The Instigator
Pro (for)
6 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

Targeted Killing is a Morally Permissible Foreign Policy Tool

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/30/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,940 times Debate No: 23292
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (13)
Votes (2)




Thanks to WriterSelbe in advance for accepting this debate. The resolution is as follows:

Targeted killing is a morally permissible foreign policy tool.
Pro is affirming. Con is negating.

A few ground rules:

1. As this is an LD topic, we will be having an LD style debate. The rounds will be structured to be as close to LD as possible (round structure will be explained later on).
2. All types of LD cases are acceptable.
3. Cases may be posted in google document links. Please do not abuse this.
4. Dropped arguments = concessions.
5. In the event of a forfeited round, unless clarified otherwise, all 7 points go to the victor.

Round structure goes as thus:

Round 1: Acceptance only. NO CASES HERE.
Round 2: Aff case, Neg case/rebuttals.
Round 3: Aff rebuttals, neg rebuttals.
Round 4: Aff rebuttal. Neg does not post an argument in this round, to keep with consistency with the LD format. PLEASE DO NOT FORFEIT THIS ROUND.

Good luck.


Mmkay. I agree to all of these. So is it ok if I use Google Docs for the case, and then I type my arguments and defenses in the actual DDO format box thing? Also, my evidence is printed and not linked, but it is cited in the case and if you ask to see it, I will send it.

For answers to these questions, please post in the comments or PM me. Thanks for the challenge!
Debate Round No. 1


Case is in the google document link.
Citations are available upon request.


If the link doesn't work, please PM me. Never used Google Docs before.

Please do not consider it a concession if I don't address an argument in this round. I'd like to use this as a sort of CX of your case.

1. How does moral skepticism affect the resolution?
2. What warrants do you have for moral skep?
3. What do you believe I must defeat in your case to win this debate?
4. Why should moral skepticism provide that targeted killing is permissible by default rather than not permissible by default? What warrants this default?
Debate Round No. 2


As she spent her 1NR asking questions, my case can be considered dropped, as her last round was supposed to be for refutations. Thus, you can clearly extend out my case across the flow. She asks that it not be considered a concession, but the round structure clearly illustrated that her round was to be used for rebuttals, and she failed to do this. Thus, my case can be considered dropped.

Now, I will answer her questions:

1. Moral skepticism affirms the resolution because if skepticism is true, then morality is subjective and relative, meaning that we cannot objectively call something moral or immoral. If we cannot call something objectivly immoral, then it could be considered permissible. This makes all options, including targeted killing permissible. So if skepticism were true, then the resolution is automatically affirmed.

2. The warrants for skepticism are coming out of Koons, Mackie, and Nietzsche 1 and 2.

3. To be able to win off of my case, you would have to sufficiently refute my framework and contention level arguments. Both my framework and contentions independently affirm skepticism.

4. This warrant is coming out of my obersvation 2, and you kind of asked the same thing for your first question. If morality is relative, then anything could be permissible, as it may or may not always be immoral.

So then let's go to responding to her case. Let's start with her value of pacifism.

She takes a popular view of pacifism that says that pacifism basically means non-violence. However, this is false. Pacifism doesn't mean the absolute prohibition on violence, but rather when it is best used in the interests of protecting the peace and the law. John Buckham[1] explains:

"Pacifism does not mean passivity. The term "non-resistance" is seldom found in its vocabulary. It is essentially active, positive, outreaching. It seeks to make peace rather than to preserve peace. Pacifism does not renounce physical force. It accepts it where such force is used in the interest of moral government for purposes of restraint and the enforcement of law. But this is a mere auxiliary and subordinate implement. Its main confidence is in a vastly superior form of force-loyalty to moral obligation. In dealing with nations, as with individuals, this is the only sufficient reliance. Pacifism calls for the full recognition and employment of the constructive, unifying power of moral law."

This means 2 things:

1. She's not fulfilling the inherent resolution burden of providing a moral prohibition with her case.

2. You can turn her framework, as even if she's winning sufficient offense off of her framework, you still affirm since we can still use violent force as long as it is in the interest of the law. And targeted killing is in the interests of the law as it helps end terrorist threats, thus preserving the law.

Let's go to her standard of utilitarianism first. Utilitarianism is flawed for the following reasons:

1. Utilitarianism bites into skepticism because the definition of what our results are, good or bad, is all relative. I could say that the result of punching a baby in the face meant that I received a piece of candy, which could be defined as a good outcome or that if I were to tackle my friend in order to save him from being hit by a car and break his ribs in the process, even though I possibly saved him, I injured him in possibly a worse way which could be seen as a negative outcome. This bites into skepticism because there’s no objective standard to measure good and bad by, as what we consider good and bad to be are entirely relative. So even if you buy her standard, you still prefer the affirmative framework, because if utilitarianism is true, then it devolves straight into skepticism.

2. Utilitarianism doesn’t make sense because we can never really be sure what an end is and what is just a link into a different impact. We can never know that if nuclear war were to happen, it would cause aliens to come and give us some amazing technology that betters humanity as a race. Moreover, it stops us from acting because we can never finish calculating the infinite possible things that make an end good, making it self-effacing because it doesn’t actually bring about good ends.

3. Under utilitarianism, we can never be sure that a proposition is 100% true. As long as someone promises that an action will bring about an end with a massive profit for all, society then has to take that route, even if they don’t believe it to be true. As long as someone promises a large enough impact, society then has to follow what he says, making utilitarianism self-effacing.

4. Conceptions of morality that are based off of desirability are circular. Derek Parfit[2] writes:

"According to desire-based theories, such reasons would have to be provided by facts about what would fulfill our present desires. If, after informed deliberation, we want future happiness as an end, this fact could give us instrumental reasons to have certain other desires, since it would give us reasons to want whatever would make us happy. But the fact that we had this desire could not be truly claimed to give us a reason to have it. Desires cannot be self-supporting. Our wanting happiness as an end could not give us a reason to want happiness as an end."

And utilitarianism bites into that as the concepts of utilitarianism supports itself. Our want for good mandates us to want good under utilitarianism, which is self-supporting and thus circular.

5. There's no link between utilitarianism and pacifism, but since this is her contention one, I will explain why there.
With that, let's go to her contention one.

Her contention one is all about how utilitarianism leads to pacifism, however, this is flawed for three reasons.

1. Being pacifistic does not always bring about good ends. If someone is about to stab me with a knife, and I have the ability to defend myself, not defending myself would be the non-utilitarian option, as it allows the murderer to murder and innocent person, whereas the innocent person had the ability to defend himself and prevent the killing, which would have been the option that maximized the most amount of good.

2. Acting under a utilitarian standard does not always lead to a pacifistic action. If a kid were being beaten up by a bully who abuses other kids as well, and I had the power to stop the abuse by beating up the bully, the beating of the bully would be outweighed by the gain in happiness by the multiple kids who no longer were being bullied by the bully, which would be a utilitarian good action, yet not a pacifistic good action. The above example in refutation one also shows this principle.

3. You can turn her example of Osama Bin Laden as a perfect example of how targeted killing meets a utilitarian standard. Without taking a single casualty, a team of Navy SEALS took down one of the most notorious terrorist leaders in the known world. After this, there have no longer been any attempted terror attacks commited by Al Quada, which is a good outcome compared to the death of a single person.

Utilitarianism not linking to pacifism has a significant impact on the round. If util doesn't lead to pacifism, it's absolutely impossible for her to achieve her value in this round. Thus, you would a) prefer my framework and b) auto-affirm.

So at this point, the vote is an easy vote for the affirmative.

1. She dropped the entirety of my case in her desire to ask me questions.
2. Pacficism doesn’t prohibit violence, thus still making targeted killing permissible.
3. Util doesn’t lead to pacifism, but rather skepticism. This means you a) auto-negate, as she can’t achieve her value, and b) prefer the aff framework
4. Util as a whole was refuted and de-bunked.

Citations for sources will be in the comments section, as I’m running out of room.



This is a screwed debate. Opponent win. I messed up in round two, so Zaradi wins. We'll debate this some other time when I'm not so busy and out of it.
Debate Round No. 3



Oh well. I'll be glad to do this again.
Debate Round No. 4
13 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Zaradi 6 years ago
Lol @ Chry's RFD
Posted by JusticeBringer125 6 years ago
Con completely conceded and forfeit without even attempting to come to any objectives or show how flawed Pro's Logic is.However hes right about Morality being an illusion
Posted by Zaradi 6 years ago
And it looks like she's gonna forfeit a round.
Posted by Zaradi 6 years ago

[1] - The Principles of Pacifism John Wright Buckham The Biblical World , Vol. 48, No. 2 (Aug., 1916), pp. 88-90 Published by: The University of Chicago Press Article Stable URL:
[2] - Parfit, Derek (Philosophy Professor, Oxford University). Climbing the Mountain (Unpublished).
Posted by Zaradi 6 years ago
Link works.

And fine, but it's at the cost of your 1NR. Gotta stick to the round structure.
Posted by WriterSelbe 6 years ago
As for the CX, there were some things I couldn't argue unless I questioned you about it. I didn't want to misinterpret your case so that we ended up debating entirely different things.
Posted by Zaradi 6 years ago
1. Link doesn't work. You probably have the share settings on private. Change it to link and we can all get it.

2. Dammit there wasn't supposed to be CX! Read the round structure! CX is near impossible to do on here, since there's no way for us to effectively banter back and forth in the debate as CX requires. 3 days of studying is supposed to sufficiently counteract the lack of CX.
Posted by Zaradi 6 years ago
Psh traditional. That's so boring :P progressive is where it's at.
Posted by TheDiabolicDebater 6 years ago
That's just so weird to me. At both the state and district tournaments I went to, I never saw anything other than a traditional LD case. So when I see you using skepticism, I just think to myself: "Oh Zaradi, you evil bastard..."
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Chrysippus 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: When in the course of human events it becomes necessary to concede a debate, the opponent shall receive the argument points.
Vote Placed by Travniki 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Concession