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Possible LD Topic: Is it morally permissible to kill one innocent person to save more innocent people?
Philosophy

thethinker
Aug 12, 2007
20 votes
15 debaters
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11
Yes, morally permissible


juggernaut
Aug 12, 2007
3 convinced
Rebuttal
Morality is an opinion. Value is an opinion. Whether you want them to live is up to you.

 
gogopoet
Aug 13, 2007
3 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: thethinker Show

But in the circumstances given, killing one to save several, not killing the one constitutes killing the others. Refusing to do what is necessary for the others to live does not relieve you of the responsibility for saving them. The real question of the debate is whether it is better to kill one person actively or kill several passively. The arbitrary rule demands that you do the wrong thing for the right reason. Situation ethics demands that one do the right thing for the most people.

 
cbart95
Aug 14, 2007
2 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: gogopoet Show

Not as immoral as failing to be loyal to your flag and country in time of war...or to commit treason by openly accusing your President of criminal conduct in his role as Commander-in-Chief of your own brave armed forces defending your right to free speech. Or to mimic the anti-US propaganda of our avowed and sworn enemies to promote discord and disunity among our citizens during wartime. Immoral? Hardly.

 
cbart95
Sep 09, 2007
2 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: juggernaut Show

Your little argument is the essence of what is termed "moral equivalency"...a self decieving quasi-rational bit of collossal dishonesty.

Look it up. Try it on for size. Somewhere in time you may be allowed to see clearly how personally bankrupt this deception is and how you are being utterly dishonest with yourself.

This realization may take years and might not happen at all...many never overcome this type of personal blindness.

 
cbart95
Sep 09, 2007
2 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: thethinker Show

This whole nonsense is hung on the fallacy of some kind of "greater good"
measured somehow by the sheer number of individuals enjoying some kind of positive result from one alternative over another.

Persons favoring this type of nonthought usualy fall into the Socialist /Marxist realm of self-deciet fondly referred to as "The Greater Fool" falacy.

Crooked measures used will inevitably result in crooked conclusions.

 
nipjara
Aug 21, 2008
2 convinced
Rebuttal
Define "Innocent."

I doubt that anyone can get to be an adult, and still be innocent in any meaningful sense of the word. While many of us might not have criminal records, given the comprehensive (and sometimes remarkably trivial) laws on the books, I can pretty much guarantee that it's more a matter of never having been caught, then actually never having transgressed. And the definition of a capital offense has changed drastically over the years.

Be that as it may, what we're really discussing is quite variable. But I can think of a simple situation in which I would say "yes."

It is morally permissible to kill a mentally ill person to prevent that person from killing someone else. The desire of prosecutors to obtain convictions through medication notwithstanding, it is commonly understood that mental disease or defect renders a person not culpable. So, were someone to be having a psychotic break and were attacking people with a deadly weapon, and my choice was to shoot or wait until they assaulted someone to subdue them, I would shoot, knowing that I risk killing them.

I know that this is a corner case (and hard cases make for bad law), but I once worked with a young man who suffered from psychosis, one that overlaid the people around him with hallucinations of gory skeletons, weilding knives dripping with blood. He was strong to begin with, and stronger when terrified - too strong for almost any one person on staff to control safely. His life is not worth any less than anyone else's. And his mental illness was not his fault - it had afflicted him since he was four. He was, as we think of the term, an innocent. But if it came down to killing him, or allowing him to kill others in a psychosis-induced terror, I would pull the trigger.

 
nipjara
Aug 21, 2008
2 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: ajmartinez Show

I'd consider killing a sane, innocent (whatever that's worth) person to save five complete strangers, really. And I understand that if I'm going to say that the best solution is the one that save the most lives, it's incumbent on me to live by that, even if it means sacrificing myself or someone close to me. Self-serving exceptions are what lead to hypocrisy.

I don't subcribe to a theory of morality that says the best solution results in my not having done anything "bad," regardless of the OVERALL consequences. I don't relish the idea of killing someone, but simply standing by and watching while a group of people dies is more distasteful to me than taking direct action to save them at the cost of another person's life. But I think that it's also important to remember that it takes a pretty dire set of circumstances to come to this point. Many times, there are less drastic ways to create a workable outcome than killing someone, and it's incumbent on each of us to work to find them.

 
blackkodiak
Aug 12, 2007
1 convinced
Rebuttal
Yup. Sign me up.

 
gogopoet
Aug 12, 2007
1 convinced
Rebuttal
Since I adhere to situation ethics, I have to say there are, or could be situations that make it morally proper to sacrifice the one for the good of the many. Classic examples from literature and theater are the overloaded boats and planes.

 
juggernaut
Aug 13, 2007
1 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: cbart95 Show

Congrats!

That's YOUR opinion. Not all will agree to it. Like I said.

 
gogopoet
Aug 13, 2007
1 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: thethinker Show

It is a tragedy, but anything that is a necessity is moral.

 
booyakasha
Aug 15, 2007
1 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: thethinker Show

It is absolutely permissable. Do you not think there are things worth dying for? I happen to believe there are numerous things worth dying for. You're not special dude. And here's the hard part: If it is NOT morally permissible to kill somebody in order to save more lives; is it morallly permissable to kill yourself in order to save more lives????

 
eatingfood
Aug 31, 2008
1 convinced
Rebuttal
Morality and Ethics are similar in nature correct? Albert Schweitzer said this; A man is ethical only when life, as such, is sacred to him, that of plants and animals as that of his fellow men, and when he devotes himself helpfully to all life that is in need of help.
I find that killing one innocent person is morally permissable under the circumstance that it is guarenteed to save more persons dwelling in innocence.
I am not saying that it is permissible to kill under any other circumstances, or am i saying that killing that one person should be praised as a good. I am stating that we must look at life as a whole, and who will be more affected by the deaths. I am not putting value on the individual life themselves, but i am adding the lives together. 2 lives are worth more than one.
Lastly let me ask you all this, would you not put yourself in front of the bullet to save your wife, girlfriend or child? Is that not morally permissible either?


 
eatingfood
Aug 31, 2008
1 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: ajmartinez Show

yes there would be other options in that specific senario, but look at the idea behind it. If you had to would you kill yourself, the family of four, or the hitchhiker? Its a difficult decision, and none of the options are of good outcome, but which of them is of better outcome? Killing four, or killing one?

 
gogopoet
Aug 13, 2007
0 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: cbart95 Show

Then you would agree it is immoral to send young men off to die defending your country?

 
juggernaut
Sep 08, 2007
0 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: cbart95 Show

Everybody has moral values. Just not yours.

 
countrygirl
Jun 28, 2008
0 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: mrpayne88 Show

Okay, well look at it this way.
You are driving along and you are on a two lane road (each lane going a different direction)
A hitch hiker is on the side of the road heading towards you and a car is in the other lane with two aprents and two children.
everything is fine until a semi decides to pass the car and comes into your lane, you have to make the decision to hit the hitch hiker (killing one person) , hitting the car (killing four innocent people), or killing yourself by running into the semi.
so, kill yourself or the hitchhiker (in other words killing one innocent person) in order to save the family of four, or kill the family of four?
answer me that!

 
evilh
Jul 03, 2008
0 convinced
Rebuttal
It is not only possible for killing one person to save multitudes of other to be morally permissible, depending upon the basis of your morally, it is conceivable that it would be a moral imparative.

 
+ Add Argument

9
No, not morally permissible


thethinker
Aug 12, 2007
7 convinced
Rebuttal
It may result in the greater good and people might have to resort to the action, but it is not morally permissible to kill an innocent person nevertheless. Moral is not math.

 
thewhitedwarf
Aug 12, 2007
3 convinced
Rebuttal
no, because human worth is absolute.

 
cbart95
Aug 12, 2007
3 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: juggernaut Show

Never permissable. Ever. Only meatheads with no moral values and zero human decency would think otherwise...like our enemies, the terrorists and their nation-state sponsors.

 
mrpayne88
Aug 13, 2007
2 convinced
Rebuttal
No it is not Morally Permissible. Although you will save more people you still need to take a life and noone should have the right to make the decision.

I don't think anyone has the right to kill an innocent person regardless of the impending outcome.

In Addition, By you killing an innocent person to save more innocent people it still leaves you at risk of Legal issues such as Jail.



 
thethinker
Aug 13, 2007
2 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: gogopoet Show

Moral is not about necessity. Moral is about right and wrong, good and evil, and giving each their due. Killing an innocent person is none of those, and regardless of the consequences, it is morally impermissible.

 
thethinker
Aug 13, 2007
1 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: gogopoet Show

On those boats, the people killed are still a moral tragedy, assuming that they are innocent people. Two wrongs doesn't make a right here.

 
thewhitedwarf
Aug 13, 2007
1 convinced
Rebuttal
Premise 1:metaphysics, which morality (justice, teological goals) is under, exists independently of human experience. that is why we strive for what we call "just" even though we haven't seen it.

Premise 2: at that point, justice is not grounded in human action but exists independently of human experience. ergo, human action does not change justice.

Conclusion: thus, we act a certain way, regardless of the circumstances.

 
thewhitedwarf
Aug 13, 2007
1 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: gogopoet Show

what you reference is utilitarianism. the idea of the greatest good for the greatest amount of people. utility is based on happiness, ie, whoever increaes the net benefit towards peoples' well being.

I argue that the principle of utility incommensurable
Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory, 2nd Ed. (Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 1984) [The 1st Edition was published in 1981.] pp. 63-4:

(setting up context of incommensurability:)

"[T]he notion of human happiness is not a unitary, simple notion and cannot provide us with a criterion for making our key choices. If someone suggests to us, in the spirit of Bentham and Mill, that we should guide our own choices by the prospects of our own future pleasure or happiness, the appropriate retort is to enquire: ‘But which pleasure,
which happiness ought to guide me?’ For there are too many kinds of enjoyable activities, too many different modes in which happiness is achieved. The pleasure of drinking is not the pleasure of swimming at the beach and the swimming and drinking are merely only two modes for achieving the same end state. For different pleasures and different happinesses are to a large degree incommensurable: there are no scales of quality or quantity on which to weigh them. Consequently appeal to the criteria of
pleasure will not tell me whether to drink or swim and appeal to those of happiness cannot decide for me between the life of a monk and that of a soldier."

He continues on to the argument

"To have understood the polymorphous character of pleasure and happiness is of course to have rendered those concepts useless for utilitarian purposes; if the prospect of
his or her own future pleasure or happiness cannot for the reasons which I have suggested provide criteria for solving the problems of action in the case of each individual, it follows that the notion of the greatest happiness of the greatest
number is a notion without any clear content at all."

Thus, appeals to utility or greatest benefit are inquatifiable. Even set numbers of people does not prove that the worth of said persons is equivalent or that justifies the sake of another.



 
thethinker
Aug 13, 2007
1 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: gogopoet Show

Again, moral is not necessity based. It is about giving each people its due. Of course, saving more may be our duty. It may be necessary. But that does not mean it is morally permissible.

 
ajmartinez
Aug 19, 2008
1 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: countrygirl Show

This example wouldn't stand in a debate round. A trucker wouldn't pass a car in a two-way road, especially if he knew that another car was coming in the opposite direction. In your example, you mentioned killing yourself. But if you died, the trucker would get sued, because he was in the wrong. Besides, there is always the option of pulling slowly into the shoulder. The hitchhiker should be smart enough to stop coming towards you. So, there are ways to get out of this situation with no one dying.

 
thethinker
Aug 15, 2007
0 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: booyakasha Show

It's good doesn't mean it's morally permissible.

 
ajmartinez
Aug 21, 2008
0 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: nipjara Show

I'm not sure which side this goes on, but it's relevant, and it really gets you thinking.

According to today's society, it is also morally permissible to kill in a war. Actually that's more of a mass murder.) Capital Punishment is another example where people justify killing to "save more lives."

But the person you kill doesn't have to be mad. They can be sane, and (strictly-speaking) innocent. Would you be willing to kill them in order to save, let's say, five others? Let's change the scenario just a little bit, would you kill a sane, innocent person to save five members of your family? or even close friends?
The thing about this resolution is that it's so non-specific that almost any example can be used, and can drastically change your POV.

 
skitskit16
Sep 19, 2008
0 convinced
Rebuttal
even if you are saving more people you are still devaluing someone elses life to save the lives of many. but if you can sacrafice someone then you can sacrafice yourself. because it is murder when you take someones life without them agreeing to it. and that isn't moral at all. if u don't want someone deciding for you don't decide for others. but if they volunteer atleast its their choice. but everyone's life has equal value.no one person is more or less valuable than another human being.

 
kavs21
Mar 13, 2009
0 convinced
Rebuttal
One can never be 100% sure that many more innocent lives will be lost. Perhaps the one person you are aiming to kill may admit that he/she is going to kill a 100-odd innocent people, but everyone has the right to change their minds. One may have the means to kill others but one needn't necessarily use those means. And it depends on the nature of the person you are going to kill for the greater good - once again, not a 100% chance that the people you might be trying to save WILL get killed.

Also, under no circumstances does taking a human life justify itself. It may seem justified at the time - after all, you saved so many other people - but none of us has the right to decide when to end another HUMAN BEING'S life. And even would-be-criminals are human beings. Whether you are the judge in a court of law, whether you work for the govt, whether you ARE the govt, killing is not justified. It is morally wrong. It is like calling yourself god or something similar. Taking a human life gives one a feeling of godlike power, something that coul make sadists of the best of us. And where would our society be then?

 


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