Being a pedophile is not morally wrong
Debate Rounds (5)
Let me be very clear: ABUSING A CHILD IN ANY WAY IS WRONG. No one in their right mind would argue that taking any action that harms, threatens, intimidates, or discomforts a child, especially by a person in a position of power, is anything short of a terrible crime.
However, many people feel that anyone who is a pedophile is inherently evil, even if they fight against their urges because they know they are wrong. I know this is a controversial view, let's keep things civil and have an interesting debate.
In order to avoid assumptions, I will simply say that I accept this debate and allow my opponent to begin.
The definition of pedophilia is as follows: a psychiatric disorder in which an adult or older adolescent experiences a sexual attraction to prepubescent children, generally age 11 years or younger.
Many people think that someone who is a pedophile is an "evil" person, and I disagree. The key term in the definition is psychiatric disorder. Being a pedophile is not a choice, it is a disorder. It can be present from birth (although generally only emerges after puberty) or, in rare cases, caused by brain damage. Now, being a pedophile often leads someone to do bad things, and people who do bad things are generally bad people. The same could be said about a sociopath. A sociopath is a person with a mental disorder that causes a lack of empathy. This could lead a person to do bad things, however it doesn't have to. Sociopaths can and do live fairly normal, peaceful lives without hurting other people, and are even proven to be successful in the business world. The same is true for a pedophile. Studies have shown that the condition can be treated with therapy and prescription medications.
Instead of demonizing pedophiles, much the same as society has done to homosexuals, AIDS patients, and the mentally/physically handicapped in the past, and is currently doing to drug addicts and other groups, I argue that to prevent child abuse we should be a better job of acknowledging that pedophiles cannot control who they are attracted to, and encourage them to seek help. We should praise someone who says "I have a problem, and I want to fix it,".
I would like to start out by saying that I agree that pedophillia is a disorder and needs to be treated as such. We should not create an environment in which pedophiles are not getting help because they are afraid of being labeled and treated as if they were monsters, before they commit horrendous assaults.
Now to the debate:
Firstly, we must clarify what a morally wrong act is. My oopponent seems to be of the opinion that there has to be immoral intentions in an act in order for the act itself to be immoral, but this idea falls short. Using the sociopathic example, we can see that people can murder without seeing the act as wrong. The implication here is that either such an act is not immoral, as there is no immoral intent, or that immoral intent is not a necessary component of an immoral act. Another component of acts that are morally wrong, according to my opponent, is that the acts themselves must be intentional. What I mean, is that my opponent sees an act with accidental or medical causes can't be immoral. This idea falls short as well, considering that sociopathy (and more relevantly, several other ilnesses, notably tumors) can cause a person to commit murder, and the lack of control that the purpetrator has does not make the act any less immoral. In fact, quite a large portion of immorality arises directly due to things outside of human control. The distinction between a bear mauling a person, and a person permitting a bear to maul a person is arbitrary, as far as morality is concerned.
What makes an action immoral, is if the negative moral value it creates is more than the negative moral value its corresponding action would create. A murder is immoral because the death it causes (alongside whatever pain the person or family feels, and so forth) has negative value. Without murdering, the death is avoided, and so murdering is immoral. That is a simplification, but I hope it explains the basis on which I call beIng a pedophile immoral.
Being a pedophile clearly brings more negative value than not being a pedophile. For starters, it greatly increases the numbers of abused children; without people being pedophiles, much less atrocities would occur of this nature. Ignoring that clear fact, being a pedophile causes harm to the pedophiles themselves, given society's treatment of them.
While I agree that it would be very hard to find anyone that could be simplified to the point of being an "evil" person, that does not mean that It's rare to find people doing immoral things, with or without intention.
Finally, once again, I think that the appropriate way to deal with this immoral action is to be more sympathetic towards those who suffer from the disorder, and to try to provide medical care.
I do not maintain the position that an act must have immoral intentions to be immoral. I am unsure how this was conveyed by my argument, as it is a gross misrepresentation of my point. Immoral actions do not need to be intentional, and they can and often are committed by people who have mental disorders. The acts of killing, raping, and molesting are immoral (with some exceptions regarding killing such as self defense).
However, this debate is about whether it is wrong to sexually assault anyone, let alone a child. There is no gray area there. My opponent uses Utilitarianism to justify why the mere existence of pedophiles is immoral. A world without pedophiles is a better one, after all. But if we accept that, as many might be inclined to, we leave ourselves asking many troubling questions. If the world is better without pedophiles, what other mental disorders should we eliminate? Pedophiles are more dangerous that the average human because they have a higher propensity to commit moral acts, but so are many other groups of people. Again, we come back to sociopaths. They, like pedophiles, have a higher likelyhood of committing immoral actions, should they be eliminated? What about religious radicals? The majority would agree that we would be better off without those who support, if not commit, violent acts in the name of religion. Do we eliminate them in the name of a better society? Where does it stop?
Let's come back to the central question; is being a pedophile immoral? My opponent says yes, because they are more inclined to commit immoral actions. But this argument really doesn't make sense. It is akin to saying all pitbulls are dangerous dogs because they are more likely to cause harm to people, or all black people are violent because a majority of violent crime is committed by black people. Neither argument stands up, because even if someone belongs to a group that commits a higher percentage of immoral actions, it does not automatically make that person immoral.
I'll use the example of Erwin Rommel, a general in the Nazi army. Most people would agree that the Nazis were a very bad group of people who committed many immoral actions, and we are better off without them around. But it doesn't hold to reason that someone is a bad person simply because they are a Nazi. Rommel was universally respected after the war for his conduct. His troops were never accused of committing war crimes, any POW he took were treated humanely, and when he received orders to kill or capture Jewish people he ignored them. Rommel, like a pedophile, belongs to a group that are more likely to commit immoral actions, but this does not make them automatically immoral. Rommel proves that it is possible to be a moral person in very bad circumstances, and proves once again that men should be judged by their actions, nothing else.
We seem to agree that pedophilia is a mental health issue, and as such should be treated medically not punitively, so there's no reason to argue over that. I turn it over to creedhunt
I apologize for making the assumption that your position was dependant on the idea of choice and intention. This was based on the use of the term choice in relation to their "evilness", and how the fact that it was a disorder was of key importance. Some clarification would be much appreciated.
I do not use utilitarianism in my debate. It is understandable that such a message came across, but the greatest quantity of happiness for the greatest quantity of people is irrelevant to this debate. Instead, I am working upon the shared assumption that child abuse is wrong, alongside the assumption that pedophillia should be treated medically. I am applying consequentialist reasoning to this, because then this is a simple matter of how good and bad things are, and we don't have to get caught up in virtue or deontological ethics.
I never stated that the existence of people who are pedophiles is immoral, because that would require looking into the value of a person, and that's irrelevant to the debate. I stated that the specific act of being afflicted with pedophilia is immoral, in a similar sense to how being afflicted with depression is immoral. I am not stating that it would be moral to eliminate those with either disorder, I am saying that the presence of depression is immoral; that being depressed is, in and of itself, unethical. The same reasoning applies to pedophiles.
Pedophiles aren't simply statistically more likely to abuse children, pedophilia is an active force that could easily be viewed as causing the immoral acts. People who have plans and intentions to murder people aren't just more likely to act unethically, the plans and intentions themselves are immoral, as they work to cause murders.
Pedophilia may not definitively and in all cases actually come to its fruition, but it very often does. Being black does not cause one to commit crimes.
Long term consequences can not be accounted for in this debate, as they are fully unknown to both of us. Murder (with exceptions of self defense and whatnot) is immoral. One can murder, and by extention manage to save the lives of many people. This does nothing to change the fact that the generalized action of murder is wrong. Similarly, if being a pedophile helped a person cure pedophilia, we both have (more or less) agreed that such an action would be good. This wouldn't prove that pedophillia is not, on balance, immoral. Being a Nazi is immoral. One can still be a Nazi in such a fashion that is morally good. if I were to state that people have ten fingers, I'm sure you would agree, dispute that fact not being without exception.
My opponent still seems to think that I am of the opinion that pedophiles are evil or immoral, when this is not so. I do not think that those who have littered are immoral or evil people, but I still might think that the act of littering is immoral. Ghandi may have done some immoral things, but that has little effect on how morally positive his presence was.
My opponent sees pedophilia as something that is should be cured. The logical confusion being that curing pedophilia and being rid of it is positive. We can deduce from this that my opponent is of the opinion that the presence of pedophilia is negative. I am making the conclusion from this, that pedophillia is immoral. I am further concluding that any action that brings about pedophilia is immoral in that regard. Being pedophilic increases pedophilia, and is therefore immoral. The act of being pedophilic is not intentional, but is never the less unethical.
I also would like to emphasize that the abuse of children is not the only negative consequence of being a pedophile. As a disorder, it is defined as having a negative impact upon the sufferer's behalf. We can certainly see this, as society acts punitively towards it. If my opponent thinks that all of these negative effects of being a pedophile are nonexinstant, or possibly thinks that pedophilia has some sort of positive effect, I would like to know.
I await my opponent's response.
Canuckleball forfeited this round.
I feel like this debate has come down to a semantics issue. My opponent and I seem like we agree on what I set out to argue; namely that simply being a pedophile is not, in and of itself, morally wrong.
No one here believes pedophilia is a valuable part of society. It is a mental disorder that ruins lives, similar to many others. My opponent says "being depressed is, in and of itself, unethical,". This is a very troubling statement, one that implies that people with a mental illness are somehow responsible for their affliction. I think we can agree that no one chooses to be mentally ill. So where is the immorality in depression? The victim does nothing wrong, they are hit by depression through no fault of their own. So how can it be immoral? Depression, and all other mental afflictions, are amoral. They are just a force of nature, something that is. Morality doesn't apply to the concept of depression, or the concept of pedophilia, no more than morality applies to a broken leg or a gust of wind. Morality is a construct to guide human actions. This means that only actions can be judged morally. Pedophilia is not an action, and thus can't be said to be moral or immoral. Child abuse is an action, and can and is judged to be immoral. Pedophilia can cause immoral actions, but to describe a pedophile as immoral for being a pedophile is wrong. We should judge pedophiles solely on their actions, with regard to their condition only when we consider how to treat/punish them.
My opponent's argument is best summed up in his paragraph where he talks about curing pedophilia. I'll clean up the form of the argument a bit to make it read easier.
P1. Pedophilia is a negative thing.
C1. Therefore, pedophilia is immoral.
P2. Actions that bring about immoral actions are immoral.
P3. Being pedophilic increases pedophilia.
C2. Therefore, pedophilia is immoral.
I think this is a fair representation of my opponents argument, as I used mostly his own words. This argument is flawed, however. Because not all negative things are immoral, the first part of the argument is not valid. The second part of the argument is valid, however it contains a dubious premise. P3 states that "being pedophilic increases pedophilia", however this is a very weak point. How exactly does being pedophilic increase pedophilia? It sounds like pedophilia is a virus that can spread, or a bad habit that gets worse over time from the wording he uses. I assume by "being pedophilic" he means engaging in activities assosciated with pedophiles, such as watching child porn, staking out parks, or molestation. Now, these actions are all immoral, but they don't cause pedophilia, it works the other way around. Being pedophilic simply does not cause pedophilia.
To summarize, I argue that pedophilia is bad, just like depression, hurricanes, floods, droughts, AIDS, cancer, religious extremism, and many other things in the world. But I can't call depression immoral, or a hurricane immoral, because they are not actions. They do not behave. Only behaviours can be judged morally, by the very definition of morality. Pedophilia is not a behaviour, and therefore cannot be immoral. Being bad and being immoral are different things. What actions occur because of pedophilia may be immoral, becuase they are actions and can be judged as moral or immoral. Suicide can be moral or immoral, but depression cannot. Depression is a terrible thing, but not an immoral one. Pedophilia is a terrible thing, and may cause many people to commit immoral actions. I agree we should do everything we can to treat it, but I cannot call it immoral. That would display a lack of understanding of the concept of morality.
As this is my last round, I would just ask my opponent to show how pedophilia, the mental disorder, is immoral. That is the topic of debate after all, and I think we are now clear that bad things are not always immoral things. How does an amoral concept, like a mental disorder, become judged as immoral?
Thank you for an excellent debate!
creedhunt forfeited this round.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by 8elB6U5THIqaSm5QhiNLVnRJA 1 year ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Con Forfeited to Pro's rebuttal regarding the lack of substantiation for pedophilia itself being immoral. Pro wins, humanity loses. good game.
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