The Instigator
bpcraig
Pro (for)
Losing
20 Points
The Contender
Kleptin
Con (against)
Winning
47 Points

There are no such things as needs

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/24/2009 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,881 times Debate No: 9546
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (15)
Votes (13)

 

bpcraig

Pro

This one was inspired by my economics professor. He said there is nothing in the world that any one needs, only what they want.

Example: I need that girl's number. (Actually, you just want it).

Stronger example: I need air. (True, you need air to live, but....)

Let the debating begin:
Kleptin

Con

I thank my opponent for this debate.

NEED
http://www.hyperdictionary.com...

Verb: [v] be logically necessary

NECESSARY
http://www.hyperdictionary.com...

[adj] absolutely essential

ESSENTIAL
http://www.hyperdictionary.com...

[adj] absolutely required and not to be used up or sacrificed

**********************

My opponent states that there is nothing in the world that any one needs.

I posit that "one", being a reference to a human,

1. needs to take up space
2. needs to manipulate matter
3. needs to manipulate energy

I look forward to my opponent's response. Thank you.
Debate Round No. 1
bpcraig

Pro

I thank my opponent for accepting this debate.

My opponent suggests that we need to do three things, namely, We need to occupy space, we need to manipulate matter, and we need to manipulate energy.

It is logical to lump the latter two into one, as Einstein's famous equation states: E = mc^2, mass and energy are different forms of the same thing, therefore their manipulations should be treated as such.

This leaves:

1.) We need to occupy space.
2.) We need to manipulate the physical world (this is my adaptation on the latter two points).

Response to 1:

My opponent suggests that we need to occupy space. This implies that we have no choice in the matter. The converse would also be true, namely, since we have no choice but to occupy space, we therefore NEED to occupy space.

I am going to argue on the basis of what we define as "I". The "I" exists only so long as we are alive (to the best of our knowledge). I am not saying there is no after-life, but we can not rule out the idea of there not being an after-life. Let's be cautious and say "assume the "I" ceases at death."

If the "I" ceases at death, there is no longer a sense of a person as their physical manifestation in their body. By this I mean that as soon as the the "I" ceases to be, the body that was represented by that "I" ceases to be in association with that now deceased consciousness. This means that the "I" is a self proclaimed thing. As soon as a body loses the ability to proclaim his/her consciousness, that body is merely matter/energy. What I have done is to say that whatever the "I" may [need] or want in life ceases at the time of death.

We also have the choice to end our lives. The fact that person X is alive is, among other things, because he/she has implicitly chosen to continue living. Therefore we have, in a sense, chosen to take up space. As I earlier stated, if we have the choice to do or not do something, there is no way that something can be a need. Therefore, to take up space is not a need but a very strong want.

Response to 2:

In a similar fashion as my first response, I will argue that to manipulate the physical world involves a choice, and therefore fails as a need.

Just like the concept of taking up space is a function of what it is to be alive, one could argue that manipulating the physical world has a similar sense. It seems to be a consequence of life itself that we do/can manipulate our world. Such manipulations would logically cease upon death. Since living is a choice (which means it fails as a need), we can choose not to manipulate our world by simply killing ourselves.

I look forward to any objections to my responses.
Kleptin

Con

I thank my opponent for his response.

There are several logical fallacies here.

FIRST: The "I" does not exist. Only the body does.

Unless my opponent can prove that there is a supernatural consciousness, then we must assume that our consciousness is a material thing. Why? Because consciousness does not exist without matter. In addition, material things can prevent our consciousness from operating, or at least affect its operation. This shows that consciousness is physical, and all things that are physical take up space.

Since the "I" is physically part of the body, the "I" never really ceases to be, even after death. Death is simply when the thing changes. The chemical components of the corpse still take up space. The "I" still exists after death, just in a different form.

My opponent's argument is like saying that a river stops existing if it stops running. Not so, as the running water becoming stagnant means the river has turned into a lake. Our definitions of a river and a lake don't matter. The existence of the water molecules matter.

Similarly, when we die, our consciousness no longer runs like a river. It stays stagnant, like a lake. However, it still exists, and still has mass, and still takes up space.

SECOND: Assuming that my opponent can conclusively prove that the consciousness is a non-corporeal thing, he runs into another barrier.

That which is unnatural, supernatural, and/or non-physical, can not exist to begin with.

If something is metaphysical, it does not exist. If my opponent declares that consciousness is not subject to physical law and is separate from the physical world, then it does not exist. Something must have physical form to exist. My opponent defines this consciousness as linked to, but not equal to, the body. Since it does not exist by itself in a physical form, it could not have the choice of whether to exist or not. Thus, my opponent's entire argument is void, as he is arguing using things that do not exist.

I look forward to my opponent's response. Thank you.
Debate Round No. 2
bpcraig

Pro

I thank my opponent for his response.

It can be shown that needs imply the lack of choice. If one has to do something, he or she has no choice in the matter.

The question has become: Is taking up space a person's choice?

My opponent argues that for all we know, therefore we must assume that, the mind [self] and the body are not distinct. He further stipulates that even if it were shown that they are distinct, it would imply that the mind is non-physical, therefore the whole arguement is null and void because the mind never took up any space.

First a side point that will tie in later. We can know we have a mind, some "self" that gives perspective. Weather this is a function of the body or some metaphysical thing is not for me to say. What can be aid is that I have a mind. The mere wording of the statement proves it. It is arguably the most undoubted axiom we have.

Second, we can not assume they are not distinct, but this is a mute point. Lets assume they are not distinct, that the mind is somehow the byproduct of our body [brain]. It would have to be subject to the laws that govern all physical things. If we knew the exact state of one's brain (and the whole universe as its surroundings), and all the laws that govern subatomic and atomic interactions in that brain, we could, in theory, predict exactly what brain state follows. This is to say that if the mind is the product of the physical, then the mind is predetermined by nature. In such a paradigm, the terms "choice" and "want" are utterly meaningless. How can anyone "decide" to do one thing over another if what they will do is all ready determined? What has happened is we have thrown away the concept of free-will.

But free-will, like the "self", all too self-evident. One can not simply reduce all of his or her choices as mere illusions. How powerful an illusion it must be to turn simple cause and effect into this phenomenal sense of control we have over our minds and bodies. It is arguably another of the undoubted axioms we have.

So if free-will exists, it follows that our minds are in fact non-corporeal.

But my opponent argues that proving free-will (and the metaphysical nature of the mind) is only half the problem. He states that if the mind is non-physical, then the mind takes up no space, therefore the arguement falls apart altogether.

This claim assumes that the mind and body are utterly distinct. This is a risky assumption, and perhaps one that should be avoided. We do have a body. This body takes up space. We do have a mind. If the mind controls the body, they must be linked in someway. Therefore if the body dies, then the mind either dies, or is all that is left of the self, thus the self is reduced to an entirely non-physical thing. It's like trees. There are trees all around us, and even if we are not around a tree, they can still exist as thoughts in one's mind. But if every tree was cut down and burned, the idea of a tree could and would continue to exist, in an entirely non-physical form. So when when we ask after the trees have been cut down, "Do the trees take up space?", the answer is no, at least not in their proper sense. Further we ask, "did trees take up space at some point?" we must say yes. Are bodies are like the trees, and death cuts us down and puts us into a non-human state. What is it to be human verses non-human? Humans have minds, non-humans do not. I use the term human loosely to include any animal that may have consciousness.

So, if we have two distinct but connected parts, one being physical, one not, then if one's body dies, so does the non-physical part of that person. We can not say at a funeral that the thing in the casket IS so and so, only that they WERE so and so. It's always past tense, and even if the cadaver's body is referred to as his or hers, it is meant in the past tense. He or she is not there anymore.

What this leaves us with is two options. Either free-will is an illusion and all "choices" are needs by definition, or the mind and body are distinct but connected, thus there are no needs, only wants.

I look forward to my opponents response.
Kleptin

Con

I thank my opponent for what has been a most excellent debate and shall now conclude.

What has begun as a very simple debate has now been spun off into a discussion about the validity of free will. I would advise the audience to pay very close attention: The issue at hand is not whether free will exists, and the issue at hand in no way needs to be about free will.

However, since my opponent has decided to spin the argument off into this direction, I will address the only important part of his very long and only partially relevant response.

"Either free-will is an illusion and all "choices" are needs by definition, or the mind and body are distinct but connected, thus there are no needs, only wants."

First, I admit that I do run under the notion that there is no evidence of the mind being supernatural. As I have shown before, physical things can affect the mind, thus, we have no reason to believe that the mind is supernatural. It was my opponent's burden to prove this.

Second, my opponent has not fulfilled this burden. The closest he has come to submitting an argument dictating that the mind is somehow beyond the physical realm, is to say that free will and the mind are self evident. He says that we must assume that free will exists, because we must assume that free will exists.

(In other words, my opponent declares that free will MUST exist, because he wants to win the debate)

It is regretful that my opponent has no outstanding argument whatsoever for his claim, besides the fact that he would really, really, really like for it to be the case. Thus, we must discard this request as he has no evidence for this claim, and we must discard the following parts of his argument that run under the assumption that we have given in to his pleas out of sympathy.

***********

Now, we move away from distractions and back towards the key issue, my opponent wished to prove conclusively that needs do not exist.

My only argument, plain and simple, is that existent things need to exist.

The definition of existence is that a concept has an actual physical tie in this world, something that my opponent was trying to bypass by going off on an irrelevant tangent about the mind and the brain, one that I tried to correct by showing how it was irrelevant. Apparently, I instead have confused my opponent.

My opponent's argument was essentially that things that exist, don't need to exist.

The definition of a "need" is something that is required for existence.

Thus, any conversation about non-existence is absurd.

If a library card is required to borrow books, and some people choose not to borrow books, this does not mean that library cards are not required.

Similarly, if things must exist in order to exist, the fact that some things act to cease existing has nothing to do with whether or not there is a need for existence.

My opponent's entire argument was based on a misinterpreted and fallacious argument by semantics, and it has led him into a dead end.

Since he has not upheld his burden, the resolution is negated. I thank my opponent for this debate, and the audience for their participation.

Until next time :)
Debate Round No. 3
15 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Logical-Master 7 years ago
Logical-Master
Of course, it's all admittedly semantical nonsense, thus no need to bust a blood vessel over. :)
Posted by Logical-Master 7 years ago
Logical-Master
Nah, if a human being does not get water, a human being dies. Humans being alive isn't necessary. If they were removed from the planet right now, the planet would keep thriving. More importantly, existence would continue. The problem with your position is that it assumes there is any necessity to fulfill one's wants; the condition you cite is optional rather than necessary.
Posted by TheSkeptic 7 years ago
TheSkeptic
Even with human beings, needs exist. You may want water because you want to live, but because you want to fulfill the end of living, water will become a necessary condition for the obtainment of that end - it becomes a need to satisfy your wants.
Posted by Logical-Master 7 years ago
Logical-Master
Voted for Kleptin. I'll post a more expounding RFD if necessary, but the point is that PRO should have restricted this debate to living human beings or argue a stricter definition of need. Without it, there is really nothing stopping Kleptin's "existent things need to exist."
Posted by tBoonePickens 7 years ago
tBoonePickens
Roy,
I thought that vacuum force was not created but rather transformed? That would violate thermodynamics.
Posted by wonderwoman 7 years ago
wonderwoman
I can read I know this
Posted by Kleptin 7 years ago
Kleptin
Founded upon the assumption that we need to stay alive, which my opponent is arguing against :P
Posted by wonderwoman 7 years ago
wonderwoman
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
Posted by Kleptin 7 years ago
Kleptin
I feel guilty using semantic arguments against people for their first debate, so I tried a different route this time.
Posted by RoyLatham 7 years ago
RoyLatham
The Professor's error was semantic. A "need" is a "want" that is also necessary for survival. The idea that a person does not "need" air misunderstands what it means to "need" something.

It would have been better if Con had taken on the semantic error in the original assertion, rather than introduce the "need to take up space" argument, but I guess it suffices.

Incidentally, current theory is that new energy is being created continually as the universe expands, in the form of vacuum energy.
13 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by Kleptin 7 years ago
Kleptin
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