The Instigator
Beginner
Pro (for)
Losing
1 Points
The Contender
That1User
Con (against)
Winning
3 Points

Nihilism

Do you like this debate?NoYes+0
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
That1User
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/4/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,051 times Debate No: 66376
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (15)
Votes (1)

 

Beginner

Pro

As the conditions for this debate have already been established and accepted, I will head directly into arguments. For all parameters and definitions, click on the link below.
http://www.debate.org...;

To that1User: same general format minus the acceptance round. :)

How I reached my Nihilistic ideological conclusion:

Let us consider religion, for example. Religion(s) generally decree a higher order to which lesser beings (i.e. humans), in order to achieve the more desirable religious end-goal (i.e. going toHeaven), must follow a certain set of behavior(s) and values. My first thought is: why? Why must we follow religion’s decrees? Why should we follow religion’s decrees? Is it because not doing so is ‘bad’? What is bad? How does a religion objectively justify defining good and bad?

Allow me to use Christianity, one of the most widespread religion in the world, as an example. Why is Heaven good and Hell bad? I am told that Heaven is bliss or good. I am also told that Heaven’s counterpart, Hell, is torture or bad. Here is where I begin to see religion depart from objectivity. The less desirable Christian result, Hell, is only less desirable to people in general because it appeals to the human subjective aversion to pain, death and suffering: it is less desirable because the religion says so. Heaven is only more desirable because it appeals to happiness, which is simply the feeling of contentedness or euphoria produced by chemicals which our body and brain favor. This general set of appeals holds true for most, if not all, religions. Nothing seems to objectively matter. Everything appears ultimately subjective, arbitrary and thus objectively insignificant. :((

It appears that everything is, in some way or another, subjective. Religion appeals to subjective inclinations toward (eternal) life and happiness and subjective aversions toward pain and death. Moral values appeal to our species’ inclination for survival. Even universal laws are arbitrarily constructed on empiricism. Metaphysical laws (i.e. math) are similarly constructed. My conclusion: everything we understand as human beings are subjective and therefore objectively insignificant. I reached these conclusions years before I ever discovered the word Nihilism (which is quite recent). I've thus allowed my conclusion to be titled under Nihilism. Prove me wrong.

That1User

Con

In his opening argument, my opponent has stated how he reached his Nihilistic ideological conclusion, using the example of the Christian religion. My argument against Nihilism shall be divided in three parts: Rebuttal against the Religion argument, analysis of my opponent's conclusion, and my case in favor of science.

Rebuttal against Religion argument:
How does a religion objectively justify defining good and bad?

According to the Christian religion, objective morality depends on God, and thus God defines good and evil, with God being the source and the definition of good and Satan being the source and the definition of evil. This is how Chrstinaity objectively justifies defining good and bad, through God and Satan.

Why is Heaven good and Hell bad?

Heaven is good because God resides in Heaven. Since God is the source of objective goodness according to Christinianity, Heaven is good. Hell is bad because in Hell humans are completly seperated from God, the source of good. Without God, there is no good, and therefore there is only bad, which is why Hell is bad. This is why Heaven is good and Hell is bad.

In his first conclusion, my opponent states that:
"Everything is, in some way or another, subjective."
In order to support this claim, my opponent uses the following examples:
1) Religion is subjective because it appeals to subjective inclinations such as happiness and life and pain and death.
2) Moral values are subjective because they appeal to our species' inclination for survival
3) Universal laws are subjective because " universal laws are arbitrarily constructed on empiricism"
4) Metaphysical laws "(ie math) are subjective because they are signicantly constructed" as universal laws.

From these examples, my opponent arrives at his second conclusion:
1) "Everything we understand as human beings are subjective and therefore objectively insignificant"
2) Thus Nihilism is the most objective philsophical position, (through the process of elimination)

The challenge: "Prove me wrong."
In order to prove you wrong, here is a rebuttal of the concluding statement:

It appears that everything is, in some way or another, subjective.
Essentially, this claim states that everything is subjective. This claim is ironically an objective claim. Thus there is bound to be some objectivity, at least in language.

Religion appeals to subjective inclinations toward (eternal) life and happiness and subjective aversions toward pain
While Religion does appeal to subjective inclinations, it also has objective standards of morality. In the example of Christianity, God is the source and definition of good, thus God objectively defines goodness and badness, and morality is defined by God, thus morality is objective in Christianity.

Moral values appeal to our species inclination for survival.

While this statement may be true, it fails to support how morality is subjective, and thus must be dismissed. In fact, many philsophers, theologians, and thinkers think that morality is objective. An example of this is that murder, genoicide, rape, and slavery is morally wrong forever and always, regardless of society's values. Another example of objective morality is the claim that all people have the same natural rights (ie the right to live, the right to be free, the right to a fair trial, etc.) These natural rights are protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: ( http://www.un.org...)
By protecting and recognizing natural rights, the UDHR indirectly states that morality is objective, rather than subjective.

Even universal laws are arbitrarily constructed on empiricism.

Arbitrary: "not planned or chosen for a particular reason : not based on reason or evidence" Merriam Webster

How are universal laws arbirtary? Universal laws are based on science. The entire purpose of science is to objectively explain the universe around us through the use of the scientific method. The scientific method is a way to gain new knowledge and to correct or affirm old knowledge through the use of systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses." -Oxford Dictionary
Thus the scientific method is based on mesaurable and empirical research and evidence. Since universal laws are based on on evidence derived from empirical methods, universal laws cannot be arbitarily constructed on empericism.

Metaphysical laws (i.e. math) are similarly constructed.

Arbitrary: "not planned or chosen for a particular reason : not based on reason or evidence"

How is mathematics arbirtary? Mathematics is the language of science, and is built upon reason, or logic. http://www.personal.psu.edu...

A famous example of mathmatical logic is modus pones
If P then Q.
P
Therefore Q.
In mathematics, A and B are understood as variables, something that represents unknowns.
Combined with one preposition, (Ii) two variables (A and b) and two adverbs (then, therefore) there is a logical statement.

A famous version of the modus pones statement is the Socrate's argument.

If Socrates is a man, then he is mortal
Socrates is a man
Therefore Socrates is mortal

This modus pones is an example of a valid argument. Arguments such as these are vital to the proof theorem of math.

If mathematics is based on reason, the mathematics is not arbitrary.
Mathematics is based on reason
Therefore mathematics is not arbitrary

If mathematics is objective, then it is not subjective.
Mathematics is objective
Therefore mathematics is not subjective.

These arguments are supported above.
It can be concluded then, that science and mathematics are objective. I shall be arguing that that science and mathematics are superior objective bodies of thought than Nihilism.

(Side note: My opponent claims in his conclusion that :
"everything we understand as human beings are subjective and therefore objectively insignificant."
This statement has several problems:
This statement is itself an objective statement and is something that we understand as human beings
Everything includes this statement
We understand this statement as an objective statement,
The statement states that everything we understand as human beings are subjective
Thus this statement negates itself.)

My case for science and mathematics being more objective than Nihilism:
Objective - not influenced by personal feelings or opinions when considering or representing facts
Nihilism - a system of belief whose core tenet is that nothing has objective purpose, meaning or intrinsic value
Science:"The intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment" -Oxford Dictionaries
Mathematics: "The abstract science of number, quantity, and space." -Oxford Dictionaries

Nihilism is a belief, while science is the pursuit of fact, and math is the language of science. Since Nihilism is a belief, it is an opinion on life. Thus a Nihilist would be more influenced by the belief that nothing exists than a scientist or a mathamatician. This is because the goal of scientists and mathamaticians is to not be influenced by feelings or opinions when considering or representing facts, thus trying to be as objective as possible. In fact, the entire purpose of mathematics and science is to objectively investigate and explain the universe through facts by discovering and revising facts. Thus, math and science are more objective than Nihilism, and mathematics and science are therefore superior to Nihilism in terms of objectivity.
Debate Round No. 1
Beginner

Pro

Thanks to that1user for taking this debate.
This round has essentially two sections. The first begins by addressing my opponent's more semantic arguments. The latter half further disputes along the lines of my round 1 arguments which culminate into a nihilist conclusion. It also rebuts my opponent's less semantic arguments.



My opponent’s semantic rebuttals:

Me: Nihilism is the most objective philsophical position [...] It appears that everything is, in some way or another, subjective.

That1User: Essentially, this claim states that everything is subjective. This claim is ironically an objective claim. Thus there is bound to be some objectivity, at least in language.

Allow me to clarify. My claim is not an objective claim. It is a most objective claim. It is as close to objectivity as possible. My statement said: "Nihilism is the most objective philosophical position". It does not claim that Nihilism is the objective philosophical position. My following statement says: "It appears that everything is [..] subjective."

I am not arguing that Nihilism is the correct ideology. I am arguing that it is the most correct ideology. It is as close to correct as a philosophical idea can achieve. This is the reason I heavily suggested my opponent bring up and support his own philosophical position since his job would be to show that it is more correct than Nihilism. Otherwise, with a lack of competitors, Nihilism is, "by process of elimination", the most objective philosophical position.

(Note that I do not say that Nihilism is an objective philosophical position).
My opponent’s rebuttal resorts very heavily to semantics and is exactly the reason I worded the debate the way I did.

From Round 1:
"I have always held nihilism to be the objectively strongest ideological position, and would very much like to hear an opposing viewpoint.
My task would be to establish that nihilism is indeed the objectively strongest philosophical position."
Note that I did not say that I hold Nihilism to be objectively correct, which would be an absolute statement. I merely hold Nihilism to be the strongest, meaning that Nihilism is the most objective ideology within minimal intersubjective constraints. This statement is incredibly important for the purposes of this debate, and hopefully will discourage my opponent from further pursuing this particular rebuttal.

My opponent decides to construct another semantics argument later in the round based on my use of the word ‘arbitrary’.
Here are other definitions of arbitrary:
1) based on or determined by individual preference or convenience rather than by necessity or the intrinsic nature of something[1]
2) existing or coming about seemingly at random or by chance or as a capricious [1]
(ironically also from merriam webster)

There are several definitions to the word arbitrary, and many ways to use it. What I mean when I say arbitrary is that it is subjectively contrived. I do not mean anything else. Anyway, it is beside the point. I’d like to ask my opponent to not argue too excessively from semantics.





Argument from Religion:

My original argument sought to find the objective reason to maintain religious values. My opponent's rebuttal says that religion is objectively significant because God is objectively significant, and contends against the reasons I've put forth about pain and pleasure. That is fair: my reasoning is arbitrary, and is merely a hypothetical foray into religion's appeals; to find the core of religion. A problem with the idea that God is objectively significant is that the idea is, by itself, merely an assertion. The argument is basically:

(1) God is an objectively significant being who has given objectively significant set of values for humanity to follow

(2) Humanity is objectively obligated to follow these tenets

There is no objective way for me to conclude the first part of the argument. Does God exist? If so, how is he objectively significant? If so, show me. How do we know the values provided by God is objectively significant? Is it because some preacher or believer says so? How is that objective? My opponent does not provide an objective basis for (1)'s validity. (1) is only objectively significant because my opponent (and other people) tell me so. It is thus contrived by these people (man), and is subjective, questionable and objectively insignificant. It follows then that (2) cannot hold objectively.

The Flying Spaghetti Monster controls all!!!

"One bold assertion is as good as the next - Hegel"

As for (2) alone: why is humanity objectively obligated to follow any tenets at all? Even if the tenets are somehow completely objective, how does that mean that humans must objectively follow? Because someone or something says so? What gives this someone or something the objective credibility?


Epistemology

I believe my opponent proposes two systems against nihilism. These appear to be math and science. This directly contradicts my statements in round 1 which declared math and science objectively insignificant. Let me clarify this argument in a more structural form.

What did I mean when I said that scientific laws are built on empiricism and that metaphysical laws are similarly constructed? I’ve reorganized the argument to run thus:

(1) Scientific laws (i.e. gravity) are constructed via empiricism. Metaphysical laws (i.e. math) are constructed via rationalism (or empiricism; this is debatable, but is besides the point).
(2) Thus both scientific and metaphysical systems are necessarily contrived by man.
(3) Conclusion: both scientific and metaphysical laws are subjective and therefore necessarily not objective.

Let me break down each point in more detail.

What I’m saying in statement (1) is that the core of all laws is empiricism and/or rationalism. Maybe I should explain what these are. Empiricism is the belief that data derived from the sensory inputs is necessarily the foundation of all knowledge, and that there is no other way to obtain knowledge (i.e. empirical evidence; scientific method, etc.). The system of epistemology which directly contradicts empiricism is rationalism. Rationalism basically states that knowledge can be obtained outside of empirical data (i.e. logic).

Statement (2) is saying that both scientific and metaphysical must then be contrived by man. Both rationalism and empiricism are epistemological belief systems. Belief systems are necessarily contrived by man and therefore subjective by definition.

Thus (3) because there is no basis by which we hold empiricism, rationalism or any other belief system to be necessary objective truths. Therefore, any system (i.e. math, science, etc.) whose validity is derived from an epistemological system (which are necessarily subjective), cannot ultimately be objective. For something like math to be considered completely objective, the logician must assert assumptively that some system of epistemology (i.e. Rationalism) is objective.

The conclusion established above directly negates my opponent’s science and mathematics argument, which blatantly asserts that math and science are objective. I agree that math and science can be objective under certain subjective confines, but these ideas ultimately require intersubjective assertions in order to ignore the non-objective system(s) (i.e. epistemological beliefs) at its core.

Thus it remains that everything can be whittled down to a subjective foundation. Nothing has an objective foundation, in other words.

Summary:
Nihilism thus remains the objectively strongest ideological position. Unless my opponent can show a system to be stronger, I’m afraid Nihilism remains at the top by default. :((

Once again, please refrain from arguing semantics outside of clarifications as much as possible. You will very likely end up arguing a point that is barely, if at all, relevant.











[1] http://www.merriam-webster.com...

Note: I urge readers who are interested and who do not have any grasp on epistemology look up rationalism vs. empiricism. It's pretty cool stuff.

That1User

Con

That1User forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
Beginner

Pro

I suppose I'll be leaving this round empty so that I don't have an argumentative edge via superior post quantity (my opponent had some issues).
I extend all my arguments and anticipate my opponent's response.
That1User

Con

With this being the final round, I would like to thank my opponent for not only making this debate but for also for leaving round 3 empty. I also appologize for forfeiting round 2, there were real life issues that came up.

In this argument I will rebutalling my opponent's statements against math and science, and I will be less semantic this time.
Here is my opponents argument's against empiricism and metaphysical laws:

1) Scientific laws (i.e. gravity) are constructed via empiricism. Metaphysical laws (i.e. math) are constructed via rationalism (or empiricism; this is debatable, but is besides the point).
(2) Thus both scientific and metaphysical systems are necessarily contrived by man.
(3) Conclusion: both scientific and metaphysical laws are subjective and therefore necessarily not objective.

What I"m saying in statement (1) is that the core of all laws is empiricism and/or rationalism. Maybe I should explain what these are. Empiricism is the belief that data derived from the sensory inputs is necessarily the foundation of all knowledge, and that there is no other way to obtain knowledge (i.e. empirical evidence; scientific method, etc.). The system of epistemology which directly contradicts empiricism is rationalism. Rationalism basically states that knowledge can be obtained outside of empirical data (i.e. logic).

Statement (2) is saying that both scientific and metaphysical must then be contrived by man. Both rationalism and empiricism are epistemological belief systems. Belief systems are necessarily contrived by man and therefore subjective by definition.

Thus (3) because there is no basis by which we hold empiricism, rationalism or any other belief system to be necessary objective truths. Therefore, any system (i.e. math, science, etc.) whose validity is derived from an epistemological system (which are necessarily subjective), cannot ultimately be objective. For something like math to be considered completely objective, the logician must assert assumptively that some system of epistemology (i.e. Rationalism) is objective.

The conclusion established above directly negates my opponent"s science and mathematics argument, which blatantly asserts that math and science are objective. I agree that math and science can be objective under certain subjective confines, but these ideas ultimately require intersubjective assertions in order to ignore the non-objective system(s) (i.e. epistemological beliefs) at its core.

Rebuttals:
1)This a true statement
2) It is true that scientific and metaphysical systems are contrived by man, and so is Nihilism. Being contrived by man, however, does not mean it is subjective. In fact, science and math tries to be as objective as possible in explaining things, being free from personal feelings and focusing on explaining fact, such as the law of gravity and 2 2=4.
3) The argument here is not if something is completely objective, but it is that it is the most objective, and math and science have been the most objective system, because it is the most free of personal feelings and has the most facts.

Argument:
Objective - not influenced by personal feelings or opinions when considering or representing facts[1]
1)Mathematics is more objective than Nihilism
2) An example of mathematics is 2 2=4
3) 2 2=4 is a fact.
4) 2=2=4 is not influenced by personal feelings or opinions
5) Nihilism is a philsophy, not a statement of fact.
6) Nihilism is influenced by the personal feeling/opinion that nothing has an objective purpose or intrisic value
7) Mathematics is a statement of fact without being influenced by personal feelings or opinions, while Nihilism is not a statement of fact and is influenced by personal feelings or opinions
8)Therefore Mathematics is more objective than Nihilism.
Debate Round No. 3
15 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Beginner 1 year ago
Beginner
Tschh.. Envisage. I disagree with your vote.
Posted by That1User 1 year ago
That1User
Thanks Envisage!
Posted by Beginner 1 year ago
Beginner
If you plan to vote, do not read this:
And how did you reach the conclusion that 2+2=4? Did you figure that out using logic? Did you see a cluster of objects and put a number on these multiple clusters (one piece of lego and another piece of lego together look like 2 pieces of legos)? Logic is a subset of rationalism. Logic is assumed to be sound based on rationalistic evidence. The latter method is an example of empiricism, which is sound only based on the assumed correctness of empiricism (with a touch of rationalism).
Since rationalism and empiricism only hold true under subjective confines (remember, these are epistemological systems of beliefs), then all conclusions rationally and/or empirically drawn are necessarily also subjective.
We have not proven beyond a doubt that rationalistic thinking (i.e. logic) is a necessary or objectively true standard.
Thus the conclusion stands under your critique.
Short answer: Yes, 2+2=4, but only so according to the system of logic (mathematics) which we've contrived. In a possible alternate universe, 2+2 could equal 5. Who knows? The system of logic that we, as humans, have developed, is only perfect to humans. There are an infinite variety of possibilities that we can't even fathom.
Posted by That1User 1 year ago
That1User
And 2=2=4 is not 100% correct?
Posted by Beginner 1 year ago
Beginner
Thanks for posting your round.
I should've made the voting period shorter so that I could freely discuss my thoughts about your response sooner so as not to cloud voter judgment but.. heh, messed up.
Anywho, if you are a voter who plans to vote, do not read the below:
I see what you are saying, but while math and science is one human factions' trying to be as objective as possible, trying to be objective is not the same as being objective.
A belief system is necessarily subjective and since math and science are hinged on some epistemological belief, it is necessarily subjective.
And thus, while Nihilism is objectively true for all intents and purposes except in its self declaration (which is true for all components of everything except for itself: 99.999999999% correct), other systems are proven to be subjective and cannot even claim such a close ratio of correctness as Nihilism does. Thus, Nihilism still seems superior to me. Sadly. :But I am taking comfort in that Nihilism contradicts itself, even if I have to argue that it has the lowest error rate of any ideological system I can think of. The only system better than Nihilism would be one which is 100% correct
Posted by Beginner 1 year ago
Beginner
Thanks for posting your round.
I should've made the voting period shorter so that I could freely discuss my thoughts about your response sooner so as not to cloud voter judgment but.. heh, messed up.
Anywho, if you are a voter who plans to vote, do not read the below:
I see what you are saying, but while math and science is one human factions' trying to be as objective as possible, trying to be objective is not the same as being objective.
A belief system is necessarily subjective and since math and science are hinged on some epistemological belief, it is necessarily subjective.
And thus, while Nihilism is objectively true for all intents and purposes except in its self declaration (which is true for all components of everything except for itself: 99.999999999% correct), other systems are proven to be subjective and cannot even claim such a close ratio of correctness as Nihilism does. Thus, Nihilism still seems superior to me. Sadly. :But I am taking comfort in that Nihilism contradicts itself, even if I have to argue that it has the lowest error rate of any ideological system I can think of. The only system better than Nihilism would be one which is 100% correct
Posted by That1User 1 year ago
That1User
I posted with 10 seconds left on the clock, what a relief. Good luck, Begginner.
Posted by That1User 1 year ago
That1User
Wow, I was too late, I litterally posted my argument when it hit the 0 mark.
Posted by Beginner 1 year ago
Beginner
Oops, that's a redundant link. It should be:
http://www.debate.org...
Posted by Beginner 1 year ago
Beginner
My round 1 link should be:
http://www.debate.org...
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Envisage 1 year ago
Envisage
BeginnerThat1UserTied
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:13 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct - Pro for FF. The biggest problem I have with Pro's case is that it is mostly mitigative, or negating. I.e. Pro doesn't really forward much of a positive case, which he needed to do in order to fulfil his BoP. His opening argument consisted of an attack on Christianity, which even if 100% valid (and I believe it is) doesn't get Pro any closer to affirming the resolution. Pro's only positive points were a prima facie appeal to the subjectivity of morals and knowledge. I checked the definitions for this debate and I didn't see that epistemological nihilism was going to be discussed, but Pro went along with it so.. meh. Con makes his largest gains against epistemological nihilism (arguing for objectivity in math etc.), and Pro conceded more and more ground on objectivity of them, Con simply had much better rhetoric and was more precise with his points. Thus, a Con win, for sufficient rebuttals and lack of sufficient positive case from Pro.