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.
11
37%
No, I have exceptions. (Please explain.)
19
63%
 
Total votes: 30

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Lagayscienza
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Re: Intentional non-defensive killing - Do you always oppose

Post by Lagayscienza » May 29th, 2015, 4:26 am

This is a tough one. It’s interesting to see that the votes so far are 50/50 –half thinking it is in some circumstances acceptable and half thinking it is never acceptable. I’m in two minds about it. I sometimes feel it is right that violent psychopaths be executed, or that it would be acceptable to ”take out” some monster like Hitler. But then I think, isn’t that the thin edge of the wedge? If it’s ok in these circumstances why not extend it to others? I think allowing these sorts of killing may put us on a slippery slope ends up nowhere good.
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Re: Intentional non-defensive killing - Do you always oppose

Post by Greta » May 29th, 2015, 9:15 pm

Lagayscienza wrote:I sometimes feel it is right that violent psychopaths be executed, or that it would be acceptable to ”take out” some monster like Hitler. But then I think, isn’t that the thin edge of the wedge? If it’s ok in these circumstances why not extend it to others? I think allowing these sorts of killing may put us on a slippery slope ends up nowhere good.
It's the Trolley Problem, Lagaya, balancing rival "bads". Do you deliberately kill one to save many, or do you keep your hands clean and allow the many to die?

If we had a prison system that was committed to rehabilitation, corruption-free and had the personnel and resources to properly isolate the most dangerous and corrupting sociopaths, I may think differently. If only we could prevent sociopaths from destroying others in prison who may have had a hope of rehabilitation. (For the moment let's ignore that the money currently spent on housing incorrigibly damaged psychopaths could be spent saving or improving others' lives).

As a gay man, surely you can see the situation. Imagine a young gay man, lost in life and still disturbed from school bullying. He goes into prison for a drugs offence and becomes a target and sexual plaything for violent rapists. How would this affect his chance of becoming a cooperative and functional citizen? If you ask me, the current system simply feeds weaker and more vulnerable inmates to the strong and predatory. The alternative is to get rid of the worst predators and allow the less hard cases to rehabilitate. Solitary confinement is considered inhumane and, from what I've heard, would be considered to be torture, in which case execution would be kinder.

Or, of course, we can leave things be and keep allowing vulnerable minor offenders to be destroyed by prison predators (and then they leave prison damaged and continue the cycle of abuse). We might even convince ourselves that we are being more moral than those supporters of "barbaric" capital punishment.
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Re: Intentional non-defensive killing - Do you always oppose

Post by Lagayscienza » May 29th, 2015, 10:50 pm

Greta wrote:
Lagayscienza wrote:I sometimes feel it is right that violent psychopaths be executed, or that it would be acceptable to ”take out” some monster like Hitler. But then I think, isn’t that the thin edge of the wedge? If it’s ok in these circumstances why not extend it to others? I think allowing these sorts of killing may put us on a slippery slope ends up nowhere good.
It's the Trolley Problem, Lagaya, balancing rival "bads". Do you deliberately kill one to save many, or do you keep your hands clean and allow the many to die?
Yes, it's one of those damned-if-you-damned-if-don't problems.
Greta wrote:If we had a prison system that was committed to rehabilitation, corruption-free and had the personnel and resources to properly isolate the most dangerous and corrupting sociopaths, I may think differently. If only we could prevent sociopaths from destroying others in prison who may have had a hope of rehabilitation. (For the moment let's ignore that the money currently spent on housing incorrigibly damaged psychopaths could be spent saving or improving others' lives).

As a gay man, surely you can see the situation. Imagine a young gay man, lost in life and still disturbed from school bullying. He goes into prison for a drugs offence and becomes a target and sexual plaything for violent rapists. How would this affect his chance of becoming a cooperative and functional citizen? If you ask me, the current system simply feeds weaker and more vulnerable inmates to the strong and predatory. The alternative is to get rid of the worst predators and allow the less hard cases to rehabilitate. Solitary confinement is considered inhumane and, from what I've heard, would be considered to be torture, in which case execution would be kinder.

Or, of course, we can leave things be and keep allowing vulnerable minor offenders to be destroyed by prison predators (and then they leave prison damaged and continue the cycle of abuse). We might even convince ourselves that we are being more moral than those supporters of "barbaric" capital punishment.
I understand and can sympathize with all of the above and that's why I find it hard to make up my mind. Sometimes I feel I'd have no qualms about having certain offenders executed - that creep in Melbourne for example who raped and murdered women (some whilst he was on parole for previous offences) and who was recently sentenced to 40 odd years in jail. He's just incorrigible and causes so much harm and suffering to others that it's hard to make a case for not getting rid of him. If keeping such creeps in solitary confinement is the only way to prevent them from harming others both within and outside prison and if doing so caused him more suffering than executing him then why not execute him? Some who think that punishment should play a retributive role may feel he deserves to be kept forever in solitary if that would cause him more suffering than execution. But to me, retribution just makes us more like those monsters. Therefore it might be kinder to kill him. But, honestly, could you pull the leaver or deliver the fatal injection? I don't think I could. Something makes me draw back from such an act.
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Re: Intentional non-defensive killing - Do you always oppose

Post by Greta » May 30th, 2015, 12:22 am

Lagayscienza wrote:If keeping such creeps in solitary confinement is the only way to prevent them from harming others both within and outside prison and if doing so caused him more suffering than executing him then why not execute him? Some who think that punishment should play a retributive role may feel he deserves to be kept forever in solitary if that would cause him more suffering than execution. But to me, retribution just makes us more like those monsters. Therefore it might be kinder to kill him. But, honestly, could you pull the leaver or deliver the fatal injection? I don't think I could. Something makes me draw back from such an act.
Yes, the reality is that some people are catastrophically dysfunctional in ways that make them an unrepentant menace to all who are unlucky enough to fall into their path. To avoid "collateral damage" (beaten, raped, and exploited relative innocents) these irredeemable sociopaths must be either isolated or killed. Otherwise it's simply not fair to their current and future victims.

To deliberately cause extra suffering is unjustifiable. Actually, I'd give the condemned men and women the choice - execution or permanent solitary (with permitted safe visits). At any time during "open ended solitary" a prisoner could opt for execution. Some may even enjoy solitary confinement, which I would see that as a good result.

Just keep identifying the worst bullying bashers and rapists in prison and lock them away where they can't do harm (which I thought was the whole point of prison) - unless they'd rather end it. I'd be okay pressing the button or pulling the lever. In fact, as an advocate, I can't justify wanting others do what I wouldn't be prepared to do myself. No matter what happens - including maintaining the status quo - some will suffer and die. The blood is, in truth, on everyone's hands through deliberate neglect of vulnerable prison inmates, effectively "fed" to predators by wardens to keep them calm.

We sanction this torture. We pay for it without our taxes and we say nothing. We close our eyes; "they are only criminals". Some think it's a good deterrent. So are crucifixion, flaying alive and disembowelment.

When first presented with the trolley problem I said I'd pull the lever to cause least harm - pulling and not pulling the lever are actually the same thing - a decision.
The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated—Gandhi.

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Re: Intentional non-defensive killing - Do you always oppose

Post by Scott » May 31st, 2015, 3:30 pm

Greta wrote:
Scott wrote:The first 8 paragraphs of the post seem to be off-topic. The issue isn't whether or not to imprison people (which if imprisioning rapists and such is presumably being done as alleged defensive force) but whether or not to non-defensively kill people. Killing is different than imprisoning.
You have not understood my post, Scott.

I'll try again: some people in prison cause incredible harm to other inmates, who then carry that harm and anger out into the community. Why keep incorrigible thugs alive - the "worst of the worst" - who cannot heap but to spread their poison? Executing them would be kinder to all involved, other than the psychopath concerned and perhaps the executioners. Some people are simply too damaged and the choice is whether to kill them or let them spread their poison through prisons and into community. There is no inbetween option. Have you read accounts of brutalisation in prisons?
If for the sake of argument we accept your many premises, then the type of killing you describe is defensive not non-defensive.

However, not blindly accepting your premises, in real life it is often quite possible to defend people by using non-lethal force to temporarily incapacitate and lock up the dangerously psychologically abnormal in either (1) humanely run treatment centers where experts can try to rehabilitate them or (2) humanely run centers for the so-called criminally insane. Lack of consideration for all these other options creates nothing short of a false dichotomy fallacy.
Scott wrote:As for the last paragraph where you say, "We can't help but to kill in this life." That seem clearly untrue. Martin Luther King set a great example of living more peacefully. It's very possible to not intentionally kill people. One simply chooses to not do it.
Greta wrote:I have effectively killed Iraqis and I had zero choice. My taxes went to the Australian Defence Force, who then helped the US conduct an illegal invasion, resulting in enormous civilian casualties. I didn't vote for that government and I attended the big anti-invasion rally, but the the blood is still on my hands, as it is for all taxpaying Australians, Americans and British at the time. We financed the invasion. We financed pointless murder.
Either you had a choice or the blood is not on your hands, correct?

The problem with standing up to bullies bullying others is that one risks becoming the target of the bully oneself. The degree of culpability the bystanders who either do nothing to stand up to a bully or worse yet actively enable the bully and give in to the bully's demands is debatable and probably quite circumstantial. Henry David Thoreau, whose work on Civil Disobedience which inspired the methods of Martin Luther King and (the incidentally quite racist but yet oddly heroified) Gandhi, had to of course serve jail time for not paying taxes. Martin Luther King was also a repeat criminal offender. (Luckily, neither was executed for the criminal behavior, but there are many examples of such criminals being executed.)
Greta wrote:I should also add that when I said "we cannot help to kill" I was also considering the animal casualties we accumulate throughout life, even vegetarians (loss of habitat). Why should the ethics of killing only apply to humans? Future generations will one day look back in shame at our lack of empathy.
For the reasons I wrote in the second paragraph of the OP, I am referring in this topic only to the killing of humans who are relatively agreeably brain-alive (e.g. thus side-stepping red herring debates regarding abortion or coma patients). This is just 1 discussion topic, and is meant to be philosophical. There are many worthy non-philosophical things to be discussed through other mediums for other purposes than what this website and this particular discussion provide.

***
Lagayscienza wrote:I sometimes feel it is right that violent psychopaths be executed, or that it would be acceptable to ”take out” some monster like Hitler
As already addressed earlier in the topic, killing Hitler would be a form of defensive killing and is thus not an example of what is being discussed.

The same probably goes for most cases of "executing" a "violent psychopath". The only way to philosophically find that out is to test it with controlled thought experiments. Can you think of an example, simplified philosophically to control the thought experiment for the issue of defensiveness, to test it? In other words, can you think of a hypothetical situation in which some people would call for the execution of a "violent psychopath" when the motivation could not reasonably be defense but only some other goal (presumably just some sadistic desire to kill him in itself)?

***
Greta wrote:It's the Trolley Problem, Lagaya, balancing rival "bads". Do you deliberately kill one to save many, or do you keep your hands clean and allow the many to die?
This so-called "Trolley Problem" was covered in the OP by questions 3 and 4.

It should be noted the OP does not ask do you support executing "criminals". No where does it ask that. Some people may support killing certain "criminals" if it meets the criteria in questions #1 or #2 (for revenge); others may not support revenge killing but will support it for utilitarian ("trolley problem") reasons (#3 and #4); yet others support neither of those but could support such executions where they are defensive (i.e. killing the "criminal" if that is the only practical way to prevent the criminal from causing significant harm to others) in which case it is outside the scope of this topic because this topic is about non-defensive killing. If one is going to support the executing of "criminals" or "violent psychopaths" (which are two very different things, especially since usually the violent psychopaths are the ones executing criminals and criminals are often people like Thoreau, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King and the Germans who hid Jews in their attic), then when discussing it in this topic please make it clear under which types of numbered list of non-defensive killings in the OP is it being argued as a form of. Without that being clear, it seems reasonable to conclude the point would be nothing but an off-topic red herring fallacy.
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Re: Intentional non-defensive killing - Do you always oppose

Post by Spiral Out » May 31st, 2015, 8:05 pm

I can answer "always" to all 6 questions since they are all based on the fundamental fallacy that life is inherently good and worth preserving, and the unfounded assertion that Humans deserve somewhat of a utopian existence.
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Re: Intentional non-defensive killing - Do you always oppose

Post by Lagayscienza » May 31st, 2015, 8:16 pm

In principle I would say no, never, to all six questions. However, I'm sure someone could come up with some bizarre scenario that would make me question this initial response. But I still think it would be the thin edge of the wedge and that therefore we should not condone it.
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Re: Intentional non-defensive killing - Do you always oppose

Post by Greta » June 1st, 2015, 4:29 am

Greta wrote:... some people in prison cause incredible harm to other inmates, who then carry that harm and anger out into the community. Why keep incorrigible thugs alive - the "worst of the worst" - who cannot heap but to spread their poison? Executing them would be kinder to all involved[...]
Scott wrote:If for the sake of argument we accept your many premises, then the type of killing you describe is defensive not non-defensive.

However, not blindly accepting your premises, in real life it is often quite possible to defend people by using non-lethal force to temporarily incapacitate and lock up the dangerously psychologically abnormal in either (1) humanely run treatment centers where experts can try to rehabilitate them or (2) humanely run centers for the so-called criminally insane. Lack of consideration for all these other options creates nothing short of a false dichotomy fallacy.
I do agree that the execution of "prison predators" is defensive in a broader sense.

Good luck getting funding for the rehab centres for "the worst of the worst". Many are beyond realistic rehabilitation anyway unless you assign a "saint" doctor to devote themselves entirely to one psychopath in a mentoring relationship and then you might have a chance (or a damaged doctor).

When I worked in corrective services each welfare officer was responsible for 500 inmates - and you think it's a "false dichotomy" to assume that money won't appear in the foreseeable future for expensive politically unpalatable facilities capable of rehabilitating or containing the very worst psychopaths in the prison system?

In an ideal world I'd be all for your suggestions, but they are not realistic. There's three realistic choices in the foreseeable economic and political - let them keep destroying lives in prison and outside, kill them, or lock them in solitary.
Greta wrote:I have effectively killed Iraqis and I had zero choice. My taxes went to the Australian Defence Force, who then helped the US conduct an illegal invasion, resulting in enormous civilian casualties...
Scott wrote:Either you had a choice or the blood is not on your hands, correct?
So where does the responsibility lie? Only with the leader? The cabinet, the party, their supporters and voters? The electorally cowed and cowardly opposition and their backers? We are not independent agents but dependent upon a system, and that system embarked on an illegal and immoral war. In the end, everyone is lumbered with some level of responsibility, even if ostensibly small.
I should also add that when I said "we cannot help to kill" I was also considering the animal casualties we accumulate throughout life, even vegetarians (loss of habitat). Why should the ethics of killing only apply to humans? Future generations will one day look back in shame at our lack of empathy.
Scott wrote:For the reasons I wrote in the second paragraph of the OP, I am referring in this topic only to the killing of humans who are relatively agreeably brain-alive (e.g. thus side-stepping red herring debates regarding abortion or coma patients). This is just 1 discussion topic, and is meant to be philosophical. There are many worthy non-philosophical things to be discussed through other mediums for other purposes than what this website and this particular discussion provide.
Okay Scott, sorry. I just get annoyed at our anthropocentrism and the relative lack of concern for our fellow animals. It always seems to be about humans, humans, humans and our little rules of engagement, which we treat with so much seriousness while contentedly chewing on caged pork, chicken or eggs. I think it's a natural fault line and one that perhaps directly interferes with our ability to act ethically with each other. The link between human and animal cruelty has often been noted in psychopaths when they were children and, while they are extreme examples, it does point in a certain direction.

Re: the questions:

1. Do you support state-sponsored non-defensive, intentional killing for revenge? Never. It makes a bad situation worse.

2. Do you support non-defensive, intentional killing for revenge when it is not state-sponsored? Sometimes, in the most extreme cases it's understandable.

3. Do you support state-sponsored utilitarian non-defensive, intentional killing? Sometimes, as per my reasoning in previous posts. Not for revenge, but to protect.

4. Do you support utilitarian non-defensive, intentional killing that is not state-sponsored? The raft example is a nightmare all-round and I can't answer without being in that situation.

5. Do you support state-sponsored non-defensive, intentional killing for nationalism or one's loved ones? Sometimes, depending on the number of lives and deaths involved. If an enemy buries its forces amongst civilians in order to play on its enemies' morality, who bears responsibility?

6. Do you support non-defensive, intentional killing for nationalism or one's loved ones that is not state-sponsored? Never. I don't support murder in order to gain someone's organs.
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Re: Intentional non-defensive killing - Do you always oppose

Post by Atreyu » July 7th, 2015, 5:52 am

1. I would never support state-sponsored killing for revenge.

2. I could support an individual killing for revenge, depending on the original crime, although I would never say it was the "right" thing to do. Right or wrong, I fully support the elimination of low-lifes from society.

3. I could support state-sponsored killing for utilitarian reasons depending on the circumstances. Again, I wouldn't call it the "right" thing to do, but if millions can be saved by killing a few dozen people, I can "give way to the state" in such a situation. However, I would never support the death penalty, since I oppose cloaking killing someone in "justice", and I've always said that "two wrongs do not make a right". If someone must be killed, it's the executive, not the judicial or legislative, branches of government that should do it, as in the case of a Navy Seal secretly eliminating a terrorist.

4. I could support utilitarian killing by an individual if it was someone else who did it, and if it wasn't I that was the victim. But again, I wouldn't call it "right". But I also am not bitching about myself and 20 other people surviving because one or two were sacrificed.

5. I generally don't support any state-sponsored killing, unless it's limited and done for true national security reasons. But if it is, I say go all out. "All is fair in love and war". In war, you have to win, period. So yes, I could support the USA entirely wiping out a nation if say 10% of the people in that nation were engaging in acts of terrorism against us, and I would have supported Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the time. When it comes to war, it's guilt by association. If you're on the other side, you must die (in war).

6. I could support individuals killing for loved ones depending on circumstance. So I would not support a man who killed an 18 yr old man to save his 95 yr old grandma, but I could support a man killing a 95 yr old man to save his baby girl.
Scott wrote: 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.
I think your position is rather narrow and inflexible, and sounds a bit self-righteous (no offense intended)....

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Re: Intentional non-defensive killing - Do you always oppose

Post by LuckyR » July 10th, 2015, 4:41 pm

Just as there are differences of opinion on the definition of the word "defensive" as pertains to use in "non-defensive", there are differences of opinion on the severity of the illegality of the killing. For example, if the rule (law) was exactly as Scottie descibed it in the OP, but at trial the killer of his daughter's rapist got a $50 fine. That would likely satisfy Scottie's rule, yet the sentiment of the killer and his jury. Illegal, but not THAT illegal.

Which, after all is a major purpose of the legal system beyond just making general rules (laws).
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Re: Intentional non-defensive killing - Do you always oppose

Post by ShrimpMaster » July 24th, 2015, 2:23 pm

Capital punishment is the only case where I think it is legitimate to take another persons life. I am a Christian and most people this this is contrary to biblical teaching, because Jesus taught forgiveness, etc... I see no contradiction with forgiving and individual and seeking justice in this life.

Scott, you did not include abortion in your discussion. Why not? Can you please answer whether you believe killing an unborn child is okay or not? Since you seem to speak of killing as so barbaric you must be against the killing of unborn children, correct? Or is that just hype-talk?

Thanks

-- Updated July 24th, 2015, 11:27 am to add the following --

I do see the note in your OP that details why you left it out, but I don't think that is good enough. At most you would just put that disclaimer in the note like you did with the other 6. Do you believe killing an unborn child intentionally is okay or not? If not, explain why. It isn't off topic from this discussion. In fact, it is more relevant than your other scenarios.

-- Updated July 24th, 2015, 11:29 am to add the following --

And one final note. If you think it is okay to kill an unborn child but disagree with the rest, then you are the Living Hypocrite.

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Re: Intentional non-defensive killing - Do you always oppose

Post by Grecorivera5150 » July 30th, 2015, 11:30 pm

This quarry is very well written. As a general response you could use some democracy to approach the question. You could do robo call surveys to every phone in the county to to every email address attached to a public utility and provide a link to a video of the trial. Citizens would be able to claim an account created for them at an sanctioned online voting sight if they want to be a part of the voting process. They must click the link and run the video of the trial and then vote guilty or not guilty within a determined time frame after both sides rest their cases.

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Re: Intentional non-defensive killing - Do you always oppose

Post by Chasw » September 1st, 2015, 11:01 am

I draw a distinction on moral and ethical grounds between two general classes of intentionally taking a human life. a) Killing an armed enemy in mortal combat, e.g., even when you are part of a military organization on the offense and b) Killing a human in "cold blood", i.e., the victim is defenseless as in captive or prisoner.

The military killing is OK and necessary so long as non-combatants are respected. Necessary because we live in a dangerous world with predatory nation-states and non-state actors at large. OK because there is no practical way to avoid it.

The cold blooded killing, as in capital punishment is almost impossible to defend on moral grounds. Only when all other alternatives are closed could a legal authority justify a death warrant for an individual, Saddam Hussein and the elected Iraqi government, for example. Even then, all those who were involved in the execution will carry that act on their consciences for the rest of their lives. As a practical matter, society is much better off trying to safely house and even reform its most dangerous criminals, rather than working up a head of steam each time we want to kill one. - CW
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Re: Intentional non-defensive killing - Do you always oppose

Post by LuckyR » September 4th, 2015, 11:10 pm

I don't support the death penalty, not because I oppose killing criminals per se', but for four other reasons: 1- Prosecutors are often corrupt, lazy or mistaken 2- The death penalty is not meted out equally, ie there is bias in it's application 3- It is irreversible when #1 is figured out and they killed the wrong guy 4- But mostly because if the crime was really heinous, it is too lenient of a penalty. I want that criminal to wake up ever day and know that he has lost his freedom, not disappear into the void.
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Re: Intentional non-defensive killing - Do you always oppose

Post by Atreyu » September 14th, 2015, 6:13 am

LuckyR wrote:I don't support the death penalty, not because I oppose killing criminals per se', but for four other reasons: 1- Prosecutors are often corrupt, lazy or mistaken 2- The death penalty is not meted out equally, ie there is bias in it's application 3- It is irreversible when #1 is figured out and they killed the wrong guy 4- But mostly because if the crime was really heinous, it is too lenient of a penalty. I want that criminal to wake up ever day and know that he has lost his freedom, not disappear into the void.
Those are good reasons to oppose the death penalty. But the usual justification I give for opposing it is simply: "two wrongs do not make a right". And this is merely an alternative way of saying that killing is only justified as a means of self-defense....

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