The Instigator
Conor
Pro (for)
Winning
18 Points
The Contender
Ragnar_Rahl
Con (against)
Losing
14 Points

There is no Reason to be "Good"

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 7 votes the winner is...
Conor
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/27/2009 Category: Society
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,348 times Debate No: 9850
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (15)
Votes (7)

 

Conor

Pro

I am arguing that there is no ultimate reason behind morality like there is behind things of science. Thus, I am also assuming that there are no moral truths, or no a priori morality, so no guideline or ideal to which we might compare ourselves.
So take note, I don't mean that there IS a reason to be BAD, I just titled the debate to imply a hopeless lack of morality in our world, or reason for morality, rather.

"Good"--describing action or deliberation that is compassionate or done towards the well being of another (please don't try to find loopholes in this definition and make it into a semantics argument where you can trick me into losing. Only point out a semantical issue if you deem it completely necessary to your understanding of what I'm trying to convey with this definition.

Burden of Proof:
The BoP lies on the one who says there IS a reason to be good, or that there IS a higher, objective morality.

Sidenote:
I'm not doing this because I'm some nihilist who hates everyone; I've just yet to be satisfied with a strong rebuttal to this statement, and I'm hoping someone can refute this statement so that I can actually have hope in morality
Ragnar_Rahl

Con

Normally, I would never touch your definition of good. It's frankly a icky and incomplete one-- and to be honest i didn't notice it when I took the debate, I kinda skimmed over that part. Nevertheless, there is a perfectly good reason to engage in such behavior-- it encourages reciprocation. Other things equal, one who seeks their own benefit should benefit others in order to encourage such reciprocation-- and most people do desire to live (those that don't are not in this discussion as death is what happens when one does not pursue life, except in rare and extreme cases of hospitalization).
Other things may not be always equal, but a reason existing to do a thing does not necessarily mean a reason that is applicable in every instance. If I can just as easily with my foot push the book you just dropped on the ground towards you, as I can push it into a mud puddle, or jump over it, I'd do well to notice that you'll like the first option best of those and will probably thus be most inclined to benefit me in the future and least inclined to harm me, especially if I know nothing else about you.

I really need to read R1s more carefully. *chuckles*.
Debate Round No. 1
Conor

Pro

Although I agree that most people do want to live, for the sake of this debate we must include everybody; I'm not looking for the practical reason to be good in order to increase personal pleasure, because that assumption just leads to the question--Why seek pleasure? Why try to receive comfort in life? My point is, there is no reason for anything, and real fact is the only thing we can have faith in (like math and science).
So why be good? What's the reason for getting reciprocation? Why should be pursue personal happiness?
I realize that, in reality, we do feel one way or another, but there's no higher ethical or moral reason for it; we have altruistic tendencies because of evolution, but I'm asking why we SHOULD indulge in that kind of behavior. You would answer, 'Because it's reciprocated,' but I'm asking, why should we want reciprocation? There is no should, only what IS.
Ragnar_Rahl

Con

:Although I agree that most people do want to live, for the sake of this debate we must include everybody;
Why?
Keep in mind most of those excluded are dead.

:I'm not looking for the practical reason to be good in order to increase personal pleasure
You said "a reason."

:because that assumption just leads to the question--Why seek pleasure?
No particular reason (note that "pleasure" is not a precise synonym for the goal I outlined). That's arbitrary, and there is nothing particularly wrong with that. Do you, or don't you? If so, you're hooked-- you have your reason, resulting from this primary choice in your life. If not-- what do you seek? You seek something, this is clear, for you have willingly acted to debate this with me.

Note that whether the reason applies to you is merely a side issue, the fact remains that the reason applies to someone and therefore is a reason.

:I realize that, in reality, we do feel one way or another, but there's no higher ethical or moral reason for it
This is trivial. One's chosen primary goal IS the highest reason in the conception of ethics I've based my argument upon. Of course there is no reason that determines the highest reason, that would be a contradiction. Humans don't live forever, especially backwards, so you start somewhere or not at all. Clearly you've chosen to start, so outline the somewhere or be guilty of a contradiction.

:we have altruistic tendencies because of evolution
Altruism is a rather separate issue from MERE compassion. As the coiner of altruism, Comte, had it, altruism was holding others as one's highest standard-- the other-concerned action I've outlined is a mere means to a selfish end.

:but I'm asking why we SHOULD indulge in that kind of behavior.
"Should" is a word that has meaning within the context of a primary choice. You choose to live-- therefore, take the course of action that best aids it, which, other things equal, will help others too. If you choose something else, then perhaps you shouldn't, depends what it is, but for the rest of us, the fact remains that we should given the context of the primary choice we've made.

:why should we want reciprocation?
We neither should nor shouldn't. Either your goal calls for it or it does not (that is, ultimately, consistently speaking, either you do want it or you don't) . Many goals do. The goal is arbitrary. Reality dictates how it is best achieved once chosen however. Since such choices are made, a reason exists for actions you would call "good."
Debate Round No. 2
Conor

Pro

I think I understand what you're saying:
So once a goal is agreed upon or settled upon by someone (i.e. I want to live and/or seek pleasure, etc.), then reasons for acting in a certain way can be valid and are (to a certain extent) objective, as long as you don't demand a reason for that original goal, because, as you said, the goal is arbitrary and doesn't require a "should," it's just reality: either you do or you don't.
Is that what you mean?

I guess my internal "cognitive dissonance" concerns the fact that there is no reason to the statement "I seek pleasure" or "I choose to live": they're merely arbitrary statements about reality that don't require a reason, because you either feel this way or you don't....For some reason this troubles me, because it seems ethics, once faced with a certain statement, asks no further questions. Like you said, "One's chosen primary goal IS the highest reason in the conception of ethics..."

"Altruism is a rather separate issue from MERE compassion. As the coiner of altruism, Comte, had it, altruism was holding others as one's highest standard-- the other-concerned action I've outlined is a mere means to a selfish end."
My mistake; altruism usually implies unconditional compassion or the sacrifice of one's well being for the benefit of another, which is unlike the self-interested morality that you proposed. I am incorrect in labeling that altruism.
To tie this point with the overall statement, I guess if one feels, or their 'arbitrary goal' is that the benefit of other living things (humans) precedes their own, then THAT is the reason for acting altruistically, or the "highest reason" for acting altruistically.

So, with this being said, I guess you can't argue over morality until each side agrees on a few common, or shared, assumptions, from which point they can then reason with each other, with this ultimate, arbitrary goal in mind.

I am aware this hardly resembles a debate anymore; I apologize if you feel I have wasted your time. I am now satisfied (and at the same time slightly disappointed in a way) with reasons for being "good."

Thanks. Any final statements?
Ragnar_Rahl

Con

"
Is that what you mean?"
Yes.

:For some reason this troubles me, because it seems ethics, once faced with a certain statement, asks no further questions.
Well, sometimes there aren't any questions to ask. There are plenty of other areas to go after if one likes questions :).

:To tie this point with the overall statement, I guess if one feels, or their 'arbitrary goal' is that the benefit of other living things (humans) precedes their own, then THAT is the reason for acting altruistically, or the "highest reason" for acting altruistically.
Yes. This is true and would provide another such reason. A reason that incidentally wants me to stay the hell away from this person because I have no idea which others they'll pick and I can hardly threaten someone selfless. :)

:So, with this being said, I guess you can't argue over morality until each side agrees on a few common, or shared, assumptions
Again, yes. As a practical matter this tends to be trivial, you can usually find something ;).

:I am aware this hardly resembles a debate anymore; I apologize if you feel I have wasted your time.
If I found the notion of people figuring out why I hold a given stance beneficial to my goals, it would hardly be consistent of me to consider it a waste of time when they did--
And it would hardly be consistent of me to debate if I didn't.
Debate Round No. 3
15 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by nonentity 7 years ago
nonentity
"Strictly speaking, there are reasons to be good, but they are not logically satisfying."

I can think of at least one logical and 'scientific' reason, and that would be enough for Con to win!
Posted by Guy_In_Mi 7 years ago
Guy_In_Mi
I tend to look at things rather simplistically. Maybe that will be why I won't debate well at this site. Whether we agree on what is moral really isn't the issue, there can be a benefit to just about anything.

Con gets my vote here.
Posted by Conor 7 years ago
Conor
Correction:
"...why should *we* pursue personal happiness?..."
Posted by Vi_Veri 7 years ago
Vi_Veri
Oh gawed.... I'm counting on you, Ragnar, to make this guy come to his senses lol I'm sure you wont let me down ; )
Posted by TheSkeptic 7 years ago
TheSkeptic
Conor, a better framed resolution should say that there is no intrinsically motivating aspect of morality - THAT I find to be a major problem of ethics ;P.
Posted by Ragnar_Rahl 7 years ago
Ragnar_Rahl
*an* icky and incomplete.
Posted by wonderwoman 7 years ago
wonderwoman
be good where it counts lol
Posted by Xer 7 years ago
Xer
Yes?
Posted by Conor 7 years ago
Conor
Nags?
Posted by Xer 7 years ago
Xer
There are countless reasons to be good, but I'll let R_R give his argument first.
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Vote Placed by GeorgeCarlinWorshipper 7 years ago
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Vote Placed by Conor 7 years ago
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Vote Placed by Rezzealaux 7 years ago
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