Instigator / Pro
Points: 8

Are human motivations purely selfish?

Finished

The voting period has ended

After 2 votes the winner is ...
Speedrace
Debate details
Publication date
Last update
Category
Philosophy
Time for argument
Three days
Voting system
Open voting
Voting period
Two weeks
Point system
Four points
Rating mode
Rated
Characters per argument
30,000
Contender / Con
Points: 14
Description
No information
Round 1
Published:
I believe that human motivations for any action generally fall under 4 different selfish motivations. I don't believe that being selfish is bad. If Con would read Anthem by Ayn Rand, that would be very obliging. It's on the public domain and is a fairly short read.

The 4 types are:

1. Pleasure and Gain. (The Carrot) This is basically just greed. Having things makes you feels happy and motivates you to take actions that provide with more satisfaction in this regard.

2. Pain Avoidance (The Stick). Self-preservation motivates you to avoid things that would cause you pain, such as not doing your chores if your parents support spankings. Pretty self-explanatory.

3. Public Image. Motivations based upon how society views you. Why people are much less likely to steal or do other things considered "bad" when in front of other people or are likely to get caught. Not because you care how it affects others, but how it will affect the way others act towards you.

4. Moral Conceptions (or Self Image). You do things that you consider the "right" thing to do, not to serve others but to satisfy your morals. You believe that that is what you should do, so it motivates you to do exactly that. This can overcome the three more obvious selfish actions if you have a strong enough conviction.

Published:
Selfish: lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one's own personal profit or pleasure.

This means that we are concerned with ourselves. If your point is true, those who have no sense of morals, like babies, should never exhibit any kind of altruism. However, we see babies being kind all the time. For example, one may share a toy with another. This fits nowhere in your paradigm. Because of this, it becomes much clearer that selfishness must be taught.

What about situations that are in conflict with your view? For example, what if one should save someone being robbed, but it involves potentially being shot? That is in conflict with 2 and 4 of your model.

Lastly, you've provided no proof that all human behavior falls within this model.

Round 2
Published:
You've offered two examples that don't fit into my method.

1. Babies.
According to you, babies will "altruistically" share with others. While this may appear to be the case, I'm not sure that babies have a clear conception of their actions' effects. I would call these actions arbitrary at best since they're not really done to be kind. I've seen babies do kind things when asked, which might indicate selfless action, but I think it's more of a social construct of "mommy asked, so do it." Babies can't really be asked their motivations, so you'd have to do more extensive research before you convince me on this one.

2. Purposeful (Potential) Self-Sacrifice
Your example is stopping a robbery at the chance of getting shot. As you say, this example is in direct contradiction to #2. However, it doesn't contradict #4. If your moral belief is that you should stop the robber, regardless of the risk of death, and your moral conviction is greater than #2 then you will put yourself
in harm's way. But you must remember that morals are selfish in that everyone follows their own morals, not others'.

Published:
You've offered two examples that don't fit into my method.
Precisely, that shows the hole in it.

1. Babies. 
According to you, babies will "altruistically" share with others. While this may appear to be the case, I'm not sure that babies have a clear conception of their actions' effects. I would call these actions arbitrary at best since they're not really done to be kind. I've seen babies do kind things when asked, which might indicate selfless action, but I think it's more of a social construct of "mommy asked, so do it." Babies can't really be asked their motivations, so you'd have to do more extensive research before you convince me on this one.
I didn’t say just when someone asks them so do something, but of their own accord. This is like when they may share a toy with someone else. Babies are obviously too young to have any morals. That means that this behavior must fit into one of your other models, but it doesn’t! It doesn’t avoid pain, it does put benefit them at all, and they are too young to know of any social constructs.


2. Purposeful (Potential) Self-Sacrifice
Your example is stopping a robbery at the chance of getting shot. As you say, this example is in direct contradiction to #2. However, it doesn't contradict #4. If your moral belief is that you should stop the robber, regardless of the risk of death, and your moral conviction is greater than #2 then you will put yourself 
in harm's way. But you must remember that morals are selfish in that everyone follows their own morals, not others'.
I said that it contradicts because it fits into #4, but it directly goes against #2 at the same time. That’s a contradiction.

Lastly, you cannot simply lump all behavior into selfishness. You have to PROVE why it is there. Why is helping someone cross the street selfishly following morals instead of being altruistic? Why is following social norms selfish? You have simply made claims without backing them up with real proof.

Round 3
Published:
>>You've offered two examples that don't fit into my method.
>Precisely, that shows the hole in it.

I knew I should have worded that differently. I proceeded to disprove both, so I was just laying it out that you made two counters, which I would proceed to counter myself.

Babies
I would say that babies' actions are arbitrary. They can't be predicted or explained, and are generally inconsistent. Until you form mental patterns, your actions aren't motivated. So the baby is sharing its toy(s) for literally no reason at all.
Alternatively, I could also argue that the baby does have a motivation: experimentation. Although entirely unaware of formal experimentations, the baby gathers data and extrapolates meaning by experimenting, much the same way as a baby or child (or impulsive adult) might push a button in order to find out what it does.
Thus, the baby is gathering data in order to benefit itself, a.k.a., selfish motivations.

>I said that it contradicts because it fits into #4, but it directly goes against #2 at the same time. That’s a contradiction.

You are obviously not listening. I specifically said that #4 can "overcome the three more obvious selfish actions if you have a strong enough conviction."
It's all a matter of priority. Not everyone ranks the importance of the different types the same. That's why a criminal will go against #3, in service of #1.


>Lastly, you cannot simply lump all behavior into selfishness.

I don't see why not. I've covered my bases, as they say, and until you come up with a legitimate exception, I can consider my hypothesis valid. I'm not trying to force this on you as fact, but until you disprove the claim that "human motivations are purely selfish," I will press my case. That's how all debaters do it. The "you simply can't" argument doesn't work. But go ahead and try to prove me wrong.
Published:
I would say that babies' actions are arbitrary. They can't be predicted or explained, and are generally inconsistent. Until you form mental patterns, your actions aren't motivated. So the baby is sharing its toy(s) for literally no reason at all.
Alternatively, I could also argue that the baby does have a motivation: experimentation. Although entirely unaware of formal experimentations, the baby gathers data and extrapolates meaning by experimenting, much the same way as a baby or child (or impulsive adult) might push a button in order to find out what it does.
Thus, the baby is gathering data in order to benefit itself, a.k.a., selfish motivations.
Where's your proof of this?

You are obviously not listening. I specifically said that #4 can "overcome the three more obvious selfish actions if you have a strong enough conviction."
It's all a matter of priority. Not everyone ranks the importance of the different types the same. That's why a criminal will go against #3, in service of #1.
Again, where's your proof of this?

I don't see why not. I've covered my bases, as they say, and until you come up with a legitimate exception, I can consider my hypothesis valid. I'm not trying to force this on you as fact, but until you disprove the claim that "human motivations are purely selfish," I will press my case. That's how all debaters do it. The "you simply can't" argument doesn't work. But go ahead and try to prove me wrong.
That's exactly what it is, a HYPOTHESIS. However, you have absolutely no evidence or data to back up your point. Without that, your hypothesis can't stand, because it needs proof. Secondly, we are arguing whether human motivations are purely selfish or not, not whether your personal hypothesis is correct or not. You have yet to give any data towards your point. This is your argument:

You: All actions are selfish.
Me: So helping someone across the street is selfish?
You: Yes, because it is satisfying one's own morals.
Me: Where's your proof that?
You: I said it, and you can't provide an exception.
Me: What makes you an expert?
You: Me.
Me: *plugging in headphones*

You're using an argument from ignorance. Just because I can't show an exception doesn't mean that your position is right. You have absolutely no verifiable data, and until you do, you can't prove your position and I win.
Round 4
Published:
A theory is all that this is. We're not here to do scientific experiments, and I'm not here to try and hide behind URL links like some people (not you) do.

You haven't provided any evidence that what I'm saying isn't true. You haven't provided any evidence of what a baby's thought processes are. I have taken the actions that you listed and came up with possible explanations. And science does provide evidence that babies are not capable of advanced processes. At best, babies are likely just making arbitrary actions in curiosity to see what happens. Animals have been proven to do this much, and several studies have shown similar intelligence levels between infant humans and certain animals like dogs. You haven't even provided an alternate explanation.

You: All actions are selfish.
Me: So helping someone across the street is selfish?
You: Yes, because it is satisfying one's own morals.
Me: Where's your proof that?
You: I said it, and you can't provide an exception.
Me: What makes you an expert?
You: Me.
Me: *plugging in headphones*
1. Do your morals not tell you to help people? Do you not gain satisfaction from following your own morals? I do. Obviously, everyone's thought processes could be entirely different from mine, but the practice of empathy and putting yourself in someone else's shoes is imperfect because you're still thinking with your own thought processes and how you would react to those circumstances.

2. I never said that I'm an expert. Don't put words in my mouth. What makes you a greater authority to doubt me, anyway? Debaters assume authority because humans respond to confidence. And I am confident. I will show my confidence. I won't hesitate or second-guess myself. 
Published:
A theory is all that this is. We're not here to do scientific experiments, and I'm not here to try and hide behind URL links like some people (not you) do.
That was not made clear when you first made this. The nature of debate is that you make an argument and support it with evidence. Simply lumping all possibilities into a model that you claim is all "selfish" is not an argument.

You haven't provided any evidence that what I'm saying isn't true.
It's not my job to. You have the burden of proof and you are making the positive claim. Until you make an actual substantial argument, there is nothing to argue.


You haven't provided any evidence of what a baby's thought processes are. I have taken the actions that you listed and came up with possible explanations.
You gave no evidence for those possible explanations. This is an analogy for your logic:

Me: I see clouds, it must be about to rain.
You: A large gust of wind could possibly come in and blow those clouds away.
Me: Where's your proof that that's likely?
You: Can you prove what I'm saying isn't true?
Me: No, but-
You: Then it doesn't matter.
Me: *walking away* [1]

And science does provide evidence that babies are not capable of advanced processes. At best, babies are likely just making arbitrary actions in curiosity to see what happens.
You provided no evidence for this. In fact, I can cite evidence showing that babies DO show altruism. [2] [3] [4]

Animals have been proven to do this much, and several studies have shown similar intelligence levels between infant humans and certain animals like dogs. You haven't even provided an alternate explanation.
What do animals have to do with anything?

1. Do your morals not tell you to help people? Do you not gain satisfaction from following your own morals? I do. Obviously, everyone's thought processes could be entirely different from mine, but the practice of empathy and putting yourself in someone else's shoes is imperfect because you're still thinking with your own thought processes and how you would react to those circumstances.
Just because you get satisfaction from your morals doesn't mean that following them is an act of selfishness. Actually, we get satisfaction from helping others. That's not selfish.

2. I never said that I'm an expert. Don't put words in my mouth. What makes you a greater authority to doubt me, anyway? Debaters assume authority because humans respond to confidence. And I am confident. I will show my confidence. I won't hesitate or second-guess myself. 
Confidence won't win an argument. Evidence and real data will. I never said that you said that you're an expert. I never put words into your mouth. I don't have to be a greater authority in order to doubt you, all I have to do is provide a valid reason to doubt you. If someone told you they saw an alien, wouldn't you doubt them until they showed evidence? But you don't have the be a greater authority in order to do that. This is exactly the same situation.

Sources:

Round 5
Published:
HA HA HA!
I am a FOOL.

I don't need to keep justifying myself to you. 

Ok, here's the story. I search "human motivation" to look for what the current view is, only to find corroboration.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.[1]

In order of importance:

1. Biological and Physiological
Food, homeostasis, sleep, shelter, etc.

2. Safety
Routine, order, free of fear (physical and mental), etc.

3. Belongingness and Love
Affection, part of a group, connectedness, friendship, partner or a spouse, etc.

4. Self-esteem
Achievement, status, self-respect, respect of others, etc.

5. Self-actualization
Self-confidence, reaching potential, self-fulfillment, etc.

This all fits into my view, not perfectly, but enough. 

Biological and Physiological
Obviously, your own need for sleep, etc., is selfish. (I'll take this opportunity to say once again that selfishness doesn't constitute anything bad.)

Safety
Once again, easily seen as selfish. The "need" to feel secure is a want, fitting in with #1 and #2 of my theory.

Self-esteem
Fits with #3 and #4. How you view yourself and how others view you. Quite simple.

 Self-actualization
I'll point out now how both #4 and #5 on Maslow's Hierarchy literally put "self" in the title. 
Fits further into #1. Get what you want, enjoy what you do, etc.

Alternatives
Of course, you could argue against Maslow along with me. Just because it's the commonly taught theory in schools doesn't mean that it's right. I'll acknowledge that. But remember that Abraham Maslow was a psychologist who did do research.

On to alternate theories
 
McClelland's Human Motivation Theory [2]

This describes three needs

1. Need for Power
2. Need for Achievement
3. Need for Affiliation

McClelland 1. Fits #1 (my #1), and indirectly, #2. Power allows you to avoid things that you would otherwise not be able to.
McClelland 2. #1 and Self-actualization from Maslow.
McClelland 3. Fits #3 Social pressures, etc.


Here's a couple of other theories. You're welcome to research these yourself. [3]

Instinct Theory
I think we can both agree that humans are motivated by a lot more than instinct.

Incentive Theory
An obvious mirror to my #1. Incomplete, but in the right direction.

Drive Theory

"According to the drive theory of motivation, people are motivated to take certain actions in order to reduce the internal tension that is caused by unmet needs. For example, you might be motivated to drink a glass of water in order to reduce the internal state of thirst."[3]
This fits pretty well with #2, although I'll have to expand it to be more general, saying "avoidance of negative consequences" rather than "pain avoidance"

That's five theories, four of which corroborate my own. None contribute to your argument.

Published:
Ah, so you hurl the elephant in the last round. It's all good.

That's five theories, four of which corroborate my own. None contribute to your argument.
I have no argument. My job is simply to rebut your points.

Selfish: lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one's own personal profit or pleasure. [1]

Maslow's Hierarchy Of Needs:

Biological and Physiological

Things that go here are actions such as sleep. Actions such as these are not selfish because they do not make one lose consideration for others. You aren't ignoring the needs of others when you go to sleep or eat (in normal situations). Selfishness is all about relativity and the person who you are putting down in order to have more concern for your own gain. There is no "other person" in this scenario, so this is not selfish behavior.

The same goes for the rest of them. The only time it becomes selfish is when another person enters the scene. You may, for example, bully someone else because it's cool and that helps your self-esteem. That's selfish. However, dressing a certain way for one's self-esteem is not selfish because nobody else suffers or is affected.

This goes for all of the models you gave. Citing human motivations doesn't prove that those motivations are selfish in any way.

To summarize, I have shown clearly how none of the things my opponent has described are selfish unless another person enters the picture and his somehow harmed or negatively affected by the action. I have also given an exception to my opponent's model (altruistic babies). Finally, my opponent never explained how all of the motivations he cited occur solely out of selfishness. The only way that he can win is if he proves that EVERY action is out of selfishness, and he has not. It is clear that I have sufficiently rebutted his arguments. Please vote Con.

Sources:

Added:
--> @Speedrace
lol. I love it.
Hey, it looks silly, but it's a good rhetorical device if you want to get a bunch of questions off the table real quick in order.
#8
Added:
--> @Wrick-It-Ralph
"Me: What makes you an expert?
You: Me.
Me: *plugging in headphones*"
I took inspiration from you :D
Contender
#7
Added:
--> @Melcharaz
Thanks.
Instigator
#6
Added:
--> @K_Michael
i copy and paste what the person says then hit quotes button
#5
Added:
How do you do the quote-y things? My attempt failed.
Instigator
#4
Added:
--> @K_Michael
I haven’t.
Contender
#3
Added:
--> @Speedrace
Don't forget.
Instigator
#2
Added:
I would probably take Pro's side in the topic but I would also add that I believe altruism can be reached by purely selfish means.
#1
#2
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Reason:
Pros issue here, is that he spells out what his position is, and the criteria under which actions can be judged, and not once did he provide a justification for his position or argument to fundamentally support that his position is correct.
What I mean by this, is that pro proceeds to assert that all motivations are selfish, then sets himself up to shoot down all counter examples. At no point that I can see does pro attempt to explain the reasoning for this position, and justify it logically or systematically.
While I won’t necessarily agree that pro has lol the burden of proof, he has at least some of it, and his focus in what rather than why really lets him down in this discussion.
Importantly, pros position is eroded by his first response - claiming babies behaviour is arbitrary. This acknowledgement is basically conceding that in this case the motivations of the mini human is not solely racist and thus a single example of what appears to be not purely selfish action has been encountered. Pro himself repeatedly makes the case, that babies actions are not purely selfish - and they in fact do not fit into any social construxtZ
As a result, the remaining parts of the debate and arguments are largely moot, as the debate resolution is clearly negated by this example.
Arguments to con.
Conduct from both sides deteriorated and turned petulant towards the end. Watch that.
#1
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Reason:
Argument point.
Pros argument was that seemingly selfless behaviors were actually selfish in nature. Pro main points are: Pleasure and Gain, Preservation, Public image, and self image. While this does account for the model without selflessness, it does not rule out selflessness. Let's look at Con.
Con makes an intuitive argument concerning selfless behavior in babies. Pro responded by casting doubt saying that we can't know if they're being selfless, but this also brought Pro's side into question as well, I believe this maybe the fatal error for Pro. But I'll read on.
Con then shows that Pro's 4 standards can have contradictions and Pro made no effort to provide a standard for handling this.
Con then points out that Pro has not proven the argument which is true at the moment.
Pro then goes onto completely sink his own argument in round two by saying
"According to you, babies will "altruistically" share with others. While this may appear to be the case, I'm not sure that babies have a clear conception of their actions' effects. I would call these actions arbitrary at best since they're not really done to be kind. I've seen babies do kind things when asked, which might indicate selfless action, but I think it's more of a social construct of "mommy asked, so do it." Babies can't really be asked their motivations, so you'd have to do more extensive research before you convince me on this one."
By saying that the behavior was arbitrary, Pro is essentially admitting that it's not selfish which indirectly concedes the debate topic. Not only did Pro not retract or amend this statement, but Pro actually goes on to assert the same thing again later on in the debate. This combined with Con's initial critiques is enough to aware the Argument Point to Con.
Tied in all others.