Regarding the March / April resolution. A work in progress.
Suggest your own in the comments!
For the Aff
C: Preserving autonomy
Preserving individual autonomy--including the ability to exercise discretion in going after villains--is a necessary route to justice when the government has failed to enforce the law. Autonomy precedes any sort of societal or law-and-order consideration, because it is the foundation of human rights and societal order.
C: Social Contract
The Social Contract is a rough approach to balancing rights claims as a precursor to the formation of a State. Any State that, through some loss of sovereignty, can or will no longer enforce the law, has violated the Contract, and is no longer legitimate. Thus, not only do individuals reserve the right to seek justice outside the State, but the State also cannot bring any claim against those who protect themselves or their community by doing so. In this way, vigilantism and civil disobedience are two sides of a coin.
C: Popular Sovereignty
Vigilantism, as the resolution would have it, is justified when the government has failed--arguably to a significant degree, since we're debating the "general principle," as the rules of LD state--via notions of justice, which is achieved by recognizing that ultimate sovereignty lies in the people, not the State or the law.
A utilitarian view of justice is founded on two principles of effectiveness: deterrence and incapacitation. Both fail when criminals neither fear the law nor face its consequences. Thus, utilitarianism justifies vigilantism when the government has failed to enforce the law.
C: The Categorical Imperative
Punishing the guilty is a categorical imperative. A Kantian would argue that if one of the last two people on earth, surviving the apocalypse in a concrete bunker, knew beyond a doubt that his fellow survivor was an escaped murderer, he would have duty to execute the evildoer. This justice-over-all approach warrants vigilantism in the face of failed government enforcement.
For the Neg
C: The Rule of Law
Affirming the resolution threatens the rule of law, since it prescribes no real minimum for the government's failure to enforce its statutes. Allowing vigilantism to flourish devalues the very institution of the law, which is the closest approximation to real justice within a given society.
V: Societal Welfare
C: The Rule of Law
If vigilantism is justified, similarly to the argument above, the rule of law is at risk, and society is a few steps removed from anarchy. The proper response to an ineffective or apathetic government is to reform its institutions, not to tear apart the social fabric.
V: Justice or Dignity
C: Protecting Rights
Vigilantism offers no protections of due process rights, no checks on cruel or unusual punishment, no accountability to any exterior force. Suspects--or even known criminals--are still humans, deserving of fair trials and humane treatment.