The Instigator
Fiver
Pro (for)
Winning
9 Points
The Contender
Ockham
Con (against)
Losing
8 Points

Morality is subjective.

Do you like this debate?NoYes+0
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 5 votes the winner is...
Fiver
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/24/2017 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 9 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,032 times Debate No: 102188
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (23)
Votes (5)

 

Fiver

Pro

A trim debate (low word limit), for an admittedly too-broad topic.

I will be arguing that morality is fundamentally subjective.

Debate format will be:

1. Acceptance.
2. Basic arguments (no rebuttals)
3. Rebuttals.

Definitions:

Objective: Based in the object, rather than the subject, of the object-subject relationship. Factual regardless of personal feeling or emotion. Verifiable by strict, widely-held standards of verification.

Subjective: Based in the subject, rather than the object. Reliant on personal feeling. Without widely-held standards of verification.
Ockham

Con

I accept. I will be arguing that morality is objective.
Debate Round No. 1
Fiver

Pro

Thank you for accepting the debate!
Here are my arguments:

1. Comparison to Other Subjective Ideas:
Morality, in comparison, is very much like other subjective concepts (like love, beauty, meaning, etc), and very unlike objective concepts (like math, physical traits, etc).

2. Lack of Verification
Any system of objective truth has a widely-held method of verification or falsification. But morality does not have such a method.

3. Felt, Not Calculated
Moral values are commonly intuited, and not calculated (as they would be if they were objective).

A vital note: we may WANT our moral values to be objective (since that would make them authoritative and beyond dispute). But being 'important' or 'sure' is not the same as being 'objective'.
Ockham

Con

I contend that morality is objective.

1. Morality is based on life. All living things face the alternative of staying alive or passing out of existence. This alternative forces each living thing to follow a specific course of action, which is determined by its nature. The nature of man is such that he must use reason to define principles to live by, which are the principles of morality.

2. Any argument for moral subjectivism must assume that we have an objective obligation to be rational - otherwise, there would be no reason to care about arguments. But if we are objectively obligated to be rational, then there are objective moral values. I can easily account for this obligation, since on my view we must be rational to live (see 1 above).
Debate Round No. 2
Fiver

Pro

Thank you for the opening arguments!

My brief rebuttals:

1. My opponent argues that "morality is based on life" and that all living things must follow a specific course of action. However, this is contradicted by the many moral systems that advocate self-sacrifice. A good example would be pacifists who refuse to use arms to defend themselves or their families.

2. My opponent says "Any argument for moral subjectivism must assume that we have an objective obligation to be rational", but I would contend that this is not true: we have no objective obligation to be rational. Rationality is very useful, but we are not morally obligated to follow it. An irrational person is not necessarily an immoral person.


Ockham

Con

Rebuttals to my opponent's Round 2:

1. Asserting that concepts like love, beauty, meaning, etc., are subjective begs the question. If value is objective, then these concepts may have a basis in fact.

2. I have provided an argument as verification.

3. I have not appealed to intuition.

Rebuttals to my opponent's rebuttals:

1. My opponent has not addressed my argument, he has just asserted that there are other people who disagree with me. This is not a substantive response.

2. My opponent's claim that we have no objective obligation to be rational contradicts the fact that he is advancing arguments for his position. On his view, anyone can reject all of his arguments out of hand, since reason is a subjective preference.
Debate Round No. 3
23 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by 3RU7AL 8 months ago
3RU7AL
Here you go, http://www.debate.org...
Posted by Ockham 8 months ago
Ockham
Right, the form in which the object is perceived or grasped is dependent on the subject. I don't see this as antithetical to objectivity, because there is no other way objectivity could work. Any subject will have means of perception that work a specific way, so the only way for it to perceive the world is in a form appropriate for its faculties.

We can debate whether this is a coherent account of objectivity as well, if you want.
Posted by 3RU7AL 8 months ago
3RU7AL
Ok, I'm not certain I fully understand what you're saying here.

It seems like "grasp" and "appropriate" are relative to the "subject".

Would you say it might be fair to consider the term "objective" to be fully incompatible with (or antithetical to) the terms "relative" and "subjective"?
Posted by Ockham 8 months ago
Ockham
I'm actually glad you asked about my definition of "objective," since that is fairly unconventional.
Posted by Ockham 8 months ago
Ockham
Something is objective if it constitutes a grasp of an object in a form appropriate to the subject. For example, a physicist's knowledge of physics would be objective by this definition (or so I would argue), since it constitutes a grasp of the traits of the physical world in a form appropriate to the subject, in this case the human capacity to form concepts and propositions.
Posted by 3RU7AL 8 months ago
3RU7AL
And to be completely fair, would you like to propose a definition of "objective" as it might relate to the concept of "science"?

I feel pretty good about, "Science is systematic knowledge acquired by the application of logic to observation."
Posted by Ockham 8 months ago
Ockham
Sure, I don't think there would be a problem if you used standard dictionary definitions for the terms. I may have to qualify or even reject particular definitions if it turns out that they aren't consistent with my position, but I don't think that's likely to happen because my definitions of those terms are pretty standard.
Posted by 3RU7AL 8 months ago
3RU7AL
That looks good to me.

Would you say it is fair to use standard google.com (Oxford) definitions of the terms contained within your proposed definition (excluding the word "science"of course)?
Posted by Ockham 8 months ago
Ockham
Science is systematic knowledge acquired by the application of logic to observation. There is also a narrower sense of the term which requires experimentation.
Posted by 3RU7AL 8 months ago
3RU7AL
Ok, Ockham, would you be willing to provide your preferred definition of either "science" or "the scientific method" that we can agree will be considered authoritative for the purposes of our debate?

I am thinking about a resolution like "Scientific observations are not objective."

I would hate to spend the entire debate quibbling about the definition of "science" or "the scientific method".
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by LaL36 8 months ago
LaL36
FiverOckhamTied
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:30 
Reasons for voting decision: I don't think that either side really fleshed out their case that well and this could be because of the limited character space. However, there was one point of Pro's that Con did not sufficiently address and that was the lack of verification. Con responded by saying there is an objective obligation to be rational but Pro refutes that. Even though Pro is being rational it doesn't mean it is immoral to not be. Additionally, Con had more of the burden of proof. If he is arguing that morality is objective he needs to say what that objective morality is and how to test that and he has not done that.
Vote Placed by Coveny 8 months ago
Coveny
FiverOckhamTied
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 
Reasons for voting decision: I don?t feel like Pro was more convincing as much as Con Supported Pro?s stance by his own words. Con says in R2 ?The nature of man is such that he must use reason to define principles to live by, which are the principles of morality.? Then in R3 Con says ?On his view, anyone can reject all of his arguments out of hand, since reason is a subjective preference.? By Con?s logic if reason is subjective and it defines principles which are the principles of morality then morals are subjective.
Vote Placed by princearchitect 8 months ago
princearchitect
FiverOckhamTied
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: This was a tricky debate to me of such a broad and complex manner, my initial reaction was that both sides failed to convince me based on the arguments presented, so I ultimately had to fill in the blanks on who I think presented the better arguments with Pro being the instigator I must conclude that more of the burden of proof would fall on him and I think Con did a slightly better job than Pro proving that Morality is subjective. So the decisive factor for me is that I do concur that subjective morality do exist because what might be morally right for one person could be morally wrong to someone else and because of such moralistic divisions in the world (because who is anyone to say what is morally right or wrong for someone else)? That objective moral values do exist outside of human subjective moral values to measure our morals objectively that is not influenced by the things human beings are influenced by. So with that being said I give the slight edge to Con in this debate.
Vote Placed by Sidewalker 8 months ago
Sidewalker
FiverOckhamTied
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:05 
Reasons for voting decision: This debate was set up such that it was almost impossible to do justice to such a complex subject, the brevity made it unlikely that anything meaningful could be accomplished. I was looking to debate the subject myself but passed on this one because of the constraints. That said, I think both did a somewhat commendable job of synopsizing their respective positions, with the edge going to Con especially because of the weakness of Pro's argument and rebuttal and then the relative strength of Con's counter. Neither had sources but Pro's rebuttal alluded as if it was a source and it was weak in the way Con pointed out. Given the forced brevity, we pretty much had to fill in the details of the arguments ourselves and I can't be sure my vote doesn't reflect the fact that I agreed with Con before and after the debate, I may be projecting my arguments onto Con's to make his seem stronger, but hey, Pro set it up this way and the votes are bound to reflect predispositions on the subject
Vote Placed by 3RU7AL 9 months ago
3RU7AL
FiverOckhamTied
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 
Reasons for voting decision: PRO's best argument is in round 2, point 2. CON attempts to refute this point with a non-sequitur. PRO rebuts CON's non-sequitur in round 3, CON then tries to argue that all rational discussion is moot if rationality is not considered an "objective" moral obligation. PRO supports the resolution with round 2 point 2 therefore "more convincing" point goes to PRO. CON fails to negate resolution by erroneously asserting that an " objective obligation to be rational" is a necessary prerequisite to this discussion "otherwise, there would be no reason to care about arguments." which is a combination of the fallacies, "affirming the consequent" and "false dichotomy".