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The Contender
Pro (for)
11 Points

Absolute morals

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/30/2014 Category: Religion
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 739 times Debate No: 53691
Debate Rounds (2)
Comments (4)
Votes (2)




Like most philosophical concepts, morality was created by man. If you claim that there was a higher power involved, why don't we see morality in nature? In the animal kingdom? If god is the architect of all life, why would he give morals to man and not animals? how do we know that morals are objective. Your argument of summum bonum could be challanged by Aristotle's words: ,,will one who has had a vision of the Idea itself become thereby a better doctor or general?"
Morality is subjective on the individual level, but in a civilized democratic society, the majority rules. If the majority deems something to be moral, then it forms the basis of morality and takes precedence over any individuals convictions. This serves as the basis for common law.
The collective wisdom is ALWAYS supersede the individuals' convictions or opinions.
I believe that peanut butter is the best flavor of milkshake, but it's irrelevant because my opinion should not be taken as gospel, nor should the opinion of any other individual (especially when it pertains to fetal homicide).


Let me start by giving refutations, instead of mixing it up I will make issues and address the issues in a systematic manner: this will I hope allow better clarity this time around. For those who just joined as viewers this debate is a continuation of the debate between Benjamin and I, which finished around an hour ago. That debate may be found here:

While it was about God, the contention between us is whether morals are in fact absolute (premise 2 of the first post). This debate was started also because Benjamin read my essay: and would like to now move forward.

I thank Benjamin for initiating this debate, and I thank every gracious member of who will invest his/her time in reading our arguments. I hope we all have a lot of fun, and of course may reach a solution.

Now on the issues:

1. "Like most philosophical concepts, morality was created by man"
This is a claim laid down by Benjamin, one he has not elucidated upon properly. Onus probandi: he must prove this claim. I give a counter claim: no philosophical concept, insofar as this concept is the object and not the subjective organic understanding (Benjamin did not clear the definition) then it transcends time and space. Humans cannot create anything really, they can mould different objects using the power of imagination to create new objects. (see previous discussion). My entire argument of innate dreams has been left untackled (though I will go through it below, which should provide a better refutation to this issue)

2."Why do we not see morality in nature"
Actually we do see morality in nature, or so a University of Colorado's Professor argues. He states that animals indeed are hard-wired with a certain moral code which they follow. This however is still irrelevant as morality is different for animals and humans, humans are a highly evolved species (unless you do not believe in evolution, in which case you would already believe in God and this debate would be redundant, eh Benji), regardless however, they are the species with the neo-cortex part of the brain, for humans morality is much more complex.

3. "Aristotle's words"
I have already requested you to not answer this way, please elucidate how it has been challenged, this quote is so out of context I really do not understand how it makes the highest good redundant.

4. "Democratic Society"
I have already told you not to make the "is-ought" mistake, society does not decide what ought it decides what is. If you believe society decides what ought then this is a claim you will have to prove. Also I have already presented evidence of how morality is based on intention (I will do so again below) and how it cannot be realized by empirical means. Also law is not morality, let us understand that law depends on actus, and mens rea while morality bases itself on mens rea. Similarly I gave you the example of how if your 6 year old brother spent all day baking you a cake but burnt it, he shall be a bad cook, but not an immoral one. I told you that there is a definitive difference between goodness and morality. Where goodness is concerned with productivity, morality is concerned with intention. Not to mention you are advocating that a democratic country is always right, when in the past we have seen they can be quite idiotic e.g. Iraq War, Vietnam War, World War 1, World War 2, et cetera.

5. "Peanut Butter"
[You must give me the recipe]
Please tell me what bases you have to analogize morality with taste. It seems quite, Nonetheless your opinion (of morality) will not be taken as the Gospel Truth because you are not God, you are bound by time and space, and are of course of limited reasoning, such that whatever you come up with will only be a construct of innate knowledge. This innate knowledge which you possess contains the absolute morals.

Now on to my positive case:

1. Firstly let us remember what we have already spoken about: the two cases of knowledge. The first is a posteriori and the second is innate. A posteriori is empirical knowledge and the conditions of this knowledge are a priori (time, space, and number). The second is innate and this transcends a priori, it is itself a priori. We do not learn the concept of time, we have it, for without it any knowledge would be redundant (empirical)(See Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant). Now I argue that morality is based on intention: my example of the nephew. For if morality was not based on intention then the concept of goodness should not need to exist. Also goodness does not promise the summum bonum: morality promises happiness out of virtue. Now if morality is based on intention then it cannot be based on empirical means, which would mean it is innate. if it is innate then it must transcend the boundaries of time and be absolute.

2. My second argument was that morals have different forms. These forms are limited: homosexuality can be considered moral, it can be considered immoral, it can be considered moral under certain circumstances. Very simply morals move up and down a finite list. An infinite regress cannot exist, therefore the list must have a top, the top would be of absolute morality,

3. The Argument from Innate Dreams made Further. Let us understand that humans cannot construct knowledge, even if morality was empirical, even though it is not, it would be absolute. For our image of aliens, or Pokemon show us that humans' highest cognition is reason, and imagination. In both of these one must start from something, and move further. Imagination is simply the decaying though of reality. Reason is restricted by time, space and number. So it is quite plausible that humans would construct foolish morals, which are bound by time and space simply so they could associate further with it. However that does not change that the morals started from one form: the true form of absolute morality,

I believe this alongside my past arguments, the essay and the fact that Benjamin has not refuted my claims properly demand of the voters my win. I urge you to realize the truth in my words.

Benjamin I hope you are able to systematically refute my claims this time. Good luck!

PS. Here are some helpful sources: ( I am not advocating all these sources I am simply pointing out their relevance, hence the post script)
Debate Round No. 1


Firstly, I quoted Aristotle's words in order to challange your claim of Summum bonum coming as not a reward but also ,,excellence, striving towards a higher power, to transcendence'. Understanding Aristotle is the first step in realizing that in fact the quote is in context. As it questions your idea of why acceptance of it would affect our own view on morality. God making rules doesn't provide more absolutism than me making rules. Consider the Euthyphro dilemma. If things are good because He says so, that's arbitrary (because He had no prior obligations to make certain choices, so there's nothing to respect about them objectively); if He says things are good because they are, He relies on an external standard to which we can appeal in principle. Don't fool for the "being good is his nature" response, either. Is X good because it's in God's nature, or vice versa? I guess another question that could be asked is if there is a god, how do we know what he/she considers to be moral? Christians may answer "it's in the Bible", but anyone who has read the Bible knows it's full of highly questionable morality. And it often contradicts itself. Absolute is something for sure, unequivocal, unambiguous - something that is not veiwed as partial or relative, in otherwords it is real, tangible, and obervable by nature - it's defintion does not need to be qualified by anyone because it is what it is, hence, absolute.
People associate values and morals from the context of society. Many religions derive their values from their ancient societies, and one set for one group is not constant across other groups. This is one of the beautiful aspects of different cultures and learning something new, no matter how odd it may initially feel.
The concept of stealing is not absolute for the very reality that there have been and is now, communal societies where sharing is so inherent that the concept of stealing is impossible. Many Native Americans engaged in theis system. Stealing only grew to be an outcome of "private ownesership" a ideal releatively new, that began with the modern world. Wealth, ownership, property, stealing, adultery, and many of the others rules stated by the Abrahamic religions are products of a philosophy that created ownership. If nothing is owned, then nothing can be stolen. Marriage, owning of another (it is) has a counterpart, adultery. This may seem odd, but marriage is an institution created by modern man - it has not always been the mold so to speak, and takes on many different forms throughout the world.
There are no moral absolutes. There are not many absolutes any of us are sure of for that matter. You cannot ignore the fact that when something is done one way here it is done another way there. The world is different all around, hence, no absoulte. Mankind tries its best to find structure and stability - these are the reasons for many institutions: government, marriage, power, ownership, don't forget these are man-made, they are not some invariable consequesnce of nature or existence - they do change, will change, and have changed - many and often. Being a human our objectives are to preserve our existence, hence, we don't like death, so the humaistic option is not to do it; but don't confuse this with a "moral absolute", but rather understand it for what it is - a form of cooperation.
Just remember, even Newton thought space was absolute until Einstein came along and prove it wasn't. Like many things in this world/life, everything is relativistic. It's all relative.
Those who claim absolutes I feel are closed-minded and inflexible. They wish to put all their eggs in one basket and to ignore all others. This deifes the essential beauty of the human experience, of life itself. You have one chance, one time on this Earth - it's all that we have and there are so many wonderful things to see an experience. Laws, and cooperative rules formed by society are good to adhere to, but you can see for yourself- in you example about stealing food - how things are relative. A starving man's need to eat food for survival is a perfect example of how things are not absolute, because the game changes for his needs to survive. You can find example likes this all throughout life.


Let me start with the rebuttals:

1. Your quote of Aristotle is still out of context, I do not understand how it connects to the topic, perhaps if you had given a sources then I would have read the paragraph and understood it; you however presented no source. As I do not fully get what the quote was I do not understand how it challenges summum bonum: however I can tell you that morality leads a person so that happiness is attained from virtue, this in itself is human transcendence.

2, The difference between morality coming from God, and morality coming from you has a tremendous difference, as you are confined to human reason, a priori and empirical knowledge. You are neither omnipotent nor are you omniscient. As for quoting Euthyphro's Dilemma you must realize you are arguing besides the point. The argument I lay forth has nothing to do with God in the premise. Remember I stated that morality is absolute, and my argument for that was both ontological, logical and synthetic a priori. You have not directly tackled my arguments, you have provided a counter. But still the reason Euthyphro's Dilemma does not play out here is because we assume only one God ( I most certainly was arguing for 1). And so the issue of division is removed and Socrates will be happy. Not to mention God is by definition good (see Theodice by Leibniz) and his opposite is Satan. It is perfectly logical to argue that morality comes from God. Needless to say my argument doesn't say that, it says morality is innate, something you did not tackle.

3. I never spoke of the Bible or of religion in general. As for how we can understand absolute morals, how to realize them , I will not take the added burden. My argument was:
1. If there is an objective law, then there is a God
2. There is an objective moral law,
3. There is a God

In such the sub argument was of the second premise of innate and ontology. This was what you had to tackle however did not.

4. As for you giving the democratic structure such great authority you did not tackle the point of how there is a difference between goodness and morality and how morality is based on intention. You did not tell me how morals are based on empirical means.

I feel Benji ( I have his permission to call him that) you ran a parallel debate, I gave my arguments and you left them untouched while I systematically refuted each of your claims, even when they were red herrings. I feel that my entire argument was not engaged and as the Opposition if you failed to show the absurdity within my logic, my argument will be assumed correct.

Lastly, in the perhaps 5 or 6 rounds we have had, Benji, I have had great fun. I hope to debate you another time, and surely you no longer despise me either.
Debate Round No. 2
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by Ajab 2 years ago
No Benji is lying, no text was copied. It was his original, please disregard him and vote for me because of my coolness, not his comment, :P
Posted by benko12345678 2 years ago
Hey everyone, I would just like to tell you that some of the text in my argument was copied. I'm sorry to admit it but it's true. I had to do this to make it up to Ajab for thinking he copied something on my debate
Posted by Ajab 2 years ago
Thats the concept of debates, not to mention you had 4756 characters left :P.
Posted by benko12345678 2 years ago
I'm sorry I didn't refute you entirely, the fact was that the only way to do so was to write my own thesis.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Poetaster 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: I'm giving the points to Pro here, but, in the cliched words used by Con, "it's all relative": Pro's arguments suffered from a lack of actual demonstration and several mishandled ideas, among them his incorrect description of the is-ought problem. His case consisted mostly of assertions rather than arguments (e.g. "morality is concerned with intention", "morality promises happiness out of virtue", etc.), naively applying a definition of "morality" without defense. Yet he still used the word "morals" to refer to false human constructs; he's meant to be arguing against that usage. But Con's case was definitely worse, and Pro successfully pointed out a few of its flaws. Con used generally poor spelling and writing while seeming to ignore the resolution.
Vote Placed by AdamKG 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: This was a fascinating debate and I enjoyed reading it immensely. I also enjoyed reading Ajab's "The Absoluteness of Morality" (I should have read it before reading the debate). Both debaters were excellent, but Ajab clearly has the edge here in having a more convincing argument. Ajab used his paper and Immanuel Kant's work as his sources. Con put forth good effort, but was only using his own knowledge for his arguments.