The Instigator
snelld7
Con (against)
Losing
19 Points
The Contender
pcmbrown
Pro (for)
Winning
29 Points

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

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 9 votes the winner is...
pcmbrown
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/19/2009 Category: Society
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,831 times Debate No: 7896
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (14)
Votes (9)

 

snelld7

Con

Resolved: It is morally permissible to kill one innocent person to save the lives of more innocent people

I stand against, make me believe[...]
pcmbrown

Pro

Thank you for allowing me to debate this topic. I'll be debating in LD format, and it would be very pleasing, though not entirely necessary, if you were to do the same.

Value: Justice
Defined as "Giving each his or her due"-Aristotle

Criterion: Utilitarianism
Defined as "The greatest good for the greatest number"-Bentham
Because all persons regarded by the resolution either live or die, it can be assumed that the least number of deaths would be the most utilitarian outcome. Life, not death, is the due of any innocent person. It is impossible to grant each and every person his due. Therefore, utilitarianism grants a large number of person's their due, while denying justice to only one.

Definitions:
Morally Permissible: "behavior that is within the bounds of the moral system. It is morally permitted to act in any way that does not cause others unjustified harms."-Elliott

Kill: "to cause the death of"-Merriam-Webster

Innocent Person: a person "free from legal guilt or fault."-Merriam-Webster

Save: "to rescue or deliver from danger or harm"-Merriam-Webster, presumed to be mortal, given the nature of the resolution

Contention 1: Life, especially that of an innocent, is inherently valuable.
a.Human life has significant value to society. This value is reflected by the justice systems of nearly every society, given that the systems are legitimate. Governments are established in order to protect said life. Within legal systems, human life outweighs nearly all other factors, e.g. the theft of billions is not punishable by death.
b.The value of human life is viewed as finite in most societies. Nationalism often outweighs said value, as nations often instigate war, and punish treasonous acts with death. According to the EPA "The "value of a statistical life" is $6.9 million in today's dollars."
c.If human life, L, is given an abstract value of 3, we see that 2 lives are more valuable than 1, because 2L is greater than L, 6 is greater than 3.
d.It is morally correct to sacrifice one life in place of many, because it generates greater societal value.
Contention 2: Failure to save a life is murder.
a."All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."-Burke To kill is to cause the death of. If, through a moral decision, you cause any death, you have killed said person, and thus, their death is entirely your responsibility.
b.To kill, and failure to save through a moral decision, are acts of equivalent moral reprehensibility.
c.Therefore, if you fail to save a large group in the context of the resolution, you have killed every member of that group. If you were to kill the individual, you have killed a single person.
Contention 3: Utilitarian morals are reflected by most societies.
a.Laws generated by any society tend to reflect the will of the majority. The majority will typically act in its own interest. Therefore, in most circumstances, societal laws and ethics reflect a utilitarian perspective.
b.In a number of ancient religions, the Gods were appeased through the sacrifice of a few innocents, thus preventing mass deaths through starvation, flooding, etc. This is true of all cultures who believed human sacrifice to be an effective form of appeasement. Therefore, their ethics were overwhelmingly utilitarian.
c.Numerous present-day nations have instituted a draft system. By sending innocents into combat, their lives are inherently put at risk, and in almost all circumstances, multiple lives are lost. This is often justified by the protection of a nation, and the lives of its massive population. This, yet again, demonstrates a utilitarian outlook.

I await your response.
Debate Round No. 1
snelld7

Con

A trolly has run out of control and is speeding toward the end of the track where it will then kill all 3 passengers. There is an innocent by stander whom happens to be severely overwight, it is true that if you push this man, he will have enough weight to stop the trolly thus saving 3 innocent lives, however you will be killing him. If you hurl yourself in front of the trolly it will simply tear you apart because you do not weigh enough. What do you do?

I will break the arguments up into numbers to easily locate arguments in further rounds.

1) Value/VC arguments
2) Contention 1 arguments
3) Contention 2 arguments
4) Contention 3 arguments

1) A Value of justice is a very good value. But you, like most others i've debated with this value, fail to come through with your definitions when it comes to supporting your case. In LD, your value criterion supports your value. For instance, what your saying with your V/VC is you know you will have justice when your value criterion of utilitarianism is there. Which is false! Utilitarianism will only work if you take individual rights into consideration, in fact, every instance when utilitarianism is wrong is when it DOES NOT take individual rights into consideration. So basically, by choosing this VC you've already hindered yourself in this debate. For example, You can't have 10 wolves and 2 sheep voting on what's for dinner. This is exactly what you're proposing!

Your definition of Justice was "giving each his or her due." So by supporting the side of killing this one person and holding that as your value, you're saying it's ok because that innocent person was delt what he was due [...] In what way? How was he due death, when he was innocent and did nothing to anyone?

2) The problem with your first contention is that you are putting a value on life. Life has no value. Unless you can tell me what the value of a human life is, I suggest you drop this contention. You can't provide me with a number because no 2 lives are the same. Because it isn't specfied if these people are wealthy or if they're poor, don't put your "statistical life number" on these people's heads. Even if I was to go on and accept the fact that you're right with this and life has a value, your subpoint D still wouldn't stand. 1) because you can't prove that poeple will only make this much money (no more and no less) and 2) because you don't know the jobs of any of these people. If the three people were bums and drug addicts, and the one person you decide to kill is an all-star professinoal football lineman or the man to find a cure for cancer, than what you're saying is no longer true and it will contradict itself (The utilitarian argument saying save the most, and your subpoint D of doing the best for society).

In conclusion, don't place a value on a life. And if you feel compelled to do so, set it at infinate. Therefore, 1 infinate is the same as 5 infinaties.

3) This contention is not true AT ALL. Let's look to the definition, of murder, "kill intentionally and with premeditation."
If what your contention tagline says is true, then every witness to a murder would be locked in jail for the crime. INstead they're testifying against the murderer, why? Because they aren't guilty of any crime.

4) Aleady refuted Utilitarianism
pcmbrown

Pro

The hypothetical example is entirely unnecessary; the resolution itself is fairly self-explanatory.

Value Criterion: Utilitarianism does achieve justice, and indeed, is the foundation of justice. Lee, in 2000, elaborates with a description on John Stuart Mill's philosophy.
"First, he argues that social utility governs all moral elements in the notion of justice. The two essential elements in the notion of justice are: punishment, and the violation of another's rights. Punishment results from a combination of revenge and collective social sympathy. As a single entity, revenge has no moral component, and collective social sympathy is equal to social utility. Violation of rights is also derived from utility, as rights are claims that one has on society to protect us. Thus, social utility is the only reason society should protect us. Consequently, both elements of justice are based on utility."

Contention 1: My "value of a statistical life" seems to have been misunderstood. I am not establishing the value of a human life, but merely demonstrating that governments perceive this value as finite. My primary point is human life has a value, and that value is finite. This still stands. One must assume that all human lives involved are equal.

Contention 2: I poorly stated this in the first round. My intended meaning was, that, if a government has the ability to choose between two lives, or between the lives of an individual and a group, merely reinforcing the status quo is not a legitimate form of moral justification. In this situation, the deciding party is not required to take any action, but only to issue a command, which differs widely from the situation of a witness to a murder. The word "murder" was poorly chosen. I am merely stating that the deciding party has essentially caused the deaths of those it fails to save.

Contention 3: This is addressed in the criterion section.

Thank you.
Debate Round No. 2
snelld7

Con

Thank you for the debate

Now, lets go onto your value of justice and your approach of utility.

1) You have dropped so many arguments, that you basically agree with my entire stance on the subject matter. Your value is of justice which you say is basically everyone getting their due. Yet you have failed to explain what the innocent person does to recieve his due punishment of death. You're condeming someone to a harsher fait than even the most dangerous of criminals don't get the majority of the time (murderers and rapist getting the death penalty).

Then you attempt to justify your actions by using the approach of utility. You have failed to address my argument on this so I'll repost it and I would like for it to be the first thing you address and try to explain. UTILITARIANISM WILL NEVER WORK UNLESS YOU CONSIDER HUMAN RIGHTS. FOR EXAMPLE, YOU CAN'T HAVE 10 WOLVES AND 2 SHEEP VOTING ON WHAT TO HAVE FOR DINNER. WHICH IS WHAT YOU'RE ATTEMPTING TO DO HERE. Is that agreed?

2) The value of human life is equal to the fact that it is unmeasurable. You can't just claim life has a value, but then not say what that value is. If you can not tell me the value of human life, drop this argument. You can't attempt to make human life a giant math problem. If you attempt to, your actions will NEVER be justified.

3) How does it differ from a witnes sto a murder? If you choose inaction, then you simply whitness the horrifying event take place. If you witness a murder, you simply witness a horrifying event. Where does the difference set in?

4) Lets cut out number four and combine it with number 1.
pcmbrown

Pro

Please note these dropped points. I have adressed all debated points, and would note that you present no Con arguement.

1. Utilitarianism acheived justice. Absolute justice can never be acheived, because, within the context of the resolution, not everyone is capable of recieving their due. However, with utilitarianism, the maximal number of persons recieve their due. Hence, a more just outcome is acheived.

2. You said yourself that the actual value of human life is not quantifiable. Human life is of a finite, and significant value. I have demonstrated this, and you have failed to negate this.

3. If a witness to a murder fails to act through moral desicion, not out of fear of consequences or the like, but out of choice, they are indeed responsible for the victim's death. We are speaking about a society, which is not affected by consquences similar to that of the witness, and for all practical resolutional purposes, has complete power.

4. I am merely demonstrating that utalitarianism is a commonly accepted societal value.

Be it again noted that my opponent has no case, and therefore cannot win this debate.
Debate Round No. 3
snelld7

Con

>>>Please note these dropped points. I have adressed all debated points, and would note that you present no Con arguement.

Are you kidding me? Dropped arguments? Is my whole case not about these "dropped arguments?"

This is how this is going[...]

You- State that because this saves more people, then it is ok to kill the innocent being
Me- I bring up point about utility not working unless you consider rights
You- Completely ignore that argument and restate what you stated before
Me- I bring the point up again and state the fact that you are ignoring the point because you, basically, have no answer for it.
You- Ignore the point yet again, and then say I'M THE ONE dropping the argument

WHERE IS IT DROPPED? If anything (and i'm not saying it is, just that if there is a drop present then it's this), your inability to go against that argument is the only drop present. So i'll repost the point and allow for you to refute it in the closing round.

""""A Value of justice is a very good value. But you, like most others i've debated with this value, fail to come through with your definitions when it comes to supporting your case. In LD, your value criterion supports your value. For instance, what your saying with your V/VC is you know you will have justice when your value criterion of utilitarianism is there. Which is false! Utilitarianism will only work if you take individual rights into consideration, in fact, every instance when utilitarianism is wrong is when it DOES NOT take individual rights into consideration. So basically, by choosing this VC you've already hindered yourself in this debate. For example, You can't have 10 wolves and 2 sheep voting on what's for dinner. This is exactly what you're proposing!"""

And as if that wasn't enought, you propose yet another ludacris idea. You state that I have no case. Everything you post is about how killing the innocent is morally permissible because of utility, maximizing total good, life is inherently valuable, etc, right? And you consider that a "case." And everything I post is about how killing the one innocent is not just, it is infringing upon his rights because of a personal view of it being ok, it is murder, etc, YET YOU SAY I HAVE NO CASE??????? How does that work? because you feel I have no value or value criterion? Well first off, to be NEG in LD means to negate the resolution. Meaning, you are the only one who it is MANDATORY to have a value and criiterion for because you have to uphold the resolution. Secondly, I DON'T HAVE TO DEBATE IN LD!!!! You didnt see anywhere that I wanted to debate LD style, and I did not agree to do it even after you tried to.

Now, moving onto some arguments that you ACTUALLY HAVE refuted.

>>>You said yourself that the actual value of human life is not quantifiable. Human life is of a finite, and significant value. I have demonstrated this, and you have failed to negate this.

You are contradicting yourself. How can you state where I'm negating it, then say that I'm not negating it? So, let me define a couple terms.

Finite- Having a limit; limited in quantity, degree, or capacity; bounded

Infinite- Unlimited or boundless, in time or space; as, infinite duration or distance.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::NOW THAT YOU HAVE THESE DEFINITIONS Lets move to your words:::::::::::::::::::::::

>>>You said yourself that the actual value of human life is not quantifiable. Human life is of a finite, and significant value. I have demonstrated this, and you have failed to negate this.

I'm saying life's value is infinite, you're saying it's actually finite. Then you say I haven't negated it [....]

The simple fact of me saying "The value of human life is equal to the fact that it is unmeasurable. You can't just claim life has a value, but then not say what that value is. If you can not tell me the value of human life, drop this argument. You can't attempt to make human life a giant math problem. If you attempt to, your actions will NEVER be justified."

IS REFUTING AND NEGATING YOUR POINT!

Moving on..

>>>If a witness to a murder fails to act through moral desicion, not out of fear of consequences or the like, but out of choice, they are indeed responsible for the victim's death. We are speaking about a society, which is not affected by consquences similar to that of the witness, and for all practical resolutional purposes, has complete power.

If the witness is responsible, then why do we not hold them to their responsibilities? Why are so many "murderers" allowed to testify against someone else, and then walk free? Maybe because they aren't a murderer at all....

If a patient is sick and has a few months to live, and the doctor has 4 other patients that if they recieve his organs, they will live [....] Is it ok for the doctor to slay the innocent patient in order to save the lives of the other 4? By your VC of utility then it is yes. And in fact, if he doesn't, (by your own words) he is a murderer and should go to jail if he doesn't.

Surely you se the flaw in this right?

Moving on....

>>>> I am merely demonstrating that utalitarianism is a commonly accepted societal value.

Of course it is, Our country (arguably the most powerful, civilized, and just civilization in existance) adopted the idea of it. But what you must understand, as I stated before, is that utility doesn't work if with the vote of the majority, you infringe upon the minorities rights. That's why our government, society, and communities stress individual rights as hard as they do. Examples of when utility has inffringed on the rights of the minority are slavery, the holocaust, and the genocide in darfur. Can you come up with anything good utility has done when they infringe upon the rights of the minority?

MINORITY IN THIS SENSE MEANING: The smaller number people/ The voters who didn't win in majority rules (not an actual race of people).

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::BOTTOM LINE IS:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

To know if something is morally permissible or not, you must first understand what morals are.
My opponent is confused as to what MORALS actually are. When evaluating morality in an action, morals are based off of good and bad BEHAVIOR. The behavior present in the resolution is either Kill someone, or refuse to kill someone. In seeing this, you realize it is not morally permissible by this criteria.

Here's another view of the resolution..

In the situation of the resolution, it is impossible to determine if actions are moral or not by knowing what the consequences are because knowing the future is NOT present nor possible for the person in the actual situation. All he can do is merely speculate what could/should/would happen. The resolution isn't saying if you do this, this will happen. It's more so giving a motive for a crime. Saying, you are doing this...for this (You are killing in order to try to save). It is impossible to prove that you will WITHOUT A DOUBT save those people's lives. For example, Life guards are there TO save.... Surgeons are there TO save.... Policemen are there TO protect and save. But this doesn't mean they will necessarily save you ever time. But that they will TRY to save you.

This said[...]

You see that if you kill this person, it's possible for the others to not be saved! Leaving you stuck with ALL negatives in the situation. On the other hand, if you do nothing, EVERYTIME, the innocent bystander will always survive.

I sit and wait anxiously for your reply
pcmbrown

Pro

This debate essentially boils down to three arguments.
UTILITARIANISM- Utilitarianism is indeed morally permissible. First, morality is dependent upon the society. If a society supports utilitarianism, it is moral within that society. My quote from John Stuart Mill shows that justice, my value, is founded in utilitarianism. Also, as my opponent has conceded, societies tend to espouse utilitarian ideals, making them moral. Utilitarianism achieves my value of justice. My opponents examples of genocide are illegitimate, as they don't reflect a utilitarian outcome. http://en.wikipedia.org...

HUMAN LIFE- I have warranted that the value of human life is finite. My opponent merely states that it is, in fact, finite. He fails to warrant this, and therefore, is not successfully negating it. My point stands. Two lives are of greater value than one.

MORAL RESPONSIBILITY- A government is responsible for protecting its people. Its failure to do so, not through inability, but through decision, is, in fact a failure of this responsibility. Therefore, the government is equally guilty in failing this responsibility, as in killing an innocent.

"it's possible for the others to not be saved!" The resolution presumed that the others are saved. It merely asks whether this act is morally permissible.

I strongly urge a vote in the Proposition of this resolution. Thank you for the debate, and thank you for reading.
Debate Round No. 4
14 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by snelld7 7 years ago
snelld7
lol
Posted by pcmbrown 7 years ago
pcmbrown
why thank you :)
Posted by Icarus57 7 years ago
Icarus57
Failure to save a life is murder

Pure gold.
Posted by snelld7 7 years ago
snelld7
It was, just in other words
Posted by pcmbrown 7 years ago
pcmbrown
which was never argued
Posted by Rob1Billion 7 years ago
Rob1Billion
The ends do not justify the means. Killing one person to save three is therefore immoral.
Posted by pcmbrown 7 years ago
pcmbrown
agreed
Posted by Justinisthecrazy 7 years ago
Justinisthecrazy
to be honest this should have been purely a Kantiasm vs Utili debate
Posted by Justinisthecrazy 7 years ago
Justinisthecrazy
the greater good is always changing. Hence the sum of utility always changes therefore the greater good is always changing. And if its always changing how can it be morally acceptable?
Posted by snelld7 7 years ago
snelld7
well darn..

=( meanie!!!
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