The Instigator
papadoi1
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
dawndawndawndawn
Con (against)
Winning
9 Points

It is not OK to help someone if it is not in your self-interest

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
dawndawndawndawn
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/2/2013 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 787 times Debate No: 37253
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (5)
Votes (2)

 

papadoi1

Pro

I think it is a fun topic to discuss and everyone has something to say about it...

The argument is "It is not OK to help someone if it is not in your self-interest". This is a common sense attitude that many people have, but can it be defended?

Everyone is welcome!
dawndawndawndawn

Con

If the statement is true, no parents should ever help their children unless they get a signed statement from the child,
guaranteeing, that the child will pay them back.

Sometimes, it is VERY easy to help someone when you have nothing to gain.
Just calling 911, when you know that someone is getting beaten, is one way.

We could use the stance of "karma" but that would be "self interest"
but, the more important point is,
who is the person who "decides" if something is ok or not?

Further points:
1. if you help a lost child at the mall by standing there and calling security
you gain nothing but you darned well should do it, especially if no one else is doing it

2. I help animals. They - never- return the favor.
I clean cages, clip nails and feed ferals. I gain nothing from all that.

3. Some people helped me when I was homeless.
Many of them got nothing in return ( some did ).

Those who just gave me a ride and did not hurt me or do anything else might have been going for
"karma" or just "doing god's work" but I did not pay them or find them to thank them or blow them.

They were just good people.

I find that the most important point in this is the assumption
that someone has to "OK" nice deeds.

That part is drivel.

The promise of karma is a motivator for good deeds.
Some may argue that what goes around does not come around.
Most of those people are young or demanding perfection without checking the balance.
Religious teachings, often, seek to motivate good behavior but they do it with a carrot on a stick
and do not have to deliver the "prize" in any way
Debate Round No. 1
papadoi1

Pro

Thanks for accepting the argument.

What you provide against the argument are cases where it appears that no self-interest is involved when you help someone.

1. Isn't it the case that many parents beat their kids (i.e. they come home drunk and angry) or do other things that are against to the well-being of the child? The point is that you assume that being a parent should be something good for the child. We may wish it so, but being a parent does not mean that you are a good parent.

2. 911 - Isn't it their Job to help people? They may feel proud and good about themselves for doing something nice, but it all just might be a days job. I don't think that helping someone necessarily means caring for him as a person

3. A person can raise an animal only to make it his meal one day.

4. Someone might help a homeless person but does he always do it because of "good will", perhaps he just had some loose change that he wanted to get rid of.

What I am trying to say is that we can not separate an action from its intent if we are to classify it as good or bad.
If we don't do that then all actions can be looked at retrospectively in more than one way.
For example: If we look at the action "Helping a lost child" then say it's OK and not to someone's self-interest, then we assume that there wasn't a self-interest to begin with, thus essentially affirming our own implicit thought about the action.

In another respect we can not say for certain that an action is OK, or good without looking at its consequences.
For example "Helping a lost child", the child was lost but returning it back to a lunatic father does not mean that we really helped the child. It may have been lost because it run away from something.

My argument is this that if intent and consequences are necessary to classify an action as OK, good or moral, then I argue that a good action has an intent for the desired consequences.
I add to that that a rational human being can not possibly desire negative for himself.
Therefore a rational human being can not will something bad to happen to him through his actions.
It is your self-interest not to will something bad to happen to you through your actions.

if

An action is defined by its content, its intent and its consequences.
The content is the circumstances that the action takes place.
A rational person wills what is the best outcome for his action.
A rational person can not will something that is bad for him.
An "OK" action is to will something good to happen to you as a consequence of that action.
When good comes to you through your actions is to your self-interest.

Therefore, I reach the conclusion that: a rational person can only will what is good for him, which is his self-interest
dawndawndawndawn

Con

My comments are in CAPS

1. Isn't it the case that many ( PROVE THAT THE "NUMBER" IS: "MANY") parents beat their kids (i.e. they come home drunk and angry) or do other things that are against to the well-being of the child? The point is that you assume that being a parent should be something good for the child. We may wish it so, but being a parent does not mean that you are a good parent. MOST PARENTS DO NOT DEMAND THAT THEIR CHILDREN RETURN ALL THAT IS GIVEN. THEREFORE, BEING A PARENT IS DOING ACTS THAT DO NOT GET A RETURN

2. 911 - Isn't it their Job to help people? They may feel proud and good about themselves for doing something nice, but it all just might be a days job. I don't think that helping someone necessarily means caring for him as a person

"JOB" MEANS: "PAID" AND IS, THEREFORE, FOR A RETURN AND NOT ALTRUISTIC

3. A person can raise an animal only to make it his meal one day.

FEW, IF ANY, DOG AND CAT OWNERS EVER EAT, OF INTEND TO EAT, THEIR PETS.

4. Someone might help a homeless person but does he always do it because of "good will", perhaps he just had some loose change that he wanted to get rid of.
MOST PEOPLE GIVE WITH KARMA IN THEIR MINDS AND only A PERSON WHO HAS NOT
KNOWN POVERTY WOULD ever THINK OF "GETTING RID" OF CHANGE

What I am trying to say is that we can not separate an action from its intent if we are to classify it as good or bad.
YES. WE CAN. ACTIONS, LIKE SNEEZES, HAVE NO BRAIN-INTENT
If we don't do that then all actions can be looked at retrospectively in more than one way.
ALL ACTIONS CAN BE LOOKED AT IN MORE THAN ONE WAY WITHOUT YOUR, ABOVE, SENTENCE.
For example: If we look at the action "Helping a lost child" then say it's OK and not to someone's self-interest, then we assume that there wasn't a self-interest to begin with, thus essentially affirming our own implicit thought about the action.
WHAT WAS THE IMPLICIT THOUGHT ABOUT THE ACTION? IS "OUR" THE PERSON- HELPING, OR, US - OBSERVING THE PERSON AS IT HELPS?

In another respect we can not say for certain that an action is OK, or good without looking at its consequences.
THIS IS A DIFFERENT DEBATE.
For example "Helping a lost child", the child was lost but returning it back to a lunatic father does not mean that we really helped the child. It may have been lost because it run away from something.
"RUNNING AWAY " IS DIFFERENT FROM "LOST".

My argument is this that if intent and consequences are necessary to classify an action as OK, good or moral, then I argue that a good action has an intent for the desired consequences.
"INTENT" AND "CONSEQUENCES" ARE NOT THINGS THAT CAN BE TERMED AS "NECESSARY".
I THINK THAT YOU ARE TRYING TO SAY THAT, A PERSON SEES THAT SOMETHING GOOD CAN BE DONE AND INTENDS TO DO THAT THING, THAT PERSON INTENDS TO DO THAT THINGS TO CAUSE A GOOD OUTCOME.
I THINK THAT YOU ARE USING THE WORD "CONSEQUENCES" IN CORRECTLY. "CONSEQUENCES" MEANS "RETRIBUTION FOR BAD BEHAVIOR" AND IS A BAD THING.
I add to that that a rational human being can not possibly desire negative for himself.
AND YET, A MOTHER LIFTS A CAR OFF OF HER SON AND GETS HURT. SHE LIFTS, KNOWING THAT SHE WILL GET HURT.

Therefore a rational human being can not will something bad to happen to him through his actions.
YES. SECURITY GUARDS FOR THE RICH ARE REQUIRED TO THROW THEMSELVES IN FRONT OF BULLETS
It is your self-interest not to will something bad to happen to you through your actions.

if

An action is defined by its content, its intent and its consequences.
( THIS SENTENCE IS PRETTY GOOD)
The content is the circumstances that the action takes place.
( THIS SENTENCE IS A, GRAMMATICAL, MESS.)
A rational person wills what is the best outcome for his action.
I THINK THAT YOU MEAN "HOPES", NOT "WILLS".
A rational person can not will something that is bad for him.
MANY RATIONAL PEOPLE GET VERY DRUNK AND DO IT WILLFULLY.
An "OK" action is to will something good to happen to you as a consequence of that action.
( THIS SENTENCE, TOO, IS A, GRAMMATICAL, MESS. )
When good comes to you through your actions is to your self-interest.
( IS THE USE OF COMMAS AGAINST YOUR RELIGION OR DO YOU JUST NOT KNOW?
WITH, OR WITHOUT COMMAS, THIS SENTENCE, TOO, IS A GRAMMATICAL MESS. )

Therefore, I reach the conclusion that: a rational person can only will what is good for him, which is his self-interest

SOME TIMES, GOOD PEOPLE GIVE UNTIL IT HURTS AND GAIN NOTHING
Debate Round No. 2
papadoi1

Pro

papadoi1 forfeited this round.
dawndawndawndawn

Con

Restraint. I shall practice it.
Debate Round No. 3
papadoi1

Pro

I was not around! Sorry!

In any case. We can go on like this forever. You can present what you consider as unambiguous examples and I can go on saying that there is more than one way to look at each particular example. I think that the core of the debate is different. Part of it lies in the way that human action is structured and another part lies in the way that this action is interpreted. I had a friend who was not "fascist" or "extremist" but, it was night and there were some guys following him. He was white. To "secure" himself he joined some people at a bus station who you might call as "Nazi's". If you isolate his move, then it run contrary to what he believed was "the right thing to do". He was totally against this ideology. In the face of danger though, he thought it was his safest option. How are we going to interpret his action? We need to evaluate all the parameters, isolating the action is not sufficient.

Arguments from example have limitations.
Arguments from example have their limitations as they are open to interpretation. Who are we then to trust as an authority to get a correct characterization of the action? The individual, most likely. Well then, what can each individual tell us about his own actions? He might say " I did action A, even if this was not in my self-interest". Let's see what would happen if everyone acted in the same way. To me it is obvious that it would lead to a society where everyone took care of somebody else, therefore, even if the individual did not take care of himself, someone else would. Unless the individual was unaware of this social conduct and did not practice it mechanically, it would lead to a "positive" expectation towards others. He would assume, and rightly so, that someone else would take care of him. Moreover he would count on it for his own survival. He would expect someone else to "do the right thing and help him out". This assumption though could be rightly claimed to be his "self-interest", even if the means of achieving what he needs always pass through another person.

When you do not take your self-interest into account, then you run the risk of becoming a slave.
An individual who always helped the others, in a society of self-centered individuals, would end up becoming a slave. He could also become a slave if he believed in a "supreme lord" who is benevolent, or a political party, or anything that instructs him to disregard his own self and unquestionably agree with their decrees. I am leaving morality out of the picture here. If you accept what the other person tells you to accept, then the "content" of your action will always depend on the other person, and no matter what it actually is, you will always consider it as "right" or "ok".

In order to rationally judge an action it is necessary to take your self-interest into account.
Take a simple choice, the kind of food to eat. A burger or a salad. In order to make a rational choice between them you need a criterion for selecting food. Health or taste can be used as different criteria. If you let others impose their criteria on you, then your choice is not rational, it is forced on you. If you want to make an independent rational choice you have to evaluate both parameters. Then you can decide what is best for you.
Now let's assume that you try to rationalize the action only by thinking what is best for others. This seems impossible. If you give priority to your family, then you will chose healthy food because it will make you live longer and be with them more. If you give priority to the manufacturer of burgers, you will chose a burger because he also needs to work and survive...and so on. You must draw a line because different people will demand that you take a different course of action (which involves them rather than someone else).

To be self-centered does not mean that your actions are against other people. It means that you rationally chose what course of action to take. Your self-interest might well be to take into account the needs and desires of others around you, but not everyone.
dawndawndawndawn

Con

OK, factor in these, three,things

1. The consumption of alcohol does not benefit the individual or society.
Why do people drink?

2. Humans are herd animals. None of us can live without each other.

3. What is the structure/paradigm from which you start?
Debate Round No. 4
papadoi1

Pro

As it is the final round, I will try to address the questions that you pose. I can do that for questions 1 and 2, but I don't really understand what you mean by question 3. Then I will summarise and evaluate all arguments.

The case of alcohol is probably the same as anything addictive, like tobacco or drugs. It is quite true that they are harmful in many respects, especially if consumed in large amounts. What we are examining though is the question of "helping". Your second question is closer to what I think should be a broader definition of self-interest. By that I mean reaching the understanding that our personal well-being goes through other people. You pose this question assuming that, being a social animal, we necessarily do good things for others. If we actually do something good for someone else then it would seem to contradict my initial statement. You did ask "who decides what's ok", and that is a crucial question.

I didn't deny the existence of altruism or egoism, or that people do good things for others. They do good things for others all the time, but they mostly do good things for themselves. The contention is that it is not OK to help. Rightfully you ask "who decides what's OK?". Well, it's not me. According to my statement there is a conditional implication, that is, self-interest must exist in order for helping someone to be "OK". My objection was that self-interest is important to OK an action because without it the result could be unacceptable. For example, a completely altruistic selfless person would donate his liver, his eyes, his heart. If he was unable to recognize his self-interest, he would die. The same thing would happen if he was unable to critically evaluate other people's advice.

What I believe the use of alcohol demonstrates it that rationality, or rational justification, has a social basis! If you can do something bad to yourself on purpose, then where would this end? You might as well cut you arm off or commit suicide. There are sets of instincts and feelings that can make someone decide to do irrational things out of "love", "hate", "anger" and so on. If negative feelings did not exist I believe I have shown that it would be detrimental for the person.

Your argumentation is based in establishing examples where a. someone does not have self-interest and b. the person performs the action which is not to his self-interest. I partly agree, but for the fact that "OK" implies a kind of moral rationalization which does not need to coincide with every possible action. I have been in a couple of car accidents and to my amazement most people decided to watch and take pictures of the scene instead of calling an ambulance, assuming that "someone else must have done that already". The point that I want to make is that when someone needs help, then something happened which put him in this situation. No one wants to be involved with situational risks that he does not know how to control. Maybe the passers by just had no medical newel's, so they didn't want to get involved because there was little they could do. The necessary commitment in helping a person is very big, because the action might just be the beginning of a series of actions. Therefore a person does not only "look" at a particular situation, but also to how the future possible events might involve him. Many times people offer their advice "you should do that", but advice is not what a person who needs help mostly wants.

There is not enough room in the argument, but I do not consider "feelings" to be irrational, or without purpose. Feelings can account for actions, but I consider them to have a reference to self-preservation, even in cases where they push you to make extremely dangerous choices.

The general attitude of people mostly reveals that self-interest is taken into consideration in performing actions. Even in particular instances where it appears "not-present" it exists because self-preservation is essential for species preservation.
dawndawndawndawn

Con

Your, original, question implies that, if I hold a door
for someone and do not get paid,
you will run up to me and say, "STOPSTOP, what you are doing is "not OK".

So, your, original, question is unrealistic.

The way that you worded it is awkward.
Perhaps you meant that no one, really, does anything
unless they get something out of it.

So, you worded it in a form that states an approval..."ok".

If you mean to say that you have never seen anyone do anything altruistically,
you would have acquired a series of stories and lost the debate as the
question would have been, "Have you?" and you would have gotten answers.

This piece that you typed. "...our personal well-being goes through other people. "
(surely you meant, "groups of people" not individuals )
"You pose this question assuming that, being a social animal, we necessarily do good things for others."
( you missed that others do things for us and we all go together over a bridge that we hope was build well for the whole group )
"If we actually do something good for someone else then it would seem to contradict my initial statement."
( exactly why I took this, easy, debate )
"You did ask "who decides what's ok", and that is a crucial question. "
( exactly, what you missed in the wording of your original statement.)

" I didn't deny the existence of altruism or egoism, or that people do good things for others."
Your original statement implied it.

" According to my statement there is a conditional implication, that is, self-interest must exist in order for helping someone to be "OK". "
Why and how do you come to the conclusion that self-interest MUST exist?
And, again, who decides what it ok?
As to my third point in my post with three, numbered points,
you had to start some where to come up with these ideas.
You started with a paradigm.
What is the structure/paradigm from which you start?
Where did you come up with the idea that self-interest MUST exist
and where did you come up with the idea that somebody MUST "OK" a giving behavior?

"My objection was that self-interest is important to OK an action because without it the result could be unacceptable. For example, a completely altruistic selfless person would donate his liver, his eyes, his heart. If he was unable to recognize his self-interest, he would die. "
How is that person's decision any of your business to object?
Are you the king of him?
Who told you that you are The Decider who can object to his decisions?

" What I believe the use of alcohol demonstrates it that rationality, or rational justification, has a social basis! If you can do something bad to yourself on purpose, then where would this end? You might as well cut you arm off or commit suicide. There are sets of instincts and feelings that can make someone decide to do irrational things out of "love", "hate", "anger" and so on. If negative feelings did not exist I believe I have shown that it would be detrimental for the person. "

The first sentence of the above paragraph, either, had spelling errors or needs re-writing.
The next three sentences, simply, state what people do -without asking if YOU care about it or
asking your permission and the last sentence...no. You have not.

"Your argumentation is based in establishing examples where a. someone does not have self-interest and b. the person performs the action which is not to his self-interest. I partly agree, but for the fact that "OK" implies a kind of moral rationalization which does not need to coincide with every possible action."
Then, why waste the debate on it?

" I have been in a couple of car accidents and to my amazement most people decided to watch and take pictures of the scene instead of calling an ambulance, assuming that "someone else must have done that already". The point that I want to make is that when someone needs help, then something happened which put him in this situation. No one wants to be involved with situational risks that he does not know how to control. Maybe the passers by just had no medical newel's, so they didn't want to get involved because there was little they could do."
This is post-cell-phone behavior and big-city behavior.

" The necessary commitment in helping a person is very big, because the action might just be the beginning of a series of actions. "
No. Holding a door for a mother with a stroller flies in the face of this sentence

"but I do not consider "feelings" to be irrational, or without purpose. Feelings can account for actions, but I consider them to have a reference to self-preservation, even in cases where they push you to make extremely dangerous choices. "
Really? Is your "consider"ation the be-all end-all for all-people's thinking?
This would be fine if we asked YOU to be our leader but there is a kingly background to typing
this way in a debate topic that is unbecoming of your station.
Shall you walk up to people and say, "I, yes, ME, I consider your feelings to have purpose sometimes."?

" The general attitude of people mostly reveals that self-interest is taken into consideration in performing actions."
Did you do a poll? From whence do you make this statement, please?

" Even in particular instances where it appears "not-present" it exists because self-preservation is essential for species preservation. "

You are typing on a computer that you did not and cannot build wearing clothes that you did not sew
out of fabric that you did not make fueled by food that you did not grow and likely, did not cook.

Even the woman in "Island of the Blue Dolphins" learned a LOT from a group before she preserved herself all alone.

Group we are. Group we continue. Alone, we die off.
Debate Round No. 5
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by papadoi1 3 years ago
papadoi1
Fair engough but their main purpose was to set the scene for the next part. In any case it was the "opponent" stated examples as proofs, I was only driving to the conclusion that he was essentially affirming the conclusion before he stated it.
Posted by funwiththoughts 3 years ago
funwiththoughts
Your "rebuttals" (if they can be called that) were basically saying "yeah, well a person can do that and be selfish", which doesn't address anything.
Posted by papadoi1 3 years ago
papadoi1
How did you read that from what I said? PLS explain
Posted by funwiththoughts 3 years ago
funwiththoughts
Uhhhh, the debate isn't called "is there such a thing as a universally good act", papadoi. None of what you are saying is on-topic.
Posted by Numble 3 years ago
Numble
I think it's called being a worthless person.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Projectid 3 years ago
Projectid
papadoi1dawndawndawndawnTied
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: The Pro forfeited a round so conduct goes to Con. The Pro had multiple grammatical errors so s/p goes to Con. The Con clearly argued better and gave sound responses to the opposing arguments, whereas the Pro did not hold or prove his position. No one used any resources so that is tied. Interesting debate, I enjoyed reading it.
Vote Placed by funwiththoughts 3 years ago
funwiththoughts
papadoi1dawndawndawndawnTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct to Con due to Pro FF, Arguments to Con since Pro's "rebuttals" were mostly just "there could be a self-interest" instead of showing why the examples were not OK.