Consequential framework destroys intrinsic value to life- they reduce human life to a calculable object

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Gonzaga Debate Institute 2013


Deontology Good

Consequentialism Kills VTL

Consequential framework destroys intrinsic value to life- they reduce human life to a calculable object.

Grisez, professor of Christian ethics @ Mount Saint Mary’s College and Shaw, Director of public information at Knights of Columbus, 94

(Germain and Russell, Absolutism and its Consequentialist Critics, ed. Haber, p. 25-26)

If there are no ethical absolutes, human persons, rather than being¶ the norm and source from which other things receive their value,¶ become simply items or commodities with a relative value-- inviolable¶ only up to the point at which it is expedient to violate them in order to¶ achieve an objective. It would then make no sense at all to speak of¶ the immeasurable value of the human person from being. Far from being immeasurable—that is, ¶ beyond calculation—the value of a person would be quite specific and quantifiable, something to be weighed in the balance¶ against other values.

Utilitarianism destroys human dignity - Treats people as means to an end

Grisez, professor of Christian ethics @ Mount Saint Mary’s College and Shaw, Director of public information at Knights of Columbus, 94

(Germain Gabriel and Russell, Beyond the New Morality: The Responsibilities of Freedom p 28)

One arrives at a different judgment of how one ought to proceed in such circumstances if human life is regarded, not as one of the things of relative value which a person has, but as an intrinsic component of the person, and so as a value which shares in the dignity of the person. In denying that we can choose to kill one person for the sake of two, we really are denying that two persons are "worth" twice as much as some other real person. On this view it is simply not possible to make the sort of calculation which weighs persons against each other (my life is more valuable than John's life, John's life is more valuable than Mary's and Tom's combined, or vice versa) and thus to determine whose life shall be respected and whose sacrificed. The value of each human person is incalculable, not in any merely poetic sense, but simply because it is not susceptible to calculation, measurement, weighing, and balancing. Traditionally this point has been expressed by the statement that the end does not justify the means. This is a way of saying that the direct violation of any good intrinsic to the person cannot be justified by the good result which such a violation may bring about. What is extrinsic to human persons may be used for the good of persons, but what is intrinsic to persons has a kind of sacredness and may not be violated.

Utilitarianism Justifies Atrocities

Deontology comes first, the means must justify themselves – utilitarianism justifies any atrocity.

Anderson, National Director of Probe Ministries International 2004

(Kerby, “Utilitarianism: The Greatest Good for the Greatest Number”

One problem with utilitarianism is that it leads to an "end justifies the means" mentality. If any worthwhile end can justify the means to attain it, a true ethical foundation is lost. But we all know that the end does not justify the means. If that were so, then Hitler could justify the Holocaust because the end was to purify the human race. Stalin could justify his slaughter of millions because he was trying to achieve a communist utopia. The end never justifies the means. The means must justify themselves. A particular act cannot be judged as good simply because it may lead to a good consequence. The means must be judged by some objective and consistent standard of morality. Second, utilitarianism cannot protect the rights of minorities if the goal is the greatest good for the greatest number. Americans in the eighteenth century could justify slavery on the basis that it provided a good consequence for a majority of Americans. Certainly the majority benefited from cheap slave labor even though the lives of black slaves were much worse. A third problem with utilitarianism is predicting the consequences. If morality is based on results, then we would have to have omniscience in order to accurately predict the consequence of any action. But at best we can only guess at the future, and often these educated guesses are wrong. A fourth problem with utilitarianism is that consequences themselves must be judged. When results occur, we must still ask whether they are good or bad results. Utilitarianism provides no objective and consistent foundation to judge results because results are the mechanism used to judge the action itself.inviolability is intrinsically valuable.

Without absolute side constraints against violating human dignity, utilitarianism becomes a justification for slavery, torture, and murder.

Clifford, Professor of Philosophy @ Mississippi State University, 11

[Michael, Spring, “MORAL LITERACY”, Volume 11, Issue 2,, Accessed 7-6-13, ABS]

Whether or not you believe in individual rights, whether or not you are convinced by arguments one way or another about the metaphysical grounds of rights, we can all appreciate the idea that any ethics should recognize the fundamental dignity of human beings. This is precisely what worries critics of utilitarianism, that it may require us to violate that dignity, for some at least, if doing so will promote the greatest happiness. But to violate human dignity is to ignore or to misunderstand the very point of ethics. For the deontologist, such as Kant, we have a duty not to violate human dignity, even if it causes us pain, even if the consequences fail to maximize the overall happiness. The inviolate character of human dignity is expressed most practically by the idea that we have certain basic rights (whatever the source of rights are, whether natural or by convention). John Locke defined rights as “prima facie entitlements,” which means that anyone who would restrict my rights bears the burden of proving that there are good reasons for doing so. For example, the right to private property is sometimes trumped by the principle of eminent domain, provided that I too stand to gain by seizure of my land. My right to free speech is limited by the harm it might cause by, say, shouting “fire!” in a crowded theatre. There are times when we feel justified in limiting or abrogating certain positive rights for the common good, but even here no social outcome justifies torture, slavery, murder, or any action which violates my fundamental human dignity. Deontological ethics assumes there to be a line that cannot be crossed, regardless of the consequences.

Utilitarianism can be manipulated to justify any atrocity – their framework condones mass slaughter.

Holt, commentator for the BBC, writes frequently about politics and philosophy 1995

(Jim, New York Times, “Morality, Reduced To Arithmetic,” August 5, p. Lexis)

Can the deliberate massacre of innocent people ever be condoned? The atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Aug. 6 and 9, 1945, resulted in the deaths of 120,000 to 250,000 Japanese by incineration and radiation poisoning. Although a small fraction of the victims were soldiers, the great majority were noncombatants -- women, children, the aged. Among the justifications that have been put forward for President Harry Truman’s decision to use the bomb, only one is worth taking seriously -- that it saved lives. The alternative, the reasoning goes, was to launch an invasion. Truman claimed in his memoirs that this would have cost another half a million American lives. Winston Churchill put the figure at a million. Revisionist historians have cast doubt on such numbers. Wartime documents suggest that military planners expected around 50,000 American combat deaths in an invasion. Still, when Japanese casualties, military and civilian, are taken into account, the overall invasion death toll on both sides would surely have ended up surpassing that from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Scholars will continue to argue over whether there were other, less catastrophic ways to force Tokyo to surrender. But given the fierce obstinacy of the Japanese militarists, Truman and his advisers had some grounds for believing that nothing short of a full-scale invasion or the annihilation of a big city with an apocalyptic new weapon would have succeeded. Suppose they were right. Would this prospect have justified the intentional mass killing of the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? In the debate over the question, participants on both sides have been playing the numbers game. Estimate the hypothetical number of lives saved by the bombings, then add up the actual lives lost. If the first number exceeds the second, then Truman did the right thing; if the reverse, it was wrong to have dropped the bombs. That is one approach to the matter -- the utilitarian approach. According to utilitarianism, a form of moral reasoning that arose in the 19th century, the goodness or evil of an action is determined solely by its consequences. If somehow you can save 10 lives by boiling a baby, go ahead and boil that baby. There is, however, an older ethical tradition, one rooted in Judeo-Christian theology, that takes a quite different view. The gist of it is expressed by St. Paul’s condemnation of those who say, “Let us do evil, that good may come.” Some actions, this tradition holds, can never be justified by their consequences; they are absolutely forbidden. It is always wrong to boil a baby even if lives are saved thereby. Applying this absolutist morality to war can be tricky. When enemy soldiers are trying to enslave or kill us, the principle of self-defense permits us to kill them (though not to slaughter them once they are taken prisoner). But what of those who back them? During World War II, propagandists made much of the “indivisibility” of modern warfare: the idea was that since the enemy nation’s entire economic and social strength was deployed behind its military forces, the whole population was a legitimate target for obliteration. “There are no civilians in Japan,” declared an intelligence officer of the Fifth Air Force shortly before the Hiroshima bombing, a time when the Japanese were popularly depicted as vermin worthy of extermination. The boundary between combatant and noncombatant can be fuzzy, but the distinction is not meaningless, as the case of small children makes clear. Yet is wartime killing of those who are not trying to harm us always tantamount to murder? When naval dockyards, munitions factories and supply lines are bombed, civilian carnage is inevitable. The absolutist moral tradition acknowledges this by a principle known as double effect: although it is always wrong to kill innocents deliberately, it is sometimes permissible to attack a military target knowing some noncombatants will die as a side effect. The doctrine of double effect might even justify bombing a hospital where Hitler is lying ill. It does not, however, apply to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Transformed into hostages by the technology of aerial bombardment, the people of those cities were intentionally executed en masse to send a message of terror to the rulers of Japan. The practice of ordering the massacre of civilians to bring the enemy to heel scarcely began with Truman. Nor did the bomb result in casualties of a new order of magnitude. The earlier bombing of Tokyo by incendiary weapons killed some 100,000 people. What Hiroshima and Nagasaki did mark, by the unprecedented need for rationalization they presented, was the triumph of utilitarian thinking in the conduct of war. The conventional code of noncombatant immunity -- a product of several centuries of ethical progress among nations, which had been formalized by an international commission in the 1920’s in the Hague -- was swept away. A simpler axiom took its place: since war is hell, any means necessary may be used to end, in Churchill’s words, “the vast indefinite butchery.” It is a moral calculus that, for all its logical consistency, offends our deep-seated intuitions about the sanctity of life -- our conviction that a person is always to be treated as an end, never as a means. Left up to the warmakers, moreover, utilitarian calculations are susceptible to bad-faith reasoning: tinker with the numbers enough and virtually any atrocity can be excused in the national interest. In January, the world commemorated the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, where mass slaughter was committed as an end in itself -- the ultimate evil. The moral nature of Hiroshima is ambiguous by contrast. Yet in the postwar era, when governments do not hesitate to treat the massacre of civilians as just another strategic option, the bomb’s sinister legacy is plain: it has inured us to the idea of reducing innocents to instruments and morality to arithmetic.

Side Constraints

Even if we should evaluate consequences, there should be absolute side constraints on deliberately harming innocent people.

Fried, Professor of law @ Harvard, 94

(Charles, Absolutism and its Consequentialist Critics, ed. Haber, p. 74)

The opposing conception of right and wrong, the conception that there are some things we must not do no matter what good we hope to accomplish, has always stood as a provocation and a scandal to consequentialism. If a state of the world is the best possible state and we bring it about at the least possible cost, what else can matter? Yet the opposing conception (the deontological) holds that how one achieves one's goals has a moral significance which is not subsumed in¶ the importance and magnitude of the goals. Whether we get to the¶ desired end state by deliberately hurting innocent people, by violating their rights, by lies and violence, is intensely important. And yet the deontologist does not deny that states of the world are sources of value and even agrees that the good inherent in states of the world (including¶ our own states of mind) is the only good. If a happy state of the world existed that had been brought about through wrong and violation of right, and if those wrongs could no longer be righted, there is nothing that says that this happiness would not count as real happiness and should not be enjoyed; still, if this happiness had been ours to choose only by wrongful means, we would have had to wave it away. We would have to wave it away because right and wrong are the foundations of our moral personality. We choose our goods, but if what we choose is to have value as a good, then the entity doing the choosing must have value, and the process of choice must be such that what¶ comes out of it has value. In the view I shall elaborate, right and wrong have an independent and overriding status because they establish our basic position as freely choosing entities. That is why nothing we choose can be more important than the ground'—right and wrong—for our choosing. Right and wrong are the expressions of respect for persons—respect for others and self-respect.

You should never commit a sure evil to avoid a possible one- consequentialist logic can be manipulated, and other actions can be taken to mitigate or avoid their disads.

Gewirth, Professor of Philosophy @ The University of Chicago, 84

(Alan, Absolutism and its Consequentialist Critics, ed. Haber, p. 138-139)

6. There is, however, another side to this story. What of the thousands of innocent persons in the distant city whose lives are imperilled by the threatened nuclear explosion? Don't they too have rights to life which, because of their numbers, are far superior to the mother's right? May they not contend that while it is all very well for Abrams to preserve his moral purity by not killing his mother, he has no right to purchase this at the expense of their lives, thereby treating them as mere means to his ends and violating their own rights? Thus it may be argued that the morally correct description of the alternative confront- ing Abrams is not simply that it is one of not violating or violating an innocent person's right to life, but rather not violating one innocent person's right to life and thereby violating the right to life of thousands of other innocent persons through being partly responsible for their deaths, or violating one innocent person's right to life and thereby protecting or fulfilling the right to life of thousands of other innocent persons. We have here a tragic conflict of rights and an illustration of the heavy price exacted by moral absolutism. The aggregative conse- quentialist who holds that that action ought always to be performed which maximizes utility or minimizes disutility would maintain that in such a situation the lives of the thousands must be preferred.¶ An initial answer may be that terrorists who make such demands and issue such threats cannot be trusted to keep their word not to drop the bombs if the mother is tortured to death; and even if they now do keep their word, acceding in this case would only lead to further escalated demands and threats. It may also be argued that it is¶ irrational to perpetrate a sure evil in order to forestall what is so far only a possible or threatened evil. Philippa Foot has sagely commented on cases of this sort that if it is the son's duty to kill his mother in order to save the lives of the many other innocent residents of the city, then "anyone who wants us to do something we think wrong has only to threaten that otherwise he himself will do something we think worse".8 Much depends, however, on the nature of the "wrong" and the "worse". If someone threatens to commit suicide or to kill inno- cent hostages if we do not break our promise to do some relatively unimportant action, breaking the promise would be the obviously right course, by the criterion of degrees of necessity for action. The special difficulty of the present case stems from the fact that the conflicting rights are of the same supreme degree of importance.¶ It may be contended, however, that this whole answer, focusing on the probable outcome of obeying the terrorists' demands, is a conse- quentialist argument and, as such, is not available to the absolutist who insists that Abrams must not torture his mother to death whatever the consequences.9 This contention imputes to the absolutist a kind of indifference or even callousness to the sufferings of others that is not warranted by a correct understanding of his position. He can be concerned about consequences so long as he does not regard them as possibly superseding or diminishing the right and duty he regards as absolute. It is a matter of priorities. So long as the mother's right not to be tortured to death by her son is unqualifiedly respected, the absolutist can seek ways to mitigate the threatened disastrous consequences and possibly to avert them altogether. A parallel case is found in the theory of legal punishment: the retributivist, while asserting that punishment must be meted out only to the persons who deserve it because of the crimes they have committed, may also uphold punish- ment for its deterrent effect so long as the latter, consequentialist consideration is subordinated to and limited by the conditions of the former, antecedentalist consideration.' Thus the absolutist can accommodate at least part of the consequentialist's substantive concerns within the limits of his own principle.

Intervening Action

The principle of intervening action means we aren’t morally culpable for the reaction or backlash of other parties.

Alan Gewirth, Professor of Philosophy @ The University of Chicago, 1982

(“Human Rights: Essay on Justification and Application.” Pg. 230)

The required supplement is provided by the principle of intervening action. According to this principle, when there is a casual connection between some person A’s performing some action (or inaction) X and some other person C’s incurring a certain harm Z, A’s moral responsibility for Z is removed if, between X and Z, there intervenes some other action Y of some person B who knows the relevant circumstances of his action and who intends to produce Z or who produces Z through recklessness. The reason for this removal is that B’s intervening action Y is more direct of proximate cause of Z and, unlike A’s action (or inaction), Y is the sufficient condition of Z as it actually occurs. An example of this principle may help to show its connection with the absolutist thesis. Martin Luther King Jr. was repeatedly told that because he led demonstrations in support of civil rights, he was morally responsible for the disorders, riots, and deaths that ensued and that were shaking the American Republic to its foundations. By the principle of intervening action, however, it was King’s opponents who were responsible because their intervention operated as the sufficient conditions of the riots and injuries. King might also have replied that the Republic would not be worth saving if the price that had to be paid was the violation of the civil rights of black Americans. As for the rights of the other Americans to peace and order, the reply would be that these rights cannot justifiably be secured at the price of the rights of blacks.

Critical Consequentialism

You should adopt critical consequentialism- examine every possible alternative before taking unethical action. This is the only way to avoid atrocities.
Blum, Assistant Professor of Law at Harvard, 2008

[Gabriella, “The Laws of War and the ‘Lesser Evil,’” Harvard Law School Faculty Scholarship Series, Paper 24,, Accessed 7/11/13]

To be truly justified, a net utilitarian calculation is insufficient; the¶ actor, instead, must be able to show that she had chosen the least possible¶ harmful mean that could avert the greater evil, without jeopardizing the¶ success of the military mission. This further condition is intended to¶ supplement the causal connection between the violation and the aversion of¶ harm and to ensure that the lesser evil justification is not used to mask¶ unnecessary atrocities.¶ The domestic necessity defense does not require this condition; instead,¶ it offers only a vague proportionality test. The joint necessity-duress clause¶ in the ICC Rome Statute includes a similarly broader test, namely that “the¶ person acts necessarily and reasonably to avoid this threat.” Both the¶ domestic necessity and the ICC necessity operate only when the defendant¶ has acted against an imminent threat. But where a government chooses in an¶ non-imminent, premeditated decision to break the law, it supposedly can¶ and should assess the full ramifications of the violation, including by¶ considering less harmful means, whether legal or illegal themselves.¶ In the Early Warning case, the High Court of Justice addressed the¶ possible use of loudspeakers as an alternative to the reliance on civilians.¶ The IDF’s position, to recall, was that the use of loudspeakers would call¶ attention to the forces operating, thereby increasing the risk of all-round¶ escalation. It is unclear to what extent this alternative affected the final¶ decision of the judges, and whether the Court ultimately struck down the¶ procedure despite deferring to the IDF’s judgment on this particular issue.¶ The use of torture, so it is commonly agreed by those who are willing to¶ accept it as necessary under certain circumstances, must be restricted to¶ those cases where a similar outcome could not be achieved by any other¶ means. Consequently, if any less harmful measure (for instance, detention,¶ the taking of hostages, or even the threat of using torture) would have had a¶ similar probability of success, torture would be unjustifiable.¶ This requirement would also exclude certain atrocities from¶ consideration under the humanitarian necessity paradigm altogether.¶ Consider, for instance, the crime of rape: It is impossible to imagine any¶ scenario in which the raping of an individual would be the least harmful¶ way to achieve a certain goal. If anything less than killing is possible, there¶ must be a range of less harmful means to avert the harm the infliction of¶ which is allowed under the law.¶ The less harmful means requirement casts the largest shadow over the¶ attacks on Hiroshima, and particularly, Nagasaki. Was it indeed impossible¶ to avert Operation Downfall by using less disastrous means? Or were some¶ scientists, who argued that inviting UN representatives for a live¶ demonstration of the explosion in the desert, correct in arguing that this¶ option had to be tried out first, before dropping the bomb on densely¶ populated cities? Does the insistence of the Emperor on conditional¶ surrender even after the widespread firebombing of Tokyo and the invasion¶ of Okinawa prove that there were no other options? Did the conditions set¶ by the Emperor warrant the continuation of the war? Could the use of¶ nuclear weapons ever be justified under the “least harmful requirement”¶ condition?
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