The Instigator
Lexicaholic
Pro (for)
Winning
18 Points
The Contender
InfraRedEd
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Interpersonal moral decisions can be made without referencing a religious framework.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/18/2009 Category: Religion
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,481 times Debate No: 8348
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (6)
Votes (3)

 

Lexicaholic

Pro

Format: Three rounds, first round: PRO will state position, CON will state contrary position (no argumentation). Second round: PRO will make first argument, CON will make first counterargument. Third round: PRO will rebut CON's argument, CON will rebut the rebuttal. No restrictions on format otherwise.

Assertion: Interpersonal moral decisions can be made without reference to a religious framework because people are capable of observing the impact of their actions on themselves and others and selecting actions that have the least detrimental impact on themselves and others. I recognize that my assertion may be refuted if my opponent can show that (1) people do not have the capacity to distinguish the cause of a detrimental effect as their actions, and thereby need a preconceived definition that makes those actions wrong or right (2) people can not adequately observe the impact of their actions on others in such a way as to avoid doing harm or (3) people would be compelled or inclined, despite their observations, to act in a manner harmful to themselves or others without a religious framework to rely upon.

Definitions:
Interpersonal- being, relating to, or involving relations between persons
Moral- expressing or teaching a conception of right behavior , conforming to a standard of right behavior
Decisions- determinations arrived at after consideration
Referencing-consulting, relying upon or referring to
Religious - of, relating to, or devoted to an organized body of beliefs or observances
Framework- a basic conceptional structure (as of ideas)

Any word not defined should be treated as it would be defined at this site, http://www.merriam-webster.com... , considering context and ordinary American English usage of the term.

My thanks in advance for my opponent's acceptance of this challenge.
InfraRedEd

Con

I assume that

"Person" can also mean a corporation or a lynch mob.

But I don't need that. I intend to show that:

At least one person, corporate or otherwise, is immoral with or without a religious framework, or at least one religious outfit is immoral wherein the religion is not itself the sole cause of the immorality.

If a group of people are immoral then at least one of them is.

Therefore there exists at least one immoral person who cannot exercise morality at all with or without a religious framework.
Debate Round No. 1
Lexicaholic

Pro

I thank my opponent for accepting this debate.

Interpersonal moral decisions are choices amongst possible actions that allow for several alternatives, but accept that one alternative is superior to the others not solely by virtue of personal gain, as other decisions are, but by impact of that action's effect on others. Traditionally, moral choices were made according to adherence to an ideological framework, encapsulated in social laws that outlined proscribed behavior. Moral arguments were then derived from what amounted to legal interpretations of those laws. I will refer to this methodology as the argument from ideological epistemology. The ideological epistemology presupposes that there are abstract concepts, such as good and evil and right and wrong, that humans are aware of and crudely attempt to develop or encourage in others by enforcement of social taboos or, in more developed society, legal theory. For a time, religion, the authoritarian social construct formed as a philosophy of social taboos, was necessary to assure curious minds that the ideals providing support to these taboos were justified. Religions provided the necessary justification by crediting a god or gods with their development, leaving their base nature beyond mortal valuation. The framework of religion was the reference that people drew upon when faced to make an interpersonal moral decision. The morals they adhered to included concepts such as honor, justice, fairness, etc.

In our modern society, a curious change is taking place. A significant number of people are setting aside their reference to a religious framework, yet retaining their ability to function morally. They accomplish this by observing their actions and the actions of others, noting the effects of their actions, and limiting their actions where observation and experience show them that the consequences of their actions would be harmful to themselves or others. One might claim that direct observations are the only relevant criteria on the morality of the action, as the beneficial/detrimental effects of an action can be directly witnessed and do not require reliance upon presupposed mystic forces. I shall refer to this as the argument from empirical epistemology. I believe that this argument for morality is superior to the ideological argument because:

1. Contrary to what one may believe, lack of faith in a god or absolute morality does not mean that there is no cause to care for anyone. Individual members of human society are protected from the ravages of their environment by virtue of a society, and each individual member thereof contributes to that society. When one person's actions threaten to harm other members of that society, the negative impact of that person's actions outweigh the positive, as harm to society is equivalent to striking one's own support structure and harming one's self. This results in a net loss to society at no gain to the organism taking the action, and that organism is in need of correction. Conversely, a person who acts to aid society by helping others provides support to society, which in turns provides support to oneself. This results in a net gain to society and, if the action can be taken safely by other members of society, deserves emulation. People already recognize this and act accordingly, but they couch their rationale in vague and mystical sounding language. It is time for that to end, as there is no need for it and it may well do more harm than good.

2. Lack of absolute moral ideals does not mean that moral ideals can not be propounded. If observation shows that individuals who consider the ramifications of their actions on others as though they themselves were the individuals to be affected cause harm to fewer people than others not similarly equipped do, then that impulse has a positive advantage and can be provided a name and treated as a moral ideal: compassion, in this case. As a result, morals are not lost, they are merely replaceable (if something better is discovered) and not ascribed supernatural justification.

3. Lack of commands by a deity or religious institution are unnecessary to enforce adherence to morality, as the most important taboos developed around moral principles will be enforced by law and the least important will be followed in emulation (see point one) of those individuals acting in a socially beneficial manner or in criticism of those acting in a detrimental manner.

As people continue to advance society, there can be no doubt that moral ideals will change to suit the times, as they always have. Even if this is so, however, people can rest assured that interpersonal moral decisions can be made without reference to a religious framework.
InfraRedEd

Con

Certainly Taoism, Confucianism and Chiang and Zen Buddhism are religions but are not really heavy on "supernatural justification." My opponent is destined to become a great religious scholar, but in Eastern religion. Start with the I Ching.

Does my opponent wish to argue that there exists a moral teaching not found in any religion? I hope so.

Or perhaps that any religious moral teaching can just as well be taught without the religion? Tod Lindberg does just that

http://www.amazon.com...

with a religion with which we may be familiar.

What if an immoral person in an immoral religion switched religions and became moral? One could argue that the religion therefore had nothing to do with the morality.

But it could be argued that the immoral religion was necessary to make a point.

Now I will read my opponent's first round arguments.

Up to and including argument 1, replace the word "religious" with "any" and we have an argument that no moral code, religious or otherwise, is necessary. This is not particularly about religion though.

As for argument 2, just because morals are "propounded" does not mean they will be observed. Many of your "born again" testimonials are from those who needed religion. This proves both that the religion in question is not necessarily for everyone, but that it does work and was necessary in some cases, typically involving drug abuse as well as other kinds of abuse.

Argument 3, we are back to arguing more against any moral code than particularly a religious one.
Debate Round No. 2
Lexicaholic

Pro

I thank my opponent for his counterargument, although it sounded more like a rebuttal. I will now conclude my contribution to this debate with my rebuttal of my opponent's points.

1. "... Taoism, Confucianism and Chiang and Zen Buddhism are religions but are not really heavy on 'supernatural justification.'"
True, although they do provide some moral framework, as Taoism requires essentially devotion to harmony and Confucianism devotion to traditional behaviors. [1] [2] My argument is, in fact, more along the lines that "any religious moral teaching can just as well be taught without the religion" but it also extends beyond that point, arguing that a moral framework can exist independent of a basic conceptual structure of, relating to, or devoted to an organized body of beliefs or observances. In short, it's an argument that one can determine the right action in any given case by what causes the least harm to society and/or society's members and provides the most benefit thereto. The difference is that there is no veneration for the morals, just acceptance of the morals as appropriate.

2. "What if an immoral person in an immoral religion switched religions and became moral? One could argue that the religion therefore had nothing to do with the morality. But it could be argued that the immoral religion was necessary to make a point."
Actually, an argument could be made that an immoral person in an immoral religion that became moral by joining another religion would be a living testament to the benefit of the replacement religion, as it would appear to be the cause of the individual's transformation. So I really can't be sure of the purpose of this argument.

"Up to and including argument 1, replace the word "religious" with "any" and we have an argument that no moral code, religious or otherwise, is necessary. This is not particularly about religion though."
Maybe so. The line between religion and a personal belief can sometimes be tenuous. However, for the purposes of this argument, I have limited discussion to religion. There is no need to extend the scope.

"As for argument 2, just because morals are "propounded" does not mean they will be observed. Many of your "born again" testimonials are from those who needed religion. This proves both that the religion in question is not necessarily for everyone, but that it does work and was necessary in some cases, typically involving drug abuse as well as other kinds of abuse."
This is true. My argument, however, is not that interpersonal moral decisions will be made without reference to a religious framework, but rather that they can be. For those individuals who only act morally when they are scared or shamed into acting so, some agreed upon social game that everyone can play to score morality points (religion) may be necessary. For others, it may not be as appealing. Proving that some people do not act morally ever, or would not without something to fear, does not mean that a person could not act morally without guidance to a religious framework; it simply means that they choose not to. If a person is wholly incapable of acting morally, then that person would not act morally within the religious framework any more than he or she would without it, which leaves the person as an amoral agent outside the scope of this discussion.

"Argument 3, we are back to arguing more against any moral code than particularly a religious one."
Not exactly true. Some moral code would have to exist for a person to act above and beyond what that person would be expected to do, to the point that any individual would seek to emulate him or her. Therefore, some consideration of morality must take place, if not necessarily within a religious framework.

This concludes my rebuttal. I remind my opponent to limit the scope of his final argument to countering my rebuttal, as per the rules agreed upon in round one. I look forward to the conclusion of this very philosophical debate.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org... [2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
InfraRedEd

Con

InfraRedEd forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by InfraRedEd 8 years ago
InfraRedEd
But everyone is going to make a religious argument.

http://www.druglibrary.org...

if they can anyway because it can be quite effective.
Posted by chihiro 8 years ago
chihiro
Infrareded,Love is not really selfish.What you may find "selfish" are the wolves in sheeps clothing known as lust,infatuation or a "crush". All three are temporary,making love look fooilish because you get some of the same physical feelings.Only difference is that when you love someone,those feelings are much stronger than the three,and they last much longer.The other three are the imposters of love.Which is why,when people go through one of the three,they most likely say somethign along the lines of,"Love hurts".It's not love itself that hurts you,it's the lack of it that does.Don't believe me?The look at the people who cheat on their spouses?You know that HAS to hurt,especially if you've been married for a long time.What hurt that relationship was the lust that took over the traitor.Not love.See what I mean?
My manager once said,"love is for fools".
I told her,"Only if you fall for a fool." lol ;)
Posted by Lexicaholic 8 years ago
Lexicaholic
I noticed in your one argument that you would like a moral teaching not found in any religion. I'm not sure that I can do that, but I can provide a codification of the central appeal of every religion: For any given action, contemplate that action with compassion, act with courage, and reflect upon your deed with humility. You really can't go wrong that way. The best part is that it is libertarian in its philosophical design: one can not compassionately compel another to follow one's own moral code against that person's will. This is a morality that forces a person to live up to high standards without expecting the same of others. Now that I'm comfortable with it, I like it very much. :)
Posted by Lexicaholic 8 years ago
Lexicaholic
I actually do not consider 'love' a virtue, but rather an affectation of sentimentality borne out of adherence to social direction regarding the proper avenue of addressing one's feelings. Compassion is well and good, though, and ideally a 'lover' for me would be a person that I would want to please out of admiration, without desire for personal gain, and who, in that person's high estimation of myself, desired the same for me. Love in the sense of a magical force that binds your heart forever to the latest person you've acquired in a string of failed short term relationships is probably just justified lust.
Posted by InfraRedEd 8 years ago
InfraRedEd
And what about "love" anyway? Isn't "love" pretty selfish? Why does it always asume that the best thing for the loved is to be with the (supposed) lover?
Posted by Lexicaholic 8 years ago
Lexicaholic
Just so that it's clear, by no argumentation I don't mean you can't provide the reason for the counter-argument, as I provided for the argument, but rather that you should not go beyond laying out the basis of your counterargument. Please don't try and prove the argument in the opening statement. Thanks.
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Vote Placed by Maikuru 8 years ago
Maikuru
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Vote Placed by bluefreedom23 8 years ago
bluefreedom23
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Vote Placed by Lexicaholic 8 years ago
Lexicaholic
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