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Old 8th November 2012, 10:08 AM   #121
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Originally Posted by Hokulele View Post
And what is ethics but a social contract? And you didn't address the issue of when a fetus should be considered a human for the purposes of morality.
Ethics is a philosophy; morality is its actualization; and the legal code is a social contract built partly from the morality of those who wield power. But yes, we need sapience to understand ethics and conform to a legal code.

A human baby should be considered sentient when it acquires agency (somewhere around 1 year, if I understand correctly). It should be allowed to participate in contract law significantly later, though I am unsure of a well-justified demarcation point.

Quote:
It shows that the recognition and acknowledgement of sapience is subjective, so how are we to tell that the "normal" acceptance of sapience is correct? This is the underlying issue when dealing with the ethics of Artificial Intelligence. Is it immoral to torture an AI device?
Objectivity is merely the composite of subjective accounts, so dissent is no problem at all. The fact that creationists don't accept evolution doesn't somehow prove that evolution isn't an objective fact (if you'll pardon the double negative).
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Old 8th November 2012, 11:05 AM   #122
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Originally Posted by Merton View Post
Ethics is a philosophy; morality is its actualization; and the legal code is a social contract built partly from the morality of those who wield power. But yes, we need sapience to understand ethics and conform to a legal code.

A human baby should be considered sentient when it acquires agency (somewhere around 1 year, if I understand correctly). It should be allowed to participate in contract law significantly later, though I am unsure of a well-justified demarcation point.

Exactly. This is why I claim ethics are subjective. In terms of deciding who they apply to, there is no objective standard.

Quote:
Objectivity is merely the composite of subjective accounts, so dissent is no problem at all. The fact that creationists don't accept evolution doesn't somehow prove that evolution isn't an objective fact (if you'll pardon the double negative).

It isn't about dissent, it is about knowing whether or not the composite is accurate. Your evolution example is actually a good one in that we can say evolution happens by pointing to the fossil record, but determining exactly what species a particular fossil belongs to is less clear. Similarly, you can say "sapience" as a whole exists and is a decent basis for morality, but to determine whether or not a particular individual is "sapient" gets down to the subjective level. This is precisely why abortion is an issue, at least in the US, and why groups like PETA exist. If there were an objective and universal way to determine whether or not a being is a moral agent, they would have nothing to argue about.

Personally, I accept the fact that ethics must be determined on a case by case basis, and nothing is universally true, as it applies to morality.
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Old 8th November 2012, 11:34 AM   #123
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Originally Posted by Hokulele View Post
Exactly. This is why I claim ethics are subjective. In terms of deciding who they apply to, there is no objective standard.
The lack of a metric for identifying sapience doesn't preclude one being devised in the future.

Quote:
It isn't about dissent, it is about knowing whether or not the composite is accurate. Your evolution example is actually a good one in that we can say evolution happens by pointing to the fossil record, but determining exactly what species a particular fossil belongs to is less clear. Similarly, you can say "sapience" as a whole exists and is a decent basis for morality, but to determine whether or not a particular individual is "sapient" gets down to the subjective level. This is precisely why abortion is an issue, at least in the US, and why groups like PETA exist. If there were an objective and universal way to determine whether or not a being is a moral agent, they would have nothing to argue about.
I don't even think that's true today. As long as we understand what is meant by the terms sentience and sapience, there's very little subjectivity involved. Certain animals are sentient, but no other species on Earth is sapient. A human fetus is neither sentient nor sapient until about the age of 1, when it achieves agency (sentience). We already have ways to test for sentience (such as the mirror test), so there is at least some objectivity there. Sapience would be harder to pin down, but I highly doubt it's an impossible task; it could probably be accomplished with a written exam.
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Old 9th November 2012, 04:24 AM   #124
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Originally Posted by Merton View Post
Well, I believe ethics comprises the natural rights granted by autonomy and additional rights that secure one's political equality (together referred to as human rights), so I'm not sure what about sociopaths would require explanation.
Hmm, admittedly, that was a slightly different direction than I had interpreted it to be. Honestly, I don't really want to get into a discussion about natural rights and the additional rights that you refer to regarding securing one's political equality, though, so I'm fine with letting this line of discussion drop before it goes too far off on a tangent.
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Old 9th November 2012, 05:28 AM   #125
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Originally Posted by Merton View Post
The lack of a metric for identifying sapience doesn't preclude one being devised in the future.

I don't even think that's true today. As long as we understand what is meant by the terms sentience and sapience, there's very little subjectivity involved. Certain animals are sentient, but no other species on Earth is sapient. A human fetus is neither sentient nor sapient until about the age of 1, when it achieves agency (sentience). We already have ways to test for sentience (such as the mirror test), so there is at least some objectivity there. Sapience would be harder to pin down, but I highly doubt it's an impossible task; it could probably be accomplished with a written exam.
But do we understand exactly what we mean by sentience and sapience?

Looking at the definitions of sentience and sapience, they are qualitative, obscure and vague. This may well be because they are not absolutes as in either there or not, but rather each occurs on a sliding scale.

If the above is the case, then we are back to subjectively picking a point on each scale.
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Old 9th November 2012, 09:23 AM   #126
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Originally Posted by Merton View Post
The lack of a metric for identifying sapience doesn't preclude one being devised in the future.

Nor does it preclude one from never being devised. Unfortunately, we can only work with the tools currently available.

Quote:
I don't even think that's true today. As long as we understand what is meant by the terms sentience and sapience, there's very little subjectivity involved. Certain animals are sentient, but no other species on Earth is sapient. A human fetus is neither sentient nor sapient until about the age of 1, when it achieves agency (sentience).

And there it is again. It has to be determined on a case by case basis, there is no single point where you can say, "This is now a human being with full moral rights and responsibilities."

Quote:
We already have ways to test for sentience (such as the mirror test), so there is at least some objectivity there. Sapience would be harder to pin down, but I highly doubt it's an impossible task; it could probably be accomplished with a written exam.

Egads, a written exam is almost the definition of subjective. Who determines what questions are asked, how the answers are evaluated, and what weighting factors are used to determine how accurate the test is are all fairly subjective. The accuracy of such a test is greatly influenced by the condition of the subject at the time of testing, and may not reflect the condition of the subject at the time when a moral decision is made. I know my responses to such an exam will read one way if I take it at 5:00 am, before any caffeine, a different way around 1:00 pm, and yet another way if I take it at 11:00 pm after a drink or two.

You also have the issue of people changing over time. Would this test be readminstered regularly? How often? If I fall victim to an accident that affects my cognition, am I suddenly no longer protected by ethics?

Lastly, how would this test be administered to a non-human?
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Old 9th November 2012, 09:38 AM   #127
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Originally Posted by Aridas View Post
Hmm, admittedly, that was a slightly different direction than I had interpreted it to be. Honestly, I don't really want to get into a discussion about natural rights and the additional rights that you refer to regarding securing one's political equality, though, so I'm fine with letting this line of discussion drop before it goes too far off on a tangent.
Fair enough.

Originally Posted by Acleron View Post
But do we understand exactly what we mean by sentience and sapience?

Looking at the definitions of sentience and sapience, they are qualitative, obscure and vague. This may well be because they are not absolutes as in either there or not, but rather each occurs on a sliding scale.

If the above is the case, then we are back to subjectively picking a point on each scale.
Well, we haven't pinned everything down yet, but we have a general idea. As Sam Harris stated in The Moral Landscape, we do not need to know everything before we can make rational decisions. Animal Rights activists are pursuing sentience and seem to have a fairly good grasp on what it means, especially regarding other species. Psychologists, too, have been working on this concept in our own species and devised the mirror test mentioned earlier.

Sapience is on much shakier grounds because we're the only sapient species. Again, though, our knowledge needn't be complete before we can act rationally. We know that children achieve sentience at approximately one year, so our ignorance only concerns a small time period between this event and the acquisition of sapience, which we now assume people have at 18 (the age at which individuals are bound by contract law in the US). I'm fairly certain that the biological capacity to rationalize occurs prior to this age, but we can err on the side of caution.
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Old 9th November 2012, 09:41 AM   #128
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Originally Posted by Hokulele View Post
Nor does it preclude one from never being devised. Unfortunately, we can only work with the tools currently available.




And there it is again. It has to be determined on a case by case basis, there is no single point where you can say, "This is now a human being with full moral rights and responsibilities."




Egads, a written exam is almost the definition of subjective. Who determines what questions are asked, how the answers are evaluated, and what weighting factors are used to determine how accurate the test is are all fairly subjective. The accuracy of such a test is greatly influenced by the condition of the subject at the time of testing, and may not reflect the condition of the subject at the time when a moral decision is made. I know my responses to such an exam will read one way if I take it at 5:00 am, before any caffeine, a different way around 1:00 pm, and yet another way if I take it at 11:00 pm after a drink or two.

You also have the issue of people changing over time. Would this test be readminstered regularly? How often? If I fall victim to an accident that affects my cognition, am I suddenly no longer protected by ethics?

Lastly, how would this test be administered to a non-human?
.
Minds me of being called up for the Cuban Missile Crisis draft... All of the eligibles from Caroline County went down to Richmond to take the exam and the physical.... 6 whites, 30 some blacks. NOT A ONE of the blacks passed the written exam. They had not been educated in the "separate but equal" scholastic system sufficiently to be qualified as cannon fodder. All of the whites passed.
I failed the physical. (and it was probably the only time in their lives that whites and blacks had been in the same bus...there being no public transportation there, for the blacks to sit in the rear of. )
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Old 9th November 2012, 09:55 AM   #129
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Originally Posted by Hokulele View Post
Nor does it preclude one from never being devised. Unfortunately, we can only work with the tools currently available.
True.

Quote:
And there it is again. It has to be determined on a case by case basis, there is no single point where you can say, "This is now a human being with full moral rights and responsibilities."
As I said to Acleron, we don't need to know the exact demarcation points before we can act on the available evidence. Honestly, to expect such a concrete delineation in a developing organism is absurd... even more so if it must be ubiquitous across the species.

Quote:
Egads, a written exam is almost the definition of subjective. Who determines what questions are asked, how the answers are evaluated, and what weighting factors are used to determine how accurate the test is are all fairly subjective. The accuracy of such a test is greatly influenced by the condition of the subject at the time of testing, and may not reflect the condition of the subject at the time when a moral decision is made. I know my responses to such an exam will read one way if I take it at 5:00 am, before any caffeine, a different way around 1:00 pm, and yet another way if I take it at 11:00 pm after a drink or two.

You also have the issue of people changing over time. Would this test be readminstered regularly? How often? If I fall victim to an accident that affects my cognition, am I suddenly no longer protected by ethics?

Lastly, how would this test be administered to a non-human?
That example was just what came to mind first; I don't actually know what form this test would take. I just don't see how it could be that difficult to develop a test to prove that someone has an understanding of consequences and obligations. I don't know that we'd need to test more than their ability to communicate and understand what actions would nullify or violate a contract.
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Old 9th November 2012, 09:58 AM   #130
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Originally Posted by Merton View Post
As I said to Acleron, we don't need to know the exact demarcation points before we can act on the available evidence. Honestly, to expect such a concrete delineation in a developing organism is absurd... even more so if it must be ubiquitous across the species.

Without an exact demarcation point, it can't be objective. You are forced to choose an arbitrary one, or more than one, to determine who or what are legitimate moral agents, and that choice is subjective. This has been my whole argument this entire time.
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Old 9th November 2012, 10:21 AM   #131
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Originally Posted by Hokulele View Post
Without an exact demarcation point, it can't be objective. You are forced to choose an arbitrary one, or more than one, to determine who or what are legitimate moral agents, and that choice is subjective. This has been my whole argument this entire time.
That doesn't sound quite right to me. If it's based on objective concepts, it should be objective, even if the identification of these requires some wiggle room at this time.

For example, this basis for morality doesn't let person A say anything and person B say the exact opposite and everyone is right. There are a couple of grey areas due to our current lack of knowledge, but one cannot claim adherence to this morality and at the same time oppress black people, women, gays, etc.
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Old 9th November 2012, 10:59 AM   #132
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Originally Posted by Merton View Post
That doesn't sound quite right to me. If it's based on objective concepts, it should be objective, even if the identification of these requires some wiggle room at this time.

For example, this basis for morality doesn't let person A say anything and person B say the exact opposite and everyone is right. There are a couple of grey areas due to our current lack of knowledge, but one cannot claim adherence to this morality and at the same time oppress black people, women, gays, etc.

That would be a composition fallacy. In this case, there are objective facts, and then a subjective implementation or interpretation of those facts. For example, let's say for argument's sake that sapience does actually appear around 1 year of age. How would you use this to set a moral code? Do you just set the age of agency at 1 year exactly, and not worry about those who actually fall on either side of that boundary? Do you set it lower and take the chance that some children will have moral responsibilities they are not prepared to handle? Do you set it high and risk having children lose their moral rights? What is the correct objective answer in this case?

To address your point about minorities, that is all well and good when talking about superficial differences, but how would that apply to more fundamental differences? For example, how about two people with different communication or social skills? It is reasonable to punish an autistic child for anti-social behavior that would be unacceptable in a child of the same age, but without that particular condition?
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Old 9th November 2012, 11:17 AM   #133
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Originally Posted by Hokulele View Post
That would be a composition fallacy. In this case, there are objective facts, and then a subjective implementation or interpretation of those facts.
Fair enough. It still seems odd to cast it as a subjective morality, as that usually implies a far greater deal of leeway between interpretations, but it's not critical.
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Old 11th November 2012, 12:18 AM   #134
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Originally Posted by IanS View Post
Originally Posted by Aridas View Post
Do you want to say that is not evidence against the existence of God? Because it's certainly very direct evidence to show that the origin of the God claim was entirely wrong when it was originally based (as it indeed was) on the belief that God had directly made man via an unexplained miracle.
I do! Partially, at least. It is definitely evidence against a quite a few god concepts, certainly including most of the ones related to the Abrahamic versions of "God," but not all, annoyingly. More generally, it is evidence that the reasons used to attempt to justify belief in some form of god were, at the very least, sometimes quite bad ones. Combined with other, somewhat similar pieces of evidence, that sometimes very quickly rises into much, much higher levels of likely frequency.


Is that supposed to be disagreeing? Doesn’t sound like much of a disagreement. But see below anyway.



Originally Posted by IanS View Post
Originally Posted by Aridas View Post

Beyond that ... all known scientific discoveries are incompatible with belief in things happening due to inexplicable miracles from and unseen creator. That's true because the scientific discoveries are explained (in vast detail), and none of the explanations include any miracles or invisible supernatural gods at all.


And I'd say that that's a slight misrepresentation of methodological naturalism. It's not that they're incompatible, like you're trying to say, but rather that methodological naturalism pointedly excludes unfalsifiable and untestable explanations of all kinds, because they are simply not useful for understanding how reality actually works. That said, I'm not aware of any decent evidence that does support any miracles or supernatural gods, visible or invisible.


That also sounds closer to an agreement rather than any substantial disagreement.


But just as a further comment - we should keep in mind that Christians today get their God belief directly from what people believed and wrote 2000 years ago. But 2000 years ago (and more) when people wrote their beliefs in the OT and NT bibles, what they were describing was not some factual knowledge of a God, nor any actual evidence that any such God existed. They were describing an unsubstantiated belief or “claim” … their god hypothesis was never more than that.

It was a claim or hypothesis which was supposed to explain the origin of man, as well as explaining most other natural everyday events such as thunder and lightening, the nature of the stars in the sky, disease, life and death, etc.

However, today we know from modern science that none of those God explanations are correct in any measure at all. In fact, they are not even “explanations”. The actual explanations do not involve any gods or any supernatural miracles at all. In fact, as far as we can tell from the totality of modern science, inc. it’s theoretical mathematical basis in QM and GR, there is no such things as a supernatural event, and all things in the universe happen for entirely explicable natural reasons.

That scientific description of our world is certainly in contradiction with ancient hypotheses saying that all these things happened because an invisible supernatural god made things happen through miracles beyond human comprehension.
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Old 11th November 2012, 05:09 AM   #135
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Originally Posted by IanS View Post
Is that supposed to be disagreeing? Doesn’t sound like much of a disagreement. But see below anyway.

That also sounds closer to an agreement rather than any substantial disagreement.
It is disagreement. I'd agree that it's not substantial disagreement, though, on either point, but more of a correction. Methodological naturalism has no problem co-existing with belief in miracles and invisible supernatural beings, to put the second a different way, but the reasoning and premises that it is based upon are inimicable to said beliefs, when applied to them. Also, it looks like you accidentally switched who made the quotes.


Originally Posted by IanS View Post
That scientific description of our world is certainly in contradiction with ancient hypotheses saying that all these things happened because an invisible supernatural god made things happen through miracles beyond human comprehension.
Or visible, for that matter, as more creator and godlike beings tended to be, if I'm not misremembering various mythologies.
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Old 11th November 2012, 08:33 AM   #136
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Originally Posted by Aridas View Post
It is disagreement. I'd agree that it's not substantial disagreement, though, on either point, but more of a correction. Methodological naturalism has no .....

"Methodological Naturalism" ??

When it comes to philosophy and word constructs like "methodological naturalism", I agree with Stephen Hawking and Paul Dirac ... to put it plainly - academic philosophy of that kind appears to be an exercise in pompous self-serving semantics which has long since been superseded by science.

By the way, if it’s a “correction”, then in what way is the evolution of homo sapiens in agreement with a supernatural God creating humans via a biblical “miracle”?
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Old 11th November 2012, 08:40 AM   #137
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/\
This.
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Old 12th November 2012, 09:34 AM   #138
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Originally Posted by I Ratant View Post
.
The day I left the Catholic Church was the day the sentence "For thine is the kingdom and power and glory forever and ever" was added to the Lord's Prayer officially, at Mass. I stood up and walked out.
Tens of thousands of people have been killed over that sentence... For not saying in Protestant countries and for saying it in Catholic countries. ALL of those deaths were **** on by the old fart in Rome adding it.
I think you have that backwards, the doxology was added by the Protestants and rejected by the Catholics. I remember being taught not to say those "added words".


When Reformers set out to translate the King James Bible, they assumed that a Greek manuscript they possessed was ancient and therefore adopted the phrase "For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever" into the Lord’s Prayer. Later scholarship demonstrated that the manuscript was actually a late addition based on Eastern liturgical tradition.

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Old 12th November 2012, 09:41 AM   #139
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Originally Posted by tsig View Post
I think you have that backwards, the doxology was added by the Protestants and rejected by the Catholics. I remember being taught not to say those "added words".


When Reformers set out to translate the King James Bible, they assumed that a Greek manuscript they possessed was ancient and therefore adopted the phrase "For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever" into the Lord’s Prayer. Later scholarship demonstrated that the manuscript was actually a late addition based on Eastern liturgical tradition.

.
ISTR sometime about 1968 being told at Mass to add those words. At which point I got up and walked out.
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Old 12th November 2012, 01:10 PM   #140
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Originally Posted by I Ratant View Post
.
ISTR sometime about 1968 being told at Mass to add those words. At which point I got up and walked out.
Here's the version two catholic websites give:

Our Father

Our Father,
Who art in heaven,
hallowed be Thy name;
Thy kingdom come;
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen.



http://www.catholicity.com/prayer/prayers.html

http://catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=216


So if it was added in 1968 it must have been removed sometime later.
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Old 12th November 2012, 03:21 PM   #141
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Looking it up in a Catholic dictionary, there's no firm statement about much of anything there.
I just remember hearing it, and thinking on the centuries of murders that phrase is responsible for, finally gave up on accepting any guidance from any supernatural thing that came through people.
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Old 12th November 2012, 04:04 PM   #142
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There is no "higher authority", so the question is irrelevant.
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Old 12th November 2012, 04:54 PM   #143
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Originally Posted by Gawdzilla View Post
There is no "higher authority", so the question is irrelevant.
For you perhaps. There are countless people who need something "better" or "higher" than themselves to be the arbitrator of what is right and wrong. For example: People who first ask if something is legal or illegal, and then decide if it's right or wrong, as if their own opinions were worth less than someone else's.
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Old 12th November 2012, 04:58 PM   #144
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"Survival of the species" in your original example is not a "higher power' or anything of the sort, it is testable, verfiable, and falsifiable.

Ergo, your OP is self-refuting.

Entering into a social contract that ensures safety of those not physically dominant is in the best interest of everyone, including those who are physical dominant.

It's that simple. No higher power required in any way, shape, or form.
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Old 12th November 2012, 06:14 PM   #145
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Originally Posted by Arcade22 View Post
For you perhaps. There are countless people who need something "better" or "higher" than themselves to be the arbitrator of what is right and wrong. For example: People who first ask if something is legal or illegal, and then decide if it's right or wrong, as if their own opinions were worth less than someone else's.
Needing something doesn't make it real. And giving a crutch to a healthy person just makes them dependent.
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Old 12th November 2012, 06:20 PM   #146
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Does that mean God cannot determine between right and wrong because there is no higher authority, I guess that would explain some of the despicable stuff he does in the bible.
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Old 12th November 2012, 06:39 PM   #147
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It's only man that does despicable things in the bible, and every other place and opportunity.
The instances of man's inhumanity to man in the bible are meant as reasons to fear sky daddy... working through the disturbed minds of the fanatic who takes one himself life and death as if appointed from above, but really just a mental case, but typically one with the authority to provoke mass murders of the objects of his hatred.
And all of the despicable stuff in the OT is fantasy anyway.
The real bad stuff happens -after- Christianity gets going and becomes an official religion, with all manner of authority to murder all and sundry who have contrarian thoughts

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Old 12th November 2012, 08:27 PM   #148
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Originally Posted by mutile View Post
Does that mean God cannot determine between right and wrong because there is no higher authority, I guess that would explain some of the despicable stuff he does in the bible.
Im glad Im not the only one who sees this problem
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Old 13th November 2012, 05:22 AM   #149
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Originally Posted by IanS View Post
"Methodological Naturalism" ??

When it comes to philosophy and word constructs like "methodological naturalism", I agree with Stephen Hawking and Paul Dirac ... to put it plainly - academic philosophy of that kind appears to be an exercise in pompous self-serving semantics which has long since been superseded by science.
Heh. Amusing. That makes it no less true. Science IS methodological naturalism, after all.

Originally Posted by IanS View Post
By the way, if it’s a “correction”, then in what way is the evolution of homo sapiens in agreement with a supernatural God creating humans via a biblical “miracle”?
And this is a straw man, especially given that I already agreed, if implicitly, that the god concepts that this would be relevant to are affected by your argument. Also as I said, it's annoying, but not all god concepts actually held actually rely on anything remotely close to a literal interpretation of the Bible, without even starting on non-christian god concepts.
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Old 14th November 2012, 12:38 AM   #150
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Originally Posted by Aridas View Post
Heh. Amusing. That makes it no less true. Science IS methodological naturalism, after all.

OK, well as you yourself said - I don’t think we are really disagreeing much if it all.

But just by way of some idle chat about this …

…. philosophers can dream up any semantic word description they like. But scientists themselves never waste time on verbiage like that. It doesn't matter what philosophers want to call things. Their are ideas are completely redundant for a start.

What science and scientists try to do, though philosophers always try to argue with this, is to determining what they think is the actual truth of things in this universe. And that scientific approach applies to everything, not just obvious material discoveries such as (say) evolution. It applies also to slightly more abstract seeming things, such as more abstract problems in maths, and even to the sort of concepts which people often want to claim as beyond scientific understanding, such as "morals" or "love" etc.

That doesn't mean that current day scientific theories such as General Relativity or Quantum Mechanics will always be regarded as 100% perfectly correct in every conceivable aspect. But on the other hand, despite frequent claims that science has often been "wrong", I can't think off-hand of any examples where scientific theories were completely wrong in the sense of bearing absolutely no relation to what we now think are the correct explanations … even ideas such as an "aether" or "phlogiston" were not infinitely far from the explanations we have now.



Originally Posted by Aridas View Post

And this is a straw man, especially given that I already agreed, if implicitly, that the god concepts that this would be relevant to are affected by your argument. Also as I said, it's annoying, but not all god concepts actually held actually rely on anything remotely close to a literal interpretation of the Bible, without even starting on non-christian god concepts.


I'm never sure what a "straw-man" is, or why we bother with phrases like that. It's not a phrase I've ever used in nearly 10 years on forums like this.

If you want to say that throughout history, even since long before Christianity, there have been various different concepts of what a people called their "gods". Then of course that's true. But in this thread I think we are talking about the Christian God of the bible aren't we? That's the certainly the God claim that I'm concerned with in all discussions on forums like this.

But even if we widen that out to include all claims of different "god" beliefs, can you think of any gods which are not supposed to have supernatural abilities?

If the god is supposed to do things by supernatural powers, then I think we will find that all those claims are contradicted by what now "know" from modern science.

By the time we get to “god” concepts which might be such ideas as “god” defined as a word meaning nature itself, then I think the word “god” has become redundant there, hasn’t it?

More generally - I don’t think the "philosophy speak" is ever a help in these discussions. It just obscures things and gets in the way. If we actually want to understand things ("real" things), then I think we need to stick to objective and verifiable science.
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Old 14th November 2012, 08:05 AM   #151
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Originally Posted by IanS View Post
OK, well as you yourself said - I don’t think we are really disagreeing much if it all.
Indeed. I would say much, though, since we obviously are disagreeing a bit.

Originally Posted by IanS View Post
philosophers can dream up any semantic word description they like. But scientists themselves never waste time on verbiage like that. It doesn't matter what philosophers want to call things. Their are ideas are completely redundant for a start.
You realize that, if something is simply describing what's going on, it's extremely difficult to validly justify calling it a redundant idea?


Originally Posted by IanS View Post
What science and scientists try to do, though philosophers always try to argue with this, is to determining what they think is the actual truth of things in this universe.
Sure, why not? Once one gets down to the concepts actually being used, of course, it's more accurate to say that what science and scientists actually do is try to figure out the most useful and most logically valid way to understand reality. There's a difference between that and the actual truth of things in this universe, conceptually, but for useful purposes, there's little or no effective difference that we could actually perceive.

Originally Posted by IanS View Post
And that scientific approach applies to everything, not just obvious material discoveries such as (say) evolution. It applies also to slightly more abstract seeming things, such as more abstract problems in maths, and even to the sort of concepts which people often want to claim as beyond scientific understanding, such as "morals" or "love" etc.
As demonstrated in this thread, I don't tend to try to do that. What I would point at as beyond the reach of science would be untestable and unfalsifiable concepts of all kinds, given the nature of science. Given more general logical evaluations of such based on usefulness, though, the untestable and unfalsifiable concepts that are beyond the reach of science can, as a group, be ignored as useless. That's quite different, conceptually, than stating that the concepts in question are false, disproved, or not the case, but the effect is little different.

Originally Posted by IanS View Post
I'm never sure what a "straw-man" is, or why we bother with phrases like that. It's not a phrase I've ever used in nearly 10 years on forums like this.
It's often used as something of a catch-all identification for arguments that cannot reasonably work in the manner intended, given the actual position of the person that they're being used on. Or, more directly, it's when the arguer is attempting to attack an argument that is not actually being made by the person in question.

Originally Posted by IanS View Post
If you want to say that throughout history, even since long before Christianity, there have been various different concepts of what a people called their "gods".
Throughout history... sure, if one includes all the way up to the present. There are a lot of kinds of "gods" that people believe in even today, and frankly, I object to any arguments on the matter that overemphasizes Christianity's part or importance in matters like that. Christianity is actually very much a minority religion, no matter how prevalent and culturally dominant it might be in the areas that the posters here tend to live in.

Originally Posted by IanS View Post
But in this thread I think we are talking about the Christian God of the bible aren't we?
Not really, honestly, given what has actually been said. It likely played an important role in why the topic was raised, but the topic, as stated by the OP, isn't dependent on it being the case at all. Thus, addressing it is, at best, taking a shot at a target of unknown size in a condition of no visibility, and doesn't really address the issues actually stated particularly well.

Originally Posted by IanS View Post
By the time we get to “god” concepts which might be such ideas as “god” defined as a word meaning nature itself, then I think the word “god” has become redundant there, hasn’t it?
I've called out ...a few people who were attempting to prove that "god" existed by defining it as something that was really, really not a remotely similar definition. Rest assured that I was not even remotely attempting to do the same, even if I very much do refuse to allow Christianity to have one subset of its god concepts considered as the only valid ones to consider.

Originally Posted by IanS View Post
More generally - I don’t think the "philosophy speak" is ever a help in these discussions. It just obscures things and gets in the way. If we actually want to understand things ("real" things), then I think we need to stick to objective and verifiable science.
Personally, I much prefer to understand the whole picture, including the relevant parts of philosophy, or as much of it as I can, as neutrally as possible. It lends a fair bit of clarity to the discussion, in my opinion, much as I'm well aware that people, in general, have a tendency to not compensate for confirmation bias very well, and thus have very often misused or let themselves misunderstand many things.
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Old 14th November 2012, 09:20 AM   #152
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Originally Posted by IanS View Post
OK, well as you yourself said - I don’t think we are really disagreeing much if it all.

But just by way of some idle chat about this …

…. philosophers can dream up any semantic word description they like. But scientists themselves never waste time on verbiage like that. It doesn't matter what philosophers want to call things. Their are ideas are completely redundant for a start.

What science and scientists try to do, though philosophers always try to argue with this, is to determining what they think is the actual truth of things in this universe. And that scientific approach applies to everything, not just obvious material discoveries such as (say) evolution. It applies also to slightly more abstract seeming things, such as more abstract problems in maths, and even to the sort of concepts which people often want to claim as beyond scientific understanding, such as "morals" or "love" etc.

[...]

More generally - I don’t think the "philosophy speak" is ever a help in these discussions. It just obscures things and gets in the way. If we actually want to understand things ("real" things), then I think we need to stick to objective and verifiable science.
I really wish I understood the distaste JREF members seem to have for Philosophy. Philosophy is not just semantics, nor are the ideas of philosophers "completely redundant" (by what standard?!). You say scientists are "determining what they think is the actual truth of things in this universe," but do you honestly think the job of philosophers is to obfuscate reality? Do you think all philosophers are solipsists? Science and Philosophy are merely two different approaches to discovering truth. And really, how would you know what truth is without Epistemology (the branch of Philosophy concerned with knowledge)?

You want to know why "the scientific approach" applies to everything? Because it's not science; it's philosophy (philosophy of science), which has a much broader purview.
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Old 14th November 2012, 09:41 AM   #153
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Originally Posted by Merton View Post
I really wish I understood the distaste JREF members seem to have for Philosophy. Philosophy is not just semantics, nor are the ideas of philosophers "completely redundant" (by what standard?!). You say scientists are "determining what they think is the actual truth of things in this universe," but do you honestly think the job of philosophers is to obfuscate reality? Do you think all philosophers are solipsists? Science and Philosophy are merely two different approaches to discovering truth. And really, how would you know what truth is without Epistemology (the branch of Philosophy concerned with knowledge)?

You want to know why "the scientific approach" applies to everything? Because it's not science; it's philosophy (philosophy of science), which has a much broader purview.
Perhaps because the question - 'What has philosophy ever told us about the real world? is met with silence.
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Old 14th November 2012, 09:54 AM   #154
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Originally Posted by Acleron View Post
Perhaps because the question - 'What has philosophy ever told us about the real world? is met with silence.
It is?! I think rationalism and empiricism have done an amazing job of telling us about the real world.
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Old 14th November 2012, 10:05 AM   #155
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The argument that unless God hands down a moral code "right" "wrong" don't exist as one problem to start with.

This argument is simply a variation of might makes right and I say so. Basically all it means is that God says what is "right" and being allegedly all powerful etc, his might and power define what is right. so in this type of argument right is merely the will of the powerful.

Thus there can be no argument about whether a particular rule is in fact right or good. All arguments are short circuited by might makes right.

Of course if you deny the idea of might makes right, because that is simply an assumption that is put forward without proof than even if God / whatever sets forwards what is "right" and "wrong", we can still argue about what is "right" and "wrong".

Why assume what God dictates as "good" behavior is in fact "good"; why assume that God is "good"? There is no earthly reason to assume that God is in fact "good" except to hope so.

There is no reason to not argue about moral principles even if they are set forth by God.
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Old 14th November 2012, 10:07 AM   #156
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Originally Posted by Arangarx View Post
From the perspective of there not being a God, this would have to be true. I don't personally believe in subjective/evolving morality myself, but It's not really a topic one can argue without first proving their is an objective source of morality. Even though I personally believe such a source exists, it's not something one can scientifically prove, i.e. can't prove the existence of God.
Why assume or think God is an objective source of morality?
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Old 14th November 2012, 10:22 AM   #157
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Originally Posted by Aridas View Post
Indeed. I would say much, though, since we obviously are disagreeing a bit.


You realize that, if something is simply describing what's going on, it's extremely difficult to validly justify calling it a redundant idea?


Sure, why not? Once one gets down to the concepts actually being used, of course, it's more accurate to say that what science and scientists actually do is try to figure out the most useful and most logically valid way to understand reality. There's a difference between that and the actual truth of things in this universe, conceptually, but for useful purposes, there's little or no effective difference that we could actually perceive.


As demonstrated in this thread, I don't tend to try to do that. What I would point at as beyond the reach of science would be untestable and unfalsifiable concepts of all kinds, given the nature of science. Given more general logical evaluations of such based on usefulness, though, the untestable and unfalsifiable concepts that are beyond the reach of science can, as a group, be ignored as useless. That's quite different, conceptually, than stating that the concepts in question are false, disproved, or not the case, but the effect is little different.


It's often used as something of a catch-all identification for arguments that cannot reasonably work in the manner intended, given the actual position of the person that they're being used on. Or, more directly, it's when the arguer is attempting to attack an argument that is not actually being made by the person in question.


Throughout history... sure, if one includes all the way up to the present. There are a lot of kinds of "gods" that people believe in even today, and frankly, I object to any arguments on the matter that overemphasizes Christianity's part or importance in matters like that. Christianity is actually very much a minority religion, no matter how prevalent and culturally dominant it might be in the areas that the posters here tend to live in.



Not really, honestly, given what has actually been said. It likely played an important role in why the topic was raised, but the topic, as stated by the OP, isn't dependent on it being the case at all. Thus, addressing it is, at best, taking a shot at a target of unknown size in a condition of no visibility, and doesn't really address the issues actually stated particularly well.


I've called out ...a few people who were attempting to prove that "god" existed by defining it as something that was really, really not a remotely similar definition. Rest assured that I was not even remotely attempting to do the same, even if I very much do refuse to allow Christianity to have one subset of its god concepts considered as the only valid ones to consider.


Personally, I much prefer to understand the whole picture, including the relevant parts of philosophy, or as much of it as I can, as neutrally as possible. It lends a fair bit of clarity to the discussion, in my opinion, much as I'm well aware that people, in general, have a tendency to not compensate for confirmation bias very well, and thus have very often misused or let themselves misunderstand many things.


What a very good post. How can I reasonably disagree with any of the above? I can't. Not even the parts where we seem to be taking a slightly different view.

I would say something about the idea of “truth” and the apparently different view taken by philosophers vs. some scientists (in my experience, mostly theoretical physicists, who I agree with). But I think that’s off topic here, and it can be a pretty tricky subject anyway.

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Old 14th November 2012, 11:44 AM   #158
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Originally Posted by Merton View Post
It is?! I think rationalism and empiricism have done an amazing job of telling us about the real world.
So philosophy is claiming the mantle of science again.
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Old 14th November 2012, 12:37 PM   #159
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Originally Posted by Pacal View Post
Why assume or think God is an objective source of morality?
Indeed. What about cultures that believe in more than one god? Especially if those gods are at odds with each other? Which one's morality trumps?

In Christianity, how do Christians know that Satan's morality isn't the correct one?
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Old 14th November 2012, 01:00 PM   #160
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Originally Posted by Acleron View Post
So philosophy is claiming the mantle of science again.
Science can't operate without philosophy.
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