The Instigator
bluesteel
Pro (for)
Winning
12 Points
The Contender
cameronl35
Con (against)
Losing
3 Points

Utilitarianism can properly uphold the value of justice

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 5 votes the winner is...
bluesteel
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/24/2011 Category: Education
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 8,011 times Debate No: 20048
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (25)
Votes (5)

 

bluesteel

Pro

Round 1 for acceptance only.
cameronl35

Con

I would like to first thank bluesteel for instigating this rather interesting topic. As requested I will not post definitions in this round but I accept the given debate and look forward to my opponent's case!

Debate Round No. 1
bluesteel

Pro

Thanks Cameron.

Let's begin with some definitions.

Utilitarianism is an ethical system that judges an action's morality by its consequences; namely, it seeks to enact policies that provide the greatest good for the greatest number of people. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, utilitarianism has become synonymous with the term "consequentialism."

Uphold means "support" (Random House)

Value means "the abstract concept of what is right, worthwhile, or desirable; principles or standards" (Random House)

Justice means "rightfulness or lawfulness," "the moral principle determining just conduct," "the administering of deserved punishment or reward." Essentially, justice is upheld in a society whose moral or legal code is generally considered to be fair.

In any society, setting up a fair system of laws is difficult because the rights of different people often come into conflict. For example, my neighbor may have the right to use his property as he sees fit. However, I have the right to use my own property as I see fit. My neighbor's right to throw an extremely loud party on his property interferes with my right to study for a test on my own property. As another example: a company has a right to use its own property as it sees fit. However, if it dumps chemicals in the river on its property, those chemicals travel to other people's properties downriver and damage those people's properties. Society needs some *weighing mechanism* or moral system that, when crafting laws, helps it determine how to weigh one person's rights against another's. The *only* possible weighing mechanism is utilitarianism, asking which policy provides the greatest good for the greatest number. Without utilitarianism, it becomes impossible to evaluate competing rights claims and thus impossible to uphold the value of justice.

Not only do alternative systems to utilitarianism fail to properly evaluate competing rights claims, but they also have additional flaws of their own. Kant's categorical imperative (CI) is the most commonly proposed alternative to utilitarianism (util). The CI states that any action is morally permissible as long as it does not treat humans as a means to an end, only as ends in themselves. Killing your father so you can inherit his estate is wrong because you treated his death as a means to an end, the end being inheriting his estate. However, the CI is an extremely rigid ethical system that does not comport with most people's views on justice.

Because it does not allow humans to be used as a means to an end, the CI would not allow you to torture one terrorist to find the location of a bomb in a major city because torture uses a human as a means to an end, even if the "end" is saving 1 million lives by preventing the bomb from exploding.

Joseph Nye of Harvard University cites the following hypothetical to show the ridiculousness of the categorical imperative: you pass through a conflict area and a rebel captain has captured 30 innocent villagers. The captain is going to execute the innocent villagers for being from a rival tribe. You pass by and the captain, for his amusement, hands you a gun and says: shoot one villager and I will let the rest go free. If you refuse, the captain will order his men to shoot all of the villagers. Nye asks, "Will you shoot one person with the consequences of saving [the rest], or will you allow [all] to die but preserve your moral integrity by refusing to play his dirty game?" [1]

Judging the morality of an action a priori, without looking at consequences, leads to rigid ethical systems that prefer 30 people to die rather than one. Utilitarianism, in contrast, would allow you to shoot one person to save 30, given that you have no other choice in the matter – if you don't act, they all die. Utilitarianism is a far less rigid ethical system than the alternative.

While my opponent does not *have* to endorse an alternative ethical system, if I prove that utilitarianism is the only viable weighing mechanism in helping us craft laws, then I win that it is the *only* way to uphold justice.

There are many different types of utilitarianism, but I will be endorsing *rule consequentialism,* which states that the moral rightness of an act depends on the consequences of establishing a rule that allows that act. [2]

For example, under the Joseph Nye thought experiment, where you are forced to kill one person to save an entire village from being gunned down, the killing of one person*is* allowed under a legal rule called "duress." If you are *forced* to kill someone (for example in order to save someone else's life), you are not held criminally liable. The application of the duress rule ensures that murder, generally, is still illegal, while allowing important exceptions.

Rule consequentialism is a type of holistic consequentialism or "world consequentialism" because it asks "is a *world* where X is allowed better than a *world* where X is not allowed." [2] This is contrasted with types of consequentialism that evaluate actions only on an individual level, as in "is Y person better off if he performs X action." Holistic consequentialism and individual consequentialism often lead to opposite conclusions. I am rather certain that all of my opponent's objections to utilitarianism will evaluate actions based on an individual, rather than holistic, consequentialism.

I now turn the debate over to Cameron.

Sources:

[1] http://www.debate.org...
[2] http://plato.stanford.edu...
cameronl35

Con

I would like to first thank bluesteel for posting his intriguing case. I will first present a case of my own and then move on to the rebuttal.

Definitions:

Utilitarianism-The ethical theory proposed by Jeremy Bentham and James Mill that all action should be directed toward achieving the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. [1] While I agree with my opponent's definition it seemingly strays away from what the "goodness" utilitarianism advocates for, happiness.

Justice- giving each their due (Aristotle). While I agree with my opponent's definition again, it doesn't really establish equality which is what justice attempts to achieve.

Case

Observation: I do not necessarily have to provide an ethical system to achieve justice. All that is required of me is to prove that utilitarianism in of itself can not uphold justice. However, my arguments will essentially be derived from a deontological and non-consequentialist perspective.

C1: Utilitarianism derives from intrinsic happiness and does not justify the morality of the action.
Utilitarianism focuses on quantitative value rather than qualitative value. This is not what justice resolves around. Due to the fact that utilitarianism derives from sheer happiness and the majority, actions can not be justified. As deontology proposes, happiness does not always justify an action. Consider the situation of genocide that operates under utilitarianism: Genocides are almost always a result of the majority acting against the minority: European-Americans against Native Americans during the presidency of Andrew Jackson, the Fascists and Nazis against the Jews in WWII, the Hutus against the Tutsis in Rwanda, and the Serbians against the ethnic Albanians in Serbia. Just because the corrupt and violent majority favored the elimination of an entire group of people, it does not make it moral – as utilitarianism would suggest. [2] Now while this action is somewhat extreme it does disprove the reliability of utilitarianism. To assert that this happens seldomly would be to disregard the fundamental purpose of justice, equality. Utilitarianism also fails to justify the morality of the majority that it is discussing. Consider this (thanks Blackvoid!): To save the lives of five serial killers (assume the DP is not in play) one innocent person must be killed. Utilitarianism justifies this because it is giving the majority their good and their happiness rather than the innocent and moral being. Deontology on the other hand would prevent this from happening because it is not moral to save the immoral by killing the moral. So essentially just because it appeals to the majority and it grants happiness to the majority does not mean that it is a just or moral action as I clarified. Deontology which assures the morality of the action allows us to ensure that the moral individual will be saved and the action will be moral.

C2: Utilitarianism fundamentally disregards equality.
By principle and by definition, utilitarianism acts upon the majority. However justice on the other hand attempts to give EVERYONE what they deserve as both our definitions lead to. When the theory fundamentally disregards everyone and goes off of 51% per se, it does not achieve justice by principle and can't even achieve justice circumstantially. When the affirmative makes the statement that utilitarianism can indeed properly uphold the value of justice he is asserting that utilitarianism can in of itself uphold justice. At the point at which it is fundamentally contradictory with justice, justice can not be upheld. As my opponent clarifies in his case not everyone can get what they deserve. When one asserts that everyone can not get what they deserve it is almost impossible to achieve justice for he is setting a precedent to not achieve justice. Now of course maybe one or two people will be left out (one has to weigh it off of morality), but when he asserts that he can not give it to everybody all of a sudden 51% apparently becomes a goal since it is a majority. Thus by principle and definition it is virtually impossible to achieve justice.

C3: Critique of Consequentialism
The theory of consequentialism which my opponent advocates for is flawed as well. To assert that only the outcome and consequence of a situation is pertinent would be to open a door for so many immoral actions. Our government can decide to kill 20% of the population because it would make a better world for the 80% in terms of the economy and competition. I could go on and on critiquing consequentialism but it obliviously disregards the morality of the action. Not only does consequentialism fundamentally accept immoral intentions achieving moral outcomes but it advocates against moral intentions achieving immoral outcomes. If a father tries to protect his son from dying and they both end up dying this is not acceptable by consequentialism and utilitarianism because the majority is not accounted for. If our justice system were to work this way, which my opponent is upholding, all immoral actions achieving moral results and vice versa would be acceptable. It is absurd to assert that one of mental enfeeblement who accidentally kills someone should be punished because it had immoral consequences. Thus consequentialism and utilitarianism can not uphold justice.

Rebuttal

Note: This rebuttal will be somewhat brief due to lack of space but I will go more in depth in the next round.

The Property Flaw

Looking over my opponent's argument we see he makes the assertion that it is "impossible" to evaluate competing rights and is impossible to uphold justice. He brings up some hypothetical examples that Utilitarianism does not by any means justify. Let's look it over:

"As another example: a company has a right to use its own property as it sees fit. However, if it dumps chemicals in the river on its property, those chemicals travel to other people's properties downriver and damage those people's properties."

Utilitarianism would lead us to the wrong decision in this circumstance. By my opponent's theory, if the company is larger or has a larger impact on the world than the people who own the property it would be justifiable for them to infringe upon the property of the owners. So utilitarianism does not by any means justify property rights cause it would open a door for majorities to take away and destroy the property of the minorities (like genocide) accommadating their arbitrary whim. Thus utilitarianism does not distribute conflicting rights well at all.

Categorical Imperative

First off I do not necessarily have to advocate for the categorical imperative but the claim my opponent is making is prima facie incorrect and flawed. Pro brings up two examples, one with a bomb and one from Joseph Nye discussing a village incident. He asserts that the categorical imperative does not justify this and would let the majority die. I don't know what leads my opponent to this assertion but the problem with utilitarianism is that it does not attempt to compromise. Perhaps there is an alternative, I'm not saying there is but it disregards the alternative simply because the majority impact is acceptable. Also, the example is completely biased. It presupposes that utilitarianism is 99% to 1% but what about 51% to 49 and all the in between? My opponent's case strays away from this and does not justify it.

Rule Consequentialism

Rule consequentialism does not even value the morality of the action OR the morality of the people who it is saving. Also rule consequentialism asserts that an action intended to destroy the world is moral if it works the opposite way and an action intended to help that hurts is immoral. By this philosophy people of mental enfeeblement, accidental murders, and so forth would be murdered. This is NOT a way to uphold a just society.

In conclusion, justice is not a quantitative matter but a qualitative matter. I now turn it over to bluesteel for the rebuttal. See comments for sources. Thanks and vote CON.
Debate Round No. 2
bluesteel

Pro

Thanks for the response Cameron.

I'll proceed to a rebuttal of my opponent's points.

== Definitions ==

My opponent tries to make me advocate the Bentham/Mill's version of utilitarianism. This makes no sense. Advances in philosophy have corrected for many of the flaws in their original formulation of utilitarianism. If I were advocating for air travel as upholding the value of safety, it goes without saying that we are talking about *modern* airplanes not the airplanes of the Wright brothers. Although Bentham and Mills invented utilitarianism, there have been many advances in consequentialist thinking since their time.

In addition, I should get to choose which version of utilitarianism I endorse.

== Observation ==

My opponent says he does not *need* to endorse an alternate ethical system. However, I asserted that utilitarianism is the *only* way to assess competing rights claims and uphold justice. Without an alternate system, that point should be considered conceded. Secondly, he says he endorses deontology, which includes the categorical imperative. Thus, he must win the CI is preferable to util to win deontology.

== Utilitarianism derives from happiness and does not justify morality? ==

My opponent really makes two distinct arguments under this heading: that util justifies genocide and the (reformulated) murdering doctor objection.

First, I'd like to remind the reader that I endorsed *rule consequentialism,* which asks whether you would rather live in a world where X happens or a world where X doesn't happen. This also incorporates aspects of the veil of ignorance. The veil of ignorance asks you to pretend that you don't know anything about who you are (your race, gender, ethnicity, etc). Given that you could be *anyone* within a given society, would you rather live in a world where X happens or where X never happens. Since rule consequentialism asks people to consider their own moral stance on issues and to use the veil of ignorance, most people would generally conclude that they'd rather live in a world where genocide did not happen since they would not enjoy being the targets of the genocide themselves. Thus, rule consequentialism *cannot* be used to justify genocide.

Secondly, rule consequentialism is not incompatible with natural rights, like the right to life. If people would rather live in a world where a right to life is guaranteed and respected, then rule consequentialism states that we should have a right to life. The only difference between rule consequentialism and the CI is that rule consequentialism allows important exceptions.

Now let's move on to the murdering doctor objection, or rather, cameron's perversion of it. He says that 5 serial killers can be saved by murdering 1 innocent person. Since most people would not want to live in a world where innocent people can be murdered to save the lives of death row inmates, this scenario would not be allowed under rule consequentialism.

== Util disregards equality? ==

Firstly, the veil of ignorance already answers this argument, since someone would not know where in the social hierarchy they will fall while under the veil, so people would prefer a world with protections of minority rights. Secondly, my opponent is unclear what he means by "giving everyone their due." In most societies today, people take "giving everyone their due" to mean providing equality of opportunity, as opposed to equality of outcome, which would be communism. Third, utilitarianism seeks to provide the *greatest good* for the greatest number. My opponent seems to think that *all* that matters is the greatest number, but he completely ignores *the greatest good.* Imagine two axes: on one is the magnitude of the good done and on the other is the total number of people affected; util considers *both* factors. For example, preventing genocide, even if the group is small, provides a massive good, even though it is to a smaller number, because a group that does not die derives massive good from keeping their lives, whereas genocide provides only marginal benefits to the majority (slightly greater per capita resources). The greater good done to the smaller group outweighs the tiny amount of good done to the larger group.

== Consequentialism is flawed? ==

My opponent claims that the government could kill 20% of the population to benefit the other 80%. I've already answered this above with rule consequentialism and the veil of ignorance. In addition, it is doubtful that the U.S. economy, for example, would benefit from 20% of the population dying, even if the worst 20% of society was somehow targeted.

My opponent says that consequentialism is bad because it allows immoral intentions that result in moral outcomes. This may be true, depending on the circumstances – for example abortion is allowed because of the negative consequences of banning it, not because the intentions of the mothers are necessarily "moral" - but this is better than deontology and the CI which allow *moral* intentions that result in *immoral* outcomes. Remember the examples I already provided: letting 50 people die because you refuse to shoot one person and letting one million people die because you refuse to torture one terrorist to find the location of a bomb.

My opponent next says that if a father tries to protect his son and fails, and they both die, this is deemed immoral by util. This is false. When outcomes are unclear (outside the realm of thought experiments, where outcomes are guaranteed), util looks to *expected* outcomes. In addition, the father clearly derives more utility for *trying* to save his son, even if he fails, than he does from watching his son die.

My opponent says it is absurd to punish someone who is mentally handicapped for killing someone. Rule consequentialism *has* resulted in an insanity defense exception to murder, although the person will most likely be institutionalized as a danger to himself or others. I actually turn this argument: the CI says that murder is always wrong, regardless of the mental deficiencies of the aggressor. The CI would allow no such exception.

== The Property Flaw ==

If a company being allowed to dump chemicals creates more *total* utility than the damage that the chemical dumping does, then theoretically the dumping should be allowed, but total utility is equal to the utility of the dumping minus the aggregate utility of everyone the dumping hurts. So if a company gets 1 million utility from dumping and the dumping does one util of damage per person to 2 million people, the dumping would not be allowed.

In addition, some release of chemicals is inevitable. Although we would like companies to emit zero CO2, for example, this is an impossible goal. We must somehow determine the "acceptable" level of CO2 emissions, meaning the level at which we as a society derive more (economic) benefit from the release of the CO2 than the expected damage of the CO2's release. My opponent's only possible alternative would be to pass a law that NO release of CO2 is allowed, which would eliminate nearly every industry in the world. The only way to weigh harms vs. benefits is utilitarianism.

My opponent also fails to explain how we can evaluate competing rights claims without utilitarianism. If my rights and yours come into conflict, how else do we decide who prevails?

== The CI ==

My opponent doesn't really answer either of my objections to the CI.

== Rule consequentialism ==

My opponent claims this system does not value the morality of the people. This is *precisely* what it *does* do by asking people if they would rather live in a world where X is allowed or banned. People's moral decisionmaking is *central* to rule consequentialism.

My opponent claims that util is quantitative not qualitative. He clearly does not understand that util functions along two axes – a quantitative one (greatest number) and a qualitative one (greatest good) – rather than one. In addition, my opponent has failed to show how we could uphold justice without util, either qualitatively or quantitatively.

I now open the floor once again for my opponent.
cameronl35

Con

Thanks for the swift response, bluesteel. It is an honor to debate such a formidable opponent.

Definitions:

The only definition my opponent contested was utilitarianism so I will briefly go over it. My intention was not to make my opponent advocate for the original definition but the purpose was to exemplify the sole purpose of utilitarianism, to maximize happiness. His definition was somewhat abstract for he does not identify what this "goodness" is. The "goodness" by every philosopher and anytime one is discussing utilitarianism is happiness. Yes, you can endorse what type of utilitarianism you like, but it always revolves around net happiness. We should not further discuss definitions. He concedes to my definition of justice since he has no response so the voters can use my definition, giving each their due.

Observation:

Deontology and the CI are two different things. I do not have to win the CI debate to win this debate. Again all that is required for me in the resolution was that utilitarianism can not uphold justice, not that the categorical imperative can. Even if utilitarianism is the best way that doesn't mean you have won, it simply means there needs to be a hybrid of systems or another alternative but that is irrelevant. I think it is clear to the voters I don't need to win the CI debate, it's just another way for him to try to lever and contort the debate towards his side, disregard it. Keep in mind it's not my obligation to uphold justice, it is his. I do believe the CI is the best way to uphold justice and will defend it just to accommodate my opponent's request to make it easier for the readers.

Defense of C1

My opponent does not even respond to the core argument here. The contention was portraying how utilitarianism goes off of net "goodness" or happiness. He does not justify how this justifies the morality but rather poked at my genocide and doctor argument by saying it would go off of what most people "prefer". This is where my opponent commits two fallacies: Presumption and the 'Democratic Fallacy'. He first is presumptuous because he states that most people would not want to live in a world under genocide and most people wouldn't want serial killers however at the point at which genocide is even questionable, we can not know what the people want. The point is under utilitarianism this is acceptable because the people who practiced genocide had a larger net gain of happiness and goodness. He also commits the Democratic Fallacy because he assumes that the arbitrary majority consensus is what justifies the action. So essentially because they believe it should be a certain way and they prefer it one way, it can should be that way. At times "most" people preferred slavery and racism and saw it acceptable. This is a basic fallacy and is not a direct argument. Bluesteel has not yet responded to the contention and justified "happiness" so at this point he has technically conceded since he isn't justifying the happiness, or utilitarianism.

Equality and the VOI

Bluesteel brings up a new argument, the veil of ignorance. He states that we should pretend that we should ignore who we are (race, gender, etc). I agree, justice is a universal concept. However this is blatantly contradictory with what he is discussing. If we are really using the veil of ignorance, we must assume that you might be that 5% that has to get murdered or whatever action is required by utilitarianism. In this circumstance the veil of ignorance would tell us not to commit that action, as would the CI. Thus the veil of ignorance has no apparent leverage either way. The only real argument against utilitarianism disregarding equality (which it does by definition) is that giving each their due is considered equal opportunity. I agree here again, but util does not advocate for such a venture. It states that the net gain is what matters, so whatever has a greater impact matters. That means that disregarding the smaller impact is acceptable thus not achieving equal opportunity since you wouldn't be giving them their due. He states that I am ignoring the greater good, which I am not. He again commits presumption when he assumes there is a "small" benefit. Pillaging a village and taking over the Native American land had HUGE net gain for the majority. This was a greater good and is perfectly acceptable under utilitarianism. We see no direct argument here because by principle giving everyone their due is impossible under utilitarianism because it by principle disregards a certain number.


Does consequentialism justify morality?

His response to the economy argument is the same thing he has been doing throughout the debate, attacking the examples and avoiding the sole fundamentals the contention is discussing. Read my earlier responses for this.

Pro asserts that immoral intentions resulting in moral outcomes is true "depending on the circumstances". Not only does this make him a moving target but it disregards justice. Justice does not revolve around "special circumstances". Justice is a universal concept and justice and laws are determined by moral obligations, principles, definitions, etc. He brings up abortion saying that the outcomes are better. He needs to justify how preventing another being from LIVING is a moral outcome. This is not a moral outcome. Thus he has not yet justified this. He discusses bombing and terrorism but this asserts that there is no alternative, when deontology tries to work around and be moral beings rather than "screwing the pooch" and deciding to act. He needs to bring forth a tangible example, not one in the mind of bluesteel. A majority of my examples such as genocide were practical circumstances.

In defense of the moral intention to immoral outcome argument he states that it is false simply because util only looks to "expected outcomes". It is incomprehensible to understand how saving someone "expects" that one will save the person. If we only look to "expected outcomes" we would rarely save a being since normally people fail in saving other people due to the immense task at hand. So if I am trying to save someone, but it is likely that I wont, this action is not justified by my opponent's theory. Imagine a world where one would operate under calculations and not save our children because most likely we won't. That my friends, would not be justice.

He later attempts to turn my mental enfeeblement argument around by stating that the CI would not accept this because it is murder. Non-consequentialism goes off of moral intentions. Because the person of mental enfeeblement is irrational and does not have any definite intention, this is not a immoral action and is acceptable. I would like Pro to clarify his defense of the "insanity defense exception" for it is somewhat abstract.

Property Flaw

Pro goes on to discuss utility and makes a somewhat abstract response. The point is, as he agrees, it is acceptable to allow the company to dump the chemicals because it has a greater total utility. Thus it is moral to infringe upon another individual's property rights. This is not justice because it does not respect the universal rights every individual has. At this point it is apparent he can not uphold justice since he can't uphold rights. As far as competing rights goes, the more just solution will be preferred because we are discussing justice.

CI

Explained earlier.

Rule Consequentialism

Pro yet again commits the democratic fallacy. If X people prefer to kill everyone and blow up the world under his theory, this acceptable under what he is advocating.

He goes on to say that util is both quantitative and qualitative but he simply misses the point. Util goes off of the NUMBER of goodness, not the quality of the goodness. It does not even justify what this "goodness is". Pro hasn't justified his "goodness" and has distorted the universal concept of justice so at this point the only viable vote would be for CON.

I now await bluesteel's final summary.


Debate Round No. 3
bluesteel

Pro

Thanks for your response Cameron.

== Definitions ==

My opponent doesn't quite seem to understand what the term "utility" means in economics. It's not accurately characterized by the word "happiness." Utility has to do with the total benefits that one derives from an action.

On "justice," I don't take issue with my opponent's definition, but do take issue with what it means to "give each their due."

== Observation ==

Any system is better than none. If there is no way to evaluate competing rights claims, society breaks down. If my opponent fails to show how the CI can evaluate claims of competing rights, he loses.

Remember, the factory wants to emit X level of CO2. Environmentalists want it to emit Y level of CO2. The people who are affected most by global warming want the factory to emit Z level of CO2. Utilitarianism tells us how to evaluate this situation. Deontology does not. Since util is the *only* way to uphold justice, I automatically win. No matter how bad my opponent thinks this system is, it is always going to be better than nothing.

My opponent says a "hybrid" system might work, but if util is necessary to uphold justice, even if it incorporates aspects of deontological rights, I still win. I already showed how rule consequentialism can lead to the incorporation of deontological rights if a world with deontological rights is better than a world without them. My opponent concedes this point. In this way, I capture 100% of my opponent's offense, by solving for genocide and murder, while providing the flexibility that deontology lacks and allowing competing rights claims to be evaluated.

== Equality ==

It's still not even clear what my opponent means by "equality." If he wants people treated equally, regardless of which group they are a part of, the veil of ignorance solves this entirely.

My opponent does concede that the veil solves his objection. He says, "In this circumstance the veil of ignorance would tell us not to commit that action, as would the CI." So the veil of ignorance prevents minority groups from being harmed because under the veil, one would not know whether one is part of that minority group or not. Since rule consequentialism incorporates the veil of ignorance, it solves for minority rights. I don't need to prove that the veil of ignorance is *better* than the CI in this regard, just that it solves *this particular objection* as well as the CI.

My opponent talks about "stealing Native American land," but this is just another objection solved by the veil.

Next he says that util disregards a certain number of people. This is *inevitable* when rights come into conflict because one group is going to like the outcome and one group will not.

== Do I commit two logical fallacies? ==

Presumption: under the veil of ignorance, it's not presumptuous to think people would not want to be murdered or have genocide committed against them.

Democratic Fallacy: rule consequentialism asks whether objectively a world with rule Y is a better or worse world. If we pair the veil of ignorance with measures of total net utility, we will achieve the best policy for people, regardless of where in society they fall.

== Does consequentialism justify morality? ==

Let's consider another way deontology fails. Consider the following: two conjoined twins have only one heart, which cannot pump blood to both their growing bodies. If they are not separated, both will die. If we separate them, the one that keeps the heart lives and the other twin dies. We have killed one twin to save the other. Deontology would not allow us to kill one twin because murder is "always" wrong and would instead needlessly allow both the twins to die.

My opponent says that I rely too much on "the circumstances." He merely twists my words. What I said was that all we *should* care about, universally, is whether the *outcome* is moral. The precise problem with deontology is that it allows moral intentions that result in immoral outcomes. Our intention is to never kill or torture another human being, but to uphold this moral value, we let an entire village be murdered and we allow a bomb to kill 1 million people. A system that *sometimes* allows "immoral intentions" – whatever that even means (this term is incoherent to a consequentialist) – is preferable to a system that allows immoral outcomes.

My opponent claims that deontology attempts to "work around" these circumstances, but deontology has no "workarounds." Deontology states that we cannot use other humans as a means to an end. No matter what.

My opponent is also confusing "intention" with consequences. He seems to be defining an "intention" as "expecting a certain outcome," such as a father intending to save his son. My opponent judges intentions, also, by expected consequences. This is functionally the same as utilitarianism.

The only slight wrinkle is that people can have the best of intentions and still do horrible things. A rule consequentialist would say that you should not attempt medical interventions if you are not trained. My opponent would say that is okay for an untrained person to have attempted CPR on a passed out boy, even though the boy was diabetic and feinted from low blood sugar and the person killed him by cracking his rib cage and crushing his heart. But that's okay, according to my opponent, because the person *intended* to save his life. The US had the best of "intentions" when we perpetrated the Trail of Tears: we thought we were protecting Native Americans from encroaching settlers. Intentions can go very bad.

My opponent quibbles with my use of "expected outcome," by which I meant "objectively most likely outcome." He claims we'd never attempt to save someone because it is hard to do so. Not only is this not true, but even if something is hard, that doesn't mean we expect to fail. Lastly, in the previous example my opponent gave, the dad died trying to save his son. If there is no chance of the dad dying, a rule consequentialist would say that if there is no downside, one should always attempt to save another person's life.

My opponent talks about the criminally insane killing people. He claims because their intentions were "pure," they should not be held culpable. Apparently, in his society, insane people can go around murdering freely. A rule consequentialist would conclude that we should allow an insanity defense, where if someone cannot tell the difference between "right" and "wrong," that person will be institutionalized rather than going to jail. But we don't let them go free because their intentions were "pure."

== Property Flaw ==

Quite simply, my opponent loses the debate here. He asserts that under his advocacy, a company can never emit *any* chemicals because it infringes on another's property rights. However, this is impossible. Companies can *reduce* their CO2 output, for example, to socially optimal levels, as determined by net utility, but they cannot reduce output to zero. My opponent's deontological advocacy leads us to destroying our economy. The EPA regulates chemical emissions, but none of the acceptable levels are at *zero.* Clear Pro win. My opponent's system is too extreme.

== Rule consequentialism ==

Util is qualitative. If a certain policy provides 10 "utils" of satisfaction to 2 people, this is still preferable to a system that provides 1 util of satisfaction to 19 people. Most people value their lives infinitely, so no policy that endorses genocide could ever be implemented, since nothing outweighs infinite (except another infinite). We look at both the qualitative aspect of how much good or bad is done to *each* individual and then look at the quantitative aspect of how many people are affected.

However, utility can be measured objectively, so when deciding whether the world is better or worse with a certain rule, we don't need to appeal to the democracy fallacy.

== Conclusion ==

Rule consequentialism looks at all the good things a policy causes and all the bad things it causes, weighs these against each other, and decides which policy creates the greatest net utility. Alternate systems, like deontology, completely ignore the consequences of the rules they enact. Deontology, while forcing you to uphold your good intentions, would not care if you refused to kill one person in order to prevent the whole world from being destroyed by a nuclear war. Deontology leads to rigid conclusions, such as "thou shalt not infringe on the property rights of another," resulting in absurd rules like "zero CO2 emissions." For the complex world we live in today, rule consequentialism is the only way to consider all the factors and reach the (pareto) optimal outcome.
cameronl35

Con



If this isn't already convincing enough, I will continue with my rebuttal and summary.



Rebuttal

Definitions:

It's rather ironic how Pro in his LAST round states that he is discussing maximization of utility. The definition he provided was maximization of "goodness", not utility. Those are two separate types of utilitarianism and the fact that he keeps contorting what he's advocating for not only makes him a moving target but should lose him the conduct point for changing the debate in the last round. I will continue on as if he is discussing goodness since that is what this debate was set to be about from the start. He not once mentions what this "goodness" is throughout the debate because he knows that it is happiness universally. At the point at which he has not once justified how happiness is good, he can not win the debate already. You can almost vote Con already right here since he isn't endorsing Util.

Observation:

Again Pro mistakenly assumes that I have to endorse the CI. Readers, disregard this. Just remember he is endorsing a system and HE is upholding justice and I am proving we he can't, not why I can.

Pro agrees that util can not uphold justice in of itself and states that he wins the debate if he proves that justice needs Util. This is simply wrong because the resolution states that Util in of itself can uphold justice. Thus already he has technically conceded and you can vote for Con. Just because justice requires Util in a few circumstances does not mean Util can uphold justice.

It should be noted that Pro does not respond to my defense of my C1, so this can be extended for its validity across the flow. He never justifies the intrinsic goodness of "happiness".

Can Util achieve Equality?

I did admit that Util would solve the objection, but I said that the CI would too. If both can solve there is no conflict either way. It doesn't make sense that he is stating that it is acceptable to sacrifice the minority for the majority but then to assert that the VOI won't allow us to since we have to consider their position? Pro is not clear as to who will be sacrificed, if he says the minority will be treated he is endorsing deontology, not Util. It should be noted that the VOI and Deontology go hand in hand as well.

Later says that it is inevitable to disregard a certain number of people. At this point he concedes to achieving justice. He asserts that there is no alternative other than killing, per se. However on the deontological aspect there can perhaps be a compromise made, thus achieving more than he is by upholding rights. At the point at which I am upholding rights and he is stating that sometimes it is impossible, he is not upholding justice and I am. Pro basically concedes when he says util can not achieve equality.

Fallacies

Pro misses the point on the presumptuous fallacy. I wasn't saying they would want murder for themselves but I was stating when you assume that the people will make the right decision, you are being presumptuous. Imagine if our justice system ran off of assuming that the majority will make the right decision. This does allow genocide as I have explained time after time.

Same goes with the Democratic Fallacy. He is asserting that the way X people want the world to be, is moral under the VOI. So if X wants the world to end in 2012, this is moral. There is nothing moral about this.

Consequentialism

As far as the twin objection goes, the CI would state that we can not kill the baby, not deontology. Deontology is not as rigid as my opponent assumes. It may not be the moral action, but it is *permissible*. Deontology wouldn't govern the legality of this either. My opponent is trying to force me to advocate for the CI in all circumstances however that is not what I am doing. I am proving that Util does not uphold justice, not the CI does. Conflicting rights would be determined by universal morality, not Util.

Pro states "all we *should* care about, universally, is whether the *outcome* is moral". Imagine if our justice system revolved around the *outcomes*. Attempted murder would be just, robbery would be just, etc if it fails. This is not correct. Like I stated earlier, a father who fails to save his child and accidentally lets him die would be punished. Pro never really explains how everything is determined by the outcome. My system proposes that the outcome AND the intention matter, not just the outcome. However as deontology proposes the action is deemed *moral* by the intention, not the outcome. This doesn't mean we disregard the outcomes. Pro is disregarding the intention when he states all we should care about is the outcomes. Miracles and other highly improbable circumstances would occur since the *outcome* would not be good generally.
The same way my opponent turns intentions being bad can be turned with outcomes. Like I said I could intend to do the most immoral action I want, but if it results as moral that's fine. I am considering intentions AND outcomes, he states only outcomes matter. Again this is so fraudulent that all cases of second-degree murder would result in punishment even though it was accidental since "all that matters are the outcomes". This would be a terrible way to uphold justice.

Suppose the dad has to save his son from getting hit by a car. He *has* to run in front of the car and grab his son. Then as he is stating there is a chance of Daddy dying so he shouldn't do it?? I suppose our justice system should determine whether or not people can save their very own children. Deontology would permit this since his intention is good and he is protecting his own son out of love, regardless of what happens.

I looked over the debate and never did I state that insane people running around with *pure* intentions would not be held culpable. I was discussing people with mental disabilities and showing how the outcome is immoral, so a rule consequentialist would punish any mentally disabled person who commits murder. Deontology would not, since the person did not have an immoral intention. When we come to the conclusion that people of mental enfeeblement would be punished, we know this is not justice. Thus Pro has still not proven how outcomes always justify morality. He constantly contorts it to make it seem like it does, but it is apparent it does not.

Property Flaw

I did not state that they have to reduce their CO2 levels to zero all I stated was that it is immoral for them to infringe upon rights of people. To a minuscule extent where it won't matters, yes they can do it. However when one destroys the autonomy of an individual because it has greater *net* utility, this is not justice. We must factor in the rights of the individuals, which util does not. Util would allow the company to dump as much as they want as long as it benefits the economy more. This system is way too extreme.

Util is qualitative?

Pro again misses the point. He states that we look at "how much good" is done. That is quantitative, not qualitative. Qualitative would look at what type and what kind of goodness is done, not how much. Again he never refutes that this would set a precedent to so much violation of rights because it has more "utils"

Summary

Pro drops a contention and disregards "happiness" throughout the debate. Time after time he contorts the resolution to his need. Ladies and gents, he has not affirmed the resolution. He has only proved that Util works "sometimes" and for "some people" but justice is meant to give everyone their due at all times. A hybrid system works much better than Util. Pro has not justified happiness and can not by principle win the debate. He also fails to prove how outcomes determine the morality of an action. Thus the readers should prefer the pragmatist perspective and should vote for the side that actually upholds the rights of individuals rather than going off of more *utils*. A justice system based on util would not be just at all. It is unequivocal, vote CON.
Debate Round No. 4
25 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by cameronl35 5 years ago
cameronl35
Thanks a lot for the RFD Raisor, I will try to be more cohesive next time. Your input helps a lot.
Posted by Raisor 5 years ago
Raisor
RFD 2/2

I do agree with Con that Pro is a bit ambiguous in defining if his advocacy is for maximizing "happiness" "the good" or "utility" and fails to defined what these mean. At the same time I don't really see how this ambiguity has a big impact on the arguments. The closest this comes to really being important is on the issue of the Presumption fallacy- an argument that I do think is damaging and somewhat trends in Con's favor. Pushing this argument more forcefully and earlier in the debate would have been advantageous for Con. Generally speaking Con does have a few arguments that make utilitarianism look somewhat problematic, but they are presented in a rather non-cohesive and underdeveloped manner. When compared to the coherent position Pro is putting forth these concerns just aren't very compelling.

In conclusion, I think this was a clear win for Pro. Con did a good job for sure, but his case was a little disjointed and the overall strategy was sub-optimal.
Posted by Raisor 5 years ago
Raisor
RFD 1/2

Pro's arguments were in general much clearer and better organized than Con's. Sometimes I got lost in the middle of Con's arguments as to what he was trying to show. Also it seemed like Con got bogged down in general questions about utilitarianism that weren't particularly relevant to the debate.

Con's position seems schizophrenic in that he constantly defends his ability to run multiple positions (advocating the C.I. but not being committed to it) but then really only runs one position. The heart of a lot of your arguments depend on the CI or some vague alternative deontological system. For example you say the VOI "has no apparent leverage" since the CI solves equality problems. There are quite a few strategic problems with the way you advocate deontology in this round, but the most basic is that you rely on it fairly heavily and yet spend time maintaining you don't need it to win.

The other big problem with Con's case is that the core of the debate- "justice"- is not kept in focus. Pro clearly sets up how a rights system is achieved via util and how util uniquely provides a weighing mechanism for rights- features that seem very characteristic of justice. Con sort of shoots of a string of more or less relevant criticisms of util with the issue of justices sort of loosely tied in.

Finally, Con doesn't properly react to the "rule utilitarianism" that Pro advocates. This advocacy is made clear in R2 and Pro even says "I bet Con will make a bunch of arguments not relevant to rule util" and yet Con makes exactly the types of criticisms that rule utilitarianism is designed to solve. Con should have been anticipating arguments along the lines of VOI etc. in his opening round but throughout the round Con sticks to critiques of utilitarianism that are weak against rule util.
Posted by cameronl35 5 years ago
cameronl35
Thanks for the RFD, it is much appreciated.
Posted by OMGJustinBieber 5 years ago
OMGJustinBieber
Admirable effort by Con against a tough debater. Con needed to remove rule utilitarianism from its pedestal, and throughout the debate I was hoping Con would bring up the "collapse" criticism that rule utilitarianism collapses into act. Con rightly nips the veil of ignorance concept in the bud, but struggles to establish an alternative system. Pro makes an important point about the tendency of utilitarianism to "swallow up" the CI or other deontological positions if utility mandates it.

IMO, Con's examples of utilitarianism leading to undesirable consequences are best directed at ACT utilitarianism, and Pro avoids many of these difficulties by going the rule route. The "collapse" criticism mentioned earlier is really a potent tool for challenging rule utilitarianism and its led utilitarian philosophers to advocate different derivations in response to it. Pro was right in demanding that Con need bring up another ethical system and defend it; a moral nihilist charging utilitarianism with injustice is an empty case. Good effort by Con, and this point was not mentioned by Mill does distinguish the quality of happiness (higher and lower pleasures) as relevant to utilitarianism.
Posted by Lickdafoot 5 years ago
Lickdafoot
oh nice, i just debated on utilitarianism too. I'll def. read this when i get a chance.
Posted by cameronl35 5 years ago
cameronl35
Interesting RFD 16k, if I may say.
Posted by cameronl35 5 years ago
cameronl35
Great debate bluesteel, thanks again.
Posted by Mestari 5 years ago
Mestari
Somebody remind me to vote on this debate if I forget to.
Posted by 16kadams 5 years ago
16kadams
found them
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by Raisor 5 years ago
Raisor
bluesteelcameronl35Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments
Vote Placed by darkkermit 5 years ago
darkkermit
bluesteelcameronl35Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: PRO's use of the veil of ignorance and critique of dentology demonstrate clearly that utilitarianism can properly uphold the value of justice
Vote Placed by OMGJustinBieber 5 years ago
OMGJustinBieber
bluesteelcameronl35Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.
Vote Placed by thett3 5 years ago
thett3
bluesteelcameronl35Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: Yeah, sorry bluesteel, but I need to counter the 16kadams vote. He probably could not even identify what "pros main point" even was considering he was talking about punishment and deterrence.
Vote Placed by 16kadams 5 years ago
16kadams
bluesteelcameronl35Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: sorry con, his arguments where superior and I think his point about consequenses stood at the end. did he describe deterence theory? More punishment possiblity the less likely you are to do the act? It would have been good if he did but i do not remember. but pro's main point stood, and your alternative wasn't as appealing. This goes to pro. And people that make mistakes shoudl get punished