The Instigator
TheSkeptic
Pro (for)
Tied
22 Points
The Contender
leet4A1
Con (against)
Tied
22 Points

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/6/2009 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,106 times Debate No: 8145
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (26)
Votes (9)

 

TheSkeptic

Pro

If you have participated or read any of these types of debates before, then this one should be no different. However, for those who haven't:

ROUND 1: This obviously includes this opening introduction and rules. For my opponent, he/she will post 3 topics (clarify them if you could) he/she wishes to debate, and then post his/her position on each of the topics. Please try to add a mix of subjects. Have some deal with religion, others with politics, others with art, others with social issues, etc.

ROUND 2-4: I will start my case by supporting or attacking one of three positions my opponent proposed. It should follow throughout as a normal 3-Round debate.

*NOTE* - I realize that politics are almost undoubtedly tangled with social issues, but a somewhat cut between the two would be fine. By politics, I imagine topics such as what is the best political system, what role does the government play, economics, taxes, so on and so forth. By social issues, I imagine topics such as gay marriage, abortion, euthanasia, so on and so forth.

*NOTE* - Please put forth only controversial, or at least opinionated claims, for the topics. This should be pretty self-explanatory. If you have any questions, just leave it at the comments section.

*NOTE* - The "1D" notation is for purely for browsing purposes.

If there's any concerns or questions, leave it at the comments sections.
leet4A1

Con

Thanks to the Skeptic for posting this interesting debate. My topics and positions are:

1. The creator of this universe must have been omnipotent - CON

Now I personally don't believe in a creator being, and I know my opponent doesn't, but this is just assuming this Universe WAS created. My opponent must argue that to create this universe, the creator had to have been omnipotent, and I must argue the opposite.

2. Suicide should be illegal in the United States - CON

Pretty self-explanatory. I don't really want to debate this because I've recently had a similar debate, but I know I'd get some good arguments out of you that didn't come up in that debate.

3. The Human species will be responsible for their own extinction - PRO

Again, pretty self-explanatory.

Well that's them, I hope you can find at least one of those three you wouldn't mind debating. Cheers.
Debate Round No. 1
TheSkeptic

Pro

I thank leet for accepting this open debate, and I"m sure it will turn out great! Unfortunately for those in the comment section and for my opponent, I will be choosing the second topic: arguing that suicide should be decriminalized. I wholly agree with the first topic (in my opinion it's actually a strong argument against the First Cause Argument for the Existence of God) and the third topic seems too "vague", for a lack of better words, to argue over.

With the introduction and slight apologies over, I shall begin:

====================
Nothing you do to yourself is immoral
====================

I argue that nothing you do to your own body, whether it be tattoos to drugs, is immoral. When dealing with ethical issues, the government should ONLY be concerned with protecting individuals from others - everything else is fair game.

That said, the only time that this should be modified is when doing something to your body negatively affects others - aka violates their rights. For example, drinking and driving can easily result in serious injury or death in innocent bystanders or drivers, therefore drunk driving should be illegal.

====================
Conclusion
====================

Yes, that is all for my opening argument. From that sole argument, I lay foundation for my position. I await my opponent's response.
leet4A1

Con

My opponent appears to have accidentally supported my side of this debate in his second round. In Round 1, I specifically stated that if we were to argue the resolution "Suicide should be illegal in the United States", that I would take the CON position. This means that my opponent must argue PRO for the resolution that suicide should be illegal, and his argument thus far, that the law should only concern itself with actions that violate other people's rights, supports my side.

I am certain that this was nothing more than a mistake by my opponent, and for the sake of this debate I would suggest we forget this round and start fresh for Rounds 3 and 4, with my opponent arguing PRO that suicide should be illegal in the U.S.
Debate Round No. 2
TheSkeptic

Pro

I DEEPLY apologize for my stupid mistake, my opponent is correct in stating that I have accidently chosen his side. However, I do want to thank my opponent for overlooking this mistake and allowing me the courtesy to start on a fresh start. I also want the audience to note that I am now attempting to argue for a side I am totally against, so my argument may seem not so common or perhaps intuitively appealing. Nonetheless, it should hopefully put up a good fight for my opponent.

====================
Role of government
====================

This is a simple argument, and I don't think my opponent will disagree with me on this issue (nor does he have to). I argue that government should be concerned with upholding what is morally virtuous, or "right", as should any individual. If a government is violating human rights or commiting immoral deeds, than it is an unruly government worth tearing down or changing. That said, all laws a government implements should at least have a sensible purpose/reason for doing so, or must attempt to do what is right. So if a government body wants to uphold the virtue of human rights, then it should pass laws that will do so.

That stated, I hereby argue that suicide is IMMORAL, and thus making it illegal is the moral thing to do. I will attempt to back up this claim in the following argument:

====================
Kant's categorical imperative
====================

Immanuel Kant's famous categorical imperative[1] is the bedrock of his moral philosophy, called Kantian Ethics. Kant grounded his ethical system on the fact that humans have a special capacity that seperates them from other beings: reason. From this standpoint, he argues that all morals and obligations should follow from this - the categorical imperative is the final product. He has three formulations of it, and it is the second formulation that is relevant to the morality of suicide:

"Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, always at the same time as an end and never merely as a means to an end."[2]

Since suicide is practically almost always for the sake of ending ONE'S own happiness, then it follows that is immoral due to Kant's categorical imperative. Because it is immoral, then suicide itself should be made illegal.

====================
Conclusion
====================

Again, I thank my opponent for allowing me to pick up again, and I hope this argument gives him a good challenge. I await his response.

---References---
1. http://plato.stanford.edu...
2. Kant, Immanuel. Grounding of the Metaphysics of Morals. trans. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997. Print.
leet4A1

Con

I couldn't agree with my opponent more with his assertion that a government's role is to instill laws which are morally virtuous. However, I couldn't agree with my opponent less with his assertion that suicide is immoral.

My opponent provided one argument to show that suicide is immoral, which was based upon Kant's categorical imperative. I will provide a few counter-arguments:

1. My opponent quoted Kant's second maxim of the categorical imperative and concluded, with little explanation, that it pertained to suicide and proved suicide immoral (at least according to Kant). My opponent argued that because suicide is usually for the sake of ending one's own happiness, that it is immoral according to Kant. I would like to suggest to my opponent that a person who commits suicide is not doing so to end their own happiness, they are doing so to end their own misery. It is not a case of viewing yourself as merely a means to an end, the end being the end of misery. It is a case of a human being exercising their inalienable right to live and die whenever and however they please. I would even argue that this is the only right we are born with and that ours is the only life we are morally allowed to take.

2. I believe that the second maxim of Kant's categorical imperative is actually more condemning of those who would attempt to stop (i.e. make illegal) suicide than those who would commit it, because that too is an action of self-interest, and far more selfish. To demand that another human being endure misery and pain because you are attached to them emotionally, this is the very definition of selfish.

3. Even if we were to conclude from Kant's categorical imperative that suicide is immoral, why should we allow that to decide our laws for us? According to Kant, lying, over-eating, smoking and drinking alcohol are all immoral acts, but nobody would suggest we make telling a few lies at the pub against the law. Kant's philosophical views, complex and unique though they are, should not be (and thankfully are not) the sole basis for our morals or our laws.
------------------
I will now set some arguments of my own:

1. It is a completely impractical law to uphold. Indeed, it is the only law I can think of where the 'criminal' can only be punished if they FAIL in their attempt, as you can't imprison a dead person (though I'm sure men have tried).

2. One major reason for instilling laws in the first place is to prevent crime. There is no way somebody who is about to commit suicide will be persuaded not to do so upon hearing there is a law against it.

I'll leave it there for this round. Thanks to the Skeptic, I'm looking forward to the final round.
Debate Round No. 3
TheSkeptic

Pro

Since my opponent has agreed with my position on the government's role, there is no need to go further. The argument at hand is obviously Kant's categorical imperative - specifically his 2nd maxim. He has brought up several counterarguments, alongside with offering a few new ones at the end, so I'll go ahead and tackle these in a linear fashion.

====================
Con Counterargument #1
====================

Ai ya, I'm really tripping up huh? Yes, my opponent is correct in deducing that I argue that suicide is for the sake of ending one's misery, not happiness (to say it's happiness would be nonsensical). Again, I thank my opponent for not catching me on this and claiming victory, though it would have been totally legitimate. I need to proofread my sh*t!

My opponent's interpretation of Kant's categorical imperative, however, is something I need not worry about. He argues that "it is not a case of viewing yourself as merely a means to an end...it is a case of a human being exercising their inalienable right to live and die". Yet, you have to wonder - is this an argument? He has said nothing to show why suicide ISN'T a means to and end, he just said it isn't. This is, unfortuantely, ipse dixit.

Let me explain. Kant's categorical imperative states that humans can NEVER be used a means for an end, for a human's action must be considered an an end in himself. So killing yourself to relieve yourself from misery is USING yourself as a means. In fact, Kant was one of the greatest opponent's of suicide in his time[1] - would he be wrong about his own philosophical thinking?

====================
Con Counterargument #2
====================

My opponent's claim that "Kant's categorical condemning of those who would attempt to stop (i.e. make illegal) suicide than those who would commit it, because that too is an action of self-interest, and far more selfish" is very far reaching, and I'm afraid a jump that is unwarranted. Because can't we simply be condemn suicide BECAUSE it's immoral? This is something Kant would support, and is very reasonably probable, and should be the focus of our condemnation - not because of personal reasons.

Just think about it - Kant actually condemns his own beliefs (he was against suicide) with his own categorical imperative. This would be a terribly embarrassing mistake for one of the preeminent philosophers in history, one he certainly did NOT make.

====================
Con Counterargument #3
====================

---->>> "Even if we were to conclude from Kant's categorical imperative that suicide is immoral, why should we allow that to decide our laws for us? According to Kant, lying, over-eating, smoking and drinking alcohol are all immoral acts, but nobody would suggest we make telling a few lies at the pub against the law."

--> Again, I ask why not? Just because it may seem non intuitive and hard to uphold does not mean it shouldn't be discarded. Because if it can be shown that it is correct (to which my opponent has not shown otherwise), than to do otherwise would be IMMORAL. What should take more precedence, morality or the comfort of not changing current laws? Should the government, in fact just we as people, allow something immoral to happen simply because stopping it is inconvenient?

====================
Con Argument #1
====================

---->>>"Indeed, it is the only law I can think of where the 'criminal' can only be punished if they FAIL in their attempt, as you can't imprison a dead person (though I'm sure men have tried)."

--> The laws against suicide can be a form of forced rehabilitation, since if we successfully rescue them from a failed suicide attempt, then we can rehabilitate them and probably PREVENT them from committing suicide - an immoral act.

====================
Con Argument #2
====================

This argument isn't of concern to me, since my basis for arguing against suicide is not for "preventing crime", as I agree that would be a nonsensical goal of anti-suicide laws. I am arguing for anti-suicide laws because we can prevent people from committing suicide (either by intervening or by rescuing them after failed attempts) so future immoral acts won't occur.

====================
Conclusion
====================

Again, I thank my opponent for his patience with my constant blunders - I don't know why I'm messing up so bad in this debate. In pertinence to the debate, however, he has still a heavy burden. Here is a list of things he has failed to uphold, and things he needs to argue for:

-Failed to show how the 2nd maxim's interpretation is not against suicide, and in fact is against condemning suicide.
-Failed to show why Kant would be wrong in his own philosophy
-Failed to show why the impracticality of a law should supersede morality
-Has yet to refute Kant's categorical imperative

The last point is of utter importance. Because all it seems to boil down to is actually refuting Kant's categorical imperative (unless he wants to make a groundbreaking reinterpret of his ethics). This, however, might be contentious with the voters since if he does follow this plan of attack I have no way to refute his arguments. Truly a dilemma for my opponent. His safest bet is to follow with the arguments he has already presented, but these are already under high scrutiny for the reasons I have already listed.

If I have shown that suicide is immoral -- there seems to be no reason to the contrary -- then I have won this debate. The debate floor is open for the last round, what will my opponent do?

---References---
1. http://plato.stanford.edu...
leet4A1

Con

My opponent generously placed my burden for this round into four dot points, as follows:

- show how the 2nd maxim's interpretation is not against suicide, and in fact is against condemning suicide.
- show why Kant would be wrong in his own philosophy
- show why the impracticality of a law should supersede morality
- refute Kant's categorical imperative"

A quick look at this list makes clear that my burden can easily be summarized by one point, which is to refute Kant's categorical imperative as sole (my opponent has provided nothing else) indicator of what is and is not moral.

We should note here that my opponent's ENTIRE argument hinges upon the following:

1. Kant's categorical imperative is the sole decider of what is morally wrong/right.
2. Therefore, if Kant's categorical imperative says something is immoral, then it IS immoral.
3. Therefore, the government should make laws based solely upon Kant's categorical imperative.
4. Kant's imperative says suicide is immoral, hence suicide should be illegal.

Voters, I will provide an excellent example of what Kant's categorical imperative says is morally correct, which is commonly used to show the absurdity of it all:
-A man with a knife tells you he is going to slit your best friend's throat. He asks you where your friend lives so he can go around and do the deed. According to Kant's categorical imperative, you may NEVER lie, as it is using yourself as a means to an end, the end being to save your friend's life. Hence, if we were to accept Kant's categorical imperative as the be-all and end-all of morality, we would believe telling the murderer where your friend is to be the right thing to do.

Thus, if our government were to start basing laws upon Kant's imperative, we would end up with ridiculous laws such as it being illegal to lie, even in circumstances like this.

This one example, and there are countless more we could think of, shows the common failings of what is known as the "German philosophy"[1]:

-It is unrealistic. It discounts the obvious subjective nature of morality itself.
-It unduly stresses the ego. It presumes that within ALL of us is the in-born knowledge of what is and is not morally right. For example, it has nothing to say of masochists, who enjoy having pain inflicted upon them.
-It proclaims the perfectibility of the will. This is, in my opinion, tied in with the first point, which is that it is entirely unrealistic to expect people to control their own will to the point where they will tell a murderer where their friend is rather than tell a white lie.

These three points I would like to summarize as follows: Our laws should REFLECT society's nature, NOT tell society what their nature is.

Voters, my opponent has based his entire argument upon Kant's categorical imperative. He failed to show why Kant's imperative was the sole decider of human morality, and I showed that it most certainly is not. He failed to show that the government should even concern themselves with, let alone instill laws based upon, Kant's imperative. I have shown why they most certainly should not. My opponent DID show that according to Kant's imperative, suicide is immoral, and I must concede that point. But as I've shown, this is elementary at best, because the government should not, and thankfully does not, base its law system on Kant's categorical imperative, which is at best impractical and at worst dangerous. While I did concede that the government should instill laws with are morally virtuous, my opponent failed to uphold his belief that the meter for measuring that morality is Kant's categorical imperative.

As this is the last round, I may not post any further arguments, but note that my opponent conceded the point that a law against suicide is impractical, as there is no way to punish the ‘criminal'. My opponent suggested that the law will allow us to provide counseling for those who attempt suicide, but it is obvious that we could do that without a law. For example, alcoholics and cigarette addicts are provided with, mostly free, access to counseling, and both of those are legal. Indeed, as it stands in America today, you can get counseling for suicide prevention, but it is not against the law. Thus, my opponent's point is moot, and the law against suicide remains impractical and unnecessary.

I thank the Skeptic for this debate, I'm certainly no philosopher so I enjoy these opportunities to read up on some of the greats. Vote CON.

[1] - http://www.radicalacademy.com...
Debate Round No. 4
26 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by TheSkeptic 8 years ago
TheSkeptic
Ah, I suppose I should've given more justification for it. Oh well then ;)
Posted by Maikuru 8 years ago
Maikuru
Since little justification was given for the use of Kant's views in the first place, leet's criticisms (extreme as they may be) are enough to discredit it. You're right about the standard's impracticality being seperate from its truthfulness, but that does significantly lessen its appeal haha.
Posted by TheSkeptic 8 years ago
TheSkeptic
Well, showing the impracticality of a moral system doesn't negate it's truth :). Sure, the lying example is a seemingly emotionally stressful one, but doesn't make the moral system false. Especially when many moral systems, when taken into account with extreme or "lifeboat" scenarios, seem impractical to a degree.
Posted by Maikuru 8 years ago
Maikuru
You're right, that was poorly worded. Pro did well in dismissing your standard as necessarily predominate, practical, or correct. Am I going to have to start putting thought into my comments now haha.
Posted by TheSkeptic 8 years ago
TheSkeptic
@leet: Don't worry I won't vote ;)

@Maikuru: How can there be more than one standard for morality? This would introduce contradictions.
Posted by Maikuru 8 years ago
Maikuru
Enjoyed it.

C: Tie
S & G: Con - Personal penalty for Pro's faulty R2 and misery/happiness slip-up.
A: Con - He pointed it out a little late, but Con did well in dismissing Pro's stance as the sole standard for morality.
S: Pro
Posted by leet4A1 8 years ago
leet4A1
Oh yeah, Skeptic can I please ask that you don't vote for yourself in this debate, as I can't vote? Feel free to do so, but I would really appreciate if you didn't.

Thanks again for the debate, I look forward to our next one.
Posted by TheSkeptic 8 years ago
TheSkeptic
Ohmy, I just noticed I worded it wrong. Should be for the sake of ending their own misery, not happiness. Haha I'm so sloppy in this debate XD
Posted by leet4A1 8 years ago
leet4A1
Fudge! Forgot references for 3rd Round. Well, there was only one I used anyway:

[1] - http://en.wikipedia.org...
Posted by TheSkeptic 8 years ago
TheSkeptic
Haha, well I hope my new argument is a better one then ;D
9 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Vote Placed by Udel 1 year ago
Udel
TheSkepticleet4A1Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con explains why pro's standard of the categorical imperative is not valuable by submitting an example of where lying might be valid. Con makes that argument that the laws of society should reflect people's nature and not dictate people's nature. Pro failed to explain why the CI is the best moral maxim and Con did explain why suicide laws are unnecessary. Since Con proved that they are impractical and moot laws and the CI is not to be universally accepted and even gave reasons why they shouldn't, Pro hasn't fulfilled a burden and Con has made his position clear.
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