The Instigator
Pro (for)
7 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
14 Points

The Rich Have a Moral Obligation to Donate to the Poor - *Fall Tier Tournament - Round 1*

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Voting Style: Open with Elo Restrictions Point System: Select Winner
Started: 9/19/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,388 times Debate No: 61949
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (64)
Votes (3)




The topic is pretty clear.

Pro will argue that there is a moral obligation on the rich to donate to the poor.

Con will argue that there is not a moral obligation on the rich to donate to the poor.

Pro and Con have agreed on a shared burden of proof for this debate.


4 Rounds
72 hrs per round
10,000 Characters per round

Open Select Winner Voting - min ELO 2500

Standard debate rules apply.

Con may choose to seize the initiative and begin arguments in the first round and pass in the final round, or may simply accept the challenge in the first round and have final say.


I accept.
Debate Round No. 1


My thanks to bsh1 for setting up this tournament, and to Wylted in anticipation of an engaging debate. I would also like to extend a special thanks to Raisor for joining the tourney at the last moment resulting in me debating Wylted in the first round.


The topic being debated is whether "The Rich Have a Moral Obligation to Donate to the Poor." There are several aspects to this question.

What does it mean to donate? It means to give or to be charitable and to show compassion.

The second part is what is a moral obligation? I contend that we are morally obligated to do that which is keeping with our nature. That which is in keeping with our nature will ultimately provide the best outcome for our species and thus forms a natural law which governs our species. Thus fundamentally speaking that which is moral is a true expression of the nature of ourselves.

1. Compassion

The fundamental building block of humanity is the family. [1][2] And this fundamental unit illustrates compassion at play. All work as they are able at the various stages of life and all require aid at various stages of life.

Prior to modern Western culture it was typical (and still is in most parts of the world) for a family to be multi-generational. Parents and grand-parents working together to raise and provide for the next generation and that generation taking care of the older generations as they become less capable. The weak and handicapped are provided for by the strong and able. This is both a moral obligation and an act of love through compassion completed by every generation.

This concept of care and devotion between all members breaks down as people become further removed from familial settings. As such, people tend to have less empathy for a stranger than they do for a friend or family member.


A civilization always has members that either through circumstance or deeds becomes a non-productive member of society and needs to rely on the generosity of strangers for survival. These people were forced to become beggars for their survival.

The Greek and Roman philosophy were generally unkind with respect to selfless giving:

"a poor man who was no longer able to work because of sickness should be left to die." Plato Republic 3.406d-410a

"you do a beggar bad service by giving him food and drink; you lose what you give and prolong his life for misery." Plautus Trinummus 2.338-2.339

Yet beggars did exist in these societies and survived on the generosity of others. While some people gave out of empathy for those begging, for many it was an act of trying to appease the gods as the receiver would often invoke the gods to bless the giver. [3]

Our modern concept of societal charity begins with the Jews.

In the Jewish society the patriarch of the family was the head of the family, his extended family and his workers. He was responsible for all of their well being. Likewise the Jewish God was protector of the entire Jewish nation and he has a special care and love for those who were the lowest members in society:

Sing ye to God...who is the father of orphans, and the judge of widows. - Psalm 68:4-5

The Jews referred to themselves in a familial sense in that they were all sons of Abraham. This enabled them to have empathy and pity on the less fortunate in society as they were extended family. The Jewish laws reflected this concept and enforced mandatory aid from the haves to the have-naughts:

"'When you reap the harvest of your land, moreover, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field nor gather the gleaning of your harvest; you are to leave them for the needy and the alien." Leviticus 23:22

As you can see there was a necessity to permit the poor and even the foreigners to have sufficient to live off of. However, for the most part, Jewish charity was limited to Jews and had little impact on the non-Jewish nations around them. This was a result of the Jewish "familial sense" being limited to only those who were children of Abraham.

The modern concept of charity is tied to the Christian concept of all people being equal in nature and the concept of agape. The Christian concept of equality of all people realized that there is an inherent dignity to all people and this dignity is required to be defended.

Agape is a selfless descending love that desired the good of the other for the other. This was in contrast to Eros which was an ascending selfish love of the Greeks.

This new concept of love led the early Christians to be agents of mercy in the world and resulting in taking care of widows and further brought about the end of such practices as infanticide. It was common for Romans to leave undesired newborns by the river to be swept away or eaten by wild animals (it is even enshrined in their tale of Romus and Remus). The Christians would go and collect these children and raise them as their own.

This new form of Christian charity (agape) extended to the government when Constantine came to power. "He also acknowledged the new ideal of charity. Previous emperors had encouraged schemes to support small numbers of children in less favored families, the future recruits for their armies. Constantine gave funds to the churches to support the poor, the widow and orphans...Swollen by the Emperor's gifts, it helped the old, the infirm, and the destitute." [4] Ultimately, this is an additional form of enforced charity upon the wealthy as this is where the government receives a significant portion of its tax revenue.

This Christian charity expanded through the middle ages and on into the modern era giving us the world we have today.

2. Natural Law

As previously described, the family is the fundamental building block of society. I believe that history clearly demonstrates that those cultures which have expanded this concept of family beyond strict blood relations become stronger and have improved results for all within the society.

If we look at the Jews, this is a nation that has been conquered and displaced and even ceased to be a nation from 70 to 1948. And yet their greater sense of family and charity for one another permitted them to survive in foreign lands as a social and cultural entity for an extended period of time.

Additionally, it was in Christian lands that all that we take for granted came to be. We have developed an understanding that everyone is equal before the law. [5] This concept is fundamental to our democratic systems, our legal systems, and our financial institutions.

A democracy cannot truly exist if the concept of equality of people does not exist. The concept of one person one vote is dependent on adherence to this principle of equality.

Fundamental to our legal system is the principle that everyone receives equal justice regardless of wealth or lack thereof.

The above assurance of equality before the law enables a robust free market system. People can be assured that they will succeed or fail based on the merits of their endeavor.

Now while I freely admit that our application of the above principles is never perfect, this is the ideal, the natural law and moral precept, which enables the greatest social, economic and technical advancements. All of this is predicated upon the inherent dignity of all people. Because without the inherent dignity of all people the concept of equality fails.

However, if there is inherent dignity, it is the obligation of all people to uphold that dignity. Thus all people are obliged to aid others to maintain this basic dignity. The wealthy, being in a place of privilege, have a greater ability and thus responsibility to show mercy and maintain the dignity of people.


I have demonstrated that the world that we live in today has been forged by the concept of human dignity resulting from the realization that we are all one family. A family only survives upon agape, love of other for the sake of the other, and that the members of the family enter in and out of stages of giving and receiving charity from others.

That which is moral is that which is in keeping with our true nature. And rationally speaking, that which is in keeping with our nature is that which will lead to the best result for humanity as a whole. That society which most closely follows the true nature, or natural law, of man will inevitably lead to the best results for mankind. The western Christian society progressed further and faster than other civilizations because they adhered to this natural law more closely than other civilizations.

A central ideal of Western Christian societies was the concept of agape or the perfect self-giving love of God which gives each person an equal fundamental dignity. It is up to every member of society to uphold this dignity, both poor, and rich. However, given the greater ability of the rich to provide greater aid, there is a particular obligation of mercy upon them that cannot be accomplished by the poor.

Thus, for the good of human race, there is a moral obligation on the rich to donate to the poor.

I now invite Wylted to present his opening arguments.




Morality Debate


I would like to also thank my opponent for participating in this debate and thank BSH1 for hosting this tournament.

My opponent starts out by making a few assumptions that I'll agree with for the sake of simplifying both of our arguments and moving the debate along easier.

Just a note, so that I give credit where it is do. My arguments are almost entirely derived from Ayn Rand's ethical theories and are almost entirely from memory.

I'll quote from Geogeer here and use this assumption.

"The second part is what is a moral obligation? I contend that we are morally obligated to do that which is keeping with our nature. That which is in keeping with our nature will ultimately provide the best outcome for our species and thus forms a natural law which governs our species. Thus fundamentally speaking that which is moral"

So according to Geogeer the best moral code is the one keeping with our nature.

For the purposes of this debate and in accordance with just about every dictionary you can find morals are really just a system for determining right and wrong.

Now let's explore the question: of what is morals according to human nature?

As my opponent has stated determining morals according to human nature is the correct way to do so. More on this later.


Value isn't something that exists outside of life. It's life that gives a property it's value.

A computer no matter how powerful or advanced it is has no value unless a conscious being comes into the picture, to google porn or whatever computers are used for now days.

Without the individual, it's just a collection of atoms. The same can be said for anything. Replace the word computer for whatever you like.

This is the natural and only way to determine value, our own subjective interpretation and usage of the collection of atoms.


How do us humans assign value to something?

It starts when we're just little babies. We use the feelings of pleasure and pain to assign a value of right or wrong.

When you're a kid and touch the hot plate you experience the burning sensation and your brain interprets it as pain.

When you play with a toy it brings you joy and you interpret it as pleasure.

The earliest determining factors of what is right and wrong, what is morally correct, the most natural way of determining morals is the pleasure and pain principle.

Touching a hot plate is wrong and playing with a toy is right. One is moral and one is immoral.


What's moral is to maximize the amount of pleasure in your life and balance that with minimizing the pain.

Some people first hearing this get left with a bad taste in their mouth, but it's not quite as horrific as it might seem. Maximizing pleasure isn't about doing the first pleasurable thing that comes to mind. If you see a beautiful woman, I wouldn't recommend running up and humping her leg.

We're not animals. There is a difference between a compulsion and an indulgence. Ultimately a compulsion would typically lead to more pain than pleasure and would be immoral.

Remember those natural guiding moral values from when you were a child, pain and pleasure. It is your goal in life to be as happy and have as much pleasure as possible.

If giving to the poor helps you to achieve that I say go for it, but I think typically it's just something done out of a sense of obligation.

We've been brainwashed into some backwards altruistic type of philosophy, where everyone does stuff for everyone else.

It's like Christmas where everyone buys each other stuff and exchanges gifts, instead of just going to the store and getting whatever they want.

Geogeer, why do you want to exchange gifts with each other instead of us just each buying what we want?

Which moral framework is better? Living your life for everyone else or living it for your self?

What will you choose, my opponent's backwards altruistic philosophy or one that values selfishness as it should?


My opponent is right. We do get a lot of our current system of morality from Judea Christian culture. We also get a lot from other influences.

Most people don't give much thought to ethics, they just go with the whims of society. People often say stuff like "you should give to the poor, it's the moral thing to do". Usually people forget to ask; Moral according to who? According to what standards?

When you examine these premises behind what society deems as moral, you'll see they have a shaky foundation or none at all. It's just people caving to social influences.

I say that society shouldn't get to tell you what is right or wrong, what is moral. Your morals shouldn't be based on the whims of the masses, but based on what brings you pleasure.


When we look at what ethics and morality should be based on, we can see that there is no moral obligation for the rich to give to the poor.

The rich are morally obligated to do what brings them pleasure. If they are giving out of a sense of obligation than they are being immoral. If they gain nothing from it, they are being immoral.

The only moral obligations are the ones derived from the senses and interpreted by the brain as pleasure. Typically giving money to strangers, to the poor, gives no such pleasure and should be avoided at all costs.

The next round, I'll show the flaws in my opponent's moral code and show that even if we adhere to my opponent's sense of morality that it is still better for the rich to avoid giving money to the poor.
Debate Round No. 2


As always, it is a pleasure to debate an opponent of Wylted's calibre.

In the first round or active debate we have established a surprising amount of common ground. We have agreed that morality is that which is in accordance with our nature. Thus the debate has narrowed to what really is true human nature. My contention was and continues to be that those actions and philosophies that are in keeping with our true nature (and thus moral) will provide the greatest outcomes for the species.


1. Value

We are generally in agreement with this section, without life nothing has an inherent value per se. The only issue that may occur with this section is where Con notes that value is subjective to our interpretation and usage of the objects. In general it is subjective, but not always, but I digress and will not further this topic.

2. Pain & Pleasure

Pleasure and pain are related to natural goods and evils. However, pleasure and pain do not fully describe moral goods and moral evils as we humans do not operate only by instinct. This concept is easily demonstrated.

Food tastes good because eating is a natural good to the body as it encourages the necessary consumption of nutrients. Sweets and fats can be particularly tasty, however an excess of these type foods can be very harmful to humans in terms of cavities, diabetes and heart disease.

Conversely pain warns us of things that are natural evils to the body. Pain warns us of damage to the body in order to keep us healthy and able. Yet some of the most physically fit people endure pain and discomfort to push their body to an even healthier state. If one were to use pain as the sole guide to that which is morally evil, you would actually hamper a natural good to the body.

Thus, while the human body and mind are naturally attracted to pleasure and adverse to pain, these are inadequate guidelines to morality. They establish a natural guide, but one that must be further built upon.

3. Morals & Other Moral theories

Con goes on to state that morality maximizes the amount of pleasure and minimizes the pain in the individual's life. He qualifies this statement by noting that since we are humans we do not act on compulsion alone, but on maximizing personal pleasure.

Now this seems good and reasonable at first, however there are several issues with it. When we discuss morals, only a small part of moral discourse is on the self, but rather morals are generally more focused on interpersonal dynamics and actions. For a sociopath like Charles Manson, he took great pleasure in actions the remainder of us would generally find abhorrent. Does that make those actions morally acceptable? No? Why?

This is because those actions are not in keeping with our humanity. A fundamental attribute of humanity is our empathy for one another. Our ability to understand the needs and emotions of others and to act on those needs not out of self-interest, but solely out of care for the other. Empathy is what makes us human it gives us our conscience. Any "moral" system that focuses on self-pleasure is inherently at odds with our human nature as it denies a crucial element of being human.

Now Con has argued that if that gives you pleasure then do it, but if not - don't. The problem is that this attitude does not mesh with the result of empathy: love. Now what is love (please don't start singing Haddaway here)? Can love make you feel like a Disney movie where you want to dance from cloud to cloud with little birdies throwing confetti and streamers while fireworks go off in the background? On occasion, but quite often that is mere infatuation. Love (agape) is ultimately an act of the will to sacrifice for the good of the other. Sacrifice is ultimately the opposite of pleasure. It is an act of foregoing that which would give us pleasure for a greater good - in this case the good of another.

While something like friendship starts as a means of doing pleasurable things with each other, it is ultimately an empty relationship if it does not develop to a deeper level where it becomes something where the friends would sacrifice for each other.

Con asked, "Geogeer, why do you want to exchange gifts with each other instead of us just each buying what we want?"

If the gift giving at Christmas was simply about the stuff, then Con would be right. But you know what? It isn't really about the item you receive at all. It is about what the item represents. The gift represents an expression of the love the other person has for me, and their desire to show me that love through giving. This is why I refuse to ever give out a list of things that I want. The gifts aren't about what I want, they are about the relationship that we share. And in doing so, the other person shares a unique little expression of themselves in what they give!

Con is correct about one thing. Growing up people generally accept what they have been taught. However, all good parents pass on the accumulated knowledge and wisdom of living to their children. Life is hard and it requires one to be able to stand on their own - a skill that good parents will foster in their children. And because life is hard, people also recognize the need to support others in their time of need as our civilization is not merely a collection of individuals, but a society of interdependence. This too is a knowledge passed on from parents to children.

Additional Arguments

I argue that Con's assertion that pleasure is the only purpose in life, is not only wrong, but ultimately immoral. Let's assume that we could hook up electrodes to someone's brain at the earliest ages and we could continually activate the pleasure centres of their brain for their entire existence while blocking out the pain receptors. In this manner we could guarantee that they experienced nothing, but continual pleasure for their entire lives without ever experiencing pain. Would this truly be the perfect life? I would argue that it is the exact opposite - it would be the most wasted life ever. It would be a completely inward focused life that was never shared, never loved and never given in love. A life without sacrifice for others is ultimately worthless because it removes that which we desire most - love.

It is the strange dichotomy of being human. We desire pleasure, but we improve both individually and socially through self-sacrifice. It reminds me of a poem by Robert Browning [6]:

I walked a mile with Pleasure;
She chatted all the way;
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.

I walked a mile with Sorrow;
And ne’er a word said she;
But, oh! The things I learned from her,
When Sorrow walked with me.

Personal Gain

Additionally, I noted in the previous round that if our actions are in keeping with the natural law governing our species they should provide benefits to the individual and the species as a whole. People who give to charity in relation to those who don't are [7]:

• 43% more likely to say they are very happy
• 1/5th as likely to say they are not happy at all

Additionally $1 given to charity was associated with $4.35 extra income. And nationally a 1% increase in charitable donations increased the GDP in the US by roughly $36 billion.

These are in addition to the societal improvements in law and government noted in the previous round.


I am going to return again to history to reinforce my point. However, this will focus on a few quotes from historical figures:

I have been everything, and everything is nothing. Emperor Severus - 211 AD

Here is a man who was the most powerful man alive, controlled the Roman Empire, expanded its boarders, did everything that ambition noted would bring pleasure. And at the end of his life is not filled with joy for the pleasures experienced, but with emptiness.

Additionally, people of different religions can agree on the need to care for the poor.

A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members. - Mahatma Ghandi [8]

A society will be judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members... - Pope John Paul II [8]

These are truths that cross boarders and religions. If a nation is so judged, so is the individual because the individuals make up the nation. A nation with no care for its weakest members will be judged as evil and immoral. Likewise, so judged will be an individual who does not help his fellow man in their need.


While the issues of the debate have been primarily about pleasure/selfishness vs. suffering/love these are just the broader context to discuss the topic of debate. Con has argued that adherence to pleasure is the only means of remaining moral. However, I believe that I have clearly shown that this does not properly account for human nature which includes empathy and love - both of which require self-sacrifice to be realized. Thus human morality extends beyond mere pleasure into something greater.

As such, in order to adhere to our true nature, it is a moral obligation for the rich (as well as the rest of us) to donate to the poor. It is only by giving of ourselves in a selfless love (agape) that we are able to transcend mere pleasure and achieve true joy.

I now offer the floor (monitor) to Wylted.





My opponent has built a case based on logcal fallacies and gut feelings. I understand that sounds harsh and I'll get to that later, but it's true. I've built my case on no assumption other than pleasure is good and pain is bad, and used that as the root my moral philosophy grows from. This root is justified by showing how value is both derived from and couldn't exist without life.The only tool we have for determining right or wrong from childhood is in our pain and pleasure. We don't determine right or wrong based on other people's feelings of pain and pleasure it's merely our own. My argument is that the rich are not morally obligated to give to the less fortunate based on this system of determining right or wrong which is the only logical system proposed in this debate. Most rich people didn't get that way by finding pleasure in
flushing their money down the toilet which is basically what giving it to the poor is.

Before I go any further I want to show how my opponent's words actually bury him in slant the debate wildly in my favor. He isn't argue that humans should strive to be better than our nature. He has said human beings should go with what is in our nature, and that what is in our nature is in fact what is best for the species.

Quotes from Geogeer round 2;

"I contend that we are morally obligated to do that which is keeping with our nature."

I've shown that the most natural, the most primal, the earliest indicators of right and wrong for a human is in our feelings of pain and pleasure. If we are morally obligated to do what is within our nature as my opponent suggests than the most natural thing to do is base our moral judgements on the pain or pleasure we'll receive as a result of our actions. This means we aren't obligated to give a dime to the poor regardless of our economic status.

"That which is in keeping with our nature will ultimately provide the best outcome for our species"

Even if my opponent wants to argue for some sort of altruistic based system of morality, he admits that basing our morals on what's natural will lead to the best outcome for society. So based on his own altruistic standards, I still win this debate.

"Thus fundamentally speaking that which is moral is a true expression of the nature of ourselves."

There is no more rational and natural way to propose a system of ethics than what I've proposed. At least not one that's been mentioned in this debate. Based on my opponent's own words about what a moral system should be based on, I should hands down win this debate.

Make no mistake Geogeer didn't make a mistake when advocating for the system of morality that is in keeping with our nature. He immediately comes out in round 3 expressly stating that's what his whole case is based off of.

"My contention was and continues to be that those actions and philosophies that are in keeping with our true nature (and thus moral) will provide the greatest outcomes for the species."

He reaffirms his contention. He had a chace to retreat in round 3 but fails. He's based his case on what's natural being what's best as far as morality is concerned. The next round is final and will be too late to go back on it.

Now let me move on to show the assumptions and other logical fallacies my opponent's case is built upon.


"The fundamental building block of humanity is the family. [1][2] And this fundamental unit illustrates compassion at play. All work as they are able at the various stages of life and all require aid at various stages of life."

My opponent is talking about compassion but what is compassion? Well according to Merriam-Webster its;

"sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it"

Now why in the world would we want to alleviate the pain or distress that people we love are facing? Not to be captain obvious here, but it hurts us to see people we love in pain so we decide to do something about it. This whole section about compassion is merely an extension of my case. Morality should be decided by our own pain and pleasure, what Geogeer does in this section is actually to show this pain pleasure dynamic at work and argue that morality should be based on compassion. What my opponent fails to see is that compassion isn't good just because we have that emotion, but instead is good because the emotion is a manifestation of our natural moral desire to alleviate our own pain by helping a loved one.

Compassion is just a tool in our tool box to help us achieve our own moral ends. It's great that it benefits people we love but it's not something that we should base morality off of instead it is a tool to manifest our moral desires.

"This concept of care and devotion between all members breaks down as people become further removed from familial settings. As such, people tend to have less empathy for a stranger than they do for a friend or family member."

What my opponent doesn't realize he's making my case for me. This compassion breaks down when it comes to strangers because we don't love strangers. We could care less about them. It's NATURAL for this compassion to go away when it comes to strangers because we don't love them so being aware of their suffering causes us no pain. This depletion of compassion is a direct result of our moral compass that happens to be our feelings of pain and pleasure. As I said before, compassion is a manifestation of our moral desires which come from an attempt to alleviate our internal pain. When there is a lack of compassion it's because that tool belonging to our moral compass as defined by me isn't necessary.

If compassion is reserved mainly for family members which my opponent seems to agree with than we shouldn't use compassion as a premise for why we should give money to
the poor.


I can pretty much sum up my opponent's whole section on history by saying it is a logical fallacy known as appeal to tradition.

He's basically saying that our culture is based on the Judea-Christian tradition of helping the needy, so we should continue
to do so. This isn't so much an argument as it is a lack of an argument. Doing something some way because other people did
isn't a good reason. If Judea-Christian culture was to jump off of a bridge would you do it?

Besides this being a logical fallacy I have 3 other issues with it. The first issue is that it's actually yet another argument he presents that works better with my case than it works for his own. we see from his arguments that social norms decided that taking care of the needy was pointless or immoral back in the time of the Roman empire. We see that Christianity came on the scene later on down the road and changed these social norms. This is not an argument that supports my opponent's contention that morality should come from nature. The only argument I can think he's trying to make is that giving to the poor benefits society as a whole, but he's not only failed to show it in fact does benefit society but he as failed to show us why we should be held to these moral standards. why we should care about society as a whole.

My last problem with this portion of his argument in this section, is this;

" Ultimately, this is an additional form of enforced charity upon the wealthy as this is where the government receives a significant portion of its tax revenue."

I don't think my opponent is trying to get tricky with the definitions of words, but just in case I have to bring this up. Early in round 2 he defined donations as charity and compassion. Here is that quote;

"What does it mean to donate? It means to give or to be charitable and to show compassion."
My opponent is in fact wrong to donate means to give.

The words charitable and compassion won't be found in most if any dictionary as a description of the word donate. Donating can be a form of charity and an act of compassion, but it doesn't have to be. My opponent seems to be saying or hinting around at the fact that paying taxes is donating. I would hope he wouldn't attempt such an argument. However, if he does just know this debate is not about tax policy. It's obviously about voluntary donations.


I'm not even sure of why my opponent labels this section natural law. He never get's around to explaining why anything in his natural law section is natural, he does mention this concept of greater good but doesn't base this moral system that assumes actions should be based on the greater good on anything at all other than I guess he expects the voters to assume that the greater good is the highest moral value, but I've shown since birth that humans value pleasure so this higher good really doesn't factor in.

As far as the other stuff is concerned my opponent never clarifies how they are related to nature or even bothers to explain natural law in any comprehensible way.


My opponent has failed to win this debate by his own standards whih I've quoted. He also just assumes compassion towards strangers is better for humanity not that it matters because he's failed to show that "The Greater good" is a solid basis for a system of ethics.

Even by my opponent's own moral framework he has failed to show how donating a million bucks to a charity, and remember several charities have some high paid CEOs would be more beneficial than taking a million dollars and building low income housing which cold provide homes to several hundred poor people? He's failed to show why making somebody dependant on the charity of others is better than forcing them to get on their feet. What do they say "better to teach a man to fish than to give him one".

Anyway..... Vote Con, thanks for reading this debate.
Debate Round No. 3


My thanks to Wylted for his arguments. Lamentably he has failed to actually address my counter arguments that pleasure/pain is a sufficient basis for morality as well as the arguments dealing with empathy. He has been arguing one round behind where he should be and this ultimately stifles the debate and permits less actual development of the ideas.

Even though Con had over 4500 characters still available to him in Round 2, he failed to make any rebuttals and even now he has failed to address any substantive arguments from Round 3. I do not know how the Judges will receive this style, but I personally find it a distasteful means of taking advantage of last say. I’m sure Con will disagree and plead innocence.


Con's argument essentially requires that you leave your intellect (and that of all humanity) at the door. He states that "the earliest indicators of right and wrong for a human is in our feelings of pain and pleasure." Thus Con's argument is that our morality is nothing but some form of Pavlovian stimulus response. Thus whatever makes you feel pleasure is morally good, whether it be eating a Big Mac, rescuing a bum of the street or raping your neighbour's handicapped daughter. If it feels good do it.

While I have fully agreed that pleasure and pain form an elementary underpinning of natural law and thus morality, our intellect and empathy are greater aspects of our humanity. Using MRIs to scan children's brains (from between 7-12), University of Chicago researchers found that:

"children, like adults, show responses to seeing someone in pain in the same areas of their brains. The research also found additional areas of the brain, those connected with moral reasoning, were activated when youngsters saw another person intentionally hurt by another individual." [9]


"The programming for empathy is something that is "hard-wired" into the brains of normal children, and not entirely the product of parental guidance or other nurturing" [9]

These results come from seeing images of strangers suffering. Whereas Con attempts to limit empathy and compassion to "people that we love".

The readers should note that I have equivocated morality with our true nature. Is our true nature selfish or is it compassionate. Given that I have shown that when we see others suffering we have areas of our brain dedicated to responding with empathy, I believe it is quite apparent to note that it is our true nature to respond in compassion - we are "hard wired" to respond in this manner.

However, unlike animals we can override our natural inclinations. We are creatures of intellect. We can use our intellect to work in concert with our natural moral responses or we can use our intellect to suppress them. This is why we don't refer to animals as moral or immoral; they behave on instinct.

Con continued by discussing compassion. As previously noted Con attempts to limit compassion to those you already love. And yet I've already shown that we are "hard wired" to feel empathy even to to total strangers.

Now, Con quotes me from Round 2 noting that I said that we tend to feel less compassion and are less charitable to strangers than we do to those who we already care about. This is because there is a strong natural obligation to family and friends. As an example:

I see a car lose control on my street and is about to plough into my daughter and her friend playing outside. I know that I only have time to save one. I will instinctually move to save my daughter, because, as her father, that is a greater moral obligation upon me than saving her friend. However, if there is only her friend out there I don't sit back pop a beer and laugh as she gets ploughed into - I save her.

Additionally, we learn and are formed by our parents from a young age. None of them are perfect, thus the forming that we receive from them will be imperfect as well. However, returning to my original premise, we can devise which actions are ultimately most in keeping with our true human nature by observing the outcomes of those actions. I will return to this thought later.

Additionally, research has shown that wealth actually reduces compassion [10]. According to the study wealth appears insulates people from naturally developing empathy and compassion. The researchers for the study surmised that the reason for this was that "wealth and abundance give us a sense of freedom and independence from others. The less we have to rely on others, the less we may care about their feelings. This leads us towards being more self-focused."

Humans and primates are by nature social creatures. [11] "Biologists have found a correlation between the size of the animals' frontal cortex and their social nature."

So is human nature to be social creatures and we find that those who have the least give the largest percentage of their income to charity. [12]

Money itself is an artificial construct and not in and of itself natural. So we can see that those who are least separated from one another by the artificial construct of money are more inclined to be empathetic - which has already been shown to be hard wired into our brain. And we know that as humans our large frontal cortex makes us naturally social animals.

Thus electing not to be charitable and donate to the poor actually further separates us from our nature. Whereas, donating to the needy reconnects us socially to other human beings. And, not to belabor the point, we are social creatures and thus we reinforce our true nature though charity to others.


Con contends that I am making an appeal to tradition in this section. However, from his own source [13]:

"Traditions are often passed from generation to generation with no other explanation besides."

What I did was show a progression in thought process in western civilization that has brought us to the society in which we now live. I did not say that just because the ancient Greeks did this we should. The society in which we live did not just pop out of nowhere. A civilization does not exist in a bubble separate from guiding philosophies and actions of the people. A civilization is instead formed by those very things.

I do not expect a civilization who believed the Pharaoh was a God to develop into a democracy. Nor do I expect a civilization with an untouchables "caste" who are regularly discriminated against to develop a judicial system based on the premise of equality of all. This is just intuitively obvious.

The point is that the Judeo-Christian moral philosophy and actions resulted in the civilization in which we (both Con in the US and myself in Canada) now live in and enjoy. Given that other civilizations did not achieve this social success, it would be farcical to assume that our underlying philosophies had nothing to do with it. Now correlation does not necessarily equal causation - this much is true. However, my contention from the beginning has been that actions that are most in line with our true nature will result in the best outcome for the species. Given that charity, which I also referred to as the perfect self-giving love agape, has been a central theme to the philosophies of western civilization, I do not believe that it can be summarily dismissed as a logical fallacy.

In Round 2, I had simply noted that the concept of charity from the government (which is the wealthiest entity in the nation) became a social reality in the Judeo-Christian tradition. I do agree that this is not a central point to this debate, and am not arguing about tax policy. I mentioned it to show how deeply entrenched the concept of charity is to our civilization. This is an additional supporting fact to the centrality of charity is to our Civilization's moral character.

I would like to note that only now is Con questioning my definition of donate. And I am forced to defend a 2 round old definition. Con claims that my definition is in error. If we go back to the root of the word it stems from the Latin word donare which means to "give as a gift." [14] And a gift is "something bestowed voluntarily and without compensation." [15] As this is a moral obligation from the rich to the poor and charity is defined as "Something given to help the needy; alms" [16] I believe that my original definition is substantiated.

Natural Law

Contrary to Con's assertions I was quite clear about what natural law is (From my Round 2 Introduction):

"That which is in keeping with our nature will ultimately provide the best outcome for our species"

Thus, if murder was a "moral" action for our species, the civilization which murdered the most would create strong stable societies. If not then it is not a moral action.


I have shown that Con's pleasure/pain definition alone is an insufficient basis for morality. As a final example: if avoidance of pain is indicative of a moral action, then every woman should have an abortion to avoid the pain of child birth. This base level of reasoning means humanity should become extinct. This is in direct opposition to my contention that morality is that which best serves the species. However, if con admits that some pain to achieve a greater good is true he has invalidated the moral basis for his argument and supported mine.

I also reaffirmed my own contentions. I have shown that:

• the morality of an action is based on which actions that are in accordance with our true nature
• empathy (even to strangers) is a hard-wired part of who we are.
• humans are fundamentally social
• wealth tends to make people less social and empathetic.

Given the above facts, there is a moral obligation for the wealthy to donate to the poor - both for the good of the poor and of the wealthy.

My thanks to Wylted for the debate.


[11] ttp://


Let me take a minute to discuss my style. Usually in a 4 round debate this is what I do.

  1. First round I accept the argument

  2. Round 2 is where I make my opening arguments and only opening arguments. My opponent can't see my arguments in round 2 to make rebuttals, when he posts his arguments. I think it's unfair to the instigater if I get an extra round of rebuttals. I also think it's unfair to whoever accepts the debate to have less characters for opening arguments. Even if I have extra characters available for a rebuttal I still think it's in bad taste to make one in round 2.

  3. The instigater can only make rebuttals here so as the person going last I feel like it's unfair to launch into counter rebuttals and have an extra round of counter rebuttals.

  4. This is where I touch on counter rebuttals and offer some sort of recap for the debate

I wouldn't mind hearing the judges' opinions on this but it's something I do not to be unfair but to ensure fairness.


Whether you agree or disagree with me what I've provided is a step by step rational approach to morality. My opponent has done no such thing. His entire argument is logical fallacy after logical fallacy. The biggest logical fallacy which actually makes up the meat of his argument is a fallacy known as Begging the Question, or more popularly known as circular reasoning.

Geogeer starts by assuming the conclusion is true. The conclusion being that what society deems as moral behavior is moral behavior. He states this several times. such as him using the example of rape for shock value (something I'd never do). More on this later.

My opponent has failed to uphold his end of the resolution. He hasn't shown that the rich have a moral obligation to donate to the poor. His argument is that we should have compassion. He fails to show how donating to the poor is the best way to show that compassion. Why is donating to the poor better than spending the same amount of money developing a more affordable computer that will give poor people more access to technology?

My argument does uphold my end of the resolution. I've shown a moral code that would show people can behave in a moral way while being completely selfish.

Counter Rebuttals


Me and my opponent agree here. However I make the next logical step which is that people determine the value of something through the pain and pleasure principle. There is no denying that is how we determine the value of something. It's also how we determine if something is good or bad to start with and my opponent unwittingly furthers my arguments with his own rebuttals.


My opponent states that eating fatty food can be incredibly pleasurable but be bad for our health. I've actually already addressed this point and similar ones before he even brought them up but I digress. This is where what a person values comes in. If a person values the present over the future they may be willing to subject themselves to some pain in the form of a heart attack later for some pleasure in the form of a burger today. Or if somebody values the future they may be willing to subject themselves to some pain in the form of exercise now for more years of pleasure and health.

For some reason when people hear of using pain and pleasure as a foundation for morality they assume that it falls entirely in the form of instant gratification, but that's not the case. You can also make moral judgements by acting in accordance with some combination of valuing instant or delayed gratification. Either way it's still using the pain and pleasure principle.


"When we discuss morals, only a small part of moral discourse is on the self, but rather morals are generally more focused on interpersonal dynamics and actions."

This is one of those claims that go unsubstantiated. One of many. Morals don't extend beyond the self not now not ever. It's just an illusion. My opponent has failed to even show why morals should extend beyond the self other than making statements that assume his version of morality is correct (circular reasoning).

We do stuff for others because it gives us pleasure. It makes us feel good about ourselves. Sometimes we do stuff for others to reduce our pain because we have empathy and we sympathize with them. Sometimes we do it because, we are hoping for reciprocation.

I repeat morals aren't now based on anything outside of the self and never have been.

"A fundamental attribute of humanity is our empathy for one another. Our ability to understand the needs and emotions of others and to act on those needs not out of self-interest, but solely out of care for the other."

Our empathy does most certainly play an impact in how we behave towards one another, but it isn't a moral value and my opponent has failed to explain how empathy is a moral attribute other than to say we have it. Empathy doesn't help us determine the value of something. That is pain or pleasure. If our empathy causes us to feel bad for somebody we may do something about it, but it isn't our empathy that is the moral value but the pain or pleasure we get from having that attribute. We see somebody in pain have empathy and now that pain we have from seeing that causes a negative value so we do something to help.

You see it's not the empathy it's self that causes us to act but it is the pain or pleasure we recieve from having empathy.

"Love (agape) is ultimately an act of the will to sacrifice for the good of the other. Sacrifice is ultimately the opposite of pleasure. It is an act of foregoing that which would give us pleasure for a greater good - in this case the good of another."

This is something I find extremely repulsive. Love isn't about sacrifice. If I love a woman and buy her a flower it's not an act of sacrificing my money. It's completely selfish and it's the joy seeing a smile on her face brings me. I'm not sacrificing my time to go on a date. I'm enjoying my time. If I donate a kidney to help somebody I love survive a while longer it isn't a sacrifice it's a selfish act. I love them so I want them to live longer so we can have many more fun filled days together.

When Romeo and Julliet (spoiler alert) killed themselves it wasn't a sacrifice. It was because their feelings were so strong for one another that they couldn't bare the pain of being without each other. Love isn't sacrifice. If you honestly feel like working your butt off so your kid can eat is a sacrifice than you have problems. It's not a sacrifice it's a selfish act. You love your child and it would bring you pain to see him go hungry.

Everything comes back around to the pain and pleasure principal. The reason my opponent is having such an incredibly difficult time with this topic is because I'm arguing a truism.


My opponent has made an appeal to tradition. His quote about an example of this appeal that doesn't correspond with his argument is completely beside the point and a red herring. What he's done is shown how society's view of morality has changed over time. This snap shot of morality through the ages to show that society is correct about morals or that we should surrender to the herds (society) view of morality. I understand how society came to the current moral traditions. However that isn't evidence of anything but instead, it's a bunch of words meant to be disguised as evidence.

"if avoidance of pain is indicative of a moral action, then every woman should have an abortion to avoid the pain of child birth. This base level of reasoning means humanity should become extinct. This is in direct opposition to my contention that morality is that which best serves the species. However, if con admits that some pain to achieve a greater good is true he has invalidated the moral basis for his argument and supported mine."

I'd say that a woman who chooses not to abort believes that the joy of raising a child significantly outweighs the pain of child birth. This isn't the first time I'm bringing up delayed gratification I've done it in prior rounds as well.


My opponent brings up true nature several times and even underlines it in this round. This is just a variation of the No True Scotsman fallacy. It's a way for my opponent to reinterpret the evidence to support his position. I've shown that my moral system is more closely and better aligned with nature, so my opponent has to say well it's not true nature. My opponent has stated that the moral system that best aligns with what's in our nature should be the one we use and the way of determining morals that I've proposed shows that the rich aren't morally obligated to donate to the poor.


The moral system I proposed shows that there is no moral obligation for the rich to donate to the poor. The one my opponent proposed at best shows that the rich should help the poor but fails to show why donating money would be superior to the millions of other options. Such as spending your money advocating for the rights of poor people or creating a product that benefits poor people. Also my opponent has failed to even address how donating to the poor is better than say donating to quadripalegics or cancer patients.

I've done enough to show that my opponent's system of morality is based on smoke and mirrors while mine is based on pure logic. I should win based on this, but even if the voters somehow decide to say that pro had put forward the better system of morality, I should still win based on the fact that my opponent really failed to hit at why donating to the poor causes the greatest bang in terms helping for the rich person's buck.

Vote Con

Debate Round No. 4
64 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Geogeer 2 years ago
Thanks, it is always fun... Even when it doesn't seem like it.
Posted by Wylted 2 years ago
Thanks Geogeer. Have fun being a new dad.
Posted by Geogeer 2 years ago
Thanks for the debate Wylted. Best o'luck in the rest of the tourney.
Posted by whiteflame 2 years ago
Cool, I need my new desktop background!
Posted by Geogeer 2 years ago
LOL... Probably not. I was trying to do an Aquinas light in the debate, but I guess that just didn't develop it as people don't seem to be grasping the point I was trying to make... Whiteflame came the closest, but was still off.
Posted by Wylted 2 years ago
I need to work on mine as well. I probably won't go the way of Aquinas though.
Posted by Geogeer 2 years ago
I guess I'll have to introduce a little more Aquinas into my debates...
Posted by Geogeer 2 years ago
No wonder... I balked at the mayo...
Posted by Wylted 2 years ago
Thanks for taking the time to vote on this Whiteflame. The pics you're asking for in exchange for he votes are getting weirder and weirder, but I'll digress.

Time to get the jumper cables a battery and some mayonnaise.
Posted by Geogeer 2 years ago
Thanks for taking the time to vote Whiteflame.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by whiteflame 2 years ago
Who won the debate:-Vote Checkmark
Reasons for voting decision: So it seems to me like each side in the debate is arguing past the other. Pro is arguing that there's a "true nature" to humanity, that that nature employs a logic that ensures that humanity survives as a species, and that it's been pervasive throughout human society. Con tells me that humanity functions off of the very simple moral principles of pleasure vs. pain, that these are the sole certain natural sources of morality, and that any other source of morality is too subjective to be analyzed. In both cases, I think the arguments are well-made, but engagement with the opposing case is too minimal. However, there was still some engagement, and the two things I'm wondering by the end are: did Con prove his case to represents a moral obligation that contrasts with Pro's, and did Pro's case get the support it needed to be an certain obligation that outstrips it? Pro concedes the former in the final round, and Con introduces just enough doubt to make me question the latter. So I vote Con.
Vote Placed by EndarkenedRationalist 2 years ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: I found this to be a rather close debate. So close, in fact, that I'm going to have it break it down in the comments section.
Vote Placed by Jonbonbon 2 years ago
Who won the debate:-Vote Checkmark
Reasons for voting decision: This was actually a fairly close debate. In the end, I think pro was taken off guard by con's argument, and wasn't able to come up with a proper rebuttal. The deciding factor for me was that con was able to demonstrate that pain and pleasure are the most basic mental functions for determining right and wrong, and pro said that a human's true nature (which only con was able to support) is where we should derive our morals from. Also, pro was a little insulting in his rebuttal, essentially saying that con's case was anti-intellectual, and he wasn't able to actually disprove con. In order for pro's position to be true, con's case had to be proven false (in that pro had to come up with a more basic nature than pain/pleasure, which he never did adequately), and con was never proven false, I cannot award pro the win.