The Instigator
Dahaka311
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
JustCallMeTarzan
Con (against)
Winning
22 Points

Nihilism is an ethical fallacy

Do you like this debate?NoYes+2
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Vote Here
Pro Tied Con
Who did you agree with before the debate?
Who did you agree with after the debate?
Who had better conduct?
Who had better spelling and grammar?
Who made more convincing arguments?
Who used the most reliable sources?
Reasons for your voting decision
1,000 Characters Remaining
The voting period for this debate does not end.
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/25/2010 Category: Society
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 4,803 times Debate No: 11871
Debate Rounds (2)
Comments (19)
Votes (6)

 

Dahaka311

Pro

The Government maintains that the premise of nihilism is one which betrays the existentialism of preconceived morality, and is therefore a self-debilitating notion.

The concept of nihilism is one which advocates the message that all individuality must be suppressed, for life itself is meaningless. This betrays all morality, and all logic besides, as it neglects to acknowledge truth. To state that this life is meaningless is to discount all of man's achievements, both social and cultural. Life is to be cherished, for it is our only true opportunity to exist. The assertion that life is a meaningless journey which we as humans have the misfortune of undergoing is not only unenlightened foolishness, but is taking a view on existence from a purview that allows for no happiness, no contentment, no joy, and no life.

This is highly out of step with not only religious views, but a vast number of the agnostic sects who hang on the fringes. Nihilism claims that life is a meaningless sentence, and yet many nihilists claim to coexist with religious folk. This is a technical and ethical impossibility, as nihilism by definition advocates that life harbours no meaning, whereas religion, and the pursuit of self-enlightenment on the whole - this most human of traits - are the epitome of reverence for life. This applies not only to the religiously inclined however, for even, nay, especially atheists, who believe that nothing waits for them in the afterlife, understand that life is to be cherished. Life is the height of reality, for it is quite literally all we know. To so easily dismiss all that we have experienced, all that we have accomplished, as not real, on grounds that defy both logic and morality is to betray the very value of life itself, and in so doing to betray one's own conscience.

The Government therefore maintains that nihilism is as erroneous and fallacious a practise as any, one which reeks of moral and logical ineptitude.
JustCallMeTarzan

Con

My opponent seems to be, albeit circuitously, asserting that nihilism is an untenable ethical position. His assertion arises from a misunderstanding of nihilism as a moral and logical position. He has several claims, all in error. Considering the very small character limit, I will respond in my favored method:

>> "Nihilism claims that life is a meaningless sentence"

Actually, nihilism claims that there is no intrinsic meaning in life. By it's very nature, nihilists could not proscribe life as a "sentence" because that would import a negative meaning to something they hold meaningless. This doesn't mean that nihilism is a contradictory proposition - it means you have mischaracterized it.

>> "Life is the height of reality, for it is quite literally all we know. To so easily dismiss all that we have experienced... as not real... is to betray the very value of life itself"

HUGE problem here. Nihilism is not anti-realist, although there are some that hold it to be true that there *could* be a *possible* universe with no concrete objects. Nihilism does not hold that objects and experiences are not real - it just holds that they do not have intrinsic meaning.

>> [Nihilism is] "taking a view on existence from a purview that allows for no happiness, no contentment, no joy, and no life."

Well obviously life is immediately disqualified, as you have to be alive to be a nihilist. The question then becomes if you can generate happiness, contentment, and joy via a meaningless medium. Take for example a sunset - the particular arrangement of photons that we see carries no meaning whatsoever. However, it is still capable of producing feelings of joy, contentment, happiness etc... The knowledge that events are random or that arrangements are meaningless does not destroy the feelings associated with that phenomenon.

>> [Nihilism] "betrays all morality"

Unless you re a non-cognitivist.

NEGATED.
Debate Round No. 1
Dahaka311

Pro

I must apologize to the readers for my opponent's conduct. Not only has he elicited no original thought, but he has sought to undermine my acclamations with little more than subjective banter that borders on tautology.
Nihilists believe in the abscence of meaning from all existentialism, and by extension, life. If life is a meaningless husk, devoid of all meaning, then surely those who follow these doctrines must hold life with littler regard. Life is not merely a state of being; rather, it entails the thorough enjoyment of it, an appreciation that validates our existence. Although my opponent is either incapable or unwilling to acknowledge it, to refuse to acknowledge that life has purpose is to betray our very humanity, for what then is there to live for? These nihilistic precepts defy morality, for morality is not the preconceived myriad of notions nihilists would so fervently attest to, but is rather an inherent, unspoken conduct by which we must all live, lest we relinquish our very humanity.

Again, my opponent's patent and woeful misdirection resurfaces, as he fails to realize the true intent of my words. Life, as defined earlier, requires an appreciation to achieve true validity. Nihilism advocates that life itself is devoid of meaning. As such, it maintains that no joy can be derived from any action(i.e. the proverbial sunset mentioned earlier). A true nihlist, as defined by the laws that govern their dogmas, would be incapable of joy, for joy is a sentiment predicated upon action, and actions are derived from thoughts, which are only carried out with intent driving them. Ergo, any such sentiments of joy would be beyond the scope of nihilists.

Nihilism is then, by all indications, a self-debilitating practise which disproves itself. Nihilism is, indeed, an "untenable ethical position", for it is morally and logically insubstantial. A belief that reveres nothingness can scarcely be regarded as just, or even remotely plausible. Negated? Hardly.
JustCallMeTarzan

Con

The crux of my opponent's argument is unveiled in his closing statement - "A belief that reveres nothingness can scarcely be regarded as just, or even remotely plausible." There are several immediate and obvious problems with this statement. The plausibility of nihilism is not even an issue - the point has long been made that there is no grounds upon which to rationally criticize individuals' preferential choices. What my opponent contends (erroneously) is that because nihilism "reveres" nothingness, it is incoherent. This is obviously not so, and exposes the depth of his misunderstanding of the concept.

The reason my opponent contends my rebuttals are "bordering on tautology" is that his original argument is filled with unwarranted inferences that themselves make no sense, reducing any counterargument to explaining basic definitions, which of course looks like a tautology when you don't understand either half of the definition.

Immediately, my attention is drawn to my opponent's egregious misstatement that the "true nihilist" would be incapable of joy. This is simply not so, as there is no necessary connection between joy and meaning. It is trivially easy to recognize that something has no inherent meaning, but still experience an effect arising from it. My opponent's position requires a demonstration both that joy requires meaning AND that meaning implies causation; and he has done neither.

Lastly, my opponent has contended that nihilism is a fallacy without introducing any sort of criteria for a fallacy it meets. His sole contention is that nihilism disproves itself. The only possible line of argument on this point is that nihilism would ALSO be meaningless, but even its own meaninglessness does no indicate that it is fallacious.

Simply because nihilism makes unusual preference choices about what to "revere" does not mean it is fallacious (or unjust, or implausible).

NEGATED.
Debate Round No. 2
19 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Nick11 6 years ago
Nick11
Pro does not seem to understand what the term "nihilism" means and as such lost before the debate even began.
Posted by JustCallMeTarzan 7 years ago
JustCallMeTarzan
Well, the nature of morality IS the main point of debate. Most people, when they make moral judgments, do not mean something categorically - i.e. it is wrong to be rude at the dinner table. However, most people DO believe they are making a categorical judgment for things like "murder is wrong." Empirical data shows that even for some things like stealing there is cross-cultural variation, so the exact level where people refuse to allow for relativity is somewhat in question... I suppose in this case, my contention would be that meaning does not have to be intrinsically attached to something for one to enjoy it. In fact, it could very well be that we only enjoy things because we EXtrinsically attach meaning to them...
Posted by Dahaka311 7 years ago
Dahaka311
I think our main point of dissent is that I think that morality is axiomatically right or wrong ( ie. no room for moral compromise), and you think that morality is subject to debate, and more specifically, that it's impossible to determine whether ascribing meaning to things is a necessity for the enjoyment of life. Unfortunately, with issues such as this, there is no concrete way of validating something, and all that can be done is to ponder it further and bring our own opinions to the table. Even the evidence that we used were, in a nutshell, the philosophies of others, and realistically there's no way to circumvent that. Philosophy is philosophy, and whichever way we slice it we'll just be running in circles of indecision. So I think the only real resolution we can arrive at is to agree to disagree :) Thanks for the conversation btw, all of the pettiness (be it mine or yours) aside, I really enjoyed it.
Posted by JustCallMeTarzan 7 years ago
JustCallMeTarzan
Well nihilism shouldn't be confused with anti-realism. Nihilism is a realist viewpoint. Just for the record, I'm not a moral or even existential nihilist. I don't think an action has to derive its meaning from moral language - i.e. there are amoral actions that are still meaningful. And there are some great books about where morality comes from... On the Genealogy of Morals, The Evolution of Morality, Sentimental Rules... and then a whole slew of essays on the matter. I would dig out my metaethics book, but I'm packing to move and I don't know which box its in...

The main point I'm trying to make is that you feel nihilism is an invalid approach to life. But that's not your call to make - you've made a preference choice that certain things are more valuable than others. All the nihilist has done is make a different choice, or perhaps no choice at all.
Posted by Dahaka311 7 years ago
Dahaka311
I joined this site nt really interested in winning, I just wanted to discuss things like this with people who understand and have opinions on the topics. It's a nice reprieve from the blank stares you get when you try to strike up a conversation on the unconventional (hence nihilism).

The reason I said 'ethical fallacy' was because I meant to state it in absolute terms, because I'm very pro life, and very pro reality, so it angers me to see a belief predicated on nothingness to garner support, just like I'm sure it angers you to see religious nuts get worked up when they see the inconsistencies in biblical texts, but that's a debate for another day. Ethics are loosely defined beliefs that we as humans perceive conveniently, but I think that we shouldn't judge good and right purely as matters of perception. There must be good in the world, otherwise our actions would be meaningless. This is where nihilistic beliefs are borne. What I think, is that life is worth living, and at the risk of sounding too preachy, that we have to embrace it, just as surely as reality is reality. If no meaning is ascribed to anything, then life can't truly be enjoyed, and even though you countermanded this in the debate proper, you know on some level that if you didn't pin any meaning to anything then you wouldn't enjoy anything, not really. Now you can go and distort this however you want and misquote me. Take whatever course you want, as I said before I just want to get it out there and receive honest and well developed feed back, but there's nothing you can say that can convince me(or anyone else) that a hollow approach to life is valid. Of course it can't be concretely supported, such are things when you deal with morality. This is an intangible topic, and whether I win or lose is highly inconsequential. Now that all the bickering's over I just want to advise that you look outside of your purview, see what life is, enjoy it, and accept that our actions aren't thoroughly meaningless
Posted by JustCallMeTarzan 7 years ago
JustCallMeTarzan
Omigawd! I can tell people I met the 4th smartest person in <wherever he moved from> on the interwebs! He's got a genius level IQ, or claims to. And sacre bleu! Plays some instruments, or claims to. And plays hockey... well he is Canadian...

Long story short, I'm sure your accomplishments have made mommy proud. If you want to get into a pissing contest, I'm sure game for it. 154 is a low IQ score in my family. The only standardized test I've never placed in the 99th percentile on is the LSAT. Maybe by now the SATII, but I was in the first batch to take it, so I don't know. You've done some great things, no doubt.

Here's something to just let marinate...

Ethical fallacy is an misnomer, an impossibility. Ethical propositions express a position - they are emotive in nature (non-cognitivist) or expressive of a truth claim (cognitivist). Fallacies are errors in the formulation of an argument. Ethical statements to not make an argument, and thus can have no errors in form. Ethical statements can be false or incorrect (unless you're a noncognitivist), and you can be guilty of a logical fallacy when arguing ethics, but there is simply no such thing as an ethical fallacy. Well, there is a logical fallacy titled the ethical fallacy, but that's not what we're talking about here.

Surely you can see that your argument rests on the claim that nihilism is morally and logically insubstantial. Except you haven't proven either this point, or why holding life to be ultimately meaningless is anything more than a preference choice... which, if you've read much metaethics or metaphysics, cannot be rationally criticized. Nihilism is not a rejection of life-giving drives - that's asceticism. Nihilism simply holds that life writ large is meaningless, and you presented absolutely no argument for why we should value meaning over non-meaning. Really, we needed 8000 characters for a topic this deep.
Posted by Dahaka311 7 years ago
Dahaka311
oh, and just a few things I'd like to add before we end this merry round of bickering. Take myself too seriously do I? Well clearly you don't know who I am. I have a 154 IQ (on a bad day) and a 100% overall academic average. Before you go on dubbing me a pockmarked internet nerd (like certain other parties in this conversation), I'm also center and captain of my hockey team. I also play at a level 9 piano degree (self taught and in about a year). I also started flute in concert band two years ago, but this weekend I'll be playing with the winnipeg wind ensemble (you probably don't know what that means, wouldn't be the first time you didn't understand something. It's the professional concert band of the city). I've also taken a national intelligence assessment exam before i moved to Canada that placed me as the 4th. most intelligent mind in the country (I was beaten by a fraction of a percent). I take myself as seriously as I am. But all of my accomplishments must pale in comparison to your BIG NUMBER 7 on an internet debating site right?

I probably can't begin to summarize the various ways I'm above you, but this was a nice start.

Oh, and think before you open your mouth... people might pay attention then.
Posted by Dahaka311 7 years ago
Dahaka311
So now after all this trouble you've reverted to solemn sobriety; what happened to NEGATED? You have to realize that this arguably bi-polar behaviour raises a few eyebrows. I didn't make a duplicate account, and whether you believe it or not is entirely irrelevant. I also know you don't work at pizza hut, I'm not quite as ignorant as you make me out to be, or, dare I say, even remotely so.

The last thing I need is to have to put up with the bravado of some chronic alpha dog, so forgive me if I've lost interest in you.

You also need to realize that maybe some of the public favours me, and I don't need to resort to commenting in my favour, or duplicates for that matter.

Again, clarification is in order. I have better things to do than sit around all day and argue with people on the interneet, no one is quite that pathetic, or at least that was what I believed before you showed me that top ten list that you're so proud of. I set a 2k limit so the debate wouldn't drag on and waste too much of my time, although you clearly found a way of circumventing that precaution...

Immediately to their defence? If one hour is immediately to you, I'd hate to see what you call slow. Age isn't wisdom, and you just seem to keep proving that. You have potential - just stop distorting your facts and carrying on like a humongous dick (pardon my french) during your debates, and, to be frank, generally.

I just tried out this site on recommendation of a friend, but if all the contenders are quite as, what's the word... 'interesting?' as you, then I think it's not worth pursuing. I only hope that if I do continue with this site that all of my other debates won't be met with as bitter an opposition as I've had to endure here. Goodbye and good riddens. Don't bother responding, you've wasted enough of both our times, and considering all the time you've already wasted on this site to become BIG NUMBER 7, you need all the time you can get. NEGATED
Posted by JustCallMeTarzan 7 years ago
JustCallMeTarzan
Wait, let me get this straight... so after the fist vote comes in and you are 7 behind (which isn't my vote by the way), you get a friend or double account to post some nonsense about both sides of the argument having points. Then when I call whoever posted out on their obvious lack of having read the debate, you come immediately to their defense accusing me of having an empty life and gloating over beating a 14-yr-old.

Now let me tell you who I know you are. You take yourself far too seriously and have a terrible case of sou grapes. You confuse my ignorance for yours, revealing again how you completely misunderstand your own topic. So far I haven't seen anything except you and your friends accusing me of "ignorance" that has absolutely nothing to do with your actual debate topic - textbook definition of a red herring.

If you will read what I wrote - I'm not gloating - I'm calling out a highly suspicious commenter. And by the way, I'm in college, where we read about nihilism. Read some Nietzsche. Heidegger. Ayer. I'm not working at pizza hut.

I'm also not the one making a big deal about this. So, after your tantrum, take YOUR advice and get a life. You are boring. And if there had been interesting debates available, I would have taken them. This means nothing. If you want to sell yourself short as the "bare minimum" feel free. You have potential - you just need to research your topics. And let people use more than 2K characters in a round.

So please, think before you open your mouth... people might pay attention then.
Posted by Dahaka311 7 years ago
Dahaka311
once again, you fail to understand what I mean, and then pounce on what I say, when really you're just digging your grave deeper and deeper. Xparkz gets it, and so does everyone else commenting.

And I already knew you were number 7, which is exactly why I said what I said.

I know this isn't the formal debate, but ignorance annoys me, especially yours, so I think I need to, once again, spell out what I mean.

I know who you are. You're a giant furry ball of condescenion mixed in with sugar, spice, everything nice and a sprinkle of bullsh1t to top it all off. Read the comment before for a more lavish explanation. "The bare minimum" I referred to was beating a child at an arguement and then gloating over it, when in reality it'd be quite pathetic if you had lost. Get a life, or better yet, a job. It's about time you quit pizza hut and become a real lawyer. And don't bother telling me to grow up, evidently someone who can't take their own advice isn't worth listening to.
6 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Vote Placed by Man-is-good 5 years ago
Man-is-good
Dahaka311JustCallMeTarzanTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 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:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro loses conduct for "apologizing" to members for Con's disservice, when it is clear that he did not understand the meaning of nihilism nor the fact that by not offering definitions or criteria for a fallacy, he lost the debate.
Vote Placed by Yvette 6 years ago
Yvette
Dahaka311JustCallMeTarzanTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 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:04 
Vote Placed by Nick11 6 years ago
Nick11
Dahaka311JustCallMeTarzanTied
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 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:04 
Vote Placed by Danielle 7 years ago
Danielle
Dahaka311JustCallMeTarzanTied
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:03 
Vote Placed by rbrownell 7 years ago
rbrownell
Dahaka311JustCallMeTarzanTied
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 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:04 
Vote Placed by Xer 7 years ago
Xer
Dahaka311JustCallMeTarzanTied
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:03