The Instigator
jimtimmy
Con (against)
Winning
3 Points
The Contender
sammyc96
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points

Tabula Rasa (Blank Slate) a.k.a People are born with no bulit in Mental Content

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
jimtimmy
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/23/2011 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 13,463 times Debate No: 17619
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (0)
Votes (1)

 

jimtimmy

Con

I argue against the notion of Tabula Rasa. This is the idea that people are born without innate mental content and all personality traits, intellect, etc. are all from the environment they grow up in.

I argue that this is wrong and that genetics play a heavy role in personality traits, intelligence, etc.

Here is what the Pro must do in each round:



Round 1: I set terms for debate and Pro presents Case for Tabula Rasa (or Noble Savage)


Round 2: I will rebut and make opposite case in Round 2 and Pro will rebut and/or add new arguments for their case


Round 3: I will add more rebuttals and Pro can make final rebuttals in this round


Round 4: I will make last post. Pro cannot make any rebuttals or new arguments in this round, only RV4




The reason that Pro cannot make any further arguments in round 4 is that I am not making any arguments for my case in this round. This gives each debater 3 rounds to make their case.
sammyc96

Pro

Humans are not born with a preset personality, or intellect.

If one was born with a given intellect, one should be able to understand language, and reading, and writing skills better or worse than any other newborn. I believe that is false. Your knowledge, and emotions are based on our observations of our parents. When we are in our early stages of our life we are observing the world. We see our parents doing things and we want to be like them. Our parents teach us, and raise us with their values. Someone born to two parents who greedy and put money and success above everything, but are adopted by two other parents who care more about friendship, and caring for others is going to be more like the adopted parents because those values are what that child observed and was raised by.
Debate Round No. 1
jimtimmy

Con

I thank my opponent for accepting this debate. I will know respond to Pros assertions and make the case that the mind is not tabula rasa:

I base my argument on the logic of evolution theory. First, I will explain how tabula rasa can be disproven logically, given that my opponent accepts the Evolution Theory.

The logical case that disproves Tabula Rasa relies on one assumption. This is the assumption that the theory of Evolution is correct. You see, evolution predicts that species evolve according to natural selection. This would mean that there is a common ancestor that all living organisms descend from. This includes Humans, Reptiles, Plants, Bacterium, etc.

Therefore, the only difference between all living organisms (e.g. a Human and a Dog) is evolutionary descent. The differences between organisms is that they evolved in different environments. Therefore, the difference between a Human and Dog is the environments in which they evolved and their ancestors evolutionary preferences.

Based on the assumption that evolution theory is correct, I will use a reductio ad absurdum to disprove the tabula rasa view of the mind. You see, as mentioned earlier, evolution rests on the assumption that all organisms have a common ancestor.

Imagine two humans, James and Tim, and a dog. The difference between the difference between James and Tim and the difference between humans and dogs is that James and Tim have a more recent common ancestor than humans and dogs. In other words, every organism, including humans, has their own unique evolutionary history. Therefore, the difference between two different humans is the same as the difference between a human and a dog (or even a tree), the only difference is that two humans have a more recent common ancestor than the human and the dog.

This relates strongly to Tabula Rasa. Tabula Rasa is an absolute assumption, developed before evolution was even a theory. It, Tabula Rasa, claims that there is absolutely no mental content innate in humans, the mind is completely a property of environment. Genetics, or evolutionary history, play no role in the mind. Evolution, if you will, does not apply to the mind. Therefore, any two humans that grew up in the exact same environment would have the exact same mind.

Okay, so now we go back to the human and dog example. The differences between humans and dogs are evolutionary. Tabula Rasa predicts that evolution has no bearing in the mind. Therefore, if tabula rasa was true, a human and a dog would have the same genetic mental capacity (the same would be true of all living organisms, including trees and bacterium) as humans, and a dog that was raised in the exact same environment as a human would have the exact same personality as the human (again, this could even apply to trees).

This is clearly absurd. Therefore, assuming evolution theory is correct, tabula rasa is based on absurd assumptions. The argument could also be put this way:

1) Evolutionary Theory is Correct

2) Therefore, there are evolutionary differences between different humans, just as there are evolutionary differences between humans and dogs

3) In Order for it to be true alongside some sort of evolution, Tabula Rasa would have to predict that evolutionary theory does not apply to the mind

4) The only difference between the evolutionary differences between different humans and the evolutionary differences between humans and dogs is that different humans have a more recent common ancestor

5) Therefore, the only differences between humans and dogs are evolutionary

6) Tabula Rasa assumes that evolution does not apply to the mind (#3)

7) Therefore, Tabula Rasa would then predict that a dog (or even a tree) has the same innate mind as a human

8) This is absurd, therefore Tabula Rasa is impossible

Through a reductio ad absurdum argument, Tabula Rasa can be disproven based on the assumption that evolution theory is correct.
sammyc96

Pro

My opponent is basing his argument over a translation taken too literally. Yes Tabula Rosa does translate into blank slate, but that doesn't mean the theory believes that we have absolutely no mental capacity when we are born. Unlike what my opponent said Tabula rasacan coexist with the theory of evolution.Tabula rasa is mainly a theory explaining peoples varying intelligence levels, personality, and social/emotional behaviors. Based on this understanding of Tabula Rasa the Human and Dog argument is irrelevant. Evolution has made it possible for the human mind to comprehend spoken language, unlike a dog, but based on the newborn's experience it may take in a greater vocabulary, and learn more than another newborn.

By saying that Tabula rasa is false you are saying that every human offspring should have the mental capacity, and social behaviors of their parents. During the Civil Rights movement in the United States many whites, were racist toward other colored people. If Tabula rasa was false that would mean that if both parents were racist then their offspring should also be racist because the racist gene was passed down. The only problem with that statement is that many white children grew up and marched along sides Dr. King. The reason they marched was because the experiences in their life formed the notion in that racism is wrong. This also applies to sexism too.

"humans, and a dog that was raised in the exact same environment as a human would have the exact same personality as the human"
This quote is an extreme stretch. One's environment includes, the people, and weather, and interpretation of the actions around them. Therefore dogs and humans, and even humans and humans can't have the same environment. To our knowledge dogs don't understand human language which means that a dog can't interpret spoken actions the same way a human can. Let's go out on a limb and say dogs can understand facial expressions. If there was a kid being bullied. The bully would likely have a smile on his face as he insulted, emotionally tortured, and possibly physically harmed the victim. The dog would see a smile on the bullies face as he shoved him to the ground. Because he can't understand the language he might think it's all fun and games, but the human will understand the harm in this situation.

One's experiences are what decide a person's intelligence, social, emotional actions.
Debate Round No. 2
jimtimmy

Con

I thank my opponent for responding.


It seems that my opponent does not understand what Tabula Rasa means. According to Wikipedia, Tabula Rasa is defined as:


"Tabula Rasa is the epistemological theory that individuals are born without built-in mental content and that their knowledge comes from experience and perception. "


The key word here is without. Tabula Rasa claims that people are born without mental content. My opponent says:


"Yes Tabula Rosa does translate into blank slate, but that doesn't mean the theory believes that we have absolutely no mental capacity when we are born. "


Actually, that is exactly what the theory states. The definition of Tabula Rasa is the idea that humans have "absolutely no mental capacity when we are born.

This is a major problem in my opponent's argument, as he explicitly misrepresents the theory that he is defending, Tabula Rasa.

Therefore, the argument from my last post stands and still disproves Tabula Rasa from an evolutionary standpoint. My opponent then says:


"Based on this understanding of Tabula Rasa the Human and Dog argument is irrelevant. Evolution has made it possible for the human mind to comprehend spoken language, unlike a dog, but based on the newborn's experience it may take in a greater vocabulary, and learn more than another newborn."


This statement stems from the aforementioned misunderstanding of Tabula Rasa underlying my opponents argument. He says that evolution has made it possible for the human mind to comprehend spoken language, unlike a dog. In fact, if Tabula Rasa were correct, this would be impossible.

The very fact that humans can comprehend spoken language and dogs can't disproves Tabula Rasa. To a much smaller degree, this would also be true of newborns. As I established in my last argument, evolution is all that separates humans from dogs, and evolution is also what separates humans from other humans. Therefore, differences between humans are evolutionary.

Obviously, since dogs and trees cannot comprehend language, the ability to comprehend language is based on natural selection and evolution. Again, differences between humans are evolutionary. This would mean that humans should have different capacities to comprehend language. In other words, all functioning humans can comprehend language, but some have an easier time comprehending it than others.

My opponent then says this:


"By saying that Tabula Rasa is false you are saying that every human offspring should have the mental capacity, and social behaviors of their parents. During the Civil Rights movement in the United States many whites, were racist toward other colored people. If Tabula Rasa was false that would mean that if both parents were racist then their offspring should also be racist because the racist gene was passed down. The only problem with that statement is that many white children grew up and marched along sides Dr. King. The reason they marched was because the experiences in their life formed the notion in that racism is wrong. This also applies to sexism too."


This seems to stem from a misunderstanding from what Tabula Rasa means. My opponent seems to think that Tabula Rasa means that it is a mix of genes and environment that decide the human mind, while the opposition to Tabula Rasa believes that the human mind is genes alone. This is a grossly wrong contention. In fact, Tabula Rasa claims that the human mind is shaped by environment alone. The opposition to Tabula Rasa claims that environment and genes shape the human mind.

Therefore, to prove Tabula Rasa, one must prove that genes have no impact on the human mind. This is something my opponent has not even attempted to do.

My opponent's last argument is rendered largely useless by the fact that he misinterpreted Tabula Rasa. In fact, Tabula Rasa means that there is no built in mental content in the human mind. Unintentionally, my opponent conceded Tabula Rasa is false by admitting that genes have some bearing on the human mind. However, he simply tries to dodge this problem by changing the definition of Tabula Rasa.

For evidence my opponent completely relies on anecdotal evidence, without providing any logical or scientific support for Tabula Rasa. His one historical example was the fact that children of racist parents marched with Martin Luther King. Assuming this is true, this still does not do anything to prove Tabula Rasa.

The Human Mind is a series of complex interactions between genetic components of the mind and environment. The children that marched with Martin Luther King were obviously an example of this complex interaction. Furthermore, some traits, like intelligence, are more heritable than other traits, perhaps views on race could be included here. This would mean that a change in environment could do alot to make kids have less racist views, but do very little to raise intelligence.

I conclude by saying that my opponent has not yet put forth a single argument for Tabula Rasa, as he seems to misunderstand what Tabula Rasa means. The example he did put forth was pure anecdotal evidence and is easily rendered a useless argument as it does not take into account what Tabula Rasa actually means.


Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org...
sammyc96

Pro

I have read Locke's essay and come to the realization that I did in-fact misunderstand the theory. With that said I concede this round I no longer have any argument.
Debate Round No. 3
jimtimmy

Con

I thank my opponent for being honest about this btopic and wish him the best of luck
sammyc96

Pro

As per rules I will not argue here, also I would like to apologize to my opponent for not being able to go all three rounds. Vote con.
Debate Round No. 4
No comments have been posted on this debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by OMGJustinBieber 5 years ago
OMGJustinBieber
jimtimmysammyc96Tied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Obviously the win goes to Con, but it's a bit of an empty victory because a) Pro misunderstood and b) The notion of a truly "blank slate" is not a legitimate viewpoint in a modern discussion on neuroscience. A much more relevant discussion would be the degree to which the functions of the mind are innate or specialized. This seems to be the current debate, not whether the mind is a blank slate. Surprisingly few sources.