The Instigator
BennyW
Pro (for)
Losing
3 Points
The Contender
socialpinko
Con (against)
Winning
10 Points

It is wrong to teach children that Santa Claus exists

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 5 votes the winner is...
socialpinko
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/7/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,623 times Debate No: 27925
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (14)
Votes (5)

 

BennyW

Pro

I will argue that it is wrong and sometimes even harmful to children to teach them that Santa Claus exists I will also extend this to the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. As pro I assert this and my opponent as con will argue that it is not wrong to do so.
First round is for acceptance only.
Definitions
Santa Claus: the Jolly fat man who comes down chimneys and hands out presents and not the historic character known as Saint Nicholas
Easter Bunny: A large magical rabbit that may give out eggs, but not a normal small lagomorph that may be either domesticated or wild with no powers other than the ability to hop and eat plants.
Tooth Fairy: A magical entity that takes a child's tooth that has been hidden under a pillow and exchanges it for money and not anything else that word could possibly be conceived to mean.

With that out of the way let us proceed and good luck to my opponent.

socialpinko

Con

I accept.
Debate Round No. 1
BennyW

Pro

I thank my opponent for accepting this debate.
Telling children to believe in Santa Claus is wrong for one simple reason. It’s a lie. There are times when lying can be justifiable such as when those who hid Jews from the Nazis denied it because admitting to it would have cost the Jews their lives. Also trying not to be direct when talking about sex to children because they are not yet ready to hear about it is understandable, however telling them the stork brings babies is along the same line as the problem with Santa Claus. However, telling them about Santa Clause isn’t protecting anyone from anything. Some might claim it is simply make believe, but if that is the case why not start with the premise that Santa isn’t real but tell the kids to pretend he is. That is different entirely. To a certain point kids may not be able to tell the difference between reality and make believe but why make it even harder for them by insisting it’s reality? When the kids become old enough to realize that Santa doesn’t exist, they may feel betrayed that their parents lied to them for all those years. They may begin to wonder what other things their parents lied to them about. You can also replace any reference to Santa Claus with the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny and my argument is still.

I await my opponent’s response.



socialpinko

Con

(1) Pro has failed to justify his foundational proposition i.e., that lying is wrong. He even posted a bunch of counter-examples of when it isn't wrong (also unsupported) so why can't I just insert my own exception to the rule? I propose that lying isn't wrong when its purpose is to arouse merriment and joy in children and when there are minimal negative repercussions resulting from said lie.


(2) On the supposed negative side effects, Pro has again failed to substantiate.

A)-- For instance, where does Pro get the idea that children will not be able to understand the difference between reality and non-reality? Children who believe in Santa don't necessarily lose all grip with reality do they? More often than not they continue to function normally. It's like belief in Jesus/Christianity. Even if the religion turns out to be false, we don't see such extremely negative psychological effects as Pro is describing. The same can be said of holding any other false belief.


B)-- Also, I would even venture to suggest that this skeptical attitude which Pro suggests will come as a result of this lying (which he also failed to substantiate beyond mere conjecture) is a rather good thing. People shouldn't accept whatever they here from an authority figure just because of who it comes from. When children learn that Santa Clause doesn't really exist, it proves to teach them an important lesson, that even their parents can be wrong sometimes.
Debate Round No. 2
BennyW

Pro

I thank my opponent and would like to address his arguments from last round.

Lying is bad because it betrays the trust between two people. The reason I brought up the exceptions was to preempt an effort to try to demonstrate how lying is good. These are exceptions specifically because lying is bad. I made the distinction between doing it to protect someone and what parents do when they tell their children about Santa Claus.

Can a child distinguish between fantasy and reality my opponent asks? Sometimes, but often times no according to Piaget, children have trouble with the distinction up until about age seven. [1] Presenting Santa as a reality as opposed to a fantasy makes it even harder for them to make the distinction. It is try playing pretend with your child is good, just be sure you make it clear to them that it is not real. My opponent points out how a child who believes in Santa Claus continues to function normally. This is true for the most part, but they have this obsession with telling Santa what they want for Christmas when it would be so much easier to cut out the middle man and tell their parents. My opponent then brings up religion but it is not entirely analogous. Even if the religion being taught is false, it is not a deliberate lie. Now if the parents actually themselves believe Santa exists, then it would be analogous, but that is far from a regular circumstance.

My opponent rightly points out that children should learn not to believe everything they hear. However, parents are people who a child needs to be able to trust. A parent can teach their child to distrust by teaching them not to talk to strangers. When children find out Santa Claus doesn’t exist, it doesn’t merely prove their parents were wrong as my opponent suggests but that their parents in fact lied to them.

The belief in Santa Claus can be compared to a belief in Superman. If a parent tells a child Superman is real, most would look at them weird but he is just as unreal as Santa Claus. [2]

I pass it back to my opponent.

1 http://shine.yahoo.com...
2 http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com.au...

socialpinko

Con

(1) I thank my opponent for shedding light on what his foundational premise was (trust betrayal), however, mere statement of a proposition isn't enough to justify it. Pro has told us *why* he thinks lying is immoral but still hasn't argued coherently for the position. For instance, I could say that homosexuality is wrong because it is unnatural but this justificatory proposition isn't obvious enough to not warrant further explanation (as in why is betrayal of trust wrong?) or justification. Pro has claimed that betrayal of trust is prima facie immoral.


And of course, even if we accept this, my statement still remains. That "lying isn't wrong when its purpose is to arouse merriment and joy in children and when there are minimal negative repercussions resulting from said lie." Certainly the existence of multiple contingencies as Pro pointed out also lends credence to the existence of such a prima facie plausible exception.


(2a) Pro's examples of supposedly negative consequential effects of lying about the existence of Santa leave one wanting. For instance, the Piaget evidence serves no tangible purpose in this debate. Really all it proves is that children would be more susceptible to belief in Santa than adults, something that I have no intention of disputing. Furthermore, Pro hasn't given evidence to suggest that believing in Santa would lead to believing in any other false or negative propositions (a la domino effect) so I fail to see the relevance here.


On my religion counter, Pro is guilty of either mis-interpreting or mis-representing the scope of my point. The point isn't that parents are lying to their children about religion. It's that belief in false propositions (even if they are outlandish) isn't necessarily a bad thing. The mere fact that some religions must be false (owing to mutually incompatible propositions propagated by different religions) shows that believing in a false religion doesn't always mean that one must incur negative psychological effects, even in the case of children. Therefore, even though parents are propagating a clearly false belief to children, they may still turn out to be perfectly rounded adults in the future, as most of them do.


(2b) I should point out that Pro is on this point relying completely on a sort of a priori assumption of how children react to learning that Santa Claus doesn't exist as well as with the future effects of such experiences. He's assuming that children cope with lying and falsities in the same way that rational adults do. Now obviously some children get upset when they learn that their parents lied to them. However, rarely do we see things like estrangement or anything close to a high level of mental anguish resulting in the long-term as a result of this. More often than not when children get older they look back and laugh. It's akin to something like circumcision. Whether it's a legitimately compassionate way to treat an infant isn't important here. The point is that the acts long-term negative repercussions are almost nil even if they might be bad in the short-term. The same can be said of things like white lies about a fat man who annually breaks into your house on the eve of a winter holiday.
Debate Round No. 3
BennyW

Pro

My opponent is playing games to try and change the nature of this debate to one of a utilitarian nature but this debate is meant to be straightforward.

The lengths at which parents go to convince their kids that Santa is real can be astounding. This is not a simple story that parents often admit to when their kids question it. They reassure them he is real and chastise the other children who know better.

Some people invoke Santa to get their kids to behave, and while this often works it doesn’t mean it is the only or best solution. For one thing teaching them not to lie and leading by example is good, being a role model is one important aspect of being a parent. A parent could threaten not to buy presents if the kid is bad, it would have the same effect and also not be deceptive.

My opponent questions whether a lie has the same effect on kids as it does on adults. Kids innately have trust in their parents; from the time they are born so a betrayal of trust with a child is likely worse than with an adult. [1] Why is this trust so important? Because children rely on their parents for essentially everything, they are the primary caregivers. It is true some kids are unaffected later in life but that can hardly be applied to all. If you are trying to teach your kids not to lie and they find out that you lied to them about Santa, what kind of message does that send them? In that case it goes beyond lying and become hypocrisy. If there is even a chance that lying to them about Santa does long term damage wouldn’t you want to err on the side of caution? [2] What makes it worse is that it is so taboo to tell kids the truth that everyone else, not just their parents is seen as having lied to them. If can also teach them that believing lies gets you rewards while believing the truth may not.[3] One other way lying to kids about Santa could be potentially dangerous is the whole reason we tell kids not to talk to strangers. What if a man dressed as Santa offers a kid candy if he gets in his truck? I have seen many kids mistake older overweight men with white beards for Santa especially if they are wearing red. I want to bring in religion one more time for a different reason. If you are a Christian and teaching kids about the birth of Christ (never mind the whole Dec. 25th not being the real date, we don’t know the real date we can tell kids that) then if they are taught about Santa then learn later that he didn’t exist, and then they may question the Christmas story as well. Remember the parent’s intention is that the kids believe in Jesus their whole lives and the parents truly believe it to be true. Don’t turn this into a debate about the existence of Christ but I am bringing it up as an example of something parents want to instill in their kids that is damaged by the Santa myth.
I thank my opponent and look forward to his closing arguments.

1 http://gillsie.hubpages.com...
2 http://articles.businessinsider.com...
3 http://gillsie.hubpages.com...

socialpinko

Con

Nature of the Debate.


Pro has apparently waited until the very last round of this debate to attack the utilitarian framework out of which we've been operating. Not only that, but many of Pro's own contentions rely on utilitarianism to work. For instance his betrayal point implies that the consequences of lying are what makes it bad in this case i.e., leading to a feeling of betrayal, etc. No matter though. Even if we throw out consequentialist methodology, Pro still has still failed to provide a compelling case for deontological immorality of lying (given his numerous counter examples). And if deontology and consequentialism are out, I fail to see from what moral perspective Pro argues from.


Betrayal.


Pro has completely failed to show reasoned causation or empirical evidence for any long-lasting negative effects on children as a result of their parents lying to them about Santa Claus. (Of course this would still be inadmissable if we hold to Pro's point that this debate isn't utilitarian/consequentialist in nature) His only points of evidence argue that (a) children trust their parents (not arguing with it, Pro hasn't shown why all instances of lying are detrimental to a child's mental health though), (2) random unsupported hypotheticals about strangers dressed as Santa, and (3) that parents lying about Santa could teach children that lying is good/acceptable. On this last one, it contradicts Pro's own points thusfar in which he argued that there were instances in which lying was indeed acceptable. If lying always teaches kids that lying is good then we should stick to a strict deontological rule against lying. But since Pro endorses lying in some instances, he must give up on this point.


Christianity and Santa.


Pro argues here that lying to children about Santa *could* cause them to question Christianity. Therefore, if the parents had the intention of raising their children Christian, this could err against that effect. Now even though Pro brought this new contention in the last round and therefore it's inapplicable, I'll throw out just a few refutations for good measure.


(1) The hypothetical imperative outlined is completely dependent on whether a parent wants to raise their child Christian. This is contrasted with a categorical imperative (a la Kant) which would constitute actual morality and would thus actually be applicable to the resolution (the resolution says it's "wrong" for parents to teach children about Santa, indicating a moral imperative). If one can get away from Pro's "imperative" by simply changing one's intentions, it's doubtful it constitutes an objectively binding prescription of action. (2) This imperative isn't binding at all to non-Christians or those who don't care how their children are raised religion-wise.


===Conclusion===


Pro's points almost universally lacked warrant. Besides not providing "moral" evidence (given the nature of the resolution), Pro flipped inconsistently between consequentialism and soft-deontology, from being against lying for reasons of its consequences to arguing for the immorality of lying except for in some pre-established cases. Neither standard was really defended but it doesn't change the fact that Pro kept switching moral standards. Besides that, all of Pro's sources in favor of his case were simply drawn from blogs, hardly reliable evidence for anything in itself. Of course evidence for the ill effects on children from lying about Santa was never shown in the first place. Pro seemed to simply be trying to reason it out a priori without empirical verification. Overall, Pro failed to provide a case against lying about the existence of Santa Claus. Therefore, I endorse a Con vote.


Thanks to Pro for the opportunity to debate this topic. As usual, it was a pleasure!
Debate Round No. 4
14 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by qopel 3 years ago
qopel
It's child abuse to teach children God exists and that they deserve to burn in hell.
Posted by Smidday 4 years ago
Smidday
"Also trying not to be direct when talking about sex to children because they are not yet ready to hear about it is understandable, however telling them the stork brings babies is along the same line as the problem with Santa Claus."

That does not make any sense at all the whole stork story was invented to avoid talking about sex.
Posted by Smidday 4 years ago
Smidday
You can't you disallowed new people
Posted by socialpinko 4 years ago
socialpinko
"Con would have to provide some evidence that the joy of believing outweighs the loss of trust, like a survey of adults saying they thought it worthwhile."

Lol didn't you hear Pro say utilitarianism wasn't allowed?
Posted by thelizz 4 years ago
thelizz
go santa
Posted by BennyW 4 years ago
BennyW
Several people want it, I have opened it up first person to accept gets it.
Posted by Heineken 4 years ago
Heineken
Challenge me....I'll take this.
Posted by Smidday 4 years ago
Smidday
I would like to debate
Posted by TUF 4 years ago
TUF
I would debate this with you... kind of impossible to do on my phone. If you remind me after the 20th I'll do this with you when I get my laptop if you are still interested.
Posted by BennyW 4 years ago
BennyW
Yea I think the Green lantern debate.
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by PhantomJedi759 4 years ago
PhantomJedi759
BennyWsocialpinkoTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro did not make a firm argument, as pointed out by Con. Conduct to Con because Pro tried to change/define the nature/rules of the debate in the last round.
Vote Placed by RationalMadman 4 years ago
RationalMadman
BennyWsocialpinkoTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Lying is good, pro did it well but lying about lying will sned you to hell MUAHAHAHAH
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 4 years ago
RoyLatham
BennyWsocialpinkoTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: That lying betrays trust is self-evident, and child-to-parent trust is important. Con would have to provide some evidence that the joy of believing outweighs the loss of trust, like a survey of adults saying they thought it worthwhile. As a contest of assertions, Pro carried the burden of proof with minimal but self-evident arguments.
Vote Placed by drafterman 4 years ago
drafterman
BennyWsocialpinkoTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro failed to provide substantial support for his resolution, and consistently undermined his own argument, as pointed out by Con (via exceptions and utilitarian framework).
Vote Placed by Firewolfman 4 years ago
Firewolfman
BennyWsocialpinkoTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Tied for now. Con asked for people to vote so I am posting a tied vote.