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9
4
agree disagree
Debate Score:13
Arguments:14
Total Votes:15
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 agree (7)
 
 disagree (3)

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atypican(4878) pic



Good is that which is conducive to the well being of conscious creatures

This is something I agree with Sam Harris (In his book "The Moral landscape") about. I disgree that we come to adopt this due to what we learn by applying the scientific method but, that's a different debate.

agree

Side Score: 9
VS.

disagree

Side Score: 4
1 point
Side: agree
Cartman(18192) Disputed
1 point

Or if you don't follow god, right?

Side: agree
1 point

Our moral sense is a consequence of our evolution and development. It serves a practical function, namely it enables our perpetuity as individuals and as a species. This indicates morality not as the penultimate mechanism, but hitherto as the more successful possibility in our evolutionary trajectory. So long as morality persists, it is logical to direct it towards its optimal functionality; being intentional about defining "good" in terms of its consequences follows from that. However, I think morality itself to be a tool of limited utility; an assessment of preferability absent the attachment of visceral judgement is more impartial and effective.

Side: agree
1 point

Being that we are a social species, morality may only exist when other sentient beings exist in proximity.

Side: agree

For once Atypican makes an assertion that is totally sensible, even if he had to borrow from Sam Harris to do it :P

In all seriousness though, we are social creatures. Most of us are a direct part of society and our actions can have consequences. Helping out our fellows can improve society. And if you must be selfish about it and ask "what's in it for me?"....first of all, grow the hell up, but secondly: an improvement in society can improve your life too. Its win-win. Even for self-centered pricks.

Side: agree
1 point

I would so like to have a public debate with Sam Harris. Preferably here at CreateDebate! I've been trying to pick a fight with him on twitter but he doesn't seem to be taking the bait. Maybe if I can get people to re-tweet my direct challenges to him, I could lure him to debate for a bit here. It would be a nice boost for this site and might help me meet people to help me with my project.

Probably not gonna happen, but fun to think it might. I thought my essay attacked his thesis from more angles than the winning essay of The Moral Landscape Challenge. Plus my essay had at least one knock down argument (which I tweeted to him and he acknowledged as clever). Alas, both Sam and his single judge (represented in the official contest rules as "a panel of qualified judges") Russell Blackford, have serious vested interest in their anti-religion rhetoric. Had I known Blackford was to be the sole contest judge I would have never expected my essay to have a chance. Why? Because my essay challenges sentiments that Sam and Russell share. Expressly their naive "anti-religion" stance.

Had my essay won he might not have failed in his attempt to produce a dialog interesting to more than current and former philosophy class attendees, and Patrons of his upcoming "spirituality" talks. It may not matter though because he's setting himself up as a "spiritual guide" who's ostensibly "not religious". His flock of paying "non-religious" congregants won't mind, maybe he's had it with engaging opponents by now?

I went from admiring him for daring to challenge his own group, to thinking he's nothing but a wannabe guru!

Side: agree
2 points

There is no objective way to say that something is good or bad. It is only your opinion that good is that which is conducive to the well being of conscious creatures. There is also no way you could disprove that good is that which maximizes the number of potholes in New York or good is that which maximizes the number of chickens in the world. Why should good be that is conducive to the well being of conscious creatures? Why shouldn't it be that which is conducive to the well being of ALL creatures? Why can't it be that which maximizes the complexity of the universe? Why don't we just define good as the actions that are taken and bad as the actions that aren't taken? That would instantly maximize the good in the world.

Making statements about what is or should be good and what is or should be bad is silly. If you had any way of comparing these statements it would beg the question of why the metric you chose is the one we should use. You may say we are social creatures and therefore we should try to improve society. Well just because we are social creatures doesn't mean we should be.

My argument is known as the is-ought problem. There is no way to go from what is to what should be. Therefore there is no objective way to define good or bad.

Side note: While there is no way to objectively define good, I have personally defined it as that which maximizes the utility of all life. I, of course, cannot justify my opinion in any objective way and neither can you justify yours. I have chosen it because it makes me feel good. In the end, that is what will define good and evil for everyone, they will choose the system of morality that makes them feel good.

Side: disagree
Jace(4706) Clarified
1 point

I concur that morality is innately subjective. That said, I would challenge your presumption that this renders the consideration of morality "silly". Morality is a personal and social instrument, and the moral sense is itself a (by)product of human evolution. This imbues it with some legitimacy in comporting and assessing human thought and action. Further, a metric may be selected for which is optimally objective; the moral judgement attached to that metric is a mechanism for securing compliance to the objective metric (i.e. that which is objectively optimal for individual and/or collective perpetuity becomes subjectively optimal as well).

All of that being said, I would further dispute your assessment that everyone will choose a system of morality based upon a hedonistic impulse. For instance, I myself do not personally ascribe to any system of morality.

Side: agree
nobodyknows(745) Clarified
1 point

I concur that morality is innately subjective. That said, I would challenge your presumption that this renders the consideration of morality "silly". Morality is a personal and social instrument, and the moral sense is itself a (by)product of human evolution. This imbues it with some legitimacy in comporting and assessing human thought and action.

I meant the quest for an objective morality is silly. I do not think morality in general is silly. In fact, you can see the I have arbitrarily chosen a system of morality for myself. I do not think it is silly to have a system of morality. I think it is silly to compare systems of morality because any comparison will use a metric that is entirely arbitrary.

Further, a metric may be selected for which is optimally objective; the moral judgement attached to that metric is a mechanism for securing compliance to the objective metric (i.e. that which is objectively optimal for individual and/or collective perpetuity becomes subjectively optimal as well).

I don't know what you mean by "optimally objective". It sound like you think there is some objective means for evaluating systems of morality, which is obviously false.

All of that being said, I would further dispute your assessment that everyone will choose a system of morality based upon a hedonistic impulse. For instance, I myself do not personally ascribe to any system of morality.

The only think I pretend to know is that people always maximize their own utility. "Hedonistic impulse" is a poor way to define utility. The feeling one gets when sending money to the poor and sick in a far away country is not usually defined as a hedonistic impulse, but it is utility. When I say people will choose whatever system of morality that makes them feel good, I truly mean they will pick the one that maximizes their own utility, wether it is an altruistic or self-interested utility. You choose to have no system of morality because it satisfies you more than any choice. Others choose to believe in Islam, Kantianism, Christianity, etc not because they "know"(from your nihilist profile image I imagine you doubt the existence of true knowledge as much as I) them to be true but because they feel that belief makes them better off than any other belief. That is why faith is so popular. I'd continue my argument but I fear it would only lead to the questioning of the existence of true knowledge and the nature of what we really use in the absence of true knowledge to make inferences.

Side: agree
atypican(4878) Disputed
1 point

There is no objective way to say that something is good or bad.

I'm not sure there is an objective way to say anything.

It is only your opinion that good is that which is conducive to the well being of conscious creatures.

Not true. Others share this opinion with me.

There is also no way you could disprove that good is that which maximizes the number of potholes in New York or good is that which maximizes the number of chickens in the world.

You would be surprised the silly things that can be proven. Proof consists merely of what is convincing.

Why should good be that is conducive to the well being of conscious creatures? Why shouldn't it be that which is conducive to the well being of ALL creatures?

I see the first option as practical and the second as presuming omnipotence

Why can't it be that which maximizes the complexity of the universe? Why don't we just define good as the actions that are taken and bad as the actions that aren't taken?

That was actually very entertaining to imagine a morality based on "actions taken=good/actions not taken=bad I thought as I was typing this.

That would instantly maximize the good in the world.

I'm just gonna hafta call bullshit there

Making statements about what is or should be good and what is or should be bad is silly.

I giggled just reading that one. I wanna quote that guy who said "the serious cannot be understood without the laughable", or something.

If you had any way of comparing these statements it would beg the question of why the metric you chose is the one we should use.

No it wouldn't. Didn't you just see me compare those other two statements presented as moral first principles? :)

You may say we are social creatures and therefore we should try to improve society. Well just because we are social creatures doesn't mean we should be.

I agree. The only reason we should try to improve or even maintain society (or anything else) is if we value it.

My argument is known as the is-ought problem. There is no way to go from what is to what should be. Therefore there is no objective way to define good or bad.

Despite the mighty effort spent staring at Hume's Abyss, I don't think it's all that hard, to get to an ought from an is. The great philosopher missed what should be obvious to everyone, for what it IS that we value spells out what ought to be done. :) (you inspired cheesy poetry today)

Side note: While there is no way to objectively define good, I have personally defined it as that which maximizes the utility of all life. I, of course, cannot justify my opinion in any objective way and neither can you justify yours.

I initially misread utility as "unity" and I was like...WHAT am I gonna say to that! whew!

I have chosen it because it makes me feel good. In the end, that is what will define good and evil for everyone, they will choose the system of morality that makes them feel good.

I think that concern for well being is a better grounding for morality than concern for pleasure for it's own sake. Maybe I only think that because it feels good to. I expressed this before ala

"either you are motivated by love, or you are a slave to pleasure and pain"

Side: agree
nobodyknows(745) Disputed
1 point

I'm just gonna hafta call bullshit there

If I defined good as the actions taken and bad as the actions no taken then there would be no way to improve the amount of good in the world. Therefore, that would instantly maximize the good in the world.

No it wouldn't. Didn't you just see me compare those other two statements presented as moral first principles? :)

Why is practicality something to be valued in a moral first principle?

Despite the mighty effort spent staring at Hume's Abyss, I don't think it's all that hard, to get to an ought from an is. The great philosopher missed what should be obvious to everyone, for what it IS that we value spells out what ought to be done. :) (you inspired cheesy poetry today)

You seem to misunderstand. The question is what ought to be, not what we ought to do to accomplish some goal. There is no way to come to the conclusion "we ought to value the well being of conscious creatures" from what is.

I think that concern for well being is a better grounding for morality than concern for pleasure for it's own sake. Maybe I only think that because it feels good to. I expressed this before ala

"either you are motivated by love, or you are a slave to pleasure and pain"

I am from a fairly conservative upbringing so I am prone to oversimplify my arguments. I should have said "they will choose the system of morality that maximizes their utility. I also have come to the realization that many people define utility as self-interested pleasure, which is not the utility I refer to. Utility is more general. It encompasses all the altruistic and self-interested pleasures, all the pleasures derived from the senses as well as the pleasure from our thoughts and emotions. The good feeling one gets from helping others is utility. The feeling of accomplishment from beating a game is utility. The feeling from posting a selfie is utility. Love is utility. All these result in some chemical reactions in your brain that your consciousness enjoys and want to maximize. Therefore, people will choose the system of morality that maximizes their own individual utility function.

The economist in me says "the law of diminishing marginal utility states that each additional dollar of goods I purchase will bring less utility than the last". I must then conclude that it is in my own interest to derive as much utility from other's pleasure as I do from my own, because I would be able to purchase more utility per dollar by giving to the worst off people in the world. Of course, I have not been able to do that yet and I live a life much more physically comfortable than the worst off people. But I aspire to be less "selfish" for "selfish" (utility maximizing) reasons.

Side: disagree