The Instigator
hamletswords
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
MitchPaglia
Con (against)
Winning
14 Points

You do not have control over your on life

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/14/2008 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,450 times Debate No: 5402
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (8)
Votes (2)

 

hamletswords

Pro

It seems everyone on TV and anybody you'd meet in a business group workshop is telling you that you have control over you're own life. Both major political parties champion the concept. Pick up any self-help book or take a trip to your local AA meeting, and you'll hear it mentioned at least a few times.

The problem is that most scientists agree that behavior is dictated by basically a balance between genetics and conditioning (what you have experienced, done and learned). Some say genetics plays more of a role, others say conditioning. But the point is that neither genetics nor conditioning is fully under your control. You can negate the forces of genetics through medical means and you can overcome some of the forces of conditioning through willpower, but isn't even willpower itself a result of genetics and conditioning, as well as the access to medical means to diminish the negative influences of genetics (like being born to a wealthy household, which falls under conditioning).

Now, I understand why people say it. If people in trouble don't believe they can control their lives and make it better, they will not try and it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy. But the fact of the matter is there's only so much simply telling someone that they are in control of their lives compared with the powerful forces of genetics and conditioning.

If I saw someone running their lives into the ground, I too would say something along the lines of "You're in control of your own life. You've got to get yourself together." I would do it because it's the only thing I could reasonably do to help. But that doesn't make it true. The person I'm coaching may react strongly to what I say depending on how well I say it for a day or two, but before long the person will undoubtedly behave based not on what I told him one day and more about what thousands of things were said to him, the thousands of things he said and did and experienced and choices he made and where he was born and what his family and friends were like and his first love, not to mention his genetic makeup.

The worst case situation of the phrase being used is of course by the right-wing who often uses it to excuse the existence of poverty/suffering and relinquish responsibility to do anything about it, both in this country and the world in general.

That, of course, is evil, but really I'm more interested in the idea that "You have control over your life" is not true. Even a choice to "completely turn your life around, for real this time." doesn't just come out of nowhere. It's a result of genetics and conditioning.

My posting this debate is a result of conditioning and genetics. You choosing to debate me is a result of conditioning and genetics.

You do not have control over your life.
MitchPaglia

Con

The mistake that you are making with this debate, sir, is that you are assuming that genetics and environmental conditions pre-dispose our entire lives to the point that it is manipulative. Manipultive being that we think we have control over our lives but are really being tricked. It is very true that these factors have an influence on our lives but it is by no means true that they DICTATE our lives in the sense that they are in complete control.

My genetic makeup may make m passive, agrressive, motivated, paranoid, or posses a multitude of various or single mental disorders. The environmental factors that control our lives such as how we were raised, schooling, friends, media we watch, also effect the way that we think. Do not however, think that because we posses those characteristics that they indeed control us.

What does having control over one's life mean? My opponent, not having defined what "control" is, gives me permission to do it instead. It means that we are able to dictate within a reasonable fashion, (i.e. natural disasters and other random occurances out of our control excluded) everything that we do, that we say, and that we think. I would be able to control my life if I was able to respond to a given scenario or take up a particular hobby or action with a method of my own choosing. If i were not to have control over my own life, then I would lack that ability, I would not have the control over my own life to make my own decisions. My opponent claims that we don't have that control over our lives and that it is our genetic makeup and our environmental surroundings that tell is what to do. My opponent however is misled as to the extent of what these factors really contribute.

My genetic makeup which makes up my phenotype of hair color, eye color, skin color, size of nose, ears, etc... also makes up my genotype. My genotype being what you can't see, or my personality. I have already explained that my genetic makeup is what would make me motivated or slow to think. What i have explained however are not controlling factors but INFLUENTIAL factors. Not only are these factors influential, but they are what help us to control our lives if fostered correctly. I am a happy and optimistic individual who enjoys living his life to the fullest. I also can sometimes be quick to anger and short temper.

Everyone wants to enjoy their lives to the fullest, I beleive that is a given fact that no one is really going to deny. With that, people will try and make the best decisions that they canto achieve what they perceive as the best possible way in achieving that goal.

Let's examine me being happy. Me being happy doesn't AUTOMATICALLY dictate that I will do things that will lead to happiness. My happiness and optimism are contributing factors. When something happens that may not be the most oppurtune, I at least am thankful for still being where I am and able to enjoy my life. For example, say I were to have a picnic with a bunch of my friends outside on this beautiful big apple tree. We were looking forward to this for months on end. However it starts to rain, a downpour even. There is no way that we can go and eat outside anymore. I can now do one of two things. I can mentally sulk about it and carry that through in my actions of not enjoying the picnic we have to have indoors, or worst off, not even go. I can also choose to still be happy that I am with all of my friends, and that we are getting to spend time together and enjoy a delicious lunch. That is simply one of many thought examples that one can think of that show that we do have control over our lives and how we choose to percieve them as well. There are other things like physical annomolies, maybe an amputation after an accident, being born with certain diseases or things of the sort. One may point out that those and even the thought example that I gave is the result of an environmental condition.

That is true as well, however that falls in line with what i was aying about genetic factors being influential. How I am treated will pre-dispose me to act and think a certain way, but by no means determine that action. If you take 10 different people and they have gone through the same exact trials and tribulations, and were forced with the same decision, they won't all do the same thing. Why is that? Because they can choose. One may be tending to lean to one side, but they still have choice. It just happens that what happens in our lives can either help us live towards that goal of happiness or restrict us.

There was as study done that I read about in my psychology class this past summer. They were studying optimism and pessimism. All the kids picked out through a set of choices, what their favorite dessert was, and then their second choice. They were then told that they were going to get their second choice instead of the first choice. Most of the kids then, who were optimistic, found things in the other dessert that they loved and were building up the one they had to eat. The pessimists, when faced with their second choice, would not receive it with much enthusiasm, and would in fact put down the other dessert trying not to make it seem as good. Another test was done with the same conditions and different people with college students where optimists were more excited about college choices as pessimists weren't, and optimists were also very happy to get into their second choice while pessimists were not. Pessimists even went as far as to say that any college that accepted them, must not be that good because they settled for a bad student.

What does all this prove? If you noticed, in all of those cases, only a majority of students felt that way. Not all of them. If it were true that our genetic and environmental factors forced us to make decisions, than there wouldn't have been as much or any discrepencies at all.

Ladies and Gentleman, you all beleive you have control in your lives, and that is because you really do. My opponent says that I had no choice but to accept this debate because of my encironmental conditions. I tell him that I could have easily not given his debate a second thought. I was influenced however by who i am to take up such endeavors but by no means was I not conciously unaware of what I was doing or my choice to wait for something else to strike my fancy

Thank you very much for your time,

-Mitchell Paglia
Debate Round No. 1
hamletswords

Pro

hamletswords forfeited this round.
MitchPaglia

Con

I really have nothing more to say outside of te argument that I have already made in the first round.

I will simply accept the victory in the Second from my opponents forfeit
Debate Round No. 2
hamletswords

Pro

hamletswords forfeited this round.
MitchPaglia

Con

I again, don't know why my opponent has not been posting his arguments, I hope everything is alright. Either way, without any argument from him, I have nothing further to say. I will simply accept his forfeiting of this round as well
Debate Round No. 3
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by hamletswords 8 years ago
hamletswords
Heh, sorry, I'm new to debate.org. Things in real life occurred which distracted me from this argument. I was playing devil's advocate for the record and thought it would be fun to try to argue a point I do not agree with personally. I will try again later. Thanks to everyone that participated here. :)
Posted by wjmelements 8 years ago
wjmelements
Good topic, bad debate.

PRO forfeited; I defaulted CON.
Posted by Kleptin 8 years ago
Kleptin
I myself am a determinist and I don't think CON is really getting at what PRO is trying to argue.

It isn't his fault though, PRO began by talking about a "hopelessness" type incapacity to do what we will, when in reality, he meant that all of our seemingly conscious decisions are determined by a near infinite number of factors over which we HAVE no control. Thus, in reality, while we exhibit the day-to-day notion that we have free will and exercise it, it is nothing but an extremely complicated and very believable illusion.

However, there is nothing that can come out of debates on determinism, because the illusion of free will is a necessity for sanity. Even determinists don't full grasp the concept they fight for, they can't, it isn't possible.
Posted by hamletswords 8 years ago
hamletswords
There's a saying that goes, "Hate the sin, not the sinner." Although generally used by an archaic religion, it is a nice way to say what I'm trying to say.

Don't hate someone that commits an evil, or a crime, or whatever you want to define something bad as, hate what they committed. Certainly take whatever means necessary to punish the person, because society needs a certain amount of order to function. After that's done, examine the conditions that the person underwent to see if there is something that can be done to fix them so it doesn't happen again. After all, we want to decrease this bad stuff right?

An obvious example is inner-city violence. Imprison the people committing the crimes, of course, but that's not enough. Examine the conditions. Oh, they're all poor and they have horrible educations. To decrease the number the crimes in the future, which everyone wants, something ought to be done about those conditions, in my opinion.
Posted by hamletswords 8 years ago
hamletswords
[quote]"
That, of course, is evil,"

This contradicts the rest of your deterministic argument. Morality is impossible unless you have free will.

Though of course, even if you have free will, the resolution is ambigous, because there are still taxes :D[/quote]

I see your point, and good and evil is another whole ball of wax, but in this context I define good as "Something that helps yourself or others live better lives" and evil as "something that deters yourself or others from living better lives."

Politicians are in a unique position because they, as agents of the federal government, are duty-bound to work in the best interests of everyone living in the country.

Telling people to "pick themselves up by their bootstraps" is irrelevant if government does not provide the bootstraps with which they may pick themselves up.

Now, it is true that the politicians themselves, according to my argument, cannot be blamed if it is in fact true that their actions are based off of conditioning and genetics, but that doesn't mean the act of using the slogan "You are in control of your own life" to disguise the fact that millions have no opportunities for betterment is evil.

To make a more obvious example, if someone murders someone else, he should be at least imprisoned, because destroying a human life is about as bad as you can get if we define evil as "something that deters yourself or others from living better lives" because it destroys the life completely. The act is evil, and someone capable of committing the act has no place in society.

But yeah, the murderer committed the murder based on conditioning and genetics. Certainly the conditioning he underwent should be examined, not to excuse the behavior or absolve him of the crime, but to try to make sure the same conditions don't happen again if at all possible.
Posted by PoeJoe 8 years ago
PoeJoe
Determinists piss me off.
Posted by Ragnar_Rahl 8 years ago
Ragnar_Rahl
"
That, of course, is evil,"

This contradicts the rest of your deterministic argument. Morality is impossible unless you have free will.

Though of course, even if you have free will, the resolution is ambigous, because there are still taxes :D
Posted by Rezzealaux 8 years ago
Rezzealaux
OH MY GOD.
IT ALL MAKES SENSE TO ME NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I FINALLY UNDERSTAND
why people are religious.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by wjmelements 8 years ago
wjmelements
hamletswordsMitchPagliaTied
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Vote Placed by MitchPaglia 8 years ago
MitchPaglia
hamletswordsMitchPagliaTied
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Total points awarded:07