Vulcans can’t argue


I’m still getting Vulcans telling me that the only rational thing to do is to argue everything using Logic and Reason while totally excluding emotion.

So what you get is people explaining about rape using what they take to be Logic and Reason while totally ignoring the fact that rape tends to be an emotive subject.

You can’t have a reasoned discussion about moral issues that excludes emotion not just as part of the discussers’ equipment but even as part of the subject matter.

Robotic arguments about slavery or child marriage or school for girls or rape or genital mutilation can’t get off the ground, because robots don’t give a damn either way.

Moral issues depend on emotion. If no one cares about them, there’s nothing to argue about.

 

Comments

  1. says

    I just figured this out (see my Twitter feed): Dawkins is basically, by his own description, first stirring up people’s emotions, then criticizing them for being too emotional.

    It’s just psychological manipulation.

    Trolling, basically.

  2. Al Dente says

    SallyStrange @3

    Dawkins has been trolling for years. The Dear Muslima letter was basically trolling Rebecca Watson and her supporters.

  3. drken says

    Are any of these Vulcans in Pon farr? That would certainly explain a lot. Also, have they settled on an objective, quantitative measurement of “badness” so we can discuss what kind is worse? Otherwise, it would be pretty tough to determine what kind of rape is worse to a level of P < 0.5. Just trying to be logical here.

  4. Stacy says

    Can you even have emotions without the ability to reason?

    Basic emotions, yes. All vertebrates experience basic emotions (anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, surprise) and some non-human animals may experience more complex emotions as well (Complex emotions probably require some reasoning ability.)

    But without emotions, reason won’t get you very far in decision-making (see Wikipedia, Emotions in decision-making. I can’t link right now, sorry.) And I’m sure I’ve read that people with damage to parts of their brain that govern emotion do just fine in tests of abstract logic but can’t make even the simplest decisions. So–moral decisions? What would those be based on, exactly, without emotion? IOW, what Ophelia said.

  5. doublereed says

    Vulcans annoy me. You can sometimes beat them at their own game by using sarcasm and dark humor to try to piss them off. But really people shouldn’t have to.

    Saying ridiculous things with a calm face doesn’t make you more intelligent, but it does seem to have a bizarre rhetorical effect.

  6. Loobiner says

    I think that any argument about a human condition or experience that uses logic has its origination in some emotional experience. In these types of arguments logic is useless without considering the emotional experiences that make these topics worth arguing about in the first place. I also think that those who accuse feminists and other social justice advocates of being too emotional are arguing from a place of emotion as well. They are angry that we would dare upset the status quo that empowers them. They wouldn’t bother arguing with us if they didn’t have an emotional motivation.

  7. ambassadorfromverdammt says

    Logic won’t get you to the right place if your logic chain is missing essential details; or if your premises are wrong. Dawkins on rape is about as relevant as Ptolemy on astronomy.

  8. doublereed says

    Oh btw, the way of using sarcasm is basically to backhandedly insult them as much as possible. Sarcasm basically overlays any rage with a veneer of unemotional wit. So you can be as vitriolic as possible. And if they get angry at you you just be all “Pfff so emotional!” It’s not like these people are actually unemotional. They’re just pretending to be for rhetorical effect.

    Doesn’t always work. But it’s one way of dealing with those frustrating assholes.

  9. Pen says

    @11 – that’s an interesting assessment of the uses of sarcasm. In the circles I frequent it’s used as a way of presenting to someone the reasons why they’re being stupid in a covert and humorous way, such that they can back out and save face – which can’t be done with a confrontation. Isn’t culture amazing…

  10. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    I just figured this out (see my Twitter feed): Dawkins is basically, by his own description, first stirring up people’s emotions, then criticizing them for being too emotional.

    It’s just psychological manipulation.

    Trolling, basically.

    Seriously. there’s no case to be made that he’s not 100% aware of the reaction he’s going to get when he uses these incendiary examples. He says deliberately inflammatory shit, then retreats back to his blog to to tut-tut at everyone for reacting exactly how he knew they would.

  11. rorschach says

    They all need a cognitive science 101 class.

    Or they could just google “affect heuristic”.

  12. Anthony K says

    It’s not like these people are actually unemotional. They’re just pretending to be for rhetorical effect.

    I daresay I’ve seen their type get emotional enough when describing bullying at the hands of others in school.

    But why? Robots don’t care if they’re shoved in a locker.

  13. doublereed says

    @11 – that’s an interesting assessment of the uses of sarcasm. In the circles I frequent it’s used as a way of presenting to someone the reasons why they’re being stupid in a covert and humorous way, such that they can back out and save face – which can’t be done with a confrontation. Isn’t culture amazing…

    Yea, this is kind of the reverse, where you’re actually trying to provoke them using a straight face.

    Like if I say “You’re acting like a Nazi!” people can call me emotional. But if I say “That sounds great. What next, gassing the Jews?” you can’t call me emotional even though I’m making the same point.

    In my experience, it’s even more effective coming from women, just because people don’t expect them to use sarcasm. Let alone using sarcasm to deliver a rhetorical gut punch.

  14. Anthony K says

    “You’re acting like a Nazi!”

    Is a logical thing to say to anyone who speaks, eats, sleeps, and otherwise does things that humans, including the subset of humans called Nazis, do/did. Richard Dawkins acts like a Nazi. It’s basic logic.

  15. Anthony K says

    Of course, some Nazis did things that Richard Dawkins does not do, such as murder people. Similarly, some alumni of Oxford did things that Richard Dawkins does not do, such as earn Nobel Prizes.

  16. Matt Olenik says

    I don’t get this approach at all. Why can’t emotional issues be analyzed with logic and reason? Logic does not mean emotionless Vulcan, such is an incredibly naive and ignorant view of reason, I think. If we are accepting that there is no cosmically absolute, e.g. supernatural, source of morality or truth, we must base our morality off of what we feel.

    We can say things like “it’s immoral to perform an action that brings harm to others, people should be free to do what they wish as long as it does not bring harm to others” which can then be reasoned about. We can determine if an action harms another, we can understand the costs and consequences of our actions, we can, you know, use logic and reason to determine what is right and wrong. We can even bring in science to help us understand the world and better evaluate moral dilemmas. We can say abortion isn’t wrong because we understand the physical composition of a fetus and know that it is not a human life. We can understand emotional harm through psychology, etc. We, as humans, may not be anywhere near practicing this to perfection, but we can certainly try and make best use of the tools available. But all of this is ultimately predicated on the basis of human experience and emotion. If we had no emotions, if the actions of others did not bring us harm, our morality would look very different.

    I suspect that Dawkins et al understand this (in fact, I believe Dawkins has made similar arguments himself, and Sam Harris wrote a book about it, didn’t he?), but are simply blinded by their privilege and are prevented from seeing the illegitimacy of their arguments when it comes to some aspects of social justice and human rights, because they are unable to see beyond the bubble of their own experience. Further, their confidence in their views prevents them from seeing this criticism, for any acknowledgement that they are wrong requires substantial reevaluation of not just their beliefs, but their past actions, as well. It tends to be a very uncomfortable process, it is a difficult leap to make. It is difficult to divorce one’s identity from actions and behavior, to be willing to call yourself out and hold yourself accountable. No one, especially not a supposed free thinking atheist, likes to entertain the possibility they have been partially brainwashed by cultural kyriarchy. These cultural memes function similarly to those in religion, albeit less codified and formally enforced. It’s not easy for an atheist to accept the notion that are delusioned in a similar manner to religious people. It’s not easy for anyone to accept, but atheists in particular tend to view themselves as outside that sphere of influence, for they have already rejected a major source of cultural brainwashing. They believe it makes them immune to it.

    It amazes me how people who call themselves scientists or scientific are unwilling to apply a scientific process of elimination to their own beliefs. I think they think they do this, but I don’t think they have a great track record. If you’re doing it right, you should have a history of changing and refining your beliefs, for that is an indication of progress. If you think to yourself “I will change once given the evidence,” yet your beliefs remain largely static over the course of decades, you have either achieved near moral perfection or you’re missing something. I suspect it’s more often the latter than the former.

  17. anteprepro says

    “Rationalism”: For when people dare to care about something that you don’t.

    Note how the dreaded Emotions creep in when the Rationalists want to defend something they care about though (i.e. their ability to pontificate without prompting criticism).

  18. smhll says

    Odd thought experiment: how much is a tweet like a meme and how much do the two ideas differ?

    (I’d throw out that tweets mutate and morph really fast because they tend to be decontextualized and everyone responds differently, bending the carrier signal through their own prism)

  19. dogfightwithdogma says

    I could not agree more Ophelia. I think moral philosopher David Hume articulated this idea with great clarity more than three-hundred years ago when he wrote in his Treatise on Human Nature:

    Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them.

    Reason can inform the discussion of questions that concern matters of morals and values, but it cannot provide the final answer. Hume was telling us that reason is an aid in determining which means help achieve a goal, but that it plays no role in determining the goals. Hume argued that our passions, what today we would refer to as desires, are what set the goals. Those desires have an emotional component that must not be ignored.

  20. Dave Ricks says

    Even if I would agree Logic and Reason are principles to live by (and Dawkins has a foundation for that), I would still have a choice of whether I should use them in a dialectic (a philosophical search for truth) or a debate (a political fight to win).

    Lately Greta Christina’s writing has made me see more clearly some arguments have a bottom line or a net effect women should STFU and stay off the Internet.

    I just hope someone lauding Reason (like Dawkins) is aware, Reason still leaves them a choice of objectives, like philosophical truth, or making the Internet a pain for women.

  21. suttkus says

    Over the years, I’ve seen the “vulcan” argument repeatedly, and it’s never made a lick of sense to me. Whenever I find someone arguing that logic should take precedence over (or even entirely exclude) emotions, I throw the same situation at them. I ask them to imagine themselves as a perfectly logical being, waking up in the morning and ask them to describe what they would, logically, do. It tends to go something like this.

    Them: “Well, I’d get up and get something to eat.”

    me: “Why?”

    Them: “Because without food, I’d die.”

    Me: “So? What logical reason do you have to stay alive?”

    Them: “I don’t want to starve!”

    Me: “Want is an emotion. You’re above emotions. You need reasons to do something, like continue to live.”

    Them: “I have things I need to do!”

    Me: “No, emotional beings have things they want to do.”

    And it goes on like that.

    Logic is a problem solving tool. You apply logic in order to work out how best to accomplish your goals. But logic cannot set your goals. That’s emotions. You have things you want. Biological drives, intellectual interests. Without these desires, logic has nothing to work on, and no point in itself.

  22. says

    It is most logical to be skilled at emotions and logic.

    First, logic is a system of thought. That system runs off of and is contextualized by emotions. Emotional investment powers the effort and desire. Emotional awareness of problems from lack of logic reinforce it’s use. Emotional satisfaction form begin effective with ideas also reinforce it’s use.

    Second, the emotions are more basic to human thought processes and are just not likely to be the least dispensable element in this system. This also supports the idea that logic is built from the more basic emotional systems. Emotions are more evolutionary ancient and are not going anywhere. There is a reason that religion works, the emotions of a church service are real things even if the stories are BS. Denying and excluding this part of ourselves is to leave ourselves unarmed. Be in control of what you are.

    Third, accommodation of one’s emotions. The most powerful and effective advocate will the the person who is both logical and skilled in emotion. Learn how the emotions feel (early parts of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy are a process of gaining emotional awareness and later parts are a process of learning control. There are correlates between this and things like mindfulness meditation). Learn what it feels like when they try to take control and eventually you can just let it slide off of you as you debate and discuss. The human brain in may ways has to grow it’s sensors. It’s entirely possible to be both logical and emotional and that is far more effective than either emotion alone (basically a preacher) or logic alone (empathy-less, socially awkward and ineffective, and little passion to stick in the memory of a listener).

    Dawkins and his ilk are trying to disarm you. It’s emotion that creates the concern for emotions so unless he wants to negate himself at some level they are full of it. Don’t abandon it, become aware of it and learn control. It’s the same damn system as the one we use to become aware of logical fallacies. Learn the patterns of the problems and with effort and time bad habits can be removed.

  23. John Morales says

    I note the post itself relates to the contention that “the only rational thing to do is to argue everything using Logic and Reason while totally excluding emotion”, which clearly confuses being rational with being unemotional.

    As a standalone contention, it’s very clearly relying on a false dichotomy; it is obviously possible to argue logically and reasonably whilst being emotional no less than it is possible to argue illogically and irrationally whilst being unemotional.

    Being charitable, I think the contention should be understood as employing additional premises, and I think it it some of those that the majority of the commentary hitherto has addressed.

    (That noted, the contention as stated relates to a mode of argumentation, not a state of being)

  24. chigau (違う) says

    So what is the difference between being ‘passionate’ about something and being ‘emotional’ about something?

  25. John Morales says

    chigau @30, eh?

    Passion refers to very strong emotion, so clearly there is no difference.

    (I take it you’re making a point about loaded words)

  26. John Morales says

    [correction]

    Pedantically, there is a difference in the degree of emotion indicated by each term, but in terms of being emotional there is no difference.

  27. chigau (違う) says

    John Morales
    My question stems from an archaeology conference some 30 years ago.
    The theme of the session was about being able to recognise sex/gender from an artifact assemblage.
    The discussion was highly charged and ultimately educational and useful.
    but
    a thing that happened was, during the discussion, the women were described as ‘emotional’ while the men were described as ‘passionate’ for strikingly similar rhetorical styles.

  28. Tessa says

    So what is the difference between being ‘passionate’ about something and being ‘emotional’ about something?

    One is positive, and one is negative. Other than that, there usually isn’t any difference.

  29. rorschach says

    (first up congratz to the techie for picking the ugliest and least readable theme he could find)

    I remembered this quote from some psychologist whose name can’t now recall, that describes the way our brain is hardwired, shown to be true by a myriad of experiments:

    “The emotional tail wags the rational dog”

  30. DJ says

    Harm is undesirable, hopes are desirable. This is a basic undeniable fact of what “harm” and “hopes” actually are. There is no logical reason to favor one’s own self over anyone else. Therefor, humanism. Done and done.

  31. dshetty says

    I have many thoughts and I cant make it one coherent comment :(

    In the specific case – it irritates me that Dawkins’ *logical* statements have atleast two logical flaws (his X is bad , Y is worse is not an endorsement of X) .Appealing to intuition or common sense are not logical or reasoned arguments. it may be obvious that rape is worse than theft but that is not a logical or reasoned proposition as Dawkins seems to imply. He is going to say how he compared , and what attributes were compared , and why those attributes are reasonably objective. As well as it is logical and reasonable , to not use twitter for a good number of discussions – something that Dawkins does not care about.

    In the general case,of using logic and reason for argumentation – well true enough , but it is isnt the whole truth. I think that people who argue like Vulcans are missing empathy. There are many times we refrain from certain arguments or conclusions , precisely because we know what the person would feel – Anyone who has any personal relationship knows that. I have the uncomfortable feeling that sometimes we have been guilty of this (I can see some crap I said during the accommodation wars runs afoul of what I feel now)

    You also cannot make arguments in a vacuum without thinking about consequences. For e.g. Dawkins himself said that he would not be a good witness at the Dover trial – is it that he could not make as good an argument for evolution as Ken Miller could? Most likely he could , so logic and reason (in the scientific sense) would say that Dawkins or Miller dont matter , anyone would do. in the practical sense of reason , almost all of us would say Miller is the better choice in that particular case. (Hmm X is good Y is better , might still be an endorsement of X? might it be a condemnation of X? is it a conclusion to pursue Y?)

    But it is also curious how far we could take this no discussions are taboo ? Given that people always feel that logic and reason and evidence are on their side (see for e.g. theologians or creationists). Would it be ok to discuss for e.g. that we should allow sex with children as soon as they reach puberty – is it only outrageous when a mullah makes this argument? But it is fine when the defenders of reason and logic make it? Is it ok to discuss, reasonably, logically, that perhaps if we murder all Jews the Israel/Palestine problem will be solved and perhaps the overall cost would be lower than if we allowed the wars to continue? Is it only outrageous when Hamas proposes the same thing?

  32. funknjunk says

    Wait … am I being obtuse? Aren’t these the same people who went frikkin’ ape shit crazy over “Guys, don’t do that?” Or is this a DIFFERENT group of idiots?

  33. Anthony K says

    Wait … am I being obtuse? Aren’t these the same people who went frikkin’ ape shit crazy over “Guys, don’t do that?” Or is this a DIFFERENT group of idiots?

    Yeah, but they were just reacting logically, rationally, and unemotionally to the fact that Rebecca Watson cut off their penes and forced them to live forever as incels with a sixty-second anecdote intended to help (“What if ElevatorGuy was just socially inept? Why won’t anyone explain social rules to all the socially inept guys out there?” Rules explained. Worldwise chaos ensues.)

  34. Anthony K says

    @ Anthony K — Ahhh, NOW i remember.

    Well, the story has morphed quite a bit through the retelling by the logicians. Why, last I heard, Oliver Twist went up to her and in a plaintive voice asked, “Please Ma’am, may I have some more (of your knowledge of professional atheism and skepticism)?” Well, Rebecca Watson drew herself up to her full, 100′ height, turned to her faithful giant ox, and said “Watch, Blue, I’ll show you how to ruin the lives of an entire college lacrosse team.” And she did exactly that, using the carefully sharpened bones of the Lindbergh baby.

  35. funknjunk says

    @ Anthony K — not bad. Perfect. I would add just one modifier: “And she did exactly that, using the carefully sharpened, SUNKISSED bones of the Lindbergh baby.”

  36. says

    @ chigau

    So what is the difference between being ‘passionate’ about something and being ‘emotional’ about something?

    They both refer to the same phenomena, being full of emotion. But like many other examples in our language, they refer to an ultimately neutral phenomena and instead have words that have specifically positive and/or negative connotations.

    “Passionate” has both positive and negative uses. One can be passionate about an issue, yet one can be ruled by one’s passions in the sense of letting emotion drive one to easy and invalid arguments through use of logical fallacies and other biased ways of attempting persuasion. But the passion is what drives one to interest as an element of motivation and the fact that people are receptive to passionate speeches, monologues, and favored speakers in debates is an ancient and natural part of what we are. The danger is in being receptive to passionate and content-less speech of the sort that the skeptic/atheist community sees many religious folks use (and ironically many of the people I see who have problems with FTB use similar speech).

    Being “emotional” is typically negative and refers to the condition of letting ones emotions lead one to illogical reasoning and behavior. That word is in the same category as “Hysterical”. Ultimately a person who wants to say that another is being emotional or hysterical is making a fact claim and should be able to back up what they are saying with quotes and reasoning.

    But that is about the mental state of a person using emotion. Another related element to this recent situation is the ideal of only applying logic and keeping out emotion while discussing an issue as a general thing. This is persuasive because of our experience with highly emotional religious folks who let their emotions drive them to irrational, illogical tribalistic behavior and don’t address facts as a matter of normal routine. But it also runs the risk of losing emotional sensitivity to personal perspective (we all self-reference on issues and some issues are implicitly personal like rape) and the emotional elements of use of logic with respect to rhetoric and persuasive strategy (why one is even interested in a particular argument, or how the argument is being functionally used). It is also fundamentally unrealistic because if emotion is always going to be part of how any cognitive process works we should just accept that and learn to understand and use it appropriately.

    Also the religious folks with bad emotional control is a specific cultural manifestation of emotion and behavior and does not demonstrate that emotion and logic are incompatible. In my view these religious folks represent a more general group of people with culturally reinforced behaviors specifically meant to favor group conflict independent of reference to what is really going on in the world. They tend to not want one another to think independently or deviate from group sanctioned ways of using emotion, such as being emotionally receptive to authorities more than to the internal logic of an argument.

    Additionally the deliberate use of emotion is a valid argumentative strategy because it can cause the person one is arguing with to make mistakes in keeping track of deception. I liken deception to keeping more than one reality in one’s mind and trying to project oneself as consistent with a particular reality depending on one’s goals. This takes effort and doing that while using emotion is more difficult. I’ve seen more than one full-blown racist or homophobe that was trying to appear to be more reasonable collapse in a sputtering raging heap when they could not manage everything and revealed something accidentally. But this element of use of emotion is a challenging one to use fairly.

    All that being said it is still important to keep in mind the general problem of people that can’t use emotion very well. I have a lot of sympathy for that being a person with a cognitive disorder that involves emotion. I have worked to make it so that when I use emotion in discussions and arguments I can turn it on and off when I want and if someone asks me to have a discussion without more aggressive elements because of personal difficulty I’m willing and able to do so because we don’t all get an upbringing or cognitive characteristics that make us equally able to handle emotion (if it turns out they were not being honest I can always use that rhetorically and strategically later).

    Despite my strong opinions, it’s not a simple or black and white issue and often the right thing to do depends on the specific context.

  37. johnthedrunkard says

    Reason/logic and emotion do not exist in separate bubbles.

    Dawkins fails to recognize that HIS emotional response to ‘mild’ molestation cannot function as a foundation for ANY ‘logical’ or ‘reasoned’ claims about anyone else.

    ‘Privilege?’ The outrageous aspect of ‘Dear Muslima’ was, precisely, the way it demonstrated the absurdity of the Privilege Card in argument: you didn’t get shot in the head for going to school, therefore you don’t get to complain about any ‘lesser’ offence.

  38. piero says

    It should be obvious to anyone that logic and reason kick in after we have a reason to act, i. e. a desire, or emotion. It is rather uncharitable to claim (or pretend to believe) that Dawkins and Harris are unaware of this, because I’m sure you all agree that they arfe not idiots.

    Accepting that our primary motives are not rational (and not even conscious) is not , however, the same as saying – as Hume did – that reason should be the slave of emotions. Indeed, if that were the case, we should abandon any hope of progress in ethics and general well-being. Fortunately we do, in fact, use reason all the time to shape our emotions. What else is psychotherapy, if not a (mostly) rational attempt to modify our emotions? What are penalties for, if not to curb some desires?

    Concerning the claimed impossibility to weigh emotions and establish morals on a rational foundation, it is plainly in contradiction with facts. We all weigh different emotions and assign different values to each. For example, why is rape wrong? Obviously, because it prevents someone from fulfilling her desire to preserve her physical and mental health, and to choose her sexual partners. But what about the rapist? He certainly has a desire to rape. Doesn’t he also have a right to fulfil his desire for sexual satisfaction? “Come on” – I hear you say – “there is no comparison between the two sets of desires”. Well, in fact there is: one set of desires is much more important than the other, and it is those we care for. So indeed emotions can be compared, weighed and measured. Not to three decimal places, I agree; but then we usually get by in life with approximations to the nearest integer anyway.

    I fully agree with Matt Olenik when he says:

    I don’t get this approach at all. Why can’t emotional issues be analyzed with logic and reason? Logic does not mean emotionless Vulcan, such is an incredibly naive and ignorant view of reason, I think.

    Indeed. When rationally discussing a topic we should try to keep a cold head because emotions can interfere with our reasoning and lead to the wrong conclusions. For example, the parrents of a murdered child might feel an overwhelming desire to kill the murderer; yet they know that if they were allowed to do so, society would suffer and become even less safe for all, including themselves and other children they may have. Should they let their emotion get the better of their reasoning? I cannot really say, because I can’t even begin to imagine what I would feel in that situation; but it is clearly something that has no immediate, obvious answer.

    I fully disagree with Matt when he says:

    …blinded by their privilege and are prevented from seeing the illegitimacy of their arguments when it comes to some aspects of social justice and human rights

    This implies that somehow social justice and human rights are beyond reason and logic. Not so. So far we haven’t found anything in the whole universe that defies logic, and social issues are not a particularly strong candidate. After all, the social sciences deal with the behaviour of human beings in groups; hence, unless human behaviour does not follow the law of cause and effect, they are also subject to rational scrutiny.

    I wrote earlier that we routinely assign weights to desires and deem soem of them to be more important than others. Can this process be rationally justified? It has already: Alonzo Fyfe has come up with a wonderful, fully rational foundation for ethics which I invite all of you to consider. He keeps a blog at atheistethicist.blogspot.com

  39. says

    piero – your first paragraph is silly in about four different ways. My post wasn’t about Dawkins (much less Harris); it was a generalization sparked by conversations about conversations about Dawkins’s recent writings about logic and rape.

    Arguing that Dawkins and Harris can’t have said X because we must know they’re not idiots is truly backwards. Of course we know they’re not idiots; that doesn’t mean they never make any idiotic arguments. You can’t start from X’s assumed intelligence and then conclude that X’s argument just can’t be idiotic, because X is intelligent.

    The stuff about desires and measurement? No good either. Nope. We don’t “measure” the desire to rape against the desire not to be raped, and then count the result in order to decide that rape is or is not wrong. Nope.

    Also you seem to be missing the point entirely. It’s not about doing without logic. It’s about not trying to expel emotion.

  40. says

    @Ophelia Benson

    Well, no. It’s not that easy.

    Assuming you were replying to DJ, I have to dissagree. It is basically that easy. I would perhaps dispute the anti-selfish sentiments that DJ expressed as slightly incorrect, but the result comes out very similarly so this might be pedantic. There are details, yes, but DJ’s outline is very good.

    Though your trend of merely gainsaying these things is noted.

  41. says

    Morality is that easy? Four short sentences, and we’re done? Really?! Then why isn’t the human world a morally better place?

    And what “trend”? Four short sentences that end with “done and done” don’t merit a detailed response, and besides, there are a lot of comments on this blog. If I want to point out that a sweeping claim is too sweeping, that’s not a “trend.” And saying my trends are “noted” is just pompous. Noted, and then what? You’re telling?

  42. says

    @ brianpansky

    Accepting that our primary motives are not rational (and not even conscious) is not , however, the same as saying – as Hume did – that reason should be the slave of emotions. Indeed, if that were the case, we should abandon any hope of progress in ethics and general well-being. Fortunately we do, in fact, use reason all the time to shape our emotions. What else is psychotherapy, if not a (mostly) rational attempt to modify our emotions? What are penalties for, if not to curb some desires?

    Reason is in fact the slave of the emotions because reason is software carved into existence through the emotions. Emotions are tagging systems for transforming experience into memory and, and recalling events stored and contextualized via those tags. You teach reason, not emotions. Psychotherapy is about modifying emotional contexts. Alterations of the tags and how they relate to stored memories.

    We all weigh different emotions and assign different values to each.

    And the value system in terms of reading/writing, perceived intensity, permanence, pervasiveness, valence and more is modified by inheritance, experience, and more. We can’t even measure best flavors of ice cream. The subjective differences in this system are too broad for anything like what you are attempting.

    Where would I fit into your equation? My mind receives social information signals at altered intensity and valence. I get the very unique sensation of having “good” and “bad” combined into intensity with no moral direction in some social situations. Some folks like me even get signals that mean “good” turned into “bad” and vice versa.

    I represent about 1-3% of the population. Other cognitive “disorders” are present at similar rates and all seem to blend into the rest of the population such that I mostly see myself as an archetype with other types of people around me to provide context. Suppose that the system is designed to have people present with altered moral, sensory, and other information processing to keep randomness in the population for the sake of natural selection?

    Doesn’t he also have a right to fulfil his desire for sexual satisfaction by taking what they want from another?

    Fixed.
    You are trying to measure the desire to assert personal agency against the desire to ignore personal agency. Nauseating as it is, at least get your variables correct. Sexual satisfaction can be gained without treating another human as a sex toy.

    Indeed. When rationally discussing a topic we should try to keep a cold head because emotions can interfere with our reasoning and lead to the wrong conclusions.

    Some of us, and not necessarily permanently so I’ll take this to be applied only to the who might need it now. But one nice side effect of being me is a life time of dealing with your lizard brain being turned into an emotional hurricane that never shuts up is that you get really good at being rational while having access to your strongest emotions. Pick a fucked up thought or impulse. I’ve had them all and can even call up emotional states and function fine. Don’t assume that you are like me, or even most people. “Normal” is a strange phantom indeed.

    This implies that somehow social justice and human rights are beyond reason and logic.

    The context around it suggests that reason and logic cannot function without emotion.

  43. says

    …I’m sure you all agree that they are not idiots.

    I don’t agree to that proposition, because all the available evidence seems to disprove it.

  44. says

    The fact these Vulcan-wannabees seem to ignore is that, while emotions are subjective, they’re most often the result of actions and consequences, which are most certainly NOT subjective. Emotions tell us things about real-world events, so it’s not at all “logical” or “rational” to pretend we can ignore them altogether without thereby blinding ourselves to certain relevant facts.

  45. says

    @Ophelia Benson

    Morality is that easy? Four short sentences, and we’re done? Really?! Then why isn’t the human world a morally better place?

    I could speculate as to why, but I don’t see the relevance.

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