The Instigator
Furyan5
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
OlaNordmann
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

Morals are determined by external factors

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/11/2016 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 8 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 665 times Debate No: 92624
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (14)
Votes (0)

 

Furyan5

Pro

We are not born with any moral values. To a newborn there is no right or wrong. Every moral belief we have is the result of things we see and hear we can not alter those beliefs through will alone, although our beliefs can be altered by seeing or hearing something new.
OlaNordmann

Con

Hey Furyan5, sorry for taking so long to respond.

I think you raise a reasonable question, and I agree with your argument too a large extent. I would not dismiss that society and life experiences influence our sense of right and wrong. If you where to make the argument that if you're born into a different part of the world; a different religion; have different parents; etc. that it would impact your morality, I would absolutely 100% agree with you.

Where I disagree however, and this might just be a misunderstanding: Is that I believe that certain traits of human evolution, most predominantly our emotions - which are a condition for us to function as a society - are the biggest decider for our morality, and it is mostly predetermined by birth.

In certain situations, like the morality of abortion, I would agree a larger degree to your life experiences and how you view the world could shift the perspective one holds. If you personally knew someone, or had experienced an issue first hand, I think it's natural to polarize one way or another. What happens is a little more nuanced though, because what we see is that people who voice their opinion on these matters is usually very emotionally invested.

In most other situations though like the value of life, retaining our possessions, our rights, etc; They are much more affected by our own desires, our fears, our sympathy and empathy, and our sense of justice. They are not heavily subjected to logic or what's practical that changes when you look at different societies. They are universal. It hurts when we see someone being harassed who doesn't deserve it, especially if it's someone we care for.
Debate Round No. 1
Furyan5

Pro

Hi OlaNordmann. Thanks for accepting the debate.

Lets analyse the four examples you gave of emotions.

Fear. The younger we are, the more fearless we are. Children will climb trees, run into a busy street, play with snakes and spiders, etc. We are taught to fear things. Even the concept of death we learn to fear only because we see adults crying at a funeral and therefore associate it with something bad. We fear what we are taught to fear.
Please watch the following clip.
https://www.youtube.com...

Sympathy and empathy are also things we learn. Children who grow up on a farm have no problem with beheading, plucking and cooking a chicken, whereas children who grow up in the city and have pets would be horrified at the idea.

Even the sense of justice is something we are taught by being punished for wrongdoing and rewarded for doing well.

I agree that some people are more emotional than others and surveys have shown that there is actually a link between when you are born and the characteristics which define your personality. This would affect how badly you are affected but does not alter your morals in any way. What you learn is right, remains right and what you learn is wrong, remains wrong.

Humans may share some moral values which we developed to live as a society but these are all learnt, not encoded in our genes.
OlaNordmann

Con

Fear. The younger we are, the more fearless we are. Children will climb trees, run into a busy street, play with snakes and spiders, etc. We are taught to fear things. Even the concept of death we learn to fear only because we see adults crying at a funeral and therefore associate it with something bad. We fear what we are taught to fear.
Please watch the following clip.
https://www.youtube.com......

Of course children aren't blank slates that aren't afraid of anything until taught otherwise. They just have limited life experience to really know what pose a real danger and what doesn't, their sense of fear nevertheless isn't at all absent. In fact children often develop irrational fears as a precautionary way to deal with potential threats. For instance while some are fearless from poisonous snakes, others are afraid of animals or insects that aren't dangerous at all. They easily get frightened from thunderstorms just because they don't understand it. Some kids are even terrified of falling into and get sucked out through the toilet, even though it seems rediculous to us. A lot of children have a huge difficulty falling asleep in the dark because they fear that there might be monsters lurking beneath their bed. Infants get anxious as a response when left alone, even without the experience of trauma from neglection. The list goes on and on.

My point though, is that all of these fears doesn't originate from adults convincing them that these are things to fear or from self-experience. They come from the vivid imagination of the mind, their lack of understanding and difficulty distinguishing reality from fantasy.

Sympathy and empathy are also things we learn. Children who grow up on a farm have no problem with beheading, plucking and cooking a chicken, whereas children who grow up in the city and have pets would be horrified at the idea.

Sympathy and empathy aren't skills that we learn. They are formed from neurological networks in our brains. In fact, people who suffer from disruption in the right supramarginal gyrus can have a hard time distinguishing their own emotional state from others or they may lack the ability to perceive the emotion from others entirely. The disposition for empathy seems to be established from the age of 8-16 months. Long before they can even speak. This may even occur before the sense of self has been consolidated.

I agree that some people are more emotional than others and surveys have shown that there is actually a link between when you are born and the characteristics which define your personality. This would affect how badly you are affected but does not alter your morals in any way.

Are you proposing that the time of birth could determined the degree of emotional response to external stimuli? If so I'd be very interested to look at that study!

What you learn is right, remains right and what you learn is wrong, remains wrong.

Contradictorily, most people change their outlook on the world once they grow older and become more independent. I myself have done this several times throughout my life, politically and morally most thoroughly when I made the conscious decision to re-evaluate my values rationally instead of emotionally, following the attempt to scrutinize my inner biased opinions.

So what do you think happens when we learn something that's already conflicting with our views and values? Is the sense of morality predetermined by what we already know? I would assume that you would agree that how we react and rationalize differs a great deal. Is it therefore possible for us to reach different conclusions on what is morally right or wrong, even if we share the same experiences?
Debate Round No. 2
Furyan5

Pro

I apologize in advance for my short response. I'm a bit cramped for time.

Monsters under bed?

I would be interested in hearing how anyone could be afraid of monsters if they have not been taught what monsters are.

https://scienceblog.com...
Link to the information you wished to see.

And yes, we do at times change or moral view. But it is always due to us learning new things. This proves that our moral views are determined by eternal events. People may have similar experiences which is why they share similar beliefs, but the experiences are never exactly the same. This is why we have different moral beliefs and values.
OlaNordmann

Con

The type of study the article is referencing to is what's called data mining and it's really just misguided information. These studies basically crunch huge amounts of data already available, usually a set of variables from prior studies, compare them together and actively seeking for a notable pattern. This is where the phrase "Correlation does not imply causation" is most fitting. Though these studies may produce the best headlines, they are considered extremely bad science in the academic field. I sincerely hope you don't usually get your information from sources like this one.

Here's some interesting pseudoscience for you:
http://d.fastcompany.net...
http://b.fastcompany.net...
http://d.fastcompany.net...


I know monsters under the bed was probably not the best example to get my point across, but the point remains valid. Even if the child checks for himself and is reassured that monsters don't exist, the fear can still haunt that child.

I see you really haven't addressed my questions so I'll give you a couple more: Don't you agree that people have a predisposition to react differently (and therefore we interpret external stimuli differently)? Isn't morality just a manifestation from instinctively behaving in our own self interest? Do you disregard the implied impact of nature entirely in the discussion of 'nature vs nurture' on all other subjects as well?

My argument remains that nurture is undoubtedly a huge factor when deciding our personal morality, but it's not the only one.

Debate Round No. 3
Furyan5

Pro

Furyan5 forfeited this round.
OlaNordmann

Con

Nothing to rebute because the instigater forfeitet.

I do however want to point out that my logic in regard to monsters were flawed. My opponent never argued that once fears are esstablished they are easily forgotten when taught something contradictory, so the argument really didn't really adress anything my opponent said.
Debate Round No. 4
Furyan5

Pro

Thanks for the "interesting" pseudoscience articles. I agree that in those cases one could say that "Correlation does not imply causation". They are comparing pairs to apples. But in the article a gave you they compare people born in the same month and see what common personality traits they share. If you find that people born in May are outgoing, talkative and quick witted, while people born in October are brutally honest, goal orientated and love cats, you have to agree that it is more than just coincidence. We may not know what factors linked to the month of our birth determine personality traits, but stats don't lie. The survey proves what many people already know through personal experiences. Just because something does not agree with your way of thinking is no reason to disregard the information as pseudoscience.

So yes, new information can alter our beliefs and moral view but this only confirms my original argument that morals are determined by external factors. We may not remember where and when we were taught something is wrong or right, but nothing is ever considered right or wrong unless we are taught that it is wrong.
OlaNordmann

Con

First of all, I'm completely puzzled why you want to use the last round to talk about astrology, it's completely irrelevant to your argument.

Secondly, you obviously didn't read Mark Hamilton's paper yourself because it says nothing of the sort. It was merely a survey to test the hypothesis that there is a higher correlation of celebrities born at certain astrological signs. The only thing that's relevant is this following vague statement without any actual information to back it up, no source, no data, just a claim.
  • Psychologists have known that certain personality traits tend to be associated with certain birth months. For example, people born in January and February tend to be more creative, and have a higher chance of being diagnosed with schizophrenia, than people born at any other time of year. And people born in odd-numbered months tend to be more extroverted than those born in even-numbered months.

Let's use the example above. I'm not even gonna go into how you measure creativity, but how many are diagnosed with schizophrenia is a very simple one to survey. In fact I found one: "The planetary positions and relationships at the dates of birth of a cohort of Nigerian schizophrenics"[1]. The conclusion? Seems to contradict the article.
  • However, the findings give only partial support to key astrological postulates because there was a non-significant trend for more schizophrenics to be born in “water” signs and on full moon dates.”

Third, when you compare two data sets together, for instance "Who likes cats" and "Month of birth". Do you think that if there is no causation then it's likely to be completely even across the whole year? Some months will tend to be higher, and some tends to be lower. As long as it isn't statistically significant (meaning that it's statistically reliable, so if repeated under other circumstances then it is very likely to give the same result), or you can test the hypothesis of causation, then there is no reason to assume that if your child will be born in one of those months then there is a higher predisposition for him or her to like cats. It just means that out of the group surveyed, more people born in October liked cats.

Fourth, I don't disregard information (even so you haven't even provided any actual information), I disregard the causation of your claim, that: [date of birth causes said personality traits] or [said personality traits causes date of birth] or [date of birth and said personality traits are both caused by something else]. Bring me a decent hypothesis and I will reconsider.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov...

Debate Round No. 5
14 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Furyan5 8 months ago
Furyan5
So are you telling me you have never noticed similar traits in people born in the same month? Check it out yourself. My father and I share the same birth month. So do my brother and ex wife. So I'm talking from personal experience when I say the similarities are more than coincidence. And before you claim wishful thinking, let me assure you that I in no way wish to be like my father.
Posted by vi_spex 8 months ago
vi_spex
dont remember now.. you can believe whatever you like
Posted by Furyan5 8 months ago
Furyan5
How can it be contradictory?
Posted by vi_spex 8 months ago
vi_spex
i believe i know belief is not a guess

chess mate
Posted by vi_spex 8 months ago
vi_spex
so you know belief is not a guess.. contradictory statement right there..
Posted by Furyan5 8 months ago
Furyan5
it is true.
Posted by vi_spex 8 months ago
vi_spex
do you believe that or is it true?
Posted by Furyan5 8 months ago
Furyan5
It's not a guess.
Posted by vi_spex 8 months ago
vi_spex
as external as a guess
Posted by vi_spex 8 months ago
vi_spex
yea
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