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Is Medea Responsible for Her Actions?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/7/2015 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 999 times Debate No: 74926
Debate Rounds (4)
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1.According to Aristotle, Anger occurs due to being slighted by another person who has no right to do so, and with it comes the pleasure of the idea of revenge on he who slighted us.
2.Anger is an emotion, or affection.
3.Emotions affect men in their judgment.
4.Thus, in situations where we are angry, it can be hard to judge the situation properly and decide what is the right or wrong choice.
5.It is an incredibly strong emotion at that, and causes those who are angry to act out in rage, blinded by fury.
6.Anger is a reaction that occurs naturally in people when they are upset by something, or slighted, as Aristotle put it.
7.In order to arouse anger in someone, or even to fully understand it in them, we must know the state of mind of the angry person, who they are angry with, and why.
8.In Medea, we know these things. She is angry and contemplating killing her and Jason"s children as a form of punishment for betraying her to marry another woman. It is safe to assume that anyone dealing with such a thing would be angry in this situation, and anger is accompanied by the desire for revenge. In Medea"s case, the revenge was killing her children.
9.Killing her children technically could be considered not as infanticide, as infanticide usually refers to the killing of a child under the age of twelve months.
10.She does love her children though, as we read how she wishes for them to care for her in the twilight of her life and bury her when she is dead. However, by choosing to kill them in order to punish Jason, it can be deduced that her anger towards him is stronger than her love for her children. Love, however, is just as much an affection as anger, and affection clouds judgment.
11.Medea has been slighted, betrayed by her husband and left for another woman. She wants to kill her children not only to make Jason suffer, but to protect them from any future slighting. While the intention of revenge was there, as it should be with anger, so was the intention of protection. A good mother should always protect her children, and that"s exactly what Medea was trying to do.

Therefore, Medea was not responsible for her actions in committing infanticide. She was blinded by her emotions and wanted to protect her children, as a good mother should. In addition, her actions were only committed as a result of a betrayal by her husband Jason, and it is completely acceptable to be angry in such a situation. Anger does cloud judgment, so it is able to be deduced that Medea was not fully in control of her actions and, therefore, not responsible for them.

Non-Controversial Premises:

1.This premise is non-controversial, as it is simply a definition of anger. I can assume my opponent would agree to this definition, especially because it comes right out of the text for this class.
2.Following the same logic as premise number one, this is non-controversial because it branches off the aforementioned definition.
8.This premise is non-controversial because what is stated is merely fact from the text. Assuming my opponent read the same text, there is no way to contend this. It is merely why Medea is angry. In addition, though, there is the assumption that most would be angry in such a situation, which does seem like a solid argument. Betrayal causes anger, and that is natural and acceptable.
9.Also non-controversial is premise number nine, as it is, again, just a definition, this time of infanticide.

Controversial Premises:

3.This is mildly controversial, as not all people are controlled by emotion. It can be argued that emotion does not cloud everyone"s judgment.
4.This follows the same logic as premise number three, as not all people have trouble with controlling their emotions, and therefore, it is controversial.
5.Same as above, this is controversial because not all people act out in blind fury when angry.
6.It can be said that anger is not a natural reaction.
7.This is just Aristotle"s point of view on the matter, and most likely can be contended.
10.It can be argued that Medea does not love her children as much as claimed, as she does not decide to keep them alive.
11.The idea of killing one"s children to protect them can be contended as being unacceptable.


1.Agree. This is a definition, as you stated, so there isn"t much to try to contend. However, I advise we also look at Seneca"s views on anger, not just Aristotle"s.
2.Agree. Anger is an emotion.
3.Emotions do affect men in their judgment, yes, but whether or not they allow said emotions to affect said judgment is more up to the man and whether he agrees more with Aristotle, with Seneca, or has a different viewpoint entirely.
4.As you stated in your non-controversial premises section, not all men have issues controlling their emotions and not all men are affected by emotion in their judgment. As such, it is not always difficult to choose the right choice from the wrong choice.
5.Again, not everyone is controlled merely by emotion. Some are governed by other things, like logic.
6.While Aristotle did say this, Seneca, on the other hand, says that anger can in fact be controlled, so we do not have to let anger control us like it is sounding like you"re trying to say.
7.Agree. Understanding the root of the anger a person is feeling is helpful in understanding the anger itself. If we understand why a person is angry, it is easier to solve the issue.
8.We do know these things about Medea. She was betrayed by Jason and wants revenge, but there is a problem with your statement. While a large amount of people would be upset by this, there are many situations in which someone would not. For instance, if they did not really care about the person who betrayed them, betrayal would not be as much of a big deal as it would be if they cared about them a lot.
9.Infanticide can also be defined as killing any child, especially one"s own.
10.Emotions only cloud the judgment of those who allow it. Whether or not Medea"s love for her children outshines her hatred of Jason, or the other way around, is not entirely relevant. The debate is over whether she is responsible for her actions or not, not whether or not she loves her children. Had she learned to control her anger, she would not have harmed her children for the sake of getting revenge on Jason.
11.Yes, a good mother should protect her children, but doing so by killing them is not a proper means of doing so. Her longing to protect them from hurting how she hurt, suffering like she suffered, or being slighted as she was, is completely understandable. As you said, that is what a good mother should do, but it does not justify murder. Murder is wrong and illegal in any situation.
12.To be sure we agree on the definition of murder, it is defined as the intentional killing of an innocent person.
13.Seneca claims that anger is unnecessary. It is not useful in any situation and any bravery that stems from anger is false.
14.Reason, when separated from emotions such as anger, is powerful and usable in situations where anger seems like the only solution. For example, when a man sees his mother and father killed, anger says he should seek revenge. However, reason, the virtue to the vice anger, says that instead, he should punish those who wronged him and protect what is his. Reason, the virtue, needs no anger to support it.
15.Anger is the emotion keenest on punishing, and for that reason, it is not fit to do so. Anger is in such a rush to punish that it is impulsive and gets in the way of itself, as Seneca put it. "Anger for one"s friends is the sign of a weak mind, not a devoted one." It is okay to defend parents, siblings, children, friends, citizens, and whatnot, but not in some crazy impulsive decision like Medea.
16.In addition, Medea"s conscious flips between killing her children and letting them live. One moment she wants them dead, the next, she changes her mind. She is aware that it would be wrong to kill them.

Therefore, Medea is entirely responsible for her actions. Not only did she commit murder, which is wrong and illegal, and be fully aware of that fact, she did not use her reason to deduce that her choice was wrong, even though she most definitely could have.

Non-Controversial Premises:
6. Simply Seneca"s words on anger, there really isn"t anything here to attempt to contend, other than my opponent trying to defend him/herself by saying that isn"t what they"re trying to sound like, though that does not have to do with Seneca.
9. Another definition of infanticide.
12. This is simply a definition, and again, there really isn"t much to attempt to argue.
13. Same as above. This is just a definition with nothing else to it.

Controversial Premises:
8.Medea, in this case, must have cared about Jason to get so upset. However, my opponent stated that anyone would be upset in such a situation. This is untrue for the reasons I have stated, though it is up for debate and interpretation.
10. It can be argued that Medea could not have learned to control her anger due to just how much she cared about Jason and her children.
11. Somehow my opponent may have a way to justify murder, though I do doubt that. He/she also may argue that taking the lives of the children is a good way to protect them from harm.
14. This is merely what Seneca says. As my opponent is using Aristotle"s point of view to judge the situation, he/she may have a counter to what is being said.
15. Perhaps there is a way for my opponent to argue that Medea"s decision was not entirely impulsive and therefore more acceptable.
16. There may also be a reason for Medea"s indecisive conscience that my opponent may have to argue.
Debate Round No. 1


3. Agree, this is entirely dependent on the person, but emotions are natural in people, and anger is an emotion. Thus, anger is natural and it is not a terrible thing to react with emotions, anger or otherwise.
4. While it may not be difficult to choose the right choice from the wrong choice, sometimes emotions do get in the way. As humans, we are emotional creatures, and no matter how rational our decisions may seem, there will always be a hint of emotion. Therefore, it is not possible to fully control anger, as anger is, as stated, an emotion.
6. We don"t have to let anger control us, but sometimes, it does, whether we want it to or not. Everyone has a breaking point, at which they will, no matter what, succumb to anger. In Medea"s case, her breaking point was Jason betraying her.
8. Betrayal is betrayal either way. No matter who it is, it still hurts. You use the argument that in the case of someone not caring about the one who betrayed them, it wouldn"t hurt, but Medea did care about Jason, and in turn, it hurt her a lot.
10. But in a situation like Medea"s, it is understandable and she could not possibly control that anger. After spending so much time with Jason, he just leaves her. A situation like that is not something you can mentally prepare for, and such anger is so strong that it must be impossible to control.
11. Technically though, what she did could possibly not be considered murder. Judging by how Medea acts, it is safe to assume that there is something mentally wrong with her. Therefore, she would be innocent in a court of law. Also, she was just going with her maternal instincts, and maternal instincts are stronger than just about anything else.
14. But is Medea not punishing Jason by killing the children? It is not necessarily seeking revenge, but seeking to punish Jason and protect the children.
15. Anger can be good in moderation to incite actions. Medea"s decision was not impulsive but premeditated, as she did debate back and forth what the better option was.
16. But Medea was a mother after all. She did have a sense of affection for her children. Perhaps she was bipolar or sociopathic or something involving mental instability. The insane cannot be held responsible for their actions.


3. With emotion comes a lack of reason, and that causes clouded judgment and bad decisions. See Medea, for instance. Emotions drove her to kill her kids. Any kind of emotion, if taken into excess, can be bad. It is not uncommon to be blinded by rage when reacting with anger.
4. We must take out as much emotion as possible to make a rational decision, then. Wives get mad at their husbands all the time, but how often do you really see a case of them killing their children over it? We"re both still alive, and I"m sure at least once both of our parents have fought, so it"s entirely possible to be rational and not kill each other out of anger.
6. In a civilized society, which we are, we do have to learn to control our anger. There is no reason to let off someone at their "breaking point" and allow them to get away with anything immoral.
8. Even though it does hurt, a civilized person would not kill someone out of that emotion. Anger does not justify murder of any sort. No matter whether you are at your breaking point or not, there is no situation where murder is acceptable. Medea committed murder and that is both morally wrong and illegal.
10. She may not have been expecting to have been betrayed by Jason, but around the time she fell in love with him, she must have been expecting to a mother, and therefore, to love her children. That should take precedence over the anger she felt towards him. Her anger towards him outweighed her love for her children, and that shows that emotion caused the death of her children. Had she learned to control that, they would not have died. As a mother, she has failed.
14. That in itself is contradictory. How can you protect someone by causing them harm? She may be punishing Jason, but her idea of protecting is completely off. If she kills them, it is true they will not suffer as she suffered, but what she is doing is technically revenge. Revenge is the action of inflicting harm on someone for an injury or wrong suffered at their hands. Jason committed a wrong, so Medea"s choice of action is taking revenge on him.
15. In this case, it was not moderation. It was taken much too far, as the revenge was taking the lives of her children. That alone is excessive. Moderate would be something like not letting him see the kids again, not completely eliminating them from existence. Instead of being calm and rational, she just decided on killing instead of trying to find an alternate solution.
16. But is it really true that she is insane? We do see that she does love the children and contemplates whether or not she should do it. A part of her knows that she should not kill them, she just does not have the reason to hold herself from harming them.
Debate Round No. 2


3. It is next to impossible to stop an action driven by a strong emotion such as anger. Seneca is right when he says that it is difficult to stop the path of action once emotion has started a thought. Medea"s thought of killing the children was entirely emotion driven and therefore hard to put an end to because her mind was clouded from the rage.
4. In certain situations, people are incapable of holding back. Emotions are a part of everyone and no matter what, we really can"t go through life without them. Sometimes, however, they are stronger than others, and, as I"ve said, they mess with our judgment. This makes it difficult to distinguish right from wrong.
6. There is a legal precedence that says people who are in fits of passion or rage are not responsible for their actions. Medea"s actions were out of passion and rage, therefore, legally, she is not responsible for killing her kids.
8. As previously stated, in some legal instances, passionate acts can be pleaded like insanity. That makes it technically not murder.
10/14. Had she let them live, they could have lived a traumatizing life. Their father walked out on them and they would be raised alone by a distraught mother. It could be interpreted as a mercy kill.
16. A fit of passion would be when one, through a surge of emotions, acts out irrationally on impulse. This perfectly describes Medea"s course of action, and therefore, what she did is considered insanity. She does not have the reasoning to hold herself back, but that is because she did not actually considered what she was doing wrong. She thought she was protecting the children.


3. Yes, but the rest of Seneca"s idea is that we must instead stop the anger at the very thought of it. We all have the power to stop actions before they start, not while they are going on. Medea could have stopped this thought at the beginning and in turn, not killed her children, according to Seneca.
4. It is true we have emotion, but we must carry it as a controlled burden. We are not animals, we have reason as we are higher beings. In turn, we can distinguish right from wrong, good from evil, and whatnot.
6. It wasn"t too passionate an act, then, because Medea was hesitant. She contemplated whether or not to kill them and even admitted just how much she loved them. If there is hesitation involved, it should not qualify as passion.
10/14. But Medea"s responsibility as a mother is to be responsible for her children and strong enough to care for them. She has to be strong for them and raise them to be strong as well. Murder is murder and cannot be justified as being out of mercy.
16. But again, her decision wasn"t strong enough. She was hesitant, so it was not a fit of passion or a fit of rage. She did have the reasoning to hold herself back, as she did contemplate whether killing them is the right thing to do. She just chose to ignore this reasoning because she was weak.
Debate Round No. 3


3. Stopping the anger at the very thought of it most likely would have been at some point before the text excerpt even started. This would have most likely been at the point where Jason first found the other woman, which we don"t have written, so we can"t read it and know if she really could have stopped the anger there.
4. Yes, we can distinguish right from wrong, but not in all situations. As I mentioned, in some circumstances, the heat of the moment gets to us and passion outweighs that reason, as in Medea"s case.
6. Though she may have hesitated, when the emotion finally fully overcame her, that was when she decided, in her fit of passion, that her children should die. That was her breaking point, that was when she no longer debated between the two ideas and her emotions blinded her decision entirely.
10/14. But murder can be justified as being out of mercy. What if something is suffering by living because of an injury or trauma? To the point where they barely even feel alive anymore? Medea"s children could have suffered their entire lives. Is it not a mother"s responsibility to protect her children as well?


3. Whether or not we can read it, she could have done it. Seneca says that anger is entirely unnecessary, there is no situation in which it can"t be controlled. We are human beings, not animals. We can control these things with effort.
4. This idea as well can be controlled. As stated, human beings are completely capable of controlling their emotions as long as they try to do so. With enough effort, just about anything can be contained and controlled, emotions are no exception. Had Medea listened to reason instead, she wouldn"t be in her situation.
6. But with how she acted towards the children when she didn"t want to kill them, could it not be argued that she was overcome by emotion as well? Perhaps not anger, but a different one? She just needs to control herself.
10/14. "Could" have suffered their entire lives. There is no guarantee they would have, and even so, hardships are just a part of living. Also, protecting someone is to keep them safe from "harm or injury." Killing them would be causing them harm, so is she really protecting them after all?
Debate Round No. 4
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