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The Contender
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You are in a rewarding but challenging relationship, do you choose to wipe out the bad memories?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/19/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,247 times Debate No: 49505
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (5)
Votes (1)




Full Proposition: You are 26 years old and in a rewarding but challenging relationship with your significant other of 3 years. You fight a little more than the average couple but are in love with each other despite the sometimes tense & hostile environments. Given that you have the ability to wipe your memory of the bad parts of your relationship never to arise again, do you choose to do so?

The opposition can choose to defend either side and I will then argue against the side my opposition has chosen.

Round 1 is to answer any logistical questions of how the debate ought proceed.


I accept the challenge upon invitation.

My resolution, for which I'll be PRO so that the audience will not be confused for whom to vote is this:

One should not, under the circumstances described, opt to remove the bad memories of a relationship.

Since this is a very hypothetical debate, I propose we can do without "sources". IF applicable sources are available, I would however allow them from either side, but I think they should not be compulsory.

If you agree, I await your opening argument. If you don't, let's take it to the comments.

Round 2 for opening arguments, no rebuttals.
Round 3 for rebuttals and new arguments.
Round 4 for final rebuttals, defense and closing statements.

Debate Round No. 1


I would like to thank my opponent for partaking in this debate. I will be arguing for why, in the said circumstances, wiping out the bad memories in this relationship are preferential.

As an overview, I propose two philosophical frameworks for this round: Consequentialism and Utilitarianism. Consequentialism determines whether a certain action is right or wrong simply based off the consequences of said action. Utilitarianism states that the morally right action is the action that produces the most good. In this round, I will prove that wiping out your memory in such a relationship is beneficial not only under the consequentialist framework but also under the utilitarian framework. I welcome my opponent to engage and disprove me on these frameworks and propose an alternative framework if he/she so wishes.

The first point I would like to bring up is:

[1] - Psychological Stability Of You & Your Partner

As we can see today, there are an innumerable examples of individuals who are involved in emotionally and physically abusive relationships, however, it is important to note that not all of these begin this way. Often, what is deemed a "stable" relationship might, over time, turn into an abusive relationship if the psychology of both partners do not perfectly align. In this scenario, given that there is such emotional and psychological stress being placed on both you and your partner over past instances and events (whether it be cases ranging from if they unintentionally took advantage of you to painful memories of close breakups) it is better to have the "bad" or "painful" memories removed for the psychological and emotional stability of you and your partner. The lack of such bad memories places a greater amount of trust in your parter, which in turn accounts for a better relationship as there is no fear, inhibition, worry or doubt. For example: Say one has a painful memory of when his girlfriend told him that she danced with another man at a club, however, no matter how truly remorseful his girlfriend might be that she did that, let's assume that the boyfriend is not able to dissociate this memory. This in turn places a strain on their relationship as it is a source of emotional stress for both partners. However, say such painful yet innocuous memories were removed, the source of the emotional stress is removed; thus effectively removing the doubt in the boyfriend's head and allowing for trust to build up in their relationship. Under the consequentialist framework and utilitarian framework, this provides the most beneficial outcome as both parties have maximal benefit.

[2] - Future Of The Relationship

Wiping out the unwanted memories provide a better scenario for the future of the relationship. This can be warranted by observing the interactions between these two individuals in the future. At a point where there are no 'restraints' on the relationship, for example, hindering memories, it makes it easier for both parties to enjoy each others' company. In addition, this removes the hostile environment which they might come home to, thereby not only providing a more stable environment emotionally but also psychologically. Lets consider the impacts of how the future of the relationship could play out. On my side, there are no net negatives of losing the bad/painful memories; however, it effectively removes the past from being brought up or the same discussions from reoccurring over and over. Consider an alternative (albeit extreme) example: If a man were to find his girlfriend in bed with another man and kill him out of rage, it might be looked upon as retributive justice even though his actions were immoral. Say for example, if we were to wipe the boyfriend's memory under such a circumstance, he would continue living peacefully and not commit the crime he otherwise would have. Therefore, under the consequentialist framework we see that there are less harmful consequences (long term) on my side. In addition, under the utilitarian framework we see that 'the good' is maximized.

Finally its important to consider that the proposition stated that "such events would not arise again", this is not to say the couple won't argue again but it is to say that these painful, and heart-wrenching memories are not accessible to both parties in so far as they harm the relationship. Therefore, by removing (erasing) them, the partners can focus more on themselves and each other to ensure a successful relationship.


I thank my opponent for this introduction into the topic. I will, however, restrict myself to my own opening argument, and comment on his interpretation in the next round, so we have the same chance to react.

So let's have a look at the resolution:
We have a man or woman of 26 years who entered a relationship with 23. So, this person is not very experienced with relationships, never having been in a very long relationship (6 years or more).
Both partners are in love with each other.
Both partners fight more than average, leading to tense, and even hostile moments and elongated phases ("environment" meaning something that exists for a longer time).
One partner has the ability to wipe their memory. The resolution is quite clear that this ability only pertains to the person themselves, but "your" is a little ambiguous, so we'll have to examine both cases. The important part is that the other partner and people in general apparently do not have the ability to initiate such a mind wipe.

So why NOT erase the memories of bad things that happened?

Point 1: Experience and long-term relationships

The basis for this relationship is two people being in love with each other. We have a very important differentiation to make here: "being in love" and "loving" (i.e. caring).
"Being in love" is closely associated with desire, it's this burning, out-of-control-feeling that overcomes people on first sight. Neurologically, we consider this to be "basic-level-processing" of "reward" [1]. It's attraction, desire, "romantic love" and needs to be set apart from "bonding", the "long-term attachment".

"Being in love" has signs of an addiction, and doesn't last long, as science has proved [2]. While short-term-rewarding, this is the least stable grounds for a relationship.
Relationships that want to endure need to find other ground than just attraction and desire. But long-term attachment is neuronally linked to memory: "Love and attachment may involve both high level cognitive-affective processing (eg, concepts of the other and memory)" [1].
Memory involved in "being in love" or "romantic love" is mostly this: looking at a person you're in love with stimulates a part of the brain that emits hormones which give you a pleasant feeling [1, fig. 1]. Long-term bonding, however, involves different parts of the brain, too, where situations are stored.

In order for a relationship to last - which is desirable for two persons in love - the relationship must be transformed from the initial "being in love" phase to long-term bonding. Relationships are, after all, not only about feelings, they are a lot about practical matters, like "Who goes to the bathroom first in the morning?", "Who' the provider for the family, or do we both contribute evenly?" These are normally the point of arguments and "fights", as the addictive "being in love" phase is filled with selfish feelings like "possessiveness, jealousy, fear of rejection, and separation anxiety" [2] in conflict with feelings of "a powerful sense of empathy toward their beloved" [2].
Overcoming these conflicts is what creates long-term bonding and makes the relationship closer: "Going through some sort of adversity with another person tends to intensify romantic attraction. Central dopamine may be responsible for this reaction, too" [2]

So, if we chose to forget about the bad moments, our relationships never evolve, and ultimately, never last, which leads to separation, possibly depression - which is neurologically linked to the same regions of the brain [1], and lots of pain.

Also, we tend to love people for their mistakes. This is, for example, a central part of the film "Hellboy", in which it is put most brilliantly: "We admire people for their qualities, but we love them for their defects". If we forget about these defects and the conflicts arising from them, our love might never reach its full extent.

We learn a lot from mistakes. And we should always look beyond this one relationship. The person in question is only 26 years old. If the partner were to die in an accident, there would still be room for a new relationship. But if we erase all prior memories of bad things, we will have learned nothing from this relationship, and we'll be making the same mistakes all over again. Hindering your own development and character growth by eliminating learning experiences and "growing pains" is undesirable, as it keeps you less adaptive to new problems and more helpless in times of trouble, because you'll have to "reinvent the wheel" every time you run into the same trouble again.

Point 2: Incongruous memory

So, if one partner has the ability to wipe only their own memory of the bad things that happened in a relationship where both argue "more than average", what would happen?
The other partner will remember, and if they are in an aggressive mood anyway, it's very likely they will "rub in" previous fights and bring them up again. By wiping the own memory of these events, will you not provoke further agitation in your partner? Will your partner not believe you're either making fun of them or actually losing your mind?
Consider this example: the couple has a huge fight about a trivial matter. You choose to forget it. Your partner apologizes after a long time: "Honey, about this silly fight between us about the blablah ... I'm so sorry!"
What will you do? Admit you forgot it? Then your partner will think that either a) you don't love them as much, because how could you ever forget something that wound her up so much or b) you're just being condescending, PRETENDING to have forgotten or c) you're suffering from Alzheimer's.
Or will you FAKE a memory? Which means lying to your partner. Which means, as you have no memory of the event at all, you will finally be found out, and we arrive at you belatedly admitting you had forgotten. Now, you're also a liar.
All of these are likely to lead to even more fights, actually worsening the generally hostile climate, putting the constant strain of one question right in the middle of your home: "What DOES my partner remember AT ALL?"

Communication is key to overcoming conflicts. Communication only works if both sides know what they are talking about. If one side forgets, communication fails, the conflict can never be resolved.

Okay, so we erase BOTH sides' memories, right?
That will not solve the problem under point 1, but it should eliminate the problem about incongruous memory, right?
No, as fights will not take place only at home. Our couple argues a little more than the average couple, which most likely takes their fights outside of the privacy of the bedroom. Others will be witness to it. Maybe friends over a shared meal. So, if both partners have forgotten, they will come across as evenly odd with their friends: "Yesterday, they were fighting and throwing dishes, and now it's as if nothing ever happened. They are WIERD!" - "I offered support to my best friend, but she claims nothing happened. I think he's pressuring her into playing nice. He's totally threatening her! I'll call the police!"

So, erasing the memories brings new problems.

Point 3: Moral implications of erasing your significant other's memories

Erasing the memories of someone "never to arise again" is problematic. Even if your partner agrees, they won't remember having given their consent, because that would be odd: "I remember you wiped my memory of something and I agreed, but WHAT was so terrible? What have we done? Did we kill someone?" It would lead straight to paranoia, as is usual with memory loss. Missing parts are filled with made-up stories. Paranoia will kill the relationship, as trust is essential. Our couple is fighting a lot already. It will only get worse.

And without consent? It would be a form of rape.


I would like the audience NOT to award points for sources, as I declared those non-compulsory. Thank you!
Debate Round No. 2


Daimvad forfeited this round.


Even though my opponent forfeited this round, I want to share my thoughts on his arguments. Hopefully, he will return for a final round.


Both Consequentialism and Utilitarianism have been proved insufficient in morally ambiguous problems.

Consequentialism fails if the consequences are partly beneficial and partly harmful.
Utilitarianism fails in that sometimes, we are forced to choose between to equal evils.

Psychological Stability:
It is well known that memory loss is a mental disorder, be it as "Dissociative Amnesia" ( ) or "Major Neurocognitive Disorder", formerly "dementia" ( ), including Alzheimer's disease.
It is evident that inducing a mental disorder is NOT beneficial to psychological stability, nor is it beneficial or for a greater "good" to have more mentally disturbed people running around.

My opponent also concedes that not ALL relationships begin "stable" and then take a turn for the worse. Thus his solution is not applicable to all scenarios, and I say that in this particular case, it cannot be decided, as the beginnings of the relationship were not predefined.
So, this is not a solution for this problem. My opponent admits that there is chance that this relationship does not fit his condition of a relationship that's worsening over time. He has not offered how erasing your memory is a solution for couples that started out "abusive".
I propose that in either case, removing the memories of troublesome incidents will only lead to one thing: a repetition of these events, as taking away the memories will effectively "reset" the partners, not CHANGE them, so history will be bound to repeat itself. This leads to an infinite regression, as the couple would then have to erase the memory again, to a point where the relationship becomes dependent on the ability to wipe memories, which is definitely not a solid foundation for a relationship.

Ultimately, the situation will thus not change, which means there is no benefit at all, because the dissociation will trap the couple in a personal "time loop". If the partner cheated on the young man before, she will do so again if her memory is wiped. If only HIS memory is wiped, she will most certainly continue her affair as she has no negative consequences to fear and thus has the greater benefit from being courted by two men, knowing full well that her partner will forget the next time she is caught in the act, too.

Future Of The Relationship:
"On my side, there are no net negatives of losing the bad/painful memories"
Again, memory loss is a mental disorder, an illness of the mind. So it is by definition a "net negative". Suppressing painful memories is not unknown. It's called "repression" and was among the first symptoms of mental disorders ever to be discovered and discussed by Sigmund Freud, thus they are the foundation of modern psychiatry ( ), and one of the foremost symptoms of traumatic reactions. There is no benefit in a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
If we do not erase the memory from the brain of the partner, too, she is most likely to bring the topic up at some point. In that case, the man will be helpless and irritated, causing massive stress, as he can't for the love of it remember.
IF we DO remove her memories as well, what about the lover? Will he not insist that he has a relationship with her, too? Will he take kindly to being "forgotten"? No, he will most likely be driven into extreme reactions. Many crimes spring from jealousy, and he might kill the woman and her partner out of revenge for being forgotten (I appeal to this extreme in extension of the example my opponent brought up). Or do we wipe his memories, too? Then why not erase everybody's memory? Why not let everyone forget anything displeasing to the young man our resolution is about? Because it's wrong and not beneficial.
Memory is important, because we learn only from memory.

"Finally its important to consider that the proposition stated that "such events would not arise again", this is not to say the couple won't argue again but it is to say that these painful, and heart-wrenching memories are not accessible to both parties in so far as they harm the relationship."
"wipe your memory of the bad parts of your relationship never to arise again" clearly only extends to the MEMORIES that will never arise again, not the EVENTS.

So I say that erasing the memories will only lead to one thing: the couple will never learn, and they will repeat the same mistakes over and over again instead of working on their relationship, which means both make the same harmful experiences several times, which must be considered a net negative, surely.

I DO hope my opponent returns for the final round.
Debate Round No. 3


Daimvad forfeited this round.



I extend all arguments and hand this over to the audience.
Debate Round No. 4
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by The_Scapegoat_bleats 7 years ago
Sadly, something must be broken with this debate. I cannot post my entry for the next round. My opponent forfeited, but I would have loved to continue.
Please, if this ever goes up for vote, don't assume I forfeited. I didn't.
Posted by Daimvad 7 years ago
You still can! No one has accepted the challenge yet.
Posted by The_Scapegoat_bleats 7 years ago
I would have loved to give this a shot.
Posted by Daimvad 7 years ago
Okay! Please accept the debate and we can get started with Round 2! I will be arguing that wiping out the bad memories will be more beneficial for the relationship.
Posted by rabbitcase 7 years ago
I would argue against
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Defro 7 years ago
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: FF

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