I was hoping to run an Aff with Justice as the Value and Locke's Social Contract as the Criterion.As I (and others) have mentioned elsewhere, classical approaches to the social contract are difficult for the affirmative. Locke disapproves. Hobbes wouldn't countenance it. Rousseau is anyone's guess.
Upon researching a bit more, however, it does become clear that Locke would have been against vigilantes. Is there a way to modify Locke or simply use a generic 'social contract' criterion on the Aff side without getting rocked?
Does that mean the Affirmative has no place to go?
Often in LD debate, competitors name-drop any of the Big Three without fully understanding the nuances in their positions. While this might make them seem well-researched, it can backfire, as a better-informed opponent can point out weaknesses in that philosopher's theory of the contract--or a judge, familiar with the philosopher, will set teeth on edge when hearing his work mangled.
This doesn't have to happen. Why use any of these particular theories when a more generic perspective will suffice? And why rely on crusty dead guys for your contractual logic? This is the beauty of LD: you are allowed to state your own premises and draw your own conclusions. A good argument is a good argument no matter who says it, and anyone who says otherwise is walking head-on into a trap called ad hominem.
For inspiration on the general theory underlying Social Contract thought, a good place to head is the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, which distinguishes two major strains: contractarianism and contractualism.
Contractarianism, which stems from the Hobbesian line of social contract thought, holds that persons are primarily self-interested, and that a rational assessment of the best strategy for attaining the maximization of their self-interest will lead them to act morally (where the moral norms are determined by the maximization of joint interest) and to consent to governmental authority. Contractarianism argues that we each are motivated to accept morality, as Jan Narveson puts it, "first because we are vulnerable to the depredations of others, and second because we can all benefit from cooperation with others" (1988, 148). Contractualism, which stems from the Kantian line of social contract thought, holds that rationality requires that we respect persons, which in turn requires that moral principles be such that they can be justified to each person. Thus, individuals are not taken to be motivated by self-interest but rather by a commitment to publicly justify the standards of morality to which each will be held. Where Gauthier, Narveson, or economist James Buchanan are the paradigm Hobbesian contractarians, Rawls or Thomas Scanlon would be the paradigm Kantian contractualists.Once you've chosen your foundation, you'll have to set about showing why the Social Contract produces a legitimate government (or achieves justice or social stability or welfare or whatever your value is), why the government's failure to enforce the law is interpreted as a breakdown in the Contract, and why the vigilante is therefore justified in taking the law into her own hands. It will probably take you a couple pages to hash everything out--and when you're done, you'll have a completed Affirmative case.
A few things to watch out for: a savvy Neg may argue that the law is not The Contract--which is technically true. You might want to pre-empt this by arguing that it doesn't matter; failure to enforce the law perpetuates social disorder, and is a widespread failure of the government to uphold its end of the bargain. Vigilantism, then, is justified for either of two reasons: for the same reason revolution is justified, or for propping up the State.
Also, a great way to get the Negative to agree to the Contract as a valid criterion for justice (if that's your value--which might be a good idea) is to ask a great CX question: What gives the State the right to punish criminals? Chances are their answer will dovetail nicely with your contractarian / contractualist view. If not, you can hammer 'em in your 1AR for failing to warrant the State's legitimacy versus that of the vigilante.
Last, a deontoloigcally-minded Affirmative might be on more solid ground, simply because the bar for justification is set a little lower. We don't have to argue that vigilantism is smart or best for society, only that it's justified. To the deontologist, that means, quite simply, that it's morally right. End of story.