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Intentional non-defensive killing - Do you always oppose it?

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Do you want non-defensive, intentional killing of born, brain-alive humans to always be prohibited?

Yes, I want it to always be prohibited.
2
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No, I have exceptions. (Please explain.)
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Total votes : 4

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Scott

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Intentional non-defensive killing - Do you always oppose it?

Post Number:#1  PostApril 14th, 2012, 5:46 pm

Back in 2009 I started the topic Murder - Do you Always Oppose It? While I made it very clear that I define 'murder' as the non-defensive, intentional killing of another person, it seems to me that that discussion was heavily derailed most of all by debates about the definition of 'murder' which is of course missing the point. So I am making this new topic without word murder at all in which I will keep things more clear by using my proposed definition itself. Sp please don't use the word murder in this discussion. Also to avoid issues regarding levels or degrees of opposition, I will focus on the question of legality. So my question is: do you want the intentional, non-defensive killing of another person to be illegal always? If so, why? If not, then in what situations do you make an exception and why do you make an exception for those and why do you usually want it prohibited otherwise?

Please note, to keep things simple, I do not want to use this topic to discuss issues where the would-be killed thing is argued to not even be a person, such as abortion, non-human animals, and taking a brain-dead coma patient off life-support. The issue in this topic isn't who is and is not a person, but rather in what situations it is arguably tolerable to kill a person.

You'll also notice I'm only asking about intentional killing. This excludes the more complicated, excusable issues of truly accidental killing as well as killing during full-blown insanity.

I am also not asking about self-defensive killing. While I always, firmly oppose the non-defensive, intentional killing of another person, I am tolerant if not supportive of self-defensive killing and would expand this to include defending others. To me defensive killing would be killing someone in a situation where the person is attacking one in a way that creates a significant bodily danger when -- in a reasonable analysis -- the only effective way to stop the danger posted by the attacker is by using potentially lethal force. However this would not include the use of excessive force during the defensive action, such as when a cop purposely knocks the head of a suspect into the car after the suspect is in cuffs or when defending oneself in a fistfight the defender then starts pummeling the attacker on the ground out of anger even after the attacker is clearly rendered unconscious. Of course, there are many shades of gray, some that can be debated philosophically and others than would need to be sorted out individually presumably by a court. In this topic I wish to discuss the legality of killing that for the sake of argument we agree as a premise is non-defensive.

Again my answer is that I always, firmly oppose the non-defensive, intentional killing of another person and always want the non-defensive, intentional killing of another person to be prohibited. Nonetheless, in the other topic those who disagree helped me compile a list of the types of non-defensive, intentional killing of another person that are most often philosophically supported.

Non-defensive, intentional killing of another person for revenge - This is non-defensive, intentional killing used against someone as payback because they have done something which angers, upsets, disgusts, etc. the supporter of this type of non-defensive, intentional killing of another person which thus means the supporter thinks non-defensively, intentionally killing this person or causing this person harm is desirable in and of itself. I have also noted three main sub-types of non-defensive, intentional killing of another person for revenge: eye-for-an-eye (trying to do to another what they have done to others to an equal degree), one-eye-for-two-eyes (hurting someone as payback but to a lesser degree than the inspiring act), or two-eyes-for-one-eye (getting payback to a greater degree than the inspiring act).

Utilitarian non-defensive, intentional killing of another person- This is non-defensively, intentionally killing 1 or more people to save the lives of even more people. For example, take the common example of a bunch of people on a raft but the raft can't move fast enough or stay afloat with all the weight so the people push someone overboard. Or consider people who are stranded and will all starve to death before being rescued without something to eat, so they non-defensively, intentionally kill the heaviest guy to eat him. I think non-defensive, intentional killing of another person as a deterrent of future killings would fall into this category. This differs from defensive killing in that the one isn't defending oneself or someone else from the would-be non-defensively, intentionally killed person but rather making a so-called 'innocent victim' out of the person to save oneself.

Non-defensive, intentional killing of another person for nationalism or one's loved ones - This is similar to utilitarian non-defensive, intentional killing of another person except in this case the non-defensive, intentional killing of another person does not save the lives of more people but rather saves the lives of people for which the supporter cares more. For example, consider a man who non-defensively, intentionally kills some stranger to use the victim's organs as transplants to save his beloved daughter. Or consider people who would support terrorism, dropping a nuclear bomb, or otherwise non-defensively, intentionally killing groups of civilians from another country, race or religion to empower and/or indirectly save the lives of one's own countrymen even when the civilians killed in the other country, race or religion would be more numerically than those saved in ones own.

Democratic or state-sponsored non-defensive, intentional killing of another person - This is non-defensive, intentional killing of another person committed by a government. Examples of this would include the death penalty, non-defensive, intentional assassinations by government agents, and state-sponsored terrorism or non-defensive, intentional killing of another person as state-sponsored war. Please note, I do not think most people would consider the killing of unrestrained enemy soldiers in a war as non-defensive, intentional killing of another person, but only the intentional slaughter of non-violent civilians. Also, most people who support state-sponsored non-defensive, intentional killing of another person probably only support certain types of state-sponsored non-defensive, intentional killing of another person. What perhaps makes this excuse for non-defensive, intentional killing of another person unique is that it can be combined with the previous 3 (or possibly some other excuse). For instance, a person may be opposed to non-defensive, intentional killing of another person in revenge when a few lone citizens do it to another but support capital punishment.

Can you think of any other reasons people would philosophically support non-defensive, intentional killing of another person or otherwise want it to be legal in a certain situation?

Combining each of the first 3 with the last one generates 6 questions I would love for everyone to answer:

1. Do you support state-sponsored non-defensive, intentional killing for revenge? Always, sometimes or never? Do you support it only if it is an eye-for-an-eye, or would you possibly support it even if the one being non-defensively, intentionally killed hadn't non-defensively, intentionally killed anyone (e.g. the state-sponsored executions of people for the crimes of adultery or witchcraft)?

2. Do you support non-defensive, intentional killing for revenge when it is not state-sponsored? Always, sometimes or never? Do you support it only if it is an eye-for-an-eye, or would you possibly support it even if the one being non-defensively, intentionally killed hadn't non-defensively, intentionally killed anyone?

3. Do you support state-sponsored utilitarian non-defensive, intentional killing? Always, sometimes or never? If sometimes, under what conditions? If the death penalty deters more non-defensive, intentional killing than incarceration, would you support it?

4. Do you support utilitarian non-defensive, intentional killing that is not state-sponsored? Always, sometimes or never? If sometimes, under what conditions? What about the raft example? What about the cannibalism example? What if it deters non-defensive, intentional killing if civilians or other non-government groups non-defensively intentionally kill anyone who non-defensively, intentionally kills for other reasons?

5. Do you support state-sponsored non-defensive, intentional killing for nationalism or one's loved ones? Always, sometimes or never? If only sometimes, under what conditions? Would you support your government/race/religion non-defensively, intentionally killing civilians from another country/race/religion as terrorism if it would save the lives of some people from your country/race/religion even if the number saved from your country/race/religion was less than the number non-defensively, intentionally killed from their country/race/religion? Consider when the USA dropped nuclear bombs on Japanese cities filled with civilians; how do you feel about actions like that?

6. Do you support non-defensive, intentional killing for nationalism or one's loved ones that is not state-sponsored? Always, sometimes, never? If sometimes, under what conditions? What about the example of a father who non-defensively, intentionally kills a stranger to use the strangers organs as transplants to save his daughter's life?


My answer to all 6 questions is never. Frankly, I think non-defensive, intentional killing is a disgusting, barbaric practice that is most effectively dealt with using a zero tolerance policy and I see no convincing reason to make any exceptions for these few excuses.
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Re: Intentional non-defensive killing - Do you always oppose

Post Number:#2  PostApril 15th, 2012, 11:46 pm

Scott, you might want to add one more kind of non-defensive intentional killing to your list. Thanks to our science, ww are continually extending our mortal lives and thereby imperiling our ability to cope with the economic and psychological costs of doing this. Bizarre as it may seem now, we may be at the threshhold of establishing laws and procedures that will limit our mortal existence. What do you think about this?
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Re: Intentional non-defensive killing - Do you always oppose

Post Number:#3  PostApril 16th, 2012, 8:13 am

I do not support the non defensive killing of anyone but I can understand the individual being driven to commit murder for certain reasons. We must create ethical laws but be careful how we judge the individual act. If my wife or daughter was brutally murdered then I would most definitely try to kill their murderer. Objectively I could not condone my action. One of life's constant dilemmas and no matter how logically or calmly we debate the ethics of such acts we can never be truly free to choose the correct path. We all know the philosophical question of killing" one" to save a hundred has always troubled us. Do we alter the trains path and kill the one knowing the passengers on the train will all be saved. Is it murder? We as a society can not condone the principle but have to accept the dilemma we all could face with understanding and compassion.
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Re: Intentional non-defensive killing - Do you always oppose

Post Number:#4  PostApril 16th, 2012, 9:26 pm

I think that INDK's should always be illegal in that should you intentionally take the life of another you should in almost all circumstances have to account for your action and be judged. However I can think of a number of situations that would justify INDK's and should be devoid of punishment.

To protect your children from serious abuse (physical/sexual) Eg You have sufficeint evidence that your local priest/teacher/friend is abusing childeren but insufficeint evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt. If you observed that person attempting to abuse your child an INDK would be justified.

Now it could be argued that the right to defend someone else removes the 'non-defensive' component but in most cases self or other defense is only applicable if the life of the 'defendee' or defender is in danger. I would hold that the damage done by peadophiles is sufficeint to justify an INDK even if the childs actual life is not at immediate risk.
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Re: Intentional non-defensive killing - Do you always oppose

Post Number:#5  PostApril 16th, 2012, 10:48 pm

The trouble with 1 is when the state does it it tends not to get the guilty party. The leader of one country orders an attack on another, that victim country responds by killing dozens of innocent people from the attacking country, not the leader.

With 2, if someone murdered your child and got off on a legal technicality, would you not take revenge? I would.

3 all the evidence points to the death penalty not working as a deterrent, even if it did putting life and death in the hands of a state has been proven a bad thing so many times in history, we should really learn.

4 Most definately don't support the raft example, I would watch my back and hope someone else thought differently. If they didn't, try and encourage them too.

5 I think a few dead world leaders would be a good thing.

6 I think we all do that now, not directly and with cognitive dissonance. People are being killed the world over in the name of fuel, consumer goods and so on for western markets. The world turned a blind eye to the genocide in Timor for slightly cheaper petrol for their cars.
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Re: Intentional non-defensive killing - Do you always oppose

Post Number:#6  PostApril 17th, 2012, 10:33 pm

Gareth wrote:Now it could be argued that the right to defend someone else removes the 'non-defensive' component but in most cases self or other defense is only applicable if the life of the 'defendee' or defender is in danger. I would hold that the damage done by peadophiles is sufficeint to justify an INDK even if the childs actual life is not at immediate risk.

I suppose that is an important distinction, i.e. between defense of one's life as opposed to defense from non-lethal but severe bodily injury. I suppose we could also distinguish between bodily injury and injury of so-called property--although the lines get blurred in many situations such as when one burns the crop-fields of a town causing all the people to starve to death.

These aren't different justifications for INDK, though, I think they are different forms of INDK in that they are different types of defense, which I think at least deserve mention of three categories: defense of life, defense from bodily injury and defense of property. I suppose to really the answer the questions in the OP one would need to give separate answers for all three. For what it's worth (and I apologize for not thinking of this when I wrote the OP and thank you for raising this wise point) when I wrote non-defensive I was thinking of defense including either of the first two but generally not property unless under special cases where injury to the property would indirectly cause significant bodily injury or loss of life.

Incidentally, I suppose one could also argue that if one saw one's children being raped that it is reasonable to assume their life is in danger because for instance the rapist may have AIDS or may enjoy killing afterwards, thus stopping him by whatever means necessary is not only a defense from the injury of rape but also a defense of life. Someone else could argue that it is unreasonable to assume the rape victim's life is at risk simply by the fact the victim is being raped. I'm not convinced one way or the other. We might compare it to a burglar breaking into someone's home with a gun drawn. Using any means necessary to stop and incapacitate that burglar such as maybe shooting him would normally be considered a defense of life, I think, regardless of whether or not afterwards it turned out the burglars gun was loaded or not; perhaps the burglar turns out to be religiously opposed to murder and wanted the gun just to scare his victims into obeying him. The argument could be that just like with the burglar, by the rapists extraordinarily aggressive, victimizing, violent actions it's reasonable to fear for one's life at least enough to supplement one's desire to protect themselves from non-lethal bodily harm to make even lethal defense excusable even if it is wouldn't be in a more obviously non-life-threatening situation.

***

Grendel wrote:With 2, if someone murdered your child and got off on a legal technicality, would you not take revenge? I would.

I might because I'm a hypocrite. In fact, under the right circumstances I think any person might do anything. In the insanity of extreme anger, fear, heartbreak combined with exceptional circumstances is there anything you or I wouldn't do? Killing the killer of my child out of revenge despite a political philosophy that calls for that to be criminalized is minor compared to some of the terrible things I might do if I went crazy and was the victim of exceptionally terrible circumstances conducive to such ugly behavior. But do you want it to be legal? I don't, and I hope even though I predict otherwise that I would have the self-control and clearheadedness to not go crazy and commit what would be a crime in my ideal world if I was the victim of such terrible things.

Grendel wrote:3 all the evidence points to the death penalty not working as a deterrent, even if it did putting life and death in the hands of a state has been proven a bad thing so many times in history, we should really learn.

Okay, let's put the scientific question of whether the death penalty actually deters or not aside to instead focus on the political philosophy. If it was scientifically proven that having the death penalty deterred the crimes -- presumably other killings -- for which it was administered, would you support it for that reason? I would not. I think this is the same as the raft example: it's utilitarian INDK but in this case by the hypothetical government.

(Incidentally, I doubt most people who support the death penalty do so out of a belief that it is a deterrent which is #3. Rather I think most who support it support it as a means of revenge which is #2.)

Grendel wrote:5 I think a few dead world leaders would be a good thing.

Okay, but how does that answer the questions asked in #5? I'm particularly interested in your response to the question of intentionally, non-defensively killing a few strangers to harvest organs to save one's own daughter.
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