The Instigator
000ike
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
bencbartlett
Pro (for)
Winning
7 Points

If a tree falls down, and no one hears it...

Do you like this debate?NoYes+1
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
bencbartlett
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/8/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,101 times Debate No: 24648
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (7)
Votes (2)

 

000ike

Con

Full Resolution: If a tree falls down and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

This is mostly for fun, and doesn't need to be heavily sourced. Con will argue that the tree makes no sound. Pro will argue that it does.

2,000 character limit. Round 1 is for acceptance
bencbartlett

Pro

I accept my opponent's challenge. As this round is purely for acceptance, I shall take the time to provide a few definitions, as my opponent has not provided these definitions.

Sound: "mechanical vibrations transmitted through an elastic medium,traveling in air at a speed of approximately
1087 feet (331meters) per second at sea level." [1]

Fall: "to drop or descend under the force of gravity, as to a lower place through loss or lack of support." [2]

I look forward to an interesting, if not quirky, debate, and wish my opponent good luck.

===References===
[1] http://dictionary.reference.com...
[2] http://dictionary.reference.com...;
Debate Round No. 1
000ike

Con


Thank you for accepting, bencbartlett, and welcome to DDO.

To start, I reject my opponent's definition of a sound. It is insufficient to describe a quale in purely physical terms, since it has significance beyond its physicality. What I mean is, a sound isn't just a mechanical vibration, but a perceived and mentally interpreted sensation. More accurately described by dualist Frank C. Jackson, the sensation of sound is "..[a certain feature] of the bodily sensations... which no amount of purely physical information includes."(http://instruct.westvalley.edu...)

Red is not still red to one who is color blind...despite the fact that it is the same light wave. A flavorful pizza isn't actually flavorful on the palette of one without taste buds...despite the fact that the spices are still there. A sensation is a mentally processed experience caused by a physical catalyst, and cannot be accurately accounted for using only a physical description.

Therefore, what my opponent describes is a sound wave,...not a sound. A conscious being must be present to interpret and sense the wave in order for it to be considered the latter. The conclusion follows, if a tree falls and no one hears it, it produced a sound wave, but made no sound.

bencbartlett

Pro

To begin with, had my opponent wished to argue the definition of sound, he should have provided a definition in his original submission. As he failed to do so, by implication inviting me to add a definition, I will continue arguing the definition of sound which I provided, namely: "mechanical vibrations transmitted through an elastic medium,traveling in air at a speed of
approximately 1087 feet (331 meters) per second at sea level."

Furthermore, the way in which my opponent phrased the topic of the debate suggests this definition of sound. He chose to title the debate "If a tree falls down and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?", not "If a tree falls down and no one is there to hear it, is a sound heard?" My opponent offered no definition or clarification of his own on the definition of a sound, and gave no information to indicate that he was arguing the definition or metaphysics of a sound. The focus of this debate will therefore be on whether a falling tree emits a sound.

Furthermore, I would challenge my opponent's differentiation between a sound and a sound wave. Let us consider, for the moment, a parallel analogy, only using light instead of sound. Anyone who has had some form of modern physics will know that when an electron decays in its energy level, it releases a photon to conserve energy and momentum. Simply because the photon is not observed or seen by a human being is not sufficient to say that said photon does not exist, as maintaining so would violate the laws of conservation of energy and momentum. Likewise, it is obviously not physically possible for a tree to fall to the ground without producing some form of mechanical vibration.

Furthermore, my opponent did not mention any reference on non-human beings, such as animals, hearing the tree fall. Obviously, many animals also have some form of hearing, and this possible counterargument was not precluded in his original resolution. I would continue this argument, but it appears I am out of space.

Debate Round No. 2
000ike

Con

The definition of "sound" is the subject of this debate, and thus must be argued.

Pro's distinction between a sound "heard" and sound "made" is incorrect. This is the resolution he would prefer: "If a tree falls down and no one hears it, did anyone hear it?". Obviously not. What makes this famous question debatable is the difference between a a physical thing and its perceived manifestation, and whether that thing has a full identity if it never reaches perception. In other words, is a sound really a sound if it is never perceived as such?

My opponent's analogy about atomic decay and the emission of light falls under the same vain. Light is consciously interpreted in the form of colors, and thus has significance beyond its photonic physical manifestation. Red is not red, if no being sees it as such,...it is merely a light wave. The argument here is that light has a non-physical identity called "color"....and therefore cannot be fully described with a purely physical description. Suppose that "red" is defined as: The electromagnetic wave with the longest wavelength and smallest frequency on the visible light spectrum. That really doesn't take into account the vibrant sensation of color that we consciously perceive, does it?

Likewise, describing sound as a mechanical vibration does not take into account our conscious perception of a sound. A tree will certainly produce a sound wave if it falls,... however, with no being to perceive and interpret it as a sound, it lacks that essential quality that makes it even fathomable and recognizable as such. Thus, the unheard sound is not a sound at all, but a mechanical wave and nothing more.

To my opponent's contention about animals: the term "no one" refers to anything with the ability to interpret sound.

Conclusion: Creatures sense things when a physical catalyst causes a mental sensation. However, the physical catalyist is not, itself, the mental sensation. Therefore a mechanical vibration is not a sound if no one hears it.

bencbartlett

Pro

===Indirect Measurement===

First, I take issue with my opponent’s statement that “red light is not red, if no being sees it as such.” Red light is defined as any photon emitted with a wavelength from 620-750 nanometers. [1] Even if no "being" senses the light, the wavelength, and thereby the color, of the light can still be known by observing the effects it has on materials, such as the photoelectric effect, or by physically measuring the wavelength of the light using a frequency-sensitive photodiode.

===Non-Universal Sensations===

A semiotic theory called umwelt essentially states that due to the differing ways animals process information, the sensations they feel about their environments will be drastically different. Applying this argument now to sound, rather than to light, people with synesthesia associated with their sense of hearing will interpret sound differently than other human beings. Obviously, however, both other animals and synesthetics react to sound, thus "hear" it, but the way they interpret sound is unique to the animal or individual.

Should the English language, therefore, develop thousands of definitions of sound, each matching the interpretation of a new individual? It is here that my opponent’s argument is flawed: if one is to include sensation in the definition of sound, there can be no universal definition of sound. The only truly universal definition of sound is a set of mechanical vibrations traveling through an elastic medium.

This debate has a shared burden of proof. Pro has submitted a definition of sound which can be considered universal in nature, while the only “universal” definition Con can submit is “The set of all possible sensations triggered by vibration.” Along this line of logic, considering the possible ways creatures may interpret sound, sound can be defined more succinctly as “anything”. Vote Pro.

===References===

[1] http://www2.chemistry.msu.edu...

Debate Round No. 3
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by phantom 4 years ago
phantom
Con won this and I agree with his side.
Posted by 000ike 4 years ago
000ike
I was playing devils advocate actually,..curious how qualia would work against this popular question. :p
Posted by CarlosMarti123 4 years ago
CarlosMarti123
A person with Daniel Dennett in their avatar arguing for qualia? What has the world come to?!

Just kidding : ) I do think the terms should have been clearly defined at the start, however.
Posted by 000ike 4 years ago
000ike
Not that I expect you to change your vote Wallstreet, but I wasn't "lawyering" for anything. The definition of a sound is basically the whole debate...and I was trying to prove that a sound has 2 parts to its existence. And also, the argument that seemed to have determined your vote, about the universal definition of a sound, was introduced in round 3. So I couldn't have responded to it. At the very least, that argument should have been ignored. All in all, your vote doesn't seem all that fair...
Posted by Chrysippus 4 years ago
Chrysippus
If a tree falls on a mime in a forest, does he make a sound?
Posted by 000ike 4 years ago
000ike
what position are you taking?
Posted by TUF 4 years ago
TUF
Ill debate this
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Wallstreetatheist 4 years ago
Wallstreetatheist
000ikebencbartlettTied
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 Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Con attempted to limit the "does it make a sound" phrase of the resolution to mental sensations of conscious beings. Pro shut this down with his statement, "if one is to include sensation in the definition of sound, there can be no universal definition of sound." Pro's definition of sound was accepted as valid; round one is for definitions. Ike's further lawyering of the definition of sound robbed the debate of some potential; however, Pro managed to squeeze in a few interesting arguments.
Vote Placed by Maikuru 4 years ago
Maikuru
000ikebencbartlettTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Describing sound as a physical manifestation of movement may not take into account human interpretation of this movement but I'm not convinced that this matters. Individual interpretation exists independently of the actual movement and does nothing to diminish it. Pro's light analogy works for the same reason. Making a sound and perceiving a sound differ and with that, Pro takes arguments.