The Instigator
Con (against)
6 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
3 Points

There are no absolutes.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/14/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,159 times Debate No: 56610
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (6)
Votes (2)




I have been reading a lot of philosophy books lately, and I thought this would be a fun topic to debate with someone. I actually am really curious as to what the Pro side of this debate believes and would argue to support their position. So I hope somebody accepts the challenge to debate this with me.

Setup: Round 1 is acceptance by Pro, and Pro can make his initial arguments. Round 2 is constructive/rebuttal argumentation by both sides, and Round 3 is purely rebuttal argumentation.

My (Con's) basic position in this round: There are absolutes--morally, physically, intellectually, and spiritually.

Good luck to my opponent. Let the debates begin! :)


I accept this interesting challenge. I hope this can be a fun debate.

I will wait for my opponent to present arguments why they think there are absolutes morally, physically, intellectually, and spiritually in the next round.

I would like to make a few notes.
1. The Burden of Proof should be shared since we are both making claims.
2. If I can prove that at least one of those categories named by my opponent's position doesn't have absolutes then I will win this debate.
Debate Round No. 1


First off, I want to state that I agree to the first standard proposed by my opponent. We will both be required to uphold our burdens of proof. However, the second standard is too narrow. The resolution is "There are no absolutes." As Pro, my opponent must show that there are no absolutes. If I clearly show that there are absolutes in any area, then I should win the debate. If Pro can prove that there are no absolutes whatsoever, then he should win.

Now to my arguments.

Absolutes exist. Even if somebody claims not to believe in absolutes, he still lives his life as if there were. For example, relativists talk. The simple use of language assumes that words mean things absolutely. If I mention my cat, I mean a furry animal with four legs, claws, and a tail; not a scaly, legless creature that moves on its belly. That scaly creature would be a snake (not mine). We assume certain absolutes for daily living. Here are just some of them: language, numbers, existence of actual objects, reliability of our senses, temperature, and basic laws of physics. My opponent may disagree with me on these being absolutes, but if you really think about it, they are. What if your senses were NOT basically reliable REALLY. How could I trust then that I actually perceive reality? How could I know there was any reality at all? Some people may say there is no reality, but their lives certainly belie their position. People live as though there are absolutes.
Why? Because there are absolutes. Absolutes exist. If you deny them, then the whole cosmos falls apart.
Let's look at the four areas I said that there are absolutes.

Moral absolutes:
There are absolutes morally. Every person eventually has a threshold where they will call some action "evil" and some other action "good." Where does the standard for good and evil come from? If it is indeed relative, then nothing can be evil or good. If you believe cannibalism is wrong, but I believe it is right, then it cannot be absolutely evil if relativism is the standard. If morality is indeed every man for himself, then why is anything wrong? Why should we not all kill, steal, and lie if that benefits us? How can anyone call anything evil or bad if relativism is the standard?
However, there are things that are evil. I have never once heard anyone say one good thing about Hurricane Katrina, or the tsunami that hit Japan in 2011. I have never heard anyone call a pedophile a good person. We all know there is good and evil, and there is remarkable concurrence. For example, if I swiped someone's phone, she (and all the rest of society) would call me a thief. We hold to absolutes in the area of morality. Even if somebody claims there are no such absolutes, that person lives as though there were.

Physical absolutes:
Reality is absolute. This computer that I am typing on really exists. My fingers exist. My eyes and brain exist. The chair I am sitting on exists. If I suddenly push really hard on the (really existing) ground with my (really existing) feet, then I will tip over my (really existing) chair and the (actual) laws of gravity will pull my chair to the ground, and I will feel actual pain in my (really existing) head. All of these things are absolute. If you doubt it, try it sometime. The pain of your head hitting either the floor or your iron bed frame will NOT be illusory, and you will have a bump on your head for some time after. Physical absolutes are probably the easiest to prove. Even those who say that physical absolutes do not exist ACT as though there were. They open doors instead of trying to walk through them. They eat real food to keep their bodies alive. They walk around objects so that they don't bump into them. When they drive, they act as though the other cars really exist, and as though their car really exists. Physical objects are absolutes.

Intellectual absolutes:
Here I will focus on logic. We are debating here, so hopefully both of us are using logic at this point. :) Certain things about logic are absolute. For example, A is A, and A is not non-A. These are the two basic premises from which all logic and thinking stem. One concept or thing is that concept or thing. It cannot be, or be equal to, its opposite. The law of non-contradiction holds true in all cases, everywhere: If p is true, then not p is false. The statements "I am me" and "I am not me" cannot be true at the same time. This is an absolute. If you reject this absolute, then you cannot think. There is absolutely no basis for thinking if we reject these absolutes. And all relativists can think. They act in accordance with these absolutes, even if they say that these absolutes don't exist.

Spiritual absolutes:
There are spiritual absolutes. Some of them are the same as the intellectual ones I described above. But there are also others. For example, you cannot be a follower of all the world's religions at the same time. The God of the Bible is very different from Krishna, for instance. Each religion has its own claims, and they are contradictory with each other. You cannot believe in Islam and Hinduism at the same time. Islam claims that there is only one God, while Hinduism is a mix of polytheism and pantheism. And ultimately, whether you like it or not, only one religion can be right. They cannot all be true at the same time. If you really look at the claims of each religion, you'll find that this is indeed the case. These are absolutes.

I have here made my case for the existence of absolutes. I have discussed absolutes in general, and absolutes in four specific areas. I now leave the floor open to my opponent to make his case.


I thank my opponent for their responses.

First, I would like to show my opponent took the position "There are absolutes--morally, physically, intellectually, and spiritually" by using the word "and" they claim all of those categories have absolutes. By defining their position it implicitly defines mine as "there are not absolutes--morally, physically, intellectually, and spiritually"

1. Physical
Absolutes are knowledge, and knowledge comes from our sensory. However, our senses are fallible; therefore, our knowledge is fallible. Because our sense are fallible we can not know anything for certain. This was presented by Descartes [2]. Further, can you be absolutely sure you are not in a Matrix? Because you can't know for certain you can't know for certain if anything around you actually exist. Further is there really any object? If you imagine and apple you probably think of something round, red, shiny. However, these are all properties, and there is no real object just properties that your fallible senses experience. This is called bundle theory [1].

2. Spiritually
There are many religions, and they all teach different things, but my opponent did not give any examples of any absolutes. Instead they tell you how they are all very different and contradictory.

3. Morals
First, just because you never heard anything bad about a certain thing doesn't mean people don't think it was a morally good thing. A pedophile does not think it is wrong, just like a Nazi does not think Nazism is wrong. If morality is objective then why do people debate moral subjects like abortion or Homosexual marriage?


Debate Round No. 2


I thank my opponent for his well-thought and well-articulated arguments. I confess that they gave me much thought on this subject. However, there is one main flaw that I see with Pro's arguments. His argument against the existence of absolutes is that since people do not agree upon them, absolutes do not exist. This is a false premise. The very nature of absolutes makes them true for all; absolutes are true for all mankind. Think of it this way. Suppose there is a kindergartener who has trouble with math. He comes to the conclusion that 2+2=3. His teacher corrects him, saying that 2+2=4. But the little kid is dogmatic that 2+2=3. Does the statement that two and two make four become any less true simply because a kid, or maybe a whole class of kids, does not agree? Certainly not! This is the same principle with all absolutes: they exist even though some may not agree with them.

Let me point out that my opponent failed to respond to my points about absolutes in general. My two main examples were language and lifestyle. Simply by debating with me, my opponent concedes that there are absolutes in language. If there were not these absolutes, our debate would devolve into nonsense. If each word did not have a particular and absolute meaning, how could I tell what my opponent really said, or what his meaning was? Why, if there are no absolutes, I could claim that my opponent agreed with everything I said in my last speech and conceded the round to me. Obviously that is far from the truth, as anyone could tell by reading my opponent's actual words. Words have specific and absolute meanings. This was not refuted, with good reason.

The human lifestyle (meaning in general, not specific lifestyles) also confirms that there are absolutes. As I said before, people may claim that there are no absolutes, or that they cannot know if there are absolutes. But their lives belie their words. All people live as if there are absolutes. I will be discussing this more when I talk about physical absolutes.

But first we will discuss my burden in this round. My opponent insists on construing the semantics of my statement of belief to mean that if he proves that there are no absolutes in just one of the areas I mentioned, then he wins. If this is the case, then we will prove our positions like we would prove math proofs. He must show that in all cases, there are no absolutes in these areas. I, on the other hand, need provide only one example of an absolute in these areas that stands, in order to win. So let's look at these areas of absolutes.

My opponent's argument here was that there are no absolutes in morals because not everyone agrees on those absolutes. I have already explained the flaw in this argument above. Moral absolutes must come from a source greater than a single human or a group of humans. Otherwise they cannot be universally binding and therefore cannot be absolute. If anyone can condemn anything as wrong, or condone anything as good, it can only be because he appeals to a standard greater than himself. There are moral absolutes. Killing another human being in cold blood is wrong; genocide is wrong; stealing is wrong. People may say they do not agree with the standard of moral absolutes, but very often they do once the evil touches them personally. What if it was your $1 million that was stolen? What if it was your mother who was murdered? All of a sudden, that absolute moral standard is what you appeal to in order to get justice. By the way, what is justice, if not another absolute? And it is one that we all cling to. If somebody roars by us at 100mph on the freeway, we want him to get a ticket because "it serves him right." If somebody shoots up a school, we want him to get life in prison or the death penalty in the name of justice. There is a moral code that is absolute. Just because those who break it don't want to admit it exists, this does not mean that moral absolutes do not exist. They do indeed exist.

This is probably the easiest realm to prove absolutes for. My opponent says that physical absolutes do not exist because we cannot be sure of reality. However, my opponent himself seems to be very sure of reality. After all, he is debating me over the internet. Thus, he is depending on the facts that the internet is real, that his internet-accessing device is real, that the words that he is reading on the screen are real, that his mind is real, that his fingers are real, etc. Moreover, by having a meaningful debate with me, he depends on the fact that this reality is not real for him alone, but real for both of us and for the person(s) who will judge this debate.
Like I have said multiple times before, our lives are lived according to certain absolutes. We live according to the absolute of gravity, of the existence of objects, and of the basic reliability of our senses. If you still need an example of physical absolutes, here are three: this debate is real, your chair is real, and the truck driving down the street is real. Don't believe me? You can try jumping in front of that truck, but I guarantee you it won't turn out so well for you. And that pain that sends you to the hospital (if you are still alive), will be completely, absolutely real.
I admit that you have no basis for these absolutes if you do not accept the absolute existence of an infinite-personal God who is orderly and who has revealed Himself to mankind. There are just certain things you cannot know for sure if you remove this foundation. The existence of reality is one of them. But this does not make it less absolute. It just means that you have no foundation for knowing that it is so. Though you can know there are absolutes, you have no foundation for them.
For a more in-depth discussion of this issue, see "How Shall We Then Live?" by Francis Schaeffer and "The Ultimate Proof" by Dr. Jason Lisle.

My opponent did not deny that there are intellectual and logical absolutes. Again, I think this was with good reason. He has effectively conceded the point that there are intellectual absolutes. If you wish to refresh your memory on this point, reader, please refer back to my previous argument.

There are spiritual absolutes. I have discussed their basis in my previous points here. Again, the flaw in my opponent's argument is the same as that of his moral absolutes argument. People do not need to agree for there to be absolutes. My burden is not to prove what those absolutes are, but rather is to prove that they exist. Absolutes do exist in the spiritual world. There either is a heaven and hell, or there is not. They cannot exist and not exist at the same time. I believe that they do exist, and I have very good reasons for believing so. You might disagree with me. Nevertheless, there is an absolute here: one of us is right and the other is wrong. This is true for all spiritual things, just as in physical things. Alligators may exist, or they may not. I personally have never met one. I could claim that alligators do not exist, and you could claim that indeed they do. What we say about the matter does not change the reality that alligators do exist. The same is true for spiritual things. There are absolutes. Either God exists, or he doesn't, but it can't be both. This is a spiritual absolute. Either the Bible is God's Word or it isn't, but one or the other is absolutely true.
Just so I eliminate any potential confusion about what I'm saying ... I am not making the claim that we always know what the truth is regarding spiritual absolutes. There are things we know, but many things we don't know. What I am saying is that absolutes exist. Disagreement does not change the facts that absolutes do indeed exist.

To sum up my case, absolutes do exist. Whether people deny the existence of absolutes, or whether they disagree about what those absolutes are, is irrelevant. What we say does not change the existence of absolutes, just like whatever the kindergartener says in defense of his math mistake does not change the truth of 2+2=4. The fact that we can communicate by written language and the fact that we function in this world in accordance with these absolutes bear witness to the fact that there are indeed absolutes--morally, physically, intellectually, and spiritually.

Thank you to the reader for taking the time to read my case. And thank you to my opponent for the stimulating debate. It was a sincere pleasure for me to debate you on this matter.


I thank my opponent for their response.

If my opponent's position was that there are no absolutes morally, physically, intellectually, or spiritually, no rational person would have taken this debate because they would be taking a self contradicting statement. The statement there is no absolutes are in fact an absolute. The self-defined position defines what the debate is about more than the title. Titles are often vague and is narrowed by the positions. For example, if the title was "Gay Marriage" but the positions is that laws restricting gay marriage are unconstitutional. Just like in this case the title there are no absolutes is narrowed by the morally, physically, intellectually, and spiritually.

If moral absolutes exist like mathematics, then we should all know. What is this source greater than a single human or group of humans? God? However, that isn't even agreed upon, no absolute, if God even exists. Just because someone says something is bad that is what they think is moral or not is nothing greater than themselves but rather their worldview. This is why you can find people who disagree on moral questions like euthanasia or abortion. If Genocide was an absolutely morally wrong, then why did the Nazis or Soviets think it was ok to do so? Justice isn't an absolute either, since cases are overturned all the time if anything, it shows how morality was formed by the culture of the time.

Just because there are words on the screen doesn't mean there is another conscience behind the words because you cannot prove they are truly conscience and not some part of your subconscious producing a hallucination. "I admit that you have no basis for these absolutes if you do not accept the absolute existence of an infinite-personal God who is orderly and who has revealed Himself to mankind." So, this one actually depends if there is a spiritual absolute that God exist which was not proved in this debate.

If my opponent can't name one absolute then how does my opponent know there are absolutes? If you claim that hell exist is an absolute then you must prove it, and if it was why doesn't everyone agree or know? However, if I my opponent just state either XYZ exist or doesn't think this should be in the intellectual absolutes and not the Spiritual ones, but this could also be a false dichotomy like saying abortion is wrong or it is not there is possible gray area.

Debate Round No. 3
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by Boesball 3 years ago
Good job con!
Posted by 9spaceking 3 years ago
that's my point
Posted by AstridDragonSlayer 3 years ago
Not to pick a fight with you or anything, but have you considered that "Duality exists in every single element of nature" and "Truism cannot be disproved" would be absolutes if they were true?
Posted by 9spaceking 3 years ago
duality exists in every single element of nature. That is truism. Truism cannot be disproved. therefore absolutes do not exist.
Posted by AstridDragonSlayer 3 years ago
Hi JohnMaynardKeynes, Thanks for the comment! I was just wondering why you believe that we cannot perceive absolutes. That is a very interesting position. You can see mine in the debate; I was just wondering what your explanation is for what you think. I totally understand that you have to think about this issue more before debating; there are lots of issues on here that I have to do the same. :)
Posted by JohnMaynardKeynes 3 years ago
This is a really interesting topic. To me, absolutes exist, but we simply cannot perceive of them or they're beyond our reach, so they may as well not exist. Even consider the argument semantically, if I were to say, "There are no absolutes," then I'm making an absolutist claim. If I were to say, "We cannot, right now, know for sure whether there are absolutes," I'm again making the same claim -- which is almost self-refuting since, for that to qualify as an absolute, it would need to be accurate, but if it's accurate it isn't absolute...

Anyway, I'd love to take this, but I'd need to develop my thinking on this subject. Good luck!
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by mishapqueen 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: I felt that Pro didn't really respond completely to Con, and Pro actually agreed with Con in the end. "The statement there is no absolutes are in fact an absolute." I though Pro was more convincing than Con because she brought up specific argumentation and answered all of Con's concerns.
Vote Placed by schachdame 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:33 
Reasons for voting decision: The outline of the question was chosen by CON to her advantage and resulted in the disagreement over the BOP (+Conduct). PRO failed to address the field of logic properly but was strong in his rebuttals of the other fields (-Arguments). As CON claimed to have read a few philosophy resource on that topic I am disappointed to see that she did not include any of them. A personal theory is always week(er). PRO did not provide really good sources but took at least the time to document some research (+Sources). Additional Note: Some of CON Arguments were overly long and repetitive. Therefore rather tiring to read.