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Rslvd: It is Moraly Permisable 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: 10/14/2008 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,291 times Debate No: 5719
Debate Rounds (3)
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My Name is Hasan Mahdi and I am a new Debater. I realzie That this is an old topic but i would like to Try against someone..Oh and everyone in TX dont copy me...

"It is the greatest good to the greatest number of people which is the measure of right and wrong."

I agree to this quote by Jeremy Bentham which leads me to affirm the resolution: It is morally permissible to kill one innocent person to save the lives of more innocent people.

Now I will state my definitions in order to clarify the resolution.

Moral: pertaining to or relating to the conscience or moral sense or to the general principles of right conduct.

Permissible: allowed or permitted

Save: to rescue somebody or something

More: indicate a greater number of something

These definitions are from Black's Law 2nd Edition and Encarta Dictionary: English

Before starting I would first like to make the resolution a little bit simpler to comprehend by implying my previously stated definitions. Here is the same resolution, but just simplified to ensure understanding.

It is right and allowed to kill one innocent person in order to rescue a larger number of innocent people.

Another thing I would like to say is that the negative is choosing not to take any action. By not taking any action the negative is allowing more people to die which is immoral.

Now I will state my value. My value is the quality of life. Life should be and is upheld higher than any other value in a society. An ideal society will always try and preserve the most lives possible by any means necessary, and it is the action and intention of saving these people which deems the action moral. My criterion to uphold this value is utility. Utility means the greatest happiness or good for the greatest number of people. This is the philosophy used by Jeremy Bentham. In this case saving more people would give more happiness or good to the greater amount of people. In any given society one does more good when they are happy. It is to say that by allowing more people to be happy then more people are doing more good in a society. The more good being done in a society allow the society to prosper. And this generation of good people doing good things will set a follow able example to the others in it including the newer generation.

To further prove my point I propose the following contentions.

Contention one: Good events that occur, or positive consequences:
In an ideal society, human life is held above everything else. The quest to preserve human life is one that all men have fought for ever since the man has been alive.
A)More innocent people are saved. Saving innocent lives can not be deemed immoral even though the act done to save them can be argued immoral. Every action has a reaction. One must first see the outcome of the action before deeming the action immoral. A good example of this would be when the U.S. dropped atomic bombs over the military bases in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in order to end World War Two. Yes they did target military bases and killed soldiers whom can be considered not innocent but the bomb also killed an enormous amount of Japanese citizens. Unlike the U.S., Japan was not a democracy, so the citizens did not choose to attack the U.S. This means that the citizens were innocent. So yes the U.S. did kill many innocent people but doing so they saved what could have been the death of millions. Another example is during World War II when the British general was able to interpret codes from there enemy, the Germans. The Germans were using a method of coding messages called Enigma. After interpreting an intercepted message Britain realized that the Germans were planning to bomb a city in Britain. The general, Winston Churchill, had to choices. One he could tell the city to evacuate, but then the Germans would know that the Britain had decoded their secret messages and then the Germen would do more attacks killing millions of unexpecting people while only saving a small town. The other choice was to allow the Germans to bomb the city, and then Churchill would be able to interpret future, bigger, attacks and ambush the Germans and save millions of British. Of course in both of his choices innocent lives were going to die. Here Churchill had to choose between losing a small city or losing 100's of cities. Lose either 1000 people or loose a million people. Churchill realized that the only moral way to do this was to lose the 1 town rather than the 100's of towns. Churchill saw that there would be grievances in both options but he had to allow the larger group to live in order to allow the country to survive. We should be able to do the same. If a group of strangers was brought upon you along with a psycho killer who said either you kill one of these people or I kill all of them your only choice would be to kill one person. Other wise the whole population of these people will be destroyed rather than just 1 of them.
B) More rights are preserved. All people have the unalienable right to live. In both cases there will be deaths so rights will be violated. In the negative case more people are dying so more rights are being terminated, whereas in the affirmative case less people are dying thus preserving more rights. In the negative case the negative is decided not allow the larger group of people to survive thus pretty much killing them. Abraham Lincoln once said that "action and inaction are both conscious choices and are equally praiseworthy or blameworthy if their outcomes are the same." Inaction is the cause of the death of a larger group of people, thus inaction is immoral.

Contention 2: Deciding the morality of something depends highly on the situation.
To decide if something is moral or immoral one must first understand what is going on. If a person just killed an innocent person to rob them or hurt them then yes that would be immoral. But if some one killed an innocent person because by doing so he could save 15 or twenty innocent people, then it would be moral. The negative can argue that it is immoral to kill anyone at all but the negative should realize that it is letting MORE people die. This is the same as killing that larger amount of people. So doesn't that mean that the negative is committing many immoral acts that they themselves are calling immoral? Doesn't this make the negative hypocrites? A hypocrite is somebody who pretends to have admirable principles, beliefs, or feelings but behaves otherwise

Contention 3: Society must accept the risk of killing the innocent
Many things society does in the name of the general welfare result unavoidably in premature death to some innocent and blameless people. Indeed, it is hard to imagine a society being able to function otherwise. At times, whatever move is made puts lives at risk.
Many things that were used and intended to save people did kill some as a tradeoff. An example of these is the airbag. The airbag was created in an effort to protect and preserve human life during an impact. Of course the airbag wasn't perfect when it first came out. Inevitably it killed a few innocent people, but because these innocent people were killed, future, safer, models of the airbag could be built; thus killing innocent people to save innocent people. It is obvious that society has accepted the airbag, despite its losses, by making it a law to have one. Also the airbag has killed innocent people but it has saved more so they didn't deem it unusable, or when related to this case, immoral.
Another example of these types of things is shots or immunizations. These immunizations were created to prevent and heal illnesses but did affect a few negatively. Because these affected a few negatively these immunizations were fixed and made to save more people. This just comes to show that it is moral to kill one innocent person to save the lives of more innocent people.

I am now open for CX.


This is an old debate but I was still interested in what someone would say about it and I also am always interested in "society" debates.

We can take the stance that morality is a relative term, which you have obviously taken, or we could take the stance that morality is constant and always the same in all situations. I won't be stubborn and just say that morality is constant and that killing humans is always wrong. But then we have to deal with rights and human rights, these being unalienable.

You talked about Jeremy Bentham a lot and to begin with, I am not a socialist and opposed to all socialist ideologies and methodologies. What you are proposing is socialism and collectivism. Some call it utilitarianism.
This Machiavellian insight is what kept kings in power in monarchies and theocracies and kept socialist leaders killing people for the good of "society." There is no such thing as society as an entity. There are only individuals, with free will, making decisions all the time. Once we begin to look at society as a thing, we get this idea that we must protect it and help it foster growth. But then we assume that the people making these decisions know what the best thing to do for society is. Once 1 innocent person is killed, there is nothing to stop these planners from deciding that another innocent person needs to be killed in order to "protect" society.

I wholeheartedly agree that life is very important. And since I agree with this, no innocent person deserves to be killed. If people have free will, then there is no guarantee that they will make the same decisions twice or that they will continue to make bad decisions. I agree that there are ramifications that need to be made to people when they inflict harm on other people's personal property.

The free market allows people to make decisions that make themselves better off and no one worse off. Only when there is a true free market and private property rights are upheld. So if someone harms someone, then the responsibility of the offender is to merely pay back the victim. Innocent people have no debt to society, just as you and I don't.

People are most happy when they are free. If they are indebted to society and always trying to do what is in the benefit of the general welfare, they will fail. There is no one that has enough knowledge to make decisions for society. Individuals make trillions of decisions every second and to propose that someone knows what is best for the most people is absurd. It is impossible.

Your examples from the World Wars don't hold too much water. World War II was started because of socialism and you are proposing socialism as the solution.

If there is a guarantee that people will be killed if we do not kill the one innocent person, then why don't we kill the killers? That seems to make a lot more sense than killing innocent people. And if there is only a threat, then the person has not committed the crime yet. That means they have the free will to not carry out the crime.
Debate Round No. 1


First thank you for debating with me and i'm looking foward to it... Second i am a new debator and i guess i should have clarifed that i wanted to LD debate so now i am kinda free running this... Usually you would have used that rounf you just id to attack my case AND present your own. But its okay...Ill try and retaliate.
On to my rebuttal.

To begin you stated that there is know society in an entity. Only individuals with free will and rights. This is invalid because first, society is what gives these people their rights. If there was no society then their would be know rights. Everyone could do what ever they wanted to anyone else. No one would "own" anything. Land would be amuck and everyone could technically steal and hurt as they please mearly because nobody would be able to tell them that this is wrong. It is imposible to say that there is no society yet still free individuals. You cant be free if there is nothing to be free from. Withought society and rules and rights you would be easily contradicting yourself. More and more innocent people would die for no reason..

Secondly you stated why not kill the killer. Im not trying to use this against you because you might have not known but you have to look at the resolution exactly. there is no other option... either you are for or against killing the innocent to save more innocent...

Next, you are saying it is wrong to kill the innocent, but arnt you letting more innocent die, this is the same as killling their rights are being violated.

You cannot say that one innocent person is more valuable then any other. so lets put this into mathematical terms. Each person is the same value. Each person equals one. Say the group in question of being saved is 10 people. The innocent dying to save them is one peorson. 10 people equals 10 points one person equals one. So if you dont kill this one person you only end with 1 point. If yu kill this one person to save the lives of 10 people you end with 10 points. Hence 10 points is more valuable then 1. It is better to save 10 people then 1. It gives more back to the society thus being moral.

To defend myself against your WW attacks i can only say that it doesnt matter how or why the WW started. It is that it did and many people would die from it... All my example stated was that this action saved many more people from an attack.

You stated that you agree with life being important. You said that no innocnt diserves to die. If thats what even YOU said then how can you say it is fine for MORE innocent people to die. This is worng. You are contradicting yourself.

Once again thanks for debating with me i am looking foward to your reply.


bones forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


I guess i dont have much to say. My oppenent forfeited the round with out valid reasons that he should have presented. This is dropped and he cannot bring it back up. Next my opponent has not defended his case any more. This means he is agreeing with my attacks on him and his case thus, maybe even intentionally, agreeing with my entire point of view. This means that there is no other alternative then to vote for me. He has dropped all his charges against me. He has pretty much forfieted the entire debate.


Sorry about last round. Time got away from me. But to suggest that I agree with you because I forfeited a round doesn't make sense. It makes sense to say that I may disagree with you only to a certain point and not totally because I didn't prioritize my time for debating. But even that is still not correct. I went home for fall break and for some reason our internet was down. Alas, I am now back online and debating.

Sorry about the anecdote, but now on to societal discussions. You are totally off center in your stance that the individual's rights are derived from society as a whole. This means that as society changes, so do our rights, no matter how much we disagree with them. This is true democracy and the squelching of the few by the many. It works fine, until you or I become part of the few and our rights aren't important for the good of society. We are in no way indebted to society. We make our own way and we choose what way that is. Our rights are given to us when we become human. (Not to get into the abortion issues) These rights are derived through God some people believe. But you don't have to believe in God in order to believe in these rights. All people feel that they are entitled to them at some point in their lives, unless they have been so brainwashed by the government. These rights to life and property are innate. They are part of who we are as humans and nothing else in the world shares these rights. Society does not bestow them. We are not under other people's will or dominion. We are free to be and do what we want, as long as this does not impose on the rights of others. I cannot choose to kill an innocent person. It isn't a choice. That person has a right to live and we are taking that right away and saying that we know best and we are more divine than them. We are the deciders of who lives and dies. There is no justification in killing innocent life. The fault of other innocent people dying is not my fault, unless I am the killer. If you are going to blame me for killing those people because I didn't kill another innocent person, then we all have to be blamed. We all deserve the punishment because we didn't kill that innocent person. And no longer is the killer to blame for the killing, but the rest of society. There is no justice in this. And again, I am not saying that it is better for more innocent people to die. That is a terrible thing. I am merely saying that it is bad for any innocent person to die. There is no equation that can justify the killing of innocent people. We are not made for sacrifice. We are meant to produce and make ourselves better off. In this process we are trading with others for things that we need and in this process we are able to make others better off too. That is what a free society offers. Not this barbaric idea that we owe ourselves to society and this is the god that we have to worship.

Thanks for debating.
Debate Round No. 3
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by Harlan 8 years ago
Id take this, but it sounds like jojo has dibs, so Ill let him have it.
Posted by Sweatingjojo 8 years ago
Can I tenatively have this one?

I just need to check something first, I'll know by tomorrow morning if I can take this.
Posted by PoeJoe 8 years ago
Last month called; they want their topic back.
Posted by hussoohs2 8 years ago
O and i know the us is a republic well more a democratic republic but thats irrelevant.... This case has nothing to with democrocy and the US isnt even an example....I am talking about an ideal society...
Posted by hussoohs2 8 years ago
umm. no im not pro abortion but if youre so against me passionintley then please debate me.
Posted by phatso86 8 years ago
this is a terrible way of looking at it
that is why a true democracy (the US is a Republic) can never work...

look at what happened in Salem
oh, i assume you are pro abortion

good for you
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by hussoohs2 8 years ago
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Vote Placed by bones 8 years ago
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