The Instigator
revic
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
the_unknown_debator
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points

Is human nature good (pro) or evil (con)?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/10/2014 Category: People
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 830 times Debate No: 54402
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (9)
Votes (0)

 

revic

Con

First round is to set up the rules, and my possible opponent's opinion on those.

You may quote famous philosophers, but no sourcing: I trust my opponent to be truthful, and I hope he'll believe me too. This is however a debate where I'd like to see what my opponent thinks of my idea, a theory I have created rather than a summary of philosopher's ideas on this subject. I kindly ask him/her to find all flaws in my theory first, only to create his own/use an existing theory afterwards.
This will make it much more interesting as we will use reason and examples to try and counter each other's statements. However, this is no debate to be won, this is simply a debate from which I want to learn and from which we can draw a concluding theory we both could agree on.

Hopefully, someone will accept the challenge!
the_unknown_debator

Pro

Okay, this is my first debate so I am glad that you are being so formal and willing to debate. I suppose that I am the one arguing that human nature is good and that you are arguing that it is evil. I do believe that human nature is good and am ready to hear what you have to say on your side of the argument as I understand that this is just the first round to set up what is going on.
I am ready to accept the challenge!
Debate Round No. 1
revic

Con

Thanks alot!

So, here's my theory.

First of all, I must make the difference clear to what I understand under "human nature". This is the actual thing all humans are equally born with, the certain set of mind. According to me, this is the part of humans that will drive us to do things out of self-interest. We will do things that benefit ourselves, like animals. Wolves, if I may use the comparison earlier philosophers have made.

But in daily life we can see what people do: some are to a certain degree good, others bad. Both have a mix of these elements. My theory starts here: with humans, our reason sometimes contradicts our nature and we make decisions based on those.

This will be complicated at first, but I'll clarify it for you. People use their reason to find out what a "good", if not "perfect" person would do in a similar situation. For example, when we see an old lady having trouble to cross the street, we'll think that a good person would help her cross. The next phase is wheree we identify ourselves with that "perfect", imaginary person. We try to be like him, and decide to help the old lady.
But then where does the human nature matter in this case? Well, say that you were on your way to your crush and you are very eager to see her. It's the thing you want most and you're in a hurry.
Then, you will have to make a decision: listen to your reason, or to your inner desire? Listening to your inner desire would mean following your nature, following your own befenefits and therefore being "evil" because you're not helping the old lady. To choice reason or nature, ofcourse, depends from person to person.

In many cases I have found this model to work, perhaps you could give me a situation where it isn't so?

Then another thing is when we follow our reason, because we know that's what a good person to do, isn't that out of self-interest and vanity as well? Don't we do it for ourselves, and not for the old lady from my example?
About this last thing I'm not entirely sure, please share your opinion about that too!

I hope you understand what I'm trying to say, and I look forward to your response & opinion!
the_unknown_debator

Pro

Well, I do think that we often act on our own selfish needs and we would rather think of ourselves rather than to help others, but I do think that there will always be good people who do the right thing and might help that old lady rather than see their crush. We know that we no one will ever be perfect and everyone should be aware of that, but it is still in our best interest to try and do the right thing. Now I understand that this is about human nature and not what we are taught that we should do, but I still think that most people do eventually develop a natural need to help others and be a good person. Almost everyone has a conscience, it is just our responsibility to act on it.
Debate Round No. 2
revic

Con

As for my first example, I believe that everyone who does good things simply listened to their reason and put aside their own desires. They do these things for theirselves rather than for other's benefits, but still they do actual good things.
You're absolutely right that there are good people who listen to their reason constantly and therefore do only good things.

You then said 2 things that are very interesting: "what we are taught that we should do" and " Almost everyone has a conscience, it is just our responsibility to act on it."

On the first sentence, we must now consider to which degree we're taught what a good person should do, and even to which degree we are taught to have reason and listen to it. I think it's only to a small extent, as the very first people on earth felt the need to live in societies as well, where they respected one another. Those people weren't taught anything! But it is true, young children will learn to share with their friends and so good things will become a habit to them.

The second sentence is something very complicated: conscience. Why would we feel bad about following our natural need? My explanation would not be the same as yours. You say that we develop it as we live, we develop it naturally and this is a good part about humans, am I right?
You are very right that it is developed during life as children never show regret unless they are directly punished. But again, some adults will feel more conscience than others. Why is that? I'd like to bring up my old model here, where their conscience exists because they have the reasoning to know that what they did, is NOT what the "perfect person" would do. However, my model doesn't entirely work here. Even my cat, who clearly has no reasoning at all, will show regret when he sits on the kitchen table while he knows he's not allowed to do that. He then makes very guilty noises. I've asked around, and with other cats it appears to be exactly the same.

Then where does conscience come from? I'd like to hear your explanation about it!
the_unknown_debator

Pro

I will admit that is a very hard question to answer."where does conscience come from?" but I think I might have the answer. I believe that our conscience is a natural inheritance that most people have. Without some sense of morality to guide us and tell us what to do many things I do not think would be possible. Early societies would not function if people did not have some kind of inner feeling that tells them whether or not what they are doing is wrong and would collapse as their is no morality and structure. Going back to the main argument I do think that human nature is good because most of us have this inner feeling that seems to be even in those that may have not been taught as well as others to do good things.
Debate Round No. 3
revic

Con

Regards to the "inner feeling" I must say that I believe this feeling comes from reason, rather than from our heart (if I may say such vague things).

My main proof for this will be that children do not have such inner feelings as conscience, and morality unless when they're taught these things. Children will follow their own desires, and as Lacan, Freud and so many others have said it, all their actions reflect their own desire.
What you are saying is that somehow it would be their desire to do good things - I believe that they'd indeed do good things, but only when not doing the good thing leaves them neutral. If a child could choose between having a dollar himself, or give a dollar to a homeless man, most children would keep the dollar. However, if a child gets the option to give the man a dollar but no alternative, the child will ofcourse give the man a dollar.
As children grow older, they will indeed grow a conscience that forces them to give the man a dollar or to regret it if they don't. But I believe that this conscience comes from reasoning - as soon as we stop thinking about it, we won't feel bad about it at all.

This ofcourse doesn't prove your explanation wrong. Your explanation still is equally as strong as mine, but I'd like you to answer this one question: how come children don't show any of these inner desires which result in conscience? If this really was the human nature, partly desiring good things as well, then why don't children show these desires?
the_unknown_debator

Pro

Children are still young. Yes, they do have emotions and are obviously more willing to keep the dollar rather than to give it to a homeless man but they are not full developed. When we get older, we become more aware of the need for doing good things as it benefits everyone as a whole. Most children are just to young and inexperienced to realize this. They may still want to do good things occasionally but normally do not understand the importance of them and why we do them until they are older.
Debate Round No. 4
revic

Con

Unfortunately, we are already in the concluding round...

So you would like to state that as children grow older, it is their natural need to do good things. However, they are only capable of following this natural need when they are older while their natural selfish needs are already being chased as children.
That is the only problem I have with your explanation, how can a child only follow one side of his nature?

I still believe that it is through reason they know what's good and they'll try to be the good person as much as they can/are aware of. Children are not aware of it at all, and have no idea what good is. To them, "good" is whatever benefits them.
"Becoming more aware" is exactly the right explanation as you gave it: earlier, they were not smart enough to figure out what a "good person" should do.

I'd like to conclude (from my side at least) that my model has held up (the bad nature vs good reasoning- model) in even this situation. My opponent did make me aware that children do not follow this model as they have no reasoning, and made me aware of the "conscience"part in us, which we have when we are aware we made the bad choice. For that last example, my quick explanation would be simply that within those people with conscience, their reasoning has got the better of them.

I enjoyed this debate alot and hope to meet my opponent again!
the_unknown_debator

Pro

It was a pleasure to debate with you. I do still think that as children get older they will learn the difference between right and wrong and not just do things for themselves. While not all people are good and never think of their needs when doing something, I do believe that man in a whole is good. That is right will always eventually triumph, and that there is worth and value to each and every life.
I also enjoyed the debate and hope to meet you again someday.
Debate Round No. 5
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by revic 2 years ago
revic
@Chimera, I suggest you actually read the debate so that you would see what it's about.
You'll see that all humans have some things in common and that my model applies to every case it has been presented to so far, please feel free to find me a case that proves it wrong.

I agree that good and bad don't exist as they are indeed left open for interpretation. But through reason, we can form our own idea of what's good and what's bad - some will fail at this severely, while most will agree to what's good and what's bad. It is only in the smallest details that people can differ in opinion on what's good and what's bad, like for example "would you steal to feed your familiy?". Some will say yes, that is a good thing to do, others would disagree.
But my theory takes all these points into consideration as it does not matter whether we judge an action "good" or "bad", as my theory concludes that everything we do is in some way for our own benefit. It is out of self-interest and our own desires.
I believe we all agree that chasing your own desires makes us comparable to wolves, especially when that leads to bad actions such as murder. I do not exclude that people can still do good things - however, everything they do is solely for theirselves.

Before you comment to this, please read the debate as it will make clear that the good actions of people have an explanation as well.

Ofcourse, this is useless if you believe that doing things solely for yourself and out of self-interest would be a good thing. I consider it an evil nature, as a better model would be all humans naturally being empathic and loving. That is not so, and that's why i conclude we have an evil nature rather than a good nature.
Posted by Chimera 2 years ago
Chimera
@revic

There is no way to describe how all of humankind thinks, there is nothing that all of us have in common. Humankind has been redefining 'human nature' (which is supposed to be a static term) from the beginnings of civilization. Ethics are changing things, so human nature cannot exist.

Good and evil don't exist because they aren't universal concepts. For instance, if I asked a psychopath what their definition of 'good' was, it would be something completely different than what a sane person would say. Ethics are not universal things. There is no such thing as universal good or evil. Good and evil can only be observed from an inwards looking out perspective (personal perspective), and not from an outwards looking in perspective (worldly perspective).
Posted by revic 2 years ago
revic
@mhykiel, it's because both sides can source great philosophers! You could do alot of research to see what each person has said about it, but since i've thrown in my own theory, I can't possibly source anything. Once my opponent starts sourcing, I'm but an ant in society and can't contratict the greatest!
Well, perhaps my opponent should get the chance to source.
Posted by Mhykiel 2 years ago
Mhykiel
Why no sourcing, That's a point and it's beneficial to voters?
Posted by revic 2 years ago
revic
Chimera, there is. Behavior is the reflections of all our actions and the interpretations of those. Human nature is a term we use to describe humankind in its pure form, including how he thinks. This is something all humans would have in common. Human behavior clearly varies.

Good and evil exist as well, albeit that there is a third party, the "tabula rasa": a blank paper = a person that gets written on during his lifetime. It really is so that human nature is either comparable to a wolf or to no animal at all.
Posted by Chimera 2 years ago
Chimera
There is no such thing as human nature, only human behavior. Good and evil don't exist either.
Posted by PeacefulChaos 2 years ago
PeacefulChaos
Okay.

I'm almost done with my AP Exams and school projects, so if no one else accepts this until I'm done, then I'll consider accepting it.
Posted by revic 2 years ago
revic
Most certainly! we are trying to find a universal law of nature, so it must fit in for every single example!
Posted by PeacefulChaos 2 years ago
PeacefulChaos
Are personal accounts allowed as examples?
No votes have been placed for this debate.