The Instigator
Ryan12595
Pro (for)
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The Contender
margroffr
Con (against)
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There are no right or wrong answers in ethics.

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/30/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,181 times Debate No: 44954
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (1)
Votes (0)

 

Ryan12595

Pro

Ryan Molenaar: Pro: There are no right or wrong answers in ethics.
Before delving into whether there is right and wrong in ethics, I think it would be appropriate to understand what ethics actually are. Ethics are defined as the moral values of an individual and how they conduct themselves accordingly. Within the study of ethics it is important to understand that there is no universally set rule of ethics that we all live by. It is up to the individual to set their own moral ethics and it is their personal choice if they live by them or not. That being said I believe that there are no right or wrong answers in ethics. Why do I believe this? Well for one, someone's individual ethics, while they may be similar to someone else's, could possibly be entirely different than someone they are arguing with or dealing with in a situation. To say that someone's ethics are wrong would be entirely incorrect and wrong in it of itself because you, personally, do not know how that person defines themselves. Our own ethics and moral well-being is instilled within us as young children and as we grow, we determine what is wrong and what is right in a certain situation. For example, if we see an old lady trying to cross the street, some of us would help her while other s would ignore her. Each person believes they are doing the right thing. However, each may look at the other as though they are wrong. The reality is that neither is right nor wrong because each has their own moral code that they live by. This could stem from how they are raised as kids and continue as they grow up. As we grow, we are influenced by those around us and what we may think was once ethically wrong could be changed because we want to fit in. So that one thing that was once thought as wrong becomes a part of our own ethical code and we no longer think it is wrong. This skewed line of right and wrong leaves a lot of grey areas within ethics that in reality is not even there at all. As I stated in the above situation, as we grow older our ethical outlook on life changes. Another key factor in our development of ethics is the media and what we see on television or in videogames. We may see something on television that we think is unethical but as we see it more and more we become numb to it and adopt it as a part of our own ethical morality. Each individual's ethics is what they themselves define as right or wrong. We cannot tell someone that what they believe is wrong just because we think it is. That is the way they were raised and who are we to tell them what is right and wrong based on what we personally believe? It is just like religion. If we believe in a certain God, who are we to tell someone else who believes in a different God that they are wrong? Ethics are very subjective and are based on our own individual feelings and the way we were raised. I reiterate that there are no right or wrong answers in ethics. Ethics are based entirely on what we as individuals perceive as being right or wrong.
margroffr

Con

Though you are right when you mention that each person as an individual has their own set of ethics that they should follow, we as humans understand what is right and what is wrong. The example of helping an older lady cross the street is good ethics. No matter how you look at it, if you don"t help her you aren"t doing the right thing. Decisions are much bigger than deciding whether to help an old lady or not. Decisions in life as you get older are harder than the ones when you are younger. Some decisions like choosing the right college have no effect on ethics but what if you are put in a situation where you two choices are life or death. Let"s say you hurt someone: that is ethically bad. One set of ethics is justice. Justice is the actions in fairness and regard of others. If others are in harm, you are showing bad ethics. Laws are created to keep people in check. The help you make decisions that are viewed as ethically right or good. There are no good jobs in regards to breaking laws. On that reason alone, ethics should be viewed as good or bad. The other example you stated has to do with faith. Faith is tricky because your views can change because of what your preached or taught. But even with that in mind, sins are included. There are no such thing as a good sin. They are all bad and are brought by bad actions and bad ethics. While I may view some things as ethically bad but you think it may be ethically good, there is still laws that are agreed upon to dispute that notion for most decisions made. There may be some things that can be swayed back and forth but for the most part, a decision can be divided into the category good or bad, right or wrong, by both members involved and a third party view. As individuals, we are very judgmental. We can decide on an event or decision what is ethically good or what is ethically bad. Though that can change as eyes of people change, we are still judging whether they are right or wrong. As we become familiar to what is right or what is wrong, though my right might be your wrong, society has proved to us what is viewed as right by the majority of humans. Whether is a difference of legality or just an action like helping an elderly person cross a busy street, society has proved to us that helping them would be the ethically good, right decision. And even though people rarely help, this ethically bad decision does not affect us in our lives but decisions that can affect our lives for the better are considered good but if the affect us or others for the worse, that is an ethically bad. An example of this is when you are with a group of friends. One day they walk through the hallways during class, which is ethically bad, proved by the rules against it. They see a kid at his locker, they knock his books down and slam is locker close. As Americans, we know this is frowned upon. You could be scolded for it. Therefore is ethically bad, even if you think it"s funny. When there are a set of rules against it, its ethically bad. Other than that, you can used your beliefs to decide whether it"s good or bad.
Debate Round No. 1
Ryan12595

Pro

Ryan Molenaar: Pro: There are no right or wrong answers in ethics
As you have stated clearly, as humans we know right and wrong. My argument simply is to prove that there are no right or wrong answers in ethics. It does not matter if an individual thinks something is right or wrong, because the answer is based on our own set of ethics. As I stated in my previous argument, who are we to decide what is right and wrong? That person may think he is doing the correct thing while we may think it is wrong. I believe that as a whole, the population has a set of ethics that most of us share, however that is because we grow up in a certain area. We have grown up in the Northern United States where we do not treat African Americans any differently than anyone else. This ethic choice was instilled within us as children and as such, we continue that as adults. Most of the people around us make the same ethic choice to treat African Americans just as we do. However, in a different area, such as in some Southern states, they treat African Americans differently and worse than Northerners do. They grew up and were instilled ethically to treat them that way, just as we grew up to treat them fairly. That Southerner believes how he treats them is right where we view it as wrong. They certainly believe that we are wrong in treating them fairly, but there are laws that try to tell us this, which I will get to shortly. You stated that if we make the decision to hurt someone, that would be ethically bad. Perhaps the person we hurt was a murderer who was trying to hurt us, would it still be ethically bad to harm them? Even in a normal situation, the person doing the harming believed they were right in that moment in harming someone else, even if they may regret it a second later. In that moment they believed they were right. These rules or laws that try to tell us what is ethically or morally wrong are simply a matter of opinion set down by those who write them. These individuals believe that a certain thing is ethically bad, but in another country, it may be good. For example, in Saudi Arabia, it is ethically acceptable to not allow women to drive. The government there believes this to be okay, whereas most other governments don't. It is simply a subjective matter based on what a person believes to be good or bad. My argument again is simple. There are no right or wrong answers in ethics. We may believe something is wrong, but who says it is actually wrong? The government? It is up to the individual, as even you have stated. There is no higher power to say what is right or wrong. A government may try to be that higher power. However, even what they say is based on a majorities ethics and their own opinion. They try to come up with laws saying that something is bad. Some people say that religion defines what is good or bad, such as sins. Even that is a matter of opinion based on what the "God" or a "God" believes. There are contradictions in different religions all the time. It is ethically okay to eat pork as a Christian, but not as a Muslim. There is simply no way to prove what we think as morally and ethically okay, is actually morally or ethically okay in the big scheme of things.
margroffr

Con

As I previously stated, no matter what we believe is right or wrong, there is an ethically right and wrong, as proved to us in society. There are sets of rules and laws to show us what is right and what is wrong. No matter if the Southerner believes that his actions against African Americans are right in society, there are laws against what he believes and he is ethically wrong. The government, whether you like it or not, sets up laws which judge what is right. That also sets precedent to what I believe or what my neighbor believes because it is what has to be right. If you commit a crime, it is ethically bad and wrong. No matter whether if you thought it was ethically right; it is not. Once again, faith has an exception in my belief. What is preached to you is a different story and what is great about this country is that there is nothing against your beliefs. There are sins in your beliefs to act as your law or government. Individuals should act accordingly. Your counter point to my example was if the person you were hurting is a murderer or trying to murder you. Of course with every situation, there are exceptions. For the most part, if you hurt a random stranger on the street, that is bad and there is no way around it. You can"t turn a bad situation into a good one by simply stating you thought it was good morally. Nothing you do that is bad is good just by thinking it. There are laws forbidding certain acts and you as a citizen are to abide by those laws. Also, different countries abide by different laws. So what you are saying about different thoughts depending where you live is correct in that context. My next example is on a lesser scale. In a household, my parents want me to follow their rules. Their rules are different than your rules, but they are right in my household. Of course when you step outside, you have to abide by the country or state rules. But inside my household, a certain set is right or wrong. If I beat my brother on Xbox and then I showboat, that is wrong. Your family could make a statement to getting better by saying you can showboat if you win, so go and win next time. No matter how you think about it, it is right or wrong. I can"t look at a situation and say, "that"s both right and wrong." That means there is a right or wrong, no matter if my opinion is different from yours. If we are talking about me and my brother, we follow our household rules. But if we are talking about me and you, we follow the country"s law. If we go to a different county, we follow their laws, simply because that is was the majority believe is ethically right. Your opinion matters to you and if you want to change the thought of me or my neighbor, you have to talk to some decision maker. So to summarize what I believe and what I am trying to argue here is that no matter if you, I, or Joe has an opinion, whether our decision is ethically good or bad, right or wrong, is decided before we make that decision. It is decided by the government, because that"s what the majority of the country believes is the right thing.
Debate Round No. 2
Ryan12595

Pro

Ryan Molenaar: Pro: There are no right or wrong answers in ethics
Jumping right in, you BELIEVE that the Southerner is wrong based on what your country tells you to believe. It is wrong yes, based on laws that exist, but ethically wrong is another matter. To you it is ethically wrong, but to the Southerner it is not. Who are you to say it is wrong? I agree it is wrong, but my opinion does not matter because that is not what I am trying to prove. I reiterate that ethics are different to everyone. We think his actions are ethically wrong, but he doesn't. What makes crimes "ethically" wrong is how we are brought up to think of them. We are taught "crime" is bad, but what if we weren't? We would think crime is a good thing and we would be arguing about how doing good deeds is ethically bad. It was all set forth by society and government. I am not trying to sound anti-government, as I believe that crime is bad, but my belief is based entirely on what I was brought up to believe in America. You state again that hurting someone is bad ethically. Yes to most it would be bad morally and ethically to harm someone, but your opinion on the matter is not relevant in my argument. My opinion is the same as yours, as I am sure most everyone believes the way we do. However, what we believe is bad would not be bad to the person harming the other person. An example of this would be the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. The monster who shot innocent children believed he was doing what was right. He had something in him that told him it was okay to kill innocent children. He (I will not even use his name) was brought up in this country just as we both were, but yet his code of ethics is different. So to rely on the government alone instilling ethics in us, would be wrong, since there are exceptions, like people who commit crimes. Everything in your opinion would be bad ethically because it was what we are raised to think. Leave opinion aside and examine it without one. By stating that your rules are different in your household are different than in my household, are you saying that one is better than the other? That cannot be determined, nor should it be. Each ethic code in every household is different. Going to your point about traveling to different countries, if we travel to Saudi Arabia, do we simply follow their rules just because it is law? Just because we are there should we chastise women for driving simply because we are in a country that has a law that says so? The answer is no we would not, but we would have to obey the laws and go along. Inside we think it is wrong, but we wouldn't speak up about it, but instead go along because that is what is morally acceptable there. That doesn't make it right. You say that we must obey the laws. Yes we do, but these laws that are set are based on what the majority believes is ethically acceptable. Are you saying the majority is right all the time? Just because the person or party in power says something is right, does not make it right. They try to tell us what is ethical and what is not, but that is only because that is what they themselves believe. It doesn't "have" to be right; we are told it is right and by law we have to do it, but inside, ethically or morally, we may think otherwise. Who is right? We do not know because there is no power higher than the government to tell us.
margroffr

Con

I say believe because it is what I am told to believe by the government. Ethics do differ between different individuals but there is a set of laws to tell us what to believe; what to do, say, and act. No matter what you do, if you follow the rules, you are ethically right. The Southerners are not ethically right, no matter what they believe. The government cares about your opinion, but if you in the minority, which is the South in this situation, it is wrong. The same thing is going on with same sex marriage. The government is letting the state settle this debate. Our wonderful state has allowed it, thus making it ethically right. The debate whether marijuana should be legal is a complicated one. Washington and Colorado is the only two states where the drug is legal. It is illegal in our state. Does smoking it make your action ethically bad? Yes. It is illegal. When the majority rules on a subject, we assume it is right because the majority say so. If one or two people say that Christopher Columbus did not come over here in the 1400s, do we believe them? No because the majority of historians say that he did come over. The same thing goes for The Holocaust. Some people say it never happened. I was not there but the majority say it happened. When the majority rule on something, we assume it is right. The same goes here. The laws are the laws and we have little to no chance to change the laws. Most mass killers end up having mental illnesses. The ones who do not may believe it was right but it was not. The laws and beliefs of the majority show that. That is an extreme case that should not be compared to hurting an individual. One"s ethics are not better than another. It is not placed on a scale. It simply is right or wrong. It is simply good or bad. My household ethics are either good or bad, as are your ethics. But if you break a rule, it is bad as stated by your household rules. Once your feet are outside the household, your actions are judged on the country scale. If we travel to different countries, we follow their rules. If someone traveled here, they must follow our rules. It is pretty black and white. It is not our jobs to control their women, but we have to agree that in that country, it is bad for women to drive. We might disagree, as I see you do, but it is their law. If a foreigner comes to New York and sees he cannot purchase a Big Gulp at the local 7-Eleven. He might disagree with it, but it"s a law. The government is the highest power. They rule but you have opinions. You control your actions. If you break a law, and you thought you were ethically right, it is ethically wrong. There is no way around it. There are right and wrong answers in ethics. The Constitution helps us realize the right decisions to make. Our parents help up make the right decisions. No matter if you believe otherwise, you have to let the "man" be the "man" and follow the rules. Some seem like stupid rules, but they are ethically accepted. Laws are needed to help make the right decisions and in a way, be ethically good and right.
Debate Round No. 3
Ryan12595

Pro

Ryan Molenaar: Pro: There are no right or wrong answers in ethics
To start with, and as my final argument, this is still all your opinion. This is also my opinion on the subject, but I am at least trying to back up my argument. Christopher Columbus and the Holocaust have nothing to do with ethical decisions, at least in the way you presented them. The majority saying that they happened and the minority saying they didn't is a fine example of accepting truth based on what the majority believes, but that is it, based on how you said it. If you had mentioned anything about the ethical situation behind the choices the Nazi's made or how Columbus performed a genocide of his own on Native Americans, then your argument would have some merit. I am sure you will try now, and with this being the last round, you will get in the last comments on this subject, unfortunately. Your examples are sufficient when trying to show the power of majorities, but they hold no water when it comes to ethical situations in the way you presented them. It is like Nolan said in class as an example; if you take a poll in a certain population, there will no doubt be a majority no matter what the poll is about, but just because the majority believes one thing, that does not necessarily make it fact or true because there is always a minority that may think otherwise, whether it be on an ethical situation or not. You keep saying that things are right or wrong, but this is still based entirely on your ethics. Yes you say this is what the "law" is, but this is based on what you have been told by the government, or the "man" as you state later. Your examples, in this round, have nothing to do with ethical decisions. What does the foreigner not being able to get a "Big Gulp" have to do with what is right or wrong in a situation? You are not saying definitively or proving that your view on this matter is correct. You just keep saying something is ethically bad, but this is entirely your opinion. I am repeating myself, but I believe I have to, seeing that you do to. You think something is ethically wrong, but that is your opinion and who gives you the right to judge someone? Yes we all must follow the rules and laws, but these rules are put into society by "the man." What they say is ethically right is what you are basing your argument on, but who says that the government says is right is actually ethically right? I stated this earlier, but who is to say the way we live is the actual ethically right way to live? Maybe someday a higher power, whether it be a God or something else, comes to us and says that the way we live is "ethically" wrong. Will we immediately change what we think is right just because the new "man" says so? Probably not, and we shouldn't but the way you are saying it, you would change the way you think and act based on what the "man" says. I conclude my argument with saying again, there are no right or wrong answers to anything in ethical situations. Yes, we think that something may be ethically wrong, but only because we had this ethics drilled into us as children and then as we reach adulthood and beyond. We act a certain way based on the ethics, but there is absolutely no way to know for sure if how we act is the absolutely correct way to act, or if what we think is "good" and "bad" is actually good and bad. There simply is no way to know for sure, and all of it is based entirely on personal opinion, whether it be at the individual level, or on a governmental level. We are influenced by the government to think certain things but there is NO way to know if this is right or wrong, regardless of your opinion on the matter. We SIMPLY cannot prove it.
margroffr

Con

To start off, opinions are just a small part of the argument. The Holocaust and Christopher Columbus were used to prove a point about how majority rules in ethics. I am not going to rip you apart, but trying is the least of which I am doing. If that is all you are doing, that is fine. Ethics are judged in the eyes of others. That is why laws are being brought up as a valid argument. Laws are the first thing you are being judged for. It is the main thing in which we as individuals can judge you. We compare it to whether it is legal or not. That is the only way we can decide, but it is a useful way and is rarely used where a decision is not made. You bring up a great point about the Nazi"s actions and I will expand my thought. Nazi"s actions are bad ethically to both me and you and even them, but Hitler was the leader and told them to do it. It was ethically good, as weird as that sounds, because as the leader, Hitler had the final say and had the power to control Germany. Columbus" genocide is not confirmed nor is it part of the history both you and I learned in school, therefore I will leave it as I stated earlier. The majority is not based on just our class. It was voted upon Americans and that is how it is decided whether it is a law or not. It is not a poll, it"s a vote. The government is right. We, as Americans, have to face that fact. That is not my opinion, I just follow the leader. If you have not been arrested, you are living ethically right because that is the only way we can judge. The laws are not my opinion, but if I judge you based on what I believe, that makes me just as wrong as you. If I judged you based on the laws, that"s right because it is the right thing. I thought same sex marriage was messed up three years ago, but love is love. My view changed when the government"s view changed. The same happened for millions of people. Do not forget that unlike Nazi Germany, we do not have one man in charge, we choose what we want as a group of people. Until the majority changes, our views will not change. I also don"t believe the government will take a 180 degree turn on some things. Even if we think some things are ethically right or ethically wrong, the answer is still ethically right or ethically wrong. I conclude this debate with the same things I have been mentioning throughout the last three arguments. Laws are the only thing we can judge someone else"s ethics on. That means that there are right and wrong, good and bad answers in ethics. Right ethics abide by the law and wrong ethics break the law. Though the laws change from country to country, state to state, and even household to household, we abide to some rules that are set for us by a higher power and with that, breaking the rules are bad ethics while following the rules is good ethics. While some of the stuff is opinion based, the government being our higher power is not one. I can prove that government has laws set out for us and we must, as citizens of the United States, follow those laws.
Debate Round No. 4
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Posted by kbub 3 years ago
kbub
Paragraphs are beautiful things.
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