Dec 15, 2010

value and criterion pairs for the juvenile justice resolution

The NFL LD resolution for January / February 2011 offers all kinds of interesting possibilities, since it considers potential distinctions between adults and juveniles in the U.S. criminal justice system.

Below is a list to get you started in your analysis. In the comments, suggest your own, or critique these offerings. Remember two things: that the resolution concerns those charged with violent felonies, and that we're dealing with serious crimes, not minor offenses, which may affect arguments about the ability of juveniles to be rehabilitated.

V: Justice (defined as "to each their due," or a similar concept)
C: Retribution
Trending AFF. If the aim of the criminal justice system is to punish the guilty, then we must determine the proper punishment for guilty parties. Retribution (or its philosophy, retributivism) offers a moral justification for punishment, as well as a limit: proportionality, based on the principle that the punishment must fit the crime. The Aff argument, in a nutshell, is that adult crimes (violent felonies) deserve adult punishments. For one view of retributivism, see here.

V: Societal Welfare or Justice
C: Rehabilitation
Trending NEG. If the purpose of the justice system is to rehabilitate criminals, then perhaps the juvenile justice system offers better prospects for young offenders. This, of course, presumes that the juvenile justice system is founded on the principles of rehabilitation--which, historically, it is.

V: Societal Welfare
C: Utilitarianism
Utilitarianism is quite possibly the closest allied moral framework with democracy. After all, if the goal is the greatest good for the greatest number, what better way, societally, to achieve this than through democratic means? If the ultimate aim of a democratic society is its own well-being, then utilitarianism offers a way to determine whether treating juveniles as adults in the criminal justice system either adds to or detracts from overall happiness. More specifically, the utilitarian theory of criminal justice is based on the beneficial outcomes of punishment: preventing future crimes through deterrence, incapacitation, and rehabilitation. However, in the wider context of utilitarianism, punishment is counterproductive if its costs outweigh the benefits. Any statistical argument about rehabilitative outcomes or deterrence is most likely utilitarian in nature. The weakness of utilitarianism, of course, is that it offers no internal constraints on punishment.

V: Justice
C: Rawls' first principle of justice (or, more generally, the Rawlsian social contract)

V: Justice
C: Equal protection of the laws
Trending AFF. Juveniles charged as juveniles may not have all the rights and protections of adults (most notably, the lack of a jury trial). Is this just?

V: Justice (defined in terms of morality)
C: The Categorical Imperative
Trending AFF. According to Kant, moral actions are good in and of themselves. Furthermore, Kantian theory applies to all rational agents--criminals and law enforcers alike. Those who punish criminals are bound by moral obligation to punish them to the fullest. This argument, of course, hinges on whether juveniles are fully rational agents. Oh, and warning: many people misunderstand Kant and the Categorical Imperative, so make sure you do the research first.

V: Justice
C: Governmental Legitimacy / the Social Contract
Trending AFF. A government that oversteps its bounds with unjust laws--even those that are initiated through democratic processes--has violated the Social Contract, which 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. If juveniles aren't fully punished for committing violent felonies, perhaps the State has not fulfilled its obligation to protect the public and enforce the law. Furthermore, if juveniles' privacy is protected in the juvenile justice system, the public won't/can't know about potential felons in its midst.

V: Individual Rights
C: Reducing state power
Similar to the argument above: we live in an age of ever-expanding state power. The justice system in the United States is a well-oiled machine, grinding individuals to powder. Does treating juveniles like adults give the state more power? Or less?

V: Justice
C: Constitutionalism
Trending NEG. In the United States, the Constitution, as the supreme law of the land, is the ultimate standard of justice. Is treating juveniles like adults Constitutional? At least in one respect, no: juveniles aren't to be given life without parole or a death sentence. But what about otherwise? Is it cruel and unusual punishment to throw a juvenile in adult prison? Or, on the other side, do juveniles deserve a "speedy and public trial," which isn't guaranteed in the juvenile justice system?

V: Virtue
C: Virtue Ethics
Trending NEG. Why not? By the doctrine of parens patriae, the State may intervene when juveniles run afoul of the law, and their parents are nowhere in sight, morally speaking. What if the role of juvenile justice is not to punish, or even rehabilitate, so much as to educate in virtuous conduct?

V: Justice
C: Moral Responsibility / mens rea
Trending NEG. To be punished for a crime, a criminal must be morally responsible for it. Are juveniles charged with violent felonies as morally responsible as adults?

V: The Future
C: Optimism
Trending NEG. Juvenile Justice preserves optimism in two ways: one, it retains hope that juveniles can be reformed, preserving their potential future (with the possibility that past crimes can be "wiped out" when the offender is old enough, with no permanent criminal record dogging the offender for the rest of his or her life. Two, it prevents juveniles merely charged with violent felonies from having their reputation destroyed by a sensationalistic media.

V: Societal Welfare
C: Communitarianism / Education
Trending NEG. "It takes a village to raise a child."  The community has an interest in ensuring that children grow up well and whole.  The juvenile justice system seems predicated on this concept, which requires a decidedly more active approach by the State in educating and enculturating youth. Seen in this way, the juvenile justice system is an extension of the education system (or a parody of it, in a more cynical view, or indistinguishable from it, in the most cynical view).

V: Justice
C: Jury Trials
Trending AFF. The jury is a foundation of criminal justice in a democratic republic.  By denying juveniles jury trials, we not only fail to educate them about the values of the community (since criminals are punished not only by officials of the State, but by the people themselves), but prohibit the community from having its proper role in weighing the facts and determining guilt.  Community standards evolve over time, and there is no more efficient way to adjust to evolving standards than direct community input in the application of justice.


Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but you're on crack.

Jim Anderson said...

I hope that's meant in a good way.

Anonymous said...

This is quite possibly the worst compilation of values and criteria I have ever seen.

Jim Anderson said...

Seriously, friend, if you want to be petty and complain about how this free information isn't good enough, twice is probably enough.

On the other hand, if you want to use your abundant free time and creative energy to suggest alternatives, that'd probably be a better choice for all of us.

Anonymous said...

i find your pairs very helpful thank you very much! and also "anonymous" why dont you come up with some alternatives if you think your all that good instead of criticizing other peoples work.!

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU, I really appreciate your spending time to post these :)

Jacob said...

anonymous 2(from the top) ,either your mentally challenged or plain dumb this coach is 10x the debater you'll ever dream of being

Jim Anderson said...

Okay, okay, you've convinced me. I'll keep blogging. [Fights back the tears.]

Keep checking for additions to the list--and suggest your own!

Anonymous said...

wow this was really helpful thank you! been searching all over the internet for hours and couldnt find a single thing until now! i owe ya big time thanks so much

Anonymous said...

What about V-Morality and VC-Protecting life for the aff? The case would basically argue that detterence in adult courts would work while the Juvenile courts have high recidivism rates. And the main impact would be that voting Aff would reduces crime which save lives, while the neg allows more criminals to be out on the streets where they will commit more violent crimes.

Anonymous said...

optimism is not a necessary or sufficient criterion for the future. A criterion does not need to be sufficient for you value but it should at least be necessary. If you think about it like that maybe you will see why some people find this list of values and standards to be not the greatest. but great job in providing a free resource for debaters.

Jim Anderson said...

First Anonymous, you're welcome. The best way to show your thanks is to keep adding to the discussion with your ideas, suggestions, comments, and questions.

Second Anonymous, be very careful; in my initial investigation into the evidence, it seems that the recidivism rate for the juvenile justice system is lower, making your argument vulnerable to a turn.

Third Anonymous, As I see it (and even as I allude to in the beginning of the post), my work is meant to start people thinking, not to do their thinking for them. This doesn't mean it's above criticism, though, and I'm certainly not offended if someone finds it lacking. But I'm a lot less cantankerous when their criticism is paired with an improvement, or at least warranted. For the former, I thank you for attempting to explain one way in which one out of the V/C pairs could be deficient.

However, before you dismiss optimism as a criterion (which is a little strange as a framework, perhaps, but isn't the whole purpose of this activity to explore ideas and give them a thorough thinking-through?), consider:

Why isn't optimism necessary for the future? Anyone who has or rears a child is at heart an optimist. Anyone who makes a plan is at heart an optimist. Anyone who makes an effort to do anything is at heart an optimist. Optimism is critical--and necessary--for societal (and individual) flourishing, which is the future we (hopefully, in all senses of the word) want.

Note that I'm not talking about pie-in-the-sky idealism; I would consider myself a skeptic and a bit of a pessimist, personally, but even a pessimist is an optimist to the degree that he plans to avoid failure and learn from mistakes. And education, my profession, is inherently optimistic. So is conversation and dialogue like this; otherwise, we're just shouting into the dark.

The alternatives to optimism are resignation, depression, and quietism. In those cases, the future is extinction.

Anonymous said...

How would an argument coming from the Foucaultian line of though come? Seems as though you could run it on Aff, saying that the focus on rehab, psychiatry, and delinquency in the juvenile system is wrong, or on the neg, saying that the adult system perpetuates the delinquency which the juvenile system is trying to prevent. Not sure what V/C pairs would be for this.

Jim Anderson said...

That's a tricky question, because there seems to be a problem of uniqueness. It's difficult to say which is more repressive as a power relation: the state as parent and clinician (the juvenile system), or the state as judge, jury and executioner (the adult system).

Whatever argument you make based on Foucault, I'd imagine that your primary value would be liberty. As Foucault has said, "The only ethics you can have, with regard to the exercise of power, is the freedom of others. "

For the person unfamiliar with Foucault's philosophy, this interview is a good starting-point. (But don't stop there!)

The prime difficulty of Foucault is that he resists a final analysis, so a Foucault-based case is always open to a Foucault-ish critique--which itself is open to criticism...

Anonymous said...

I could be 100% pessimistic and that literally doest not mean time goes on. Actually the bigger problem I have with the standards you provide is that they there is no way to actually impact back to most of them. As in optimism is a frame of mind...there is no way we can impact back to a frame of mind as that is very subjective in that i can be in the best case scenario possible and still be a pessimist. in other words there is really no way of gauging which sides achieves more optimism...optimism provides for a better future but i don't think it is necessary for a future

Not Jim Anderson said...

Having a juvenile treated as a juvenile denies a juvenile the right to a public trial and the right to a trial by jury. These are the 6th and 7th amendments right? so an Affirmative with a vc of Justice can pound that in and say that it is denying rights in the constitution the justice god of the land. What can a neg person say to this?

Jim Anderson said...

Some good points.

To be clear, when we value the future, we're not just valuing time, which, as you point out, quite literally doesn't need us, but time with us (or at least our successors) thriving in it. There are serious philosophical questions about what / whether we owe future generations, or even our future selves; the literature is well worth investigating for a different approach to some otherwise stale LD debates.

As to the broader meta-debate about the criterion, not every criterion will have a bright line, which is potentially a weakness; however, that doesn't mean we should rule out the use of less consequentialistic approaches like constitutionalism or retributive justice. It just means being clearer about drawing out the connections between the contentions and the framework.

Jim Anderson said...

Not Jim, one response would be to argue that juveniles don't deserve all Constitutional rights. For instance, juveniles don't have the right to vote; although there are efforts to extend the franchise to younger folks, it's stayed at 18 for a long, long time.

bariemissile said...

So, would it be possible to go with a value of morality and a value criterion of Kant's categorical imperative?
Or is this circular?
Any help is appreciated.

Jim Anderson said...

bariemissile, I don't think it's circular. The Categorical Imperative is Kant's way of defining morality, standing in opposition to consequentialism, virtue ethics, intuitionism, pluralism, or any other moral criterion.

You could also use the CI with a value of Justice, but since justice for a Kantian is defined in moral terms (as rightness), it would essentially be the same.

G.O. said...

The categorical imperative is messy, and I don't quite understand how it obliges us to "punish criminals to the fullest." I would think that, in a world of universal laws and ends, Kant would require a strong principle of proportionality and perhaps even rehabilitation. After all, deterance seems to inflict punishment as a means to protect society from further crime, making the criminal's pain a means to an end; and punishment for its own sake just seems petty. Of course, if I'm dead wrong it wouldn't be the first time I've misunderstood CI.

How exactly can Kantian ethics be used to approach the resolution?

Thanks, as always.

Jim Anderson said...

Punishing them "to the fullest" means balancing the scales of justice--the opposite, as it stands, of punishment "for its own sake," which is why Kant was in favor of capital punishment. (The linked essay is a decent introduction to his retributive justification of punishment, based on the Categorical Imperative.)

It is because Kant stands against using people as a mere means to an end that he opposes any other justification of punishment (deterrence, rehabilitation, etc). A utilitarian promoting deterrence may sometimes have to justify punishing an innocent; a utilitarian promoting rehabilitation may sometimes have to justify unjustly violating the person's dignity and free will "for their own good."

Anonymous said...

just one thing to say on the pair of v/c of societal welfare
you offer it a concrete concept? when in reality ther is no defiition of the nebulous value. your idea of whats best for society may be different from mine. thus societal welfare can be transformed to represent any action or standard whatsoever, so no real evaluation ca be made...this is just a thought for those thinking of using that v/c. Jim i am not trying to offend just stating what i think. Am i wrong?

Anonymous said...

Hi, I was wondering what you think about running a fed k on this topic. I was going to say it must be the fed gov acting because ought is categorical, and all states have different judicial systems and couldn't implement the policy at once, and maybe it could violate some state constitutions. Do you think that would work? I know I can get impact cards, but writing the link has been kind of confusing. Thanks!

Jim Anderson said...

Not wrong, anonymous. That's a valid criticism of societal welfare, at least if the advocate fails to properly define and warrant the phrase.

There are ways, however, to make it extremely concrete--tie it to economic, health, and other measures--even something like the "Index of Economic Freedom."

Your criticism also points out the fundamental problem of consequentialism / utilitarianism. Those moral theories say we ought to maximize the Good--but they are incapable of clearly, unequivocally, and universally defining what the Good is.

Jim Anderson said...

Second Anonymous, you could use your categorical approach, or you could set up a "fork."

Save the Fed kritik for any Aff that runs a federal definition of the term or advocates for a federally-based approach, and have an alternate approach, pointing out the fundamental inconsistencies and injustices in a state-by-state approach--for any Aff that doesn't.

If the Aff doesn't specify which approach they're offering, that too is problematic--and if you want to force them into a position, that's what C/X could be for.

Anonymous said...

Hey this is really helpful! I just finished my first LD Debate tournament! 1-3! Not so bad considering I didn't even have a legitimate practice round (Unless you consider debating a pretty much mentally challenged person with 20 second rebutals a practice round)! So I really like the ideas here but I don't want to always rely on you to come up with things for me. So do you have any tips for thinking of value and criterion pairs? Or do I just need to read more? I am currently reading the book Justice. I don't know if you've read it yeah it sounds really stupid that I want TIPS for THINKING! Buuuuuuut I do.

Jim Anderson said...

Values are good things that people, or societies, hold dear: freedom, justice, happiness, and many, many more. They're goals, or ends, of societal or individual means.

If you ask yourself, "What's the goal of treating juveniles as adults?" the answer will likely be a value.

The criterion defines, or sets out the parameters of, or shows how societies or individuals achieve, the value.

So if we say that treating juveniles as adults keeps society safer, our value might be safety or security. If we argue that this happens when punishment prevents further crime, then our criterion is the typical utilitarian justification for punishment--deterrence and incapacitation.

So, by thinking through the reasons for and against the resolution, values will become evident, and criteria will arise on further reflection.

Lastly, if by Justice, you mean Justice, What's the Right Thing To Do? you've made a good choice.

Anonymous said...

Thanks! That actually helped a lot! Yes I do mean Justice, What's the Right Thing To Do? It is really interesting so far...

Anonymous said...

Are these V/VC pairs for the affirmative or negative arguments? And if they are for both which ones are which?

Anonymous said...

You keep on saying that the resolution concerns those charged with violent. I know you explained the importance elsewhere but I am still confused at why that is so vital. Another thing how do we draw the line of "juveniles" how old should they be to actually have moral judgment. Every state seems to have a different interpretation so does this tie into the Fed K that someone was saying earlier?

Jim Anderson said...

Second Anonymous, for this resolution at least, it seems that most of the VC pairs could work with either side of the resolution. It depends on the evidence you find and the kinds of contentions you make underneath. I'd say that overall, a rehabilitative approach trends Neg, and a retributive approach tends Aff, but other than that, it's wide open.

Third Anonymous, the violent nature of the felony has several impacts. First, it means a greater harm to the victim, which increases the need for or likelihood of a sustained, serious punishment (in a retributive framework). It may also mean that the juvenile is "hardened" to a certain degree already, showing little value for the liberty or life of the victim, which may mitigate rehabilitative effects. There's also an element of the public's right to know for the sake of its safety; in the juvenile system, offenders' identities and records are kept private.

As to your second question, you'd have to look at state law and/or common law, rather than federal law, for the distinction between a child (who simply won't be charged with a crime) and a juvenile. That does open up one side to attacks based on arbitrariness, so it might be useful to look to child psychology (Piagetian stages of learning, or Kohlberg's stages of moral development) to make an empirical distinction, when necessary.

As I've argued elsewhere, there are also political implications; a prosecutor isn't going to charge a five-year-old with a felony in the adult system, since it'd be an unwinnable case. No jury would convict.

Anonymous said...

Would you be able to label all your Values/Criterions as for AFF or NEG cuz I sent a lot of my team to this site (which is amazing by the way!) but they are getting confused.

Jim Anderson said...

I'll do my best. Most of them work for both sides, though, so don't read too much into any designation. In fact, I'd have novices go at it the other way--brainstorming reasons for and against the resolution, and then using a list like this to group them into workable V/C clusters.

I have a separated shoulder, so don't expect instant results. (Cautionary photos coming soon!)

TOC DebatR said...

"Utilitarianism" is not a standard! By definition, it is simply the maximization of good/happiness, but what good are we maximizing? You need to have an external standard to maximize and then util can serve in the decision calculi as the weighing standard.

Jim Anderson said...

In some views of LD, that's how a criterion can/should function--as the means for weighing the round, as the core of the decision calculus, rather than as a means of defining or fulfilling the value. The lack of a universal function for the criterion is part of what makes LD so complex--and delightful.

TOC DebatR said...

Yeah, but if Consequentialism/Net Benefits/Util is your standard, it doesn't help define the round.

So, if you say my standard is to maximize good, that doesn't make sense unless you define "good" (the standard). Because the term "good" is so subjective, it is impossible to achieve good without specifying it. (Indeed some recent Malthus impact turns argue that death is good because it keeps populations in check).

Jim Anderson said...

That's why it's paired with a value, usually some economic or other quantifiable measure of (or proxy for) societal welfare. The criterion doesn't function alone.

I'd be curious to see how you set up your case, TOC, since it seems that your style is a little different from what I've learned. Or maybe you use slightly different terminology.

TOC DebatR said...

Oh, I see what you are saying. Yeah, the problems I mentioned would occur with V Morality, S Utilitarianism. Because that is too vague.

But with a well-defined value, like societal welfare, util can be a pretty good standard.

AFanOfThisBlog said...

you have labelled the VC pair of moral responsibility and justice as trending negative. The general consensus among the population (and consequently among the judges)is that juveniles have less moral culpability, but I've found a lot of research suggesting teenagers are at the peak of intelligence and moral judgement.

Would you advise me to use all this evidence and go affirmative with this VC even though I would be going against conventional wisdom?

Jim Anderson said...

It sounds doable--and a nice way to preempt the Neg. A couple questions, though: What is the precise age range in that research? Is it all teens, or just older teens? And how will you exclude younger defendants from the debate?

AFanOfThisBlog said...

it specifically talks about ages 12-17. It says that cognitive ability peaks at 15 and moral reasoning also is sufficient around age 12. There are 6 stages of moral reasoning and apparently most children reach the 4th stage early. He also points out about half of the adults dont advance past this 4th stage. And only a very few advance to the 6th stage of moral reasoning.

I will exclude younger kids from the debate by:

1) arguing that the resolution wants us to debate on a general principle. If more than 90% of the juveniles being tried in juvenile court are more than 12, then it would be nonsensical to negate the resolution just because of the random 6 year old that gets tried.

2) Adult courts will have a jury which will most likely not convict a 6 year old with armed robbery or murder

3) Adult courts will have to prove mens rea for 6 year olds which is dam near impossible. They can, however, prove mens rea more easily with the aforementioned evidence for teenagers.

I liked the equality under the law VC more but I can't find good topic literature for why that is inherently necessary for justice. I know it to be true personally but I can't find an intellectual with a degree backing me up on that. It seems like it is just assumed so no one writes good persuasive articles about it.

Jim Anderson said...

I'd agree that equality under the law is a strongly intuitive view of justice; I would be interested to see an argument that it is not essential in any society with a legal system--if not in practice, at least as an ideal. Discrimination and favorable treatment for a few tends to foment unrest, and if widespread enough, can threaten the legitimacy of government and the rule of law. It can even lead to vigilantism or civil strife.

So you can warrant it without a PhD for backing; nevertheless, a place to go might be Gerard Bradley's "equal legal liberty for all," defended here.

Allison said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Morgann said...

Thanks sooo much! I've been having the hardest time coming up with value/criterion ideas for the Aff for this resolution.

Anonymous said...

While researching, I found that if juveniles are treated in the juvenile justice system rather than the criminal justice system, once juveniles reach the age of adults, the juvenile system no longer has jurisdiction over them, and they cannot be moved to the criminal justice system because they were originally charged as juveniles, not criminals. This means that once they become adults in the juvenile system, they are basically free to go. So if a 17 year old is convicted of murder and treated in the juvenile justice system, after a year, they are basically free to go, which of course, is bad. With this as my main argument, I think I want my value for aff to be safety, but I am not sure about the criterion. Possibly mills harm principle? Or Rawls veil of ignorance?

For neg I was considering societal welfare, progress, or human dignity for my value. And Rawls difference principle (but this can be argued for both sides), or pragmatism for my criterion. Which do you like best?

Also, do you know anything about the argument for neg about youthful offenders, that, rather than juveniles being tried as adults in the criminal justice system, they can be tried as youthful offenders instead?

Jim Anderson said...

That may be true of lesser charges such as assault or arson, but it's almost certain that a 17-year-old charged with murder would be charged as an adult, not only because of the greater punishment, but because the charge itself requires proof of "malice aforethought" and full criminal responsibility for the deed.

So, your argument may be applicable for violent felonies excepting homicide. (And it should be stressed that letting potentially unrepentant arsonists, thugs, rapists, and other violent felons out earlier is still quite terrible.) With a value of safety, you might employ a criterion of Locke's social contract--that a government has a responsibility, through its armed forces, police, and justice system, to keep its citizens reasonably safe. Also, that if the government fails in this regard, citizens are obligated to take up their own defense, which leads to vigilantism, which isn't ideal either.

For your Neg arg, I could see how the difference principle might be difficult to argue uniquely for the Neg. Pragmatism is a little vague; effectiveness has many measures, but it would line up well with a heavily statistics-based case about rehabilitation and recidivism rates.

As to your last question, could you clarify? I'm not sure what you're asking.

Lastly, I deleted your identical comment on another post, figuring that answering it here was sufficient (and appropriate, since it concerns V/C pairs).

OhioDebater said...


I've been tearing the internet apart trying to look for the information about the 6 stages of moral development that you were talking about, and I can't find the source that says 50% of adults never advance past stage 4.

Would you be so kind as to share? My email is I could trade some of the research I've done, if that'd make you more inclined to do so.

Thanks for your time and consideration.

Tiffany said...

If I wanted to use 'safety' as a value, what would be a reasonable criterion? Also, how much would using this value benefit the neg?

Altke said...

So what's with the abundance of value structures that encompass punishment? Affirmative Justice/Gov Legit/Soc Contract looks good, but you say that "If juveniles aren't fully punished for committing violent felonies, perhaps the State has not fulfilled its obligation to protect the public and enforce the law."

Is there an effective way of running this without dealing with punishment?

Jim Anderson said...

Tiffany, as I suggest above, I think "safety" connects strongly to the Lockean social contract; it's one of the fundamental responsibilities of the State. Of course, the LSC helps define some of the parameters in general terms; more specifically, the parameters of the U.S.'s obligations are outlined in the Constitution and its sundry amendments, making Constitutionalism a valid criterion.

Altke, the Aff doesn't have to talk about punishment; as I argue elsewhere, the resolution may not deal with punishment, since we're talking about alleged felons, not convicted felons. Thus, an approach based on the rights of criminals pre-conviction might be your exclusive focus. Due process rights, the public's right to know, the right to a jury trial, etc.

Or am I misunderstanding your question?

Altke said...

The last sentence pretty much answered it. I was wondering what arguments could fall under a Gov. Legit/Soc. Contract criterion without dealing with punishment to the fullest extent of the law, et cetera.


Altke said...

And overall, I brought it up because that pair in particular, along with the retribution pair, dealt exclusively with punishment, so none of the analysis in the original post was helping me. Basically, I wondered why there was no extrapolation, at least in the VC pairs, on probably the biggest theory debate in this resolution.

Anonymous said...

Do you think I could have a contention about Jury Trials in my Aff case going along with the Social Contract? Saying something like 'the gov. isn't protecting the rights of all by not giving juveniles fair trials?'

Jim Anderson said...

You certainly could. It makes me wonder, though, about something I hadn't considered before, and I haven't fully thought through the implications: juveniles don't have other rights, especially the right to vote, which means that they're responsible to uphold laws that they have no role in shaping. They're bound by a contract that they haven't signed, so to speak.

Anonymous said...




Anonymous said...

Hi.. so your V/VC pairs got me thinking.. I have my aff case all done thanks to these ideas(: and I was working on my neg. I was thinking somewhere along the lines of V: Morality, as Aristole placed it that it shifts from justice to morality. And I was hung up on my VC... I am thinking that I am going to do Pity. Now I know this seems like a weak case but hear me out. My philosophy would be Rousseau and how he believs that pity and revulsion to suffering are primary. So I would go along my case by saying that: Morality is achieved when pity is granted to the juveniles because of Rouss. and his philosophy or pity and revulsion to suffering. In my case I would also prove how it was immoral to charge a juvenile as an adult because they don't have as many responsiblities such as marriage or owning a house or car. Tell me what you think or if you have any better ideas...I appreciate everything(:

Anonymous said...

what about some sort of aristotelian equality somewhere on the neg?... equals treated as equals, "unequals" as "unequals". juvenile offenders ought be treated as juvenile offenders.... i realize the aff could turn around and say that it's not a "juveniles as juveniles" issue, but a "violent felons as violent felons" therefore gaining the equality, BUT would it work to say that before a juvenile-felon is a felon, they are a juvenile, hence the reason we're debating based upon the juvenile status? i know this is rambley, sorry! (i kind of though this would for the anonymous above me that already wants to run arist on the neg).and specifically to the anonymous above me: 1) your analyses doesn't tell me anything about what you're trying to say (not catty, just confused) and 2) as to your other point, i am 17 and bought my own car... if you're arguing the neg based on the idea that it's immoral because of the different responsibilty levels (house owning, etc) the same can be applied to a 40 years old homeless man - no responsibilities there.and i really would like to hear more about your reason behind the pity thing, it seems interesting:)

Jim Anderson said...

First Anonymous, that would definitely be a different route to negating. One problem, as I see it, is that we also have to consider the suffering of the victim. Why wouldn't we pity the victim of a violent felony more than the (alleged) perpetrator? And if pity is our guide to morality, how are we ever justified in punishing wrongdoing?

Second Anonymous, I think the Aristotelian notion of treating equals as equals, etc., is robust enough to work with, if you pair it with empirical findings about the moral reasoning / cognitive abilities of children compared with adults. The fact that we have all sorts of legal distinctions between juveniles and adults gives all kinds of presumption to the idea that age is a salient, morally significant characteristic.

Ketchupeyes said...

What about a value of justice (each their due) and a criterion of due process for aff?

LDer said...

What would you recommend would be effective with a core value of justice, as a criterion, given the following:
what i want to do is emphasize on the development of these minors and the rehabilitation along with the social disparity, and at the same time focus on recidivism rates and such.

Thanks (:

DP said...

In regards for the negative, would a value of morality and criterion of maximizing respect for human worth work?

Also, if you don't mind my asking, would it be alright if I emailed you a case of mine thus far? I ordinarily wouldn't ask but the two LD 'coaches' (senior and graduate) for my school are unavailable and I'm a novice.

Thank you for your time.

Jim Anderson said...

Ketchupeyes, could work on its own, or your ideas could be incorporated into Justice/Equal Protection of the Law, listed above.

LDer, it seems that you're more interested in Societal Welfare as an outcome, with a criterion of Utilitarianism, since most of the initial claims you're focused on have to do with the beneficial outcomes of the Juvenile Justice system. If you look at the ill effects of too-harsh punishment, and how it leads to societal damage, your outline is complete.

DP, you certainly could, although it would have to be very clearly defined.

Also, to everyone, feel free to email me your case outlines / ideas, but be aware that I prioritize public questions before emails, and work before blogging. If I get flooded with emails, they'll be the first thing to go.

jay27 said...

I really want to use justice for my Affirmative value and equal protection under the law for my criterion, emphasizing both the lack of protection under the law for the accused juvenile (no trial by jury, no due process, no public trial, etc.) and the lack of protection under the law for the public ( convicted juveniles' names are not released to the public). However, I'm not quite sure how to counter the argument that multiple rights enumerated in the Constitution do not apply to juveniles (a 12 year old cannot vote, bear arms, etc). Do you have any ideas for rebutting this effectively? Thanks for your help, and I hope that your shoulder heals quickly!

Also, AFanOfThisBlog would you mind sharing where you found evidence that juveniles are morally and cognitively developed? I would REALLY appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

What exactly is the Rawlsian idea of social contract? How does it differ from Locke's social contract?

AFanOfThisBlog said...

Im definitely willing to share my evidence of moral reasoning ability. Just post your email and the state you debate in. This is to ensure that I won't be coming up against my own evidence :)

I've already shared with OhioDebater

Anonymous said...

I really want to use veil of ignorance for my aff criterion: least bennefited being the juveniles, and bennefiting everyone by not only keeping those who are most dangerous to society away from it but also placing them in capable hands as far as detterance goes. but I'm not sure what to use as a value, I was thinking something like justice- giving each his due, but Im not sure.

P said...

Thank you so much AFanOfThisBlog.
My email is and I debate in CO.

Anonymous said...

AFanofThisBlog, could you send me your sources for juveniles being morally developed? My e-mail is and I am from Ohio.

Jim Anderson said...

Why not just argue that any juvenile capable of being charged as an adult deserves the right to vote, bear arms, etc? That would be consistent, if possibly difficult to defend.

However, it's not necessary. We have all kinds of age-based provisions in our society that do not apply to people of all ages (quick: what's the minimum age to be President of the United States?), each with its own unique justification. In the case of criminal justice, we're talking about potentially ruining--or, in the case of capital punishment, taking--someone's life. That seems to be a more salient, morally important situation than whether one can vote in an election.

First Anonymous, Rawls' social contract is based on the hypothetical idea of the "veil of ignorance" in the original position--that, given the chance, if a group of strangers were to sit down in a room, and asked to hash out the rules of society without knowing where they'd end up (being "behind the veil"), that they would try to come up with the fairest possible society. Rawls argues that this leads to a liberal democracy; he reaches a similar end to Locke, ut from a different starting point, and with a greater emphasis on egalitarianism and social safety nets, whereas Locke is more focused on individual rights.

Second Anonymous, going along with that, the goal of the Rawlsian social contract is definitely justice, the "first virtue of social institutions," in his famous phrasing. Rawls' quote is almost always a good way to warrant justice as a value.

Anonymous said...

All of your info on this topic has been very helpful. thank you!

value is justice
vc is government legitimacy

value is Deontology
vc is optimism (or something like that)

maybe that will help someone. thanks once again. I wigh you were my debate coach lol

Anonymous said...

@AFanOfThisBlog Would you mind sending me that really good evidence you found on culpability. I debate in OH.

Conrad said...

After previewing your pairs of value and criterion, I came up with my two of my own cases on the negative side. I was thinking about doing:

V: Moral Obligation
VC: Protection of Human Worth

And then go into the arguments of how juvenile brains aren't fully developed, youths are easily influence, punishment only makes things worse, and I was thinking of also going into the mens rea area after seeing your V/VC pairs. I was wondering if these arguments are linked enough with each other so that my case makes sense, or if I should maybe switch by value to justice and either keep my VC or switch it to Moral Responsibility.

Any help is appreciated. I love your blog and have been using it frequently over the past year.

Anonymous said...

with respect to the value/value criterion pair of societal welfare or justice and rehab as the c, where can I find evidence to support that the criminal justice system's founding was based on rehab?

Conrad said...

AFanofThisBlog, could you send me your AFF sources? I debate in Virginia. My email is

Anonymous said...

AFANOFTHISBLOG I see you have been asked several times to email your sources to several people. I would like to ask the same. I have tried finging sources and I have but none as specific as yours. So I ask as a fellow debater from TX. Would you send me your sources please and Thank you for your generosity. I do have lot of information if that were to intrest you. My email is

Thank you very very much. Am the only LD debater in my school so i rely on these blogs. Thanks to you too jim!

Alex said...


Would you mind sending it to me as well? My e-mail is and I'm a debater in New Jersey.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Im brand new to LD and im a little confused about the difference between societal welfare and societal benefit. could u help me out?
thank u soo much for putting these posts up! they have helped me so much!! I would be so lost without them

PA Debater said...

Hey AFanOfThisBlog, could I possibly have that evidence as well?

My email is and I debate in PA.

Thanks! :)

AFanOfThisBlog said...

V justice as fairness
VC Rawlsian social contract
-social institutions in society must be fair and determined behind the veil of ignorance. behind the veil, if people were told that when they are a juvenile, they are more impulsive, more influenced by peer pressure, more likely to be raped/abused in prison and less able to use due process rights, then they would choose to have a separate lenient court system for juveniles.

would this work or am i misrepresenting rawls' social contract?

Ive sent my evidence to you guys. This type of evidence sharing is beneficial for all of us involved.

Jim Anderson said...

Conrad, it is a little unclear as to how you'd tie moral responsibility to "protection of human worth." It seems to me that moral broadly defined and linked to justice, makes more sense. The "punishment makes things worse" claim can be linked to moral responsibility in the broader sense--that we don't help juveniles gain responsibility for their actions by punishing them too harshly. They won't rehabilitate and see the value of acting responsibly and justly, instead becoming career criminals.

Anonymous, from Leora Krygier's Juvenile Court, 2009, p. 6:

"Historically, the purpose of juvenile court has een to rehabilitate rather than punish minors for illegal conduct. The system is rooted in the belief that young people are still in the process of maturing and cannot always fully appreciate the consequences of their actions. It's also based on the notion that young people can learn and change, and, given the proper level of accountability and programs, children and teens are still amenable to learning new behaviors. For this reason, too, a special language is used with regard to minors to differentiate their hearings from adult proceedings. A trial, for example, is often called an adjudication or contested hearing. Minors are not convicted of crimes but are instead adjudicated wards of the state. Instead of sentencing hearings, dispositional hearings are conducted."

Next Anonymous, I'm not exactly sure there is a significant difference between societal welfare and societal benefit. Could you explain the difference as you see / have heard it?

AFan, that's about how it works--that people who wouldn't know their place in society would choose fairer social institutions. You can definitely make the argument; the weakness, of course, is that it's hypothetical.

I'm not sure if Rawls ever weighed in on whether juveniles, vis a vis the original position, should be a part of the discussion!

Conrad said...

So, for Neg, doing my value as justice and my criterion as moral responsibility would tie in better with those arguments? And for affirmative, Justice with Retribution (explaining that teenagers are morally culpable and that the consequences and deterrence work better) makes sense?

I'm still a bit of a novice in debate so I don't want to get embarrassed. This is my third debate topic and it's the only one I've felt uncomfortable with. Thanks for the help though!

Anonymous said...

I am running my neg case with one of my contentions being that juveniles are not given the same rights as adults (right to vote, curfews,etc) therefore they shouldn't be charged as adults in the justice system. My problem is that I am stumped as to what my value and criteria should be. I looked at your list and tried Justice as my value and constitutionalism as my criteria but I dont think they fit any suggestions?

Anonymous said...

I am refeering to my post earlier about my neg case that is about how juvenile are not given the same rights as adults therefore they must be treated as juveniles. do you think equality would work?

Jim Anderson said...

Conrad, I just saw the typo in my response up above: it should say "moral responsibility broadly defined." As in both senses of the term: that we are morally responsible to do certain things (morally obligated), and that we must have a measure of moral understanding to be held responsible. And for Aff, retribution could be effective, especially in contrast to the rehabilitative aim of juvenile justice (as described above).

Anonymous, well, with an Aristotelian notion of justice (treating equals as equals, and treating unequal things unequally), and a criterion of something like moral responsibility (similar to Conrad's V/C) you're set to argue that legally *and* morally, juveniles and adults are significantly different.

Jim Anderson said...

anonymous, or "equality" or "equal treatment under the law" or "equal protection of the law" or something like that.

Anonymous said...

thanks so much that helped alot!

Anonymous said...

also do you think by making my main argument in my negative case that legally and morally, juveniles and adults are significantly different will work or do you think it will be easily shut down? I am a novice debater and I have only been to one tournament so your site has REALLY helped. thanks

Anonymous said...

Thanks! This has been such a great help at formulating ideas, especially being a novice and all!
I'm a novice debater in Southwest MO and if you could send me a link to the evidence that would be great.

Anonymous said...

I really like you eveidence and would really appreciate it if you could send it to me as well. I have been looking all over the internet for that info and cannot find it. My email is Again this would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Your cards sound absolutely golden and I would really appreciate the sources in an email.

P.S., If you wouldn't mind e-mailing it ASAP that'd be great- I have Pacific on Friday.

Altke said...

AFan, I'll take that evidence. I debate in Louisiana.

E-mail is

(Just replace SPLAT with @; I do this a lot to deter spambots that harvest e-mails from text.)

Anonymous said...

hey.. im a debate student in high school and i just wanted to thank you for posting these... whenver we get a new resolution, i always go on your blog first to see if you have stuff posted already (which you normally do) and i kinda use it as a guide to write my cases... im not a subscriber but i use this blog a lot so i just wanted to say thank you and keep posting! (seriously, you are the only reason i still have a A in my debate class)

Jim Anderson said...

Thanks, anonymous. I'll keep blogging as long as it's fun. And it shows no sign of getting un-fun any time soon.

Mr. Architect said...

Hey Jim. First of all thanks once again for this blog, it helps me get my thoughts in order when a new topic comes out. Now then, how can the Neg possibly combat the "Setting an Age Brightline Is Arbitrary" argument? I've tried from all angles but even neuroscience(which is fascinating) can't account for the fact that some juveniles may take advantage of the system. I kinda feel like my Neg case is the Death Star, strong in all other places but with a trench that leads to the one chink in the armor.

Jim Anderson said...

A response along the lines of the "continuum fallacy" is probably in order. Just because there's no absolutely clear bright line doesn't mean, via group consensus (after all, democracy and such) that we can't establish one that works well enough to make the resolution generally false (which is the burden of the Neg--to establish its falsity "as a general principle.")

On a bell curve, there will always be outliers, so we use averages or medians to make policy. It's not perfect, but "don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good," or somesuch.

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking of a kritik but I need help (haven't ever written a k before and I'm gonna be debating it varsity for the first time)

so I was thinking of saying that the government is controlled by corporations because of two Supreme Court Cases Warren v. US and Gore v. Bush.

I don't know if that affirms or negates, and how to word it for which side. I understand that I can say the resolution doesn't matter since nothing can be fixed until this problem is fixed, but I don't know where to go from there. What do I do?

Anonymous said...

wow this is vrey helapfl thx.

im also gongi pro (though for 2nd time) and id jus like to thank u for this websight.

also what do u think of the ought = expectation case I wrote. I used the old omega pt. case 4 ideas, but it seems WAY abusiev.

how did ben holguin defend suchh a chepa case like that??//

i need helap w/ theory what dou thunk of it?

Anonymous said...

For my neg I'm trying to think of a way to tie in the rehabilitative nature of the juvenile justice system with the high recidivism rates of juveniles tried as adults. I was thinking at first of using S. Welfare/ util. but now I'm not sure if that's the best option. I kinda want to focus my case on fairness to juveniles, but I don't know what V/C to use with that. I was thinking Justice for a value, but idk about a criterion. Maybe something that has to do with fairness....?

Anonymous said...

AFanofThisBlog, Hi, I'm a debater in TX and your evidence on moral reasoning would really beneficial to me. My email is:
Would you mind sending it to me as well? Thanks very much.

Jim Anderson said...

Anonymous, S/W + Util can be run effectively if you focus not just on rehab / lowered recidivism, but the other costs of punishing juveniles as adults. Adult punishment via the prison system is expensive, not just in dollars, but in lost economic opportunity and broken families.

For the fairness approach, you might have Justice as a value and Rawls' principles made into a criterion.

Anonymous said...

I used this topic last week and went undefeated with this. This blog helped alot so I thought I'd help out considering I'm done with the topic.

For AFF I ran the Value of Morality, (It's what we ought do), and Criterion of Protection of Individual Rights.

The idea was to tie in 3 of the V/C's from here.

The first point was Due Process Rights, with emphasis on the right to trial by jury.

The second point was the rights of the community, with emhasis on the juvenile justice system neither deters or rehabilitates violent juveniles, and puts the community at risk, I also took this time to prove that punishment is just.

The third point was it protects the rights of non-vionlent juveniles, with emphasis that the violent juveniles use the scarce resources that could be going to non-violent juveniles, and I refer to the point that such treatment doesn't work.

The idea is that we should vote on what the government ought to do, and since the government's sole purpose is to protect individual rights, the only way to act morally is to protect individual rights.

My Neg was the value of Justice, and the Criterion of Moral Responsibility, the idea is that the government must ensure justice, and the only way to do so is through correct appropriation of moral responsibility (in itself and to it's constituents)

My first point is that juveniles arn't as morally responsible as adults, thus doesn't warrant same punishment, I put an emphasis on brain development and hormonal changes.

My second point is that treating juveniles as adults is cruel and unuasual punishment, with emphasis how it would be moraly responsible to do so.

My third point is that we must ensure justice for the future, and we do so by treating kids as kids, and that the juvenile justice system attempts to rehabilitate through virtous education,

I might post these cases if the site allows.


Jim Anderson said...

Anonymous, thanks for sharing. You're welcome to email your cases (with as little extra formatting as possible--save them as a "rich text file," or .RTF) and post them as a guest-blogger.

LDer said...

To the value of Morality, I am sorry but I find it the worst value ever. Why so? Because every value you choose in Lincoln Douglass debate is trying to achieve Morality. This whole type of debate is trying to decide who achieves morality better, so by choosing morality you are not really getting anywhere. Also when you define it as "what we ought to do, or should do, or what is best" you are still getting nowhere because every value is what the AFF or NEG is saying they SHOULD do because it is morally better.

I do like the compilation above though, I found this blog while researching for this topic, so I did not choose any of the above, but I am glad I have somewhere to go when in need of help/advice on topic issues.

Anonymous said...

I am very new to Lincoln Douglas debate. This would in fact my first time competing. What do you think about societal welfare as a value, and upholding justice/moral standard as a value criterion. Is there any way one can effectively connect the two?

Jim Anderson said...

As LDer writes above, morality is a slippery concept. It's better to go with a more specific form of morality (utilitarianism, Kantian deontology, etc;here's a decent introduction for beginners).

Does morality / justice connect to societal welfare? Directly, if your moral criterion is utilitarianism. And indirectly if your criterion is something else--an oppressive, radically unfair, unjust society isn't any place you want to live, is it? Explain why, and you've made the link.

Anonymous said...

I wish to use the value societal welfare, and I am trying to say that juvenile system is better suited for rehabilitation. This protects the physical welfare of its society because in trying to change a criminal's behavior, recidivism rates can be reduced, and the criminal has a better chance of becoming a productive and healthy member of the society, both from which the society can benefit. Two, it sees to the efficient trial incarceration of its criminals, which appeals to the physical welfare of the society. And three, it is far more economically favorable, protecting the economic welfare of the society. What could a possible value criterion for this be?

Jim Anderson said...

Anonymous, those are all coherent / consistent claims that would fit with a utilitarian, consequentialist, cost/benefit, or other teleologically-minded criterion.

Mr. Architect said...

Hey Jim, hope your shoulder is feeling better. Quick question, if the Neg is saying that treating juveniles as adults is "treating two inherently unequal things as equal" and that's wrong, then under a hybrid approach that tries them as adults and takes age into account for punishment, shouldn't that be null and void? My opponent said that the atmosphere of the adult court system is too harsh for juveniles, and maybe that's true for the current system, but the hybrid is less likely to have that flaw right?

PreviousAnonW/Case said...

Alright, well since it is aloud I will send my case in those in need. If you could thank me by sending me your Drug Abuse cases (if they are good) or good evidence on it, just include them in the request email.

Anonymous said...

I think for Neg I'm going to use Morality as a value, what could my VC be?

my contentions will pretty much center around staff abuse in criminal justice system and how juveniles in criminal justice system are sexually assaulted more.

Sara Kim said...

Hi, Jim i'm kinda stuck here.
for neg I'm planning on using Social welfare as my value, and rehabilitation as my vc.
However, today in lab we had a mock debate and I realized something. The neg was overmentioning jail or death sentences. However, the aff responded by saying "The Negative is making the assumption that a juvenile treated as an adult will automatically go to jail. No where in the resolution does it specify jail and my opponent is basing his contention on an assumption he is making."
I'm confused, because i dont know if i should mention jail or not. I'm a novice, and i'm kind of new to debate so this blog is a great help! (=

Jim Anderson said...

Mr. Architect, the Neg might respond that you're not fully affirming--that you're stealing her ground. The hybrid system (try as an adult, punish as a juvenile) may not be truly treating them as an adult (try as an adult, punish as an adult). That's a distinction you'll have to defend.

Anonymous, it seems that your value would be Societal Welfare, and your VC would be Consequentialism or Utilitarianism. (You could also pair these VCs with morality, but in my view, the link is stronger to the purpose of those moral approaches, which are both welfarist.)

Sara Kim, certainly it's unfair to presume that all juveniles charged in the criminal justice system will go to jail--but isn't that where many of them will end up? You can argue that a society that believes juveniles are capable of standing trial (and having their case be part of the public record)--and, crucially, are charged with violent felonies--will deserve adult punishments if convicted.

cassidy said...

I have a couple of questions about some of these:

Whenever someone throws Justice as a value on me during an LD debate, I always come back with justice is not measurable because everyone's thought of justice is different. with this debate I actually chose to take the risk and use justice as my values in both cases. I'm nervous that someone is going to bring up the same point I always bring up with justice (it differs from person to person). Any thoughts on how to block this?

Also concerning the moral responsibility how would someone define that? Since morals vary.

And then with jury trials, I know that the constitution says " in suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the united states, than according to the rules of the common law." But when I was debating this point I lost because my opponent brought up the fact this is irrelevant because juveniles basically have no Constitutional rights anyways, such as the right to bare arms, for example. Any thoughts on this?

Thanks so much for this wonderful resource. It has helped me understand debate to a whole new level.

Lissa said...

If deterrence worked with juveniles in the criminal justice system, then why are the recidivism rates so high? Is it because deterrence doesn't work with juveniles at all because they are not mature enough to understand the consequences of their actions, and fear punishment?
interesting to ponder.

Anonymous said...

i'm using:
V: Societal Welfare
C: Utilitarianism
im thinking of discussing how recidivism rates can be decreased through rehabilitation, and how this works. in your explanation on this v/c pair, i dont understand how deterrence ties in with the juvenile justice system? also, any other ideas i can put down for my contentions? i also thought of how adult punishment is expensive and the juvenile sytem is better economically

Jim Anderson said...

cassidy, the time you spend warranting your value will be critical. Sure, people disagree about justice, but the fact of disagreement doesn't mean justice doesn't exist or can't be measured. (Some people think the world is flat, but that doesn't mean your GPS is lying to you.) In our society, we use democratic processes to iron out our differences, finding standards of justice that we can largely agree upon. Those have to be good enough, even if we can't reach a Platonic ideal.

You might look to Rawls for a more specific rendering of justice that works well in a small-L liberal democracy.

When it comes to moral responsibility, the variety of moral beliefs between persons isn't much of an issue. What's important is a person's ability to distinguish right and wrong, and comprehend the consequences of her actions.

As for the jury argument, the Constitutional issue is secondary to the purposes of juries. Why do we even have juries? What rights do juries protect? And, most important, why do juveniles deserve those protections?

Lissa, deterrence is when punishing Criminal A prevents another criminal--Potential Criminal B--from committing a crime. It has no bearing on whether Criminal A will re-offend once released.

Anonymous, deterrence is only one aspect of a utilitarian-based justice system. Incapacitation (keeping current criminals out of society so they can't commit crimes) and rehabilitation (helping them lose the desire / need to reoffend upon release) and cost/benefit analyses are all important utilitarian considerations.

Anonymous said...

I'm running the Justice/Social Contract AFF, and I talk about protecting our society by enforcing laws, etc... But I'm afraid they're going to say "That's not protecting society because juveniles in the adult system have higher recidivism rates." What can I saw to this? I have found a source for a recidivism study that accounts for just about every factor, so I doubt I can use sampling bias.

Jim Anderson said...

Look for evidence that punishing juveniles as adults increases deterrence. If adult punishments deter crime, then even if recidivism rates are higher, there are fewer juveniles headed to prison in the first place.

Anonymous said...

I find your value/criterion pairs a big help, because I often spend too much time attempting to think of a creative value and criterion and overlook the simple solutions.

There is a article I found that presents several good points for both support and negating sides of this topic, and with some elaboration they could make decent contentions. Particularly the suggestion that children now mature at a younger age, and can understand the effect of violence because it is made obvious through society and the media.

This is the link for the article:,8599,110232,00.html .

Nicholas said...

Three Questions:

How would you go about attacking morality?

So is Communitarianism (mustard child of communism and utilitarianism) essentially glorified communism?

Wouldn't using Retribution as the Aff force you to focus on punishment?

Jim Anderson said...


1. Morality is a nebulous value; it may mean different things to different people. And is it utilitarian morality, deontology, virtue ethics, or something else that we're considering? Furthermore, is it final or instrumental? Do we value being good for its own sake, or for the things its brings us?

2. Communitarianism in its present incarnation isn't much like communism. The Stanford Encyclopedia's summary of communitarian political positions is pretty helpful.

3. Not necessarily. Retribution is a theory that justifies punishment--and provides a general framework for punishment, especially through the principle of proportionality--but it doesn't necessarily provide for specific forms of punishment.

Anonymous said...

I want to write a case based on Rawls, but don't know how to tie distributive justice in with retributive or criminal justice. Any ideas?

Anonymous said...

To clarify the previous post--an affirmative case

Jim Anderson said...

You can use Rawls to warrant justice as a value--in his famous phrase, it's the "first virtue of social institutions"--but beyond that, I'm not sure there's a particularly Rawlsian approach that is unique to the Aff. In fact, his "difference principle" seems to point toward the Neg.

Pakman said...

Hi Mr. Anderson,

I was looking up the definition for the social contract, and found that it also has something to do with the rule of law. Is it possible to say that since the rule of law states that no one is immune to the law, it reaches out to juveniles as well? How could I incorporate that into my case but focus on violent felonies instead of all juveniles ?

Jim Anderson said...

By focusing on the intent behind the violent felony. We're talking about aggravated assault, murder, rape, and other heinous crimes: they're committed with "malice aforethought." Remember that prosecutors who charge juveniles as adults run the risk of a jury trial, so they have to ensure that the charges will "stick."

SuperNovice said...

Jim Anderson said...

Anonymous, S/W + Util can be run effectively if you focus not just on rehab / lowered recidivism, but the other costs of punishing juveniles as adults. Adult punishment via the prison system is expensive, not just in dollars, but in lost economic opportunity and broken families.
Could you expand on how i could use the idea that adult punishment is expensive/creates broken families to be more effective in my contention?
Also, how would i relate this with the V/VC?

Anonymous said...

If the social contract means that the government has the obligation to protect its people, can it 'protect' the charged juvenile too ? I mean, if the juvenile is charged but is truly innocent, it can 'protect' him by giving him a jury, having other people listen to him & avoid juvie detention under the adult justice system. Does that work ?

I'm trying to associate the social contract with justice & I don't think it's working.

Packers101 said...

Mr. Anderson,

You said that "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. If juveniles aren't fully punished for committing violent felonies, perhaps the State has not fulfilled its obligation to protect the public and enforce the law."
What law does this government need to enforce? How are they not enforcing it by not fully punishing juveniles? I'm sorry if I sound ignorant, but I wanted to use this in my contention and need some clarification.

Jim Anderson said...

SuperNovice, adult punishments are typically longer, which breaks up families, and more destructive to the psyche of juveniles, which creates a perpetual cycle of violence. Furthermore, being charged as a felon (rather than punished as a juvenile) creates a far-reaching criminal record that will haunt a young adult as they attempt to reenter society.

Anonymous, if you're associating the social contract with rights protection, you're providing people with what they're due, a textbook definition of justice. You don't have to specifically advocate for the social contract; rather, use contractarian reasoning to warrant the connection between your value (justice) and your criterion (preserving / protecting rights).

Packers101, the idea would be that a failure to fully punish juveniles (and to keep their records out of public view) puts the community at risk, which is one level of violating the social contract; by denying jury involvement, the community isn't represented in the decision, delegitimizing the process (a second level of violation).

Packers101 said...

Mr. Anderson,

You stated that the juvenile justice system was founded upon rehabilitation in one of your CV/VC pairs. Could you explain furthermore or present some evidence ?

Jim Anderson said...

Here's a decent historical overview.

SuperNovice said...

what are the weaknesses/benefits of using util as vc for neg?

Jim Anderson said...

Util connects strongly to notions of societal welfare, and an ends-based conception of the purpose of the justice system. It's empirical, so you can argue in terms of results (and statistics), and that works well with the rehabilitative focus of the juvenile justice system.

The problems are...

1. It's common, so it's commonly blocked.
2. It doesn't always offer a clear weighing mechanism--you might have to be more specific in your choice of a criterion (i.e., "Whichever side can show the greatest impact on rehabilitative outcomes...")

Strawberry said...

Is juvenile trial+incarceration more efficient than trial+incarceration in the criminal justice system?

Jim Anderson said...

Efficient in what way?

Anonymous said...

I was just wondering if there is any evidence that proves that most juveniles in a certain age range are tried than others? I'm trying to use this to get rid of the 'what about the 7 year old' argument.

ryan said...

What about a value of Life and a value criterion of Chaos, linking into biopower, and how chaos is the best way to reject it, thereby achieving life.

Bob said...

just wondering, is there a difference between contractarianism and the social contract?