The Instigator
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The Contender
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Morals Cannot Be Relative

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/7/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 658 times Debate No: 43542
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (4)
Votes (1)




I don't believe that morals cannot be subjective and that they stay the same despite the situation. Go ahead and post your first argument in the first round.


I would like to begin by thanking my opponent for the chance to debate such an interesting topic!

My opponent asked that I begin my argument in the first round. This is a little tricky, as I am arguing a CON position, but I will try.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, morality refers to beliefs regarding good or bad behaviour [1]. Thus we can view morality as an instrument for measuring the 'goodness' or 'badness' of an action.

Now, in order for morality to be objective, as my opponent is advocating, an action always has to be either good or bad. This creates a black and white world with no gray areas. Murder is always bad, stealing is always bad, etc. I hold the notion that morality is subjective because the actions that may be 'good' to one person may easily be 'bad' to another. Likewise, actions that are morally 'bad' in one context may be justified or even morally 'good' in another.

Contention 1: Morality is in the eye of the beholder

People everywhere have different views on morality. This already pokes a large hole in the idea of an objective morality. If morality was the same everywhere for everyone, surely there wouldn't be any differences in morality. However, there are, as different people live under different moral codes. For example, some people believe that gay marriage is morally wrong while others believe it is not. Both sides have opposite view points regarding the morality of gay marriage. Another example is the consumption of dog as food. In the US, this is generally regarding as an immoral practise while it is quite normal and moral in China. Essentially, what I am describing is moral relativism, which refers to the acknowledgement of disagreements regarding morality across different societies [2]. This applies to all sorts of issues and topics, from gay marriage to selfishness to even murder.

Contention 2: Morality depends upon context.

Again, in order for morality to be objective, an action must always be right or wrong. There can be no exceptions to this. If there are, then morality is not objective. For example, many believe that murder is always wrong. Then we introduce the concept of self-defense, whereby it becomes morally permissible to murder your would-be murderer. If this does not expose a hole in the idea of morality being objective (murder is always wrong except when...), then I can provide a different example. Suppose it is not your life being threatened but the life of another, or the life of five others. In those scenarios, it is also typically morally permissible to kill the would-be killer. These prove further exceptions to the rule and thus negate the possibility of objective morality. But we hardly have to use an example as extreme as murder. As a sub-point to this contention, it can be argued that even if an action were objectively 'bad', if the intentions or goal behind it are 'good', the action is then justified and morally acceptable (ie, the famous quote, the ends justify the means).

Contention 3: The 'goodness' or 'badness' of an action is based upon our perceptions.

This is a fairly simple point. To most people, thievery is always wrong. To the thief, however, who may be stealing in order to feed himself or a loved one (or just to steal, the purpose is irrelevant to this point at the moment), his or her actions are morally sound. If the thief convinces him or herself that his/her actions are morally justified, they cease to become morally wrong to him/her. What makes an action good or bad is not some intrinsic, objective standard but the perceptions of society. Again, I point out the example of eating dog meat. A classic example of this contention is Nazi Germany (Godwin's Law, but it's actually relevant.) To most people, the actions of Hitler and his collaborators were morally reprehensible, but to them, what they were doing was morally acceptable because they believed it would pave the way to a better Germany, It can easily be argued (an argument I support) that Hitler was wrong, that his actions were evil, but this argument comes from culture and upbringing, not from some objective source. If we'd been raised in Nazi Germany and indoctrinated into the Hitler Youth, we would most likely believe in Hitler and his ideas that, to a democratic people priding themselves on liberty and equality and the value of human life, are simply disgusting.

I have further points for all of these contentions, but I will save them for the 2nd round. I look forward to my opponent's response!

Debate Round No. 1


rugbypro5 forfeited this round.


My opponent has forfeited the round. Please extend all my arguments.
Debate Round No. 2


rugbypro5 forfeited this round.


My opponent forfeited the debate. Please vote CON!
Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by EndarkenedRationalist 3 years ago
Are you coming back?
Posted by rugbypro5 3 years ago
No, I said they cannot be subjective. There has to be a real right and wrong no matter what people may think or feel. So yea, you can debate that they are relative.
Posted by EndarkenedRationalist 3 years ago
Because I'd happily argue that morals can be relative.
Posted by EndarkenedRationalist 3 years ago
So you believe morals can be subjective? But you're on the PRO side?
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Ramshutu 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeits give conduct to con. Only con made any arguments and sources. Weird grammar in the only sentence from pro gives spelling and grammar to con too.