The Instigator
Freeman
Pro (for)
Losing
23 Points
The Contender
tribefan011
Con (against)
Winning
38 Points

Torture is sometimes morally permissible.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 11 votes the winner is...
tribefan011
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/7/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 11,959 times Debate No: 9154
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (18)
Votes (11)

 

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. 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 with the aim of categorically repudiating 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 tempted to dismiss torture as categorically evil but this position is impossible to square with our willingness to wage modern warfare.

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...

There is another option to war though. It guarantees that we never, under any circumstance, kill civilians or otherwise innocent people. We can simply choose to never engage in war. Schools cant accidentally be bombed if we aren't bombing anyone; apartments wont accidentally be hit if we aren't lobbing mortar shells etc. This position may be appetizing to some peaceniks but it is ultimately untenable and may even be deeply immoral. Collateral damage is unavoidable only once a war has begun. But it can easily be avoided if we simply refuse to fight. To assert that civilian casualties are unavoidable is simply fallacious because it fails to recognize pacifism as a possible option. The decisions to wage war and use torture are both options that inevitably violate human rights. Torture, at least how I'm advocating for it, is designed to save possibly millions of lives which is what war is also designed to do. However torture is the far more ethical choice of the two because unlike war it doesn't necessitate that anyone innocent is killed.

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 that occasioned by a single bomb dismantling 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. 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 Hamas, 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 innocent children will be killed, blinded, orphaned and severely disfigured in the act of war. If we are willing to accept the 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.

My argument would utterly break down for three of the following reasons.

1.Complete pacifism can be demonstrated to be a viable moral alternative to war under any circumstances.

2.The existence of viable alternatives to torture, with the same results, would render my argument moot.

3.If my collateral damage analogy were inapplicable then that would be quite a heavy blow to my side of the argument.
tribefan011

Con

Thank you for the debate.

Torture is never morally permissible. My argument stems from the rationale often used by my side: The ends do not justify the means.

I would first like to make a few things clear in response to my opponent's argument. I do not find these views very relevant to the resolution, but I am not a pacifist. I believe war is sometimes necessary, but only as a last resort. I believe in the Just War doctrine as outlined in paragraph 2309 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I also believe that collateral damage in war is inevitable, though actions should be taken to make sure it occurs as seldom as possible.

I want to define two terms. If you would like to correct the definitions, please do so.

http://www.merriam-webster.com...
Torture: "the infliction of intense pain (as from burning, crushing, or wounding) to punish, coerce, or afford sadistic pleasure"
In this debate, we would obviously be looking at torture with the intention to coerce someone into saying something.

http://www.merriam-webster.com...
Moral: "of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior : ethical"

The collateral damage analogy is invalid because it's irrelevant. The fact that our country kills innocent civilians during war does not make it morally permissible. It clearly does not make torture morally permissible, especially since the intentions and objectives in combat and torture are often so different. Your argument has a huge flaw in that it asserts that because we do something evil or morally depraved, that makes it morally acceptable. It does not.

Given these examples, I will not attack the probability of these situations since they are valid within the resolution. Rather, I will attack the assumptions in each situation. In torturing the suspect allegedly responsible for the ticking time bomb, my opponent not only assumes that torture is the only viable option to receive vital information, but my opponent also assumes that torture will bring about the desired information. The second hyperbolic situation makes the same assumptions. These assumptions are unrealistic, and they do not have much basis.

Building rapports with detainees, instead of torturing them, helped the U.S. military track down and kill Abu Masub al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq. [1] This is the policy of the U.S. military, and this shows how it can be effective. Matthew Alexander, a former interrogator, said, "When you use coercion, a detainee might tell you the location of a house, but if you use cooperation they will tell you if the house is booby-trapped, and that's a very important difference." Fifteen former United States interrogators and intelligence officers found that torture is ineffective and counterproductive through their experience with it. [2] They found rapport-based interviewing to be the best way to obtain "accurate and complete intelligence".

Information obtained by torture is often unreliable because many people will be willing to say anything if it can get the pain to stop. Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, a paramilitary trainer for al-Qaeda, was captured by Pakistani officials. He was turned over to the FBI, who interrogated him. However, the CIA asked to take him into its own custody, and he was later handed over to Egyptian interrogators. He was water boarded and "left to stand naked in his cold cell overnight where he was doused with cold water at regular intervals". [4] He finally said that Iraq provided al-Qaeda with chemical and biological weapons training. The problem with this statement is he later recanted it. [5]

Another example is Senator John McCain. As a prisoner of war in Vietnam, McCain was beaten. One of his arms was broken more than once. One of his ribs was broken. His leg was injured by guards, forcing him to be on crutches for 18 months. He finally reached his breaking point and signed a confession, saying, "I am a black criminal and I have performed the deeds of an air pirate. I almost died and the Vietnamese people saved my life, thanks to the doctors." [6] After being asked the names of the members of his flight squadron, he gave interrogators the names of the Green Bay Packers' starting linemen so the torture would stop. [7]

There are better techniques than torture, and information obtained through torture is often unreliable.

I realize my argument will have to work within a great deal of subjectivity, as always when a word like "morally" is in the resolution. I will first address torture from as much of an objectively moral standpoint as possible, with the law.

International law is quite clear on the subject. Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." This declaration was approved by 48 countries.
The Third Geneva Convention says, "To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the [prisoners of war]:
(a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;" Article 3 of the Fourth Geneva Convention restates this. The convention has been ratified by 194 countries. The United Nations Convention against Torture outlaws torture. There are 146 parties to this treaty.

International law is very clear on the subject, but I think it's important to address why torture is immoral. One should always uphold the dignity of others. Immanuel Kant said, "Hence morality, and humanity insofar as it is capable of morality, is that which alone has dignity." As rational beings, we can respect the rights of others as we want our own rights to be respected. I think it is clear that torture does not uphold the dignity or rights of others. It degrades one's dignity and violates one's rights. Not only does it cause physical pain, but the psychological pain it causes can often be worse. [8]

My opponent's only moral defense seems to be that torture can save lives. In other words, he's using the ends to justify the means. While he can do this to justify torture, he can not do it to morally justify torture. The act of torture is immoral in its nature because it aims to harm others. While some may believe torture is necessary in certain situations, that does not make it morally permissible. As long as the resolution contains the phrase "morally permissible", my opponent cannot just justify torture in certain situations. He has to show that torture is morally permissible. My opponent has important questions to ask himself. Not only does he have to ask himself how torture is ever morally permissible, but he also has to ask himself how a violent act that has been shown to be ineffective in achieving its goals can be justified morally.

[1] http://www.npr.org...
[2] http://www.humanrightsfirst.org...
[3] http://www.newsweek.com...
[4] http://abcnews.go.com...
[5] http://www.washingtonpost.com...
[6] http://www.azcentral.com...
[7] http://www.newsweek.com...
[8] http://www.cnn.com...
Debate Round No. 1
Freeman

Pro

Here is how I see our debate playing out so far. Your approach to moral questions seems to be very deontological. You more or less confirm this when you quote Immanuel Kant in your essay. I, on the other hand, take a very teleological view of ethics. In particular I draw my inspiration from the utilitarian tradition, John Stewart Mill, John Rawls, Peter Singer etc.

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

I'm ok with your definition of torture.

===========================================================

Your position seems to be something close to the following. Let the heavens fall and hell be raised so long as justice prevails. This seems like a noble position to hold but it unfortunately does not sufficiently account for the complexities of our world.

If torture were always wrong, as you claim, then a few things would logically follow. Torture, under this view, would still be wrong even if we knew that by not using it tens of millions of people would die. So, here is my challenge to you. I would wish that you create a short paragraph expanding upon your position. It should be along the lines of "Millions of people should be allowed to die in a nuclear explosion even if torture was the only feasible means to save them because…" It shouldn't be so hard to construct such a paragraph if torture is always wrong, as you would have me believe. If you choose to not respond I will automatically assume that you don't have a coherent position.

===========================================================

"The collateral damage analogy is invalid because it's irrelevant. The fact that our country kills innocent civilians during war does not make it morally permissible. It clearly does not make torture morally permissible, especially since the intentions and objectives in combat and torture are often so different."

I have the lurking suspicion that you have fundamentally misunderstood my argument. My argument for the use of torture is an argument by analogy based on our willingness to accept collateral damage. So long as I can demonstrate the two are analogous and that collateral damage is morally permissible then my argument can stand.

===========================================================

"Your argument has a huge flaw in that it asserts that because we do something evil or morally depraved, that makes it morally acceptable."

I made no such argument. I think that collateral damage is morally permissible because it is unavoidable in the context of war. And the only way to avoid collateral damage is to avoid war at all times, which I view as a far worse position to adopt. Even the "smart" bombs we use are likely to incur collateral damage.

===========================================================

"Building rapports with detainees, instead of torturing them, helped the U.S. military track down and kill Abu Masub al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq."

This is completely irrelevant to the debate. The ticking time bomb scenario I outlined does not provide sufficient time for us to build a rapport with terrorists or to convince them of their own folly. Obviously if there is no imminent danger we should try to build trust with terrorists in our custody that may have useful information. You're pushing on an open door with that assertion.

===========================================================

"International law is quite clear on the subject. Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."

Once again this contention is absolutely irrelevant. Unless you beg the question by claiming that law makes an action moral/ immoral this has nothing to do with the resolution. The resolution I created was not "Torture is legally sanctioned under International law."

===========================================================

"I think it is clear that torture does not uphold the dignity or rights of others. It degrades one's dignity and violates one's rights. Not only does it cause physical pain, but the psychological pain it causes can often be worse."

It's clear that torture can cause pain but it is even clearer that war causes far worse. Torture will not leave us with amputees; it won't leave us with orphaned children; it won't leave women disemboweled and it wont accidentally cause schools to be bombed. War not only degrades the dignity of people it maims and kills them on a fairly predictable basis. Even though collateral damage is not directed at anyone it is more or less guaranteed to occur.

===========================================================

"Information obtained by torture is often unreliable because many people will be willing to say anything if it can get the pain to stop."

I've already addressed this. So, if anyone wants to know my position they can reread my seventh paragraph of my first round. However there is something I would like to add. Even if torture were only 5% reliable, as some would claim, this is more than a sufficient basis to justify its use in extreme situations. If there were even a 5% or 1 in 20 chance that we could stop a nuclear bomb by our use of torture to extract information then we should not waver in our resolve to employ it.

===========================================================

"As long as the resolution contains the phrase "morally permissible", my opponent cannot just justify torture in certain situations." Your slight of hand will not go unnoticed. Attempting to alter the resolution to your own advantage is no small infraction of the rules of debate. It would appear that you understood this when you wrote, "Torture is never morally permissible." You and I both know that the resolution is "Torture is sometimes morally permissible." In order to win all I need to do is produce one or two scenarios where torture can be morally justified. I need not make a universal or general argument for the practice of torture.

======
Case Pro
======
And now without further delay here is my trump card.

Premise#1
It is morally acceptable to knowingly incur collateral damage to prevent 1 million people from dying in the context of a defensive war.

Premise #2
Taking a course of action that will knowingly incur collateral damage is far worse than torturing a convicted terrorist for information if the ends to these scenarios are both the same.

Premise # 3
By analogy torturing a convicted terrorist to prevent 1 million people from dying is less ethically wrong than taking a course of action that will knowingly incur collateral damage if the goal is also to save 1 million people.

Conclusion
If Premise number 1 and 2 are true then torture can be morally justified as a defensive action to prevent 1 million people from dying.

I would venture a guess that premise number 1 is uncontroversial, at least to reasonable people. The rest of the argument hinges upon premise #2 being correct. If premise #2 were correct then 3, and 4 would logically follow.

If you think the argument is flawed then you will have to logically demonstrate why acting in a way that guarantees the deaths of innocent civilians is less wrong than torturing a convicted terrorist if the ends are both the same. Honestly I would be dumbstruck if someone could successfully argue this but I'm more than willing to accept the fact that I may be wrong.

Frankly I think this argument is so forceful that it is almost rhetorical but I am more than eager to have you point out any flaws in it.

All the best,
Freeman

Sources

http://www.ethicapublishing.com...
tribefan011

Con

I will not state my views in that format for several reasons. Firstly, it is impossible to know that torture is the only feasible means. Secondly, it's doubtful the suspect in the situation you describe would be found, making it hard for torture to even be a factor. Thirdly, I am not concerned with the ends in judging the morality of an action.

Again, the ends do not justify the means. My belief stems from the inherent dignity and rights we have as humans. As humans, we are developed enough and rational enough to recognize the rights and dignity of others. In the first round, my opponent conceded that torture violates human rights. In recognizing these human rights, my opponent and I acknowledge that it's morally wrong to deprive people of them. An action that impedes upon the freedom of another being is always morally reprehensible.

I did not misunderstand the argument as it was written. The argument did not explicitly make the point that because we are willing to accept collateral damage, we somehow make it morally acceptable. First of all, it's an argumentum ad populum to assume because people "accept" something, they make it morally permissible. Secondly, there was no evidence to back up the claim that many people think it's morally permissible. The two are not analogous. For one, torture is deliberate, while collateral damage is accidental. Collateral damage is more extreme as well because it completely deprives someone of their rights, rather than just depriving them of some rights.

My suggestion of building rapports was not irrelevant. There are many different things that can immediately build rapports. Putting someone who appears to be coming from the same background or someone who looks like the subject could help build rapport. Putting someone of the same race, religion, or nationality could help build rapport. The situations still provide time to build rapport.

The resolution you created is impossible to prove, as it is a generalization. The sheer fact that torture is not morally permissible by various moral standards makes it impossible for you to prove the resolution. International law is about as objective or universal as you get, as almost all countries on the planet have agreed to the law. This pertains to the resolution since my definition of "moral" was "of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior : ethical".

My opponent appears to have misunderstood my statement when accusing me of "slight of hand" of some sort. The point of my statement was that one can't just justify torture in certain situations to affirm the resolution. One has to morally justify torture in certain situations, a seemingly impossible task, as there is no objective set of moral standards.

The problem in my opponent's line of thinking comes with the first premise. This premise is just a claim, as there has been little evidence to suggest that it is morally acceptable. In the second premise, my opponent appears to be weighing the morality of different actions. This is irrelevant because something is morally wrong, regardless of other actions. Rather than showing that torture is morally permissible, my opponent states in the third premise that torture is "less ethically wrong". This implies that torture is ethically wrong. This is a fatal mistake in my opponent's argument as it completely contradicts the resolution.

I would like to end by saying that as long as we dignify human rights, we cannot morally defend the violation of such rights. Using the ends to justify violating rights sets a dangerous precedent. It sets a precedent that shows that someone can have their basic human liberties taken away if another believes it will help out society or humanity in the end. This can lead down a dangerous road, and it will only be worse for society at that point.
Debate Round No. 2
Freeman

Pro

Let me first thank my opponent for his willingness to debate with me on this issue. I do appreciate the clarity and thoughtfulness of your response.

I've ceased to be amazed when debates like this fail to end in a proper meeting of the minds. Our views on these matters could not be any more divergent so we must let the voters decide who made the more reasonable case.

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

"As humans, we are developed enough and rational enough to recognize the rights and dignity of others. In the first round, my opponent conceded that torture violates human rights. In recognizing these human rights, my opponent and I acknowledge that it's morally wrong to deprive people of them."

The morality of an action, in my view, is dependent upon its consequences. There really couldn't be any more divergence in our two views.

======================
"The argument did not explicitly make the point that because we are willing to accept collateral damage, we somehow make it morally acceptable. First of all, it's an argumentum ad populum to assume because people "accept" something, they make it morally permissible."

I didn't appeal to the crowd when I claimed that collateral damage was morally acceptable. I claimed that if we are willing to accept collateral damage then we should also be willing to use torture in certain circumstances.

I later gave an argument why collateral damage was morally acceptable when I wrote; "I think that collateral damage is morally permissible because it is unavoidable in the context of war. And the only way to avoid collateral damage is to avoid war at all times, which I view as a far worse position to adopt. Even the "smart" bombs we use are likely to incur collateral damage."

===================
"The problem in my opponent's line of thinking comes with the first premise. This premise is just a claim, as there has been little evidence to suggest that it is morally acceptable."

I'm not sure why you're going down this path considering that you agree with me on this subject. Indeed, you more or less conceded premise #1 when you wrote the following, "I believe in the Just War doctrine as outlined in paragraph 2309 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I also believe that collateral damage in war is inevitable, though actions should be taken to make sure it occurs as seldom as possible."

If you want to deny the legitimacy of the first premise then that's fine with me. But your not going to be able to do this without repudiating what you had written earlier.

For those that have forgotten here is my argument one more time.

Premise#1
It is morally acceptable to knowingly incur collateral damage to prevent 1 million people from dying in the context of a defensive war.

Premise #2
Taking a course of action that will knowingly incur collateral damage is far worse than torturing a convicted terrorist for information if the ends to these scenarios are both the same.

Premise # 3
By analogy torturing a convicted terrorist to prevent 1 million people from dying is less ethically wrong than taking a course of action that will knowingly incur collateral damage if the goal is also to save 1 million people.

Conclusion
If Premise number 1 and 2 are true then torture can be morally justified as a defensive action to prevent 1 million people from dying.

=======================
"This is irrelevant because something is morally wrong, regardless of other actions. Rather than showing that torture is morally permissible, my opponent states in the third premise that torture is "less ethically wrong". This implies that torture is ethically wrong."

The use of torture is unfortunate, no doubt about that. But in certain situations it can be the lesser of two evils and thus the moral choice. That's what I was driving at when I wrote that it's less ethically wrong than alternatives in some scenarios.

=======================
"Using the ends to justify violating rights sets a dangerous precedent. It sets a precedent that shows that someone can have their basic human liberties taken away if another believes it will help out society or humanity in the end. This can lead down a dangerous road, and it will only be worse for society at that point."

You've just committed the slippery slope fallacy. Did you honestly think I wouldn't notice?

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

Allow me to take you on one last thought experiment. I suspect that it will put our two views up to the ultimate test.

Imagine that you are the commanding officer of the US armed forces in Iraq. Rebel fighters have smuggled a nuclear weapon into the country and are preparing to detonate it in some highly populated part of the country within an hour. If they succeed in this diabolical mission tens of thousands and perhaps hundreds of thousands of soldiers and civilians will be killed. However, there is good news. Not only do you have the ringleader of this operation in your custody but you also know the exact location of the detonation device that can explode the warhead. In fact if you bomb the building where the detonation device is being held you will disarm the bomb and thus avert catastrophe. Here is where things get tricky. The building where the bomb detonator is being held is right next to a school and a hospital. And if you decide to bomb it you will likely incur at least a dozen or so civilian casualties.

Here are your two options.

Choice #1
You can call an air strike to bomb the enemy's base where the detonation device is being held and thus avert catastrophe. However, your choice to do this will likely incur at the minimum 12 casualties, children, women, teachers etc.

Choice #2
You can torture the leader of the operation for the remote disarmament codes of the nuclear weapon. Even if the torture attempt fails and the information is not extracted you will still have time to call in the air strike at the last moment.

If you believe that choice #2 represents the more ethical decision, as I do, then I would deeply appreciate your vote.

If you believe that choice #1 represents the height of ethical wisdom then, by all means, vote for my opponent.

Choose wisely comrades; people's lives are on the line.

Best,
Freeman
tribefan011

Con

Just to make a few things clear, the inevitability of something does not make it morally permissible. I recognize that killing an innocent person is always wrong. However, it is sometimes inevitable when in war. Not all wars are justified, but I believe that some are, and collateral damage happens to be a horrible side-effect of them. The fact that it is committed in war does not make it morally permissible. I do not agree with my opponent that collateral damage is ever morally permissible. It does not contradict my original statement, as the inevitability of something, again, does not make it morally permissible. It violates the right to life.

My opponent hasn't offered any evidence in regards to how many people believe collateral damage is morally permissible. This would seem instrumental in his reasoning since it's largely based on whether we accept collateral damage. I have shown why it's not a very good analogy. Collateral damage is accidental, while torture is deliberate.

I have previously shown the faults in my opponent's premises. They were not refuted.

As for the claim that I committed the slippery slope fallacy, that's not necessarily true. In this debate, we have recognized that torture violates human rights. Now, if one effectively uses the ends to justify something that violates rights we both view as inherent in our existence, that endangers those rights. Those rights are no longer as inherent as we think they are if we attempt to violate them from a moral standpoint.

My opponent's third situation only offers two choices when there is at least one more. The school and hospital nearby can be evacuated before the air strike. The second choice assumes that torture is the only viable option, which is not the case, as I have proven before.

To close this debate, I think not only my side has affirmed the resolution, but my opponent has affirmed the resolution as well. He has not only admitted that torture violates human rights, but he has also implied that it's ethically wrong. Even in Round 3, he recognizes that it's an evil. Being more morally permissible does not make something morally permissible. Weighing morality does not, in effect, change something from being morally impermissible to being morally permissible. Again, the ends do not justify the means. We both have recognized the evil in torture.

The resolution does not say ,"Torture is more morally permissible than killing many people." Rather it states, "Torture is sometimes morally permissible." Weighing the morality of actions against one another does not make one action morally permissible if it's morally impermissible otherwise.

I would once again like to thank you for this debate.
Debate Round No. 3
18 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by ElHombre 3 years ago
ElHombre
I don't think that violence is ever justified. It perpetuates itself. Although it is difficult to see, I think that we would be immensely happier down the line if we cut off all acts of violence now. Even the smallest ones and the ones that may indeed save others. None. No violence. No harm done to even the smallest of creatures. End it immediately in all it's forms. And then watch beautiful things unfold.
Posted by dan1 7 years ago
dan1
"What does RFD mean?"

Reason For Decision
Posted by Freeman 7 years ago
Freeman
What does RFD mean?
Posted by LightningRod 7 years ago
LightningRod
RFD, same as tribefan011's.
Posted by tribefan011 7 years ago
tribefan011
I don't really care that much, but votes of 4, 5, and 7 were given to the other side with no RFD's. I obviously think I had better arguments, but that's beside the point. There is no debating who used more reliable sources.
Posted by tribefan011 7 years ago
tribefan011
Yes, that seems to be an eternal debate. Morality can be such a hard subject to debate, since it's such a subjective topic.
Posted by Freeman 7 years ago
Freeman
Thanks for the debate. Maybe we can argue about the warrants of deontological v. teleological ethics some time in the future.
Posted by tribefan011 7 years ago
tribefan011
RFD

B/A: Con
Conduct: Tied. Both sides remained cordial.
Spelling and grammar: Con. Pro had more grammatical mistakes, and I can point them out if someone wants me to.
Arguments: Con. Pro conceded that torture is ethically wrong.
Sources: Con. Pro's first source was irrelevant to the resolution. I didn't bother to go through the second source, as Pro failed to show how he used the second source. I had 8 sources, which all were pretty relevant to the resolution.
Posted by tribefan011 7 years ago
tribefan011
"Unfortunately that didn't get touched on in the round, but that's absurd. Morality is a guide to action, so something that's inevitable can't be immoral, otherwise, morality fails to tell us anything. What ever is the "least bad" is the moral option."

The problem is you're taking it out of context. It's not inevitable without action. The action has to be taken to engage in war. Even then, much collateral damage can be avoided. The sheer fact that we do something does not make it morally permissible. The fact that we take steps to avoid collateral damage shows that we think it's wrong. Justification and moral justification are not the same. I can simply say that greed is inevitable in society and obviously in a capitalist society. That does not make greed morally permissible.

It's not absurd in the slightest.
Posted by Freeman 7 years ago
Freeman
"Also, both sides stated claims in the deontology v utility debate, but didn't really get into the warrents, which was disapointing."

Excellent point, I'll try to do that next time.
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