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Surrealism
Pro (for)
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The Contender
Philocat
Con (against)
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Quotation Philosopher Debate - Utilitarianism (pro) vs. Deontology (con)

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Post Voting Period
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after 3 votes the winner is...
Philocat
Voting Style: Open with Elo Restrictions Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/21/2015 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 843 times Debate No: 72064
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (10)
Votes (3)

 

Surrealism

Pro

This is just a little experiment I'd like to try out. The essence of this is that it is a "quatation debate" meaning that we will debate the topic, in this case Utilitarianism vs. Deontology, using only quotations from the relevant philosophers.

Rebuttals will be less important here, as we will be mostly trying to build our case better than our opponent. That is why there are only three rounds.

Round One - Acceptance and state your most important philosopher.

Round Two - Quotations just from the most important philosopher, i.e. only the one you chose before

Round Three - Responding quotatations, some can be from other philosophers, i.e. I could quote a bunch of different philosophers in this round

If you have any questions, please ask in the comments BEFORE accepting the debate.
Philocat

Con

Thank you Surrealism for instigating this debate, I'm looking forward to it :)

As I am doing deontology, it makes sense for me to choose Immanuel Kant as my most important philosopher considering he has written groundwork for the deontology that has developed since Kant has written.

However, in round three I will use other deontologists such as W.D Ross, Aquinas, Frances Kamm among others.

I accept :)
Debate Round No. 1
Surrealism

Pro

The philosopher I choose is John Stuart Mill. The following is taken entirely from his essay, On Utilitarianism.

"The doctrine that the basis of morals is utility, or the greatest happiness principle, holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong in proportion as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. By ‘happiness’ is meant pleasure and the absence of pain; by ‘unhappiness’ is meant pain and the lack of pleasure. To give a clear view of the moral standard set up by the theory, much more needs to be said, especially about what things the doctrine includes in the ideas of pain and pleasure, and to what extent it leaves this as an open question. But these supplementary explanations don’t affect the theory of life on which this theory of morality is based—namely the thesis that pleasure and freedom from pain are the only things that are desirable as ends, and that everything that is desirable at all is so either for the pleasure inherent in it or as means to the promotion of pleasure and the prevention of pain. (The utilitarian system has as many things that are desirable, in one way or the other, as any other theory of morality.)"

"It is quite compatible with the principle of utility to recognise that some kinds of pleasure are more desirable and more valuable than others. In estimating ·the value of· anything else, we take into account quality as well as quantity; it would be absurd if the value of pleasures were supposed to depend on quantity alone. ‘What do you mean by “difference of quality in pleasures”? What, according to you, makes one pleasure more valuable than another, merely as a pleasure, if not its being greater in amount?’ There is only one possible answer to this. Pleasure P1 is more desirable than pleasure P2 if: all or almost all people who have had experience of both give a decided preference to P1, irrespective of any feeling that they ought to prefer it. If those who are competently acquainted with both these pleasures place P1 so far above P2 that they prefer it even when they know that a greater amount of discontent will come with it, and wouldn’t give it up in exchange for any quantity of P2 that they are capable of having, we are justified in ascribing to P1 a superiority in quality that so greatly outweighs quantity as to make quantity comparatively negligible"

"Only while the world is in a very imperfect state can it happen that anyone’s best chance of serving the happiness of others is through the absolute sacrifice of his own happiness; but while the world is in that imperfect state, I fully admit that the readiness to make such a sacrifice is the highest virtue that can be found in man. I would add something that may seem paradoxical: namely that in this ·present imperfect· condition of the world the conscious ability to do without happiness gives the best prospect of bringing about such happiness as is attainable. For nothing except that consciousness can raise a person above the chances of life by making him feel that fate and fortune—let them do their worst!—have no power to subdue him. Once he feels that, it frees him from excessive anxiety about the evils of life and lets him (like many a Stoic in the worst times of the Roman Empire) calmly develop the sources of satisfaction that are available to him, not concerning himself with the uncertainty regarding how long they will last or the certainty that they will end. Meanwhile, let utilitarians never cease to claim that they have as much right as the Stoic or the Transcendentalist to maintain the morality of devotion to a cause as something that belongs to them. The utilitarian morality does recognise that human beings can sacrifice their own greatest good for the good of others; it merely refuses to admit that the sacrifice is itself a good. It regards as wasted any sacrifice that doesn’t increase, or tend to increase, the sum total of happiness."

"I must again repeat something that the opponents of utilitarianism are seldom fair enough to admit, namely that the happiness that forms the utilitarian standard of what is right in conduct is not the agent’s own happiness but that of all concerned. As between his own happiness and that of others, utilitarianism requires him to be as strictly impartial as a disinterested and benevolent spectator. In the golden rule of Jesus of Nazareth we read the complete spirit of the ethics of utility. To do as you would be done by, and to love your neighbour as yourself constitute the ideal perfection of utilitarian morality. As the ·practical· way to get as close as possible to this ideal, ·the ethics of· utility would command two things. (1) First, laws and social arrangements should place the happiness (or what for practical purposes we may call the interest) of every individual as much as possible in harmony with the interest of the whole. (2) Education and opinion, which have such a vast power over human character, should use that power to establish in the mind of every individual an unbreakable link between his own happiness and the good of the whole; especially between his own happiness and •the kinds of conduct (whether doing or allowing) that are conducive to universal happiness. If (2) is done properly, it will tend to have two results: (2a) The individual won’t be able to conceive the possibility of being personally happy while acting in ways opposed to the general good. (2b) In each individual a direct impulse to promote the general good will be one of the habitual motives of action, and the feelings connected with it will fill a large and prominent place in his sentient existence. This is the true character of the utilitarian morality. If those who attack utilitarianism see it as being like this, I don’t know what good features of some other moralities they could possibly say that utilitarianism lacks, what more beautiful or more elevated developments of human nature any other ethical systems can be supposed to encourage, or what motivations for action that aren’t available to the utilitarian those other systems rely on for giving effect to their mandates."

"Let us now look at actions that are done from the motive of duty, in direct obedience to ·the utilitarian· principle: it is a misunderstanding of the utilitarian way of thinking to conceive it as implying that people should fix their minds on anything as wide as the world or society in general. The great majority of good actions are intended not for the benefit of the world but for parts of the good of the world, namely the benefit of individuals. And on these occasions the thoughts of the most virtuous man need not go beyond the particular persons concerned, except to the extent that he has to assure himself that in benefiting those individuals he isn’t violating the rights (i.e. the legitimate and authorised expectations) of anyone else. According to the utilitarian ethics the object of virtue is to multiply happiness; for any person (except one in a thousand) it is only on exceptional occasions that he has it in his power to do this on an extended scale, i.e. to be a public benefactor; and it is only on these occasions that he is called upon to consider public utility; in every other case he needs to attend only to private utility, the interest or happiness of some few persons. The only people who need to concern themselves regularly about so large an object as society in general are those ·few· whose actions have an influence that extends that far. Thoughts about the general welfare do have a place in everyone’s moral thinking· in the case of refrainings—things that people hold off from doing, for moral reasons, though the consequences in the particular case might be beneficial. The thought in these cases is like this: ‘If I acted in that way, my action would belong to a class of actions which, if practised generally, would be generally harmful, and for that reason I ought not to perform it.’ It would be unworthy of an intelligent agent not to be consciously aware of such considerations. But the amount of regard for the public interest implied in this kind of thought is no greater than is demanded by every system of morals, for they all demand that one refrain from anything that would obviously be pernicious to society; ·so there is no basis here for a criticism of utilitarianism in particular."
Philocat

Con

I will present my quotations a little differently. Instead of pasting a wall of text, I will post many short quotes in order to sum up Kant's deontology.

________________________________________________________________________________________________

Starting Point - The intention (good will)

'Nothing in the world—or out of it—can possibly be conceived that could be called ‘good’ without qualification except a good will.'

'courage, resoluteness and perseverance are doubtless in many ways good and desirable; but they can become extremely bad and harmful if the person’s character isn’t good'

'Even qualities that are conducive to this good will and can make its work easier have no intrinsic unconditional worth. We rightly hold them in high esteem, but only because we assume them to be accompanied by a good will; so we can’t take them to be absolutely -or unconditionally- good. '

'The good will of this person would sparkle like a jewel all by itself, as something that had its full worth in itself.'

'What makes a good will good? It isn’t what it brings about, its usefulness in achieving some intended end. Rather, good will is good because of how it wills—i.e. it is good in itself.'

'The concept of a good will is present in the concept of duty'

Duty

'For an action to have genuine moral worth it must be done from duty.'

'An action that is done from duty doesn’t get its moral value from the purpose that’s to be achieved through it but from the maxim that it involves, giving the reason why the person acts thus.'

'the worth of character is brought out, which is morally the incomparably highest of all: he is beneficent not from preference but from duty.'

'To secure one’s own happiness is a duty (at least indirectly), because discontent with one’s condition—bundled along by many cares and unmet needs—could easily become a great temptation to transgress against duties. '

'for this man, there still remains—as there does for everyone—the law that he ought to promote his happiness, not from wanting or liking but from duty. Only by following this can his conduct have true moral worth.'

'So the action’s moral value doesn’t depend on whether what is aimed at in it is actually achieved, but solely on the principle of the will from which the action is done, irrespective of anything the faculty of desire may be aiming at.'

'To have a duty is to be required to act in a certain way out of respect for law.'


Universal Laws - categorical imperative

'The objective principle is the practical law itself; it would also be the subjective principle for all rational beings if reason fully controlled the formation of preferences'

'Everything in nature works according to laws. Only a rational being has a will—which is the ability to act according to the thought of laws, i.e. to act on principle. To derive actions from laws you need reason, so that’s what will is— practical reason.'

'I ought never to act in such a way that I couldn’t also will that the maxim on which I act should be a universal law.'

'if the action is thought of as good in itself and hence as necessary in a will that conforms to reason... the imperative is categorical.'

'The categorical imperative, which declares the action to be objectively necessary without referring to any end in view'

'There is only one categorical imperative, and this is it: ·Act only on that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law·.'

'rational nature exists as an end in itself. Human beings necessarily think of their own existence in this way, which means that the principle holds as a subjective principle of human actions. But every other rational being also thinks of his existence on the same rational ground that holds also for myself; and so it is at the same time an objective principle'

'Act in such a way as to treat humanity, whether in your own person or in that of anyone else, always as an end and never merely as a means'

'The third practical principle of the will, as the supreme condition of its harmony with universal practical reason, namely, the idea of the will of every rational being as a will laying down universal law'

'By this third principle, any maxim is rejected if it isn’t consistent with the will’s role as a giver of universal law. Hence the will is not merely subject to the law, but subject to it in such a way that it must be viewed as prescribing the law to itself, and for just that reason as being subject to the law, the law of which it sees itself as the author'

________________________________________________________________________________________________

I will leave it for now, and wait to hear Pro's reply.
Debate Round No. 2
Surrealism

Pro

Surrealism forfeited this round.
Philocat

Con

My opponent has forfeited his last round.
Debate Round No. 3
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Surrealism 1 year ago
Surrealism
Hmm, I suppose it would be fair to change the rules a bit. Tell you what, I'll change it so you can pick one philosopher for you initial argument, and then any philosophers for your response round.

e.g. I could use Singer in the starting round and then Singer, Mill, and Bentham in the final one.
Posted by Objectivity 1 year ago
Objectivity
This seems interesting, I'd gladly accept, although I think both sides should be able to use whatever quotes support their side whether than exclusively drawing from Mill and Kant.
Posted by Surrealism 1 year ago
Surrealism
@18Karl And also it's due to convenience, as I have hard copies of both Mill's essays and one of Singer's books, but not much about Deontology.
Posted by Surrealism 1 year ago
Surrealism
@18Karl Both sides have to read each other's quotations in order to properly respond in the final round. And in the final round you get to use modern philosophers like Engstrom and Singer. But again, this is an experiment, so if things turn out awry, I might search for contrarian philosophers whose styles are more similar in terms of complexity or readability. Perhaps I could do Hobbes vs Rousseau next, or maybe even the age-old classic of Plato vs Aristotle. (Or their 17th century counterparts, Descartes and Bacon)
Posted by 18Karl 1 year ago
18Karl
That ain't fair. You want us to read Immanuel Kant's long, hard and obscure style whilst you get to read the easy flowing style of J.S. Mill?
Posted by Surrealism 1 year ago
Surrealism
@WillYouMarryMe The quotation part was the whole point. I've debated Util v. Deo before, but I thought it might be interesting to do it through the mouthpiece of the philosophers themselves.

@kasmic That is definitely an interesting debate.
Posted by kasmic 1 year ago
kasmic
I participated in a debate that included these two philosophers. You might find it interesting.

http://www.debate.org...
Posted by WillYouMarryMe 1 year ago
WillYouMarryMe
I would totally accept this debate sans the "quotation" part -_-
Posted by Surrealism 1 year ago
Surrealism
In the final round, you may use quotes from other Deontologist philosophers. Again, this is really a test to see if this format works at all. If the original philosopher distinction turns out to be too restraining, then I might remove it and make another debate later.
Posted by chrisjachimiak 1 year ago
chrisjachimiak
Must the Deontology quotes must be only from Immanuel Kant?
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by tejretics 1 year ago
tejretics
SurrealismPhilocatTied
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Reasons for voting decision: FF.
Vote Placed by TheJuniorVarsityNovice 1 year ago
TheJuniorVarsityNovice
SurrealismPhilocatTied
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Vote Placed by Objectivity 1 year ago
Objectivity
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro FF