The Instigator
Pro (for)
3 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

Torture is ethical when it is 100% sure that torturee has life-saving information.

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/9/2013 Category: Society
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 592 times Debate No: 41984
Debate Rounds (3)
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Votes (1)




I would like to debate the ethics of torture in a very specific theoretical scenario.

I will be debating the PRO side, as in PRO-torture(in this specific scenario).

Please skip the accepting rounds, etc, and begin with arguments. Thanks!


US Gov has in their custody a man named John. John is a known terrorist. Assume that the US Gov is 100% sure that John has information about multiple bombs in major cities which will soon explode, killing thousands. John has admitted to knowing this information multiple times, and the US Gov has proven that he knows it through various other sources. Furthermore, intelligence from John's home country, Terroristlandia, indicates that in the past, when John was tortured for information, he spilled very valuable information which was accurate, and saved lives. Let us assume that torturing John WOULD save lives.

I argue that in this case, torturing John is ethical. I would like for somebody to convince me otherwise.

Please keep in mind: I am using a scenario in which we are 100% sure that the torturee has life-saving information. Torturing those who "might" have life saving information is another debate for another day.

Thank you for accepting my challenge!


Torture is *NOT* ethical when it is 100% sure that the torturee has life saving information...

My opponent's argument is inherently wrong and false because of the fact that we can never know for sure "100% " that a person knows something. We are able to know as much as the person is willing to tell us, and using torture, which is in direct violation of the Geneva conventions, is wrong and ineffective.

If someone holds a belief so dear to them that they'd sacrifice their life for it, torture is not going to change that.

Debate Round No. 1


"My opponent's argument is inherently wrong and false because of the fact that we can never know for sure "100% " that a person knows something."

This is irrelevant to my theoretical scenario. I agree that in 95+% of real-life scenarios, we don't know for sure if a person knows something. I agree that torture is quite often ineffective. But these do not relate to my theoretical scenario. We are NOT debating whether torture is ethical in a situation where we're not sure if the suspect knows something. In my scenario we are ASSUMING that we know 100% that John knows life saving information about the bombs. The proof of this is irrelevant. This is not unlike discussions in which people assume they know 100% that god exists, for the sake of creating a hypothetical situation. It is impossible to know for 100% whether a god exists, but for the sake of a hypothetical discussion, we can make assumptions.

I strongly believe that torture is wrong. It is often used on suspects that hold no information, and it is often ineffective. BUT I believe that if we could ascertain for 100% that a suspect knows information that could save lives, then torturing him would be ethical. You've provided 0 arguments to dispute this. You've argued that torturing a suspect who "might" have information is wrong. As I said in the first paragraph, that is a completely different debate.

Please present a new argument that is relevant to my theoretical scenario In which we assume to know 100% that John has life saving info.


"This is irrelevant to my theoretical scenario. "

Basically, my opponent lives in a utopian society where we all have the answers to everything.

It is impossible to counter this argument because in a scenario in YOUR OWN IMAGINATION, it is impossible for someone else to successfully challenge that.
Debate Round No. 2


I don't think you understand the basis of hypothetical arguments. Allow me to expand on my previous god example. If I start a discussion with a friend with "lets assume god is real. do you want to go to heaven or hell? which would be better?"

If my friend starts arguing my assumption that god exists, his arguments are irrelevant. It is not impossible, like you say, to continue this discussion. He can accept my assumption that god is real, and then argue heaven or hell as his choice, backed up by whatever data or principles he likes.

In my scenario, we assume that John knows information. It is irrelevant how we proved this or how efficient torture is. ASSUME that torturing John will save lives. The ethics behind THIS scenario are what I would like to debate. If you've come to discredit the government's proving of Johns knowledge, then it is irrelevant, since you're arguing my hypothetical assumption. It wouldn't BE a hypothetical situation if we didn't make an assumption and both assume it to be true.

Please present an argument relevant my hypothetical scenario, in which we assume to know 100% that John has information. Do not argue whether John has information or whether we can be sure that he does. This is assumed already. By undertaking this challenge, you've agreed to attempt to convince me that torturing John is unethical even if the Government is sure that he has information that would save lives. I repeat. Convince me that it is wrong to torture a man, even if we are 100% sure that this torture would save lives. I'm not asking you to analyze the reality of this hypothetical; whether such a situation could ever even exist. I'm asking to you to say "even if we were to be completely sure that John has information, it would still be unethical to torture him because _______________"

If my opponent responds with an irrelevant argument again, I will assume he cannot think of any arguments against torturing a man who we hypothetically assume has life saving information, and therefore forefeits the debate.


Let me repeat.
There is no way to argue against your own thought.
There is no way we can ever know 100% if a person knows a certain piece of information.

Oh wait, actually there is: and that is IF WE KNOW THE INFORMATION OURSELVES

Torturing someone who cannot/will-not answer your pleas is a waste of time and a violation of basic human rights.

If you vote for my opponent, you affirm his sense of self-superiority and the idea that his imagination tops all.

If you vote for me, you vote for justice and human rights.
Debate Round No. 3
No comments have been posted on this debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Josh_b 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: pro made a great case for certain interrogation techniques. con just argues and has no content.