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The Contender
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All Human Acts are Selfish

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/18/2014 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,569 times Debate No: 60637
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (22)
Votes (1)




Dear lannan13,
I have decided to challenge you to this debate in response to your comment on my previous debate (now canceled) called 'Choose the Topic'. You, my opponent, will be arguing that 'all human acts are selfish'. I will be arguing that the aforementioned statement is untrue. The BoP is shared - whoever presents the most convincing arguments wins. First, I shall provide some definitions from

all - adjective - the whole, entire, total amount, quantity, or extent of
human - adjective - of, relating to, or affecting people
acts - noun, plural - something that is done
selfish - adjective - having or showing concern only for yourself and not for the needs or feelings of other people

First round is for acceptance and agreements/disagreements with the above definitions.



I accept.

As we stated in the comments section we have a new definition for selfish. To satisfy one's personal needs or feelings.
Debate Round No. 1


Dear lannan13,
Thank you for accepting the debate. As seen in my opponent's previous statement, the definition of selfish has been changed by lannan13 to 'to satisfy one's personal needs or feelings'. I shall now proceed to my argument.

As the BoP is shared, my opponent must show that all human acts are selfish, while I must show that not all human acts are selfish. As the word 'all' means "the whole, entire, total amount, quantity, or extent of" (see above), I must show that only one human act is not selfish in order to win the debate. However, many human actions are not selfish. These include, but are not limited to:

1. Being killed by an assassin's bullet
2. Tripping on a rock
3. Being punched in the face

I shall now show how each of the above actions prove that all human actions are not selfish.

Human - A human can be killed by a bullet, trip on a rock, and be punched in the face.
Act - All of the above numbered statements are actions.
Selfish - None of the above statements satisfy one's personal needs or feelings. Being killed is neither a need nor a want (feeling) by a majority of the world's population. Tripping on a rock is neither a need nor a want by a majority of the world's population. Being punched in the face is neither a need nor a want by a majority of the world's population.

As shown, the above human actions are not selfish. They do not satisfy any personal needs or feelings for most people.

With that, I end my feverishly short argument. I thank lannan13 for taking the time to debate me, and wish him luck in his further arguments and debates. Thanks!


Contention 1: My opponent's example's

1. Being shot

This is indeed being selfish. Since my opponent is being vague here we can imagain any type of sinerio like you taking the bullet for the President. There you would be doing your job and would be a hero for saving the President's life.

2. Tripping on a rock

Here you trip on a rock. You do this inorder to not break your ankle when your foot comes in contact with the rock when motion would continue to take you forward. You fall in order to protect your ankle from breaking. It's a natural instint that way you don't hurt yourself.

3. Getting Punched in the Face

I can say the same thing as number one. You can simply be taking a hit for a loved one so they do not get hurt.

Contention 2: Humans are animalistic

Sigmund Freud has stated that humans are selfishly aggressive. Let me give you an example. Say you're walking down the street and you see a homeless man begging for change. You give the man change. You feel good knowing that now he has money to get some food into his stomach, but Freud has agrued that this was only done, because you want to save the genes of the human race and you want it to continue. Also that you now get a feel good feeling and if you didn't you would feel guilty and ashamed. You could have easily done it just so you can feel good about yourself. Here he is quoted.

"I have found little that is 'good' about human beings on the whole. In my experience most of them are trash, no matter whether they publicly subscribe to this or that ethical doctrine or to none at all. That is something that you cannot say aloud, or perhaps even think."

Thomas Hobbes has also shown that humanity, by nature, is rotten. That we will rape and pillage everything unless we have a threat. This of course being laws and punishment. Otherwise we would end up in chaos and anarchy. (

“one, the postulate of human greed by which each man insists upon his own private use of common property; the other, the postulate of natural reason, by which each man strives to avoid violent death” (De Cive, Epistle Dedicatory).

We can see here above that simply we go to avoid death and we all know that one of the leading fears is death. Why do we fear death? What will happen to our families when we die? How will I be remembered? Could I have done better? What's next? Am I going to heaven or hell? These are all questions that we ponder when it comes to the afterlife. We simply fear the unknown.

I will be going to MEPs and will be gone until Sunday. Could you please hold off on responding to this debate for a day or so. Please and thank you.
Debate Round No. 2


Dear lannan13,
Hello, and thank you for responding to my argument. I will now present a rebuttal for each of your main points.

Contention 1: Examples

1. Being Shot - Being shot, in a large percentage of scenarios, is in no way selfish. Yes, 'being shot' is a pretty general term, though in most situations, one does not take a bullet to save another's life. One could take a bullet for the president (R.I.P James Brady), but this is unlikely. In almost every situation, being shot is not 'selfish', or, as your definition states, 'to satisfy one's personal needs or feelings'. As I stated before, you must prove that ALL human acts are selfish, while I must prove that NOT ALL human actions are selfish. As the term 'all' requires 'every', I need to prove that only one human action is unselfish in order to win the debate. Apparently, my first example is not specific enough. To 'make up' for that, here is a realistic situation: the death of Abraham Lincoln ( In April 1865, Abe Lincoln was watching a play when John Wilkes Booth sneaked up behind him and shot him, resulting in his death. Abraham Lincoln did not know he was going to be shot, so he couldn't have took a bullet for another's life. Furthermore, Lincoln was not shot in order to satisfy his needs or feelings. He did not need to be shot, nor did he feel like he wanted to. Lincoln would have obviously preferred to stay alive. There are countless examples similar to the one mentioned, though I do not feel the need to mention these, as, well, your argument is, for a lack of better words, not that intelligent (I do not mean to offend you whatsoever). Once more, I need to prove only one human act as unselfish in order to win the debate.
The following link shows a video of a man being shot - none of his needs or feelings were satisfied:

2. Tripping on a Rock - Tripping is in no way whatsoever instinctive. When you trip on a rock, you fall because of a lack of balance and the force of gravity. You do not fall to satisfy a personal need or feeling. I don't understand how tripping could save your ankle from being broken. Personally, when I trip on a rock, I do not mean to fall. I fall by accident. I do not wish to fall, nor does tripping satisfy any of my personal needs or feelings.

3. Getting Punched - Yes, you could get punched to save another from being punched. You could also get punched from behind, without knowledge of your attacker. This is much more likely, and does not satisfy any personal need or feeling.

Contention 2: Humans are Like Animals

Your evidence is irrelevant. I need to only prove one human act unselfish in order to win the debate. However, I will proceed to create more rebuttals:

You state that Sigmund Freud said that humans only donate to charity in order to 'save the genes of the human race and want it to continue'. Giving may result in feeling good, but this is not the only reason that humans give. As seen in a study conducted by Claremont Graduate University"s Center for Neuroeconomic Studies (, humans donate to see others be happy, and because it is the 'right thing to do'. Once more, donating to charity may result in feeling good, though this is not the sole reason that people give. You next quote Freud on an irrelevant topic. We are debating whether all human acts are, by your definition, 'selfish', not whether humans are 'good' in general.

You next talk about Hobbes. However, the source you use nowhere mentions 'raping' or pillaging'. My opponent is making false assertions off of sources that do not pertain to the content of his arguments.

I thank my opponent for his time and wish him the best of luck.


Contention 1: Examples

Subpoint 1: Being Shot

Lincoln was unknowingly shot, but when it comes down to the death of Lincoln it actually helped aided the repair of the Union between the North and the South. Booth's intentions were that he was to kill Lincoln and the rest of his 'buddies' would kill the remaining cabinet members in order to get the Confederacy to see that they could still fight and win the war. He also had some of his members try to kill General Sherman and other Union officers. (The March by EL Doctorow) Booth was horrified by the South's reaction as they actually were appalled by Lincoln's murder and wanted him dead as the South began to submit to the North's Reconstruction. (When the Bells Tolled for Lincoln: Southern Reaction to the Assassination by Carolyn Harrel) So Lincoln's assignation brought the nation together and helped the nation begin its healing process.

A lot of people put a bullet in their head's for suicide, thinking that it will solve their emotion and mental pain.

As for Mr. Wright we don't have full details on his story. He was fatally shot, but we don't know by who or why. He could have harmed the person who shot him, like Darren Wilson, or he could have done something to cause the perpetrator’s family harm. We just don't know. He could have also taken the bullet for another person in that store. We can see that there are many possibilities that show that he selfishly was shot.

Subpoint 2: Tripping on a Rock

Tripping is instinctive, because if you didn't your ankle would break. Like you're eyelids snap shut every time something touches your eye to protect it from harm. You may not do these things on purpose as they are not voluntary they are involuntary. So this still stands.

Subpoint 3: Getting Punched

Let's use my opponent's scenario for a moment. You get punched from behind. You do not know the rest of the story. You could have been in gang and are attacked by a rival gang. You take it like a man because you're told to then you hit back. Possibly you did something to harm the attacker or you are hitting on his daughter/wife. There are endless possibilities. If my opponent wants to really debate this point then he must provide a clear situation.

Contention 2: Humans are like Animals

It was only an example.

It's strange I only provided one quote from Freud, but still his point stands. If someone is dying in a house fire. A man heroically runs in to save that person from a blazing building. Why? He wants to save the genes of that man. My quote is on topic as it shows that humans are evil and animalistic by nature thus there is no selfless act only selfish acts.

I added the raping and pillaging parts as I was, once again, speaking about the Human Nature. ( XIII) Hobbes has stated that human nature is poor, nasty, brutish, and short. This is how we argued that we have governments via the Social Contract Theory. For an example I would give up my right to kill Con and Con would, in turn, give up his right to kill me. If he were to denies it and give me and say, "Meh, one less Ginger," the government would punish him. See we don't violate the law, because of either religion or pure fear out of the government taking away our rights or the death penalty. (

Debate Round No. 3


Dear Pro,
Thank you for responding to my argument. Coincidentally, I decided to check my account right after you posted, and so am able to provide my argument rather quickly. With that - to the rebuttals!

Contention 1: Examples - Your arguments seem to be quickly becoming less and less realistic. Once more, I need only to show that one human action is unselfish, by your definition, in order to win the debate.

1. Being Shot - I guess we are using Abe Lincoln as an example. Please note that Pro's definition of selfish is 'to satisfy one's personal needs or feelings'. The killing of Lincoln did not satisfy any of his personal needs or feelings. Lincoln did not need to die - his policy obviously could, and would continue to, bring the Union and the Confederacy together. Lincoln did not want to die (feelings) either - this is obvious. The bulk of my opponent's argument on this topic basically describes the intentions of Booth and his followers, and in no way shows that any of Lincoln's needs or feelings were fulfilled while he was being shot.

As for Mr. Wright, my opponent claims that the man could have 'harmed the person who shot him', or 'done something to cause the perpetrator's family harm'. This in no way whatsoever justifies that Wright was 'selfish' in being shot. As shown by the video evidence, we do know, in fact, that Wright was not defending another when being shot. The shooting of Wright did not justify any needs or feelings of his.

2. Tripping on a Rock - Your statement is absolutely absurd. How would your ankle break if you didn't trip? Tripping is caused by a lack of balance paired with the force of gravity. The rock causes your legs to become unbalanced, destabilizing your figure and causing you to fall. There is no scientific evidence whatsoever that shows that tripping is 'instinctive'. Your ankle, in fact, would not break if you did not trip.

3. My opponent is making uneducated, unlikely assumptions about the various possibilities of being punched. My opponent argues that one may be punched because of a previous action he or her participated in - this does not mean that the blatant action of 'being punched' is selfish. We are not looking at the background story - rather, we are looking at the basic action of the contact between knuckles and flesh. The background story is irrelevant. In almost every situation, being hit by another does not satisfy a 'personal need or feeling'. If you really want, I will provide a clear situation for you - I am sitting in a chair outside. Suddenly, somebody I have never met, seen, or interacted with (directly or indirectly) walks up and punches me in the face. Obviously, none of my wants or needs have been fulfilled.

Before I move on, I will provide a few more specific situations of non-selfish human actions:

1. Having Cancer - Bob, a newborn baby has been diagnosed with cancer. His having cancer does not fulfill any of his wants or needs whatsoever. Bob does not need to have cancer. Bob does not want to have cancer. Bob, as a newborn child, does not deserve cancer.
2. Being Blind - Bob, a newborn child, is blind. His blindness does not fulfill any of his wants or needs whatsoever. Bob does not need to be blind. Bob does not want to be blind. Bob has done nothing to deserve blindness.
3. Being Tortured - Bob, a newborn baby, has been kidnapped and is being tortured. His being tortured does not fulfill any of his wants or needs whatsoever. Bob does not need to be tortured. Bob does not want to be tortured. Bob, as a newborn baby, has obviously done nothing wrong to deserve torture.

Contention 2: Humans are Like Animals

You say that if somebody saves another from a fire, he is being selfish. How about the person being burnt? Bob is being burnt. He does not need or want to be burnt. Therefore, Bob's act, according to your definition, is not selfish.

Pro states that people only follow the rules to avoid punishment or because of religion. This is blatantly irrelevant to the topic. We are discussing the selfishness of human acts. Many of Pro's arguments revolve around the goodness of humans, not if their actions are selfish or not. Your whole second contention is irrelevant - it discusses whether people are inclined to do good or evil, not whether each specific action of theirs is selfish.

I shall now wrap up my argument with one final unselfish act: having a fork stuck in your eye. Bob has a fork in his eye. This fulfills none of his wants or needs. Bob does not want a fork in his eye. Bob does not need a fork in his eye.


I thank my opponent, and hope I have provided sufficient arguments that not all human acts are selfish. Once more, I must show that only one human act is unselfish (I have done this) in order to win the debate. Please note that I am unable to rebuke any of my opponent's arguments in the next round, and would do so if I could.

Conduct: I have opened and closed each of my arguments by thanking my opponent for his response. My opponent has not done so.

Sources: We both provide sufficient sources. However, my opponent draws false content out of his - for example, he states that Hobbes asserted that humans will 'rape and pillage' everything. It states this nowhere in his source. He is making false assertions that he claims are , untruthfully, derived from his sources. I base most of my arguments on common sense and logic, rather than quotes from historical thinkers.

Arguments: See above. I have provided logical arguments and rebuttals for each of my opponent's arguments. He fails to do the same, totally ignoring some of the points I have made.

Spelling/Grammar: I use the correct spelling and grammar throughout. My opponent misspells words such as 'sinerio', 'inorder', and 'instint'. He also uses various sentence fragments - here is a quote that shows three fragments in a row: 'That we will rape and pillage everything unless we have a threat. This of course being laws and punishment. Otherwise we would end up in chaos and anarchy.'

I thank my opponent again.


Contention 1: Examples

My opponent says my arguments are unrealistic, but this is how things are since my opponent is being vague and I have nothing to do but to fill in the blanks and cracks left by my opponent.

Subpoint 1: Being Shot

My opponent is incorrect here on Lincoln as Lincoln's main goal was preserving the Union. He went to great lengths like violating the Constitution to try to preserve what was left. Though Lincoln did not know what was happening that night in the Ford's theater he still died for preserving the Union and his death strengthened the bond between the North and South. His feeling and beliefs were both satisfied in Lincoln's death.

The service video only shows him being shot. It does not show anything else. My opponent drops my argument about Mr. Wright harming the shooter or the shooter's family.

Subpoint 2: Tripping on a Rock

My opponent does not seem to understand the argument. You see the force of physics perpells you forward. The object is in the way and causes you’re foot to go from an L position to an l position. You will either trip or you’re acceleration will push you fast enough to break the ankle. Even when you do trip sometimes the ankle doesn’t go to the l position and is broken. (

Subpoint 3: Getting Punched in the Face

My opponent states that the background story is irrelevant, but excluding it makes it harder for Con to actually prove anything. If you were hitting on someone you weren’t supposed to and were drunk then you deserved to get a tooth knocked out and you know that you shouldn’t have done that. In your own mind you know that your actions were selfish and this is punishment that, in your own mind or in the attacker’s mind, justifies it. Thus the action is selfish.

Subpoint 4: Bob’s child

Again we don’t know the back story. Here we can apply Karma and say that Bob did something God awful and didn’t get caught for it. He then is punished by Karma which is instilled in the Cancer in the Baby. Or you could apply the reincarnation belief of the Buddhist faith and this would reveal that Bob’s child did something terrible in their past life and deserve this life of misery and WO. Thus they’re feeling and personal beliefs are met and satisfied. This explanation fits for each and every one of the examples.

Contention 2: Humans are like animals.

Once again this is a vague example. Bob could have went in himself to harm someone and caused the fire. He being burned made him see the wrong doings of his ways. Thus justifying it.

My opponent keeps ignoring this argument and it’s absurd. This argument of fear of punishment is that the citizens of a nation fallow the law and be good people in order to not be punished by the government it’s clearly on topic and the fact that Con dropped this argument wins the debate in my favor.

My opponent is once again vague here with Bob. We don’t know how it got there or why it’s there in the first place. He could have been like the governor from the Walking Dead and got a fork to the ear instead of a shard of glass. This could have made Bob repent and feel sorry for what he done. Thus he justifies it in his own mind.


My opponent claims that he should get conduct for being nice to me and say Dear Lannan and such, but this is false when you look at the rest of his debate arguments. He calls me illogical, off topic, and uneducational. All of these things are unsportsman like. Thus the Conduct point actually belongs to me if not a tie.


I have batted down every example that my opponent has brought up plus he dropped my Freud argument and my Human Nature argument giving me the second Contention. Thus I get this point.


If you really want to get technical the score count for sources is 4 (Lannan13) – 2 (my opponent) Plus one of my opponent’s sources was from Wikipeadia so that really doesn’t count for much of a source at all. So I also get this point.

Normally I don’t do what I did above, but since my opponent did so then I too have to fallow.

Thank you and please vote for Pro.

Debate Round No. 4
22 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by birdlandmemories 3 years ago
This was a good debate to read
Posted by birdlandmemories 3 years ago
This was a good debate to read
Posted by darthebearnc 3 years ago
Guys please remember to use common sense!
Posted by darthebearnc 3 years ago
OK I will post now.
Posted by lannan13 3 years ago
Im back so you may continue at anytime.
Posted by darthebearnc 3 years ago
Alright. Cool with me.
Posted by lannan13 3 years ago
I'll make my 'acceptance' when Wylted accepts my other debate. I kinda want my 250th debate to be special. Sorry, you'll just have to be 251.
Posted by darthebearnc 3 years ago
OK...When you agree to my debate, you can say to the voters that the new definition for 'selfish' is to 'to satisfy one's personal needs or feelings'. That works with me. Do you need anything else?

Posted by lannan13 3 years ago
You take my definition and I'll permit you to argue unconscious actions such as heart beating and such.
Posted by darthebearnc 3 years ago
Just saying - I used the first definition for each of the words on I believe that this leads to the most accurate debate, as each of the words is linked to its true meaning. However, if you want to compromise, I am OK with that. What kind of deal do you have in mind?

1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by 9spaceking 3 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:13 
Reasons for voting decision: FOLLOW, lannan, FOLLOW. Not Fallow. Anyhow lannan13 proved in every situation presented by con, the human acts were selfish.