The Instigator
DakotaKrafick
Con (against)
Winning
22 Points
The Contender
IcookTacos
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points

Morality is subjective.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
DakotaKrafick
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/21/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,002 times Debate No: 21357
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (8)
Votes (4)

 

DakotaKrafick

Con

The Proposition

The full proposition is as follows: "Morality is subjective."

As con, I will be arguing that morality is objective. As pro, my opponent will be arguing that morality is subjective. That means the burden of proof will be on both of us.

Definitions

Objective: independent of personal opinion. If something is objectively morally good, then it is morally good no matter how many people think otherwise.
Subjective: dependent on personal opinion. If something is subjectively morally good, then it is only morally good by certain individuals' standards.
Morality: the principles concerning the distinction between good and bad (right and wrong) behavior.

Debate Structure

Round 1: Introduction and Acceptance
Round 2: Opening Arguments only
Round 3: Refutations
Round 4: Refutations
Round 5: Refutations/Closing statements

In Conclusion

I'm sure almost all of the viewers (if not all of them) have already formed an opinion on this matter. Whether you believe in subjective or objective morality, however, please keep an open mind and judge fairly based on who presents the strongest arguments for his/her case.

I look forward to a fruitful debate.
IcookTacos

Pro

I looked trough your profile and must say that I'm up against a hard challenge.

To start things of let's just find a definition of the word "morality" that we both can settle on. Straight from wikipedia it says that morality "is the differentiation between intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are good (or right) and those that are bad (or wrong).". I'm fine with that definition but feel free to come with another one if you desire.

Opening argument:

Now there are two words in the definition above that are very interesting to look at, it's "intentions" and "actions". Because the intention of an action don't always reflect the action itself. We can show this by an example; Let's say that I have no money at all so I steal bread from a baker to feed my starving family that haven't eaten in days. A classic example where the action of stealing by majority would be considered as bad, but the intention of feeding a starving family is correct. If we ignore the bakers perspective and just take a look at the action in general I would say that It's up to each person to decide if the intention outweighs the action and therefore I would say that: Morality is subjective.
Debate Round No. 1
DakotaKrafick

Con

Introduction

Thank you, IcookTacos, for debating this interesting topic with me. While I do appreciate your initiative, I did say that first round will be for acceptance only. However, I'll let this one slide (as I'm used to people ignoring this rule anyway).

To begin, I would first like to say that while my arguments henceforth may appear at times to be appeals to emotion, I urge you to look at them for what they truly are: appeals to logic.

Objective Morality Explained

My opponent provided his own definition of "morality" for us, but if you read over my first round again, you'll see I've already done that: "the principles concerning the distinction between good and bad (right and wrong) behavior". While our two definitions are not very dissimilar, we will be using the original one I provided in the introduction for consistency.

The two most conversional words in this definition are, of course, "good" and "bad". How can we justifiably say which actions constitute "good" behavior and which actions constitute "bad" behavior, without appearing to be merely projecting our own bias onto the problem?

Before we can even answer that, we must first ask ourselves something even more fundamental. It is understood that morality is that which governs what we consider to be good and bad actions, but good and bad for what or for whom? The answer is, of course, for us. For our own well-beings, for the well-beings of our fellow people, and for the well-beings of other conscious creatures (living things which, like us, can feel happiness and pain and other sensations of the sort).

Therefore, "good" actions are those which promote an overall "good" well-being of conscious creatures, and "bad" actions are those which promote an overall "bad" well-being of conscious creatures.

It is not, for example, morally apprehensible to pound your fists repeatedly into the softest part of a pillow. The same cannot be said, however, for performing the same action against the softest part of a child's face. Why is this? Because the child has nerve-endings to detect the sharp pains of a bombardment of fists and sentience to induce displeasurable feelings of fear, so it is clear that by beating his/her face in, you've made the existence of at least one conscious human being less satisfactory than it otherwise would have been, at least temporarily. A pillow, on the other hand, does not have the capacity to feel discomfort over its state of enduring pummeling, so it can be inferred that beating it with your fists is amoral (neither morally good nor bad, as it is irrelevant to the principles of morality).

The Value of Well-Being

The question has now changed from "How can we determine, objectively, which actions are good and bad" to "How can we determine, objectively, which states of well-being are good and bad".

It's clear to discern that well-being is somehow connected to both physical and mental health. Of course, perfect physical and mental health can be difficult to define, and we may not know everything there is to know as of yet; but that doesn't change the fact that some states of physical and mental health are objectively better or worse than others.

For instance, IcookTacos, can you agree that bleeding profusely from every orifice of your body is objectively worse to your overall well-being than, say, not bleeding profusely from every orifice of your body? Perhaps you can't, or else you wouldn't be proclaiming morality is subjective. Perhaps the problem here is that the value one places on well-being is subjective and, therefore, the actions which effect well-being are judged subjectively.

However, this is quite parallel to saying "the value one places on logic is subjective and, therefore, logical arguments are judged subjectively". While there is no celestial rule book of logical truths and the application of the principles of logic depends on thinking minds to understand them, logic is still an objective doctrine. And logic would remain objective no matter how many people misunderstood it (or, indeed, even if every living creature in the universe misunderstood it). The same can be said for morality. No matter how many people misunderstand the value of well-being or the course of actions we must take in order to achieve maximally good well-beings, the principles of morality remain objective.

I must concede that, of course, some people do not value their own well-beings. This is exemplified most commonly in suicidal acts, where one takes his/her own life at the benefit of no one. But most, if not all, of suicide attempts are a result of some form of depression, an imbalance of chemicals in the victim's brain. This is akin to the victim being, in a way, "broken" as an automobile is with a blown engine. We cannot tailor the definition of "good performance" to suit the behavior of a car with three flat tires any more than we can tailor the definition of "good well-being" to suit the behaviors or values of a person with self-harming tendencies.

Logically Deducing Objective Morality

Once you agree that some states of well-being are objectively better or worse than others, despite any "broken" or incorrect discrepancies, you can agree that some actions are objectively better or worse for well-being, and therefore the principles which concern themselves with these actions (morality) is objective. Here is my four-point logical argument to summarize everything I've said thus far:

1. Some states of well-being are objectively better or worse than others.
2. Our behaviors and actions can effect the well-beings of ourselves and of other conscious creatures, for better or for worse.
3. Morals are the principles concerned with these behaviors and actions which effect well-being.
4. Therefore, some actions can be named objectively morally good or bad, depending on how they effect well-being.

To Conclude

I have thoroughly explained why morality is objective and now it's over to you, IcookTacos. I will be fairly lenient in this, but please remember to use your next round for opening arguments only, not refutations. I look forward to your response.
IcookTacos

Pro

IcookTacos forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
DakotaKrafick

Con

Unfortunately, my opponent has forfeited this round. I could merely say "extend arguments" or some such mantra, but I'm really in the mood to refute arguments. Seeing as though my opponent didn't provide any, I will instead refute common objections to objective morality.

1. People disagree what is morally good and bad.

One curiously common defense of subjective morality is simply that people disagree what is morally good and bad. Indeed, it would seem to be a valid argument at first glance. After all, people disagree which foods are tasty and disgusting and that is a subjective matter.

No two people can ever seem to uniformly agree on a perfect list of good and bad actions. It would, therefore, seem fit to say that morality must then necessarily be subjective (dependent on individual preference).

But this argument falls short under even minor scrutiny. The mere fact that people disagree over certain truths does not automatically make those truths subjective. Certainly, people argue over the truth of evolution, the big bang, and other scientific theories. What makes certain statements objective is whether or not they are true regardless of individual opinion. "Pizza is delicious" is a statement which is true for some and untrue for others; therefore, that statement is subjective.

However, "The force of gravity is effected by both mass and distance" is a statement that holds true regardless of how many people disagree; therefore, that statement is objective. Similarly, "Teaching our children to read is beneficial to our species' overall well-being" is true no matter how many people believe our children should be illiterate.

2. Context is important.

Another objection to objective morality is that context is a crucial thing to consider when deciding if an act is morally good or bad. For instance killing a human for fun is morally wrong, but killing a human out of self-defense is morally acceptable. Therefore, it seems fit to say that "Killing a human is right/wrong" is subjective.

Indeed, I must agree that context is very important. But this confuses "relative" with "subjective", which are not mutually exclusive. "Absolute" and "relative" are totally separate categories than "objective" and "subjective". To say that moral truths are "absolute" is to say that context is unimportant and killing a human, no matter the circumstances, is either morally good or bad. To say that moral truths are "relative" is to say that context is important, which I do believe it is.

Therefore, morality is relative and objective.

3. Evolution only favored certain morals over others by chance.

Some claim that if we rewind history and allow our species to develop into modern man again, our unwritten list of morally good acts and morally bad acts could look much different. This is, by all scientific reasoning, most likely true. But again, this confuses "relative" and "subjective". If our species had been much different today, then while certain acts may effect our overall well-beings differently, they would still effect them in such a way regardless of individual opinion.

Therefore, morality remains both relative and objective.
IcookTacos

Pro

IcookTacos forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
DakotaKrafick

Con

My opponent seems to make a very convincing argument, but forgets one important detail: forfeited rounds to not necessitate subjective morality. It is conceivable that morality could be both objective and unaffected by my opponent's forfeits. Therefore, I remain in firm opposition to the proposition.
IcookTacos

Pro

IcookTacos forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
DakotaKrafick

Con

Like a boss.
IcookTacos

Pro

IcookTacos forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by MikeyMike 5 years ago
MikeyMike
lol let's see if Dakota is gonna take the approach I think he will.
Posted by MikeyMike 5 years ago
MikeyMike
-___- I wanted to accept the challenge.....

Oh well good luck to both
Posted by Doulos1202 5 years ago
Doulos1202
Seeing how Con is an atheist I am curious to see how he intends to argue an objective morality.
Posted by buckIPDA 5 years ago
buckIPDA
Looks like I'm just a bit o late :/
Posted by DakotaKrafick 5 years ago
DakotaKrafick
Not at all, buckIPDA. I will gladly debate this with you if you wish.
Posted by buckIPDA 5 years ago
buckIPDA
This looks like a pretty fun topic. I'm actually inclined to want to accept this.
Would you mind having two debates with the same person at the same time?
Posted by DakotaKrafick 5 years ago
DakotaKrafick
Yes, I know five rounds is a lot to endure. I usually do three or four, but I felt this was a deep topic that needed a lot of time for refutations.
Posted by MikeyMike 5 years ago
MikeyMike
lol I do believe I see where you're going with this.

I'll sleep on it and decide whether or not to challenge you, 5 rounds is a lot of time spent typing.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by Maikuru 4 years ago
Maikuru
DakotaKrafickIcookTacosTied
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Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: Full forfeit by Pro.
Vote Placed by TUF 4 years ago
TUF
DakotaKrafickIcookTacosTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Forfeits.
Vote Placed by 1dustpelt 4 years ago
1dustpelt
DakotaKrafickIcookTacosTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro forfeited, leaving arguments unanswered.
Vote Placed by Xerge 4 years ago
Xerge
DakotaKrafickIcookTacosTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro forfeited three rounds and Con's arguments were more indepth and compelling.