The Instigator
MTGandP
Con (against)
Losing
7 Points
The Contender
wjmelements
Pro (for)
Winning
16 Points

The meaning of life is definitely not reproduction.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 5 votes the winner is...
wjmelements
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/15/2009 Category: Society
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,960 times Debate No: 8251
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (9)
Votes (5)

 

MTGandP

Con

wjmelements recently did a debate of this resolution, and it was not a very fulfilling one for me as a reader. So I challenge wjmelements to debate this topic again.

Definitions
Meaning: The end, purpose, or significance of something. http://dictionary.reference.com...

There are a few arguments I am going to make, but I'll start by saying that to say that the meaning of life is DEFINITELY not reproduction seems over-assumptive. Since my opponent is PRO, I will allow him to go first before I post my formal contentions.
wjmelements

Pro

I affirm:
The meaning, or purpose, as defined by my opponent, can NOT be to reproduce.

Reproduction: "the act or process of reproducing" http://dictionary.reference.com...

The reason for there to be life being to make more life makes as much sense as saying that the government exists to be bigger or that the purpose of the NRA is to have more members.
-The purpose of the NRA is to promote the rights to carry and use firearms. While the NRA must have a high amount of members, this is not their purpose.
-The purpose of government is to protect a people. While the government has to exist to do this, existence is not its purpose.

The logic that to continue one's existence could potentially be a purpose is based in fallacy.

Further, not all things have to have a purpose. For this reason, the logic that "I don't know what it is, so it must be this" doesn't work. It is fallacious besides that observation anyways.

I await my opponent's response.
Debate Round No. 1
MTGandP

Con

"The reason for there to be life being to make more life makes as much sense as saying that the government exists to be bigger or that the purpose of the NRA is to have more members."
This is an argument by analogy, and proves nothing. My opponent goes on to explain the logic behind why the purpose of life cannot be to make more life, which is acceptable and I will rebut next. But this argument by analogy should be rejected outright.

"The logic that to continue one's existence could potentially be a purpose is based in fallacy."
Why not? It is not a very good purpose, and hence we do not see many examples of it, but it is a purpose nonetheless.

"Further, not all things have to have a purpose."
While true, this is irrelevant. My opponent must prove that the meaning of life is definitely not reproduction, which can be done by proving that there is no meaning of life. But saying that it's POSSIBLE that there is no meaning of life is not the same as proving that there is no meaning of life.

***

Now I will explain why the meaning of life is probably reproduction. Note that I only have the burden of proof to show that the meaning of life COULD be reproduction.

Think back to the origins of life, back when all creatures were very primitive. Some life was able to sustain itself, and did so. Some life was not, and died out. Why? The life that sustained itself had purpose, and that purpose was to reproduce.

Ever since then, life has continued. It has changed and developed over time, but there has been one constant: it always reproduces. Reproduction is the one thing that life has always been doing. If the meaning of life is to, say, have a tail, then the vast majority of life is a failure. If the meaning of life is to have a tail, then by natural selection, all life should have a tail.

I thank my opponent and await his response.
wjmelements

Pro

I thank my opponent for a response.

First, my opponent claims that analagous logic is faulty and irrelevant. However, my analogies showed that the existence and the continuance of existence cannot be purposes. This continues with all things that do have purpose. Nothing's purpose is to reproduce.

Second, my opponent claims that the logical fallacy, that something can exist just to exist, that the purpose of life can be to make more life, makes perfect sense. However, as I have shown through analagy, this is logically impossible.

Third, my opponent argues that live's purpose could be reproduction because all living things reproduce (by definition). To refute this, I would like to identify the general characteristics of life: (http://www.una.edu...)
1. Reproduction
2. Aquiring of Energy
3. Carbon-based Chemicals
4. Response to Environmental Stimuli
5. Capacity to Mutate
6. Reductionism

My opponent's argument that 'life has always and only been reproducing'; therefore, 'the meaning of life is reproduction' is false in that life has been doing many other characteristics as well as reproduction. The acquiring of energy is not the meaning of life for the same reason that reproduction cannot be the meaning of life: subsistence is necessary; however the meaning of life cannot be subsistence.

A basic argument against this claim is that a characteristic is not a purpose.

The word purpose is defined as:
-the reason for which something exists or is done http://dictionary.reference.com...
Note the way that it doesn't say, "the way that something exists or is done". Following my opponent's logic:

While a chracteristic can help something achieve its purpose, as existing helps the government function, expanding helps a company make money, and growing helps the NRA "promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis" (http://www.nra.org...), these characteristics are not purposes.

Again, another logical analagy:
All companies strive to make money. This is their purpose.
All companies have to employ people to do so. This is their characteristic.

While subsistence helps, it is not a purpose, and purposes are not characteristics. I await rebuttal.
Debate Round No. 2
MTGandP

Con

"However, my analogies showed that the existence and the continuance of existence cannot be purposes."
No they don't. All they show is that the continuance of existence is sometimes not a purpose. To expand that and say that the continuance of existence can never be a purpose is logically flawed.

"However, as I have shown through analagy, [that something can exist just to exist] is logically impossible."
All my opponent has shown is that it is sometimes not the case. It is a big leap to go from "sometimes not the case" to "logically impossible". If I lived in the 1800s and cited numerous examples of space travel not working, it would not prove that space travel is impossible. (Yes, that was an analogy, but my argument in no way relies on the analogy. It was merely for clarification.)

"My opponent's argument that 'life has always and only been reproducing'; therefore, 'the meaning of life is reproduction' is false in that life has been doing many other characteristics as well as reproduction."
It is not that it is false. It is that it is not necessarily true. Any of the characteristics of life could be seen as the purpose or "meaning" of life, if my original point is extended. But they are all simply cyclical. Why does life acquire energy? So it can continue to live and acquire more energy. Why does life mutate? So it can continue to survive and continue to mutate. The argument can be applied across those six points, for example, I could say that the purpose of reproduction is to acquire energy; but there are no continua across all life other than these six things, which all in a sense cause each other. So my argument still applies.

"subsistence is necessary; however the meaning of life cannot be subsistence."
Why can the meaning of life not also be a necessity of life?

"All companies strive to make money. This is their purpose."
What about companies that make money by handling money, such as banks?

***

An analogy cannot prove that the meaning of something is NEVER a necessity for its continuation. But an analogy can prove that the meaning of something CAN BE a necessity for its continuation, by providing a single example of this. I can do that very easily. I have written two fairly simple programs in Ruby in which the purpose is to produce itself.

This file rewrites itself.
{code}
file = File.new("write_self.rb", "r")

text = ""
lines = file.readlines()
lines.each { |i|
text += i
}

writer = File.new("write_self.rb", "w")
writer.puts(text)
{/code}

This program ends whenever am_i_dead becomes true, and the purpose or meaning of the program is to assign am_i_dead to false. So the program's own meaning is to prevent it from stopping or "dying".
{code}
am_i_dead = false

while am_i_dead == false
am_i_dead = true # This is the center of the program, the "meaning".
end
{/code}

Even if you don't program in Ruby, you shouldn't have too much trouble understanding what the programs do.

I have proven that in not one instance but two, it is possible for something's own function to be to keep itself going; I have thus refuted the statement that my opponent's case relies upon, that statement being that something's meaning or purpose cannot be to continue itself.
wjmelements

Pro

I thank my opponent for his response.
-----------------------------------------------
My opponent says that my analogies are flawed in that there is a part of the whole that is not false and then leaves his argument there. However, he gives those examples later, both computer programs. While a CHARACTERISTIC of these programs is that they do such things but their PURPOSE is clearly to counter my claim. Instead, they verified it.

I am still waiting for a counterexample...
-------------------------------------------------
"Why can the meaning of life not also be a necessity of life?"
How many times must we go over this?
The purpose of life cannot be to make more life. A reason cannot be circulatory (IE: "Why can't we wear hats in school?" "Because it's against the rules." (Actual conversation with an education bureaucrat [teacher] today).
-------------------------------------------------
My opponent concedes that all characteristics of life are circulatory, and then claims that his argument stands...
--------------------------------------------------
" 'All companies strive to make money. This is their purpose.'
What about companies that make money by handling money, such as banks?"
...you kind of argued my point here...
--------------------------------------------------
I now await a bunch of counterexamples to my claim that "Characteristics are never purposes" and plently of examples on how something's purpose can be to exist.
Debate Round No. 3
MTGandP

Con

"My opponent says that my analogies are flawed in that there is a part of the whole that is not false and then leaves his argument there. However, he gives those examples later, both computer programs. While a CHARACTERISTIC of these programs is that they do such things but their PURPOSE is clearly to counter my claim. Instead, they verified it."
1. In this case, their purpose way to counter my opponent's claim. However, if I had wanted a program that never ends (which hypothetically I may have), I would use the second program. Its purpose would be to never end.
2. If we assume that the purpose of those programs was not to make themselves, it still does not prove my opponent correct. My opponent's argument can only be absolutely correct when every single possible thing has been proven to not be able to be its own meaning.

"A reason cannot be circulatory."
Ah, I understand now. This is an interesting point. To respond effectively, I am going to return to the definition of "meaning".

Meaning: The end, purpose, or significance of something.

This definition says nothing about "reason". End, purpose and significance are all ideas separate from the concept of "reason". Reason implies causality, while end and significance do not. Purpose does in a way imply causality, but is still not exactly "reason". A better statement would be "A meaning cannot be circulatory", but this statement is not obviously true.

End: Life has no apparent end. Sure, everything could die, but that wouldn't really be a meaning. Evolution has no real goal or end[1], and so life has no meaning through an end. Unless, that is, we are talking about life on a more local level. Life can end once it reproduces.

Purpose: This is much more complicated, and the entire rest of the debate is about this.

Significance: What makes life significant? This is fairly opinionated, but I think that reproduction is very significant. Life is rare, and no other type of material reproduces itself. Reproduction is very significant indeed.

"you kind of argued my point here"
I was arguing that banks run by acquiring money. This is necessary for their survival. And you stated yourself that "All companies strive to make money. This is their purpose."

Which leads me to another interesting argument. In order to survive, all companies (not just banks) need to make money. They collapse otherwise. And by my opponent's own definition, the purpose of a company is to make money. So monetary gain is both a purpose and a necessity. I have thusly refuted my opponent's case case by giving an example of a necessity that is also a purpose. Therefore, it is possible for reproduction to be both a necessity for life and the purpose.

***

I have given three counter-examples, one of which came from my opponent's own definition. These alone are reason enough to vote CON. Additionally, I have shown why my opponent's logic is flawed and have defended my own case. Vote CON!

[1] http://www.talkorigins.org...
wjmelements

Pro

I thank my opponent for this debate

-----------------------------------------------

My opponent concedes that the program's characteristics were different than its purpose. He then tries to assert that something's purpose being to never end is logical.
-First, I'd like to point out how far my opponent had to go to get this point across (an entirely hypothetical situation involving an entirely hypothetical program).
-Second, I'd like to show that its purpose then would be to satisfy my opponent's want for a program that has such a purpose.

-----------------------------------------------
"My opponent's argument can only be absolutely correct when every single possible thing has been proven to not be able to be its own meaning."
My opponent tries here to shove a ridiculous burden of proof on me. This is quite silly, as he proudly grabbed it in the first round. He does this because he cannot come up with a counterexample to the logic that proves his case faulty.
-----------------------------------------------
My opponent responds to the claim that "a reason cannot be circulatory" by showing that his definition does not contain the word "reason". However, the word "purpose" has already been defined:

"The word purpose is defined as:
-the reason for which something exists or is done http://dictionary.reference.com... "

His claim that "reason implies causality" is false in that purpose implies causality as well.

-------------------------------------------------
My opponent clarified his point regarding banks. He argues that banks must acquire money to acquire money (duh). This is no different than other companies. The wealth that banks aquire (interest) is different and entirely separate from the money they receive in the first place (principle). http://www.uncg.edu...
-------------------------------------------------
My opponent then argues that a company's purpose is to make money and that they must do this to survive. However, surviving is clearly not their purpose. My opponent is using false logic (this might have to do with the fact that it is late at night). A NECESSITY is separable from a CHARACTERISTIC. Further, a NECESSITY is separable from PURPOSE. While a necessity is necessary to continue to exist, and existence is necessary to achieve purpose, the necessity is not the purpose.
Simply put, gaining money in the form of income is a necessity, but the purpose it to get profit. The two are distinguishable.
-------------------------------------------------
CONCLUSION:
My opponent has cited three examples, which turn out to not prove my logic false.
My opponent has not shown my logic to be false, because reasoning cannot be circulatory; therefore, a reason cannot be circulatory; therefore, a purpose cannot be circulatory. This affirms the resolution thoroughly.

The meaning of life is definitely not reproduction. VOTE PRO.
Debate Round No. 4
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by Godssenseofhumor 5 years ago
Godssenseofhumor
Someone said the meaning of life couldn't be Reproduction because life can end...
I am assuming your saying someone can get cancer and die at age 27 or at age 10
whatever...well there will always be negative factors in any theories involving the
meaning of life, in this case the person eventually has to die but before going he or she
reproduce...And to add my opinion on Reproduction as the meaning of life, yes reproduction
is the meaning of life, let me explain...What are some of the things we as human beings
share...we breath, eat, drink, use toilet, sleep, have intercourse, and reproduce...
THERE MYSTERY SOLVED....
Posted by majormerak 7 years ago
majormerak
CON could just not get his point across. As PRO said, laying complete and total burden of proof for every single situation is absurd (and impossible). CON tries to sit on a technicality without working on making good arguments. Reproduction is a necessity for something to achieve its purpose, but it is not the purpose itself... PRO wins by a mile
Posted by mongoose 7 years ago
mongoose
Don't surreneder to authority, you fool!
Posted by wjmelements 7 years ago
wjmelements
No they don't. I know that teachers don't like it when they are questioned. I played it safe and just went to my bus.
Posted by MTGandP 7 years ago
MTGandP
"(Actual conversation with an education bureaucrat [teacher] today)"
I hope you explained that the teacher was being fallacious. Teachers just love it when their students are smarter than they are. =P
Posted by wjmelements 7 years ago
wjmelements
It's okay.
Posted by MTGandP 7 years ago
MTGandP
Sorry it took so long. I didn't read your comment until today.
Posted by wjmelements 7 years ago
wjmelements
Thank you.
Posted by wjmelements 7 years ago
wjmelements
I'll accept, just change the voting period to 1 month.
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by studentathletechristian8 7 years ago
studentathletechristian8
MTGandPwjmelementsTied
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Vote Placed by MTGandP 7 years ago
MTGandP
MTGandPwjmelementsTied
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Vote Placed by majormerak 7 years ago
majormerak
MTGandPwjmelementsTied
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Vote Placed by mongeese 7 years ago
mongeese
MTGandPwjmelementsTied
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Vote Placed by wjmelements 7 years ago
wjmelements
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