The Instigator
anonynomous
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
DoctorDeku
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

morality is not absolute

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/23/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,042 times Debate No: 29483
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (5)
Votes (0)

 

anonynomous

Pro

I will be arguing that there is not absolute standard for morality and that morality is based on societal values. This means that no action no matter how morally unacceptable it may seem is immoral under every circumstance.
few ground rules:
1)no invoking god seriously
2)you can define a few words but don't run a semantics argument we can work out anything you want defined in the comments
3)you can use sources but there not really that important since this is a philosophical debate so don't use a appeal to authority(don't do it)

round 1: acceptance and any clarifications you want
round 2-4 cases and rebuttals
DoctorDeku

Con

I accept!

The only clarification I mean to impose is that my opponent and I will agree that morality actually exists in the scope of this debate.
Debate Round No. 1
anonynomous

Pro

First off I am willing to agree with my opponent's request for this debate we can assume that morality exists in some form.
Furthermore as pro I will be focusing mostly on refuting my opponents arguments because as noted if he is able to show even 1 example of absolute morality he wins.
Also as a brief outline I will be approaching this resolution from several different ethical perspectives in order to provide the most effective case
Lastly I would like to point out as stated in the resolution we are talking about specific actions such as slavery, murder , rape ect. not broad philoshpies such as Utilitarianism as I will point out in my case.

contention 1) Utilitarianism
Utilitarianism is a very simple concept whatever action provides the greatest benefit to society as a whole should be pursued regardless of the actions required to achieve those benefits. For example if murding infants was required in order to prevent the depletion of resources, mass famine and overpopulation then we could consider it ethicaly pemisable to kill infants. This means that regardless of how morally right or wrong an action may seem in a certain context there will always be another scenario in which the action will have the opposite moral value. Thus since no action will always be morally beneficial or detrimental to society in every context morality cannot be absolute.

contention 2) pragmatic ethics
Pragmatic ethics focuses on the idea the society are constantly evolving or progressing. It holds that since society's are in a constant evolutionary state one cannot judge the actions of one society based on current societal values. It is actually quite similar to biological evolution in a sense, just like we are incapable of judging the actions of a chimp because we only understand human interaction we are incapable of judging the actions of say 18th century America as they had a different societal outlook or a different moral compass. Therefore since morals are capable of constantly evolving they cannot be absolute.

contention 3) self preservation
Self preservation is rather straightforward, any action taken in order to preserve one's own being is justifiable regardless of how it may be looked upon under a different context. For example if one is required to cannibalize another human being in order to prevent starvation that action is morally permissible since it preserves one's own being. Therefore since any action that may be looked down upon is acceptable in order to preserve one's selfmorality cannot be absolute.
DoctorDeku

Con

I will first present the Con stance, and then proceed to attack my opponent's arguments.

---
Observation 1: Burden of Proof-
As the instigator and framer of this debate, my opponent is the one responsible for proving the true. As such I as the contender will assume the power of presumption -- that is unless my opponent can show that morality is not absolute we must assume that it is.

Observation 2: Morality Exists-
My opponent has accepted my clarification that morality does in fact exist. As such he must show that interpreting morality by a standard that does not have an absolute constant is legitimawilte.

Observation 3: Unreasonable Limitations-
My opponent posits that in this debate we are dealing with morality related to isolated incidents not broader theories of morality. You must reject this as it unjustly limits my ground and was not established prior to my acceptance. As the Con my only burden is to disprove my opponent, however I do this is up to my discretion so long as I follow the three rules outlined in my opponent's first round.

These things in mind, I now move onto my own arguments.

Contention 1: Interpretation is irrelevant-
a. When one writes a piece of literature, they have a message they mean to share with their readers. Whether the author is direct in their writing or not is unimportant, the fact remains that there is a purpose in the writing.

b. When another reads the work of the aforementioned author, their interpretation will not change the original purpose of the literature. The author will still have a definite purpose in having written their work regardless of how another interprets it.

c. Interpreting morality is the same as interpreting literature, if we are to agree that morality exists then there must be some ultimate standard for what morality is. Accordingly alternative interpretations for morality do not change the fact that there is already another true standard for what is moral or immoral.

Contention 2: Morality is not consequential-
a. It is moral not to steal. If there is an object which belongs to another person, I have no right in taking that object away from that person; for me to violate that standard would be an immoral action.

b. Necessity doesn't indicate morality. If I am a poor man and will die if I do not eat, it does not make stealing the bread of another moral. It may very well be a justified action, especially if the person I'm stealing from has wronged me has plenty of bread to eat themselves -- however justification does not equate morality.

c. The moral standard of stealing does not change based on the necessity of the action. Even if we were to consider something permissible or necessary that does not make it a moral action. If something is wrong in one instance than it is wrong in another.

Contention 3: Morality exists-
a. If I had a blunt object inside a cardboard box, one which I had never seen before, that blunt object would still exist despite my ability or inability to see it.

b. If by shaking the box I could find clues as to what was inside the box, I could very well develop a better understanding of what was inside the box. I may not know for certain what was inside the box, but I could develop a pretty good idea.

c. My interpretation of what is inside the box may very well be different from the interpretation of another. One of use mat be right and the other wrong, or both of us could be wrong; our interpretation of what is in the box does not change the object inside the box.

d. Morality functions the same way; just because we are not able to clearly see and know what morality is, does not mean that morality changes based on our interpretations. Furthermore human interpretations of morality is not the end all definition for morality. If that were the case then morality would not exist, as it would just be a justification for the actions of man.

---
Contention 1: Utilitarianism-
My opponent makes a critical error in their argument, just because something is pragmatically permissible does not mean is moral. If murder is considered immoral under an classical framework, then is is still wrong under the consequentialist framework my opponent provides -- and just because the murder of these infants would save others doesn't mean that it would be moral. It may be justified just as capital punishment may be justified, but justification of an action does not make the action moral.

Contention 2: pragmatic ethics-
If anything this argument strengthens my own arguments, because societies evolve their outlook on morality continuously changes. But just like the blunt object in the box, morality doesn't change just because our viewpoint of it changes.
I would like to take a moment to remind the readers that my opponent has agreed to the premise that morality does indeed exist; therefore he cannot interpret it as means of justification, but must show it as a consistent across all examples. Even if he only shows morality as a consistent in one culture, he must show that the standard of morality is an actual standard and not simply a means to make agents feel better about their actions.

Contention 3: self preservation-
My opponent makes a fatal error here in assuming that justified and moral are synonymous. They are not.

First, cannibalism isn't a justified means of survival; if one must take the life of another human being in order to sustain their own then their action is not a moral action. My opponent will have to show a better example before this is even a legitimate argument.

Aside from that my opponent continues to make the same mistake their misinterpretation of morality. Necessity does not equate morality. If we would agree that stealing is wrong, it doesn't suddenly become right just because it is now a necessity to survival; it is still immoral, just justified.

Conclusion-
My opponent has failed to uphold their burden of proof.
The resolution is negated, please Vote Con!
Debate Round No. 2
anonynomous

Pro

I would like to start off by thanking doctorDeku for his quick and interesting response with that in mind lets begin:

my opponents observations:
1) I'm willing to accept the BOP

2) As previously mentioned I accept

3) The problem with allowing my opponent to use broad theories is the abusive potential for example if we accept this to be true he could simple state the any action which leads to "good" is moral. By restricting this debate to individual or collective actions he is forced to actually demonstrate that there are actions that are universally moral or immoral. However if my opponent agrees to avoid such abusive tactics he can feel free to included broader philosophical theories.

With this in mind I will begin addressing my opponents contentions before moving on to reinforce my own:

contention 1)Interpretation is irelevant:
Observations A and B are not very relevant so I will simply be addressing C.

c. Interpreting morality is the same as interpreting literature, if we are to agree that morality exists then there must be some ultimate standard for what morality is. Accordingly alternative interpretations for morality do not change the fact that there is already another true standard for what is moral or immoral.

My opponent begins with a clear Argument from ignorance where he simply assumes that ultimate standard flows from existence without any justification. Furthermore simply because morality serves a purpose does not imply the that purpose is objective. If in fact there where some objective standard for morality it should have been almost universally accepted by the majority of society's throughout the ages but the fact that there are so many alternative theories attempting to determine what morality is implies subjectivity. To conclude existence does not imply an objective purpose and this is supported by the lack of unanimous consensus on morality.

Contention 2: Morality is not consequential-
a. It is moral not to steal. If there is an object which belongs to another person, I have no right in taking that object away from that person; for me to violate that standard would be an immoral action.

b. Necessity doesn't indicate morality. If I am a poor man and will die if I do not eat, it does not make stealing the bread of another moral. It may very well be a justified action, especially if the person I'm stealing from has wronged me has plenty of bread to eat themselves -- however justification does not equate morality.

c. The moral standard of stealing does not change based on the necessity of the action. Even if we were to consider something permissible or necessary that does not make it a moral action. If something is wrong in one instance than it is wrong in another.

Morality tells us the "shoulds" of life. For example if I was deciding whether or not I wanted to cheat on my wife with Megan fox morality would tell me I shouldn't(Though I probably would anyway). Therefore if killing infants led to an overall positive to society that action is not only justified but morally required since society "should" do it in order to achieve the most good as per the utilitarian perspective. Therefore since "should" depends entirely on the context of a scenario we must assume that morality is indeed consequential.

Contention 3: Morality exists-
a. If I had a blunt object inside a cardboard box, one which I had never seen before, that blunt object would still exist despite my ability or inability to see it.

b. If by shaking the box I could find clues as to what was inside the box, I could very well develop a better understanding of what was inside the box. I may not know for certain what was inside the box, but I could develop a pretty good idea.

c. My interpretation of what is inside the box may very well be different from the interpretation of another. One of use mat be right and the other wrong, or both of us could be wrong; our interpretation of what is in the box does not change the object inside the box.

My opponent again attempts to claim that existence implies universal shape. However to borrow his box analogy lets say the object in the box is liquid. This means that it could be constantly shifting form and never retaining a consistent shape. This "shape" is entirely dependent on the holder of the box, If he holds it upside down it will take a different form then if he holds it upright. Similarly morality depends on how individual society's view it which is why there are so many competing theories as to what is moral.

Now I will revisit my own contentions in order to reinforce them.

contention 1: utilitarianism
My opponent states that justification does not equate to morality. However when I addressed his consequential contention I demonstrated that when an act results in a overall public good then any action required to achieve set good is morally required not only justified.

Contention 2: pragmatic ethics

My opponent states that different assumption about what morality does not mean it is not absolute. However as I demonstrated with his box analogy morality is a shapeless object it simply conforms to societal views which we are able to determine from the multitude of moral theories in existence.

contention 3: self preservation

refer to argument from utilitarianism

conclusion:

vote pro
DoctorDeku

Con

I'm sorry but there's no way I'm going to be able to post this round.

Sorry, but I have to forfeit.
Debate Round No. 3
anonynomous

Pro

I hope my opponent can respond in the next round but for now extend all arguements
DoctorDeku

Con

DoctorDeku forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by lit.wakefield 4 years ago
lit.wakefield
That's what I meant. I'm eager to see how the con will argue for absolute morality without invoking god.
Posted by anonynomous 4 years ago
anonynomous
I disagree i feel like on can make a reasonable arguement without invoking god. Furthermore if you are allowed to invoke god then there is no way i can win.
Posted by lit.wakefield 4 years ago
lit.wakefield
Without anyone invoking god, you are pretty much guaranteed to win.
Posted by anonynomous 4 years ago
anonynomous
your burden as con is not to show that all morals are "objective" you simply need to show one example is "objective" under every possible circumstance.
Posted by philochristos 4 years ago
philochristos
I think you should frame the debate in terms of objective morals rather than absolute morals because "absolute" is an ambiguous term. It could mean, "Morals for which there are no exceptions," but most moral objectivists allow for exceptions. For example, they think it's objectively wrong to lie in most cases, but they make an exception for when you're harboring Jews during the holocaust and the Nazi's ask if you're harboring any Jews.
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