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In Death Note, pertaining to Lights use of the Death Note, would the ends justify the means?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/29/2014 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,997 times Debate No: 44662
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (11)
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Many people say, In Death Note, when it pertains to Light Yagami using the death note, the ends justify the means. Yes, it is sad that he kills people (not just innocent people), but in the end it is okay because it will create a better living for other people. This is false. Light Yagami says that he will create a "shining new world" in which he is "The god of [that] new world". He justifies his killings(the means) by saying that in doing so he is creating a better world. However, the world that Light Yagami would be creating(The ends) would not be as great as he says it would be.

In his world people live in fear, fear of what Kira would do to them if they make a mistake. Mistakes are what make us. We learn more from them then we do from success. In the movie Les Miserables, Jean Valjean make a mistake early on in his life and spends years making up for it. Once he has finished his sentence he makes another mistake by stealing from a priest who helped him. By this time how can he be seen as someone who deserves another chance? However, the priest gives him another chance. By doing this the priest saves Jean Valjean who then lives his life as one of the best people anyone who meets him could know. He spends his life helping people and makes a positive impact on many peoples lives. He got to that place by making mistakes.

There many good people in this world that this world needs. Without them the world would seem darker. These people cannot always exist if they had not first made mistakes. what would a world without these people be?

France, in the time frame of Jean Valjeans life, is a perfect example of how the world would be in Light Yagami's "shining new world". Except his world would be worse.

To get even more extreme and specific we could look at the holocaust. What if Hitler had created his "shining new world"? Light Yagami is like a Hitler. He isn't the only one. Like Hitler, Light Yagami just happened to have the means to create his world.

In both worlds people live in fear because of who they are. The Jews were Jews by birth and could not change who they were no matter what they did. of course it wasn't fair for them to die or be treated like they were. Humans are humans. We make mistakes and we do bad things, and there is no way to change that fact. No one is perfect. The world Light Yagami envisioned was not realistic because no human is that perfect. The ends did not justify the means because the ends were worse.

Les MiseL9;rables. Dir. Tom Hooper. Perf. Hugh Jackman. Universal Studios Home Entertainment, 2013. DVD.


Concerning the topic of Light Yagami's (夜神月) concept of right and wrong in the popular anime adaptation of the Japanese manga "Death Note", I believe that there is no feasible way to call what he is doing "wrong" and his motives, "false". I think that this is true for a few reasons.

First and foremost, the Death Note comes with unimaginable power to humans, created and used originally for uses strictly pertaining to the Shinigami, or "Death Gods". Humans are not at fault for being corrupted by this monumental power (1), and saying that a young high school student should be responsible for his actions under this type power, that is to say, an enchantment, is utterly illogical. Willpower is one of many people's principal sources of psychological surrender (2). It is also insinuated in the series that multiple humans have been under the extreme duress of the supernal power contained within the titular black composition book and have all been horribly corrupted. The ends (world purity) do indeed justify the twisted (unintentionally so) means of Light.

Secondly, I argue that Light is justified in doing this because, unlike your point of comparing him to Hitler, he does what many places do today: the death penalty. This form of punishment has been used in upwards of 63 countries as of 2014 (3). The death penalty is imposed not only so the victims' families can see the criminals die, and feel maliciously happy because of it, as you say Light does, (when you compare him with Adolf Hitler) but rather to make an example out of them and to get a clean slate, without criminals raping, killing, and maiming people worldwide. Hitler did not kill people because they killed. He killed them because of how they were born, some completely and utterly unchangeable. In an excerpt from "Mein Kampf", he describes how he (graphically) sees a Jew in his own mind: "Here he stops at nothing, and in his vileness he becomes so gigantic that no one need be surprised if among our people the personification of the devil as the symbol of all evil assumes the living shape of the Jew." Criminals aren't born a criminal. A criminal is somebody who makes the choice to get out of bed, and kill somebody, or rape somebody, or rob a bank clean. There is no "crime gene". It is completely learned, as many scientists agree on. (5)

Touching base on your last argument, I would like to say that you make a good point about the relation between Jean Valjean and Kira (Light Yagami), but something that I think that you missed is the fact that Jean Valjean is actually alike to Kira himself. As with Valjean breaking a window to steal bread for his sister's kids, (a noble deed that is not socially and legally acceptable) Kira decided to extend his reach over society and try to help it by dispatching many horrible men and women who, for the most part, are in jail for life and could do damage dealing drugs or ordering murders from the inside of the prison itself (6). Light was given many "second chances" but could not accept them as I said in the second paragraph. Overall, the ends do justify the means. They are noble means, and also ones which are impossible to refuse while under the formidable influence of the magic of the Shinigami imbued in the Death Note.

1. (If you notice, this study highlights the power of the Death Note, even specifically saying "the power of the Death Note".
2. (The study showed that willpower was the "most significant barrier to change" for average Americans)
3. (Bottom of page)
4. (Second paragraph under "On the Weapons of the Jews".)
5. (See all of this story, very telling about how a person is not born with a genetic need to commit crime, only some genes that can increase antisocial behavior which may or may not lead to some crimes.)
6. (All of this, especially the first paragraph.)
Debate Round No. 1


Touching on the first thing you said about my opinion being that Lights motives are "false", i would like to clarify this. I am sorry if it was not clear, but "false" was referring to the idea of a "better living" being "false".

Secondly, It is not necessarily just about whether or not Lights means were justified, but whether or not the ends were. Someone could have a perfect motive, but if the ends are not desirable then they are not justified. In the book Animal Farm(Orwell) , there was clearly good intentions to bring happiness to Manor Farm, however, in the end the animals ended up in the same (if not worse) situation.

The Russian revolution (which is represented in Animal Farm)(2) is a perfect example of leaders fighting for power. Light Yagami wanted to rule as "god of a new world... and reign in that world for a long time". He was fighting for power and as seen in the Russian revolution this is an endless cycle. It may be more accurate to compare Light Yagami to Joseph Stalin instead of Hitler (like i did in my last argument). In Animal Farm, Stalin is played by Napoleon (one of the leaders of the revolution), and in Death Note he is played by Light. All three use their silver tongues to gain followers. Both Stalin and Napoleon end up creating a corrupt society in which the people suffer. They create worlds of fear. 'Yes, I am here to help you and give you all better lives, however if you disappoint me your dead, and your "better lives" will consist of you working to please me.'

You compared Jean ValJean to Kira, however, stealing bread to help your sisters child, and killing millions of criminals and many innocent people are on different levels. Light was given "second chances", he could have stopped whenever he wanted to, but that is not the point. The point is that in the world of the Kira it is a world of fear. A world of people who can cover up their wrong doings a world of people who can not. Humans are humans, humans do wrong things and make mistakes, but those mistakes make us and are what keep us right in a world full of wrong. A world that will never be completely rid of wrong. It can be seen in the book, A Brave New World(Huxley), that innocence cannot always be kept. Someone can dowse away reality with pills and do their best to forget it, but when it comes down to it there will always be those who thirst for reality, those who thirst for the truth, and truth cannot always be found if not through mistakes. That is how to gain knowledge. The scientist who researched on the will power experiment, that was in your resources, made mistakes. Then learned from them. Just like Jean ValJean did. Light wanted "honest and hard working" people in his world. On what level of honesty did he want the people to be. Would stealing a loaf of bread to feed a nephew be considered so dishonest that the culprit would die?

Not only is the thought of the world that light would create terrifying, but what would happen after light died? who would reign then. The world would be in shambles. Maybe Light would come up with some genius plan like giving ownership of the death note to someone else, but who is to say that person would remain right with so much power. It would be a cycle that would end when a leader decided they did not want to give up their death note. This would leave the world in shambles. It would be another story about a struggle for power like in the Russian Revolution. The world that Light Yagami desired was not an ends that could justify any means.

1) Orwell, George. Animal farm;. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1954. Print.

2) (All specifically the last 2 paragraphs.)

3) Huxley, Aldous. Brave new world,. New York: Harper & Bros., 1946. Print.

4) Les MiseL9;rables. Dir. Tom Hooper. Perf. Hugh Jackman. Universal Studios Home Entertainment, 2013. DVD.


SGilley forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


Since my opponent has not presented an argument I will not present one either, and hope he will continue in round 3.


Many apologies for my late debate response. As I said in the comments, I had pressing matters to deal with, rendering me unable to provide an adequate counter-argument. I had a partial argument formed, but I decided to rather forfeit as it would have been half-hearted, although it is still one hundred percent my fault. Thank you greatly for allowing me a chance at redemption. Without further ado, I'll get into the meat of it.

You say that Light's motives sound approximately like "Yes, I am here to help you and give you all better lives, however if you disappoint me, you're dead, and your 'better lives' will consist of you working to please me." These ideas are not what Light adopts as his ideals at all. In fact, he doesn't even want to kill all of the criminals. He says "And while the truly guilty ones who deserve to be punished for their crimes die of heart attacks, the people who are less guilty but who still make trouble for others will slowly be erased through disease and accidental death." (1) I believe that Light was not like Stalin in that he killed only the worst criminals and lived through his entire life only killing them and them only. Stalin killed many people, estimates show almost 60 million people (2) (3) regardless of their stances on anything, much less being a criminal. This is why I believe your facts about comparing Stalin and Light are not exactly parallel, not to mention the introduction of Napoleon. (4) Light was a justified killer, not a maniac who starved out tens of millions of innocent people for his political beliefs. (5)

1. Note%3E01. Rebirth
Debate Round No. 3
11 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by SGilley 5 years ago
I understand, I was just including your mirroring him to Stalin so I could touch on all of your points.
Posted by YewRose19298 5 years ago
Just to make it more clear, "Napoleon" was referring to the character in Animal Farm who acting as a good leader till he gained power.
Posted by SGilley 5 years ago
Thanks for the input. I will definitely strengthen up my argument even more to make up for my lateness.
Posted by Ragnar 5 years ago
As a voter the missed round makes victory pretty difficult, but getting arguments within the tied range is still well within reason.
Posted by YewRose19298 5 years ago
Completely understandable and I appreciate the explanation.
Posted by SGilley 5 years ago
I would like to make it known that I did not simply give up, but was working on it as the time ran out. It still does not change the fact that it is my fault.
Posted by SGilley 5 years ago
Thank you for allowing me a round. I had very pressing matters to deal with and am extremely sorry for the misconduct.
Posted by YewRose19298 5 years ago
I forgot a source (around 20:00)
Posted by YewRose19298 5 years ago
What is that? FullMetal Alchemist? I have seen part of that but have not finished.
Posted by fazz 5 years ago
have you seen FMA?
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Krazzy_Player 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: FF