Murder is Objectively Immoral
Resolved: Murder is Objectively Immoral
4 rounds/6,000/select winner/72hrs
I accept and look forward to an interesting debate.
Resolved: Murder is objectively immoral
OBV 1 - The sole burden of proof rests on my opponent to present me with an objective metaethical philosophy. Therefore, in order for my opponent to win their arguments must remain standing by the end of the debate. In order for me to win, I must successfully negate my opponent’s arguments. Since my opponent has the sole burden of proof I will not need to provide a case I will simply be refuting my opponent’s arguments stated. If my opponent does not contest with this then judges out to be viewing this debate as Pro having the burden of proof to prove that morality is objective, and ultimately prove that murder is objectively wrong.
OBV 2 - My opponent types out their argument in the form of a syllogism using the premise and conclusion structure. Therefore, even if one of my opponent’s premises do not stand by the end of the debate then you ought to vote Con. If one premise does not stand then the conclusion cannot be met.
Definitions and Clarification
I agree to all of the definitions that my opponent provides.
I also agree regarding the clarification and I was planning on making one myself but my opponent does one in his round. Just to expand upon that, I do not believe that murder is moral and I do view murder as immoral. The factor that me and my opponent disagree on here is whether or not it is objectively immoral or not.
Morality is Objective
My opponent introduces a framework of normative ethics based on utilitarianism . The fact that it is based on normative ethics  is highly problematic though. My opponent needs to provide a metaethical system of to show me what morality actually is and to ultimately prove why murder is wrong under this moral standard. Normative ethics are problematic in this scenario for 2 reasons:
1 - Normative ethics are highly subjective provide no base definition of what morality is. This debate is on objectivity rather than subjectivity.
2 - If my opponent does not have a clear framework on what morality actually is (beyond the definitions), then he cannot say that murder is objectively wrong.
3 - Normative ethics depends on metaethics and my opponent does not have a metaethical framework. This ultimately means that you ought not to buy his normative ethics based framework because it has no metethical foundation to support it.
Regardless of these problems, my opponent will probably enforce a metaethical framework next round so I will now refute my opponent’s contention on utilitarianism.
John Torek raises major concerns regarding the concept of utilitarianism that I agree with. Utilitarianism is founded on the principle that happiness can be measured. My opponent correctly defines utilitarianism the concept that ‘the right thing to do is the thing that produces the most happiness”. Torek raises the following concern, “But in virtue of what should we take five people's pain or sorrow (all else being equal) as worse if no single person experiences that pain or sorrow?” He continues, “Each person's potential loss has the same significance to me, only as a loss to that person alone. because, by hypothesis, I have an equal concern for each person involved, I am moved to give each of them an equal chance to be spared his loss.” . The question here that is being begged is, how do we measure happiness? And, can we measure happiness? It is completely under my opponent’s burden to prove this.
Murder is Immoral
Since I have negated utilitarianism we ought to view this contention as invalid because we have no objective metaethical framework. However, even if we accept the principle of utility the argument is still flawed.
By agreeing to debate this topic my opponent takes on a large burden. They must prove that murder is ALWAYS wrong due to it being objectively immoral. If this is the case then they need to do more than just state that under the normative ethics based framework murder is wrong because this is not the case. There are scenarios in which murder can benefit the majority. This is why my opponent needs to present a metaethical framework. Without one then I am able to bring up scenarios and specific instances where under the framework murder is not immoral. This means that murder is not objectively immoral if I am able to do this.
The scenario of revenge murder is not uncommon. There are many incidents regarding revenge murder, for example, Alam Khan killed his father’s murderer (who was a serial killer) as an act of revenge. Under utilitarianism this murder would be justified because he killed a serial killer who was likely to kill more people. This means that murder cannot be considered objectively immoral under utilitarian standards because there are many instances like this in which murder is viewed as moral under utilitarianism. My opponent’s burden requires him to prove that murder is objectively immoral. If his framework has instances where murder is moral then it cannot be considered objectively immoral.
My opponent introduces normative ethics which is something that will rarely work in a debate regarding objective morals. This is evidently proven in my objection to the claim that murder is immoral since under utilitarianism there are exceptions. The resolution states that murder is objectively immoral. Under my opponent’s definitions we can interpret the resolution as, to slaughter barbarously is, based on facts, not conforming to the rules of right conduct. My example provided (regarding revenge) is justified and it coincides with the resolution. Therefore, you ought to vote Con. My opponent’s arguments are negated and they hold the full burden of proof. You ought to negate based on the premise that my opponent fails to provide a metaethical framework which is necessary in order to prove objective morals to be true.
I accept both observations given by Famous.
My opponent seems to understand the basic concept of normative ethics and metaethics, however he fails to understand their contingency on one another in order for my opponent’s burden to be met. My opponent’s fatal misunderstanding here may cost him the debate as, in essence, he has misunderstood my rebuttal completely.
Morality is Objective
I did state that normative ethics is subjective however my opponent gets the wrong idea. I meant that normative ethics cannot be determined objectively without a metaethical system of morality. You cannot say that we should be fulfilling human base desires unless you can prove that morality even begins to begin with. 
Utilitarianism is a specific, objective moral theory. It is dependant on moral realism though. You cannot say what is moral (normative ethics) if morality doesn’t exist (metaethics) .
My opponent fails to show why the action that promotes the most happiness is the best action or the morally right action. Sometimes decisions that are unpopular are considered moral by the minority. They may not increase overall happiness but that doesn’t change the fact that some people view these actions as moral. So the question remains, why is doing something that makes most people happy the right thing to do.
Since my opponent doesn’t realize why metaethics are necessary, I’ll explain. Normative ethics are about what actions are right and wrong (as my opponent defines it) and metaethics is the moral language (ie. what morality is). If morality does not exist then normative ethics cannot stand. Moral objectivism is the ideology that objective moral values exist. Unless my opponent can prove that morality exist and is objective then their burden cannot be fulfilled because there is no reason as to why judges ought to view morality as something that exists and if morality doesn’t exist then we cannot consider murder as immoral.
My opponent is correct in stating that their method of analyzing happiness and measuring it is subjective. If an objective answer is “beyond our comprehension”, then how do we know that there is one. Just like people subjectively believe that murder is moral, this doesn’t mean that there is an objective solution. It works both ways. Basic psychology tells us that murder makes people feel good, satisfied and happy . So even under my opponent’s framework of utilitarianism you ought to be voting Con.
Murder is Immoral
My opponent thinks that my claim that I believe that murder is immoral is a concession, however it isn’t. I don’t have to believe that murder is immoral to win because, as my opponent concedes by agreeing to the observations, my opponent must try to prove that murder is objectively immoral and I must refute his case. I can subjectively believe that murder is immoral and still negate - it is also crucial to note that I believe (subjectively) that murder is moral in some instances too. I concede that I believe that murder is immoral however the key thing to observe is that I never conceded that murder is OBJECTIVELY immoral which is what my opponent is affirming. I’m perfectly content with agreeing that murder is immoral, what I’m arguing is that it isn’t objectively the case which is sufficient for me to negate since Pro’s burden states that he must prove that murder is objectively immoral and if he can’t prove this then his burden is not met.
In the instance regarding Alam Khan the situation isn’t as simple as my opponent sets it out to be. He waited 12 years for his father’s murderer to be arrested and the court did nothing (because he was in a poor area of India) . He killed a serial killer who was free for 12 years - by doing so he prevented deaths, getting him arrested was not an option as he had already attempted this.
My opponent shifts their advocacy from the general concept of utilitarianism to rule utilitarianism. This is a fallacy and voters should NOT buy this. My opponent is purposefully shifting their advocacy so that it negates my arguments. They begin with doing what produces the most happiness and now they introduce rule utilitarianism which states that murder is objectively immoral as a rule. Furthermore, if murder is objectively wrong under rule utilitarianism then rule utilitarianism is flawed for the very reason that murder does produce happiness as I showed and sourced above.
The resolution is negated!
P1: Morality is Objective.
P2: murder is immoral
My opponent claims that I am shifting my advocacy by pushing Rule Utilitarianism. This is not true at all, Rule Utilitarian’s are a subset of Utilitarian’s. Everything I have suggested and argued for is accepted by all Utilitarian’s. To say I have shifted advocacy is like suggesting that someone explaining Christianity who then moves to share a Methodists viewpoint is shifting advocacy. Surely not, I am merely honing in on a particular viewpoint. Rule Utility deems murder immoral as a rule. This is not shifting advocacy as my reasoning given for this addition fits the framework presented. It simply adds the truth that “our knowledge of human behavior shows that there are many cases in which general rules or practices are more likely to promote good effects than simply telling people to do whatever they think is best in each individual case.”(4)
Thanks to famous for an interesting and thought provoking debate. I have demonstrated that
Thanks for a fun debate Seagull.
Morality is Objective
Utilitarianism is an objective normative ethical system of morality but this debate is contingent on the existence of metaethical morality. In this debate pro has undertaken a large burden and this is a burden that he is unable to fulfill. He manages to prove that the ultimate desire is happiness but why is the ultimate desire relevant or applicable to morality which is defined as “conforming to the rules of right conduct.” According to his own description, he needs to prove the following: To slaughter barbarously is, based on facts, not conforming to the rules of right conduct. At best, Pro has proven that murder is wrong because it it goes against human base desires but that is not what his burden entails.
Without the fundamental establishment of a metaethical system of morality then normative ethics cannot exist. My opponent needs to prove the existence of morality before presenting reasons why things are moral and immoral. This is something that pro simply fails to do. He continues to insist that utilitarianism is objective. This is true however it isn’t setting the necessary existence of and perception of morality that this debate needs. Without that voters cannot and should not view morality as an existing concept.
He does assert that happiness is a universal desire however that doesn’t make it something that is “conforming to the rules of right conduct” as his definition states. Innateness is not mentioned in the definition of morality and given that my opponent does not expand upon this point it should not be weighed when voting. He is shifting his advocacy and his definitions once more. The definition of morality doesn’t refer to an action being more moral as a result of something being innate or universal (which he seems to believe with his off topic claim).
I have also proven that basic psychology proves that murder creates happiness. This may not always work under the framework of utility, it is crucial to note that there are circumstances where it does work - ie. Alam Khan. Many people will be satisfied, the economy does not have to pay for the criminal in jail, nobody else will die, etc. His only rebuttal to this point is invalid because he fails to consider the example (Alam Khan).
Murder is Immoral
Pro is shifting their advocacy and they’re are trying to deny it. This is like me debating Christianity and then when I raise a potential error regarding it you say that you’re actually debating from a Catholic viewpoint and Catholics don’t believe this whereas most Christians do. His analogy fails. He says that it’s like debating Christianity and then mentioning the opinion of the Methodist Church. This is not what he’s doing. He not just mentioning or bringing up the opinion of a rule utilitarian - he’s shifting his entire framework from utilitarianism to rule utilitarianism. In his initial framework he was doing what will create the most happiness. Now he introduces rule utilitarianism which states that there are certain things that are always wrong. This is a shift in his advocacy as his initial framework mentioned NONE of this. This is a completely new addition to his framework that he cannot do as he commits a logical fallacy in doing so. A framework cannot be shifted as it is incorrect debate etiquette - voters ought to dismiss his addition to the framework as it changes his original advocacy which is fallacy that must be viewed as having no impact upon the resolution. It is a change to the original framework not an extension that coincides with it. If pro wanted there to be rules then he should have began by providing a framework of rule utilitarianism. A framework of utility does not have rules of specific actions being deemed immoral. A framework should be clearly and concisely presented in the initial round. Adding to it largely unfair and is penalized in debate.
The Alam Khan example produces more happiness with his death than without it. With his father’s murderer’s death many deaths would be prevented (causing increased happiness). Pro does not refute or even attempt to refute this point. He says that it tends to create negative happiness. This would be a sufficient response if this debate was about whether murder is wrong in most instances but it isn’t. The resolution in the simplified form regarding the definitions (that Pro presents) is:
To slaughter barbarously is, based on facts, not conforming to the rules of right conduct.
Pro must prove that barbarous slaughter based on facts isn’t conforming to the rules of right conduct. This does not include exceptions. It doesn’t say sometimes - it is a positive statement asserting that murder is wrong. It is the equivalent for me to claiming I am always objectively right about all issues. Then I later claim that there’s an exception where I’m occasionally wrong. This is contradictory. Just like his claim. The resolution does not account for exceptions and pro’s claim that this is one is a concession. I merely need to provide a single exception to this and my burden is fulfilled. The fact that he says: “murder is “wrong as it tend(s) to produce the reverse of happiness.” is a concession as in order for my opponent to fulfill his burden he must account for all scenarios. Saying the word tend(s) means that in most scenarios murder produces the reverse of happiness BUT NOT ALL and this is a concession to his burden.
Pro needs both premises to stand in order to fulfill his burden. Even if judges find one to be inadequate then you ought to vote Con.
Pro concedes his BOP by proving that murder isn’t objectively wrong in all scenarios. If it isn’t applicable in all scenarios then it is no longer objective and the claims required to meet my opponent’s burden are invalidated.
Pro doesn’t provide a metaethical framework which is needed for normative ethical frameworks to stand. This is a clear win for the neg case. Vote Con!
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