The Instigator
BananaPhilosopher
Pro (for)
Winning
3 Points
The Contender
khe618
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Evolutionary Benefit to all emotions.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
BananaPhilosopher
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/2/2014 Category: Science
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 989 times Debate No: 48209
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (13)
Votes (1)

 

BananaPhilosopher

Pro

I'd like to posit that there's an evolutionary benefit to all emotions. The con position here would be to present an emotional response that you believe has no benefit to an animals likelihood to survive. The pro position is to provide an evolutionary benefit to the emotional response you provide.
khe618

Con

I accept your challenge. The emotion response in which I believe has no evolutionary benefits is the rush of exhilaration caused by a roller coaster ride. This clearly exists as seen by the success of amusement parks. If I were to generalize this emotion, I'd probably classify it under fear. While fear does have an evolutionary benefit by inducing a fight-or-flight response and by causing the subject to avoid the dangerous situation, a roller coaster ride exhibits neither of these characteristics. I can think of no situation one would prepare itself for survival by accelerating in a car at fast speeds. In fact, if we were to identify the source of fear from heights and the gravitational acceleration caused by falling (and inevitably death), roller coasters would have an opposite effect by making it pleasurable to fall down from large heights, albeit in a safe, enclosed environment. Therefore, the feeling of exhilaration caused by roller coasters contributes no evolutionary benefits and in fact may be a disadvantage. I look forward to debating with you next round.
Debate Round No. 1
BananaPhilosopher

Pro

There was a study published in the "Journal of the American Medical Association" (http://jama.jamanetwork.com...) which monitored the heart rate of 55 healthy participants. Each of them wore 12-lead Holter electrocardiogram recorders, starting five minutes prior to the ride and ending five minutes after. The average increase was from 89 BPM prior to the ride to 155 BPM during. The scientists responsible for the study stated that the body's response of excitement, increased heart rate, and exhilaration was caused by the bodies fight-or-flight response. Roller coasters simulate dangerous circumstances (feelings of acceleration, deceleration, falling, etc.). Because the exhilaration propagated by dangerous circumstances is desirable to many, as you yourself noted, and as evidenced by the popularity of high risk sports like rock climbing (and especially free solo rock climbing), ice climbing, sky diving, canyoneering, etc., the roller coaster is not relevant to the emotion experienced in this example. This is because, while it did cause the emotional response, the emotional response itself is, as stated by the researchers, the fight or flight response. Think of it this way: an emotional response of running away from someone in fear (fight-or-flight-response) who's pretending to attack you doesn't actually help you survive, because they never intended to hurt you anyway. It's simply the fact that the body can't differentiate very well between simulated danger and actual danger. To be thorough, I'll provide a second source with the same findings: http://jama.jamanetwork.com...
This article is made even more fitting given the example used is high intensity theme park rides like roller coasters. It even says the anxiety you feel on such rides is "... an extension of the fight or flight response which evolved to keep us alive." With that, I believe I've provided sufficient evidence set the precedence henceforth that the emotional response you described was, in fact, the fight-or-flight response; therefore, my task is reduced to explaining the evolutionary benefit of this response. For this, I offer up the following article, (http://psychcentral.com...) and borrow again from the second citation(Jamanetwork): "... an animal without fear is a dead animal."
I thank you for the challenge, and I look forward to seeing your response. If anyone feels I inappropriately represented my opponents argument, or failed in my use of logic, I invite you to say so in the comment section. If you prove yourself correct, I'll strike that portion from my argument and, if the error is fatal, declare a loss.
khe618

Con

I think we can both agree that roller coasters simulate a dangerous environment, causing a fight or flight response which obviously has evolutionary benefit. However, this is a pretty broad response to many dangerous things, ranging from the threat of a wild animal to a harmless horror movie. Reading the comments, you asked for a "single example of an emotional response that doesn't benefit either individual or group survival." Emotions are certainly different from emotional responses. Happiness is an emotion and is beneficial to evolution; happiness from murdering people for no reason is an emotional response which is certainly not beneficial. Your argument seems to emphasize the emotion and ignore what caused it, as when you stated that "the roller coaster is not relevant to the emotion experienced in this example". Well I disagree with that because understanding what caused the emotion is crucial to evaluating whether or not that emotional response is beneficial. We cannot simply separate the emotional response from the stimuli that caused it because the same emotional response could be beneficial in one situation while harmful in another. For example, feeling pride in an achievement acts as a reward system so that the individual will be encouraged to do more actions like that one to reproduce that same feeling of pride and glory. If humans were to feel pride when they did something terrible like attack other humans who are not threatening them, pride would reinforce this action and harm society. The truth is, no emotion can be judged on whether it is beneficial unless we look at the context that produced this emotion. Roller coasters are not actually dangerous for the general population and therefore there is no need for the emotional response in which it produces.

Debate Round No. 2
BananaPhilosopher

Pro

You are correct. I did in fact state that you're job was to present a single example of an "emotional response that doesn't benefit either individual or group survival." In my previous post, I pointed out that the stimuli which brought about the emotional response was the roller coaster, and the emotional response was the fight-or-flight reflex. By the rules of the debate, my job is to explain the evolutionary value of the emotional response (as pointed out in the comment in which you quoted me), not it's value in relation to the stimuli. Were that the case, this debate would be impossible for me to win. Every emotion has a situation where it doesn't benefit the animal evolutionarily. We're not arguing that. We're arguing that, as I said in my first post, there's a benefit to all emotional responses, not that emotional responses are always beneficial. And in this case, I have set precedent, which you have not yet dismantled, and have actively agreed with, showing that the emotional response you provided is the fight-or-flight reflex. Nonetheless, even if I were to follow your line of thought here, I'd still have ground to stand upon.. So, let's pull on that thread for a minute, just to be thorough. Why does Joy exist? Because a happy animal tries harder to survive. Animals can in fact become depressed and give up on living. This is exhibited when dogs stop eating after their owners give them away or die, and by countless humans who commit suicide when they aren't happy enough to continue living. So, since you yourself said the exhilaration causes pleasure, all I've to argue is that pleasure contributes to individual happiness, since happiness contributes to individual survival. So for that, here's a relevant article with experts in psychology making exactly that claim: http://www.pbs.org... . To cite from the article itself, "Martin Seligman, one of the leading researchers in positive psychology and author of Authentic Happiness, describes happiness as having three parts: pleasure, engagement, and meaning. Pleasure is the “feel good” part of happiness. Engagement refers to living a “good life” of work, family, friends, and hobbies. Meaning refers to using our strengths to contribute to a larger purpose. Seligman says that all three are important..." I can therefore, based upon the research of experts in this specific area, make the assertion that pleasure is an integral part of happiness. That being the case, riding a roller coaster, by your own logic, would benefit your survival by benefiting your happiness. And in case it's needed, here's citation for my assertion that happiness causes an animals health to decline, specifically in the ways I claimed it did.

Dog example-
http://www.petplace.com...
"Some dogs with separation anxiety are so bonded to one person that if that person leaves the dog with other people in a crowded room he will display full-blown signs of separation anxiety. Such a dog will not take well at all to his owner going away on a trip or, indeed, to the permanent separation caused by death. The dog will panic at first and will eventually become depressed. While we can't ask a dog how he feels, we can (and do) sometimes see all the visible signs of depression in bereft dogs that we see in a recently bereaved or otherwise depressed person.

Clinical Signs of Mourning in Dogs


  • Lack of energy and interest
  • Absence of play
  • Listlessness/moping
  • Loss of appetite/anorexia
  • Reduced social interactions
  • Increased daytime sleeping
  • Nighttime restlessness/insomnia
  • Weight loss "

Suicide Example- http://www.save.org...
"Research has consistently shown a strong link between suicide and depression"

Other examples exist. In fact, ample examples exist. I just think the points been proved. If you think otherwise, say so and I'll provide more. But at this point, I think I've explained and provided enough backing for my position.
khe618

Con

This entire debate has rested upon ambiguous concepts and definitions of the rules, though I'll admit this is somewhat of an ambiguous topic. To clarify, let me state the definitions that I have been using for my argument. I realize now that there may be discrepancies between our idea of the debate.
Emotion: a strong feeling (such as love, anger, joy, hate, or fear)
www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/emotion
Exhilaration: a feeling of great happiness and excitement
http://www.merriam-webster.com...
Fight-or-flight response: a physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival
http://en.wikipedia.org...
You state before that "the emotional response itself is, as stated by the researchers, the fight or flight response." Fight or flight is a physiological reaction, which is different from an emotion. There might be some emotions associated with this reaction, such as exhilaration, but classifying fight or flight as an emotion would be like saying sweating is an emotion. The emotion that I argued for was exhilaration, which you did not directly address and instead focused on the physiological aspect of it.
Now you might argue that emotions are essentially physiological reactions, and that exhilaration and the fight or flight response are the same. In some cases they may appear similar, but exhilaration is a broad emotion that can result from several different circumstances. Based on my definition, there is a certain aspect of exhilaration during romance, but this is clearly different from the exhilaration caused by dangerous situations. So going off your parameters for this debate, in which you said it was "to explain the evolutionary value of the emotional response... not it's value in relation to the stimuli" arguing that fight or flight has an evolutionary benefit does not fully address the emotion of exhilaration. To prevent this, I assumed that we would narrow the emotion down to a certain environment and situation. Otherwise, there would be no need for me to state the roller coaster part and simply state the emotional response as exhilaration.
Your examples did not argue for your side either. You said that happiness has three parts, and "all three are important". Then you argued that since roller coasters cause pleasure, they cause happiness and are an evolutionary benefit. Extending that argument, I could say that getting high off drugs causes pleasure, which then causes happiness. Clearly this is not true, as with the suicide rate of drug addicts. That argument neglects the other three parts that you state were important.
Debate Round No. 3
13 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by BananaPhilosopher 3 years ago
BananaPhilosopher
My major is in evolutionary biology, and I largely disagree. Evolution is constantly working against itself, and as consequence there are constantly traits that are harmful to you evolutionarily. The appendix is one. Wide hips are another. I could name hundreds of examples across hundreds of phylums, classes, and species, both large scale and small. Evolution isn't so cut and dry as most people think it is. Nonetheless, you make a fine point; perhaps my position was more easily defensible than con's. This is my first debate, and I intend to improve the format I use as I create and participate in more. And thank you for the feedback on my use of sources. In the future, I'll try not to let the topic stray so far.

Khe618, I enjoyed it immensely. Thank you for the challenge, and I look forward to seeing more of your debates.
Posted by Kleptin 3 years ago
Kleptin
Con is an extremely difficult position to argue. If you support evolution, then you support the concept that if something exists, there is almost always an evolutionary benefit for it.
Posted by khe618 3 years ago
khe618
Thank you for this debate and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did
Posted by Wylted 3 years ago
Wylted
It's because, I've been down this road. I can't invest a lot of time and energy on this debate. I can only play Devil's advocate one debate at a time, unless I think somebody will just roll over for me.
Posted by BananaPhilosopher 3 years ago
BananaPhilosopher
Every trait? Well, I disagree strongly, but that's for another debate I suppose. I'm not asking for broad emotions like love and envy. That truly would be impossible to win. I'm asking for a single example of an emotional response that doesn't benefit either individual or group survival. Personally, I feel I could argue this from either angle, so I'm surprised you so quickly gave up.
Posted by Wylted 3 years ago
Wylted
Good luck, against any takers.
Posted by Wylted 3 years ago
Wylted
Never mind. I see this debate is impossible to win. Every general and rare human trait typically aids in at least group survival.
Posted by BananaPhilosopher 3 years ago
BananaPhilosopher
Although, it should be noted that if individual survival does contradict group survival, such as with negative emotions like revenge, the point will not be counted as valid. Bottom line is that the emotion must be proven to have no evolutionary advantage to the species as a whole, and such advantages are sometimes to the individual, sometimes to the group.
Posted by Wylted 3 years ago
Wylted
I wanted to know, if I prove something is present that contradicts individual survival, but aided group survival would you call that a loss?
Posted by BananaPhilosopher 3 years ago
BananaPhilosopher
Group survival sometimes contradicts individual survival, but individual survival very rarely contradicts group survival. So, since we're looking for evolutionary advantages, if an individual advantage is presented, since individual advantages support a species survivability in virtually every situation, it would be acceptable. And since group advantages always increase a species likelihood of survival, they are acceptable as well.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Kleptin 3 years ago
Kleptin
BananaPhilosopherkhe618Tied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Sources or Con were nonexistent, Sources for Pro were tangential at best. The resolution was not ambiguous, but it wasn't exactly easy to understand. Con simply argued against the wrong thing. The resolution was to discuss whether the *EMOTION* has an evolutionary benefit, not whether the emotion *as evoked by a particular situation* does. The latter resolution would be ludicrous. For that reason, Con's struggles to recover from misinterpreting the resolution cost him this debate.