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The Contender
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The use of torture is not justified or effective

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/6/2015 Category: Politics
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 687 times Debate No: 77328
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (1)
Votes (0)




There will be four rounds in this debate.
The first debate is for acceptance. You just have to say "I accept". Please do not start your arguments until the second round

1. No forfeits
2. No new arguments in the final round, though extra explanations of arguments already explained is allowed; R1 is just for acceptance
4. Maintain a civil and decorous atmosphere
5. No trolling
6. No K's of the topic
8. Violation of any of these rules or of any of the R1 set-up merits a loss
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you to eganbrooks100 for accepting this debate and also thank you to the voters for taking their time to read through the arguments to make an impartial decision

In every war, information is a weapon. And this information can be extracted through means of torture. A tool that over 141 countries around the world use, it can extract useful information that would otherwise be hard to gain. These countries have shown that the use of torture was useful in their cases, as they were able to gain access to terrorist plots, enemy movements, and other important pieces of information that could save lives. Before this debate starts, however, I would like to make some definitions:

Torture: The action or practice of inflicting emotional or physical pain to make them give up information

Justified: Having, done fore, or marked by a good legitimate reason (According to the New Oxford Dictionary)

Effective: Successful in producing a desired or intended result (According to the New Oxford Dictionary)

Keeping these definitions in mind, the opposition will show how its arguments are more rational and reasonable than the proposition's case, and why it has won this debate.

1) National Security
A) Security for a family
Any family wants to make sure that it's members are safe. The parents want to protect and nurture their children, and vice versa. However, without torture, this security becomes difficult. At first glance you might think, how will torture ever help a family? It's a single cog in an entire nation. Let take this as an example: A group has kidnapped the child of a family, and they threaten to kill him if the family does not hand over an extreme sum of money they do not have. The police capture a member of the group, but he refuses to reveal the location. Some might say that the use of torture in this case seems too radical to be of any use, however this is not the case. The infliction of either emotional or physical pain could be used to save a child's life and to prevent the group that kidnapped the child from getting any more power. Torture in this scenario is justified as it helped save a life, and it was effective as the kidnapper gave up the information of where the child was located.

B) Security for a nation
Let's take the child scenario to a bigger scale. Jean Lart"guy introduced the ticking-time bomb scenario in the novel Les Centurions. A version of this scenario takes on the following form:
1) A terrorist groups states that it has concealed a bomb in a nation's capital
2) The authorities have captured the leader of the group
3) He says that he knows where the bomb is, but he refuses to reveal the location
4) There is reasonable evidence that he will produce the information needed through the use of torture
5) If the information is extracted quickly enough, it is almost guaranteed that the bomb will be defused in time
Is, then, the use of torture justified? Yes it is. It is unethical to let morality condemn hundreds or thousands of people to an avoidable death. As this debate does not talk about the morality, it is evident that torturing the terrorist for the necessary information is justified as it is done for a legitimate reason, and it was effective, as it saved thousands of lives

2) The nature of torture
A) Boundaries of torture
Many people argue that torture is unjustified as the torturers would often go over the boundaries to inflict serious or mortal pain onto the terrorist. However, the government could pass laws that would only allow moderate or light torture that would extract the necessary information, yet would not inflict too much pain onto the terrorist. Light torturing methods such as humiliation or sleep deprivation would be used only as a last resort to gain information necessary. Thus, torture would be effective in gaining necessary information.

B) Is it effective?
Many critics of torture claim that it is ineffective due to the fact people will say anything to just stop the pain, thus the information gained may not be reliable. However, there will always be some truth that will be extracted, that would be useful to the authorities. For example, the torture of Guy Fawkes in 1605 helped to gain information of who is co-conspirators were and if there were any more bombs hidden around London after they had tried to blow up King James I and the British Parliament. George Tenet, the CIA's director until 2004, had said that the use of torture "had saved lives, disrupted plots and provided invaluable information in the war against terrorism", mentioning that the program on it's own was "worth more than the FBI, the CIA and the National Security Agency put together have been able to tell us".

Thus, with these two arguments, the opposition has taken this debate home, and will explain it's own arguments further in the second round, while rebutting against the proposition's arguments.




Firstly, you said that you were going to make some definitions. You haven't made definitions, you have quoted them. This is the first hole in your argument. Torture is more than just about giving up information. It can also be used as revenge, punishment etc. Hence your argument is based a limited definition of torture.

Secondly, your definition of justified includes subjectiveness. Example; who is to define what a good legitimate reason is?
A good legitimate reason could be based upon morality, culture, religions etc.

Thirdly, who determines what is successful? Success is often debatable depending upon political alignment, cultural belief etc. Even when success can be measured directly by use of numbers. Example : in a game of football, the coach of the loosing team may often point to it being a successful game due to the experience gained by younger players.

Your definitions are limited in their scope and the examples you give to support your argument are limited. The basic argument is really centred around the question, 'does the end justify the means?'. The examples you used are related to national security, the nature of torture and the effectiveness of torture. Your argument is based upon limited definitions as indicated above. The broader debate centres around 'does the end justify the means?'. The examples given by the negative team are limited in scope and hence do not address the wider and open question of 'does the end justify the means?'.

Situational analysis will consider examples beyond the limited definitions given by the opposition. Definitions given have already been shown to be subjective. Situational analysis will also give us subjective outcomes however, there are numerous examples where the use of torture is used with no successful outcomes. In fact, the outcome from the use of torture can result in the opposite of what was intended. For example; torturing a person for a certain belief can result in those beliefs becoming the beliefs of previous non-believers. For example: the debate surrounding climate change, gay marriage, death penalty, euthanasia etc have been shown this to be the case. In the above given examples, the torture is not necessarily physical but mental. People who do not believe in climate change are often referred to as 'climate change deniers'. This causes much anguish for those who believe only that the science supporting climate change and the figures used have been cherry picked.

In conclusion, it has been shown that the arguments of the opposition is not only subjective but also limited. Given my argument, the opposition will have to concede that their argument is limited when considering situational analysis and the question of 'does the end justify the means?'. Hence, logic would determine that the affirmative case has clearly outmanoeuvred the opposition.
Debate Round No. 2


In times of war, the military needs information. That information is the key to winning the conflict between two nations, and thus governments will do anything to gain this information that could save lives and help other people. The use of torture can help extract this information. Before I move on, however, I would like to clarify some things and also rebut against the proposition's claims.

First of all, the proposition claims that I have not made definitions, but instead quoted them. However, this is still making definitions, and it is the burden of the first speaker to make the definitions that will define the debate. Of course, torture can also be used as revenge or punishment, however this debate is focusing on the use of torture by governments, not by individuals to use torture to their own pleasure. The proposition also claims that my definition of justified includes subjectivity, yet it really does not. Many people, if not all, can agree that my reason of protecting the lives and rights of every citizen, is a good legitimate reason, and the opposition would like to challenge the proposition to give any reason to doubt this fact. Also, the term successful is merely used to allow a government to align their views into one goal. We have to consider something successful, otherwise there would be no goals in life. Lastly, the proposition's arguments against my definitions are purely hypothetical and philosophical. He merely states that "a term can mean anything due to a person's experience or ideology". The proposition expects the opposition to concede just due to the fact it has questioned my definitions of whether it would be universally accepted. We have to use hard facts to decide things, not based upon whether a single person will agree with something or not. If everything is open to be questioned, we can never be sure if something is right, which means neither the proposition nor opposition will win this debate. We have to agree on something, and it is the burden of the first speaker to lay the foundations for the debate.

Secondly, the proposition has made no arguments or its own, but instead just focused on what definitions I made and rebutted them. I have already proved that the proposition's rebuttals are ineffective. The only argument that he makes is "the outcome from the use of torture can result in the opposite of what was intended", going back to his concept (not argument) of what subjectivity is. Also, what he describes as torture due to the fact that people may have some sadness due to the fact their evidence could have been "cherry picked". Is a mother who scolds her child inflicting torture? In both cases, this is not an act or torment, but rather just a single shallow moment of sadness. As I have defined before, torture is the action or practice of inflicting emotional or physical pain to make them give up information. Furthermore, I have established that the question of whether torture should be used by the government. Instead, the proposition merely moves on to lobbyists who are outside the realm of this debate.

Thirdly, The proposition has stated that the outcome from the use of torture can result in the opposite of what was intended, claiming that the beliefs of the person tortured will become of the belief of previous non-believers. However, he has no evidence to back up this claim, just thrusting out examples for the opposition to interpret. We cannot simply say "just because this person was tortured, the reason why other people are following his beliefs is because he was tortured". Most people agree with the use of torture, therefore it would be unlikely they would follow other beliefs, just because someone was tortured by the government. Instead, propaganda or lobbyists would be responsible

Lastly, the proposition has used no sources to back up it's own arguments. It has used hypothetical situations and claims for which it has not backed up with evidence. Meanwhile, the opposition has listed numerous sources it has used that prove it's own arguments are correct and logical. Thus, the opposition scores on this point.

Now moving to further explaining my own arguments through a real-life example, backed up with a source, in which the use of torture has worked.
People would naturally want to protect their own kin. Torture can be an effective method of doing this. There has been a case in 2002 where a man called Magnus Gafgen confessed to the murder of a child through the use of torture. Although it was too late to save the child's life, there was at least justice for the parents to whom Magnus demanded 1 million euros for a child already believed to be deceased. This scenario has proved that torture can work, and provide justice that people need.

After rebutting against the proposition's arguments and rebuttals, it is clear that the opposition has the upper ground in logic, due to the fact that the proposition has only mentioned hypothetical situations not backed up with evidence, and has the good of the people protected through it's arguments.

The opposition has clearly broken through the proposition's contentions and now asks for it to provide its claims.



eganbrooks100 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


First of all, before I end this debate, I would like to once again thank the voters for taking their time to read through this debate to make an unbiased and fair decision.

Torture is a controversial topic, yet it is evident that the opposition has won this debate for several important reasons. The most pressing is that the proposition has not stuck to the agreements that the opposition has set for this debate. I have said in point one that there should be "1. No forfeits" and also specifically said that the violation of this rule, or any rules set merits a loss. The proposition had accepted these terms, yet he has forfeited the 3rd rounds. Thus, since he has violated this rule, this technically means he has automatically lost this debate. However, I will continue on with my arguments anyways.

The second reason why the opposition has won this debate is due to the fact he has made no clear arguments. Instead of making any contentious, he simply states that my definitions are limited (which I had rebutted in the third round). His points within the second round are mainly hypothetical, saying that whether torture is justified is judged differently by everyone. However, he has not answered his side of the debate. He was supposed to argue that torture is not justified nor effective, yet he has not argued for this point. Thus, since he has not answered his side of the debate, it is once again evident that the opposition has won this debate.

As he has forfeited the third round, I cannot make any more rebuttals to his claims.

The opposition has clearly won this debate due to the fact that the proposition has forfeited the third round, which merits an automatic loss according to the terms set in the first round, and that he has made no sufficient arguments. I now ask the voters to vote, hopefully for the opposition.


eganbrooks100 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Hayd 1 year ago
I would accept if the debate was "Torture is not morally justified" not the effectiveness part, are you willing to change it?
No votes have been placed for this debate.