The Instigator
burningpuppies101
Pro (for)
Winning
42 Points
The Contender
Sweatingjojo
Con (against)
Losing
14 Points

Moral Accountability

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/17/2008 Category: Society
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,841 times Debate No: 5744
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (2)
Votes (8)

 

burningpuppies101

Pro

Thank you to my opponent(whoever you are) for accepting this debate. Before I start, I want to put up some ground rules:
1. We both have to prove our side. I have to prove the topic I'm going to state below, and you have to argue against it. The burden of proof is on both of us.

2. This round shall not be used for presenting arguments. This first round shall be used to answer any questions my opponent might have about the topic.

3. No semantics. We all know what we mean by something. Don't be nitpicky on the words. It's the arguments that count.

These are the 3 main ones I can think of. If there are anymore rules my opponent wants to add, they can be suggested in his first speech. If I think it will help keep this round fair and the debate about the topic then it will be accepted.

The topic of this debate is about Moral Accountability. The resolution to be argued is as follows:
People should not be held morally accountable for a morally wrong action if they themselves are unaware and do not know that specific action to be morally wrong.

Any questions can be fielded in the next speech and in the comments section, and by sending me a message.
Sweatingjojo

Con

I honestly don't have any questions or concerns, everything seems pretty straightforward.

Lets debate!
Debate Round No. 1
burningpuppies101

Pro

Lets debate, indeed.

Ok, so I want to start with a couple definitions.
Morally:of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior
Accountable:subject to giving an account
Account:a statement explaining one's conduct
Subject:owing obedience or allegiance to the power or dominion of another
Wrong:something wrong, immoral, or unethical
Unaware:not aware

So if you put it all together, the topic in laymans terms is: People should not be responsible for a immoral action if they are not aware that action to be unethical in relation to principles of right and wrong behavior.

Topic Analysis: This topic requires us to think in moral terms, since the topic asks us a moral question. The Pro has to prove that you should not punish someone for their actions if they don't know their action is wrong. The Con has to prove that it is ok to punish someone for an action, even if they were unaware that what they were doing was wrong.

1. We have no justification. The person has no idea that what they are doing is wrong, and we decide to punish them? The logic of that looks like this:
Person A commits a crime.
Person A has no idea that it is a crime and is wrong.
We punish Person A for committing an act, even though they didn't know it was wrong.

That hurts the person more than helps them, since they will not realize that what they did was wrong. They will only realize that someone is punishing them. Until they realize that they are being punished for a wrong action, the punishment will only do more harm than it will do good.

2. We would be committing an immoral act because we would be taking advantage of the fact that that person has no idea that what he/she/it did was wrong, You wouldn't punish your child for stealing out of the cookie jar. You would teach your child that stealing is wrong. After the child realizes that what he/she/it did was wrong, you might punish him/her, but only after you had taught your child it was wrong to steal. It would be wrong to punish your child, and leave the child confused because he has no idea why Mommy and Daddy want to punish him, since he doesn't know what he did was wrong.

Thank you.
Sweatingjojo

Con

I agree with the definitions that my opponent presents.

I think that a more effective way to analyze the resolution is as follows: The resolution presented is a maxim, one that states that it is okay for one to not hold others responsible for immoral actions when they are not aware that such actions are immoral. The way to determine if an action is right or not is to see if it can be applied universally to all situations where said action would be involved. Pro needs to uphold the righteousness of not holding others responsible for immoral actions when others are not aware that such actions are immoral in all situations. While con needs to show that this maxim simply cannot be universalized.

I contend that:

1. Penal law [in civil law or common law format]in a democratic society (Such as the United States) are close representations of what is considered moral and immoral in said society, and are designed to protect the rights of others. To violate penal law in the United States means that one infringed upon the rights of others, either by performing an act against someone or performing an act against the enforcement of the law. These acts vary broadly in type and style, however they all share a commonality, the fact that they violate the rights of others. Two examples of what I speak would be if one were to distribute pornography involving minors. The person might have not been aware that the people in the porn were minors, or he may have not been aware that distributing porn with minors is against the law, and considered immoral. Either way, this person deserves to be punished because he or she infringed upon the rights of others, and broke the law.

More to come, I have 45 seconds left.

Opponent

1. This is crazy, then we would need to let murders, rapists etc all free. time up
Debate Round No. 2
burningpuppies101

Pro

I'll let it slide now, but please, it looks bad if you have 3 days to write less than 8000 characters, and you can't do that.

1. So your first and only argument is that if you break the law, you break the law, and therefore must be punished. You justification is that laws represent morality. If you break the law, you break moral laws, through the infringement of rights. However, it is not only the law that determines morality. All of us have a sense of morality, no matter how small. We are all given a sense of right and wrong in this society. Morality is not determined by laws. You claim that even if that person has no idea of the law, he should be punished. However, if that person doesn't know it is against the law, by your logic, he doesn't know it is immoral. This person does not deserve to be punished, as I will show.

First, though, I want to talk about my opponent's refutations:
1. This is not crazy. This topic is a hypothetical situation. This will never actually happen in real life. Everyone has a sense of morality, instilled in them by society. From the moment we are born, society is shaping us and showing us what is right and wrong. This being a hypothetical topic, we cannot apply real life situations to this. Because we all have a "moral compass", murderers, rapists, and etc. know that it is wrong to do what they did. therefore, they should still be punished. This point my opponent makes is not part of the topic, so should be disregarded.

2. First off, there is no such thing as an example that downplays a topic. Either an example illustrates the argument, or it doesn't. My example is valid, and proves my point. Therefore, it cannot be disregarded, as you want to do. Also, you just make a claim as to how it is bad. You have not shown how. We cannot accept that claim.

My arguments:
1. My point still stands, since my opponent has not given justification as to why we should. And if we don't have justification, we shouldn't do an action.

2. This point still stands since my example has proven my point, so the point stands.

At the end of these speeches, here is where we are at:
My opponent's point has been shown to be both extra resolutional and wrong.

My points still stand.

Thank you
Sweatingjojo

Con

Yeah, it does look bad, I apologize and thank you for putting up with me by continuing this interesting debate.

MY CASE

1. "All of us have a sense of morality, no matter how small. We are all given a sense of right and wrong in this society." If my opponent stands by those previous statements, then I win the debate, because if all people have a sense of right and wrong, then all people should be held accountable for their actions, otherwise pandemonium would ensue. "Morality is not determined by laws." Yes but they hold a close, almost equal relationship, where in a democratic society such as the US, the things considered immoral are made illegal, and the things that are illegal are considered immoral (not because they're illegal, but because of the thing's intrinsic value.)

OPPONENT's CASE
1."This topic is a hypothetical situation. This will never actually happen in real life." If a hypothetical could never possibly work in real life, then whats the point? I had assumed that the real world could be used in to support one's case in this debate, as I have done to attack your first point. IF it is in fact true that we're not allowed to use real life to explain why one side is good/bad, then I suppose I can kritik the resolution. I find that this resolution and topic is completely pointless and not worth discussing in any way if it can not possibly be related back to real life. (I'd much prefer sticking to how things were going until here.)... "Because we all have a "moral compass...they should still be punished." This is the core of my argument, and could be considered by some as a total concession. "This point my opponent makes is not part of the topic, so should be disregarded." Disregarding my point will lead this debate down a dark path of resolutional kritiking.

2. " First off, there is no such thing as an example that downplays a topic." I don't disagree, and I take back saying that before. However, your example does not explain why the maxim should be universalized, as it does not negate the counter example that I provided (criminals going unpunished.)
"My example is valid, and proves my point." Under the logic used previously, your example is actually invalid because it uses real life. Again, I recommend that pro drops the idea that real life can't be used in this debate or discard the example he or she provided regardless of its potential relevance.
"You make a claim as to how it is bad. You have not shown how." I would ask for clarification please, that looks like a contradiction to me.

"My point still stands, since my opponent has not given justification as to why we should. And if we don't have justification, we shouldn't do an action."

I think my opponent means "why we should not." I also would have thought that the justification for holding criminals who weren't aware of the law accountable was inherent, although just to be safe, it ensures the safety and rights of a society that would otherwise be subject to people who act dangerously. According to the benchmark set by my opponent, he or she just lost that point.

" This point still stands since my example has proven my point, so the point stands."
The example is (or at least I think it should be considered) valid, sure, but it doesn't hold weight against my example, that criminals would not be stopped. A child being punished for stealing a cookie from the cookie jar is much less of an issue than a person breaking into the child's room and abducting him or her.

So lets review everything thats happened so far.

Opponent says that it is unjust to punish criminals who had no idea that they did something bad. I say 'No Way! That would lead to crimes intentionally being left unresolved, which would be a terrible thing for obvious reasons.' I also explain how the laws are tied to morality in a democratic society, and so its safe to determine that a person that breaks the law acted immorally in relation to the society's standards. Not to mention the breaking of laws infringes on other people's rights, which is also inherently bad.

My opponent then goes on to say that everything that I've spoke of doesn't count because it applies to real-life, disregarding the fact that he or she uses a real life example him/herself. An interesting point my opponent makes is the idea that everyone has a moral compass inherently. This would suggest to me that all people then have a sense of morality, and so there would be no need for the resolution that my opponent created to even exist, because all people would know right from wrong. Its also said (or at least implied by his or her example) by my opponent that being merciful with regards to punishing children for eating cookies is more important than holding criminals accountable.

What does this all mean?

I have shown that it is more important to ensure the maximization of a society's rights as a whole by holding criminals accountable, as arguing in favor of the opposite of the resolution does, than ensuring that feelings don't get hurt when justice is served.

Again as a reminder:

"My opponent's point has been shown to be both extra resolutional and wrong."

If my opponent would prefer to stick to this idea that real life doesn't count, we can go down a different path, and I can switch up my game a little bit. I would then argue that this resolution has no bearing on real life, et cetra.

Thanks to my opponent, can't wait to hear back from him or her.
Debate Round No. 3
burningpuppies101

Pro

Thanks for the prompt reply.

Ok, I'll drop the "hypothetical topic" part, since I see your logic. However, it does not mean that you win.

My opponents case:

1. Yes, we all have a sense of morality, built upon by society. My argument is that we are born with no sense of morality. It is our experiences in life that give it to us. If one does not know about morality and does not know right from wrong, can we be justified in punishing them? That is the jist of my argument. You don't answer this part.

My case:

1. Ok, so I dropped the hypothetical situation. But still, if that murderer had no idea that what he did was wrong, can we be justified in punishing them? I argue no, and my opponent doesn't answer this. Therefore, we can assume he agrees with me, since he spent his speech critiquing my hypothetical topic argument.

2. Ok, you ask for a reason, here is a reason: People should not be punished for crimes they did not know were crimes because when you punish someone, you must justify the punishment, or you yourself are committing a wrongful act. We cannot justify punishing this person because when you do an action, it is because we know that action is wrong and we still do it, that we are punished. It is because we defy previous rules that we are punished. But if you do not know there is a rule, can you break it knowingly? It is this absence of knowing that I argue that it is wrong to punish them.


Ok, this is why I brought up the hypotheticality of the topic, because there is no way to prove that one does not know something is wrong. In all of the examples provided, we are given the information that the person involved does not know the action is wrong. Because of this insight, the situation is hypothetical. But to answer my opponents points, why should we restrict the rights of someone who did nothing wrong in their eyes, according to what they know? If they don't know what they did was wrong, how can we hold them accountable? We can't.

<" This point still stands since my example has proven my point, so the point stands."
The example is (or at least I think it should be considered) valid, sure, but it doesn't hold weight against my example, that criminals would not be stopped. A child being punished for stealing a cookie from the cookie jar is much less of an issue than a person breaking into the child's room and abducting him or her.>
Ok, fine. Here is something that does hold water. You examples do not tell us whether or not the person involved knows the action is wrong. You assume they do. However, my whole point is that if they don't, we can't be justified in punishing them. Again, that is why I brought up the hypotheticality (sorry, but I couldn't think of an actual word that describes it) of the topic.


Again, you assume that the people who do these things know it is wrong. In that case, I would fully back you. However, in this topic, it discusses the possibility of someone NOT knowing the wrongful-ness of their action.


I answered this.


but even if society is protected, we cannot justify restricting ones rights, if one doesn't know why what he/she did was wrong.


Its more than feelings. Its morality. Morality gets broken when we infringe upon other people's rights to protect others.

Thank you, and thank you to my opponent for this truly interesting debate.
Sweatingjojo

Con

Sweatingjojo forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by Sweatingjojo 8 years ago
Sweatingjojo
Cont'd.
2. Although certainly it is good to have an informed child/citizenry, allowing crimes to go unpunished is bad for society, plain and simple. The example you provided is one that drastically downplays the implications of the resolution, and is outweighed by the much more relevant examples I have/will provide[d].

Thank you.

(Sorry bruningpuppies101 about having to post in the comment section)
Posted by joshandr30 8 years ago
joshandr30
Now this is my kind of debate. No gimmicks, tricks, tactics or semantics. This will truly be an interesting debate. Yep, just went in my favorites. Oh, I do not mean to put to much pressure on you guys, but I believe you gentlemen are both high quality men. *Light Bulb*. I just had a brain storm.
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