Instigator / Pro
Points: 4

Migration is a Human Right

Finished

The voting period has ended

After 4 votes the winner is ...
bsh1
Debate details
Publication date
Last update
Category
Philosophy
Time for argument
Three days
Voting system
Open voting
Voting period
One month
Point system
Winner selection
Rating mode
Rated
Characters per argument
10,000
Required rating
1505
Contender / Con
Points: 0
Description
--Overview--
This debate will last for 4 rounds, with 3 days to post each round. There will be 10,000 characters available to each debate for each round. Voting will last for 1 month. You must have an ELO above 1,505 to accept. I am taking the Pro position.
--Topic--
Transnational migration ought to be a human right.
--Definitions--
Ought: expresses moral desirability
Human Right: a right afforded to all persons
Transnational migration: the ability of persons to move and resettle across international borders
--Rules--
1. No forfeits
2. Citations must be provided in the text of the debate as posted links (not embedded)
3. No new arguments in the final speeches
4. Observe good sportsmanship and maintain a civil and decorous atmosphere
5. No trolling
6. No "kritiks" of the topic (challenging assumptions in the resolution)
7. For all undefined resolutional terms, individuals should use commonplace understandings that fit within the logical context of the resolution and this debate
8. The BOP is evenly shared
9. Rebuttals of new points raised in an adversary's immediately preceding speech may be permissible at the judges' discretion even in the final round (debaters may debate their appropriateness)
10. Violation of any of these rules, or of any of the description's set-up, merits a loss
--Structure--
R1. Pro's Case; Con's Case
R2. Pro generic Rebuttal; Con generic Rebuttal
R3. Pro generic Rebuttal; Con generic Rebuttal
R4. Pro generic Rebuttal and Summary; Con generic Rebuttal and Summary
Round 1
Published:
Thanks to Wrick-it-Ralph for accepting this debate. I look forward to a convivial exchange of ideas and a fun debate.

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I. Overview

To possess a human right is not to possess an unlimited right. All rights are subject to restrictions and limitations which arise from the balancing of those rights against the rights and legitimate interests of others. The human right to life, for example, is not absolute; we recognize that it is morally permissible to kill to protect oneself or others from imminent danger.

When we say then that a human right is a right afforded to all persons, we are not saying that all persons can exercise that right in all circumstances. Rather, we are saying that all persons have this right prima facie, but that whether they can exercise it in any given circumstance is dependent on the balancing act that must take place to resolve competing rights claims. 

Therefore, while my advocacy is that all persons possess a right to transnational migration, I recognize that limitations can and should be imposed on that right where necessary. Legitimate concerns related to public safety, public health, and public administration are just some of the interests against which the right to migrate must be balanced.

II. The Right to Leave

A. The "Right to Leave"

Imagine for a moment that I was born on a farm somewhere in rural Wyoming, and that, having spent my whole life there, I have a strong desire to see the world outside of my farm. Due to this strong desire, I do not wish to continue living on the farm, and so I make a conscious choice to pack up my belongings and leave.

Suppose, however, that my family prevents me from leaving. They catch me at the fence and say: "You were born here on this farm, and so you must remain here for life." There is obviously something morally wrong about this situation, namely, that I have been unjustly imprisoned. Even if I am free to wander about the farm itself, the fact that I am never allowed to leave means that I am a captive of this place, a prisoner unable to leave, denied--without just cause--the liberty to pursue my own dreams and passions. 

Now, imagine for a moment that I am a citizen of some nation (let's call it Farmistan), and that, having spent my whole life there, I have a strong desire to see the world outside of my country. Due to this strong desire, I do not wish to continue living to continue living within Farmistan, and so I make a conscious choice to pack up my belongings and leave.

Suppose, however, that Farmistan prevents me from leaving. It catches me at the border and says: "You are a citizen of Farmistan, and so must remain here for life." Here too there is something obviously morally wrong about the situation, because, again, I have been unjustly imprisoned. Even if I am free to wander within Farmistan itself, the fact that I am never allowed to leave means that I am a captive of this place, a prisoner unable to leave, denied--without just cause--the liberty to pursue my own dreams and passions.

The moral demand that individuals not be held captive sans just cause is one powerful reason to believe in a "right to leave," that is, a right to be able to leave one's country. But there are other reasons as well, reasons which demonstrate the importance of the "right to leave" to the protection of other rights. Suppose that Farmistan is an oppressive country filled with crime and violence and corruption. My human rights to free expression, safety, life, due process, free association, and equality before the law may all be jeopardized. Possessing a "right to leave" is therefore fundamental for protecting a slew of other key rights.

Even if Farmistan were not such a bad place, the potential for any country to become dangerous or oppressive indicates that the right to leave is a necessary fail-safe against such a development. Similarly, even if Farmistan were wonderful, my human rights to pursue happiness, to have access to healthcare, to be with or found a family, etc. may require me to leave Farmistan. Hence, the "right to leave" is essential for the protection of these other rights as well. This is likely why the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights--an international treaty and human rights document--states: "Everyone shall be free to leave any country, including his own." [1]

Consequently, it can be confidently stated that all persons possess or ought to posses a "right to leave" their own country. That is true both because the right to leave is itself a right and because it is essential to protect and underpin other rights.

B. Leaving is Migrating

The right to leave implies that individuals have the right to cross borders and refuse to return. Thus, the right to leave is the right "of persons to move and resettle across international borders." To exit one place is the right to enter another, and so every right of exit is also a right of entry. This affirms the resolution.

Even if the right to leave and the right to migrate were not literally synonymous, the former would necessarily entail the latter. If I wanted to exercise my right to leave Farmistan, but was precluded from doing so because all the other countries in the word said, "the right to exit is not the same as the right to enter" (though I contend that is a false distinction), it would be the case that my right to leave would be useless. I cannot have a meaningful right to leave Farmistan if I do not have a right to go somewhere else, because without the right to go somewhere else, my right to leave is toothless and unenforceable. Ergo, any meaningful right to leave must be accompanied by or entail a right to migrate. This affirms the resolution.

Consequently, the right to exit is just another way of saying the right to enter; if you have one, you must have the other.

III. Community Ties

A. Communities Require Migration

As an American, I have the right to move to New York. Once in New York, I have the right to decide I do not want to stay, and would rather move to Arizona. Once in Arizona, I can decide to move to Idaho instead, or to any of the country's other fifty states. Being a citizen gives me license to move within my country, and I can make these moves for any reason I choose. Perhaps I'm moving to find a better job, perhaps I'm moving to be with a hot boyfriend, perhaps I just decided that bears were my spirit animal, so I just had to move to California. But the choice of when and where to move is my own. California cannot decide one day to say, "hey, we're not going to let in any non-Californians." This example clearly connects back to the preceding contention about the right to leave (and the two reasons for it), but it is also suggestive of a wholly new point related to community welfare.

In order to function properly, communities must have free movement internally. Imagine an America in which California suddenly became inaccessible. As familial ties slowly wither away and previously shared trajectories dis-align, California would become increasingly less tied to the rest of country. Not merely in the literal sense, but also socioculturally, governmentally, and cooperatively, etc. If, 100 years later, California suddenly became accessible once more, would it still be a part of our "American community" or would it have evolved into its own, distinct entity? To maintain community, you must maintain and cultivate the links that bind the membership together; the longer those links go untended, the more apart the membership is invariably going to become. The more isolated two populations are, the harder it becomes for them to maintain or construct communal bonds.

Therefore, any community ought to afford all of its members a right to migration in order that the community can function properly for the common welfare.

B. The Human Community

Humanity itself should be seen as a community. We are all intimately enmeshed with one another on a global scale, and the actions of one person or one population can deeply and seriously impact, from across the world, the welfare of another person or population. We are linked not just by trade ties, shared media, shared instruments of global governance, and shared ancestral and diasporic connections, but also by the cooperation we are engaged in to address global crises as diverse as HIV/AIDS, climate change, and human trafficking. If a community is a group of people cooperating for a common interest, then humanity clearly counts. That does not mean that humanity cooperates perfectly--no community does--but to suggest that we are just a pocket of isolated or barely linked groups is obviously and patently false.

Given this analysis, "we should not view national boundaries as having fundamental moral significance. Since boundaries are not coextensive with the scope of social cooperation, they do not mark the limits of social obligation." [2] Indeed, if it is the case that humanity counts as a community, then there must be a human right to migration. The community of humankind ought to afford all of its members a right to migration in order that the community can function properly for the common welfare.

Therefore, the resolution is affirmed by the acknowledgement of a common human community, a humanity deeply and inextricably interwoven.

IV. Conclusion

I have provided two (three, depending on how you count them) reasons to vote Pro. The first is rooted in the right to leave, which is both (a) a right itself and (b) necessary to protect other rights. The second is rooted in an understanding of community and the need for communities to have liberal movement internally. Both reasons demonstrate that, prima facie, the right to transnational migration ought to be a right afforded to all persons. Thus, I strongly affirm.

V. Sources

Published:
I thank my opponent for giving me an entertaining opening statement.  The narrative led me by the hand through the story and it was very easy to read.  Lets do this. 


Terms

In your description, you clarified the topic by saying:

Transnational migration ought to be a human right.

I will paste your definitions so it doesn't look like I'm cherry picking. 

Ought: expresses moral desirability
Human Right: a right afforded to all persons
Transnational migration: the ability of persons to move and resettle across international borders

One problem I have with this is that a human right is defined as a subset of rights.  I understand this is a distinction from say... animal rights, and I'm okay with that, but you didn't define what a right is.  This means all I can know from your definition is that a human right is a kind of right (whatever that is) that is afforded to all humans.  

I would define a right as being a liberty that is morally justified to have.  Would you agree? 

If not, I'm willing to hear your definition and we could work off that instead. 


When you say Ought expresses moral desirability, Are you saying "x is objectively morally desirable" or are you saying "If I were you, I would find X morally desirable"?


Until we have resolved these terms, I will address your argument based off both generic definitions and based off my interpretation of your definitions. 



The "Is/Ought" Distinction. (Hume's Guillotine)

In a nutshell, this philosophical problem has demonstrated that an ought statement can only logically follow from another ought statement.  This causes an obvious infinite regress unless there is an intrinsic ought that can be drawn upon.  


More specifically any "is" or even "if" statements (because "if" statements are logically congruent to is statements) cannot imply an ought statement.  For instance, if it is raining outside and I say "it [is] raining, therefore you [ought] to use an umbrella" the person in question can infinitely ask you why this is the case and one will never be able to imply the ought.  The conversation would go as follows. 

P2: Why should I care if it's raining? 
P1: Because you'll get wet without an umbrella. 
P2: Why should I care if I get wet? 
P1:  Because if you get wet you'll be uncomfortable
P2:  Why should I care if I'm uncomfortable? 
P1:  Because if you're uncomfortable for too long, it might cause you harm
P2:  Why should I care if I'm harmed? 
P1:  Because if you get harmed for too long, you'll die. 
P2:  Why should I care if I die? 
P1:  Because people want to live in general. 
P2:  Why should I care if anybody wants to live? 

From here it pretty much bottoms out and starts going into a circle that will revolve around either life or suffering until one side gets sick of talking. 

This is why philosophy seems to indicate that Is can never imply ought.  With respect to ought statements implying ought statements.  A justified ought has already broken the barrier and can transfer it's justification up the chain of ought. 

Let's assume in this case, that the life ought is intrinsic true.  (hypothetically)

P1:  You ought to live, and not having an umbrella could make you get sick and die, therefore you ought to take an umbrella. 
P2:  Okay..... 


This is directly analogous to the topic.  Although we can agree that the law does afford migration rights in some cases and in fact, we can agree on most of this topic, what I will not agree on here is that migration ought to be a right.  



Right to Leave

I would agree that objectively the person in your scenario would indeed be a prisoner and would be having his legal rights violated assuming that such legal rights exist on that particular farm.  However, due to the is ought distinction, there is no situation where we can say that the parents ought to allow their child to leave.  The difference is that one of these statements is descriptive and the other is prescriptive.  A prescriptive statement, is the equivalent of saying "This is what I would do if I was in your shoes".  Technically, the statement is true in the sense that might be objectively what they would do in your situation, assuming they know everything that you know as well.  However, nowhere in the statement is any sort of driving imperative that can objectively judge the morality of one's actions.  Every moral that we draw is necessarily pragmatic and cannot be justified with logic, only explained. 


I will extend this line of thinking to your community argument as well.  I will say that such rights may be objectively enforced by the law of the land, but cannot be given as intrinsic imperatives.  



Conclusion

Due to the is/ought distinction, combined with the implications of the topic, we must conclude that the right to migration follows the same rule and cannot be implied in the form of an ought statement.  This means that Pro can never justify the topic with any kind of evidence, but rather make a pragmatic appeal.  Saying we should accept some ought statement as an axiom to draw from.  This would not be logical nor would it hold truth value.  It would only be pragmatic.  If pragmatism is all that matters, then vote Pro.  If logic matters, if Con.  If they both matter equally to you then good luck. 


Your floor jefe 






Round 2
Published:
Thanks to Con for his reply. I will now defend my case.

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I. The Is/Ought Problem

So, there are four things to note here right off the bat:

  1. Con does not offer a case himself, and given an equal burden of proof, he cannot successfully negate unless he either (1) runs a Kritik or (2) proves that migration ought not be a human right. Since Kritiks are disallowed by the rules, either Con has broken the rules or he hasn't made any argument that could meet his burden. 
  2. Con does not establish or make clear how I am deriving an "ought" from an "is," and so it is not at all clear how the majority of his arguments relate to anything at all. His points seem almost entirely off-topic.
  3. Con's argument is confusingly phrased and incredibly vague. It is not actually clear what he is arguing and what his advocacy is. This not only creates an unfair burden for me, in that I now have to try to make sense out of a word miasma, but it also means judges should default to my case as it is the only one with a definable position.
  4. The Is/Ought problem is not an obstacle for my case.
As I found Con's explication of this question somewhat confusing, I will attempt to clarify here what the Is/Ought problem is precisely. The problem states that moral precepts cannot be derived from natural facts and states. For example, the statement "animals kill each other, and so killing is okay because it is natural" runs directly into the Is/Ought problem. That it "is" the case that animals kill each other does not mean it "ought" to be the case that killing is okay. This logic impermissibly transforms an "is" into an "ought," and so wrongly attempts to derive a moral precept from a material condition. This, however, does not mean that material facts are irrelevant to morality, just that moral values cannot be derived therefrom. But more on that in a moment.

Given that it will be necessary to clear up the confusion on this issue, "morality" is defined variously as "principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior," "conformity to ideals of right human conduct," and "set of standards for good or bad behavior." [1-3] What is important in each of these definitions that morality is composed of a set of principles, ideals, or standards which inform the goodness or badness, rightness or wrongness of the conduct being assessed.

If morality is defined in this way, it seems that it is actually the case that morality is a collection of principles and rules which can be applied to situations to determine what "ought" to be done. Take the case of utilitarianism, which argues that the moral precept is the maximization of happiness. This precept functions axiomatically. So, if as a utilitarian I say that "we ought to do X because it is going to save net lives," I do not run into the Is/Ought problem. If we are already defining the promotion of happiness as a moral precept axiomatically (and thus not derivately, as from a material fact), there is no dilemma. The axiomatic nature of the precept also prevents infinite regress. This is one example of how material facts are relevant to morality, and how this can be the case without running into the Is/Ought problem.

Unless Con is planning to argue that values running the gamut from life to liberty to safety to community should not be included in such an axiomatic scheme, then it is hard to see how his argument here makes any sense. At the heart of it, our moral intuitions clearly guide us to the notion that these values should be included in such a scheme, which creates a strong presumption against any argument for their dis-inclusion which Con might attempt to make.

Therefore, if we include as axiomatic those values and principles I name in my case, then we "ought" to act in ways which will uphold and respect them. So, if we value freedom, we ought not to keep people captive on farms. Indeed, we ought not to allow others to keep people captive on farms. Similarly, if we value community, we ought to ensure that the community is able to function well. This logic is hardly ground-breaking, and it is counterproductive for Con to challenge it.

Finally, this train of thought brings up another reason to throw Con's whole Is/Ought problem out of the window. If we constantly have to rehash prior questions like the Is/Ought issue, we will never get a chance to debate the later issues like the one expressed in the resolution. Keeping us at a single stasis level, which may never be fully resolved, is discursively counterproductive and serves to hold moral discourse hostage to a small set of foundational debates. While there are good times and places for raising these objections, where real violations of the Is/Ought problem occur, this is clearly not one of them. In the interest of debate and communication, we should reject this tactic of Con's outright.

II. Miscellaneous Issues

Given that Con has asked for a definition of a "right," which he could have done prior to accepting the debate, I will suggest to him that a right, in a moral context, is a moral entitlement, i.e. a freedom, capacity, good, outcome, etc. to which one is morally entitled. [4] I think this is a fairly straightforward and common-sense way of understanding the word.

I would add that I took time in my overview to clarify, in part, my understanding of human rights and how such rights are subject to certain limitations. Notice that I am referring to human rights as things we hold in the abstract (prima facie) and which may or may not be applied to certain circumstances based on the balancing calculations at play. As I wrote earlier: "Rather, we are saying that all persons have this right prima facie, but that whether they can exercise it in any given circumstance is dependent on the balancing act that must take place to resolve competing rights claims."

I would conclude by strongly urging my opponent to engage with my actual advocacy, rather than making semantic arguments regarding prior questions, and by asking voters for a Pro vote. Thank you. I await my opponent's next posting.

III. Sources

Published:
Let's jump in.  

You said: 

Con does not offer a case himself, and given an equal burden of proof,

This is simply false.  My case against you is the claim that the is/ought distinction necessarily implies that one cannot derive an ought statement from and is statement, you've admitted it yourself.  What you're really trying to say is that I'm not arguing from the position that you think I should be arguing from (migration ought not be a right)  This is fallacious.  

If I have a jar of gumballs and you claim that there are an even number of gumballs and I say I don't believe you, that is not the same as saying that there is an odd number of gumballs.  I am saying that I don't believe your claim.  Now I am still taking on a burden of proof.  But the difference is that I'm not taking on the burden of the claim that you think I ought to take on and since is can't imply ought, that means that you can't tell me I'm not accepting the BOP.   My claim is that you can't derive ought from is and I have met my burden of proof by citing Hume's guillotine and giving a detailed example. 


runs a Kritik or (2) proves that migration ought not be a human right. Since Kritiks are disallowed by the rules, either Con has broken the rules or he hasn't made any argument that could meet his burden. 

Let me post what was said in the description so that it's clear what my opponent is talking about. 

6. No "kritiks" of the topic (challenging assumptions in the resolution)

I want to be clear that I did not challenge any assumptions made in the resolution.  I did not try to invalidate any definitions nor did I violate any of the contingencies that my opponent put forward, no matter how arbitrary they may or may not be.  The only thing I did was ask for clarification of my opponent's definitions in order for us to have a better and more honest discussion.  

Nowhere in the description at all does it say that part of the resolution was for me to take the "ought not" position here.  Anybody who doesn't believe me can read the entire description and prove demonstrably that I'm correct.  Just to make it official, here's the source. 




Con does not establish or make clear how I am deriving an "ought" from an "is," and so it is not at all clear how the majority of his arguments relate to anything at all. His points seem almost entirely off-topic.
I will address how you're doing this in a moment, but I would like to point out that you're kind of missing the point here.  The whole point of the is/ought distinction is that we have no way to derive an ought statement at all.  That's why I agreed with some of your points.  If you want to descriptively tell me that X is a human right and people want X to be a human right and it's good for survival to make X a human right.  I would agree with all of that. 

But the topic is as you put in the description: 

"--Topic--
Transnational migration ought to be a human right."

That ought in your sentence is my problem with the argument, it's the reason for my claim and it's where my BOP lies.  I want to be clear on this again.  I am not trying to refute the definition of ought that you gave at all.  What I'm saying is that ought does not logically follow unless you have another ought which leads to an infinite regress unless you have an ought that is not justified by anything at all, which makes it an axiom, which makes it unjustified.  This is supported by our collective studies of epistemology as a species.  



Now as for how you're falsely deriving ought, let's jump in. 

Suppose, however, that my family prevents me from leaving. They catch me at the fence and say: "You were born here on this farm, and so you must remain here for life." There is obviously something morally wrong about this situation, namely, that I have been unjustly imprisoned. Even if I am free to wander about the farm itself, the fact that I am never allowed to leave means that I am a captive of this place, a prisoner unable to leave, denied--without just cause--the liberty to pursue my own dreams and passions. 

This argument you made is absolutely loaded with is statements.  "They catch me at the fence" that's an is statement.  You're saying "they are catching me at the fence"  It's descriptive.  You're describing all of the things that are keeping you from leaving and then saying that you ought to be able to leave.  Honestly, I could do this with any of your arguments because this is why the is/ought distinction is taken so seriously in philosophy.  There's no way around it.  You would need an ought statement to support your topic and that ought statement would need another ought statement which would need another ought statement, which would need another ought statemnet, which would need another ought statement.  etc. etc. etc. etc. all the way to infinity. 


Con's argument is confusingly phrased and incredibly vague. It is not actually clear what he is arguing and what his advocacy is. This not only creates an unfair burden for me, in that I now have to try to make sense out of a word miasma, but it also means judges should default to my case as it is the only one with a definable position.

This is a tad disingenuous.  My arguments were not vague nor was it unclear what I was positing.  The is/ought problem is well known.  It's not like I'm speaking Chinese and just because the language might be confusing to you doesn't me it's confusing.  That's subjective to the person reading it.   I'm using common philosophical language, so if you don't understand my position, maybe it's because you don't talk that way.  Would that be my fault?  Are you going to say that I [ought] to use your language? 


The Is/Ought problem is not an obstacle for my case


That's a nice claim.  Where's your evidence.  Do you really expect me to believe that every philosopher in history couldn't overcome this obstacle, but somehow, it's nothing for you?  Am I to also believe that your position is so virtuous that you can just state it to be the case without evidence?  You're making the positive claim that it's not a problem.  Now I'm asking you to justify it with evidence instead of attacking me with false claims about my conduct.  Honestly, you've spent more or you rebuttal debating my conduct than my arguments.  You talked about an unfair burden of proof because I'm not explaining.  Where is your explanation to my rebuttals?  There is none.  You're just attacking my conduct when I'm doing a great job of following your arbitrary rules mostly out of good faith that you might drop this tactical BS and engage me in a way so that we can learn something today. 


Given that it will be necessary to clear up the confusion on this issue, "morality" is defined variously as "principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior," "conformity to ideals of right human conduct," and "set of standards for good or bad behavior." [1-3] What is important in each of these definitions that morality is composed of a set of principles, ideals, or standards which inform the goodness or badness, rightness or wrongness of the conduct being assessed.

I agree that morality derives from certain principles.  If you're telling me descriptively that "people abide by these X standards for their morality"  I would 100% agree with you.  However, once you cross that prescriptive threshold and say "therefore you ought to do those things"  That is where Hume's guillotine chops your head off.  You must understand that this is a semantic argument.  Ontologically, I agree with you on every prong.  But semantically, your language does not logically follow.  You can never get past a practical appeal with this argument.  There must be an axiom involved for your argument and it will not be justified unless it's intrinsic.  these are all simply facts. 


If morality is defined in this way, it seems that it is actually the case that morality is a collection of principles and rules which can be applied to situations to determine what "ought" to be done

I just want to point out that I addressed this in my opening even though you falsely claim that I'm not presenting arguments.  "if" statements, are merely repackaged "is" statements and they don't logically follow either.  The distinction here is more subtle, But I'll show you because I like having a BOP ;) 

You:  If you want to live (principle) then  you ought to keep yourself alive (imperative) {Looks solid at first glance, but just wait.}
Me:  Why should I care about being alive?  
You:  Because if you want to, then you're going to. 
Me:  Why should I care if I'm going keep myself alive?  
You:  Because you want to (is statement)
Me:  Why should I care if you want to? 
You:  Because if you want to then you're going to. 
Me:  That doesn't mean that I should want to.  It only means that I'm going to (and the infinite regress continues)

The bottom line here is that having a principle can indeed tell you what the objectively best outcome would be by your standard.  The problem is that you can't say that they ought to follow the standard even if they want to because you can't say that they ought to want to follow it or want the outcome or anything of the sort. 

I'm running out on my word limit so if there was something key that I missed, just let me know and I'll address it in later rounds.  

I hope we can put aside the accusations about conduct and really talk about this.  You might find I'm being as illogical as you think I am.  Our disagreement is actually small in my opinion.
Round 3
Published:
Thanks to Con for his reply. I will now refute his remarks.

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I. Burdens

As I said last round, Con does not offer a case himself, and given an equal burden of proof, he cannot successfully negate unless he either (1) runs a Kritik or (2) proves that migration ought not be a human right. Since Kritiks are disallowed by the rules, either Con has broken the rules or he hasn't made any argument that could meet his burden. Let's explore this claim in a bit more depth, since Con seems to be missing the point.

Con misunderstands how equal burdens function in a debate. My burden, as Pro, is to prove the resolution true within the context of the debate via a preponderance of the evidence and argumentation. The equal counterpart to that is to prove the resolution false within the context of the debate via a preponderance of the evidence and argumentation. 

Con's arguments are not attempting to prove the resolution false, but are rather focused solely on preventing me from proving it true (namely, by suggesting my approach is fallacious due to the Is/Ought issue). Negating Pro's case is not the same as negating the resolution. At best, if my case is negated, we have to default to a tied debate, since Con has not given voters any reason to believe the resolution to be false. In such a scenario, neither Pro nor Con would have met their burden.

Alternatively, Con is suggesting that the resolution is unanswerable given that, to quote Con directly, "every philosopher in history couldn't overcome this [Is/Ought] obstacle." Con is literally saying that because there is an "ought" in the topic, we cannot hope to answer it. This is a Kritik, as the resolution assumes its own answerability. Debate resolutions have to assume answerability because their goal is to create fair conditions for discursive victory--these are not conditions which can exist without assuming that both debaters can answer the topic.

Therefore, Con is either running a Kritik or failing to meet his burden of proof in this debate. Neither is a winning strategy for Con.

II. The Is/Ought Problem

The Is/Ought Problem is not an obstacle for my case. I devoted five paragraphs of text last round to explaining why it is not an obstacle, yet Con has not taken the time to address the substance of the argument I presented. Instead he chose to respond to a hodgepodge of quotations selected seemingly at random and which are only tangentially related to my core argument. Let me therefore restate the primary argument I made last round, which has so far gone unrefuted:

If morality is defined in this way, it seems that it is actually the case that morality is a collection of principles and rules which can be applied to situations to determine what "ought" to be done. Take the case of utilitarianism, which argues that the moral precept is the maximization of happiness. This precept functions axiomatically. So, if as a utilitarian I say that "we ought to do X because it is going to save net lives," I do not run into the Is/Ought problem. If we are already defining the promotion of happiness as a moral precept axiomatically (and thus not derivately, as from a material fact), there is no dilemma. The axiomatic nature of the precept also prevents infinite regress. This is one example of how material facts are relevant to morality, and how this can be the case without running into the Is/Ought problem.

Unless Con is planning to argue that values running the gamut from life to liberty to safety to community should not be included in such an axiomatic scheme, then it is hard to see how his argument here makes any sense. At the heart of it, our moral intuitions clearly guide us to the notion that these values should be included in such a scheme, which creates a strong presumption against any argument for their dis-inclusion which Con might attempt to make.

Therefore, if we include as axiomatic those values and principles I name in my case, then we "ought" to act in ways which will uphold and respect them.
In other words, defining morality as an axiomatic scheme, where certain values and ideas are axiomatically treated as moral, solves the Is/Ought problem and avoids infinite regress, including the infinite regress implied by if/then statements. So, if we axiomatically include such things as freedom of movement and life in our moral scheme, then it is moral that we should promote these things. Again, this isn't ground-breaking, and it obviates Con's quarrel with my case altogether.

In fact, Con concedes the point when he writes, "I agree that morality derives from certain principles." If we are deriving morality from principles, we are not deriving it from material fact, ergo, there is no Is/Ought problem. 

Con does offer one interesting objection, though still fallacious, which relates to the justification of axioms. His objection is:

There must be an axiom involved for your argument and it will not be justified unless it's intrinsic...The problem is that you can't say that they ought to follow the standard even if they want to because you can't say that they ought to want to follow it or want the outcome or anything of the sort.
There are two problems with this logic. Firstly, if a value is treated as an axiom, by definition it requires no justification. Secondly, an axiom can be justified by our moral intuitions, which was an argument that I presented last round and which Con failed to engage with at all. Just as we have eyes to see the world around us, we have a "sense" of morality which allows us to define, albeit loosely, its contours. This does not run afoul of the Is/Ought problem because it is a moral sense, not a material one.

III. My Case

Con continues to fail to establish or make clear how I am deriving an "ought" from an "is," and so it is not at all clear how the majority of his arguments relate to anything at all or how they are successfully rebutting my case.

Con nit-picks at the sentence level, pointing to snippets such as "They catch me at the fence" to make his point. Con's tactic here fails to consider my case in context, and that is where Con errs. In context, it is clear that I am appealing to moral principles such as free association, free movement, and respect for life to justify my positions. Since I am ultimately appeal to values and principles, not to material facts, to derive ought statements, my case does not run into the Is/Ought problem.

And remember, material facts can be relevant without being derivative sources of moral precepts. As long as I am not deriving my values from material facts, I can consider those facts in the application of prior values. 

Thus, I will conclude by once more asking the voters for their vote. Thank you. I await my opponent's next posting.
Published:
I apologize, I was under the impression that this would be an honest discussion.  That was my fault for making assumptions.  


As I stated, I did not challenge any assumptions made in the description.  You're not arguing for you case, you're just using your description as a tool to win your debate.  How frivolous of you.  I've already made my case and you simply hand wave it off saying it's not a problem. 


I have no more to say on the topic.  I rest my case for the remainder of the debate unless you want to argue honestly. 


In the mean time, I'm off to find some honest debaters. 
Round 4
Published:
My opponent wanted an honest discussion and got an honest discussion. The irony here is that Con, rather than having a substantive debate about the actual subject of migration, instead chose to present a nit-picking and semantic argument which obviously ran counter to the spirit of the debate.

I engaged extensively with the arguments Con provided, explaining precisely why they were flawed. Con chose to ignore those arguments, failing to address my points on axiomatic systems and moral intuitions. 

Since Con has dropped all of my key arguments, please extend them as dropped. Con cannot not now reply to them without making new arguments. Please vote Pro. Thank you to Con for the debate, such as it was, and to the voters for reading and voting.
Published:
My opponent is so contrarian that he has completely missed the points of my arguments.  This is why he keeps saying that I haven't made any.  I made a semantic argument, which is a valid form of argument.   My argument stems from a philosophy problem that directly applies to his proposition.  He has acknowledged the is/ought problem while committing a special pleading fallacy to dodge them.  There is nothing honest about this.  If my opponent wanted to talk about the subject at hand, all he had to do was admit what every other philosopher admits and then we could have discussed the ways in which someone would ground their morality of migration.  


My opponent says that he makes no is statements in his argument.  This is Ludacris.  All arguments are made up of is statements.  There is no way around this.  I think the real issue here is that my opponent does not understand the is/ought distinction as well as he claims.  


My opponent says I challenged assumptions made in the topic.  This is not true.  I accepted all definitions of the argument as well as I accept the topic for what it was.  This is the dirty trick that my opponent uses to attempt to win this debate.  He conflates challenging the topic with challenging assumptions made in the topic.  His strategy is simple.  In his mind, anybody who makes a claim against his topic is challenging it's assumptions, so he wins automatically.  


I hope your votes keep you warm at night.  Because your thoughts won't.  

You can win as many debates as you want.  In the end, I win at life because I'm not petty enough to be dishonest in my arguments.  I'll state the truth even if it loses me 1,000 debates and you can just keep kissing the respective behinds of the voters like the pseudo politician that you are.  


Also, not, that it matters since I'll never willingly debate you again, but don't rush me to post a closing statement next time you jerk.  I was at work making money for my children and I will take as long as I damn well please. 
Added:
--> @Tejretics
Thanks.
Instigator
#107
Added:
--> @bsh1
>But I do take your point re: having a normative theory. I considered that option, and in hindsight it might have been a better choice.
I don’t necessarily mean you should’ve done that in your R1 case. I just mean, in your response, you should’ve perhaps advanced some combination of ethical theories. But really, you didn’t need to, you could’ve built on the intuition line, which I think is fairly strong if you go a bit further. You know more about ethics than I do, so I’m confident you’d have come up with something that would have won even if kritiks were allowed -- I’m just saying that it seems like you had the space, so it could be useful to bolster your responses more.
Added:
--> @bsh1
It didn’t receive a mention in the RFD since I didn’t view it as relevant to why you won the debate. I think the first response doesn’t really make sense -- your response to “that’s false” can’t be “oh, but that’s an axiom that doesn’t need justification.” I like the second response about moral intuition, would have liked to see more of that -- the reason it wasn’t debate-winning, though, is that it merely proved *possibility,* not *probability.* Con was pushing the burden of proof on you to prove your assumption of moral realism (which was clearly a kritik, so pointing that out was enough to win you the debate, but I think it’s good strategy to do “even if” responses in case there’s some judge who doesn’t buy that).
Added:
--> @Tejretics
But I do take your point re: having a normative theory. I considered that option, and in hindsight it might have been a better choice.
Instigator
#104
Added:
--> @Tejretics
You write: "justifying normative ethical theories is impossible because it...runs into an infinite regress of justifications...because any starting point is necessarily a bare assertion." I don't think Con clearly articulated that argument until R2, which is why I didn't offer any type of response sooner. Even in R2 it felt like more of an afterthought, albeit one that could have proven potentially lethal. The lack on emphasis from Con on the first argument you articulate is why I chose to emphasize instead my discussion of the second.
I did try to offer *something* of a response to this line of argumentation after I saw it had appeared, writing: "There are two problems with this logic. Firstly, if a value is treated as an axiom, by definition it requires no justification. Secondly, an axiom can be justified by our moral intuitions, which was an argument that I presented last round and which Con failed to engage with at all. Just as we have eyes to see the world around us, we have a "sense" of morality which allows us to define, albeit loosely, its contours. This does not run afoul of the Is/Ought problem because it is a moral sense, not a material one." I take it this wasn't sufficient on that point?
Instigator
#103
Added:
--> @bsh1
Since you asked for feedback: The tl;dr of this is that, even though you’re right that Con basically ran a post-fiat kritik, you should take Con at their best case and do an “even if”-style engagement (e.g., “even if you don’t buy that this is a kritik or that this is irrelevant, here’s why Con’s argument is false”).
The best non-kritik version of Con’s argument would be to challenge you to justify a coherent ethical theory based on which your first and second arguments were true. I’d recommend doing that, perhaps in R2. For example, your first argument appears vaguely Rawlsian or libertarian, while your second argument seems vaguely communitarian. It’s possible to reconcile those two frameworks and offer a justification for both -- for example, you could say that moral uncertainty means we should weigh ethical considerations from a variety of normative ethical theories, including liberalism, libertarianism, and communitarian ethics. Or you could simply argue that moral intuition is valuable. You’re significantly more educated about these arguments than I am and I think they’d have bolstered your case.
I would also recommend taking Con at their best case and arguing against moral skepticism beyond just saying “we can accept moral axioms” (which is a bare assertion, though I suppose rule 6 allows you to make that bare assertion and let it be uncontested). The simplest response to skep arguments, as far as I know, is to simply say that insofar as moral realism is logically possible, it is less potentially costly to act as if moral realism were true. I believe you made a similar argument in your debate against 16kadams on animal rights, in which you said: “Presume Pro because it’s more egregiously unjust to deny rights where they were due than to award rights where they weren’t.” You didn’t say that in the context of metaethics, but I would guess that it’s as compelling in that context as well.
Added:
--> @bsh1
I offer to provide you with more detailed feedback on your case and/or your handling of the is/ought issue if you wish, either here or in PMs if you would prefer.
Added:
Also, 100 comments.
Instigator
#100
Added:
Still would love some more votes with feedback on my case or my handling of the Is/Ought debate...
Instigator
#99
Added:
--> @Sporkicide
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Vote Reported: Sporkicide // Mod Action: Removed
Points awarded: Pro
RFD: Con lost the moment he started behaving childishly and disrespecting his opponent.
Reason for mod action: First and foremost, this user is ineligible to vote. In order to vote, accounts must have read the site's COC AND completed at least 2 non-troll debates without any forfeits OR posted 100 forum posts. This user has done none of those things and so this vote is removed.
Furthermore, this vote fails to meet the COC standards. To cast a sufficient vote in the choose winner system, a voter must explicitly, and in the text of their RFD, perform the following tasks: (a) survey the main arguments and counterarguments presented in the debate, (b) weigh those arguments against each other (or explain why certain arguments need not be weighed based on what transpired within the debate itself), and (c) explain how, through the process of weighing, they arrived at their voting decision with regard to assigning argument points. Weighing entails analyzing how the relative strength of one argument or set of arguments outweighed (that is, out-impacted) and/or precluded another argument or set of arguments. Weighing requires analyzing and situating arguments and counterarguments within the context of the debate as a whole.
The voter should review the COC here: https://www.debateart.com/rules
The voter should also review this: https://www.debateart.com/forum/topics/346?page=1&post_number=4
*******************************************************************
#98
Added:
I love some more votes with feedback on my case or my handling of the Is/Ought debate...
Instigator
#97
Added:
The difference is that my pointing out a rules breach was never personal. All your insults were.
Instigator
#96
Added:
--> @bsh1
Let's just be clear on this. I am not the one who started with the accusations. If you don't want to receive, then you shouldn't give. It's that simple. I'll gladly end this conversation for the sake of your personal liberties, but just know that your hands are not clean in all of this.
It's not that I'm not trying to understand you, it's just that we flatly disagree. When it comes down to it, you think that your contingencies were productive to the debate and I don't. You think that debates are merely competitive and I don't. One could say that beating each other to death with toddler bodies is competitive and the context doesn't matter. But once you walk out of that sporting ring, you still have to go to sleep at night contending with the fact of what you did in the ring. If you think being in a debate ring suspends reality for you, I assure you that you are sadly mistaken.
I accuse you have being obtuse because I believe it. I am willing to concede things that I think are true even in a debate where it would lose me the debate. Give me one good reason why I should believe anything that you say when you are the type of person to disagree with a person's entire debate arguments wholesale. If you were arguing honestly, then there would have been at least a few points that I made that you could have agreed with, but it's just a game to you. You've admitted as much.
I'm going to throw you a bone though, because I sincerely like to see people improve even when they seem hopeless. If you want an example of what an objective debater looks like. Go look at Dustandashes. You could learn a thing or two from him. I know I have.
Contender
#95
Added:
>> The objective truth, however, is that whether or not you're allowed to do it in a debate does not change the fact that you're roleplaying might cause someone to hurt the trees that you love. How can that not bother you?
Because anyone who took my debates seriously on that level would be gravely mistaken, and because I doubt my debates are silver-tongued enough to be the decisive force in how they come down on a particular issue. Most of the time, people understand that debates are just all in good fun, and nothing more.
Instigator
#94
Added:
--> @bsh1
I understand that, but it's not the same. I can enter a debate as an industrialist and do it in a way that is still in line with my beliefs. Maybe I advocate for soft industrialism. Now if you want to just full on play devil's advocate, then that's your prerogative obviously. On a practical level, I would suggest you make it clear that you're playing devil's advocate, but that's just my opinion.
The objective truth, however, is that whether or not you're allowed to do it in a debate does not change the fact that you're roleplaying might cause someone to hurt the trees that you love. How can that not bother you?
If someone because a theist because I lied, I would hold myself morally responsible for that. Now they might because a theist because of my atheism. But at least in that case I took every action possible to try and make that not happen and I certainly didn't roll the dice on it like you are.
Contender
#93
#4
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Winner 1 point
Reason:
Con’s case is as follows. In order for Pro to prove that migration “ought” to be a human right, they need to justify a particular normative ethical theory. The problem is that justifying normative ethical theories is impossible because it either (1) runs into an infinite regress of justifications or (2) attempts to ground itself in real-world facts. The first of these is a problem, according to Con, because any starting point is necessarily a bare assertion. The second of these is a problem since that would be committing a naturalistic fallacy -- the fact that something is the case doesn’t mean it ought to be the case. The problem for Con, though, is that this would be a post-fiat kritik. It’s a classic example of what formal debaters often call a “moral skep” argument -- it seems to argue in favor of either moral non-cognitivism or error theory, which challenges the resolution’s assumption that an “ought” is coherent. Rule 6 forbids that. Given that this debate operates under the assumption that moral realism is true, the question is: given moral realism, should migration be a human right? Pro offers two substantive reasons why it should be -- one is the argument that there is an individual right to the freedom of movement that shouldn’t be constrained by the random luck that determines where you are born and the other is the notion that humanity functions as a moral community, and movement within moral communities holds moral significance. Apart from the kritik, Con doesn’t attack these two claims. I understand Con’s frustration, but it’s their job to pay close attention to the rules. Thus, I vote Pro.
#3
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Winner 1 point
Reason:
"Right to leave"; Pro's argument in support of this right is strong, but Pro's connection of this to the resolution is weak. Pro's argument that migration within a community should be permitted is strong, but Pro's case for a human community is weak.
Con's hyper-technical is/ought approach to the resolution is not convincing. The resolution isn't ambiguous. Viewing this most charitably, it appears to be an attack on the lack of an objective, logical basis for morals. Con didn't attack the weaknesses of Pro's case. Con didn't make much of a case of his own.
These problems are largely pointed out by Pro within the following round. Con double's down on his is/ought argument, but I must reject this argument for the reasons Pro provided; It's unappealing due to being too technical and overly semantic. Con follows by making accusations of bad faith debating, none of which are true. Con finishes off with more accusations and sticking to the is/ought line of reasoning. Unfortunately, there doesn't appear to have been a substantive debate on this topic.
#2
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Winner 1 point
Reason:
Con literally concedes that non-migrating area-traps are the equivalent of prison in terms of human rights, at least to some degree and due specifically to not being able to leave. The Kritik that it isn't a human right but ought to be was kind of lost on me anyway since the entirety of expanding upon it became instead about the banning of Kritiks in debates and a couple of other rules like evenly shared BoP and vaguely 'no trolling'. In fact you could say Con's later Rounds were the definition of trolling as it became about making Pro feel shit for being a coward. Being a coward isn't being a troll, it takes a troll to expose a coward usually but that's how life goes. Don't overplay your hand against a coward when the coward is very willing to be aggressive when the time is right. This is poker strategy vs chess strategy, Con needs to learn not to mess with someone like bsh1 who understand how to use the opponent's aggression against them.
It's fine that you did this honestly, I agree with Con outside of this debate about bsh1 but the fact is you step into the arena you gotta respect the rules. You can't eye gouge and then say 'well in a real fight I can do that to you, coward!'
Tbh, I back bsh1 up on this; rules in the description are sacred to me (actually a lot more so than they are to bsh1, as evident by some cases of vote-modding). You agree to the description, if you lost then admit it and concede with grace.
#1
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Winner 1 point
Reason:
1.) Kritiks are prevented by the rules. An assumption Inherent in the resolution, is that the resolution is answerable (as outlined by pro), con clearly challenges this assumption and therefore is guilty of a kritik. As this was cons whole argument - pros argument is not addressed and is dropped. Pro wins
2.) I am and have been willing to ignore rules if one side can argue why I should not accept the rules, that they are unfair or unreasonable. Pro points out the rule is there to keep the debate as a discussion on the merits of a plan - not a crappy nitpicking logic fest unrelated to the resolution. Con does not clearly elaborate on any harm that would be imposed for the rule. Rules upheld. Kritik rejected. Pros points dropped. Pro wins
3.) Cons case that moral imperatives are not possible and so the resolution is unanswerable, appears to be mostly dealt with as a value statement. That if one presupposes a particularly moral framework that guides moral decisions, then oughts are possible. Pro elaborates on this in Round 2. Con doesn’t seem to have much of an answer to why I shouldn’t accept this other than to object to the notion of an axiomatic value (pro covered in R3). Kritik rejected. Pros points dropped. Pro wins
4.) Even If I accept all that, is/ought are accepted problems and normally aren’t a part of policy debate. For me to accept the kritik even if I waive the three issues above, con imo has to show a clear harm of accepting this assumption as is. If pro can’t show why there is a harm in accepting the resolution - I can’t see any practical or meaningful reason I should accept the premise. Kritik rejected - pros arguments dropped. Pro wins
5.) even if I ignore the above, accepting the resolution in my view offers no negation of the resolution. As the BoP is evenly shared in the rules. Even if I reject everything pro said, and accept everything con said. It’s still a tie.
Given the above, pro had me at point one, and thus arguments go to pro.
Conduct. Not only was con engaging in a ridiculous nitpicking argument outside both the intent and normal practice of a debate, he then launched into an inherently anti social debate approach. This was rounded up with his 4th and 5th round:
“I apologize, I was under the impression that this would be an honest discussion.  That was my fault for making assumptions.”
“How frivolous of you.  I've already made my case and you simply hand wave it off saying it's not a problem. “
“I hope your votes keep you warm at night.  Because your thoughts won't. “
Cons behaviour deteriorated into the petulant and obtuse. Pro patiently responded, did not call names, or flip any tables, despite the degree of apparent provocation.
Cons behaviour was egregious. He didn’t appear to debate in good faith on the clear intent of the topic, he resorted to petulance and sarcasm that was clearly both objectionable to any reasonable person and showed a profound lack of respect for his opponent.
This Conduct was extremely disrespectful and would clearly warrant a conduct violation if it was allowed, but also severe enough and a loss on these grounds alone.
As a result, pro wins here in 5 different ways.