Thursday, November 17, 2011

My Neg Debate Prep

I posted my aff earlier; debaters for LD also have to do a neg. Here it is. Even though I disagree with what I'm saying, it actually worked out pretty well. *Warning: There might be typos. I read it so I self-corrected myself.
Philosopher John Stuart Mill said, "The worth of the state, in the long run, is the worth of the individuals composing it." A strong society is made up of strong people; a strong society cannot exist when needy individuals drag it down. Thus, society in which needy individuals flourish at the cost of those around them is bound to be disastrous. Therefore, I do not establish this topic as resolved. Individuals definitely do not have an obligation to help those in need.
            Before I proceed, I would like to define a few terms that are relevant to the topic. The following are as defined by Merriam-Webster's dictionary.
            Obligation- A social, legal, or moral requirement, such as a duty, contract, or promise that compels one to follow or avoid a particular course of action.
            Moral obligation- is an obligation arising out of considerations of right and wrong.
            Assist- To assist someone is to give aid or support.
            Need- Need is the necessity arising from the circumstances of a situation or case.
            My value is utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is defined by Merriam-Webster's Dictionary as "a theory that the aim of action should be the largest possible balance of pleasure over pain or the greatest happiness of the greatest number". The two greatest contributors to utilitarianism are Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill, contributor of the quote I mentioned earlier. Jeremy Bentham held that human beings are guided by pleasure and pain (i.e. the seeking of pleasure and the avoidance of pain) and that the best actions are the ones that produce the greatest amounts of pleasure while the worst are ones that produce the greatest amounts of pain and unhappiness. Therefore, utilitarianism was that the best actions were the ones that produced the greatest amounts of pleasure and happiness in the most people. While John Stuart Mill did not see this pleasure as taking on as hedonistic of a form, he was a follower of Bentham and agreed with most of this.
            My criterion is egoism. Egoism is defined as "a doctrine that individual self-interest is the valid end of all actions". According to Stanford's Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the term "egoism" refers to three different kinds of egoism- psychological, ethical and rational egoism. Psychological egoism claims that each person has only their own welfare in mind. This includes behavior that is would be considered altruistic and allows for weakness of one's resolve (being as it is often for self-preservation). Ethical egoism is the theory that the most moral action is that action that best promotes the interest of the individual. Rational egoism, on the other hand, also states this and also states that the promotion of one's own interest is always in agreement with reason and makes the most sense.
            My first contention is that it is not in the individual's best interest to help a person in need, especially when that person in need could be placed in a situation of need themselves. In the situation of a crime, it would most often be dangerous for a person to intervene. Take, for example, a story on ABC News. In 2010, Ted Edmond attempted to intervene and help the clerk in a Virginia gas station who was being held at gunpoint. Instead of having any positive benefit, Ted Edmond was instead shot four times while the robber ended up getting away. In the case where a person is directly in danger, they are likely to panic and put the individual trying to help in danger. A drowning victim, for example, is likely to panic and claw or pull down any rescuer who tries to assists them which is why it is dangerous to help them without proper training (Brouhard). A choking victim often flails and resists in similar situations, which would make it difficult to help them.
            Next, my second contention is that it is not the individual's responsibility to help one in need but it is often the responsibility of that person in need to help themselves. Take, for example, America's homeless. According to, approximately 20 to 25% of single homeless people suffer from a severe mental illness and according to the Office of National Drug Control, 31% of America's homeless suffer from a substance abuse problem. While these are complex issues that don't have easy solutions, there is help available for these individuals and it can also be argued that it is impossible to truly assist them unless they want help themselves. Also, going back to my first contention, these factors may not make it safe for an individual to help a homeless person being as they might react in a dangerous way. Another example of this would be if a person was in a dire financial situation such as debt or looming foreclosure. Many times the individual has gotten themselves involved in the situation themselves, by either carelessness or not reading the contract properly. Thus, if the people in need have gotten involved in the situation themselves then it is their responsibility to get themselves out of it.
            In conclusion, my final contention is that it is not in the interest of society to help those in need, a society which the individual is a part of. Needy individuals only drag down a society; they are often an economic and social burden and they don't produce anything. Therefore, it is unfair to say that individuals have a moral obligation to assist them. Studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between poverty and incarceration, proving that not only do needy individuals often not contribute but often only do harm. 53% of the prison population made less than $10,000 a year before their incarceration (Williams). Also, according to the U.S. Printing Office, half of those who use welfare use it for more than two years. In a society where people are forced to fend for themselves and no one feels morally forced to assist others, only the strongest and most able to adapt will end up on top. Why should we as individuals feel morally compelled to help others when it often ultimately hurts ourselves in the end?
            I now stand ready for cross-examination.

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