@lupita just one question... Aren't the minorities part of the community? And when they change the laws, is this not the case of the community redefining for itself the definitions of right and wrong?
@sorrack The issue becomes, as Con seems to argue and I agree, that the minorities are not always considered in debate and consideration for legislation/law. Therefore, they may, after a long time period, become a part of that community, but because of that margin for oppression and misrepresentation, laws and even the community, are not inherently always telling us what is 'wrong.'
@lupita I assume you mean "considered" in the western, democratic sense where they are not an active participant in the construction of the specific wording of some formal law as opposed to "considered" as in thought about while the law was being constructed. The former may occasionally be the case, and is only relevant in certain western societies, but the latter seems obviously false. But anyway, that one point seems to be the turning point for all the judges. Thanks for attempting to clarify why. I appreciate your time.
Thank you for the debate. I am envious of your composure and clear thinking. You gave me a lot to think about.
@sorrack thank you, this was definitely a good debate. Thanks for being amenable to the time change! It's the early morning for me and that's always when my brain works the best.
Fantastic debate you two, well done :clap::clap::clap:
This debate reminded me of how much I used to love Ethics 101 in university! Great job both of you, it pretty much came down to @sorrack arguing that a wrong is determined based on the laws of a given society at a given point in time, whereas @joshuatreeretreat insisted that there is indeed a universal wrong no matter where or when you are in the world (the idea of excluding part of the society in determining the laws themselves that govern these excluded people)Both arguments are sound and are often heard in debates surrounding morality. If I was Con, I would have used the "golden rule" of morality to further strengthen my case, which is 'Treat others as you would wish to be treated', or 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you'. If con can manage to get pro to agree to that golden rule as a measure of what's right and wrong, then game over... regardless of the society or time, no lawmaker would want to be disallowed from voting or participating in law making. And so if that is sufficient in establishing that banning some people from voting is wrong, it would then strengthen the argument that con was making (which was strong enough, anyway, but would have been even stronger..)
A lot of women in Saudi Arabia find their demonstrable oppression to be good and right.Similarly, female genital mutilation in Africa is considered to be normal, neccessary and right by the women themselves.These 2 examples show that wrong acts can be legal and right, even to the "victims" that endure.
@jameson14 I don't recall Pro making that argument, but I would say that the majority of women in both of those situations do not consider those things to be necessary/good/right. Internalized misogyny and adopting self-harming ideas to gain a feeling of power by proxy/maintain self-preservation is a huge topic kind of out of the scope of this debate. The fact remains that if women had no say in making those laws and no direct participation to overturn them, their "agreement" with them is speculative at best.
@joshuatreeretreat I have been considering what you said along these lines during the debate and it seems to me that your own priority for participation, inclusion and justice is only held by you because you happen to live in the Western world where these are important aspects of laws. You are projecting this as a universal ideal, when it appears to be another instance of might made right? I didn't articulate this during the debate, but I am just curious how you would respond to such a charge.
@sorrack Inclusion and Justice are/were important aspects of "laws" in many places that were colonized or had their governments overthrown by powers they didn't consent to being governed by. I think it IS a universal ideal that people want to participate in the shape and form of their own society- people protest and sometimes do manage to overthrow non-inclusive governments like dictatorships in such high numbers to make this obvious. It's not "might" making right when no one person or group is mightier than any other, because ALL have a say. As very recent, specific examples I'd offer up places whose democratically chosen leaders were ousted BECAUSE they wanted the actual people of their country to benefit from resource wealth (i.e., economic inclusivity) like Salvador Allende of Chile or Mohammed Mossadegh of Iran, who were ousted in coups by the US government for trying to nationalize mineral mining, telecom, and oil production respectively.
@joshuatreeretreat this line of reasoning seems to imply, at least to me, that if there is a moment when consent to be governed was revoked, then prior to that the population consented to be governed. If consent is given, then agreement to the definition of right and wrong is implied. As the dynamics of the population changed, so it seems did the accepted defintitions of right and wrong. This doesn't speak to an underlying universal. I would go so far as to suggest that the trend towards inclusiveness is directly correlated with the continued and increasing influence of those brought up under western laws and as a result of western ideas of right and by wrong. This seems to be demonstrated by the fact that those countries least influenced by the west have continued to make laws in only seem reasonable when viewed with the understanding that those cultures have different definitions of right and wrong.
A good debate that I enjoyed watching on an interesting topic. And, a difficult topic as well. I'm naturally Con on this topic, though for pretty different reasons than came up in this debate. You can read an essay I wrote on morality here if you are curioushttp://www.sigfriedtrent.com/2017/02/thoughts-on-subjective-morality/First a few style tips...Pro - Good job preparing a nice case. My only suggestion there is to practice reading with a less monotone style. I had to force myself to pay close attention. The flat delivery actually makes it harder to understand without natural inflection. Also, you really want to try and end the debate by affirming the arguments you opened with, even if only in summary.Con - I've watched a few of your debates now, you always open strong, but then get a little less organized as you go. True of all of us I think, but try to hone your overall message or story a bit as you move towards the end of the debate. The middle is where you discover the key issues you can win on, then hone them down for a final punch at the end. The topic....Pro makes a very definitional case here, the core, as I would describe it is that the communal judgment of right and wrong is expressed as law and communal judgment is superior to individual judgment. Specifically, the Pro claims that any subjective judgment or emotional appeal is suspect and we should reject it.He also works to forestall a couple of counter claims. That's a good use of time if you think they are likely and you have a simple case like this. All in all, its a good solid case to start from.Con throws out some prepared attacks, and because Pro has a pretty narrow case claim, I felt many didn't really address it directly. Some of them were just hard for me to fully understand, aka they seemed unclear to me. However, past her opening rebuttal, she develops two strong lines of attack that were perfectly clear.One was that laws in some nations were deemed not moral by other nations, or laws in some nations, we would not personally deem moral.The second was that in many nations, the community is not actually making the laws, only powerful leaders or specific enclaves are. Both are good arguments and were examined from multiple perspectives just to make sure we understood them, and indeed I did.Pro tries to fend these off for the rest of the debate. The first, I think he does pretty well with. His opening pretty well cites that in his standard, a community is the most legitimate authority and judge of moral code, and Con never really thinks to challenge this claim. And when she says that there is a discontinuity in morality from one nation to another, unless she also says that one should have more authority in morality, it doesn't really speak to Pro's case or reasoning. If anything it just feeds into it.The second attack, however, is a lot more fatal to Pro's case and his response is pretty weak. Some communities do have plurality decision making. Sure, but some don't point out Con. The killer is that Pro's standard relies on the community being the best moral judge, and if a nation is just a dictatorship, then the laws don't reflect the community and thus are not moral. Mind you, I think that summary I just wrote is more cutting than the way Con constructed her claim. But none the less I found it to be a match-winning argument.Voting Con
@sigfried Let me begin by thanking you for taking the time to make such a thorough critique. in regards to your style suggestions, in watching the debate it is clear that a decade and more of debating through written prose has not done much to help my stage presence. I will make a concerted effort to work on it. In response to your evaluation of the "match-winning argument", it seems to me that you, and several others, were taken in by what I believe to be an appeal to emotion masquerading as a critique of "unjust" governments. This argument is only effective if you have a worldview heavily influenced by western laws and their corresponding definitions of right and wrong. Consider the language you used: "Just a dictatorship". As if a dictatorship is some illegitimate form of government. The idea that dictatorships and similar governments don't take into account the community while governing seems to me to stem from a understanding of these governments heavily influenced by Hollywood and poorly reflective of reality. Consider that when dictators or kings are over thrown, they are not replaced with democracy, but rather with another dictator or king. To me this has a clear implication. The communities themselves support the idea of their leader defining right and wrong. If this seems "wrong" to you, it is simply because you are measuring it against the definitions of right and wrong you are more familiar with. From your own article:"In a larger society, we come together to agree on various standards, and just like I can apply my individual moral standards to make a judgment, I can also call upon societies mutual standards to make a judgment. As Americans, we deem Hitler’s actions evil and against our ethos of all men being created equal and entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. As Hitler deemed some entitled to life and others not, we judge him to be evil as a society whatever he and Nazi Germany may have thought about it.When the moral views of different people and different groups are at odds, you will get conflict. Sometimes that conflict is little more than a polite discussion, other times it is a life and death struggle for the ability to enforce one or the other moral viewpoint."This seems to me to indicate that you agree, at least in principle, that communities can come together to define right and wrong. This seems to suggest that given a situation where you have no subjective opinion of an action, you would defer to the society's definition of right and wrong. When groups or individuals differ as to the definition of right and wrong in a community, then conflict happens. When the conflict is resolved, what is left is the new definition of right and wrong. A single fight, a single court case, can literally redefine right or wrong in a single moment. As a self professed moral relativist I'm not sure how you would be naturally con, but I can only blame myself lacking the wit and rhetoric to over come what you and others have seen as a strong argument against law defining right an wrong. I do hope that if you watch more of my debates, you will let me know if my style has improved. Thank you again.
@sorrack Happy to offer insights. :) One reading tip I can offer is a means to practice that is fairly fun. That is to read children's books aloud to kids if you have the chance. The situation tends to encourage you to be more emotive in reading, and the more emotive you get, the more the kids reward it with their amusement. (Not that that would be the ideal style for debate but it's a good way to shake up your usual reading aloud patterns.)---- as to the "fatal" argument ----I'd like to think I wasn't working on an emotional level, but I can't deny that I am western born and raised, and have some strong biases. My thinking (tainted as it may well be) was that your opening case relied on the notion that there was broad participation in the society and that this was what justified its judgment over individual judgment. But that might be me reading some of my cultural bias into what you are saying.But if not, if someone is a dictator (and dictators do have some social support, though often primarily through a cadre of elites) then it more amounts to a single person's opinion. And that would run afoul of your "subjectivity test". Aka if a moral code is simply the will or whim of one man, then we must throw it out as subjective. If a single man or even just a small handful determine law, and thus morality, then surely it is a subjective code even if others are forced by sword or tradition to obey them.You also fend off any claim to a "higher authority" yet many of histories dictators justified their rule on divine right. Mind you, Con didn't really express these claims in these words, merely pointed a lack of participation by the masses. I think both of us were focused on this idea of community as meaning pluralism of opinion having sway. If you ran the case again, that's another idea you would want to head off at the pass and make it clear and replace community with "sovereign state"---- As to my own moral construction ----I like to set myself apart from being a moral relativist, or a moral objectivist. I don't, as moral relativists might say, see two different culture's values as equally justified. Nor do I think there is a universal and objective moral code to be discovered.I think that every individual sets their own moral compass and makes their own moral judgments. So when I judge morality, I do it by my moral standard only. And I claim my moral standard to be superior to anyone who disagrees with me. So I am free to judge Hitler as evil even if Hitler doesn't agree, or all of Germany, or God almighty (if he existed). I think everyone else does the same for all practical purposes.We may have many similar moral beliefs due to our upbringing, culture, and personal experiences. We can even break our own moral codes or judge our own morality to be suspect. But the key is, we are, individually, the final judges of morality. The gods of our own minds and will as it were.Society is a power struggle between individual moral agents. Some of whom choose to submit, while others choose to rebel. But always the individual makes a judgment of some kind and it is these judgments that create what we know as morality.So from my perspective, I immediately reject your claim that any moral judgment that is subjective is discredited. I claim that is the only truth there is of morality. It is always, inescapably, subjective.
Well, I guess that is that. Good luck on the next round.