The Instigator
AGluttonousAscetic
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
Mike_10-4
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

There is no objective basis for morality.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/22/2015 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 697 times Debate No: 76808
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (12)
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AGluttonousAscetic

Pro

I am posting a debate on this subject again because this is a subject that I am interested in and I am seeking thoughts and ideas on it. The last debates are here:

http://www.debate.org...
http://www.debate.org...

My position is that an objective basis for morality has not been shown to exist; 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 and, due to being unconscious, the man has not interacted with me in any way.

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.

Let me clarify that this debate is not about the existence of morality. I think that you have (and nearly everyone has ) a concept that you refer to as morality and that by using your particular concept of morality you make determinations about whether or not some action is moral or immoral. I am not arguing that morality does not exist, or that you do (or anyone does) not have a concept of morality, or that a particular concept of morality is correct or incorrect. Please do not attempt to change the argument to one about the existence of morality.

Further, I am not making the argument that there is no such thing as a concept of morality that has an objective basis. It is possible that a concept of morality that has an objective basis exists but as I have not been provided evidence of this and every concept of morality that I have encountered has been shown to be subjective, I am arguing that whatever your concept of morality is, it is not objective but subjective i.e. the result of individual belief, or opinion, or preference, or some other non-objective source.

The burden of proof will be shared. Con needs to provide a sustainable argument(s) that demonstrates that killing the man was objectively either moral or immoral. Pro needs to demonstrate that the arguments provided are not objective.

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.
Mike_10-4

Con

I too find interest in this subject and may we both enjoy a mutual moral exchange of ideas. The goal of a “moral” mutual exchange of ideas is when we both receive positive feedback from the learning experience during the exchange.

Morality is an outgrowth of life's Unalienable Rights, which is an outgrowth of the physical Constructal Law, which is an outgrowth of the Laws of Thermodynamics. Morality is part of the physical Laws of Nature, not metaphysical.

Please bear with me as we take a journey following the traceable path from Thermodynamics (moments after the Big Bang) to Morality. The Laws of Thermodynamics deals with the direction of energy flow. Constructal Law deals with patterns generated by the dynamics of energy flow, within a space that can freely morph relative to resistance, presents configuration during the evolution of biology, physics, technology and social organization. At the biological level once alive, “Life,” must have the freedom (“Liberty” in the optimization relative to resistance), in “the pursuit (energy flow) of” survival; otherwise, there is no life. Since we have life, survival is a form of positive feedback and a prerequisite for human “Happiness.” Hence, Thomas Jefferson's discovery, which he declared “self-evident” and used the label “Unalienable Rights” representing a polished version of this bio-program, pertaining to the flow dynamics of life, in his following celebrated statement, “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The following is a video overview of the Constructal Law:
http://www.youtube.com...

The following video shows Unalienable Rights are a manifestation of the Constructal Law.
https://www.youtube.com...

Now that we got that out of the way.

Let's go back to your Island where you stated the following:

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.”

Whether you knew it or not, you are trapped within the matrix of the Laws of Nature, the set of omnipotent “objective” Laws, the basic “phenomenon” found throughout Nature. In other words, for you to make tools, collect water, construct a shelter, you must morally follow those Laws in Nature to obtain positive feedback relative to accomplishing your goal. If you immorally go against those Laws you will failed in making tools, collecting water, and construct a shelter.

Now it comes down to that “man” in question. It was obvious that your goal was to kill that man. You morally followed the Laws of Nature to fulfill your goal. And as a result, you most likely receive positive feedback from your accomplished goal.

In conclusion, for life to survive (Pro's island example) or to pursue any goal, it must morally follow the Laws of Nature, those omnipotent “objectives, phenomenon,” the basis found throughout Nature, "independent of individual thought;" otherwise, an immoral action will result in failure.

And from this thesis I conclude: There is objective basis for morality.
Debate Round No. 1
AGluttonousAscetic

Pro

I would like to thank Mike_10-4 for accepting this debate and I look forward to furthering my understanding of this issue.

A note on my style before proceeding: My responses may involve addressing Con's arguments paragraph by paragraph, something even line by line. I realize that this approach may be tedious to read especially when I raise the same objection multiple times but I do it to 1) point out the problems I find in the arguments, and 2) out of concern that my failure to address a point, especially terms that can have different meanings and/or interpretations, may be construed as acceptance of that point or term. I apologize in advance if the reader finds this tedious and I welcome suggestions as to how to improve.

Con's opening statement contains, "...enjoy a mutual moral exchange of ideas. The goal of a "moral" mutual exchange of ideas is when we both receive positive feedback from the learning experience during the exchange." Con fails to provide an objective definition of "moral". Additionally, unless Con can demonstrate otherwise, it is purely Con's opinion that the goal of a moral (however that is defined) mutual exchange is to receive positive feedback. Further, the phrase "positive feedback" has not been objectively defined so it can mean anything anyone desires. At this point, I may enjoy a mutual moral exchange of ideas depending on what that means and I may not enjoy a mutual moral exchange of ideas; and I may be able to agree that the goal of a moral mutual exchange is to receive positive feedback depending on what that means, and I may not be able to agree.

Con's next paragraph is nothing but a series of opinions which Con attempts to explain in the third paragraph.

I am not a physicist and I do not have a strong enough background in the sciences to adequately judge whether Con's description of the Laws of Thermodynamics and Constructal Law in the third paragraph are correct or not, but I will accept them for the sake of this debate.

While I will accept Con's descriptions, I do not accept Con's conclusions. Con states, "At the biological level once alive, "Life," must have the freedom ("Liberty" in the optimization relative to resistance), in "the pursuit (energy flow) of" survival; otherwise, there is no life."

The statements made here are vague and undefined. What does it mean that life must have freedom in the pursuit of survival otherwise there is no life? Is that freedom from all restrictions? Are some restrictions alright while others are not? Does life mean alive (not dead) or does it mean something else? If a person is convicted of a crime and placed in prison that person loses freedom but does not die, there is life. Perhaps, this statement means something like, "once something is alive it must fulfill its requirements for staying alive otherwise it will not be alive." Since I can interpret this statement in different ways and show how in some cases it is not true, Con needs to clarify the statement before it can be meaningful.

Con's next statement is, "Since we have life, survival is a form of positive feedback and a prerequisite for human "Happiness." As mentioned earlier Con has not provided a definition for "positive feedback" so there is no way to know whether or not survival is a form of positive feedback. Is the "positive feedback" due to survival different than the "positive feedback" due to a learning experience? Once Con provides an objective definition then the statement can be re-evaluated. Con states that survival is a prerequisite for human happiness. Con needs to provide an objective definition of both "survival" and "happiness" in order for this statement to be evaluated. Does survival mean, in humans for example, only meeting the very basic needs that keep the body alive or does it mean something else? Does happiness mean the same thing to everyone or does it mean different things to different people?

Con then provides links to youtube videos. While I thank Con for the links, I only accept the links as additional sources of information and not as demonstrative support for any of Con's positions. It is my opinion that the existence of youtube videos, even if the videos are entertaining and interesting, does not mean that those videos are correct nor do they provide objective evidence that one's positions or ideas are correct, otherwise I could make a youtube video stating that there is no objective basis for morality and link to it as support for my position.

Con then states, "Now that we got that out of the way." While I am not exactly sure what Con means by this statement, I infer that Con believes that the youtube videos and the earlier paragraphs provide absolute proof that there is an objective basis for morality and that this should be evident to any reader. Since I have asked questions concerning what I deem to be opinions and have pointed out vague, undefined terms in Con's arguments, nothing has been gotten out of the way. Of course if Con meant something different from what I have inferred, I will be happy to read it.

Con's next paragraph states, 'Whether you knew it or not, you are trapped within the matrix of the Laws of Nature, the set of omnipotent "objective" Laws, the basic "phenomenon" found throughout Nature. In other words, for you to make tools, collect water, construct a shelter, you must morally follow those Laws in Nature to obtain positive feedback relative to accomplishing your goal. If you immorally go against those Laws you will failed in making tools, collecting water, and construct a shelter."

I am unclear as to what Con is attempting to say in this paragraph. What does "morally" mean in this case? Is the definition of moral different than the definition for a moral exchange of ideas? If I fail to collect water because there is a drought and there is no water to collect does that mean that I did not morally follow the laws of nature? Does it mean that I immorally went against the laws of nature therefore I failed to collect water even though there was no water to collect? If I fail to collect water because I slept all day does that mean I did not morally follow the laws of nature? The result, failure to collect water, is the same whether I slept all day or if there was a drought. Did I fail to collect the water because I immorally went against the laws of nature in both cases? What if I only collected some water but not as much as I intended to collect, does that mean that I was somewhat morally following the laws of nature?

Con continues in the next paragraph with, "Now it comes down to that "man" in question. It was obvious that your goal was to kill that man. You morally followed the Laws of Nature to fulfill your goal. And as a result, you most likely receive positive feedback from your accomplished goal."

Con does not provide a conclusion: was killing the man on the beach moral or immoral? How does Con know that I "morally followed the Laws of Nature" when I killed the man? If I morally followed the Laws of Nature to fulfill my goal of killing the man, does that mean that if I had failed to kill the man then I was immorally following the Laws of Nature? If I accidently killed the man on the beach, does that mean that I morally followed the Laws of Nature?

Con concludes with, "In conclusion, for life to survive (Pro's island example) or to pursue any goal, it must morally follow the Laws of Nature, those omnipotent "objectives, phenomenon," the basis found throughout Nature, "independent of individual thought;" otherwise, an immoral action will result in failure."

Again, I am unclear as to what Con is attempting to say in this paragraph. Per Con, for my life to survive or for me to pursue any goal, I need to morally follow the Laws of Nature. So if I pursue the goal of killing myself and I succeed then did I morally follow the Laws of Nature even though life did not survive? But if I pursue the goal of killing myself and I fail then did I immorally followed the Laws of Nature even though life survived? If I get a disease that kills me, did I immorally follow the Laws of Nature because the disease kills me? Did the man on the beach immorally follow the Laws of Nature because he failed to survive?

Con has not demonstrated that there is an objective basis for morality. Rather, Con has provided undefined terms and opinions that the reader is expected to accept as true. I believe that I have demonstrated that Con's arguments so far are not objective but come from Con's individual belief, or opinion, or preference, or some other non-objective source.
Mike_10-4

Con

My apologies for not adequately defining my terms. I'll try to simplify.

Pro defined, in Round 1, the term “objective:”

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.”

Only the physical Laws of Nature represents a “phenomenon, or condition in the realm of sensible experience independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers : having reality independent of the mind.”

Therefore, the scope of my position is in the physical domain not metaphysical.

The physical Laws of Nature is the omnipotent set of rules for the machinery of nature. Hence the evolution of life, humans, physics, technology and social organization, all a part of nature, via the physical Constructal Law.

Morality is a binary construct. When one follows a set of rules, one is moral. On the other hand, when one does not follow a set of rules, one is immoral.

The set of rules in my position is the “objective” physical Laws of Nature. Not some subjective metaphysical set of human rules, commonly referred to a code of ethics, moral codes, etc.

When one follows (morally) the Laws of Nature in the pursuit of a goal, upon success one usually feels happiness (positive feedback). When one does not follow (immorally) the Laws of Nature in the pursuit of a goal, upon failure one usually feels unhappiness (negative feedback).

For example, Pro asked the following question:

So if I [Pro] pursue the goal of killing myself and I succeed then did I morally follow the Laws of Nature even though life did not survive?

The answer is, yes! You morally followed the Laws of Nature in the pursuit of your goal to commit suicide. Imagine, how upset you may feel (negative feedback), if you wake up knowing that you were unsuccessful in your goal.

I could go through, one by one, the long list of Pro's questions, demonstrating the moral and immoral results relative to the “objective” physical Laws of Nature. But I decided to take the one that ends Pro's life as being an adequate example, which effectively addresses the other questions.

In reality, Pro did not commit suicide, and therefore, I'm looking forward for Pro's burden of proof that the physical Laws of Nature are not “objective.” Those “objective” set of rules, the “basis for morally” working within the awesome machinery of nature resulting in the fruits of technology, food production, and medicine, the stables of human existence throughout the world today.
Debate Round No. 2
AGluttonousAscetic

Pro

I will tentatively agree with Con that the physical Laws of Nature (e.g. the Laws of Thermodynamics) are objective, however Con still needs to provide further clarification of Con's definition of the "Laws of Nature". In Round 1 Con stated, "It was obvious that your goal was to kill that man. You morally followed the Laws of Nature to fulfill your goal." In Round 2 Con states, "You morally followed the Laws of Nature in the pursuit of your goal to commit suicide" and "The physical Laws of Nature is the omnipotent set of rules for the machinery of nature." What "Laws of Nature" did I follow when I killed the man on the beach and when I killed myself? To be clear, I am not asking about the laws of nature that may have caused the man on the beach, or me, to die (e.g. I strangled the man preventing him from getting oxygen and because the laws of nature dictate that a human needs oxygen in order to live and I deprived the man of oxygen he died), rather I am asking about the laws of nature, the omnipotent set of rules for the machinery of nature, that Con believes I was following when I formed the goal to kill the man and when I formed the goal to kill myself and what laws I was following when I acted to fulfill my goals. This needs to be clarified so that we can be sure that we both mean the same thing when using the term "Laws of Nature".

For reference, Con's main argument appears to be in paragraphs 4 through 9 in Round 2, starting and ending with, "Only the physical Laws of Nature...upon failure one usually feels unhappiness (negative feedback)", and most of the quotes I provide are from these paragraphs.

Con claims that the scope of Con's argument is in the physical domain and not the metaphysical domain because Con is dealing with the physical Laws of Nature and not some subjective set of human rules commonly referred to as a code of ethics or a moral code. However, Con does not confine the scope of the argument to the physical domain but moves it squarely into the metaphysical domain by providing Con's very own moral code of "When one follows a set of rules, one is moral. On the other hand, when one does not follow a set of rules, one is immoral."

Now, if Con had stated something like, "When one follows a set of rules, one follows a set of rules and when one does not follow a set of rules, one does not follow a set of rules" I would agree that Con's argument is in the physical domain and not the metaphysical domain since this would be an objective statement of facts, but this is not what Con has done.

As soon as Con's moral code was stated, a metaphysical question arose: "Why is one moral when one follows a set of rules and immoral when one does not follow a set of rules?" At this point, Con has not provided an objective Law of Nature (e.g. another Law of Thermodynamics) that answers that question and I do not believe that there is an answer because the act of labeling something as either moral or immoral is subjective; not independent of individual thought (this is Con's thought), not perceptible by all observers (Pro, for one, does not perceive this the way Con perceives it), and does not have reality independent of the mind. I could just as easily provide my own moral code of "When one follows a set of rules, one is immoral and when one does not follow a set of rules, one is moral" and it would have just as much reality independent of mind as Con's moral code.

Now Con may be attempting to answer the metaphysical question when Con states, "When one follows (morally) the Laws of Nature in the pursuit of a goal, upon success one usually feels happiness (positive feedback). When one does not follow (immorally) the Laws of Nature in the pursuit of a goal, upon failure one usually feels unhappiness (negative feedback)." However, much like labeling something as moral or immoral, the act of labeling a feeling, especially someone else's feeling, is subjective. Just because Con may feel something upon the successful pursuit of a goal and calls that feeling happiness, does not mean that anyone else, upon the successful pursuit of a goal or even the successful pursuit of the same goal as Con, will feel something, or feel the same thing, or call that feeling happiness. Con acknowledges as much by the use of the qualifier "usually". The use of the term "usually" means that it is possible that if you follow the Laws of Nature in pursuit of a goal (acting morally under Con's moral code) upon success, you could feel either happiness or unhappiness. Further, even if this is Con"s attempt to answer the first metaphysical question, the attempt raises an additional metaphysical question of "Even if one did feel happiness when one follows a set of rules and successfully pursues a goal, why does the feeling of happiness mean that one is moral when one follows a set of rules?"

Additionally, in my last round I asked Con to provide objective definitions for "positive feedback" and for "happiness" and it appears that Con has now equated "happiness" and "positive feedback" with the statement, "...one usually feels happiness (positive feedback)." I must ask Con for clarification because if "positive feedback" and "happiness" are synonymous then Con's statement from Round 1, "Since we have life, survival is a form of positive feedback and a prerequisite for human "Happiness"" reads as: "Since we have life, survival is a form of positive feedback and a prerequisite for human positive feedback", or "Since we have life, survival is a form of happiness and a prerequisite for human happiness".

To continue the island example, an objective statement about killing the man on the beach would be something like "I killed the man on the beach" or "The man on the beach was killed." But Con has described the killing of the man on the beach as me following the Laws of Nature and successfully pursuing my goal of killing the man. Therefore, according to Con's moral code, since I followed a set of rules, the killing of the man on the beach was moral. Once the act is labeled as "moral", or "immoral", or "murder" or "self-defense" or "entertainment" or "an act of God" or "the successful pursuit of a goal" or anything thing else you have moved from objective to subjective because someone else could label the act in a completely different way and unless an objective reason is given for the label (and one has not been given in this case) there is no more objective basis for one label than for another label.

Throughout this debate so far, it appears that Con has attempted to demonstrate that there is an objective basis for morality with a variation of the "is-ought problem" (1). Con seems to imply that since there are objective laws of nature (is), then there is an objective basis for morality (ought). Con has added the concept of "a goal" to the problem which would state the problem like: if you want to achieve X and there is a set of rules that dictate how X is achieved (is), then you should follow the set of rules to achieve X (ought). It appears that Con believes that following the rules to achieve X constitutes morality and that this morality is objective.

While I would agree that the objective laws of nature tell us what we ought to do in order to achieve certain goals (e.g. if my goal is to stay alive, I ought to eat food and not poison because the laws of nature dictate that the human body will stay alive by eating food and will die by eating poison), I do not think that these same objective laws of nature tell us what we ought to do in order to achieve other goals nor, as I have demonstrated, do they tell us anything about morality.

In the last paragraph, Con states, "...I'm looking forward for Pro's burden of proof that the physical Laws of Nature are not "objective."" The burden of proof for this debate is not for Pro to demonstrate that the physical Laws of Nature are not objective; it is for Pro to demonstrate that the arguments provided by Con that the killing of the man on the beach was either moral or immoral are not objective. Con has proposed a moral system and used that system to determine that killing the man on the beach was moral and over the course of this round I have demonstrated that Con's moral system is not objective. Thus far, Pro's burden of proof for this debate has been met.

1) http://www.philosophy-index.com...
Mike_10-4

Con

Definition of the Physical Laws of Nature:
https://en.wikipedia.org...

A physical Law in Nature is discovered by the scientific method--a body of techniques used to investigate phenomena through experimental observations that are measurable and repeatable.

Within the context of my argument, I use the term “physical Laws of Nature” or “Laws of Nature,” interchangeably, to refer to laws based on observations that a particular phenomenon always occurs under certain conditions. Such repeatable phenomenon brings into existence a set of universally accepted terms and definitions describing a physical law within the scientific community. These physical laws include the Laws of Gravity, Newton's Laws of Motion, the Laws of Aerodynamics, the Laws of Thermodynamics, the Constructal Law, to name a few. Some of these Laws are associated with physical constants. The following is a list of some of these constants:
http://www.ebyte.it...

The names of some of these laws are in honor of the scientists who discovered them, but those scientists did not create the Laws, and there are many more Laws yet to be discovered. These Laws of Nature existed throughout the universe long before the existence of humans. Therefore, these Laws are not metaphysical, that is, based on one's belief or philosophy. Hence; these Laws are “Objective” based on Pro's definition of “Objective” in Round 1.

In Round 1 Pro also made the following statement:

Let me clarify that this debate is not about the existence of morality. I think that you have (and nearly everyone has ) a concept that you refer to as morality and that by using your particular concept of morality you make determinations about whether or not some action is moral or immoral.”

Again, the following is my concept of morality. Morality is a binary construct. If I may, under the advice of Pro, "When one follows a set of rules, one follows a set of rules [moral] and when one does not follow a set of rules, one does not follow a set of rules [immoral]."

My concept of morality is based on the following definitions:
Moral: “conforming to the rules of right conduct (opposed to immoral).”
http://dictionary.reference.com...

Conduct: “direction or management; execution.”
http://dictionary.reference.com...

Relative to the “Objective basis for morality” whatever one decides to do in the physical domain must morally comply (“right conduct”) with those “Objective” set of rules defined by the physical Laws of Nature; otherwise, failure will be the norm. Anything we do in the physical universe, of which we are part of, we must morally follow those “Objective” Laws of Nature, to fulfill our pursuits, for we are trapped within the matrix of those Laws, there are no exceptions.

As for Pro killing that man on the beach. Pro had to morally follow a Law in Nature as Pro himself stated, “I strangled the man preventing him from getting oxygen and because the laws of nature dictate that a human needs oxygen in order to live and I deprived the man of oxygen he died.”

Exactly! As Pro stated “... the laws of nature dictate that a human needs oxygen ...” and therefore, for Pro to fulfill his goal, he must morally follow that “objective” set by the Laws of Nature; otherwise, the man lives.

Pro went on to say, “I am asking about the laws of nature, the omnipotent set of rules for the machinery of nature, that Con believes I was following when I formed the goal to kill the man and when I formed the goal to kill myself and what laws I was following when I acted to fulfill my goals.”

If there are any physical Laws in Nature that causes one to form a goal, they have yet to be discovered. Until then, forming a goal is simply metaphysical as a function of one's philosophy. In general, metaphysics is a philosophical response relative to the subtle machinery of nature, until the scientific method presents the incarnation of clarity.

As for the last part of Pro's statement, “... and what laws I was following when I acted to fulfill my goals.” Pro already stated the answer, “... the laws of nature dictate that a human needs oxygen ...”

Again, I would like to emphasize, the set of rules in my position is the “objective” physical Laws of Nature. Not some subjective metaphysical set of human rules, commonly referred to a code of ethics, moral codes, etc.

Pro did not specify this debate to be limited only to the metaphysics of morality relative to the subjective nature of ethics as a function of philosophy.

As for the difference and similarity of happiness and positive feedback are a function of the bio-level under discussion. At the level of a single living cell there are bio-feedbacks needed for the cell to survive.
http://www.sciencemag.org...
At the level of higher brain functions there is bio-feedbacks generating the emotional feelings of what us humans perceive such as happiness, unhappiness, depression, etc.

So to shorten the discussion I generalized both survival (a prerequisite for human happiness) and happiness as positive feedback. I also generalized in the pursuit of one's goal, a success is feedback that usually (but not always) results in positive feedback (aka happiness, a smile, orgasm, or whatever bio-fixation one perceives as pleasurable, etc.).

Pro also stated, “Therefore, according to Con's moral code, since I followed a set of rules, the killing of the man on the beach was moral.”

I (Con) did not, anywhere in this debate mentioned or made any references to “Con's moral code.” The only “code” I made reference to is the “objective” physical universal code known as the Laws of Nature. And if Pro or Con wants to get anything done in the physical domain, we must follow (aka moral compliance) that physical code; otherwise, if we do not follow (aka immoral not complying) that physical code, it is not going to get done.

Since Pro stated, “I [Pro] will tentatively agree with Con that the physical Laws of Nature (e.g. the Laws of Thermodynamics) are objective ...” It would seem, this debate is “tentatively” coming to the conclusion in compliance that there isObjective Basis for Morality.”
Debate Round No. 3
AGluttonousAscetic

Pro

I accept that there are objective physical Laws of Nature, such as the Laws of Thermodynamics. However, Con has not established that there is any objective connection between the Laws of Nature and morality.

In Round 2 Con stated, "When one follows a set of rules, one is moral. On the other hand, when one does not follow a set of rules, one is immoral." In Round 3 Con stated, "Again, the following is my concept of morality. Morality is a binary construct. If I may, under the advice of Pro, "When one follows a set of rules, one follows a set of rules [moral] and when one does not follow a set of rules, one does not follow a set of rules [immoral].""

All that Con has done with this concept of morality is decide to state that following the objective Laws of Nature is moral and not following them in immoral and therefore there is an objective basis for morality. But this is an arbitrary decision on Con's part. I could arbitrarily decide that "When one follows a set of rules, one follows a set of rules [bxftyz] and when one does not follow a set of rules, one does not follow a set of rules [not-bxftyz]" and claim that there is an objective basis for "bxftyz". I made up the term "bxftyz" and arbitrarily used it to define following a set of rules. Con has done something similar only Con is using the terms "moral" and "immoral" rather than "bxftyz" and "not-bxftyz" in, what appears to be, an attempt to cause the reader to make a connection between the Laws of Nature and morality where none exists.

For Con to begin to demonstrate that there is any connection between the objective Laws of Nature and morality, Con has to first provide an objective answer to the question that I posed in the last round: Why is one moral when one follows a set of rules and immoral when one does not follow a set of rules?

Unless Con can provide an objective answer to this question, Con fails, at the start, to establish a connection between the objective Laws of Nature and morality. Without an objective answer, Con's concept of morality, just like my concept of "bxftyz", is nothing but an arbitrary statement. Both concepts claim a connection to the Laws of Nature (a set of rules) but neither establishes an objective connection between the Laws of Nature and the concepts; both concepts are nothing but opinion and the subjective products of our respective minds.

To further demonstrate that Con's concept of morality is nothing but a subjective product of Con's mind, consider Con's statement of "My concept of morality is based on the following definitions [from Dictionary.com]: Moral: "conforming to the rules of right conduct (opposed to immoral)...Conduct: "direction or management; execution.""

According to Dictionary.com there are seven definitions for the adjective "moral" (1) and four definitions for the noun "conduct" (2). On what objective basis did Con decide to use "conforming to the rules of right conduct (opposed to immoral)" for the definition of "moral"? Why didn't Con choose the definition "virtuous in sexual matters; chaste" so that Con's concept of morality would read as "When one follows a set of rules, one is virtuous in sexual matters"? Additionally, the Merriam-Webster dictionary has seven entries for the definition of "moral" (3) and three entries for the definition of "conduct" (4). On what objective basis did Con choose to use a particular definition found in one dictionary and not another dictionary? The answers, I believe, are that Con chose a particular definition out of a particular dictionary because that definition supported Con's opinion while the other definitions did not support Con's opinion (or at least did not support it as well). It was a purely subjective choice on Con's part and further demonstrates that Con's concept of morality is nothing but a subjective product of Con's mind.

For additional evidence on this point, consider Con's statement of "The only "code" I made reference to is the "objective" physical universal code known as the Laws of Nature. And if Pro or Con wants to get anything done in the physical domain, we must follow (aka moral compliance) that physical code; otherwise, if we do not follow (aka immoral not complying) that physical code, it is not going to get done."

Taking this statement as written, when Con chose a particular definition for "moral" out of all of the possible definitions available, Con got something done in the physical domain [This had to be done in the physical domain because it is a part of the scope of Con's position and according to Con: "...the scope of my position is in the physical domain not metaphysical."]. Therefore, Con must have followed the Laws of Nature, that physical code, to choose that particular definition for "moral" out of all of the possible definitions available otherwise it was "not going to get done" and Con would not have been able to choose that particular definition. So what Law of Nature, the Laws of Gravity, Newton's Laws of Motion, etc., did Con follow to choose that particular definition for the term "moral"? And if I choose to use a different definition of "moral" (e.g. virtuous in sexual matters; chaste), it means that I also got something done in the physical domain and therefore, I must have also followed the Laws of Nature, that physical code, to choose that particular definition for "moral" out of all of the possible definitions available otherwise it was "not going to get done" and I would not have been able to choose that particular definition. Was I following a different Law of Nature than Con when I made my choice? If I was following the same Law of Nature as Con, how did I make a different choice and come to a different conclusion about the definition of "moral"? If I was following a different Law of Nature than Con, how is there an objective basis for a concept of morality when following different Laws of Nature leads to different definitions of "moral"? Since both Con and I chose different definitions, does that mean that one of us was not following the Laws of Nature even though both Con and I got something done in the physical domain? Any answers to these questions, I believe, will be nothing but a subjective product of Con's mind and will do nothing to demonstrate that there is an objective basis for morality.

So far in this debate, all Con has done is to arbitrarily decide that the objective Laws of Nature and morality are connected and then claim that there is an objective basis for morality. Again, for Con to begin to demonstrate that there is any connection between the objective Laws of Nature and morality, Con has to first provide an objective answer to the question: Why is one moral when one follows a set of rules and immoral when one does not follow a set of rules?

Unless Con can provide an objective answer to this question, Con fails to establish a connection between the objective Laws of Nature and morality as Con's concept of morality is nothing but an arbitrary statement based on individual belief, or opinion, or preference, or some other non-objective source and does not demonstrate that there is an objective basis for morality.

1) http://dictionary.reference.com...
2) http://dictionary.reference.com...
3) http://www.merriam-webster.com...
4) http://www.merriam-webster.com...
Mike_10-4

Con

I am glad Pro accepts the Laws of Nature are “objective” and we are both interested in the subject of morality. Throughout the course of this debate Pro's focus was disagreeing with my perspective on morality and offer little contribution to his perspective why “There is no Objective Basis for Morality” the topic of this debate. I was hoping to learn more on the subject relative to his perspective.

In any event, my usage of a dictionary, selecting a definition out of a list of definitions is proper. That is how one uses a dictionary. My selection is correct relative to the binary nature of morality as supported by those dictionary references. But I hope this debate does not digress into the proper usage of a dictionary.

The setup of this debate made the topic of morality one dimensional. A metaphysical subjective ethical code could not be established due to Pro's refusal of social system development. Living alone on an island does not yield the evolution of, or development of, a civil society dependent on some ethical code to remain civil. This was established by Pro killing the castaway, the only possible agent for social development. Pro's goal was to live alone and to accomplish this goal, Pro had to morally follow the “objective” physical Law in Nature, and using Pro's words, “I strangled the man preventing him from getting oxygen and because the laws of nature dictate that a human needs oxygen in order to live and I deprived the man of oxygen he died.” Therefore, Pro follow the Laws of Nature to “deprived the man of oxygen” in the pursuit of his goal.

Since Pro is the only one to live on the island the only code he is forced to follow is the “objective” code set by the Laws of Nature, he has no other alternative. Relative to Pro's goals he uses his Unalienable Rights (life's bio-program), to improve and sustain his "Life", having freedom (“Liberty”), in “the pursuit of” survival as in: “gathering and/or hunting food, … collecting and storing fresh water, … construct shelter, … provide luxuries and means of entertainment;” hence, “Happiness.” In order to maintain such accomplishments he must morally follow a physical “objective” code (the Laws of Nature).

Pro's interface is one with nature, not one with humanity. And within this environment Pro must morally follow the Laws of Nature, otherwise, there is no food, no storing of water, no shelter, no luxuries, no entertainment, etc.

If Pro kept that castaway alive, this debate will have an added dimension to morality. That is, the “objective” (via the physical Constructal Law) in the development of an ethical code to keep the social group of two (Pro and the castaway) alive and civil, supporting the “objective” of a “universal morality.”

The first paragraph in Stanford University's Encyclopedia of Philosophy makes reference to a “universal morality.”
http://plato.stanford.edu...

What “morality” is taken to refer to plays a crucial, although often unacknowledged, role in formulating ethical theories. To take “morality” to refer to an actually existing code of conduct put forward by a society results in a denial that there is a universal morality, one that applies to all human beings. This descriptive use of “morality”is the one used by anthropologists when they report on the morality of the societies that they study. Recently, some comparative and evolutionary psychologists (Haidt, Hauser, De Waal) have taken morality, or a close anticipation of it, to be present among groups of non-human animals, primarily other primates but not limited to them. “Morality” has also been taken to refer to any code of conduct that a person or group takes as most important.”

A “universal morality” that transcends humanity in group formation in packs of animals, flocks of birds, schools of fish, etc.

The scientific community is examining the dependency of morality within physical science, in January, 2015 Scientific American's article Michael Shermer focus on the individual’s “freedom” within social groups, stating the following excerpts:
http://www.scientificamerican.com...

Attentiveness, decision making, and the emotional capacity to feel and suffer are found across the branches of the evolutionary tree. This is what brings all humans and many nonhuman animals into our moral sphere.”

We are a social species, but we are first and foremost individuals within social groups and therefore ought not to be subservient to the collective.”

This drive to survive is part of our essence, and therefore the freedom to pursue the fulfillment of that essence is a natural right, by which I mean it is universal and inalienable and thus not contingent only on the laws and customs of a particular culture or government.”

Shermer's reference to “Universal and inalienable” simply applies to life's Unalienable Rights as stated at the beginning of this debate being a manifestation of the physical Constructal Law.

Since the empirical across different species maintains a “universal morality” and the symmetry to the Constructal Law, the “Objective Basis for Morality” simply is that Morality is part of the Laws of Nature, which Pro agrees those Laws are "objective."

As for those individual subjective elements Pro claims in Round 1relative to, “individual belief, or opinion, or preference, or some other non-objective source,” actually pertains to some "individual" code, not morality.

An ethical code, or moral code or someone's “belief” (like the Ten Commandments), etc. are all codes in ethics generated by the binary nature of morality--the mutual positive feedback from a relationship between living systems. A mutual positive feedback over time, generates a code of ethics for humans to maintain survival of a civil society, or the cues of survival within packs of animals, flocks of birds, schools of fish, etc.

However, because of the debate's one dimensional setup, we have not had the opportunity to discuss morality as a function of group formation. I realize that social group formation relative to morality was not part of this debate's setup, but I bring this point up because Pro is interested in the topic of morality. I hope the references and videos I presented here will give Pro a different outlook on morality through the prism of science relative to the traditional metaphysics view on the topic.

I hope at this point, the “Objective Basis for Morality” is clear when dissecting the mechanics of morality relative to life's Unalienable Rights, within group formation, a manifestation of the Constructal Law.

Morality and some code of ethics are two different manifestations of the same concept. That is, morality is the genesis of a code of ethics in time, at the same time, following a code of ethics, one is moral.

In conclusion, Morality is “Objective,” code of ethics is subjective.

In Pro's island case. The only code to morally follow to get anything done, is the "objective" Laws of Nature.
Debate Round No. 4
AGluttonousAscetic

Pro

As I stated previously, so far in this debate, all Con has done is to arbitrarily decide that the objective Laws of Nature and morality are connected and then claim that there is an objective basis for morality and Con's last round was no different.

I have posed the question of "Why is one moral when one follows a set of rules and immoral when one does not follow a set of rules?" in two different Rounds as a starting point for Con to demonstrate that there is any connection between the objective Laws of Nature and morality, and not only has Con not provided an objective answer to this question, Con has not even acknowledged this question. Unless Con can provide an objective answer to this question, Con fails to establish a connection between the objective Laws of Nature and morality and all Con can do is to repeat that morality is objective in the hope that after enough repetition it will eventually be believed.

In the last Round, Con states "Throughout the course of this debate Pro's focus was disagreeing with my perspective on morality and offer little contribution to his perspective why "There is no Objective Basis for Morality" the topic of this debate. I was hoping to learn more on the subject relative to his perspective."

My focus for this debate was to meet Pro's burden of proof by demonstrating that the arguments provided by Con are not objective and I believe that I have done that. As for my perspective, I had hoped that I had made that clear in the opening Round when I stated that my position is that an objective basis for morality has not been shown to exist and 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.

In the last Round, Con mentions my reference to Con's choice of a definition for "moral" without answering any of the questions that I posed along with it when Con states, "...my usage of a dictionary, selecting a definition out of a list of definitions is proper" and "...I hope this debate does not digress into the proper usage of a dictionary."

It was never my intention for this debate to digress into a discussion of the proper use of a dictionary. The reason that I mentioned Con's choice of definitions, as I stated in Round 4, was to further demonstrate that Con's concept of morality is nothing but a subjective product of Con's mind. And in the last Round, Con has added a new definition for "universal morality" from yet another source in what appears to be a further attempt to demonstrate that there is an objective basis for morality.

I will not digress into a discussion of this concept. However, I will note that if Con wanted this debate to include "universal morality" as defined by Con and Con laments this "debate's one dimensional setup" and wished for the "opportunity to discuss morality as a function of group formation" then Con should have mentioned this prior to accepting this debate in the comment section or in a message to me and not in Round 4 of a five Round debate that was very specific in its scope. To introduce the concept of group formation and universal morality, two concepts that are far outside the scope of this debate as outlined in Round 1, now is, in my opinion, nothing but a distraction and, while I believe that I would not have any problem demonstrating that these concepts are just as subjective as the rest of Con's concepts, the concepts are outside the scope of this debate and it is not proper to discuss them here. If Con wishes to debate these concepts and decides to set up a debate, I will consider participating.

Throughout this debate, Con has offered opinions and subjective arguments in an attempt to demonstrate that there is an objective basis for morality. I have pointed out these opinions; I have provided equally subjective arguments that demonstrate the opposite of Con's position; and I have posed questions, questions that remain unanswered, about Con's arguments that demonstrate that Con's basis for morality is nothing but the product of Con's mind. I believe that I have meet the burden of proof for this debate and I continue to assert that an objective basis for morality has not been shown to exist and 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.

I would like to thank Mike_10-4 for participating in this debate. I found it enjoyable and enlightening and it is my hope that Mike_10-4 and everyone reading also gained something from this exchange.
Mike_10-4

Con

You are welcome Pro for finding my participation in this debate “enjoyable and enlightening,” fulfilling my goal of a moral mutual exchange of ideas, stated in my first paragraph in Round 1. And in addition, I too agree with Pro hoping that “everyone reading also gained something from this exchange.”

In our modern age, the scientific method has become inseparable from human endeavor. In order to show the “Objective Basis for Morality” I had to cover some of the latest scientific work on the subject, and not take a position on the typical traditional metaphysical argument. I presented references to this latest scientific work and discovery on the “Objective Basis for Morality.”

The science I referenced, should have answered all of Pro's questions, indirectly, at least. But I had to take issue with Pro's assertion on how I picked “a particular definition out of a particular dictionary” to support the science I made reference to. Indeed, that was too rich!

Pro stated in Round 5 the following:

I [Pro] have posed the question of "Why is one moral when one follows a set of rules and immoral when one does not follow a set of rules?" ... Con has not even acknowledged this question. Unless Con can provide an objective answer to this question, Con fails to establish a connection between the objective Laws of Nature and morality ...

The points I made, Pro missed the answer to his question, and in saying that, I apologize. I will attempt to address Pro's question more directly, “Why is one moral when one follows a set of rules and immoral when one does not follow a set of rules?"

Each one of us has our own perception, or belief, in a code of ethics, “a set of rules.” When interfacing with another person, using our “rules,” in the pursuit of a mutual positive event in life, freedom, happiness, the event is said to be moral, when the event turns negative as in distress, anger, tyranny, the threat of survival it becomes immoral. Depending on the outcome, the “rules” may evolve, via trial and error, to enhance one's code of ethics in the “objective” natural drive for a positive civil response via the phenomena known as Morality.

After the "set of rules” have been tested or refined to promote a moral event, and to answer Pro's question; then “one is moral when one follows a set of rules and immoral when one does not follow a set of rules,” with the moral “objective” to embrace and enhance a civil relationship.

The code of ethics, those “set of rules,” is the evolutionary nature for the “objective” to morally embrace and enhance a civil society. These “set of rules” are tried and tested, and conservatively pass down from one generation to the next establishing a culture. A moral order guides an individual in the prudent exercise of judgment relative to those “set of rules,” going with the social flow minimizing civil resistance (Constructal Law). The individual in a civil society strives, albeit imperfectly, to be virtuous; that is, restrained, ethical, and honorable, respecting and embracing the Unalienable Rights of others relative to those tested “set of rules.”

The evidence of morality in a wide range of independently developed cultures across isolated human tribes empirically supports the “Objective Basis for Morality” as the agent of bringing life together in social group formation. This moral “objective” is the empirical result for the diversity of traditions, values, beliefs, economics, and languages that formed independent civil societies found throughout the world today and throughout recorded history. On a similar note, all isolated independently developed cultures maintains the same set of elements: tradition, value, belief, economic, and language, the resulting fingerprint of Morality.

However, in Round 1 Pro defined an environment where his comfort zone was one of an extreme introversion and isolation void of any social organization living on an island. So his “set of rules” exclusively interface with nature not to include another and since Pro is the only one therefore, “one is moral when one follows a set of rules and immoral when one does not follow a set of rules.” Pro's “set of rules” is one with nature, and therefore, maintains a subset of the “objective” Laws of Nature for Pro to morally pursue his goals of “gathering and/or hunting food, … collecting and storing fresh water, … construct shelter, … provide luxuries and means of entertainment;” hence, “Happiness.”

Relative to Pro's “set of rules,” exclusively being a subset of the “objective” Laws of Nature void of social interaction, he kills a castaway that came ashore. His “set of rules” maintains that nature is neither cruel nor kind, just indifferent.

Depending on the outcome, that is, if Pro failed in any of his pursuits with nature, the “rules” may evolve, via trial and error, to enhance Pro's “set of rules” in the “objective” natural drive for positive feedback with nature by understanding other Laws in Nature, via the phenomena known as Morality. That is, for the scientific method to work (aka understanding other Laws in Nature), one must morally accept and follow the results from trial and error to progressively go forward in the evolution of those "set of rules."

I hope this answer Pro's question and highlights both the Objective” nature of Morality, and the subjective nature of a code of ethics, those “set of rules.”

The latest science of the Constructal Law, life's Unalienable Rights, and the “Objective Basis for Morality” as seen through the prism of science, I invite those who are interested to step outside the traditional metaphysical box, as I did with this debate, and join the discussion over the universal presence of this latest science throughout the symphony of life. We can develop a deeper understanding of social, economic, technological evolution, opening many new doors, by shifting our focus from metaphysical speculation to physical science, where empirical observations exist supporting the “Objective Basis for Morality.”

And in closing, I thank Pro for bringing an important subject to the debating floor, and I wish Pro a long, healthy and prosperous “Life,” having ample freedom (“Liberty”), in the moralpursuit of Happiness.” Whether, Pro lives on an island, or not.
Debate Round No. 5
12 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by AGluttonousAscetic 1 year ago
AGluttonousAscetic
missmedic,

What is the point of asking your question and providing your answer to it? Are you looking for some specific response?
Posted by missmedic 1 year ago
missmedic
Objective reality is whatever remains true whether you believe in it or not. Or what"s true is real, and what"s real is true.
Posted by AGluttonousAscetic 1 year ago
AGluttonousAscetic
missmedic,

I do not understand your question.
Posted by missmedic 1 year ago
missmedic
Is there such a thing as objective reality?
Posted by AGluttonousAscetic 1 year ago
AGluttonousAscetic
missmedic,

If you would like to debate this topic I will post it again at some point and you can take the Con position. But in response to your arguments thus far, I would argue that, like Varrack below, you have not demonstrated that there is an objective basis for morality rather that you have just "kicked the can down the road." You claim that there is an objective basis for morality because of X, now you have to demonstrate that there is an objective basis for X. For example, you claim that the initiation of force is never moral but, as of now, that is just your unsupported opinion. You claim that I made a choice to kill the man on the beach and you labeled that choice as a moral choice but you have not demonstrated that your choice of a label is any more objective than any other choice of a label. If you would like to debate this let me know, it may prove to be interesting.
Posted by missmedic 1 year ago
missmedic
Pro you say
"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."
Leaving him to die would be a different argument ( one of inaction), but you made a choice ( a moral choice) to take action against another person without their consent.
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. The initiation of force is never moral.
Real true objective morality will always be based on reason. Reason is absolute and does not contradict, reason is used to understand the reality we all share. Objective reality is how things really are.
Posted by missmedic 1 year ago
missmedic
Con presumed that a real or perceived relationship between things means that one is the cause of the other. Many people confuse correlation (things happening together or in sequence) for causation (that one thing actually causes the other to happen). Sometimes correlation is coincidental, or it may be attributable to a common cause.
Posted by AGluttonousAscetic 1 year ago
AGluttonousAscetic
Varrack,

If you wish to make an argument that God is the basis for objective morality, then go ahead. I will argue that you have not demonstrated that there is an objective basis for morality rather that you have just "kicked the can down the road." To state that it is immoral to kill the man on the beach because God says it is immoral (or something like that) and have it be objective, you will need to objectively demonstrate, among other things, that your God exists, that no other gods who could have differing ideas of morality exist, that your God communicated with you, and that you interpreted your God's communications correctly. You are free to attempt to do all of this, but I do not think you can objectively demonstrate that God is the basis for objective morality.
Posted by vi_spex 1 year ago
vi_spex
something written by other men is not real
Posted by vi_spex 1 year ago
vi_spex
no thats some subjective stuff tiger face
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