Debate Rounds (3)
I affirm: It is morally permissible to kill one innocent person to save the lives of many innocent people.
kill: to deprive of life
moral permissibility: adheres to standards of right behavior
Letting the majority of people live maximizes utility.
2. Minimize rights violations
Life is the most valuable human right because it serves as a pre-requisite to all other rights.
3. The Harm Principle
According to John Locke, an action is morally permissible if it prevents greater harm to society. There is no moral difference between killing and allowing someone to die, because the consequences for both are the same. Preventing the deaths of more people by killing one better promotes morality when compared to condemning many to death.
Value: Moral Permissibility
Justification: I choose moral permissibility because it is expressly stated in the resolution. The resolution asks for the morally permissible solution to this dilemma. Obviously it must be our value.
Criterion: Minority Rights
Justification: It is a fundamental principle of morality that rights are universal, and belong to everyone. Furthermore, it is generally agreed that as a general rule, we should act in such a way that benefits the majority. However, simply doing this leads to a tyranny of the majority. If we only act to benefit the majority, we will oppress the minority. Clearly, some sort of side constraint must be placed on such a moral system. The most obvious side constraint is minority rights. So we ought to act to benefit the majority, but we must not infringe on minority rights in doing so.
Contention 1: The resolution oppresses a minority in order to benefit a majority.
When we kill the innocent person, we violate their right to life. Even though we act to benefit the majority, we are committing an atrocity. For example, affirming this resolution would justify atrocities. For example, in the famous movie, Monty Python and the Meaning of Life, a man who innocuously signs up as an organ donor on his driver's license is unpleasantly surprised when two men come to his door to harvest his organs—while he's still alive. This is an obvious example of how infringing on minority rights to benefit the majority is ridiculous. The rights of the minority are not upheld by the resolution.
Contention 2: Utilitarian ethics infringe on minority rights.
Utilitarianism, the greatest good for the greatest number infringes on minority rights. For example, it justifies slavery. Slavery oppressed a minority, but it enriched the white majority and increased their quality of living. It was the greatest good for the greatest number. Obviously, slavery is horribly wrong and infringes on minority rights.
Moving on to my opponent's case...
I accept his value and definitions, however, I attack his criterion. Pure consequentialism, also known as utilitarianism, infringes on minority rights, and as I pointed out, this is bad.
Contention One: Utilitarian ethics violates minority rights, as I have shown, you cannot accept a moral system that violates minority rights.
Contention 2: Affirming the resolution does not minimize right violations. By not saving the innocents, I do not violate their rights, I did not cause their deaths. This point is irrelevant.
Contention 3: In this contention my opponent contend killing and letting die are equivalent. I disagree, because if they were, I would be responsible for the deaths of many starving children in Africa because I have not donated all my money and time towards saving their lives. I let them die because I did not want to devote my entire life to charities, but does that make me a bad person? Of course not. Therefore this contention fails.
Conclusion: As affirming the resolution infringes on minority rights, it must be negated. A just and moral society does not oppress the minority, regardless of the benefit to the majority. Vote negative, protect minority rights.
Observation 1: The negative did not negate my definitions, so he implicitly accepted them.
My opponents case:
I accept his value but I negate the justification for his value criterion. Rights are universal, and everyone shares the right to life, therefore it is important to minimize violations of these rights. If we do not choose to kill one innocent person, we are choosing to infringe on the rights of more innocent people; killing the innocent person minimizes rights violations.
Contention 1: When we kill the innocent person, their right to life is violated, but when we cause the death of more innocent people, we violate their individual rights. Choosing to kill the innocent person prevents violation of the rights of more people, therefore minimizing rights violations.
Contention 2: Utilitarianism does not justify slavery; slavery does not produce the greatest good for the greatest number because the suffering among the slave population is greater than the utility of the white majority. The resolution does not state that it is selective in choosing the one person who has to die.
Contention 1: Utilitarianism ethics only violates minority rights when the utility caused towards the majority by the actions exceeds the pain brought upon the minority.
Contention 2: Affirming the resolution does minimize rights violations; you do violate their rights by depriving them of their right to life, when you have a choice between either letting them die or killing an innocent person. Letting them die violates their right to life, while killing one person only violates one persons right to life. Violating the right to life of one person yields far less violations of rights than violating the rights of more people, therefore, this contention stands.
Contention 3: Killing and letting die yield the same consequences, therefore killing and letting die are morally equivalent because they both bring equal suffering upon society. As for the example referencing starving children in Africa, you would not be responsible for their deaths because you are not proactively condemning them to death. The resolution provides a clear choice between action and inaction. Action better promoting moral permissibility because less harm is caused to society due to less deaths, than inaction, which brings more harm upon society by allowing more to die.
Conclusion: Negating the resolution increases rights violations and causes more harm to be brought upon society; whereas affirming it minimizes rights violations and also minimizes harm brought upon society.
My opponent's case:
Value: We have the same value, no clash there to worry about.
Criterion: I negated his criterion of consequentialism by showing that it violates minority rights, and he never rebutted this attack. That means you drop his criterion and accept mine.
Contention 1: Well, first off, this falls under my criterion, and that's what you have to judge the debate on, because his is dropped. Also, in response to his defense, I would like to point out that slavery and racism were probably more beneficial to the white majority than they were detrimental to the black minority. Even if it doesn't the example I mentioned earlier, with the live organ "donation" is another example of utilitarianism gone bad. The rights of an innocent man were horribly violated in order to harvest his organs.
Contention 2: Not saving people is not a violation of rights. I am not the cause of their death, I am in no way violating their right to life. Therefore, affirming the resolution violates more lives, as in affirming, you kill one, and in negating, you kill none.
Contention 3: Consequences alone cannot determine morality. As Immanuel Kant pointed out in his "Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals,"
"the moral worth of an action does not lie in the effect expected from it, nor in any principle of action which requires to borrow its motive from this expected effect. For all these effects- agreeableness of one's condition and even the promotion of the happiness of others- could have been also brought about by other causes..." I did not try to cause their death, I could have prevented it, but I didn't, because the actions necessary for doing so are immoral. Furthermore, if I am not responsible for the deaths of the children in Africa, then I am not responsible in this case. The situations are analogous, in this I kill one to save many, in Africa, I give up all that I have in order to save many. If I am responsible for the deaths of the many in the resolution, then I would be responsible for the deaths of the people in Africa.
Value: We have agreement on the value.
Criterion: His attack on my criterion fails, for several reasons. First, most importantly, I negated his criterion, and he dropped my attack, so my criterion is the only one on the flow, and if you drop that off the flow, there is no criterion to judge the debate on, so you have no choice but to accept my criterion. Also, my criterion does not violate lives, like he suggests. It protects lives. Minority rights are necessary in order to prevent the tyranny of the majority. They must be upheld. He also claims that affirming the resolution minimizes right violations, but this is a) irrelevant, because that is not even a suggested criterion for this debate, and b) it is untrue. Affirming the resolution violates the one innocent's right to life. Negating the resolution does not violate any lives, as not saving someone is not a violation of their right to life, that's why things like triage are okay.
Contention 1: My opponent claims we cause the death of the many innocents. That is just not true. As I pointed out in my Africa example, not saving someone that we have to power to save is certainly not killing them. The starving Africans are dying because of famine and drought destroying their food supply, not because I am not giving up all that I have to help them. If my opponent really believes killing and letting die are equivalent, I suggest that he go and join the Peace Corps. right now, and forget this debate, because under his logic, he is a homicidal maniac if he doesn't.
Contention 2: Like I said, it probably does, depending on whose version utilitarianism you use. Anyways, as I said earlier, the pertinent example is of the live organ donor, which is just as bad, but justified by utilitarianism.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by sword_of_lead 8 years ago
|Agreed with before the debate:||-||-||0 points|
|Agreed with after the debate:||-||-||0 points|
|Who had better conduct:||-||-||1 point|
|Had better spelling and grammar:||-||-||1 point|
|Made more convincing arguments:||-||-||3 points|
|Used the most reliable sources:||-||-||2 points|
|Total points awarded:||4||0|
You are not eligible to vote on this debate
This debate has been configured to only allow voters who meet the requirements set by the debaters. This debate either has an Elo score requirement or is to be voted on by a select panel of judges.