Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Devil's Advocate

  1. Mar 20, 2003 #1


    User Avatar

    Hmm... Inspired by a thread in HW help...
    The idea of this thread is a creative exercise at arguing the unarguable. The way it works is kinda like my Ask a stupid question... thread, but in a serious fashion.

    Someone poses an argument that at first glance seems utterly unarguable.
    Someone argues in support of this argument, even if he does not support it himself, and leaves another argument for the next poster.

    Each argument can be as long as you wish, but with one requirement. Humor can be used, but not in mocking or sarcasm. You must try to argue each case as sincerely as you can, even if it appears absurd. Will anyone manage it?

    Ok, I'll start: Killing is not wrong.

    Anyone wanna argue this?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 20, 2003 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    This is a great idea ! Do I understand you correctly; you want people to argue in favor of a position they do not genuinely support, but without setting up a "straw man" argument? This could prove quite difficult... should be good exercise.
  4. Mar 20, 2003 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    The entirety of nature is killing. All animal life devours its nutrition from either plants or other animals. We humans have simply abstracted that idea a step further. We compete in ways that hide the cruelty. We earn more money, allowing us to buy nice homes and good food and to provide for our families. This hides the brutal truth. Every calorie we consume is one a starving child is denied. Every square foot of roof over our head is shelter denied to the homeless. Our salaries and stock portfolios are tally sheets of other peoples' deaths.

    So, is all success evil? No. It is the natural drive of any being to thrive, and ensure their offspring thrives. It is clear that since success can not be evil, and success is killing, killing is not evil. The delusion is not in the bank statement which hides death, it is that civilized man does not kill to survive. Of course we do. It is time that we not just be civilized, but that we also se aside our hypocracy. It is better that we just come out and be honest about it and be proud of our capacity to kill our rivals.

    Good hunting,

    PS - I'm going to go brush my teeth now.
  5. Mar 21, 2003 #4


    User Avatar

    LURCH: Yep

    Erm.... Njorl, you forgot to put in an argument yourself.

    I'll just do one then.
    Why democracy is not a good form of government....

    Democracy, invented by the greeks is a form of government considered most advanced by the majority of the western world. But this belief in the power of democracy is not correct.
    Democracy is based on the idea of majority rule - it has a generally utilitarian philosophy where the happiness and contentment of the whole decides which decisions are made. However, this has many problems.
    1st, democracy naturally leads to an inherently very unstable government. This is evidenced by incidents such as the creation of the Nazi regime etc. Any government sufficiently opportunistic and successful at pandering to the will of the people can hence cause anarchy, and thus jeopardise the well being of the majority of society.
    2nd, democracy depends not on the actual effectiveness of government, but strictly on the will of the people. A candidate that is popular would be voted in favour of one that is actually hard working and good at his job. It is more effective to start off with a strong government and gather public support, than rely on public support to choose a strong government. In many ways, ignorance is bliss.
    3rd, democracy is inefficient. Needless bureacracy and the need for consensus usually results in watered down and delayed decision making. This effect is greater for larger nations. It is no surprise that history is filled with great figures, not great committees.
    Finally, the inherent failure of democracy is that it is simply unnatural. In the animal world, decisions are taken by the most effective and powerful leader, as chosen by natural selection. The existence of a leader based heirarchy itself is founded on the idea of a singular figure, not with the agreement of many. In terms of evolution and survival, it is simply not practical. This factor is not untrue in modern society, with new threats to society from sources such as terrorism etc. In these cases, freedom and representation should be sacrificed for the stability of society. Despite Romantic notions of freedom over all, what is important for the happiness of the whole is not individual freedom but a continued, uncluttered and stable surroundings from an appropiate government.

    Next, will someone do:
    Scientific progress is NOT a good thing...
  6. Mar 21, 2003 #5


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    I find it interesting that we both resorted to an argument based on what is natural to support something we disagree with. That leads to a good topic if someone wants to take a shot.

    Nature is inherently evil.

  7. Mar 21, 2003 #6
    Science brings knowledge, and knowledge is power. Power yields itself to abuse. Selfishness exists in all people, and there is an uneven distribution of selfishness among people. The most selfish of us will search out the power that scientific progress brings to benefit oneself to the detriment of others.
    Even in those who are not among the most selfish, selfish ambitions exist--ambitions whose collective destructivity are limited only by circumstance, and such circumstantial barriers are broken down by scientific progress.

    Current examples include environmental destruction and the exploitation of laborers in sweatshops.

    The founding fathers of the United States realized the problem of power consolidation and established checks and balances. Scientific progress is a consolidation of power.
  8. Mar 22, 2003 #7
    I forgot to present an argument idea. Either someone can do the one that Njorl presented, or this one:

    Teddy bears are ugly and undermine our values as Americans.
  9. Mar 22, 2003 #8

    Well, I'm ready to argue!
  10. Mar 24, 2003 #9
    Teddy bears are ugly. They host 6 million dust mites at any given time of year. They can suffocate their owner in one night of terror and they are supposed to represent a fire fighter (Smokey) when they actually are potent fire hazards to most homes in the US of A and abroad.

    The american president who endorsed the idea of teddy bears had no inkling about what he was doing. It is blatently obvious that putting blind trust in a pair of glass eyes will get you into the next world... pronto!

    Please explain the virtues of eating glass.
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2003
  11. Mar 25, 2003 #10
    Glass can help move waste along it is a super fiber. Not only but it eating glass helps bring temprorary relife to the recycling groups by save soem glass for next time. Glass also helps cut your insides bleeding out toxens and inpurities.

    thats all i got

    ok now i make one right?
    Stealing the sickly's canes and oxygen tanks has alwasy been a good idea.

    sorry for the spelling.
  12. Mar 26, 2003 #11
    Yep, it is definitely a good idea to steal sickly peoples' canes and oxygen tanks. I say this because this is very fun for some people, and doing something that is fun makes you happy. Happy people, in turn, live longer, so while ending someone else's life - much quicker than they may have originally anticipated - you may just be increasing your own life span. And, as njorl (and others) have already pointed out, survival of self should take priority.

    The Nazis had the right idea.

    (BTW, excellent idea for the thread, FZ+)
  13. Mar 27, 2003 #12
    How long do we wait, FZ+, before just responding to ourselves, and trying a new question?
  14. Mar 27, 2003 #13


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    "The Nazis had the right idea."

    I have too much fear of success for this one. Some skinhead somewhere might read it and quote me. After he commits his hate-crime, the FBI comes to my door..."We'd like to ask you a few questions. Can you come with us please?"

  15. Mar 27, 2003 #14
    Ok i will take this one but if i dont show up later i will be in mexico under the alias of Greg Dicemen. OK the nazi's saw the worlds future crisis of overpopulation and decided to solve it BUT they target only one race instead of randome elderly people...

    Women shouldent be able to vote for obvious reasons: enjoy
  16. Mar 27, 2003 #15
    Obviously women are more susceptible to random and dangerous mood swings and irrational thought. Becuase such bouts of insensibility occur regularly and often and can last for quite sometime, it is the only sensible conclusion that women must not be allowed to vote, becuase it is very likely that nearly one quarter of all the voting women would be crazy at the time. Such a great risk is obviously not acceptable and women should be regarded as convicted felons and have their voting rights stripped.

    Okay now for the next guy. Argue for or against abortion. Choose the side which you do not support and try to make an argument for it. I think this might be too hard though, so if everyone is too chicken just try "Pres. Bush is a good/bad president" again arguing for the side which you don't support.
  17. Mar 28, 2003 #16


    User Avatar

    Nature is inherently evil

    To argue this, we must prove 3 points.
    1. Evil exists.
    2. Something can have an inherent character.
    3. Nature is inherently evil.

    1. The assumption of the existence of evil is in itself an axiom. While logically we may formulate arguments for it's non-existence, in reality it is a concept that we apply each day. When we arrest a criminal we say it's evil. We say paedophilia is evil. So clearly the idea of evil does exist. Not just that, but the existence of concepts in common between different peoples indicates that beneath the mundane concept of this is good or evil for me, an objective evil does exist. We may see little evidence of it, but all signs of human existence point towards it.

    2. While physics apparently invokes the idea of flexibility in the universe, at it's most innate is the idea of inherent properties. Quarks are inherently charged. Hadrons inherently have mass. Light has an inherent speed that is independent of all it's factors. The existence of these inherencies are indisputable, confirmed by dearths of evidence. Since nature is part of the human perception of the universe, it must resemble the universe. So the inherency that lies in the universe also lies in nature.

    3. Throughout human history, we have always had the concept of progress. Technological progress. Evolutionary progress. Progress by the way of the universe is always something that is good. It follows logically that nature, the most old and basic is also the most backward, the most evil. We can see this by it's indifference. What is most evil is not hatred - that implies respect, but indifference, which only humiliates, condemns. Nature must neccessarily be evil.
  18. Mar 28, 2003 #17
    Well, since I disagree with abortions, I'll have to argue for them, right? Alright:

    What exactly is the point of saving one life to ruin 2 (and possibly more)? A person who has an abortion doesn't want that child. If they just keep the child, their lives could be ruined entirely, and the life of the child that they "saved" can be ruined as a side-effect. People need to realize that to never have a conscious thought is better than living a full life of pain. This world is not the kind of place where you can raise happy children - so even if you think you want a baby, consider the fact that you are most likely to just create another loser/addict/killer/rapist/thief/etc...

    Now for mine, hmm... Government should be able to use torture as punishment for even the smallest of crimes (this one may prove to be too difficult (even though I am coming up with a few fairly good answers, right now), if so I'll post a different one.
  19. Mar 28, 2003 #18
    Have you ever visted a country where such ideas are in place?
    They are graffety free and except for some anti goverment crimes it is basically crime free. THis will send a message to our gangs our robbers and our J-walkers obay the law if you want to keep your other thumb

    It is acceptable to kill a wonderful man if you stand to gain millions
  20. Mar 28, 2003 #19
    Yes. If Jimi Hendrix was still alive, he'd be ~60 yo now, and probably
    1) still playing the blues, but only in small pubs
    2) doing a stadium gig once a year
    3) the boss of a record company
    4) in drug/psycho therapy
    5) a Zen-buddhist or something
    6) father of 3 nice children and 9 grandchildren, living on a ranch
    7) starring in 'The Hendrixes' on MTV
    but surely: not a legend.
    See: It's better someone killed him by an overdose in 1970.

    Reading books is bad for your health.
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2003
  21. Mar 28, 2003 #20
    it makes you fat and lazy becuase you dont get out much
    the paper could be printed on a hazardus substance like say aids. Book mites
    and some peopel hide food in books so it also contributes to overweight

    popen caps is only right if it is in whitey
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook