Individuals have a moral obligation to assist people in need.
These codes of conduct are inherently subjective and vary from society to society. We of course aspire to find universal moral norms that appeal to all people. There are few standards that appeal to most rational societies. One of these standards is the aim to diminish or eliminate human suffering.
Bernard Gert explains, "It is possible for a society to regard morality as being concerned primarily with minimizing the harms, e.g., pain and disability, that all human beings can suffer. Such a society might claim that their morality, in which minimizing the harms that all human beings can suffer is the primary concern, is based on some universal features of human nature or of all rational beings. Although all societies include more than this in their moralities, this feature of morality, unlike purity and sanctity, or accepting authority and emphasizing loyalty, is included in everything that is regarded as a morality in all societies."(Bernard Gert, Professor of Moral Philosophy at Dartmouth College http://plato.stanford.edu...)
Because the reduction of human suffering is a central tenet of most if not every moral system, my value criterion is the minimization of human suffering. In short, the crux of my argument is that assisting others in need leads to a minimization of human suffering.
Before I proceed with my contentions, there are several key elements of the resolution I have yet to define.
Obligation- "something one is bound to do: duty, responsibility" (Merriam-Webster)
It is not the affirmative burden to prove that those who do not fulfill the moral obligation to assist people in need are immoral. It is only the affirmative burden to prove that they are not fulfilling certain moral obligations. Not fulfilling an obligation does not define a person as immoral.
These obligations are not absolute or binding. For example, I have an obligation as a student to complete homework assignments. Nevertheless, failing to submit an assignment could be excused if I was too sick to complete it, or there was a death in the family, or the instructions weren't clear. Similarly, there are situational factors that often exempt people from fulfilling moral obligations. For example, if I am a paraplegic, it is unreasonable to expect me to dive into an ocean to save someone from drowning. My disability exempts me from that responsibility. likewise, if a young child in Nebraska has a gun stuck to his head, and is being held for a $10 ransom. I don't have an obligation to save the child. On the other hand, if I am confronted by his captors and I can easily pay the ransom to prevent his death, I do have an obligation.
If the affirmative can prove that individuals have a moral obligation to assist others even in limited situations, they have fulfilled their burden.
Next, this resolution asks us to define moral obligations we currently observe. By affirming, you are simply declaring that people already possess these obligations, you are not creating new obligations they are bound to observe. Additionally, moral obligations are often not legally binding.
Need- "lack[ing] of the means of subsistence"(Merriam-Webster)
The framers of the resolution did not intend "need" to imply that we have a moral obligation to provide roller-skates to all those who are in "need" of a new pair. Rather, need is a term used to suggests providing "the minimum (as of food and shelter) necessary to support life"(definition of subsistence. Merriam-Webster).
In this context, the affirmative burden is to prove that individuals have an obligation to provide assistance in order to save lives. This obligation is limited to situations where individuals have the capacity to save lives. To give an example, if I know the Heimlich maneuver, and I am alone in a room with someone that is choking to death; I have a moral obligation to use my expertise to save that person's life. To do nothing is immoral.
Kant's Categorical imperative defines an individual's positive moral duties and obligations. His imperative entails a two part test that assesses whether an action should be considered a moral duty. The first part of the tests involves determining whether that action is universalizable. The second part of the test involves determining whether individuals are being exploited as a means to an end. Universalizing the expectation that people who possess the capacity should assist others in need is easily universalizable…
My first contention is that assisting others in need minimizes human suffering.
On July 12, 1968, LIFE Magazine's cover article gripped the country. On it was two small children suffering from unimaginable starvation. Since then, "Biafra" has been associated with starvation and catastrophe. Biafra was a Nigerian region that broke apart and caused a civil war. When pictures of emancipated children came out, the war was greatly publicized and protested.
Frederick Forsyth (a writer and author during the time who published two novels on this story) wrote "There were meetings, committees, protests, demonstrations, riots, lobbies, sit-ins, fasts, vigils, collections, banners, public meetings, marches, letters sent to everybody in public life capable of influencing other opinion, sermons, lectures, films and donations. Young people volunteered to go out and try to help, doctors and nurses did go out to offer their services in an attempt to relieve the suffering. Others offered to take Biafran babies into their homes for the duration of the war; some volunteered to fly or fight for Biafra. The donors are known to have ranged from old-age pensioners to the boys at Eton College."
In the Red Cross, $1.5 million were spent in Biafra alone. One million people died in the war or of famine. Without the aid from other countries, more people would have died. This is something that my opponent cannot deny. Saving the lives of those that faced this famine minimized human suffering.
Over 100,000 people are waiting for organ donations in the US. By donating an organ, a person can improve another life up to 80%. This is another example of how assistance can diminish human suffering.
My second contention is that not assisting others in need leads to greater human suffering.
In the early morning of March 13, 1964, Kitty Genovese was stabbed, raped, and robbed in front of her apartment. Some reports say that 38 people saw or heard her being stabbed or her screaming for help. But, little was done. A few called the police but, no one went outside to see if the young woman was alive. She died. Many of the witnesses couldn't explain why they didn't or they said that they were too tired to get involved. Kitty was in need and others did not help her. By assisting, they could of have stopped her suffering in a time of need.
Thank you for the opportunity.
I would like to begin with a few general observations of the first round arguments. A number of statements are made by Pro which, by his own admission, are subjective in nature. He also makes universal statements absent support. I will argue against his assumptions and put forth sufficient evidence to establish that the alleviation of suffering is a mischaracterization of the purpose of morals or morality, while affirming the construct that morals are not universal as a philosophical operant but particular, to both the individual and/or the group.
Let us begin with an absolute rejection of my opponent’s first source: "It is possible for a society to regard morality as being concerned primarily with minimizing the harms, e.g., pain and disability that all human beings can suffer. Such a society might claim that their morality, in which minimizing the harms that all human beings can suffer is the primary concern, is based on some universal features of human nature or of all rational beings. Although all societies include more than this in their moralities, this feature of morality, unlike purity and sanctity, or accepting authority and emphasizing loyalty, is included in everything that is regarded as a morality in all societies."(Bernard Gert,…) (emp. Added)
I shall remove subordinate clauses, examples, and superfluous to the point, material and rephrase the above. A society, or individual, regarding morality, concerned with minimizing harm is Possible. It is equally possible that the society would have no regard for any morality, and value suffering, the Puritans come to mind.
The society might claim, or might not, that their morality, or lack thereof, is based upon universal features of human nature. A society might equally claim that either a) some humans are not human and suffering is irrelevant; b) some humans are greater than others and deserve less suffering; c) suffering means the humans are evil.
This feature of morality is included in everything that is regarded as morality in ALL societies. I think the feature of which the learned professor refers is suffering or alleviation, he claims it is UNIVERSAL, and then qualifies the universal to the Particular and claims since all societies claim this is the case, the fallacy of the universal, (the US makes no such claim) it IS the case.I am sure Dr. Gert is well qualified as a teacher, but the above quote indicates he may be confused. A source, must be accepted as authoritative by either both parties of a debate, or established as authoritative through facts. Dr. Gert is neither, ergo not a qualified authority and in the alternative the citation fails miserably. Morals are probably, and certainly possibly, concerned with behavior not effect. Any other use of the suffering argument is herewith rendered moot. (US definition meaning, not open to debate)
I reject my opponent’s definition of need(s) and offer Maslow’s hierarchy as the more accurate, and certainly, for a morals debate, more appropriate than Webster’s. (abrahammaslow.com, though this is considered common knowledge) I reject Life magazine as a source for morality and certainly reject a novelist on the grounds that ad populem reasoning is fallacious. I reject all numerical statements as an attempt at ad populem and lacking a Source. Cite the red Cross if you wish, but only to support the Red Cross. It is still ad populem reasoning.
“My second contention is that not assisting others in need leads to greater human suffering.
Is the above from the fiction writer? It is also ad populem.
My opponent has failed to a) establish that any moral, regulator or operant, is universal; b) that if it were it concerns itself with effect; c)that any of the factual information in his position is true correct and accurate; or that d) his construct of morals should be accepted over Maslow’s The rape of a woman, though illegal in many societies, is accepted as just in many other. It is also irrelevant to the universality of morals. (appeal to emotion)
Sources Relied Upon
Maslow’s Hierarchy Self-actualization is the highest need, and include Morals.
Aristotle’s Logic, specifically fallacies. Logicalfallacies.info has good information
mermar forfeited this round.
mermar forfeited this round.
she is no longer with us.