The Instigator
Freeman
Pro (for)
Winning
34 Points
The Contender
mongoose
Con (against)
Losing
29 Points

There are situations conceivable when torture can be justified.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/5/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,951 times Debate No: 9611
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (25)
Votes (15)

 

Freeman

Pro

Imagine that you have been carted off against your will to some dank and sadistic dungeon. Upon arriving you are immediately forced to confront an ethical dilemma. Your captors tell you that you must torture an innocent man that now sits in front of you for 5 minutes. If you fail to comply with this request they will torture the man anyway and 100 other innocent people. And not only will they torture these innocent people they will torture them all to the point of death. So, now you must make a choice. You can torture this innocent person for five minutes and therefore save his life. Or you can refuse to torture him, but in doing this he and 100 other innocent people will be tortured to the point of death.

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Conclusion
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Given this state of affairs, in particular, it would seem that there is no harm in torturing this innocent man since doing so is the only way to save his life and the life of 100 other people.

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Definitions:
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Torture- For the purposes of this Convention, torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions. http://www.hrweb.org...

Justification - something (such as a fact or circumstance) that shows an action to be reasonable or necessary.

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Guidelines:
========

This debate is not concerned with whether or not the situation I outlined is plausible or likely to occur. Moreover, creating alternative choices to this situation is not allowed.

Semantics will not be allowed and good luck to whoever accepts.

All the best,
Freeman
mongoose

Con

My opponent presents a scenario which is, truly, inconceivable. There is no reason or purpose. That aside, there are always more options that those that were presented.

1. Kill the man. This will cause him to enter nirvana, where he will not suffer. This would be just, but not torture. The captors wouldn't really complain. [1]

2. Revolt, with the gun I had that you never mentioned that my captors took away from me.

3. Slip the man a drug to numb him, then do what would otherwise be torture. The captors would have every reason to believe that the man is being tortured, even though he is not.

If I am not allowed to use these other options, because of some supernatural restriction, then the situation truly is inconceivable, and it does not affirm the resolution. Therefore, I must be able to use the above options.

Semantics: The study of relationships between signs and symbols and what they represent. [2]
I am not using semantics, as by my definition. If this is considered semantics, then my opponent's defining of justification would also be considered semantics, thus granting me victory as he broke his own rules before the debate even started.

Inconceivable: incredible [3]
Incredible: so extraordinary as to seem impossible [4]

The idea of a supernatural force forbidding me from doing anything besides torture the man or nothing seems quite impossible, especially because it forbids me from breathing, sitting, or standing.

Clearly, my opponent's argument isn't feasible.

Good luck.

[1] http://www.Debate.org...
[2] http://dictionary.reference.com...
[3] http://dictionary.reference.com...
[4] http://dictionary.reference.com...
Debate Round No. 1
Freeman

Pro

Let me begin by thanking Mongoose for accepting this debate.

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Contention 1: Given my opponents definition his argument still fails
==========

"Inconceivable- not conceivable; unimaginable; unthinkable unbelievable; incredible." - mongoose (from his source) http://dictionary.reference.com...

By focusing on only one or two words in this definition you are guilty of observation selection. You picked one aspect of your definition that was convenient for your argument and ignored the others.

----> "Clearly, my opponent's argument isn't feasible."- mongoose

Feasibility- The state of being feasible or possible. http://en.wiktionary.org...

My situation is completely possible. It doesn't violate the laws of physics and it would certainly be possible as long as there are at least 110 people on the planet. Since there are at least 6 billion people on the planet I win this point. And since my opponent didn't define conceivable in his second round I will define it below.

Conceivable - within the realm of possibility.

----> "The idea of a supernatural force forbidding me from doing anything besides torture the man or nothing seems quite impossible, especially because it forbids me from breathing, sitting, or standing."

My argument doesn't assume that you are utterly helpless by a supernatural force either explicitly or implicitly. This entire point is nothing more than a straw man argument. [1] I will appeal to the fairness of the audience. Nowhere in my first round did I mention the intervention of supernatural forces or any logically compulsory form of behavior. By refusing to comply with a demand to torture you would still be able to breathe. Don't be silly. There are only too choices logically possible. You can torture the individual or you can choose not too. Doing nothing is only one part of the larger option of not torturing the man. And I have already established the consequences of this choice.

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Conclusion
========

Clearly there is at least one situation conceivable when torture can be justified. (Resolution affirmed)

Good luck :)

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

Con

It is fully within my rights to choose the word used for the definition. Incredible is a definition of inconceivable. I can ignore the other definitions if so I choose.

My opponent claims that nothing in his argument is against physical possibility. He clearly states: "Moreover, creating alternative choices to this situation is not allowed." The only reason for it to not be allowed is if there is some other force that prevents me from taking such actions. There is no way in which I am conceivably disallowed from choosing other, better options. My opponent also says that I haven't defined conceivable in my second round. This would be impossible, as this is my second round. I shall now prove him false:

Conceivable: Antonym: Inconceivable. [1] If it is inconceivable, then it is not conceivable.

My opponent then states that I am using a straw man argument. As I have shown, my opponent is indeed insisting that I am disallowed from using other options due to an undefined supernatural force.

After reviewing my opponent's definition of torture, I have found that I would not be able to torture him as the definition requires:

"Torture- For the purposes of this Convention, torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession," I don't want information from him, "punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed," I'm not punishing him because of the faults of him or others, "or intimidating or coercing him or a third person," I would not try to intimidate him or coerce him, "or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity," I am not discriminating against him.

Thus, I can't torture him as my opponent requires.

Conclusion:

My opponent insists that there is no restriction on my actions. If this is so, then I start a revolt with the gun I smuggled in. If this is not so, then a supernatural force is restricting me, making the situation inconceivable. Either way, the torture would not be just as other options must be present.

Thank you.

[1] http://thesaurus.reference.com...
Debate Round No. 2
Freeman

Pro

Let me begin by thanking mongoose for his time and for his writing.

Take special notice to the fact that my opponent has been breaking my rules left and right throughout this debate. For example, despite the fact that I have stated that semantics would not be tolerated one of the first things he does in his first round is to proceed by playing semantics with the word semantics. It would appear that casuistry of this sort has no practical limits. I apologize to the people that were expecting a more meaningful debate.

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Examining the arguments:
===================

My opponent's case is essentially comprised of only two contentions. Upon close examination neither of these contentions holds any water.

-----> My definition of torture doesn't allow for torture in the situation I have outlined.

Lets pay close attention to the very first part of my definition for torture.

"Torture- For the purposes of this Convention, torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as"

The last three words are very important, which are "such purposes as". What do these words mean exactly? For the sake of convenience we can shorten this phrase to "such as" since it essentially means the same thing as its predecessor. Both phrases are used to identify lists.

such as- (idiomatic) like, of the kind mentioned. http://en.wiktionary.org...

By this light we can clearly see that the words "such as" or "such purposes as" are used to set off a list of things relating to a certain kind of something. This doesn't logically mean that everything in a given list contains the entirety of the "kind" of thing that is being referred to, insofar as the definition for something contains a version of the phrase "such as".

For example, I could say that my favorite fruits are sweet fruits "such as" strawberries, mangoes, and apples. This doesn't imply either explicitly or implicitly that the only fruits I like are strawberries, mangoes, and apples. Nor does this imply that strawberries, mangoes, and apples are the only fruits in existence that are sweet. To argue otherwise would require one to be illogical. Having established this it logically follows that the entirety of what constitutes torture would not be limited by my definition because it contains the essential phrase, "such purposes as". And from a proper exegesis of the definition it is clear that the qualification for torture involves severe punishment to achieve some goal. Given this analysis I will add one more example of torture that is salient with my definition and meaningful to this debate. "Torture- For the purposes of this Convention, torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as" – achieving some political or social goal like saving the lives of a group of people.

-----> The scenario I outlined is physically impossible.

There is nothing logically impossible about my situation. It assumes from the outset that there are no other good choices to choose from, for the sake of the argument. Your captors have stripped you of weapons and any other means of retaliation. This is why I stated that creating other choices wouldn't be allowed. My opponent created three bogus options for himself as escape methods to avoid the resolution, none of which are permitted because I put a rule in my first round that these wouldn't be allowed. After doing this he claims that these must be allowed or else my ethical dilemma would somehow be violating the laws of physics. It's a shame that any time should have to go into fending off these baseless assertions. The only thing that would violate the laws of physics in the context of this debate would be the creation of the gun and anesthetics that magically pop into existence ex nihilo for the convenience of my antagonist's argument. Clearly there are lots of ways this event could be different, but in order to avoid the sort of elusion my opponent has tried to engage in I have disallowed creating them. Only two choices are logically possible in my situation. The first would be to torture the man and the second would be to not torture him. Consequentially every choice conceivable would either fall under one of these two categories. And I have already shown earlier what the outcomes of these choices would be.

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Conclusion
========

After my opponent's fallacious arguments have been disposed of he doesn't have a leg to stand on. And clearly the scenario I have outlined would be a situation where torture would be justified. (Vote Pro)
mongoose

Con

My opponent says that I broke the rules by defining semantics as something different than he expected. However, by the current definition of semantics, then I have not broken any rules.

I do agree that my argument of torture having a definition that doesn't include causing pain because one is forced to doesn't work, though my opponent could have provided a better definition.

My opponent then argues that the situation is logically possible. This means that nothing can stop me from revolting, possibly using the instruments given to him to torture the man, or the gun that I have. My opponent decided in the last round to finally mention that they took my weapons:" Your captors have stripped you of weapons and any other means of retaliation." How was I supposed to know that? The third round is too late to add something like that to the resolution. Also, they then give me instruments of torture. These should be good ingredients in a revolt. My opponent also claims that the fact that he declared me not allowed to kill the man as reason that I am not allowed to kill him. This involves an external, supernatural factor. In that case, it would be just to break this rule if it is all that forces me to torture the man. My opponent then says that they are all allowed, because they would fit in one of the two allowed categories. This is completely contradictory:
"My opponent created three bogus options for himself as escape methods to avoid the resolution, none of which are permitted because I put a rule in my first round that these wouldn't be allowed."
"Consequentially every choice conceivable would either fall under one of these two categories."

This is also contradictory because my opponent claims that no matter what I do, if it does not include me torturing the man for five minutes, the captors will kill 100 others and the first man. This means that even if I kill them all, it seems that they'll come back to life and spread the torture. This is physically impossible.

In conclusion, torture is not just in the situation given by my opponent, because the situation is impossible as my opponent describes, and there are other options that could be considered just. My opponent has never argued that these other options aren't just, just that they are not allowed by the magical rule that restricts my every move. This is the leg I stand on. My opponent's only argument seems to be that there are no other options. I have clearly proved this false.

Thank you.
Debate Round No. 3
25 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by GeorgeCarlinWorshipper 7 years ago
GeorgeCarlinWorshipper
Voted with PRO for the reason that pro's argument was one supposed situation where torture would be justified rather than the entirety of his reasoning, and CON failed to prove that there was no CONCEIVABLE situation where torture would be justified, as there is a difference between concievability and feasibility. CON's refutes involve elements never mentioned in the original situation, such as the existence of nirvana and CON's possession of a gun. I feel that CON should've addressed the idea that torture is never justifiable instead of spending the whole time arguing about this one supposed situation.
Posted by Haezed 7 years ago
Haezed
A torture debate with no reference whatsoever to Jack Bauer?? ;)
Posted by wjmelements 7 years ago
wjmelements
lol
Posted by mongeese 7 years ago
mongeese
Of course, when your only source is a debate with the votes off by 4, and the pro-death guy claiming to play devil's advocate...
Posted by mongoose 7 years ago
mongoose
I would have if my opponent said anything about the subject, but he entirely ignored it, and thus conceded it.
Posted by wjmelements 7 years ago
wjmelements
I agree. Mongoose should have pursued the idea that murder is in fact great.
Posted by Freeman 7 years ago
Freeman
Mongoose, with all due respect, your arguments were terrible and your reasoning was even worse. People like you make it impossible to debate anything meaningfully.

--à"This debate is not concerned with whether or not the situation I outlined is plausible or likely to occur. Moreover, creating alternative choices to this situation is not allowed."

You added extra information into the situation, which is unacceptable. If you're debating the ethics of something, then you debate it on its own merits. Reshaping the scenario to your own liking is pointless.

Imagine debating the ethics of the trolley car situation with someone. Imagine further that this person kept on insisting that they didn't need to pull the switch because they would use their ninja powers to jump on the trolley and dismantle it before anyone got hurt. http://en.wikipedia.org...

The first argument you stole from wjmelements was pretty interesting and it's a shame you didn't pursue it any further. That would have made the debate more fun.
Posted by mongoose 7 years ago
mongoose
My opponent could have argued that one had to torture a man for valuable information to save lives, but he never did.
Posted by mongoose 7 years ago
mongoose
It was fun.
Posted by Meganrihanne1992x 7 years ago
Meganrihanne1992x
I dont understand why Con, challenged this debate if he supports waterboarding?

does sound very contridictary con.
15 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Arguments to Pro for providing the only arguments. Conduct against Con for doing exactly what Pro asked not to do in round 1 which was clearly displayed before the debate could be accepted. This was unexpected.
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