The Instigator
TheSkeptic
Pro (for)
Winning
9 Points
The Contender
Tim_Spin
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Some remotely interesting philosophical issue.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/22/2011 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,519 times Debate No: 17997
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (10)
Votes (3)

 

TheSkeptic

Pro

Pretty simple, I hope I can continue getting away with this lazy format.

Round 1 consists of my introduction and my opponent listing at least 3 philosophical issues to debate. If desired, they can choose which side of the debate I am on (me being PRO is merely wording, as double negatives obviously exist). The more topics the better.

Fingers crossed for an enjoyable debate.
Tim_Spin

Con

1)- That Hoppean argumentation ethics is a justified theory of rights. (I would be Pro)

Hoppean argumentation ethics- ethical system aimed at arriving at normative ethical conclusions through analyzing the presuppositions of discourse and arriving at libertarian conclusions( self ownership, private property). Pre-requisites for justification will be a part of my argument.

2)- Free will and determinism are incompatible. (I would be Pro)

Free will is The power of making free choices that are unconstrained by external circumstances or by an agency such as fate or divine will. Determinism is The philosophical doctrine that every state of affairs, including every human event, act, and decision is the inevitable consequence of antecedent states of affairs.

3)- That ethical non-naturalism is a superior ethical theory than ethical naturalism. (I would be Pro)

Ethical naturalism is the meta-ethical view that (a) moral statements are truth apt, (b) these statements are made true through objective features in the world, and (c) these objective features are reducible to a set of non-moral facts.[1]

Ethical non-naturalism agrees with points a and b of the definition of ethical naturalism but disagrees with point c. Ethical non-naturalism holds that the objective features of the world that make ethical statements truth apt are irreducible to a set of non-moral facts. Superior will be defined as being more warranted or better upheld. Common sense will dictate it's definition.

I look forward to an interesting debate with TheSkeptic. Good luck.
Debate Round No. 1
TheSkeptic

Pro

My opponent has provided 3 enthralling topics and I applaud him for that - I will choose the third topic: That ethical non-naturalism is a superior ethical theory than ethical naturalism. It should be noted that as CON, I need not show that ethical naturalism is am adequately justified account of morality but rather that the rational weight behind it is more significant than ethical non-naturalism.

In regards to the actual debate, I won't divulge much until my opponent's round as well given that I want to respond the specific arguments he employs and not possible arguments relating to this topic. But as a precursor to my position, I'd argue that the Open Question argument employed by Moore has lost much of it's intuitive power, falling to several deeply flawed problems concerning begging the question, or being highly uncharitable in respect to analytic truths. It's not granted that my opponent would follow along Moore's line (as ethical non-naturalism is a conundrum to even define and classify accordingly), but I figure this is a common start.
Tim_Spin

Con

Premise 1: Assuming moral realism, moral claims are either reducible or irreducible to non-moral facts.

This premise is best explained via analogy. If you go to a library, there will either be book(s) or no book(s). This is not a false dichotomy. It's simply descriptive of the options that we are given. Now with moral claims, they can either be reduced to non-moral facts or not. It's a yes/no question in this case. And so disproving A necessarily implies B since A and B are the only two options and common sense dictates that one must be true. So a refutation of one theory both fulfills a negative burden to refute the opponent's case a positive burden to bring one's own case.

Premise 2: Ethical naturalism holds that moral claims are reducible to non-moral facts.

Premise 3: Moral claims are not reducible to non-moral facts.

This was brought up by Hume in his is-ought problem. There is a gap that still exists between a descriptive claim about the world(abortion is an act of killing) and a prescriptive claim(one should not have an abortion). This is because there is no evaluative premise involved as to the moral status of killing. It is simply pre-supposed. An example would be an argument not to eat spinach. P1: Spinach does not taste good. C1: I should not eat spinach. It lacks a necessary premise to justify the conclusion. If a P2 was added in that said, "I should not eat things that do not taste good." then the conclusion would logically follow. The same goes with justification of a jump between descriptive and prescriptive statements.

The way ethical naturalists propose a way around this problem is to add an evaluative premise on what makes things good, which are identified with natural properties(e. g. eating causes pleasure, pleasure is good, people should eat). But ethical naturalists run into another problem in order to avert the is-ought problem. Moore called it the open-question argument and from there, the naturalistic fallacy. The open-question argument states that assigning natural properties to moral concepts inevitably results in another open-question.

Take for example the question of whether or not abortion is wrong. An ethical naturalist would try to explain the morality or immorality of abortion with reference to a natural property that it entails. Most of the time it would be in reference to the fact that abortion takes a life and because of this, it is wrong. But this leads us to another question of why taking a life is wrong. We have simply replaced the term abortion with killing. Explaining moral concepts via natural properties is what Moore called the "naturalistic fallacy".

Conclusion 1: Moral claims are irreducible to non-moral facts.

As was explained before, there are two options. Either moral claims are reducible to moral facts or they are not. Since I have sufficiently shown why when tying to reduce moral claims, one must first come over the is-ought problem and the necessary conditions to move past the is-ought problem make one run into the open-question argument and the naturalistic fallacy, moral claims are thus irreducible to non-moral facts. In order to refute this line of reasoning, my opponent must either show that there is a third option that my reasoning implies that I am not mentioning, show a naturalistic bridge between descriptive and prescriptive statements, or show a way around the open-question argument. I will go more indepth into my points once I see what kind of reasoning my opponent plans to use. But for now I feel I have made a sufficiet first case and I now pass the debate back to my opponent.
Debate Round No. 2
TheSkeptic

Pro

I want to run with the idea my opponent mentioned, namely that "a refutation of one theory both fulfills a negative burden to refute the opponent's case a positive burden to bring one's own case." This is particularly important and useful to remember as sustaining a debate on the merits of both ethical naturalism AND non-naturalism at the same time is quite unpractical in this medium. Given that my opponent has continued my discussion concerning Moore's open question argument - a once and perhaps still preemptive argument against ethical naturalism - I will discuss the merits of the argument. Furthermore, since I wouldn't fulfill my burden by simply defending an attack on my position, I will also muster an argument against non-naturalism. Thus, my case is twofold.

Open Question Argument

To begin, I'm not exactly sure if my opponent's understanding of the open question argument (OQA) and the naturalistic fallacy is accurate - at the very least, his representation of it is not. To avoid any confusion, let's set out with defining the two concepts before I reject the OQA.

The naturalistic fallacy is somewhat of a misnomer (something that Moore himself acknowledges), for it need not refer only to 'naturalistic theories'. Rather, more specifically it is an attack on reductionism in ethics. He argues that philosopers err when they say "good is pleasure", and thus equate the two concepts as one. It is coherent to say "I am tall", and understand that "I" and "tallness" are not the same. However, when it comes to goodness, philosopers make a meaning analysis of good when they claim "good is pleasure", instead of detailing a constituent property.

The OQA isn't in reference to the ability of one to keep asking "why", or letting us ask any successive question. Rather, the point is if a philosopher were to tell us "good is pleasure", would it make sense for us to ask "is pleasure good?". For example, when we deal with the proposition that "all bachelors are unmarried", the question "are all unmarried men bachelors" is a closed question -- it is meaningless to ask such a question, since the very apprehension of the question answers it already. Given that we can always ask an open question of any moral property, Moore claims goodness is irreducible.

Several points can be made about the OQA: it is circular in it's argument (as brought up by Frankena) for calling a question meaningless is to say the two constituents are equivalent. Moore states that asking "is it so that x is y?" is meaningless if x and y are equivalent, therefore saying a question is meaningless implies equivalency! It implies that "good is pleasure"! Further points regarding Frege's sense-reference distinction helps emphasis the point that the naturalistic fallacy is moreso a "definitionalist fallacy", and indeed one that is too harsh for it eliminates any meaningful discussion in analytic philosophy.

Supervenience Argument

It's a simple but powerful argument, one that demonstrates ethical naturalism as having an easy and satisfying explanation, whereas non-naturalism at a peculiar loss. If we can accept the premise that given 2 worlds were exactly identical in every natural property, there will be no moral difference in the world, then the conclusion is easily reached. This is a relatively uncontroversial premise: we can all agree that if nothing changed about the situation surrounding Hitler, he would still remain evil. It would be a philosophical circus trick to imagine how he can be thought of as a saint if NOTHING about natural facts were to change.

Given this apparanet supervenience of natural facts on moral facts, how does non-naturalism explain this? This lack of an explanation is an argument for pointing at the defeciency of a non-naturalist theory.
Tim_Spin

Con

Tim_Spin forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
TheSkeptic

Pro

Supposedly my opponent is a weakling who succumbed to sleep. Let's see if he can help himself in the next round ;)
Tim_Spin

Con

Supervenience Argument

My opponent's main case against ethical non-naturalism is that,"given 2 worlds were exactly identical in every natural property, there will be no moral difference in the world". If every natural property were the same, and there is no moral difference then one must conclude that moral properties are themselves natural. However this argument is much weaker than it seems at first glance. For one, it begs the question in it's main premise. In order to justify the premise, that two worlds with the same natural properties would have the same moral properties, we must assume the conclusion.

For what justification does my opponent bring to lead us to believe that moral properties would be the same? He simply claims that Hitler would still be a bad person given another world where he performed the same actions. But again, no justification! My opponent claims that this thought experiment and it's necessary implications are "uncontroversial", but regardless of the seemingly common sense nature of the argument, justification must be brought. If one argues that the the Earth is round, referring to the general acceptance of this fact is hardly reason to accept the argument.

Open Question Argument

My opponent's objection to the open question argument is misleading. He claims that because it states that a question is meaningless if the two subjects are equivalent(goodness and say what is natural for example), claiming that the argument is meaningless in itself implies equivalency of good and some other property, allegedly proving that goodness is reducible to some other property rendering the open question unsound. However my opponent makes the mistake of assuming the equivalence of the two subjects from the beginning, essentially begging the question. Claiming that a question is meaningless only implies equivalency if we assume initial equivalence. The open question argument argues that the assumption made in reducing moral properties is unsound. To say that is not t o admit equivalence but just to draw conclusions from assumptions made in the opposing arguments to begin with.

Debate Round No. 4
TheSkeptic

Pro

Supervenience Argument

While my opponent may voice some preliminary concerns (the legitimacy of intuition/questioning the meager connection of observing a pattern between two sets of properties), he doesn't do much beyond this. It's a shame and perhaps a more grievous error than that. The supervenience of moral properties on natural properties is a commonly held position across the metaethical spectrum - I don't mean to bring this up as an argument ad populum, but rather to point that the intutional weight behind the idea should at least merit more discussion than simple dismissal. Without getting deep into the epistemological merits of intuition (perhaps some rough coherentist approach), at the VERY least the thought experiment should be scrutinized.

Once again, the idea is: given 2 worlds were exactly identical in every natural property, there will be no moral difference in the world. If we have 2 identical worlds involving Hitler (i.e. our world), it would be highly unclear how Hitler can be morally evil in one world and morally benevolent in the other - this intuition implies that moral facts supervene on the natural. And in fact, this common sensical view spread throughout every talk and applications of moral thinking. The way we formulate and apply our laws depend on such a supervenient relationship, otherwise it'd be pure chaos and foolishness when creating laws.

Let me ask you, the non-naturalist: how do you ethically categorize certain events, intentions, etc.? And ask yourself how reliant such categorizations are to natural properties; it seems supervenience is a necessity. I hoped we could have delved into a discussion concerning the supervenience argument, as it has attracted a lot of attention in the past century.

Open Question Argument

"The open question argument argues that the assumption made in reducing moral properties is unsound."

...by way of showing that the analytical equivalency of goodness and property X reduce into a closed question. The OQA states that something is meaningless in the sense of it being a closed question due to analytical equivalency -- obviously we are using meaningless in a specific sense that Moore intended. Thus, to claim that a question is meaningless is to inadvertently claim analytic equivalency: if A = B, then B = A.
Tim_Spin

Con

Tim_Spin forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Tim_Spin 3 years ago
Tim_Spin
I was writing my argument up last night and derp fell asleep. This morning I woke up and had to go straight to school where the time expired, if my math is correct it was when I was in Speech class. Oh well.
Posted by TheSkeptic 3 years ago
TheSkeptic
erm
Posted by Tim_Spin 3 years ago
Tim_Spin
Wrote out my response to the supervenience argument, now just finishing up my response to the open question argument.
Posted by TheSkeptic 3 years ago
TheSkeptic
lol no rush
Posted by Tim_Spin 3 years ago
Tim_Spin
I'll have my argument up in a few hours.
Posted by Tim_Spin 3 years ago
Tim_Spin
So I should provide my argument this round?
Posted by Tim_Spin 3 years ago
Tim_Spin
Forgot to post my source.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
Posted by Tim_Spin 3 years ago
Tim_Spin
I might now to spite you!jk
Posted by Kinesis 3 years ago
Kinesis
Looks like this might be a good exchange: assuming, that is, that Tim doesn't forfeit. :P
Posted by Tim_Spin 3 years ago
Tim_Spin
Should I post opening arguments or leave that to you.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Krazzy_Player 6 months ago
Krazzy_Player
TheSkepticTim_SpinTied
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Reasons for voting decision: FF
Vote Placed by gordonjames 1 year ago
gordonjames
TheSkepticTim_SpinTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Not showing up is a big deal in a debate. Regarding the question, I expected some discussion of the difference between morality (personal character) and ethics (the social system) and the question of an objective right vs. wrong or good vs. bad. Without these being clearly defined it is hard to know the boundaries of the debate.
Vote Placed by Ore_Ele 2 years ago
Ore_Ele
TheSkepticTim_SpinTied
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: At best, Con fell to only trying to punch holes into Pro's arguments (in the 4th round) and did not defend his own at all. Since he was Pro for the resolution (though listed as "Con" for the debate), he needed to do more than that.