The Instigator
Maia
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
Luden
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

Is self-sacrifice an ethical choice in a one on one scenario? What about lethal self-defense?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/12/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 743 times Debate No: 63145
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (6)
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Maia

Pro

I think that self- sacrifice, even for only a single life, is indeed an ethical option. In this hypothetical situation, the person being saved is of approx. the same age as the saver, has no choice in the matter and has committed no terrible crimes or acts of unselfish good. Personally, I choose to answer this question with yes because I would not be able to live with myself otherwise. I would forever feel like I had payed for my life in blood. This might push me to inspired acts of kindness, but the same could be said of the rescued.

On the other hand, lethal self defense, while a last resort, is also ethical. In this situation, the attacker is again the same approx. age, and while the attacked could certainly kill the attacker, to hold back with non-lethal means would result in the death of the attacked. In this case, I go with the idea that if all life is sacred, so then is your own. The attacker chose their course of action, and must live, or not in this case, with the consequences.
To me, it comes down to a matter of circumstance. Who started the confrontation? If a life is required, theirs should be the one forfeit. If there is no one responsible, who can take responsibility? I'd rather give my life to save another than live with the knowledge another is dead because I failed to act.

To debate, you don't have to disagree with both points, just one. I would like your insight into both, though. I included both for a more well-rounded argument. the spin off question is optional. I'm curious as to your opinion.

Spin off argument: Should the rescued get a say in if they should be saved, knowing that the attempt will take the saviors life? Or should it reside with the rescuer, because it's their life they must choose to offer, and the rescued had no choice but to find themselves in the situation?
Luden

Con

Firstly, throughout I will quote you so that if there has been a misunderstanding it might be swiftly identified. Secondly it might benefit us to break your argument into pieces otherwise our responses might become unwieldy book-like structures.

So then, let it begin.

"I think that self- sacrifice, even for only a single life, is indeed an ethical option."

Quite a heavy handed opening statement. Let us paraphrase while I attempt to peel back my pedantry. I will, I promise, just let me organize first.

[Your stance in this debate is such that: if One(1a.) were to self-sacrifice (do we mean kill themselves particularly, here? or could they just sacrifice their vanilla ice-cream sundae?) in a situation involving only two individuals, those being, one, the to-or-not-to (REF. 1a. The one who is wont to sacrifice) and, two, the person being saved (REF. 2a.) who is at the whimsy of Person 1a. is indeed an ethical (by ethical, what do you mean exactly? that might help your entire debate process, because as every person has their own "ethics" I really can't know except by guessing, which is what I'll be doing, what you're basing yours off of, utilitarianism? ...maybe...) option.]

Ok. So with that out of the way, my stance now. I appreciate that you ended your opener with the word option. It seems there are a few here. To be blunt: I base my assessment of worth off of potential. How do you measure potential? Hell if I know. I've never controlled train tracks and been told I had to choose between an old woman and a baby, so it works great on paper, I guess. But there are some really key factors hidden in the rest of your argument I'd like to bring up.

"has committed no terrible crimes or acts of unselfish good. "

So you're establishing a blank slate status here with person 2a. But I really like the way you phrased "acts of unselfish good" as in this person is remarkably unremarkable. They've done good but for selfish reasons, you expand on that idea later. The weakest part of your argument exists when you admit what you would do as the consequence of the situation. I'm extrapolating your logic as one of ends over means here. Sort of like weighing potential, but with seeds of guilt.

"I would not be able to live with myself otherwise...like I had payed for my life in blood."

Why would you feel guilt? Person 2a. "has no choice in the matter" and therefore would not be doing something unselfish. Unless you would feel this out of survivor's guilt, but in such a case I feel the situation ought be better defined. You do, like I said, mention doing good because of it. But rationalize back the idea that person 2a. would do the same. Suppose you had no choice in the matter either. Would you then still feel guilty? Probably. So basing the ethics of choosing to sacrifice something on how well you live with yourself afterward is really only a matter of justification. So did person 1a. HAVE to choose BECAUSE person 2a. Couldn't?

So, while defining our terms, my stance is:
if 1a. chooses themselves to die while 2a. is unaware - ethical? YES
if 1a. chooses themselves to die while 2a. is aware - ethical? NO
if 1a. chooses themselves to die because 1a. will die if not - ethical? NO
if 1a. chooses themselves to die because 2a. will die if not - ethical? YES, IF*
if 1a. has to choose whether or not to sacrifice SOMETHING due to some outside force demanding - ethical? N/A**

*If there is no other way for person 2a. to survive except for if another person (OTHER) were to die, and if, person 1a. made such a choice willingly under no duress
**It is my stance that no ethical decision can be made while under obligation to make said decision, that being said, there are those who would define moral inclinations as obligations, this is not what I mean. I mean if I say, person, you MUST say you're sorry to your mother, even if you do, such an action cannot be seen as sincere, therefore if I say person you MUST choose whether to self sacrifice or to kill a human being who is relatively decent, there is no sincere moral choice to be made.

Looking forward to your rebuttal. I hope I was thorough at least in the first point. And I can't wait to address the second and spin off. Thanks for the debate!
Debate Round No. 1
Maia

Pro

I love your points in the argument. Let me clarify a little before I begin. So, person 1a has been offered a choice, give their life to save 2a or live and 2a will die. 2a has no say in the argument, but I they are aware of the choice and what it will entail. For sake of argument, lets stick with that. There is no other way to save 2a, and no matter what only one person will survive. When I say ethical, I mean according to your own moral code on right and wrong, which I agree is largely subjective, would sacrificing your own life, you being 1a in this scenario, be the right choice? This is entirely hypothetical, I know that actual results in this choice would be very different due to fear and stress.

Moving on to my stance. Yes, your right, my motivations are largely out of guilt. If I were 2a and someone chose to give their life to save mine, then I would also feel incredibly guilty. That's what led to the spin off question. The idea is that, even though 2a may feel guilt over this, it was not their choice to be in this situation, but it is MY choice on whether or not to get them out. If 2a were some saint, or a serious criminal that had done despicable deeds, or was even younger or older than 1a, then the choice becomes a matter of potential, like you mentioned. However, the idea behind the question is that the two are equal, for lack of a better term. Because people are so different, we can't say for sure which is truly the 'better' person, but the blank slate removes a lot of obvious deciders.

So, in an equal standing for a one on one scenario, then even if 2a is aware of the choice, then I would still say sacrifice is ethical. While 2a would doubtlessly be guilty over the idea of someone dying to save them, they had no choice in the matter. They didn't ask or decide for the other person to die. However, if 1a allows 2a to die, they will have made a conscious decision to let 2a die so that they can live. In my mind, that's just a step below murder. It is a rather grey moral area, I'll happily admit that, but in this case I personally would choose, as 1a, to save 2a regardless of personal danger.

Forgive me if anything isn't clear, I'll be happy to extrapolate on any points that are confusing. I'm recovering from a concussion so my explanations may be foggy. I know the points, and understand them just fine, communicating is just a tad difficult right now.
Luden

Con

Luden forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
Maia

Pro

So, I sort of need an opponent to continue an argument. Please post your rebuttal ASAP.
Luden

Con

Luden forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
Maia

Pro

Need an opponent. Did you die? Because that would suck for all kinds of reasons. I really liked this argument too...
Luden

Con

Luden forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
Maia

Pro

Maia forfeited this round.
Luden

Con

Luden forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by Burls 2 years ago
Burls
Wow; shades of the monkey's paw.
Posted by Ludicrousmedal3 2 years ago
Ludicrousmedal3
While I disagree, you do have good intentions. In the heat of conflict one will react differently to another. You will never know until the conflict is over. People will also react differently after the fact if you did defend yourself while taking the life of another. Some may regret said actions. Some may suffer psychological problems. Or some may move on knowing that they made the right moral choice. This debate is about one's own moral code. So there will posters with their own take on this subject.
Posted by Burls 2 years ago
Burls
Do you think you can go 5 rounds? I predict that after presenting your case for two more rounds you will be a no-show for the final sets.
Posted by Pfalcon1318 2 years ago
Pfalcon1318
This isn't really set up as a debate topic. Perhaps more like a forum or polls topic.
Posted by Maia 2 years ago
Maia
Sorry if it's unclear. The debate is about the morality of sacrificing your own life for sake of another, in two different scenarios. One is for a victim with no choice in the matter, the other is for an attacker with lethal intent. If either one is disagreed with, then the debater can challenge me. You don't have to disagree with both. Insight into the spinoff, which is a follow-up question, is appreciated but not required. Call it curiosity.
Posted by vwv 2 years ago
vwv
What exactly is this debate about?
No votes have been placed for this debate.