The Instigator
MyDinosaurHands
Pro (for)
Winning
3 Points
The Contender
Romanii
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Use Torture? (See Scenario)

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
MyDinosaurHands
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/22/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,118 times Debate No: 42816
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (11)
Votes (3)

 

MyDinosaurHands

Pro

Full Scenario:

A terrorist is being held under the custody of US security agencies. The security agencies have information that a terrorist is likely in the final stages of preparation, and an attack will soon happen if action is not taken. There is a 25% chance the terrorist has information that is related to the plot, and that information can be helpful in attempting to stop it.

Should the terrorist be tortured in order to attempt to gain information?

I say yes he should, my opponent Romanii, should he choose to accept, says he should not be tortured.

First Round will be for acceptance.
Romanii

Con

I accept this debate.
I will be arguing that torture should not be used in that scenario.

Good luck!
Debate Round No. 1
MyDinosaurHands

Pro

In order to determine what action to take in this scenario, it is necessary to weigh all the possible actions, and determine which produces the most desirable outcome. There are two options, torture or don't torture. If the option to not torture is chosen, the terrorist is unlikely to simply volunteer the information when asked. So this leads to two possible outcomes.

1A) For whatever reason no terrorist plot is carried out, nobody dies due to gunfire or bombings, and the terrorist in custody goes un-tortured.
1B) The terrorist plot is executed, and numerous people die. The terrorist in custody goes un-tortured.
Clearly choice A is preferable.

Now with the choice to torture the terrorist in custody, outcomes become a little more complicated.

2A) The terrorist is tortured and provides information vital to stopping the terrorist plot. This information is used to stop the terrorist plot. Numerous lives are saved and one man has been tortured as the price.
2B) The terrorist is tortured but provides no useful information. The terrorist plot is successfully carried out. Numerous people die, and one man has been tortured.
2C) The terrorist is tortured and claims there is no terrorist plot in final stages. No plot is carried out. Nobody has died and one man has been tortured.

Out of these possible outcomes I will make my argument for why a terrorist should be tortured for information. Clearly choice A for not torturing is the best outcome out of all of these, but it also takes an unjustifiable risk.

Argument: The Greater Evil

I will not pretend that subjecting another human being to pain without their permission is good, or something to be taken lightly. It is most definitely an evil, and it should not be performed unless an alternative outcome in avoiding this evil is a greater evil. In regards to our scenario, I submit that the deaths of multiple people is a greater evil than a single man experiencing pain in order to attempt to save the lives of multiple people. To not torture the terrorist is to not even try to avoid the greater evil. My opponent and I agreed on 25/75 odds, and that is more than enough to justify this evil. If you have a 1 in 4 chance to stop the deaths of many, it should be taken without hesitation.

"Plan for the worst, hope for the best" is a common saying. To not torture the individual in an attempt to stop numerous deaths would be hoping for the best (hoping for 1A), but due to the fact that they are not taking this action against the terrorist plot, they are not planning for the worst, and will be regretful if the worst comes anyways.

To torture the terrorist would be planning for the worst while also hoping for the best. You are trying to take action against this terrorist plot, and as anybody would of course do, you are hoping for the best.
Romanii

Con

Your arguments would be valid, but only if you were SURE the terrorist has information.
There is no doubt that torturing one guilty man is worth it if it means saving many innocent lives.

However, in this case, there is only a 25% chance that the terrorist has information, in which case there is a 75% chance that you would be torturing an innocent man, and that is never okay.
Imagine that you are an innocent man and somehow got framed as a terrorist because of circumstances outside of your control. You wouldn't care that your torturers are "planning for the worst"; you would simply be longing for the pain to end so you can stop being punished for something you didn't DO.

You can't torture someone unless you are sure of their guilt, because torturing an innocent man is a CRIME, and there is no way to make it up to them for the physical pain they have had to endure.

I look forward to hearing your next argument.
Debate Round No. 2
MyDinosaurHands

Pro

Thanks to my opponent for the arguments.

Before I get into rebuttals integral to this debate, I'd like to rebuttal the use of the word 'innocent'. I feel the need to rebuttal this because it's the kind of descriptive language that can sway voters. My point here is that the man in question is not really innocent, even if he has no information. He is a terrorist who has made himself an enemy of America. If he has no information, he is not innocent, but merely ignorant towards the plot. Now his lack of innocence is not the reason I condone his torture, the reason for that is the possibility of saving lives. Onwards!

My opponent says my argument is not valid because there is only a 25% torturing him would save lives. Unsurprisingly, I disagree with this. The name I labeled my argument was 'The Greater Evil', in reference to the evils that were in play in this scenario. The evils in regard to the act of torture itself are torturing a man who turned out to have information, or a man who actually had no information.

Clearly, it would be horrible in one man is tortured fruitlessly. But is that a greater evil than the deaths of numerous people? Obviously, it isn't, as more people and more families would be affected by numerous deaths. The deaths of many should be avoided at any cost that is not worse than the numerous deaths.

And what if this man is not tortured, and the plot is executed, and numerous people die? How can the agents who had this man in custody justify their lack of action to the families of the dead and afflicted?

If you had tortured that man, and discovered that he did not know anything, that action is still justified, through the fact that it was committed in the interests of the greater good.

Consider the two worst evils in this scenario. The deaths of many, or the fruitless torture of one. The deaths of many is by far the worse evil, and since it is, it is justified to risk the lesser evil in order to stop the greater. It would simply be a disservice to the American people's safety to not risk the lesser evil in order to stop the greater.
Romanii

Con

I'm sorry. I must have misunderstood the scenario...
I thought we were dealing with a SUSPECTED terrorist here; not an already known terrorist...
I'm actually in favor of using torture if we already know he is a terrorist...

I suppose it is up to you what to do with this debate then...
I suggest one of the following:
1) change the scenario
2) make me continue defending the non-use of torture in this scenario (I probably won't do very well)
3) stop the debate where it is and make you automatically win

If you want to do something other than the above then go ahead; I'll just go along with whatever you say.
Sorry for the misunderstanding...
Debate Round No. 3
MyDinosaurHands

Pro

I can't argue against the scenario where the person is only a suspected terrorist. I believe giving the government the ability to torture people who they haven't proven to be enemies to be a bad idea, as they could use this to infringe upon the rights of Americans.

So I'm sorry to say, but I think we should just go with option 3. Or at least stop the debate and let voters decide.
Romanii

Con

It seems, then, that we are in agreement over the issue of torture.
It would be nice if people wouldn't vote on this debate, since it floppped just because of an honest misunderstanding...
Thank you for your time, and, again, sorry for messing this up.
Debate Round No. 4
11 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Romanii 3 years ago
Romanii
@Concade (voter):
Yeah, I guess it is my fault...
Posted by Hard_Muscle_Guy_30 3 years ago
Hard_Muscle_Guy_30
Response to ararmer1919

So they squeal like pigs, do they ?

Well, don't you think you would squeal too, if you were being tortured by soldiers?
Posted by ModerateLiberalism 3 years ago
ModerateLiberalism
Has no one considered the possibility that torture is never justified because it directly violates deontological ethics?
Posted by ararmer1919 3 years ago
ararmer1919
Yes I have. Not necessarily torture as far as the term goes but yes I have. And a really good point wrich, which is why I'm not really that found of the use of torture. It really comes down to a hit it miss philosophy. Sure there's a chance you can get some valuable information on something but then there's also the chance that the guy just spouts out some random BS just to make the pain stop. So it's really just an as the situation dictates from situation to situation on how effective or immoral torture is.
Posted by wrichcirw 3 years ago
wrichcirw
Everyone breaks...the only question is when. The problem with torture is that after you break someone, who's to say you're left with anything useful?

http://www.outsidethebeltway.com...
Posted by Romanii 3 years ago
Romanii
LOL Ararmer,
Have you ever interrogated one of those pigs?
Posted by ararmer1919 3 years ago
ararmer1919
Jacob have you ever interrogated one of them? Trust me they squeal just like any other pig... I mean human.
Posted by Romanii 3 years ago
Romanii
Your argument looks good!
But I'm too tired to think right now; I will post my argument tomorrow.
Posted by JacobAnderson 3 years ago
JacobAnderson
Yes. But they are still willing to die for their cause. I just don't think torture would work.
Posted by MyDinosaurHands 3 years ago
MyDinosaurHands
Death by suicide bombs on your body is faster than waterboarding.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Buckethead31594 3 years ago
Buckethead31594
MyDinosaurHandsRomaniiTied
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Reasons for voting decision: I've reconsidered my stance on this debate. I have no reason to negate points, because of Pro's "Greater Evil" argument. Nonetheless, I will not vote- for the sake of Con's logic. So, I choose to negate my own vote.
Vote Placed by Concade 3 years ago
Concade
MyDinosaurHandsRomaniiTied
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Reasons for voting decision: I understand this debate ended on a misunderstanding, but to be fair to the pro, the premise of the debate clearly stated "terrorist" and made no mention of a "suspected terrorist". Judging on the first 2 1/2 rounds, the winning argument for me is Pro's "Greater Evil" argument.
Vote Placed by iamanatheistandthisiswhy 3 years ago
iamanatheistandthisiswhy
MyDinosaurHandsRomaniiTied
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Reasons for voting decision: I am not voting as requested, but I did find the arguments from both of you good and so I thought I would just stop by and say that. Really nice debate, and good that you came to a consensus. I would be interested to see a debate by either of you on a topic of the innocent situation versus someone.