Points: 28

Moral Particularism is The Best Possible Model for Morality.

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After 4 votes the winner is ...
Wrick-It-Ralph
Debate details
Publication date
Last update
Category
Philosophy
Time for argument
Three days
Voting system
Open voting
Voting period
One week
Point system
Four points
Rating mode
Rated
Characters per argument
10,000
Contender
Points: 6
Description
Round 1: Opening Statements, No Rebuttals.
Round 2: Rebuttals of Round 1 Statements
Round 3: Rebuttals of Round 2 Statements.
Round 4: Interrogation. Questions Only about any part of the topic.
Round 5: Answering Round 4 Questions and then closing statements.
Con must accept this format in order to debate this topic.
Round 1
Published:
Moral Particularism is The belief that there are no universal morals.  But rather, morals are determined by the situation themselves. 


1.  Evolution.

Evolution has given us a set of predispositions to certain actions.  This is all part of our survival mechanisms.  Evolution has also programmed us to treat morals as if they're absolute.  This is to say that we feel like certain things are wrong even the they're not in a situation.  

For instance, I might feel bad about killing someone, but if they were trying to kill me, it was justified, so ultimately it was not an immoral act by my instincts treat it this way. 

Now most people agree that killing is okay in some situations, but then how does this fit into Particularism?  Well even though our evolutionary instincts give us cues for our morality, we are also thinking creatures, as such, we are able to understand intuitively when two of our instincts are clashing and it ultimately leads to one major Moral.   "Harm vs Benefit".  This is kind of like the checks and balance system for our morals, it ranks our morals in the heat of the moment based of this extra layer and one comes to a quick conclusion.  This can also apply to slower situations as well, such as the train problem and the doctor problem. 

What we see instead of absolutes, are actually a set of guidelines designed to map out any given situation.  If there is any moral that is universal, it would be something so basic that it would flow into all of these actions.  The closest we get is Harm vs Benefit but even this doesn't account for all morality because it seems that people can apply this differently where another person wouldn't.  

So I think the part that people tend to leave out of the moral picture is The external world.  The world is amoral.  Morality is specifically mean for living beings because ultimately it is designed for survival and us humans with our high intelligence have learn to harness this gift from nature into a powerful weapon for Good or Evil. 


2.  Contradictions. 

It becomes clear after posing a few hypotheticals that moral absolutes lead to many contradictions.  For example. 

If we say murder is always wrong, then we find times that self defense is the exception.  that's a moral particular. 

If we say theft is always wrong, we find times when people need to steal to live and it doesn't hurt anybody else, another particular. 

Even with something as evil sounding as rape, we could still think of some stupidly specific situation that sounds like it came out of a Saw movie where it ALMOST seems like rape is the moral thing to do here.  I'm not kidding people, 

Here's a fun one I posed to my wife this morning.  Can two people simultaneously rape each other? 

Here's a nice one.  A woman walks down the street carrying a dough nut and stumbles a little bit which stretches her hand out.  A man walks by and grabs the doughnut.  The woman thinks she has been robbed and reports him to the police.  when the police pick him up, the man says that the woman stretched her hand towards him and offered her the doughnut and it made his day. 

Who was wrong here? 


This is why the particulars matter here. 

I think this basically sums up my case.  I don't think objectivity necessarily matters here because I feel like particularism could work in both of the opposite models. I await my opponents opening statement. 



Published:
Moral Particularism claims that no values are universally true. It also claims that no actions are universally good. Moral Particularism is not "The Best Possible Model for Morality".

Utilitarianism: an ethical theory that determines right from wrong by focusing on outcomes. Utilitarianism holds that the most ethical choice is the one that will produce the greatest utility for the greatest number. [1]

Utilitythat property in any object, whereby it tends to produce benefit, advantage, pleasure, good, or happiness...[or] to prevent the happening of mischief, pain, evil, or unhappiness to the party whose interest is considered. [1] 

Utilitarianism maximizes the happiness of living creatures. It treats "good" as a universal value. I will demonstrate that utilitarianism is the superior model for morality. 

----

The trolley problem is a thought experiment in ethics. The general form of the problem is this: You see a runaway trolley moving toward five tied-up (or otherwise incapacitated) people lying on the tracks. ... Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person [1]. The utilitarian answer here is to pull the lever and save the maximum number of people. However, if killing that person would ultimately lead to more misery than happiness in the world then we do not pull it. We base our answer on maximizing happiness/goodness, as a universal value. Moral particularism says there are no universal values.

Utilitarianism values life. It argues that Genocide and extinction are bad because they decrease life/happiness (however, they can be framed as good in the rare case where genocide/extinction would ultimately maximize life/happiness). Again we can use utility as a universal basis for morality. 

----

How can we determine what constitutes absolute right and wrong? What this argument really boils down to is Moral Absolutism. Moral absolutism asserts that there are certain universal moral principles by which all peoples' actions may be judged. [2]

According to the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, under moral particularism, A true absolute moral principle is one that displays a shaped connection between the natural ways things might be and the moral ways things might be [3].

The principle of moral supervenience states that moral facts are a function of reality, of the natural world [4]. For example, should Bob pay me $10? Well, that depends on non-moral facts, like, did Bob buy something from me? Does Bob owe me a debt? We base our morality on non-moral facts.

I put it to you that we must ground our morality in our reality. Vote utilitarianism. Vote Con.




Round 2
Published:
Alright, I will rebuttal My openings statement and then my opponent will do the same to my opening statement.  Let dive in. 


Moral Particularism claims that no values are universally true. It also claims that no actions are universally good. Moral Particularism is not "The Best Possible Model for Morality".
Well we're on the same page as far as definitions go.  Score one for us.  No lets see what the "best possible model is? 



Utilitarianism: an ethical theory that determines right from wrong by focusing on outcomes. Utilitarianism holds that the most ethical choice is the one that will produce the greatest utility for the greatest number. [1]

To me, utilitarianism is just an outdated version of moral particularism.  It still does things from a situational standpoint but appeals to utility as it's highest standard.  Things like the trolley problem and the doctor problem actually show the inferiority of this position.  Particularism still makes appeals to utility, however, the key difference is that autonomy can and should be placed higher on the priority. 

This is why a doctor cannot harvest the organs of 1 person to save 5 people.  To do this would be an appeal to utility and it's one that is rejected by society and most moral philosophers historically.  

In short.  Moral particularism is still better than utilitarianism because it's less restrictive about how utility should be applied.  Although I respect the idea of utility by itself when it does not step on the toes of autonomy.  For this reason, I would be inclined to reject any model built off this idea as being the highest one. 

Also, I believe the only real two solutions to the trolley problem is either for the person to stop the train and kill themselves (appeal to autonomy) or to simply admit that you cannot make the right decision because you have no way to appeal to one life or lives being more important than another (appeal to autonomy)  Save 100 kill 1 doesn't generally work in most situations.  What if the single guy on the trolley is the next world hero and will save millions?  How can I know?  What if the group of people are suicidal and the singular person had a zest for life?  There's no way to sort out the autonomy or the utility of the matter accurately, this means that the conductor can only appeal to their own autonomy and utility. The fact that I can change around the variables of the train problem and get different candidate options also shows that their are particulars at play here (score)


Utilitarianism values life. It argues that Genocide and extinction are bad because they decrease life/happiness (however, they can be framed as good in the rare case where genocide/extinction would ultimately maximize life/happiness). Again we can use utility as a universal basis for morality. 


While this idea looks good on paper, in real life there is little to no situations where the utility of the matter can be sorted out.  For instance, we have no way to know if another Hitler is going to arise until he already kills a bunch of people, at which point, the utility appeal was a tad late to the game.  Of course, since HItler was violating the autonomy of millions of jews, it logically follows that we can appeal to their autonomy over the autonomy of HItler and take him out after the fact.  So there is no need for utility appeals here. 


How can we determine what constitutes absolute right and wrong? What this argument really boils down to is Moral Absolutism. Moral absolutism asserts that there are certain universal moral principles by which all peoples' actions may be judged. [2]

I would agree that there are certain "objective" principles going on within evolution, such as harm/benefit.  Fair/not fair. etc.  But I don't see these things as being universal.  

To be universal would mean that everybody has these inclinations without a single exception.  Since things like sociopaths and alternative societal moral systems exist, it makes more sense that we're working on an objective standard that is part of our random gene mutations.  This, in my opinion, is the only model that accounts for the near universal nature of morals while also explaining the exceptions.  


The principle of moral supervenience states that moral facts are a function of reality, of the natural world [4]. For example, should Bob pay me $10? Well, that depends on non-moral facts, like, did Bob buy something from me? Does Bob owe me a debt? We base our morality on non-moral facts.

Ahh,  but you're not citing universals right here, you're citing particulars.  If it's "should bob pay me 10?" in universalism, then the answer is always yes or no.  But in particularism, which is the polar opposite, Bob's debt is decided by the particulars. 


The only way a moral is universal is if you have all the particulars first.  So I can't say Bob should pay me 10 dollars every time.  All I can say is that Bob should pay me 10 dollars every time scenario X arises.  That's the key difference here. (good job bob)



In summation.  I would say that me an my opponent are not far off from each other and the real argument is over methodology.  

Your floor. 






Forfeited
Round 3
Published:
Since I have no R2 to rebuttal, I will be forced to pass. 

I'm guessing that my opponent lost track due to the way notifications work on this website (happens to all of us sometimes)

I will await for my opponent to rebuttal my R2 statement and then we'll move to interrogation. 
Forfeited
Round 4
Published:
Sad face 
Forfeited
Round 5
Forfeited
Forfeited
Added:
--> @Ramshutu
Touche
Instigator
#9
Added:
--> @Wrick-It-Ralph
It’s so I don’t have to worry about the debate later :)
#8
Added:
--> @Ramshutu
Wow, you're punctuality is stunning. :)
Instigator
#7
Added:
--> @MrMaestro
If you're talking about the beginning. I mean to elaborate on it but forgot, but I explained it in my rebuttals.
Instigator
#6
Added:
--> @Wrick-It-Ralph
Thank you. Some of those contradictions in your opening argument made me laugh. Should be fun to discuss.
Contender
#5
Added:
--> @MrMaestro
Taking the hard skeptic approach I see. Respect.
Instigator
#4
Added:
--> @MrMaestro
Yeah, I noticed that people just end up quoting each other down to the end and the debates are hard to follow, So I figured two rebuttals for each leads to a circle anyway and some live debates have question rounds so I wanted to try it a few times. good luck.
Instigator
#3
Added:
--> @Wrick-It-Ralph
Yes, it looks interesting. The questions only round is new to me but I'm willing to try.
Contender
#2
Added:
--> @MrMaestro
You read the Description right?
Instigator
#1
#4
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Reason:
Con ff the majority of the rounds, that's poor conduct
#3
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Reason:
Forfeit for sho
#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:
FF......................
#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:
Full forfeit