Davidson Academy Online Big Questions Invitational

2024 — NSDA Campus, NV/US

Big Questions Debate

Abbreviation BQD
Format Debate
Entry Fee $0.00
Entry 1 competitors per entry

Event Description:

This debate addresses one of the perennial questions at the intersection of philosophy, theology, and science. The question of moral objectivity is the question of whether there are correct answers to moral questions, or facts about morality. What would a moral fact be, or what would it take to make a moral claim true? Moral facts could be about the will of God, about natural law, about what reasons we have as rational creatures, about benefits and harms, and so on. Some people think moral facts would automatically give us motivations to act, if we saw them correctly. Debaters should discuss what it means for something to be objective, as well as address background assumptions about what exists.

One popular negative argument is about moral disagreement. The fact that people disagree about morality is taken as evidence that there are no facts about morality. The affirmative may respond by arguing that there are facts, but morality is hard to understand, our thinking is distorted by self-interest, and not everyone shares relevant beliefs about relevant non-moral facts.

Another related idea is that you cannot prove that a moral claim is true or false. Both sides should think about their standards of proof and evidence. We can give excellent reasons why something may be true, but not all will be convinced. Does that mean we are wrong? If disagreement makes us doubt moral objectivity, how is moral disagreement different from disagreement in the sciences, which doesn't usually make us skeptical of the existence of right answers? Another form of the argument from disagreement involves other cultures. Cultural relativism in this context could mean that because different cultures have different moral views, that may disprove the idea of objectivity.

The affirmative may argue that a lot of what we ordinarily say and think about morality seems to presuppose correct answers. We argue, we agonize over tough moral choices, we get mad when we're treated badly, we criticize others for bad views or actions. Right answers to moral questions can exist without being universally agreed upon.

You may hear these arguments and more! Keep an open mind and enjoy the debates!