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The Contender
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moral truth is not arbitrary

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/5/2014 Category: Religion
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 429 times Debate No: 60022
Debate Rounds (3)
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people often argue between absolute and relative truth. well, relative is relative. it is better to say truth is not arbitrary. while most people may want to resort to believing in relative truth.... most people would also intuitively recoil at saying truth is arbitrary, and accept that it's not.

what about examples, like the fact that the Greeks viewed sex with boys as A okay? and we see it as reprehensible? this just shows that it is not always clear to humans what is truth. that doesn't mean there isn't a truth that says sex with boys is wrong.

in fact, it is probably clear to us much of natural law even if people have went against it in masses. men are not designed to have sex with boys. that is not the design of the body, or the system.

and relative is relative. killing in self defense is not wrong. this is exception relativiesm. but what about killing a serial killer who is known to be such but a self defense death is not imminent? this gets into more ' non exception relativeistic' territory, but it doesn't mean there isn't a right answer. the truth, whatever it is, is not arbitrary.
or what about proportionalism? if a train is speeding down a track and the only way to save the people tied to it, is to pull a level and kill one person, it is etiher true or not true that it is okay to pull the lever. i don't know what the right answer is, but thee is a right answer one way or the other. (christian marytrs seem to suggest that it's not okay to be proportionalist. or, the fact that pilate had jesus killed only cause he was following proportionailsm..... so i'm not sure the answer, but i'm sure an answer exists)

to inject a bit of christian ideals, though not to hinge the debate on it. not believing in truth leads people to lies. untruths. in all the major episodes of humanity "eat of it, surely you shall not die" the snake said to eve. "what is truth?" Pilot said to Jesus. people have accepted a lie, an untruth, and we all suffered for it.


I would counter that moral truth is relative from two different angles.

First) Over time and across cultures, there are aspects of morality that change, progress, or are different. If an authoritative and consistent moral code did exist across all variable, then it would be easy to find what it is and say "this" is not arbitrary. None of the examples you give demonstrate your point.

Second) Take a stupid example of a snake, and assume for a second that snakes can act morally and immorally. If a poisonous snake bites a child and kill him, does the snake behave immorally? Well, it depends on perspective. From the perspective of the child's mother, the snake's action was immoral and resulted in the child's death. But what about from the perspective of the snake? It was acting perfectly morally and was simply hungry and looking for something to eat.
Debate Round No. 1


con argues about giving relative points.... but i was arguing about arbitrary. does he plain out assert that truth is arbitrary?

con argues mroality changes over time. even if it did that doesn't mean truth is arbitrary. it means some truths we perceive to be might be arbitrary. or, it means some people had it wrong. from where we sit, having sex with like boys like the greeks did was wrong.

the snake point is probably better said to be an example of 'relative' truth. truth relative to you and the snake. it's not arbitrary that we'd be against being bitten and the snake would be for it.


Relative truth (or morality) and arbitrary truth (or morality) are closely related.

The easiest rebuttal that morality is not arbitrary is that even if God exists and is the source of morality, it is God who arbitrarily chooses what is moral. If God simply says something is moral because it is essentially moral, then God is inferior to that thing that is moral. God"s will, the standard of moral goodness, will itself be morally arbitrary.
Debate Round No. 2


con seems to be going on a hard to decipher rant.

con says God is inferior to his moral rules. i think a reason con gives is because his rules are arbitrary.

God's rules are not arbitrary, he is the arbiter of truth, anything else would be arbitrary.

and this debate isn't so much about God. it is about truth. does it exist? if so, it isn't arbitrary. is it relative? that's a loaded word, maybe yes, maybe no. but we know enough to say truth exists, and it isn't arbitrary.


Well you yourself said that God "is the arbiter of truth" and so his rules are by definition arbitrary (by God).

Here is the dictionary definition:

subject to individual will or judgment without restriction; contingent solely upon one's discretion: an arbitrary decision.
decided by a judge or arbiter rather than by a law or statute.
having unlimited power; uncontrolled or unrestricted by law; despotic; tyrannical: an arbitrary government.

So your argument is false that moral truth is not arbitary if the arbiter is God.


Now if you mean it is not arbitrary in the sense that man does not arbitrarily determine moral truth because someone else (i.e. God) is the arbiter, then you have to show with evidence that a god exists who is the arbiter of truth and man simply follows the moral law of God. This is difficult to do and you also have not done this here. You presented no evidence to show that a God who is the arbiter of truth actually exists.
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by evangambit 2 years ago
I'm a little confused by what you call "moral truth". Can you clearly express the resolution you wish to defend in a sentence or two (e..g "There is an ethical system that is more correct than any other")?
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by bladerunner060 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Neither side produced a particularly coherent case. But Pro had BoP, and, given that neither side produced much by way of strong coherency in regards to the motion, I'm giving the win to Con. As always, happy to clarify this RFD.