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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/1/2015 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 407 times Debate No: 76073
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (3)
Votes (0)




Round 1 [Pro]: Set up Debate
Round 1 [Con]: Acceptance and Choose Topic (Definitions if Needed)
Round 2 [Pro]: Choose Position and Opening Argument (Definitions if Needed)
Round 2 [Con]: Opening Arguments
Round 3: Rebuttal and Arguments
Round 4: Rebuttals
Round 5: Closing Statement

Character limit: 10,000
Time to Argue: 72 Hours
Voting Period: 10 Days

You choose the topic. With the topic, you should include the resolution. It may be anything you wish as long as it is a debate. If it is something like a "rap battle" or "draw contest" please ask me first in the comments if it is okay. No trolling. If you are unsure your topic will fall under this category, please ask me first in the comments. I get to choose my position.

Note: Since I am pro without actually knowing what the topic is, you should disregard this unless I am actually pro. For the sake of the voters, please label yourself as pro or con at the very top of every submission.

Purpose of this debate: I will likely learn about a new topic. My opponent will have to view that topic from both sides. This won't end up being an unfair debate such as arguing about a truism (i.e. Earth is not flat).


The world functions perfectly with everything functioning entirely in accordance with its function.
Debate Round No. 1


My position: Pro

I choose pro for this debate.

I will be honest, I'm not entirely sure where you are going with this debate. Everything in the universe adheres to the actual laws of physics. We attempt to find what these forces are, and in current physics, we know of four. They are gravity, electromagnatism, weak force, and the strong force. When something occurs that we dont understand in nature, we must improve our knowledge of the universe by changing the laws of physics (as we understand them) so that they conform to what we observe. As we improve our understanding of the laws of physics, it becomes closer and closer to the actual laws of physics, what the universe always follows. Anything that occurs in nature will eventually be explained through physics, given enough time. It is impossible to prove that something in the world doesn't 'function' perfectly, because whatever it does is it's function. Thank you and good luck.


My view on the topic is as follows. Talk about functionality is incorrect. Furthermore, it makes for bad science, bad human resource management and bad data. It sneaks in induction where it has no place.
Originally the claim of Dr Pangloss in Voltaire's Candide it is used as a straw man against those who raise the problem of evil. It is only our ignorance that causes us to think that the world contains evil. If we truly understood the mind of God, then we would see that everything was working just as it should; that this is indeed the best of possible worlds.

So much for the Atheist Theist background of the case. As I said, I dislike the argument because it is purely analytic yet seems to have predictive consequences. If I could only discover the true functionality of this thingamajig I would know how it will behave in all situations and for all time.

I suggest that the error of functional ascriptions to the mechanism is erroneous both in two ways.

1) It is liable to be reified so that functional explanations speak not so much of what things do but of what they ought to do.
2) It is based on a construction of a function that we cannot have. One which is too precise. Or 1 that is too broad.

I shall consider myself successful if I show that functionalism within science or metaphysics is either empty and false or empty and meaningless.

A function is a mapping between states of affairs objects and such like with changes actions and such like. In functional calculi, large functions may be composed of a series of a smaller function. Further more functions are multi-realisable different sets of functions may mediate between a set of input states or data and a set of output states or data.

so for example for the functions f( x,y) ->x+y/y) is equivalent f(x) -> x +1 for all numbers greater than zero.
The internal functions do not matter what important is that the function add one to the value of x (y is irrelevant because it does not change).
In mathematics, we throw worldly constraints out of the window. When we talk of addition and subtraction, we mean that a functional object must never deviate in the mapping from the output input pairs described by addition.

If we look closely it should be clear that the addition function can never be completed, it requires an infinite/transfinite number of iterations depending on whether you are adding reals or integer. The set of functions, operating over integers, reals, complex and hyper-complex numbers, is greater than the set of integers. When describing human counting, we tend to take a different view accepting aberration after aberration without revoking the idea that someone is a competent adder.

It is impossible to name every possible function even if we allow these functions to have names of infinite length.
Nevertheless disagreeing in output for a given input is sufficient for a claim that a functional object does not perform a given function. When we attribute a function to a thing we make the claim that this and this alone is the function that describes its behaviour, with respect to its input and output domains.
So when I say that my computer can do addition I take it to mean that it will give the correct answer to any sum if give it.

My computer does not work like this however,It performs a function more akin to for some constant to compadd(x,y)
if (x+y >COMPMAX)->Error;
->x +y).
either that or it will simply output COMPMAX. Computers networked or not, only have finite storage. Furthermore, problems with the display, heat, a short-circuit and a thousand other things may result in an error. We still say computers add when they perform some form of modular addition. To know the true function of a material thing in dealing with a thing relies on knowledge of it behaviour over time; its complete history. With computer too we allow for aberrations, as we do for Humans.

Performing functions is then an odd idea we are not clear on when to say that a person, computer, volcano is following a function. We might say that x is following a different function. X produces pretty random responses when the inputs get to around 2334596 each or He was not concentrating. Or we may say it is an aberration and that, for some reason a wrong output has occurred but that the person is still following the function.

A second way to assign functionality to a thing is to say what it is used for. Beware within there be Dead parrot sketches and Wiley Coyotes.
'My washing machine does not work, I'd like a new one'. 'You mean you'd like a washing machine, your machine isn't one',
'I mean I want a replacement' 'for what?, here is a bucket here is a stick'.
If you take the view that something gains its functionality from the use we make of it. You must take on board the fact that the fact a thing is used for something does not make it fit for purpose.

Ultimately we have a situation where for a given input to and output from a given object that a) The object lacks a functionality F b)The object retains the functionality F. c) c the object really has a functionality F*.
In such a situation, we can say that any behaviour of a functional object can be interpreted as falling within a function description. In which case we have no means for saying that a functional object falls under any functional description at all.

In short it is impossible to know the true mathematical function of a thing without having powers we do not have. It is not possible to say that a thing functions perfectly by fitting its purpose more or less this will depend on how you assign it a purpose.
To attempt a combined approach where we treat functionality as neither analytic nor utility based seems doomed to confounding the problems of the two. Combing the two leads to an ill defined middle where the inexac
Debate Round No. 2


My position: Pro
[Reminder to opponent: Don't forget to include your position.]


Now that I am aware of the approach my opponent is taking, I can make a better argument. Let's define terms to begin. These were found using google.

World- the earth, together with all of its countries, peoples, and natural features.
Function- an activity or purpose natural to or intended for a person or thing.

What is the function of the world? We use science to understand phenomena that occurs in the universe, including the world. Quantum physics explains how subatomic particles behave which explains how atoms behave which explains how molecules behave which explain how macromolecules behave which explains how cells behave and so on. Everything that happens in both large scale and small scale due to quantum physics (as far as we know). Quantum physics serves as the rules for everything in the universe, including our world. The world's function would be to follow said rules. So far, it does. Again, there are some unexplained phenomena in physics but they will and always have been explained eventually.


My opponent has two separate arguments.

Argument 1: Math is an entirely man-made abstract idea that has no *physical* presence in the world. It is not part of the world, although math may describe the world in some ways. Although I do believe math also functions perfectly according to its function, it doesn't really matter for this debate.

Argument 2: "It is impossible to name every possible function even if we allow these functions to have names of infinite length.Nevertheless disagreeing in output for a given input is sufficient for a claim that a functional object does not perform a given function. When we attribute a function to a thing we make the claim that this and this alone is the function that describes its behaviour, with respect to its input and output domains. So when I say that my computer can do addition I take it to mean that it will give the correct answer to any sum if give it."

To sum up this argument, he is saying that a physical object's function can never be perfectly described, and therefore it will never follow its function perfectly. This is a non sequitur. The preceding argument didn't match the conclusion.

Thank you and good luck.



A rebuttal works when it shows that the opposing position with regard to the proposition fails
I am not sure that he takes me to be stating a general point or a point about mathematics. It is usual to show that an apparent phenomena can be represented mathematically as means of having a loo at it, it is why physics makes such ample use of maths.
I am arguing in terms of a more general point,; that functional ascriptions are under determined by evidence.

So for any historical list of behaviours in response to sets of conditions. I am arguing that there remain a host of alternate functional ascriptions equally warranted by the historical evidence.

Aeroplanes trucks space rocket malfunction, for any plane that has not been grounded there is no evidence of a serious fault that might cause the aeroplane to fail, it is constrained not to fail. Any theory that a given plane will not crash based on the laws of physics and physical evidence of behaviour planes may be said to warrant the idea that it will not malfunction. But the term malfunction just means that it will not function in accordance with its prescribed function. It will instead do something else that is it will function differently. Again we have a case of under determination by evidence, physical evidence is not enough to exclude all aberrant behaviours.

Intentionally x functions if it does what it is intended to do. So we can write a use/ case spec for an entity and claim x has a functionality F because F captures what it is we intend x to do. But how are we to express our intentions but via some use case. In the case of a person we may say that she intends perform a task spec or function if she intends to order her behaviour in terms of it that function. Whether her knowledge of the behaviour required be in a manual or internalised though training we need an account of what intention she has.

My contention is that for any Intensions (I do not mean intentions) we ascribe to someone on the basis of the evidence available the evidence available equally justifies the ascription of variant and incompatible intentions.

More genuinely any scheme of ascribing a rule-based interpretation of function such that a function may be ascribed to the world as a whole.( or to the Universe as pro prefers) will ascribe functionality to subsets of that Universe which are under determined by the evidence available.

As a parting point. The world's function is to do exactly what it does if we accept the Panglossian argument. It is to follow a set of rules that are established by long and arduous study of the phenomena of the world in the pursuit of a theory of everything. Which put in more simplest terms is the world's function is to do what it does and become whatever it becomes. And the function of everything in the Universe is to play its part in what it does.

Panglossianism was formulated at the time of the Heyday of Newtonian physics since Newtonian physics was false as a scientific theory the Panglossian was historically wrong. It is not the function of the world to function by Newtonian physics despite it being the case that the canon of scientific evidence at the time fully supported the attribution of that function. Furthermore, there seems something inherently wrong in defining function solely in terms of observed phenomena.
I would suggest that Quantum physics is as likely to be falsified in its present form and supplanted by another model. We cannot exclude the possibility that an incommensurate theory equally warranted by the observation of phenomena will not supplant it. In which case attributions of function in terms of quantum physics will also fall by the wayside. The Panglossian argument failing again.

The Panglossian argument was used by Voltaire as a joke, an illustration of apparently sensible words being put together which on the one hand is irrefutable but strikes us as having some weight. Saying that the world functions in doing what it already does and then tagging on perfection as a property of a physical thing is a recipe for fallacy. An irrefutable proposition can have no material consequences. In the sense in which the Panglossian argument is used for arguing that we have no duty to change the world, it is wrong because it is flummery; empty argument standing in the garb of the meaningful.
Debate Round No. 3



"A rebuttal works when it shows that the opposing position with regard to the proposition fails
I am not sure that he takes me to be stating a general point or a point about mathematics. It is usual to show that an apparent phenomena can be represented mathematically as means of having a loo at it, it is why physics makes such ample use of maths.
I am arguing in terms of a more general point,; that functional ascriptions are under determined by evidence."

With my argument, I am showing that it is impossible to have any scenario where all matter and energy in the world don't follow their function. It can be summed up as follows:

P1: The function of all matter and energy in the universe are the laws of physics that govern it.
P2: Laws of physics are determined by how the matter and energy behave.
C1: All matter and energy has done its function perfectly since it can't not.
C2: Regardless of whether the laws of physics do change, matter and energy have always served there specific purpose at that time and place.
C3: The world functions perfectly with everything functioning entirely in accordance with its function.

P1 Justification: This was determined by the definition of function.
P2 Justification: This can be justified using the definition of science. Science is defined as "knowledge about or study of the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation" by the Merriam Webster Dictionary. Link: This means the Laws of physics are learned behavior that we figure out through our experimentation and observation of matter and energy.
C1 Justification: Since the function of matter and energy are a byproduct by how matter and energy behave, there is no conclusive way in which you can say "At least some matter or energy has not done its function perfectly." From an outside perspective, yes this is circular reasoning. However, it is justified by the definitions given by the Merriam Webster Dictionary.
C2 Justification: Since C1 is justified, we can extend the conclusion to any given point or place in time, and it will still hold true.
C3 Justification: Self explanatory.

Thus I still hold my position that the resolution is true, simply because it can't be false.

Perhaps an analogy of this situation could be given. Say we have a box that contains a certain number written a piece of paper that may or may not be rational and can't be seen by any method and may possibly change. The box contains a display on the outside saying the number inside is between 0-10. As time goes on, the range on the display exponentially decays in a graph like this:

Where X is time and Y is range. As time goes on, the absolute boundaries of the number are more defined. The display's function is to show the range at which the number could be between. Since we have no way of knowing the number actually present in the box, we define the number to be in the range displayed on the box. Therefore, to say that the number is outside of the range would be fallacious, given the definitions of the number and the range.

How is this similar? The range displayed on the outside of the box is what we perceive to be the function of the matter and energy in the universe. The number inside the box is the ultimate function of the matter and energy in the universe, which we have no way of currently knowing flawlessly. As time goes on, our understanding increases, thus the absolute range of the "number" decreases.

Good luck to my opponent.


Wittgenstein notes that within science there is one thing of which it can be neither said that it is a metre long or not a metre long. The standard metre made in Platinum and kept in Paris. This is because whatever size it is in relationship to other schemes of measurement its length is what it means to be a metre. If for the sake of argument on the Imperial scale it suddenly expands to 6 feet, then the ratio between the two scales would change but not the fact that a metre is the the length of that stick or rule. The one thing that stick cannot help but be is one metre whatever size it is it is one metre. A least while the temperature of the room is kept at 0"c. It is the rule the standard by which all lengths are judged until about a couple of years ago.

Pro's treatement of the universe is similar. The function of the universe is to do whatever it does. So the universe cannot malfunction. But if nothing counts as malfunctioning nothing can count of is functioning. To function at all.
Debate Round No. 4


Closing Statement

I have shown countless times that resolution is in fact undeniably correct. The definitions of the words "function" and "science" give that the function of matter and energy is to follow the actual laws of physics which are closely related to the 4 fundamental laws of physics which we do know. Whenever something happens that we can't explain, we can only assume that it is still following physics, just not the physics that we currently know to be true. For this reason, the resolution remains true. Thank you for an entertaining debate.


Feyerabend forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by Proving_a_Negative 2 years ago
Alright thanks.
Posted by Feyerabend 2 years ago
It doesn't need to an infinite series it simply requires a single divergence for example

1....,.10133948406759694768675948 + 1 =2,...n,n+1 any divergence anywhere counts.
This is the mathematical exactness anything that varies in its input-output mappings from a function F is not performing that function but some other function.

2) Its my lawnmower is a view of function which does not concern itself so much with what a function
is but refers to a function or utility. This notion is of a physical rather than an abstract object, as a physical object an object might be assigned a function on the basis that it is good at it. For example I might have a calculator which I fund fits my bill, after years of use however it ceases to fit the bill it makes the odd mistake say particularly say when I hold it casing. I could them say it is still a reasonable calculator even though it deviates from addition in several cases. But if I claim that it is still a calculator I am saying that it performs a function that it does not compute since I can say that the function it is computing is not addition. But if I make out that something is trying to perform a function that it does not compute what sense does it make to refer to function at all.
Ascriptions or non-ascriptions of function become useless if we make out that something can both follow a rule and not accord with it.
Posted by Proving_a_Negative 2 years ago
Just to make sure I understand your argument, could you check my summary? I don't want to straw man it.

Resolution: The world doesn't function perfectly with everything functioning according to its function because...
Argument 1: An infinite string of decimals will never be fully computed
Argument 2: A thing can't be described by its purpose
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