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The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

Society should regret the common narrative of good triumphing over evil in children's entertainment

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Voting Style: Open Point System: Select Winner
Started: 8/17/2016 Category: Society
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,011 times Debate No: 94803
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (13)
Votes (1)




This debate is a part of the DDOlympics Debate Tournament described here:

We are part of Group D, and as such, this is the first of two debates that both ShabShoral and I will be participating in during the group stage of this tournament. That being said, I'm excited to debate ShabShoral on this intriguing topic, and I"m looking forward to having this debate with him.

I don't think there"s much need for ground rules here, but I will at least establish some definitions and frame the resolution.

Society: We are referring to American society, in particular. We can certainly reference children"s entertainment that exists outside of the U.S., but in order to better understand the effects of this narrative, I think it's best to restrict to whom it matters.

Should regret: Should implies that we have some obligation to do so on the basis of the evidence presented. Regret here means the same as repentant or remorseful, i.e. past decisions reinforced the narrative of good triumphing over evil in children"s entertainment, and we feel that this was in error. As such, this will be based on a balancing of both the benefits of this type of narrative and the harms. That balance makes this an on balance debate, meaning that neither of us have the burden of proof.

Common narrative: A story line that is seen frequently, also known as a trope. It should be assumed from the resolution that such a trope does exist, though I will nonetheless establish its existence as part of my case.

Good/evil: These words represent two opposing principles, and while I assume this will be a substantial portion of this debate, I will try to provide some basic understanding of them here. These are usually defined by some sort of moralistic perspective, i.e. to be "good" is to be moral and to be "evil" is to be immoral. It"s a dichotomy where there is a clear difference between the actions of the "good" and the actions of the "evil."

Trumphing over: to achieve victory and, by consequence, inflict defeat.

Children's entertainment: Any form of entertainment (movies, books, games) that is specifically aimed at children. We can define children broadly, though in this case we should aim towards those directed at kids under the age of 12 (i.e. PG movies, books below the age of young adult, and games categorized towards that group). I think this delineation is relatively straightforward, though we can certainly discuss it and alter it if need be.

Simple debate structure:

R1: Definitions and clarifications of the debate/Acceptance, no arguments
R2: Arguments and rebuttals
R3: Arguments and rebuttals
R4: Rebuttals and crystallization, no new arguments

If my opponent has any issues with the definitions, we can and should address them before the start of the debate. With that, I await my opponent's acceptance and wish him good luck in this debate.


I accept my opponent's definitions.

This resolution is strikingly original and interesting. Props to Whiteflame.
Debate Round No. 1


Thanks again to ShabShoral for debating with me on this.

1. Creativity

Fostering creativity in children in our society is a necessity. Creative thinking is important for the generation "of new ideas, perspectives, concepts, principles and products in our society." It plays a substantial role in the production of new inventions and the founding of new businesses, and in order to build that creativity, it must be fostered in children.[1] Intellectual property sectors alone are "estimated to be worth $360 billion a year".[2] "Creativity is as important in education as literacy and we should treat it with the same status. Furthermore, creativity is basic to making our society viable because without we would lose our competitive edge".[3] "

There are numerous ways in which we attempt to foster creativity in education. There are varying degrees of success in those endeavors, and we could certainly discuss them endlessly. What we must recognize, though, is that these efforts will never be perfect. Teaching and parenting can always improve, and, depending on the child, creativity can always be fostered in better ways. So we need to recognize incremental improvements where they exist, and encourage changes that produce those improvements.

Children are learning from a great deal of what they interact with on a day-to-day basis, and we need to recognize how that influence affects them. They absorb entertainment through all manner of media, and in the process garner some idea of what it looks like to be creative, i.e. what creative minds of previous generations have produced. When they see a new concept, that becomes another lens through which they can view the world. When they're exposed to the same lens time and time again, it becomes stagnant, boring. As with any trope, it becomes so rote and expected that readers can predict much of the structure of any given story.

Entertainment should endeavor to be a medium that fosters creativity. Considering the massive amount of time that children spend engaging in electronic media, they clearly play a substantial role in child development. This amounts to 7.5 hr. a day on average, which means this basically amounts "to a full-time job, dwarfing the amount of time spent in school. [4] There is no reason to believe that this will change, and as such, no reason to doubt that the influence of the entertainment industry on the lives of children will remain high.

As such, we as a society should regret when that influence negatively affects creativity, and I would argue that presenting them with the good vs. evil trope does exactly this. Why? Because "[c]reativity requires constant shifting, blender pulses of both divergent thinking and convergent thinking, to combine new information with old and forgotten ideas."[5] Continuously presenting a good and evil dichotomy doesn't feed into either kind of thinking, instead pushing the idea that creativity can only happen within clear, defined limits. In doing so, it limits creativity. This bears out in quantitative ways. In fact, even as IQ scores have gone up, we've seen creativity quotients, or CQs, decrease in the U.S.[5] While that decrease cannot be solely tied to one specific trope, it is nonetheless clear that video games, television, books and other media can improve a person's creativity.[6-9].

Tropes like good vs. evil limit the access of children to new and interesting ideas by only presenting extremes, and thus limit the means by which that creativity can be enhanced. By focusing on this trope, entertainment media is doing a blatant disservice to society. They deny access to fresh ideas in the short term, and thus reduce access to new innovations and businesses in the future. That can have untold effects for every industry. "A healthy society requires that we cultivate the next generation of innovators to maintain economic competitiveness, to solve deep-rooted social problems and to create objects of beauty that inspire."[10] An important part of that cultivation requires that we improve CQs, and one of the most important places to do that is through entertainment media. If nothing else, society should reject what stifles creativity for the sake of encouraging creative problem solving, which reduces the incidence of individuals considering suicide. We should seek to give children as many means as possible to address problems in their lives and reduce their despair, which is only possible if they can creatively devise a wide variety of solutions.[11] Society should regret the incidence of despair and lost innovation, and thus support means of enhancing creativity.

2. Real-world learning

The conflict of good versus evil is a binary of extremes. Ignoring moral relativism, let"s assume that good and evil can be clearly delineated. Even assuming that"s the case, to paint a whole character " all actions and motivations included " as good or evil is an extreme that scant few people can possibly meet. Much as many of the actions we take may be selfless and considerate, those individual actions don"t make a person holistically good, just as actions that show cruelty or selfishness don"t automatically make a person evil. Designating a person as good or evil turns them into a caricature of a person, reducing them to a static state, charactertizing them and not their actions as "good" or "evil." In doing so, we are "surrendering our intellectual responsibility to analyze their actions."[12]

And this is part of our moral duty. We need to understand what feeds into evil actions, in particular, in order to understand what feeds into them. Addressing root causes, like child abuse, a generally violent society, or psychological disorders, is the only means by which we address actions we could generally agree cause harm to society like domestic violence, poverty, homelessness, and violent behaviors of all kinds.[13-15] The more we treat good and evil as static, unchanging states, the more we ignore these causes and continue to endure these harms.

Intent is also an important part of how good and evil should be perceived. We must recognize that scant few individuals perceive themselves as evil. Regardless of the action, an individual is likely to view themselves as an agent of morality.[16] We can impose societal views of morality to characterize them as evil, but in doing so, we merely demand that they ascribe to another subjective view of morality. Entertainment that seeks to paint one side as good and the other as evil imposes similarly subjective views of what constitutes these two terms on not only the characters, but the audience as well.

The mindset that good always triumphs over evil by itself suggests an air of finality: we have defeated a given agent or group of agents of evil, ergo that evil is now itself defeated. It masks the underlying problems that caused these "evil" people to act as they do. It also suggests that good is always victorious. Actual conflicts are rarely so clearly divided at all, and they certainly do not always end with a perceived "good" winning out over a perceived "evil." In portraying this oversimplified perspective, children are being given a warped perception of the world that allows greater problems to go unaddressed and slants views of moral rightness on the basis of success alone.

All of this matters because the world we present to children is the world that they perceive. People who are brought up under the perception that every character or even a substantial portion of characters are good/evil are likely to try to imprint that understanding on the world around them. As such, they idealize those they view as good, and distance themselves from those they view as evil. In the former case, that means allowing actions that would otherwise be treated as evil, ain the latter, that means othering and refusing to understand those who disagree with them. It"s much simpler to simply dismiss them as irredeemably evil, which matches the narrative they have been hearing since early in their lives.

This is the impetus for all manner of conflicts. Morals clash on a regular basis, telling us that multiple choices can be good or bad for different reasons, yet the stark view of good vs. evil, and the need to defeat said evil, doesn't allow for nuanced discussions of moral differences. Instead, it pushes us to dismiss and even hate those with different views, these "others." Not only does this lead to initiating and prolonging conflicts, but it also leads us to feel no guilt about bad treatment of those individuals. This is part of the Benjamin Franklin effect: "If we"re experiencing guilt about our treatment of some person, or group, or class, and having trouble reconciling that guilt with our notion of ourselves as good people, our brains are extremely adept at resolving the situation by othering the people we feel that we"ve wronged. If we dehumanise someone, and distance our empathy with them, then we won"t have to feel bad about the shabby way we"ve treated them...learning to avoid and counteract these thought patterns is integral to greatly reducing the world"s hatred and suffering."[17] Thus, in partitioning the world into two camps and placing ourselves in the "good" one, we have fundamentally damaged our ability to see morality in even our own actions. If we wish to address and counteract the hatreds and suffering that accompanies such othering, then the place we need to start is with how children are educated about the dynamics of good and evil in the world.



In the end, the whole class applauded a wrong that had been made right. That student... was Albert Einstein. That same sense of childlike play and innocence, questioning, passion, is what I feel in this room right now. [0]

GTOE means “good triumphing over evil”.

A.) What Good and Evil Mean

If, then, there is some end of the things we do, which we desire for its own sake (everything else being desired for the sake of this), and if we do not choose everything for the sake of something else (for at that rate the process would go on to infinity, so that our desire would be empty and vain), clearly this must be the good and the chief good. Will not the knowledge of it, then, have a great influence on life? Shall we not, like archers who have a mark to aim at, be more likely to hit upon what is right? [1]

So said Aristotle.

It is generally accepted that morality governs what one should do; morality deals with normative claims. To say that one should do something is to say that there is a goal one should reach, but both the means and the end make sense within morality if one can reach the end. Kant:

For if the moral law commands that we ought to be better human beings now, it inescapably follows that we must be capable of being better human beings. [2]

Aristotle also showed that this meaning of morality implies that one’s moral status is wholly chosen The Philosopher writes:

Now the exercise of the virtues is concerned with means. Therefore virtue also is in our own power, and so too vice. For where it is in our power to act it is also in our power not to act, and vice versa; so that, if to act, where this is noble, is in our power, not to act, which will be base, will also be in our power, and if not to act, where this is noble, is in our power, to act, which will be base, will also be in our power. Now if it is in our power to do noble or base acts, and likewise in our power not to do them, and this was what being good or bad meant, then it is in our power to be virtuous or vicious. [3]

From this all, it is plain that the Good must be attainable, and any moral agent must be able to be good by choice, and, on the reverse, any moral agent must be able to be evil by choice. If a man is doing anything volitionally at all, they have to be acting towards some goal, and that goal cannot be anything but the Good (for the Good is that which is aimed towards). Thus, what is not the Good is that which precludes the possibility of action towards the Good, for to deny this is to say that the Good is in not reaching the Good, a contradixion. This preclusion is the characteristic of an act which aims to deny free will, for accomplishing such a savage goal shall surely release one from moral concerns. A man is good, then, when he is able to attain the Good by virtue of what he is aiming towards and is able to reach – the Good – and evil when he reaches his goal when that which he is aiming towards is that which is not the Good, for this latter man, in his striving, strives to remain still; he strives to be outside moral concerns, to not have to pursue the true Good by rejecting pursuit itself, but he fails, as “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” [4]

This delineation of good and evil, being based solely on the definition of morality, is a priori true. Since the nature of Good is that which should be aimed towards, every man has the moral obligation to aim towards it, and those that do not are objectively evil. There are no gray areas.

B.) Aesthetics and Morality

The writer has his pen, the artist his brush, the musician his piano. Each of these serves one goal: to allow the artist to create. Each allows the artist to give an idea a concrete form, an embodiment in a world more visceral than that of thought. Therefore, one may learn about the artist’s moral code by what they deem worthy enough to create.

What does it say of a man if, when given the chance to show reality as all dream it can be – and it can be­ – he, instead, shows what hell is? What perversity does this require? It requires giving terror primacy over happiness; deeming war more suitable than peace; placing evil above good. And this is only speaking of his ideas – his ideas which he desperately wants to be the reality! Sartre writes:

The "engaged” writer knows that words are action. He knows that to reveal is to change and that one can reveal only by planning to change. He has given up the impossible dream of giving an impartial picture of Society and the human condition. Man is the being toward whom no being can be impartial, not even God. [5]

The true artist is not under the impression that reality is perfect; instead, he knows that it should be. Quoting Rand, the dear:

The Romanticists did not present a hero as a statistical average, but as an abstraction of man’s best and highest potentiality, applicable to and achievable by all men, in various degrees, according to their individual choices. [6]

This can only be considered regrettable by the evil being triumphed over.

The work of art is the object seen sub specie aeternitatis; and the good life is the world seen sub specie aeternitatis. This is the connection between art and ethics. [7]

1.) Creativity


GTOE is merely an overarching plot structure; it does not determine any of the intricacies of the story. Knowing the ending does not have to render the rest predictable. Columbo, for instance, always finds an ingenious way to identify the culprit the audience has known all along – it’s the journey where the creativity lies, and the plots aren’t any worse off for it. The range of variation is big enough to be able to accommodate more than one GTOE story without stagnation.


Firstly, my opponent never specifies the extent to which GTOE reduces creativity, not establishing the impact of GTOE. He only establishes that a lack of creativity would be bad, but not that GTOE, alone, has that much of an effect on creativity. At best, my opponent appeals to repetition, but this is vague and not useful in an on-balance debate – a debate where the difference between “$360b loss” and “incredibly marginal decrease in numbers of artisanal soap shops in Williamsburg” matters.

It should be clear that my opponent’s argument here does not apply uniquely. It only shows the negative impacts of commonality. His argument would work just as well against the “tropes” of the sky being blue, there being a lack of graphic rape and murder, and puppets telling kids to do anything but set fire to their houses, all at least as omnipresent as GTOE. The problem with this argument is that it completely ignores the very good reasons why these things are tropes.

If it would just be an “incremental increase” in creativity, is this not outweighed by GTOE being the aesthetically sound plot structure? Does not the vision of role models play a greater positive role in the lives of children than the fetishism of evil for the sake of “avoiding repetition”?

And even if GTOE has been a piece which has led to wasted potential, is GTOE itself “regretful”? Surely only the totality of the culture, the thing which is bad in itself, is regretful, not just one atomic portion?

Not everything creative is good; a child who also happens to be a serial killer is undoubtedly creative, but should probably not be encouraged. In this way, of course creativity should only happen within certain limits. It’s common sense.

2.) Real-World Learning


Morality only covers those things in man’s control [8]. As such, there can be no “impossible standards” when it comes to goodness. If one aims to have a “mixed” moral status, he is abdicating any moral worth he has; the proper term for this man is not “partially good, partially bad”, but “evil”. Rand, on the excuse used by those of the “Cult of Moral Grayness”:

The first thing one would say to any advocate of such a proposition, is: "Speak for yourself, brother!" And that, in effect, is what he is actually doing; consciously or subconsciously, intentionally or inadvertently, when a man declares: "There are no blacks and whites," he is making a psychological confession, and what he means is: "I am unwillling to be wholly good -- and please don't regard me as wholly evil!"[9]

Analysing actions is the basis for judgements of good and evil. I ask my opponent to explain how calling an evil man evil because he does evil deeds is improper.


My opponent has asserted a “moral duty”. There is no warrant given; this can be dismissed. Regardless, I have established that evil is done solely out of free will, and talk of “root causes” obfuscates this.


“Duty” and subjectivism are exclusive.

I have disproven this in my constructive case.


My opponent argues against GTOE because, in reality, G doesn’t TOE. This is exactly why GTOE is important. It is not meant to be a technical handbook or journalistic documentary about the solutions to all ills. It shows what all should move the world towards. And in this world, everything is so clearly divided. It is my opponent that would like to keep this out of the world and in Sunday morning cartoons.

“Fairyland is nothing but the sunny country of common sense. It is not earth that judges heaven, but heaven that judges earth; so for me at least it was not earth that criticised elfland, but elfland that criticised the earth.” [10]


Should the good not stand firm in their convictions? Should having such convictions at all not be a source of a sense of superiority? Should it not be so that the good recognise themselves as the good? Just conflict is nothing to regret.

In conclusion, GTOE is not something to be remorseful over; it is something to cherish.

[0] Sam Hyde, 2070 Paradigm Shift






[6] Wittgenstein, Notebooks





Debate Round No. 2


A) What Good and Evil Mean

Con's first quote is says that desire for something without any ulterior motive for obtaining it makes that something the greatest thing you can want. It establishes what's good for you based on your reasons for obtaining something, but that doesn't establish any kind of objective goodness, nor does it establish objective evil. Even if it did, the process of seeking to obtain that something doesn't establish a person as good " it only tells us that they have the strongest possible motive. In fact, none of the quotes explain that a person can obtain a state of goodness. Kant only tells us that we can become better, but that doesn't ascribe a state of goodness to us, nor does it explain how we determine which actions make us better.

Con's third quote says that both acting and not acting can be noble, and that in choosing to do one or the other, we choose "to be virtuous or vicious." So acting in some instances is virtuous, while inaction in others is also virtuous. Clearly, this is dependent on a case-by-case evaluation, and yet we're given no means to evaluate. Con's simply not addressing the key issue of perception altering views of what's good and evil, only hinting that there's some unknowable good goals we could be aiming towards and that others are evil. Just because we can volitionally choose which goals to pursue doesn't mean we can tell good from evil, and yet Con asserts that we can and that the only factors affecting good or evil are volitional. He drops nearly all of my arguments on the contrary on both points and fails to explain how either are true.

B) Aesthetics and Morality

Con"s argues that what the writer says becomes a kind of reality, and that by presenting a reality where GTOE, we are effectively providing a role model that people can aspire to be. Yet this idealized "good" role model has no clear benefits. Neither Rand nor Pro explain what benefits this creates. Regardless, my harms of lower CQs and otherization outweigh because they are substantial.

Nonetheless, I can see how modeling good behaviors helps (though we can still model good behavior are not present purely good characters). Still, these idealized role models actually do more harm than good. These aren"t just single goals you"re throwing at children: you"re telling them that they should embody all of the traits of the "good" individuals in the media that they watch. In doing so, we are setting them up for failure via depletion.[18] Ego depletion, which refers to the idea that there"s a limited pool of mental resources available to draw upon for the purpose of self-control and willpower, is an important facet of humanity that has been proven multiple times in psychological literature. Every goal stresses that pool of resources, and every difficult goal draws more out of the pool. We"re talking about the epitome of good here, ideals that move towards the extremes of what"s possible. Having unmet goals has been established to lead people towards immoral behaviors.[19, 20]

When we select role models who are truly exceptional performers, we actually end up learning less from them. Selecting the most extreme examples actually inhibits progress. When one sets a goal at the apex of what it is to be good, one sets a goal so high that, even if it is potentially reachable, it may often seem unreachable. In trying to reach that goal, likelihood of failure leads to the development feelings of inferiority, which leads to less productivity. Meanwhile, setting more reasonable expectations by presenting more relatable role models increased productivity.[21] Since both Con and I agree that "good" characters are "abstraction[s] of man"s best and highest potentiality", they are exceptional to the nth degree, making them terrible role models.

1) Creativity


Pro's response is basically just mitigation. I agree that, even with the GTOE trope, there is room for creativity. But there is also a clear need to improve CQs nationwide, and the failure to do so in status quo is evident, and while other means exist for boosting CQs, media offers the most effective means. Yet even with the other means of creativity at their disposal, the writers of these means of entertainment have clearly failed to elevate the creativity of the general population. Con dropped these arguments.


The fact that we can't quantify the specific effect of this trope does not erase its importance. I've explained how this specific trope is significantly limiting. I've examined why media's influence is one of the greatest on children, and therefore why any opportunity to enhance CQs is substantial. I've examined how big of a problem lost creativity is, quantifying the need for increased CQs. That need is massive, and even a partial solution can have tremendous effects. Con challenges none of this.

Even if my argument applies to all tropes (though I have specified the uniqueness of this trope), that doesn't damage my case. We can still recognize that certain tropes exist for good reasons and work towards rectifying this one. The sky is blue because that's objectively observed. Encouraging pyromania does substantial property damage and puts people in danger. If anything, these just establish further why my case is unique.

There is no harm in regretting a contributing factor to a larger problem if we recognize that GTOE is contributing to the problem. If anything, it provides a means for evaluating the whole of society and its effects on population CQ.

Lastly, the idea that we should limit creative learning opportunities on the basis that someone might use their increased CQ to become an effective serial killer is absurd. Con hasn't shown that increasing creative learning will lead to more serial killers, and we should not treat all creative learning as dangerous on the basis that some people misuse their newfound intelligence.

2) Real-World Learning


Con restates much of his previous argument and, for some reason, uses this debate as a source for one of his point. I've already addressed much of this explaining why, even under Con's view of good and evil, the vast majority of people would be relegated to "a 'mixed' moral status", or what Con is now referring to as "evil." The quote by Rand and Con's argument are both contingent on free will being the only factor in determining whether or not someone is good or evil, but I've already explained how this is only true if every human being actually can tell good from evil in every action. Recognizing that isn't always possible is not "abdicating any moral worth" - it's simply acknowledging that we are imperfect beings.

I've explained that most people would perceive themselves as good based on their own perception of what is moral. This is important because even if you buy that there are other means of evaluating what is good or evil, it's the perceptual factor that causes problems. That perception " that what I do is moral, and anyone who follows a different set of morals is evil " is exactly what leads to the practice of otherization and the view that anyone else is irredeemably evil, as Con suggests. In doing so, Con is supercharging the argument I'm providing, giving another set of warrants for why people perceive those with different moral values as evil. Recognitizing imperfection in our moral status on the other hand creates a sense of community that stops the cycles of otherization and hatred generated by treating most humans as evil.

As for the question Con asks, it's entirely reasonable to recognize that someone's deeds are harmful to others. But we're not talking about recognizing individual acts, but rather whole persons, as demonstrative of evil. Con hasn't provided any reason why we should do so.


Pro dismisses the moral duty without ever examining it. The warrant is clear: if there"s a substantive harm to society at large, society itself has a moral duty to seek to reduce that harm. Particularly in American society where we endeavor to treat others equally in our recognition of other cultures through freedom of religion and freedom of speech, the act of characterizing entire persons as good or evil functions against the diversity we endeavor to foster. There are also clear warrants and evidence for the argument that evil has root causes. Pro"s dismissal doesn"t make these disappear, nor do his previous arguments establish that evil is done "solely out of free will". Even if we agree with his assessment of how evil can be done, root causes can preclude or engender certain actions and can conceal what would be seen by others as "good." Thus, they are a form of evil that takes place outside of free will.


Nowhere in Con"s case does he prove that duty and subjectivism are exclusive, nor has he explained why that has any impact on the debate.


This is the same sort of role modeling argument Con gave earlier, and it"s just as flawed. Giving an ideal to move towards that can never be accomplished (and there is no way to ensure that good always triumphs over evil in every single situation) does far more harm than good. I"m not saying that the world cannot be presented in fantastic ways or that good should never win. I"m saying that this common narrative constantly reinforces an ideal that cannot be achieved, and that that inability to achieve it causes despair and depletion.


Again, the argument is not that no one should ever view themselves as good, and I have argued that practically everyone does view themselves as good. The resulting superiority complex, however, is a problem. Viewing oneself as good puts oneself in diametric opposition to evil, and the claim of superiority makes that evil inferior. We're told to triumph over that inferior evil in a very common narrative, and that leads to the practices I've described, none of which Con addresses.



A) What Good and Evil Mean

My opponent misunderstands the argument. It certainly does establish good and evil; the Good is the goal, and evil is that which contradicts the striving towards the goal.

The “strongest possible motive” is the motive to reach the ultimate Good in Itself. Anything else is, by definition, not the strongest possible motive. Also, my opponent misses the mark on the Kant quote; Kant meant exactly what he said: that there cannot be a moral ideal which one cannot reach, for one cannot strive towards that which is forever out of reach. When taken in context with the rest of my argument, this means that good men are good volitionally.

My opponent says I have given no means to evaluate goodness; this is simply false. That which impedes virtue is evil, and that which unlimits it is good.

This being given, it’s incredibly simple to distinguish good from evil - the metric is right there.

Perception is totally irrelevant here. I have given an objective moral standard; what people think does not matter, and my opponent has not given a reason to believe it does in relation to the resolution.

B) Aesthetics and Morality

My opponent says that I have offered no reason to prefer bringing goodness into the world, rather than evil. The problem is clear: there can be no reason to create evil, for evil is an anti-goal. To intentionally do evil is to give up any moral nature whatsoever. The evildoer then becomes non-moral, which means that they cannot be said to be “obligated to regret GTOE”.

Good is always preferable to evil simply because it is good. The good ought to be done, because the good is what ought to be done.

My opponent then goes on to talk about the troubles which come with high role models. This is all dealt with with the recognition that morality is voluntary. If, as my opponent even admits, these role models are at the upper limits of what is possible, they are still emulable.

If “limited mental resources” limit a child from an ideal, that child is a non-moral being, and therefore is irrelevant. If there is no such limit, ideals are not fiction.

1) Creativity


If there are virtually infinite variations within GTOE, and such variations are not enough to “raise creativity”, why would changing GTOE itself do anything? Why does GTOE have priority over anything else? If it doesn’t, why ought we regret it?

Consider Les Miserables, Good Will Hunting, and 24. Each are wildly different, yet each have GTOE. Does this matter, in light of their tremendous gaps?

Changing the colour of the sky is a change; many such changes are possible outside of changing GTOE.


Quantification is essential in an on-balance debate. Without quantification, there is no way to judge impacts; as such, this argument cannot be weighed objectively. Pro refuses to give a straight answer. How much do the impacts my opponent lists owe their severity to GTOE specifically?

The sky is blue, arson is bad, and good should triumph over evil. This is exactly my point - each trope is justified by objective reality.

Pro ignores the question: should any of the tropes I listed last round be regretted? And, if not, what makes GTOE regrettable, especially after I have shown its thorough grounding in reality?

My opponent strawmans my last point as well. I did not say that creativity should be limited because of the spectre of serial killers. I said that the spectre of serial killers shows that creativity is not a good in itself; it is not the be-all end-all. The serial killer is creative, yet should not be lauded, not because the creativity is bad, but because the creative medium, whether killing or ETOG, is bad.

2) Real-World Learning


My opponent accuses me of repeating my arguments, yet repeats his. I have conclusively shown the nature of morality many times over; extend those arguments.

There aren’t “types of evil” depending on one’s subjective whims. Evil transcends opinion. It is a metaphysical truth.

Individual acts, taken in totality, are what make an individual good or evil. This is not irrelevant.


I did not examine moral duty in depth because my opponent didn’t offer anything to examine. His argument was, in effect, “moral duty, therefore Pro.” Why moral duty? My opponent did not offer any answers.

Here, in his “clear” explication of the “implicit” warrant, my opponent does more of the same: he says that society has a moral duty to stop harm because… blankout. This is not an argument.

He then goes on to talk about how American society *acts*. This is purely descriptive, not normative - therefore, it has no bearing on ethics. What is is not a warrant for prescribing what ought to be.

My opponent must show *why* diversity should be fostered, not just point out that it is.


This is a logical truth: If evil is only done out of free will, and root causes *are causes* (aka external causes, which are incompatible with free will), then evil cannot have root causes. This is not “handwaving”; my opponent’s faulty conception of evil is handwaving. My conception of evil has been defended previously.


I assumed it was obvious to all that, if morals are not universal, the idea of an indiscriminate “duty” placed on anyone, regardless of their subjective values, is contradictory. It implies that objective claims (“Thou shalt care for your neighbour”) are compatible with claims against objectivity full stop. This is clearly absurd, and my opponent effectively refutes himself, unless he decides to drop one or the other.


I have shown, a priori, that, if something is good, it is achievable. Reasserting that it is not is not an argument.


My point here was that the good *should* be diametrically opposed to evil; the good *are*. Not recognising the superiority of the good can only help evil.

Debate Round No. 3


I'm modifying the structure this round. G&E = good and evil.

Con's case is actually one large contention split into two pieces: an establishing link story + a continuation of that story with some semblance of an impact. There is no solid impact to take from either piece. Even if you agree with Con, all that does is tell you that his view of G&E is better, and that setting up good role models is good because more people can become good, which is good because it's good... which is circular reasoning.

GTOE provides no clear benefit to society over the alternatives. If presenting a good role model is important, why not present G&E separately without requiring one to triumph over the other? Con talks about "just conflict," but never explains why it is beneficial to show to children. If good characters are all we care about, why not simply present good characters without evil? Why not have them triumph over non-moral problems that prevent them from achieving goodness? These would be much more relatable role models that wouldn't cause ego depletion because they would provide means for children to overcome these problems in real life. It also wouldn't require the creation of evil beings through creative media. Con argues that we shouldn't be creating evil, and yet his case he's defending GTOE, which requires the creation of evil so that it can be defeated. To triumph over something, it must exist, which means an artist must create said evil to have it be triumphed over; if this is the problem, i.e. that we should never intentionally create evil in any medium, then vote Pro right now. If evil is an ant-goal, and its creation "give[s] up any moral nature whatsoever", then by Con's own logic, the only way to move away from non-morality as a society and towards good is to regret GTOE for its creation of evil.

On Con's C1, if a misunderstanding occurred, then the reason is probably because the quotes are so detached from his conclusions. The first Aristotle quote does establish what "the good" is, but the criteria of personal motive is exceedingly subjective. We are given no means for someone to objectively view another person pursuing a goal and determine their motives, and therefore no means to evaluate goodness objectively.

Kant implies that there is some continuum for improvement by using "better" and not "good," yet Con has argued that, anyone with even a single goal that doesn't meet Con's definition of good is wholly evil. There are no incremental improvements; his views of G&E exist entirely in absolutes. I have shown that setting up the ideal of good actually functions against becoming better as the focus on the extremes actually precludes the process of betterment. Even if we can eventually reach that ultimate good, Con hasn't established that the least bit likely to happen. In the vast majority of cases, the pursuit of that ultimate good will come at the expense of any good. There is no betterment under Con's case, just despair and derision.

The final Aristotle quote doesn't fit his view of G&E either. Aristotle ascribes baseness and nobility to individual actions and not just the overall direction of those actions (i.e. goals). Clearly, there is G&E in individual actions. Con even admits this: "Individual acts, taken in totality, are what make an individual good or evil." Yet Con gives us no means to assess those specific actions or to weigh them against a goal or one another. This is a gaping hole in Con's analysis that leaves G&E subjective for every single action.

Con has also repeatedly dropped my evidence of root causes that prevent them from achieving goodness. With these thrown into the mix, Con's argument that free will governs G&E is upended, since we have no clear idea of whether external causes played a role in a given decision, which makes evil and non-moral indistinguishable. This renders the application of the terms subjective.

On Con's C2, the fact that everyone can emulate these role models does not mean that they will, and the failure to fully emulate results in what is essentially just evil (i.e. lack of self-control to pursue any goal) without any of the mental resources to achieve good. Con argues that limited mental resources are irrelevant, yet they prevent people from seeking those goals, which means that they are "[t]hat which impedes virtue." This is evil from Con's perspective. Even if these factors relegate you to non-moral status, the fact that these preclude people from becoming good is itself harmful and unique to his case.

Onto my contentions. Note that all of the evidence here is dropped, Con just tries to sever the link to his case.

On creativity, Con's own analysis of what feeds into G&E means that they prescript practically every motivation and action we take. This encompasses a tremendous amount of character design, essentially turning every good character into carbon copies of each other. I contest that the movies Con mentions contain such a character, but in instances where it is used, it basically sets up the same role model time and time again without variation. That's a huge loss to creative influence.

Con hasn't quantified a single one of his points. I've provided at least some means by which to assess the strength of my impacts: a maximum value lost and a metric to assess the value of increased CQs. Con solely mitigates these - he's never explained how CQs won't increase, or provided substantive harms to increased CQs. The closest he's gotten to the latter is some vague analysis regarding objective realities being portrayed and continuing to argue that creativity is not a pure good, though in both cases he fails to weigh the value or likelihood of these potential harms against the cited economic and societal values of increased CQs. It doesn't matter if I only engender a minute linear improvement to CQs. It at least has some quantification, even if it's difficult to assess just how much of that quantity is affected by GTOE.

On real-world learning, Con focuses on perspective. Even if Con's perception of G&E are objectively true, that truth is never guaranteed to be accepted or understood. And of course it relates to the resolution: a common narrative can be and in this case most certainly is appropriated to fit individual worldviews. Con dropped my point that people perceive themselves as good based on their own standards for what goodness is, and the GTOE trope does at least one thing very well: it puts them in opposition to a perceived evil. Con hasn't countered the effects of that opposition, meaning that all of the harms of othering can be extended.

Voters, you have two choices: you can either accept that G&E are subjective, which means that perception results in othering merely by means of personal perspective placing them in opposition to some "evil," or you can take Con's view that they are objective. If you do the latter, recognize that Con isn't just arguing what G&E are. He's arguing that the conflict of G&E should continue to be a common narrative, despite the evidence that such a stark, conflict-driven narrative is what pushes people to othering and dehumanization. All Con is doing is reinforcing the relegation of evil or non-moral people to a dehumanized status. Remember: we can both recognize that G&E are starkly defined and still regret GTOE because of what the emphasis on the superiority of good and the need to triumph over evil do to peoples' perceptions of each other.

I ascribed a clear moral duty to society that Con basically drops. A society is composed of people. If those people come to harm, society is itself harmed. Society should thus endeavor to reduce harm to people. Diversity does directly link to increased creativity in society,[22] which adds to my C1, but the duty of a society to reduce clear harms to itself is enough. Con hasn't argued that othering isn't harmful or that it doesn't happen, so he drops the warrants that establish why society has a vested interest in regretting a narrative that furthers these harms.

Con argues that subjectivity and duty are mutually exclusive. He's focused on the wrong part of my case. The impacts are what establish a duty, and those, by virtue of my evidence and Con's lack of rebuttal, are objective. I'm not ascribing a duty on the basis that G&E are subjective; I'm ascribing a duty based on the harms result from this on society, which are objective. And if G&E are objective, then GTOE is still clearly harmful regardless.


This is an on-balance debate, and as Con explained, we have to be able to weigh arguments objectively and in some quantifiable manner. He's got two impacts: upholding his "objective" reality, and good role models generated by GTOE specifically. We have no reason to believe that any substitute for GTOE is worse; in fact, merely removing the "TOE" part appears to be beneficial, since it doesn't require the creation of evil or othering. But even if there's some good in GTOE, there's no substance to any of his impacts. There's no way to determine how many people become good as a result of GTOE existing, we have no way to evaluate the effects of that increased goodness on society, and we have every reason to believe the role models it creates do substantial harm. He has nothing quantifiable and objectively evaluable.

I do. The value of higher CQs are at least quantifiable within a range, and we can measure economic and intellectual effects. We can observe and measure the effects of hatred and suffering, and evaluate the importance of these impacts for society. Those impacts establish substantial harms to society that, in turn, establish a duty to address those harms. Society has an obligation to its people to reduce the overall harms it faces, and GTOE undoubtedly causes more harm than good. Thus, society ought to regret its preponderance in children's media, where it is doing the most harm to the most vulnerable minds.

Vote Pro.



My opponent says that I have not shown any “benefit” of GTOE. This is a fundamental misunderstanding of my case. I have not endeavoured to show, as my opponent has, that certain statistics change due to the acceptance or rejection of GTOE; I have not made any mention of these sorts of things. What I have spent the whole of my case doing, and what I have done, is show that it is nonsensical to say that we “ought” to regret GTOE.

There would be nothing wrong with a work in which G and E are never seen in active conflict; a “passive” morality play is not, in any way, immoral. But that is, of course, not what this debate is concerned with. The question is not about whether “G-alone” narratives are better or worse than GTOE ones, but about whether GTOE’s prevalence is regrettable. Nothing about admitting some (moral) alternatives leads to the conclusion that GTOE is, itself, immoral.

As an aside, note that, this entire debate, my opponent has proposed as alternative only narratives which put G and E on equal footing, or even those which have ETOG. His arguments are centred around a destruction of the concepts of “good” and “evil”. The argument he is making now is entirely opportunistic and has no place with the rest of his established framework.

I have dealt with the supposed arguments against GTOE on the grounds of “ego-depletion” and so on through my analysis of volition’s role in morality.

As for “creating evil” in order for GTOE to exist, this point is based on a complete strawman of my argument. It is not that showing evil, in any form, is immoral. It is that showing a world where evil is superior to good is immoral.

Good and evil cannot coexist; a good man cannot be evil. Thus, when one writes a good man into a story, he is also introducing the idea of evil, but, this time, as a negation. This is much the same as when good defeats evil; the conclusion, the key to the narrative, shows evil being reduced to negation. The existence of good implies an evil triumphed over.

When I say that one must not create evil, I am referring to evil’s primacy. There may be an evil element in the work, but the work does not cast evil upon the world as long as that element is snuffed out.

My opponent states that Aristotle’s work does not show us a basis for objective morality. However, he does so completely ignoring my analysis of how to get from his ideas to an ethics. I quote myself fully, for there is no reason to say again what was said perfectly previously:

From this all, it is plain that the Good must be attainable, and any moral agent must be able to be good by choice, and, on the reverse, any moral agent must be able to be evil by choice. If a man is doing anything volitionally at all, they have to be acting towards some goal, and that goal cannot be anything but the Good (for the Good is that which is aimed towards). Thus, what is not the Good is that which precludes the possibility of action towards the Good, for to deny this is to say that the Good is in not reaching the Good, a contradixion. This preclusion is the characteristic of an act which aims to deny free will, for accomplishing such a savage goal shall surely release one from moral concerns. A man is good, then, when he is able to attain the Good by virtue of what he is aiming towards and is able to reach – the Good – and evil when he reaches his goal when that which he is aiming towards is that which is not the Good, for this latter man, in his striving, strives to remain still; he strives to be outside moral concerns, to not have to pursue the true Good by rejecting pursuit itself, but he fails, as ‘If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.’

My opponent admits my point re: Kant. For there to be a continuum, there must be two ends: good and evil. Since the totality of the continuum must be accepted (my opponent does accept the continuum), and since any point must be reachable by a previous point, either by moving left or right along the line of morality, good must be reachable. If good is reachable, and if one must always try to reach it, the quote says exactly what I have said it says. This is a deductive argument that my opponent admits the assumptions of.

Pro, again, misinterprets The Philosopher. Actions are judged because actions aim towards ends. I have explained this above.

I have proven that “root causes” are totally irrelevant in moral philosophy time and time again, and my opponent, in his usual manner, has chosen to just claim that he’s dealt with these proofs. Let the voters read our exchanges and know that he has not.

The “failure” to emulate good characters can be understood much more clearly as this: the failure to be good. In this form, it is clear that a “lack of self-control” is no excuse. The murderer who pulled the trigger out of a lack of self-control does not get carte blanche; no evil can be excused for any reason.

Anyone who tries to become good but fails would not otherwise be good. For, to try to strive for something requires not having reached it already, meaning that they were already, at best, amoral. Their failings are the failings of their characters, not the characters of Scooby Doo.

My opponent also ignores a distinction; having “limited mental resources” makes one amoral, and thus they would never have been given the option to be good or evil in the first place. GTOE has no effect on them.

Pro handwaves away my point that, even in movies which all follow GTOE to a T, there are incredible variations in characters by saying that he “disagrees”. Then he says that I have not offered any reason to accept my point here. This is clear sophistry, and voters should consider this point as dropped by him.

Pro says that good and evil are dependent on “individual worldviews” and that, often, people mistake the good for evil. This has absolutely no relevance to my case. Those people are making a mistake, due to the objective nature of good and evil. They are just plain wrong. This affects reality in no way.

My opponent has kept saying that he has “ascribed a clear moral duty” based on the fact that “society” is harmed by GTOE. This is exactly what I have been asking him to formulate as an actual argument. Nowhere in “X damages society along these lines” is “Society has a moral duty to rally against X” implied. And I have made my point clear here. I gave him the opportunity to respond and give his warrant for his claim. My opponent has, thus, completely failed to substantiate this contention, and it must be dropped.

No “vested interest” can be assumed just because my opponent says it can.

My opponent mangles moral philosophy when he says that he can prescribe a moral duty on the basis that morality is subjective, or, more precisely (to appease him), on the basis that there “objective harms” which result from the subjectivity of good and evil. Either way, his case depends upon the assumption that good and evil are subjective. He says himself that this is true. Let us analyse what this means:

A) That “good”, being that which one should do, cannot be determined by anyone except the individual, and two individuals’ conceptions of what is good can differ;

B) That “evil”, being that which one should not do, cannot be determined by anyone except the individual, and two individuals’ conceptions of what is good can differ;

C) That, therefore, what one should and should not do are not able to be prescribed;

D) That a “duty”, which is to say a “moral obligation” to do a certain thing, which is to say a “Thou Shalt”, cannot be prescribed;

E) That duty and the subjectivity of good and evil are wholly contradictory notions.

My opponent says that “All Con is doing is reinforcing the relegation of evil or non-moral people to a dehumanized status”, presumably showing that, even if good and evil are objective, they still have harms. However, if they are objective, I have shown exactly why the dehumanisation of evil is a fundamental good. My argument remains unscathed.


What I have shown:

1.) One cannot say that they “ought” to prefer ETOG.

2.) Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must remain silent.

3.) Therefore, we cannot advocate ETOG as an alternative to GTOE.

4.) Therefore, GTOE is not regrettable, for it is our only option.

This is a bulletproof deductive argument that precedes and precludes every stat my opponent dares throw out. My opponent has spent little effort even analysing it, so it stands, pillars pristine.

Vote Con.

Debate Round No. 4
13 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by ShabShoral 1 year ago
Same to you. Fun times.
Posted by whiteflame 1 year ago
Good debate, Shab.
Posted by ThinkBig 1 year ago
Probably won't be able to get to this by the time the voting period ends. Sorry.
Posted by ballpit 1 year ago
Im planning on voting on this and the seemingly unorganized nature of some rounds is getting too me. These types of debates suck to vote on because of the topic but regardless good debate from both sides expect a vote before the week is out.
Posted by whiteflame 1 year ago
I don't mean to extend my arguments into the comments, but it's not a binary choice between good triumphing and evil triumphing (i.e. we can regret GTOE and not support ETOG as a new common narrative), so I don't really get why people would voluntarily spend their free time building common narratives that evil triumphs in a world where we regret common narratives where good triumphs. Maybe the general will of writers to spend their time on other narratives is a concern, but I'm honestly not sure why.
Posted by RoyLatham 1 year ago
If good triumphing over evil were not a common narrative in children's entertainment, it wouldn't be children's entertainment. What child or adult would want to voluntarily spend their free time on narratives in which it is common that evil triumphs? Both debaters accepted the premise, which is fair enough, but it makes the debate tough to judge. It's like, "Society should regret that children's entertainment does not teach integral calculus."
Posted by whiteflame 1 year ago
Good debate, man. Should be interesting to see how this plays out.
Posted by missmozart 1 year ago
@ThinkBig and ShabShoral
I must be the only person who finds classical music equally as disturbing as any other genre, lol.
Posted by ShabShoral 1 year ago
That was an incredible res; thank you.
Posted by ThinkBig 1 year ago
Haha @Con, I hear ya. That's why I always play classical music while I am writing arguments or working.

I must say, fantastic debate to both of you. Remind me when it is over and I'll be sure to vote on it.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by YYW 1 year ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
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