The Instigator
Phoenix_Reaper
Pro (for)
Losing
7 Points
The Contender
meowmixxx
Con (against)
Winning
11 Points

Emotion is a weakness in decision making.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
meowmixxx
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/26/2011 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,978 times Debate No: 16154
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (3)

 

Phoenix_Reaper

Pro

Definitions

Emotion – a conscious mental reaction (as anger or fear) subjectively experienced as strong feeling usually directed toward a specific object and typically accompanied by physiological and behavioral changes in the body. [1]

Weakness – fault, defect. [2]

Feeling – an emotional state or reaction. [3]

An emotional response to a majority of situations is irrational. Emotion uses the sense of "feeling" that the stance being taken is correct and undeniable. Furthermore it gives a sense of conviction on a position. A conviction within a persons mind has the ability to override rational thought and dismiss facts.

Example: Female A and Female B get into a scuffle over the same Male. The Male has played both girls into liking/loving him.
Female A states she has been in a relationship with the Male for years so Female B needs to get lost.
Female B claims that the Male said he loves her thus trumping any claim she has.

Female A and Female B are both using an emotional response in order to justify their claim. Those who are not invested in this argument are able to see the real problem, the Male. Due to the heated emotional investment into the argument both Females have failed to look at the whole matter at hand. The reason the Male is at fault is due to social norms he should not have been with another women.

Granted the example above is based upon a person on person disagreement. My point still stands but I will take my point further now such as;

Sen. Jon Kyl claimed the Planned Parenthood activity is "well over ninety percent." [4]

In reality it is actually three percent. [5]

In order for an agenda to be pushed through the House of Congress – which dictate the laws we are meant to follow – Sen. Jon Kyl used a childish and emotional tactic in order to prove his point. Such people in a position that are able to effect a country should not ever use an emotional base to push their point. Such thought leads to terrible outcomes in the end.

The topic alone of this debate may likely illicit an emotional reasoning by saying emotion is what make us human or ever we would be no where without emotional. Those topics I will cover should they arise later in the debate.

I have opened this debate up well. I expect a major challenge. I pass it on to the Con.

[1]http://www.merriam-webster.com...
[2]http://www.merriam-webster.com...
[3]http://www.merriam-webster.com...
[4]http://freeourpress.info...
[5]http://www.factcheck.org...
meowmixxx

Con

I'd like to thank Pro for making this debate and for giving me the opportunity to have my first debate on an interesting topic. Without further ado, I'll present my argument, starting with a revised definition:

1. Emotion: physiological arousal, expressive behaviors, and conscious experience. [1]

Prefer my definition for three reasons:
1. It more completely captures what it is when we use the word "emotion" as covering a wide range of experiences from within the subjective experience.
2. Fairness: My opponent's definition already creates a pretense for an emotion having to be something strong, unfairly skewing the perception of what it is we're talking about.
3. My opponent's definition's are circular; emotion relies on the definition of feeling and feeling relies on a definition of emotion.

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Argument 1: On rationality:
A: my opponent's argument

My opponent attempts to argue that emotional response to any situation is irrational, and attempts to provide two examples, both of which I do not feel demonstrate anything of particular interest, nor do they prove his point. In the first (vaguely sexist) example he lays out a situation in which two people (A and B) share a common love interest C, and use what seems to be inductive reasoning to reach their conclusion. Person A uses an appeal to the stability of their relationship, while Person B appeals to testimony. My opponent says that the real problem is person C, but that isn't entirely clear. The problem more seems to stem from a desire to retain being exclusive. The whole matter at hand is not really what the debate is about, but even if it were, this is a non-starter. It doesn't matter if they're failing to grasp the entirety of the situation, the actual argument set up by my opponent seems to have two people making reasonable arguments given their position, though not particularly well reasoned arguments.

My opponent's example of Senator Kyl making a false claim is also a non-starter in this debate; the fact that Kyl grossly exaggerated how many abortions Planned Parenthood performs has little to nothing to do with emotion; it has everything to do with dishonest political ethics and an attempt to sway fellow senators based on something that seems like an objective source; again, this seems like something based on reason. My opponent makes some argument about how this is an emotional tactic, but why this is so isn't entirely clear. His claim that this leads to terrible outcomes in the end is also unfounded, as we have no empirical evidence presented.

B: Human irrationality
Regardless, there's no reason to believe that rationality leads to preferable outcomes, or that we are even capable of behaving an a coherent or rational methods [2]. Furthermore, there's no reason to think that rationality is particularly good, it might just be a useful way for creating a dichotomy between certain types of behaviors. Still, there's no reason to believe that there is some relationship between good outcomes and rationality.
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Argument 2: Decision making
Game Theory is a field of applied mathematics that is central to the fields of Economics, Finance Theory, Psychology, and Political Science; it is a method of measuring how we make decisions. In specific, it examines in particular how we make decisions and assumes that we are all rational actors. This is relevant to the argument in this key way: emotions are simply payoff modifiers, meaning that the way in which we act is still rational with emotions, it's just that emotions modify how we act. However, in the end, we still go for whatever we value the most at that particular time slice, meaning that emotions are a component of the decision making process. [3] [4]

Let's unpack this a bit and take a look at a counter example where a person has no emotions. It seems intuitive to us that the person suddenly has little, to no reason to act or exert any decision making prowess beyond fulfilling the basic requirements of eating and keeping oneself alive. In a world where we have advanced to a point where we no longer need to worry about fulfilling our basic beliefs, a world without emotion seems impressively stark and devoid of most anything other than eating. My opponent may make the argument that we'll still have desires, but these desires only exist to meet basic emotional states; I do things to enjoy myself; enjoyment is an emotion as per the provided definition.

Almost all decisions beyond immediate survival have some emotional component. When I kiss my girlfriend, there is an emotional component, likewise, when I run to the subway to catch my train, that's driven by an emotional desire to be on time. The entirety of my behavior is based on how I value things, which is driven by emotional impulses and justifications [5]

Why is this key to the entire argument? If emotion is a part of the decision making process like I argue that it is, that would mean that a part of the decision making process weakens itself. First off, this seems to be intuitively wrong, we don't say that the decision making process is weak because we value things, we say that the decision making process is valuable because it helps us reach the things that we value. If emotion plays ANY central role in the decision making process, then it is not a detrimental factor, since the process itself is based off of emotion.

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Argument 3: Emotion can help us make better decisions.
My opponent focuses on unclear emotions to show that they provide poor basis for action. However, we can just as easily imagine cases where emotion helps make us better decisions. Here are two examples:

1. I am making a decision as to where I should go to a party. My options are in a crime ridden area, or in a relatively safe part of town. I also happen to have a general fear of crime and a general enjoyment of my physical and emotional well being, things which I don't need to say are rooted in emotion. I decide to go to the safer part of town. Over all, this seems like a better decision than one where I could have arbitrarily chosen either.

2. I am attempting to decide whether to grade papers or enjoy myself, knowing that choosing the latter would severely delay the former. I realize that I value my students more than my own enjoyment, and that the shame would otherwise make me distraught were I not to grade their papers. I make the decision to grade their papers based on how my emotions guide my actions.
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Overview of the Round
The resolution is Negation-Centric. Since it doesn't deal with any epistemic or metaphysical claims, it should not be evaluated as a system where inference to the best explanation functions. Instead, a constructive account about ethics needs to account for all possibilities [6]

1a
Is terminal defense, in the sense that it attempts to show that my opponent's main points don't lead to any particular conclusion in general, and that it doesn't do enough work to lead you to vote for pro. Don't let my opponent bring up completely new Pro arguments or ad hoc arguments, as that skews my own ground as I have to respond to more examples. If my opponent had good examples, they should have have been there from the start.
1b. Functions as weak offense; if it obtains, if there's even a risk of you believing the con position, you should vote con, since there's no reason to buy into the Pro position if there's no reason to think that rationality is good.
2 and 3 Function as pure offense: If either of them pass, then you're going to immediately vote for Con, because Pro must be sufficiently robust as an ethical system to account for them.


1. Myers, David G. (2004) "Theories of Emotion." Psychology: Seventh Edition, p. 500.
2. Ariely, Dan Predictably Irrational. http://asset.soup.io...
3 Dresher, Melvin Games of Strategy 3rd Ed
4. BdM, Principles of International Politics. 2000.
5. Frankfurt, Harry Reasons of Love. 2004.
6. Street, Sharon In Defense of Future Tuesday Indifference
Debate Round No. 1
Phoenix_Reaper

Pro

I would like to thank the Con for accepting this debate.

I accept your revised definition as I agree it is more fair.

On my opponents first argument.

The two examples I have provided in my opening are just that examples. My opponent has said that the first example with Female A and Female B is not what this debate is about. Decision making happens within every choice people make day to day this is nothing different.

"..stem from a desire to retain being exclusive."

This desire to retain being exclusive leads to irrational thought and voiding facts.

"We filter our observations of the world through our own beliefs. We may tend to focus on any information that agrees with our perspective and to ignore information that disagrees with our belief. " [1]

This quote also relates to my second example with the Senator.

As for his second point, Human irrationality, I disagree to his claim that people are not entirely capable of coherent or rational methods. A person is capable of allowing their belief system to become second in the thought process if the person wills it. At a younger age children are taught to rely on their emotion rather than presented fact.

"..it might just be a useful way for creating a dichotomy between certain types of behaviors."

I agree except I would say it IS useful to do such. Most things are not as complicated as people make them out to be.

Now onto my opponents second argument.

"...emotions are simply payoff modifiers, meaning that the way in which we act is still rational with emotions, it's just that emotions modify how we act."

That exact quote is the problem with humans. People have a tendency to, as you said, rationalize with emotions and that is the problem. A person may not be completely rational with a bias of emotion. By removing emotion from the equation he or she may find a more suitable outcome within the situation. The cost is not getting the feel good about their decision.

"In a world where we have advanced to a point where we no longer need to worry about fulfilling our basic beliefs, a world without emotion seems impressively stark and devoid of most anything other than eating. "

Yes you are correct about stark not so much for just eating. Clearly there is more to life than eating but I am thinking that line was meant to be a exaggeration. A person without emotion would just go about life as one does without any consequence. Desires as you have suggested I may argue would most likely be trivial to someone without emotion.

"..some emotional component."

Correct. It is quite impossible to devoid emotion from all aspects of life as per your example with the train. The idea of my argument is that a person would be better off without emotions. Being able to eliminate any emotional component would be a step forward as a species.

"..we say that the decision making process is valuable because it helps us reach the things that we value."

To reach something that he or she values by their decision making is justifying their means. To elaborate upon my opinion above, values are questionable. Ones values may not be the same as others which leads to a slight conflict of interest when a decision is needed between two people. It would be better as a species to void emotion from life entirely so that reasonable responses can be accomplished.

On argument three.

My opponents first example was not based primarily on an emotional response. The decision was based upon a reasonable difference between the two parties to chose from. The decision focused upon the safety of yourself.

On example two he stated, "knowing that choosing the latter would severely delay the former." This is a perfect example of reasonable thought. As a teacher it is part of your job to grade papers. Yes you may have chosen to have some enjoyment in a way you deem fit but as you have said it would only delay it. By choosing to finish part of your deal with the students you have made a sensible choice. I fail to see how emotion guided your decision.

[1]http://www.mental-health-survival-guide.com...
meowmixxx

Con

First off, I think it it will be useful to get a working definition of rational in this debate; I propose the following definition:
Rational: Preference for actions that are in the self-interest of the actor.
This seems to be the implicit definition that both my opponent and I are using, but having it spelled out will be useful later on.
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On My opponent's arguments:
Recall how I place the burden of proof on the affirmative: My opponent needs to show that his examples show conclusively show that in at least the majority of cases, emotion shouldn't play a role in decision making; something that his first examples fail to do and he has continued to not demonstrably show. Let's take a closer look at his responses to my arguments:

"This desire to retain being exclusive leads to irrational thought and voiding facts."

By what measure is this decided? Under the way that the assumptions present in game theory work, they both just have a higher expected utility from engaging in conflict. In the activity that they're participating, the exclusivity is the highest payoff. They value exclusivity with person C as their highest payoff; there's no voiding facts or irrational thought. They're acting in their best interest, given their interest.

The senator example still does little to no work for my opponent, and the quote has nothing to do with emotion, only with beliefs. Beliefs are certain propositional states that we possess; they are not emotions, which are non-propositional. His actions are still rational: He's presenting misinformation to help his cause.

My opponent also failed here to show that there's a conclusive link between decision making that involves emotion and bad outcomes; don't let him answer this in his last speech. With this, you have NO reason to vote Pro. The thrust of the argument is that it leads to bad outcomes, but without being able to demonstrably show this, there's no reason to accept that there's actually a weakness to emotional decision making, because he doesn't trace out how it negatively impacts the actor. Again, don't let him bring this up in his last speech, as that would be a demonstratively abusive move on his part.

I don't need the rest of 1b to win, but don't penalize me for kicking it, since my opponent puts no offense on it.

My opponent fails on both counts to show how his two examples allow for the generality of the statement that emotions are detrimental to decision making, he only has two examples which cannot be generalized to an entire class of our internal lives. Further more, even if they could, both his examples are non-starters and don't relate to the subject matter at hand.
---
On Game Theory
My opponent says the following:

"That exact quote is the problem with humans. People have a tendency to, as you said, rationalize with emotions and that is the problem. A person may not be completely rational with a bias of emotion. By removing emotion from the equation he or she may find a more suitable outcome within the situation. The cost is not getting the feel good about their decision."
This is an excellent way to completely miss the point of the argument. I never said that people rationalize with emotions, I said that emotions are the root of how we come to make decisions, that is, all of our decisions are based off some form of emotion, as my sources demonstrate. We act upon what we value, which is driven by emotion. My argument had nothing to do with rationalization and even less to do with 'feeling good'. The argument is that any decision one will make other than getting food, sleeping, or relieving yourself has to do in some sense with emotion. Game theory is predicated on the notion that our emotions modify our payoffs, because we act towards what we want the most, and making decision towards what we want the most just is what is the most rational action.

Hence, when my opponent says
"Yes you are correct about stark not so much for just eating. Clearly there is more to life than eating but I am thinking that line was meant to be a exaggeration. A person without emotion would just go about life as one does without any consequence. Desires as you have suggested I may argue would most likely be trivial to someone without emotion."

There's no exaggeration, I mean it quite literally. The basis for our actions are our desires and emotions, without those, we'd have no reason to prefer one action over the other, as Frankfurt says in Reasons of Love. If I have no desire, I have no reason to act, and hence, I have no reason to make a decision. This argument was cold conceded. The entirety of Pro's premise falls, because we couldn't make decisions without emotion, so emotion couldn't be detrimental to the action of decision making; it's a necessary condition for it. Even further, take a look at the highlighted part of my opponent's statement: Desires would be trivial without emotion. There should be no doubt in your mind that my opponent just conceded the argument. Since decision making is reliant on our desires and emotions, my opponent has conceded that under a "Pro world", we'd have no reason to really do much of anything. Again, conceding that we wouldn't have desires without emotions sinks Pro's entire argument, as desires and are the fuel for the decision making engine.

Let's take a look as how to my opponent attempts to make an argument about value:
"To reach something that he or she values by their decision making is justifying their means. To elaborate upon my opinion above, values are questionable. Ones values may not be the same as others which leads to a slight conflict of interest when a decision is needed between two people. It would be better as a species to void emotion from life entirely so that reasonable responses can be accomplished."
This seems like a pretty vacuous argument, for the following reason: My opponent values 'reasonable responses', and a lack of emotion. It seems like my opponent doesn't totally grasp what I mean by value; I'm not talking about normative values or virtues, but mundane values, such as my valuing that my apartment is clean, or that that I value the taste of cheddar cheese above that of American cheese. Furthermore, there's no reason to think that we'd not have conflicts without emotion. Conflicts of interest would still continue over things necessary to survival, such as food. Otherwise, I agree, we would have less conflicts, because that we'd be performing far less actions. However, this argument holds weight in the first place because of an implicit value for a lack of conflict.

My opponent has failed to actually challenge Argument 2, which functions as a purely offensive argument. Because of this, you should be ready to already vote Con, since I've demonstrated that decision making is based off of emotion. Hence, decision making can't be weakened by emotion, and Pro's argument can't obtain.
---
Argument 3: Counter examples
Both of my counterexamples are, in fact, based off of emotion: Desires are based off of base emotions, and desires in turn fuel decision making. Hence, a decision based on desiring safety relies on emotion. In the second example, I'm not clear how my opponent can deny that being distraught over shame has nothing to do with emotion, because it seems fairly intuitive that anything involving shame, or fear, relates to some form of emotion. Hence, argument 3 still obtains, showing that there are cases where emotion is a beneficial factor in decision making. Hence, emotion is not universally a weakness in decision making.
---
Overview:
My opponent has failed to show that his examples can be generalized to make as strong a claim as he is. Meanwhile, he gives no reason to vote Pro.
Both argument 2 and 3 go uncontested in any meaningful way, showing demonstrably that emotion is not a weakness in decision making. Because of this, you have no reason to vote Pro, and every reason to vote Con.
Debate Round No. 2
Phoenix_Reaper

Pro

Phoenix_Reaper forfeited this round.
meowmixxx

Con

My opponent forfeited the round, but nonetheless, let me reiterate:
You've got 3 clear reasons to vote Con:

1. He fails to meet his burden of proof
a. Both his arguments are non-starters to the resolution
b: His arguments don't meet the burden of proof in that they can't make the generalization needed for him to win the round.
c: There's no reason to believe rationality is somehow "good" in that it leads to good pay offs. My opponent needed to show this, but did not.
2. My argument on game theory clearly demonstrates how emotion is just a factor of decision making. This went conceded through all rounds. If emotion is a necessary factor of decision making, than it isn't a weakness in that process.
3. My counter examples show that even if you don't buy into argument 2, you still have a reason to vote Con, because more often than not our emotions can also be strengths in decision making.

I offer you three very easy ways out of this round, and because of this, I urge you to vote Con.
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by meowmixxx 3 years ago
meowmixxx
Man oh man I love it when people interject their own beliefs into voting for a debate.
Posted by Phoenix_Reaper 3 years ago
Phoenix_Reaper
Lost internet day after I submitted. Pity but I do not think I would have a good response. In due time I shall be back. Until than...
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by quarterexchange 3 years ago
quarterexchange
Phoenix_ReapermeowmixxxTied
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Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: countering lionhearts votebomb even though pro forefeited and the spelling was even and both used an equal amount of reliable sources
Vote Placed by Lionheart 3 years ago
Lionheart
Phoenix_ReapermeowmixxxTied
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Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: I give all points to Phoenix, because he makes a valid point. Emotion is a weakness in decision making and it can also be a strength, it depends on the situation. Overall though, a decision should never be made from an emotion. Decisions should always be made from logic, reason, and wisdom. Never emotion.
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 3 years ago
RoyLatham
Phoenix_ReapermeowmixxxTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Interesting debate. I suspect Pro was thinking of a resolution along the lines, "Emotion often clouds decision making." However, that wouldn't get any takers. "Self-interest" is an emotional response due to human nature. Ther eis no avoiding it.