The Instigator
wrichcirw
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
rross
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

Insulting someone by calling them a liar is materially different from other insults

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/6/2013 Category: Society
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 9,800 times Debate No: 34566
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (242)
Votes (1)

 

wrichcirw

Pro

This topic originated from long, tedious discussions between PRO/CON. I adamantly stick to PRO on this position, whereas CON is not fully convinced. This debate aims to further convince CON of PRO's case.

Resolution:

Insulting someone by calling them a liar is materially different from other insults.



Definitions:


liar
noun
a person who tells lies.
http://dictionary.reference.com...

lie
noun
a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth; a
falsehood.prevarication, falsification. truth.
http://dictionary.reference.com...

insult
noun
an insolent or contemptuously rude action or remark; affront.
http://dictionary.reference.com...


I will add that a "lie" for the purposes of this debate would be an assertion the truth value of which cannot be determined. It cannot be automatically taken for granted that whatever a liar states is categorically false, as by assuming such, truth value can be determined. Example:

1+1 =/= 2

Without this additional stipulation, if a liar stated the above, then we would know that 1+1=2. By adding the stipulation, all we know is that 1+1 =/= 2 cannot be taken at face value, that it could be true or it could be false.


Rules:

The rules on this debate will be somewhat unique in order to prove the point:

1) For the purposes of this debate (and only for the purposes of this debate), CON is a liar. I have the highest regards for CON's personal integrity...this particular rule in the debate is a strict hypothetical.
2) CON will begin Round #1 by stating exactly "Begin your case." This is because CON will be incapable of accepting this debate by stating "I accept," as CON is a liar.
3) This debate will be judged on the strict basis of Tabula Rasa, meaning that what is stated in the debate (including round #1) will be taken as prima facie true...unless of course one side is deemed a liar. Refer to rule #1.

I hope this proves to be an interesting thought experiment.

---

This will be a NO SCORING debate. I ask that anyone who reads this debate not assign points to either side, although as always you are more than welcome to participate in discussion, further debate, and to leave an opinion as to who you thought was the victor.

This is not a trial, and thus the weight of the verdict is not important. What is important is to determine which case is more convincing.

---

3 rounds, 4,000 characters per round.
rross

Con

Begin your case.
Debate Round No. 1
wrichcirw

Pro

lol, I thank CON for playing along, and I do hope this proves to be constructive.

Before I begin, because of the rules stated in round #1, I immediately move to dismiss any and all arguments, assertions, and conclusions that CON will proffer in this debate. This is because, as stated in round #1, CON is a liar, and so the truth value of any statement CON makes cannot be determined. There is no one to say otherwise, and as was specific in round #1, this debate is to be judged on the basis of Tabula Rasa, meaning that whatever is said in the debate is to be taken as prima facie true...except for anything CON says.

In fact, if I were CON, I'd just forfeit the subsequent rounds; it is pointless for CON to spend any significant time forwarding an argument that cannot be taken as true. If CON does continue to argue, I will simply reassert this statement. Note that my statement simply restates #1 assumptions, and so is indisputable for the purposes of this debate.

Now that that pleasant business is over...

---

Insults come in all flavors, from trivial, unrealistic statements like poopiehead to more serious charges like "you talk like a five-year-old". Many are simply expressions of frustration, spoken at the heat of the moment to convey the feelings of the one lobbing insults. Sometimes, they are calculated statements meant to incite...this easily fits the definition of trolling. All of them are attacks against the other party...any and all insults are ad hominem attacks by definition. They do not forward any arguments, and are wholly unconstructive to debating.

Calling someone a liar is archetypal of the underlined. As anyone can see, the way this debate was set up, it's not a really a debate. It's simply me proffering a long-winded monologue, because CON is deemed a liar for the purposes of this debate, and thus any arguments CON may proffer cannot be validated. This is definitional, and in this debate, undebatable. Also note how by calling CON a liar, I've yet to forward any arguments that substantiate BoP for my position. Indeed, I've yet to actually forward a case at this point.



So what is my case?

Calling someone a liar is materially different from other insults, because other insults not questioning the validity of the other party's statements would allow for the other party to defend him/herself in whatever argumentative manner that person saw fit. Given the concept of Tabula Rasa which is more or less standard on this website given the unpredictability of the audience's background, it's not possible to argue against such a charge, because the other party's statements cannot be verified - for example, CON is incapable of defending herself if the charge of being a liar is taken at face value, which it is in this debate.

Let's say CON brought in outside sources. Those sources could be verified for truth value, but not any statements, arguments, or conclusions CON would draw from them. Even if CON were to paraphrase or quote her sources, it would be the sources that are held valid, and not any statements CON would make referencing them. Why? Because CON is a liar, and truth value cannot be determined from her statements. Again, this is a round #1 assertion. CON simply cannot argue a position, because CON is a liar.

What about other people vouching for CON? Any and all comments made outside of this debate hold no relevance to the matters within this debate. Therefore, other people vouching for CON also becomes impossible within the confines of this venue.



Conclusion:

Lying is a serious insult. It is different from other insults just like how AIDS is different from other diseases. It robs the ability of the inflicted from defending him/herself, and makes it exceptionally easy for even the weakest of arguments/diseases to prevail against the inflicted. AIDS is easily seen by many as the world's most deadliest disease; similarly, the charge of lying is the most serious of insults on this website, and should not be bantered about irresponsibly.
rross

Con

Please think about the following questions.

Can a question be a lie?
Can an instruction be a lie?

How much, in debating, do we rely on our assessment of participants' characters when judging debates? Would we accept their bare assertions or would we need logic and evidence to convince us?

What difference does knowing I'm a liar make when you're reading this? Are you reading it more critically and carefully, for example? Is that a good or a bad thing?

Look at Pro's definition of a lie: an assertion the truth value of which cannot be determined. It cannot be automatically taken for granted that whatever a liar states is categorically false...

How is that different from any other unsupported statement that might be offered in a debate?

Wouldn't you always keep in mind the possibility that a debater might be, if not lying, exaggerating, misrepresenting or simply mistaken about the truth? Do you even believe in "truth" as such?

How is your reading relationship with me altered by the knowledge that I'm a liar? If it's not altered very much, consider what the word "liar" is. Is it anything more than an expression of disapproval and hostility?

If it is not, please conclude that it is an insult of the most ordinary kind.
Debate Round No. 2
wrichcirw

Pro

As I stated before:

I immediately move to dismiss any and all arguments, assertions, and conclusions that CON proffers in this debate.
This is because, as stated in round #1, CON is a liar, and so the truth value of any statement CON makes cannot be determined. There is no one to say otherwise, and as was specific in round #1, this debate is to be judged on the basis of Tabula Rasa, meaning that whatever is said in the debate is to be taken as prima facie true...except for anything CON says.

Since CON has no valid arguments, CON has not offered a valid rebuttal against my round #2 case. Extend all of my arguments.
I've made it clear that even the simplest of assertions such as 1+1=2 cannot be determined to be true if uttered by a liar. They can only be determined to be true if uttered by someone else.

It is also implied in the rules listed in round #1 that a liar is not someone that lies only once. It is someone for whom the truth value of any assertion, argument, and conclusion cannot be determined.

Perjury is a serious offense. Perjury applies to someone who has lied only once under oath. A liar by definition would commit perjury by uttering any assertion, argument, or conclusion under oath. In order for a liar to avoid committing perjury, a liar would have to be completely silent. Even attempts to "plead the fifth" would be taken as lies. If any question is asked to the liar, the liar will either have to commit perjury, or be held in contempt of the court by not answering. The liar cannot win.

---

I will now answer some questions brought to my attention.

"Can a question be a lie?"

"Can an instruction be a lie?"

We could get quite philosophical here, that anyone using language or semantics is making arguments and conclusions...after all, the statement "Write down 1+1=2" assumes the English language and mathematics as givens, and concludes that "Write down 1+1=2" has a certain, comprehensible meaning. If we want to get at this philosophical level, then even questions and instructions uttered by a liar cannot be validated for truth value, and so CON would be left with no means to communicate.

What about this debate then? Did CON actually accept this debate? Does CON even exist for the purposes of this debate? Does this debate even exist? I would say yes to all of these questions, after all, I am evidently debating CON - just that CON is a liar, and thus cannot make valid arguments. CON did accept this debate by pressing the "accept" button, regardless of CON following the rules in round #1.



"Wouldn't you always keep in mind the possibility that a debater might be - if not lying outright - then exaggerating, misrepresenting or simply mistaken about the truth?"

Yes. IMHO one should always keep that in mind. The key though is that if someone is not a liar, then their statements CAN be validated. Verification simply is not possible if the intent to tell the truth simply is not there, which of course is the definition of a liar. We would be unable to determine if the liar is actually utilizing basic assumptions such as the English language as givens. Liars simply cannot communicate anything valid, or truthful.

This is how I understand the word "liar" to mean in civilized discourse. This is why the charge of lying is so taboo in most cultures. Joe Wilson apologized and was publicly rebuked by Congress not because he made an outburst, but because his outburst consisted of only two words: "YOU LIE!"
http://tinyurl.com...

---

I will answer further questions in the comments section. As it is, this "debate" is over. Again, CON has made no valid arguments in this debate, and will not be able to make any valid arguments in this debate. I could say that "Insulting someone by calling them a liar is materially different from other insults" is true simply because I say so, which is the weakest of arguments, but because CON cannot argue against it, I would meet BoP with such a statement and win this debate.
rross

Con

Everything I say in this round is a suggestion for the reader's consideration. For simplicity, I will present these suggestions as statements.

Pro said:

"I immediately move to dismiss any and all arguments, assertions, and conclusions that CON will proffer...If CON does continue to argue, I will simply reassert this statement." (my emphasis)

Pro has declared that he will move to dismiss my arguments, whatever I say, so we know how Pro will respond. In fact, he has already responded. Therefore the usual concerns about right of reply are irrelevant, and I may (and will) present new arguments in this final round.

***

Pro said that "even questions and instructions uttered by a liar cannot be validated for truth value, and so CON would be left with no means to communicate."

Ironically, Pro was responding to the questions I posed in this debate. He repeated them, and then tried to answer them, thereby proving that they do have value and I do have means to communicate.

His behavior directly contradicts his words.

Further, Pro said "If CON does continue to argue, I will simply reassert this statement." This has been contradicted by his behavior in round 2.

Therefore, despite Pro's round 1 protestations, we cannot assume that everything he says is true. His statements cannot be taken at face value. He has made both true and false statements in this debate so far.

With great reluctance, I must ask readers to compare Pro's inconsistencies with his definitions in round 1. In particular:

"a "lie" for the purposes of this debate would be an assertion the truth value of which cannot be determined."

Liar: a person who tells lies

If you do conclude that Pro has lied (and is therefore a liar, according to the structure he proposed in round 1), then all his arguments, instructions and questions must be dismissed, including those in round 1.

Such a rejection of arguments is more devastating for Pro than for me because he has the Burden of Proof. If his arguments don't hold up, then it makes no difference whether mine do or not. He has failed to uphold his burden.

Although, I suppose, if even his round 1 instructions are to be dismissed, then that whole artificial "con is a liar" scaffolding has gone, and both sides to this debate should be judged in the normal way, on merit.

"Liar" is an archetypal insult

Most of debating is triggering knowledge and associations that readers already possess. For example, in a debate about abortion, Pro could use terms such as "freedom", "my body", "religious fanatics". Con could use terms like "protect the innocent", "baby", "murder".

It doesn't matter who utters these words. They still have an effect on the reader, and they will trigger associations related to abortion. Actual arguments work the same way. They will be effective if that knowledge and those lines of argument already exist within the minds of readers.

Occasionally, a debater will present new information. She has to work harder to make this new information convincing. She will use sources and logic, she will make analogies with common ideas. The reader will not take this new information on trust. He will check it against his own understanding and he will check the logic and the sources given. If it isn't consistent with the knowledge he already possesses, he will reject it.

Thus, in the most courteous and objective way possible, readers assume that all debaters are liars, and that their arguments need to be supported. Therefore, characterizing someone as a "liar" does not add or detract in any meaningful way from the function of debating.

Of course, I don't like being called a liar. Even artificially, such as in the current debate, it makes me feel uncomfortable. That is because of the hostility and disrespect inherent in the insult. I would feel equally, or more, uncomfortable if I had to accept that I was a "slut" or a "bitch" for the duration of a debate.

As Pro has already conceded, calling someone a liar is an archetypal insult.
Debate Round No. 3
242 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by TUF 3 years ago
TUF
I kind of figured which was why I included the bit about subjectivity vs objectivity which is ultimately what this philosophy boiled down to IMO.
Posted by wrichcirw 3 years ago
wrichcirw
@TUF,

Obviously I would agree with you regarding impact outside the debate. If I understand your comments correctly, you're essentially saying that calling someone a liar is very difficult to substantiate, and I fully agree.

I would just want to emphasize that this debate was a thought experiment dealing with one specific situation. Similarly, the law of gravity when we learn it in a physics class is dealing with one specific situation, i.e. two objects in a void and how they accelerate towards each other. I fully agree that the CONTENT of this debate may be exceptionally difficult to directly apply to "real life"...but so would this law of gravity. The idea then becomes that the law of gravity in a void has significance once you add all the other external variables that constitute a realistic situation...similarly, the resolution of this debate has significance once you add all the other variables that constitute "real life".

Cheers, thanks for reading.
Posted by TUF 3 years ago
TUF
Interesting thoughts on the religious comment.
Posted by TUF 3 years ago
TUF
"discussion" in the comments, it by some means, demonstrates that subjective feedback is in some regaurds "important" rendering the point of objectivity demonstrated behind the Pro's point, useless. As many time as the Pro might tell me that I have no control over the principal of the debate, it doesn't matter. And if Pro were to engage with me, he would have instantly destroyed the premise in the value in the statement originally set up, as acutely pointed about by Con in the final round.

Thus, I am forced, and more than inclined to agree and side with Con in this, as much as my opinion doesn't influence the Pro's thoughts.
Posted by TUF 3 years ago
TUF
First off, very interesting, head spinning debate. Interesting way to turn the debate there in the end rross. While Pro will dismiss everything I have to say due to the Tabula Rasa, I will continue anyways.

Through the term used in round 1 where Pro says "purposes of this debate", I wonder what exact purpose there actually is. This was supposed to be an experiment, but if the experiment has no meaning, then the reason for this debates existence is also meaningless, as well as the Pro's ultimate point of the impact calling someone a liar has. Allow me to explain. The debate was set up in a way, to where Con had to agree to admit to being a liar in order to accept. Thus for the Tabula Rasa to be effective, we all must know that Con is a liar beforehand. So outside of this debate, if the contender doesn't willingly agree to be a liar, then it remains "up in the air" who is lying, outside of our own belief and verification as Con soundly stated in the final round. The philosophy comes in when we determine in R1 after reading this debate, if the rules of the debate take priority over the Pro's own definitions. If we believe that Pro is a liar suiting his own definitions, then by his own standards set forth in the debate, it becomes impossible to take even the rules set up at face value.

Beside the framework of the debate, I think the underlining point made by Pro is still inherently flawed. It is impossible to make an objective statement about another person's character, because the audience in any situation is not a Tabula Rasa. This also ties into a lot of the reasons that I follow subjectively strongly, as a preference to objectivity. Objectivity can never exist, because as in this debate experiment, it requires a determination of subjective feedback or opinion to determine the physical outcome of the winner. In this situation there was no physical outcome, outside of select people being asked to read this debate and comment on it. But based on the growing
Posted by wrichcirw 3 years ago
wrichcirw
Hmmm...actually, after thinking about that a bit...

Given how this debate is structured and using the language from the debate, I would say that a deist is someone who assumes the truth in all things, an agnostic is someone who assumes that everyone is a liar, and an atheist is someone who would deny such a thing as truth, thereby rendering a true/false distinction impossible.

Interesting...
Posted by wrichcirw 3 years ago
wrichcirw
@TUF,

lol, never thought about it that way. I'd probably be a deist or agnostic actually. Don't think I'm atheist though.
Posted by TUF 3 years ago
TUF
" add that a "lie" for the purposes of this debate would be an assertion the truth value of which cannot be determined."

Well I guess wrichcirw is an atheist. :)
Posted by wrichcirw 3 years ago
wrichcirw
No worries, thanks for reading it and glad you enjoyed it. =)
Posted by Valar_Morghulis 3 years ago
Valar_Morghulis
Sorry about the vote. I glanced over the no scoring rule. My apologies.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Valar_Morghulis 3 years ago
Valar_Morghulis
wrichcirwrrossTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro provided excellent reasoning and deep understanding of the topic. Pro also used sources.