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Debate Info

27
12
Yes, because... No, because...
Debate Score:39
Arguments:35
Total Votes:40
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 Yes, because... (23)
 
 No, because... (10)

Debate Creator

zephyr20x6(2386) pic



Is belief on insufficient evidence always immoral?

W.K. Clifford argues that belief on insufficient evidence is always immoral, due to our beliefs having an effect on this world. He uses an anecdote, a story, to get his point across. A man has a boat that he hasn't ever took in for maintenance and is responsible for taking a group of men out to sea with him, he disarms his doubts with the thought "My boat has never sank yet, so why would it now?". whether or not his boat sinks and all his men die, to believe on insufficient evidence that his boat was in good condition was immoral since he was putting these men's lives at risk. Of course beliefs that are maintained as very personal may have little effect on the actual world. Is their a moral dimension to belief? is it right or wrong to believe on little evidence?

Yes, because...

Side Score: 27
VS.

No, because...

Side Score: 12
2 points

There is a moral dimension to our beliefs, we have a moral obligation to justify what we think is true, and false. We also have a moral obligation for similar reasons to not be ignorant on all the evidence that is out there, to be open to data, facts, etc and to pursue them. Our beliefs are nearly inherrent on the effect on the world around us, as they to an extent dictate our actions, and how we express our viewpoints of the world. What one man may do because of a belief, another man may do different from that same belief, in any case, we want our actions to be related to reality as best as we possibly can, thus our sense of reality needs to be efficient. The only way to keep our beliefs from effect the world is to make them personal, and disregard them when conducting ourselves in reality. In spirituality, we have two types of theists, those whom are willing to accommodate their belief in god to their perception of reality (pantheists, deists, pandeists, spiritualists, etc), and those whom are willing to accommodate their perception of reality to their belief in god (fundamentalists, creation "scientists", extremists, etc). The former is not nearly as consequential as the latter, however the latter exists, for the same reason the former exists, because the belief exists. To detach belief from the way we conduct ourselves in reality, is cutting off the poison thorns of said believe, but leaving the stem to allow it to grow those thorns again. Of course, I think there are at least two ways to morally judge someone, thus people are immoral in two different senses, and this requires differentiated dispositions towards them, humans immoral by intention, and humans immoral by consequence. A human can be immoral by both consequence and intention and usually is, a human can also be immoral by consequence, but not intention in some cases, a man can also be immoral by intention but not consequence in possibly rare circumstances. Belief on insufficient evidence, along with ignorance, is immoral, but not by intention (unless one's intention IS to be ignorant, or unsubstantiated), but by consequence.

Side: Yes, because...
Cartman(18192) Disputed
1 point

We also have a moral obligation for similar reasons to not be ignorant on all the evidence that is out there, to be open to data, facts, etc and to pursue them.

What if there isn't evidence out there? Is it really immoral to have a belief based on a small amount of evidence if only a small amount of evidence exists?

Side: No, because...
zephyr20x6(2386) Disputed
2 points

"What if there isn't evidence out there?"

Utterly no evidence at all what-so-ever, is insufficient evidence.

"Is it really immoral to have a belief based on a small amount of evidence if only a small amount of evidence exists?"

Not if you can argue how that small amount of evidence is sufficient.

Side: Yes, because...
2 points

Examples:

Bible: Crusades, Inquisitions, homophobia, slavery, etc.

Quran: Misogyny, female genital mutilation, 9/11, suicide bombings, etc.

Eugenics: Holocaust

Lysenko's Biology: Soviet famine that cost over millions of lives.

Etc.

Side: Yes, because...
1 point

Is unjustified belief always immoral? Or because beliefs can lead to the intent of actions; are means always more important than ends?

If I come to the same conclusion as another person but through a different route, one they do not find valid, do my actions then always become immoral?

The inclusion of the absolute use of 'always' makes this a problematic statement. If one were to find one counter example then lack of belief is not 'always' immoral. I of course am open to having my mind changed.

Do not pollute.

Lets say I want to reduce pollution due to the amount of suffering it can cause and I feel partly responsible for pollution as I buy products that likely contribute to pollution. I have lots of scientific data showing how populations are negatively affected by pollution as my warrants for my actions. I believe that the evidence suggests I should reduce pollution.

But someone else wants to reduce pollution and they are using the bible for their justification. There are many passages in the bible that deal with caring for the land, not polluting it as the Christian god had given it to the people to care for. They believe that the evidence they use suggests they should reduce pollution not because it will help people but because a god commanded it.

In both instances the end belief leads to people taking better care of the environment even though many people would say the bible is unjustified.

The intent matters here as it is informed by belief, I say alleviating suffering that consumerism plays into is moral as I am a consumer but is the Christian acting to please a god or to help a population their actions negatively effect? One may say pleasing a god is moral due to the benefits that arise as a side effect to their actions. I disagree, this action is akin to giving to charity to raise ones social status rather than to help the poor, it is a selfish act.

While the means differ but the ends remain the same we still judge the means or intent with great weight as it affects how we view the ends. Take for instance an act where someone dies as a result of another. If intent to kill were found then the act would be judged more harsh than if it were an accident.

It is the belief that informs our intent of our actions. In areas of great importance we owe ourselves and others to exercise great care to form our beliefs on the best evidence we can get or our actions ill be misguided.

Side: Yes, because...

I do think that this dangerously borders thought crimes, however, I don't think the PEOPLE who hold beliefs are immoral, but that the belief itself is immoral. We all are immoral to a certain extent (littering can be considered immoral, and I've done it before). So while I think belief not matching the amount of evidence is immoral, the whole person doing as such isn't immoral, just guilty of doing something immoral, which is usually unintentional. (like littering).

Side: Yes, because...

Of course. Examples: Believing that a partner cheated on you without sufficient proof, locking up a convict without sufficient proof, false accusations, especially when it comes to actual or alleged sex crimes or murder.

Side: Yes, because...
3 points

For those who believe, no evidence is required.

For those who doubt, no evidence will ever be enough.

Side: No, because...
zephyr20x6(2386) Disputed
1 point

For those who believe, no evidence is required.

Isn't that problematic though? If our beliefs effect the world, then we better justify our beliefs via logic and evidence. This isn't just about religious beliefs (although C.W. Clifford was at least as far as I know, rather secular and skeptical of organized religion). If my political beliefs isn't based on sufficient evidence or logic, and I am a politician, that may be problematic, and if I choose to not justify my political beliefs, my actions could lead to consequences that deter the happiness/consent of others? You would agree that deterring or harming the happiness/content of others is immoral right?

For those who doubt, no evidence will ever be enough.

Although, your argument is rather black and white, not all believers feel that evidence isn't required, and not all "doubters" feel that no evidence is enough. Of course a believer does probably have a lower standard of evidence where a "doubter's" standard of evidence is higher. Although this does bring up a question for me, thus (from my point of view, I'm not the higher authority on what arguments are valuable) this was a rather valuable argument for bringing a crucial point to me. If belief on insufficient evidence is always immoral, then doesn't that make doubt on a sufficient amount of evidence also immoral? (Of course I suspect this might have been your point, no?) If I don't believe in something, and thus don't act according to that belief, that can lead to consequences as well, and thus immoral if the belief does possess sufficient evidence.

Side: Yes, because...
Hitler(2364) Disputed
1 point

Logic and evidence only get you so far in reasoning.

The evidently less probable option can be the true one.

The less probable bet reaps higher rewards and you feel damn good when you bet against what logic told you to do and you win while your 'smart' friends lose to you.

This can be investing in a helluva risky career or in a partner that everyone says is nothing but bad for you. It's not only about the literal art of gambling.

It can even be betting on a higher power that will only reward those who bet on it in their lifetime and will eternally punish those who dared to use logic and evidence to justify their incorrect conclusion.

Side: No, because...
1 point

How do you know what the right amount of evidence is? In Clifford's boat example, the lack of evidence is immoral if the boat goes down, but fine if the boat stays afloat. Immorality would come from suppressing knowledge or ignoring concerns. It is fine to say that the boat has never sunk, so it should be able to make it, assuming it has taken the number of people before. Saying the boat has never sunk, but not taking into account that there are more people now than the boat has ever supported would be immoral. Saying the boat has never sunk, so it definitely won't sink this time is immoral. Not having safety equipment because you believe the ship can't possibly sink would be immoral. Or saying the ship is safe because it hasn't sunk, but you have noticed structural damage would also be immoral.

Side: No, because...
zephyr20x6(2386) Disputed
1 point

How do you know what the right amount of evidence is?

That is a VERY good question Cartman. My answer is we have to rely on our ability to use logic, if it can be logically argued that the amount of evidence is sufficient, that is how we know.

In Clifford's boat example, the lack of evidence is immoral if the boat goes down, but fine if the boat stays afloat.

Clifford, actually argues that in either case it is immoral, because in either case he still put his men at risk for not making sure it hasn't worn down.

It is fine to say that the boat has never sunk, so it should be able to make it, assuming it has taken the number of people before.

Is it? As you have said, boats don't stay in good condition forever, of course if it sinks for the first time, it didn't sink before. They don't last forever, they require maintenance, logically sooner or later the boat will sink if it is never checked for still being in good condition.

Not having safety equipment because you believe the ship can't possibly sink would be immoral. Saying the boat has never sunk, so it definitely won't sink this time is immoral.

Agreed which is why one should look into the boats condition now and then.

.

everything else you have said, I agree on.

Side: Yes, because...
1 point

That is a VERY good question Cartman. My answer is we have to rely on our ability to use logic, if it can be logically argued that the amount of evidence is sufficient, that is how we know.

It becomes very difficult because most things are foreseeable, sort of. The problem is that it is time consuming to check every possible thing, plus it requires knowing exactly where to check before hand. After an incident you find out what happened and you start checking for that to prevent it from happening again.

Clifford, actually argues that in either case it is immoral, because in either case he still put his men at risk for not making sure it hasn't worn down.

Oh, ok.

Side: Yes, because...
1 point

It's impossible to believe something without sufficient evidence, so the question is rather moot. Immorality is intentional violation of a specific code of ethics. Being in error about the truth of some proposition is never intentional, and therefore cannot be immoral. Unless I'm wrong of course :)

Side: No, because...
zephyr20x6(2386) Disputed
1 point

It's impossible to believe something without sufficient evidence, so the question is rather moot.How so? What is two people have opposing beliefs? does the evidence support them both equally? What about creation scientists that believe evolution isn't a real thing? do they believe on sufficient evidence?Immorality is intentional violation of a specific moral code.

What if that moral code states that those should try to logically justify their beliefs as efficiently as possible?

Being in error about the truth of some proposition is never intentional, and therefore cannot be immoral.

Not necessarily true, there are those that refuse to truly pursue truth, those that blatantly don't want to be justified on why they think what is true as true. If someone refuses to substantiate their viewpoints, they are being intentionally ignorant, and intending to not challenge what they think is true. I would also challenge you on the intention part, I would argue that immorality can be unintended but is still immoral. Surely, things that happen even unintended that are bad behaviors are still bad behaviors right?

Side: Yes, because...
atypican(4873) Disputed
1 point

How so?

Consideration of evidence is the only activity (I know of) by which beliefs are formed. Perhaps you know something of the process of belief formation that I am ignorant of. Please help me if you believe this to be the case

What is two people have opposing beliefs?

That is a case differing interpretation of the same evidence or having noticed different evidence

does the evidence support them both equally?

I can only say that that they have both pondered evidence sufficient for them to believe what they believe.

What about creation scientists that believe evolution isn't a real thing? do they believe on sufficient evidence?

same as above

What if that moral code states that those should try to

logically justify their beliefs as efficiently as possible?

Then to not try would be immoral according to that standard.

Not necessarily true, there are those that refuse to truly

pursue truth, those that blatantly don't want to be

justified on why they think what is true as true.

You mean those who don't feel obliged to be persuasive to others?

If someone refuses to substantiate their viewpoints, they

are being intentionally ignorant, and intending to not

challenge what they think is true.

Intentional ignorance would be refusing to consider someone else's viewpoint, but alas we can't make time with everyone. Avoiding challenges to what we think to be true is surely unwise in many cases, but since we have no choice but to live according to what we think is true, we have to prioritize what's most important to be right about. Surrounding ourselves with caring people, and truths about how to do that, rightly rate pretty high IMHO

I would also challenge you on the intention part, I would argue that immorality can be unintended but is still immoral. Surely, things that happen even unintended that are bad behaviors are still bad behaviors right?

What's bad is bad, of course, but to be immoral one must intentionally violate a specific code of conduct. These standards are based on what's supposedly good and/or bad, not necessarily what actually is.

Side: No, because...