The Instigator
Con (against)
3 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
0 Points

Do we need Government Laws or Religious Doctrine for Moral Guidance?

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Post Voting Period
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after 1 vote the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/27/2016 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 803 times Debate No: 98480
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (12)
Votes (1)




Here I will argue against the position that we need government laws or religious doctrine to create a set of moral principles used by society to sustain itself peacefully.

No new arguments in round 4, max 3000 characters.


Government laws are mere opinions of people enforced with guns because they are not reasoned from universal principles.
Religious commandments are also not reasoned from universal principles, but are arguments from authority at best.

Any set of principles that is reasoned from first/universal principles is therefore superior to laws or commandments.

Objectively preferrable behaviour exists:
Whoever tries to disagree with that statement already accepts that speaking the truth is preferrable over speaking falsehood and that it is worthwhile speaking up against untruth. Therefore, preferrable behaviour exists outside of government laws or religious commandments.

We don't even need laws or commandments to prove that, for example, murder can't be right:
Murder describes the taking of another person's life against their will. Should we try to assert that "Murder is good", then murdering becomes preferrable. It means that it is preferrable to murder others, as well as it is preferrable to offer oneself - to 'want' to get murdered, for murder is a good thing.
It becomes utterly apparent that the principle self-detonates, for it being acted on means that the very thing it describes - taking another person's life against her will - ceases to exist. Therefore, the principle contradicts itself because something that doesn't exist can't be good.

I can prove the same with fraud, rape and stealing, comprising all actions that are already universally accepted as wrong and evil in western societies.

Go ahead!


Yes, we need government laws for moral guidance. Now, maybe YOU don't need government laws for moral guidance, maybe I don't need them, maybe rational people don't need them, but there are PLENTY of irrational people in this world, and they all need the laws.

Therefore, since your question asks, do WE (as in ALL of us, including the irrational people who need laws for moral guidance) need laws for moral guidance, the answer is yes.

If the question were: do I need government laws for moral guidance? The answer would be no.

Debate Round No. 1


I interpret your use of the word 'need' as in referring to the peacefulness of the invidivuals, and thus the society.
I understand you agree with all the arguments that I have made before concerning the validity and superiority of a rational and secular set of moral principles.

Your argument is that because irrational people do not accept moral principles merely based on logical consitency - which is why they would only adhere to moral principles if they are in fact forced at gunpoint to conform - society could not be sustained peacefully.

I argue that in a free society - a society without government laws and therefore, no government - not only all rational, peaceful people will act peacefully just like before, but MORE people than in a government-ruled / state law society will act peacefully.

In fact, the government - by definition - gives an arbitrary group of people the 'right' to initiate violence against peaceful individuals. Taxation, regulations, mandatory education, prohibition of drugs, is nothing but the institutionalization of the threat of use of force against people who have not acted against any universal moral principle.

Therefore, you argue that we need institutionalized violence - using it against ALL people of a society - to mitigate possible, but not guaranteed violence of a small minority.

You argue for a society with guaranteed violence against all individuals, including the peaceful.
I argue for a society that is, by principle, peaceful.

Thus, the burden lies onto you to show that a society in which everybody is guaranteed to be aggressed against all the time is more peaceful than one that is based on universal moral principles.


Again, you are cherrypicking the term "We." We doesn't only include peaceful rational people, it includes irrational people as well.

Peaceful rational people may not need laws; however, irrational people without morals do. Since society encompasses them both, we need laws.

Furthermore, violence wouldn't be used against peaceful moral people, since they would be obeying laws regardless. It would only be used against the immoral people in society, the ones without morals, who are irrational and don't respond to reason.

I've stated it at least 3 times now, but it's a very simple concept:

Society is composed of both rational people with morals and irrational people without morals.

Therefore, we need laws.

Simple, /debate
Debate Round No. 2


I'm afraid that is a complete non sequitur. It is like me saying "Most people are religious, some aren't. Therefore, we need to enforce one religion onto everybody." It does not follow.

You merely assert a 'need' for enforced laws without referring it to what is actually being discussed, which is the peaceful sustainability of a society. As if laws are a peaceful solution to the problem of voluntary violence. They are, in fact, the exact opposite.

Laws are, as stated above, mere opinions with guns. Without the guns, laws cease to be relevant. Somebody has to pay for the guns. But nobody entered any contract when the laws were enacted. So people got to be forced to pay for the guns. People who have never entered a contract are forced to pay for the violent enforcement that they don't even have a choice to disagree with. That is aggression against peaceful people which you fail to recognize. It may not be, after all, as 'simple' as you think.

I have proven to you that government laws mean that every member of the society - the peaceful ones as well as the violent ones - is aggressed against all the time.

You say, but force would not be used against peaceful moral people because they conform. That is like saying a woman is not aggressed against if she does not resist being raped by a stranger at gunpoint. Acting peacefully does not always mean there is no aggression.

In your 'simple' world, magical 'government laws' make immoral people act morally. You completely fail to understand what it means for government laws to be enforced. Somebody got to pay for the enforcement, but nobody entered a contract. Resources got to be taken from individuals who have not agreed to it - which is the definition of theft, but since that's too uncomfortable of a truth, you call it taxation.


Now you are changing the argument. "Most" does not convey the same meaning as "all." If you had said MOST people do not need government laws for moral guidance, THAT would have been a valid point. However, nowhere in your statement does it say the word "most."

Now you are goal post shifting after losing. In other words, you're changing the argument. I wasn't arguing against the word "most" because it was not there. Read up on goal post shifting. Argument Debunked, and /debate

Laws are not peaceful; however, if you do not break the laws, then there is no reason to worry.

Yes, you are correct. Peaceful people have to pay for the laws. However, peaceful people would also have to pay for the anarchy that would result when there are no laws and irrational people go around killing people at will. Both situations have costs, but the cost of laws is clearly lower than irrational people killing people/robbing/raping etc.

You did enter the contract; it's called living in the country. In order for you to be allowed to live here, you must sign the contract. You can't live here and not sign the contract. If you want to live somewhere else, go ahead.
Debate Round No. 3


I am happy to alter my analogy to "Society is composed of both religious and non-religious people. Therefore, we need to enforce one religion onto everybody." which makes no difference and illustrates how your central argument is still a proven non sequitur.

In fact, proportions never mattered, since the proposition states "We" and thereby encompasses all types of people.

Therefore, I was not goal post shifting.


In this debate, I have successfully proven that moral principles can be derived from logical discourse, which renders laws - mere opinions enforced at gunpoint - and thereby the government, and religious commandments obsolete.

Since a universal set of moral principles is logically superior to any other set of moral principles, society can be run even better - more peacefully - with it.

My opponent tried to argue that based on the mere existence of irrational people, all people must suffer from constant aggression through the enforcement of gonvernment laws. It literally describes the mad act of putting out a fire by drowning it in gasoline.

My opponent proposes that a society in which all people are, by principle, aggressed against, is more peaceful than a society in which, by principle, noone is aggressed against.

Clearly, the burden of proof lied onto my opponent to prove why a peaceful society would end up - against all logic - less peaceful , which he evaded by confusing the spontaneous voluntary collaboration between free people with "anarchy" (read: chaos), also confusing what the term itself actually describes (a society in which people govern themselves).

The confusion continued as my opponent tried to argue that babies sign a contract at birth.

In closing, we see that a society that uses force against all individuals has not been shown to any satisfying degree to be more peaceful than a society in which people are free to form their own contracts based on an understanding of universal moral principles.

Therefore, we need neither a government enforcing laws, nor religions commanding its believers, in order to peacefully sustain a society. In fact, it is the only way to a truly peaceful society.

Thanks, Kelisitaan, for taking the debate! :)


I have nothing more to say that hasn't already been said. It's simple; as I've stated multiple times, we are composed of both irrational and rational people. Irrational people need laws for moral guidance, rational people generally do not.

Unfortunately, rational people must bite the bullet and take a small cost (being held at gunpoint as my opponent would call it) in order to receive a larger benefit: protection from irrational people doing irrational things due to no laws.

Moreover, no one is forcing you to live in the USA or whichever country you are referring to; you are free to leave at any point. These are the rules of the game, and they are here for your benefit. Accept them or leave.

Debate Round No. 4
12 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by tommylibertarian1 1 year ago
No problem
Posted by Frederik 1 year ago
Thanks again, Tommy!
Posted by tommylibertarian1 1 year ago
RFD Clarification....I mislabeled PRO and CON in my RFD comments please note accordingly
Posted by tommylibertarian1 1 year ago
RFD Continued

Round 3:

Pro points out that Con's assertion of a need for laws has been left undefended. Pro points out that laws are not peaceful since force is required to uphold them. Pro points out that government laws are aggression against all people in a society and defends that claim.

Con accuses Pro of changing the argument although it seems to have not taken place. Con admits that laws are not peaceful but then asserts the common refrain that if laws are not broken you have 'nothing to worry about' Con admits peaceful people pay for laws but also asserts that they will have to pay in a stateless society as well. That point doesn't further the claim of Con as payment for services in a stateless society obsessively will be voluntary without government rather than by force.

Con then asserts a social contract argument but doesn't give any expanded principles behind it.

Round 4:
Pro asserts correctly that he did not move the goalposts and offered a restatement for clarity. The rest is summary of what Pro has attempted to prove and an assertion that Con did not meet the BOP.

Con restates the same assertion he has made about rational and irrational people with nothing else of value added.

Points were awarded to Pro for formulating clear convincing arguments based on known philosophical principles(Universally Preferable Behavior and the Non-Aggression Principle). Con did not develop a full case or seem to meet the BOP required. Con attempted to use social contract theory but did not use it in a way that helped his case or develop it in a way that would seem helpful.
Posted by tommylibertarian1 1 year ago
RFD Continued

Round 1:
Con argues for morality outside of government using the idea of Universally Preferable Behavior. Con should have sourced and credited Stefan Molyneux for his work in this area since it was clear that is what Con was drawing upon. I am left wishing that Con would have explained UPB more so that the reader understands the concept fully but does give a summary. Con points to not needed codified laws to know what is preferable human behavior and this is the main point of their argument.

Pro asserts that rational people do not necessarily need government laws for moral guidance and that irrational people do however Pro does not build a case to support this with evidence or much in the way of further argument. Pro needs to develop the idea presented and set up and defend an epistemological framework of how we know or don't know their claim to be true. This is in contrast to Pro who uses the established theory of Universally Preferable Behavior.

Round 2
Con points to the fact that individuals make up societies. Con points out that people do not accept moral principles solely based on logical consistency. This seems to be correct as people tend to look to utilitarian concepts when looking at morality. Con points to the abolishment of the state which in this context makes sense since without government laws there is no government. Con defines government and frames government as aggressive and immoral inherently.

Pro has not so far responded to the concept of UPB. Con simply restates their Round 1 points without responding to Con's claims with philosophical argument. Con fails to respond to Pro's assertion of placing the BOP on Con.
Posted by canis 1 year ago
Well. When Amy Whinehouse died Tony Bennett said: "I am sory that she did not live a bit longer to learn to live her life"..So i live with it..
Posted by Frederik 1 year ago
Lucky you!
Posted by canis 1 year ago
No..No..I would probably get shoot. I have a weiner , (and body), that any woman would rape at sight... Husbands do not like it..
Posted by Frederik 1 year ago
Depends on how you want to spend your time, canis. If people in constumes don't like to see your weiner, you may get a free night stay in a rather uninviting hotel!
Posted by canis 1 year ago
I have to wear pants when I take walk in the streets ...Some law and doctrine tells me that I have to... Would theire be any reason to "guide" my self into a pair of pants on a hot day ?
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by tommylibertarian1 1 year ago
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Grammar and conduct were not problems for either participant and thus are tied. Con seems to fail to maybe cite a source but neither directly referred to any sources. Complete RFD will be in comments shortly.