The Instigator
ZebramZee
Pro (for)
Losing
1 Points
The Contender
Galal
Con (against)
Winning
2 Points

There is No Such Thing as 'Right' or 'Wrong.'

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
Galal
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/7/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,082 times Debate No: 41856
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (2)
Votes (1)

 

ZebramZee

Pro

I will seek to argue the point that 'right' and 'wrong' in a moral sense do not exist. My opponent will have to argue the opposite. In the first round, my opponent will accept the challenge, and then in the second round, we will start the arguments.
Galal

Con

I here by accept your argument.
Debate Round No. 1
ZebramZee

Pro

I argue that morality does not exist. This includes both Objective as well as Subjective Morality. In other words, there are no universal moral rules (Objective morality). There also exists no personal views on morality (Subjective morality), meaning what we call moral intuitions, or moral feelings are a misinterpretation of other emotions.

Before we begin the argument, we must define the terms "moral" and "immoral." I will define them in the way they are commonly used in our society.

Terms like "right," "wrong," "moral," and "immoral" define actions. We would say "murder is immoral." Here, the term immoral means that the described action is something we "should not do." Something laudable, or "moral" is something we "should do." This is important because other words are often used to describe actions. For example, an action may "bring the maximum happiness" or be "harmful" or "beneficial." None of these words have the same definition as the terms "moral" or "immoral." Therefore, we cannot simply show that an action is beneficial to determine whether it is moral. We must then make the connection between something being beneficial and something being moral.

I will make three main arguments:

I argue that there is no such thing as actions being "moral" or "immoral," though there are such things as being "kind" or "unkind," for example. I argue this based on two arguments. One is that we have no conception of what it means for something to be "moral" or "immoral." In other words, there is no such thing as what we call a "conscience." And second, that there is no such thing as free will, and therefore morality as we know it does not exist. Thus, these two arguments say that there is no such thing as subjective morality.

I also argue that we cannot know what is truly "moral" or "immoral," if such things do exist, based on the influence of evolution and natural selection, or atleast that they are not the same for all of us. Therefore, this argument says there is no such thing as objective morality.

1.
Free will is a necessary aspect of what we call morality. We do not ascribe moral qualities to actions carried out by robots, computers, etc. Even if they have consciousness, the inability to choose for themselves removes any moral qualities from their actions. There is no evidence that we humans have free will either. Our belief in our free will is based on our own thoughts that we do, which gives us the illusion of free will. But this is unreliable because we are not conscious of all our brain activity. We do not perceive all the internal calculations carried out in our brain and thus do not understand how actually come about to the decision to perform certain actions over others. We do not consider other objects in the universe created out of the same elements as our brain, such a computer, to have free will, no matter how complex. When a computer commits an "error," we do not ascribe that to the computer acquiring free will. We blame it on a bug in the software or a hardware failure. As the brain is constructed from the same basic elements as a computer, it is likely that the brain is restricted in the same way that a computer is. It is possible that certain organizations of matter (our brain) have transcendental properties, but that is all, a possibility. The simplest solution in the absence of evidence is that the brain acts the same as a computer, without free will. And thus no morality, subjective or objective in nature.

2.
I argue we have no "conscience." For subjective morality to exist, one must have what are commonly called "moral intuitions" or "moral feelings." Morality cannot be described in terms of matter or energy, meaning in the material world. The only access we have to its knowledge is possibly through our internal emotions.

For example, you may say "Murder is wrong." I will say "how do you know?" You might say "Because it hurts people." I will say "How do you know that"s wrong?" You may say "Because people"s lives are sacred." Whatever the line of reasoning you take, you will not take it to infinity. That is impossible, as such reasonings are illegitimate for the same reason circular logic is not legit, as well as that you have not lived for infinity amount of time, so that cannot be why you think it is wrong. At some point in your line of reasoning, you will stop and have a gut feeling or emotion that whatever you just mentioned is just wrong. This is called a moral intuition, and is what people base what they believe is right or wrong on.

I argue there is no such thing as moral intuitions. This will be the weakest part of my argument, only because I cannot look inside other people"s minds, and thus is the hardest to actually examine. This will also be the hardest for you to refute as well, however, since neither can you look inside people"s minds.

My argument is based on the apparent non-universality of what we call morality. Early explorers to the Polynesian islands encountered villagers who employed a concept called tapu, critically different from our conception of morality. Tapu was a type of uncleanliness that came over a person from other objects or through his actions, such as insulting others. The islanders did not have a conception of one committing actions that intrinsically "should not be done." The concept of tapu meant only that filth would cover that person that had to be removed through rituals involving washing. Tapu and our concept of morality are thus different in that way, though they may serve the same end purpose.

So how to explain our society"s concept of morality? Here"s what I propose. We have other emotions that are triggered in response to seeing someone perform a certain action, such as murder. These may be anger, sadness, horror, disgust, empathy, etc. In other words, other emotions apart from a "moral emotion." Over time, when we are children, through the actions of parents, society, etc, we learn to associate certain concepts such as right and wrong with certain of these emotions in certain situations. The Polynesians at the time did not have such a lifelong education and thus did not associate any such moral concepts with their internal emotions. Instead, they learned to associate this concept of tapu, or a type of ungodly uncleanliness with their internal emotions.

3.
So what explains the widespread negative reactions in most societies to actions that are "destructive" and our elation of various sorts, whether of the moral or tapu variety to "beneficial" or "healthy" actions? This concordance is often attributed to the beneficial effects of such belief systems to the survival and thriving of societies, whether through the actions of natural selection or cultural "evolution." This is often mentioned as support for the reality of morality. I will argue that this is incorrect, and that further, this is in contradiction with objective morality.

Objective morality means that the correct moral rules are unchanging. In other words, the validity of an action being moral or immoral is not dependent on the person/creature performing the action.

Based on our assumptions, evolution and natural selection have selected for certain "morals" based on their beneficial or detrimental nature. If so, then different groups of people or animals have had different emotional reactions towards the same exact action in the exact same situation, yet one had the most beneficial reaction and survived while the other groups died off. It may be argued that therefore the best group survived. But the best group has been selected for by evolution, an inherently biased process which selects those who maximize survival and reproductive fitness. This is an arbitrary criteria. In addition, multiple groups could thrive and survive at the same time with vary different sets of moral guidelines, and still do today. While people generally do not advocate the eating or killing of children (atleast in theory), many other species do exactly that. A male lion will kill all small lion children when taking over a kingdom because it has apparently been selected for. If rape or infanticide was "beneficial" towards the overall survival of a group, it would have been selected for as well.

It may be argued that we still would not commit such acts because we could use our "reason" to understand that such actions are wrong. But reason can only be used to create consistency between one"s already existing moral intuitions/emotions. If rape/infanticide were selected for by natural selection yet the rest of our morality remained the same, we may be able to correct through reason. However, if natural selection had altered not only our emotions towards rape/infanticide but a whole host of other actions, then that is no longer possible.
Galal

Con

Based on the definitions your provided, regarding 'moral', 'immoral', 'right and wrong' I will carry on my argument. I find the argument to be rather interesting. Humans have tackled this subject since the dawn of Philosophy. Socrates first posed question about Ethics, and what is the right thing to do. The notion of morals and values is very subjective and it may vary from one person to the other, could even vary among societies and generations. That being said, I would like to pin point my arguments that I will be introducing during the third and fourth round.

1. Morality and freedom?

2. Morality and Instinct.

3. How would humanity thrive without the notion of ethics?

4. How my actions affect the society?

What is moral and immoral?

I would firstly like to criticize your example regarding the brain being similar to a computer, which upon so you stated that the human-self lacks free will. And as far as I understood you were poking around the idea of our very existence, because we cannot prove that we really ‘exist’. With all do respect, this is absurd. I do exist, everyone breathing and rationalizing on this world does exist, and as Rene Descartes quotes ‘I think, therefore I am’. I believe that entertaining the idea of inexistence is unrealistic. There is enough evidence to prove my existence, along with the existence of morality. I am free, I have the free will to debate this or to simply walk away, I have the free will watch the outcomes of my actions and choices. Simply dismissing the thought of free will means that you have lack the ability to reason, and you are just programmed to follow certain beliefs. That being said I will build my argument upon such facts, and I challenge you to prove that humans are not free if you want to over throw this theory. I find your example to be quite unfitting. Now as we return back to the main topic.

What is moral and immoral? Based on the definition you provided us with, moral are actions that are good in their nature. Moral actions do not have to provide a positive impact in order to be perceived as good. And of course vice versa.

But what is ‘good or bad’?

In my understanding, good and bad is a universal-term regarding the impacts of actions/words on humanity itself. Of course these terms are introduced through religious views, philosophy and reasoning. Yet we will dismiss all the other factors and rely on our own logic.

Consider a man, this man exists. One day the man gets ambushed by another man, and is unfortunately murdered. The man did not commit any wrong to his murderer what so ever. Yet he lost his life, he lost free will, he lost the chance to see his life through. The murderer practically deprived him of everything. The question here is not whether this is moral or immoral, the question here is what ‘right’ does the murderer have to take his life along with his freedom? Rights have to be earned, just like a lion has the right of eating his prey, because he earned through effort. We are very much alike the same case, we do earn a lot of our own personal rights through existence and rationalizing. Abusing these sanction of rights would be considered unfair and thus not moral. You can simply measure with a man that chooses to get on a plane without pay no ticket, he did not earn his right on that plane, and thus his doing is wrong confined by our policies and laws. So, confined by the laws of nature this man has no right in murdering his victim. You do not see animals hunting down their own species, and if they do get into a quarrel they are most following their instinct. They will be either hording on someone else’s prey or protecting their own/territory. Yet they are animals with lower class of intelligence, we on the other hand humans we are the smartest species living on this planet, and it is this code. The moral code that separates us from becoming savages. Yes, we did create morality through reason and it very much exists. Just like a painter who has a vision of an artistic idea, he then chooses into bringing it to life through effort and mental construction. Morality is that painting and we are the painters of our own reason.

More will be covered in the next round.




Debate Round No. 2
ZebramZee

Pro

ZebramZee forfeited this round.
Galal

Con

Galal forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
ZebramZee

Pro

My opponent"s remarks in his latest post are very interesting. However, I do not believe he has sufficiently answered any of the three arguments I have put forward in his post. I find it hard to follow his reasoning and how his remarks serve to undermine my arguments in any aspect. I will go through his post and comment on them. In addition, I look forward to the 5 arguments he stated he will be presenting.

"And as far as I understood you were poking around the idea of our very existence, because we cannot prove that we really "exist". With all do respect, this is absurd."

I have no objection to the idea that we exist, and I did not suggest that we do not exist in my argument on free will. The argument was solely about free will, not about existence.

"Simply dismissing the thought of free will means that you have lack the ability to reason, and you are just programmed to follow certain beliefs. That being said I will build my argument upon such facts, and I challenge you to prove that humans are not free if you want to over throw this theory. I find your example to be quite unfitting."

I was wondering why do you believe my example of the brain as a computer is unfitting? I believe I provided enough of an explanation to explain my position and why I find the analogy to be appropriate.

"Now as we return back to the main topic."

I argue that free will is central to our concept of morality and is part of the main topic. Without it, there is no morality, as we do not blame "inanimate objects" for actions they may perform, as they do not choose what they do.

Regarding the anecdote at the end of the post:

"The question here is not whether this is moral or immoral, the question here is what "right" does the murderer have to take his life along with his freedom?"

These two questions are one and the same. The question of "rights" is an aspect of morality.

"You do not see animals hunting down their own species"

In fact this is not true. It is standard operating procedure for male lions to kill all baby lions previously existing when they take over a pride.

"Yet they are animals with lower class of intelligence, we on the other hand humans we are the smartest species living on this planet, and it is this code . . . Yes, we did create morality through reason and it very much exists."

How intelligent an animal is is not important with regards to what moral intuitions, or moral feelings one has, for we do not derive our "morals" from reason alone as I had outlined in my 2nd argument.
Galal

Con

My opponent has failed to sustain his refutes with any solid arguments and instead all I heard was 'No, I am right'. Not to mention that my opponent has failed to refute the ideology of our morals coming to existence through acts and deeds, they are born into the realm of existence when they are transferred from our subjective world, the world of our thoughts simply when we decide to act on those thoughts, then they do very much exist in our materialistic realm. As for the Lions slaughtering the younger ones phenomena, this is only to show dominance and proclaim the land is their own along with the tribe. However you are saying that animals as well are of hunting their own which contradicts my proposition isn't that correct? Well by doing so you are unintentionally agreeing that Morality extends to animals as well? And if you don't mean it in such manner, and I am sure you did not. Animals in the end are not of reasoning like ourselves. They are savage, only driven by survival of the fittest? So what separates us from them? What separates us from groveling around in tribes and hunting one another, maybe even cannibalism? It's in my sound reasoning that the answer lies within the 'Moral Code'.

But from my understanding, my opponent says that we do not have free will, and Morality does not derive from reason alone That is true, Morality maybe not derived from solely logic but they are based on sound logical foundation. I challenge you to find any logical flaws with 'murder or rape' an immoral act. And as for your 'fitting example' You can not compare a human being with a machine that is limited with choices and say that we both are a like, sharing this aspect. Just because you provide an example and believe it is fitting does not make it any of such. I believe that it is not applicable pose such comparison simply because computer unlike humans experience no emotions. If we did not experience emotions we would not have laws, no moral code and finally no 'moral intuition' which you simply dismissed ever so casually without having solid proof. If you can not read people's minds then how do you know it does not exist? And if so, it just shows that you want to impose negative points regardless of their own clarity. I argue that you pick your arguments more carefully in the future as this simply weakens your position. I for one can tell you that moral intuition, exists within my world? I would like to see you refute that. And if you can't disprove moral intuition existence, then it is more likely that Moral and Immoral actions do exist. But if you still think that Moral intuition does not exist well I will provide you with a brief experiment, please view it.

In their 2003 article, Wicker and his group described the results of a Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) study in which experimental subjects were asked to inhale odorants selected to produce strong feelings of disgust. The same subjects were also asked to observe video clips of other individuals exhibiting or showing the facial expression of disgust. The scientists reported that the same sites in the anterior insula (and to a lesser extent in the anterior cingulate cortex) were activated both when the experimental subjects themselves experienced disgust and when they observed the filmed expressions of disgust on the faces of others.6 The researchers therefore concluded in reference to the mirror-neuron matching system that, “just as observing hand actions activates the observer’s motor representation of that action, observing an emotion activates the neural representation of that emotion. This finding provides a unifying mechanism for understanding the behavior of others” (“BUD,” 655). The study by Wicker and his team has generated considerable interest in the neuroscientific community (a recent Google search indicates that the paper has now been cited in over 900 research articles). In subsequent publications, Rizzolatti, Gallese, Keysers and others have cited Wicker et al.’s experiment on disgust as confirming the idea that there is a common neural basis for emotional empathy.7The experiment by Wicker and his group has also provided confirming evidence for Alvin I. Goldman’s influential approach to the “problem of other minds.” In his 2006 book, Simulating Minds, Goldman begins his review of the empirical evidence supportive of his Simulation Theory of mindreading by focusing on the “low-level” task of recognizing the emotional expressions of others because, as he observes with reference to the findings of Wicker et al. and those of others, the case for simulation here is “very substantial.”8




Now, Morality and Instinct!

You have dismissed the idea of morality associating I believe and that is why I would like to propose yet another phenomena. And this one involves crows. The funny thing about this one in particular is that you can not find anything to associate this with but Moral Reasoning, that is through the idea of motherhood and how it is no different with our less intellectual peers. Humans and animals alike share the ideology of motherhood even though they share little of our capability to reason. Yet they feel morally obliged to nurture their young ones until they are capable of looking out for themselves (Hence, Moral intuition). And also riddle me this? Why is dog man's best friend? What drives dog's to feel such loyalty towards a different spices. If you want my opinion I do think it is associated with any primal or survival roots. Dogs enjoy the company of man and expect nothing in return. There are many other examples, those are but two I provide regarding this topic.



In other words, Religion did not give us Morality but was a mere guidance for us order to use and acknowledge it's existence. Because if you think about it? How can religion provide us with something we did not already have. (If flight was introduced in any of the religions, would you argue that we can fly, unlike morality it is high wired into our biopsychological system)


SOURCE:

http://nonsite.org...
Debate Round No. 4
ZebramZee

Pro

"My opponent has failed to sustain his refutes with any solid arguments and instead all I heard was 'No, I am right'. Not to mention that my opponent has failed to refute the ideology of our morals . . . "

First, my arguments were already presented in the previous post. I presented three arguments with explanations. First, that there is no reason to believe we have any more free will than a computer. Second, the non-existence of a "conscience" based on the example of a culture that has not been raised and conditioned from birth to accept the concept of "morality" in the sense that we speak of it. And third, evolution and natural selection as the basis of the non-existence of an objective morality.

For my third argument, it appears that you already agree with me when you say "The notion of morals and values is very subjective and it may vary from one person to the other, could even vary among societies and generations." This denotes that you also believe moral rules are not objective, meaning necessarily the same between different individuals.
For my first argument, you stated "I am free, I have the free will to debate this or to simply walk away, I have the free will watch the outcomes of my actions and choices. Simply dismissing the thought of free will means that you have lack the ability to reason, and you are just programmed to follow certain beliefs." and "I challenge you to prove that humans are not free if you want to over throw this theory. I find your example to be quite unfitting." The first quote of yours was simply a statement saying you disagree with my position, and the second statement simply states that you found my example unfitting. You did not say why there is any reason to believe we have more free will than a computer, you simply stated that we do. I already provided an explanation as to why I hold this position, in short, that we are both constructed from the same substance, that is atoms and molecules, and we have discovered physical laws that govern them. We apply this to everything else, and there is no evidence to suggest that we are different. Thus, in the absence of evidence a difference between us and other matter in the world, we must consider ourselves to be governed by the same laws.

Now, in your latest post, you did attempt to answer this by stating "I believe that it is not applicable pose such comparison simply because computer unlike humans experience no emotions." But this is a misunderstanding of the argument. My example regarding computers was solely about free will, not whether or not they have emotions. The two are mutually exclusive. Whether computers have emotions or not is immaterial to the argument of whether they have free will.

"As for the Lions slaughtering the younger ones phenomena, this is only to show dominance and proclaim the land is their own along with the tribe."

Sure, but is this not the same motivation for many humans as well that you label as immoral?

"Animals in the end are not of reasoning like ourselves. They are savage, only driven by survival of the fittest?"

But you do not know this. And if we have all descended from a common ancestor, why do you assume only one small branch of the evolutionary tree, namely humans, have the characteristic of morality and others don't? It seems improbable.

"Morality does not derive from reason alone That is true, Morality maybe not derived from solely logic but they are based on sound logical foundation. I challenge you to find any logical flaws with 'murder or rape' an immoral act."

I provided an explanation for this in the 2nd paragraph of my 2nd argument in the original post. Morality is not based on a logical foundation. The foundation of "morals" is in emotional reactions to events or actions that you see around you. The logic part comes in only to extrapolate from your emotional reactions or to make contradictory emotional reactions that you may have consistent. Logic and emotion serve separate purposes in "moral" reasoning. Emotions are the foundation. Logic is used to extrapolate from this foundation. Thus, your challenge to find "logical flaws" with murder or rape as immoral does not make sense.

". . . and finally no 'moral intuition' which you simply dismissed ever so casually without having solid proof. If you can not read people's minds then how do you know it does not exist?"

In fact I provided evidence as per the example of many Polynesian peoples who did not share the feelings of "moral intutions." They were not raised in an environment that conditioned them with moral beliefs of the same kind.

"In their 2003 article, Wicker and his group described the results of a Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) study"

This is a very interesting article, but in no way proves morality of any kind. What it proves is the existence of empathy. The definition of empathy is "is the capacity to recognize emotions that are being experienced by another sentient or fictional being." The definition of morality is "The quality of being in accord with standards of right or good conduct." These are two different definitions, and thus you cannot simply demonstrate proof of empathy and then say you are demonstrating a proof of morality. This is precisely what I stated in the intro to my prior post where I stated "For example, an action may "bring the maximum happiness" or be "harmful" or "beneficial." None of these words have the same definition as the terms "moral" or "immoral." Therefore, we cannot simply show that an action is beneficial to determine whether it is moral. We must then make the connection between something being beneficial and something being moral."

"Yet they feel morally obliged to nurture their young ones until they are capable of looking out for themselves (Hence, Moral intuition)."

There is no "hence, moral intuition." Once again, what you have described is "compassion" or "kindness." Whether compassion and kindness and nurturing is good or bad or neutral from a moral perspective is the question, not whether or not compassion and kindness exist. You have not answered this question, you have merely put "hence, moral intuition" without any explanation or evidence of any kind that compassion is truly moral.
Galal

Con

I shall not provide further arguments, as I find your refutes to be naive and unsubstantial. That being said, It is pointless to argue with someone who does not argue with a valid case. And is quite content by refuting argument without giving solid reasons, since I find all your refutes to be merely opinions not logical fallacies. You have a good day sir.

MY OPPONENTS ARGUMENT IN A NUTSHELL:

1. Opponent argues that we have no free will.

2. That everything is subject and there is not such thing as right or wrong.

3. He provided with an unfitting example and considered it fitting regardless of my counter proposal.

4. Thinks that examples such as 'motherhood' is not a 'moral' act but an act of 'Compassion and Kindness'
I find his argument to be somewhat paradoxical, yet I will leave judgement to the audience.

5. People code of morality is based on their environment and how they were raised, yet he does not approve of the universal law of morality, or rather the principle.


MY SIDE OF REASONING:

1. That morality is somehow linked to basic instinct

2. That through reasoning a universal principle of morality can be acquired, even though it maybe subjective from one person to the other, the basic are universal in their essence.

3. I provided an example of both how morality comes into the materialistic word through our words and actions, along with the the undeniable fact of motherhood and how morality is interlinked with instinct.

4. Then I proved through an experiment I provided that his so called 'Moral intuition' does exist and it is called 'Empathy'

5. And finally I showed through an example of my own that free will does exist and upon it you can base the whole foundation of morality as a principle


to be honest I did not enjoy arguing with you, as you did not provide but three weak arguments, that you spent the entire round fortifying them and saying that you are right even though it is all a matter of a subjectivity you still proclaim that you are objectively right. Riddle me this.

I would like to give you an advice for further use, with all do respect this is what I thought of your position.

“Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.”
R13; Mark Twain

Thank you.
Debate Round No. 5
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by supershamu 3 years ago
supershamu
That is true. What gets mixed up a lot is the difference between "good" and "good." That is "good" as in beneficial or "good" as in morally good. They do not always match up
Posted by abyteofbrain 3 years ago
abyteofbrain
From a secular perspective, it would make sense to say that there is no moral standard. Many atheists believe that morality should be defined as what's good for humanity, however, people can't accurately judge that, which makes this make little sense. Religion is the most logical reason for morality.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by NiqashMotawadi3 3 years ago
NiqashMotawadi3
ZebramZeeGalalTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:--Vote Checkmark3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:12 
Reasons for voting decision: Sources go to Con because he was the only one who used sources. S&G go to Pro because of Con's grammatical mistakes such as using "refutes" as a noun instead of "refutations." Although Pro forfeited a round, Con implied that he was a "fool" in the last round and attacked him personally which means that I'm going to leave the conduct tied. When it comes to arguments, both participants failed to prove or disprove the existence of morality. It seems to me that Con did not understand most of Pro's arguments while Pro used many strong assertions without any proof. For instance, when he claimed that "free will doesn't exist" when the rational position to take is agnosticism on the existence of free will if we don't have proof for its existence. I expected Pro to make more substantial arguments that are grounded on evidence/experiments, but I only got a surge of baseless and strong assertions on morality. Hence, I'm leaving the arguments tied as both sides seem to have made weak arguments.