The Instigator
Cody_Franklin
Pro (for)
Losing
16 Points
The Contender
Danielle
Con (against)
Winning
21 Points

Morality should not be a deciding factor in American politics.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 7 votes the winner is...
Danielle
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/6/2009 Category: Society
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,257 times Debate No: 8878
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (24)
Votes (7)

 

Cody_Franklin

Pro

Round 1 will be for opening statements only.

Morality - conformity to the rules of right conduct.

Should - implying a binding obligation.

Clarifications:

Question of the resolution: Should morality play a deciding role in influencing political considerations and decisions?

Pro's burden: To prove that there is an obligation to leave morality out of political decisions and decision-making.

Con's burden: To prove that morality is a necessary part of the American political system, and that we have an obligation to keep the two together.

With the clarifications edited, I hope that someone will be more willing to take this debate; to whomever decides to take the CON on this one; round 1 is for opening statements ONLY; do not yet begin building a case.

Good luck.
Danielle

Con

Thank you, Pro, for starting up this interesting debate. I look forward to seeing the contentions you put forward in order to fulfill your established burden.

While I recognize that morality can be highly subjective and influenced by an ever transient culture, I also acknowledge that it is the basis for our entire legal system (American politics = loose democracy), and that without an established opinion on what is right and wrong there can be no functional justice system.

Keeping in mind that morality and "rights" are not synonymous, and that some argue that "rights" are derivative of moral values, I look forward to a fun and interesting debate during which I will prove that morality, in essence, is a necessary part of the American political system, and that we have an obligation to use moral principles (to an extent) in guiding our politics.
Debate Round No. 1
Cody_Franklin

Pro

Now that our opening statements are out of the way, I'm glad to know that I have such a well-versed opponent in this debate (someone I can count on to not forfeit). So, again, good luck to you.

Contention I: Morality is inconsistent and unnecessary.

As my opponent admitted, "morality can be highly subjective and influenced by an ever transient culture". This would mean that our entire legal system is essentially based off of what we believe to be moral, whether or not it is 'objectively' moral. As we know, Southern Christians, before the Civil War, would use a line from the Bible to morally justify slavery. Today, however, Christians use the Bible to prove that slavery is immoral in all cases whatsoever; the same with gays: in Biblical times, it was entirely acceptable to stone homosexuals to death (the Bible even lists an account of this happening, I believe). Today, however, homosexuals are campaigning ever more vigorously for rights and equality.

This brings me to the main point of my contention: Though my opponent may try to convince you that morality is the foundation of United States law, don't believe her; we don't do things because morality tells us not to; our laws are based not so much off of morality as out of pure selfishness; theoretically, perhaps, laws are based loosely on moral principles, but in actual practice, they are entirely set up for personal benefit; we don't have a law against murder because "it's the right thing to do"; we have that law because no one wants to get murdered; same with stealing; we don't discourage stealing for being 'wrong'; we simply don't want someone to steal from us; we say that it deprives someone of their right to property, and as my opponent so wisely preempted me on, morality and rights are not synonymous at all.

What I'm saying is that we do only what we want; the reason the original colonists came to America was for freedom; not because leaving was morally right, but because they claimed they had a right to religious freedom; whether or not they had such a right is irrelevant; rather, it proves that people often create rights out of thin air, and then have laws created around those rights. For another example: a commonly accepted belief is that every human life has immeasurable value; however, the only reason this is accepted is because we WANT our lives to have value; we want all lives to be valuable so that our own life is protected in the process; and honestly, the majority protects itself in this way not out of a sense of moral righteousness, but out of fear of harm; and of course, that's the reason society came together to begin with under Social Contract reasoning; rights weren't being protected, and thus we came together so that they might be.

So really, the United States should not be basing itself off of fickle, ever-changing moral standards; we have to look at what is pragmatically sound, and (being a "loose democracy"), what the people want.

Contention II: Integration of morality causes political mistakes.

Using morality as the basis for foreign policy has gotten us into a lot of trouble in the past; the most recent example is the incident on Sept. 11th. The Islamic world absolutely despises western morality and values, and it even brought them to the point of attacking us; it's the U.S.'s moral standards that have launched us into some hopeless conflicts (in this case, the War on Terror). That's one of the big claims that America makes when justifying a war; they say that we have the moral "high ground". Our morality, coupled with our military and political standing, made us extremely arrogant; we were definitely under the 'might makes right' mentality, which led us to enforce our system of government and moral code in countries all around the world; one way that this has manifested is in the attempted democratization of Iraq; we're trying to instill western morals into an Islamic nation; the culture shock is intense, and the screams of animosity from the Middle East are deafening.

In the 1940s, it was not our system of morality that made us a fortune selling war goods to the Allies; it was pragmatic reasoning; it was not morality which entered us into WWII and helped us to liberate the Jews; they would have suffered longer had Japan not launched its attack on Pearl Harbor. It seems that, not only is our sense of morality inconsistent, but our use of it as well; when we attempt to claim some moral ground, it leads to endless conflict and strife with the global community; however, when we have taken a more pragmatic approach, it has brought us little but success, profit, and joy. Our pragmatic reasoning brought us our once-great international image; our misguided moral reasoning brought it down.

Contention III: Morality as a decision-making tool is anti-democratic.

As theLwerd and I have both discussed already, morality can be, and certainly is, subjective; every citizen, despite the prevailing ethical mindset, has his/her own personal moral code. Everyone has a right to express that moral code in whatever way they see fit; if we all had one acceptable moral code, there would not be 2 major (and several minor) political parties.

Politicians in the White House, Senate, House of Representatives, and even the Supreme Court should not be allowing bipartisanship and party morality to determine policy; this is where pragmatism comes into play; if all politicians would be in a more real-world, practical mindset, decision-making would be more likely to benefit those on both sides of the party lines.

As John Locke pointed out, true majority rule requires that minority rights also be upheld; for the ruling party to enforce its own moral code on everyone, this individual freedom of expression that we have crafted for ourselves is being squelched; in allowing this to happen, we are essentially denying ourselves freedom, and allowing the government to determine morality for us; at the point that the government is telling us what's right and wrong, I hardly consider the United States to be a democracy.

And honestly, the government cannot feasibly institute a whole system of morality to base our laws on; we don't have a law against lying (at least outside of court); we don't have a law against cheating on a spouse or significant other (though we might discourage it). The only governments truly having a system of morality governing their entire body of laws are theocracies; and, with separation of church and state, coupled with freedom of religion, we certainly are no theocracy.

So, in conclusion of my opening arguments, I would like to say only one more thing: as the Pro, I do not discourage any particular moral code. I do not encourage that we lie, or steal, or murder; I am simply saying that we shouldn't make important political decisions on an inconsistent, ever-changing standard of right and wrong; we have to look at things from a practical, real-world standpoint; we have to look to what benefits our country and its people most; we should have a law against killing because we don't want to die, not because "it's the right thing to do"; we should have a law against stealing because we don't want to be stolen from, not because "it's the right thing to do". Morality is great for individual use, but not in politics; so please, Mr. Obama, don't try this at home.

I'll stand by for now, and we'll see what my opponent has to say. :)
Danielle

Con

Thank you, Pro, for the excellent first round.

Re: Morality is Inconsistent and Unnecessary

Pro notes that before the war, Christians used the Bible to justify the practice of slavery, and after the war used quotes from the Bible to condemn slavery. He argues that this proves an inconsistency in morality. However, here Pro has only indicated a shift in what was CONSIDERED moral; he did not prove that something was once moral and was no longer moral. Instead, he merely pointed out an instance in which people's attitudes changed as previous ideals were being revisited. A new interpretation of the Bible was brought to people's consciousness thereby changing their values. In a "democracy" like the U.S., shouldn't their views of right and wrong, i.e. morality, be what is upheld, even if those views change and progress? Pro agrees, noting that our laws should be based off "what the people want."

If morality is not to be considered in law making, and instead only the "wants" of the people should be taken into consideration, Pro must defend the notion that a majority opinion is always sufficient in determining law making. For instance, if 90% of the population thinks it's "pragmatically sound" to spread around the wealth of the country's top 10% richest people, according to Pro's argument this would not only be acceptable but indeed the 'right' thing to do simply because "the people" want it.

Consider Pro's argument that our laws are not based off of moral principles, but instead off of selfish values. For instance, murder and stealing are considered wrong not because they are inherently bad, but because we value our property and our lives. This is a huge loophole in Pro's argument. I can say that I value my property and my life: So what? Should that alone prohibit someone from legally taking my things or my life? Laws against such theft exist because we think it is IMMORAL to infringe upon someone's right to their belongings.

Rights and morality are not entirely synonymous, but you cannot separate the two. Laws exist because we think it is moral to protect those rights. Additionally, sometimes morality justifies those rights and what makes certain things "rights" at all. For instance, Pro-Lifers feel that abortion is wrong because fetuses have the RIGHT to life. In this instance, the line between morality and rights becomes blurred. Countless other examples exist where people felt that they had "rights" which were being withheld, i.e. Suffrage. The problem is that society usually does not posses a unanimous opinion on what rights people have and don't have, thus morality comes into play in determining what are actually "rights."

Pro himself concludes his premise by noting that people seemingly create rights out of thin air. I agree. I then pose the question to Pro: How would you go about determining what rights are legit and which ones are not? Clearly the only answer is to use existing knowledge to dissect an idea and regard the morality (right and wrong) of the claim. Without morality, rights don't exist at all.

Re: Integration of Morality Causes Political Mistakes

My opponent brings up the issue of the War on Terror, claiming that the U.S. has enacted such a pointless war based on the idea that we have the moral high ground. This is a weak argument on Pro's behalf. Most people know that we did not go to war because of any moral conflict; I think we can all agree that there are distinct political, strategical and economic aims that the U.S. is trying to achieve by going to war in Islamic countries, and any remotely intellectual person understands that concept whether or not they agree with the goals. Law makers here don't give a hoot about the going-ons in other countries insofar as their actions don't negatively harm the U.S. Proof is historic examples of Isolationism (i.e. WWI and the early stages of WWII). Thus, this argument is generally irrelevant by my opponent's own standards.

Regarding morality and political mistakes in general, Pro failed to note two important things: One, political mistakes occur regardless of obvious moral inclinations, and two, the notion that eliminating morality would also lead to political mistakes being made.

If right and wrong were eliminated from our justice system, what would be the basis on determining what principles govern our society? Pragmatism does not ensure achieving the most just results. The concept of pragmatism implies that there is no right or wrong; you should just do what works. However, often what works for one does not work for another, and Pro has not explained whose benefits in society should be taken into consideration. For instance, some may feel that implementing a flat tax would have better consequences for society while others disagree. Everyone has different wants and needs: Stealing might be pragmatic for an impoverished person, but it sure as hell isn't beneficial to the person being stolen from. Laws are supposed to protect rights as universally as possible. Moreover, pragmatism is a moral system in itself, so Pro has negated his own argument.

Another thing to consider is that pragmatism leaves a lot of questions regarding politics unanswered. If pragmatism is defined as "considering practical consequences to be vital components of meaning and truth," is Pro suggesting that we apply pragmatism to the Self or to the State? One must use MORALITY in determining which route is the most righteous.

Re: Morality as a decision-making tool is anti-democratic

I find it quite comical that my opponent references Locke's insight on the tyranny of the majority, as his very own POV indicates that it is the majority's opinion that should govern our nation. His argument is hypocritical. He states that we should have a law against killing not because killing is wrong, but because we don't want to die. In that case, what if some people DO want to die or simply want to kill others? If they don't find killing to be immoral, should they have the right to kill others simply because they themselves don't believe that it's wrong?

In one breath Pro is saying that subjective morality is the reason why morality should be eliminated from politics; a governing body can not incorporate all of those values into one system. He then says that what the people want (i.e. a majority) should be what determines law. In the next breath he condemns tyranny of the majority in noting Locke's observation that minority rights should also be upheld. Hmm. So if a majority of the people support gay marriage, then gay marriage should exist... but since a minority doesn't, and minority rights must be upheld for a successful democracy, then gay marriage SHOULDN'T exist? I don't get it.

Pro also never explains why a tyranny of the majority is wrong. The obvious answer is that it's immoral. In fact, it is a logical fallacy to assume that a majority is right just because their belief is held by the majority. Therefore, Locke himself agrees that morality should be taken into political consideration and not ignored just because most people feel a certain way. He is implying that there is more than one view of what is right or moral.

The very reason that laws exist is to uphold morality. Without a basis of an accepted right and wrong, there is no reason to make laws in the first place. Laws are flawed just as the human beings that enact them are flawed, and no one is suggesting that we should blindly accept what is considered moral based on pre-existing laws. Just because our views or values may be inconsistent over time does not mean that morality in general does not exist or is not important; simply that our ideas have changed (often progressed).

Conclusion:

1. Morality determines "rights."
2. It would be immoral for rights not to be upheld.
3. The U.S. has established laws/government to protect those rights.
.: Morality should be a deciding factor in US politics.
Debate Round No. 2
Cody_Franklin

Pro

Thank you as well, CON; you've been wonderful so far.

Contention I

Con claims that I am only proving a shift what we considered to be moral; if you believe this to be true, I'd also like to point you back to a statement that she overlooks in contention I: "This would mean that our entire legal system is essentially based off of what we believe to be moral, whether or not it is 'objectively' moral." My point here is that, we change our views from time to time, making moral consistency in the United States quite impossible. And, truly, if my opponent wants to look to objective morality, there's no actual standard for determining what is objectively moral; we have to go with our perceptions, which is essentially moral relativism; thus, our system of morality is entirely inconsistent, and, as my opponent admitted (and she drops this admission), "morality can be highly subjective and influenced by an ever transient culture."

Also, when I say looking to what the people want, I think I need to make a clarification: We don't go door to door and ask voters if they think a policy is morally right or morally wrong; we have elections to best determine what the people want.

And, remember that the "wants" of the people aren't the only things to consider; of course, we also have to remember the pragmatics. She's trying to put me to this bizarre absolute that the majority should make laws 100% of the time, and will always be effective; I don't recall having to prove any such thing. She gives this off-the-wall example of 90% of people trying to take money from 10% of people; this might be what the majority wants, but first of all, the majority itself doesn't determine policy; second of all, again, for majority rule to be justified, we have to ensure that minority rights are protected; in this case, the 10%'s right to property can't be infringed on by a majority of people; I'll cover the majority rule vs minority rights more a bit further down.

On the selfishness aspect of the contention, she says that one's desire to maintain life and property aren't enough to legally warrant protection; however, she ignores the fact that essentially EVERYBODY (give or take a few suicidal people and possession-free monks) values their life and property; because everyone values these things, including government officials, it's in everyone's self interest for these laws to be enacted; we may offer a moral justification, but, fundamentally, these laws are set up only for self-interest: another example is the law against speeding; we don't have this law because it's immoral to speed; rather, it's for safety reasons, as we want to prevent wrecks, thereby preventing loss or injury of human life, which means that we ourselves are protected in the process.

To answer her question, it all goes back to self-interest; give or take a bit of random altruism, rights are given perhaps because we benefit from those rights; often, the notion of equality is brought up; but, keep in mind this is still in self-interest, because, obviously, if we were in that position, we would want equality for ourselves; and, in the case of gay rights, for example, some people are supporters out of pure apathy, since it doesn't affect them at all; so, rights are usually regarded as legitimate if they benefit self-interest. Thus, regardless of morality, rights will exist and will be protected.

Contention II

I'll concede that entire point, but even then, it works for Pro: of course we had political, strategic, and economic aims; that's really my point here; I'm not justifying these goals, but we tried to hide them under the guise of morality; while we were going in for political, strategic, and economic reasons, we tried to justify it as a moral response to terrorism; but, if we had not attempted a moral justification of our many military conflicts, that is to say, if 'morality' wasn't part of our political strategy, the world could have easily seen our true intentions from the beginning; in a nutshell, morality is often used in politics as a cover for ulterior motives; and, even if 'moral' goals are achieved, it's often unintended.

She also drops the WWII example; how it was pragmatism, not morality, that had us selling goods to the allies; morality didn't have us enter the war to save the Jews from the Holocaust; the attack on Pearl Harbor brought us in; my opponent even brings up the idea of Isolationism, which was a policy we enacted because we thought it was in our own (you guessed it) self-interest.

As far as morality and political mistakes: okay, I'll agree that political mistakes happen with or without morality, but the second bit of reasoning is actually the reverse of how it ought to be; 'morality' happens to cause a myriad of political blunders (as shown above), and eliminating morality from politics obviously won't prevent all mistakes, but it will certainly prevent some.

As far as pragmatism, I like how Con tries to say that "pragmatism is a moral system", yet "pragmatism implies that there is no right or wrong"; certainly these two statements are quite contradictory.

However, the benefits of all need to be considered; I'm not saying pragmatics can cater to the needs to every single person; it probably can't; but enforcing a single narrow system of morality is definitely not going to do that; it doesn't account for every person's wants because of its rigidity - pragmatism on the other hand, is a flexible policy.

As far as her stealing example, just understand that being caught and punished for violating property rights outweighs the pragmatic benefit of stealing to begin with.

On the application of pragmatism: we apply it to both; the government needs to enact practical laws and policies, and individuals have to way the pros and cons of every decision before making it (such as the benefits of stealing vs the penalty for doing so). Con says "One must use morality in determining which route it the most righteous." Firstly, if individuals are determining morality, then obviously there's no objective moral standard to use to determine 'righteousness', so it's self-defeating; secondly, righteousness isn't the basis for law, as I've pointed out earlier; we have to look at the pragmatics to determine what policies are both needed and beneficial; it all stems from self-interest. In a sense, 'righteousness', this idea of morality, is subjective, as Con admits; if we enact a morally sound policy, that's merely a coincidence.

Contention III

As far as majority v minority, we can look here: http://www.democracyweb.org...

While majority rules, minority has rights like free speech, petition, assembly, elections, etc. The minority has the right to become the majority, and this checks the current majority to prevent tyranny; these are the minority rights I'm discussing: there's no contradiction here. As far as the 'right to murder'; again, we have laws against that out of our self-interest.

Also, note the circular reasoning: Why is the tyranny of majority wrong? Because it's immoral. Essentially, my opponent is saying, the tyranny of majority is wrong because it's wrong; 'because it IS.'

She just explains here that laws exist to uphold morality; still, I've proven how they exist out of our own self-interest, not out of a sense of righteousness. One last contradiction: she started off asserting some objective morality, but now talks about change, and progress, still giving us no objective moral standard.

Thus, her first premise is flawed, because self-interest determines rights.
Her second premise is irrelevant; not upholding rights is unacceptable because it potentially harms our self-interest (if we aren't the victim); if some believe that it's also immoral, that's merely coincidental, since morality isn't our motivation for rights protection.
I agree with premise three, obviously.
Thus, your actual conclusion: Morality should not be a dec
Danielle

Con

Danielle forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
Cody_Franklin

Pro

Well, my opponent has forfeited Round 3, it would seem; thus, extend all arguments and vote Pro.

One last thing; since this round is the last, remember that my opponent may not bring up any new arguments/evidence that have not been previously mentioned; thus, if she brings up some new argument or evidence out of the blue, it may be extremely valid, but you cannot vote on it.

Thank you for reading.
Danielle

Con

I apologize for missing the third round; I am in the process of moving and was not able to get online and post my argument in time... Back to the debate!

Pro opens by claiming, "We change our views from time to time, making moral consistency in the US quite impossible." However, Pro's suggestion for the basis of law making - pragmatism - is ALSO inconsistent. Therefore we have established that both morality and pragmatism is subjective and transient.

I have also made the point that morality lies behind the concept of pragmatism, making it a considerable factor in legislation even by my opponent's own proposed standards. If I were the President and needed to make a decision, I would take pragmatism into consideration: What choice produces the best possible consequence for the people of my country? But WHY does/should the President take pragmatism (what produces the most optimal results) for his country as a whole anyway? Because it's the MORAL thing to do.

To make legislation based on dogmatism (the opposite of pragmatism) would be immoral as it may not produce the best results for society. Thus the very morality that makes pragmatism the optimal standard for legislation also negates the resolution.

Pro next states, "We don't go door to door and ask voters if they think a policy is morally right or morally wrong; we have elections to best determine what the people want." Pro has failed to demonstrate how said voting process ensures the wants of the people and whether or not it is truly a democratic process. For instance, would it be a process of individual voting or delegate voting? There are arguments for and against either process.

Pro continues to say that I have provided an "off the wall example" of 90% of the population supporting a tax that would be least beneficial to the 10% that oppose it. Look around, Pro -- we live that reality every day! He says, "The 'wants' of the people aren't the only things to consider; of course, we also have to remember the pragmatics." However, it's quite obvious that Pro ignored my argument that pragmatism is debatable: what's most pragmatic to one group of people obviously isn't what's most pragmatic for the other group. Pro has yet to explain which group's pragmatism is more important; he only said that we'd find a democratic way of figuring that out (without providing a specifically democratic solution).

Taking society as a whole into consideration doesn't make the answer any more black and white; Proof is the fact that general partisanship mainly supports two different ideologies, both of which claim would be the most beneficial or pragmatic to society. A Republican may choose that affiliation based on both pragmatism (economic gain) and social issues (their conservative beliefs). A stance on social issues is generally dictated by morality - not pragmatism.

Consider the example of gay marriage. If Pro's point that rights were solely about equality were true, then it would be non-sensical for one to oppose gay marriage; doing so would mean that they don't respect their own right to be married. Sure an opponent of gay marriage may feel that everyone has the equal right to marry someone from the opposite sex; however, the reason as to why that shouldn't be extended to include the same sex are rooted in what they believe is moral - not pragmatic.

Pro also says it's simply in our best interest to value certain things because everybody else values them as well. That isn't always true; people don't have the same exact values. Additionally, we punish law-breakers because they have violated the rights of others. In other words, nobody is arguing that because people generally value the same things [property and life] that they have become RIGHTS. However, Pro is ignoring the fact that violating these rights is immoral. His basis of pragmatism only establishes why things *become* rights, not why violating them and thus the law is wrong (morality).

Pro writes, "Rights are usually regarded as legitimate if they benefit self-interest. Thus, regardless of morality, rights will exist..." I've got two words: Abortion Debate. As I've pointed out, both sides of this issue can use pragmatism to explain why they stand on one side or the other. Similarly, one can use these pragmatics to determine what becomes law. The issue here is considering the morality - or immorality - of breaking the law. Plus, just because a larger group believes one side is more pragmatic doesn't necessarily make it moral or true. Pro has continuously ignored the fact that pragmatism is also subjective.

Next Pro brings up the issue of guising our political aims under the mask of "morality." First, Pro is completely ignoring the fact that it may be the most PRAGMATIC OPTION for us to lie about our goals, thereby negating his entire point once more using his own standards. Second, who says it's necessarily a guise? Consider this quote by Elie Wiesel:

"Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant... That place must - at that moment... become the center of the universe."

Pro would say that this is true because of self-interest; if we were in the situation of the oppressed, we'd want someone to help us. However, Pro would also suggest that we shouldn't help others if it's not pragmatic for us. This is not taking into consideration the philosophy that, "Principles only mean something if you stick by them when they are inconvenient." Many people feel that legislation is also about the principle of upholding rights regardless of how they affect our individual self-interest.

Consider a situation during which Isolationism might be the most pragmatic stance to have in the present; however, in the future we were the ones who needed help, and as "pay back" for our selfishness, another more stable nation did not help us as there was no favor to be returned. This is an instance of pragmatism being inconsistent. It also depicts our country as having no principles other than selfishness, which not only violates the moral code of collective individuals, but may also cost us pragmatically in the future as well in terms of international relations. Therefore establishing certain principles based on morality, even if that morality changes, at least makes a statement about our intentions both political and otherwise.

Pro offers a hypocritical argument when he states, "I'm not saying pragmatics can cater to the needs to every single person; it probably can't; but enforcing a single narrow system of morality is definitely not going to do that; it doesn't account for every person's wants because of its rigidity - pragmatism on the other hand, is a flexible policy." In other words, he admits that pragmatism is "flexible" i.e. inconsistent and transient just like morality. So what's the difference? Essentially Pro is arguing that the most moral policy to follow both personally and politically is the one that is most pragmatic for the people, which obviously negates the resolution at hand.

Pro says "Being caught and punished for violating property rights outweighs the pragmatic benefit of stealing to begin with." This is a statement without any consistent basis or proof. If I violate a law and the penalty is paying a fine, violating that law may be pragmatic in the sense that it was "worth it" to me to break that law because the fine does not really affect my well-being or economic status. However, it would still be immoral to break that law in the sense that it may have infringed upon the rights of others. Pragmatism in this case is essentially saying that it's okay to be immoral so long as it benefits the individual. Our legal system does not support this mentality and instead seeks to establish laws that are as most beneficial to society as a whole based on current moral inclinations.

My logic equation stands.
Debate Round No. 4
24 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by alto2osu 7 years ago
alto2osu
I know it seems very strange considering the company this website keeps, but I don't always argue everything :)
Posted by alto2osu 7 years ago
alto2osu
Had no intention of doing so :) And that's why debate teachers hate defensive arguments. :PPPPP JK
Posted by Cody_Franklin 7 years ago
Cody_Franklin
I know Mill, as well; I always find it a bit ironic that he finds tyranny in a majority, yet he is a strong Utilitarian. And yes, I understand the 'greatest good' part, and I've also read On Liberty enough times; just stating the prima facie irony, to preempt you trying to argue Mill with me; because I don't really want to argue Mill. :)
Posted by alto2osu 7 years ago
alto2osu
I haven't read Thoreau in a long, long time, so I couldn't speak to his opinion on tyranny of the majority :) I do know Mill's views.
Posted by Cody_Franklin 7 years ago
Cody_Franklin
Yeah, that's kind of what I was trying to say with Locke; I've read his second treatise several times, and we study him a lot in debate class, so I figured it was worth a shot.

Plus, I think I was making the Thoreau reference to majority tyranny. For Locke, I was just discussing what true majority rule is, and exactly what he and I meant by 'majority rights'.
Posted by alto2osu 7 years ago
alto2osu
PS: my vote RFD is identical to Lex's :)
Posted by alto2osu 7 years ago
alto2osu
For me, this debate came down to this sort of counter-planish debate between moral decision making calculus vs. objective, consequentialist policy making. I think Pro had many good ideas about things like rights origin, especially in his arguments about self-interest. If you have not done so yet, I recommend reading much of John Locke & Adam Smith, both of whom argue with you. You both debated a little bit of Locke, and his theories in Second Treatise are sort of mischaracterized here :). Adam Smith's theories on self-interest would have been spot on here as a source.

Side note: John Stuart Mill is the tyranny of the majority guy :)

I agree with Lex that the topic was not actually debated, but I don't necessarily agree that both debaters totally fulfilled the burdens that were placed on them.

One of the biggest issues for me is accounting for the subjective nature of pragmatism that cannot be attributed to moral interference. Take fiscal policy. Economists from both sides will devoutly support polemic policies with plenty of empirical and historical evidence. Pragmatically, the two theories are equally employable. Logical decision making is just as volatile as moral decision making. Morality is a bigger target for criticism, I think.

At the same time, I think that basing this pragmatic view on self-interest is very compelling. Both Locke & Smith would argue that self-interest is plenty to base rights & laws upon (in fact, Locke bases our altruistic tendencies in self-interest). Ex: I don't "not speed" b/c it's nebulously "immoral" to do so. I don't speed for a couple reasons (take your pick):

A) I could owe the state $$$ (self-interest stemming from retributive justice)
B) I could hurt or kill someone, including myself (self-interest, or species interest based on self-interest)

Locke's supreme standard applies: treat others as *you* want to be treated. Altruism stems from this self-interest standard.
Posted by Cody_Franklin 7 years ago
Cody_Franklin
I probably should have brought more sources into it; I think the only one I cited was that one, democracyweb.org; but, I suppose I liked it more being a theoretical debate than an empirical one.

Thanks very much for the very detailed RFD, though.
Posted by Lexicaholic 7 years ago
Lexicaholic
Some notes:

(1) The resolution is not "should morality be used to justify decisions" but rather "should morality play a deciding role in *influencing* political considerations and decisions." This means that the resolution broadly encompasses both internalized and externalized justification (that is to say, the reason you make a decision and the reason you use to justify the decision to others).

(2) Oddly, the burden of each side does not match the resolution. Pro should have the burden of negating consideration of morality in making decisions, and Con should have the burden of supporting consideration of morality in making decisions, as these burdens are rationally related to the resolution and logically in opposition to each other.

(3) Instead, Pro is given the burden of proving a need for moral impartiality in political decision making, and Con is given the burden of proving that morality, in some application, should be used in the political process. Because the resolution uses the phrase "influencing," Con is correct in asserting that this use of morality does not need to be related to decision making but rather decision justification. In other words, Pro bears the burden of showing that a decision should be made for amoral reasons, and Con bears the burden of showing that a decision should be at least justified morally so that it is palatable to others.

(4) Both succeed in meeting their respective burdens. No sources are cited and there are no egregious spelling errors or mistakes.

(5) Lwerd forfeited. This is an auto loss of the conduct vote, barring any outrageous behavior on the part of the contender. There was no such behavior.

Therefore,

RFD:Pro
1.Tie - see wonky resolution.
2.Tie-same
3.Pro
4.Tie
5.Tie
6.Tie
Posted by Lexicaholic 7 years ago
Lexicaholic
I'll try and read through this in a few. I'm just commenting for now to bookmark this debate. :)
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