The Instigator
Kinesis
Pro (for)
Losing
95 Points
The Contender
Maikuru
Con (against)
Winning
109 Points

Using a time machine to go back and kill Hitler would be a bad idea.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/27/2009 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 10,174 times Debate No: 10251
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (57)
Votes (40)

 

Kinesis

Pro

I thank my opponent for the chance to debate. My opponent may not argue from semantics, as it is clear what the resolution states, although an exception may be made if he/she comes up with a particularly interesting objection to the resolution.

Firstly, an argument against the viability of time travel itself;

-- The Classic Paradox --

First, imagine time travel were made possible, and somebody travels back in time in order to meet their grandfather, whom they never knew. Now, say that due to an unfortunate series of circumstances, he ended up killing his grandfather before he got the chance to meet his grandmother. In this case, the time traveller would never come to exist in the first place. But this is logically contradictory, because if he didn't exist, he could not have killed his own grandfather and thus prevent his own existence. It seems that the only way to solve this contradiction is to conclude that the traveller could never have travelled in the first place.

-- It could have been a lot worse --

It is true that many, many lives could potentially be saved if Hitler were killed before he embarked on his mad, genocidal conquest. However, it is also true that the war could have turned out much, much worse. For instance, Hitler made many errors in his strategies, and also made prideful decisions at the cost of the war effort. He was, by many measures, an incompetent leader. [1], [2] If he were killed, a more intelligent, war seasoned and equally evil person could rise to power instead, and either drag the war on longer, or win it, which would suck.

-- Hitler with a time machine --

Okay, so our time machine appears in a flash of light (or using an unconvincing fade in effect), and our assassin steps out...to be shot/captured by a passing German patrol. Hitler seizes control of powerful time control technology, and, well...it doesn't take much imagination to see that horrible consequences would ensue. This is, of course, only a possibility, and perhaps our traveller has safeguards against it-but there is no guarantee this is the case, and given the disastrous consequences should it happen, the safe bet is to just leave history well enough alone.

[1] http://worldwar2history.info...
[2] http://www.2worldwar2.com...
Maikuru

Con

Thanks to my opponent for presenting this interesting opportunity. I look forward to discussing this age-old question.

::Rebuttals::

1. My opponent points to the Grandfather paradox as evidence that time travel to the past is impossible. Of course, given that our task is to consider the ramifications rather than the likelihood of time travel, this point is irrelevant. The nature of the resolution implies its possibility for the sake of our discussion. Our goal is to debate the merits of a hypothetical scenario, not argue the latest scientific theories on time travel.

2. Pro contends that killing Hitler opens the door for more competent officers to take his place. However, any time-hopping assassin worth his salt knows to strike the madman earlier in the timeline, before he spearheads the war effort. Unless my opponent can demonstrate that the atrocities attributed to Hitler were somehow inevitable, we can assume that eliminating him in his youth would effectively prevent these acts.

3. Again, simply adjusting the point at which our assassin strikes completely removes any danger of strengthening the Nazi party. Killing Hitler early enough would actually deliver a devastating blow to the future strengthening of the group. Besides, given the unknown nature of the time machine in question, my opponent assumes too much; it could operate outside our perception of time, require some futuristic power source, become obsolete after use, etc.

::Con's Case::

As my opponent has yet to produce an adequate case in favor of the resolution, my initial argument will be simple.

Hitler's disturbing blend of racism, nationalism, and continuous exposure to destructive and prejudiced influences [1] led him to play a pivotal role in the instigation of WWII and the Jewish holocaust [2][3]. By removing him well before he gained such devastating influence, one significantly reduces the likelihood of these acts and their combined death toll of nearly 50 million [4]. With no evidence presented to indicate thess massacres was unavoidable or that altering the timeline would result in greater loss, a time-traveling hit on Hitler is hardly a bad idea.

With that, my 3000 characters are up. I'll turn things back to Pro.

::References::

1. http://en.wikipedia.org...
2. http://thirdreich.net...
3. http://www.gendercide.org...
4. http://warchronicle.com...
Debate Round No. 1
Kinesis

Pro

Before I begin, I'd like to apologise for putting a character limit on the debate. I only have limited time, and I didn't want this debate to turn into an 8000 character slog fest. With that said;

-- Counter rebuttals --

1. My opponent claims that he need not refute the grandfather paradox because it is 'implied' that time travel is possible. For a start, this is irrelevant; because the argument upholds the resolution, he must refute it, or he effectively concedes the debate regardless of what is implied, and secondly, the resolution implies no such thing. Where in the resolution does it say we are only to consider the 'ramifications' of time travel? The resolution claims the whole package, including time travel, is a bad idea.

2. Many factors, not just Hitler's ambitions, led to the Second World War. Most obviously, the First World War, the Treaty of Versailles, the Dawes Plan, the Great Depression, the Japanese invasion of Manchuria and the dithering of
the League of Nations. [1] Taking all these factors into account, it is quite probable that the war would have started even without Hitler. Perhaps the war would not start as quickly without Hitler pushing events along, but that just leaves the door open for a nuclear war. [2]

3. Even striking early on would not remove the risk of the time machine being captured by someone with evil intentions. The fact remains that we are risking time travel technology falling into the hands of a suspicion-filled era rife with patriotism and national rivalry. [3] Hitler isn't the only person who would reak havoc with such power. Also, claiming that the time machine wouldn't work for them is just speculation. All we have hypothesized is a time machine, simply pulling safety features out of thin air doesn't remove the risk.

-- My opponents case --

Removing Hitler would by no means prevent the Second World War. If anything, considering the other factors that led to the war, removing Hitler would merely delay the war until even more terrible, destructive weapons were available. No only would removing Hitler open the door for a more competent leader to take control of the war effort, and potentially win the war, but it would also risk an even more terrible war with greater, even nuclear, weapons.

-- A fourth argument --

Changing the timeline would drastically change the present. Apart from the logical difficulties (which remain unaddressed), there are moral problems. It would lead to many people never being born, and others with entirely different lives. By changing the past, we would be altering the lives of billions of people. Who has the right to play God in such a way? To wield so much power? Surely, no human has the right to impact so many other people's lives so drastically.

[1] http://www.bbc.co.uk...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org...
Maikuru

Con

I thank Kinesis for his prompt reply.

::Rebuttals::

1. By creating a resolution that makes time travel an obligatory part of the debate, Pro afforded it credence. His attempt to undermine this by attacking an inferred part of the topic discredits both the spirit of our discussion and his stance against semantics.

In addition, this paradox is open to numerous rebuttals. It fails to address the possibility that changes in the past are actualized through parallel timelines, that traveling to the past becomes a necessary component of the traveler's future birth, or that no paradox exists so long as the creation of the time machine and the user are not disturbed [1].

2. Pro downplays Hitler's significance in shaping WWII, despite his role in either capitalizing upon or creating the other potential causes. It was he who broke the Treaty of Versailles, corrupted a weakened Germany, illegally rebuilt its military, abused the League of Nations, sought war against the USSR, and forced greater Europe to declare war [2, see: Hitler's Foreign Policy]. As these elements all hinged on one man, his removal would very likely prevent the escalation of hostilities and pacify the German nuclear program, which was militarized under Nazi command [3, see: 1st & 2nd Uranverein].

3. The notion that a group with the knowledge and resources to attempt such a significant mission would do so ill-equipped or ignorant of the potential risks (if the nature of the time machine allows for any risks) is illogical. If we are to "hypothesize" that this device exists, we may similarly speculate on its expected properties and the preparation of its users. Pro's selective interpretation of this issue is convenient but insufficient.

4. Pro's qualms concerning damaging the timeline are unfounded, as Hitler's removal essentially guarantees a positive shift in terms of both lives saved and resources available. Familiarity with our timeline does not immediately make it the most favorable, especially considering the abundant benefits of a history sans Hitler. Unless Pro can establish with equal certainty that altering the past would produce a net negative result in the present, his doubts can be disregarded.

::Con's Case::

A Hitler-led Nazi party was an essential component of immeasurable loss; his political savvy expanded Germany's power, his belligerence forced a declaration of war, and his venomous beliefs set off a genocide. Pro has named no other individual or group with the necessary capability, opportunity, and intent to spark war in Europe and prompt ethnic cleansing, meaning the resulting death and destruction remain attributable to Hitler.

::References::

1. http://en.wikipedia.org...
2. http://www.bbc.co.uk...
3. http://en.wikipedia.org...-
Debate Round No. 2
Kinesis

Pro

Thanks to Maikuru for a fun first debate!

--Last word on time travel--

I fail to see what is wrong with attacking a debate point by attacking the foundation on which it stands. If time travel is untenable, then so is any attempt to alter the timeline, and thus travelling back in time to kill Hitler is a bad idea. I suspect a conduct point hinges on this, so I implore voters to take note of Con's sidestepping of the issue until my last round, when little room remains for me to defend the contention.

The evidence for parallel universes is scanty at best, and lacks falsifiability [1]. The 'self consistency' principle on which the second rebuttal stands presupposes that History MUST be consistent, which is an ad hoc assumption [2] and the third seems at best unbelievably implausible.

I shall leave the last argument as it is (though I think it is clear that Maikuru has not responded properly to it- I wasn't arguing against 'damaging' the timeline, but rather against anyone's right to change the timeline) in order to defend two contentions that I think are vital to the debate.

1. WW2 would probably have started at some point even without Hitler.
2. The German war effort would have been more devastating without Hitler's incompetence heading it.

Consider this highly detailed, heavily edited wikipedia page on the subject [3]. It lists numerous causes, yet only a fraction of it discusses Hitler's intervention as a cause of the war. Of course Hitler pushed along the war effort with his propaganda skills and soaring rhetoric, but are we really to believe that all these factors would not have culminated in conflict without him? His removal would only delay the escalation of hostilities, not prevent them. Furthermore, Con has not given his reasons for thinking that Hitler alone could have committed the acts Con listed. Another bitter leader could easily have taken control of the situation as Hitler did.

For the second, I should point out that Con has not contested that if the war started, removing Hitler leaves open the door for a more competent leader-so the argument that if the war started, it would be directed more efficiently against the allies, culminating in a even longer war or even a loss for the allies, stands. If the first point stands, this does.

Finally, delaying WW2 by removing Hitler risks nuclear war. With more time to advance nuclear weapons, and a likely hostile government to support it, Germany might try to end opposition by plunging the world into nuclear war- something that simply cannot be risked. It was only after a set of lucky coincidences that the nuclear bomb was invented in America first, and Con risks upsetting this fortunate historical fact by altering history so radically.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org...
Maikuru

Con

Thanks to Kinesis and the readers. It's been fun!

1. Pro's disregard for implicit parameters of the resolution is disappointing, especially in light of his opening plea for a straightforward debate.

The theory of branching timelines and the non-disturbance clause of the paradox, which states that no problem occurs unless the creation of the time machine is prevented, are logically sound [1]. Demands for greater certainty are unreasonable considering the imaginary nature of the paradox. These counter-arguments are plausible, have garnered no disproof from Pro, and render null the paradox.

As for "side stepping" this argument, my initial negation addressed the central issue of this contention: its inappropriateness. Given the character limit, the space I've afforded this non-issue has been generous.

2. Pro's source lists volatile factors present before the war, but fails to address Hitler's connection to each. Tense foreign relations and disputed treaties mean nothing without a violent leader willing to break international laws and invade countries. Despite claiming that "another bitter leader" would suffice, Pro has failed to even hint at a group or individual with the opportunity, means, and desire to take steps toward genocide in Hitler's stead.

Hitler's oratory skills and military insight transformed the defunct Nazi party into the leading political power in Germany [2]. Had it not been for this driving force, the country's path would have been different. Their military was in ruins, the League of Nations was sympathetic to their turmoil, and Europe had no plans for combat [3, see: Hitler's Foreign Policy]. Also, Germany's nuclear program was reactivated on Hitler's orders [4, see: 1st & 2nd Uranverein], eliminating the likelihood of nuclear war without him.

3. Pro has conceded this point.

4. My rebuttal here was clear. Hitler's removal almost certainly amounts to a net gain for the resulting timeline, so a premium placed on lives favors the Con position. Misgivings about power-wielding are baseless without equally probable evidence to the contrary, which has not been provided. Avoidance of my response is tantamount to concession.

::Closing::

Hitler birthed the Nazi party and instigated nearly 50 million deaths. Still, Pro argues that in his absence, a wiser, equally bigoted soldier with equivalent skills in foreign policy, military tactics, and propaganda would not only perform similar enough actions to start a war, but also do a superior job and cause more destruction! This outlandish belief fails in the face of the sureness with which Hitler's death would be a good idea.

::References::

1. http://en.wikipedia.org...
2. http://thirdreich.net...
3. http://www.bbc.co.uk...
4. http://en.wikipedia.org...
Debate Round No. 3
57 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by N.Assel 3 years ago
N.Assel
No one knows what would happen if Hitler had not started the war. Maybe Jews have captured the world or the black people would be slaves until now, or there would be China at all. In general I agree with the pro. What happened in the past is better not to try to change, even if it is possible.
Posted by TheAntidoter 4 years ago
TheAntidoter
5 Words Command & Conquer: Red Alert
Posted by Maikuru 6 years ago
Maikuru
The validity of my argument is based in Pro's own words:

"My opponent may not argue from semantics, as it is clear what the resolution states, although an exception may be made if he/she comes up with a particularly interesting objection to the resolution."

With that, Pro both legitimized time travel as a fundamental element of the resolution and invalidated his first contention.

@ Kinesis: It's an awesome debate; it deserves extra attention! It also doesn't hurt that it counts as your only tie, drawing extra attention to it. As such, I'd appreciate it if you lost a few more. I can help with that, if you'd like =D
Posted by Cliff.Stamp 6 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
"I'd disagree, Cliff. The fact that Pro presents a semantics-based argument in the first round does not protect it from criticism, nor does it negate his earlier assertion that the title reflects the resolution."

I agree you can attack the argument, but this is not the issue, the issue was your line or argument which was :

"The nature of the resolution implies its possibility for the sake of our discussion. Our goal is to debate the merits of a hypothetical scenario, not argue the latest scientific theories on time travel."

It was clear in the OP that the classic grandfather paradox was brought out and thus it can not be ignored so trivially. I would accept if Kinesis had brought this in without clarification, i.e., he OP was just definitions and he started an argument in the second - then I would agree you could cry havoc and let loose the semantic dogs of war and you could argue the resolution implied such an argument could not be used.
Posted by Kinesis 6 years ago
Kinesis
lol, I can't believe people are still voting on this debate.
Posted by Maikuru 6 years ago
Maikuru
"His attempt to undermine this by attacking an inferred part of the topic discredits both the spirit of our discussion and his stance against semantics." not when it is clearly in the OP - Cliff.Stamp

I'd disagree, Cliff. The fact that Pro presents a semantics-based argument in the first round does not protect it from criticism, nor does it negate his earlier assertion that the title reflects the resolution.
Posted by bluesteel 6 years ago
bluesteel
RFD:

conduct - arguing the implausibility of time travel is bad sportsmanship when its implicit in the topic
convincing - the arguments about killing Hitler earlier in the time line are top notch
sources - mainly due to pro's over-reliance on wikipedia
Posted by Freeman 6 years ago
Freeman
To counteract m93samman, jat93 and debatek3, I award Maikuru 7 points.
Posted by Maikuru 6 years ago
Maikuru
All this bombing is very confusing. It's not as though either of us were arguing in favor of Nazism lol.
Posted by debaterbayne1 6 years ago
debaterbayne1
Whoa... Did he just copy someones case???
40 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by 9spaceking 2 years ago
9spaceking
KinesisMaikuruTied
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Vote Placed by OberHerr 5 years ago
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Vote Placed by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro was able to show that the war was started not by one man but by a multitude of factors. Con was also unable to adequately refute Pro's contention that Hitler as incompetent and made many mistakes, showing that a better leader would be even more devastating. Even if the first point was given to Con and time travel was easily possible, Pro was able to prove that it would still be a bad idea to go back in time and kill Hitler. This was an extremely fun to read debate. Good job by both debaters.
Vote Placed by imabench 5 years ago
imabench
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Vote Placed by quarterexchange 5 years ago
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Vote Placed by Amveller 5 years ago
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Vote Placed by StephenAlsop 6 years ago
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Vote Placed by Cliff.Stamp 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: "His attempt to undermine this by attacking an inferred part of the topic discredits both the spirit of our discussion and his stance against semantics." not when it is clearly in the OP
Vote Placed by bluesteel 6 years ago
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