Objective morality requires the existence of a god.
Debate Rounds (4)
For the purpose of this debate, I will define objective morality as true moral values that apply regardless of the opinions or beliefs of any human being. I would say any rational being, but then I would be defining objective morality as something that does not depend on a god which would be dishonest since pro is meant to argue that objective morality depends on a god, and most gods are thought to be rational beings.
Round 1: Acceptance only
Round 2: Arguments offered for and against the premise
Round 3: Rebuttals, no new arguments.
Round 4: Closing statement. Rebuttals allowed, no new arguments.
Looking forward to seeing Con's arguments, as atheistic moral realism is a philosophy which I am currently unable to see a tenable case for.
Is an act good because a god deems it so, or does a god approve of it because it is good?
If it is good because god deems it so, then morality has become defined as divine command theory which is to say that whatever a god tells us to do counts as good because he said so. This would mean that rape, murder, torture for fun, etc. would be morally correct if the god tells us to do those things.
If the god approves of it because it is good, then its goodness is independent of the god.
An common defense to this is to say that god's nature is goodness, so what he tells us to do is good not because he decided it, but because his very nature is goodness so anything he tells us to do will be good. This, however just brings us to a second form of the Euthyphro dilemma. Is god's nature good because it is his nature or is it good because it causes him to approve of good acts.
If it is only good because it is his nature, then you are still stuck with the problems seen with divine command theory.
If his nature is good because it causes him to approve of good acts, then that type of nature is good independent of the existence of a god and the acts that are approved would still be approved whether or not he existed.
Thus if objective morality exists, it is either something that is absurd that makes it possible for acts that do nothing but harm to be called righteous acts or it is something independent of a god.
I do not yet have a completely sound argument for objective moral values, but I never claimed that I did. If I did I would have worded the argument as "Objective moral values exist" without reference to a god.
Romanii forfeited this round.
== Pro Case ==
Objective morality is essentially a set of transcendental prescriptive facts regarding the actions of human beings. Just by examining the definition of objective morality, three points in favor of the resolution can be raised.
(1) Atheism mandates physicalism (I will elaborate more on that later, if Con contests it), which means there is no room for transcendental constructs like morality to have any sort of objective existence (as they are inherently non-physical). This is not a problem under theism because God himself isn't physical, and therefore physicalism is obviously false. Moreover, the existence of transcendental concepts must be grounded in the existence of a similarly transcendental source.
(2) The fact that morality only applies to human beings indicates that they have some sort of special status compared to the rest of the inanimate & amoral universe. There is simply no basis for this under atheism, because humans would essential be no more than highly-evolved animals. This is not a problem under theism because, as many religions preach, God could have specially created human beings in his image, thereby granting them their exceptional moral significance.
(3) Prescriptive facts are, by definition, commands on what we should or should not do, and are therefore inherently communicative. However, communication necessarily involves intelligence, implying that the source of prescriptive facts must be an intelligent being of some sort -- i.e. God.
== Con Case ==
Con's fallacy is circular reasoning, as he is already presuming that some sort of objective morality exists independently of God's existence in order to make this argument. Out of the two option presented by the Euthyphro dilemma, I choose the former -- an act is "good" because God deems it so. Con's only objection to that is: "this would mean that rape, murder, torture for fun, etc. would be morally correct if the god tells us to do those things... that makes it possible for acts that do nothing but harm to be called righteous acts". However, there is no real reason to see this as a problem. Con is assuming that his ethical intuitions and utilitarian reasoning hold some sort of objective moral significance -- he is assuming that there is already an objective moral standard in place which can govern whether or not God's commands is "right" or "wrong", yet that is exactly what he has to prove!
I have provided three reasons to believe that objective morality requires the existence of God, while Con has provided a single fallacious argument. The resolution is affirmed.
2) No, it does not. Moral agents are beings who can reason to morality and thus are held accountable for their actions and deserve ethical treatment. Moral patients are beings who can experience suffering but do not understand rationality and thus deserve ethical treatment but are not held to ethical standards. Dogs, chickens, and the severely mentally retarded are moral patients. Fully functional humans and any other beings that are rational (eg Vulcans, Klingons, Ferengi) are moral agents.
3) Demonstrate this. Why must a prescriptive fact be communicated by an intelligent being rather than being discovered?
Your rebuttal to my case is simply defining morality as a supernatural being's will. That is a lexical rebuttal, not a logical one. If you would take the position that a human who has done nothing but harm other sentient beings his entire life has behaved morally, then you have demonstrated a definition for the word that is repugnant to a rational being.
== Pro Case ==
Note that Con does not contest my definition of objective morality.
(1) The alternatives to physicalism are dualism and idealism, both of which involve the existence of a separate "mental substance" which is distinct from matter. Dualism posits that all of reality is made of matter except for human minds, which are composed of the mental substance. However, this view is self-refuting. In order for it to co-exist with the field of neurology, it must involve interaction between the 'substances' of mind and matter, yet because of their fundamentally different metaphysical natures, such interaction is impossible -- it would be like trying to get an alkaline metal to react with a noble gas, except that ontological differences are even "more impossible" to surmount than chemical differences. That leaves us with Idealism, which maintains that all of reality is mental. However, everything which is mental must have a mind behind it, and because we are talking about the entirety of reality, the mind in question would have to either exist independently of reality (in order to mentally project it) or *be* reality itself -- in other words, idealism is contingent on theism/pantheism. So via process of elimination, atheism does, in fact, necessitate physicalism, and therefore this argument stands -- atheism disallows the existence of a transcendental construct like morality.
(2) Con is making the same mistake he made in his main argument. He's putting forth moral claims and expecting us to take them for granted, even though he still hasn't shown that morality exists independently of God. Why should we care if beings can experience suffering or engage in moral reasoning? Why does that grant them any moral significance? Under atheism, suffering, rationality, free will, emotions, etc. are all reduced to nothing more than a meaningless electrochemical reaction in the brain. All we have to work with in determining the parameters of objective morality is our agreed-upon definitions of it -- if you take a look at Con's definition (from Round 1), it specifically singles out human beings, so we can assume that moral constructs tend to revolve around them. Moreover, Con never contested my definition, which explicitly said that morality governs human actions. Thus, objective morality *does* imply that humans have a "special status" setting them apart from the rest of the inanimate & amoral universe. Theism accounts for that, whereas atheism cannot.
(3) Con proposes that prescriptive facts can be "discovered" and therefore don't have to be communicated by an intelligent being. Obviously, Con misunderstood what I was saying. My justification for morality being rooted in an intelligent source had nothing to do with how we come to know about moral facts... it was about how the inherently prescriptive (i.e. communicative) nature of moral facts implies that they are contingent on the existence of an intelligent being.
== Con Case ==
Con's defense of his argument just commits the same fallacy of circular reasoning again. He's assuming that his moral intuitions have objective moral significance in order to prove that objective moral significance can exist without God. This argument should be dismissed.
All three of my arguments in favor of the resolution remain standing, whereas Con's only argument has been debunked.
The resolution is affirmed.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by lannan13 1 year ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Conduct to Con due to Pro's forfeiture. For arguments I'm going to have to award these to Pro. In the first read through I was tempted to almost give it to Con, except for Con not arguing Pro's definition. Not to mention that Con's main point for refuting Pro was "No it's not" which really isn't refutation at all. Pro pratically wins the debate on semantics and since Con didn't provide a definition it permitted Pro to define the word which allowed Pro to debate on his side. For that I have no choice, but to give arguments to Pro.
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