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The Philochistos 1973 commemorative debate

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/17/2014 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 894 times Debate No: 65355
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (14)
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I just made my 1973rd forum post, and since I was born in 1973, I thought I'd initiate the Philochristos 1973 commemorative debate. Several people have expressed interest in debating me, so this is their big opportunity, assuming they see this before somebody else does.

Please read the rules carefully before accepting.


1. You pick the topic. It can be on almost any subject you want. I only ask you to be considerate. Although I am quite willing to play devil's advocate if I need to, I request that you not have me defend any resolution such as, "Philochristos' mother was a prostitute" or anything that requires me to insult another person (especially if I care about them), including God, or to betray a confidence, or to engage in gossip. Just be reasonable. I also request that you not make any paradoxical resolutions such as, "Everything Pro says is a lie" or "Pro will win this debate," or anything like that.

2. State the resolution clearly in the first round. It must take the form of a coherent sentence, and not just a word or phrase.

3. If there is any ambiguity at all in the resolution, define your terms and explain the meaning of the resolution as clearly as you can in the first round. Any undefined terms will be open for debate.

3. Since you are going to be Con, you must state the resolution in such a way that you are against it. I will be for it.

4. The burden of proof will be shared. That means I must make the case that the resolution is true, and you must make the case that the resolution is false. It is not enough for either of us to simply refute the other person's arguments.

5. It is your choice whether to post your opening statement in the first round or wait until the second round, in which case I'd be posting my opening first.

6. If you post your opening first, you must post, "This space intentionally left blank" in the last round, and nothing more.

7. You must agree not to solicit votes through private messages or through other means (telephone, facebook, google hangouts, etc.). If there are only 48 hours of voting left, and nobody has voted, you may post a link in the "Post unvoted debates here" thread.

No other voting solicitation is allowed. You'll be on your honor.

8. No embedded images/graphics are allowed. All debating must be done with text.

9. All footnotes/endnotes must be placed in the body of your posts.

10. There is a 6000 word limit, and 72 hour limit between posts, and a 10 day voting period.

Whoever you are, this is a great opportunity for you to seize an easy win. All you have to do is pick a topic you know a lot about that I don't. And that shouldn't be too hard to do.

Good luck!


I am one of those who have wanted to debate Philocristos for a while, so I took this debate as soon as I saw it. I'm glad for this oppurtunity.

Resolution: moral realism is sound

In order to get the definition I find most suited, I will simply define moral realism as the antithesis of moral anti-realism. "Moral anti-realism is the denial of the thesis that moral properties—or facts, objects, relations, events, etc. (whatever categories one is willing to countenance)—exist mind-independently. This could involve either (1) the denial that moral properties exist at all, or (2) the acceptance that they do exist but that existence is (in the relevant sense) mind-dependent."

Good luck!
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for coming to tonight's debate. We are commemorating the birth of Philochristos, and a worthy opponent has stepped up to help us commemorate.

Debates on morality tend to be mired in ambiguity, and communication frequently breaks down over the meaning of words. After all, the usual words we're familiar with (e.g. objective, subjective, ought, good, bad, etc.) are all equivocal, and if we are not careful, we can easily misunderstand each other. In spite of the best efforts of those who debate these issues to be as clear as they possibly can, misunderstandings (and often hurt feelings) seem to be inevitable. I preface my remarks with this warning so that the reader will be encouraged to thoughtfully consider our arguments and how we are using our words so as to have the best hope of understanding what each of us is saying.

After all, even definitions can contain ambiguities, but we cannot possibly define every word and phrase we use or else there'll be no room for debate.

I want to begin by clarifying what is meant by "mind-dependent" and "mind-independent" in the context of morality. After all, there is a sense in which I could agree that morality is mind-dependent. I believe that morality is mind-dependent in the sense that morals are the product of a mind, namely the mind of the God of Abraham. And many things which we ordinarily consider to be mind-independent can be said to be mind-dependent in this sense.

Take automobiles, for example. Automobiles are mind-dependent in the sense that some engineer had to use his/her mind to design it. However, they are mind-independent in another sense.

Automobiles are mind-independent in the sense that they do not merely exist in the mind. They also exist in the external world, and if everybody suddenly ceased to exist, those cars would still be there.

Contrast that with anger. Anger exists purely in the mind, and if there were no minds around, there could be no anger.

Yet even anger can be said to be mind-independent in some sense. If you are angry, then your anger depends on your mind, but your anger is nevertheless real. From my point of view, your anger is mind-independent in the sense that it exists independently of my mind. I can rightly say that your anger is a real and objectively existing feature of the external world, i.e. the world external to me.

So, what do we mean when we say that morals are mind-independent (in my case) or mind-dependent (in phantom's case)?

Well, I guess the best analogy to explain my view might be a grade school classroom. When I was in elementary school, each year on the first day of class, the teacher would go over the classroom rules of conduct which often included the punishment for violating the rules. [1] These rules were products of the teacher's mind, so they were mind-dependent in that sense. However, they did not merely come down to the imagination of each of the students. They were real objective rules the students had to follow or else face punishment. These rules were imposed on the students whether the students liked them or not, whether the students were concerned with them or not, and whether the students believed them or not. So they were mind-independent as far as the students were concerned.

I think moral imperatives are the same way. They originate from the mind of God, but they are imposed on us. Moral imperatives exist independently of the individual human mind, and they are incumbent upon us whether we acknowledge them or not.

Morality includes more than imperatives, though. It also includes values, virtues, vices, and rights. But because space is limited, I am going to limit my arguments to moral imperatives.

In grade school, we all learned the four different kinds of statements--declarative, interrogatory, exclamatory, and imperative. Imperatives are statements of command, e.g. "Do not pass go." Commands always involve at least two minds--the one issuing the command, and the one being commanded.

We have various sources of imperatives in our world, and there are hierarchies among them. The authority of the store owner is higher than the authority of the manager, and the authority of the Admiral is higher than the authority of the Captain. The commands of lower authorities can sometimes be trumped by the commands of higher authorities. In America, for example, the Constitution trumps state law.

Morality is what people frequently appeal to in order to trump the highest authorities instituted among men. Morality is the law above the civil law by which the civil law can be judged, assuming the moral law exists.

After all that explaining, I finally come to my argument. The argument is that we have two independently converging lines of evidence for the existence of real moral imperatives.

The first line of evidence is that morality was revealed to us by God through Jesus Christ. Jesus taught, for example, that we should love our neighbor and that we should not commit adultery. Jesus claimed to be a prophet, sent by God. Jesus is a credible authority because he did what no mere moral can do--he rose from the dead. We can take it on Jesus' authority that God imposed moral obligations on us.

The second line of evidence is the obvious nature of morality. Moral knowledge is built into us, which is what we would expect if God created us and required good behavior. The capacity for moral reasoning emerges at an early age. Young children instinctively know how to justify their actions by making excuses. As we gain experience, and our brains develop, this awareness becomes more expansive and refined. All people have moral awareness, but it isn't until people become philosophers that they begin to deny the obvious. But even those who deny morality perceive it just as plainly as everybody else does. Belief in morality only requires that one affirm the obvious rather than deny it.

That is all for now.




I thank Pro for his case and helpful elucidations.

As indicated, I will be arguing that morality is mind-dependent and would not exist absent the presence of moral creatures. Morality is not just dependent on minds, it"s dependent on certain kinds of minds. Humans are moral agents; we've constructed morality, live by it, and feel it deeply within us. But it"s easy to imagine an alternate human race which evolved past morality or never evolved it at all. The lives of such agents would be entirely absent of moral norms. Their legal codes would be constructed entirely for pragmatic purposes. If we were to somehow meet them, it would be impossible to have a moral discussion, or convey to them exactly what morality is. Our morality would be impossible to translate to non-moral creatures, no matter their intelligence, because morality is not an objective field. It would be like discussing the greatness of Bach to beings who had no enjoyment or concept of music.

Morality is related to desires and humans have many generally shared desires. We hate to see suffering. We hate to see manipulation. We hate to see egoistic power mongers rising at the expense of others. We hate being deceived. We hate people who have no empathy for others. We all desire a world free from people who commit these acts. Our morality mirror our desires. By necessity, humans have desires, goals, and interests. We could not have evolved otherwise. Among the highest of these interests is our own well-being and the well-being of those we care about. Both were integral to evolution. Protecting one"s well-being lets him pass on his genes. Kin-altruism similarly helps to pass on one"s genes since kin members share much of the same genes. Moreover, interest for one"s group at large--though less powerful than self-interest and kin-altruism--leads to survival advantages for that group and the general survival and propagation of that species. This does not explain morality in full. For example, religion played a key role in the enforcement of moral intuition throughout evolution. It seems requisite that humans were once quite primitive in their moral intuitions. Religion was and is used to validate laws by linking them to the will of the gods/God. Moreover, promises of divine punishment and rewards further solidified morals within humans. There is no doubt that religion held huge sway over humans in the past and still does to many today. Fear and hope not only made people obey laws, it made them emotionally invested in them. The emotional aspect to the religious drive to live morally helped to give humans the moral intuition and conscience they have they today.

After discerning the connection between morality and desire we can ponder whether things can be desirable in and of themselves, which seems requisite to moral realism. This presents problems since desires are subjective. Moreover, it is conceivable for humans to have as strong desires as they do now but without the coexisting moral feelings. Though morality is connected to desires, desires are not in themselves morally related. Morality is merely a byproduct of human desires.

By the realist view, the statement "Stalin was evil" expresses that Stalin possesses the objective property of evilness. The anti-realist, non-nihilist view posits that the statement expresses a dislike for Stalin, the attitude of which matches up with the general institutionally formed notions of morality. The statement "Stalin was evil" is true only in so far that it connects with the socially constructed notions of morality that humans have formed. An ethical statement expresses approval or disapproval by the sentient agent. An ethical fact at best means that an ethical statement conforms to more universally agreed upon moral views, or that it is most consistent with other "institutional facts"--to borrow Searle"s vocabulary. I.e., someone might argue rationally that x is more moral than y even if y is the status quo. Humans do not have a full understanding of their desires and interests and it"s possible for other moral judgments to fit more consistently with their more foundational viewpoints after rational analysis. So morality is not just a popular majority game.

To return to the moral judgement of Stalin"s evilness, objective facts are the basis of the claim but do not themselves lead to the normative judgement. In other words, Stalin"s actions form the basis of the moral judgment of him. However, the empirical claim, "Stalin willingly caused the deaths of millions" has trouble connecting with the normative claim "Stalin"s actions were evil". Consider the question: who was more evil, Stalin or Hitler? Again, death tolls and other such facts will form most of the content of the debate, while the negative value of death is presupposed. Nothing prescriptive can be derived from descriptive claims. Descriptive statements can only ever combine with normative claims in order to derive a normative conclusion. I"d argue this is a direct threat to all moral realist theories. In particular for Pro, since God is supposed to give rise to morality, his commands, or mental state, would be non-normative (otherwise moral facts would exist prior to what is supposed to create them). Thus, Pro is presented with the difficulty of assuming that non-normative states give rise to normative values, obligations, goals etc.

This problem applies to all moral realist theories since all realists must provide an account of why objective moral facts exist. Unless they are simply brute facts--which would be nonsensical since meaning is directly tied into objective morality and brute facts "simply exist"--moral facts have an origin. Barring infinite regress--which would also imply meaninglessness and meets epistemic problems--the origin must always be non-normative. Therefore, the requirements of moral realism cannot surpass the is/ought problem.

Arguments drawn in part from Searle, Hume, Moore, and Nietzsche.
Debate Round No. 2


Thank you, Phantom, for the opening, and for delaying your post so I could have time to respond.

Con said a few things that I'm not sure how they fit into his whole case, but this is what I take his main argument to be:

1. Morality is based on desire.
2. Desire is entirely subjective.
3. Therefore, morality is entirely subjective.

"Based on" is left ambiguous in my representation of Con's argument because in one place, he says that morality is a byproduct of desire and that desires could exist without morality, but then in the next paragraph, he writes as if morality and desire are the same thing, saying that the statement, "Stalin is evil," is merely an expression of dislike for Stalin. I suspect, based on the clear things Con said, that it was not his intention to equate morality with desire and that it only seemed that way because of the clumsy way he explained himself. But to avoid being accused of making a strawman argument, I represented his first premise with "based on."

To support his first premise, Pro attempted to show a correlation between desire and moral sentiment by giving examples. I grant that generally speaking, there is a correlation between many things we desire and many things we judge to be moral or immoral. We frequently do wish that people would behave in a way that we consider moral because we think the world would be better off if they did. But this correlation is not enough to show that our moral sentiments are based purely on desire. It doesn't follow from the fact that we prefer people act morally that therefore our judgment that it is moral is based on the fact that we desire it.

Moreover, we can show that often our desires and moral sense do not correspond. This is especially the case when we are the ones engaging in the immoral act. People who lie, cheat, steal, or kill, do so to fulfill their desires, but they know they are doing wrong. And criminals desire to be acquitted, freed from prison, and not be punished even though they think the police, judge, jury, etc., are behaving morally by punishing the criminal, keeping the criminal locked up, and preventing the criminal from committing further crimes. A husband caught cheating doesn't want his wife to divorce him, but doesn't blame her one bit for doing so.

Con makes what I think are a couple of sub-arguments, but I'm not sure I understand what he's saying. The first argument goes like this:

1. If morality were mind-independent, then it would be possible to have a moral discussion with non-moral agents and have them understand what was being said.
2. It is not possible for a non-moral agent to grasp the concept of morality.
3. Therefore, morality is not mind-independent.

I dispute the first premise. To use an analogy, it may not be possible to discuss colour with a person who was born blind, but that doesn't mean colour isn't mind-independent. If there are some concepts that some people just can't grasp because they lack the mental faculty, it in no way follows that those concepts don't correspond to something real.

I see no reason to think the second premise is true either. Even if a person does not have any moral awareness, surely they can still understand words like "imperative," "command," "duty," "incumbency," "obligation," etc. As I showed in the last round, there is a strong analogy between civil law and moral law. If said culture can understand civil law, then they ought to be able to understand moral law.

Con also appears to be arguing that because moral knowledge came by way of evolution, that morality is therefore not mind-independent. This argument fails for two reasons. First, because it commits the genetic fallacy, which is the fallacy of reasoning that a belief is false because it was arrived at by unreliable means.[1]

Second, the argument is self-refuting. Arguably, all of our belief-producing cognitive faculties were the product of evolution. If evolution was an unreliable means of acquiring accurate knowledge or reliable belief-producing cognitive faculties, then we could not rely upon any of the deliverances of reason, and that would undermine not only Con's argument from evolution, but every other argument Con makes.

But if evolution tends to produce reliable beliefs or reliable belief-producing cognitive faculties, and if evolution produced a species that perceives a realm of morality that at least seems real, then that is good reason to think there is a realm of real morals. So if anything, evolution supports moral realism.

Finally, Pro argues that any theory of moral realism falls victim to the is/ought problem because no moral conclusion follows from any non-moral premises. But that is false, which can be shown with an analogy.

1. It is the case that Arthur is the king.
2. It is the case that Arthur signed a law requiring young men to practice the longbow every Sunday.
3. Therefore, it is illegal for young men to neglect practicing the longbow every Sunday.

Just as the illegality of not practicing the longbow every Sunday follows from two non-legal premises, so also a morally significant conclusion can follow from two non-moral premises.

1. It is the case that God is the sovereign and supreme ruler of the universe.
2. It is the case that God forbids adultery.
3. Therefore, it is wrong to commit adultery.

Con appears to be making the same mistake a lot of people make when it comes to the is/ought fallacy. The fallacy isn't simply in deriving an ought from an is; rather, the fallacy is in reasoning that because something IS the case that it therefore OUGHT TO BE the case. It would be a fallacy to reason that because Tom IS out fishing that therefore Tom OUGHT TO BE out fishing. But it is not a fallacy to reason that Tom ought to be out fishing because God requires Tom to feed his family and fishing is the only means Tom knows of to do so.




Thanks again to Pro for his arguments and rebuttal.

Morality as a byproduct of desires was a simplification. To recap, I mentioned goals, interests (both related to desires), kin altruism, group altruism (as pertaining to evolution), laws, and religion. Desires, goals, and interests propel evolution and also create what we call “values”. Kin altruism and group altruism are both conducive to survival. Thus, caring for others helped to propel evolution. Laws in part reflect morality which itself helped to ingrain moral sentiments and to universalize them. Religion has played a huge role in enforcing moral laws throughout history and provides divine authority to make people obey them, fear not obeying them, and see rewards in living by them. Thus, religion enforced moral feelings within humans and helped to validate and universalize them. This explanation is obviously simplified, but provides a coherent summary.

Since this debate has a shared BoP, it is also important to compare my account of morality with Pro’s. Pro invokes God, which I argue is an unnecessary postulate and encounters its own difficulties. My explanation, while perhaps not complete, fits coherently with the scientific picture of the world that humanity has thus far garnered. It’s consistent with our rational view of the world and therefore logically preferable. Pro himself states, “Arguably, all of our belief-producing cognitive faculties were the product of evolution”. If our cognitive faculties are produced via evolution, then an evolutionary perspective of morality gains further rational preferability.

By “preferable” I mean that a rational analysis would hope to find an explanation that fits into the evolutionary perspective, and that the evolutionary framework is to be the starting point.

Pro argues that I’ve fallaciously mistaken a correlative observation for a causal explanation, i.e. that I haven’t shown morality is based on desires. I feel this leaves out the majority of my argument. I started out making the correlation between desires and morality; then I set out to provide a causal explanation for morality that starts with desires. Some semblance of what we’d today call morality began during evolution due to social or institutionalized desires; when creatures began imposing collective desires, not as a legal code, but corresponding to more innate, intuitive ideas of right and wrongness that were shared collectively.

Pro assumes I’m connecting all desires--even individual--with morality, even though I’ve been referring to social, collective, or institutionalized desires. A thief, while acting by his own desires, is going against collective desires, which is what I correlate more with morality. That being said, I would not go so far as saying that every distinct moral sentiment directly corresponds to a set of desires, since morality is much about feelings e.g. conscience and much has been inherited and assumed prima facie.

I’m not sure how I’m committing the genetic fallacy. My entire account of morality assumes morality is part of non-objective features. The debate is not about whether statements such as “stealing is wrong” are correct, rather about what they mean. The realist position is that the statement applies an objective property “wrongness” to the act of stealing. The argument I’ve made is that it represents an institutionalized moral norm, not that the statement is false. This debate is about the content of such moral claims, not their validity. My argument leads to the conclusion that moral claims do not impose objective properties. I’m arguing that morals are mind-dependent, not that we should dispense with them. Morals are a function of evolution and a byproduct mainly of desires, similarly to taste in food.

Pro’s second objection is even more untenable. First, he continually misrepresents my argument by assuming my claim is that evolution is an unreliable means of acquiring knowledge (as shown above, I do not state that). Second, it assumes we can’t delineate moral beliefs from logical ones in the same way that we can distinguish the subjectivity of music and taste in food, from objective facts. The statement “Miles Davis was a great musician” can be revealed subjective by an appeal to evolution but that does not endanger mathematical statements like 5+5=10. That would be absurd.

No normative conclusion can be derived from descriptive claims. Pro has made an argument that attempts to derive norms from an entirely descriptive framework. Simply stating the argument does not escape the fallacy. A convincing moral claim would be: it is permissible to kill in self-defence. Preemptive war is a comparable form of self-defence. Therefore, preemptive war is permissible. The argument stays within the confines of morality in order to make a moral claim. Reaching entirely out of the moral framework is erroneous.

Pro’s argument:

1. It is the case that God is the sovereign and supreme ruler of the universe.
2. It is the case that God forbids adultery.
3. Therefore, it is wrong to commit adultery.

The conclusion does not follow from the premises. IF we presume that God is the supreme ruler and that he forbids adultery, this implies only that committing adultery defies God’s will. The premises do not dictate any other property of adultery. Invoking the concept of morality is a fallacious jump. No syllogism can be formed where a normative conclusion follows logically from descriptive premises.

But the deepest flaw in Pro’s case is that it rests on the existence of God. God can’t be simply presumed. Invoking the supernatural requires additional proof, which is why naturalistic claims are preferable. The only evidence he’s given is that Jesus reveals it to us. But simply saying that we should love our neighbors as ourselves does not imply Jesus was making an objective claim. The claim that Jesus rose from the dead is further undefended, but would not strictly matter anyway.

Debate Round No. 3


Con has accused me of "misrepresenting" him (wouldn't "misunderstanding" be more charitable?), and it appears that he has misunderstood me as well. I wonder what the chances are of any voter understanding us both.

Con claims that this debate is over what moral statements mean. His position apparently is that statements like, "Stalin is evil" mean "I don't like Stalin" and that statements like "Rape is wrong" mean "I don't like rape." But that is obviously not what we mean when we say somebody is evil or that such and such action is wrong. A person can like rape and still think it's wrong.

To say that an action is wrong is to say that people ought not do that action, that people have an obligation to refrain from doing that action, etc. The topic of this debate is whether statements like that refer to a real moral law that people are actually obligated to obey or whether the supposed moral law only exists in our heads. If Con just wants to change the meaning of what "morality" refers to, then he's not even talking about the same thing. A desire is not the same thing as a moral imperative. Neither are feelings the same things are moral imperatives, and moral imperatives are not desire or feelings.

The best Con can do is argue that we have moral beliefs that are CAUSED by our desires, feelings, or pragmatic needs, but to claim that our moral beliefs and statemetns are the same things as our desires, feelings, and pragmatic needs is obviously false because these words don't even carry the same meaning. When we say that somebody has violated some rule of decency, we don't mean simply that we don't like their action, that it makes us feel bad, or that it has a negative benefit to society. We mean that it's wrong, they ought not to have done it, and that they have violated some rule.

Con hasn't even given us any evidence that moral beliefs stem from desires, feelings, or pragmatic needs. He has simply presented us with a scenario--a story. His "argument" is merely a string of assertions.

Remember that Con's position is non-realism. That is, statements about morality don't correspond to anything real in the world but are only the lens through which we see the world. By characterizing his view as "non-realism," he is implicitly agreeing with what I am saying. While we can all agree that desires, motives, feelings, goals, etc., are things that strictly go on in the head, morals are things that, if they existed in the real world, would apply to us whether we had these desires, motives, feelings, goals, etc., or not. That's what it means for them to be "mind-independent." By calling his view "non-realism," Con is implicitly agreeing that our moral language refers to something outside of us, whether it is actually there or not.

I simply affirm the obvious, and he denies the obvious. The reason he denies the obvious is because he can cook up a scenario in which the belief emerged in our heads without the corresponding reality outside of our heads. Since there is an imagined evolutionary scenario in which it's possible to get the beliefs without the reality, he thinks it's more parsimonious to just deny the reality.

That is why I objected to his argument on the basis that it commits the genetic fallacy. He is essentially arguing that because our beliefs about morality emerged through a process of evolution that therefore the beliefs and perceptions do not correspond to anything real. In fact, our belief in a mind-independent realm of right and wrong is false.

The mind-independent nature of morality is implicit in the very meaning of morality. Recall that I explained how the moral law is the law above the civil law. Morality is universally recognized in all times and in all places to be the standard by which all other rules, laws, and imperatives can be judged. It's what people appeal to when their governments are oppressive or when higher authorities abuse their power, etc. It's the law above all laws that cannot be trumped.

So the very meaning of morality entails that it is mind-independent. By taking the non-reality position, Con is implicitly agreeing that this is what morality means. So what Con can argue is that our moral beliefs and perceptions do not correspond to anything real, but he cannot argue that morals mean something completely different. If he attributes some other meaning to morality (e.g. feelings, desires, goals, etc.), then he is no longer talking about morality at all. At best, he's only talking about or beliefs or perceptions ABOUT morality.

If Con is correct in his unproven story that our moral beliefs were arrived at through a process of evolution, it would not follow that our beliefs about morality only exist in our head and do not correspond to any mind-independent reality. That is the genetic fallacy. If, as I said earlier, evolution tends to produce accurate beliefs (like our belief in the external world or our belief in the uniformity of nature), and if evolution produced a belief in real morals, then if it's true that our moral beliefs are the result of evolution, that is good reason to affirm moral realism, not to deny it. Denying moral realism undermines the reliability of the mechanism by which we came to percieve if, and if that mechanism is evolution, then that throws all of our beliefs into question, which is why Con's view is self-refuting.

Con claims invoking God creates problems, but doesn't tell us what those problems are. If God is the supreme sovereign ruler of the universe, and if he imposes obligations on us, then it certainly does follows that there are real moral imperatives because that's what moral imperatives are--the law above all laws.

The evidence that Jesus rose from the dead is that his movement, which was messianic, survived his death. No Jew would continue thinking Jesus was the messiah after being killed by the Romans unless they had really good reason to think he was still alive, and all of Jews.


I’m generally liable to be sympathetic towards misunderstandings in debates like these--and I’m sure I’ve made my own--but unfortunately Pro has made some pretty incredible statements this last round that simply cannot be put down to inevitable misunderstandings

Pro claims, that my position is “that statements like, ‘Stalin is evil’ mean ‘I don't like Stalin’ and that statements like "Rape is wrong" mean ‘I don't like rape.’” This is a pretty astounding claim that prompts me to accuse Pro wholeheartedly of either dishonest or extremely careless misrepresentation. The reason is because Pro knows full well, or used to, that that is not what I was saying. Let me quote his third round statment: “I suspect, based on the clear things Con said, that it was not his intention to equate morality with desire and that it only seemed that way…” Last round I even clarified my position, saying “I would not go so far as saying that every distinct moral sentiment directly corresponds to a set of desires...” Apparently, Pro understood my argument when I first made it based on “clear things Con said”, but now he’s suddenly confused by it even though my last round made it abundantly clear what I meant. This entire section of his rebuttal can be disregarded since it rests on a distortion.

My very first statement that Pro take for me equating morality with desires states that desires matched up with "general institutionally formed notions of morality." The rest of my argument should have made clear I’m not equating morals with desires; I’m describing a relationship between the two, and that desires [interests and goals] are the primary first cause of moral feelings and closely relate to them today.

Con accuses me of making a string of unfounded assertions in my account of morality. While I dispute this, Pro’s argument has hardly challenged me to do otherwise since his assertions are much more requiring of evidence and much more lacking of it. In the severely limited space that this debate permits, my aim is to provide an account of morality that is harmonious to the scientifically grounded description of the world. A scientific worldview must accept evolution as the explanation--or at the minimal least, the tool--for the characteristics of the human race (or most of them if compelling evidence provides an exception). Furthermore, naturalistic explanations are desired unless shown to be inadequate. There is nothing contradictory between science and the supernatural, but naturalism very much underlies scientific methodology, and only compelling evidence removes this principle. As reminder, Pro does accept evolution so there is no dispute over the theory being true, and thus, that the human race is at least largely here because of evolution. Saying that the moral element of humans is here because of divine authority departs from the scientific framework, and thus requires substantial support.

Corresponding to the scientific facts is a prerequisite for a convincing descriptive account of any feature about the world. In this case, both Pro and I are providing descriptive explanations of morality. Pro says that objective morality arose with God. My claim is that both God and morality being objective are unnecessary postulates in explaining morality. Instead, moral feelings and beliefs began in some form during the course of evolution out of the collectivization of desires, goals, and interests, gained strength due to the survival advantages of kin and group altruism, religion, and law. Pro says that our strong moral intuition is indicative that objective morality is a basic fact of the world to be taken prima facie. I argue that objective morality is not at all obvious when considering it’s origins, and that evolution can explain the strong intuition we feel since every force mentioned above can generate intense emotions and because religion and government are institutions which strongly enforce universal morals and provide authority to them. This is a fully plausible explanation that fits within the scientific framework, without contesting whatsoever, any known facts.

I'm quite confused at how anti-realism supports Pro's view, which is realism. He defines non-realism as believing moral claims don't correspond to objective facts of the world then says that calling my view "non-realism" implies I'm agreeing moral language refers to something outside. By non-realism, moral properties--evil, good, immoral--do not correspond to anything about the outside real but are subjective constructs, so I can’t fit my head around Pro’s argument

I have literally argued that morals are socially constructed institutionalized norms that arose out of desires, goals, and interests and that nothing further than this account is rationally justified or necessary. This is so strongly subjective that

Pro cannot distinguish the God imperative from the legal edict. If God issues commands on us they can only be valid contractualy, like laws in government. Saying that God imposes moral obligations on us circular. God imposing commands is supposed to be how morality arises, so the fitting statement would be that God’s will create moral obligations.

Pro’s argument for Jesus rising from the dead is unconvincing. It is a common human tendency that has constantly manifested itself throughout history to follow religious and mystical leaders regardless of their validity and it wasn’t Jesus but his followers who made Christianity popular. Christianity was not even prominent until a while latter. If Jesus genuinely rose from the dead, we would have seen a massive explosion at that time, not after. You simply cannot attribute the sustaining of Christianity to Jesus rising from the dead.

Unfortunately I’m writing this on the back of an all-nighter and writing two essays and have to cut my case slightly short, but I said most of what I wanted to say and feel confident that I have provided ample evidence for my case.

Thanks to Pro and all the voters!
Debate Round No. 4
14 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Solus_Christus 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this one. Thanks guys!
Posted by phantom 1 year ago
Thanks. You too, I just wish we had more character space.
Posted by philochristos 1 year ago
No, go for it. And thanks for the debate.
Posted by phantom 1 year ago
Does rule number 7 prohibit me from advertising this debate in my sig?
Posted by philochristos 1 year ago
Phantom was in the right place at the right time. :-) Yeah, I'll have to remember my daughter's commemoration when I get to 1998 posts.
Posted by phantom 1 year ago
Uchiha, because I snatched it up 3 minutes after it was posted.
Posted by UchihaMadara 1 year ago

can you also make a commemorative debate for your daughter's birth year, Philo? :D
Posted by phantom 1 year ago
@Phil, sure, no problem.

@CorieMike, thanks!
Posted by philochristos 1 year ago
Phantom, I'm going to be busy with my daughter until Sunday. Any way you could delay posting your next round until near the end of your time? Sorry. If I had been thinking, I would've delayed posting mine a couple of days.
Posted by CorieMike 1 year ago
Good luck you guys! I enjoy reading both of your debates
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