The Instigator
Kai_Piranha
Pro (for)
Winning
6 Points
The Contender
FMAlchemist
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Does good and evil exist?/Examining scenarios to prove statement

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
Kai_Piranha
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/18/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 971 times Debate No: 60621
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (2)
Votes (1)

 

Kai_Piranha

Pro

This is my first debate, and I decided to start with the topic of whether good and evil exist, using a certain scenario as a jumping point.

I am arguing that good and evil do exist. The scenario that I would like to present is the following:

If I was talking to someone about something trivial and then suddenly took a gun and shot the person in the head because I felt like it (and for no other reason; the conversation had nothing to do with it), this would be considered evil because I would be taking the life of someone. How would you argue that this action would not be considered evil?

My opponent would be arguing that there is no such thing as good and evil using the scenario as the beginning of his/her argument. The debate can expand from there.

The rounds will be as follows:
1.) Acceptance/proving that shooting person in head is not evil because good and evil do not exist
2.) Rebuttal on both sides
3.) Rebuttal on both sides #2
4.) Final thoughts

Sources may be used, although this debate is mainly centered around this particular scenario. Other scenarios can be brought up later in the debate.

I am looking forward to listening to what my opponent has to say and wish him/her the best of luck!
FMAlchemist

Con

Welcome to DDO. Good luck. You have the BoP because you did claimed that good and evil do exist. Pro didn't define evil and good so i will do it for him.

Evil:

morally wrong or bad [1]

Good:

moral righteousness [2]

Scenario

Your scenario is somewhat flawed. This scenario isn't real,because i don't think a person would kill someone without a single reason,just because they feel like it. Another thing is that in your scenario the person that shoots(let's call this person A and the other one B to make it simpler) doesn't seem to consider murder morally wrong. If A did,he wouldn't do it without any reason.Even if A was mentally handicapped,the only way i think someone would do something like that without any reason,someone could say his act wasn't evil,that wasn't fault,because he didn't know what he was doing or that it wasn't his intention.

Objective Morality

If evil and good existed and everyone acknowledged that there would be objective morality,because by definition,good and evil have to be moral and immoral,respectively. I don't think objective morality exists,if it did people wouldn't disagree about the morality of something. In the times of the Cold War,USSR was considered evil in the US,but US was considered evil in USSR.Murder,as your scenario depicts is unlawful by definition[3] so not committing murder would be just following the law,to say murder is objectively evil every society would have to agree that murder is wrong,what doesn't happens,some cultures accept human sacrifice or execution. Samurais could kill people without being considered evil in the Tokugawa period when his honor was affected,and if he could prove his act was right,his murder would be considered morally right[4] and human sacrifices are common in many cultures[5].To prove your point you would have to show me that at least one type of murder or thing you consider evil is considered by every single person to be immoral.



[1]: http://dictionary.reference.com...
[2]: http://dictionary.reference.com...
[3]: http://en.wikipedia.org...(United_States_law)
[4]: http://en.wikipedia.org...
[5]: http://en.wikipedia.org...
Debate Round No. 1
Kai_Piranha

Pro

My opponent argues that good and evil do not exist through the extension of saying that objective morality (morality and immorality) does not exist.

*Scenario*

I did not argue that person A did not have a reason for killing person B. I did say that person A"s decision to kill person B was not based on the conversation that they happened to be having at the moment"that anything A or B brought up in the conversation did not spur A to do anything to B. For all we know, A could have had a prior reason for killing B, but whether or not person A had planned on killing B in advance is beside the point.

I understand the point of my opponent"s argument against the scenario, as there are many factors which can lead to the killing of another person at a particular time. However, in deciding whether an action is good or evil, one can definitely take into account the context of the action being done.

I will discuss more of this point in the Objective Morality section.

*Objective Morality*

My opponent argues that people have dissenting views over what is moral and immoral and thus objective morality does not exist. The fact that some cultures view that killing is moral in certain situations (e.g. human sacrifice) is an example of moral relativism. [1] Despite the fact that cultures may disagree with whether certain actions are morally right or wrong, the fact that there are certain standards in place shows that there are moral principles that they are working from.

For example, the Aztecs participate in human sacrifice, which they consider moral because they are giving up their lives for something greater. One instance is the New Fire ceremony, in which humans were sacrificed in order to give the gods the strength to prevent the end of the world for another 52 years. [2] To an outsider, human sacrifice might be immoral because of the killing of individuals, but it is also possible the outsider might agree that the idea of keeping the world alive for future generations is morally sound.

My opponent argues that most people will not kill unless there is a good reason. I would think that this statement in itself is something that would be agreed upon universally--even those who might be incapacitated would have their reasons to kill, even if they don"t believe killing is wrong. To kill someone needlessly would be pointless--if we were completely uninhibited with our killing, many of us (or perhaps all of us) would likely be dead. Thus, there is some standard of life that we hold, even if life in certain cases is less prioritized.

While I agree with my opponent that people may not agree on what actions are good or evil, there are still principles that people aspire to either live by or ignore. I bring this up because my opponent is denying the existence of objective morality by bringing up the case of relativism, but my opponent has not convinced me that relativism can completely negate objective morality. I would like to ask my opponent for specific clarification on the definition of relativism that he/she is using.

I would also like to request that my opponent expand his/her position on relativism in regards to the scenario. Person A"s killing of B might not be considered immoral because he did not know that killing was immoral, as my opponent brings up. But suppose that A believed that killing B was immoral but did it anyways.

Would that not indicate that A is going against a principle that he believes he should be living by but goes against it because he believes in something he believes is better or more interesting? Or, in contrast, is A"s decision to kill B the moral decision because to not do kill B would be immoral?

[1]: http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2]: http://en.wikipedia.org...
FMAlchemist

Con

I forgot to define morality and morals so i will do it in this round instead.

Morality:

a doctrine or system of morals.[1]

Morals:

of, pertaining to, or concerned with the principles or rules of rightconduct or the distinction between right and wrong; ethical[2]

Rebuttals

I did not argue that person A did not have a reason for killing person B.


"If I was talking to someone about something trivial and then suddenly took a gun and shot the person in the head because I felt like it (and for no other reason; the conversation had nothing to do with it)"

You did say the only reason he had is that he felt like it.

However, in deciding whether an action is good or evil, one can definitely take into account the context of the action being done.

One could say that A's action was not evil because he had a good reason and to not do so would be immoral,as you point later in your argument.

To an outsider, human sacrifice might be immoral because of the killing of individuals, but it is also possible the outsider might agree that the idea of keeping the world alive for future generations is morally sound.

To have an objective morality absolutely every person would have to agree that it is either moral or immoral,what i don't see possible. To a non-believer in their gods it would sound like complete nonsense and immoral but to them or to an outsider agreeing with them it sounds completely moral and justifiable.

My opponent argues that most people will not kill unless there is a good reason. I would think that this statement in itself is something that would be agreed upon universally...

According to the definition good means morally righteous,and i think most people would agree that we can see on TV that do people kill for trivial matters,like 10 dollars or a discussion,without a morally righteous reason.

...even those who might be incapacitated would have their reasons to kill, even if they don"t believe killing is wrong.

That's a big claim. The majority of people would not say a person is guilty for their killing,because they wouldn't know what the were doing and because they can't discern good and bad. If they don't know that killing is wrong because it is stopping another person's life they wouldn't need to have any reason to kill. Kids usually only get the idea of separated minds with 4 years of age,so i don't think,depending of the problem,the person killing would have that concept too.[3]

I bring this up because my opponent is denying the existence of objective morality by bringing up the case of relativism, but my opponent has not convinced me that relativism can completely negate objective morality.

I don't believe in relativism,i do think that certain things are absolute but not regarding morality. There aren't principles that would have been obeyed by absolutely every person.

Or, in contrast, is A"s decision to kill B the moral decision because to not do kill B would be immoral?

Outsiders would consider it immoral,but for A it would be moral. It wouldn't be moral or immoral for everyone.



[1]:http://dictionary.reference.com...
[2]:http://dictionary.reference.com...
[3]:http://en.wikipedia.org...
Debate Round No. 2
Kai_Piranha

Pro

Rebuttals

I appreciate that my opponent clarified my scenario. I brought up the possible motive of killing to explain how someone could still kill someone without being spurred by the scenario he was in"thus, person A would "feel like" killing person B at some point. To be consistent with my wording, however, I will concede that person A killed person B because he wanted to shoot someone for no particular or prior reason (mentally handicapped A).

I had stated that people would not kill unless they had a good reason. The action of killing someone needlessly is what I was referring to as immoral. However, person A has no reason to think that his action is immoral because he is mentally incapacitated. Therefore, while the killing of B is an immoral act, person A would have no culpability because he had no distinction of morality in the first place. Some mentally handicapped individuals who have reasons for killing, but they too are not culpable because their reasons fall along the same line of reasoning. Therefore, I agree with my opponent that mentally handicapped people may not be able to discern right from wrong.

The distinction that I am making is that we do have a standard which holds people in some regard so that they should not die unless there is a very good reason. There is something clouding the people"s judgment in distinguishing morality. The fact that we accept this shows that we do hold life in importance and to take it away so suddenly would be immoral. (I accept that mental health is more complex than what I make it to be in this argument, but I am assuming here that the attributed sources of decisions to the mentally handicapped people in these examples are very present illnesses that are impacting their thinking.)

My opponent believes that for objective morality to exist, everyone must agree that a certain action is either always moral or always immoral. My opponent is describing (and is against) moral absolutism, which is defined as "the ethical belief that there are absolute standards against which moral questions can be judged, and that certain actions are right or wrong, regardless of the context of the act." [1] To say that there is something out there which decides whether there are entirely right or entirely wrong actions is beyond the scope of this debate (because that would mean that there is a god or force which determines this, and we would likely have to prove the existence of that first). However, I am arguing that people are aware of the difference between morality and immorality. For those that cannot distinguish right from wrong"especially in an extreme case where morality cannot be distinguished at all"one could say that they cannot make moral decisions.

Some people who happen to be in peak mental condition may be considered to make immoral decisions. My opponent mentions this later in his/her rebuttal...Outsiders would consider it immoral,but for A it would be moral. It wouldn't be moral or immoral for everyone...If we are adhering to the scenario, then to person A the act of killing B would be morally permissible. This would be different from morally obligatory, which is defined as something that a person has to do to uphold a moral standard. Morally permissible acts are not immoral, but to not do them would not be any less moral than doing them. [2] Therefore, A may think that killing B is okay because he does not think that killing B is bad, but that does not mean that he must kill B. Because A does not think that there is any distinction between killing B and something else that is morally permissible, A is not acting towards any particular moral standard.

I mentioned that people can potentially say that their actions are moral even if to others it isn"t, as my opponent described. However, I have also mentioned that people do have the choice to go against something that people may think is moral for the sake of being immoral. This person is in peak mental condition but goes against what people may say is moral. In others words, there are actions that are morally permissible, morally required, and morally forbidden.

As an example of something morally required, say there is a person C who has a life-saving treatment that he could give away at any time. He is alone in a room with person D, who is dying of an illness which the treatment can completely cure. If he does not get the treatment, he will die. Suppose these two people are the only ones in the area for miles and miles, and there is ample food and water to live on. D is unable to move for some reason (say he is chained to the wall), and C can leave the room at any time. D begs for C to cure him, but C simply walks out of the room and never returns, leaving D to eventually die, thinking that D deserves not to live. This is a very primitive example, but the point I am trying to make is that C made a decision against saving D"s life (and let us suppose that C is not morally opposed to D in anyway; he just does not think that D is too weak of a person to live). He is going against what people would say is morally required to do, which is to save the person"s life.

Also, people often to choose to do things that are not good for themselves (e.g. people smoking even though they know it is bad for them). This also makes the point that despite knowing they should or should not do something, people will take the opposite path. My example above shows that this can be possible for morality.

...i think most people would agree that we can see on TV that do people kill for trivial matters...Even then there is still a reason for the action. To the person who kills for trivial matters, those matters mean everything. My opponent acknowledges that people can kill without morally righteous reasons. If people are aware in their minds that there are things that are both immoral and moral, would that not mean they are straying away from things that are bad (or morally impermissible) and doing the things that are good (or morally permissible)?

My opponent does believe in specifically moral relativism. To clarify (because my last link may have redirected to plain relativism instead), moral relativism regards differences in morality within different cultures. My opponent has argued for both descriptive moral relativism (people disagree about morality) and meta-ethical moral relativism (nobody is objectively right or wrong). [3] While I do agree that descriptive moral relativism exists, I am arguing that there is a standard that people have for their actions. Not having any standards at all can definitely be argued as a problem (see my last rebuttal about everyone killing one another as one example"no standards of human life, that is).

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org..., [2] http://www.carroll.edu..., [3] http://en.wikipedia.org...
FMAlchemist

Con

FMAlchemist forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
Kai_Piranha

Pro

Since I am giving final thoughts, I will not add anything new to the debate. Instead, I will summarize what my opponent and I have discussed and briefly re-state my position.

I am arguing that good and evil exist, and my opponent argued the converse (that they do not exist). The scenario I presented was that a person A was talking to a person B and then shot him in the head for no other reason than simply feeling like it. My opponent made the scenario clearer by saying that person A must be convinced that his action had no moral connotation"that is, A could not know that what he was doing was wrong and therefore did not find the killing of B immoral.

My opponent argued that for good and evil to exist, there must be things that are moral and immoral, and since people disagree over what is moral and immoral, objective morality must not exist and therefore good and evil must not exist. For one group of people, a practice may be considered morally right, while to another group that practice may be abhorred (e.g. human sacrifice). I stated that while we may disagree on certain actions, society does share similar principles that we consider "good," even though how we act on them may not be agreed upon. Since these universal principles exist, we can say that good exists.

I also stated that people can tell something is off when moral decision-making is not present. In the scenario above, person A has a condition which makes him think that killing is not something immoral. My opponent has made clear in his argument that he believes this as true. Both of us have acknowledged that people usually kill for some reason, regardless of whether others think the killing is moral or immoral. Based on this, I make the claim that overall, people are aware that killing has to have a cause behind it; to shoot someone without any real reason is off. While my opponent argues that this cannot happen in reality, I argue that someone who is unable to believe this has some part of moral judgment impaired. It"s similar to the principles claim I made in that people are aware there is a divide between one extreme or the other, and to be unaware tells us that the person"s thinking is off. Our common experience can therefore say something about whether morality and immorality is present.

Furthermore, I made the case that people can choose to do something immoral even if they believe an opposite action is moral, citing an example of a dying man with an illness being denied a cure by another man who believes giving the cure is the right thing to do, simply because the man has no regard for the man with the illness. My opponent might argue that to the man with the cure, withholding the cure would be the moral thing to do, but in this case, the man knows that curing the sick man is a moral action but goes against it for the sake of doing the opposite thing. If there is morality, then there must be the opposite of morality.

In summary, I argue that because we are aware of morality and immorality and can choose to do things we believe are either moral or immoral, good and evil exist. In a sense, I am arguing not for moral absolutism, as my opponent has been against, but instead for the things that we acknowledge are moral. To go against these things is what we ultimately considered immoral. The separation between people in terms of moral standards comes from how we carry out these principles and whether people are able to distinguish one morality extreme from the other.

I did enjoy thinking about this issue, and I appreciate all my opponent had to say, as his thoughts helped me look at the issue differently. I hope that I presented my case to the best of my knowledge and that the voters will decide who made the better argument.
FMAlchemist

Con

FMAlchemist forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by FMAlchemist 2 years ago
FMAlchemist
No problem!I didn't even noticed!xD
Posted by Kai_Piranha 2 years ago
Kai_Piranha
Trivial but the title was supposed to be "Do good and evil exist?". Can't help it...:)
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by lannan13 2 years ago
lannan13
Kai_PiranhaFMAlchemistTied
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Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeiture