The Instigator
Philosophy123
Pro (for)
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The Contender
JP_Hatecraft
Con (against)
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0 Points

There is no suitable form of moral philosophy.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/8/2015 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 297 times Debate No: 71325
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (4)
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Philosophy123

Pro

This will be an argument regarding the nature of moral philosophy, I will be arguing that there is no form of moral philosophy which is suitable to the modern world. I won't this to be a philosophical debate and not a religous one, because religous ethics, though helpful often times leave things unanswered and are hard to argue for or against, people basically just state 'this is what I believe'. Must use logic to back up debates(obviously). Here are the moral philosophies that the focus will be upon:
1. Emotivism.
2. Deontology, specifically that of Kant.
3. Utilitarianism.
4. Nihilism, or those who regard ethics as unimportant.

I would prefer if we focus on these four forms although I would be happy if you brought up some other form of philosophy which I have not heard of or did not deem "large" enough to put in my short list. Win or lose this should be fun.
JP_Hatecraft

Con

I accept this debate.

Good luck to the Pro!
Debate Round No. 1
Philosophy123

Pro

First off, I respect anyone who takes the time to read my arguments and to those of you who do, I thank you. I will of course begin by picking holes in current moral philosophies. Starting with what I consider to be the weakest moral system which some people focus on, Utilitarianism. If you aren't familiar with it, its main goal is to distribute the highest ratio of pleasure/pain to the greatest amount of people. This theory is faulty for several reasons:

A. It is a prejudiced theory and a moral theory which applies differently to different people is hardly useful to the general public. To prove my statement I will give to you an experiment: Imagine if I murdered someone. The murdered man's family would suffer and my family and circle of friends would suffer but because of my relative social obscurity, the pain wouldn't be that bad for the consensus. Now, if Barack Obama murdered the same man the sorrow following would be exponentially greater, many more people care or don't care about Obama and so the pain would of course be much greater.

B. The second flaw with Utilitarianism is that the system is based upon pleasure/happiness and while that is great, doing what is right and what is wrong cannot be justified by the amount of happiness. To bring this flaw to life imagine if I murdered someone, I did this in the middle of the desert with a weapon so destructive that he had no chance to notice anything or feel anything therefore he had no pain from this(I would classify pain as an emotion and since he is dead and no longer capable of feeling emotions my 'he will feel no pain from this' statement is justified) and perhaps I will receive pleasure from this. Nobody knew the man and nobody will ever know that I have ever murdered him, therefore the amount of pleasure in this situation is greater than the amount of pain, therefore my action of murder(an action which we can all agree is immoral) is justified. Furthermore it will justify the pain of one, lets say the humiliation of the individual if it will consequently give a modest pleasure to many people. Happiness is not in itself moral.

C. The third flaw with Utilitarianism is the fact that it asks when it should tell. This is not a criticism of the nuts and bolts of the theory as the first two points were but rather a criticism of the instruction manual. Utilitarianism tells us to do things that will bring the largest amount of pleasure to the largest amount of people. We have no idea how much pleasure that any certain action will bring to any group of people. This is where Utilitarianism ceases to be a practical theory and starts to become a theory in concept, even if I agreed with the principles of Utilitarianism it lacks compatibility with everyday life and of course moral code is something that must apply to every moment. The fourth flaw(which is similar enough to the third that we shall say they multiple facets of one argument) is that happiness is not a measurable thing and therefore we cannot really base our actions upon it. We cannot say that this action caused more happiness than this one for sure we can only assume. One does not watch a movie or read a book and decide that one made them happier than the other. Even if we could measure happiness imagine how long it would take to determine the amount of happiness that an action will cause to a great number of people. The theory is impractical in several different ways.

D. My fourth argument is more subjective than I should be getting when trying to debunk a “scientific” theory but I feel it is pressing nonetheless. The argument is the fact that since humans naturally want happiness and dislike pain, therefore everything is justified by this, even if I were a Consequentialist I would still look down upon this theory because it is based upon the idea that happiness is the greatest form of moral justification. In reality, all of humanity should be striving towards satisfaction rather than happiness. Satisfaction can be found through pain, perhaps more than it can be found in happiness and pleasure. Pleasure of course may satisfy for a while but eventually humanity by nature comes to the conclusion that their must be some greater form of happiness than merely pleasure. Therefore, even if I were a Consequentialist, I would not be a Utilitarianist because its end goal is flawed.

Next, I want to pick apart Emotivism, the most modern moral theory to gain a large following. Based largely upon the Logical Positivism of A.J. Ayer, I think this theory is interesting for its attempt to explain morality in the way that it does, more a field of Metaethics than ethics when you think about it.

A. The most common criticism of the theory is the fact that Ayer's Logical Positivism and Verification Principle destory themselves. The statement that “The only true things are those which can be verified empirically” cannot be proven empirically so, just as Ayer says that we cannot justify moral actions we also cannot justify his logic behind this statement. Logical Positivism does not allow us to believe in Logical Positivism by definition therefore the Boo-Hurrah theory and Emotivism needs reworking as a suitable theory. Even if you like the theory, you cannot verify empirically if it is the correct moral theory so you yourself would be choosing this theory based upon you own emotions, the same way you choose moral actions. Therefore while the theory of Emotivism is extremely clever and is an ambitous attempt at discovering the psychology behind morality, using it would make you a hippocrit.

B. The second criticism of Emotivism is the fact that it states that me saying that murder is wrong or immoral is simply an act of me psychologically saying that I do not like murder. While one could go a step farther and say that I do not like The Grapes of Wrath or peppers or going to school on a Monday I do not expect anyone or even myself to disregard The Grapes of Wrath or to stop eating peppers or to stop going to school on a Monday, I am simply saying that these are things that do not give me pleasure or happiness. When I say that I do not like murder there is more to mere emotion in my statement, there is a conviction and decision inside me that has decided that murder is immoral, even if this were an emotion it would be an emotion so far out of the ordinary that it can almost be disregarded as a normal emotion. What I am saying is that many moral decisions are based upon more than just emotion, things like logic and rational thought are often used to make moral decisions and if logic and rational thought are used in moral decisions then our decisions are not necessarily caused by emotion. Sure, the logic and rational thought that is used may be based upon a faulty view of consequences regarding the moral action or some other false logic but that does not diminish the fact that moral decisions can very eaily be based upon some form of emotionless thought. Ayer saying that we cannot have any true opinions but rather just emotions which influence our decisions and opinions. We use moral claims and facts when arguing about morality and if we don't it is at least conceivable that we could. In reality, of course people have discussed rational thought before which in itself almost disproves Emotivism.

C. Let me give to you an experiment. Lets say that I am living in the year of 1940. A person I do not know shoots Adolf Hitler and kills him, murder. Perhaps I am happy that Hitler is murdered because I dislike the individual of Hitler and think that because of the crimes he has done to humanity that perhaps he deserves to die. But even though I am happy, perhaps I am a Deontologist and think murder is immoral. I will admit that murder is immoral but I will also say that I am happy about Hitler's death, therefore in this case my emotions do not correspond with my moral beliefs. Is this not a conceivable situation? Imagine a man with little will power who places small value on morality as a whole. He knows what he is doing is wrong, but he has little regret and may steal or murder and be happy afterwards.

Thank you to anyone who is still reading. I will not attempt to disprove any more moral theories because I am quickly running out of characters. Good luck to Con.

JP_Hatecraft

Con

JP_Hatecraft forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
Philosophy123

Pro

Philosophy123 forfeited this round.
JP_Hatecraft

Con

JP_Hatecraft forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
Philosophy123

Pro

Philosophy123 forfeited this round.
JP_Hatecraft

Con

JP_Hatecraft forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
Philosophy123

Pro

Philosophy123 forfeited this round.
JP_Hatecraft

Con

JP_Hatecraft forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by JP_Hatecraft 1 year ago
JP_Hatecraft
I apologize for missing my speech, I think I must have clicked the notification and forgotten about it. I'm sorry. Please give courtesy points to the pro, I'll rebut in my third speech.
Posted by Philosophy123 1 year ago
Philosophy123
I personally do not care, I feel it is common courtesy not to argue in round one but after that I have no opinion, do whatever you want to win the debate and to make your point. Good luck.
Posted by JP_Hatecraft 1 year ago
JP_Hatecraft
I assume:
1) Acceptance
2) Constructive (Con may not rebut Pro's speech from this round)
3) Rebuttals (Con may not rebut Pro's speech from this round)
4) Rebuttals (Con may not rebut Pro's speech from this round)
5) Summary

Is that good?
Posted by StalinIncarnate 1 year ago
StalinIncarnate
wut
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