The Instigator
Contradiction
Pro (for)
Winning
19 Points
The Contender
EthanHuOnDebateOrg
Con (against)
Losing
12 Points

It is probable that objective moral facts exist

Do you like this debate?NoYes+4
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 6 votes the winner is...
Contradiction
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/20/2011 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 5,319 times Debate No: 19381
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (47)
Votes (6)

 

Contradiction

Pro

NOTE: I prefer to go up against an experienced debater. If you have less than 10 completed debates, please post in the comment section before you accept.

TERMS

Resolved:
It is probable that objective moral facts exist

Rounds:

1. Acceptance only
2. Opening arguments
3. Clash
4. Closing arguments/clash

By "objective" I refer to the state of being true regardless of whether or not any human beings believe it to be true. Stated precisely, a fact is objective if its truth value is independent of the doxastic state of any human persons. By "moral fact" I refer to any normative states of affairs, whether they be about moral values or duties. "Probable" will be defined as being more likely than not. This is not a debate involving God or the moral argument for the existence of God.

The time limit between replies is 72 hours. If special circumstances arise, one side may ask the other to wait out his or her remaining time. If one side explicitly concedes or violates any of these terms, then all seven points will be awarded to the other. By accepting this challenge, you agree to these terms.
EthanHuOnDebateOrg

Con

Thank you for the debate, and it will be an honor to learn from this debate.

As acceptance, I will provide a few inquiries for which I feel may be better used to facilitate understanding as well as to promote easier construction of points in the context of this resolution:
1> How the belief as treated as the modal operator of an individual in his/her doxastic state affects objective values as stated in the resolution
2> If by "moral fact" you refer to intrinsic states or principles referred to by human ideologies concerning moral values or duties, or any idea concerning moral values that corresponds to an objective fact tangible on a daily basis.
3> If you wish to confine the extent of this debate merely to the probability of existence for the stated objective moral facts as in quantity, or allow interpretation to include the concept of the two outcomes of merely existing or nonexisting.

Thank you, and I eagerly await any further developments.
Debate Round No. 1
Contradiction

Pro

In assessing whether or not it's probable that objective moral facts exist (OMFs), I want focus specifically on a certain type of moral fact: epistemic virtue and normativity. As such, if my opponent denies that there are objective moral facts, then he does so on pain of irrationality. The very possibility of rational discourse relies on there being such facts. As Tim Mawson has put it, objectivity about morality is "rationally inescapable." [1]

Epistemic Normativity

For there to be rational discourse, there must be certain norms about how we should think. Indeed, as agents with advanced cognitive faculties, we ought to believe what is true and we shouldn't believe what is false. We all ought to be rational regardless of whether we want to or not. One might ask "But why should I be rational?" Whoever asks this question, however, is already reasoning from within a rational framework, since his question presupposes that he should only believe something only if he is given a good reason for believing it. Our very thinking, then, presupposes the existence of objective rational norms.

Indeed, the very act of disputing this point ends up affirming it. Suppose you think that so far I have offered a bad argument. Presumably, you will also hold that one shouldn't be convinced by this argument. But to say that one shouldn't be convinced by bad arguments presupposes that there exists objective rational norms which govern how we ought to think -- namely, that we have a duty not to willingly embrace falsehoods. Now suppose you also attempt an argument against the existence of objective moral facts. If there are no objective rational norms, then I am under no requirement to accept yours -- or any argument, no matter how good it is. Obviously, this undermines the very idea of rational thought. The very point of argumentation is to convince another that a certain claim is true. We present premises with supporting evidence in the hope that our opponent will recognize the soundness of our argument and thus embrace it. But if there is no duty to embrace the truth, then it becomes trivial. Imagine the following conversation:

Joe: What do you think of my argument for heliocentrism?
Henry: I think it's a sound argument -- your conclusion was well-argued, and I see no problems with it.
Joe: So does that mean you'll become a heliocentrist now?
Henry: No
Joe: Why not?
Henry: Because I have no duty to embrace the truth.

Such an exchange is truly bizzare, and highlights the absurdity of denying epistemic norms.

One might fall back and say "Well... it's not that this argument shouldn't convince anyone, it's just that it doesn't." Fine, but given such a reply one cannot fault anyone for being convinced by bad arguments or for holding on to irrational positions. So one cannot fault the flat-earther who refuses to countenance the evidence against his position for anything -- he has no intellectual duty to believe the truth or to refrain from embracing irrational positions. Nor can one praise an individual for embracing the truth, for there is nothing praiseworthy about coming to adopt true beliefs. The person who believes that the sun orbits around the earth is just as "rational" as the person who believes that the earth orbits around the sun. But surely this is absurd. A final implication of this is that nobody is under any obligation to accept that very reply!

Consider the following principles and values which are foundational to the very possibility of rational discourse, all of which the skeptic of OMFs must deny:

1. It is good to believe the truth and avoid falsehood.
2. We ought to think rationally.
3. We ought not be convinced by bad arguments.

If relativism or nihilism about value entails such conclusions, then it can be rightly rejected as absurd. Given the ubiquity and centrality of rational discourse in everyday life, we have every reason to suppose that there are such things as objective moral facts.

One last reply is avaliable to the skeptic. Instead of saying that there are epistemic duties which are binding for everyone, one could adopt a sort of noetic subjectivism. On this view, one should be rational because it is good for him to do so. One thus avoids the more general claim that everyone should be rational. But then as Mawson points out:

"But he or she would now be left without any way of explaining why it is good for him or her and no-one else to believe truth and avoid falsehood. He or she wouldn’t be able to explain why it is good for him or her to believe truth and avoid falsehood in terms of the more general fact that its good per se to believe truth and avoid falsehood and he or she wouldn’t be able to consider himself or herself reasonable in thinking of himself or herself as a special case, the only person to whom such objective principles apply." [2]

The relativist/nihilist position is thus absurd. The denial of rational thought is too high a price to pay for the denial of objective value. By reflecting on the very nature of rationality, it becomes rather obvious that there must be objective moral facts.

Moral Perception and Sense Perception

Another way in which we might come to knowledge of objective moral facts is through intuition. Of course, many are skeptical of "intuition's" ability to provide us with accurate knowledge of how the world really is. But such a skepticism is unjustified. Indeed, we can construct a parallel argument by comparing moral intuition with sensory intuition. If beliefs inferred from sense intuition are prima facie justified, then so are moral beliefs. Unless one can find a relevant disanalogy, then it is it probable that objective moral facts exist. Consider then the following argument:

1. If our sensory beliefs are trustworthy, then our moral beliefs are trustworthy.
2. Our sensory beliefs are trustworthy.
3. Therefore, our moral beliefs are trustworthy.

(2) seems obviously true to everyone but the most radical epistemological skeptics. It thus stands in no need of justification. There is no good reason to think that our sensory beliefs are untrustworthy. It is true that from time-to-time we might be provided with false experiences, but this only proves that our sensory beliefs are not infallible. As so long as our sensory faculties are functioning properly, we may infer that our sensory beliefs are prima facie reliable, meaning that in the absence of a defeater we are justified in trusting them. This is how we treat sensory beliefs in our daily lives.

Turning to (1), there doesn’t seem to be any relevant difference between our sensory beliefs and our moral beliefs. Perhaps someone might argue that (1) is a category mistake, since our sensory beliefs can be verified empirically whereas our moral beliefs cannot. This is deeply problematic. First, such an argument proves too much. It would not only apply to moral beliefs, but other rational beliefs which are non-empirically based. Our knowledge of mathematics and logic would thus be compromised. Second, it shows an unjustified bias toward empiricism. Why should we treat something as suspect just because it cannot be empirically verified? If pressed hard enough, it turns out to be self-defeating. Finally, such an argument is circular, for in order to verify our sense experiences through empirical means, one must already assume our sense experiences to be reliable!

Another response might be to say that sensory beliefs are relatively uncontroversial, whereas moral beliefs are not. However, by focusing only on non-paradigmatic cases, one begs the question. After all, there are controversial examples of sensory beliefs as well: there is bound to be a lot more disagreement as to the identity of a dark silhouetted moving figure in a far off distance during a stormy night. But we would not infer from these examples that our sensory experiences aren’t reliable.

__________

Sources

1. T. J. Mawson, "The Rational Inescapability of Value Objectivism" Think: A Journal of Philosophy 17/18 (2008)
2. Ibid, p.21
EthanHuOnDebateOrg

Con

I again thank my opponent for his time and patience that he has devoted into this current debate.

The probability of the existence of objective moral facts (OMFs), is, as my opponent states, mainly dependent upon the rational framework from which we reap the benefits of the presupposition of the existence of objective rational norms. Specifically, he makes the concept of epistemic normativity a central and fundamental base point of his framework, and provides a theory for which jurisdiction of the existence of OMFs depends on rational thought and the rational framework. My few inquiries cater to such a premise which I feel is a 'gray area' in the context of this resolution. My (2) question asks specifically whether by 'moral fact' you refer to values and principles of human ideologies concerning a moral factor, or specific objective facts which can be supposed to be 'moral' in their intrinsic make-up. The basic question is whether realism represents our best understanding of moral discourse and the ways in which moral judgements relate to the domain of human interaction and the natural world. In order to understand the motivation for endorsing realism and the plausibility of doing so a series of related questions must beconsidered.

'Rational Framework'
Indeed, as my opponent states that rational discourse is dependent upon the epistemic normative, thus there are crucial factors that provide severe obstacles to the logical framework of his argument. As he specifies that, we as advanced agents with cognitive faculties, rationality and the trustworthy belief system is fundamental to our very existence; an objective rational norm obviously has weight in the epistemic normative, yet the central concept remains that an objective rational norm is, and will never be, an objective fact that is closed to interpretation in any way. I can, for example, say that I have the burden, by rationality, to make certain decisions that I am obligated to do so in certain ways after rational thought, yet it does not ascertain that I am obligated to follow a objective moral normative, as it does not exist. Rationality as providing for what we judge is right or wrong shows that we base rationality as a fundamental concept that we do presuppose and go forth to implement in our daily lives and actions; yet such a normative concedes the very point of argumentation that I am trying to achieve, and that my opponent fails to recognize: That rationality does justify, or at least provide partial premises for which we give judgment to an action, yet it does not provide the grounds for which an objective moral fact can be formed. We can see, as in an example of Deontological Justification:

-S is justified in believing that p if and only if S believes that p while it is not the case that S is obliged to refrain from believing that p. [11]

Thus providing that rationality is obviously a factor for which we look to in any form of justification, believing in a normative in epistomology as well as our belief systems does not ensure that we can not endorse the non-existence of OMFs. Indeed, objective moral facts, as my opponent and I agree to some extent are defined as any normative states of affairs, whether they be about moral values or duties, and are ultimately true, no matter what interpretation allows. Thus we can clearly see that OMFs as well as metaphysics in of itself mandate that morality, represented in any medium or way, exemplified in values or duties, must be subjective and differing from individual to individual. An objective moral fact is not only obsurd in its supposition, but also impossible to achieve a normative of moral values as based on rationality. Rational discourse or thought affects our judgment on certain issues and actions, but a true 'normative' is impossible to achieve by means of rationality, not only because of our differing and different cognitive capacities, but also due to the inherently vague conception of moral issues and duties that vary in importance from person to person.

"Moral Perception and Sense Perception"
Not only does my opponent not provide the fundamental basis or criterion that is tangible for us to support existence of OMFs when he states that intuition and sense perception is absolutely adequate to determing the jurisdiction of the existence of OMFs, but also questions his whole framework of rationality as well. Indeed, if we are to rely on sense intuition as well as moral perception, as my opponent has reinstated in his case multiple times, we resort to differentiating values and duties as well as to embrace a differing belief system that discards his supposed concept of the 'normative'. Rationality is not only ignored in his observations and points, but also excluded in the basic and fundamental path of analogy that he constructs. His three statements that he states is empirical for me to refute as an opponent of the existence of OMFs is in its intrinsic construction, logically fallacious. The whole of the argument centers itself upon the assumption of the truthfulness of the trustworthiness of sensory beliefs. Trustworthiness in of itself does not in any way, implicitly or explicitly imply a normative, and thus sensory beliefs, which also discourages equality in composition, is impossible to achieve a rational normative for, thus making it impossible to justify existence of OMFs. Even if you would discard this argument, there is the basic issue that the whole argument does not cater to proving the existence of OMFs, only that "moral beliefs are trustworthy". In NO way does this prove an objective view of moral facts, instead actually going to support my argument that since trustworthiness is subjective in of itself, moral facts are subjective.

_____________________________________

Ideology-Fact Relation

Now, as this debate now concerns itself mainly with basic and fundamental principles of meta-ethics, we will take the assumption that it will also be an important factor in judging validity of arguments here as well. My opponent's view, that moral facts can be objective, is contradictory even in its statement. To prove that such is true, I will present the following example: An idea, whether it concern itself with morality, justice, or any field of knowledge, must be composed of subjective as well as objective components, which allow it to have both a vague concept experienced on an individual scale, but also having tangible relations to fact. Moral objectivism denies the fact that the ideology of moral facts can be subjective in composition; yet that would deny and provide a fallacy for the very definition of an idea or conceptual entity. The latter view, as put forward by Protagoras, holds that there are as many distinct scales of good and evil as there are subjects in the world.[2] The subjective aspect and factor of an idea is what makes it possible for us as individuals to accept and form it, and without subjectivity, there would be no concept of idea in an individual context. The soundness of this argument resounds through its appeal to not just rational normatives, but also the very concept of ideology in individuals.

Moral Realism/ Definition Naturalism
A moral fact in of itself not only mandates that we consider the factors and aspects of meta-ethics concerning pertinence of moral fact, but we also must look towards the modal operator itself as the underlying issue affecting moral existence. The concepts of right/wrong in our present society does not have a moral impact, nor does it actually form a tangible benchmark, as demonstrated by the fundamental principles of definition naturalism:
Definitional naturalism is basically that the view that we can define moral terms exclusively in terms apt for describing the subject matter of the natural and social sciences. The catch cry of definitional naturalism is not just analysis, but reductive analysis. Thus we see that moral relevance only exists when it can be subjective.
Debate Round No. 2
Contradiction

Pro

In Shakespeare's Hamlet, the character Polonius noted that "brevity is the soul of wit." By this he meant that arguments should be as concise as possible and not use any unnecessary and obfuscatory terminology. While I appreciate my opponent's reply, I must say that much of the wordage was unnecessarily complex and hard to follow. I implore of him to use terse language in his future responses.

Preface

Now recall that I argued for the position that the existence of OMFs are probable. By an OMF, I mean either a value-laden fact about a certain state of affairs (ie: murder is bad) or a duty about how we ought to behave (we should not murder). Does Con reply undermine my arguments, and does he effectively argue against the resolution? Clearly he does not even attempt the latter (His strategy was merely reactionary).

It is very important to note that the resolution of this debate is that it is probable that objective moral facts exist. In order to negate this resolution, Con must not merely refute my arguments, but also advance his own arguments to show that the existence of OMFs are not probable. If he does not do so, then he fails to uphold his burden of proof.

Given that Con has failed to uphold his side of the debate, we now turn to his replies to my opening argument.

Defense of Epistemic Normativity

Much of Con's argument against objective epistemic normativity is a non-sequitur. Indeed, it's hard just to piece together an actual argument from what he has said. What he seems to be arguing, however, is that epistemic normativity does not constitute evidence for OMFs because "an objective rational norm is, and will never be, an objective fact that is closed to interpretation in any way." This is due to the fact that we as humans have varying cognitive perspectives and also because one conceptions of moral issues are vague and subjective.

This argument is faces a myriad of problems. First, even granting the premise that we have a wide range of different perspectives from which we approach epistemic issues, it simply does not follow that there are no objective rational norms. How does the mere fact that rational agents may have different conceptions prove that there are no objective rational norms? Con seems to be assuming the following difference principle:

DP: If agents differ in regard to their beliefs on X, then X cannot be an objective fact.

But this is clearly false, if not self-refuting. Suppose that one disagrees with DP (as in fact I do), then by DP it must follow that DP is false by virtue of the fact that I disagree with it. Moreover, how does one's disagreement have any bearing on whether or not something is an objective fact? This confuses moral epistemology with moral ontology -- the order of knowing with the order of being. One's beliefs on an issue are irrelevant in regards to the actual state of that issue. Hence with regards with epistemic normativity, that there may exist agents who disagree with certain epistemic norms does not, by any process of logic, imply that there are no objective epistemic norms.

Our interpretation of certain rational norms may very will differ -- that I do not dispute, but this is a relatively trivial fact. Does that fact that we have differing interpretations mean that the principles in question are not objective? No. The interpretation of a principle is an epistemic question, not an ontological one. To reiterate: differing interpretations are irrelevant to the existence of OMFs.

Indeed, the definition of objective employed in this debate simply means "the state of being independent of human minds." By that one means that an objective fact does not depend on there being human minds. A certaininterpretation of what an objectie fact is may depend on a human mind, but that once again confuses the order of knowing with the order of being. Contrary to what Con has implicitly assumed, "objective" does not mean "believed/affirmed by all" -- a lie is still a lie, even if everyone believes it.

Defense of Moral Perception

Recall that I compared moral knowledge to sensory knowledge, arguing that OMFs probably exist because they are known through the same way we know sensory facts. Now, as much as I want to be charitable to my opponent, his reply was barely intelligible to me. At any rate, he seems to be attacking a strawman. He writes: "The whole of the argument centers itself upon the assumption of the truthfulness of the trustworthiness of sensory beliefs. Trustworthiness in of itself does not in any way, implicitly or explicitly imply a normative."

But so what? My argument doesn't assume or rely on such a notion. Of course trustworthiness doesn't "imply a normative" (whatever that means), but what has that got to do with my argument? Rather, the thrust of my argument is that the existence of OMFs are probable because our moral beliefs are trustworthy. Trustworthiness does entail that the belief in question probably corresponds to reality (aka: that it's true). So, if a moral belief such as "murder is wrong" is trustworthy, then it is probably true, and hence it follows from this that we are warranted in believing that OMFs really do obtain because moral beliefs are probably true.

He then writes that even if my argument proves that moral beliefs are trustworthy, this doesn't prove OMFs exist because moral beliefs are subjective. However, this is a textbook case of begging the question! If one assumes in advance that moral beliefs are subjective, then of course my argument doesn't work -- but that's circular reasoning. Au contraire, if my parallel argument is a good one, then it does render the existence of OMF probable. Why? Because if our moral beliefs are trustworthy, then it follows that they are probably true. And if they are probably true, then the entities referred to by our moral beliefs probably exist, hence vindicating OMF.

Refutation of Con's "Ideology-Fact Relation"

Con makes the rather bold claim that the statement that "moral facts can be objective, is contradictory even in its statement." This is because "Moral objectivism denies the fact that the ideology of moral facts can be subjective in composition." This is wraught with plethora of problems. As I have already pointed out above, moral objectivism only claims that moral facts themselves are objective and leaves open the question of how they are interpreted. Con is again confusing moral epistemology with moral ontology. Indeed, he attacks a strawman of the objectivist position. Rational agents can differ in regards to their moral beliefs, but this is irrelevant to the truth of objectivism. Moral objectivism makes claims about morallity itself, not our moral beliefs. Indeed, most objectivists will be happy to admit that moral beliefs are subjective. But it does not follow from the fact that our beliefs are subjective that morality itself is subjective.

"Definition Naturalism"?

Con's argument here is that moral facts must be defined such that they can be grasped by the social sciences. Unfortunately, this is a bold-faced assertion. Why should we think that definition naturalism is true? Indeed, Con begs the question against all forms of ethical non-naturalism without providing a single line of justification. But here's the catch: even if this "definition naturalism" is true, Con's conclusion that "Thus we see that moral relevance only exists when it can be subjective" is demonstrably false. Objectivist theories of ethical naturalism such as utilitarianism and natural law theory define morality in terms relevant to the social sciences in a way which perserves their objectivity.


Con's rebuttal is thus an abject failure. It is safe to say that my case for OMF has remained unphazed.


EthanHuOnDebateOrg

Con

I appreciate arguments in this debate so far, as well as a few concerns and issues that my opponent has addressed concerning wordage in this debate. I would like to likewise point out that the wording that I have used in my responses only serves as a way for me to convey specific messages and meanings to my opponent, and I have not made an attempt to use overly complex or obfuscatory terminology. However, if it would help the cause of this debate, I will definitely strive to limit my word usage in order to help my opponent understand.

Premises of this debate/Preface

I find it fascinating that my opponent so points out the specific fact that I have not made a reply adequate enough to undermine his arguments, or effectively argue against the resolution; as we look back throughout the course of this debate, we can all see that I agree to the same definitions imposed for terms such as OMFs throughout this debate with my opponent. Yet a question that I would like to likewise point out for PRO would be: does he make any attempt to adequately justify the context for which objective values can be applied for morality? His only structural points fail to address the fundamental concept of objectivity.

Looking to thus, I beg to differ from what my opponent so fallaciously points out for my misinterpretation and upholding of my side for the context of the debate. The overall framework of my case caters directly to the specifications of the resolution, and not only have I upheld my burden of proof in advancing my arguments to show existence of OMFs are not probable, but have also shown specifically in concise terms how PRO does not achieve the specific criteria for which jurisdiction on any moral premise can be judged for this round. His false accusation, I feel, is no doubt unnecessary, but also impacting upon the personal reflection of my opponent himself.

'Defense of Epistemic Normativity'
Pro, through his response, seems to cater to the sole refutation that concerns the misconceptions of belief and objective fact. Yet throughout his response, he reinstates the contradictory as well as fallacious point that our intrinsic and inherent belief system is not influential upon objective facts whatsoever in his stated difference principle. We can obviously see some fundamental problems with this argument, starting from the justification in of itself. Moral ontology and epistemology are clearly concepts that my opponent fails to comprehend to the context for which they are applied; the foundational concept of all epistemic normatives, or even ideologies for that matter, exists in the subjective context.

We as individuals are the ones who assign meaning specifically to moral judgmental values, as exemplified in epistemology, and yet all the moral principles that are ontologically sound are all conceptualized by their inherent existence by a subjective mind. Morality in of itself is a conceptual value that we vindicate in our actions to provide for our social contract; yet the question my opponent fails to address if not flagrantly contradicting is that:

Are there truly moral values or principles outside of a subjective context?

And yet my opponent seems to uphold his interestingly constructed yet utterly fallacious argument when he imposes his ideologies that advocate for an objective moral principle or value. PRO fails to justify how our belief system, differing as it may be in scope of context in our society, does not correlate with the presence of morality itself. Not only is this logically unsound, but also questions the plausibility of his arguments themselves. Misconstruing the concept of moral ontology itself, as PRO is doing, falls sadly short of the justification necessary for his refutation.

Now, we look to a statement that sums up his framework in of itself: "The interpretation of a principle is an epistemic question, not an ontological one." Yet when we merely glance at this statement, a plethora of contradictions come to mind. To say that a moral principle or value is objective or as PRO states, ontologically sound is to question the very basis for moral semantics as well as the concept of morality. It undermines what the concept of morality is based upon, rather than achieving what he feels is an adequate refutation.

Indeed, it would be rather absurd to ascertain that a moral value may be objective or factual in nature, for the inherent existence of such a value only exists in the minds for which we feel it holds certain value or importance. Having a such 'normative' would rather be distorting the definition of a normative as well, for we see in clear distinction such that moral values may share common aspects for which individuals share, yet the underlying issue is that there is no norm for which objective moral statements can be made.

Furthermore, we find that PRO fails to provide any justification for why a moral normative is plausible in the context of our social framework as an objective and factual concept without violating fundamental concepts of 'morality' or 'normative'. His only statement that considers such a notion merely briefly asserts that belief does not constitute the truth of an issue. To misconstrue such a concept would be likewise saying that there is no plausible correlation between morality and a subjective context. We find this extremely logically contradicting and fallacious in validity as well. Morality in of itself is completely subjective, because of a basic principle: It only exists in the subjective context, and we choose to apply it to our actions. Not only have I provided a justification for which there is truly tangible issues for which we can relate back to the context of this debate, but also numerous problems for which PRO fails to justify or address in his refutation, starting with the basic concepts of morality and subjective values, which are the foundational points of consideration according even to the resolution.

Thus we can easily see that my opponent's refutations and defense of his 'epistemic normativity' falls sadly short in its validity and plausibility by any standard.

'Moral Perception'?
Now recall the fact that I have been reinstating throughout the whole of my framework for this debate, that PRO fails to address the basic concept of the basis of morality on subjective values. He again implements an interesting yet boldly false claim that OMFs are probable because our moral beliefs are trustworthy. Fascinatingly, this is once again fallacious in its intrinsic construction and logically contradictory to even his own case. By asserting that we can justify an objective value because our beliefs are trustworthy would be reverting to my case in of itself.

Indeed, such a claim caters directly to my points that suggest that moral values can and should be dependent upon subjective values. The principles he introduces are, if I may kindly suggest, irrational themselves. We see an example of such: "So, if a moral belief such as 'murder is wrong' is trustworthy, then it is PROBABLY TRUE,..." Rational discourse itself depends on validity of an argument, for which my opponent himself fails to justify as PRO. By implementing his values, once again, he instead supplements all of my principles and points, for which he has provided no adequate refutation.

'Ideology-Fact Relation'
Interestingly enough, PRO once again ascertains that morality cannot be justified to be subjective merely because beliefs are. As I have pointed out in numerous instances, morality depends upon and bases itself upon the basic truth that we are agents that conceptualize moral values for our lives. My opponent's refutation of 'DN' is furthermore inadequate, and provides no justification for how such an subjective context which I have proved for moral values is false in construction.

Thus we see that my case remains unfazed in its plausibility, and PRO has failed to defend his overall framework as well as his points.
Debate Round No. 3
Contradiction

Pro

Since much of what I have to say overlaps over various points, I have removed subheadings.

It may be helpful to start with a very brief analysis of what objectivity is and what it entails, since much of my opponent's argument rests on a misunderstanding about the nature of objectivity. Peter Kreeft and Ron Tacelli give the following explanation:

1. The word objective in the phrase "objective truth" does not refer to an unemotional, detached, or impersonal attitude. Truth is not an attitude. Truth is not how we know, truth is what we know.

2. Objective does not mean "known by all" or believed by all." Even if everyone believes a lie, a lie is still a lie. "You don't find truth by counting noses."

3. Objective does not mean "publically proved." An objective truth could be privately known -- for example, the location of a hidden treature. It could also be known without being proved; to know is one thing, to give good proofs or reasons for our knowledge is another.

What objective means in "objective truth" is "independent of the knower and his consciousness." [1]

Especially of interest are points (1) and (2). Con's arguments and corresponding rebuttals rest on a conflation between moral epistemology and moral ontology -- the order of knowing versus the order of being. Our moral concepts may vary, but this does not prove that moral facts are themselves not objective or that we cannot reliably grasp them. Indeed, our scientific concepts may vary, but obviously we do not draw the conclusion that there are no objective scientific facts. Con notes this, and writes in response that it is fallacious to say that "our intrinsic and inherent belief system is not influential upon objective facts whatsoever."

But this simply repeats his mistake! Amidst the flowerly language of his rebuttal, is argument seems to be that moral facts are dependent upon our belief system. He writes that the "foundational concept of all epistemic normatives, or even ideologies for that matter, exists in the subjective context." However, this is simply an assertion that just begs the question in favor of relativism. Why should one believe that moral facts are dependent upon our subjective states of mind as opposed to the (more plausible) idea that they exist independent of our minds? Absent an argument, Con simply makes a question-begging assertion.

It is crucial to note that our moral judgements to some extent influenced by our own subjective point of view, but this does absolutely nothing to prove that these judgements are not about objective facts of the matter. Indeed, our sensory judgements are to some extent influenced by our certain cognitive presuppositions, but this does nothing to prove that we cannot know objective facts about reality.

So we see that despite his stern rebuttal, Con completely fails to defend himself against the charge that he has conflated epistemology with ontology. Arguing that moral ontology is dependent on moral epistemology is of no use, especially when this is just asserted without argument. Con needs to flesh out the nature of this dependence relation, since it is not at all clear that such a relationship even exists.

Con argues that my position is filled with contradictions, yet this isn't evident. He writes, "To say that a moral principle or value is objective or as PRO states, ontologically sound is to question the very basis for moral semantics as well as the concept of morality. It undermines what the concept of morality is based upon, rather than achieving what he feels is an adequate refutation."

First off, what does this even mean? I am tempted to dismiss this simply because it makes no sense, but in the spirit of charity he seems to be saying that since moral semantics are the ontological ground of morality, that morality cannot be objective since different people have different opinions on what moral terms mean.

This begs so many questions that I don't even know where to start. First, Con simply assumes relativism by asserting that morality is based on moral semantics. But only someone who already accepted relativism would accept this. Con this argues in a circle. Second, to say that morality is based on moral semantics just shows that one does not understand either. Moral semantics deals with the meaning of moral terms, but this in turn presupposes that there is such a thing as morality. To base morality on moral semantics is thus to put the cart before the horse.

He continues, "it would be rather absurd to ascertain that a moral value may be objective or factual in nature, for the inherent existence of such a value only exists in the minds for which we feel it holds certain value or importance." Like all of his other arguments, this flagrantly begs the question. The topic being debated is whether or not moral facts are objective. To assume that moral relativism is true as an argument that objectivism is false is simply circular reasoning. We want to know why "such a value only exists in the minds for which we feel it holds certain value or importance." Con simply assumes what he is trying to prove.

His next argument too begs the question. He argues that to say that there are objective moral facts about epistemic normativity is inherently problematic because it violates the concepts of morality and normativity. But such an argument will only work if he assumes that morality and normativity are to be interpreted along relativist lines! Everywhere we look, Con's argument is tangled in a web of circularity. Perhaps the clearest example of the fallaciousness of his reasoning can be found in the following statement:

"Morality in of itself is completely subjective, because of a basic principle: It only exists in the subjective context, and we choose to apply it to our actions."

If that doesn't strike anyone as being a paradigm example of circular reasoning, then I don't know what does. Con's claim here amounts to "Morality is subjective because it is subjective." We see that Con hasn't actually given any argument against my position -- he has simply assumed his own as true to prove that it is true. So my point remains that Con must give an actual positive argument for his position.

Throughout his rebuttal Con emphasizes that I have made "logically contradictory claims." Yet how my claims are contradictory are unclear, indeed Con just asserts them. Even if my claims are false, they're not "contradictory," and Con has yet to show us how they are (without begging the question in his own favor!). In reply to my claim that moral perception is like sensory perception, he simply dismisses it as "fallacious in its intrinsic construction and logically contradictory to even his own case." Yet it's unclear how it falls under any of this.

He does make the point that by appealing to sensory perception as a parallel argument for the reliability of moral judgements (which support the conclusion that there probably are OMFs), that I somehow revert to his case. Yet this again fails to appreciate the difference between moral epistemology and moral ontology. The point of my parallel argument is to show that just as our perception of sensory phenomena justifies the existence of an external world, that our moral intuition justifies the existence of a realm of OMFs. To say that moral intuition justifies belief in OMFs is not to say that OMFs are somehow dependent on our moral intuition. Our knowledge of OMFs may be, but OMFs themselves are not. Con once again misunderstands this point.

As we see, Con's rebuttal is a horrible mess of question-begging and circular reasoning.
__________

1. Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli, Handbook of Christian Apologetics (Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity, 1994) 363-364
EthanHuOnDebateOrg

Con

I once again appreciate PRO's arguments, and his courtesy throughout this debate as well.

Preface:
There exists, fundamentally, an issue for which it is not only a point of consideration for all judgments and jurisdictions made in this debate concerning morality, but also for which PRO neglects to acknowledge, which provides for the intrinsic flaw in all of his arguments. In retrospective, I have repeatedly reinstated just such a fact; I feel that it would be tedious to implement it once more, and yet it is imperative for me to do so. PRO fails to understand the very nature of 'morality', in of itself.

__

He bases most of his framework off of a few fundamental points that attempt to justify his refutations toward my case, namely confusion between 'epistemology' and 'ontology'; the order of knowing and then the order of being. However, what I have asserted as well as justified provides only the basic nature of morality, for as I have REPEATEDLY implemented, morality is a conceptual value for which we as 'seperate' individuals assign meaning to for which we feel is necessary on a basic ETHICAL level for our actions. To suppose that morality in of itself has an objective aspect is thus absurd in its presupposition.

Indeed, in much the same light, morality, as well as all ideologies or entities, whether they be in the subjective mind or in the objective reality all possess a relation to tangible and objective reality. This concept is exemplified in the fact that morality has a correlation with our decisions for our factual actions, and yet the nature of morality is subjective, because it varies by personal justification. PRO asserts the following principle:

*If A feels that it is morally right to do something, and B shares the same or similar belief, then such a moral principle is objective.

We find this not only absurd in its supposition, but also extremely ignorant of the basic and fundamental principles of morality. Looking to just a point of consideration, having same beliefs, as my opponent as PRO asserts, has no impact upon the nature of such moral causes, for which it is subjective in nature. Thus by PRO's assertion that ontology is what justifies his position, not only is such an ideal going toward my framework and points, as it justifies and solidifies the very nature of subjective morality, but also contradicts flagrantly his own case.

Now, PRO asserts that I beg the question in favor of relativism. And yet, I question the inherent knowledge of PRO himself in such fallacies and his plausibility in his tendencies to use them. His only justification for such is that I am missing a specific claim, for which we immediately find contradictory proof and justification. I state very clearly and ascertain that morality is once again in its nature, subjective. This is a foundational concept for which my opponent disregards and dismisses in favor of his so called 'ontology'. And yet, this is not only NEGLECTING to understand the very concept of morality, but also cherry picking in his distortion for his argument.

Indeed, even by doing so, his 'ontological' grounds fall sadly short of what is necessary to refute my points, for they base themselves off of the very NATURE of morality, for which he provides ABSOLUTELY no response.

Now looking further, PRO once again distorts the meaning of a statement that I have made in his self-minded favor. Looking to thus:
"To say that a moral principle or value is objective or as PRO states, ontologically sound is to question the very basis for moral semantics as well as the concept of morality. It undermines what the concept of morality is based upon, rather than achieving what he feels is an adequate refutation."

This statement is, in of itself, not only clear to the point of vividness, but also states clearly that the concept of morality is based upon personal subjective values; to have a concept that is subjective in nature and contorting a common belief to justify objectiveness is a flagrant contradiction of the very definition in of itself. A normative, as implemented explicitly by PRO in his 'epistemic normativity', is also invalid in its plausibility, for having a common subjective belief does not make a moral fact. An example would be thus:

*If multiple individuals shared the common belief that God exists, then he does.

Now, this absurd presupposition is countered by my opponent by referring ONCE again to his invalid 'ontology', for which I have already provided, in numerous cases, sufficient justification.

Looking further, he brings up that my arguments are circular in composition, as exemplified in such:
"Morality in of itself is completely subjective, because of a basic principle: It only exists in the subjective context, and we choose to apply it to our actions."

Now, looking in retrospective, we find immediately that this statement was only introduced in order to provide for a re-phrasing of my original statement, that inherently introduced the claim that questions the intrinsic nature of morality. This statement is not only not an argument, but it would be absurd to contort it to be so. His accusations of 'circular reasoning' and 'begging the question' are merely hypothetical, for they have no justification, for there are no tangible evidence for which he may support himself.

Looking to just such points of consideration, we find that amidst PRO's harsh refutations and accusations, there is, in truth, NO justification for his introduced fallacies, for which I have responded to adequately because of his ineptitude to realize just such the fact and the nature of morality. Such a confusion allows us to question the very VALIDITY and PLAUSIBILITY of arguments and all statements introduced by PRO in today's debate.

Further on, his only response to my refutations to his intrinsically flawed sensory perception is ONCE AGAIN 'ontology'. At this point, I question if my opponent, PRO is consciously and purposefully contorting the nature of morality in his favor, or merely neglects it in his misconception. As I have repeatedly justified, morality is only able to exist in a subjective context, when we choose as seperate individuals to assign meaning to it.

His argument of ontological grounds is logically contradictory to the whole of the debate, if not going to implement my case. Such ontological grounds merely go to reinstate my point that states that we consider the very nature of morality, for which PRO has NO justification or refutation whatsoever.

Now, we find that PRO furthermore has no refutation to my point concerning the irrational nature of his so called 'sensory perception', for which an objective fact may never be established. Looking to the following:
"So, if a moral belief such as 'murder is wrong' is trustworthy, then it is PROBABLY TRUE,..." Once and again, PRO distorts rational discourse with no justification.

Furthermore, PRO drops his own point of 'epistemic normativity' in favor of accusing me of circular reasoning. Now that I have proven and justified why such is not inherently true, we find that none of PRO's points stand, for he makes no effort whatsoever to support them after my refutation. Looking to thus, we see that his case is not only intrinsically flawed, but also nonexistent at such a point.

Now, in conclusion, we find that PRO has furthermore failed to acknowledge or address my rational framework argument which clearly impedes his validity and arguments. In addition, my addressing of definition naturalism and the intrinsic ideology-fact relation is dropped, for PRO fails to provide justification for the first, and insufficient for the latter, for he once AGAIN refers back to his so appreciated yet inherently fallacious 'ontology'.

Looking to all of these factors, we immediately see that PRO has failed to provide adequate justification for refutations, merely resorting to false accusations for which we see no grounds.

Thus, I strongly urge a CON vote.
Debate Round No. 4
47 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by logicrules 5 years ago
logicrules
Pro, therfore begins with a fallacy in his example. Now to Con...
"PRO fails to understand the very nature of 'morality', in of itself." In response to "To say that a moral principle or value is objective or as PRO states, ontologically sound is to question the very basis for moral semantics as well as the concept of morality. It undermines what the concept of morality is based upon, rather than achieving what he feels is an adequate refutation." con writes
"This statement is, in of itself, not only clear to the point of vividness, but also states clearly that the concept of morality is based upon personal subjective values; to have a concept that is subjective in nature and contorting a common belief to justify objectiveness is a flagrant contradiction of the very definition in of itself." BS If it is clear to the point of vividness it can not be subjective because subjective is particular to the individual. These examples are legion, well maybe not hundreds but close. Thus both were very poor in the presentation of the argument, very poor so I e3ither granted a tie or based my decision on what I could see. What I saw, perhaps subjective because I found this debate far from vivid, was that Pro was attempting to make morals universal while claiming they were objective. See word importance above. One would hope principles are objective but I doubt I want yours. (theres those damn words again) I tried
Posted by logicrules 5 years ago
logicrules
LOL I have no way to determine if I am able to ignore a sufficient amount of my education, long enough to make anything clear to you, but I shall try. (response to your use of the adjective lame) This forum uses words to communicate ideas. All words have specific denotative and connotative meanings. One might say BS, the denotative meaning is that which is discharged from the back end of a male bovine, the connotative is somewhat different. Belief is one such term. I shall attempt to illustrate by changing one word in the same sentence. I believe the Packers are the best team in the NFL. I know the packers are the best team in the NFL. The fact is, the packers are the best team in the NFL. How the hell could I know that? The only one of those Statements that is actually accurate is statement one. Words are extremely important in communication.

The next issue I mention is pure logic. If the condition of a proof are first A, then B, then C, one following from the other, I must prove each in order. Should I fail to prove A, I can not prove B or C. The best way to show this might be its application in law. To prove that an individual has been negligent one must establish, in order and with causation; a) That the accused had a Duty b) that the accused breached the Duty,c) The Breach was the proximate or direct cause of d) damage to the plaintif. It may be that the defendant's actions cause the plaintiff to suffer a damage, say a broken window, but f the defendant had no Duty to keep the window whole, no negligence. I hate doing this, but Joe: What do you think of my argument for heliocentrism?
Henry: I think it's a sound argument -- your conclusion was well-argued, and I see no problems with it.
Joe: So does that mean you'll become a heliocentrist now?
Henry: No
Joe: Why not?
Henry: Because I have no duty to embrace the truth. This is classic non seqitor. No Duty Above, only argument. out of space cont.
Posted by wiploc 5 years ago
wiploc
Or Logicrules could make clear that he would have voted the way he did anyway, even without the lame argument that I object to.

If he does that, then Cameron and I could drop our votes.
Posted by wiploc 5 years ago
wiploc
Ethan wrote:
: @wiploc, mostly because after reading logicrule's explanation, you can tell that his reason for voting as
: he has relies on the point that he disregards the fundamental point that PRO tries to assert in his rebuttals
: concerning 'ontology' and 'epistemology', and there was a valid reason behind his judgment on the nature of
: beliefs.

That makes no sense. That is, I don't know what you're trying to say. I recommend shorter sentences.

: It wasn't a troll vote or a random vote that I requested, for I wouldn't request anyone to specifically
: vote for me, only something according to their evaluations of the debate itself.

Good to hear.

: That is why I requested that an individual counter your vote, because you haven't really thought about his reason behind voting from a unbiased third-person perspective.

Unbiased third person perspective is all I can have, since I didn't understand the debate.

: Thanks, and I hope you can understand; this debate was very educational for me as well.

I don't understand. Pro usage of "believe" was normal, perfectly legitimate. Logicrules pretended that he meant something else by the word, and voted against him on the grounds that IF he had meant something else, THEN his argument wouldn't make sense.

Not only is that criticism itself without merit, but it is not one that you made in the debate. Had you made that argument in the debate, and had Pro failed to counter it, then Logicrules could have voted on it. But, as it is, Logicrules' vote is inappropriate.

Do you agree?

If so, then Cameron should drop his vote. Actually, Logicrules, Cameron, and I should all drop our votes.
Posted by logicrules 5 years ago
logicrules
I'm guessing Phi Betta Kappa isn't well represented on this site.
Posted by EthanHuOnDebateOrg 5 years ago
EthanHuOnDebateOrg
@wiploc, mostly because after reading logicrule's explanation, you can tell that his reason for voting as he has relies on the point that he disregards the fundamental point that PRO tries to assert in his rebuttals concerning 'ontology' and 'epistemology', and there was a valid reason behind his judgment on the nature of beliefs. It wasn't a troll vote or a random vote that I requested, for I wouldn't request anyone to specifically vote for me, only something according to their evaluations of the debate itself. That is why I requested that an individual counter your vote, because you haven't really thought about his reason behind voting from a unbiased third-person perspective. Thanks, and I hope you can understand; this debate was very educational for me as well.
Posted by wiploc 5 years ago
wiploc
Con, why was wiploc countered?
Posted by Mirza 5 years ago
Mirza
"Theoretically bees can not fly, the fact is they do. In short, if it is a fact it does not require belief, if it is not a determinable fact it can not be established or proved. This is not a seriatim of all your position but an explanation of argument evaluation where things are proved in order....fail with the first fail all."

Babble like this creates endless discussions.
Posted by cameronl35 5 years ago
cameronl35
Wiploc was countered as per request by Con, ask him.
Posted by Double_R 5 years ago
Double_R
Logicrules, Raisor is absolutely right. Whatever points you have against Contradictions arguments are irrelevant because you were not the one debating him. It was Ethan's job to refute Contradictions arguments, your vote should be based on whether he did.
6 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Vote Placed by Mr.Infidel 5 years ago
Mr.Infidel
ContradictionEthanHuOnDebateOrgTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: I don't know if con noticed, but wiplock was a counter vote bomb to logic rules. This is a counter to Cameron. Also, analysis in comments. (this is how I'd have voted anyway, so I am analyzing the debate in the comment section).
Vote Placed by cameronl35 5 years ago
cameronl35
ContradictionEthanHuOnDebateOrgTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: Countering wiploc's unjust vote as per request by Con
Vote Placed by wiploc 5 years ago
wiploc
ContradictionEthanHuOnDebateOrgTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro claims that we ought not rashly believe things not supported by evidence. Logicrules claims that things supported by evidence are not "beliefs." Logicrules explains in the comments that he has made an irrational gibberish out of Pro's arguments by assuming that he (Pro) was using his (logicrule's) definition of "belief." That's not at all fair. This vote is to offset logicrule's vote.
Vote Placed by Raisor 5 years ago
Raisor
ContradictionEthanHuOnDebateOrgTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: S/G - con needs to drop the 5 dollar words and spend more time proofreading his arguments. There were a lot of sentences with additional or misused words, making it very hard to follow Con's line of argument. RFD in comments
Vote Placed by innomen 5 years ago
innomen
ContradictionEthanHuOnDebateOrgTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Stronger argument on Pro with meandering objections by Con.
Vote Placed by logicrules 5 years ago
logicrules
ContradictionEthanHuOnDebateOrgTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro made a good attempt but fails miserably through his improper use of the term "belief". A conclusion based on a false premise is also false, objectively speaking. Pro misuses non sequitor. Con makes excellent points re moral objectives. Sorry pro,but your premise was flawed as stated and I agree with con you confuse epistemology with ontology. I also found myself thinking you were trying to argue universal rather than objective.