The Instigator
janetsanders733
Pro (for)
Losing
3 Points
The Contender
Tophatdoc
Con (against)
Winning
9 Points

Morality: Is it Objective or Relative

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
Tophatdoc
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/25/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,784 times Debate No: 44612
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (7)
Votes (4)

 

janetsanders733

Pro

I will be arguing Pro, that morality is Objective and not Relative. My opponent will be arguing that it's relative and not objective. I would like to thank Con for accepting this debate.


Round 1: Acceptance
Round 2: Opening Arguements
Round 3: Rebuttal/Conclusion


Tophatdoc

Con

I accept this challenge. Many thanks to Pro for hosting this debate. I hope this will be fun, enjoyable, and a learning experience.
Debate Round No. 1
janetsanders733

Pro

I am glad to be sharing this debate with my opponent. I hope to have a Jolly good discussion. I will now argue below why Morality is objective. *Just a reminder to the voters and my opponent, that this debate is NOT about the Grounds for objective moral values and duties, but whether morality is objective or in fact relative*.

Objective Morality- Morals that are true independent of the belief of human beings.

David Hume's Five-Point Approach to Ethics:( I will only list 4 because the last one is irrelevant to the debate topic since it deals with the grounds for objective moral values and duties).
There are five methods by which Humes uses to verify that there are in fact objective moral values and duties.
1. Naturalistic, Empirical, and Experimental- Hume's approaches morality through the mind through empirical methodology. Humes also intends to use the same experimental method in analyzing human morality that he uses in analyzing human understanding. Hume treats ethics, together with psychology, history, aesthetics, and politics, as the subject of his “moral science".
2. Moral Judgements- According to Hume, moral judgments are essentially the deliverances of sentiment (ECPM 85). We recognize moral good and evil by means of certain feelings: the calm pleasure of moral approval or the discomfiting displeasure of moral disapproval, either of which may be felt in contemplating a character trait in oneself or another from an unbiased perspective (“the general point of view”).

3, Virtue- Hume's ethics are full of an extensive and assorted set of virtues.Character traits are the foremost object of moral assessment. Acts are judged derivatively, in relation to the traits assumed to cause them.
4. Role to Reason- Hume uses the principal role, which says that to reason in ethics, is one of helping agents to see which actions and qualities are genuinely beneficial or efficacious.

First Conclusion: In moral experience we encounter objective moral values and duties, and so, in the absence of some sort of defeater of that belief, we are perfectly rational to hold to it. Moral realism is the default position, and the my opponent needs to provide some powerful defeater to overcome it.

Source:
[1] http://plato.stanford.edu...
[2] http://www.shenvi.org...
Tophatdoc

Con

Best of luck to my opponent.I as Con will be arguing why morality is relative.

My opponent has sought to utilize David Hume's approach to ethics. Well, let us allow the views of German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche to assert morality must be relative for my first two points. The third point is my own observations on the resolution proposed..

1. The Origin of Morality(Master Morality v. Slave Morality)
A Genealogy of Morality, Friedrich Nietzsche wrote that morality originated from the most powerful and noble(aristocratic). Nietzsche shows that the most powerful and noble defined what should of be considered "good."Nietzsche points out what is "good" is the truth according to them. As a result, the noble and the powerful also determined the behavior of those in an inferior caste to be "bad[1]." Nietzsche uses languages to explain this form of morality to show what "good" is associated with. Eventually this form of morality would be overcome by a different type of morality[1].

Nietzsche goes on to show that a separate form of morality came about from the religious. The most noble group who espoused this other form of morality was the Jews. This form of morality according to Nietzsche was started in resentment of the powerful and noble. This form of morality would most notably be espoused in Christianity. Nietzsche terms this form of morality "slave morality" due to its' origins[1]. Therefore, we see with the two origins of morality that morality is contested by two different forms of morality. This is why morals must not be absolute.

-[1]Friedrich Nietzsche, A the Genealogy of Morality(New York: The MacMillan Company), 20-39.
http://books.google.com...


2. There are different forms of morality(Master Morality v. Slave Morality)
I will go further into the distinction between the different forms of morality that Nietzsche espouses. Friedrich Nietzsche points out that the characteristics and ideals of the two moralities are inherently different. The idea of good in the morality espoused by the powerful and the noble is that one can choose to be a predator or prey and do as one wishes. Versus the idea of "good" in slave morality is that a prey should bear a grudge against their predator[2]. One form of morality demands a certain a behavior while the other let's the user do as one wishes. This only reinforces the case that morality is relative.

-[2]Friedrich Nietzsche, A the Genealogy of Morality(New York: The MacMillan Company), 46-49.
http://books.google.com...

3.The human being is a definer who defines even when he does not know it. He will thus define subconsiously.

The human being is a creature who has the full capacity to define it's own existence. The human being uses organized noise, then calls it a "language." Languages which come and go at relative ease such as Anglo-Saxon/Old English, Gothic, and Latin. The human being defines the language he speaks. The human being exclusively defines the terms and associations of words spoken in a language as he wishes. The human being asserts value in his existence by giving himself a name and others a name. He goes on to name his place of living. We term these places as countries, nations, communities, neighborhoods, and even the house we live in(on occasion). Human beings go onto define their relationships as well to separate their interactions with other human beings. We term these concepts as families, friendships, marriages, couples, and the authority. The human being has the ability to threaten, coerce, and influence other human beings into behaving a sort of way. We term these as manners, morals, and laws. Manners which obligates us to abide by certain formalities. Morals which obligates us to a sense of "right" and "wrong." Laws which punishes the human beings who behave in a manner considered unacceptable. The human being can even dictate what purpose is his existence. All of these things the human being dictates as he wishes just as the name he wishes to apply to himself.

If human beings defined their own existence, why can they not define their own morals?

Note: My deepest regrets to those who don't like reading the source I provided. There are summary of the book is online if one wishes. I have provided a link below.

http://www.sparknotes.com...
Debate Round No. 2
janetsanders733

Pro

I thank Con for addressing his opening argument and wish the best to him in this debate. I will now address it.

1. Rebuttal to The Origin of Morality(Master Morality v. Slave Morality)

I think the problem with Frederick Nietzsche’s evaluation is that it commits the Genetic Fallacy. The Genetic Fallacy tries to falsify a belief, based upon how it originated. Even if that is true that morality originated from the most powerful, it does not necessarily make the belief in objective moral values and duties false. It would be like me saying to Con “You were born in America, so your probably a Democrat”. That may or may not be true about my opponent, but that doesn’t make Liberal Democracy false. A belief system must be judged by facts and evidence and truth content.[1]

2. Rebuttal to There are different forms of morality(Master Morality v. Slave Morality)

The argument that Nietzsche uses to compare Master Morality vs. Slave Morality isn’t really relevant to the debate. For this type of argument is for determining the “Value” of an individual, but not so much if morality is objective or relative.

Master morality is a "yea-saying" attitude where "good" and "bad" are equivalent to "noble" and "despicable" respectively. The master creates value.

Slave morality is a "nay-saying" attitude or herd morality which holds to the standard of that which is useful or beneficial to the weak or powerless. The virtues are sympathy, kindness, and humility. Strong and independent individuals are evil.

Either way, this argument that Nietzsche is using is asserting a standard based upon observation and moral perception. If Nietzsche assertion of Moral nihilism is true, then the words “good and “Evil wouldn’t exist. For Nietzsche wouldn’t be able to recognize, nor come to any kind of conclusion if moral truths don’t exist, the problem is that his observations only prove such a standard exists.[3]

Point 3 Rebuttal:

Because if the human being defines morality his way, it becomes subjective, the problem is in the reality in which we live in, our moral perceptions tell us there exists a standard of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. I believe my opponent has created a false dilemma here. Imagine I said, “Let’s define truth my way”. How would we know if truth exists? How would we even operate or function in a society with “what if’s?”

Objective morality is in no way defined as “manners” or “social etiquette”. For if we make morality like that, then it becomes relative. The problem is, that is not the way morality is. For we realize that a standard exists and we have an obligation amongst one another to do something. We realize actions are wrong or right through personal experience and our moral perceptions. This re-defining of morality, is a clear indicator to avoid the all-too-real reality of objective moral values and duties. [2]

If my opponent believe his relativism on the basis of an argument that depends on the principle that if there is a certain kind of disagreement over some topic T, there is no objective truth about T. If that principle is true, the fact that there is such disagreement about his relativist conclusion implies that that conclusion is itself not objectively true, but only relatively so. So if my oponent's argument is good, then by his own standards he should not believe its conclusion is objectively true; or if he is entitled to believe its conclusion, it follows that the argument is not good.

For example: Suppose I say that suicide is immoral, yet that in objective reality there is no such thing as moral wrongness. That is, suppose that nothing that anyone does really is morally wrong, although some actions seem wrong to us. Then my assertion of immorality is simply false, for it attributes to certain acts a property that nothing has. It is like an assertion that my socks were made by Santa’s niece. Nothing has the property of being made by Santa’s neice, and any statement that represents my socks as having it is therefore false.[4]

Here’s another Example using an argument to show why moral-relativism is self-defeating. *P=Premise C=Conclusion

P1. Moral relativists claim that there are no absolute moral standards.

P2. The claim "All moral standards are relative" proposes an absolute moral standard.

P3. To propose there are no absolute moral standards using an absolute moral standard is illogical.

C. Therefore, the relativist's claim "All moral standards are relative" is illogical.

Conclusion:

It is very much obvious that Morality is “objective” than “relative” since we experience it through our moral perceptions. Moral relativism is impossible to hold consistently in reality, for it is self-defeating, inconsistent, and untenable. I would like to thank my opponent for this marvelous discussion/debate.

Sources:

[1] http://www.nizkor.org...

[2]

[3] http://philosophy.lander.edu...

[4] http://philosophynow.org...

Tophatdoc

Con

"David Hume's Five-Point Approach to Ethics"

David Hume's Five-Point Approach to Ethics is addressed in Point #3 of Round 2 by me. The human being defines as he wishes. He defines the language he speaks, the words he associates with other words, and he decides the context of how words should be used. The human being defines laws as he wishes. David Hume is another human being so he does not assert himself above the rest. Hume too, falls into the category of defining the world as he sees it.

"The argument that Nietzsche uses to compare Master Morality vs. Slave Morality isn’t really relevant to the debate. For this type of argument is for determining the “Value” of an individual, but not so much if morality is objective or relative."

It is relevant because human beings are defining what is "right" and what is "wrong" which are the core tenants that makeup morality. Nietzsche pointed out how the reasoning behind both moralities differed in what they perceived what was "right" or "wrong."

"Master morality is a "yea-saying" attitude where "good" and "bad" are equivalent to "noble" and "despicable" respectively. The master creates value. Slave morality is a "nay-saying" attitude or herd morality which holds to the standard of that which is useful or beneficial to the weak or powerless. The virtues are sympathy, kindness, and humility. Strong and independent individuals are evil."

This is a misunderstanding or a misrepresentation of Nietzsche's writings. This can be explained another time since characters are limited in this debate.

"Either way, this argument that Nietzsche is using is asserting a standard based upon observation and moral perception. If Nietzsche assertion of Moral nihilism is true, then the words “good and “Evil wouldn’t exist"

The words "good" and "evil" did not always exist. The English language only dates back to the 5th century. So those terms could not of existed previously.

"Rebuttal: I believe my opponent has created a false dilemma here. Imagine I said, “Let’s define truth my way”. How would we know if truth exists? How would we even operate or function in a society with “what if’s?” "

I offered no false dilemma as my opponent is attempting to claim. Truth is relative. I offered two definitions of how the word truth is defined below[1]. According to both definitions of what truth is it must be relative. The first definition attributes the word "sincerity" but that is a description solely up to one's perception. The second definition refers to the alleged "facts" but the facts are limited to the information we have acquired. Therefore it may or may not be a fact that we possess. Therefore, the truth must be relative since we are limited.

My opponent asks a philosophical question, "How would we even operate or function in a society with “what if’s?”" I simply retort, human beings don't need to possess knowledge of the past nor the future to survive in the present. That is why information can be found, manipulated, restored, cast aside, and recovered purely at one's wishes. A "what if" question is purely a philosophical question not a question of survival.

[1]Truth: "1b.sincerity in action, character, and utterance"
"2.the state of being the case : fact (2) : the body of real things, events, and facts"

"The problem is, that is not the way morality is. For we realize that a standard exists and we have an obligation amongst one another to do something. We realize actions are wrong or right through personal experience and our moral perceptions. "

"We realize that a standard exists?" My opponent has attempted to paint the world with his moral brush in one stroke or less. Shall I remind my opponent what happens in Saudi Arabia when someone is found guilty of adultery? They are put to death[2]. In the United States on the other hand nothing of significance happens except a divorce. If we have the moral standard, wouldn't there have been a similar reaction? Yes, there would of been but it did not happen because we have different moral standards.

My opponent goes on to say, "We have an obligation amongst one another to do something." The evidence says other wise. Shall we look into the Milgram experiment where people willingly shock someone to death because they are ordered to[3]? If that experiment is not enough, how about the Holocaust perpetuated by the Nazis? Where the German citizens willingly turned their neighbors into the Gestapo[4]. The moral standard my opponent claims, does not exist.

[2]http://www.dailymail.co.uk...
[3]http://psychology.about.com...
[4]http://www.schechter.edu...

"This re-defining of morality, is a clear indicator to avoid the all-too-real reality of objective moral values and duties."

There is no re-defining of morality because human beings define it as they see fit. Let us ask the people who would be considered "evil": the Adolph Hitlers, the Dong Zhuos, the Vlad the Impalers, the Torquemadas, and the KKKs of the world. If morality is objective they would not of been capable of committing atrocities or been able to get away with them. The atrocities in some instances were even celebrated by the public at large. That only further diminishes the claim that morality is objective.

"P1. Moral relativists claim that there are no absolute moral standards.
P2. The claim "All moral standards are relative" proposes an absolute moral standard.
P3. To propose there are no absolute moral standards using an absolute moral standard is illogical.
C. Therefore, the relativist's claim "All moral standards are relative" is illogical."

My opponent here has attempted to blatantly distort my argumentation and misassociate it as well. Don't be deceived. I never once said there was a standard of morality. I only said and implied that morality is defined by the will of human beings.No where did I offer any mention of any standards. I don't believe there are any standards if it is defined according to the will of individuals.

"It is very much obvious that Morality is “objective” than “relative” since we experience it through our moral perceptions."

My opponent has revisited the term moral perception multiple times throughout this debate. So let us examine it since Pro failed to define it or offer a definition.

Moral:"of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior "
http://www.merriam-webster.com...

Perceive:"to notice or become aware of"
http://www.merriam-webster.com...

As we see, the definition of "moral" is adjective which is applied as the user of the term wishes. The term, "perceive" refers to a capacity of understanding. Therefore, moral perceptions must be relative because it is exclusively up to the individual.

"Moral relativism is impossible to hold consistently in reality, for it is self-defeating, inconsistent, and untenable."

Moral relativism is more likely because I have provided several pieces of evidence showing morality is inconsistent. Therefore, objective morality is nonexistent if we are capable of doing things some would considered "wrong" or "immoral." Moral relativism has nothing to do with consistency or standards. It is acknowledgement that human beings apply morals as they see fit. It would be wise for us to admit this fact since morality is dependent upon our perceptions.

Let's sum up the points of the debate:

1.The Origin of Morality
I will concede this point because morality could of predated the points Nietzsche observed.

2.There are different forms of morality(Master Morality v. Slave Morality)
This point stands as is. My opponent failed to refute it.

3.The human being is a definer who defines even when he does not know it. He will thus define subconsciously.
This point stands as is. My opponent failed to refute it or even address it for that matter.

4. Pro has Misrepresented Nietzsche.
I pointed this out earlier this round. My opponent has no understanding of "Master" or "Slave" Moralities.

5.Pro has offered a number of Presuppositions without evidence.
The most recurring example of a presupposition without evidence was my opponent's use of the term "moral perception." There was no evidence even given to show such a concept exists biologically or physically.

6.Pro has Misrepresented My Argumentation to suit his Own Arguments.
I pointed this out earlier this round with how my opponent clamored about "standards." I explicitly stated in Round 2, that human beings defined the world as they see fit. I don't subscribe to any standard as my opponent has associated my argumentation with.

I would like to thank Pro for hosting this debate. I would like to thank the voters and observers for reading the debate. If you came to the conclusion, that morality is more likely to be relative, vote Con pleas.


Debate Round No. 3
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by janetsanders733 3 years ago
janetsanders733
LOL "I Kahn't Stop!"
Posted by Tophatdoc 3 years ago
Tophatdoc
@zmikecuber, lol
Posted by zmikecuber 3 years ago
zmikecuber
@tophatdoc

I Kant stahp.
Posted by Tophatdoc 3 years ago
Tophatdoc
@zmikecuber, NO lol
Posted by zmikecuber 3 years ago
zmikecuber
@MasterDebater

I Kant wait either.
Posted by MasterDebater2 3 years ago
MasterDebater2
Can't wait for Pro to use Kant
Posted by zmikecuber 3 years ago
zmikecuber
Looks interesting. I hope to learn something from reading this!
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by iamanatheistandthisiswhy 3 years ago
iamanatheistandthisiswhy
janetsanders733TophatdocTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: This was a very tough debate to judge, and I was going to call it a tie until Cons third round arguments dealt with real life examples of morality that can only be explained by relativism. For this reason, I have given Con argument points. I would like to add that Pro did debate very well in this debate. All other points are tied, as I believe this debate should only be decided on arguments as both sides were brilliant.
Vote Placed by MysticEgg 3 years ago
MysticEgg
janetsanders733TophatdocTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Nice debate, you two! While the motion by itself is a false dichotomy, I am voting based upon both Pro and Con's cases made for their own moral beliefs. Conduct was fine. Spelling and grammar was leaning towards Con for the point (Pro used "your" instead of "you're" and a few others), I don't think there were enough errors to warrant it. Arguments were both proposed and defended well, but I feel Con did a better job of responding to Pro's points. I must stress, therefore, that this debate did not convince me that moral relativism was true, nor false, and vice versa, but that Con was simply more concise, to the point, and understandable. Both Con and Pro gave a good, diverse range of sources, so I will keep that tied, too.
Vote Placed by zmikecuber 3 years ago
zmikecuber
janetsanders733TophatdocTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: This was a very close debate. Pro seemed to gloss over some of Con's arguments, particularly regarding definitions, but Con also seemed to do the same in the first round. Conduct is tied. S/G was also about tied. Sources were tied as well. In the end, I think that Pro did better with the arguments, particularly the one about moral relativism assuming a morally objective standards of value. Imo, this is what saved him. Con insisted that he never claimed there was a standard of morality, but that seemed besides the point, since Pro showed that in order for his claims to be "true" one must assume an objective standard of value, or morality. In the end, this was a very very close debate, and both did a great job!
Vote Placed by Wylted 3 years ago
Wylted
janetsanders733TophatdocTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con wins arguments he gave great good premises for his arguments of different sets of morality. Pro really didn't make an argument for objective morality. He argued that Hume proved it to be true. He needs to show us how morality is objective and not just give overly brief explanations of Humes work that don't really support his argument but instead just support that Hume did his research.