The Instigator
nunquam.redono
Pro (for)
Winning
9 Points
The Contender
WarrenV
Con (against)
Losing
3 Points

Every human action is motivated by self interest

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 5 votes the winner is...
nunquam.redono
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/23/2011 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 7,432 times Debate No: 18441
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (11)
Votes (5)

 

nunquam.redono

Pro

Every single thing we do seeks our own well-being , or what we see as our own well-being . We give money to a beggar for our very own interest , we go to war and die for our country for our own interest(I will explain those 2 later on) , there is not a single action we do that has another goal then our own well-being .

"our own interest" or "well-being" can be divided into 3 categories :

-the REAL interest/well-being ( we go to school so we can have a better life later on , we are aware of it and it`s a REAL interest , going to school do helps our well-being)

-the UNCONSCIOUS interest/well-being (you give money to a beggar because you seek your own selfish interest , although you are not aware of it . Being kind is something almost every society and every human being appreciates . When we give money to that beggar that`s what we involuntary seek , we want to believe that we posses a quality appreciated by everyone. It makes us feel better inside , we trick ourselves into believing we are what most of our societies define as a "good" human being)

-the UNREAL/IMAGINARY/FAKE interest/well-being (Your country is at war and you voluntary join the army to help your nation , knowing you might die . Now this is an interesting situation . You join the army because you want recognition , most of the time without you even being aware of that .Everybody loves , appreciates , and respects someone who fights for his nation , for his friends or family . Plus you get to see yourself as a brave person ,you get to be proud of yourself and all these things do make you feel good . These are the reasons that get you into going to war , call it the "hero" complex . Just like in the "beggar case" , you are`t always aware of them , they are hidden in your subconscious and sometimes are disguised as "patriotism" or other feelings.Deep down there your subconscious thinks going to war is in your own interest , it`s for your own well-being , but this time he is wrong , obviously . As you might imagine being dead can`t do you much good and it`s pretty much the opposite of your own well-being )

The subconscious can create intermediate stages(or life/society/education...etc....) to make you do certain things for your own good . Take "compassion" and put it in the "beggar example". It`s the link .

Well , prove me wrong !
PS>. I am more interested into finding out if I am right or wrong that I am into winning or losing .
WarrenV

Con

First of all, Thank you for creating such a thought provoking - This will be interesting :)

Next, My first point. You state in the 'Real interest' paragraph, that we go to school for our own well-being? This is entirely incorrect, Children/Teenagers are forced into going to school - it is law that they have to go, or their parents will be fined. It is not in self-interest to go to school, If most teenagers had the option of going to school they would definitely decline, simply because school is 'boring' or 'tedious'.

But, that was a hypothetical situation - let's take real society. Teenagers are required by law to go to school (or be home schooled) Correct? 95% of them will only go to school because 1. They are forced by the government 2. They are forced by their parents, parents are fined if their child is not attending school (That's how it works in the UK , not sure about USA). So if a teenager/child is told this - it would make them think twice about skipping school, I'm pretty sure they don't want their parents in trouble or being fined. Let me repeat that... their PARENTS in trouble or fined.

It is not the well-being of theirselves they are concerned about in this situation, it is the well-being of their parents they are worried about. (I realize this isn't the case for teenagers who skip school constantly, and don't pay attention to parents, relatives, government etc. - but this is only a small minority).

Next, the 'beggar situation'. I think it's incredibly unfair for you to state that we only give money to homeless people, so we can feel better about ourselves, belong with society and not seem rude. The first weakness is 'To fit in with society'. Society has changed completely over the last 50 - 100 years - there is not '1 way to behave' in society. For example, years ago - it would be very offensive to insult Christianity in films / tv shows, now...it's done constantly. The same with beggars, people were usually generous and would give lots to homeless people to help them 'back on their feet' but now - we decide it ourselves. Giving a beggar money, may just be because you have spare change. It may be because someone told you to, or a number of different reasons.

It won't usually be for your well-being especially if you are religious, it would be the way you have been taught to act (or learnt to act) - Religious people don't give then expect happiness or something else in return, they give because that's what they're accustomed to.

My final point for this round. Let's use the example of people in the army/military. They don't join simply because they want to be loved by people and their nation, they do it to protect their country. Fighting for a country, isn't well-being or self-interest, it's about protecting or 'saving' the world from too much bloodshed and violence (Yes, I realise it's fight violence with violence, but the overall outcome is better - I mean look, Bin Laden is dead). If anyone joins the army in order to gain love and respect from several million people - that's just incredibly vain (I think that's the right choice of word) - You shouldn't be fighting in order to get love? There's 100's of other ways to gain love and respect from people, they should go find some other ways of doing it.

Overall, I'll end this round with an example. Let's take the beggar again (such a good example) - Let's say I stop and give this beggar money, not like..walk past...feel guilty then run back. I would Just put money in naturally. I don't do this in order to make me feel better about myself or to fit in with society - I do it so the beggar has a better life and can afford to buy food / clothing, etc. I may feel happy afterwards if I saw the beggar get a job in the future - but this happiness is simply an after-effect of me helping the beggar. I didn't help the beggar so I would feel better, I did it because I cared about the well-being of OTHER people.

I look forward to your next argument :)
Debate Round No. 1
nunquam.redono

Pro

Thank you for taking this debate . It`s a very complicated subject . Not something easy to argue , pro or con . Also I must say this is my very first debate .

I will start with the school example and prove you that either if they go willingly , or don't go willingly , or even if they don`t go to school at all they still seek what they see as their own interest .
We must split the students into 2 groups . The ones that understand what school means and the benefits it provides and the ones who don`t understand or who understand but still do not attend to it .

The first group would fit into the "real interest" paragraph . I guess we agree on that .

For the second group we assume that they are the ones who would prefer not to go to school . you stated that one of the reasons is because they find it boring . Being bored is not something any human being desires , its unpleasant and not something of interest , not something they see as "well-being" . So if you don't get that school is for your own interest of course you will not attend to it if you had the choice . Because your mind thinks its rather bad for you .
Yet , a lot of the students from the second group still go to school . You said they do it so their parents would not be fined . You made this sound as an altruist action...the kid doesn't like it but still does it for the sake of his parents . Well , this is fake . They don't really care if their parents get fined or not , they care about what will happen if their parents get fined . Because it would be bad for them . Even if the parent would not inflict any harm on the kid for getting him fined , I don't think the kid would feel well . He will feel that he inflicted harm on his parents , something seen as "bad" by the society . In conclusion , the kid would feel bad . Feeling bad is against his own well being .
To end this , I agree that some kids don't care at all about these things and simply don't go to school . They don`t perceive getting their parents fined as something bad so they don't feel bad about it .Own well-being not affected . So they just follow whatever they feel like , probably some "unreal/fake interest" .

Next the beggar case . You stated few reasons why people would give money to beggars without seeking their own interest . Lets take them step by step :

1."It may be because someone told you to" - You don't do something a random person tells you to . Only
if that someone is an authority or has some sort of influence on you , they will either force you to do it or convince you to , and not doing it would mean some sort of "retribution" , or "harming effect" on you (spiritual , moral...etc. not necessarily physical) . So you seek your own well-being and do it .

2."Religious people don't give then expect happiness or something else in return, they give because that's what they're accustomed to." - let me ask you something , why is a religious man respecting the word of god(whoever he might be) ?
Two reasons : divine retribution or divine reward . Hell or heaven . You respect the 10 commandments because god is real in your mind . And by respecting the 10 commandments you think you seek your own well-being , since you believe you will end up in heaven . Its "fake interest" if you help a beggar because of your religion.

Next , to the army example :
"You shouldn't be fighting in order to get love? There's 100's of other ways to gain love and respect from people, they should go find some other ways of doing it."
Reality is something we all see differently , it`s relative . And that`s how some people see it ,how their subconscious sees , they see fighting for their country as something full of honor , as something wonderful . And overall it makes them feel good , even dying for it . They feel they are accomplishing something . So , aware or not , they actually seek what they see as their own well-being . Again just "fake interest".

And for your final point :
"I didn't help the beggar so I would feel better, I did it because I cared about the well-being of OTHER people." - I will prove you this wrong in a different way . If there would be a capital punishment for giving money to beggars would you still help that guy ? You would not , your own well being is what matters most.(unless you see this as a surrogate for the "army" example , I that case you would probably go for it and die)

PS. English is not my first language . I`m sorry if I make any mistakes . It`s hard to express such a twisted philosophical opinion in any other language but your native one .
WarrenV

Con

Thank you for posting a challenging response, I also agree that this is a very difficult topic to debate over -Philosophical debates are always thought-provoking.

Firstly, I must criticize/criticise the point you made about the school children. You say, "Even if the parent would not inflict any harm on the kid for getting him fined , I don't think the kid would feel well . He will feel that he inflicted harm on his parents , something seen as "bad" by the society . In conclusion , the kid would feel bad". My first contradiction about that quote is 'something seen as bad by society' - Society has constantly been changing for thousands of years (Unless you worship 'Zeus' or 'Aphrodite', you've definitely evolved with society) there is very little idea on what is right and wrong in society, in the 21st century. For example, Teenagers would have had A LOT of respect for their elders in the 1900's, now they consider old people 'Boring' or 'Geezers' (Best words to use without cursing), and along with this, the boundary between teens and their parents is literally vanishing.

Many teenagers aren't afraid to stand up to their parents anymore, and some parents even feel threatened by their child - so if we apply this is the statement you explained earlier about 'Inflicting harm on his parents, is seen bad by society' , society has changed too much so that 'rule' on inflicting harm on parents is not stable enough.

Also, due to each person having a completely different personality and a different psychological structure, Your quote: "They don't really care if their parents get fined or not", this can easily be contradicted. A completely reverse effect to my first paragraph, is possible here. Some Teenager could care about their parent "loads", e.g. My mum is like a sister to me :), and the teen may consider it their duty to make sure their PARENTS WELL-BEING is protected in every way possible and this brings us back to the 'fine'. If a teenager loved his parents to the max. then he/she would go to school to protect his parents from being fined, because he cares about THEM too much and wants to protect THEIR WELL-BEING. Nothing to do with his well-being (in this case).

Next, we reach the beggar example (...again). Your point about the religious person helping the beggar, is true and I have no contradiction against that, however when you state "You don't do something a random person tells you to . Only if that someone is an authority or has some sort of influence on you". In that situation before, I wasn't clear about the 'Random person' problem, I was trying to refer to someone that you know e.g. A friend. Consider this: "Your friend just had his/her house nearly 'blown' up and nearly became homeless, if it wasn't for her parents. You and your friend see the beggar and he/she feels sympathetic because she nearly became like the beggar, so she asks YOU to put some money in." You can either A. Not put the money in, upset your friend, then feel guilty and ruin your own well-being, or B. You feel sorry for your friend and realise/realize the trauma she/he went through - so you give the beggar money so your friend doesn't get upset, therefore..caring about HER WELL-BEING.

Out of both those situations, people are most likely to choose option B. aren't they? Proving that you can do something for someone else's well-being not yours.

Right, now let's come up with a new 'analogy'. Someone has died, it could be your friend, a relative or a family member - naturally you would go to a funeral / cremation. Why? You go to show respect to them, even if they're in heaven people will go to a funeral/cremation and read out special messages, drop flowers on a grave etc. To show they cared about the other persons existence = to show they cared about the dead person's WELL-BEING (and still do by attending the funeral).

Finally, this example, will also involve accident/death: Let's say you and another person (complete stranger) have a disease, and there's only 1 medicine left to cure it - you can be incredibly selfish and take the medicine for yourself and let the other person die and suffer in pain > leading to guilt > Showing self-interest when you take the medicine, but no self-interest when you're guilty (the after-effects). Or in the better situation (what most people would do) - you leave the medicine for the complete stranger, and allow him to live because you care about HIS/HER WELL-BEING, you don't consider yours.

You made a very good argument, and I can't wait to hear your argument for the final round!
Debate Round No. 2
nunquam.redono

Pro

I feel as if i stated all my points of view in my previous 2 comments . There is nothing left to add on my side so I would like to end this just by thanking my opponent for a wonderful debate .

If my opponent feels that he has something else to add he is more than welcome to do so .
Again i apologies for my faulty english , as i stated before , it`s not my native language .

If you think my arguments and my points of view are the right ones please vote PRO !
Thank you .
WarrenV

Con

I'd just like to say, thank you to my opponent for such a challenging and philosophical debate.

I to, have nothing to add - I feel I have debated enough / as much as I could in the first 2 rounds, So I really do not have anything to add.

If you vote in this debate, please consider the fact that my opponent was not English / American - when it comes to voting for best grammar, however his grammar and variety of words was definitely varied.

That was a great topic for a first debate, and I hope you vote for my side (CON) !

May the best debater win! :)
Debate Round No. 3
11 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by WaltJunior 2 years ago
WaltJunior
Somebody probably pointed this out, but @WarrenV, or Con, you said that most students only go because they are forced to go. Not all students are dumb enough to not know that without education you really won't broaden your mind, and it will be difficult for you to get anywhere in your life. You also said that 95% of students will only go to school because 1. They are forced by the government 2. They are forced by their parents, parents are fined if their child is not attending school. Where is your statistics coming from ?
Posted by MasturDbtor 5 years ago
MasturDbtor
I do think sometimes people give money to people just to be kind. It's called empathy. People naturally desire good things for other human beings.

But that natural desire is a part of your self, therefore it's still self-interest. You are making a decision to improve your emotions, emotions are part of the self, ergo self-interest.

Conversely, to be productive in society you have to take care of yourself, so all self-interest can also be social interest.

The end result is that for these phrases to be meaningful at all they have to be limited in definition to the moment they are happening in. So since people sometimes give to beggars without thinking about the happy feelings they will get from it later that means people do act outside of self-interest(at least if we are to have a definition of self-interest that does not render the term meaningless).
Posted by nunquam.redono 5 years ago
nunquam.redono
Raisor thanks for the suggestion . I hope i will manage to find the book .
Posted by nunquam.redono 5 years ago
nunquam.redono
F-16_Fighting_Falcon the medicine example fits very well into my "UNREAL interest" paragraph . That`s why i didn`t refute it . Actions can be good or bad , but the motivation behind them will always be self interest .

I found a nice quote from some 9th century arab thinker :

"No one deserves thanks from another about something he has done for him or goodness he has done, he is either willing to get a reward from God, therefore he wanted to serve himself, or he wanted to get a reward from people, therefore, he has done that to get profit for himself, or to be mentioned and praised by people, therefore, to it is also for himself, or due to his mercy and tenderheartedness, so he has simply done that goodness to pacify these feelings and treat himself."

Anyway...WarrenV i hope we will have a chance to debate on something again someday .
Posted by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 5 years ago
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
(cont from RFD) every human action is motivated by self interest. Con's last argument wasn't convincing enough for me because I would certainly keep the medicine for myself, yet he showed that some people might be motivated to give it to the other person. Pro didn't refute and conceded it.

Overall, very interesting. I think most human actions are motivated by self-interest but not EVERY human action which was a big part of the definition that Pro had to prove.
Posted by seraine 5 years ago
seraine
I don't know what I feel on this topic... Also, self interest is a good thing (capitalism ftw)
Posted by Raisor 5 years ago
Raisor
Pro if you are really interested in this topic, see if you can get ahold of the book "What Moves Man." It is focused on theories of International Relations but much of the book centers on analysis of human motives, particularly the theory that self interest is the primary motive to human behavior.
Posted by WarrenV 5 years ago
WarrenV
I definitely think this was an incredibly hard debate to take part in - let alone contradict.

I contradicted and challenged my opponent the best I could, and I did attempt to give some clear examples where self-interest is not involved.

Taking part in that debate was definitely interesting - and if I was going to vote for who had the best case, it would actually be my opponent :L .

May the best person win.
Posted by poprox101 5 years ago
poprox101
I'm just a cynical person at heart, and so I do believe that self-interest motivates us more than anything else. In particular, I believe that because society has standards (Albeit vague and ambiguous) which people are expected to live up to, we make decisions in order to meet these standards. The closer we are to these standards, the higher other people will think of us. Social gratification. As a result, everything we do is motivated by self-interest in order to meet these social standards.

Using the beggar example, what motivated you to give money to the beggar while your friend was there? By not giving money, your friend would think less highly of you, and subconsciously you realize that your social gratification needs are not being met. As a result, you give money to the beggar simply to meet your social needs.
Posted by WarrenV 5 years ago
WarrenV
'The selfish gene' would be a much funnier name for this debate title xL

I don't think everyone always uses their "selfish gene" though (As you can see in the debate) .
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by Double_R 5 years ago
Double_R
nunquam.redonoWarrenVTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro made a case about how every human action serves self interest which was not adequately refuted by any of Cons points. His best point was the beggar argument "option B". This was close but Pros argument still applied to it so it wasn't fully negated. Con would have had my vote for arguments based on the concessions, but he validated it with his final round.
Vote Placed by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 5 years ago
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
nunquam.redonoWarrenVTied
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Reasons for voting decision: I actually laughed out loud when Con says that kids go to school so that their parents won't be fined. Con wins this as Pro didn't refute it convincingly enough. He said that kids feel bad about it while the obvious reason is that they would get into trouble for it. Pro gets the beggar and the army arguments for showing that people care about their honor. However, Con shows that it is possible that some humans care about the beggar while some don't whereas Pro was arguing that (cont in comments)
Vote Placed by wiploc 5 years ago
wiploc
nunquam.redonoWarrenVTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Neither side made compelling arguments. Con could have delved: "Pro, you say act X is done from self interest, but what about act not-X? Anything anybody does is always self interest? No matter what they do? Nobody acts from altruism ever? Not even the sick and deluded? Not one time? How would you tell? Might you be projecting your world view, as opposed to accurately describing other people's actual motivations?"
Vote Placed by Raisor 5 years ago
Raisor
nunquam.redonoWarrenVTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con dropped the army argument. Con didnt really address Pro's claim that acting to avoid guilt or "feeling bad" is just another form of self interest.
Vote Placed by randolph7 5 years ago
randolph7
nunquam.redonoWarrenVTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro had some good points and so did con but con didn't provide one instance that ultimately didn't come back to self-interest. By the way, self-interest isn't a bad thing. Bill Gates self-interest to get as rich as possible made home computers affordable and accessible to the entire world.