Jan 11, 2007

ideas for the Aff, January-February LD topic (the actions of corporations...)

Like many trying to craft their Aff cases for this resolution, reader jay is stumped.
there are so many possibilities for the neg but i dont see any good ideas for aff. does anyone know of any?

The only way i see as of right now is to say that a corporation acts as an individual or in society's eyes, is an individual, but i dont see any other way

Also, just a thought, but i think it would be foolish to use any particular moral theory in your case because your opponent will attack that particular standard rather than your case...for either side, its better, probably, to just say that there is one without specifically naming it...

but yeah aff ideas?
He's come to the right place to get un-stumped. Maybe it's just me, but I think there are a lot of great ideas for the Aff to run with. Here's a quick rundown, as well as my answer to the "moral theory" question.

1. The legal presumption of "corporate personhood" is morally coherent as well. Corporations are rational beings (a la Kant) and/or intentional actors, unified in their being despite comprising diverse entities (see Peter A. French). Just like humans. Therefore, we should hold them to the same standards.

2. Since corporations act through and affect individuals, their actions ought to be held to the same standards as individuals. The different organizational context of the corporation does not warrant different standards.

3. Ethical consumerism. We hold corporations to moral standards by supporting them with our money, either through purchase or investment, or by not supporting them, by shopping elsewhere or by boycotts or other social pressure.

I'm sure readers can come up with other directions for the Aff to take.

Now, to the "moral theory" question. Should we promote a specific moral theory, or leave that undefined? As jay cautions, we may end up spending valuable time defending the standards instead of arguing on case.

This is one of the toughest calls with this resolution. If you don't adopt a moral framework (consequentialism via utility or something similar; ethical egoism; deontology via Kant or Rawls; virtue ethics; etc.) you risk opening yourself to whatever standards the Neg applies. You're probably already making moral arguments implicitly in your case; by selecting a moral theory as your criterion, you make those arguments explicit for the judge.

Secondly, if you don't adopt a moral framework, you'll have a tough time with any neg case running "morality is impossible because..." You'll have to spend the time arguing for morality anyway, so why not have your morality ready-made?

Third, the word "ought" presumes there's some sort of moral reason for holding them to the same standards. That reason is based on a moral theory. What is your theory?

I hope these quick thoughts are useful. Questions? Comments? Fervent disagreements? Let the discussion commence.


Francis said...

could you post the Peter French article, because I can't find it anywhere (even databases like Jstor)

Jim Anderson said...

francis, your best bet is probably a university with extensive journal collections, or maybe even microfilm. Otherwise, you could read summaries of his work in many, many, many articles by supporters and detractors. I'd use the advanced search features in JSTOR or ProQuest.

I'll dig around and see if I can find anything more helpful.

Travis Boren said...

"The actions of the corporations are what ought to be held to moral standards, not the corporation itself" I came up with that idea during a period of "enlightenment." (I finally realized where I had been going wrong.) So, you can argue that corporations ought not to be held, but their actions ought to be. That can get around the trouble of corporations being many people.

Moral standards create laws. Having a case follow this can win you, and use examples of civil rights. (Just thinking while I type here.) An example, 13th admendment (U.S. constitution) gave civil rights, giving civil rights was because morality said it was necessary. This is a little tricky to fit together neatly, but I tried it during a rebuttle, because I had to completely make up my aff on the stop due not being able to prepare properly before it. On my ballot, the judge said they liked it, but said it was butchered. So that might be another strategy to use. While using this strategy, I have no clue on how you would set up your Value/Criterion structure though.

Anonymous said...

thanks i found those useful but i was curious if you knew any that could block the average neg case, i was having lots of trouble with things like, the actions are different since they have different effects.(they already said that the point of an action is to cause a and effect.) for example if a human were to eliminate another human that human could come back, but if a corporation eliminated a corporation the latter corporation could come back since it is independent of the people, proven by their definition.

If you could help me with the basic blocks against NEG arguments it would really helpfull.

Jim Anderson said...

anonymous, here are two questions you should consider when a Neg offers that line of argument.

1. If the actions are different, is the difference morally significant?
Murdering someone with a gun is an action different from murdering someone with a knife, but the actions are morally equivalent.

2. Is the comparison fair?
If a corporation kills a human, the human can't come back, either. Does this same action mean a different moral standard (or no moral standard) for the corporation? "Humans vs. Humans" compared to "Corporations vs. Corporations" may be an unfair analogy.

(You could also take a funny route, and argue that if reincarnation is true, humans might still "come back" in the same way a corporation can be reconstituted post-dissolution.)

Anonymous said...

What is the definition of an 'action' in Blacks Law dictionary?

According to law.com an 'action' is a lawsuit in which one party sues another.

Providing such a narrow definition for actions of both Corporations and Individuals narrows down the scope of the conflict considerably and may allow for an affirmative win.t

Anonymous said...

What is a 'moral standard'?

Failure of the aff to define this term means a sure loss.

Who and what code is used to establish the 'moral standard'. Judeo/Christian law? Sharia law? Buddhism? Animism? Atheistic?

standard of care
n. the watchfulness, attention, caution and prudence that a reasonable person in the circumstances would exercise. If a person's actions do not meet this standard of care, then his/her acts fail to meet the duty of care which all people (supposedly) have toward others. Failure to meet the standard is negligence, and any damages resulting therefrom may be claimed in a lawsuit by the injured party. The problem is that the "standard" is often a subjective issue upon which reasonable people can differ.

moral turpitude
n. gross violation of standards of moral conduct, vileness. An act involving moral turpitude is considered intentionally evil, making the act a crime. The existence of moral turpitude can bring a more severe criminal charge or penalty for a criminal defendant.

Jim Anderson said...


Some interesting thoughts. Your first definition, "actions," is clever, but anyone with a more generic definition is going to win that battle. Reason: we don't hold lawsuits to moral standards. We hold actions (in their normal sense) to moral standards, often through lawsuits (as your "standard of care" definition shows).

Second, "standard of care" is only one form of a moral standard, asking if you did what you could and should have done. Moral turpitude is the other side, asking why you did what you knew you shouldn't have. It'd be better to have a concise definition that covers both, or perhaps you could use each as a dual criterion for morality.

Third, maybe "standard of care" is nonresolutional, because it judges inaction, or failure to act, not action.