The Instigator
lord_megatron
Con (against)
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The Contender
Ockham
Pro (for)
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morality is rational

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/31/2016 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 8 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 259 times Debate No: 92115
Debate Rounds (3)
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lord_megatron

Con

Of course it ain't. That's why Shockwave destroys all and is a decepticon.
morality - moral values
Ockham

Pro

The rationality of morality is one of the most important and central issues in philosophy. Everyone has a morality, a set of values they use to guide their choices. If morality is not based on reason, then all of these values are only expressions of emotion. If there is a rational morality, however, we can use its principles to help us choose our actions.

To begin justifying morality rationally, we have to analyze the definition of a morality: A set of values used to guide our choices. The key term here is "value." What does that mean, and does it have an objective basis?

A value is something that one acts to gain or keep. Every living thing has values, since every living thing has things that it acts to gain or keep. For example, a tree extending its roots into the soil values water, a cat pursuing a mouse values food, and a person working at a job values money.

The concept of value presupposes an alternative and action in the face of the alternative to achieve a goal. The alternative for the tree is to go thirsty or reach the water, and it acts in the face of that alternative to achieve the goal of having water, by extending its roots into the soil.

But the chain of alternatives cannot go on forever - there has to be a fundamental alternative that all other alternatives depend upon. This is the alternative of life or death. Staying alive is the fundamental value that makes sense of all of the others, from a tree extending its roots into the soil to a person working a job.

So, any rational morality has to be based on life, since the concept of value depends on life. Apart from life, it makes no sense to say that something is valuable.

But we have not arrived at morality yet, because we have only analyzed the concept of value, which applies to all living things. Morality only applies to human beings. Why is that?

Human beings survive by means of reason, and they can choose to engage in reasoning or not by their free will. This is the fundamental difference between human beings and the lower animals. Human beings' means of survival does not work automatically. The fact that human beings have to choose to engage their means of survival is what gives rise to the distinctly moral evaluations applicable to them.

If they want to survive, it is necessary for human beings to define principles that will promote their life. This set of principles is the rational morality my opponent claims cannot exist.

The central three virtues in a rational morality are rationality, productivity, and pride. Rationality means always using your mind and never evading. Productivity means engaging in productive work to support yourself. Pride means always doing your best to live morally.

These three virtues form an upward spiral. Rationality will lead a person to be productive, since it is rational to engage in productive work. Productivity leads to pride, since success in productive work creates pride. In turn, pride in one's accomplishments makes it easier to be rational.

There is a lot more to a rational morality, but I'm going to stop here, since I've given the essence of my case. You can read more about my morality at the following link.

http://aynrandlexicon.com...
Debate Round No. 1
lord_megatron

Con

"These three virtues form an upward spiral. Rationality will lead a person to be productive, since it is rational to engage in productive work. Productivity leads to pride, since success in productive work creates pride. In turn, pride in one's accomplishments makes it easier to be rational."
Just how does pride makes it easier to be rational? If you are proud, you will think yourself above others, which is not rational as most of us have equal talents.
Logically, or rationally, the human population needs to be reduced to make the world sustainable and living easier. Resource consumption, global warming, pollution and land shortage would be easily tackled. Yet what stops us from killing a billion or two? Morality. It isn't logical, but it is humane. Why is killing bad? It is productive for ourselves, in the old days number of kills was a reason for pride, and is rational as it is being done for the greater good. Yet morality and empathy demands that killing people is wrong. Therefore, morality is irrational.
Why is stealing bad? It can be a reason for pride if you take it in the right way, it is extremely productive for us and is rational as that money would be transferred to us through other means (such as the person buying stuff from a shopkeeper and the shopkeeper giving us the same note in change) anyways. Yet morality and emotions stop us.

"The fact that human beings have to choose to engage their means of survival is what gives rise to the distinctly moral evaluations applicable to them."
Yet, the morals of every person are different and are not for survival. Fights for honor have resulted in many deaths in the medieval times. Pride can be rational, but it doesn't lead to rational decisions.
Morals are usually not rational and are based due to what society tells us. Survival doesn't count as a moral value, as it is not exclusive to humans and isn't a learnt value.
Meaning of moral -concerned with the principles of right and wrong behaviour.
https://www.google.co.in...
Yet what determines what is right and wrong? Rational is basically logical, and logic is cause and effect. It is logical if we steal food(effect) to survive(cause), but it isn't moral. Cold logic doesn't tie up with morality.
Ockham

Pro

In my first post, I demonstrated that there is a rational morality and briefly outlined its key principles. Morality is not an incomprehensible duty to another dimension, and it is not a matter of mere subjective whim. Rather, morality is a real world, practical necessity, because it provides us with the principles necessary to live well.

This position is called ethical egoism, and it was defended in different forms by all of the major ancient Greek philosophers, Spinoza, and Ayn Rand. In spite of its antiquity, no philosopher has provided a cogent objection to it to date.

My opponent raised a number of questions about ethical egoism, which I will now answer.

1. How does pride make it easier to be rational?

Pride gives a person more self esteem and motivation, which make it easier to think clearly. For example, a student who has done well on previous tests in a given subject will usually find it easier to focus on studying than a student who expects to do badly on tests.

2. Isn't it rational to kill billions of people to reduce the human population?

No, that would be completely unnecessary and immoral. There is no evidence that killing billions of people would be beneficial in any way. Even if there were benefits to that sort of mass murder, we would be setting a precedent that would allow the government to kill any group of people it wanted to, even if they hadn't done anything wrong, if they could come up with some economic rationalization for it. If you think this wouldn't happen, study Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia.

3. Why is murder bad on egoism?

Lots of reasons. First, if you're a decent person at all, you wouldn't be able to live with yourself after murdering someone. Second, you would never be safe again, because the police would be constantly hunting you down. If you were caught, you would face either life in prison or the death penalty. Third, even if you weren't caught, you would have to conceal your murder from everyone you knew. If you told anyone who had a conscience, they would never respect you again, so any friendships or relationships you had from that point on would be based on deception.

4. Why is stealing bad on egoism?

The reasons are similar to the above: conscience, potential criminal prosecution, and the necessity to conceal your theft from society.

5. If morality is based on life, why do some people regard anti-life actions as moral?

Usually this happens because the vast majority of people absorb their moral beliefs from their culture, which may contain anti-life elements. For example, we live in a Christian culture which advocates certain forms of self sacrifice, so most people in our culture hold some variant of Christianity's ethics. In some cases, people who hold anti-life values do so because they are dishonest or irrational. It depends on the specific case.

6. How can survival be a moral value, since it isn't exclusive to humans and it isn't a learned value?

Humans are the only species that can formulate survival as an explicit goal and work out rational principles that will promote it. Other species survive, but they don't consciously grasp that survival is their goal. Survival is a learned value for humans, since countless people take anti-life actions.

7. How can morality be based on logic if logic is only concerned with factual cause-effect relationships?

Being moral has better long term consequences than being immoral. If you think stealing is a better long term policy than honesty and productive work, then I invite you to take a trip to any jail. Some people do get away with stealing in the short term, but a person can never really know that they are going to get away with it, and eventually they will be caught.

Let me know if you have any more questions.
Debate Round No. 2
lord_megatron

Con

"Isn't it rational to kill billions of people to reduce the human population?
No, that would be completely unnecessary and immoral."
There, we got that word. Immoral. It's our morals that stop us from thinking in cold logic. Killing billions would give us more land, lesser power, food, water consumption, and lesser pollution as there would be lesser cars and appliances. There are other benefits too. If you say the government would get power, we can easily declare it to be a one-time event only. Plus, it depends upon the government.
"How does pride make it easier to be rational?
Pride gives a person more self esteem and motivation, which make it easier to think clearly. For example, a student who has done well on previous tests in a given subject will usually find it easier to focus on studying than a student who expects to do badly on tests."
No, I disagree. Pride would make the student feel he has no need to study, while someone with a low self-esteem will know that he needs to study hard or he has no chance.
"Why is murder bad on egoism?"
A combination of murder and stealing will provide productivity for us, is rational through the principle what comes around goes around and can be a reason for pride if you are among crooks. The morality that stops us from doing that isn't rational. Yes, fearing the law enforcement is rational, but wouldn't it be a reason for pride if we bested them? As for friends, other people's opinion doesn't matter as it isn't rational or productive. Pride is an emotion more than a rational goal, so I think I will exclude that.
"6. How can survival be a moral value, since it isn't exclusive to humans and it isn't a learned value?"
Humans are the only species that can formulate survival as an explicit goal and work out rational principles that will promote it. Other species survive, but they don't consciously grasp that survival is their goal. Survival is a learned value for humans, since countless people take anti-life actions.
Basically, the anti-life goals taken for survival of the human race are moral values, am I correct? But then every animal works towards survival. Trying cutting down trees, a bird will move its nest to another forests. Try chasing a flock, one will die will the others flee. Survival is an instinct, not a learned moral value. The army works to protect us from being killed. Same is with animals who mark their territory. To guard their species, a lion (for ex.) patrol the borders for animals who trespass his territory.
7. How can morality be based on logic if logic is only concerned with factual cause-effect relationships?
Being moral has better long term consequences than being immoral. If you think stealing is a better long term policy than honesty and productive work, then I invite you to take a trip to any jail. Some people do get away with stealing in the short term, but a person can never really know that they are going to get away with it, and eventually they will be caught.

Not if they analyse all the cause and effect of their actions. Suppose I have to rob a bank. Firstly, we will make sure that stealing (cause) doesn't alert the police (effect) before we get away. Next, we would make sure our money (cause) doesn't lead the police to us (effect). Third, we must find means (cause) to overpower the security of the bank (effect). And of course masks. I don't see how could this go wrong. Plus, we have to make sure that we and our equipment are a match for the bank. Otherwise we must do a smaller scale robbery. There are still many unsolved cases in the history of the police records, and even more where some other innocent paid for the criminals' crimes. Why don't we want others to suffer, if it is productive for us, and therefore rational? Morality comes in.
Thank you for this debate. Vote for the best debater.
Ockham

Pro

In my first post, I demonstrated that morality is rational and based on our enlightened self interest, in contrast to the claims of intrinsicism and subjectivism. My opponent has never objected to my argument for the claim that morality is rational, which is sufficient reason to vote for me as the winner of this debate by itself.

In the second round, my opponent did not object to my argument for the claim that morality is rational. However, he did pose some questions about the implications of my morality. For example, if morality is based on self interest, why can't we murder and steal? I responded to those questions in my last post, even though they were strictly irrelevant to the debate.

In this, the third and final round, my opponent has raised some follow up concerns about my responses. I will answer these concerns below. Again, I do not have to do this, since my opponent has dropped my essential argument for my position, which I made in Round 1.

1. Couldn't we kill billions of people without setting a bad precedent if we stipulated that it's just this once?

No, because you're not setting any principled basis for saying that it's just this once. You couldn't avoid setting a precedent by killing billions of people for the shaky economic "reasons" you give. You would be rejecting the concept of human rights that our entire society is based upon. Again, study what happened in Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia.

2. Wouldn't pride make a successful student feel like he doesn't have to study, and an unsuccessful student feel like he has to study harder?

That is not what happens in practice. I don't see how you could argue this if you have any experience with good and bad students.

3. Wouldn't murdering and stealing be the best, most productive way to live?

No, that's ridiculous. People who murder and steal as a matter of policy do not live good lives, they live in fear and eventually they are caught and sent to prison.

4. Don't animals pursue survival the same way humans do?

No. As I said, animals can't explicitly identify survival as a goal and pursue it based on principles.

5. If you plan carefully enough, can't you be sure you will get away with robbing a bank?

No, you can never really be sure some security system won't catch you, or that some passerby won't see you running off with the money, or that you won't be caught in a million other ways. Even if you got away with it, you would live in fear from that point on.

Vote Pro.
Debate Round No. 3
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