The Instigator
parothead13
Pro (for)
Winning
24 Points
The Contender
dmarie15
Con (against)
Losing
16 Points

It is morally permissible to kill one innocent person to save the lives of many innocent people.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/2/2008 Category: Society
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 11,846 times Debate No: 3485
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (6)
Votes (12)

 

parothead13

Pro

Ethics, too, are nothing but reverence for life. That is what gives me the fundamental principle of morality, namely, that good ; consists in maintaining, promoting, and enhancing life, and that destroying, injuring, and limiting life are evil. - Albert Schweitzer, Civilization and Ethics; because I believe this quote is true I stand in affirmation of the resolution: It is morally permissible to kill one innocent person to save the lives of many innocent people.

I will start with some definitions
Permissible: that can be permitted; allowable
Kill: to deprive of life in any manner; cause the death of
I reserve the right to clarify any definitions needed in this round

Contention 1: Life is valuable.
Since this country was created we believed life was a fundamental value. We looked towards it in all our major decisions made by the government. Why would we stop now? "Such a morality begins with the individual's life as the primary value and identifies the further values that are demonstrably required to sustain that life." (Peter Schwartz) Such a thing requires life first. Life is one of the utmost values and needs to be upheld.

Contention 2: Life is taken away on the negative side
They are preserving the life of one but condemning many to death. There is no logic that can be seen on the negative side. We need to do what we can to preserve life. If it involves something as consequential as killing some one you do what you need to. You have to look and see if the ends justify the means and of course they do in a circumstance like this.

Contention 3: Killing and condemning to death are no different.
Do you honestly think that people care weather you put a bullet in their chest or some one else did? Of course not people would look and see if they are dead as consequences not how they died. Condemning some on to death is no different because you could have done something. You chose to not save them which are causing them to die.

With that I am ready to hear your debate.
dmarie15

Con

Today, our society can become confused of what the difference is between being moral and immoral. According to dictionary.com, moral is of, pertaining to, or concerned with the principles or rules of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong. When you are allowing an innocent person to die I don't feel that that is ever moral. Therefore, I am against the arguement, It is morally permissible to kill one innocent person to save the lives of many innocent people.

There are four main reasons why you should vote for the con side. First, it isn't morally right to kill a person even if the results may be good. Second, we don't know the circumstances. Third, how do you choose an innocent person. And lastly, we don't know if the plan will work.

Point 1: It is never morally right to kill an innocent person to save the lives of many innocent people even if the results may be good. Let's say a gunman walked into my debate classroom and told my teacher that he had to pick one person to die in the room and everyone else would be saved. Now, imagine yourself as my debate teacher. How would you react to that situation. Can you honestly say that picking a person to die is moral at all. In our society today we look more closely at the results of certain situations, including this one. We look towards the results of the situation and say that it would save a lot of lives to kill this person. However, in the olden days they looked at the situation as, no killing a person is wrong, no matter what the circumstances are. So, no matter what the results of the situation are, it is NEVER moral to kill a person to save many lives.

Point 2: We don't know the cirumstances of the situation. In my first point I gave an example but the arguement doesn't say anything. What if in this circumstance there was another way that you could get out of the situation without actually killing an innocent person. So, my opponent can argue and say what if that is the only way? Well, I guess we just don't know.

Point 3: How do you possibly choose an innocent person to die? Yesterday at school I was trying to think of what to say in my arguement. I was in Spanish class when I asked a fellow classmate what he would do if he was in the situation. He told me a story of a survey that they did in New York City. The went up to random people and asked them, if you are on a train and a man was volunteering to jump in front of the train to save everyone, which would you rather do. Have the man die or everyone on the train? Almost everyone responded with they would rather have the man die. Now, the asked the same people the same question but with a twist. They said, what if you had to push the man in front of the train. Almost everyone said that they wouldn't push the man. Also, what if the person that you chose to die went on to find the cure for cancer or AIDS? That's why we can't choose a person to die, they may go on to help out the entire world in a MORAL way.

Point 4: We don't know if the plan will work. Back to my debate teacher with the gunman example. Let's just say my debate teacher picked me to die and I was immediatly shot. Then, the gunman went on to kill everyone else in the classroom. Well, I guess that sucks. Because we don't know the circumstances, you can't guarantee that killing one innocent person will save many lives.

In conclusion, you can't be for the pro arguement because it just doesn't make sense. It is never moral to kill a person even if the results end up being good. And who says that the results may be good? We don't know the circumstances and there may be another way out of the situation. Also, how do you possibly choose a person to die. They could go on to save the entire world in a moral manner. Therefore, I urge you to vote con in this debate.
Debate Round No. 1
parothead13

Pro

I will start off with your first point. Now as stated by my definition of kill, which was never refuted, means deprive of life or cause death. When you are negative you support killing many instead of one. Either way does not have good causes but as stated by the resolution you have to choose the better of two evils.
II. With the debate teacher whether she could choose when put under pressure doesn't matter in whether it is moral or not. Under pressure your mind is clouded and judgment isn't its greatest which is why we are debating it here instead of asking people under gunpoint. Just because Memphis couldn't make free throws under pressure doesn't mean it was immoral to make free throws.
III. Killing a person obviously isn't a good thing to do, but would you rather kill one or many?

Point 2: The resolution says it is morally permissible to kill one innocent person to save the lives of many innocent people. There is a very key word in there. Save: to keep from being lost. The resolution states that killing saves them meaning that without killing then many die.

Point 3: Once again whether or not a survey says that they can do it doesn't mean that they its immoral. I probably couldn't kill a chicken directly but I still believe that it's moral to eat meat. You cannot let personal emotions lead you decision.

Point 4: We do know that the plan will work. It is inherent in the resolution that if you kill one innocent you will save the lives of many.

You haven't refuted any of my points so I can't exactly say anything except that they all stand.

In conclusion you should vote pro because you should save the lives of many over one.
dmarie15

Con

The resolution clearly states MORALLY permissible. How can you possibly saying killing an innocent person is moral? The outcome may be good but the way that you are looking at morality is way out of hand. For example. You are the head of your household. You have a wife and two small children. Your family is in desperate need of money. You decide that you need to sell crack to earn money for your family or any other drug. You can say, but hey, the outcome was great! I am getting money and supporting my family! Just because the outcome of killing a person but be good, it isn' moral and according to the resolution, it has to be moral.

I am not saying that the outcome wouldn't be good. It most likely would be but I'm saying that we can't allow an immoral situation to occur. Like I stated earlier, we could have other options. There isn't any circumstances whatsoever. What if there is another way out of the situation? With your chicken example, so eating meat isn't immoral. So, if you killed a person and ate them, do you still believe that that is moral? I don't think so. A chicken and a human are two completely different things.

For your first contention, life is valuable. I am not saying that life isn't valuable. However, we don't know if there is another way out of the situation. We also don't know if that person that you are killing could go on to save many more lives. Also, like I said before, it isn't moral to kill a person. Isn't the life of the person you are killing valuable?

For your second contention, life is taken away. Life is also taken away on your side so I don't feel that we should be talking about this. My whole point is that this topic isn't extremely descriptive for reasons such as not knowing circumstances and/or other options.

For your third contention, killing and condeming a person to death are no different. So, are you saying that an innocent person has the responsibility to save others? I don't really understand that. So, why would that be condemning to death?

I stand strong on my 4 points and have gone against his contentions. With that, I strongly urge you to vote con in this debate. Thank you.
Debate Round No. 2
parothead13

Pro

I will start with your last statement. You said that all four of your points stand strong but you never refuted my attacks on them.

Now your introduction, selling crack obliviously isn't moral nor is it in any way relevant to this debate because the consequences are that your family has money but also ruins the life of many others. Like in my intro and the theories of philosophers say that is the end is what determines whether an action is moral.

Your second point is that we don't know the circumstances you obviously just ignored my counter on that or chose not to analogy it because I refuted that and then you just restated your main point without debating mine. We don't know the circumstances but we do know that either we kill this person or many die.

You never directly refuted my first point but you did say that what about the person you are killing. First of all you can't through in any hypothetical social value on this person because it is just as likely if not more that one of the ones you are saving can save many more. The person's life also has value but as I stated before it is the lesser of two evils. Many people are more valuable than one person.

My whole second contention was about that you are losing more life on the negative side.

On my third point the resolution says that you kill the 1 innocent or many innocents one of the above is going to die.

With my points standing and hers not even refuted I urge you to vote for who you think won. (Hopefully me : ) Thanks for a good debate have a fun rest of the tournament.
dmarie15

Con

I would like to start out by saying that I did refute your points. Ok now to move on. Ok my whole point with the crack story is the way that you are looking at morality. In the first arguement I briefly covered this. There are many ways that we can look at morality. Morality is something that is basically looked at as an opinion. My point is the way that you are looking at morality is ridiculous. You are looking at the results as determining something as moral or not. That's what my point with the crack example was. You may have good results and say that is moral (looking at the way you are determining morality). But, is the action of creating the good results moral itself? In this whole killing an innocent person situation, not it's not. My whole point all along is how even if it has good results, it isn't MORAL. And the topic clearly states it must be moral so I cannot possibly see how the pro can win on this point at all. Ok moving on.

Ok those two paragraphs at the beginning of my second arguement was helping out my points. Sorry for not clearly stating that if it confused you in any way at all. Alright. Yes, we are allowing many people to die maybe if we don't kill this person. I understood your counter but cannot agree with it because this topic does not specifically say any circumstances at all. You never directly attacked my point saying that if we kill this person, what if that person that you are killing could have gone on to save many more lives? We just don't know. So, we can't kill an INNOCENT person.

Ok, for your first contention, life is valuable. Yes, life is valuable. I 100% agree with that. But is killing an innocent person the correct way to save these lives when you are being hypocritical and killing a person, which is taking away their VALUABLE life?

For your second contention, yes I understand that we are losing more lives. But, you can't say that it is morally allowable to kill a person to save these lives. It's immoral and you are taking away a life to save lives. That just doesn't seem right to me.

For your third contention, aren't you condemning that innocent person to die? Have you ever seen Pirates of the Caribbean? The crew wanted to leave Will behind because they knew if they went after him they would most likely die and be in a bad situation. However, Elizabeth said, "So you want to condemn him to die?" See, she knew that having that innocent man die would be immoral.

I don't feel your points are any longer standing and mine have been attacked but are still strong. I urge you to vote for who you feel truly one this round. Also, I would like to thank my opponent for a very enjoyable debate round. I had a great time. Good luck to you in the tournament too. :]
Debate Round No. 3
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by randomhahahaha 5 years ago
randomhahahaha
dmarie, with due respect, you do have a few flaws in your statements. For one thing, it is also more likely that someone in the group of people saved would come up with a way to save many. Also, in your last example, pirates aren't exactly innocent and elizabeth stopped the pirates from CONDEMNING will to death.
Posted by Ragnar_Rahl 6 years ago
Ragnar_Rahl
"
And Ragnar, I think that takes "moral" to a degree which muddles the debate. But I understand what you're saying. My counter to that is that the same adjective "innocent" is used to modify both Group A and B. So the innocence of one will correspond to the innocence of another in the given scenario. If one group Tacitly consents to death, so must the other (your slave example)
3 Days Ago"

i'm not sure I understand your objection here. It is not the "same adjective," it's the same sound used to express two different adjectives. You seem to be committing the fallacy of equivocation.

And morals are not "Relative" in the sense you are speaking of, just because people disagree about them does not change them :D
Posted by PublicForumG-d 6 years ago
PublicForumG-d
"Ethics are reverence for life?"

So if my ethical code directs me to rape babies (which is quite possible, athough unusual) then my ethics revere life?

I think you have a very western view of ethics. Ethics are merely a moral code - which in and of itself can be immoral. "Morals" are relative, and vary person to person. It may be very possible that one person considers it 'moral' to kill one person just to kill them.

However, I think that you're trying to debate on a perspective of moral as in the preservation of life: does killing 1 person for many best preserve life?

The answer is The Value Premise is Preservation of Life and the Criterion is utilitarianism. VP is implicit. The best way to preseverve life here is to take a small amount.

Situation: Group A or Group B must die. Pick the one which best preserves life.

Group A (1 Person) Group B (2000 people).

While in either scenario life is being taken, the choice isn't "take a life for the heck of it" its "one set of people will die. Preserve life best."

So to best preserve life, it comes down to that sometimes some people must die.

Social Darwinism and such theories widely support this. Christ this debate could've been better.

And Ragnar, I think that takes "moral" to a degree which muddles the debate. But I understand what you're saying. My counter to that is that the same adjective "innocent" is used to modify both Group A and B. So the innocence of one will correspond to the innocence of another in the given scenario. If one group Tacitly consents to death, so must the other (your slave example)
Posted by Ragnar_Rahl 6 years ago
Ragnar_Rahl
Keep in mind that this resolution could have benefited from distinguishing between types of innocence, it is of course possible to be morally innocent but metaphysically not (i.e. be a slave of a dictator or some such, and thus complicit even if not morally in the deaths of those many. Such people are legitimate targets if their death furthers the end of the death of the dictator, and if they are truly morally innocent (i.e. their mind condemns what their body is doing despite all the propaganda from the dictator), they realize this and would willingly accept the possibility of death in order to obtain the possibility of freedom that comes from the dictator's death. This is because a life lived unfree has no value to the morally innocent except in it's potential for future freedom, things can only be of value to those who enjoy the benefits, and the dictator is the only one who enjoys the benefits of his subject's lives (and even then only on the range of the moment, the only range on which such criminals can exist).
Posted by Ragnar_Rahl 6 years ago
Ragnar_Rahl
"
Ethics, too, are nothing but reverence for life"

One's own life, to be exact :D, which is the problem with your argument, if you kill someone of class innocent you notify everyone who is innocent (that is, everyone you would normally trade with and such, rather than be at war with by default), that you consider killing them when they have done nothing to you an option. This sets their course pretty firmly toward killing you. In essence, you are committing suicide.

"
They are preserving the life of one but condemning many to death. There is no logic that can be seen on the negative side. "

Inaction is not a condemnation. And also you are ignoring the possibility that you may be killing an extremely important life in the name of a number that are less important- Say the first innocent owns a granary, and you are killing him to temporarily "save" the lives of a bunch of bums by giving him the grain- You've just in the long term reduced production and thus capacity for life, all because in the short term you thought the value of life was expressed by numbers.

"Do you honestly think that people care weather you put a bullet in their chest or some one else did? Of course not people would look and see if they are dead as consequences not how they died. Condemning some on to death is no different because you could have done something."

It's not "condemning," it's inaction. And no you couldn't have, unless you wished to die yourself.

"Let's say a gunman walked into my debate classroom and told my teacher that he had to pick one person to die in the room and everyone else would be save"

Actually Con, I would not count that as "killing." What is done under immediate threat of force is not morally relevant, morality applies to situations in which you are free.
Posted by Pluto2493 6 years ago
Pluto2493
can you guys finish this debate? Muah.
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