The Instigator
RedMoonlight
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
thp078
Con (against)
Winning
5 Points

Was Bombing Hiroshima Moral?

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
thp078
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/30/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,149 times Debate No: 35186
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (3)
Votes (2)

 

RedMoonlight

Pro

The bombing of Hiroshima, though it killed innocents, was an "ethical" decision because, it prevented the deaths of far more innocents which would have been caused by the alternate course of action, a land invasion of Japan.

The goal, based on conventional "morals": Minimize civilian casualties while procuring a surrender from Japan.

The options:
1.) Land invasion of Japan, sure to result in millions of civilian casualties.
2.) Nuclear strike, resulting in about 200,000 to 250,000 civilian casualties.

Option #2 was the clearly the "moral" decision of the two.
thp078

Con

I accept.
Debate Round No. 1
RedMoonlight

Pro

At this point, I am simply going to restate the information I have already given, as my opponent has not yet responded and therefore I cannot continue the debate by responding to what he says.
Hence, this is my current argument:

The bombing of Hiroshima, though it killed innocents, was an "ethical" decision because, it prevented the deaths of far more innocents which would have been caused by the alternate course of action, a land invasion of Japan.

The goal, based on conventional "morals": Minimize civilian casualties while procuring a surrender from Japan.

The options:
1.) Land invasion of Japan, sure to result in millions of civilian casualties.
2.) Nuclear strike, resulting in about 200,000 to 250,000 civilian casualties.

Option #2 was the clearly the "moral" decision of the two.

However, in order to classify something as "moral", we must have a clear understanding of what morality is, and how it relates to decisions such as this one. Morality is defined as a personal standard of right and wrong, which may change as a person moves from one society to the next. Civilian casualties caused by the military in war are generally considered immoral in America, the society in question.

My opponent will be quick to point out that the nuclear strike falls into this category as an immoral decision. However, to truly label a decision of this magnitude as immoral , we owe it to the dead to analyze beyond a simple definition. If this is done, we will soon find that this idealistic view of morality is not applicable in the real world, and can even be considered an inaccurate based on the true and uncut nature of morality, which is this; A 100% moral decision rarely, if ever, exists. Many decisions which are commonly regarded as moral are simply MORE MORAL than their alternatives, and do still have their immoral aspects.

I surmise that my opponent takes the stance he has chosen because he believes it is immoral to kill, regardless of the context. But how immoral would it be to kill a person who was soon to kill 5 others? Not completely, as you may take him away from family, friends, or anything good in which he may have been involved. However, it is the sacrifice of one of these people, with murderous intentions for 5 of these people without. It is more moral than not, and if we have come to any conclusion through all of this analysis, it is that an action does not need to be 100% moral to be moral by real world standards, the standards that matter. My opponent bases his verdict on the morality of the Hiroshima bombing, not on the reality of morals, but on impractical ideals of them.
thp078

Con

For future reference, I would suggest laying out rules before jumping into a debate. The standard DDO rules are just fine.

Ave.

Before I proceed to the bulk of my argument, I would like to point out the flaw in Pro’s reasoning of morality:
While morality is defined by society as a whole, Con fails to understand the scope of the term “society” in the context of Pacific War. The “society” involved in the war was composed of both the United States AS WELL AS Japan as they were the primary parties involved in the war. Because of this, the society in question would be the United States and Japan, not just the United States as Con suggests.

Con argues that because idealistic morality is not applicable in the real world, it somehow makes the dropping of the atomic bomb upon Hiroshima morally permissible. However, this debate is not based on whether or not the bomb was applicable, or a tactically beneficial, decision; it is on whether or not the dropping of the bomb was moral.

Both the United States population, the Japanese population, and really the whole world population is in consensus that killing civilians, unprovoked, is morally wrong. During the Pacific War, the United States military was at war against the Japanese military, not every citizen of Japan. To specifically target civilians would be morally wrong, according to “conventional” morals as well as International Humanitarian Law [1].

While the protection of civilians was not made official until the Geneva Convention of 1949, it is implied that it was still considered wrong to target civilians, unprovoked. This is because of the process by which various things are improved upon (a problem is identified, a solution is formed). A war-related example of this is the first Geneva Convention of 1864 which led to the protocol for the treatment of sick and wounded soldiers [1]. Because of this, even though the protection of civilians was not made official by International Humanitarian Law until 1949, according to “conventional” morals, killing civilians, unprovoked, was still considered wrong.

To continue my argument, we must clearly define what a civilian is. Below are three definitions of civilian, as defined by popular websites that most likely determine how everyday people define civilians:

1) A civilian under international humanitarian law (also known as the laws of war) is a person who is not a member of his or her country's armed forces or other militia. Civilians are distinct from combatants. They are afforded a degree of legal protection from the effects of war and military occupation [2].
2) A person following the pursuits of civil life, especially one who is not an active member of the military, the police, or a belligerent group [3].
3) a person who is not on active duty with a military, naval, police, or fire-fighting organization [4].

It is clear by these definitions that civilians are distinct from military personnel or those who engage in combat.

The population of Hiroshima, as estimated on 22 February 1944, was 336,483 [5]; most likely a bit higher when the bomb was dropped. The number of casualties due to the atomic bomb’s impact or its residual effects (cancer, radiation poisoning, etc.) was estimated to be between 90,000 and 166,000. An estimated 90% of medical personnel present in the city were said to have died as a result of the bombing [6]. The act of targeting medical personnel is forbidden according to International Humanitarian Law, and was even a law already in effect at the time of the bomb’s detonation [1]. According to International Humanitarian Law, the dropping of the atomic bomb over Hiroshima was a series of 90,000-166,000 acts of morally wrong behavior, with some of these acts counting as two acts due to some of the citizens of Hiroshima being medical personnel.

Hiroshima was primarily chosen as a target because of its geographical location due to the intention of measuring the bomb’s destructive capacity. The hills surrounding Hiroshima were able to provide a focusing effect of the bomb’s power upon the city and the rivers nearby would prevent many fires from spreading into surrounding areas [7]. One of the alternative choices for the bomb’s target was Kyoto, the intellectual hub of Japan at the time. This target was considered due the population of the city being able to better appreciate the bomb’s power [7]. Had the bomb been dropped on Kyoto instead of Hiroshima, the intellectual community present there may have caused Japan to surrender earlier and prevent the dropping of the second bomb dropping on Nagasaki. Despite the population being considerably larger than Hiroshima’s, Con’s stance would be hypocritical if he did not support the notion that Kyoto would have been a better target than Hiroshima as he accepts the idea that civilian casualties may be necessary in times of war. Because of this, the bombing of Hiroshima is shown to be immoral by both my and my opponent’s reasoning.

According to Con, it would be morally acceptable to kill one person if he or she had murderous intent directed as five other individuals. I will agree with this for the sake of argument. But what if five people had murderous intent, or intent to harm in some manner, directed at one innocent person? By the standards of conventional morals, the killing of the five would also be considered acceptable if it meant saving the one bystander from death or harm. If this is the case, then a land invasion of Japan would have been morally acceptable according to conventional standards, given that military personnel are specifically trained to harm the enemy force(s). Con claims that a land invasion of Japan would have resulted in the deaths of millions of civilians. But this is far from realistic. According to the definitions of civilian as were placed earlier, civilians are distinct from combatants. During the hypothetical land invasion of Japan, any civilians would opposed the United States military would cease to be “civilians” and would be considered combatants. Any suicides on the Japanese side could not attributed to the United States military as they would not force them to commit suicide; it would have been a choice on their part to do so. Furthermore, the bombings of urban areas in Japan by the United States would have ceased if they knew that their own soldiers were also occupying the area, thus taking away the majority of risk of death and/or harm for the civilians.

Con has failed to show that the bombing of Hiroshima was moral while the arguments that I have put forth show that not only would a land invasion of Japan been more morally acceptable than the bombing of Hiroshima, but also that even if the use of the atomic bomb was absolutely necessary, Hiroshima was not a justified target.

Vale.




Sources:
[1] http://www.icrc.org...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[3] http://www.thefreedictionary.com...
[4] http://dictionary.reference.com...
[5] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[6] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[7] http://www.dannen.com...
Debate Round No. 2
RedMoonlight

Pro

First off, I'd like to thank Con for his thought provoking argument and suggestion for future debates.
Let's begin.

Con points out the apparent "flaw" in my reasoning. While it is true that two separate societies, with separate moral codes, were involved in the war, this does not somehow bring both of these moral codes together in the context of the decision in question. When a decision is made, the decision-maker's moral code is generally the one considered when questioning the morality of said decision. It was a decision made based on American standards of morality, therefore whether or not it was immoral by Japanese standards is irrelevant. When an individual defends his/her actions against another, his opinion is not grounded on the other's standards of morality for him, only his standards for himself. Con's stated "flaw" in my reasoning of morality is no longer, valid, therefore his first argument is null and void.

Con seems to be under the impression that I referenced the "tactical" or "applicable" advantages of the bombing in my statement about idealistic morality. A quick look-over will show that this is false. While I did assert the need to limit our analysis to the morality of the bombing as compared to that of other applicable decisions, for obvious reasons (i.e. the decision to surrender would have been more "moral" as it avoided death, but was not plausible), I was not using the practicality of the bombing to point toward its morality, as Con appears to believe. However, as I have already made clear, since idealistic morality is not applicable in the real world, which Con did not deny, it is not real morality, and is not applicable to the bombing, nor this debate. Con's second argument is null and void.

Con declares that it would be hypocritical for me to deny Kyoto's superiority as a target compared to Hiroshima. This would be true, if I did so due to its higher population. However, I DO deny Kyoto's strategical superiorty, but not for this reason. I do not believe it would have secured a quicker surrender from Japan, the culture of which, during WWII, was highly militaristic [1].Their unwillingness to give up was so extreme that surrender, even after TWO bombings, required intervention from the Emperor, against the will of the "Big Six" [2]. Would this same decision have been made, when the only difference is a loss of intellectuals and intellectual material, rather than important military targets, which were in Hiroshima? Unlikely, especially due to their militaristic culture, in which intellectuals aren't exactly revered. Therefore, as I don't believe the Japanese surrender would have been hastened by targeting Kyoto, the bombing of Hiroshima is once again immoral by only my opponent's standards, as it was at the beginning of the debate. Con's third argument is dismantled.

Con states that civilians choosing to fight against US forces in a land invasion would become combatants and lose their moral protection. By definition, Con is correct, they would be considered combatants. However, moral conscience in a situation like the one in question was obviously not taken into account when writing this definition. The killing of this form of person, IN THIS SCENARIO, would be close to, if not equally as immoral as the killing of an "non-combatant" civilian, for reasons I am about to explain. Con is assuming that classification as a "combatant" automatically equates these former civilians with soldiers who were members of the military prior to the invasion. By strict definition, this may be true, however from a MORAL standpoint (the standpoint of this debate), it is not the case. These former civilians are not absolutely voluntary, as prior members of the military would be, but rather they were forced into action at last resort by our hypothetical invasion. One may disregard this as unimportant, but morally, when comparing the moral justification of killing these two types of people during an invasion, it is not, as they are not completely voluntary combatants. A relatable example of this phenomenon would be the illegal action, sometimes perpetrated by police, known as "entrapment".

1.) , Entrapment is conduct by a law enforcement agent inducing a person to commit an offense that the person would otherwise have been unlikely to commit [2].

From Con's point of view, law enforcement would be morally justified in arresting an entrapped individual, just as our country would be morally justified in KNOWINGLY taking this route, and murdering the millions of soldiers they have entrapped into combat. A civilian is otherwise unlikely to take part in a military combat situation, and been induced by a mass invasion of his/her country, to become a combatant. I ask Con as well as the voters, is this truly voluntary? Taking into account Japanese culture, in which surrender, even for civilians, is shamed beyond belief, would there be true choice in a matter such as this? And would it be moral for the US to knowingly orchestrate it, essentially "entrapping" millions of civilians into death? Con may argue that it is morally justifiable to kill these forces if they pose a threat to ours. While not immoral for the soldier, it is certainly immoral to order it done.
Regardless of definitions, the differences between the killing prior-volunteered military personnel and the killing of these forced, last-resort, entrapped civilian combatants is undeniable, affects the morality of the decision, and MUST be acknowledged. Con's argument is invalid.

Con states that the US would not be morally accountable for suicides of Japanese civilians, as it is an individual's own decision to commit suicide. Again, the principles of entrapment apply. Even worse, causing another individual to commit suicide can be prosecuted as murder in some parts of the US, due to the moral code of the US, which, as I have previously proven, is the moral code in question in this debate.

Legal definition of murder: Intentionally causing another person's death without legal excuse [3].

America, as well as the rest of the world, was well aware of the tendency of Japanese civilians to commit ritual suicide. Hence, though it obviously cannot be prosecuted, suicide deaths resulting from a US invasion of Japan would fall under the legal definition of murder, a legal definition based on the MORAL code of the US. What to take from this? American-caused deaths by suicide in Japan, in adherence to American morals, would be murder, as good as if it had been done with a nuke.
Con states that the US would have elected not to bomb urban areas had they been occupied by the American military, which is true. However, he also states that this would alleviate the risk of death/harm to civilians, which is false (except of course, for the risk they face from bombs). I have shown previously that most, if not all civilians in Japan would have faced death from another American-caused element, therefore, the lack of danger they face from bombs is irrelevant when considering the morality of the action as a whole.

As you can see, I have dismantled each of Con's arguments one by one, and in doing so, have made a strong case for the US-accountable immorality of all suicides and combatant-civilian deaths resulting from a land invasion of Japan, proving them equal to civilian deaths stemming from the nuclear strike upon Hiroshima. Since the deaths are equal in nature, it can be stated that millions more civilians would have been killed by said land invasion, than were killed by said nuclear strike, exposing the land invasion as an immoral action, and destroying Con's position in its entirety. As this is the final round and thus the final chance I have to express my written word, I'd like to wish Con good luck in the voting and thank him for a fantastic debate.

1. http://en.wikipedia.org...
2. http://en.wikipedia.org...
3. http://www.criminal-law-lawyer-source.com...
thp078

Con


Before I begin my final arguments, I just want to point out that in the second round, anywhere I put “Con,” I meant “Pro.” This is for the convenience of the voters as Pro is already aware of my mistake. The following arguments have correct identification.



Ave.



Pro’s first argument is that the United States’ morality is the foundation of this debate because the interests of what is moral clash between Japan and the United States. However, because neither the Japanese morality nor the United States’ morality is inherently superior to the other, it would only be fair to base what is “moral” on any overlapping morally agreeable ideas between the United States and Japan as this would be the “conventional” morality that Pro defined in round one as the basis for this debate since “conventional” morality is the morality that the majority of people agree with. The unprovoked killing of civilians would certainly fall into this category, therefore, Pro’s assertion that my argument is null and void is null and void, thus restoring my previous argument in round two to a valid one.



Pro’s second argument is that because idealistic morality is not applicable in the real world, it should not be considered to be a “real” form of reality. Below are three definitions of morality from popular sources that most people will base their perception of morality upon:


1) founded on the fundamental principles of right conduct rather than on legalities, enactment, or custom [1]


2) concerned with the principles of right and wrong behavior and the goodness or badness of human character [2]


3) relating to the standards of good or bad behavior, fairness, honesty, etc. that each person believes in, rather than to laws [3]


It is apparent by these definitions, that practicality is not a factor that distinguishes moral behavior from immoral behavior. Thus, Pro’s definition of morality is incorrect as it disagrees with these sources as to what moral behavior is. Furthermore, Pro’s definition of morality is not backed by any sources whereas the definitions displayed above are from reputable sources. Therefore, Pro’s second argument is null and void.



Pro’s third argument is that Kyoto would not have secured a surrender faster had it been the atomic bomb’s target rather than Hiroshima; this is faulty reasoning. Kyoto, as the home of the emperor, would have put immensely more pressure on the emperor to surrender, who, as even Pro agrees and backs up with a source, was capable of agreeing to a surrender on his own. As this was the case, it means that only the emperor of Japan was the person who needed to be intimidated, not the “Big Six.” By Con’s own reasoning that civilian casualties may be necessary in war, Con’s own stance remains hypocritical if the bombing of Kyoto would have brought about a surrender in a faster manner, which for reasons listed above, would have been more likely.



Furthermore, it may not have been the atomic bombings that made the Japanese surrender in the first place. With the Soviet Union beginning their assault on Japan on 9 August 1945, it may have been the intimidation that the military powers of both the United States and the Soviet Union that caused the emperor of Japan to surrender. The Soviet Union’s assistance of the United States in the Pacific War is referred to one of the “Twin Shocks,” the other being the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki [4]. The fact that Soviet Union’s decision to invade Japan is set on par with the atomic bombings implies that it had just as equal a chance of forcing the emperor to surrender. A two-pronged land invasion led by the United States and the Soviet Union would have had a very promising chance of securing a surrender from the Japanese emperor with no atomic bombings necessary. Plus, with the reduced odds of civilian casualties (as referenced in my arguments in round two), a land invasion would have been a more moral decision.



Pro argues against using the strict definition of “combatant” for the sake of distinguishing civilians from combatants and instead would prefer to rely on the “moral” definition of “combatant” instead. However, because facts are not even in the same realm as morality, Pro’s assertion that the “moral” definition of “combatant” must be used is nonsensical. A combatant is one who engages in combat. The definition is a morally neutral statement. Morality would only be a factor if one were to consider the purposes for which one is fighting or the means by which one is fighting. Because of these reasons, the strictest definition of “combatant” must be used as it represents the core idea of “combatant” that most people would agree with, therefore, making it the “conventional” definition. Pro also argues that civilians who engage in combat would be forced to do so. This is also nonsensical as the civilian is the sole controller of the brain which makes the choices to engage in combat. Forced combat would imply that the body would engage in combat without the consent of the brain which is not possible. Any combat on the part of the civilian would have been an act in pursuit of homeostasis which is driven by desire, not forced impulses. Because it is considered “conventionally” moral to bring down enemies, any combatants brought down by military forced would have been acceptable.



Pro’s definition of “murder” is biased as it only takes the laws of the United States into consideration. However, because this is a debate based on morality, not United States legality, I will provide a more appropriate definition:



Murder: to kill or slaughter inhumanly or barbarously [5].



Dropping an atomic bomb and killing thousands of innocent civilians, some of which did not have the luxury of having a quick and painless death, would certainly fit into this definition thus clearly showing that the use of the atomic bomb upon innocent civilians was grossly immoral.



Pro also argues that the Japanese may have committed suicide in response to a land invasion, which I would agree with. But because suicide is a choice of the one committing it, the United States could not be held accountable for any instances of suicide. It would also be considered a violation of Japanese morality to not commit suicide if no other option were available, therefore, suicide would have been acceptable according to both the Japanese as well as the United States’ morality.



Pro’s arguments have been removed of all moral standing while all that I have presented still remain valid. I have shown that a land invasion of Japan would have been more morally acceptable than the use of the atomic bomb upon Hiroshima and even the use of the bomb was absolutely necessary, Hiroshima was not the most morally acceptable target.



I thank Pro for what has been my most enjoyable debate to date.



Vale.








Sources:


[1] http://dictionary.reference.com...


[2] http://oxforddictionaries.com...


[3] http://dictionary.cambridge.org...


[4] http://en.wikipedia.org...


[5] http://dictionary.reference.com...


Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by RedMoonlight 3 years ago
RedMoonlight
Haha yeah I figured.
Posted by thp078 3 years ago
thp078
I meant to put "Pro" anywhere that I put "Con". I'm so used to being the "Pro" during debates that it's just a force of habit haha.
Posted by thp078 3 years ago
thp078
I'm just assuming that first round is acceptance.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Cobo 3 years ago
Cobo
RedMoonlightthp078Tied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Here is how I voted. Pro came out weak as crap in the first round (technically the second) and the Con actually ran a solid case going by what the pro presented. The problem for the pro was that there was no way they could have countered in 1 round. My suggestion to the pro would be to set in place what each round would be for. It seemed pro had the understanding that round 1 was just openings.
Vote Placed by FrackJack 3 years ago
FrackJack
RedMoonlightthp078Tied
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Total points awarded:02 
Reasons for voting decision: I felt that both were quite equal but con had better sources.