The Instigator
kasmic
Pro (for)
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The Contender
Beginner
Con (against)
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6 Points

Teleological Theory vs Deontological Theory

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Beginner
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/10/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 12,909 times Debate No: 64637
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (45)
Votes (2)

 

kasmic

Pro

Teleological Theory vs Deontological Theory

I will be arguing on the side of Teleological Theory, Con will be arguing for Deontological Theory.

Moral Objectivism: The view that what is right or wrong doesn’t depend on what anyone thinks is right or wrong. That is, the view that the 'moral facts' are like 'physical' facts in that what the facts are does not depend on what anyone thinks they are. Objectivist theories tend to come in two sorts:”

“(i) Duty Based Theories (or Deontological Theories): Theories that claim that what determines whether an act is morally right or wrong is the kind of act it is.”


“(ii) Consequentialist Theories (or Teleological Theories): Theories that claim that what determines whether an act is right or wrong are its consequences.”(1)

This debate should be impossible to accept. Please comment if interested.

Format: 4 round 10,000 characters

Round 1 for con is acceptance
Round 2-3 Arguments and rebuttals
Round 4 Final rebuttals and closing statements (no new arguments)

Burden of proof shared.

(1) http://www.ucs.mun.ca...
Beginner

Con

I accept this debate and will be arguing in favor of deontology. My goal will be to show that the deontology is superior to teleology. Note that this debate necessarily assumed that there exists an objective morality: that there exists objective good and objective evil.

I believe the definitions above are sufficient for this debate. Burden of proof is indeed shared.
Debate Round No. 1
kasmic

Pro

Thank you Beginner for accepting this debate and good luck. I have always found philosophy interesting, though pursued a degree in political science instead. As I did formally study political ideology formally, there is some overlap to philosophy. That stated I confess my-self relatively new to the study of ethics, and hope this debate with prove thought provoking and educational.

A: Introduction to Normative Ethics

In the comments it has become clear that many do not understand what is being debated here. As such I wanted to include a brief overview to help voters have a basic understanding of what is being debated, in hopes to further understanding.

As con stated “Note that this debate necessarily assumed that there exists an objective morality: that there exists objective good and objective evil.”

Contrasting between Duty based and Consequentialist theories…

1: Deontological or duty based theories:

In a general sense, Deontological theories determine morality of an action by asking about the action itself.

Kantianism: In my opinion Immanuel Kant is the quintessential deontological philosopher. Those following Kantianism ask two questions before acting.

The first question is, can I rationally will that everyone act as I propose to act? If the answer is no, then it is an immoral act.


The second question is, Does my action respect the goals of human beings rather than merely using them for my own purposes? As with the previous question if the answer is no, then it is an immoral act.

Let’s take lying as an example. (1) (example taken from link)

“We should do only those actions that conform to rules that we could/will be adopted universally.”

If we were to lie, we would be following the rule “It is permissible to lie.”

“This rule could not be adopted universally, because it would be self-defeating: people would stop believing one another, and then it would do no good to lie.”

“Therefore, we should not lie.”(1)

Simple enough I hope. Deontology is very black and white. The actions of killing, lying, stealing, etc are deemed immoral no matter the circumstances. Deontology has several different theories. Many other philosophers have postulated on this topic. At least one other worth noting is Rene Descartes.

2: Teleological or consequential based theories:

In a general sense, Teleological theories determine morality of an action by asking about the consequences of the action taken, as opposed to the action itself. The phrase “the ends justify the means” comes to mind.

Utilitarianism is archetype consequential theory. Also known as The Greatest happiness principle, Utilitarianism has been defined many different ways. A good general definition is “the belief that a morally good action is one that helps the greatest number of people” (2)

Again I will use the action of lying as an example.

While the consequences of lying is generally harmful, there are there circumstances that would make lying a moral option. For example, is it moral to lie if it will save your life? Another simple example is killing. It is not hard to see that the consequences of killing generally would be harmful, and thus immoral. However, what about killing in self-defense? Teleological theories, being more circumstantial then black and white, may morally justify actions due to the consequences.

Like Deontology, there do exists several different consequential theories.

3: Concluding overview

Hopefully this overview, while not entirely comprehensive, will be helpful .

B: Contrasting Deontology and Teleology

1: Paradox of deontological constraints

As I mentioned earlier, Deontological theories are very black and white. There is not room for exception. This can create a paradox.

“The most glaring one (weakness of deontology) is the seeming irrationality of our having duties or permissions to make the world morally worse. Deontologists need their own, non-consequentialist model of rationality, one that is a viable alternative to the intuitively plausible, “act-to-produce-the-best-consequences” model of rationality that motivates consequentialist theories. Until this is done, deontology will always be paradoxical.” (3)

If a deontologists deems killing an immoral action, therefore, creating the duty to not kill, this “duty may actually lead to disastrous consequences. A good example was presented in class by Professor Turner, where a deontologist would not kill Hitler knowing the man would be responsible for killing millions of other people.” (4)

These ethical dilemmas are much easier to approach via teleology.

2: Deontology is to objective

Humans are subjective by nature. Thus employing deontology in society poses a problem. Social and cultural norms impact our behaviors and thoughts, making objectivity practically impossible.

This shows teleology as a more realistic approach to ethics as the world is not so black and white, and leaves room for social or cultural norms.

3: Example of issues with deontology

Scott Davis wrote an introduction to the Barnes and Noble classic by John Stuart Mills “Utilitarianism.” He uses the sex as an example of the issue of deontology. Again Deontology suggests that “We should do only those actions that conform to rules that we could/will be adopted universally.” “It is logically possible to will that all human beings must act at all times to maximize their own sexual gratification. This would make our social interactions awkward, to say the least, but would not violate logic. To rule out wicked or impractical rules, the Kantian must fall back on consequences.”

So if sexual gratification is deemed as moral, then deontology would suggest it must be moral in all circumstances. Or in converse, if it is deemed immoral, deontology would deem it immoral in every circumstance. I think this example clearly shows the impracticality of deontology.

C: Conclusion

Due to the realistic and practical approach of teleology, in contrast with the ethical paradox created by Deontological approaches, Teleology is preferred to deontology in approaching ethics.

(1) http://www.csus.edu...
(2) ) http://www.merriam-webster.com...
(3) http://plato.stanford.edu...
(4)http://true-reality.net...


Beginner

Con

Clarifications
To better clarify the items under discussion, I will further explain both the deontological and the teleological ethics’ rationales.
Deontology, or duty-based morality, is hinged on the idea that certain actions are objectively immoral regardless of consequence. Let us, for example, take a set of means towards an end. The deontological extremist would say that if any single element within this set of means is, by itself, an objectively immoral act, then the end does not justify the means no matter what the end result of not following the path outlined by the set of means may be
Conversely, a teleological extremist argues that, given numerous sets of means toward a set of ends with each set of means leading to its respective set of ends, it is ethically obligatory to follow the path outlined by the set of means which leads to the most preferable end even if it means committing objectively immoral acts.
Now I am not going to argue that deontology is the best code of ethics to follow. That is not my obligation. This debate only requires for me to show that deontology is better than teleology.

My Arguments:
Deontology is preferable to teleology for several reasons. Deontology is societally necessary. It accounts for individual human subjectivity, and is, in practice, much more efficient than the teleological line of ethics.

1) Deontology is more efficient and practical than Teleology.
The process of determining the morality of an action in deontological ethics is simply whether or not the action in itself is moral. Teleological ethics, however, are complex due to the fact that it requires its practitioners to consider the consequences of an action in order to determine the morally correct action. Let us take, for example, the popular strain of teleological ethics known as utilitarianism. Utilitarianism relies on complex calculi (i.e. Bentham’s calculus[1]) in order to determine the quantitative results and thus morality of an action. Herein lies several of te
leological ethics’ problems.
While deontological ethical codes are very straightforward, teleological ethics are not. Every action has an infinite number of consequences and many have vast numbers of likely consequences. In order for a teleological ethics to function in full, it necessarily needs to account for every single consequence of every possible action. To put it in another way: teleological ethics in general, by definition, requires the conscious practitioner to consider an infinite set of infinite means toward a similarly infinite set of ends. Teleology, in its purest form is impossible.
Another problem with teleological ethics is that it is necessarily built on hypotheticals. It is impossible to know for certain that an action performed will result in an intended consequence. The action of killing Hitler is a great counterexample. It is impossible to know, for certain, that the Nazi system will not arise or be sustained in some way or form without Hitler. What if someone worse than Hitler rose in pace of Hitler? We only know what Hitler was capable of committing because we live in a post-Hitler society. To teleologically decide whether or not an action in the past would have been moral (i.e. killing baby Adolf Hitler) is absurd. To help define the code of ethics to be followed for contemporary and future populace, ethical arbitration is necessarily constrained to determining the application of ethics prior to events whose results are yet to be ascertained.
In a similar strain, my opponent’s arguments, which assumes the practitioner of ethics necessarily knows the end result(s) of some set of means, is not feasible in practice. A tree’s inflammation causes the surrounding woods to catch fire. You cannot know that cutting down the first tree to catch fire in a forest will prevent a forest fire. What if cutting down that tree will, by itself, cause a forest fire? What if that forest fire will happen regardless of whether or not that tree existed? What if cutting down that tree had other unintended consequences (i.e. crashes into baby Mahatma Gandhi)? You cannot know.
In theory, a proponent of teleological ethics can present scenarios which would make it sound nice, but in practice, teleological ethics is simply unfeasible.

2) Deontology accounts for individual subjectivity
The converse of this statement is that teleological ethics, contrary to a similar contention given by my opponent above, is much too objective. Teleological ethics seek to produce results which are numerically superior to that of other results. This means that, given a limited set of choices, the morally correct choice would be the one which would produce the objectively greater end result. Let us take, for example, someone who is given the option to save two children at the cost of the life of one child and vice versa. Under teleological ethics, the moral decision would be to sacrifice the life of one child to save the other two because the teleologically superior consequence would be the one in which only one child dies. Even if the child is the subject’s own child, the subject is morally obligated to abandon his subjective desires to achieve the objectively greater result under teleological ethics. Teleology is a cold-hearted system.
Deontological ethics, which allows for individual, subjective desires, does not place such consequential restrictions. If given a choice between two groups of children, even if one group has more than the other, deontological ethics does not decree that it is morally wrong to save the less populated group, thus allowing for a much greater degree of subjective moral freedom.
Again, contrary to my opponent’s claim, it is the teleological ethical systems, rather than the deontological ones, which are much too objective and restrictive.

3) Deontology is enjoys much greater success and implementation than teleoogy does.
Our societies recognize the necessity of deontology. The best example of its practical, societal application is the existence of societies’ laws. Laws are by nature deontological, and, in order to function smoothly, society’s necessarily implement laws. If my opponent would like to dispute either the attribution of laws to deontology or the practicality and effects of laws within society, I’d be glad to respond in kind. Otherwise, I will hold that deontology is much more societally practical and, in some cases, even necessary.
Thus, deontology enjoys much greater application and success than does teleology.

Closing statement:
I am not arguing that deontological ethics is the best system of ethics. Deontology and teleology, in terms of ethics, are two moral extremes. My only goal was to show that the extreme of deontology is superior to that of teleology. While both ethical systems contain severe faults (which both my opponent and I have outlined in anecdotal examples), I believe the faults of teleological ethics far exceed those of deontological ethics. The merits of the latter also far exceed those of the former. Thus, deontological ethics is superior to that of teleological ethics as was required of the CON side.

[1]http://en.wikipedia.org...


Debate Round No. 2
kasmic

Pro

Rebuttals:

1) Deontology is more efficient and practical than Teleology.

Con says “While deontological ethical codes are very straightforward, teleological ethics are not.”

I agree, and as society is not straightforward or simplistic an ethical system that can adapt to circumstances is preferred.

Con says “Another problem with teleological ethics is that it is necessarily built on hypotheticals. It is impossible to know for certain that an action performed will result in an intended consequence.”

Granted you cannot know the future, there are clearly cases where deontology would fail.

For example: If abortion is deemed inherently immoral, deontology deems that it is immoral regardless of the circumstance. Even in the case of an 11 year old victim of rape who will die otherwise. This rigidness created by deontology could be regarded as simply or easy to apply, yet clearly creates a paradox of morality. This problem is easily overcome with teleology.

Con says “The action of killing Hitler is a great counterexample. It is impossible to know, for certain, that the Nazi system will not arise or be sustained in some way or form without Hitler.”

The example of killing Hitler serves as an example that if you could know the outcome then morally you would not question it. The example is not intended as an example of how to apply teleology so much as show that there clearly exists circumstances where an action, like killing a young Hitler, could be morally justified if we knew the outcome. It is not an example suggesting that one can know or will know the consequences in such a circumstance.

Con says “but in practice, teleological ethics is simply unfeasible.”

Far from unfeasible, teleological ethics is much more plausible and practical then deontological ethics.

2) Deontology accounts for individual subjectivity.

Con says “for example, someone who is given the option to save two children at the cost of the life of one child and vice versa. Under teleological ethics, the moral decision would be to sacrifice the life of one child to save the other two because the teleologically superior consequence would be the one in which only one child dies.”

Contrary to what con has stated thus far, teleologically the moral decision could be to sacrifice the life of one child to save the other two. It does not dictate that it is, rather that it could be the moral action. Deontology deals in much more definite terms. In fact, in this example deontology might deem it immoral to sacrifice either group. However, given the circumstances such an action of saving both is impossible, thus Deontology would deem any action taken immoral including inaction. Thus we see how impractical deontology is. While Teleology offers potential moral options, deontology does not.

Con continues “Even if the child is the subject’s own child, the subject is morally obligated to abandon his subjective desires to achieve the objectively greater result under teleological ethics. Teleology is a cold-hearted system.”

This “morally obligation” is not teleological but rather deontological in nature. This is because it is duty based. Again this circumstance from a deontological perspective it becomes the duty to save both, though impossible, any other action is immoral and thus Deontology is unfeasible.

Con says “Deontological ethics, which allows for individual, subjective desires, does not place such consequential restrictions.”

There is no individual, subjective desires to a duty based ethics.

Con says “Again, contrary to my opponent’s claim, it is the teleological ethical systems, rather than the deontological ones, which are much too objective and restrictive.”

We clearly disagree. Teleology gives options of what could be moral. Deontological renders actions as duties and left unfulfilled deems the omission immoral.

3) Deontology is enjoys much greater success and implementation than teleoogy does.

Con says “Our societies recognize the necessity of deontology. The best example of its practical, societal application is the existence of societies’ laws. Laws are by nature deontological, and, in order to function smoothly, society’s necessarily implement laws.”

Laws in the most basic sense are deontological. However, they are enforced in modern society in a teleological way. That is why when one is accused of acting immorally, breaking the law, our society looks at the circumstances and the motives and then determines the morality of the action taken. Teleology does require a system of law, it just leaves room for circumstances to affect how moral an action is or is not.

Extended arguments:

My opponent has not addressed my argument “Paradox of deontological constraints.”

Conclusion:

Deontology, while simple and easy to apply to society is rigid and unreasonable. Teleology is much more plausible and practical. Society is too complex for the restraint of deontology. Deontological ethics can produce circumstances where no moral action is possible. Our society implements laws in a teleological way.

Due to the realistic and practical approach of teleology, in contrast with the ethical paradox created by Deontological approaches, Teleology is preferred to deontology in approaching ethics.

Beginner

Con

I'd like to thank my opponent for his quick response. I will rehash the past rounds' arguments and their various responses, and address them either separately or collectively

Both my opponent and I have that the deontological system is straightforward. My conclusion that it is much more efficient in application thus stands. If nothing else, my opponent has conceded deontological ethics' efficiency.
My opponent then objects by saying that society is complex and that therefore deontological ethics, being simplistic, is less applicable societally. This claim fails under several points.
First, as I've contended and as my opponent has conceded, laws exist deontologically. Their wide societal implementation thus stands as a testament to its greater functional applicability relative to teleology. This directly negates my opponent's claim of deontology's inapplicability
Second, how is teleological ethics having complexity alone make it more applicable to society than deontological ethics? I argue that society's containing the element of complexity that deontology lacks holds no objective relevance or objection. Complex systems are products of simplistic elements. Even a complex computer program is only a collection of boolean bits. A complex society is made simply of individual people who make series of simple, everyday decisions from the moment they live unto the moment they die (unless they're vegetative or something). In any case, my opponent necessarily needs to further prove that the idea deontology's lacking complexity makes it less applicable than teleology; that teleology containing the element of complexity, regardless of all its other aspects, makes it objectively superior to deontology in terms of societal applicability. As I've already shown, deontology enjoys great societal applicable as evidenced by the existence of laws in our societies' structures.

Earlier I stated that teleological ethics is, in practice, simply unfeasible. My opponent responds by saying, "Far from unfeasible, teleological ethics is much more plausible and practical then deontological ethics."
However, my opponent neither addresses the arguments which lead to that statement to which he nor presents any contention in favor of this assertion.
The teleological extreme for which my opponent argues is, as I've put forth in my previous round, literally impossible to apply in practical scenarios. Let me reorganize my argument:
1) There are an infinite number of potential actions in a given scenario or set of scenarios.
2) Every action has an infinite number of potential consequences
3) There are an infinite set of combinations of actions since the set of possible actions is, by itself, infinite.
4) Teleology necessitates the evaluation of every set of actions and consequences in order to determine the single consequence which holds the greatest value under teleological calculi. This is impossible.
My opponent presents a potential to this argument later in his rebuttal to my subjectivity argument in which he states that teleological systems do not dictate that a decision, based on consequential evaluations, is moral, rather that it can be moral: that it is suggested. This is not teleology. If, as according the the child-saving example, saving the 2 children and allowing the other to die is only a moral suggestion, then saving the 1 child and letting the other 2 die is only suggestively immoral. It means that, given one knows the results of some actions, whether or not these actions are moral is uncertain. If this is so, then the man who allowsthe 2 children to die in order to save 1 child can say that, under this additive definition my opponent as pinned on teleology, that no teleologst can declare him having done something immoral because no teleologist knows whether or not what he did was objectively moral or immoral. Again, this is not teleology. A real teleologist can say assertively that saving that 1 child and sacrificing the other 2 instead of vice versa is objectively immoral and that the objectively moral action is to save the 2 and let the 1 die.
“(ii) Consequentialist Theories (or Teleological Theories): Theories that claim that what determines whether an act is right or wrong are its consequences.”
Teleology does not determine what may or may not be right via consequences, it determines what is or is not right. This is the established and correct definition as given in round 1. Thus my opponent's objections to my argument which says teleological ethics is much too objective stands.
Taking the same example in deontological ethics, as long as the man who saves the 1 child did not commit any explicit immoral actions, he is allowed to save the child while remaining within moral bounds: his subjectivity is accounted for.

New argument: Teleology is also much too subjective
Teleological ethics, in practice, necessarily requires its practitioner to imagine the consequences of the actions he should perform. Here is where teleology becomes too subjective. Since the consequences being considered are arbitrarily contrived within the head of the practitioner of teleological ethics, resulting 'moral' decisions may ultimately be simply objectively immoral.
Example 1: a group of friends is taken captive. The captors tell one man within the group that if he doesn't kill another member of the group, the entire group will be gassed and killed immediately. The man commits the objectively immoral action of killing another in his group since consequential ethics dictates it. The entire group is then beheaded. The man is then sent to hell for killing another for no reason. He burns for an eternity and, to this day, curses the person who told him that teleology is more correct than deontology. See what you guys have done?
Example 2: A man, let us name him Obito, believes that the periodic mass extermination of humans will produce peace. He considers the consequence, the elimination of war and suffering, an end which justifies the means: killing massive numbers of people. Does Obito know for a fact that what he proposes will work as he proposes? No he does not. He does not know the future. Does the end justify the means (mass killing)? Obito thinks so. Will the end come about via those means? Obito thinks so. Is what Obito doing morally justified? Teleologically speaking, Obito believes that killing a lot of people will result in a greater peace which is ultimately, according to his own teleological calculus (however he determined it), more beneficial than not killing a lot of people. What's wrong with this picture? First, the teleological calculus used by Obito is arbitrarily contrived: it is Obito's own calculus; what Obito himself believes to be right; it is purely subjective. The consequential value of Obito's proposed result is subjectively determined by Obito alone. Second, the teleological consequences of his proposed action, mass human extermination, is also arbitrarily contrived by Obito.

Thus, under teleological ethics, it is morally correct to do anything to anyone as long as the practitioner believes that his teleological system and calculations are correct. Far worse than deontological ethics, teleological ethics allows for a user to do anything at all (murder, rape, etc.) and still consider it moral. Teleological ethics can be used to justify anything and everything as long as the user believes that it does.

Closing statement

I have shown that teleology is full of problems. It is impossible outside of hypothetical scenarios, especially when applied to complex situations, it is completely subjective and allows for massive loopholes, it is too objective in that it dictates moral decisions which ignores individual subjective desires (quite contrary to my opponent's argument), and that it is inefficient at best.
Deontology, on the other hand, enjoys wide societal success via its placement in societal laws. It is much more efficient due to its simple, straightforward nature, and, unlike teleological ethics, accounts for individual subjectivity more so than teleology does.

I do not claim that deontological ethics is perfect nor do I support extremist adherence to the deontological model. I agree that there are case examples that would indeed render deontological systems silly at times. My concluding statement from my previous round implied as much. My statement, however, also argued that the deontological system's faults (i.e. potential moral paradoxy) are far exceeded by those of the teleological system.
Moreover, the benefits of deontology in general far exceed those of teleology.

I apologize if my not explicitly naming specific arguments titularly was confusing, but I believe I've rebutted every rebuttable argument either with direct rebuttal or indirectly via my own arguments.

///.
Debate Round No. 3
kasmic

Pro

Rebuttals:

Con says “ my opponent has conceded deontological ethics' efficiency.”

What I said… Deontology, while simple and easy to apply to society is rigid and unreasonable. This rigidness created by deontology could be regarded as simply or easy to apply, yet clearly creates a paradox of morality. (which has still not been addressed.)

Con says “I've contended and as my opponent has conceded, laws exist deontologically. Their wide societal implementation thus stands as a testament to its greater functional applicability relative to teleology. This directly negates my opponent's claim of deontology's inapplicability.”

What I said… Laws in the most basic sense are deontological. However, they are enforced in modern society in a teleological way. That is why when one is accused of acting immorally, breaking the law, our society looks at the circumstances and the motives and then determines the morality of the action taken. Teleology does require a system of law, it just leaves room for circumstances to affect how moral an action is or is not.

Con asks “how is teleological ethics having complexity alone make it more applicable to society than deontological ethics?”

It is not the complexity so much as flexibility of teleological ethics that make it more applicable. That flexibility could be regarded as complex when compared to rigid deontological approaches.

Con says “In any case, my opponent necessarily needs to further prove that the idea deontology's lacking complexity makes it less applicable than teleology.”

The rigidness of Deontology is evident. The actions of killing, lying, stealing, etc are deemed immoral no matter the circumstances. Teleology has flexibility (complexity) A simple example is killing. It is not hard to see that the consequences of killing generally would be harmful, and thus immoral. However, what about killing in self-defense? Teleological theories, being more circumstantial/flexible then black and white deontology, may morally justify actions due to the consequences.

Con says “Earlier I stated that teleological ethics is, in practice, simply unfeasible.” “However, my opponent neither addresses the arguments which lead to that statement to which he nor presents any contention in favor of this assertion.”

I sure did. I will address it again.

Con says “1) There are an infinite number of potential actions in a given scenario or set of scenarios.”
“2) Every action has an infinite number of potential consequences”
“3) There are an infinite set of combinations of actions since the set of possible actions is, by itself, infinite.”

I agree with the first three points.

Con says “4) Teleology necessitates the evaluation of every set of actions and consequences in order to determine the single consequence which holds the greatest value under teleological calculi. This is impossible.”

Teleology does not require such an extensive burden to act morally. Rather, it simply acknowledges that because there are an infinite number of potential actions, and every action has a consequence, that it is unrealistic to assume that these infinite possibilities could not impact the morality of an action. Deontology ignores this obvious fact. Thus Deontology is rigid and unreasonable.

Con says “A real teleologist can say assertively that saving that 1 child and sacrificing the other 2 instead of vice versa is objectively immoral and that the objectively moral action is to save the 2 and let the 1 die.”

This is not so.

“Teleology does not determine what may or may not be right via consequences, it determines what is or is not right.”

My opponent is assuming that all teleologist would agree that saving 2 children is the better consequence to saying 1 child. However, we have not debated a specific type of consequentialism… or a specific value based ethics. meaning that the one child may be of some importance that would increase the benefit of saving the one over the other two. Again this is the flexibility of teleology. You are able to look at as many factors as possible. Deontology is duty based. The example that my opponent presented included the idea of “sacrificing” one group in favor of the other. No real Deontologist would be able to morally “sacrifice” either group. Duty would demand that no such sacrifice under any circumstance would be moral. Thus the example given there is no moral action a deontologist could make. Ergo Deontology = Rigid. Teleology= flexible.

Con next argues that “Teleology is also much too subjective.”

This is a foolish argument as con stated in round two that “Again, contrary to my opponent’s claim, it is the teleological ethical systems, rather than the deontological ones, which are much too objective and restrictive.”


My opponent cannot claim that teleological ethical systems are “much too objective” and then also argue that “Teleology is much too subjective.”

Regardless I will respond to con’s examples

Example 1: This example is full of holes. Say the man does kill with the idea that it will save the group. Are you saying that is no less immoral then killing in cold blood? That is foolishness. As for the statement that “he burns for an eternity….” This debate has nothing to do with religion or God. We are talking about societies morals, not whatever your God may deem moral or not.

Example 2: As far as I understood we were talking about societies approach as a whole. This example is ridiculous as you can do the same with Deontological thinking. What if Obito accepts that all people are evil. His duty is to destroy all evil. Deontology would suggest his duty is to kill the entire human race.

Needless to say both examples were ridiculous.

Con says “Thus, under teleological ethics, it is morally correct to do anything to anyone as long as the practitioner believes that his teleological system and calculations are correct…. Teleological ethics can be used to justify anything and everything as long as the user believes that it does.”

As we accepted at the beginning of the debate… both approaches to ethics, Deontological and Teleological accept Objective morality. What you are suggesting is that an approach to objective ethics is morally relative. Rather Teleology and Deontology are opposed to moral relativism. As such your statement is nonsense.

Again you can do the same with deontology. If some random person accepts murder as a personal/moral duty, is not that singular person acting Deontologically.

Closing statement

First I would like to thank Beginner for accepting and participating in this debate. This in depth look into Objective morality has been fascinating and educational.

Both Teleology and Deontology accept objective morality.

1: Concluding thoughts on Deontology

A: Deontology creates a moral paradox.
B: Deontology is rigid and unreasonable.
C: Deontology is unrealistic to assume that infinite possibilities could not impact the morality of an action.


2: Concluding thoughts on Teleology

A: Teleology is flexible
B: Teleology Acknowledges Circumstances have impact.
C: Teleology is realistic and practice

Due to what we have shown between Teleology and Deontology, it is clear that if one is to be chosen or preferred over the other, that choice would be Teleology.

Thanks for reading!

Vote Pro!

Beginner

Con

Rebuttals and concluding statement:

Pro: "Deontology, while simple and easy to apply to society is rigid and unreasonable."

The first part of the statement is nothing less than a concession to my contention.
The latter part, that deontology, being rigid and unreasonable, creates a paradoxy of morality, is supported by anecdotal case examples such as that of a man not killing baby Hitler given the hypothetically asserted result of it preventing the Holocaust or that of an 11 yr old rape victim not being given an abortion if abortion is deemed against deontological duty. I first addressed deontology's moral paradoxy by disseminating the use of the Hitler example as an unobjective, hypothetical foray. My argument was that the such examples are inappropriate in establishing teleological superiority. I agreed that given an already consequentially quantified, limited set of hypothetical results, deontology can, at times, be shown to be faulty. However, I also argued that teleology, when practically applied, is not only no better than deontology: it is worse. Again, the Hitler example (and other such examples), necessarily assume a limited set of actions and a predefined set of results. While this may all sound very nice, my opponent misses my clear address to the fact that an actual ethics practitioner can never know the results of an action. People can't see the future. The example would much more applicable if we were to take a man from the 1890's and put him in front of baby Hitler with a loaded gun. The man cannot possibly know what baby Hitler will do when it grows older. Is it reasonable for the man not to kill baby Hitler? Most definitely. Even if we give the extremely unreasonable assumption that the man does know what baby Hitler will be capable of, the man still cannot know that killing baby Hitler will change the future for the better. The only way for the Hitler example to work in favor of my opponent's argument is if we were to apply both ridiculous assumptions: that the man knows exactly what baby Hitler will do and what the consequential future of murdering baby Hitler will be.
Thus I've accepted that deontological ethics can be shown to result in seemingly unreasonable results. I said as much numerous times in previou rounds. My argument is that, while deontological ethics can be shown to be paradoxical, I've shown that teleological ethics are no better since the core of my opponent's argument relies on examples which are based on ridiculous assertions (such as being able to tell the future).

If my memory and reading comprehension serves correctly, the totality of my opponent arguments are:
[1] deontological ethics, being rigid and unreasonable, creates a paradox of morality. My opponent then supports this singular case via numerous case examples.
[2] deontological ethics is too objective
Everything else he's said can be attributed to [1].
My basic response to [1] can be divided into two parts: part one is my concession that deontological ethics can create silly situations when hypothetically observed. Part two consists of a variety of arguments. The first of these arguments is that the examples used to show that deontological ethics to be potentially unreasonable do not make a case for teleological ethics' being superior in practical applications of ethics. Thus my opponent's argument, while compelling, does not really augment his side of the resolution.
My response to [2] stands for itself both as a rebuttal and as an argument of its own. Teleology requires the ethics practitioner only consider objective quantities and ignore his own personal desires (such as saving his own child over that of a greater number of others). My example of the children's lives is a hypothetical example which assumes a known set of results and that the results' consequences are quantitavely known. Even within the hypothetical arena, teleology contains known problems. My opponent's only objection warps the definition of teleology, especially of that established in round 1. Again, teleology determines what is or is not moral via a teleological calculus. It does not make moral suggestions. That would be more Moral Pragmatism, and teleology is not Moral Pragmatism. My opponent's response to my argument of teleological ethics' impossible consideration of infinite possibilities thus remains unharmed.
A real teleologist can say assertively that saving that 1 child and sacrificing the other 2 instead of vice versa is objectively immoral and that the objectively moral action is to save the 2 and let the 1 die given that the teleologically calculated quantity of the latter is superior to that of the former.
I assumed my opponent understood the appended, underlined portion of this copy of my previous round's statement, but apparently not. I've added it to better clarify the example.
Deontology = rigid. Teleology = impossible. Ergo while both teleological and deontological ethics, when applied to the literal extreme, are terrible, teleological ethics is worse.

I believe my strongest argument, that teleological ethics is much too subjective, is one of my more powerful ones. My opponent says I cannot argue that teleological ethics are both much too subjective and much too objective. I can and I have. Neither argument contradicts the other since they apply to different areas of teleology. One applies anecdotally (just as all of my opponent's objections to deontological ethics do; I want to save my own child, screw all the others, they're not my obligation or problem, rawr!!), and the other applies systemically (the processes which constitute teleological decisions are inherently faulty). Example 1 in favor of this argument of subjectivity, given in my previous round, receives the singular objection: "Are you saying that [killing with the assumption that the teleologically greater outcome would result] is no less immoral than killing in cold blood?"
This objection does not negate my point. The point is that the man committed an act widely considered to be objectively immoral, but did not obtain the results he desired. This leads back to my earlier argument which points out one of teleology's biggest problems: you cannot possibly know for certain that an action will lead to precisely the consequences you desire until both action(s) and consequence(s) are forgone. What if, taking this same example 1, that the man is not captured? Let us say that this man now decides to kill one of his friends for a different but also teleological reason? Say he believes his friends will be such horrendous people when they grow older that he decides killing them is the best, most moral option (teleologically speaking). How does he know this? He assumed it. He guessed it. He doesn't know. He thinks he knows. He then kills his friends to prevent them from doing horrible things in the future. Are the things that he believes his friends will do quantitatively worse, in aggregate, than their murder? The man thinks so. How does he determine so? Obviously arbitrarily. Will his friends really do what he thinks is friend will do? The man thinks so. I can keep coming up with similar examples, but the point is, as I've iterated earlier, that teleological ethics allows practitioners to do anything as long as they believe it is right.
The God thing was my attempt at humor. Even if it was not, my point still stands despite it being appended by a less-relevant God-rant.
My opponent brings up a point against Eample 2: "What if Obito accepts that all people are evil. His duty is to destroy all evil. Deontology would suggest his duty is to kill the entire human race [...][Y]ou can do the same with deontology. If some random person accepts murder as a personal/moral duty, is not that singular person acting Deontologically.
This debate assumes objective morality, meaning actions which are considered objectively immoral (actions which all of us must agree are immoral), are illegal in deontological ethics. Deontological duty cannot suggest killing if killing is an act of objective immorality. Assuming objective morality, as we've accepted at the beginning of this debate, deontological ethical duties are necessarily objectively moral
My opponent then says: "As we accepted at the beginning of the debate… both approaches to ethics, Deontological and Teleological accept Objective morality. What you are suggesting is that an approach to objective ethics is morally relative. Rather Teleology and Deontology are opposed to moral relativism."

We accepted that this debate assumes the existence of objective morality. Teleological ethics agree that even if an action is objectively immoral (this is deontologically determined), it is perfectly alright to do it if the results, which are subjectively determined, are objectively better. Yes we did agree that objective morality exists. It however does not hold any relevance to whether or not teleological ethics contains a massively gapping hole of arbitrary subjectivity. Teleological ethics are necessarily subjective. My statement, which is the summation of the arguments and examples I've provided, stands.

Closing statements
Whew, this has been one hectically long debate. I thank my opponent for accompanying me 'til the end. This has indeed been fascinating and educational.
I don't have space to rephrase my previous concluding statement and post it here, so I will urge the reader to go back to round 3's concluding statement. Sorry for the inconvenience.

And thus I have shown that the extreme of deontology is superior to the extreme of teleology as was required of the CON side of this debate.

Thanks for sticking with us through all of this very dense debate. You should be proud. :)

Vote Con!
Debate Round No. 4
45 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by bladerunner060 2 years ago
bladerunner060
So I saw this today and thought it was fitting for this debate:

http://www.smbc-comics.com...
Posted by kasmic 2 years ago
kasmic
@Bladerunner, Wow! I'm under the impression that you spent more time on this rfd than I did on the debate. Thank you for taking the time.
Posted by bladerunner060 2 years ago
bladerunner060
RFD 1/9:

Ahh, an ethics debate. Always fun times.

Full disclosure. First, I was asked to vote on this debate by Pro. As always, him asking me didn't influence my vote. Second, and more substantive: I often describe myself, when asked, as a deontologist. That said, this debate was about *extremes*--I don't think extreme deontology is "right". And of course, I wouldn't want that to affect my vote even if I did. But I was very interested to see what would happen when these two extremes clashed.

I will say this: Strictly speaking, Con could have argued to fold Teleology INTO Deontology--since deontology is about "rules", Teleological system slike Utilitarianism could be argued to be about one rule. That said, it would have been at least somewhat outside the spirit of the debate.

I'll preface this RFD, too, by saying that both sides did wonderfully. I loved reading this debate, and though (spoiler alert) I wound up voting Con, so I have more criticism to levy at Pro, Pro did great.

R1 outlined the basic framework for the debate, and that the BoP was shared.

Con accepted, and then R2 started the debate proper.

Pro started with a quick overview of the respective theories.

"B" starts his actual argument. He argues that there is a "paradox" in Deontological moral theories, that there's "the seeming irrationality of our having duties or permissions to make the world morally worse"". I question this--" how is the world "morally worse"? Pro tries to explain:
Posted by bladerunner060 2 years ago
bladerunner060
RFD 2/9:

"If a deontologists deems killing an immoral action, therefore, creating the duty to not kill, this "duty may actually lead to disastrous consequences. A good example was presented in class by Professor Turner, where a deontologist would not kill Hitler knowing the man would be responsible for killing millions of other people.""

Is a world where you DIDN'T kill hitler morally worse? How is the world morally worse? It appears that Pro is arguing against a duty-based system by arguing that it would be worse when viewed by its CONSEQUENCES. I don't see that as a coherent objection, given that that's the point of the contrast. He's begging the question a bit. Deontology, by Pro's description, isn't caring about the consequences. So that there are negative consequences is not "paradoxical".

He claims these moral dilmmas are easier in teleology, but doesn't really support it.

Moving on, he argues deontology is too objective. Given that an assumption of this debate is that morality is objective, it's a weird complaint. He argues that humans are subjective, therefore objectivity is impossible, and that teleology leaves room for "social or cultural norms".

Neither of these arguments is very strong. Which is not to say they couldn't be, maybe. But these first two aren't really supported. They're statements of supposed flaws, with the conclusion "teleology's better". How does it address the problems that Pro notes? He doesn't really say.

His third argument is examples of issues with deontology. He argues that deontology requires than action be universally moral or immoral without any reference to circumstance. I'm not sure this is really a fair statement, but it's up to Con to respond to it.

Pro concludes that "Due to the realistic and practical approach of teleology, in contrast with the ethical paradox created by Deontological approaches, Teleology is preferred to deontology in approaching ethics."
Posted by bladerunner060 2 years ago
bladerunner060
RFD 3/9:

To be frank, I don't really think this round's case is strong from Pro. He has found some faults with deontology, but he has to expect that they'll be responded to. He hasn't really preemptively defended, or made a strong case, for teleology.

Con opens his round with...another overview! It's much shorter though.

Con argues that deontology is socially necessary, and that it DOES account for human subjectivity.

His first major point in support of that is that, he argues, deontology is more efficient and practical than teleology. Here, he compares teleological and deontological systems, and argues that because of the uncertainty of the future, properly applying teleology is nigh-impossible. He argues that Pro's hypotheticals are unrealistic, and gives his own hypotheticals which do rather seem more realistic, though still somewhat farfetched. Still, I see his point: Deontology is simple, and does not rely on assumptions or hypotheses of what might happen. In that respect it seems easier to ensure that your actions comply with what is moral, and I know later he makes an argument that expands on the flaws of letting people decide what they think will be the results of their actions.

His second point is that it allows for more subjective preference, giving an example of rescuing your own child over rescuing multiple other children. He argues that deontology doesn't decree which group of children to save; saving any of them is good. In this sense, Con argues that teleology is too restrictive and objective.

Con moves on to use laws as an example of deontological systems. He argues that because laws are deontological, it shows deontology to be more practical.

Pro begins his response. He claims that "as society is not straightforward or simplistic an ethical system that can adapt to circumstances is preferred." He doesn't really explain at this point how that works, though.
Posted by bladerunner060 2 years ago
bladerunner060
RFD 4/9:

He grants that "you cannot know the future", but argues that there are cases where deontology would faile. The example he gives is of abortion. Here's a case where the fact that we're dealing with extremes is interesting. The problem with the hypothetical is that it isn't complete enough. A rape victim who will die otherwise is, of course, a horrific tragedy. That said, not even extreme deontology would ignore whether the fetus would die, as well, which is a very real danger in the case of an at-risk pregnancy. On its face, I don't find this counterexample all that compelling because of that. If a deontological framework DID say that abortion was wrong, and the fetus WOULD survive, then it would be a case of choosing between two lives that would otherwise be protected. A tough call, to be sure, but not as clearly going against deontology as Pro seems to want us to think.

Pro defends the argument about Hitler, claiming that IF we had perfect knowledge, the situation would be clear in favor of Teleology. But Con's argument was that we *don't* have perfect knowledge--that was his whole problem with the notion.

The then says that "Far from unfeasible, teleological ethics is much more plausible and practical then deontological ethics." He hasn't really supported this yet, though.

He moves on to the children example. I don't find his rebuttal compelling: Teleology's whole basis is OUTCOMES, and we're dealing with extremes of both cases. I don't find it a compelling response.
Posted by bladerunner060 2 years ago
bladerunner060
RFD 5/9:

He does argue that deontology might paralyze a decision-maker morally in the case example given. While we are dealing with extremes, I don't know how much weight to give his idea. I don't think we can really accept that any moral system requires utterly perfect conditions--indeed, it would reflect more poorly on teleology if we did, given that Con's main complaint has been the lack of perfect knowledge in terms of future effects. If we can't resolve contradictions like that it might be technically immoral to let EITHER group die (even when it's impossible to save both), wouldn't we think the same about teleology? That we'd be morally paralyzed because we wouldn't know the best option? I expect Con to seize on this notion, but it is prima facie an issue.

He then argues against Con's complaint that Teleology requires one to sacrifice their own child to save multiple other people's children. His response falls flat--he's at least somewhat arguing that Teleology doens't give a duty. But that's what morality IS, and we are talking extremes, and we are assuming objective morality's existence. This rebuttal is VERY uncompelling. He could have tried to argue for a way for the duty to be subjective--what he does instead is argue for the duty to not exist. That seems absurd in this context.

Pro makes the assertion that "There is no individual, subjective desires to a duty based ethics". He doesn't support it, and honestly I'm not sure how he could. Pure deontology is rule-based, yes, but the notion that a rule cannot possibly factor in desires is patently absurd.

To return to the children, for example, the question would be whether you could will that everyone acted as you did. It seems reasonable to be willing to accept a person who is willing to save their own child over multiple other children. Indeed, I suspect Pro would agree with such a rule.
Posted by bladerunner060 2 years ago
bladerunner060
RFD 6/9:

Pro argues that Teleology gives you "options of what could be moral". He claims that deontology "renders actions as duties and left unfulfilled deems the omission immoral". How, precisely, does teleology do this?

Pro agrees that laws in the most basic sense are deontological. But he argues they're enforced in a teleological way. He argues that society looks at the circumstances and the motives. He doesn't really support all this, so I'm left to draw on my own knowledge. And by my own knowledge, he's wrong. Legally speaking, one does not get acquitted because of motives as a general rule. Though some crimes do require motives, generally speaking one uses motives (or teleological arguments) in order to get mercy. The law is black and white and deontological. SENTENCES factor in teleology. This is because, of course, very few people or systems really use ONLY one view of morality. This debate, however, is about the two extreme cases. And if Pro had argued based on the sentencing point, he may have made this more compelling. As it stands, I don't see it as very strong.

Con opens the next round by arguing that his point regarding efficiency in application stands. He handwaves the legal argument aside as conceded. Not entirely accurate, but given that it wasn't a strong argument from Pro, it's not much of a negative.

Con notes that Pro never really explained how teleology was actually more feasible. He attacks more and expands on the fact tha tteleology requires one make a choice among an infinite number of possible effects.

He notes that Pro's response is not compelling, that the pure teleologist would make a very clear call.
Posted by bladerunner060 2 years ago
bladerunner060
RFD 7/9:

Con moves on to a new argument, that Teleology is much too subjective. He is, of course, talking about it in a different aspect than he was before, so it's not contradictory. Here, he argues that while the decision given perceived clarify of outcome (such as with the 1 child/multiple child case) is too objective (his previous point), deciding what to factor IN as possible outcome is wholly too subjective. He gives examples of situations where a person's own ideas about what outcomes are can result in what appear to be immoral decisions that they THINK are moral because of the outcome they've thought of. The fact that it's the belief of the person in the outcome that makes it moral, Con argues, means that a person can easily do ridiculously awful things and be perfectly moral in doing them. "Teleological ethics can be used to justify anything and everything as long as the user believes that it does."

Con closes by summarizing these points.

I'm as much a fan of long debates as anyone. It's not like *I'm* famous for my brevity. That said, 11,400 characters in I was grateful this was only 4 rounds.

Pro opened the final round by arguign that deontology was rigid and unreasonable. He claims that he's presented a paradox that hasn't been resolved. I don't really agree.

He moves on to note that Con didn't really address his point regarding laws. That said, I still don't see it as compelling as Pro would like me to. He doesn't really buttress it himself, and repeating it doesn't make it better.

Pro claims that teleology is more flexible. I still don't see it the way he wants me to see it. We're talking about extremes, here. Though similar circumstances do seem more likely to have varying options with teleology, I'm not clear how it's "flexible". The criteria is still applied.
Posted by bladerunner060 2 years ago
bladerunner060
RFD 8/9:

Pro argues that Deontology's ignoring of outcome is a bad thing, but he doens't address at all Con's poing that "Teleology necessitates the evaluation of every set of actions and consequences in order to determine the single consequence which holds the greatest value under teleological calculi. This is impossible." He simply says that it isn't required. Why not? Con has said it is. It seems a plausible statement. Pro can't just handwave it away.

He likewise negates through assertion that teleology requires the "2 over 1" child scenario. He doesn't give an argument supporting this negation, though.

In the next section, he claims that "we have not debated a specific type of consequentialism" or a specific value based ethics. meaning that the one child may be of some importance that would increase the benefit of saving the one over the other two. Again this is the flexibility of teleology."

This seems nonsensical. Teleological systems DO place a value. As such, even if Pro COULD argue against the 2/1, the system would once again require that decision, whatever it was. He claims that Deontology would refuse to a llow the sacrifice of either side. That he first argues that there might be different teleological systems, and then argues about a specific assumed deontological system seems weird and nonsensical.

He argues that Con can't simultaneously argue that the system is too objective and too subjective. I don't know that I can agree, it seems obvious Con was arguing about specific aspects.

Pro addresses the examples, and I think he does fine doing so--Con would need to respond to his responses.

Pro also argues that the problem of "do what you want" applies to both systems; that a person could decide on a moral rule which leads to awfulness, and that a person could decide on an outcome that leads to awfulness.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by bladerunner060 2 years ago
bladerunner060
kasmicBeginnerTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: In the end, Con showed several problems with the practical application of Teleology in its purest form, and showed Deontology as being beneficial over those problems. By doing so, he got the win. This is a very brief overview of my RFD--the "Real" RFD will be posted in the comments as soon as I'm able to.
Vote Placed by whiteflame 2 years ago
whiteflame
kasmicBeginnerTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Given in comments.