The Instigator
JoeHayns
Pro (for)
Winning
12 Points
The Contender
ohnoyoulost
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Torture by state agents, in certain circumstances, is necessary and valid.

Do you like this debate?NoYes+0
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Vote Here
Pro Tied Con
Who did you agree with before the debate?
Who did you agree with after the debate?
Who had better conduct?
Who had better spelling and grammar?
Who made more convincing arguments?
Who used the most reliable sources?
Reasons for your voting decision - Required
1,000 Characters Remaining
The voting period for this debate does not end.
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/8/2011 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 709 times Debate No: 17442
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (3)
Votes (3)

 

JoeHayns

Pro

My contention (and I play my own devil's advocate here) is that the torture of select people at certain times - and these may only appear every decade or even century - can be justified on a number of grounds. Whilst the practice is most often reprehensible, it is not definitively so. Indeed, the preservation of good - or at least relatively preferable - societies can be said to depend on the ability to commit violence to the bodies of individuals so as to garner information about hostile criminal and/or military activities or persons (and therefore, torture is necessary and valid). My first debate.

----

Definition of torture is 'to purposefully subject a person to pain', with the assumption that the larger part of the state-agent's motivation for doing so is instrumental, rather than 'pathological' or for pleasure.

Necessary in the sense that the torturing society plausibly views its own existence as threatened, if only putatively, by the to-be-tortured or her/his cohorts (and, given the torturing-societies relative merits, therefore valid).

Each of these are up for dispute.

Lastly, as stated, my first debate, so comments or criticism on any aspect of challenge very gratefully accepted.
ohnoyoulost

Con

Challenge accepted.
Debate Round No. 1
JoeHayns

Pro

My contention (and I play my own devil's advocate here) is that the torture of select people at certain times - and these may only appear every decade or even century - can be justified on a number of grounds. Whilst the practice is most often reprehensible, it is not definitively so. Indeed, the preservation of good - or at least relatively preferable - societies can be said to depend on the ability to commit violence to the bodies of individuals so as to garner information about hostile criminal and/or military activities or persons (and therefore, torture is necessary and valid). My first debate.

----

Definition of torture is 'to purposefully subject a person to pain', with the assumption that the larger part of the state-agent's motivation for doing so is instrumental, rather than 'pathological' or for pleasure.

Necessary in the sense that the torturing society plausibly views its own existence as threatened, if only putatively, by the to-be-tortured or her/his cohorts (and, given the torturing-societies relative merits, therefore valid).

Each of these are up for dispute.

Lastly, as stated, my first debate, so comments or criticism on any aspect of challenge very gratefully accepted.

----------------

I should make it very clear that I will not hence argue for the goodness or validity of any historical act of torture, but instead will attempt to argue for the possibility for (correctly) describing an imagined or conceptual act of torture as potentially morally valid. This argument therefore, I claim, opens up the space for historical acts of torture to be properly described as moral, although this is not is not the chief aim of the larger argument.

To put this simply: the people in Guantanamo Bay are being tortured, allegedly, to extract information about an enemy that poses an existential threat the the US, its' allies, and modes of governance ('the Western project'; 'our way of life'; 'democracy', etc) underpinning these. I do not need to provide argumentation that suggests this torture is moral. Instead, I need merely show that torture taken abstractly is not a priori immoral and, more difficult, that it can be, given certain circumstances (which I will outline) moral. It may be, given further discussion, that these circumstances have not yet appeared, and that therefore no act of torture historically has been moral, without saying that no act of torture in the future is immoral per se.

----

(1) Imagine someone has planted a bomb in an office. Which is office is unclear to the authorities; the bomber is caught during a routine traffic stop with bomb making equipment, is found to have glycerin on his hands, and admits to having planted a bomb but, wanting first to cause panic (to feel powerful) and secondly for the bomb to detonate, refuses to say which one; "the fuse is set to one week, but I'll never tell you where it is".
That is, there is a credible threat to a large number of innocent lives.
The authorities spend six days attempting to retrace the bomber's movements, political persuasions, former employers, emails (etc), and find no clue as to where the bomb might be.
I claim, given these presumably extremely rare circumstances - very credible threat, almost completely assured loss of innocent lives, almost no chance finding bomb via typical means, no possibility of evacuating every office block (the bomber does not say in which city or even country the bomb is in) - within the last remaining twenty four hours, the authorities would be acting morally if they first threatened and then committed acts of physical torture on the bomber. (As an aside, these techniques would have been designed not to exact as much pain as possible, but merely to be effective on their terms of extracting information; technique X (less painful or damaging, more effective) is used in lieu of technique Y (one, say, that debilitates the bomber's ability to communicate).

(2) A somewhat similar non-abstract argument might be that if the allies in WWII found that on balance it seemed to be required that they torture Axis troops for information, then it would be valid, given that an allied success overall would/is preferable to an Axis victory.

To restate, those abstract circumstances outlined in example one may found to have not ever appeared; this in of itself does not undermine my primary argument.

----------

Recapitulation:

Torture has most often been cruel, immoral, unnecessary. However, that is not to say that torture per se is any of those three. Contexts are imaginable in which torture is the lesser of two wrongs, and therefore, a good.

Good luck to my opponent. Again, any comments on any aspect of my inaugural argument will be very gratefully received.
ohnoyoulost

Con

I'm going to have to concede. I thought he was referring to torture as a method of punishment, not for interregation. I'm terribly sorry!
Debate Round No. 2
JoeHayns

Pro

Concede then!
ohnoyoulost

Con

ohnoyoulost forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by JoeHayns 5 years ago
JoeHayns
@ohnoyoulost

There is a concede option, I think. As it stands, it'll be me that has to forfeit, unfairly; sort it out!
Posted by JoeHayns 5 years ago
JoeHayns
'Ohnoyoulost' ; are you able to concede? Why not just take con anyway? Would like to wrap it up, if ok with you?
Posted by BennyW 5 years ago
BennyW
I so want to take this but I can't have another debate right now.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Man-is-good 5 years ago
Man-is-good
JoeHaynsohnoyoulostTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro argued; Con did not, and forfeited. Therefore, Pro earns points for conduct and argumentation. What an unfortunate fate for a potentially-interesting debate.
Vote Placed by ApostateAbe 5 years ago
ApostateAbe
JoeHaynsohnoyoulostTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: forfeit
Vote Placed by thett3 5 years ago
thett3
JoeHaynsohnoyoulostTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:--Vote Checkmark3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:10 
Reasons for voting decision: Concession