The Instigator
000ike
Pro (for)
Winning
9 Points
The Contender
ConservativePolitico
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Categorical Imperatives do not exist

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
000ike
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/7/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 6,363 times Debate No: 21806
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (29)
Votes (4)

 

000ike

Pro

Considering the narrow scope of the resolution, I have limited the debate to 2 rounds of argument and 3,000 characters maximum per round. I will prove that Kant's categorical imperative is a preposterous invention and all imperatives are hypothetical. Whereas, Con will attempt to prove that the categorical imperative exists.

Categorical Imperative: an absolute, unconditional requirement that allows no exceptions, and is both required and justified as an end in itself (http://www.wordiq.com...;) - essentially a reason-less obligation.

Round 1 is for acceptance


ConservativePolitico

Con

I accept.
Debate Round No. 1
000ike

Pro

Introduction

Human beings do not obey moral laws like matter obeys the laws of physics. Physics sets laws in the form of boundaries. Thus obedience of these occurs within the realm of SHALL. (You SHALL do X, for there is no other option.) Obedience of moral laws occurs within the realm of OUGHT (therefore they are only applicable to willed creatures holding the ability to obey or disobey those laws.) Where there is will, there is the option to do X over Y or Y over X. Where one CAN do X instead of Y, there must be a rationale for whatever option was chosen, for reason is the catalyst of predetermined action.


Argument

P1: All “oughts” must have a condition of “if” in order to exist

P2: Categorical Imperatives are “oughts” with no “if”.

C: Categorical imperatives do not exist.

P1: All “oughts” must have a condition of “if” in order to exist

There is no such thing as “I ought to do X.” The logical statement is that “I ought to do X, if I want Y.”

Saying that one “ought” to do X implies 2 things:

1) He has the freewill to do otherwise.

2) He must ALWAYS do X as though that freewill did not exist.


The statement “one ought to do X” is vacuous and meaningless in that it has no warrant or justification. If we were dealing with subservient creatures, then a declaration of law without warrant would be logical, since it doesn’t have the freewill to do otherwise. However, once the freewill to do otherwise exists, there has to be a justification for the supremacy of one action over the other. Justification can range from “IF one wishes to be moral, he ought not kill” to “IF one fears the wrath of God, he ought not kill.” However, the notion that autonomous creatures are logically bound by empty declarations is simply inconsistent with their willed nature.

Any uncorroborated statement like “we ought to X” is a direct contradiction of the natural human will…which dictates that we may do X, Y, or Z. It forces a suppression of the rational consciousness through its creation of unjustified laws. If human beings were MEANT to objectively follow such assertions like “we ought to do X” – empty of a desired end, then we wouldn’t have the free will to NOT do X.

Even apart from the fact that Kant’s theory of the “categories” as the source of man’s concepts was a preposterous invention, his argument amounted to a negation, not only of man’s consciousness, but ofany consciousness, of consciousness as such" (1)


P2: Categorical Imperatives are “oughts” with no “if”

The Ethics encyclopedia describes:

By contrast, a categorical imperative simply mandates an action, irrespective of one’s personal desires, such as “You ought to do X. (2)

This premise is rather self-evident.


Conclusion

When Kant writes “We ought to do X. Period”…he is asserting a premise-less law, and we do not obey premise-less laws for that is a direct contradiction of our rational and autonomous nature.


Sources

1. http://aynrandlexicon.com...

2. http://www.iep.utm.edu...


ConservativePolitico

Con

Introduction
In order to fulfil the requirements of this debate I must show that categorical imperatives do indeed exist. To do this I will simply lay out the premise of a categorical imperative and show how it indeed does exist. I am going to lay out my argument here first. Next round, Pro will try to disprove what I have explained here and if needed I will defend myself further in Round 3 and respond to any of the arguments he has made this round. But if everything goes well, proving that a categorical imperative exists should happen right here.

The Categorical Imperative

The categorical imperative was devised to tell us what moral actions are obligatory.

The formula you presented “I ought to do X, if I want Y” is known as a hypothetical imperative and is based completely on the circumstances of what you are trying to achieve. Immanuel Kant says that this form of imperative is corrupt because it stems from human perceptions which are not pure. For Kant, the only moral imperatives were categorical: ‘I ought to do x”, with no reference to desires or needs.

This statement "I ought to do X" is made because it is a moral obligation.

For example: "I ought always to tell the truth"

This would be considered a categorical imperative because it is an obligatory moral right that has no connection to any sort of circumstances. Kant says that you ought to always tell the truth period. There are no circumstances tied to this statement.

There are three types of categorical imperative:

1.The universal law – All moral statements should be general laws, which apply to everyone under all circumstances. There should be no occasion under which an exception is made.

2.Treat humans as ends in themselves – Kant argues that you should never treat people as a means to some end. People should always be treated as ends in themselves. This promotes equality.

3.Act as if you live in a kingdom of ends – Kant assumed that all rational agents were able to deduce whether an argument was moral or not through reason alone and so, all rational humans should be able to conclude the same moral laws.

[1]

The example I gave fell under the "universal law". All moral statements should be general laws which apply to everyone under all circumstances. This removes the need for the "if" in the "ought" statements.

All of these types of categorical imperative reinforce the idea of absolute moral law that people must obey because it is their duty to do so and that the morality of an action should not be determined based on the situation it takes place in because then it it subject to human imperfection and is therefore impure.

The idea of a categorical imperative is based on moral duty and absolute moral law that has no bearing on any sort of circumstantial situations and should be applied to all people at all times.

This idea exists and can be applied to society if people wished.

Categorical Imperatives exist.

[1] http://members.fortunecity.com...



Debate Round No. 2
000ike

Pro

Thanks to Conservativepolitico for his response.

Counter-Argument

It appears that my opponent has cold-dropped my argument from Round 2 and has instead proposed a plan in which I rebut his, but he never rebuts mine (from Round 2). Furthermore, and more importantly, my opponent’s response cannot be considered an argument. At no point in his rebuttal did he even attempt to justify the categorical imperative; he merely explains and defines it. So, in short, his argument is “Kant says so, therefore it must be true.”

The following statements made by Con need justification, yet lack it:

1.[the hypothetical imperative] is corrupt because it stems from human perceptions which are not pure.”

The wording is ambiguous, and the claim is unwarranted. Firstly, on what grounds does my opponent assert the human perception “impure” and what exactly is meant by that claim?


2.This statement "I ought to do X" is made because it is a moral obligation.

Anything can be asserted to be a “moral obligation.” My opponent needs to justify why certain actions must be done irrespective of personal desire. He then further needs to justify the supremacy of certain actions over others.


3. Kant says that you ought to always tell the truth period. There are no circumstances tied to this statement.

There has to be a reason for this statement. If it were rational to assert compulsive declarations without reason, then I could just as easily say “everyone ought to jump off a cliff.” Through the exigencies of this debate, it is thus necessary for my opponent to justify compulsive statements like the categorical imperative with reason.

Whenever my opponent decides to assign a reason to the claim “we ought to always tell the truth,” the statement immediately becomes circumstantial. That reason serves the purpose of an end, and the statement of ought becomes the means. Thus, the ought will only apply to those who agree with the end, or the reason.

To clarify and summarize this argument I present this syllogism:

P1: All imperatives need reason

P2: Reason is subjective

C1: all imperatives are subjective

P1: a subjective imperative is a hypothetical imperative

C2: all imperatives are hypothetical

C3: No imperatives are categorical


4.The universal law

This, like every other part of my opponent’s argument, is not justified. For what reason should moral statements be universalizable? Here is a perfect example of my opponent defining rather than substantiating.

The other 2 definitions my opponent provides fall under the same assertive vain, and thus the same refutation.


Conclusion

I spent round 2 outlining the illogicality of categorical imperatives through the necessity for reasons, and the existence of the human will. My opponent did not refute it, but provided his own argument for his share of the burden. However his text consisted mainly of a lesson in ethics and Kant’s beliefs than a cogent justification of them. I therefore strongly encourage you to vote PRO.

ConservativePolitico

Con


My opponent bases most of his counter arguments off of the fact that I gave no reaons for why these things exist.

The Reason

The idea of a categorical imperative exists when bound to an underlying moral force that connects all people together. For the sake of my argument we'll call that humanity. We're all bound together by being human. It's our humanity. This being said we can agree that there are somethings that are simply unacceptable for all people. Such as:

genocide
rape
child killing
etc

These are things that based on this moral truth that connects all people together will always be considered wrong. "You ought not rape." That is a categorical imperative because it should be universally accepted for all people.

Final Argument

At the beginning of the debate my opponent gave no parameters as to where a categorical imperative cannot exist but just states that they do not exist.

You can state a categorical imperative. You can believe a categorical imperative. You can practice a categorical imperative therefore the categorical imperative exists.

"You ought not commit genocide."

This can be stated without an if. There is nothing tied to this action because it is universally accepted, can be applied to all people by all people and can be stated without balancing the reward or expected effect.

If someone states this categorical imperative, believes it to be universally binding and then puts it into practice then the categorical imperative exits for that person, that group of people or even society as a whole. In the case of "You ought not commit genocide." you can apply this to the entire planet.

Therefore the categorical imperative exists to some people at all times.

Since Pro never clarified by saying they do not exist for all people at all times it can be said that this idea can be stated and practiced and therefore exists.

Debate Round No. 3
29 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by OMGJustinBieber 5 years ago
OMGJustinBieber
In my RFD I meant *Con* never fully justifies.
Posted by FourTrouble 5 years ago
FourTrouble
I thought it was somewhat ironic, considering the position of each side, that 000ike attempts to make an objective argument using some form of deductive reasoning, and ConservativePolitico counters by providing a single example of a categorical imperative that "exists." Both arguments were weak.

000ike does not accurately characterize categorical imperatives. The claim that they are hypothetical was not only unfounded, it contradicted 000ike's own definition in Round 1. What 000ike ends up proving is that the choice of autonomous and rational beings to follow the moral imperative of categorical imperatives is hypothetical. But being rational does not mean we have access to the truth of categorical imperatives. 000ike assumes we have access to the truth if we are rational, and therefore makes the wrong conclusion that categorical imperatives must be hypothetical because we do not always act according to them.

ConservativePolitico, admittedly, does not address 000ike's argument where it is weak, and instead tries to prove the existence of a categorical imperative. ConservativePolitico is correct to say proving a single categorical imperative exists is enough of a refutation of 000ike's position, so the strategy itself is sound. That said, ConservativePolitico's actual arguments were as weak as 000ike's. Instead of going through the steps of Kant's moral constructivism, and demonstrating how said categorical imperative attains its universality, ConservativePolitico simply asserts that, because some people believe in cateogrical imperatives at some place/time, they must exist at some place/time. While ConservativePolitico is not wrong, the argument itself is weak and definitely not enough of a refutation to 000ike's argument.

I vote tie because, my opinion, neither side really does justice to the topic at hand.
Posted by Zaradi 5 years ago
Zaradi
Consider it done.
Posted by Thaddeus 5 years ago
Thaddeus
If anyone without any opinion fancies whacking my comment into a vote, feel free.
Posted by Thaddeus 5 years ago
Thaddeus
Can't vote but; arguments to Ike. "everyone agrees on some moral tenets" is a shockingly poor argument (an argument brought up in the final round no less). Far too much bare* assertion in cons case.

*bear assertion would probably be ok. I mean lets be honest; its a dark night, you are alone, you see a bear and he tells you something, if you have any sanity you'd better agree.
Posted by 000ike 5 years ago
000ike
I can't stand intellectual dishonesty in a debate.
Posted by 000ike 5 years ago
000ike
"Since Pro never clarified by saying they do not exist for all people at all times it can be said that this idea can be stated and practiced and therefore exists."

WTF?....As if the rest of that argument wasn't false - where you accused me of not explaining why the CI can't exist when I spent 1 round talking about the human will and necessity for reasons.....Now you write this nonsense.

By VIRTUE of being a categorical imperative, the statement is universalized! So it exists for all people at all times! You said this yourself with your rampant definitions of round 2!
Posted by ConservativePolitico 5 years ago
ConservativePolitico
I apologize for my debate format however with the character cap at 3,000 I was struggling to fit everything in. I figured this way it all works out. You got your argument out, I got a good portion of mine out. You refuted and now I get one last defense.

Seems all good to me. Sorry if you didn't like the way I did it.
Posted by socialpinko 5 years ago
socialpinko
Oh okay then. Thanks for clarifying.
Posted by 000ike 5 years ago
000ike
I should have probably used a different word so people don't get that confused
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by OMGJustinBieber 5 years ago
OMGJustinBieber
000ikeConservativePoliticoTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro presented an argument, and Con needed to open up a copy of Groundwork to adequately address it. The resolution was clarified in R1 as a direct attack on the CI to which Pro never fully justifies - although in all fairness Kant's justification of the CI is difficult to say the least.
Vote Placed by socialpinko 5 years ago
socialpinko
000ikeConservativePoliticoTied
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Reasons for voting decision: I thought both sides could have stood to research their respective sides a bit more before debating as the debate seemed a bit lacking. On arguments though, Con tried to exploit a loophole in the definition of categorical imperative by relying on all people's obeying certain norms and believing them to be true. Obviously since these acts exist, that is not true though. Even without this though, Con didn't show what justified categorical imperatives and so could not have fulfilled the resolution.
Vote Placed by FourTrouble 5 years ago
FourTrouble
000ikeConservativePoliticoTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Neither side presents arguments that do justice to the topic at hand. More in comments.
Vote Placed by Zaradi 5 years ago
Zaradi
000ikeConservativePoliticoTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Can't vote but; arguments to Ike. "everyone agrees on some moral tenets" is a shockingly poor argument (an argument brought up in the final round no less). Far too much bare* assertion in cons case. *bear assertion would probably be ok. I mean lets be honest; its a dark night, you are alone, you see a bear and he tells you something, if you have any sanity you'd better agree. Credits to Thadd for the comment. I felt obligated due to it's wit and truth.