Sunday, March 15, 2009

How to Beat Metaphysics

For those who attended the 2009 San Diego Classic (much love to Sharon Nagatani and Scott York), you'd know that some of us do not believe that metaphysics is a legitimate interpretation of this year's resolution. Measures to defeat it went from discussing it, debating it parli-style, or handing out briefs against it. Here is one such brief, for free, to take and to give to anyone. Use it.

Problems with the Metaphysical Interpretation.

It allows for no clash.

While there is a metaphysical definition of idealism, as my opponent defined it, it does not and cannot clash with pragmatism. Why? Because pragmatism deals with different philosophical subjects, specifically ethics. Pragmatism, according to Dr. Victor Fontaine, Professor of Philosophy, argued that pragmatism is about ethics or epistemology, the study of knowledge, not metaphysics which is the study of reality. Pragmatism, dealing with that is or is not ethical, does not clash with metaphysical idealism, dealing with what is or what is not real

It does not allow for a value debate.

In debate, there are 3 kinds of resolutions. Policy resolutions, in which there is a debate about whether or not to take an action. There are fact resolutions, where one debates about the truth or falsity of a question. And then there are value resolutions, where one debates about the value or worth of something. When my opponent tries to narrow the debate down to metaphysics, the study of reality, and argues that idealism is the right way to look at reality, this is turning it from a debate of value, into a debate of fact. Even if my opponent proves that his version of reality, idealism, is correct, it does not prove if it is more valuable than pragmatism. The way my opponent defines it, we cannot have a debate about worth or value, which is what we are supposed to have.

Metaphysical idealism is not valuable.

I would argue that the idea that reality is based upon or evolved by the mind is morally reprehensible. This leads to the idea of moral relativism, the belief that one’s individual perceptions determine moral reality, which leads to excusing of any and all crimes against humanity, as long as it was justified in that individual’s or group of individual’s perception of reality.

Ethics is more valuable than metaphysics.

I would argue that a debate about the ethics, as my case lines out, is most valuable because it allows us to apply the lessons in our everyday life, indeed as soon as we leave this debate round, we are capable of taking it’s lessons to heart and practicing them as we go about our day. Even if a debate about metaphysics provided clash, was valuable or even about values, it would not allow us to apply it’s lessons to our lives and therefore is not as valuable as the debate that I laid out in my case, a debate about ethical idealism v. ethical pragmatism.

Metaphysical idealism is wrong.

Not only does it provide no clash, has no place in this resolution, is morally bankrupt and isn’t valuable, but idealism, on a metaphysical scale, is simply wrong. Reality is not based upon the mind in any way shape or form. Our minds can perceive reality, but these perceptions, in themselves, do not compose reality. If no one existed and no mind was here to perceive reality, still reality would continue to exist. Philosophers G.E Moore, in his Refutation of Idealism, and David Stowe explain how reality exists completely outside of our ability to perceive. We may perceive something inaccurately, for instance someone in a hypnotic state perceives he is flying. But that is not reality. Clearly the mind is not the ultimate basis of reality. This is not only morally bankrupt, but simply not true.

Reality is based on, or evolved by, the mind; this is metaphysical idealism which claims that no material things exist independently of the mind.

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