The Instigator
izbo10
Con (against)
Losing
7 Points
The Contender
JustCallMeTarzan
Pro (for)
Winning
68 Points

objective morality does not exist!

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/15/2011 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 7,503 times Debate No: 18361
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (83)
Votes (13)

 

izbo10

Con

In this debate the burden of proof shall be on mattrodstrom to show objective morality does not exist. He must prove beyond any doubt whatsoever it absolutely does not exist. He will start and can not debate in the last round.
JustCallMeTarzan

Pro

Since I asked Izbo to correct his error in posting Round 1, and he declined to do so, stating (and I quote) "the rules stand as stated," I am not bound by any of what he has typed in Round 1, since I am not mattrodstrom. He had ample opportunity to correct this error, and has simply chosen not to do so. We will conduct this debate as though it were a normal debate.

Therefore, as instigator, Izbo has the burden of providing a model of objective morality. But since he has chosen to post nothing in Round 1 other than some piddling details concerning a nonparty to the debate, he has simply given me an extra half-round.

And as a last note, unrelated to any of the "rules" in the first round, the resolution as it stands is simply undebatable. Unless my opponent can show a reliable mechanism by which we both become aware of objective rules and are certain of their objectivity, an argument on either side is simply an appeal to ignorance if we are looking for "proof." But there is no problem if we read the resolution in its closest debatable form, "There is reason to believe objective morality does not exist." And since Con voiced no objections when he made the rule, we will continue as though this were the effective resolution.

*********************************************************************************

My opponent contends that objective morality exists. Without a model to go on, I will assume for the sake of argument that he isn't going to attempt to defend obviously non-meritorious positions like absolutism and thus will assume he is talking about objective moral pluralism, wherein an action may have one of several objective moral imports based on the factual antecedant circumstances.

For example, on this view, killing someone may be objectively wrong, while killing an aggressor to protect an innocent may be morally right. This is in direct contrast to a rules-based approach which simply blanketly proscribes killing.

But before we reach whatever specifics my opponent may introduce, there are some initial problems to overcome concerning an objective moral position. I'll bold the name by which I'll call the objection and briefly explain it below.

1) Objection of infinite rules

An objective moral system that is consequentialist, but lacks an entity that engages in moral reasoning (i.e. God, the Ideal Observer, etc...) must necessarily come with a set of infinite rules that describe every situation that possibly has import. Humans have a finitie memory capacity, and thus could not possibly be aware of all of these moral rules. Thus, the view is pragmatically useless, and since morality requires that it have pragmatic use, we can safely regard this view as nonexistant.

2) Objection from transient existence

Without agents capable of actions of moral import, moral rules cannot exist (indeed, what would they describe?). Humans did not always exist. Therefore, at some point in time, objective morality must have begun to exist. Humans could not have created objective morality. Therefore, either some other being must have created morality, or objective morality does not exist. There is no evidence for this other being, and therefore, we have no reason to assert that objective morality exists.

3) Objection from teleology

The entire function of engaging in moral reasoning and debate is so we might come to a conclusion concerning a proposition of moral import - this is a goal, and therefore, moral reasoning is a teleological activity. If objective morality exists, new moral propositions cannot be discovered, and thus moral reasoning has no goal. However, humans clearly engage in moral reasoning. Therefore, either humans are incorrect that they enage in moral reasoning, or objective moral principles do not exist.

4) Objection from prescriptive conceptualization

People conceptualize moral rules as prescriptive (i.e. A ought to P in T). Objective morality is necessarily declarative (i.e. A P'ed in T, and it was wrong to do so). Even allowing for prospective declaration (i.e. If A were to P in T, it would be wrong to do so), the declaration that this is the case does not establish a prescription for an actor unless the actor has access to the declarative statement. Because people cannot gain access to a complete declarative about a moral proposition, people can never recieve a prescription concerning that proposition. Therefore, even if objective morality exists, people cannot use it, and therefore, have reason to behave as though it does not exist.

5) Hume's Objection (the is-ought gap)

Moral propositions impose an obligation on persons to comport with them. A system of objecive morality can only offer decscriptive statements concerning moral propositions (i.e. "is"-statements). The mere description of an action does not impose an "ought" upon any actors. Therefore, either objecive morality does not exist, or people are not bound by any objective moral principles, and the system is useless (and could hardly be called one of morality).

6) Objection from unidentifiable principles

An objective moral system must still have a criteria for determining what is good. However, the system would be unable to answer the question of whether that criteria is in and of itself good. Take for example, societal benefit. If "the good" = "societal benefit," then how does one determine if societal benefit is in fact good? Thus, either objective morality does not exist, or "objective" morality contains arbitrary value judgments, in which case it is not truly objective.

7) Objection from Evolution (Joyce's Theory)

Simpler explanations for moral reasoning, judgments, and behaviors exist in evolutionary theory (i.e. kin selection, mutualism, reciprocity, and group selection). These theories explain morality in much simpler terms that account for social relativity in fringe moral issues, and do not require the extra suppositions that objective systems do. Therefore, it is more reasonable to believe an evolutionary theory of morality.

8) Objection of the unanswerable hypothetical

An objective moral system can only describe the moral import of a proposition. A proposition can only be described if it has predicates. Hypothetical situations have no real predicates, and therefore an objective moral description of a hypothetical situation could be correct, but not actually exist. Nonexistent moral descriptions cannot deliver an imperative. However, people use hypothetical situations to engage in moral reasoning. Therefore, either these people are not morally reasoning, or they are reasoning by some other means, and it is more reasonable to believe objective morality does not exist.

9) Objection (only to Con) from the missing vehicle

Any objective moral system must contain a description of some mechanism by which people become aware of moral rules. Con has not put forth such a mechanism.

10) Objection (only to Con) from lack of an entity

An objective moral system must claim to describe the moral import of the actions of all beings of a certain kind (i.e. humans). Such an entity cannot be a member of the described class of actors, else the view would not be objective (i.e. which individual that entity is would be arbitrary, and all views would be that entity's subjective view). Therefore, an entity exists who is not human, but knows the moral import of all possible actions of all humans. This entity further does not engage in moral reasoning, but simply reports the results of moral propositions. There is no evidence for this being, and therefore, it is more reasonable to assume this entity does not exist, and therefore, that there is no objective morality.

*****************************************************************************

These objections may not be terribly convincing in the abstract, but assuming Con decides to actually put forth a model that can be refuted, I will attempt to apply them to his model.

Until such time, the resolution is clearly,

AFFIRMED
Debate Round No. 1
izbo10

Con

I would like to start out by saying my opponent totally went against the rules of the debate in the first round. He should automatically lose this debate. The reason is this: In this debate the burden of proof shall be on mattrodstrom to show objective morality does not exist. The keyword here is mattrodstrom must prove, not just callmetarzan. So, why he thought he could make the contention is beyond me. I fail to see how he can think he should be making an argument. Seriously he lost and I know, I know he is going to claim it is unfair. How am I suppose to win a debate like this. Guess what? That is the stance he is taking that I have no moral obligation to make the debate in a way that is fair to him.

Now, lets look at why, the problem is not that there is not an objective way to debate, but the moral issue of why should I be obligated to follow them under his view. He can only give his opinion. He can not say that this opinion that an unfair debate should be presented is any less valid.

Another problem he has is that he is presupposing that we have any moral obligation to believe in truth. Why should we believe him even if it is right. If I want to go around believing lies, their is nothing he can claim that would make this morally wrong. I mean seriously the nerve of this guy, he comes in here arguing subjective morality, but then has the audacity to presuppose we are morally obligated to believe truth.

He puts forth these arguments, assuming we are suppose to believe in logic, wow what a problem. He better clarify why this is before we can move forward. He better not just assume that we are morally obligated to believe logic is the way to find the answer and just guessing is not morally the right thing to do in an opinion. I ask my opponent is he debating for or against objective morality? All I see is he is inferring objective ways that people are obligated to think to make his argument which defeats his whole argument.
JustCallMeTarzan

Pro

My opponent's entire second round posting is a non-sequitur. Izbo begins by reiterating the fact that he attempted to place the burden of proof and other debate restrictions on a non-party to the debate. If the readers look in the comments, it is very clear that he was aware of this before I accepted the debate. For the fun of it, and because it exposes the depth of my opponent's intellectual dishonesty and debate cowardice, I'll respond to some of his statements:

>> "why he thought he could make the contention is beyond me"

What contention? I simply responded to the rules Izbo himself created.

>> "That is the stance he is taking that I have no moral obligation to make the debate in a way that is fair to him."

That's all well and good, but it is no fault of mine that Izbo utterly failed in his attempt to make the debate one of unfair terms. I'm here to debate the issue. I'm not sure what Con is doing.

>> "the problem is not that there is not an objective way to debate"

Who said there was?

>> "He can not say that this opinion that an unfair debate should be presented is any less valid."

I attempted to alert Izbo that the terms of the debate were unfair to HIM, not to me. I'm quite confused why we are talking about the fairness of the debate. The fairness of the debate terms have nothing to do with the resolution.

>> "he is presupposing that we have any moral obligation to believe in truth"

Where is this possibly evidenced in my argument? Pragmatic application rarely has anything to do with truth (take, for example, religion). Nowhere have I said or even hinted that we have a moral obligation to believe in truth... All of this notwithstanding, belief in truth is irrelevant, because if it is truth, then by definition, it will still be true, regardless of belief. Interestingly enough, the word "truth" never appears in my Round 1 post, so I'm not sure where Izbo gets the above idea.

>> "he comes in here arguing subjective morality"

Actually, at no point have I advocated subjective morality either. All I've done is show objections to objective morality. Furthermore, it is not my burden to show that on balance, subjectivism is more reasonable than objectivism - I could, for example, espouse non-cognitivism or antimoralism instead. I should note also that the word "subjective" only appears in 1 place in Round 1 - where I note that objective moral systems have a problem with arbitrary, subjective valuation of "the good."

>> "He puts forth these arguments, assuming we are suppose to believe in logic"

Your belief in logic is completely irrelevant. An argument or position is logical regardless of whether you believe in logic or not. The objective nature of logic can clearly be contrasted with the nature of morality because notions like logic and truth are definitionally objective (i.e. if it turns out we were wrong about truth or logic, we made a mistake, whereas moral propositions are subject to disagreement... unless you simply presume objectivity, which begs the question here).

>> "He better not just assume that we are morally obligated to believe logic is the way to find the answer and just guessing is not morally the right thing to do in an opinion."

I've clearly shown that there is no connection between morality and things like truth and logic. My opponent is simply attempting (poorly) to strawman my position. He begins by falsely asserting that I am drawing a connection between moral obligations and nonmoral principles like truth and logic. Furthermore, the notion of "belief" in logic or truth is absurd. Individuals may have a belief about the truth or the logic of a proposition (i.e. believe X is true, or that argument XYZ is logical), but this does not the same as a belief in truth. How could such a belief be formed? I believe truth is ______ ? I believe logic is ________? Truthful? Logical? That's about as useful as tanning lotion in Seattle.

>> "I ask my opponent is he debating for or against objective morality? All I see is he is inferring objective ways that people are obligated to think to make his argument which defeats his whole argument."

Again, a poor attempt at strawmanning my position. I have not presented any objective positions - in fact, the very nature of the argument against objectivism is that people have a choice of which of the alternative positions to believe in. The fact that my opponent characterizes any of my argument as an inference of objectivity is clear evidence that at best, he has no idea what objectivity actually is, and at worst, heinous intellectual dishonesty.

*********************************************************************************

Well my opponent seems to have wasted his second round in a row. Let's see if he can come up with anything at all to debate about in the third round. I predict it will follow as such:

1) Whine about the rules my opponent himself improvidently made.
2) Strawman my position.
3) Assert I'm actually on his side despite considerable (read: 10) evidence to the contrary.
4) Claim victory.
5) Whine some more about his loss in the comments section.

For those of you that subscribe to the TL;DR method of reading debates:

Objective morality requires a valuation of "the good", an entity to engage in moral reasoning, and a vehicle by which humans become aware of moral rules. I have raised these objections, and Con has no responded to them.

It almost leaves the reader to wonder why Con would instigate a debate, but refuse to address any of the actual issues, or post an argument of his own.

Stop wasting my time.

AFFIRMED.



Debate Round No. 2
izbo10

Con

Wow again, Justcallmetarzan does not understand the rules do not grant him a space to argue. He fails to see that it was not him to present the argument. It was suppose to be mattrodstrom, doing the debating for Justcallmetarzans side. The very fact that you see justcallmetarzan presenting an argument is against the very rules as it was not suppose to be him debating at all. So, for conduct I would urge you to vote him down.

Second problem he has is he is calling my argument non-sequitur. Again by what objective standard am I obligated not to do this, but it really is very important to note that he is arguing that their is nothing at all wrong with what I am doing in any moral manner. So, it is showing why his argument fails. It is very relevant.

Now, as a final part I will show you my syllogism which makes morals objective:

But, before the syllogism I need to demonstrate that what we have decided to label morals actual does go back to human well being. Lets take a look at moral "institutions" Judaism has convinced people that the Jewish law is a moral code. The way they have done so, is by convincing people that a "fact on the ground" is that Yahweh will punish them(not beneficial for them) if they do something against the law and reward(beneficial to society) them if they do something against the law. Christianity extended these concepts to the afterlife, and other religions include reincarnation to get there moral principles followed. What these religions have done is changed these "facts on the ground" to change what appears to benefit our well being. The same could even be said of hitler, while the germans were looking for an excuse for the problems after WW!, it was not hard to convince them that the "fact on the ground" was that the Jews were harming their well being as a society. So, now that we see morality has a direct link to human well being, onto the syllogisms:

Here are the syllogisms:

P1:If something increases happiness and life span it is beneficial to human well being.
P2:Not murdering people increases human happiness and life span.
C1 Not murdering people is beneficial to human well being.

P3:Something is morally good if it benefits human well being.
c1=P3:not murdering people benefits human well being
C2:not murdering people is morally good.

The objective standard is human well being and we can measure that.

Now, a couple things as I know justcallmetarzan will break the rules again and try to present an argument something he was not suppose to do.

Neuroscience is now studying objective happiness. I will post a link to the google search results so you can take a look at the research.

Now, onto what I have heard justcallmetarzan will argue. Well what if an actor accidently poisons someone or something while trying to feed them. Well, the overall result is immoral, but the immoral part is by the person who poisoned the food. The person was intending to help someone or something, so their action was beneficial to society as people trying to benefit society is helpful to society by definition.

Now, another argument he may try to make would be well prove that life is something we should desire. Well, for anyone that doesn't find life important, I would implore you to go to a store, buy a gun ,stick it in your mouth and shoot yourself. What? You don't want to do that? Well, then guess what you know exactly why life is important.
JustCallMeTarzan

Pro

Responses:

>> "Justcallmetarzan does not understand the rules do not grant him a space to argue. He fails to see that it was not him to present the argument. It was suppose to be mattrodstrom, doing the debating for Justcallmetarzans side. The very fact that you see justcallmetarzan presenting an argument is against the very rules as it was not suppose to be him debating at all."

This is obviously not the case, as the debate was not an open format - Izbo directly challenged me to the debate, so I have de facto permission to argue in all rounds. Why he chose to try to limit mattrodstrom from arguing in my debate space is beyon me.

And as for the conduct vote, if for some reason I don't have permission to argue, then Izbo issued a nondebatable challenge, the only result of which could be the artificial inflation of his (abysmal) win record - in essence, cheating. I encourage readers to consider their conduct vote carefully here.

>> "Second problem he has is he is calling my argument non-sequitur."

I see that Con is not contending that his argument was also a strawman. But more importantly, how can the idea that there is a moral obligation to accord with truth and logic have any bearing on this debate?? If this relationship even exists (which it does not; I am only entertaining the issue for Izbo's diseased mind...) then we have two options: First, if I am correct, readers can choose for themselves whether to use truth and logic to evaluate this debate; or second, if I am wrong, readers would still have no obligation to use truth and logic in their evaluation, because if, as Izbo claims, there is no such objective obligation, then readers wouldn't be required to listen to his poor arguments. If there is such objective obligation, then Izbo himself would be breaking it by arguing otherwise.

>> "But, before the syllogism I need to demonstrate that what we have decided to label morals actual does go back to human well being. Lets take a look at moral "institutions" Judaism..."

Con seems to be suggesting that people could only be convind of morality's practical application once there was a priestly caste or other religious framework in place. This notion is meritless on two accounts - first, religion is not the source of moraity, as Izbo himself admits (i.e. societal benefit). Second, morality has been around far longer than religion, and even the higher apes exhibit rudimentary understanding of morality.

>> "Here are the syllogisms:"

Finally, Con throws together a poor argument for objective morality. Bt, as I intimated before, his syllogism has a hidden premise - namely, that benefit to human well-being is morally good. I'm not contending that people would argue this point, but rather that it is inevaluable under a system of objective morality. Consider:

1) benefit to human well being is good
2) Therefore, benefit to human well being is benefit to human well being.

Well duh. Once the criteria of "good" has been established, there is no way to evaluate the goodness of the criteria.

Furthermore, Con's syllogism has a glaring flaw. I'll just move through it as he presents it:

>> "P1:If something increases happiness and life span it is beneficial to human well being."
>> "P2:Not murdering people increases human happiness and life span.

Murdering those who would cause me harm before they can do so increases my happiness and life span.

>> "C1 Not murdering people is beneficial to human well being."

But, curiously, murdering those who would cause me harm was beneficial to my well being, and I am a human.

>> "P3:Something is morally good if it benefits human well being."
>>" c1=P3:not murdering people benefits human well being"
>>" C2:not murdering people is morally good."

Therefore, my actions were morally good?? Obviously not. There must be something more to morality than Con's simple syllogism.

>> "Neuroscience is now studying objective happiness..."

But of course, the studies admit that subjective ideas of whether the actor is happy or not play a large role, because, as Kahneman puts it, the actor's beliefs about her happiness are themselves the cause of pain or pleasure. So it would be the case that subjective notions of happiness play a large role in this "objective" happiness standard.

>> "another argument he may try to make would be well prove that life is something we should desire. "

Con seems to think I would present a (poor) argument against existentil nihilism in his debate about objective morality. I'm not sure why... perhaps he is confsed between those two (unrelated) concepts.

******************************************************************************

Readers, Con has not responded to any of my initial objections except perhaps very, very, tangentially weakly to number 6 - the objection from unitentifiable principles.

I suppose since he has chosen not to argue the other 9 points that he has conceded them, and thus, clearly lost this debate.

All of my initial objections stand unaddressed. The resolution is clearly,

AFFIRMED.
Debate Round No. 3
83 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by JustCallMeTarzan 5 years ago
JustCallMeTarzan
>> " objective morality CANNOT exist without God"

This is false. Even if true, a simple though experiment proves God is not the source of morality.
Posted by Mark1068 5 years ago
Mark1068
I can't vote yet as I have only 1 debate under my belt. But, I think objective morality does exist, but is not absolute as it can only be objective on a case to case basis. Also, objective morality CANNOT exist without God. God necessarily would need to be omnipotent, omniscient and poses perfect wisdom. This would have been Con's first objective in order to be successful in this debate. Hence, the landslide in favor of Pro. Proving the existence of God would require specific, progressive reasoning beyond the scope of the debate parameters. However, it has been done, and eloquently, without contradicting reason. Aristotle would be the first person I would choose to reference, as well as St. Thomas Aquinas who, even more eloquently, tied together Aristotelian philosophy and theology harmoniously, without a single contradiction.
Posted by Man-is-good 5 years ago
Man-is-good
"Oh shut up, seriously!"
This.
Posted by Cerebral_Narcissist 5 years ago
Cerebral_Narcissist
Oh shut up, seriously!
Posted by izbo10 5 years ago
izbo10
I said understand my position and come back you fail try again.
Posted by JustCallMeTarzan 5 years ago
JustCallMeTarzan
>> "Again confusing an individual for the overall society. How many times do you have to do that. That argument is against health, yet medicine can be objectively studied."

You don't suppose that... society is possibly made up of individuals? You don't further suppose that... a society can have mutual subjective impressions about its own well-being? You are confusing objective EVALUATION with objective VALUATION. It doesn't matter if we can objectively EVALUATE health if that requires consideration of the subject's (be it individual or society) subjective VALUATIONS about their own state.

Furthermore, I'm not even convinced you understand the implications of your own position... that would explain quite a lot - most notably your failure to realize that you've described a constructivist position that you masquerade as objective because you can't conceive of how you may be wrong.
Posted by izbo10 5 years ago
izbo10
When you actually take the time to understand and attack my position please get back to me, until then please reread what I have wrote and try to grasp it before responding again because time and time again you attack positions i don't hold. Please only respond when you actually can attack my position.
Posted by izbo10 5 years ago
izbo10
Again confusing an individual for the overall society. How many times do you have to do that. That argument is against health, yet medicine can be objectively studied. You really have to be trying to become one of the biggest retards on this board with these retarded arguments.
Posted by JustCallMeTarzan 5 years ago
JustCallMeTarzan
The fact that any measurement of well-being must necessarily take into account how the individual feels about themselves - i.e. if you believe you are sick, but really aren't, you are not as well off as if you believed you were well.
Posted by izbo10 5 years ago
izbo10
What is the subjective criteria you speak of?
13 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by Mr.Infidel 5 years ago
Mr.Infidel
izbo10JustCallMeTarzanTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Does this need an explanation?
Vote Placed by drafterman 5 years ago
drafterman
izbo10JustCallMeTarzanTied
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Reasons for voting decision: I see what Con was trying to do - in that Con was trying to put Pro in a Catch 22: you can't argue against objective morality without relying on some objective system of truth. The problem is: morality and truth are not interchagenable and it was objective morality on trial, not the objectivity of truth or logic. Is-ought fallacy at its finest.
Vote Placed by Mestari 5 years ago
Mestari
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Reasons for voting decision: If an objective morality existed, the brutal lopsidedness of this debate may be immoral...
Vote Placed by Davididit 5 years ago
Davididit
izbo10JustCallMeTarzanTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Does this really need an explanation? Pro obliterated izbo. Providing clear, logical arguments, and refuting every objection, pro clearly had the more convincing arguments. Furthermore, Pro had better conduct and was respectful.
Vote Placed by sadolite 5 years ago
sadolite
izbo10JustCallMeTarzanTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pitty vote
Vote Placed by thett3 5 years ago
thett3
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro seems to have a basic understanding of the English language
Vote Placed by kohai 5 years ago
kohai
izbo10JustCallMeTarzanTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Nice try, bozo, but fail!
Vote Placed by BlackVoid 5 years ago
BlackVoid
izbo10JustCallMeTarzanTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con drops the entire pro case and spends too much time arguing about ridiculous rule interpretations.
Vote Placed by Man-is-good 5 years ago
Man-is-good
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Reasons for voting decision: JustCallMeTarzan posted a list of objections to objective morality that was abandoned due to his scuffle over terms of acceptance and Izbo10's strawmanning of Tarzan's position...Quite astonishingly, Tarzan dismantled Izbo10's entire case and destroyed his syllogism on human well being and his arguments....
Vote Placed by curious18 5 years ago
curious18
izbo10JustCallMeTarzanTied
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Reasons for voting decision: izbo10 showed totally bad conduct by saying that his opponent should lose because he isn't mattsrodtrom. And again, he doesn't make an argument until the last round.