The Instigator
RobertF
Pro (for)
Winning
3 Points
The Contender
sengejuri
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Morality is not objective nor decided by any god but rather a freedom of people

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Post Voting Period
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after 1 vote the winner is...
RobertF
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/11/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 462 times Debate No: 60312
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (0)
Votes (1)

 

RobertF

Pro

First a small introduction: Some people would argue that there are objective moral values which would mean that by logic or science, one could decide what is good or bad. Religion sometimes makes the argument that there is no basis for moral values other than that god decides what is good or bad and that without a god, there is no reason to do good or bad things. If you don't follow god, you will go to hell so we do good things because of god. This is a very simplistic version of the actual standpoint that I'm obviously not defending.

I would argue that morality is a product of our brain just as our observation of the colour magenta which doesn't have a wavelength(just an fyi). We all seem to experience pain as a 'negative' feeling but I would argue there is no goal or purpose or ought in that matter. We could just as well experience 'damage to the body' as a positive sensation but logically we would follow that sensation, we will soon kill ourselves.

The way we perceive the world is constructed through time. Some see all the colours, some don't(color blindness). Morality, or our sensation of good and evil, is simply a concept build in our brains. I would argue that there is no specific way that green is supposed to look like. Maybe your green is my red and maybe your good is my evil. I do believe it is nested very thoroughly into the essence of our DNA and therefore difficult to drastically alter through a small genetic mutation. I would argue that morality in general those moral believes that ensure the survival of our species.

If we took two 'worlds', one where killing each other is generally accepted as a good thing and one where it is generally accepted as a bad thing. Surely the humanity in the world where it is accepted as a good thing will be extinct quickly. Only those moral values that help our survival, stay. Moral values on more delicate or complex matters are therefore less well developed, unlike 'killing is bad', because the impact on human survival is a lot less defined.

I would argue that therefore everybody has the freedom to decide whatever they see as good or bad as long as they accept that others have that same freedom and might have opposing moral values. There is no telling which one is ultimately or objectively bad or good. You could tell which one is more likely to help with the survival of the human species but who is to tell that that should be our goal?
sengejuri

Con

Hello. Thanks for debating this fascinating and important topic. No debate format was given, so I will simply state my own case for now and save rebuttals for the next round. I will first take some time to summarize my understanding of my opponent"s position. I invite them to correct me if I misinterpret anything.

It seems the claim here is that morality is not objective, but rather something people get to choose for themselves as long as they respect others" right to do the same. Morality is not some intrinsic, factual truth but rather something that evolved with our brains to help us survive, and remains with us today due to natural selection. This is my understanding of Pro"s claims. I am assuming, of course, that Pro is not arguing that people choose good from bad in a completely literal sense, because that is obviously true and non-debatable. Clearly people make judgments on right and wrong all the time. I believe Pro is getting at the deeper issue of whether there is an independent (objective) metric that can ultimately declare each person"s moral choices as correct or incorrect.

Pro mentions God, but I am going to avoid any religious arguments. This is a debate about morality, and so I will stick to that topic. I will quickly define objective and subjective morality as follows:

Objective " certain standards of human behavior (morals) are by nature good/bad regardless of people"s opinions.

Subjective " Standards of human behavior are a function of individual opinion. A behavior is "good"only when a person decides it is "good."

Please let me know if you disagree with these definitions. Now, on to my arguments.

Claiming that morality is subjective is a logically nonsensical. This is because saying "Morality is not objective" is an objective claim that appeals to an intrinsic nature of morality. In other words, arguing that morality is subjective suggests that people with differing opinions are incorrect, which suggests that morality does have an intrinsic nature that exists independently of people"s opinions. So, philosophically, even having this debate suggests that morality must have some kind of true essence that we can argue over because someone"s opinion is wrong and someone"s opinion is right. If morality was truly subjective, this would not be possible.

Second, an observation of universal human behavior suggests that morality is most likely objective. This is sometimes mistaken as an appeal to popularity, but it is not. Rather, it is a natural conclusion drawn from careful observation, similar to the scientific method. Every human society operates based on the existence of objective right and wrong. The alternative to this, and the physical manifestation of true moral subjectivity (where everyone accepts everyone else"s opinion of human behavior), is anarchy. Anarchy does periodically occur, but it is always short lived and followed by some kind of law or order. True moral subjective systems simply do not exist. Thus, we observe that standards of human behavior seem to exist in an objective state.

Finally, embracing true moral subjectivity demands outcomes that are not realistic. In a subjectively moral system, every person"s opinion about right and wrong must be equally acceptable. The rapist, the murderer, and the child molester must all be respected and accepted for their individual interpretations of good and bad just as much as the doctor and philanthropist. We do not observe this state in any human society. Furthermore, common sense suggests advocating such a state does not reflect an acceptable reality.

This concludes my initial arguments. I look forward to the next round.
Debate Round No. 1
RobertF

Pro

After finding myself to read a couple more debates I noticed that there are some conventions here and there about how we can start a debate. I'm glad to find my opponent to follow my lead and post his argument.

We do agree on the definitions of objective and subjective moral values. I, however, think that my opponent makes a view assumptions that lead to a huge difference in opinion even though I might feel that we can come to an agreement very soon.

I'd like to quote the following line:
Every human society operates based on the existence of objective right and wrong. The alternative to this, and the physical manifestation of true moral subjectivity (where everyone accepts everyone else"s opinion of human behavior), is anarchy

I think my opponent has the burden of proof when he implies that simply because our society operates on the same moral values, this implies that they are 'objectively good'. I here fall back on my analogy with pain.

Pain occurs obviously when the skin is damage to a certain depth where the pain receptors are. In fact, it seems that all pain occurs usually when there is damage to the body. We also seem to all dislike pain instead of liking it. Does this mean that damage is ought to be sensed as a negative sensation? Does it have to be that way? Only if we make the assumption that we have to avoid pain. Once we make that step, I do agree with my opponent. But there is objectively no reason to say that we ought to survive as a species. We could just as well want to exterminate ourselves. Who is to say that that is morally bad? We might happen to all agree that we wouldn't want that, but does that make it objectively bad? No that makes is subjectively bad.

Now my opponent implied that if a subjective morality is true, we have to value each others moral judgements equally. That doesn't mean that we therefore can not interfere in each others lives. I would argue that in a world of subjective moral values you could have a situation where 100 people are against murder and 1 is pro murder and the 100 would agree to incarcerate or maybe even murder the 1 person who forms a danger to their survival. This creates a form of natural selection where only a selective group of moral values survive.

I think that any argument pro objective moral values should imply equally to our limbs. We could say: a human beings have to have limbs in order to survive as a species. But could you objectively prove that we ought to survive. I think this matter stays in the way of objective moral values. And I argue that no, we don't need to be able to have objective moral reasons that we should survive, for us to all agree that we want it.

We similarly don't need to have objective reasons to prove why 'shawshenk redemption' is the best movie(according to IMDB) in order to all agree that we think it is. That's a matter of vote. Just like our moral values. We also can't say that Shawshenk Redemption objectively is the best movie because it depends entirely on what someone values.

I would like to close by making the following two statements that I think are mainly different:

1. I agree with most of what my opponent says when we assume that we ought to survive.

2. I don't agree that subjective moral values necessarily lead to anarchy because a species can collectively decide to form a justice system to protect their kind of extinction without requiring objective moral arguments as permission.
sengejuri

Con

Before I start, I'd like to address one thing. Pro suggests I have burden of proof. Burden of proof is normally assumed by the instigator presenting the claim, so Pro should have it for this debate. Since this was not clarified in Round 1 however, I am willing to accept a neutral BoP requirement for this debate. Either way, I most certainly do not have BoP.

Pro begins by arguing that morality is simply an abstract concept defined in each individual's brain, similar to how different people's eyes detect colors in different ways. Just like a color blind person sees green differently than someone else, one person may see good and evil differently than another. The main problem with this argument is that it assumes human perception is the ultimate definition of reality. Unfortunately, it is not. Colors are simply our way of labeling different wavelengths of light. "Red" light, for example, is light with a wavelength of 620-750nm. So when you say, "that toy is red" you are actually saying, "that toy is reflecting light with a wavelength between 620-750nm." So, when the color blind person says "no, that toy looks green," they are saying "that toy reflects light in a wavelength 495-570nm." But if we measured the light's wavelength and measured it at 700nm, then the color blind person is wrong, even though the toy appears green to them. Light has an objective essence even though our human perceptions of it differ. This also applies to morality. Just because people perceive morality differently does not mean it therefore lacks an objective essence. As such, this argument falls short.

Pro's next argument is that our morals today are those behaviors which evolutionarily helped us survive. In some cases, that seems true. Values like sharing and protecting children have obvious survival benefits. But other moral values seem to hinder survival. Helping physically or mentally handicapped people, for example, would have hindered early human survival. Giving up already scarce resources to keep alive people who couldn't work or hunt would be a great disadvantage. Also, behaviors like cheating, lying, and manipulating would have helped competing humans survive better, but these behaviors are largely seen as "bad." If evolution favors survival of the fittest, then our current morals cannot be solely explained by it.

In order to discredit my point that every human society acknowledges morality's objective nature, my opponent simply needs to provide an example of one society that practices moral subjectivity. I challenge them to do so.

Pro's argument about pain is a bit unclear to me. Maybe they could explain it more in the next round. As far as I can understand it however, this example still does not demonstrate moral subjectivity. It is true that the sensation of physical pain is unique to each person. People have different pain tolerances. Some people have rare nerve conditions where they feel no pain at all. However, this does not mean pain is any less "bad" for such people. Pain tells us when something might be dangerous. Some pain is obviously good - like the pain of working out makes your body stronger. But too much pain is always dangerous. Too much working out can cause injury or death. People who cannot sense pain can still experience danger. In fact, people with that condition often die from joint infections because they do not know to shift their weight while standing and sitting [1]. So, even the absence of pain does not mean the absence of pain's ultimate meaning - danger. Similarly, even the absence of a conscience does not mean morality doesn't exist.

In response to if our species ought to survive, either answer is still an objective principle, so it doesn't really matter. If you say yes, that is an objective claim. If you say no, that is an objective claim. I suppose it is philosophically possible we ought not to survive. But turning again to a more scientific approach - making observations to draw conclusions about the natural world - humans possess a strong instinct to survive at all costs. So it seems most likely to conclude that we ought to survive.

Pro suggests that even if morality is subjective, we can still interfere in each other's lives. The 99 can still imprison the 1. This is an impossible contradiction. In true moral subjectivity, we cannot interfere in anyone's life. The moment the 99 tell the 1 his behavior is unacceptable, morality is no longer subjective. The 99 appeal to a certain standard of behavior that everyone "ought" to follow. This is moral objectivity - standards of human behavior independent from individual opinion. This is the great hurdle that moral subjectivity can never overcome - if morals are truly subjective, there are no standards, no codes, no way to hold others accountable. Everyone's opinion must be equally acceptable, and there are no grounds upon which to tell someone else they are wrong.

Moral subjectivity is more than just having your own moral opinions. True subjectivity must also acknowledge that everyone else's opinions are equally acceptable. In application, this means raping and murdering are fully acceptable behaviors. Pro must explain how this makes sense in order to support their position. This is not a reality we observe anywhere.

Pro continually asks me to prove that we ought to survive. I do not have to prove anything -there is no BoP. I simply must demonstrate that my opponent is using inadequate logic and faulty arguments. I believe I have done this.

[1] David Epstein, "The Sports Gene," Penguin Group, 2013.
Debate Round No. 2
RobertF

Pro

I had this whole new argument based upon the response of my opponent but I guess this argument isn't really useful since only his last argument is the argument that really matters to me.

I quote:
"Moral subjectivity is more than just having your own moral opinions. True subjectivity must also acknowledge that everyone else's opinions are equally acceptable. In application, this means raping and murdering are fully acceptable behaviors. Pro must explain how this makes sense in order to support their position. This is not a reality we observe anywhere."

I think the whole definition is paradoxical. The part where he says: True subjectivity must also acknowledge that everyone else's opinions are equally acceptable. This is obviously not true since that is a moral objective claim that cannot be true if moral subjectivity is true, which is a requisite to make that claim in the first place. Its like saying: A is the opposite of B and it implies C, which means that because of B, D is true. In a subjective moral system, everybody is free to do whatever they want with whoever they want and vice verse.

Why, if morality is subjective, would that mean that people cannot enforce their moral standpoints on others? Look at a more primitive form of life in our bloodstreams where white blood cells are fighting off viruses. Or perhaps the tidal movement of oceans on rocks. Its just a battle of two great forces pushing the other out of existence. Its like erosion, the stronger one perseveres. Just like good genes. Take the ocean, the ocean exists has the right to exist so does a rock, but just because they have an equal right to exist, the ocean cannot erode a rock? That is what my opponent uses as a counter argument. A and B are equally valid so that means that they cannot interfere? How does that make sense?

The whole debate has been put in a misshaped mold. First I claimed that morality is a subjective result from evolution just like our common sensation of pain. Somehow my opponent assumes that "In application, this means raping and murdering are fully acceptable behaviors.". Which is simply not equal to my viewpoint. The term 'Are fully acceptable behaviours' is a moral objective argument that obviously doesn't apply on my argument. Let me clarify the nuance in this specific case.

I argue that some people might have the opinion that murder and rape is acceptable behaviour. If 5 people have that opinion and 10.000.000 people find that reprehensible. From an objective standpoint, you can not say which one is better since I argue that it isn't an objective thing. Why does that mean that they cannot force these 5 people to abstain from raping and murdering?

My opponent is taking a part of my argument, adding the label of 'his definition of moral subjectivity' to it and then based on this new label adds conclusions that are obviously not implied by my vision on morality.

How do I then prove that morality is based on evolution? Because that model is able to provide incredibly good explanations as to why certain moral values exist. One way to disprove this model that I am offering is to give me a personal moral value that isn't explainable by evolution. Another would be give a better explanation or proof for a something that is mutually exclusive with my model.

To end my argument:
We see different moral values all over the planet. Somehow Jews believe it is okay to cut off the foreskin of newborn babies. A couple of people of Islamic believes think it is okay to kill hundreds of people who have a different religious believe and that such an action will take them to heaven. To me a more top level observation that shows that morality is different everywhere. But somehow, all of us seem to have this instinct where we want to be free and not hurt by others which, to me seems like a clear leftover from a very basic evolutionary principle: we all want to survive(almost all of us).
sengejuri

Con

Thank you Pro for the quick response.

I regret that my opponent feels this debate is being "put in a misshaped mold." That is certainly not my intent. I believe I have responded to each of Pro's points in a fairly straight forward way. If my opponent feels I am not responding clearly, I apologize and invite them to clarify their position in the next round. Pro agreed with my definitions in Round 1, so those are the definitions I've been using.

I will continue by rebutting Pro's points from Round 3.

Pro's first argument claims it's paradoxical to say subjectivity must accept all opinions. I do not believe it is. The very nature of subjectivity, according to my opponent, is that "In a subjective moral system, everybody is free to do whatever they want with whoever they want and vice verse." I agree. For that to become a reality, for it to actually exist, then everyone must actually be free to do whatever they want. Subjectively moral systems cannot reject the opinions of others. That would be contrary to its very definition.

Pro next argues that it is still possible for the strong to impose their beliefs on the weak even if morality is subjective. I agree this happens all the time, but I disagree that it could happen in a truly subjective system. The existence of such behavior implies moral objectivity. The only opinion one cannot hold in a subjective system by definition is that one person is right and another is wrong. Once again, the very existence of this debate assumes that morality has some objective essence that can be argued over. Once the 10,000,000 tell the 5 "we are going to force you to stop raping because we don't like your behavior" they are appealing to an objective sense of good and bad that should be applied to other people. Comparing this claim to the ocean and rocks is a false equivalence fallacy because morals are not physical things.

The bottom line is this: if morality is subjective, then there is no such thing as "bad" or "good." Torturing babies is not intrinsically "bad," it's just a behavior most people currently choose to avoid. But this principle goes both ways. If there ever comes a time (god forbid) where most people suddenly decide torturing babies is fine, would it then be acceptable behavior? Do we really believe that? According to subjectivity, it would. If my opponent does not believe these are the conclusions implied by their position, then I would challenge them to think a bit deeper about what moral subjectivity really means.

Next, Pro asks me to provide examples of morals that are unlikely to evolve through Natural Selection. I would respectfully ask them to re-read my Round 2 argument, because I gave some specific examples there. To list them again: helping the physically and mentally handicapped, avoiding cheating, lying, and manipulation (or any activity that gives you a personal advantage). Other examples include philanthropy, pacifism, and medical ethics. I agree that evolution can explain why certain morals exist, but it cannot completely explain all, or even most, of them.

To respond to my opponent's last point, it's true that societies have different interpretations on how moral principles should be applied. However, the basic morals themselves are shockingly similar: Don't harm people unjustifiably, don't take things that belong to others, display courage, seek justice, etc... The question is largely about what these things mean and what they look like, but not about the morals themselves. I challenge Pro to identify a single society that does not advocate these basic principles.

I believe morality's nature cannot be 100% proven either way. However, we can determine which case is most likely through observation and logic. We observe that most humans everywhere instinctively sense certain types of behaviors are right and wrong. We all sense that torturing babies is wrong, and we put people who do it in prison because we consider them to be "bad" people. No society encourages its warriors to be cowards in battle. No one believes the Holocaust was morally acceptable simply because the German government agreed with it at the time. Observations like this indicate that there are standards of behavior that are intrinsically "bad." To convincingly advocate moral subjectivity, Pro must explain why these behaviors are wrong only if people believe they're wrong.

Logically, moral subjectivity is an interesting hypothetical idea, but it does not exist in reality. Subjective morals are functions of personal opinion, or, to quote my opponent, "everyone has the freedom to decide whatever they see as good or bad." As such, it cannot involve restriction of any kind. The key word is "freedom" - freedom to act as one chooses without interference or judgment from others. The lack of this freedom indicates the lack of true subjectivity. The only model in which this freedom actually exists is anarchy, which is not a sustainable reality. Therefore, logic also suggests morality most likely exists in an objective state.

I look forward to Pro's reply.
Debate Round No. 3
RobertF

Pro

My apologies for leaving the impression that I blamed you for intentionally misleading the debate. I meant to say that that is what your argument seemed to do. I never meant to imply that you were somehow intentionally sabotaging the debate.

Lets start by reacting on my opponents arguments.

" Once the 10,000,000 tell the 5 "we are going to force you to stop raping because we don't like your behavior" they are appealing to an objective sense of good and bad that should be applied to other people. "

I don't agree with what you are saying here. They are not appealing to an objective sense of good, they are appealing to 'their, being the 10.000.000' meaning of good. Which is not objective but subjective. They are not claiming that their opinion is objective, its just the majority. Also, analogies are meant to demonstrate certain aspects of a phenomenon. Of course rocks and oceans are not living beings. I only meant do demonstrate that simply because two opposites exist, that doesn't mean that they are not allowed to diminish the others existence.

But I think this argument is getting somewhere in the next part of my opponents argument:
" If there ever comes a time (god forbid) where most people suddenly decide torturing babies is fine, would it then be acceptable behavior?". Here we must be careful. The question asks:

would it then be acceptable behavior?

I am arguing: Objectively there is no acceptable of unacceptable behaviour. Again, my argument says that for the majority it is acceptable behaviour. I am not claiming that there is this thing called morality which is a product of man kind. It is not like morality becomes what the majority believes. Again, morality belongs to the person. So for the larger group yes, it is acceptable behaviour and for the rest it is not. If 100% of the population thinks it is acceptable behaviour, is it then in general acceptable? No. it is acceptable for that group. It is still possible that a new person is born that disagrees and again, he has the right to have that opinion. So when my opponent asks me:
Do we really believe that? (pointing at the torturing of babies as being acceptable behaviour)
My answer is: yes to those who have that opinion and no to those who don't.

Again, again and again: I don't claim a central morality. Morality belongs to the person.

Then to the next point:
"Next, Pro asks me to provide examples of morals that are unlikely to evolve through Natural Selection. "
I realised after reading that he did and I removed my counter arguments from my reply. As I said before, I had this thing typed out but deleted a big part. However, when writing my new argument, I forgot that I left my counter arguments out so here it is again. My apologies for this. Here is my explanation for some of the points that my opponent addressed.

How do you explain that helping handicapped is considered morally good from a evolutionary standpoint. Well easy: All parents have this inherited love for their children, this is the love to protect them and make them live. Even though handicapped people might be regarded as 'bad for survival' that doesn't mean that we cannot love them. Simply dismissing people who are loved because they miss an arm or have a chromosome to much is not a society that is trying to maximise its state of well being. Obviously such behaviour would hurt a big majority of the population. Then there is this point about lying. Stating that we regard lying as morally bad is just simply wrong because we all tell our lies. Even if they are small. Not appreciating being lied TO is a different thing from having the opinion that lying is bad in general. People who claim that lying is always bad are just simply not being honest with themselves. So I simply don't agree that lying, manipulating and cheating is considered as morally bad. In some cases it is but not for everybody.
Can I explain why someone would give great amounts of money to a charity even if he doesn't get a physical reward? Yes! Because it makes him feel good and it increases his social status.
Societies where we disregard handicapped people are obviously unstable and chaotic societies. There is a good reason to appreciate handicapped people because to others, they are still people. Differentiating will obviously cause a major instability in functioning societies.
And also, even though we seem to care for the weak, even here there is a limit. There are deceases that are so rare, that medication is too expensive and insurance companies or even governments will not finance them. What does this mean? there is a price tag on human life. I think it is estimated around 40.000$ a year. People will let you die if you are more expensive then that. So apparently, this philanthropic principle has limits too.

In my opponents next point, my opponent again uses an argument that I refuted long ago:
"However, the basic morals themselves are shockingly similar: "
Again, I already explained why this is without having to fall back on moral objectivity. Again: because these morals are a product of survival. The fact that morals are more common doesn't mean that they are somehow objectively good. It just means the majority of the people think they are good. But that again, depends on the person.

Then my opponent says:
I believe morality's nature cannot be 100% proved either way. However, we can determine which case is most likely through observation and logic.

Even though that is true. This still doesn't make morality objective. It just illustrates what is more common. My opponent makes a list of morals that seem common(and I agree that they are), and then finished with a wrong conclusion:

Observations like this indicate that there are standards of behavior that are intrinsically "bad."

You cannot jump from something that is common to that conclusion. It doesn't indicate that these are intrinsically bad, it indicates that these morals are intrinsically bad for survival. But again: there is no reason to believes that trying to survive is what are are ought to do. It is just what you can see.

My opponents continues by referring to his idea of subjective morality which is again not the type of morality that I am talking about. I am not claiming that just because we have personal moral values, this implies that we cannot interfere with the morality of others. I imply that we have personal moral values and we can interfere with others if we want to. I am not arguing for subjectivity. So his whole argument about freedom and subjectivity is out of order. That is not what I am talking about.

Since I have tried so badly explaining what I am trying to say. I will end my argument with the following thought experiment.

Lets make a 'computer model' of blobs. We have both red and blue blobs. The red and blue blobs have different goals. Red blobs attack all the blobs that try to attack red blobs. Blue blobs try to attack and destroy everything. These blobs have personal morals(or goals). The red blobs think hurting is bad and destroy blobs who harm others. Blue blobs think it is good to destroy red blobs or blue blobs and do so. We start our simulation with 10000 red and 10000 blue(it should be the same number). We hit run and see what happens. Obviously, the red blobs are attacked by the blue blobs in a relation 1:1(at the beginning). The blue blobs are attacked by other blue blobs and also red blobs. Their ratio is almost 1:2. If you ask the question: after a while, which color blob is dominant? The obvious answer is red. The blue blobs are grossly outmatched and the red blobs protect each other.

At the start of this experiment, both are equally well supported. Neither of them are right or wrong. But in the end we see that the red blobs stay alive better.

We can further increase the complexity of this experiment by adding a duplication algorithm. After a certain time 't1' the blobs duplicate. Sometimes they create 1 new blob and sometimes 2. A blob can only do this once and after a certain time 't2' they are automatically destroyed. We also add a clause that a blob has a 75% likeliness to create a same colored blob and a 25% likeliness to get a opposite colored blob.

Now lets ask the same question. After a while, which color is dominant? Well isn't it obvious that the red blob is in a gross majority? Does this mean that the red blobs are right and that their way of existing is better? NO! it means the red blob just has better ways to stay alive. But they don't have to.

This comes down to the simple fact that most of what we see is that which is able to stay alive. Why don't we see people with no stomach? because they die. Does this mean that either of them is better? No, it means that one of them is better if you want to be here on this planet. But nothing forces you to still be here.

That which is, is. It is more logical to have objective moral values if we seemed to have moral values that in no way seems logical. But I think I showed in my argument above that there are plenty of reasons to explain certain moral values from a survival point of view.

Btw. If you do not believe my assumed results of these simulations I am possibly willing to write a code that actually does this experiment so we can see what happens.
sengejuri

Con

Thanks for the response, this has been a good debate so far.

There are some puzzling contradictions in the first part of Pro's latest response. First, Pro says that morality is simply a function of popular majority. The 10,000,000 are right because they're the 10,000,000. Or, as Pro put it, the "their being the 10,000,000 meaning of good." But in the very next paragraph, they write: "It is not like morality becomes what the majority believes. Again, morality belongs to the person . . . If 100% of the population thinks it is acceptable behaviour, is it then in general acceptable? No." These are incompatible ideas. In fact, neither approach proves moral subjectivity at all. Let's break each of these ideas down further:

Claim 1: "They are appealing to their being the 10,000,000" - This is a common logical fallacy called a tautology. A tautology occurs when the premise and conclusion are identical. Pro is arguing: The 10,000,000 are right because they appeal to being the majority. In other words, the 10,000,000 are right because they're the 10,000,000. All it means is a lot of people hold a certain opinion. But morality is found in how an opinion is enforced or applied. That is why I argue that the moment the 10,000,000 imprison the 5 rapists, they are appealing to objective morality. Subjective morality cannot extend beyond the individual. This is why subjectivists cannot interfere in the lives of others. The subjectivist says, "these are the morals I believe in, and so I will follow them." As soon he says, "these are the morals I believe in, and I think they should also apply to you," he is no longer operating under subjective morality. He is appealing to a standard of human behavior that somehow, intrinsically, should apply to others.

In any case, Pro contradicts their own argument here when they wrote: "It is not like morality becomes what the majority believes. Again, morality belongs to the person." If morality belongs to each person, then it cannot extend to others.

Claim 2: Torturing babies is still not acceptable in general, even if 100% of the population agrees with it " I'd like to quote Pro here: "If 100% of the population thinks it is acceptable behaviour, is it then in general acceptable? No." This is a confusing statement because it completely supports moral objectivity. How is it still unacceptable when everyone accepts it unless it's intrinsically "bad?" Pro tries to diminish this point by writing: "it is acceptable for that group." But that was not my question. I was not asking if everyone in a certain group accepted baby torturing, I was asking if everyone in the world - 100% of humans - accepted it. To pose the question with a more tangible scenario, would the Holocaust become a morally acceptable event if we all suddenly decided genocide is ok? If there is no true good or bad, then it wouldn't matter. But is that really the reality of our world? These are things the moral subjectivist must consider.

Again, Pro's entire argument has only focused on one side of the coin so far. It seems attractive to say that everyone is entitled to their own moral opinions and call that moral subjectivity. But that's only half of the equation. You must draw that statement out to its logical conclusion and justify the results. For everyone to freely choose their own moral opinions, all opinions must be equally acceptable to choose - this is the very definition of "subjectivity." If all opinions are equal, then no opinion is any better or worse than another (no good or bad). If there is no good or bad, then Hitler's actions are morally equal to Gandhi's. I would ask my opponent to explain how that's possible, because it clearly makes no sense.

Next, Pro shows how evolution could possibly explain the list of unlikely morals I provided. First, it's important to remember that a possible explanation is not proof. It's just that - one possible explanation among many. Next, even if morality did come completely from evolution, that doesn't mean it's subjective. Morality does not need some magical or supernatural source to be objective. If the morals we have today evolved to help us survive, then they can still be objective. They are the behaviors that are universally good to keep people alive (as evidenced by the fact that we are all living today rather than extinct). Morals of this flavor, in a sense, objectively declare "this is the universal way humans should live to have the best chance of survival." Of course, I agree that this depends on the assumption that humans ought to survive to begin with. Pro suggests this is doubtful. I submit that while both possibilities exist, human nature as observed over our entire history overwhelmingly indicates that we should, indeed, exist. There is virtually no evidence to the contrary.

All this aside, I still submit it is unlikely evolution can account for all our morals. I will rebut Pro's individual explanations. Evolution favors survival enhancing traits. Dedicating scarce resources to handicapped people (I am referring to stone age societies, where morality would have started evolving) is bad for survival, and it would not have continued to evolve. No amount of love can overcome not having enough food to feed your tribe through winter. It's not even clear that love is beneficial to survival either. It helps in certain situations, but it can hinder in other situations, causing people to make illogical choices. Pacifism also cannot be explained by evolution, because clearly pacifism offers no survival advantages among warlike tribes.

In addition, Pro makes multiple appeals to objective morality in order to support their own arguments! Pro writes: "People who claim that lying is always bad are just simply not being honest with themselves." Can you see the contradiction? People who claim lying is bad are not being honest (they are lying). So, Pro is suggesting it's bad to lie to yourself, even though lying is not always bad? Pro uses the very moral principle they're trying to refute in their own rebuttal! (This is another tautology fallacy, by the way). Next, Pro says "There is a good reason to appreciate handicapped people because to others, they are still people." This implies an objective principle as well - people have intrinsic worth. We should supposedly appreciate the handicapped simply because they are people. But if morality is subjective, then this argument makes no sense. This is what I was getting at when I said medical ethics can't be explained by evolution. If evolution drives us to survive in the most efficient way possible, why are there ethics in place to prevent doctors from experimenting on other humans or manipulating genetics to help us survive better? Such ethics only restrict us from reaching our full survival potential, which means they cannot be explained through evolution.

My opponent continues to insist that they are not advocating a "type" of subjective morality that "implies that we cannot interfere with the morality of others." There are no "types" of subjective morality. As I've said before, the very definition of subjectivity means you cannot judge or interfere with others' choices. Subjective morality means that what works for you is equally as acceptable as what works for me. Pro cannot escape this. I have already explained the dangerous and unrealistic implications of this - it is the impossible hurdle moral subjectivity can never overcome.

I am not even going to respond to the lengthy "blob" example, because it is almost totally irrelevant. Of course organisms with stronger survival practices will overcome others. It simply means one organism is stronger and another is weaker. I fail to see how this supports an argument about subjective morality.
Debate Round No. 4
RobertF

Pro

Thanks for your response!

I see your argument where you explain the logical fallacy galled tautology. Well, is my explanation a tautology? For the people yes. In my argument I don't claim objective morality so whatever is good to a person, is good to that person. But since I don't claim an objective morality I don't see why that is a problem.

- "As soon he says, "these are the morals I believe in, and I think they should also apply to you," he is no longer operating under subjective morality. "

How many times do I have to repeat that I am not referring to a subjective morality where you can not extend beyond the individual? I think I elaborated clearly in my previous post that in my explanation, you are allowed to. If that is not subjective morality, then so be it. It is not objective either and I have no clue what it is called (if it has a name).

Then he writes: If morality belongs to each person, then it cannot extend to others.
Why?

-"Would the Holocaust become a morally acceptable event if we all suddenly decided genocide is ok?"
To all the people in the world it is, not objectively, but I am quite sure the Jews didn't really like what was happening so your point is invalid about the discrepancy with the Holocaust. And besides, most of the people on this planet didn't really think the Holocaust was morally okay.

- "For everyone to freely choose their own moral opinions, all opinions must be equally acceptable to choose."
Yes, although I didn't argue they were free to choose. The color of your skin isn't free to choose either. Its a matter of evolution.

- "If there is no good or bad, then Hitler's actions are morally equal to Gandhi's."
How could you ask a question concerning an objective good or bad if in my explanation there is no such thing as equally good or bad in an objective sense? A person might think Hitler was morally better then Gandhi. I am sure most of the people on the planet would have the opposite opinion. That still doesn't mean morality is objective.

- "First, it is important to remember that a possible explanation is not proof. "
Granted. You are completely right here.

I think we are moving to a nice conclusion here:
- " I submit that while both possibilities exist, human nature as observed over our entire history overwhelmingly indicates that we should, indeed, exist. There is virtually no evidence to the contrary."
Yes, and as I argue, it is logical to only find morals pointed towards survival because those are obviously the only ones left.

- "I am referring to stone age societies, where morality would have started evolving"
How do you know it started there? In my explanation, morality exists in plants, insects and animals too.

"Pacifism also cannot be explained by evolution, because clearly pacifism offers no survival advantages among warlike tribes."
Pacifism could have started later. Obviously the human species isn't 100% pacifistic at this point in time so it is not like I'd have to explain pacifism to that extent. And in a society where we try to resolve situations by using words rather than war I do not see why pacifism wouldn't be pro survival.

- "Pro is suggesting it's bad to lie to yourself, even though lying is not always bad?"
This argument only becomes logical if you look at morals in a very black and white fashion. Small lies can be good to smooth out social situations. Lying about big financial matters might have catastrophic consequences to yourself and others. Lying to yourself(religion?) can be good for keeping hope in situations where you are sad, but lying to yourself about gambling can cause major money issues(assuming you do not want to lose all of your money). It isn't as easy as just regarding lying as good or bad. Besides the fact that it is personal, depending on the situation lying might have outcomes that a person might find good or bad. People also might not oversee the consequences in longer terms. I am appealing to certain levels of naivety here.

- "Next, Pro says "There is a good reason to appreciate handicapped people because to others, they are still people." This implies an objective principle as well - people have intrinsic worth."
No. I am referring to Anthropomorphism. Just because they are handicapped doesn't mean that people don't look at them as people anymore. Back in the days when the animated series 'Avatar: The last Airbender' was still online, I used to love the show and the characters. When the show stopped I felt horrible. Like I lost a dear friend. Even though these people are fake, my brain still recognizes human like features and therefore cares about these characters. If they die, sometimes people might cry out of sadness. That is just an evolutionary feature of the human brain to personify things. Handicapped people are still people. You don't have to appeal to their worth to conclude that.

I am not talking about a type of subjective morality, you are. I might slip in the word subjective here and there. I am appealing to a non-objective morality, namely the one I described. Read the thing.

"I am not even going to respond to the lengthy "blob" example, because it is almost totally irrelevant. Of course organisms with stronger survival practices will overcome others. It simply means one organism is stronger and another is weaker. I fail to see how this supports an argument about subjective morality."

It is very common to make models of specific things to emulate their properties. Scientists can model human behaviour to simulate crowd control with mathematical formula's. Like that is what we are doing in our heads. Of course not, but that doesn't mean the idea is wrong.
Let me explain how it supports my point of view. What this example illustrates is how dominant moral values can form out of a system that has no objective moral values. You can see an end product with a common 'morality' or 'code of operation'. But as you said before, even though it 'might' explain my point. It is not evidence.

I have to grand you the fact that I have no evidence for my statement. I guess the people have to vote to see if my idea is plausible and might work as an explanation for morality. To prove my theory I'd have to give predictions and go through a scientific process.
Since this is my final remark I have to end with a closing statement.

let me first thank my opponent for this debate. I think he was very fruitful debate and I enjoyed it.

In my personal opinion, to this point, my opponent failed to demonstrate why it is necessary that if morality isn't objective but personal, we are not able to extend our morals onto others. I might have thrown in some confusion in this debate by using the word subjective morality where It shouldn't have been what I meant.

Let me say here that I am NOT talking about subjective morality my opponent explained perfectly. I would agree that that kind of thing doesn't exist. But that was not the point I was defending.

I have no clue what name tag belongs to the explanation of morality that I am offering but I am sure it is not objective or subjective. Frankly, I don't care what it is called.

I attempted to defend that everybody is born with certain moral goals. Morality is a pure product from evolution. There is no objective ought in morality. Objectively, there is no judgment of certain actions from a moral point of view because there is no objective moral value. But due to evolution, most people share the same moral code just like we all have eyes and arms. A morality saying that we shouldn't kill or hurt others and shouldn't steal, etc, etc. On some more vague areas of morality, we do differ just like the color of our eyes and skin. The less it matters for survival, the less dominant specific moral values are. Even though we all seem to share that need for survival, objectively, there is no reason to assume we should survive in the first place.

It is just the morality that is left.

Let me end up by converging to as close as my opponent and I can get to each other, I quote:
"Morals of this flavor, in a sense, objectively declare "this is the universal way humans should live to have the best chance of survival." Of course, I agree that this depends on the assumption that humans ought to survive to begin with. Pro suggests this is doubtful."

I guess at this point we only disagree on two things:
1. My opponent thinks that because we all share the need for survival, this means that we 'should exist'. I think this is nonsense, it just shows that those who try survive, exist.
2. My opponent doesn't believe morality can be explained by evolution. I do, and I tried to demonstrate this by offering explanations to challenges of my opponent. I grant him that this is not prove and that therefore, I didn't prove my point of my explanation to morality.

If I am wrong here, please correct me. This is how I interpreted your arguments. I can be wrong here.

Without having given proof for my point, I don't think I have to get people to consider my idea plausible. In the same way my opponent didn't prove that morality is objective either but then again, the burden of proof wasn't on his side for this debate so you can not blame him for that. He didn't even try, and he didn't have to.

I postulated a new view on the origin of morality and the voters have to decide if I argued better for my view or Con argued better against my view.

If con turns out to win, I'd hereby like to congratulate him for his victory. Since the majority voted for him, he deserved it!
sengejuri

Con

Thanks to my opponent for the debate, it's been a good one.

I will try to keep my conclusion short, at this point all the arguments are already on the table, discussing them further is unnecessary.

I will give some final responses and then summarize my position:

Pro seems to change directions in their final entry by writing: "I have no clue what name tag belongs to the explanation of morality that I am offering but I am sure it is not objective or subjective." Unfortunately, there is no hybrid option here. Morality is either subjective or objective. There is no third type that is non-objective but not quite subjective. I would therefore submit that Pro IS arguing for moral subjectivity, but has desperately tried to present some lesser form of it that does not require them to defend or explain subjectivity's nonsensical and unobserved consequences. It must be one or the other. If not, then I'm unsure what my opponent's argument even is.

Pro also suggests that morality applies in insects, plants, and animals as well. This is a new claim that was not made in any of the previous rounds, and no examples or explanations were provided in support of it.

My opponent agreed that all opinions must be equally acceptable for everyone to freely choose between them. However, they counter by claiming they never argued people were free to choose their own moral opinions. Allow me to quote their statement from round 1: "I would argue that therefore everybody has the freedom to decide whatever they see as good or bad" So which is it? Comparing moral choices to skin color choices is another false equivalence fallacy.

I did not ask if Hitler's and Gandhi's actions were objectively good or bad. I asked if they were morally equal (neither good nor bad). Pro did not give an answer.

Pro admits that their arguments are only a possible explanation and not proof. I will also admit that my arguments, in and of themselves, are only possible explanations as well. The key however, is exactly what Pro wrote: "I'd have to give predictions and go through a scientific process." I will submit that a scientific process of making observations and drawing conclusions is possible, and it points to moral objectivity's likelihood. Let's conduct the experiment:

If morality is objective, I predict we would see the following behavior: The existence of a universal good and bad gives people reason to debate, argue, and fight over which behaviors fall into which categories. There is a strong sense of how people "ought" to act at a basic level, and people are offended when this is violated. Strong beliefs will even cause people to force their beliefs on how all people "should" be on others. All human societies everywhere will sense these universal principles and attempt to form codes and legal systems around them, even though their individual applications will differ greatly. Behaviors that do not give strict evolutionary advantages still exist because they are considered "good" for some intangible reason.

If morality is subjective, I predict we would see the following behavior: There is no such thing as good and bad, so there is no reason to disagree over human behavior. There is no sense that things "ought" to be any certain way. People's actions have no moral weight, they are only individual opinions no better or worse than any other. Debates about the nature of morality do not occur, because there is no nature of morality to even discuss. People operate under a "live and let live" philosophy, unless of course your opinions lead you to murder, in which case that would be ok too because everyone is entitled to their own opinions. Only behaviors that give strict evolutionary advantages exist.

Which behaviors do we observe in the world?

In conclusion, allow me to summarize my arguments:

There is no such thing as morality that is non-objective but not quite subjective. There are only two choices: either "good" and "bad" actually exists, or it does not. My opponent is defending moral subjectivity, and as such must explain the frightening and ultimate consequences of that in order to be convincing. I submit they have failed to do so.

It's inaccurate to say that subjective morality simply means everyone gets to decide good and bad for themselves. That is only a surface level understanding of it. Moral subjectivity means there is no good or bad. The deeper implications of what that actually means have already been presented, and pro has not successfully defended against them.

Morality does not need some magical or divine source to be objective. Even if morality completely evolved, it can still be objective in the sense that all humans "ought" to act a certain way in order to survive better. Individual opinions are not the ultimate authority because certain things are still "better" or "worse" according to the objective standard of survival enhancement.

If certain moral opinions cannot be freely chosen, then morality is not subjective.

A possible explanation is not proof. We do not, in fact, find morals pointed only toward survival (why would a healthy person run into a burning hospital to save a cancer patient? Why do we not kill off people with dysfunctional reproductive systems?). If that were truly the case, the world would look very different.

You cannot extend your morals to other people under a subjective system, because that is contrary to the very definition of subjectivity. If such behavior cannot be defined as "subjective," then it must be defined as something else. (Remember, there are only two possible choices...)

The only opinion a subjectivist cannot hold is, "my opinions should be applied to others." Because, again, this is an "ought" statement that violates subjectivity's definition.

I submit, therefore, that morals most likely exist in an objective state.

Thanks to my opponent, I had fun in this debate and I hope they did too. I would be happy to debate them again any time.
Debate Round No. 5
No comments have been posted on this debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by bladerunner060 2 years ago
bladerunner060
RobertFsengejuriTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Con's main objection seemed to be that if moral subjectivity is accepted, then there are no grounds for Moralists A to assert something to Moralists B. Yet, if moral subjectivity is true, they most certainly CAN, as Pro notes--they can, if there's a system or they are strong enough, assert their own morality on others, and may do so on the grounds of the framework of their subjective morality. With this objection's failure, Pro seems to fulfill his BoP on this motion, by arguing that there's no specific standard to point to. Arguments to Pro. As always, happy to clarify this RFD.