The Mighty Have Fallen

Weekly Debates

Hello readers of the Philodemic blog. Today, we have a special amanuensis emeritus blog post. On Thursday, we discussed the first Merrick resolution which read Resolved: Might makes right. Mr. Berryman guided us in our pursuit by defining the two purposes of Merrick season as rationality and passion via the words of the great Thoreau. The Society was urged to look at the resolution via the scopes of history and psychology. The moralities of many are based on authority as what we learn as children becomes ingrained in our essence. Mr. Berryman closed by pointing out the fact that on the aggregate, challenging beliefs is the exception. Mr. Spagnuolo took the reins of the negation by citing examples of those who were able to resist authorities like Gandhi and the French Resistance. From there, he argued that people do not give into the will of others as the human spirit ignores might. Our intuitive nature rejects authority. Humans strive for what they believe is right. Ultimately, Mr. Spagnuolo asked the Society to believe that might cannot make right in people’s minds. 

Mr. Quinn began the floor portion of the debate by discussing the correlation between the evolution of morality with power. Ms. Wynter drew the distinction between might making and might making right and argued that it is the former and not the latter that exists. Mr. Snow turned the debate to psychology by describing an experiment with monkeys that demonstrated the influence of authority as well as argued that values must be able to spread themselves in order to survive. Mr. Desnik responded that the key to might is force which means the affirmation is unable to win. Ms. Melendez told the story of different perspectives on a statute that, depending on the group, either reminds people of making a better life or brutal violence but the supports of the better life are in power and so the statue remains. Mr. Whitfield argued that the key to the debate is God as the mightiest force and that might only wants to be right. Mr. Donovan quoted the Bible with the words: “Beware the little foxes” and cited Ugandan opinions on homosexuality being rooted in British colonial values to demonstrate that indoctrination of values. Ms. Wood responded that little foxes crack the system and demonstrate that might does not make right. Mr. DiMisa, your emeritus blogger, cited the psychological experiments that feature people following orders to electrocute someone that they believe to be real because a person in a lab coat told them to for the purposes of demonstrating the influence that authority has on the mind. Mr. Monod referenced Superman to demonstrate that might is derived from justice and not the other way around. Vice President Christensen cautioned the Society to shy away from extremes and reminded the Society that power does not need to come from a gun; in addition, we are not separate beings as we respond to forces that are constantly pushing on us. Mr. Miller cleverly turned the resolution around and deemed that “right makes might.” Laura Kurek (SFS’16) then spoke of Weber’s definition of the state, and her professor’s experiences in Moscow. Caroline Egan (COL’15) brought the debate to the world of science while describing the threat that small vines can play on the largest trees in the rain forest. Josh Weiner (COL’15) responded by citing cases such as Gandhi and the bubonic plague. Mac Dineen (COL’14) then reminded the floor that  when time erodes even the greatest empires, they are capable of turning into sand.

We then returned to regular member speaking time with Ms. Brosnihan’s assertion that might determines what is right and wrong. Mr. Taft  addressed the point of adaptability and how we cannot be deterministic in the debate. Mr. Lim then contrasted soft and hard power’s role in might. Mr. Askonas reminded us all of my favorite philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, and his significant contributions to the understandings of morality. Mr. Petallides brought our favorite little foxes back into play and asserted that there is not anything more mightier than them. Mr. Dulik dramatically painted a picture of Julius Caesar’s rise and fall from power in Rome. Mr. Wooten examined the multiple forms of power influencing us and insinuated that power is more than simply violence. Mr. Bade warned of how powers free of constraint have the ability to commit horrible atrocities. Chancellor Marsh then presented what he believed to be truth at the core: those who have might can assert what is right.

Mr. Spagnuolo began his closing keynote with the sentiment that this is a positive debate. Fusing together the ideas of Gandhi  Kissinger, and hard power, he reemphasized that the ideas of the disenfranchised and every day people are what comprise the intricacies of history. Mr. Berryman, under the veil of 1984, warned of the dangers of confirmation bias and the difficulties of deviating from the norm. Finally, he concluded the debate with the sentiment that this discussion deserved to be weighed by facts, not emotions.

The Society voted 28-1-34 to negate.

Merrick Points

Mr. Spagnuolo-5

Mr. Dulik-4

Mr. Petallides-3

Mr. Berryman-2

Mr. Donovan-1



Your illustrious amanuensis emeritus,

Christopher Michael DiMisa 

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