The Instigator
Wocambs
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
Dragonfang
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

Every conscious action is intended to produce happiness

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/19/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,552 times Debate No: 36811
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (14)
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Wocambs

Pro

I believe it is true that every conscious action, and I mean 'conscious' not only in the sense that one is aware of the action, but also that one willed the action, is performed with the intention of producing happiness for the individual performing the action.

Please message me if you wish to debate this.
Dragonfang

Con

I thank my opponent for making this debate and choosing me to participate in it.


---
Definition of CONSCIOUS (1)
1
: perceiving, apprehending, or noticing with a degree of controlled thought or observation <conscious of having succeeded> <was conscious that someone was watching>

I believe that this is the most fitting definition for concious that invovlves a "Willed action" alongside awarness. Which means we can't have a zombie-like or a hypnotized person used as an example. However, an addict person that does no want to be an addict is questionable.
---

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Definition of HAPPINESS (2)
1
obsolete : good fortune : prosperity
2
a : a state of well-being and contentment : joy b : a pleasurable or satisfying experience
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The terms are relatively simple. I shall begin my argument, but before that I will post a reminder that the burden of proof resides in my opponent's side. I only need to undermine his arguments, while he needs to prove that every action done by any being consciously is aimed toward bringing happiness and satisfaction.


The ideology my opponent needs to prove is called "Psychological egoism". Which is the thesis that we are always deep down motivated by what we perceive to be in our own self-interest. Psychological altruism, on the other hand, is the view that sometimes we can have ultimately altruistic motives. (3)
This is basically tautology, unnecessary repetition of statements, ideas, or words. Joel Feinberg have demonstrated the circular logic in psychological egoism:

"All men desire only satisfaction."
"Satisfaction of what?"
"Satisfaction of their desires."
"Their desires for what?"
"Their desires for satisfaction."
"Satisfaction of what?"
"Their desires."
"For what?"
"For satisfaction"—etc., ad infinitum.


This makes the whole theory pointless. That is what it is, a vacuous statement.

1- If A, then B.
2- (A-Z) is A.
3- (A-Z) Is B


A=Desire for happiness
B=Action presented to produce happiness
(A-Z)=Every single action


This is not only pointless, but false.

Lets say: "All penguins in this room are males"
The other guy says: "Actually, all penguins in this room are females"
A third guy says: "No you idiots! Every single penguin in this room is both a male and female at the same time!"

All statements are true to the exact same degree because there are no penguins to test in this room. Lets go with the famous grenade martyr example: I hereby declare that the soldier shielded his squad from the grenade because he gave his happiness away for his teammates.
You may argue that he did so because he could not live happily if he let them die or because he wanted to be a hero, but there is no way to prove that. You are judging based on a standard that is not proven to exist.


The (A-Z) argument is equalized to saying: "All actions are actions". You must prove that the actions are in fact aimed to bring satisfaction.
You assume that the definition of happiness is meaningless. To apply happiness to the purpose of all actions, you must provide factual evidence for that statement, which is not possible. Even if they were possible, these evidence would be empirical and does not prove an action not motivated by happiness cannot exist. Thus, the resolution is never fulfilled.


Therefore, someone who makes a resolution that is opposite to yours have the same validity as your theory/claim. You cannot prove it because there is no evidence at all. Ironically, this is an inductive or an empirical argument, it is well established in philosophy that our sensory data cannot be trusted. (4)

Ask yourself, how can you make sure someone is acting for the pursuit of happiness? All I have is a generalization fallacy or an argument from ignorance.


Basically, for any counter example you provide, I can provide a counter example that assumes the person is acting against self-interest. We can go on for ad infinitum.


I do not claim to be able to refute tautologies. That is impossible. However, Tautologies is also impossible to prove. If an equal burden of proof is taken, that would be a pseudo-debate. However, since you are carrying the burden of proof I predict that impossibility shall collapse on you.




I know it is nice to assume that every action is motivated by self-satisfaction, but there is no proof. Every action might be against self-interest as well. Every single action can be rationalized either way. From this point forth, I shall take the position of "Psychological Altruism". I will rationalize every action by assuming that the person have done it for the greater good, if an action is destructive then the person believes the world would be better without what is destroyed, if it is beneficial then it would makes the world or other people's lives better. Since the burden of proof is on you, I only need you to not win.



---
To summarize my view on the resolution:

1- Your claim is inductive, no amount of testing or examples will prove it. To prove such statement that contains the magical words: "Everything" or "Nothing", you must prove that it is a necessity that applies to all possible actions.

2- Your claim is a meaningless circular logic that can not be proved or disproved. You are only assuming that all actions are a certain way while ignoring other possibilities.

3- A theory that cannot be disproved or tested is not (social) science at all, thus can be dismissed. Science itself cannot prove theories.


I await your argument.


(1) http://www.merriam-webster.com...
(2) http://www.merriam-webster.com...
(3) http://www.iep.utm.edu...
(4) http://plato.stanford.edu...
Debate Round No. 1
Wocambs

Pro

I accept your definitions for the time being, although I believe that I am permitted to reserve the right to provide a different understanding of those words (within reason), seeing as I'm making the positive argument. Please understand that in the following argument I am always discussing conscious actions.

My Argument (in its current, likely ephemeral form)

If we ask ‘what motivates an action?’ we must also ask ‘what constitutes motivation?’. Let us hear from Jeremy Bentham:

"Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure." – Jeremy Bentham [1]

Broadly, I agree. Motivation comes in the form of a reason to do something or a reason not to do something, and these reasons are formulated into desires which control freely-willed actions (a will being necessary to willed actions). I will attempt to put my argument in formal terms for clarity:

1. Conscious actions are motivated by desires.
2. Performing an action results in a different world than if a different action had been performed.
Ergo, conscious actions attempt to create a more desirable world

3. In acting, an individual recognises that the result of the action is intended to produce the most desirable world that could possibly be generated from the options the individual perceives
4. The individual thereby approves most of the intended world than any other the individual can conceive possible
5. If an individual approves of one world more than another, then that individual is expressing greater contentment, satisfaction and happiness with that preferred world.
Ergo, the individual attempts to create a world where he is most content.

6. Actions attempt to create a more desirable world.
7. A more desirable world is one in which the individual is more content.
Conclusion: Every conscious action is intended to produce happiness.

I think, or at least I hope, that you will find this argument difficult to refute. It is my understanding that its refutation would consist of proving that an individual would consciously perform an action he does not want to do, which seems paradoxical. The example of a man told to either cut off his finger or die is not confounding: he still has control over his conscious actions, and he chooses to avoid death by cutting off his own finger.

Joel Feinberg

To my understanding, Joel Feinberg commits the equivocation fallacy, i.e. he uses one word but two meanings of that word, specifically 'satisfaction'. [2] Satisfaction is being used to refer both to ‘contentment’ as a mental state and ‘fulfilment’ of criteria. Also, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with tautologies, ‘All ravens are ravens’, and all that. [3]

You’ve got me with the whole ‘If A, then B’; I really don’t understand. I apologise.

Meaningless Statements

I believe all of those statement regarding penguins are false, because they do not describe what is the case. If something describes what is the case, it is true, if not, then it is false. If something fails to attempt to describe what is the case, then it is meaningless (and also false).

Saying ‘It is the case that the penguins in this room are male’ is false if there are no penguins in the room, provided that the discussion is framed in reality. Saying ‘Gandalf has a long beard’ is true, because it is understood that Gandalf is a fictional character.

‘It is the case that the objectively existing penguins in this room are male’ – clearly, they fail to objectively exist.

‘It is the case that the Gandalf depicted in The Lord of the Rings has a long beard’ – true! [4]

The Martyr and Induction

Now, I am aware of the problem of induction. Hume proved very satisfactorily that inductive reasoning cannot be relied upon with the certainty. [5] I, however, put forward a deductive explanation of the actions of the martyr, so until that argument is refuted the discussion of induction is irrelevant, and we know that deductive reasoning can justify definite conclusions. [6]

Egoism vs. Altriusm

It may seem ridiculous to suggest that the solider who jumped on the grenade is acting in 'self-interest'. Indeed, I do not advocate that humans are purely 'selfish' creatures.

Now, when an individual helps another, that one individiual is concerned for the well-being of the other. It is the helper as well as the sufferer who expresses discontent with with the situation of the sufferer, and so we can see that in some sense, it is 'egoistic', as the invidual is personally punished for not helping, and he helps in order to become more content. The reason I have been hesitating in using these terms is that I do not think it shows any lack of altruism.

As confusing as statement as that may be, I believe it is easily explained and understood. The atruistic individual shares the discontent of the sufferer through empathy, and so becomes motivated to help in a way that means that they are seeking their own contentment - but their expected happiness gained from helping is entirely predicated upon the happiness of the person they are helping. People are selfish, in that they will only do what (they believe) will bring them the greatest happiness, but through empathy their happiness can be dependent upon their actions bringing happiness to others, and in this way I do not feel I am claiming that all humans are selfish. I am actually claiming that we are such kind beings that the suffering of others can influence us to personally desire their relief.

I am unfamiliar with the technical vocabulary of this issue, so please assist me if I have apparently conceded this entire issue or made some other unintentionally outlandish statement though my ignorance.




[1] http://www.uri.edu...
[2] http://www.fallacyfiles.org...
[3] http://www.philosophy-index.com...
[4] http://lotr.wikia.com...
[5] http://plato.stanford.edu...
[6] http://www.brown.edu...
Dragonfang

Con

I shall begin my rebuttul. I need to undermine that all concious actions are intended to bring happiness.




If we ask ‘what motivates an action?’ we must also ask ‘what constitutes motivation?’. Let us hear from Jeremy Bentham:


"Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure." – Jeremy Bentham

I disagree. There are other motivations like duty for example. Receiving pleasure from many activities by-product does not imply pleasure is the motivation for these activities.



1. Conscious actions are motivated by desires.

True, but they depend on the interruptions as one can go against his self-benefit or the desires the person really wants for the greater good.

2. Performing an action results in a different world than if a different action had been performed.
Ergo, conscious actions attempt to create a more desirable world

Desirable for who? For self or others? That is the crucial question. Thus, it begs the question as it requires as much evidence as the conclusion.

3. In acting, an individual recognises that the result of the action is intended to produce the most desirable world that could possibly be generated from the options the individual perceives

Again, desirable for who? You need to prove that statement. Does a person plan and ponder about the results consciously? True, it can apply for probably any action we can think of, but that is affirming the consequence.

1- To produce happiness for one's self an action must be made.
2- Actions are made.
3- Therefore, they are to produce happiness to one's self.


Also, you are confusing the consequence with the intention. Just because obeying the law can bring self interest doesn't mean we obey it for the intention of our benefit.


4. The individual thereby approves most of the intended world than any other the individual can conceive possible

I don't really understand this point. Just because an action changes the world doesn't mean the result is intended or expected.

5. If an individual approves of one world more than another, then that individual is expressing greater contentment, satisfaction and happiness with that preferred world.
Ergo, the individual attempts to create a world where he is most content.

Or where others are most content.
If you believe that someone wants to gain happiness by bringing happiness to others, that means one's happiness is connected to other's happiness, thus are not selfish.
Why did we grow such values that hinder our potential for happiness?

Even if an actions may bring happiness, that is not the intention, that is an indirect effect. This debate is about intentions, I could simply argue that some actions bring dissatisfaction.

6. Actions attempt to create a more desirable world.

Action don't attempt. They do.
A person may or may not think of the consequences.

7. A more desirable world is one in which the individual is more content.
Conclusion: Every conscious action is intended to produce happiness.


False as you made a false equivalence between possible consequences and possible desires.



To my understanding, Joel Feinberg commits the equivocation fallacy, i.e. he uses one word but two meanings of that word, specifically 'satisfaction'. [2] Satisfaction is being used to refer both to ‘contentment’ as a mental state and ‘fulfilment’ of criteria. Also, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with tautologies, ‘All ravens are ravens’, and all that. [3]

From my understanding, he only refereed to the fulfillment of criteria, not that we feel satisfaction. Also, you didn't deny the existence of tautology. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with tautology, but there is nothing right at all either. Tautology do not prove or disprove anything. Therefore they are simply useless, and arguably a waste of time.



The "A, the B" argument is related to meaningless statements.



Meaningless Statements

I believe all of those statement regarding penguins are false, because they do not describe what is the case. If something describes what is the case, it is true, if not, then it is false. If something fails to attempt to describe what is the case, then it is meaningless (and also false).

Saying ‘It is the case that the penguins in this room are male’ is false if there are no penguins in the room, provided that the discussion is framed in reality. Saying ‘Gandalf has a long beard’ is true, because it is understood that Gandalf is a fictional character.

‘It is the case that the objectively existing penguins in this room are male’ – clearly, they fail to objectively exist.

‘It is the case that the Gandalf depicted in The Lord of the Rings has a long beard’ – true!

Interesting. So you claim that you have proof that every single intention ever is aimed toward happiness with a way to test that?
Penguins can potentially exist in the room, selfish intentions can potentially exist. You need to prove they exist in all actions. However, empirical evidence does not exist, and induction ain't gonna cut it. Thus, you need to prove it philosophically. They do not have to exist, thus your resolution is false because there are potentially other intentions. That is my point.



Egoism vs. Altriusm

It may seem ridiculous to suggest that the solider who jumped on the grenade is acting in 'self-interest'. Indeed, I do not advocate that humans are purely 'selfish' creatures.

Is that a concession? Not all actions are intended to produce happiness for the individual performing the action? They can be intended to produce happiness for others and happiness for self is by-product?


Now, when an individual helps another, that one individiual is concerned for the well-being of the other. It is the helper as well as the sufferer who expresses discontent with with the situation of the sufferer, and so we can see that in some sense, it is 'egoistic', as the invidual is
personally punished for not helping, and he helps in order to become more content. The reason I have been hesitating in using these terms is that I do not think it shows any lack of altruism.


You assume that all people are afraid of being attacked by their conscious for not helping people, and that when they decide an action they go: "Oh no! I need to help them! I won't be able to sleep that way!" and ignore "We are all equal, it is the right thing to do".
We are talking about the motivation of conscious action. Either way, it is impossible to disprove an action that does not have happiness in mind happened, unless you prove such an action is impossible to exist.



As confusing as statement as that may be, I believe it is easily explained and understood. The atruistic individual shares the discontent of the sufferer through empathy, and so becomes motivated to help in a way that means that they are seeking their own contentment - but their expected happiness gained from helping is entirely predicated upon the happiness of the person they are helping. People are selfish, in that they will only do what (they believe) will bring them the greatest happiness, but through empathy their happiness can be dependent upon their actions bringing happiness to others, and in this way I do not feel I am claiming that all humans are selfish. I am actually claiming that we are such kind beings that the suffering of others can influence us to personally desire their relief.


That is the result of a an action. That doesn't mean they are motivated by lust for happiness.

Let me give you a puzzle: (1)
Lets say a man have to pay 25$ for a life insurance policy every month. Lets argue he can't leave his family high and dry if he dies. Then lets assume there is a pill that can give you comfort and happiness equal or better than what you would get from paying the insurance. What would a normal person do?

1- Take the pill and get comfort while saving 25$ per month?
2- Pay 25$ per month and get comfort?

What do you expect a normal person would do? The first option definitely brings more happiness.


(1) http://philochristos.blogspot.ae...
Debate Round No. 2
Wocambs

Pro


I actually adapted Bentham's statement. Duty would be a 'reason to do something'.

Premise 1

You either accept this premise, or you deny that conscious actions can be ‘freely-willed’, and that seems like a contradiction.

Premise 2

Desirable for the self, which may include considerations of others, for it is ultimately my desires which control my actions, otherwise I am not in control of those actions. Would you not agree?

Premise 3

Again, the self, for the reason previously stated. You seem to be inventing an argument there; I did not use that justification. People may be so incredibly lazy that they only bother to think of one possible world, but still, if that is the only world they are considering it must therefore be the most desirable one they thought of. If they thought of a more desirable world, the only reason for not pursuing the action to create that world would be that it was impossible or required too much work (which actually just makes it less desirable, as that world includes much work, which they do not desire), or their desires would not be controlling their actions.

Premise 4

A conscious action requires a desire behind it, and therefore an intended consequence is always entailed by the action (satisfying the desire).

Premise 5

I never said we were selfish, because that would mean we do not care about each other. We do; in fact, we may desire their happiness. How does it hinder my happiness to have empathy, exactly? If I lack empathy I cannot bask in the happiness of others.

Would I donate to an HIV charity if I believed that people with HIV should be exterminated? Perhaps, but only if there was some other reason to donate, e.g. improving one’s personal image.

For my position to be invalidated, you would have to show that it is possible for some to consciously perform an action which they do not desire to do. It’s simply not possible.

Premise 6

They are attempts in that they are attempts to bring about the intended (and desired) consequences. If all conscious actions are motivated by desires then obviously a consequence must be intended – the satisfaction of that desire, as I previously stated.

Conclusion

What? I shall reiterate: the only consequences I am considering are the intended ones. The real consequences of actions are immaterial to this debate.

Tautologies

Tautologies prove nothing? ‘All ravens are ravens’ proves that the statement ‘Not all ravens are ravens’ is false. If 'All conscious actions intend to produce happiness' is a truism, so be it; my position is validated.

Meaningless Statements, Deduction and Induction

There is a difference between being selfish, which is not considering the happiness of others, and doing what you desire to do, which may include attempting to bring about the happiness of others.

I am not trying to inductively prove anything; I am deductively proving it, hence the deductive argument above. If my argument is correct, then my proposition is vindicated.

Egoism vs. Altruism

It’s only a concession if you’re trying to misrepresent my position. Sometimes it is the case that the most desirable world is one where you have acted to bring happiness to others – but that is subordinate to producing the most desirable world, and I believe I have established that bringing about the most desirable world for an individual entails the intention of the most happiness for that individual.

“We are all equal, it is the right thing to do"

Do I need to explain this psychology? You’ve already told me that no matter how many explanations of individual examples I give I won’t have proved anything. Anyway: clearly the individual thinking this is desiring happiness for others, or desiring to be a moral person... or anything really, so long as they are his desires. He is not being possessed and robbed of self-control by the suffering of others.

Life Insurance Puzzle

I would hope that the average individual would choose the second option. Why do you ask?
Dragonfang

Con

My opponent enforced the notion that his argument is a confusion between intention and consequences, and an equalization between desire and happiness.


Premise 1

You either accept this premise, or you deny that conscious actions can be ‘freely-willed’, and that seems like a contradiction.

Read carefully. I have already accepted the premise, I am only making it clear that the word "Desire" is vast beyond and one can desire something against his own happiness. Happiness and desire are different words.


Premise 2

Desirable for the self, which may include considerations of others, for it is ultimately my desires which control my actions, otherwise I am not in control of those actions. Would you not agree?


Haha. Knew from the vagueness of the first premise that you were cooking up some fallacies. So you are claiming that desires not made to benefit the self cannot exist. Aaaand, we are back to square one.
Again, desires ≠ happiness. Just because someone went to practice doesn't mean he went there lusting for the psychological benefit. If there was any then it is a by product.




Premise 3

Again, the self, for the reason previously stated. You seem to be inventing an argument there; I did not use that justification. People may be so incredibly lazy that they only bother to think of one possible world, but still, if that is the only world they are considering it must therefore be the most desirable one they thought of. If they thought of a more desirable world, the only reason for not pursuing the action to create that world would be that it was impossible or required too much work (which actually just makes it less desirable, as that world includes much work, which they do not desire), or their desires would not be controlling their actions.

You are just confirming my simplification of the argument and stashing the confirmation in a strawman. I did not ask about people picking a possible world, I asked if they are to base their possible world on the one that brings them the most happiness. You seem to assume that there is no motivation but happiness, but you are yet to prove this claim. Do people not decide to to take an action that is against their happiness?



Premise 4

A conscious action requires a desire behind it, and therefore an intended consequence is always entailed by the action (satisfying the desire).

A desire may or may not bring satisfaction to self. That is a result. We are talking about intention.



Premise 5

I never said we were selfish, because that would mean we do not care about each other. We do; in fact, we may desire their happiness. How does it hinder my happiness to have empathy, exactly? If I lack empathy I cannot bask in the happiness of others.

Would I donate to an HIV charity if I believed that people with HIV should be exterminated? Perhaps, but only if there was some other reason to donate, e.g. improving one’s personal image.

For my position to be invalidated, you would have to show that it is possible for some to consciously perform an action which they do not desire to do. It’s simply not possible.

Then our actions are not intended to produce happiness for self. Some actions are intended to produce happiness for others, this may or may not result in self-happiness. I will quote Niet on this one:


Pity stands opposed to the tonic emotions which heighten our vitality: it has a depressing effect. We are deprived of strength when we feel pity. That loss of strength which suffering as such inflicts on life is still further increased and multiplied by pity. Pity makes suffering contagious. -Friedrich Nietzsche (1)

If we are to seek our happiness why do we care about others when this would stands an obstacle to greater happiness? This is contradictory.

Also, pretty interesting to challenge me to prove a point considering that the burden of proof is on you. As for your challenge, it is indeed impossible by definition. However, I shall address the topic of this debate. People can intend and preform actions, say sacrifices, that serves other people or goals which undermines their own happiness, they may or may not gain satisfaction, but they don't care about that as they believe that this is the right thing to do, even if they desire something they hate. I don't even have to give examples, the idea is logical, it is coherent, therefore it is possible, and that contradicts your resolution.



Premise 6

They are attempts in that they are attempts to bring about the intended (and desired) consequences. If all conscious actions are motivated by desires then obviously a consequence must be intended – the satisfaction of that desire, as I previously stated.

The conclusions sounds unconnected. First of all, actions are not entities, they are acts of will. Now, what you are saying that whenever someone is motivated by his conscious to do something against self interest he is thinking about self interest which is absurd as you said, not because it is hard to imagine, it is because it is contradictory. The closest thing you can get is to ditch the classification of actions on the basis that they can be selfish and altruistic at the same time, but that would still contradict your resolution.
By satisfaction you mean fulfillment, you seem to have them confused again. "Satisfaction of desires" may or may not come, a person may not expect at. As previously stated, a person can desire something he hates because it is the right thing to do. Please, don't confuse the intention with the consequences.



Conclusion

What? I shall reiterate: the only consequences I am considering are the intended ones. The real consequences of actions are immaterial to this debate.

And one may intend something other than happiness. Like intending to donate, or intend to finish the exam. So yeah, still waiting on you.



Tautologies

Tautologies prove nothing? ‘All ravens are ravens’ proves that the statement ‘Not all ravens are ravens’ is false. If 'All conscious actions intend to produce happiness' is a truism, so be it; my position is validated.

It is a rare thing to find someone defending tautology. Seriously, what is this? Pre-school logic? You actually believe begging the question is valid argument to justify a claim? Wow. And that isn't even an example of a circular argument. That is a circular definition that adds nothing new (A red car is red) (2), and a self-refuting statement. Really? Using semantics on your claim and using your claim as an evidence? You can't assume something is true, you have to PROVE it. If that is your position then so be it.


A: I am con, therefore I win the debate.
B: Why should you win the debate?
A: Duh! Because I am con.
B: Why are you con?
A: Because I am the winner, whats up with the stupid questions?

Guess I won the debate.





Egoism vs. Altruism

I will spare it for character space since it is simply a distorted definition of desire once again.


Life Insurance Puzzle

I would hope that the average individual would choose the second option. Why do you ask?

That is a concession. Why wouldn't anyone seek their happiness, which is more money + more comfort? That is a concession that other motivations exists.



(1) http://www.infidels.org...
(2) http://www.philosophypages.com...
Debate Round No. 3
Wocambs

Pro

Dragonfang is a sophist, and merely shouts 'logical fallacy!' or 'no, you're wrong!' at every argument I produce. Furthermore, he seems intent on trying to aggravate me, but I shall be patient...

Consequences, for this debate, are the intended consequences. I don't know how many times I have to repeat that until you understand.Now, here is the critical point: I am not conflating happiness with desire explicity, I am saying it is implicit. What you desire the most is what you most approve of.

Dragonfang is essentially debating against a misrepresentation of my argument. What I propose is that whatever we desire, we must approve of. Let us take the example of money.

He thinks I propose this: 'An individual does not desire money, he desires the happiness it brings'

Wrong.

What I propose is: 'An individual desires money in itself; however, for him to do this, he must intend to approve of and appreciate money, and so happiness is always implicit'.

If happiness is an implicit intention of all behaviour, then I am correct.

Premise 1

You accept. Good. I win.

Premise 2

Has it escaped your notice that your 'refutations' consist of insisting that we do not desire happiness?

W: You cannot desire most what you do not most approve of
D: Nope, you can.
W: But I have shown that it logically follows...
D: No, it's just not true.
Your refutation here is furthermore based upon the misrepresentation I outlined above.

Premise 3

You must accept that people always choose the most desirable world (conceivable to be brought about by their behaviour), or otherwise they would be doing what they did not desire to, which contradicts the idea that we are in control of conscious behaviour, which contradicts 'conscious behaviour'.

Premise 4

Behaviour does not have to satisfy the desires motivating it, but it INTENDS to.

Premise 5

"Some actions are intended to produce happiness for others"

Yep, and my proposal takes account of this. You will find a person will behave with the intention of bringing other people happiness, but only when that person APPROVES of that intended result, and so intends to find happiness. Does that not make immediate sense to you?

"People can intend and preform actions, say sacrifices, that serves other people or goals which undermines their own happiness, they may or may not gain satisfaction, but they don't care about that as they believe that this is the right thing to do, even if they desire something they hate."

According to you, people do not control their behaviour, rather they are possessed by some godly power which forces them to act in a certain way. Is this idea logical or coherent, considering that we are discussing behaviour controlled by the individual?

If you accept that we act as we most desire to (within the constraints of the situation and the individual's perception) then we act to create the 'state of affairs' we approve the most of. How would it be possible to find something 'the most desirable' yet approve of another possible world more?

Premise 6

Wrong. I am saying that whatever they desire, be it self-interest or not, they must approve of it, and so they must intend to derive happiness from it (implicitly).

Conclusion

We can desire whatever we want, but ultimately we must approve of whatever world is brought about by that behaviour.

Tautologies

Are you saying that not all ravens are ravens? This is irrelevant anyway.

Life Insurance Puzzle

More money does not mean more happiness, and it is the individual who decides what is more comforting, not you.

Selfishness

If 'selfish' is said to describe 'acting according to one's own preference', then I must agree (all humans are selfish); however, I find that definition entirely misleading. If we define 'selfish' as 'uncaring towards the happiness of others', then there is no such issue, and I find this approach far more satisfying. In the world entailed by the initial definition of 'selfish', the 'selfless' soldier who sacrificed himself did so against his will; he felt a powerful compulsion to dive upon the grenade, and no amount of hatred at what he was doing could enable him to resist that compulsion. Consider now what I propose: the soldier decided in a split-second that the lives of his friends were of such great importance to him that he would ensure their survival even if it meant his death. Of course, while that psychology is only one possibility, and that it is possible to think of less admirable reasons for the sacrifice, my definition of 'selfish' is both more pleasing and more accurate. According to me, the selfless person finds the happiness of others of great importance to himself, and intends to derive happiness from his charity; to those who would disagree with the content of my argument a selfless person is someone who acts against his own preferences and intends to derive no happiness from helping others. Not only is the latter view discordant with our understanding of how an individual controls his own behaviour, it even seems to make 'selfless' behaviour unworthy of respect, for charity is grudgingly given.

So, I contend that you're the one proposing that human beings do not deserve to be commended for selfless behaviour, not me.
Dragonfang

Con

Dragonfang is a sophist, and merely shouts 'logical fallacy!' or 'no, you're wrong!' at every argument I produce. Furthermore, he seems intent on trying to aggravate me, but I shall be patient...

Ouch... An Ad Homenim attack. Look, all the pointers toward fallacies merely shows that these were incompetent arguments. You are blaming me for the inadequacy of your arguments. The quantaty is irrelevant, what matters is the legitimacy. Seriously, pointing out the faults of the opposing arguments is the point of debates. Heck, you criticized my counter-arguments just now.



Consequences, for this debate, are the intended consequences. I don't know how many times I have to repeat that until you understand.Now, here is the critical point: I am not conflating happiness with desire explicity, I am saying it is implicit. What you desire the most is what you most approve of.

Dragonfang is essentially debating against a misrepresentation of my argument. What I propose is that whatever we desire, we must approve of. Let us take the example of money.

He thinks I propose this: 'An individual does not desire money, he desires the happiness it brings'

Wrong.

What I propose is: 'An individual desires money in itself; however, for him to do this, he must intend to approve of and appreciate money, and so happiness is always implicit'.

If happiness is an implicit intention of all behaviour, then I am correct.


I am getting a bit dizzy from all the switching of the goal post. I mean when you conflate desire and happiness implicitly (Sneakly)... Aren't you still conflating the two terms? It doesn't matter whether it is explicitly or non-explicitly, they are different words with different meanings. Meaning that you need to prove that the desire is always happiness without circular reasoning.

I don't see the connection in your premises and conclusion. if anything it is more circular reasoning. You are saying that anything approved of is always approved for the sake of self-happiness, the same stuff we were discussing.
Again, wanting something doesn't mean you want happiness as it is very possible to want something that is against self-happiness.




Premise 1

You accept. Good. I win.


Haha!
Circular logic everyone. Premise #1 = Conclusion.

Of course, begging the question is not a valid argument. So your argument is ruined from the start.



Premise 2

Has it escaped your notice that your 'refutations' consist of insisting that we do not desire happiness?

*Cut for character limit, read above*


What kind of strawman is that? You are accusing me of doing the opposite of what you are doing. If I recall right, I said that we are able to not desire happiness, like I said from the beginning? People can easily do things based on upholding many other values knowing or not caring that they will be less happy doing a certain decision. Self sacrifice CAN exist? Well, it was your job to prove that it can't.

That conversation is funny. Not because I never challenged these statements, because these statements have nothing to do with your resolution. Assuming certain words are equivalent to happiness will not change the meaning of these words.
Even if your definitions were somehow found in a weird dictionary, I did not agree to use these definitions. Therefore, I am not entitled to accept them.



Premise 3

You must accept that people always choose the most desirable world (conceivable to be brought about by their behaviour), or otherwise they would be doing what they did not desire to, which contradicts the idea that we are in control of conscious behaviour, which contradicts 'conscious behaviour'.


Fine, I accept. I desire a world where I am miserable for the price of everyone else being happy.



Premise 4

Behaviour does not have to satisfy the desires motivating it, but it INTENDS to.

A bit confused here. What if the desire INTENDED to have no chance of bringing happiness to self? Again, I talked about the semantics here, you are equivalating fulfillment with satisfaction. You can fulfil a desire that brings no satisfaction to self.


Premise 5

"Some actions are intended to produce happiness for others"

Yep, and my proposal takes account of this. You will find a person will behave with the intention of bringing other people happiness, but only when that person APPROVES of that intended result, and so intends to find happiness. Does that not make immediate sense to you?


Only if the meaning of approval was changed to happiness for an unknown reason. But even so, it would be contradictory and awkward when someone approves of something that brings him less happiness.

"People can intend and preform actions, say sacrifices, that serves other people or goals which undermines their own happiness, they may or may not gain satisfaction, but they don't care about that as they believe that this is the right thing to do, even if they desire something they hate."

According to you, people do not control their behaviour, rather they are possessed by some godly power which forces them to act in a certain way. Is this idea logical or coherent, considering that we are discussing behaviour controlled by the individual?

If you accept that we act as we most desire to (within the constraints of the situation and the individual's perception) then we act to create the 'state of affairs' we approve the most of. How would it be possible to find something 'the most desirable' yet approve of another possible world more?

A bit confused again. Doesn't the word "intend" reek with control and choice? Basically, you are saying that a true sacrifice requires demonic possession or a similar experience, and that we can never desire such dreadful thing that doesn't benefit us.
The only thing I am going to say about that is: "Huh?".




Premise 6

Wrong. I am saying that whatever they desire, be it self-interest or not, they must approve of it, and so they must intend to derive happiness from it (implicitly).


A concession. So we can desire something that does not benefit us, and self evidently, intended for something other than happiness.
The assumption that what is approved of brings us happiness is not approved.



Conclusion

We can desire whatever we want, but ultimately we must approve of whatever world is brought about by that behaviour.

And if we desire something that favors other's happiness over self?
My opponent did not show that it is impossible to desire something that is against self-happiness.




Tautologies

Are you saying that not all ravens are ravens? This is irrelevant anyway.


That part was the most surprising for me. My opponent did not retract his support for circular reasoning or show why his argument is not circular reasoning. He constructed a strawman and called the whole thing irrelevant.
I already said what "All ravens are ravens" is; A circular definition, which can be laughed at in dictionaries.
If my opponent's resolution is based on circular reasoning, then the whole thing's invalid in a logical argument.



Life Insurance Puzzle

More money does not mean more happiness, and it is the individual who decides what is more comforting, not you.


An other shrug. Guess what? Not wasting money usually means more happiness. Notice that he did not dismiss the possibility, he tried to cover it up with an informal fallacy.
I mean, didn't he say that he'd expect the average individual to take the choice against his resolution?


Selfishness
*Quote cut for character limit*

Or maybe the grenade soldier decided to simply give away his life so others can live an other day and see their families?
Selfishness is caring about self profit even if it damages others. it is possible for a sacrifice to be selfish. it is also possible for it not to be selfish, and this part is what is against your resolution. I believe that your resolution is based on ignoring the latter. Thus, it is flawed.

The last sentence is exactly my opponent's view. Just because you accuse me of it doesn't mean you disagree with it. On a side note, I disagree with it.
Debate Round No. 4
14 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by bsh1 3 years ago
bsh1
If someone reminds me to vote on this tomorrow, I will. Thanks!
Posted by Wocambs 3 years ago
Wocambs
"First, we often do things we do not approve in order to serve a higher goal"

No, because we think that those actions are instrumental in achieving something we do approve of. I wouldn't study for an exam if I didn't think it would have any effect on my result. I do not study for the sake of studying I study for the sake of passing an exam (obviously, I do enjoy studying things I am actually interested in).

"Second, people can do things because they made an obligation, like fulfilling a promise or because they have a duty"

Yet, people break promises and neglect duties, because they care not for 'honour' or whatever it may be. Again, things such as 'promises' and 'duties' are only important to people who approve of them in some way. Sometimes, I decide to keep to my word despite seeing massive benefit in breaking it, simply because I prefer a world in which I am honourable and other people are honourable.

Have you actually bothered to read what I've said? I mean really...

"If we are motivated by self happiness, then why do we feel guilt if we walk past a poor family without donating? It is simply because we are motivated by their happiness."

That's exactly what I said! We disapprove of their unhappiness.
Posted by Dragonfang 3 years ago
Dragonfang
Forgive me for my failure to comprehend flawed philosophy.

You are forgetting two essential problems with the argument of "Approving/Wanting an action":

First, we often do things we do not approve in order to serve a higher goal. e.g. Studying for an exam, going to the dentist, exercising.
People don't often exercise for the sake of exercising. A person can hate exercising, but do so in order to get healthy. The father & kids is a very good example too, I'll get to it in a minute.

Second, people can do things because they made an obligation, like fulfilling a promise or because they have a duty.

The father having to work for his children probably goes within the second category. Wanting to help his children, even if he have to forfeit his own enjoyment, is against selfishness. We can want to do something that is for the happiness of others, even if it hurt's the person's happiness.

The second aspect is what we feel after doing an action. But lets think about. If we are motivated by self happiness, then why do we feel guilt if we walk past a poor family without donating? It is simply because we are motivated by their happiness.
To derive happiness from practicing, you must have the desire to improve. To derive desire from something we don't approve of, we must have a higher end. Now, the same thing goes for being altruistic. To derive happiness from being altruistic, we must first have the desire to help others.
Being altruistic is something in human nature. We can desire it even if it is against our interest. We are motivated by the happiness of others. So the resolution that we are always motivated by our self-happiness is flawed.
Posted by Wocambs 3 years ago
Wocambs
Perhaps flipping a coin was not a sound strategy for finding an opponent. You have the debating style of a fourteen year old with a limited capacity to understand. Voters, should there be any, should probably ignore this for judging the debate... this is just for discussion.

Why do some people work, when they hate it? Perhaps they want to feed their children. This is an example of what we would call 'self-sacrifice'.

However, it is obvious to me that the man believes that he is happier in a world where he must work, but he has children, than a world in which he does not have to work but his children have died or are dying of starvation. Why? Because his appreciation of his children is greater than his hatred of work (or, I suppose he could be punished for letting his children starve).

If you think I'm wrongly conflating 'approval / appreciation' with 'happiness', just try imagining someone who hates absolutely everything, even himself. Every moment of his existence is abhorrent to him. Is this absolutely disapproving man happy, or unhappy? He is unhappy.

Now imagine a man who feels a great appreciation for every experience he has in life; he loves every moment of his existence. Is he happy, or unhappy? He is happy.

To further illustrate, let us imagine someone who has money, fame, talent, love and friendship. This person is Kurt Cobain. He killed himself because he couldn't appreciate what he had.

Now imagine a man who is a poor, friendless vagrant. However, he is a perfect stoic, and cares not for the misfortune of the world. He is indifferent to his apparent 'suffering', and hence negates it.

Approval is subjective, and approval is happiness.
Posted by Wocambs 3 years ago
Wocambs
I predict that voters won't read the whole debate and so will conclude that my argument is based on naturalistic fallacies.
Posted by Wocambs 3 years ago
Wocambs
2-D (heads) vs. DT (tails) = Heads

2-D (heads) vs. Dragonfang (tails) = Tails

Dragonfang got the advantage for being the first.
Posted by Dragonfang 3 years ago
Dragonfang
Technically, I am the only person who accepted the challenge.
DT accidently (From the context) used the word "My" instead of "Your". Thus, may imply that he accepted his own challenge.
The OP did not stretch his criteria yet.

First come. first serve?
Posted by 2-D 3 years ago
2-D
Great topic, ready to debate if you'll stretch your criteria.
Posted by DT 3 years ago
DT
Please I accept my challenge.

Consider these arguments -

* You can consciously make the decision to temporarily stop your own breathing or to resist closing your eyes for no apparent reason whatsoever. It obviously doesn't make you happy.

* In some Asian culture, the purpose of life is the pursuit of "neutrality". One tries to eradicate suffering to achieve "balance" but not necessarily towards pleasure or happiness.

* While humans exhibit consciousness and intelligence, we are also emotional and exhibit irrationality. We retain animal extincts that cause us to consciously do things that are not necessarily in the pursuit of happiness not even in the aid of survival but are mere side-effects of oudated socio-cultural and biological forces. Will not give examples yet ;)
Posted by Dragonfang 3 years ago
Dragonfang
I accept.
No votes have been placed for this debate.