The Instigator
Pro (for)
The Contender
Con (against)

Humans are driven by self interest or not

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/14/2018 Category: People
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 3,838 times Debate No: 118223
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
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obviously humans are driven by self interest almost everything we do is to benefit ourselves.


The resolution of this debate hinges on the very nature of human action. We are driven by the stimuli around us to act in certain ways, But not necessarily to benefit ourselves. Altruism is present in practically everything we do. It is our intuitive nature to consider the lives of others when we to perform an action, And even if we will not gain anything from performing an action, We will do it anyways. Now, My opponent is stating the case that almost all that we do is to benefit ourselves, But this argument is circular. If a person is willing to do something, Then that means that that person derives personal enjoyment from carrying out that action. People only perform actions that are pleasurable for them. This, However, Does not mean that we are exclusively aimed at our own interests. We are not driven by it. Through pathos, We, As humans, Derive an unconscious pleasure from performing just and beneficial actions unto others. It is important to note that this does not originate with self-interest, But the interest of others.
Debate Round No. 1


My opponent made a bold claim in his argument that he failed to back up at all with concrete evidence. Altruism is a self-destructing behavior that is not at all evolutionarily sensible. In any species with altruistic members and selfish members, The members who prioritized their self interests over others' wants would take advantage of the do-gooders, Causing all members of a society who "will do it anyways" even if they "will not gain anything by performing an action" to be exploited and thereby replaced by the selfish ones. My opponent should find evidence for such a bold and evolutionarily insensible claim before making it.

My opponent also claimed that "It is our intuitive nature to consider the lives of others when performing an action. " I will bring the perfect counterexample to this -- a baby, Who has not been influenced by other people and is truly performing actions intuitively and without outside influences. Babies, The most natural form of humans, Don't have the capacity to care about others. They act totally in their own self-interests, Crying when they need food and laughing when someone makes them happy. Therefore, I would argue that the intuitive nature of humans is to be totally selfish and uncaring rather than altruistic and good.

My opponent further stated that humans derive unconscious pleasure from being good to others, Which is an example of the interests of others. This is really just another example of self interests. If humans were altruistic and unselfish, They would do things not because of the unconscious pleasure they derive but because of the pleasure the recipient of the kindness gets.

History itself proves that humans are selfish and uncaring. Since time immemorial, Humans have been fighting wars. Whether over food, Money, Or land, These wars ravage humans and are terrible for the world as a whole. However, They are beneficial to the winner of the war, Who is obviously acting in his own self interests. If people were altruistic, Wars wouldn't happen, Because everybody would be caring enough that they wouldn't want to hurt others. There would be no lawsuits, No crime, And no problems in the world. In order for my opponent to prove that people are naturally altruistic, He must bring concrete evidence and counterexamples that prove that altruistic people are willing to fight wars, And commit crimes.


My opponent has made some valid points regarding my consideration of altruism in my first argument. Yet, My opponent's claim that self-interested individuals will take advantage of altruistic individuals is false. In the context of evolution, There is no doubt that individual altruists have a selective disadvantage compared to individuals who act in the interest of themselves. However, From a selectionist perspective, We must consider the two distinct populations of altruists and self-interested individuals separately. A population consisting of only self-interested individuals has a selective disadvantage when compared to a population of altruistic individuals. Not only will the self-interested population be disconnected, But it will also be more likely to be taken advantage of. Contained within this assessment is the fact that altruistic individuals may observe the self-interested actions of others and may be inclined not to perform actions to benefit them, Thus the differentiation of two groups. The phenomenon of altruism is present in the mainstream theory of Darwinian evolution, And my argument parallels scientific evidence regarding Darwin's theory. My opponent failed to consider the state of the two groups of people and only considered the state of individuals.

My opponent brings the example of a baby, The quintessential human, To counter my claim that we always consider the lives of others. There is no doubt that babies can be considered amoral animals when first introduced to the world around them. Freud has characterized babies as animals that only care about themselves, Yet new findings have shown that babies have a rudimentary sense of morality. Babies need certain care because of their fragile health at a young age, And it would be ridiculous for them to sacrifice their life for the effect of not being an annoyance. In this situation, The only way a baby can act is in its own self interests, As it is impossible for babies to act in the interests of others. Others would receive no benefit from a baby attempting to consider their lives. In addition, Significant evidence is present that babies cry more when hearing the cry of another human rather than a cry of their own. This agrees with my previous argument that others cannot be bettered by the altruism of a baby because babies are incapable of acting upon something; they merely react. I nullify my opponent's argument stating that it is a biological necessity to sustain human life for babies to act in self interest, And due to the circumstances, We shall discuss fully developed humans from this point forward.

In response to my opponent's claim that the unconscious please we derive form being kind to others is just another example of our action in self-interest, I state that it is our instinct to better the lives of others for the good of the human race. The evolutionary standpoint that was mentioned before certainly has valid territory in this argument. I would argue that through acts of kindness, Unconscious pleasure is simply a consequence, But not a motivating factor. We act for the greater good of the human race, Not in the interests of ourselves, And as a whole, Society benefits from our actions.

Regarding my opponent's discussion of wars and their roots: We can often get lost in bureaucratic and governmental aspects of war, But considering individual viewpoints in war is key to this resolution, Notably different from the perspective of evolution. The counterexample I bring to my opponent's argument is the phenomenon of treason. In wars, Most obviously fight for the side that they are a part of. This is due to the fact that they are behaviorally conditioned to fight for their own group, As an act of supposed patriotism. However, Humans who are not completely influenced by media and other biased sources act for what's right. If a human is not influenced by anything concerning the matter at hand, They will make a decision supporting a side, Solely following their moral compass. This same phenomenon can also occur in the form of a traitor, Or someone who commits treason. Someone who has not been influenced as much as the others may make a moral decision, And may decide to betray his/her own group. Humans instinctively fight for what's right, And that's what conflicts boil down to. Soldiers in a war are trying to fight for what's right. Now, The overall effect of this may not reflect the reasoning for their actions, But their intent is set nonetheless. Our moral compass can sometimes be disguised as mere selfishness or greed, But these two disguises hide our true intent as humans: to better the world through the betterment of others.
Debate Round No. 2
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Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by IsaiahxWood 3 years ago
I think that in the end, People are self driven for most things. There are a rare bunch of people that things, Not for there benefit but for the benefit of others. But mostly people do things for selfgain.
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