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New September/October 2015 LD Topic Discussion

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This morning the new LD topic for September/October 2015 was released:

"Resolved: Adolescents ought to have the right to make autonomous medical choices."

 

I was wondering what all of your thoughts on the topic were.

 

My thoughts:

This debate heavily leans toward the negative side from what research I have done so far. Some questions to be considered: What is the exact age of an adolescent? ("Adolescence begins with the onset of physiologically normal puberty, and ends when an adult identity and behavior are accepted." - NCBI) This age will vary due to when the specific child hits puberty, and depending on whatever country they are in that chooses when an "adult identity" is accepted. Also, this would mean women would achieve this right earlier on the aff side, due to women hitting puberty earlier (Is it fair for women to achieve rights earlier than men?). Who is paying for the child's medical choices/What if they make a choice their parents can't afford? (Of course, that wouldn't apply in countries with free healthcare, but this appears to be an international topic.) What are the positives of allowing adolescents to make autonomous medical choices? (Emergency situations can be treated without a parental figure's approval, potentially saving lives. A child's privacy can be secured.)

 

Would it be a good idea to go towards a human rights/morality angle on the aff side? Or would it be more valuable to point towards the positives of affirming the resolution? (I guess that still falls under the morality of consequentialism, thus applying to the 'ought' of the resolution. So it is still applicable.)

 

As for the negative side, I would go for the angle that medical choices require money, and rights that are still out of the reach of a child limit the child from truly being able to have the full right to make autonomous medical choices (So the aff either can't reach the goal of achieving the full right to make autonomous medical choices, or the aff goes down a slippery slope that violates many existing laws concerning children and adults, and gives children adult identities that set them up for abuse through child labor, unjust criminal charges, etc.)

 

But anyways, I am so excited to hear what everyone thinks about the topic!

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For Aff I think the basic idea of autonomy is the idea, not that it can exactly be achieved. Just recognizing that adolescents have the right to make decisions about their own body and have the ability to decide their own future. For neg maybe a disease DA because children would refuse treatments that were scary. I can't think of any decent NC's or K's. 

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Well for the neg, ableism is my first thought. Part of the college topic last year (specifically legalizing physician assisted suicide) was usually about autonomy and ableism was always the go-to answer.

 

This article is in the context of end of life care but it provides a starting point to do more research

http://dsq-sds.org/article/view/1704/1754.

Edited by SnarkosaurusRex
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All medical choices aren't necessarily end of life. For instance vaccinations or minor procedures. This could be useful for specific Affs but I think it's a bit specific for a main strat. 

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All medical choices aren't necessarily end of life. For instance vaccinations or minor procedures. This could be useful for specific Affs but I think it's a bit specific for a main strat. 

I think I could see a cap link or a race link along the lines of not everyone having this proper access to medical attention, neglects the x body, or maintains capitalist inequality. I see this being especially viable considering the resolution doesn't denote a specific actor.

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All medical choices aren't necessarily end of life. For instance vaccinations or minor procedures. This could be useful for specific Affs but I think it's a bit specific for a main strat.

 

I'm quite aware that not all medical care is end of life. My point was that the very notion of autonomy is regarded to be ableist by some authors, which is why I pointed out that *even though* that article is in the context of EoL care, it can serve as a springboard for one's own research.

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A significant position on the affirmative side will revolve around when adolescents and parents would come to very different conclusions because of parental insanity fringe religious beliefs.  Should adolescents whose parents refuse treatment for them on medical grounds be able to overrule their parents?  There are certainly cases where children have died from lack of relatively simple care because of those kinds of parental decisions.

 

Anyone wishing to take up a queer-friendly affirmative position could certainly argue in favor of letting adolescents make decisions about treatments which delay puberty so trans-questioning individuals have time to consider whether they want to surgically change their sex without being saddled with phenotypic traits of the 'wrong sex'.  Parental religious beliefs are going to be a significant motivating factor here too.

 

I think the Aff is going to need to do some scope limitation, and will probably benefit strongly from reading a specific plan or advocacy statement rather than trying to defend the entire resolution.  The Aff need not defend all countries, nor necessarily all adolescents or all situations.

 

On the cost angle: many adolescents (16+ in the US, as young as 14 if the work is 'farm labor' and even younger if it's a family farm, and that's not counting less official work like babysitting) are capable of holding a part time job and paying the cost of their own co-pays, and parental objections should not stop insurance from covering a procedure it would otherwise cover.

Edited by Squirrelloid

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I hate resolutions where they use two different phrases associated with morality.
 

A significant position on the affirmative side will revolve around when adolescents and parents would come to very different conclusions because of parental insanity fringe religious beliefs.  Should adolescents whose parents refuse treatment for them on medical grounds be able to overrule their parents?  There are certainly cases where children have died from lack of relatively simple care because of those kinds of parental decisions.

 

Thing is, I can also imagine situations where the opposite is true, and the child makes a stupid situation that puts themself into danger despite parental objections. Suppose a teenager is afraid of undergoing a surgery necessary for their health, for example. Or suppose they choose an unnecessary elective surgery that risks harming themself, like getting a nose job due to insecurities about their looks. The heuristic I'm tempted to use is that generally parents are more intelligent than teenagers, therefore generally parents are going to make fewer harmful decisions overall. Also, neg ground allows for the possibility of situations where neither parent nor child should be allowed to make decisions, and the doctors should instead. That solves religious insanity. Probably the best reason to allow adolescent autonomy is just that adolescents know their own values best, in cases of potentially extreme value tradeoffs.

Edited by Chaos

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I think the Aff is going to need to do some scope limitation, and will probably benefit strongly from reading a specific plan or advocacy statement rather than trying to defend the entire resolution.  The Aff need not defend all countries, nor necessarily all adolescents or all situations.

Yeah, after reading this, I don't see any other way the aff should write their case. So would you make that an observation, perhaps? (Sorry- I am so traditional LD that it hurts anyone that is progressive. That's just how my circuits are.) And after that observation, just carefully wording the case to where it points to you fulfilling the resolution by definition yet effectively limiting the topic?

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I see this topic as heavily aff biased. There's tons of K aff ground (sex change, abortion/pregnancy related things, PAS, challenging parental domination/abuse, etc), and a decent amount of phil ground as well (obviously autonomy, but I could see some kantian FWs, possibly virtue ethics). I'm not too much of a LARPer, so I don't see any immediate advantage areas besides possibly disease (children will stop listening to their parents who preach that vaccines cause autism), but that link could go either way. 

 

As for neg, the ableism link seems very tenuous. I was talking for a few hours last night with a group of debate friends and we discussed ableism for quite a while, but we found that it would either be easily link turned (I allow people with disabilities to make their own decisions rather than able-bodied people making them for them) or a performative contradiction (They say people with disabilities can't properly think for themselves/can't have autonomy, but that only takes away their agency and forecloses the possibility for change.) Plus, I think any links based on the medical system in general don't link to medical autonomy at all, and are super non-unique and would require the abolishment of the medical system, or even if you had an alt that just reformed it or something, adolescents would still be able to make autonomous choices. As for NCs, there is probably a little more potential, such as the obligation of the parent to their child and hence the right to make their medical decisions, or the responsibility of the doctor to prevent harm when it is seen. Additionally, ought-implies-can might have a little potential, since you could probably say that adolescents don't actually have autonomy or something based on the way their brain is structured. The vaccine DA is also an option.

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I think the negative might be able to craft a decent strategy which revolves around the idea of rights and autonomy. This wouldn't necessarily involve a straight-up ableism kritik. They could instead argue that autonomy is an unrealistic and unobtainable idea which we should not take a rights based approach to, drawing inspiration from ableism literature only optionally. Trying to enforce a full-fledged right to autonomy seems like it would be very messy to me.  Distinguishing legitimate vs illegitimate parental uses of authority in edge cases should not and cannot be the role of the US government. Guaranteeing freedom of medical decisions necessitates trying to regulate almost everything about a family's conduct, because even matters as mundane as nutrition have significant medical aspects. Furthermore, parents have so much control over their children that true medical autonomy is unobtainable, a parent can exert their control of finances or free time to de facto take over control of medicine regardless of what abstract rights supposedly exist. Theoretically, perhaps you can make it so that any teenager who wants to can see a doctor and have them do anything they want. But even this dramatic change is distinct from creating an actual right to medical autonomy, so long as the parent and teen live in the same household coercion is inevitable. In addition, even calling this coercion is misleading: give and take is what constitutes real relationships between people, and a rights based approach is too individualistic and cannot reflect this fundamental fact. Government is not responsible for mediating the way people treat each other, such a legalist approach saps all the value and vitality from our human connections. Disagreements between parents and children are inevitable but usually get resolved. Escalating such disagreements into court battles would be terrible for the family unit. Overall, the very idea of autonomy is flawed as an overidealized abstract principle with little relevance to lived experience. It is arguably even a harmful value, insert ableism literature here. Now, perhaps there are indeed some specific instances where children or doctors ought to be able to overrule parents, but it is not universally the case that an adolescent's decisions should outweigh their parents' views, and a "right" to medical "autonomy" is unwarranted.

Basically: a right to autonomy is bad; the idea is unworkable, ableist, and anti-communitarian. The answer to bad medical situations such as the AC examples does not truly lie in universal solutions or principles, although that might be a tempting lie, in reality dealing with bad situations calls for a variety of more specific and nuanced approaches, and no universal principles would actually end these problems.

Edited by Chaos

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please no one run abortion. 

 

I understand there's ground for it, but please no. 

??

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Yeah, after reading this, I don't see any other way the aff should write their case. So would you make that an observation, perhaps? (Sorry- I am so traditional LD that it hurts anyone that is progressive. That's just how my circuits are.) And after that observation, just carefully wording the case to where it points to you fulfilling the resolution by definition yet effectively limiting the topic?

 

If you're stuck in defending the whole resolution mode because your LD is so conservative that it would look like what i did in high school, the right observation to make is:

 

The resolution doesn't demand the affirmative show that adolescents should have autonomy for all medical decisions.  Rather, the indefinite phrasing means you affirm if adolescents should have any autonomy to make medical decisions.  If I prove at least one situation where adolescent medical autonomy makes sense, you vote aff.

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The resolution doesn't demand the affirmative show that adolescents should have autonomy for all medical decisions.  Rather, the indefinite phrasing means you affirm if adolescents should have any autonomy to make medical decisions.  If I prove at least one situation where adolescent medical autonomy makes sense, you vote aff.

mmm-- that sounds kinda similar to taint, which is not really fair

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any plan ideas? this topic has very little aff ground :/

There is tons of aff ground, way more than neg.

Plans:

-hormone therapy/sex change 

-physician assisted suicide

-tons of plans for certain conditions (i.e. when the parent is putting the child at risk, or when the child wants religious freedom)

-pregnancy/abortion related things

-confidentiality (not telling parents) but there's probably some inherency issues

Kritikal positions:

-queer (the hormone therapy/sex change plan)

-fem (pregnancy related things)

-physician assisted suicide has lots of K aff ground, look on the college policy wiki from this past year

-potentially ableism

-potentially race

Phil/FW heavy positions:

-obviously autonomy/freedom

-maybe kant

-idk, I'm not a heavy FW debater

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mmm-- that sounds kinda similar to taint, which is not really fair

 

No, that's arguing that you basically get a plan.  Except in traditional LD you don't get a plan, so you have to argue the resolution's phrasing means you only have to defend one type of case rather than all possible cases.

 

Anyway, it's rather obviously logically required by the resolution structure.  Given: Resolved: Adolescents ought to have the right to make autonomous medical choices.

 

The negation of that sentence is "Adolescents ought not have the right to make autonomous medical decisions."  And that statement is false if there exists any medical decision that adolescents should have the right to make autonomously.

Edited by Squirrelloid

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neg is easy lots of CPs, easy and very visibly true ableism arguments, etc

Could someone explain the ableism link to me? For some reason the only link I can think of is very tenuous and is probably offensive (the disabled don't have autonomy, that basically destroys agency)

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(the disabled don't have autonomy, that basically destroys agency)

 

That impact makes no sense, you realize? By its own reasoning, the impact is inevitable. Still, although I consider it illogical and agree it is offensive as worded, I don't think this sentiment is 100% wrong. It could possibly be adapted into a more reasonable idea if you play with the notion for a while and are willing to change certain aspects of it. There is probably something vaguely similar to what you say that's probably true, even though that specific impact is incoherent.

 

I'm willing to sketch out a few ideas, but these should be elaborated on and researched further and adjusted by someone who does actual topic research. I don't believe all these ideas, needless to say. As a matter of fact, I'm not really sure to what extent I believe most of them. I am just playing a role, exploring an unfamiliar set of ideas, performing a part. Take this as inspiration, not truth or a declaration of my personal beliefs.

 

1. "Autonomy", in philosophical history, means one individual straight white able bodied neurotypical male acting on behalf of their own interests. But there are an infinite number of ways in which human beings are limited. Some of these ways aren't even bad. There is no reason that those few qualities are more important dimensions of moral choice than any of the other infinite aspects or limitations human beings have. The affirmative might object that they don't consider all of these things aspects of autonomy, but that ought to make about as much sense as an assertion by a racist that they're not really racist, since they don't dislike Asian people. Woo, congratulations, you're deploying the concept of autonomy in a way slightly less problematic than it has generally been deployed throughout history! Grouping all these different qualities together as a specific idea ignores all their particular differences and doesn't really make sense. That's why the protest that race is no longer considered a disability falls flat, it misses the big picture problem with the method. This grouping only sorta makes sense if you are viewing humans from a dehumanizing paradigm of bigotries that sees some differences as tolerably normal and others as inexcusably weird. Such norms exist because they've been useful tools to the managerial state, and this is arguably an additional reason that they are evil or that they will have bad consequences. Autonomy's idealization is often used as a reason that disabled people are unimportant or bad. But it's relationships between people that makes people valuable to one another, not the ability of a person to hypothetically survive on their own on a desert island or to hypothetically make a decision without being influenced by anyone else. It is okay to ask for help. It is okay to not be in control. It is even okay if your relationships with others involve unbalanced power dynamics, who can truly claim otherwise about their own relationships? Relationships are important, and the proper solution to specific bad relationships is not to end relationships' prominent overall role in decisionmaking, it's just to fix the relationship. Finally, the idea of autonomy kind of neglects context, it assumes context does not exist and/or is irrelevant to understanding. I think some of my earlier arguments about spillovers show why that is not true. This sort of attempt to strip the individual from context is doomed to fail and based on bad values. Since it is bad in this way, it probably has some ableist implications, although I can't actually think of any presently. I've done enough already. Do your own work here.

 

2. I feel like an argument about medicine and mind-body dualism could be made, but at the moment such an argument escapes me. Dualism is fun and strategically wonderful to criticize however, so I recommend someone else pursues this line of thought. Let me know if you think of anything interesting here, please?

 

3. Interdependent decision-making might be better than independent decisionmaking for many or most people, as communitarianism would argue. This seems likely even more true for disabled people. For example, consider medical decisions about the treatment of mentally retarded teenagers. These teens are likely not well served by a rights approach that uses idealized assumptions about their independent decisionmaking skills. Instead, our approach should be about figuring out how to guarantee relationships between the parent, teen, and doctor which will lead to optimal care and informedness. Neglecting situations involving disabilities and focusing on other situations that seem more "typical" is problematic, especially if your ideas of what is and is not typical are based on inaccurate or unjustified assumptions. Aren't disabled people among those who use the medical system most? Is it really true that most situations where certain rights are potentially important involve agents who are idealized models of autonomy, or is that just the affirmative's assumption? Also, edge cases illustrate general principles, so they are worth focusing on regardless. Not all teenagers suffer from mental retardation, true enough, but all teenagers have limited decisionmaking capabilities. Therefore, drawing a hard distinction between these sort of things is unreasonable. Insisting that the disabled are merely a specific exception to a general rule is naive. A rule only reveals itself through specific instances, and if you try to ignore specifics and focus on some arbitrary abstract idea of a general case then you are all but guaranteed to lose your way.

 

These arguments all kind of blend into each other. Possibly they could be cleaned up and distinguished from each other better than I've done here. It's also possible that they will inevitably wind tight round another like threads of a strong rope. To the extent this is true, I consider it a sign that this constitutes a good potential strategy, but there is an unfortunate danger of confusing judges with it if you are not careful.

 

I think one strength of these arguments about disability is that the sort of challenging questions they ask implicitly reverse the burden of proof in the judge's mind in a way that would be unfair if done blatantly. If you assert that the affirmative is making ableist assumptions about what is or is not true, the affirmative will likely start trying to backpedal without taking the smart step of pointing out that you haven't proved the converse. I think it would be very difficult to resolve one way or the other the question of whether or not most cases involving the resolution would also involve people with poor decisionmaking skills, but this practically dodges the question through an appeal to moral indignation. This argument is a little sneaky and evil in the way it can potentially exploit judge biases. Oh well. This isn't the first time I've created a monster. Go forth to feed it, my children.

Edited by Chaos

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Anyway, it's rather obviously logically required by the resolution structure.  Given: Resolved: Adolescents ought to have the right to make autonomous medical choices.

 

The negation of that sentence is "Adolescents ought not have the right to make autonomous medical decisions."  And that statement is false if there exists any medical decision that adolescents should have the right to make autonomously.

Couldn't the converse of the resolution also be "Adolescents ought have not the right to make autonomous medical decisions"? Which would imply that neg has to show why any medical autonomy would be bad?

 

I had an apriori loaded up but looks like I can't use it :(

Edited by 8off

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