The Instigator
socialpinko
Pro (for)
Winning
5 Points
The Contender
FourTrouble
Con (against)
Losing
3 Points

Terrorism can be justified

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
socialpinko
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/5/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 6,966 times Debate No: 24583
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (69)
Votes (2)

 

socialpinko

Pro

In this debate I will be defending the thesis that terrorism can in some instances be justified and that there is nothing logically or definitionally prohibiting it from ever being a justifiable course of action. My burden will be to advance and defend an argument in support of my thesis. My opponent will take the opposite view and their burden in this debate will be to disprove my argument.


===Definitions===


There are a great deal of mutually incompatible definitions of terrorism so I will define it simply here. Terrorism is defined as the deliberate use of violence against non-combatants or civilians in the pursuit of some political goal.


The term justified will pose a problem if there is not some accepted standard of justification between my opponent and myself. In the interest of keeping this debate on topic and not having it focus more on what can count as justification, just war theory will be used as the general standard unless a compelling reason is provided supporting why some aspect of it may be bypassed.


The generally accepted tenets of what constitutes just war include conditions regarding the acceptable reasons to go to war as well as the acceptable ways in which to wage it, provided here[1].


===Rules===


1. Drops will count as concessions.

2. Semantic or abusive arguments will not be counted.

3. New arguments brought in the last round will not be counted.

4. R1 is for acceptance. Argumentation begins in R2.


===Sources===


[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
FourTrouble

Con

Accepted.
Debate Round No. 1
socialpinko

Pro

As the value upon which this debate will rest on is Just War Theory (JWT), I think it would be prudent to provide a short summary of what it actually supports. Just War Theory can be divided into two main parts, Jus ad bellum and Jus in bello or the rules of when to go to war and the rules of how to conduct war respectively. Just post bellum posits the rules for ending a war but seeing as this debate is concerned with activities during war specifically, I don't feel as though they are especially relevant. Therefore, I'll only go into detail regarding ad bellum and in bello rules.


Jun ad bellum deals with the rules of when one may be justified in going to war. The rules include the requirement of just cause, your side must have incurred greater injustice by the side going to war against then your side incurred against them, only just public authorities may wage war, one must go to war for the right reasons, one must have a possibility of success, war must only be in self defense, and war must always be the last resort. Just in bello contains the terms necessary for the proper conduction of war. The rules include the distinction between combatants and non-combatants and the rule that non-combatants are to be spared, expected death must be strictly proportional to military advantage, as little force as possible must be used, POW's must be fairly treated, and intrinsically evil weapons (e.g. nuclear weapons) must never be used.


=================================


Outline.


My argument will show that terrorism does not intrinsically violate most of the terms of Just War Theory and that there is sufficient reason to bypass any reasons wherein it might. Since terrorism was defined narrowly as the use of violence against non-combatants, I will assume that the principle of combatant/ non-combatant discrimination will be the term of JWT which my opponent will primarily draw on. Therefore it will be this aspect of JWT which I will spend the majority of my case defending against. If my opponent brings any other criticisms in his rebuttal, I will also focus on those.


Contention. Civilians are indirectly responsible for the acts of their country's military.


(A) Taxes and financial support.


By paying taxes, civilians are serving to sustain the hostilities and wars perpetuated by their government. It is only through funding of some way that a government can afford to do anything after all and this would include going to war. My point is not to argue that anyone who pays taxes contributes to the military adventures of the State however. It is only those who pay taxes which then go towards the wars perpetrated by their government that are in any way morally responsible for such wars. By helping to fund military activities of the government, citizens are binding themselves morally to the actions committed using those funds. Just like the person who actually pays an assassin is held partially responsible for subsequent actions of the assassin, citizens share some moral responsibility in helping to fund their government's military.


(B) Democracy and Civic Representation.


One of the cornerstones on which the concept of liberal democracy rests is that it is representative as opposed to monarchical wherein a single person or family simply asserts their will over the nation. Under liberal (representative) democracy though, the government is conceived as being a mechanism with the purpose of putting the needs and wants of the populace into action. The government is posited as the will of the people embodied. So whenever the State acts, it is supposed to be acting under the directive of its citizenry and this would include war. So under democratic theory, whenever the State goes to war we can assume that it is the general will of the people. If this is true then there is clearly a flaw in JTW conceiving of citizens as not having a hand in military conflict. If it is only through the general consent of the citizenry that a State goes to war then the citizenry (who consented) cannot be defended as morally innnocent in the matter.


Conclusion.


For these two reasons it can be sufficiently shown that civilians are not necessarily innocent in military conflicts and that under sufficient conditions they actually positively sustain such conflicts. JWT argues that civilians ought to be spared from military activities because either they had no part in starting such conflicts or because they aren't strictly speaking responsible for the acts of their government. But as I have shown, by either actively supporting their government financially and through the fact that government acts mostly as a representative of the will of the people, they are not necessarily innocent in any morally relevant (JWT) sense. Looking at the other aspects of JWT, I don't think there are any other rules which terrorism runs into problems with vis a vis targeting civilians. If my opponent believes it does then I invite him to make those known in his argument.
FourTrouble

Con

Thanks for the debate social.

social's argument rests on several argumentative moves: (1) limit the discussion to cases that involve a "just war," (2) blur the JWT's combatant/non-combatant distinction by redefining civilians as combatants, and (3) use (2) to represent all government actions as the unfiltered "will of the people embodied." I will present three challenges to these points: (1) terrorism is not a "just" means to pursue a war, (2) the JWT's combatant/non-combatant distinction strictly distinguishes between the status of civilians and combatants during war, and (3) civilians should not be held accountable for the actions of elected officials.

Just War Theory

As social points out, in Just War Theory there is a distinction between jus ad bellus - whether the war is justified - and jus in bellum - whether the means used to carry it out are justified. Thus, not every means is justified in the pursuit of a just end. I maintain that terrorism is never justified because it is an inherently unjust means, even if it is directed toward a just goal. The reason terrorism cannot be justified is because it intentionally kills non-combatants. For example, it is sometimes permissible to do things in war that kill non-combatants as a side-effect, but it is not permissible to kill non-combatants as the intended effect in and of itself.

The reason for this is straight-forward - non-combatants do not pose a threat. The purpose of terrorism is thus to create fear and terror in a nation by intentionally killing people who do not pose a threat. According to Just War Theory (social's chosen framework), this is an impermissible means to carry out a war, even if the war is justified. In effect, terrorism undermines the order necessary for a civil society by creating panic in the lives of non-combatants.

There is yet another problem with using terrorism as a means to carry out a war. It rests on a slippery slope that can quickly lead a government to turn on its own citizens. If the intentional targeting of non-combatants can be justified, who is to say a government cannot target its own citizens to achieve some political goal during war? This would be unacceptable, yet the logic that permits terrorism is the same logic that would permit the government to target its own non-threatening citizens.

Re: "Contention. Civilians are indirectly responsible for the acts of their country's military."

(A) Taxes and financial support.

social argues that citizens who pay taxes are "morally responsible" for wars. The problem with this argument is that it ignores the reason combatants lose their right to life in the first place: because they directly threaten the lives of others. The point is, non-combatants are by definition non-threatning, so they retain their right to life. The paying of taxes does not directly pose a threat to anyone, so even if an argument could be made that citizens are morally responsible for wars waged in their name, it still does not justify the killing of people who retain their right to life because they are non-threatning.

There is another counter-argument to social's contention. This argument says, because acts of war are not permitted unless they are necessary, the intentional targeting of non-combatants is never permissible because it is never necessary. I highlight the word intentional because it is the key to this entire argument: it may sometimes be necessary to kill non-combatants as a side-effect to another military operation, but intentionally killing non-combatants in and of itself to achieve a goal is never necessary.

(B) Democracy and Civic Representation

social argues that the government is "posited as the will of the people embodied," so therefore, citizenry "cannot be defended as morally innocent" in the matter of going to war. The arguments from above - that non-combatants do not pose a direct threat and that intentionally killing non-combatants is never necessary - both apply here as well. But there is another argument to be made here as well. The government does not always express the will of the people (and in the case of war, it almost never express the will of all people), so civilians should not be held accountable for the actions of elected officials.

As social mentioned, we are talking about a liberal (representative) democracy. This means that if someone gets a majority of the vote, even if it is 40% of the vote (less than half the people in the nation), the official gets elected. This suggests that the government does not necessarily represent the will of the people, as it is possible for the government to represent only 40% or 30% of the people because of the system we use to elect officials. This is inevitable in any democratic nation, as a majority of the vote does not guarantee a true majority when it comes to what the people want regarding war. If a government goes to war, but it only represents a minority view, then there is no reason to hold the citizenry as a whole morally responsible. But even if the majority view was that the war was justified, it does not change the fact that there will be people who do not think the war is justified. Those people are a counter-exampe to social's argument.
Debate Round No. 2
socialpinko

Pro

Just War Theory.


Con's counter that civilians conceptually can never present a threat is wrong as presented in my points regarding tax support and civic representation. Not only do civilians finance their governments wars (thus being at least partially responsible for the acts committed in them) but in many cases the will of citizens is embodied in the policies of their government, especially in the case of modern liberal democracies. I will respond to Con's counters against these arguments specifically below. Also, Con's point regarding the invoking terror as a method to pursue war is moot in this debate as terrorism was defined strictly as civilian attack. While many terrorists have that motivation in mind, it's irrelevant in the scope of this debate.


On Con's slippery slope counter, the argument can only be made by failing to recognize the reasoning I have made in favor of terrorism being permissible. Terrorism is permissible only because civilians are in many cases partially responsible for the acts of their government. This means terrorism is justified as a means to defend against the actions of a specific government. For instance, if the U.S. is engaging in an unjust war (by JWT standards) against some country then terrorism may be justified in defense against those actions. But it's clearly incoherent for a State to use violent force in an effort to defend itself against itself since it is the civilian's relation to a government's policies that make them legitimate targets. I have no idea how my opponent conceives of the logic being the same in these two cases.


Contention. Civilians and Responsibility.


(A) Taxes.


The main counter to the financial support contention is that no civilian ever directly threatens life in war, thus they never forfeit their right to life which if why soldiers are able to be killed justly. The problem with this point though is that Con fails to justify any categorical or conceptual difference between a citizen financing the killing actions of a soldier and someone financing the actions of a hit man. Sure the exact details might be different, but in both cases we still have someone paying someone else to go out and kill. Just like we would hold both the hit man and his employer responsible for such acts, so should the civilian who finances war be held responsible along with the soldier who carries it out. Con's point that targeting non-combatants is never necessary is unsubstantiated since he never provides argumentative support. One can certainly conceive of a situation where attacking civilians who finance a war causes financing of that war to drop, plus there is no a priori reason to suggest killing civilians could never be necessary in war. At this point it is only an assertion by Con and should not be accepted without evidential or logical reasoning.


(B) Civic Representation


-Non necessity of representing the people's will


I can certainly agree with my opponent that not all policies acted out by a government will represent the will of it's people and that this applies just as much to war. However, it was never my contention that it did. The only point argued was that in many instances the government does represent the will of at least some of it's people who are not themselves members of the military or who are the ones fighting the war. Therefore where war is an enactment of general will (or really the will of any civilians who actively attempt to enact it) there is justification for acting against the people who's will specifically it represents.


-War and representing minority views


The next point Con makes in counter is similar though distinct from the previous regarding civic representation. Con argues that in many cases there is not even a majority opinion needed to enact a given policy. He points out that in liberal democracies we see things like 40 o 30% support being sufficient to enact a policy even with substantial and majority opposition. From this Con posits that there's no reason to hold the "citizenry as a whole" responsible. But that was also never my case. It is only those who's will is being represented and who actively supported such a thing (by voting, persuading, giving public support to, etc.) that are morally responsible for the war. Just like a tax dissenter is not responsible for financing war, neither is a dissenter responsible for the views of others. My case only posits that (A) some civilians are justified targets of terrorism and (B) that those civilians are ones that either lend financial assistance to the war or who are part of the general will which the government seeks to represent in waging the war.
FourTrouble

Con

The framework for this debate is Just War Theory. Just War Theory says it is unjust to kill non-combatants or civilians. Terrorism is defined as the "deliberate use of violence against non-combatants or civilians in the pursuit of some political goal." If we remain within the framework of this debate (provided by my opponent), then terrorism cannot be justified. It is, by definition, incompatible with Just War Theory.

If my opponent is to show that terrorism is justified, my opponent will have to provide a reason compelling enough to override Just War Theory. To do this, my opponent would have to show (1) that the "political goal" of terrorism is good enough to justify the killing of non-combatants, (2) that the "political goal" will necessarily follow from acts of terrorism, and (3) that the "political goal" cannot be achieved in any other way. The burden is on my opponent, if terrorism is to be justified, to prove each of these three points, neither of which has been argued yet.

Just War Theory

JWT establishes a very clear distinction between combatants and non-combatants. A combatant is armed, prepared to die, and therefore an immediate threat. A non-combatant (or civilian) is unarmed, not prepared to die, and therefore not an immediate threat. The moral status of civilians and soldiers is therefore "categorically and conceptually different": soldiers are armed, trained, and expected to kill other soldiers, whereas civilians are unarmed, untrained, and prohibited from killing (if a civilian kills someone it is generally considered murder). As such, JWT does not permit the killing of non-combatants. A soldier who turns their weapon on a civilian is the equivalent of a non-combatant who kills a civilian: an act of murder (rather than an act of war).

Re: Civilians and Responsibility

(A) Taxes

The "categorical or conceptual difference" between a citizen who finances a hit man and the hit man himself is the same difference between a citizen who finances a soldier and the soldier himself: both citizens are unarmed and untrained (and therefore not prepared to die), whereas the hit man and soldier are armed, trained (presumably a hit man has been trained), and therefore prepared to die. True, a citizen who finances a hit man is held partially responsible for acts committed by the hit man, but partial responsibility does not justify killing the citizen. The government does not condone the killing of its own citizens just because they financed a hit man; instead, the government arrests and prosecutes citizens for their crimes. If found guilty, they are imprisoned (and in some rare cases where the citizen is responsible for murder, given the death penalty). In no way does financing a hit man justify the out-right killing of the financer. In our society, civilians and non-combatants have a basic, fundamental right to life. This right is inviolable, unless the civilian chooses to become a combatant.

There is thus clearly a difference between civilians and soldiers - civilians are non-combatants whereas soldiers are combatants. JWT does not permit the killing of non-combatants, so any action taken against non-combatants during war would be considered murder. Terrorism, as such, is the equivalent of murder. It cannot be justified, even during war.

My opponent claims a situation could be conceived where deliberately killing civilians to achieve a political goal (terrorism) would be "necessary." Yet my opponent has not provided such a scenario or even hinted at what such a scenario might look like. The burden is on my opponent to prove such a scenario exists. If an act of terrorism is necessary, then it would indeed be justified. But I maintain that no act of terrorism is ever justified because there is always an alternative. It is never necessary to kill non-combatants to win a war, as non-combatants don't pose a threat. If an opposing nation's military is destroyed, the war would be over. There is never a need to kill non-combatants.

My opponent says nothing I say should be accepted without "evidential or logical reasoning." I'm not sure what this means. If I say that killing non-combatants is not necessary, the burden is on my opponent to prove a single case where it is necessary. JWT clearly states that non-combatants should not be killed during war, so the burden is on my opponent to prove killing non-combatants would be necessary. I don't really see what kind of "evidential or logical reasoning" my opponent is looking for here.

(B) Civic Representation

My opponent agrees that “not all policies acted out by a government will represent the will of its people.” Thus, my opponent claims it is only civilians who "actively" support war who are morally responsible. My opponent writes: “My case only posits that (A) some civilians are justified targets of terrorism and (B) that those civilians are ones that either lend financial assistance to the war or who are part of the general will which the government seeks to represent in waging the war.”

The problem with civilians who lend financial assistance to war is that (1) not all citizens who pay taxes support war (many of them continue to pay taxes because it is illegal to not pay taxes), and (2) there is no practical mechanism to determine which citizens support war simply by asking whether they pay taxes or not (some people who do not pay taxes support war while some people who do pay taxes oppose war).

The problem with targeting civilians who support war through voting, persuading, giving public support, and other such things, is that they nonetheless remain non-combatants. It is a democratic ideal to preserve the freedom of speech, and if we are allowed to kill non-combatants because they voice their opinions publicly, then we have effectively negated the freedom of speech as a democratic ideal. This is not only unacceptable on a political level (what "political goal" achieved by terrorism could outweigh protections on free speech?), it is also unacceptable because non-combatants pose no immediate threat by voicing their opinions. If it was seriously thought that voicing an opinion publicly posed a threat, then governments around the world would immediately censor speech. This is obviously not the case.

Conclusion

I remind my opponent that the burden is on him to prove that JWT should be abandoned in favor of some other framework. It is also my opponent's burden to show (1) that the "political goal" of terrorism is good enough to justify the killing of non-combatants, (2) that the "political goal" will necessarily follow from acts of terrorism, and (3) that the "political goal" cannot be achieved in any other way. This means my opponent must justify terrorism theoretically and empirically - it must not only have a political goal that overrides the killing of non-combatants, but it must also guarantee that this political goal be achieved and that it cannot be achieved in any other way. I personally don't see how this burden can be met, but I look forward to hearing my opponent's arguments otherwise.
Debate Round No. 3
socialpinko

Pro

Regarding Just War Theory and the framework for this debate, I obviously understand that orthodox JWT condemns terrorism which is why I added the condition that it will be used as a general standard "unless a compelling reason is provided supporting why some aspect of it may be bypassed." So Con's point regarding the definitional issues with my case is moot. On his conditions allegedly necessary to override orthodox JWT, his conditions are not actually all necessary. All I have to show is that the combatant/ non-combatant distinction in regards to civilians does not always have a legitimate moral basis in JWT. If I can show this then terrorism can be shown to be sometimes justified (at least not definitionally unjustified).


Just War Theory.


The distinction which Con has made between combatants and non-combatants is insufficient in relation to JWT. While it can't be denied that these differences do exist, Con hasn't shown why they are morally relevant according to JWT. In fact, JWT shows that they are not relevant. The rules of jun ad bellum and just in bello never argue for the combatant- non combatant distinction on the basis which my opponent has. The distinction is made because it is conceived of that civilians do not contribute to war or had no role in starting it. However, as I have shown, civilians are capable of (and often do) contribute to war via taxation and at some points may have a role in starting it through either voting in candidates on war platforms or through having their general will represented by the State in doing so.


Contention. Civilians and Responsibility.


(A) Taxes


Note that Con has conceded the partial responsibility of citizens who fit my two conditions, yet he denies this as a forfeiture of the right to life. He writes: "True, a citizen who finances a hit man is held partially responsible for acts committed by the hit man, but partial responsibility does not justify killing the citizen." On the contrary, moral responsibility has been properly shown. This along with the concept of necessity in facing an existential threat (wherein military means are untenable) makes terrorism justified. While not being justified in every conceivable case, terrorism may be justified in some cases.


On a situation being conceived where terrorism could be necessary to achieve some political goal, Con has argues that there is no possible scenario which could ever possibly occur. When I denied this, Con asked for an examples. I did not realize an example was needed though, seeing as there is no conceptual impossibility in the aforementioned scenario, thus it is clearly possible. However, since approaching the issue from this level has apparently been rejected by Con in favor of a simple made up scenario, I will oblige. Consider a situation where a large nation is attacking a smaller one. The large nation is so well equipped and the smaller one so ill-equipped that conventional warfare is almost impossible. This war is financed by taxation by the citizenry, the citizenry is wholly supportive of the war, and the State only acts to represent its citizens general will. Therefore attempting to lower the level of support for the war, and thus possibly end the current military campaign would be a necessary course of action in the face of an existential threat. Obviously everything in this scenario is possible, thus the situation itself is possible. (Note that this is not a new argument but a line of support requested by my opponent)


(B) Civic Representation


Con's rebuttal to my argument (like his previous rebuttal) only serves to argue that citizens do not necessarily support war through taxation or civic representation. He argues that "not all citizens who pay taxes support war". Well obviously and I never argues against this. The point though is that there are some citizens who do do so and thus those citizens are not morally innocent in regards to JWT. The Con is charged with defending the definitional innocence of all citizens. Simply arguing that not ALL of them conform to my definition of moral culpability does not serve to defend the definitional innocence as there clearly are some members of the citizenry who do conform to my definition. Furthermore, I never defended basing moral culpability on only taxes. Both support for war and financial support are necessary, not just one or the other and I never argued just one was sufficient.


The next contention by Con is that my reason for moral culpability is instead some assault on freedom of speech of expression. He argues that "if we are allowed to kill non-combatants because they voice their opinions publicly, then we have effectively negated the freedom of speech as a democratic ideal". This is far from the actual argument I am making and is a gross misrepresentation of it. Moral responsibility does not stem from the mere voicing of opinions, it stems from the fact that in many cases in a liberal democracy, the will of the people is represented in the actions of the State. My opponent has not refuted this. It's not that these citizens express their opinion. Taking an example, by my standard someone who just says that the State should exterminate the Jews is not morally responsible for anything since the State has not actually carried out their ideal. However, if the State were to begin an extermination plan based off of the will of that person and other anti-Semites, then him and those who supported such a policy would be partially responsible.


Note that this condition only applies when one's will is actually being represented and has a causal link e.g. the State is basing its actions off of citizen opinion. If a citizens opinion just randomly conforms to the will of a State who doesn't take citizen opinion into account, then that citizen would have no moral responsibility in the matter. It is only when this support has a causal relation to State actions that the citizen becomes partially responsible and my opponent has not actually responded to this argument.


===Conclusion===


Throughout this debate, Con placed a lot of emphasis on JWTs definition, claiming that the existence of the combatant/ non combatant distinction negated the resolutoin in itself, irrespective of the condition I provided in my R1 regarding the standard of value for this debate. Furthermore, since Con is defending the impossibility of terrorism being justified, the possible case which I provided serves to refute his position in itself. On top of that, Con never tried to refute my point regarding the will of the people and moral culpability (merely misrepresenting it as attack on freedom of speech). I also showed necessity as holding relevance in the case of military means being out of the question. This combined with the fact that non-military targets may hold moral responsibility also justifies the use of terrorism. Terrorism has been shown to be justified in some cases, with citizens not being definitionally innocent. Vote Pro.
FourTrouble

Con

I do not understand my opponent's rebuttal. JWT clearly establishes a combatant/non-combatant distinction in the way I have presented it. A quick look at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy should be enough to prove my presentation of the combatant/non-combatant distinction is completely accurate.

From the SEP:

"Soldiers are only entitled to use their (non-prohibited) weapons to target those who are, in Walzer's words, 'engaged in harm.' Thus, when they take aim, soldiers must discriminate between the civilian population, which is morally immune from direct and intentional attack, and those legitimate military, political and industrial targets involved in rights-violating harm. While some collateral civilian casualties are excusable, it is wrong to take deliberate aim at civilian targets." [1]

From the IEP:

"In joining an army the individual is said to renounce his or her rights not to be targeted in war – the bearing of arms takes a person into an alternative moral realm in which killing is the expectation and possible norm: it is world removed from civilian structures and historically has evolved rites of passage and exit that underline the alteration in status for cadets and veterans." [2]

The introduction of these quotes should not be considered a new argument, as the ideas were already presented in R2 and R3. The reason I provide these quotes is to counter my opponent's claim that the distinction is not relevant to JWT (it obviously is, as these quotes prove). The burden is on my opponent to prove an alternate philosophical justification for the combatant/non-combatant distinction, but my opponent has offered none.

I'm not really sure what's left of my opponent's argument, as the combatant/non-combatant distinction has been upheld.

1) My opponent claims terrorism is justified in the following case: when a large nation X attacks a smaller nation Y, the smaller nation Y is justified in killing the civilians of nation X. I don't see why terrorism would be justified in this case. To put this in more concrete terms, this is equivalent to the war between the United States and Iraq. I don't see why Iraq would be justified (in that war) to kill U.S. civilians.

2) There is never a reason to kill civilians because it is ALWAYS possible to win a war without targeting civilians. In other words, there is never a reason to target civilians because the only thing necessary to end a war is the destruction of the enemy's military. Therefore, there is no reason to deliberately target civilians.

3) The fact that the government does not kill citizens who finance hit men completely destroys my opponent's analogy between hit men and soldiers. The government has to provide a fair trial for citizens who finance hit men, and even then, it is not guaranteed that conviction will lead to the death penalty. In other words, they retain their right to life unless it can proven that they do not deserve it. This is always done on a one-by-one basis in a court of law. Terrorism kills civilians without due process, as it denies their right to life as well as their right to a fair trial. It is therefore unjustifiable.

4) I don't understand my opponent's argument about civic representation. It negates the freedom of speech because it says people who voice their opinion (when those opinions become represented by the state) are responsible for the State's actions. This makes no sense. If the State represents the "will of the people," shouldn't the entirety of Nazi Germany have been killed? I don't get it. Think about it this way: if a single citizen protests the war, does that mean the government is allowed to kill them because they are inhibiting the war? The principle behind my opponent's argument is the following: citizens should NEVER support war, because if they do, they become legitimate targets. This is ridiculous, as it limits the freedom of speech, as citizens are forced to give up their right to life just for supporting war. It's nonsense. Why should someone be forced to give up their right to life just because they express an opinion to support war?

I think I should win this debate on the basis of the combatant/non-combatant distinction, which my opponent has not disproven. I honestly don't see the strength in any of my opponent's arguments.

[1] http://plato.stanford.edu...
[2] http://www.iep.utm.edu...
Debate Round No. 4
69 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 4 years ago
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
Commenting so I remember to vote. This seems very interesting.
Posted by FourTrouble 4 years ago
FourTrouble
You argument was literally this: "While it can't be denied that these differences do exist, Con hasn't shown why they are morally relevant according to JWT. In fact, JWT shows that they are not relevant."

But the distinction I presented is the same one presented by the majority of JWT theorists. You had no argument. You basically just ended up saying that JWT doesn't say what I say it says. Yet it obviously does.

I hate this debate because you are just digging a deeper and deeper hole. JWT is fundamentally based on the distinctions I provided. The framework of the debate was JWT. If it rests on moral intuitions, so does every other argument about moral theory. All arguments about morality reduce to moral intuitions because the basis of all philosophical theorizing about morality is our "moral intuitions."
Posted by socialpinko 4 years ago
socialpinko
You're just repeating orthodox JWT without responding to my argument. Furthermore your distinctions don't prove anything. You're basing your objection on intuitive moral feelings but as you pointed out just now this is a philosophical argument. Feelings are not admissible.
Posted by FourTrouble 4 years ago
FourTrouble
JWT clearly says that the combatant/non-combatant distinction is based on the fact that soldiers are ARMED, TRAINED, and PREPARED to die, whereas civilians are not. You did not show that terrorism is compatible with JWT.

I'm not just saying crazy stuff. I simply don't know how to make it any clearer, so I'm drawing out the consequences of your position and principles.

The principle behind your argument is that anyone who supports a war (even if it's solely through voicing an opinion publicly) is morally responsible for the war to the extent that they lose their right to life. I argue that this principle rests on a slipper logic whereby it produces completely unacceptable consequences. I point out that the reason soldiers lose their right to life has nothing to do with "supporting" a war. It has to do with the fact that they engage in combat as ARMED, TRAINED, combatants who are PREPARED to die. A non-combatant (civilian) is none of these things, so regardless of how much culpability they have for a war, they are not legitimate targets in an act of war. If a soldier kills a non-combatant, it is an act of murder, not war.

This is a philosophical argument based on philosophical argumentation. If the distinctions I make are too difficult for you to comprehend, then so be it.
Posted by socialpinko 4 years ago
socialpinko
Furthermore, your reductio lacks philosophical warrant. You're just saying something crazy and assuming that substitutes for a philosophical argument.
Posted by socialpinko 4 years ago
socialpinko
If you can find a recent war that was unjust and based off of public opinion then taking JWT as a justified base you'd be correct. But JWT is a crappy position to start with so...... My only point was to show that terrorism isn't necessarily incompatible with JWT, not that terrorism is ACTUALLY justified.
Posted by FourTrouble 4 years ago
FourTrouble
"So whenever the State acts, it is supposed to be acting under the directive of its citizenry and this would include war. So under democratic theory, whenever the State goes to war we can assume that it is the general will of the people."

That is social's argument quoted directly from the debate.
Posted by FourTrouble 4 years ago
FourTrouble
I do not believe a world in which homosexuality is legalized is a world worth living in. If SSM is legalized, it is a threat to my life. Therefore, anyone supporting it publicly must die. I would be committing a JUST act.
Posted by royalpaladin 4 years ago
royalpaladin
It only applies if the state then launches aggressive wars against other nations.
Posted by FourTrouble 4 years ago
FourTrouble
Excuse me? Legalizing SSM doesn't threaten YOUR right to life, but it may very well threaten someone else's right to life. Who are you to say what does and what doesn't threaten someone's life?
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by royalpaladin 4 years ago
royalpaladin
socialpinkoFourTroubleTied
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: See comments.
Vote Placed by CiRrK 4 years ago
CiRrK
socialpinkoFourTroubleTied
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Total points awarded:13 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct: Even though the premise of the arguments were stated in the first two rounds, the introduction of new evidence counts a new warrant for an argument. Arguments: JWT as a standard is conditional assuming it can be outweighed at the contention level. Thus, I ask myself: why would a citizen lose their right to life? 4T tells us that unless the citizen is a direct threat* the citizen does not lose their right to life, refer to hitman argument. Thus, the JWT condition is not outweighed.