The Instigator
000ike
Con (against)
Winning
7 Points
The Contender
socialpinko
Pro (for)
Losing
6 Points

The Basis of Discourse Ethics is sound

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
000ike
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/26/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,234 times Debate No: 24297
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (11)
Votes (3)

 

000ike

Con

This is the basis in question:

P1: Justifying irrational actions forms a performative contradiction

P2: Therefore, irrational actions are always unjustified

P3: Unjustified actions are unethical actions

C: Irrational actions are objectively unethical

Semantics are allowed since I believe the error here is a gap in the meaning of justified and ethical. If there is anything my opponent disagrees with in the syllogism he should address it before accepting, and I will amend it.

Round 1 is for acceptance. 3000 character limit. 3 days per round.
socialpinko

Pro

I accept.
Debate Round No. 1
000ike

Con

Thank you for accepting

Equivocation

In order to address the 3rd premise, we need to establish the meaning of objective ethics and objective justification. Objective ethics is a methodology for what ought or ought not to occur, irrespective of what does occur or what any individual would prefer to occur (1). It is an unconditional demand. Objective justification is a theory’s or action’s accordance with logic. The difference here lies in the basis of both terms. Objective justification is rooted in logic whereas objective morality is based on nothing except its own inherent truth.

We see this in all normative claims. They appeal to either supposedly naturally occurring knowledge, or some transcendent meta-ethical fact, such as in Kant’s categorical imperative.

In short, logically justified =/= morally justified. In its nature, morality supersedes logic. So therefore all the syllogism proves is that illogical actions are illogical. It does not actually demonstrate why one “ought not act illogically.”



"Is not" justified vs. "cannot" be justified

In this argument I will assume that “logically unjustified” does equal “objectively morally unjustified”…and prove that there is still a problem with the theory.

Discourse Ethics passively suggests that all actions are unethical until they are justified - because an action that has yet to be verbally justified is technically unjustified as per premise 3. My opponent will likely respond by saying that it is unjustifiable actions (actions that cannot ever be logically justified even if we tried) that matter. However, that wouldn’t be a valid response. This is why:

Suppose that the sun has the ability to explode in the solar system at any moment…but by the end of time, it never exploded. Relative to the solar system, what is the significance of that ability if it never occurred? Nothing.

Morality is judged from an external perspective…a 3rd person view of the action and the agent (much like the solar system is to a star). If it was judged in any other way, it would be subjective. Therefore, from such a view, an action’s ability to be justified is irrelevant. All that matters is whether or not it is justified. Therefore, even the actions that can be justified but weren’t, are immoral according to Discourse Ethics.

Conclusion: Something cannot be immoral until proven moral. That would suggest that some actions were previously immoral and then became moral,…which is inconsistent. Objective morality, by nature, never changes.



Source
1. http://en.wikipedia.org...

socialpinko

Pro

Contention. Equivocation.


To begin, I feel it necessary to look at how we can even arrive at things like justification and ethics in the first place. Take justification. Obviously, justification is arrived at through accordance with logic. In this case I agree with my opponent. If something is illogical it is unjustified. Now take ethical actions. How do we arrive at them? First, we begin with rationality. In order for communicative argumentation to occur in the first place, certain rules are presupposed as making it possible. In order to argue, one must presuppose them. So in order to argumentatively justify an ethical action, the action itself must also be in accordance with logic. The ethical principles might not be identical to the laws of reason, but they must be found within the scope of it in order to be legitimately argued for in the first place.


From rational presupposition we may conclude that any ethical action which could possible be derived would HAVE to be a justified action and conversely, any unjustified action would HAVE to be likewise unethical. Otherwise it could not be argumentatively forwarded as correct in the first place. This point does not preclude other rational principles being taken into accordance as well, just that the rules of communicative argumentation are so that any ethical action must logically be justified and any unethical action will logically be unjustified. The argument summarized in Con's R1 does not prevent it at all. All I have to do is show that irrational actions are objectively unethical. No irrational action can possible be ethical. Owing to the excluded middle then, irrational actions must be unethical.


Contention. Is not vs. Cannot.


Under this argument, my opponent argues that there is no relevant difference between a proposition being able to be justified and it actually being argumentatively justified in a given situation. However, he makes a crucial mistake in his point. He categorized discourse ethics incorrectly as consequentialist (or perhaps subjectivist even) as opposed to deontic. Discourse ethics is a deontological (rule based) system. Therefore it is only concerned with those actions which categorically are impossible to justify. Discourse ethics deals with the nature of certain actions, not as much with whatever justification someone gives for running a red light. Certain actions are by nature unjustifiable and so by nature unethical. Someone's personal argument has nothing to do with establishing this.


To claim that actions which have not yet been specifically justified in the context of argumentation are unethical is to misrepresent discourse ethics as consequentialist which it is far from. It is to argue that one's own perception of a given situation takes ethical priority over the given nature of the action which they are going to perform. Discourse ethics argues that actions in themselves are either ethical or unethical and are not made so by argumentation in itself.
Debate Round No. 2
000ike

Con

Equivocation

What my opponent is describing is not objective morality. There are 2 ways an action can be justified, logically and morally. Neither form exists within or necessitates the other. When we argue using discourse, logic is the universal and objective litmus test on the validity of a proposition. However, the nature of objective morality is that it reaches equal height of logic and becomes its own separate type of objective communicator. So in some arguments, instead of submitting to logic, the arguer can submit to the objective moral law. Logic is not dependent on morality and morality is not dependent on logic. They are both separate and individual justification systems. My opponent may find such a system to be ridiculous, but that’s simply one more reason to be a nihilist,... this is in fact the nature of objective ethics. The following quote sort of demonstrates what I mean:

Humans do not invent numbers, and humans cannot alter them. Plato explained the eternal character of mathematics by stating that they are abstract entities that exist in a spirit-like realm. He noted that moral values also are absolute truths and thus are also abstract, spirit-like entities”(1)

“Also” implies equality in the mentioned characteristics. Morality and Logic are conceptual colleagues operating on a lateral playing field..neither encompasses the other. Objective morality invented within logic,…is not actually objective morality. It is objective logic. All Discourse ethics proves is that illogical actions are illogical. No morality there.

I will concede the isn’t-cannot argument and forward this instead:


Logic knows no “ought”

Rationality demands that you must have a reason for doing an action,…and that your action is in accordance with your reasons (else the action is irrational). The statement: “one ought to do X. Period.” Is a means with no end…and an action that must simply be done without any reason. For example, one does not need a reason to not steal,…he simply “ought not steal”. So, objective morality is not just separate from logic but inherently defiant of logic.

This is a logical statement

If you don’t want to contradict yourself, then you ought not argue for an irrational action


This is an objective moral statement

You ought not argue for an irrational action.

My opponent cannot choose the 1st statement because it is conditional…the “ought” is only true so long as the “if” is true. So that is not objective. My opponent has no choice but to assume the 2nd statement, in which case he contradicts himself. An obligation cannot be unconditional yet rational. This is a very ironic situation we have. It appears that my opponent presupposes rationality (through the act of arguing)…while advocating an irrational obligation. I believe the conclusion here is obvious. Discourse ethics is inherently contradictory and destroys itself.

Source

1. http://www.iep.utm.edu...

socialpinko

Pro

Contention. Equivocation.


My opponent begins by assuming that logical and moral justification are mutually exclusive methods of justification. However, as I showed in the last round, to justify a proposition requires the assumption of rationality. Thus, any moral proposition (in order to be justified; and no moral proposition is self justifying) would have to abide by the rules of logical discourse. As I stated previously, this does not mean rationality is the sole proper method. For instance, some other characteristic of morality could exist, but it would have to be subsumed within the limits of reason.


My opponent's argument merely argues that logic and morality are necessarily separate while employing little justification. He argues that morality and logic reach equal height yet separate type. He attempts to justify this by making the fallacy of appeal to authority. He appeals to the authority of Plato on this subject, however, he fails to provide sound reasoning behind why Plato came to the conclusion or why the conclusion itself is sound. Con's case appears to be merely a summary of the position he is defending devoid of the reasoning he brings to back it. Compare this to my own refutation of the position utilizing the presuppositions necessary to engage in communicative argumentation.


Contention. Logical oughts.


My opponent seems to mistake my argument to be that commitment to rationality is a sufficient condition to ethics. This would be mistaken. I am arguing that rationality is necessary, though not necessarily sufficient. It's possible for an ethical action to take on other characteristics along with rationality such as maximization of utility for example. It is impossible though for an ethical action not to have the characteristic of rationality though as I have mentioned before. Communicative argumentation presupposes commitment to rationality as a necessary norm. To deny this is to be caught in contradiction. My opponent is free to do this and admit it but that wouldn't help him win an ARGUMENT which is what we are having here.


Discourse ethics summarized by my opponent in R1 states that "Irrational actions are objectively unethical" Since I have shown that rationality is a necessary (though not necessarily sufficient) condition for something being ethical, I have shown discourse ethics to be justified. I can admit that other values may be ethical, but it cannot possibly be denied that rationality is not primary if there are. To do so would be to deny the presuppositions of communicative argumentation and thus would undermine my opponent's own argument since he must rely on these presuppositions in order to forward an argument in the first place.
Debate Round No. 3
000ike

Con

Equivocation

My opponent completely mischaracterizes my argument. I am not simply summarizing a position, I am proving it. When I referenced Plato, that wasn’t an appeal to authority, it was a piece of evidence to corroborate the claim. That was a definition of what objective morality has to be in order to be objective. Perhaps I should make the reasoning clearer.

Let us take Kant’s Categorical Imperative for instance. This is a form of objective morality because it is an unconditional obligation. However, the CI does not appeal to logic or operate under logic. In fact, I consider the CI outright illogical. However that is irrelevant because it appeals to some other transcendent order, not logic:

“[Justifying the Categorical Imperative] This proves, said Kant, that man’s concepts are only a delusion, but a collective delusion which no one has the power to escape. Thus reason and science are “limited,” said Kant; they are valid only so long as they deal with this world, with a permanent, pre-determined collective delusion (and thus the criterion of reason’s validity was switched from the objective to the collective)”(1)

Morality born within logic is still just logic. Just because justifying an irrational action forms a contradiction, does not mean that we “ought not to contradict ourselves.” My opponent never bridges the is-ought gap…simply because it cannot be bridged. Logic is a kind of order based on what is. Morality is a completely separate order based on what ought to be. If you find that an action is illogical, it does not necessarily follow that we “ought not to act illogically.” That is why objective morality cannot exist within logical parameters.



Logic knows no ought

My opponent states that rationality is necessary in ethics - this begs the question. He’s using as his premise, what we’re supposed to be debating. Rationality is not necessary in objective ethics because morality is its own separate order. Furthermore, he pretty much evades my point on “reasons” so I will reiterate it.

P1. All rational actions need reasons

P2. Objective ethical obligations are reason-less actions

C1. Objective ethical obligations are irrational

C2. Objective ethics cannot exist within logic

The ambiguity is in perhaps the second premise. However, the second premise is still correct. Objective ethics is true regardless of any individual’s desire. One need not form a reason, or ponder over the action, he must simply do it. It therefore follows that objective ethics cannot be logical.



Conclusion

Discourse ethics is a verbose failure that hides fallacy within complexity. It first of all falls under the fallacy of equivocation by manipulating the vagueness between logical justification and moral justification. Then it fails to justify how “is illogical” becomes “ought not to be illogical”. It has no sound foundation beyond confusion in the use of language. Therefore, I hope the negative case is clear. Vote Con.


Source

http://aynrandlexicon.com...

socialpinko

Pro

Contention. Equivocation.


My opponent's point regarding the categorical imperative is moot in regards to the topic at hand seeing as I am not defending it. Moreover, he seems to simply generalize based off of one opinion of the CI to conclude that all morality MUST NOT be based off of logic. On my opponent's reference to Plato, all it does is re-state his position. No specific or discernible reasoning is provided. The quote regarding moral values merely states: "He [Plato] noted that moral values also are absolute truths and thus are also abstract, spirit-like entities". I fail to see where the reasoning lies. It is merely a statement of Plato's beliefs, not an independent argument.


On my opponent's actual argument regarding the resolution though, his argument revolve around the idea that an unconditional obligation must rely on absolutely nothing in order to count as objective. Of course we know this not to be the case though. The rules of arithmetic are unconditional in that they are true in all possible worlds but we would never say that they cannot be objective since they are based on logic. This is because logic itself is not conditional. There is no conceivable possible world where the laws of logic did not exist and thus no possible world where the ethical obligation which I have described does not exist. My opponent's conception of the requirements of objectivity are totally unjustified and are never rationally justified.


Contention. Logical Oughts.


In response to the charge of begging the question, I'll point out again my argument from communicative argumentation (which my opponent never responded to by the way). In order to justify anything (rationally, ethically, scientifically, etc.) we must appeal to argumentation. No proposition is self justifying. At the very least we must state the proposition (for example the cogito) in order to justify it. Therefore any non-truism proposition is bound to the laws of rationality. My opponent keeps repeating his assertion that ethics must be made up of reason-less actions without responding to this point which clearly shows that ethics are not exceptions to the rule.


It is true that I am attempting to justify the proposition that discourse ethics is sound. Therefore it is necessarily true that my argument must be in accordance with the presuppositions of argumentation in order to be justified. Therefore it is necessary that the specific tenets of discourse ethics be in line with the aforementioned presuppositions. For if they were not, then it would be impossible to argumentatively justify the proposition that discourse ethics is sound. As I pointed out before, this does not necessitate that rationality is the only characteristic relevant within ethics. It only means that any other characteristic must be in accordance with rationality. Thus, the conclusion that "Irrational actions are objectively unethical" holds true and the resolution has been upheld
Debate Round No. 4
11 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Websterremembered 5 years ago
Websterremembered
Basic flaw in your argument, you cannot define what is entirely rational and what is not, without knowing how to define the very word. For example is love irrational? I think not and yet people cannot define the true nature of why it is, or is not so. Is logic enough? can a person justify or condemn someone based upon this? Why is it so hard to believe in logic?
Posted by socialpinko 5 years ago
socialpinko
The 3,000 character limit really limited my ability to go into detail the justification. So the contentions were limited enough to allow for a quick response. Almost like a forum post lol.
Posted by 000ike 5 years ago
000ike
That was fast
Posted by socialpinko 5 years ago
socialpinko
Damn character limits.
Posted by socialpinko 5 years ago
socialpinko
I'll have to postpone this until my debate with Serk is over. His takes precedent given that it's a tournament debate.
Posted by socialpinko 5 years ago
socialpinko
Alright. I'll accept as soon as I'm done with my tax debate with Double_R. Can't have more than two serious debates going on at once. Don't worry we only have one round left.
Posted by 000ike 5 years ago
000ike
done
Posted by socialpinko 5 years ago
socialpinko
Could you change the word immoral and moral to unethical and ethical respectively.
Posted by 000ike 5 years ago
000ike
are you going to accept?
Posted by 000ike 5 years ago
000ike
yes
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by InVinoVeritas 5 years ago
InVinoVeritas
000ikesocialpinkoTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Both arguments involved a little vagueness and circumlocution. However, indeed, the concept of moral universalism is grounded in the "is-ought" fallacy. The "rules" used in deontological ethics are arbitrary and their use does not lead to the discovery of ethical truths.
Vote Placed by DetectableNinja 5 years ago
DetectableNinja
000ikesocialpinkoTied
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Total points awarded:23 
Reasons for voting decision: Similar reasons to TUF. Pro's analysis of the very idea of argumentation and reasoning for ethics made more sense, and also was more refuting. Con is a good debater, but I feel that in this debate he ended up repeating assertions about morality with little reasoning. I give him sources because, while Pro's argument was more convincing, it was grounded in basically logic, whereas Con attempted to use sources, even if they may not have been successful. The resolution is upheld.
Vote Placed by TUF 5 years ago
TUF
000ikesocialpinkoTied
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Reasons for voting decision: I was planning on leaving a big detailed RFD, but see that it is not neccesary. Both side present great cases. As a subjectivist, I must say Con's R3 scenario does give me food for thought, yet if discourse ethics isn't sound then what is there to prove absolutism? Pro's point on argumentation as a counter to having logic interfere with morality did seem to make more sense with me however, which is why I am giving him the arguments points. I will Give sources to Con for making me think outside.