The Instigator
mtaylor0214
Pro (for)
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The Contender
blueivycarter
Con (against)
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Are there situations where torture can be minimally morally permissible?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/10/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 709 times Debate No: 66731
Debate Rounds (4)
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mtaylor0214

Pro

Morgan Taylor
Torture Debate Argument

(1.) For this argument, torture will be defined as the infliction of intense pain with the purpose of coercion.
(2.) In order for torture to be minimally, morally acceptable, there needs to be an extreme emergency.
(3.) An extreme emergency can be defined as a situation where innocent people will be seriously harmed within a short time span.
(4.) An example of an extreme emergency would be a bomb going off in a city.
(5.) And serious harm is either death or near fatal injury.
(6.) What is moral is ethical.
(7.) In order for someone to be an ethical person, he or she must wish to preserve innocent life.
(8.) In most situations, an ethical person will attempt to make decisions that benefit the largest amount of innocent people possible.
(9.) When there are no alternate options in an emergency situation, torture must be taken into account.
(10.) To disregard it and allow people to die would be unethical.
(11.) However, torture should only be used when certain conditions are met.
(12.) There is a good chance of success.
(13.) For example, if the torture victim may not know any pertinent information, then it would be immoral to torture them.
(14.) There are no other options.
(15.) If there are alternative, less harmful solutions to the situation, then using torture is immoral.
(16.) There is no time left.
(17.) If less time is available then more extreme measures are minimally, morally acceptable.
(18.) The lives in question are innocent.
(19.) This condition is used to rule out participants in a conflict.
(20.) If the people in harm's way had nothing to do with the conflict, then it would be permissible to torture someone in order to save their lives.
(21.) There are no good reasons for the innocents' death.
(22.) The action of the torture victim resulted in the threat to the innocents in peril.
(23.) If the torture victim did not perform any actions to cause or aide in the emergency situation, then they should not be tortured.
(24.) If a situation rises where these conditions are met, then that use of torture is minimally morally permissible.
(25.) By using these conditions as a guideline, the torture utilized in extreme situations will contain some boundaries.
(26.) These boundaries will ensure that the torture used stays away from maximally immoral territory.
(27.) Therefore, there are some situations where torture is minimally, morally plausible.

Non Controversial: 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 13, 14, 15, 18, 19, 21, 23
Controversial: 2.) This is true because an extreme emergency is the only kind of situation where torture is minimally morally acceptable. Any other situation would make torture unnecessary . 9.) People who believe that torture is never an option would disagree with this. However, it is true because an emergency requires all options, no matter how controversial, to be explored. 11.) If these conditions are true, then there exist a situation where torture is minimally morally acceptable. 12.) Opponents of torture would disagree that there is any chance of success in torture as the victim would say anything to make the pain stop. I believe that the potential for correct information makes torturing worth the breach in rights. 16.) This statement is used to give guidelines to a situation wherein torture would be minimally morally justifiable.17.) As the amount of time before the emergency situation is realized decreases, planning and persuading becomes too time consuming. Thus, in order to prevent the crisis, stronger, faster action must be utilized. 20.) This question comes down to the lives of the many over the few conundrum. However, in this situation the decision is made easier as the torture victim is not being killed, they are only being harmed. Thus, to inflict pain on someone for a short period of time rather than allowing someone else to completely lose their life is minimally morally acceptable. 22.) This statement is true because torturing someone who is not directly involved in the act do not deserve to be tortured and thus such torture would be immoral. 24.) This statement is plausible because if these conditions are met then this situation would be extreme enough to warrant the use of torture.
blueivycarter

Con

1.Torture is to inflict severe pain on some non-consenting defenseless, but the purpose does not need to be, breaking their will, and the torture does not necessarily have to be mental or physical.
2.Psychological forms of torture and ill-treatment have long-lasting effects, which very often have the most long-lasting consequences for victims, commonly include: isolation, threats, humiliation, mock executions and witnessing the torture of others. The consequences listed are not examples of minimalist torture.
3.There are no acceptable cases of torture due to extreme emergencies because they are not minimally, morally acceptable.
4.Just as torture can be considered an effective form of punishment in some instances, it can also be considered ineffective.
5.Killing is not an effective form of punishment because ultimately the non-consenting defenseless is killed and the now purpose of the torture is null and void.
6.Morality is the distinction between what"s permissible and impermissible in respect to harm.
7.Killing ends someone"s life, while torture can just put a person"s life at stake, but killing and torture cannot be considered moral because torture ethically wrong, and what is ethical is moral.
8.There are no extreme emergencies where it is ever acceptable to torture someone. Even during an extreme emergency there are moral ways to go about saving an individual or a society at stake.
9.The level of morality is not dependent on what is at stake. The two are irrelevant from one another. If torture is being committed regardless of what is at stake, the morality level is negligent at that point.
10.Torture that is minimally, morally accepted does not come down to who is being more affected. By definition, minimalistic torture is dependent on the victim"s will being broken temporarily.
11.Yes, many individuals believed that torturing terrorist groups would lead to information about Al Qaida, but that does not mean the torture is minimally, morally acceptable.
12.The word acceptable, by definition is able to be agreed on; suitable. The term acceptable has nothing to do with tolerance or being approved by majority.
13.Whether torture is minimalist or maximalist, temporary or long-term, no form of torture is morally acceptable.
14.Therefore, there are no cases of torture that are minimally, morally acceptable.
Debate Round No. 1
mtaylor0214

Pro

Thank you for accepting the debate! Your definition of torture is broader, in my argument I'd like to focus on a specific type of torture with specific intentions. The consequences of your second premise, as you yourself stated, is a result of maximalist torture. The torture I am arguing for is minimalist torture, which would not cause those types of damage. Premise three is a restatement of your conclusion. Premises four and five do not reference the torture I am arguing for which does not kill the victim, but rather puts them through temporary pain. I agree with your definition of morality, however your following premises seem to imply that anything that causes harm is not morally permissible. This is obviously untrue as it would categorize self-defense and accidental killing as morally wrong. I agree that even in extreme emergencies there are other options available, but there are situations where all alternatives have been exhausted. In response to premises 9 and 10, I ask that you consider a hypothetical. If you had to choose between causing a person who is attempting to set off a bomb in New York City severe pain, and allowing several thousand people to die, which would you pick? Also, consider that it is not only these people being harmed it is also their families, and our country as a whole. I understand this example is a clich"", however it still stands a as valid hypothetical. The worth of a single life argument does not even come into play here as the person being harmed is not being killed. Anyway, premise 11 does not fit into my constraints as under my guidelines torture is only reserved for extreme emergencies. Torturing people for information on an opposing group does not constitute an emergency. And in regards to premise 12, I never refer to the majority's opinion in my argument.

To further support my argument, I'd like to call upon a real situation where torture was used in a minimally morally acceptable way. As you will see, this situation follows the rules I had previously outlined. In Germany, a 27-year-old (Magnus Gafgan) kidnapped an 11-year-old boy and then murdered him. Despite the boy being dead, Gafgan still demanded ransom money from the family. When he received the money he didn't tell the family the boy was dead, nor give and indication that he was going to give him back. The police apprehended Gafgan and interrogated him for hours in an attempt to find the missing boy. Believing the child's life to be at risk, the police resorted to threatening torture on Gafgan. Gafgan told the police where the boy's body was, and admitted that he was dead. Despite the fact that the police did not have to physically resort to torture, it would be minimally morally justifiable. There was a very good chance of success as Gafgan was not trained to resist torture, nor did he have any beliefs or causes to protect. Nor were there any other options or time left. As far as the police knew, there was an eleven-year-old imprisoned somewhere who was running out of time. They tried to reason with Gafgan, and they had no other leads which could aide them in finding the boy. Thus, torture was the last option they had to resort to. The life in question was most certainly innocent, and he had no part in his kidnapping. This child definitely had no reason to be taken from his family, and his death was completely in the hands of Gafgan. Thus, this situation demonstrates an instance where torture is minimally morally acceptable.
blueivycarter

Con

Yes, I suppose torture being moral depends on the reasoning for the act. But, is killing ever moral? Maybe in some particular cases in the law it is justifiable, but that doesn"t mean it is moral. With torture you may live afterwards, but you can suffer from the horrible affects of torture later in your life; Such as damaged self-identity and a person"s autonomy. Torturing someone is never understandable because it is never moral. Arguing the topic of death row is irrelevant and incomparable to torture, so why bring it up in the first place? A law can be legal, but still be morally unacceptable. Therefore, there are no cases of torture that are minimally, morally acceptable.
Debate Round No. 2
mtaylor0214

Pro

Your first sentence seems to concede that if there is a moral reasoning behind the act then the act itself is moral. This statement contradicts with your third sentence. If something is justified in the law then there probably is a moral reason behind it.
While the victim may be killed in an act of torture, it is not a necessary condition. The torturers can abstain from doing extreme damage to the victim, thereby sparing their life.
It is true that the horrible effects of torture can cause serious physical and mental ailments. But, by committing a crime which warrants an extreme emergency, the victim has already recognized that they might be thrown in jail or sentenced to death. Thus, their lives and freedom have already been forfeit by their own actions.
I need you to clarify your reason for saying, "Torturing someone is never understandable because it is never moral" we are currently arguing to see whether torture can be moral or not. Also, I never mentioned death row in my previous argument, this statement is going off topic.
I would also like to clarify that my argument is not arguing that torture should be made legal. I am arguing that there are situations which warrant such extreme measures. As previously stated in the Gafgan example, I believe this to be one situation. If the police did torture Gafgan, and word of it got out they would have to be punished. But, I believe that they would have been right in their actions.
Therefore, there are minimally morally acceptable reasons for torture.
blueivycarter

Con

Not everyone abides by the law, and not all laws are accepted or to be more specific, morally accepted. People protest laws every single day; Laws are changed, passed, and altered all of the time. What act may serve for the greater good does not make killing or torturing someone morally acceptable. However, killing and torturing someone can be justified. I still do not understand why you would compare death row and torture because they both entirely different things. With death row you are not breaking someone"s will; you are simply ending their life as a punishment for a crime that they committed. On the other hand, torture has a purpose in which you physically inflict pain in order to break a person"s will. Electrocuting someone in a chair to end their life is incomparable to torture; they are entirely difference. As stated of above, the two things have no correlation with one another. Just because it legal in some states for someone to be put on death row does not mean it is morally acceptable. Moreover, torture is not morally acceptable either. Comparing death row to torture is an invalid argument. Therefore, there are no cases of torture that are morally, minimally acceptable.
Debate Round No. 3
mtaylor0214

Pro

mtaylor0214 forfeited this round.
blueivycarter

Con

1.Torture is to inflict severe pain on some non-consenting defenseless, but the purpose does not need to be, breaking their will, and the torture does not necessarily have to be mental or physical.
2.The level of morality within the torture is irrelevant because torture is not moral to begin with.
3.Torture cannot be justified as minimally, morally acceptable by saying it is "needed".

4.Yes, emergency cases that "call" for torture are for the better of the greater good, but once again that does not justify torture being minimally, or morally acceptable.
Non-controversial: Premise 3 and 4 are not controversial because there is no way prove that some cases of torture are minimally, morally acceptable.

Controversial: Premise 1 and 2 are controversial because what defines torture can be argued; there are various definitions.
Debate Round No. 4
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