The Instigator
TuracoPersa
Pro (for)
Tied
4 Points
The Contender
ViceRegent
Con (against)
Tied
4 Points

Morality can be determined objectively and scientifically

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
It's a Tie!
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/3/2016 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 11 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 896 times Debate No: 87569
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (33)
Votes (3)

 

TuracoPersa

Pro

Definitions

Morality: a set of guidelines for how people ought to behave in a given social environment in order to maximize human well-being

Well-being: a fuzzy concept, like physical health but extended to all aspects of the human being (no one can agree on a precise definition of health, but that doesn't stop us from having meaningful, mutually intelligible discussions about how to improve it)

Scientifically: using the tools of the Scientific Method, i.e. observation, independent verification, and reproducibility, in order to achieve objective, non-biased results

Thesis

The optimal code of morality for a given society can be determined scientifically in theory. This is not to say it can be determined, as there are practical limitations. By analogy, it is theoretically possible to predict the weather scientifically, but for now we can only predict with moderate accuracy and only a short time into the future. With better instruments, better theory, and better algorithms, we could predict the weather better. I believe that the optimal moral code is something that exists out there, and we can theoretically find it.
ViceRegent

Con

Oh, we have a dude who claims to have solved Hume's problem of the inability to go from an "is" to an "ought". This should be fun. Show us.
Debate Round No. 1
TuracoPersa

Pro

Okay, here we go.

Let's imagine two (purely hypothetical) scenarios. The first scenario is, to borrow a term from Sam Harris, the worst possible misery for everyone, which I will call "W". The second scenario is any other situation, so let's say the actual current state of affairs in your society, or "C".

Because W is the worst possible misery for everyone, every single individual will, if given a choice, prefer C to W. It does no good to say that some people might be masochists and prefer misery, because "misery" would cause such masochists to be satisfied, and thus not be in misery. Therefore by definition, everyone, even masochists, would prefer C to W. If every individual prefers C to W, then by any reasonable definition of "better," C is better than W.

Now let's imagine an individual actor who must choose between two alternatives. The first alternative will bring about W. The second will bring about C. If C is better than W, it follows that the second alternative is the morally superior choice.

If you can accept this, you must accept that there is some kind of objective basis for morality.
ViceRegent

Con

Morality does not concern greater or lesser preferences, but obligations as to conduct. It could be the greatest preference is that you be slowly tortured to death, but that would still be immoral. Now, show us how one can go from an "is" (the realm of science) to an "ought" (the realm of morality). Show it to us this way, applying the scientific law known as ______________, we can induce that one should not rape, murder and eat their own child? Good luck.

BTW, your reasoning is fallacious because it is a non-sequitur and because it relies on the ad populum fallacy. Just because people think something is better does not make it so or the doing of the opposite immoral. Keep trying.
Debate Round No. 2
TuracoPersa

Pro

It troubles me that you want me to be slowly tortured to death, but I appreciate that you find it immoral anyway. I'm curious though why you think it's immoral. You must have some reason for feeling that way, and I think the answer would be very illuminating to this discussion.
ViceRegent

Con

You need to learn to read, dude, for I never said I was my preference that you be tortured and murdered.

And I not interested in your red herring. Answer this inquiry: Now, show us how one can go from an "is" (the realm of science) to an "ought" (the realm of morality). Show it to us this way, applying the scientific law known as ______________, we can induce that one should not rape, murder and eat their own child? Good luck.
Debate Round No. 3
TuracoPersa

Pro

You also didn't deny it.

I was hoping to answer your question using your answer to my question, but since you have not answered my question, I will try to answer it for you. I can think of a few reasons why you might find torture/murder to be immoral:

1. You dislike torture/murder (personal preference)
2. There is some reason why torture/murder is bad or has negative consequences
3. God said so

If the answer is (1), that is merely your preference and therefore apparently suffers from "the ad populum fallacy." If the answer is (2), that is objective and I am right. If (3), that is also objective and I am right. If I have missed the real reason, I implore you to share.

Anyway, we can both agree that we have a lot of oughts lying around and I'm curious where they all came from, if not from ises.
ViceRegent

Con

Will you even try to prove your claim in the OP? Or have you given up on that?
Debate Round No. 4
TuracoPersa

Pro

I must apologize. I see that you were looking for a one word answer, while I was planning to engage in a discussion which, with some mutual effort, might have helped us understand each other's viewpoints better. Again I'm sorry and I hope you have a lovely day.
ViceRegent

Con

Another atheist proves Hume right once again.
Debate Round No. 5
33 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Furyan5 11 months ago
Furyan5
Lol I'm not speaking for you. I just said your statement is correct even if you meant it another way. Don't get all huffed up for no reason. It's a sign of immaturity. Rather just explain what you meant. Like most adults do.
Posted by ViceRegent 11 months ago
ViceRegent
Ahhh, please do not speak for me. Not only are you not authorized, you got it wrong.
Posted by Furyan5 11 months ago
Furyan5
VR is right. Good and evil do not exist objectively in the universe. It only feels that way. There are many things we experience which do not actually exist. Sound, color, heat and cold for example. Is water hot? No! A water molecule does not contain heat. The more energy it has, the more it vibrates and we sense these vibrations as heat. It's the same with good and evil. Even if every person on the planet agrees that something is evil that does not make it objectively evil. It remains a subjective opinion.
Posted by ViceRegent 11 months ago
ViceRegent
A billion subject moral claims does not an objective claim make.
Posted by TuracoPersa 11 months ago
TuracoPersa
Furyan5, suppose there was a moral value that everyone happened to share (e.g. eating babies is wrong), and we somehow managed to verify that everyone shared it. Then at least for that one value, couldn't we have an objective moral code?
Posted by Furyan5 11 months ago
Furyan5
Morals are not the same for everyone. Each of us has our own sense of morality and therefore we can never create an accurate list of what is moral which fits everyone. Moral values however do not change. They are determined during early childhood and captured in the subconscious and therefore an individuals moral values are quantifiable and may even be determined objectively and scientifically. It would however require a complete list of childhood encounters by the individual, most of which they themselves could not recall. At present this is beyond our capabilities.
Posted by illegalcombat 11 months ago
illegalcombat
So Vice do you think "God" closes the is/ought gap ? and if so how so ?
Posted by klaralein 11 months ago
klaralein
VR, explain how morality and ethics existed in the eras before Christianity, such as with Egyptians and Neanderthals.
Posted by Furyan5 11 months ago
Furyan5
By atheist we are actually referring to agnostics. And I never said anything about kill. They are not stupid. They know the risks and for most, this is enough to deter them. This has nothing to do with a moral obligation not to commit crimes. It's just common sense.
Posted by ViceRegent 11 months ago
ViceRegent
Actually, morality and ethics are synomous and defined by God.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Stonehe4rt 11 months ago
Stonehe4rt
TuracoPersaViceRegentTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Tch, You both were horrible. Pro showed that it could be subjective, while Con showed it could be Scientfic, Neither debunked each other and then acted like children. However I must say that due to Pro being the first to go off topic, I award Conduct to Con.
Vote Placed by CJames 11 months ago
CJames
TuracoPersaViceRegentTied
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Reasons for voting decision: I found the behavior of both to be questionable, so I award a tie for conduct. This debate quickly devolved into personal attacks. However, since, Pro failed to meet any standard by which one can say he showed the burden of proof, that morals can be scientifically determined, I must conclude that his arguments were less than convincing.
Vote Placed by klaralein 11 months ago
klaralein
TuracoPersaViceRegentTied
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Con made no argument and instead just made unsupported claims and insults, so conduct goes to Pro. Pro was respectful the entire time and made supportive claims, so arguments goes to Pro.