Is it right to kill?

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dedalus
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Is it right to kill?

Postby dedalus » Sat Jun 20, 2009 12:52 pm UTC

Ok, this thread was done before, and it was shut down due to it being about personal experience. I think it's an important idea, so if I repost it, hopefully the mods don't get too mad at me. To be specific:

EDIT :: New debate question:
Is it right for any person to take another persons life on purpose?

Oh and just to throw the point in here guys, a lot of the debate on the matter here is going to be opinion (though hopefully justified opinion), not fact, so take care in what you are and aren't claiming to be universally true.
Last edited by dedalus on Sun Jun 21, 2009 2:52 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Is it right to kill?

Postby Gunfingers » Sat Jun 20, 2009 2:24 pm UTC

Well, let's go through the list of motivations/circumstances of pre-meditated killings and see which ones are cool.

Plain ol' murder - Describes everything from mob justice to gang wars to knifing people on the street. not cool
Vigilanteism - Killing someone for some wrong they committed against you and yours in lieu of legal action. A compelling motive, but still not cool
State sponsored execution - A source of much debate, in both its humanity and its efficacy. In my personal opinion, so long as it is done with due process this one is cool
Legal Military Action - The deliberate targeting of a valid military target with the intent of taking that military target's life. i.e. bombing a terrorist cave. For this purpose i'll ignore potential collateral damage and just refer to the killing of the intended target, which i'd say is cool
Unlawful Military Action - Deliberate targeting of civilian structures not used for military purposes, such as schools, hospitals, and particularly tall New York office buildings. not cool

Did i miss anything?

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Re: Is it right to kill?

Postby dedalus » Sat Jun 20, 2009 2:36 pm UTC

I guess I'd be specifically saying what you describe as vigilanteeism here, but also include the option of killing as a pre-emptive measure (As soon as you mention military it becomes a whole new kettle of fish, responsibility of the individual v orders etc etc). Kind of along the lines of 'he's done it before and he's going to do it again and the law wont stop him and he doesn't deserve to live'. I'll leave the 'it' up to other people to describe, but there's plenty of terrible things that have happened in the world that if the perpetrators were out and people knew they would just recommit, is it better to take the preventative measure?
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Re: Is it right to kill?

Postby Shpow » Sat Jun 20, 2009 2:37 pm UTC

I think it can only be justified by self-defense or mental insanity. I don't agree with pre-meditated murder, especially if it's for vengeance.
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Re: Is it right to kill?

Postby The Cat » Sat Jun 20, 2009 4:02 pm UTC

I'll leave the 'it' up to other people to describe, but there's plenty of terrible things that have happened in the world that if the perpetrators were out and people knew they would just recommit, is it better to take the preventative measure?


This is for a court to decide. The reason we have laws is to prevent corrupt tyrants from killing off their enemies in hopes of gaining more power and control. With enough resources, its not hard to have someone painted as a criminal. Politics is a nasty business. So the issue I have is with your assumption of guilt. Why can't the criminal be convicted? Lack of evidence, no motive.......I don't believe what some talking head tell me on the news.

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Re: Is it right to kill?

Postby The Cat » Sat Jun 20, 2009 4:04 pm UTC

The Holocaust was a "Preventative measure".

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Re: Is it right to kill?

Postby Clumpy » Sat Jun 20, 2009 5:51 pm UTC

I think it's important for people in a self-defense situation to avoid using excessive force in protecting themselves, however if it becomes necessary to err on one side or another, lean toward making sure this person can't hurt you and others. I believe that criminals forfeit some portion of their rights by infringing upon the rights of others, however people who argue that it's okay to shoot an unarmed intruder to kill are despicable. A lot of people have long pent-up rage, and channel this into relishing the thought of killing an intruder or criminal with extreme prejudice.

But, I mean, Batman should have killed The Joker when he had the chance, right? Not defending yourself to some extent until the bad guy's actually aiming a gun at you might be noble but it's impractical and not even more moral than preventing the things this individual will do by incapacitating them any way you can.

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Re: Is it right to kill?

Postby Vaniver » Sat Jun 20, 2009 6:09 pm UTC

Yes.
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Re: Is it right to kill?

Postby Von Haus » Sat Jun 20, 2009 7:31 pm UTC

My first thought was. "Sometimes".

I definately don't think killing is always wrong. If I knew someone was going to attempt to kill hundreds of innocents, I wouldn't think of it as if I had the right to kill him, but if I had the right to let him live.
It would be irresponsible to live your life by an absolute law of never killing what ever the cost and to me shows less respect for life than if you did kill someone.
The Cat wrote:The Holocaust was a "Preventative measure".

The Holocaust was called a "Preventative measure", there is a slight but fundamental difference. Killing those who are a threat to you being justified against claiming people are a threat to you to justify killing them.
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Re: Is it right to kill?

Postby The Cat » Sat Jun 20, 2009 9:28 pm UTC

The Holocaust was called a "Preventative measure", there is a slight but fundamental difference. Killing those who are a threat to you being justified against claiming people are a threat to you to justify killing them.


I'm sorry, I intended for the quotes to imply "called"... Supported by previous statement.......You are correct, it was considered......

Killing those who are a threat to you being justified against claiming people are a threat to you to justify killing them.



Who makes that decision between accusation and threat? How is the process controlled?

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Re: Is it right to kill?

Postby penguin_number_2 » Sun Jun 21, 2009 1:15 am UTC

Right and wrong are pretty subjective. If I was to stone my sister to death because she hooked up with her boyfriend (premarital sex) it would be "cool" to some people of Islamic faith, but most people would not agree with it. Taking the religious angle out of it, it is probably justifiable (maybe not legally speaking) in some cases, but I would have to say it is never "cool". I would agree it is necessary in some cases, but they are exceedingly rare. The price of the action also has to be taken into consideration. Just about every one has family, friends or such that you may end up answering to for the deed to, not to mention legal ramifications. This is kind of a broad question to ask, as it has no straight answer.

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Re: Is it right to kill?

Postby dedalus » Sun Jun 21, 2009 2:49 pm UTC

The Cat, invoking Godwin's Law is definitely not cool. You did kind of make a point, but yeah.

To invite more discussion I'll tentatively make the thread a bit less specific in its description, bit afraid of invoking modly wrath because 'death penalty' has been covered before. But anyway, the new question:

Is it ever exonerable for a person to take another persons life on purpose?

Will edit OP.
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Re: Is it right to kill?

Postby The Cat » Sun Jun 21, 2009 7:30 pm UTC

The Cat, invoking Godwin's Law is definitely not cool. You did kind of make a point, but yeah.


Sorry, I thought it was a good example. Perhaps for this discussion, I could have used something else (It was rather extreme). I guess the main point I'm trying to make is that many people are corrupt and they do some bat shit crazy evil shit to accomplish their goals. After seeing how some people operate first hand, I'm reluctant to judge anyone. Maybe a better example would have been the number of people released from prison after DNA evidence came into play. So, I don't think Vigilante justice is ever justified.

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Re: Is it right to kill?

Postby Lord Aurora » Sun Jun 21, 2009 8:13 pm UTC

dedalus wrote:Is it ever exonerable for a person to take another persons life on purpose?
Yes. What comes to mind almost immediately is taking out a suicide bomber who is about to blow himself up in a crowded cafe. Finger on the button, sprinting into a coffee shop full of completely innocent people, if you have the shot you take it.
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Re: Is it right to kill?

Postby doogly » Sun Jun 21, 2009 9:50 pm UTC

No, under no circumstances is it right to kill. It is at times, however, right and acceptable to die.
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Re: Is it right to kill?

Postby The Cat » Sun Jun 21, 2009 11:33 pm UTC

No, under no circumstances is it right to kill. It is at times, however, right and acceptable to die.


I consider manipulating people to take their own life as murder and it should be punished accordingly. I see people who engage in this as the nastiest of all.

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Re: Is it right to kill?

Postby doogly » Sun Jun 21, 2009 11:59 pm UTC

Oh, I wasn't trying to suggest inducing suicide as a work-around for murder.
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Re: Is it right to kill?

Postby The Cat » Mon Jun 22, 2009 12:06 am UTC

I'm sorry, I misunderstood.

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Re: Is it right to kill?

Postby SummerGlauFan » Mon Jun 22, 2009 3:09 am UTC

Lord Aurora wrote:
dedalus wrote:Is it ever exonerable for a person to take another persons life on purpose?
Yes. What comes to mind almost immediately is taking out a suicide bomber who is about to blow himself up in a crowded cafe. Finger on the button, sprinting into a coffee shop full of completely innocent people, if you have the shot you take it.


Pretty much. Although I don't think you should necessarily kill in self-defense (or even the defense of others, which is even more important), you should do what you have to do in those situations. If that means you have to fire several shots in rapid-fire at an attacker, potentially killing him/her, rather than trying to get in a non-lethal shot, so be it.

An analogy someone brought up in another thread, if there is a kid with a knife, and he is swiping it at you, even the most pacifistic person is not going to just chuckle and walk calmly away. If I had a gun in that situation, and especially if that kid is threatening someone I care about, you can bet that kid is probably going to die.

Now, if that kid is just punching and kicking, or throwing rocks, etc, yeah, killing him would be just plain wrong.
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Re: Is it right to kill?

Postby GoodRudeFun » Mon Jun 22, 2009 3:32 am UTC

SummerGlauFan wrote:
Lord Aurora wrote:
dedalus wrote:Is it ever exonerable for a person to take another persons life on purpose?
Yes. What comes to mind almost immediately is taking out a suicide bomber who is about to blow himself up in a crowded cafe. Finger on the button, sprinting into a coffee shop full of completely innocent people, if you have the shot you take it.


Pretty much. Although I don't think you should necessarily kill in self-defense (or even the defense of others, which is even more important), you should do what you have to do in those situations. If that means you have to fire several shots in rapid-fire at an attacker, potentially killing him/her, rather than trying to get in a non-lethal shot, so be it.

An analogy someone brought up in another thread, if there is a kid with a knife, and he is swiping it at you, even the most pacifistic person is not going to just chuckle and walk calmly away. If I had a gun in that situation, and especially if that kid is threatening someone I care about, you can bet that kid is probably going to die.

Now, if that kid is just punching and kicking, or throwing rocks, etc, yeah, killing him would be just plain wrong.

What if you are able to disable the kid without killing him? Say you were trained in some form of self defense that gave you the ability to disarm him in a hand to hand style? If you had a gun on your person, would it still be right to shoot the kid, or would it be wrong because the lethal force of a gun was not necessary?

Personally, I am no where near skilled enough to do anything of the sort by anything other than sheer luck. If I was though, I'd have to make a quick judgment call and decide whether disabling him would stop him before he hurt someone or if there was no time and shooting him was the only option.

This is how I think it generally works for all cases- its a case by case basis kinda thing. An individual has to decide if lethal force is necessary, and if they are willing to accept any and all consequences for killing someone. I think every individual should understand the weight of such a choice as well, killing people isn't really as easy as it looks in the movies, and if you make the wrong choice your own conscious can cripple you with guilt. This is why cops are given breaks or sent to therapy after firing a killing shot, even if its purely a situation of self defense and there was no other option. I can't imagine its something you can just walk away from.
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Re: Is it right to kill?

Postby TheSkyMovesSideways » Mon Jun 22, 2009 4:21 am UTC

doogly wrote:No, under no circumstances is it right to kill. It is at times, however, right and acceptable to die.

"Those who abjure violence can only do so because others are committing violence on their behalf."
- George Orwell

"Under no circumstances" is a pretty strong statement. I'm curious as to how you believe a police officer/constable should perform their duties in protecting their society from, say, an armed and violent person without using lethal force. To be realistic, let's assume that tazers may not be available, and if they are there's still a chance of them causing death, that time is a factor, that a gun cannot reliably be used in a non lethal capacity and that they possess no resources that are not already in place worldwide.

I was considering mentioning a scenario involving ectopic pregnancy, but I'm sure that's been discussed to death (forgive the pun!) already.

GoodRudeFun wrote:What if you are able to disable the kid without killing him? Say you were trained in some form of self defense that gave you the ability to disarm him in a hand to hand style?

I think it would be best to keep the discussion based in reality, where no unarmed person can reliably disarm a knife-wielding attacker.

If someone attacks you with a knife, I think there are only three realistic outcomes:
1. You are able to outrun them.
2. You possess a weapon with a longer range than their knife, and are able to disable them before they stab you.
3. They stab you, and you most likely die.
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Re: Is it right to kill?

Postby doogly » Mon Jun 22, 2009 5:01 am UTC

TheSkyMovesSideways wrote:
doogly wrote:No, under no circumstances is it right to kill. It is at times, however, right and acceptable to die.

"Those who abjure violence can only do so because others are committing violence on their behalf."
- George Orwell

"Under no circumstances" is a pretty strong statement. I'm curious as to how you believe a police officer/constable should perform their duties in protecting their society from, say, an armed and violent person without using lethal force. To be realistic, let's assume that tazers may not be available, and if they are there's still a chance of them causing death, that time is a factor, that a gun cannot reliably be used in a non lethal capacity and that they possess no resources that are not already in place worldwide.

I was considering mentioning a scenario involving ectopic pregnancy, but I'm sure that's been discussed to death (forgive the pun!) already.


If they claim to do this on my behalf, I'd like to politely request that they stop.
And I believe they shouldn't! I'm not a fan of tasers either. My sincere position is one of radical pacifism.
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Re: Is it right to kill?

Postby BlackSails » Mon Jun 22, 2009 5:08 am UTC

GoodRudeFun wrote:What if you are able to disable the kid without killing him? Say you were trained in some form of self defense that gave you the ability to disarm him in a hand to hand style?


There is no way to disarm someone without great risk to yourself. Trained or not, it is putting your life on the line.

If someone attacks you with a knife, I think there are only three realistic outcomes:
1. You are able to outrun them.
2. You possess a weapon with a longer range than their knife, and are able to disable them before they stab you.
3. They stab you, and you most likely die.


2 is really actually quite difficult. The range at which it is possible for a (trained) gunsman to draw, unsafe and fire his gun before he is stabbed repeatedly is over 20 feet. Most muggings and attacks happen at a bit closer range.

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Re: Is it right to kill?

Postby Lord Aurora » Mon Jun 22, 2009 5:15 am UTC

doogly wrote:
TheSkyMovesSideways wrote:
doogly wrote:No, under no circumstances is it right to kill. It is at times, however, right and acceptable to die.

"Those who abjure violence can only do so because others are committing violence on their behalf."
- George Orwell

"Under no circumstances" is a pretty strong statement. I'm curious as to how you believe a police officer/constable should perform their duties in protecting their society from, say, an armed and violent person without using lethal force. To be realistic, let's assume that tazers may not be available, and if they are there's still a chance of them causing death, that time is a factor, that a gun cannot reliably be used in a non lethal capacity and that they possess no resources that are not already in place worldwide.

I was considering mentioning a scenario involving ectopic pregnancy, but I'm sure that's been discussed to death (forgive the pun!) already.
If they claim to do this on my behalf, I'd like to politely request that they stop.
And I believe they shouldn't! I'm not a fan of tasers either. My sincere position is one of radical pacifism.
I do not mean this as a personal attack on you, but the large problem I see with radical pacifism (and the reason it is not the position I hold) is that there will ALWAYS be people who will hurt and kill other people, and they will not stop hurting you just because you're not hurting them. Your death, however noble, will make no difference to these people---in fact, it might strengthen their belief in their own cause.
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Re: Is it right to kill?

Postby SummerGlauFan » Mon Jun 22, 2009 5:46 am UTC

GoodRudeFun wrote:
SummerGlauFan wrote:
Lord Aurora wrote:
dedalus wrote:Is it ever exonerable for a person to take another persons life on purpose?
Yes. What comes to mind almost immediately is taking out a suicide bomber who is about to blow himself up in a crowded cafe. Finger on the button, sprinting into a coffee shop full of completely innocent people, if you have the shot you take it.


Pretty much. Although I don't think you should necessarily kill in self-defense (or even the defense of others, which is even more important), you should do what you have to do in those situations. If that means you have to fire several shots in rapid-fire at an attacker, potentially killing him/her, rather than trying to get in a non-lethal shot, so be it.

An analogy someone brought up in another thread, if there is a kid with a knife, and he is swiping it at you, even the most pacifistic person is not going to just chuckle and walk calmly away. If I had a gun in that situation, and especially if that kid is threatening someone I care about, you can bet that kid is probably going to die.

Now, if that kid is just punching and kicking, or throwing rocks, etc, yeah, killing him would be just plain wrong.

What if you are able to disable the kid without killing him? Say you were trained in some form of self defense that gave you the ability to disarm him in a hand to hand style? If you had a gun on your person, would it still be right to shoot the kid, or would it be wrong because the lethal force of a gun was not necessary?

Personally, I am no where near skilled enough to do anything of the sort by anything other than sheer luck. If I was though, I'd have to make a quick judgment call and decide whether disabling him would stop him before he hurt someone or if there was no time and shooting him was the only option.


I know both Karate and Eskrima. I also know that I, who has been trained, stand little chance of disarming even an unskilled attacker without a fairly large risk to myself. Add in the threat to other people, then yes, I would still take whatever measures necessary to ensure their safety.


GoodRudeFun wrote:This is how I think it generally works for all cases- its a case by case basis kinda thing. An individual has to decide if lethal force is necessary, and if they are willing to accept any and all consequences for killing someone. I think every individual should understand the weight of such a choice as well, killing people isn't really as easy as it looks in the movies, and if you make the wrong choice your own conscious can cripple you with guilt. This is why cops are given breaks or sent to therapy after firing a killing shot, even if its purely a situation of self defense and there was no other option. I can't imagine its something you can just walk away from.


I agree it's different on a case-by-case basis. Hence my example of, say, someone just throwing rocks probably doesn't justify killing them.
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Re: Is it right to kill?

Postby Tonyplusplus » Mon Jun 22, 2009 6:46 am UTC

doogly wrote:No, under no circumstances is it right to kill. It is at times, however, right and acceptable to die.


I honestly think that, in some circumstances, this is essentially homicide. In the case of the suicide bomber running into a crowd of innocent people, you have the option of killing someone who is, in essence, already dead, or letting innocent people die. In this situation you have a choice, the people either live or die. I think it would be difficult for me to morally justify not killing the bomber.

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Re: Is it right to kill?

Postby Gaeel » Mon Jun 22, 2009 8:31 am UTC

I think pretty much everyone agrees that killing for personal reasons is wrong, and that non-justifiable cases are wrong too.

Some people think that the death penalty is justifiable.

I have this little test I like to run mentally when thinking about a law or a rule or anything political or social : "How can a totalitarian dictatorship exploit it?".

With the death penalty, the dangers in this case are way too high. If you're in a society with no death penalty, and suddenly the state executes a "traitor to the cause", it going to cause a bit of uproar or at least a little healthy skepticism. However, in a society where rapists and murderers are executed, and then it goes on to fondlers and muggers, and eventually a "traitor to the cause" gets executed, where do you draw the line between punishment for a heinous crime and repression?

(Note that this kind of reasoning goes for other stuff too, like censorship for example, in a country where you can make a film about anything (give or take a PG or 18+ rating which isn't really censorship but innocence protection) and post whatever you want on your blog, the state is going to have a little more trouble trying to use propaganda when Godwin has his way.)

About war, and killing in the midst of the action, it become a little more edgy.
If a group of criminals take hostages (for example) it might become necessary to use deadly force to save innocent people's lives. Or to break up a gunfight, the only way might be to shoot at the offenders. Again, giving authorisation to the police to shoot and kill can be exploited by a totalitarian dictatorship, and can also get out of hand (as an example of which there are many : 90's police brutality in France http://archiv.jura.uni-saarland.de/france/Law-France/aie.html )
But to remove the police's ability to use force against criminals puts the public at risk, so it is a necessary evil. But each and every case of death or injury related to police activity ought to be logged (preferrably by a third party, exterior to the country) so that racist or political repression can be easily detected.

I believe the same for military violence. Even if the number of people who die in a war can be high, the armies of the world should compile and publish a report on what happened and why. If the army is not able to explain why, or the same thing happens a lot, then we might have a problem on our hands. Or at least, the army needs to take a look at their methods, because war isn't about killing the other side, it's about getting the other side to give up something or accept something (whether that something is justifiable or not is another debate).

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Re: Is it right to kill?

Postby Burn0ut07 » Tue Jun 23, 2009 9:49 am UTC

It is only especially rare cases where I would ever condone murder. As someone already pointed out, the example of a suicide bomber, where he will most likely die either way I would believe it better to save innocent lives than to try to be moral and civil about the situation. Though of course this isn't something that happens to most of us again going to the fact that there are few circumstances I would agree with killing another human being. In most circumstances I think there should at least be an effort made to bring the criminal to justice rather than kill outright. However, I do not mean to imply capital punishment is something I condone, personally life without parole sounds better to me, but clearly I think the big issue with that is having the funds to maintain all the criminals.

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Re: Is it right to kill?

Postby yelly » Wed Jun 24, 2009 1:24 pm UTC

I would like to stress several points regarding this issue:
1. The question of "is killing OK?" can easily become a question utilitarianism vs. classic moral ethics, so before anyone even begins to approach this question, one should ask himself "is killing inherently bad, or is it a matter of maths?". In other words, is it OK to kill 1 to save 10? Does this change according to the nature of the lives being saved/terminated (old/young, law abiding/criminal, me/someone else)?
2. The question of killing can be linked to the question of the consequence of death. That is, most will agree that imprisonment or injuring are OK at large (of course, depending on the situation), but death is a completely different issue. Why is this? Is it because of the irreversibility of it? Not to start a religious discussion here, but if there is an afterlife (or anything else of that nature), killing becomes much less bad, and in some cases a real alternative to whatever else is being offered (in the example of capital punishment, if I was faced with the choice between years in prison or singing with angels, I know what I would go for).
3. How subjective is this question, really? It is all good to say "stoning women that commit premarital sex is OK in some places", but you know it isn't. Is there really something about death that transcends culture and subjectiveness? In my opinion, yes.
4. Does this question (or its answer, at least) differ if one of the people involved is you? Is there a difference between "there are 2 people, because <insert reason here> if one doesn't kill the other he will die" and "there are you and another, because <insert reason here> if you don't kill the other, you will die".
5. Does killing for a cause make any sense? If not, why? If so, what makes a cause worthy of killing for?
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Postby Apathy » Wed Jun 24, 2009 5:42 pm UTC

Looking at the big picture right or wrong doesn't really matter. In different times different humans thought differently about this. Thats how it's been before and thats how it will be in the future. What happens happens and what someone thinks about it doesn't matter... :wink: Someone might get killed just for being on the wrong place at the right time or the right place depending on how you see it but thats basically the end of that. :roll:

thicknavyrain
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Re: Is it right to kill?

Postby thicknavyrain » Wed Jun 24, 2009 6:20 pm UTC

The thing is, for a long time I thought that so long as the action of killing saved more lives than the number it took away it would be ok, if the people being saved were noticably moral people and the people being killed weren't. But then I thought abotu quality of life and how much each group contributes to society and other's happiness and there potential for saving OTHERS lives (kill 1 doctor or 3 bus-boys? The doctor might save more than 3 lives in his work if he is kept alive). That pretty much ruined my line of thought, but my first rule usually seems to be the way to go. In most other circumsances, I think killing is wrong (Never an acceptable punishment for any crime etc)
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yelly
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Re:

Postby yelly » Wed Jun 24, 2009 7:50 pm UTC

Apathy wrote:Looking at the big picture right or wrong doesn't really matter. In different times different humans thought differently about this. Thats how it's been before and thats how it will be in the future. What happens happens and what someone thinks about it doesn't matter... :wink: Someone might get killed just for being on the wrong place at the right time or the right place depending on how you see it but thats basically the end of that. :roll:

I am sorry, but that is never an acceptable answer to a moral question. Of course it does matter, because it could be you or I holding the gun, and what we do matters. Killing people is, no doubt, serious business. Claiming that in the long run, or in the big picture, non of this really makes a difference, then there is no place for any ethical discourse whatsoever, and you would be really hard pressed to justify anything you do, or to find a reason to be here.
THAT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE TO ME

Nor is shouting, or referencing 24 in SB.

-Az
...
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henryx
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Re: Is it right to kill?

Postby henryx » Wed Jun 24, 2009 9:04 pm UTC

dedalus wrote:EDIT :: New debate question:
Is it right for any person to take another persons life on purpose?



What is usually missed in this type of debate is the second and third order consequences of the acts being discussed.

Let's say you know that some politician is so bad he's going to cause the death of lots of people through bad policies. The ethical thing would be to kill him to stop all the people dying, right? But lots of people "feel" it is not right. And the reason they feel that way is because of our genes and memes molded by natural selection have an aversion to causing things that weaken the assumptions that make our living possible.
If you kill the "evil politician" you save lots of people. But at the same time create a precedent that might be used by others to kill whoever they don't like. You might also weaken the personal security and goodwill of other citizens which might feel like they might be killed at any time because no one is safe. Also, you polarize people, and you strengthen differences between political parties and people in general. In the end you might have done more good than evil. Finally, you weaken your own morals, you break barriers that you might be inclined to more easily break in the future.
Is that always the case? Of course no. If someone is about to detonate an atomic bomb in the middle of Tokyo you might consider that the potential damage done by killing that person before the button is pressed to be a minor evil compared with twenty million deaths. You might consider that killing Hitler at the beginnign of the war could be safely assumed to be the best for humanity, even considering the collateral harm produced by killing someone that hadn't done too much evil at the time.
But in general, if you consider all the impacts (on the society and on yourself) of such an act, in the vast majority of cases where "killing one would save many" is not a good alternative.
You can apply this same line of reasonong to other similar situations: is it OK to invade a country that's threatening your country? At first glance, if you were sure that the country was seriously planning producing your country serious damage, a pre-emptive attack might look like a good idea, but in the end it is your own security that is hurt because of the weakened general order and respect for international policies and the increased aversion to your countries policies. If that other contry was prepared to launch a nuclear attack on your country, you might be doing good in accepting the second and third order negative consequences of the preemptive attack, but if the potential damage to you was not as serious you might end up better by accepting the risk than by doing something that is going to cause you more harm in the longer term.

yelly
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Re: Is it right to kill?

Postby yelly » Wed Jun 24, 2009 10:46 pm UTC

henryx wrote:What is usually missed in this type of debate is the second and third order consequences of the acts being discussed.

I find your reasoning somewhat unsettling for some reasons, the main one of which is that your system doesn't actually address the core value of life, just the consequences of taking it away. To many (myself among them), killing is not cool because life posses an inherent value that is pretty high up the ladder (be it religious, sociological, you name it). By reasoning like this, you are putting killing on a line with much anything else; robbery is bad because it unsettles peoples feeling of safety; graft is bad because it damages our way of government; yet non of these things are anything like murder (feel free to dispute that one, there is room for some good argument here). As far as I can tell, the only reason this is true is because the value of life is measured on a completely different scale than other values, like, say, worldly possessions and government transparency.
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Fledermen64
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Re: Is it right to kill?

Postby Fledermen64 » Thu Jun 25, 2009 12:03 am UTC

Depends on the reason and the person.

Meaningful contributions only, please.

-Az
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Aetius
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Re: Is it right to kill?

Postby Aetius » Tue Jun 30, 2009 2:21 am UTC

I'd just like to make the point that all justice is vigilante justice. State sponsored execution after a trial is certainly a more careful and processed form of it, but I caution against drawing a hard distinction between "vigilante justice" and "legal system justice" when the two are occupying space on the same spectrum.

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Jjarro
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Re: Is it right to kill?

Postby Jjarro » Tue Jun 30, 2009 3:07 am UTC

Good point.

In fact, moral responsibility is impossible to avoid. Whatever one does - or declines to do - is their own moral responsibility. If you participate in a state-sanctioned execution of your own free will, it is because you trust the judgment of the state and it's processes to make that decision... but that trust is your moral responsibility. If a police officer destroys a man in the line of duty, it is every bit as morally inescapable as if I destroy a man in the name of preserving my most vital rights.

The basic question of "Is it right to kill?" can be answered, as Vaniver simply did, "Yes." Yes, it is right to destroy life. This is a useless question, since it's inescapable; is it right to create? Yes. It's unavoidable, actually. Your existence requires the destruction of life.

"Is it ever exonerable for a person to take another persons life on purpose?" The advanced version of this question can also be simply answered "Yes." Of course. Powerlessness in the face of murderous foes is not a virtue. The moral necessity of killing cannot be hand-waved away by invoking less-lethal violent actions, like a sufficiently (but never excessively!) brutal beating, or a justified (but never extraneous!) tazing. People come with an off switch, thank goodness. Various devices have been invented to hit that switch, some better than others. We cannot rely on the existence of technology to embolden our moral positions; people reasonably decided to kill each other with rocks long before they were forced to do it in a dark ally with a pistol. If someone decides to kill you with a rock, for reasons that seem sufficient to them at the time, you are in trouble.

Can you abide your good, sweet lover being struck in the face with a hurled rock or brick? Her lip tears, teeth fly, her nose is broken. She may lose the use of one eye permanently, but you have no way of knowing that. And, of course, that assumes she lives at all - the aggressor is still active. She's screaming. Someone is about to do it again, perhaps to you, perhaps to her. I say, kill them if you possess the means; further, I say that this is reasonable to decide. Ideally, kill them before the above scene unfolds, as soon as you realize that death-dealing is what stands between you and the insufferable reality outlined above. It doesn't matter that they're throwing rocks and you're throwing lead; presumably they have their reasons, but you certainly have yours; no escape is possible from the moral choice you face; no matter what you do, the ramifications belong to you only. Each person owns the outcome of their actions, forever, no take backs and no graciously declining.

Of course, you may have already made that choice, in advance. You likely don't have a pistol with you on your anniversary date, and thus two or three attackers, or armed attackers, are quite likely to severely injure you if they have the inclination for it, at the very least. Maybe the ugly violence I described is what you inflict on your attacker, as when the sick thump of a rock interrupts your date, you have only a brick with which to counter-attack. Is that somehow better for leaving your attacker alive? Sure, one eye may be oozing out of its cavity, sure, they may never recover full equilibrium or memory faculties... but thank god you didn't have to kill anyone?

I don't buy it. Of course you kill, maim and ruin, and of course you make sure you believe it was okay, after... or, ideally, before you're faced with the necessity.

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Oculus Vespertilionis
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Re: Is it right to kill?

Postby Oculus Vespertilionis » Tue Jun 30, 2009 4:31 am UTC

yelly wrote:I find your reasoning somewhat unsettling for some reasons, the main one of which is that your system doesn't actually address the core value of life, just the consequences of taking it away. To many (myself among them), killing is not cool because life posses an inherent value that is pretty high up the ladder (be it religious, sociological, you name it). By reasoning like this, you are putting killing on a line with much anything else; robbery is bad because it unsettles peoples feeling of safety; graft is bad because it damages our way of government; yet non of these things are anything like murder (feel free to dispute that one, there is room for some good argument here). As far as I can tell, the only reason this is true is because the value of life is measured on a completely different scale than other values, like, say, worldly possessions and government transparency.

But henryx presented as a premise that the person being killed will cause the deaths of many more people. If anything, then, the "value of life" seems to favor killing the politicians, and these secondary considerations help counterbalance that. Assuming I didn't misunderstand his argument.
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sterces48
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Re: Is it right to kill?

Postby sterces48 » Tue Jun 30, 2009 6:30 am UTC

dedalus wrote:Is it right for any person to take another persons life on purpose?


I didn't read every single post, but I did skim. Problem the First.

Let's talk about The Dark Knight, the latest Batman movie. Problem the Second.

Read threads. Don't for even one second ever think that movie references are SB. Please read the section rules at your earliest convenience.

-Az

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BlackSails
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Re: Is it right to kill?

Postby BlackSails » Tue Jun 30, 2009 12:50 pm UTC

Aetius wrote:I'd just like to make the point that all justice is vigilante justice. State sponsored execution after a trial is certainly a more careful and processed form of it, but I caution against drawing a hard distinction between "vigilante justice" and "legal system justice" when the two are occupying space on the same spectrum.


One is sanctioned by an implicit social contract, the other is forbidden by that same contract. Seems pretty simple enough.


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