The Instigator
Spaztoid
Pro (for)
Losing
26 Points
The Contender
wjmelements
Con (against)
Winning
33 Points

All Morals are Relative

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 12 votes the winner is...
wjmelements
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/19/2010 Category: Society
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 9,471 times Debate No: 11473
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (72)
Votes (12)

 

Spaztoid

Pro

First of all, I would like to thank whomever accepts this debate. I look forward to a good debate.

=====Rules=====
This debate will be one of moral relativism. The Pro side will be arguing that morals are relative and the Con side will argue that that morals are not relative. Please avoid the use of insults and avoid becoming angry or petty. This is a debate, so please maintain your dignity.
Finally, this debate will hold both sides to a legal standard of proof for all evidence submitted. If you intend to use something to support your arguments, be sure that it is both valid and sustainable.

=====Opening Statement=====

Morals are easily one of the most debated subjects. These debates often take shape in debates of religion, politics, or social norms, however they all "boil down" to the same arguments; my ideas are right, and your ideas are wrong. To that end, it is my position that no ones morals are superior or "more right" than another's.

=====Arguments=====

My arguments will parallel concepts found in Normative Relativism, and will be three major ideas; moral evolution, Meta-ethical differences, and universal standards.

-----Moral Evolution-----
Morals and beliefs systems change. This is particularly true of religious positions. As time has progressed, set of morals have adapted and evolved to become more modern and more relevant. This change in and of itself is proof that morals are not absolute. What was once considered to be moral will often change and be viewed as amoral.
For example, in world wide communities "white" individual, slavery was once considered to be acceptable and ethical. Slavery, within the last 200 years, has been abolished in the majority of the world, and is considered to be immoral and even evil. However, despite this change, people from 200 years ago believed themselves to be moral individuals, just as people now consider themselves to be moral for not having slaves. This change in ethical and moral standards demonstrates that morals are not absolute and in fact, relative.

-----Meta-Ethical Differences-----
Meta-Ethics, as a philosophical study, is questioning what is good and what is evil. Within every culture, there is usually a Meta-ethical standard, which states that certain behaviors are good and certain ones are wrong. This standard is usually local to one group of individuals, however globalization has had a significant impact on that.
In modern society, specifically European and American societies, there are specific "absolutes," such as killing is wrong. However, Meta-ethics also pertains to methodology and problem solving. As an example, when given a problem that does not have an absolute answer (such as a math problem), a person will rely upon their Meta-ethical standards to determine the best possible out come. However, just as behaviors and religions are not universal, Meta-ethics are not universal.
The heterogeneous nature of Meta-ethics means that people with have differing methodologies and ideologies. And example of this difference is opinion is pornography. In the US, exposing ones self is considered to be inappropriate behavior. In places in Europe, public nudity is not considered to be as socially unacceptable.
It is this difference in opinions which is my second argument. Meta-ethical relativity states that when two people with different Meta-ethical standards are presented with the same problem in which there is no definite outcome, they will choose different methods to solve the problem. The end result of either method will likely be the same, therefore either method is acceptable; thus their morality and ethics are both equal and relative.

-----Universal Standards-----
My final argument is that there is no moral arbiter or set of universal standards to judge one set of morals to be superior to another, therefore no individual can prove that they have superior morals to another.

=====Conclusion=====

All of my three arguments clearly state that morals and ethics are relative. I wish my opponent luck, and stand down for my opponet's opening.
wjmelements

Con

I would like to thank my opponent for starting this debate.

==Moral Standard==
I am arguing that there is a simple, objective moral standard: the ability of the individual to govern his or her person and property. Any act that trespasses on this ability is immoral and any act that does not is morally just.

Derivation:
Happiness, in essence, is the reward the Body gives the Mind for succeeding at priorities defined by both the Body and the Mind. Pain, in essence, is the punishment the Body gives the Mind for failing at accomplishing these priorities. These priorities are, in essence, the ultimate will.
The Individual, whether he or she has free will or not, has the natural ability to act upon his or her priorities. When the Individual fulfills his most urgent wants needs, he feels more satisfaction than he would otherwise.
The Individual uses the means properly owned by him towards these ends. Most obvious of these means is the Self, one's person. Because the Individual is in the best position to govern himself due to biology, it is best that the Individual is left to govern himself. The Individual has a higher claim on himself than any other because of natural will. Given then that the Individual has the full right to govern himself, he must also govern his labor and therefore its produce. Because of this, the Individual also has the right to his property.
From here, we can take two approaches to arriving at the moral standard aforementioned. We can continue on the strain of the biological argument and state that because the Individual has the supreme right to govern his property that anyone who infringes upon this right is breaking the standard set by nature, or we can pull the utilitarian argument out and state that the Individual is happiest when he is free to pursue his own values and priorities, and is less happy when otherwise.

Applications:
A. The Individual wants to buy his lunch. An Aggressor stabs him and takes his money. The Aggressor has infringed upon both the Individual's person (by stabbing him) and property (by taking his money); therefore, the Aggressor is immoral.
B. The Individual wants to buy lunch. Another Individual wants to sell him lunch for profit. Both Individuals meet their more urgent priorities in the money-for-lunch transaction and are happier for it. Neither have had their right to govern person and property infringed upon. Therefore, the transaction was morally just.
C. The Individual would like to purchase a video game. A Government decides to tax him. The Individual's liberty to govern his property has been infringed upon. Therefore, the taxation was immoral.

==Conclusion==
There is an objective moral system that is philosophically superior to any alternative. It will neither change with time nor with nationality. It is a simple system with practical applications based in natural self-governance, the unchanging principle of life.

==Refutations==
--Moral Evolution--
Self-governance has remained constant throughout the history of life, and serves as an objective base for a moral system. Absolute morality has not changed over time; the human quest for morality has lead to the creation and destruction of several moral models. Although chemists moved from the Dalton Cube to the Quantum Mechanical models of chemical bonding, the underlying scientific truth of it has never changed. In the same way, human knowledge of morality does not affect the objective morality.

--Meta-Ethical Differences--
The existence of meta-ethical differences is irrelevant to the existence of moral truth, for our knowledge of something does not limit its existence. The Individual that is not free to govern himself has not only lost happiness, but his natural state of self-governance. Regardless of whether or not this invasion feels right or wrong to any party is irrelevant to that fact and to the truth that the Individual has lost those two priceless liberties.

--Universal Standards--
I have given the objective standard of self-governance as an objective standard for morality. Because ethics and morality based on this standard are objectively correct, one who holds these ethics is morally superior to one that does not.

==Conclusion==
There is an objective moral standard, whether societies recognize it or not. Because of this, morals are not relative or subjective, but objective, and the resolution is negated.

I now yield the floor to my opponent.
Debate Round No. 1
Spaztoid

Pro

I would like to thank wjmelements for accepting this debate. I find this topic fascinating, and thus I look forward to a good debate.
My opponent has presented an interesting argument, however it my intent to prove that is nothing more than that.

=====Definitions=====
Moral:
1. Relating to issues of right and wrong and to how individual people should behave. [1]
2.Able to distinguish right from wrong and to make decisions based on that knowledge. [1]
Right:
1.Something that is due to a person or governmental body by law, tradition, or nature. [2]
Universal:
1.Used or understood by everyone [3]
Objective:
1.Uninfluenced by emotions or personal prejudices [4]
Absolute:
1.viewed independently; not comparative or relative; ultimate; intrinsic [5]

=====Rebuttals=====
My opponent has presented an argument in which he claims that there is a universal, or specifically objective, standard by which to judge all moral standards. His argument however has many flaws, all of which I will address.

-----Rights vs. Morals-----
My opponent states that all morals can be judged according to this standard, "the ability of the individual to govern his or her person and property." According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights from United Nations meeting in Paris on the tenth of December, 1948, "Article 3: Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and the security of person. [6]" This "objective moral standard" is actually human right, which is not a moral standard, objective or otherwise.

-----Objective vs. Absolute-----
My opponent states that his standard of morality is an objective one. This debate is about whether or not morals are absolute or not. By his own words, his standard is objective standard, not an absolute or universal one.

-----Limitations-----
My opponent has presented an argument stating that he has a universal standard by which to judge all morals. However, his standard is very limited. Morals, as I have defined, are ways that people judge right and wrong. This means that my opponent must prove his standard to apply to all moral dilemmas, not just one.
For example, use of drugs falls within self-governance. If I choose to use drugs, that would be within the moral standard set by Con. However, most societies view drug use as immoral, therefore my opponents argument is invalid due to its limited nature.

-----Inherency-----
My opponent's argument is that, whether it is recognized or not, there is in fact a moral standard by which to judge all morals. Until he presented his argument, I was unaware of this standard. As the definition of morals state, I must be able to make a decision based on my knowledge of what is right and wrong. As I was unaware of this standard, I was therefore unable to use it to judge my actions as right or wrong. In order for my opponent's argument to hold up, he must show that his standard is known by all individuals, or for it to be universal, for it to be a valid argument.

-----Derivation Argument-----
This derivation is flawed based on logic. First, his logic flow states that happiness and greater happiness are justification for action. This is not how morality works. Simply because something makes you happy does not make it moral. As an example, sex makes people happy. It is an anatomical function which reinforces the desire to procreate. Despite its pleasurable nature, sex is frequently viewed as an immoral act. As a result, my opponents premise if flawed.
Additionally, in his third application, my opponent states that it was immoral to tax a person for a video game. Based upon his criteria, taxes are in place to fund the government. The government in turn takes that money and distributes it among its expenditures, like disaster relief programs and aid to the poor. Taxing someone on a video game is perfectly moral to help people in need.

My opponent's argument, while interesting, is flawed. It is not on topic in two ways, it is an extremely limited argument, and by it inherent flaws within the argument. Additionally, my opponent's reasoning is flawed, furthering the fact that his argument is invalid.

=====Arguments=====

-----Moral Evolution-----
By virtue of the fact that my opponent's initial argument is flawed, his rebuttal here is also flawed. In addition, there are a few other major errors. One, self-governance has not been a constant. The idea of whether or not humans have free will is and has been a major subject of controversy for a great amount of time. Two, paralleling my rebuttal on Con's premise being limited, morality covers more subjects that just the right to self-determination. Morals encompass all of the ways people distinguish between right and wrong. Such morals have indeed evolved over time, meaning my argument remains valid.
Finally, there are two logical errors in my opponent's rebuttal. The first, "Absolute morality has not changed over time; the human quest for morality has lead to the creation and destruction of several moral models." This debate is between absolute morality and relative morality, which means that one cannot use absolute morality as a proof for their statements. The second, "Although chemists moved from the Dalton Cube to the Quantum Mechanical models of chemical bonding, the underlying scientific truth of it has never changed. In the same way, human knowledge of morality does not affect the objective morality." The first statement here is true however the second part is not. Science is a search for an understanding of how things work, meaning that there is a right or wrong answer. Morality, as I have defined, is our ability to determine what is right and what is wrong, and then act upon that knowledge. This means that human knowledge is what determines human morals, so the statement is false.

-----Meta-Ethical Differences-----
"The existence of meta-ethical differences is irrelevant to the existence of moral truth, for our knowledge of something does not limit its existence." While I find this statement to be very interesting, a witty statement proves nothing. Meta-ethics is our methodology. It is the way that we use our morals to act, meaning again that if we do not know something, it does not apply to our moral standards. For my opponent's statement to be true, he would have to show that his standard is universal and has been known or recognized in all moral systems.

-----Universal Standards-----
"I have given the objective standard of self-governance as an objective standard for morality. Because ethics and morality based on this standard are objectively correct, one who holds these ethics is morally superior to one that does not." Once again, my opponent has used his burden of proof as a proof for his arguments. He has yet to prove that morals are absolute; therefore his statement is again false.

=====Conclusion=====
While Con has presented an interesting argument, I have shown that it nothing more than interesting. His arguments have several underling logical flaws in addition to several factual ones. I therefore stand by my position in that morals are relative. I now yield the floor to my opponent.

[1] http://encarta.msn.com...
[2] http://www.thefreedictionary.com...
[3] http://dictionary.reference.com...
[4] http://www.thefreedictionary.com...
[5] http://dictionary.reference.com...
[6] www.ohchr.org
wjmelements

Con

I would like to begin by addressing a few broad issues.

First, the resolution reads "All Morals are Relative". This resolution is negated simply by identifying a moral that isn't relative.
Second, if a moral is absolute, then it is not relative, as per my opponent's definition.
Third, for a moral to be absolute, according to my opponent's definition, it merely has to be intrinsic or viewed independent of arbitrary perspectives. It does not have to be universal, because it can still be used to judge right and wrong without every human in history using it.
Given these three facts, my opponent is begging the question and incorrect in many of his statements.
=============================
Now, my case:

My opponent objects that rights are not moral standards. I have two objections to this. First, my opponent's source declaring self-governance a human right has no authority to do so, because it cannot guarantee such a right to all humankind. The United Nations has no real authority to intervene in member countries [1]. Second, I object that something does not cease to be a moral standard when a governing body begins protecting it. The standard I gave is still applicable as a way to distinguish right and wrong regardless.

My opponent claims that an objective source of morality cannot be absolute; however, a standard that is objective is absolute by definition. Because the presented source of morality is absolute, it is not relative, and therefore not all morals are relative.

My opponent has claimed that my standard does not address all moral dilemmas, when in fact it does. The dilemma of drug use, for example, is solved quickly--the use of drugs that does not interfere with the self-governance of others is morally right. Because it would be impossible for me to produce proof for every single possible moral dilemma as my opponent has demanded, I believe it is proper for him to find a specific dilemma that this does not address.

My opponent insists that for a moral to be absolute, it must be universal. For something to be universal, something must be used by everyone. For something to be absolute, it must be intrinsic. Clearly, my opponent's objection is unwarranted. He also implies that for something to be a moral, it must be universal. This is absurd simply because under that definition, no morals are morals.

My opponent has a few objections to my derivation.
He objects to utilitarianism, that pleasure is a standard for ethics. My utilitarian arguments, found at the beginning and the end of my derivation, are non-essential to the sustenance of the derivation, because it is only one of the logical paths to the standard of self-governance; however, I will still defend it, briefly(because my opponent has only contradicted me, without any ethical argument). A society with more pleasure is happier. To make a person less happy is to make their life worse. Life should be as good as possible for as many people as possible, because pleasure is the body's feedback for doing the will of nature. Nature is objective and unbiased.
My opponent concedes the human's ethical right to self-government.
He objects that sex is, for some reason, immoral. I would like my opponent to back that claim up.
My opponent claims that stealing money is, for some reason, moral. I would like my opponent to back that claim up.
Regardless of my opponent's two baseless moral assertions, the objective and absolute standard still stands, because it is derived objectively, is intrinsic, and can still be used to determine right and wrong.

My argument stands. An argument is not logically flawed simply if my opponent disagrees with it; it is logically flawed if there is a logical problem with it. A moral can be intrinsic and not absolute. My opponent's objections are baseless.
====================================
Now, I will address my opponent's case.

My opponent objects that because individual self-governance may not be "free", that the individual cannot govern himself. I stated last round that self-governance is true regardless of the existence of free will because the human still governs himself, deterministically freely or not.
My opponent objects that some people use other subjective morals to make decisions. I am not arguing that humans don't use other morals, and I am not required to. The resolution is that "All morals are relative" and this is negated if there exists any intrinsic morality.
My opponent then asserts that my argument is flawed because in my arguments I assume an absolute morality; however, this statement was a conclusion from the argument before it. Human self-governance has not changed, and therefore not all morals have evolved.
My opponent then pulls a cherry-picked definition out that requires all morality to be based in human knowledge; however, in the definition that isn't begging the question, morality is a system of determining right and wrong. Because of this, an absolute morality does not have to be in practice and it does not have to be known. Because of this, the principle of moral evolution does not affect my position.

My opponent has not refuted my "witty" statement, he has merely stated that it proves nothing. It proves plenty. Human knowledge does not limit existence. My opponent cannot deny this, and I have a plethora of examples (the atom, etc) if needed. A moral is only required to be known to man under my opponent's cherry-picked definition. I have identified an absolute system for morality, and human knowledge of it doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. Also, as mentioned before, an absolute moral does not have to be universal.
Just as differences in scientific belief do not mean that there is scientific relativity, differences in moral belief do not mean that there is moral relativity.

My opponent has conceded that his argument regarding the lack of universal standards falls with the existence of the standard of human self-governance.

Source:
[1] http://www.jstor.org...
Debate Round No. 2
Spaztoid

Pro

First, I would like to address my opponent's general statements, and then I will proceed to the arguments of the debate.

My opponent's first two general points are correct, if obvious.

My opponent's last statement is flawed though. For my opponent to win this debate, he must either prove that I have not shown morals to be relative or show that one or many morals are absolute. In order to prove that that/those moral(s) is/are in fact absolute, then he must show that they do not conform to the same standards that I have set up in my arguments. As a result, my opponent must either attack my arguments, or concede to them and then show that his moral(s) of choice do not conform to my arguments. By this, my opponent must prove that his moral is not just viewed independently from subjective view points, but that either the moral is universal in that it has remained unchanged throughout history and that it has been constantly used as a moral base, or that there is a completely object arbiter or unbiased moral law that proves his moral to be absolute.

With this correction, I will now proceed to arguments/rebuttals.

=====Arguments/Rebuttals=====

-----Rights vs. Morals-----
My opponent has brought two objections forward to my argument between rights and morals. His first is that the UDHR cannot protect the declared right, and therefore it does not have the authority to declare it as a right. I would like to point out the two obvious flaws. One, the US Constitution has given its citizens many rights; however the United States lacks the resources necessary to guarantee that those rights are protected. Unless my opponent wishes to claim that that the United States cannot claim things to be rights for its citizens, he cannot claim that the UN cannot claim rights to exist for all of humanity.
Second, the UN is made up by a large group of countries housing a vast majority of the world's population. All of these nations have agreed to the document and its contents, so my opponents contest to its jurisdiction is invalid.
Next my opponent states that something does not cease to be a moral once a governing body has decided to protect it. Indeed, a government protecting a moral does not negate it as a moral, however once something has been declared as a right, then it ceases to be a moral. As my opponent has brought forward no contest to the definitions of morals or the definition of rights, then I assume he concedes to them. Based upon this, there are obvious differences between the definition of a right and the definition of a moral; therefore his "moral" is actually a right.

-----Limitations-----
My opponent has stated that his moral standard does apply to all situations. To this end, he contested my drug use example claiming that because it does not violate his standard that it is not immoral, however people all over the world do view drug use as immoral; therefore his argument breaks down.
Regardless, my opponent has requested that I provide a situation where his moral does not apply. To that end, I present abortion as the paradox of his "moral standard." On one end, the woman has the right to govern her own body, thus making the choice of killing the child a moral one. However, on the opposing side, the child has the right to govern its body, and thus a paradox is created, which disqualifies my opponent's "moral" as absolute.

-----Derivation-----
"My utilitarian arguments, found at the beginning and the end of my derivation, are non-essential to the sustenance of the derivation, because it is only one of the logical paths to the standard of self-governance; however, I will still defend it, briefly(because my opponent has only contradicted me, without any ethical argument)."
First, my opponent has claimed to have other logical derivations to support his argument, however as he has not presented them, that argument is inadmissible. Second, my opponent has a misunderstanding of the entire point of this debate if believes that I have not brought forward an "ethical argument." This entire debate is about Moral Relativism, and my arguments are based around Normative Relativity and Meta-Ethical Relativity.
Next, my opponent backs up his argument of happiness stating that it is justification for his "moral." This is fundamentally flawed because a person who takes pleasure in happiness can use this derivation to justify homicide, which violates the very "moral" that my opponent is trying to prove. Therefore, his derivation is flawed.

-----Random Claims-----
"He objects that sex is, for some reason, immoral. I would like my opponent to back that claim up.
My opponent claims that stealing money is, for some reason, moral. I would like my opponent to back that claim up.
Regardless of my opponent's two baseless moral assertions, the objective and absolute standard still stands, because it is derived objectively, is intrinsic, and can still be used to determine right and wrong."
First, in relation to my supposed claim that sex is immoral, this is just flawed. Re-read my actual argument, and please avoid misquoting your opponent.
Second, as I have proved my opponents derivation to be flawed, his "moral" does not stand.

-----Moral Evolution-----
My opponent again claims that his "moral" has not evolved. I have already shown this not to be true.

-----Definition Argument-----
My opponent claims that I have used a "cherry-picked" definition. If my opponent contests my definition, than it is his burden to provide an alternative one and then prove why it is superior.

-----Human Knowledge-----
This is by far the largest flaw in my opponent's entire argument.
According to the definition of morals, a moral is how we determine what is right and what is wrong. As a result, human knowledge does limit its existence. Is a human does not know something to exist, it is impossible for him/her to act upon it.
As an example, if I were to be unaware that killing was immoral, and then I killed an individual, I am still morals justified because I did not have a moral telling me to do otherwise.
All in all, unless my opponent can bring up a "better" definition, his entire argument about human knowledge is completely irrelevant.

-----Extraneous Points-----
"Just as differences in scientific belief do not mean that there is scientific relativity, differences in moral belief do not mean that there is moral relativity."
This is a non-sequitur. Scientific theory is in the purist of an absolute answer, morals are a system by which people determine what is right and what is wrong. Your "burden of proof" is to show that morals are absolute, therefore this point proves nothing.

"My opponent has not refuted my "witty" statement, he has merely stated that it proves nothing. It proves plenty."
That is in fact a refutation. My opponent's evidence, if it were to be presented, possibly would; however the statement itself means nothing.

"An argument is not logically flawed simply if my opponent disagrees with it; it is logically flawed if there is a logical problem with it."
This is correct, however as shown, my opponent has a great number of logical flaws in his argument, and therefore his argument does not stand.

"My opponent has conceded that his argument regarding the lack of universal standards falls with the existence of the standard of human self-governance."
I have conceded no such point. Baseless claims do not support an argument.

=====Conclusion=====
My opponent has presented several logically flawed arguments, and then has used more logical fallacies to support them. These inherent logical errors disqualify my opponent's arguments as valid, thus dismantling his position. I therefore stand by my position that all morals are in fact relative.
wjmelements

Con

I'm sorry, but I'll have to request that this debate resume the next round. I'm busy with school and other things. Sincerest apologies.
Debate Round No. 3
Spaztoid

Pro

Ok, this is about as long as I can wait. Good luck on your next round. I hope you got everything taken care of.
wjmelements

Con

I would like to thank my opponent for allowing me to catch up on my homework.

==Clarification==
My opponent's argument that a moral must be, by definition, universal in order to be objective is nonsensical. The only requirement for a moral (a standard for determining right and wrong) to be objective (and not relative) is for it to be viewed independently. A moral is not, by definition, the result of an individual perception of right and wrong, but a tool used for that purpose. A moral is absolute, by definition, if it comes from an objective viewpoint.

"In order to prove that that/those moral(s) is/are in fact absolute, then he must show that they do not conform to the same standards that I have set up in my arguments."
This statement only holds if the standards my opponent standards are indeed applicable to the definitions provided.

==Definition of Morality==
My opponent has defined a morality as "our ability to determine what is right and what is wrong" without any source in the middle of an argument.
My opponent will argue that his source was in round 2 where he defined moral (adjective, definition 2) as "able to distinguish right from wrong and to make decisions based on that knowledge"; however, my opponent has not correctly quoted from his source [1], which reads "based on what somebody's conscience suggests is right or wrong." This is a limited definition for the purpose of this debate because under it all morals must by definition necessarily be relative (dependent on something [2], in this case on the individual conscience). Even ignoring this, the translation between these words is unwarranted.
An actual sourced definition for morality is "a doctrine or system of morals" [3], where "morals" is a plural noun meaning "principles of right and wrong as they govern standards of general or sexual behavior," from my opponent's source [1]. From no source, however, is the meaning of morality "our ability to determine what is right and what is wrong."

==Morals do not cease to be morals when governments use them==
I'm going to drop the argument that the UN cannot decide what human rights are because it is simply irrelevant to the resolution. I will save that for another debate.

The relevant clash here is that my opponent sees some definitional contradiction that keeps my moral standard from being a moral standard. A right is, by my opponent's chosen definition, something due to someone by (in this case) law, whereas a moral is a way to determine whether a behavior is right or wrong. My standard, "An action is moral if it does not interfere with the freedom of an individual to govern his person and property", is a moral. A government may protect the right, "The individual is free to govern his person and property", but this does not negate that my standard is a moral.

==Alleged Limitations to My Standard==
My opponent claims that my standard fails because some people disagree with it. A moral can be absolute (found objectively) without being universal (agreed upon by all), so my opponent's objection is irrelevant.

My opponent also claims that my standard fails because the mother's ability to abort her fetus interferes with the fetus's ability to govern itself. However, the fetus has no ability to govern itself in the first place, and does not qualify as an individual because it lack self-governance in its natural state (see derivation), so my opponent's objection is moot.

==Derivation==
My opponent claims that I have not presented a derivation. I would like to direct him to the first round. When I state that the derivation does not rely on utilitarianism, then my opponent should simply reread it as directed without the utilitarianism (the first paragraph and the last paragraph starting with "or we can pull the utilitarian argument"). My opponent has not objected to this non-utilitarian part of the derivation other than to claim it is not there.

The Utilitarian stance, however, is only challenged by my opponent's argument that pleasure arguments can justify homicide; however, the happiness lost in homicide by the loss of the victim's ability to govern himself according to his or her own priorities is significantly greater than the satisfaction that the murderer feels. My opponent's objection is simply narrow-minded and ignorant of the derivation itself.

==My Opponent's Contradictions==
I believe that the statements "Taxing someone on a video game is perfectly moral to help people in need" and "All Morals are Relative" are in direct contradiction. My opponent can claim that I misquoted him all he wants, but it's right in his own arguments that he has made a moral claim. I have merely asked him to back it up with an ethical argument. An explanation as to how it is compatible with moral relativism would be interesting too.

==Sex==
My opponent's claim regarding sex is dependent on the argument that morals must be universal to be objective, even though this is not necessarily true by the definitions. This topic shall not be argued in two places. Refer to my refutations to my opponent's case below.

==Moral Evolution==
My opponent concedes that determinism is irrelevant to this debate.
Moral evolution is irrelevant to the absoluteness of my standard of morality because a moral is not required by definition to be universal (used by all) to be absolute (viewed independently).
My opponent does not challenge that "Human self-governance has not changed, and therefore not all morals have evolved." Therefore, the concept of moral evolution is also not applicable to my standard.

==Human Knowledge==
My opponent bases this objection on a still unsourced definition of morality.

==Conclusion==
The self-governance principle is arrived at objectively and can be used for determining right and wrong in any moral dilemma. Therefore, it is an absolute moral, and therefore, at least one moral isn't relative, and the resolution is negated.

[1] http://encarta.msn.com...
[2] http://encarta.msn.com...
[3] http://dictionary.reference.com...
Debate Round No. 4
Spaztoid

Pro

My opponent, throughout this debate, has made a great number of claims and has supported very few. To that end I will show that his arguments, and in fact his very premise, are logically flawed.

--Definitions--
My opponent has a misunderstanding of the word that I defined. I did not define morality, I defined moral. If my opponent had properly quoted my definitions, he would already have seen his rejection of my definitions to be invalid.
Moral:

Relating to issues of right and wrong and to how individual people should behave [1]
Based on what somebody's conscience suggests is right or wrong, rather than on what rules or the law says should be done [1]
Regarded in terms of what is known to be right or just, as opposed to what is officially or outwardly declared to be right or just [1]
Giving guidance on how to behave decently and honorably [1]
Good or right, when judged by the standards of the average person or society at large [1]
Able to distinguish right from wrong and to make decisions based on that knowledge [1]
Based on an inner conviction, in the absence of physical proof [1]

Of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior [2]
Expressing or teaching a conception of right behavior [2]
Conforming to a standard of right behavior [2]

Of, pertaining to, or concerned with the principles or rules of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong; ethical [3]
Expressing or conveying truths or counsel as to right conduct, as a speaker or a literary work; moralizing [3]
Founded on the fundamental principles of right conduct rather than on legalities, enactment, or custom [3]

All of these definitions are properly cited definitions. Regardless of the points my opponent has brought up regarding my definitions, his very arguments are in direct conflict with the very definition of moral. A moral, by definition and necessity, is relative. If my opponent feels that my definitions are flawed, he may freely choose any of the other 11, and the case remains the same. My argument does not fail simply because my opponent disagrees with it.
This disqualifies any objections my opponent has brought forth based upon definitions, thus I proceed to the next point.

--Clarification Rebuttal--
I provided to my opponent the two ways he can win this debate. Either he proves that morals are not relative because I have not shown them to be relative, or that his moral(s) is/are absolute. In order to show that something is in fact absolute, he must prove it to be.
To prove a rule to be absolute in math, one must demonstrate that is applies to all situation involving that rule. The Pythagorean Theorem states that in all right triangles, a^2+b^2=c^2. This theorem was proven to be true through a proof. In essence, in every right triangle throughout time and history, the Pythagorean Theorem proves that a^2+b^2=c^2 without exception. For a moral to be proven to be an absolute moral, it must also be "universal," in that it applies to every situation that the rule seeks to cover. As my opponent's rule applies to morals, he must show it to be a constant in all moral decisions throughout history without exception. It cannot simply be viewed independently of personal bias; it must also be proven to always have applied and always to apply.
In regards to my statement, my opponent stated, "This statement only holds if the standards my opponent standards are indeed applicable to the definitions provided." My opponent has brought forward no contest stating that my standards do not apply to my definition(s), therefore the statement is true.

--Rights vs. Morals--
My opponent has decided not to contest the UN's ability to determine what a right is, therefore he concedes the point.

Based upon that concession, my next statement is a simple proof. The definition of a right, as I have stated, is "Something that is due to a person or governmental body by law, tradition, or nature." The definition(s) of moral are above in my first point. It is obvious that the definition of a right and the definition of a moral are different. Therefore, because my opponent has not contested that the UN has the power to declare something to be a right, because the UN has declared self-governance to be a human right, and because the definitions of rights and morals are different, my opponents so called moral is not a moral at all.
Furthermore, in my opponent's derivation, he states several times that his "moral" is a right. Again, by definitions, morals and rights are different and therefore he has shown his own "moral" to actually be a right.

--Limitations--
Without getting into an abortion debate, a fetus is genetically human; therefore it is entitled to human rights. As shown before, self-determinacy is a human right. Due to the fact that it is a human right, the fetus and the mother both have the same right. By this, the mother and the fetus are in direct conflict in terms of rights, thus my opponent's "absolute moral" does not apply to all moral dilemmas.

--Derivation--
"My opponent claims that I have not presented a derivation. I would like to direct him to the first round." Once again my opponent has misrepresented my arguments. Unfounded claims do not support an argument. If my opponent were to look back at the previous round, he would realize this error.
To the derivation itself, in essence, the derivation is as follows:

"Happiness is reward for completion of one's priorities. Pain is the opposite. These in junction form will.
A person has the ability to act upon his natural priorities. When the person fulfils more urgent needs, he/she receives more happiness.
A person uses his/her means to accomplish these ends. Based upon biology, a person has the right to govern themselves and their property.
If a person violates a person's right to themselves and their property, they are in the wrong by either biology or happiness.
Due to this, any action that violated self-governance is immoral."

I object to the utilitarian argument on two fronts. One, happiness does not justify all actions, as demonstrated by everyday societal norms. Two, despite that, this argument is over moral relativity. Therefore you cannot submit a moral position as an argument.
As for the rest of the derivation, it is a simple logical flow. If A=B, and if B=C, A=C. This statement is only true if both of the premises are true. If you start with a flawed premise, you arrive at a flawed conclusion. In this case, my opponent's derivation is a proof that a violation to self-governance is immoral. I have already shown that self-governance is not a moral; therefore that derivation is logically flawed.

--Contradictions--
My opponent is right, I did contradict my point. I made a moral claim, which is therefore invalid.
Despite that, my opponent misquoted me, which is improper in any debate.

--Moral Evolution--
My opponent does not challenge that morals do evolve with time. As shown, my opponent must show his moral to be constant throughout time, and he has not. Therefore his rebuttal here is flawed.
Once again, my opponent has misrepresented my arguments. I redirect my opponent to my second round where I do in fact contest that very point.

--Human Knowledge--
My definition is in fact sourced, and I provided several more definitions. Therefore, as this was my opponent's only contest to this argument, this argument is valid.

--Conclusion--
By simple definitions, all morals are by necessity relative. By standard of proof, my opponent cannot show that any moral is absolute. Due to this, the resolution is affirmed.

[1] http://encarta.msn.com...
[2] http://www.merriam-webster.com...
[3] http://dictionary.reference.com...
wjmelements

Con

My opponent has reduced his argument to semantics. He has presented a cherry-picked definition of morality that makes morality necessarily relative. He also commits semantic flaws to make this final desperate case, which I will point out soon. All of his arguments, save three, rely on these cherry-picked and erroneous definitions. One relies on equivocation, another on ignorance, and the third on a false dilemma. All are logical fallacies, and so my opponent's case crumbles.

==Definitions==
Contrary to my opponent's claim earlier this round, my opponent has claimed to have defined morality twice in earlier rounds, including the rant "Morality, as I have defined, is our ability to determine what is right and what is wrong, and then act upon that knowledge." I showed last round that this definition was baseless, and my opponent has dropped it.

My opponent then brings forth a volley of thirteen definitions of the adjective "moral," when the resolution clearly contains the noun. Last round, I put forth a definition for the noun which was unchallenged. It reads:
"principles of right and wrong as they govern standards of general or sexual behavior"
This definition is not cherry-picked, because under it, there is an open debate. Under my opponent's, there can not. This definition is the only one applicable to the resolution. This definition is also uncontested and (therefore) agreed upon by both debaters. Because of this, I will assume its usage.

==Clarifications==
My opponent uses equivocation, a logical fallacy [1], to argue that a definition of absolute used in mathematical proofs also applies to this debate. The definition that applies in this debate is the one my opponent presented in round 2, "viewed independently; not comparative or relative; ultimate; intrinsic." My opponent seeks to change the definition so that he can change the scope of the debate. The definition applicable to this debate has no "universal" requirement, as my opponent has asserted for a win based in semantics.

The resolution, "All morals are relative" is negated with the presentation of an absolute and objective morality. A morality is absolute if and only if it is not comparative and viewed independently.

==Rights Versus Morals==
My opponent has argued that because rights and morals have separate definitions, they are incompatible. This argument relies on a false dilemma, a logical fallacy [2]. A rectangle and a rhombus both have different definitions as well; however, that does not mean that something cannot be both (i.e., a square is both). My opponent has not attacked my round 4 argument that they are compatible in this instance, so this objection is defeated.

==Alleged Limitations==
My opponent has asserted that fetuses have rights over their body under my argument. He does not confront my argument that only cognitive individuals have rights through my proof; he merely claims that fetuses are genetically human, which is entirely irrelevant to my standard. My opponent's objection, as I stated last round, is based on ignorance of my argument.

==Derivation==
My opponent repeats that happiness does not justify actions, pointing to "societal norms." This objection is flawed in two ways. First, societal norms are irrelevant, because this proof is viewed independently. Second, following utilitarianism, as I stated last round (and my opponent has not contested), acts deemed immoral by societal norm (murder, rape, etc) are all immoral. My opponent's objection is false in both situation and application.

My opponent's new objection is that I must not submit a moral position in a debate over moral relativism. This statement is incredibly foolish, considering that my opponent stated earlier in his argument that one of the ways I can refute the resolution is by presenting an absolute morality.

My opponent then concedes that my argument follows logically from my premises, so my derivation stands.

==Misquoting==
I do not see where I misquoted my opponent; however, if he points this out in the comments section, I will properly apologize.

==Moral Evolution==
My opponent refers here to a second-round argument that I refuted in my second round. So, I have no reason to discuss that point further.

My fourth-round objection, that moral evolution is entirely irrelevant to the debate because absolute morality is not required to be universal.

==Human Knowledge==
My opponent again contradicts himself in his own round. He claimed at the beginning of the round that "I did not define morality," yet at the end, he claimed "My definition is in fact sourced", referring to my statement that "this objection on a still unsourced definition of morality." My opponent still has yet to warrant his definition of morality, and because he has conceded mine, his argument regarding human knowledge is, again, invalid, because morals are not required to be believed by all to be viewed independently and not comparative or relative.

==Conclusion==
Ladies and gentlemen, I appreciate that you've taken the time to read this long debate. Unfortunately, as in many philosophy debates, it fell to a debate about definitions very early. The new definitions my opponent chose in the last round were not only unfairly introduced in the last round and inapplicable to the resolution at hand, but also blatantly unfair for the context of the debate, as evident by his conclusion: "By simple definitions, all morals are by necessity relative."

I, on the other hand, have presented an absolute morality. It is applicable to all moral dilemmas and was arrived at through the objective science of biology, as my opponent concedes. Because this morality is not based in collective subjective relativity, but in the objective fact of self-determination, it is sufficient to negate the resolution. Not all morals are relative. At least one is objective and absolute.

The resolution is negated.

Sources:
[1] http://fallacyfiles.org...
[2] http://fallacyfiles.org...
Debate Round No. 5
72 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Spaztoid 5 years ago
Spaztoid
That is a logically flawed assertion. One can have personal morals and believe that no single moral perspective is superior to another for they are not mutually exclusive concepts. While it is true that one cannot act without personal morals, one can also believe that one's own morals are not superior to anther's.
Posted by tBoonePickens 5 years ago
tBoonePickens
Again, if you believe that all morals are equivalent then you cannot have any preference over which morals to use yourself; one can only use morals in one's life if one believes that ones moral's are the correct ones. Ergo, one can only operate morality from an absolute position.
Posted by Spaztoid 7 years ago
Spaztoid
@dmarais

I suppose there is something that should be made clear. I believe in moral relativity, however I also have a personal set of morals. In my mind, killing is unjustified unless used in personal defence against an immediate threat. Therefore genocide in my mind is wrong.

Moral relativity only claims that no single set of morals is superior to another. This does not mean that because I believe in moral relativity I don't also have a personal set of beliefs; just that I accept that my way of living may be flawed and that someone, even one who directly opposes my beliefs, may have a perfectly valid set of morals as well.

Additionally, on a broader scale, people can still act on their morals while believing that morals are relative. To that end, if someone find a problem with something like genocide, they can still speak out against it. What they cannot do is assume that they are morally right because someone is committing an act that they find morally wrong.
Posted by dmarais 7 years ago
dmarais
you realize that you just admitted that there is no moral basis to speak out against genocide right?
Posted by dmarais 7 years ago
dmarais
wel at least you admitted it... most don't dare to take their beliefs to the logical extreme
Posted by Spaztoid 7 years ago
Spaztoid
@dmarais

Yes. While I personally am in favor of the later, there is no method for demonstrating or indeed proving that the former system is any less valid. Most people find it difficult to accept that thier own moral system may not be the single absolute moral imperative, however with the lack of any truely unbiased perspective, they cannot prove thier morals to be absolute.
Posted by dmarais 7 years ago
dmarais
@ spaztoid

"Moral Relativity states that there is no one correct moral system, and thus all moral systems are equal."

so the moral system that decided that the hutu should kill the tutsi in rwanda

is equal

to the moral system that all human beings are created equal and have a right to life liberty and prosperity?
Posted by Spaztoid 7 years ago
Spaztoid
The greatest part about debate is that you can say whatever you want. However, unless you can support it, it doesn't mean anything.

Moral relativity is in direct opposition to moral absolution, both of which are philosophical positions. Moral Absolution is the belief that there is one set of morals which are universally right and thus all other moral systems are flawed in some way. Moral Relativity states that there is no one correct moral system, and thus all moral systems are equal.
Posted by tBoonePickens 7 years ago
tBoonePickens
Lol!

Moral relativity is meaningless. It's just a useless point of view. It says absolutely nothing. It cancels itself out. How's that for an argument based upon the subject at hand!
Posted by Spaztoid 7 years ago
Spaztoid
You have a fundamental misunderstanding of what moral relativity is. Try again when you can actually form an argument based upon the subject at hand.
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