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Does the end justify the means?

Debate Information

What I am talking about more specifically, is utillitarianism vs deontology. Utillitarianism is the philosophical viewpoint that the end justifies the means, or rather that any actions are justified if they minimize total suffering. Deontology is the viewpoint that there are certain things which are just bad, no matter what the result of doing that thing may be. Such as killing, stealing, etc etc. I am a utillitarian, and I look forward to debating and seeing your viewpoints. 
  1. Live Poll

    Does the end justify the means (utillitarianism is correct)

    4 votes
    1. YEEEEEEEEEE BADMAN da end justifize de memez
      50.00%
    2. NAMAN DAMSUUUUUUUN SOME TINGS r just bad bro
      50.00%
Humanity should have two goals.
1.To reduce the suffering of the living.
2.The pursuit of the truth.




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  • MayCaesarMayCaesar 4021 Pts   -  
    I find both to be awful.

    Utilitarianism is one of those viewpoints that are built around an ethereal concept that does not manifest itself in any tangible way in the physical reality. What is "total suffering" or "total well-being"? I do not see how you can somehow sum over individual people's sufferings or well-beings in any sensible way: these things are not additive. You cannot add Jack's suffering to Martha's suffering and get some tangible quantity.
    Like with other ethereal currencies such as karma or sin, utilitarianism pursues an abstract goal that is not at all related to the well-being on the individual pursuing it. How does the individual benefit from maximization of this currency? It well might be possible that minimization of "sum of sufferings" necessitates the individual taking a bulk of that sum on their shoulders, and then they are forced to literally act against themselves, which is illogical from any imaginable perspective.

    Deontology, on the other hand, detaches an action from its effects in the real world. When this happens, there is no longer a point comparing the quality of different actions. What is the difference between murdering someone and helping them out if we do not care about the consequences of doing either? Again, one has to resort to some sort of abstract ruleset that has nothing to do with reality. Hence people look for abstract rulesets in such places as religious books or ideologically driven pamphlets; they are completely lost intellectually and are at the mercy of the next charlatan who manages to grab a hold on their emotional weaknesses.

    What I personally profess is what I would call "rationalism". It is philosophically somewhat similar to Ayn Rand's Objectivism, but is derived from different considerations and does not feature any dogmatism. I begin with the obvious premise that any living organism strives to maximize its happiness (loosely defined as the amount of positive neural feedback consistently received from one's body). I continue with noticing that, in order to do so, the organism must be as much in tune with the reality as possible: if the organism is mistaken about something in reality, then its actions will not have the consequences it expects, and it will not be able to move towards higher levels of happiness consistently. Thus, it is essential for the organism to learn as much as possible about the world around them and adjust their actions accordingly.
    The focus, again, is on the organism's own well-being. Other organisms' well-being is only a consideration in so far as it contributes to it. This naturally leads to individualism and everything deriving from it, such as basic human rights and what some people call "rational egoism".

    I have thought about this for over a decade, and I do not see any other viable philosophical construct that would contradict mine. I will say, however, that many people confuse deontology with something else that is viable. There is huge utility to having certain nearly indomitable rules that apply always, regardless of their consequences. Hard rules allow one to plan for the future, while flexible rules that change all the time based on the "needs of time" throw everything into chaos.
    Imagine if you were a professional chess player, but the rules of chess constantly changed slightly. Say, tomorrow FIDE, the leading chess organization in the world, declares, "en-passant captures are now outlawed". You have to rework your entire opening repertoire and reconsider many strategical and tactical elements you have worked on polishing for the last 20 years. After you are done with this hard work, FIDE comes up with something else: "queens can now only move by no more than 5 squares per move". You see where this is going... The chess world would fall apart quickly were this the case.
    Yet many people and even entire societies live their lives just like that.
    Day 1: "I am starting this amazing diet... It should be good!"
    Day 10: "Oh, this diet is too hard. I will relax it a little bit."
    Day 25: "Dang, this is just not working. I am giving up and going back to eating as usual".
    Day 50: "Eh, I am in a bad physical shape again. Let us try a new diet..."
    Or:
    Year 1: "In our new Constitution, we declare the right to completely unmitigated free speech for every individual".
    Year 12: "Hmm, we have a lot of people saying bad things. Let us restrict the free speech some..."
    Year 48: "Wow, how did we fall so far into totalitarianism? Revolution time: we will resurrect free speech!"
    Year 63: "Perhaps we need to force private companies to enforce free speech on their online platforms, so there is no bias there."
    Year 95: "Again, our free speech is in tatters... Revolution again!"
    Certain rules found to be extremely efficient are worth preserving permanently. Even if there is potentially a better alternative out there, it is important to only change those rules when you are absolutely, 105% certain that doing so will not bring back the issues the original rule was created to solve to begin with.
    This is not the mindset many people have. They are happy to change the rules all the time based on the latest popular narrative, completely unconcerned with the consequences of getting rid of a rule that has been holding certain nefarious elements of the society back for 200 years. Modern governments introduce or remove laws in thousands a day now, creating complete chaos in which no planning is possible, and the best way to consistently thrive becomes to ally with someone in the government and get them to promote your interests at the expense of everyone else's.
    Blastcat
  • BlastcatBlastcat 178 Pts   -   edited September 12

    When it comes to morality, it's case by dreary case.
    So, I don't make a general rule.

    Sometimes, Im pragmatic.. I would lie, steal and even kill someone if it saved more lives. Wars are like that. I hate killing people with a passion, but i would if I had to. That never means that killing people is morally good.

    It just means that im being forced by circumstances to do something that i otherwise would never consider.
    So, the circumstances matter.

    In real estate it's "location, location, location."
    In morality it's "context, context, context".
    Plaffelvohfen
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