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The Contender
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Objective morality does not exist

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/23/2017 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 11 months ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 452 times Debate No: 101309
Debate Rounds (4)
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This is not only targeted at religious people. I've seen many atheists and agnostics that claim there to be an existence of objective morality. I will argue it's all subjective.

1. Round 1: acceptance,
2. No insults,
3. That's it.


I accept the terms of your debate.
Debate Round No. 1


So I've seen that some prominent atheists like Logicked and Sam Harris believe in objective morality so I wanted to give my own opinion and explain why objective morality does not exist:
1. Not all cultures have the same moral values.
Except for murder, theft and rape, many cultures around the world and throughout history did not share moral values. In fact, in some Islamic countries today (like Egypt and Saudi Arabia) rape is not even seen as a heinous act. Well, under some circumstances it is, but mostly the woman is blamed under the premise that she didn't cover up her ankle or her wrist thus giving the man no other option but to rape her (that's Islamic logic for you).
2. What used to be moral back then isn't moral now.
Slavery used to be seen as moral by many people only 300 years ago. Why? It brought the greatest amount of good to the greatest amount of people at the expense of a smaller number of people. There was also the fact that European, Asian and Arabic anthropology did not recognize black people as humans. Also, people used to think nothing of it when they used to burn, drown or hang people accused of witchcraft since, due to their lack of scientific knowledge, they thought that those really were witches sent by the Devil.

I wanted to put an argument that people later in history may have different morals than us today, but that is an unfounded argument.


Objectivity and subjectivity are mutually exclusive. This is no great mystery, no wild enigma. "America exists". Plainly an objective fact; none but an Eristic would gainsay it. "Cold climates are less tolerable than hot ones". Again, it is easy to see the nature of this statement: it is subjective. One might say it is possible for larger things comprised of many different pieces to contain elements both objective and subjective, but at its core each individual component will be either fundamentally objective or subjective. Here is an example of both paired together: "Strawberry ice cream tastes better because it contains more strawberry flavoring than other flavors". We realize objectively that strawberry ice cream does contain more strawberry flavoring than other flavors, but the conclusion that it tastes better is quintessentially subjective.

Armed with this knowledge, we can conclude that the universe, at it's most basic level, must be, in totality, either subjective or objective. I assume the majority us will agree that the universe is objective, including My Opponent. However, due to reasons that I will expound on shortly, the actually viewpoint taken on this issue is irrelevant.

I imagine what I've divulged so far is not a shocking revelation or a stunning denouement to most of you, and I have not forgotten that I am not here to argue the nature of the universe but rather the nature of morality. That said, this preamble was critical in setting the stage for my premise:

There is no such thing as total subjectivity. It is the existence of real, empirical value that enables personal, subjective interpretations. If there was no real, empirical value, then all personal, subjective interpretations would be equally valid, ergo empirically, objectively correct. In light of all this, since we've demonstrated that a fundamental component can not contain a synthesis of objectivity and subjectivity, and that subjectivity can not exist in the absence of objectivity, we must surmise that subjectivity does not truly exist at all. So much for subjectivity and objectivity.

I have made a sly allusion to Aristotle, and think myself clever, but I shall now reference That Great Philosopher in earnest: "Every art, and every science reduced to a teachable form, and like manner every action and moral choice, aims, it is thought, at some good: for which reason a common and by no means bad description of the chief good is, 'that which all things aim at'."{1} This is in fact, a framework of objective morality based not upon not some arbitrary fabrication, but upon the same foundation that all other objective conclusions are based: logic. We will simplify Aristotle's conclusion, and infer the contrary to create this system:

All things' intended actions, and the intent of those actions, are good

All things' unintended actions, and the consequences of those actions, are bad.

This is a clear, robust system of morality that utilizes critical thinking to delineate, without biases, the good and the bad. The truly elegant thing about this schema is that the principle that underlies it is unassailable, for it is the principle of want.

Now we must speak at some length of want. We will not concern ourselves with where it comes from, or why it exists, as one of these inquiries is commonly known, and the other irrelevant to our argument. We will rather speak of the effect of want. The effect of want is action. Where there is want, there is sure to be action. This truism displays that action is an consequence of want. From this criteria we can infer that an action will always be taken if,

1. It is the individual's most prodigious want
2. It is in the individual's power to perform the action

Arranged as an aphorism, this is clearly an axiom: All things, if it is within their power to do so, will do what they want most. This is what I mean when I say that the principle underlying the aforementioned moral code is unassailable. The authority to assert my conclusion to be an objective moral code stems from the fact that all living beings follow it unerringly.

Here there is an enticing, but specious, counter-argument that is often made concerning contingencies wherein the subject seemingly doesn't follow this principle, e.g. "A man wishes to requite himself violently against his brother, whom he has always despised. His brother lives in the same home as him, and is unaware of the rancorous intentions that his kin has nourished against him. However, despite ample opportunities, the man never harms his brother." The reason this line of thought seems convincing is that most of us can identify with the man. It is very common for people to wish destruction upon others, many of My Audience will no doubt have felt this themselves, but is very rare for people to act upon this. Most are content simply relishing these feelings in secret. Where this rebuttal errs is on the assumption of the priority of the man's want: our principle only affirms that an entity will do whatever it is they want the most. The want of the man to trample upon his brother is being superseded by a greater want, a type of want I like to refer to as a "silent want". These silent wants are wants that manifest themselves as avoidance of certain actions, making them harder to discern. In the case of the man and his brother, the silent want is something like a desire to uphold a moral code, or to avoid reprisal.

Think of it this way: if My Opponent challenges this objective moral code, he is doing what he wants, thereby affirming it and the principle that underlies it. If he doesn't challenge it, then he has still done what he wants, thereby affirming the code!

With all these considerations I think we can recognize the existence of a system of moral objectivity.

{1} Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, pg. 1, CRW Edition
Debate Round No. 2
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Debate Round No. 3
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Debate Round No. 4
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by kikiki 11 months ago
6gty5jf, I'm so sorry dude. The site went down when I tried to post the argument and I didn't have time earlier.
Posted by MakeDebatingGreatAgain 11 months ago
Objective morality exists on certain levels, but does not apply to all aspects of our lives and society.
Posted by canis 12 months ago
Yes. Otherwise I would not comment..
Posted by PGA 12 months ago
"So..We are subjects...Surprice" - Canis

Are your views objective or subjective? Do you know the difference?
Posted by canis 12 months ago
So..We are subjects...Surprice..
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