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Round 3: schrodingers dog vs OzWeatherman - "Majority Voting on Minority Rights"

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posted on Jan, 17 2010 @ 07:56 PM
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The topic for this debate is "In any government run election, the majority should not have the ability to vote on the rights of the minority.”

"schrodingers dog" will be arguing the "Pro" position and begin the debate.
"OzWeatherman" will be arguing the "Con" position.

Each debater will have one opening statement each. This will be followed by 3 alternating replies each. There will then be one closing statement each and no rebuttal.

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posted on Jan, 18 2010 @ 05:13 PM
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RL consideration dictate that I regrettably have to invoke my 24hr extension ... we shall begin in earnest tomorrow.



posted on Jan, 19 2010 @ 12:22 PM
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Greetings fellow readers … as per usual allow me to begin by expressing my heartfelt gratitude to chissler for organizing this debate, our judges for taking the time to evaluate it, and our fellow ATS members for joining us in what I hope will be stimulating adversarial discourse … peripeteia and all.

The topic is "In any government run election, the majority should not have the ability to vote on the rights of the minority.” and I will be championing the pro position.
 


I am going to keep my opening statement rather brief focusing on a few crucial definitions.


It must be noted that there is going to be a rather challenging element to this debate that must be considered. Namely that the definition of "rights" is inherently hard to nail down.


Rights are variously construed as legal, social, or moral freedoms to act or refrain from acting, or entitlements to be acted upon or not acted upon. While the concept is fundamental to civilized societies, there is considerable disagreement about what is meant precisely by the term rights. It has been used by different groups and thinkers for different purposes, with different and sometimes opposing definitions, and the precise definition of the concept, beyond having something to do with normative rules of some sort or another, is controversial. Nevertheless, the concept of rights is of vital importance in such disciplines as law and ethics especially theories of justice and deontology.
(emphasis mine)

There are individual rights, states' rights, animal rights, contractual/property rights, just to name a few. There are also differences between the concepts of "Rights" vs. "Liberties" and there are different and notable variations as to the constitutional or political processes/vehicles through which varying states, nations, or unions of nations, go about legislating the "rights" of the society they represent.


Majority vote of course is a partial definition of democracy which includes:


1 a : government by the people; especially : rule of the majority


What the … what just happened?

I hear you saying: "has sdog lost his mind AGAIN … did he just give away the debate?"

After all, if I am conceding that a democracy is defined by the will of the majority it stands to reason that the majority decides on the rights of the minority.

Well no …


The most important word in the framing of the debate title is "should" … I ask that you keep in mind this singular word as the debate unfolds, for the topic is NOT "In any government run election, the majority DOES not have the ability to vote on the rights of the minority” it is "In any government run election, the majority SHOULD not have the ability to vote on the rights of the minority.”

This is crucial … there's little argument in how things ARE done, that is a simple boring matter of citing endless wikipedia sources as I did above telling us what we already know. So I will will spare my opponent and our audience the time and effort of posting and having to read tedious endless pasting of the obvious.


What it IS is conceded … there, hopefully we can get past that.

We are been asked to discuss is the "should." In light, and as all ATS members are painfully aware of, most if not all of our rights are being eroded either by attrition and/or leaps and bounds on a daily basis, by the very same democracies and governments which are supposed to protect them.

When rights are subject to the whim and caprice of an easily manipulated populace through contrivances such as the old "problem > reaction > solution" paradigm they cease to be rights


I will of course, as dictated by the debate title, spend considerable time outlining this premise, but it needed noting at this early juncture lest we focus away from the crux.


The subject is surely both complicated and somewhat abstract, and we will of course discuss all this at length as the debate unfolds … but one thing my opponent will not be able to do is validate the position that a majority should be able to define the rights of the minority.

Why?

Because there is no intellectual or rational way out of this paradox:

Voting is in itself a right which had to be acknowledged via a non-voting process before it was applied!!

Thus there's neither chicken nor egg in this regard. The first democracies weren't created via majority popular vote, they were instilled by idealistic oligarchies who applied them on philosophical and moral foundations. Hence the very right to vote, as outlined in the debate title wan't originally granted by popular vote. Again, more on this later … but my opponent needed to be made aware of the many unsurmountable reasoning challenges which await him.


At this juncture, I leave the floor to OzWeatherman … I for one cannot wait to see how he plans to defend that our inherent and inalienable rights should be subject to the same process as American Idol.


And yes, that was brief.



posted on Jan, 21 2010 @ 07:14 PM
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First off, many thanks to Chissler for his continuing excellence in organising this tournament. Also many thanks to my opponent who has allowed me extra time to post. (sorry busy work week)

The topic is "In any government run election, the majority should not have the ability to vote on the rights of the minority.” and I will be arguing the con position.

First off I would like to show this statement pulled from wikipedia (I know, bear with me because its the best quote I could find):



The doctrine of human rights aims to identify the necessary positive and negative prerequisites for a "universal" minimal standard of justice, tolerance and human dignity that can be considered the public moral norms owed by and to individuals by the mere virtue of their humanity.


There are several key words within that statment which I will dwell upon later.

Rather then placing emphasis on the word minority right away, I would like to bring attention to human rights. Human rights can be almost anything our days, from sexism to racism to the ethic of reciprocity (treat one as one would do to others). Within the broad scope of human rights, are in fact minorities; people of different ethinc background, people with different coloured skin, people with another sexual orientation to you or I, people who worship a different religion.

Does this make them different? Well not entirely, although on a general scale, they are lesser in populace than people with differing social preferences.

While my opponent will use complex words and focus on the American government (where voting and decisions are made on a vote- if- you- can- be- bothered agenda) and the alleged suppresion of peoples rights within that nation, I will focus my attention on a global scale, and show cases where democracy actually works, and the positive effects of majority voting on minority rights.

As I dont want to give too much away of what I have planned for arguing my position, I will now conclude this very brief introduction and hand the reins back over to my respected opponent.



posted on Jan, 21 2010 @ 07:30 PM
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First of all, let me begin by assuring my opponent that should any word before him be too complicated or long for him to handle, I am always available to explain it to him.
For example, though I will certainly refer to examples within the United States, by no means will I display ethnocentricity (see above offer) in the exposition of my argument ... so no worries there.


Now ...

No matter one's specific definition (be it legal, social, political, economic, philosophical, moral/spiritual) and breadth of what can be established as fundamental "rights," we can all agree that the acknowledgment and establishment of said rights is one of the basic underpinnings of any society.

As such, and within the context of this debate, what we are basically discussing is whether or not "majority rule" via popular vote is the best and/or most sound way to both identify and preserve said rights.

This post will be dedicated to exposing the fundamental flaws in allowing something as vital to a society as "rights" to be dictated by the whim and predominant wisdom du jour.

Let us explore ...

Argumentum ad populum


An argumentum ad populum (Latin: "appeal to the people"), in logic is a fallacious argument that concludes a proposition to be true because many or all people believe it; it alleges, "If many believe so, it is so." This type of argument is known by several names,[1] including appeal to the masses, appeal to belief, appeal to the majority, appeal to the people, argument by consensus, authority of the many, and bandwagon fallacy, and in Latin by the names argumentum ad populum ("appeal to the people"), argumentum ad numerum ("appeal to the number"), and consensus gentium ("agreement of the clans").


How does this apply to rights?

Let's take a couple of apt examples within the context of the United States:


Examples of Appeal to Popularity

1. "My fellow Americans...there has been some talk that the government is overstepping its bounds by allowing police to enter peoples' homes without the warrants traditionally required by the Constitution. However, these are dangerous times and dangerous times require appropriate actions. I have in my office thousands of letters from people who let me know, in no uncertain terms, that they heartily endorse the war against crime in these United States. Because of this overwhelming approval, it is evident that the police are doing the right thing."

2. "I read the other day that most people really like the new gun control laws. I was sort of suspicious of them, but I guess if most people like them, then they must be okay."


Of course the rights to privacy, against unreasonable search and secure, and to bear arms, are outlined in the "bill of rights" and subsequent amendments. We will delve into those specific documents, their generation, evolution, and implications at a later point in this debate. For now I am using the above examples in a limited scope to substantiate the "Argumentum ad Populum" fallacy and the perils of subjecting what are timeless rights to the prevailing short term whims and caprices of public sentiment.

It is indeed my position that rights are a timeless set of liberties based on universal virtues and not subject to alteration or convenient approximation. They are in fact the foundations upon which societies are built on and are not to be selectively interpreted and/or suspended to satisfy an either perceived or real threat.

Here in the United States the events of 9/11 have spawned and to a great extent legitimized well documented transgressions against individual rights (Patriot Act), human rights (CIA torture practices), and legal rights (Guantanamo), who's scope were well defined by constitutional documents and international treaty.

Though the pendulum seems to have swung to reverse some of these transgressions on acknowledged rights, the fact remains that the American public approved them both tacitly and directly via majority vote. After all it is the American public who voted the elected officials into the empowerment to enact these policies.

Across the world, in democratic states founded on principles of rights and liberty, our rights are being eroded on a daily basis because we have allowed them to be flexible to account for short term considerations. We allow cameras on every corner, monitoring over the web, invasive airport scanners, and a plethora of other intrusions and violations against our rights … all because we have allowed them to be "touchable" in the name of what scares us most at any given time.

ATS members are painfully aware of the above more than most, and we KNOW that it is the very governments which we elect via majority rule which, instead of protecting our rights without condition, in fact conspire to strip us of them!

Beyond the Argumentum ad Populum, a further rational for removing the power to modify, create, and/or retract rights from the hands of majority rule is the Tyranny of the Majority principle:


The phrase tyranny of the majority, used in discussing systems of democracy and majority rule, is a criticism of the scenario in which decisions made by a majority under that system would place that majority's interests so far above a dissenting individual's interest that the individual would be actively oppressed.


I am introducing the above concept now but will expound on it much more in later posts as it is most applicable and relevant to a real life consideration of this debate ... namely: Prop. 8: Tyranny of the Majority


I will conclude this post by once again pointing out that democracies are defined by their ever shifting political powers. It is in their very nature that the people/voters choose different parties with differing ideologies to govern at any given point in time. Thus it is clear that the political sentiments of any democratic nation are fluid. Rights are not! Thus by DEFINITION rights cannot and should not be aligned with political and ideological majorities. These majorities can and do change much within societies, after all that what governments are for, but they SHOULD NOT be allowed to rearrange the very foundations upon which their respective societies are founded upon.

Think of it as a house … each new voting and ruling majority can affect how the house is decorated, but it is not entitled to remove the foundations. That's what revolutions are for.



Having established the fallacious elements of my opponents position and set a macro/ideological foundation for my debate position, my next post will be used to outline how such instruments as referendums, propositions, and all other elements of "direct democracy" work to undermine and manipulate all the "rights" we are contemplating. Thus I will touch even closer to heart of this debate and will conclusively show that "In any government run election, the majority should not have the ability to vote on the rights of the minority.”



posted on Jan, 22 2010 @ 07:06 PM
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Thankyou S-dog


Rebuttal




An argumentum ad populum (Latin: "appeal to the people"), in logic is a fallacious argument that concludes a proposition to be true because many or all people believe it; it alleges, "If many believe so, it is so." This type of argument is known by several names.


This indeed, is a fallacious argument. While it may appear that the majority rules point of view is unattractive in my opponents context, in terms of voting on fundamental rights, it can work. In fact having majority votes on certain topics, can help ascertain whether or not these topics are in fact fallacious or not. That is providing people are able to think for themselves.

My opponents objective here is to try and prove that people will act in what is known as the bandwagon effect, or cromo effect. This can be defined as follows:


the phenomenon of a popular trend attracting even greater popularity; "in periods of high merger activity there is a bandwagon effect with more and more firms seeking to engage in takeover activity"; "polls are accused of creating a bandwagon effect to benefit their candidate"


Now, while this may at times appear that the public is simply voting or follwing for the sake of being popular or the same as everyone else, closer inspection actually reveals that this is not necessarily true. I will get into this a little later in this post



It is indeed my position that rights are a timeless set of liberties based on universal virtues and not subject to alteration or convenient approximation. They are in fact the foundations upon which societies are built on and are not to be selectively interpreted and/or suspended to satisfy an either perceived or real threat.


I beg to differ on the above points that my opponent makes. To assume that rights are based on "a timelss set of liberties" is ludicrous. Have blacks always had the same rights as white? Have women always been allowed to vote? Have gays and lesbians always been accepted readily into society? The answer is obviously no. My point is that universal liberties change, as society evolves. Societies are built on evolution, not a concrete structure that has allows for a strict and linear growth. If we had no evolutionary development, then we would still be back in the stone age killing those of different colour (simply for not being white etc) and assuming that women were of lower intelligence and were of a lower class then men. Again, this is another reason why majority voting is needed on minority rights, we need an overall view of the entire population, thats what democracy is! I will discuss this a bit later in the debate.

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First Argument

Herd Behaviour



A group of animals fleeing a predator shows the nature of herd behavior. In 1971, in the oft cited article "Geometry For The Selfish Herd," evolutionary biologist W. D. Hamilton asserted that each individual group member reduces the danger to itself by moving as close as possible to the center of the fleeing group. Thus the herd appears to act as a unit in moving together, but its function emerges from the uncoordinated behavior of self-serving individuals


What the above statement means, is that while it may appear that people are moving as one, each individual is using its own thought processes. Because people are doing the same thing, it is incorrectly interpreted as "jumping on the bandwagon".

In reality people are selfish. It is this selfishness that determines our stance on certain topics, and subsequently our point of view. My opponent would like to make us think that people are too stupid to figure things out for themselves, so they follow popular or well promoted trends. As he mentioned before, this may apply to such mindless cultures, such as the one that follow American Idol religiously, but in the case of minority issues, it is and will not be the case.

Democracy

A healthy democracy makes sure that all members of the community have equal access to the political process. Regardless of race or any other factor, everyone should have the right ot vote, and vote on any issue period. To restrict this is pretty much living in a totalitarialist nation.

Just because someone is white, doesnt mean they shouldnt be allowed to vote on wether or not ethnic minorities (immigrants) should be granted citizenship after a certain period in the country. Just because someone is straight doesnt mean they shouldnt be allowed to vote on wether or not gay marriages are recognised in society.

To restrict voting, society as a whole will never get a say....that is complete reversal of democracy and we might as well have a
dictatorship instead

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Back to S-dog to open the second postings



posted on Jan, 23 2010 @ 10:23 PM
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Well ladies and gentlemen, it seems that my opponent is dead set on making my argument for me … I for one will not be the one to impede his momentum in this regard.

Let us explore some of Oz's statements …

In my preceding post I stated:

"It is indeed my position that rights are a timeless set of liberties based on universal virtues and not subject to alteration or convenient approximation. They are in fact the foundations upon which societies are built on and are not to be selectively interpreted and/or suspended to satisfy an either perceived or real threat."

To which my opponent responded:


I beg to differ on the above points that my opponent makes. To assume that rights are based on "a timelss set of liberties" is ludicrous. Have blacks always had the same rights as white? Have women always been allowed to vote? Have gays and lesbians always been accepted readily into society? The answer is obviously no.


PRECISELY!

And why is that?

After all Thomas Jefferson, in response and opposition to the Divine Right of Kings, stated quite clearly in The Declaration of Independence:



And yet, as my opponent stated, and as history shows us, it has in many cases taken centuries for the inherent rights of African/Native Americans, women, and other minorities to receive the benefit of the very rights which are inherently theirs. Heck it took a civil war just to recognize one, centuries of activism for others, and in the case of same sex marriage the fight is still ongoing.

The rights were there upon the foundation of the nation, it was the whim and sentiment of the populace that precluded said minorities from their enjoying them!

This ladies and gentlemen is the crux of this debate and where my esteemed opponent has got it completely wrong. He is under the impression that civil rights movements (women, african americans, native americans, etc.) were about acquiring rights for those respective minorities … when in fact they were about receiving their inalienable rights as already expressed and established in the constitution and subsequent amendments, that up until the point of redress, were denied to them by the aforementioned "tyranny of the majority."

Thus, as I stated earlier, rights are a timeless set of liberties based on universal virtues and not subject to alteration or convenient approximation!

Therefore when my opponent states:


My point is that universal liberties change, as society evolves.


He could not be more wrong!


Societies are built on evolution, not a concrete structure that has allows for a strict and linear growth. If we had no evolutionary development, then we would still be back in the stone age killing those of different colour (simply for not being white etc) and assuming that women were of lower intelligence and were of a lower class then men.


No societies are NOT built on "evolution" … they are built on fundamental principles and rights!

Societies of course do evolve, but they should (as in the debate topic) evolve upon the founded principles and not pick and choose if and when they should adhere to them according to simple majority and temporal popularity.

Now, there are times in the course of history that circumstances dictate a fresh look and potential inclusion of "new" rights to reflect new and/or unforeseen demands on the foundation. After all, to continue on the house metaphor from my previous post, as the population grows and times change, the foundation will inevitably need some further strengthening ...

This is NOT the same as waiting for existing rights to be recognized until the point in time where a society has, as my opponent claims, "evolved" into being good and ready to grant existing rights to its minorities.

In the US, the vehicle through which such fundamental alterations to rights is addressed is via constitutional amendment.

Yet even the framers of the constitution recognized the perils of simple majority rule over minority rights … for The Bill of Rights and every other subsequent amendment can only be ratified when a Supermajority of 75% of the States support it:


The framers of the Constitution were aware that changes would be necessary if the Constitution was to endure as the nation grew. However, they were also conscious that such change should not be easy, lest it permit ill-conceived and hastily passed amendments. On the other hand, they also wanted to ensure that a rigid requirement of unanimity would not block action desired by the vast majority of the population.

cont…

it must also be ratified by three-fourths of states. en.wikipedia.org...


A supermajority being:


A supermajority or a qualified majority is a requirement for a proposal to gain a specified level or type of support which exceeds majority. en.wikipedia.org...


So in the example of the United States the sequence is clear … the declaration of independence/constitution express and define the rights inalienable to the populace as part of their founding principles, they upon occasion through vehicles such as The Bill of Rights and further amendments expound on those rights via supermajority vote and not via simple majority vote, for the framers were aware of the potential pitfalls of allowing rights to be defined by wavering public sentiment.

The fact, as my opponent so eloquently stated, that so many of these inalienable rights took so long to be enjoyed by so many segments (minorities) of the population is precisely because it took centuries for public sentiment to catch up and agree to RECOGNIZE said rights.

And again, as is the crux of this debate, recognition isn't the same as creation!

If it was a simple matter of majority vote, imagine all the rights that would be coming and going with each election cycle …

As I alluded to in my previous post, nowhere is this transgression more visible than in the recent striking down via popular vote of California Proposition 8 in the 2008 elections where the right to same sex marriage was denied by altering the California constitution:


The measure added a new provision, Section 7.5 of Article I, to the California Constitution. The new section reads:

"Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." en.wikipedia.org...(2008)


Now, how does one reconcile that with "equal rights under the law" and "all men are created equal?"

It simply doesn't … the Proposition 8 initiative was passed by a final majority vote of 52.24% vs. 47.76%.

... and therein lie the the tragic trappings of simple majority rule, the tyranny of the majority, and precisely why "In any government run election, the majority should not have the ability to vote on the rights of the minority.”

More good stuff later ... for now I leave the floor to my esteemed opponent in the hope that he continues on the argumentative path he has chosen.



posted on Jan, 25 2010 @ 07:15 PM
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Due to Australia Day celebrations and the expected drunkness, I will be taking my 24 hour extension. Will have next argument up tomorrow



posted on Jan, 28 2010 @ 02:52 PM
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Due to unforeseen circumstances, OzWeatherman has been forced to forfeit this debate.

schrodingers dog moves to the next round.






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