The Instigator
JayConar
Pro (for)
Winning
6 Points
The Contender
TryingToBeOpenMinded
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Evil does not exist.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
JayConar
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/30/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 892 times Debate No: 64229
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (19)
Votes (1)

 

JayConar

Pro

I am arguing that evil does not exist, it is up to you to argue otherwise. Round one is acceptance only, whilst round four is conclusions.
TryingToBeOpenMinded

Con

Let's do this.
Debate Round No. 1
JayConar

Pro

Round 1

Definitions:
Evil is defined as: profoundly immoral and wicked.
Profoundly is defined as: to a profound extent; extremely.

The Religious Argument:

An omnibenevolent, omnipotent and omniscient God Exists.
If God is omnibenevolent, omnipotent and omniscient then evil cannot exist.
God is omnibenevolet, so he would not wish to allow evil to exist.
God is omniscient, so he can see every way in which evil may come into existence and every way in which it can be prevented.
God is omnipotent, so he has the power to stop evil from coming into existence.
Evil exists. (Contradiction)

The point to this is that either one of God, or evil, can exist at the same time. As the religious believe that an omnibenevolent, omnipotent and omniscient God exists, they cannot believe that evil exists.

Thus, to the religious monthiests, God cannot exist.

The Secular Argument:

Often you will hear that events in history, we'll use the holocaust as an example, happened because 'The Nazis were evil.' As much as we may wish to believe this, it is not the case. Evil cannot exist as a motive to someone's actions, therefore the idea of evil is a human construct that has no actual place in reality. Thus, whilst evil may exist as an idea, it does not actually have existence in reality.

The reason for this is because it is impossible to be universally (profoundly) immoral. Whilst you may believe somebodies actions to be immoral (i.e. the holocaust), the person whom acted (the Nazis) invariably did not see their actions as immoral.

I am not, here, trying to justify the holocaust. It was a horrific event in History, and the Nazis should undoubtedly be punished for their crimes. But does that mean that they did what they did because they were evil? No. During, before, and after WWII, there was a massive wave of anti-semitism spreading across Europe and not entirely avoided by America either. Hitler acted the way he did, not because he was evil, but because he genuinely believed he was acting 'morally.' Thus Hitler, and the hundreds of thousands of people under his command, did not believe that their actions were without a moral justification, thus you cannot assume their actions to have been motivated by their being evil, due to the fact that they were not evil, as they had no understanding themselves of the immorality of their actions. Does this justify their actions? No. But it does mean that they were not evil.

Your turn, Con!
TryingToBeOpenMinded

Con

1. Definition of Evil - 2 Definitions

Pro's definition of evil is inadequate. Evil can be define in 2 different ways. First, evil can be defined as something as contrary to general morality. In other words, an act is evil when the general populace finds it evil. Second, evil can be defined as something that is contrary to the perpetrator's morality. In other words, an act is evil when a person goes against his moral conscience.

2. Example of the 1st Definition

The general populace today believes killing a baby is evil. If you intentionally kill a baby, you are a horrible evil monster. However, in Sparta many years ago, if a baby weren't up to a certain standard, they would be tossed off a cliff or abandoned on a nearby hillside. By today's standards, it's considered barbaric and evil. It's irrelevant what the perpetrator thought. Morality is based upon what society think. And, we view the actions by these Spartans as evil.

3. Example of the 2nd Definition

With this definition, evil is committed when a person knowingly commits an act even though he knows it's wrong. We see this every day. Most rapists know that it's wrong. Most thieves know it's wrong. But, times are tough or they just say screw it, I'm just going to do it anyway. Stories in newspapers every day are enough evidence of this type of evil.

4. Countering Pro's Argument

In this section, I shall address the deficiencies in Pro's argument. Pro categorizes evil between religious and secular models. First, I have no idea why he does this and doesn't share any light on the debate. For example, I can categorize cars between blue and red cars but it doesn't help me determine which cars are fastest. Morality can be based upon secular or religious views but the debate stems on whether people follow this morality or not.

Second, Pro's argument itself is full of holes. Here are several examples. He assumes God is omnibenevolent although there is no evidence of this. He states if God is omnibenevolent, such a God would not allow evil to exist. This is a non sequitur because an omnibenevolent God can allow evil to exist to contrast it with good. He states that Hitler acted according to his own moral standards. This statement illustrates an unsophisticated and wrong view of an important part of history. Hitler acted the way he did to amass power and leveraged the fears and nationalism during the period.

5. Conclusion

I've shown the structure of Pro's argument isn't very illuminating. Further, the substance of Pro's argument is full of holes. In contrast, I've provided a more robust definition of evil and provided obvious examples of it.
Debate Round No. 2
JayConar

Pro

Round 2

Con believes that my definition of evil is inadequate, so let me provide my source, the English Oxford dictionary.

[1] Evil: Profoundly immoral and wicked.

I cannot find a source which suggests that evil is defined in the way that my opponent wishes, thus his definitions are in fact, just his opinion of what the word means, not actually factual. Thus my argument holds.

Counter argument:

Con provides us with a wonderful example of a false analogy:

'I can categorize cars between blue and red cars but it doesn't help me determine which cars are fastest. Morality can be based upon secular or religious views but the debate stems on whether people follow this morality or not.'

This debate is not about which field of morality we should follow, it is in fact about whether morality can exist at all. My argument is that as morality, and therefore evil, is so subjective, it cannot exist.

Although now irrelevant, I'm going to return to one of con's arguments:

'The general populace today believes killing a baby is evil. If you intentionally kill a baby, you are a horrible evil monster. However, in Sparta many years ago, if a baby weren't up to a certain standard, they would be tossed off a cliff or abandoned on a nearby hillside. By today's standards, it's considered barbaric and evil. It's irrelevant what the perpetrator thought. Morality is based upon what society think. And, we view the actions by these Spartans as evil.'

Con's argument does not ring true for, if it did, then Mothers who go through with abortion would, without exception, be categorised as 'horrible evil monster[s].' This is not widely the case. However, some people do believe that abortion is only carried out by 'evil' people. As some people see it as evil and some don't, then there is no definitive marker for evil, therefore it cannot exist as it is too abstract.

Con asserts:

'an omnibenevolent God can allow evil to exist to contrast it with good.'

I think it is, again, necessary to find a definition.

[2] Omnibenevolent: Kind and generous towards everyone and everything

Thus an omnibenevolent God would be Kind and generous towards everyone and everything, thus not allowing evil to exist as it would not be kind to allow it to exist.

[3]We find this in the bible: Psalm 145:17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works.

Thus suggesting that God is omnibenevolent, you now have evidence for it.

I don't wish to make this debate a debate about the reasons behind the holocaust, however:

[4] 'The Nazis believed that exterminating the Jews was justified because the Jews were not only a 'low' and 'evil' race, but were affecting the lives of the Germans negatively. Hitler and the Nazis blamed them for all the social and economic problems in Germany'

[5] 'The Germans, like the Poles, Austrians, French, Croats, Slovaks, Ukrainians, Lithuanians and others, were all taught, almost from the moment they could understand language, that Jews were evil, that they worked together with the Devil (indeed were minions of the devil), that they were bent on defiling the Christian mind, taking over the economies of the world to enslave Christians... Thus, long before the time when the Nazis came to power in 1933, the various peoples of Europe already viscerally hated Jews.

Con's point of view about the Nazi's is simply his own opinion, with no factual evidence to back it up. There were, in fact, many reasons for the holocaust, but the incredible amount of European anti-semitism at the time played a large part in it.

Ironically, my quote from source 5 also helps to prove my point about the abstract concept of 'evil.' Europeans were largely taught that Jews were 'evil.' Evil here can be seen to be used to seperate one group of individuals from another. The word itself does not refer to a real attribute of the Jews, but simply used to seperate 'them' from 'us.' They're 'evil' and we're not. What does the term really mean? It means that one group of individuals wants to imagine that another group of individuals is inherently different from the normal. What is the normal, you may ask? It is subjective. What is normal for a man born in 16th century Britain may be different from 'normal' for a man in 6th century Britain.

Normal can be defined as: conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected.

Which is all very well and good, but as that standard changes based upon culture, religion, time period, etc, it is reasonable to assume that 'normal' in and of itself, cannot be pinned down and labelled, for it is constantly changing. Thus, 'normal' does not exist in a definitive form, thus neither can evil.


Sources:
[1]http://www.oxforddictionaries.com...
[2]http://www.collinsdictionary.com...;
[3]http://biblehub.com...;
[4]http://www.sahistory.org.za...;
[5]http://www.sixmillioncrucifixions.com...
TryingToBeOpenMinded

Con

1. Pro's Inadequate Definition of Evil

I am assuming that Pro hasn't reached high school yet because he doesn't know that starting a paper with a dictionary definition will get you a failing grade. It's one of the cardinal sins when writing papers. As many of you already know, the problem with dictionary definitions is that the description is too superficial. For certain words, it's impossible to capture the meaning in 5 words. And, we see this same exact problem here. One important question that the dictionary doesn't answer explore is this. Is evil defined as an absolute immoral act or is it relative to the perpetrator? Pro simply assumes it's the latter which makes his argument flawed. However, I don't make that assumption. I consider both options and then give an example of evil in either situation.

2. Definition #1: Evil as an Absolute Act

Some philosophers consider certain acts evil, irrespective of any point of view. For example, it doesn't matter whether Spartans had a different moral code that allowed the killing of babies. Many people believe that there is a universal moral code that transcends all points of views. Some Christians believe this absolute moral code has been established by God and he instilled it in the fabric of our souls. Whatever the origin, an example of an absolute moral code is that killing a baby to weed out the weak ones is evil, irrespective of the situation or point of view.

3. Definition #2: Evil as a Relative Act

There are numerous examples of this case. For example, we, as readers can readily admit that we commit small evils in our own daily lives. For example, we know it's wrong to steal, or we know it's wrong to cheat on that test, or we know it's wrong to beat up our brother. But, we still do it anyway. This is evil. Maybe not on the scale of genocide but evil nevertheless. Is it surprising to see our natural human tendency to go against our own moral code due to a moment of weakness? We open a newspaper and see abundant evil. Many criminals know what they are doing is wrong but they do it anyway.
Debate Round No. 3
JayConar

Pro

Round 4

First of all, I would like to point this out:

'I am assuming that Pro hasn't reached high school yet.'

This is essentially an attempt to try to insult me, and I would like it to be taken into consideration when the voters issue conduct points.

As a matter of fact, I never did reach high school, because I am British. Therefore I went to Secondary School, and then College, where I got an A in History. I was never taught that starting an essay with a dictionary definition could be deemed as wrong (I took English Language as a subject) and therefore I can only assume that what is deemed wrong in one culture (American high schools) is not deemed incorrect in other cultures (British Secondary Schools and Colleges).

Having said that, this isn't a 'paper' it's a debate, therefore perhaps we can stay off the topic of the education system.

Ironically, this goes a long way to proving that a universal moral code can't exist. For, although grading systems are a slightly different example, as all cultures have a different view upon essentially everything, how could it be gleened that they would all have the same views when it came to morals and ethics?

1. Evil as an absolute act:

My opponent asserts:

'Some philosophers consider certain acts evil, irrespective of any point of view.'

But is that not, in itself, the point of view of those philosophers? That sentence cannot make sense as, by saying that the point of view of other people does not 'count' essentially, you are accepting that your own opinion doesn't count either.

If I put an Athiestic British person in a room with a Muslim person from Iran, then I told them they had to write a list of everything that was evil, and they couldn't come out until they were agreed that the list both:
1. Included everything evil that existed;
2. Did not include anything that was not evil
Then there is a very good chance that they would never come out of that room.

A universal moral code does not exist because, if it did, there would be no such thing as a moral dilemma.

2. Evil as a relative act:

'Many criminals know what they are doing is wrong but they do it anyway.' Here, we can see that Con is making a generalised assertion. He asserts that 'many criminals know what they are doing is wrong.' However, he doesn't say which moral code he is following. For example:

[1]'Iran executed two gay men on Sunday for the crime of “perversion” and has sentenced a third individual to death for “insulting the prophet."'

But there's more:

[1]'Intelligence officials reportedly “confiscated a private video recording of Tavana on his personal computer, in which while under the influence of alcohol he allegedly uttered a phrase the judge interpreted as insulting the Prophet of Islam,”'

Two men were executed for being gay, and another was executed for 'insulting the prophet whilst drunk in private.' Did these three men know what they were doing was wrong? No, in fact, I would argue that they thought what they were doing was right, and that it was, in fact, the Sharia law against homosexuality and blasphemy that was wrong. Did they know that they would be harshly punished if anybody were to find out? Incredibly likely yes, they did. But that doesn't mean that they thought what they were doing was wrong, or worthy of that punishment.

Here's another question. Is it wrong for a man to steal an expensive medicine from a chemist IF he didn't have the money for it and it was to save his dying child's life?

Personally, I see this two ways. The first was that the man saved a child's life at the cost of a Chemist store having less money. The net morality here looks to be positive. I.E. the man's actions were morally acceptable.

However, we could also look at it in another way. If we say that stealing is wrong no matter what, then what the man did was unjustifiably wrong, therefore the man is evil.

Here's another example. A man beats up his brother. This is wrong.
A man beats up his brother to stop him from stabbing somebody else. He is still beating up his brother. That's wrong, supposedly. I would, in fact argue, that in this case it isn't. However, the man doing the beating would still likely be charged with assault. Does this make him evil? No, in my eyes it doesn't. However some people will disagree with me. Some would say he should have gotten inbetween his brother and the man and allowed himself to be stabbed instead of the other man. Does that make the man in this version of events less evil? No, it just makes him more dead.

Morality is completely subjective. There is no one thing that everybody in the world who is alive, or who has ever lived, will agree is evil. Therefore, evil cannot be defined for certain as everybody has their own version of it. My definition of evil was inadequate, Con is right in that respect. However, Con's own definitions of evil were also inadequate, because not every person, not even most people, would agree with him. Some might, but not all, therefore his opinions on what evil actually IS are just that, subjective opinions.

There is no universal evil. One man's evil is another man's tradition. Therefore, as we can't all agree on what is and isn't evil, it is undefinable. Therefore, it cannot exist. Neither, in fact, can there be an inbuilt morality that determines that some things are definitely evil and therefore unforgivable in any circumstance.

Does evil exist? Well Con has not yet given a single example of universal evil. Thus, we must conclude that no, evil cannot exist.

Sources:

[1]http://www.jihadwatch.org...;
TryingToBeOpenMinded

Con

TryingToBeOpenMinded forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
19 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Tweka 2 years ago
Tweka
Okay. I mistake it.
Posted by JayConar 2 years ago
JayConar
The Prisoner's Dilemma is to do with two people serving their own immediate interests when working together would ensure they both get the best outcome.
Posted by Tweka 2 years ago
Tweka
The moral dilemma is 'prisoner's dilemma'.
Posted by JayConar 2 years ago
JayConar
@Tweka

Is what Prisoner's dilemma? And I've been involved in a few debates, yes. The main thing to remember about debating is that it's a debate, not an argument. Everything else follows from that.
Posted by Tweka 2 years ago
Tweka
Jay
Is that Prisoner's dilemma?
Have you ever involved in any debate? Seems like you handle them(argument) very well?

TryingToBeOpenMinded
I have no any relation to Jay. I just want to clarify this statement to avoid any misunderstanding on this site in the future. If you still do not agree with me, okay, I will Provide more if you wish to have.
Posted by Tweka 2 years ago
Tweka
The conduct point goes to pro as con has forfeited in his round four. This is so clear. Con has not used any viable resources which can be seen. It is important to state where do the resources are being borrowed or quoted from. Again, this is a conduct violation. If he does not borrow/quote from anywhere, then this will be his own opinion which are not sufficient to compete with pro's. In the third round Con has insulted pro in the course of education. He has launched irrelevant personal attack on Pro. As claimed by Pro morality is so subjective. If it is not subjective,then there won't be any moral dilemma. Pro has made used of the sentence which is given by Con well. Like:
Here's another example. A man beats up his brother. This is wrong.
A man beats up his brother to stop him from stabbing somebody else. He is still beating up his brother. That's wrong, supposedly. I would, in fact argue, that in this case it isn't. However, the man doing the beating would still likely be charged with assault. Does this make him evil? No, in my eyes it doesn't. However some people will disagree with me. Some would say he should have gotten in between his brother and the man and allowed himself to be stabbed instead of the other man. Does that make the man in this version of events less evil? No, it just makes him more dead.
Posted by Tweka 2 years ago
Tweka
I will write my RFD now.
Posted by JayConar 2 years ago
JayConar
I'm going to be completely honest with you, I didn't ask Tweka to vote on this debate. I don't actually know Tweka either. Perhaps, later on, we'll have more votes and maybe they'll see things your way and you'll win. However, I don't think putting an age requirement on debates will solve anything as temper tantrums apparently happen no matter how old you are.

The reason I included religious morality in there was in case you were an incredibly religious person who decided to spend the whole debate going 'but God.' I decided not to bother taking the chance. My argument in the first round was still structured well, however, as it was clear and each part was categorised.

Also, the only evidence we have of what Plato and Socrates thought is what Aristotle wrote about them. Had you attempted to prove that evil can be an 'absolute act' then you could have given me a run for my money, but simply stating that 'some philosophers think' without giving any real evidence to back up their ideas meant that you fell somewhat short of a full rebuttal.
Posted by TryingToBeOpenMinded 2 years ago
TryingToBeOpenMinded
Incredibly sophisticated? Are you kidding? Moral relativism is as basic as you can get. You kept giving the same example over and over again even to the last round. WTF. You kept harping on how moral absolutism doesn't exist. Tell that to Plato and all the other philosophers. Give me a break. I now realize why certain debates have an age requirement. It's to avoid this.

And, please don't talk about "if you're not rebutting your opponent's actual argument whilst he actually is rebutting yours, you're going to have a hard time finding voters." This is the definition of irony. Your rebuttals completely missed my points and were full of non sequiturs. Then, you got a single friend to come here and vote for you without following the actual debate. I think it's hardly about a debate on merits.

Btw, I can't believe you listed structure as one of your points. You're kidding about this. You initially structured your argument between secular and religious even though there was no rational reason for doing so. Then, you constantly brought religion into this when it's completely tangential. Talk about irrelevancy....
Posted by JayConar 2 years ago
JayConar
The debate was never going to be incredibly sophisticated, I'm not a moral philosopher. Neither me nor Tweka are female, and even if we were we don't follow each other around and 'mutually vote for each other.'

In order to win a debate you need a few things, these are:
1. Sources. You have to use sources because they inform your opinion and make you look like you've done your research. It also helps you know what you're talking about.
2. Structure. Structuring your argument with sub-titles emboldened and underlined makes your argument easier to follow for potential voters. Whilst you did use sub-titles, they weren't properly underlined and emboldened.
3. Rebuttals. It's ok making a good argument, even a great argument, but if you're not rebutting your opponent's actual argument whilst he actually is rebutting yours, you're going to have a hard time finding voters.
4. Counter arguments. It's good to use rebuttals as I said, but you need a good counter argument. You had a good counter argument but you didn't back it up with sources or rebuttals, which was eventually your downfall.
5. Definitions. If you are going to define something then you need to find a source which defines it the way you want to define it. If you don't do this then it looks like your definitions are just subjective opinions. Which, of course, all definitions essentially are. However, if you use sources people tend to be ok with your definitions. Even if you don't get your definitions from a dictionary but, say, from a moral philosopher, as long as you can back them up with sources from that philosopher's book or whatever then that's fine.

If you had brought up moral philosopher's opinions on morality then you could have won this debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Tweka 2 years ago
Tweka
JayConarTryingToBeOpenMindedTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: Con did not respond to Pro's argument. Pro has used sources. Con has also forfeited in the last round.