The Instigator
Cerebral_Narcissist
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
feverish
Con (against)
Winning
10 Points

Those Convicted of Serious Offences should be used for Medicine

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/25/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,284 times Debate No: 9556
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (9)
Votes (2)

 

Cerebral_Narcissist

Pro

It is my position that those convicted of the most serious offences, for example murder, have forfeited their human rights and deserve execution. Furthermore that the best method of execution is to utilise them for medical experimentation and/or organ donorship.

My initial argument rests on these points,
1: Rights carry obligations. By committing such heinous offences the criminal should forfeit all rights.
2: Crimes such as murder, rape and terrorism are such terrible crimes that the criminal is unlikely ever to be 'rehabilitated' and should never be freed to endanger society.
3: Permanent incarceration is a drain on the resources of the State and it is amoral to expect the taxpayer to support such people. Whilst imprisoned there is always the chance that the prisoner may harm prison staff or escape back into society.
4: Simple execution fails to give anything back to society.
5: Medical testing on animals raises ethical concerns, people are more concerned with the well being of an average rabbit than they are of a rapist.
6: Medical testing on animals is of limited scientific value.
7: The testing of new drugs or procedures on patients or paid volunteers is unethical, why should normal members of society be used as guinea pigs when we have a surplus of unproductive and worthless criminals?

I would like to thank my opponent in advance for accepting this debate.
feverish

Con

Much thanks to Cerebral_Narcissist for implementing this death penalty debate with a twist.

The resolution in this debate is not the most clear but I will avoid the obvious semantic argument of misinterpreting my opponent's position as advocating that violent criminals should be consumed as a prescription medication.

It would be helpful to have a clearer definition of "serious offences". The examples given include murder, rape and terrorism but it is unclear if these are the only crimes that my opponent advocates this penalty for, or exactly where he draws the line. I would personally include burglary, large scale fraud and arson as "serious offences" but I'm not sure if my opponent recommends the death penalty for these crimes.

My opponent is arguing two distinct issues:

1. The death penalty should exist as punishment for "the most serious offences" (although the specific offences are not clearly defined.)
2. Criminals facing the death penalty should be experimented on and have their organs harvested for the sake of medical science.

As the second case can not apply without the first, it is on the very existence of the death penalty that my arguments will focus, rather than the specific fate of those convicted, although I will examine the second issue as it arises.

I will address my opponent's arguments before presenting my own.

----

1:"Rights carry obligations. By committing such heinous offences the criminal should forfeit all rights."

It is difficult to respond appropriately to this point without having a clear idea of what "rights" my opponent refers to. It seems that he accepts that some rights exists and his earlier use of the phrase "human rights" suggests that he may be referring to the rights set out in the UDHR.

http://en.wikipedia.org...

The whole point of 'universal' human rights is that they are universal and apply to all, without exception. To forfeit one's human rights is to forfeit one's humanity and I'm sure that Pro is not suggesting that people transform into another species when they commit terrible crimes.

The most basic and fundamental of all rights is the right to life, execution clearly violates this.

I have yet to hear of a Universal Declaration of Human Obligations.

----

2: "Crimes such as murder, rape and terrorism are such terrible crimes that the criminal is unlikely ever to be 'rehabilitated' and should never be freed to endanger society."

This is a baseless opinion presented with no evidence whatsoever.

Many offenders, even those convicted of the most horrific crimes have been successfully rehabilitated.

http://www.legaled.com...
http://www.insideprison.com...

Consider the hypothetical example of a woman who has been raped. The criminal justice system lets her down, the case is thrown out of court and her attacker walks free. She then plots and murders him. Is it fair to execute this woman? Is there not a good chance that she can be rehabilitated?

Even if someone could not be rehabilitated at all then they don't necessarily need to ever be set free but this connects with the next point.

----

3: "Permanent incarceration is a drain on the resources of the State and it is amoral to expect the taxpayer to support such people."

It is a well documented fact that the death penalty is drastically more expensive than the alternative option of life imprisonment.

http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org...
http://answers.yahoo.com...

"Whilst imprisoned there is always the chance that the prisoner may harm prison staff or escape back into society."

Escape is extremely rare. Much,much rarer than wrongful conviction. Escape from maximum security prison is almost unheard of. Almost all escapes occur during work release or outdoor programmes and almost all escapees are recaptured straight away.
http://www.dc.state.fl.us...

Prison guards are adequately trained, equipped, resourced, paid and mean to defend themselves and other staff.

----

4: "Simple execution fails to give anything back to society."

Agreed. Complicated execution is not much better however.

Linking back to the last point, life in prison with forced or voluntary labour can also be very productive and make substantial contributions to society.

http://berkeley.edu...

----

5. "Medical testing on animals raises ethical concerns"

Agreed.

"people are more concerned with the well being of an average rabbit than they are of a rapist."

I am thoroughly unconvinced by this assertion. My opponent will need to back this up.

I don't think the majority of people think animals have equivalent rights to humans.
http://www.pulpless.com...

----

6: "Medical testing on animals is of limited scientific value."

This is true in the sense that there is a limit on how valuable any scientific endeavour is and of course the fact that there are existing ethical limitations on their treatment but there is a great deal of value in animal testing, particularly on animals with DNA patterns very similar to our own.

"Supporters of the practice, such as the British Royal Society, argue that virtually every medical achievement in the 20th century relied on the use of animals in some way"
http://en.wikipedia.org...

----

7: "The testing of new drugs or procedures on patients or paid volunteers is unethical, why should normal members of society be used as guinea pigs when we have a surplus of unproductive and worthless criminals?"

It is with this point that the inconsistency of Pro's human rights argument becomes most exposed. If it is unethical to experiment on a paid volunteer as my opponent claims it is, then this is actually infringing on that individual's liberty. How can voluntary experimentation be unethical but forcing it on the unwilling be perfectly acceptable.

Many criminals, including some murderers are perfectly 'normal' people. As noted in my responses to previous points, criminals can make productive and worthwhile contributions to society. Dehumanising them achieves nothing.

________

After addressing my opponent's points I have limited space with which to present my own arguments. I reserve the right to add new ones in the next round.

1. The risk of wrongful conviction.

With the application of the death penalty it is inevitable that innocent people will be executed. Such an act by the state illegitimises the entire justice system and is morally abhorrent. For examples of such cases see these links:

http://officeofstrategicinfluence.com...
http://www.abanet.org...

There is currently huge controversy in Texas over the execution of a man five years ago where forensic evidence is now found to be at fault.

http://www.kwtx.com...

-----

2. Moral hypocrisy.

The first example of a "serious offence" that my opponent offers is murder so let us focus for a moment on murder.

Murder is a legal term but it is also a moral one that covers all kinds of intentional killing.

http://en.wiktionary.org...

A state that imposes the death penalty is claiming to condemn murder while carrying it out.

Unless one believes that two wrongs make a right execution can not be justified.

----

3. The Brutalisation effect.

There is a great deal of evidence to suggest that rather than acting as a deterrent, state execution can actually cause an increase in the homicide rate.

http://bpp.wharton.upenn.edu...
http://www.prisonactivist.org...

----

Out of space, so I'll hand over to my opponent.

Thanks.
Debate Round No. 1
Cerebral_Narcissist

Pro

My opponent quotes my contention as,
1:"Rights carry obligations. By committing such heinous offences the criminal should forfeit all rights."

And replies,
"It is difficult to respond appropriately to this point without having a clear idea of what "rights" my opponent refers to. It seems that he accepts that some rights exists and his earlier use of the phrase "human rights" suggests that he may be referring to the rights set out in the UDHR."

I am referring to the generic concept of rights and the fact that they are restricted as a punishment. The basic right to freedom is negated when someone is assigned a custodial sentence. The right to life is negated in certain countries and states by the death penalty. There exists already a common consensus that rights carry obligations and may be withdrawn.

"2: "Crimes such as murder, rape and terrorism are such terrible crimes that the criminal is unlikely ever to be 'rehabilitated' and should never be freed to endanger society...Many offenders, even those convicted of the most horrific crimes have been successfully rehabilitated."

However the contention is that rehabilitation is unlikely, your links suggest that rehabilitation occurs in specific cases and that there exist systems of rehabilitation they do not appear to comment on the likelihood of rehabilitation. Many offenders may have been rehabilitated, what is relevant is how many have been compared to how many have not.

"Consider the hypothetical example of a woman who has been raped. The criminal justice system lets her down, the case is thrown out of court and her attacker walks free. She then plots and murders him. Is it fair to execute this woman? Is there not a good chance that she can be rehabilitated?"

Though this hypothetical situation is an interesting and thought provoking one, it is not a specific counter-argument against my proposition. It could equally be used to challenge the contention that rapists should not be imprisoned. In such an event the Jury may even ignore the law, and instead return a non-guilty vote purely out of sympathy for the woman or some sense of 'natural justice'. Her defence lawyers would have a reasonable chance of creating the impression that her mental state renders her unfit for trial or unsuitable for the charge of murder. Depending upon the exact circumstances she may even be able to plead self-defence. Also the option of the death penalty does not mean that all crimes of a certain category would warrant the death penalty. I am arguing for the death penalty in a specific form, no part of my argument suggests a negation of normal judicial discretion.

"3: "Permanent incarceration is a drain on the resources of the State and it is amoral to expect the taxpayer to support such people."

It is a well documented fact that the death penalty is drastically more expensive than the alternative option of life imprisonment."

No it is not, it is well documented fact that the US system of placing someone on death row for many years whilst staging numerous appeals, retrials and legal arguments is more expensive. It is obvious that simply hanging someone, wheeling them into an operating theatre, or handing them over as experimental material are cheaper alternatives than incarcerating someone in solitary confinement for decades. Not every country that employs the death penalty does so with such expensive inefficiency.

"Escape is extremely rare. Much,much rarer than wrongful conviction. Escape from maximum security prison is almost unheard of. Almost all escapes occur during work release or outdoor programmes and almost all escapees are recaptured straight away.
http://www.dc.state.fl.us......

Prison guards are adequately trained, equipped, resourced, paid and mean to defend themselves and other staff."

True but the risk does exist and it has occurred. It is clearly superior to negate this admittedly low risk and replace it with zero risk. Prison guards are trained to deal with this issue, and can expect this problem. But when these problems can be reduced why not reduce them?

"4: "Simple execution fails to give anything back to society."

Agreed. Complicated execution is not much better however."

Complicated execution is an assumption and not at issue here.

"Linking back to the last point, life in prison with forced or voluntary labour can also be very productive and make substantial contributions to society."

Agreed, so my opponent supports forced labour in medical research which is part of what I am arguing for?

I argued,
"people are more concerned with the well being of an average rabbit than they are of a rapist."

My opponent replies,
"I am thoroughly unconvinced by this assertion. My opponent will need to back this up."

Via this index I can see several charities for animals, not a single charity for rapists.
http://www.charitygiftcertificates.org...

I stated,
6: "Medical testing on animals is of limited scientific value."

My opponent points out,
"Supporters of the practice, such as the British Royal Society, argue that virtually every medical achievement in the 20th century relied on the use of animals in some way"
http://en.wikipedia.org......

I accept this, but it does negate the fact that testing on humans provides superior experimental data.

Would the thalidomide incident have occurred if medical companies could use prisoners for test subjects?
http://en.wikipedia.org...

I argued,
7: "The testing of new drugs or procedures on patients or paid volunteers is unethical, why should normal members of society be used as guinea pigs when we have a surplus of unproductive and worthless criminals?"

My opponent counters,
"It is with this point that the inconsistency of Pro's human rights argument becomes most exposed. If it is unethical to experiment on a paid volunteer as my opponent claims it is, then this is actually infringing on that individual's liberty. How can voluntary experimentation be unethical but forcing it on the unwilling be perfectly acceptable."

A normal member of society has rights, though they may choose to be test subjects and be paid for it this subjects them to risk, I consider this to be amoral in the same way as encouraging poor members of society to sell their 'spare' kidneys. Voluntary experimentation on a normal human being with rights is unethical, forced experimentation on a human being with no rights is not, as they have rejected human rights it is the moral equivalent of testing on an inanimate object. Though I expect my opponent to disagree this argument is simple a continuation of my previous contention that rights carry obligations.

"Many criminals, including some murderers are perfectly 'normal' people. As noted in my responses to previous points, criminals can make productive and worthwhile contributions to society. Dehumanising them achieves nothing."

Murderers have committed a crime that warrants total disgust, they are not perfectly normal people. They can make productive and worthwhile contributions to society, dehumanising them makes this productivity easier to achieve. This is simply a logical continuation of the very same 'dehumanisation' that society already employs to allow them to be incarcerated or forced into chain gangs.

My opponent counter argues,
"With the application of the death penalty it is inevitable that innocent people will be executed."

This can not be entirely negated, but the courts are fully aware of this issue the risk of which can be lowered with improved rigour with regards forensics and allowing the death penalty only in the most egregious of cases.

My opponent argues that the death penalty is hypocritical.
"A state that imposes the death penalty is claiming to condemn murder while carrying it out."

In some situations is it permissible to take life, in others it is not. There is no hypocrisy here.
feverish

Con

I believe that my opponent has contradicted himself somewhat and effectively conceded the debate.

His resolution and opening argument leave little room for doubt: "THOSE CONVICTED of the most serious offences, for example murder, have forfeited their human rights and deserve execution."

Not 'in some cases' or as an 'optional alternative' but simply that anyone convicted of murder or other (still only vaguely defined) "serious offences" should be put to death.

However in round 2, his position seems to have changed: "the option of the death penalty does not mean that all crimes of a certain category would warrant the death penalty."

Some murders but not others?

This would clearly be a different debate than the one instigated by my opponent and accepted by myself. I intend to continue arguing against the original resolution that was presented.

__________

1.

Pro: "The basic right to freedom is negated when someone is assigned a custodial sentence."

While this is true to a certain extent, 'freedom' and 'liberty' like 'rights' are difficult to pin down.
I would argue that prisoners maintain certain freedoms in terms of opportunities to educate themselves, to work and to pursue certain leisure activities like sport or reading.
Certainly their freedom is restricted in terms of their movement and accommodation but who except the mega-rich truly has the 'freedom' to travel or live wherever they want?
Prisoners other human rights, most importantly the right to life and to personal security are still upheld. Abuse of prisoners shouldn't be and is not acceptable.

---

2.

Pro: "Many offenders may have been rehabilitated, what is relevant is how many have been compared to how many have not."

No, as the resolution advocates applying the death penalty to all murderers, rapists, terrorists and unspecified others, the fact that many offenders (however small a percentage) could instead be rehabilitated is entirely relevant.

Within this point my opponent goes on to suggest it would indeed not be fair to execute the rape victim/murderer in my hypothetical example, thereby negating the resolution.

---

3.

Pro: "It is obvious that simply hanging someone, wheeling them into an operating theatre, or handing them over as experimental material are cheaper alternatives than incarcerating someone in solitary confinement for decades. Not every country that employs the death penalty does so with such expensive inefficiency."

This may be true but if we were to accept 'budget' execution trials then the risk of convicting innocents would be multiplied significantly.

In response to the point of convicting innocents my opponent said: "the courts are fully aware of this issue the risk of which can be lowered with improved rigour with regards forensics and allowing the death penalty only in the most egregious of cases."

These two arguments by my opponent seem to cancel each other out.

Also within this point but regarding the issue of prison staff safety, my opponent says:"It is clearly superior to negate this admittedly low risk and replace it with zero risk."

The only way to achieve this would be either to execute or physically cripple all prisoners, even those who have only committed minor offences, or alternatively to build fully automated prisons (ridiculously expensive and also well off topic).

----

4.

Pro:"so my opponent supports forced labour in medical research which is part of what I am arguing for?"

Nice try but labour = work and is active by definition, unlike being experimented on which is entirely passive. The resolution clearly includes execution which I have definitely not expressed support for.

---

5.

My opponent provides a link to an index of charities. He claims the fact that there are charities for animals but not rapists proves his assertion that people care more for rabbits than rapists. However a rabbit just one kind of animal and a rapist is just one (thankfully rare) kind of person. Looking at the list again, I see that there are far more human related charities than animal related ones.

---

6.

Pro: "testing on humans provides superior experimental data [to testing on animals]"

It is not worth compromising human rights in this way when sufficient information can be obtained from animal tests.

Pro: "Would the thalidomide incident have occurred if medical companies could use prisoners for test subjects?"

Presumably it would have still occurred but to a different group of people but how can we really be sure?

7.

Pro: "A normal member of society has rights, though they may choose to be test subjects and be paid for it this subjects them to risk, I consider this to be amoral"

If it is truly their choice and the risk is only to them, then preventing then from doing this is clearly a violation of their liberty. I don't think my opponent can base his arguments around human rights while criticising them and saying they should be violated. People are not inanimate objects, murderers are still human beings.

Pro: "Murderers have committed a crime that warrants total disgust, they are not perfectly normal people."

I don't know if this can be responded to constructively as we are dealing with emotions here and 'disgust' and 'normality' are clearly very subjective things. Personally while murder is indeed disgusting, some murders are far more disgusting to me than others. Some consider the murder of millions in warfare to be disgusting, others think abortion is murder and disgusting, so we can see it is extremely subjective.

_______________

The risk of wrongful conviction.

My opponent accepts that the execution of innocents is likely but believes the courts can ensure otherwise. As noted above this entirely contradicts his arguments about cost.

Currently, although execution trials are already staggeringly more expensive than other trials, guidelines for ensuring guilt are still not being implemented to the recommended extent. This is pasted from the following source:
http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org...


The cost of the present system with reforms recommended by the Commission to ensure a fair process would be $232.7 million per year.

The cost of a system in which the number of death-eligible crimes was significantly narrowed would be $130 million per year.

The cost of a system which imposes a maximum penalty of lifetime incarceration instead of the death penalty would be $11.5 million per year.>

There is not much middle ground here, either you have no problem with the execution of the innocent or the cost differences are huge.

----

Moral hypocrisy.

Pro: "In some situations is it permissible to take life, in others it is not. There is no hypocrisy here."

There is textbook hypocrisy, the state is saying: "killing is wrong, unless I do it."

----

My opponent has chosen to ignore my reference to the brutalisation effect, I don't know if this means he concedes it or not.

----

Remember: An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth leaves us all blind and gummy.

Thanks.
Con.
Debate Round No. 2
Cerebral_Narcissist

Pro

Cerebral_Narcissist forfeited this round.
feverish

Con

Well, a genuine surprise and disappointment at the forfeit but this seems to be happening to most of my debates lately.

Cerebral has been online in the last day so I don't know why he hasn't posted.

Since I can't vote and this debate won't show up on the front page due to the forfeit, I would really appreciate it if anyone reading this could take the time to vote for whoever they think had better arguments, sources etc.

Thanks.

Con.
Debate Round No. 3
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by Cerebral_Narcissist 7 years ago
Cerebral_Narcissist
I apoligise for having forfeited the last round, unavoidable personal issues. Annoyingly I had almost finished my last reply, but was unable to complete it and post it. For what it's worth I think Con does deserve to win this.
Posted by Cujosrevenge 7 years ago
Cujosrevenge
WOW... IMA AGREE WITH PRO... "for obvious reason"
Posted by Lightkeeper 7 years ago
Lightkeeper
All my votes went for Con for obvious reasons.
Posted by wjmelements 7 years ago
wjmelements
Plus one.
Posted by Cerebral_Narcissist 7 years ago
Cerebral_Narcissist
I think I am going to loose this one.

But anyway, feel free to whittle in down as much as possible, I rather used up the 8000 character limit!
Posted by feverish 7 years ago
feverish
Deathisgood?
Posted by Lifeisgood 7 years ago
Lifeisgood
Great debate. Totally agree with Pro. :P
Posted by Cerebral_Narcissist 7 years ago
Cerebral_Narcissist
Yes who could know that smearing your child in gravy, stuffing his pockets with pork ribs and getting him to pet hungry lions could possibly go wrong!

I think that would count as manslaughter... I guess...
Posted by brian_eggleston 7 years ago
brian_eggleston
But some murders are worse than others.

Say, for example, a loving single dad decides to take his son to the local safari park as a special treat. So he gets him up early in the morning and tells him to get a bath. However, the boy complains that there is no hot water so dad throws the electric fire in to warm it up.

Luckily, the fuse blows before the kid is too badly electrocuted but his father decides that washing his son in hot water is too dangerous so he goes to the kitchen and comes back with a large pan of hot gravy and washes the boy in that instead.

So, they arrive at the safari park, having stopping off at the rotisserie on the way to buy some freshly grilled BBQ pork ribs, which dad kindly puts in his son's pockets in case the boy fancies a quick snack later on.

Now, when they get to the lion enclosure, dad stops the car near where the members of the pride are pacing about and tells his son not to be scared and to get out and stroke them.

Of course, dad had no way of knowing it was just before feeding time or that the lions' favourite treat was BBQ pork ribs with gravy and, well, rather a unpleasant scene ensued which finally resulted in dad being found guilty of his son's murder.

It could so easily happen. Perhaps dad was a bit foolish but does he deserve to be treated the same way as a paedophile that kidnaps children on a wholesale basis for the purpose of torturing them to death to satisfy his own sexual perversions?
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Cliff.Stamp 5 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
Cerebral_NarcissistfeverishTied
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Vote Placed by Lightkeeper 7 years ago
Lightkeeper
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