The Instigator
KroneckerDelta
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Kinesis
Con (against)
Winning
16 Points

Sources have no place in a Philosophical Debate other than to define terms and give counterexamples.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
Kinesis
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/2/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,921 times Debate No: 29797
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (10)
Votes (4)

 

KroneckerDelta

Pro

Resolution: Sources have no place in a Philosophical Debate other than to define terms or provide counterexamples.

Clarification of Resolution: "or" is meant in the mathematical sense, meaning that sources are reasonable to use in philosophical debate when either they are used to define terms or used to provide counterexamples, or both.

Any honest debater is justified in being concerned about plagiarism. From a philosophical standpoint, I see this as a moot point. I contend that sources which serve to alleviate any concern of plagiarism are outside of the scope of what I am discussing. A debater should be able to express concerns raised by other philosophers in the debater's own words and if they feel that they should reference the philosopher so they are not improperly credited with an original thought, then so be it. This is more of a moral acknowledgement of inspiration rather than a source that serves to prove the debater's point.

BOP: Con has the BOP. Pro will present arguments that the resolution is true. To properly refute Pro, Con must show that indeed sources are necessary in, at least some, Philosophical debates (as outlined in the resolution--i.e. they must present arguments for sources other than definitions or counterexamples). If Con can present at least one case where sources are necessary, then Con has won the debate.

Sources: As the purpose of this debate is to determine whether or not sources are necessary, sources must be allowed in this debate. However, Con cannot present a source and then use the existence of that source in this debate as refutation of the resolution. On the other hand, Con is justified in argueing that any sources provided by Pro constitute an example of why sources are necessary (again, as outlined in the resolution).

In the spirit of the purpose of this debate, Con should not present unreasonable amounts of sources. If Con presents a multitude of sources without explaining how each source is relevant to this debate, this is grounds for voting Pro.

Caveat: Con can theoretically present a "counterexample" which references another philosophical debate where sources are used. For this to be a valid refutation of the resolution, Con must argue for why the sources in their counterexample are necessary, rather than merely stating: "Here is an example where sources are are used in a debate."

Structure of Debate:
This debate is 3 rounds long to allow for both parties to make their case and present new arguments in Round 2 depending on arguments made in Round 1.

Round 1: Both parties will present their case.
  • Pro: Pro is expected to present their case for the resolution.
  • Con: Con is expected to rebut Pro's case and/or present a counter case (i.e. an example such that sources are necessary in a philosophical debate)
Round 2: Rebuttal - new arguments are allowed.
  • Pro: Pro is expected to rebut all claims made by Con in Round 1 and is allowed to make new arguments as they see fit.
  • Con: Con, by the end of this round, should have refuted all claims made by Pro (in both Round 1 and Round 2)--any claim that Pro has made to this point that is not refuted in this round is considered to be conceded by Con. Con may rebut arguments made in Round 1 by Pro that they[Con] did not refute in Round 1. Con may introduce new arguments. Although this is difficult to enforce, Con should try to avoid making new arguments that would reasonably require more than 1 more round of debate. As an example, Con should not ask questions of Pro which are intended to elicit a response from Pro such that Con will refute the logical response in Round 3.
Round 3: Final Rebuttal/Conclusion. No new arguments are allowed!
  • Pro: Pro will rebut all of Con's claims made in Round 2 and conclude.
  • Con: Con may refute Pro's Round 3 rebuttal and then conclude.
How to win this debate: For Pro to win this debate, they must 1) motivate and defend why sources should not be used in philosophical debates and 2) must refute all of Con's examples of why sources are necessary. If Pro fails to convince why sources should not be used or Con shows that sources are necessary in at least some philosophical debates, then Con has won the debate.

Opening Arguments:

I see that evidence can be divided into two categories:
  1. Empirical Evidence
  2. Philosophical Evidence
I argue, prima facie, that empirical evidence has no bearing on philosophical debates. Philosophical debates deal in the rational (or logical) conclusions one can reach. Since empiricism is inherently illogical, empirical evidence should not be used in philosophical debates.

As a simple counterexample, I present the following proposition:

The Earth is the center of the universe because epicycles correctly predict the position of the planets.

Definition of Epicycle (for reference): http://en.wikipedia.org...;

Con must bear with me (and to a large extent, accept this particular argument). First, I want to be clear that I am not arguing that the Earth is the center of the Universe. Instead, I am arguing that the empirical evidence (i.e. the measured positions of the planets) are in agreement with the theory of epicycles and thus that the Earth is the center of the Universe (according to this theory). At this point I expect both Pro and Con to agree that this notion (that the Earth is the center of the Universe) is absurd and thus empirical evidence leads us to accept an incorrect proposition.

Here is a simpler example of why empiricism is incorrect. Let's consider that Bob routinely eats rye bread that is one month past its expiration date. Bob observes that despite the appearance of mold on the bread that he, within 5 years of habitually eating this moldy bread, never gets sick. Based on the empirical evidence, Bob assumes the bread is safe to eat within a month of its expiration date. However, we know that eventualy Bob will become sick (perhaps due to ergot poisoning). His logic that because he has yet to become sick that he will never become sick is invalid--it is illogical.

These two examples provide examples of why empiricism is illogical and thus empirical evidence should not be presented as evidence of a philosophical argument, unless that empirical evidence provides a counterexample to the argument being made.

The rye bread example is a perfect example of where empirical evidence provides a valid counterexample of a given claim. Bob claims that eating rye bread within a month of its expiration date is safe. Yet if there is empirical evidence that shows people getting sick from eating rotten rye bread, then this empirical evidence provides a counterexample that refutes Bob's claim.

Empirical evidence is only a valid source when providing a counterexample.

I almost reject philosophical evidence outright. By philosophical evidence, I mean external (not from the debater) logical arguments for or against whatever topic is being debated, including hypothetical examples.

Do not get me wrong, this is the crux of any philosophical debate. But that is why such deferments should not be used as sources. As an example, if I wish to refute the Cogito argument, I might merely say, see Williams refutations [1]. First, the citation alone, does not refute the Cogito argument. If I wish to use Williams' argument against cogito ergo sum, then I should state and defend it.

The other debater is not (or at least should not be) interested in debating Williams. If they were, they could go read the work of Williams. Such referrals are better sutied for discussions, not debates. The critiquer citing Williams should present Williams' argument in their own words to convince the other debater that the critiquer is correct. It's perfectly fine to cite Williams as the source of the argument presented, but the critquer should not merely state Williams refutes the Cogito ergo sum argument as evidence--this is insufficient for a debate.

[1] Criticisms of Cogito ergo sum: http://en.wikipedia.org...
Kinesis

Con

Sup.

Firstly, I assume I'm not supposed to be showing that sources are logically necessary for a philosophical debate. At most, I might argue that for some philosophical debates, sources are logically necessary for a successful debate - which I am stipulatively defining as one which resolves the issue with the truth. It isn't utterly essential that sources be used in the same way that it essential that I must exist in some form to be taking part in this debate. Rather, I take it that my burden is to show that sources/empirical evidence are relevant, insightful, useful or in some way serve some important purpose (beyond definitions or counterexamples) that justifies their 'place' in a philosophical debate.

Con Case

Firstly, the division Pro draws between "philosophical" and "empirical" evidence is misguided. Empirical evidence has a bearing on a wide range of philosophical topics - arguably all of them, in fact. The reason? A priori, or mental justifications for positions such as "the shortest distance between two points is a straight line" and "borrowing something without permission is morally wrong" are reliable or not depending upon how our brains work. Thus, neuroscience has an important role to play in philosophical inquiry.

Also, theistic philosophy, normative ethics, political philosophy and many other branches all have clear intersections with empirical evidence. Whether god exists or not obviously has some relation with how the physical universe is. So does the best may to maximise utility, or protect property rights.

Even logic is not entirely immune to empirical evidence - advances in quantum physics, for example, have called into doubt the truth of the law of excluded middle: http://plato.stanford.edu... - by the way, explaining why that is would take all too much time and be pointless - you don't need to know why that is the case, only that it is the case. This isn't necessary to prove my point, but it is relevant and carries weight - and I would say, that shows that sources can have a role in a philosophical debate such as this one.

Thus, sourcing evidence regarding neuroscience, quantum physics, economics, evolutionary biology has entirely legitimate purposes in a wide range of philosophical issues.

Counterarguments.

"Any honest debater is justified in being concerned about plagiarism. From a philosophical standpoint, I see this as a moot point. I contend that sources which serve to alleviate any concern of plagiarism are outside of the scope of what I am discussing. A debater should be able to express concerns raised by other philosophers in the debater's own words and if they feel that they should reference the philosopher so they are not improperly credited with an original thought, then so be it. This is more of a moral acknowledgement of inspiration rather than a source that serves to prove the debater's point."

I consider this a concession of the entire debate - if there is a moral obligation to credit a philosopher with her/his original argument, then that is a reason to allow sources in a philosophical debate. It is clearly within the scope of the debate, because it is not a definition or a counterexample, which are the only exeptions allowed under the resolution.

Pro says: "since empiricism is inherently illogical, empirical evidence shouldnotbe used in philosophical debates"

This doesn't follow at all. If empricism (i.e. the claim that all or the vast majority of knowedge is derived directly from the senses) is false, this does not mean empirical evidence should be disregarded entirely. Rather, one can maintain that evidence from the sense is viewed, or understood, in the context of a set of mental abilities that interpret and draw conclusions from that evidence. One can maintain that knowledge is derived from both the mental and the empirical, with the former coming prior to the latter.

Quotes from Pro:

1. "this notion (that the Earth is the center of the Universe) is absurd and thus empirical evidence leads us to accept an incorrect proposition"

2. "His logic that because he has yet to become sick that he willneverbecome sick is invalid--it is illogical."

3. "if there is empirical evidence that shows people getting sick from eating rotten rye bread, then this empirical evidence provides a counterexample that refutes Bob's claim."

Pro is trying to have his cake and eat it - on the one hand he argues that empirical evidence should not be used in defense of positive claims because of those two examples, and on the other he agrees that claims can be refuted with empirical evidence - but he never tells us why it can be used the former case but not the latter.

Put another way, if Bob's original reasoning process is fundamentally flawed in the second case, then it is also fundamentally flawed in the third case. Bob's mistake was NOT using empirical methods - his mistake was not consulting ENOUGH empirical evidence. Had he been aware of the evidence from medical biology, he would have realised that his original conclusion, made provisionally likely by his limited set of observations, was superceded by a larger set of more reliable observations.

Empirical evidence without any mental structure is NOT required to defend the Con case. The reason physicists generally don't take epicycles to show that the earth is the centre of the universe despite them being compatible is because of a prior worldview in which it seems out of place for the earth to be so central to the universe. This does not show that empirical evidence is useless, it shows that empirical evidence takes place in a context.

"The critiquer citing Williams should present Williams' argument in their own words to convince the other debater that the critiquer is correct. It's perfectly fine to cite Williams as the source of the argument presented, but the critquer should not merely state Williams refutes the Cogito ergo sum argument as evidence--this is insufficient for a debate."

Again, this seems like another concession of the debate. Isn't citing Williams as the source of an argument the same as showing that sources have a place in philosophical debates besides giving definitions or counterexamples? I might want to condense Williams argument into a smaller form to fit the character limits, but also wish to cite his argument so that people can read the argument in extended form if they so wish - is that not a legitimate reason?

I have shown that sources have a range of legitimate uses in philosophical debates, that Pro's arguments contradict themselves and that the resolution fails under Pro's own concessions.

Vote for meee.
Debate Round No. 1
KroneckerDelta

Pro

Unfortunately, Pro believes, as the resolution is stated, that Pro's position is now untenable.

While Pro does not agree with most of Con's arguments, Con was able to present a valid reason to use a source other than for definitions, to present a counterexample, or to avoid the appearance of plagiarism.

Pro concedes that offering a synopsis of someone else's work, and then citing their work to provide more detail (if the debater or voters wish) is a use of sources which is not a definition, not a counterexample, and, although similar to avoidance of plagiarism, not the same. In fact, Pro can now, himself, come up with another instance where sources would be useful other than those mentioned in the resolution (and clarification of resolution).

Due to this concession, Pro has no choice but to recommend a vote for the Con.


While Pro concedes the debate, in the spirit of debate, I will continue, as I feel Con has only presented one example where sources would be useful so far. If Con feels it is unnecessary or not fruitful to continue the debate, then Pro will cheerfully oblige. It is unnecessary for Con to present any arguments in Round 2 or Round 3 to win this debate.

As for the plagiarism use case, Pro feels that since this was mentioned in the clarification of resolution and that it's clear by Pro's arguments that this use was to be excluded.


Empirical Evidence:

Con incorrectly asserted that Pro claimed empirical arguments/evidence had no place whatsoever in philosophical debates. Pro, in fact made no such claim rather stated that empirical evidence should only be used when trying to prove a negative (i.e. as a counterexample).

"Rather, one can maintain that evidence from the sense is viewed, or understood, in the context of a set of mental abilities that interpret and draw conclusions from that evidence." - Con

There is no doubt that empirical evidence plays a role in our understanding of the world. In a science debate, such empirical evidence supporting one's claim is indeed valid (and probably necessary). However, when discussing philosophy, I believe there is a much higher standard. I believe that for statements and claims to be taken is true, that there must be a logical (or rational) reason. In my opinion, empirical evidence cannnot meet this standard (except when used as a counterexample).

"Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational argument." [1]

Furthermore, Pro believes that all of Con's examples where empirical evidence is reasonable are in fact used as counterexamples.

"Bob's mistake was NOT using empirical methods - his mistake was not consulting ENOUGH empirical evidence." - Con

One problem here is we should not characterize Bob's hypothesis (that eating rotten bread is safe) as a "mistake". I actually argue that Bob is merely incorrect, not that his hypothesis is definitively false. To clarify, saying that it is wrong that eating rotten bread is safe, does not necessarily mean that eating rotten bread is unsafe. In fact Bob's own experiences seem to counter that argument. The truth is that sometimes Bob's hypothesis is true and sometimes it is false. The empirical studies that show that you sometimes get sick from eating rotten bread shows that Bob's hypothesis is incorrect, while the fact that Bob never got sick, shows that the negation is also not true: eating rotten bread is unsafe. Obviously, this is not exactly a formal example, as we would need to actually define what we mean by safe and unsafe.

"The reason physicists generally don't take epicycles to show that the earth is the centre of the universe despite them being compatible is because of a prior worldview in which it seems out of place for the earth to be so central to the universe." - Con

I do not really see how this line of argument pertains to whether or not empirical evidence is useful other than to present counterexamples. In fact, ultimately, this worldview was changed because empirical evidence presented counterexamples to the Earth-centric world view. Such counterexamples include the fact that planets orbit in elliipses not circles and the anamolous orbit of Mercury which empirically provided a counterexample to Newtonian gravity.

I think the problem with Con's line of arguments for the use of empirical evidence comes from the fact that it is true that you can always frame an argument from two different angles. You can either prove the claim or prove that the negation of the claim is false. This is assuming that the given claim is either universally true or universally false (which is actually generally not the case). Perfect example of this is Bob's hypothesis. Bob's hypothesis that eating rotten bread is safe can be shown to not be universally true with a counterexample provided by empirical evidence. However, that evidence does not show that eating rotten bread is safe is universally false! In fact we can use Bob's own empirical studies to show that it indeed it is not the case that eating rotten bread is safe is universally false.

Pro holds that none of Con's instances show that empirical evidence is used in any way other than to provide a counterexample to a claim.


The last point made by Con is conceded by Pro.


[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...;(see source on Wikipedia)
Kinesis

Con

Sure, I'll continue the debate. There are some interesting issues in here. :D

You only responded to my counter case, though. I made a positive case regarding empirical evidence having a bearing on how our brains function, and thus upon how we derive conclusions based on what you called 'philosophical', or logical or mental evidence. Consider your quote:"Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational argument.". How are we to know if rational argument is a reliable way of getting at the truth, or when rational argument is a reliable way of getting at the truth, without consulting evidence about how our brains work?

"n a science debate, such empirical evidence supporting one's claim is indeed valid (and probably necessary). However, when discussing philosophy, I believe there is a much higher standard. I believe that for statements and claims to be taken is true, that there must be a logical (or rational) reason."

But I don't accept your clean distinction between philosophy and science - all the sciences were once branches of philosophy. Are philosophers forbidden from using empirical evidence? Well if they are, they shouldn't be, because even if they aren't doing philosophy when they consult evidence (and that's just an arbitrary definitional matter - we determine definitions, not the world), evidence has an extremely important bearing on philosophical issues. Are 'rational' reasons superior to empirical reasons? Only if the human mind is not systematically flawed in ways which have a bearing on the philosophical subject matter. And to know if that is the case, you're going to have to read some psychology/neuroscience textbooks.

There's an emerging branch of philosophy called experimental philosophy: "Experimental philosophyis an emerging field of philosophical inquirythat makes use ofempiricaldata—often gathered through surveys which probe the intuitions of ordinary people—in order to inform research onphilosophical questions.This use of empirical data is widely seen as opposed to aphilosophical methodologythat relies mainly ona priorijustification, sometimes called "armchair" philosophy by experimental philosophers.Experimental philosophy initially began by focusing on philosophical questions related tointentional action, the putative conflict between free will and determinism, and causal vs. descriptive theories oflinguisticreference" http://en.wikipedia.org...

"I think the problem with Con's line of arguments for the use of empirical evidence comes from the fact that it is true that you can always frame an argument from two different angles. You can either prove the claim or prove that the negation of the claim is false."

I think I know what you're getting at. If the sun rises every day up until now, that doesn't prove definitively that the sun will rise tomorrow. However, if we observe the sun failing to rise tomorrow that DOES provide a conclusive counterexample to the claim that the sun will rise every day. So for you, who requires exacting standards for philosophical debates, only counterexamples which prove a general statement wrong should be allowed.

My question is, why do we not require this standard in other fields of inquiry, but all of a sudden we do when it comes to philosophy? I rely on empirical evidence when deciding whether or not all food is poison, whether jumping out the window of a ten story building will help or harm me, whether I will wake up tomorrow the same person I am today. And scientists obviously don't really follow this doctrine (no matter how much they might claim to be fans of Popper). So, why when it come to philosophical issues are we suddenly hamstrung by a requirement of absolute certainty?

Debate Round No. 2
KroneckerDelta

Pro

I'm going to try and make this short, as I don't see much reason to drag this out any longer.

Pro and Con clearly have a different view of what philosophy is/means. Absent of a definition provided by Pro in the opening round and the fact that Con's definition is probably closer to what most would assume the definition to be, Pro has to accept Con's definition and, as such, has to even concede that empirical evidence can play a role in philosophical debate.

Having said that, Pro believes there should be a separation between science and philosophy. While not unimportant, Pro believes philosophy is better geared to theoretical debate and development of new ideas and critical thinking skills. Pro has no doubt that philosophy has shaped the advancement of science. For one, early psychology (and even some areas of modern psychology), in Pro's opinion, was nothing more than philosophy. Even physics is influenced by philosophical ideas. For instance, the Greeks had a notion of how things ought to be and this helped frame how they approached science (i.e. epicycles were created because they assumed it was obvious the Earth was the center of the universe).

However, once you start using results driven analysis, Pro believes this is no longer appropriately called philosophy and now becomes science (obviously Con will disagree that there is such a distinction). I do not think philosophy can answer the question why does science do such a good job at predicting nature. I think philosophy can answer the question, why does science sometimes get things wrong (specifically philosophy can question the scientific method).

So Pro's position, is that empirical evidence cannot be used to prove something is correct (i.e. empirical evidence cannot be used to prove Newton's Theory of gravity is correct). The use of empirical evidence to prove a claim is more appropriate for a science debate.


Seeing as how Pro has already conceded a point completely unrelated to empirical evidence, and, absent a clear definition for philosophy, concedes Con's point about empirical evidence, Pro cannot, in clear conscience, ask for you vote, rather must recommend a vote for Con.
Kinesis

Con

Well I think some interesting topics were touched upon in this debate, at least. Pro has conceded. Vote Con. :)
Debate Round No. 3
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Kinesis 4 years ago
Kinesis
That would be a much more defensible position, and I'm not sure I would have contended that.
Posted by KroneckerDelta 4 years ago
KroneckerDelta
I just want to state that what I was actually attempting to debate was that sources should not be used purely as arguments. I.e. if I say empiricism is flawed and illogical, then merely stating another philosophers remarks to the contrary does not constitute a rebuttal. Specifically, one could not say: well Joe Blow says "empirical evidence is logical", therefore your statement is wrong. In philosophical debates, one should actually articulate arguments rather than merely presenting sources to the contrary...again, except for in the case of counterexamples. Such as if I were to say, having more guns leads people to commit less crime, then citing statistics contrary to that would effectively be a rebuttal.
Posted by KroneckerDelta 4 years ago
KroneckerDelta
Well this topic, I think proves why you shouldn't instigate debates at 3 in the morning when you're drunk, haha.
Posted by Kinesis 4 years ago
Kinesis
Meh. I think there's a pretty overwhelming Con case even were I to drop the point about plagiarism. Still, why not use a sledgehammer on a hamster? :D
Posted by KroneckerDelta 4 years ago
KroneckerDelta
I'm going to lose because of an ill-defined resolution, but oh well...
Posted by KroneckerDelta 4 years ago
KroneckerDelta
I agree BOP should be shared. If Pro fails to show why sources should not be used, Con should win the debate.
Posted by InVinoVeritas 4 years ago
InVinoVeritas
BoP should be shared in this.
Posted by Warabe 4 years ago
Warabe
I would agree with Bladerunner, although that seems likes a minor quibble at best. If this is still available upon my return from working I would be happy to accept this.
Posted by bladerunner060 4 years ago
bladerunner060
Your resolution is pretty strong for someone who wants Con to have BoP. You're the one saying sources "have no place" which is not the same as "are only at best mildly useful"; BoP should really be shared; if Con refutes all your arguments as to why sources have no place, then the statement would seem to be unsupported, no?
Posted by KroneckerDelta 4 years ago
KroneckerDelta
ehh, why the hell not. Pretty sure this is an easy win for somebody, but who knows.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by Daktoria 4 years ago
Daktoria
KroneckerDeltaKinesisTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro is very convoluted. Wtf?
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 4 years ago
RoyLatham
KroneckerDeltaKinesisTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro conceded, so arguments certainly go to Con. Beyond the example of attribution conceded, I think Con had the better of the other arguments. Part of philosophical debate is to distinguish what is a product of logic from what is empirically derived. If physics produces examples of uncaused causes, that's more than just providing a counterexample, it's establishing the point as being an argument fro incredulity, which has broader implications.
Vote Placed by Deadlykris 4 years ago
Deadlykris
KroneckerDeltaKinesisTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro conceded.
Vote Placed by phantom 4 years ago
phantom
KroneckerDeltaKinesisTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro conceded