The Instigator
McMount
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
HeavenlyPanda
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

Our past doesn't define us

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/25/2016 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 9 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 674 times Debate No: 94072
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (12)
Votes (0)

 

McMount

Pro

First round is for acceptance.

My argument is that no matter what we have done in the past, it does not define our present selves. Con must argue that our past explicitly defines who we are at the present moment.

Past: What we have done in the years passed
Present self: The decisions you make now or have made in recent weeks or months

And let's be clear: this debate is not about causality. It's not about the fact that your previous experiences and actions affect the decisions you make now. It's about the justification of other people basing their opinion about you on your past actions.

Good luck to anyone who might agree; I won't hold my breath. If something is unclear, ask in the comments and I'll answer.
HeavenlyPanda

Con

I accept the challenge. Good luck.
Debate Round No. 1
McMount

Pro

Very well, thank you for accepting. Onto the point then.

There are countless cases where people mistakenly blame innocent individuals for actions they did not commit. For example, if a rape lawsuit is publicly charged against a man who has not committed the rape, no matter what the court rules, his life is destroyed. These people have lost their friends and families for the prejudice people have. This sometimes even leads to the individual committing suicide. Here's an article about it: http://www.telegraph.co.uk...

Now, this is a bit odd to take up in a debate about our past actions. But hear me out. The people around the individual under charge have no way of actually knowing if he committed the crime or not. So they play it safe and presume he's guilty. For them, he's damaged goods. They value the man according to his past actions. And this is the matter with most cases, as you can rarely be sure that the accusations made against a certain individual are justified.
Suppose a new girl has arrived at your school. Your friend tells you she was kicked out of her old school for "violent behavior". You hear the same story from multiple people. And you start to presume they're right. You start judge the girl even though you've never even talked. Whereas in reality, the girl could've switched schools because of teasing, and the teasers made sure she's not gonna like it in her new school either. Where is the justification of prejudice in cases like these?

Now, what about an old man who has committed a crime in his 20s. Imagine that he was sentenced to a lifetime of imprisonment from, say, a murder. However, during this time in the prison, he reflects upon himself and his past actions. He realizes his wrongdoing and finds wisdom. Now, he would rather die himself than harm another person, so he is no longer any kind of threat to society. The prison warden acknowledges this, but even though the old man pleas for mercy, he cannot be released due to the court ruling 50+ years ago. What justification is there for society to keep the harmless man in prison for his past actions? Why does our past prevent us from moving forward?

I will now let Con have her opening argument.
HeavenlyPanda

Con

My opponent starts off by giving an article about a man who was accused of rape and his life was ruined. This has little to no relevance with how our past defines us. Then my opponent states a bunch of points based off of "ifs". "Ifs" are not concrete proof. In fact my opponents "ifs" aide my point. Our past does define us. A murderer who murdered in his twenties will be haunted by his past and he will be defined by it. Anybody who wants to hire him will realize he was a murderer.

Our past defines us whether we like it or not. That is why it is crucial we do not make stupid mistakes when we are young. In less harsh circumstances a car accident will raise the car in furnace you have to pay all because of a past mistake. You will not be able to withdraw money from a bank if you have no previous history of withdrawing and depositing. That is why so many widowed women have trouble with banks. They have no history with the banks. A bully will always be seen as a bully in school by those that the bully bullied. Even if the bully changes, the past remains. Our past defines us in most things we do.

Now onto harsher topics. A murder convict is going to have a lot of trouble finding a job. A man who's been accused of rape will lose everything because people will judge him on his past.

http://www.npr.org...
That was an article about how childhood actually can shape adulthood. Having a traumatic experience with water as a child can be the cause of why you're afraid of water as an adult. In fact if you look at the current problems you are facing about yourself currently and then look back at your childhood, you can probably link why you have this problem to something that happened in childhood.
Debate Round No. 2
McMount

Pro

My opponent bases her entire argument on the fact that what has happened in the past affects us in many ways. It seems that she has not properly read or understood what this debate is about. In Round 1 I set terms on this debate and clearly ruled that:
"this debate is not about causality. It's not about the fact that your previous experiences and actions affect the decisions you make now. It's about the justification of other people basing their opinion about you on your past actions."

Still, my opponent argues that:
"That was an article about how childhood actually can shape adulthood. Having a traumatic experience with water as a child can be the cause of why you're afraid of water as an adult."

Perhaps she misunderstood the nature of this debate. This, however, she can clear out next round.

Whereas the debate is about the justification of opinions, my opponent defends her side just by stating that "Our past defines us whether we like it or not." She does not give any actual points or arguments as to why it is justified for other people to judge us by our past actions and decisions. Every point she makes is nothing more than a statement that our past defines us.

"My opponent starts off by giving an article about a man who was accused of rape and his life was ruined. This has little to no relevance with how our past defines us."

The case was an argument to why it is not justified for people to judge you according to your past. So were my hypothetical situations where it is not justified to let someone's past affect your judgement of them.

I am now positive that my opponent has misunderstood the nature of this debate, which I clearly ruled in Round 1. As my opponent neither rebutted any of my arguments nor stated any of her own, I do not see a reason for myself to give more arguments until my opponent has fulfilled any of these parts.
HeavenlyPanda

Con

My opponent starts off by saying that I cannot provide points about how past experiences affect the decisions you make now. Considering that the title of this debate is "Our past doesn't define us" therefore my opponent is for that and I am against that in all aspects. I have protected the past experience part of the debate and my opponent hasn't refuted that. I still stand by my points. Now I shall defend that people judge others based upon ones past.

A murderer who finally is out of jail will not find a job. Why is that? Because on their criminal record, it says they are a murderer. People don't care if you've changed, people don't care if you're different because you were still convicted of murder and nobody is going to hire a murderer. The murderer could have changed into the nicest person in the world but people don't care and will still judge you upon your past. [1] In the article it proves that people will judge you upon your past.

My opponent gives a case that tells of a man accused of rape and was found innocent. This is exactly how the past defines us. Men are convicted of rape and most of the time the conviction is right. It's become a repeating pattern that most people will believe the man is already guilty even before the conviction and they have every right to. The system is based upon logic. To change the system would be to accommodate for men wrongly accused would only help those who actually commit rape. And that is not at all fair to the victim of rape that actually happened.

I now have proved that past experiences, past decisions and people will define you because of your past.

[1] http://www.businessinsider.com...
Debate Round No. 3
McMount

Pro

Despite all my attempts, my opponent has still not understood the nature of this debate. Therefore I have to repeat myself.
My opponent claims that: "Considering that the title of this debate is 'Our past doesn't define us' therefore my opponen is for that and I am against that in all aspects."
That is not how debates even work. In many cases the topic might be too difficult to fit in the title, and thus the person starting the debate explains the topic in detail during the first round. This is what I did. Indeed, the title is "Our past doesn't define us" but in my very first argument (even before Con accepted the challenge) I ruled that the topic of this debate is explicitly, and exclusely "the justification of other people basing their opinion about you on your past actions". My first round text is very short, and the topic is clearly stated. If the opponent has a problem with the topic of the debate, she should have stated it before accepting. One cannot accept a debate and then change the topic for their liking.

As in earlier rounds, my opponent did not present any actual arguments considering the topic of this debate. She bases her argument on the fact that "people will judge you according to your past" and presents an article which supports this. Nor the article or her argument present any points as to why it is justified for a person to be judged according to his/her past. My opponent misses the topic of this debate once again.

In the end my opponent presents an interesting point, one that actually is about this argument. She argues that it is justified to see an accused rapist as a confirmed rapist even before he would have been convicted:

"To change the system would be to accommodate for men wrongly accused would only help those who actually commit rape"

This statement is wrong. I linked an article on the second round which tells a story of a boy falsely accused of rape have his life destroyed completely. He ends up taking his own life. Later on his mother commits suicide as well. There are hundreds, if not thousands of stories like this. Is it right for people to judge you according to your past like this? Changing this would ONLY accommodate for those actually committing the rape? Seriously?

"I have now proven that past experiences, past decisions and people will define you because of your past"
The topic was not to prove they will define you, it was to debate about the justification of people defining you according to your past.

CONCLUSION:

In the 1st round I stated the topic of this argument. My opponent accepted the challenge and its terms, and in the 2nd round I presented arguments supporting my side of the debate. My opponent did not present any rebuttals to my arguments, and instead presented arguments of which none had anything to do with this debate. On the 3rd round I pointed out that my opponent misunderstood the topic of this debate, but she did not fix this, instead sticking to her arguments about a different topic. I see no reason to present any more points, and even if my opponent presents some of her own, it's too late for me to make any rebuttals as this is the final round. Thus, with only myself making any valid arguments, my opponent has lost this debate.

Vote Pro!
HeavenlyPanda

Con

My opponent seems to think that all my arguments are invalid based upon some muddy terms that he/she wrote on round 1. Let me say this again. The topic was "Our past doesn't define us". My opponent is the instigator (for) and I am the contender (against). Therefore I am for our past defining us and my opponent is for our past doesn't define us. If you go to the "start a new debate" link and click the link, the place where you write your topic is labelled "topic". [1] If you click the example, you can see clearly that the topic is the hypothesis of the instigators debate. Therefore, the topic of this debate is "Our past doesn't define us". My opponent so called "terms" are extremely muddy if not, completely contradicting with themselves.

"My argument is that no matter what we have done in the past, it does not define our present selves. Con must argue that our past explicitly defines who we are at the present moment."

That is what the instigator/my opponent wrote in the terms. And that is what I have done and so far my opponent has not refuted any of my points. Then my opponent states his/her other term which completely contradicts the first term.

"And let's be clear: this debate is not about causality. It's not about the fact that your previous experiences and actions affect the decisions you make now. It's about the justification of other people basing their opinion about you on your past actions."

My opponent then states that actually this debate is about people being justified for judging others upon their past. I have been well within the terms of the debate and so far my opponent has not refuted a single point of mine. I explained how past decision effect you in the present, how past experiences effect you in the present and people will judge you by your past. I have explicitly explained how the past defines who we are in the present.

"Con must argue that our past explicitly defines who we are at the present moment."

I have done that, I am not the one in the wrong. The instigator is.

"My argument is that no matter what we have done in the past, it does not define our present selves."

That is what the instigator had to do and so far the instigator has not done it yet. Therefore since it is the end of the debate, the instigator has automatically lost. Now I will explain how it is just to base your judgment upon people's past.

My opponent brings up the fact that a man was accused of rape falsely. The case itself has nothing to do with the past because in the article it never stated that the man had past dealings with sexual assault. This was about the present and the fact that the mans wife lied. The mans wife lied about the rape and the mans life went into ruins, but people are not judging the man based upon his past. They are judging him because the woman made a claim against him. Therefore the case itself has absolutely nothing to do with the topic. My opponent has brought forth the wrong type of justice system article. The topic of men being accused falsely of rape has nothing to do with the topic of "Our past defines us". Men are falsely accused of rape and everyone believes the women because in most cases, men who are convicted are actually rapists. But that isn't technically the mans "past", that is the historical past. If the topic had been "the past defines us" then yes, men's rape cases would fit.

Now it is perfectly just to base your judgement upon someone's past. A murderer who got out of jail recently will be judged by others. Do you call that unjust? That person murdered others and suddenly we should all just let our wariness of them go. What if they murder again? Then we'll be kicking ourselves telling each other "I told you so."

How about terrorists? It is perfectly just to think that Al-Qaeda was bad because of 9/11. If what my opponent says is true, that it's unjust to base your opinion of something upon its past, then when we say Al-Qaeda was bad, were are committing something unjust. If what my opponent says is true, then all those who are in jail should be let free because what they did was in the past and we shouldn't judge them for it. Do you see how absurd that is?

I have stuck to all of my opponents terms. Though my opponent has not stuck to his/hers. My opponent did not refute any of my points even though they were well within the boundaries of the terms. And I am allowed to refute my opponents points because that was not prohibited in the terms. I have explicitly explained how our past defines who we are and I have also explained how it is just to base ones opinion upon someone's past.

[1] http://www.debate.org...
Debate Round No. 4
12 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by BackCommander 9 months ago
BackCommander
This is a common argument amongst teens as they often wish others would refrain from judging them for things they did, instead of things they do. The flaw in their logic (and by extension yours) is that they don't piece together that everything you "do" becomes things you "did." You are both what you do AND what you did. I'll simplify it for you. There are two priests sitting on a bench together. One of these priests joined the church at an early age, his father was a priest, as was his grandfather. He followed in their footsteps and has never done anything one would consider extraordinary. The other priest joined the church much later in life, once he had gotten out of prison for the murder and cannibalistic consumption of his entire family when he was still in his youth.
If what you say is true than these two men are the same person. The past is all that can define you, as time is always moving forward. You're trying to make an argument for whether or not it is MORALLY okay to judge someone based on their past, and you are failing at it. Honestly though, you're muddling in a grey area and trying to label it black or white.
Posted by canis 10 months ago
canis
I am eating pop corn right now. It defines me as one eating pop corn. I am also doing some other stuff that I will not tell anyone. It defines me too. But no one will know.
Yesterday I was eating an apple. it defined me as one eating an apple. I was also doing some other stuff that I will not tell anyone about NOW. It defines me what I just wrote. In a sec. it wont.....
Posted by McMount 10 months ago
McMount
@HeavenlyPanda yes. In the first round I set terms for this debate. If you read it, it clearly states that this argument is not about causality, it's not about the past defining present you. It's about why it is or is not justified to base your opinion of someone according to his/her past. You should've read it more carefully. In debates it's about the terms set before the debate, and these terms make arguments about causality null as it is not what we are debating about.
Posted by HeavenlyPanda 10 months ago
HeavenlyPanda
So we are arguing that it is not just to base your opinion upon someone based off of their past?
Posted by McMount 10 months ago
McMount
@SaxonHammer If the Contender is to lose, I would happily like to argue with you about this topic.
Posted by SaxonHammer 10 months ago
SaxonHammer
Good luck Contender - The statement "Our past doesn't define us" is one I instinctively want to believe.

I won't put any arguments here because I would like to see other's examples - however should you (contender) lose, I will accept the challenge. Yes on the contenders side!

Good luck Instigator - If "Our past doesn't define us" is true then all entities (people) of the world should be able to lay down their past and accept "reality".
Posted by canis 10 months ago
canis
No. Only the present define us...................................................This is now the past..................................
Posted by vi_spex 10 months ago
vi_spex
no matter how much one tries to change the past, it remains unchanged for one to have a past.. -satan
Posted by Furyan5 10 months ago
Furyan5
Basically you saying that people can change.
Posted by vi_spex 10 months ago
vi_spex
i am a healer
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