The Instigator
MyDinosaurHands
Pro (for)
Winning
7 Points
The Contender
Loveshismom
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

All Human Actions are Taken Through Self-Interest

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
MyDinosaurHands
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/12/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 578 times Debate No: 52326
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (1)
Votes (2)

 

MyDinosaurHands

Pro

I believe that every action a human being has ever taken has been motivated by self-interest.

My opponent should argue that at least some human actions occur without self-interest (or just selfishness if you'd prefer) as the motivator.

Any arguments that get all nitpicky involving some kind of out there scenarios with mind control or whatever should not be counted when determining the better arguments. My opponent may talk about coercion, like a gun to the head type scenario, but any scenario where the person in question loses a sense of consciousness or awareness of self should not be considered legitimate.

First Round will be for Acceptance.
Loveshismom

Con

I accept. State your case.
Debate Round No. 1
MyDinosaurHands

Pro

I submit that all human actions are taken through self-interest. At the heart of every reason for doing something, there exists self-interest.

Perhaps you first think of actions that you take that you really don't want to. For instance, running. I am a runner, and most runners I talk to don't love the run itself. Most of us don't actually want to run for the run itself. But that does not mean we don't want to run. When we make the decision to go out for a run despite our loathing for the exhaustion to come, it is because of the sense of accomplishment that comes after. In this example we can see that we do indeed go out for a run through self-interest; we want to have that good after run feeling. This example can apply to anything that is a painful investment. It may not seem like a selfish move to do something tiring to oneself, except for the fact that one does the tiring or unpleasant things to get the pay-off.

Next I'd like to talk about actions that seem to come about through a need to conform. For instance, school. While school can also be considered a pay-off type action, I believe most people aren't motivated to view something like school as an investment, and even if they view it that way, they don't treat it that way. You don't go to school because you want to, you go to school because you want to avoid punishment and the ostracizing feeling that comes from non-conformity in a society that stresses conformity. So in the end, the action of going to school is done through a sense of self-interest--self interest in avoiding negative consequences. This can apply to any scenario where one wouldn't do something if not for some kind of punishment. The want to avoid punishment of oneself is an emotion fueled by self-interest.

Some people may claim that philanthropists and people who maintain a humble attitude are not acting in self-interest, but rather they are acting in a selfless manner. On the outside, this may or may not appear so, but as with all things, the core of the reasoning behind their actions is the need to feel good, or at least avoid feeling bad--actions purely in self-interest. If you donate to charities it is because you have been lead to believe that this is a good thing, and therefore you feel good about yourself doing this. Every time you refrain from throwing down a smashing comeback on somebody, it's because you'd feel bad about throwing that thing down, and so even though you aren't happy about not getting that rush from making someone look silly and yourself look better, you get that feeling inside that you are a good person. This satisfies yourself, and therefore your self-interest is seen again. People who refrain from bragging or acknowledging lofty praise do so because to brag or acknowledge would make them feel too arrogant for comfort. They refrain to feel good about themselves, and therefore act in self-interest.

In short, whether it be to avoid feeling bad, to feel good, or a bit of both, we humans always act in the interest of ourselves.
Loveshismom

Con

Loveshismom forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
Loveshismom

Con

Loveshismom forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
MyDinosaurHands

Pro

End debate.
Loveshismom

Con

Loveshismom forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Hematite12 3 years ago
Hematite12
Does advancing the species as a whole count as self interest, even if the individual is sacrificed for the purpose?
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Romanii 3 years ago
Romanii
MyDinosaurHandsLoveshismomTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: How unfortunate... Pro presented a really interesting case, and I would have really liked to see this debate go through.
Vote Placed by Xerge 3 years ago
Xerge
MyDinosaurHandsLoveshismomTied
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit