The Instigator
Vi_Veri
Pro (for)
Losing
36 Points
The Contender
feverish
Con (against)
Winning
41 Points

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/17/2009 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 4,918 times Debate No: 10485
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (27)
Votes (16)

 

Vi_Veri

Pro

Hello hello, all. This is a continuation of my 5 topics for debate - now down to 4 topics. Again - I will argue as Pro or Con. My opponent will choose one of these debates and choose their side.

Actual debating will begin in Round 2, starting with me. Definitions will also be supplied in Round 2.

If there are any questions, please leave them in the comments section for me to answer.

REMAINING TOPICS:

1. Logical Fatalism can not be disproved.

2. Terrorism can be justified.

3. Beauty is objective.

4. It is true that if an infinite being can be imagined, it must exist.

POST NOTE:

Some definitions to start out with as my opponent has shown interest in debate number 2.

TERRORISM:

Terrorism is the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion.[1] At present, there is no internationally agreed definition of terrorism.[2][3] Common definitions of terrorism refer only to those violent acts which are intended to create fear (terror), are perpetrated for an ideological goal (as opposed to a lone attack), and deliberately target or disregard the safety of non-combatants.

(First paragraph: http://en.wikipedia.org...)

JUSTIFIED

1 a : to prove or show to be just, right, or reasonabl

(http://www.merriam-webster.com...)
feverish

Con

Thanks Vi for issuing the challenge and including those excellent definitions. This is a great topic and I'm sure it will be a fantastic debate. I think it is very impressive that you are willing to argue either side of all these topics, I'm not sure that I could.

I affirm the resolution: "Terrorism can be justified".

I would like to point out to readers that in no way do I support or condone terrorism. I am merely pointing out that in certain extreme conditions, it can in fact be justified.

I await my opponent's arguments.

Thanks.
Debate Round No. 1
Vi_Veri

Pro

"Terrorism is the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion.[1] At present, there is no internationally agreed definition of terrorism.[2][3] Common definitions of terrorism refer only to those violent acts which are intended to create fear (terror), are perpetrated for an ideological goal (as opposed to a lone attack), and deliberately target or disregard the safety of non-combatants."

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Terrorism is not the struggle of people for determination, or revolution, or rebellion. Terrorism is cowardly fear mongering, propaganda, kidnapping and murder to scare a government or a people into submission. The blatant disregard for human life that terrorists adhere to, whether deliberately taking it, or disregarding the safety of the innocent, is unethical and therefore unjust.

It all comes down to one key statement: It is unethical to do harm to an innocent human being, no matter what the motivator.

In war, the volunteered army of one nation and another nation engage in combat only if certain criteria are met (if the soldiers are not volunteered, it is an unjust war). All other methods of resolution must be exercised before violent ones come to the table, and even during war, ethical standards must hold up in order to comply to the morality of justice. (Geneva Convention: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org...)

Again, I must clarify that terrorism is a different sort of act of violence unlike like a military war where one strategically attacks another's army. Again, this is through standards of morality in voluntary combat engagement (you volunteer to give up your life, and so does the other side in times of just war).

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One might agree with Businessman Ted Turner when he said, "The reason that the World Trade Center got hit is because there are a lot of people living in abject poverty out there who don't have any hope for a better life."

Poverty is not the root cause of terrorism. It is ideas that cause terrorism. A desire to slaughter innocent, productive human beings cannot be explained by a lack of money or a poor quality of life--only by anti-wealth, anti-life philosophies where an idea is put above the right to life of innocent human beings. So long as we wish to uphold the morality of preserving life above all, we must never, under any circumstances, initiate violence against another human being. When one human being can dub their moral cause mighter than another's innocent life, they have disqualified their ability to be a moral, reasoning human being. One can never claim justice by destroying a fundamental human right.

Terrorism is a means of coercion.

As was put very nicely by the philosopher Ayn Rand:

"Be it a highwayman who confronts a traveler with the ultimatum: "Your money or your life," or a politician who confronts a country with the ultimatum: "Your children's education or your life," the meaning of that ultimatum is: "Your mind or your life"—and neither is possible to man without the other."

As we can see, terror is a means to coercion is anti-life, anti-rights, and anti-reasoning.
feverish

Con

Thanks again Vi, for the opportunity to debate such an interesting topic with such a skilled debater as yourself.

Just to clarify for everyone, as I am Con and my opponent is Pro, we have agreed that the resolution we are debating is:

TERRORISM CAN NEVER BE JUSTIFIED.
______________

I will respond to my opponent's case before presenting my own.

Pro:"Terrorism is not the struggle of people for determination, or revolution, or rebellion."

Correct. We have an excellent definition for what terrorism is already. However, while it is not synonymous with struggles such as these it does not exclude them either. Occasionally it can even be the most practical and reasonable way to achieve such ends.

Pro:"Terrorism is cowardly fear mongering, propaganda, kidnapping and murder to scare a government or a people into submission."

Terrorism can include these things but it no more implies or necessarily includes any of them than it does the struggle for rebellion.

Pro: "The blatant disregard for human life that terrorists adhere to ... is unethical and therefore unjust."

Viewed in isolation any such act is indeed unjust but in certain circumstances the killing of innocents is often justified on the premise that it will prevent a greater evil. My opponent's subsequent arguments regarding war all seem to disregard the clear fact that wars always end up killing 'innocent' people.

Pro: "It all comes down to one key statement: It is unethical to do harm to an innocent human being, no matter what the motivator."

I personally find it hard to disagree with this statement but the fact is that we often justify our unethical actions. If there was no question of an act being unethical then there would be no point attempting to justify it.

If my opponent truly wishes to build her argument around this "key statement" then she has basically invalidated most of the distinctions she makes between war and terrorism. Wars kill civilians almost without exception and I would love to see a source detailing a war in which voluntary combatants were the only people harmed.

My opponent goes on to stress the differences between war and terrorism and she is of course correct in pointing out the many guidelines and conventions which exist to regulate ethical conduct in war.

None of this however alters the fact that many conventionally justified military actions fall under the definition of terrorism my opponent has provided: Systematic, ideological, intending to create fear and disregarding the safety of civilians. I will be giving some specific examples in my own arguments.

I would be interested if my opponent could provide some idea of which wars she considers just or unjust so that we can see how they measure up to her "key statement" above.

I agree that "Poverty is not the root cause of terrorism" although I think it can often be a contributing factor. I think terrorism is wide ranging and has a variety of causes, some more justifiable than others.

Pro: "One can never claim justice by destroying a fundamental human right."

That is precisely what happens in the majority of wars, which my opponent apparently thinks are justified. As I think I mentioned before, people usually justify these kinds of seemingly unethical actions by appealing to the concept of 'the greater good'.

Lastly, I won't dispute that "terrorism is a means of coercion" but I don't understand how that is really relevant as many forms of coercion are conventionally justified; from disciplining students to threatening employees with the sack if they don't work hard enough. In response to the Rand stuff I would bring up Marx's concept of economic coercion, if it were not way off topic.

___________

My position: Terrorism can sometimes be justified.

Although this may seem like quite a controversial position, I think there are a number of ways to argue it.

Firstly to show that something can be justified, I don't really need to show that something is objectively just, or believe it to be just myself, merely that it could potentially be interpreted as just by a rational mind. People engaging in acts of terrorism have generally justified it to themselves and they often have many supporters. While some may be insane and entirely devoid of reasoning, I don't think its possible that they all are.

Secondly I could present a slew of hypothetical examples of ridiculously extreme situations where terrorism would be the only reasonable option.

I think that both of these would be a bit of a cop out though and too easy, so I won't use them (not this round anyway, though I may fall back on them if Vi starts kicking my butt lol).

Instead I'm simply going to present a few examples. First of acts of war that are generally justified by most western citizens, I will be explaining how all of these fit our definition of terrorism. Then a few examples of 'terrorist' groups, some of the actions of whom I feel can be justified to a certain extent.

_____

War = Terrorism

These examples are all from recent history and most are from World War II, which most people consider to be among the most just of wars because of the greater evil presented by the fascist regimes.

1. The firebombing of Dresden and other German cities.

"[F]or more than three years, the RAF, later joined by the USAAF, deliberately devastated many German cities, killed about 600,000 civilians and seriously injured another million in an attempt to terrorize the German people into forcing their leadership to halt the war and surrender unconditionally." http://plato.stanford.edu... http://en.wikipedia.org... http://www.amazon.co.uk...

This was systematic and deliberately targeted civilians to coerce them through fear towards an ideological goal. Although particularly the later bombings when the outcome of the war was pretty certain have often been criticised, this terror campaign has been and will continue to be justified by many.

2. Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

"On August 6, 1945, the United States used a massive, atomic weapon against Hiroshima, Japan. This atomic bomb, the equivalent of 20,000 tons of TNT, flattened the city, killing tens of thousands of civilians. While Japan was still trying to comprehend this devastation three days later, the United States struck again, this time, on Nagasaki." http://history1900s.about.com...

I can think of no clearer example for our definition of terrorism than these bombings yet most people would agree they were needed to win a just war.

3. Shock and awe in Iraq.

http://www.cbsnews.com...

The lessons of the past were applied here against the Iraqi civilians. There was no consideration for innocent life. Shock and awe is basically a euphemism for terrorism as a military strategy.

_______

Terrorism = justified.

I'm incredibly short of letters now but briefly:

1. IRA

Although they went on to commit many unjustifiable and barbaric acts (such as bombing my city), the original Irish Republican Army fought horrific oppression from England and many of their actions are viewed as just by Irish, American and even English people.

http://www.rateitall.com...

2. ANC

I can't say I support every action they took but like most people, I think the ANC were the 'good guys' in apartheid ridden South Africa. The status former member Nelson Mandela has as a world statesman confirms this widely held opinion. Recently a UK MP came out in support of the ANC's terrorist activities.

http://www.therightperspective.org...

Sorry for brevity of examples I must learn to use the character limits better.

I look forward to round 3.

Thanks.
Debate Round No. 2
Vi_Veri

Pro

Just a few comments before going on to my opponent's premises:

"Occasionally it can even be the most practical and reasonable way to achieve such ends."

What I'll be proving in this debate is that it is never just, or moral (reasonable) to achieve one's goals through terrorism.

"Terrorism can include these things but it no more implies or necessarily includes any of them than it does the struggle for rebellion."

As we can see, the definition of terrorism directly contradicts this. Terrorism either directly puts innocent people in harms way or disregards their safety completely.

"Viewed in isolation any such act is indeed unjust but in certain circumstances the killing of innocents is often justified on the premise that it will prevent a greater evil. My opponent's subsequent arguments regarding war all seem to disregard the clear fact that wars always end up killing 'innocent' people."

That doesn't matter. Killing of innocent people is never just. Taking an innocent life is always immoral and unjust, no matter the circumstances. One may say it is for the greater good - and yes, greater good may come from it, but it does not negate the immoral and unequal treatment of that life taken.

"I personally find it hard to disagree with this statement but the fact is that we often justify our unethical actions. If there was no question of an act being unethical then there would be no point attempting to justify it."

This is a very naive statement in which my opponent assumes that if someone can irrationally talk themselves into justifying immoral behavior, it must be ok. I can talk myself into believing that dragons exist, but real evidence points to the contrary.

"Wars kill civilians almost without exception and I would love to see a source detailing a war in which voluntary combatants were the only people harmed."

My opponent makes the assumption that I believe that killing civilians during war time is just and moral. Killing of civilians should not happen (in Just War theory), and if it does, it is always an immoral act (and yes, I would go as far as to call it terrorism if the targets were deliberately targeted or disregarded).

"None of this however alters the fact that many conventionally justified military actions fall under the definition of terrorism my opponent has provided"

Again, my opponent assumes that I don't believe that actions that target or disregard citizens in times of war are terrorist acts. It doesn't matter which wars I believe were just or not, it only matters that if two warring factions were to disregard the safety of non-combatants in any way, their acts directly infringe on the Geneva convention.

"That is precisely what happens in the majority of wars, which my opponent apparently thinks are justified. As I think I mentioned before, people usually justify these kinds of seemingly unethical actions by appealing to the concept of 'the greater good'."

I believe that intents of some wars are justifiable, but if in the process they infringe on the right to life of innocent people in a terrorist fashion, that they officially step into immoral territory - no matter what the greater good may be.

------------------------------

My opponent's arguments

"Firstly to show that something can be justified, I don't really need to show that something is objectively just, or believe it to be just myself, merely that it could potentially be interpreted as just by a rational mind."

For something to be justified, it must be objectively just - it can not be only "interpreted" as just by a mind. Minds reason through things irrationally all of the time. It would not be immoral to rape an innocent woman if we threw the term "justified" as a subjective term that the perpetrator can use in any way he pleases to call his action "just."

Also, you do not need to be clinically "insane" in order to commit an immoral and unjust act.

--------------------------------

"War = Terrorism"

Just because the intent and initiation of a war is just, does not mean that specific acts in the war can not be considered terrorist acts. All of the ones my opponent has listed can be considered terrorist, immoral acts by the parties initiating. And again, just because people can assume that infringing on an innocent person's right to life can be justified, does not mean it can be. Slaughtering of innocent people, taking their lives which are not yours too take, is always immoral and unjust.

--------------------------------

"Terrorism = Justified"

1. IRA

Again, just because freedom fighters may view their acts as just because they are being oppressed, it does not make the act of killing innocent people just or moral.

2. ANC

Again, just because the struggle of freedom fighters is a just act, their attacks should have solely been on their oppressors and not aimed at innocent people who are not volunteering their lives for the struggle or have taken any part in the oppressing. If they have, then they are not innocent and it is not terrorism.

Also, it would seem that people like Nelson Mandela could have justifiable cause for their struggle, but never justifiable cause to kill innocent people. He seems to not be infallible with his morals anyway as he has been criticized for support of the immoral blood diamond trade.

-------------------------------------

--Murder and disregard of an innocent human being's life is never justifiable.--

Terror is not a moral response to terror and killing innocent people is not a moral response to the deaths of innocent people. For a just war to occur, one must respond to an immoral act committed on one by another nation or group of people, but if one engages in such a war by also committing immoral atrocities, their justification has been negated. Killing of volunteered combatants is not committing an immoral act, for you are engaging in self defense and volunteering your life (as they have done theirs) for war time activities that lead to death.

The life of another human being should never be used as a means to an end. Justice asks of the punishment of a crime to suit or be proportional in severity to the crime. An innocent person has not committed a crime, and thus the taking and disregarding of their life is a direct infringement of Justice. No one can make the claim that your life is their property to take for the gains of other people. Life must be voluntarily given.

--------------------------------------------

I await my opponent's next round with excitement :)

Regards,

Vi
feverish

Con

Thanks Vi.

Pro seems to accept that terrorism can include (in her words) "the struggle of people for determination, or revolution, or rebellion" as well as that "Occasionally it can even be the most practical [but never reasonable] way to achieve such ends."

In any case she has not disputed these assertions. I think these are potentially strong justifications for terrorism in response to extreme oppression.

I said: "Terrorism can include these things" [ as listed by Vi "fear mongering, propaganda, kidnapping and murder" ] "but it no more implies or necessarily includes any of them than it does the struggle for rebellion."

Vi said: "As we can see, the definition of terrorism directly contradicts this. Terrorism either directly puts innocent people in harms way or disregards their safety completely."

I don't see the contradiction here and I think my response to Vi's emotive opening argument still stands.

____

Pro:"my opponent assumes that if someone can irrationally talk themselves into justifying immoral behavior, it must be ok. I can talk myself into believing that dragons exist, but real evidence points to the contrary."

"For something to be justified, it must be objectively just - it can not be only "interpreted" as just by a mind. Minds reason through things irrationally all of the time. It would not be immoral to rape an innocent woman if we threw the term "justified" as a subjective term that the perpetrator can use in any way he pleases to call his action "just."
Also, you do not need to be clinically "insane" in order to commit an immoral and unjust act."

The last thing I want to do is make this a debate based off semantics but I think there is a clear distinction between something being inherently and objectively just and something being able to be logically justified to a rational (if misinformed) mind.

I think the use of the verb in the resolution makes this implication, otherwise the resolution would be "terrorism can never be just" or "terrorism is always unjust".

I don't think it can be compared to rape because I don't see how that could rationally be defended on ideological grounds. Perhaps if a group of militant lesbians were to target known serial rapists and subject them to hideous forced anal violations, then maybe rape could be justified.

I'm sorry for the confusion as well about the issue of rationality. I'm not arguing about justifying something to the insane or the irrational, that was my point. I'm talking about the rare instances where a rational person can make a clear minded decision that an act of violence is likely to bring greater benefit and more long term peace and that the ultimate loss of innocent life will be less in the long term because of it.

Suppose that a group of German terrorists had been able to plant a bomb in Hitler's home during the first months of World War II. If they were willing to harm his family and his live-in house staff in order to carry out such an attack then it would qualify as terrorism rather than mere assassination. Such an act would be inexcusable if taken on its own but viewed in the wider context of the harm this man was intent on inflicting, I would consider this justifiable.

Or imagine that you are an ANC or IRA activist planting a device within a military compound. These soldiers have been oppressing you and your people in your own land for decades and you are making a just strike back at them. You can justify the non-combatant casualties because in the case of the trainees, these will soon become hostile soldiers themselves and even the catering and cleaning staff are oiling the machinery for the regime of oppression.

These are all realistic, historical examples of times when terrorism could have been justified, it would be all too easy to back up my argument further with hypothetical extreme circumstances where the justification would be even stronger.

______

"Killing of innocent people is never just. Taking an innocent life is always immoral and unjust, no matter the circumstances. One may say it is for the greater good - and yes, greater good may come from it, but it does not negate the immoral and unequal treatment of that life taken."

I agree that taking innocent lives is always wrong but as I have shown above, in some situations it can be justified such as if the benefit (innocent lives saved) outweighs the cost (innocent lives taken).

I would also point out that the definition of terrorism does not specify targeting or disregarding the safety of "the innocent" but rather of "non-combatants".

While I am not suggesting that medical or administrative military personnel should be legitimate targets, I don't think they can be described as "innocent" in the same way as for example, a baby can. There are surely many individuals not bearing arms who are culpable for acts deserving punishment, such as politicians who vote in favour of an unjust war.

Sorry about this but: Suppose that someone murders your entire family and everyone you love in front of you. You try to get justice through the courts but the murderer has a bunch of respectable cronies who all give him a watertight alibi (even though they know he did it) and he is found innocent. You are filled with justified murderous rage and your only hope is to extract revenge yourself.

One day your opportunity to destroy him finally comes (after decades of seething in prison with everyone thinking that you murdered your loved ones yourself) but it will also involve murdering two of the guys that gave him an alibi. Now if they were truly innocent you probably wouldn't feel right doing it, but are they? Just because they didn't do the killing themselves? I think you'd be justified to take all three of them down. Maybe.

_______

I am glad to know that my opponent does not exclude acts of war from the definition of terrorism. I couldn't be sure from her previous argument where she seemed to place great emphasis on the distinctions between them.

She states that "It doesn't matter which wars I believe were just or not" but as I was asserting that virtually all wars inevitably lead to some disregard for the safety of non-combatants I think this is an important point. Unless my opponent is willing to also condemn the vast majority of wars this century (I would like to be knowledgeable enough to say "all") then her insistence that taking innocent lives is unjust holds little weight.

Once again any source detailing a war with zero non-combatant casualties would be very much welcomed.

My opponent has condemned as terrorism the fire-bombing of German cities, the atomic bombings in Japan and America's 'shock and awe' tactics in Iraq. I'm sure that many members of this site will view at least one of these occurrences as justified within the wider picture of events at the time.

The issue of Hiroshima is a debate in itself but this essay starts with the arguments against it before justifying it within the historical context. http://docs.google.com...

The site I linked in my argument that the firebombings in Germany qualified as terrorism is also part of a detailed article on justifying terrorism, Michael Walzer makes an excellent argument that the first of these bombings were justified. http://plato.stanford.edu...

Pro: "Killing of volunteered combatants is not committing an immoral act"

How about conscripted combatants? Armies aren't always made up exclusively of volunteers.

____________

I am out of characters once again.

Terrorism can occasionally be justified.

Thanks.

Con.
Debate Round No. 3
Vi_Veri

Pro

I'd like to thank feverish again for this debate!

---------------------------

Con begins by pointing out that terrorism indicates "the struggle of people for determination, or revolution, or rebellion" which is true. However, the focal point of the word terrorism is terror; it means terrorizing people into submission by threatening (and taking) their lives. If the threats were empty, then it wouldn't be terrorism - it would only be "threats." Terrorism implies that the threats are actually carried out. So, it makes sense to assume that terrorism implies taking innocent people's (civilians) lives. Again, if the threats of taking those lives were not carried out, then terrorism wouldn't work or even be terrorism at all. This need not turn into a debate over semantics; we can reason this through using examples from our every day lives. The "War on Terrorism" isn't the war against empty threats -- It's the war against real ones. That threat, of course, is taking lives or accomplishing goals that can only be accomplished via taking lives.

---------------------------

Next we move onto the idea of "justified" terrorism. As I have pointed out, terrorism is enacted not on military soldiers but on average citizens (otherwise it would be considered war - not terrorism). As I have also pointed out, it is irrational to justify taking the life of an innocent human being. Con's example of militant lesbians raping a rapist is not applicable, since the justice can be found in the "eye for an eye" theory. However, the civilians that are being terrorized are not killers, therefore the equivalent "punishment" is not applicable to them and killing them is not justified.

---------------------------

Con says that in order for my position to be true, that the resolution would have to read "Terrorism can never be just" or "Terrorism is always unjust." I really don't understand the point that he is trying to make, since that is indeed the position I am taking in this debate using the resolution that we have now: Terrorism can be justified. I am Con, so my position indicates that terrorism can never be justified and is always unjustified. Since I agree to that standard, I'm not really sure what Con's point is in this regard. I have argued that terrorism as we have been defining it (and in the way which I have explained is applicable - i.e. the taking of innocent lives) is indeed always unjust.

---------------------------

Regarding rationality, Con says, "I'm talking about the rare instances where a rational person can make a clear minded decision that an act of violence is likely to bring greater benefit and more long term peace and that the ultimate loss of innocent life will be less in the long term because of it." He then proceeds to present the example of killing Hitler before Hitler had the opportunity to kill others. Now ignoring the obvious argumentum ad Hitlerum fallacy and the fact that Hitler waged war (which again is irrelevant to the debate), there are several problems with this analogy... aside from the fact that I don't know if that example even constitutes systematic terrorism as we know it.

Nevertheless, in Con's example, Hitler had not yet killed anyone as he mentions Hitler's *intent* and not Hitler's actual deeds. That said, it is important to make the distinction between a moral and practical justification. Killing the innocent parties is indeed murder, and the minute we begin to view outright murder as acceptable in any situation, we find ourself on a slippery slope as the word "sometimes" opens a panorama of moral doubt: when is violence justified? How can we know? Who gets to make the decision? It is easier to distinguish specific situations than it is to draw lines that will allow us to make decisions reliably in the future. And what good are these lines, anyway, if they are not universally accepted?" [1].

I hope we can universally accept that unnecessary death via the form of murder (or terrorism) is wrong. So in Con's example, if we kill Hitler - i.e. murder to his family - then their "unnecessary" death is the result. If we don't, then more people die -- there is even more "unnecessary" death. But even if more unnecessary death occurs by not killing his family, who ever established utilitarianism as a moral principle? So far we have only distinguished rationality as the principle. Choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil. Murder is always wrong, thus simply because you may be save many lives by killing a few people, the act of killing is immoral within itself and therefore cannot be morally justified.

Another argument in that regard is Kant's theory of deontological ethics [2]. Kant explains that we have a duty to the individual and autonomy of the will. In other words, the lives of the individuals in Hitler's family are just as valuable as other lives, and they have a right to it until they forfeit that right - which they have not.

---------------------------

We now move onto the idea of necessary vs. just. One might argue that while it isn't just to kill Hitler's family, that it might be necessary to save the lives of other people. However just because something is necessary does not mean that it's just (morally right). If it's not just, then how can it be justified when the definition of justified itself reads "proven to be just?" Think of it this way -- If you are alone trapped and isolated inside of a room with 1 other person, but there is only enough food for 1 person to survive, it may be *necessary* to kill the other person to ensure your survival; however, that doesn't make killing itself just. You may rationalize your action to assume that it was justified in order to further your own survival, but just because your greatest desire is to survive doesn't mean that killing is the rational thing to do.

Sociologist Zygmunt Bauman's thesis presumes that morality has a biological origin, the 'animal pity' we feel when we see another human being suffering. The idea is that morality precedes civilization and functions independently of it, surviving like a weed in the cracks even when civilization does its best to extirpate it [3]. Indeed countless psychological studies show that humans have an innate resistance towards acting violently or killing other human beings if they are rational people; I think this much Con and I can agree on.

---------------------------

In the rest of Con's examples, killing innocent parties was always justified because they were going to become killers themselves in the FUTURE (such as the military trainees). However there is no way to 100% guarantee that they would have actually killed. In a court of law, for instance, there is no liability in tort for consequences that cannot be foreseen (see: Palsgraf vs. Long Island Railroad). And since said parties are innocent until they are guilty, then in the end you're still taking an innocent's person life. It isn't until they have already killed could the killing of them be just, and therefore justified (thus not making it terrorism, but something else entirely).

---------------------------

Con points out that terrorism deals with those who are "non-combatants." Agreed, though I think it's clear that non-combatants assumes that they have not taken another's life. As such, it would not be justified for me to take their life - such as the life of a politician who voted for war, or someone who gave a false alibi for the one who murdered my family (according to Con's example).

---------------------------

Conscripted combatants are irrelevant to the debate; they are part of war - not terrorism.

---------------------------

I'm out of characters, but I don't believe any more needs to be said and I have addressed all of Con's points : )

[1] http://www.spectacle.org...
[2] http://plato.stanford.edu...
[3] http://www.spectacle.org...
feverish

Con

Thanks to you too Vi, this has indeed been a stimulating and thought provoking debate.
___________

I will summarise what I believe are the main points of this discussion before responding to my opponent's last post.

Throughout this debate my opponent's position has been that the taking of an 'innocent' life (more specifically that of a non-combatant, and as further clarified by Pro in the last round "non-combatants assumes that they have not taken another's life) can never be justified. It is this, rather than other aspects of terrorism that almost all of her arguments have been based on.

This key argument is however undermined and contradicted by her implied justification of war. Vi has often stressed the differences between war and terrorism in this debate but in round 3 she did admit that wars can often involve terrorist acts (Shock and Awe, Hiroshima etc.) Vi has talked about the rules of engagement in war and referred to the Geneva Convention but her ideal image of a "just war" sadly does not exist.

In both of the previous rounds I have pointed out that wars invariably lead to the loss of innocent lives and I have challenged Vi to give me an example of an exception to this rule or merely of any war that she believes was just. As no such example has been offered I think we can conclude that no war matches Pro's unrealistic restrictions for justification and that by proposing that wars can be just she is contradicting her own core argument against terrorism.

I also pointed out early on in round two that terrorism does not necessarily include murder. The definition specifies violence only, not killing. Even if we were to accept Pro's assertion that killing someone who has not already killed is always wrong regardless of the benefits, an act of violence does not have to involve this to qualify as terrorism.

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Pro: "it means terrorizing people into submission by threatening (and taking) their lives."

As explained above, killing is not necessarily an aspect of terrorism.

Pro: "The "War on Terrorism" isn't the war against empty threats -- It's the war against real ones."

Aside from the fact that one can only wage war against a nation and not against an activity, the "war on terrorism" is essentially a euphemism for America's ideological conflict with Islamist politics. Like terrorism itself it is ideological and when tactics like shock and awe are employed it becomes more of a war OF terrorism.

Pro: "terrorism is enacted not on military soldiers but on average citizens (otherwise it would be considered war - not terrorism)."

This is not entirely accurate, under our definition almost any military strike that disregards the safety of non-combatants would qualify as terrorism, whether or not the civilians were the intended target, see my example of a terrorist strike on a military base in the last round.

Pro: "Con's example of militant lesbians raping a rapist is not applicable"

I wasn't trying to make a direct comparison between this and terrorism here, I was merely attempting to conceive of a situation where rape could potentially be justified.

Pro: "Con says that in order for my position to be true, that the resolution would have to read "Terrorism can never be just" or "Terrorism is always unjust." I really don't understand the point that he is trying to make, since that is indeed the position I am taking in this debate using the resolution that we have now: Terrorism can be justified. I am Con, so my position indicates that terrorism can never be justified and is always unjustified."

Just is an adjective, to justify is a verb. My point was that something does not have to be objectively and inherently just in order for a rational human being to justify it. The modified resolution is "terrorism can never be justified" and I am Con.

Pro: "in Con's example, Hitler had not yet killed anyone as he mentions Hitler's *intent* and not Hitler's actual deeds."

Careful reading will show that I specified this scenario taking place "during the first months of World War II." At this point Hitler was already responsible for the loss of many innocent lives. It is his deeds as well as his intent that would justify his assassination.

Pro: "the minute we begin to view outright murder as acceptable in any situation, we find ourself on a slippery slope as the word "sometimes" opens a panorama of moral doubt"

I am by no means an expert on the subject of logical fallacies but I believe that this "slippery slope" argument represents one. I don't think there is anything revolutionary or morally perplexing about the concept that many innocent lives should be valued higher than a few innocent lives. This is how civilian casualties in war are generally justified.

Pro: "But even if more unnecessary death occurs by not killing his family, who ever established utilitarianism as a moral principle? So far we have only distinguished rationality as the principle."

I think in this kind of situation, the logic behind valuing the many over the few is self-evident.

Pro: "Choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil. Murder is always wrong, thus simply because you may be save many lives by killing a few people, the act of killing is immoral within itself and therefore cannot be morally justified."

Yes killing may be immoral and no, two wrongs don't make a right. Retaliating out of revenge can not be morally justified but if an act (however unjust in itself) prevents far greater injustice then it can, on balance, be morally justified.

Pro: "Another argument in that regard is Kant's theory of deontological ethics".

To be brutally honest, I find the ramblings of Immanuel Kant pretty incomprehensible, though I couldn't say for sure whether the problem is with my own level of comprehension or with the theories themselves.

Pro: "If you are alone trapped and isolated inside of a room with 1 other person, but there is only enough food for 1 person to survive, it may be *necessary* to kill the other person to ensure your survival; however, that doesn't make killing itself just."

This would be a more fitting analogy for the topic in question if you had specified that the other person was armed and dangerous and you had every reason to believe that they were planning to kill you. Terrorism seldom occurs without some form of provocation.

Pro: "Indeed countless psychological studies show that humans have an innate resistance towards acting violently or killing other human beings if they are rational people".

It isn't clear that this is a moral resistance, it could be mere squeamishness. Imagine that the other person has severely wronged you and this resistance will wane.

Pro: "In the rest of Con's examples, killing innocent parties was always justified because they were going to become killers themselves in the FUTURE (such as the military trainees)."

This completely ignores the non-combatant military staff (catering etc.) I mentioned at the base as well as my other example of the men who provided the killer with his alibi. I don't know if my opponent missed these or if she just doesn't have an answer for them.

Pro: "It isn't until they have already killed could the killing of them be just, and therefore justified (thus not making it terrorism, but something else entirely)."

If there is so much as one non-combatant in the target zone then any act of war qualifies as terrorism under our definition.

Pro: "it would not be justified for me to take their life - such as the life of a politician who voted for war"

You don't have to take their life to terrorise them. Also I believe the man giving the order is at least as much to blame as the man pulling the trigger.

Out of characters and rapidly running out of time. Really enjoyed the debate, thanks again to Vi and to you for reading.

Con.
Debate Round No. 4
27 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Vi_Veri 7 years ago
Vi_Veri
Thanks, Feverish :)
Posted by feverish 7 years ago
feverish
I seem to only get RFDs on debates I win though, how am I supposed to improve? lol

By the way Vi, I don't know why but I love your new pic (in a non-sleazy way).
Posted by Vi_Veri 7 years ago
Vi_Veri
lol, feverish, they never really leave RFD's. I would have loved some on my other debates but people just vote and leave unfortunately
Posted by feverish 7 years ago
feverish
Haha, I love how my comment below is getting totally ignored. Seriously guys, I don't mind losing to Vi but would love some feedback on why her arguments were more convincing than mine.
Posted by feverish 7 years ago
feverish
Glad to see this debate attracting lot of attention and votes. As always, reasons for voting decisions would be greatly appreciated.
Posted by Vi_Veri 7 years ago
Vi_Veri
lol I know.
Posted by Strikeeagle84015 7 years ago
Strikeeagle84015
Just thought i would point out that not all terrorists cause harm to people take for example the IRA as far as i know they have called in every single bomb threat they have made (save 2) so that everyone could get out and no one would be hurt in their words
"we want a lot of people watching not a lot of people dead"
Posted by Vi_Veri 7 years ago
Vi_Veri
lol They obviously couldn't have read the debate that fast :p But eh.
Posted by feverish 7 years ago
feverish
Thanks Vi, have to do it again sometime. Don't know where that 7 point vote came from by the way. I can't vote.
Posted by Vi_Veri 7 years ago
Vi_Veri
Good job, though, Feverish. Good debate.
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