Permissibility Triggers

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Permissibility triggers are arguments that claim a framework would deem all actions permissible. That is, a framework that triggers permissibility would be unable to provide an active obligation for or prohibition against taking any action. Permissibility triggers can be strategic if a debater feels they are behind on the contention-level offense, as a debater could trigger permissibility to force the judge to vote on permissibility rather than the contention-level offense. Additionally, debaters can read many permissibility triggers against the justification of their opponent's framework, where even one going conceded could present major problems for the opponent.

Most permissibility triggers are in the form of a calculation indict ("calc indict") that claims a framework fails to guide action. Calc indicts will be a reason why a framework's standard fails or is impossible to achieve. Notably, for a permissibility trigger to be relevant in the round, the standard being used in the round must fail, but that must not be a reason to use the other debater's framework's standard.

If one debater's syllogism claims , where is the standard, a permissibility trigger would mean that is unable to guide action. However, if the other debater claims that failing is a reason to use an alternative standard , the permissibility trigger would no longer be relevant because we would have a different, legitimate standard to use.

To avoid this issue, the debater running the permissibility trigger must concede the other premises of the framework (i.e. ) so that only possible standard we could use in the round is . Then, the debater triggering permissibility must claim that itself fails.


Utilitarianism triggers permissibility:

[A] Induction fails: The logic of relying on past events to predict the future is circular because our only evidence is that in the past, past events have been able to predict the future.

[B] Aggregation fails: It is impossible to weigh between different forms of pain, such as the pain of breaking an arm versus a migraine.

[C] Butterfly effect: Every action causes a chain-reaction of consequences, so it is impossible to accurately predict the consequence of any one action.

[D] No culpability: It is impossible to determine who is responsible for any action, since all actions have an infinite number of pretenses, so we cannot assign moral blame.

[E] Infinite universe: The universe is infinitely large so there is an infinite amount of pain and pleasure, which would be impossible to maximize or minimize.