Greetings chissler, fellow readers, and judges who have chosen to join us in what I hope will be a stimulating and informative debate. One that gives
and myself the opportunity to engage in some intellectually adversarial business left unfinished nearly a year ago.
The topic for this debate is "Throughout history, Science has proven that it has the potential to do more evil than good”
and I will be
arguing the "Pro"
Alternatively, we could always define it as the perennial "Yes with 'But' - No with an 'If'"
(or vice versa) discourse as the nature of
the topic truly falls within such descriptive categorization.
I will begin this fascinating topic by excluding, by definition, some of the concepts associated but not directly relevant to this debate, so as to
hopefully narrow what could be a potentially painfully broad topic. My opponent is of course at liberty to resist this 'narrowing' should it serve
her strategic purpose, though I suspect she is as eager as myself to speak to the topic pragmatically and specifically rather than in overly abstract
Of course americandingbat's
strategy is hers to choose … for my part, I will begin the deconstruction process by outlining and defining
some of the above mentioned elements for the sake of discarding them.
This topic, as will become evident as the debate unfolds, is ridden with metaphorical "two sides of the same coin" undercurrents. One such example
is the Primitivism vs. Scientism opposing duality …
The term scientism is used to describe the view that natural science has authority over all other interpretations of life, such as philosophical,
religious, mythical, spiritual, or humanistic explanations, and over other fields of inquiry, such as the social sciences.
Primitivism is, in short, the opinion that life was better or more moral during the early stages of mankind or among primitive peoples (or
children) and has deteriorated with the growth of civilization. It is a response to the perennial question of whether the development of complex
civilizations and technologies has benefited or harmed mankind.
Of course Rousseau and Dryden championed primitivism with their interpretation on The Noble
, romanticizing man's virtuous natural state before the advent of civilization (and by extenuation technology/science) and the
application of social contracts.
The term "noble savage" expresses the concept of the natural man, unencumbered by either civilization or divine revelation.
As I mentioned above, the purpose of defining the above is to simply discard the following notions: It is neither my position in this debate, nor do
I intend to argue from some abstract primitivistic foundation. Furthermore, it is not my intent to embrace Rousseau and his notions of the Noble
Rousseau was an idiot! There, I said it!
Conversely, and pointing to the aforementioned other side of the same coin, I will not be accusing my opponent of "scientism" for I do not for a
moment believe that she will be putting forth such silliness before us.
Right … with such inadequate "isms" out of the way, it is time to define what it is
that we are in fact discussing within the context of
Let us revisit the topic description: "Throughout history, Science has proven that it has the potential to do more evil than good.”
At the risk of totally disarming my opponents pending barrage of all the neat things science has brought upon humanity, I will help her out by
conceding the following at the outset:
HEADS (the good):
The evolution of the human species has been directly and causally aligned with it's scientific and technological understanding and discovery. Be it
the first tools, the wheel, starting fire, manipulating metals, the written word, the printed word, the digital word, medicine, mastering flight, the
internal combustion engine, information technology, communication, entertainment, better understanding of the nature of the universe and of subatomic
particles. All of these technological and scientific breakthroughs and many more have extended the human species' life expectancy, improved quality
of life, given us a glimpse into the heavens above and within, and as already stated are the defining reasons for the life most of us enjoy today.
There … I have saved my opponent and all of us the tedious and repetitive process of endlessly listing scientific breakthrough after scientific
breakthrough to convince us as to all the wonderful things science has delivered onto us. The point is conceded, let us move on …
TAILS (the evil):
Of course all the wonderful stuff that scientific and technological evolution has provided is mitigated by other well known horrific applications of
said science and technology. Be it the ever improved ways with which we can exterminate each other with ever improving armament and military
technology, not the least of which is the prospect of nuclear annihilation. Add to that genetically modified crops, intrusion of liberties and
privacy by the State, a looming technological singularity and artificial intelligence, and god help us if nanotech 'grey goo' ever comes after us
and the innocent children.
I joke of course, but the simple fact remains that americandingbat
and I could go down every single scientific and technological advancement in
the history of civilization and overall find an almost equal of "good/evil" in an endless "Yes with 'But' - No with an 'If'"
argument ending in an inevitable "push" in terms of our debate positions …
So, I hear you ask, if we discard the primitivism/scientism coin, and we also discard the quantifying good/evil coin, how on earth are we to resolve
Thankfully for my side of the debate the debate Gods have termed the debate title in a way which gives my opponent's position no chance of being
defensible, and by extension has all but assured that this debate must
be resolved in my favor …
If the debate title were: "Throughout history, Science has proven that it has done more evil than good” and my opponent were to argue the "con"
position, she by virtue of the now overly visible coin duality, would have had a fifty fifty chance of prevailing.
But that is not the debate title … the debate title is: "Throughout history, Science has proven that it has the POTENTIAL
to do more evil
And in the word potential lie the seeds of my opponent's argumentative demise.
For we can talk endlessly in circles about how good and how bad specific science and technology has been for mankind, and as I said before it will
always end with a push … BUT … from the moment in time which our civilization acquired the scientific and technological means to annihilate
itself, it reached its maximum potential
for, as the debate title describes, "evil."
That's it really, end of story, end of the debate … you don't have to go home but you can't argue here!
*what? we have to? alright but … fine …*
Humor aside, because the debate topic is potentiality and not a simple historical retrospective enumerating the good vs. the bad, and because there
isn't any technology which can equate with good and benefit to mankind the present an and existing "evil" potential of total mutual destruction,
there is only one possible outcome to this debate: "Throughout history, Science has proven that it has the potential to do more evil than
The coin is still there, two sides still define it, it's just that one of the sides is massively overweighed by the other.
I thank my opponent for her patience for the tardiness of this opening post, and I leave the floor to her eagerly anticipating her retort …
Oh, I almost forgot ...
Socratic Question 1:
Could you please point to any current science or technology that has the potential to provide a measurably greater "good" to mankind than the
converse "evil/harmful" potential of total nuclear annihilation?
Socratic Question 2:
What are the measurable benefits of science and all it's potential "good" if we're all dead?