The Instigator
creedhunt
Pro (for)
Winning
12 Points
The Contender
baus
Con (against)
Losing
7 Points

Consequentialism is a valid normative ethical system

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 5 votes the winner is...
creedhunt
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/25/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,477 times Debate No: 55412
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (33)
Votes (5)

 

creedhunt

Pro

Hello everyone. I am debating this topic again, as I am confused as to the reasoning that took place in the previous debate.

This debate is once again under the assumption of moral realism, and the consequentialism in question refers solely to its place in the normative ethics field.

The first round is for acceptance, and all following rounds will be producing and rebuting arguments. No new arguments will be made in the final round, however.

The definitions from the previous debate continue unto this one.
baus

Con

I accept this debate challenge.
Debate Round No. 1
creedhunt

Pro

Thank you for accepting, con.

My starting contentions are as follows.

1. When the consequences of an act have value, the value of the consequences are relevant to the act itself. For example, lying might be considered a bad act, but if the act of lying leads to saving the lives of several people, then the act itself is good (assuming the lives of those people has more value than the value of the alternative consequences.

2. Since this is assuming there is good in this world, there is always an amount of said good, calculatable or otherwise. If the only thing that had value was mattresses, for example, then the destruction of a mattress would have positive value if said destruction lead to more mattresses. That's because in a world where the mattress was not destroyed, there would be less good than in the world with more mattresses. Situations with less good are objectively worse.

3. What is the alternative to consequentialism? All of the prominent alternatives rely on consequentialist theories. Virtue ethics dictate that morals revolve around the character of people rather than specific actions, but what that means is that value is held within character, so the best actions always maximize that value.

I await your response.
baus

Con

Just to clarify, the agreed definition is as follows:

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 or wrongness of that conduct. Thus, from a consequentialist standpoint, a morally right act (or omission from acting) is one that will produce a good outcome, or consequence.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I shall begin with the destructive before I move onto the constructive.

I shall be doing this in a list-like manner with C meaning claim, or contention, and R meaning rebuttal.

#1
C: When the consequences of an act have value, the value of the consequences are relevant to the act itself.
R: The only value one could possibly assign to consequences are non-consequential in nature. Thus, the very basis on which the entire system of Consequentialism is base dis intrinsic, indicating that the basis for all morality would be intrinsic under the theory of your version of Consequentialism.

#2
C: Lying might be considered a bad act, but if the act of lying leads to saving the lives of several people, then the act itself is good (assuming the lives of those people has more value than the value of the alternative consequences).
R: First of all, the values can't be judged consequentially, they can only be intrinsically assigned values. Secondly, there is no guarantee that the liar ever intended to do 'good' with their act and so we are revering the malicious for the fact that they unintentionally happened to do some 'good' while at heart they will always seek to damage in the future. This is glorifying the accidental hero over the consistently dedicated hero that happens to slip up. If we revere the accidental hero with a psychopathic brain and the accidental screw-up with a loyal and benevolent brain, we will end up giving power and influence to those who will then abuse it most efficiently rather than use it with care. This will result in negative consequences undoubtedly and thus, it is consequentially incorrect to support Consequentialist normative ethics as an accepted moral system within any society.

#3
C: Since this is assuming there is good in this world, there is always an amount of said good, calculatable or otherwise.
R: This should be incorrect and impossible within the Consequentialist framework of ethics.

#4
C: If the only thing that had value was mattresses, for example, then the destruction of a mattress would have positive value if said destruction lead to more mattresses.
R: What on earth is the value of mattresses being based on. Intrinsic value being assigned to a mattress contradicts the very premise on which Consequentialism is based.

#5
C: That's because in a world where the mattress was not destroyed, there would be less good than in the world with more mattresses. Situations with less good are objectively worse.
R: But the very concept of 'good' being base don something other than objectively verifiable consequences indicates that the Consequentialist is deciding which set of consequence sis more desirable via non-Consequential reasoning to begin with. If the very basis of Consequentialism is non-Consequential then this indicates that the root of all morality is intrinsic after all and that Consequentialism is merely a facade may mistake for being the true source of morality and decision-making.

#6
C: All of the prominent alternatives rely on consequentialist theories. Virtue ethics dictate that morals revolve around the character of people rather than specific actions, but what that means is that value is held within character, so the best actions always maximize that value.
R: The actions do not maximize the value of the character, the character's 'value' leads to the actions.

In conclusion, your case is dismissed.

Now I shall move onto my constructive.

First of all, no e is ever the result of one action alone or event in itself, there are always extraneous variables at play that can alter what was intended to occur by the perpetrator to make the unintended result render more 'good' or 'bad' than it consequentially would have been had these other unpredictable variable snot flipped at unintended times. For instance baking a non-surprise cake for your grandmother that you'd told her you'd bring her that day and a power-cut occurring in your house that means you can't have access to an oven renders the grandmother less satisfied and everyone else is more miserable unless by magic a rival for the cake-baking turns up and happens to be happy that you weren't there to shove your cake down your grandmother's throat because now they're the one she admires for having made one. Thus, even thought you intended to do good, you'll now be labelled as a consequential villain which is blatantly going to lead to furthermore issues as your relationship with your grandmother loosens and you begin to feel lonelier and more of a failure due to this occurrence, the list could go on and on. Ignorance is not malice and confusing the two will have dastardly repercussions.

In summary, the consequences of Consequentialism render it as morally flawed according to its very own method of measuring validity.
Debate Round No. 2
creedhunt

Pro

Thank you con.

I will begin with a defense of my contentions, followed by a criticism of my opponent's.

1. Please note that consequentialism says nothing about there being no intrinsic values. Consequentialism dictates that an act's value is based on the values of its consequences. The only consequences that would not have intrinsic value would be the ones that are acts. In the case of an act's consequences being acts themselves, the same process of looking for the value of consequences would be repeated until all of the consequences have intrinsic value. This is a point that my opponent is struggling to acknowledge. The value of an act has to be judged by its consequences, but things that are not acts may have intrinsic value.

Going back to the mattress example, allowing the value of a mattress to be intrinsic does not violate the principle of acts being non-intrinsic. The act of making a mattress would be judged by its impact, but the impact that is a mattress would be valued intrinsically.

2.
Firstly, the act can be judged by its consequences, as it's only value is the value of the lives that have been saved.

Secondly, what you go on to describe is applied ethics, which I specifically describe as being off topic in the description of the debate.

Thirdly, I never mentioned labeling the perpetrator as being positively or neutrally inclined in their act, merely that the act itself can only be valued objectively by its consequences. If glorifying the perpetrator for their actions would lead to bad things, then glorifying them would be wrong. A system of punishment in a consequentialist society would take intentions into account, as certain intentions can lead to negative consequences.

This point is invalid, and irrelevant to the debate and should be treated as such.

3.
I already clarified why it is completely possible.

4.
It was an example. I urge my opponent to find a placement of intrinsic value that does not adhere to the principles of consequentialism would not apply. Also, intrinsic value is readily apply to things that are not conduct.

5.
Once again, my opponent mistakes the idea of consequences being applicable to conduct with the idea that nothing, conduct or otherwise has intrinsic value. Plus, decision making is applied ethics, not normative.

6.
Let me give you an example.
Let's say that the character's value lies partially within the act of never lying. If, hypothetically, the individual in question could only stop themself from lying several times by lying once, it would be moral to lie once to preserve their character.
Virtue ethics also puts a lot of faith into the theories of "self" that render it to be a vastly unlikely normative theory to begin with.

Now, onto my criticisms of con's contentions.

All of the consequences that do come from actions, plural or otherwise, make up the values of said actions. The perpetrator and the actions they commit have separate values assigned to them. If a person is likely to commit several acts that have negative impacts, then simply having one malicious act be ultimately positive does not change how we treat and or label the perpetrator, unless labeling them and treating them that way would lead to positive impacts.

Once again, consequentialism is a normative ethical theory. There are three fields of ethics.

Meta ethics, where we study what good and bad mean.

Normative ethics, where we study how good and bad is assigned and where it is found.

Applied ethics, where we study which actions to take after we know what and where good and bad are.

If labeling people who did actions which were ultimately positive as villains would produce the best results, then applied ethics deals with that on a case by case basis. Normative ethics just deals with the idea of an action with bad intentions and if they can lead to positive results. Applied ethics figures out how to act based on the results of those ideas.

You are the one who keeps on bringing up the impact of labels, but that is irrelevant to the debate at hand

I await con's response.
baus

Con

In order for the debate to proceed I think it is important to understand what the terms 'intrinsic' and 'value' mean.

Intrinsic, in the context of this debate, should be taken to mean belonging to a thing by its very nature (as opposed to the resulting consequences).

Value, in the context of this debate, should be taken to be the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something.

Now, I am going to use those two definitions to explain why Consequentialism is a self-defeating basis for morality and deems itself as an immoral thing to believe in and carry out.

There are three, very different, issues with Consequentialism that Pro seems to be merging into one.

The first issue is that to state that a consequences can be intrinsically more valuable than an alternative consequence is to indicate that Consequentialism is a slave system to a mother system of non-Consequential valuing. It is stating that we can judge every act and event by the consequences of them but that we must judge the consequences without looking at the consequences of the consequences. This is circular reasoning and has ended up at the dilemma of relying on intrinsic valuing for the consequences themselves. This irrational differentiation between an act and consequence is actually erroneous to begin with. My opponent must first prove that free will exists before stating that an act is anything other than the consequence of genetics and hormones within a person leading them to act the way that they do.

The second is that ignorance is not malice. I shall continue on this line of thought by extending this to say that there is in fact no such thing as an intelligible action and everyone is ignorant to begin with since no one knows anything outside of their subjective perception. All actions are consequences but not all consequences are actions. Actions are a subset of consequences that result form chemical processing in one's brain leading to neurological movement of one's biologically bound body in a world full of many intrinsic, non-consequential, laws of physics that are completely unbreakable within this universe. Thus if all actions are consequences, Consequentialism would lead us to seem them innately good or bad.

The third issue with Consequentialism is that the consequences of glorifying lucky psychopaths and condemning unfortunate loyalists creates a system that gives moral authority to people regardless of their proneness to consistently do good or evil in the future. This is a system that is bound to end up failing and thus the very consequences of Consequentialism are intrinsically flawed.
Debate Round No. 3
creedhunt

Pro

Thank you for the debate, con.

In this last round, con appears to have very plainly ignored the contentions I have made.

The three issues (which I did deal with individually) all stand within the context of my argument, and are as follows.

The first issue concerns the nature of intrinsic value, and where it is placed within the context of consequentialism. Consequentialism merely says that acts are held to the moral standard of there consequences. This means that acts have no intrinsic value, but that other things may. We judge the consequences of an action by their intrinsic value if they aren't acts themselves. If a consequence is an act and can therefore have further consequences, those consequences are relevant to the act due to the moral value they may have. If a consequence leads to a consequence to a consequence and so forth, I have already noted that all consequences that come as a result of any acts (consequences themselves or not) should be held as a part of the moral standard that the act is held to.

An act could potentially not be the result of any human aspect, and would therefore not be the consequences of genetics or hormones. My opponent seems to be arguing against his own points, by mentioning the distinction between actions and consequences. Not all consequences are actions, and actions are the only things that consequentialism claims have no intrinsic value, and therefore an act can have value based on the intrinsic value of the consequences which are not acts, and the extended value of any further acts using the same method. Free will has nothing to do with it, and in fact may disprove the alternative of virtue ethics.

The second issue, is the extended idea of intentions and their place within the value that an action has. If an action is a consequence, then the value that said action has amounts to its consequences. Perception and intentions don't change the fact that when they lead to bad things, they are bad. There could be a rock that falls out of the sky and causes bad things to happen, the act of the rock falling out of the sky is bad. If the rock falls out of the sky and causes good things to happen, the act of the rock falling out of the sky is good. The value of the rock itself cannot be figured out by either example. I fail to see how perception is relevant.

The third issue, is the confusion between normative and applied ethics.

I thought I made myself very clear in the last few rounds, but here I will clarify what this debate was about.

http://www.britannica.com...

This is a link that talks about normative and applied ethics.

Normative ethics is where we figure out how good and bad things work.

Applied ethics are where we figure out how to apply these systems to our lives.

So saying that consequentialism to negative consequences is not only totally irrelevant, but also based on no valid evidence.

The application of consequentialism would be to glorify people if glorifying them lead to good things. Why would a consequentialist glorify a person who accidentally did good if that glorification would lead to bad things? It would be bad according to consequentialism to glorify lucky psychopaths or condemning unfortunate loyalists if it created a system that gave moral authority to people regardless their future impact.

You are not only going entirely off topic, but you are outright claiming that a system that looks to create positive impacts would completely ignore said impacts. Why would a person devoted to promoting the best impact seek to glorify or condemn without considering the cost of doing so?

This debate is about the correctness of the normative field, so please do not derail the debate into being about how we should act upon assuming said correctness.

All of con's contentions have either been irrelevant, false, or in favor of my resolution. As such I strongly urge the floor to side with pro.

Thank you.
baus

Con

I haven't ignored any of Pro's contentions and I am not sure why Pro feels this way.

Pro's entire system of Consequentialism works like this:

The first event: God or singularity
All actions: The result of occurrences after this event making them inevitable.
All consequences: The results of the resultant actions from the first event.
Basis of value: intrinsic within actions.

My opponent has failed to prove the existence of free will and said it was irrelevant to the debate and that a lack of its existence would have supported my side instead.

I already explained how this is wrong.

If every action is the consequences of chemical and biological processes in a person's brain and body then there is absolutely no reason to identify an action as a non-consequence. Just because not all consequences are actions doesn't mean that not all actions consequences and I have no clue why Pro states that one has to be equal to the other rather than one being the subset of the other thing. Actions are like lions and consequences are like cats. There are cats that are not lions but there are no lions that are not cats.

So it follows from this that if all actions are consequences of chemical and biological events then they should not be judged any more intrinsically than consequences are. Thus, since Pro's entire system revolves around intrinsically judging consequences of actions as opposed to the actions themselves, this distinction is never justified. Why do consequences of actions redeem intrinsic judgement whilst actions, which themselves are consequences are supposedly supposed to be extrinsic of morality? This is something we'll never know because the answer doesn't exist.

My opponent says that if the rock falls out of the sky and makes bad things happen, the rock falling out of the sky is therefore good. He never once explains how to consequentially determine whether what the rock falling causes is good or bad. He leaves that to the magical work of... Well... Nothing.

If Consequentialism had 'bad' consequences it is theoretically self-refuting and paradoxical. This is not about it being applied this is about the very theory of glorifying a lucky psychopath for accidentally doing good. I don't care if he turns out to be a good guy at the end of the day I am saying that it's theoretically flawed to do such a thing because is punishing people based on the luck of their accidents rather than the malignancy of their intentions. This is both flawed as a normative ethical system and an applied one too.

I conclude that Consequentialism is both baseless in its assertion of judging consequences non-consequentially whilst judging actions, which are a subset of consequences, consequentially. I also would like to point out that the theory of a luck-based code of ethics is impossible to justify as being valid bee that would indicate that good and evil have no consistency at all and that therefore morality altogether has no purpose, which, in turn, negates the entire concept of a valid basis of morality altogether.
Debate Round No. 4
33 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by baus 3 years ago
baus
I think I don't understand normative ethics. They make very little sense to me because I see ethics as entirely applied.
Posted by Raisor 3 years ago
Raisor
I found Pro's arguments to generally be easier to follow and better organized.

Pro adequately responds to Con's objections, e.g. explaining that other things can have value in a consequentialist system since consequentialism is just concerned with how to evaluate if actions are good/bad.

I think Con's argument about determinism and all actions being causally linked was pretty convoluted and should have been explained better. Even so, I don't think this argument is problematic for Pro. If all actions are consequences, then the terminal results of those actions can be evaluated as consequences that make earlier actions good/bad- which is what Pro argued.
Posted by creedhunt 3 years ago
creedhunt
Well gosh forgive me for trying to understand your contentions
Posted by baus 3 years ago
baus
This conversation is over.
Posted by creedhunt 3 years ago
creedhunt
Well I'm not sure it was clarified. The perpetrator and the act have separate moral values. A bad thing can happen even if it has a cause, because it causes more negative value. Why wouldn't that be the case?
Posted by baus 3 years ago
baus
You will never understand, you ignoramus.
Posted by creedhunt 3 years ago
creedhunt
The one contention that I don't understand of yours is the one where acts being consequences gives them intrinsic value. I don't mean to push you into more informal debate, but I still don't understand what you were trying to say.
Posted by baus 3 years ago
baus
I had many normative arguments aside from that.
Posted by creedhunt 3 years ago
creedhunt
"This is not about it being applied this is about the very theory of glorifying a lucky psychopath for accidentally doing good"

Glorification would be a possible application of a normative system. There is a difference between acknowledging an act as good or bad, and actively celebrating every good act or vice versa.
Posted by baus 3 years ago
baus
I explain why it was normatively flawed. Okay.
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by DerKing 2 years ago
DerKing
creedhuntbausTied
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Total points awarded:33 
Reasons for voting decision: Spelling - baus said somethings that were not very coherent. Both made god arguments, but it ended up being about equal in both rebuttals and constructive speeches. However, because Pro has the inherent burden of proof, Con wins. Pro had a source, and neither gets conduct for some of the things pro said.
Vote Placed by Motormouth 3 years ago
Motormouth
creedhuntbausTied
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Reasons for voting decision: I agreed with con because he brought up good points(as did pro) I just believe that con won me over
Vote Placed by Raisor 3 years ago
Raisor
creedhuntbausTied
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Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments
Vote Placed by FuzzyCatPotato 3 years ago
FuzzyCatPotato
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Reasons for voting decision: Intrinsic hinges on a/c d, Pro won act/consequence differ, Con insufficiently proved conseqs from conseqism bad + nontopical. GG.
Vote Placed by Wylted 3 years ago
Wylted
creedhuntbausTied
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Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments