The Instigator
sarahje88
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
Dallasj428
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

There is no right or wrong answers in ethics.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/5/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 617 times Debate No: 45297
Debate Rounds (4)
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sarahje88

Pro

In regards to ethics, we base our decisions on whether on what we think is morally satisfying or what we know is wrong. Whether a situation is handeled the wrong way or the right way, who are we to know exactly for sure what is right and what is wrong? Today we have some concept of it based on our cultures and how we exist in this world (nature vs. nurture). The way we were raised also play a role in the way we distinguish our morals. For example, my grandmother feels that it is not okay for guests (male or female) to visit or hang out in your bedroom. That's how she was raised. On the other hand, my mother never had a problem with that. Therefore, I do not agree with that "rule". She feels it is wrong and I feel that it is alright. Now, I ask again, whose to say what is right and what is wrong? That would be like, whose to say yellow is a more beautiful color than pink? Who decides on your actions? Only you can decide on what is right or wrong to you, that is an obvious truth. However, that does not say that what ever you decide to do is the absolute most right thing to do. There are also other factors that play a role in ethics, religion and environmental factors. Some people are more religious than most, and some people do not follow the same rules set forth in the their beliefs, hence catholicism vs. christianity. Peer pressure is a good example of an environmental factor that affect decisions. Pressure from friends can cause you to make bad decisions or good ones. I feel as if, we have no control on what we were taught as children and what we are used to, unless you know a certain decision is wrong but, you choose to go that route anyways. Just the other day, my boyfriend was upset with me because my friend was laying on our bed and we were having a conversation. I could not understand why he was upset, until he told me it was rude for other people to lay on your bed especially with outside clothes. My response to him was that I never was taught that so I could not undersand why it was wrong in his eyes. I felt like he could not be mad at me because in this case I was not wrong nor was I right, because of the fact that I was never introduced to that situation being apart of "morality". Ethics ties in alot with justice and people have their own conceptions on what justice means to them. Some people do not believe in the death penality and some do. Some people believe two wrongs, will make a right and the old concept of "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth". However, Im not sure if the term "right or wrong" should be used to describe every action when faced to make a decision. There could be true or false, and moral and immoral. We can say a bird is on the Verrazano bridge right now, but that would be neither correct or incorrect because we do not know. Ethics is based on alot of factors that affect who we are today, so therefore, we cannot be judged on the decisions we make, if we did not learn it to be "taboo", unheard of, or wrong.
Dallasj428

Con

Ethics is the use of morals to help guide and govern a person decisions. When a person is put into the situation where they must decide whether something is right or wrong, it is true just as you said that their sense of right and wrong and their morals will be different from someone else. Though when you choose, a normal thought would be whether it is going to be good for you or bad for you, and normally what is good for you will be the right way to go. Intrinsically you may be right, but what really matters is whether or not it is for the good of not just you but for the people holistically. Yes there can be many factors to influence our morals, the biggest being our environment but that does not mean that the right or wrong choice will ever change, because what is right when making a decision is again what is the good for all not just yourself. Justice is way of using ethics in order to find the way to bring order and bring the good of the people to the ones committing the injustice. At this point is no maybe or might be, there is clear right or wrong answer. The right being what will benefit the people the most and the wrong being what is the least beneficial. This may go against the ethics of some people individually, but as a whole is what really matters. Even today with all the factors that do influence who we are, such as religion, there are always only two answers when it come to making decisions and that is whether it is right or wrong. For example, if a mans wife is sick and needs medicine or she may die but they do not have the money to afford it would it be wrong it he went and stole the money? Of course it would be wrong because he is committing an act that is affecting the good of all others in a negative way. Though to him he may be morally doing the right thing, regardless of his own morals he will be wrong. Ethically there is always a right or wrong answer, and that being the one to help bring the good of the people first.
Debate Round No. 1
sarahje88

Pro

Justice and ethics tie in together so well. When we look up the term justice, it says "it is a concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, religion, equity and fairness, as well as the administration of the law, taking into account the inalienable and inborn rights of all human beings and citizens, the right of all people and individuals to equal protection before the law of their civil rights, without discrimination on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, color, ethnicity, religion, disability, age, wealth, or other characteristics, and is further regarded as being inclusive of social justice". Yeah, justice is about making the right choice, but who are you to say it is right or wrong? Do you know what brought on the reason for a so-called termed "wrong" decision? If a man's wife is sick, and he steals the medicine to help his wife because he doesn't have any money, he could feel that he's making the right decision. As I said before, there are alot of factors that effect the decision making process in terms of right and wrong. There could also be diseases, hence in murder cases, some people plead insanity or so some other sickness that effects their actions. All we can do today is follow the law. Just because it is a law, a rule, or mandate of some kind, it does not mean that we HAVE to follow it. We as human beings have an obligation to do what we think is right, which is why people protest certain laws today. When we do something good, afterwards we look for a sense of emotion of approval. When we do something bad, we dread that feeling of guilt in our conscious. Now my question to you is, how do you know what one is feeling? If you can't provided an answer for that, then there is no way you or anyone else for that fact can say if a person is making a right or wrong decision. There are lots of belief systems out there based on ethics or morality by different philosophers, which is why people always struggle with making "just" decisions. A philosopher by the name of Jeremy Bentham came up with a term called "Utilitarianism", which is basically "The greater good for the greatest amount". Utilitarianism is a moral philosophy or theory that judges the morality of an action. For example, lets say your on a speeding train and the tracks separates into two. You have an option of going down one track, and one track one only. Track one, which has grandmother tied to it, or you can go down track two which has a family of people you have never met. To satisfy the Utilitarianism theory, you must choose hitting your grandmother with the train, because you are saving a whole family which is more than person, hence "The greater good for the greatest amount". For the Utilitarians, a good life is a life that benefits the most amount of people, not just one person or the people you care about. I'm sure you feel that that decision was wrong, but as I said there is no right or wrong when it comes to ethics.
Dallasj428

Con

Your reference to utilitarianism is exactly on point with my argument. You ask me how I can tell what a person is thinking and how I know what is morally right or wrong for them, and you're right I cannot. What is right or wrong for any given individual will always be different for all the reasons you have given such as their religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, and what not but that is besides the point. When it comes down to it, when making a decision you have your own set of values and morals that will guide you to choose what you believe in, but that is only what you want to be right. Looking at society as a whole, we are like a machine and when we choose to not work together to attain the greatest good with our important life decisions then we are incomplete and we will not work correctly, but when we choose to see each others views as a whole and collaborate to find what will be best for our society, we will be flush and work smoothly. Now saying that there are no right or wrong decisions is saying that the "machine" will work with or without missing pieces. Well if can work without missing pieces then what is the purpose of having a structured society? With your example of the train and the family or grandmother, I would most definitely want to choose the path to save my grandmother, but there are so many factors telling me otherwise and that to save her would be an act of selfishness. The saying "kill one and save a thousand" is a great example, my grandmother who is an elderly woman, has had her time to live out her dreams as opposed to the family and their children. The right choice would be to save the family because logically they have more to put forth to society and cause more positive, rather than my grandmother whom would not be making any outstanding differences if any. In cases of diseases and murder cases, even then there is still a right and wrong answer. Now quite obviously that answer is not for one person to find out and decide, which is exactly why there is a jury. The decision is made by a group of individuals with no prior bias to the event and in a case like this the defendant is usually sent to a psychiatric ward where they can get help. Now this does not go to say that whatever all the people do is right. If that is so I would be saying that the Holocaust was in a sense the right thing to do. At the time, the decisions were made by one man only and the rest followed without a general consensus of what the people believed they should do. The right that occurred at the time was the decision by other countries to get rid of Hitler, because as a whole they decided it would be best for all people if he no longer had power. A very common example is how we decide who our governor or our president is, we all take a vote to decide who we believe would bring the greatest good to all of our people, and they way we choose is our right path as a whole. With our laws, yes it is true we don't necessarily have to follow them, but they were made by a common need for good and therefore were made as the right actions to take, and we can see them merely as guidelines to what society as a whole needs from us to help attain the greatest good. So if there are no right or answers, then that is saying it is neither right nor wrong to murder someone, steal from someone, or harm another person in any other way. I do not see that being the most ethical way to live.
Debate Round No. 2
sarahje88

Pro

My reference to utilitarianism was an example of the many moral theories that are based on ethics, not an example to support my proposal. It is said that "ethics is just a matter of opinion, nothing more, nothing less". Everyone is entitled to an opinion and that opinion can neither be right or wrong. In reference to the family v.s the grandmother, you said that the family can bring more positivity than the grandmother. Now, is that necessarily honestly true? You do not know that the family who you have never met before could be unstable and not contribute anything to the world, or that the grandmother could be great in ways you could never imagine. Do not assume what people or their decisions are capable of. Assumption is the mistake that people make mostly, when it comes to morals. They assume that just because they are so stubborn in their beliefs, that their ways are always the right ways. For example, men in other countries marry more than one woman, but here in the U.S, we do not practice polygamy as much. Does that mean the what their doing is wrong? No, because it's in their culture, it's what they were taught to do, and what they know. As far as the insanity plea (or any other mental disease) murder case, a person who let's say is schizophrenic or bi-polar and he or she murders another person because they assumed that they were being attacked. Is it wrong that they committed the crime, even though they did not know what they were doing? How could a sick mind recognize that it is ill? Do you think, that person knew what they were doing was a crime, or self-defense? I am not saying that the act of committing the murder was right, but it isn't wrong either because how would he or she know with a sickness like that? There is no right and there is no wrong. Also, yes, when it comes to voting for a higher power, you are satisfying the Utilitarian theory of morality, but that isn't ethics as a whole. When it comes to laws, we were taught that they are there to protect us and that they are there for a good cause. But, do you honestly think all laws are there for your own good? Given certain circumstances, there is no right or wrong. I never said that that could be a pass for everyone. If you cannot recognize a wrong, then how can you recognize a right? Some people are not able to do that, which is why we cannot all just ASSUME that there are right or wrong answers in ethics. I've read in an Ethical Relativism article an example that would best support my argument. "Suppose we were required to determine who was at fault in an automobile accident. The accident occurred between two cars, one red, one green, driven by fellow students. There were many witnesses to the accident. To make our determination, we interviewed the witnesses. Some gave "eyewitness" reports that the Red car was at fault. Others disagreed and said that the Green car was to blame. The reports obviously conflict. But, does it follow from the fact that the reports conflict that there is not someone who is really at fault, or that there is no way to determine which person was at fault? Of course not. What is the situation? It is a fact that there was an accident. It is a fact that people disagree as to what happened. It is a fact that it may be difficult if not practically impossible to determine what actually happened. But, it does not follow from these facts that there is no objective truth about the accident or that the truth is impossible to find. What follows from the facts is what the facts state: an accident happened; people disagree about what happened; and it will be difficult to determine what actually happened. However, as hard as it may be, it is possible to determine what happened. And, that is all that we need to refute the relativist. He has claimed that it is impossible to determine what is right or wrong given the way the world is. What we have determined is that it is not impossible, though it may be extremely difficult. The cultural relativist's position is too strong. To claim that there is no objective truth to ethical judgments is tantamount to claiming that it is impossible that there be objective truth about ethical judgments. That would be like saying that there was no objective truth about the accident. Of course there is; it is simply a fact that the truth is very hard to get to".
Dallasj428

Con

Dallasj428 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
sarahje88

Pro

sarahje88 forfeited this round.
Dallasj428

Con

Dallasj428 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
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