The Instigator
Aziar44
Pro (for)
Winning
19 Points
The Contender
diety
Con (against)
Losing
7 Points

True Altruism can exist.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
Aziar44
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/1/2009 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 10,810 times Debate No: 8063
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (8)
Votes (4)

 

Aziar44

Pro

My argument is that true altruism can indeed exist.

By true altruism, I mean doing good acts without any selfish motivation whatsoever. This is the opposite of egoism and different from reciprocal altruism, which says that people may do good acts in order to get good acts done for them in the future.

I argue that true altruism is possible. A good act without an ounce of selfish motivation is quite possible. A good act can be defined as an act that is beneficial to someone other than oneself.

I will base my arguments off of actions of human beings in the past and present, natural human tendencies, personal accounts (which are indeed valid in such an argument), and hypothetical situations based in reality.

Thank you to whomever takes up this debate. My actual arguments will come in the following rounds.
diety

Con

Hello opponent. Thank you for such a debate. I argued something similar on my old account.

Selfishness via wikipedia - Selfishness denotes the precedence given in thought or deed to the self, i.e., self interest or self concern.

I'm arguing that true altruism is impossible. Since my opponent has the burden of proof, he must explain why true altruism is true in the following rounds. I will tear down his arguments before giving my own. If I successfully tear down all of his arguments, since he has the burden of proof, I should win by default. However, I will present my own arguments.

I yield my arguments until the following round
Debate Round No. 1
Aziar44

Pro

Thank you for taking this debate!

True altruism does exist. I have several arguments to start off. These are situations in which a person is acting altruistically, without any selfish interest and for the benefit of someone else:

1. A firefighter who is in a burning building only has a few seconds to choose whether he saves this child from dying or whether he leaves and save himself. He grabs the child and throws her out of the window to the inflated air-"mattress" below with the knowledge he will not live by doing that. The ceiling collapses, killing him.

What possible selfish motivation would there be in that situation? He saves the life of someone else while losing his own. He was not suicidal, but simply chose to save someone's life at the cost of his own. Show me the selfish motivation in this situation (that has also undoubtedly occurred). I have a feeling I know what you will say, but I will wait until you actually say it to refute it.

2. A family member who gives up their very livelihood in order that their child can somehow survive. You certainly see this many times, where a parent will save their child at the cost of their own life. Again, there is no selfish motivation. Let us say that there is a family of three out in the wilderness (mother, father, and daughter). They are completely isolated from the outside world. The family begins to not have enough food to survive. There is really only enough for two people. The father goes out into the woods and shoots himself so that his family may survive. Is there selfish motive there? Again, the person kills himself so that others may live.

3. There is this argument that people who donate money do it in order to get fame, recognition, Heaven, or a good feeling. So, let us say there is an atheist who anonymously donates to charities all the time. (S)He gets a good feeling, so say the opponents of true altruism, so it is selfishly motivated. But what about that very first time (s)he gives anonymously? In that situation, he/she does not have the knowledge that a good feeling with follow from giving. The very first act of kindness of a person is one that is altruistic because there is no expectation of reciprocity and there is no knowledge that a good feeling with result.

On that point of good feeling, sometimes people do things that help other people and give them a BAD feeling. Let me recount a true story. Bob has a very close friend named Ted. Ted has a terrible eating disorder that is hurting him. Bob does not want Ted to continue suffering. He goes to Ted and says "You have a problem. If you don't check yourself into a clinic, I will tell people so that they come help you. I'm just worried about you." Ted is very angry and refuses to do so. Bob tells Ted's family so Ted can get help. Ted and Bob who had been friends for 10 years, have not spoken in the 43 years following that incident. Bob did not get a good feeling from the incident. He got a very bad feeling. He regrets doing it and never felt good about what he did, even though it completely benefited Ted and didn't help Bob at all.

This is a true story, mind you. Is there selfish motivation there? No.

These are just opening situations. I will be happy to refute your refutations in the coming rounds.
diety

Con

diety forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
Aziar44

Pro

Well, my opponent has forfeited this round, sadly.

My arguments are not fleshed out in their full capacity, as my opponent has yet to respond. I will give him another round to try to respond and if he does not, I will fill in some holes in the final round to cement my point.
diety

Con

diety forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
Aziar44

Pro

Well, this is the final round.

I should pretty much win by default, which is too bad, but I'll put forth my idea of first-act altruism.

In the example of an atheist anonymously donating money to charity, the only selfish motivation anti-altruists can find is the "good feeling" one gets from such an act. True, a "warm neural glow" results from such giving. If you are generous, you feel better.

However, this must be a conditioned response. You do not simply know that you will feel good if you do such an act. It is doubtful anyone has told you "give to charity and you will feel happy." So, for that very first time you do something good for someone else in such a way, there can be no selfish motivation for a good feeling because you do not know it will occur. Therefore, the first such act is altruistic: first-act altruism.

It's a shame I couldn't use any of my other arguments. I'll repost this debate sometime. Vote PRO!
diety

Con

diety forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by rj89 4 years ago
rj89
It's a shame that this debate was forfeited and that so few are willing to challenge the arguments posted. For starters, you can not weigh the altruistic nature of an action on the basis of the outcome. a negative outcome does not necessarily indicate a selfless act the negative outcome may not have been expected and thus the act was really just a bad decision not selfless. Your 'eating disorder' tale is not a good example of altruism, for one I'm assuming that you are in fact the individual that helped your friend- the fact that you acknowledge the good intention behind the act and can claim that the friends recovery was beneficial to them and partly your responsibility suggests that there is a reward in there for whoever told in the sense they feel they did the right thing/relieved themselves of the guilt they would evidently feel if their friend had died due to his eating disorder. Furthermore, although when the decision was made to tell the family, there was the possibility this friend would fall out with whomever told his family, this was not a definite, he could have in fact been pleased that he was forced to get help and therefore just because a friend was lost at the end it cannot be used as support for the act being truly altruistic.

Similarly, many parents are likely to risk their own lives for that of their children due to the fact that we as humans (although we like to think of ourselves as superior and important, are in fact just carriers for our genes) therefore we are likely to increase our inclusive fitness by saving the genes our children hold as they are more likely to reproduce and pass on those genes.

in addition, the fireman was not to know that as soon as he saved the child, the building would collapse on top of him, although it was a possibility, again it was not a definite. the fireman would also take pride in his actions that he saved a young child so it was not truly selfless act. my argument may not be as palatable as yours.
Posted by aahutner 4 years ago
aahutner
Great topic! Please repost this. I would love to see this debated or debate you myself.
Posted by mongeese 5 years ago
mongeese
Just including one source would give you two extra points per vote.
Posted by Maikuru 5 years ago
Maikuru
About a third of my debates involve multiple forfeits by my opponents. Ironically, one of my own forfeit-free debates involved banning debaters who forfeit (I was Con haha).

Anyway, if diety doesn't return and you decide to re-post, I may jump on board =D
Posted by Aziar44 5 years ago
Aziar44
Oh, I may be a little sneaky with my arguments haha. Sadly, diety did not show up, which is a problem I've been having with my debates as of late. My debate about a drinking age ended with a forfeited round, and my Life is Meaningless Without God one has a few forfeited rounds.

Also, my science/art one, too.

Sheesh, I'm sensing a pattern here. Wonder why...
Posted by Maikuru 5 years ago
Maikuru
Now that I see your arguments, Aziar44, I wish I had taken this up myself haha. They mirror perfectly the first ever arguments I heard for altruism, including the evident (to me, anyway) shortcomings. However, your responses to diety in the next round might make me glad I hadn't taken it after all.
Posted by Maikuru 5 years ago
Maikuru
I've always loved this topic so I hope you find yourself a worthy opponent. Favorite'd.
Posted by wjmelements 5 years ago
wjmelements
Good debate idea.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by vorxxox 5 years ago
vorxxox
Aziar44dietyTied
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Vote Placed by Aziar44 5 years ago
Aziar44
Aziar44dietyTied
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Vote Placed by Maikuru 5 years ago
Maikuru
Aziar44dietyTied
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Vote Placed by mongeese 5 years ago
mongeese
Aziar44dietyTied
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