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[ADVANCED DEBATERS ONLY] This house believes in karma

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/27/2012 Category: Religion
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,138 times Debate No: 25299
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (37)
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First round is pro's case being put forward for karma.

I would prefer an very experienced person in philosophy or theology to debate, rather than an amateur, whether or not they believe in karma.

I will accept the idea of karma without a god but the person would need to prove that such a philosophy can fundamentally work.


Karma can be simply stated as how actions now will inevitably affect you later. the moral quality of the actions being considered are the determinant as to how exactly those actions will affect you later.

Point one: the case of karma with a judeo-Christian god is very easy to make: people who are morally just will go to heaven and enjoy eternal bliss, people who are not morally just will go to hell

point two: the case of karma within the Buddhist philosophy and Hindu religion are feasible as the entirety of those two systems is based upon them

point three: Karma can also be indirect and later, my actions need not affect me now and that the idea that all of my actions will have consequences is fundamental to society as displayed by the concept of law, although that only goes so far as to affect only those whose morally unjust actions go against the common good, as such we will divide actions into three sub-categories:

1) criminal actions: morally unjust actions which go against the good of society in general, karma is dealt to the criminals through having to deal with hiding their actions, or suffering actions to a just amount as determined by society

2) morally distasteful actions: actions which benefit oneself at the expense of another, while still within the realm of legality, these actions can sometimes escape the realm of karmic payback for a long time, but people who commit such actions either have a good reason for them as to allow their actions to be condoned or would repeat such actions often enough as to alienate people or even earn some kind of direct retribution

3) morally just actions: the idea that doing good things is rewarding in and of itself, is not new, both spiritually and as new evidence shows, physically, in an online article, Dr. Edward Hoffman says "a study in 1991... surveyed 3,000 volunteers and found a clear relationship between helping and health(1)", can be considered karmic benefit enough, what's more is that people who do good deeds without an obvious incentive, are the kind of people others would be more willing to help, and tend to be happier people in general

Debate Round No. 1


Assume for a moment that there are no objective values. How does this affect us? Mackie (1977:30-35) thinks the main tradition of European moral philosophy and even our everyday language refers to such non-existent objective values. Ian Hinckfuss (1987:3-10) also seeks to define 'morality' as an appeal to the existence of absolute/objective values. Although not everyone does define morality in this way or believe in the absolute/objective nature of their moral claims, Hinckfuss (1987:3) argues that this sense of 'morality' "is very widespread." This claim is supported by empirical investigation (Trainer in Hinckfuss 1987:3,9). But if morality (as Hinckfuss defines it) is based upon non-existent objective values then all moral claims are false: to say „there exists a moral obligation to do x' is false, as no such obligations exist. The logic of this systematic falsehood of moral claims is challenged by what Charles Pigden (2007) calls the Doppelganger Problem, but as Pigden successfully argues, this objection fails. Here is a brief summary of the argument.

If all moral claims are false then the moral claims 'killing is wrong' and 'killing is not wrong' are both false. But this appears to be a contradiction: if it is false that 'killing is wrong' then it is true that 'killing is not wrong.' The solution to this problem is to refine the nihilist‟s claim: we can say that all moral judgements are false provided moral judgements are defined as claims to the existence of objective values. Thus 'killing is wrong' is false if by it one means that the property of 'wrongness' exists and is instantiated by the act of killing. But 'killing is not wrong' is not a moral claim (and so can be true) because it does not claim that any objective values exist. Of course (and this is essential) we must recognise that on this definition 'killing is not wrong' is not equivalent to 'killing is permissible': 'killing is permissible' does make a claim to the existence of an objective value i.e. 'permissibility.' Pigden (2007:451-454) proposes a similar solution: "It is not analytic that actions that are not wrong are morally permissible. For it does not hold in worlds where there are no moral properties, which is precisely that kind of world that nihilists think we inhabit" (Pigden 2007:454)

So, let us grant that claims to the existence of objective values (i.e. moral claims) are all false, and that it is not logically contradictory to say this. Immediately, then, we are faced with a hypothetical imperative: we ought to cease using moral language if we wish to speak the truth. If we grant all the assumptions made so far, then this imperative is undeniably true. But why should we wish to speak the truth? Works of fiction fill our libraries and we do not think we should remove these books because they do not speak the truth. However, the difference is that moral discourse is intended to reach the truth, whereas fairytales have no such intention. I have never yet seen a book on morality that began with the disclaimer: 'the following is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to the way the world actually is is purely coincidental.'
There is, then, at least a prima facie reason to give up moral language, and this is often the first instinct of the moral nihilist. This position is usually referred to as abolitionism. On the other hand, maybe there is some goal more important than truth, e.g. preservation of society. Indeed, many moral nihilists (perhaps including Mackie) seem to have come this far only to blanch at the idea of giving up moral language. Since morality is a fiction, we can make-believe whatever we want about it. This position is usually referred to as moral fictionalism. Now this does sound childish as I have put it but the argument is not (quite) as ridiculous as it sounds. Mackie (1977:107-111) argued that morality is a device that is necessary to counteract men's limited sympathies. Society requires morality in order to keep us working together, co-operating.
[The fiction of morality can] salvage the important role moral discourse is widely thought to play in co-ordinating attitudes and regulating interpersonal conflict in cases where people disagree about what they are to do, especially where collective action is needed or the proposed actions of different people interfere with each other. (Nolan et al. 2005:312)
Although it is a fiction and our first instinct is abolitionism, morality is necessary or at least useful and so we must find a way to preserve it despite its systematic falsity.
In response to this I shall do two things. Firstly, I shall briefly summarise an argument that moral fictionalism is an illogical position that cannot be rationally maintained. If we are given reason to doubt the necessity of morality then we have no need to preserve it in this irrational, fictional form anyway so secondly, in Section Two I shall argue that morality is not necessary or even useful as the fictionalist thinks. Perhaps the opposite is true: that we would be better off without it. The moral nihilist should only be forced into moral fictionalism if she is certain that morality is necessary, and even then she is still in a rather problematic position.

[1] Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, Volume 10


The idea of morality not existing can only hold true if taken under consideration in a non-theistic system, a system where either there is a G-d who does not care about morality, or the absence of a G-d, or the absence of a cosmic force, as the existence of any of the above especially taken within the philosophy of an Abrahamic religion, is quite easy to create a working philosophy.

As to the existence of a karmic idea outside of a theistic system, it is entirely possible to create a working philosophical system without karma:

let us assume that all actions are either good for society, or are bad for society, if an action is good for society then it will be rewarded by society, either as the betterment of ones reputation, or some other reward, if it is bad for society, it may be punished by the law, or affect someone in another negative way. these punishments may not be physical or immediate, but eventually those actions which are detrimental to society will catch up with them.

Also the main tenet of moral nihilism is that nothing is inherently moral or immoral, but all actions inherently have consequence, and as such if you go by a utilitarian viewpoint, all actions must be inherently good or evil
Debate Round No. 2


Utilitarianism assumes that all people (men, women, and children) are created equal. 1=1

Therefore, under Utilitarianism ethics, it is always more valuable and ethical to preach about saving a quantity of people. 5>1

The problem with this though, in general and even in terms of "usefulness", is that all people are not created "equal". 1=10

Little Timmy the retarded child diagnosed with Down Syndrome may be nice and wonderful, but are five Timmys worth as much as the president? 1>5

Personally, I believe that a singular person is often, if not almost always, worth more or less than another. If this is true, which I believe that it is, then not only are people created "unequal", but there is no way that Utilitarianism can be qualified as Just. In fact, reality itself proves that Utilitarianism fails. When the Titanic is going down, women & children are saved first. This implies that they have more worth in general. -- and perhaps they do, but why?

How can you justify objectively determining one's value?

The first problem with utilitarianism is that it is conditional. Utilitarianism is a teleological system that says, "seek to maximize utility", different thinkers have put for different answers to what that that utility is. This makes utilitarianism a conditional system, it only applies so long as the actor agrees with the identified activity, or property that provides utility. If one seeks to maximize pleasure, as Bentham suggests, that's fine, except if I don't want to maximize pleasure the entire system is useless to me. This is a major problem, as an ethical system shouldn't be entirely contingent on an assumption, that happiness is the correct thing to attempt to maximize. David Hume calls this the is ought-problem.

The second, arguably larger issue, is that it's impossible to apply for two reasons. Because utilitarianism attempts to maximize something we must have a way to quantify it, or at least compare two different items to see which is greater. Except how does one quantify pleasure or pain? Bentham proposes a "pleasure calculus" based on 7 attributes of pleasures or pains, but this is really just moving the goal post, how do you compare the intensity of pleasure, of the fecundity of pain? These are impossible, John Stuart Mill suggests there are two types of pleasures, higher and lower, but this is just a further attempt to both ignore the impossibility of comparing pleasures and pains as well create artificial distinctions, grounded not in reason, but in individual intuition. If we can't tell which actions are better, we can't actually make any decisions from our ethical system.

The other issue in the application of utilitarianism is that, even if we could compare pleasures and pains, they're often impossible to predict in advance, or even years later. For example, was the accident at Three Mile Island good or bad? It obviously had devastating effects, but it also was a catalyst for changing nuclear power policy in the US, and even now, 30 years later, we probably can't say whether the benefits in safety policy outweigh the obvious costs.
Because utilitarianism is both logically unsound (it relies on an unproven assumption) and impossibly to realistically implement it is a bad ethical system. I have no understanding of how people try to follow a utilitarian ideology in light of these indisputable flaws.



regardless of whether or not utilitarianism is a valid philosophical framework, the point remains that you can maintain a system of morality without having the objective existence of morality, i.e.. assigning the moral values of "good" and "bad" to properties intrinsic to the idea of "action" the most obvious being consequence with the most well known philosophical framework being utilitarianism. the problems that con raises against utilitarianism is that:

1. That not all people are created equal and it is thus impossible to objectively determine everyones value. This is true, in that Timmy's loving mother probably believes her son to be infinitely more important than the president. But alas, this does not raise the utilitarianism breaking quandary that Con hoped it would. In a utilitarianism framework, it is all about utility or happiness, as one of the key philosophers of utilitarian ethics John Stuart Mill says: "Actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness (1)." As such if there is good reason to believe that the president would after saving him enact bills that would proceed to help millions of people, then it would be morally right to save him at the cost of five Timmy's

2. The second problem is that Con cites that it is not a good ethical system if you don't want to maximize pleasure, this objection is irrelevant as whether or not it is a good ethical system is not in question, but whether or not it is workable. which it is if you wish to maximize happiness.

3. Cons next two objections cite how quantification and prediction of consequences is impossible. Specifically citing the three mile island disaster, which was caused essentially by the negligence of the corporation running the plant, as such the people who made the types of decisions that brought about such negligence would be considered to have committed an immoral act regardless of the fact that it led to tighter nuclear regulation, as they didn't make the decisions they did foreseeing that it would create tighter nuclear policy in America. Utilitarianism cites this immorality because of the Doctrine of Negative Responsibility (1). Which states that we are only responsible for those consequences which could be foreseen and are responsible for the negligence in this regard. Besides the last point, Quantification of happiness need not be exact, only to the point in which the moral agent would be satisfied in the morality of his actions.

Also Karma need not necessarily care about the knowledge of morality only that the morality exists with the action. As I've said, the morality need not have its own objective existence but could be determined by something intrinsic to the existence of an action, or it could even be something arbitrary, I do not pretend to know whether cosmic forces exist or how they work, only that they can work regardless of the moral system it is based upon. To work, Karma need only a few things, some kind of scale as to whether actions are "moral" or "immoral" and some sort of consequence that is caused by those actions whether directly or indirectly

Debate Round No. 3


----------------WARNING! BRUTAL AND GRAPHIC IMAGERY IS SUGGESTED!--------------------------------------------------

If a man rapes his daughter to the point where her bum bleeds, she is gagged so she cannot scream and he does it night after night without anyone's knowledge will he get punished? If he is a psychopath, who literally is impossible to feel guilt for[1], he will just love it. What is the karma there? How can you justify such nonsense while still advocating karma?! Insanity is your only strength. It is is blatant in the very nature of horrible people!

You suggest that there is a force of good menas good happens to you? Why was Gandhi shot?! Why did Steve Jobs get pancreatic cancer? Why did God-fearing Jews get sent to concentration camps (regarding your deity debate). IT is because there is no karma, not fairness, not song and no rhythm to the false sense of jsutice in this world or universe. It is brutal, the kind re walked all over and the evil are the dominators. Disgusting! I DO DARE SAY IT IS REVOLTING IN THE VERY SENSE OF THE WORD!

Revolting: disgusting and repulsive.[2]

That is the thing which startles me. The pro wants to advocate a karma of some sort when such blatant injustice occurs day to day life. Innocent are abused, evil are in power. Don't pretend that you aren't aware of what goes on with Taliban, Al-Qaeda, with the Ming Dynasty, the Viking Invasion of Europe, the Japanese tyranny over China in World War two. It all is apparent. Either there is no wrong, or there is no karma. However, how can there be a way to prove a karma until there is a wrong? This is the paradoxical dilemma that pro has led me to reveal.

Paradoxical: Self-contradictory.[3]



The idea that Karma does not always provide justice is a powerful one, and I do not necesarily advocate for its application on a theological level, although Karma can be part of a logically valid philosophical/theological system, there is also no guarantee that if karma exists, it works on a morality that is similar to or even resembles what humans call morality. Karma can theoretically be an alien who decides what is right and wrong and punishes people accordingly.

And for cons statement questioning how can karma be proved until there is a wrong, is easilly answered, its been mathematically proven that some things can't be proved or disproved, this is Godels incompleteness theorem, so the aim is not to prove that karma exists, but to prove that it could exist within some kind of logical framework
Debate Round No. 4


My opponent doesn't knwo what karma is. It isn't an alien controlling boogldy woodlgey. It is almighty, undeniable deity named God... Maybe Allah... Maybe Jesus... Maybe Vishnu.... Not to know!

NO DOUBT IN MY MIND THAT THIS IS THE FALSENESS OF ALL FALSNESS THAT IS NOT TRUE! if you have doubt perhaps you should realise what is below:

Definition of karma: action, seen as bringing upon oneself inevitable results, good or bad, either in this life or in a reincarnation: in Hinduism one of the means of reaching Brahman.[1]

THIS NO DOUBT MEANS MY OPPONENT (the pro) had BOP for how rebirth is working?! How can aliens influence souls? nonsense.




By Con's own definition karma does not need to involve a soul, it is only action seen as bringing upon oneself inevitable results, good or bad, either in this life or in a reincarnation. It can be through any mechanism imaginable: aliens, a cosmic force, god(s), your neighbor, society. And calling karma a falseness is like calling Hinduism or Buddhism a falseness, and to do so would be the same as calling the idea of the Jewish or Christian god a falseness. Also, proving or disproving karma is along the same lines of proving or disproving god, something that much smarter and more knowledgeable people than con or I have tried and failed to do. In conclusion, Karma regardless on whether or not you believe in the truth of such a basic concept can be part of a framework lacking any fundamental flaws
Debate Round No. 5
37 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by dylancatlow 4 years ago
Consequences of our actions don't qualify as karma because they are not supernatural occurrences. Karma doesn't exist.
Posted by zanzibar123 4 years ago
probably because 4 is a square number
Posted by ishallannoyyo 4 years ago
Once again, RM lost his sh*t in R4, why is it always R4?
Posted by Wiscon 4 years ago
Karma means work in hindi.
So the word Karma means simply our actions or work done by us.
This is how it works, according to me:-
1.we do good,good happens to us
2.we do bad,bad things happen to us
The concept of karma is very complex but i will try to explain it in simple words.
Our luck depends on karma.
simply put,
Suppose there are two points one positive and one negative
when we do good we get positive point
when we do something bad we get negative.
So Karma is what gets us these points
Karma means our actions
So 1 positive cancels 1 negative
and nothing happens
but when there is one positive and 0 negative something good happens to us.
But balance is restored again and either our life becomes normal or some misfourtune happens.

I am just giving my views,i am not a theologist but i know about karma in real sense and not like most other people who take it as a supernatural power.
Karma is not a power it is a function which effects our body and soul
Posted by adontimasu 4 years ago
Never said you are. I was just justifying why someone would want to take a debate they consider difficult. Which is what you asked for, by the way.
Posted by RationalMadman 4 years ago
Dude I am not stupid. If you think I am just think that. I show my critical thinking skills in other ways than going in the deep end of debating.
Posted by adontimasu 4 years ago
To challenge your critical thinking skills and to garner respect from the community. :P
Posted by RationalMadman 4 years ago
That's the point. Why would I pick a difficult debate?
Posted by adontimasu 4 years ago
Furthermore, one cannot advocate karma (properly) without also advocating the concepts of moksha and, by proxy, reincarnation.
Posted by adontimasu 4 years ago
Karma cannot exactly be proven; it is sort of like advocating dualism.
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