The Instigator
CiRrO
Con (against)
Tied
7 Points
The Contender
Blessed-Cheese-Maker
Pro (for)
Tied
7 Points

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

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/13/2008 Category: Society
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 6,583 times Debate No: 5379
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (6)
Votes (3)

 

CiRrO

Con

Preface: This is the LD topic for September-October, plus the Yale Invitational. I've debated this topic 4 times before, however created a new neg. case. I want to test it. Therefore, if you want to debate this, have some knowledge of LD debate, like structure. Also, I don't wan tto debate someone I've already debated in this topic. I want someone fresh. So, good luck all.

I'll let Aff. speak first.
Blessed-Cheese-Maker

Pro

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

Throughout human history, mankind has struggled with the the importance of the individual verses the importance of the species. Early in human history, mankind believed in deities and royalty and caste systems that stressed the value of a few at the expense of many. However as we have evolved, mankind has begun to adopt a belief in individual freedom and inherent rights, that cause us to question the morality of killing any innocent person despite the outcome.

I argue that it is still morally permissible to kill an innocent to save the lives of many, simply because the survival of our species is now, and has always been the purpose of mankind on earth, and morality itself is constructed around achieving that goal. Human philosophy is always centered around the survival and happiness of humanity. Even religious philosophy is centered around those eventual goals. Arguments arise in the approach to achieving the goal, not the stated goal of happiness and survival of our species itself.

Given the universal human goal of survival of our species I submit, and the fact that morality is a supportive result of that goal, one MUST accept that it is morally permissible to kill one innocent person to save the lives of more innocent people.
Debate Round No. 1
CiRrO

Con

I'll present my own case then refute my opponents.

I negate: "It is morally permissible to kill one innocent person to save the lives of more innocent people."

[Definitions]
For clarity I pose the following definitions.
1.Morally permissible: conforming to a normative standard of right and wrong.
2.Innocent: free from the action or intention of moral or legal crimes.

[Topical Observations]

For analysis of the resolution I pose the following observations.
1.According to the resolution, it is asking if an action is moral. Morality is normative. Normative is defined as absolute, not relative or circumstantial. Therefore, the affirmative must prove that killing complies with morally normative standards.

2.The resolution implies morality versus necessity. Killing an innocent may be necessary to save more lives, however that does not make it moral. Killing must be proved moral rather then a necessity. The negative concedes the idea that it is necessary to save more people, but the negative does not concede the idea that killing an innocent is moral.

3.Morality is achieved on an individual basis not collectively. If morality is dictated by collective needs, then the human worth of each individual is pushed down to nothing. If society adopts a morality based on collective need, then all individuals are threatened by the majority.

[Value and Value Criterion]
The negative values Morality, since it is the clearest value indicted by the resolution. The value of morality is upheld by the criterion of Maintaining Justice. Justice is a necessary element of morality. Justice requires that society recognize the equal value of each individual life. Killing one innocent to save many, contradicts the societal duty of equality of human worth between all people. Furthermore, protecting individual rights that are guaranteed to each individual is a main component of upholding justice. Undermining the equal worth of each individual undermines justice.

[Contentions]
To prove my position I would like to offer 2 points of contention.

Contention I: Killing one innocent person to save the lives of more people undermines the equal worth of all individuals.

For something to be just and moral, the action must be fair and equal. A moral and just society must see each innocent individual as equal. They all have the same human worth. By affirming the resolution the ethical position has been created that one innocent can be killed for the sake of other individuals. This blatantly undermines society's duty to protect and maintain the equal human worth of all people. Jeff McMhan explains that "To kill a person, in contravention of that person's own will, is an egregious failure of respect for the person and his worth. It is to annihilate that which is irreplaceable, to show contempt for that which demands reverence, to assert a spurious authority over one who alone has proper authority over his own life, and to assume a superior position." It is never morally permissible to quantify the amount of human worth to degrade an equally worthy and innocent person. Meaning that morality cannot be achieved based on a sole number; it must be achieved by the human dignity of each individual. All lives are equal, and therefore they must be weighed equally.

A)Dehumanization. By killing one innocent to save more people, you have made a person a means to an end. This is dehumanization because the worth of one individual has been reduced to that of an inanimate tool. Humans are ends in themselves, and should not be seen as a means to an end. Immanuel Kant explains "Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, always at the same time as an end and never merely as a means to an end.

Contention II: John Locke's Social Contract

A)Inalienability. Inalienability can be defined as that which can not be forfeited. According to John Locke these rights are: Life, liberty, and property. These three rights cannot be forcefully given up, either by the government taking them away or by another member of society. John Locke explains "All mankind, being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions." Any member of society, no matter what the circumstances, does not have the morally permissible right to take these rights away. By killing an innocent you have violated their right to life. From this you have violated all rights, since all rights come from the right to life.

B)Protection of individual rights. As individuals we are guaranteed the protection of these 3 inalienable rights. A morally permissible action must defend these rights. The affirmative is condoning the action of right violation of an individual. In a just and moral society this is impermissible because it undermines the very core of a society. The rights we are guaranteed can not be infringed upon by any other member of society. It is the duty we have between each other as members of a society to not directly, and by our own hand violate the rights of another person. This is exactly what the affirmative is doing, and thus is violating morality.

Rebuttal:

"I argue that it is still morally permissible to kill an innocent to save the lives of many, simply because the survival of our species is now, and has always been the purpose of mankind on earth, and morality itself is constructed around achieving that goal. Human philosophy is always centered around the survival and happiness of humanity. Even religious philosophy is centered around those eventual goals. Arguments arise in the approach to achieving the goal, not the stated goal of happiness and survival of our species itself."

--> Ok, my opponent makes the argument of Self-Preservation. I have 3 responses to this:

1. Self-Preservation does not achieve morality on the fact that self-preservation may lead to bad actions, like the one stated in the resolution. If you look further into my opponents case he is affirming the actual destruction of the human race. Everyone looks to preserve themselves. Thus, this right of preservation comes into conflict. E.g. Person A wants to preserve himself. So does person B. Person A feels threatened by Person B, so Person A kills person B. Now, Person C feels threatened by Person A because of the killing of Person B. So, Person C kills person A.

2. The "protection" of humanity cannot be claimed as an argument for the action of degrading humanity. By affirming, you are stripping the human worth of each individual down to nothing. For morality to be achieved, each individual human worth must be protected, not just for the will and protection of the majority.

3. If morality was solely based on self-preservation, then morality would condone dehumanization. The majority would now have the right to oppress their will on the minority. This blatantly contradicts morality.

For these reasons I urge a negation.

*I'm assuming that my opponents value is morality and his value criterion is self-preservation.

Thank you ladies and gentlemen.
Blessed-Cheese-Maker

Pro

My opponent provides several compelling arguments however, there is a major flaw in the base on which his negation is built. That flaw lies in his definition of morality as normative, therefor absolute and then his transition to a statement claiming that morality is individually based, which negates his first claim of the absolute nature of morality.

Logically, morality cannot be both absolute and individually based. Morals and societal agreement of normative behavior are either individually or societally established or they are absolute. They cannot be all three.

I argue that morality is established individually, supported by societal acceptance and agreement but is not and has never been absolute. Society influences each humans acceptance and notion of what is moral or right and wrong, and those ideas change with human situation and debate and perspective of the things that are real and important in life. For examples to prove this we only need to look at examples of ancient man's notion of morality. Take for instance the practice of Mayan's, sacrificing innocents in the hopes of gaining a better harvest, or the actions of the Israelites documented in Numbers 31, slaughtering captive Midianite boys and mothers, in the hopes of ridding themselves of unclean practices. It is clear that today, we as humans believe those actions and behavior to be incredibly immoral and unacceptable, however humans living at the time accepted the practice as not only moral, but morally imperative.

This clearly indicates that morality, is not in fact absolute, but rather a human construct built to support survival of the species, (not survival of the individual, as craftily assumed by my formidable opponent?

Affirmative rebuttals

1. Killing one innocent person to save the lives of more people actually fortifies the equal worth of all individuals. My opponent contends that killing an innocent undermines society's duty to protect and maintain the equal human worth of all people. At face value, this appears valid, but denies the loss of value and greater human life that would result, if the individual was left alive. In order to contend that killing the individual is unequal and requires a position of superiority, one MUST ignore the fact that not killing the individual would result in the loss of far more individual human lives. Therefore, if equality of value is acknowledged in individual human life, we would have no other choice but to sacrifice one, for the many as the many hold more intrinsic value. If all human life is weighed equally, then it is clear that the loss of more human life, is more immoral and tragic than the loss of one human life.

We see examples that affirm human acceptance of the value multiple human lives over the individual, in the stories and myths we have constructed that give great weight to personal sacrifice for many. For instance the story of Jesus, sacrificing his own life for the lives of many, would not be considered a venerable act. Instead Jesus would be considered immoral for allowing his own innocent life to be taken. The same can be applied to countless stories of selflessness that surround many religions and that are used as a 'moral' ground to teach children about the value of human life.

A) Dehumanization. The sacrifice of a single human as a means to save multiple humans can be viewed in many ways. Instead of devaluing the required sacrifice of the individual, I choose to view that death, not as a means to an ends or that person as a tool, rather, I choose to view that person's death as an affirmation of life. That person, rather than being a tool, is truly a savior and protector of human life.

2. John Locke's Social Contract does affirm the rights of the individual, but only when those rights don't infringe on society. For instance. According to Loche's Contract, I have an inalienable right to life. That right however is forfeited when I commit crime or actively threaten the lives of others. While that would disqualify me as an innocent, it still highlights the fact, that when society is threatened, inalienable rights quickly become alienable. If the innocent life or existence of an individual threatens the lives of many, mankind, valuing individual human life, must be compelled to protect it to the best of his ability. In this scenario, that includes taking one innocent life.

B) Protection of individual's rights is of paramount importance to our society, but slightly less so than protection of the society itself. For instance, an example of the plague can be utilized here. If an innocent individual contracted a new strain of plague, that was airborne and highly contagious, we as a protective society, would be forced to alienate that individual's human rights and perhaps even kill that innocent in order to protect our species and society. My opponents defense of the rights of the individual at all cost, would lead to the death of millions, and if completely adhered to by all, would lead to the eventual extinction of the human race due to disease.

Morality dictates that isolating and extinguishing the plague ridden human, irregardless of his rights, would be morally permissible simple because of the resulting affirmation and protection of all other individuals.

3. Self Preservation
Finally my opponent skillfully attempts to portray my opening statement as a position of self preservation. This is not at all included as a position statement made in round one. In fact, my position is one of preservation of the species, and a quick read of the affirmative opening statement will quickly show the reader, that it is quite impossible to draw an inference of valued self preservation from said statement.

In reality my opponent is arguing against his own position of self preservation, through his position of placing the rights of the individual above the lives of the species and society. I agree completely with his assessment of focussed self preservation as harmful to the human race, which is why we as humans must focus on our species as a whole verses each individual. We must strive to protect individual rights while assessing what is good for our species and society and at times make tough decisions that can infringe on an individuals life, in order to support the rest of humanity.

Morality is not solely based on self-preservation, or solely based on the individual, it is in fact agreed on by society and supports the preservation of the species. This doesn't condone dehumanization, but in fact affirms the value of human life and the value of the individual through protecting us as a species first and foremost.
Debate Round No. 2
CiRrO

Con

"My opponent provides several compelling arguments however, there is a major flaw in the base on which his negation is built. That flaw lies in his definition of morality as normative, therefor absolute and then his transition to a statement claiming that morality is individually based, which negates his first claim of the absolute nature of morality.

Logically, morality cannot be both absolute and individually based. Morals and societal agreement of normative behavior are either individually or societally established or they are absolute. They cannot be all three."

--> I apologize for my unclear observation. I wasn't posing that morality is based on individual preference, because that would make it subjective. Thus, going against my definition, as my opponent has brought up. The meaning behind my observation was that something cannot be claimed morally permissible based on calculation and sole number. A morally permissible action must be on an individual basis, i.e. killing is wrong because it violates the individuals human dignity. I'm sorry for the confusion in my words.

"I argue that morality is established individually, supported by societal acceptance and agreement but is not and has never been absolute. Society influences each humans acceptance and notion of what is moral or right and wrong, and those ideas change with human situation and debate and perspective of the things that are real and important in life. For examples to prove this we only need to look at examples of ancient man's notion of morality....."

--> My opponent makes a flawed argument. Something can be absolute in a certain time period. I am arguing that killing (at this moment) is absolutely immoral. Therefore, it is immoral to kill to save more people.

"1. Killing one innocent person to save the lives of more people actually fortifies the equal worth of all individuals. My opponent contends that killing an innocent undermines society's duty to protect and maintain the equal human worth of all people. At face value, this appears valid, but denies the loss of value and greater human life that would result, if the individual was left alive. In order to contend that killing the individual is unequal and requires a position of superiority, one MUST ignore the fact that not killing the individual would result in the loss of far more individual human lives. Therefore, if equality of value is acknowledged in individual human life, we would have no other choice but to sacrifice one, for the many as the many hold more intrinsic value. If all human life is weighed equally, then it is clear that the loss of more human life, is more immoral and tragic than the loss of one human life."

--> Extend my observation 2. I already conceded that in the end it is NECESSARY to kill the one innocent to save the greater number. However, the action still is immoral because it violates the human worth of that one individual. The negative does not have to prove that letting the alrger number die is moral compared to kill one. I just have to prove that killing one is still immoral. You can drop my opponents attack based on:

1. My observation #2
2. Moral calculation fallacy. I.e. that a sole number determines a moral action. Killing one still violates their human worth and uses them as a tool. This violates morality.

"A) Dehumanization. The sacrifice of a single human as a means to save multiple humans can be viewed in many ways. Instead of devaluing the required sacrifice of the individual, I choose to view that death, not as a means to an ends or that person as a tool, rather, I choose to view that person's death as an affirmation of life. That person, rather than being a tool, is truly a savior and protector of human life."

--> The fact still remains that you have forcefully killed another human for an end purpose. Therefore, you have devalued them to a rank of inanimate object.

"2. John Locke's Social Contract does affirm the rights of the individual, but only when those rights don't infringe on society. For instance. According to Loche's Contract, I have an inalienable right to life. That right however is forfeited when I commit crime or actively threaten the lives of others. While that would disqualify me as an innocent, it still highlights the fact, that when society is threatened, inalienable rights quickly become alienable. If the innocent life or existence of an individual threatens the lives of many, mankind, valuing individual human life, must be compelled to protect it to the best of his ability. In this scenario, that includes taking one innocent life."

--> My opponent claims a part of the Harm principle. However, my opponent fails to mention that Locke applied this only to external rights. I.e. rights given by government. The harm principle excludes the violation of the inalienable rights. Why? Because they cannot be forfeited no matter what crime is committed. The right to life cannot be taken way by any member of society.
--> (Turn) Turn my opponents rebuttal against him. Murder is illegal and immoral. If you use what my opponent said then it would be necessary for the government to take away the right to life of the person who killed the innocent. Furthermore, helping a criminal would also make the people who were saved, criminals. Thus they lose rights to.

"B) Protection of individual's rights is of paramount importance to our society, but slightly less so than protection of the society itself. For instance, an example of the plague can be utilized here. If an innocent individual contracted a new strain of plague, that was airborne and highly contagious, we as a protective society, would be forced to alienate that individual's human rights and perhaps even kill that innocent in order to protect our species and society. My opponents defense of the rights of the individual at all cost, would lead to the death of millions, and if completely adhered to by all, would lead to the eventual extinction of the human race due to disease."

--> Observation #2: Saving more is necessary but immoral because you have violated an individuals right.

"Morality dictates that isolating and extinguishing the plague ridden human, irregardless of his rights, would be morally permissible simple because of the resulting affirmation and protection of all other individuals."

--> (Consequentialist Fallacy) It is impossible to know the consequences of an act, and if it will truly protect society as a whole. E.g. What if the innocent being killed would have discovered a cure for cancer, but you kill him anyway. You have stripped the cure and thus potential millions of lives would be lost. Thus, you have not protected society as a whole. Morality based on outcomes is flawed because all the outcomes can never be known, thus an action may come back to bite you in the future.

3. Self Preservation

--> I apologize, but my opponenet did not create a clear value and value criterion for the round, which in LD would mean an automatic loss. I was trying to be nice by inferring that he had one.

--> (Overview attack) May it be self-preservation or survival of a species, my attacks still remain, because of the slippery slope effect. Furthermore, extend my consequentialist fallacy argument against his argument. It can never be known what will protect the human race. It may be that killing one has doomed the race forever.

[Voting Issues]

1. I win Value structure debate, since he doesn't provide one.
2. His case falls based on the notion of slippery slope, and the consequentialist fallacy
3. My case stands because his attacks are all based on the moral calculation fallacy.

For these reasons I urge a negation.

Thank you ladies and gentlemen.
Blessed-Cheese-Maker

Pro

Blessed-Cheese-Maker forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by CiRrO 8 years ago
CiRrO
lol, thx. ^^ You had a good case too. (It did lack a value structure though) Good debate, once again.
Posted by Blessed-Cheese-Maker 8 years ago
Blessed-Cheese-Maker
Great second round CiRrO, I loved your utility of Kant and especially Locke's Social Contract, bravo.
Posted by Blessed-Cheese-Maker 8 years ago
Blessed-Cheese-Maker
Not sure how we can accomplish LD debate format in 3 rounds???
Posted by Blessed-Cheese-Maker 8 years ago
Blessed-Cheese-Maker
reading it on Wikipedia as we speak, I will try to conform to its format, and hope for your patience as I learn.....
Posted by CiRrO 8 years ago
CiRrO
lol, thx. And you know LD?
Posted by Blessed-Cheese-Maker 8 years ago
Blessed-Cheese-Maker
More than happy to give you some practice CiRrO. Would love to hear you did well in the upcoming tournament.
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Vote Placed by Arcraetor 8 years ago
Arcraetor
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cmrnprk07
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Vote Placed by Logical-Master 8 years ago
Logical-Master
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