The Instigator
AGluttonousAscetic
Pro (for)
Winning
5 Points
The Contender
themightyindividual
Con (against)
Losing
4 Points

There is no objective basis for morality.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
AGluttonousAscetic
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/26/2015 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 784 times Debate No: 75795
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (12)
Votes (2)

 

AGluttonousAscetic

Pro

I am posting this debate again because this is an issue that I am interested in and I have not yet found satisfactory answers or explanations (the last debate is here: http://www.debate.org...).

My position is that there is not an objective basis for morality; that judging or labeling an action as either moral or immoral is the result of individual belief, or opinion, or preference, or some other non-objective source.

For this debate, the term "objective" will have the definition found in the Merriam-Webster dictionary: of, relating to, or being an object, phenomenon, or condition in the realm of sensible experience independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers : having reality independent of the mind.

Since this topic could have a potentially wide range of discussion surrounding it, this debate will focus on only one aspect: killing another person. In addition to narrowing the focus to one aspect, I will frame the debate in the form of a specific scenario. My hope is that limiting the scope and framing the debate will provide ease and clarity and aid in a greater understanding of this topic.

The scenario is as follows:

I live completely alone on an island in the middle of the ocean. There is no one else on the island, no one ever visits the island, and there is never any communication with any other person.

How I got to the island is irrelevant. I will never leave the island.

The island and the surrounding ocean provide a wide variety of resources and I am able to use my reason and my ability to think to devise ways of turning theses resources into things that I need to live, e.g. I make tools for gathering and/or hunting food, I devise means of collecting and storing fresh water, I discover or construct shelter.

Over time I have become so efficient at providing for my basic needs that I am able to devise ways to use the available resources to make my life better, i.e. provide luxuries and means of entertainment.

I live my life to the fullest of my ability given the circumstances in which I find myself.

One day, a man washes up on the beach. This man is alive but unconscious. I have never seen this man before and I have never had any interaction with this man. Due to being unconscious, the man has not interacted with me in any way and I do not perceive any kind of physical threat or danger from this man.

I walk up to this man and I kill him. I then continue with my day. The tide washes the body out to sea that evening and I never see the body again. I continue with my life as I did before the man washed up on the beach.

My argument is that the action of killing the man on the beach was neither moral nor immoral and any classification of the action as either moral or immoral is not objective but is based on individual belief, opinion, preference, or some other non-objective source.

The burden of proof is on the Contender to provide a sustainable argument(s) that demonstrates that killing the man was objectively either moral or immoral.

The debate will consist of five rounds. Please provide your opening arguments in Round 1; Round 2 through 4 will be for rebuttals and additional arguments; and Round 5 will be for rebuttals and conclusions.

Thank you for your participation.
themightyindividual

Con

I have accepted your challenge, as I know I can prove that it is immoral to kill another person. You make a good argument, but the logic will soon fall apart as I demonstrate that people should not kill other people.

First, if (in the scenario you presented) the person the islander killed was indeed not presenting any harm, then there was no reason to kill him, you gained absolutely nothing. While it is true that a sense of morality sometimes stems from person beliefs and therefore becomes subjective, it is not true that murder falls into that category. This is because if you gain nothing from killing someone, and that person loses everything, it is a net loss. Objectively, a net loss is bad. Actions should not be taken by any individual that do not benefit himself, and certainly not ones that not only present no self-gain but also present the loss of a life.

Your rebuttal may include something like "he could not have lived on this island without consuming my resources, and therefore would have died anyway". However, I must point out that killing someone who does not present and actual danger to you that is equivalent to murder is irrational and unjust. If you believe that he would have consumed your limited resources and therefore degraded your quality of life, it is possible to morally present him with equivalent harm (e.g. protecting your island and it's resources from his grasp) which may result in him dying but would be moral. It would be moral even if you knew he would surely die because you are only taking actions to defend your property and not actively kill him, he would only die as a result of being incompetent.

In other instances, where killing someone is your only means of surviving, it is not immoral. For example, if someone invades your home and you believe he presents a lethal threat to your well being, you can morally kill him. However, in instances where your life is not being threatened it is immoral to kill because there is no point in it and objectively (as I said before) it is a net loss.

Another instance is armed robbery. If you murder someone to take their possessions you may say it is a net gain if you get enough money. It is not. This is because you cannot valuate a human life in the same way you would valuate an inanimate object of an animal's life. A human life is regarded as self-owned. You can valuate a bottle of soda or a cow based on characteristics such as demand, supply, labor cost, market competition, etc. However, we can agree (hopefully) that man does not live for the sake of his neighbor. It seems you must support that ideal. So, assuming you do, how do you use such characteristics as demand, supply, labor cost, market competition, etc. to determine the value of human life? The answer is simple: you can't.

So if you cannot prove the worth of a human life, you cannot justify trading it for any object (material or not). It must be assumed that, objectively, human life is of the most importance. Without this idea, the human race could never grow and innovate as quick as it has (or at all). Instead, we would act like animals, killing each other for territory and access to limited natural resources; instead, we have accepted the previous idea of morality, and thus have engaged in civilized competition for the positive creation of wealth and the efficient exploitation of natural resources.

I hope you can present an argument that explains why you think it is alright to murder another human being, and why you think it is a net gain for you, your friends, or anybody at all.
Debate Round No. 1
AGluttonousAscetic

Pro

I would like to thank themightyindividual for accepting this debate and I look forward to furthering my understanding of this issue.

Con's opening argument is that killing the man on the beach is immoral "because if you gain nothing from killing someone, and that person loses everything, it is a net loss. Objectively, a net loss is bad. Actions should not be taken by any individual that do not benefit himself, and certainly not ones that not only present no self-gain but also present the loss of a life."

I reject Con's argument for several reasons. First, Con has provided no evidence that "Objectively, a net loss is bad." Due to the lack of evidence, this is just Con's opinion that Con expects the reader to accept as correct simply because Con wrote it. Why is a net loss bad? As far as I can tell, the only objective statement that one can make about a net loss is that it is a net loss. Once one attaches a label, such as good or bad, it becomes a subjective statement that is not independent of individual thought and does not have reality independent of the mind. It may be Con's opinion that a net loss is bad and it may be someone else's opinion that a net loss is not bad, but it is just opinion not an objective statement. Since "a net loss is bad" is the premise on which Con determines morality, Con needs to provide evidence that the premise is objective and not just opinion.

Second, Con's next statement, "Actions should not be taken by any individual that do not benefit himself" suffers from the same failings as Con's previous statement. Con has provided no evidence for this statement therefore it is just opinion and not an objective statement.

Third, even if Con can objectively show that a net loss is bad or that actions should not be taken by any individual that do not benefit himself, Con needs to demonstrate that whatever definitions Con is using for terms like "net loss" and "benefit" are objective and not subjective. For example, if John Doe enjoys killing people, deriving gratification from the act of taking a life, then the action of killing people would be a "benefit" and not a "net loss" to John Doe so, according to Con's logic, John Doe's actions would be moral. Of course, John Doe's actions would not be moral if Con's use of the word "benefit" means something different, but without an objective definition we have no way of knowing.

Con goes on and makes this statement: "However, I must point out that killing someone who does not present and actual danger to you that is equivalent to murder is irrational and unjust." Much like the earlier statements made by Con there has been no evidence presented that demonstrates that this statement is anything other than Con's opinion. The only objective statement you can make about one man killing another man, on the beach or in general, is that one man killed another man. Once you attach a label, like murder or irrational or unjust, to the act you move from objective to subjective. Con even demonstrates as much by stating that killing someone is moral if "you believe he presents a lethal threat to your well being" or it is moral if "killing someone is your only means of surviving". Depending on the label that Con chooses to attach to the act of killing a man, murder, self-defense, etc., killing a man becomes either moral or immoral. So that raises the question of how do you determine which label to attach and how do you know that the label you attach is the correct label? As I pointed out in an earlier debate, one man's murder is another man's self-defense is another man's patriotic duty so how does one know the difference? Given the lack of any evidence presented, it appears the determination of morality is not objective rather it is just opinion.

Con continues with, "A human life is regarded as self-owned" and "However, we can agree (hopefully) that man does not live for the sake of his neighbor. It seems you must support that ideal." Once again I must point out that Con has offered no evidence to support either of these statements. I could just as easily state, "A human life is not regarded as self-owned" and "However, we can agree (hopefully) that man does live for the sake of his neighbor. It seems you must support that ideal" and my statements would carry as much weight as Con's statements because I have presented no supporting evidence. Con needs to objectively demonstrate that human life is regarded as self-owned and that man does not live for the sake of his neighbor for these statements to be considered anything other than opinion.

Con's next statement: "Without this idea, the human race could never grow and innovate as quick as it has (or at all). Instead, we would act like animals, killing each other for territory and access to limited natural resources; instead, we have accepted the previous idea of morality, and thus have engaged in civilized competition for the positive creation of wealth and the efficient exploitation of natural resources" appears to show Con's ignorance of human history and the many wars that have been fought and are still being fought and the many people that have been and are still being slaughtered in the quest to secure territory and limited natural resources (I will not waste space citing references for such a vast amount of information since a Google search can provide you with the information). If it is Con's argument that objective morality exists because human life is of the most importance and because of this ideal humans do not kill each other for territory and access to limited natural resources, then it is Pro's position that the argument collapses not only because it is an unsupported opinion but because the evidence provided by human history demonstrates otherwise.

Con ends with, "I hope you can present an argument that explains why you think it is alright to murder another human being, and why you think it is a net gain for you, your friends, or anybody at all." To be clear, it has never been Pro's position that it is alright to murder another human being and I will not be providing any arguments along those lines. If it is Con's interpretation that this debate is about why it is alright or not alright to murder another human being, then that is Con's interpretation of this debate but it is Pro's position that there is no objective basis for morality and the scenario of killing a man is used to provide ease and clarity. Additionally, Con's use of the term "murder", as explained earlier, moves the discussion from the objective to the subjective and does nothing to demonstrate that there is an objective basis for morality.

Con's arguments thus far has been to state opinions, expect the reader to accept those opinions as true and correct without any supporting evidence, then to determine that the act of killing the man on the beach was immoral based on Con's unsupported opinions and declare that there is an objective basis for morality. Since opinions are not independent of individual thought nor do they have reality independent of the mind, Con has failed to demonstrate that there is an objective basis for morality and it is still Pro's position that there is not an objective basis for morality; that judging or labeling an action as either moral or immoral is the result of individual belief, or opinion, or preference, or some other non-objective source.
themightyindividual

Con

I must clarify for my opponent some basic principles. All of my points are objectively provable, as I will demonstrate. My statement "Actions should not be taken by any individual that do not benefit himself" refers to the fact that the only purpose of life is to survive and pass on our DNA, as has been scientifically proven. our brains are wired around this basic fact. It is non-negotiable that individuals exist selfishly, as there is no other real reason why one would act.

I also stated that "a net loss is bad", which apparently my opponent cannot understand/does not believe. The only reason to act in any way is to achieve something (e.g. moving into the kitchen to grab a soda from the refrigerator requires some effort but is rewarded in a self-centered way). I am defining a "net loss" as the opposite of achievement (which would be a net gain). Without a perceived gain in the future as a result of certain actions, individuals do not act upon those actions. Therefore, if you do not gain something from your effort, you have failed. This is objectively proven by my clarification of the self-centered mind.

Pro also said "if John Doe enjoys killing people, deriving gratification from the act of taking a life, then the action of killing people would be a 'benefit' and not a 'net loss' to John Doe". However, the act of killing someone is an objectively unbalanced deal that relies on the initiation of force. This fact, as I will demonstrate, proves that it is objectively correct to support morality.

The initiation of force is defined as "The initiation of force is the act of one man initiating force against another, as opposed to retaliatory force. Force includes such acts as murder, theft, threats, and fraud. It is acting against another person without their consent."1 This means that it is not a voluntary transaction when such immoral actions are made. It is known that man survives because of his possession of reason, which other animals lack. He is able to think further ahead into the future and become self-aware, among other things. Man does not have fur, claws, super speed, flight, super jaws, immense weight, or any other physical weapons that other animals have to defend themselves, he uses his mind to utilize his environment and create what he needs to adapt to his surroundings. Force prevents man from using his reason and therefore surviving. If human beings were to forget about morality, objectively things would become harder for everyone. I know. That sounds like a subjective statement. But it is not, death is objectively bad because the only reason in living is to enjoy life, and death makes it, well, harder, to enjoy life.

Also, this point proves that a human life is self-owned. This is because everyone is responsible for their own well-being and the self-centered brain proves this. If every person is self-interested by design, and the only point in living is to enjoy life, then it would follow that a sense of ownership is apparent. If I am responsible for my own life, preserving my life, enjoying my life, and passing on my DNA, and I retain full control of my body, mind, and reason, then I retain ownership over my life. And by living reasonably, I am compelled not to kill or steal or vandalize, because doing so would mean that I would want that to happen to me. And because nobody wants to be killed or have their possessions stolen or vandalized, nobody reasonably kills, as it would violate the laws of reason.

Pro said that war and genocide and general human history proves that we do act without regard to morality. However, I can prove there are two separate scenarios. There is the scenario of pure irrational behavior (e.g. mugging someone, breaking into someone's house) and there is the scenario of forced irrational behavior (e.g. going to war). Pure irrational behavior occurs when one's animalistic instincts from long before reason became apart of the modern human mind is greater in a person's mind than their sense of reason, and so they become like an animal, and they do not put their actions into objection. Forced irrational behavior occurs when individuals act as a group and cooperate with the goal of "common good" which results in a "mob mentality". This is a glitch in the system. The human mind is wired as an individual, thinking of himself, and only himself (and immediate family) in a reasonable and objective way. When individuals get together in hopes of increasing survival, safety increases exponentially. This is the idea behind cities. However, this can go wrong when it is taken too far, and people begin acting like animals (apart of a pack or heard, mindlessly following orders from peers). Wars are caused by this, and so are genocides, and everything of that sort. No one goes to war because they hate another individual on the other side because of something that individual did to them. People go to war for their country, race, religion, or other primitive categories that can be defined as "collectivism". When a man possesses reason, he does not do this. It follows that the former is of greater importance in this debate than the latter.

If Pro is willing to state that man does not survive because of his possession of reason, he has lost this debate already. Being reasonable means making decisions to serve yourself, but also thinking objectively, and killing another man violates the laws of reason.

1 http://www.importanceofphilosophy.com...
Debate Round No. 2
AGluttonousAscetic

Pro

Con states "...the only purpose of life is to survive and pass on our DNA, as has been scientifically proven." I will assume that it is possible, even though no evidence has been provided, that the only purpose of life is to survive (I will not include "pass on our DNA" because this would imply that an individual who is unable to or chooses not to pass on his or her DNA has no purpose and that is outside the scope of this debate). I will also assume that it is possible that "our brains are wired around this basic fact [to survive]" even though Con has not provided any support for this statement.

Con's next paragraph states, in part, "The only reason to act in any way is to achieve something...I am defining a "net loss" as the opposite of achievement (which would be a net gain). Without a perceived gain in the future as a result of certain actions, individuals do not act upon those actions. Therefore, if you do not gain something from your effort, you have failed. This is objectively proven by my clarification of the self-centered mind."

Con did not provide "clarification of the self-centered mind" as the only statement made about the mind was an unsupported statement that "our brains are wired around this basic fact [the only purpose of life is to survive]" and therefore nothing is proven. Regardless, this paragraph contradicted the arguments that Con made in Round 1. In Round 1 Con stated, "...if you gain nothing from killing someone, and that person loses everything, it is a net loss. Objectively, a net loss is bad. Actions should not be taken by any individual that do not benefit himself..." Since I took action and killed the man on the beach, I must have perceived a gain since, in Con's words from Round 2, "[w]ithout a perceived gain in the future as a result of certain actions, individuals do not act upon those actions." I acted therefore, per Con's reasoning, I must have perceived a gain. Con has defined "net loss" as the opposite of achievement. Killing the man on the beach cannot be a net loss as I did achieve something: I killed the man on the beach. So when I killed the man on the beach, I gained something from my effort, therefore I did not fail; I achieved something, therefore it was not a net loss; since there was no net loss the action was not immoral. Con stated that killing the man on the beach was immoral but then provided arguments that show that it was not immoral.

Con's next paragraph states, in part, that "...the act of killing someone is an objectively unbalanced deal that relies on the initiation of force. This fact, as I will demonstrate, proves that it is objectively correct to support morality." Again I will state that it is Pro's position that there is no objective basis for morality and this debate is not about whether or not morality exits or if one should or should not support morality. Nowhere in this debate has it been argued by Pro that morality does not exist or that one should or should not support it.

Con's next paragraph provides a definition of the initiation of force. I do not agree with this definition because, despite the link provided, it is nothing more than someone's opinion and I could just as easily define the initiation of force in a different way, put it on the web, link to it, and it would be just as valid as the definition provided. However, for this debate, I will accept the definition as written by Con but not the conclusion reached by Con.

Con appears to be arguing that killing the man on the beach was an initiation of force and that the initiation of force is immoral. Con argues that the initiation of force is immoral because "Force prevents man from using his reason and therefore surviving." I have two problems with this statement. First, this statement is not true in all cases therefore it does not demonstrate objective morality. For example, if someone steals your wallet (theft) you do not cease to survive nor are you robbed of your reason; if someone says they are going to beat you (threats) you do not cease to survive nor are you incapable of using reason. Out of the examples quoted by Con, only murder would cause one to cease to survive and prevent the use of reason. My second problem with Con's statement and argument is that even if one were to accept and agree with Con's statement, it does nothing to demonstrate that there is an objective basis for morality since instead of concluding that the initiation of force is immoral one could just as easily conclude something like, "Since force prevents man from using his reason and therefore surviving I had better use my "self-centered mind" to ensure that no one initiates force against me but that does not mean that it is wrong for me to initiate force against someone else." The argument that the initiation of force is immoral is not objective (independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers: having reality independent of the mind) it is simply Con's opinion.

Con continues with: "If human beings were to forget about morality, objectively things would become harder for everyone. I know. That sounds like a subjective statement. But it is not, death is objectively bad because the only reason in living is to enjoy life, and death makes it, well, harder, to enjoy life." First, it is Pro's position that there is no objective basis for morality and this debate is not about whether or not one should forget about morality. Nowhere in this debate has it been argued by Pro that one should forget about morality. Second, the statement contradicts this statement that Con made three paragraphs earlier: "...the fact that the only purpose of life is to survive and pass on our DNA..." Which is it? Is the only purpose of life to survive or is the only reason for living is to enjoy life?

In the next paragraph, Con argues that a human life is self-owned concluding with "If I am responsible for my own life, preserving my life, enjoying my life, and passing on my DNA, and I retain full control of my body, mind, and reason, then I retain ownership over my life." Here Con combines the two "only" reasons for living to demonstrate that one retains ownership over one's life. I am willing to accept this, for the sake of this debate, but I do not accept Con's conclusion of, "And by living reasonably, I am compelled not to kill or steal or vandalize, because doing so would mean that I would want that to happen to me. And because nobody wants to be killed or have their possessions stolen or vandalized, nobody reasonably kills, as it would violate the laws of reason." Con interjects new terms, "living reasonably" and "the laws of reason", into the argument without providing any context or definition. If the only reason for living is survival and/or enjoying life, then wouldn't "living reasonably" mean surviving and/or enjoying life? Further, how is the statement "I am compelled not to kill or steal or vandalize, because doing so would mean that I would want that to happen to me" anything but Con's opinion? Con needs to provide an objective (independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers: having reality independent of the mind) basis for this statement as I can understand the part about not wanting to have something done to me (I do not want anyone to kill me) but I do not understand the logical leap that gets to something like "I had better not kill the man on the beach because if I do it means that I want to be killed." I would argue that another equally valid conclusion could be, "Since I do not want someone to kill me I had better take care and see to it that no one kills me but that does not mean that it is wrong for me to kill someone else." And again, the statement contradicts this statement from Con in Round 1: "...where killing someone is your only means of surviving, it is not immoral." But if I kill someone, even if it is my only means of surviving, according to Con it means that I want someone to kill me and that violates the laws of reason. So now Con attempts to support the argument that there is an objective basis for morality with: if you kill someone because it is your only means of surviving it is not immoral, but killing someone because it is your only means of surviving violates the laws of reason and is immoral.

In the next paragraph, Con states, "Pro said that war and genocide and general human history proves that we do act without regard to morality." This is not correct; I never wrote this. In Round 1, Con wrote, "Without this idea [human life is of the most importance]... we would act like animals, killing each other for territory and access to limited natural resources; instead, we have accepted the previous idea of morality, and thus have engaged in civilized competition..." I pointed out that Con's argument for an objective basis for morality based on this statement collapses as people do fight and kill each other for territory and natural resources as demonstrated by history. I never stated that war and genocide and general human history prove that human act without regard to morality. The rest of Con's paragraph is irrelevant as Con is attempting to counter an argument that I never made.

Con's arguments have not demonstrated that there is an objective basis for morality. I have shown that not only do some of Con's arguments contradict some of Con's other arguments but I have shown that different and equally valid conclusions can be derived from Con's arguments demonstrating that the arguments are not objective. Con has failed to demonstrate that there is an objective basis for morality and it is still Pro's position that there is not an objective basis for morality; that judging or labeling an action as either moral or immoral is the result of individual belief, or opinion, or preference, or some other non-objective source.
themightyindividual

Con

Before I continue, I must revise my statement, as Pro did not understand them: When I said that the only purpose to life is to enjoy life, and also to survive, I meant those as the same thing. "To survive, thrive, and preserve your ability to survive by raising your standard of living through the accumulation of wealth and thus the ability to enjoy life as well as passing on your DNA to future generations" would be a consolidated definition for the reason for being alive.

My opponent obviously overlooked the fact that killing someone for self-defense is not murder and therefore does not violate laws of reason, and was confused by that. Let me clarify that it is objectively incorrect to kill someone for a purpose other than the prevention of that person killing you. This is because that would be hypocrisy, and hypocrisy is mathematically incorrect (e.g. 1 + 1 = 2 but 2 - 1 = 0?). If an action violates the laws of reason it is violating the human equivalent of the laws of physics. Not only does morality provide the safety of being a human being, it also is the only objective way to live.

If I live by the statement "Since I do not want someone to kill me I had better take care and see to it that no one kills me but that does not mean that it is wrong for me to kill someone else." as Pro said, that would be subjective as it does not reflect reality, only someone's warped views of reality. Morality is a collection of ideas that allow people to live objectively! How could this be objectively incorrect? If I live by the same moral standard that my neighbors lives by, there is an objective standard. Or at least, it is a more objective standard than would exist under a lack of morality or support of morality.

Pro also was confusing my arguments in favor of morality as swaying away from the real issue. I can assure you that I was not trying to change the debate's subject. I was only enforcing my argument in favor of morality's objective existence by proving it's worthiness as an idea, and it's ability to self-sustain and not rely on circular logic.

I will not change the subject of this debate to a theist/atheist argument but I must point out that God represents all thing objectively true and universally correct and morality is definitely an idea that is supported by theism in general.
Debate Round No. 3
AGluttonousAscetic

Pro

Con states, "Before I continue, I must revise my statement, as Pro did not understand them..." I did not misunderstand Con's statements made in Round 2. Con stated, "... the only purpose of life is to survive..." and "... the only reason in living is to enjoy life..." If Con "meant those as the same thing" and now decides to provide a much longer definition with even more terms ("To survive, thrive, and preserve your ability to survive by raising your standard of living through the accumulation of wealth and thus the ability to enjoy life as well as passing on your DNA to future generations") that is Con's prerogative but Con cannot claim that I did not understand Con's two individual statements that were made in two separate paragraphs.

Con then states, "My opponent obviously overlooked the fact that killing someone for self-defense is not murder and therefore does not violate laws of reason, and was confused by that." I did not overlook anything nor was I confused. Con forgets that I addressed this issue in Round 2 after Con stated in Round 1: "However, I must point out that killing someone who does not present and actual danger to you that is equivalent to murder is irrational and unjust." I pointed out in Round 2, and will do so again, that the only objective statement you can make about one man killing another man, on the beach or in general, is that one man killed another man. Once one attaches a label, like murder or self-defense or irrational or unjust, to the act one moves from objective to subjective. Depending on the label that Con chooses to attach to the act of killing a man, murder, self-defense, etc., killing a man becomes either moral or immoral. I asked in Round 2 (Con did not answer) and I will ask again: how do you determine which label to attach to the act and how do you know that the label you attach is the correct label? As I pointed out earlier, one man's murder is another man's self-defense is another man's patriotic duty, etc. So how does one know the difference? Con must provide an objective (independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers: having reality independent of the mind) answer to these questions in order to demonstrate that Con's statement "...killing someone for self-defense is not murder and therefore does not violate laws of reason..." is not just Con's opinion.

Con continues with, "Let me clarify that it is objectively incorrect to kill someone for a purpose other than the prevention of that person killing you." If it is objectively incorrect to kill someone for a purpose other than the prevention of that person killing you, then that would mean that if a person was going to kill your spouse, or a member of your family, or a school bus full of children, but was not going to kill you it would be objectively incorrect to kill that person. While this does nothing to demonstrate that there is an objective basis for morality, Con's statement is not perceptible by all observers as I have personally talked with people who think that it is correct to kill someone who is going to kill others, and is not objective (To head off a claim by Con that I am confused by or did not understand Con's statement, I will point out that I am word-for-word quoting what Con wrote and if Con meant something different then Con should have written something different).

Con continues with "This is because that [it is objectively incorrect to kill someone for a purpose other than the prevention of that person killing you] would be hypocrisy, and hypocrisy is mathematically incorrect (e.g. 1 + 1 = 2 but 2 - 1 = 0?)." I agree that one of the math problems Con presented is incorrect as 2 less 1 does not equal zero but I do not agree that an incorrect math problem represents hypocrisy. Con needs to explain objectively (independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers: having reality independent of the mind) how this works otherwise this statement is just as valid: hypocrisy in mathematically correct (e.g. 1+1 = 2 but 2-1=1?). Further, even if Con can objectively explain how hypocrisy is mathematically incorrect, Con then needs to objectively explain why hypocrisy makes killing the man on the beach incorrect (or immoral). I am assuming that hypocrisy has the meaning set out in the dictionary (1) so if Con has a different definition then Con needs to provide it. I can understand that Con may not like hypocrisy but that does not make hypocrisy immoral or incorrect. I do not like brussels sprouts but that does not make brussels sprouts immoral. Con needs to objectively explain why hypocrisy makes killing the man on the beach incorrect (or immoral).

Con continues with, "If an action violates the laws of reason it is violating the human equivalent of the laws of physics. Not only does morality provide the safety of being a human being, it also is the only objective way to live." Con has provided no evidence supporting these statements so Con is once again presenting opinions that Con expects the reader to accept as correct simply because Con wrote them. Opinions are not objective (independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers: having reality independent of the mind). Con needs to demonstrate that these statements are objectively correct and not just an opinion otherwise equally unsupported but valid opinions could be "If an action violates the laws of reason it is nothing like violating the laws of physics. Not only does morality not provide the safety of being a human being, it also not an objective way to live."

Con's next paragraph starts with, "If I live by the statement "Since I do not want someone to kill me I had better take care and see to it that no one kills me but that does not mean that it is wrong for me to kill someone else." as Pro said, that would be subjective as it does not reflect reality, only someone's warped views of reality." Again we have an unsupported opinion by Con that Con expects the reader to accept as correct simply because Con wrote it. Con needs to provide support for this statement, specifically Con needs to objectively explain what "warped views of reality" are, how one determines if someone, including oneself, has "warped views of reality" or not, and how one can be certain that the determination is correct. I would note that one could argue that if someone believed that they can fly by flapping their arms that could be used as a determination of a warped view of reality as it does not reflect reality, but the context of this debate is morality so Con needs to show how one determines a "warped view of reality" when it comes to morality.

In the same paragraph Con states, "If I live by the same moral standard that my neighbors lives by, there is an objective standard. Or at least, it is a more objective standard than would exist under a lack of morality or support of morality." It appears that Con does not understand the definition of objective as provided in Round 1. If my neighbors live by a moral standard and I live by the same moral standard that does not mean that that standard is objective (independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers: having reality independent of the mind), it simply means that my neighbors and I live by the same standard. Con statement does not demonstrate that there is an objective basis for morality as it show that something could be both moral and immoral. To that point, if Con's statement was correct, it would mean that if Con lived in ancient Rome were slavery was widespread and accepted (2), and Con owned slaves, and Con's neighbors owned slaves, then Con would conclude that, since we all live by the same moral standard, i.e. slavery is moral, then it is an objective standard that slavery is moral, but since Con (according to the profile) lives in the United States and does not own slaves and Con's neighbors do not own slaves, then Con would conclude that, since we all live by the same moral standard, i.e. slavery is immoral, then it is an objective standard that slavery is immoral. Since Con's statement can be used to demonstrate that something can be both moral and immoral, it is not objective and does not prove that there is an objective basis for morality.

Con's arguments continue to be opinions and non-objective statements that demonstrate that something can be both moral and immoral. Since opinions and non-objective statements are not independent of individual thought nor do they have reality independent of the mind, Con has failed to demonstrate that there is an objective basis for morality and it is still Pro's position that there is not an objective basis for morality; that judging or labeling an action as either moral or immoral is the result of individual belief, or opinion, or preference, or some other non-objective source.

(1) http://www.merriam-webster.com...

(2) http://www.vroma.org...
http://ancienthistory.about.com...
http://www.pbs.org...
http://www.crystalinks.com...
http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk...
themightyindividual

Con

Pro said, "if Con lived in ancient Rome were slavery was widespread and accepted (2), and Con owned slaves, and Con's neighbors owned slaves, then Con would conclude that, since we all live by the same moral standard, i.e. slavery is moral". This is both correct and not correct. It is correct in the sense that people would believe that slavery is moral in a society where it is accepted. However, it would not be moral, nonetheless. I apologize for this misunderstanding, I said, "If I live by the same moral standard that my neighbors lives by, there is an objective standard. Or at least, it is a more objective standard than would exist under a lack of morality or support of morality" as a supporting statement, not as a self-supporting statement.

To clarify, there is a set of objective rules in which we live, and that is what real morality is based on. These rules are not subjective (like the ten commandments) but are facts that add up objectively. Something along the lines of "do not initiate force against some other individual as it would prevent him from living peacefully, and you would not want some other individual to initiate force against you as it would prevent you from living peacefully." This statement exists independently of anyone's personal convictions as it does not require interpretation: "any unwarranted action that infringes on another individual's ability to act independently" is sufficient.

Actions as described above are immoral because they prevent another individual from living independently of the perpetrator. Morality is objective because being immoral does not make sense and does not work.

Hypocrisy is mathematically incorrect because it would mean setting a double standard and therefore would mean violating itself twice. If you set a double standard (as you do if you do not follow a moral code) you are violating your own system. Therefore it is objective to act morally.
Debate Round No. 4
AGluttonousAscetic

Pro

Con stated "...I said, "If I live by the same moral standard that my neighbors lives by, there is an objective standard. Or at least, it is a more objective standard than would exist under a lack of morality or support of morality" as a supporting statement, not as a self-supporting statement." This statement, as I demonstrated in Round 4, is not self-supporting nor does in support the position that there is an objective basis for morality as it can be used to demonstrate that something can be both moral and immoral.

Con's next paragraph starts with, "To clarify, there is a set of objective rules in which we live, and that is what real morality is based on. These rules are not subjective (like the ten commandments) but are facts that add up objectively." This debate is about whether or not there is an objective basis (or objective rules) for morality and this statement is just a re-statement of Con's position that there is an objective basis for morality. However, Con has not provided any support for this position other than opinions and arguments that can be used to show that something can be both moral and immoral.

Con continues with, "Something along the lines of "do not initiate force against some other individual as it would prevent him from living peacefully, and you would not want some other individual to initiate force against you as it would prevent you from living peacefully." This statement exists independently of anyone's personal convictions as it does not require interpretation: "any unwarranted action that infringes on another individual's ability to act independently" is sufficient."

The first sentence is similar to Con's statement made in Round 2 regarding the initiation of force. My response is similar to the one I provided in Round 3, that Con's statement is an opinion and does nothing to demonstrate that there is an objective basis for morality since instead of coming to the same opinion as Con one could just as easily come to an opinion like, "I would not want some other individual to initiate force against me as it would prevent me from living peacefully, but that does not mean that it is wrong for me to initiate force against someone else."

Con goes on with, "This statement exists independently of anyone's personal convictions as it does not require interpretation: "any unwarranted action that infringes on another individual's ability to act independently" is sufficient." Con's statement does require interpretation. The act of killing the man on the beach would be a warranted action, according to Con, if someone labeled the action as self-defense and an unwarranted action if someone labeled it murder. But let's examine another example, taxes. There are some who believe that taxes are theft (1) and are an unwarranted action that infringes on another individual's ability to act independently. There are others who believe that taxes are not theft (2) and are not an unwarranted action that infringes on another individual's ability to act independently. Which is it? If different people can attach different meaning to an "unwarranted action" then it does require interpretation and is not sufficient to demonstrate that there is an objective basis for morality therefore the statement is just Con's opinion.

Con's next paragraph starts with, "Actions as described above are immoral because they prevent another individual from living independently of the perpetrator." In addition to not establishing an objective basis for determining that it is immoral if one person is not "living independently of the perpetrator", Con makes the statement more subjective by using the term "perpetrator". To continue the tax example, the people that think that taxation is theft would consider the government collecting the taxes to be a perpetrator. The people that think that taxation is not theft would not consider the government collecting the taxes to be a perpetrator. If the label of "perpetrator" depends on one point of view or beliefs then it is not independent of individual thought and does not have reality independent of the mind.

Con continues with, "Morality is objective because being immoral does not make sense and does not work." This is another unsupported opinion that Con expects the reader to accept as correct simply because Con wrote it. This statement is not objective, specifically because it depends on how one interprets the phrase "does not work". Let us consider someone who murders people since murder is an act that Con has stated is immoral. While there are numerous examples throughout history, I will use Mao Tse-tung. Mao Tse-tung is responsible for the murder of millions of people (3) so, according to Con, Mao Tse-tung was "being immoral". So if Mao was being immoral and being immoral does not work, what did not work for Mao? Mao was the absolute leader of his country; he had every advantage that a human living in his time period could have; he was never thrown in jail or similarly punished for his acts of murder; and he lived a long life and died of natural causes (as opposed to being deposed and killed) (4). Some people could interpret these facts to mean that being immoral does work and other people may interpret these facts to mean that being immoral does not work. It is purely a matter of opinion and not objective.

Con's last paragraph states, "Hypocrisy is mathematically incorrect because it would mean setting a double standard and therefore would mean violating itself twice. If you set a double standard (as you do if you do not follow a moral code) you are violating your own system. Therefore it is objective to act morally."

Con now states that hypocrisy is mathematically incorrect, not because of the use of correct and incorrect math problems as in Round 3 but because it would mean setting a double standard. Similar to my response in Round 4 concerning hypocrisy, I will state that I can understand that Con may not like hypocrisy or double standards but that does not make hypocrisy or double standards immoral or incorrect. I stated in Round 4 that I do not like brussels sprouts but that does not make them immoral and will add that I also do not like double standards but that does not make double standards immoral it just means that I do not like them.

Throughout this debate Con has attempted to demonstrate that there is an objective basis for morality by using unsupported opinions and subjective arguments that can be used to show that something is moral and immoral depending on how it is used. Since opinions and non-objective statements are not independent of individual thought nor do they have reality independent of the mind, Con has failed to demonstrate that there is an objective basis for morality and it is still Pro's position that there is not an objective basis for morality; that judging or labeling an action as either moral or immoral is the result of individual belief, or opinion, or preference, or some other non-objective source.

Thank you for reading and thanks to themightyindividual for participating in this debate. I appreciate the opportunity to increase my knowledge on this subject and I hope that everyone enjoyed this debate as much as I have.

(1) http://www.huppi.com...
http://www.libertarian.co.uk...
(2) http://www.philosophyetc.net...
http://whistlinginthewind.org...
(3) http://www.independent.co.uk...
http://www.heritage.org...
http://www.abc.net.au...
(4) http://www.bbc.co.uk...
http://www.history.com...
http://www.washingtonpost.com...
http://www.nytimes.com...
themightyindividual

Con

I have shown how morality is objectively existent and I do not know how I can get Pro to accept this. The fact that hypocrisy is backwards to reality is made apparent by my arguments but even though this undeniable my opponent has labeled it as "subjective". Just as a double standard is not a working system, a society without regard to morality is not a working system. This means that some rules for acting civilized must exist. Whether they were created by God or exist along side the laws of physics, laws of economics, laws of chemistry, laws of biology, and laws of psychology is up for debate. However, it is very obvious that there is morality on a certain level of reality.

This debate has been enjoyable and I am glad I participated in it, thank you to AGluttonousAscetic and to the voters of this debate.
Debate Round No. 5
12 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by RoyLatham 1 year ago
RoyLatham
In recent years there has been a lot of talk among scientists about measuring happiness objectively with a brain scan. [e.g. http://www.popsci.com...] It hasn't been done, but it's easy to conceive. Morality is then defined as "The set of rules for social interaction that maximizes the happiness of a species." Humans are a difficult case because they are not a species that lives in isolation like tigers, nor one totally committed to a group (like bees). The objective definition does not imply that humans are particularly adept at discover the right set of social rules, nor does it imply that there is always a morally better answer to every question. Human history tracks the slow evolution of moral rules as failed attempts are discarded in favor of better rules. Pro won the debate because, essentially, he had the right concept.

In philosophy, the concept of morality derived from human nature is "naturalism." it's been around for a long time. The Declaration of Independence, per Jefferson, says, "We hold these truths to be self-evident ..." and gives some moral rules. As Deist, Jefferson thought human nature came from God, but morality was not revealed, but rather observed. That works for atheists too, and to Christians Jefferson argued in effect argued, successfully, that divine revelation must agree with human nature, so there can be no contradiction.

In a debate, sources must be tied to a specific claim. So "All wombats are furry. [1. ... The Journal of wombat physiology]" In this debate no sources of any significance were cited to support specific points; they were offered as reading lists. That means sources were not relevant to the debate. Having no sources is common for basically philosophical debates.
Posted by Chaosism 1 year ago
Chaosism
--- Expanded RFD: Arguments ---

The core of this debate hinges on the definition of "objective", which is provided in R1. All in all, this was a rather tedious debate to read through because both participants were arguing from slightly different levels of understanding. Con's examples and arguments never actually qualified as objective because they relied on one's perception and assigned labels to make a judgment, which is subjective. For instance, his statement ""do not initiate force against some other individual as it would prevent him from living peacefully, and you would not want some other individual to initiate force against you as it would prevent you from living peacefully." falls into subjective territory with the word "want", as it now is dependent on the individual's values of living peacefully. Other labels, such as "murder", are dependent on the circumstances and therefore justification of an observer is required, which is subjective. If killing is objectively immoral, then killing is immoral. Period. Pro countered each point with this reasoning. Arguments to Pro.
Posted by AGluttonousAscetic 1 year ago
AGluttonousAscetic
Rami

I chose to have the scenario take place on an island in an attempt to remove society from the discussion. By placing the scenario on an island it renders any subjective argument such as "society doesn"t allow it" or anything like it moot from the beginning (although I would not be surprised if someone attempts to make a society-based argument). Additionally, I would not create a scenario "where you just murder a random person on the street" to discuss objective morality because the use of the term "murder" (which is subjective) skews the debate in one direction from the start.
Posted by Rami 1 year ago
Rami
I wonder, why have a case on an island? If you think that morality is subjective, then why not have a case where you just murder a random person on the street?
Posted by AGluttonousAscetic 1 year ago
AGluttonousAscetic
Rami

Do not worry; I have no intention of getting into a debate about whether or not god exists. All I wanted to know is what you thought would "bring morality". If your answer is that it is "Divine morality" along with reason that brings morality, then my question is answered.
Posted by Rami 1 year ago
Rami
I notice that there are few believers in god who think that morality is subjective. Divine moraility is the answer to your second answer. But still, belief in god alone will not bring morality, as shown in the bitter christin crusades and other cruelties. Please let's not get into a debate whether or not god exists, because these debates are counterproductive.
Posted by AGluttonousAscetic 1 year ago
AGluttonousAscetic
Rami

You are free to assume anything that you want, of course, but I am curious: why did you assume that this debate was made by an atheist? Additionally, since you stated that reason alone will not bring morality, I am wondering what, if not reason alone, will "bring morality"? If you think that morality is objective, I would be interested in reading your thoughts.
Posted by AGluttonousAscetic 1 year ago
AGluttonousAscetic
TheJuniorVarsityNovice

I like the idea of your pornography argument. Have you started, or participated in, that debate on this site? I did consider shifting the burden of proof to either to pro or to a shared burden but I find it difficult to do so because my contention is that something (objective morality in this case) does not exist. To me, it is difficult to prove or demonstrate that something does not exist without the arguments simply becoming "There is no proof that x exists" or "Your proof that x exists does not hold up because"" Take the example of making an argument that unicorns do not exist. As far as I can see, your argument would be that there is no evidence that unicorns do exist as opposed to presenting evidence that unicorns do not exist. If you have any suggestions as to how to shift the burden of proof, I would be interested in reading them.
Posted by AGluttonousAscetic 1 year ago
AGluttonousAscetic
LostintheEcho1498

It sounds like you think that objective morality does not exist and that morality comes from our emotions or what we are taught or our beliefs. If you have ideas that demonstrate that morality is objective, I would love to read them.
Posted by Rami 1 year ago
Rami
I assume this debate was made by an atheist. In this case, morality is completely subjective and the only way it is shown in a bad light because I don't like it. Reason alone will not bring morality. In the case of nazi Germany, when they were oppressing all those people, reason dictated that one shouldn't get up and protest, because one's life takes priority over another. I believe most people considered those who did protest and helped out the oppressed good people who did the moral thing. However, they acted against reason.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 1 year ago
RoyLatham
AGluttonousAsceticthemightyindividualTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Good debate. I think the most important issue is whether humans are social animals whose nature is programmed by DNA for survival. Morality is then the set of rules of action most consistent with survival. Pro argued that the existence of war disproves that concept, but I think that argument falls short, and Pro made the case that morality is a consequence of evolution. Con might have bolstered his case by citing examples in nature: the praying mantis eats her mate and the promotes the survival of that particular species. The rules objectively depend upon the nature of a species. Pro seemed to demand a mathematical derivation of morality and to rotely discount anything short of that. "Objective" includes data from accurate observation. Pro loses conduct for abrasive condescension, although it wasn't terrible, just annoying enough to be a distraction. Neither side pointed to a reference to support a specific point. A reading list is not a source.
Vote Placed by Chaosism 1 year ago
Chaosism
AGluttonousAsceticthemightyindividualTied
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Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct was good by both participants, as was spelling and grammar. See expanded RFD for arguments in Comments. Pro used a multitude of sources to support his arguments, while Con only referenced a source once; Sources to Pro.