"the pursuit of happiness" is more decorative than meaningful
What meaning "pursuit of Happiness" has for present day America, in particular to what extent it is a central mandate of the national character over and above the concepts of "Life" and "Liberty" etc.debate structureCon has chosen to skip an acceptance round and argue first. Therefore, in order for both sides to have an equal space of argument, he should refrain from arguing in round 4.definitionsBecause this debate is about the meaning of words and phrases, discussion of definitions should remain open. Although I do not disagree with Con's dictionary definitions as such, I accept them only as contributing to the discussion of the words' meaning rather than as absolutely definitive."The pursuit of Happiness" resonatesThe Declaration of Independence is one of the most famous texts in the world. Even people outside the United States, with no interest in history and politics have heard of it. It is concise, moving, and its aims - equality and liberty - are entirely admirable. "The pursuit of Happiness" sounds marvellous. Without it, "life and liberty" would be a bit prosaic. Indeed, it could be the very ambiguity of the phrase that adds such poetry to the Declaration.But what does it mean exactly?Con argues that the phrase probably does have a meaning. He guesses that it "is most likely a purpose in the founders belief system". But he does not attempt to explain what that purpose might be. I invite him to make that attempt in the next round.Why was the phrase used?Con concedes that "there is no conclusive explanation to why the phrase used." However, he suggests that despite this, the phrase has meaning, and puts forward two analogies to support this argument. Firstly, he compares the Declaration to a father endowing his daughter with "the pursuit of good investments". I'm afraid that this makes no sense to me at all. How can you endow someone with the pursuit of good investments? endow (verb): give or bequeath an income or property to (a person or institution) (1)Perhaps he means he endowed her with money, freedom to spend it, and wished good investments upon her. Yes, in that example, his blessing of good fortune is indeed additional to him endowing her with money. I can't see how this sheds any light on the "pursuit of Happiness" in the Declaration, however. The Declaration speaks of the pursuit of Happiness as an unalienable Right. Not as a blessing. That is, Life and Liberty are the unalienable rights, and their purpose is the pursuit of Happiness, according to Con.Unfortunately, this explanation directly contradicts the Declaration itself, which states that "all men...are endowed...with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." The pursuit of Happiness is an unalienable Right, according to the declaration, not a purpose of other rights. Nor is it a rule or a psychological urge.Con's suggested explanation is rejected.No coherent meaning for the phrase has been presented in this debate, but its aesthetic qualities have been established. The resolution holds: "the pursuit of Happiness is more decorative than meaningful".debate conductCon chose to use most of his characters on insults and false accusations. Because I did provide evidence and argue, I only have space left to respond very briefly.Reprehensibly, Con told readers to award him 7 points because of the way I framed the debate. Such voting would be in violation of the site's rules (1).Con falsely claimed that I created new terms and conditions in Round 2. I wrote a gentle introduction because I hoped for a constructive, friendly debate. After Con's first round, I rephrased it in stronger language. The terms and conditions did not change.Con declared he deserves an extra round, because I didn't say that the first round was for acceptance. That both sides get equal space to argue is something I automatically assumed. I left it open for my opponent to argue 1st or 2nd. Con has chosen to violate a basic rule of fairness.Con accused me of "intentional lies" in representing internal and external sources. This is false at every point.(1) http://www.debate.org/help/articles/how-to-vote/ Francis Hutcheoson(1694 – 1746), the famous European-Enlightenment philosopher, wrote years before the declaration that the "pursuing happiness is the chief drive and purpose human will[Transforming Leadership: A New Pursuit of Happiness, page.2]".Norman Fiering, a specialist historian, has described Hutcheoson in a peer-reviewed work as "probably the most influential and respected moral philosopher in America in the eighteenth century[Fiering, Norman (1981). The US Declaration of Independence famously states "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." I've never understood how "the pursuit of Happiness" adds any extra meaning that isn't covered by "Liberty". So it seems to me that they just put it in because it sounds more sweeping and noble than "Life and Liberty" would on its own.Yet it does seem to be present in American culture. A writer for Time magazine described it as "a central mandate of the national character" (2)This has puzzled me for a while, actually, so I'm hoping someone will explain it all in the debate.(1) http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html(2) http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2146449-1,00.html INTRODUCTION"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." [US Declaration of Independence] Life: A principle or force that is considered to underlie the distinctive quality of animate beings.Liberty: The power to do or choose your actions.RESPONSEPro explains, "I've never understood how "the pursuit of Happiness" adds any extra meaning that isn't covered by "Liberty".