The Instigator
Cody_Franklin
Pro (for)
Winning
13 Points
The Contender
headphonegut
Con (against)
Losing
2 Points

There is no compelling reason to believe that objective moral facts exist.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
Cody_Franklin
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/22/2011 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 6,362 times Debate No: 16630
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (22)
Votes (4)

 

Cody_Franklin

Pro

Introduction

The only definition necessary is of "objective moral fact": a moral truth (e.g. "human life is morally valuable", "theft is wrong", etc. which is independent of the human mind and is categorically binding. An example of an objective non-moral fact is the equation 2 + 2 = 4. Even if there are no minds around to grasp and process this fact, it remains true. The DDO community has heard me debate nihilism again and again, however, and I trust that my meaning is understood (i.e. that no semantic arguments will be employed). Whether there is a "compelling reason" to believe in the existence of moral facts, while up to the voters, must be determined on the basis of arguments presented here, rather than on the ethical leanings of each voter.

The position I'll be defending is Moral Nihilism, which expresses the proposition that moral facts do not exist. My opponent, on the other hand, will be defending the opposite proposition--that objective moral facts do exist. He may use any theory he pleases (e.g. utilitarianism, deontology, virtue ethics) to support his argument.

The nihilistic argument is three-pronged: we'll look at normative contingency, the presupposition problem, and the subjective value problem.

1. Normative contingency

This is pretty straightforward. Normative contingency simply asserts that our moral judgments and normative theories are all contingent on whatever our ethical values happen to be. This is a fact which most everyone acknowledges; however, if we consistently apply this concept, we also see that moral values are themselves contingent, usually on one's psychological states, personal interests, etc, and cannot therefore be regarded as objectively morally binding.

I should point out that, though this argument may perhaps look similar to a fallacious appeal to motive, I'm not discrediting moral propositions on the basis of values being psychologically or emotionally motivated: I'm discrediting such propositions on the basis of values being fundamentally arbitrary propositions. There's no objective reason to assume that human life is morally valuable any more than there is a reason to assume that universal death is the ultimate value--such things are simply assertions which must be assumed in order to build a moral theory. Being assumptions, fundamental moral principles--upon which all secondary moral "facts" are contingent--are merely taken for granted (often collectively, as in the case of first principles such as "human life is valuable), rather than logically defended. Given that fundamental moral values are necessary arbitrary assertions, and therefore contingent on some subjective mental process, the nihilist position appears already to have a strong foothold.

2. Presupposition problem

This is also a fairly brief argument which merely points out that anyone arguing for moral truth must necessarily presuppose the existence of objective moral facts in order to assert their existence, which leads to placing an unwarranted degree of necessity upon their existence. To even say that "murder is wrong" implies that objectively-binding values exist. This unspoken implication is the presupposition that, rather than discussing the issue of moral truth, we must take the existence of external values for granted so that we may commit ourselves to the sole task of determining the identity of such values.


To clear up any confusion, this differs from normative contingency in that the contingency problem addresses the specific identity of values (and the issue of their arbitrary nature), while the presupposition problem obviously addresses the presupposition that such values do exist in the first place, regardless of their particular identities.

3. Subjective value problem

Following the presupposition problem, this argument addresses the possibility of objective moral values. The question is what it means for something to be a value. When one talks of the value of a commodity, for example, we note that the value accorded to it is entirely dependent on market forces. What are people willing to pay, and how much are people willing to accept? Does the value of a commodity outweigh the value that an agent accords to his financial resources? This is, of course, up to the subjective calculations of individual agents. Such is also the nature of values, as solely subjective. In other words, the attachment of value is solely the function of the mind: asking whether something is valuable brings up the questions "valuable to whom and for what purpose?"

Consequently, we cannot try to make objective the subjective value judgments of individual agents, nor can we call such judgments universal simply because they may be imposed on others by force. At that point, we are simply substituting one's values for another's values--not establishing moral truth. As value is merely a subjective judgment--a product of the mind--we cannot logically call any value an objective, i.e. mind-independent, property of an object.

It may be objected that there are universally-recognized values, such as human life, that suggest the existence of moral facts. However, there are two errors here. The first is simply a logical fallacy, affirming the consequent:

The fallacy takes the following form: If A, then B. B, therefore A. In this case, the objection would be phrased as: "If X is an objective moral value, it will be universally-recognized. X is universally recognized, therefore it is an objective moral value."

There are cases in which affirming the consequent can be a legitimate argument form, but those cases only occur when A is the only possible condition for B. Since objective moral truth is not logically the only possible condition for universal recognition; ergo, citing universal recognition is not sufficient grounds to claim objective moral values. This, of course, assumes the truth of the premise (that objective moral values would be recognized), which is itself quite debatable.

The second problem is that collective subjectivity is not the same as objectivity. Briefly stated, it is not necessarily the case that X (say, murder is wrong) is an objective moral fact merely because some number of individuals claim that it is. A mass ipse dixit is no less a bare assertion than a lone individual making the same claim.

By the same logic, we would have to accept that the fact of pluralism--which is simply a descriptive statement about the plurality of different moral codes--indicates that there is no objective moral truth. Though some nihilists or relativists may stoop to this kind of argument, I will not, and will simply point out that the converse not only suffers from similar issues, but also hopefully makes the this potential objection easier to understand (and reject).

Conclusion

On three separate counts, it appears that nihilism makes a powerful case for rejecting the concept of objective moral truth, facts, values, or whatever you would care to refer to such as. Based on my analysis, and on the responses to potential counterarguments, I feel confident that any argument attempting to demonstrate moral objectivity will encounter challenging--if not insurmountable--obstacles.


headphonegut

Con

thank you.

I think it necessary to define a "compelling reason" which I shall define as a convincing explanation or justification for something, and to define "believe" which I shall define as to have confidence in the truth, the existence, or the reliability of something, although without absolute proof that one is right in doing so.

so the resolution would be interpreted to say there isn't a convincing explanation or justification to believe that objective moral facts exists. I will be against this and my opponent for this.

Ob1 - To win this debate I or my opponent have to effectively prove or disprove "objective moral fact" we simply have to prove that their is a compelling reason to believe/disbelieve that they exist.

Ob2 - My opponent says he will be defending moral Nihilism and that is fine; however, in his thre pronged argument he fails to point out why there isn't a compelling reason to believe that objective moral facts exists or why shouldn't everybody consider human life morally valuable and the like.

Introduction - In my opponents first argumant we see normative contingency and how he assert that moral judgments (application of current standards of morality to past actions, institutions) and normative theories (that which seeks to understand what would happen under theoretical constraints) are all contingent (not logically necessary; especially: empirical, relied upon) on our ethical values ( is a property of objects, including physical objects as well as abstract objects (e.g. actions), representing their degree of importance) I suppose it would be easier to say Moral judgments and normative theories = ethical values; However this cannot be true. Morality is often confused with ethics while they are similar in some instances and some philosophers equate doing so should b considered fallacious. Ethics and morals may seem the same on the face of it, but if one were to analyze, there is definitely some difference. It means, it may be ethical for someone to consume meat, after all there is no social code being breached, but at the same time the same person may find the idea of slaughtering an animal repugnant.

This implies that ethics define the code that a society or group of people adhere to while morality delves into right and wrong at a much deeper level, which is both personal and spiritual. The ethics that a person adheres too are impacted upon by external factors like the nation, society, peer group, religion and profession, and could change with a change in any of these influencing factors.

For instance fox hunting in England was ethical till the other day, because that was the tradition, and there was no law against it. But the recent legislation banning it made it illegal, and the widespread protests against the evil nature of the sport caused a cessation of the tradition supporting it, and therefore it became unethical. Morals on the other hand are made of sterner stuff, and usually do not change. It will for instance always be immoral to murder another human being, no matter who the person committing the act is.

C1 - Contextuality expresses the fact that an action does not exist in a vacuum. When we examine an action, we cannot ignore that the action takes place in a given context. The action of "killing" effects very different values whether it involves killing someone who has a gun trained on you, killing an innocent person walking down the street, killing an animal for food, killing a spider that entered the house, and so on and so forth. In each case, the being that is killed, the state of ourselves and the being, the actions necessary to perform, are all very different and lead to different results. In one case, our life is saved. In the other, we are a criminal. If we take contextuality out of the picture, then we are no longer talking about morality. We have taken away a part of reality which directly pertains to moral judgment. That is to say, we are no longer talking about morality, we are talking about a mental abstraction which has no more relation to action in the real world. For example of killing 6 million jews is I would say horrific but there is no way to prove empirically since they died Obviously the people who died during the Holocaust were prevented from effecting any value at all, since they were killed. So claiming that "it is quite impossible to know whether it is right or wrong" and that we cannot "verify it empirically" is disingenuous at best: the empirical evidence of the pits full of corpses is quite clear. To try to deny this, is to deliberately ignore the moral gravity of death.

C2 - To claim that morality is subjective is a denial of causality – actions have consequences, which arise because of natural, psychological and social laws. If you stop eating, you will die. If you stop drinking water, you will die even faster. If you break the social mores of decency or peaceful behaviour in your relationships with others, your life will be affected and even endangered. If you do not pursue social values in general, you will live isolated from the benefits of civilization. If you do not pursue mental values, you will not have the mental capacity to reason our way through life. Without such values, you would easily fall prey to any received idea, any scam, you would have no capacity to manage your life. Causality is universal: actions have consequences, causes have effects, if we fail to follow the requirements of life we will fail to live.

Whatever the moral system upheld by the individual, we can express the general value-judgment process simply in the following manner:

1. There is a moral choice, with two or more possible actions.
2. Those actions exist in a context.
3. The combination of that context and our hierarchy of values (whatever its form) determines the values effected by each action.
C3 -
We have a hierarchy of values for the same reason than we have a hierarchy of needs – because some values need to be reasonably fulfilled (such as nutrition or sleep) before some others can come under the purview of our actions (such as love or excellence). There is a gradient of importances that necessarily enters into account here. That is why one may say, objectively, that eating is much more important than, say, gaining status. But these values are universal: they apply to all human beings, except in some cases where higher values cannot be effected due to physical defect.

It is important here to understand that while values themselves are objective in all ways, their specific implementation differs from person to person and from culture to culture. For instance, we all need to eat, but we do not eat the same things. Someone in Latvia might eat a dinner of bizugis with pea balls and a glass of maizes kvass, and I might have a piece of tourtiļæ½re with maple syrup and a glass of milk. But it remains an inescapable biological fact that we both need to eat to survive.

Contextuality expresses the fact that an action does not exist in a vacuum. When we examine an action, we cannot ignore that the action takes place in a given context. This context is necessary to evaluate the consequences of an action, because it informs the values that are effected by the action.

To take a simple example, the action of "killing" effects very different values whether it involves:

killing someone who has a gun trained on you
killing an innocent person walking down the street
killing an animal for food on a hunting trip
killing a spider that entered the house

And so on and so forth. In each case, the being that is killed, the state of ourselves and the being, the actions necessary to perform, are all very different and lead to different results. In one case, our life is saved. In the other, we are a criminal.

I wish I could rebut some of your arguments but not enough space sorry.
Debate Round No. 1
Cody_Franklin

Pro

I accept Con's further definitions, but would add as an annotation that they don't do much for his case, as the question of whether there is compelling evidence for the existence of objective moral values still rests on the judgment of each voter.

Con's Observations

1. I accept this observation.

2. My three arguments give clear reasons to believe that objective moral facts do not exist. The problem of normative contingency, for example, inherently undermines all claims to moral objectivity by challenging the fundamental assertions of value upon which all further assertions of moral truth depend. The compound problem of presupposition and value subjectivity challenge two notions: first, that objective moral facts, e.g. "murder is wrong", can be taken for granted or as self-evident; second, that values can even be objective, despite the nature of values as products of subjective judgment only. Con can manipulate the defintions to make pragmatic arguments about why it benefits us to subscribe to the notion of "objective morality", but these fail to address the spirit of the resolution, which deals with the philosophical issue of moral truth. We can say that it is practical to hold human life as fundamentally valuable for reasons such as psychological stability and aversion to retribution, and that's fine; however, this is not the same as making the claim that human life is objectively valuable, or that murder is objectively wrong: claims with which this debate is actually concerned.

I should note, however, that, even for the individual agent, acting as if life is objectively valuable does not necessarily imply that the agent has a compelling reason to believe life to be valuable, so much as a practical reason to conform to values commonly held by the overwhelming majority of individuals.

Con's Opening Argument

The first argument made by Con doesn't seem to be entirely relevant to the debate. He gets into a long-winded diatribe about the distinction between ethics and morality, which I wholly accept (though "moral theory" can also be referred to as "normative ethics", which makes the distinction somewhat irrelevant). The offense in his argument comes when he attempts to dismiss normative contingency as something applying only to transient cultural values, rather than to all values. Unfortunately, he does not escape the problem of normative contingency, because it isn't an argument based on transience. Normative contingency, as outlined in my R1, deals specifically with the nature of moral claims, which are inherently based on arbitrary assertions of value. Though this is more apparent in cultural ethics, which aren't constant, the same problem applies to personal morality. In other words, temporariness is fundamentally irrelevant to the problem of contingency. Though the overwhelming majority believe in the objective value of life, and, though it may be practical to act as though life is objectively valuable, and, though belief in the objective value of life has persisted over time, none of the aforementioned considerations help Con to escape the problem of normative contingency as outlined in R1. Con will need to demonstrate that objective moral values do exist, rather than merely offer weak, consequent-affirming evidence that they may exist.

Con's Contentions

1. Con's argument fails to slip past any of my objections. In the case of normative contingency, his argument about contextuality plays right into my hand. He tries to save his position by vaguely gesturing toward an escape from the realm of ethical discourse, but this argument is neither supported nor particularly well-explained. It seems to be nothing more than a bare assertion. Moreover, the argument about contexuality does not appear to affirm the existence of moral values. It is merely a descriptive statement about how contextualization of actions results in different characterization of those actions. If anything, this can be subsumed under the problem of normative contingency, the fundamental claim of which is that moral judgments are only valid in the value contexts within which they are made, but that, moreover, the value contexts (and their fundamental building blocks) are themselves only arbitrary assertions.

Con also fails to dodge the presupposition and subjectivity problem by pointing to the "moral gravity of death", which not only presupposes the existence of objective values by which death may be judged as grave, but also fails to account for the inherent subjectivity of values which renders those judgments matters of taste. Certainly we may be offended by mass genocide, but the mere fact of a tug on our heartstrings is insufficient for simply assuming moral objectivity.

One final aside: though Con criticizes skepticism about morality (i.e. a need for empirical verification and the assertion of the impossibility of moral knowledge), my position is not skepticism, but outright nihilism, which makes these criticisms largely irrelevant inasmuch as they're epistemic in nature.

2. Con's second contention appears to be a massive appeal to consequences [http://en.wikipedia.org...] which seems to suggest that, should we accept morality as fundamentally subjective, many awful things, e.g. social isolation, the degredation of one's mind, inability to manage one's life, will inevitably follow. Even if we accept that these are necessary consequences of accepting value subjectivity, consequential appeals are insufficient to dismiss the problem on a philosophical level. At best, it proves that it may be highly impractical to rebel against socio-ethical norms--an argument which I've already addressed.

3. Con's fatal mistake is twofold: first, his argument again fails to escape normative contingency. Even if we accept the descriptive truth that it is objectively necessary for all humans to eat to survive, this still does not imply objective values. Recall that questions of value raise further questions of "to whom" and "for what purpose"? The problem of normative contingency, then, applies here, since food as an objective value is merely instrumental to, and therefore contingent on, the value of life. While it is perfectly true that nearly every being values life, and will therefore value eating as a result, neither of these facts justifies the assertion that "eating is good", "eating is right", or even "eating is more morally important than X" (much less "life is morally valuable") are objective moral facts. Second, the argument also fails to escape value subjectivity. Goodness, rightness, and importance are not objective properties of entities, because all of them are judgments of value, and are therefore products of evaluations performed by individual age. Con is confusing statements like "Person P values X" with "X is (objectively) valuable", which allows him to achieve the illusion of moral objectivity. His illusion is merely more sophisticated because he is confusing "X is (objectively) valuable" with "many people A, B, C,... value X". As for the latter parts of this contention, they are simply restatements of earlier arguments about contextuality, which I've already addressed. Discard them.

Conclusion

Con's case has not only failed to address the problems of normative contingency, presupposition, and value subjectivity, but has also failed to offer a single compelling reason to subscribe to the notion of moral objectivity. Reasons which Con's case did present fell into the traps set by my objections in Round 1. Perhaps Con will find a way to overturn my objections and present a strong case for objective morality. In the meantime, however, I remain confident that the case for nihilism remains unscathed.
headphonegut

Con

sorry about not getting to your arguments.

Normative contingency: My opponent has agreed that ethics and morality are different. However in his argument of normative contingency he equated them and made assertion that it's "a fact which most everyone acknowledges; however, if we consistently apply this concept, we also see that moral values are themselves contingent, usually on one's psychological states, personal interest, etc," and so they are not objectively morally binding. This is a valid argument however it suffers from a premise that he has concede is fallacious.

People will do what they think is right, because of there personal interests and psychological states. When Hitler was killing jews the jews probably thought that he was immoral and the jews that might have killed a nazi other nazi's thought that jew was immoral. the underlying thought is killing is wrong, because of their beliefs and values they have the problem of 'content' that who they kill is relavent so a nazi beleives that killing a jew is not immoral but the right thing to do; It isn't his fault his psychological state and personal interests have given him the problem of 'content' or thinking that what he does is relavent and that what he does will help his leaders views which are his views getting rid of the jews is important so we need to kill jews the nazi is killing jews and believes that killing is immoral the nazi isn't a hypocrite he simply sufferes from the problem of 'content'.

presupposition problem: So this isn't actually an argument simply something to point out a fallaicious argument like a false premise which doesn't mean the conclusion is wrong simply the premise.
men are immortal
sorcates is a man
therefore sorcrates is mortal
the conclusion is correct but not the premise.

Subjective value problem: Your point seems to be that values are subjective I concede to this they are but I don't see how they are relavent in this debate. In fact I believe that many people will do what they think is right because of the values that they have the nazi holds different values than the jew and vice versa their values help them decide what they THINk is right and will act each will act accordinly. This simply supports my assertion that they both sufer from the problem of 'content'. The nazi does not believe he is wrong in killing the jew because of his value, personal intersts, and psychological state, but consequently he believs that the jew is wrong when he kills a nazi but the jew does not believe he is because of 'content' (the external influence is also a contributing factor).

my contentions 1,2,3 were refuted with cody's contentions they all suffered from a problem now that I have disproved them they hold. (and yeah I drop 2 it was appeal to consequence :p even thought it's true)

-content -
the problem I addressed earlier with cody's first argument basically I asserting that killing is wrong but because of what people believe and how they have been raised and what they have seen or heard might take them to believe that killing/murder is somehow justified which I believe it never is. Because of their psychological state some psychopaths might believe that killing is okay, because of personal interest a man might kill his wife who has cheated on him and who she was cheating with. Because of external influence some people might believe that it is right to do something like hijacking a plane and crashing it into towers. That doesn't mean that the same people that killed someone don't believe that killing isn't wrong I'm sure they do but because of their situation or their beliefs they did what they thougt was right.
Debate Round No. 2
Cody_Franklin

Pro

Con's Counterarguments

Normative Contingency

First of all: what I argued "everyone acknowledges" is that "moral facts" are all contingent all the moral frameworks within which such propositions are contextualized. I was simply extending the contingency analysis to the frameworks themselves.

Second of all: at the point that he agrees that normative contingency "is a valid argument", I have won the debate. This is because the normative contingency problem directly undermines the possibility of objective morality by challenging the nature of fundamental moral values as being purely arbitrary propositions, and therefore non-binding on an objective level. Even agreeing that my premises are fallacious is irrelevant, as he has conceded the conclusion; however, I will deal with the fallacious premise argument regardless:

He doesn't really make a positive argument to address A) which premise he believes is fallacious, or B) how the premise would count as being fallacious. All that really goes on in this paragraph is a big discussion about relative moral values between Hitler and the Jews, and the "problem of 'content'". Overall, it seems to just be another argument which implicitly cedes normative contingency by hinting at meta-ethical relativism.

Presupposition Problem

I concur that the presupposition problem alone isn't exactly a positive argument against morality. This was not its purpose, however: the presupposition problem was intended to highlight the nature of moral truth as being taken for granted, rather than sufficiently proven. Where the argument gains offense is in combination with the value subjectivity problem, wherein the very possibility of objective values is challenged. In other words, this argument deals with presuppositions about objective values; the next argument deals with whether such claims are even viable.

Subjective Value Problem

Since Con concedes this argument as well, this is a second impossible obstacle for declaring moral objectivity. If he concedes my argument, which is that values, by nature, cannot be objective, I see no way for him to simultaneously argue that objective values exist without contradicting himself. He attempts to somehow save himself by again appealing to the "problem of content", but this is neither an offensive argument nor seemingly relevant, from what I can tell. It comes down to him arguing "They're just doing what they think is right", which can easily be addressed (and was addressed) by normative contingency.

Con's Contentions

At this point, Con really has no choice but to concede his contentions, I think. He's actually already conceded contention 2. He's conceded normative contingency and value subjectivity, and never really addressed the question of presupposition. He claims that he has "disproven" my arguments, but, given that he's conceded two and functionally ignored the other, I see no reason to take him at his word. My previous analysis on his contentions can be pulled through.

"Content"

The argument he is making fails because he offers absolutely no warrant that "killing is wrong". Perhaps it's an opinion that many people share; however, I preempted this argument in Round 1 by demonstrating that collective subjectivity does not pass for objectivity. Based on the lack of warrant for his foundational ethical claim, he doesn't really have any room to argue further.

Conclusion

Let's take a quick tally:

Con has conceded normative contingency and value subjectivity, which, even without considering the presupposition problem, destroy any hope of making claims to moral objectivity. Furthermore, he hasn't really extended his contentions, conceded the second, and will likely have to concede the other two in the final round. He has also dropped his observations. In essence, the case for nihilism remains almost untouched, while a number of holes have sprung up in Con's case. Although there is a final round in this debate, I feel confident that the case for nihilism has, at this point, been irrefutably made.

headphonegut

Con

First I did not concede that normative contingency was correct or true or factual in any way I simply stated it was a valid argument with a fallacious premise that being the equation of morality to ethics.

And my opponent has not proven that obejective morality does not exist simply he has made 1 argument and the other two are more like indicators to fallacies the first one starting basically saying that peoples morality is dependent upon there life experience the second one simply states that morality is a given and that people assume their is morality amongst us people however that it doesn't prove objective morality and the third ones states that moral values are all subjective and that it's a fallacy to think because a lot of people believe something it's true; however I don't really see why this is relevant we are debating about a objective moral fact like is killing wrong that is why I conceded to this I don't see the need to waste time on an argument that's not relevant to whether killing is wrong moral values =/= moral facts. And for the record arguing that every argument I make is a fallacy does not disprove object moral fact. Simply screaming moral facts don't exist doesnt disprove them nor is it a compelling reason to believe moral facts don't exist. And you cannot argue about the existence of something without talking about it's characteristics or what it entails like we know gravity exists because we stay on the ground. I know that morality exists because actions have consequences.

The compelling reason to believe that moral facts exist is because of Causation and Contextually that every action has a consequence If there wasn't such a thing as morality then Rape would be considered having sex with another person the rape victim can tell us how she felt and we directly respond to her with either sympathy and pity to her and anger toward the man who raped her and nothing would be done to him in a society with no moral facts the rapist wouldn't go to jail laws are written upon actions that entail that something bad was done and to establish that actions have consequences. Every action that is made appears in a given context to take away the context means to take away part of reality which is not possible. So let's say the rapist tells his friend he had sex with a women but then his friend finds out that the women he was talking about got raped however he then finds out that the women who got raped is a nymphomaniac. Since I am writing the narrative only I know what happened everybody has to assume what happened like the mans friend hr applies his own standard of morality because he does not now what really happened. Every action that is made or every interaction has an objective reality; however since were human we cannot account for every single action or interaction we apply our own beliefs to the account or we substitute our own beliefs to our actions taking away a part of the reality.

So just to recap arguing that all arguments for objective morality are fallacies is not a compelling enough reason to believe that it does not exist. I'm am arguing about the effects of objective morality what morality entails if it exists which it does because some actions have consequences.

Thank you for the debate.
Debate Round No. 3
Cody_Franklin

Pro

Regarding the concession of normative contingency: the only differentiation between morality and ethics on Con's part is to say that the former is a personal phenomenon, the latter a cultural phenomenon. It's really the same concept, just on different scales. In other words, the premise isn't fallacious, and he's conceded the argument's validity.

Con's First Paragraph

1. The only one of my arguments that's akin to pointing out a fallacy is the presupposition problem; however, this argument's purpose is more to establish that a burden of proof exists for anyone making claims to moral objectivity, and to act as a primer for the subjective value problem. It doesn't alone say "objective moral facts don't exist", but it does cast doubt on whether there is sufficient reason to believe that they do exist, which is the subject of this debate.

2. His argument against value subjectivity basically boils down to distinguishing between moral facts and moral values. Up until now, I've been using the two terms semi-synonymously. If it's troublesome, allow me to clarify: simply put, you could probably classify "moral values" as a subset of "moral facts". Looking back on normative contingency, all subsequent moral facts are based on fundamental moral values like human life, sentience, or rationality; however, the offense of value subjectivity is to point out that values, by their nature, are the product of individual judgment, not an inherent property of objects. Even if the "value of life" is held to be true by all humans, it does not therefore follow that life is valuable; rather, what follows is that all humans value life. I trust that everyone sees the difference between the meta-ethical claim and the descriptive claim.

3. My claim isn't that moral facts don't exist because all of his arguments are fallacies. I put forward the positive case for nihilism in R1, and subsequently argued that his responses are fallacious. On top of that, he's conceded 2 of his 3 contentions, so I'd say that's on him.

Additionally, even if we accept his argument that all of my claims come down to "X is fallacious", and therefore fail to disprove moral facts, this is a far cry from a positive argument for the belief in moral facts. Personally, I would also argue that a stream of fallacies by Con leaves you with absolutely no reason to subscribe to moral objectivity, but that's not my call to make. As for the "consequences" argument at the end of paragraph one, I'll address this in a moment.

Con's Second Paragraph

1. I've got a couple of responses to the "consequences" argument. First, this argument is an appeal to consequences (pun). It basically asserts that, if we reject moral facts, rapists won't be punished, law will cease to exist, etc; therefore, moral facts exist. This is obviously a fallacy.

A second layer of fallacy, I think, is consequent affirmation. His argument is structured to say that, if objective morality exists, then actions will have consequences (presumably, he means legal consequences). Actions have consequences, therefore objective morality exists. The problem with his reasoning is that objective morality is not the only possible cause for legal action to be taken against people for certain actions, which make legal consequences insufficient evidence for moral objectivity. I, for example, would make the argument that the alleged "immorality" of murder is only peripheral to legal bans, and that the practical consequences of openly allowing people to murder, rape, and steal were grave enough to warrant countermeasures.

2. I'll be honest: I can't really make heads or tails of this whole "contextuality" argument. When he starts talking about how individuals have to apply their own moral codes to make sense of events, it sounds like some kind of weird relativism or something. From what I can tell, though, the argument doesn't really have anything to do with positing the existence of objective moral facts. It's more to say "if we don't interpret things in some way or other, we can't make sense of anything", which is irrelevant.

Conclusion

Truthfully, there's not much left to argue here. All Con has really done is rehash a couple of old arguments and make a new defensive argument that his fallacies shouldn't count as evidence that objective morality doesn't exist. Given, however, that he's conceded most of the arguments in the round--both on his case and mine--I don't see how he can salvage the case for realism. This last Round has been a little less eloquent on my part than I had hoped, but I honestly think that the debate has been decided already. He can't evade normative contingency or value subjectivity, he's conceded most of his case, his only offensive argument, the "consequences" argument, is fallacious in two different ways, and he can't introduce any new arguments in the last round, since I would be unable to respond to them. I'll be doing a second and third iteration of this debate with Contradiction and Kinesis soon, so, if you enjoyed this, make sure to check those out as well.

Cheerio.

headphonegut

Con

Analysis of the debate:

BOP - since I am pro I have to prove that moral facts exist and that their is a compelling reason that they do exist my opponent being the instigator has to prove the opposite.

first off
my opponent hasn't argued that there isn't a compelling reason that moral facts exist simply they do not exist even then the arguments that moral facts don't exist aren't very good one asserts that morality is contingent upon beliefs which is hardly evidence to deny the existence of moral facts because people have beliefs which I said is not very relevant in the example I give I say how both the Jew and the Nazi have the underlying thought that killing is wrong it isn't subjective which then you say it's a fallacy to assume that because two people of opposite beliefs have the same thought is a fallacy because majority does not equal fact which admittedly is true; however, I must point out that it isn't an argument against moral fact but an argument against my reasoning.

Second, in his first argument he concedes that normative contingency is an appeal to motive but dilutes that claim by saying their is no reason to believe in arbitrary position which is moral facts; however that is his position that moral facts don't exist and so his claim that normative contingency is a fallacy holds. He also admits that his only non argument is an indicator of a fallacy (false premise) but he calls it the problem of presupposition that's a nice spin on it; however, it doesn't escape the fact that it isn't an argument against moral facts nor is it a compelling reason to believe that they don't exist.

Third, his final argument the one about subjectivity he claims he has been using it semi synonymously With moral fact then he clarifies that he hasn't been using it he says

"Looking back on normative contingency, all subsequent moral facts are based on fundamental moral values like human life, sentience, or rationality; however, the offense of value subjectivity is to point out that values, by their nature, are the product of individual judgment, not an inherent property of objects. Even if the "value of life" is held to be true by all humans, it does not therefore follow that life is valuable; rather, what follows is that all humans value life. I trust that everyone sees the difference between the meta-ethical claim and the descriptive claim."

Its an argument against values being based off of individuals and their beliefs this isn't an argument against moral facts nor is it a compelling reason to believe that moral facts exist



But I digress I have not been very good at arguing for moral facts although I have pointed out why they might exist and why their is a compelling reason to believe in moral fact; since this is the case that neither me or my opponent have not proved or disproven moral facts I urge the voters to not vote on this debate and if they do explain how Cody's arguments disproved moral facts and how his arguments made a compelling reasonn why they don't exist.

It has been fun debating about god I mean about moral facts.

Thank you for this debate
Cordially, HPG
Debate Round No. 4
22 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Kinesis 6 years ago
Kinesis
Well, defeating the reasons for your moral nihilism seem like it should be worth your time to me. But, fair enough.
Posted by Cody_Franklin 6 years ago
Cody_Franklin
You have to prove realism. It's a debate of "moral facts do exist" vs. "no they don't", which is much more interesting and worth my time than "moral facts don't exist" vs. "WEELLLLLLL, we don't KNOW for sure...".
Posted by Kinesis 6 years ago
Kinesis
Okay, I'm pretty much ready to take this on if you send it. A clarification, though - do I actually have to prove moral realism, or just negate your arguments back to agnosticism about moral objectivity?
Posted by Cody_Franklin 6 years ago
Cody_Franklin
Alrighty then.
Posted by headphonegut 6 years ago
headphonegut
Rawr
Posted by Cody_Franklin 6 years ago
Cody_Franklin
Well, like I said, the criteria for "compelling" are up to the voters. My only request is that their decisions be based solely on the arguments. As far as the definition of a fact, this is why I include the word "objective". I'm trying to make clear that we're evaluating mind-independent truth, rather than a mere description about the subjective evaluations of individual agents. Both are objective truths, but of different classes. An objective moral fact would be something like "murder is wrong", assuming it's true. What I don't want is something like "it is an objective fact that person A things X is wrong. Since this fact is related to morality, it is an objective moral fact". That's the sort of trickery that results from misunderstanding the spirit of the debate.
Posted by innomen 6 years ago
innomen
What a great debate. I doubt that i would take it because it would be a pretty difficult resolution for Con to refute. The word "compelling" is what I guess would need to be further explored. Also the word "facts" would be a problem. Still, it is doable - just thinking out loud (sort of).
Posted by Cody_Franklin 6 years ago
Cody_Franklin
As do I.
Posted by tvellalott 6 years ago
tvellalott
I hope headphonegut brings it.
Posted by Cody_Franklin 6 years ago
Cody_Franklin
"Given that fundamental moral values are necessary arbitrary assertions"

This should read "necessarily* arbitrary assertions". I don't want it to look as though I'm ascribing any degree of necessity to ethical fundamentals.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by detachment345 6 years ago
detachment345
Cody_FranklinheadphonegutTied
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Reasons for voting decision: cons args were filled with contradictions/fallacies
Vote Placed by Cliff.Stamp 6 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
Cody_FranklinheadphonegutTied
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Reasons for voting decision: "The compelling reason to believe that moral facts exist is because of Causation and Contextually that every action has a consequence " - this was the main problem with headphones argument, this simply has no weight. It is known that actions have consequences, the issues is should one avoid an action because of a consequence as an objective truth. 4:2, elegant argument from Cody, headphone, a more ordered argument would have made up a point.
Vote Placed by darkkermit 6 years ago
darkkermit
Cody_FranklinheadphonegutTied
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Reasons for voting decision: PRO uses the presumption problem, the subjective value problem and normal contingency to make his case. CON fails to address the issues, and even concedes the issues. CON also engages in many fallacies, which PRO points out.
Vote Placed by Ore_Ele 6 years ago
Ore_Ele
Cody_FranklinheadphonegutTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con had an almost impossible hill to climb over on this one. Pro did a great job in holding his own argument while taking down Con's.