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

Targeted Kiling is a morally permissible foreign policy tool

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/3/2012 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,802 times Debate No: 24038
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (42)
Votes (1)




Round 1 is acceptance only.

Round 2 is cases. Since the word limit is the same, this will be a little different than normal LD structure. No rebuttals in round 2.

round 3 is rebuttals.

round 4 is further rebuttals/defense.

round 5 is summary/voter issues.

cross examination is permitted in the comments section to ease the process.

source links are not required, but naming the citation and providing further information if asked is required.

good luck to my opponent and thank you for accepting this debate!

If you have any further questions, please ask now via round 1, comments, or a message.


Challenge accepted. Time to shake off the LD rust and get back in the swing of things. I will be negating the resolution, that targeted killing is NOT a morally permissible foreign policy tool. My opponent will be affirming the resolution, that targeted killing is, indeed, a morally permissible foreign policy tool.

With that said, I look forward to reading my opponent's case.
Debate Round No. 1


I affirm.

Thomas Hunter defines targeted killings as as the premeditated, preemptive, and intentional killing of an individual or individuals known or believed to be a threat to the safety and security of a state through affiliation with terrorist groups the unique nature of terrorism provides states with the specific rationale for the implementation of a policy of targeted killing".

Richard Rosen explains moral permissibility in the context of conflict,
"Known as the principle of proportionality, this analysis is related to St. Thomas Aquinas' "Doctrine of
Double Effect": it is morally permissible to perform an act having two effects, one good and one evil, provided that the good, which is intended, outweighs the evil, which is merely foreseen.

Jovan Babic explains the nature of moral permissibility:
"Tolerance is the line between that which is permissible and that which is impermissible. In practice, what is morally permissible is what is in a way morally indifferent, what is morally impermissible can absolutely not be tolerated and its tolerance would mean abandoning the basic principle of moral evaluation"

I have two key observations. First, the potential for misuse doesn't change moral permissibility
Article 36, Protocol 1 of the Geneva Convention illustrates this point: "A State is not required to foresee or analyze all possible misuses of a weapon, for almost any weapon can be misused in ways that would be prohibited".

Second, the affirmative doesn't need to show targeted killing should always be used, just that it is like a tool in the toolbox that is morally permissible as explained above. This is because something can be permissible, without necessarily being necessary or the BEST option. (I am not saying it isn't the best option, but rather that it doesn't have to be for me to win)

Because the resolution asks us to evaluate a state's actions, the value is governmental legitimacy. A government is only legitimate when it promotes safety while still taking its citizen's best interests into account. Thus, the criterion is National Security. In the context of the resolution, using targeted killings allows for the maximization of national security. Stephen Wijze, Professor of Political Theory at the University of Manchester ) asserts, "A government's prime duty is to protect its citizens from harm, and if targeted killing is the only way to eliminate an imminent and serious danger, the extrajudicial killing is not just morally justified but a moral obligation." Without the strategic usage of targeted killings, the government undermines its ability to protect its citizens, thus determining itself as an illegitimate government.

Contention 1: Targeted Killings are the preferred counterterror option.
First understand the right of nations to self-defense is recognized internationally. Article 51 of the UN Charter States, "Nothing shall impair the inherent right of collective self-defense if an attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. " Now consider our options. We have the choice between economic sanctions that are ultimately ineffective and result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocents, ineffective and unsupported negotiations with terrorists, and conventional war that costs taxpayers trillions. Instead of these, John Yoo, Professor of Law at Berkeley, makes the case for targeted killings, "In the new type of war thrust upon the United States by the 9/11 attacks, the enemy resembles a network, not a nation. The better strategy is to attack the individuals in that network; there are no armed forces to target, and destroying training camps alone will amount to no more than "pounding sand."

Steven R. David, Professor of International Relations at John Hopkins University, explains the moral legitimacy of the tactic:
"Targeted killing rests on an unassailable moral foundation. Just War tradition from the time of Saint Augustine to the present has emphasized the need for armed conflict to be discriminate and proportionate in the pursuit of legitimate ends for the use of force to be moral. There is no question that the policy of targeted killing meets these criteria. Targeted killing is discriminatory in that it focuses exclusively on one's adversaries. Civilian casualties and collateral damage are minimized. It is proportionate in that only enough force is used to accomplish the task. Targeted killing does not employ large numbers of troops, bombers, artillery and other means that can leave in their wake far more destruction than they prevent. And targeted killing serves a legitimate end by striking at those who threaten the lives of innocents. Since the policy is applied against those on their way to terrorist attacks or those who make such attacks possible, targeted killing enables Israel to protect its civilians by eliminating those who would murder them. Far from being morally questionable, it would be difficult to come up with an approach in warfare that rests on stronger moral ground."

The impact of this is that targeted killings constitute self-defense, and are even preferable to other options. Thus, national security can be achieved through targeted killings.

Contention 2: Targeted Killings reduce the effectiveness of terrorist groups.
SPA: Internal Conflicts

Matthew Morehouse of the University of Nebraska, concludes the following after immense research, "Firstly, the threat of targeted killings has caused the terrorist groups in Pakistan to disperse their members across several provinces. Secondly, the threat of targeted killings has caused terrorist leaders to take refuge in the larger cities at greater risk of arrest from Pakistani authorities. Thirdly, targeted killings have lead to the creation of power
vacuums, which in turn have lead to intra-terrorist conflicts over leadership. Fourthly,
targeted killings have caused members of terrorist groups to become paranoid, thinking
that even their most trusted comrades may be informants."
These four reasons: lack of unity, forced into cities, power vacuums, and paranoia make it infinitely more difficult for terrorists to communicate, making them much less effective.

SPB: Elimination of skilled terrorists
Daniel Byman explains the trend, "Contrary to popular myth, the number of skilled terrorists is quite limited. Bomb makers, terrorism trainers, forgers, recruiters, and terrorist leaders are
scarce; they need many months, if not years, to gain enough expertise to be effective. When these individuals are arrested or killed, their organizations are disrupted. The groups may still be able to attract recruits, but lacking expertise, these new recruits will not pose the same kind of threat."

In a study of 300 targeted killings by Jenna Jordan, she found that, "when only the leader was removed, the organization fell apart 33.33% of the time, and when members of the upper echelon were removed 54% of the organizations fell apart.".

A Georgetown University Report studied the effects of Israel's Targeted Killing during the second infantada and found that, "The lethality rate of Hamas attacks declined by over 98% from its highest point in 2002 to its lowest point in 2005. And while the number of attacks grew, the total number of Israeli civilian deaths plummeted, suggesting that the attacks themselves became far less effective. Indeed, after 2002 retired career IDF officer David Eshel observed an uptick in failed suicide bombings that "showed signs of poor planning and less-than-adequate preparation"

All of this means that targeted killing can help ensure victory by ensuring the enemy is
leaderless, less capable, and perhaps less willing, to carry out new attacks.

sources: (Prof., Law, Texas Tech U. School of Law), VANDERBILT JOURNAL OF TRANSNATIONAL LAW, May 2009, 744-745.
Jovan Babic, Professor of Ethics in Peace Review, March 2000


>> Overview: <<

The entire thesis that the affirmative case relies on is having some objective moral theory or principle that justifies using targeted killing. Without this, there is no way we can call something morally permissible, thus negating the resolution. The problem with this is that morality is never objective because morality is constantly changing. While we used to call enslaving the African American population moral, we would hardly call that moral today. Thus, what we call moral or morally permissible one day is either a) viewed as immoral by others and thus not objective or b) changes over time and thus is not objective. If I prove that morality is subjective, then the ballot is an easy vote for the negative because if morality is subjective, we cannot call something morally permissible. Joyce
[1] writes:

“If moral [skepticism] is true, then nothing is moral obligatory, nothing is morally prohibited, and nothing is morally permissible either. one who claims that moral [skepticism] implies that everything is permissible must intend to denote some kind of permissibility other than moralcall it X-permissibility. But then an argument will be needed to show that the failure of moral discourse implies that everything is X-permissible, and [there is no] such argument.”

Thus, taking a skeptical position on the resolution is enough to negate under the resolution.

Before I go further, I would like to be crystal clear on what I am saying. I am not saying that we do not have enough information to make a decision as to what is moral. What I am saying is that because there is no commonly held moral theory, i.e. there is no objective moral theory, and that what we consider to be moral changes over time, it makes morality subjective and thus negating the resolution.

>> Case: <<

To negate is to deny the truth of, so the sufficient affirmative burden is to prove that it is morally permissible to use targeted killing. While there are different ways to reach that conclusion, such as by using impact turns or defense, the end result is an affirmation of the resolutional statement. If the aff can’t prove that using targeted killing is morally permissible, you negate. My thesis is that it is never morally permissible to use targeted killing. If I show it’s never morally permissible then you negate the resolution before you even look to the value criterion debate. As such the negative case comes before the rest of the AC because it functions as a gateway to affirming.

Morality is subjective and everyone has their own specific morality that they adhere to. With so many different forms of morality, it is impossible to come to an agreement on which version of morality is the best to use in the given situation. Furthermore, morality can change over time, therefore making the choice of which morality is best even more impossible to come to. Koons[2] writes

“if moral truth were determined by the generation of some affective response, then this would lead to objectionable sorts of moral relativism. our psychology is not shared by all rational creatures, or even by all humans. Imagine, the possible worlds in which we experience moral emotions or desires under different conditions than in the actual world. Are there possible worlds in which, say, kicking dogs is morally required? Or imagine an alien race whose psychology differed from our own. This race might have an affective nature very different from ours. wouldn’t their morality by true-for-them, and ours true-for-us? Or perhaps we would decide that since this alien race’s morality were so different from ours, that they weren’t practicing morality in the first place, but instead schmorality. Not all people have the same psychological responses; is morality different for these different people? does this mean that moral truth is itself relative and changeable?”

Therefore, if morality is relative and changeable, it is impossible to come to a morality that works so that we can even call something morally permissible. This makes the resolution false because without morality, we cannot call something morally permissible. Furthermore, even the definitions of good and bad are subjective and subject to change. One person might see something as good, while another person might see that same thing as horribly bad. Without these two basic definitions, it is impossible to be able to form any type of morality. Nietzsche[3] writes

“my curiosity and my suspicion felt themselves at the question, of what in point of actual fact was the origin of our “Good” and of our “Evil.” at the boyish age of thirteen I gave quite properly the honour to God, and made him the father of Evil. Under what conditions did Man invent for himself those judgments of values, “Good” and “Evil”? And what intrinsic value do they possess in themselves? Have they up to the present hindered or advanced human well-being? Are they a symptom of the distress, impoverishment, and degeneration of Human Life? Or, conversely, is it in them that is manifested the fullness, the strength, and the will of Life, its courage, its self-confidence, its future? “

Thus, the definitions of good and bad are themselves indefinite and changeable based upon an individual’s perspective. This links into the debate because without these two definitions, forming a concept of morality becomes impossible. Moreover, even if we know what morality is there is no way we could know if those moral principles are something we would accept. Nietzsche 2 writes

“the real homestead of the concept “good” did not originate among those to whom goodness was shown. Much rather has it been the good themselves, that is, the aristocratic, the powerful, the high-stationed, the high-minded, who have felt that they themselves were good, and that their actions were good, that is to say of the first order, in contradistinction of all the low, the low-minded, the vulgar, and the plebeian. a higher dominant race coming into association with a meaner race, an “under race,” is the origin of good and bad.”

Thus, even if the definitions of good and bad are finite and definite, they themselves are not true and cannot work in any moral theory. Because we lack a working form of morality, thus making the resolution false, I negate.
Debate Round No. 2


First of all, please award me the conduct points because I said in the rules cases only in the first round. I specifically said no rebuttals in round one.

My opponent is dancing around the point, and misunderstanding my value framework. A government has to uphold national security. A government has to act legitimately. This doesn't make morality "constantly change." When a government is upholding national security/safety of its people, it is acting legitimate. It is acting morally. And on his African American point, nowhere do I say that what is and isn't accepted by a govt can't changed. That is a prime example of where it has changed. But that didn't promote national security. This does.
More on value framework, this is an LD debate. Refer to the comments section: my opponent is aware of this. He never provides a value or criterion. We don't a: know what his value is (what to vote on and why his arguments matter) or b: how his value is achieved. I provide both of these in a way appropriate for evaluating a government's actions. Are they legitimate or not by promoting national security as the highest value?

Basically what he is trying to use here can be summed up in a few words:
"morality does not exist" or "morality cannot be evaluated" or "a concept of morality is impossible" (note how he says "without morality, we cannot call something morally permissible", so yes, he is saying that morality doesn't exist)
Voters, I plead of you. Morality is a fundamental part of our culture. According to what my opponent is saying, if a mother were to beat her baby because it wouldn't stop crying, he would not call it immoral. Moreover, if a student found the answers to a test sitting on the ground and turned them in without looking at them, my opponent would not call that moral. Clearly, this doesn't make sense. It is important to recognize what are and what are not moral actions in our society, or we lose part of what makes us humans. Emotional holding humans!
I provided definitions of morality. Extend those. Or use your common sense. Judging morality is pretty inherent to 99.9% of humans (with the exception of maybe serial killers)

This is very important:
Note how the resolution says morally permissible. It does not simply say moral. We've already talked about what morally or morality means. But what does permissible mean? Well, permissible means able to be permitted or able to be allowed. Even if we buy his argument (which we really shouldn't) that morality is subject to change, the pro side still wins! This is because under most interpretations/viewpoints if not all (probably all), the criterion I have provided for what constitutes a morally acceptable action for a government is fulfilled here. Because in the long run targeted killing is in the interest of national security/safety of the acting govt.'s people.

An analogy for what permissible means, and what we really have to ask ourselves:
We would say it is morally permissible for me to drink a glass of water. But we wouldn't say I was acting morally. My burden (although it would be great to do so, and I don't disagree with this) isn't to prove that it is moral. Rather, however morally permissible, allowed by moral standards as a tool in the toolbox.

Moving on,
my opponent was questioning in the comments sections (where cross ex is allowed), and he brought up an excellent question. (great job!)
He asked basically "What if the attacks increase" (while lethality decreases.) We have to understand something here. Understand that backlash is something we shouldn't be surprised at. Of course, if you kill a strong leader, backlash is something that will either a. happen because of intensified emotions or b. be harder due to weakening in the organization. Either way a few things are true. 1. targeted killings, by their very nature, claim far fewer civilian lives than the alternatives of ground operations or massive bombing campaigns. It is still the preferred method and better than the weak or more dangerous alternatives! 2. Overall Lethality decreasing outweighs (potential, not even proven) short term increased attacks. 3. This is key to the fighting terrorism. I would like to quote American Magazine, addressing the very argument my opponent was making about increased backlash temporarily: "[my opponent is] attacking a straw man: the notion that wiping out senior terrorist leadership will end the attacks once and for all, without provoking retaliation. Not even the most vigorous supporters of the targeted killing policy espouse such a radical position; nobody expects the enemy to roll over. But degrading its leadership by thinning out its uppermost ranks unquestionably disrupts its strategy, sometimes decisively so." read more:

Since I still have many characters left, I will now move on to refute his logic behind morality not existing.
First of all, just because what society does changes over time, doesn't mean morality does as well. Using his own example, slavery was never moral. If people called it moral, they were wrong. And there were people who were right, and knew that it wasn't moral. For example, my neighbor can be a serial killer and say that he/she is moral or morally permissible. He can even get a gang of buddies to join him. That doesn't make him right. Just like feeding people to lions or sending people to the guillotine for nearly no reason was never morally permissible, despite the fact that it happened. Targeted killing, as previously explained however, is morally permissible for a government to do.

Second, he questions the objectivity of morality. What we have to understand here is that morality (whether or not we as humans have a full accurate understanding of it, especially in the past) is guided by a few universal principles. This is why when I say that cheating on your spouse or something like that is immoral, no one will seriously question me. If you would like more on this, I would cite Marc Hauser of Harvard University: Morality is even a tool that is biologically inherited to consolidate a society. From a multidisciplinary perspective, which includes neurobiology, psychology, anthropology and linguistics, Hauser defends the existence of a set of universal moral principles that govern our decisions and judgements when it comes to distinguishing between good and bad. A children's game with a set of simple rules, developed by Quim de Marimon, Psychologist and Director of Praxistudy, demonstrates the fundamental moral principles that Hauser studies. Read and watch the video here:
If there was no morality, our planet would be run amuck. Humans clearly contain some sort of moral judgement capabilities, otherwise nothing would prevent us from constantly committing immoral actions that work in our favor. An example would be looking all over test answers before turning it in. The person presented with that will either a. not do it, because that know it's immoral. or b. do it, and still know realize it was immoral. Either way, the moral understanding is still there. We are also given free will to pick our own path of following it. (Some people would call this good versus evil and what determines your fate in front of God.)

**Voters, If you read nothing else, here are my main responses to his case**
1. Understand that just because what we may label moral and immoral over time may change, does not mean that morality is actually changing. Slavery was never moral, regardless of human perception. Same thing with the guillotine frenzy and feeding people to lions, etc. We need to evaluate morality to try to arrive at some kind of truth.
2. Morality is guided by universal principles.
3. He never talks about why Targeted killing is immoral, but rather how it isn't moral. Basically, amoral. remember this.

Thank you, my opponent and voters


Joy, another person misunderstanding a) my case and b) LD in general. I guess that's what I get for running philosophy.

Before I go to her rebuttals, I'd like for you to look at the Joyce evidence that my opponent entirely conceded in her last round and extend it cleanly across the flow. This means that as long as I'm winning on skepticism, then nothing can be morally permissible. If nothing can be morally permissible, then targeted killing can, thusly, not be morally permissible, and you negate the resolution before you even look to the affirmative side of the flow.

"I specifically said no rebuttals in round one."

I never put a rebuttal in round one, or round two for that matter. I'd love for you to point out where I did.

"A government has to act legitimately. This doesn't make morality "constantly change." "

I never said that beacuse of governmental legitimacy that morality is constantly changing (it is, but not because of that). Nice straw-man.

"this is an LD debate."

Really? I never knew that!
/end sarcasm

"He never provides a value or criterion."

That's because my case functions outside of a value/criterion by using a burden system. I gave you one clear burden to prove, and if you can prove that, you win. My arguments are centered around preventing your from proving that burden.

Also, I'm really dissapointed in the idea that has become prevalent amoungst LDers on this site that LD cases MUST ALWAYS HAVE some sort of value and criterion, which just isn't true. Otherwise, cases like disads and kritiks and theory would not be able to function at all, and those are some of the most commonly run cases on the local, state, and international circuit. Cases can function without a value/criterion. As long as they have some sort of weighing mechanism (such as the burden system my case clearly has), then it is okay.

"he is saying that morality doesn't exist"

False, I'm saying that OBJECTIVE MORALITY doesn't exist. Completely different. Can you read my case next time?

"a mother were to beat her baby because it wouldn't stop crying, he would not call it immoral"

Why would my concept of morality change her views on a situation? Even if I think that beating her child is wrong, she may view it as okay, and thus morally acceptable, regardless of how I view things. You can turn this example as further evidence of subjective morality in the real world, thus only further proving skepticism.

" It is important to recognize what are and what are not moral actions in our society, or we lose part of what makes us humans. Emotional holding humans!"

And this is clearly a fallacious appeal to emotions without the slightest bit of warrant.

"I provided definitions of morality."

No you didn't. You provided evidence to moral permissibility, not morality. Even if you did, the findings of academic philosophers would outweigh dictionary definitions, as they are more closely in line with the truth than a dictionary.

"Or use your common sense."

Or, y'know, actually back up assertions with warrants. It's a thought.

"Note how the resolution says morally permissible."

Duly noted. Thank you for further pointing out where my case applies to the resolution.

"Even if we buy his argument (which we really shouldn't) that morality is subject to change, the pro side still wins!"

False. If skepticism is true, then we look to the Joyce evidence which says that nothing can be morally permissible. Thus, the resolution would be negated, not affirmed. I'm getting the sneaking suspicion you didn't read any bit of my case except for where I said that morality was subjective, and then you just got mad or something.

"slavery was never moral."

Slavery was considered moral by the South and some middle colonies and states. Why do you think we had the Civil War? Slavery. Derp. Since now the US doesn't consider slavery moral anymore, there was clearly some sort of change that had to go from "Slavery being morally permissible" to "Slavery being morally impermissible". If morality were objective, we wouldn't have had any sort of change. It would've been "slavery is morally impermissible" or "morally permissible" and stayed that way.

"If people called it moral, they were wrong."

As per your opinion. But since people called it moral and thought people like you were idiots, then there clearly has to be some sort of subjectivity to morality, no? Thank you for helping me prove skepticism.

"What we have to understand here is that morality... is guided by a few universal principles."

And those principles would be....?
And in before she just says "Read the article!". Make your own argument, not copy/paste websites and act like you made the most bulletproof argument on the planet.

"Humans clearly contain some sort of moral judgement capabilities,"

Sure, but we all have DIFFERENT moral judgement capabilities. Thus, morality would be subjective.

"Slavery was never moral, regardless of human perception."

Ah, but you see, perception is how morality comes into existence in the first place. How we perceive somethign is how it gains definition and value. Why is helping an old lady across the street considered morally good by most people? Because they perceive it as such, not because "well it just is!". Same thing goes with things like murder and rape; it's considered morally bad by most people because they perceive it as such, not because "well it's just wrong!".

"2. Morality is guided by universal principles."

Not only were these 'principles' never named, but there's no warrant for why those principles guide morality. She just said that they do, with nothing to back it up.

"3. He never talks about why Targeted killing is immoral, but rather how it isn't moral."

Yep, you clearly didn't read my case. My case specifically talks about how if morality is subjective, then NOTHING CAN BE MORALLY PERMISSIBLE. This comes straight out of the Joyce evidence in the overview above my case. I haven't said a word about targeted killing, but rather about moral permissibilty.

With her rebuttals gone through, I just want to point out a few quick things:

1. She conceded the Joyce evidence.
2. She conceded, well, the rest of my case after the Joyce evidence. She didn't respond to the Koons evidence, or any of the Nietzsche evidence.
3. Her case lacks a sort of moral framework that proves MORAL permissibility. All her case does is proves that targeted killing is a) LEGALLY permissible (not morally permissible), and b) effective (which doesn't prove moral permissibility either. I could say that under her logic, throwing all the people I hate into gas showers and poisoning them to death Nazi Germany style is effective, and thus morally permissible). Since she HAS TO PROVE that targeted killing is MORALLY permissible, not LEGALLY permissible, to win the debate, you cannot vote off of her case until she proves that.

The round is structured in a few different layers.

1st layer - Koons. If she cannot disprove Koons, then morality is subjective, thus proving that nothing can be morally permissible, as per the Joyce evidence.
2nd layer - Nietzsche 1. Even if she disproves Koons, if I'm winning off of Nietzsche 1, then you negate as per Joyce.
3rd layer - Nietzsche 2. Even if she disproves Koons and Nietzsche 1, if I'm winning Nietzsche 2, then you negate as per Joyce.
4th layer - The affirmative case. She must prove that a) morality is objective and that b) her case provides some method for proving moral permissibility, not legal permissibility, to gain offense off of her case, as well as having refuted the entirety of my case, since it comes before the affirmative case.

Since she's not winning on any layer of the debate, I urge a con vote.

Debate Round No. 3


okay, let me lay this out clearly so everyone can understand.

A government acts morally when it protects the safety of its citizens. This is how we reach governmental legitimacy as I said at the very beginning. This was never contested. Extend it.
He didn't contest its effectiveness in promoting safety, thus we can agree that it does uphold safety.
Therefore, the govt is morally permitted to use targeted killing.

real quick clarifying the rebuttals violation:
I meant round two, sorry if I mistyped. He can't talk about my case (rebutting it) in round two, it said in the rules. Please vote me conduct. Also vote me conduct because he said "people like you were idiots." I would appreciate equal courtesy.

On his objective morality thing:
First of all, I read your case several times. That was a little offensive. Please vote me up for conduct.
He basically said in his last speech that morality exists (I think?, I'm confused..) and then he tries to tell us that moral permissibility doesn't exist because objective morality doesn't exist?
I already said, morality is a universal thing. It doesn't change. Just because perceptions change, doesn't make anyone right in saying that an action is moral when it isn't.
To this he would say: but there's still no objectional morality!
Notice how this is his only objection (no pun intended). But furthermore, the govt legitimacy thing is very objectional. If the govt ensures national security/safety within reason, then they are morally permissible. There is no subjectivity to that.

He asks what universal principles are that guide morality.
Well, i could spend characters and characters explaining, but it isn't really necessary. Rarely do we ever have to ask if something is moral. It's pretty intuitive. Even 8 year olds have a general understanding of what is and isn't acceptable. And if you would like to see what is really universal, check out the link I put up last round (too long of an explanation to post here)

"we all have different moral judgement capabilities"
find me at least 10% of people who would think its morally impermissible for a govt to uphold national security and safety of its own people. Even with more basic stuff like earlier examples, everything falls pretty much in line. And even where it doesn't, an individual doesn't necessarily constitute morality.

under his 4th layer point:
I never said anything about legal permissibility. I'm talking about what a govt should and shouldn't do.

him talking about all my apparent concessions:
I'm attacking their logic... but if you want specifics okay
On joyce:
Joyce's own protests against moral objectivism are ironically circular. Joyce constantly reiterates that such theories have failed. We must ask: "Failed for who?" The answer is plainly moral relativists like Joyce who insinuates that no reasonable account can be given of what it takes for a moral judgment to be true. He also takes the view that those who attempt to demonstrate their current moral framework is more-or-less correct (which he takes only to be correct ‘for them') are guilty of grotesque hubris and evince a "felt need for reassurance." Here Joyce is guilty of stereotypical, emotivist rhetoric. And what about Joyce's own hubris, effectively making himself the judge as to whether a judgment that something is morally wrong is a true judgment or not?

also on his idea of subjectivity instead of objectivity: (so, like Koons)
He may claim that in the absence of a possible objective morality, we must fall back on subjectivism. But that is unacceptable: in the absence of objective evidence for a proposition, we must remain silent. We must go to the extent that a rational evaluation of the evidence will take us, and no further. To do otherwise is to indulge in fantasy, which can be very good in art but a detriment in philosophy as well as in our daily experience. Then we move on towards logically proving the justification of the govt, which my opponent has not done.
On subjective morality more:
I think it is quite obvious what the result is of a subjective morality. When people are the victims of bad behavior, they have no trouble understanding that the behavior is absolutely wrong. While people may get morality wrong in complicated situations, they don't get it wrong on the basics. For example, everyone knows murder is wrong. Hitler knew it. That's why he had to dehumanize the Jews in order to rationalize killing them. Many of the Nazi's who followed Hitler were extremely pyscologicaly damaged and tormented by the things they were asked to do. When you are wronged you seek justice, when you are rewarded with something you do not deserve you feel guilt. There is a subconcious overwhelming sense of objective right and wrong that cannot be ignored.

and on Nietzsche: I already discussed how just because perception of something may change (Even though basics generally stay the same), it doesn't change the morality of an action. You can have an entire city full of people raping and shooting each other, that doesn't mean that it is moral just because they do it or even consider it okay (rarely) sometimes. People can be wrong. Some would say that God judges morality (final judgement, anyone?), others would say it is inherent, others may think that the truth comes from another source. But the change in human perception doesn't really matter. I put up a pretty basic framework on how to evaluate moral permissibility from a government actor. An objective one.

him saying I am making a fallacious appeal to emotions by recognizing what is and isn't moral:
Not true. There has to be some reason we are even having this debate and why it was chosen as a national LD topic. Morals guide our life, and it is important to understand morality. If people understood it or acted on it better, many bad things in the past could have been avoided.

"findings of academic philosophers would outweigh dictionary definitions as they are more closely in line with the truth than the dictionary"
ah, so you admit that there IS a truth and not just tons of subjectivity? And they are people too, right? Under your logic, they would be subject to everything that he claims all people are subject to. So what makes them so special at finding "truth" while others apparently can't? Where do you draw the line?

Thank you.

As so far, here is why you can vote pro.
first, vote me conduct if nothing else. He told me I was an idiot, that I didn't read his case, other rude remarks, etc. I did none of this
second, we live in a world with objective morality. We all understand what is right and wrong. Find an instance where we don't? And even if you did, how does that change what is and isn't a moral action? Wouldn't that be for God or the universe to decide? We all agree that a government providing for its citizens' security is morally permissible. AKA PERMITTED BY (any reasonable!) moral standards. There is no reasonable moral standard that wouldn't permit that. You can vote off of that alone.

At the end of the day, ask yourself: Would any government be acting morally permissible to allow terrorism to run amuck (he uncontested my arguments about how terrorism decreases, so don't let him bring that up now)? Would any government be morally permissible in risking the safety of their people? Clearly not, vote pro.

I'm looking at a reasonable, easier to understand case attacking the real issues of this resolution. My opponent is dancing around the point. What this debate really should have focused on was duties of govt, effectiveness of targeted killing, preemptive force in some cases, etc.

Thank you to my opponent.


"A government acts morally when it protects the safety of its citizens."

Again, this only proves LEGAL permissibility, not MORAL permissibility. You have no system under which we can proove MORAL permissibility (i.e. consequentialism, deontology, naturalism, etc.). Without that, you're affirming the wrong resolution.

"First of all, I read your case several times."

It wasn't obvious. Still isn't, as a matter of fact.

"said in his last speech that morality exists (I think?, I'm confused..)"

Let me clarify (since you apparently dislike reading philosophical cases):

In order to prove moral permissibility, you need some sort of objective moral system to warrant what is permissible and what is not permissible. The problem with that, as my case points out in three different ways (Koons, Nietzsche 1 and 2), is that objective morality does not exist, but rather that morality is subjective. If morality is subjective, as per my Joyce evidence that you have conceded multiple times, then nothing can be morally permissible. Thus, the resolution is negated. Better?

"I already said, morality is a universal thing."

You're right, you did say that. I also can say that you're a fifty foot giant with a sore toenail. I could also say that flying, pink, firebreathing unicorns exist. That doesn't make it right. For that you need WARRANTS, which you lack in many different places.

"Just because perceptions change, doesn't make anyone right in saying that an action is moral when it isn't."

Never responded to the point that I brought up that says that perception is the birthing ground of morality. If perception changes, morality changes. Thus, morality is subjective, and thus skep is true, and thus yatta yatta yatta the resolution is negated.

"To this he would say: but there's still no objectional morality!"

1. Objectional? Wut?
2. Actually, no. That's not what I said at all. Nice try, though!

"Notice how this is his only objection "

Except it isn't.... xD
You still have yet to prove that morality is objective. You have merely asserted that it is, with no evidence to warrant your claim. I have multiple examples, some spun off of what you yourself have said, as well as my entire case filled with noteworthy philosophers, that say otherwise. Yeah....

" the govt legitimacy thing is very objectional."

1. Objective. Not objectional.
2. Governments do change, correct? We do hold elections every four years, correct? New people are put in charge and policies change, correct? How is our government objective?
3. Even if you prove our government is objective, you're still only proving LEGAL permissibility which, again, is not the same thing as MORAL permissibility.

"Well, i could spend characters and characters explaining, but it isn't really necessary."

Translated: She doesn't know and she pulled it out of her back pocket when she realized she needed something to at least look like she tried.

"Rarely do we ever have to ask if something is moral."

Except we do it all the time....

" Even 8 year olds have a general understanding of what is and isn't acceptable."

Do eight year olds have different concepts of right and wrong? Unless you're prepared to argue that all eight year olds are the same, then I would go ahead and drop this point.

"And if you would like to see what is really universal, check out the link I put up last round"

Translated: I would copy/paste, but he would probably catch me doing it. And since I can't make the argument myself, I'll just let someone else make it for me.

No, I'm not going to refute a website that you're too lazy to summarize into points on here. Do work, son.

"find me at least 10% of people who would think its morally impermissible for a govt to uphold national security and safety of its own people. "

Loaded question.
I could easily find you people who think TARGETED KILLING is impermissible and people who think TARGETED KILLING is permissible. But this would only prove my subjective morality point further, so you probably don't want me to do that.

"And even where it doesn't, an individual doesn't necessarily constitute morality."

Individuals exactly constitute morality. Unless you're prepared to argue that we're all one in the same, that NO ONE holds different beliefs and hold different, contradictory ideas to one another, I'd drop this point as well. We all hold different beliefs, and different concepts of what is right and wrong. If objective morality existed, we would all think the same thing, all have the same beliefs of right and wrong. That doesn't happen. Thus, morality is subjective. Thus, the Joyce evidence comes into play. Thus, nothing can be morally permissible. Thus, you negate the resolution. Bingo!

"I'm talking about what a govt should and shouldn't do."

A.K.A. Legal permissibility. Thank you for clarifying.

"Joyce constantly reiterates that such theories have failed."

That's not what Joyce is saying at all. What Joyce says is that if skepticism (a.k.a. subjective morality) is true, then x, y, and z. He doesn't say that moral theories have failed. Certain moral theories work for certain people.

" Here Joyce is guilty of stereotypical, emotivist rhetoric."

Kind of like this?

Please, please, please, PLEASE read the card.
Actually, don't. You were actually doing better when you didn't try and read the evidence.

"He may claim that in the absence of a possible objective morality, we must fall back on subjectivism."

I'm beginning to notice a pattern. You're not actually saying anything CLOSE to what any of my evidence is saying.

"everyone knows murder is wrong. Hitler knew it."

Just nit-picking here. Hitler believed that murdering the Jewish population was justified (a.k.a. permissible) in order to reconstruct an Aryan race, or another form of Super race. I'm not going to waste characters debating WWII. Challenge me to a different debate if you want to talk about that.

"just because perception of something may change ... it doesn't change the morality of an action"

It doesn't change YOUR perception. But their perception is different from your perception. What they view as permissible is different from what you view as permissible. They would perceive, in your example, that raping and shooting is okay. That doesn't change YOUR perception, but their perception differs from yours. But this only proves subjective morality further, so I'd imagine you want me to shut up now.

"I put up a pretty basic framework on how to evaluate moral permissibility from a government actor. An objective one."

How many times have I refuted this? I swear it must be up in the triple digets by this point.

"Morals guide our life, and it is important to understand morality."

Never contested this. But what you're failing to understand, and I'm running out of ways to try and explain it to you, is that because people have different perceptions of what is moral, then morality is not objective, but subjective. And if it's subjective, then we get Joyce and a negated resolution.

"ah, so you admit that there IS a truth and not just tons of subjectivity?"

Gimme a second so I can laugh my a** off.

Okay, let's try to take this slow.
When we are trying to define morality, which would you rather trust to be correct: a philosopher or Webster's dictionary? I'm saying that philosophers are more CLOSE to the truth than dictionaries, thus why my points would be preferred to your non-existant ones. Why are we even arguing this? You didn't provide any definitions of morality in the first place xD

500 characters. She's still not winning on any layer, and has repeatedly misinterpreted what my case is saying. It's painfully obvious she hasn't read my case, and she still has yet to show how her case proves moral permissibility instead of legal permissibility. She's not winning on any of the four layers. Extend them all as reasons to negate.

Now excuse me while I go pound my head against the wall.

Debate Round No. 4


At this point, my opponent is so rude that I can barely stand debating him. Do we really want someone that rude to win? I wouldn't vote for him on any level as an outsider.
Also note how he even said in the comments people should vote for me for conduct.

Anyways, sorry if I apparently don't understand his crazy philosophical stuff. I've done LD a total of two times..
But let me clarify (hopefully without being mocked :( ) what I am saying and why you can give me the win in arguments as well. I think I make more realistic sense to at least 98% of the population.

I gave what morality or even moral permissibility was when we are talking about a government actor. The government has to uphold national security. This doesn't change from whoever is holding power. It is not objective. National security/safety upheld=morally permissible for a government. I then talked about how this happens through targeted killing which my opponent didn't refute. It's not just legal permissibility. That's what also dictates the moral permissibility. It's probably not a coincidence that they seem similar, since the govt shouldn't legally permit something that they can't morally permit.

Even if you buy his skepticism thing consider this:
At the point where you believe any morality exists, you can give me the win. Because I won that targeted killing upholds national security (it's been uncontested.) Then, the majority of perceptions of morality (even if subjective) if not all, would say that a government upholding national security/the safety of its people is morally permissible. (Remember that we are talking about this as a tool in the toolbox, not necessarily the only option. But perhaps when other options have been exhausted, the govt is faced with the choice of doing a targeted killing or letting their own people be at risk.)

And I did provide why morality is a universal thing. We as humans do not determine what is and isn't moral. That is up to God, or universal principles (whatever your beliefs are). It's like the way a colorblind person doesn't actually determine what a color is. He may have a skewed perception of a color but that doesn't determine the color itself. We can find examples of universal morality in human nature, shared vulnerability to suffering, the demands of universal reason, what is common among existing moral codes, or the common mandates of religion. There is a reason that there seems to be so much overlap, to overlook that is foolish.

Yes, I did mean objective. sorry.

And moreover on why you are going to be voting against his subjective morality and why he can't make harsh judgements:

The essence of the problem with subjective morality is that you cannot judge subjectively. It smells of appeasement. Terrorists are only defending their culture, so we should either ignore them or give them concessions. Saddam was only doing what he thought was right, so we should never have invaded Iraq. Hitler only had intentions for Greater Germany, so we should assume he is a peaceful man. If you want to defend these guys, there is something wrong with your judgement.

You can also extend my Rosen explanation of morality in the context of conflict and Babic. So yes, I did provide definitions and lots of explanations of morality. And even if I didn't (which I did), we are talking about morally permissible actions, not necessarily morally good ones. Remember my analogy?

(Zaradi: Please refrain from rude or sarcastic comments in your next speech. I'm honestly offended.)

Thank you. Please vote pro :)
(If nothing else, please vote pro because someone so inconsiderate really doesn't deserve to be rewarded, this isn't what or really anything is about)


I'll go through my opponent's last speech briefly before giving a summary of how the judges ought to vote on the round with the given layer structure that we both agreed to and explaining how I'm still winning on every layer.

"Do we really want someone that rude to win?"

Thankfully debates aren't a popularity contest, and arguments are what drives a win and a loss (or at least should be what drives a win and a loss).

" I wouldn't vote for him on any level as an outsider."

Obvious bias is obvious.

"This doesn't change from whoever is holding power. It is not objective."

I'll ignore the fact that this is a totally contradictory statement and just adress your desired message.

Government desires and actions change from person to person as a new person is put in office and an old person is taken out of office. Do you think that Barack Obama wanted to do the same things that George Bush did? You would have to answer yes in order to not contradict yourself (again). And if you want to defend that, challenge me to another debate over it.

"National security/safety upheld=morally permissible for a government."

Under what sort of ethical/moral framework or system? Oh that's right, you don't have one. This is exactly the crux of why your case fails to prove MORAL permissibiltiy, but instead it proves LEGAL permissibility as it talks about a government actor instead of justifying the action under some ethical or moral system (and no, the government is NOT a moral system. A moral system would be things like consequentialism, deontology, naturalism, etc.).

"It's not just legal permissibility"

False. That's exactly what it just is.

"At the point where you believe any morality exists, you can give me the win."

False. If morality is subjective, then skepticism is true. If skepticism is true, then we get Joyce. If we get Joyce, then the resolution is prima facie negated. Regardless of what targeted killing does or doesn't do, if morality is subjective, you vote con, as nothing can be considered morally permissible if morality is subjective.

"And I did provide why morality is a universal thing."

I'd like to remind those reading this of WHAT she did to prove why morality is objective: nothing. Just a bland assertion with no evidence to back it up. I, on the other hand, gave numerous examples as well as cited evidence from leading philosophers that stated that morality was not objective (or universal, as she wants to put it), but rather subjective.

"We as humans do not determine what is and isn't moral."

That's exactly what we do. Our perceptions consider what is moral and what isn't moral. Tell me: if we lived back in the 1400's, with all the knowledge that existed in the 1400's, would you consider embryonic stem cell research morally permissible or impermissible? Wait, you wouldn't know? Why is that? You would have no perception of it, and thus would not be able to describe it as morally permissible or impermissible! So does this mean that our perceptions are what really spawns our moral thought?!

Another thing I'd like to point out is that all targeted killing is is murder. A choice murder that eliminates a threat to a society, sure, but a murder nonetheless. All throughout this debate she has said that murder was prima facie wrong, but has instead spouted that targeted killing, which is essentially the same thing, is a-okay! Why is this? Is it because she's just confused and doesn't know what she's talking about?! A likely answer, but I don't think it's necessarily correct. I believe that the correct answer is that she views targeted killing, or perceives targeted killing, in a different light than she does a cold-blooded murder from Freddy Krueger down the street. So does this add more proof to perceptions being the spawning point of morality?!

"You can also extend my Rosen explanation of morality in the context of conflict and Babic."

1. Nice extension of something that you've left untouched since round two. I thought this round was for summaries only, and not new arguments.
2. These only describe moral PERMISSIBILITY, which is a seperate concept from morality.

"we are talking about morally permissible actions, not necessarily morally good ones."

Which is exactly where your case goes wrong and my case is proven right. Thank you for reminding everyone.

"(Zaradi: Please refrain from rude or sarcastic comments in your next speech."

Whoops. Too late.

"I'm honestly offended.)"

If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen.

I'd also comment on her last little parenthesized comment at the bottom of her round five, but it's not worth wasting more of my remaining characters on pointing out how dumb it is. Instead, I'll dive into the debate layering and how she's still losing on every tier.

When you as the judge are going to evaluate this round, you first have to start with the negative case. As per the uncontested Joyce evidence, if morality is subjective, then the resolution is prima facie false, and thus negated. My case holds three different independent reasons why morality is subjective. In order to refute my case, she would need to refute each of the three reasons. She has failed to refute Koons (reason one), she has failed to refute Nietzsche 1 (reason two), and she has failed to refute Nietzsche 2 (reason three). All three reasons can be cleanly extended across the flow, which gives you as the voter three easy ways to vote con.

But even if you buy her misquoted refutations that don't even adress the arguments I make, the last layer is her framework. She has to prove how her method of proving permissibility, justifying it under government action, is not LEGAL permissibility, but rather MORAL permissibility. She has offered no other reasoning for this being true other than saying how her criterion links to her value, which doesn't warrant anything other than a criterion linking to it's value. The problem with her case is she possesses no moral or ethical system under which we can weigh if an act is permissible or impermissible. This may just be a lack of understanding on her part or just an oversight (not likely), but it still counts against her. Since her case fails to prove moral permissibility, then you cannot affirm off of her case, and thusly have to negate on a risk of offense coming off of the negative case.

In summary, the round breaks down easily this way:

1. If skepticism is true, then nothing can be permissible, and the resolution is instantly negated (coming from Joyce, which went uncontested).
2. She conceded three independent reasons for why skepticism is true (Koons, Nietzsche 1, Nietzsche 2)
3. Thus, the resolution is instantly false, and you vote con.
4. Even if you don't buy skepticism, her case fails to prove the resolution, rather proves an alternately worded resolution, so it is impossible for her to win.

And since I have 1000+ characters left, I guess I will touch on that last bit.

"(If nothing else, please vote pro because someone so inconsiderate really doesn't deserve to be rewarded"

If this is true, and all debates are are popularity contests, then you still don't vote for her, but rather for me. A vote for me guarentees free cookies of any kind for life for free. Who doesn't want that?

"this isn't what or really anything is about)"

1. Says the person who joined the site no more than two weeks ago. Unless you're suggesting you're a multi-account, in which case I'm going to call over innomen.
2. Lolz. So debating isn't what is about? Wtf is it about then?

Debate Round No. 5
42 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Zaradi 5 years ago
You're getting on the right track, although I never argued that there is no morality, but rather there is no objective morality. There's a difference.
Posted by photopro21 5 years ago
If nothing is moral, then isn't everything permissible?

Because nothing could be impermissible if we can't give a definite for the morality of something due to its apparent subjectivity.
Posted by Zaradi 5 years ago
Another dissapointing LD round is in the books....
Posted by Zaradi 5 years ago
If you have, it isn't very obvious, since from what I've seen you have yet to come close to understanding a single argument I've made so far.

Class? Class is not constantly butchering your opponent's arguments via misquoting. Class is at least attempting to look like you know what your opponent is saying. Class is at least acting like you read what they're saying and at least look like you have an understanding of it. Class went out the window during your round three.
Posted by photopro21 5 years ago
I'm so sorry for asking for a little bit of class.
Posted by photopro21 5 years ago
I did read your case, several times. Thank you.
Posted by Zaradi 5 years ago
As is popularly said here "If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen". DDO isn't a bundle of cottonballs and laughter and rainbows and little, pink ponies. Put on your big girl pants and read my case for the first time this debate.
Posted by photopro21 5 years ago
Maybe we should just focus on arguments instead of insults? Please? My feelings are like actually hurt.
Posted by Zaradi 5 years ago
I don't know. This isn't even close to my most confusing philosophical case. Hell, the suffering one is more complex, just because it's counterintuitive. This one is baby steps.
Posted by THEBOMB 5 years ago
Damn Zaradi, what's with people who don't understand this...
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by joshizinfamous 5 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro used improper grammar and asked for conduct points when there was no reason to award them to her. Thus we negate. :D