The Instigator
MariahBreeAnn
Pro (for)
Losing
10 Points
The Contender
EvanK
Con (against)
Winning
16 Points

Morality is Not Universal

Do you like this debate?NoYes+1
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 6 votes the winner is...
EvanK
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/8/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,432 times Debate No: 33438
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (3)
Votes (6)

 

MariahBreeAnn

Pro

Morality is not a universal idea and cannot be addressed as one. Throughout this debate i hope to prove that morality is a matter of opinion and view rather than a distinct idea that all human beings have to abide by or else they are forever labeled immoral and wrong.

I thank my audience and voters for your input!
EvanK

Con

Thanks to MariahBreeAnn for the challenge. I accept and look forward to a fun and interesting debate.
Debate Round No. 1
MariahBreeAnn

Pro

First I thank my opponent, EvanK, for accepting.

I will start off this debate by saying that Morality is not a universal concept and should not be treated as such.
" ----The Definition of Morality
First published Wed Apr 17, 2002; substantive revision Mon Mar 14, 2011
The term "morality" can be used either

descriptively to refer to some codes of conduct put forward by a society or,
some other group, such as a religion, or
accepted by an individual for her own behavior or
normatively to refer to a code of conduct that, given specified conditions, would be put forward by all rational persons."
-From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy indicates that morality is not something that can be taken and used as a universal standard. It is a reference to a "code of conduct" that is enforced by a society, religion or group. Which is not every person. Different groups and societies, especially religion, have different beliefs and idea. Morality being one of those differences in beliefs.

-Ethnocentrism
"Ethnocentrism is the assumption, usually unconscious, that "one"s own group is the center of everything" and that its beliefs, practices, and norms provide the standards by which other groups are "scaled and rated" (Sumner 1906, 12-13). This can lead to arrogance and intolerance in dealings with other countries, ethical systems, and religions."
-From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Ethnocentrism is believing your ideas and beliefs are superior to others beliefs. It doesn't have to be on purpose and can be an absentminded action. When you treat morality as a universal concept you are unconsciously assuming your beliefs are of a higher rank than another persons. which leads me to my third point.

"The eating of human flesh was not practised by the Australian native to the extent that it was by the South Sea Islander. The term "cannibalism" is usually taken to mean gorging on human flesh, and with relish; and that seems a valid description of the cannibalism of the Melanesian indig"nes of New Caledonia, who appear to have regarded man-meat much as we regard the Sunday-joint. Not all cannibalism is the same in purpose.

In hard summers, the new-born children were all eaten by the Kaura tribe in the neighbourhood of Adelaide, according to Dr McKinley. In 1933 I was able to talk to old men who had eaten human flesh. The chief of Yam Island described to me how he had eaten finely-chopped man-meat mixed with crocodile-meat, at his initiation. He added that it had made him sick. The purpose, as he put it, was "to make heart come strong inside."

In the Wotjobaluk tribe, a couple who already had a child might kill their new-born and feed its muscle-flesh to the other one to make it strong. The baby was killed ritually, by striking its head against the shoulder of its elder brother or sister.

Human flesh-eating among many tribes was a sign of respect for the dead. At a Dieri burial, relatives received, in strict order of precedence, small portions of the body-fat to eat. "We eat him," a tribesman said, "because we knew him and were fond of him." But revenge cannibalism is typified in the custom of the Ngarigo tribe, who ate the flesh of the hands and feet of slain enemies, and accompanied the eating with loud expressions of contempt for the people killed."
-From Heretical.com

This is an Australian tribe that believes it is moral to eat humans. It is a part of their religion and according to the definition of morality, since they believe in this and established it in their society and religion it is moral. When in the United States most people will think that is wrong and immoral. Making it a societal idea and belief rather than a universal one. Therefore morality is not a universal concept.
EvanK

Con

This is a pretty tricky subject to debate, since morality{1} is a very broad term. But I think that even though some people might have their own idea of morality, that doesn't mean there cannot be a universal idea of morality. I don't think that this is a case of ethnocentrism, just logic.

First off, I think it's impossible to prove a certain set of moral beliefs to be true (whether it's the morality of Christianity, Islam, or a particular tribe) but I do believe it's possible to establish certain key values to be moral, whether or not everyone agrees. One of the most basic ones, which I will focus on, is the aspect of killing {2}.

It should be obvious that all humans are created equal, whether they were created by God or by nature. What I mean is, no one man has power or dominion over any other. If one believes this, the onus is on them to show why they do so. Otherwise, it should be obvious that all human beings are equal to each other, and no one has the right to harm or kill another. Just because some people believe that they have the right to hurt others, or to go so far as to kill and eat them, doesn't make it right, and doesn't mean that murder is moral, or at least, not immoral.

This isn't a case of ethnocentrism, just logic. What gives another human being the power and authority to kill another human? Not only that, but to eat the flesh of new born children? What gives another human the right to take away the life of a newly born human, and not only eat them, but to tell others that it is completely ok to do so? If all humans are equal, then the power to decide who lives and who dies is not in the hands of any human being, by means of simple logic.

So I believe this is one case where morality is in fact universal, that all humans are equal, that no human has power over any other, and therefore, does not possess the right to kill another human, due to this equality. Because of this, I believe that some moral statements are in fact universal.

{1} "a doctrine or system of moral conduct"-http://www.merriam-webster.com...

{2} "to deprive of life : cause the death of"- http://www.merriam-webster.com...
Debate Round No. 2
MariahBreeAnn

Pro

For a brief road map, I will go over my opponents arguments and then enforce my own.

His first argument was to say that it is "impossible to prove a certain set of moral beliefs to be true" Which is completely correct, until he goes on to say that certain key values can be determined to be moral whether everyone agrees or not. But, if everyone does not agree then we still have to fail to recognize morality as a universal concept since every person or group or society could have a different view of what morality is. Which he also stated in the beginning of his argument, that morality is a broad term. He mentions one of the basic key values of morality is the aspect of killing but as I said in my previous arguments other people and religions have different ideas of whether killing is moral or not. Which is what we are debating, whether morality is a term that can be used universally and accepted with the same ideas in mind.

-created equal-
I believe that my opponent is attempting to make the point that humans may not think they are superior to other humans and that they have no right to hurt others or to believe killing them is not immoral. Which is his personal belief and view as to what morality is. This argument is directed at my point that some Australian tribes believe it is moral to eat human flesh. I am not saying that I agree with this, but what I am saying is that others have different opinions as to what the definition of morality is. Which again, his argument does not fit in with the debate considering it is proving that his definition of what is moral is different from what the definition of morality is to other people.

-logic-
Again, his point is that humans do not have the authority or right to kill other humans. I agree, but there is other people who do not agree on the meaning of the word morality which is why it was possible for my opponent to say that morality is a broad term in the beginning of his arguments. He says it isn't ethnocentrism because it is logical to believe that humans cannot kill other humans. But just by saying that is an example of ethnocentrism. Saying that it is only logical to believe that you should not and cannot kill a person and eat their flesh is saying that that idea is superior to any other. The people in those Australian tribes believe differently and you are therefore saying that they are wrong and your idea is dominant over theirs is ethnocentrism.

As for my on case, my points stand strong.

According to the definition of morality any code of conduct that is implemented in a society or religion or group may be considered moral. Since there are many different groups of people, societies and religions with different ideas as to what is right and wrong we can see that morality is not a universal idea.

I respectfully urge a vote for pro.
EvanK

Con

1-"I believe that my opponent is attempting to make the point that humans may not think they are superior to other humans and that they have no right to hurt others or to believe killing them is not immoral. Which is his personal belief and view as to what morality is."

If another human believes that he is superior to another human, the onus is on him to prove that to be the case. You can look to science to see that every human is basically the same. They may have different ways of interpreting morality, but that doesn't make anyone superior to another. That being said, it seems to follow that if every human is equal, no human has the right to harm or kill another human. It is wrong, because you are harming another human's life which you have no right to do. If you believe you have the right to harm another human, it is up to you to show why that is so. Otherwise, it is safe to say that because everyone is equal, then killing another human is wrong, because it is not your right to decide who lives and who dies.

2-"Saying that it is only logical to believe that you should not and cannot kill a person and eat their flesh is saying that that idea is superior to any other."

I did not say that it is only logical to believe that you should not and cannot kill another human and eat their flesh, rather, that unless you (when I use you, I am using it hypothetically, by the way) can prove that you are superior to every other human being, then it logically follows that you cannot decide who lives and who dies, and you cannot decide that it is perfectly ok to kill another human and eat their flesh. You are their equal, you have no power over them. Again, unless you can prove you are superior over other humans, you are logically their equal.

3-Reaffirmation of my points

To reaffirm my points, I will again state that it is demonstrably true that all humans {1} are equal, through use of science. No human has any claim to power or dominion over any other human. If one believes otherwise, it is up to them to prove so. Because every human is equal, no human has the right to decide which humans can live or die, and therefore, cannot kill another human, for whatever reason, cannibalism included. Because of this, the moral statement that killing is wrong is true, whether or not one believes it to be true or not. This isn't my belief, rather, a logical conclusion.

I respectfully urge a con vote.

{1} Human-"a bipedal primate mammal (Homo sapiens)"-http://www.merriam-webster.com......

Debate Round No. 3
MariahBreeAnn

Pro

First I would like to restate what it is that we are debating about. In the first round I said:
"Throughout this debate I hope to prove that morality is a matter of opinion and view rather than a distinct idea that all human beings have to abide by or else they are forever labeled immoral and wrong."
And in round three:
"Which is what we are debating, whether morality is a term that can be used universally and accepted with the same ideas in mind."

With that said I will once again respond to my opponents arguments and then enforce my own.

1. My opponent is trying to make the argument that no human being is superior to another and if they think that they are then it is their responsibility to prove that they are and why they believe it is so. But, that is not what we are debating. It is if the idea of morality is universal or not which he fails to address and with his statement "If another human believes that he is superior to another human, the onus is on him to prove that to be the case. You can look to science to see that every human is basically the same. They may have different ways of interpreting morality, but that doesn't make anyone superior to another." He admits that people have different ways of interpreting morality which is agreeing not all people have the same views; which declares that it is not a universal idea or concept.

2. Once again, his argument is based upon the authority of a person and whether or not they can prove it. With my point of ethnocentrism I was making the argument that people can believe that their ideas are better than another persons whether it is conscious or not and in the 3rd round my opponent even proved my point by saying that it is wrong to kill people when I brought up evidence that says that other people think otherwise, which proves the argument not everyone has the same idea of morality as well. Therefore the key concepts of morality such as killing cannot be defined as universal if others think differently.

3. My argument stands strong that morality is not a universal idea or concept because 1) Different people have different ideas and definitions of morality depending on what group, religion or society you are apart of. 2) It is ethnocentric to believe that morality is universal since you believe your idea of morality is superior.
EvanK

Con

1-"My opponent is trying to make the argument that no human being is superior to another and if they think that they are then it is their responsibility to prove that they are and why they believe it is so. But, that is not what we are debating."

This is a misrepresentation on my argument. From my round two argument: "First off, I think it's impossible to prove a certain set of moral beliefs to be true (whether it's the morality of Christianity, Islam, or a particular tribe) but I do believe it's possible to establish certain key values to be moral, whether or not everyone agrees. One of the most basic ones, which I will focus on, is the aspect of killing".

As I said, you cannot prove a certain set of moral rules as completely true, or completely false. But, as I said, I believe I can show that certain aspects of morality can be shown to be universally true, whether or not some people think so or not. The one aspect I chose to focus on was whether or not killing is universally, morally wrong. To show this, I made the argument that because no human is superior to another, he has no right to decide whether or not another human, or many humans, can live or die. If one cannot show that he is superior to another human, then it logically follows that he has no claim to the right to kill another human. In other words, killing another human is morally wrong whether or one believes so or not. That is the argument that I have been trying to make, and that my opponent has failed to refute.

2-Ethnocentrism

My opponent accuses me and my arguments of ethnocentrism {1}, but I think I have shown that we can come to the logical conclusion that killing another human is wrong, without bringing in culture or any such thing into the picture. One can believe that it is morally permissible to kill other humans, but that doesn't make it moral. You may argue that because not everyone accepts it, that means morality is not universal. But as I said, all we need to do is use logic to come to the conclusion that killing is not moral. Ask someone who believes killing is ok why he believes so, and see whether or not it is a logical answer. As I have been arguing, to show that it is morally permissible to kill another human, one must show why he has the right to do such a thing to someone who is equal to him. If he cannot do so, he has no right to kill another human, making killing other humans morally wrong, and universally so. Universally accepted? Maybe not, but I can choose to believe that 2+2=5, but that doesn't mean that math is not a universal concept.

3-Conclusion

In conclusion, I have shown that, while not every aspect of morality of a certain religious or ethnic code can be proven universal, I have shown that certain aspects, such as killing, can be shown to be universally morally wrong, using logic. And while some may choose not to accept it, that doesn't make it any less true. Just because one person believes it is moral to kill another human, doesn't make the idea of killing humans universally morally wrong false.

I once again thank my opponent for a fun and interesting debate. Not an easy subject to debate, but certainly an enjoyable one.
Debate Round No. 4
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by drafterman 4 years ago
drafterman
Point 1: Morality cannot be used as a universal standard
Support: Only enforced by subgroups, not everyone (unsourced)
- Refutation: Non-universal morality in practice does not preclude universal morality in theory (unsourced)
-- Resupport: Out-of-scope; Debate about is what is the case
Support: Ethnocentrism as an example (unsourced)

Summary: Pro puts forth cases of ethnocentrism as examples of how what is perceived as moral differ across other cultures and subgroups. Con's only refutation is that this does not preclude as hypothetical universal moral, but Pro notes this as out of scope. Point to Pro.

Rebuttal 1: There are certain universal concepts
Support: All humans created equal (unsourced)
- Refutation: Ethnocentrism refutes even the universal immorality of killing (unsourced)
- Refutation: All humans created equal is, itself, a single point of view (unsourced)
-- Resupport: SCIENCE! (unsourced)

Summary: Con attempts to establish the existence of at least some universal morals, but Pro counters with specific examples (invoking ethnocentrism) that these aren't the case and that Con's own assertions, while stated universally, are also only opinions. Con attempts to reassert the universality of human equality, but doesn't actually demonstrate it. Point to Pro.

====

Overall Summary: Short, sweet, and to the point. The main failing of Con was simply reasserting his point without supporting it.
Posted by Mysterious_Stranger 4 years ago
Mysterious_Stranger
I don't live by morals nor do I believe they are universal. People choose to follow by what others think and do. They are not made to
Posted by EvanK 4 years ago
EvanK
In my final round, I forgot to post my reference.

Round four-

{1} Ethnocentrism-"the belief in the inherent superiority of one's own ethnic group or culture." http://dictionary.reference.com...
6 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Vote Placed by drafterman 4 years ago
drafterman
MariahBreeAnnEvanKTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by TheHitchslap 4 years ago
TheHitchslap
MariahBreeAnnEvanKTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: The arguments question what ethnocen. is. I'm giving arguments to Con for several reasons: 1) Pro was never able to refute that science has progressed morality; as all are created equal in todays age, and furthermore, failed to refute that ethnocn. isn't claiming human sacrifices are wrong and this value is superior to anyone else. No assumption on Con's behalf ever made that assumption, rather that this is a universal value today, nor did he ever claim the aussie tribes ought to be shamed. Finally sources to con; more of them, accessible, and reliable. Pro only used 1 or 2 sources (which isn't enough) only in the first round, and never anywhere else to further support her claims. Con did. Good debate guys!
Vote Placed by CriticalThinkingMachine 4 years ago
CriticalThinkingMachine
MariahBreeAnnEvanKTied
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: CONDUCT: Each side had good conduct. S/G: Each side had decent grammar. ARGUMENTS: Pro's main argument is that because different cultures believe different things, there is no universal morality. That clearly does not follow, and Con explained that. Pro was confusing an epistmic issue with an ontic one. Con gave an example of a moral belief that is supported by science, and hence objective. It is politically correct to call someone ethnocentric just for believing that his culture is superior to that of another, when there is evidence to support that view. Pro does not seem to realize that her very arguments and the fact that she has entered into this debate implie that she believes that a culture which believes that it is not immoral to debate ideas is superior to a culture that does not. Hence she refutes her own case just by debating. That's the problem with moral relativism or subjectivism. It refutes itself. SOURCES: Sources are not necessary for a philosophical debate like this
Vote Placed by x2MuzioPlayer 4 years ago
x2MuzioPlayer
MariahBreeAnnEvanKTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:31 
Reasons for voting decision: This entire debate was semantically centered around whether to take the term "universal" as an "acknowledgement" (Pro) or as a "concept" (Con). Now, providing a definition isn't necessary, but then it becomes all the more essential to make a framework case. This debate had no explicit clash, whatsoever, because neither would directly address this impasse of definitions. With that said, if Pro wins that morality cannot be universally accepted, yet Con wins that universal morality has the potential to exist nevertheless, then the question becomes this: where does morality come from? If it comes from people, Pro wins. If it doesn't, Con wins. Pro has the edge here, since both definitions provided in this debate support that morality is self-defined by humans, whether it's through doctrine or societal norms. Source points are tied: Con's extra sources (the definition of "human" and "kill") were completely irrelevant. If I need to, I can justify my RFD further in the comments.
Vote Placed by justin.graves 4 years ago
justin.graves
MariahBreeAnnEvanKTied
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:15 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro lacked the sufficient evidence and logic to uphold the BoP. Con used more sources and used sources that could be accessed better for the benefit of the reader. Yes, Pro used sources, Con's sources were more numerous and accessible, as well as relevant. Con's arguments follow the same path. Pro used a lot of examples and things that other people did, but pretty much her only backing for that was that "Those things are ok if you are open-minded." Eh? The circular reasoning on this time and again was slightly painful. better grammar and spelling. Con had more than one run-on sentence and lacked commas in appropriate places at times. Pro had the same issue, simply on a lesser scale, so S&G goes to Pro. Conduct was appropriate on both sides, much to my surprise. Debates on absolute morality on this site often turn into name calling games of the "Closed-minded" vs. the "Immoral." Way to stay civil guys!
Vote Placed by jackintosh 4 years ago
jackintosh
MariahBreeAnnEvanKTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:32 
Reasons for voting decision: When Con said flat out he "believe[s] it's possible to establish certain key values to be moral, whether or not everyone agrees. One of the most basic ones, which I will focus on, is the aspect of killing". that is as close to admitting defeat as you can get! if not every one agrees that, as your example of killing, is immoral then by definition of the concept universal morality is proven false. Sources has to go to con for clearly listing them and even listed the final one in comments because they forgot in the argument.