The Instigator
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The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

Resolved: Individuals have a moral obligation to assist people in need.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/22/2011 Category: Society
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 6,337 times Debate No: 19439
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (8)
Votes (1)




This is my first time writing a speech. Please give constructive criticism

Resolved: Individuals have a moral obligation to assist people in need.

"Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world."

It is because I agree with the words of Howard Zinn that I
stand Resolved: Individuals have a moral obligation to assist people in need.
Before we begin I would like to offer the following
Moral Obligation- an obligation arising out of considerations of right and wrong- Oxford Dictionary.
Moral- of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior- Webster�€™s dictionary.
Obligation- an act or course of action to which a person is morally or legally bound- Oxford Dictionary
Assist - An act of help, typically by providing money

Need-Require (something) because it is essential or very

My core value will be Altruism (Unselfish concern for the welfare of others; selflessness), along with Cosmopolitanism (Cosmopolitanism is the ideology that all kinds of human ethnic groups belong to a single community based on a shared morality), and Human dignity( justifies a moral obligation to assist fellow human beings).

Contention 1: Treat others as you would like to be treated yourself.
If you were homeless, sick, and old wouldn't you want individuals to have a moral obligation to assist you. Would you just hope someone would be altruistic enough and help you. These are the type of scenarios many people are in today, and the only reason any action is taken upon is because of their own moral obligation to do so. Without these morality�€™s we would have no sane in this world, we would be depending on only individuals own ideas of morality and there would be no obligation to do so. Society would consist of selfness and egoism

Contention 2: Our brains are designed to help others.
Studies have shown that the human brain responds positively to altruistic actions. According to Journalist at the Washington Post Shankar Vedantam,
Grafman and others [neuroscientists at the National Institutes of Health] are using brain imaging and psychological experiments to study whether the brain has a built-in moral compass. The results are showing, unexpectedly, that many aspects of morality appear to be hard-wired in the brain.
The brain operates in such a way that it is part of our biology �€œto assist people in need.�€� Our moral obligation is based on our conscience, and this study shows that our conscience is innate to human beings. Therefore, altruism is inherent to human beings, and individuals have a moral obligation to assist people in need.

Contention 3: The lack of a moral obligation leads to the bystander effect. Journalist at CNN Stephanie Chen writes,
Under the bystander effect, experts say that the larger the number of people involved in a situation, the less will get done. "If you are in a crowd and you look and see that everyone is doing nothing, then doing nothing becomes the norm." explains Drew Carberry, a director at the National Council on Crime Prevention. Carberry said witnesses can be less likely to report a crime because they reinforce each other with the notion that reporting the crime isn't necessary. The responsibility among the group becomes diffused.
If we do not have a moral obligation to assist those in need, then the bystander effect occurs, and terrible crimes go unreported. The moral obligation not only exists, but is needed for action to occur that will stop these crimes. Without the moral obligation, crimes will continue to occur unstopped.
The best example for this contention is the Holocaust; (Diffusion of responsibility), Nazi soldiers would just state �€œWe are just following orders�€� in the process of killing millions.

And it is for these Reasons I stand in Affirmation.


I thank my opponent for instigating this debate and will now state my own case.

Morality has many definitions—many forms—and many different societies that live by it, but the morals that each society lives by cannot be exactly the same. To look out for the good of a society, a person has to look out for oneself as instinct dictates lest they risk their own survival. This doesn’t mean that the helping of others is wrong but that to help others we must put ourselves first.

Before I begin, I would like to define a few recurring terms that will appear throughout. Firstly, morality being conformity to ideals of right human conduct, and obligation being something one is bound to do (Merriam-Webster). Thus, combining these two terms, moral obligation would become a belief or act one fulfills to conform to ideals of right human conduct. Thirdly, society is defined as a community, nation, or a broad grouping of people having common traditions, institutions, and collective activities and interests (Merriam-Webster). Altruism is behavior by an animal that is not beneficial to or may be harmful to itself but that benefits others of its species.
For the following reason, I negate the resolution: a society where individuals conform to a certain morality and all maintain the same moral obligations will not lead to rationality, and a rational society is what humans wish to achieve. This leads to the value, which is self-preservation. When living with the goal of self-preservation, society is more rational.

My first contention is that morality varies from person to person, thus a person’s ideas on what their moral obligation might be is different from another person’s. Morality, as stated above, is the conformity to ideals of right human conduct. However, right human conduct is subjective and can be influenced by one’s society. A person who lives in the Midwest might have far different morals than a person who lives in the Middle East.

Secondly, saying individuals are morally obligated to assist those in need is a broad, inclusive statement. A person cannot help everyone in need let alone everyone they witness in a state of need, and if they were to help everyone they came into contact with that was in need of assistance it would not be healthy for the one giving. If too many people acted as if they were obligated to help whoever they could that was in need then those who gave would be suffering in the place of those who had needed assistance prior or alongside them. In a certain case, an altruistic person—whose behavior could be potentially harmful as stated by the definition prior to the contentions—who is living by the resolution which obligates them to assist those in need may end up being the person in need and, in order to assist oneself, have to stop assisting others out of obligation to oneself, which is human instinct—putting oneself above others. Pertaining to this, those who aren’t giving by nature but rather cynical will have more mental strain put on them than those who are more trusting and willing to give if they are forced to assist those in need.

Extending on my second contention, the resolution is only possible if one manipulates it so . If one were to manipulate the resolution to say: Individuals have a moral obligation to assist those in need when feasible, then fulfilling the resolution would be possible. Seeing as the resolution itself doesn't extend and state so, it would be impossible for one to fulfill the resolution, making the resolution itself incorrect.

As my third contention, I will point out that some moral obligations could be considered uncivil and immoral to people excluded or even included in the society where that moral system is practiced. The KKK was morally obligated to assist their fellow members by seeking out African Americans and exterminating them, adding to my first point that moral obligation is subjective. During World War II in Germany, the Nazis had their moral ideals given to them by Hitler, who said they were obligated to hunt down the Jews and force them into concentration camps. This was to assist their country which would supposedly be better off without the Jews. Basically, members of the KKK and Nazi Germany thought they were assisting others when they killed the African Americans or placed Jews in concentration camps. That was their moral obligation. Al-Qaeda requires that all infidels be killed because it is their obligation to annihilate them for their God. With this idea in mind, one will think that conforming to the moral ideals of a society and fulfilling said obligations is not always a good thing.

Lastly, if a person is forced to assist others, they are not doing so out of an obligation to morality but rather an obligation to something or someone else, defeating the morality in their obligation. Thus, they are obligated to assist others, but it is not their morals that make them obligated so. It is like a school having a canned food drive where if the whole class brings in enough cans they will all get treats. Instead of bringing in cans out of an obligation to morality, a child will bring in cans out of obligation to the class because the child does not wish to let his or her classmates down and also obligation to the child’s own person, as the child does not want to miss out on the opportunity for treats.

In summary, my case has stated that morality itself is subjective, that it is not possible to help everyone in need, and that a person’s first obligation—according to human nature and instinct—is to oneself. I also stated that some societies have moral obligations that might seem inhumane to us and that we would not want them to fulfill and that if someone is forced to assist others, it is not out of moral obligation.

Now, I will attack my opponent's case.

Firstly, my opponent states his core belief as altruism, unselfish concern for the welfare of others/selflessness, but defined in my own case it could be potentially harmful to the one who is assisting. As stated in my second point, the resolution makes itself impossible to fulfill. It doesn't have those two words that would make it correct: when feasible. Because of this, the resolution itself is impossible. If one were to be truly altruistic, they would die from lack of necessities due to giving it away, which also negates the resolution. You have no obligations when you are dead.

My opponent also places value in human dignity, which is quite similar to altruism in the way it is typically used, thus negated by the argument I stated for altruism.

The first contention was more an order than proof that one is morally obligated to do something: treat others as you would like to be treated. However, saying this does not prove why I have to help people or that I even have to. My opponent asks if I would like other people to help me if I were in a deprived state. Yes, I would, however, there is no way to obligate them to assist me.

In my opponent's second contention, he states that our brains are wired so that we assist others. If so, then it would not at all be a moral obligation that binds us but a biological one, also disproving the resolution.

For the final argument, my opponent references the bystander effect. Though it may seem bad, the typical question to be asked is, 'So what?' I want to know how this bystander effect obligates me to help a person. If nothing is getting done, it proves that people don't have a moral obligation, because if they did they'd be helping prevent the bystander effect, but they aren't. My third point also disproves my opponents point, as Germans had a moral obligation to turn in the Jews which was a horrible moral obligation but some of them didn't. If they didn't actually fulfill the moral obligation, then there was no moral obligation to begin with.
Debate Round No. 1


I would like to begin disproving my opponent's first and third contentions, with the idea of cosmopolitanism.

Cosmopolitanism is the ideology that all kinds of human ethnic groups belong to a single community based on a shared morality. This is contrasted with communitarian and particularistic theories, especially the ideas of patriotism and nationalism.

So even though mortality may vary from person to person, everyone is made with the core basic understandings from good and evil(based on second contention). My main point is even if there are two different morality's they still share the basic principals needed.

To begin on my opponents third contention, which states again people have different Ideas of morality. Yes they have contrasting convictions of morality, but this doesn't mean that it's correct. Morality is the differences from right and wrong, and KKK and the Nazi's soldiers where completely wrong so this is not a valid point. Also the pursuit of the Nazi's and KKK lingered because of the lack of moral obligation from the people, which is associated with my third contention, that the lack of moral obligation leads to the bystander affect.

And on the second contention, A person cannot help everyone in need let alone everyone they witness in a state of need, and if they were to help everyone they came into contact with that was in need of assistance it would not be healthy for the one giving.This is inaccurate because not everyone is in the s


Ideology- the body of doctrine, myth, belief, etc., that guides an individual, social movement, institution, class, or large group.

Notice how in the definition of ideology, never once is it stated that an ideology is a fact, and since ideology is not a fact, it disproves nothing. Also, Nazism was a morality, sharing none of the core ideas, so they do not share the basic principals needed.

My opponent states that different views in morality aren't correct. However, can this statement really be made? In any faith, the doctrine of said faith is what is considered 'right' while another faith's doctrine is considered 'wrong.' Taking this into account, every person has a different idea of what is right and wrong. To each person, there is right and there is wrong. A Nazi and a Jew may have different beliefs but both are right because they believe they are right and cannot be moved to feel differently. My opponent also says that the lingering of the KKK is from lack of moral obligation, also false. The KKK lingers because members of the KKK believe that it is morally right that they hunt down African Americans and annihilate them. To them, this is their moral obligation. My opponent saying this isn't due to moral obligation disproves the resolution itself because saying so translates to people aren't obligated to their morality.

Seeing as the next statement by my opponent is incomplete, I will argue this point in the next round when he is able to fairly argue it.

I look forward to my opponent's following arguments.
Debate Round No. 2


First of all, this resolution is based on individuals. Not groups like Nazi's.

My opponent states the the Nazi's had different Ideals of morality, yes they did.
But once again these morals were not correct, the definition of moral is Right from wrong.
They might have thought that there morality was correct, but that doesn't mean it was.
Because killing millions of people for logical reason is not correct.
Also they got into the Nazi group through manipulation which is a whole different story.
These are false morals, based on the definition of moral.Also as I said before, the reason
that this genocide was not stooped is because of the bystander affect, which originates from lack of individuals moral obligation.
So the massacre of millions became the norm.So this shows individuals should have a moral obligation to assist people in need, because this idea could have ended The Nazi Party.
All of the oppositions to morality that you stated are against the actual definition of moral.


My opponent states morality is right from wrong; a correct statement. Seeing as an individual Nazi believed what they were doing was right and that there are different moral standards throughout the world, this point stands strong. Also, stating these morals are incorrect proves that moral skepticism is correct, seeing as a Nazi and my opponent have different ideas of morality.

Again, my opponent says this was a result of the bystander effect because of a lack of moral obligation, meaning there were individuals who were not morally obligated. Thus, seeing as if a portion of the statement is false then a whole statement is false, individuals do not have a moral obligation to assist people in need.

Seeing I have disproved my opponent's statement that the Nazis' morality was wrong and the round is over, I end my argument here.

Please vote for the negative.
Debate Round No. 3
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by savagedebate 6 years ago
could you also state your sources?
Posted by savagedebate 6 years ago
writerselbe, can you state your value and value criterion?
Posted by Bipolar 6 years ago
Just a last point, then there morals were wrong and they can not be classified as morals.
Posted by Bipolar 6 years ago
Sorry, I didn't finish. My opponent also states that you should put your self above other's, although this is true, the resolution is assist-To give aid or support. This is not putting them above you this is giving support, at least "trying".

Excuse me if I lack format, grammar, etc.
This is my first time debating, and it's late so I don't want to reassure what I wrote.
Posted by Bipolar 6 years ago
I would just like to say, this is from Krop's debate team.
Posted by WriterSelbe 6 years ago
I accept! It'll be a while until I can get my argument in unless I can actually get my arse in high gear tonight. Oh, wait. Maybe I can...
Posted by Bipolar 6 years ago
Why not.
Posted by socialpinko 6 years ago
Will altruist ethics be assumed at the outset of the debate?
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by QT 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Both debaters made fairly decent arguments in the first round. However, Pro dropped his own case in the second round and then dropped the majority of his opponent's case in the third round. Thus, I really have no option but to vote Con.