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Ethics of Mass Effect #1 - The Rachni

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Voting Style: Open Point System: Select Winner
Started: 10/16/2015 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 11 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 922 times Debate No: 80926
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I decided to start this, much in the same line of bsh1's Star Trek debates, to start a series of debates about Mass Effect. I love Mass Effect not only because of the rich storyline but also because of the tough ethical questions and dilemmas that the game forces you to face down and confront. This debate series is intended to replicate those questions and debate about the proper course of action between the two options that the game presents to you.

Background Information:

In Mass Effect 1, the story takes Shepard to the planet of Noveria to track down an asari matriarch known as Lady Benezia. She had known ties to Saren, the rogue Spectre who was working for the Reapers, and Lady Benezia likely knew where Saren was or what he was up to. After you defeat Lady Benezia, you discover that Saren and Lady Benezia's work on Noveria was to produce a rachni army.

The racni were a previously believed to be extinct race of bug-like creatures. In the past they were the cause of the Rachni Wars, a bloody war that claimed millions of lives and forced the Salarians to uplift an entire race to galactic power specifically to fight the Rachni and force them beyond the edges of known space, known as the Krogan. The Krogan were believed to have eliminated the Rachni, extinguishing the species entirely. But, as the game reveals to us, a single egg remained on a derelict ship in deep space. It was the egg of a Rachni queen, and Saren's plan was to use that queen to replicate a Rachni army to use for his deeds.

After defeating Lady Benezia, Shepard comes face to face with the Rachni queen and must decide whether to release the Rachni queen from imprisonment, or to kill the Rachni queen. Leaving the queen there wasn't an option: the facility was in ruins and leaving the Rachni there for Saren to return and get was a bad idea.

The Resolution: Shepard ought to release the Rachni queen from captivity rather than kill the Rachni queen.

A few rules:

1. The debate is a comparative debate between the two positions of release and kill. The burden of proof is split between both positions. Both sides must advocate for why their position is the correct ethical choice.

2. The debate will center within the confines of the information you have available within that game. For example, knowing that if you release the Rachni queen, you will later run into the Rachni queen again in Mass Effect 3 cannot be used as it is outside the scope of the information known within that game and within that decision specifically.

3. As much as I'm known for being one, kritiking the topic is against the rules. I want this to be an honest, earnest discussion of ethics in relation to Mass Effect, and would prefer to stay on track if at all possible.

The debate should be impossible to accept. If you would like to take this debate, leave a note in the comments section and I will choose someone in a few days.


I am eager to see how this goes down. I accept! Also since it wasn't stated, just to clarify any knowledge that could have been gained before the encounter is usable within the Mass Effect 1 game and lore
Debate Round No. 1


Thanks to my opponent for accepting. I'm going to propose a framework for evaluating the round under, and then extrapolate two arguments for sparing the Rachni Queen rather than killing the Rachni Queen.


I propose a framework of evaluating the resolution under the guise of Kantian deontology. What Kant argues, among other things, is that we ought to act in two ways: the first in that we can will our action to be taken by every other rational actor, and that we treat others as ends in themselves and not as means to a different end. What do I mean by these?

To act in a way that you can will your action to every other rational actor means that your action must be universizable. And what I mean by universizable is that in the grand context of every other situation of similar context, were any other rational actor in your place, that they would rationally make the same decision that you made.

And to treat others as ends in themselves rather than as a means to another end is to respect the individual worth of everyone to not be treated as tools for other people's use. To use someone as a means to another end is to say that they aren't valuable in themselves, but rather that they are only valuable to achieve some other sort of end, which demeans their individual worth.

So it's my job to show that sparing the Rachni Queen better meets Kant's views of morality than killing the queen does.

Argument One: Right to Self-Determination:

I argue that all forms of intelligent life, human or otherwise, have a right to self-determination of themselves and their race. By self-determination I don't mean that I make decisions for all the white people in existence (i.e. I don't say that all white people have to wear red shirts and blue jeans). What I mean is that I ought to be in charge of all the decisions directly responsible to my own person, and humanity ought to be responsible for all the decisions directily responsible to their own persons. No other person should make decisions about what happens to me, and no other race should make decisions about what happens to humanity. Two reasons this is true:

1. To determine someone else's decisions is to treat them not as an end within themselves, but as a mean to some other kind of end. To say that my opponent only should wear red shirts is to say that "my opponent is only useful/relevant/moral when he's wearing red shirts", which uses my opponent for the ultimate end of red shirt wearing, not as an end in himself. Only through self-determination can we say that I have the right to act as I'm an end within myself and not someone else using me for some different end.

2. To determine someone else's decisions isn't something that we can will upon all other rational actors. I may decide that my opponent should only wear red shirts, but another person might think that red looks bad on him and that he should only wear blue shirts. A third person might think we're both wrong and that he should wear black shirts. Making decisions for others can never be truly universalized, meaning that we ought not make decisions about the fate of others.

This has two implications on the round as it pertains to the Rachni Queen.

First, killing the Rachi Queen violates both of these principles. It violates the principle of treating others as ends in themselves as we're killing the Rachni to secure future safety for us and to prevent another Rachni Wars from occuring. This uses the death of the Rachni for the end of our safety, which uses the Rachni as a means to another end rather than as an end in itself. And it violates the principle of universizability because not everyone else can be willed to make the same decision. Even members of Shepard's own party don't come to the conclusion of killing, ranging from various degrees of unwillingness. To quote from the wikia[1]: "Liara T'Soni and Tali'Zorah nar Rayya favor releasing the rachni, claiming the krogan went too far while Garrus Vakarian advocates alerting the Council and is against committing wholesale genocide, and Kaidan Alenko favors releasing the rachni only because he thinks killing a whole race is counterproductive to humans staying out of old galactic grudges." Killing the queen isn't an action that can be universalized upon all other rational actors, and, therefore, violates Kant's vision of ethics.

Second, Garrus is correct in that killing the queen constitutes the genocide of the Rachni species. If genocide is defined as the deliberate killing of a particular ethic group of people, then by killing off the last survivng Rachni, we're commiting genocide of an entire species and creating the extinction of an entire race. I shouldn't have to explain why these are in violation of both of Kant's principles, but genocide is most certainly not using the Rachni as a end in themselves, nor is genocide a universizable option.

So, to summarize, not only is killing this individual Rachni Queen in violation of Kant's principles, but killing the Rachni as a race is in violation of Kant's principles, which is two reasons why the Rachni Queen ought to be spared.

Argument Two: Con's Flawed Premise:

I expect Con to make the argument that the killing of the Queen is justified to prevent the possibility of another Rachni Wars. The Rachni Wars were particularly bloody and brutal and almsot lead to the extinction of all other Council Races before the introduction of the Krogan, and seemlingly the only solution then was to "kill or be killed". Letting the Rachni Queen live opens the possibility of her creating another army of Rachni and coming back to finish the job. To prevent future extermination of all life, rather than just the Rachni, the killing of the last Queen would seem justified. There's a few problems with this premise though.

The first is that this isn't how Rachni work culturally. To quote from the wikia[1]: "The rachni are a territorial race, determined to remain isolated from the rest of the galaxy. They normally inhabit extremely hazardous worlds, able to survive environments that would kill most sentient species. Should their territory be invaded on purpose or even by accident, they respond with swift and brutal force." This shows that by nature of thought, the Rachni aren't inherently expansionistic and looking for conflict. They prefer to stay isolated and out of the way of other races and forms of life, and only retaliate if they feel their land and homes have been invaded. This should tell us that if we let them go, and leave them alone, that there's no reason they'll ever come picking a fight against us again.

The second is that this queen is innocent of the atrocities of the war. We can tell from the dialogue of the situation at hand from conversing with the Queen that this Queen in particular was still in her egg, yet to be birthed into existence, while the Rachni Wars were being waged. And the Queen promises to "not attack other races again but find somewhere to live in peace, and teach her children about Shepard's forgiveness." should she be spared from death. This means we have a verbal guarantee that the Rachni Wars won't be replicated.

And, we should trust this verbal guarantee because a) of the cultural reasons why the Rachni don't like looking for fights, and b) because among the Rachni, the Queens are responsible for controlling the thinking of all other Rachni. The Rachni as a race operate under a form of hive-mind intelligence, meaning that the leaders control the thralls. And the Queens are the ones responsible for controlling the thoughts and actions of their thralls. With Queens having complete control over the thoughts and actions of the warriros under them, and this Queen in particular pledging to stay the hell away from everyone else, there's no reason not to believe that the Rachni will stay gone for good.


Through looking at Kant and his principles of moral decision making, we can see that killing the Rachni Queen isn't a universizable action and it uses not only the queen as a means to an end, but the race as a whole as a means to an end. Sparing the queen is the only option that is consistent with Kant's principles.


[1] -;


Thanks to my opponent for their opening argument. I am going to evaluate the situation under an opposing framework, and the arguments why killing the Rachni Queen is the better outcome rather than sparring.


I am arguing the resolution, under the premises of: Consequentialism, Moral Altruism, and Unilateralism. What these premises argue is that 1.) An ethical decision is judged by it's consequence, there for the "right" decision is based upon whichever decision produces the best outcome (ends justify the means). 2.) That Shepard has a moral responsibility to act in the Galaxy's best interest and not his own; Shepard must consider the outcome in the interest of the entire council and non council species. 3.) That the decision is ultimately right, if the most people will be satisfied with the result.

Premise 1: Ends justify the means

I argue this, as my opponent correctly assumed, that it is not a flawed premise. Shepard only knows the circumstances given and the weight of the outcome can only be interpreted through what he knows for certain. We know for certain that the Rachni put the Galaxy on the brink of annihilation when "accidentally" stumbled upon by the Salarians. The Council wanted to initiate negotiations, but were futile as the queens were unavailable for negotiation. (1) If they were not truly hostile, why did they need to expand themselves and fight back instead of facilitate a peaceful negotiation? Shepard only knows for certain the history of the Rachni, and knows the galaxy was put in great danger when they were encountered.

Therefore, it can be reasonably concluded that the Rachni have the ability to take this course of action again. By exterminating the Rachni, Shepard can be for certain that the queen will not lay more eggs and expand into a sizable force and take "revenge" for what had happened to her or her people. By allowing the Rachni to live, there is the very real possibility that the Rachni could be another force upon the galaxy again with hostile intentions.

Premise 2: Shepard cannot take his own feelings into consideration given his situation

Shepard must be objective in this situation. As he is dealing with another alien species, he must consider the galaxy's interest above his own. The Humans have no quarrel with the Rachni so therefore it creates a biased opinion. Wrex points out that "bugs writing songs about you" has no real value (1). Despite what the Rachni might think, the commander's decision must face the galaxy's expectations as well. As stated above, and to prevent redundancy, the galaxy only knows the horror the Rachni have caused. If the galaxy as a whole were represented in Shepard's situation, they would only know for certain that by eliminating the Rachni would prevent a future incident. To argue the moral responsibility of the galaxy in this situation IS a flawed premise, because the actual opinion of the galaxy is that the Rachni should be exterminated. By allowing the Rachni to live, presents the very justifiable reason they intend to cause another war which is not in the galaxy's best interest and there is no evidence to believe that war is not within the realm of possibility concerning the Rachni.

Premise 3: The Rachni's extermination presents no further negative consequences to the galaxy

By allowing the Rachni to live, presents the whole debate as it currently is presented. Exterminating the Rachni has no negative consequence on the galaxy, because up to this point the galaxy assumed the Rachni were extinct anyways. By eliminating the Rachni, the galaxy will still continue without the presence of the Rachni which they determined previously was to cause extinction. During the Rachni wars, the galaxy not only fought them back, but used every method possible to ensure extinction (1). If you allow the Rachni to live, there could be the possibility they may still be irrelevant to the galaxy but there is no way possible to guarantee this premise for certainty. Given the situation, the only real certainty is to continue along the presumed approach of the galaxy in the past, and that is to make sure the Rachni are extinct. This situation will cause the most happiness, because it can be assumed the galaxy is happy with their current situation considering the Rachni species altogether.


Altogether, given the situation, Shepard has a responsibility to act on the galaxy's best interest. It is with no certainty that allowing the Rachni to live will produce a better outcome; it can only be speculated. The galaxy's intent on the Rachni was made clear during the Rachni Wars that the species altogether must be eradicated and there is no real evidence (prior to the encounter) to prove that the intention has changed. It is absolutely certain, that by eliminating the Rachni the galaxy will function as it has, under the presumption the Rachni were extinct; only when you allow the queen to be set free do you present the possibility that things will change; and it is no guarantee that the Rachni will assuredly act on the galaxy's best interest.


Debate Round No. 2


Zaradi forfeited this round.


Because my opponent was tied up with something else, I will continue the debate and use this round to defend my position over my opponents and rebuttal what I can.

First, my opponent only uses 1 argument in their premise to justify sparing the Rachni Queen, which they use Kantian Deontology. This is supported by saying that killing the Rachni is only a means to an end and not an end itself. Also, that no one has the right to impose their will onto another being that is equal in rationality.

Second, my opponent says that my argument is a flawed premise. Stating that the Rachni living wouldn't technically constitute another galactic war because it is not how they work culturally. Secondly, that the Queen that is in the situation has no relation to the war of it's ancestors and therefore cannot be held accountable for their actions (ie: punishing a child for the crimes of the father).

Rebuttal and Defense 1:

The problem with using Kantian Deontology to support sparring the Rachni Queens life, is the fact that Kant's Ethics argue there is a moral absolutism involving rational actors. That a good will must be pursued, for the sake of good to happen. In this instance, as my opponent argues, Shepard must not commit genocide of an entire species because that is morally negligible and the Rachni are a species that can act rationally. This situation however isn't black and white. There is a very good reason for Shepard to act on a bad will for the sake of a good outcome, or a neutral outcome altogether. By the Rachni Queen dying, there is an absolute guarantee there will be no further incidents from this species. Only by allowing the species to live, is the possibility of a very bad outcome, come into question.

A hypothetical I'd like to add to the defense, aside from all the speculation of time travel and all the theories that come with it. If you were alive and had a choice to kill Adolf Hitler before the formation of 3rd Reich knowing what would happen if he does. Would you still kill him? Kantian Ethics would argue that you cannot kill him. So through inaction and pursuing a good will, you would have allowed a terrible man to commit terrible deeds.

Now to relate this to the argument at hand. Yes, there is no guarantee that the Rachni will cause further harm should they be allowed to live, however there is no certainty of the opposite being true either. Disposing of the Rachni ensures no negative actions will come from the decision. Also, the Rachni Queen states that she will not harm or cause war against the galaxy and that she only wants peace. My opponent naively believes that this is all the validation required to ensure that a peaceful outcome will come from the Rachni should you let them escape. Except, given the situation, The Rachni Queen literally is in a life or death situation made abundantly more important as she is the last of her species; any rational actor in her position would say anything to ensure their survival. She plays to the commander's sympathies, and "assures" that she wants is peace. Yeah, realistically this cannot be taken at face value for any reason. Especially given the Rachni's history.

Defense and Rebuttal 2:

It cannot be said for certain, that the Rachni being released from captivity would cause another great war in the future. However, as stated in my opening argument; there is no certainty that a peaceful situation would occur. My opponent argues that annihilating the Rachni species is immoral, but on whose authority I ask? The Galaxy has already determined the fate of the Rachni when they fought them to extinction then used techniques to ensure they would remain extinct. As stated in my opening argument, the Galaxy already assumes the Rachni to be no more. Allowing the Rachni to live is certainly going against what the Galaxy would want. Despite the chance that the Rachni may resolve to peace, the Rachni war was devastating in it's time. Also, commander Shepard has the duty to act on the Galaxy's best interest. Whether the Galaxy's stance is immoral or not, is irrelevant. The needs of the few never outweigh the needs of the many in a society.

Therefore, killing the Rachni Queen is not only in the Galaxy's best interest, it is already believed they are extinct anyways. To argue a moral duty in this situation doesn't stack up to Shpeard's role in the situation. Since there is no time to convene a council on the fate of the Rachni and a decision must be made between life or death; the only logical and clear choice is to maintain the status quo of ensuring the Rachni remain extinct.


There can be no assurance that letting the RQ live will ensure a peaceful outcome. Arguing that the RQ promises this, cannot for any reason be taken at face value given the circumstances. Letting the RQ live, and given their history, very well could go either way. Destruction or peace. There is no certainty of either one. Arguing that it is the morally right thing to do cannot be taken into account, when the society that Shepard represents has already determined the fate of the Rachni long ago. Shepard has a duty to act in the Galaxy's best interest, and the Galaxy's interest is clear that the Rachni should b extinct. Plus, ensuring the Rachni are extinct already maintains the Galaxy's presumption on the matter. Only by allowing the Rachni to live, do you present uncertainty. Benefit of the doubt, is not a logical choice to go against what society already expects in this situation, because ethics come into play. It may be wrong to commit murder or genocide, but if it guarantees another galactic war with the Rachni will happen, then the decision cannot be undermined due to ethical conundrums. Despite Shepard's moral compass, the Galaxy's interest is the most important in this situation.
Debate Round No. 3


Apparently I just enjoy waiting for the very last second to do things. I'm refuting his arguments then defending mine, then giving you an overview of why I'm still winning the round.


The debate is effectively a deontology vs. Utilitarianism debate. The vast majority of his contentions rely on us evaluating the round under a utilitarian framework in order to believe that they are true. This means that if I'm giving you plenty of reason to reject utilitiarianism, then you reject his arguments wholesail. This is doubly true because the vast majority of his refutations are predicated on accepting util in the first place. So if I'm giving you reason to reject utilitarianism, he loses virutally all offense in the round.


His entire argument is predicated around the idea that we ought to be looking for the greatest good for the greatest number of people and looking for the best ends of the situation. There's a lot of reasons you reject this view:

First, Util is incoherent since it is impossible to know which end is truly an end, and not merely an internal link to another impact. We can’t certainly know that a nuclear war won’t cause aliens to come give us fantastic technology, bettering everyone’s lives, so acting on perceived ends is insufficient. Further, it paralyzes actions since we can never stop calculating the infinite variables that would determine what ends are good, making it self-effacing since it cannot bring about good ends at all.

Second, in util there can never be 0% credence that a proposition is true and if someone makes a promise with unimaginably large benefits, soceity would have to take that action, even though they have no reason to believe that they would follow through. Since utility functions are unbounded, anyone who describes a big enough impact will always have their will carried out, making consequentialism self-effacing.

Third, on this resolution specifically, util is impossible. The resolution asks us to make a decision within that moment without knowing what the consequences are. This means that if we're evaluating the resolution under util, the resolution becomes impossible to actually evaluate because we can never know what the impacts of the action would be.

Fourth, Aggregation is nonsensical since combining disparate experiences is impossible. Ten headaches don’t become one migraine as there is no actor capable of experiencing the collective pain of ten people. Rather, moral theories must recognize individuals’ subjective claims, which doesn’t require that we minimize suffering since my happiness is only valuable for my sake - we can’t weigh between 2 individuals’ interests.

Fifth, we as human being are physically unable to aggregate harms, meaning we are physically unable to use util. Yudkowsky[1]:

    • "'I am deeply moved if I see one man suffering and would risk my life for him. Then I talk impersonally about the possible pulverization of our big cities, with a hundred million dead. I am unable to multiple one man's suffering by a hundred million.' Human emotions take place within an analog brain. The human brain cannot release enough neurotransmitters to feel emotion a thousand times as strong as the grief of one funeral. A prospective risk going from 10,000,000 deaths to 100,000,000 deaths does not multiply by ten the strength of our determination to stop it. It adds one more zero on paper for our eyes to glaze over, an effect so small that one must usually jump several orders of magnitude to detect the difference experimentally."

All of these responses are reasons for why utilitarianism is an impossible standard for us to actually use in this debate. This means you prefer deontology as it actually applies and allows us to make decisions in the scope of the resolution, making it the best framework to use to evaluate the round.

But sixth, aggregation prevents the moral status of persons. Kamm[2]:

    • "Suppose it was the case that I could kill the one to stop five from being killed ... it would mean that all of us were useable in a certain way measure of people's worth is what we judge is permissible to do tot them. It is true that the five will be mistreated if I don't harm the one in order to stop their mistreatment. But they will be still the kind of beings who are inviolable insofar as it is wrong to harm them in a certain way even in order to realise the greater good of minimising that type of harm. If it were permissible to kill the one to save the others, no one (the one or the five) would have the status of a highly inviolable being."

This has two impacts on the round: a) it destroys the value of life and living since using one for the benefit of a majority implicates everyone as useable in some way, which destroys any kind of inherent value that there is in living, and b) it means you prefer deontology over util because even if we can use the Rachni queen to possibly prevent some future war, we still have to respect the fact that by being alive grants us certain inviolable rights (i.e. the right not to be killed), which only deontology does. This means that my framework precedes his framework, meaning we have to fulfill my framework before we can look to his.

But seventh, even if we do look to utilitarianism as the framework to follow, affirming meets it. By eliminating a race from having any kind of impact on the calculus of the future at all, you eliminate not only the entire possibility of a Rachni future, which is a potentially infinite amount of suffering you would cause among the Rachni who would've lived but now have no possibility of a chance to live, but you close the door on a chance for them to positively benefit the galaxy, which removes the possibility of an infinite amount of happiness from being experienced. This means that even if we look to util, util would say to spare the Queen.

There's a few things that need to be clarified right here right now.

1) I do not advocate for or defend the actions of the Krogan during the Rachni Wars. I view the near destruction of the Rachni race as just as horrible as the negative position is in terms of genocide of a race.

2) That, in the context of this decision, THE RACHNI ARE OF ZERO THREAT TO THE GALAXY. One queen is pitiful compared to the entire combined might of a galaxy. There's zero harmful consequences to letting her live as she poses zero threat.

3) The entire premise of Con's case is ridiculous. Eliminating something that could potentially be threatening to our safety before it harms us to prevent that harm from possibly ever occuring is nonsensical. We don't outlaw all cars from being used because we could possibly get into an accident with them and possibly hurt other people.

4) There's no reason not to believe the Rachni Queen when she states her desire for peace because a) she wasn't alive during the Rachni Wars. She didn't experience any of the influencing that forced the Rachni to war, nor did she experience any animosity that would push her to possibly avenging her fallen kin. All she literally wants is to not die and to live by herself as her race is inclined to do, and b) she has control of the entire race. As the only queen in existence, she would have direct hive mind control over all Rachni created, meaning her control would guarantee no other Rachni Wars from occuring.

And, trust the cultural desire for isolation as it wasn't the Rachni who insigated the Rachni wars, rather the Salarians intruding on Rachni territory that started the Rachni Wars. The Rachni had all of eternity to expand outward, but didn't until the Salarians prodded them to defend themselves. This shows that if we don't prod them, they won't prod us.


The entirety of my opponent's responses are predicated on the fact that we accept util as the framework to evaluate the round under. I'm throughoughly rejecting the concept of util, so you look to deontology. Deontology clearly shows that killing the Rachni queen is wrong, as he's made no effort to reject this concept. This means that if you buy my framework, you affirm.

Moreover, I'm making arguments that show that even under util, we'd still affirm. This means that regardless of who's framework you buy, you affirm the resolution.


[1] -
[2] -


For my final round, I will rebuttal my opponents defense and then conclude why the resolution is wrong.

First Rebuttal

First, my opponent in the last round didn't even defend Deontology, only criticized my position and proposed that my framework be thrown out altogether because philosophical reasoning? Kantian framework also has it's faults; so then the debate would come down to the voters deciding which choice they like more, or whoever is more popular, since both framework's are merely philosophical ideologies. Nonetheless simple reasons why we can't completely use Deontology in this matter either.

Universizable actions: Kant doesn't explain what actions to perform as rational actors; he only tells us which maxims to act on. All they are is rules to base any decision you make, not an actual definitive suggestion as to which actions you should take. Therefore you can't disprove Kant's ethics per-say as applicable to the situation. Which is why my opponent used this framework to support the resolution, because the resolution can't be refuted under Kant's categorical imperatives. Therefore my opponents First Rejection is nullified, as the same could be said about their framework as there is no clear decision that their framework proposes.

However, under "categorical imperative 1", my framework is also justified and can't be "thrown out" as my opponent presumes, so disregard these statements. Why can't egotism be a universizable action? Or even Christianity? My framework is a unversizable action. [1]

Second, society doesn't have to do anything regarding anyone else. Society chooses what to do based of a collective consensus, and even then not all of society agrees. The collective consensus concerning the Rachni as stated, was made clear in the first war by eradicating the Rachni to extinction.

Third, a decision has to be made concerning the resolution. Although we cannot know the complete consequences of our actions, we can refer to the past as a precedence for steps we should take. The Rachni were previously thought to be exterminated, and everyone was seemingly content with it. As I said in my third round, there is no guarantee what will happen if the resolution stands. However, given the circumstances it is clear that by killing the queen there is an assurance that the Rachni will not be a problem in the future.

Fourth, in the situation we can weigh two individuals interests because the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Even if it is regarding life an entire species, the situation calls for an immediate action. Again, society does not have to align itself with any moral absolutism for the sake of moral theory. The galaxy already determined during the Rachni wars, that extinction of the Rachni was acceptable; again there is no reason to determine that this stance has been changed.

Fifth, pragmatically speaking a moral ideology does not better suit the situation. Realistically, the Rachni is just an old enemy of the galaxy once thought exterminated and now a survivor remains. Although it's one queen, she can still multiply and produce thousands of her kind and control all of them.

Sixth, it does not destroy the value of life using my framework. While Deontology does precede due to it's ambiguous definitions in which decisions must be made, my framework advocates value of life in a more specific way. I argued that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. The life of several is more valuable than the life of one. Just because there is no immediate threat in the situation proposing the resolution, the possibly the resolution proposes is very well in the realm of creating a future enemy. (I will refer to this later on explaining the breakdown later on)

Seventh, there is no guarantee the Rachni will positively effect the galaxy either. Just because the possibility exists doesn't mean that society must be compelled to give that chance. My framework proposes that the galaxy's interest must take precedence in the situation. The galaxy determined the fate of the species already.


To rebut the clarification:


This is 100% percent false. The Thorian encountered on the planet Feros was just one species that could control the minds of others. It enslaved an entire colony, in spite because of a deal gone wrong. In the situation, we are witnessing the Rachni taking control of an Asari to communicate. Also, the Queen has the ability to reproduce many from her eggs, with the possibility of spawning another queen. So, from one can spawn many. Rachni are really tough creatures and it took an army of Krogan to fight the Rachni where they were because of their abilities.

My premise is not ridiculous. Cars are an inanimate object. They do not gain sentience and roam around destroying other cars. The Rachni are a sentient species capable of advanced logical reasoning.

There is a reason to not to believe to the Rachni queens desires. The situation shows that she was undergoing tests and experimentation in a hidden lab. She was a prisoner, who tried to break free by attacking Shepard before the encounter altogether. She learned through fear, that Shepard obviously destroyed her thralls on his march towards the confrontation. As a logic reasoning life form, she is in a life of death situation. Her only defense is a plea to Shepard. Why are we to believe she isn't lying? How do we know she doesn't hold grudge, after all her entire species was pushed to extinction. It's not the war that could push her to be violent towards the galaxy, but being an unwilling test subject to experimentation is a very strong case. The whole reason Saren sent Benezia to Noveria was to oversee the project was to weaponize the Rachni through indoctrination. So to even claim they aren't dangerous is nonsensical and naive.

Fact is the Rachni do pose a threat. We cannot accept the queen's word of peace, when Shepard literally defeated her thralls with ease; and now holds her life in the balance. Her only defense is a promise of peace. Yet there is no face value, she was just experimented on and kept prisoner to be turned into a weapon. That sounds like a big reason to hold a grudge on the Galaxy. My Opponent is also neglecting the history of the Rachni, the reason they didn't focus on expansion is because they didn't have the technology. Only once the Salarians stumbled on them did they capture the crew and learn how to rebuild their interstellar ship. So expansion is very well within their parameters. So they do pose a real threat.


My opponent wanted to dismiss my framework because it isn't applicable to the resolution. To reiterate:

1.) The ends justify the means. Killing the Rachni ensures that they will not pose a threat to the galaxy. done and over with. It is certain, within the scopes of the situation to know that killing the queen ensures no further instance.

2.) Shepard has to act on the interest of everyone. Humans are unfamiliar with the Rachni war. Shepard doesn't know what truly happened during the Rachni wars and how much was lost and sacrificed. He is no qualified to make a decision based on his feelings alone. Therefore the interest of the Galaxy takes precedence. The Galaxy determined that the Rachni needed to be pushed to extinction during the Rachni wars. They knew more of the Rachni then, and it was collective effort of the majority. So it is safe to assume, the galaxy doesn't want the Rachni around.

3.) The right choice, is the one which most people will be satisfied. Since we cannot know the future, satisfaction is left to a value of numbers. The entire Galaxy believes the Rachni extinct and are seemingly content with this resolution. If the Rachni live and sometime later rampage out of nowhere, that doesn't suit the galaxy's interest at all.

Summary: The entire purpose of Commander Shepard is to stop a great destruction from hitting the galaxy. Saren had just unleashed a weapon on Eden Prime that could potentially destroy the citadel, and then take over the entire galaxy. Shepard fits into my framework better, because everything he does is for the Galaxy's best interest. Sparing the Rachni isn't in the galaxy's best interests because they already made a decision concerning the Rachni. Furthermore, just because it's all nice and "good" and morally just to save life; it's not a realistic argument in the situation provided. The Rachni could potentially be very dangerous. One species took on the entire galaxy. To rebirth this species only takes 1, check it, 1 queen. She could run off and hide out of sight. Lay thousands of thralls, and possibly another queen or two; then the galaxy will be faced with another catastrophic incident. Yes it is realistically, logically, and morally, to just let her die. The Galaxy already assumes the Rachni are extinct anyways, nothing will change should the queen die; while although any benefits that could be obtained are lost, it is also said that any negative effects are also lost.


So kinda funny, the voting is ultimately up to what the voters think is the best course of action just like in the game. Thank you to my opponent for this match, and ability to debate. I wish you didn't have to forfeit a previous round; and i look forward to more ME debates. I love this game.
Debate Round No. 4
24 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by bsh1 11 months ago
Part 2

I now have a weighing mechanism in place: utility. The question now is who best achieves this goal.

Pro does a lot in all of his rounds to explain why the rachni queen doesn't pose a major threat to the galaxy. I am, of course, skeptical that they pose no threat at all, given what I gather of their prior history, but I also find myself agreeing that they are not a "major" threat due to their cultural perspective and the promises of the queen.

I also buy that eliminating an entire race from the galaxy also eliminates all of its potential. All the lives that could be lived, and the happiness within the rachni society that could be possible, are now gone. Any projects that might be produced by the rachni race are also voided.

I am left, in R4, to weigh the risk of the rachni potentially turning bad, or developing like any other society. The former is clearly undesirable and the former is clearly desirable, in that it allows for every participant of that future society to experience happiness and possibly contribute to the happiness of others. Given that I find the risk of them turning bad to be a low one, I am inclined to say that development is more likely. Thus, purely based on probability, it is more utilitarian to affirm rather than negate.

So, I vote Pro. It was a surprisingly close debate.
Posted by bsh1 11 months ago

As a quick disclaimer, while I've never played Mass Effect, I don't think this unduly impaired my ability to understand the round, so I feel comfortable voting.

Part 1

A lot of this debate focused on Deontology vs. Utilitarianism, in a way that I actually found distracted from the subject of the debate. I would've loved to have heard more about the rachni then some abstract philosophical concepts (even though I love me some ethics), but, that's not what I am getting. Moreover, I found neither side's discussion of those concepts compelling.

Con's attack of Kant was basically, "Kant prevents us from doing what is necessary for the greater good." But this begs the question. Con's whole attack assumes that we should being doing what is necessary for the greater good, which assumes utilitarianism is true. So, rather than actually attack Kant, Con just basically restates that utilitarianism is good, which doesn't actually refute Kant's logic or argumentation.

Pro's attacks on utilitarianism were esoteric in the extreme, and focused more on what can be done that what ought to be done. And they made some pretty bold claims--I think interests can be roughly aggregated, and utility can consider issues of probability. I think a more straightforward approach would've been better for Con.

Ultimately, though, I think Pro effectively drops Kant in R4. As I noted above, I found Con's attacks on Kant utterly fallacious, but Pro never points this out. In fact, Pro gives no defense on deont in his final speech. Pro at least gives weak defenses of util in his final speech, so I am defaulting util.
Posted by bsh1 11 months ago
I saw this only had 5 hours left, so I'm gonna drop a vote.
Posted by John_Royals 11 months ago
Funny how this debate turned out. I enjoyed it, and hopefully I did well. I just want to get better at this
Posted by John_Royals 11 months ago
Funny how this debate turned out. I enjoyed it, and hopefully I did well. I just want to get better at this
Posted by Jedi4 11 months ago
All i remeber in my drunken haze of playing ME years ago is banging hot aliens. 10/10 good captian kirk simulator
Posted by Zaradi 11 months ago
Sorry about the previous missed round, again. My bad.
Posted by Zaradi 11 months ago
Oh I'll still win ;)
Posted by famousdebater 11 months ago
ff? I wish that had happened in our debate, lol.
Posted by Zaradi 12 months ago
Just keep going with rebuttals. I'll play catch up and do defenses and rebuttals in one round.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by bsh1 11 months ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: See comments.