dec 16 'only if you feel guilty about it'

It's not MAD science...just disappointed.

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dec 16 'only if you feel guilty about it'

Postby Selgeron on Fri Dec 16, 2005 12:46 am

It's cool that Gav used the exact same line that I did in a similar line of questioning...

but if its so cool, why do I feel so down right despicable for bing similar to gav...

...oh yeah, I don't!

Yay for gav!
Is it magic or is it madness?
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Postby CodeGuy on Fri Dec 16, 2005 1:02 am

I don't really understand Jez's line of reasoning.
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Postby towr on Fri Dec 16, 2005 1:45 am

CodeGuy wrote:I don't really understand Jez's line of reasoning.
If good and evil exist, and are determined by a deity, than there must be a deity. So if you believe in good and evil, you can't believe there are no gods, so you can't be atheist.
Of course there are several flaws if you want to convert someone to christianity with such reasoning. Because who's to say it's the christian god.
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Postby CodeGuy on Fri Dec 16, 2005 2:42 am

towr wrote:and are determined by a deity, than there must be a deity.


Well, yes. If the murderer was a man named Joe Hinkle, then Joe Hinkle is a murderer.

Jezebel seems smart enough not to assume a tautology. Rita seems right for that kinda thing, but not so much Jez.
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Postby sun tzu on Fri Dec 16, 2005 5:17 am

Well, the idea - as developped by C.S.Lewis in "Mere Christianity" (I think. It's been some time since I read it, so bear with me) is that if there are moral absolutes (which Lewis argued existed at least to some extent), then they need some origin - something to define them. Lewis then argued for the necessity for something external to the universe to define ethics - to say "this is good. This is evil. Now let's choose the laws of physics."
Then again, I think in another book, Lewis apparently changed his mind and argued for the opposite view - that God does good things because they're good, not that things are good because God does them.
But I could have misinterpreted. Nevertheless, I find the nature of ethics to be a fascinating question...
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Postby Lareth on Fri Dec 16, 2005 7:30 am

ARISTOTLE: Morality is subjective, therefore I will leave it alone.

HUME: Morality is subjective, therefore there is no god.

KANT: <Translated from Kantese> There is no objective, emprirical way to define "good" and "evil" as discrete objects with distinct properties using purely logical processes. And yet, mankind has a "faculty" for distinguishing the two. Since this distinction cannot possibly have come from a naturalistic, mechanical universe, there must be an intelligent Creator who has given us our "faculty" for sensing moral differences.

EVERYONE ELSE: ... What?

NIETZSCHE: I "facultied" your mom.

GAV: Bwahahahahaha!

-Lareth
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Postby bloodeye on Fri Dec 16, 2005 10:02 am

Several arguments which state that yes, things can be either good or evil, without any 'god' figure to say which is which.
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Postby towr on Fri Dec 16, 2005 3:21 pm

CodeGuy wrote:Jezebel seems smart enough not to assume a tautology.
If there's anything one can assume, it's a tautology. Now assuming contradictions, that's a falacy. Tautologies can be used to transform one logical statement into another without loss of truth. And of course you have to state which you use.
To many absolute moral law implies a law giver, anything else gives moral relativity or arbitrariness. (Although as godgiven moral code can also be arbitrary, but at least it doesn't depend on the opinion of mere mortals)
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Postby CodeGuy on Fri Dec 16, 2005 8:09 pm

towr wrote:
CodeGuy wrote:Jezebel seems smart enough not to assume a tautology.
If there's anything one can assume, it's a tautology.


OK, I didn't make much sense. Let me try to rephrase more clearly.

Jez seems like she's smart enough not to use a tautology as an arguement, especially one where she's only assuming that Gav accepts the first part.
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Postby Drooling Iguana on Sun Dec 18, 2005 10:22 pm

Morality is simply a survival instinct. If we didn't have it, we couldn't form societies, and if we couldn't form societies, we'd have died out long ago.
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Postby sun tzu on Mon Dec 19, 2005 4:01 am

Drooling Iguana wrote:Morality is simply a survival instinct. If we didn't have it, we couldn't form societies, and if we couldn't form societies, we'd have died out long ago.


Perhaps. But then, some may argue that our morality extends beyond anything that's useful from the POV of natural selection. Take animal rights activists: Does it change our odds of survival or breeding wether the whales survive?
Then again, some would argue that this is a side effect of the human-oriented morality we've developped.
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Postby bloodeye on Mon Dec 19, 2005 9:11 pm

Nothing exists in a vaccume. Kill off some whales, krill population goes nuts, then dies off. This effects a vast number of marine wildlife, in turn effecting costal wildlife, which goes on to effect all life. Humans included. Perhaps this full effect, whatever it is, will be benifical to humans as a whole. Perhaps it will kill us off. Just in case, let's keep the whales around until we know for sure.
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Postby sun tzu on Tue Dec 20, 2005 12:20 am

bloodeye wrote:Nothing exists in a vaccume. Kill off some whales, krill population goes nuts, then dies off. This effects a vast number of marine wildlife, in turn effecting costal wildlife, which goes on to effect all life. Humans included. Perhaps this full effect, whatever it is, will be benifical to humans as a whole. Perhaps it will kill us off. Just in case, let's keep the whales around until we know for sure.


That may be true, but it's also irrelevant. I'll bet you that, even if the extinction of whales had no consequences, people would still want to keep the species alive.
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Postby Gav on Tue Dec 20, 2005 11:30 am

sun tzu wrote:That may be true, but it's also irrelevant. I'll bet you that, even if the extinction of whales had no consequences, people would still want to keep the species alive.


Yeah, but that's a relatively new thing (admittedly, the concept that we can kill off an entire species is a relatively new thing as well). I think it's part of a generalized self-survival instinct that comes from our new knowledge that all things on earth are interconnected. After all, our earlier ancestors weren't too upset when the saber toothed tiger died off, or when we killed off the passenger pigeon.

Even if it could be proved that a single specific species (like the whale) was unneccessary, our "feeling" that they are all important would remain. Evolved instincts are not logically specific. The are general feelings we have because the overall effect is positive.

For instance, we are naturally averse to pain. Pain is bad. But sometimes, like getting an innoculation, pain is good. But does that mean when we get a shot, we enjoy the pain? No. We evolved to dislike pain, because 99.9% of the time, it's a negative effect. Similarly, because the overall effect of saving species is good for humans, we're evolving a generalized instinct to save all species.

There's also something to be said for encouraging a healthy respect for variety, in all forms, as a survival instinct. Relying on a single food, for instance, makes it easy to kill off the entire species with one blight. I think humans evolved to appreciate variety in all things, because humans stuck in a rut tended to die off more easily.
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Postby bloodeye on Tue Dec 20, 2005 12:55 pm

I'd consider the effect of some people being upset to be a consiquence. For a large consiquence, some guy gets upset, writes an angsty poem. Some twit reads poem, desides life is shit, commits suicide. Friend is shattered by guys suicide, desides life is hell, all should die. Releases genetically altered virus, wipes out humanity. Little convoluted and unlikely, but still...
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Postby kiga on Fri Dec 23, 2005 10:51 am

There's the whole controversy about applying evolutionary explanations to societal rules. Now, there are many rules that are specific to certain societies ("Don't eat pork", "You must offer hospitallity to a stranger", "The people on the other side of the river are your enemies and should be killed", etc.) but there are many rules that seem to be universal, some of which are easily explainable as self-interest or gene self-interest ("don't defecate somewhere you might step later", "don't kill your children", etc.) others which are explainable as in the interest of a society ("don't kill strangers who you encounter", "protect your neighbors who are under attack", "establish a system of justice that takes into account who is responsible for an act", etc.) and some whose utility in the fitness profile is debatable ("care for the elderly", "don't eat your pets", etc.) and yet are very common.

The overall commonality of these "rules" in many societies is something that begs explanation. Thomas Aquinas hinted at this in his Summa Theologica as evidence of God's existence, though he thought in terms of Aristotelian notions of nature. Other uses of this to prove the existence of God are already mentioned, but I should also point out C.S. Lewis "Abolition of Man" where he does NOT attempt to prove the existence of God but makes some comments about the universalities of these concepts (interestingly in the language of Daoism) and his belief that we are (1950s) moving in a direction of degrading these with moral relativism.

Another prevailing view is that of E. O. Wilson who has attempted to apply evolutionary biology to societies. The idea is that all universal morality is due to it being in the interest of the individual, the genes, or their society. Societies that have morals that are poorly adaptive die out. This is still controversial, and it is notoriously difficult to get data that are as clean as we are used to in the physical sciences or even the life sciences, so many would claim his arguments do not constitute science. Of course, neither is claiming that these universalities point to the existence of God. But the foundations of sociological natural selection are much less understood than the genetic foundations of Darwin's theory.

One issue that may be in Wilson's favor or against it, is that evolutionary biology does NOT say that everything goes to a unique maximum in the fitness plateau. Rather, there are many peaks whose location in the fitness plateau varies according to the environment. Thus, on white trees, white moths are more fit, but on soot-covered trees, black moths are. So if Wilson is using evolutionary principles, we still would expect a wide variation of "moralities". And indeed, we do see this. But are the commonalities that we observe too prevalent? It's a matter of debate.

Going back to the use of this argument to prove the existence of God: Isn't this an argument for the natural polarity of morals, not an argument for the existence of the positive pole? For instance, couldn't this be an argument for the existence of pure evil, instead? Gnostics would have liked this, except that they thought their morality came from to "good" God.
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Postby Drooling Iguana on Sat Dec 24, 2005 3:53 pm

bloodeye wrote:Nothing exists in a vaccume. Kill off some whales, krill population goes nuts, then dies off. This effects a vast number of marine wildlife, in turn effecting costal wildlife, which goes on to effect all life. Humans included. Perhaps this full effect, whatever it is, will be benifical to humans as a whole. Perhaps it will kill us off. Just in case, let's keep the whales around until we know for sure.

Plus, whales are cool, and the world is a more interesting place with them in it, so it's best to keep them around.

Plus, we don't understand all of how the world works, but we do know that, right now, it works well enough for us to survive, so it's best not to make any big changes unless you know what you're doing. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, and all that.
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Postby Crystalis on Mon Jan 02, 2006 12:17 pm

Drooling Iguana wrote:Plus, whales are cool, and the world is a more interesting place with them in it, so it's best to keep them around.


Bah, you forgot the most important part of why it is necessary to keep the whales around. No untimely visits from alien probes to find out why their inter-stellar pen pals stopped talking back to them.
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Postby Jeffery McLean on Mon Jan 02, 2006 3:03 pm

Crystalis wrote:Bah, you forgot the most important part of why it is necessary to keep the whales around. No untimely visits from alien probes to find out why their inter-stellar pen pals stopped talking back to them.


For all we know those pen pals could be the mythical dragons.

However Dragons didn't exactly get along with western civilisation so maybe it's better they stay in a galacy far far away.

PS. Yeah I know your making a Star Trek refrence and "Voyage home" never told us exactly who the wales were talking to.
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Postby the Siliconopolitan on Mon Jan 02, 2006 3:56 pm

The best argument for not killing off all the whales is that then we'd have no more scrumptious mattak. Now, if somebody'd just come up with a way to farm whales - mmmmmhh.
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