The Instigator
hyperjesus
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
firefury14620
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

If I travelled foward through time and killed myself would I be committing suicide or murder?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/6/2016 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 693 times Debate No: 90810
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (12)
Votes (0)

 

hyperjesus

Pro

I envision a court case in which a time traveller having travelled forward through time, has been witnessed killing himself/herself and now stands trial for murder. Scientists have established that indeed the killer has travelled through time and has killed his/her future self. The accused's defence team argue that the time traveller is innocent of murder and had merely committed suicide.

Pro will argue from the stance of the prosecution, that it was murder.
Con will take the stance that is wasn't murder, but was an act of suicide.
I'm new to this site and this will be my first debate. I'm not concerned with whether I'm Pro or Con, just thought it would be a fun debate.

Good luck.

It appears I have to pick a stance to submit; I'll go pro, but if somebody would rather be on the prosecution we can just say pro is now the defence team, and con prosecution.
firefury14620

Con

I will take the defense team's side that this was, in fact, a suicide.

To start out with, here is the Merriam-Webster Dictionary's definition of a suicide:
"the act of killing yourself because you do not want to continue living"

The defendant has, therefore, committed suicide, not murder.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary's definition of a murder is:
"the crime of deliberately killing a person"

While the defendant did deliberately kill a person, he killed himself, albeit in the future. This means that the defendant has met the qualifications of a suicide over the qualifications of a murder. The problem with classifying it as a murder is that the defendant has killed himself. Even though he is still alive in the present, he will be seen killing himself in the future. Even though it will be the present version of him killing the future version of him, he has technically killed himself, no matter how paradoxical the situation ends up being.
Debate Round No. 1
hyperjesus

Pro

The definitions you have quoted are both sound and accurate, indeed suicide is indeed the act of killing yourself because you know longer want to live, however we have no knowledge of his future state of mind, and also I want to question whether he was in fact killing himself, or killing another unique person. Whilst the scientists have confirmed the victim a future version of the defendant, how do we define the notion of 'self'? Genetics? Life experience? Mere biochemistry?
Identical twins when conceived come from a single embryo, which eventually splits, we consider them to be two separate persons. They are shaped as individuals by the external environment, by their individual life experiences, it is nature and nature together which define them. The prosecution argues that the future version of the defendant has had a significant amount of time to experience enough life changing experiences, that he should be considered an individual person separate from the accused.

Let me offer this analogy, that I have stolen from the movie 6th day: imagine that everytime one of us died we uploaded all of our consciousness into a clone, and from our perspective now in the present we had died and been reborn one hundred times. Imagine your latest body was terminally ill and a new body was being prepared. Having been through the process many times you no longer feared death. However once the naked clone has had your consciousness replicated, has all your memories felt exactly how you felt five minutes ago, hoping nothing goes wrong with the process, suddenly bolts up looks you in the eyes and says give me your clothes idiot. At that point would you still consider that the clone was you, or would you realise that the moment your consciousness was split down to separate paths via time, you had become two separate individuals, one knowing he is about to die and another who believes he is immortal and this is just the one hundred and one time he has been reborn?
The point is that the future defendant should be just called the victim, and considered a unique individual with different life experiences, beliefs and goals, a victim we believe wished to live.
firefury14620

Con

My opponent's analogy holds no ground in this case. This is an older version of the same person in the same body. The example my opponent uses has a different body and, therefore, a different organism. If this is taken down to the biological level, an organism is a separate being that can function on it's own or in the womb. This means that all living things, including unborn babies, are separate organisms. Since this is the same organism in different stages of life, why would it not be considered killing yourself? My opponent's analogy with twins also holds no ground as they are different organisms. Siamese or conjoined twins are considered to be the same organism if they share essential organs. The defendant and his future self both have the same organs, albeit at different times. My opponent makes a good point, we don't know if he wanted to die, but that is from a generalized definition. As a detective, a killing is ruled a suicide if the person has killed themselves. My opponent also brings up the nature vs. nurture argument. This argument also holds no ground because this is not a case of morals, but of evidence found relevant in the legal system. The legal system would say that what the defendant did can be considered a suicide because he acted upon himself.
Debate Round No. 2
hyperjesus

Pro

The defence has disregarded my analogies, but in doing so have dismantled their own arguement. Let's look at what the defence has stated "an organism is a separate being that can function on its own or in a womb". Well here we have the accused sitting here, functioning on his own, breathing, whilst the victim lies dead in a morgue. The accused is not reliant on the victim for his survival, he is a separate organism. With a different heart, different lungs, different brain, different body. Just like the defence stated siamese twin are only considered one entity if they share essential organs. I wonder which essential organ of our unfortunate victim, now rotting away, is keeping the accused alive?
firefury14620

Con

My opponent needs to take into account that this is in the future. This means that, while the defendant may be sitting here fine right now, in the future he will be dead. The time frame means that he can be living now but not be living in the future. For example, my opponent is alive now, but in 70 or 80 years (depending on age), my opponent will probably be dead. They share essential organs because they are the same organism, just in different places on the timeline. My opponent seems to refuse the fact that these are the same person, and that there is a timeline that must be followed with any type of time traveling that means that organisms can be the same organism just at different times of their life. My opponent will still be the same person in an hour as he/she is now, but will have lived an extra hour of his/her life. This does not make them different organisms.
Debate Round No. 3
hyperjesus

Pro

The prosecution does refute that indeed the accused is the same person, whilst the scientists have expressed that indeed this is genetically the same man, only from a different timeliness, they have failed to prove that this man is the same on a atomic level, and they can't because he isn't. The defence reject the notion that life experience hold any ground in this case but I think is unavoidable that the law now take this into account in light of this unique case; for every atom in the body is eventually replaced. Radioactive isotopes have been used unethically in the past to determine how quickly the body replaces it's atoms, estimates have ranged from between 98% in 1 year alone to complete replacement within 7-10yrs. Whilst we are uncertain how many yrs into the future the accused has travelled the man appears significantly younger. If twins share the same genetics and don't share the responsibility for the other's crimes, and on an atomic level the two men both past and future share none or at best a handful out of billions of atoms, then continuity of life experiences must be a factor added to law when dealing with unique cases such as this, and as we have previously stated a significant amount of time has past for the victim to be a completely different person, politically, rationally, morally, and most importantly independently.
firefury14620

Con

To identify someone as the same person, the person must be the same person they were when they were conceived. This means that, by my opponent's logic, in a year, he will not be the same person anymore. On a biological level he will be, on a cellular level he will be, but he isn't the same person. Cells use mitosis to reproduce, which means that they create exact copies of themselves. This means that, while the atoms have changed, it is still the same cell structure. My opponent would like to argue that experience makes someone a whole different person. I keep using my opponent as an example, but I will use him again. By that logic, if I was able to convince my opponent to agree with me on this instead of the stance my opponent currently has, he would be a different person at that point in time. As the jury can clearly see, hearing my arguments has not made him a different person than he was at the beginning of the trial, merely increased the number of neuron connections in his brain. He may be decaying on an atomic level, but by that logic, a radioactive isotope would be come a different radioactive isotope after, let's say, it's half-life comes. This is, obviously, not true. While the isotope is less radioactive, it is still the same element. Atoms also replace themselves with identical copies. I feel like my opponent is trying to go smaller and smaller as my arguments refute his. There's nothing smaller than atoms, so there seems to be nothing else that he can argue.
Debate Round No. 4
hyperjesus

Pro

The defence's opening statement in the last round, claims that the "person must be the same person they were when they were conceived", however has dismissed my identical twin point from a previous round, that twins are the same on cellular level. Identical twins are the same person at the moment of CONCEPTION, they come into being though cellular mitosis, to quote my opponent again "cells use mitosis to reproduce, which means that they create exact copies of themselves". Another way to describe mitosis is to say that a cell has cloned itself (a common term), only with twins, cells have ended up reproducing until they have produced double the amount of everything and two fetuses arise from one. If my opponent 's statement that a person should be considered the same person at the moment of conception, then the law must state all twins, triplets etc, are responsible for the CRIMES of their siblings! Fortunately my opponent provided us which the definition of an individual organism, "an organism is a separate being that can function on its own or in a womb", and both the victim and accused, whilst biologically the same have gone through the same process of mitosis, or another way to say it is they are clones of each other separated via time in the same way identical twins are separated via time and are in effect clones of each other, this case is actually one of fratricide.
The defence cannot counter that the accused and defence share the same body for they do not share the same matter. They are built from different atoms. They are different organisms.
The defence does make an interesting point regarding whether in a year if all of the atoms had been replaced in my body I could not be convicted for a crime I committed a year previously, this I believe is not the case because here we have continuity via time.
I am going to bring up the paradox of Thesuses ship, in this paradox Thesuses has a boat which through the course of its use, has all of its components replaced, let's say the mast is replaced, the next the wheel etc until the whole ship has been replaced. The paradox questions at what point the ship ceases to become the ship, or if at all and still remains the same ship, even after all components are changed. We can use this paradox as an analogy for human beings, who undergo the same process. The wall of China is said to have stood for 2121yrs, however it has undergone countless rebuilds of sections throughout the years, there is no one area that has stood for even a fraction of that time, however in this case there has been continuity throughout time, where as a whole it has remained standing. If we were to completely knock it down, and leave it for 20yrs before rebuilding it, could it be claimed at that point, it had stood for 2141yrs? Another example is if I took a deck board from Thesuses ship and built a new boat to fit that board, would that new boat now be considered Thesuses ship? The answer is no to both questions, it is the continuity throughout time which makes the claim the wall of China has stood 2121yrs valid, and this continuity of time which make the ship presented in the original paradox indeed the same ship, even after all parts have been replaced, as it is also the case with humans. THERE HAS BEEN NO CONTINUITY THROUGHOUT TIME BETWEEN THE ACCUSED AND VICTIM, and therefore are different organisms.
My opponent has claimed I cannot take the argument smaller than atoms, which I will take this statement to included the subatomic, so I will take my argument beyond matter and bring in electro-magnetic waves, in particular brain waves.
Current scientific theory believes that human consciousness can be reduced down to gamma waves, electro-magnetic waves which oscillate between neurons around the 40htz range. Within these waves are our memories, hopes, dreams, beliefs, loves, and fears, they are our consciousness. Neurons will die and others be regrown but the brain waves will remain, but they change and evolve as they are influenced by the external environment, those influences enter the brain via alpha waves, and evolve the nature of the gamma waves through natural time. If the brain is starved on oxygen for long enough and enough neurons die, gamma waves stop and the organism is dead. The accused and victim did not share the same consciousness, consciousness is determined by the oscillating grey matter, the atoms which carry the gamma signal, and both have been determined to have both different atom in their brains, different cells and had been exposed to significantly different alpha waves (external influences). If my opponent claims that it is the gamma signal that is important not the matter then he will have to back track on his earlier rejection of the analogy about the clone waking up and demanding the clothes of his predecessor, for that clone was more close on a cellular level and on a conscious level (had closer gamma waves) with his predecessor than the had victim with the accused.
As my opponent said in his opening statement that no matter how paradoxical the situation ends up all that matters is whether the individuals are the same organism and one has killed the other. I believe I have conclusively proved both these are in fact to separate individuals.
I'd also like to state that the jury should make their decision based on the present and disregard whether eventually the accused will in the future and become the victim, with the discovery of this new time travelling technology, this would open the door to a legal nightmare where individuals could be convicted for future crimes, and also we are uncertain to whether in the future this is inevitable, or the accused future murder be avoided, we can only judge crimes for past and present acts.

To summat the victim is on a cellular level no different to that of a twin, and should be considered either a clone or identical brother.
On an atomic level both are made up of completely different matter.
They have two separate consciousnesses.
The accused survival does not depend on his victim.

We the prosecution believe we have proved that the two men are individual organisms, by the defence's own definitions, and that again by their own definition this is a case of MURDER not suicide.

#########
I'd like to personally thank my opponent. This debate was more than I could have hoped for, and could have easily just been a response of"no because doc brown said so!". So thanks again and I look forward to his closing statement.
firefury14620

Con

It seems that my opponent has proved me wrong, it is possible to go beyond an atomic level. I also believe that I said they had to be the same person at the time of BIRTH not conception. The theory of time continuity would imply that, over any amount of time, a person shall be the same person they were at birth. I have heard of the paradox you mentioned, and would like to counter that with the fact that the victim has been the defendant at one point in his/her life. My opponent, or his future self, cannot say that, in the past, he was me. This is because I am a completely separate organism. To put that into perspective, would the jury consider that a pet that you have since birth is the same pet at the time of death, no matter how much later that is. Why is this not the case with the defendant? No matter how much time passes, they were both born at the same time, from the same sperm and egg, in the same hospital, and have the same birth certificate. They have the same genes and the same parents. They have the same little league trophies and the same kindergarten teacher. Does this not mean that, on a personal level, they are the same organism? Atoms do not change the person.

I would like the jury to consider the moral implications of placing the same person in different categories just because of time continuity.
Debate Round No. 5
12 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by hyperjesus 1 year ago
hyperjesus
It's a good job then, the question stated forwards in time not backwards.
Posted by I_Wanna_Rawk 1 year ago
I_Wanna_Rawk
umm... If you go back in time and kill yourself, you would cease to exist because you would not have existed in the first place to go back and kill yourself, but then you wouldn't be able to kill yourself, thus creating a time paradox.
Posted by firefury14620 1 year ago
firefury14620
Can everyone stop commenting and start voting please?
Posted by hyperjesus 1 year ago
hyperjesus
@ its.chandler.
Did you read the argument? Even if the the men have two different consciousnesses, are built from different atoms, are on a cellular only that of identical twins? You still believe the men to be the same person? What's your reasoning?
Posted by hyperjesus 1 year ago
hyperjesus
@firefury14620 Cheers! It's a good name.
@ReasonFirst As firefury said, its the future he travelled to, not the past. At some point after the trial, regardless of whether he serves a sentence or not, he travels back to his own time.
Posted by its.chandler 1 year ago
its.chandler
Suicide, you still killing yourself.
Posted by firefury14620 1 year ago
firefury14620
He killed him in the future.
Posted by ReasonFirst 1 year ago
ReasonFirst
if you kill yourself in the past via time travel then you will not be able to stand trial because you are in fact dead now in the past. this would make a trial impossible.!!
Posted by firefury14620 1 year ago
firefury14620
Hey you're cool. I don't really care anyways. I play Clash of Clans, and that's always the assumed gender.
Posted by hyperjesus 1 year ago
hyperjesus
Apologies firefury, I've referred to you in the male tense, quite a few times in my argument.
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