The Instigator
Freeman
Pro (for)
Winning
28 Points
The Contender
ReganFan
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Torture is sometimes morally permissible.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
Freeman
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/8/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,027 times Debate No: 9172
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (4)

 

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 a rapist has taken your child captive. He has hidden her away in a dungeon somewhere in the United States. Luckily you capture the man but he is unwilling to disclose the location of your child. Unfortunately your child has a very rare blood disorder and cannot survive more than 24 hours without medication. For the sake of the argument let us assume the ONLY two VIABLE options are to idly do nothing or to torture the rapist for information on your child's whereabouts. Any serious response to this situation should be along the lines of; "My child should be allowed to die because…" or "We should torture the rapist because…" choose wisely.

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.

Definition of torture
Article 1 of the Convention defines torture as:
Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.
– Convention Against Torture, Article 1.1

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

Con

TORTURE IS ALWAYS ACCEPTABLE, JESUS LOVES WATERBOARDING PEOPLE HE DID IT TONS OF TIMES IN THE BIBLE!
and your probably a liberal taken in my the liberal internet and if you dont think the internets are liberal i have proof right here http://www.youtube.com...;
Debate Round No. 1
Freeman

Pro

My opponent's incompetence is flagrantly obvious. No further comments necessary.

All the best,
Freeman
ReganFan

Con

its flagrantly obvious that your losing the debate
Debate Round No. 2
Freeman

Pro

I apologize to anyone reading this. I'm sorry this couldn't have been more productive.

All the best,
Freeman
ReganFan

Con

Jesus loves Yall!!
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by TCFreedom76 7 years ago
TCFreedom76
Pro's argument is extremely intelligent. While I do not support the use of torture as a general means of interrogation to condemn it outright as always and in all cases immoral one would also have to condemn warfare as Pro suggests but also any use of force. To be completely certain an individual commits a crime is impossible, and thus we operate our legal system in a manner that it is possible to imprison or kill an innocent person. Which is more wrong, locking up an innocent person or waterboarding a terrorist? Also guns fired by cops at criminals can kill and maim innocents just as they can in warfare, both bystanders and potentially innocent suspects. To be morally consistent one would not only have to be a pacifist but be an anarchist as well, as the state is premised upon it's ability to monopolize the use of force. While I recognize the strong moral concerns about the use of force I agree that it is often the lesser of the two evils in a situation. It is painful how so many people, especially on the left, cannot see the glaring inconsistency between the fact that the state could theoretically kill someone, and innocent bystanders, for tax evasion and their blanket statements that everyone that doesn't agree with them 100% on torture and the death penalty is somehow an evil person.
Posted by RoyLatham 7 years ago
RoyLatham
Pro made a thoughtful argument, too bad Con decided to just kill the debate. Famed liberal jurist Alan Dershowitz supports the Pro position. He argues that a Court order should be obtained to validate that torture is justified, similar to the procedure for a search warrant.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by MTGandP 7 years ago
MTGandP
FreemanReganFanTied
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Vote Placed by TCFreedom76 7 years ago
TCFreedom76
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Vote Placed by RoyLatham 7 years ago
RoyLatham
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Vote Placed by patsox834 7 years ago
patsox834
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