Oct 11, 2009

value / criterion pairs for the immunization resolution

LD casewriters studying the November/December compulsory immunization resolution might consider the following value and criterion pairs. (Have your own ideas? Suggest them in the comments!)

See also: my guide to some useful philosophers, plus a way to consider the criterion in LD debate.

A work in progress.

V: Societal Welfare
C: Act or Rule Utilitarianism
As I've mentioned elsewhere, many affirmative cases will use either explicit or implicit utilitarian reasoning. It's easy to figure out why: compulsory immunization, from the state's perspective, violates autonomy in order to keep the herd immune, and reduce suffering and death. Of course, some may argue that Mill's nonpaternalistic utilitarian scheme, via the harm principle, supports the negative, but that's what makes it fun.

Note: a potentially fruitful line of argument might be an analogy based on the infamous Trolley Problem. Also, see here for a deeper look at utilitarianism as a moral criterion.

V: Governmental Legitimacy
C: Social Contract
Because the resolution concerns compulsory immunization, making the agent of action the State, social contract theory comes into play. Change your value to "societal welfare," and you can make arguments based on contractarian reasoning as well. (My initial thought is that Hobbes or Rousseau are your best bets here.)

V: Freedom
C: Reducing Biopower
Foucault, anyone?

V: Autonomy
C: Deliberation
Without autonomy, humans are slaves, robots, or worse. Autonomy is the core of human freedom, rights, and responsibilities. Compulsion is a direct affront to autonomy; deliberation (especially deliberative democracy) uses dialogue and education to create change. (As you can probably see, this is a Negative approach.) Potential philosophers: Arendt or Habermas.

V: Autonomy or Humanity
C: Kant's Categorical Imperative
The Neg might argue that compelling someone to take a (potentially risky) vaccine in order to protect the herd is a classic case of using someone as a mere means to an end. If so, Kant says no.

V: Life
C: Utilitarianism
A fairly straightforward setup.

V: Justice
C: Rawls' "Original Position" or "Veil of Ignorance"
Compulsion is always a matter of justice. But with competing rights claims--and competing visions of the right--how can societies agree on what justice means? John Rawls' "veil of ignorance" offers an interesting form of a moral criterion, especially given Rawls' biography. Does compulsory immunization in the service of public health meet this standard?

V: Societal Welfare or Life
C: Negative Utility



stidmatt said...

V: Public Safety

C: Utilitarianism

Matt said...

side note on Foucault. Please God dont run Foucault if your just going to get up and say Compulsion and Coercion are synonymous. Coercion=Bio-power. Bio-power bad.
READ FOUCAULT, UNDERSTAND FOUCAULT, USE FOUCAULT CORRECTLY!!! Unless you can correctly pronounce his name dont run him. (hint: it is not pronounced Foo calt, I have heard this said and i wanted to shoot someone)

Anonymous said...

can you possibly use the Value Natural Rights and the Value Criterion of Limited Governemnt

Michel said...

On Foucault, the Wikipedia post is insufficient and rather inaccurate. Read Foucault before running him. For your own good.

Matt said...

on V/C pairs:

V: Justice/Morality/Whatever

C: Upholding Religious Freedoms


V: Justice/Morality/Autonomy/etc.

C: Upholding Parental Autonomy


Pretty Basic Neg ideas that I felt were missing from the list.

Anonymous said...

uh this may come off as a noob comment, but I have to ask.

Why use a philosophy as a value criterion?

It does not make any sense to me. The VC is a mechanism used to measure the impacts of your contentions. The contentions are measured to see if your contentions meet the standards to achieve your VP.

I don't understand how a philosophical concept can be used to measure impacts.

Meuddha said...

An idea for the affirmative.
V: Justice
VC: Increasing Equality

The idea is that if immunizations are mandated by the state, then they would be paid for by taxpayer dollars. This allows for the poor to also receive immunizations, hence increasing equality. Another way to impact back to this framework would be to argue that most people who get immunized are children, who do not usually have the choice of becoming immunized or not. If the immunization is mandatory, then all children become protected, regardless of their parents’ beliefs.

Jim Anderson said...

Anonymous, you've just hit on one of the central controversies in LD debate: what exactly the criterion is and does. Your perspective is one; another is that the criterion is a moral framework with which to judge the value; a third is that it's a way to more clearly define the value.

My further thoughts on the criterion are here. (Although it seems to me that I ought to update that post, since my thinking continues to evolve on the subject.)

Anonymous said...

Thanks Jim, I read what you wrote about the VC and I understand your theory of what a proper VC is. But I still disagree with the idea of a moral theory being a VC.

I rather the resolution be "LD debaters debate concerns justify the absence of the Value Criterion".

The VC is now pointless and is irrelevant. The resolutions since the ICC resolution have become more policy like in detail. Because of this policy-ish resolutions the old model of LD seems pointless and irrelevant.

I would like to make a challenge to anyone to prove how the typical LD case (VP/VC/1-3Contentions) is a proper form for a debate case.

I feel that LD debaters should adopt a policy case structure for resolutions that are policy-ish.

To provide a brightline, I beleive a LD resolution is; It is morally permissible to kill one innocent person to save the lives of more innocent people.

A policy-ish resolution is; Public health concerns justify compulsory immunization.

And because this post is going to be so long, I'll explain why a policy style case is better suited for this resolution if only someone takes up my challenge.

Anonymous said...

Also one more thing Jim.

What happened to the guy who wrote on the LD files blog?

He stop blogging....I liked his commentary on LD......

Jim Anderson said...

Anonymous, as far as I know, he's still blogging. He's had some technical issues in the past, but he has posts up on the Sept. resolution. (He might be readying material for the November resolution, too, but it's still October!) You'd have to ask him, though.

IdahoDebater said...

For the neg, I'm not sure how I want to approach it. I was thinking about a relativistic case, such as:

V: Justice (defined as fairness)
C: Moral Relativism
1. All individuals have different beliefs; Not right for a society to require immunization if an individual's personal belief opposes it
2. Isn't just for all individuals to be held to a single moral belief or standard
3. Haven't thought of one yet or if it's even needed

but I'm not sure if that would be my best option. After debating my Aff Case in a practice round today, I feel like for the neg I really need to justify allowing parents not vaccinating children. Before this, I was considering more of an approach of:

V: Autonomy
Cr: Basic Human Rights

1. Takes away autonomy; without autonomy we're as good as drones
2. Undermines the values of certain religions; only dictators mandate specific religion
3. Basic human rights are met by negating. Liberty, obvious. Life-Life entails more than just possessing a human life. No way to determine that life ends with death, so we can't sacrifice possible afterlifes in favor of now-lifes.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Which one would I be better served by (if either)? Thanks

Jim Anderson said...

IdahoDebater, I'm not sure if it's coherent to argue that "it's not just" or "it's not right" to hold everyone to a single moral standard. It seems like you're sneaking in your own universal moral standard ("rightness" or "justice") here.

Perhaps you're looking for something more along the lines of pluralism: abstractly, there may be one universal moral standard, but in real life, people disagree about fundamental moral questions, so the best approach is to work out disagreement through deliberation or other democratic procedures.

Anonymous said...

Would this work for neg?

V= Autonomy

C= Individal rights

ShOwMeDB8 said...

I definitely like Foucault, however I'm not sure I like freedom as the value, individual autonomy would work as well, would you agree?

Jim Anderson said...

Anonymous, I think that's definitely workable, but see below.

ShowMe, absolutely. Although there is a difference, to some theorists, between freedom (the ability to carry out one's life project unimpeded) and autonomy (self-rule--which can imply not only freedom, but the ability to know one's proper aims. See here for more on the gradations of moral autonomy.)

ShOwMeDB8 said...

Jim - Do you have any reading to suggest for Foucault, I'm fairly knowlegeable, but I want to be sure to know what I'm talking about. You mentioned Stanford Encyclopedia, but for actual quotations from Foucault where do I start?

Jim Anderson said...

I'm no Foucault expert, but I'd tentatively suggest The Birth of Biopolitics, as well as a visit to michel-foucault.com, a decent intro by a Foucault scholar. Others who are more familiar with Foucault should chime in here, and by all means, correct me if I'm mistaken.

Matt said...

Show Me

The History of Sexuality: Volume I, The Will to Knowledge. --Michel Foucault

The best place to get the info is directly from Foucault. Although http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/foucault/ is a great link.

One Major thing to keep in mind with Foucault is that he does not argue that Power is not Bad. You need to know not only what Bad Bio-Power is and how its identified. I.e the Logic behind bio-power. Biopolitics is not as simple coercion of the state. Bio-power=/= Coercion

IdahoDebater said...

For the neg, the case that really sticks out in my mind as the one I ought to go for is the relativistic case. I'm thinking of basically swapping the second contention's wording for something that says it's unjust for one group to impose their beliefs on another, and changing up the criterion to something else. I'm not sure what. Would this work out better? If so, what would be a decent criterion?

ShOwMeDB8 said...

Thanks Jim.

Matt - Okay so Foucault basically just has a theory of biopower, he may not necessarily say it's bad but you could twist it and say that we should reduce biopower? I'm not sure how you could get away with just pulling coercion anyway, so that won't be a problem. I just want to be sure I get the basic idea, using individual autonomy for a value, reducing biopower for criterion, thoughts?

Matt said...

Show Me

Bio-Power, in Foucaltian Terms , means the "subjugation of bodies and the control of populations"

While the concept is criticized by Foucault, some biopolitical control is needed to maintain society. With Foucault the question becomes whether or not the Power is repressive. Repressive:

-Power is centrally located, and operates from the top down,

-Power is possessed by a central authority, class, or institution
-Space is naturally free of power-relations. Power is wielded by its owners as a tool intervening into naturally free spaces.

-Accordingly, resistance is a matter of carving out a space of freedom, a sphere whose inside is protected from the intervention of power.

Anonymous said...

what about social darwinism for neg?

Matt said...

Social Darwinism is different from Darwinism. I can see the latter applying but not the former.
However the Darwinism argument is not that great. Its based on natural selection, the argument itself is inherently ethically unsettling but comes with large impacts. I would not recommend using it but if you have your heart set on it look at baudrillard's Biosphere.

Marisa said...

Neg. Value: existentialism
Criterion: natural rights
or for Aff.
V: utilitarianism
C: epicureanism (it's not pleasant to be sick or to die)
although I suppose you could argue it's not pleasant to be coerced into having a needle stuck into you...

Matt said...

Existentialism is not a value. It has nothing to do with values. Explain how this is supposed to work?
Under a strictly existentialist mindset I shouldn't have "natural Rights" or something that I get by just being human. Doesn't the warrant for such rights require essesentualizing people by saying that there is something "human" about them? Also Existence and essence are not the only pillar of existential thought. Despair? The Gaze? Fear?
Existentialism should never be a value. There is nothing intrinsically good about existentialism. Its a philosophy not a value.

Also Utilitarianism is not a Value either. Util is the greatest balance of net utility. its a weighing mechanism for morality. Its another philosophy. It has no intrinsic worth. For example I can achieve utilitarianism just as well by saving 10 people or killing ten people. In both Instances I can use util and thus "achieve" it. However the question becomes is what I did moral or immoral under util?

Also you misconstrue epicureanism. Its not a moral philosophy, its a philosophy of lifestyle. Besides it deals with mental pleasure not physical talking about the need to reject anxiety and fear for the sake of comfort and relaxation. Also it has zero relation to utilitarianism.

hdigga said...

@Foucault et al

Go here http://lddebate.hexagon.cc/ . Get an account. Download the collection of Foucault books (pdfs, mostly). Be enlightened.
Also, its a torrent, so if you want my collection of Fuco stuff, you need to know how to use .torrent files. And if you need and an invite code there are plenty floating around teh internetz. Just ask Mr. Google.
I hope you actually read through his books, because bad biopolitics cases make debate terribly boring and uneducational.

Matt said...


I have a Mac and its downright impossible to download torrents. Is it possible to email me some?


Blake said...

I am thinking of running a negative
with a
V Justice
C - autonomy ( might change)

What philosophers would be good for a explaining my Value and Criterion. Robert Nozick seems to fit the description. Can someone recommend a book or article by Nozick or another philosopher. Thanks

Blake said...

Sorry to me be more specific about my comment earlier. The idea behind my case is that to even have an idea of justice one most have autonomy. Making what each person is due autonomy, or autonomous thought. (Because each person is a rational being that can decided what is just or unjust). My case will then prove what happens when the aff hinders autonomy through compulsory vaccinations.

Stefani said...

V: community welfare
C: utilitarianism

Matt said...


For Nozick:
Anarchy, State and Utopia.
The Nature of rationality

are going to be the best for you to look into for this case.

Matt said...

Also "Anarchy State and Utopia" has the best Blocks against Utilitarianism EVER. Mainly for humorous value although they are good arguments as well.

Aaron said...

Hey, I always enjoy reading and working with your value and criterion pairings, conversing with myself on how I could fit my case.

However,I am surprised you did not mention Altruism as a value.

I am using altruism as a value now.

However, the grand scheme is not coming together as I would have liked. Any idea how to word a specific idea while implying altruism?

Any ideas?

Jim Anderson said...

Aaron, just to clarify, you're looking for altruism-based arguments for the Neg?

daniel.at said...

Can anyone comment on NEGATIVE utilitarianism to approach the current LD topic (Immunization)?

Wouldn't the primary agent (federal government) try to minimize the consequences of disease?

When we're dealing with public health concerns, don't we inherently deal with a HARM, rather than a BENEFIT, so could I argue that minimizing the harms is more consequential than maximizing happiness.

For example, if smallpox threatens to wipe out a population, it will inevitably have a HARMFUL effect so the government must minimize that... happiness can't be achieved either way.... right?

Could I run a

V life / societal welfare
VC: Negative Utilitarianism


And use 2 contentions :

1) Health Care Workers must be immunized
2) Smallpox

~K said...

just wondering, what exactly is "stoic autonomy," and if it could be used as a VC or V

Kyle said...

for neg case.

v: Freedom of rights as according to the constitution.

vc: United states structure

Anonymous said...

I'm a ld novice and i need help with choosing a value and vc pair. For my neg case i want to use individualism for my value. Would that be an ok value? and What would be a good value criterion for that?

Jim Anderson said...

~K, Stoic autonomy, from what I'm able to determine, is a conception of autonomy that is similar to Kant's, except that it's based on making one's choices in accordance with the laws of nature, which are the rational principles from the mid of--and that define--Zeus. I'm sure it could be used as a Negative value, but it would require a lot of sophisticated argumentation. If you're curious to know more, I might write up a post about it.

Kyle, that could work for either side; but why should we adopt U.S. constitutionality for a resolution that isn't U.S.-specific?

Anonymous, Individualism could be a value, although it seems to require some explanation. Why is it good, or what is it good for? Is it framed in terms of rights, or life projects, or autonomy, or freedom, or rational egoism, or something else?

~K said...

okay, great, thanks

The Anarchist said...

What about this on the neg?

V. Future of Humanity

C. Natural Selection

Based upon the idea that all species evolve because of a change to their environment. The ones who adapted to that change have a higher chance of passing on their "better" genetics to their offspring and gradually that "good" trait becomes predominant in the species as a whole. So in this case the change would be the Public Health concern, and those who adapt will be able to pas on their "better" traits to the rest of the species, and by using compulsory immunizations we are hindering our development as a species.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jim,

For a new LDer, your site really helps. I am still a bit fuzzy about how to choose a strong VC pair. Will

V: individual autonomy
C: freedom of choice

be a good pair to use?

I am thinking through free will we can still achieve satisfactory immunization rate to achieve herd immunity. Please comment. Thanks.

Jim Anderson said...

The Anarchist, it's definitely arguable, if coldhearted. "Let nature take its course" is a prickly concept, though. At what point are we interfering with Nature, and at what point are we Nature? Are the two even distinguishable?

Anonymous, thanks, and good question. "Free choice" is an essential part of a free society, and definitely upholds individual autonomy. But are there limits on free choice? If so, what are they?

Anonymous said...

I assume you know I am doing a neg case. I am pro immunization but I know LD is not about my personal opinion. But still, the only thing I feel comfortable defending for the neg is freedom of choice. So if I can more clearly state that the freedom of choice is under thorough consideration with appropriate information and the clear understanding of the consequence, ie, informed decision, can I still use freedom of choice as my criteria without subject to the scrutiny of my opponent? or I need to add something to freedom of choice to make it clear in the criterion, like freedom of choice with deliberation? Does it even make sense? Thanks for your time.

Jim Anderson said...

Anonymous, I think Deliberation is a stronger criterion. "Freedom of choice" is more vague, and also seems presumed in the value of Autonomy, the more I think about it. However, Deliberation is how we respect autonomy: by reasoning, by discussing, by persuading through rational means, dialogue and dialectic instead of compulsion or coercion. Deliberation respects the fundamental dignity of all human beings, since it requires approaching one's conversation partner as a moral equal, and respects the freedom of the individual to say "no."

Other criteria allied with autonomy might be respecting or maximizing individual rights, political libertarianism, or upholding bodily sovereignty. I'm sure there are others as well.

Anonymous said...

wow, you open up a new horizon for me to explore. thanks a million.

beast said...

For aff I have this:
V: Life-the general or universal condition of human existence.
C: Utilitarianism-the greatest good for the greatest number of people.
But I'm not sure if I have it the wrong way around. Which would be broader, Life or Utilitarianism?

Anonymous said...

question: If you run individual autonomy, how would you respond to a brightline argument

ShelbyChappell said...

Jim, can you help to explain the value/criterion pair autonomy and Kant's Categorical Imperative? Possible Contentions? Negative Argument Lines? I'm having trouble constructing an argument around it. I appreciate your insight greatly.


Anonymous said...

Could a value of natural rights work for the neg effectively

Anonymous said...

V: Health
VC: Justice

The word "justify" in the resolution indicates that we are trying to serve justice, and we serve justice by having compulsory immunization to keep people healthy.

What do you think?

Matt said...

V: Health
VC: Justice

The word "justify" in the resolution indicates that we are trying to serve justice, and we serve justice by having compulsory immunization to keep people healthy.

What do you think?"

Flip the V and the VC. Justice should be the value in this instance. Also how is justice linked to health? and How does Compulsory Immunization get there?
some things to think about.

Here is an interesting concept. think, what is the value of the phrase "public health concerns justify..." potentially for the Affirmative.
The first step of the analysis is that Public Health is good and so a concern for PH serves as the catalyst to the action in the resolution. The question I will leave up to you guys to play with is what is then, under that analysis the intended goal of Compulsory Immunization?

Hector said...

I need some help on a criterion for my aff case. My value is societal welfare but I need a good criterion I feel like if I use utilitarianism, it will be expressed as the same thing as societal welfare. So please, I need a criterion!

V- Societal Welfare
C- ?

JCspeech&debater said...

How do these sound?
V-Public health

VC-Respecting Individual Rights

Anonymous said...

Hi. :) I'm in need of help with my aff case. I'm not sure if i'm on the right track...

V: Utilitarianism

VC: Social Contract, according to Rousseau

C1. in keep with universal healthcare plan
C2. herd immunity
C3. past effectivity and current "unofficial" implementation

OregonDebater said...

I'm pretty sure that 'Utilitarianism' isn't a value...

SimplyCiciLD said...

Can someone explain the Foucalt/Biopower idea to me?

Oregon Debater said...

I used biopower in my standard, and it killed all my opponents until finals; and that was a close debate.

So, what Foucault is saying is that biopower is what an individual or a group of people uses to control another group, almost always through medical means. In this case, it's the government using vaccines to control its country's or world's population.