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Violence is Wrong

wrichcirw
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2/2/2014 1:27:20 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
I took CON in this debate against sdavio who was PRO.

This thread is meant for discussion of the attached debate. The debate is a NO SCORING debate...feel free to read it and voice your opinion about it, just don't score it.

It's rather abstract (at least it was for me), so good luck with it, lol.

http://www.debate.org...
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
Dazz
Posts: 1,172
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2/3/2014 5:28:32 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/2/2014 1:27:20 PM, wrichcirw wrote:
I took CON in this debate against sdavio who was PRO.

This thread is meant for discussion of the attached debate. The debate is a NO SCORING debate...feel free to read it and voice your opinion about it, just don't score it.

It's rather abstract (at least it was for me), so good luck with it, lol.

http://www.debate.org...

Can Con for "violence is wrong" be a Pro for "violence is right"? I just wanna check out the difference in both, either altering the Pro with Con presents the same exchange of right and wrong poles or not. As the proposition itself is generic and rebuttal has done by specific scenario that doesn't dismiss the actual sense of statement "violence is wrong", one can support it with many arguments, con would have to rebut all those pro arguments, BoP is on Pro and that seems difficult for Con to rebut the general idea of "violence is wrong". Anyhow debate has been done now so that was really interesting because I took just a skeptical glance.
Remove the "I want", remainder is the "peace". ~Al-Ghazali~
"This time will also pass", a dose to cure both; the excitement & the grievance. ~Ayaz~
sdavio
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2/3/2014 5:57:26 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/3/2014 5:28:32 AM, Dazz wrote:
At 2/2/2014 1:27:20 PM, wrichcirw wrote:
I took CON in this debate against sdavio who was PRO.

This thread is meant for discussion of the attached debate. The debate is a NO SCORING debate...feel free to read it and voice your opinion about it, just don't score it.

It's rather abstract (at least it was for me), so good luck with it, lol.

http://www.debate.org...

Can Con for "violence is wrong" be a Pro for "violence is right"? I just wanna check out the difference in both, either altering the Pro with Con presents the same exchange of right and wrong poles or not. As the proposition itself is generic and rebuttal has done by specific scenario that doesn't dismiss the actual sense of statement "violence is wrong", one can support it with many arguments, con would have to rebut all those pro arguments, BoP is on Pro and that seems difficult for Con to rebut the general idea of "violence is wrong". Anyhow debate has been done now so that was really interesting because I took just a skeptical glance.

Wrich was arguing that violence is amoral, ie no relation to morality in itself; neither moral nor immoral.
be humble
wrichcirw
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2/3/2014 8:00:49 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/3/2014 5:28:32 AM, Dazz wrote:
At 2/2/2014 1:27:20 PM, wrichcirw wrote:
I took CON in this debate against sdavio who was PRO.

This thread is meant for discussion of the attached debate. The debate is a NO SCORING debate...feel free to read it and voice your opinion about it, just don't score it.

It's rather abstract (at least it was for me), so good luck with it, lol.

http://www.debate.org...

Can Con for "violence is wrong" be a Pro for "violence is right"?

Like sdavio said, my specific position was essentially "violence is neither right nor wrong".

CON for the resolution is "violence is NOT wrong" which is consistent with my stance.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
wrichcirw
Posts: 11,196
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2/3/2014 9:35:52 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/3/2014 5:57:26 AM, sdavio wrote:

Ok, I think I figured out the point of disagreement. I mean, to be clear, I think we agree on the vast majority of the points in this debate, especially in your opening. This one point below is a gigantic exception, and I essentially picked this one point up and ran all over the field with it:

All other variables being the same, in a choice between the more or less violent action, it is always preferable for the totality of people involved that the less violent choice takes place. It might be objected; "What if violence is a means to an overall more desirable end?" This does not affect the principle of the issue, because it is not a desirable means; it's in that case a 'necessary evil', and if the same end could be achieved without violence, or with less, we should always prefer the least violent option.


Is a necessary evil actually evil?

The way I argued CON for this resolution, I said resoundingly no...what we call "necessary evil" is actually good. It is something that we utilize to achieve the greater good.

Everything else I think we're pretty much in agreement, especially:

"...insofar as violence exists, it is not desirable for living beings."

---

From your round #3:

" If a person has both the ability and knowledge necessary to change something, and does not, they are responsible for it not changing as such...."

I agree they are responsible, even if they do not act. The key though is that the person does not act, therefore s/he does not commit violence. I simply did not buy your line that we are "always acting". In real life we are always acting, yes agree...but in the specific scenario, no. Just because Bob is breathing does not mean he is taking the air of the 6 people below...and even if you assume he is, that is not the moral choice with which you're presented in the scenario.

If you were presented with a moral choice to breathe or not breathe, then and only then would breathing be considered a relevant action for the moral quandary. This was how I framed the researchers' lab example. Without the choice to breathe or not breathe breathing, breathing is irrelevant to the moral framework of the specific example.

Does this make sense now? I don't think I used this reasoning in the debate, but after stating it, it makes sense to me. Perhaps had I focused more on the matter of exactly what was the choice stemming from the moral dilemma instead of #A/#B violence, it would have been a more pertinent rebuttal to your arguments. Now that I state this, I'm more convinced my position is sound.

The main disagreement is still whether or not you view "necessary evil" to actually be good.

---

Further analysis from PMs:

1) "that not pulling the lever was causation, which perhaps you proved wrong but I don't understand how, and..."

Originally I had a long response to this stemming from the logic in the debate. Instead I'll refer you to the round #3 response above. If you still don't see it let me know.

2) "...as for the breathing being pollution etc; that if we could reduce them we would, if it were not for a larger amount of violence being implicitly required to do so, and therefore that we are engaged in reducing violence overall, choosing the lesser of two 'violences', similar to my take on the trolley problem. In this sense, I'd say we can be held accountable."

Right, so the key aspect is that there must be an actual choice where one can reduce overall violence.

So, my question would be whether or not you found my dichotomy on violence to be valid? Did you think "natural violence" vs "human-to-human violence" was a viable distinction?

---

I think you're very focused on the point of "life is violence", which I admit is a very interesting point. I think what happened is that by constructing a specific scenario with only one valid choice, most of what constitutes "life is violence" is excluded and controlled for. That might be why it's difficult for you to see my arguments...you are still taking "everything" into consideration, whereas the scenario is not.

In the trolley dilemma, there is only the lever. There's no choices about eating vs not eating, reading a book vs stabbing someone, etc...so "life" isn't really what we're looking at in this example.

In the researchers' lab example, breathing was the main dilemma, and the crowbar the choice at hand to stop enough people from breathing so that the rest may survive. There was no lever, still no eating, etc...this is still not "life".

Does this make sense now?
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
sdavio
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2/3/2014 10:39:08 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/3/2014 9:35:52 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
At 2/3/2014 5:57:26 AM, sdavio wrote:

Ok, I think I figured out the point of disagreement. I mean, to be clear, I think we agree on the vast majority of the points in this debate, especially in your opening. This one point below is a gigantic exception, and I essentially picked this one point up and ran all over the field with it:

All other variables being the same, in a choice between the more or less violent action, it is always preferable for the totality of people involved that the less violent choice takes place. It might be objected; "What if violence is a means to an overall more desirable end?" This does not affect the principle of the issue, because it is not a desirable means; it's in that case a 'necessary evil', and if the same end could be achieved without violence, or with less, we should always prefer the least violent option.


Is a necessary evil actually evil?

The way I argued CON for this resolution, I said resoundingly no...what we call "necessary evil" is actually good. It is something that we utilize to achieve the greater good.

If we'd like to avoid the violence of suicide, we must accept the 'necessary evil' of polluting the air etc. You've agreed to this much below, pretty much. Maybe we have different understandings of 'necessary'.

From your round #3:

" If a person has both the ability and knowledge necessary to change something, and does not, they are responsible for it not changing as such...."

I agree they are responsible,

If they are responsible, then it's causation. If you mean what you say here, then Bob is responsible for the harm caused to the 5 people, hence he 'caused' it, hence he was violent.

even if they do not act. The key though is that the person does not act, therefore s/he does not commit violence. I simply did not buy your line that we are "always acting". In real life we are always acting, yes agree...but in the specific scenario, no. Just because Bob is breathing does not mean he is taking the air of the 6 people below...and even if you assume he is, that is not the moral choice with which you're presented in the scenario.

I am framing 'knowing about the situation, but standing back and not pulling the lever' as an action. Turning the situation into a binary action/non-action choice and applying 'non-violence' to the 'non-action' makes it totally different from anything that would apply to the world.

Because Bob did not pull the lever, four more people died than were necessary. I hold that this means he caused their deaths indirectly. Of course, this could mean that we are causing harm all the time, and I think this is true, but that there are salient cases of it. For instance, if God came down from heaven and said "push this button and there'll be world peace", to not push it would be a violent act.

I don't understand the issue of non-action. Bob does not simply cease to exist before the event, otherwise there wouldn't be a choice. He stands there and lets it happen, which is an action.

If you were presented with a moral choice to breathe or not breathe, then and only then would breathing be considered a relevant action for the moral quandary. This was how I framed the researchers' lab example. Without the choice to breathe or not breathe breathing, breathing is irrelevant to the moral framework of the specific example.

I'm not saying Bob's breathing is the harm if he doesn't pull the lever. I'm saying the deaths of the four people are the effect of his action of not pulling the lever.

As for your thing about, that the same would have happened had Bob not existed, look at it this way; a vehicle passes through a road, and a gate opens as it does so. This causes the vehicle to be able to continue along. If the gate had not existed, the same would have happened, but it is still causation in this context, especially when talking about morals, because human action and intention is everything in that context. This is why it's ridiculous to think Larry is 'not responsible' for the salad not being eating simply because he didn't touch it, and that it still wouldn't have been eaten if he didn't exist.

---

Further analysis from PMs:

2) "...as for the breathing being pollution etc; that if we could reduce them we would, if it were not for a larger amount of violence being implicitly required to do so, and therefore that we are engaged in reducing violence overall, choosing the lesser of two 'violences', similar to my take on the trolley problem. In this sense, I'd say we can be held accountable."

Right, so the key aspect is that there must be an actual choice where one can reduce overall violence.

So, my question would be whether or not you found my dichotomy on violence to be valid? Did you think "natural violence" vs "human-to-human violence" was a viable distinction?

We might say something was 'natural' violence by your definition if human causality were so separated from it that no human could be meaningfully linked to the outcome, but in your examples each outcome was directly predicated on the actions of humans involved.

---

I think you're very focused on the point of "life is violence", which I admit is a very interesting point. I think what happened is that by constructing a specific scenario with only one valid choice, most of what constitutes "life is violence" is excluded and controlled for. That might be why it's difficult for you to see my arguments...you are still taking "everything" into consideration, whereas the scenario is not.

I think the binary seeming nature of the examples makes it seem more reasonable that a choice might constitute 'inaction', but that in reality we cannot separate causality in this way. If I get into a car, start backing out of the driveway, but then just let go of the steering wheel and let it run over whoever it will, does that constitute 'inaction', simply because if I had disappeared from the car the same outcome might have happened?

In the trolley dilemma, there is only the lever. There's no choices about eating vs not eating, reading a book vs stabbing someone, etc...so "life" isn't really what we're looking at in this example.

Well if you frame it that way then it has no import into reality at all. If there's "only a lever" then it's not a moral issue because morality must regard conscious action.

In the researchers' lab example, breathing was the main dilemma, and the crowbar the choice at hand to stop enough people from breathing so that the rest may survive. There was no lever, still no eating, etc...this is still not "life".
be humble
wrichcirw
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2/3/2014 11:39:05 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/3/2014 10:39:08 AM, sdavio wrote:
At 2/3/2014 9:35:52 AM, wrichcirw wrote:

From your round #3:

" If a person has both the ability and knowledge necessary to change something, and does not, they are responsible for it not changing as such...."

I agree they are responsible,

If they are responsible, then it's causation. If you mean what you say here, then Bob is responsible for the harm caused to the 5 people, hence he 'caused' it, hence he was violent.

I think we fundamentally disagree on this point, and it causes us to go in different directions argumentatively.

Responsibility and causation are two very different things. You can be responsible for things you have absolutely no control over. Responsibility is much more associated with accountability and liability, not necessarily causation. For example, if you're a traffic operator on an intersection and an accident occurs on your watch, you're responsible for clearing it up, even though you had nothing to do with causing that accident...it was due to a drunk driver hitting a parked car, let's say.

So, I agree on responsibility, but that does not entail causation. Without causation, you simply cannot say that Bob was violent by not pulling the lever (i.e. no action).

I am framing 'knowing about the situation, but standing back and not pulling the lever' as an action. Turning the situation into a binary action/non-action choice and applying 'non-violence' to the 'non-action' makes it totally different from anything that would apply to the world.

How so? IMHO this scenario is easily imaginable. For example, you see an armed robbery in progress. You freeze, hide behind a corner, and do nothing, instead of calling the cops. This is non-violent non-action - indeed, all non-actions are inherently non-violent. This is why Gandhi is known for non-violent resistance...because their resistance essentially entailed them doing nothing instead of working.

I don't understand the issue of non-action. Bob does not simply cease to exist before the event, otherwise there wouldn't be a choice. He stands there and lets it happen, which is an action.

Action is not existence. Existence requires certain actions, like breathing, blood circulating, etc...but those are typically not conscious actions and are irrelevant to causality.

He stands there and lets it happen even though he could have prevented it, which makes him morally culpable, but it doesn't mean he caused that event to occur.

As for your thing about, that the same would have happened had Bob not existed, look at it this way; a vehicle passes through a road, and a gate opens as it does so.

I would augment this example to "a vehicle passes through a road, and an open gate remains open while it does so." In my example, the gate does not act...in your example, it does.

...This is why it's ridiculous to think Larry is 'not responsible' for the salad not being eating simply because he didn't touch it, and that it still wouldn't have been eaten if he didn't exist.

Well, Larry promised he would eat the salad, right? So, for him to not eat the salad is him breaking his promise. One is responsible for things they promise to do, sure.

Did Larry act by not eating the salad? No. Larry completely forgot about it and came up with a crazy-@ss excuse to appease his gf. =)

So, my question would be whether or not you found my dichotomy on violence to be valid? Did you think "natural violence" vs "human-to-human violence" was a viable distinction?

We might say something was 'natural' violence by your definition if human causality were so separated from it that no human could be meaningfully linked to the outcome, but in your examples each outcome was directly predicated on the actions of humans involved.

---

I think you're very focused on the point of "life is violence", which I admit is a very interesting point. I think what happened is that by constructing a specific scenario with only one valid choice, most of what constitutes "life is violence" is excluded and controlled for. That might be why it's difficult for you to see my arguments...you are still taking "everything" into consideration, whereas the scenario is not.

I think the binary seeming nature of the examples makes it seem more reasonable that a choice might constitute 'inaction', but that in reality we cannot separate causality in this way.

On this I fully agree. Similarly, when we look at any theory, like the theory of gravity or economic theories, we have to control for so much that the example no longer is realistic. The example is only accounting for one specific aspect of reality. Such is the case with these dilemmas as well. The ability to control for external variables is what makes the examples useful, so their very nature will require that they not resemble "real life".

If I get into a car, start backing out of the driveway, but then just let go of the steering wheel and let it run over whoever it will, does that constitute 'inaction', simply because if I had disappeared from the car the same outcome might have happened?

The key here is that YOU set that car into motion. That's materially different regarding causality from the trolley dilemma. You did cause those deaths, no question.

Now, if you magically popped into this car while it was already in motion and then didn't grab onto the steering wheel as it started running over people, yes, that constitutes inaction and no causality.

In the trolley dilemma, there is only the lever. There's no choices about eating vs not eating, reading a book vs stabbing someone, etc...so "life" isn't really what we're looking at in this example.

Well if you frame it that way then it has no import into reality at all. If there's "only a lever" then it's not a moral issue because morality must regard conscious action.

What I mean by "only a lever" is that it's the only pertinent choice to consider. It has import in reality in that it demonstrates the morality of one specific action. It does not mirror reality at all...but that is not the intent of this kind (or really any kind) of example. Examples are meant to simplify reality into something that is more easily analyzable.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
Juan_Pablo
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2/3/2014 11:46:28 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
Interesting, interesting, interesting debate, wrichcirw!

I agreed with a lot of what you said, and it reinforces a position I've been taking on debate.org for a while now: all morality is inevitably subjective. My reason: All violence everywhere is technically bad to the person or living thing it happens to. But it is frequently necessary to extend the life of the creature committing it in the example of predation ( the consumption of other organisms for food ). There are examples in human society where violence is often necessary ( though I think most of it is gratuitous, useless violence ).

Now, you argued that some violence can be demonstrated to be good in a "utilitarian calculus" perspective. Again, I agree with you. But the reason why it's good is because it's satisfying a need; usually if a law enforcement officer is committing it, it's to regain civil order or to put down an imminent, lethal threat. Thus when violence is inflicted upon society so as to destabilize, it's viewed as wrong; the same when someone inflicts violence upon another person so that it acts against the law or against an innocent person, ultimately injuring them; here society says it's wrong.

So violence can also be demonstrated to be wrong! Now we can argue that even this violence isn't necessarily wrong when you look at it from a natural, nihilistic perspective, but when it confronts you in the face or it's observed flagrantly, boastfully in a segment on the evening news, chances are it's going to unsettle you because of its implications on the culture in which you reside, a culture which you have expectations in, with regards to your treatment and your constitutional, legal rights as a citizen. This is what is meant by "violence is wrong". As humans, we have expectations of the communities that we inhabit; we expect that the law will be there to protect us when injustice rears its head.

Gratuitous violence is clearly wrong. This is a category of violence that is wrong.

So what's my final ruling in this debate:

Violence is wrong. Violence can also be right. The subjective quality about it cannot be avoided, and it's real, just like pain, just like hunger. Violence is wrong when it criminally materializes in our culture, because of the expectations we have. Violence is good when its done to satisfy a life-sustaining need, such as the killing of farm animals for food, the consumption of fruits and vegetables. So violence is clearly bad when it happens to us without cause. I'm sure all of the readers would express this sentiment if I randomly punched them in the face - including the nihilist. Society would even impose a penalty if I took it to extremes. Again, an example where violence is bad.

So violence can be demonstrated to be wrong. But it can also be demonstrated to be right, as you've shown and as I covered in a paragraph.

Now you may be compelled to argue that because there are examples where violence is good, it can't be declared that "violence is wrong". Here I will disagree with you. It's more appropriate to say that "violence isn't always wrong", but some form of violence will always be wrong to any individual, just on the basis that it can occur to them and when it does they won't approve. Violence genuinely hurts and this is what makes it wrong - the subjective yet-real quality to it, that no human has the power to avoid.

My final position:

Violence is necessary ( but not always ).
Violence is also wrong.

It all depends on our collective and personal needs . . . which decide what is wrong in the first place.
wrichcirw
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2/3/2014 11:49:27 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/3/2014 11:39:05 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
At 2/3/2014 10:39:08 AM, sdavio wrote:

If I get into a car, start backing out of the driveway, but then just let go of the steering wheel and let it run over whoever it will, does that constitute 'inaction', simply because if I had disappeared from the car the same outcome might have happened?

The key here is that YOU set that car into motion. That's materially different regarding causality from the trolley dilemma. You did cause those deaths, no question.

Now, if you magically popped into this car while it was already in motion and then didn't grab onto the steering wheel as it started running over people, yes, that constitutes inaction and no causality.

Maybe it will be easier and more streamlined to just focus on this one example.

Let's say that Larry was driving the car, and Bob was the passenger. Larry has a heartattack and keels over, so he lets go of the steering wheel. Bob now has a choice - he can do his best to get control of the vehicle so it doesn't run people over, or he can cover his eyes and scream MOMMY!

Larry caused this situation, but the moral dilemma is not relevant to Larry...it's relevant to Bob. For Bob to cover his eyes like an ostrich is immoral inaction.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
wrichcirw
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2/3/2014 12:06:05 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/3/2014 11:46:28 AM, Juan_Pablo wrote:
Interesting, interesting, interesting debate, wrichcirw!

I agreed with a lot of what you said, and it reinforces a position I've been taking on debate.org for a while now: all morality is inevitably subjective. My reason: All violence everywhere is technically bad to the person or living thing it happens to. But it is frequently necessary to extend the life of the creature committing it in the example of predation ( the consumption of other organisms for food ). There are examples in human society where violence is often necessary ( though I think most of it is gratuitous, useless violence ).

Thanks for the compliment, and I agree our perspectives are very similar on this. =)

[etc]

Now you may be compelled to argue that because there are examples where violence is good, it can't be declared that "violence is wrong". Here I will disagree with you. It's more appropriate to say that "violence isn't always wrong", but some form of violence will always be wrong to any individual, just on the basis that it can occur to them and when it does they won't approve. Violence genuinely hurts and this is what makes it wrong - the subjective yet-real quality to it, that no human has the power to avoid.

On this specific point, I'd refer you to the doctor/amputee example. In that case, violence is clearly painful and injurious to the amputee...but it saves the amputee's life. I would say that such violence is "right".

On "violence is wrong" vs "violence isn't always wrong", those are two materially different statements, just to let you know. The latter is a clear refutation the former. Regardless, I fully agree that the latter is a more accurate statement.

I will commend sdavio for taking such an unequivocal moral stance, but IMHO life is typically various shades of grey...in my experience I've found very, very few black-and-white, unequivocal moral statements. I don't think violence is one of them. In fact, I can't even think of one right now...maybe rape? That might be the closest thing to an unequivocal immoral act to me...which may explain why I went apesh!t in another thread over it, lol. :/

Thanks for reading the debate, btw! It was a certainly a headspinner for me...sdavio is much more fluid in abstract concepts than I am. =)
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
Juan_Pablo
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2/3/2014 12:15:32 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/3/2014 12:06:05 PM, wrichcirw wrote:
At 2/3/2014 11:46:28 AM, Juan_Pablo wrote:
Interesting, interesting, interesting debate, wrichcirw!

I agreed with a lot of what you said, and it reinforces a position I've been taking on debate.org for a while now: all morality is inevitably subjective. My reason: All violence everywhere is technically bad to the person or living thing it happens to. But it is frequently necessary to extend the life of the creature committing it in the example of predation ( the consumption of other organisms for food ). There are examples in human society where violence is often necessary ( though I think most of it is gratuitous, useless violence ).

Thanks for the compliment, and I agree our perspectives are very similar on this. =)


No problem, wrichcirw!

[etc]

Now you may be compelled to argue that because there are examples where violence is good, it can't be declared that "violence is wrong". Here I will disagree with you. It's more appropriate to say that "violence isn't always wrong", but some form of violence will always be wrong to any individual, just on the basis that it can occur to them and when it does they won't approve. Violence genuinely hurts and this is what makes it wrong - the subjective yet-real quality to it, that no human has the power to avoid.

On this specific point, I'd refer you to the doctor/amputee example. In that case, violence is clearly painful and injurious to the amputee...but it saves the amputee's life. I would say that such violence is "right".

On "violence is wrong" vs "violence isn't always wrong", those are two materially different statements, just to let you know. The latter is a clear refutation the former. Regardless, I fully agree that the latter is a more accurate statement.

I will commend sdavio for taking such an unequivocal moral stance, but IMHO life is typically various shades of grey...in my experience I've found very, very few black-and-white, unequivocal moral statements. I don't think violence is one of them. In fact, I can't even think of one right now...maybe rape? That might be the closest thing to an unequivocal immoral act to me...which may explain why I went apesh!t in another thread over it, lol. :/

Thanks for reading the debate, btw! It was a certainly a headspinner for me...sdavio is much more fluid in abstract concepts than I am. =)

As for the example of the amputee, I agree with you that this is an example where violence is right, though the larger aim is to save the amputee's life - which again adresses the fact that violence is good or bad depending on the needs of the individual.

Yes, this debate was a headspinner. But you both did a fantastic job arguing your positions! I Hope to read more like this in the future.
Dazz
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2/3/2014 1:42:34 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/3/2014 9:35:52 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
At 2/3/2014 5:57:26 AM, sdavio wrote:

Is a necessary evil actually evil?

The way I argued CON for this resolution, I said resoundingly no...what we call "necessary evil" is actually good. It is something that we utilize to achieve the greater good.

I can't get that if you're agreed on it, isn't that statement linking it to morality now? You're replacing violence with necessary evil and then calling it good, with a stance of violence being amoral?
Remove the "I want", remainder is the "peace". ~Al-Ghazali~
"This time will also pass", a dose to cure both; the excitement & the grievance. ~Ayaz~
wrichcirw
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2/3/2014 1:49:01 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/3/2014 1:42:34 PM, Dazz wrote:
At 2/3/2014 9:35:52 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
At 2/3/2014 5:57:26 AM, sdavio wrote:

Is a necessary evil actually evil?

The way I argued CON for this resolution, I said resoundingly no...what we call "necessary evil" is actually good. It is something that we utilize to achieve the greater good.

I can't get that if you're agreed on it, isn't that statement linking it to morality now? You're replacing violence with necessary evil and then calling it good, with a stance of violence being amoral?

Not exactly...SOME forms of violence constitute "necessary evil", and in those specific situations, it's "good".

Violence is typically "bad", no question, but if it can also be good too, that means that it's not the determiner of morality...it must be something else.

This is where I'm still somewhat on the fence, too...sdavio's perspective is still very convincing, that all you are doing through "necessary evils" is reducing overall violence against people, so violence is still "bad".

I think the issue may be semantics. Saying something is "good" or "bad" is different from saying it's "moral" or "immoral". If something is good, that doesn't necessarily mean it has anything to do with morality. So, perhaps "violence is bad" is a valid statement, but "violence is wrong" is not a valid statement. Actually, I think you helped me hit upon the key issue, lol. Thanks. =)
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
Dazz
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2/3/2014 2:12:31 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/3/2014 1:49:01 PM, wrichcirw wrote:
At 2/3/2014 1:42:34 PM, Dazz wrote:
At 2/3/2014 9:35:52 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
At 2/3/2014 5:57:26 AM, sdavio wrote:

Is a necessary evil actually evil?

The way I argued CON for this resolution, I said resoundingly no...what we call "necessary evil" is actually good. It is something that we utilize to achieve the greater good.

I can't get that if you're agreed on it, isn't that statement linking it to morality now? You're replacing violence with necessary evil and then calling it good, with a stance of violence being amoral?

Not exactly...SOME forms of violence constitute "necessary evil", and in those specific situations, it's "good".

Violence is typically "bad", no question, but if it can also be good too, that means that it's not the determiner of morality...it must be something else.

This is where I'm still somewhat on the fence, too...sdavio's perspective is still very convincing, that all you are doing through "necessary evils" is reducing overall violence against people, so violence is still "bad".

Issue is really semantic. What do you call as "necessary evil", can evil be necessary anyway?

I think the issue may be semantics. Saying something is "good" or "bad" is different from saying it's "moral" or "immoral". If something is good, that doesn't necessarily mean it has anything to do with morality. So, perhaps "violence is bad" is a valid statement, but "violence is wrong" is not a valid statement. Actually, I think you helped me hit upon the key issue, lol. Thanks. =)

Thanks for thanks giving. =)
Remove the "I want", remainder is the "peace". ~Al-Ghazali~
"This time will also pass", a dose to cure both; the excitement & the grievance. ~Ayaz~
whiteflame
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2/3/2014 9:12:45 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
I thought it was an intriguing debate. Good points on both sides, and kudos on the incredibly detailed and well thought out posts.

From my perspective, Pro hedged his bets as the rounds went on. The final round was essentially a restatement of that same point from different angles, using it to justify arguments that he had made previously. It was this idea of direct and indirect causation, and that a person who is aware of a situation such as this and does nothing is engaging in violent behavior.

This really worked for me. Throughout the debate, I found myself wondering if the process of someone refusing to participate in a violent act was participating in a violent act by knowingly allowing the deaths of more of the people involved. I think that Pro's decision to focus solely on this argument was a good one, since Con's argument requires that this not be true in order to win the debate.

I don't find this argument that the violence would happen in Bill's absence very persuasive. As Pro points out, his presence and ability to affect the outcome makes him culpable in the outcome.

This view that Pro's argument is contingent on humans always participating in violent behaviors simply doesn't affect this argument, and I don't think it's what Pro's even saying. It seems to be that Pro is arguing that a fully conscious presence in the moment makes that person an actor, since they can conceivably affect the outcome.

Lastly, the argument of scenarios comes closest to dealing with Pro's point, but doesn't erase it, and it's partially a new argument. Points B and C assume things that aren't ever expressed in separate posts, so I don't give them weight in the round, but even if they were valid, they're effectively not choices, since you don't have a moral actor capable of making the choice between two possibilities.

This point assumes something important that I think Pro spent a great deal of time responding to without much in the way of rebuttal: both choices are violent choices, and therefore it doesn't matter which Bill selects. You can be utilitarian, and still state that both acts of violence are inherently wrong. The wrongness is just slightly less on the choice to kill 1 versus 5. I would have liked to see the argument that we exist in a binary here with a "right" and a "wrong" choice, and that therefore one must be right and the other wrong, but that didn't come up.

So on the whole, I see Pro's argument as more persuasive. Indirect causation appears to be a violent act, and since all answers to the scenarios Con provides are essentially wrong given Pro's perspective, violence must always be wrong, and therefore he has proven the topic true.
wrichcirw
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2/4/2014 2:53:49 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
First and foremost, thanks for the time you spent reading the debate, the discussion, and for posting a thoughtful RFD. =)

At 2/3/2014 9:12:45 PM, whiteflame wrote:
I thought it was an intriguing debate. Good points on both sides, and kudos on the incredibly detailed and well thought out posts.

From my perspective, Pro hedged his bets as the rounds went on. The final round was essentially a restatement of that same point from different angles, using it to justify arguments that he had made previously. It was this idea of direct and indirect causation, and that a person who is aware of a situation such as this and does nothing is engaging in violent behavior.

This really worked for me. Throughout the debate, I found myself wondering if the process of someone refusing to participate in a violent act was participating in a violent act by knowingly allowing the deaths of more of the people involved. I think that Pro's decision to focus solely on this argument was a good one, since Con's argument requires that this not be true in order to win the debate.

I don't find this argument that the violence would happen in Bill's absence very persuasive. As Pro points out, his presence and ability to affect the outcome makes him culpable in the outcome.

This view that Pro's argument is contingent on humans always participating in violent behaviors simply doesn't affect this argument, and I don't think it's what Pro's even saying. It seems to be that Pro is arguing that a fully conscious presence in the moment makes that person an actor, since they can conceivably affect the outcome.

Now, let's say all of the above is true. If someone does not act, how are they indirectly causing the situation to occur? How does someone that does not act somehow act violently? That is something I never saw PRO convincingly answer.

You say that Bob is a conscious actor the moment he is given the choice and the ability to exercise that choice and I fully agree...however, can't Bob choose not to act? Isn't that exactly the choice Bob would make by not pulling the lever? Please tell me how Bob could possibly choose not to act in your conception, and tell me how such a choice is different from simply not pulling the lever.

After all, if Bob simply said "I don't want to play this game anymore", thereby relinquishing his "actor" status in this scenario, 5 people would still die.

Lastly, the argument of scenarios comes closest to dealing with Pro's point, but doesn't erase it, and it's partially a new argument. Points B and C assume things that aren't ever expressed in separate posts, so I don't give them weight in the round, but even if they were valid, they're effectively not choices, since you don't have a moral actor capable of making the choice between two possibilities.

This point assumes something important that I think Pro spent a great deal of time responding to without much in the way of rebuttal: both choices are violent choices, and therefore it doesn't matter which Bill selects. You can be utilitarian, and still state that both acts of violence are inherently wrong. The wrongness is just slightly less on the choice to kill 1 versus 5. I would have liked to see the argument that we exist in a binary here with a "right" and a "wrong" choice, and that therefore one must be right and the other wrong, but that didn't come up.

This is simply not true. Almost my entire rebuttal was spent on exactly the underlined. I spent nearly the entire debate on the notion that violence must entail action, and that inaction entails non-violence...therefore one of the choices does not involve causal violence by humans.

So on the whole, I see Pro's argument as more persuasive. Indirect causation appears to be a violent act, and since all answers to the scenarios Con provides are essentially wrong given Pro's perspective, violence must always be wrong, and therefore he has proven the topic true.

I respect your opinion, and obviously you're not alone in thinking this way.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
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2/4/2014 2:56:22 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/3/2014 2:12:31 PM, Dazz wrote:
At 2/3/2014 1:49:01 PM, wrichcirw wrote:

Issue is really semantic. What do you call as "necessary evil", can evil be necessary anyway?

Yeah, I agree it's a semantics issue. Thinking about it a bit, what we call "necessary evil" is just the costs associated with a certain decision. So, for example, you want to buy a house, but you need a loan to buy it. You can either look at the loan as a "necessary evil", or you can look at the loan as actually helping you buy that house, because without the loan, you wouldn't be able to.

In the latter sense, the loan is clearly what helps you buy the house, and the person is clearly thankful that s/he had the opportunity to get that loan, even though there is a cost factor involved. Thus I would conclude that "necessary evil" is a bit of a misnomer.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
whiteflame
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2/4/2014 8:12:09 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/4/2014 2:53:49 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
First and foremost, thanks for the time you spent reading the debate, the discussion, and for posting a thoughtful RFD. =):

No problem at all, worthwhile debate to read.

Now, let's say all of the above is true. If someone does not act, how are they indirectly causing the situation to occur? How does someone that does not act somehow act violently? That is something I never saw PRO convincingly answer.

You say that Bob is a conscious actor the moment he is given the choice and the ability to exercise that choice and I fully agree...however, can't Bob choose not to act? Isn't that exactly the choice Bob would make by not pulling the lever? Please tell me how Bob could possibly choose not to act in your conception, and tell me how such a choice is different from simply not pulling the lever.

After all, if Bob simply said "I don't want to play this game anymore", thereby relinquishing his "actor" status in this scenario, 5 people would still die.

From the debate, what I find persuasive is this idea that inaction can be just as violent as action, if not more so. Bob can certainly choose not to act, and I would view it the same as Bob not pulling the lever. With full knowledge of the outcome of that inaction, the decision not to act is itself a violent one, just as the decision not to pull the lever is also violent. It is his choice, but the implications of that choice are always violent.


This is simply not true. Almost my entire rebuttal was spent on exactly the underlined. I spent nearly the entire debate on the notion that violence must entail action, and that inaction entails non-violence...therefore one of the choices does not involve causal violence by humans.

I suppose, then, that I didn't fully comprehend your points to this effect. I get that it would have happened in his absence, and I understand that that would not entail violence on his part, nor would his presence without knowledge of the outcome or ability to affect it. But I don't see that as a reason why his inaction in this case is necessarily non-violent. The definition for human violence wasn't contingent on physical action on the part of the offender, as far as I'm aware.
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2/4/2014 8:24:00 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/4/2014 8:12:09 PM, whiteflame wrote:
At 2/4/2014 2:53:49 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
First and foremost, thanks for the time you spent reading the debate, the discussion, and for posting a thoughtful RFD. =):

No problem at all, worthwhile debate to read.

Now, let's say all of the above is true. If someone does not act, how are they indirectly causing the situation to occur? How does someone that does not act somehow act violently? That is something I never saw PRO convincingly answer.

You say that Bob is a conscious actor the moment he is given the choice and the ability to exercise that choice and I fully agree...however, can't Bob choose not to act? Isn't that exactly the choice Bob would make by not pulling the lever? Please tell me how Bob could possibly choose not to act in your conception, and tell me how such a choice is different from simply not pulling the lever.

After all, if Bob simply said "I don't want to play this game anymore", thereby relinquishing his "actor" status in this scenario, 5 people would still die.

From the debate, what I find persuasive is this idea that inaction can be just as violent as action, if not more so. Bob can certainly choose not to act, and I would view it the same as Bob not pulling the lever. With full knowledge of the outcome of that inaction, the decision not to act is itself a violent one, just as the decision not to pull the lever is also violent. It is his choice, but the implications of that choice are always violent.

This is simply not true. Almost my entire rebuttal was spent on exactly the underlined. I spent nearly the entire debate on the notion that violence must entail action, and that inaction entails non-violence...therefore one of the choices does not involve causal violence by humans.

I suppose, then, that I didn't fully comprehend your points to this effect. I get that it would have happened in his absence, and I understand that that would not entail violence on his part, nor would his presence without knowledge of the outcome or ability to affect it. But I don't see that as a reason why his inaction in this case is necessarily non-violent. The definition for human violence wasn't contingent on physical action on the part of the offender, as far as I'm aware.

Hmmm...I had to look this up myself, too...I assumed violence was intertwined with action. From the debate:

"1. exertion of physical force so as to injure or abuse
2. injury by or as if by distortion, infringement, or profanation
3. intense, turbulent, or furious and often destructive action or force
4. undue alteration (as of wording or sense in editing a text)"

So, #1 and #3 clearly require "exertion" or "action". #4 requires "alteration", another action. #2 involves "distortion, infringement, or profanation", which are all actions.

I was very surprised by this "inaction" argument. At this point, I think it's clear that violence entails actual action. I can't picture "violent inaction". To me that's an oxymoron.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
whiteflame
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2/4/2014 8:31:09 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Hmmm...I had to look this up myself, too...I assumed violence was intertwined with action. From the debate:

"1. exertion of physical force so as to injure or abuse
2. injury by or as if by distortion, infringement, or profanation
3. intense, turbulent, or furious and often destructive action or force
4. undue alteration (as of wording or sense in editing a text)"

So, #1 and #3 clearly require "exertion" or "action". #4 requires "alteration", another action. #2 involves "distortion, infringement, or profanation", which are all actions.

I was very surprised by this "inaction" argument. At this point, I think it's clear that violence entails actual action. I can't picture "violent inaction". To me that's an oxymoron.

Perhaps so. It's an odd concept to think on, and I'm not sure I fully buy it myself, I just felt that the responses you gave within the debate weren't fully adequate in that regard. I actually find what you said here pretty persuasive, though I'm still unsure.
wrichcirw
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2/4/2014 8:31:56 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/4/2014 8:31:09 PM, whiteflame wrote:
Hmmm...I had to look this up myself, too...I assumed violence was intertwined with action. From the debate:

"1. exertion of physical force so as to injure or abuse
2. injury by or as if by distortion, infringement, or profanation
3. intense, turbulent, or furious and often destructive action or force
4. undue alteration (as of wording or sense in editing a text)"

So, #1 and #3 clearly require "exertion" or "action". #4 requires "alteration", another action. #2 involves "distortion, infringement, or profanation", which are all actions.

I was very surprised by this "inaction" argument. At this point, I think it's clear that violence entails actual action. I can't picture "violent inaction". To me that's an oxymoron.

Perhaps so. It's an odd concept to think on, and I'm not sure I fully buy it myself, I just felt that the responses you gave within the debate weren't fully adequate in that regard. I actually find what you said here pretty persuasive, though I'm still unsure.

Yeah, fair enough. After the debate, I started doubting my own position, my head was spinning so much, lol. =)
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
sdavio
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2/4/2014 11:42:30 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/4/2014 8:24:00 PM, wrichcirw wrote:
Hmmm...I had to look this up myself, too...I assumed violence was intertwined with action. From the debate:

"1. exertion of physical force so as to injure or abuse
2. injury by or as if by distortion, infringement, or profanation
3. intense, turbulent, or furious and often destructive action or force
4. undue alteration (as of wording or sense in editing a text)"

So, #1 and #3 clearly require "exertion" or "action". #4 requires "alteration", another action. #2 involves "distortion, infringement, or profanation", which are all actions.

I was very surprised by this "inaction" argument. At this point, I think it's clear that violence entails actual action. I can't picture "violent inaction". To me that's an oxymoron.

These definitions are much more broad; where-as I would, and did in the debate, simply frame it as an issue of cause and effect. However I think it would still in a very technical sense apply to those definitions; the key point being that inaction does not exist. I still don't think you have given a satisfying response to this point: standing next to the lever, thinking about pulling it, then not doing so, is an action. We could call it an 'exertion of physical force' if you like, because simply existing is itself a physical force.

Bob is effectively caught between two violent actions. This is consistently how I framed it throughout the entire debate. In either case, the deaths taking place in either outcome would not have occurred had Bob decided otherwise. What would have occurred had Bob not been there is irrelevant, morality discusses human choice and what is relevant here is the respective amounts of harm caused by either choice.
be humble
sdavio
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2/5/2014 12:01:02 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/3/2014 11:39:05 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
At 2/3/2014 10:39:08 AM, sdavio wrote:
If they are responsible, then it's causation. If you mean what you say here, then Bob is responsible for the harm caused to the 5 people, hence he 'caused' it, hence he was violent.

I think we fundamentally disagree on this point, and it causes us to go in different directions argumentatively.

Responsibility and causation are two very different things. You can be responsible for things you have absolutely no control over. Responsibility is much more associated with accountability and liability, not necessarily causation. For example, if you're a traffic operator on an intersection and an accident occurs on your watch, you're responsible for clearing it up, even though you had nothing to do with causing that accident...it was due to a drunk driver hitting a parked car, let's say.

So, I agree on responsibility, but that does not entail causation. Without causation, you simply cannot say that Bob was violent by not pulling the lever (i.e. no action).

I think there are two meanings for 'responsible', one in the sense of having an obligation to do something (someone being responsible for doing chores all day), and responsible in a cause/effect sense. Bob applies to both of these.

The action [Bob doing something other than pulling the lever] gives rise to the event [five people dying]. The latter is absolutely dependent on the former. Therefore, from a moral perspective, we are presented with two choices, each with a clear outcome and different amounts of harm caused.

I don't understand the issue of non-action. Bob does not simply cease to exist before the event, otherwise there wouldn't be a choice. He stands there and lets it happen, which is an action.

Action is not existence. Existence requires certain actions, like breathing, blood circulating, etc...but those are typically not conscious actions and are irrelevant to causality.

He stands there and lets it happen even though he could have prevented it, which makes him morally culpable, but it doesn't mean he caused that event to occur.

Existence entails action. If Bob exists and is alive, he is engaged in some form of conscious action, and that conscious action was a choice, and since he is aware of the trolley and the lever, that choice involves allowing the trolley to continue along it's path.

On this I fully agree. Similarly, when we look at any theory, like the theory of gravity or economic theories, we have to control for so much that the example no longer is realistic. The example is only accounting for one specific aspect of reality. Such is the case with these dilemmas as well. The ability to control for external variables is what makes the examples useful, so their very nature will require that they not resemble "real life".

Yeah but you can't control for external variables and then predicate your argument on their absence. Basically you're saying here that we're limiting the scope to only the action 'pulling the lever' for simplicity's sake, and then your argument is 'because no actions other than pulling the lever exist and everything else is inaction, violence isn't wrong'.
be humble
wrichcirw
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2/5/2014 1:13:19 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
This is when I note that nearly every single substantive debate I've had here results in cognitive dissonance between PRO/CON, lol...

At 2/4/2014 11:42:30 PM, sdavio wrote:
At 2/4/2014 8:24:00 PM, wrichcirw wrote:
Hmmm...I had to look this up myself, too...I assumed violence was intertwined with action. From the debate:

"1. exertion of physical force so as to injure or abuse
2. injury by or as if by distortion, infringement, or profanation
3. intense, turbulent, or furious and often destructive action or force
4. undue alteration (as of wording or sense in editing a text)"

So, #1 and #3 clearly require "exertion" or "action". #4 requires "alteration", another action. #2 involves "distortion, infringement, or profanation", which are all actions.

I was very surprised by this "inaction" argument. At this point, I think it's clear that violence entails actual action. I can't picture "violent inaction". To me that's an oxymoron.

These definitions are much more broad; where-as I would, and did in the debate, simply frame it as an issue of cause and effect. However I think it would still in a very technical sense apply to those definitions; the key point being that inaction does not exist. I still don't think you have given a satisfying response to this point: standing next to the lever, thinking about pulling it, then not doing so, is an action. We could call it an 'exertion of physical force' if you like, because simply existing is itself a physical force.

Bob is effectively caught between two violent actions. This is consistently how I framed it throughout the entire debate. In either case, the deaths taking place in either outcome would not have occurred had Bob decided otherwise. What would have occurred had Bob not been there is irrelevant, morality discusses human choice and what is relevant here is the respective amounts of harm caused by either choice.

1) Strictly pertaining to the debate, I found no reason to take your augmented/changed definition of violence. Violence was as sourced from the dictionary...what you had otherwise was unsourced and unsubstantiated.

2) Outside the debate, I still don't seen any reason to take your augmented definition. I still see your arguments, especially the underlined, as essentially saying that living beings are breathing, blood-circulating, etc entities that because of such biological functions, are "active". Again, I would separate that part from human causality, so what we have left is conscious choice. From conscious choice, the person still must be able to act upon the choice...consciousness is not enough. This was inherent in my Scenario C from the debate, where Bob is there, aware, AND conscious of the matter at hand...but is unable to act. Maybe the lever is stuck and he doesn't know until he tries pulling the lever. Maybe he was tied up and gagged.

So, we can see through isolation of consciousness and biological functions that all of what entails "action at a rest state" for a human being (i.e. biological functions and consciousness) still does not result in a moral dilemma. There still must be an actionable choice with differing results. This is why I reject outright your assertion that "existing itself is a physical force"...the scenario controls for all such exertions and renders them null. All that matters is the pulling of the lever - that is the only action...all other actions are treated as irrelevant externalities. Thus, not pulling it is inaction. I understand I did not argue this specific point in the debate and instead focused upon the #A/#B dichotomy. I think what I'm stating now is more accurate, and I would have stated such in the debate had I thought about it then.

As already mentioned, this example not realistic - examples are generally not supposed to be realistic but are instead supposed to simplify reality into something analyzable. Thus, the example is a grossly simplified rendition of one specific choice to the exclusion of all other choices. Given this specific choice - the pulling of the lever - there is such a thing as inaction, i.e. not pulling the lever.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
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2/5/2014 1:24:53 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/5/2014 12:01:02 AM, sdavio wrote:
At 2/3/2014 11:39:05 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
At 2/3/2014 10:39:08 AM, sdavio wrote:
If they are responsible, then it's causation. If you mean what you say here, then Bob is responsible for the harm caused to the 5 people, hence he 'caused' it, hence he was violent.

I think we fundamentally disagree on this point, and it causes us to go in different directions argumentatively.

Responsibility and causation are two very different things. You can be responsible for things you have absolutely no control over. Responsibility is much more associated with accountability and liability, not necessarily causation. For example, if you're a traffic operator on an intersection and an accident occurs on your watch, you're responsible for clearing it up, even though you had nothing to do with causing that accident...it was due to a drunk driver hitting a parked car, let's say.

So, I agree on responsibility, but that does not entail causation. Without causation, you simply cannot say that Bob was violent by not pulling the lever (i.e. no action).

I think there are two meanings for 'responsible', one in the sense of having an obligation to do something (someone being responsible for doing chores all day), and responsible in a cause/effect sense. Bob applies to both of these.

Describe "responsible in a cause/effect sense", and differentiate it from obligation.

The action [Bob doing something other than pulling the lever] gives rise to the event [five people dying]. The latter is absolutely dependent on the former. Therefore, from a moral perspective, we are presented with two choices, each with a clear outcome and different amounts of harm caused.

Here you are creating a false dichotomy:

a) Pulling the lever
b) Doing something other than pulling the lever

The true dichotomy:

a) Pulling the lever
b) NOT pulling the lever

Subtle but rather significant difference, especially given how I am arguing this point. The true dichotomy is logically valid, whereas the false dichotomy is fallacious.

Therefore, I maintain that given the lever, there is such a thing as inaction, i.e. "NOT pulling the lever".

If you're not convinced by the logic here, think of this dichotomy:

False dichotomy
a) Right
b) Wrong

or

True dichotomy
a) Right
b) NOT right

The former is false, because something that is not right is not necessarily wrong. This is one of the first things they will teach you in an introductory logic course. This is why the procedures on negation are strict.

I don't understand the issue of non-action. Bob does not simply cease to exist before the event, otherwise there wouldn't be a choice. He stands there and lets it happen, which is an action.

Action is not existence. Existence requires certain actions, like breathing, blood circulating, etc...but those are typically not conscious actions and are irrelevant to causality.

He stands there and lets it happen even though he could have prevented it, which makes him morally culpable, but it doesn't mean he caused that event to occur.

Existence entails action. If Bob exists and is alive, he is engaged in some form of conscious action, and that conscious action was a choice, and since he is aware of the trolley and the lever, that choice involves allowing the trolley to continue along it's path.

On this I fully agree. Similarly, when we look at any theory, like the theory of gravity or economic theories, we have to control for so much that the example no longer is realistic. The example is only accounting for one specific aspect of reality. Such is the case with these dilemmas as well. The ability to control for external variables is what makes the examples useful, so their very nature will require that they not resemble "real life".

Yeah but you can't control for external variables and then predicate your argument on their absence. Basically you're saying here that we're limiting the scope to only the action 'pulling the lever' for simplicity's sake, and then your argument is 'because no actions other than pulling the lever exist and everything else is inaction, violence isn't wrong'.

Correct, because in this specific scenario (and I'm guessing whoever devised the trolley dilemma was focusing on this exact point), there is only one action, and that action is a violent action. Typically we would recoil at the thought of deliberately killing a person...BUT, in this scenario, that is the only way to achieve a moral solution.

I don't know what your background is exactly. I took a lot of economics courses. Economic theory absolutely depends upon the ability to control for externalities...if you can't, you can't analyse anything...you will be overwhelmed with "what ifs". This is also what occurs in any lab, which is why labs tend to be nearly sterile so as to prevent as many externalities as possible while conducting experiments.

This trolley dilemma is essentially a social experiment in a sterile environment.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
sdavio
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2/5/2014 4:02:51 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/5/2014 1:24:53 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
Describe "responsible in a cause/effect sense", and differentiate it from obligation.

responsible

1.
having an obligation to do something, or having control over or care for someone, as part of one's job or role.
"the cabinet minister responsible for Education"
2.
being the primary cause of something and so able to be blamed or credited for it.
"Gooch was responsible for 198 of his side's 542 runs"


(Google Dictionary)

Here you are creating a false dichotomy:

a) Pulling the lever
b) Doing something other than pulling the lever

The true dichotomy:

a) Pulling the lever
b) NOT pulling the lever

If Bob is alive and not pulling the lever, it absolutely follows that he is doing something other than pulling the lever, so there's no false dichotomy. A false dichotomy would mean it was somehow possible to both pull the lever and do something other than pull it, or do neither. Unless Bob dies, this would be impossible.

Correct, because in this specific scenario (and I'm guessing whoever devised the trolley dilemma was focusing on this exact point), there is only one action, and that action is a violent action.

Only if we frame it in this strange way where only that action counts; in reality any choice is a choice between actions. Even so, we can say that if Bob is alive, he must be engaged in some action, so the choice is still between two actions, we just don't know exactly what he's doing if he chooses not to pull the lever. Regardless, what he's doing is not 'inaction' but 'action in the category of [actions other than pulling the lever]'.
be humble
wrichcirw
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2/6/2014 8:03:10 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/5/2014 4:02:51 AM, sdavio wrote:
At 2/5/2014 1:24:53 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
Describe "responsible in a cause/effect sense", and differentiate it from obligation.

responsible

1.
having an obligation to do something, or having control over or care for someone, as part of one's job or role.
"the cabinet minister responsible for Education"
2.
being the primary cause of something and so able to be blamed or credited for it.
"Gooch was responsible for 198 of his side's 542 runs"


(Google Dictionary)

Ok, to highlight the differences in these two definitions, I will point to a prior example involving Larry and Bob:
http://www.debate.org...

In this example, Larry is clearly responsible for causing the accident, i.e. your cause/effect definition. However, only Bob is responsible for the moral dilemma that follows from the events that Larry set into motion. This is the obligatory portion, and only this portion is relevant to morality.

I can almost see where you're going to take this (if you choose to accept this mission, lol)...you're going to try to pin this moral dilemma on Larry. Maybe Larry could have spent more money on better health care that would have caused him to know he may be susceptible to having a heart-attack while driving...this goes back to the controlled nature of such examples...I would treat these kind of examples as similar to a controlled lab experiment. We are only assigning a moral value for the one specific moral dilemma facing Bob. We can control for it by, let's say, Larry having received "reasonable" medical care and had no prior reason to think he would pose an unreasonable risk for this particular circumstance, i.e. having a heart attack behind the wheel. This is the nature of of my "ceteris paribus" statements in prior comments, i.e. "all else being the same", or essentially "given that there's no reason to think otherwise":

"A prediction, or a statement about causal or logical connections between two states of affairs, is qualified by ceteris paribus in order to acknowledge, and to rule out, the possibility of other factors that could override the relationship between the antecedent and the consequent."
http://en.wikipedia.org...

Here you are creating a false dichotomy:

a) Pulling the lever
b) Doing something other than pulling the lever

The true dichotomy:

a) Pulling the lever
b) NOT pulling the lever

If Bob is alive and not pulling the lever, it absolutely follows that he is doing something other than pulling the lever, so there's no false dichotomy. A false dichotomy would mean it was somehow possible to both pull the lever and do something other than pull it, or do neither. Unless Bob dies, this would be impossible.

Correct, because in this specific scenario (and I'm guessing whoever devised the trolley dilemma was focusing on this exact point), there is only one action, and that action is a violent action.

Only if we frame it in this strange way where only that action counts; in reality any choice is a choice between actions. Even so, we can say that if Bob is alive, he must be engaged in some action, so the choice is still between two actions, we just don't know exactly what he's doing if he chooses not to pull the lever. Regardless, what he's doing is not 'inaction' but 'action in the category of [actions other than pulling the lever]'.

Originally I had a very long exploratory response to this, but I've since concluded that neither my response nor even your assertion above is pertinent to the discussion.

To demonstrate why and to also make my response more relevant to this discussion, I will continue to use the "Larry having a heart attack" example. I think there are two things occurring in how I perceive you would interpret this specific example:

1) You are not controlling for anything, which while leading you to the correct conclusion that "life is action" or some derivative of such (perhaps "life is violence"), such lack of a controlled scenario does not allow for analysis of specific aspects of what we call life, i.e. specific action.

2) By proffering the specific controlled scenario of "Larry having a heartattack" in response to #1, what I would conclude given your above assertion and the scenario is that you are placing Larry's causal responsibility for the situation occurring upon Bob, and by doing so, thinking that Bob actually caused the events that created the moral dilemma to occur, and that such causality equates to action. This reasoning is erroneous, because Larry caused the accident, not Bob, so Bob simply did not cause the situation to come into being. Bob will be indeed morally responsible if even his inaction leads to the deaths of people the car runs over...but Bob does not act if such is the case. Bob does NOT commit violence. The ensuing violence already built into Bob's specific moral dilemma is outside the relevance of any of Bob's actions.

So, to bring this all back to the trolley dilemma specifically, we do not know who or what caused the dilemma to come into being, but the scenario makes it clear that such causal factors are not relevant to Bob or to the example. This is why I keep saying that even if Bob does not act, his inaction is immoral. Violence necessitates action:

http://www.debate.org...

...therefore, in this specific circumstance, "non-violence" on Bob's part is immoral.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
wrichcirw
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2/6/2014 8:10:10 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/6/2014 8:03:10 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
At 2/5/2014 4:02:51 AM, sdavio wrote:
At 2/5/2014 1:24:53 AM, wrichcirw wrote:

This is the nature of of my "ceteris paribus" statements in prior comments, i.e. "all else being the same", or essentially "given that there's no reason to think otherwise":

lol wow, so I did a search for "ceteris paribus" in both this thread and in the debate, and it seems I only used the phrase once. I could have sworn I used it multiple times...

Oh well. That's where I'm coming from...hopefully it's clearer now.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
sdavio
Posts: 1,936
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2/9/2014 12:38:45 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/6/2014 8:03:10 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
At 2/5/2014 4:02:51 AM, sdavio wrote:
At 2/5/2014 1:24:53 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
Describe "responsible in a cause/effect sense", and differentiate it from obligation.

responsible

1.
having an obligation to do something, or having control over or care for someone, as part of one's job or role.
"the cabinet minister responsible for Education"
2.
being the primary cause of something and so able to be blamed or credited for it.
"Gooch was responsible for 198 of his side's 542 runs"


(Google Dictionary)

Ok, to highlight the differences in these two definitions, I will point to a prior example involving Larry and Bob:
http://www.debate.org...

In this example, Larry is clearly responsible for causing the accident, i.e. your cause/effect definition. However, only Bob is responsible for the moral dilemma that follows from the events that Larry set into motion. This is the obligatory portion, and only this portion is relevant to morality.

Situation 1: Larry has a heart attack in the car. Bob is passenger.

Who or what is responsible (in causation) for this? Well, there are many factors; the stress in Larry's life, maybe whoever manufactured the car, etc. However, we could choose salient points of causation. If Larry knew he might have a heart attack, and drove anyway, we might blame him as one such salient cause. (More than, say, the president of McDonald's or the car company or something.) If he had no idea, as you propose ('ceteris paribus'), then we might say there's no 'salient cause'.

Situation 2: The car continues along the road, and Bob, while having the opportunity to change the situation, does not.

In terms of causality, I think the salient cause is quite clear in this instance. Bob absolutely had the knowledge and skill (presumably, for the moral problem to be interesting,) to take control, or at least attempt to, but chose not to.

Therefore, the primary cause of Larry having a heart attack was probably Larry, but the primary cause of the car continuing along it's path without intervention is Bob. Of course, we might also say that someone could have built a wall in front of where the car could have gone, jumped in front of it, etc etc, but the fact that Bob had the knowledge and was fully capable of changing the situation makes him a salient cause in this context.

In regards to this:

"only Bob is responsible for the moral dilemma that follows from the events that Larry set into motion."

I would say that while Larry is responsible for the moral dilemma coming into being, Bob is responsible for the outcome of the moral dilemma.

As I said in the debate, it would not even be a dilemma if there was only one action. A dilemma is always between two actions.

In short: if someone asks "why did the car continue along it's path without being diverted?" we would answer, "because Bob sat there screaming 'MOMMY' instead of taking control." This is causality, by the concept of causality I am proposing, especially in regard to moral causality.

Only if we frame it in this strange way where only that action counts; in reality any choice is a choice between actions. Even so, we can say that if Bob is alive, he must be engaged in some action, so the choice is still between two actions, we just don't know exactly what he's doing if he chooses not to pull the lever. Regardless, what he's doing is not 'inaction' but 'action in the category of [actions other than pulling the lever]'.

Originally I had a very long exploratory response to this, but I've since concluded that neither my response nor even your assertion above is pertinent to the discussion.

To demonstrate why and to also make my response more relevant to this discussion, I will continue to use the "Larry having a heart attack" example. I think there are two things occurring in how I perceive you would interpret this specific example:

1) You are not controlling for anything, which while leading you to the correct conclusion that "life is action" or some derivative of such (perhaps "life is violence"), such lack of a controlled scenario does not allow for analysis of specific aspects of what we call life, i.e. specific action.

I would say it calls for a more difficult, subtle analysis, but not for none at all. You seem to be 'controlling for' indirect causation and degrees of violence, then coming to the conclusion that violence is necessary, directly due to what's been 'controlled' out.

2) By proffering the specific controlled scenario of "Larry having a heartattack" in response to #1, what I would conclude given your above assertion and the scenario is that you are placing Larry's causal responsibility for the situation occurring upon Bob, and by doing so, thinking that Bob actually caused the events that created the moral dilemma to occur, and that such causality equates to action. This reasoning is erroneous, because Larry caused the accident, not Bob, so Bob simply did not cause the situation to come into being.

Let's say Bob had a clear chance to save the car, but for some reason simply chose not to (maybe he's suicidal). In that case, it seems fair to say that although Larry caused the situation to come into being, Bob caused it to continue to it's outcome.

If Bob was less sure, or less able to do so, but it was still possible, we might still say it'd have been better if he'd at least attempted, and therefore he caused it but to a lesser degree.

If no matter how hard Bob tried, he could not save the situation, we wouldn't apply any causality to Bob at all.

Bob will be indeed morally responsible if even his inaction leads to the deaths of people the car runs over...but Bob does not act if such is the case.

I am still totally unconvinced of this idea of 'inaction'. I think when you say inaction, you mean something different, like that his action falls outside of a specific criteria. You should make explicit what those criteria are, and why it is necessary for only actions inside those criteria to be considered 'violent'.

If it's only that the situation would be the same if Bob were not present; my rebuttal is as I have previously stated: we are specifically talking about Bob's moral dilemma, so what would happen had he not been present is a totally different story; and doesn't imply his actions don't constitute causation. If Bob chooses an action in the category of [not taking control of the car], he causes the car to crash. The outcome [the car crashing] is totally predicated on Bob's choice of that category of action.

Bob does NOT commit violence. The ensuing violence already built into Bob's specific moral dilemma is outside the relevance of any of Bob's actions.

So, to bring this all back to the trolley dilemma specifically, we do not know who or what caused the dilemma to come into being, but the scenario makes it clear that such causal factors are not relevant to Bob or to the example. This is why I keep saying that even if Bob does not act, his inaction is immoral. Violence necessitates action:

Screaming 'MOMMY' is an action, unless you 'control it out' :P
be humble
wrichcirw
Posts: 11,196
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2/9/2014 2:51:47 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
I'll split this up into two comments since it's getting longer than the max character count.

At 2/9/2014 12:38:45 AM, sdavio wrote:
At 2/6/2014 8:03:10 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
At 2/5/2014 4:02:51 AM, sdavio wrote:
At 2/5/2014 1:24:53 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
Describe "responsible in a cause/effect sense", and differentiate it from obligation.

responsible

1.
having an obligation to do something, or having control over or care for someone, as part of one's job or role.
"the cabinet minister responsible for Education"
2.
being the primary cause of something and so able to be blamed or credited for it.
"Gooch was responsible for 198 of his side's 542 runs"


(Google Dictionary)

Ok, to highlight the differences in these two definitions, I will point to a prior example involving Larry and Bob:
http://www.debate.org...

In this example, Larry is clearly responsible for causing the accident, i.e. your cause/effect definition. However, only Bob is responsible for the moral dilemma that follows from the events that Larry set into motion. This is the obligatory portion, and only this portion is relevant to morality.

Situation 1: Larry has a heart attack in the car. Bob is passenger.

Who or what is responsible (in causation) for this? Well, there are many factors; the stress in Larry's life, maybe whoever manufactured the car, etc. However, we could choose salient points of causation. If Larry knew he might have a heart attack, and drove anyway, we might blame him as one such salient cause. (More than, say, the president of McDonald's or the car company or something.) If he had no idea, as you propose ('ceteris paribus'), then we might say there's no 'salient cause'.

I don't know what you mean by "salient cause", so I can't respond to most of your post.

Situation 2: The car continues along the road, and Bob, while having the opportunity to change the situation, does not.

In terms of causality, I think the salient cause is quite clear in this instance. Bob absolutely had the knowledge and skill (presumably, for the moral problem to be interesting,) to take control, or at least attempt to, but chose not to.

Therefore, the primary cause of Larry having a heart attack was probably Larry, but the primary cause of the car continuing along it's path without intervention is Bob. Of course, we might also say that someone could have built a wall in front of where the car could have gone, jumped in front of it, etc etc, but the fact that Bob had the knowledge and was fully capable of changing the situation makes him a salient cause in this context.

I can't respond to anything above this sentence without knowing what "salient cause" means. Google turns up nothing.

In regards to this:

"only Bob is responsible for the moral dilemma that follows from the events that Larry set into motion."

I would say that while Larry is responsible for the moral dilemma coming into being, Bob is responsible for the outcome of the moral dilemma.

Agree.

As I said in the debate, it would not even be a dilemma if there was only one action. A dilemma is always between two actions.

No...two CHOICES, but not necessarily two actions.

In short: if someone asks "why did the car continue along it's path without being diverted?" we would answer, "because Bob sat there screaming 'MOMMY' instead of taking control." This is causality, by the concept of causality I am proposing, especially in regard to moral causality.

It's most certainly a concept of responsibility, but causality? That's a stretch. I would say you're incorrect, although I don't understand a key term in your arguments.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?