The Instigator
thp078
Pro (for)
Losing
1 Points
The Contender
Emmo
Con (against)
Winning
3 Points

Wanting Someone to Not Commit Suicide Is Equally As Selfish As Wanting to Commit Suicide

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
Emmo
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/17/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,715 times Debate No: 33815
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (7)
Votes (1)

 

thp078

Pro

Rules:
1. First round is acceptance.
2. Please refrain from using profanity. Quotes are the only exceptions.
3. Commanding the viewers to vote for your side is forbidden. No "vote me" or any of that.
4. This debate is based on the following definition:
-selfish: characterized by or manifesting concern or care only for oneself
5. No sources allowed. These should be YOUR thoughts in YOUR words. Examples may be used, but they are purely hypothetical.
6. The cases of suicide to be referenced here should be only those based on the suicidal intents of depressed people. No PoW or suicide out of spite instances should be referenced.
7. Burden of proof is shared.
Emmo

Con

Well first of all your assertion is a little vague, you don't go into much detail explaining what you mean. (i'm new to this site, so this just might be the way its done). Anyway without getting sidetracked. Isn't not wanting someone to commit suicide, the opposite of what you would normally regard as selfish. In the sense that yo have the genuine care of another's life to such an extent that you do not want to see them take away something as sacred and as valuable as a life let alone their own. You understand that we are given one life and as such you want to see that person value the sanctity of human life. All things constant, we can assume with reasonable certainty that you believe that by not committing suicide the person is essentially giving his life or existence a second chance. and based on experience after dark days comes the sun. In life there are ups and downs, you (the hypothetical person who wants to stop the suicide) being as wise, knowledgeable and experienced as you are, understand that the problems he/she is going through might at that point appear to be huge and unbearable, but emotions tend to heighten such feelings, you understand seeing things objectively, that generally speaking there are solutions far less drastic than suicide in most if not all circumstances. Lets also take a religious perspective. maybe you believe that killing is a sin, therefore he who kills himself goes to hell, by preventing a person from committing suicide you are essentially (according to your genuine beliefs) saving them from an eternity of damnation in hell. therefore regardless of whether or not your beliefs are true or false, you have a genuine sincerity motivating your actions and are not acting selfish
Debate Round No. 1
thp078

Pro

Allow me to make clear what the claim is:
If some were to want to commit suicide and someone else wanted them to not commit suicide, then they are both equally selfish.

The reason why both parties are equally selfish is that they are putting their desires ahead of those of the other party. Say the suicidal victim wants to die because his life is just awful (we'll call him Steve); Steve's wife and two children just died in a plane crash. Along come his friends to talk him out of it. Despite knowing that Steve is suffering and will most likely consider to suffer over the loss of his family for the rest of his life, his friends want him to continue to live. Steve is also aware that his friends wish for him to continue to live. Here we see plainly that both parties are equally selfish because of their intents to decide the ultimate fate of a human being's life.

Con argues that opting not to commit suicide, the person's life has the potential to improve. This is true. However, the inverse is also a possibility. Things could become worse for the person in question. For the onlooker to advise the suicidal person to take the risk and continue to live is as selfish as the suicidal person to not take the risk. This is because of the opposing nature of taking a risk versus not taking a risk. The risk of continuing to live only offers the possibility of improvement whereas suicide guarantees escape from the worries and burdens of being alive. This is comparable to the absolute value of five being equal to the absolute value of negative five; both options are perfectly opposing concepts and are thus both parties are equally selfish.

In order for con's religious perspective to be of any relevance to this debate, both the suicidal person and the onlooker would have to be aware of the possibility of going to hell for committing suicide. If this is the case then my argument from the previous paragraph would be sufficient for proving my claim as well. In this scenario, the suicidal party is the one taking the risk of going to hell for committing suicide and the onlooker is the one advising for a guarantee (the guarantee here being that the suicidal person will not go to hell for committing suicide should he not commit suicide). For con's sake, I will also make the argument based on the hypothetical circumstances that hell is real and everyone is aware of its existence. In this scenario, the intents of both parties are perfectly opposing as well. If both parties are aware of this, then the suicidal person would show intent to go to hell and the onlooker would show intent for the suicidal person not to go to hell. These two desires are perfectly opposite and thus correlate to an equal amount of selfishness as they are both putting their desires ahead of the desires of the opposite party.

Con has failed to demonstrate that the desire of wanting to commit suicide is not equal to the desire of wanting someone else to not commit suicide. I have shown through multiple examples that they are, in fact, equally selfish.
Emmo

Con

with regards to the first scenario you mentioned. Let's call Steve's friends Matthew and Jane, how exactly is it selfish for Matthew and Jane to want Steve to continue living, as i said before life is something valuable, a gift to those fortunate enough to possess it, which is why it is protected by practically every constitution in the world (the right to life). Jane and Matthew at that juncture see things from an objective perspective, they are not clouded by emotional trauma, such as Steve would be. Jane and Matthew at that point understand that it would be irrational for Steve to take away his own life because of the stress and the pain he's going through. Because in reality we all go through pain in our lives, we all loss someone we love at one point or another (or they lose us) Does that mean when let's say for example X's wife dies, he should immediately kill himself. Let's assume Steve's deceased children had children of their own (essentially Steve's grandchildren) Is it then selfish to persuade Steve to continue living to help his grandchildren cope with the pain, and to sustain them financially.

The point is Steve is incapable of thinking rationally and thinking things through at that point, by stopping Steve from committing suicide Matthew and Jane are merely trying to give Steve time to compose himself and think things through, look at things from a rational perspective (that life goes on, and that he must honor his family by not giving up on life)

With regards to your second counter argument Con acknowledges that the inverse is possible, Con also acknowledges that suicide guarantees escape by ending the source of the problem. However does not see this aides Pro's argument, how exactly is the one trying to stop the suicidal person selfish, in what way, he's not exactly doing it for his own purposes, ofcourse you could argue that he/she is just trying to stop the suicide because it will make him feel better about himself, (more of easing his conscience). But then again can't you argue that while the person trying to stop the suicide (we'll call him Y) knows that suicide is as you put it "a guarantee" that Mr. Suicide's problems will end. Y also understands that suicide technically isn't a solution, its ending the game in it's entirety. Mr. Suicide will never get the chance to find out whether things would have turned out for the better or for the worse, Mr.Suicide would never get the chance to find love, to have children, to be prosperous, to get a job, to have good friends, to pursue his ambitions. Ofcourse this is all just possibilities, that may never have happened. But Y also understands that the joy of living is its uncertainty, its unpredictability is the reason we wake up and get excited when things do go our way. Mr Y knows that Mr. Suicide by committing suicide denies himself the chance of having that. Mr. Y only stops Mr.Suicide to allow him to have that opportunity. Nothing is more self less than wanting another to have the chance to be something in their lives. An example would be a parent who wants his child to go to school (school being the risk of living) whereas the child doesn't (that being suicide). By not going to school he eliminates (in theory,not in practice) the risk of being rejected by a university for example,by he also denies himself the possibility.

Addressing paragraph 3 with regards to the fault found in Con's argument, Con responds by referring Pro to paragraph 1, the Steve scenario, the Steve in this instance would be clouded by emotions, therefore incapable of having true intent to go to hell,instead his intentions are to end the pain, at that moment, he cannot be said to have the capacity to have true intention, because he is influenced by the circumstances he finds himself in

Con would also life to raise another argument, according to most,if not all constitutions,each person has a right to life, its debatable whether such right encompasses the right to choose to die, furthermore common reason tells us that killing is wrong,essentially suicide is killing one's self, by stopping a person who wishes to commit suicide,you are stopping a morally wrong act as such you are acting in the public's interest, you are aiding in preserving a society where one's life is held to be of high value, therefore you are acting selflessly
Debate Round No. 2
thp078

Pro

The value of a human life is purely subjective, as is the pain of emotional trauma. In this hypothetical situation of Steve's suicidal intents, Steve clearly believes that his life is no longer worth living while Jane and Matthew oppose this belief. Because both parties intend to decide whether life or death, two polar opposites, is appropriate for Steve, they are equally selfish in attempting to carry out their own agendas and desires. While Jane and Matthew no doubt have good intentions, they still are perfect examples of placing their desires above those of Steve; in this case, their desire for him to live being placed about Steve's desire to die.

Whether or not X chooses to end his life over the loss of his wife is entirely up to him. The same can be said for Steve in the grandchildren scenario. Steve does not owe anything to his grandchildren. He did not choose to have them; they were the product of Steve's children deciding to have children, a choice Steve had nothing to do with. If others attempt to persuade Steve into not committing suicide so that he may continue to live in order to care for his grandchildren, then this would mean that these people view Steve as simply a means to an end. The end in this case being the consolation for Steve's grandchildren.

Whether or not Steve is thinking rationally is entirely irrelevant to this debate. The subject is the selfishness of suicide and the selfishness of those who oppose it, not whether or not it is a rational decision.

In the case of X and Y, I would like to point out that analogies about life, and frankly probably everything, can be misleading. Con gives such an analogy as comparing life to a game and that suicide is a way of quitting the game. However, because these analogies can made so freely, I will craft my own in order to prove my point in addition to debunking Con's analogy. If I were to say that life is like a race to the finish line (the finish line being death), then X and Y will be having a fundamental disagreement about what course of action X should take. X wishes to cross the finish line as quickly as possible, Y wants X to cross the finish line as slowly as possible. Because these two desires are polar opposites, it is shown quite plainly that both X and Y are equally selfish in their desires to determine how quickly X should cross the finish line. In Con's analogy, both X and Y are still both equally selfish. X wishes to stop playing "the game" while Y wishes for X to continue to play "the game." Because these desires are also polar opposites, their selfishness present in said desires are in equilibrium.

In response to Con's argument about the "right to life," I would like to point out that the morality that Con speaks of is entirely subjective. Perhaps one person thinks that not killing is a morally good act, but another thinks that not killing is a morally bad act. One of these parties will be committing a breach of their moral code if they do not act upon it. Because of the subjective nature of morality, the idea of saving a person's life as being selfless is rendered invalid.

One final thing I would like to discuss is the idea of selflessness. It is not logically possibly to intentionally commit a selfless act. The only time a selfless act can be performed is by accident. Take for example, donating money to charity. While the act itself, is presumably beneficial to whatever cause the charity is for, it is also selfishly motivated. Had the charity been for a cause that the person did not support, he or she would not have donated the money to it. Because the charity the person donated the money to did support his or her ideals, the act is a selfish one, regardless of whether or not it benefits others besides the person in question. Even if, for whatever reason, the person had decided to donate money to a charity he did not support, the act is still selfish as he is acting upon his desire to carry out the act.

As a matter of respect for any debater, I would like to thank Con for joining me in what became an enjoyable debating experience.
Emmo

Con

As this is the last round, i must say i enjoyed reading your arguments, they were very logical and did not pander to emotions, that being said i will address the flaws you pointed out in my argument. Pro claims that the value of life is purely subjective "as is the pain of emotional trauma". Con once again argues that constitutions around the world value the right to life as something sacred, some going even as far as stipulating that the right to life cannot be limited. The law or more appropriately the constitution (especially human rights) are a reflection on societies moral beliefs, law stems from customs which have been practiced by the society for several years. Human life is also regarded as sacred in ancient cultures which stemmed mainstream religions such as hinduism, islam,and christianity. This is a general indicator that the majority of people value human life, ofcourse in this instance you could argue that the majority's views are irrelevant to Steve's decisions. Con however argues that by stopping Steve from committing suicide, Matthew and Jane act in the best interests of society, it is not their desires they pursue, it is that of the general ,morality of the majority, by defending a stance which seeks to maintain the position that human life is extremely valuable.

Con also seeks to counter Pro's assertion that rationality is irrelevant, infact rationality ties up to Con's current counter argument. Matthew and Jane understand the irrationality of Steve's actions, on top of defending society in general, Matthew and Jane, selflessly seek to stop Steve from committing a somewhat irrational act, they understand that after a while, after thinking things through Steve would be able to see things from a more objective and rational manner and act as such.

Steve infact does owe a lot to his grandchildren, Steve gave life to his children and his grandchildren are essentially descendants of Steve without him, they would not exist, the mere fact that he gave birth to their parents makes them linked in blood and genetically. Furthermore humans instinctively act in a manner that aides people in their groups. Think of Steve's family as a clan, Steve has a duty to ensure the continued existence of this clan, by defending it from potential dangers that may arise, by stopping Steve from committing suicide you're not merely seeing him as a means to an end,you're seeing him as an integral and necessary part of a clan, they need him and instinctively he owes a duty to protect them. The person who stops the suicide here acts in the best interests of however many grandchildren Steve has, that again is not a selfish act. The person who stops the suicide may not have any family ties with Steve, but still tries to help Steve's family

It is selfless for a man to step out of his safety zone and try and help someone he barely knows by stopping him from committing suicide. This person has a choice to stay away, and keep his nose out of a potentially drama filled scenario, but he still chooses to help. Con argues that is the definition of selflessness

With regards to your second counter argument, regarding the race. Con argues that suicide in this instance would more appropriately be boycotting the race. There is a 100 metre line set, some get there faster, some slower, committing suicide is choosing to not run the race of life. By not running the race X robs himself of finding out how it would have turned out. It is also important to note that X's existence or non existence may not have any relevance to Y's life yet he still chooses to make an effort to connect to Mr X. Much like the Steve analogy he sees things from a more objective perspective. Furthermore Con argues that if these desires are polar opposites, does it not then naturally follow that the selfishness present in these desires are also polar opposites?

With regards to the right to life counter argument, Con refers to paragraph 1 regarding the constitutions,cultures and religions, the facts speak for themselves, what is purely subjective is the idea of selfishness itself. What one regards as selfish is not regarded as selfish by another. Much like Pro argues donating money can both be regarded as selfish and selfless at the same time. Since by implication of Pro's assertion it is clear that Pro agrees that the term selfish itself is somewhat subjective as there is no certainty on what is and what isn't selfish. Is it not therefore Pro's submission that the act of stopping Steve from killing himself has are some elements of selflessness, whether or not the intention was selfless or selfish is debatable, we cannot look into the minds of people, all we can do is judge from their actions and the result of their actions

Once again that was truly enjoyable and thank you for a good argument
Debate Round No. 3
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by bladerunner060 4 years ago
bladerunner060
Conduct to Pro because Pro stated as a rule R1 was for acceptance, and Con sprang into his argument. I was on the fence about it, though, because Con stated it was his first debate, so I may make that point neutral later, depending...I question whether I only gave it because I gave Con Arguments, and therefore he's currently winning. I was also tempted to give sources to Con, because of Pro's rule that no sources be used, but I neutralled that.

As to the arguments: Pro failed to establish that wanting to stop someone from committing suicide was inherently selfish at all. As Con pointed out, the ones trying to stop the suicide may well be doing it from altruistic motives; just because they are pushing their own ideas of the right course of action does not make it inherently selfish.
Posted by Ragnar 4 years ago
Ragnar
Basically there's a danger of trolls. Someone could have taken the argument, and joined you in arguing about how selfish those against suicide are; with the intent to prove it as not 'equal.'
Posted by thp078 4 years ago
thp078
I was actually responding to Ragnar, but the thought it appreciated.
Posted by Emmo 4 years ago
Emmo
from a religious point of view...do not kill...kill= sin. Sin = hell
suicide is by its very definition killing yourself= contravening a commandment= committing a sin
sin=hell
you're trying to save that person from going to hell, because you are religious and believe that to be reality (regardless of whether or not it truly is)
you're intentions are good, your motive for not wanting someone to commit suicide are not selfish
Posted by thp078 4 years ago
thp078
I'm afraid I don't understand your second suggestion.
Posted by Emmo 4 years ago
Emmo
Well first of all your assertion is a little vague, you don't go into much detail explaining what you mean. (i'm new to this site, so this just might be the way its done). Anyway without getting sidetracked. Isn't not wanting someone to commit suicide, the opposite of what you would normally regard as selfish. In the sense that yo have the genuine care of another's life to such an extent that you do not want to see them take away something as sacred and as valuable as a life let alone their own. You understand that we are given one life and as such you want to see that person value the sanctity of human life. All things constant, we can assume with reasonable certainty that you believe that by not committing suicide the person is essentially giving his life or existence a second chance. and based on experience after dark days comes the sun. In life there are ups and downs, you (the hypothetical person who wants to stop the suicide) being as wise, knowledgeable and experienced as you are, understand that the problems he/she is going through might at that point appear to be huge and unbearable, but emotions tend to heighten such feelings, you understand seeing things objectively, that generally speaking there are solutions far less drastic than suicide in most if not all circumstances. Lets also take a religious perspective. maybe you believe that killing is a sin, therefore he who kills himself goes to hell, by preventing a person from committing suicide you are essentially (according to your genuine beliefs) saving them from an eternity of damnation in hell. therefore regardless of whether or not your beliefs are true or false, you have a genuine sincerity motivating your actions and are not acting selfish
Posted by Ragnar 4 years ago
Ragnar
"5. No sources allowed. These should be YOUR thoughts in YOUR words.
6. The cases of suicide to be referenced here..."

The rules may contradict. If 5 is true, than this debate can only be from personal experiences on the matter. I also suggest refining the resolution to equal or greater, otherwise you might damn yourself by arguing a little too well.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by bladerunner060 4 years ago
bladerunner060
thp078EmmoTied
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Total points awarded:13 
Reasons for voting decision: Reason For Decision (RFD) in comments.