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VP: Liberty - VC: Social Contract... posted by Josh Nadal

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”  These are the words of Benjamin Franklin, and for this and other reasons, I stand firmly against the resolution: That the restriction of economic liberty for the sake of the general welfare is justified in the field of agriculture.


Resolutional Analysis


General Definitions


1.      Restriction

“to confine or keep within limits, as of space, action, choice, or quantity.” – Random House Webster’s College Dictionary


2.      Justify

“1  To prove or show to be just, or conformable to law, right, justice, propriety or duty;” – Noah Webster’s 1812 American Dictionary of the English Language


3.      Agriculture

“The science or art of cultivating the soil and its fruits especially in large areas or fields” – Ballentine’s Law Dictionary, 1969


Value Premise: The value that the negative will uphold is that of liberty.

Value Premise Definition: According to John Locke in his Second Treatise of Government, “liberty is to be free from restraint and violence from others . . . a liberty to dispose and order as he lists his person, actions, possessions, and his whole property, within the allowance of those laws under which he is, and therein not to be subject to the arbitrary will of another, but freely follow his own.”

Value Premise Justification: Liberty, and in this case economic liberty, should be the first thing we value, for without liberty nothing else matters.


Criteria: The criterion that we will use to uphold liberty is the social contract.

Criteria Definition: The social contract that Locke gave us is based on the idea that we give up our ability to infringe on the rights of others in order that those rights may be protected for us as well.

Criteria Justification: By using the social contract, liberty is protected because under it others are restrained from making actions that would infringe on your liberty, such as making you their slave or maiming you.


Thesis:  The negative holds that a restriction of economic liberty is not justified because not only does it sacrifice a greater value for a lesser one, but it is counter-productive to the lesser value as well.  Trying to uphold the general welfare over economic liberty will achieve neither.
Designative Issues


Contentions    Points to correlate facts presented to the value and to apply the value.


Before we get into anything else, let’s take an overview of the values in this round, the value of economic liberty and the value of the general welfare.  I have three points, for the value of economic liberty is an extremely important value.  First, economic liberty upholds the general welfare of all income classes.  According to Nicholas N. Eberstadt, a visiting scholar at Harvard, “the underpinnings of economic liberty also have a pragmatic value: They stimulate economic activity and enhance economic welfare.  One may also make the case that economic liberty is especially important to the poor, the vulnerable, and the marginalized”.  We see that rather than being regarded as detrimental to the general welfare, the very principles of economic liberty are regarded as being beneficial to the economic welfare – a crucial facet of the general welfare.

Second, if your economic liberty is lost, then liberty itself is lost.  As Margaret Thatcher, the former Prime Minister of England said, “There can be no liberty without economic liberty.”  The general welfare on the other hand is something that can be lived without, and as long as we have as our foundation economic liberty, there is always the ability to get it back.  Even this comes back to having our liberty.

Third, liberty has intrinsic value in and of itself.  Henry Shue, a philosopher, said in Basic Rights, 1980, “Certainly there are many liberties the exercise and enjoyment of which are valuable in themselves - and are for that reason very valuable indeed”.  So liberty has worth in itself.  For all these reasons the value of economic liberty is the most important value in this debate round.


Now let’s look at how this applies to the field of agriculture.  Under communist rule in Russia, economic liberty was greatly restricted and the general welfare perished.  This restriction of economic liberty was a disaster; and the regime that instituted it ultimately fell.  So here we see an excellent example of the negative position in this round: that restricting our economic liberty for the sake of the general welfare is like shooting yourself in the foot – no, more like committing suicide.  Upon the sacrifice of economic liberty, chaos ensued; and when the smoke cleared Benjamin Franklin’s words came to life, for they had “neither Liberty nor Safety.”  For this one reason alone, we should reject the resolution.  But let’s move on and look at the affirmative case.