The Instigator
Bullish
Pro (for)
Winning
7 Points
The Contender
Bochoyboy
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Utilitarianism is in principle a better system of morality.

Do you like this debate?NoYes+3
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Bullish
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/26/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,024 times Debate No: 56975
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (23)
Votes (2)

 

Bullish

Pro

Note: I have made this debate impossible to accept. To be considered for accepting this debate, please state the moral system you will be arguing for in the comments section.

Topic:

I take the position that "Utilitarianism is in principle a better system of morality." My opponent must choose a sufficiently different system of normative morality and argue in favor of it. The winner is the one who shows his morality system to be better.

Definitions:
Utilitarianism, roughly defined - a theory in normative ethics holding that the proper course of action is the one that maximizes utility, usually defined as maximizing total benefit and reducing suffering or the negatives [1]. This means I support the assertion that pleasure is central to morality. Per Jeremy Bentham:

Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as to determine what we shall do. On the one hand the standard of right and wrong, on the other the chain of causes and effects, are fastened to their throne. They govern us in all we do, in all we say, in all we think...[2].


The specific brand of utilitarianism that I will be arguing in favor of is "pragmatic total utilitarianism." That means I do not expect to sit down every time and calculate the effects of an action. Practicality affects factors of utilitarianism and it will be accounted for. It means I will be following this rendition of the "felicific calculus" [3]:

R = results; I = intensity; D = duration; P = certainty (0 <= P <= 1); F = fecundity (other average positive results); X = impurity (other average negative results); and E = extent (number of persons);

R = P * [(I * D ) + (F * E) - (X * E)]


The greatest thinkable R value determines the morally correct action.

Better - more desirable.

Morality - principles that determine what is right and what is wrong.

Context:
I just want to debate about morality.

Rules:
R1 acceptance;
R2 arguments;
R3 rebuttals;
R4rebuttals;

[1]. http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2]. Bentham, Jeremy.1789. The Principles of Morals and Legislation.
[3]. http://en.wikipedia.org...
Bochoyboy

Con

I accept.
Debate Round No. 1
Bullish

Pro

You may have noticed that line at the beginning of R1 that I said I wanted to pick my opponent. Unfortunately, the first contender declined the debate, and while I was retracting my challenge, the requirements reset to default and the debate became acceptable by anyone again. I will argue on regardless.


This debate will focus mainly on the philosophical. While nearly all of my ideas have been thought of by great minds before me, they have permeated into “mainstream” philosophy so much that they do not need to be cited.


========


Utilitarian


As defined, morality is a system of what is right and wrong. “Right” and “wrong” are ideas, and ideas are inherent to only sentient, self-aware cybernetic systems. Humans are animals with those traits (for the purposes of this debate, I am assuming that human society is highly interdependent and that the sentience of other animals are low to negligible). Therefore, humans could have a system of morality. Humans belong to a society of humans who have ideas of what is right and what is wrong. Therefore, human society has a morality system.


Everyone has individual ideas concerning what happens to him, and whether it is right or wrong. For example, Joe believes that getting money is right, and getting beaten is wrong. A system of morality determines what is right and what is wrong. Each individual has his own perception of what is right and what is wrong. Each individual has the ability to affect other individuals. Therefore, a normative morality system deals with whether the way individuals treat each other is right or wrong. It is not illogical to conclude, then, that maximizing the “right” (minus “wrong”) each individual collectively feels is the aim of all normative moralities.


There is one thing that ties all that is “right” and all that is “wrong” together. “Right” is positive feelings such as pleasure, while “wrong” is negative feelings such as pain. An individual feels that an event is right only and always when he feels pleasure in the event. Thus, what is collectively right is what causes the maximum difference between positive feelings and negative feelings, in other words, utility, in all individuals.


The above is in line with the felicific calculus. The calculus is, in words, the intensity of the utility multiplied by the duration of the utility, plus the total amount of pleasure subtracted by the total amount of pain that other humans feel, multiplied by the probability that it will all happen. In ideal conditions, the calculus will aim to produce the maximum amount of utility in society, there for maximizing what is right, and is therefore, in probabilistic terms, objectively right.


The system of utility captures all cases of ethical “dilemmas”, since utility is present in all sentience. It is therefore complete.


Pragmatic


It is impractical to sit down and evaluate the consequences of every situation. For example, when an intruder has broken into one’s home, it is not practical to sit down in front of the computer and calculate the probability of death, the utility of calling the police, or the consequences of shooting the defender. It is useful at times to stick to a rule and use it in order to reduce the utility lost through doing the calculus. In this case, self-defense is a reasonable rule to stick to, since it usually brings about the greatest amount of utility.


Here, I will give two examples of pragmatic implementations of utilitarianism: human rights, and larceny.


Human rights is a pragmatic implementation of utilitarianism. Every human would like to have his rights respected, because he would like to use those rights to maximize his own utility. In general, it is more efficient to have a person maximize his own utility by exercising his right to do so than to have a different entity do it. Therefore, human rights in general increase utility.


Not stealing is a pragmatic implementation of utilitarianism. When stealing, the thief does not produce material goods (something that usually leads to an increase in utility), while he expends energy to transfer the material goods. This in general decreases utility. It is generally not utilitarian to steal.


Pre-emptive rebuttals


One issue that people sometimes bring against utilitarianism is inequality. The argument goes something like “if we subscribe to a utilitarian view of morality, then slave labor is justified, since it produces the same amount or more of material goods.” This argument ignores the marginal utility of material goods. For humans, gaining the same amount when poor has more utility than gaining the same amount when rich. Consider the analogy: a thirsty man gains more utility when he drinks water than a non-thirsty man. Slave labor increases the amount of pain that most humans feel while increasing the utility of the one rich person only a little bit. Therefore, slave labor is not utilitarian.


Another issue is that of human rights. The argument structures are usually similar to the following: “If we subscribe to a utilitarian view of morality, then it would be justifiable to kill a person for his organs in order to save five other people.” This is a repulsive conclusion to some. The rebuttal is that if a person on the street was randomly killed, then other people will unnecessarily fear for their lives, thus decreasing total utility. The fact is, objects sacrifice individuals in order to save the whole all the time. However, humans have the unique ability to fear of being killed before they are killed. The situation described above is therefore only repulsive to a utilitarian if that person was seemingly picked at random. If the organ donor was from a set population, such as all LWOP convicts, then the utilitarian will consider it morally correct. However, the utility of harvesting the organs will never be equal to or more than 5 times the utility of not doing so, since doings so causes other humans to fear for their lives.


========


I have outlined why pragmatic utilitarianism is always (again, in probabilistic consequential terms) the most desirable and better morality system. I imagine that I will spend some time countering undesirable examples from my opponent in the next round. I imagine that is what the bulk of my defense will be.


To my opponent.

Bochoyboy

Con

Bochoyboy forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
Bullish

Pro

I have nothing to rebut.
Bochoyboy

Con

Bochoyboy forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
Bullish

Pro

I have nothing to rebut.
Bochoyboy

Con

Bochoyboy forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
23 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Bullish 2 years ago
Bullish
Ah crap. Forgot to make the debate unacceptable again after Jzonda declined.
Posted by Bullish 2 years ago
Bullish
That's fine.
Posted by jzonda415 2 years ago
jzonda415
@Bullish

I am sorry to say that my music camp this weekend is going to be going on for longer I expected. I don't think I will accept this as I think it would now be a squeeze to get my arguments in and I don't want to disappoint you. I am sorry, and hopefully we can debate this another day.
Posted by Bullish 2 years ago
Bullish
Challenge preference given to jzonda415 for now, the first commenter to have good ELO and no tendency to forfeit.

@Ore_Ele: I was going to out "is superior to," but that just seems too vague as well. Because we're debating about morality without an established system of what is right and wrong, I can't think of a choice other than to put the degenerative "better."

@bsh1: Questions?
Posted by Mathaelthedestroyer 2 years ago
Mathaelthedestroyer
I'd like to argue in favor of egoism.
Posted by ChosenWolff 2 years ago
ChosenWolff
Not necessarily. You can say it quite logically, as you are advocating for the perfect moral code. What should be is what would best be in the context I used it
Posted by bsh1 2 years ago
bsh1
I'd be interested, but only if I could get a few questions cleared up...
Posted by Ore_Ele 2 years ago
Ore_Ele
"Should" is a moral statement. You can't say "morals should be..." Without creating circular logic.
Posted by ChosenWolff 2 years ago
ChosenWolff
Ajab, I disagree. Utilitarianism is jsut practicality. Moral code should be based upon net benefit to ones self. This is philosophically correct, as what other purpose would we have, but to establish net benefit in our lives.
Posted by Ore_Ele 2 years ago
Ore_Ele
If definitions are left the same, I'd take this. Probably argue along egoism though.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by dsjpk5 2 years ago
dsjpk5
BullishBochoyboyTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:--Vote Checkmark3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:10 
Reasons for voting decision: Ff
Vote Placed by lannan13 2 years ago
lannan13
BullishBochoyboyTied
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeiture.