It is never wrong to accept a gift
I had been thinking over this interesting idea for a while now and recently I've had a change of thought.
First, I will define my terms:
'a gift', could be anything the person gives which makes him lose somehow. For example the gift could be a new phone, a holiday, a lift to work, a free English lesson etc. Whereas, it would not be opening the door for you because the person doing that does not lose out on anything.
to 'accept a gift' means that someone gives you something and insists somehow that they do not expect nor want you to return the favour. For example, in my experience, my friend bought me a new watch - for no reason - and insisted it was a gift and she didn't expect anything in return - just because we're good friends.
I am arguing against the topic. My arguments are:
1. It is wrong to accept gifts when it is from a person you're breaking up with. For example, suppose you are in a relationship with someone but it's not working so you're breaking up. That person is crazily in love with you and so sends you gifts. He insists he doesn't want the favour returned but it would be wrong to accept the gifts because you'd be leading him on, continuing the relationship and prolonging the breakup which would be emotionally damaging for yourself and him.
2. No gift is ever truly without return. A person gives you a gift and insists on nothing in return, it changes the receiver. The person who gets the gift already feels guilty or feels like he needs to pay the person back. There is a kind of emotional investment whenever a person receives a gift. Over time, resentment will build if the person who gets all the gifts never gives anything back - despite how hypocritical it is that the giver never asked for returned favours anyway. Therefore, sometimes it is wrong to accept a gift if you are not prepared to carry the long term burdens.
These arguments are from my own experiences - [haha - I'm obviously a popular guy] so I don't have any references to sources - as of yet.
I would foremost like to welcome Con to debate.org, where there are truly some interesting characters. I hope he will make a fine addition to the site. That said, I also thank him for instigating this debate. I will shorten my opponent’s quotes to match the character limit.
I agree to this definition as well.
1. It is wrong to accept gifts when it is from a person you're breaking up with.
There is a non-sequitor in this argument. Firstly, accepting a gift does not necessarily mean "you'd be leading him on." Especially given the above definition of "accept<ing> a gift," as the giver clearly is not expecting anything back nor wants the favor returned. A relationship also is not limited to dating, and two people can break-up and still remain friends that remembers each other's birthdays and occasionally give each other gifts (such as buying each other a cup of coffee/meal). It would not be prolonging the breakup, if the breakup already occured. If, however, a person is taking advantage of such a situation strictly to get something out of the giver, then recieving the gift itself is not what is immoral: what is immoral is having the intention to swindle someone for said gifts, which is more akin to lying/false promises.
2. No gift is ever truly without return.
One does not necessarily recieve guilt for receiving a gift. There is only guilt, when one has done something wrong to recieve it or is undeserving of said gift (ie, you cheat on your SAT to get a perfect score, and your parents gift you a new car). There may be a feeling of gratitude from gifts (which may result in the feeling of having "to pay the person back"), but that is something different from guilt. It is also a non-sequitor that "resentment will build if the person who gets all the gifts never gives anything back" as that is strictly situational depending on numerous factors (ie the temperment and relationship of the giver and the receiver). As we already established that nothing is wanted in exchange for a gift (as that would make it closer to a trade) by the giver, we have no reason to believe that given that this feeling (of not wanting favours returned) is genuine that there would be any sort of resentment. And therefore, there would be no long term burdens, if a gift is no-strings-attached so to speak.
Due to character limitations, I will post counter arguments in round 2, where Con may refute them in round 3. And I will post no new arguments in round 3, and only reply to his refutations.
Given this is true, my opponent supports my side in many ways in his 2nd refutation. He admits that sometimes one could feel guilt at accepting a gift such as his SAT example. He also supports my argument by admitting that sometimes resentment will build if the receiver never gives back " based on numerous factors such as temperament etc. As my opponent admits that sometimes my argument is correct in some situations, then this supports my side that sometimes it is wrong to accept a gift.
With respect to my opponent, I would like to add that he does point out that if a gift is given and accepted, as per my definition, then logically no resentment should be held because the giver does not want anything in return and so would have nothing to resent the receiver for. I concede to this point and admit this exposes a problem with my definition of accepting a gift. It would be better if the definition was given to "giving a gift" i.e.:
"giving a gift" is to give something with no desire to have a return. If this definition was used then the opponent is right in saying no resentment should be held. This is because resentment would be held because the giver actually expects a return " eventually " which does not meet the definition of giving a gift.
1. In response to my opponent"s 1st refutation, he has misunderstood my first argument. My example was of 2 people in the process of breaking up, not already having broken up and now become friends. If people have become friends then surely there wouldn"t be any problem with accepting gifts as per the definition. In my example, however, John wants to break up with Jane but Jane loves John and doesn"t want to break up. Jane gives gifts to John as an expression of love. It would be wrong of John to accept the gifts as this would prolong the break up and be damaging as per my 1st argument.
I would agree with my opponent about his second subpoint that a person taking advantage and manipulating the giver by accepting gifts " the acceptance is not wrong but the intentions are.
In summary then, my response is:
1. Being the Con of the debate means "sometimes it is wrong to accept a gift".
2. My opponent supports my side in his 2nd refutation by admitting my arguments are sometimes true.
3. My point about resentment being held by the giver is refuted
4. My 1st argument still stands as my opponent did not address it.
Due to my character restrictions - it is difficult for me to give an additional argument - I suck :(
So I will try to include it later.
While we established that it a true gift does not require a return, and indeed, the return is not even wanted, that does not mean that the favor should not or could not be returned. If my friend buys me dinner and does not expect me to buy him one back, I could still buy him one just because I want to. It is my belief that there are few greater joys than the happiness of giving. And indeed, we established that a true gift is given not out of alternative interests (ie a bribe) but a genuine desire to share something.
Secondly, I am not arguing that one must always accept a gift. A gift may be denied if the receiver feels uncomfortable, but the act of recieving a gift itself is not inherently wrong under the contexts of this debate. As in the gift offered by the giver is a "true gift" that is given willingly and is benign to the giver and reciever.
Response to Refutations:
The SAT example is not pointing out that it is wrong to accept a gift; as the wrongness always comes from NOT the “act of receiving,” but the potential receiver’s INTENT to swindle the giver. The receiver in the SAT example can admit that he cheated on the SAT and still recieve the car without a guilty conscious, if, however, the car is taken away by the giver, it does not count as a "true" gift to begin with (it is more like a trade). The purpose of this example was to show that the receiving of the “gift” alone is faultless; it is the active intent to swindle that is wrong.
In regard to my argument based on “temperment and numerous factors,” I believe that “true givers” are rare, while the “false givers” are many. Mainly, under the nature of our own definitions, the “true” giver must give without any favors returned, given these feeling are genuine, there is no reason to believe there would be any resentment. I believe my opponent later concedes this point.
In regards to my opponent’s “Jane & John” situation, I believe that John is committing the wrongness of not breaking up with Jane despite not loving her (especially if he is only doing this for gifts). The problem is not Jane giving presents (and her beloved receiving them), an act which may give her genuine joy. The "moral" process would be for 1) John to break up with Jane, 2) accept the gifts if he feels comfortable and Jane is still willing to give them, and 3) hopefully still be able to be social.
I will not post any new arguments in the final round (as my opponent will not have a chance to respond to them), however, I welcome any new arguments from him (as I am not bound by such restriction). That said, I look forward to his reponses.
My opponent also details about Jane&John that if John feels comfortable then he can accept the gift. Is this to imply that if John doesn"t feel comfortable then he shouldn"t accept the gift? If this is the case then it is true that sometimes it is wrong to accept a gift. In addition, similar to my first point in this round, it is wrong for John to accept Jane"s gifts whatever the reasons may be " whether these are because he should break up first and be comfortable as proposed by my opponent.
Another argument to support Con I offer is:
Suppose this example " again based on people I know.
Paul and Anne are in love and happily together. Anne is totally potty about Paul and showers him with gifts all the time and he gladly accepts them. So much so, that Paul never wants or needs anything. She gives him money, objects (e.g. car, phone, games, furniture etc). As a result of accepting all these gifts, Paul gets used to this treatment and becomes completely dependent on Anne. Now this could end disastrously in some ways; I propose some but there may be more:
1. Anne dies. Paul"s life is shattered and now he has nothing. As a result of Paul"s dependency, he hasn"t learnt how to fend for himself and so he ends up in a mental hospital or old people"s home. Not cool.
2. Because of Paul"s dependency his mind and body deteriorates and so becomes senile or gaga. He"s lost his independence and has become like an invalid child who needs someone to put food in his mouth. Not cool.
Thus this argument shows an interesting pattern. I am not arguing that it is wrong of Paul to accept Anne"s individual gifts. Each gift Anne gives to Paul is good; even Paul might think so as he receives them. Like a Sorites paradox, accepting one gift is fine and logically would be fine with every instance, but in reality many one gifts accepted may develop into over-dependency which would become damaging.
It is sometimes wrong to accept gifts because it takes away independence which may lead to health problems.
Gift acceptance is not inherently wrong but may be wrong due to the situation such as a person's intent.
As this is my last round I am sad to draw this to a close :( . It's been fun and I thank my opponent for his good arguments.
In response to “SAT-Car Example”
As I clarified in Round 2, “the car” does not qualify as a gift if it is contingent upon the fact that the receiver had gotten perfect score on the SAT. It would be more of a reward, which makes it contractual. Also if this act of receiving the gift is harmful to the receiver or the giver, as in, it is not “benign” (one of the definitions I asked to be added in round 1 of gift). In the “Reward for SAT” case, the receiver would be harming his conscious to accept the reward. The gift fails to be a gift as it is not benign and it is not given without exchange (the car being contingent upon the SAT score). The only way the car could qualify as a gift is if the receiver confirmed with the giver that the Car was not contingent upon the SAT score being genuine/perfect.
In response to “Jane & John”
In regards to John feeling uncomfortable accepting the gift, it fails to be a gift if it causes a significant discomfort, as it is no longer benign to the receiver or the giver. That is why I gave examples of what John must do in order for the “gift” to be considered a gift, otherwise, it is more akin to lying/stealing/swindling, which is not accepting or giving a gift but more comparable to robbery or stealing from charity.
If these “gifts” cause harm to Paul, then they also fail to be gifts as they would not be benign. Especially if Anne is maliciously spoiling him like a mother overfeeding her obese child.
Con’s argument here inherently suggests that at a certain point the gift no longer becomes a gift but a poison as it begins to harm the individual. Then by default it is no longer a gift, the moment it becomes harmful.
“Gift acceptance is not inherently wrong but may be wrong due to the situation such as a person's intent.”
Depending on the situation/intent, the gift may not be a gift at all, which is the basis of my argument throughout this debate.
To quote myself from round 1:
As these definitions were not challenged by Con, and indeed, he seems to agree to them in round 2, I believe I have proven the resolution within the terms/definitions provided.
I also had great time debating this, and thank Con once more for instigating this debate.