illinois College of Law, CORNELL LAW REVIEW, January 2000, p. 457.Rawls defines public
reason in a democracy as "the reason of its citizens, of those sharing the status of equal citizenship. The subject of
their reason is the good of the public: what the political conception of justice requires of society's basic structure
of institutions, and of the purposes and ends they are to serve." Rawls's view of public reason is consistent with
his original position heuristic, which posits that citizens who do not know their individual characteristics or their
places in society's economic and social hierarchies would serve as the optimal prototypes for establishing
fundamental principles of justice. As citizens move from the original position to later stages in the creation of a
well-ordered society, they can gradually lift the veil of ignorance. Even when citizens are at the last stage of the
process, when they publicly debate particular policy issues within an established constitutional system, Rawls still
calls for a separation between political values, which go to the right, and nonpolitical normative and moral values,
which go to the good. Rawls explains that this separation protects the political discourse and democratic process,
as well as individuals, from majoritarian definitions of the good.3. THE BENEFITS OF THE COMMON GOOD ARE
AVAILABLE TO EVERYONE
Claire Andre and Manuel Velasquez, NQA, ISSUES IN ETHICS, Spring 1992, p. 3.
As these examples suggest, the common good doe not just happen. Establishing and maintaining the common
good requires the cooperative efforts of some, often of many, people. Just as keeping a park free of litter depends
on each user picking up after himself, so also maintaining the social conditions from which we all benefit requires
the cooperative efforts of citizens. But these efforts pay off, for the common good is a good to which all members
of society have access, and from whose enjoyment no one can be easily excluded. All persons for example, enjoy
the benefits of clean air or an unpolluted environment, or any of our society's other common goods. In fact,
something counts as a common good only to the extent that it is a good to which all have access.
4. FAILING TO HELP THOSE IN NEED IS MORALLY AKIN TO MURDER
Claire Andre and Manuel Velasquez, NQA, ISSUES IN ETHICS, Spring 1992, p. 5.
Giving aid to the poor in other nations may require some inconvenience or some sacrifice of luxury on the part of
peoples of rich nations, but to ignore the plight of starving people is as morally reprehensible as failing to save a
child drowning in a pool because of the inconvenience of getting one's clothes wet. In fact, according to Singer,
allowing a person to die from hunger when it is easily within one's means to prevent it is no different, morally
speaking, from killing another human being. If I purchase a VCR or spend money I don't need, knowing that I could
instead have given my money to some relief agency that could have prevented some deaths from starvation, I am
morally responsible for those deaths. The objection that I didn't intend for anyone to die is irrelevant. If I speed
though an intersection and, as a result, kill a pedestrian, I am morally responsible for that death whether I
intended it or not.
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SELF-INTERSET UNDERMINES THE COMMON GOOD
1. INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS UNDERMINE CIVIC VIRTUEThomas Franck, Murray and Ida Becker Professor of Law and
Director of the Center for International Studies at New York University's School of Law, FOREIGN AFFAIRS, Jan-Feb
2001, p. 192.Harvard professor Michael Sandel, in his recent book Democracy's Discontent, criticizes the
accommodations made by U.S. law -- judge-made law, in particular -- to an ethos of individual rights that, the
claims, undermines the civic virtues that sustain Americans' sense of communal responsibility. Sandel complains
that the emphasis placed on individualism in recent years has neutered the state and elevated personal rights
above the common good. At the international level, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad espouses a
variation on the same theme. In 1997, he urged the U.N. to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of
Human Rights by revising or, better, repealing it, because its human rights norms focus excessively on individual
rights while neglecting the rights of society and the common good…. Former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt,
too, says that the declaration reflects "the philosophical and cultural background of its Western drafters" and has
called for a new "balance" between "the notions of freedom and of responsibility" because the "concept of rights
can itself be abused and lead to anarchy."2. WE MUST REPLACE SELF-INTEREST WITH CONCERN FOR THE PUBLIC
GOODTim Fort, Assistant Professor, University of Michigan, AMERICAN BUSINESS LAW JOURNAL, Spring 1999, p.
396-397.The late-twentieth century republican revival in the U.S. has centered on developing a notion of
citizenship based in the public good. The most prominent theme of the revival revolves around replacing selfinterest with a notion of civic virtue. Interest group liberalism, the republicans argue, simply does not allow for a
conversation about the public good. Instead, individuals, particularly members of the judiciary and intellectual
elites, must replace the pursuit of self-interest with concern for the common good. This theme leads to the second
theme of the republican revival. There must be a rethinking of our politics in order to create the room and
incentives for consideration of the common good. The common good, the republicans argue, can be defined by a
deliberative political structure in which discussion of the good itself becomes the defining feature of politics.
3. A FOCUS ON RIGHTS LEADS TO THE DISPLACEMENT OF INDIVIDUALS FROM THE COMMUNITYCarlos A. Ball,
Associate Professor, University of Illinois College of Law, CORNELL LAW REVIEW, January 2000, p. 443444.Communitarians are critical of the priority that liberals give to individual rights; although communitarians do
not deny that rights are important, they do question whether a society should emphasize individual rights over
communal norms and responsibilities when confronting difficult questions of political morality and justice.
Communitarians believe that the liberal focus on rights leads to the separation and displacement of individuals
from the communities to which they belong. According to communitarians, rights are not preexisting, universal
principles that are logically prior to community; instead, rights are internal to the shared traditions and
understandings of particular societies.3. INDIVIDUAL CHOICE IS NOT INTRINSICALLY VALUABLE
Daniel Bell, THE STANFORD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY, Winter 2001,
http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2001/entries/communitarianism, Accessed February 12, 2004, p. np.
Communitarians can reply by casting doubt on the view that choice is intrinsically valuable, that a certain moral
principle or communal attachment is more valuable simply because it has been chosen following deliberation
among alternatives by an individual subject. If we have a highest-order interest in choosing our central projects
and life-plans, regardless of what is chosen, it ought to follow that there is something fundamentally wrong with
unchosen attachments and projects. But this view violates our actual self-understandings. We ordinarily think of
ourselves, Michael Sandel says, ‘as members of this family or community or nation or people, as bearers of this
history, as sons or daughters of that revolution, as citizens of this republic’, social attachments that more often
than not are involuntarily picked up during the course of our upbringing, rational choice having played no role
whatsoever on behalf of other peoples interests.
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Negative blocks
Individual Contributions and Charities Are More Trouble Than They’re Worth
Individual monetary contributions lead to disorganization and mismanaged funding.
Felix Salmon, Winner of the American Statistical Association’s 2010 Excellence in Statistical Reporting Award, March 2011
http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2011/03/14/dont-donate-money-to-japan/
We went through this after the Haiti earthquake, and all of the arguments which applied there apply to Japan as well.
Earmarking funds
is a really good way of hobbling relief organizations and ensuring that they have to leave large piles of
money unspent in one place while facing urgent needs in other places. And as Matthew Bishop and Michael Green
said last year, we are all better at responding to human suffering caused by dramatic, telegenic emergencies than to the much greater loss of
life from ongoing hunger, disease and conflict. That
often results in a mess of uncoordinated NGOs parachuting in
to emergency areas with lots of good intentions, where a strategic official sector response would be
much more effective. Meanwhile, the smaller and less visible emergencies where NGOs can do the
most good are left unfunded.
Charities often only treat the consequences of injustices, masking the roots of the
problems.
BBC Ethics Guide, 2011
http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/charity/against_1.shtml
The idea is that charity
is wrong when it's used to patch up the effects of the fundamental injustices that
are built into the structure and values of a society. Charity, from this viewpoint, can sometimes be seen as actually
accepting the injustice itself, while trying to mitigate the consequences of the injustice.
Constant bombardment by charities makes people less inclined to give.
Trevor Jockins, English Professor at Harper College and NYT contributor, July 2011
Linking the cash register to the heart seems to be an outgrowth of the peculiar fantasy that says if we
just buy the right fair-trade coffee, the right $3 water, the right salvaged wood for our absolutely
gorgeous new flooring, we can alleviate most of the suffering in the world — along with our guilt for
ignoring the pleas for help that arrive in the mail and confront us on the street daily. For the richest of countries,
shopping our way to moral purity would be a nice trick, but I have my doubts. Maybe if this weren’t such a big
part of our thinking, people wouldn’t try to wring kindness from us at such odd times, or stand so boldly in the street hawking goodness. And
with a little less charity pollution around us, maybe giving wouldn’t have to feel so much like being
taken.
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“Assistance” Can Be Detrimental and Should Be Minimized
Assistance can take many forms, including coercion.
Gerhard Øverland, expert in Philosophy, Anthropology, and Sociology, June 2008
http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.whitman.edu:2048/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=2&hid=106&sid=ab3a18c7-0387-4711-aed1ca0914161581%40sessionmgr114
Assistance force is any force applied to ensure that a particular agent assists a person in need. But the
term denotes as well any force which has as a consequence that something happens to a person that will undo the need of another. Forced
assistance is the assistance that comes about as a result of assistance force. The assistance in question
does not need to be motivated for the right reasons, nor even be what we normally would call
‘‘assistance.’’ Pushing someone into a pool to save another person would qualify as assistance force. The fact that this saves Alice means
that the person who was pushed into the water renders what I call forced assistance even though he or she is merely used by Alice as a means
of getting out of the water. Moreover, assistance
force may simply be used to alert people about certain needs,
after which these people choose to assist because they now see the need for it. I have invented the first label in
order to have a neutral term which covers a variety of ways of using force to ensure help reaches a person or people in need, or at least that
the bad that is about to happen to him or her is avoided. Whether assistance force is permissible in certain circumstances, and by what means,
remains to be seen. In this respect it is on par with defensive force, which covers a variety of ways force can be used to save people from
aggressors, some permissible and some not. Structurally,
assistance force might have things in common with
coercion, where people are compelled by force or threats to do things against their will.
Assistance to foreign people, if given at all, should be minimal and have a clear cut-off
point.
Henry S. Richardson, Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University, November 2005
http://www.iep.utm.edu/rawls/
In The Law of Peoples [LP] (1999), Rawls relaxes the assumption that society is a closed system that coincides with a nation-state. Once this
assumption is dropped, the question that comes to the fore is: upon
what principles should the foreign policy of a
decent liberal regime be founded? Rawls first looks at this question from the point of view of ideal theory, which supposes that all
peoples enjoy a decent liberal-democratic regime. At this level, with reference to a rather thinly-described global original position, Rawls
develops basic principles concerning non-intervention, respect for human rights, and assistance for
countries lacking the conditions necessary for a decent or just regime to arise. These principles govern one
nation in its relations with others. He next discusses the principles that should govern decent liberal societies in
their relations with peoples who are not governed by decent liberalisms. He articulates the idea of a “decent
consultation hierarchy” to illustrate the sort of non-liberal society that is owed considerable tolerance by the people of a decent liberal society.
In a part of the book devoted to non-ideal theory, Rawls impressively defends quite restrictive positions on the right of war and on the moral
conduct of warfare. Surprisingly, questions of global distributive justice are confined to one brief section of LP. In that
section, Rawls treats quite dismissively two earlier attempts to extend his theoretical framework to questions of international justice, those of
Beitz (1979) and Pogge (1994). Drawing on the ideas of TJ, these philosophers had developed quite demanding principles of international
distributive justice. In LP, Rawls instead
favors a relatively minimal “duty of assistance,” with a definite
“target and a cut-off point.” LP at 119.
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Morality Invokes Religion, Problematic
Christian fundamentalists push morality as an answer to all the world’s problems.
Theodore Schick, Professor of Philosophy at Muhlenberg College, June 1997
http://proquest.umi.com.ezproxy.whitman.edu:2048/pqdweb?index=0&did=12671755&SrchMode=1&sid=1&Fmt=3&VInst=PROD&VType=PQ
D&RQT=309&VName=PQD&TS=1310402458&clientId=48453
Although Plato demonstrated the logical independence of God and morality over 2,000 years ago in the
Euthyphro, the belief that morality requires God remains a widely held moral maxim. In particular, it serves
as the basic assumption of the Christian fundamentalist's social theory. Fundamentalists claim that all
of society's ills-everything from AIDS to out-of-wedlock pregnancies-are the result of a breakdown in
morality and that this breakdown is due to a decline in the belief of God. Although many fundamentalists trace
the beginning of this decline to the publication of Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species in 1859, others trace it to the Supreme Court's 1963
decision banning prayer in the classroom.
A religious god is the only one who can determine a universal morality.
Theodore Schick, Professor of Philosophy at Muhlenberg College, June 1997
http://proquest.umi.com.ezproxy.whitman.edu:2048/pqdweb?index=0&did=12671755&SrchMode=1&sid=1&Fmt=3&VInst=PROD&VType=PQ
D&RQT=309&VName=PQD&TS=1310402458&clientId=48453
In an attempt to neutralize these purported sources of moral decay, fundamentalists across America are seeking to restore belief in God by
promoting the teaching of creationism and school prayer. The
belief that morality requires God is not limited to
theists, however. Many atheists subscribe to it as well. The existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre, for example, says that
"If God is dead, everything is permitted." In other words, if there is no supreme being to lay down the moral law,
each individual is free to do as he or she pleases. Without a divine lawgiver, there can be no
universal moral law. The view that God creates the moral law is often called the "Divine Command Theory of Ethics." According to
this view, what makes an action right is that God wills it to be done. That an agnostic should find this theory
suspect is obvious, for, if one doesn't believe in God or if one is unsure which God is the true God, being told that one must do as God
commands will not help one solve any moral dilemmas.
The Concept of Morality Itself Causes Violence, Conflicts
The most violent and difficult to solve conflicts continue to exist because of invoking
morals.
Michelle Maiese, a graduate student of Philosophy at the University of Colorado, Boulder and a part of the research staff at the Conflict
Research Consortium, 2010
Intractable conflicts are ones that remain unresolved for long periods of time and then become stuck
at a high level of intensity and destructiveness. They typically involve many parties and concern an intricate set of historical,
religious, cultural, political, and economic issues. These matters are central to human social existence and typically
resist any attempts at resolution. In fact, parties often refuse to negotiate or compromise with respect
to such issues. As a result, each side views the rigid position of the other as a threat to its very
existence. They may develop a mutual fear of each other and a profound desire to inflict as much
physical and psychological harm on each other as possible. This sense of threat and hostility often pervades the
everyday lives of the parties involved and overrides their ability to recognize any shared concerns they might have. Additional insights into the
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underlying causes of intractable conflicts are offered by Beyond Intractability project participants. As
conflict escalates, any
tangible issues may become embedded within a larger set of values, beliefs, identities, and cultures.
Disputes about land, money, or other resources may take on increased symbolic significance. Over the course of conflict, the original issues can
even become irrelevant as new causes for conflict are generated by actions within the conflict itself. Those on opposing sides come to view
each other as enemies and may resort to highly destructive means. Eventually, the parties become unable to separate different issues and may
see no way out of the conflict other than through total victory or defeat. Why do some conflicts become intractable? Many
describe intractability in terms of the destructive relationship dynamics that govern the adversaries' interaction. For example, if one party
resorts to inhumane treatment in waging conflict, this deepens antagonism and may lead the opposing side to seek revenge. Likewise, when
extremist political leaders appeal to ethno-nationalist ideology to arouse fear, this may increase support for the use of violence and contribute
to intractability. Other factors that make some conflicts extremely difficult to resolve include the vast numbers of people involved, the large
number of complex issues to be resolved, and a previous history of violent confrontation. But what
are the underlying causes of
these destructive conflict dynamics? What is common to all intractable conflicts is that they involve
interests or values that the disputants regard as critical to their survival. These underlying causes
include parties' moral values, identities, and fundamental human needs. Because conflicts grounded in these
issues involve the basic molds for thought and action within given communities and culture, they are
usually not resolvable by negotiation or compromise. This is because the problem in question is one that cannot be
resolved in a win-win way. If one value system is followed, another is threatened. If one nation controls a piece of land, another does not. If one
group is dominant, another is subordinate. While sharing is possible in theory, contending sides usually regard compromise as a loss. This is
especially true in societies where natural fear and hatred is so ingrained that opposing groups cannot imagine living with or working
cooperatively with the other side. Instead, they are often willing to take whatever means necessary to ensure group survival and protect their
way of life.
Morals and values are constructed by man and can be twisted into whatever the
wielder wants for personal gain.
Dale Wilkerson, Professor at University of North Texas, Denton, August 2009
http://www.iep.utm.edu/nietzsch/#H4
Nietzsche’s philosophy contemplates the meaning of values and their significance to human existence. Given that
no absolute
values exist, in Nietzsche’s worldview, the evolution of values on earth must be measured by some other
means. How then shall they be understood? The existence of a value presupposes a value-positing perspective, and values are created by
human beings (and perhaps other value-positing agents) as aids for survival and growth. Because values are important for the
well being of the human animal, because belief in them is essential to our existence, we oftentimes
prefer to forget that values are our own creations and to live through them as if they were absolute.
For these reasons, social institutions enforcing adherence to inherited values are permitted to create selfserving economies of power, so long as individuals living through them are thereby made more secure
and their possibilities for life enhanced. Nevertheless, from time to time the values we inherit are deemed no longer suitable
and the continued enforcement of them no longer stands in the service of life. To maintain allegiance to such values, even
when they no longer seem practicable, turns what once served the advantage to individuals to a disadvantage, and what was
once the prudent deployment of values into a life denying abuse of power. When this happens the human being must
reactivate its creative, value-positing capacities and construct new values.
All values are constructed and meaningless, only action matters.
Alan Pratt, Professor of Philosophy at Embry-Riddle University, May 2005
http://www.iep.utm.edu/nihilism/#H3
For Nietzsche, there
is no objective order or structure in the world except what we give it. Penetrating the
façades buttressing convictions, the nihilist discovers that all values are baseless and that reason is impotent. “Every belief,
every considering something-true,” Nietzsche writes, “is necessarily false because there is simply no true world” (Will to Power [notes from
1883-1888]). For him, nihilism requires a radical repudiation of all imposed values and meaning: “Nihilism is . . . not only the belief that
everything deserves to perish; but one actually puts one’s shoulder to the plough; one destroys” (Will to Power). The caustic strength of
nihilism is absolute, Nietzsche argues, and under its withering scrutiny “the
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lacking, and ‘Why’ finds no answer” (Will to Power). Inevitably, nihilism will expose all cherished beliefs
and sacrosanct truths as symptoms of a defective Western mythos.
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TO HAVE A SOCIETY THAT WORKS, THE COMMON GOOD CANNOT
COME BEFORE INDIVIDUALS
1. WE MUST DEFINE INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS PRIOR TO THE GOOD
Carlos A. Ball, Associate Professor, University of Illinois College of Law, CORNELL LAW REVIEW, January
2000, p. 444.
State neutrality regarding different, and often conflicting, conceptions of what constitutes a "good life"
is important to liberals because it allows individuals to choose the lives that they think are best for them.
A state that is neutral as to ends does not impose its version of the good on its citizens. An impartial
state also acts as a neutral arbiter in resolving disputes among citizens. Thus, liberals demand that the
state separate issues of morality from political debates and definitions of rights. In other words, we
must define rights prior to, and independently of, the good.
2. COMMUNITARIANISM DOESN’T WORK IN A PLURALISTIC SOCIETY
Linda Fisher, Associate Professor of Law and Director, Center for Social Justice, Seton Hall University
School of Law, YALE LAW AND POLICY REVIEW, 2000, p. 354.
Etzioni's premise in The New Golden Rule, the earlier of the two works, is that a communitarian society
flourishes when the inevitable tension between social responsibility and individual autonomy is
maintained in suitable equilibrium. The "New Golden Rule" - "respect and uphold society's moral order
as you would have society respect and uphold your autonomy" - is his general formulation of the proper
relationship between these two values. As expressed, the rule is a maxim an individual can use as a
guideline to appropriate behavior. Because the rule is very broadly phrased, however, further culturally
shared principles are needed to guide its application to particular situations, especially when the values
of order and autonomy clash. Those values clash most acutely in diverse, pluralistic societies. Etzioni sets
forth a number of core values shared by Americans, such as a commitment to democracy and the
Constitution, but those values are often too general and abstract to support actual resolutions of
contentious issues. Moreover, power disparities between groups exacerbate the negative consequences
of unresolved values conflicts.
3. THE IDEA OF A COMMON GOOD IS INCONSISTENT WITH A PLURALISTIC SOCIETY
Claire Andre and Manuel Velasquez, NQA, ISSUES IN ETHICS, Spring 1992, p. 3.
First, according to some philosophers, the very idea of a common good is inconsistent with a pluralistic
society like ours. Different people have different ideas abut what is worthwhile or what constitutes "the
good life for human beings," differences that have increased during the last few decades as the voices of
more and more previously silenced groups, such as women and minorities have been heard. Given these
differences, some people urge, it will be impossible for us to agree on what particular kind of social
systems, institutions, and environment we will all pitch in to support. And even if we agree upon what
we all valued, we would certainly disagree about the relative values things have for us. While a may
agree, for example, that an affordable health system a healthy educational system, and a clean
environment are all parts of the common good, some will say the, more should be invested in health
than in education, while others will favor directing resources to the environment over both health and
education. Such disagreements are bound to undercut our ability to evoke a sustained and widespread
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commitment to the common good. In the face of such pluralism, efforts to bring about the common
good can only lead to adopting or promoting the views of some, while excluding others, violating the
principle of treating people equally. Moreover, such efforts would force everyone to support some
specific notion of the common good, violating the freedom of those who do not share in that goal, and
inevitably leading to paternalism (imposing one group's preference on others), tyranny, and oppression.
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A GENERAL PRINCIPLE OF COMMON GOOD IS ANTI-DEMOCRATIC
1. THE SOCIAL CONTRACT VALUES INDIVIDUAL LIBERTIES ABOVE THE COMMON GOOD
Shelly Woodward, J.D. candidate, Georgetown University Law Center, GEORGETOWN LAW JOURNAL,
December 1996, p. 464.
A third liberal rationale for free speech protection, closely intertwined with the marketplace of ideas
and self-government rationales, is the idea of negative liberty. This approach posits that the importance
of individual rights, such as freedom of expression, lies in the ability to prohibit the state from
interfering in the exercise of individual autonomy. The philosophical roots of this approach may be
traced to the social contract model of society. Under this model, presocial individuals in the state of
nature enter society voluntarily, consenting to form a society that will protect individual rights.
Individual rights, then, serve a "checking value," which ensures that the state does not overstep its
legitimacy by encroaching on the individual's ability to make autonomous choices.
2. THE RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH IS BASED ON THE VALUE OF AUTONOMY
Shelly Woodward, J.D. candidate, Georgetown University Law Center, GEORGETOWN LAW JOURNAL,
December 1996, p. 458.
The marketplace of ideas theory asserts that the search for truth is best served by a free exchange of
ideas. The philosophical roots of this idea can be traced to the liberal political philosophy of John Locke,
John Milton, and John Stuart Mill. Justice Holmes further enunciated this philosophy in his famous
dissent in Abrams v. United States, noting that "the theory of our Constitution" is that "the ultimate
good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas -- that the best test of truth is the power of the
thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market." According to this rationale, the
importance of protecting free speech rests on the importance of individual liberty to make autonomous
choices and to formulate and "pursue a rational plan of life" free from constraint. Only by ensuring that
individuals have access to competing ideas -- even "false" ideas -- can we ensure that public discourse is
robust enough to produce the truth. Thus, the right has priority over the good. That is, encouraging the
free expression of ideas without government restraints protects the individual's capacity to choose her
own conception of the good.
3. DEMOCRACY INEVITABLY ENGENDERS INDIVIDUALISM
George Kateb, ANNUAL REVIEW OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, 2003, v. 6, i. 1, p. 275.
Where democracy exists, there will be individualism. The historical record shows that democracy
inevitably engenders individualism. This proposition will be challenged by those who think either that
individualism can obtain in nondemocratic cultures or that democracy can exist without engendering
individualism. The paper rejects both contentions. The defining characteristic of democracy is freedom,
and the oldest democratic concept of freedom is the Greek one: To be free is to live as one likes.
Versions of that definition are found wherever people are or aspire to be democratic. To live as one likes
means that one is allowed to try out various roles in life. Each person is more than any single role,
function, or place in society. Individualism consists in that idea. Only democracy inspires it. It is also true
that democracy, in reaction, produces antidemocratic individualism.
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