The Instigator
Nicharesuk
Pro (for)
Losing
3 Points
The Contender
TheTruthAnalyst
Con (against)
Winning
9 Points

Reality is an Absolute

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
TheTruthAnalyst
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/20/2011 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,951 times Debate No: 19388
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (14)
Votes (3)

 

Nicharesuk

Pro

R1 is for each participant's Thesis/Resoultion statement
This is my second Debate so I am still learning the ropes of this website.

Reality (or Existence) in itself is an absolute, it cannot be changed by perception or will, it is not subjective, all things must follow the laws of reality. Also, Reality exists. (This is either equal to or presupposed when stated that reality is an absolute)
TheTruthAnalyst

Con

I accept the position of Con.

Reality is not absolute, and is unique for each individual. Reality depends on the perceptions of each individual. Reality only exists through the perception of what is real to each individual.

DEFINITIONS:

Reality:
the actual state of things, or the facts involved in such a state.[1]
Perception: an awareness of things through the physical senses, esp. sight.[2]
Absolute: certain; not to be doubted.[3]


[1] http://dictionary.cambridge.org...;
[2] http://dictionary.cambridge.org...
[3] http://dictionary.cambridge.org...;
Debate Round No. 1
Nicharesuk

Pro

Thank you Con for accepting!

I will be utilizing Objectivist philosophy for this argument for I am an Objectivist. =D

There is an obvious flaw with Con's original argument he defines Reality as "The actual state of things" but then states perception as "An awareness of things" One can see that in simple terms:

Reality: Is "Things" or the actuality of them

Perception: As being aware of things through senses.

Therefore the "Things" would have to exist before one could perceive them.
From this we can conclude that:
To perceive existence, existence must exist.

Reality is INDEPENDENT, it does not 'depend' on anything.
It is not true that existence exists because we perceive it as so because that would be a contradiction in terms. (See Ayn Rand Quote Below)

This does not mean though that all are perceptions can be completely correct. Just because one perceives something does not make it true.

For instance; A man is hit on the head and this causes him to see the world as red. The world seems to be red but in actuality the world is not red, he only perceives it as such due to a fault (an injury to) of his senses. (He should also seek some medical help)

I want to clarify I do not like the use of Con's definition for "Absolute" mainly because of its latter definition; it insinuates that one cannot doubt, when in fact one can. This could be just my idle banter because I believe "One SHOULD not doubt reality," and after thinking this over I believe that that is what the definition was intending but I wanted to make it clear that this would be a better definition of the word:

Absolute: Complete in itself [1]

This would mean that Reality is indivisible, it is an end.

In Ayn Rand's words :

"Existence exists—and the act of grasping that statement implies two corollary axioms: that something exists which one perceives and that one exists possessing consciousness, consciousness being the faculty of perceiving that which exists." [2]

Axiom:A self-evident and necessary truth,or a proposition whose truth is so evident as first
sight that no reasoning or demonstration can make it plainer;a proposition which it is necessary to take for granted[3]

EX: "A thing cannot,at the same time,be and not be." [3]


[1]http://www.webster-dictionary.org...
[2]http://aynrandlexicon.com...
[3]http://www.webster-dictionary.org...

TheTruthAnalyst

Con

Thank you for your arguments Pro

Pro attempts to re-define the terms I have already defined, not using any dictionary, but his understanding of the terms. Not only is this an attempt to skew the argument in his favor, his definition is inherently flawed.

Pro defines reality as 'Things, or the actuality of them'. By Pro's definition, only 'things' are part of reality. The state of such things isn't part of reality then. Meaning, the Earth being closer to the Sun than Neptune, isn't part of reality, as being closer is a state of location.

Pro defines perception 'As being aware of things through senses.'. Being aware of things references a state, just as being ready, being dressed, being awake, etc... Perception is not a state, you wouldn't say 'I am perception', you would say 'I am perceptive'. Perceptive is the state associated with perception.

I propose that my definitions were first, came from a dictionary, and are more proper.

Pro's argument stems from these definitions, but these arguments are flawed as well. We don't perceive objects. We perceive the light bouncing off of them as sight. We perceive the kinetic energy of an object striking them, being turned into vibrations, as sound. We perceive the repelling force of atoms when our hands get close to objects as 'touch'. In no way do we actually perceive the objects directly.

Instead, we perceive reality 100% through our senses and thought processes. As everything is being processed through our brains, we have no way to objectively step outside of that personal process to 'compare notes' with anyone else. Just as you can't step into my body to perceive reality from my point of view, I can't step into your body to perceive reality from your point of view.

Pro states that reality is independent, and does not depend on anything. I assert that reality depends on our perception. If you remove all perception of reality, does it still exist, and how can you show that it does without perceiving it? Because we have no method to test anything without some form of perception, reality is entirely based on perception. Further, because all perception is processed subjectively and individually through our brains, we have no method of objectifying our perceptions into a perfect consensus.

A man is hit on the head and this causes him to see the world as red. This is due to the perception of sight being directly related to electrical impulses between the eye and the brain. As Pro stated, this doesn't make the world red, it is just what the eye and brain are processing. Similarly, each individual has no way to know if his eye and brain are processing the world correctly either. Each individual has only his own experience of what is correct to judge by. By definition, then, reality is defined subjectively for each person.

If there is an absolute, objective, external reality, we have no method to test it. Without a method to objectively and empirically test it, it remains in the same category as Gods, spirit, and invisible pink unicorns.

In addition, this entire debate is completely subjective, based on definitions of words, which are defined with other words, ad infinitum. Using Pro's definition of and dictionary for Absolute we get the following:

Absolute: Complete in itself.
Complete: Finished.
Finished: Polished to the highest degree of excellence; complete(first instance of circular synonyms)
Polished: ... refined;
Refined: polished, cultured(again, circular synonyms).

All words are defined with other words. There are no 'base' words, so there are no 'absolute' words. If there are no absolute words, how can there be an absolute argument about reality? Even this debate isn't absolute, as it relies entirely upon circular logic of language to even exist.

Pro attempts to require the axiom of 'Existence exists' for his argument, but the entire argument is concisely about whether or not existence exists in an absolute form.

Take both of these arguments as an example. Everything said on both sides is perceived by you and fits into what you perceive as reality. I assert that reality is only a word we use to describe our view of what is and what isn't.
Debate Round No. 2
Nicharesuk

Pro

I would like to point out I was not intending to redefine any of the terms that you defined except Absolute. The definitions Con gave were all correct, I only felt that the use of Absolute could have been clarified, which I did. I apologize for this confusion and will refrain from do it again.

Con states "we perceive reality 100% through our senses and thought processes. As everything is being processed through our brains, we have no way to objectively step outside of that personal process to 'compare notes' with anyone else. Just as you can't step into my body to perceive reality from my point of view, I can't step into your body to perceive reality from your point of view." (sorry that I used this entire quote)

This is not the argument at hand, but this is all true. The argument at hand is whether or not reality is objective, independent and an absolute. Our perceptions are based off of reality, to perceive something would require that it exists to perceive it. That does not mean that everyone has their own reality, it means that they all perceive the same reality differently. This does not mean one has to perceive the objects directly I was not stating that our perceptions are objective, but reality is.

Con then asks "If you remove all perception of reality, does it still exist, and how can you show that it does without perceiving it?"
Con is asking me how to prove ("to show") that reality would exist if there were no perceptions. This is illogical. You cannot prove reality because to prove reality would require the use of reality and logic, (which is also based on reality) reality must already exist to prove anything. Then one would use reason to derive ideas from their perceptions.

Con then states: "By definition, then, reality is defined subjectively for each person." Again, as I stated before, this is false. It is not reality that is defined, it is their perception that is defined. (whether their perception be false or maimed is not the point, one must use reason to deal with their perceptions)

Con then states "If there is an absolute, objective, external reality, we have no method to test it. Without a method to objectively and empirically test it, it remains in the same category as Gods, spirit, and invisible pink unicorns."
This is stating that because man does not perceive an objective reality, there must not be one. False, Man perceives an objective reality, his senses/perceptions are subjective. Man's goal should be to view reality as objectively as he physically can by using reason to form ideas. Scientists must utilize an objective reality when performing any test whatsoever, if they derive anything based on fallacies or illogical assumptions then their tests would be incorrect and could be refuted. So man has every capability of utilizing his senses to perceive reality so long as he uses reason (and subsequently logic) to derive his answers.

Con then adds a whole thing about words. Which is unnecessary but I believe I can refute it. Let it be known though that this is not apart of the argument.
Since there are a multitude of languages there has to be something that connects all of them, something Objective. One cannot "Speak French in English." Because they are based off of the same thing, reality. " 'Chat' (Pronounced "Shah" in English) and 'Cat' " are the same thing and are each culture's way of expressing what that thing is based off of reality. It's not that there are base words, it is that there is a 'reality' which those words are based on.

Finally, I did not require the axiom, the axiom is required, regardless if I require it. I do however assert that 'Existence exists" is an axiom.
TheTruthAnalyst

Con

For rebuttals I will quote in bold as Pro did.

"The argument at hand is whether or not reality is objective, independent and an absolute. Our perceptions are based off of reality, to perceive something would require that it exists to perceive it."

Our perceptions are subjective. We assume that they are based off of some absolute reality, but we have no method to determine whether or not they are. Can you design a test that will prove that you aren't just a dream of a sleeping butterfly? It's impossible to prove. Since our perceptions are subjective, all of our knowledge about everything is based off of subjectivity. It follows that any knowledge derived from subjectivity can't be used as evidence of objective truth. Therefore, any arguments about reality being absolute are inherently flawed, being arguments based off of subjective perceptions.

There is no test that can be designed to show that I see the same thing as Pro if we look at the same object.

"I was not stating that our perceptions are objective, but reality is."
I would ask Pro to provide evidence that reality is objective. Stating so is not evidence in and of itself. I propose that all knowledge about 'reality' is based off of subjective perception, and cannot be used to define an objective truth.

"You cannot prove reality because to prove reality would require the use of reality and logic, (which is also based on reality)"

Pro's assertion is based on circular logic, being that proving reality requires reality, which is based on reality. This is a perfect argument as to why reality isn't absolute. We can only define what we call reality with words that we base off of what we perceive to be reality.

" It is not reality that is defined, it is their perception that is defined."

There is no other concept for reality than the concept we have, which is based off of our perceptions. This is why I assert that reality isn't absolute, but is unique for each individual and based off of perceptions.

"This is stating that because man does not perceive an objective reality, there must not be one."

Pro misstates my position. My position is that because we cannot prove an objective reality, then there is no evidence for reality being absolute. However, we do have evidence for reality being subjective, and I have presented several arguments to that effect.

"Man perceives an objective reality..."
Pro continues to state that we perceive an objective reality, without actually providing arguments as to why reality is objective.

"Man's goal should be to view reality as objectively as he physically can by using reason to form ideas."

Pro wants us to view reality as objectively as possible, based on reason. Reason is based on subjective information, so an objective observation of the universe can't be based on a subjective foundation.

Pro continues to state that we perceive an objective reality, without showing what makes reality objective. I simply showed that all words are subjective as well. The word 'cat' is based off what we perceive to be a cat, but that perception is unique, individual, and subjective in and of itself.

Nothing that any human thinks is ever objective. By definition, it is processed through personal processes and as such is subjective.

'Existence exists' is something Pro would state as an axiom, but since the argument is about reality and existence, the existence of an objective reality can't be taken for granted.
Debate Round No. 3
Nicharesuk

Pro

Thank you for your response.

"Can you design a test that will prove that you aren't just a dream of a sleeping butterfly?"

This is a question that is based off of the debate of what exactly IS reality. This has nothing to do with it being either objective or subjective. Lets take for example the theory of a subatomic universe, whether or not it is true has no meaning here, but we do know for fact that the laws of nature are NOT subjective, it is physically impossible to create or destroy matter based off of will or belief.

Subjective- taking place within the mind and modified by individual bias; "a subjective judgment" [1]

It wouldn't matter if reality were just the dream of a butterfly (though that is absurd) the fact of the matter is nothing in this universe can be affected by ones own consciousness, it never has and never will. Again I assert that it is only by the product of a brain that causes the world to be seen differently. Radio waves and gamma rays, UV light etc. cannot be SEEN by humans but we know for a fact that it is there.

As well, Con continually uses the word "Prove" which is the basis for all his flawed rebuttals when I have already refuted that it is impossible to prove anything without reality being objective. He states I have no evidence, a reason WHY reality is objective. To put it simply, reality must be objective before the thought of 'why reality is objective' is even possible. Consciousness depends on an independent/absolute reality.

In the words of Ayn Rand
"If nothing exists, there can be no consciousness: a consciousness with nothing to be conscious of is a contradiction in terms. A consciousness conscious of nothing but itself is a contradiction in terms: before it could identify itself as consciousness, it had to be conscious of something. If that which you claim to perceive does not exist, what you possess is not consciousness." [2]

"Pro's assertion is based on circular logic, being that proving reality requires reality, which is based on reality. This is a perfect argument as to why reality isn't absolute. We can only define what we call reality with words that we base off of what we perceive to be reality. "

The flaw here is your use of the term circular logic, if it is circular logic isn't it something irrefutable? (As long as it is true logic of course)

Here's a scenario: "How does one test/measure something?" "Well, by using instruments and their perceptions of those instruments." "What are those perceptions based off of?" "Well, by percepts." "And what are those based off of?" "Well...reality." "And what is reality?" "Well... What we perceive!" "So you just said that reality was based of what we perceive which is based off of percepts which are based off of perceiving? Wouldn't that mean an endless string of perceiving percepts which perceive the perceived percepts?"

Percepts - That which is perceived [3]


Finally, I will restate: It is IMPOSSIBLE to prove anything, anything at all, without first there being an independent, objective, absolute reality. Secondly our perceptions and senses ARE able to perceive reality as objectively as possible, that is using reason to file out what is irrational and what isn't, what is based off of internal bias and what isn't based on internal bias. If they weren't able to do that we wouldn't be living because completely irrational creatures (that is creatures able to act against reason) would not survive in this world. WE, that is 'all living creatures' are a testament to our perceptions being able to perceive an absolute reality.


[1] http://www.webster-dictionary.org...
[2] http://aynrandlexicon.com...
[3] http://www.webster-dictionary.org...
TheTruthAnalyst

Con

I will begin by analyzing what I believe to be Pro's most important argument.

"It is IMPOSSIBLE to prove anything, anything at all, without first there being an independent, objective, absolute reality."

According to Pro's statement, reality is an axiom upon which everything else is built. However, reality is itself un-proved. After all, how can you prove reality without reality? So, Pro's argument bases itself upon itself; reality is absolute because it has to be for reality to be absolute.

The only understanding of reality that we have is through our perceptions, and we have no way to know if our perceptions are based on an absolute reality.

In fact, as you read this argument, it is possible that in my personal reality, you and I are scuba diving at this moment in Hawaii. The only thing you know is what you experience.

"we do know for fact that the laws of nature are NOT subjective"

We only 'know' through our subjective processes of sight, sound, touch, taste, smell, and thought. We assume this knowledge is objective; indeed, Pro states that it is 'as objective as possible'. The fact remains, everything is processed subjectively. All knowledge, all thought, all interaction, is processed 100% subjectively.

"The flaw here is your use of the term circular logic, if it is circular logic isn't it something irrefutable? (As long as it is true logic of course)"

Circular logic is logic that flows from the premise to the conclusion. I am right, because you are wrong. You are wrong, because I am right. There is no such thing as 'correct' circular logic. It is essentially the same as saying 'Reality is absolute because it is'.

Pro's scenario about testing reinforces my argument. Even our 'objective' scientific testing depends on subjective perception, so it is inherently subjective.

We assume that everyone experiences the same reality, yet we don't even have a way to know if everyone else is real, or part of a dream, or some random stimulus of consciousness in a sea of darkness.

So, I reassert that for the sole reason that we cannot objectively experience anything, reality is completely subjective.
Debate Round No. 4
14 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by wiploc 5 years ago
wiploc
Oops. Bit of a typo or something. Part three of my RFD ended like this:

: --- Continued in a final brief post ---
:
: Again I assert that it is only by the product of a brain that causes the world to be seen
: differently. Radio waves and gamma rays, UV light etc. cannot be SEEN by humans but
: we know for a fact that it is there.

Those final lines should have been deleted. Don't try to understand them; they are just a mistake.
Posted by wiploc 5 years ago
wiploc
RFD, part four, end:

Con ends by claiming that since our perceptions of reality are subjective, reality is subjective too, which is a non-sequitur.

Pro has shown that, even though our perceptions are fallible, we can nonetheless compare perceptions and reason about what causes them, and thus we can learn some things about the reality that is really out there.

Victory: Pro.
Posted by wiploc 5 years ago
wiploc
My RFD, part three:

Pro writes, "the fact of the matter is nothing in this universe can be affected by ones own consciousness, it never has and never will." That claim may be overly broad; it may prove to be embarrassing if Con riposts. Pro may have to explain that he should still win the debate even if only _some_ things are unaffected by consciousness.

Pro says it is impossible to prove anything unless reality is objective. I don't grasp why he's saying this, or what he thinks it gets him.

FINALLY, Pro points out that, though our perceptions are flawed, we can compare and contrast perceptions, and use logic to determine the nature of the underlying reality being perceived. Bingo. But I hate it when people wait to get articulate in the final round. It's almost cheating. But Con hasn't had his last say yet, so this isn't too unfair. And Pro was trying to make this point earlier, when he talked about gamma rays and such.

Con slamdunks Pro's claim that there must be objective reality before we can reason. And he also jumps up and down on Pro's attempt to claim circular logic as a virtue.

Con asserts again that reality is subjective, but offers no proof other than his bald claim. Once again, though Pro never ran with this, this is Con's claim about the nature of objective reality.

Con plays, in effect, the _Matrix_ card. Saying how do we know that we aren't deluded about the nature of reality, which suggests, once again, that there is a reality with an objective nature, and we just don't understand that nature. (But, still, Pro never ran with this argument, so we can ignore it yet again.)

--- Continued in a final brief post ---

Again I assert that it is only by the product of a brain that causes the world to be seen differently. Radio waves and gamma rays, UV light etc. cannot be SEEN by humans but we know for a fact that it is there.
Posted by wiploc 5 years ago
wiploc
My RFD, continued:

Pro says you cannot prove reality. Is he conceding? Is the debate over? He has the burden of proof and agrees that he cannot carry it?

Apparently Pro didn't intend to concede. He points out that not knowing something doesn't mean that that something isn't true. So things may really be out there, independent of perception. That's nice, but Pro still has the burden of proof. He undertook to establish that they are out there.

Con again points out that Pro has the burden of proof. Con, even though he doesn't have to, makes an unpersuasive argument that reality is subjective. Then he retracts that, saying that he's just waiting for Pro to prove his case.

Con says, "Pro wants us to view reality as objectively as possible, based on reason. Reason is based on subjective information, so an objective observation of the universe can't be based on a subjective foundation." And he says, "Nothing that any human thinks is ever objective." These claims seem self defeating. He's not talking about what he perceives, but rather is establishing objective truths about reality, regardless of what we think about it. According to Con, it is an objective truth about reality that nothing any human thinks is ever objective. Pro ought to win the debate if he picks up on this.

Pro says, "we do know for fact that the laws of nature are NOT subjective, it is physically impossible to create or destroy matter based off of will or belief." He's finally picked up his burden.

Continued in next post.
Posted by wiploc 5 years ago
wiploc
My RFD:

The resolution has no apparent meaning.

Pro says reality can't be changed by the will. I just willed my arm to rise, and it did rise in reality. But Con didn't make this argument, so we can ignore this paragraph.

I expected Con to mention Schrodinger's cat. Since that didn't happen, ignore this too.

Con's definitions make it look like he can't lose unless we are never in doubt about anything. If I wonder what I had for breakfast six years ago, Con wins by definition. This seems absurd on it's face, and Con never does anything with it, so I'll ignore this too.

Pro brings up objectivism, as if he wanted to prejudice non-objectivists against him. He should take lessons from Izbo. But this doesn't affect who has the better argument, so we'll ignore it too.

In his second post, it seems to me that Pro takes the position that there is an actual state of things, independent of perception. Con seems to accept this as the topic of the debate, so we finally have a topic.

Con takes the solipsistic position: Essentially, he argues that since we can't know whether our senses are reliable, we can't confirm that the thing sensed is really out there. Strangely, he uses the plural: _We_ can't confirm that other things are out there, but Con seems to grant the reality that we are out here doing the perceiving. (Which detail Pro didn't pick up and run with, so we can ignore it.)

So, burden of proof is on Pro. Is there reason to believe things are really out there, regardless of whether they are perceived?

Con tries to deconstruct language until we don't know whether he means anything by his words, but he straightens up and uses words meaningfully, so we'll not hold it against him.

I'm about out of characters for this post, so I'll continue in the next.
Posted by Leftii 5 years ago
Leftii
This debate inevitably falls down one pathway:

Heisenberg's Cat: If an object is not observed, is it real? M-Theory states yes, religion states yes, all concepts of Dream Theory state no. M-Theory is the most accepted theory, religion is the most popular path, Dream Theory contains the most explanatory necessity of any theory.

M-Theory states that the universe follows every path possible, but follows a set path when observed. The concept of the universe is different depending on the observer's mass, however, there is an absolute concept of reality, which is not observed.

If there is an omniscient deity, there is an ultimate concept of the universe, so reality is absolute.

All concepts of Dream theory state that we are not certain of our observations. What we observe is a concept of which our brain has developed and a certain reality is not existent. How we define reality, therefore, is our observations in this pseudo reality. This implies that reality is false, so is not absolute.

Most people would agree with Pro in saying reality is an absolute. Since I accept M-Theory, I also agree with Pro.
Posted by Nicharesuk 5 years ago
Nicharesuk
I'm wondering if we should change our usernames to Aristotle and Plato XD
Posted by TheTruthAnalyst 5 years ago
TheTruthAnalyst
No, I'm just saying, how can you define reality objectively, when all of your knowledge, all of your words, and all of your experiences are subjective? There is no way to prove an absolute reality. Perhaps I think you are having this conversation with me, but your reality is that you are rolling in piles of cash and don't care about DDO. Of course, my perception of reality you will respond that of course you are real, but then again, that's just my perception. For all I know you, in your reality, are skidding around on a jetski while I'm having this discussion with 'my you'.
Posted by Defensor-of-Apollo 5 years ago
Defensor-of-Apollo
So you are saying we could all be delusional? In your butterfly scenario, then wouldn't reality be we are butterflies, whether we know it or not.
Posted by TheTruthAnalyst 5 years ago
TheTruthAnalyst
Truth corresponds to what we perceive to be reality. Everything about reality that you know is based on your perceptions. That's my initial argument.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by wiploc 5 years ago
wiploc
NicharesukTheTruthAnalystTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.
Vote Placed by rogue 5 years ago
rogue
NicharesukTheTruthAnalystTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro would not accept that since we have no way to prove an objective reality, we cannot conclusively say that there is one.
Vote Placed by 000ike 5 years ago
000ike
NicharesukTheTruthAnalystTied
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Reasons for voting decision: I found Con's argument that we can only ASSUME reality as absolute to be the most sound. Pro had the burden of proving an absolute reality, which Con successfully showed to be impossible, ...axioms do not actually serve as proof of anything, which was essentially the basis of Pro's argument. This was a high-quality debate, good job guys.