Objective morality does not exist
The Debate will have 5 rounds. The rounds will go as follows:
1: ACCEPTANCE ONLY; no arguments
2: Opening statements. No rebuttals
5:closing statements, No New Arguments
This is a list of Definitions for the Debate:
a code of conduct that, given specified conditions, would be put forward by all rational persons(http://plato.stanford.edu...)
the idea that a certain system of ethics or set of moral judgments is not just true according to a person's subjective opinion, but factually true. Proponents of this theory would argue that a statement like "Murder is wrong" can be as objectively true as "1 + 1 = 2." Most of the time, the alleged source is God, or the Kantian Categorical Imperative; arguably, no objective source of morality has ever been confirmed, nor have any a priori proofs been offered to the effect that morality is anything other than subjective. (http://rationalwiki.org...)
The philosophized notion that right and wrong are not absolute values, but are personalized according to the individual and his or her circumstances or cultural orientation. It can be used positively to effect change in the law (e.g., promoting tolerance for other customs or lifestyles) or negatively as a means to attempt justification for wrongdoing or lawbreaking. (http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com...)
If there are any questions or objections to a definition, please contact me in the comment section. I look forward to a great debate.
I graciously accept, and thank Pro for starting this debate. I look forward to seeing further arguments.
Just to be clear could you restate the definition? As you seem to have a change of mind in the comments section.
Second, I'm sorry for the misunderstanding, But I corrected the Definitions in the debate itself, and now the correct ones are there. The issue was with the definition of morality, which was corrected to:
a code of conduct that, given specified conditions, would be put forward by all rational persons(http://plato.stanford.edu...)
Now, on with the debate.
Subjective morality, as defined in round one, is shown throughout the modern world, and even in the past. We need look no farther than the "big issues" bar to the left of the screen. On this, we see topics such as abortion, animal rights, and Barack Obama. Each of us holds a different moral standpoint on each of the topics.
To get a true view of subjective morality, we must move outside our small piece of the world, and examine the world as a whole. One major issue that the world is facing at the current moment is the threat of ISIS. Most would not approve of their methods and motives in many of the western countries, but this idea is not shared throughout the world. The approval rating of ISIS in some countries from around the globe is as follows:
France: 16% (http://townhall.com...)
Saudi Arabia - 5% support ISIS 17% Fairly Negative 73% Very Negative 3% Don"t Know 2% Very Positive, 3% Fairly Positive 3% No Answer
Egypt - 3% support ISIS 3% Fairly Negative 82% Very Negative 5% Don"t Know 6% No Answer
Lebanon - 0% support ISIS 1% Fairly Negative 99% Very Negative 1% Very Positive, 2% Fairly Positive 1% Fairly Positive 2% Fairly Negative 97% Very Negative (http://www.slideshare.net...)
These statistics show that even on topics that seem incredibly certain to most, some still form their moral beliefs of a certain topic that go against what is held by most other logical people.
For another terrible example, we can also look at honor killings, which are killing of young people, most often women, because of the following: "Their motivation is different and based on codes of morality and behavior that typify some cultures, often reinforced by fundamentalist religious dictates." (http://goo.gl......) In most western countries this is considered a crime of the worst kind, but in 2000, the UN estimated that approximately 5000 honor killings happen each year. (http://www.unfpa.org...)
We see complete opposites of morality in each area of the globe, but that does not mean that there are no similarities between many of them. Most cultures (not all) agree that murder, theft, and rape are bad,(note most, not all) but this simply comes from a logical assessment of situations. In nearly every situation, Killing another member of the society is harmful. This is not universal morality, simply A conclusion that many cultures have come to a similar conclusion on. This is contradicted both by the honor killings in Arab nations (as stated above) and even in the act of dueling that was acceptable until the mid 19th century. (http://www.pbs.org...)
Morality in itself is a hard theory to grasp. It is tied with ethical conduct, religious practice, and perspectives of the natural world. By the definition, as stated above, morality only need to be conduct agreed upon by group of rational people.
A. Need to distinguish between rational and irrational people.
First we must examine what people are rational versus those that are irrational. Simply put, if you follow the moral code you are not irrational . Therefore irrationality falls into people that do not follow the morality, or are incapable of coming to a rational conclusion, usually due to some psychological illness.
This, however, does not mean that those who won’t follow the code of conduct don’t recognize that it is immoral. A less severe example would be tobacco smoking. It is a fact that smoking is hazardous to someone’s health and that it can lead to outcomes of death [2, 3]. However, that does not stop many from smoking tobacco cigarettes, because they have acknowledged the facts and are not concerned of the risk. Therefore, objective morality does not require that all people follow the conduct, but that they realize within the situation that actions against the code are wrong (immoral).
Furthermore those that are “irrational” due to mental disorder are not able to follow rational system: a process that uses both analysis and intuition to relay information . As rational thought will relay some sort of self-preservation and self-happiness based on established laws/rules, those who cannot go through similar processes will not be judged by the moral conduct because they are not part of the system that agreed upon the code . In short, you are not a part of the rational system that makes the moral code if you are incapable of rational process.
B. There is a misconception between subjective and semantics.
1. Subjective morality arises within situational bounds related to nature/universe.
Once upon a time human beings followed evolutionary constraints in nature. Some of those natural habits and instincts remain within our core psychology. These interactions, are based on resources and survival of self, as well as species. These interactions can be both positive and negative, and are as follows: predation, competition, commensalism, and mutualism . So while one may argue that killing your own species is morally wrong, subjectively in nature there is justification for this, which usually boils down to available resources and ensuring the passing of genes . So while we may think terrorism is bad, some would see it as natural competition, or patriotism (essentially survival of same kind). However, what do we do with the “grey” areas. The issues that don’t really fit within the above constraints? We simply deflect, deny or argue semantics to justify the action even though it is immoral.
2. Rape justification argues about semantics of rape rather than morality.
One of the main semantics is about the definition of rape. Current definition states “The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim” .
Despite this definition, some of the same defense mechanisms are utilized by those that do not want to be considered a rapist. Briefly, these mechanisms involve: blame of victim’s profession or sexuality, prior consent (no take backs), alcohol intoxication, or worse dehumanization [9, 10]. All these measures are about denying the fact that the person committed rape against another human being, rather than saying that rape is not immoral. In so doing, many people fall into the trap of calling the actual act of rape a subjective issue when it is quite objectively a “bad thing,” which is why one goes through so much trouble to deny their actions count as rape.
3. Pedophilia is punished amongst criminals.
Pedophilia is another grey area as more and more research is being conducted. Many pedophiles argue that it is a sexual orientation to have preference for younger age, and that it is about emotional connection, as well as, platonic relationships with children . Although some commit sexual offense, the pedophile themselves do not see it as harm to the child but a relationship to prepubescent human being [12, 13]. However, according to dogma, many are still punished when they enter a prison environment. Even amongst adult rapist, killers and thieves, sexual relationships with a child is seen as a worse crime [14, 15]. As the punishment is usually death or rape in prison, it would seem that there is a general consensus that does not condone sexual deviance with a child.
C. Rape justification methods do not apply to rape of an infant.
As before, I expressed rape itself was an immoral act that did not follow constraints of subjectivity. To eliminate possible justifications we must look at a case that cannot be twisted by semantics. The infant cannot express consent, therefore, by definition, any sexual penetration or act is rape. While I have stated some natural justification for killing youth, raping an infant has no biological, emotional, or psychological excuse for a rational person.
Now there are different age groups of infant, toddler, to adolescence . Also, it is difficult to pinpoint exact statistics of age groups, since most studies group infant, toddler, and preschoolers as less than 6 years of age [17, 18]. But I digress, the point of the issue is that these offenders will see the child as “pure,” and state that they are in a loving relationship as if they would be with an adult . Child offenders are deflecting their actions and they are conducting themselves against rational thought, as I stated before an infant cannot, in any way, be confused or determined psychologically capable or mature to be in such a relationship by a rational person.
In fact, the cases that have involved child abuse of an infant, the offender has a mental disorder (irrational person) that they state caused their actions [20, 21]. That is the only defense that a rational jury will hear because, as I stated before, the only people that are condemned for disobeying a moral code are able minded people that act irrationally (those who smoke tobacco despite the risk). Therefore, the act itself is seen as bad; if committed it is undoubtedly wrong, and the only defense one would have is to state that they are not a rational person.
Unfortunately I will have to post my sources in the comment section as they go over the limit of characters.
"Having the ability to reason or think about things clearly." (http://www.merriam-webster.com...)
It could be argued that a vast majority of the worlds population is rational. Within the "rational" part of the population, there are still many variations in the morals accepted by various cultures. The number of people that are irrational in any given society can be counted as only a minor factor, and thus all but forgotten when examining the moral beliefs of nations as a whole, as most do not suffer from mental disorders that affect their ability to make rational decisions. When this is taken into account, we see vast differences in the morals of the world.
In your second point, you assert that acts such as terrorism are objectively immoral, as they cannot be justified. Terrorism is justified by those who participate as the most rational way to further their agenda. They are (usually) equipped to fight a full war, so they use guerrilla-like methods and scare tactics. While the murder of innocent civilians is seen by most western societies as immoral, other see it as a necessary act to achieve an end goal.
(Disclaimer: I do NOT support terrorism in any way, shape, or form.)
In your next argument, you state that rape is immoral, and justification of it is purely semantics. You did not provide any information showing that rape is objectively immoral, but merely began with the assumption. The immorality of rape can easily be dismissed as a subjective belief that is commonly held, though some would disagree with the moral.
Allow me to add an example. Imagine we are at a restaurant. We have the option to order a hot dog, hamburger, or french fries. If we both order the french fries, is it true that they are better than the alternatives? No. This is just a belief that is held in common by the majority. The person at the next table may look over and see the french fries, and laugh at their inferiority to his hamburger.
The final point made is the point of the tobacco smoker. You state that he is irrational for smoking, and does it despite the negative effects. This is ignoring factors such as addiction, which is:
"...A primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors."
There are countless factors that contribute to the gigantic smoking industry we see today, and it is not all willful ignorance, as often not smoking can seem worse to the smoker than continuing.
While my time that was allocated for debate is nearly over, I would still like to present a few more arguments. The first argument I would like to present is the is-ought gap presented by David Hume. He describes his observations as follows:
"In every system of morality, which I have hitherto met with, I have always remark"d that the author proceeds for some time in the ordinary way of reasoning, and establishes the being of a God, or makes observations concerning human affairs, when of a sudden I am surpriz"d to find, that instead of the usual copulations of propositions, is and is not, I meet with no proposition that is not connected with an ought, or an ought not. This change is imperceptible; but is, however, of the last consequence. For as this ought, or ought not, expresses some new relation or affirmation, "tis necessary that it shou"d be observ"d and explain"d; and at the same time that a reason shou"d be given, for what seems altogether inconceivable, how this new relation can be a deduction from others, which are entirely different from it."
We can draw conclusions, such as "the homeless ought to have enough to survive," or "the young ought to help the elderly." We draw our conclusions from our observations. In order to state these things, we must assume that it is moral for the homeless to have enough to survive, and for the elderly to have assistance. We cannot say objectively that the homeless and the elderly should be helped, we assume it because it appears to be the best course of action according to our beliefs. Put simply, there is nothing in "is" to determine "ought."
I would also like to point out the ability of two rational people to come to two rational conclusions that are on opposite sides in moral terms. Examine the question "is it moral to eat farm raised cows?" Person #1 may argue that A human"s well being is more important than the cows, while person #2 would argue that it is immoral to place a human life over a cow"s. Both of these people can come to their conclusions rationally, but they completely contradict each other.
Pro has vastly misinterpreted my arguments, therefore I will quickly clarify some key points.
1. Rational versus irrational process and effects on objectivity.
In my argument (A) I stated that there are two types of irrational people that cannot be used as an example for proof of subjectivity about an objective code. The first, was about mental defects, which affect a person’s rational thought process and reality . The second type of irrational person was defined as a person that can conduct rational thought but still deviates from the moral code. However, just because this person’s mind can conduct rationally, does not mean that their decision was rational, nor does it mean that a fact that they act against is any less valid. By Pro’s own source, any “rational person in any society, even one that has a defective morality, can know the general kinds of actions that morality prohibits, requires, discourages, encourages, and allows” . Meaning even though this person deviates from a code or fact, does not mean that they do not recognize that any deviation is prohibited or discouraged by the code/fact.
Hence my example of the smoker. As stated before, a rational person goes through rational process, by assessing risk-reward, based on a self-preservation and happiness model. Those that choose a clearly nonoptimal decision are therefore deemed irrational [3,4]. In the case of the smoker, as shown previously, it is a known fact that risk of smoking far outweighs the any prolonged benefit. Even if a person is “clear” thinking, they make an irrational decision to start smoking in the first place. In light of this decision, smoking is still objectively hazardous to one’s health.
Furthermore, I realize that smoking is addictive, however you must consider the onset of addiction. The most current research shows that even though nicotine addiction can occur sooner than years of abuse, it still takes weeks to months to develop symptoms correlated with addiction [5,6]. Thus, the person, by smoking more than once, irrationally made the decision to become a novel smoker to chronic smoker.
Pro also states that there are multiple factors that contribute to smoking. Whether it is peer pressure, marketing, or family history these components become stressful on a person, and it has been shown that stress can change your brain and decision making process . By Pro’s definition, the person is not thinking “clearly” and can therefore be considered irrational. Thus this person would not affect the defining definition of what is moral.
2. Subjectivity is spawned by nature and meaningful purpose.
As stated previously, I state that subjectivity is based on elements that are found in nature/universe, and a conclusion to a certain situation can vary based on meaningful purpose. I used terrorism to state that it is subjective; while some may think that it is bad, it has meaningful purpose for some through fighting for resources, or patriotism (nepotism). I use this to explain why some may find death or killing of our species as a subjective matter based on situation. That is why I immediately claim that stealing, lying, cheating, and killing are all subjective matters, therefore it would do no good for me to further discuss them if I am trying to show objective morality does exist.
3. Burden of proof lies with Pro.
Briefly I will outline some logic:
If you say that objective morality does not exist (there is not a factual consensus) then you are implying that all situations have an opposing subjective conclusion. Thus if I were to outline a situation, then it should be up to you to show that there are opposing conclusions.
The act of raping a human being has always been punished, and criminalized [8, 9]. However, much of the debate about rape is whether or not rape was committed (see B.2.); and many try to justify rape by arguing the semantics of the outfit or intoxication of the victim, or if the offender considers the victim a human being [10, 11]. Once it is agreed as rape, then it is bad, and there are consequences or at the very least, negative thoughts about the person that committed these acts. In addition, as I stated before, just because a person, without mental defect, acts against the moral code and conducts rape, does not mean that they do not recognize that raping another human being is immoral, or elicits punishment.
4. Pro completely drops one of my contentions: Rape of an infant is objectively a negative (immoral) action.
As I stated previously, human infant, cannot consent to any sexual activity, therefore any sexual penetration or act counts as rape. Therefore, rape justifications (semantics) cannot be used in any situation.
As I stated previously, it is Pro’s BOP to show that rape of an infant is not seen as factually bad, therefore an immoral act. To highlight this in the last round I even showed how, even amongst other criminals, child molesters are physically or verbally abused. I also stated that while pedophiles are about loving children as if they are in a relationship with an adult, the infant cannot meet any of these requirements and becomes object rather than person, therefore the pedophile becomes an irrational person .
If you are not satisfied with that I will give you some other cases, where conviction sentences are pushed to extremes:
A man in Ohio was sentenced to death by euthanasia for the rape and death of a 6 month old girl, despite his pleas that he was intoxicated . Jose Luis Aguilar, was asked to be sentenced 40 years over the regular sentencing of his charged crime for death and rape of Serenity Reedy . A man that abused 13 infants was seen as committing “unspeakable crimes,” which is clearly a negative connotation . A judge called stated this offender, “had no limit to the darkness in his heart,” which is another negative connotation pointing toward the act being immoral . When asked to comment about popular notion in prison, many wardens believe that most inmates will see child (not solely infant) abuse as appalling . These are clear examples of a reality, that sexual violation of a child, especially infants, is a heinous, negative, unjust act that does not contain a positive or justifying element.
5. David Hume applies to social concepts that deviate from nature.
Simply put, if you are going to talk about money and health there is going to be an is/ought dichotomy, because money is a man made concept that does not always follow natural bounds. This does not mean however that every situation contains a natural fallacy. Also Hume creates a false dilemma, stating that two separate scenarios must either converge on what is and ought to be moral or it is not moral at all. However, whenever these “moral dilemmas” are addressed many have invalid comparisons for morality; simply we believe that two scenarios are equivalent and must have the same moral decision . This does not work since there are multiple levels and types of morality.
In the case of infant rape, it is not a good thing to do; it is not practiced in nature amongst other animals, and it should (ought) not be done. I ask that Pro define a situation in which infant rape would have a moral dilemma; and then I will further my arguments on that assessment.
WaywardSon forfeited this round.
Note to voters: My opponent has placed their Round 4 arguments in the comment section. Please take the time to read it.
1. Pro makes unsupported claims about Smokers.
Briefly, Pro states that “The decision is only irrational for the smoker if the long term effects outweigh the smoker’s enjoyment of smoking, which, to most smokers, it does not. While most [non-smokers/smokers/?] acknowledge the long term effects of smoking as worse for [their] well being than the short term happiness and stress relief that can come from it, smokers have come to a different conclusion…” What I draw from this is that most smokers have a better short term happiness in opposition to long term effects, yet Pro does not put in any statistics to support this claim.
In fact it would seem that, many smokers have always wanted to quit, 9 out of ten smokers would state that if they could go back they would not have started. They also show that a higher percentage of smokers are depressed clinically and, despite Pro’s claim that smoking would be stress relieving, they are less likely to report positive emotions: including happiness, respect, etc [1-4]. Thus there is no direct evidence showing smoking actually helps to improve positive emotion. Also, I can flip Pro’s earlier argument and state that after the initial irrationality of new smoking for a couple of days, smokers are then less likely to quit because of addiction.
2. Pro commits slippery slope fallacy for his example of rape acceptance.
While I have pointed out a source that overtly condemns rape, such as:
“If in the field the man finds the girl who is engaged, and the man forces her and lies with her, then only the man who lies with her shall die...Rape is an immoral act that goes directly against the command of God and His perfect moral law.” Deuteronomy 22:25-29 
There is no mention of rape in Pro’s source, and the argument relies on assumptions and syllogism, stating that rape would be the natural conclusion, as discussed in an article by debunked evil . Furthermore, as I discuss below, I use rape as a tool to set up an objective situation (infant rape) which would have one conclusion.
3. Pro is shifting burden of proof, and contradicting the established definitions.
Pro is ignoring the definitions posted in Argument 1. All that is required for something to be moral (or immoral) is a condition that would be put forward by all rational people (a consensus) based on a given situation; thus it allows the premise “it is bad for a person to rape an infant.” So by definition of that morality, the act of rape against an infant becomes immoral, since it defies the moral code.
Even Pro implies that all rational people would state that infant rape is bad, therefore we have our morality. If you are arguing that morality cannot be determined by any consensus then you are essentially stating that neither subjective or objective morality cannot exist, as morality is defined by “all rational people”. Additionally, if all people went in and only got chocolate chip cookies because it brings them the most happiness, then by default it becomes factual that the chocolate chip cookie is the best cookie.
If you are to state that objective morality does not exist, then for any given situation you should be able to find a divergent perspective justifying or condemning an act. I state that subjectivity is composed of meaningful purpose to humanity, and symbiotic correlations.
Why is death/killing another human subjective? Because people can find scenarios where it becomes necessary and these have ties within nature: as see with lions killing cubs, cannibalism, etc. It is archaic nature to have deadly interactions as we attempt to coexist. However, if we were to consider a an organism’s purposeful extinction of its entire species, then clearly that would not share the same subjectivity and it defies the laws of biology as well.
4. Raping of a prepubescent child (including infant) has factual evidence of physical and psychological harm.
a. Physical effects can be detrimental:
In the worse case scenario, full penetration, the older the victim is, the more likely they will survive from full physical trauma. If vaginal penetration is conducted, there will be severe genital and internal injury, including tearing of the vaginal and hymen, rupturing of vessels, and potential closed fractures of pelvic bone. Anal penetration destroys perineum, and causes anemia. Abuse is so traumatic that it is believed many victims will lose consciousness, and that they will require extensive internal surgery to reconstruct a completely distorted anatomy [7-9]. It is suspected that higher percentage of infants will die from abuse, and neglect, in comparison to their older counterparts .
b. Psychological effects:
Briefly, there are also long-lasting psychological issues that will arise, that both harms society as well as the individual, which include but are not limited to: decreased sexual function, PTSD, revictimization, and many more [11, 12]. Biologically this is unfavorable too; given the physical and psychological effects, the victim would be less likely to pass on genes. This goes against the main purposes of evolution and rights of humanity.
5. Nature implies more reason for immorality of rape.
Briefly there are some animals, where the females have developed specialized genitalia to discourage and prevent aggressive or forcible mating [13, 14]. It has been observed that access to the vulva and subsequent copulation was facilitated by the female, thus limiting the risk of more physical harm or intimidation. The females were also able to selectively choose a mate. While this may seem like a red herring, I would argue that humanity’s greatest evolution was our mind. As we have not developed physiological barriers, we have the capacity and empathy to realize the harms and maliciousness of rape, and as a species have realized that it is an unfavorable act for the victim, as well as malintent for the abuser.
Again, I will not allow pride to be in the way. Con has clearly supported his claims much better than I have in this debate. This has been a wonderful learning experience and It has also been great fun. I would urge everyone to consider the arguments of this debate, and vote how you will.
Finally, I would like to thank con for this debate. As I said before, it was great fun. I hope to meet you again in the future when, hopefully, I am more prepared to debate a topic(though the science and religion categories are what interest me most).
Out of pure respect for my opponent I will only acknowledge his honor and honesty to keep an open mind. I want Pro to know that I hold him in the highest regards, and I appreciate the time he has taken to debate me. I hope to see you in the future WaywardSon, and hopefully we can grow and become stronger together.
To the voters, I ask that you do not dismiss my opponent's actions as a forfeit but rather an opportunity to give constructive feedback so that he, and myself, may learn from this experience.
Thank you all, and forever keep a fluid mind as well as a drive for knowledge.
P.S. WaywardSon I will be adding you as a friend after this is posted. If you would like to talk about this debate more, feel free to message me. I hope all goes well in your life from here on.
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