The Instigator
Freeman
Pro (for)
Losing
3 Points
The Contender
MTGandP
Con (against)
Winning
27 Points

Torture is sometimes morally permissible.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/3/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 4,324 times Debate No: 9120
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (13)
Votes (6)

 

Freeman

Pro

Torture can be morally justified in rare circumstances. In the case of a ticking time bomb that could destroy a city and potentially kill millions of people the use of coerced interrogation to extract information can be justified. I am not arguing that torture should be made legal. Torture, like theft, could be ethical under certain parameters and still be against the law. Nor am I arguing that a general practice of torture can be made from the scenario I outlined above. What I wish to argue is that torture, as unsavory as it may be, has utilities that in rare situations far outweigh its negative attributes thereby rendering it moral.

Perhaps ticking time bombs seem too impersonal. Imagine that you have a daughter. And further imagine that a madman has taken this daughter of yours captive. He has set her in a special room where he has rigged a machine on a timer, which would slowly dismember her before ultimately killing her once it goes off. For the sake of the argument let us assume that the room can only be accessed by a security code on a door that is impregnable. As luck would have it you manage to capture this madman. As he sits in custody he happily gloats about how your child will die in 30 minutes once the machine timer goes off. A wry smile creeps across his face as he informs you that even if you found the room where your daughter has been held captive it would still be impossible for you to save her. As luck would have it another breakthrough happens. A police officer radios in to inform you that they have found the room where your daughter is being held. Unfortunately the officer cannot enter because, after all, the door is 100% impregnable. However the door does have a keypad and if the right code were entered it would unlock the door thereby allowing you to save your daughter. At this point your only options would be to wait and let your daughter die. Or you could torture the man and try to get the security code from him that could save your daughter. Let us also assume, for the sake of convenience, that he is unreasonable and will not respond to your pleas for mercy.

I am one of very few people I know who has publicly advocated for the use of torture. As a result this has put me at odds with many deeply ethical people. These people speak in a manner that would lead one to conclude that an argument that categorically repudiates torture is readily available. However, in the few times I have debated this issue in school such an argument has never been produced. Many people have objected to my argument, on emotional grounds, but they have consistently failed to demonstrate any flaws in my thinking. Many readers will be attempted to dismiss torture as categorically evil but this position is impossible to square with our willingness to wage modern war in the first place.

When we as a nation choose to engage in war, for either offensive or defensive purposes "collateral damage"—the maiming and killing of innocent noncombatants—will be unavoidable. It is truly one of the great ironies of liberal discourse that the thought of waterboarding someone like Osama Bin Laden raises more ire than the thought of maiming and killing defenseless children in air raids. At the eve of the war with Iraq it was superficially easy to predict that many men, women and children would be maimed and killed as result of our endeavor.

There are, of course, complete pacifists that are opposed to fighting wars under any circumstances. If this view were applied to our foreign policy then we would be left with something very similar to the absolute pacifism of someone like Ghandi. While pacifism can in certain instances be moral it has a very limited range of usefulness. Where pacifism is not applicable it can come off as blatantly immoral. We would do well to reflect on Gandhi's remedy for the Holocaust: he believed that the Jews should have committed mass suicide, because this "would have aroused the world and the people of Germany to Hitler's violence." If this view were taken to its logical conclusions we would be left with a world in which thugs, criminals and other rabble would inherit the Earth.
http://ambivablog.typepad.com...

Opponents of torture will be quick to assert that the confessions elicited under torture have been notoriously unreliable. Considering what can be at stake in a world where nuclear proliferation is still ongoing this argument seems to lack its usual force. The odds that our interests will be furthered in an act of torture need only equal the chance that any innocent child will be killed in one of our bombing raids. If there were even one chance in a million that someone like Osama bin Laden could tell us something under torture that could lead to the dismantling of an organization like Al Qaeda or Hammas, then it seems we should use every thing in our disposal to get him talking.

So we must now ask ourselves the obvious, if we are willing to act in a way that guarantees the misery and death of a considerable number of innocent children, why spare the rod with known terrorists. The deaths of the children that have been killed in Iraq were even easier to predict than the trajectories of the missiles and bullets that killed them. And yet we deem these accidents morally permissible, insofar as we regard the justification for any given war to be truthful.

Torture need not entail that its recipient is killed or even physically harmed in any way, whereas modern warfare guarantees innocents will be killed, blinded, and severely disfigured in the act of war. If we are willing to accept that fact that bombs and rifle rounds will eventually yield civilian casualties we should be willing to torture a certain class of suspects and military prisoners; If we are unwilling to torture then we should also be unwilling to wage modern warfare.

Definitions (oxford dictionary):
Torture-the action or practice of inflicting severe pain on someone defenseless as a punishment or to force them to do or say something, or for the pleasure of the person inflicting the pain.
MTGandP

Con

Resolved: Torture is sometimes morally permissible.

I thank my opponent for instigating this fascinating topic. He claims to have never found an argument as to why torture is categorically wrong; I hope to provide one.

Definitions
Morality: A code of conduct put forward by a society; used to determine right and wrong. (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy; Wikipedia)
Morally permissible: Allowed or permitted by the rules of morality.

I recommend that the definition of torture be narrowed as such: the action or practice of inflicting severe pain on someone defenseless to force them to do or say something. To elaborate further, torture relies on the idea that when subjected to intense pain, a person will do virtually anything to stop it, such as revealing important secrets or performing actions that he would not otherwise perform.

Burden of Proof
As it is my opponent making the positive statement, he must prove that torture is sometimes morally permissible. He also has the burden of proof due to social perspective: hurting another person is wrong by default, so he must prove that it is sometimes not wrong.

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Case Pro
========

The Daughter Scenario
My opponent's Daughter Scenario is overly complex, and flawed for many reasons. It speaks for the unsoundness of my opponent's position that the scenario is so elaborate: a madman took your daughter with no clear motive, he wants to dismember her for no clear reason, the door is impregnable, and the man is merciless. It is extraordinarily unlikely that such a scenario would occur in reality. Even so, it is flawed. In the place of moral backing for why torture is justified, all he has is a simple appeal to emotion. While convincing on the surface, this is not a logically sound case.

Collateral Damage
War is truly an unfortunate situation. But is it an applicable analogy? Inevitably, no. Killing civilians during wartime is wrong. But during a war, it is unavoidable. Does this make war wrong? Not necessarily. This is where the analogy breaks down. During war, the motive is a noble one. Soldiers are fighting for their country. Civilian casualties may be suffered along the way, but that is a side effect and was never the intention. But when a suspect is tortured, the intention is to inflict pain on a defenseless human being. The ends do not justify the means. When discussing moral imperatives, it is not the outcome but the intention which is most vital.

Unreliability of Torture
I will talk more about this in my case. I only wish to point out one sentence:
"The odds that our interests will be furthered in an act of torture need only equal the chance that any innocent child will be killed in one of our bombing raids."
This appears to be a complete non sequitur. I would appreciate an elaboration.

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Case Con
========

I am going to make a dual overlaying Deontological/Consequentialist case.

Contention 1: Torture is unreliable.

1a. In the case of torturing suspected terrorists (the scenario most applicable to the modern world), it is unknown whether the subject is a terrorist or not. If the subject is not a terrorist and therefore does not have the necessary information, then torture merely inflicts harm on an innocent individual without just cause.

1b. Even when the victim has the necessary information, torture frequently fails to extract it. Vietnamese torture of American soldiers had a success rate of only 5%, for example [1]. Many subjects have been known to be tortured to death before relinquishing information [2].

1c. When subjected to extreme torture, the subject will do nearly anything to get out of it. This includes fabricating lies to support what the interrogators want to hear. My opponent purports that the benefits of successful torture outweigh the detriments of failed torture. However, with a success rate of only 5%, this is not so. Just how many innocents is my opponent willing to needlessly harm in order to acquire the necessary information?

1d. When subjected to the level of pain necessary to "break" the subject, the subject frequently becomes so disoriented that he is incapable of rational thought. He becomes unaware of the distinction between the truth, his cover story or any other model of reality.

==========

Contention 2: There are better alternatives.

Torture is not the only method of information extraction. "Brain fingerprinting" (http://www.brainwavescience.com...) is not only infinitely more humane than torture, but is in many cases more reliable.

We should, instead of investing resources in more acute methods of torture, research alternative methods of extracting information.

==========

Contention 3: Torture is harmful.

The psychological effects of torture can be lasting (http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org...). Even if no physical damage is inflicted, there is still temporary physical pain and lasting emotional pain. The harm caused by torture is indisputable.

No matter the purpose, it is morally bankrupt to so greatly harm another human being. Proponents of torture attempt to justify torture by pointing to the benefits. But what are benefits compared to intentionally inflicting great suffering on a person? Even if torture regardless of all evidence turns out to save lives, it does not matter when a single life is placed in jeopardy.

Life has infinite value. This is one of the great axioms of morality. And no summation of infinities is larger than a single infinity. The proponents of torture value the lives of some innocents above the lives of others. They attempt to place value on human life, which simply cannot be done. Supporting torture, no matter the circumstance, is an irrational and untenable position.

==========

References

[1] Stockdale, James Bond. (2001). Courage under fire. In Department of Philosophy and Fine Arts, United States Military Academy (Eds.), Moral dimensions of the military profession (5th edn.) (pp. 321-334). P. 328.
[2] Aussaresses, Paul. (2002). The Battle of the Casbah: Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism in Algeria 1955-57. New York: Enigma.—Robin Bhatty contributed this example.
Debate Round No. 1
Freeman

Pro

Resolved: Torture is sometimes morally permissible.

I wish to thank my opponent for his quick response, having said that lets dive in.

======
Case Pro
======

The Daughter Scenario

For those people out there who aren't familiar with logical fallacies I put a definition for an emotional appeal below. Does my argument appeal solely on the basis of people's emotions? I don't think so. Certain forms of emotional appeals are indeed fallacious however I don't see how my argument appeal's to emotion so as to cause someone to arrive at an invalid conclusion.

Appeal to Emotion: In this type of fallacy, the arguer attempts to persuade someone by playing on his or her sympathies, fears, vanity, anger or other emotions, rather than providing legitimate premises that support the conclusion. The fallacy can appeal to various emotions including pity, pride, fear, hate, vanity, or sympathy. Generally, the issue is oversimplified to the advantage of the arguer.
http://www.aphilosopher.net...

My opponent seems to find it hard to believe that anyone would capture a person for the sole purpose of torturing and killing them. He simply doesn't know enough about history. You may wish to google the following names, Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer. At any rate I created the scenario to be elaborate in order to prevent clever and witty people from weaseling their way out of it. I raised this scenario in another debate and the guy responded by saying he would order the swat team to utilize a tech whiz to hack the keypad on the door. This type of drivel and elusion has no end unless you set clear parameters.

I am confident, almost certain, that if my opponent found himself in my "daughter scenario" he would do whatever is necessary to save his own child. I have more respect for any person than to think they would be so calloused as to idly witness the death of their own child at the hands of a psychopath. Your inability to answer candidly only serves to demonstrate the weakness of your position. The fact that the situation is improbable is orthogonal to the issue at hand; this wouldn't change what the moral thing to do would be if the situation did arise.

Collateral Damage

"When discussing moral imperatives, it is not the outcome but the intention which is most vital." So, if I torture a convicted terrorist in order to avert a catastrophe would not my intentions help determine whether or not I'm acting ethically?

"The odds that our interests will be furthered in an act of torture need only equal the chance that any innocent child will be killed in one of our bombing raids." Here is what I mean whent I wrote that. Our use of torture can legitimately carry with it the same probability of success occasioned by dropping a single bomb in order to bring down an organization like Al Qaeda. What are the odds that one of our bombing raids will kill Osama Bin Laden? They have to be pretty slim and undoubtedly many innocents will be killed and maimed in our failed attempts. Insofar as our use of torture carries with it the same amount of success as our more lethal tactics for saving lives we can deem it morally permissible. Further it should be obvious that a failed torture attempt isn't going to leave children orphaned and women disemboweled.

========
Case Con
========

Contention 1: Torture is unreliable.

1b. "Even when the victim has the necessary information, torture frequently fails to extract it. Vietnamese torture of American soldiers had a success rate of only 5%, for example [1]. Many subjects have been known to be tortured to death before relinquishing information [2]."

Even if your statistics were valid then they would have to be at least 30 years old. Come on, I think you can do better than that. And at any rate how the Vietcong conducted their torture is completely irrelevant to my argument. Indicting the usefulness of torture generally by using antiquated statistics from the Vietnam era is like indicting all of medicine because there a few doctors who are incapable of practicing medicine properly.

1c. You seem to be opposed to torture because it would inevitably result in innocent people being subjected to the practice. The torture of an innocent person in the pursuit of saving lives is unfortunate but it is far less horrible than the death of an innocent child in a war. I contend that this view is so self evidently true that anyone with the intention of repudiating it will have a burden to demonstrate why its false. Saving lives in the context of a war is no different than saving lives in the context of preventing a nuclear bomb from going off. The situations are different but the result in both cases remains the same. This is why the two are analogous. Terrorism need not be relabeled as an ongoing endless war for my position to be valid either. Justified wars are designed to save lives. Justified counter terrorism is also designed to save lives. To merely assert that the two aren't analogous when they clearly are is fallacious. And if we are willing to pursue a course of action which is guaranteed to kill innocent men, women and children then we should also be willing to occasionally risk torturing an innocent person. Collateral damage should be far more troubling to us than the occasional misapplication of torture: there are, after all, no infants stationed at Guantanamo bay.

1d. I have never advocated any method of torture that would "break" someone to the point of them becoming irrational and disconnected from the world.

==========

Contention 2: There are better alternatives.

"Torture is not the only method of information extraction. "Brain fingerprinting" (http://www.brainwavescience.com......) is not only infinitely more humane than torture, but is in many cases more reliable."

Fictitious alternatives and prospective future potentials for advanced neuroimaging are irrelevant to this debate. We aren't living in the 22nd century were living in the 21st in case you haven't noticed. I happily await the day when we have methods of painlessly extracting useful intelligence directly from people's brains; unfortunately this isn't the world we find ourselves in. Because of this your contention lacks any substance. If we had fully functional foolproof lie detector machines or ways of viewing all of someone's specific thoughts then I would concede the debate. The fact that such technology is either nonexistent/ not being used currently is more than just a small problem for you.

Contention 3: Torture is harmful.

"But what are benefits compared to intentionally inflicting great suffering on a person?"

I don't wish to caricature my opponent's position but here is how I understand it. The suffering of millions of people killed in a nuclear explosion has to be given less weight than the suffering endured by torturing a single terrorist. In other words the temporary physical and emotional pain endured by a terrorist has to be given more deference than the potential deaths of millions of people and their families. He more or less confirms this position when he writes, "Even if torture regardless of all evidence turns out to save lives, it does not matter when a single life is placed in jeopardy." I would also add that there are methods of torture, which would never place someone's life in jeopardy. My opponent seems to gloss over this fact.

======
Case Pro
======

Allow me to sum up my argument in a rough syllogism.

Premise #1 It is morally acceptable to defend life if something of equal or lesser value isn't lost.
Premise #2 Torture is a means of defending life.
Premise #3 Torture in order to save lives does not involve losing something of equal or lesser value.
Conclusion: It is morally acceptable to use torture to save lives.

If you think that premise #3 is flawed then you should also categorically oppose warfare.

All the best,
Freeman
MTGandP

Con

Resolved: Torture is sometimes morally permissible.

=======
Case Pro
=======

The Daughter Scenario

The point about the appeal to emotion is a fairly minor one. I already made my case on it, so I will move on.

Cases such as Jeffrey Dahmer are so famous because they are so extraordinarily rare. There have perhaps been a dozen such people in all of recorded history. Exceptions should not be made for these rare cases.

No real-life scenario is impregnable. There is always another option. So my opponent's scenario with an impossible-to-open door, etc. is unrealistic. There is no such scenario in reality. Finding other ways out is not "drivel and elusion" since in life there is always another way out. Using a SWAT team is far preferable to torture. My opponent had to think up an extraordinarily elaborate scenario to even attempt to justify torture, which speaks for the frailness of his case.

"I am confident, almost certain, that if my opponent found himself in my "daughter scenario" he would do whatever is necessary to save his own child."
Even if at the time I wanted to torture the captor, it is far from justified. My personal feelings about my daughter cannot justify such a terrible act.

"I have more respect for any person than to think they would be so calloused as to idly witness the death of their own child at the hands of a psychopath."
There are so many alternatives to torture that my opponent is ignoring. I could rescue my daughter, or find a different method of extracting the necessary information. If torture is the only option, then idleness is the most noble course of action. It is never justified to inflict such great harm on another human, no matter the circumstances. As they say, two wrongs don't make a right.

Collateral Damage

"So, if I torture a convicted terrorist in order to avert a catastrophe would not my intentions help determine whether or not I'm acting ethically?"
This is a misconstruing of "intention". Yes, the moral thing to do is to try to avert the catastrophe. But intentionally harming another is not the proper way to go about it.

My opponent's elaboration has made his statement more understandable. However, it says nothing that I have not already responded to.

=======
Case Con
=======

Contention 1: Torture is unreliable.

1b. Yes, my statistics are 30 years old. The Theory of Gravity is over 300 years old, and yet we still use it. Age is no indication of reliability.
My opponent has said nothing but baseless claims and speculation. No refutation necessary.

1c. (My opponent has conceded 1c, and has instead argued against 1a.) Killing innocent children during wartime is tragic, and should by all means be avoided. But accidents happen. There is a monumental difference between accidental deaths and intentional torture. This is why involuntary manslaughter, while still a crime, is not nearly as reprehensible as murder (http://karisable.com...).

1d. My opponent has never advocated ANY method of torture. I assume that he supports waterboarding. Waterboarding has been found to cause long-term physical and psychological harm (http://www.scientificamerican.com...) (http://www.time.com...): "One patient couldn't take showers, and panicked when it rained." (http://www.newyorker.com...) Like any sort of severe physical and mental suffering, waterboarding leads to a fear of imminent death, causing panic, an increased heart rate, and increased stress, which can easily lead to confusion and disconnect from reality (http://en.wikipedia.org...) (http://intelligence.senate.gov...).

==========

Contention 2: There are better alternatives.

There is nothing fictitious about brain fingerprinting. It is still being refined, but has been used before, and even successfully caught a serial killer: "Missouri Sheriff Robert Dawson engaged Dr. Farwell to conduct a Brainfingerprinting test on J. B. Grinder, who had been a suspect in an unsolved murder case for 15 years. The test results showed that the record stored in his brain matched critical details of the crime scene that only the perpetrator would know." (http://www.brainwavescience.com...)

The brain fingerprinting process does not have to be foolproof. It could even be less reliable than torture, and would still be a viable alternative. However, torture has a rather low success rate while brain fingerprinting has a success rate of virtually 100% (http://www.nytimes.com...).

==========

Contention 3: Torture is harmful.

"The suffering of millions of people killed in a nuclear explosion has to be given less weight than the suffering endured by torturing a single terrorist."
Suffering is not measured in "less" or "more". We have a responsibility not to harm any individual, no matter the situation. But even so, it is not a matter of torturing a single terrorist. What if the person isn't really a terrorist? What if the terrorist knows nothing, or refuses to talk? Torture has a laughably low rate of success.

There are no methods of torture that do not place the subject's wellbeing in jeopardy. We have fundamental rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Torture takes away at least the latter two of these rights. It is unconscionable to torture another human being and throw away his fundamental rights. Resolution affirmed.

I will not respond to the summary of Case Pro. It does not include anything that has not been already said, and I want to avoid parallel threads.
Debate Round No. 2
Freeman

Pro

Torture round 3

If ever there was a worthy opponent on this topic I'm glad to say that I've found him. I challenged about 6 other people that are anti torture to this debate and so far you're the only one that has accepted. So, thank you.

======
Case Pro
======

My opponent has said nothing about my Syllogism so I will assume that he has been unable to detect any flaws in it.

Premise #1 It is morally acceptable to defend life if something of equal or greater value isn't lost.
Premise #2 Torture is a means of defending life.
Premise #3 Torture in order to save lives does not involve losing something of equal or greater value.
Conclusion: It is morally acceptable to use torture to save lives.

================
The Daughter Scenario
================
"Even if at the time I wanted to torture the captor, it is far from justified. My personal feelings about my daughter cannot justify such a terrible act." I got him to say it. He would let his own daughter be dismembered and killed in order to remain consistent. I applaud him for this and at the same time I'm somewhat disgusted. I suspect that he may even let a nuclear bomb destroy LA if the decision on whether or not to employ torture was his.

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Case Con
=======
Contention 1: Torture is unreliable.

"1b. Yes, my statistics are 30 years old. The Theory of Gravity is over 300 years old, and yet we still use it. Age is no indication of reliability.
My opponent has said nothing but baseless claims and speculation. No refutation necessary." Asserting that torture under the Vietcong demonstrates the most competent, experienced, sophisticated, scientifically based application of torture is a ludicrous accusation. Good job on setting up a rather impressive straw man though. It probably went unnoticed by most people.

My opponent contended that Vietnamese torture represents its most skilled application. He then laughs at how inefficient they were at using it. And from there he asserts that torture is generally useless.

I'll just recap by presenting my old argument.

Make the confessions under torture as unreliable as you like. The utilities of torture need only surpass the ethical concerns merely from using it in order for it to be justified. The torture of an innocent person in the pursuit of saving lives is unfortunate but it is far less horrible than the death of an innocent child in a war. I contend that this view is so self evidently true that anyone with the intention of repudiating it will have a burden to demonstrate why its false. Saving lives in the context of a war is no different than saving lives in the context of preventing a nuclear bomb from going off. The situations are different but the result in both cases remains the same. This is why the two are analogous. Terrorism need not be relabeled as an ongoing endless war for my position to be valid either. Justified wars are designed to save lives. Justified counter terrorism is also designed to save lives. To merely assert that the two aren't analogous when they clearly are is fallacious. And if we are willing to pursue a course of action which is guaranteed to kill innocent men, women and children then we should also be willing to occasionally risk torturing an innocent person. Collateral damage should be far more troubling to us than the occasional misapplication of torture: there are, after all, no infants stationed at Guantanamo bay.

Contention 2: There are better alternatives.

My opponent has failed to demonstrate how "brain fingerprinting" is useful with respect to either of the two hypothetical situations I raised or to counter terrorism generally. From what I have read it is only used to exonerate/ convict people of crimes. How is this applicable to our debate on torture? This technology can't get someone like Khalid sheikh Mohammed talking. It can't extract specific details from people's brains about future plots. It can't do what torture does. It can't do anything that has any relevance to anything we have been debating at all. I'm not even sure why you're bringing it up.

Perhaps some people think I'm being to dismissive of "brain fingerprinting". I encourage anyone that thinks this to watch the following video

It's only useful AFTER a crime has been committed. And since this is the case it would only be useful after the nuclear bomb has laid waste to Manhattan. Upon close examination my opponent's contention just falls apart. Unless he has something else up his sleeve contention #2 has been thoroughly debunked.

Contention 3: Torture is harmful.

Suffering is not measured in "less" or "more". It isn't!?!? If I punched you in the face that would cause much less suffering than if I took a chainsaw to your right arm. This is just stupid. It's beyond that actually its unimaginably asinine. Suffering can be quantitatively measured.

"What if the person isn't really a terrorist?" What if one of the terrorist training camps we bomb turns out to really be a school? Q.E.D.

You contend that torturing an innocent for the greater good is wrong.
You also contend that accidentally bombing a school is unfortunate but morally permissible.
I contend that your position is untenable.

My opponent has demonstrated that his aversion to torture on emotional grounds doesn't hold up under scrutiny. This can be explained for the following reasons. As humans it is much easier for us to envision and sympathize with someone being stabbed with a knife or tortured. However if we drop bombs from pristine heights odds are we will never meet any of the unlucky people we kill. But they will still have died in an equally tragic manner. Imagine you have a grandfather who flew bombing missions in World War 2. This seems like a noble job right. Now imagine you had a grandfather that beat 100 combatants to death with a shovel in World War 2. In all likelihood the person flying bombing missions will kill far more innocent people, predictably, than the man with a shovel. The fact that most people deem one act more horrific than another speaks volumes to our inability to imagine and think clearly.

"We have fundamental rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Torture takes away at least the latter two of these rights. It is unconscionable to torture another human being and throw away his fundamental rights. Resolution affirmed." Once again my opponent is coaxing you to follow your emotions rather than your logic. Criminals don't have the right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is possible for a person to act in such a heinous manner that society must rescind those rights. Let me just end by saying that someone like Osama Bin Laden would necessarily qualify as person that could, at least temporally, have there rights stripped in order to avert catastrophe. With this in mind the resolution that torture is sometimes morally justified remains affirmed.

All the best,
Freeman
MTGandP

Con

Resolved: Torture is sometimes morally permissible.

Concessions

My opponent has conceded 1a, 1c, 1d, and "Collateral Damage". This alone is enough to default the vote to Con.

=======
Case Pro
=======

I said in response to the syllogism that it "does not include anything that has not been already said".

The Daughter Scenario

"He would let his own daughter be dismembered and killed in order to remain consistent."
It is not that simple. Torture is not guaranteed to work; in fact, it has a rather small chance of working. I could instead set up a brain fingerprinting process to acquire the necessary information. But to cut to the core of the issue, my opponent is not the only one who can paint his opponent in a bad light. My opponent would have me torture and harm another human being, possibly for naught. I am equally disgusted.

=======
Case Con
=======

Contention 1: Torture is unreliable.

1b. Torture is torture, no matter when it is used. It consists of inflicting pain on a subject. To try to escape the pain, the subject reveals the truth. At least, that is the idea. It does not matter how advanced the technology is: the same basic method is used, and all that matters is how much pain is inflicted. Advances in torture techniques have been towards reduced long-term effects and reduced noticeability, but even those have been unsuccessful, as I explained in round 2. Waterboarding, the most modern form of torture, has failed many times (http://thinkprogress.org...).

"My opponent contended that Vietnamese torture represents its most skilled application."
I did no such thing. See previous paragraph.

My opponent has repeated a paragraph that I have already effectively refuted. He continues to rely on the war analogy, but I have shown why it is not an applicable comparison. There is no point in going over it again.

==========

Contention 2: There are better alternatives.

I would like to point out that my opponent has requested the audience to watch a video, which is an abuse of the character limit.

My opponent claims that since brain fingerprinting in his video was only used after a crime was committed, therefore it can ONLY be used after a crime is committed. The fallacy here is blatant.

Brain fingerprinting can be used as humane counterterrorism (http://www.brainwavescience.com...), but this is not my main point. As I said in round 1, we should invest resources into searching for alternative methods to torture. The existence of one is evidence for the existence of more.

==========

Contention 3: Torture is harmful.

Minor physical suffering can be measured. But I hold my position that extreme interpersonal suffering, with both physical and psychological aspects, cannot be measured in the way indicated by my opponent.

" 'What if the person isn't really a terrorist?' What if one of the terrorist training camps we bomb turns out to really be a school? Q.E.D."
My opponent says "QED" as though this is a rigorous proof. It's not; it is an argument by analogy. I have shown the analogy to be flawed. Subsequently, my case never advocated for the bombing of buildings that we know nothing about, and my opponent assumes that it is morally correct to randomly bomb buildings without even knowing what they are. This position is untenable.

"You contend that torturing an innocent for the greater good is wrong.
You also contend that accidentally bombing a school is unfortunate but morally permissible."
My opponent has not properly created a connection between these two events. Even so, though, I do not advocate for bombing schools, and I do not see how it could happen by accident as long as the military is being relatively cautious.

As I have demonstrated time and time again, my aversion to torture is not emotional. It is logical. Torture is not only unnecessary and unsuccessful, but it violates human rights.

"Once again my opponent is coaxing you to follow your emotions rather than your logic. Criminals don't have the right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
I will ignore the fact that my case is based on reason and not emotion. I will also ignore the fact that my opponent's second statement is unsupported. My opponent previously conceded that innocents are sometimes tortured (implicitly, through his war analogy, and explicitly in 1c of round 2). He also concedes that innocents have the right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Therefore, torture is not justified if there is even the slightest chance of the subject being innocent. And, of course, there always is. There is no scenario of absolute certainty; human rights are infinitely valuable. It directly follows that torture is never morally permissible. Resolution negated.

Vote for human rights. Vote for justice. Vote Con.
Debate Round No. 3
13 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Sniperjake1994 8 years ago
Sniperjake1994
That's what i said in my debate.
Posted by Rezzealaux 8 years ago
Rezzealaux
"No real-life scenario is impregnable. There is always another option. So my opponent's scenario with an impossible-to-open door, etc. is unrealistic. There is no such scenario in reality. Finding other ways out is not "drivel and elusion" since in life there is always another way out. Using a SWAT team is far preferable to torture. My opponent had to think up an extraordinarily elaborate scenario to even attempt to justify torture, which speaks for the frailness of his case."

This man just won the internets.
Posted by Sniperjake1994 8 years ago
Sniperjake1994
Brain printing. Interesting, I should have thought of it.
Posted by CaleBREEEum 8 years ago
CaleBREEEum
this is a terrible topic, permissible is situational as it is, then you have the word sometimes? Anything can be anything sometimes, your not even able to set up a standard for the round and if you have no standard on wither side that says this action can or can't take place anythings possible.
Posted by DylanRobles 8 years ago
DylanRobles
I like that brain fingerprinting deal.
Posted by Neferiel 8 years ago
Neferiel
Though on balance I have to side with con simply because of the drops, unlikely scenario arguments, and lack of extensions on the pro side. I think, though, that a lot of the arguments the con made seemed a bit unstable. Think of the PIES process when making an argument -- Point (Tag), Information, Explanation, Summary (Or Impact) A lot of the Con's subpoints in Con. 1 lacked several of these elements, especially impacts. Make sure to TELL us why these are important points and link it back to the resolution.

Also, make sure you give sources for all arguments. Though it is a logical argument, 1d lacks a lot of credibility when you use the words "frequently" without any evidence to back it up.

1d. When subjected to the level of pain necessary to "break" the subject, the subject frequently becomes so disoriented that he is incapable of rational thought. He becomes unaware of the distinction between the truth, his cover story or any other model of reality.

Don't think anything I'm saying here means you two are bad.. I think this debate was done very well on both sides. I'm just giving a few critiques of what I noticed. ^^" Good luck in future debates, both of you!
Posted by studentathletechristian8 8 years ago
studentathletechristian8
My RFD same as MTGandP
Posted by MTGandP 8 years ago
MTGandP
RFD
B/A: Pro/Con
Conduct: Con -- Pro insulted Con quite a few times in round 3.
S&G: Tie.
Arguments: Con -- Pro conceded several points, relied on a false analogy, and his case was overall refuted by Con.
Sources: Con -- Pro had around five, while Con had more like a dozen, all of which were relevant.
Posted by Freeman 8 years ago
Freeman
Minor Correction

You contend that torturing an TERRORIST for the greater good is wrong.
You also contend that accidentally bombing a school is unfortunate but morally permissible.
I contend that your position is untenable.

I should have written terrorist. I accidently wrote innocent.
Posted by MTGandP 8 years ago
MTGandP
That was fast.
6 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Vote Placed by Rezzealaux 8 years ago
Rezzealaux
FreemanMTGandPTied
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Vote Placed by mongeese 8 years ago
mongeese
FreemanMTGandPTied
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Vote Placed by Sisco 8 years ago
Sisco
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Vote Placed by Neferiel 8 years ago
Neferiel
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Vote Placed by studentathletechristian8 8 years ago
studentathletechristian8
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Vote Placed by MTGandP 8 years ago
MTGandP
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