The Instigator
creedhunt
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
baus
Pro (for)
Winning
9 Points

Consequentialism is wrong

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
baus
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/23/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,177 times Debate No: 55336
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (21)
Votes (3)

 

creedhunt

Con

My opponent will argue against consequentialism. Here, consequentialism will refer solely to the normative ethics theory, and not to the meta ethical position of moral realism on which grounds consequentialism applies. What I mean by this, is that this debate will be on the assumption of moral realism validity.

You can present your arguments in the first round.
baus

Pro

First, let's define "Consequentialism".

http://plato.stanford.edu...
Consequentialism holds that whether an act is morally right depends only on the consequences of that act or of something related to that act, such as the motive behind the act or a general rule requiring acts of the same kind.

If my opponent does not like this definition, we can go for the wikipedia one:
https://en.wikipedia.org...
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.

Now I shall proceed to explain why such a basis for morality is flawed.

If I go and kill someone because my brother wants their job and they are more likely to get it than he is then I have consequentially done good for my brother.

In fact, according to consequentialism, there is no such thing as a bad act because there's always a benefit to any act.
Debate Round No. 1
creedhunt

Con

Thank you, pro, for debating with me today.

As far as the definition goes, my opponent left out an integral aspect of wikepedia's definition:

"if a goal is morally important enough, any method of achieving it is acceptable"

This heavily suggests that an action is not deemed morally acceptable simply because it holds some benefits, but rather is deemed morally acceptable if there are sufficient beneficiary aspects.

So to take your example, a consequentialist opinion would be that the life of a person is worth more than the brother's job, so choosing the job over the life would be a reduction of good and therefore bad.

In addition to that, you never gave any reasons as to why your example would be morally corrupt in the first place.

I await your response.
baus

Pro

I would like to ask my opponent why that person's life is worth more than the brother's job and how a Consequentialist would come to such an opinion if the brother bloomed to become the next Einstein but would never have got his physicist career's success if his rival hadn't died at that moment in time and so objectively the world benefits far more by that guy dying.

See, we can play with "consequences" as much as we like, in the end both sides can be objectively superior or inferior in their consequences.

Thus, I conclude that within the framework of Consequentialism nothing can be deemed morally correct, nor incorrect and that if nothing can be deem moral or immoral than such a basis of morality destroys the need for morality altogether.

If my opponent is unable to prove that anything can be deemed moral or immoral according to Consequentialism then he has failed to prove that Consequentialism is capable of identifying right from wrong. If he then uses Consequentialism to disprove morality altogether, then he has defeated the need for Consequentialism to begin w as there is no reason to care for what is the correct moral code and wrong one if right and wrong do not exist.
Debate Round No. 2
creedhunt

Con

My opponent has made a few mistakes, some minor, and some major.

Firstly, he has made a strawman fallacy in saying that "my" example isn't conclusive as I have not justified the value system within it. He made the thought experiment with the assumption that the murder was morally corrupt and stated that consequentialism doesn't account for it. I responded in saying that it does account for it, as it takes the value of both the life and the job into account, and judges the result accordingly.

You yourself stated that the overall impact of the physicist's death would be objectively beneficial under the situation you presented.

What are you trying to say in your second paragraph? It appears that what you're trying to say is that an action be better or worse depending entirely on the consequences. You are saying that we cannot judge morality on actions alone, as we don't have enough information on the impact they have.

Why do you come to the conclusions you do? I fail to see the train of thought here. You initially concede with the idea that an action has to be judged with a knowledge of the consequences, and then state that the consequences hold no moral content? Please elaborate your train of thought.

This debate is under the assumption that there are positive and negative values in existence. What is and is not positive is irrelevant to this debate as the true topic is the idea of there being positive and negative things in the first place. Utilitarianism states that happiness has positive value and pain has negative value. The world with the most happiness and the least pain is the ideal universe under this form of consequentialism.

You have yet to prove why a system of judging the quality of a world is ethically inadequate.
baus

Pro

My opponent is struggling to decode my arguments so I shall lay them out in a sentence-by-sentence manner that shall hopefully shed some more clarity upon this.

Extensive list manner:

#1 Consequences are non-quantifiable and immeasurable. There is no way to determine whether one set of consequences is more or less desirable than another outside of flawed subjective interpretation that, itself, is non-consequential in basis as it is applying intrinsic valuing to judge the consequences.

#2 Relying on the consequence of an act to determine its moral value presumes that he one doing the act is capable of knowing the consequences. It ignores limitations of perception and confuses ignorance for malice.

#3 There is no such thing as a consequence of an action alone. Everything requires extraneous variables to alter the future. For example, if one punches someone and their migraine suddenly becomes easier to cope with due to the numbing effect, this person is now labelled as a consequential savior even though the 'goodness' of their action was never part of the intended malice.

Shorter version of the list (the numbers correspond to their caption):

#1 To judge consequences requires intrinsic values being assigned to the consequences.

#2 The ignorance of an individual trying to do good resulting in harm would have them labelled as a consequential villain when it is more true to say that they are kind-hearted.

#3 Extraneous variables mean that that actions of an individual never are the sole cause for the consequences that seemingly result from the action. Often unforeseeable events occur that alter the consequences to become offset from their intended path

Shortest version (numbers still correspond):

#1 The only way to judge consequences is by their intrinsic, non-consequential, value.

#2 Ignorance is not malice.

#3 Consequences are never the direct result of one action or event alone.
Debate Round No. 3
creedhunt

Con

I appreciate my opponent's clarification. Thank you for the debate, it has been fun.

#1. Moral realism requires intrinsic values. Happiness is quantifiable and measurable (see link below), so if we were to use that form of consequentialism, this point would be rendered false and therefore irrelevant to the matter at hand.

#2. This is false. Stating that a situation in which good things happen is better than situations where bad things happen has nothing to do with the ability to attain such a situation. Consequentialism states that when ignorance leads to horrendous outcomes it is bad, and when malice leads to utopia, it is good. Ability and knowledge concerning either would be a matter of applied ethics rather than normative.

#3. No, but there are consequences to things and they have value. The point of consequentialism is that bad intentions are good if they lead to good things.

In summary:

#1. What you are describing is consequentialism.

#2. Ignorance and malice are irrelevant if they make things better.

$3. Consequences do occur however, and their value is grossly important.

I urge you to vote con.

http://sonjalyubomirsky.com...
baus

Pro

Alright, so let's look at the finishing argument of Pro and see where there might be flaws.

He said that Moral realism requires intrinsic values. This is actually a complete contradiction of Consequentialism in itself and refuted the very basis of Consequentialism altogether. After this, He states that happiness is quantifiable and measurable and gives a cute little link to a questionnaire that,w hen filled out, can tell someone how happy they perceive themselves to be.

The issue with the happiness scale is that it is not only unfeasible to ask everyone in any situation to do such a questionnaire but is also completely flawed as a basis of morality.

Imagine if, in any situation, the only way to judge it would be to make people answer this questionnaire: http://www.meaningandhappiness.com... or the one offered by Con [http://sonjalyubomirsky.com...]. This is completely ridiculous and means that any hypothetical moral situation is now rendered impossible to morally judge as the people do not exist to do this questionnaire. Inf act, this means the morality of the holocaust is incalculable since no one can alive right now can complete questionnaire to determine how subjectively happy they were before and after the event. Even if they were alive, the questionnaire must be done while the person is presently int he mindset, so we'd have to ask the past version of them the questions to avoid the subjective fallacy of hindsight meaning they forget how happy they were to being with in order to cope better with the circumstances of the concentration camps.

Humor was a common coping mechanism during the Holocaust[http://web.macam98.ac.il...][http://splitsider.com...], for the Jews, so actually if we asked them how happy they were, they may very well have been coping via laughing and forgetting about the pain, this doesn't make the holocaust more morally correct but would make it seem as if they were happier than usual due to the holocaust.

Feasibility and validity aside, happiness itself is not necessarily any better than sadness or anger because anger and sadness often help people find inspiration or motivation. The entire metal genre of music revolves around anger and agony being the inspiration. Would you call them immoral for producing such music?

This concept of happiness being a sufficient basis for morality is entirely non-consequential in nature to begin with and no basis whatsoever. On top of this, if it did happen to be a sufficient basis for morality then it would indicate that morals have intrinsic foundations, as opposed to consequential ones.

After this, my opponent goes on to state how ignorant benevolence leading to undesirable outcomes should lead to the individual being labelled a villain and ignorance malice leading to desirable outcomes should lead to the individual being labelled a hero. Such a moral code would end up allowing pure chance of outcomes of actions to end up with lucky psychopaths becoming idols and unlucky loyal people as the scum of society. This is only putting the psychopaths in positions of more influence and more people will look tot hem for moral advice whilst he unlucky loyalists are being frowned upon for the unintentional consequences of their actions. This is inevitably going to lead to more and more harm and evil being done since the intentions of the person are never likely to change. Thus, giving more influential power to the morally corrupt is a completely outrageous result of a Consequentialist mentality.

On a final note, my opponent state that bad intentions are good if they lead to good things. He refuted his very point by referring to the intentions as bad to begin with. What he actually meant to say it "bad intentions are mistaken for good ones under the moral framework of Consequentialism if the outcomes happens to seem intrinsically good". He also never explains how the value of consequences are "grossly important" and again attached non-consequential value to Consequentialism to assert its validity.

In conclusion, in regards to subjective happiness being a basis for morality either this is false or Consequentialism is wrong since this is an intrinsic basis for observing morality. Thus, either Consquentialism is incorrect or the happiness scale is futile. Consequentialism has grave consequences as it gives influential power to the morally corrupt who get lucky to have made a good thing actually happen and thus refutes itself and on a final note, the only way to judge consequence sis by intrinsic valuing of the consequences to begin with.
Debate Round No. 4
21 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by creedhunt 2 years ago
creedhunt
I'm not stating that either voter should change their case, but the reason for voting indicated by fuzzycatpotato is wrong.

http://www.bbc.co.uk...

Utilitarianism and hedonism are both consequentialist theories, so the example was accurate.
Posted by baus 2 years ago
baus
If you have a case to make, feel free to challenge me to a debate. I do not like free-form arguing.
Posted by creedhunt 2 years ago
creedhunt
Consequentialism is where you have to group an action with its consequences as far as value is concerned. If a consequence has consequences, then according to the above logic they would be grouped in there as well.
Posted by creedhunt 2 years ago
creedhunt
Why is the only way to judge a consequence by its non - consequential value? Why would that be the case? Saying that it doesn't is contradictory.
Posted by creedhunt 2 years ago
creedhunt
An action is good if it's consequences are good. That doesn't mean at all that the perpetrators of bad acts should be rewarded if their bad acts lead to sufficiently positive things.

What I think you might be saying, is that an action that leads to another action has to be judged based on that action and not that action's consequences, but I'm curious as to how that makes any sense either.
Posted by baus 2 years ago
baus
Then it contradicts itself.
Posted by creedhunt 2 years ago
creedhunt
Yes. That's consequentialism, what you just described.
Posted by baus 2 years ago
baus
Which is why the point come sin that the only viable way to judge consequence sis by their non-consequential value.
Posted by creedhunt 2 years ago
creedhunt
In this case the value in question are consequences
Posted by creedhunt 2 years ago
creedhunt
Then your argument refutes itself.

That's actually this EXACT train of thought: if placing a value in something leads to less of that thing, then that thing no longer has value
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Blade-of-Truth 2 years ago
Blade-of-Truth
creedhuntbausTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Consequentialism is an inadequate system for judging the morality of acts as shown by Pro. He effectively showed the audience how just because the outcome is deemed good, does not necessarily imply that the act which caused the outcome was good itself. There are too many factors in play, as Wylted pointed out, and really is prone to the subjective values the observers place on such outcomes. How can we predict every outcome while performing the action? It asks too much of us and Pro also made this point known. As instigator, Con wasted too much time providing rebuttals instead of upholding his BOP.
Vote Placed by FuzzyCatPotato 2 years ago
FuzzyCatPotato
creedhuntbausTied
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Reasons for voting decision: @baus: Consequentialism =/= Hedonistic Utilitarianism
Vote Placed by Wylted 2 years ago
Wylted
creedhuntbausTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Some mistakes con made were instigating the debate and merely responding to his opponent's arguments instead of also formulating his own. It's one thing if you didn't instigate, but either way you need to do more than offer rebuttals. I'd also advise against giving your opponent an extra round, like you did here. Pro, the clarifications you used in round 3 should have been your round 1 arguments. You could have done a much better job if you just lead off with that. With that being said. Pro showed that consequentialism couldn't be used in a practical way. There are just too many unknowns as to what factored into a result to accurately determine if a specific action is morally correct. Good luck to both of you in future debates.