The Instigator
Con (against)
4 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
0 Points

Individuals have a moral obligation to assist those in need

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/2/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 721 times Debate No: 48176
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (6)
Votes (1)




Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, please don't fool me twice.

Resolved: Individuals have a moral obligation to assist.

Standard LD debate. All the usual arguments and cases associated with LD are fine by me.

Standard debate conventions (lets try to be civil, even though I'll probably break this one >.>), no new arguments in the final round, etc. etc.

Sources and citations may be posted via an outside source (either in the comments or in some other method that you can link to us) if you need the extra characters. I plan on utilizing this, so I might as well offer the same curtousy to my opponent as well.

I'm gonna take a risk and make this open to whoever can snatch this up first. To whomever accepts, please do not make me regret doing this. I was totally and 100% buttf*cked by doing this last time and the debate was....awful. Please don't subject me to this again.

First round will be for acceptance only.
Second Round for cases and rebuttals for pro.
Third round for rebuttals and defenses.
Final round for conclusions and such.


I accept, thank Pro for hosting this debate, and look forward to your argument.
Debate Round No. 1


To negate is to deny the truth of, so the aff burden is to prove that individuals have a moral obligation to assist people in need. If the aff can’t prove that individuals have moral obligations to those in need, you negate. My thesis is that individuals do not have moral obligations, especially to people in need.

CONTENTION 1: Ontology. The affirmative relies on individuals having a moral obligation but individuals don’t exist in the sense they say they do. I don’t deny that there are physical entities but individual identity doesn’t exist thus neither does a moral code apply to an individual. Thompson:

“A perceived object … is experienced … as a unity. It is given as one integrated thing that has other sides than the side currently perceived –otherwise it would be only a two dimensional appearance, a facade. In experiencing it as real, I perceive it as more than what appears from my current perspective … the unity of the thing is paralleled by the unity of the perceiving body – the "lived body" or "body-subject." … The seeing from different perspectives, the tasting, the hearing, etc. must all be done by the one, unified experiencing body. I must be one body for the cup to be experienced as one, real thing. … I am not currently seeing the cup from the other side; it is the potential for the body to look at it from other sides that constitutes the cup with the meaning "real object," as opposed to a mere appearance. … the lived body is not itself an object perceived. It is on the side of the perceiving.”

This means a) individuals are mearly the extension of perception and b) there is no abstract individual acting based on ethics but rather only the unification of the lived body. Even if individuals do exist, this identity isn’t static and can’t be said to have a moral obligation. We can’t have normative claims about an individual. White:

“ontologies emerge from the conjunction of two insights: acceptance of the idea thata ll fundamental conceptualizations of self, … are contestable, and awareness that such conceptualizations are nevertheless unavoidable for any sort of reflective ethical and political life. … ontologies do not proceed by categorical positings of … human nature or telos … Rather, they offer figurations of human being in terms of certain existential realities, … These figurations are accounts of what it is to be a certain sort of creature: one entangled with language; conscious that it will die; possessing, despite its entanglement and limitedness, the capacity for radical novelty; and, finally, giving definition to itself against some ultimate background or "source" that evokes awe, wonder, or reverence”

This negates the truth of the resolution because a) individual identity doesn’t exist and thus the resolutional statement individuals have a moral obligation is non-sensical and b) even if individuals did exist they would be incapable of having moral obligation because the contents of their agency is always changing. And this precludes the AC because the way we construct the individual is a prerequisite to having moral obligations. Butler:

“before we can speak about a self who is capable of choice, we must first consider how that self is formed … the sphere in which the subject is said to emerge is ‘‘ontological’’ in the sense that the phenomenal world of persons and things becomes available only after a self has been formed … To describe this scene is to take leave of the descriptive field in which a ‘‘self ’’ is formed and bounded in one place and time and considers its ‘‘objects’’ and ‘‘others’’ in their locatedness elsewhere. The possibility of [ethics] … presumes … the self and its … world have … been constituted,”

CONTENTION 2: Epistemology. I will defend that inductive reasoning is false. Propositions can only be deemed true based on breaking down the proposition but the parts of a propositions are non-verifiable and can never said to be true. Wittgenstein:

“Propositions … are … products … of simpler propositions … We must eventually reach the ultimate connection of the terms, the immediate connection which cannot be broken without destroying the propositional form as such. … They … are the kernels of every proposition, … On plane I figures are drawn … ellipses and rectangles of different sizes and shapes, and it is our task to produce images of these figures on plane II … We lay down the rule that every ellipse on plane I is to appear as a circle in plane II, and every rectangle as a square in II … from these images the exact shapes of the original figures on plane I cannot be immediately inferred. We can only gather from them that the original was an ellipse or a rectangle. … The case of ordinary language is quite analogous. If the facts of reality are the ellipses and rectangles on plane I the subject-predicate and relational forms correspond to the circles and squares in plane II.”

CONTENTION 3: Metaethics. Metaethics precludes normative ethics since it determines the nature of moral statements. A standard without metaethical justifications is literally unwarranted. I defend the metaethical view of error theory, which contends that all moral statements are false.

a) Relativity - moral statements are false because there are variations of moral codes relative to distinct cultures. Mackie:

“The argument from relativity has as its premise the … variation in moral codes from one society to another … and … the differences in moral beliefs between … groups … within a complex com­munity … radical differences between … moral judgments make it difficult to treat … [them] as apprehensions of objective truths. … Disagreement about moral codes seems to reflect people's … participation in different ways of life. … moral heretics and … reformers … have turned against the established rules … of their own communities for moral reasons, and often for moral reasons that we would endorse. But this can … be understood as the extension … of rules to which they already adhered as arising out of an existing way of life.”

Thus, because moral statements differ between cultures, there is no reason to believe that there is any objective moral truth.

b) Queerness - humans do not have the moral faculty to know objective moral truths, therefore our moral statements are false. Mackie 2:

“the argument from queerness … has two parts, one metaphysical, the other epistemological. If there were ob­jective values, then they would be … qualities … of a very strange sort, utterly different from anything else in the universe. … if we were aware of them, it would have to be by some special faculty of moral perception or intuition, utterly different from our ordinary ways of knowing everything else. … none of our ordinary accounts of sensory perception or introspection or the framing and confirming of explanatory hypotheses or inference or logical construction of conceptual analysis, or any combination of these, will provide a satisfactory answer, [—] a special sort of intuition is a lame answer”

Because morality functions on a higher level than any other object or faculty we can understand, our moral statements are always insufficient to prove an objective truth.

CONTENTION 4: Normativity. I defend the act-omission distinction, which holds that inactions have a different moral status than actions.

a) Positive obligations require an infinite obligation from an actor, while negative obligations are dischargeable. Trammel:

“it is possible for a person not to inflict serious physical injury on any other person. … that in no case is it possible for a person to aid everyone who needs help. The positive duty to … help those in need sets a maximum ethic which could never let us rest … But it is a rare case when we must really exert ourselves to keep from killing a person.”

Positive obligations are thus always insufficient, meaning there is no moral reason to adhere to them.

b) If one violates a negative obligation by harming another, they have eliminated all possibilities that the person may avoid the harm. However, if they fail to uphold a positive obligation, it is still possible that something else will happen to prevent the harm to the person. Trammel 2:

“Some actions … destroy a good … whereas other actions do not destroy … the option of realizing the good in question. Suppose that the continuation of x’s life is good. Then obviously if someone kills x, not only does the killer fail to contribute toward the realization of this good; he also closes everyone else’s option to do so. … A positive duty is the duty to do an action to bring about a certain good, which someone else might also have the option to bring about.”

c) Any goal-based moral theory (such as the AC’s) must revolve around what may not be done, rather than what may. Mackie 3:

“A plausible … good … would have to be … activity. It could not be just … a termination of pursuit. … choose successively to pursue various activities from time to time, not once and for all. … morality as a source of constraints on conduct cannot be based on such comparative evaluations. … if we set out to formulate a goal-based moral theory, but in identifying the goal try to take adequate account … that there is not one goal but indefinitely many diverse goals, and that they are the objects of progressive … choices, then our theory will change … into a right-based one.”

If the act-omission distinction is true, then you negate since all omissions are permissible and the NC is an omission to help those in need. We can’t have a moral obligation to assist those in need since not helping them is an omission, which doesn’t have any moral status. The only thing that can be immoral is an action, which is the AC. This answers back and precludes the harms of the AC since we cannot be responsible for the suffering of people who we do not actively harm.




Truthorfiction forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


Really? Fool me twice? Come on DDO.


Truthorfiction forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


One debate. Just one, simple debate. That's all I want from you fools and I get this >.>


Truthorfiction forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by Truthorfiction 4 years ago
Yes, the link works.
Posted by Zaradi 4 years ago
Check the source link to make sure it works. It worked for me before I posted it but just want to make sure you have access to it as well.
Posted by The_Scapegoat_bleats 4 years ago
A simple "No" woud have sufficed.
Have it your way, I'm out.
Posted by Zaradi 4 years ago
Also, if you can find a way to incorporate statistics into a debate about philosophy, I would say you're just source-bombing the debate and that statistics aren't even necessary for a philosophy debate to begin with.

And I'm sorry that I use other people's logic (with proper citations, so no it actually isn't plagiarism), to make the arguments I'm using stronger? I don't really get what you're saying.

If you don't like the way I debate, the exit's that way.
Posted by Zaradi 4 years ago
How is quoting philosophers Argument from Authority? I'm citing the logic and reasoning they use in their arguments. Would you rather I take credit for their arguments?
Posted by The_Scapegoat_bleats 4 years ago
I'll take this debate if we can agree on the fact that the opinion and reasoning of any philosophist who tackled the topic before can not be admissible as evidence due to the "argumentum ad autoritatem" fallacy.

If this is going to be a philosophical debate the instigator should be obligated to offer more than copied paragraphs from other people's opinions. You may quote them to clarify your own arguments, but COPYING WHOLE ARGUMENTS is just plagiarism, nothing else.

I'm absolutely fine with a philosophical argument, without burden of proof for any deduction or syllogism, just logical reasoning, based on commonly known facts.

But any factual statement has to be backed up. And not with opinions of other thinkers who came before you. With statistics, eye-witness reports, anything.

The audience will then decide on whose argumentation is more coherent, and that will be the end of it.

If you agree to these terms, I will face you on even ground and pull this through.
I followed your other attempt at this debate, and I must say you were downright boring, with the text walls of other authors you quoted, with little own content presented to connect these. If you want to take this same route again, then indeed: shame on you.

So: do you have anything to say yourself?
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Krazzy_Player 4 years ago
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: FF