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Moral Nihilism is a standard of immorality

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/14/2015 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 830 times Debate No: 73414
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (8)
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Moral Nihilism- Ethical nihilism or moral nihilism rejects the possibility of absolute moral or ethical values. Instead, good and evil are nebulous, and values addressing such are the product of nothing more than social and emotive pressures.

Standard- "Something established by authority, custom, or general consent as a model or example"

Immorality- The quality or state of being immoral

1st Round: Acceptance Only
2nd Round: Opening Statements
3rd and 4th Rounds: Rebuttals/ Arguments
5th Round: Closing Statements
By accepting this debate, Con agree's to the structure, and agree's to take the position of Con.

I ask that the voters vote on if they think, based on the arguments presented, Moral Nihilism is a standard for immorality.

I would like to thank Con in advance for accepting this debate, the readers, and the voters. I look forward to an interesting debate.


Pro (Pase66), I accept and looking forward in a mutual constructive learning experience. May we both enjoy the flow of ideas.
Debate Round No. 1


I would like to thank Mike_10-4 for accepting this debate. Also, I would like to apologize for being very late, as I had much work to attend to this past few weeks (and because of that, my opening statement will be very weak).

1.) Opening

a. Why a Need for Morality?
Morality can be considered as being a type of law. And in order for society to function, we need these set of laws. For example, if there was no moral statement against killing (in general), one can assume that people would have no reservations in killing other people (since their moral compass would be non-existent). Now, I concede to the point that morality originates in the mind, but it has effects in the real world due to actions. Another example of this would be government. The idea for a type of government (democratic, autocratic, etc.) started in the mind, but exists in practice. As stated before, this is the case for morality. Now, back to my original point. If there wasn't morality, our everyday societal interactions would not be guided by a standard, and thus giving rise to the notion that "anything is permitted". Now, if anything is permitted, society would barely exist, for everyone would be acting on their impulses (anger, revenge, etc.).

b. Independent Morality
I feel we must establish a set of morality called "Independent Morality". This is a set of moral guidelines that are not influenced by any ideology (theism, atheism, etc.), but is reached through analysis and rationale. This would be based on the concepts of human rights, pain, suffering, and many other factors (which I won't go into, as it is not the focus of the debate).

c. Standards
Now, in order to establish moral guidelines, standards must be set in place (I would like to point out that, in this five round debate, a whole system of morality won't be laid out, but instead very primitive notions that could be used as foundations to build a system of morality). These standards would help determine whether an action is moral, immoral, or neutral (an example, in my opinion, of a neutral action would be the action of spreading jelly on a piece of bread). Now, A standard (emphasis on "a") of immorality should be moral nihilism, or the notion "that nothing is morally good, bad, wrong, right, etc " ( This is because, if we are to try and set a standard of independent morality, the notion that there is no morality, should be considered immoral. For example, the notion that rape and charity are not morally different should be considered immoral.

c1. Rape
Here, I will attempt to show that rape is immoral.
Human Rights- It is safe to say that each human being has a right to their own body. Now, when a human is raped, another person is subjecting abuse to the raped, abuse on their body, which the raped granted no consensus to. Thus, the raper is violating the rights that the raped have to their body, and is thus immoral.
Pain- Now, a moral nihilist could argue that there is nothing inherently immoral about causing pain, for pain is just a neural reaction the body has to stimuli ( But surely, pain must be considered "bad", as there are negative consequences of pain on the body (mental, physical). Now, the reason pain exists is because it is a reaction to some stimuli that is subject on the body, stimuli that is considered harmful. Now, is pain is harmful, and it is subject to another human being that is unwilling, than it must be immoral, for the human being didn't desire pain to come upon them. Thus, if rape causes pain (which I'm sure Con will concede to), than it (rape) must be considered immoral.
c2. Charity
Now, I will attempt to show that charity is moral.
Human Rights- I will be using the example of helping war victims (there are many typed of charity, but I feel this example will help show my point). Now, to help someone who has had their rights taken away, be it by unwillingly being pushed off their land, or unwillingly being injured in the turmoil of war, can be considered moral. Now, to help restore one's rights is considered moral, for you are giving them the inherent rights taken away from them.
Pain- Surely, war victims experience some degree of pain (psychological, physical). Now, based on the premise in "rape" (that to inflict pain is immoral), since morality is the opposite of immorality, and the opposite of inflicting pain is alleviating pain, it must follow that to alleviate one's pain is moral (using the premise of inflicting pain=morality as a standard). Thus, again, to alleviate one's pain is moral.

c. (continued...) Now, if to rape someone is immoral, and to give charity to someone is moral, the notion that there exists no moral difference between the two is a false and immoral one, for to say that to rape someone is not immoral (as it is not moral), is to concede to the fact that to rape someone does not take away their human rights, and to rape someone does not inflict pain on them, which it does (I will take on assumption Con agree's to this, but am willing to provide support if necessary). Thus, if it is not immoral to rape someone, it is permitted, for what is stopping the raper? But, if rape is immoral (which I hope Con will see in the argument I provided above), and the notion of moral nihilism makes rape permitted (due to it not being immoral or moral), than moral nihilism must be taken as a standard for immorality.

d. Conclusion
In conclusion, I hope to have proved that there can exist morality (although the examples I have shown are very primitive, and surely are to be refined in the future). I have also hoped to have shown that moral nihilism must be taken as a standard for immorality.

I would again like to thank Con, and apologize for being so late. I look forward to a stimulating discussion.


Thanks for bringing an important subject to the debating floor. In our modern age, the scientific method has become inseparable from human endeavor; hence, the subject of morality is now under the microscope of science.

I take the Con position relative to “Moral Nihilism is a standard of immorality.”

As defined in this debate, “Moral Nihilism”- Ethical nihilism or moral nihilism rejects the possibility of absolute moral or ethical values.

My position supports that there is the existence of an absolute moral field within all life in group formation that disputes said “Moral Nihilism.”

Since all life is a product of the physical Laws of Nature; implies a derivative or source of absolute morality is a manifestation of those Laws. By the way, the physical Laws of Nature are not metaphysical, they are absolute. Relative to those laws we have the following binary combination:

Compliance is the standard of morality.
Incompliance is the standard of immorality.

One may ask, compliance to what? The answer is, the absolute (aka non-changing) physical Laws of Nature is the reference to morality. For example, when one does not morally comply with the Laws of Aerodynamics, planes will not fly. When one does not comply with a social “universal morality,” groups, cultures, corporations, packs, social-systems in general will not exist.

My opening statement is on the science of Morality, not the metaphysical.

First paragraph in Stanford's Encyclopedia states it nicely.

The key phrase from Stanford's Encyclopedia is: “universal morality.” Simply, an absolute!

The following is a recent scientific view on morality:

The above, Scientific American's article and Stanford's take on morality, relative to “non-human animals,” reflects the Constructal Law connection.

Relative to the Constructal Law, Morality is an outgrowth of life's Unalienable Rights (“Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”), which are an outgrowth of the Constructal Law, which is an outgrowth of the Laws of Thermodynamics, a part of the physical Laws of Nature; not metaphysical. For a simple overview, see the following YouTube short presentation title: “The Science of Rights:

The “Science of Rights” YouTube presentation, shows that symmetry is found throughout the properties of the Laws of Nature.

For example, the subtle nonverbal communication between a parent and infant flows through life's Unalienable Rights in harmonious inter-species symmetry. This symmetry is apparent when we hear the cries from the screeching chirps within a nest, to the whimpering pups in a den, to the cries of a human infant along with the feelings those sounds evoke; the sounds throughout the tree of life. In many species, a newborn cries instinctively, elevating its cry to a scream when something is wrong--such as hunger triggered by the genetically programmed need to pursue food. Among humans, the parent is instinctively annoyed or alarmed by this cry and, in distress, tries to seek mutual happiness by catering to the infant's desires. In contrast, there is something quite pleasant about the sight of a smiling infant, as it naturally invites the sharing of happiness. The behavioral difference between a smile and a cry are the tenets of right and wrong, the foundation of morality.

The smiles and cries do not end with infancy; they persist through the cycle of life, from cradle to grave. The perception of doing something right, manifesting in happiness between parent and child, naturally extends to the scope of the family, our neighbors, and throughout society, with the desire to bring about happiness, promoting cooperation and social unity. Morality is a bias, a drive, and a desire to promote positive-feedback that embraces happiness and preserves an atmosphere of goodwill.

A second example, when two or more humans form a group, the group becomes alive as a separate entity having its own Unalienable Rights. The pursuit of group happiness through goodwill and kindness leads to a mutual moral respect for the Unalienable Rights of all the members within the group, embracing the group's Unalienable Rights. That is, goodwill and kindness keeps the group alive (“Life”), having freedom (“Liberty”) to do things together, in “the pursuit of” objectives and once accomplished, positive feedback (“Happiness”). Goodwill, is a conservative force that promotes order, stability, and harmony through the pursuit of group-wide positive-feedback. Over time, group-wide positive-feedback is the genesis of traditions, values, beliefs, language, etc., the norms of society. These norms are tried and tested, and conservatively pass down from one generation to the next establishing its culture. A moral order guides an individual in the prudent exercise of judgment relative to those norms, going with the social flow minimizing civil resistance (Constructal Law). The individual in a civil society strives, albeit imperfectly, to be virtuous; that is, restrained, ethical, and honorable, respecting and embracing the Unalienable Rights of others relative to those tested norms.

The evidence of morality in a wide range of independently developed cultures across isolated human tribes, empirically supports the standard traits found through all cultures responsible for traditions (including traditional dance, sports, etc.), ethical values, beliefs, languages, etc. Those common traits formed the independent civil societies found throughout the world today and throughout recorded history. In other words, all cultures have ethical values, all cultures are found to have beliefs, and so on, and not one culture was found to be atheistic; implies these traits represents a set of moral constants, or what Stanford University claims “universal morality,” a footprint within the absolute physical Laws of Nature.

Hence; it is not “Nihilism,” but it is a function of life's Unalienable Rights interacting with nature that sets fort morality or immorality within its absolute context defined by the physical Laws of Nature.

Finally, morality is not “Nihilism,” according to empirical evidence of common social traits found in isolated cultures, Stanford University's position on a “universal morality,” and the morality's traceable path via life's Unalienable Rights to the Constructal Law.

Perhaps, one day morality will be a subject of study in a high school science class. A subject, educational systems throughout the world seems to be struggling with.
Debate Round No. 2


I would like to thank Con for their opening statement.

1.) Questions
First, I would like to ask Con a question. I want to know if they are attesting to the notion that there exists some form of objective morality, be it similar moral traits found in different cultures, or morality human beings can develop through evaluation and rationale? Because, in my previous round, a major attempt made by me was too prove that there can exist objective morality. If Con concedes to this point (which I will take on assumption they do), I will continue on in a suitable manner.

2.) Moral Nihilism
The statement I am most concerned with about moral nihilism is the statement that "anything is permissible". This statement is dangerous because it gives room for people to act on their own accord, and not give thought to moral principles that they do not believe exist. Now, I am not saying that every moral nihilists acts in an immoral fashion (I assume both Con and I agree that objective morality and immorality exist), but the idea itself could lead to one acting in such a fashion (of immorality). Now, if there is objective morality, but moral nihilism states that there exists no morality, and that everything is permissible, this would lead people preforming (what would objectively be) immoral acts (as they would be acting only on their will and want's, and not on a guiding, moral principle). Thus, since moral nihilism leads to immorality (in the statement that "everything is permissible"), it should thus be used as a standard for immorality.

3.) Conclusion
I know this was a short argument, but I assume Con and I are on the same page on many matters. Again, I would like to thank Con for this debate, and the readers for taking their time and reading this (hopefully interesting and stimulating) debate.


Thanks Pro for your short rebuttal. However, I regret to say from Pro's questions my opening may have caused some confusion.

I'm not sure how to answer Pro's question about “Objective morality.”

Objective morality” and “moral nihilism” are metaphysical constructs.

Metaphysics is a human philosophical response relative to the subtle machinery of Nature, until the scientific method presents the incarnation of clarity.

As I stated in my opening, in today's modern age, the scientific method has become inseparable from human endeavor; hence, the subject of morality is now under the microscope of science.

I also stated in my opening, morality is part of the physical Laws of Nature via the Constructal Law and is present in life found in the currents of bio-flow during group formation, or morphing, as a function of positive feedback.

I listed a number of references pertaining to said scientific endeavor of the empirical relative to morality and its symmetry to the Constructal Law.

For example, as we get to the nub of this symmetry, it becomes clear why some cultures find cannibalism to be moral, while others find it immoral. Even today, killing Christians and eating them is a moral event--bon appétit!

Objectivism, nihilism, and all the other philosophical isms about morality have an argument on many debating floors throughout the ages; otherwise, those isms would not be around. And the many whose favorite ism comes to light is arguably the “standard.” And there is no reason why this philosophical cycle will ever end, until the scientific method presents clarity relative to a physical Law in Nature, relieving man from this philosophical noise.

On the other hand, when empirically studying this philosophical noise one will find symmetry throughout the isms, which represents a footprint of some physical Law in Nature. What that law is has yet to be named, but the research and resulting discoveries are new.

This scientific endeavor is the point of all my morality arguments on the debating floor. Such endeavor presents an evolutionary paradigm shift in understanding, opening the door to a new set of debates, encouraging those who are fascinated with morality, to name that, yet to be named Law in Nature; resulting in that incarnation of clarity isolating the absolute “standard” of morality.

With that said, the Burden of Proof (BoP) rests with Pro on the subject of “Nihilism” being that “standard.”
Debate Round No. 3


These past few days, I've been insanely burdened with work. I humbly ask that I be able to forfeit this round, as I have a lot of pressing matters to attend to. The next round I will post an argument, but not in this one.

I thank Con for what has been a very interesting debate so far.


Mike_10-4 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4


1.) The Apology...
First off, I would like to apologize for not posting a previous round, and sincerely thank Con for being accommodating.

2.) Scientific Morality
These debates I like to think of more as a discussion. I found it very interesting how morality is now being analyzed under the microscope of science (a notion I always held was when science was applied to morality, one would always end up with existential nihilism). I truly find this an intriguing concept, and do look forward to studying more about this in the future.

3.) Nihilism
Nihilism in general is not a metaphysical philosophy so much, but is a strictly materialist philosophy. In the context of morality, an argument could go as such; "Why is it wrong to stab someone? All stabbing does it create a tear in their body, by causing cells to tear, and by letting blood flow out. Now, there is nothing inherently immoral about blood flowing out of a tear. Now, if the person dies, there is nothing immoral about it. If they die, there bodily functions just cease to occur, as their whole system shuts down. It is the equivalent of shutting off a robot. Now, their is nothing inherently immoral about that." Now, I will take on assumption that many of us (the readers and voters), as well as Con, agree that stabbing and killing a random person is immoral. But why? This is what many people are interested in. And if this question is addressed by science, all one will come too is Nihilism. For science is the study of the material world, and Nihilism is a philosophy in the context of materialism.

4.) Morality
I hope that in round two I was able to show that objective morality is possible. Although the example I provided was very primitive, I feel that it was a sufficient example to make my point. Now, if one takes Moral Nihilism, it gives way to the notion that "all is permitted". Now, if there exists objective morality, and someone uses Moral Nihilism for justification to commit an immoral act, it must be taken that Moral Nihilism is a standard of immorality. "But what if they do good?" The chances of committing immoral acts is greater, because, if everything is permitted, one can act on their own impulses, not giving way to any moral compass. And historically, it has been shown that human beings are not the "best" of people.

5.) Conclusion
Again I apologize for my forfeiture. But, I found this discussion to be very stimulating and interesting, and I hope that in the future Mike_10_4 and I will be able to delve into this topic further.

I would like to thank Mike_10_4, the readers, and the voters for what has been a very interesting debate. Again, I thank you all.


You are welcome Pro for my accommodation, trying to help by giving you more time to manage your work load reducing stress. It was the moral thing to do, and in return, I too received positive feedback (happiness) by helping you out.

Each debate has a life of its own, having its own Unalienable Rights of “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of” the debate’s objectives (Happiness). I find the debate's objectives as a constructive learning experience rather than who wins or loses. Therefore, I always look forward in a debate, by selecting a subject I wish to learn more about; hence, “happiness.”

The life of this debate had liberty to the mutual accommodation of agreeing to forfeit Round 4 to help reduce Pro's work load stress factor.

I have learn from Pro's philosophy about Nihilism and why he thinks it should be a standard of immorality. And with that, I thank Pro.

My objective is to find that “universal morality” Stanford makes claim to, but yet to be empirically define via the scientific method. There are clues via the physical Constructal Law of a “universal morality” and there are those who are trying to pinpoint this moral construct.

Pro's hypothesis composition and empirical evidence presented, needs more work to claim a proof. If Pro is interested in this subject, I recommend the latest research by Michael Shermer's recent book on the subject.

Michael is using science trying to close the gap between metaphysics and the physical Laws of Nature, in search of that “universal morality.” I regret to say, after reading Michael's 500+ page book, the term Nihilism was not referenced.

According to Pro's link on Nihilism, the first sentence of the definition states the following:

Nihilism is the belief that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated.”

The scientific method is all about the quest of knowing and to communicate knowledge. My recommendations to Pro is to take the path of the scientific method not Nihilism in search for that “universal morality,” an absolute standard for both morality and its counterpart, immorality.

And in closing, I wish Pro a long prosperous life, with ample freedom (liberty), in the moral pursuit of happiness. And I look forward in meeting Pro again on the debating floor.
Debate Round No. 5
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by Pase66 2 years ago
What I'm trying to prove that is that moral nihilism, the notion that there exists no morality, is in itself immoral.
Posted by phiLockeraptor 2 years ago
Before I vote, can you elaborate on the resolution (with the other party contending, of course). I'm not quite sure I understand what you're trying to prove.
Posted by Pase66 2 years ago
Actually, not necessarily. The resolution is that moral Nihilism (not existential nihilism) is "A" standard for immorality. The notion that there exists no morality, and the good and bad, in truth, don't exist.
Posted by TUF 2 years ago
Am I correct in assuming that this resolution is to decide whether someone who follows the belief of Nihilism can be considered immoral merely for having this state of mind? If such is the case, I may be willing to accept if we can stay away from too many semantics.
Posted by Pfalcon1318 2 years ago
Anything can be considered anything else. I could consider the earth to be a cube; that wouldn't make it so.

Debates are better centered on what is or should be the case, not what can be considered the case.
Posted by Pfalcon1318 2 years ago
Maybe a better question would be "Is Moral Nihilism a standard of immorality", or, more accurately, the resolution should be "Moral Nihilism is a standard of immorality".
Posted by Pase66 2 years ago
Well, I before I make up my mind, I want to see if the proposition can be "negated" somehow (get it?).
Posted by Zarroette 2 years ago
Of course it could. Someone high on acid could consider it so, thereby affirming the resolution. It doesn't even matter if the proposition is the slightest bit logical.
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