The Instigator
Clearys
Pro (for)
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The Contender
grilojo
Con (against)
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Is Medea responsible for committing infanticide?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/7/2015 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 338 times Debate No: 74929
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (0)
Votes (0)

 

Clearys

Pro

1. Anger, according to Aristotle, is pain due to the slighting by another person accompanied by the pleasure of the fantasy of revenge.
2. Anger controls one's actions, and causes them to act out in blind rage.One can only become angry if they are invested in something/someone.
3. Anger results out of dissatisfaction of one's needs or expectations.
4. Medea's husband did not meet her expectations of faithfulness, therefore she took the lives of her children as an act of revenge . Not only does Medea imagine revenge, she takes it upon herself as well. Anger is the state in which we feel both pleasure in pain. Medea felt pain at the slighting of her husband, and took pleasure in her revenge.
5. Infanticide is the act of killing a child, especially one's own kin.
6. According to Seneca, anger is punitive and is not a useful reaction to a situation.
7. Seneca says we can control anger, therefore Medea is not justified in her actions because she could have prevented them.
8. Medea made the choice to let her anger control her, and she is responsible for the deaths of her children because she chose to take their lives in order to exact her revenge.
9. Medea's actions were selfish, and she let her desires cloud her judgement.
10. Nothing constructive can come out of anger, as seen through Medea's story.
11. Therefore, Medea is responsible for her act of infanticide.

Non Controversial:
1,2,3, 5, and 6 are all non-controversial premises because they are agreed upon and discuss the definition of anger and infanticide.

Controversial:
4. My opponent could argue that Medea had no choice or that she was attempting to protect herself and her children from further heartbreak. However, no one was forcing her against her own will.
7. It could be argued, with evidence, that Medea's locus of control was smaller than one would think, causing her to act the way she did. My opponent may argue the point that Medea was not in the right state of mind. Yet, Medea made a conscious decisions, driven by anger, and thought it through beforehand.
8. My opponent could argue that it was not a personal choice, or that some force caused her to act out. As aforementioned, no one forced or coerced her.
9. My opponent may argue that Medea's actions were not selfish.Medea, however, was taking into account her own feelings and the feelings of hurt her husband would feel.
10. My opponent may argue that Medea's act was constructive. This could only be substantiated with proper evidence from one's interpretation of the text.
grilojo

Con

1. We have agreed to Aristotle's definition of anger.
2.For someone to be responsible for their actions they must be mentally stable.
3. I do not agree with your 3rd premise because dissatisfaction out of ones needs or expectations is disgust not anger in my opinion.
4.I do agree that there was wrong doings toward Medea by her husband. But for a parent to willingly kill her own children out of an act of revenge is not something a mentally stable person does and takes pleasure in.
5. I agree with your premise #5 as we agreed on this definition of Infanticide.
6.Medea is struggling to decide on whether to go through with what she was planning. That would show that she is very indecisive and not being mentally stable for her actions.
7. Therefore, Medea is not responsible for her actions

Non-Controversial premises
Premises 1,5, and 7
Premise 1 is our definition of anger.
Premise 5 is us agreeing on our definition of infanticide
Premise 7 is my closing as to why Medea is not responsible for her actions

Controversial premises
Premises 2, 3,4, and 6

Premise 2 says that Medea"s anger is not mentally stable in any way possible and can not be blamed for a sickness in her head.
Premise 3 says that I do not think this is a result of Anger but rather an act of disgust.
Premise 4 says that I agree that Medea was wronged by her husband but that should not give Medea the right to murder a child who was innocent in this situation. Just because you get angry doesn't mean its ok to go around murdering people.
Premise 6 says that Medea is back and forth between following her plan or not. Planning murder would show intent which therefore can fall under the category as "mentally ill".
Debate Round No. 1
Clearys

Pro

According to your premise (2) you're indicating that Medea is hindered in some way and cannot be held accountable for her actions. In what way? Also, it can be said that people are in control of their emotions. People can choose to react to a situation or not, or at least try their best not to let a certain thing get to them as easily through understanding and patience. That being said, can we really blame Medea's actions on her instability? I can't see how that is substantial unless there is evidence provided that her locus of control is so small that she actually has no control over herself or her actions.

My premise (3), which also is addressed in your argument, comes from Aristotle's position on anger. Although, in your opinion it is disgust, Aristotle actually says that if we did not expect anything, and if we were not invested in someone or something, we would then not experience the feeling of anger. Therefore, to become angry, one must feel dissatisfaction of one's needs or expectations. Maybe disgust can stem from that as well, however, Anger is a result of it.

Again with your argument of Medea being mentally unstable (premise 4 &6 )- is that excusable for all acts of murder? Point being, if every murderer put on trial were able to use the excuse "mentally unstable" to get a lesser sentence, then all of them would be off. This is because mentally unstable is actually too broad. Mental instability requires that someone, for a certain time, to lose control of their emotions and cognitions. Although this clearly happened to Medea, it can also be argued that it happens to all people who kill or injure impulsively. Is it in their case, too, that they are not responsible? Should one not be held accountable because they are not in the right state of mind? People who suffer from mental illness and literally have no control of their actions or thoughts are the one's that aren't held accountable. Medea doesn't seem to suffer from any clear psychological issues. She may have been indecisive, but that indicates that the act was clearly wrong, and she KNEW that. If she had no conscious, no moral compass, she would not have thought twice about her act. However, she still committed it, and it was driven her need for revenge. Which trumped her feelings of love and protection for her children.

Another point I wanted to address about your premise (4) is what you said in your controversial statement. You say even though she as wronged by her husband, it does not give her the right to kill her children. This seemingly states that you are arguing pro, and that she should be responsible for her wrongdoing.

I am not sure where your information came from, but planning murder with intent doesn't fall under the category of "mentally ill". In order to be considered mentally Ill, a person must have thoughts, emotions, or feelings that cause them to hurt others or themselves. SO in this case, Medea could be considered mentally ill. Not just because she had intent to kill. However, there s no clear indication, other than her pain felt by the slighting to her by her husband, that she was suffering from mental illness. She merely struggles with committing the act, which shows she knows clearly that is right and wrong, and she decided to commit the act because of how she feels about her husband. She wants him to suffer as she has suffered. She wants to take away his family. She wants him powerless. In this way Medea sounds like any vengeful, angry, cheated on wife. Nothing clearly separates her as mentally ill. Although her acts are horrendous, it does not mean she was doing it because she was clouded by an illness.
grilojo

Con

Premise 2,4, and 6: I am indicating that Medea cannot be accountable for her actions. She is indeed has a mental illness in her head for this to happen. For her to plan this all out and not feel remorseful for it, does that seem very clear for someone to do that who is mentally okay? According to psychiatry.org, signs of mental illness are as following....Problems with concentration, memory, or logical thought and speech that are hard to explain. A vague feeling of being disconnected from oneself or one"s surroundings; a sense of unreality. Fear or suspiciousness of others or a strong nervous feeling. Rapid or dramatic shifts in feelings or "mood swings." Through out the story Medea showed these symptoms of Mental illness which leads me to believe that could of been a reason why she is not to be accountable for her actions. Also ancient Greece, was a democracy. America is also a democracy. We see hundreds of cases in courts now-a-days that people who are not coherent or mentally ill are just sentenced to get psychiatric help and not punished for their crimes because they are unable to realize what is right or wrong.

Premise 3: I now agree with you on this. You cleared up by what you meant on your definition of Anger. Disgust is indeed a branch of anger from dissatisfaction. The one things that differ is that according to Aristotle disgust is rational but anger is not rational
Debate Round No. 2
Clearys

Pro

Regarding your argument: Does Medea have a mental illness? Is there any discussion of these symptoms besides her irrational behavior? It is possible that a person can commit a wrongful act, knowing full well the consequences of their actions, and go through with it anyway. People who are diagnosed with mental illness and are not sentenced to prison are those that a psychiatrist deems not fit to use their cognition correctly. These people can not discern right from wrong, because it is all the same. If the court can prove that the perpetrator did not know what they were doing was wrong, then they will not be guilty. However, Medea knows exactly what she is doing is wrong. At first she can't find it in herself to kill them, but she is reminded of her resentment for her husband and this leads her to carry out her plans.

Medea says herself "I know what I am doing is wrong, but anger is the master of my plans, which is the source of all troubles for humankind." This statement could be taken a few ways. First, Medea knows of her wrongdoings, yet the hatred for her husband outweighs the love of her children. Another is that she is so blind with anger that she has lost control of her senses. Medea has no difficulty discerning between right and wrong, however, she admits that this passion and anger is the strongest force. Have you not had to make a difficult decision in your life, and your desires trump your needs or the needs of others around you? It happens all too often in our daily lives. Her decision to follow the path of selfishness, and to fulfill her own desires, is a clear choice. She made it knowing full well the damage she was doing, and justifying her actions helped her to follow through with them.

"Your life here has been taken away by your father" she says to the children. By justifying her actions, there is no way she can be at fault. Medea makes the decision to commit infanticide because nothing less would punish her husband. Therefore, Medea did not commit infanticide because of her inability to reason, but rather because her desire and passion trumped her rationality.

"She understands, indeed, the magnitude of the evils that she intends to do because she is taught by reason, but she says anger is stronger than it and that for this reason she is led forcibly toward the action." This is exactly the point Aristotle and Seneca aim to make in their interpretations. It is not that Medea cannot reason, nor that she does not understand the consequences of her actions. It is the case, however, that she feels anger has taken control of her. From our definitions, anger is a feeling driven by emotion. Therefore, it is in our internal locus of control. We can choose to control it by using different coping mechanisms. It can be said that it is not the situation itself that causes the problem, but rather how we react to it and handle it. Medea chooses this way out because she has let anger drive her decisions. This is not the case of a mentally ill woman, but a woman who has no regard for anything that cannot bring revenge upon her husband.
grilojo

Con

Yes, Medea has a mental illness because according to the government website she displays most if not all of the symptoms that would suspect someone of having a mental illness which lead her to irrational behavior. Sometimes it takes a certain emotional to get the mental illness to come out to make them carry out an action. Yes, she did know what she was doing but her mental illness made her think it was okay to do.

Also when you say that the statement that you mentioned can be taken a few different ways, that is your opinion on how it can be taken. Her possible mental illness and her anger mixed helped her justifying her actions that helped her follow through with her actions to kill her children. Also you stated that its the father's fault so why would she be responsible if its the father that caused all of this?

Medea has many issues in her life but she should not be blamed for her actions dues to her issues with her husband cheating and her not being in the state of mind due to her mental illness. Yes she lets Anger take control but that leads her mental issues to come out. Therefore, she is not responsible for her actions.
Debate Round No. 3
Clearys

Pro

1. Anger, according to Aristotle, is pain due to the slighting by another person accompanied by the pleasure of the fantasy of revenge.
2. Anger controls one's actions, and causes them to act out in blind rage.One can only become angry if they are invested in something/someone.
3. Anger results out of dissatisfaction of one's needs or expectations.
4. Medea's husband did not meet her expectations of faithfulness, therefore she took the lives of her children as an act of revenge . Not only does Medea imagine revenge, she takes it upon herself as well. Anger is the state in which we feel both pleasure in pain. Medea felt pain at the slighting of her husband, and took pleasure in her revenge.
5. Infanticide is the act of killing a child, especially one's own kin.
6. According to Seneca, anger is punitive and is not a useful reaction to a situation.
7. Seneca says we can control anger, therefore Medea is not justified in her actions because she could have prevented them.
8. Medea made the choice to let her anger control her, and she is responsible for the deaths of her children because she chose to take their lives in order to exact her revenge.
9. Medea's actions were selfish, and she let her desires cloud her judgement.
10. Nothing constructive can come out of anger, as seen through Medea's story.
11. Therefore, Medea is responsible for her act of infanticide.

There is no specific evidence from the story that she is doing more than just acting in a neurotic fashion, or anything substantial that would lead someone to believe she is suffering from some sort of mental illness. Anger must be dealt with swiftly, or- according to Seneca- dealt with before it occurs. In Medea's case, she wasn't experiencing any "symptoms" except for her decision itself, and the route in which she took to get to it. She does not see any other punishment that is suitable for her husband. She knows right from wrong, she is aware, and she is fully committed to her cause. Just because one chooses to act against moral standards, it does not constitute as mentally ill behavior. Her symptoms are also consistent with a partner who gets carried away. People will do many strange, questionable things when they are blinded by anger. I do not see the specific evidence from the story that exemplifies these "symptoms", and I stand by my argument that she was in the right state of mind and should be held accountable.

For these reasons, and others I mentioned throughout the debate, it is not unreasonable to say Medea is responsible for committing infanticide. I have defined what both infanticide and anger are, and I have specified how anger can control ones actions. Therefore, I conclude, based on my argument, that Medea is responsible for committing infanticide.
grilojo

Con

1. We have agreed to Aristotle's definition of anger.
2.For someone to be responsible for their actions they must be mentally stable.
3. I do not agree with your 3rd premise because dissatisfaction out of ones needs or expectations is disgust not anger in my opinion.
4.I do agree that there was wrong doings toward Medea by her husband. But for a parent to willingly kill her own children out of an act of revenge is not something a mentally stable person does and takes pleasure in.
5. I agree with your premise #5 as we agreed on this definition of Infanticide.
6.Medea is struggling to decide on whether to go through with what she was planning. That would show that she is very indecisive and not being mentally stable for her actions.
7. Therefore, Medea is not responsible for her actions

The pro-side has not given any good enough arguments that would lead me to think that Medea is responsible for her actions. I think that I have given substantial evidence that Medea has had a mental problems that allowed her to act unjust and out of control leading to the murder of her children. The person that should be blamed for this whole ordeal is her husband for cheating on her and caused this whole situation. Both of those reasons are to blame for Medea's madness. Therefore, Medea was not responsible for her actions.
Debate Round No. 4
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