The Instigator
Fluer
Pro (for)
Winning
6 Points
The Contender
THEBOMB
Con (against)
Losing
3 Points

Life is not an inalienable right

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
Fluer
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/8/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,165 times Debate No: 20218
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (16)
Votes (3)

 

Fluer

Pro

First round is for acceptance only.

Definitions
Life: the existence of an individual human being or animal with the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death.
Inalienable: unable to be taken away from or given away by the possessor.
Right: a moral or legal entitlement to have or obtain something or to act in a certain way.

The arguments presented should not be taken as the debaters personal view and voters personal bias should be disregarded when voting on debaters arguments.
THEBOMB

Con

Alright, I accept this debate and hope we have an intellectual debate...I await my opponents opening argument.

I object to my opponents separation of the terms "inalienable" and "rights" in modern and ancient philosophy the full term "inalienable right" has been used not the two separate terms. You cannot separate the term and still derive the full meaning of it.

Inalienable right- A right which according to natural law cannot be taken away, denied, or transferred. (1)

Natural Law- "a principle or body of laws considered as derived from nature, right reason, or religion and as ethically binding in human society." (2)

Ethics- "a system of moral principles." (3)

I also wish to add an observation about the resolution.

O1. Pro must prove that it is morally acceptable to take life away or, in other words, kill.

1. http://dictionary.reference.com...
2. http://dictionary.reference.com...
3. http://dictionary.reference.com...
Debate Round No. 1
Fluer

Pro

I accept the definitions presented by my opponent and I would like to put in my own observation.

All I have to do is show that people's morals are subjective enough to environmental, physical and societal changes that it becomes morally acceptable for some people to kill in some situations.

Let's look at morals in a basic way, just to clarify where my point is going. Someone has morals based on their perception of what is "right" and what is "wrong" in the world around us. Morals are like fingerprints in that no two people have identical sets of morals. This is due to the fact that everyone is subjected to a different group of experiences in life and everyone reacts to these experiences in different ways. So because morals are unique to every individual for this debate, as my opponent has laid it out, all I have to do is prove that one person's morals are subjective enough for them to believe they have the right to take away a life. Just because the vast majority have a different perception of the situation and therefore their morals hold that they believe they would NOT have the right to take a life does not make life an inalienable right.
I will look at a few cases.
A mother is watching her child die in agony and decides that it is morally better for for her to kill her child so that it does not suffer any more than allow this suffering to happen until the child's inevitable death. Let's look at a real life case.

"Carol Carr, 63, was charged today with two counts of malice murder in the death of her two adult sons. Authorities in Georgia said she fatally shot them over the weekend with a small-caliber handgun in the nursing home where they were receiving care for a debilitating disease. She could face additional charges and is currently in custody in the Spalding County Jail...
Huntington's disease had left her two sons, Andy Byron Scott, 41, and Michael Randy Scott, 42, helpless — they were unable to walk, feed themselves or even think clearly." [1]

After watching her mother and her husband die from the disease she could not face seeing her sons go through the same thing. The emotional strain (physical change), the fact her sons could no longer communicate (societal change), and the fact that her sons were living in poor conditions (environmental change) made this women believe that it was morally acceptable to kill the sons she had raised and nursed.

A dictator of a country is told rebels are planning a protest against his reign. In his position (societal) he believes that this is an attack on his countries national security and orders them to be killed. He believes he is protecting his country by upholding his stance in power. A very recent example of this is Yemen.

"On Saturday, government forces attacked unarmed demonstrators camped in Sanaa's "Change Square" and the headquarters of defected soldiers. Troops loyal to Saleh launched the attack a little after midnight, opening fire with mortars and guns. Reports indicate that at least 18 people were killed and 54 injured in the assault."

To the vast majority this would be an immoral act but (presumably) he believes that his actions can be justified and therefore his actions are morally correct.

Another study I will look at in this round will be murders committed by those who are mentally ill. This may seem like a controversial topic to bring up but I want to use it simply to show how the moral compass is affected by "physical changes".
A woman suffers from a psychological problem that means she first of all harms herself or fakes illness' in order to gain attention and care. When this method of attention seeking fails she then turns to harming children and attempting to "save" them to gain attention and credit. She believes due to her mental illness that it is morally right to kill innocent children so that she gains the attention she craves. This is her perception of "right" and "wrong". Most people would say that this situation is "wrong" but due to the "physical" change she perceives it as being "right" and therefore it is morally acceptable to kill.

As a case study I will look at the life of Beverley Allitt who was convicted on May 23, 1993. She was given "13 life sentences for murder and attempted murder". I would encourage my opponent and anyone else reading this debate to read her full story on reference 3 but I will summarise it here. Feelings of rejection in her early teens led Allitt to begin harming herself and wearing bandages to fake injuries. She is recorded to have used "a hammer and glass" to cause herself harm. When Doctors became aware of her actions she felt compelled to try a new approach. She tried to become a nurse but repeated failures in exams made it difficult. When she got a temporary job in England's Grantham and Kesteven Hospital in Lincolnshire she was determined to "prove" herself. She did this by inducing a cardiac arrest in the children she cared for then alerting other medical staff and attempt to save the child's life. In her mind it was perfectly acceptable to kill these defenceless children in her care to gain a heroism status and gain attention. In prison she continued to find ways to harm herself. She was suffering from Munchausen by Proxy syndrome and according to experts consulted during her trial she could not be cured.

Before I conclude this round I want to look at cases where people give up their own lives as this also proves that life is not an inalienable right and shows the subjective nature of human morals around which this debate is centred. A life can be given away in two main ways: suicide and self sacrifice. People are usually driven to suicide due to their belief that they are better off dead than alive as a result of dramatic physical, environmental and societal changes. The effects of these changes are that their moral views are altered to the point they now believe that it is morally acceptable to take their own life. Self sacrifice works in a similar way only those who sacrifice their lives are lead to believe that someone else's life is of a higher value than theirs making it morally acceptable to save the other person at the cost of their own life.

While a persons unique morals can be altered to the point that they believe it is "right" to give up their own life or take another, life cannot be an inalienable right.

I look forward to my opponents reply.

[1] http://abcnews.go.com...
[2] http://wireshire.com...
[3] http://www.trutv.com...
THEBOMB

Con

Society was set up for one purpose. To protect people's natural rights guaranteed to them by natural law in that people have the right to life, liberty, and personal economic security. Every person is part of society, whether they want to believe it or not. According to an essay titled "Morals and Criminal Law, "Society means a community of ideas; without shared ideas on politics morals and ethics, no society can exist." Furthermore, R.M. Dworkin wrote in his book The Philosophy of Law, "society is not something that is kept together physically; it is held by the invisible bonds of common thought. If the bonds were too far relaxed. the members would drift apart. A common morality is part of the bondage. The bondage is part of the price of society; and mankind, which needs society, must pay its price." If you were to even analyze basically what laws do you will see a pattern, they adhere to natural law. Just look at the United States, it is founded upon the basic premise that everybody has the inalienable right to live. And for more specific examples, look at laws, murder is morally wrong, society has outlawed murder. Theft is morally wrong, society has outlawed theft. Rape is morally wrong, society has outlawed rape. Assault is morally wrong, society has outlawed assault. The list goes on and on. There is a common morality in society. People are members of society. Therefore, there is a common morality among people. It is morally wrong to take a life.

According to John Locke, the most basic human law of nature is the preservation of mankind. Individuals therefore, have an unalienable right to life because they must be alive in order to preserve mankind. Furthermore, according to Francis Hutcheson, all men are born morally equal to one another, "nature makes none masters, none slaves." Therefore, it cannot be morally acceptable to kill another person because in doing so you are proclaiming that you are dominant over another because by taking that life, you are saying that you are above natural law and therefore, saying you are not equal to another.

I interpret the right to life to mean the right to not be killed. Everyone has the right to not be killed. This is a universal right. And if my opponent chooses to refute this fact then they are also refuting the fact they have the right to not be killed and can be killed by anyone at anytime. Since the right to not be killed is a universal right, and my opponent values their own life, then everybody has this right to not be killed. Since this is true and everybody has the right to not be killed. Everyone has the right to life. If everyone has the right to life then a person cannot morally take this right away.

Now I will go through each story my opponent presented one by one.

Carol Gerr

As a member of society, Carol Gerr has the responsibility to follow societies laws. Laws, as I explained above, are based on morality. Therefore, her actions were not moral because they break the laws set by society. Furthermore, the use of the words "believe that it was morally acceptable" does not mean it was. Just because one person believes something right does not make it right.

The dictator

The purpose of government is to secure and protect the inalienable natural rights of the people but, if a government persecutes its people with a long train of abuses over an extended period, the people have the right to resist that government, alter or abolish it, and create a new political system. The reason people are uprising are because the government is becoming abusive and therefore, they have to right to overthrow the government. Therefore, the dictator does not have the moral right to resist this overturning. Furthermore, how is attacking those who pose no physical threat to you justifiable? Would that not just be making a martyr out of those 18 people and strengthening the resolve of those against you, giving more incentive to overthrow that government?

Now mental illness. You have stated that "morals [are] based on their perception of what is "right" and what is "wrong" in the world around us." This is true because the government is tasked with creating morale laws that separate right and wrong. Mental illness is not physical because it affects your psyche which is not a physical thing. Therefore, this is irrelevant. But, nevertheless, here is the main problem with using the mentally ill as an example. People who are psychopaths and sociopaths, have no perception between right and wrong because they do not feel any emotion. They cannot perceive that life is precious because they do not know what it means to love life; they cannot fee love. For people with mental illnesses, such as the ones you presented, there is nothing separating what is right and what is wrong. Right and wrong are indistinguishable from one another. Therefore, they cannot judge their own morale beliefs because they cannot distinguish between right and wrong.

Furthermore, let me bring you back to the definition provided of inalienable rights "A right which according to natural law cannot be taken away, denied, or transferred." Sacrificing yourself is not breaking with the central premise of what an inalienable right is. It has to be morally correct for someone to kill you for life to not be inalienable.

My opponent has yet to prove life is alienable.
Debate Round No. 2
Fluer

Pro

My opponent has yet to prove life is NOT alienable.

And by physical I mean anything that affects your body and a mental illness is still technically a physical ailment due to the fact that their brain functions are being affected, i.e. there is only a psychological affect due to the physical problem.
I will explain morals again.

Morals are unique to every person and they are based on that persons perception on whether an action is right or wrong.
My opponent has actually indadvertedly demonstrated this rather well. His personal perception of events in my cases is that they are wrong therefore he believes that it is morally wrong to kill. The killers had a different personal perception of the events and they concluded that it was morally correct to kill. Everyone has a different moral stance. "Pro must prove that it is morally acceptable to take life away or, in other words, kill." I feel I have done this quite successfully.

Rebuttal

In most western societies it may be the case that the most popular moral stance is that killing is morally wrong but even "common morality" is subjective. For example America has the death penalty, Britain allows abortion, French soldiers are trained to kill. A collective group of people have decided that in these instances it is morally correct to take a life. Laws are not based on morality they are based on a negotiable collaboration between the government and the people. This is the social contract. We the people give the government power in order to gain protection. I agree with your points on society however laws and morality are not connected. We want our positive rights protected and our negative rights installed because we have come to a majority agreement that we have decided upon from personal perception of events. You say later, "Just because one person believes something right does not make it right.". Just because a million people believe something does not make it right. We all make our own perceptions and we all conclude with a unique set of moral beliefs.
"According to John Locke, the most basic human law of nature is the preservation of mankind. Individuals therefore, have an unalienable right to life because they must be alive in order to preserve mankind."
According to me, the most basic chicken law of nature is the preservation of chicken-kind. Chickens therefore, have an inalienable right to life because they must be alive in order to preserve chicken kind. We should all be vegetarians and anyone who has killed and eaten a chicken will be held accountable in the Supreme Chicken Court. All jokes aside, John Locke is a philosopher. This is his personal belief based on his perception of what natural rights are. John locke was never able to prove his arguments were right.
"Therefore, it cannot be morally acceptable to kill another person because in doing so you are proclaiming that you are dominant over another because by taking that life, you are saying that you are above natural law and therefore, saying you are not equal to another."
People do though, that's the point. You believe that it is morally unacceptable but someone else (pick which ever killer you like) believes this is perfectly acceptable.
"I interpret the right to life to mean the right to not be killed." Then you should have added it to the definitions and I would have told you that it is rubbish. The right to life is simply the right to live. Live being defined as your brain is functioning and controlling bodily functions like breathing.
"Everyone has the right to not be killed." This is what you are meant to be proving to win this debate therefore please prove it instead of simply stating it.
"This is a universal right." Again prove it because so far this is just a positive right that most people in a democracy have agreed that they want. There is nothing natural about it, it's purely a man made concept.
"they are also refuting the fact they have the right to not be killed and can be killed by anyone at anytime." Yes I am.
"Since the right to not be killed is a universal right" Prove it.
"and my opponent values their own life" No I don't.
"then everybody has this right to not be killed" So if I don't value my own life and the right not to be killed is not universal then nobody has the right to not be killed?

Most of my rebuttal for the way you attempted to refute my cases is that this is your own personal perception of the events which differs to the personal perception of the killers.
To answer your questions: "Furthermore, how is attacking those who pose no physical threat to you justifiable?"
I personally don't believe that it is which is why I have never done it. The dictator I cannot answer for since I am not he and I do not know him.
"Would that not just be making a martyr out of those 18 people and strengthening the resolve of those against you, giving more incentive to overthrow that government?"
Yes it probably is and that is where the social contract comes in. It does not prove however that people have an inalienable right to life.
"This is true because the government is tasked with creating morale laws that separate right and wrong" No this just becomes a societal influence which I explained in my first post.
"People who are psychopaths and sociopaths, have no perception between right and wrong because they do not feel any emotion." Perception of events is not based sole upon your ability to love. For example children do not have the mental capacity to make moral judgements but they still have emotions. A young child is told a story about two boys. One boy is told by his father not to touch his ink pot. The boy does it anyway but spills some making a small stain. Another boy is asked by his father to refill his ink pot. The boy does this but spills a lot of ink and makes a large stain. The child is then asked which boy was naughty and they reply with the second boy because he done more damage. Mentally ill people do still see right and wrong it just tends to be a very different picture to what "normal" people see. They think it's right to kill a puppy most people don't.
"It has to be morally correct for someone to kill you for life to not be inalienable." Yes it does and I stated that I was using my very brief example of giving up your own life to show "the subjective nature of human morals around which this debate is centred." My point is still relevant.

As Pro I bring to you in line with the definitions set out by Con that morals are unique and are formed on a personal perception of events which are influenced by three main factors: physical, environmental and societal. I have proven that peoples morals are subjective enough that we can believe we are morally right in taking a life. My opponent tried to prove that since we exist in a society we have the right to life as is given to us in the natural law. He did not prove however that natural laws actually exist and are not simple man made concepts created because we WANT to live. Society exists as part of the social contract which is negotiable and does get changed on a regular basis. For Con to have win this debate he would have had to prove that natural laws exist and prove that we have the intrinsic right not to be killed. That would have been far better suited to the previous round though as I have no opportunity to rebut his next post.

Thank you for reading this debate.
Vote Pro.
THEBOMB

Con

Defense of my own arguments:

Let me bring you back to my observation: "Pro must prove that it is morally acceptable to take life away or, in other words, kill."

Now let's sum up the main part of the argument.

My opponent's main claim is that a person's moral beliefs depend on their situation. This premise is supported by the logically comparing morals to fingerprints and claiming that everyone perceives their situation differently, therefore, in some cases they can kill morally.

My main claim is that society holds a common morality. I prove this by saying that society was set up to protect peoples natural rights given to them by nature. I prove this by citing the "Morals and Criminal Law" and "The Philosophy of Law" which hold that society is held together by common morality and that this common morality is expressed through laws. Laws hold that it is immoral to kill. Thus, society holds it is immoral to kill. Therefore, members of society hold it is immoral to kill. Morals are not unique to every person. Morals are created by society.
My opponents objections by stating different countries such as Britain, France, and America are all completely invalid. Why? They are completely different societies.

My opponent refutes that laws and morals are connected in society. My opponents sole argument supporting this is "Laws are not based on morality they are based on a negotiable collaboration between the government and the people. This is the social contract." Here's the problem with this statement. The Social Contract relies upon natural law. Society is formed such that the government protects people according to natural law. By utilizing the Social Contract my opponent is affirming that natural law exists and therefore, the inalienable right to life exists. My opponent has neglected to explain why the government is given power, and since they brought up the social contract, I will do so. The reason for giving the government power is to go from a state of nature to a state of political order. In the state of nature, people are only limited by their own moral beliefs and their personal power. In the state of political order, people are bound by a COMMON Morality, what a central power deems to be right and wrong, aka laws. Bringing up the social contract dooms my opponents case, as they now hold the entirety of the contract to be true.

My first contention cited John Locke and Francis Hutcheson. The problem with my opponents rebuttal is even through their mocking, they never proved that John Locke was wrong. Even with their jokes about chickens they never stated explicitly that individuals do not have the right to life to preserve mankind. In fact, with their satirical comments, they are affirming this thinking. (Chickens have the right to live to preserve "chicken-kind" why not man?)

My opponent has never stated that all men are not equal. Therefore, all men are equal. If all men are equal then all men have equal rights. If all men have equal rights all men have an equal right to live. If all men have an equal right to live than the right to life is universal and since all men have an equal right to live, killer and victim. Then the right to life cannot be morally take away because all men are equal. Since both my opponent and I hold man's equality to be true, one person cannot morally take away a right they are both equally entitled to.

As for my interpretation about the right to life, my opponent defines life as "simply the right to live." Well the right to live is the same as the right to not be killed. As if you are living you have the right to not die. And if you have the right to not be killed you are alive. My opponent claims that only, "Most people in a democracy have agreed" on this universal concept. But, they are wrong. Most people have not agreed SOCIETY has agreed on this through the Social Contract my opponent has brought up above.

My opponent was the one who, by arguing with the Social Contract, brought and now agrees that natural law exists. Since, we hold this true, my opponent is agreeing that society follows a common morality, what a central power deems to be moral. This common morality is expressed through laws. Because people live in society people, therefore, agree to a common morality expressed through these laws. Since we hold this true, society holds killing is not morally correct. Therefore, it is not morally correct to kill, my opponent has not proved to the contrary.
Debate Round No. 3
16 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Mike_10-4 2 years ago
Mike_10-4
The answer to this debate is in the following book: "Scientific Proof of Our Unalienable Rights," by Takac:

http://www.bookdaily.com...

Life"s Unalienable Rights are an outgrowth of the Constructal Law, which is an outgrowth of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Therefore, life"s Unalienable Rights are part of the physical Laws of Nature, not man-made.
Posted by wiploc 5 years ago
wiploc
That phrasing of the argument fails for the same reason: Society executes people and fights wars, therefore P1 is still demonstrably false, as Pro pointed out.
Posted by THEBOMB 5 years ago
THEBOMB
not that I'm arguing with wiploc's vote because it's his own opinion. But, he misconstrued my argument...

P1. Society regards the right to life as inalienable.
S-P1. Because it is inalienable it is not moral to kill.
P2. As members of society we are bound to this ideology.
C. Therefore, it is not moral for individuals or governments to kill.

But, it doesn't really matter now...and for any future voters disregard this.
Posted by Fluer 5 years ago
Fluer
Thank you wiploc. I totally agree with what your saying.
Posted by wiploc 5 years ago
wiploc
: Posted by royalpaladin:
: wiploc, the debate was not about our society. It was about the right to life in general, so Con's ideas
: were valid.

Con argued thusly:

P1: Our society regards right-to-life as a natural right inalienable.
P2: As members of our society, we are bound by its beliefs.
C: Therefore, the right to life is inviolable: nobody gets to kill anyone ever.

And yet, as Pro points out, our society does not believe in an inalienable right to life. The USA executes people; French soldiers are trained to kill people; Con offers no evidence that _any_ society actually believes that nobody ever gets to kill anybody. To the contrary, our society, as a whole, practices and believes in killing. So Con's first premise is not merely unsupported; it is patently false.

Thus, his argument fails.

Feel free to point out some other line of argument that Con made that I have overlooked. But the one I've dealt with above should actually (if Pro had pointed it out, which he didn't) weigh against Con. If it were true that

P2: As members f our society, we are bound by its beliefs,

then, since our society believes in killing, Con would, by his own logic, be morally bound to believe in killing.
Posted by Fluer 5 years ago
Fluer
@Flenser
Yeah it could have been but I think that part of the debate got lost because we ended up debating "societies" values against individual values. But I do agree with you.
@royalpaladin
I might just be me but I'm having trouble following what you mean.
As far as I can tell it was con that was arguing this based on what we as a society generally believe.
Posted by royalpaladin 5 years ago
royalpaladin
wiploc, the debate was not about our society. It was about the right to life in general, so Con's ideas were valid.
Posted by Flenser 5 years ago
Flenser
One question about the debate. Is this debate only baout taking another persons life without(!) their permission? The origion of my question stems from your definition of "inalienable" as among other things being someting, and this is important, that cannot be given away.
If this is also part of the discussion, Con would also be Con-Euthanasia, specifically Con voluntary Euthanasia.
Have I understood this correctly?
Posted by THEBOMB 5 years ago
THEBOMB
Alright....if you say I didn't use sources...i didn't use sources....I'll be sure to in the future....
Posted by Ron-Paul 5 years ago
Ron-Paul
For THEBOMB and everyone else: Here is my RFD.

Sources: Pro was the only one who provided non-dictionary sources (sources that did not define words, or ones that backed up your arguments). Points go to pro.

Convincing Arguments: I have read the debate three times, and still might give these points to pro. I still haven't decided yet. Pro did have a somewhat of a better argument because there is nothing that states that life is an inalienable right. If I do give the sources to pro, I will give another RFD.

S/G and Conduct Points: Both were equal, so both got tied.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by wiploc 5 years ago
wiploc
FluerTHEBOMBTied
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct point because Con accepted the argument and then tried to change what it was about. If he doesn't like the instigator's definitions, he should negotiate that before accepting. Pro had the best arguments. Con's argument was based on the existence of a society that does not kill, but Pro pointed out that we do kill: we have the death penalty and train soldiers to kill. Con imagines a society that never existed, and bases his argument on it.
Vote Placed by Ron-Paul 5 years ago
Ron-Paul
FluerTHEBOMBTied
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Total points awarded:20 
Reasons for voting decision: I might end up changing my mind on the convincing arguments part in favor of pro later. RFD in comments.
Vote Placed by royalpaladin 5 years ago
royalpaladin
FluerTHEBOMBTied
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Reasons for voting decision: The con's case was just fantastic. He clearly won the social contract argument as well as the equality leading to freedom from subjugation and dominance argument. This was sufficient to negate because they prove that 1. objective morality exists in the form of natural law and 2. the right to life is inalienable. Nice job, Con.