The Instigator
oboeman
Pro (for)
Winning
24 Points
The Contender
claypigeon
Con (against)
Losing
15 Points

Personal faith of a politician should not influence their votes or political decisions

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/7/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,081 times Debate No: 3124
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (10)
Votes (13)

 

oboeman

Pro

In this country, there is the fundamental separation of church and state. For a lawmaker to inflict his/her personal faith upon that of the rest of the country's would mean a violation of this fundamental rule. In this country, not everyone shares the same morals, faith, and religion. Therefore, why should our lawmakers use their own personal morals, faith, and religion to justify particular bills and laws? If a politician's faith, personal morality, or religion were used as a rational to pass any particular bill, then arguably any politician should be able to do that, even if their individual faiths, moralities, and religions were totally different from each other. This would create chaos, as politicians would be arguing over which religion is most popular, and whichever one was most popular would be incorporated into law.

The purpose of religion is to have faith is something, not necessarily to explicitly know the answers to everything. As well, as there are obviously multiple religions, how do we distinctly know which was is "right," given that the preceding statement is correct? The purpose of laws are to do what is right for the citizens of the country, whether it be to provide or protect. Therefore, religion and faith should not be implemented into the political sphere.
claypigeon

Con

I apologize beforehand that I am only going to argue two points as I have little time this week but the two points are very key.

1. Religion can predict policy

The argument w/ JFK was that electing a catholic meant he must listen to the catholic church so the catholic church would control the executive in America. Luckily for us, JFK wasn't a strict catholic. The same argument is used to rationalize why we shouldn't elect a Jew or Muslim or Scientologist. BTW scientologist isn't in this sites spell check. If one is a strict orthodox member of a religious group that requires its members to adhere to certain doctrine, one must then theoretically base policy off of one's religion. Therefore in some cases, religion should influence politicans. Besides the fact that many of our founders were very religious and used this to effect policy there are also other countries that are not democratic but are theocratic. Would one discard religious influence in a society ruled by religion. No. Our lawmakers use religion to religion to shape policy also b/c they got their own morals due to their religion.They understand what is right and what is wrong from their religion. We want our politicians to do what they think is right. Therefore religion can predict policy and in some cases should be used to influence decisions.

As a side note in one of my debates I argue that a human fetus that is 6+ months old. born is not yet necesarily deserving of human rights. An objective doctor would claim the fetus behaves more like a parasite than a human. A politician (all I think) would claim its a human as its wrong to kill a fetus that is so developed. In this case people want politicians voting on right/wrong, not objectivity.

2. Politicans get elected by votes.

Politicians get elected by support. They can often get support from preaching their religion and voting on religious lines. If we want the most democratic politicians then religion will be a factor in electing many. The idea w/ America is that there would be so many conflicting factions that not one could gain total control. Religious groups are just one more special interest faction in America. If we want a semi-democracy, religion must be allowed to be a factor with our politicians. There is a reason the founders did not ban church and state entirely.
Debate Round No. 1
oboeman

Pro

Greetings, I thank you for participating in my debate, and I hope this turns out to be an enthralling discussion.

Before you proceed with the debate, I would like to note how I used the word "should" in my title and opening argument of the debate. The word "should" refers to what SHOULD occur (idealistic), rather than how things are currently functioning.

Also, do realize that many of the questions you will see throughout this round are rhetorical.

"If one is a strict orthodox member of a religious group that requires its members to adhere to certain doctrine, one must then theoretically base policy off of one's religion. Therefore in some cases, religion should influence politicians."

In order to further my rebuttal, some definitions are in order. First of all, I somewhat defined religion in my first round. Religion is essentially organized faith; and faith can be considered a profound belief toward that in which cannot be proven at the current time. An obvious example would be the world being created in six days - this detail resides in ones own faith, as no one was around back then to determine what is indeed true or not true. But, referring back to what we were talking about, why should a politician be able to allow faith influence their decisions, considering that faith could be anything that fits within the definition shown above? How is it alright for a politician to vote against something, simply because it may contradict their faith? An example for this would be evolution, as many politicians would vote against it for frivolous reasoning, simply being becomes it contradicts their religion. However, evolution is just as valid a scientific theory as cell theory, and extensive data and evidence has been collected to support evolution theory. Yet, many politicians are still against the public teaching of it, as it rejects creationism and intelligent design.

By the way, I realize that a politician may have personal morals and even a religion, but I am advocating that they just not use their own personal morals to legislate laws that are going to affect people that do not share the same morals.

"Besides the fact that many of our founders were very religious and used this to effect policy there are also other countries that are not democratic but are theocratic. Would one discard religious influence in a society ruled by religion. No."

Pertaining to our own country, we are not and should not become a theocracy.

"Our lawmakers use religion to shape policy also b/c they got their own morals due to their religion."

I understand that some personal morals may originate from religion, however, under your reasoning, people without a religion would not be considered moral. Is that what you are implying? If the answer to this question does indeed turn out to be "no," then one may have no affiliation with religion, but still have moral standards.

The real question here is this: Why can't morals originate from one's own intellectual capabilities and good deductive reasoning? Because, if one can indeed have morals originate from deductive reasoning and their own intellect, then the need for religion in the public sphere has already diminished.

"They understand what is right and what is wrong from their religion. We want our politicians to do what they think is right. Therefore religion can predict policy and in some cases should be used to influence decisions."

Again, how do we determine what is right and wrong? As I mentioned, we should use deductive reasoning to determine whether particular things are ethical or unethical. And we do want our politicians to do what is right; and what is right can often be determined through multiple-person debate and deductive reasoning. One would, in this case, NOT be able to use religion or faith for determining such ethics, as there are many part of religion that are simply unethical, bringing me to yet another question: If one WAS to use religion to determine ethics, how would that person distinguish between what is right and what is wrong in their religion? Obviously, as I am sure you would agree with me, not every passage of the torah, for instance, would be considered ethical in the public sphere, but like I said, how would you distinguish between what is right, and what is wrong? Would you be able to without using deductive reasoning? The answer, unless you desire to debate me on any of this, is no, as, according to my own theories, one must use deductive reasoning to determine ethics (what is right or wrong).

"Politicians get elected by support. They can often get support from preaching their religion and voting on religious lines."

In my view, it is quite unfortunate that many people vote for a candidate simply because of their desire to incorporate their religion into politics. That is mere ignorance. The goal of a politician is to serve everyone, not just those of your religious affiliation. Any citizen can use deductive reasoning to come to the same conclusion for a bill or law; however, only those of a particular religion might come to the same conclusion if a bill or law is passed merely because of religious affiliation.

"If we want the most democratic politicians then religion will be a factor in electing many. The idea w/ America is that there would be so many conflicting factions that not one could gain total control. Religious groups are just one more special interest faction in America. If we want a semi-democracy, religion must be allowed to be a factor with our politicians. There is a reason the founders did not ban church and state entirely."

The goal of government is to do what is best for its people. How do we determine what is best - through deductive reasoning. With that being said, if religion were to be allowed as a factor with our politicians, one cannot use deductive reasoning in a bill that has only been reasoned with religion. And without deductive reasoning, one cannot determine what is best for the country as a whole.

I look forward to your rebuttal.
claypigeon

Con

Before I do my official rebuttal I would like to clear a few things. First, is this debate only about the U.S? It wasn't clear in the opening speech but I will argue from this frame of mind.

Also for definitions, religion is religion. I am not going to define it as that would take thousands of pages to define it well. The voters should decide what they think religion is defined as. My arguments wont rely on a topicality/definition argument but it is more than just an organized faith.

I have one main argument for using religion to influence policy and one main rebuttal to the previous arguments.

1. Deductive reasoning

There is no such thing in politics as deductive reasoning or objective reasoning. Even if we put all the dollar costs and benefits of one policy into a list and weighed the list to see what was best, we are basing policy off of what item maximizes dollars. We can do the same for equality and freedom. There is no way to maximuze "utility" or do what is best, per se, as this is an abstract term. If we want to maximize dollars then the poor should pay huge taxes as rich people make more off of a dollar than poor people do. If we want to maximize equality, the rich should hold a huge part of the tax burden. If we want to maximize liberty we should shrink government a lot. A policy that is "best" takes these three things into consideration and there inherently is disagreement. Some people prefer liberty, some equality, and some money. There also is fairness and a host of other ways to judge a policy. There is no such thing as deductive reasoning in the social sciences as the "best" is very subjective and is defined differently by others.

Why should religion influence policy sometimes? Should is a very subjective word and it looks like we both can agree that should is based on some form of utilitarian measurement. What is best for the country , objectively measured, should happen. The issue here is that one cannot objectively measure many issues (as stated above). If we could objectively measure actions, we all would in agreement about anything that doesn't directly affect ourselves. Policy is based on an collection of everyone's desires. There are so many ways to measure what we "should" do or what is "best" for society. There is no clear cut decision. The founders wisely thought about this and decided on a form of representative government.

2. Factions

The problem with representative government is that often single groups emerge w/ common interests. These groups eventually become large enough to exert influence on policy making and the minority group suffers. What the founders did was base a system off of factions. In theory, there would be so many small factions that one alone could not control the rest. This is what our system of voting is based off of.

Theoretically, I vote for whomever would provide me with the greatest benefit. If I was a politician and I wanted to maximize votes, I should base my strategy around ways that maximize votes. If I wanted the catholic vote, I might use my religion to influence policy sometimes if this gets me votes. This view is on an individual level.

On a global level we want politicians who do us the greatest good. Perhaps politicians using religion to make policy is bad though this practice pays out for them. This would be an example of a market failure and some party should step in and do whats "best" for society. When does this stop? Does it get to a point where, unless one objectively weighs every decision one cannot vote? If we do enforce this infringement on liberty by banning religion as a way to get votes, who enforces this? Wouldn't an objective observer not be so objective. Wouldn't he fall prey to the same vices we do. We end up just using government to infringe on liberty. We just lost a faction and the others can get more influential. I advocate maximum liberty. I want many different factions competing so one does not gain control.

A final example of why one could use religion to effectively decide policy is that identifying as a member of a group has the same benefits as identifying as part of a party. Sometimes you need to vote with your party now so they'll vote with you for something big in the future.

There is no easy way to define "should". We are presented with voting as a group and coercing any dissenters or we can divvy up into factions and maximize liberty. We can allow other ideas to compete on the marketplace or we can vote as a majority and coerce the minority. Religion is just one faction of many influencing politics but if we got rid of this why not get rid of other subjective criteria. I believe that we can maximizes liberty and hence maximize utility by encouraging a factitious system of government where we vote for whom we think is best for us and not whom objectively is best. Religion plays a key part in that. Therefore sometimes religion should effect policy.
Debate Round No. 2
oboeman

Pro

For practical purposes, let us have this debate simply regard the U.S. Sorry for not clarifying. As for religion, I am fairly sure that we both know what we are talking about regarding definitions, so there is little need to go further in depth at the time.

"A policy that is "best" takes these three things into consideration and there inherently is disagreement. Some people prefer liberty, some equality, and some money....There is no such thing as deductive reasoning in the social sciences as the "best" is subjective and is defined differently by others."

This is where your argument becomes flawed. There IS such thing as deductive reasoning in politics. What else would you call debates on the house or senate floor, or even debates in general for that matter? Inherently, all a debate does is analyze deductive reasoning to determine the outcome and what is right. And you bring up three things to be brought up into consideration, including liberty, equality, and money. Some people prefer some over others, and this value may be arbitrary. And all three of your themes can be placed onto scales, for example a scale beginning with less liberty ranging to more liberty. The real question is this: how does one determine which level on this scale is optimal for the common good? My point is that one could use deductive reasoning to determine an optimal range in this scale to place the liberty (freedom) level best for the country as a whole. Of course, no liberty is bad for the country as a whole, as no one would be able to do anything. Yet, going to the extremes in liberty allowance also causes problems, as am sure you would agree, that to a degree, our country needs to regulate its citizens (e.g. required processes, like education). So a politician could derive using deductive reasoning that a moderate degree of liberty, which would inherently depend upon the specific issue being presented, might be best.

However, there are also those politicians that claim that the "American people" should decide where they want to place its liberty level. The problem with this is that, obviously, not all Americans think the same. Some would claim that less liberty is overall more beneficial, while some may claim that more liberty is overall more beneficial. All this is would be a popularity contest. If someone that is advocating something, but only manages to gather 48 percent support, are you claiming that the other 52 percent should automatically be considered the "right" ones, and allow the other 48 percent of people to have their voices go unheard??

By the way, for my idea involving deductive reasoning, the American citizens of the country would still be listened too, but they would help in the deductive process.

The main point here is this: what is popular is not always right, and what is right is not always popular. While some people may individually disagree on a particular issue, an issue should be solved to satisfy the common good, which does NOT necessarily mean popularity of a viewpoint. There is indeed a way, by collaborating the viewpoints of all people involved, to determine what is right, often times through debate. Perhaps more attention to actually completing debates with logic would encourage participants in all public debates to offer arguments instead of appeals to emotion, innuendo, name-calling, and sanctimonious prattle.

"Should is a subjective word and it looks like we both can agree that should is based on some form of utilitarian measurement....The issue here is that one cannot objectively measure many issues....There are so many ways to measure what we "should" do or what is "best" for society."

First, let me point out that my goal in this particular debate is not to identify HOW to objectively measure an issue using deductive reasoning to determine what is best for the common good, but rather to claim its existence, and that, indeed, it CAN be used for a multiple range of issues. As well, with out this talk about deductive reasoning, I just want to bring back the point that it should be used by U.S. politicians instead of religion or personal morals, which is the MAIN point in this debate.

"Theoretically, I vote for whomever would provide me with the greatest benefit. If I was a politician and I wanted to maximize votes, I should base my strategy around ways that maximize votes. If I wanted the catholic vote, I might use my religion to influence policy sometimes if this gets me votes. This view is on an individual level."

A lot of politicians, quite unfortunately, do just that. Many people simply follow a politician so that their own personal religious morals can be made into policy to be enforced upon others that may not consent, especially if they are affiliated with a different religion. I, myself, am Jewish, but, even on an individual basis, I do not want any of my individual morals to be imposed upon others; that would be selfish. By having politicians incorporate any religious morals that do not serve the common good is illogical; this country has multiple religions, and no one of them is dominant over any others, therefore, we can derive that incorporating religion, while we have freedom of religion, into state or federal laws is completely ridiculous and unreasonable. The purpose of government is to do what is best for its people, ALL of its people (i.e. serving the common good for all American citizens), not just those of a particular religion. That would be discrimination, which is unethical.

"On a global level we want politicians who do us the greatest good. Perhaps politicians using religion to make policy is bad though this practice pays out for them. This would be an example of a market failure and some party should step in and do whats "best" for society. When does this stop? Does it get to a point where, unless one objectively weighs every decision one cannot vote?"

See above, regarding public weighing in on issues. But generally, issues should not be solved by popularity alone; deductive reasoning should be used to solve disputes and reason out a situation. And of course, anyone, not just politicians, should be able to carry out their deductive reasoning and their thoughts regarding an issue. But when you analyze it, what does a vote symbolize? I mean, if your vote is not among a majority, your ideas are discredited. How is that fair?

"If we do enforce this infringement on liberty by banning religion as a way to get votes, who enforces this?"

What I am mostly advocating is that religious morals not serving the common good should not count in the deductive reasoning processes and debates which would be carried out in congress.

"There is no easy way to define should....I believe that we can maximizes liberty and hence maximize utility by encouraging a factitious system of government where we vote for whom we think is best for us and not whom objectively is best. Religion plays a key part in that. Therefore sometimes religion should effect policy."

Most of this I have explained above. But my main point is this: the only thing that should influence political decisions is deductive reasoning; and deductive reasoning is an extremely general term, but absolutely sufficient to carry out a common good to serve the American people as a whole. And religion should not affect policy, as similar religious practices and morals are not shared by everyone in the country. However, the common good, in its definition, is.

The term "should" is a huge concept in itself, and is therefore somewhat difficult to explain. But essentially, it advocates ideal conclusions. What SHOULD be done to serve the common good; and serving the common good (American people as a whole) SHOULD be our ideal conclusion.

With that, I thank you for being a part of this enthralling discussion, and if need be, I can post a further rebuttal in the comment space,
Oboeman.
claypigeon

Con

I apologize beforehand for the curtness of this rebuttal. I have my last midterm tomorrow and the debate runs out before I truly get some extended free time.

This debate has come down to two main things in my mind. One is based on deductive reasoning. The other is based on stupid definition disagreements.

I want to start off saying that I consider myself a utilitarian in most aspects. I see where you are coming from with this deductive reasoning argument and for the most part I agree with it. However I disagree in the assertion that there is communal "deductive reasoning". There can be communal deductive reasoning. If I had a lake house on a lake with many other people and we all polluted it, the lake would be dirty. But we all enjoy a pretty lake in regards to utility than we gain from polluting the lake. Here is a prime place to invoke a law that restricts liberty so the group can prosper. Perhaps one person likes polluting so much that his utility is lessened by this plan. Overall utility goes up so why not go forth with the plan? It gets complicated by adding in other factors. As I tried to say in my examples above, how do we maximize utility on a broad scale? Do we try to maximize income or equality or fairness or liberty. People have great arguments for one or the other.

If we could assign a numerical value to each item in a policy and compute how much this policy benefits society then I am more than willing to concede this debate. The problem is, we cannot do this. Deductive reasoning only gets us so far. We cannot list, let alone comprehend, every little action a policy invokes. If we did this debate should be titled "we should maximize utility if we can know utility". Knowing everything and being able to compute all these things is not part of our current world. Maybe one day this will occur but right now we are debating in unrelated hypotheticals. I am debating from the current reality.

In the current reality we cannot itemize policy and find out the mass effect of it. We can deduce only so far. Therefore personal decisions come into play at a point. Sometimes these decisions may be religious based. Based on my faction arguments throughout the debate, I think this is the best way to solve issues at least when we cannot deduce any further. My plan is "deduce as far as possible and then set up a system where people can fairly debate what is unknown". Your system assumes we can know all.

I advocate voting for the person that is best for me. You advocate voting for the person who is best for society. Not only can we sometime do both (perhaps ruling on religion this one time is what is best in the current situation) but also, why should I as an individual consider other people? Why shouldn't I be selfish and want all that I can get? Why is societies betterment good for me?

Some quick definitional things. I will go along with the commonly held should notion but since then we are debating in hypotheticals whether "obviously beneficial action A should be advocated over detrimental action B" I'd rather "should" refer to what action currently holds the best outcome.

On religion, I thought we were talking about commonly defined religion and not religion that is detrimental to society. I think my arguments go around this but I think religion refers to the detrimental and the beneficial things it offers.

I think in our current reality we need to do what is best for us on an individual level since we cannot know what is best for society. This sometimes entails using religion as one of many ways to decide policy. Using religion as a factor is just like using a political party. And sometimes religion can be right so banning it altogether is ludicrous. Utility is a subjective balance between freedom, fairness, and equality.We are all individuals so life is better decided on an individual basis and not on what makes the group as a whole better.
Debate Round No. 3
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by oboeman 8 years ago
oboeman
What I am saying is that merely voting for a candidate, one single vote, does extremely little to solve anything.
Posted by josh_42 8 years ago
josh_42
"therefore, a moral can be bad and counterproductive to society. Why would anyone want an American society based on that which has the potential to be bad?"

uhh.... then people wouldn't vote for the politician or condones his actions!

"Morals are individually chosen, not government level."
The government IS the people, or at least it should be.
Posted by oboeman 8 years ago
oboeman
Josh42, you are not understanding that, in the inherent definition of moral itself, it can be anything an individual chooses to value. Therefore, a moral can be bad and counterproductive to society. Why would anyone want an American society based on that which has the potential to be bad?? Instead, we have to focus on deductive reasoning in society, deriving what is good, creating a beneficial society for EVERYONE, not just 50.1% of everyone based on a popular vote.

By the way, people can have whatever views, opinions, and beliefs the want to; they just do not reserve the right to enforce any of those upon others. Morals are individually chosen, not government level.
Posted by josh_42 8 years ago
josh_42
This form of discrimination is silly. People vote for politicians based on their moral standings & religion is a good way for people to see where they stand on social issues. besides are you going to force people not to follow ideology they believe in?
Posted by oboeman 8 years ago
oboeman
Indeed, I do advocate separation of church and state, Korezaan. But simply voting for a candidate that is going to represent the common good is not going to do enough. Politicians who are influenced by personal morals and religious values need know that their political reasoning is flawed. And simply voting for a non-theistic candidate is not going to make that happen.

Society DOES have multiple faiths. And we DO have multiple politicians. But still, there are not nearly enough spots in congress for everyone to be represented. I fail to understand how our country should incorporate religious values and personal morals into law when our country does not HAVE a universal faith. What it all comes down to is that incorporating such themes into the political sphere is merely reminiscent of a politician's own flawed reasoning.
Posted by Korezaan 8 years ago
Korezaan
Not really. We'd just not vote people who believe in creationism into power.

To your second point, you're exactly right: Society has multiple faiths. That's exactly why we have multiple politicians, so everyone can have a representative. You want separation of church and state? Fine. Vote for someone who isn't theistic. It's not that hard.
Posted by oboeman 8 years ago
oboeman
Under your logic, if one believes in creationism, then the theory of creationism is therefore best for our country as a whole?

Secondly, what I means is that personal faith (e.g. creationism) is fine for the individual, but is not good when one wants to enforce it upon the remainder of society. Society has multiple faiths, why should they have to follow just one (e.g. public school curriculum), simply because a politician desires to enforce it? Instead, a politician should overcome their personal faith in the political sphere and focus upon what is best for all of the citizen as a whole, not simply one particular group.
Posted by Korezaan 8 years ago
Korezaan
That's funny. I didn't know "personal faith" included "personal ambitions". But anyways.

"What they think is best for an entire country" is STILL based off of what they personally believe.
Posted by oboeman 8 years ago
oboeman
Korezaan, there is a difference between personal opinion and what is best for the country as a whole. Politicians ought to vote on what is best for the entire country, rather than simply what seems to satisfy their own ambitions at the time. And of course, not every politician from a respective party thinks the same; but they should use deductive reasoning and converse with each other through debate to determine an ideal solution to a problem. I hope that answers your inquiry.
Posted by Korezaan 8 years ago
Korezaan
Wait.... but if it's not their personal opinions that influence their decisions, what ARE they supposed to vote on? If every politician from a party thought exactly the same, well then, what's the point in voting them into power???
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