The Instigator
C4747500
Pro (for)
Winning
9 Points
The Contender
RantingRob
Con (against)
Losing
3 Points

The USFG should disallow torture and forgo using it as an interrogation technique.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/10/2008 Category: Society
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 805 times Debate No: 2541
Debate Rounds (4)
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C4747500

Pro

Exactly as the title states.

I will define torture as extreme anguish of body or mind, and I accept that torture can be both physical and psychological. I view all torture as illegitimate.

I would like to debate these tenets:

1. Torture is dehumanizing and degrading. To torture any individual is to declare that their life is worthless and they are merely an object which can be used for a purpose.

2. I will make the preemptive argument that if you claim torture is legitimate, then you must also claim it can and should be used on anyone who is viewed as withholding valuable information.

3. Torture is ineffective and rarely works. Individuals often suffer so much pain and anguish that they will say or do anything to stop the torture from continuing.

Those are what I plan to work with throughout this debate, feel free to bring up other points that I haven't. Good luck :)
RantingRob

Con

This should an interesting topic for my first debate. I will address your points in order.

"1. Torture is dehumanizing and degrading. To torture any individual is to declare that their life is worthless and they are merely an object which can be used for a purpose."

I wholeheartedly agree with that statement. The people that we are using the "enhanced interrogation techniques" on are not human and are completely worthless other than for the information that they can provide. If an individual that plans and orchestrates attacks on schools, mosques, police stations, etc. hasn't forfeited all worth to the planet, who has? The techniques are not used on average, everyday prisoners, but rather on known high value prisoners that have information about terrorist activities.

"2. I will make the preemptive argument that if you claim torture is legitimate, then you must also claim it can and should be used on anyone who is viewed as withholding valuable information."

This is where you hit one of those subjective grey areas. Where do you draw the line? How do you define "valuable information"? Is it appropriate to find out where someone hid stolen money? No. Is is appropriate to find where someone placed a bomb? Yes. I would say that the criteria that were until recently being used by the CIA were actually pretty good. "Is there a high probability that this person has information that will stop people from dying?" If the answer is yes, go for it.

"3. Torture is ineffective and rarely works. Individuals often suffer so much pain and anguish that they will say or do anything to stop the torture from continuing."

Under certain circumstances, this can be true. However, if you have a very fast verification method, say Special Forces teams standing by to act on the information, the subject's respite is very brief. As a result, this is usually only tried once.

I look forward to your response, and good luck.
Debate Round No. 1
C4747500

Pro

"I wholeheartedly agree with that statement. The people that we are using the "enhanced interrogation techniques" on are not human and are completely worthless other than for the information that they can provide. If an individual that plans and orchestrates attacks on schools, mosques, police stations, etc. hasn't forfeited all worth to the planet, who has? The techniques are not used on average, everyday prisoners, but rather on known high value prisoners that have information about terrorist activities."

First, this argument is circular. You can only justify the statement "they are completely worthless other than for the information they can provide" after they've been tortured, not before. So you claim 'It's legitimate to torture terrorists because we know they're withholding information, but we don't have proof that they know anything until they reveal it under torture'. You need some sort of external reasoning as to why we *know* that these individuals have information without using information gained from torture as a legitimation of the practice.

Under the logic you follow, it is okay to torture someone because 'they plan and orchestrate attacks on school, mosques, police stations, etc'. However, again this logic is flawed. You only suspect that they are involved in these things, and then legitimate that suspicion with information gained through torture.

It's like being back in the 15th century and having the Church call someone a heretic. They have no external proof that you are a heretic, and how do they get proof? They torture you until you confess, and then say "Look this person confessed! They are a heretic! Torture is legitimate!"

Second, if we know these individuals are terrorists, and we know they have plots to kill Americans, why must we use torture on them? There have been individuals kept in Guantanamo for 5 years now without any charge brought against them. Is it really logical to say that they have compelling knowledge of an imminent threat to the USA when they haven't seen daylight in 5 years?

There is no situation in which torture can be considered legitimate by external reasoning. The only way you can legitimate torture is by the end result, forcing you to forgo the negative nature of the action itself.

The reasoning for torture can be defined as thus:

1. We *believe* that an individual has important information that they are withholding.

2. There is a pressing need to obtain this information.

3. We will go to any means, including causing psychological and physical harm in order to get the information.

4. The causing of that psychological and physical harm will be justified by the results we obtain.

This logic is inherently wrong:

It gives no value to the psychological and physical harm incurred in the process of torture.

When you evaluate on a means-ends basis, you must determine if the harm incurred in the means is outweighed by the potential harm incurred by the ends.

I would argue that to torture is to forgo the calculation of harm incurred in the means. You say "We don't care if we cause this person harm because we want the information from them." To allow torture is an unequivocal statement of disregard for human life.

Yes, human life, in entirety. There is no clear standard which we can apply which says 'it is legitimate to torture X person and not Y person" because at the point where we come to believe that A. Torture is legitimate and B. Y person is withholding valuable information, we can then apply torture to Y.

So to say that it is legitimate to torture some persons, you must also be willing to say that it is legitimate to torture *any* person that is believed to be withholding information.

Consider this scenario:

Your close family member/friend was involved in situation that could potentially relate to a terrorist attack. They have knowledge of the situation, but they don't want to say anything because their knowledge isn't certain and they're worried about getting it wrong, and getting the wrong person hurt.

Is it legitimate to torture them in order to get that information?

By your standards, yes it is. We can hold a Special Forces team to go check the information as soon as we get it from them.

My question is, what happens if they provide the information and it is wrong? Keep torturing them? Maybe eventually they'll give us good information, who knows.

For this reason, we have to consider that the harm incurred in torturing one person is equal to any end harm that could possibly come about. To legitimate torture is to declare that life in and of itself has no value, that the value of life is only arbitrary, and can be stripped away at the whim of a government or person.

I think that covers all your arguments actually, so I'll just write a little summary here.

The only way torture can be legitimated is if you have 100% external proof that a person *is* withholding information that will save other lives.

This is an unachievable standard, I know, and is the reason torture is never legitimate.

The only way to have a clear and uncertain brightline of when torture can and cannot be used is to have clear and distinct prior knowledge of someone who is withholding information.

Unless you can be 100% certain that someone is withholding information, then the act of torturing them is an act which can apply to all persons who you suspect of withholding valuable knowledge.

Since you can never be 100% certain, torture is never legitimate.

Thanks for debating, please let me know if any of that was unclear in a comment and I'll do my best to clear it up before your argument is due, kind've just wrote it on the spot here :)
RantingRob

Con

RantingRob forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
C4747500

Pro

:(

extend what I said, continue to the next round hopefully. I'd really actually like to debate this topic all the way through with someone.
RantingRob

Con

RantingRob forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
C4747500

Pro

Oh well. Posting this again. I'll get someone to debate it eventually I suppose lol.

needs more characters!
RantingRob

Con

RantingRob forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
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Vote Placed by qwerty15ster 8 years ago
qwerty15ster
C4747500RantingRobTied
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Vote Placed by Hypnodoc 8 years ago
Hypnodoc
C4747500RantingRobTied
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Vote Placed by sadolite 8 years ago
sadolite
C4747500RantingRobTied
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Vote Placed by C4747500 8 years ago
C4747500
C4747500RantingRobTied
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