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Basic Principles for Debaters

Md. Abir Hasan

1. Harm Principle

The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized
community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. The only part of the conduct of
anyone, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which
merely concerns him, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body
and mind, the individual is sovereign.

This House will legalize Alcohol.
This house will Ban the Selling of Cigarettes.
This House Supports Euthanasia.
This House will allow citizens to go nude on street!!!

2. Social Contract

Social Contract is an agreement among the members of an organized society or between the
governed and the government defining and limiting the rights and duties of each. According to
Thomas Hobbes, human life would be "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short" in the absence
of political order and law. In its absence, we would live in a state of nature, where each person
has unlimited natural freedoms, including the "right to all things" and thus the freedom to
plunder, rape, and murder; there would be an endless "war of all against all". To avoid this, free
men establish political community i.e. civil society through a social contract in which each gains
security in return for subjecting himself absolutely to an absolute Sovereign.

This house believes that Civil Disobedience is a legitimate tool of Political Protest.
This House will make military training mandatory for all citizens.
This house will allow citizens to sue their government for disaster mismanagement.

3. Double Effect

Double effect is a principle attempting to define when an action that has both good and bad
results is morally permissible. In one formulation such an action is permissible if (i) the action is
not wrong in itself, (ii) the bad consequence is not that which is intended, (iii) the good is not
itself a result of the bad consequence, and (iv) the two consequences are commensurate. Thus,
for instance, I might justifiably bomb an enemy factory, foreseeing but not intending the death
of nearby civilians, whereas bombing the civilians intentionally would be disallowed.

This House will legalize Abortion
The principle of double effect is frequently cited in cases of pregnancy and abortion. A doctor
who believes abortion is always morally wrong may nevertheless remove the uterus or fallopian
tubes of a pregnant woman, knowing the procedure will cause the death of the embryo or
fetus, in cases in which the woman is certain to die without the procedure. In these cases, the
intended effect is to save the woman's life, not to terminate the pregnancy, and the effect of
not performing the procedure would result in the greater evil of the death of both the mother
and the fetus.

This House Will Bomb Iran
The principle appears useful in war situations. In a war, it may be morally acceptable to bomb
the enemy headquarters to end the war quickly, even if civilians on the streets around the
headquarters might die. For, in such a case, the bad effect of civilian deaths is not
disproportionate to the good effect of ending the war quickly, and the deaths of the civilians
are side effect and not intended by the bombers, either as ends or as means. On the other
hand, to bomb an enemy orphanage in order to terrorize the enemy into surrender would be
unacceptable, because the deaths of the orphans would be intended as a means, in this case as
a means to ending the war early, contrary to condition 2.

4. Acts and Omissions

The moral distinction between acts and omissions amounts to the claim that there is a morally
significant difference between a particular action and a corresponding failure to act, even
though they have the same outcomes. Thus, it is said that there is a moral difference between,
for example, lying and not telling the truth, hindering and failing to help, and between killing
and letting die, even though, in each case, the consequences of the action and the omission
may be the same.
This House will criminalize the act of not helping people in distress.
This House will make it mandatory for rich to donate in Philanthropic project

5. Slippery Slopes
The general form of the slippery slope Argument, If you permit practice A (mildly
objectionable), then it will lead to Z (Obnoxious and highly undesirable events).
This House will strictly punish first time criminals.
Showing leniency to first time criminals will encourage them to involve in greater criminal acts.
This house will allow Government to intercept personal mail of citizens in times of
Allowing government to intervene in personal spaces will encourage them to further breach
privacy of citizens by tapping phone calls or spying on them. It might as well later give them
ground to block use of social networking sites and other information tools.

6. Utilitarianism
Utilitarianism is the belief that the value of a thing or an action is determined by its utility. Thus it states
all action should be directed toward achieving the greatest happiness/maximum utility for the greatest
number of people. Thus Government at times is allowed to take hard decisions based on a utilitarian
This house supports RABs extrajudicial killing.
This house will ban Pornography.

7. Positive and negative Liberty
Positive liberty is defined as having the power and resources to fulfill one's own potential (this may
include freedom from internal constraints); as opposed to negative liberty, which is freedom from
external restraint.
This house will allow family members to forcibly admit proven alcohol and drug addicts to
rehabilitation centre.

8. Rights
A right is a permission to do something or an entitlement to a specific service or treatment. There are
few fundamental rights, including the right to practice religion, freedom of speech, due process, and
equal protection of the laws.
There are two types of right: Positive right, Negative right. In some democracies e.g. the US, citizens
have the positive right to vote and they have the negative right not to vote; people can stay home and
watch television instead, if they desire. In other democracies e.g. Australia, however, citizens have a
positive right to vote but they don't have a negative right to not vote, since non-voting citizens can be
This house will legalize Gay Marriages.
This house believes that citizens should have the right to change their race.

9. Arbitrariness
Arbitrariness is a term given to choices and actions subject to individual will, judgment or preference,
based solely upon an individual's opinion or discretion.
This House condemns the preferential treatment of Christian students in US university
This House supports free movement of labor.
This house will remove ban from Cuba.

10. Paradoxical Arguments
A paradox arises when a set of apparently incontrovertible premises gives unacceptable or contradictory
In a village a barber shaves all and only those who do not shave themselves. Does the barber
shave himself??
If he does, then he does not.
If he does not, then he does.
Am I a liar??
If I am, then I am not.
If I am not, then I am.
A heterological word is a word that does not describe itself (e.g. long). Is the word heterlogical
itself heterological??

11. Justice
Justice is the act of being just and/or fair.
Retributive justice regulates proportionate response to crime proven by lawful evidence, so
that punishment is justly imposed and considered as morally correct and fully deserved. The
law of retaliation is a military theory of retributive justice, which says that reciprocity
should be equal to the wrong suffered; "life for life, wound for wound, stripe for stripe."
Restorative justice is concerned not so much with retribution and punishment as with (a)
making the victim whole and (b) reintegrating the offender into society. This approach
frequently brings an offender and a victim together, so that the offender can better
understand the effect his/her offense had on the victim.
Distributive justice is directed at the proper allocation of things wealth, power, reward,
respect among different people.
This House supports death punishment.
This House will tax successful artist to fund new and talented musicians.

However, it is important none of these principles are absolute. These are few basic tools to help
you in preparing case during prep time and structure your contents in a short time.
Understanding these properly also helps in understanding the context of the motion and in
categorizing motions in a short time.

On a different note, it is important that I leave all of you with a message..
Always remember.Nothing in this world can be of more pride than standing in a podium and
speaking 7 minutes for the pride of IBA and Bangladesh. So, whenever you walk in that stage
always enjoy your 7 minutes and if you need inspiration.think about everyone and anyone
who ever questioned your potential, ever doubted on your ability, ever told you that you
cant.These 7 minutes will be your reply to all of them.. YES YOU CAN!!!
May Allah bless all of you take IBA to greater heights and keep the Red-Green always fly High
Md. Abir Hasan
A proud member of IBA DEBATE