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On Balance Humans Should Adopt Ethical Egoism as a Worldview

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Voting Style: Open Point System: Select Winner
Started: 1/9/2016 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,753 times Debate No: 84770
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (32)
Votes (3)




Accept in comments. If you accept without my permission, you will suffer a full forfeit

Full Resolution - On Balance Humans Should Adopt Ethical Egoism as a Worldview


On Balance - With all things considered or being taken into account

Adopt - Take up or start to use or follow

Ethical Egoism - (1)Normative ethical position that moral agents ought to do what is in their own self-interest
Ethical Egoism - (2)

Worldview - A particular philosophy of life or conception of the world.


First round is acceptance and no new arguments in the last round


1. No forfeits
2. Any citations or foot/endnotes must be provided in the text of the debate
3. No new arguments in the final round
4. No trolling
5. No semantics
6. My opponent accepts all definitions and waives his/her right to add definitions
7. Violation of any of these rules or of any of the R1 set-up merits a loss.
8. No "K's" on the topic.


Debate Round No. 1


1) Consistent Ethical System

The one thing Ethical Egoism offers is a practical worldview which establishes a constant and consistent ethical system. Ethics is just not something we should know, it's something we have to know. Ethics is engraved in our day to day lives and sets up a framework and foundation for how we decide to make choices as we go about our lives. An ethical system can be deemed as what is the "norm" for most people, and it even helps establish what is "good" and "bad" in some cases. The very framework for ethics and ethical decision making relies on weighing choices and decisions[1]. The very concept at it's core on a normative level requires us to discard "bad" choices and in turn try to make "good" choices. This extends and goes even further insofar as gauging what is rational and what is reasonable. What Ethical Egoism offers is a consistent world view that is very easy to understand. It urges us to act in our self interest, and scale that proportionally.

1A) Acting in a way that benefits society as a whole, benefits you

A good way to weigh this is the "gain vs burden" aspect of this. In this debate it actually goes a little farther and would break down in a syllogism like this

P1) If people acted in their own self interest, it would be a benefit to humanity
P2) People ought to act in ways that are a benefit to humanity
C) Ethical Egoism is a benefit to humanity

or even this

P1) Egoism promotes acting in your best interest
P2) Acting in a way that benefits society is in your best interest
C) Egoism promotes acting in a way that benefits society

Most ethical systems rely on Utilitarian principles in order to gauge and weigh certain factors. Ethical Egoism is a very simplistic way to measure and outline a good ethical system. When you start gauging actions and moral codes by Utilitarian principles, you will often see the result being conflict. You can scale this backwards and look at any war we have ever had, and most have occurred because of a difference in ethics and morals. This can be a result of religion, moral guidelines, or many other issues [2].

We as sentient beings have the ability to rationalize and think. We are aware of when people hurt, we are aware of when it's "bad" to do certain things. Bad is a lose term but it can be summed up pretty easily. If you act in a way that harms, society, you in turn then harm yourself. If everyone went around stealing , looting, and pillaging because it was in their own best interest, society would relapse and then collapse due to lack of structure. Logically as sentient beings we can conclude that this is not the best course of action. We can conclude that and decide that this course of action would harm society as a whole, and in turn it would harm us as well. It provides a consistent world view by promoting the betterment of society in a way that is a net benefit to you as well. If you act in ways that would erode or corrode society and how it operates, you in turn would damage yourself. This framework is consistent in making humanity a better place overall, and helping establish a consistent and constant moral framework.

1B) Damage from a non consistent ethical system

When you have the status quo, which is what we have now. We see differing worldviews and different ethical systems where people interpret morality in any way that they want. There is no way to avoid conflicts with this, and as previously stated this can cause conflict. This can cause wars, it can cause harm, and it can cause many other issues due to people interpreting morality and ethics however they want. We see this throughout human history, and even in modern society. People enter into conflict because they don't understand each other, and because they have a different view of ethics and morals that justifies them entering into that conflict.

This often leads to a lack of understanding each other which is the prime motivator of conflict. This is a truism in both the past and the present. People attack others because they don't understand what other person believe or understand their viewpoint. If we understood each other, and acted under one ethical system it would drastically mitigate conflict. This is not a pure perfect way to end conflict, but it would drastically mitigate it.

To go even further with this while a great deal of conflict, as I said is caused by misunderstanding. Another prime motivator in conflict is a clash of ethics. Any conflict you can think of generally applies this concept to it in some degree. Jihad for example, being the "poster child" for what happens when there is a clash of ethics. Muslims that are extremest use their ethical belief structure to specifically not understand others and then it clashes with other peoples ethical guidelines which in turn leads to conflict. Think back to when people were invading the middle east for oil, again war spawned due to a clash of ethics. The Persian Civil War, The Mongol Conquests, and even the War of Three Kings all spawned due to a conflict in ethical views. Think of some that happened recently. WWII being another major war where one person sought to rule and conquer under his own ethical views. The civil war is what happens when there is a clash in ethics even in a united front. Differing ethical views is a huge part of why there is conflict, and is a primary reason why having a united ethical worldview would better serve humanity

2) It's moral to act in our own self interests

We as humans have a common goal, and that is to die. We are born to live and then to die. What we do within that time and how we act is entirely dependent on our moral and ontological principles. Our goal as a species is to live, and to live in the best possible way. How we define the best possibly way is entirely dependent on our worldview. We always have and will act in ways that advance our own self interests. The ability to make rational choices shows that we as sentient beings have options in the choices we make, and that we can choose alternative pathways in the choices that we decide to make. There are reciprocating factors in those choices that occur as a direct result of them, which are consequences. The branch of ethical egoism i'm proposing is a branch of consequentialism. If we look at our hedonistic desires, it's often measured against the consequences of our actions. If we steal something and get caught, we are not prone to do it because of the consequence. However if we can steal and get away with it, it furthers our well being and maximizes our own self interest and hedonistic desires. So is it immoral to steal when you could get away with it? You then have to way the action of stealing against the impacts it has on you and society. Imagine if we could all steal and get away with it. We would corrode society and destroy it (this ties into 1A).

We have an will always act in ways that promotes our own well being and interest. If we give money to someone that is in need, we get a sense of self worth. We fall in love and offer full devotion to the person that we love, for the love that is given in return. We are sentient beings that live and seek out the need for pleasure. It should be our goal to maximize that pleasure as much as possible while we can and before we die, as long as it's within reasons and weighs properly against the consequences of our actions. As I mentioned in before this there is no way to establish a ethical system that covers every possible loophole, and helps people act in a way that would always benefit humanity. What we can do however is outline a system, that helps mitigate harm severely by using Egoism under the outline consequentialism.

Ayn Rand lays out an example of this

Pretend you have a wife dying of cancer. Is it good to spend a fortune to save her when you lose so much in return? Most people would say it's absurd under ethical egoism, but when you weigh that against the psychological impacts it has, and the mental effects it can cause, it makes perfect sense. You are acting in order to help her, but you are also acting in order to prevent yourself harm, which is in your self interest[3]. By saving the person you love, you are also saving yourself. That is in your own self interest.

If you scale this out other under utilitarian ethical systems, it would promote you letting her die and instead saving other people with the money you would use on her. This highlights the flaw in Utilitarian systems as well. Saving other people with your money would not maximize your self interest because those people that you are saving have no value to you. It would also promote the betterment of society because it allows people to act in ways that are compassionate and reasonable. Ethical Egoism not only allows us to maximize our well being, it does so by merging how we act into consequentialism which holds us accountable for our actions and the choices that we make. It we make bad choices it erodes society, which in turn is a net negative because of the foreseeable effects it will have on us.


The normative basis for our ethical system is subjective and dependent on our perception of morality and ethics. This not only leads to conflict but it is a prime motivator in conflict in both the past and the present. Failure to understand each other causes wars, it causes harm, and it is eroding society. What I'm proposing is an objective ethical system that would greatly mitigate harm and help everyone act in their own interests and through consequentialism act in a way that best benefits society.


[3] The virtue of selfishness: a new concept of egoism - By Ayn Rand


My sole burden of proof in this debate is to demonstrate that humans should *not* adopt ethical egoism as their worldview. I do not need to provide an alternative -- I just need to show that Pro's advocacy is an undesirable idea. That all said, there doesn't seem to be any specification on how I have to use this round, so I'll be presenting my case and then rebutting Pro's case afterwards.


Intellectual honesty requires that if we value our own self-interests, then we must also value the self-interests of others. This is because all human beings are fundamentally the same -- conscious, rational beings with the capacity to experience meaningful pain & pleasure. Therefore, objectively, it makes no sense for any single individual to value his own interests above those of everybody else. The mental states that I subjectively experience are no different than the mental states that every other person subjectively experiences, so there's no rational basis for creating a moral distinction between the two.

In order for the egoist to keep his ethical system consistent with reality, he must value everyone's interests just as much as he values his own -- but at that point, he's no longer an egoist. He's a utilitarian. This is obviously problematic because egoism and utilitarianism are fundamentally incompatible with each other. Under the former, one's own self-interests are valued above everybody else's. Under the latter, everybody's self-interests are valued equally. The two are complete opposites, yet the former devolves into the latter when considered from an objective perspective. Therefore, the equal moral worth of all human beings renders ethical egoism to be a self-refuting and therefore incoherent worldview. Egoism should not be adopted because it is logically inconsistent with objective reality.


(1) Ignore all of the parts where Pro talks about the benefits of a "united" ethical system, because those benefits are completely non-unique to egoism. It's not debatable that the world would be a better place if everyone agreed on everything. But there are a lot of ethical systems out there, and any one of them could suffice as the "united" ethical system -- utilitarianism, Kantian deontology, virtue ethics, natural law ethics, contractualism, or even something as obscure as Levinasian ethics (based in human empathy). Ultimately, this argument still fails to answer the real question: why egoism?

(2) Ironically, Pro uses utilitarian reasoning to show why humans "should" adopt egoism. If he deems utilitarianism to be a sufficient moral framework for evaluating such an important ethical question under, then why shouldn't all moral decisions be evaluated in the same way? Pro's entire case in favor of egoism is contingent upon it being beneficial to society -- thus, Pro is implicitly placing paramount moral value on society's interests, yet egoism maintains that one's own self-interests are of paramount value. Pro's approach in this debate is inconsistent with his own advocacy! He is essentially negating the resolution for me by implying that humans should adopt utilitarianism as a worldview in lieu of egoism.

(3) Of course, I don't agree that society would be better off if everyone was an egoist. It's pretty obvious why this is true: people's self-interests often conflict with each other, and rather than prescribing a cooperative solution to such conflicts, egoism tells all the involved actors to try simultaneously pursuing their interests -- it's survival of the fittest! Needless to say, this sort of widespread Darwinian struggle would destroy the fabric of civilization and be massively detrimental to society.

Pro resorts to a rather strange tactic in order to pre-empt this objection -- he defends something that's definitively NOT egoism. He seems to have come up with some weird hybrid between egoism and Immanuel Kant's "what if everyone did it" test. However, like Pro mentioned, egoism is very simple -- it's nothing more than the doctrine that people should act upon their self-interests; there is no obligation for them to consider what the effects on society would be if everyone did the same, because such considerations are purely hypothetical (and therefore have no real impact on the actor's self-interests).

The resolution specifically requires Pro to stick with ethical egoism, so it is blatantly unfair for him to just switch his advocacy to a radically different ethical system. Look for yourself in the "Ethical Egoism" section of the IEP article he cited in Round 1... there's absolutely nothing which even vaguely resembles his strange Kantian caveat to be found within it. This is unsurprising because egoism, by definition, is fundamentally opposed to valuing societal welfare over individual self-interests. Hold Pro accountable to his own definition, and reject his attempts at shifting his advocacy.


My case shows that egoism is an incoherent worldview as a result of its failure to account for the fundamentally equal moral value of all human beings. Meanwhile, Pro's case in favor of adopting egoism is refuted on every level -- (1) the benefits he attributes to it are entirely non-unique, (2) he implicitly concedes that egoism is an inferior ethical framework to utilitarianism, and (3) his attempts at portraying egoism as socially beneficial rely on a total straw-man of egoism.

The resolution is negated.
Debate Round No. 2



This is sort of troubling because of the route con has chosen to take. The previous round was for him to build a case, which he did not really do. Since the last round of the debate forbids making new arguments, it will be quite hard to offer some rebuttals if he decides to make a case in his next round as that can be misconceived as new arguments being presented. This round should be primarily for rebuttals, but there is not that much to refute. I'll just rebuild on my prior contentions

Con must advocate one of two things in order to win. He must either

(a) Advocate a different Ethical Worldview
(b) Advocate for the status quo

He directly states in his last round, that he does not intend to do (a). The issue with this is that when you are discussing whether or not we *should* engage in certain actions or behaviors(in this debate, whether we *should* alter a mindset/worldview), there is always a net comparison of the benefits between what is being discussed. This means if Con is choosing not to advocate for (a) then by default he is defending (b). Basically to break this down simplistically, when I am advocating for Ethical Egoism, he has to either show a better alternative or agree that the status quo is better. The only way this would not hold true if there was a hypothetical world where no ethical values existed. Since this is about practical application in the world around us it forces him to do one of the two.

The debate is actually broken down to the following phrase.

Is Ethical Egoism better than the actual and current alternative, or is it better than the possible and potential alternatives that are available. The closest con has gotten to actually proposing an alternative is this.

" It's not debatable that the world would be a better place if everyone agreed on everything. But there are a lot of ethical systems out there, and any one of them could suffice as the "united" ethical system -- utilitarianism, Kantian deontology, virtue ethics, natural law ethics, contractualism, or even something as obscure as Levinasian ethics (based in human empathy)"

However this is not achieving (b) because he refuses to take on an advocacy for any of the ones he listed. He is only listing possible alternatives without actually advocating for why they are better. Since Con is refusing to take on a advocacy, we can only assume he is taking on the status quo (which is multiple subjective ethical worldviews varying on the individual). The issue with this path is he is not affirming his end of the burden. He is not actually advocating for the status quo, he is not actually advocating for anything. He is just stating that Ethical Egosim is invalid by making bare assertions while doing nothing to actually support it or provide a better alternative.

R1) Consistent Ethical Systems

I'm quite confused how con decided to take this on. All he does is assert that other Ethical Systems would operate as consistent ethical systems, and that Ethical Egoism is not unique to the contention. Which is kind of true. The issue yet again, is he has not taken on a advocacy. The status quo which he is defending by default, does not operate under a consistent ethical system so it would not be applied to what he is defending. He only lists other ethical systems and says that any of those ethical systems would achieve a consistent world view. That is true but again it's missing the mark

If we take Util for example. Util would achieve a consistent worldview but it would do so in a way that would harm society. Under util we should simply discard the mentally ill, or kill infants due to population control. Just because you achieved a consistent world view, does not make it practical or viable in practice and reality. The reason I'm affirming in favor of Ethical Egoism is because of the potential to reduce harm. It achieves a consistent world view, that would help everyone in the long run. It would help people act in ways that benefits themselves, and through evaluating consequences make choices that in turn would benefit others.

For con to beat this contention he is literally forced to defend (a) and show how under a different ethical system it can be applied in a way that is more beneficial than Ethical Egoism. He has refused to do this and simply asserted that other worldviews achieve the same thing without considering the implications of what he is proposing. Ethical Egoism would reduce harm, reduce war, reduce violence, because you can act in ways that benefit you by weighing the consequences of your actions and how it would affect you. This is covered in the prior round so I won't go back to it much(see above) In short con must propose a different ethical system and advocate for why it's superior and then show it's superior in order to negate this contention. Simply asserting something is not an argument, nor does it refute this contention. He has also refused to argue for (a) so he in turn defaults to (b) which does not allow this contention to be applied because it's entirely based on non consistent world views (the status quo).

R1A) Dichotomy between Ethical Egoism and Util

Con keeps asserting my framework is Util (or util reasoning) which is false. Util by definition requires you to weigh your actions using the weight of choice. Yes it's a form of consequentialism but it's entirely different than Ethical Egosim. The difference lies in the fact that Util requires you to make the best possible choice for society as whole, while Ethical Egoism requires you to make the best possible choice for yourself. What benefits yourself and offers you the most hedonistic pleasure, can often align with what is best for society. Just as what is best for you can often not align with what is best for society. The core foundation for util is advance society, while Ethical Egoism is about advancing yourself. Just because the two often run parallel does not necessitate they are the same.

Take my example from round 1, this is the perfect example that Ayn Rand lays out.

Pretend you have a dying wife. She is laying on a bed and is about to die of cancer. You know you can spend 1 million dollars to save her , but also know you can spend that same 1 million to save 10 other people who are about to die. What is the right thing to do.

Utilitarianism by default would assume the best option is to save the 10, since it's maximizing the well being of everyone as a whole. Egoism would assume that saving the wife is the best option since she is close to you and since saving her would affect you the most. The two are fundamentally different. Just because both can operate under consequentialism, does not mean they are the same thing. There is a fundamental dichotomy. The consequences of you actions are weighted in choices, and since those choices affect you the answers will vary and contrast with utilitarianism.

That is how they contrast so let's see how they align . Let's take for example that if you can steal money and not get caught. If you steal the money, you know you won't get discovered and that you can run away in peace. Under util it's wrong to do this because it affects society negatively. Under Ethical Egoism and under the same logic, it affects society negatively and in turn effects you due to the effects it can have on society. Same outcome, yet still fundamentally different. Just because two Ethical Worldviews can be parallel at certain points does not mean they are fundamentally the same thing.

We live in a society where we *have* to and are *forced* to interact with each other. Finding personal gain in and trying to make sure those interactions benefit yourself is not utilitarianism. On balance the overall net utility of Ethical Egoism is greater than that of Utilitarianism. My adversary has drastically misunderstand what I'm advocating for and is failing to recognize and accept the dichotomy between the two. The primary difference is the source of motivation, and how it results and affects you via the outcome.

I'll leave one last example yet again to show how he is overlapping Util and Ethical Egoism and how he is failing to distinguish between the two.

(1) A rich man who was raised in church was taught that giving in selflessness is the best way to live your life. He donates 1 thousand dollars to "charity z"
(2) A rich man who was never loved seeks desire to be loved, and donates 1 thousand dollars knowing that people will like him if he does it. He donates to "charity z"
(c) The outcome of both men donating is the same, as they both donated the same amount. They both would impact the same amount of lives, and both donations would result in helping others. The motivation for why they donated however is entirely different.

Just because the two outcomes overlap, does not mean they are the same thing.

R2) Intellectual Honesty

You can value yourself more than you value others. You don't have to value others before yourself or equally for society to function. I'm lost as to what con is getting at or trying to say. He just asserts we have to be intellectually honest to be consistent with reality which is not true. You can live in a society where you value yourself over overs and often even see an overlap with the benefit of others because of how it benefits yourself (see above). If I had more space, I would go more in depth with this but it's not required. He says it makes no sense to value yourself above others. Yet if you get to pick whether you or a stranger dies, then you will pick yourself. It's perfectly rational to value your own interests above others. It's perfectly rational and within reality, and even overlaps with benefits to others.


My adversary is affirming the status quo by default and has presented no reason to believe it's better. He is also conflating and overlapping Ethical Egoism with Utilitarianism and failing to distinguish the two. He has presented no case for either, and has merely made assertions.



For the purpose of keeping this debate from becoming more muddled than it already is, I'm going to go ahead and stick with Pro's option B -- defending the status quo. All I have to do to win the debate is show that the status quo is better off than a world in which everyone abides by ethical egoism. That said, Pro clearly loses this debate because of his complete lack of response to some of my major arguments & rebuttals.

Egoism is a self-refuting worldview

Pro spends a massive amount of space describing the differences between egoism and utilitarianism, but I'm not sure why because all that does is re-iterate the impact of this argument. The entire point was that egoism devolves into utilitarianism *despite* the two being total opposites, and therefore it is a self-refuting worldview. Pro misses the point of my argument, instead misconstruing it as some sort of ridiculous equivocation between the two ethical systems based on their societal impacts... or something. I have no idea what he thought I was arguing. But the point is that I wasn't.

Ultimately, as a result of Pro's misunderstanding, he is non-responsive to my reasoning -- all human beings have fundamentally equal moral worth, so there's no rational basis for any single individual to value his own well-being above that of everybody else. From an objective perspective, egoism necessarily collapses into utilitarianism and refutes itself. It is an untenable worldview, and should be rejected in favor of pretty much anything else (which is what happens under the status quo).

Utilitarian framework to affirm Egoism?

Pro doesn't contest this turn at all. Instead, he reinforces it. In Pro's own words: "The reason I'm affirming in favor of Ethical Egoism is because of the potential to reduce harm." As I've already explained, this is paradoxical -- he's conceding that the collective good has paramount moral value, which is completely antithetical to egoism. Since he himself recognizes that the end-goal is to benefit society, then why bother having everyone be an egoist? Why not cut to the chase and just have everyone adopt utilitarianism in the first place? Pro's approach to affirming the resolution inadvertently negates it.

The closest Pro gets to rebutting this is providing a couple of examples where utilitarianism supposedly prescribes net-harmful actions, but they all ignore the "rule" aspect of utilitarianism, which allows for moral constructs like human rights to be justified on the basis of the positive utility they generate. Really, it's rather absurd to believe that an ethical system whose only criterion is "maximizing the collective good" could possibly result in harm to the collective good...

Egoism + Kant =/= Egoism

Even if we grant Pro his paradoxical framework, his victory in this debate depends on showing that egoism is beneficial to society, yet he didn't even bother mentioning the rebuttal where I contested that notion! This basically ensures my victory. As I already explained, his case for egoism being beneficial fails because it relies on a Kantian-hybrid straw-man of egoism.

Meanwhile, I offered some very simple reasoning for why egoism would result in the destruction of civilization -- it obligates everyone to simultaneously pursue their self-interests, whatever they may be, without regard for how it may affect other people. Let the rapist rape, let the thief thieve, and let the murderer murder! As long as the actor determines an action to be in his self-interest, he must go through with it. The resolution can literally be summarized as "everyone should be a psychopath" -- it's quite plain to see that Pro's world is much, much worse off than the status quo.

The resolution remains negated.
Debate Round No. 3



Just for a notation, i'm not allowed to respond to rebuttals that much in this round as I can't present new arguments. Me offering rebuttals to his round is going to open up arguments in my favor, so I'm vaguely going to touch on this due to Con saying he refused to argue for (a) then finally accepting mid debate that is he going to affirm (b).

Why I win this debate

Con has chosen to argue for (b) which is the status quo. Ironically enough he has not built a case for (b) or shown why (b) is more viable than ethical egoism. He makes a brief point about intellectual integrity saying that we should value others equally and not value ourselves more. The issue with this is that (b) is not under a specific moral or ethical framework. It's a melting pot of different ethical systems that causes misunderstandings, leads to wars , etc. Meaning under the status quo one could actually be an egoist, because it's not an objective framework that is being applied. It's entirely subjective based on personal opinion and thought. Con has not even bothered negating any of the points that I brought up about why the status quo is bad. He has basically conceded this entire argument to me. I've effectively established that the status quo causes harm, and he has not bothered to refute it or build a case for why it's better than ethical egoism. For him to even get points on this he would have to show that intellectual integrity which is the only vague point he makes, is being applied objectively across the status quo (it's not) for him to even be granted this point. He pokes at util here and there saying it's a valid ethical system without even defending util while also saying he refuses to defend it.

Most of Cons Case is trying to show that Ethical Egoism would default down to Util, which would then somehow negate it. There is so much wrong with this.

(a) Con grants me that a consistent ethical system would reduce harm. This is implied because he says *any* consistent ethical system would do this. He cites a few ethical systems to reinforce this. So just to clarify ; by saying that *any* ethical system would achieve this goal, he is admitting that a consistent worldview reduces harm

(b) This is problematic for con because it's indirectly affirming that the status quo is harmful. Even if by some hoohaa miracle you decide to award him that ethical egoism somehow defaults down to util (it doesn't) then I still win. He has already conceded that a consistent world view would reduce harm. So *any* consistent worldview would achieve that. Ethical Egoism by definition is a type of worldview and ethical structure.

Under basic logic, con is affirming the status quo yet acknowledging it is harmful. At the bare minimum, I have already shown that the status quo is extremely harmful which was then conceded. Even more than that, he affirms that any consistent ethical system would accomplish reducing harm. He literally has handed me the debate, and even went out of the way to gift wrap it for me. I'm automatically going to win harm just due to a lack of response. Even if you grant him intellectual integrity as a viable point, he would have to have shown that is is applied objectively across the status quo. I'm actually surprised he did not apply this under rule util, instead of deciding mid debate he is going to affirm the status quo where this line of logic cannot even be applied. The status quo does not affirm the betterment of society on a objective level, it's entirely subjective so this entire point about putting others before yourself would only be viable if he placed it under a different ethical system and applied it objectively across the board.

The rest of his case is literally trying to show that Ethical Egoism would default down to Util and negate itself. I went in great detail to show that there is a fundamental difference between the two. Just because you arrive at the same conclusion does not mean the paths are the same or the motivations are the same. The wife scenario literally destroys any resemblance of this being like util, as util would always require you to save the wife. Ethical Egoism literally allows you to operate and make choices that are moral based on *how they affect you*, while still bettering society. Cons inability to differentiate between the two has literally lost him this debate. That and his refusal to even respond to any of the harm arguments I brought up from the status quo

Takeaway points from this debate

(1) Con drops all arguments regarding harm to society
(2) In fact he concedes this argument with the following line

" Ignore all of the parts where Pro talks about the benefits of a "united" ethical system, because those benefits are completely non-unique to egoism. *It's not debatable that the world would be a better place if everyone agreed on everything*. But there are a lot of ethical systems out there, and any one of them could suffice as the "united" ethical system -- utilitarianism, Kantian deontology, virtue ethics, natural law ethics, contractualism, or even something as obscure as Levinasian ethics (based in human empathy). Ultimately, this argument still fails to answer the real question: why egoism?"

Con concedes that a united ethical system would make the world a better place. Yet he affirms the status quo where there is *not* a united ethical system, and which is a miss mesh of different ethical systems. He concedes harm to me

(3) He fails to show that Util and Ethical Egoism are the same thing, or whatever he was seeking to do. While both may reach a similar conclusion, egoism still results in a *different* conclusion with *different* ways in how they arrive at the concussion thus making them fundamentally different. Just because they can overlap does not make them the same. The fact that I accepted that the collective good is a great thing is entirely different than using a Util Framework. It's using consequentalism as a guiding factor. Just because Util and Ethical Egoism both use consequentalism, they are still fundamentally different because util requires you to make non moral choices for the betterment of society, while Egoism operates under what is valuable to you *while overlapping* with what is best for society. His failure to see a distinction hurts him severely. Refer to back to wife with cancer argument. Util requires the betterment of a society as a whole, while egoism requires the selfish desire to make society better because an egoist relies on society

(4) Pros point about intellectual honesty and valuing everyone equally is entirely irrelevant. No one is required under the status quo to value each other equally, anyone could be an egoist. He is saying we *all should* value each other equally, which would require him to support an alternative worldview and have a different ethical system outlined as an alternative. He refused to do this and chose the status quo, and since this point cannot be objectively applied to a subjective system, then we can dismiss it. He can't defend a subjective ethical system like the status quo that is a melting pot of views, and say we should objectively apply a *theory* without advocating for a ethical system that is viable in order to apply it too. It's inconsistent and illogical. No one under the status quo is required to believe that *they should* value others more than themselves. No one is even required to believe that the betterment of society is in their best interest. This entire point is mute due to pro refusing to debate an alternative .

Just as a hypothetical. let's assume you give him (you shouldn't because I destroyed this) that ethical egoism harms intellectual integrity by not valuing others equally. The advocacy he is supporting harms intellectual integreity as well because under his advocacy one is allotted to be an egoist. The debate then defaults down to impacts which he has already conceded to me due to him stating a consistent ethical system would by default reduce harm because everyone would understand each other.

Con ends his round saying that even if we grant me my frame work then I have to show that egoism is beneficial to society, which I have. As he has already conceded that *any* objective ethical system would make society a better place.

I know I've restated these points like three times in this round but it's essential that the voters understand this and why con loses.

This is an easy decision

Thank you con for the debate


Thanks to Pro for an interesting debate.

Pro has staked his prospects of victory upon a very minor concession I made, and that error is what damns him in this debate. Yes, it is true that some amount of societal benefit would result from the disappearance of moral disagreements, but that is outweighed a million times over by all the societal *harms* that egoism brings -- Pro has once again declined to respond to my argument that affirming the resolution would result in the destruction of civilization. He didn't even bother to contest that egoism promotes widespread murder, rape, and theft...

He talks about how there would be fewer wars since some of them are partially caused by moral disagreements, but that analysis neglects the undeniable fact that the vast majority of wars are primarily fought in order to further their instigators' self-interests. It's simply ridiculous to assert that the Middle Eastern oil conflicts, Hitler's expansionism, and the Mongol conquests were more motivated by lofty goals of propagating moral values than they were about securing geopolitical power & material resources. So yes, Pro's advocacy results in the disappearance of moral disagreements, but that benefit is rendered utterly negligible by the fact that his advocacy also results in the unrestrained pursuit of self-interests.

I'm actually glad that Pro didn't even attempt to portray egoism as socially beneficial -- he would have embarrassed himself. There is no tenable case whatsoever in favor of the idea that the world would be a better place if everyone turned into a psychopath. Under Pro's own framework, it is clear that he has lost the debate.

But let's examine some more reasons to vote Con, just for the lulz.

Pro hasn't mentioned my turn on his framework a *single* time throughout this entire debate. Treat that as a concession. Perhaps he thought that if he didn't respond, it would go away. The point stands -- he is placing paramount moral value on maximizing the collective good, which implies that utilitarianism is the correct ethical system. Pro's approach to affirming the resolution inadvertently negates it by indicating that everyone should adopt utilitarianism in lieu of egoism.

As for my argument that egoism is self-refuting, Pro has misunderstood it yet again. It's quite unfortunate, as I was looking forward to seeing a good response to this criticism of egoism. To clarify, I'm not relying on an alternative ethical system in order to make this argument. I'm relying on nothing more than the laws of logic. The fact is that all human beings are fundamentally the same -- conscious, rational entities with the capacity to experience meaningful pain & pleasure -- so all of their self-interests must be valued equally in order to maintain objectivity.

Perhaps the reason why Pro has consistently misunderstood this argument is because I'm not presenting it clearly enough. I have a lot of characters left over, so I'll try formatting this mathematically. Let any given human being = X
Under utilitarianism, all iterations of X are of equal value, as is required by the law of identity. So the data set we'd be working with when making utilitarian moral calculations would look something like this:

X = 100
X = 100
X = 100
X = 100

However, egoism tells you to value yourself above everyone else, despite the fact that you're just another iteration of X
Under egoism, the data set with which moral calculations are made looks more like this:

X = 100
X = 100
X = 1000000
X = 100

Clearly, this disobeys the law of identity. In order to make egoism consistent with reality, we have to correct its data set so that all iterations of X = 100 ... in other words, we have derived utilitarianism from egoism, using nothing more than the most basic of logical axioms. As Pro has helpfully pointed out for us, egoism and utilitarianism are diametric opposites, so the fact that utilitarianism can be derived from egoism renders egoism to be a self-refuting & incoherent worldview which should definitely not be adopted by anyone.

There is no level on which I have not won this debate. Vote Con.
Debate Round No. 4
32 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Jerry947 3 months ago
Nice debate. I find it interesting that Pro thinks that his system is objective.
Posted by Juan_Pablo_4_hillary 3 months ago
"The secret to life is that you have to hang around long enough to get used to it." -Charles Schulz
Posted by Juan_Pablo_4_hillary 3 months ago
I enjoyed this debate. I agreed with a lot of what Mikal had to say; the problem of course is that selfishness can be destructive to the interests of others, though I'm not convinced this can be completely avoided (not likely, when you look at the stark social contrasts and political perspectives/interests within our own American society). But clearly some compromise is going to be required to establish a working, cooperative democracy and world.

Ethical egoism clearly has a place in our lives and in our choices, but it's a road fraught with problems, and can also undermine our civilization. I'm afraid this issue truly reflects the complexity of our world and of human life in general.
Posted by Maikuru 1 year ago
My schedule is so crazy right now. I'm going to try!
Posted by Maikuru 1 year ago
Reminding myself to vote on this.
Posted by Hayd 1 year ago
Great debate, will get a vote in soon, maybe by this weekend.
Posted by donald.keller 1 year ago
The Voter's Union will vote on this debate as well.
Posted by tejretics 1 year ago
I've been requested to vote on this by spacetime- since there's 10 days, I'll probably get a vote up.
Posted by bballcrook21 1 year ago
What exactly is this opt-in system? I thought my RFD was sufficient.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Hayd 1 year ago
Who won the debate:-Vote Checkmark
Reasons for voting decision: Win for Con. Vote provided by Voter's Union.
Vote Placed by FourTrouble 1 year ago
Who won the debate:--
Reasons for voting decision: Most debates on DDO are bad. This one is no exception. In short, it's a tie because neither side amounted to more than bare assertions, unresponsive rebuttals, and incomprehensible distinctions. I like both Mikal and Space, they're cool dudes, but holy fvck did I hate reading this debate. Pro says we should adopt egoism because it minimizes harms. Con says that argument is self-refuting because it devolves into utilitarianism. Con's right that Pro's egoism seems to reduce to utilitarianism. But that alone doesn't make it self-refuting. Utilitarianism isn't inherently self-refuting. The other major clash is over the status quo. Pro says egoism has less conflicts; Con says it has more conflicts. Neither side develops that assertion enough to convince me they're right. Each side conceded things that should have lost them the debate (e.g. Con admits a single worldview would reduce conflict, undermining the status quo; Pro saying his egoism isn't utilitarianism is incoherent, lol).
Vote Placed by tejretics 1 year ago
Who won the debate:-Vote Checkmark
Reasons for voting decision: