Debate Info

For Against
Debate Score:20
Total Votes:20
More Stats

Argument Ratio

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 For (9)
 Against (10)

Debate Creator

flewk(1192) pic

Torture: For or Against

What is considered torture (personally/socially/objectively/etc.)?


Is it justified under certain/all conditions?


How effective is it? Does effectiveness scale with "intensity"?




Side Score: 9


Side Score: 11
1 point

Our great moral leader thinks that his definition of torture is shared by all who love America. Problem is that the answer is very subjective. Look at Senator John McCain. Clearly a hawk, but having been really tortured, he wants no part of it. Exactly what is and is not torture rests somewhere between tickling and skinning alive. Within this gray area is also the urgency to save innocent lives -vs- what we would normally do. Our enemies need to know we will bend our rules (the ones they don't follow anyway) to defeat cowardly fanatics if we have no other choice to save innocent lives and this does NOT mean we abandon or principles of decency. Terrorism has no rules, no bounds and no limits in its natural form. If we hold back too much, more innocents will be beheaded, crucified and burned alive because we won't recognize irredeemable evil.

It's a poor set of choices, but I believe we have called it as well as we can.

Side: For
flewk(1192) Clarified
1 point

Another problem is that some of the types of torture between tickling and skinning alive have been shown to be completely ineffective in the war on terror. Refer to the Senate Intelligence Senate Committee report.

Side: For
1 point

"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, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in, or incidental to, lawful sanctions"

One may notice that this international definition of torture is not only vague, but somewhat self-contradictory. The definitional fuzziness was by design as a specific definition would be subject to those who can breach the spirit of the law by loopholing the letter of the law.

Since war necessarily entails great suffering and (ideally) has a defined objective, one would expect that inflicting suffering to achieve the defined objective, thus bringing a sooner end to the suffering inherent to war, would be justified.

I don't believe this means a government should officially sanction torture. Like other ideals that bend during the strife of war, torture should ideally be abolished. It would then be a matter of whether to forgive specific cases of it rather than a matter of daily course.

Generally torture has been found to be ineffective as it provides false positives for intelligence. But people have gotten a lot better at it, so this may have changed. Also, the definition of torture has broadened, so effective methods which may not have previously been considered torture, may be now. Solitary confinement, which is perfectly acceptable in American prisons as punishment, becomes torture on the battlefield if the purpose is extracting information. While this enhanced interrogation method may work well to break the will of the subject, pulling fingernails is still likely to elicit whatever the subject believes will stop the pain.

Side: For
flewk(1192) Clarified
1 point

Well... the Senate Intelligence Committee Study on CIA Detention and Interrogation Program report indicated that "enhanced interrogation" has been completely ineffective in gathering credible and actionable intelligence.

Side: For
daver(1771) Clarified
1 point


There exists strong rebuttal to the conclusions put forth in the summary version of the report.

Of the nine SSCI members voting to approve the report seven were democrats. Every Republican on the SSCI, save one, voted against approval of the final version that was released. Not so bi-partisan after all.

Side: For
2 points

I don't understand these sides? Anywho, I'm tortured every time I hear Barry talk so......

Side: Against
flewk(1192) Clarified
1 point

Changed it a bit. How about now?

Side: For