The Instigator
AnalyticArizonan
Pro (for)
Winning
11 Points
The Contender
ScottyDouglas
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Aquinas' Natural Law Theory cannot accurately explain moral objectivism

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
AnalyticArizonan
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/14/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 5,319 times Debate No: 24270
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (0)
Votes (3)

 

AnalyticArizonan

Pro

I believe that Aquinas' Natural Law Theory fails both logically and Biblically.

Rules
Round 1: Acceptance
Round 2: Arguments
Round 3: Counter-arguments/Rebuttals
Round 4: Conclusions
ScottyDouglas

Con

I thank my opponent for this debate.

I will accept the resolution and will attempt to negate it.

My resolution is: Aquinas' Natural Law Theory can accurately explain moral objectivism

Lets define some things here:

Accurately- consistent with a standard, rule, or model; precise; exact.
Explain- to make plain or clear; render understandable or intelligible.
Moral- expressing or conveying truths or counsel as to right conduct.
Objectivism- a tendency to lay stress on the objective or external elements of cognition.
http://dictionary.reference.com...

Hopefully this helps us out.

Rounds:
1. Acceptance.
2. Arguementa
3. Rebuttals
4. Rebuttals/Conclusion

I accept this structure and send it back to Pro!
I await your arguement.
Debate Round No. 1
AnalyticArizonan

Pro

Moral Objectivism: A meta-ethical theory that claims that moral statements are either true or false regardless of any rational beings opinion, including God's, for He is a rational being and surely cannot contradict objective morality.

Accurately explain: Not only being consistent, exact, and precise in making clear a proposition or set of propositions but also logically sound.

I will present two main objections to Aquinas' Natural Law theory. The first objection is that on many issues, the theory either leads to absurd conclusions or is unfounded. The second objection is that Aquinas' view of Natural Law and Eternal Law contradict the actions of God in the Bible.

First of all, Aquinas claims that one can glean the morality of certain actions from nature itself, such as contraception. A modern formulation of Aquinas' argument might appear as follows:

1. Anything that violates the natural purpose of an action or body part is morally wrong.
2. Contraception is an action that violates the natural purpose of human coitus, since the production of children is the natural purpose of human coitus
3. Therefore, contraception is morally wrong.

∀x(~Nx-->Wx)
~Nc
Wc

The argument is logically valid but is it sound?

I find a problem with premise 1.

By reductio ad absurdum, we can see the absurd conclusions that an argument based on premise 1 can lead.

1. Anything that violates the natural purpose of an action or body part is morally wrong.
2. The licking of envelopes violates the natural purpose of the tongue, since the natural purpose of the tongue is to communicate and taste.
3. Therefore, the licking of envelopes is morally wrong.

∀x(~Nx-->Wx)
~Nl
Wl

1. Anything that violates the natural purpose of an action or body part is morally wrong.
2. Drinking any beverage socially violates the natural purpose of drinking, which is the quenching of thirst.
3. Therefore, drinking any beverage socially is morally wrong.

∀x(~Nx-->Wx)
~Nd
Wd

I see no reason to accept premise 1 as a rational tool for determining rightness or wrongness.

My second objection is to Aquinas' belief that the Natural Law, which is supposedly objective, flows directly from the Eternal Law which Aquinas' claims is God's nature. This would mean that any action forbidden or allowed by Natural Law is part of God's nature. Since God cannot contradict His own nature, He could not commit an action that violates Natural Law. But God did contradict the Natural Law when He commanded the sacrifice of Isaac.

1. If the Natural Law flows directly from the Eternal Law and the Eternal Law is God's nature, then the Natural Law flows directly from God's nature.
2. If the Natural Law flows directly from God's nature, then God cannot contradict it, since His nature is Himself and God cannot contradict Himself.
3. God has contradicted the Natural Law when He commanded the sacrifice of Isaac.
4. Therefore, the Natural Law cannot directly flow from God's nature.
5. If the Natural Law cannot flow from God's nature, then Aquinas' theory that claims it does is unsound.
6. Therefore, Aquinas' theory is unsound.

((F&E)-->N)
(N-->C)
~C
~N
(~N-->A)
A

Premises 1 and 2 are consistent with Aquinas' theory.
Premise 3 should be obvious as commanding a man to kill his only son is surely morally wrong in any moral objectivist system.
Premises 4, 5, and 6 logically follow.

These are a few opening arguments. I eagerly await my opponent's arguments.
ScottyDouglas

Con

I thank my opponent for this debate.

==Opening==

I will start off by explaining some things and then go on to my opponents arguement.

I would like to make links between laws of nature and ethicial principles. My opponent suggested Moral objectivism is in contrast with Natural Law and in fact is moral in itself. I also would like to dispell both notions. I provide some deffinitions:

Natural Law- or the law of nature, is a system of law which is purportedly determined by nature, and thus universal.

Moral objectivism- The meta-ethical position that ethical sentences express factual propositions about robust or mind-independent features of the world, and that some such propositions are true.

Consequentialism- is the class of normative ethical theories holding that the consequences of one's conduct are the ultimate basis for any judgment about the rightness of that conduct.

"Objectivism" denotes that morality is objective. Subjectivism holds that morality is subjective. Relativism holds that morality is relative. Natural law holds that morality is natural.

We want to know whether there are objective values (which I take for the same question as whether morality is objective). It may be asked, what shall we say if it turns out that some values are objective and some are not? Or another what if basic morals are natural for most?

==Validation of Natural Law by Thomas Aquinas==

Moral objectivism is probably the subject concerning which more nonsense has been written and said in modern times than any other in moral philosophy. I suspect this is partly because people wish to provide arguments in favor without first having a clear idea of what morality is. I am not chiefly concerned herein to defend any particular moral claims, although I shall mention some uncontroversial moral truths for debative purposes.

For the natural law theorist, without moral validity, there can be no ethical validity. That is, if a man-made law goes against the higher code of morality, following the man-made law is in no way obligatory.

One might then suppose that for a natural law theorist the question of when a law is legally valid reduces to the question of when a law is morally valid. But when is a law morally valid? This is not a question to which natural law theorists devote much time because they consider morality to be fixed and known naturally, or innately, to all men. Moral validity, then, is intuitive.

For a system of law to be valid, it must satisfy at least the following criteria: rules must be decided and promulgated in an understandable way in advance of being enforced, and rules cannot be contradictory, applied retroactively, or otherwise impossible to follow.

According to natural law, the force of validity, even for legal systems themselves, stems from morality.

In contrast to natural law theory, Laws are not facts of nature to be discovered; instead they are rules posited by men. It is important to note that legal positivism does not deny the existence of a correlation between law and morality; rather, it claims that morality is not necessary for legal validity. Legal positivism is open to much criticism. The natural law theorist is not at all satisfied by legal positivism because legal positivism may admit legal validity to immoral laws.
Natural law theory, which is immune to these problems, depends on a fixed morality for a society which is known to the members of the society. To speak of a morality for a given society there would have to be a set of morals which the society would adopt.

Then, however, every law becomes optional, and people can choose to break laws because they go against their personal moral preferences, their likes and dislikes. This would lead to the dissolution of a system of law entirely. Thus, the non-optional obligation of law can be seen as a necessary feature of morality also. As the positivist asserts, a law is a law, even if we do not like it or if we believe that its content is wrong. To think otherwise would lead to the state of anarchy. In which objectivism is headed.

It is perhaps too easy for the modern American legal and moral objectivist to respond that morals are not obritary as they can abolished or amended. But there are many legal systems that deny moral value in which there is either no procedure for change or such a procedure is inaccessible to some members of the society.

==Rebuttal to opponent==

Moral objectivness stands in contrast to other categories of normative ethical theories such as consequentialism, which holds that the morality (in the wide sense) of an act depends on the consequences or the context of the act.
:The argument is logically valid but is it sound?:

IS LICKING A IMPROPER FUNCTION OF THE TONGUE?
Licking is a proper useage of the tongue and licking envolopes is valid. It maybe unhealthy or unimportant biologically but very valid as a use.

:My second objection is to Aquinas' belief that the Natural Law, which is supposedly objective, flows directly from the Eternal Law which Aquinas' claims is God's nature. This would mean that any action forbidden or allowed by Natural Law is part of God's nature. Since God cannot contradict His own nature, He could not commit an action that violates Natural Law. But God did contradict the Natural Law when He commanded the sacrifice of Isaac.:

DID ABRAHAM SACRIFICE ISSAC?
God did order abraham to sacrifice Issac but He stopped him before hand. This was not that God wanted Issac to die but a test of faith and loyalness in Abraham.

==Close==

Thanks again to my opponent and I send it back his way....

References:
Aquinas, Thomas. Summa Theologiae in The Philosophy of Law. Ed. Schauer. pp. 12-14.
``Philosophy of Law'. http://www.utm.edu....
Schauer, Frederick and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Ed. The Philosophy of Law: Classic and Contemporary Readings with Commentary. Harcourt Brace and Company, 1996.
http://www.philosophy.hku.hk... http://www.iep.utm.edu... http://www.aquinasonline.com... http://en.wikipedia.org... http://en.wikipedia.org...
Debate Round No. 2
AnalyticArizonan

Pro

My opponent has sort of gone off on an irrelevant tangent about Natural Law vs. Legal Positivism. I am going to stand by my arguments and press him on the Sacrifice of Isaac.

I think we can all agree that commanding a man to kill his own son is immoral, no matter what the intentions of the agent commanding such an act. The act itself is wrong and Natural Law theory agrees with me. Where we disagree is that they claim that God is somehow exempt from morality, which doesn't work if they claim that morality is founded in God's nature and God cannot go against that nature. If you accept the Biblical account of Genesis, then you accept that God did command Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. It is irrelevant whether God stopped Abraham before he could kill Isaac. God still commanded what Aquinas' theory would call immoral.

I would say the safest ethical theory to hold to regarding God and morality is Divine Command Theory. Otherwise, you would be rationally obligated to say that God committed an immoral act.
ScottyDouglas

Con

I thank my opponent for this debate.

My oppoenent seemed to think I was off base. I was simply showing that Objectivism is simply objection of Thomas Aquinas's Natural Law. Natural states that we all have a internal moral code that all should follow but Objectivism refuses this and denies thier internal moral code.

==Validation of Natural Law by Thomas Aquinas==

Aquinas distinguishes four types of law—human, divine, eternal, and natural—as follows:

Human law—"an ordinance of reason for the common good promulgated by him
who has the care of the community."

Eternal law —God's plan for all of creation.

Natural law—The part of eternal law that applies to human beings; it is God's plan
for us. Natural law can be discerned by unaided human reason, and it consists in the correct moral principles. E.g. "it is never permissible intentionally to kill an innocent human being," and "one must never intend what is evil, even as a means to achieving a good or avoiding a bad result" are natural laws, in Aquinas's view.

Divine law—the part of eternal law that God reveals to us human beings via
Scripture. If something is against natural law, then it's against divine law too. But some things, primarily of a religious nature, are contrary to divine law but not natural law.

For example, natural reason and natural law tell us that the God of traditional theism exists and should be venerated. But it is only through divine revelation that we can know that baptism, membership in the Christian church, etc. are necessary for our salvation. Aquinas insists that human laws are genuine laws only if they do not contradict either natural or divine law.

==Rebuttal to opponent==

Probably the most controversial parts of Objectivism are these five claims:

(1) Reality is objective.
(2) One should always follow reason and never think or act contrary to reason. (I take this to be the meaning of "Reason is absolute.")
(3) Moral principles are also objective and can be known through reason.
(4) Every person should always be selfish. I can think that this is pretty immoral.
(5) Capitalism is the only just social system. This is in fact untrue and immoral in it's self.

DID ABRAHAM SACRIFICE ISSAC?

So what is the point of this story for us? Understanding the special significance of the place is the key that unlocks the story. A special son had to be sacrificed. Where have we heard that before?

If we think it seems cruel, remember that God only asks Abraham to go through what he himself has gone through in sacrificing his own son for us. Abraham did not have to go all the way through with it, but God did.

Remember Abraham's words to Isaac, when Isaac asked him where the sacrifice was: 'God himself will provide a sacrifice.' Later, at the end of the story, Abraham would name the place 'The Lord will provide.' There is a profound meaning hidden in this name. Literally, God himself provides the sacrifice that is needed.

This strange incident, about two thousand years before Christ, is a picture that points forwards to the special Son who God himself would provide as the sacrifice for our sins, in the place where God's anger would be turned away. All of this story was written down, and widely known, long before Jesus came. Yet he fulfilled it in an amazing way.

How are we supposed to respond? Not just to the story of Abraham and Isaac, but to the underlying reality that the story points to - the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, the special son of God, as a sacrifice for us, provided by God to turn away his anger?

The same way Abraham responded to God's challenge:

Faith:Abraham is described in the Bible as 'the man of faith' (Galatians chapter 3 verses 6-9). Abraham believed what God had said. He believed that God himself would provide a sacrifice, so that he would not have to lose Isaac. The Bible tells us that Abraham was accepted by God because he believed God.

Obedience: Abraham did what God told him, even though it seemed strange and beyond understanding. He did not argue, and he did not delay.

That was Abraham's response, and God is looking for the same response from us.

God gave up his special Son, his only Son, for you and me, as a sacrifice, in the place where his anger was turned away, so that we would not have to face eternal death and separation from him. He looks for us to respond by believing in him.

Skeptics get a lot of mileage from Abraham going through the motions of sacrificing Isaac especially since God requested it. The whole thing flies in the face of morality as we understand it. Not only did Abraham prepare to murder his son but God is complicit, ordering what can only be viewed as ritualized homicide. There's no telling what injustice they might rationalize should they succeed in erasing the Bible's influence from humanity, if such a thing can be done. They, of course, are capable of logical thought but their rational abilities are not well exercised when it comes to events in the Bible. Because they don't believe in God and aren't dispassionate there is no reason to expect them to investigate biblical matters with a serious mind. That is an important observation. These events didn't happen yesterday and the further removed these events are from the present the less likely atheists are to consider relevant cultural details. Social trends in Abraham's day, for example, were very different to ours.

In his day:

Sacrificing children was neither against the law nor uncommon especially in the land of Canaan.
It got worse. Archeological digs in Canaan have shown that children were sacrificed in greater numbers just before Israel took control of the land.

And there were no local or international agencies to enforce child protection laws if they had existed.

None of that means Abraham thought human sacrifice was acceptable. It wouldn't have been a test if he did. There is no reason to think he would have considered such a thing if God hadn't suggested it.

My opponent is a Christian would he say that sacrificing Jesus was immoral as well?

More could be added to this but suffice it to say that complaining about Abraham in the face of present day neglect, particularly when no one died, seems out of focus.

==Close==

I wait my opponents final round.

Resources:
http://www.facingthechallenge.org... � 2012 Focus, 54 The Avenue, Southampton SO17 1XQ, United Kingdom
Registered Charity no. 298007 http://nowthinkaboutit.com... http://web.nmsu.edu...
http://www.donparrish.com... http://world.std.com...
Debate Round No. 3
AnalyticArizonan

Pro

My opponent is confusing moral objectivism, the belief that moral truths actually exist, with Objectivism, the crackpot pseudo-philosophy of Russian-American author Alisa Rosenbaum (Ayn Rand). His refutation of it is interesting but extremely off topic.

God did not ask Abraham to do something He already did. First of all, He commanded Abraham to do it. Second, Christ had not been sent into the world until 1800 years after Abraham.

The fact is that commanding someone to kill their son is immoral IF you believe in objective morality. I personally do not believe that God acted immorally when He commanded Abraham to kill Isaac because morality is subjective upon the will of God. The problem for Natural Law theory is that it believes that the moral law is absolute yet God commanded murder. It is nothing but contradiction to claim that moral objectivism is true and God is moral. One must either say "God is moral and morality is subjective" or "God is immoral and morality is objective".

The part about what other people did at the same time period is odd for someone arguing for moral objectivism as objective morality rejects the idea that moral issues require context or historical situation. That is the idea of objective morality, it is always either moral or immoral.

As a Christian, I believe that Christ's sacrifice on the Cross was very good and moral action. I say this for two reasons. The first is that moral actions are moral based upon the commands of God, contra Aquinas' Natural Law theory. The second is that, as a Christian, I believe that Jesus Christ is the same being as the Father so it was more self-sacrifice then killing His son that is of another being. The two stories aren't analogous at all upon further evaluation. In Abraham's case, it was God commanding a man to kill another being who was his son. In Christ's case, it was God Himself becoming man to die for the world.

In summary, my opponent has failed to show how Aquinas' objectivist moral code can fit with the Biblical account or avoid logical inconsistencies.

If morality is objective and commanding murder is wrong, then God committed an immoral action. (Aquinas' theory)

If morality is subjective, then if God commands someone to murder, it is not immoral (Divine Command Theory, contra Aquinas' theory)

I thank my opponent for this debate and humbly ask the audience to vote Pro.
ScottyDouglas

Con

My opponent say's I'm confusing moral objectivism but I don't think I am off base. I was merely explaining terms of objectivism and naturalism and the opposition. If these words are applied to the term moral then they must be defined.

I am also a Christian and do not think God committed a immoral act at all. I realise that murdering is wrong and immoral. Though I do not think any request by God is wrong because He asks it(I do not question it). Though I see the way we try to hold Him to the same standard as we are commanded. It is not required. God doesn't follow the same laws in which we are confined. Though it seems reasonable that God would not kill unjustly.

There are many ways to reconsile this:
1) Issac could have been a pure sacrifice and fit for forgiving sins.(sacrificing was a way to forgive sins then.)

2) Or that as my opponent mentions Abraham was the one sacrificing and commanded by God. This would be a command from God and would not be immoral for Abraham to do it because he was commanded by God. God also is not under the laws we have. Therefore God knew He would not kill Issac and therefore was never immoral but a test from God to Issac.

3) And morality stems from God and it is in us. God has moral action in His request of Issac being sacrificed. This would be from 1) that by sacrificing Issac many could be saved because of it. This moral action would be knowledge we do not understand and God does so therefore even questioning it is beyond our ability.

The fact is that men commanding someone to kill anyone is immoral but it is not for God. Natural Law theory is that it believes that the moral law is absolute. We can not know the reasons of God to commanded death. It is not a contradiction to claim that moral objectivism is true and God is moral. My opponent suggests it is not but he is wrong.

He did not supply any evidence for his claims. I wonder if this is just his theory?

My opponent never showed us any references to verify his claims here. I do admit I was not completely aware of my opponents stance and I am still troubled by it. But I think I have shown that Objectivism is moral.

I thank my opponent for this debate!
Debate Round No. 4
No comments have been posted on this debate.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by KRFournier 5 years ago
KRFournier
AnalyticArizonanScottyDouglasTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: I have to agree with the other voters that Con's diatribe concerning Objectivism seemed utterly irrelevant. However, I think Con was on the right track in some sense as Pro seemed to be oversimplifying precisely what Aquinas' Natural Law Theory was. Unfortunately, I couldn't see where Con's arguments were sufficient in negating the resolution. I do, however, strongly disagree that Con introduced new arguments. New rebuttals, sure, but not new arguments.
Vote Placed by Stephen_Hawkins 5 years ago
Stephen_Hawkins
AnalyticArizonanScottyDouglasTied
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Reasons for voting decision: I'd make my own long RFD, but I'd be reiterating the previous voter's statements. Conduct for PRO as CON made new arguments in the final round, and CON seemed to not understand what moral objectivism is: referring to Rand's moral theory, then legal morality, then objectivism proper, then jumping back as quickly as it came. It was a muddled mess of equivocation which stopped the arguments from working. PRO picked up on it, pointed it out, therefore PRO.
Vote Placed by socialpinko 5 years ago
socialpinko
AnalyticArizonanScottyDouglasTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Conduct and arguments both go to Pro since Con brought in new arguments in the last round which thus could not have been countered by Pro. This is a clear case of abuse and unacceptable in any debate. Even without that though, Con's arguments before were either based on a misinterpretation of Objectivism (he interpreted it to mean Rand's theory lol) and thus didn't apply to the debate or were based on the customs and law of the time which objectivism refutes i.e. timeless, objective law.