The Instigator
Philosobot
Pro (for)
Winning
5 Points
The Contender
ScottyDouglas
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

The Moral Argument is Not Sound

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Post Voting Period
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after 1 vote the winner is...
Philosobot
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/19/2012 Category: Religion
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,251 times Debate No: 24337
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (15)
Votes (1)

 

Philosobot

Pro

Resolution

The moral argument for God's existence is not sound.

Structure

R1. Acceptance
R2. Opening Arguments
R3. First Rebuttals
R4. Second Rebuttals
R5. Closing Statements

Rules

1. No arguments in the first round.
2. No new arguments in the last round.
3. Do your best to interpret charitably.

Definitions and Abbreviations and Clarifications

1. The moral argument:
(1) If God doesn't exist, then objective moral values and duties do not exist.
(2) Objective moral values and duties do exist.
(3) Therefore, God exists.

2. Objective Morality (OM): moral facts exist and are true or false independent of any individual's opinion. Moral values refer to goodness and badness. Moral duties refer to moral ‘oughts.'
3. Atheist Friendly Morality (AFM): a class of moral theories which don't depend on God.
4. Divine Command Theory (DCT): a class of moral theories which depend on God.
5. God: an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent being.
ScottyDouglas

Con

I thank my opponent for this debate and welcome him. This is a very interesting debate and I thank my opponent has defined it well therefore....

I ACCEPT

I awiat your arguement, Sir!
Debate Round No. 1
Philosobot

Pro

What's the Problem?

Must God ground morality? Philosophers have been doing moral philosophy without reference to God for millennia, so it's not clear what the problem is supposed to be. Philosopher Richard Swinburne affirms, "Some moral truths are clearly moral truths whether there is a God or not; it is surely wrong to torture children for fun whether or not there is a God"[1] and "I cannot see any force in an argument to the existence of God from the existence of morality."

Implicit in P1 of the moral argument are two main contentions:
(1) Theism can provide a foundation for morality. (Theistic morality is possible)
(2) AFM cannot provide a foundation for morality. (Non-theistic morality is impossible.)

Supported and defended, these contentions would set up a necessary relation between God and OM, affirming P1. If the theist fails to support and defend even one of these contentions, then their argument breaks down. As Stephen Law says, "The onus is on [the theist] to show that all such atheist friendly accounts are wrong—even the ones we haven't thought of yet."[2] My main focus will be on contention (2).

I. Epistemological Argument for Ontological Grounding
Given epistemological warrant to accept OM on atheism, and in the absence of good arguments against OM's ontology on atheism, we have good reasons to accept AFM, including it's ontological nature, even if we don't have a fully realized and explained model of ontology on atheism. Imagine the following argument, given an atheistic framework:

1: If we are warranted in believing x exists, then we are warranted in believing that x has an ontological grounding in reality.
2: We are warranted in believing OM exists.
3: Therefore, we are warranted in believing OM has an ontological grounding in reality.

The first premise is supported by a metaphysical intuition that something isn't nothing! Existence entails having a "state of being", which is the same thing as saying it has an ontological grounding in reality. If it exists, it must have an ontological grounding, even if we cannot specify what exactly that grounding is.

The second premise is supported by the Prima facie appearance that OM exists, which the theist is committed to allowing the atheist, even in a non-theistic epistemological framework (for if one needs to appeal to God to justify belief in OM, then that shatters P2 of the moral argument by making it circular!)

Con has one option: he must provide a good argument against the ontology of AFM, which if successful would rebut P2 of my epistemological argument without shattering their own argument. The importance of this good positive argument against moral ontology given atheism cannot be stressed enough, for without it, the theist cannot hope to say that God's existence is necessary for grounding OM.

(Note that I don't have to defend any particular ontological view of morality here for this argument to work. However, I'll sketch an ontological view anyways, in the interest of an entertaining debate.)

II. Non-Reductive Ethical Naturalism (NREN)

Moral Values
On NREN, facts about moral value are made true by objective features of the world. The ontology of these facts is reducible to non-moral facts (like suffering and happiness,) however the expressivity of these facts is not reducible to any non-moral fact (they are greater than the sum of their parts.) Properly understood, this provides a foundation for the existence of objective moral values in virtue of the existence of things like suffering and happiness.[4]

That may sound confusing. To elucidate these concepts, consider the following analogy about colors, which mirrors the above passage: Facts about color are made true by objective features of the world. The ontology of these facts is reducible to non-color facts (like reflected light particles.) However, the expressivity of these facts is not reducible to non-color facts (describing the reflected light particles to a blind man still wouldn't convey the concept of color to him. The expressivity of color is greater than the sum of its parts.) Properly understood, this provides a foundation for the existence of colors in virtue of the existence of things like reflected light particles.

So the question is, do properties like suffering and happiness objectively exist? Of course. Properly understood, this account provides a possible foundation for objective moral values, even on atheism. Read both of the above paragraphs again carefully to solidify the concepts.

Moral Duties
When we talk about duty, we are talking about what you ought to do, morally speaking. To facilitate your understanding about how we might get objective moral oughts on atheism, you should: (1) understand what ought means, (2) understand how practical oughts work, and then (3) understand how moral oughts work.

(1) Meaning of Ought:
Ought means "reasons for action exist."[5] If we say, "What Lin should do is X" or "What Lin really ought to do is X", we are saying there are reasons for action that exist, and that those reasons recommend that Lin do X.[6] For if it were not the case that reasons for action which recommend Lin do X, then it is not the case that Lin ought to do X; whereas if it is the case that reasons for action which recommend Lin do X, then it is the case that Lin ought to do X.

(2) Practical Oughts
In practical reasoning, a combination of beliefs and desires acts as a recipe for constituting a practical reason for action.[7] For example, if you desire to keep your job, and you believe you must get a haircut to keep your job, this desire-belief system constitutes a practical reason for getting your haircut. Thusly, it makes sense to say you ought to get your haircut. So the ontology of this practical reason for action (or practical ought) is based in your desires and beliefs, because desires and beliefs exist and they provide reasons for action.

(3) Moral Oughts
What is a moral ought? It's a moral reason for action, as opposed to a practical one. In the practical reasoning section, we provided a recipe of beliefs and desires which constitutes practical ought. But practical reasoning won't get us moral duties (what if, for example, someone wanted to kill others for fun? An individual's own desires don't seem to count as a moral reason for action.) How then can we derive a moral ought? What "recipe" of conditions and properties can we supply which constitutes a moral reason for action? I propose that an objective value, like goodness or badness, counts as a moral reason for action upon a moral agent recognizing that moral value. Just like a combination of beliefs and desires constitutes a practical reason for action or practical ought, a recognition of goodness or badness constitutes a moral reason for action or a moral ought.

Because things like suffering and happiness exist, and because recognition of goodness and badness can constitute a reason for action, non-theists have a foundation for objective moral values and duties.

Conclusion

If Con wants to prove P1, they must show that AFM is impossible by providing a good argument against the ontology of moral values and duties on all versions of AFM.

References:

[1] Richard Swinburne, Is there a God?
[2] Stephen Law, My Criticisms of Craig's Moral and Resurrection Arguments (Note: Blog post. Not an academic article.)
[3] James Rachels, The Elements of Moral Philosophy
[4] Michael Huemer, Ethical Intuitionism
[5] Patricia Greenspan, Practical Reasons and Moral ‘Ought'
[6] Alonzo Fyfe, The Meaning of ‘Ought' (Note: Blog post. Not an academic article.)
[7] James Rachels, Naturalism (Essay originally appears in The Blackwell Guide to Ethical Theory)
ScottyDouglas

Con

I thank my opponent for enlightening debate.

The moral argument appeals to the existence of moral laws as evidence of God's existence. According to this argument, there couldn't't be such a thing as morality without God; "If there is no God, then everything is permissible." That there are moral laws, then, that not everything is permissible, proves that God exists.

Must God ground morality?

Philosophers have been doing moral philosophy with God in mind forever. Though some do not, and that mite be what the problem is within the human perspective of morality.

Atheists have came up with many quality arguments against religious belief, and pushed on the dialogue of religion and its relation to morality, there are too many shortcomings to form an approach based on atheism.

God cannot be the ground of moral value in part because there are possible worlds in which God does not exist and yet moral values exist. The theist faces no problem, since he believes that God is a logically necessary being and so can ground moral values in every logically possible world. So the objection finds no purchase against the theist. If God is a contingent being, He cannot ground moral values.

My opponent brings forward two main contentions:

(1) Theism can provide a foundation for morality. (Theistic morality is possible)
(2) AFM cannot provide a foundation for morality. (Non-theistic morality is impossible.)

My opponent is not correct because God doesn't have to ground moral value, here we see the structure for my argument:

1. Necessarily, if moral values exist, then God exists or If God does not exist then objective moral values do not exist.
2. Necessarily, moral values exist and Objective moral values exist.
3. Therefore, necessarily, God exists. http://en.wikipedia.org...

My opponent then goes on in his argument to suggest that I, his opponent, must provide the answers to all the questions available(even the ones not asked). Well he got to answer some too.

First off, One should consider that friendly atheism can not be in accord with the ordinary use of the term 'friendly'. To advocate friendly atheism in this sense of the term 'friendly' would be to advocate that atheists be friendly people, that is, that they should be open, warm and sociable. This would include being friendly to theists, their traditional enemies. Which I doubt there is significant reason to conclude as such.

Secondly, Working out the fine details and balance between morality and nature is not settled for any. When we're done morality or immorality is based by the fingerprints of God not without. We see these as ethics and we have thought that God has had something to do with them sine the dawn of man. There's nothing "good" about goodness or "bad" about badness without a standard to set it by. Though we have those common standards that has been permeate throughout history but atheist look to self means to reflect it. These feelings and habits simply are what they are, the sole product of God's character which we receive from his essence and spirit.

Moral Values

Moral values are the standards of good and evil, which govern an individual's behavior and choices. Individual's morals may derive from society and government, religion, or self.

Moral Duties

Moral duties are constituted by the commands of an essentially just and loving God. It seems to me that this theory does derive an "ought" from an "is," and justifiably so. The theory does ground moral values in God's unchanging nature. God is the paradigm of goodness. But that is not to say that "because God is a certain way we ought to behave in certain ways." No, our moral obligations and prohibitions arise as a result of God's commands to us. My opponent has failed to implement these premises:

Objectivity: The truth of a moral proposition is independent of the beliefs of any particular human being or human community.

Normativity: Moral considerations, as such, constitute reasons for acting.

Categoricity: Moral reasons are reasons for all human persons, regardless of what goals or desires they may have.
Authority: Moral reasons are especially weighty reasons.

Know ability: In normal circumstances, adult human beings have epistemic access to morally salient considerations.

Unity: A human person can have a moral reason to act or to refrain from acting in ways that affect no one other than the agent who performs the act.

Any theory that fails to have these properties will not be an adequate theory of moral duty.

What is a moral ought?

The fact that we ought to do something about the problem of famine isn't a fact about the way that the world is, it's a fact about the way that the world ought to be. This is because moral facts aren't descriptive, they're prescriptive; moral facts have the form of commands. The correct response to this would be to seek God's will and to practice it.

How then can we derive a moral ought?

So how does Divine Command Theory derive an "ought" from an "is"? Well, it says that we ought to do something because it is commanded by God. That is deriving an "ought" from an "is."

If someone has one reason to do one thing, but morally ought to do another thing, then all things considered they ought to do the other thing. Morality over-rules everything. Morality has ultimate authority.

What "recipe" of conditions and properties can we supply which constitutes a moral reason for action?

As morality has more authority than any human person or institution, the moral argument suggests, morality can't have been commanded by any human person or institution. As morality has ultimate authority, as morality over-rules everything, morality must have been commanded by someone who has authority over everything. The existence of morality thus points us to a being that is greater than any of us and that rules over all creation.

Conclusion

If the moral argument can be defended against the various objections that have been raised against it, then it proves the existence of an author of morality, of a being that has authority over and that actively rules over all creation.

If Pro wants to prove any of his argument, then he must show that AFM is possible by providing a good rebuttal argument for ATF. Thanks, back to Pro.

References:
Britannica Online entry for agnosticism & atheism. Shermer, Michael, How We Believe (W.H. Freeman and Company), 1999, pp. 257–258. http://creation.com... http://www.centerforinquiry.net... www.lastseminary.com/against-naturalism/Ethical%20Naturalism%20... � PDF file http://www.shenvi.org... http://www.existence-of-god.com...
Debate Round No. 2
Philosobot

Pro

First of all, I'd like to thank Scotty for the debate. I did not get a chance to do so in my opening case, due to character restrictions.

I. What's the Problem?

To support P1 of the Moral Argument is to say that God is necessary for OM. Scotty affirms this in his statement of the argument. But oddly enough, he seems to deny that the two contentions I listed are implicit in such a premise. The contentions are:

(1) Theism can provide a foundation for morality. (Theistic morality is possible)
(2) AFM cannot provide a foundation for morality. (Non-theistic morality is impossible.)

The contentions are implicit in P1 because if AFM is possible, or if DCT is impossible, then it would not be the case that God is necessary for objective morality. If the contentions are supported and defended by Scotty, then that would constitute a necessary relation between God and morality, and P1 is justified and the Moral Argument works. If even one of the contentions is false, then P1 is false and the Moral Argument fails. Therefore, Scotty must support and defend these two contentions, if he wants his argument to stand.

II. Epistemological Argument for Ontological Grounding

I argued that in the absence of a good argument against the possibility of AFM, we can be confident that P1 of the Moral Argument is false (see Epistemological Argument in my opening case.) Did Scotty provide any such argument?

1. Atheist Friendly Morality
Scotty confuses the definition of AFM with the idea that atheists should be friendly people, including to theists, who are, in Scotty's words, atheist's "enemies." This blunder on Scotty's part made me chuckle. AFM just refers to the class of ethical theories which don't depend on God (as I noted in the definitions section of round one.) Thus, it is a Straw Man Fallacy.[1] (It is, perhaps, one of the strangest straw men I've seen.)

2. God can be seen at the roots of moral reflection
Scotty says once we are done working out moral details, we see the fingerprints of God. I see no fingerprints of God. And neither do many other moral philosophers. Unless Scotty can provide a good argument for this, it should be discarded as bare assertion.

3. Objective moral values require a standard
Scotty asserts OMV require a standard, but he never actually argues for this point. We don't require abstract platonic forms or standards for colors or other objective facts. Why should we do so for moral facts?[2] I've also provided a theory which grounds objective moral values independent of a standard, proving this contention false.

4. Moral law requires a lawgiver
Scotty sketched a version of DCT. However, Scotty never gave us any arguments to support the idea that duty requires a lawgiver. It seems he just assumed it. Unless Scotty presents an argument proving duty without a lawgiver is impossible, then we have no reason to believe a lawgiver is necessary for duty to arise. Also, I've given an account of duty which makes no appeals to a lawgiver. In practice, a recognition of goodness and badness seems to provide reasons for action even in the absence of commands[2], as I explained in my opening case.

5. Requirements for an adequate theory of moral duty
Scotty lists requirements of an adequate theory of moral duty: Objectivity, Normativity, Catagoricity, Authority, Epistemic Access, and Unity. I agree to all except for the last. I've never heard of "unity" in moral discussions. I ask Scotty to (a) elaborate on what he means by "unity", (b) describe why he thinks it's a requirement, and [c] cite a source where I can read more about it. Also, readers should note that unless Scotty provides us with an argument proving AFM cannot possibly account for these facets of morality, then he still hasn't met his burden of proof. Simply listing them is not enough. My Epistemological Argument shows why we are justified in believing AFM can account for these things, even if we don't yet know a specific theory which can.

Scotty never contradicts the premises of my Epistemological Argument, and never gets around to showing that OM given atheism is necessarily false (impossible.) Scotty mentions something called "ATF" in his conclusion, but I didn't see this defined and am unsure of what it refers to. Therefore, my argument still stands, undefeated. Extend Argument.

III. Non-Reductive Ethical Naturalism

I sketched a possible view in which both moral values and duties have ontological grounding in the world. I won't repeat the theory here, but I will note that NREN meets the criteria for an adequate moral theory.

Moral Values and Duties
Objectivity: On NREN, goodness and badness objectively exist when certain good-and-bad-making properties exist, like suffering and happiness (much like colors exist when certain color-making properties exist, like reflected light particles.) These properties exist independently of people's opinions. Moral reasons for action exist objectively. I developed this idea more robustly in my opening case.

Epistemic Access: We come to know of goodness and badness (and thus rightness and wrongness) through moral intuition.

Normativity: On NREN, duty arises upon recognition of goodness or badness. I describe this in more detail in my opening case.

Authority: In practice, these moral reasons for action take precedent over practical reasons. They are "weighty."

Categoricity: These reasons are accessible by and applicable to all moral agents, even if they have contrary desires (I differentiated between practical reasons and moral reasons in my opening case.)

If NREN is possible, then the contention implicit in P1 of the moral argument is wrong. Scotty hasn't yet provided any real substantive challenges to the possibility of NREN, so we have good grounds for rejecting P1. Extend Argument.

Conclusion

Implicit in P1 of the moral argument is the contention that AFM is impossible. Scotty must meet this burden of proof by supporting and defending a positive argument against the possibility of AFM. So far, he hasn't been able to do this. Further, I've gone the extra mile and sketched a possible ethical theory that grounds objective moral values and duties. Because AFM is possible, as I've argued, we can reject P1.

P1 is negated and the resolution is affirmed.

(PS: I'd like to call attention to the frequent grammatical mistakes in Scotty's opening case. In some places, these mistakes clouded his intended meaning, rendering it nearly incomprehensible. Also, the quality of many of his sources is suspect. Among them are two creationist websites, one of which brings us to a 404 error. Another is an irrelevant blog post about atheism and religion as they relate to politics and secularism.)

References:
[1] http://www.iep.utm.edu...
[2] Wes Morriston, God and the Ontological Foundation of Morality
ScottyDouglas

Con

I'd like to thank Philosobot for the debate.

I. Problem?
(1) Theism can provide a foundation for morality. (Theistic morality is possible)
(2) AFM cannot provide a foundation for morality. (Non-theistic morality is impossible.)

[/]To support P1 of the Moral Argument is that God is necessary for OM. [/]
I agree here but my opponent has confused my stance and maybe that is my fault.

I agree with it to some extent. I avoid simple good/evil dichotomies. I think there are some things where are always objectively wrong, things like murder, assault, abuse or otherwise in direct violation of the golden rule. I also maintain that some things can be objectively considered good. I selected subjective because between the extremes (good and evil), I find there is a third area where things are highly subjective and determined by personal morality. In this area are things like theft, which in some circumstances is, though not good, is also not evil. A persons motivations and circumstances are relevant and the determination of good and evil is down to personal preference and is thus subjective. So where do we get that objective good and evil from? I suggest it stems from our creator which is God.

At any rate, you have just defined "AFM" as the reduction or reducing of suffering. And yet there are people who believe that in some circumstances making someone suffer is in fact a good thing. And clearly some people do not strive to reduce suffering; there are plenty of murderers, rapists, and thieves, as well as those who voluntary increase their own suffering for the sake of reducing others.

If we can fully interpret morality and it is objective, then it shouldn't matter how our brains came to be the way they are nor should we be viewing it differently; If God is not the cause then what is? What makes an act "good" or reducing suffering doesn't depend on the particular discussion its ingrained.

Say if you say, I propose x as an objective definition of good then it is your subjective view of what objective good is. The same for any individual proposing a, b, or c, as an objective definition of good. ALL we can do is to try to recognise IF anything seems to be objectively good or bad to a degree where the doubt upon not being so is negligible, e.g. it is objectively bad to torture children for gratuitous fun.

II. Epistemological Argument for Ontological Grounding

1. Atheist Friendly Morality
My opponent confuses his self when he uses the word friendly and then tries to back out of it as if he didn't. To consider the word friendly is to suggest that you are friendly. My opponent gives himself as a atheist a label called ATF for the obvious objective morality that we all have but then gave us no reasonable explanation for his claim. As so he suggested that I prove it wrong before he states the structure for his claim just the declaration of his subjective theory. Then he says I am using a straw-man when I'm using the exact wording he implied. My opponent suggest that an atheist's morals are friendly to themselves and others. I simply ask how and why are we assuming they are friendly to all, how is anyone?

2. God can be seen at the roots of moral reflection

My opponent claims that I made an assertion but I think it is he that is making them. He starts up a debate then claims his opponent must provide the burden of proof while he has to do nothing to valid the his claim that the moral argument is not sound. Though what he does provide us is his own subjective argument.

But so long as you are focusing on human definitions of good you are not providing an objective definition of it but a subjective definition of it. What matters here is that we objectively do not think that suffering leads to bliss. Since people are ingrained with these set of beliefs, there's no basis to assert that there exists no objective moral standard.

Subjective Morality is caused by culture/intelligence/religion. These are the things that make good/bad subjective. But my point is that the definition of good or suffering that my opponent uses is still subjective. However, we still use the same definition of good. We both still behave in a way that we think reduces suffering. It is just that one of us is wrong.
The definition of good or suffering is "universal", and it is somehow not subjective?

3. Objective moral values require a standard

I do assert OMV requires a standard, and my opponent never actually argues for his point. God is the standard and only receive a portion of his moral quality. Why should we do so for moral facts? No, Why shouldn't we!

[/] I've also provided a theory which grounds objective moral values independent of a standard, proving this contention false.[/]
Yes you have randomly thought one up that is stuck inside subjective morality.

4. Moral law requires a lawgiver

Because we humans also value encouraging positive social behaviors. Never mind that we too admire a person who is willing to suffer to prevent the suffering of another. Never mind that we too greatly respect a person dying in an attempt to save a fellow. Never mind that we're ALSO primates who, due to our higher level of intelligence, exhibit more sophisticated expressions of those very same behaviors. Never mind all that. 'Those animals aren't human, and so morality does even apply to them. They're inferior to US. We're SUPERIOR to them. WE have OBJECTIVE morality.

5. Requirements for an adequate theory of moral duty

The question is what we should do, not what we would (as a matter of empirical psychology) would do. Morality doesn't describe how humans do or will act, it describes how they should. So therefore unless God is the cause of objective morality then it is only subjective duty or theory.

III. Non-Reductive Ethical Naturalism

Conclusion
I thank my opponent and suggest he define his authority for his motions. Until he does we can not properly know objective morality. Thanks, back to Pro.

Resources:
http://gakuranman.com... http://ezinearticles.com... http://wiki.ironchariots.org... http://www.davidsonian.com...
Debate Round No. 3
Philosobot

Pro

I. What's the Problem?

To support P1 of the Moral Argument is to say that God is necessary for OM. Scotty reaffirms this, but then proceeds to deliver a muddled treatise on his personal moral views. But he agreed to defend the Moral Argument as laid out in Round 1. P1 of the Moral Argument has specific entailments regardless of what the defender's personal views of morality are. The two implicit contentions in P1 are:

(1) Theism can provide a foundation for morality. (Theistic morality is possible)
(2) AFM cannot provide a foundation for morality. (Non-theistic morality is impossible.)

I explained in previous rounds why these contentions are implicit in P1 of the moral argument, and I have yet to see Scotty face them head on. Scotty seems reluctant to shoulder this burden of proof P1 commits him to, and instead accuses me of doing "nothing to valid the his claim that the moral argument is not sound." Not true! I've provided both (A) an argument for thinking moral realism on atheism is true, which invalidates P1 of the moral argument, and (B) a non-theistic ethical theory, which invalidates P1 of the moral argument. He has done very little to address either.

He says I've just defined AFM to mean a reduction of suffering. I suspect he is referring to my defense of NREN, but I've not defined "good" to mean anything. In fact, in my exposition of NREN, I was careful to point out that "good" cannot be defined in non-moral terms. I simply provided a possible account of its ontology. I've yet to see Scotty address the theory head on without attacking a straw man.

II. Epistemological Argument for Ontological Grounding

I argued that in the absence of a good argument against the possibility of AFM, we can be confident that P1 of the Moral Argument is false (see Epistemological Argument in my opening case.)

1. Atheist Friendly Morality
Scotty again confuses the definition of AFM with the idea that atheists should be friendly people. AFM is clearly defined in Round 1 as "a class or moral theories which don't depend on God." Scotty is confusing the name of the term with the definition of the term, and ascribing his own separate meaning to the term based on his (mis)understanding of its name. He still argues against a blatant straw man.

2. God can be seen at the roots of moral reflection
Originally, Scotty said that when we are done working out the details of morality, we can see morality is "based by the fingerprints of God not without." He didn't support this with argumentation in his opening round, and he didn't provide any further support in his most recent round. In fact, he seemed to have dropped the claim entirely, instead asserting that I am doing "nothing to valid the his claim that the moral argument is not sound," and asserting that morality is subjective.

3. Objective moral values require a standard
Scotty repeats his assertion that OM requires a standard. He tries to shift the burden of proof by saying I must prove OM doesn't require a standard, despite the fact that I've already shown objective facts can be grounded without appeals to standards or platonic forms. Because Scotty is making the claim that we do require a standard for morality, the burden of proof is on him. He has yet to give us an argument.

4. Moral law requires a lawgiver
Originally, Scotty claimed that moral law requires a law giver without any argumentation. I asked for an argument for this point, and even gave a moral theory which derives obligation without a law giver. Instead of providing support for his claim, Scotty rambles about primates and how we are superior to other animals because we have objective morality. I fail to see any connection to this and his claim that moral duties require a lawgiver. He seemed to have dropped the point completely and ignored my arguments against such a notion.

5. Requirements for an adequate theory of moral duty
Initially, Scotty stated requirements for an adequate theory of moral duty. I agreed to most requirements, and asked for clarification and information on the last requirement. I also argued that unless Scotty could show that AFM cannot possibly account for these requirements, then he still has not met his burden of proof. No clarification on Scotty's part was given. In fact, Scotty seemed to drop discussion of his requirements altogether, not even attempting to prove AFM cannot account for his listed requirements.

Scotty instead stated that morality is about how people should act, not how they do or will act. I agree. In fact, I've said as much in my opening case. Then Scotty wildly jumps, without any further argumentation, to the claim that unless there is a God, morality is subjective. This is a non-sequitur. It simply doesn't follow. Unless he can provide a good argument for this, there is no reason for us to accept it, especially considering the fact that I've shown how morality can be objective without God.

6. Moral Disagreement.
Scotty seems to suggest disagreement is a problem for moral realism. He thinks if morality is objective, then we shouldn't be viewing it differently. Yet, he argues, there are plenty of murderers, rapists, and thieves in the world, so we must be viewing morality differently, we must all have our own subjective definitions of good, right?

I don't think moral disagreement is very widespread. Most people hold the same core values. It's their non-moral beliefs that lead them to different moral conclusions.[1] For example, if a tribe believed that cutting a newborn's genitals gave the newborn a healthy life and a strong spirit and granted them access to the afterlife, then the tribe will believe genital mutilation is good, because they hold the core belief that helping people is good. Most of us believe helping people is good. But we disagree on the non-moral claim that genital mutilation really helps them, so we arrive at different conclusions even though we recognize the same moral values. Moral realism also doesn't commit us to the idea that bad people (like murderers and rapists) don't exist. Just because someone doesn't obey their moral duty doesn't mean moral duty doesn't exist! If that were true, it would be just as much a problem for theism as it would be for atheism. In the case of the sociopath who doesn't see that rape or murder is wrong, they are simply morally blind. They don't disprove objective morality than a visually blind man would disprove colors! Further, moral disagreement shouldn't cast doubt on moral realism, because different cultures disagree on many things we would all agree have objective answers, like cosmology.

Scotty never contradicts the premises of my Epistemological Argument, and never gets around to showing that OM given atheism is necessarily false (impossible.) Therefore, my argument still stands, undefeated. Extend Argument.

III. Non-Reductive Ethical Naturalism

Scotty hasn't shown that my account of ontology was necessarily false. He hasn't shown that my account of duty necessarily failed to instill obligation. Because NREN still stands, we have good grounds for rejecting P1. Extend Argument.

Conclusion

Again, I'd like to remind readers: implicit in P1 of the moral argument is the contention that AFM is impossible. I've argued that AFM is possible by giving (A) an epistemological argument, and (B) an objective non-theistic moral theory. Scotty must argue that AFM is impossible. So far, he hasn't been able to do this. Because AFM is possible, as I've argued, we can reject P1.

P1 is negated and the resolution is affirmed.

[1] Michael Huemer, Ethical Intuitionism
ScottyDouglas

Con

What's the Problem?

You assume OM is not applied to if you do not believe in God. It is not a option if you do not believe in God or recognize God means you do not have OM. God has grounded morality and whether or not we accept that OM, it does exist.

Philosophers have by the multitude expressed OM since philosophy on morality began. Today we exhibit their work in our liberty and freedom. Theism has established the standard from faith in God of OM (including SM.)Subjective morality-

In its most general form, the argument from moral normativity is that:

Some aspect of Morality (e.g., its objective force) is observed. (Moral realism)

Existence of God provides a better explanation of this feature than various alternatives.

Therefore, to the extent that (1) is accepted, belief in God is preferable to these alternatives.

The arguments then propose that only the existence of God as conceived could support the existence of moral order in the world. Therefore, God must exist.

I. Epistemological Argument for Ontological Grounding

{1: If we are warranted in believing x exists, then we are warranted in believing that x has an ontological grounding in reality.}
{2: We are warranted in believing OM exists.}
{3: Therefore, we are warranted in believing OM has an ontological grounding in reality.}

I agree to my opponents display here.

P1 is upon supernatural means (metaphysical), as my opponent said 'something isn't nothing!' Theist have a idea what P1 is so my opponent is wrong. It is the atheist who do not recognize Him or they could know OM and SM more clearly. My opponent appears to be hinting that because atheists do not recognize God or have the same morals as theist that, that somehow defies P1 or P2. No one must believe in God to know we have OM. We all have a simple agreement on what is good and what is wrong. We tend to drift in between and apply SM on ourselves. Some apply SM for the reasons of religious oaths. This argument is not circular because even though atheist do not want to admit God they are still subject to OM.

II. Non-Reductive Ethical Naturalism (NREN)

Moral Values

My opponent says, "So the question is, do properties like suffering and happiness objectively exist? Of course." I agree that suffering and happiness objectively exist also. I do not understand why it can not?>

If belief that the natural is all that exists, is correct, then life must be regarded as a meaningless accident and morality cannot be understood as anything meaningful. Despite that atheist still act as if morality is meaningful, leading to a belief that morality is normative, or holds objective truth.

Moral Duties

(1) Meaning of Ought: I concur with my opponent on his description of 'ought.'

(2) Practical Oughts: I, again, agree with my opponent. You have practical oughts. Whatever we are obliged to do must be possible, and achieving the perfect good of both happiness and moral virtue is only possible if a natural moral order exists.

(3) Moral Oughts: My opponent is dodging and weaving around accepting God. My opponent can not say that 95% of people do not have similar moral values, can he? Where do these values come from?

OM is universal of course. We today see things immoral that was moral years ago. People today have built moral system's that are Subjective morality. My opponent confuses the two. I will state again that OM is grounded by God to all. Atheist can be very moral people and never recognize God. Though this does not mean that God does not exist nor OM.

I do understand my opponent wants to divide theist and atheist by applying we all have different sets moral but that is untrue. All people have the same basic moral value. That was grounded by God.

My opponent can not deny that the same basic moral values from yesterday are not present today. We can take this into many topics but people universally agree, you do not murder, nor steal, nor lie. There possibly many more. One never has to be theistic to agree on OM.

Atheist and theist are not that different morally. If a person chooses to be very moral than they will be. You do not need to be a theist to display wonderful character, charity and duty. This is very easy to see and does not conflict with OM at all. My opponent has shown a very good description of how people should act morally but it really hasn't conflicted OM.

It is not within the power of humans to bring the summum bonum about, because we cannot ensure that virtue always leads to happiness.

Conclusion

I think my opponent should show why his product does conflict with OM.

Resolved OM exist and is not in conflict with my opponents ATF. Negated. Thanks back to Pro.

References:
http://en.wikipedia.org... http://www.existence-of-god.com...
Debate Round No. 4
Philosobot

Pro

This round is for conclusions. No new arguments should be added. A summary of previous arguments and an appeal to the voter will be allowed.

Conduct
Scotty and I both maintained reasonable conduct. As long as Scotty doesn't break any rules in his last round (like adding new arguments), then conduct should be a tie.

Grammar
Scotty's posts contain numerous grammatical errors, which often muddle his intended meaning. I'll leave it up to voters to read these posts and vote accordingly. Because no such glaring and obstructive grammatical flaws appear in my posts, I should get the grammar point.

Arguments
I argued that P1 of the moral argument contains two implicit contentions:

(1) Theism can provide a foundation for morality. (Theistic morality is possible)
(2) AFM cannot provide a foundation for morality. (Non-theistic morality is impossible.)

I argued that as long as just one of these is false, then the moral argument's P1 is not true, and the moral argument is unsound. I argued that non-theistic morality is possible (that, in the absence of a good argument against it, we are justified in thinking it is possible, even without an account of its ontology.) I also gave a possible ontological foundation for non-theistic morality called Non-Reductive Ethical Naturalism. On NREN, moral values (goodness and badness) are grounded in non-moral properties (such as suffering and happiness), in a similar way that colors (red and yellow) are grounded in non-color properties (such as reflected light particles.) As for moral duty, I argued that moral obligation arises in the recognition of goodness or badness by a moral agent. Instead of arguing against these accounts, Scotty instead focused his arguments on mostly straw mans and other non-sequiturs (One recent example: Scotty: "I do understand my opponent wants to divide theist and atheist by applying we all have different sets moral but that is untrue." Straw Man: I never said this. In fact, I argued the opposite, that moral disagreement isn't very widespread. This is also a prime example of one of Scotty's more benign grammatical failures.) In addition, in each round, Scotty drops his old arguments.

In summary, I should be given the convincing arguments points because:
1.) I provided reasons for thinking God is not necessary for the existence of objective morality. This contradicts P1 of the moral argument, proving it unsound.
2.) Scotty never successfully rebuts these reasons (and mostly argues against straw men.)
3.) Scotty drops his arguments each round under the weight of my criticisms, instead opting to take a different approach to the argument.
4.) Scotty never offers a single clear argument to support that God is necessary for OM.

(Even if you disagree with my position, it's clear that Scotty didn't argue for his position very well.)

Reliable Sources
Most of my sources were philosophy papers from actual philosophers, published by peer-reviewed academic publishers. In contrast, Scotty included some very sketchy sources in his references list (for example: a creationist website; an irrelevant article about atheism as it relates to law and secularism; a mindbogglingly absurd and irrelevant ezinearticle about Aliens and Christianity, etc.) This isn't to say all of Scotty's sources were entirely unreliable. A couple were decent enough. But given that mine were, on the whole, more reliable, I think it's reasonable to expect that I am given the reliable sources point.

I also ask voters to specify their reasons for each category of point distribution. If the vote is as one sided as I think it should be, I don't want anyone to be accused of vote-bombing.
ScottyDouglas

Con

This round is for my conclusions.

Conduct
Philsobot and I both had reasonable conduct. I agree with my opponent.

Grammar
My opponent is right. I am new to typing for proper purposes so I make mistakes. He sure like to blair these mistakes which I would think is obivious to the reader. Anyways I have made grammer errors and points should go to Pro.

Arguments
My opponent argued that P1 of the moral argument contains two implicit contentions:

(1) Theism can provide a foundation for morality. (Theistic morality is possible)
(2) AFM cannot provide a foundation for morality. (Non-theistic morality is impossible.)

He argued that as long as just one of these is false, then the moral argument's P1 is not true, and the moral argument is unsound. My opponent argued this case but did not state why God does not exist nor why OM is not required if you believe in God or not.

He argued that non-theistic morality is possible without God and he is right. Though he has failed to prove OM does not exist. Nor could he deny that we all contain simliar moral convictions hence OM.

My opponent also gave us a possible ontological foundation though he did not provide how this argument made OM impossible. He gave us a great example of moral conduct and oughts. Though he never proved that OM is impossible because to do so he had to prove God does not exist- He did not. Or that OM is not grounded to all humanity- He did not.

In summary, I should be given the convincing arguments points because:
1.) I provided reasons for thinking God is necessary for the existence of OM. This supports P1 of the moral argument, proving it sound.
2.) I mostly agreed with my opponents proposal but it never proved OM does not exist.
3.) I provided the same argument each round in different ways as to show the many varibles of the OM.
4.) I showed that OM is and that you do not have to believe in God to have it.
5.) I showed that majority of people throughout time have had similar moral principles and that shows OM.

I was clear that my opponent did not disprove God nor that humanity had grounded morality.

Reliable Sources
We both had good resources even though my opponents complains they were not.

To end
My opponent became real cocky and arrogant at the end and I see conduct loss here. I tnak my opponent and thank each reader.

Vote Con.
Debate Round No. 5
15 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by dirkson 4 years ago
dirkson
@Philosobot

"I thought we would all agree they do"
I hadn't thought to consider your opponent - Of course he would be especially easy to convince that objective moral values exist, since he believes in them himself! Good call on not wasting space expanding that argument.

Your second paragraph really clarifies and solidifies your position - You would have been able to easily handle those objections if they had come up in the debate. The only other comment I can think to make is to point out that it can be devilishly tricky to work out what causes suffering for whom. But that doesn't contradict your argument, and I suspect you are already aware of that :D

(3)

A dictator whose morals allow for him to rape freely should rapidly find himself looking down the barrel of an armed and angry populace. But I can see your point through the example - Even though the dictator has minimal practical reasons for not raping one and only one individual, we would still judge this action as something he morally "ought" not do.

An interesting question might be: What reason does HE have for concluding this is something he "ought" not do?

Cheers,
-Dirk
Posted by Philosobot 4 years ago
Philosobot
@Dirk

Thanks for your thoughts.

I didn't attempt to demonstrate that suffering and happiness objectively exist because I thought we would all agree they do, given our usage of the appropriate definition of objective/subjective. By objective, I mean something like "irrespective of opinion/belief." Basically, we want to be able to say someone can be right or wrong about whether suffering exists or not; it's not illusory or simple opinion.

Lets take your example. We whip an unwilling person. Does suffering exist there: Yes or no? Notice, the answer to this question is true or false irrespective of our beliefs about whether the suffering exists or not. In this sense, suffering has objective existence. What about when we whip a willing person, like a masochist? When we whip someone who wants it, both pain and pleasure arises. But the masochist isn't suffering: They want the pain. (Note: I distinguish between pain and suffering. There are many instances of suffering existing apart from pain, and pain existing apart from suffering. My conception of "suffering" is more closely related to contradicting your deeply held desires, similar to Arthur Schopenhauer's view.) Anyways, I think this example highlights one of NREN's features: its ability to account for circumstance. Circumstance is a very relevant aspect of our moral experience. The context in which whipping happens matters, morally speaking, because whipping may or may not cause suffering, depending on the context, so it may or may not be wrong, depending on the context.

In regards to (3), I think that practical reasons usually coincide with moral reasons. But they don't always. For example, a dictator who wants to rape may be exempt from the consequences the rest of us would be subjected to if we raped. The dictator may have no practical reason not to rape. But we still think it's wrong for the dictator to rape. He still has a moral reason to refrain, even if he doesn't have a practical reason to refrain.
Posted by dirkson 4 years ago
dirkson
@Philosobot - Ok! I'll try breaking it down! Remember that weak <> wrong :)

Moral values:

"Expressivity" isn't explicitly defined here, and dictionary definitions don't help. Based on the second paragraph's context, I took it to mean "The sensory experience of X".

If you take this Expressivity/Ontology thing from the example to the problem at hand, it allows you to say that certain electrical and chemical processes objectively exist, which result in the sensory experience of suffering or happiness. I'm not sure how you got from there to "Suffering and happiness objectively exist".

I was under the impression that "subjective" was more or less the opposite of "objective". Suffering and happiness, being sensory experiences, are by definition subjective. For example, a whip strike against an unwilling victim creates suffering, but the same action (And largely similar chemical/electrical processes) against a masochist may induce pleasure. So does the action (And/or chemical/electrical processes) objectively result in suffering or pleasure?

Moral Duties:

(1) - This was awesome. I have vaguely heard of the is/ought problem from other debates, and I think you really nailed what exactly "ought" means.

(2) - This was also fine.

(3) - I struggle with the concept of moral oughts as presented, but that may be merely the quality of the explanation, rather than the ideas. Specifically, I cannot imagine any moral ought that could not be restated as a more explicit practical ought. "Morally, I ought not to lie. Therefore, I will not lie.". "Practically, the chances of negative consequences from lying are, on average, higher than the cances of negative consequences from the truth. Therefore, I will not lie."

Conclusion:

I'm not certain how my problems with (3) affects your argument as a whole, if they do at all, but I think my objections in the moral values section could be scaled up to a full, serious argument. (Although I'm not sure they'd win)

Chee
Posted by Philosobot 4 years ago
Philosobot
@dirkson

Just curious, which parts of my second argument did you consider weak? I'd like to make it stronger for future debates.
Posted by Philosobot 4 years ago
Philosobot
Thanks for the critique dirkson. I'll try to make my arguments more accessible and link to my sources in the future.
Posted by dirkson 4 years ago
dirkson
Reasons for my voting decision:

Conduct - Both sides had fine conduct.

Spelling/Grammar - Granted, Scotty had the worse grammar. However, Philosobot frequently resorted to philosophical terms not in broad use in the general public, even when alternative methods of phrasing would have avoided their use. The end result of this is that I found both sides equally tricky to read, in different ways. Thus I think "tied" fits in best with the intended spirit of the spelling and grammar section.

Arguments - I wish arguments counted for more points. Philosobot destroyed Scottys arguments repeatedly and thoroughly. I found Philosobot's first main argument to be more or less airtight, but I thought his second comparatively weak and expected to see his opponent make a decent case against it. Such was not the case. Also, Friendly Atheists :)

Sources - Philosobot did not include his sources as links, which initially tempted me to assume that he was quoting things I did not have access to. This would have forced me to score this a tie - How can I judge things I can't read? However, some quick googling revealed that basically everything was easily availabe, and looked quite solid. Links might help voting in the future, Philosobot! :) Scotty's referenced article on Christianity and Aliens was indeed an odd inclusion.

I applaud both of you for making the effort, and am thankful for having such an interesting debate to read!

Cheers,
-Dirk
Posted by dirkson 4 years ago
dirkson
Reading this now. Getting a total kick out of Scotty's Friendly Atheists ^.^ Maybe we should start a movement in his honor!

-Dirk
Posted by Philosobot 4 years ago
Philosobot
@dirkson

I'd probably look at Reasonable Faith (3rd ed.) That contains his defense of his "pet" arguments. If you cannot find it, however, you can get the gist from reading articles on his website and watching his debates.
Posted by dirkson 4 years ago
dirkson
@Philosobot

I'm crawling my way through the arguments now :) Perhaps I'll get through them and actually provide a vote at some point!

I am familiar with William Lane Craig via The Kalam Cosmological Argument and the modal Ontological Argument. (Insert disparaging swiss-cheese, colander, or sieve related comment here) I should check for his book(s?) at the local library, I keep hearing about him around here.

Cheers,
-Dirk
Posted by Philosobot 4 years ago
Philosobot
@dirkson

You're right: The thrust of my argument is that the existence of moral facts don't prove a God.

Why did I choose this version of the argument? Because this version has been popularized by William Lane Craig (a Christian apologist/theologian/debater/philosopher of religion.) And I see it a lot. That's really the only reason.

Thanks for the comments!
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by dirkson 4 years ago
dirkson
PhilosobotScottyDouglasTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.