The Instigator
Pro (for)
7 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

Resolved: It is morally permissible to kill one innocent person to save the lives of more innocent p

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/22/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,604 times Debate No: 6014
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (1)




I affirm the resolution resolved: It is morally permissible to kill one innocent person to save the lives of more innocent people.

The value for this debate ought to be societal welfare, because society is the agent of the action this resolution encompasses, and because in order to determine the moral permissibility of such an action, we must analyze the cause-and-effect calculus of the action. If the effect of the action is that of society attaining societal welfare, and if the affirmative can show the moral grounds behind it, the affirmative wins the round.

The standard I will use in this round will be Amitai Etzioni's New Golden Rule.
Amitai Etzioni's "new golden rule" argues for the rebalancing of values. Specifically, Etzioni contends that freedom and morality must be balanced as well as autonomy and community. Etzioni's golden rule is "Respect and uphold society's moral order as you would have society respect and uphold your autonomy."

Contention 1: Respect for autonomy means we respect consent, but it must be consent freely given. Eric Rakowski, Taking and Saving Lives. Columbia Law Review, Vol. 93, No. 5, (Jun., 1993), pp. 1107-1108

Actual and Hypothetical Consent Volenti nonfit injuria ("No wrong is done to one who consents") is an established moral principle which the law sanctions. Respecting other people means allowing them to decide for themselves what harms to risk or suffer in return for what they prize. For those who share this ideal of voluntariness, rooted in both Kantian moral philosophy and the English utilitarian tradition of which Mill is representative, a person's consent to be killed for his own good or for the benefit of others will often render it morally permissible to kill him. Regard for his autonomy requires that we defer to his wishes.

Contention 2. Consent is enough to permit one to perform an action. This consideration should apply to risks people assume of being killed intentionally to save others. Eric Rakowski, Taking and Saving Lives. Columbia Law Review, Vol. 93, No. 5, (Jun., 1993), pp. 1108

A person's reasoned, informed, and uncoerced consent to an action generally suffices, as a moral if not as a legal matter, to permit one to perform the action so far as that person is concerned. When, moreover, consent is given explicitly not to die but to bear some risk of being killed that falls far short of certainty, and when the benefits seem reasonably to rival the costs, legal objections motivated by the fear that consent to suffer harm might not in some cases be completely voluntary typically fall away. We allow people to drive to work on busy highways, even though a certain number will be killed in crashes." In most if not all cases in which death might accompany some activity, we require only that participants be apprised of the risks they run and that they take minimal precautions that a large majority of persons would recognize as prudent.

Analogous considerations should apply to risks people freely assume of being killed intentionally. Situations in which killing some people might save others are rare, but in some instances one can imagine people assenting to their being killed in the unlikely event that those situations occurred. The situations most easily envisaged are those in which killing some would save many more others. "when consent cannot be given we use hypothetical consent this hypothetical consent is universal to all of society for each person so as contention 2 says, as far as each person is concerned each person is entire society it's just the general understanding of what society collectively would say which is many over 1"

Contention 3. Law is filled with examples of times when we assume consent when it can't be given. Eric Rakowski, Taking and Saving Lives. Columbia Law Review, Vol. 93, No. 5, (Jun., 1993), pp. 1110

The question is therefore whether it is permissible or morally required for one to act as if people had agreed to the application of a maximizing rule when in fact they have not considered one or have not expressed their collective assent. In certain circumstances, acting as somebody would have wished if he were informed, lucid, and undistracted seems plainly appropriate if his consent to what would generally constitute an invasion of his rights cannot be obtained. Providing medical assistance to an unconscious person is the stock example. Other examples include personal ones which are made everyday and thus provide a link to current status and quo. In a legal sense, contract law supplies another example of hypothetical consent: when contracts fail to specify how some unanticipated event should be handled, arbitrators or courts typically attempt to determine what arrangements the parties would have made had they foreseen the unexpected event and accord them rights against one another on that basis.

Contention 4. Autonomy has both instrumental and intrinsic value. Eric Rakowski, Taking and Saving Lives. Columbia Law Review, Vol. 93, No. 5, (Jun., 1993), pp. 1113-1114

A deeper question is why autonomy itself has value, so that a person's status as a reasonable judge of what is right or good for him deserves respect and his choices deserve deference to the extent that they do not unjustifiably harm other people. This is a controverted question, to which there are many answers. Certainly, autonomous decision making has instrumental value. It contributes to our well-being, not only because of the delight we take in our own agency, but also because we are usually the best judges of what will advance our interests. Autonomy, however, has intrinsic value as well. We would not trade our capacity for choosing and leaving our mark in return for life on a wondrous experience-machine, even if it produced a perfect counterfeit of our experience of free agency. More fundamentally, we not only value efficacious choice, we respect the capacity to choose in ourselves and others because ranking ends and selecting means is ultimately what defines us as persons. The evident importance of autonomy to our identity and well-being is the main reason paternalism is only tolerable in exceptional situations.

Contention 5 Hypothetical consent can be a standard of Moral Permissibility. Eric Rakowski, Taking and Saving Lives. Columbia Law Review, Vol. 93, No. 5, (Jun., 1993), pp. 1115

Hypothetical consent is simply the consent that somebody would actually have manifested in a normatively authoritative situation of relevant knowledge and rational choice that never in fact occurred. Thus, the standard I am endorsing merely attempts to explain and guide our intuitive reactions to particular cases by holding people to bargains they would have made, insofar as they would have wanted themselves held to those bargains. It is therefore consonant with, indeed an expression of, the personal autonomy that morality should protect and nurture. Deference to a person's considered higher-order desires, insofar as they can be ascertained, is deference to that person.

For these reasons I urge you to affirm the ballot.


Well I say that why try killing one person it's as if you don't care about the person. In situations like saying if you had to save your mom or your family who would you choose? So it depends on what situation you are in but in a simple situation you can't always save everyone like in this topic
Debate Round No. 1


Have you done LD debate before? LoL.

So you obviously don't know how to debate on morality. In order to really determine a moral decision you must look at completely random people, so asking me if I'd kill my mom or family does not apply. I am caring for this person because I am agreeing to his hypothetical consent and I preserve more life. My opponent has no case, therefore I win the round by default.


Do you underestimated my idea or if my opponent has no idea what he is getting in too. In this case I agree that saving millions of people in order to kill one to save them is tough but don't forget is it worth saving them and are you sure their worth saving?
Debate Round No. 2


My opponent does not know the rules to LD debate, therefore I cannot debate him. The resolution is strictly resolved: It is morally permissible to kill one innocent person to save the lives of more innocent people. THE QUESTION IS WHETHER IT IS MORALLY PERMISSIBLE. I say it is morally permissible because I am not violating the individual's rights because I am respecting his autonomy by agreeing to his consent. I am also saving millions of lives by sacrificing this person. If my opponent keeps stating questioning whether it is okay to kill a person, he is not covering neg ground. Let me set a burden on my opponent. IF MY OPPONENT CAN PROVE THAT UNDER HYPOTHETICAL CONSENT, A PERSON WILL ALWAYS SAY NO TO KILLING HIMSELF TO SAVE MORE LIVES, THEN MY OPPONENT WINS. I say that no rational person will say no. If a person is reasoned, informed, and uncoerced, there is no argument that can disprove this. Therefore, aff consumes neg and any point he makes on preserving autonomy or one person's life, because I am covering neg ground which is sufficient for aff to win.


rex-town forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by fo-shizzle0855 9 years ago
i agree, good case
Posted by brian_eggleston 9 years ago
Very impressive. I hope you get a worthy opponent, ideally someone of a similar age.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by sh0tym5 9 years ago
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