The Instigator
bvand
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Zealous1
Pro (for)
Winning
9 Points

Altruism is Real. True Selflessness Can be Found.

Do you like this debate?NoYes+0
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Vote Here
Con Tied Pro
Who did you agree with before the debate?
Who did you agree with after the debate?
Who had better conduct?
Who had better spelling and grammar?
Who made more convincing arguments?
Who used the most reliable sources?
Reasons for your voting decision - Required
1,000 Characters Remaining
The voting period for this debate does not end.
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/18/2011 Category: Society
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,602 times Debate No: 15453
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (4)
Votes (3)

 

bvand

Con

Merriam Webster Definition of Altruism:

1. unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others
2. behavior by an animal that is not beneficial to or may be harmful to itself but that benefits others of its species

Every act that I can think of, there is some motive behind it. Religion, fame, respect, payment. While some motives may be easier to identify than others, there is always a reason for an action.

I implore someone to prove me wrong. I will reserve more of my arguments for later rounds.
Zealous1

Pro


I thank my opponent for creating this worthy debate.



As Pro, I must only show one or more examples of altruism. Con most obviously believes that altruism doesn’t exist, but I can easily prove Con wrong.


To do so, I must use Con’s definition of altruism. “Behavior by an animal that is not beneficial to or may be harmful to itself but that benefits others of its species”. Because of this definition provided by my opponent, I win if I show an example of an animal displaying altruism.


The following is quoted from (http://en.wikipedia.org...)




  • Dogs often adopt orphaned cats, squirrels, ducks and even tigers.

  • Dolphins support sick or injured animals, swimming under them for hours at a time and pushing them to the surface so they can breathe.

  • Wolves and wild dogs bring meat back to members of the pack not present at the kill.

  • Male baboons threaten predators and cover the rear as the troop retreats.

  • Gibbons and chimpanzees with food will, in response to a gesture, share their food with others of the group. Chimpanzees will help humans and conspecifics without any reward in return.

  • Bonobos have been observed aiding injured or handicapped bonobos.

  • Vampire bats commonly regurgitate blood to share with unlucky or sick roost mates that have been unable to find a meal, often forming a buddy system.

  • Raccoons inform conspecifics about feeding grounds by droppings left on commonly shared latrines. A similar information system has been observed to be used by common ravens.

  • In numerous bird species, a breeding pair receives support in raising its young from other "helper" birds, including help with the feeding of its fledglings. Some will even go as far as protecting an unrelated bird's young from predators

  • Most mammal carnivores like wolves or dogs have a habit of not harming pack members below certain age, of opposite sex or in surrendering position (in case of some animals, the behavior exists within entire species rather than one pack).

  • Vervet Monkeys give alarm calls to warn fellow monkeys of the presence of predators, even though in doing so they attract attention to themselves, increasing their personal chance of being attacked.

  • Walruses have been seen adopting orphans who lost their parents to predators.

  • Some termites release a sticky secretion by fatally rupturing a gland near the skin in their neck. This autothysis defends against invading ants by creating a tar baby effect.

  • Meerkats often have one standing guard to warn whilst the rest feed in case of predators attack.

  • African buffalo will rescue a member of the herd captured by predators.



As you can clearly see, animals display true altruism. I provided over fifteen examples of this. Therefore I have completely refuted my opponent’s position and have proved that altruism is possible. Because of this, I would ask that you vote Pro. Thank you.



Debate Round No. 1
bvand

Con

I apologize for my confusing wording. I simply meant to post all definitions that Merriam Webster states in regards to altruism. In reference to animals, I think what is important to take from it is the fact that it "is not beneficial to or may be harmful to itself but that benefits others of its species" and apply that concept to humans.

Yet, I do not wish to waste the round.

While you gave many examples of animals it seems only fair that I try to refute at least a few of them:
-Most of the examples do not even relate nor apply to the above definition. The definition states "...that benefits others of its species" and most of your wikipedia examples are in reference to animals helping out animals of other species.
-Many of these examples can be attributed to biology. Whereas it may be detrimental to a baboon to sacrifice himself in order to ward off a predator while the troop retreats, it is more beneficial to the community as a whole. Of course Meerkats can also be applied to this since if one Meerkat is standing guard, the rest benefit as a whole (which is not to say the guard will die due to starvation).
-Dolphins, wolves, and apes are unique animals in the sense that they are seen as being caring. This trait has evolved to become this way since it has been beneficial. Just as buffalo protect their own from predators and wolves bring back meat for all members of the pack, these acts of kindness are done because in the past it has been proven to be evolutionarily beneficial.

Alas I am not a biologist or animal expert by any means.

Please do make an effort to see my argument from a human standpoint. In doing so, try to refrain from copy and pasting off of wikipedia as your argument.
Zealous1

Pro

Ah, but a mistake made is a mistake made. The definition is already out in the air, and it is too late. Voters, please realize that because the definition was there, it is considered defined that way. I will be addressing humans later.

Burden of proof:

I'd like to point out that because Con started this debate and has not specified that I should have the burden of proof, it is assumed that Con has the burden of proof. Because the resolution states that altruism is NEVER possible at ANY circumstance, that means Con has to prove that no matter what, there's always a selfish motive behind everything. Con has not proved that. The most he/she can do is try to prove my examples wrong.

On the flip side, that means if I can prove just one instance of true altruism, then I win because I have refuted the resolution.

"Yet, I do not wish to waste the round."

I do not wish to waste the round either. Next time, define altruism with only the first. But it is too late in this context.

1. Okay, I'll take this. Remember, I only need one example of altruism to win this debate.
This response only removes Chimpanzees and dogs, though.

2. This argument did not make sense. Con is trying to say that because the animal's actions are beneficial to the community, it's not altruism. Is Con trying to disregard the definition that was used in response 1? The definition says "but is beneficial to others of its species". Others of a Baboon's community is part of its species. The Baboon and meerkat's actions benefit others of its species, not itself. That is exactly the definition. This response does not stand.

Secondly, even if this response did stand, it only applies to Baboons and Meerkats. There are several more.

Please disregard this response because it's clearly illogical.

3. First, let's not get into evolution, because that's scratchy business. I do not believe in evolution, but this would become a debate about evolution rather than altruism. So with this alone I ask that you disregard this response.

Secondly, My response is the same as the one to 2. It is beneficial to the whole, but not to the actual animal doing so. It is altruism.




I conceded 1, but 2. and 3. were illogical. 1 only took out Chimps and dogs, so all of the rest of my examples still stand.

Please do make an effort to see my argument from a human standpoint

You can't reverse your definition. But I'll bring up an argument about humans as well anyways. I only need one example to disprove your resolution.

"try to refrain from copy and pasting off of wikipedia as your argument."

Why is that? Is evidence not allowed in a debate? I should say that evidence is preferable. Secondly, I copy rather than type it out because that ensures I do not change the meaning of what was stated in the article.

In keeping with my promise, I bring up the argument about humans:

1. Jesus.

Jesus was fully God and fully human. Dying on the cross was an act of altruism. What benefit did it bring to him? None. This alone is enough to prove there is such a thing as altruism. But, if you truly wish a "regular" human, here you go:

2. Humans in general

Humans do acts of altruism every day! All around us there is altruism. Here are just a few of the many examples:

a. Giving money to the poor. How does this benefit the giver?
b. Acts of love. When a husband comes home having spent his last money to buy some roses for his wife, how does this benefit him?
c. Saving another's life by risking your own. Take for example a man who dives into the street, tackling another to save him from an oncoming truck while putting his own life in danger. What could there possibly be of benefit to the savior?

All of these are examples of altruism. But there are thousands more. A printer breaks down which man A does not use. But he takes the time out of his busy schedule to fix it for men B, C, and D, not because it benefits them but because he is helping others.


Voters, as you can see, I have shown many an example of altruism. Con simply cannot refute the fact animals do sarcrifice their own good for the good of others. This alone is enough for me to win the round because Con defined altruism as human and animal, whether it was a mistake or not is irrelevant. It's like saying "Oops, didn't mean to read that evidence, because it destroys my case!" and trying to argue that because it was a mistake the other team can not use it against you.

Also remember that my opponent has the burden of proof. Remember back to your Geometry class when you had to PROVE something? Let's say you were proving the Pythagorean Theorem. You could not prove it by simply using 3, 4, and 5 as the sides of the triangle. No, you had to prove it with variables. In other words, ANY number plugged into these variables WILL work.

Con can not prove the resolution simply by giving examples of seeming altruism but actual beneficial motivation. In fact, Con can not even prove the resolution even if he/she was able to adequately refute ALL of my examples! Con must actually prove with solid logic or good evidence that in ALL cases, human and animal, altruism never has existed and never will.

Thank you, please vote Pro because Con has not fulfilled the burden of proof and has not adequately responded to my animal argument.

Debate Round No. 2
bvand

Con

Unfortunately, I see a lot of words but not much being said.

Merriam Webster defined the word Altruism as said above. It is inappropriate to pick and choose what suits me out of the definition. In Round 1 however, you will see no mention of animals. If I had wished to argue that, I would have made a mention of it in Round 1 other than what was stated in an alternative definition.

Since you are relentless in arguing a topic that is in no way related, I am forced to confront it.

As I said to you in regard to animal examples: I would attempt to "refute at least a few of them" which is exactly what I did. Your entire argument is built upon 15 examples which were derived from a source other than your own brain. I am not willing to go through each one individually and explain to you why it is incorrect in my view, yet you obviously havent either. If you had read my rebuttle in Round 2 or even "your" own examples, you surely would have realized that there is something wrong with them.

On to the intended topic of discussion:

If you are so willingly going to sweep evolution under the rug, than so will I in respect to Jesus and his divinity. This is simply a belief.

Now on to your "acts of altruism"

All of these display motive as I stated in my first sentence of this debate.

a. Prove to me that someone does not give money to feel good about themselves or become famous for doing so. Prove to me that one does not do this to make up for past wrongs or religious reasons.
b. Prove to me that the husband did not do so in the hope that the wife would reciprocate. Prove to me that he does not do so in an effort to feel good about himself.
c. Prove to me that one does not to this in an effort to be remembered as a hero.

You have spent so much time trying to find irrelevant flaws in my argument that when it actually comes to producing a response to it, you have proven incompetent in doing so. Every one of your examples shows a possible motive. I asked you to prove to me that an altruistic action exists, therein without motive.

What makes the printer example at all an act of altruism? It is simply the same as all the rest. What if he wished to impress a girl, make more money, feel good about himself, or maybe he did it for religious reasons? He could have done it so he didn't get coal in his stocking for Christmas. There are countless examples of motive that you have ignored. Perhaps you should have reverted back to Wikipedia for your answers.

Motive is what makes humans unable to commit an act of true altruism. Pro has failed to show me that such an act exists. Therefore, and to my regret, I admit that humans cannot commit a true act of altruism.

When it simply comes down to it, the topic over which the debate was designed was avoided by Pro until the last possible moment and then, when a response was finally given, it contradicted my very first sentence of the entire debate! Pro has failed.
Zealous1

Pro

"Merriam Webster defined the word Altruism as said above. It is inappropriate to pick and choose what suits me out of the definition. In Round 1 however, you will see no mention of animals. If I had wished to argue that, I would have made a mention of it in Round 1 other than what was stated in an alternative definition."

I agree it wasn't exactly your intent. But it was defined as such, and therefore we must argue it that way. As I said, next time use the definition you want. Secondly, you said "It is inapropriate to pick and choose what suits me out of the definition". That means you can't pick just humans. You just proved that we have to include animals.

"As I said to you in regard to animal examples: I would attempt to "refute at least a few of them" which is exactly what I did. Your entire argument is built upon 15 examples which were derived from a source other than your own brain. I am not willing to go through each one individually and explain to you why it is incorrect in my view, yet you obviously havent either. If you had read my rebuttle in Round 2 or even "your" own examples, you surely would have realized that there is something wrong with them."

Voters, do you see a logical rebuttal of my examples? No. Just an illogical argument saying that there is something wrong with them. I already argued for my examples in the last speech and because my opponent did not actually rebut my argument, they are conceded and I win on that point. Again, since my opponent has the burden of proof, this alone is enough for me to win.

Secondly, my opponent is claiming that I did not read my examples. How can Con claim this? It's illogical that I wouldn't read them. It's like quoting evidence that you don't even know the content of. It would be dangerous for me to do so. Of course I read them.

If you are so willingly going to sweep evolution under the rug, than so will I in respect to Jesus and his divinity. This is simply a belief.

Fair enough. I don't even need this example because of the animal acts and the human ones which I'm getting on to.

Acts of altruism

First, Con has the burden of proof, not me. Con is trying to make me prove my arguments, when Con is supposed to prove just the opposite. You see, Con completely dropped my argument about Burden of proof. That means Con agrees that he/she has the burden of proof. My opponent is, in essence, conceding that he/she has lost. Do you see any PROOF that humans cannot commit acts of altruism? There is merely speculation that there are many reasons why the person might have done it. No proof. This alone is enough to vote against Con.

But, let's move on.

a.
(1) There are plenty of ways to feel good about yourself. This is a harder way to do so. Why would a human give money to someone if he could do an easier act for this? Plus, Con has not proved that humans never give out of charity only.
(2) How is giving a few dollars to a poor person going to make you famous? If you gave millions or thousands, yes, but not just a few dollars. Plenty of people in their lifetime have done so.
(3) Rarely would someone do this to "make up for past wrongs". What kind of wrongs can you make up for by giving someone some money?
(4) Not all people are religious.
b.
(1) I actually knew this would be the response. Con, since you have the burden of proof and you admitted it, prove to me he DID. Plus, giving your wife flowers isn't at all going to make her do much for you. Maybe a kiss on the cheek which would have been delivered anyways?
(2) Cross-apply (1) of a. Giving all of your last money to do this is not an easy way to feel good. (In fact, the bad feeling you will get from hunger and the lack of money to buy yourself some goods would OUTWEIGH any tiny good feeling you might receive. Overall it's not a net benefit for the person giving it).
c.
(1) When you see a car about to hit someone, do you think "Hmm.. I might go and save the guy's life since I"ll be remembered as a hero!" Nope. You 1. Don't have time to think that. 2. You would be considered an outcast for doing that simply because you want to be remembered as a hero.

Plus, you rather live than die and be remembered. It makes no difference to you if you're remembered once you're dead. It's obviously not a motive one would use. I admit that if it did not put your life in risk, that motive is possible. But no one (or at least VERY FEW) people would put their life in risk to save someone just so they can be remembered as a hero.

You see, I have refuted each statement with logic. And just apply to each one the fact that Con has the burden of proof. He/she can't just tell me to prove it, because my opponent must prove just the opposite.

Think about it. There are MILLIONS of people on earth who have done some of these things. Are you inclined to believe that all of them have done it to be remembered as a hero, to feel good, to be famous, or for religious purposes? Of course not! It is clearly illogical, and Con has not proved it.


Printer example:

Cross-apply everything above, point by point:

(1) Impress a girl -- I said men, not women.
(2) Make more money -- Con is trying to say that such a simple act will give someone a raise? Sorry for the sarcasm, but "Yeah right!"
(3) Feel good -- Not much of a feel good here. It isn't even moral. Cross-apply everything I've said about this.
(4) Religious -- 1. What does fixing a printer have to do with religion?
2. Not everyone is religious.
(5) Santa Claus be good -- Please tell me Con is joking.

Remember, Con hasn't proved any of these and they're illogical anyways.

1. "There are countless examples of motive that you have ignored. Perhaps you should have reverted back to Wikipedia for your answers."

2. "Pro has failed to show me that such an act exists. "

3. "When it simply comes down to it, the topic over which the debate was designed was avoided by Pro until the last possible moment and then, when a response was finally given, it contradicted my very first sentence of the entire debate! Pro has failed."


To all of these: Now Con, in desperation, as gone to the ad hominem?

Point by point:

1. On the other hand, there are countless examples Con has ignored. No comment on the "wikipedia" joke.

2. On the other hand, Con's burden is to show that such an act does NOT exist in any scenario. That's not my burden.

3. Con's intent was probably towards humans (of course there is no way to know for sure), but whether or not it was is irrelevant. Con defined altruism, and animals were in the definition. Con can not change what he/she wrote. Oh, and by the way, the first definition of altruism wasn't specific to humans anyways.


Here's a wrap up of the round:

Con conceded that the burden of proof falls upon her/his shoulders. In essence, Con conceded that you should vote for Pro because my opponent has not at all proved that altruism is impossible in all circumstances.

Secondly, Con did not refute all of my animal examples. These are enough to show that altruism exists. I only pursued this since the definition 2 talks about animals.

Third, there are millions of people who have done the acts that I described above. I've shown how AT LEAST one has had to have done it without looking at his own potential benefit.

Lastly, think about it for yourself. Have YOU ever done something without thinking of the benefits for yourself? Do you think anyone else has?

Because I have shown how altruism does exist and Con has not shown it does not (remember the Geometry proof example) please vote Pro.

I would ask that when voting you cast aside personal bias on the issue so as not to mar the decision on the actual debate. The top two buttons do not award points and they are related to what your opinion is. But the rest, I hope, you will treat fairly and vote for whoever fulfilled their burden better. If Con did, by all means vote Con. But I believe that Con did not and that I, Pro, did.

Thanks.
Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by Gileandos 5 years ago
Gileandos
Zealous,
Great debate and great job deflecting the redefining. I have read some of your other debates as well. Great job all around.

Though I do not like your position on wikipedia!!!!!!
Posted by Zealous1 5 years ago
Zealous1
Sorry for the huge space; copying from a word processor sometimes fails.
Posted by Zealous1 5 years ago
Zealous1
This is one of those automatic win debates for the instigator.
Posted by Brock_Meyer 5 years ago
Brock_Meyer
It's incredibly easy to speculate on other's people's motives, which means this debate won't be settled by examples in which we try to assign 'selfish' or 'unselfish' labels.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by RougeFox 5 years ago
RougeFox
bvandZealous1Tied
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 Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Con gave the definition, if you do that, you have to debate by your own definition.
Vote Placed by Gileandos 5 years ago
Gileandos
bvandZealous1Tied
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 Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: All around a clear definition problem and clairity would resolve that. Great arguments on Pro's side.
Vote Placed by BangBang-Coconut 5 years ago
BangBang-Coconut
bvandZealous1Tied
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 Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: It seems a little disappointing to have to vote on this round, as by a mistake from the Con a good bulk of the round was discussing and verifying the resolution. However ultimately Pro's round 2 opening remarks won the round over to them for me. In all honestly would love to see this same round again; only with Con starting out with more clarifications and posting their constructive arguments then.