The Instigator
FMA
Pro (for)
Losing
1 Points
The Contender
whatledge
Con (against)
Winning
10 Points

People are Generally Selfish

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/11/2010 Category: Society
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 5,701 times Debate No: 12742
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (3)

 

FMA

Pro

I believe that society is generally selfish in the sense that the majority of the people only look out for their families/loved ones as well as their own best interests/well being. My opponent does not believe this to be true.
whatledge

Con

Con: i see a homeless guy outside of seven eleven
i give him a few dollars
Pro: okay
i dont
Con: well i dont [pro doesnt]
therefore most people dont [don't give to the homeless]??
Pro: yep

Con: Prove that most people are selfish
Pro: theres too much proof

The above is a copy and paste of a chat I had with Pro. I ask him to defend his statements.

"Selfish" as pro puts it is:

"nobody cares about anyone else pretty much man" and "its about caring about yourself and family"

Again these are direct quotes from a private chat.

With that said, I remind the audience that Pro has the burden of proof.

To keep things balanced, I will argue my case in Round 2.

I await his arguements.
Debate Round No. 1
FMA

Pro

I would like to emphasize the broadness of this subject and how difficult it may be to prove my argument, although in contrast I believe it would be even more so for this sentiment to be proved wrong.

My opponent seems to have a strong belief that the majority of the people in this world do in fact care for each other, while this might be true to an extent, it simply cannot be fact.

Example: A man collapses on the street.

Naturally, a normal person will call an ambulance and seek assistance for this person in need. I would do this as well. In time of crisis people generally band together when the threat of harm or even death is on the horizon. Yes, you don't want to see someone in pain or suffering so you help that person, but does that necessarily mean that you care for that person's (a complete stranger) well being or are you just reacting to your natural instincts? I believe in the latter. I don't want to see that person die, but at the same time I have no affiliation with that person, he is no more than a stranger to me I do not have any real emotions towards his death. Does that make me a selfish person? According to my opponent, yes. This was a factor in my opponents debate.

Excerpt from our private chat:

PRO: do you care about my neighbor if he gets murdered?
CON: of course i do
PRO: lol
PRO: no you dont
CON: someone innocent was killed, do i cry about it?
PRO: yea but it doesnt effect you at all
CON:nah but i feel genuninely sry for them
CON:so what??
CON:i don't get effected
CON: therefore i don't care?

My opponent labeled me a selfish person because I would not be affected by a strangers death. If that is all it takes for me to be "selfish", then the majority of the world is just as guilty.

Which leads me to another argument.

If the majority of people did genuinely care for each other, why is there as much crime as there is now? Why is there as much murder as there is now? Why is there as much rape and theft and all sorts of misconduct going on in society if most people had any sort of genuine interest in the well being of others?

A big testament my notion is poverty and starvation. I'm curious to see how my opponent can argue these statistics.

"At least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day"

80%, that is 8/10 people in the world that are struggling, simply to survive. FACT.

"More than 80 percent of the world's population lives in countries where income differentials are widening"

"The poorest 40 percent of the world's population accounts for 5 percent of global income. The richest 20 percent accounts for three-quarters of world income". FACT.

How can my opponent argue against this ?

"According to UNICEF, 24,000 children die each day due to poverty. And they "die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death." FACT.

Does this not seem to support my claim?

"Almost two in three people lacking access to clean water survive on less than $2 a day, with one in three living on less than $1 a day"

"More than 660 million people without sanitation live on less than $2 a day, and more than 385 million on less than $1 a day"

"1.8 billion people who have access to a water source within 1 kilometre, but not in their house or yard, consume around 20 litres per day. In the United Kingdom the average person uses more than 50 litres of water a day flushing toilets (where average daily water usage is about 150 liters a day. The highest average water use in the world is in the US, at 600 liters day.)"

http://www.globalissues.org...

The basis of my argument revolves around my belief that the majority of people care solely about the well being of themselves and the ones they love. It is natural instinct, even for animals in the wild to protect their families. While there may be people out there that genuinely have an interest in helping others and trying to make this world a better place, they are vastly outnumbered by the people that simply couldn't care less.

I just want to remind my opponent that I am not denying that there are people that do in fact care about society, but the facts simply outweigh his claim that the majority of mankind does indeed care about the well being of others.

I look forward to your response.
whatledge

Con

"I would like to emphasize the broadness of this subject and how difficult it may be to prove my argument, although in contrast I believe it would be even more so for this sentiment to be proved wrong."

Negative proof fallacy. I cannot prove a negative, it is Pro's job as the instigator of a positive claim to satisfy the burden of proof.

"Example: A man collapses on the street."

"Naturally, a normal person will call an ambulance and seek assistance for this person in need."

As defined in Round 1: selfish is defined as "nobody cares about anyone else pretty much man" and "its about caring about yourself and family"

I am confused. Why would you help a man who collapsed on the street? If my opponent was selfish as defined above, his actions of helping the man does not appeal to the former or latter definition.

"In time of crisis people generally band together"

Why would this event be a crisis, if you did not care for the man?

"Yes, you don't want to see someone in pain or suffering so you help that person, but does that necessarily mean that you care for that person's (a complete stranger) well being or are you just reacting to your natural instincts?"

Again, if you did not care about the person, why would you care if he was suffering? Why would you want to help him? Also, if our natural instincts were to help each other, it would mean that we are naturally altruistic, and therefore not generally selfish. This argument only helps con's case.

"I don't want to see that person die, but at the same time I have no affiliation with that person, he is no more than a stranger to me I do not have any real emotions towards his death. Does that make me a selfish person? According to my opponent, yes. This was a factor in my opponents debate."

First, my problem is not that my opponent feels no emotions towards another's death. This debate is focused on the resolution: People are generally selfish ("nobody cares about anyone else pretty much man" and "its about caring about yourself and family"). I will illustrate why the resolution is wrong, later on.

Excerpt from our private chat:

PRO: do you care about my neighbor if he gets murdered?
CON: of course i do
PRO: lol
PRO: no you dont
CON: someone innocent was killed, do i cry about it?
PRO: yea but it doesnt effect you at all
CON:nah but i feel genuninely sry for them
CON:so what??
CON:i don't get effected
CON: therefore i don't care?

"My opponent labeled me a selfish person because I would not be affected by a strangers death. If that is all it takes for me to be "selfish", then the majority of the world is just as guilty."

False, I have labeled by opponent selfish because of this very quote "nobody cares about anyone else pretty much man" and "its about caring about yourself and family". If you read the excerpt, you will see that I do not label him selfish in the interchange at all.

"If the majority of people did genuinely care for each other, why is there as much crime as there is now?"

My opponent is arguing that because there are criminals, most people don't care about one another. It seems as if he believes that criminals represent the majority of society. I don't see the need to address this further.

"A big testament my notion is poverty and starvation. I'm curious to see how my opponent can argue these statistics."

"How can my opponent argue against this ?"

First, I agree that those facts are true (Erased due to character limit).

"Does this not seem to support my claim?"

No, it doesn't. My opponent's argument can be summed up as such,

A: Poverty is prevalent.
B: Therefore, people are generally selfish.

The transition from A to B is a non-sequitur. Poverty is prevalent, but that does not necessarily mean that people do not care about the children, who starve to death. Let me illustrate a simple analogy, just because I am busy studying for a college exam and is unable to help my younger brother's homework, does not mean that I do not care about my younger brother's homework.

Secondly, the cause of poverty isn't due to lack of interest and care. Let us look at another analogy. The desert is dry, the ocean is moist. In effort to make this moisture-deprived desert moist, we take tons of water from the ocean and splash them into the desert. Temporally, the desert will be moist, however, as time passes the moisture condenses and the desert is dry once more. This analogy appeals to aid given by charities to the poor. It temporarily alleviates the problem, but it does not solve it. The lack of interest and selfishness is not the root of poverty.

"The basis of my argument revolves around my belief that the majority of people care solely about the well being of themselves and the ones they love."

It is true that we care about ourselves and our loved ones, however, why is it that we solely (only) care about them?

"It is natural instinct, even for animals in the wild to protect their families."

"…in which an animal sacrifices its own well-being for the benefit of another animal."[1]

http://en.wikipedia.org... [1]

:: Empathy ::

Pro claims that,

"While there may be people out there that genuinely have an interest in helping others and trying to make this world a better place, they are vastly outnumbered by the people that simply couldn't care less."

I challenge this claim. Let us look around at tragedies of the world such as the holocaust, 9/11, the earthquake in Haiti, the hurricanes, and etc. Why is it that we pay our respects to the victims and feel empathy towards them? If people generally appealed to "nobody cares about anyone else pretty much man" and "its about caring about yourself and family", then why do we even acknowledge these tragedies? If no one cared, why are these events mentioned, brought up, and sensitive?

We do generally care for others, and this "care" is not limited to family, or even people for that matter. Let us look at slavery. If all we cared about was ourselves, then why did we bother abolishing slavery? If we did not care for others, why would we care enough to free the slaves? This is true on a universal level.

http://en.wikipedia.org...

A glance at history tells us that we do indeed care for our fellow men.

:: Sheer amount of money donated ::

While the sheer amount of money donated doesn't prove that people care for one another, I do believe it supports the claim.

http://nccsdataweb.urban.org...

The link leads to the number of U.S. charities and how much each faction donated. I urge Pro and the audience to click on a few organizations and skim through the total amount.

:: Religions ::

"Most, if not all, of the world's religions promote altruism as a very important moral value. Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, and Sikhism, etc., place particular emphasis on altruistic morality." [3]

http://en.wikipedia.org... [3]

Easily, more than half of the world population fall under the above listed religions. These religions teach altruism, such as "love thy neighbor". Though the chart is an approximate estimate, 74% of the world appeals to altruistic morality. Add on to that percentage of altruistic atheists and we raise the 74% even higher. [4]

http://www.adherents.com... [4]

That said, it is more likely that people are not generally selfish.

Resolution negated.
Debate Round No. 2
FMA

Pro

Due to me working 47 hours this week (amongst other things) I am unable to sit down and write a response (I'm posting this from work) . I apologize to my opponent and hope to go on to voting with only 1 round of debate.
whatledge

Con

Not a problem.
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by Yurlene 7 years ago
Yurlene
I don't think that its people are generally selfish... Actually, its the people's apathy towards another human. Have you ever watched the show, What would you do? (I don't quite remember the show name) The show technically produces a scenario that has been relevant to the news to see how an individual might react to the situation, i.e. college hazing, abusive parter, homeless man passing out versus a woman passing out, a female teenager being rejected by the pharmacist for birth control pills (according to his/her own religious beliefs), etc. There are several people who will speak out for the ones who are put down, but not many who will. Maybe its personal religious beliefs or where others do not feel any sympathy, etc. There are many reasons why it might be.
Posted by Nails 7 years ago
Nails
Arguments: CON

I would have voted CON without even reading CON's rebuttal. PRO not only failed to meet the burden of proof that he's conceding to, but actually refuted his own argument.

Starting with that example,
(1) It's totally unwarranted. You just assert that this is how most people would act.
(2) You even state "Yes, you don't want to see someone in pain or suffering so you help that person,... reacting to your natural instincts." I don't know what selfishness and altruism are if not instinctive traits, so at the point where you're stating that we instinctively aren't selfish you are disproving yourself.

Next, onto crime,
(1) People don't necessarily commit crimes out of selfishness. From a utilitarian perspective, for example, you might respect someone else's happiness but think that stealing from them would benefit you more and thus be a net good.
(2) The fact that only a small portion of the population commits crimes disproves your own point. The MAJORITY of people aren't selfish, proven by the fact that the MAJORITY don't commit crime.

Finally, on poverty,
(1) There is literally no link explained between selfishness and poverty.
(2) The fact that 80% of people live on less than $10 dollars a day can AT BEST prove that 20% of the population is selfish, failing to meet your burden of proving a general principle.

Additionally, I think CON provides quite a few more problems inherent in your arguments even in the case that your own arguments hadn't disproved themselves.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by C-Mach 6 years ago
C-Mach
FMAwhatledgeTied
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Vote Placed by Brendan21 7 years ago
Brendan21
FMAwhatledgeTied
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Vote Placed by Nails 7 years ago
Nails
FMAwhatledgeTied
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