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Binghamton Speech & Debate

Proposition: Scott Benson (Binghamton University) vs. Opposition: Ruchi Agashe (NEI Education)

Judge: Josh Cangelosi (San Diego Christian College)

Resolution: Resolved: This house believes that being a vegetarian is a better ethical choice than meat eating.

  • Scott Benson
    Scott Benson

    Ruchi Agashe
    Ruchi Agashe
    Click to begin

    Speech Details

    Click on the other tabs to watch watch that speech.

    Posted at October 7, 2014 11:02:49AM EST by Joe Leeson-Schatz



    None available for this speech.

    Posted at October 8, 2014 07:39:24AM EST by Joe Leeson-Schatz



    None available for this speech.

    Posted at October 9, 2014 02:53:39AM EST by Scott Benson



    Prop Rebuttal Citations

    Prop Opening Citations (Lost Through Technical Difficulties)

    Posted at October 10, 2014 01:07:23AM EST by Ruchi Agashe



    None available for this speech.

    Posted at October 11, 2014 02:50:15AM EST by Scott Benson



    None available for this speech.


    This match has been completed. Show the Decision.

    Submitted at October 11, 2014 05:14:19AM EST by Josh Cangelosi

    Category Scott Benson Ruchi Agashe
    Use of evidence: 5 4.5
    Delivery skill: 4.5 5.5
    Coherence of arguments: 5 5
    Responsiveness to opponent: 5 5
    Identification of key points: 4 6
    Comments: Watch out for underestimating the importance of definitions in debate.

    Also, watch out for calling people out for not citing sources when they verbally cite sources and you drop those sources.
    Very impressive speaking, great passion! And very nice philosophical arguments, very strategic and subtle!

    The decision is for the Opposition: Ruchi Agashe

    Reason for Decision:

    Opp provides some very subtle yet strategic arguments, the import of which Prop fails to grasp fully.

    On definitions, Prop does not seem to recognize that definitions are paramount in this round. The question is whether being a vegetarian is a better ethical choice than meat eating. So to decide that question, we need a clear standard of what it means for something to be a better ethical choice.

    Prop fails to provide a definition in the first speech, so Prop forfeits his right to define. And Opp is exactly right to call Prop out on the claim that everybody intelligent knows what ethical means. As Opp says, there is this little discipline in philosophy called ethical theory with a venerable tradition of hundreds of years spent trying to define exactly what ethical means. And Opp rattles off just a few of the philosophical answers to that question, over which there is so much contention. The irony of Opp saying that everyone with intellect knows what ethical means is not lost on me. As Socrates says, true knowledge is acknowledging your ignorance about topics rather than assuming you know everything when you dont.

    Opp provides a reasonable definition consistent with the ethical theory of relativism. Prop then tries to give a definition later, but as Opp shows, Props dictionary definition of ethical (relating to morals) is empty. Prop would have us define ethical by dictionary definitions as that which is ethical. Prop does add a secondary definition of ethical to the tune of better for humans and the environment. But I agree with Opp that a clear standard of ethics should have come in the first speech, and Opp better defends her definition as consistent with a particular ethical theory.

    So definitions become a problem for the Prop in two ways. First, without a clear standard of what ethical means at start, everything Prop says on case could be true, but he is still begging the question why all that means that being a vegetarian is ethical. That is, even if being a vegetarian is better for humans, the environment, etc. why is vegetarianism therefore the better ethical decision? Without a clear standard, Prop can never support the resolution.

    Second, once I accept Opps definition of ethical (the most beneficial relative to the situation), then Opps points are well taken that sometimes being a vegetarian will be the most beneficial relative to the situation, and sometimes it will not. The point about the Native Americans who subsisted on buffalo shows that being a vegetarian was not the most beneficial relative to that situation. The timeframe of the situation doesnt matter because Opps definition does not say the most beneficial relative to current situations.)

    Also, Opp is correct that to say being a vegetarian is the better ethical choice than meat eating entails the statement that people should be vegetarians instead of meat eaters. Ethics carries with it normativity. I think that all but certain antirealsits would agree with that. Indeed, it would be very odd to say that being a veg. is the better choice but people should not choose it. Accordingly, Opps points about human rights stick.

    Finally, Opp does enough work on case as well. On animal cruelty, she argues that the meat industry can be reformed. And while I agree with Prop that more animals will die in the long run if we keep the meat industry than if (by going vegetarian) we let all the animals currently in the meat industry die, Opp does have a very interesting argument that many animals will never be brought into the world in the first place without the meat industry. Interesting.

    The response to the bees comes super late, but even if I allow that response, it seems that both vegetarianism and meat eating will depend on pesticides that kill bees and pollute the water, so the environmental issues are a bit of a wash.

    Props health contention goes uncontested, but the question is still whether the fact that health benefits of vegetarianism make it the better ethical choice, and Opp has shown with the Native Americans that vegetarianism could lead to death in some situations anyway.

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