The Instigator
YoungBohemian
Pro (for)
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The Contender
michaeltaffe3
Con (against)
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0 Points

Philanthropic Efforts From Companies Like TOMS and Charities like Livestrong Should Not Exist.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/24/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,249 times Debate No: 38063
Debate Rounds (4)
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YoungBohemian

Pro

First: Some terms should be defined.

Philanthropy is a key term in this debate or argument, it's pretty straightforward. I don't mean philanthropy in the strict definition "love of humanity", rather what it's more commonly used for, the beneficial acts and contributions to maintaining someone, group of people, or countries and organizations when they cannot provide for themselves.

Companies: Pretty straightforward, companies include the likes of businesses like the above mentioned TOMS, but also includes companies like Starbucks. Businesses also include hospitals since they have become increasingly, and terrifyingly, more like businesses than one would like to admit. Doctor's then can be seen as extensions of hospitals.

Charities: Also straightforward, but for the sake of defining them here charities include organizations and "things" that are aimed at collecting and providing assistance to those that are needy in any and all aspects. These include Livestrong, (R)ed, etc.

Cultural Capitalism: This one is not so straightforward, so here is how I define it and will use it in my argument. Cultural capitalism, essentially, is capitalism that's been reshaped to aide, almost in a contradictory way, those that are too economically weak, unstable, and unable to participate in large-scale, and or global capitalist systems through a seemingly beneficial cultural aid and development. An example of cultural capitalism is TOMS shoes. Buying one pair of shoes will in turn provide for a poor child to receive a pair of shoes somewhere in the world. TOMS is using capitalism, the selling of their shoes, in the hopes of providing aid via shoes, the cultural portion.

Those are the main terms, I don't think that there will be anything else that I will use in my argument that wouldn't be clearly understood by us both.
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Over the past decade or so with so-called movements, that resemble haute trends more than true movements aimed at bettering the world, have sprung up all over the world, notably in the United States.

One of these companies, TOMS, talks about their aim or goal as a movement. The TOMS company ensures that with every purchase a consumer makes through them a poor child, or person, will receive a pair of shoes that they can call their own. Superficially this only seems like it can actually do good. But what it actually does it perpetuate the very systems, political ideologies, and mindsets that allow for the existence of third-world countries and poverty.

I will focus mainly on the Western societies and cultures, and the United States population in particular. Charities like (R)ed, supporting AIDS awareness and research, and Livestrong, supporting those affected by caner, are more like trends than actual charities. They resemble the diet fads of the '50s and '60s more than progressive and effective charity or political movements. People in the United States keep an eye out, waiting for the next pseudo-charity or business, or capitalistic, opportunity to arise that would make it easy for them to "help" those less fortunate in the world without any direct effort on their part.

Because of this, companies like TOMS and similar charity groups and efforts under the umbrella of cultural capitalism needs to not only be completely severed from the world, and idea, of true philanthropic efforts because they only provide a means for people to console their guilt by having the idea that their materialist greed will be offset by the byproduct of their purchases. However, they do not realize that their participation in this vastly destructive and dangerous practice only serves to proliferate suffering and the condition for it to arise.
michaeltaffe3

Con

By your standards, if a company wants to make a difference in the world and help there public reputation in doing so, what is the problem? They are helping people. No one feels forced to buy from them because of this. People can just but from another, cheaper company and then donate to a charity. Your conspiracy theoristic way of thinking scares me. Why can't you see that if a company says they want to help someone, they might just want to help someone.

Footnote: I do not support Livestrong or Lance Armstrong as a whole. I see the companies used in the prompt as examples that could be switched out with any other company.
Debate Round No. 1
YoungBohemian

Pro

What you're addressing is precisely the problem here, among others of course. And I'm surprised you're more afraid of my "conspiracy theoristic" view of thinking, because I'm not making it up, these companies admit what they're doing, wholeheartedly in fact. But more on that later.

To address what you said:
Why shouldn't a company be able to improve its reputation? That misses the point of this debate entirely. If the question is aimed at what the company is doing for its own self-interests, and yes reputation is nothing but a self-interest, then it automatically cannot be of use in charity if it is a priority. Another way to more simply put my answer to that: their reputation, and building of it, has no bearing on this discussion.

Another point:
"They are helping people." How are they helping people exactly? You haven't given me any examples. It would be to shallow of me to mention companies that "seem" like they are aimed at doing good. Let's mention a different company, like Starbucks for example. They have a big emphasis on "good coffee karma", whatever that means. Underneath that "karma" idea is that they try "their best" to provide coffee that is sustainable and is considered fair trade. On the surface that isn't such a bad thing, I am a major supporter of free trade practices. HOWEVER, they advocate free trade practices as long as Starbucks is the vehicle. Their free trade, sustainable, and "good karma" practices are in reality aimed at increased profits, and bettering their own company, and as you mentioned before boosting reputation.

You make another point:
"People can just but [sic] from another, cheaper company and then donate to a charity." Realistically, do you think that actually happens? Let's just think about it for a moment, a person is going to not buy something from say, TOMS, and they are looking for something cheaper, from another company. That is very common. Why are they looking for something cheaper from someone else? Because they are trying to save money. Now, let's add on that other bit you mentioned "and then donate to a charity". If people are seeking to save money, why would they take the money they saved and donate it it a charity? Realistically, in this situation, they wouldn't. Why? Because they are looking to save money. If they are looking to donate to a charity, the system is already in place, they can buy something a touch more expensive because what they are spending will go into a charitable effort.

I think you miss my point entirely when you say I have a "conspiracy theoristic" way of thinking. I am not against charity or philanthropy whatsoever. But what companies actually "might JUST want to help someone". That would go against their existence as a company. A company's aim is to create a business that would generate a revenue for the interests of its creators and shareholders. If it JUST wanted to help someone, that would be against their own interests.

You also miss my point when I say what these companies are doing are wrong. The aim in my argument is not to do away with charity, but to do away with the idea that one can put a face on capitalism, which is exactly what companies like Starbucks and TOMS are doing. They perpetuate the idea of "I can justify my needless materialism as long as I know that a little of what I'm spending will go to some sort of charity". Realistically, will that contribution be enough to really make a difference? Probably not. Why? Because the system of capitalism, in essence, gives rise to the situations that allow for poverty here in the United States and everywhere else in the world. To put it in other words it is like having a man that will inevitable die lying in a hospital bed with an I.V. in his arm that would just barely keep him alive, but in the worst conditions.

The answer then, in my opinion, is to have a radical shift in our way of thinking of charity and philanthropy. First it consists of doing away with this notion of "cultural capitalism", and to adopt and implement a more rigorous theory of emancipate philosophy to provide an answer. What I mean by that is to cause a break in the capitalistic, and democratic (the political/governmental system not the political party) systems that allows for the presence of charity in the first place. People need to abolish current systems and practices in such a way that to continue with this new emancipate theory that it does not allow for the case of poverty and etc. to arise.
michaeltaffe3

Con

michaeltaffe3 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
YoungBohemian

Pro

I maintain my previous arguments.

I only add, that this is a somewhat radical philosophical treatise that aims to setting a precedent that is aimed at establishing systems that are not reforms, rather complete reconstructions, to put an end to personalizing blatant and justified cultural capitalism.
michaeltaffe3

Con

michaeltaffe3 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
YoungBohemian

Pro

What I've already said is all I can stand by since my fellow debater has forfeited the past two rounds, and I cannot respond and further build on my arguments in response to theirs.

I maintain my position and what I've already said.
michaeltaffe3

Con

I am super sorry. My internet has been anoyingly spotty the past couple of days. There is no point in me posting an argument now and not letting you respond. You guys should vote for youngbohemian. Good job.
Debate Round No. 4
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