The Instigator
bsh1
Pro (for)
Winning
8 Points
The Contender
phantom
Con (against)
Losing
3 Points

Experts' Debate Competition R2: Just Societies and War

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Post Voting Period
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after 5 votes the winner is...
bsh1
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/26/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,317 times Debate No: 44614
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (37)
Votes (5)

 

bsh1

Pro

Preface

This is the semi-final round of the Official DDO Tournament's Experts' Tier. Having debated this topic before, I look forward to developing and improving upon my arguments as part of a constructive discourse with Phantom. Thanks to Phantom and to TUF for making this round possible! I look forward to a challenging, competitive, and exciting debate!

Full Topic

A Just Society should never deliberately initiate war

Rules

1. No forfeits
2. BOP is as follows: Pro must affirm that a J.S. should never deliberately initiate war; Con must show that a J.S. may deliberately initiate war.
3. There shall be no a priori presumptions in favor of either side
4. No new arguments may be presented in the final round
5. Violation of any of these rules, or of any part of the R1 set-up, constitutes a 7-point loss

Structure

R1: Acceptance
R2: Arguments
R3: Arguments
R4: Arguments
R5: Rebuttals and Debate Summary
phantom

Con

I accept.

Debating with real life debaters has always been an enjoyable experience, so I look forward to the debate!
Debate Round No. 1
bsh1

Pro

Thanks to Phantom for accepting--I do think this will be an enjoyable round.

DEFINITIONS

Just - agreeing with what is considered morally right or good
Deliberate - to think about or discuss issues and decisions carefully
Initiate - to cause the beginning of; to start

All of the foregoing terms were defined by Merriam Webster. [1]

War - “The mere threat of war, and the presence of mutual disdain between political communities, do not suffice as indicators of war. The conflict of arms must be actual…for it to count as war. Further, the actual armed conflict must be…widespread: isolated clashes between rogue officers, or border patrols, do not count as actions of war.” Furthermore, “the onset of war requires a commitment, and a significant mobilization, on the part of the belligerents in question. There's no real war, so to speak, until a fighter intends to go to war and until it does so with a heavy quantum of force.” [2]

Never - as a rule. For example, if I say, "I never drink soda, but maybe this one time," I am saying that I don't drink soda as a rule, or I don't drink soda as a principle. In this way, "never" is oftentimes used to express something very rarely done, or, as noted in the example, a rule-of-thumb.

Should - morally right. For example, if I say, "you should care for your grandma" I am making a statement about what is the morally right thing to do.

Therefore, I must show that, as a rule, Just Societies should not, morally-speaking, start wars. Con must show the converse.

FRAMEWORK

When we think about morality, 2 theories typically spring to mind--that of utilitarianism and that of deontology. Utility, or the best for the most, and deontology, absolute moral rules, both, intuitively, make sense. There are cases where we feel some moral rules to be so powerful that they cannot be broken, but in other cases, we accept that rules can be set aside for the greater good while still acting in a moral fashion.

I submit that we should presume in favor of absolute moral rules. Why? Because if murder is wrong, it is almost always wrong. There are very few cases in which acts, like murder, can be considered "right." We also need to take into account the subjectivity act-utilitarianism promotes. Oftentimes, utilitarians view morality through the lenses of their own preferences; for example, imperialists felt that what they were doing was beneficial for most, whereas indigenous locals vehemently disagreed. Therefore, constructing an objective cost-benefit analysis is often difficult, if not impossible. Consider finally that it can be hard to predict outcomes of actions and that "happiness" and "pleasure" (terms associated with utility) are vague and immeasurable.

However, utility is not wholly irrelevant. When faced with two option of equal moral value, utility is important. For instance, Option A involves murdering someone to save 5 people. Option B involves murdering someone for no gain. In cases like this, deontology would say that both actions are immoral. I would posit, however, that if you had to take an option, your only moral course would be Option A. Yes, you murder someone, but it is better, from a moral perspective, to do something less bad than more bad.

I will argue, following from this, that 1. War is against morality and 2. that War is not, as a rule, beneficial.

CONTENTION ONE: DEONTOLOGY

The argument here is very straightforward. We ought not to kill innocent people. War kills innocent people. Therefore, we ought not engage in war.

This same logic can be applied to the destructive nature of war, and how war, as an action, is inherently immoral. It is ridiculous to say "always initiate war when..." It is more logical to say that, as a rule, war is a bad thing that should be avoided.

CONTENTION TWO: UTILITY

I will be using rule-utilitarianism as the basic premise for my arguments here. "The rule utilitarian does not consider the consequences of each particular action but considers the consequences of adopting some general rule, such as 'Keep promises.' He adopts the rule if the consequences of its general adoption are better than those of the adoption of some alternative rule." [3] This is useful in that it links back to the notion of "never" as enshrined in the resolution, and in that it encompasses the importance of moral rules, while not ignoring consequences altogether, which would, as I noted, be foolhardy.

Sub-point A: Deliberate initiations of war lead to more devastating warfare.

"the financial costs of the preparation and waging of deliberate war have increased, as has the devastation caused by those war...Such deliberate initiations spur the desire for more potent weaponry. And as one armed force gains weapons of greater destructive power and delivery systems capable of carrying these weapons further and faster, others strive to match them, for fear that they will be overwhelmed by these weapons in potential future conflicts. So the deadly spiral of the arms race escalates. The effect of this escalation is to make us less, not more, secure. And as more weapons are made, so more and more of the world's productive resources are diverted to their production. At the same time, states are forced to tighten control of their populations: to tax and conscript them, against their wills, to provide the resources and personnel necessary for war..." The author also notes that this intensification is also likely to lead to a greater reliance on the vastly deleterious "total war" model. [4]

Sub-point B: Deliberate Initiations of War engender aggression and intensified violence.

According to Prof. Frederick Schuman, "Since other powers feeling themselves threatened by an expanding power, they will at some point resist its further aggrandizement; relentless pursuit of power spells war--which is the ultimate negation of all morality." By this, Schuman indicates that aggression results in a pushback as a counter to the initial aggression, creating an endless cycle of violence and retaliation that will result in incalculable harms. Prof. Steven Murdoch concurs, arguing, "For many experts, weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists and rogue nations change the self-defense analysis. In a world with these catastrophic weapons, they believe that countries should be allowed to strike preemptively. But how far these experts are willing to stray from a strict rule of self-defense, which requires actual enemy attack, turns upon what they emphasize. Some lawyers worry that a lower threshold for self-defense interventions, decided upon unilaterally, will impinge on nations' sovereignty and increase cycles of violence." [5]

Sub-point C: Limited strategic information makes deliberate initiations of war unwise.

"In July 1949, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that the Soviet Union would not be able to construct a nuclear weapon until mid-1951, though the first Soviet nuclear test occurred only some weeks later in August 1949...The day before the first Chinese nuclear test, the CIA estimated a Chinese test within 6 to 8 months." The author goes on to summarize his meta-analysis of various military actions, stating simply, "that in this modern era, intentionally beginning war fails or is made more destructive more than it succeeds as there is usually an incomplete intelligence picture of the situation." [6]

Sub-point D: War is too easily undertaken when preemption is justified.

"The problem with the doctrine of preemptive war...is that it is simply too open-ended. Virtually any rival or power can be deemed to be a threat needing to be preempted. Tension alone becomes justification for violent self-defense." [7]

Sub-point E: Preemption is often detrimental to efforts at global cooperation

Firstly, global cooperation is key to any society: "To safeguard our own security, we need the assistance of the allies whose doubts we scorn, and the protection of the international restraints against which we chafe. We must therefore resist the easy seduction of unilateral action. In the long run, our interests will best be served by an international system that is as lawlike and collaborative as possible, given the reality that we live in a world of sovereign states." [8] Secondly, war undermines a society's ability to cooperate. War, by its very nature, engenders animus. Consider that even North Korea has allies (e.g. China) who we would alienate by attacking, even preemptively. In this way, preemption makes it hard for a society to function and to meet the needs of its own people.

Due to the destructive nature of war, and due to the negative impacts arising from poor intelligence, reduced cooperation, and increased violence that preemption inspires and creates, under a rule of utility, war is something we ought not to initiate.

Thus, the resolution is resoundingly affirmed.

SOURCES

1 - http://www.merriam-webster.com...
2 - http://plato.stanford.edu...
3 - http://www.encyclopedia.com...
4 - Alexandra, Andrew (2003). Social Theory and Practice., 29, 4. p.589(18). [Currently a Prof. of Anthropology and Social Inquiry at the University of Melbourne as well as a Senior Research Fellow for the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics (CAPPE). Formerly an Adjunct Prof. of Philosophy at the Australian National University.]
5 - Murdoch, Steven 2003, DC Bar Magazine, Preemptive War: Is it Legal? [Holds a PhD from Cambridge University. Currently, a Security Researcher at Cambridge University.]
6 - http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil...
7 - http://matthewtuininga.wordpress.com...
8 - http://prospect.org...

Thanks! VOTE PRO!

phantom

Con

Definitions accepted.
Moral absolutism, relativism and values


My opponents states that if murder is wrong it is always wrong, but this is just tautologous. What separates murder from mere killing is that murder carries a negative moral connotation always. Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being[1]. So saying murder is always wrong is an analytical a-priori truth. It's part of the definition; and that is as far as most moral absolutes go. It is true in every possible world and in every possible scenario that an act defined as wrong will be wrong; but the standards for morality are much more relative. For example, what constitutes murder may vary across culture and time. In the same way, what justifies an act of war may vary across different societies. Absolutes are rarely so simple as, "murder is wrong".

I will not hold that morality is completely relative. Rather I will say that most broad and non-tautologous moral statements contain exceptions and might differ from society to society. That just societies should never initiate war, is a very broad proposition which I posit must leave room to numerous exceptions--if not being flat out unsound--as do most such general moral statements. Such absolutism should be reserved for all-encompassing rules that don't leave room for exceptions such as, "just societies should never initiate war without sound basis of threat to them or other innocent societies". That's much more absolute but could probably be found to be subject to some error. After the error is found, however, a new rule can be proposed that makes room for the error. That is how absolutes are formed.

That being said, some general moral absolutes do exist. Morality is based upon a large network of values. From privacy, to freedom, to happiness and to life. There are many more and all these things contain a certain moral value. Morality is centered on values and from that we can infer a general moral absolute: "the scenario which best serves the interest of the values of morality is the best possible scenario". With that axiom I will defend my case that it may be morally permissible for a just society to initiate war.

C.1 Deontology

Pro makes an argument that is supposed to be based on the value of innocent life. However, if we stay true to that value, the argument fails. Pro states war should not be initiated because it results in the killing of innocents but has already given us a scenario where killing an innocent person is the best possible moral choice--so he's refuted himself already. The death of innocents is sometimes the inevitable tradeoff to a greater good. The greater good protects the lives of innocents. So while some had to die, more innocent lives would be saved in the end.

In the scenario pro depicts, a person is faced with the choice of killing someone to save 5 people, or killing someone with nothing else gained. Even though pro states that both actions are "bad", at the same time he denies that all are immoral. That doesn't really make sense as a moral choice is by definition not bad. The right choice; the just choice, is the moral choice and cannot be said at the same time to be bad.

C.2 Utility

Rule utilitarianism adds nothing useful to morality. The problem with the theory is that it is far too general and thus impractical and unnecessary. There is no reason at all to apply a standard of morals that provides broad general rules to live by when plausible exceptions can be found to them. For example, it is true that society would be better off if persons lived by the rule "keep your promises" than if they lived by the rule "don't keep your promises", but there is absolutely no reason to live by these unspecific rules. In many plausible scenarios it would be best to not keep a promise. It's utterly unnecessary to live by a rule as if it's absolute when it's obviously not.

For example in answer to the rule, "don't initiate wars" I could offer the counter-rule, "war should be initiated when the rights and well-being of society are being oppressed unfairly and relentlessly" (the American revolution). Pro might find some exception and then I would simply alter it to include the exception. Morals are relative when they are broad but eventually an absolute rule can usually be formed if it is comprehensive enough.

I see no real support for this view of morality. Pro says it's useful because it fits with the "never" in the resolution he's affirming but that merely means it's useful to him as he's found a morality that fits well with the resolution. That it does not ignore consequences is insignificant. Most moral theories are centered on consequence. Since there's no real argument in support of rule utilitarianism it can be safely disregarded.

Sub-points A-B

There are two things we should agree upon. First, as a means of safe guard, nations seek to increase the quality of their weaponry regardless of whether war is being held or not. The potential for war is always there and drives any nation to focus on its ability to defend itself. Second, war will happen regardless of whether the resolution is recognized or not. That means that unjust societies will engage in unjust wars and strive to increase their destructive power. If moral societies sit on the side lines, immoral ones will grow greater and greater until inevitably the moral nations offer no threat to them. It was in fact America's advanced weaponry that kept the cold war cold[6]. The situation was highly insecure, I'll grant that, but a shaky stalemate is far better than nuclear war. It is inevitable that weapons will advance further and further. This leads to an entirely different conclusion than Pro's. Moral societies should make sure their weapons stay ahead of all more questionable nations and sometimes initiate wars to stop the relentless power seeking that pro mentions. Without war, people like Hitler would not be stopped. At the same time, the UN has made treaties to keep countries in line[2]. Breaking the treaty entails adequate retaliation. Most countries are for efforts to keep nuclear weapons at bay which helps to keep everyone in check. It's extremely risky to go after weapons of mass destruction.

Contention one: Preemptive Defense

This contention starts with my opponent's sub-point C and includes D and E as well.

I cannot find Pro's quote in the PDF he cites or by using Google (only this debate comes up). However, I will respond briefly to his reasoning. I believe my other arguments stand by themselves in the way of this. The Six Day War was a preemptive attack by Israel on Egypt. The attack was based on the knowledge that Egypt had,
  • "announced a policy of hostility to Israel
  • put its military forces on maximum alert
  • expelled the UN Emergency force from the Sinai border area
  • strengthened its forces on the border with Israel
  • announced the closure of the Straits of Tiran to Israeli ships
  • formed mutual support treaties with Iraq, Jordan and Syria"[7]

Israel's intelligence service had found evidence that Egypt, Jordan and Syria had planned to attack and annihilate Israel.[8]

There are numerous other such examples: "History is replete with examples when pre-emption was successful, as well as occasions when, because pre-emption wasn't employed, catastrophe struck." [9] But I need not merely mention preemptive strikes where it has been morally permissible to initiate war; we only need to conceive of their legitimacy. We could say, in times similar to the conditions mentioned before, just societies are usually justified to initiate preemptive war.

The resolution does not say not to participate in war, it says never to initiate it. So it is true that in some cases it may be better to let the other nation initiate war. However, this could be potentially devastating at other times. If there were legitimate reason to believe, for example, Iran was compiling nuclear weapons which they were going to put to use, defeat would be utterly guaranteed if the choice was to sit on our backsides and let them strike first, especially if the country under threat does not have any significant defenses against such attacks. Under conditions of impending attack, a preemptive attack may be the best option.

If America had been aware of the attack on Pearl Harbor before it happened, they would have been justified to strike first. If a country or group is compiling military strength with obvious intentions to strike, a preemptive attack would be entirely justifiable.

Tension alone is not at all justification for preemptive action. In fact preemptive war is, "an attack initiated on the basis of incontrovertible evidence that an enemy attack is imminent."[5]

Contention two: Protection of Rights and Well-being

One example of this would be the Revolutionary War. The British heavily oppressed the colonies with taxes and laws. The colonies needed to protect their rights and general well-being and thus rebelled. It is fully within the rights of a society to defend its basic well-being when being oppressed by another force. If we were persuaded of the resolution, then just societies would always have to roll over and meekly obey their oppressors.

The above example is self-protection. There is also the case of protecting the interests of other societies. If one country is being abused by another, does a more powerful country have justification, or even obligation to step in? Pro makes a case around the value of human life, however, human life is much better served when societies are allowed to step in at times to protect it when it's in danger. The Rwandan genocide, for example, went on with too little interference from the outside, and resulted in the deaths of 800,000 Rwandans[3].

[1] http://goo.gl...
[2] http://goo.gl...
[3] http://goo.gl...
[4] http://goo.gl...
[5] http://goo.gl...
[6] http://goo.gl...
[7] http://goo.gl...
[8] http://goo.gl...
[9] http://goo.gl...
Debate Round No. 2
bsh1

Pro

This is turning out to be an exciting debate. Again, I extend my thanks to Phantom. In this round, I will present a review of key points regarding the definitions, and the I shall defend my arguments.

DEFINITIONS

Con says, "Definitions accepted." This means that we both agree on the definitions I presented in round two, and that these definitions will provide a foundation through which we can view the round. Simply, these are the definitions for this debate. At this time, I'd like to go through and highlight definitions that may prove especially pertinent to this debate.

Just means "morally right." Therefore, a J.S. is one that acts in a morally right fashion. If it is determined that war is not "morally right" then a J.S. would never initiate war.

War requires three components: (1) actual, widespread conflict of arms, (2) significant mobilization on the parts of belligerents, and (3) intent. Each of these elements was clearly articulated in my definition. This interpretation of war is important, because it would exclude limited military actions from being considered war. For example, sending a small strike team into a foreign country for a 1 night operation would not be "war" insofar as it fails to meet the "widespread" criterion, as well as the "significant mobilization" criterion.

Never means "as a rule." I provided this specific example to illustrate this term: "I never drink soda, but maybe this one time." When we talk about doing things "as a rule," we accept that there may be rare exceptions to the rule in which case it is permissible to act outside of the rule; however, in the vast majority of cases, conformity to the rule is ideal. This can be evidenced by such statements as "I don't lie, as a rule, but if it will spare her feelings, maybe I should." Hence, I must show that J.S. should not, as a rule, deliberately initiate war.

FRAMEWORK + CASES

Con says that the statement "if murder is wrong, it is always wrong" is tautological. However, this is not quite what I said. I wrote, "if murder is wrong, it is almost always wrong." For the purpose of this example, let us say that murder is simply understood as killing a human being--homicide. I am sure that Con can agree that if killing is wrong, it is almost always wrong. The first clause, "killing is wrong" is a generalization--a rule of thumb. From this generalization, we can extrapolate that killing is usually wrong. Refined and clarified as it is, we can see that the statement makes sense, and is not an a-priori truth, but rather a 2-step analysis.

Moreover, I fail to see what offense Con gains from arguing this. Con concedes that moral absolutes exist, which was the foundation of my point here. I then asserted that we should presume in favor of moral absolutes--this makes sense in the absolutes are ABSOLUTE. If X is always or nearly always wrong, then in any given situation it is more likely that X is wrong than right. Therefore, we should presume in favor of absolutes and rules of thumb.
Con says that the standard for the round is that "the scenario which best serves the interest of the values of morality is the best possible scenario."

This seems like an act-utilitarian point of view. This is problematic inasmuch as it leads to too much subjectivity. I would argue, for example, that human rights can be justified by rule utilitarianism as being net beneficial to humanity. Under an act consequentialist paradigm, however, human rights are meaningless because they can be abridged at any moment to achieve some greater good. This seems like an awful lot of leeway to give agents.

C1: Deontology

Con says that I provided a case where it was fine to kill innocent people. Firstly, in the hypothetical example, I explicitly state that both options were immoral, and bad. Killing innocents is almost always wrong. However, if you had no other choice but to (1) kill an innocent to save 5 people, or (2) kill and innocent for no gain, you should choose (1). This is not because (1) is moral, but because it is the lesser of two evils. Sometimes, you are faced with two wrong choices, and so it is logical to choose the lesser one. It is not a matter of making "just" choices, but rather of making the least unjust one. So, no, it's not fine to kill innocent people. Secondly, the example I offered was simply meant to show that utility is not irrelevant. I then clarified that I was specifically defending rule utilitarianism.

Con says that war can be in the greater good. I submit that he has no shown evidence that this is the case in a majority of instances of deliberately initiated war, which he needs to do in order for this point to become any sort of viable offense against the Pro's position.

Finally, Con never challenges the idea that killing innocents is usually wrong. This is key, as I will illustrate in subsequent rounds. Suffice it to say, that if the action of killing innocents is always inherently wrong, then a J.S. could not undertake it.

C2: Utility

Con states: "There is no reason at all to apply a standard of morals that provides broad general rules to live by when plausible exceptions can be found to them." By this same logic we could obliterate human rights. Some people argue that H.R. have exceptions, so should we just obliterate them, despite all the good they have done and could do? This logic is insufficient to sustain that argument that rule utility adds nothing of substance to moral dialogue. This rationale also fails to show that rule utility doesn't maximize benefits. Additionally, rule utility links back to the definition of "never" I provided, and obviates the issues I raised regarding act-utilitarianism earlier. Finally, I would argue that "keeping promises" is an example of a rule that could be undertaken, but not that it should be. However, I have offered evidence that the rule of non-initiate of war by J.S. not only could be undertaken, but should be undertaken.

SA: Devastating forms of Warfare

Even if nations would seek weapons regardless, those weapons would likely be more defensive than offensive in nature. For example, creating an anti-IBM system or creating anti-aircraft defenses. These types of military installations, and anti-IBM rockets, are not provocative in that they have a primarily defensive purpose. If we look at Japan, which has yet to acquire, en masse, offensive weapons, we can see empirical evidence of my assertion. [1] This is key to keep in mind.

We should also keep in mind that, as Con seems to assert with his source No. 6, if weapons have deterrent value (and thus prevent war), then we can turn this argument on Con. The acquisition of deterrence capabilities would, in fact, reduce instances of warfare. Therefore, whether you buy my argument re: defensive weapons, or Con's argument re: deterrence, war is still prevented and J.S. remain secure.

As for Hitler, GERMANY INITIATED THE WAR. I am not arguing against self-defense, because by then war is unavoidable. I am only arguing that a J.S. should not deliberately INITIATE war. Therefore, even under the Pro's world, Hitler would've been stopped.

SB: More Violence

Con offers no response here. My source stated: how far are experts "willing to stray from a strict rule of self-defense, which requires actual enemy attack...? Some lawyers worry that a lower threshold for self-defense...will impinge on nations' sovereignty and increase cycles of violence."

Con's only remarks against this are that the UN will halt wars of aggression. This resolution is highly philosophical in nature. Discussing UN sanctions is irrelevant, because I am debating this hypothetically. But, even so, the laws on wars of aggression are very loosely enforced, and, because of that, are not effective. In fact, some aren't legally binding. [2]

C1: Preemption

SC: Limited Info

I apologize about the confusion re: the PDF. The first quote in SC fits with source 6. The addendum at the end was given in another article about his research. Moreover, 1 example is not enough to show that intelligence is usually good. I think it's safe the assume that intel is poor, so that unneeded risks aren't incurred. History is also replete with cases where preemption failed, like Iraq or Germany's invasion of France in WWI. Finally, Con has put emphasis on obeying UN doctrine, yet preemption is illegal according the UN. [3] This seems a bit contradictory.

Had we known about Pearl Harbor in advance, we should have attacked Japanese forces when they entered U.S. airspace, before the reached Hawai'i.

Finally, as my SC shows, evidence and intel are rarely "incontrovertible." Con is setting up a standard that he simply cannot meet. Incontrovertible means "not able to be doubted or questioned." [4] In this way, Con is saying that preemption can only be undertaken when the evidence of attack is incontrovertible--but how often does this occur. If it does, than it's negligible, and I outweigh.

SD: Justification

Con drops this point entirely. Extend it as clean Pro offense. I will impact it next round.

SE: Cooperation

Con drops this point entirely. Extend it as clean Pro offense. I will impact it next round.

C2: Rights

Con's utilitarian arguments contradict this rights-based approach, as I noted earlier.

Con says here that under Pro's world, societies could not engage in self-defense. This is patently false. I am against initiation of war, not against self-defense.

Finally, if a war is on-going, then it has already been initiated, so a J.S. could join in.

SOURCES

1 - http://en.wikipedia.org...
2 - http://en.wikipedia.org...
3 - http://en.wikipedia.org...
4 - http://www.merriam-webster.com...

Thanks! VOTE PRO!
phantom

Con

Framework

If killing is wrong then it is wrong. It doesn't make any sense to say that killing is wrong, then show examples where it is right. That would be like refuting your claim as soon as you make it.

Pro says, "if it is determined that war is not "morally right" then a J.S. would never initiate war." However, by his own argument, just people sometimes should do immoral things. The just person would kill 1 person to save 5 instead of killing 1 person with no such benefit. Thus, Pro's done nothing to show that a just society should never initiate war even if war is morally wrong. If persons sometimes possess the obligation to do an immoral thing, as Pro states, there is no reason to exempt societies from this possibility.

More importantly we could conceive of possible worlds, or futures, where this happens all the time, and then Pro's "rule of thumb" would not be adopted since it would have to be continually broken.


Pro misunderstands the axiom that I came up with. In fact, when understood, there is very little reason for any person who believes in morality to deny it. In a moral scenario we could theoretically, write down every single sound moral principle and value; then look at every possible outcome of the situation and judge which one best corresponds to the moral principles in values we have before us. The best scenario can be determined by how it corresponds to the many principles and values of morality. Thus, the scenario which best serves the interest of the values of morality is the best possible scenario.

Furthermore, it is not utilitarianism and far from subjectivism. It's an objective statement that leaves room for no exception. Utilitarianism is the antithesis of Kantianism or deontology, but the statement would still be true under those theories. I would like to stress very firmly that rights are perfectly compatible with it. The value and principles of rights are simply part of the equation regarding whether an outcome is morally good or not. The interests and values of morality includes the concept of rights.


Deontology


Pro's case falls down on the fact that it assumes the coherency of having a moral obligation to do something immoral--of having a moral obligation to kill an innocent, yet the killing still be considered immoral. Anytime someone acts in line with his moral obligations, he is acting morally. It is therefore incoherent to claim that someone can do as his moral obligations entail, yet still be acting immorally. By killing an innocent, you are committing the act that best serves moral principles and thus it is right. If he did what was most morally best, you would find it impossible to condemn him but if he was doing something immoral, you should. That presents a paradox with Pro's case.

I am utterly confused on why Pro claims I must show "this is the case in a majority of instances of deliberately initiated war". The resolution states war should "never" be initiated, not "usually not". Pro's bending the burden of proof in the opposite direction. He must show justification in positing the rule to never initiate war. I must merely show the justification in sometimes initiating wars.

I have yet to see any argument for why the killing of innocents is always inherently wrong (more to the opposite) so I will not attempt to answer any.

Utility

Pro presents one unexplained counter-argument. He states that rights would be obliterated under my refutation. There is a large lack of explanation to why this would be the case at all. I strongly urge the recognition of individual rights. In fact it is a major part of my second contention. All my refutation implies is that rights cannot be so broadly stated, such as "the right to life". Most humans possess the right to life, the right to seek happiness and the rights to privacy but sometimes their life may be put in danger, their happiness compromised and their privacy invaded, all for the sake of better goods, such as the protection of others rights.

Pro never responds to my analysis of the breaking down of general rules. General rules such as "never deliberately initiate wars", are broad and contain exceptions. A rule-utilitarian should say something like, "never initiate war unless peaceful solutions are viable", but to say, "never initiate war period" is too close-minded.


Sub-A

The lines between offensive and defensive weapons are often blurred. There are times when we can delineate the two, but mentioning one country, does not refute the point. There is no guarantee at all that countries will not build up an offensive weaponry in anticipation of war. Moreover just because a society holds to the principle not to start wars, does not mean they cannot participate, and thus there is little reason they would not build up offensive weapons.

I agree that weapons may serve a deterrent purpose. Pro seems to be contradicting his original argument so as to create a new one. (1) it is good to create deterrence for starting wars, but that does not mean wars should never be initiated; (2) the deterrent effect is mainly in keeping other countries to start wars against you and not about just societies themselves starting wars. So, as stated last round, moral societies should make sure their weapons stay ahead of all more questionable nations and sometimes initiate wars to stop the relentless power seeking that Pro mentions.

All I said was, "without war, people like Hitler would not be stopped." I never stated Germany did not initiate war. If Hitler, or someone like him, sought after the genocide of the Jewish people, without actually going to war with anyone else, Pro's society would be powerless to stop him as minor skirmishes and peaceful measures would not be adequate to put it to an end and immediate action would be required.

Sub-B


War and the aggrandizement of power will take place whether or not the resolution is sound or unsound. The "relentless pursuit of power", the "ultimate negation of all morality" as Pro puts it, is itself sometimes best answered by war. The world is an endless cycle of conflict and fighting, but there is nothing to change that, and in occasions, entering in the conflict will help set events down the right course. It is utterly pointless to argue against a necessary part of nature. The world would be better off if everyone would try to solve things peacefully, but since that is far from the case just societies should step in to the conflict at times.


C.1 Preemptive Defence

I did not drop anything Pro said I have. The standards for preemption need not be nearly so low as Pro implies and global cooperation becomes irrelevant when societies are unwilling to be peaceful law abiding societies.

The first quote is unimportant as it mentions only one example. The second was conclusive to the point, but since Pro still declines to cite it, and since a Google search only comes up with this debate[1] we can ignore the argument almost entirely. Besides, I have already given an example where the evidence was quite substantial for preemption. By presenting just one example we could say, in times similar to the conditions involving Israel and Egypt, just societies are usually justified to initiate preemptive war.

Pro agrees that if we had known about Japan's planned attack on Pearl Harbor, we should have attacked Japan first. I'm at a loss here since he seems to be agreeing with preemption in this case.

Pro is correct that "incontrovertible" is a high standard for preemption. The definition was given solely to answer Pro's S-D point, but I would not keep to those standards myself. Even if that is the correct definition, I would merely amend my contention to preemption plus times that are closer, but do not match the exact standards.

The potential for war itself helps global cooperation. Mutual trust is good but so is mutual fear.

As Pro notes, the definition of war agreed upon would exclude limited military actions imposed on a country. While he takes this as support for his side, it can be brought to support for my case; for what it means is that if a hostile country is imposing limited military attacks on a moral country without actually starting a war, the just society would not be allowed to strike back with war--according to Pro. The only counter option available would be small counter-strikes, which limits a society in times when it needs to deal with the enemy instead of carrying a long and drawn out series of confrontations. It should be an option to offer threat of war, and if the threat is ignored, for it to be initiated.

When war is already inevitable, it becomes useless to refrain from starting war so as to protect innocent lives. If a war is on the verge of starting, sometimes it is better to be the one who starts it, rather than letting the other nation strike first. Either way, war is going to happen. The example I gave last round was if there was proof Iran were compiling nuclear weapons to attack with. Either let them strike, or strike first. The former could guarantee annihilation.

C.2 Protection of Rights and Well-being

Pro barely provides a counter argument.

I did not support utilitarianism, as shown, and my case fully allows the existence of rights. Moreover this contentions is more than just "rights" as Pro fails to note.

War is sometimes necessary for self defense. In the American Revolutionary War, war was initiated for the sole purpose of defending the rights, liberty and well-being of the colonies against the unfair impositions of the British. If a society is seeking to enslave another or violate its basic rights, then that society is at right to start a war. Moreover, if a society is already enslaved, perhaps because of a previous war fought and lost, then that society has a right to try to escape its shackles.

Finally, if societies are imposing obvious acts of human right violation, such as the Rwandan genocide, other nations may step in to stop them.

Debate Round No. 3
bsh1

Pro

I thank Phantom once again for an awesome R3 of debate! I will kick this round off by addressing the debate over the moral framework for the debate. and then by addressing the contention-level clash.

FRAMEWORK


(A) Deontological Theory

Firstly, Con does not contest my point that the statement "if killing is wrong, it's almost always wrong" is not, in fact, tautological. Con then never challenges that we should presume in favor of moral absolutes and rules, for the following reason: "If X is always or nearly always wrong, then in any given situation it is more likely that X is wrong than right. Therefore, we should presume in favor of absolutes and rules of thumb."

Con's main point is that I provide instances in which killing is right, and therefore contradict myself. But, as I said in my prior rounds, Con's point does not hold up. Consider that X is wrong, and Y is wrong. Both actions are wrong, but X is less wrong than Y. It would be wrong to do either action, but it would be worse to do Y. It's like stealing 5 dollars versus stealing five dollars and beating someone up. You shouldn't do either action, but stealing is a lot less bad than stealing and beating someone up.

My point here is that I am saying that killing is ALWAY wrong, but that it may occassionally be the lesser of two wrongs.

Con does say that my analysis here falls down on the basis of moral obligations. For example, that if it is morally obligatory to kill, then it cannot be immoral to kill. That was never my argument. In fact, I said killing was ALWAYS wrong. If you have two options, kill 1 person or kill 2 people, it is morally wrong to take either action. But, it is less wrong to do the former over the latter. It's a matter of degrees, whereas Con is dealing in stark shades.

(B) Con's standard

Con also clarifies his standard as seeking to maximize moral values in a given scenario. This is still highyl problematic. Let us say that option X serves the interests of the moral value of freedom, whereas option Y serves the interests of the moral value of fairness. How do we decide between the two? Is fairness more important than freedom? Moral values come into conflict all the time, but it is unclear how we would balance them under Con's standard. In this way, the fact that it is case-by-case, and that it cannot resolve competing values, Con's standard is utterly subjective.

(C) Rule Utility

Con stated, "There is no reason at all to apply a standard of morals that provides broad general rules to live by when plausible exceptions can be found to them." Human rights are broad general rules to live by. For example, the human right to vote is a broad general rule which has exceptions, e.g. exclusions for criminals, minors, the mentally handicapped, etc. Insofar as Con reject "borad general rules" he is also rejecting human rights as they currently function. So, Con's complaints about rule uility can also be applied to human rights. At this point, Con loses some internal consistency, because he lauds human rights while condemning rule utility.

So, not only is there some contradictory logic in Con's points, but my point, that rule utility (just like human rights) adds to humanity's moral dialogue, is reaffirmed.

Con has also failed, twice, to show that rule utility fails to maximize benefts, and has dropped rule utility's clear connection to the resolution via the term "never."

(D) Definitions

At this time, I want to reemphasize one particular definition:

"Never means 'as a rule.' I provided this specific example to illustrate this term: 'I never drink soda, but maybe this one time.' When we talk about doing things 'as a rule,' we accept that there may be rare exceptions to the rule in which case it is permissible to act outside of the rule; however, in the vast majority of cases, conformity to the rule is ideal. This can be evidenced by such statements as 'I don't lie, as a rule, but if it will spare her feelings, maybe I should.'"

Therefore, my BOP is not tp show that a J.S. can not ever initiate war, but merely that it cannot, as a rule, initiate war. At this point, rule utility becomes basically irrelevant, because whether or not you buy into rule utility, you must accept that, under the agreed-on definition of the resolution, I only need to show that in most cases a J.S. can't initate war.

(E) Synthesis

We can synthesize points A-D into thre simple steps:

1. Presume in favor of moral rules

2. I only need to show that in most cases a J.S. can't initate war.

ARGUMENTS

C1: Deontology

Con is accusing me of bending the resolution. Yet, he accepted the definition I offered, which reads: " as a rule. For example, if I say, 'I never drink soda, but maybe this one time,' I am saying that I don't drink soda as a rule, or I don't drink soda as a principle. In this way, 'never' is oftentimes used to express something very rarely done, or, as noted in the example, a rule-of-thumb." This is a VERY CLEARLY WORD definition, and I am not to blame if Con simply accepted the term without reading. Definitions are a crucial part of any debate, and he has not only accepted the definitions, but failed to rebut them when given the chance in R2.

Killing innocents is wrong in that they are INNOCENT. They are not combatants, bear no responsibility nor culpability, and are widely regarded as illegitimate targets in war. Inasmuch as we accept that killing innocents is almso always wrong, we agree that we should never do so. Therefore, since war involves the death of innocent, we extrapolate that we should never inititate war.

C2: Utility

SA) Weapons

Con says that the lines between offensive and defensive weapons are blurry, but states we can delineate the two. Moreover, he complains re: the fact that I only cite Japan. I do this because we are debating a topic about initiating war, and Japan is the only (as far as I can ascertain) nation that CANNOT initiate war. Therefore, it is the example the best fits this resolution. My example is nto rebutted other than in this brief way, and so it is dropped. It is a great empirical example to bolster my argument here.

Con then accuses me of making a new argument. I did not--rather I turned Con's argument back upon him. Con says that offensive weapons will be accrued. My argument is that, even if this is true, that these weapons will deter and prevent war, rather than cause it to escalate. At this point, this argument is moot.

Firstly, one could argue that if the Jews resisted, they would start a civil war with Germany, and then the J.S.could go in to aid the Jews. Secondly, there are other ways to work to control genocidaires besides war--humanitarian intervention is not always war, for example. Evacuations, sanctions, political pressure, etc. could also assist.

SB) More Violence

Con drops a bunch of arguments here: (1) that wars of aggression are illegal, and (2) that straying from a rule of strict self-defense will increase cycles of violence. Con focuses exclusively on only one of my two cards.

What he does say is that the world is endlessly in a state of violence, and the best way to combat pursuits of power is to go to war. All this does, however, is create violence and embroil societies in needless war. Violence legitimates violence. If Hitler had been attacked first, it may have seemed that the allies were the unjustified aggressors, badgering the axis powers. The U.S. attack on Iraq, for instance, has legitimized a whole new era wherein soveriegnty's meaning is being constantly downgraded. Strong defense is better than preemption.

C2: Preemption

Con says that he cannot find my source (which I have only in hardcopy). Fine, we can disregard the last part of the source, but the first part of the source does correspond with the link; namely: "In July 1949, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that the Soviet Union would not be able to construct a nuclear weapon until mid-1951, though the first Soviet nuclear test occurred only some weeks later in August 1949...The day before the first Chinese nuclear test, the CIA estimated a Chinese test within 6 to 8 months." At no time does Con contest this half of my source.


Con drops my point here: "Con has put emphasis on obeying UN doctrine, yet preemption is illegal according the UN. This seems contradictory."

Con says he has shown that preemption is usually justified, but his only example is the 6-Day War. His source then says, rather vaguely, that "history is replete with examples when preemption worked" but he never specifies. I would point out that I proved two examples of preemption's failure, and I showed examples of how poor information and intel is not uncommon. I actually provided more examples than Con.

Preemption is not usually justifed because: (1) of poor intel, (2) it's illegal, and (3) Con fails to show that preemption usually works.

Con then backtracks. He stated, in R2: "Tension alone is not at all justification for preemptive action. In fact preemptive war is, "an attack initiated on the basis of incontrovertible evidence that an enemy attack is imminent.'" Con even took time to underline "incontrovertible." Con now says that "even if this definition is correct, [he] would amend [his] contention." Bascially, he acknoweldges that he cannot meet the burden he set up for himself, and is now trying to escape that burden. He set the burden, now he should be forced to meet it.

Con never explains his point re: cooperation. The Japanese incursion would have qualified as a border skirmish, and therefore would not be an initiation of war. I'll impact my SD later on.

Again, a J.S. may defend itself against any and all strikes, it simply is prevent from initating conflict, including with anti-ICBM tech.

C2: Rights

In the Revolution, it began with isolated skirmishes met with large scale British opposition. The British initiated, as I define it. I woudl argue that there is a distinction between humanitarian intervention and war, as well.
phantom

Con

"Never"

I never addressed this before because it was not too important and I needed to save space. However, now Pro seems to be changing the definition. Most of his initial reasoning is fine until he comes to the dumbfounding conclusion, "under the agreed-on definition of the resolution, I only need to show that in most cases a J.S. can't initiate war." It’s a massive stretch to reach “most often” from “never”. Pro has to show just societies should never (as a rule) initiate war, not that they should more often not do so.

Furthermore, since Pro & I both agree that the issue is theoretical, all that’s necessary is to think up one single instance of justified initiation of war & form a conception of a theoretical world where wars similar to the justified one happen all the time.

Framework

The statement, “if killing is wrong, it is almost always wrong” is false because it makes no sense at all to state something is wrong & then provide cases where it is right. If killing is wrong, then it is always wrong.

Initially, Pro stated that the person in his scenario should commit the less worse act, meaning he had an obligation to do so, & that it is the only moral course. He drops that language now & refuses to acknowledge that his theory amounts to the erroneous claim that persons can have a moral obligation to do something that is immoral. If X & Y are literally the only options, then it cannot in any conceivable way be immoral to do the one that is overall best.

Pro would have us believe he would be acting immorally either way but this is completely indefensible. This means that under his scenario where someone is forced into the option of either killing one to save five or killing one with no one else saved, the person is not under any obligation to kill the one to save the five, a clearly much better option.


It is not “broad general rules” that I am denying, rather broad general rules with obvious exceptions. In fact the absolute standard I presented could be formed as a broad general rule. Pro continually advocates for rules that are completely useless because they could be torn down & replaced with more specific ones. The right to life & right to vote both contain exceptions. If Pro is arguing that such rights should be universally stated, he has not shown why.

The Absolute Standard

Pro asks how we can weigh one moral value against the next. First, it wasn’t the purpose of this standard to cover questions such as those. It's only one broad principle out of a more complicated system. Second, unless Pro's theory does not value fairness & freedom, I'm not sure how this is unique to my standard. That being said, it's not significant at all either way. Fairness & freedom are very broad terms. In some cases such as a criminal’s sentence VS. having to wear seat belts, one is more important than the other but in other cases it could be different.

C.1 Deontology

I'm not at all ignoring definitions. Pro is changing what I already agreed upon to make it even more lenient on himself. When Pro states, as he did last round, "I submit that he has no shown evidence that this is the case in a majority of instances of deliberately initiated war", & this round, "under the agreed-on definition of the resolution, I only need to show that in most cases a J.S. can't initate war." I am of course going to call him out on it as he is then assuming "never" means more often than not rather than as a rule.

When the only options are to kill fewer innocents than more innocents, or to kill innocents or take a course of action with worse results, it is morally permissible to kill innocents. War sometimes results in the protection of innocent lives, but Pro holds to the absolutist view to still forgo action even if it better protects innocent lives.

Furthermore, Pro has clearly accepted the legitimacy of participating in wars that have already started despite the fact that this leads to the killing of innocents no less than actually initiating the war.

Lastly, if war is already on the horizon, it is futile to try to protect innocents by not initiating war.

C.2 Utility

If the Jews started a war against Germany, then they would be initiating war & thus acting against the resolution, so Pro is proving my point If the Jews did not start a civil war, then other nations could start the war. Pro shows no reason why not & for some reason only assumes that the Jews started a civil war first. There’s no firm standard to Pro’s reasoning. Why is it OK for other societies to come to the Jews’ aid, only after they’ve started a war?

Why not before the war has started?

Why not when the Jews are on the verge of starting a civil war?

Why not when the Jews had suffered defeat in their already crushed civil war?

Why not when the Jews did not initiate any war at all?

Why is it justified only after the Jews have started a civil war? I find it highly unlikely that Pro could satisfy these concerns.

In the vast majority of times Political pressure & evacuations would not be near enough to put the genocide to a stop.

I said the lines between offensive & defensive are often blurred but can sometimes be delineated. Since Pro’s only objection is a straw-man fallacy, we can assume that the difference between offensive and defensive weaponry is often blurry.

It still remains unclear why Pro can get away with mentioning only one country that reverts mainly to defensive weapons. Since many weapons take on a both offensive and defensive nature, nations will not only build up an offensive weaponry even if for defensive purposes, they will probably prefer weapons that may be used for both offense and defense as this gives them more options. Furthermore, that Japan’s weaponry is mainly defensive, does not mean they cannot initiate war, and if Japan wanted to participate in war, they could easily alter the nature of their weaponry anyway.

Since the resolution is only against initiation of war and not participation, just societies may still build up offensive weapons in anticipation of joining or being caught up in wars.

Weapons only help deter. The Cold War in multiple instances came “perilously close to starting World War III” [1]. The United States offensive weaponry was crucial to that not becoming so, but it was not in any way a guarantee. Additionally, potential initiation of war is another method of deterrence.

S-B

Pro earlier said the UN is irrelevant since the resolution is philosophical, yet still uses current laws to argue against me. The simple fact that the laws are in place does not prove anything as it does not prove they should be in place nor include times when they are not.

I did not state that war is always the best answer to immoral drives for power; rather that this is sometimes the best course. All this point proves is that the world would be better off if everyone was pacifist, but since immoral societies will always be starting or threatening wars, it is necessary for just societies to sometimes enter into the fray.

C.1 Preemption and other (?)

If war is already inevitable, it's useless to try to protect innocent lives by not initiating the war. War would happen either war, so if striking first gives the moral society an advantage, it should be done.

If preemption must have incontrovertible evidence, then I simply won’t argue for preemption but simply similar to it but with less strict standards. I don’t believe that that is the burden for preemption, but if it were, I would simply amend my contention.

I did not contest the example of poor intelligence because it is only one example of false intelligence.

I never advocated the prime infallibility of the UN. It’s OK for me to use UN policies as an example of keeping countries in check, sine that is a good thing, but I don’t need to favor the UN in every issue.

Since Pro has to prove J.S. should never initiate war, he’s at much more a burden to show instances of failure than I am to demonstrate instances of success. Since the Six Day War is not a rare implausible event, it refutes the resolution on its very own as “never”, even as defined as a rule, becomes invalidated. Since the resolution is theoretical, by showing one historical example, we can theorize many more like it and thus disprove the resolution that way. Furthermore, I provided other hypothetical examples.

Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor was an act of war; thus an alternative counter to the attack would have been preemptive war on America’s part. Since Japan was on its way to start a war with America, America could not have responded in any way that would not mark the start of war with Japan.

C.2 Protection of Rights and Well-being

The colonies began the revolution. Pro never explains how Britain initiated the war. “Many revolutions begin with the outbreak of violence, which is often a response to heightened repression or other extraordinary demands from government against their people. The American Revolution is an obvious example of this (Rule, 160). The violence took the form of the Revolutionary War”[2]. In other words the colonies literally reacted to the British with war.

Humanitarian intervention does not necessarily equal war, but can undoubtedly take the shape of war. If extreme Hutu nationalists seek the genocide of the Tutsi minority [3], and outside societies wish to stop it by means of force, the only way they can do so is by outright war. Minor skirmishes would certainly not be enough.

Pro drops the “utilitarianism is incompatible with rights” argument and ignores my theoretical, “If a society is seeking to enslave another or violate its basic rights, then that society is at right to start a war. Moreover, if a society is already enslaved, perhaps because of a previous war fought and lost, then that society has a right to try to escape its shackles.”

[1] http://goo.gl...

[2] http://goo.gl...

[3] http://goo.gl...

Debate Round No. 4
bsh1

Pro

I really want to take a moment to thank phantom for a truly fabulous and intense round. In this round I'll address the framework and the contentions, and then I shall explain why you should vote PRO today.

FRAMEWORK

Let me first return to my R3 summary of my definition, which was not challenged by Pro: "Never means 'as a rule.' I provided this specific example to illustrate this term: "I never drink soda, but maybe this one time." When we talk about doing things 'as a rule,' we accept that there may be rare exceptions to the rule in which case it is permissible to act outside of the rule; however, in the vast majority of cases, conformity to the rule is ideal. This can be evidenced by such statements as 'I don't lie, as a rule, but if it will spare her feelings, maybe I should.'" I must show that as a rule, i.e. in the large majority of cases, a J.S. should not initiate war.

Con then returns to his argument that the statement "if killing is wrong, it is almost always wrong" is false. Yet, Con DROPPED my response to this argument, and so my point stands. I pointed out: "The first clause, 'killing is wrong' is a generalization--a rule of thumb. From this generalization, we can extrapolate that killing is usually wrong." Con has, throughout this debate, dropped points only to challenge them again at his convenience. I responded to his attack, and he failed to counter.

Con focuses on a single word "should" which, in context, I was using to express what a rational choice would be. Rationality is not the same thing as morality. The rational course of action if X and Y are you only options is to choose the less harmful of the two. However, there is no moral option because both would require immoral actions. It's about choosing the lesser of two evils. Both options are evil, aka immoral, but choosing the less immoral action is logical.

Next, Con says that he is not denying broad general rules, but rather "broad general rules with obvious exceptions." Human rights are broad general rules with obvious exceptions. Consider, the right to vote, the idea that every person should be able to vote, is a broad general rule, but it has obvious exceptions. Criminals, the young, the mentally ill, etc. all should not have that right. At this point, Con is contradicting himself. He says human rights are important, but rejects the logic behind them at the exact same time.

Lastly, Pro sort of dodges the attack I offered against his standard, rather than tackling it head on. Firstly, it is unique to his standard because counting lives is objective, whereas comparing the worth of values like freedom and fairness is highly subjective. If two options of similar importance arise, one that promotes fairness, and the other that promote freedom, which do we take? Con's standard gives us no direction. This is highly relevant to the debate because a standard is a means of deciding which of two options is better--but Con's has serious issues in doing this because it lacks clarity.

ARGUMENTS

C1: Deontology

Con says, "Pro has clearly accepted the legitimacy of participating in wars that have already started despite the fact that this leads to the killing of innocents no less than actually initiating the war." Yet, as I have mentioned before, and which Con DROPPED, once a war has already begun, the death of innocents is inevitable. If a J.S. can help to bring the war to a close faster by intervening, it may. However, it is better to not initiate war at all, so no civilians die, than to engage in war.

Ultimately, when we consider that killing innocents is immoral, as just--or morally right--society, would not willfully initiate the deaths of innocents.

Con also says that if war is already on the horizon, it is futile to try to protect innocents by not initiating war. Yet, how does one know that war is a certainty. There are many wars that nearly happened, including a near U.S. war with Mexico, that was avoided when Pres. Wilson did not react to foreign provocation. Another example is the Berlin Airlift, avoiding outright war with the U.S.S.R. There are other examples as well. [1] War may loom, but that does not mean that it is inevitable. A J.S. should defend itself, but that does not mean it should strike preemptively, and set off a war that could have been otherwise avoided.

C2: Utility

SA

Con DROPS my point about the Japanese invasion as being an initiation of war. Con DROPS that Japan is the best example for this topic--the reason that Japan is the best example is that its constitution prohibits it from initiating war, and so the ideal case study for a J.S. that would not initiate war. This Japanese example shows that pacifist nations require few offensive weapons, but are able to use defense capacities to remain safe. Con concedes that some delineation between offensive and defensive weapons is possible.

If the Jews resisted the Germans, the Jews would be exercising self-defense, and not initiating war. The Germans used the military and police forces to forcibly capture Jews, the Jews may resist. These are small clashes, that the Germans would no doubt retaliate against with large forces, thus initiating the civil war. The Jews must merely resist with small, isolated clashes.

Moreover, Con DROPS: "Secondly, there are other ways to work to control genocidaires besides war--humanitarian intervention is not always war, for example. Evacuations, sanctions, political pressure, etc. could also assist." This would have helped saved the Jews regardless of whether they resisted.

Con concedes that weapons help deter. This matters because: "that these weapons will deter and prevent war, rather than cause it to escalate. At this point, this argument is moot."

SB

Again, Pro DROPS: "straying from a rule of strict self-defense will increase cycles of violence."

Con says that war is sometimes the best course to combat immoral drives for power, yet this does not address my concerns that "if Hitler had been attacked first, it may have seemed that the allies were the unjustified aggressors, badgering the axis powers. The U.S. attack on Iraq, for instance, has legitimized a whole new era wherein sovereignty's meaning is...downgraded."

C2: Preemption

Con again changes the goal posts. My last round argument sums this up well: "Con then backtracks. He stated, in R2: 'Tension alone is not at all justification for preemptive action. In fact preemptive war is, 'an attack initiated on the basis of incontrovertible evidence that an enemy attack is imminent.' Con even took time to underline 'incontrovertible.' Con now says that "even if this definition is correct, [he] would amend [his] contention.' Basically, he acknowledges that he cannot meet the burden he set up for himself, and is now trying to escape that burden. He set the burden, now he should be forced to meet it."

Pro admits he did not contest the examples of poor intelligence, but then backtracks on the UN. He lauds it at one moment, and distances himself from it at another.

The 6-Day war is a single instance of success, which does not disprove the resolution. It constitutes a "rare" exception, inasmuch as it is the only example Con can point to back his position. Offering any new examples would be against the new argument rule, and would be unfair to me in that I could not respond to any such examples.

Once Japanese fighter crossed the border, the U.S. could have responded. This would have been an "isolated border skirmish" and not a war.

Pro DROPPED during this whole debate: "The problem with the doctrine of preemptive war...is that it is simply too open-ended. Virtually any rival or power can be deemed to be a threat needing to be preempted." Thus, preemption can lead to unnecessary violence, death, and conflict.

C2: Rights

The colonies did not begin the revolution. The colonies expelled British official from the U.S. and from power, which does not constitute war. The British took the step of sending in troops to reassert British control. This was the first act of war, as it was the first significant mobilization of forces leading to widespread arms clash. [2] With the Rwanda example, peacekeepers might be able to solve the issue. They don't fire unless fired upon, and would serves to create safe zones within the countries.

VOTING ISSUES

Let's return to my BOP this round. I must show that, in a vast majority of cases, a J.S. should not initiate war. That means that, in isolated cases, wars could occur, so long as in the vast majority of cases, it doesn't. Furthermore, border skirmishes and isolated clashes don't count as war. Therefore, a J.S. is not defenseless. It can still use precision, small strikes, and can defend itself against direct attack. Humanitarian intervention can also be used as a tool to respond to a variety of crises, while still avoiding war. Moreover, we have a case study in Japan, which shows how a pacifist nation can survive without needing to go to war.

Furthermore, preemption is extremely risky. Pro hasn't shown that preemption usually works. There is also a risk of poor intel. Ultimately, if we use Con's standard of incontrovertible proof, preemption would be used very rarely, if at all. In other words, in the vast majority of cases, a J.S. would not initiate war.

If you accept nothing else I say in this debate, regardless of the framework, these two paragraph show that a J.S., in the vast majority of case, should not initiate war. There are alternatives like humanitarian intervention and precision skirmishes and there are reasons to avoid war altogether like spurring cycles of violence and unnecessary conflict.

Finally, Con cannot respond to dropped points, as that would be a new argument and I'd have no chance to respond. Thanks! VOTE PRO!

SOURCES

1 - http://www.cracked.com...
2 - http://en.wikipedia.org...
phantom

Con

As the debate comes to an end I would like to sincerely thank Pro for an excellent debate.


"Never"

I assume Pro concedes that he stretched the "never as a rule" definition. Never can be implied to mean as a rule, but not as most of time.

Pro also leaves the crucial point that, even with this loose definition of never, all that is required for me to win the debate is to find an exception and conceive of a world or future where this particular exception is not rare at all. For example, all that's needed is to find it conceivable that in the future, or in alternate theoretical worlds, conditions comparable to those that surrounded The Six Day War could be fairly common place.

Framework

This point is becoming somewhat semantics based and unimportant. The correct statement would be, if killing is wrong as a rule, it is almost always wrong. Under the current statement asserted by Pro, you could be saying one thing, then offering exceptions.

Pro equivocates allot. The very definition of "should" that Pro presented for this debate was of a "morally right thing to do". He now states that the "should" in his moral example, meant as a rational choice. Furthermore, the scenario and the choice the hypothetical person was being faced with was a moral quandry and thus it ought to be assumed in such hypotheticals that saying the person should do X or Y, you are saying that is the morally right thing to do. Either way, no matter what definition we use, if we say that you should choose one way over the other in a heavily moral dilemma, then you must be saying it as the moral thing to do. Whenever someone should do something, we have to assume the choice is at terms with morality. That doesn't mean every "should" is a moral choice, but since the options of killing one person to save five or killing one and saving none both heavily weigh into morality by saying one should choose the former, you are saying he is morally obligated to do so.

Furthermore, Pro continually states, but never adequately defends his assertion that both acts are immoral. Since killing one to save five is by far more in line with basic moral values than the only other option available to him, the man is of course obligated to choose it. Would you not judge him if he killed the one to save no one else? And would you honestly feel justified to judge him for killing the one to save five when he must kill someone no matter what? It would be as far as contemptible if he defended his choice by Pro's interpretation that both acts are evil and immoral and thus there is no obligation to do one over the other.

Therefore, if killing, or war, is the best choice out of all the alternatives, it should be done.

Pro's only argument is that rights, like the right to vote, contain obvious exceptions and so, apparently, I deny all rights. This is seriously in error. Since it contains obvious exceptions, we can merely rephrase the right to vote as the right to vote for all sane legal citizens of age who have no serious criminal status. I asked Pro why these rights should be universally stated but he merely presupposes it.

The Absolute Standard

I will again show why Pro's objections could be applied to almost all moral theories, including his own, and how it misses the point of what the standard is for. I assume Pro values freedom and fairness and thus, when those values are at odds, he must be made to make the same choice of one over the other. There's no problem with that because it's the very basis of most moral dilemmas--which value is stronger in that scenario. Moreover, the standard was not presented as a formula to answer all questions such as those, so the objection misses the point.


C.1 Deontology

Pro's moral views are full of double standards. To paraphrase Pro, if the war has started and intervening brings it to a swifter end we may intervene, but if the war has not yet started, we cannot initiate even if it will most likely lead to less innocents killed. However, I hardly say what delineates the two. Pro never explains his ambiguous application of standards. It seems he's very OK with war most times, but when it comes to actual initiation, he is dubious.

Since Pro has previously given us a scenario where we should kill an innocent person, proving that the killing of innocents is immoral falls short of proving we should never do it. I hold that war, despite killing innocents, can be moral, but even if it were immoral, Pro has supported a framework where immoral things should sometimes be done.

War does not need to be a certainty for war to be on the horizon. If an imposing nation is strengthening its forces on your border, announcing political hostility, putting its military on maximum alert, and other suspicious acts all at the same time as forming suspect treaties with other nations--all of which was the case of the Six Day War--then it is not certain but still probable enough that you will be attacked.

Stalin did not want to start a war. The war was almost initiated by the United States and was extremely uncertain. In other words, there was no intel that could have hinted towards war being on the horizon. It's only afterwards that we can say it almost happened; and this is not at all an example where striking first to protect innocents was an option. The Mexican example is simply an example where there would be no reason to strike first. Pro's source pretty much states that the US would have annihilated Mexico. To do that before Mexico had even shown aggression would have been clearly unnecessary and unjust.

C.2 Utility

I don't really care if Japan is the best example. A case study would be something but one example of a country with defensive weapons proves nothing. And their constitution prohibiting them from initiating war makes them unique--other countries would built up weapons without this law directing their potential use. Furthermore, since offensive and defensive can often not be delineated, countries will build up offensive weapons even if they plan to use them mainly defensively. Not only that they will prefer weapons that are not limited only to defense as that makes their weaponry clearly stronger. Finally, since it is accepted that just societies can participate in already started wars, there is nothing stopping them from collecting offensive weapons in anticipation of joining wars or attacking countries that declared war on them.

It's probable, and at the very least conceivable, that the Jews could only escape genocide by initiating war. Pro limits their retaliation to "small isolated clashes". My simple question is WHY? If a people are under threat of genocide they should be able to do almost anything within their power to prevent it. Genocide is a massively evil moral infringement that I can very comfortably state warrants retaliation by war.

I did answer Pro's alternate intervention point saying "In the vast majority of times it would not be near enough to put the genocide to a stop."

SB

Pro merely says that the allies would have seemed like unjust aggressors had they attacked Hitler first. In light of our historical perspective of World War II, we can easily say it would have been better had the allies attacked first. Pro merely speculates that the allies would have been viewed as unjust, which is moot and irrelevant as we know for sure it would have not been unjust even if it would have been unsure in an alternate version of events.

C.1 Preemption and Other (?)

Yes I backtracked in round 1 and 2 due to accidentally mentioning standards I did not at all mean to support--that is perfectly acceptable and I don't know why Pro has lingered on this. Preemption does not require incontrovertible evidence but if it does, then there are simply cases that don't match the preemptive standards that I still support.

I will note there was only one example of poor intelligence, not multiple ones. As stated, I accepted it because it was only on example.

I lauded one benefit of one particular part of the UN. "I never advocated the prime infallibility of the UN."

I wish Pro could explain what is so rare about the Six Day War. The situation was not the least extreme nor improbable. It could very conceivably happen to any nation, and thus is an obvious exception to Pro's rule of thumb. Since the Six Day War entails obvious foreseeable exceptions, it directly breaks the rule. Furthermore, Pro never responds to my hypothetical situations.

Pro ignores my reasoning as to why a US preemptive strike before Pearl Harbor would have had to have been an act of war. It is inconceivable to think that a preemptive strike by the US on a massive Japanese air force intent on starting a war with the US would not have initiated war. In that alternate reality, all historians would look to the US preemptive strike as the start of the war.

Refraining to preemptively strike in a potential nuclear war could guarantee annihilation and war, when it is on the verge of entering your doorstep, is often best countered with preemptive initiation.

Last, it's poor conduct for Pro to call it "Con's standard of incontrovertible proof" when I dropped that long ago.

C.2 Protection of Rights and Well-being

There is no debate against America having initiated the American Revolution and since this is Pro's only objection, we can view it as an example of a just war. Britain was the father nation so sending in troops to maintain order was far from an act of war. The colonies rebelled and Britain endeavored to stop it. Pro ignores my quote that unequivocally states the colonies reacted to British oppression with initiation of war.

The Hutu nationalists were a formidable military force and inflicted massive deaths in their Tutsi genocide. Sending enough troops to stop them and with the intent to use force if necessary, would itself be war; or once the fighting started it would be. It does not matter who fired the first shot so long as the intervening troops are there to fight.



Debate Round No. 5
37 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by TheHitchslap 2 years ago
TheHitchslap
Conduct: tied. Neither debtor violated any rules so far as I can tell
S/G: again none that I notice really outstanding .. odd grammar issues by both sides
and finally sources: none .. no reason too, both use'em and about the same...one error but it was corrected.
Posted by TheHitchslap 2 years ago
TheHitchslap
Same thing with P's case.
He does a great showing that B is speaking in absolute morality, and thus is not the same as the resolution and what it calls for. He speaks about WW2 and the ethics of what would have happened (pro's con's) of utilitarianism. This dilemma is excellent (previous RDF posts) in negating the resolution, but interestingly enough, I'm also convinced by B's case that a small ghetto uprising would still affirm the resolution and solve this dilemma.

He (P) also points out that preemptive strikes would allow for an advantage during war, which would also justify this line of argument that you cannot give up the ability to declare war. Similarly, B argues that anyone can be deemed an enemy and thus justify an attack, even though it would be morally wrong.

Having read this, I think these two debaters have hit a weird "hole" in terms of morality and the justification of an attack or not. Consequentialism requires empirics after an attack, making each case different, while the dirty nature of war means that you take on the calculated risk of knowing lives are on the line.

I find that neither debtor edged each-other out for arguments. As such I shall leave it tied. Both's skills against one another, in combination with my previous sentence more than justifies this. If the rules of the debate surrounding BOP were different, I could award a winner. However because BOP is shared, I cannot.
Posted by TheHitchslap 2 years ago
TheHitchslap
B also brings up a good point: the components of war does not mean that actions cannot still be taken out.

He also points out that as a rule can apply to certain exceptions as well .. I think this kinda clashes with one of his statements in round 2 that morally as a rule it cannot declare war. None-the-less still a good argument in combination with his example of a small force of individuals in an operation.

The tautology point is another good one, that it is usually wrong, which is a generalization more than anything, and that it's part of his syllogism .. both do agree in moral absolutes.

Other than that .. pretty much everything is a solid counter. He reaffirms his case. However, other than reaffirming his framework in terms of his debate, his semantics in terms of what he was going for is a little annoying. The framework is solid; innocents cannot be targets and they will always end up being harmed. This seems to be his strongest argument that's most noteworthy, albeit some misunderstandings between the two debtors is showing, such as contexts, conditions, and definitions.
Posted by TheHitchslap 2 years ago
TheHitchslap
Phantom (P) accepts definitions .. I presume to prevent argument from semantics

His opening is aggressive and equally strong: points out the tautology of B's statement, and that B is speaking in terms of moral absolutisms. Good refutations, the differentiations of cultures for instance would complicate this issue. Still, he himself begins to claim "The right choice; the just choice, is the moral choice and cannot be said at the same time to be bad." " which he just refuted himself as well, which is damning to his own case.

The utilitarian rebuttal as too general, and impractical is a little weak for my taste: he could have utilized the inability to predict future events to really blow a hole in B's case by throwing up a war dilemma (Say Hitler is killing 1 million jews, you know going to war = death .. so is it fair to claim that inaction is the just act if those deaths mean less Hitler gets to kill?) but instead he goes for the rules of society with no real reasons to follow something.. he strikes me more as a moral nihilist TBH.

Still he does point to the consequences of a morality as a key component, so even though it isn't a direct refutation that I would like, it's an indirect one. His case for preemptive defence and self defence is also sound, especially due to the resolution.

This case is also strong .. so far I find arguments to be tied thus far.
Posted by TheHitchslap 2 years ago
TheHitchslap
I am convinced by the moral argument that B presents; utilitarianism is a strong base to go off of in this case, along with deontology. However, the deontology B is wrong on. It is to my understanding that deontology is the ethics derived from the actor and the sense of duty one has, not absolutism in morality. I think moral absolutism is being confused here with deontology if I am not mistaken. None-the-less strong opening; war is terrible for everyone involved, uses examples (natives), and the complications ensuing due to war (limits on information, inability to predict future events, etc..)
Overall: strong opening. Though utilitarianism could be a game changer: he's right that it's bad for everyone involved but when I declare war I know that death is inevitable to few. If that is the case, you can flip this either way: that the death of anyone is bad for all, OR that the death of the few could have preventing impacts on ...say a state killing in a genocidal manner for instance.
Posted by TheHitchslap 2 years ago
TheHitchslap
RDF:
Notes before hand " I have no opinion on this issue, so I hope I can be as non-bias as possible, this seems like an interesting topic for me anyways being a poli sci major at school. Furthermore, about the only country I know to decide it no longer will declare war is Japan. So it'll be interesting to see the sides both for and against it.

BOP is obviously shared given Bsh1's (B for short) satement in round 1, point 2. One must affirm and the other must deny.

B starts with defining his terms .. the should have done this in round 1. Though understandable as they're done to illustrate very clearly what he is stating as his argument, it's still semantics.
Posted by whiteflame 2 years ago
whiteflame
RFD:

This was indeed a very good debate, and both sides have done a marvelous job of defending their cases.

There are a lot of various arguments in this debate, but really what it boils down to is whether there should be a moralistic rule among just societies that states that, in the vast majority of cases, they should not go to war. Both sides try to pull that "majority" line to their side, with Pro claiming that Con had to supply a majority of cases that showcased a problem with the rule, and Con claiming that the rule had to be all-encompassing. Thankfully, Pro shifted to a line of "vast majority" in his last round, so that makes it easy, since that was how I interpreted it from the outset.

So how do I use this to assess the debate? The arguments on deontology and rule utility have some merit in establishing what should be considered moral, and it appeared to me that looking at absolute rules (with the absolute basically meaning objective or overarching) was generally accepted as reasonable and the most effective way to decide how societies as a whole can act justly. Con's argumentation here has some merit, in that absolute as a term tends to neglect exceptions, but its first usage (along with "never") was well-defined by Pro, and thus I go with his view of the word over Con's, which seems to shift somewhat over the course of the debate.

The majority of the remaining arguments come down to smaller and somewhat tangential debates about examples. I like the Japan example, but it seems to me that the very things that make it a good example are shutting off routes of response by Con. I don't think Con hit this very well, so this example stands as a good case study of defensive weapons usage.
Posted by whiteflame 2 years ago
whiteflame
However, I end up buying Con's argumentation that just countries will build up offensive weapons, even if the only point is to keep a threat on potentially hostile countries. So the main purpose of this example " establishing that defensive weapons can prevent war effectively " is highly mitigated.

As someone who knows quite a bit about the Holocaust (and lost a number of family members in it), I find the arguments here perplexing on both sides. All of a sudden, we're talking about a non-state actor initiating war. As a non-state actor, they have no purpose in this debate about just societies, since they cannot initiate a war in the same way a nation can. Even if they could, I simply don't get argumentation about how they could have fought back heavily against a well-supplied military. It just seems like this example is a "what if" without much explanation as to what could have occurred. Pro provides some alternate strategies here that wouldn't initiate "war," though all of them seem a bit flimsy. Either way, this example just seems to wash out.

The 6-Day War is probably the strongest example in the round, as it's really granted that this is a good example of when such a war is valid. I'll address this more at the end.

Pearl Harbor becomes a convoluted example as well. I buy Pro's argumentation that a solid defense at Hawaii would have sufficed and, actually, been the better option. As a whole, this preemption point is really leaning towards Pro for me. The possibility of poor intel, plus the uncertainties regarding whether war would be initiated in the absence of such a strike, make me question its effectiveness and the dangers is poses. Con's response that we can know doesn't really change the fact that most times we don't.
Posted by whiteflame 2 years ago
whiteflame
The Revolutionary War example becomes a bit of a mess as well, since I have a hard time telling who started what, and whether it matters if the Revolutionaries or the Brits started it.

The Rwandan example gets a good response from Pro regarding peacekeepers.

The UN just seems to become a tangled mess by the end, and frankly, I'm not even sure what it was meant to do from the start.

But really, what all of these examples mean in the debate is what's most important. Thus, we go back to "vast majority." I would have liked to have seen Con really hammer this. What suffices as enough to call it the "vast majority"? How many examples would have to be presented before Con could say that it is not the "vast majority"? I'm not sure what the answers to these questions are, but the fact remains that only one example, the 6-Day War, stands strong in the end. So, how to regard it? I have to use Con's own statement here:

"...all that's needed is to find it conceivable that in the future, or in alternate theoretical worlds, conditions comparable to those that surrounded The Six Day War could be fairly common place."

I simply don't see enough coming out of Con's argumentation to show that this is the case. I'd like to have seen some argumentation on why this situation would be common, but I don't see nearly enough to support such a stance. As such, I have one example, plus an unspecified but still likely low number of future examples, to bring to bear strongly for Con. It's much easier for me to therefore state that a few examples constitute a very small minority, and therefore that the remainder constitutive the vast majority, than it is for me to state that these few examples disrupt that vast majority substantially. As such, my vote goes to Pro.
Posted by YYW 2 years ago
YYW
I always enjoy reading other people's RFD's. It's interesting to me, because it gives me a brilliant opportunity to see how other people think, and whether they understood the debate or not.
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by TheHitchslap 2 years ago
TheHitchslap
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Vote Placed by whiteflame 2 years ago
whiteflame
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Vote Placed by Oromagi 3 years ago
Oromagi
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YYW
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Reasons for voting decision: Neither of you really met your burden of proof. It's a tie.
Vote Placed by TUF 3 years ago
TUF
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Reasons for voting decision: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1yc4E4e8EqV2kBZWz134g4whZQWklBppNxDoke6wNozE/edit?usp=sharing