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The Contender
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Hurting Others Can Be a Good Thing

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/11/2017 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 675 times Debate No: 102553
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (1)
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Many governments, organizations, and people punish other governments, organizations, and people. The government hurts others through its military and criminal justice system. Some governments have tortured adversarial people. Organizations hurt employees or students who misbehave as members and hurt people who infringe on organizations' rights, such as copyrights, trademarks, and patents. People, such as parents, hurt members of their own family, such as their children or adolescents, who misbehave or disrespect them. These governments, organizations, and people exhibit that they believe that hurting others can be a good thing. These exhibitions suggest that hurting others actually can be a good thing.

Freedom of action, freedom in general, freedom of expression, and freedom of speech encourage the right to hurt others. Hurting others can be fun and entertaining. People can rightly derive pleasure from hurting others. Any open, prudent mind would accept the idea that hurting others can be a good thing.

I feel some people may act like hurting people, or even other life forms such as animals, can not be a good thing because the former people are afraid of getting hurt by the latter people or life forms if the latter people or life forms were to somehow get in a position where the latter people or life forms had the ability to hurt the former people and knew the former people believed that hurting the latter people or life forms can be a good thing. This fear can be insincere, illusory, or poorly reasoned.


Well as Max Weber famously put it in his 'Politics as a Vocation', "a state is a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory". Whether such a monopoly is good, naturally depends on how we define the word 'good'. The good a corrupt state exerts, is for the good of its leaders and the minority ruling classes whereas the good practiced by charities is good-for-others (often the poor and vulnerable).

Hurting others might not always be healthy for aggressors, and they might act on a false belief, believing that by hurting another they will advance their own cause when actually it causes their ruin. It again depends by which standard you measure the word 'good'. Fear is just a symptom of the impotent enduring what those with power and influence afflict on them for their own ends, their own good. If they invert this physical hurt applied onto them and call in 'bad', it is still 'good' for the dominant powers. Nietzsche raises this point. Hurting others is 'good' for whoever utilises this hurt for their own ends and goals.
Debate Round No. 1


I remind you that I'm not arguing that hurting others is always a good thing. Instead, I'm arguing that hurting others can be a good thing. I agree that for monopolies and aggressors, as well as governments, organizations, and people, hurting others is sometimes a bad thing. I agree that whether hurting others is a good or bad thing depends on other factors. There are multiple senses of "good," and I am unsure that hurting others is always good in even at least one sense of "good."

According to "Want Theory #6," an axiomatic theory I created, found at, if there is a sense of "to want" in which a person wants to do an action, then there is a sense of "should" in which he or she should do the action. Since "good" means "should," if there is a sense of "to want" in which a person wants to do an action, then there is a sense of "good" in which the case of "he or she does the action" is good. So basically, if a person wants to hurt others, then: he or she should hurt others and it is good for him or her to hurt others.

Hurting others is bad when the inflicter will be or could be hurt by the inflicted in the future in return, possibly as revenge, punishment, or self-defense. But as long as the inflicter is always secure and protected, the inflicter can hurt others as he, she, or it chooses without fear of a counterstrike. In that case, hurting others is a good thing for the inflicter.

Those who hurt others may be subject to some sort of punishment from God. But then again, those who hurt others may be subject to some sort of reward from God.

You could argue that hurting others is only good when it is done for self-defense. I would disagree with that assertion. Hurting others can be good when it is done arbitrarily, at will, or for entertainment purposes.

We should always do what we want to do, even if that means hurting others. That is plain and simple.


Well, Thrasymachus, my central question for you would be, by what standards do you define the word 'good'? In what sense do you mean it? You need a solid definition of the word 'good' for your argument to be coherent.

The muted group theory states that the dominant powers create the meanings of words by which the majority live by and obey. So, if governments and those who claim monopoly over the word 'good' (like religious organisations) define what is good, then whatever damage and hurt they inflict towards their goal is good-- usually war. It doesn't mean that this is truly 'good' for everyone.

'Want' does not equate to 'good'. This is Hume's is-ought problem. Just because I have desires (whether natural or internalised into me), does not mean that I should act upon them. I might desire genocide, it doesn't mean that I ought to enact it. And, what's more, where do these desires come from? Advertising ploys can make me desire to buy something which I don't need; it isn't necessarily good for me that I buy it or gratify these cultivated desires. It might actually harm my well-being or lead to addiction (e.g. with a desire to take drugs). Say I so wanted a TV that I stole it, harming those who got in my way. This would damage my social status, security, health (etc.) and then once I had done it, I might even come to the realisation that I didn't really want or need the TV. It was a short-term gratification, damaging my own being in the long-term.

Would it be good to hurt others if there were no negative consequences? No revenge or punishment? Find me a world where hurt doesn't cripple individual security and lead to revenge. The more you hurt people, the less stable your position is for they shall want to destroy you and will, given the chance.
Debate Round No. 2


Section 4 of the March 23, 2014 Edition of "Want Theory #6," found at, states "The term good is formally undefined." That suggests defining "good" is not worth the effort. It also suggests defining "good" is a possibly futile and unhelpful task. The meaning of "good" is intuitive and straightforward. We do not need to delve into such complicated matters. One definition that may be revealing for you, however, is the Definition of Should Be True for a Proposition, found in Section 5 of the March 23, 2014 Edition. That definition follows.

Definition of Should Be True for a Proposition. In each sense of "good," a proposition should be true if and only if the case of the proposition is good.

That definition suggests that "good" can be defined as "should."

I agree that "want" does not equate to "good." While "Want Theory #6" basically says if a person wants to do an action, then he or she should do the action, I was unable to show the basic converse of that idea to be true. For all I know, it is possible that it is not the case that if a person should do an action, then he or she wants to do the action.

While "Want Theory #6" suggests people should always do what they want to do, it also demonstrates that there are multiple senses of "should" and "to want." A person may want to run on a track and thus should in one sense each of "to want" and "should," but he or she may at the same time not want to run on the track and thus should not in another sense each of "to want" and "should." Thus, the principal that people should always do what they want to do is more complicated than it may seem.

I want to be happy and free. I want to rule the world. I want to have the right to hurt others. I want to have the right to experiment with humans, including in ways some may deem as unethical or unorthodox. I want to own my entire existence and my entire universe. These desires are right and natural.


By true, I think you must mean morally true. So, something is morally true iff the case of the proposition is good.
The issue with this seems to be that without a definition of 'good', that it is circular. It's like defining justice by saying that it is fair. No actual substance behind the words is revealed. To advance, your syntax needs the semantics behind it. How can I argue against your proposition when the good could be anything?

Your sense of 'good' seems to be born from individual anarchism in the pursuit of their desires, making hedonists of us all. Say someone wanted to have sex with someone they see on the street, that does not mean that they ought to rape them. No serious moralist would admit to this as a good moral maxim.

As for your desires, we have to ask where they arise from? If we lived in the 1400s would we want freedom, or is liberty a value instilled in us from the post-Enlightenment era? I read what you are saying as very Nietzschean, that is that the individual desires should proliferate and grow--that we have a will to power. But, just because this is natural, does not mean that we are obliged to do it. This is Moore's Naturalistic Fallacy. Just because it is natural, does not mean that it is normatively good.
Debate Round No. 3


I suppose you are right that: a thing is natural does not imply it is good. I do not believe I have made that fallacy, however.

Hurting others is a part of life. Like with many parts of life, hurting others can be good and can be bad. So, hurting others can be a good thing.

The Roman Catholic Church and other groups seem to think that being good entails being helpful, charitable, kind to all, and never hurting others. I think that being good does not entail those things. Throughout history, it seems many Roman Catholics have hurt, were mean to, or killed others, especially those in military.

It seems that sometimes a person should be "cruel to be kind," like as suggested by the song "Cruel to Be Kind" by Nick Lowe.

I feel that I would feel guilty if I genuinely and intentionally hurt or wanted to hurt another person. Perhaps I shouldn't feel that way. Perhaps I should "toughen up" and take more of what real life has to offer me by being less afraid of hurting and of wanting to hurt others. Perhaps there's another whole part of life that I'm missing out on because of my fear to hurt or to want to hurt others. Real life is supposed to be extremely dynamic, complex, and powerful.
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Debate Round No. 4
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Debate Round No. 5
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by canis 2 years ago
Ate a fish today..Had to hurt it...
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