Resolved: Vigilantism is justified when the government has failed to enforce the law.Lots to chew on here, and plenty of analysis to come in the days and weeks ahead. Some initial questions to get you thinking:
What exactly is "vigilantism?" Can we set aside its negative connotations? What is the scope / degree of failure that the resolution requires? What is the timeframe? What makes individuals just in determining who is guilty and deserves punishment? Is law automatically just?
You can expect a lot of justice / social contract reasoning.
Sharing your questions and ideas makes this site even more useful. Speak up in the comments!
(Oh, and it's been a decidedly legal year in LD, eh?)
Update: Right now, I'm trying to arrange a carnival of posts on this topic. If you'd like to contribute, email me (the address is on my profile) with the subject line "a very bloggy vigilantism carnival." Feel free to pass this link on to bloggers who might be interested, too!
1. Your standard dictionary sources offer a couple distinct interpretations of "vigilantism," either of which has advantages or disadvantages. One has to do with an ad hoc taking of the law into one's own hands, whether individually or as a group. The other concerns one classic, corporate mode of vigilantism--the "vigilance committee," which is neither a disorganized mob nor an individual acting alone. This is a critical definition choice which greatly alters the ground of the debate. Choose wisely.
2. The law. Note the article. It's important. Define it as a phrase.
3. How Black's Law Dictionary (8th ed.) defines "vigilantism" and "enforcement."
1. Some initial thoughts on vigilantism.
2. Value and criterion pairs. A work in progress.
3. When vigilantism gets ridiculous.
4. The symbiotic relationship between vigilantism and legitimate enforcement.
5. Blog-neighbor Mark Olson gives a historical perspective, and links the resolution both to Hobbes and to Jouvenel.
6. From Tanzania, an example of how vigilantism can spur governmental reform.
7. Some analysis of vigilantism from a landmark study.
8. Blog-neighbor Peter Wall dives into the "uncharted waters" of vigilantism (Part I).
9. Some analysis of political theory regarding vigilantism. Much of use for the Neg.
10. Peter Wall, in Part II, discusses the problem of vigilantes' legal (in)expertise. Do they know the law well enough to step into the government's shoes?
11. One place to go for Negative arguments: religious traditions concerning nonviolence. A Christian perspective is examined.
12. Modern examples of vigilantism.
13. Peter Wall dives into evolutionary theory in Part III. A fresh and interesting perspective.
14. Jason Kuznicki offers a libertarian viewpoint.
15. Links to some analysis of different ethical perspectives on the resolution.
16. More on the social contract and vigilantism. What happens when Locke isn't good enough?
17. Guest-bloggers on a dissenting view of Locke and powerful Neg arguments.
If you're starting out in LD, check out these resources: how to construct cases, use a criterion, major philosophers to know, etc.