Instigator
K_Michael avatar
Points: 0

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

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The participant who scores the most points is declared the winner

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Debate details
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Last update
Category
Politics
Time for argument
Three days
Voting system
Open voting
Voting period
One week
Point system
Four points
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30,000
Contender
oromagi avatar
Points: 0
Description
In an original draft of the Declaration of Independence, rather than saying "the Pursuit of Happiness," Americans were proposed to have the unalienable right to "Property" alongside Life and Liberty. My question is, do you believe that we should have kept the original draft? I am Con.
Round 1
Published:
Your floor. 
Published:
Thanks, K_Michael, for an interesting topic but I think by I think by handing off the opening argument you've left us both in a bit of pickle.  I was hoping you'd take R1 to clear up a couple of problems in the thesis but now I think I'm more or less forced to sort these problems out to my advantage.

Problem #1: Fake News

It turns out that there is no known or suspected draft of the Declaration of Independence that substitutes "property" for "pursuit of happiness".  When I accepted this debate, I believed as Con did that there was such a version (as I have often heard) but such a variation is simply not so.

The earliest known draft is a fragment discovered in 1947.  The relevant clause was not preserved in this copy. [1]

The next earliest is what Jefferson called his "Original Rough Draught."  Historians debate how much of this draft had been reviewed by the Committee of Five beforehand, how many composition drafts might have existed before this one, and to what degree the Committee contributed to these texts.  That version of the relevant clause reads:

"We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable that all men are created equal & independant, that from that equal creation they derive right inherent & inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness; " [2]
Then there is the version Jefferson submitted to the Committee and copied out to friends.  Adams' version of that draft reads:

"We hold these Truths to be self evident; that all Men are created equal and independent; that from that equal Creation they derive Rights inherent and unalienable; among which are the Preservation of Life, and Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness;" [3]
Then there is the version Jefferson reported to Congress:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with inherent & inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;" [3]
And finally the Engrossed Copy, the version ratified by Congress:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. " [3]
The thesis of this debate asks "do you believe that we should have kept the original draft?" meaning that version or versions which substitute the word "property" for "pursuit of Happiness."  However, no draft of the Declaration of Independence defines property as a natural right and all known versions consistently define "pursuit of happiness" as a natural right.

Problem #2 Vague Thesis

Con offers only one premise quickly disproved.  That leaves the subject of our debate entirely uncertain.  The "original draft" in question is the one which identifies property as a natural right and no such draft exists.  The inalienable rights defined are the same in every version, therefore keeping in any version of inalienable rights is the same as keeping the final version.  What is left for Con to oppose?  Con had an opportunity to correct or re-frame the question in R1 but has instead punted on first down, leaving Pro to establish the terms of the debate.

Solution #1

Con's thesis has been proven false.  There is no version of the Declaration of independence that lists property as a natural right, so opposition to such a draft is a straw man.

Solution #2

Since the natural laws are the same in every draft, the Engrossed Copy's list of "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" is dependent on and derived from each prior draft.  If Con stands opposed to the natural laws listed in any prior draft, Con opposes the ratified list as well;  Pro endorses each draft as well as the result.

Solution #3

Con's thesis might also be interpreted as an offer to oppose one entire draft vs. the Engrossed Copy of the Declaration of Independence.  If so, Con has failed to specify which version Pro must defend, leaving Pro the option.  If that is what's offered , Pro chooses to defend the draft Jefferson submitted to Congress because of its harsh condemnation of the King's institutionalization of Slavery- if slavery is a drug to which America is addicted than King George has been the drug dealer.

"he has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating it’s most sacred rights of life & liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. this piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the christian king of Great Britain. determined to keep open a market where MEN  should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce: and that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them; thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another." [2]
This version of the Declaration would have unmistakably set the expectation, nationally and Internationally, that this new nation would no longer engage in the trade of slaves.  Since such a declaration would have likely moved emancipation forward by eighty years and prevented the American Civil War, I would be willing to defend this draft as superior to the Engrossed Copy.  Pro will need to defend the Southern states' preservation of the institution of slavery by exclusion of this paragraph.

Solution #4

In spite of the faulty example, Con may have simply sought to oppose the notion of owning and protecting one's own property as a natural or unalienable right.  This seems unlikely since the right to prevent others from eating your food stores or selling your home is fundamental to any rational society.

THESIS:  The Right to Property is natural and inalienable.  

DEFINITION: Ownership of property can be private, public, or cooperatively held.  Ownership of property confers the right to "consume, alter, share, redefine, rent, mortgage, pawn, sell, exchange, transfer, give away or destroy it, or to exclude others from doing these things, as well as to perhaps abandon it; whereas regardless of the nature of the property, the owner thereof has the right to properly use it or at the very least exclusively keep it." [4]

None of these solutions make for a particularly engaging debate but Pro's options have been determined by the brevity and inaccuracy of Con's instigation.  Pro looks forward to Con's reply and a more fulsome explication of how Con hopes to proceed over the next four rounds.



Round 2
Published:
Sorry about the mishap. I was wrong. If your research is correct, that is. 
My main point is that the "Declaration" and the thinkers of the time were influenced by John Locke, who famously created an older phrase of "life, liberty, and property." 
So it is conceivable that at some point, there was an important shift made either by Jefferson or Congress as a body to replace "property" with 'the pursuit of happiness," even if it took place before pen and parchment ever actually met, it was most likely a conscious decision on somebody's part. That it is not recorded is evident from your research (although the Internet might be wrong).

Let us make a supposition, then, for the sake of our argument, that such a change was made.

Second, several times you say things like

Pro endorses each draft as well as the result.
or


 an offer to oppose one entire draft

I am not endorsing any specific draft in any entirety. The entire point of the debate, made clear from the beginning, is to argue whether property or pursuit of happiness should be endorsed. Ergo, I am solely endorsing the particular part that holds "the pursuit of Happiness" as an unalienable right.

Con may have simply sought to oppose the notion of owning and protecting one's own property as a natural or unalienable right.
I don't oppose people having a right to property, but believe that the right of "the pursuit of Happiness" is superior. 



Ok, on to my actual claim.

The Pursuit of Happiness Includes Property.

In order to pursue happiness, you must, of course, have means to do so. Property would be included in this. 

I think the greatest argument against this claim is that your property can be taken from you.

My counter to this is that it usually occurs as a result of debt, where you have previously signed that you will pay debts owed when they are called due, or else get a fine. In extreme cases, your property can be taken by the bank as compensation. However, seeing as you agreed to the conditions when you took out a loan, etc., it is your own voluntary consent.


Published:
Sorry about the mishap.  I was wrong

Apology accepted.

If your research is correct, that is.

ouch.  Are you saying that you apologized without first looking at my links to the Princeton documents?  Of course, the voters are counting on you, Con, to verify my research.  LIkewise, if you choose to present any research, the voters may rely on me to challenge any observed problems with the documents cited.

My main point is that the "Declaration" and the thinkers of the time were influenced by John Locke, who famously created an older phrase of "life, liberty, and property."

A fair number of potential sources for inspiration have been identified, though there is considerable debate  about the directness of Locke's influence.   As often happens, Locke never quite said "life, liberty, property."

"In 1689, Locke argued in his Two Treatises of Government that political society existed for the sake of protecting "property", which he defined as a person's "life, liberty, and estate". In A Letter Concerning Toleration, he wrote that the magistrate's power was limited to preserving a person's "civil interest", which he described as "life, liberty, health, and indolency of body; and the possession of outward things". He declared in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding that "the highest perfection of intellectual nature lies in a careful and constant pursuit of true and solid happiness."[5]

The degree of influence is essentially untrackable because the question of the natural rights of all mankind was on the minds of most Americans and many Europeans at that time.  There were many potential rights to consider and these debates had been going on long before the Revolution, were in fact the heart of the social revolution long underway.

Look at the Virginia Declaration of Rights adopted on June 12, just weeks before Jefferson sat down to write the national version.  Written by George Mason, that document declared:

"That all men are by nature equally free and independent and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely,  the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety."
This is a document that recognized the rights of Jefferson himself as a Virginian.  Now look again at Jefferson's Rough Draft:

"We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable; that all men are created equal & independant, that from that equal creation they derive right inherent & inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness."

Doesn't this phrasing parallel the very current Virginia Declaration more than any of Locke's century-old phrases?

If there was any objection to inclusion of property as an inalienable right, the most likely source of contention was Benjamin Franklin.  Franklin pointed out that it wouldn't do for government to tax an inalienable right, and the United States was definitely going to want to tax property.

So it is conceivable that at some point, there was an important shift made either by Jefferson or Congress as a body to replace "property" with 'the pursuit of happiness," even if it took place before pen and parchment ever actually met, it was most likely a conscious decision on somebody's part. That it is not recorded is evident from your research (although the Internet might be wrong). 

Isn't it interesting that Locke defined PROPERTY in the Two Treatises of Government as a person's "life, liberty, and estate?"  If Jefferson was referencing Locke here, he may have omitted property as redundant.

Let us make a supposition, then, for the sake of our argument, that such a change was made.

OK.  But I'll ask the voters to note the lack of research.  That takes Solution #1 off the table.

Second, several times you say things like

Pro endorses each draft as well as the result.
or


an offer to oppose one entire draft

I am not endorsing any specific draft in any entirety.

Fine, that takes Solutions #2 and #3 off the table. 

The entire point of the debate, made clear from the beginning, is to argue whether property or pursuit of happiness should be endorsed. Ergo, I am solely endorsing the particular part that holds "the pursuit of Happiness" as an unalienable right.

The point was neither clear at the beginning nor is it now.  You are Pro "the Pursuit of Happiness as an inalienable right. " but you instigated as CON.  What are you contradicting?  What am I defending? 

Con may have simply sought to oppose the notion of owning and protecting one's own property as a natural or unalienable right.
I don't oppose people having a right to property, but believe that the right of "the pursuit of Happiness" is superior.

But look, if we are using your Lockean Assumption (that is, that Locke was the primary inspiration with property excised in favor of happiness), and we know that Locke defined "property" as "life, liberty, and estate." Then property must be the superior right, just as the right to life and the right to liberty come before the right to happiness.  What good is happiness without life?  What chance at happiness without liberty?

Ok, on to my actual claim.

The Pursuit of Happiness Includes Property.

OK, so in the last paragraph you said that the entire point of the debate is to argue whether property or pursuit of happiness should be endorsed.  Now you have a new claim that the  pursuit of happiness includes property.  Never mind that you have again asserted the Pro position, the juxtaposition of these two theses reduces the debate to truism.

That is:
x includes all of y. 
Which is greater: x or y?
I believe that x is greater than y because x includes all of y.

The Pursuit of Happiness includes Property.
Which is superior:  Happiness or Property?
I endorse Happiness as superior to Property because Happiness includes Property.

In order to pursue happiness, you must, of course, have means to do so. Property would be included in this.

yup.

I think the greatest argument against this claim is that your property can be taken from you.
My life can also be taken from me but that is a violation of my right to life, not abnegation.  Not much of a counter if you ask me.  What about an argument that happiness in no way depends on property?

Children own no property but they are often happy.  Hunter/Gatherers owned little to nothing but some studies suggest that they were happier without.
A 1960s  study found the Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert of Namibia work only about 15 hours each week acquiring food and then another 15 to 20 hours on domestic chores. The rest of the time they could relax and focus on family, friends and hobbies.

Everything in our lives is kind of future-oriented. For example, we might get a college degree so we can get a job, so that we can get a pension. For farmers it was the same way. They planted seeds for the harvest and to store.

But for hunter-gatherers, everything was present-oriented. All their effort was focused on meeting an immediate need.

They were absolutely confident that they would be able to get food from their environment when they needed it. So they didn't waste time storing or growing food. This lifestyle created a very different perspective on time.

People never wasted time imagining different futures for themselves or indeed for anybody else.

Everything we do now is rooted in this constant and enduring change, or our history. We look at ourselves as being part of our history, or this trajectory through time.

The hunter-gatherers just didn't bother locating themselves in history because stuff around them was pretty much always the same. It was unchanging.

Yes, there might be different trees sprouting up year after year. Or things in the environment change from season to season. But there was a systemic continuity to everything.

I think that it's a wonderful, extraordinary thing. I think it's something we can never get back — this different way of thinking about something as fundamental as time.

It manifests in very small ways. For example, I would ask them what their great grandfather's name was and some people would just say, "I don't know." They just simply didn't care. Everything was so present-focused. [6]

Certainly, George Carlin would argue that property inhibits happiness:


My counter to this is that it usually occurs as a result of debt, where you have previously signed that you will pay debts owed when they are called due, or else get a fine. In extreme cases, your property can be taken by the bank as compensation. However, seeing as you agreed to the conditions when you took out a loan, etc., it is your own voluntary consent.

Which suggests a pretty narrow definition of property.  How are you defining property, anyway?

Here at the end of Round 2, I think it would be fair to say we have something like three potential theses from CON.

The first thesis is the original, "should we have kept the original draft? I am Con. "  We've agreed that we can only suppose that the word "property" was used in one, undefined draft and so this essentially means, "Should property have been retained instead of pursuit of happiness" 

Certainly, an argument can be made that pursuit of happiness is too vague a phrase and by that vagueness has been weak in the support of human rights.  A right to property would have been a powerful statement, there in the enlightened first paragraphs of our Declaration:  we all have some right to property.  If "the right to property" had become defined as an inalienable right how much less likely would homelessness be? How much more might we discern a certain right to a share of the franchise?  I think an alternate reality America with with a well-established Right to Property could well be a much nicer place.

The second thesis is:"The entire point of the debate, made clear from the beginning, is to argue whether property or pursuit of happiness should be endorsed."

Third Thesis: "on to my actual claim The Pursuit of Happiness Includes Property.

Taken together, these arguments amount to a truism formulated in the second round.

That is:
x includes all of y. 
Which is greater: x or y?
I believe that x is greater than y because x includes all of y.

The Pursuit of Happiness includes Property.
Which is superior:  Happiness or Property?
I endorse Happiness as superior to Property because Happiness includes Property.


Round 3
Published:
ouch.  Are you saying that you apologized without first looking at my links to the Princeton documents?  Of course, the voters are counting on you, Con, to verify my research.  LIkewise, if you choose to present any research, the voters may rely on me to challenge any observed problems with the documents cited.
I looked at your sources, but I find it safe to assume that anything on the Internet with nearly 250-year-old information can be subject to some doubt. It is most likely correct and I'll treat it as such.

I am apparently once again wrong. Not only was Jefferson never recorded as having drafted "property" in the Declaration, but it is very much possible that John Locke never (at least directly) inspired the phrase at all. I would plead ignorance as a 15-year-old, but I would rather be treated as an adult than get any special considerations, so I will not.

I concede the debate and voters are welcome if they want to vote on a rather unfinished debate. However, I do consider the Pursuit of Happiness to be above Property, but unfortunately not in the (as you've informed me, and to my chagrin) Lockean sense of constituting "life, liberty, and estate." I was mistakenly using a more modern concept, correlating to the "estate" part.

So by stint of my claim, research, re-claim, re-research, and definition of property being wrong, I basically lose. I also learned a valuable lesson about research before starting a debate.
Published:
I appreciate the concession, K_Michael.  Because thesis and our positions relevant to thesis remain uncertain at the end of round 3 I think moving on is the best course of action. 

I think you have an excellent topic that requires some thematic development- defining property and happiness very specifically could help your cause. 

I will look forward to an improved version from you in future and perhaps we can re-commence.

Please vote Pro.
Round 4
Published:
I would rather that no one voted since we kinda never debated the topic I wanted, but feel free to vote as you wish.
Published:
I would rather that no one voted since we kinda never debated the topic I wanted, but feel free to vote as you wish.

The dependent clause of this sentence contradicts the predicate.  Either voters should abstain from voting in recognition of the instigator's failure to supply a topic or voters are free to vote unencumbered by Pro's appeal.  Let's agree that the voters should feel free to judge as the voters see fit.



Round 5
Forfeited
Published:
Thanks, K_Michael.

Extend arguments and thanks to the voters for voting.
K_Michael avatar
Added:
--> @oromagi
I won't forget to bring this up again, but I don't want to swamp myself like RM did. I'll probably limit myself to debating 5 at a time.
Instigator
#5
K_Michael avatar
Added:
--> @oromagi
I also have no idea how my position ended up being Con. I'm pretty sure that I selected Pro.
Instigator
#4
Wrick-It-Ralph avatar
Added:
--> @K_Michael
I know we skip rounds like that on DDO. I think on this website it's not a good idea though.(voting wise) Somebody please correct me if I'm wrong.
#3
K_Michael avatar
Added:
--> @oromagi
You have twelve hours before you forfeit.
Instigator
#2
K_Michael avatar
Added:
--> @oromagi
Don't forget.
Instigator
#1
No votes yet