The Society discussed a question that is over 2500 years old in Resolved: I am my brother’s keeper. Mr. Wang, making his induction, began by explaining that we are all connected as humans and that we should care for our fellow man, unlike what Cain did in the story of Cain and Abel, the question’s origin. Using the analogy of a girl with depression, he showed how we should care for others and be our brother’s keeper. Furthermore, human bonds are an absolute necessity for human life. Mr. Wang concluded by arguing that being our brother’s keeper strengthens the community. Ms. Krawczyk, also making her induction, began by pointing out that the negation is not full of selfish people; rather, the negation has many people who care for others. The line is drawn on when helping others imposes a cost on the self as we are ultimately our own keeper. She continued that freedom has costs and that social ills are inevitable as well as the fact that helping can hurt. She concluded that a vote for the negation is a vote for marginalized groups and that we should decided what to do based on our own values. Mr. Wooten argued that what defines us most is our characters and that being our brother’s keeper fosters good character. Furthermore, as social animals, we have an obligation to be the best influence on other people as possible. Ms. Miller applied the logic behind being my brother’s keeper on the systemic level to show the failures of systems like communism as well as argued that we must be everyone’s keeper even the most evil of people if we affirm. Ultimately, she argued that self-preservation is on the negation and that we must negate because of the many people who violate the reciprocity required of being everyone’s keeper.
Mr. Dulik began the floor portion of the debate by cautioning against using extreme positions on either side and that our inter-connectivity defines us and that it is tough, but we should affirm. Mr. Snow argued that we cannot be held responsible for the actions of another. Mr. Spagnuolo pushed the idea that we need should affirm because of the connections that exist between all humans. Ms. Melendez told the story of how she was the keeper for her younger brothers and how that being a keeper is more of a parental role. Mr. Prindiville asked the Society to look at the resolution from the opposition direction for when we need someone to be our keeper. Mr. Mitchell pointed out that we sometimes fail when we try to help others and that this can result in doing more harm than good. Annie Wang (COL ’16) pushed the Society to reconsider what keeper meant as someone who is being aware of the responsibility of my impact on others. Laura Kurek (SFS ’16) asked the question of whether we would save ourselves or her twin we had never met in a fire to demonstrate that we take our own self interest first. Robin Giles (COL ’16) told of how vampire bats, which need to feed every thirty minutes or they die, give blood to those that fail on a hunt to show we are biologically inclined to be our brother’s keeper. Tim Rosenberger (COL ’16) told the story of the Sesame Street version of the gift of the Magi to show we shouldn’t help others if it causes us to sacrifice ourselves. Andrea Cohen (SFS ’15) argued that what the affirmation is actually arguing for is helping others within a person’s means. Agree Ahmed (SFS ’15) used the example of the minimal US savings rate to show that thinking we can receive help lands up hurting everyone. Mr. Donovan used historical examples to show the benefit to believing that we are our brother’s keeper. Mr. Bade wished that we were at a state where we are our brother’s keeper but showed that we are not even close to being there. Ms. Wynter asked the Society to look at a larger picture and see that being our brother’s keeper is a disposition and way of living life that sees others as equals. Vice President Arber argued that we are ultimately responsible for ourselves and that the part of ourselves and our agency that is disconnected from others prevents us from being obligated to them. President Marsh responded that we have an obligation to take care of others when we can because we are all human. Mr. Kendrick distinguished between benevolence which is gaining from helping others and altruism to show that we actually have gains from giving to others. Mr. Askonas brought the debate back to Cain and Abel and asked the Society to recognize the divine in each human to show that we should recognize everyone as humans. Mr. Mouch brought up the fact that not everyone is social and some live without contact with others. Mr. Edgar responded that in order for us to maximize our potential we must affirm and employed the analogy of a zoo keeper being expected to take care of all of the animals to further his argument.
Ms. Miller used her keynote to argue that the negation is right for being cautious about the logical extension and application of affirmation logic. She also argued that we can negate and still want to help others. Mr. Wooten pointed out that we cannot be our best selves if we separate ourselves from Society. He argued that we can be better by affirming. Ms. Krawczyk emphasized the facts that we cannot help everyone and that help can also do more harm than good. Moreover, we are responsible for ourselves only and that following our agency is what ultimately matters. Mr. Wang used the example of financial aid to demonstrate the importance of being my brother’s keeper in the real world. He concluded the debate by arguing that society would improve if we try to follow the the mantra that I am my brother’s keeper.
The Society voted 40-1-10 to strongly affirm the resolution.
The Society inducted Mr. Wang and Ms. Krawczyk! Huzzah!
Christopher Michael DiMisa