The Instigator
feverish
Pro (for)
Winning
43 Points
The Contender
Ragnar_Rahl
Con (against)
Losing
35 Points

Water Boarding is an act of torture and is immoral.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/6/2009 Category: Society
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 5,144 times Debate No: 7715
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (34)
Votes (15)

 

feverish

Pro

I affirm the resolution : Water Boarding is an act of torture and is immoral.

I consider myself an open minded person yet I am always shocked when glancing at people's profiles on this site when I see people saying they are pro-water boarding. This is especially true if their other opinions do not seem particularly extreme.

I would appreciate if somebody who is pro-water boarding would like to take me up on this debate. If nobody does so, I will be forced to conclude that most of these individuals think that torture is a good thing. I hope I am proved wrong.

Thankyou.
Ragnar_Rahl

Con

Like any violent act, the morality (status as promoting rather than serving as an obstacle to one's existence) of waterboarding is dependent on the context.

Waterboarding an innocent is certainly immoral, such serves to motivate all members of the class "innocent" to cease trade with you, and perhaps kill you-- trading with members of that class is of course necessary to enjoy many fruits of civilization, such as the fine devices we are viewing this debate through.

Randomly waterboarding the guilty to no immediate end is probably mildly immoral-- it lacks the right aesthetic to be a good deterrent, for such things, stronger torture or lethality are far more useful.

But for the gathering of intelligence (it's primary use) from known members of a guilty party, it can serve to save innocent lives, at the miniscule costs of water, a board, and a bit of pain to someone who is already an enemy.

Thus, I reject the blanket application of the term "immoral" to such an act.
Debate Round No. 1
feverish

Pro

I thank my opponent for his rapid acceptance of and response to this debate. I wish us both luck.

Before I examine my opponent's arguments, I would like to offer some definitions for the sake of clarity. I apologise for not doing this in the opening round of debate, and am happy for my opponent to attempt to dispute these definitions if he wishes. As I quote basic definitions from established sources this should not be an issue however.

Water boarding:
"Waterboarding is a form of torture in which a bound, gagged prisoner is forced to breathe in water. There are several techniques: a prisoner is strapped to a board, or submerged, or held down and forced to breathe through a water-soaked cloth held over his mouth. All waterboarding produces the physical sensation of drowning and a psychological sensation of panic, fear and loss of control."
http://terrorism.about.com...

"Water Boarding: the prisoner is bound to a board with feet raised, and cellophane wrapped round his head. Water is poured onto his face and is said to produce a fear of drowning which leads to a rapid demand for the suffering to end."
http://news.bbc.co.uk...

"Waterboarding is a form of torture that consists of immobilizing a person on their back with the head inclined downward and pouring water over the ..."
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_Boarding

"Water boarding as it is currently described involves strapping a person to an inclined board, with his feet raised and his head lowered. The interrogators bind the person's arms and legs so he can't move at all, and they cover his face. In some descriptions, the person is gagged, and some sort of cloth covers his nose and mouth; in others, his face is wrapped in cellophane. The interrogator then repeatedly pours water onto the person's face. Depending on the exact setup, the water may or may not actually get into the person's mouth and nose; but the physical experience of being underneath a wave of water seems to be secondary to the psychological experience. The person's mind believes he is drowning, and his gag reflex kicks in as if he were choking on all that water falling on his face."
http://people.howstuffworks.com...

Torture:
"Infliction of severe physical pain as a means of punishment or coercion."
"In a broad sense, torture might be regarded as any instance in which pain is inflicted by one human being on another, either for personal gratification or to demonstrate power. But historically torture has most often been defined more narrowly, as an aspect of legal systems or of state repression."
http://www.answers.com...

# 2torture (transitive verb)
1 : to cause intense suffering to : torment 2 : to punish or coerce by inflicting excruciating pain
http://www.merriam-webster.com...

"the 1984 UN "Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
This defines torture in the following way: "Torture means 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..."
http://news.bbc.co.uk...

Immoral:
"a.1.Not moral; inconsistent with rectitude, purity, or good morals; contrary to conscience or the divine law; wicked; unjust; dishonest; vicious; licentious; as, an immoral man; an immoral deed."
http://www.webster-dictionary.net...

"violating moral principles; not conforming to the patterns of conduct usually accepted or established as consistent with principles of personal and social ethics."
http://dictionary.reference.com...

": not moral ; broadly : conflicting with generally or traditionally held moral principles."
http://www.merriam-webster.com...

My opponent opens his first round with the following:
"Like any violent act, the morality (status as promoting rather than serving as an obstacle to one's existence) of waterboarding is dependent on the context."

I think there are two huge problems with this statement.

Firstly my opponent seems to be interpreting morality as: "promoting rather than serving as an obstacle to one's existence." My opponent offers no source for this definition but I would suggest it is profoundly at odds with the established and general interpretation of morality. If what is moral is merely what is in an individuals own self-interest there is no longer any good or bad in the world just selfish self-preservation. This seems to me to be the opposite of morality and I don't understand what my opponent hopes to achieve by debating immorality from an amoral standpoint.

Secondly, my opponent seems to be saying in this first sentence that the morality of any violent act is determined solely by the context. Is he suggesting that crimes such as murder or rape are morally acceptable if they promote (rather than serving as an obstacle to) one's existence?

My opponent then goes on to concede that water boarding IS indeed immoral unless it is used "for the gathering of intelligence from known members of a guilty party."

The problem here is establishing guilt and the issue of what evidence is required for someone to be a "known" member of a "guilty" party. By his own logic my opponent seems to be suggesting that extremists would be justified in torturing members of the US armed forces for information as they would be "known" to be members of an organisation "guilty" of invading their territory and killing their people.

It is my opinion that torture is always immoral and this opinion is shared (on paper at least) by the UN, the Geneva convention and most civilised governments including those of the US and UK.

Unless my opponent wishes to persevere with his bizarre interpretation of morality, (in which case he better provide some pretty good evidence to back it up) then he needs to prove one of two things:

Either that water boarding is not torture, or that torture is not immoral.

If he fails to establish either of these then I have proved my case.
Thankyou.
Ragnar_Rahl

Con

"
Firstly my opponent seems to be interpreting morality as: "promoting rather than serving as an obstacle to one's existence." My opponent offers no source for this definition but I would suggest it is profoundly at odds with the established and general interpretation of morality."
The "Established and general interpretation of morality" (sacrifice of the able to the unable, altruism) has as it's ultimate consequence universal death (since ability would be brought out of existence by consistent application of this belief, and ability is necessary for life), which the estabished and general sort of folk would themselves admit immoral, as such, it's self-contradictory. Note the definitions you've linked to define morality in terms of morality, i.e., they don't define it at all, and thus are essentially placeholders for a definition they can't decide upon.

"If what is moral is merely what is in an individuals own self-interest there is no longer any good or bad in the world just selfish self-preservation."
Nonsensical. If what is moral is merely what is in one's self interest, there is indeed good in the world-- what sustain's ones life-- and bad in the world-- what opposes it.

"This seems to me to be the opposite of morality and I don't understand what my opponent hopes to achieve by debating immorality from an amoral standpoint."
Ethical egoism and an amoral standpoint (a strawman amoral standpoint) are two entirely different things.

"
Secondly, my opponent seems to be saying in this first sentence that the morality of any violent act is determined solely by the context. Is he suggesting that crimes such as murder or rape are morally acceptable if they promote (rather than serving as an obstacle to) one's existence?"
Correct. I have already shown what context that is false in-- the context where the target is an innocent. It is only the context where the target is already guilty of initiating force against you where such can be moral.

"
My opponent then goes on to concede that water boarding IS indeed immoral unless it is used "for the gathering of intelligence from known members of a guilty party."
It's not a concession, it's a clarification of where I differ from the resolution's out of context absolute :).

"
The problem here is establishing guilt and the issue of what evidence is required for someone to be a "known" member of a "guilty" party."
That's an epistemic, not a moral issue.

"By his own logic my opponent seems to be suggesting that extremists would be justified in torturing members of the US armed forces for information as they would be "known" to be members of an organisation "guilty" of invading their territory and killing their people."
The problem here is that the US forces were not the ones who initiated force, and therefore such invasion is guiltless (if you're speaking of the invasions in the Middle East, where the initiation of force started happening thousands of years before the US ever existed in the form of creating oppressive theocracies and has never ceased). It is the one who initiated, and those who side with the one who initiated, who are "guilty."

"
It is my opinion that torture is always immoral and this opinion is shared (on paper at least) by the UN, the Geneva convention and most civilised governments including those of the US and UK.
"
Ad authoritatem.

Incidentally, my "bizarre" interpretation of morality happens to be in the same general principle as Aristotle's ethics, even if I disagree with many of his specific judgments (such as supporting slavery, an obvious ground off which to start disagreeing). http://en.wikipedia.org....

Indeed, it's fairly safe to assume that such was the original intent of philosophical study of ethics, however much it has since been corrupted with the opposite intent, the death-pursuit of altruism.

I note again that my opponent's definitions of "morality" are made in terms only of "moral principles"-- including personal, societal, traditional-- except that principles, a mode of thought, are by definition only possible for individuals-- meaning technically your definitions of morality, though they don't hold much definition, don't contradict mine. :)
Debate Round No. 2
feverish

Pro

Hello again.

My opponent seems to have manoeuvred this debate away from a discussion of the rights and wrongs of water boarding (which he does not refer to once in round 2) and seems determined to defend his peculiar (if not "bizarre") idea of morality.

This would appear to basically consist of self-preservation with a slight touch of hedonism. It is an interpretation I am not really familiar with but sounds similar to the amorality (unconcerned with right and wrong) of Aleistair Crowley who's philosophy was "do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law."

He admits that his version is not the "Established and general interpretation of morality" which he identifies as "sacrifice of the able to the unable, altruism [which] has as it's ultimate consequence universal death."
He says that the several well-sourced definitions I offer "don't define it at all." Although he later insists that "your definitions of morality, though they don't hold much definition, don't contradict mine."

I am glad that he feels his own interpretation (supposedly) backed up by his one cited source (Wikepedia) is superior to that of several reputable dictionaries and although this opinion radically redefines morality it is in fact not contradictory of the "universal death" model.

He claims my arguments are "nonsensical" yet apparently contradicts himself and applies whatever definitions suit his position.

To examine the one link he provides: http://en.wikipedia.org..., this article seems to have little to do with a definition of morality and certainly does not show Aristotle in support of my opponent's unusual opinion.

Morality or immorality are not mentioned specifically in this encyclopedia entry. Instead it discusses Eudaimonia, commonly translated as happiness, but usually seen as having connotations with virtue and knowledge.

The section referring to Aristotle says:
"Eudaimonia is constituted, according to Aristotle, not by honor, or wealth, or power, but by rational activity in accordance with virtue over a complete life. Such activity manifests the virtues of character, including, honesty, pride, friendliness, and wittiness; the intellectual virtues, such as rationality in judgment; and non-sacrificial (i.e. mutually beneficial) friendships and scientific knowledge (knowledge of things that are fundamental and/or unchanging is the best).Epicurus agrees with Aristotle that eudaimonia is the highest good. However, unlike Aristotle, he identifies eudaimonia with pleasure."
It sounds like the Aristotelian position supports the established version and if anyone is backing up my opponent it is the hedonist Epicurus.

I said: "Is he suggesting that crimes such as murder or rape are morally acceptable if they promote (rather than serving as an obstacle to) one's existence?"
My opponent said: "Correct. I have already shown what context that is false in-- the context where the target is an innocent. It is only the context where the target is already guilty of initiating force against you where such can be moral."

My opponent seems here to be cheerfully condoning murder and rape as well as torture.
Is he saying that if someone pushes you, you can murder them?
If a woman is guilty of slapping him around the face, he is morally entitled to rape her?

"That's an epistemic, not a moral issue."
Nice use of vocabulary. I argue that if knowledge is accepted without sufficient proof it becomes a moral issue.

"the US forces were not the ones who initiated force."
I dispute this strongly. US have not been invaded by any middle-eastern country, they have been attacked a few times by international terrorist organisations. If they then invade nations then they are definitely initiating force against the innocent people of those nations, creating more terrorists out of innocent civilians.

"the initiation of force started happening thousands of years before the US ever existed in the form of creating oppressive theocracies and has never ceased."

So they initiated force against the US before the US existed? I will refrain from labelling my opponent's arguments nonsensical but would suggest there is a lack of sense in this statement.

My opponent seems to think that establishing a religious state (oppressive theocracy) is an initiation of force but this is perhaps a topic for a separate debate. Point is these people did not initiate force against the US.

"Ad authoritatem."

Forgive my ignorance but I don't speak whatever language or jargon this is, could you please provide an English translation?

To conclude this round I reaffirm:

Water boarding is a form of torture.
Torture is Immoral.

My opponent has yet to address either of these.

My opponent is attempting to debate the semantics of morality with no references or external justification for his own
concept of what it means. I am arguing about morality as defined by most (all?) independent sources.

Thankyou.
Ragnar_Rahl

Con

"
My opponent seems to have manoeuvred this debate away from a discussion of the rights and wrongs of water boarding (which he does not refer to once in round 2) and seems determined to defend his peculiar (if not "bizarre") idea of morality."
It's not steering the debate away from A to discuss X if A's truth or falsehood is dependent on X's truth or falsehood.

"
This would appear to basically consist of self-preservation with a slight touch of hedonism. It is an interpretation I am not really familiar with but sounds similar to the amorality (unconcerned with right and wrong) of Aleistair Crowley who's philosophy was "do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.""
How is "doing what thou wilt" in any way similar to doing what will keep you alive and hopefully happy (alive being the first requirement)? Surely telling someone considering drugs to "do what thou wilt" isn't good for their life :).

"
I am glad that he feels his own interpretation (supposedly) backed up by his one cited source (Wikepedia) is superior to that of several reputable dictionaries and although this opinion radically redefines morality it is in fact not contradictory of the "universal death" model."
You misinterpreted. The dictionaries don't prescribe the universal death model because they don't make any prescriptions-- they just say, in essence, morality is morality, and don't go any further really in telling you what the word means :). It is they, not the "universal death" model that my statements don't contradict :).

". Instead it discusses Eudaimonia, commonly translated as happiness, but usually seen as having connotations with virtue and knowledge.he section referring to Aristotle says:
"Eudaimonia is constituted, according to Aristotle, not by honor, or wealth, or power, but by rational activity in accordance with virtue over a complete life. Such activity manifests the virtues of character, including, honesty, pride, friendliness, and wittiness; the intellectual virtues, such as rationality in judgment; and non-sacrificial (i.e. mutually beneficial) friendships and scientific knowledge (knowledge of things that are fundamental and/or unchanging is the best).Epicurus agrees with Aristotle that eudaimonia is the highest good. However, unlike Aristotle, he identifies eudaimonia with pleasure."
It sounds like the Aristotelian position supports the established version and if anyone is backing up my opponent it is the hedonist Epicurus.
"
You missed the "human flourishing" part, the "complete life" part, the "non-sacrificial" part-- need I go on?

"
My opponent seems here to be cheerfully condoning murder and rape as well as torture.
Is he saying that if someone pushes you, you can murder them?"
Would it be conducive to one's life to attempt to murder someone every time they push you? I think not. Surely more egregious force would be required to practically justify such a retaliation. I was merely delineating the principle on which such an action would be automatically excluded from consideration.

"
If a woman is guilty of slapping him around the face, he is morally entitled to rape her?"
See above.

"
Nice use of vocabulary. I argue that if knowledge is accepted without sufficient proof it becomes a moral issue.
"
But the question of the resolution isn't whether waterboarding without sufficient proof is immoral-- only whether waterboarding ABSOLUTELY, irregardless of any context, including the context of proof of guilt, is immoral (I'm not disputing that waterboarding is torture, so consider that something we don't have to argue.)

"
So they initiated force against the US before the US existed? "
This (and what was above it) misunderstands the meaning of "initiate force--" To start the use of force where no one else has is to introduce the consideration of force against you by anyone, not just your immediate target. Is a court expected to stand by when an innocent is murdered, simply because the court wasn't targeted? No. The middle eastern countries in question initiated force against their own citizens.

"
My opponent seems to think that establishing a religious state (oppressive theocracy) is an initiation of force"
As a concrete of this abstraction--
Premarital consensual sex is not an act of force. Iran, as one example, regularly stones people to death for acts of premarital consensual sex. Therefore, their legal system initiates force. The fact of the third party targeting does not remove the fact that such an initiation ( a definitely egregious one, not at all comparable to, say, shoving, by the way), opens Iran up as an on principle permissible target-- Whether to act on that permissibility becomes a problem of situational practicality of course.

"
Forgive my ignorance but I don't speak whatever language or jargon this is, could you please provide an English translation?"
Fallacy of appeal to authority.

Now, if you'd like to introduce a definition that actually gives us a standard of morality to act on, we can argue about it. Otherwise, you're stuck with the standard I've brought in :).
Debate Round No. 3
feverish

Pro

This debate is in danger of becoming bogged in by semantics if my opponent and I continue to debate the interpretation of morality.

Basically I have suggested that morality is a knowledge of right and wrong and that immoral actions are those which go against widely held opinion and common consensus of what is right.

I have backed up my interpretation with several solid definitions from established dictionaries.

My opponent dismisses these definitions saying: "they don't define it at all" without giving valid reason, although he does maintain that my interpretation backed up by these definitions is indeed the ""Established and general interpretation of morality."

In turn my opponent substitutes his own version of Morality (basically selfishness) without any exterior source to back him up other than spurious and extremely vague references to Aristotle and insists we are stuck with his definition.

I invite readers and voters to make up their own minds about how they interpret morality by weighing up the evidence on either side and to then decide how well the two of us have argued about water boarding within that context.

I am glad that my opponent has addressed the issue at hand by agreeing with the first point of my resolution:
"I'm not disputing that waterboarding is torture, so consider that something we don't have to argue."

So my opponent makes it clear that his argument is for the use of torture in general being morally good.

I will therefore now attempt to prove that torture is immoral whichever interpretation of morality the reader chooses to apply:
1) Torture is immoral because it goes against generally held principles of right and wrong.
2) Torture is immoral because it has negative effects on the life of the person inflicting it.

I offer these two arguments out of consideration for my opponent's unconventional opinions. I would remind readers that evidence backs up the first interpretation and this is the one I intended to debate. Nevertheless here are some external sources which support my case under both interpretations:

"Torture is immoral, illegal, and counterproductive. Torture undermines the moral and legal principles on which society is based. Moral authority and the ability to pressure allies are lost when world leaders resort to torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading practices. As a means of interrogation, torture often results in false statements, and instills resentment and anger in the victims, their families, friends, and community, and generates embittered opponents. This hostility can translate into devastating consequences for those they consider enemies."
http://www.amnestyusa.org...

"Retired Adm. Dennis C. Blair, President Obama's nominee to lead the U.S. intelligence community, told Congress yesterday that torture "is not moral, legal or effective"
http://www.washingtonpost.com...

"We, as humans say what is evil or moral. If torture weren���‚��„�t considered a moral evil, then we wouldn���‚��„�t find people condemning it when their enemies engage in torture. In fact, acts of torture are readily touted as proof that the enemy is barbaric, or even sub-human, but then some of these same people sometimes turn around and pretend that this justifies their using torture or other barbaric tactics against others."
http://atheism.about.com...

"Calling torture a religious issue, Connecticut faith leaders demanded Tuesday that the state's congressional delegation oppose any changes of federal law that would allow violation of the Geneva Conventions, which prohibit torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners of war."
http://www.commondreams.org...

So we see the appointees of democratically elected presidents, leading international charities as well as leading figures from Atheist and religious groups, all agreeing that torture is immoral: a wide ranging common consensus.

We also see many examples of the counter-productivity of torture without even considering the mental impact it must have personally to those ordered to carry it out.

Waterboarding is an act of torture and is immoral.
Thankyou.
Ragnar_Rahl

Con

"This debate is in danger of becoming bogged in by semantics if my opponent and I continue to debate the interpretation of morality."
Semantics doesn't "Bog" a debate. It's the only thing that gives a debate any-- well, frankly, meaning. :P To evade semantics is to evade the fact that the resolution means something, arguments mean something, etc.

"
Basically I have suggested that morality is a knowledge of right and wrong"
That offers us a synonym, and therefore gets us nowhere-- "right and wrong" have to be right for a purpose or wrong for a purpose, right by a standard or wrong by a standard. The only purpose, the only standard, proposed, has been by me-- life.

"and that immoral actions are those which go against widely held opinion and common consensus"
You're placing the ad populum fallacy on the throne here.

"
My opponent dismisses these definitions saying: "they don't define it at all" without giving valid reason, although he does maintain that my interpretation backed up by these definitions is indeed the ""Established and general interpretation of morality.""

Straw man, sacrificng the able to the unable is what I referred to as "established and general--" or the closest thing to it that exists.

"
In turn my opponent substitutes his own version of Morality (basically selfishness) without any exterior source to back him up other than spurious and extremely vague references to Aristotle and insists we are stuck with his definition.
"
Because you haven't offered an alternative. Offering synonyms is not the same as clarifying the concept in question, when those synonyms are no clearer.

"
So my opponent makes it clear that his argument is for the use of torture in general being morally good.
"
The resolution was given as an absolute. There merely has to be some instance (not a general case) in which torture is morally good to disprove it. The instance I gave was torture of a guilty person for the purpose of gathering intelligence that saves many innocent lives, including many valued by the torturer :).

"
"Torture is immoral, illegal, and counterproductive. Torture undermines the moral and legal principles on which society is based. Moral authority and the ability to pressure allies are lost when world leaders resort to torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading practices."
I'd think that allowing a guilty person's pain capacity to stand in the way of saving thousands of lives undermines "authority" and ability of any sort much more effectively. By the way, Amnesty International is not an organization known for the study of political science, of how to rule effectively. It has no authority on the matter of "the ability to pressure allies," the ability to make a legal system work. An example of an expert on such matters would be Machiavelli, who tells us that not only love (the response to people approving of your actions), but far more importantly fear, can make a system operate. There is little doubt of the fear-inducing capacity of torturing one's enemies.

"As a means of interrogation, torture often results in false statements"
You seem to be missing something. In the intelligence community, you don't need certainty when you are interrogating an enemy-- you need leads, starting points. And the person in question will remain in your custody long after the information can be confirmed or denied-- meaning, as a practical matter, the specific use of torture being advocated here will NOT lead to false statements much of the time-- as there is significant motivation not to do so.

"and instills resentment and anger in the victims, their families, friends, and community, and generates embittered opponents"
Each and every one of those items is already full of resentment and anger. Resentment and anger has diminishing consequences after a certain point, if someone is already angry enough at you that they are trying to kill you or allied with those who are, making them angrier does not increase the danger to you-- indeed, it lessens it, as they are more likely to make mistakes in attacking you, more likely to have a heart attack, and less likely to be eloquent propagandists. :).

"
"Retired Adm. Dennis C. Blair, President Obama's nominee to lead the U.S. intelligence community, told Congress yesterday that torture "is not moral, legal or effective""
He wouldn't be employed in that capacity if he didn't say that, furthermore, he joined the military at a time in which, for ideological reasons, the official (and unresearched) position of the military was that torture secured only falsehoods, solely to serve as propaganda to bypass tortures practiced by communists in demanding ideological agreement from American POWs (Not, mind, a use of torture I have advocated here). As such, there is no reason to trust he's being honest, and plenty of reason to believe he'd say that with no knowledge. Indeed, in regard to his honesty, he is known to have violated conflict of interest standards in his work for the IDA. Furthermore, torture's effectiveness varies as different occupational and cultural groups have different tolerance for pain of all sorts--lhighlights of Dennis Blair's career consist of service on guided missile destroyers (not a place HUMINT training is likely high on the priority list as far as I can tell), and disobeying orders as US Pacific Commander in East Timor. They do not consist of dealing with such Islamic militants as he would have to have actual HUMINT dealings with to make an expert judgment on the effectiveness of torture, and specifically of waterboarding. The people with the most expertise on the matter (the officials who carried out the CIA waterboardings known to have occurred) happen to state that the information they gathered was effective. Is this scientific data? No. Is it better than the opinion of an admiral who would have never had his job if he said any differently, has no known direct experience with torture as interrogation, and is known to have violated the impartiality standards of his own employer in the past? I should think so.

"
"We, as humans say what is evil or moral. "
"We" say nothing in particular, or "We" would not ever argue with one another.

"
So we see the appointees of democratically elected presidents, leading international charities as well as leading figures from Atheist and religious groups, all agreeing that torture is immoral: a wide ranging common consensus.
"
Ad populum.

"
We also see many examples of the counter-productivity of torture"
No we do not. We see unsupported possibility, as opposed to the possibility that it saves lives, a possibility supported by the CIA officials who have actual experience in the matter.

"without even considering the mental impact it must have personally to those ordered to carry it out."
HUMINT is carried out by professionals who chose their job.
Debate Round No. 4
feverish

Pro

Thanks to my opponent for what has been an interesting, if somewhat frustrating debate.

I have presented my case as plainly as possible and provided links and sources to back up my definitions as well as my arguments. My opponent has ridiculed my sources without providing any of his own apart from vague references to Aristotle and Machiavelli. The only source my opponent seems to think worthy of crediting is Ragnar Rahl.

To humour my opponent I have attempted to argue within his own interpretation of morality as well as within the established one. He has not shown me the same courtesy and simply dismisses outright the standard definition of morality. I can only assume this is because he accepts that water-boarding is immoral under standardly applied definitions.

My opponent has flexed his intellectual muscle, displaying his impressive vocabulary and using obscure Latin (or is it Greek) terms but has not really argued much about water boarding. He has attacked conventions as fallacy without explaining why and also seems to imply that I am made of straw.

Unless my opponent offers some solid arguments, backed up by real evidence, then I urge readers to vote Pro.

My opponent accepts that water boarding is torture.
Since my opponent seems to have conceded that torture is immoral by conventionally held values, I will focus for the rest of this final round on proving it to be 'immoral' under my opponent's unusual 'self-preservation' model.

From the last round:
Me:"We also see many examples of the counter-productivity of torture"
My opponent:"No we do not. We see unsupported possibility, as opposed to the possibility that it saves lives, a possibility supported by the CIA officials who have actual experience in the matter."

I agree with my opponent that perhaps the best testimony comes from those who have carried it out:

"NEW YORK—Fifteen former interrogators and intelligence officials with more than 350 years collective field experience have declared that torture is an "unlawful, ineffective and counterproductive" way to gather intelligence, in a statement of principles released today."
http://www.humanrightsfirst.org...

"listen to Army Col. Stuart Herrington, a military intelligence specialist who conducted interrogations in Vietnam, Panama and Iraq during Desert Storm, and who was sent by the Pentagon in 2003 -- long before Abu Ghraib -- to assess interrogations in Iraq. Aside from its immorality and its illegality, says Herrington, torture is simply "not a good way to get information."
http://www.washingtonpost.com...

"Malcolm Nance, an advisor on terrorism to the US departments of Homeland Security, Special Operations and Intelligence, publicly denounced the practice. He revealed that waterboarding is used in training at the US Navy's Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School in San Diego, and claimed to have witnessed and supervised "hundreds" of waterboarding exercises. Although these last only a few minutes and take place under medical supervision, he concluded that "waterboarding is a torture technique – period".
http://www.independent.co.uk...

Just three examples of those who have carried out water boarding agreeing that it is torture, immoral (standard definition) and ineffective (Immoral to Ragnar).

And what is official policy? aside from the Geneva convention etc?:

"the current U.S. Army Field Manual recognizes that torture and inhuman treatment is ineffective, stating that "Use of torture and other illegal methods is a poor technique that yields unreliable results, may damage subsequent collection efforts, and induce the source to say what he thinks the interrogator wants to hear."
http://blogs.amnestyusa.org...

As my opponents idea of morality is focused on the self let us further examine the personal impact of carrying out torture, military and government personal are unlikely to discuss this sort of thing publicly but in the confidentiality of a doctor's office etc:

"The guards at the Guant�namo Bay prison camp are the "overlooked victims" of America's controversial detention facility in Cuba, according to a psychiatrist who has treated some of them.....patient ('Mr H') is a national guardsman in his early 40s who was sent to Guant�namo in the first months of its operation, when prisoners captured in Afghanistan were beginning to flood into the camp. Mr H reported that he found conditions at the camp extremely disturbing. For example, in the first month two detainees and two prison guards committed suicide....the things his superiors required him to do to them had a severe psychological impact on Mr H."
http://www.guardian.co.uk...

My opponent claims that water boarding has been used three times to positive effect. It does not take much of a stretch of imagination to suppose that it may well have been carried out many more times with less effective results and that these instances remain classified information.
As my opponent makes no references I cannot research these cases individually but I did find evidence that the effectiveness of at least one of them was in dispute:

"CIA officials initially believed Zubaida was an al-Qaida ringleader and that information he divulged after being water-boarded would prove crucial to preventing terrorist attacks. Both assumptions were wrong. Zubaida wasn't even an official member of al-Qaida. While he did possess some very useful information about al-Qaida's membership, most of it was obtained before he was water-boarded. The leads he provided later were almost all dead ends that wasted agents' valuable time and resources. The paper says that Zubaida might now prove to be a thorny legal issue for the White House."
http://www.slate.com...

"not a single significant plot was foiled as a result of Abu Zubaida's tortured confessions, according to former senior government officials who closely followed the interrogations."
http://www.washingtonpost.com...

So there we have it; water boarding is torture and torture is immoral no matter how skewed your personal moral compass may be.

Thankyou.
Ragnar_Rahl

Con

"
I agree with my opponent that perhaps the best testimony comes from those who have carried it out:

"NEW YORK—Fifteen former interrogators and intelligence officials with more than 350 years collective field experience have declared that torture is an "unlawful, ineffective and counterproductive" way to gather intelligence, in a statement of principles released today."
http://www.humanrightsfirst.org......

"listen to Army Col. Stuart Herrington, a military intelligence specialist who conducted interrogations in Vietnam, Panama and Iraq during Desert Storm, and who was sent by the Pentagon in 2003 -- long before Abu Ghraib -- to assess interrogations in Iraq. Aside from its immorality and its illegality, says Herrington, torture is simply "not a good way to get information.""
Quotes like these are evasive, because whatever their field experience may be, it is not demonstrably experience in the waterboarding being defended-- Abu Ghraib, last I heard, was being run by a military police unit that wasn't even properly trained CO's, it isn't comparable to CIA waterboarding of the sort anyone's defending.

Since my opponent seems to be attacking for a lack of sources without asking for which sources he wants to see, here's the source on the statements of what results occurred when the CIA used waterboarding: http://www.globalresearch.ca...

"
"Malcolm Nance, an advisor on terrorism to the US departments of Homeland Security, Special Operations and Intelligence, publicly denounced the practice. He revealed that waterboarding is used in training at the US Navy's Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School in San Diego, and claimed to have witnessed and supervised "hundreds" of waterboarding exercises. Although these last only a few minutes and take place under medical supervision, he concluded that "waterboarding is a torture technique – period"."
This particular quote is beating a dead horse, I never disputed that waterboarding is torture, since we are in agreement on that matter, we can usefully omit that measurement by this point.

"

"the current U.S. Army Field Manual recognizes that torture and inhuman treatment is ineffective, stating that "Use of torture and other illegal methods is a poor technique that yields unreliable results, may damage subsequent collection efforts, and induce the source to say what he thinks the interrogator wants to hear.""
Let's take a look at this. First of all, they don't reference which field manual they are talking about (Wikipedia says the US Army had 542 field manuals in circulation as of 27 July 2007). I've managed to find in field manual 2-22-3, however. Let's look at the context. It's essentially a beginner's guide to HUMINT collection in pursuit of "The commander's needs." This is the manual new interrogators are expected to learn, it provides "Doctrinal guidance," among other things-- Hmm, doctrine. Do you think, maybe, if there's something that they'd REALLY REALLY get in trouble letting a just-trained person holding the rank of Private do something, they might tell him it's ineffective even if it's not true?

Or in this case, plain fallacious. Pretty much ALL interrogation efforts yield unreliable results and induce the source to say what he thinks the interrogator wants to here. It's up to the organization ordering the interrogation to counter this influence by creating a context in which lies can be quickly found out. And torture isn't a first resort, it's a last in one's interrogations, so "damaging subsequent collection efforts" is irrelevant when not dealing with an interrogator who doesn't have a logical sense of the correct order of operations down.

"
"The guards at the Guant�namo Bay prison camp are the "overlooked victims""
Stop right here.

Volenti non fit injuria.

Volunteer and victim are mutually exclusive statuses.

"
My opponent claims that water boarding has been used three times to positive effect. It does not take much of a stretch of imagination to suppose that it may well have been carried out many more times with less effective results"
Irrelevant, as the argument is not over the specific amount of waterboarding it is moral to administer, only whether there is a nonzero amount. Waterboarding should not be used where less compromising techniques have not been attempted or have succeeded, obviously. The point is that it can occasionally retrieve intelligence from otherwise valueless prisoners.

A bit of advice for the future: Latin can be freely looked up with these wonderful computing devices, and a "Straw man" is not an accusation that you are made of straw, it is an accusation that you are misrepresenting an opponent's position :).
Debate Round No. 5
34 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by PervRat 4 years ago
PervRat
Psychological harm is real harm, that's the official definition used both in the dictionary and by the Geneva convention.
Posted by Flyinglow 4 years ago
Flyinglow
its not torture because your are not really causing any physical harm.

and pro your not gagged, they just put a bag over your mouth and pour water into it
Posted by Ragnar_Rahl 5 years ago
Ragnar_Rahl
"
As is guilty until proven innocent"
Nope.

"and with disregard to extreme or unusual punishment?"
Yep.

"
If you are interrogating someone, it is unfathomable to consider them guilty -- you are investigating."
You're investigating ON A DIFFERENT ACCOUNT than the evidence for them being guilty. I am advocating the use of torture for interrogations by MILITARY INTELLIGENCE, against those already convicted, for military, not courtroom, use.

"ou cannot get away with torturing a U.S. citizen even if they are accused (or for that matter, even convicted) of even a horrible crime like rape, child molestation or murder. To do so to someone foreign-born is to declare being foreign-born a worse crime than rape, child molestation or murder."
This would be valid if I supported excluding US citizens from the possibility of being tortured. I do not.
Posted by PervRat 5 years ago
PervRat
"Utter and total nonsense. To me, harming innocent people is never an acceptable action, regardless of the goal."
This is not a valid critique, because harming innocents is not a means to any of the goals I advocate. Harming the guilty is sometimes :)."

As is guilty until proven innocent, and with disregard to extreme or unusual punishment?

If you are interrogating someone, it is unfathomable to consider them guilty -- you are investigating. You cannot get away with torturing a U.S. citizen even if they are accused (or for that matter, even convicted) of even a horrible crime like rape, child molestation or murder. To do so to someone foreign-born is to declare being foreign-born a worse crime than rape, child molestation or murder.
Posted by Ragnar_Rahl 5 years ago
Ragnar_Rahl
In other words, going from "A goal is needed" to "any goal is okay" is an unacceptable leap of illogic :).
Posted by Ragnar_Rahl 5 years ago
Ragnar_Rahl
"
Hitler's goal was world peace, achievable through genocide. Once anyone who was different or in opposition was annhilated, there would indeed be world peace. Since world peace is the goal, and the goal is "good," and by RR's reckoning no actions to achieve a goal (such as genocide) can be good or bad outside the context of the goal (since genocide could lead to world peace), the by RR's "logic," the actions of the Nazis toward world peace (by exterminating anyone different than themselves) must be considered "good.""
World peace is not, however, "the goal." "The goal," which is implicitly recognized by everyone who lives, is one's own life (since life is volitional, anyone who doesn't see such as a goal is dead and therefore irrelevant). Now, naturally, due to the law of non-contradiction, you can't pursue this and pursue a conflicting goal :).

"
Utter and total nonsense. To me, harming innocent people is never an acceptable action, regardless of the goal."
This is not a valid critique, because harming innocents is not a means to any of the goals I advocate. Harming the guilty is sometimes :).
Posted by Lawsonishere 5 years ago
Lawsonishere
When did the world become pussyddd? I guess i didn't get the memo.
Posted by snelld7 5 years ago
snelld7
ragnar_rahl:

I would have talked about "The terms good and bad have no meaning without the context of a goal. An action cannot be good or bad outside the context of that goal." but someone got to it before hand.
Posted by PervRat 5 years ago
PervRat
"The terms good and bad have no meaning without the context of a goal. An action cannot be good or bad outside the context of that goal."

Completely and utterly ridiculous. Consider:
Hitler's goal was world peace, achievable through genocide. Once anyone who was different or in opposition was annhilated, there would indeed be world peace. Since world peace is the goal, and the goal is "good," and by RR's reckoning no actions to achieve a goal (such as genocide) can be good or bad outside the context of the goal (since genocide could lead to world peace), the by RR's "logic," the actions of the Nazis toward world peace (by exterminating anyone different than themselves) must be considered "good."

Utter and total nonsense. To me, harming innocent people is never an acceptable action, regardless of the goal. You cannot defeat evil by taking evil actions.
Posted by Ragnar_Rahl 5 years ago
Ragnar_Rahl
The terms good and bad have no meaning without the context of a goal. An action cannot be good or bad outside the context of that goal.

Keep in mind, snelld, it's general practice to solely base votes on the arguments actually made, rather than on your own objections to some of those arguments that weren't raised by the debaters.
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