Instigator / Pro
8
1443
rating
15
debates
33.33%
won
Topic

RESOLVED: If You Could Time Travel, then Time Traveling to the Past is an Awful Proposition

Status
Finished

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

Arguments points
0
6
Sources points
4
4
Spelling and grammar points
2
2
Conduct points
2
2

With 2 votes and 6 points ahead, the winner is ...

RationalMadman
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Philosophy
Time for argument
Two days
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One week
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14
1672
rating
283
debates
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won
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~ 81 / 5,000

R1: Opening
R2: Rebuttal
Definitions and BoP will be provided in the first round.

Round 1
Pro
RESOLVED: If you could time travel, then time traveling to the past is an awful desicion. 
Thanks to RationalMadman for accepting this debate, I hope this will be my best discussion yet. I’ll list definitions and burden of proof specifics right now.
 
PRELUDE:
 
Definitions:
Time Travel: the idea of traveling through time into the past (or the future.)
 
Past: having existed or taken place in a period before the present.
 
Awful: extremely disagreeable or objectionable
 
Proposition: A proposal or idea.
 
Burden of Proof:
The burden of proof is shared as PRO must prove that time traveling to the past is an awful idea, while CON must prove time traveling to the past is a good idea. 
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Contention A: Benefits?
  • What are the benefits of time traveling to the past? You couldn’t do anything good except start a string of paradoxes (see Contention B: Paradox).
  • It’s not ethical either. If corrupt countries get the technology to time travel, they would farm the natural resources for their own benefit. This would cause the future they return to to be extremely bleak and stripped of natural resources. Only then will the real greed of humanity show through the cracks of “for the greater good”.
  • Many sources say time traveling to the past is great for education, but that only amplifies the paradoxical state of time travel itself. Say that an elementary school class of history wants to visit 1776 (to see the making of the declaration of independence). The people there would be extremely influenced by this type of time travel. This could lead to the revolution not playing out in the American favor, or lead to total destruction. It would lead to the death of many, probably. It could probably lead to the death of the ancestors of the children located in the class. Which means, they would’ve never been born, and couldn’t have even traveled to the past in the first place. This is better explained in a step by step procedure, and that brings me to my next contention.
Contention B: Paradox
Time travel, in an essence, is entirely paradoxical in its own way. Several paradoxes have been thought of relating to time travel.
  1. GRANDFATHER PARADOX
    1. The grandfather paradox is similar to the one listed in Contention A. It follows this order.
      1. A person travels back into time
      2. He kills his grandfather
      3. His grandfather couldn’t give birth to his father
      4. His father couldn’t give birth to him.
      5. The person never traveled back into time
      6. His grandfather is still alive.
    2. But, this doesn’t make sense in the first place does it? This is another challenge of time travel. People say that if they could time travel to the past they would kill Hitler, Stalin, Zedong, and Nero, but that would lead to a paradox which is impossible. The person would be stuck in a never ending loop that would feel like hell.
    3. The same can be applied to minor things like cheating on a test, winning the lottery, etc.
Conclusion
Due to the paradoxes relating to time travel, and the nonexistent benefits, I believe time travelling to the past is an awful proposition.

Con
The paradox is not a paradox, instead it is a sequence of several 'and/or' steps.

In short, you either are in 1 of 3 scenarios (and 2 of them run on the same version of time travel)

1) You are in a reality where going into the past creates a parallel universe/timeline that lets you genuinely change that point in time as it was in your reality but from that point on it doesn't matter what you do, nothing in your original timeline alters. This would mean that the grandfather is a copy of himself in another timeline, not the one who was your actual ancestor.

2) You go with full intent to kill him, but either he's not your actual grandfather (you were lied to) or he survives anyway, since this is guaranteed by your reality's timeline.

3) You go with full intent to kill him, you succeed and it is your timeline. At this point you disappear/die and what happens is that you travelling to the past is actually the real future 'past events' of the original past, meaning that the timeline replicates massive sections of itself over, inserting it after the point where you 'travelled in time' to a completely genuine replica of the past of your reality inside your reality. This means that the 'you' who was born and killed him is real and that you moved forward into the past as the time machine forces the timeline to replicate itself into the future of the point where you travelled and makes an illusory 'past' (that you wouldn't know at the time is an illusion, so does apply to the debate's title).

I have thus completely disregarded the paradox and such 'logical impossibility' accusations to the proposition of  travelling into the past via a time machine.

==

So, why's it not such a bad idea?

You literally can fix every mistake ever made potentially. While all three scenarios make it so that the mistakes remain made in the 'true past of your actual timeline' this is irrelevant to the debate. Time travel necessitates you going to replicas of the past in some way, it alternatively is already done. So, if you are in the version 2 of the three, where you are 100% guaranteed to fail to fix the problem as it happened anyway in your past and therefore you failed, this is not proof that the proposition is awful, it is proof that the decent proposition was inevitable. 

Here is where I will go into determinism.

Determinism, in philosophy, theory that all events, including moral choices, are completely determined by previously existing causes. Determinism is usually understood to preclude free will because it entails that humans cannot act otherwise than they do. The theory holds that the universe is utterly rational because complete knowledge of any given situation assures that unerring knowledge of its future is also possible.

If determinism is the case (which we can't know for sure) it means that it's most likely scenario 2. This suggests that there is a singular, inevitable timeline that you can't change. On the other hand, it means that no matter what, your travelling or refusal to travel to the past is completely and utterly predetermined and out of anyone's 'suggestion' of you doing it. If we are to genuinely suggest that the proposition itself is 'extremely disagreeable or objectionable', we need to first prove that we either know for certain that it's futile (so that there isn't an alternative 'past into future' transference playing out as is seen in scenarios 1 and 3, and furthermore that within scenario 2 that there is any actual way to stop the person travelling the past.

As Con, I assert firmly that in the worst case scenario (the one that means your changes to the past are guaranteed to fail because they didn't happen already) we are completely incapable of knowing that for sure, first of all, and furthermore comes in the entire new 'future of the past' that you are enabling and the fact that countless good can come from it.

Pro will inevitably retort 'but it also can be countless evil chain-reactions that occur' however, Pro is just as powerless as Con is in this conflict. Con isn't asserting that travelling to the past is the best idea ever, only that it isn't terrible. You see, while the past you change (in scenarios 1 and 3) is creating a new set of events that aren't specifically in the past of the original timeline you ended up born and operating in, you're altering something that truly is potentially helping people and the best part is you know the harm that would come within that timeline had you not altered it.

Pro will retort to this, saying that the timeline and alternate set of events wouldn't happen if you didn't travel to the past, so here we need to address the value of life. If it's a non-deterministic reality whereby your travelling to the past isn't inevitable and you choosing not to, really would prevent the alternate timeline to ever ensue, one must ponder on what we call 'awful' and what we call 'not great'. I would openly agree to Pro that this is not a great proposition as such, since you're not necessarily going to even survive from the moment you exist the time machine (or just wherever your body ends up if it's via that) nonetheless, I think what's extremely important to understand is the alternatives are either not time travelling at all or travelling to the future.

==

Travelling to the future is far more awful a proposition, yet humans crave it far more.

Do you understand that travelling to the past is one of the only scenarios when all the information is in your hands, with regards to a virtually known series of events and outcome if you don't act a certain way vs if you do? The only doubt you should have is about whether or not other time travelers will be involved or if it's scenario 2 and your alteration inevitably fails.

When traveling to the past, you can even sacrifice yourself as a chess-piece for the version of you or version of any hero you know who got killed off early, failed unfairly and whatever else. You can stop falsely incarcerated people being imprisoned or death-sentenced. Just because what's playing out has a real person who happens to not be in your original timeline after that event, doesn't mean their suffering vs pleasure are fake. In fact every single life that now can even exist (people born who otherwise wouldn't) are gains, while the people who were born in your timeline may not be born, they are still born in it as we already agreed and Pro will very happily assert that the things that happened in your timeline happen anyway.

What is undeniable for Pro is that all the new lives and new events and benefits that come are 100% denied to happen and unfold if you don't enable it. For now, I leave it at that, this is going to become an interesting debate on whether or not 'denied events' are more immoral and unwise than 'enabled events to unfold'. I say it's worth the endeavour potentially, I only need to argue that it's not awful.

Round 2
Pro
Thanks RM.
 
“The paradox is not a paradox, instead it is a sequence of several 'and/or' steps.
 
In short, you either are in 1 of 3 scenarios (and 2 of them run on the same version of time travel)
 
1) You are in a reality where going into the past creates a parallel universe/timeline that lets you genuinely change that point in time as it was in your reality but from that point on it doesn't matter what you do, nothing in your original timeline alters. This would mean that the grandfather is a copy of himself in another timeline, not the one who was your actual ancestor.
 
2) You go with full intent to kill him, but either he's not your actual grandfather (you were lied to) or he survives anyway, since this is guaranteed by your reality's timeline.
 
3) You go with full intent to kill him, you succeed and it is your timeline. At this point you disappear/die and what happens is that you travelling to the past is actually the real future 'past events' of the original past, meaning that the timeline replicates massive sections of itself over, inserting it after the point where you 'travelled in time' to a completely genuine replica of the past of your reality inside your reality. This means that the 'you' who was born and killed him is real and that you moved forward into the past as the time machine forces the timeline to replicate itself into the future of the point where you travelled and makes an illusory 'past' (that you wouldn't know at the time is an illusion, so does apply to the debate's title).
 
I have thus completely disregarded the paradox and such 'logical impossibility' accusations to the proposition of  travelling into the past via a time machine.”
 
The 1st scenario isn’t how time actually works, unless CON can successfully prove that there is an existing “multiverse”. However, he brings up 2 more scenarios. Scenario 2 is not actually time travel and it means that the paradox never even happened in the first place. Scenario 3 ends in complete chaos which is what the grandfather paradox is. My opponent has no authoritative position on this front and has no scientific evidence that the dimension or timeline replicates itself. Again, unless he proves the existence of a multiversal existence, then the only scenario that can be played out is the scenario that you will be wiped from existence, and the effects of your “wipe” will be chaotic.
 
==
 
“So, why's it not such a bad idea?
 
You literally can fix every mistake ever made potentially. While all three scenarios make it so that the mistakes remain made in the 'true past of your actual timeline' this is irrelevant to the debate. Time travel necessitates you going to replicas of the past in some way, it alternatively is already done. So, if you are in the version 2 of the three, where you are 100% guaranteed to fail to fix the problem as it happened anyway in your past and therefore you failed, this is not proof that the proposition is awful, it is proof that the decent proposition was inevitable.”
 
By fixing every mistake and assuming there is no multiverse, the effects can and will be chaotic. There is no way to predict which version you will end up in which will ultimately lead to the awfulness of the whole thing in particular.
 
 
“Here is where I will go into determinism.
 
Determinism, in philosophy, theory that all events, including moral choices, are completely determined by previously existing causes. Determinism is usually understood to preclude free will because it entails that humans cannot act otherwise than they do. The theory holds that the universe is utterly rational because complete knowledge of any given situation assures that unerring knowledge of its future is also possible.
- https://www.britannica.com/topic/determinism
 
If determinism is the case (which we can't know for sure) it means that it's most likely scenario 2. This suggests that there is a singular, inevitable timeline that you can't change. On the other hand, it means that no matter what, your travelling or refusal to travel to the past is completely and utterly predetermined and out of anyone's 'suggestion' of you doing it. If we are to genuinely suggest that the proposition itself is 'extremely disagreeable or objectionable', we need to first prove that we either know for certain that it's futile (so that there isn't an alternative 'past into future' transference playing out as is seen in scenarios 1 and 3, and furthermore that within scenario 2 that there is any actual way to stop the person travelling the past.”
 
But determinism might not be the case. As mentioned before, travelling to the past will be chaotic, and unethical. My opponent hasn’t proved that mistake correcting will just be a small thing, and not blow up.
 
“As Con, I assert firmly that in the worst case scenario (the one that means your changes to the past are guaranteed to fail because they didn't happen already) we are completely incapable of knowing that for sure, first of all, and furthermore comes in the entire new 'future of the past' that you are enabling and the fact that countless good can come from it.
 
Pro will inevitably retort 'but it also can be countless evil chain-reactions that occur' however, Pro is just as powerless as Con is in this conflict. Con isn't asserting that travelling to the past is the best idea ever, only that it isn't terrible. You see, while the past you change (in scenarios 1 and 3) is creating a new set of events that aren't specifically in the past of the original timeline you ended up born and operating in, you're altering something that truly is potentially helping people and the best part is you know the harm that would come within that timeline had you not altered it.
 
Pro will retort to this, saying that the timeline and alternate set of events wouldn't happen if you didn't travel to the past, so here we need to address the value of life. If it's a non-deterministic reality whereby your travelling to the past isn't inevitable and you choosing not to, really would prevent the alternate timeline to ever ensue, one must ponder on what we call 'awful' and what we call 'not great'. I would openly agree to Pro that this is not a great proposition as such, since you're not necessarily going to even survive from the moment you exist the time machine (or just wherever your body ends up if it's via that) nonetheless, I think what's extremely important to understand is the alternatives are either not time travelling at all or travelling to the future.”
 
CON has not challenged the BoP. The BoP is shared and CON must prove past time traveling is good. Therefore, unless my opponent challenges the BoP, he has conceded. Surviving is most likely at a 0% chance if you go back in time, further adding to the awfulness of time travel.
 
==
 
“Travelling to the future is far more awful a proposition, yet humans crave it far more.
 
Do you understand that travelling to the past is one of the only scenarios when all the information is in your hands, with regards to a virtually known series of events and outcome if you don't act a certain way vs if you do? The only doubt you should have is about whether or not other time travelers will be involved or if it's scenario 2 and your alteration inevitably fails.
 
When traveling to the past, you can even sacrifice yourself as a chess-piece for the version of you or version of any hero you know who got killed off early, failed unfairly and whatever else. You can stop falsely incarcerated people being imprisoned or death-sentenced. Just because what's playing out has a real person who happens to not be in your original timeline after that event, doesn't mean their suffering vs pleasure are fake. In fact every single life that now can even exist (people born who otherwise wouldn't) are gains, while the people who were born in your timeline may not be born, they are still born in it as we already agreed and Pro will very happily assert that the things that happened in your timeline happen anyway.
 
What is undeniable for Pro is that all the new lives and new events and benefits that come are 100% denied to happen and unfold if you don't enable it. For now, I leave it at that, this is going to become an interesting debate on whether or not 'denied events' are more immoral and unwise than 'enabled events to unfold'. I say it's worth the endeavour potentially, I only need to argue that it's not awful.”
 
The fact that you can fix every mistake you’ve done is the fact that destroys time traveling being a good proposition. Greed will shine through the shadows and modern countries will take over the past. My opponent must prove a multiverse exists, or else much of his argument is invalid. Thank you, and the floor is yours.

Con
In this debate it was defined as being 'extremely disagreeable or objectionable' to time travel to the past, if Pro is right.


Pro has only proved that it's reasonable to not time travel to the past as the timeline that pursues isn't truly your own anymore. Con agreed to this and points out that all those you help are in that new timeline and are real.

This comes down to what makes you find something extremely disagreeable and objectionable, helping new lives that are replicas of ones you knew, or refusing to help them at all because they're replicas. I say helping is fine.