Instigator / Con

Resolved: Individuals have a moral obligation to assist people in need.


All stages have been completed. The voting points distribution and the result are presented below.

Voting points

With 5 votes and 2 points ahead, the winner is ...

More details
Publication date
Last update date
Time for argument
Three days
Voting system
Open voting
Voting period
One month
Point system
Winner selection
Rating mode
Characters per argument
Contender / Pro
~ 139 / 5,000

R1 - Con waives, pro posts case
R2 - Con case + rebuttals, pro rebuttals
R3 - Con rebuttals, pro conclusion
R4 - con conclusion, pro waives

Round 1
Good luck to my opponent
Why make Round 1 jampacked with jargon? Let's just give you a straight up passionate speech.
Theme tune to listen to if you want:

You better know I am not the pushover I used to be. I know you can out-structure me, I will out-finesse you and make it work.

Brutal Start to a Worthwhile Battle

Hello reader, you're probably a human being or something as capable as humans right now are at understanding logic and even morality, since morality is necessitated once you comprehend game theory enough, if you want your community, tribe or species to thrive against the others (and even optimally thrive in and of itself versus its optimal potential).

Let's start by conceding many things that most in the Pro position on this resolution don't, being brutal to Con in ways usually only the Con side is to Pro and keep at it until we win. That's the plan anyway, however it would be foolish to say that all things go to plan in life and that is the key to comprehending why you can fully support Con's side and justify selfish action in the face of a being that is in need.

So, what are we conceding? Well, firstly morality is subjective and have no real objective roots whatsoever. If you don't care about the 'petty subjective waa waa appeal' to emotion, you're not mature but you're just a psychopath. There is no in between and what the Pro side does wrong in these debates is to play nice when the other side tears them to shreds with cunning and unfair framing of burden of proof (unsurprisingly, since they are defending psychopathy as a genuinely well-grounded mentality to maintain).

Now that we got that out of the way, let's get on with the debate.


"But we can't help everyone, and aren't needs kinda arbitrary?"

Morality is subjective and the obligation to determine moral compass orientation in a scenario will always need to be fundamentally grounded in emotion. If you do not feel empathy or even care about your own self-preservation to any significant degree, you are even beyond a psychopath and it will become very difficult to justify win-win reasoning. Thus let's stop for a second and consider what subjectivity is and whether that disqualifies it.

You know that feeling you get when you imagine some sick fuck molesting some minor you cherish? No, seriously, I know I am appealing to your emotion but I want you to really feel that emotion, you know the kind you get when your best friend is starving, crying her eyes out and all the millionaire passing by her does is go 'My money, my Libtertarian freedom to not give you a cent, fuck social welfare it's evil charity by my consent only hip hip hooray!'. I want you to really picture her (or him if you have a male best friend) crying, desperate and in need of help. The problem with this debate is that Con is going to say I am appealing to emotion and expects me to cower out. I will not fucking cower out. I have been bullied, seen bullying even been a fucking cowardly bystander. I admit it. I feel sick for it. I changed as I grew. I would change shit, snitch even to get things done if I knew then what I know now. It burns. That absolute pain, grief, empathy, regret, self-loathing... You can't describe it in words even, not to anywhere near to how it feels. Whether it's been a user on this website needing rescuing or guidance, or someone IRL who I can help, I am obligated morally to do so because I am not an emotionally devoid psychopath, nor a completely self-centred narcissist.

Do I give every dollar away? No. I need things too. My needs must be cared for as well. This is why left-wing philosophy is undeniably morally superior to right-wing philosophy, even if neither works in full practise. We must understand that if our needs are met and another being, even a cat, needs our assistance it's up to us to do what is expedient enough to let us still fulfil our own needs and the needs of others who also have needs, and balance it out on a never-endingly-complex web of moral scales and ethical jiu jitsu.


So, why care at all what others need?

You don't have to. You can be a morally devoid psychopath or wilfully fail to meet your moral obligations as you overvalue your own needs versus there's constantly as you're a narcissist. You can be a whole variety of morally contemptuous people but don't for one damn second think that you have defeated the case for the moral obligation being there in the first place. 

If you choose to ignore your obligation to go to Mecca, it doesn't mean it's not a requirement as a Muslim, it even says in the Qur'an that if you really can't make it, either due to financial or health contraints (or any other) then Allah will forgive you. I'm not preaching Islam here, I am trying to explain that all moral codes (and literally, I say all) are rooted in an axiom that the first thing in moral obligations is to weight things up against one's own needs. This doesn't mean you're immoral, it means you're a human being in a world where you too must be cared for and nurtured. If, once your needs and wants are met, you refuse to give back to the world and community, you're not defeating this resolution, you're just amoral, if not completely immoral. So, either you admit this resolution is true, or you don't believe in morality to begin with and that is what I turn back onto Con. How do you like that inverted Kritik? Try me.

Round 2
To negate is to deny the truth of, so the SUFFICIENT AFF BURDEN is to prove that individuals have a moral obligation to assist people in need. While there are different ways to reach that conclusion, such as by using impact turns or defense, the end result is an affirmation of the resolutional statement. If the aff can’t prove that individuals have moral obligations to those in need, you negate. My thesis is that individuals do not have moral obligations.

C1: Ontology. The aff relies on individuals having a moral obligation but individuals don’t exist in the sense they say they do. I don’t deny that there are physical entities but individual identity doesn’t exist thus neither does a moral code apply to an individual. Thompson: 
(David L. Thompson, Body and the Unity of Action, 2011)  

A perceived object ... is experienced ... as a unity. It is given as one integrated thing that has other sides than the side currently perceived –otherwise it would be only a two dimensional appearance, a facade. In experiencing it as real, I perceive it as more than what appears from my current perspective ... the unity of the thing is paralleled by the unity of the perceiving body – the "lived body" or "body-subject." ... The seeing from different perspectives, the tasting, the hearing, etc. must all be done by the one, unified experiencing body. I must be one body for the cup to be experienced as one, real thing. ... I am not currently seeing the cup from the other side; it is the potential for the body to look at it from other sides that constitutes the cup with the meaning "real object," as opposed to a mere appearance. ... the lived body is not itself an object perceived. It is on the side of the perceiving. ...
This means a) individuals are merely the extension of perception and b) there is no abstract individual acting based on ethics but rather only the unification of the lived body. Even if individuals do exist, this identity isn’t static and can’t be said to have a moral obligation. We can’t have normative claims about an individual. White: 
Stephen K. White. As the World Turns: Ontology and Politics in Judith Butler. Polity, Vol. 32, No. 2 (Winter, 1999), pp. 155-177
ontologies emerge from the conjunction of two insights: acceptance of the idea that … fundamental conceptualizations of self, ... are contestable, and awareness that such conceptualizations are nevertheless unavoidable for any sort of reflective ethical and political life. ... ontologies do not proceed by categorical positings of, ... human nature or telos, ... Rather, they offer figurations of human being in terms of certain existential realities, ... These figurations are accounts of what it is to be a certain sort of creature: one entangled with language; conscious that it will die; possessing, despite its entanglement and limitedness, the capacity for radical novelty; and, finally, giving definition to itself against some ultimate background or "source" that evokes awe, wonder, or reverence. ...
This negates the truth of the resolution because a) individual identity doesn’t exist and thus the resolutional statement individuals have a moral obligation is nonsensical and b) even if individuals did exist they would be incapable of having moral obligation because the contents of their agency is always changing.  
And this precludes the AC because the way we construct the individual is a prerequisite to having moral obligations. Butler:
 Giving an Account of Oneself. Judith Butler [Maxine Elliot Professor of rhetoric at Berkley] University press. 
before we can speak about a self who is capable of choice, we must first consider how that self is formed. ... the sphere in which the subject is said to emerge is ‘‘ontological’’ in the sense that the phenomenal world of persons and things becomes available only after a self has been formed ... To describe this scene is to take leave of the descriptive field in which a ‘‘self ’’ is formed and bounded in one place and time and considers its ‘‘objects’’ and ‘‘others’’ in their locatedness elsewhere. The possibility of [ethics] … presumes ... the self and its ... world have ... been constituted, ...
C2: Epistemology. I will defend that inductive reasoning is false. Propositions can only be deemed true based on breaking down the proposition but the parts of a propositions are non-verifiable and can never said to be true. Wittgenstein:  
L. Wittgenstein [kick ass philosopher]. Some Remarks on Logical Form. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volumes, Vol. 9, Knowledge,Experience and Realism (1929), pp. 162-171 
propositions ... are ... products ... of simpler propositions. ... We must eventually reach the ultimate connection of the terms, the immediate connection which cannot be broken without destroying the propositional form as such. ... They, ... are the kernels of every proposition, ... On plane I figures are drawn, ... ellipses and rectangles of different sizes and shapes, and it is our task to produce images of these figures on plane II. ... We lay down the rule that every ellipse on plane I is to appear as a circle in plane II, and every rectangle as a square in II. ... from these images the exact shapes of the original figures on plane I cannot be immediately inferred. We can only gather from them that the original was an ellipse or a rectangle. ... The case of ordinary language is quite analogous. If the facts of reality are the ellipses and rectangles on plane I the subject-predicate and relational forms correspond to the circles and squares in plane II. ... 
C3: Metaethics. Metaethics precludes normative ethics since it determines the nature of moral statements. A standard without metaethical justifications is literally unwarranted. I defend the metaethical view of error theory, which contends that all moral statements are false.
  1. Relativity - moral statements are false because there are variations of moral codes relative to distinct cultures. Mackie:
J. L. Mackie [John Leslie Mackie (1917-1981) was a philosopher, originally from Sydney, Australia. From 1967 until his death, he was a fellow of University College, Oxford. He was in 1974 elected a fellow of the British Academy.], “Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong” The Subjectivity of Values.
The argument from relativity has as its premise the ... variation in moral codes from one society to another ... and ... the differences in moral beliefs between ... groups ... within a complex community. ...: radical differences between ... moral judgments make it difficult to treat ... [them] as apprehensions of objective truths. ... Disagreement about moral codes seems to reflect people's ... participation in different ways of life. ... moral heretics and ... reformers, ... have turned against the established rules ... of their own communities for moral reasons, and often for moral reasons that we would endorse. But this can ... be understood as the extension, ... of rules to which they already adhered as arising out of an existing way of life. ...
Thus, because moral statements differ between cultures, there is no reason to believe that there is any objective moral truth. 
  1. Queerness - humans do not have the moral faculty to know objective moral truths, therefore our moral statements are false. Mackie 2:
the argument from queerness ... has two parts, one metaphysical, the other epistemological. If there were objective values, then they would be ... qualities ... of a very strange sort, utterly different from anything else in the universe. ... if we were aware of them, it would have to be by some special faculty of moral perception or intuition, utterly different from our ordinary ways of knowing everything else …  none of our ordinary accounts of sensory perception or introspection or the framing and confirming of explanatory hypotheses or inference or logical construction of conceptual analysis, or any combination of these, will provide a satisfactory answer, [—] a special sort of intuition is a lame answer ...
Because morality functions on a higher level than any other object or faculty we can understand, our moral statements are always insufficient to prove an objective truth.

Onto RM's 'case' (he calls it an 'inverted kritik', but I'm not gonna bother going into why it's not a K. I'll save that for some random forum post in the future). We'll go line by line. First, RM says:
what are we conceding? Well, firstly morality is subjective ...
Cool. Debate's over, this is where you can negate. Cross apply Mackie 1 which talks about that if morality is subjective, then we can't make objective moral statements. Thus the statement "Individuals have a moral obligation to assist those in need" is false. 

Then, we're gonna group some of RM's arguments together. Group his last round starting from where he says...
"But we can't help everyone, and aren't needs kinda arbitrary?"
...and go all the way to where he says:
... So, either you admit this resolution is true, or you don't believe in morality to begin ...
A perceptive reader will notice that groups his entire case.

First: he's the first to admit that this is just an appeal to emotion. The problem is that it's done so fallaciously, since outside of the appeal there's zero warrant as to why individuals have moral obligations to help others.
Second: Specifically look to his statement where he says:
...I am obligated morally to do so because I am not an emotionally devoid psychopath, nor a completely self-centred narcissist.
This is a classic case of ad hom, where he's saying (and I'm paraphrasing) "People who don't agree with me are psychopaths and narcissists" and leaves it at that. The problem with this argument is that, outside of being r00d as fuck, it still doesn't provide any warrant as for why individuals have moral obligations.

Summary: I show 3 different layers for why we don't have obligations. He's yet to warrant why obligations exist.
We will see that Con has done what no Con has ever done before on this topic! He has struggled to make a single argument of his own! Notice that the entire Round that he was meant to use for opening arguments he uses only for rebuttals?!

He is saying not only that there is no morality but that we don't even exist! I urge you, as a voter, to notice that epistemological nihilism is self-defeated in a debate construct because if you don't exist and the debaters don't exist than in no shape or form can you award Con the win as he doesn't exist, nor do you or any of the meaning and values you've ascribed to the debate! Henceforth, only Pro deserves to win as only Pro claims to exist and admits that you reader have every iota of worth to determine who won this debate, Con says you don’t exist and that everything you think these words mean also doesn’t exist (as well as morality itself which obligates you to vote honestly).

It is the very same degree of arbitrary emotion that leads you to vote who you think should win this debate based fair and square on the words conveyed and intertwining of reasoning. Con deems this unnecessary to admit existing, so Con is also deeming his victory and your allocation of points towards his side as meaningless and unnecessary.

I tether the win condition of Con to admit that emotions and morality rooted in obligation derived from subjective duties and meanings attributed to things, which will then tear apart everything Con has built their case upon and no further Round can be used for new constructive points as Con and Pro agreed to this in the debate description’s stated structure.

The need of people is morally what demands you to help them. If you can’t understand this, you don’t believe in or comprehend morality to begin with. Con has proven Pro completely correct, since Con is proving that the only way to not believe we are morally obligated to help those in need is in fact to do something as ridiculous as to deny anyone matters, exists or has any moral obligation and system in the first place to work with.

Round 3

Extend the analysis at the top of my case saying that RM's burden in this debate is to show that individuals have a moral obligation to assist those in need. This is important to remember because he's currently failing to do this. If I show that individuals cannot have obligations, then you negate. I'll jump between my three contentions, then I'll touch on RM's last round.

Contention Three:

Extend C3 which talks about how if morality is subjective then all moral statements, such as the statement "Individuals have a moral obligation to assist those in need", are false. The Mackie evidence does a really good job of explaining how moral codes vary between cultures and over time, thus making it impossible to provide any kind of objective proof to make moral statements. And extend RM's concession that morality is subjective from his opening round. 

RM drops this argument in his last speech. There's zero response to it. This is a damning mistake because if I'm winning on this argument, then I'm proving that the resolution is false and you negate. Easiest Con vote you'll ever make.

Contention One

Extend C1 which talks about how our understanding of individual identity is false. Our understanding of individuals is only an extension of our perception rather than something that exists in and of itself, thus it cannot be said that "Individuals" hold moral obligations, and thus the resolution is false and you negate. This is the only argument RM attempts to respond to in his last round, so let's cover his response.

RM responds with:
... in no shape or form can you award Con the win as he doesn't exist ...
First: Before I get into the meat of my responses, this response doesn't actually address the arguments I'm making in C1, rather he attempts to badly extend my argument to something that's out of context, not to mention the attempt to put words in my mouth. The warrants in the Thompson evidence, as well as the White and Butler evidence, aren't touched at all.
Second: This isn't even close to the argument I'm making at all. Cross apply the analysis I make before the Thompson evidence where I say that while we as people physically exist, because duh, it's our understanding of an individual identity that doesn't exist.
Third: Even if you want to buy his argument here, extend the White evidence which talks about how even if an individual identity does exist, that identity is in constant flux and is ever changing. This means that we cannot assign an obligation to an individual identity, because that identity would just change and no longer exist in the same manner, which still means that "individuals" cannot hold moral obligations. Thus, the resolution is false. So even if you like this response he makes, you still negate off of C1.

Moreover, extend the Butler evidence at the end of C1 which talks about how our understanding of the individual comes first before we can make normative statements on morality. This means that if I'm winning on C1, then you vote Con before evaluating the rest of the debate.

RM's 'Case'

Extend the two responses I made against his case last round. First, that his entire case is one giant, fallacious appeal to emotion with no other supporting analysis or evidence to warrant his assertions, and second, that his entire argument just boils down to ad hom ("you agree with me or you're a psychopath"). Neither of these are responded to, which takes out 100% of RM's case. But, let's humor him and go line-by-line anyway. 

RM says:

Notice that the entire Round that he was meant to use for opening arguments he uses only for rebuttals?!
I mean...I made three case arguments. If that's 'only rebuttals', then okay. 

RM says:

I tether the win condition of Con to admit that emotions and morality rooted in obligation derived from subjective duties and meanings attributed to things ...

First: No thanks. I'd rather just show how the resolution is false and win that way. Prefer this argument because it meets the definition of negate I give at the top of my case, which means I'm best meeting the intentions of the Con position in debate.
Second: What does this even mean? This statement is literally nonsensical.
Third: If I'm understanding this statement correctly, it means in order to win I have to concede to this statement, and if I do concede to this statement, then I win. Okay, I agree with the quoted section above. This means, according to RM, you vote Con as I've fulfilled my win condition. There's no reason I can't agree to it, and his assertion of (and I directly quote)...

... which will then tear apart everything Con has built their case upon ...

...doesn't actually say how or why this is true. It really doesn't do anything to the arguments I've made, so RM just gave me a random, free win. 


This debate is super simple to evaluate.

- C3 says that if morality is subjective, then the resolution is false and you vote Con. RM has conceded that morality is subjective and dropped this argument. Easy vote.
- I'm winning on C1, which says that individual identity doesn't exist, meaning that "individuals" can't hold moral obligations.
- Even if you buy that individual identity exists, RM drops the argument coming off the White evidence that says that our identity is constantly changing, thus can't be said to hold moral obligations, thus the resolution is still negated.
- RM drops both attacks I make against his case, meaning he has zero offense in this round. Moreover, he's yet to do anything more than assert he's right, as there's no evidence or, really, anything to back up his arguments.
- If you really need to look this far down for a place to vote, I met RM's super random win condition, so by his own statement I should win.

Here is what Con thought Pro will do:

Try to give objective reasoning for an entirely subjectively-based construct that is so essential to sanity and well-being of any society and community in the long run.

Here is what Pro actually did:

Said it's subjective, asked you as voters to use your emotions and empathy for those in need to comprehend the moral obligation and understand that even if you can't help those in need because you yourself are in need, that is simply enacting the obligation or justifiably not doing so. If you have the obligation and just plain don't help out even when it's expedient to you, you're immoral. 

Then Con tried to say nothing exists or matters at all.

Pro said if that's true then neither does this debate, the debaters or the obligation of the voter to give Con the win whatsoever. Pro tethered the sancity of voting and morally abiding by site rules, intellectual honesty and providing a victory to the most deserving debater as examples that Con is actively proving by action (not words) that he relies on and appreciates entirely subjectively-rooted systems of ethics and morality. Pro then asserts furthermore that this means both debaters are obligated to appreciate that this debate comes down to whether or not you feel any empathy for a starving child, desperate housewife in an abusive household or anyone that is 'in need'. 

You can judge it for yourself, you have to judge this debate for yourself and Pro says you're right to do that for reasons solely emotional and subjective. Con is simply skirting the issue saying not only that you don't exist but that you have zero moral obligation to be honest and loyal to the side you think won this. In fact, according to Con's version of reality, the words don't even have meaning beyond what you assign to them in an arbitrary manner. Con concedes his own debate because he's written nonsense on the page if you see fit to conclude it that way.
Round 4

I'm not gonna do too much with this final round. I'll just be going down the list of voters and give reasons why I win this debate.

Voter One: Subjective Morality

Extend C3, which is the Mackie evidence. If morality is subjective, then all moral statements are necessarily false. Since the resolution is a moral statement, the resolution becomes false if morality is subjective, which means you negate.

Not only has RM never responded to this argument through the entire debate, but he concedes in his first round that morality is subjective. This is as straight-forward as a vote can ever get. 

Voter Two: Identity Politics

There are two parts to this area of the debate. I'm winning in both of them, and both of them are independently sufficient to negate.

Part One: The Existence of Identity

Extend the Thompson evidence in C1. Identity is not something that in and of itself exists but, rather, is a byproduct of human perception. If identity does not exist, then there is no moral agent capable of holding or acting upon an obligation, meaning that "individuals" cannot hold moral obligations, as they lack the agency required to do so. This invalidates the resolution, meaning that you negate.

RM makes one attempt to respond to this argument, but doesn't answer the three arguments I made against his attack. Extend the three responses I make; first, the argument he makes isn't actually responsive to the warrants within the Thompson evidence. Second, the argument isn't that we don't physically exist, but that our physical entities lack any kind of existence beyond the physical, making us incapable of being moral agents and, thus, incapable of holding an obligation. Third, that even if his argument is true, it doesn't answer the White evidence, but I'll save that for next section.

Part Two: Identity is Fluid

Extend the White evidence in C1. Even if you do buy that individual identity exist, it is incapable of holding a moral obligation because identity is not something that is static or fixed, but rather is something that is fluid and constantly changing. Any obligation assigned to an identity would be lost the instant that identity shifted. Because of this, we as "individuals" cannot have moral obligations, thus negating the resolution.

This argument is cold conceded throughout the entire debate. This argument also precludes RM's normative emotional appeals, as understanding identity is a necessary first step to having any kind of moral understanding (that's the Butler evidence, which is also cold conceded through the entire debate). So if you buy this argument, then you can negate without needing to evaluate RM's arguments.

Voter Three: Resolutional Burdens

Extend the analysis I provide at the top of my case where I say that negating means denying the truth of something, so in order for RM to win the debate, he needs to prove the resolution as a statement is true. If I prevent him from doing so, i.e. disprove his arguments, then he fails to meet his burdens as the affirmative/pro debater and, thus, can't win. This is also sufficient to meet my resolutional burden as the negative/con debater because if he can't prove the resolution true, then I, by necessity, have denied the truth of the resolution. 

This is important because I make two attacks against his case. The logic of his argument rests on two logical fallacies, thus can't be logically true. He drops the two attacks throughout the entire debate, which means he has zero offense in this debate. 


I make three separate argument that show how the resolution is false. RM concedes to one of them, isn't doing enough to win on the second one, and drops the third one. Each one is sufficient for me to win. If that's not enough, RM doesn't have any offense left at the end of the round, meaning he fails to meet his burden and I, by extension, have met mine.

Round waived.