The Instigator
wingnut2280
Pro (for)
Tied
9 Points
The Contender
thelukesitch
Con (against)
Tied
9 Points

Morality: Herd instinct in the individual

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/28/2008 Category: Society
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,212 times Debate No: 2254
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (3)
Votes (6)

 

wingnut2280

Pro

There isn't a substantive reason to act within the constructs of societal morality.

Common moral principles like don't murder and don't steal have no bearing on me. I see no reason to follow them because they hinder my ability to better my own interest. If I want your purse, why shouldn't I just take it?

Why should I have any obedience to other-regarding moral prescriptions like the Ten Commandments or most laws?
thelukesitch

Con

You should follow moral principles because it is the duty of a citizen to not harm others. While you may believe that you have no obligation to not steal a purse, your obligation is primarily to do what's right. Stealing a purse is not right, because the purse does not belong to you. Therefore, you have an obligation, at least within a society, to not steal a purse.

However, I understand that you're trying to make this entirely unwinnable on CON. If I say that you have an obligation to not do things that are wrong, you can just simply say that the definition of wrong has been set in a particular manner by a society, and that definition of wrong is incorrect and harms you. So, nice wording to make this an up-cliff battle for the CON side.

Anyway, you also have an obligation to follow the law, no matter what the law is or if the law wrongs you, because the law is the law, and a society in which the rule of law does not exist cannot last and will descend into chaos.

But no doubt you think chaos is desirable?
Debate Round No. 1
wingnut2280

Pro

I would think that this would be a pretty easy debate on the CON, seeing as nearly everyone subscribes to your stance.

That said, what duty is it that I have as a citizen? Even if this right is granted, am I supposed to believe that being a citizen comes before being myself?

Your only argument to persuade me to follow these laws is that 'right is right and the law is the law." Why should I personally follow the law? I agree, if no one followed the law, we would have a messed up situation. But, how do you jump from me stealing a purse to societal chaos.

Sure, the purse is hers, but I want it. Why shouldn't I take it? If I have reason to believe that I can avoid the consequences and be better off, I should take the purse. There isn't anything compelling me to act 'right' or follow the law. Its just getting in the way of my own self interest.

You haven't provided me with any substantive logic as to why I should subscribe to things that hinder my ability to better myself. I just get this "the law is the law" argument. I don't desire chaos, that would not benefit my personal interest. But, how does me looking out for my own interest translate into societal chaos. I don't see the connection.
thelukesitch

Con

The law allows yourself to be bettered. With the attitude that you are purporting to advocate, in the state of nature you would be killed extremely quickly, because in the state of nature the woman would retaliate for her purse being stolen. With the kind of attitude that you should have whatever betters you most, you would be attacked pretty quickly on in the state of nature.

So advocates of the PRO side here owe a lot to society, and because society allows for them to not only think like this, but to gain an education, and to live safely under society's laws. Because you've accepted the benefits of society, you have to accept the limits of it.

Being a citizen is what allows you to be yourself. You can't be yourself when you're dead, and laws are what allow you to live.

"Sure, the purse is hers, but I want it. Why shouldn't I take it? If I have reason to believe that I can avoid the consequences and be better off, I should take the purse. There isn't anything compelling me to act 'right' or follow the law. Its just getting in the way of my own self interest."

One might argue that your self interest requires you to do good to others, but that could lead to religious levels that I really don't want to get into. The fact is, you're wronging another through your actions, and you have an obligation to not do that. Call it herd instinct if you want, but the fact of the matter is that the rule of law has intrinsic value, and so does the rule of what is right.
Debate Round No. 2
wingnut2280

Pro

So, you argue that you don't like my attitude and that if everyone did what I did, I would be screwed. Also, laws allow me to live...

OK, thats all well and good. But, how does me acting egoistically make everyone else do the same. One individual (me) acting the way I have described doesn't tear down the construct of law and order. Also, I don't live in the state of nature, so I don't see how any of that applies.

So, the only argument that really functions is that society gives me a lot, so I owe it something in return (being a good citizen). How is this true? Am I bounded by some code of honor that tells me to be good? Do I lose those privileges you spoke of if I act this way and don't get caught? No. So, there is nothing to suggest that I should or need to follow this code.

Next, we have this idea that I have to be a good citizen in order to live. In what way is that ever true? Do criminals die when they commit petty theft? Why did humanity exist for centuries if not millenia without laws? I'm pretty sure being a person is not preconditioned on being a citizen of a functioning society.

In short, all of your arguments are founded on this idea that I shouldn't act that way because if everyone did that it would be bad. Frankly, me acting egoistically doesn't lead to everyone else doing it. That is the only world in which your consequences happen.

The truth is, nothing is binding me to these other-regarding rules of morality except consequences. So, if I can get away with it, why shouldn't I do it if it betters me? You haven't given me any reason other than "because its wrong". That reason is a result of the very rules I am calling into question. Therefore, I can violate morality that I am not binded to without it being "wrong".

You haven't proven any reason I should follow these rules. Other people won't follow my actions, therefore I don't cause society to break down into anarchy. Its not wrong because I don't subsrcibe to the very construct that would chastize me.
thelukesitch

Con

thelukesitch forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by Derrida 9 years ago
Derrida
Is it just me, or does anyone else find it ironic that two people with the same icon are debating herd mentality?
Posted by brittwaller 9 years ago
brittwaller
Beyond the feelings of compassion and empathy mentioned by DoubleXMinus, which flow naturally for the majority of humans, you perhaps should consider consequences more thoroughly. True, you may not be bound by the law or societal norms, or by the arrangement of citizenship - so throw those concepts out of the picture completely. As much of your argument hinges on the "betterment" of yourself, consider the practical side of acting like you have described: eventually, you will run into a person just as, if not more, morally repugnant as you are (in the context of the debate, of course) and when you try to steal their purse they will simply kill you. That is hardly a betterment of oneself, I should think. Perhaps it comes down to simple risk vs. reward - and at the end of the day, the risks outweigh the rewards.

Britt
Posted by DoubleXMinus 9 years ago
DoubleXMinus
I keep thinking, have you ever gotten something important to you stolen by somebody else? That horrible feeling you get once you realize it's gone?

Forget what society tells you to do, to me it all comes down to basic human compassion and empathy. If you don't feel like following the rules, more power to ya. But if in breaking those rules you're hurting other people and just don't care... avoiding the consequences of that (the consequences of breaking the rule) is the least of what your worries should be.

If a person intellectually decides the rules shouldn't apply to him, that's one thing. However, if what's teamed up with that is lack of the very thing that sets us apart as human beings... you'll get caught eventually.

But hey, as this feelingless person sitting in jail... you'll still have the right to intellectually go about what next you can do to continue to exploit people for your benefit. Not all is lost.
6 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Vote Placed by Darth_Grievous_42 9 years ago
Darth_Grievous_42
wingnut2280thelukesitchTied
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Vote Placed by redinbluestate 9 years ago
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wingnut2280thelukesitchTied
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Vote Placed by Miserlou 9 years ago
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wingnut2280thelukesitchTied
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Vote Placed by brittwaller 9 years ago
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wingnut2280thelukesitchTied
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Vote Placed by thelukesitch 9 years ago
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Vote Placed by malmal16 9 years ago
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wingnut2280thelukesitchTied
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