May 1, 2008

limiting economic inequality ought to be a more important social goal than maximizing economic freedom

The NFL Lincoln-Douglas debate topic for the national tournament, 2008, has been released:
Resolved: Limiting economic inequality ought to be a more important social goal than maximizing economic freedom.
At last, a classic LD controversy, without the words "In the United States" to contextualize it to death. Lots of juicy words to analyze, and some pretty distinct positions staked out on either side, so it'll hopefully lead to good debate. Watch this space for links and analysis in the days and weeks to come. As always, your comments and questions will help drive my research and determine how much I'll blog about it.

5/2 To start thinking about it, read this brief essay on the philosophical disagreements--and moments of surprising harmony--between John Rawls and Robert Nozick. (If you didn't know, the resolution, in one reading, is a classic Rawls-v-Nozick struggle.)

5/4 I'm working on some thoughts, which I hope to post later this evening. In the meantime, examine the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy's take on Distributive Justice. And done: three reasons society should limit economic inequality.


josh cole said...

Wow. That's pretty much half of my major right there.

okiedebater said...

Here's a few preliminary thoughts that have not been thought through :)

1) Limiting economic inequality does not mean eliminating it. To what extent would it need to be limited to be applicable to the resolution? Would any limiting apply?

2) As the resolution specifies "social goal", what parties would be responsible? Not-for-profit corporations? Churches? Governments? Individuals?

3) Any philosophy that emphasizes individual rights over social responsibility would seem to support maximizing one's own economic freedom over helping reduce economic disparity.

4) It seems like a state that took limiting economic inequality to the extreme (getting rid of all limiting inequality) would have no economic freedom whatsoever. Economic freedom would intuitively lead to economic inequality (even if everyone started on equal footing). For example, if everyone was given $10, some might invest, some could pool resources and THEN invest, some might just bury it. (see the parable of the talents). These different actions (the result of economic freedom) would lead to economic inequality.
One could try to color the resolution by trying to turn it into socialism versus capitalism. One could also try to make it into a welfare state scenario (on a global scale).

5) On the other side of (4),
one could try to argue that as individuals maximize their economic freedom, they will then be able to engage in activities that will in turn limit economic equality (though not eliminate it).
Some examples of this could include charity (which is generally the result of economic freedom), and theories along the lines of "supply-side economics" (reducing taxes in order to increase the amount of money available for consumption/investment).

Anonymous said...

any framework ideas

island_rider said...

Let me see if i understand something real quick.

Acourding to Okiedebater, by increacing economic freedom you simulaniously increace economic inequality due to the difference of individual behavior. Now as i see it, it works the other way around as well. In order to decrease economic inequality there would have to be a great deal of governmental involvment that would decreace the economic freedom. Therefore, it is impossible to only either increace economic freedom or limit economic inequality without effecting the other.

Also, the resolution states that the negative must agrue to "maximize" economic freedom. What I'm wondering is to what extent must one increase economic freedom for it to be at its peak? Is there a set definition that declairs when economic freedom is mazimized? And if not, is "maximizing economic freedom" even a realistic goal to persue?