The Instigator
TheSkeptic
Pro (for)
Winning
38 Points
The Contender
rougeagent21
Con (against)
Losing
14 Points

Pick your own debate - 1E

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/16/2009 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,071 times Debate No: 8310
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (4)
Votes (8)

 

TheSkeptic

Pro

If you have participated or read any of these types of debates before, then this one should be no different. However, for those who haven't:

ROUND 1: This obviously includes this opening introduction and rules. For my opponent, he/she will post 3 topics (clarify them if you could) he/she wishes to debate, and then post his/her position on each of the topics. Please try to add a mix of subjects. Have some deal with religion, others with politics, others with art, others with social issues, etc.

ROUND 2-4: I will start my case by supporting or attacking one of three topics my opponent proposed. It should follow throughout as a normal 3-Round debate.

*NOTE* - I realize that politics are almost undoubtedly tangled with social issues, but a somewhat cut between the two would be fine. By politics, I imagine topics such as what is the best political system, what role does the government play, economics, taxes, so on and so forth. By social issues, I imagine topics such as gay marriage, abortion, euthanasia, so on and so forth.

*NOTE* - Please put forth only controversial, or at least opinionated claims, for the topics. This should be pretty self-explanatory. If you have any questions, just leave it at the comments section.

*NOTE* - The "1E" notation is for purely for browsing purposes.

If there's any concerns or questions, leave it at the comments sections.
rougeagent21

Con

Alright, lets get started!

Topic 1-
Physician assisted suicide should be legalized in the United States: I am PRO

Topic 2-
Water borading is a justified method of interrogation for terrorists: I am PRO

Topic 3-
The Bible supports Young Earth Creationism (YEC): I am PRO

Good luck.
Debate Round No. 1
TheSkeptic

Pro

I thank my opponent for accepting this debate, and for following the guidelines properly. However, I am somewhat disappointed with the variety of topics, but nevertheless that's due only to my own nit picky tastes :).

I will be choosing the second topic: Water boarding is a justified method of interrogation for terrorists. Since my opponent is PRO, I am obviously CON.

Let's avoid semantics in this debate, as this will get us nowhere. Water boarding is popularized form of torture that the U.S. is accused of doing (it simulates drowning). Justified means morally justified and/or practically justified. Terrorists are clandestine means those who seek (in the context of this debate) to destroy/cripple the U.S. government/infrastructure for whatever purposes via methods such as suicide bombing, low-intensity violence, etc. I really doubt the definitions of these words need to be sourced, but if you have serious issues with it then I'll be glad to source it in the next round. Otherwise, let's move on.

My sole argument -- and take note that I DO NOT support this personally -- against water boarding is the fact that 1. it's immoral and 2. it's impractical/doesn't work well. I will list both of these arguments as follows:

====================
Water boarding is immoral - Kant's categorical imperative
====================

If anyone has noticed, my past strings of debates have involved me constantly taking devil's advocate. Kant' categorical imperative (CI) is very fun when I'm in such a position :D.

Anyway, since the CI states that the human being can NOT be the means to an end, torture is forbidden. Thus, water boarding is not justified. Not only that, but allowing torture to happen violates the law of humanity, which the categorical imperative forbids for something to be moral and universalized.

My opponent's can take many routes in attacking this argument. He can strike at the metaethical nature of CI, or the interpretation of it. I await his response.

====================
Water boarding is impractical - It doesn't work well
====================

When dealing with torture, especially ones that cause extreme duress, often the victims will say anything to have it stop. In fact, having these false confessions mislead American military intelligence will not only be useless, but HAMPER and HARM the cause.

More effective ways of coercing terrorists should be analyzed and implemented, instead of a barbaric and counterproductive method.

=====================
Conclusion
=====================

Well there you have it. My opponent's up ;D
rougeagent21

Con

rougeagent21 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
TheSkeptic

Pro

Extend my arguments to this round.
rougeagent21

Con

First of all, I would apologize to my opponent and the voters for the forfeit. I hope we can still have a competitive debate. Now that school is out, I should not miss another round. Thank you.

I will address my opponent's points briefly, as they do not require long rebuttals. First off is Immanuel Kant's Categorical Imperative.

== CI ==

My opponent brings up the point that the CI says that humans may not be used as a means to an end. This is not always the case. You must realize here that the end is saving citizens' lives. I will take a Utilitarian perspective here. When it has been proven that water boarding saves lives, we cannot refuse its use. If the end is saving many lives, then one is completely justified in using the means of one terrorist's temporary psychological well being. The end completely justifies the means.

== PRACTICALITY ==

My opponent questions the use of water boarding. This is an uneducated claim. Although there have been multiple success stories of water boarding, the most well-known is the Khalid Shaikh Mohammed case. http://waterboarding.org... The gist of the story is that we discovered valuable information that was used to stop other Al-Quaida attacks. I now ask my opponent to tell me how water boarding is not practical or effective.

If you value the psychological health of a terrorist over the lives of thousands of American citizens, vote for the negative.
Debate Round No. 3
TheSkeptic

Pro

My opponent has finally responded after his previous forfeit. No worries, I'm sure it was for legitimate reasons. How the voters take that is out of my hands, so let's just have a good debate. And since he has refuted my points in the same linear pattern I have, I shall respond in the same manner.

====================
Kant's Categorical Imperative - My opponent's lack of backed up argument
====================

To be honest, I am quite confused by my opponent's response. Has he even given an argument? His argument basically composed of a claim that wasn't backed up, of him basically stating the opposite of my argument. All he did was simply state that "no the categorical imperative isn't right, utilitarianism is". Let me illustrate what I mean:

>>>"You must realize here that the end is saving citizens' lives."<<<

But why?

>>>"If the end is saving many lives, then one is completely justified in using the means of one terrorist's temporary psychological well being."<<<

But why?

>>>"The end completely justifies the means."<<<

BUT WHY?

You see voters, my opponent has given no reason in his argument for why utilitarianism is the correct ethical system rather than deontology, in this case Kantian ethics. He has given no philosophical reasoning for why his ethical system is superior to mine; he has not shown any flaw in my reasoning. When philosophers argue about ethics, they don't simply state that one is better than the other, they give reasons - something my opponent has yet to do. Which brings me to my next point:

====================
Kant's Categorical Imperative - List of reasons why CI is correct and Utilitarianism is wrong
====================

So that being said, I will hereby give a list of A) reasons why the categorical imperative is justified and B) why utilitarianism (besides the fact that the CI is correct) is wrong. By doing this, I will effectively show why torture is immoral, since it would be violating the CI.

A1. Kant sought to place his ethical system on the foundations on something sturdy - built on reason. In fact, he sought to do something that is seemingly contradictory, a synthetic a priori imperative[1]. He does this by reflecting on the idea of an abstraction itself, and this is how the CI is formulated. Essentially, his ethical system is one that states that your actions will be bound to reason - a sturdy foundation for his ethical work. And since we all have practical reason, it stands that no human can be used as a means.

A2. CI gives a clear cut idea for morality. True, while some things may seem intuitively "wrong" (like never lying), this does not mean his ethical system is wrong. Just because it "feels" or "seems" bad, doesn't mean it is. In fact, this would be committing the fallacy of emotional appeal unless there is something substantive to say otherwise.

A3. While it may seem impractical at first, this does not mean it can be overcome or that it should even be a reason to do otherwise. Should we simply do something immoral because being moral is IMPRACTICAL? Should I be allowed to murder because not killing my neighbor is impractical for me? Impracticality has nothing to do with morality, and it shouldn't impede it.

**Now the downsides of utilitarianism**

B1. Why should everyone's happiness, as utilitarians have commonly states, matter? Why should YOUR happiness matter to me? This is the problem that people like John Stuart Mill have famously not overcome - the jump from one's own happiness to the aggregate happiness of everyone else's. As Mill famously commits the fallacy of composition[2], I wonder how my opponent can overcome this problem.

B2. How the heck do we estimate how much happiness is generated? How do we quantitatively measure it? It stands to reason that it is almost impossible to measure how much an action can affect people in both distance and time - just look at chaotic systems[3] for example.

B3. How do measure how much happiness an act can produce? This coincides with the previous point. If one says that upholding the CI is impractical, then just WAIT when you get into utilitarianism. Every act isn't just impractical, it's virtually impossible.

B4. How does utilitarianism deal with the "utility monster"[4]? A thought experiment created by the philosopher Robert Nozick, a utility monster is someone who can turn his own utility MUCH more efficient than others from one amount of "resource" - which in this case would be an act that generates happiness. Basically, this monster can become much more "happier" than others from the same amount of resource. This leads to dire consequences, like sacrificing the needs and even lives of others for the sake of the utility monster. What seemed like a just and egalitarian system of ethics turns out to be otherwise.

====================
Practicality of water boarding
====================

Just because we have a few success cases from water boarding does NOT mean it is overall effective. Many times, scaring people with torture will lead to false information. Why? It's very simple and almost a rule of nature - humans, like any animal, want to survive. So when they are being tortured, they will say almost anything to make it stop, many times being false information[6]. This is why most C.I.A. Special Activites Division (kind of like spies) and U.S. special operations units see it as a poor interrogation method[6].

With U.S. forces being misled by such information, and at the same time violating rights, they are committing two big nono-s. A waste of time and immoral actions produce nothing good. So yes, while there a few lucky cases, it doesn't prove the overall effetiveness of water boarding, let alone most torture procedures.

====================
Conclusion
====================

And there you go. I have listed the reasons for why the CI is correct and why Utilitarianism is wrong. Even if my argument against the practicality of water boarding fails, this doesn't mean I have lost the debate. My opponent still needs to refute my ethical arguments against water boarding - unless he wants to say that we should violate morals anyway.

VOTE PRO.

---References---
1. http://plato.stanford.edu...
2. http://plato.stanford.edu...
3. http://www.imho.com...
4. http://en.wikipedia.org...
5. Scruton, Roger. Modern philosophy an introduction and survey. New York: Allen Lane Penguin P, 1995.
6. http://science.howstuffworks.com...
rougeagent21

Con

In the final round, I will only run down a few key arguments, followed by voters. After that, the voters should be able to make an educated decision. I will start with his attacks on my first argument.

I argued that the end result is saving citizens' lives.
"But why?" he responds.
What are you trying to say? Look at my examples. It CANNOT be argued that water boarding HAS SAVED LIVES. That is why.

I argued that the end (saved lives) is justified because it is more important than a terrorists fear of water.
"But why?" he inquires.
I guess I was wrong when I assumed that this was a simple concept. If my opponent is arguing that a terrorists mentality is more valuable than thousands of lives, then he has lost the moral debate right there, along with philosophy. If he is not arguing this, then he is agreeing with me completely.

I concluded that the end justifies the means.
"BUT WHY?" he asks again.
Because, as has been explained, it is morally correct to sacrifice a terrorists temporary well-being for the lives of innocent civilians. It is the government's duty to protect the citizens, and it would not be legitimate if it did not. Therefore, on moral and political scales, water boarding is by far the correct choice.

Here is the unfortunate truth:
Terrorists threaten lives.
Terrorists kill innocent civilians.

Here is the fortunate truth:
We can deter the actions of terrorists.
We can save lives.

If you value your life above the temporary psyche of an America-hating, people-killing, terror-inflicting person, you are in your right mind. Vote Affirmative.

== Sources ==

http://abcnews.go.com...
http://www.foxnews.com...
http://blogs.usatoday.com...
Debate Round No. 4
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by Maikuru 7 years ago
Maikuru
Well, that was unsatisfying (that's what she said).

C: Pro - Forfeit penalty
S & G: Tie
A: Pro - While Pro provided reasonable arguments throughout, I found Con's rebuttals and arguments in general to be rather curt and unimpressive.
S: Pro - Hand in hand with above.
Posted by TheSkeptic 7 years ago
TheSkeptic
Under 3 hours and I have made it! MAN I'M SLICK.
Posted by TheSkeptic 8 years ago
TheSkeptic
"...and take note that I DO NOT support this personally..."

Pertaining to my argument of why it's immoral. Heh that was bothering me.
Posted by Maikuru 8 years ago
Maikuru
Not exactly the most original or exciting topics but I have faith in the quality of the arguments. Favorite'd.
8 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Vote Placed by rimshot515 7 years ago
rimshot515
TheSkepticrougeagent21Tied
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Vote Placed by patsox834 7 years ago
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Vote Placed by Conor 7 years ago
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Vote Placed by TFranklin62 7 years ago
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Vote Placed by philosphical 7 years ago
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Vote Placed by TheSkeptic 7 years ago
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Vote Placed by Maikuru 7 years ago
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Vote Placed by rougeagent21 7 years ago
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