The Instigator
UBERdude63
Pro (for)
Winning
27 Points
The Contender
Daxitarian
Con (against)
Losing
18 Points

Every action we do is in the pursuit of happiness

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/13/2007 Category: Society
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,258 times Debate No: 374
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (18)
Votes (15)

 

UBERdude63

Pro

Premise A: Living is to pursue happiness

Premise B: Life is comprised of choices

Conclusion: We pursue happiness through the choices we make

Therefore: We make choices that we believe will bring us happiness, or the greatest happiness possible, no exception.

This is my logical explanation of what I believe to be human nature.
Daxitarian

Con

Thought experiment: Suppose I could guarantee you happiness by connecting you to a machine that looks like something out of the matrix. You would be totally unaware of your current life in this experience machine. Your greatest fantasies would be fulfilled while you would suck yeast paste through a tube. In your mind you would be the president, a rocker star, or both. But to other people looking on the outside, you look like a vegetable. Do you hop in the machine?

Most people say no. This is Robert Nozick's experience machine argument and it is meant to show that we seem to care more about just happiness.

Happiness is an evolutionary mechanism for our genetic puppet masters to get us to pass on our genes. Our brain rewards us for doing certain things (pleasure) and punishes us for others (pain). The problem is that our reward system evolved in a time while our species was a group of nomadic hunter gatherers. But since then, we have changed our environment considerably.

There is a difference between "we do stuff to be happy," and "we are happy when we do the stuff our genes want us to."

I think there is a greater driving force then happiness, and that is reproduction. We live to breed. But the two are confused because one is used to reenforce the other.

I think that also explains why people don't get in the experience machine. Getting the machine essentially means giving up all control of your reproductive successes.
Debate Round No. 1
UBERdude63

Pro

You still haven't addressed my argument that we do things in the pursuit of happiness. In regard to you thought experiment, if people choose not to get on the machine, then they have made a concious choice not to do so because they value their cognizance over the immediate happiness the machine would provide. If anything, that supports my stance. Look to our Constitution for what I am talking about. In the line about "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness", the pursuit of happiness is given value by the other two. Life gives us the ability to live while liberty allows us to live to the fullest extent possible so that we could pursue happiness. Apply this to what you are saying. You say that it is not happiness that fuels our actions, but the genetic drive to reproduce, when they are one and the same. Happiness is not a sovereign thing; it is relative to our pursuits, that which we choose to do (liberty). Our drive to reproduce gives us purpose and a destination; something to pursue.

What I am trying to say is that, though you have a valid argument, it still doesn't refute my own. Whenever we choose to pursue happiness, be it through reproduction or a machine, we are still pursuing it.
Daxitarian

Con

To be more specific, the premise I am going after is 1. Living is to pursue happiness.

To say that someone values their cognition over getting into the machine does not settle it. In the machine you will still be cognizant, only what you are processing is a electronically constructed reality and not what you are experiencing now.

Even if that were the case, I could make the machine give you a million times more happiness then what you would experience other wise. Your options could be guaranteed infinite amount of happiness or only a chance of only a fraction of that happiness.

If living is to pursue happiness, then everyone would get in the machine no questions asked. But people don't get in the machine, therefore the first part is not right.

As to why this is has been debated by philosophers for a while, and my guess is that it has to do with reproductive success.

I'm not denying that everyone does pursue pleasure. The topic at hand is if everything everyone does is to pursue happiness.

You have to distinguish between all we attain for is happiness and happiness drives us to pursue certain things (pretty much eating and sex).

So I think your first line should be living is to consume and reproduce.
(I may have posted this in the comments as well, since I am still navigating the interface of debate.org)
Debate Round No. 2
UBERdude63

Pro

Just a summation of your arguments:

A: In machine one would still be cognizant, and still maintain that value

B: Even if what I said was the case, the machine would be designed to make us as happy as we wanted

Point: If my conclusion were true, then everyone would get on the machine

Change necesary for validation: My first premise should be: To live is to consume and reproduce

Response A: That is untrue. If you were in a state of atificial realism, then it wouldn't be true cognizance as you would see before you got on the machine.

Response B: If one did value that true cognizance over that which would be provided by the machine, then any kind happiness provided by the machine would be irrelevant. That value in choosing true cognizance over entering the machine would provide the kind of happiness valued by the decider.

Counterpoint: Not everyone pursues the same happiness, but what is certain is that we will make choices in the pursuit of our own individual happiness. Some might value the machine over their reality and pursue that, others as I stated before will choose to not enter it, but they WILL choose whatever they believe will make them the happiest.

Cross apply that argument to what you say. There are others who believe that consumption and reproduction aren't the means to happiness, and will therefore pursue other means. Those two things fit under the category of "happiness" for you, and so your premise is included in my own, so my original argument still stands.
Daxitarian

Con

Response to response A: How is this fake cognizance? Your cognizance is the sum of your experiences, what different does it make if they are caused by sub-atomic particles or electrons racing through a computer chip?

Response to response B: Again your fake cognizance thing doesn't make sense. Why could we not be happy in the machine? Are we not happy when we have pleasant dreams?

Response to counterpoint: Your missing the point is that the machine will guarantee you infinite happiness, and if that is our final goal, then we would get in the machine. A team of neuroscientist would monitor all your brain chemistry and regulate your perception of your virtual environment to maximize your happiness. Therefore, to say I value this over getting in the machine because this will make me more happy is not valid since the machine will give you greater happiness no matter what. It could even be manipulated that your first experience in the machine would be you deciding not to get in the machine, and you would go on to live the happiest life possible, and be none the wiser to you choosing to get in the machine. As far as people always doing what will make them happy, what about attending funerals? We have other emotional needs. Recovering drug addicts who lapse back into drug use? They know drugs won't make them happy, but they do so because they are addicted. They no longer fell "happy" when they do drugs, but do them anyway. To say these things are done because they make us happier than the alternatives is to equate pursuit of happiness with "what we do." And so your argument becomes "Every action we do is what we do," which is tautological and uninteresting. There is a long way to go from "we make some choices in the pursuit of happiness," to "every action we do is in the pursuit of happiness."

Reproduction and consumption do not have to be means to happiness, just that our reward system of happiness evolved with those as the goal. So it's the other way around. You debate someone to become wiser, you are wiser to gain a more revered status, you gain status so that you are a more selectable mate. And since we have rapidly changed our environment over the last few thousand years, our genetics haven't caught up yet. Finding these mismatches is very useful in understanding the world. I think this evolutionary psychology view is more able to explain things then to just say everything we do is in the pursuit of happiness.

Take obesity for an example. Are we obese because it makes us happy? No. Obviously people don't want to be obese. But we eat anyway. Do we feel happy about over eating? We can. But sometimes people feel indifferent or guilty about over eating. I just ate some ramen noodles. They didn't make me happy, but it needed to be done.

Some might say that the media manipulates our version of happiness by advertising fast food, which leads us to eat more and become fat. But we see more advertising for gyms, diet shakes, and what not, why would we not be getting skinnier?

Because humans, like all living things, evolved in an environment where food was scarce and sweetness was a sign of ripeness. You are hardwired to eat more than you need, because back then you didn't know when the next meal would come. Fast forward hundreds of thousands of years: now food is not scarce and usually the sweetest tasting things are the ones that are the worst for you. Our genes aren't any different, but our environment has changed.

So we don't over eat because it makes us happy, but because at one point in our ancestry it was vital to survival and reproductive success. Our happiness is just a way for the brain to reward us to do certain acts, but now that our environment has changed from the one that reward system evolved in, happiness and what we need don't always line up.
Debate Round No. 3
18 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Tatarize 9 years ago
Tatarize
This is the best debate on the entire site. There should be some kind of extra vote for both sides.
Posted by solo 9 years ago
solo
I must've laughed like a psychotic for almost a full minute (which is a LONG TIME to laugh like that) when I saw that this continued into the comments. UBERdude63, you came correct and I agree with your views on the matter, but because of Daxitarian's confusing argument in Round 1, your 2nd Round was squandored. I believe you might've stolen my vote had this gone on for another Round, but my vote has to go to Daxitarian because he got to make a strong case.

I appreciate you both.
Posted by Daxitarian 9 years ago
Daxitarian
But the machine isn't a debate about what will make you happy; anything in this world that you can have, the machine can give it too you. By bringing in other qualifiers such as "reality" you are saying there are other factors besides happiness. You might not get in because you have a sense of duty and you are willing to sacrifice some happiness for that.
Posted by UBERdude63 9 years ago
UBERdude63
No, you are pursuing what you think will really make you happy, which cannot be associated with getting into the machine.
Posted by Daxitarian 9 years ago
Daxitarian
No, because by not getting in the machine, you are choosing to not pursue happiness.
Posted by UBERdude63 9 years ago
UBERdude63
Your last sentence is preciesely my point. People will value the pursuit of happiness more than the particular state of mind, hence the wording of my conclusion stating that everything we do, every choice we make is in the PURSUIT of happiness.
Posted by Daxitarian 9 years ago
Daxitarian
And there in lies the problem. You are saying that people would prefer to be "holistically cognizant" (which doesn't matter because we are not cognizant of everything right now, so to say you are less cognizant in the machine makes no sense) and less happy then to be "non-holistically cognizant" and more happy. So if it is the ends that matter, and the end is just happiness, the the latter would be the choice. People value "real" experience and less happiness over "fake" experience and more happiness.
Posted by UBERdude63 9 years ago
UBERdude63
It doesn't matter because that is a consideration of the ends, and since one would be making judgements based upon present circumstance, then one would be using the values he held at that particular instance. So, if you wanted to be holistically cognizant, and you are not yet under the influence of the machine, then you will not enter it because you would not find the means of happiness you value. You see, it is the PURSUIT of happiness that gives happiness its value. So, since the value comes through the means, the means are first considered when making descisions based upon happiness, not the ends.
Posted by Daxitarian 9 years ago
Daxitarian
Clarification: Yes, right now you would be choosing to get in, but once inside you would have no recollection of getting in. So you could not get in the machine and then think, "Gee wiz, I wish I never got in the experience machine."
Posted by UBERdude63 9 years ago
UBERdude63
You said yourself that people conciously chose not to enter the machine as your example against my poistion, so that is just plainly untrue.
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Vote Placed by livi 9 years ago
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