The Instigator
Contradiction
Pro (for)
Losing
126 Points
The Contender
WriterDave
Con (against)
Winning
137 Points

Homosexual Acts are Immoral

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 54 votes the winner is...
WriterDave
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/3/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 49,944 times Debate No: 23031
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (691)
Votes (54)

 

Contradiction

Pro

TERMS

Resolved:
Homosexual Acts Are Immoral

Rounds:

1. Acceptance only
2. Opening arguments
3. Clash
4. Closing arguments/clash


Definitions: By "homosexual acts" I refer to sexual acts between members of the same sex. Specifically, I refer to homosexual sodomy. This is not a debate about homosexual orientation. I will have the burden of proof. No semantics.

The time limit between replies is 72 hours. If one side explicitly concedes or violates any of these terms, then all seven points will be awarded to the other. By accepting this challenge, you agree to these terms.

WriterDave

Con

With the understanding that Pro and I have a shared understanding of the resolution and terms of the debate, I accept Pro's challenge. Over to him for his argument.
Debate Round No. 1
Contradiction

Pro

It is a pleasure to be debating WriterDave on this topic. In this round I will argue against homosexual acts on the basis of classical natural law. I will also attempt to preempt several common objections to natural law ethics.

What Is Natural Law?

According to natural law ethics, morality is grounded in natural facts about what constitutes proper functioning for rational agents. Hence when the natural law theorist speak of what is "natural," he refers to what is proper for a given organism. Similarly, "unnatural" refers to what is not proper for a given organism.

The goal of a moral life is to live excellently. This is achieved when our acts align with how we ought to function given the kind of being we are. Consider a knife. Because it is the kind of thing whose proper function is cutting, we call itgood if it cuts well and bad if it doesn't. The conditions for its flourishing are set by its nature. Likewise, because the heart is a type of thing oriented toward pumping blood as its purpose, a heart which pumps blood well is a good heart, whereas one that is impaired is bad. We see from these examples that goodness and badness are attributive properties; their content depends on what they are being predicated of. [1] There are good cars, good books, and good professors. All of these are good in the sense that they are fulfilling of their respective functions.

Of course, all of the aforementioned examples involve some non-moral good. We don't hold knives morally responsible for failing to cut properly. But, insofar as human persons are free agents capable of rationally choosing whether or not to pursue their flourishing, this becomes moral goodness. [2] Knives are incapable of rational deliberation and free action, but people are. We hold a bank robber, but not a knife, morally responsible because the robber could have and should have known and done better.

Now since goodness is defined in terms of what is proper for something, the kind of substance that something is gives us an objective standard of goodness by which we can evaluate its performance. The good for us as humans lies in the ability of our reason to direct us to those ends which accord with the proper function that our various bodily faculties have. Acts are bad or evil if they involve the direction of our reason against our bodily goods as such. [3] That is to say, an act involving a bodily faculty is wrong if is actively directed to a purpose other than the one it should take by nature. We act against the natural purpose of a given bodily faculty if, when engaging its powers, we direct them to an end other than its inherent purpose.

Thus, because the function of our sexual organs is to procreate, directing their powers to an end other than the creation of new life frustrates their purpose and is thus immoral. The sexual powers should be directed toward procreation, but are actually directed to some other end (say, pleasure) in homosexual acts. Homosexual acts are thus immoral. By the same token, masturbation, oral sex, bestiality, and contraception are also immoral. This is not to say that all sex must be had with the intention of procreation in mind, only that actions involving our sexual faculties must be consistent with this purpose by being a procreative-type act. [4]

I now turn to objections.

Objection #1: Eyeglasses, medicine, and a host of other things are unnatural!

This objection falsely equates unnaturalness with being a man-made artifact. As previously stated, when the natural law theorist uses the term "natural," he refers to what is proper for a given organism's function. If anything, these actually enhance the functions of what they are directed at. Eyeglasses enhance and correct the seeing power of the eyes and medicine corrects bodily malfunctions. A similar objection which states that homosexuality is found in animals also fails for this same reason.

Objection #2:
Shaving, wearing earplugs, and applying antiperspirant are unnatural!

None of these actions frustrate the powers associated with the various faculties because they do not involve the active use of those faculties. Shaving does not frustrate the purpose of hair because we are not actively engaging the powers associated with hair to some contrary end. Neither do we frustrate the purpose of our sweat glands when applying antiperspirant because we are not using the sweat glands to some contrary end. The same is true of hearing: we are not directing our hearing to some contrary end. All of these examples involve passive as opposed to active frustration. As Stephen Jensen indicates, “[n]ot every instance of inhibiting some natural function, therefore, counts as a voluntary error. We must voluntarily use some power that directs to some end or some material, but we divert that power to some other end or material.” [5]

Objection #3: Using a gun to kill someone is using it properly, hence it is good to kill someone!

No. Natural law is primarily about the flourishing of agents. That is, acting in a way which fulfills our nature. Our nature in turn includes our various bodily faculties and their proper functions. An act is good if it is conducive to the flourishing of these bodily faculties. It is not wrong to use a gun contrary to the gun's purpose, since the gun is not part of your nature nor is it an moral agent. It would be wrong, however, if you used the gun as the means by which you interfere with the flourishing of another agent.

Objection #4: You can't derive an "ought" from an "is"!

According to Hume's famous fork and G. E. Moore's naturalistic fallacy, one cannot derive an “ought” from an “is.” But this is plainly false. Given a teleological account of human nature, there is no fact-value distinction, for value is built into fact from the very beginning. If the purpose of eyes is that they see, then it follows straightforwardly given their telo sthat eyes which see well are good eyes. Nature is not merely descriptive, but also prescriptive. "Ought" claims are not derived from "is" claims, but present to begin with. [6]

Objection #5: The purpose of sex is pleasure, not procreation!

This is mistaken. Pleasure exists not as an end in itself, but as a means to some other end. Eating is pleasurable, but we would not want to say that pleasure is a purpose of eating. Rather, pleasure itself is purposed toward motivating us to eat for the final purpose of nutrition. There are many things which taste pleasurable to us but which harm the body with respect to nutrition. Pleasure thus is subservient to the primary function of the faculty it is associated with. Similarly, the pleasure associated with sex serves to motivate us to procreate. It is not to be sought after as an end in itself.

Objection #6: There are no such things as "functions" or "teleology"!

To deny outright that there exists function in biology is implausible. Surely our hearts have the function of pumping blood and our eyes have the function of seeing. These are objective facts that are inherent to our biology. If denied, the entire discipline of medicine falls apart, for medicine is inherently normative and is concerned with restoring our organs to the way they ought to function. [7]

Moreover, the denial of teleology is ultimately self-defeating. Consider the mind, which has the function of thinking rationally. Now if functions do not exist, then the mind does not have the function of thinking rationally. But in that case, we have no reason to trust any of our thought processes as being reliably aimed toward the truth – including the ones which produced the very objection! The objection, as it turns out, removes its own warrant. If our minds are not aimed toward rationality, then what reason do we have to trust the beliefs that we hold now? One cannot
deny function without implicitly relying on it.

Unfortunately, my space has run low, otherwise I would preempt several other objections. I will leave that to the coming rounds. The resolution stands affirmed.

Sources
: http://tinyurl.com...;
WriterDave

Con

Thanks to Contradiction for the debate offer. In what follows, I will show why his argument fails.


One: Is/Ought


Moore's anti-reductionist argument, in a nutshell, is that questions of the form "X has natural characteristic Y, but is it good?" are intelligible questions, in that they can be understood but do not convey sameness of meaning (i.e. "Are bachelors unmarried?"). Moore argued that such questions can never be answered.[1]

Moore was half right, half wrong. Such open questions are intelligible, but they can in theory be answerable, depending on how terms are defined. However, whether Pro has in fact made them answerable is another matter.

Pro stated, "The goal of a moral life is to live excellently. This is achieved when our acts align with how we ought to function given the kind of being we are." This leads to the question, "Action X aligns with its proper function, but is it (attributively) good?" Pro has not given an elucidating answer to this question.

To put it another way (that does not rely on Moore): Pro's definition of morality fails because it is circular; "ought" is a moral term, and thus assumes a prior understanding of morality. Pro must define "ought," and he must do so in a way that does not assume either natural law or the aforementioned assertion. Not having done this, his argument fails.


Two: Teleology

We have overwhelming evidence that human anatomy is the result of evolution by natural selection. Such evidence includes, but is by no means limited to:
  • The inheritance of structures necessary for life, such as replication and catalysis, of all living organisms.
  • The possibility of placing all species into an objectively defined nested hierarchy.
  • The existence of vestiges.
  • The geographical distribution of species consistent with genealogical relationships.
  • The observation of morphological change over time in all organisms.
  • Transitional forms in the phylogenetic tree.[2]
Evolution poses a dilemma to Pro: by teleological proper function, he can mean either internally or externally teleological. If the latter, then evolution by natural selection disproves his argument, since evolution does not have any particular goal or end purpose in mind.[3] If the former, then Pro's system of morality is not objective, for an objective morality cannot be based on happenstance. The content of natural law would be dictated by the exact pattern of evolution on Earth, which in turn was largely dictated by happenstance; it was influenced by things like plate tectonics and meteor impacts.

This same dilemma also refutes Pro's argument that the proper working of the mind assumes teleology, for the capacity for true beliefs are naturally selected for; one who believes that a nearby tiger is a tiger is more likely to propagate his genes than one who believes that a nearby tiger is a can opener.

Thus, inasmuch as Pro is arguing that homosexual acts are objectively immoral, his argument fails.


Three: Foundation

Natural law is inherently theistic.[4] Pro himself has asserted (wrongly, but sincerely) that the is/ought gap cannot be bridged in a naturalistic framework;[5] moreover, philosophers such as JP Moreland have argued that natural law is inadequate unless supplemented by "special revelation" contained in the Bible.[6] For these reasons, the soundness of Pro's argument requires the existence of the Christian, or at least the Abrahamic, God.

However, there are at least two reasons to think that God does not exist.

3A: Consider the situations of a fawn suffering horribly and dying in a forest fire, and of a 5 year old girl being beaten, raped and murdered by her mother's boyfriend. We are not aware of any goods for the sake of which God would be morally justified in permitting these occurrences. If we wish to avoid "radical skepticism concerning inductive reasoning in general," then we must use the principle of induction to conclude that such goods do not, in fact, exist. Thus, God does not exist.[7]

3B: The existence of God is logically impossible because many attributes which he is commonly defined as having are incoherent or contradictory. For example: 1) God is perfect, and thus has no needs or wants, and yet he created the universe, indicating a want or need to do so. 2) He is omnipresent and thus exists everywhere, and yet is transcendent and thus exists nowhere. 3) He takes part in causal chains which require time, and yet lives in a timeless realm. 4) He is perfectly just, and thus gives everyone exactly what they deserve, and yet is perfectly merciful, and thus gives everyone less than they deserve. These are only a few examples; they suffice to show the impossibility of God's existence.[8]


Four: DCT

Divine Command Theory is a moral system which states that God approves of X, and therefore X is morally good.

Natural law, as construed by Pro, is simply DCT with an extra step: God approves of X, therefore X is designed as a proper function, therefore X is morally good.

DCT is, in David Brink's words, "subjectivism at the highest level." A true objective morality must be autonomous. That is, it must stand or fail regardless of whether or not a given entity approves of a moral good. (Note that I do not assume the nonexistence of God here; only that the existence of God is not self-evident.)[9] Therefore, inasmuch as Pro is arguing that homosexual acts are objectively immoral, his argument fails.


Five: Handstands

If human organs do indeed have a "proper function," then the proper function of the hands is obviously to grasp and manipulate objects. Yet handstands are not immoral. Thus, we cannot derive moral statements from the concept of proper function.

Pro has argued elsewhere that hands have a plurality of proper uses,[10] but he has not explained how handstands are a proper use of the hands, nor has he explained why genitalia cannot also have a plurality of proper uses.

Pro also argues in his opening statement that pleasure for its own sake is not a moral value; however, performing a handstand for the sake of pleasure is not immoral. Therefore, Pro's argument fails.


Six: Pleasure

Finally, we have at least three reasons to believe that sexual pleasure without regard to procreation is a proper function of the genitalia, or is for some other reason a positive value, which negates Pro's argument. (Note that all of these apply to female sexual pleasure, but "sodomy" includes oral sex, which Pro's argument also applies to, as indeed it applies to all non-procreative-type sex acts, including lesbian sex acts.)

6A: There is a large and growing body of evidence that the orgasm, at least in females, is unrelated to procreation except by happenstance of timing. For instance, orgasm has not been shown to increase fertility in women. Moreover, most women cannot orgasm via penetration alone.[11] These and other facts about female anatomy tell us that sexual pleasure is an independent proper function of the genitalia.

6B: Pro himself stated above, "medicine is inherently normative and is concerned with restoring our organs to the way they ought to function" (emphasis his). Female Orgasmic Disorder, or the inability or decreased ability of women to orgasm, is a recognized medical condition, the diagnosis of which does not involve the woman's ability to procreate.[12]. Sexual pleasure is thus a proper function of the genitalia.

6C: Female genital mutilation (FGM) is the medically unnecessary removal of the clitoris (often among other things), the purpose and effect of which is to remove a woman's sexual pleasure while leaving her ability to procreate unhindered. I assume that Pro believes that FGM barbaric, in spite of this. I also assume he believes it to be significantly more barbaric than the medically unnecessary toenail removal I myself underwent some years ago. (It's a long story.) These beliefs are only rational if sexual pleasure without regard to procreation is a positive value.


For each of the above reasons, Pro has not established the resolution.


Sources: http://bit.ly...;
Debate Round No. 2
Contradiction

Pro

I am grateful to Con for his reply. Unfortunately, it contains multiple problems.

The Open Question Argument Fails

In my initial argument, I showed how both Hume's fork and Moore's naturalistic fallacy fail. As William Frankena has pointed out, both beg the question against their opponents. [1] Value is not so much derived from fact as it is built into fact from the beginning. Con, in response, marshalls another one of Moore's arguments: the open question argument.

This argument too fails. As I pointed out in my initial post, the term "good" is an attributive adjective. It varies depending on what it is predicated of. There are good cars, good professors, and good computers. All of these are good in the sense that they are fulfilling of their respective functions. Moore's "elementary mistake," as Ralph McInerny puts it, was to treat "good" as a predicative adjective -- that is, as a univocal term whose meaning does not vary. [2] But, as Peter Geach showed, "good" is attributive (equivocal). [3] Accordingly, the good for humans is defined in terms of how we ought to be by nature. This is not circular, as Con argues, since I am grounding moral normativity in biological normativity (which are two different types of normativity). The open question argument simply does not apply to natural law.

Evolution and Teleology? No Problem!

First, Con does not respond to one of my two arguments for teleology. Teleology is indispensible if we want to (1) make sense of medicine, for medicine is concerned with restoring our bodily processes to the way they should be. This is impossible if there are no such things as functions. His response to my second argument misses the point. Natural selection only selects for beliefs that are pragmatic toward survival, not true beliefs. [4] And even if I grant that natural selection did select for a majority of true beliefs, we would not be rationally justified in holding them. Why? For a belief to be justified it must be produced by a reliable cognitive process. But "reliable" smacks of teleology, which Con does not want to commit to. Hence either way, teleology must be invoked to make sense of rationality.

Second -- and even if all of the above fails -- Con's response is simply a false dilemma. Teleology is not incompatible with evolution, assuming it is true. [5] Indeed, if we think of teleology as built in to the fabric of nature, then we can have teleology with evolution. Simply invoking evolution does not disprove teleology. [6] Evolution doesn't have to have an "end in mind" in the sense of looking ahead and planning; all that's required is that there be ends in nature to begin with. Con simply begs the question when he asserts that nature is not inherently teleological. Specifically, he assumes a post-enlightenment mechanistic view of the world as opposed to a Aristotelean teleological view of the world. Indeed, he begs the question against just about every neo-Aristotelean, who thinks that evolution and teleology are compatible! If we think of teleology as inherent to nature rather than legislated by God, then this does not requires us to commit to theism -- indeed, many neo-Aristoteleans are atheists! To disprove teleology, he must offer an actual argument against it.

Does Natural Law Require God or Divine Command Theory?

No. A natural law theorist need not be commited to theism. Indeed, Larry Arnhart and a slew of other natural law theorists have argued that we can have natural law without theism, so Con's points here are simply unfounded. [7] There are natural law theorists who view it in light of certain tenets of theism, but that says nothing about natural law itself. Moreover, given the points advanced in the last section, teleology does not in itself commit one to theism. Hence I will not respond to his arguments against theism, since natural law does not in itself commit one to belief in God. Additionally, Con's has incorrectly cited Moreland. Moreland is referring not to teleology as I have construed it, but as it refers to complexity in the context of the teleological argument, which I am not defending. [8]

Multiple Functions? Sure, why not!

Con's reasoning here is simply invalid. It does not follow that simply because some bodily faculties (such as hands) have multiple functions that therefore one cannot ground morality in biological function. That a bodily faculty may have multiple functions only shows that there are multiple ways to realize its good. Nothing in natural law theory says that we must be committed to the presence of only one function [9]. Indeed, our sexual organs have another purpose other than procreation: expelling waste. But that in itself proves nothing.

Pleasure is not to be sought as an end in itself, but that doesn't mean that there isn't anything wrong with properly using a faculty with the intention of seeking pleasure. One may intend pleasure as long as he respects the proper function of a given bodily faculty. As I stated before, not all sex must be had with the intention of procreation in mind, only that actions involving our sexual faculties must be consistent with this purpose by being a procreative-type act. One may have sex for pleasure as long as he does it properly (that is, by respecting the proper function of our sexual organs). Similarly, one may eat for the sake of pleasure as long as he eats food that is nutritious.

Pleasure is not a Purpose of Sex

6A is unfounded. There is no strict connection between orgasm and procreation does not in itself prove that pleasure is a purpose of sex. Strictly speaking, there is no connection between good taste and nutrition: we can eat nutritious food without it being good tasting, but nothing of significance follows from this. As I stated before, pleasure exists as a motivation for us to engage in certain activities. This doesn't mean that pleasure is a means through which an end is accomplished, as Con falsely assumes. Eating is pleasurable because it motivates us to ingest nutritive substances. Sex is pleasurable because it gets us to procreate. Pleasure can be had independent of nutrition, but that does not prove that the purpose of eating is pleasure.

6B simply doesn't follow. Sex ought to be pleasurable because pleasure serves as a motivation toward getting us to procreate. When this motivation is lacking, it is acceptable to restore it, but it does not follow that therefore pleasure itself is a purpose of sex. Con is confusing parts with wholes. A whole may not be able to function as efficiently when lacking a part, but restoring that part does not mean that both part and whole share the same function. Indeed, parts themselves are subservient to the whole and derive their function by virtue of the role they play in the whole. The purpose of eating is nutrition, but eating is also pleasurable because it gets us to consume food. If our taste buds stop working and eating is no longer pleasurable, it is acceptable to restore the pleasure-giving aspect of the taste buds. However, it doesn't follow from this that pleasure is a purpose of eating. Pleasure is always subordinated a more basic end. If we restore pleasure-giving, we do so only insofar as it is subordinated to a more primary end. [10]

I'm not even sure how the reasoning in 6C makes any sense. I can (and do) oppose female genital mutiliation while simultaneously holding that procreation is the function of sex. Mutilation of any sort is inherently damaging and should be opposed, regardless of whether or not that mutiliation affects the proper function of a faculty or one of its related parts. So this is just a non-sequitur.

What's more, even granting 6A, B, and C, it does not follow that pleasure is a function of sex. All that it shows is that there is no strict connection between pleasure and procreation, but that does not in itself yield Con's desired conclusion.

The resolution is affirmed. Homosexual acts are immoral.

Sources: http://tinyurl.com...;

WriterDave

Con

In what follows I will show that Pro has not succeeded in refuting my objections to his overall case.


One: Is/Ought

I did use -- and I specifically said that I was using -- the adjective "good" in the attributive sense when I asked, "Action X aligns with its proper function, but is it good?"

Pro's use of Geach's argument is faulty, in that he is trying to use it to defeat Moore by arguing that all sentences of the form "(noun) is (attributive adjective)" are unintelligible. This is false; attributivity simply requires qualification that makes the adjective part of a noun phrase. In this case, "good" is used in the sense of being part of the noun phrase "good action." This, in context, is a proper use of the term. However, I do not have to use it attributively; moral terms help to guide actions, and action-guiding words must of necessity be, to some extent, prescriptive.[13]

I also made this point in a way that does not rely on Moore: Pro's definition of morality is circular because it uses the term "ought," which assumes a prior understanding of morality. Pro responded that he is grounding moral normativity in biological normativity. If I understand Pro correctly, then this definition of "ought" refutes his argument entirely -- see 6B below. If I do not, then Pro should once and for all explain, clearly and non-circularly, what he means by "ought" in his final statement.


Two: Teleology

Contra Pro, I did address the medical argument in teleology, by showing how it actually subverts his argument (see 6B above and below). If he desires a response beyond that, then I would add that every biological process can in principle be defined solely in non-teleological terms. For instance: if the heart is contracting and expanding, then the heart is sending blood through the circulatory system; if it is saturated with oxygen, it causes certain chemical reactions. And so forth.[14] Pro must explain how expressing these processes in teleological-sounding terms is more than merely a linguistic convenience.

Regarding the evolution of mind, Pro recycles the Plantigan argument that natural selection produces beliefs that are pragmatic toward survival, not beliefs that are true. However, there is no reason to think that an information-processing algorithm under which a coherent and consistently applied set of false beliefs that happen to ensure an organism's survival from birth to puberty exists, or can exist, still less that a being with such an algorithm is more likely to propagate its genes than a being that forms true beliefs.[15] Moreover, this response has no effect on those whose philosophy of mind is pragmatic rather than Cartesian.[16]

Pro argues that teleology can exist in nature even if there is no intention of an end goal, so long as there is an end goal. First, however, he does not specify whether he means internal or external technology. Indeed, he does not indicate that he is even aware of the difference. (It is laid out in this footnote.[17])

Second, Pro is confused about his own notion of teleology. His notion about "ends in nature" in the context of evolution suggests he is arguing for external teleology; however, he refers to this as an "Aristotelean (sic) teleological view." The notion of a goal imposed from without is Platonic, while the internal teleological notion of functionality derives from Aristotle.[18]

Finally, Pro does not establish that external teleology, either agent-directed or not, exists in nature. He simply assumes it. He also accuses me of simply assuming a mechanistic view. Even if this were true -- which it is not, as evolution is quite compatible with indeterminacy, and indeed natural selection arises from stochastic processes[19] -- the best that Pro will have achieved here is a stalemate of competing assumptions. This stalemate is to Pro's detriment, however, and not to mine; he has assumed the burden of proving that the teleological view upon which his argument relies is, in fact, correct. So far he has not done this.


Three: Foundation

Pro argues that a "slew" of natural law theorists have argued that we can have natural law without theism. He cites exactly one such theorist to make his point, Larry Arnhart, whose naturalistic natural law theory has been thoroughly debunked (by one of Pro's own sources, no less).[20] Pro has not shown that any naturalistic construal of natural law theory does, or can, escape the charge of insufficiency due to the lack of special revelation in the form of the Bible[21] (and this is a proper citation; while Pro and Moreland are defending different aspects of teleology, Moreland is here addressing all naturalistic accounts of natural law), nor that it does or can escape Pro's own argument that no non-theistic account of morality whatsoever can bridge the is/ought problem.[22] He has therefore not refuted my argument that natural law requires the truth of theism.

And since he did not even attempt to address 3A and 3B, establishing the nonexistence of God, Pro's argument for the resolution fails.


Four: DCT

Pro relies here on the refuted argument above. This objection stands.


Five: Handstands

Pro reaffirms that organs can have a plurality of proper functions. This reinforces the point that, in theory, the genitals can used solely for pleasure, just as handstands can be done solely for pleasure. Pro does not address, and therefore, I take it, concedes this latter point. This in turn concedes Pro's statement in his opening that pleasure "is not to be sought after as an end in itself," which was a key component of his argument

With regard to the question of why sexual pleasure cannot be a proper function of the genitalia, Pro's response here is, "One may have sex for pleasure as long as he does it properly (that is, by respecting the proper function of our sexual organs). However, this response begs the question, as it assumes that the proper function of our genitalia is what Pro says it is, which is what is at issue here.

Also, given that andropause and menopause are proper functions of the human body -- since they are functions that every human will undergo unless an external force prevents it from happening[23] -- why do sex acts between senior citizens of opposite sexes count as procreative-type?

Pro must address these problems in his final statement in a manner that does not beg the question -- that is, in a manner that does not assume the conclusion of his argument. Failing to do that, this objection stands.


Six: Pleasure

6A:
Given the lack of connection between female orgasm and procreation, it is incumbent upon Pro to explain why pleasure should not be a proper function of the genitals -- especially given his concession that sex for pleasure alone is, at least in certain circumstances, perfectly moral. He has not done this.

He states, both here and in response to 6B, that pleasure exists as a motivation for us to engage in certain activities. But given functional plurality, pleasure can be both motivational and an end unto itself. This objection stands.


6B:
Pro himself stated that moral normativity is grounded in biological normativity. This being the case, it seems self-evident to me that the status of female orgasmic disorder as a medical malfunction -- normatively nonfunctional, and therefore normatively bad -- establishes pleasure as a proper function of the female genitalia. This objection stands.


6C: Pro states that he opposes FGM on the grounds that mutilation of any sort is inherently damaging and should be opposed. However, we have assumed that Pro also believes that FGM is significantly worse than my own medically unnecessary toenail removal, also a mutilation. Pro must either explain why this belief is rational, or admit that he does not believe this -- thus laying bare a consequence of his natural law theory the acceptability of which the reader must decide for herself.


This concludes the penultimate round. All objections stand. Pro has still not established the resolution.


Sources: http://bit.ly...
Debate Round No. 3
Contradiction

Pro

In my final round, I'll provide my responses to Con's rebuttals. I would like to thank him for debating with me.


The Open Question Argument Still Fails

Following R. M. Hare, Con argues that not all instances of the term "good" are attributive. Since it is a moral term that is action-guiding, "good" is not always a descriptive term. This response is mistaken. As Ralph McInerny notes, Hare confuses "the elocutionary force of sentences in which 'good' occurs with the meaning of the term and even perhaps the meaning of those sentences. Thus, '
The Winds of War is a good book' may in given circumstances be used to commend the novel, but that is not what the sentence means." [1] Moreover, whenever "good" has an action-guiding aspect, it is precisely because of thing it is attributed to, not the term itself. This is why some instances of "good" carry action-guiding content and why others do not.

Con's second argument has already been dealt with. I am grounding moral normativity in biological normativity, so I am not circularly defining moral oughts in terms of moral oughts. Con may think that this
grounding is inadequate, but as adefinition of morality it is obviously non-circular and hence defeats Con's second objection.

Some Confusions About Teleology

I gave two arguments for teleology based on the normativity of medicine and rationality. Con's response to (1) was to attempt to use it against my application of teleology (Which will be dealt with later). This does not, however, show thatteleology itself is non-existent. Con needs an actual argument for that. To his credit, he offers an etiological reduction of teleology, viz. it can be explained in purely descriptive terms. This is inadequate, for it fails to account for theregularities of bodily processes. If they are not inherently disposed to act in a certain way, then it becomes inexplicable why they consistently do so. [2] It is more plausible to be a realist about teleology than to be a constructivist of sorts.

Con's response to the EAAN is lacking. He argues that there is no reason to think that such a scenario is likely, or even possible. But why? He simply
asserts it without argument. It is perfectly coherent to suppose a creature with false, butpragmatic beliefs would tend to survive. All that is required for a belief to be selected for is that it contribute to an organism's survival. It doesn't matter whether it is true or false, only that it's pragmatic. He then notes that my argument has no sway on someone who adopts a pragmatic philosophy of mind. That in itself is uninteresting, for he needs to demonstrate why we should countenance such a perspective, especially when it is quite a minority view.

Con charges me with being confused about the very teleology I am appealing to. This is just false. I was
very explicit in the previous round that I was appealing to Aristotelian as opposed to Platonic teleology -- hence my use of terms like "inherently teleological", "inherent to nature," "built in to the fabric of nature," and "inherent purpose." [3] This should make it very clear that I see teleology as originating from within a substance rather than being externally imposed. I even stated as such when I wrote that "If we think of teleology as inherent to nature rather than legislated by God, then this does not requires us to commit to theism." Nowhere did I even hint toward endorsing external teleology. The phrase Con quotes gives no indication of that.

Aside from this charge, he does not respond to the notion that we can have
teleology without God. I do believe that God is required for external teleology; but not for the type of inherent teleology I am appealing to in this debate. [4] Specifically, I am appealing to an inherent and emergent teleology, as I indicated in last round's footnote [6].

Finally, he charges me with assuming that teleology exists without argument. This is just false. I gave
two arguments for teleology. Con may think they fail, but he can't dispute the fact that I offered arguments. This charge is baseless.

Teleology Without God

Given what was said in the last section, it should be clear why my argument does not in any way presuppose the truth of theism. Since my argument operates on inherent rather than external teleology, God is not required to ground natural law. [5] I noted Larry Arnhart's version of a non-theistic Aristotelean natural law in support of this. [6] Con simply responds to this by saying that it has been "thoroughly debunked" by "one of my own sources" (As if my citing a book means that I agree with everything in it -- and if he's going to pull this move, then I should note that of Con's own sources rejects the open question argument [7]). This is false if we take into account that I am appealing to inherent teleology. Unlike external teleology, which much be imposed by above, inherent teleology is a metaphysically basic fact that does not require God as an explanation. While there are theistic versions of natural law theory, it does not have to be theistic.

Other than charging me with inconsistency (Which is a
tu quoque fallacy), Con never really replied to the arguments in my last round. Most of his charges assume that I take an external view of teleology, which is false (This is also why the Moreland miscite is in fact a miscite). [8]

Natural law does not require God, and hence does not require DCT.

Multiple Functions and Pleasure?

There are no concessions here, for Con misunderstands my argument. I argued that while organs can have multiple functions, pleasure is not one of them. One may act for the pure motivation of pleasure-seeking, but the act must still conform to the function of a given organ. It is an instrumental rather an intrinsic good. Con charges this with question begging, but this charge is off-base as that was not my argument against pleasure as a function. My argument for that thesis was in my eating analogy, to which I will later turn.

As for his other point, sex acts between heterosexual senior citizens are still procreative-type because they are still oriented toward it as an end, even if the effect cannot be acheived. Function is based on a thing's directedness (internal or external) toward a certain end and is independent of whether or not that end is brought about. [9] A clock will eventually stop running, but it is still oriented toward telling-time as its function.
In responding to
6A/B, I drew the analogy between pleasure in sex and pleasure in eating. To briefly reiterate: There are things which we eat that are pleasurable but which obviously are bad for us. If pleasure were a purpose of eating, then a glutton who consumes nothing but candy could be said to be eating well. But this is absurd, so pleasure must always subordinated to the good of a faculty -- pleasure itself cannot be a function. Hence sexual pleasure must conform to the function of procreation. [10]

In his responses to all three points, Con did not even attempt to deal with this analogy, yet he charges me with failing to explain why pleasure is not a function of sex? He simply says that since organs may have multiple functions and that pleasure can be one. But this is exactly what I was arguing against, hence he begs the question. Additionally, Con does not respond to my criticism of 6B -- that it confuses parts with wholes. The bulk of my argument is unresponded to.

6C
is a non-sequitur. I can affirm that procreation is the function of sex while simultaneously affirming FGM as a grave offense. It is worse than a toenail removal because it impairs one's ability to experience pleasure. But it doesn't follow that pleasure is a function of sex. A tastebud removal procedure which removes one's ability to receive pleasure from eating is also worse than a toenail removal, but it isn't because pleasure is a function of eating. In both cases, the deprivation of pleasure is bad because the pleasure ought to be there as a means to a further end that it is subordinated to. [11]

The resolution remains affirmed.

Sources: http://tinyurl.com...;

WriterDave

Con

Pro's Sources and Conduct

In his final statement, Pro used his sources page for arguments. Specifically, his footnotes 3, 4, 5 and 8 all contain argument and/or commentary.

Pro may wish to claim that these statements are incidental, but in at least one case - number 8, where he states that one of my cited sources (namely himself) did not mean what I argued he meant - he states something which would potentially affect the outcome of this debate if accepted. He makes an argument.

This is a clear attempt to circumvent the character count restrictions. It's the ethical equivalent of an oral debater making arguments during his "prep time."

This behavior meets the spirit, if not the letter, of Pro's own rule that one side violating any term of the debate should result in all seven points going to his opponent. I therefore submit that I should be awarded all seven points.

Failing that, I should be awarded sources, conduct and, as I will now show in my final statement, arguments. (I will use few sources here myself, as Pro’s argument consists mostly of logical fallacies.)


One: Is/Ought

Pro’s objection to Hare is self-defeating. Shortly after the quote Pro cites, McInerny goes on to explain that that very objection to Hare cannot be maintained except under Thomistic natural law (NL), which is inherently theistic.[24] But Pro has already committed to a non-theistic view of NL. Also, this response merely calls for further qualification that “good,” in asking whether a function-aligned use of an organ is good, is used in a moral, not literary, sense. It does not defeat Hare.

Pro argues that “good” has an action-guiding aspect by virtue of the attributing noun only. But this implies that “good action” and “bad action” mean the same thing.

Pro has refused to explain what he means by moral normativity being “grounded” in biological normativity.

For the above reasons, Pro has failed to show that his NL bridges the is/ought gap.

Two: Teleology.

Pro argues that I need to present an argument that teleology in nature does not exist. This is false; it is burden-shifting. Pro has the burden to show that teleology does exist.

Pro argues that descriptive accounts of biological processes fail to account for regularities in biology. However, this argument assumes that a description of a biological process that does not include include an Aristotelian final cause is inadequate, which in turn assumes teleology, which is what is at issue in this objection. So this argument begs the question.

Pro’s use of the term EAAN (Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism) proves that he is indeed arguing from a theistic concept of NL. Thus, having failed to rebut 3A and 3B above, Pro’s case fails. Regarding EAAN itself, we have no reason to think that an information-processing algorithm whereby consistent false beliefs are conducive to survival, nor has Pro shown that the EAAN disproves a pragmatic philosophy of mind, other than to say that it is a minority position; a clear argumentum ad populum.

Pro now denies having endorsed external teleology, and states that he had meant internal teleology all along. That being the case, it was incumbent upon him to address my first round argument that internal teleology would be formed by happenstance, such as plate tectonics and meteors, and that objective morality cannot be based on happenstance. Nowhere in the entire debate did he do this.

Pro denies assuming without argument that teleology exists in several of his statements. He did offer two arguments but, as I have shown, has been unable to defend either of them without assuming teleology. Thus, the question-begging problem remains.

The Teleology objection stands.

Three: Foundation/Four: DCT

Since Pro now states that he meant internal teleology all along, I admit that this would weaken these two objections -- if not for the fact that the theistic nature of his own NL theory is established by his own arguments elsewhere (see above).

Pro accuses me of committing tu quoque, or arguing that Pro is hypocritical, in my having quoted him as rejecting all naturalistic morality. On the contrary, I was simply using Pro as a source. In his Sources page, Pro argued that he himself did not mean what he said; this is, as I've established, an attempt to circumvent the character limit, and Pro should forfeit for this alone.

Pro has failed to establish that NL requires neither God nor a coherent DCT; thus, both these objections stand.

Five: Handstands

Pro denies having conceded that sex for pleasure is proper, at least under certain circumstances. Two sentences later, however, he makes that very same concession a second time: “One may act for the pure motivation of pleasure-seeking.” He qualifies this by saying that this act must conform to the proper function of the genitalia, namely procreation, but whether that is the (sole) proper function of the genitalia is, again, what is at issue in this objection. The question-begging fallacy therefore remains.

Pro states that senior citizens can have sex because that act is oriented toward procreation, even if the end of procreation cannot be achieved. To be oriented, however, means to be pointed or directed towards an end or goal. I can think of no way in which sex between an infertile couple is directed toward the end of procreation. So Pro has not explained why, given NL, senior citizens may have sex.

In any case, Pro did not deny that handstands for pleasure are immoral. Therefore, given the above arguments, Pro has failed to establish that morality can be derived from proper function.

Six: Pleasure

Pro thinks, perhaps because I did not use the word “eating,” that I did not address his analogical argument that, just as pleasure via taste buds are motivational for eating nutritious food, so sexual pleasure is motivational for procreating. I did address that, by saying that pleasure can be both motivational and a proper function. Pro has given no reason to believe, in light of this objection, that this is not the case.

6A: Pro does not respond to this at all. He therefore concedes that the female orgasm and procreation are biologically unrelated except by happenstance of timing.

6B: My response to Pro’s parts/whole argument assumed an understanding of moral terms which Pro later denied. So let us consider his statement that “parts themselves are subservient to the whole and derive their function by virtue of the role they play in the whole.” The clitoris is subservient to the body. The role it plays in the body is pleasure, and only pleasure. Thus, this is a function.

In any case, Pro does not deny that FOD is a medical malfunction, the treatment of which is proper.

6C: Pro concedes that FGM is significantly worse than toenail mutilation, and this is by virtue of the clitoris giving pleasure.

Construing NL as a science[25], and using Gould’s definition of a scientific fact[26], I argue that the evidence in 6A-C establish pleasure as a proper function to such a degree that to deny it would be perverse. Pro’s argument thus fails.

Summary

Pro has failed to meet each one of my objections. He has failed to:

  • Define his moral terms in a non-circular manner,
  • Establish the existence of a morally relevant teleology,
  • Establish the metaphysical foundation of NL (or refute its necessity)
  • Overcome the DCT,
  • Show despite the morality of handstands for pleasure alone that morality can be derived from proper function, or
  • Refute the fact of pleasure as a proper function.

All of my objections stand. Pro has failed to meet his burden of proof. The resolution has not been established. Indeed, it has been negated.

Also, as stated above, I believe that the spirit of Pro's rule in his opening statement mandates that I should be awarded all seven points, as Pro has improperly used his sources page to make arguments. But at the very least, I should be awarded points for arguments, sources and conduct.

I thank Contradiction for an engaging debate. I thank the readers for their attention, and ask them to VOTE CON.


Sources: http://bit.ly...;

Debate Round No. 4
691 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Illegalcombatant 1 year ago
Illegalcombatant
Needs more comments to get it back to the number 1 spot. This is me doing my bit.
Posted by 16kadams 1 year ago
16kadams
tbh this one is more worthy of comments haha
Posted by bossyburrito 1 year ago
bossyburrito
This is no longer the most-commented-on debate on DDO. RIP.
Posted by emah 2 years ago
emah
Humans typically judge good vs bad based off the majorities' consensus of what is and is not painful. Each person has a unique set of pains based on their experience and upbringing. That is why we construct laws and religions to guide people on how the majority feels in regards to particular pains. That is why democracy is better than a dictatorship, you give one man the power to rule with his mindset. Unfortunately, in a democracy, minorities still take a hit.

To give you an example, murder is painful for grieving families, therefore murder is bad. Therefore, murder is condemned in many religions, and murder is against the law. But, if one murdered the man who murdered his family member, one might say the murder is not bad. (Really, it's still bad and crumbles one's character, it's just that one may have made the majority of people feel a sense of "justice") That is why we have a judicial system; to judge individual cases. There was a story in the news about a man who murdered a guy that was raping his daughter on his property. He faced no punishments for that murder.

All that being said- Homosexuality WAS seen as a sin, because not many people are or were homosexual. (3.5% of the adult population) People that are different SCARE the majority, especially in uneducated populations, or ones living by "archaic laws" that WERE MEANT FOR A DIFFERENT MILLENNIUM *Cough* Bible *cough*. Today, most people know that these individuals feel attracted to and genuinely love their partners. They are biologically born that way. I dare say it brings them great PAIN to be told their homosexual acts are wrong, that their source of pleasure is "bad". When they are LOVING EACH OTHER. Really, there is so much more to it than that, but that should get you started in the correct direction.
Your argument would also assert that handicapped people are "bad" because they do not function like the majority.
Posted by Jabuticaba 2 years ago
Jabuticaba
687 comments, woah
Posted by birdlandmemories 2 years ago
birdlandmemories
Wonderful debate. I'm the 32,00th viewer.
Posted by TheLastMan 2 years ago
TheLastMan
Awesome debate.
Posted by thg 3 years ago
thg
Thanks for the debate. I'm new to this site and would like to join or create a debate related to this topic. I have gleaned some hints as to how to do this by perusing the site, but I'm still uncertain about some things (how to establish opening parameters, etc.). Is there a guide for us beginners, or do we simply learn by doing? If this is not the place to ask such questions, can anyone advise me on where I should go? Thanks!
Posted by Dragonfang 3 years ago
Dragonfang
How did WriterDave win with these arguments?
SMH...
Since when was an emotional argument won by logic?

"Feelings are not supposed to be logical. Dangerous is the man who has rationalized his emotions." David Borenstein
54 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by Jake2daBone 4 years ago
Jake2daBone
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Reasons for voting decision: Con had way better arguments, and Pro put argument in his sources, so he loses sources and conduct. I had my votes in for Pro insead of Con, and I was CVB'd, so I'll just zero out my vote.
Vote Placed by HmblySkTrth 4 years ago
HmblySkTrth
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Reasons for voting decision: There is no reason to insist that every act we do must serve some purpose, and there is nothing immoral about intimate, consenting adults giving each other pleasure. Pro fails to show any non-circular, objective reason to say homosexuality is wrong. And Con made that clear. Since homosexuals cannot be intimate with people of the opposite sex, there is a better case to say it is immoral to deny homosexuals any opportunity for a happy marriage.
Vote Placed by CalvinAndHobbes 4 years ago
CalvinAndHobbes
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro failed to demonstrate a separation between his claims and subjective-ism. Con's objection "Pro has failed to define his moral terms in a non-circular manner" was unrefuted by any given evidence during the debate.
Vote Placed by YYW 4 years ago
YYW
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Reasons for voting decision: It goes without saying that many arguments presented various challenges -most of which were self imposed and many of which were unnecessary- to both debaters. While both debaters presented strong cases, it was because con overwhelmed the BOP incumbent to pro’s conception of morality (from a range of perspectives) that won him this debate. The blow-by-blow will be outlined in the comment section. EDIT: COUNTER Gileandos.
Vote Placed by Ixaax 4 years ago
Ixaax
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Reasons for voting decision: Counter to Jake2abone until RFD provided. Counter this if RFD is provided.
Vote Placed by Xerge 4 years ago
Xerge
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Reasons for voting decision: Counter Hyperion until RFD can be provided
Vote Placed by Wnope 4 years ago
Wnope
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro's arguments on teleology and "biological normativity" conflated applied morality with meta-ethics. Pro proclaimed he would not rest his case on God and ended up doing so. Poor attempt to circumvent ground "ought" in biology.
Vote Placed by Davididit 4 years ago
Davididit
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Reasons for voting decision: See link for RFD: http://pastebin.com/zS5N9TsC
Vote Placed by Hyperion1 4 years ago
Hyperion1
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Reasons for voting decision: RFD forthcoming.
Vote Placed by MouthWash 4 years ago
MouthWash
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Reasons for voting decision: Con's arguments were fallacious and in many cases he outright ignored Pro's arguments (e.g. handstands). Conduct to Pro because of the last round.