The Instigator
Icelandical
Pro (for)
Losing
14 Points
The Contender
burningpuppies101
Con (against)
Winning
42 Points

It is morally permissible to kill one innocent person to save the lives of many innocent people.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/28/2008 Category: Society
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 8,822 times Debate No: 5569
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (8)

 

Icelandical

Pro

I affirm the resolution: It is morally permissible to kill one in order to save others

To clarify this case I will use the following definition:

Morally permissible: that act of judging in a circumstance to conform the right behavior
Kill: To take way one's life; cause death
Innocent: free from evil motives or moral wrongs
Happiness: absence of pain and up bearings
Save: to rescue or prevent harm or injury
Society: a highly structured human organization upheld by hierarchy which furbishes protection, security, and national identity for its members.

Value: The Welfare of Society
My value is the welfare of the society. For the better of the society, which supports people as individuals, it is important to ensure the prosperity of it.

Value Criterion: High value of Life
My value criterion is the protection of lives. For society to continue, it is important to protect the people. It also ensures the wellbeing of society. Without the high value towards lives, society will disarray and fall apart. A lawless confusion may start.

Contential 1: Positive results
A. More lives are protected
It is highly likely for the negative and positive sides to lose lives. However, on the positive side, only one killed will offer the chance of life to the majority of the people. By not acting immediately, there is a higher chance for lives to be forfeited. Since all lives are equal, saving more will be better than not too. Life comes with rights. Therefore, people's right to life protection is maximized.

B. Promotion of happiness
The affirmative increases the amount of happiness for others. By happiness, meaning no physical pain. Since the majority people will be saved, their families' sorrow will perish. People have many connections with others, as shown among friends, families, and aquantainces. Therefore, by having the majority survive, sorrow will not increase.

C. For the greater good
Jeremy Bentham once quoted "It is the greatest good to the greatest number of people which is the measure of right or wrong" He believes that final results will affect people the most. By protecting the majority, the majority will carry out the society's will.

I stand by to hear your debate.
burningpuppies101

Con

Hello everyone,

I've seen this debate a lot, and decided that I would attempt it too. Thanks to my opponent for the debate, and let the debate begin!

First, I want to put forth my own definition from Merriam Webster:
Moral: 1 a: of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior : ethical b: expressing or teaching a conception of right behavior c: conforming to a standard of right behavior d: sanctioned by or operative on one's conscience or ethical judgment e: capable of right and wrong action

Permissible: that may be permitted.

Together, one can safely assume that that morally permissible actually means that it is not forbidden by moral standards to do a certain act. Therefore, applied to this debate, we can say that killing one innocent person is not forbidden by moral standards to save the lives of many people.

I'm fine with the rest of your definitions.

MY ANALYSIS OF THE TOPIC:
My opponent is given the burden of proving that it is indeed ok to kill one person according to moral standards, if in doing so I save the lives of many more people. I have been given the burden of proving that it is not ok to kill one innocent person according to moral standards, even if in doing so I save the lives of many more people.

My Value: Morality
Moral laws are either upheld or broken. There is no gray area. Even if you break a moral law for a good purpose, the act of breaking the moral law is wrong.

Criteria: If the pro of this debate violates morality, then I win, if they do not, they win.

I think that it will be easier if I state my contentions first and then refute my opponents points:
Contention 1.
Killing is a immoral act, and unjustifiable. We are depriving an innocent person who has done nothing to deserve death of life. If we were to do that, we would be committing an immoral act. It is therefore not moral to kill an innocent person, whatever the reason.

Contention 2.
We are changing our system of morality to justify horrible acts of murder. The pro side of this case is arguing in favor of a change in morality where it is acceptable to kill. That is wrong, because it puts us in a mentality saying that killing to save others is ok. Who gets to determine whether or not to kill to save? Also, you could justify a number of horrific acts, by justifying them by saying that we would save others. We could justify killing one innocent person becasue they are a suspected terrorist, and they are supposedly planning a bomb. However, we could have no evidence, but we could still justify it because we are saving the lives of many innocent people. Killing that innocent "terrorist" is better than not killing that innocent "terrorist", even if that "terrorist has not done anything. We could justify killing me, just beause I "might" be planning something. We would be able to justify that act because we could claim that we are saving more people by killing me. We could justify horrible acts of murder, just because we can claim that we are saving the lives of more people.

Ok, so those are my main 2 contentions, and I'll refute my opponent now.
1. Positive results.
You claim that the ends justify the means. By killing one person, we save more people. However, that is a bad mentality. See my contention 2 for more on that. So you could claim that killing, an immoral act, is ok, as long as we save others. That is the wrong mentality, since that could lead us on a road to destruction. We could justify horrible acts by extension, like waterboarding and other forms of toture, just to save some other people.
A. Just becasue more lives are saved, it does not justify killing. Also, you are defiling the victims right to life.
B. Why does happiness justify killing? Happiness does not justify killing, because killing is wrong, no matter what.
C. This claim is coming from Utilitarianism, but in this debate, you must justify killing. You have done so by saying that many people's lives is worth more than one person. However, again, that is a kill to save mentality, which will only lead us on a road to destruction.

Also, my opponent has not provided any context for this act, so I'm assuming there is none, and he is just arguing for killing one innocent person to save the lives of many more no matter what. He has not said any context. Therefore, I can only assume there is none.

Thank you
Debate Round No. 1
Icelandical

Pro

I thank my opponent for providing me this wonderful opportunity to debate. Thank you!
Now to debate.

Value:
My opponent's value is dropped. By my opponent's definition for morality or moral, it means to have the majority gains favor because the definition clearly states "conform", meaning making social standards of people equal and to act in accordance. Therefore, he supports my value. Thus, my opponent's value is inferior to mine. My value supports better because it looks on to welfare of society which supports society and the individuals in it.
My opponent stated that in his value that breaking a moral law for a good purpose is wrong. However, there will be consequences on the affirmative. Affirmative side should not be judged upon this. To be morally permissible, it is the intention that should be judged. Because the act of killing one in order to save many is noble, it is morally permissible. In the decision of doing this, killing one would be a last resort. The reason for killing one is that there is no alternative solution to the matter.

Value Criterion: My opponent's value criterion is not clear. Value criterions are supposed to support value statements, not tell the requirements for this debate. That is for observations or analysis. Therefore the criterion is dropped.

Contentional 1: My opponent also did not set measurements of morality. Therefore, it is vague. By moral, meaning the principles of right and wrong behavior, the act to save more people by killing one can be justified as moral. In the definition provided moral can also mean a moral obligation. A human being has the duty to protect humanity. Moral also means conforming to the right standard of behavior. As stated above, in the definition of moral to conform to the right standard behavior means to act in accordance and together (majority) in deciding wrong from right. Therefore, why is it not moral to save more lives?
Killing and condemning people are the same thing. Killing is the last resort of a situation that brings harm, meaning death, to innocent people. By taking inaction will result in further sacrifices, but by taking the initiative to kill one will save more.
Contentional 2: My opponent states that it is wrong mentality. In my opponent's definition, it states that morality is conforming to a standard of right behavior. "Conforming" means to act in accordance or harmony. Therefore, it supports that all people are equal in social standards. Thus, moral meaning conforming to a standard behavior and innocent meaning free from evil motives and morals contradicts wrong mentality. By conforming in to a standard behavior of right means that the majority judges the term of innocence. If a person is suspected of being a terrorist, there must be a clear reason why the person is suspected of being a terrorist. Therefore, it is not mentality wrong since the majority conforms to the decision.

A. Why is killing wrong, "no matter what"? Killing is the last resort to a situation that causes harms, meaning death, to people. By saying killing is wrong, no matter what, it means that no matter how crucial or life-threatening the situation is, we must not kill. The intention should be judged. If by killing more, more lives are saved then it has the intention of saving more lives. Therefore, killing is not wrong no matter what.
B. By happiness, I defined it as the absence of physical pain. If the greater majority is protected, there will be more happiness, meaning less physical pain. There will be less physical pain to the majority.
C. Again, mentality is conformed by the majority since moral by the definition is conforming to the right standard of behavior. The majority conforms what is wrong mentality.

Thank you ladies and gentlemen.
burningpuppies101

Con

I'll just jump right into the debate.

Value:
My value is actually not dropped, since my definition of morality just clarifies my value. It does not contradict it. My value says that this debate is about morality. I defined morality as a social standard of right and wrong. That is not a contradiction.

Contention 1:
That is what my opponent advocates. He advocates killing, an immoral act, to save others. So therefore, my opponent should indeed be judged on this, since if he's not judged on this, there is nothing for him to be judged on, since that is the crux of the affirmative case.

< To be morally permissible, it is the intention that should be judged. Because the act of killing one in order to save many is noble, it is morally permissible.> I agree, the intention should be judged. However, it should not override the actual action itself. In this case, the intention would most likely be a good one. However, that does not eclipse the fact that he is still killing. Killing is an immoral act.

So in other words, you advocate killing an INNOCENT PERSON! Let me make this clear. The victim has not done anything wrong. The victim has done nothing to deserve this fate. It is not a noble act because you are killing. You are devaluing one person's life, in favor of other lives. You are saying that we can kill an innocent person, just because we have good intentions. That is not noble. It is wrong to think that we can justify killing.

I never provided a value criterion. I provided a criterion for this debate. I agree, a value criterion would support the value. However, I never provided a value criterion. Instead, I jumped into supplying a criterion for the debate itself. Again, the criteria of the debate is thus: If my opponent shows that killing a person is not forbidden, then he wins. If he does not do so, either because his points are insufficient, or I am able to refute his points with better arguments, then I win this debate.
Therefore, my criterion is not dropped. Rather, it can be extended to the rest of the debate. Because my opponent never took the chance to refute it, and he can't bring up a new argument to refute my criterion in the last speech(according to the rules of debate).

I'll just go in the order of my opponent, and extend my case at the end.

Contention 1: I agree. However, even if we have a duty to protect humanity, you have not shown why doing so is a morally correct action. You have just shown that that is what most people would do. Just because the majority of people do it does not make it right.

No, that is your opinion of what makes something right and wrong. I happen to think that morality exists beyond humans. Morality is there, and humans do not effect it. Because you have not warrant to this claim, it must be disregarded. You cannot prove this claim, so it should be thrown out from the debate.

< Therefore, why is it not moral to save more lives?> I do not think it is immoral to save more lives. I think that it is immoral to kill one innocent person, to save more lives.

But that still doesn't justify killing a person. You are saying that we would save more people, but does that really justify killing an innocent person?

Contention 2:
You misunderstand my argument. My argument was that if we can justify killing one person to save many, there would have a ripple effect. We could justify killing all sorts of innocent people by saying that it would save many more people. My argument is that this mentality of justifying killing is wrong.

A.
Can you prove why it is right? You have the burden of proof.

I am not saying that we must not kill. In reality, many of us would kill that one innocent person. However, we are talking about morality. When faced with that situation, both choices are immoral. Any way we go, we are being immoral. In the situation provided to us by the topic, either situation is bad. My opponent has to show why one of the options is right.

I agree. However, the intention should not override the actual action, which is of killing.

Yes it is. I'll prove it later in my case.

B. So you are placing the needs of more people in front of one person. Logical, but not moral. By doing so, you are devaluing human life. You are saying to one person, 'You aren't worth as much. We are going to save these other people with your death.' How is that right?

C. I don't quite understand what you are saying. Feel free to clarify this in your third speech. Otherwise, we can assume it not to matter.

Now, I will go on to my own case:
My main framework of my debate lies upon the moral fact that killing is wrong. It is an immoral act, and can never be justified. Now I'm going to explain why. We do not have the right to kill someone. Nothing in the world gives us the right to kill. To deprive someone of life. Last time I checked, we all contain unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. My opponent strives to prove that all 3 of those rights actually don't belong to us. He argues that we have the right to take life. Taking life, we deprive liberty. And if you are dead, you can't pursue happiness. My opponent advocates violating these three essential rights that every person is entitled to.

Also, nothing we say can justify killing. Even if my opponent argues that more people are to be saved, he has not shown that depriving a person of their basic rights is right. Therefore, he loses the debate. Throughout both of his speeches, he takes a utilitarianist view. He claims that because more people are saved, that justifies killing. But does the lives of more people really justify killing one innocent person? My opponent advocates that killing one person, depriving that person of his/her basic rights as a human being, is right. Only because is saves more people. So my opponent advocates lowering the value of human life. I think that goes against his own value criterion, which he chose to take time to explain to me. So in reality, my opponent is contradicting himself.

The way I see the topic, either choice you make, you are making a bad choice. Killing that one innocent person is immoral. Not killing that person is immoral. Therefore, anyway you look at it, I win the debate. Either choice is immoral, so I win.

You notice that I have said I win a lot. My reason is that my opponent has brought up arguments. I have refuted all of them. I just strengthened my case just now. My opponent will be unable to provide arguments against them. That would be against the rules of debate. So all my opponent can do is try to refute my points and extend his case.

Thank you
Also, my side of the case does not require me to prove anything. It only requires me to disprove my opponent. I have done so. However, I have also proved my side of the debate, so it just gives you more reason to vote for me.
Debate Round No. 2
Icelandical

Pro

Value: My opponent claims that his value of morality does not contradict. However, when he provided the definition of the term morality he is going to use, he used "conforming to a standard of right behavior". My opponent did not clearly mention moralality of being a social standard of right or wrong because according to his definition, it states "conform". My opponent did not refute this matter.

"Contention 1:
He advocates killing, an immoral act, to save others. So therefore, my opponent should indeed be judged on this, since if he's not judged on this, there is nothing for him to be judged on, since that is the crux of the affirmative case."

Killing is the last solution to a matter where all the rest of the solutions are thought of. Therefore, if killing was the last solution to a problem it can not be immoral because then many more would die from it. Killing without justice is wrong; however, in this situation killing one will lead to the saving of many more lives, giving justice. My opponent states that killing is immoral, reasoning that killing is "always" murder, then my opponent is justifying that war is immoral as well. For example if a person was to go out in war to defend his or her country and an opposing side shoots at that person who is trying to defend his or her country, and kills the opposing person, then it is a good sacrifice, but definitely not a murder or immoral act. As of this example, "moral" act is on behalf of the country. On the other hand, robbing a bank and getting killed by the bank security guard would be considered immoral and murder. It proves that on the Affirmative side, killing is not immoral.

"I agree, the intention should be judged. However, it should not override the actual action itself. In this case, the intention would most likely be a good one. However, that does not eclipse the fact that he is still killing. Killing is an immoral act."
My opponent still does not clearly define immoral. Killing is thought of when other solutions can not act. Therefore, it is the lesser of the evils. The choice of the lesser evil must be acceptable, or the greater evil will occur. For example, we want peace, but in order to do so, we must maintain an army (just in case). We desire mutual responsibility and respect, but still a police force is needed. Therefore, if greater evil exists, then the law must allow room for choosing the lesser evil.

"So in other words, you advocate killing an INNOCENT PERSON! Let me make this clear. The victim has not done anything wrong. The victim has done nothing to deserve this fate. It is not a noble act because you are killing. You are devaluing one person's life, in favor of other lives. You are saying that we can kill an innocent person, just because we have good intentions. That is not noble. It is wrong to think that we can justify killing."
My opponent believes that killing is not justified. During World War II, there were a group of men who tried to assassinate Hitler with the goal of preventing the spread of the deaths of the other MILLIONS DEATHS of people. If the group of men were to have succeeded then the people would not have had to suffer the holocaust. Killing is justified because it is for the lesser evil. The choice of the lesser evil is justified as long as one can do nothing to prevent the greater evil. If we were to follow my opponent's beliefs, then the more people would have died for the sake of not killing just one person. Many more people would have to suffer and die. One death CAN NOT REPLACE the deaths of many others. In other words, the negative side kills more people by justifying that no one would die. Thus, the affirmative is better since it is trying to save more people rather than refusing to.

"Contention 1:However, even if we have a duty to protect humanity, you have not shown why doing so is a morally correct action. You have just shown that that is what most people would do. Just because the majority of people do it does not make it right."

A human being has the duty to protect humanity because then it will protect society. By protecting society will prevent any "road of destruction". Society contains the laws to govern people and maintain a steady and regulated environment where people can live. Thus by protecting humanity, we are protecting society which prevents a downfall in to anarchy.

"No, that is your opinion of what makes something right and wrong. I happen to think that morality exists beyond humans. Morality is there, and humans do not effect it. Because you have not warrant to this claim, it must be disregarded. You cannot prove this claim, so it should be thrown out from the debate."
The word, "conform" has no alternative definitions other than to act in accordance or be in harmony or even to bring about agreement of a society. Unfortunately, my opponent believes that I am merely stating my opinions. (Please search it up in a dictionary) However, I am not since conform means to be in agreement and in harmony. Therefore, by acting in harmony or agreement by society, it basically supports the majority. My opponent believes that morality is there and that humans do not effect it. If humans do not affect it, what is morality. My opponent contradicts himself here too since he just said that humans do not effect morality which means goes against his definition he provided himself stating morality is "sanctioned by or operative on one's conscience or ethical judgment". If humans do not affect morals, morals can not exist. Morals are ethical beliefs that for centauries humans based their experiences on in deciding the right from the wrong. Isn't that why deontology and utilitarism exist as of now? By saying that humans do not effect morality clearly means that my opponent proves himself wrong. He himself believes that killing is immoral. Saying that morals are not affected by humans mean that there lies a strict protocol of what is wrong or right.

"I do not think it is immoral to save more lives. I think that it is immoral to kill one innocent person, to save more lives."
Here my opponent contradicts himself since he believes it not be to immoral to save more lives but immoral to kill one person. In all the cases I presented to you, I clearly stated "life or death matter", meaning that killing is the last resort to a situation. Since you have not refuted about the type of scenario I presented, my opponent agrees to my examples. Therefore, it is impossible to think that killing one is immoral yet saving more is not because it would be impossible to not kill one person and to save more in the cases I presented.

"You are saying that we would save more people, but does that really justify killing an innocent person?"
The affirmative side is saving more people while the negative side decides not to. In a life or death situation, the affirmative side would be saving while the negative side would ultimately be killing. (In this situation where all other alternative solutions are carefully thought over but can not solve the life or death matter). If this is so, then the negative side would be killing more people, refusing the chance to save more lives.
Two parts of justice are as known: punishment and the violation of another's right. Punishment is a result from combinations of revenge and collective social sympathy. Revenege has no moral function, and collective social symphathy is equivalent to social utilitary, Also, violations of rights are derived from utility. Therefore, rights are claims that one has on society to protect us. Therefore, society protects

"Contention 2:
We could justify killing all sorts of innocent people by saying that it would save many more people. My argument is that this mentality of justifying killing is wrong."
Why would it be a ripple effect? The affirmative side will kill one only to save more. That is not bad mentality. Again, in a situation of life or death matter, saving more i
burningpuppies101

Con

Thanks to my opponent for this debate.

REPLIES:
I'm just going to go down his case and talk about each part.

Value:
My valuie does not contradict, as my opponent claims. "Conforming to a standard of right behavior" is a very vague term. My opponent seems to think that it means that we have to conform to what the majority thinks. He is wrong. I argued that this standard is free standing of human belief, and morality is either right or wrong, and it is not determined by humans. We may follow morality, but we do not determine it.

Contention1:

So because of necessity, morality is temporarily cast aside to make way for what we think we need to do? How is this situation going to give justice? It will not. We are being selfish beings and are killing and innocent person, just so that we can save others. We are valuing the other people more than that one person. That one person does not matter as much, merely because he is in the minority. That is like saying it is ok to kill all the people with AIDs, because in doing so, we save all the people that the people with AIDS would have hurt. Justifying killing to save others is like Hitler justifying killing all the Jewish people because he believed they were a threat. Is this moral? My opponent argues that killing without justice is wrong. How is this situation giving justice? We are killing one innocent person. Repeat. WE ARE KILLING AN INNOCENT PERSON. It doesn't matter why. Trying to justify it would only make it worse. We can never justify killing. However, that does not mean that we will not do it. In this situation, if you kill the one person, you may be doing the immoral thing, but you may think that it is necessary. War is immoral, that's what I think. War is immoral, but we will still go to war because not going to war would be disastrous. But it is still immoral. Necessity does not outrule the fact that it is still immoral.


This is basically the crux of your case. However, you contradict yourself here. Earlier in the debate, I mentioned that morality is not flexible. An act is either right or wrong. There is not gray area. My opponent never refuted this. Instead, he argued about the "conforming" part of my definition. But he accepted that morality is not flexible. However, in this statement above, it carries with it the assumption that this will change morality. Killing is ok, as long as it is the lesser of 2 evils. That is what my opponent claims. So morality is now flexible, according to my opponent. He earlier accepted that morality is not flexible. Contradiction.

Wrong. I believe that killing is immoral. It can never be morally justified. We can justify killing someone by saying that killing someone is better than not killing them, but it would not justify it morally. It would not take a bad act and turn it into a good act.


No. I said that either side is immoral, but we are going to choose one to do.

< Saying that morals are not affected by humans mean that there lies a strict protocol of what is wrong or right.>
Again, you misunderstand me. Morality is, simply put, what is right and wrong and why. It is a strict code. What I said is that humans cannot change morality to better suit out needs.


Wrong. I have refuted all your scenarios because the purpose of them was to prove it is ok to kill, and I showed that it is definitley immoral to kill.


No. We say it is wrong to kill. The ends do not justify the means, because the act with which you use to justify the ends is an immoral act.


If we can justify killing one person to save many more because it saves more people, then we can kill all the people with AIDs because we are saving all the lives that they would eventually hurt. We can kill all the people with disease because they will spread the disease to others. We would save those people by killing all with disease. We could systematically destroy anyone because we think that they will hurt more people. We could preemptively go to war, before they can hurt us. We should blast Iran with nuclear bombs, because if we don't they will first. Is that enough of a ripple effect for you? If you want another example, look at Hitler. He justified killing 6 million people because he convinced the German people that doing otherwise would be disastrous and that they saved more people by killing the 6 million people.

Throughout this entire debate, my opponent has been arguing the same thing. We must kill one to save others because we save more lives that way. However, he has constantly missed a point that I made early on, that he continually ignores or forgot about. Just because we must do an act because it is necessary, it does not make that act moral. I have shown that killing is an immoral act. My opponent replied with, 'But we need to!' Again. Neccesity does not justify morality. Neccesity and morality are 2 different things. There is a very fine line between them, and my opponent has constantly ignored the line that I established and he accepted. My opponent has assumed them to be the same thing. I established early on that they are not. My opponent ignored this and continued to argue otherwise. So, using that one statement, I have refuted all my opponent's points.

His job was to justify killing. He did not. My job was to show that it is immoral to kill. I did so.

If you look at it, either choice is immoral. You are still killing someone. My opponent did not refute that. I win

Thank you
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by sh0tym5 8 years ago
sh0tym5
Someone challenge me. I will be affirmative.
Posted by Rezzealaux 8 years ago
Rezzealaux
You said: "It is morally permissible to kill one innocent person to save the lives of many innocent people."
I read: "It is morally permissible to kill one innocent person to enslave the lives of many innocent people."

Dirty thoughts, dirty thoughts.....
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Vote Placed by burningpuppies101 8 years ago
burningpuppies101
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