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Sye Ten Bruggencate and Eric Hovind: Pariahs

They’re doing it again: Ten Bruggencate and Hovind are selling content from atheist interviews, cutting out the parts where they agree to not use it for profit.

The only appropriate response at this point, I think, is to recognize them as frauds and liars, and never participate in anything with them. They call you? Hang up. They stick a microphone in your face at an event? Turn your back on them. Reject them wholesale, and treat them as the dishonest parasites they are.

Comments

  1. vaiyt says

    The braver ones can register the whole thing plus agreement and sue them.

    But that might be more attention than they deserve.

  2. jjgdenisrobert says

    No, the right way to handle these people is to SUE THE DAYLIGHTS OUT OF THEM. Take them for all they are worth.

    Or better yet: call the cops and make a criminal complaint for IP theft.

  3. says

    Once again we see that the most zealous exponents of the Ten Commandments regard themselves as having an exemption. The stuff about not “bearing false witness”? Doesn’t apply to them!

  4. gragra says

    Thanks to Pharyngula I found out about Fundamentally Flawed and their run-ins with these clowns. It’s a moderately amusing podcast and I like its trans-atlantic aspect… but wow, after I listened to most of the Bruggencate/Hovind stuff I wanted to stick a fork in my eye. Those people are real assholes.

  5. raven says

    How can these liars and thieves show their faces in public and claim to be part of some morally sound religious what-have-you.

    Oh, that is an easy one.

    MONEY!!!

    Although Kent Hovind took it a bit too far and is now doing 8 1/2 years in prison for tax evasion.

  6. says

    I think, is to recognize them as frauds and liars, and never participate in anything with them.

    Seems…obvious.

    Really, you could never have any productive dialog with them unless they extricated themselves from their solipsistic circularities. Until then, well, it’s just too stupid.

    Glen Davidson

  7. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    And, really, I don’t want to hear it about how that will just feed their feelings of being persecuted. They’ll find food for those feelings no matter what we do.

  8. Loqi says

    I’d look into a lawsuit. I’d try to find a lawyer who would accept the case pro bono and let him/her keep any winnings.

  9. Loqi says

    @Glen Davidson
    I’ve often wondered why people try to talk to them. Every time I hear Hovind open his mouth, I feel like a thermonuclear idiot bomb has been dropped on the whole of humanity. There’s nothing in the world that could get me to want to get anywhere near ground zero.

  10. silomowbray says

    How odious.

    But suing them is easier said than done. Civil suits, particularly ones involving intellectual property, are ruinously expensive. While an enterprising attorney might take on the case for a sizable chunk of the winnings, s/he will want retainers for the preparation phase, and that alone could run into the tens of thousands.

    You really need a warchest for this kind of thing, and I expect Bruggencate and Hovind know this.

  11. Rip Steakface says

    How odious.

    But suing them is easier said than done. Civil suits, particularly ones involving intellectual property, are ruinously expensive. While an enterprising attorney might take on the case for a sizable chunk of the winnings, s/he will want retainers for the preparation phase, and that alone could run into the tens of thousands.

    You really need a warchest for this kind of thing, and I expect Bruggencate and Hovind know this.

    Sounds like their best hope to get any recompense for deliberate copyright violation of the worst kind (not even just copying information for personal use, but selling others’ intellectual property without permission for personal profit!) is finding some very sympathetic atheist lawyer or something to do this at a reduced rate out of the goodness of hir heart… which isn’t much to hope for.

  12. says

    When will people learn? Silly atheists for not knowing that the liars for Jesus will do anything to get their view across, even, dear god the surprise, if it takes lying.

    These are people who convinced themselves that a banana was made for a person, that donkeys can speak and unicorns once existed.

    They are not right in the head. Why are people surprised when they act like they are not right in the head?

    Don’t do interviews with the despicable little turds that you aren’t recording yourself.

    Seriously. Get with the program.

  13. knut7777 says

    Sorry about that, posted prematurely

    …. But suing them is easier said than done….

    I learned a lot about humanity participating in a lawsuit on behalf of about 110 renters in a large complex. Four of us did all the legwork, communications, strategy, negotiations. Everyone else just needed to come to a meeting and sign some papers to participate. The result? After about 3 1/2 years we negotiated a settlement that brought perhaps $3000-$7000 per participant. Know what else? Not one person ever thanked us. Never again.

  14. haslar53 says

    Don’t go to law.

    Remember, Eric is just a cloned (if marginally less autistic) version of Kent, so just like Kent, he will never stand up in court to give evidence. Admittedly, he might, if pushed, plead subornation of false muster.

    Just buy the video, put back the missing sections of the original interview together with some added comment and stick it up on YouTube foc.

  15. silomowbray says

    @knut777 #17: I feel your pain. Championing a relatively minor civil suit is generally thankless. Unless the damages you earn for the plaintiffs are enormous, you’d be lucky to get a grim nod of recognition as a sign of gratitude.

    I govern how I engage in litigation by something my corporate law professor said once. He is highly educated, has over 25 years of experience as a civil litigator and is regularly brought in as an expert on very complex cases involving thousands of stakeholders:

    “Lawsuits suck ass.”

    I’ve sued someone in Small Claims once in my life. I am pretty uninterested in ever suing anyone at a higher level unless the harm against me is truly egregious.

  16. Emptyell says

    @onefuriousllama

    “When will people learn? Silly atheists for not knowing that the liars for Jesus will do anything to get their view across, even, dear god the surprise, if it takes lying.”

    There are no limits to what they will do in service to the reflection of themselves they see in the universe and call God.

    Would a cease and desist notice be of any use?

  17. silomowbray says

    I should also add that I’m Canadian, and damages typically awarded for civil suits are much lower here than in the U.S., which speaks a little to why the U.S. seems so much more litigious.

  18. otrame says

    Eric is just a cloned (if marginally less autistic) version of Kent

    Please do not use disabilities as insults.

  19. raven says

    Eric is just a cloned (if marginally less autistic) version of Kent.

    I don’t see any evidence for ASD’s here.

    I do see a huge amount of evidence that they are sociopaths.

    Kent Hovind managed to turn a routine civil case, tax evasion, into 59 felonies by going the tax protester route. IIRC, at one point he renounced his US citizenship or something silly and said he didn’t have to pay taxes, which were illegal anyway.

  20. raven says

    I don’t think it is unusual for fundie xian leaders to be sociopaths. There are a lot of them that fit in that category.

    The Crouches are alleged by an insider, their granddaughter to have diverted tens of millions of dollars to their own use, paying for mansions, jet planes, and so forth.

    Ronald Weinland, who predicted the Apocalypse to happen on May 27, 2012!!! (Are you dead or raptured yet? If so, post how it is in the Afterlife), is in trouble with the IRS for diverting money to a Swiss bank acount.

    HW Armstrong lived very well while asking for 20% of the morons income, opposed modern medicine, and prohibited divorce. He himself lived a long life due to modern medicine, and ended up divorced.

    It goes on and on.

    It’s not surprising. Xianity is a fairy tale with no proof. Creationism is a lie, and all creationists are liars. And there is easy and big money in scamming the faithful xians, a lot of whom are uneducated and just plain dumb.

  21. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    Remember, Eric is just a cloned (if marginally less autistic) version of Kent,

    Fuck you.

  22. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    (Huh, there’s been the weirdest uptick in FreethoughtBlogs comment threads being infested by shitsacks who use “autistic” as a term of abuse lately.)

  23. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    I’m not even going to dignify that with a comment.

  24. omnicrom says

    The people who are selling do it because by carefully excising what people are actually saying they can seem like they’re heroic crusaders who are striking a blow for god. In reality of course they’re craven worshipers of Mammon who are deliberately lying, cheating, and stealing to earn a buck

    The people who buy it are sad unfortunates taken into a broken and poor belief system. They don’t know or choose to try to avoid learning their heroes are scum. The people who would pay for the excised, false interviews probably would accept that “lying for jesus” is acceptable because of the sad limitations the religious worldview they’re caught in.

    People like Eric Hovind are scum and deserve our scorn. People who like Eric Hovind are sad and deserve our pity.

  25. imnotandrei says

    Googlebomb Crown Media with a free version of the same thing? Heck, saying “We offer it for free, see it here!” should be perfectly legal. Add in your own commentary about the story at the end, and people get that extra bonus, causing them further PR headaches.

    After all, wouldn’t it be great if a freethinker version of the chat showed up every time Crown Rights Media was googled? ;)

  26. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    Paranoid delusions somewhat reliably produce behavior that harms others and is actually somewhat consistent with the specific bizarre, grandiose claims of persecution that were being addressed in that comment of a week ago. None of that applies here.

  27. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    In any case, even assuming that you are actually motivated by “teaching” rather than simply scoring points, I do not accept your presumption of mentorship.

  28. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    Azkyroth,

    Paranoid delusions somewhat reliably produce behavior that harms others

    “Somewhat reliably”. You should probably quantify that, since such sweeping claims are generally regarded by psychiatrists to be both inaccurate and destructively stigmatizing.

    and is actually somewhat consistent with the specific bizarre, grandiose claims of persecution that were being addressed in that comment of a week ago.

    Wrong. And you are incompetent to diagnose.

    None of that applies here.

    So what you appear to be implying is that if any of it did apply here, it would be okay to use autism as an insult.

    Huh. Let’s see how well that works.

    People with an ASD sometimes say hurtful things when they focus more on categorizing others than how those categories harm innocent people.

    That’s what you’re doing right now. So by your reasoning, it should be okay to insult you for ASD.

    I don’t think that follows, though, for several reasons. Not least because the behavior in question is not exhibited only by people with an ASD, nor by all people with an ASD — so focusing the blame on autism hurts both too many and too few.

    Likewise you’d be blaming too many and too few, even if you were not totally incompetent to distinguish paranoid delusions from sub-clinical paranoia from being an asshole (give special consideration to the last here, since it appears the Slimepit still exists).

    In any case, even assuming that you are actually motivated by “teaching” rather than simply scoring points,

    It’s both. It would be a real reduction in stress for me if you would change your behavior on this topic. I’d much rather argue with you about video game violence.

    I do not accept your presumption of mentorship.

    That’s okay. I am morally obliged to try to get through to you. And please do note that I’m not the only one who’s bothered by your ableist rhetoric.

  29. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    If that were the case, suggesting that ASD symptoms might be contributing wouldn’t be inappropriate, no. However, I continue to see important differences between my usage and the Hovind reference.

    I find it rather bemusing that you expect me to care about your stress level given that I’ve told you that I find your behavior toward me triggering and you simply ignored it.

    That said, I will take the other opinions you’ve mentioned into consideration.

  30. says

    Still waiting for Eric Hovind to show me where the flaw in my logic was to a fundamental objection to his line of apologetics. Ignoring a fatal flaw in one’s case isn’t saying much for the case…

  31. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    I’m not sure Googlebombing would work. Do right-wing kooks usually just Google things?

  32. robro says

    Using Autism as an insult is shameful. You better watch it…some of those Aspys are very smart and can talk you into a corner lickety-split.

    And for anyone who considers ASD as necessarily a “disability,” you might want to catch up on your reading. There’s growing evidence that some of the behaviors associated with ASD are actually assets for certain activities. As I’ve seen in the two people with ASD in my life, those ASD folks can have remarkable abilities to concentrate, and can absorb, synthesize, and retain enormous amounts of information. There’s reason to think that Steve Jobs and a host of other “geniuses” were “on the spectrum.” Even extreme cases can have rich and rewarding lives. Temple Grandin, who as a child was nearly institutionalized as uneducable, is a PhD in animal science at Colorado State, and has a successful career designing animal enclosures as well as advocating for those with ASD.

  33. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    If that were the case, suggesting that ASD symptoms might be contributing wouldn’t be inappropriate, no.

    Yes it would, since it’s a diagnosis the individual is incompetent to make, and because the behavior in question is just as easily explained without resorting to a layperson’s diagnosis of ASD.

    Pluralitas non est ponenda sine neccesitate.

    However, I continue to see important differences between my usage and the Hovind reference.

    You probably think there’s some important difference because you understand autism very well, and so something is obvious to you about this here insult-about-autism.

    And since you don’t understand paranoid delusions nearly so well — I presume, since you’ve never talked about having any psychotic symptoms — no parallel is evident to you.

    But if you’d start with the awareness that you don’t know the first thing about distinguishing clinical from non-clinical paranoia, for instance, you might at least wonder if maybe your internet diagnosis was approximately as inappropriate as using autism as a rhetorical weapon against Hovind.

    I find it rather bemusing that you expect me to care about your stress level given that I’ve told you that I find your behavior toward me triggering and you simply ignored it.

    I don’t expect you to care. That was merely an illustration of why I am motivated to teach you on this topic, rather than merely scoring points which I could easily do regarding videogame violence.

    You expressed skepticism about a fact, about my desire to actually teach; I tried to give evidence for this fact by pointing to why I am motivated.

    If you thought I was asking for your empathy to be directed toward me, you missed the point.

    That said, I will take the other opinions you’ve mentioned into consideration.

    Thank you. That’s decent of you.

  34. Ichthyic says

    In any case, even assuming that you are actually motivated by “teaching” rather than simply scoring points,

    It’s both.

    let me second azky’s original response then:

    fuck you.

    I do not accept your presumption of mentorship.

    That’s okay. I am morally obliged to try to get through to you. And please do note that I’m not the only one who’s bothered by your ableist rhetoric.

    nice. argumentum ad populum. as if you feel your own position wasn’t strong… go figure.

    let me third azky’s original sentiment, and ADD that not only is this off topic, it really is ridiculously patronizing, AND meta, and if you want to continue, really belongs in TET and not here.

  35. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    Can I just ask where this video-game violence discussion is? I’d be interested to read it.

    Mercifully, I don’t even remember it.

  36. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    Ichthyic, fuck you. The fact that I personally dislike him for unrelated matters does not mean that I am not allowed to try to talk to him about the way that he habitually stigmatizes certain diagnoses.

    nice. argumentum ad populum. as if you feel your own position wasn’t strong… go figure.

    No, I point out others because I know that he doesn’t like me and isn’t inclined to listen to me. As he indicates, it’s not very important to him if he upsets me. And that’s understandable, I’m not complaining about the interpersonal stuff, but I think he should know that I’m not the only one who doesn’t like it.

    let me third azky’s original sentiment, and ADD that not only is this off topic, it really is ridiculously patronizing, AND meta, and if you want to continue, really belongs in TET and not here.

    Here’s the thing, Ichthyic: I care about your feelings about as much as Azkyroth cares about mine. If Azkyroth wants to reply here, I’ll reply here. If he wants to reply on TET, I’ll reply on TET. But you can go fuck yourself.

    +++++
    ryan, it’s not very interesting. But if you want, leave me a note on TZT and I’ll drop some links there in reply.

  37. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    Mercifully, I don’t even remember it.

    That’s because it hasn’t happened yet!

  38. Ichthyic says

    Thank you. :(

    it’s entirely selfish on my part.

    I don’t object to occasional digressions to discuss meta issues surrounding commentary, hell I’ve learned a thing or two from them. But it’s become all to0 common an occurrence at Pharyngula over the last few months or so, and I’m not ashamed to admit to becoming quite dischuffed by it.

    I would learn the same things by watching/participating in the discussion in TET.

  39. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    it’s entirely selfish on my part.

    I’ll take what I can get.

  40. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    I don’t object to occasional digressions to discuss meta issues surrounding commentary, hell I’ve learned a thing or two from them. But it’s become all to0 common an occurrence at Pharyngula over the last few months or so,

    The usual reply about sexism applies here too: when people stop doing it, other people will stop objecting to it.

  41. Ichthyic says

    I recall a lawsuit was suggested when these two clowns pulled this shit LAST year.

    it’s a shame that the inertia to get a lawsuit rolling is so very huge that criminal slackers like these basically get away with murder.

    I seem to recall though, that analogous to the TMLC (Thomas Moore law center), there are equivalent nonprofs interested in cases like this?

    There was, once upon a time, a retired law professor who used to take on this stuff, and list various groups that would take an interest in cases like this.

    it was so long ago now, I can’t recall even the prof’s name, but it seems very likely to me that there ARE nonprofs that would be interested in pursuing a case against these two.

  42. Ichthyic says

    The usual reply about sexism applies here too: when people stop doing it, other people will stop objecting to it.

    dishonest of you, since it wasn’t the objection I was objecting to, but the pursuit OF the objection here, and your bloody patronizing manner of doing so.

    just… stop it.

  43. Ichthyic says

    for those still thinking lawsuit, wouldn’t the Freedom From Religion Foundation be worth sending an inquiry to regarding potential interested civil attorneys?

    http://ffrf.org/

  44. Ogvorbis says

    Remember, Eric is just a cloned (if marginally less autistic) version of Kent

    Aw, c’mon! Please stop using things like autism as an isult or an excuse for criminal behaviour.

    I write as someone who is mildly non-neurotypical and have a son who is diagnosed with Aspergers.

  45. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    dishonest of you, since it wasn’t the objection I was objecting to, but the pursuit OF the objection here,

    So what? He didn’t ever read the rest of that thread, and he doesn’t post in TET, so there’s no obviously better way of reaching him.

    and your bloody patronizing manner of doing so.

    I’ve tried other manners with him many times.

    just… stop it.

    No.

  46. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    So what? He didn’t ever read the rest of that thread, and he doesn’t post in TET, so there’s no obviously better way of reaching him.

    …why do you think “reaching me” is A) so superveniently important and B) your job? And for that matter, why me? I’ve never seen anyone else treated like this by anyone.

    I’ve tried other manners with him many times.

    Not…really.

  47. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    …why do you think “reaching me” is A) so superveniently important

    Because you comment a lot, you’ve been here a long time, you’re somewhat respected — and so new commenters learn what constitutes acceptable behavior in part by watching you.

    and B) your job?

    “If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?”

    And for that matter, why me? I’ve never seen anyone else treated like this by anyone.

    There’s an inherent selection bias when looking at how one’s self is treated, as opposed to others.

    In fact, I previously put more effort into raven than you, and had some success; raven now doesn’t feel comfortable diagnosing anything but “sociopathy” here at Pharyngula. Which is, well, not perfect but a marked improvement.

    Not…really.

    Do you want the links that show you’re wrong?

  48. Stacy says

    I do not accept your presumption of mentorship.

    The hell you say, Azkyroth? You don’t think you have anything to learn from a tendentious, humorless, self-described totalitarian who treats you and other people like dirt?

    I am shocked, shocked and appalled at your small-mindedness.

  49. mandrellian says

    Oh, yes, please, for the love of the Great Galactic Squid (blessed be his inky discharge), PLEASE sue the everloving SHIT out of these wankers.

    Surely these lying fuckbags saying “No I will not sell any bits of this broadcast” and then selling bits of the broadcast (sans the bits where they said they wouldn’t!) is an open and shut case – not to mention monstrously douchey. Judge Judy would take five minutes to tear these dishonourable subintellects a few new anii.

    But hey, maybe these clowns don’t recognise Man’s Law and only submit to Giant Beardy Terrorist Space-Wizard’s Law from fear of eternal butthurt. In that case, if anyone ever does go on record with these arseholes again, forget copyright law: make them swear ON THEIR SACRED PARCHMENT not to use any part of the broadcast. If they won’t respect the law, or even honour their word like grownup adult men, maybe fear of Magic Space Wizard Wrath will keep the bastards honest.

  50. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    Hey! I’m not humorless.

    Anyway, it’s usually possible to learn good things from bad people. Azkyroth knows that. So it’s not whether he could learn anything from me that’s in contention here; only whether he feels like caring.

  51. Stacy says

    forget copyright law: make them swear ON THEIR SACRED PARCHMENT not to use any part of the broadcast.

    And get it on film.

  52. mandrellian says

    Stacy @ 65:

    Not only get the parchment-swearing on film (making them hold up their hands so they can’t secretly cross their fingers), but have every sodding non-idiot on Youtube mirror the exchange in perpetuity and every non-idiot blogger linking to one of them every so often, just to remind everyone the kind of honourable sodding Christians we’re dealing with.

    In fact that’s what we should be doing now: distributing, to all and sundry, that one little bit of the video where the false-witness-bearing-brigands-for-Joobers said they wouldn’t sell it and have anyone with a YT/vimeo/whatever account mirror the sucker.

  53. RFW says

    There’s an old adage:

    Say anything, do anything, sign anything, agree to anything, pay anything, but do not go to law.

  54. NuMad says

    I kind of figured that PZ had considered the practicality of a lawsuit over this when his Post went straight to prescribing that these opportunists be radically cut off. If there was a desirable way of making their profiteering hurt, I guess that that course of action would stand out less sharply.

    ॐ,

    So it’s not whether he could learn anything from me that’s in contention here; only whether he feels like caring.

    I think it was already pretty much a given that you were wishing for a scrutinization of Azkyroth’s character, but not specially of yours. Thanks for making it an official order of business, though.

  55. sqlrob says

    In that case, if anyone ever does go on record with these arseholes again, forget copyright law: make them swear ON THEIR SACRED PARCHMENT not to use any part of the broadcast

    Oath was administered by an eeeeevvvvvil atheist. Doesn’t hold.

    /fundie

    They already have to rationalize their beliefs around cognitive dissonance anyhow. There’s still enough outs that this won’t do much, if anything.

  56. mandrellian says

    sqlrob @ 69

    Oaths administered by atheists are invalid? I hadn’t thought of that. I would’ve thought it’s the taker of the oath that’s important, not the administrator.

    Well, some of us godless know some religious people who wouldn’t have any truck with the likes of SyVind – maybe we can get one of them to oath these chaps up.

    Or we can just use the power of the series of tubes that is the internet and embark on a shame campaign.

    Or we could just say “Meh, that’s what you get when dealing with lackwits and charlatans” and ignore them in future, as suggested in the OP. I myself prefer shame; then again these two muppets clearly have none.

    Or someone with a show could invite the clowns back again to explain themselves – if for no other reason than to harvest some epic evasion/rationalisation. Unlikely, but would be entertaining. I’m sure STB would have some awesome pre-justificationisationing for lying to an atheist.

  57. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    NuMad,

    So it’s not whether he could learn anything from me that’s in contention here; only whether he feels like caring.

    I think it was already pretty much a given that you were wishing for a scrutinization of Azkyroth’s character, but not specially of yours. Thanks for making it an official order of business, though.

    I’m not sure what it has to do with the bit you quoted from me. That’s somewhat confusing.

    Anyway, I don’t want to cause a scrutinization of anyone’s character. I’m a consequentialist. I want Azkyroth’s behavior scrutinized, and I want my behavior scrutinized. I don’t give a hoot about anyone’s character or intentions; only consequences are relevant.

    But if y’all like hearing me say I’m a bad person, I don’t mind saying so. Note that I only objected to the inaccurate part of what Stacy said. I’m a bitter, selfish and hateful person who is motivated primarily by ressentiment.

  58. Ichthyic says

    done.

    addendum:

    I expect reciprocation. I haven’t seen you make a comment on anything substantive I’ve had to say that was relevant in yonks, and would appreciate you ignoring me as well.

  59. says

    addendum:

    I expect reciprocation.

    I don’t have a killfile. Happy to make comprehensive my generally ignoring your inane, superficial, repetitive posts, though.

    anything substantive I’ve had to say

    hahaha

  60. Aquaria says

    why do you think “reaching me” is A) so superveniently important and B) your job? And for that matter, why me? I’ve never seen anyone else treated like this by anyone.

    It’s not just you treated this way by this obsessive nitwit.

  61. Owlmirror says

    The comment thread no longer exists, but I did find a copy in Google cache. I’m not linking directly to the cached copy, because I want to make it less likely for Google to re-read the (currently empty of comments) version of the post, and overwrite it.

      [scienceblogs] pharyngula/2010/07/hovind_runs_a_poll.php

    Here, Eric Hovind (not Sye) did write, in response to Kel:

    Yes, it is wrong to misrepresent scientific theories to preach the word of God

    By maintaining the misrepresentation of science that is drdino, Eric Hovind is doing what he has acknowledged is wrong.

    Presumably, he also has no problem in doing other things he knows are wrong, like committing false witness, or breaking his word, or lying.

  62. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    Good points from Aquaria,

    the same Aquaria who calls people “tards” on a regular basis.

  63. NuMad says

    ॐ,

    Anyway, I don’t want to cause a scrutinization of anyone’s character. I’m a consequentialist. I want Azkyroth’s behavior scrutinized, and I want my behavior scrutinized. I don’t give a hoot about anyone’s character or intentions; only consequences are relevant.

    Should I give a hoot that you didn’t intend to cause something, then, or not? This all seems somewhat… contradictory.

  64. says

    But without an ultimate standard of what a fraud is, how can you claim that they are frauds?

    What’s that? Kent Hovind is the ultimate standard of what a fraud is? Never mind.

  65. DLC says

    Bruggencate and Hovind need to be kept away from any microphones, cameras or whatever anywhere. As someone else once said “I’m sure appearing with you would enhance your C.V. but it wouldn’t do much for mine “

  66. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    Should I give a hoot that you didn’t intend to cause something, then, or not?

    Not as an ethical matter, no. If you think I caused the scrutinization of Azkyroth’s character, and if you think that’s an immoral outcome, then you should not regard this as less wrong just because I didn’t intend to.

    As a factual matter, well, it depends on whether you give a hoot about facts (as I suppose you probably do).

    It’s just that you didn’t claim that I’m causing the scrutinization of anyone’s character — that may well be true.

    You claimed that I was “wishing for a scrutinization of Azkyroth’s character”. That’s an inaccurate claim. It doesn’t seem to be a big deal, but I like to be well understood, and you probably care about accuracy.

  67. says

    Anyway, I don’t want to cause a scrutinization of anyone’s character. I’m a consequentialist. I want Azkyroth’s behavior scrutinized, and I want my behavior scrutinized. I don’t give a hoot about anyone’s character or intentions; only consequences are relevant.

    Can you explain where you draw the line between the consequences of someone’s behavior and their character? Right now to me it’s a dualism with a fine dividing line that I can’t see.

    @Azy

    It’s not just you.

  68. says

    You claimed that I was “wishing for a scrutinization of Azkyroth’s character”. That’s an inaccurate claim. It doesn’t seem to be a big deal, but I like to be well understood, and you probably care about accuracy.

    Sorry, I’m confused now. Isn’t caring about accuracy in this case actually caring about intent? If we were being strict consequential (a view I’m apparently drifting away from) why would you care about the factual or erroneous view someone has of your intent?

  69. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    Can you explain where you draw the line between the consequences of someone’s behavior and their character? Right now to me it’s a dualism with a fine dividing line that I can’t see.

    Isn’t “character” a term that people use to refer to the “inner self”?

    So a relevant distinction would be if a white person scores high on the IAT preference for white faces, then that’s something racist about their character; but if they object and express their disappointment when people tell racist jokes, that’s something anti-racist about their behavior.

    Consequentialism holds that the behavior matters; the character does not.

    (Virtue ethics holds that character matters primarily or exclusively.)

    Isn’t caring about accuracy in this case actually caring about intent? If we were being strict consequential (a view I’m apparently drifting away from) why would you care about the factual or erroneous view someone has of your intent?

    Not necessarily; factual accuracy sometimes has very little to do with moral consequences. But one could imagine a vector by which having a factual misunderstanding of my intentions would cause that person to treat me worse than they otherwise would, and I think I frequently see behavior like this directed at others, as when people “go looking” for a reason why so-and-so must have freely willed some assholery. So if I were concerned about this as a moral matter, that’s how I’d address it.

    But, introspection being admittedly faulty, when I say “I like to be understood” I think I am only expressing a preference, like “I like chocolate better than strawberry.” It is simply an explanation for why I explain so much. It is sort of personally satisfying, similar to how explaining a favorite book or movie can be satisfying. I care because I care, but it’s an aesthetic rather than a moral matter.

    Anyway, if you’re drifting away from consequentialism, it’s probable that you’ve misunderstood it — or you’re accidentally becoming a nihilist — or you’re just fooling yourself. There are no other coherent moral systems; consequentialism and nihilism are the only real options, everything else is illusionism. (Don’t take me as the quintessential consequentialist; I am regularly much meaner than my beliefs permit, hence my admission of being a bad person. I think KG provides a better example.)

  70. says

    Anyway, if you’re drifting away from consequentialism, it’s probable that you’ve misunderstood it — or you’re accidentally becoming a nihilist — or you’re just fooling yourself. There are no other coherent moral systems; consequentialism and nihilism are the only real options, everything else is illusionism. (Don’t take me as the quintessential consequentialist; I am regularly much meaner than my beliefs permit, hence my admission of being a bad person. I think KG provides a better example.)

    I’m finding there’s a certain level of resolution where virtue ethics and consequentialism are nigh indistinguishable. I’m not so sure that the idea of a virtue ethics looked at in certain ways isn’t valid.

  71. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    I’m finding there’s a certain level of resolution where virtue ethics and consequentialism are nigh indistinguishable.

    Could you explain this?

    I’m not so sure that the idea of a virtue ethics looked at in certain ways isn’t valid.

    Ing, you’ve got me worried. It’s pretty much the worst thing ever. Virtue ethics gave us the cults-of-action-for-action’s-sake.

  72. says

    My formal knowledge of philosophy is limited so I might be hobbled by lower vocabulary on the subject. But if you take Kant’s views for decided what is moral (say applying it universally) to consequentalism then it’s almost the same since Kant makes an appeal to consequences. On the flip side it seems consequentalism relies on making a decision on what would be the best outcome for a scenario…which relies on a preference which could be seen as ‘virtue’. If virtue is viewed as a state of giving a damn about your actions and wanting their consequences to be positive than that might be a justified world view, if someone adapts to new information.

    Ing, you’ve got me worried. It’s pretty much the worst thing ever. Virtue ethics gave us the cults-of-action-for-action’s-sake.

    Not so sure that you don’t get the same with consequentalism, only with people invoking a consequence or effect in the future instead of a virtue or past edict. What’s the difference between a terrorist that needs to avenge the wrongs committed by the oppressors and one who thinks their actions will help topple the oppression?

  73. says

    Furthermore, I’m not sure how Consequentalism avoids the problems of a sort of heartless ultilitarianism. I kept wondering in pro-choice discussions here how people said that they should have a right to basically refuse to save someone’s life by giving blood if asked. Not sure I see the difference between that and the Libertarian “for the sake of freedom everyone can go fuck themselves if I decide to be an ass it’s my right”.

  74. says

    Not sure I see the difference between that and the Libertarian “for the sake of freedom everyone can go fuck themselves if I decide to be an ass it’s my right”.

    so you can’t tell the difference between one’s body and one’s wallet, either?

    surprising.

  75. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    My formal knowledge of philosophy is limited so I might be hobbled by lower vocabulary on the subject. But if you take Kant’s views for decided what is moral (say applying it universally) to consequentalism then it’s almost the same since Kant makes an appeal to consequences.

    Ah! It looks like you’re mixing deontology and consequentialism here (rather than virtue ethics and consequentialism), which usually looks something like a rule consequentialism but can be trivially stated as a form of deontology too.

    There was a recent thread here about Christian morals, where people ended up discussing divine command theory a lot. If you remember that one, you may remember abb3w mentioning how consequentialisms can be restated as deontologies and vice versa. That’s true, although they’re not equivalent in the strength of their metaethical foundations.

    So yeah, if deontology vs consequentialism is what you’re talking about, you’re quite right that these can be nigh indistinguishable at certain resolutions.

    Virtue ethics is something else, though. It’s the notion that “we know what good is because it’s what a virtuous person would do.” Not only is it obviously circular reasoning, it turns out that people tend to imagine “the virtuous person” as the Romantic Hero, with predictably destructive consequences.

    Not so sure that you don’t get the same with consequentalism, only with people invoking a consequence or effect in the future instead of a virtue or past edict. What’s the difference between a terrorist that needs to avenge the wrongs committed by the oppressors and one who thinks their actions will help topple the oppression?

    Sure, if people don’t rationally discuss what sort of consequences should be favored, then consequentialism is just an empty framework.

    But when I talk about it here, especially with someone like you whose preferences I’m aware of, I assume the other person would — if they were to develop a consequentialism for themself — develop one that insists upon the primacy of life and freedom for all people.

  76. says

    No I can tell the difference. It’s not the pro-choice realities, it’s the examples given. There may be many good reasons not to do mass blood donation or that, but the idea given that say if I could save someone’s life directly via blood donation or something minimal like that, the virtue of personal autonomy would override the value of helping someone. I’m not sure it’s the best, over all, argument for pro-choice; but I of course don’t advertise that when the topic comes up because I prioritize the real effects of pro-choice debates over rhetorical hypothetical. When people use the example where they seem to say that even if it’s something as minimal as a blood donation to save someone’s life, it would be ethical to deny it and let that person die; I personally don’t feel right about that. I have trouble distinguishing that between “my right to keep my dollar >>> your right to live” as they both seem to boil down to the ethics of “my personal rights trump your right to live”. It’s a non issue on the pro-choice debate and body of course is more important than wallet. I just get troubled at the idea of persons being sacrificed for ideals.

  77. says

    Virtue ethics is something else, though. It’s the notion that “we know what good is because it’s what a virtuous person would do.” Not only is it obviously circular reasoning, it turns out that people tend to imagine “the virtuous person” as the Romantic Hero, with predictably destructive consequences.

    Then it’s just me not understanding terminology. I think it could be useful from a consequential POV to have ideals or ‘virtues’ if they are ones that promote moral computation.

  78. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    But couldn’t someone argue that prudence as a virtue would deter someone from such fool hardiness :-p</blockquote.

    One could argue anything. :)

    But these things don't work out so well in practice, I think.

    So let's imagine the most important thing to me is thinking of myself as someone who exhibits prudence. This is a formulation of virtue ethics. "In theory" it should cause me to act prudently. But in practice there's something missing, or rather someone missing. Toward whom am I supposed to act prudently? They are not mentioned. Virtue ethics is stated as being all about me me me and what a great person I am. The people who might be affected by my behaviors are nowhere to be seen.

    At least consequentialism and deontology explicitly take the other person into account. There is no way to be deontological without considering whether you’re interacting with this other person according to some rules; there’s no way to be consequentialist without considering the effects of your actions upon this other person.

    Furthermore, I’m not sure how Consequentalism avoids the problems of a sort of heartless ultilitarianism.

    Utilitarianisms, both heartless and heartful, are of course subtypes of consequentialism. So, consequentialism doesn’t necessarily avoid heartlessness, unless you pick one of those consequentialisms that does avoid heartlessness.

    I kept wondering in pro-choice discussions here how people said that they should have a right to basically refuse to save someone’s life by giving blood if asked.

    Rights, though, are not present in the heartless utilitarianisms. Whatever the problem with any given heartless utilitarianism, it is certainly not because someone had the “right” to act a certain way.

    If you want a rights-less utilitarianism that demands the giving of blood, then you say bodily autonomy is less important than life.

    If you want a rights-less utilitarianism that allows the withholding of blood, then you say bodily autonomy is more important than life.

    (But yeah, what Jadehawk said. If you continue down that road then you will end up outlawing abortion.)

  79. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    I think it could be useful from a consequential POV to have ideals or ‘virtues’ if they are ones that promote moral computation.

    Oh, yeah. I agree it can be useful. So long as those ideals don’t become more important than real outcomes for other people.

  80. NuMad says

    ॐ,

    You claimed that I was “wishing for a scrutinization of Azkyroth’s character”. That’s an inaccurate claim. It doesn’t seem to be a big deal, but I like to be well understood, and you probably care about accuracy.

    I don’t think it’s particularly inaccurate.

    So a relevant distinction would be if a white person scores high on the IAT preference for white faces, then that’s something racist about their character; but if they object and express their disappointment when people tell racist jokes, that’s something anti-racist about their behavior.

    In the latter case, the people who hear them express their disappointment would conclude something about their character, as well. The context of a scientific test is pretty unrepresentative as an example, since exceptionally the consideration of “character” is disconnected from behavior.

  81. says

    as they both seem to boil down to the ethics of “my personal rights trump your right to live”

    *shrug*

    as I said elsewhere, there’s no right to be alive (death is not a human rights violation), and the so-called “right to live” is really just bodily autonomy (including both negative rights and positive rights) phrased in an emotionally appealing manner.

    and “personal rights” is meaningless because it’s too general. my rights to stuff in general are less than my rights to the stuff that define my private sphere which are less than the rights to the stuff in my intimate sphere which are less than the rights to my physical body which are less than the rights to my psyche (all based on psychological effects of what would happen if my rights to each of these were routinely violated — and, as an emergent property thereof, the society-wide effect of considering the violation of each of those “for the greater good” ethical)

  82. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    One of those ideals I’ve felt is paramount is the willingness to sacrifice a personal ideal for actual people.

    Good to hear. Jadehawk’s way of putting it is that she’s against principles, on principle.

    Incorrect because a fetus isn’t a person

    Lol. That’s not at all obvious. There’s a reason why late term abortions are often done with anaesthesia for the fetus, because most doctors think it is probably capable of experiencing pain. If it can have experiences then it’s a person.

    When people use the example where they seem to say that even if it’s something as minimal as a blood donation to save someone’s life, it would be ethical to deny it and let that person die; I personally don’t feel right about that.

    How — not where but how — do you determine where to draw the line? Google for example Judith Jarvis Thomson’s violinist thought experiment. Should I be morally obliged to remain attached to the violinist for as long as necessary? Even though I didn’t get myself into this situation, am I violating their right to life if I disconnect us? If not, why not?

  83. Cephas Borg says

    I wonder what it is about religion (christianity in particular) that attracts the Hovinds and Craigs of this world in the first place? Camouflage?

  84. Cephas Borg says

    Oh, yeah, PeeZee – I don’t know if you’re aware or not, but your site gets a lot of ads like “Is there a God? Click here to find six reasons that God exists”… That’s very open-minded of you!

  85. Cipher, OM, MQ says

    I don’t think it’s particularly inaccurate.

    Er.
    You’re just going to assert that you know more about SG’s wish than he does?
    That seems unwise.

    In the latter case, the people who hear them express their disappointment would conclude something about their character, as well.

    This is true. In this case, both character and behavior are available to be assessed (although you probably can’t really get much out of just one behavior in terms of assessing character, for various reasons). But what’s the point of assessing their character? Does the first case matter by itself?

  86. Ichthyic says

    I wonder what it is about religion (christianity in particular) that attracts the Hovinds and Craigs of this world in the first place? Camouflage?

    don’t be silly.

    this thread is about personal issues with regular commenters posting phrases others don’t like, random ejaculations regarding ethics jargon, and endlessly rehashed arguments about abortion and the definition of personhood.

    it’s obviously got nothing to do with Hovind or Craig.

  87. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    NuMad,

    You claimed that I was “wishing for a scrutinization of Azkyroth’s character”. That’s an inaccurate claim. It doesn’t seem to be a big deal, but I like to be well understood, and you probably care about accuracy.

    I don’t think it’s particularly inaccurate.

    Then you’re pretending to be capable of reading my mind.

    In the latter case, the people who hear them express their disappointment would conclude something about their character, as well.

    If they care about character. I don’t.

    The context of a scientific test is pretty unrepresentative as an example, since exceptionally the consideration of “character” is disconnected from behavior.

    If your notion of “character” is one of behavior, like if you’re talking about so-and-so is the kind of person who behaves “that way”, then that’s essentialist hogwash. It’s the Fundamental Attribution Error writ large. There’s no such thing as character in that sense.

    People have emotional dispositions toward approach or avoidance behaviors, but that’s so general that it’s not worth calling character, since it doesn’t determine their ability to act morally.

  88. says

    since “person” is a social construct, that’s a bit of a non-argument as far as I’m concerned.

    that… is actually incoherent, in hindsight, since “rights” are social constructs too.

    what I meant is that it’s a social construct that shifts ridiculously easily in people’s minds and is understood as a construct even by people who don’t really think about this shit (corporate personhood, for example). because it’s an obvious legally constructed thing. probably, if these obnoxious “personhood” amendments passed and survived long enough, people would ultimately start experiencing fetuses as persons. plus, the “doesn’t have rights because it’s not a person” feels tautologous. of course something not included in the category “entity with legal rights” doesn’t have legal rights.

  89. Cipher, OM, MQ says

    I wonder what it is about religion (christianity in particular) that attracts the Hovinds and Craigs of this world in the first place? Camouflage?

    My guess: it’s the same things that attract anybody (being raised in it helps), and then religion provides a sort of nearly-bulletproof excuse for whatever they wanted to do anyway.

  90. says

    @Jadehawk

    as I said elsewhere, there’s no right to be alive (death is not a human rights violation), and the so-called “right to live” is really just bodily autonomy (including both negative rights and positive rights) phrased in an emotionally appealing manner.

    Well if I grant some bodily autonomy and psyche autonomy, ontological autonomy is sort of a prerequisite. I don’t think I can make a decision for someone else, in a neutral situation, about whether they should exist or not.

    My personal ethics extends rights to anything that has a mind. It’s a philosophical position for me not a legal one. It’s a vague position that’s hard to pin point but typically it’s if something can articulate a sense of itself. It’s a gradient and I don’t feel comfortable eating anything like a pig despite how good bacon tastes.

    and “personal rights” is meaningless because it’s too general. my rights to stuff in general are less than my rights to the stuff that define my private sphere which are less than the rights to the stuff in my intimate sphere which are less than the rights to my physical body which are less than the rights to my psyche (all based on psychological effects of what would happen if my rights to each of these were routinely violated — and, as an emergent property thereof, the society-wide effect of considering the violation of each of those “for the greater good” ethical)

    Right as I said my problem is with a specific rhetorical. I can’t think of a plausible scenario where it would come up.

    How — not where but how — do you determine where to draw the line? Google for example Judith Jarvis Thomson’s violinist thought experiment. Should I be morally obliged to remain attached to the violinist for as long as necessary? Even though I didn’t get myself into this situation, am I violating their right to life if I disconnect us? If not, why not?

    I can’t say if you would be morally obligated since I think it falls under personal ethics.

    My point was that with that scenario I didn’t think it was a slam dunk, despite being firmly pro-choice. I probably personally if put in that scenario could not disconnect myself, but that’s because I couldn’t feel right condemning anyone to death without a good enough reason. I also don’t think I can necessarily force someone else to make that decision because it’s a gray area (see pro-choice)…my point was that I don’t feel comfortable with that scenario being used for pro-choice itself.

    My cut off point would probably have to base on a cost/gain comparison. Something as small as a blood donation I couldn’t walk away from, violinist I probably couldn’t either (though whoever put me in that situation would be profoundly unethical themselves), serious risk of death or maiming I think is the cut off point where I think no one should be judged for walking away, though yes serious risk is subjective.

  91. says

    ontological autonomy is sort of a prerequisite

    no, why? bodily autonomy is not inherently a right, it’s a right because the lack thereof produces massive amounts of psychological and social misery. and while the idea of not existing produces enough existential wangsting to produce the religious concept of afterlife and “but what if I were aborted” hypotheticals, the harm from not having a right to existence doesn’t seem to actually produce the level of harm that not having a right to self-determination does.

  92. se habla espol says

    If I may be forgiven for de-derailing the conversation —
    Zeno said early on

    29 May 2012 at 11:28 am
    Once again we see that the most zealous exponents of the Ten Commandments regard themselves as having an exemption. The stuff about not “bearing false witness”? Doesn’t apply to them!

    Well of course the 10Cs apply quite well, thank you. Herewith, from the bible rewrite that seems most popular among fundies (some other rewrites of the bible omit the operative wording):

    Exod.20
    [16] Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

    Let’s look, clause by clause, at this commandment, and the special case that it prohibits. The important idea to note is that the commandment only forbids this special case – generalizing to other cases misrepresents what it says:

    Thou shalt not bear false witness

    It’s not clear whether this translates to prohibition of perjury, of lying to some official, like the elders of the tribe, or of lying in general. It’s not really pertinent here.

    against

    You are prohibited from (perjuring, lying) to the detriment of someone. Lying in his favor is, by omission from the prohibition, not covered at all by the special case of this commandment, and is not a problem.

    thy neighbour.

    The someone that one must not lie to the detriment of is ‘thy neighbour’, that is, a member of one’s tribe. The tribe camps together, and builds villages together: other tribes camp and build elsewhere. Thus, rewritten in modern English, the commandment forbids lying (in certain illdefined circumstances) to the detriment of a fellow tribesman. In modern life, the place of the tribe remains only in the sect or cult one is a member of, as determined by the specific belief set that one has been told to believe.
    The tribe is, in the times for which this was written, the entirety of one’s neighbors. An atheist is, by definition, not a member of StB’s tribe, sect or cult, so it’s perfectly fine to lie to the detriment of the atheist.
    What’s the problem?
    =============================================================
    We now return to your regularly scheduled derail.

  93. says

    I think we’re miscommunication due to my lack of formal knowledge of philosophy and terms.

    I have virtually no formal knowledge of philosophy. the philosophical reasons for something or another are less interesting than real-world effects, so I’ve been clobbering together a “philosophy” based entirely on finding heuristics and methods that evidence shows produce the effects I want and avoid the effects I don’t want. Trial-and-error ethics, if you wish.

    I suspect I could explain myself better if I did have that kind of formal knowledge, though. And maybe it wouldn’t take me this long to figure shit out, either :-p

  94. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    It’s not just you treated this way by this obsessive nitwit.

    This is the third time I’ve heard of anyone else having a problem with his behavior, and it’s just barely balancing out the number of times people (Josh, Jadehawk, I forget who else) have vocally blamed ME for his hijacking a thread to berate me over some idiotically uncharitable interpretation of something I said weeks or months ago. It’s nice to not be alone, finally, especially given my past history, but why the hell hasn’t something been done yet? Isn’t that what communities are for?

  95. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    I can’t say if you would be morally obligated since I think it falls under personal ethics. … I probably personally if put in that scenario could not disconnect myself, but that’s because I couldn’t feel right … I also don’t think I can necessarily force someone else to make that decision because it’s a gray area … I couldn’t walk away from, violinist I probably couldn’t either

    …?

    If you can’t say whether I’d be morally obligated then you’re not talking about an ethics of any kind. You’re talking about aesthetics.

    Ethics are at minimum ideas we have about how people should treat each other, not just you. If you’re not willing to say that someone else should be morally obliged to give blood, then you don’t have an ethical objection to the refusing-to-give-blood scenario. You just have an ick objection, no more important than whether you don’t like my taste in music.

    You can make an aesthetic call, and say “that person is disgustingly selfish for not giving blood”. I may or may not agree with you, depending on my mood. But if you aren’t willing to say that person is or is not morally obliged to give blood, then you don’t have any kind of ethical objection to the blood-donation comparison for abortion; maybe all you meant to say is that you’d never withhold blood, and that’s why you find the comparison not compelling, because it’s saying you should be allowed to do something you’re not interested in doing.

    I guess you give blood pretty much every week? It’s almost always in demand.

  96. says

    I guess you give blood pretty much every week? It’s almost always in demand.

    I give whenever I am able to whenever there is a drive. This is the point where I’m starting to feel that we’re no longer interested in any understanding and now are just trying to score points, so the topic is over as far as I’m concerned

  97. says

    I think you’re veering towards personal attacks now and I’m not comfortable spending so much space on a thread like this talking about me.

    …?

    nothing in his last comment at least contained a personal attack of any sort

    *confused*

  98. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    This is the third time I’ve heard of anyone else having a problem with his behavior,

    Sheesh, Azkyroth. They’re just trying to reassure you that I’m really not focusing on you the way you imagine.

    Now, again, there’s a particular reason Aquaria doesn’t like me. She likes to call people “tards”, and I don’t like that. She’s probably still upset that I kept on pointing out how raven would use mental illness per se as an insult.

    Ichthyic, same problem, as you noticed if you ever clicked through.

    It’s nice to not be alone, finally, especially given my past history, but why the hell hasn’t something been done yet? Isn’t that what communities are for?

    What do you imagine will be done? People fight me all the time and tell me I’m a terrible person who deserves no sympathy. Sometimes in packs of a dozen or more. I get it, I go on with my life.

    My behavior in question here is relentlessly opposing group oppression. Everybody may think I’m an asshole for locking my jaws and not letting go, but you aren’t going to win this one.

    If ever you finally quit acting in ways that are oppressive to marginalized groups, and if I don’t leave you alone at that point, then I’m sure you’ll have the support of the whole community.

    Of course, I have every intention of leaving you alone at that point, so I don’t think it’ll come to that, but if then I can’t let go of the personal grudge, you’ll surely win. I suggest you hasten that day by giving up your habit of ableist stigmatization ASAP.

  99. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    As far as I can tell, you’re a narcissistic (not a diagnosis) bully who happens to have adopted a laudable cause as something between a stalking horse and a security blanket. I don’t believe you’ll ever stop finding some way to twist things I say into excuses to attack me, no matter how carefully I police myself, and I refuse to be cowed into walking on eggshells. I’ve more than earned the right to participate in this community, and I continue to learn from people who actually engage in good faith rather than simply bullying for the sake of bullying.

  100. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    I already said I don’t have a philosophical background to use the proper shared terminology.

    Yeah, that’s okay.

    You’re berating me for that now.

    No, I’m not. I’m just telling you that some of your objections are about aesthetics and not ethics. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But it was simply confusing earlier when you seemed to frame your objection to the blood-donation/abortion comparison as an ethical one, and now it apparently turns out not to be that.

    I think you’re veering towards personal attacks now

    Nope. Ing, even if I said you were surely becoming a nihilist — which I don’t think is accurate — it wouldn’t be a personal attack. At least not from me. Some nihilists can be very good people.

    and I’m not comfortable spending so much space on a thread like this talking about me.

    That’s fine.

    I give whenever I am able to whenever there is a drive.

    That’s pretty cool.

    I’m not allowed to give blood in my state since I have sex with men. :\ But I’m glad for you.

    This is the point where I’m starting to feel that we’re no longer interested in any understanding and now are just trying to score points

    Checking to see whether you walk your talk is relevant to understanding. But in any case, thanks for your time, it was interesting. You gotta rethink that fetus-is-not-a-person tautology stuff, but otherwise you’re looking good.

  101. says

    @Jadehawk and SGBM

    Also way late for me and can’t sleep because stress…may be becoming high strung.

    I’m not allowed to give blood in my state since I have sex with men. :\ But I’m glad for you.

    Sorry for snapping, not being able to give as much as I used to because of job which no longer exists and makes me unhappy and is keeping me up tonight is a sore spot.

  102. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    As far as I can tell, you’re a narcissistic (not a diagnosis) bully who happens to have adopted a laudable cause as something between a stalking horse and a security blanket.

    Too much assumption of strategery in there, Azkyroth. It’s more likely that I happen to believe that the world can be improved and I’ve stumbled upon a community of mostly like-minded people who are helpful with refining my ideas. (Whether I am also a narcissitic bully is very much open for debate. I think it’s plausible. But all the pieces don’t fit together as neatly as you imagine.)

    This would account for my dropping my advocacy of firearms ownership, after I repeatedly failed to make a solid argument that could withstand others’ scrutiny, and I took that as an indication that I was wrong.

    The “stalking horse” or “security blanket” hypotheses can’t account for any such change of mind. Under those assumptions, I’d have no reason to change my mind about anything.

    I don’t believe you’ll ever stop finding some way to twist things I say into excuses to attack me, no matter how carefully I police myself

    Perhaps that’s because you’re a narcissist who believes that I’m really basically against you and not just against your destructive behaviors.

    and I refuse to be cowed into walking on eggshells. I’ve more than earned the right to participate in this community,

    But you haven’t earned the right to stigmatize people with your ableist rhetoric. No one has. You don’t have to listen to me about it, but you will not be able to assert your right to participate here on the basis of some right to use psychotic symptoms as insults, or any other such nonsense.

    You want to be that kind of asshole? Then you will be fought every step of the way. This is Pharyngula! and whatnot.

  103. Cipher, OM, MQ says

    As far as I can tell, you’re a narcissistic (not a diagnosis) bully who happens to have adopted a laudable cause as something between a stalking horse and a security blanket.

    Hm? I don’t think this assessment takes adequately into account the times that SGBM has said that issues of ableism affect him and people he cares about directly. I step back from battles that I have the privilege to step back from all the time (I’m trying to work on strategies to engage them better as an ally, though), but when I see misogyny and especially rape apologia I have a very hard time letting go of it; you and I both consistently get pretty snarly when people use autism as an insult. It would at least be strange to say that we were “adopting a laudable cause” by fighting with people on these issues, and it would definitely be a condescending derailing tactic to say it was a security blanket.

  104. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    Ing,

    Sorry for snapping,

    It’s cool. I know these discussions can be unnerving.

    without not being able to give as much as I used to because of job which no longer exists and makes me unhappy and is keeping me up tonight is a sore spot.

    That sucks. I’m sorry I stressed you out more. You’re not wrong that I was probing with the “do you give blood” question, but I wish I had worded it less confrontationally.

  105. says

    Several points:

    (1) Moral philosophy: the more I learn and think about the subject, I’m more and more of an emotivist and ethical non-cognitivist. I’m fairly convinced that there is no such thing as an objective morality, and that moral statements are not propositions capable of being objectively true or false. Rather, I think they’re largely expressions of our basic emotional reactions to certain things.

    This doesn’t mean that all debate about moral propositions is entirely meaningless – because many of what we consider to be moral debates are, actually, empirical debates. Most people, for example, would agree with the moral statement that poverty is a bad thing and should be reduced. Leftists and rightists have very different ideas about which economic model works best to eliminate poverty, but that debate is primarily an empirical one, about which arguments can be made with reference to the empirical evidence. Likewise, I spend a great deal of time arguing for immigrants’ rights, and I’ve noticed that most anti-immigration arguments are based in empirical falsehoods and misunderstandings (spread by anti-immigrant lobby groups like FAIR and by the right-wing media), and that many people change their views when confronted with the actual reality. Thus plenty of moral arguments are premised on empirical claims which can be debated, and, in some cases, debunked.

    But for the same reason, some moral debates are simply non-resolvable. If someone says “I oppose gay marriage because it will lead to the breakup of the family and the decline of society,” then that’s an empirical claim, and an obviously false one which we can easily dismantle. But if someone says “I oppose gay marriage because gays are icky and I want them to suffer,” then that isn’t a proposition of fact which can be rationally disputed; it’s a personal emotional reaction which isn’t really susceptible to rational debate. We can only call the person a homophobic asshole and move on.

    Or, to take a less clear-cut example, look at debates over vegetarianism. These tend to boil down to a basic question of value: how highly should we value non-human animal lives, and how should we balance them against human needs and wants? I don’t know the answer to that. I know my answer, and I know the strong feelings of others on both sides, but it’s proved impossible to resolve this

    To take a third example, my opposition to the death penalty is primarily grounded in the fact that I find the deliberate taking of human life to be absolutely abhorrent. Of course I could (and do) also make arguments about miscarriages of justice, the race and class inequalities in the judicial system, and so on, but those are not the most fundamental reasons why I oppose the death penalty; I would oppose it even if the judicial system had a perfect track-record of determining guilt or innocence. Conversely, if someone simply feels differently, and enjoys the idea of “bad” people being killed by the state – as some people do – then there’s not much I can say to convince them that they are wrong. I can only say that I have

    (2) Internet diagnoses: declaring someone to have a psychiatric condition based on their internet posts is not particularly helpful, especially when one has no training in psychology or psychiatry.

  106. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    Hm? I don’t think this assessment takes adequately into account the times that SGBM has said that issues of ableism affect him and people he cares about directly.

    That’s true, but Azkyroth probably doesn’t ever read comments by me which aren’t addressed to him. And I don’t open up personally to him. So yeah, he may honestly have never noticed any of that.

  107. says

    Several points:

    (1) Moral philosophy: the more I learn and think about the subject, I’m more and more of an emotivist and ethical non-cognitivist. I’m fairly convinced that there is no such thing as an objective morality, and that moral statements are not propositions capable of being objectively true or false. Rather, I think they’re largely expressions of our basic emotional reactions to certain things.

    This doesn’t mean that all debate about moral propositions is entirely meaningless – because many of what we consider to be moral debates are, actually, empirical debates. Most people, for example, would agree with the moral statement that poverty is a bad thing and should be reduced. Leftists and rightists have very different ideas about which economic model works best to eliminate poverty, but that debate is primarily an empirical one, about which arguments can be made with reference to the empirical evidence. Likewise, I spend a great deal of time arguing for immigrants’ rights, and I’ve noticed that most anti-immigration arguments are based in factual falsehoods and misunderstandings (spread by anti-immigrant lobby groups like FAIR and by the right-wing media), and that many people change their views when confronted with the actual reality. Thus plenty of moral arguments are premised on empirical claims which can be debated, and, in some cases, debunked.

    But for the same reason, some moral debates are simply non-resolvable by reasoned argument. If someone says “I oppose gay marriage because it will lead to the breakup of the family and the decline of society,” then that’s an empirical claim, and an obviously false one which we can easily dismantle. But if someone says “I oppose gay marriage because gays are icky and I want them to suffer,” then that isn’t a proposition of fact which can be rationally disputed; it’s a personal emotional reaction which isn’t really susceptible to rational debate. We can only call the person a homophobic asshole and move on.

    Or, to take a less clear-cut example, look at debates over vegetarianism. These tend to boil down to a basic question of value: how highly should we value non-human animal lives, and how should we balance them against human needs and wants? I don’t know the answer to that. I know my answer, and I know the strong feelings of others on both sides, but it’s proved impossible to resolve this issue by rational debate.

    To take a third example, my opposition to the death penalty is primarily grounded in the fact that I find the deliberate taking of human life to be absolutely abhorrent. Of course I could (and do) also make arguments about miscarriages of justice, the race and class inequalities in the judicial system, and so on, but those are not the most fundamental reasons why I oppose the death penalty; I would oppose it even if the judicial system had a perfect track-record of determining guilt or innocence, since the empathy I feel for people who are suffering is not affected by their past behaviour (largely because I don’t believe in free will, and so I don’t believe that anyone “chooses” to act in particular ways). Conversely, if someone simply feels differently, and enjoys the idea of “bad” people being killed by the state in retribution – as some people do – then there’s not much I can say to convince them that they are wrong. I can only say that we have conflicting feelings.

    Anyway, sorry for the lengthy ramble.

  108. says

    Sorry, I didn’t realize I posted that twice. The first one @#136 was unfinished and was not meant to be posted; I hit Submit by accident.

  109. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    Hi Walton! Good to see you.

    But for the same reason, some moral debates are simply non-resolvable. If someone says “I oppose gay marriage because it will lead to the breakup of the family and the decline of society,” then that’s an empirical claim, and an obviously false one which we can easily dismantle. But if someone says “I oppose gay marriage because gays are icky and I want them to suffer,” then that isn’t a proposition of fact which can be rationally disputed; it’s a personal emotional reaction which isn’t really susceptible to rational debate.

    Empirically, I think you’re wrong about this. People can be primed to feel differently by asking them to think about fairness and such. So I do think basic preferences can be shifted through discussion (whether we’ll call it “rational” debate when we’re trying to change someone’s emotional reactions, I don’t know).

    I’ll go get some citations now, but I think this is what we’re aiming at.

  110. says

    but that debate is primarily an empirical one, about which arguments can be made with reference to the empirical evidence.

    more precisely, these sort of things should be empirical debates. in reality, unfortunately, you get silliness like this:

    If, for example, secular conferences take on gay marriage, why not polygamy? Do all skeptics, secularists, and atheists agree with me that polygamy should be legalized? How about an effort to eradicate marriage altogether? What about government-run health care? How about education? Is privatization the answer? What about charter schools? Education, after all, is a central issue for those who care about social justice, so why should skeptics and secularists talk about it?

    I’ll tell you why: we do not agree on the solutions, nor do we agree on what is “fair” or “moral” in these areas. These are issues of values. Skeptics can discuss evidence regarding specific questions (e.g., whether outcomes-based teaching is effective), but skepticism cannot tell us whether or not the education of children should be the responsibility of the government. When groups endorse specific values and conclusions which cannot be empirically supported, they’re endorsing ideologies and, in the case of skepticism at least, rejecting the very methods they claim to promote.

    source

  111. Walton says

    Empirically, I think you’re wrong about this. People can be primed to feel differently by asking them to think about fairness and such. So I do think basic preferences can be shifted through discussion (whether we’ll call it “rational” debate when we’re trying to change someone’s emotional reactions, I don’t know).

    I agree, but I don’t think that necessarily contradicts my claim. People’s emotional reactions can certainly be conditioned by new experiences and new information. Talking to people about the real human suffering of detained asylum-seekers can change their feelings about immigration laws. Showing people a video of cruelty at a factory farm can change their feelings about animal rights. Framing a question differently and using different emotive language can affect people’s answers. Empirically, it’s obviously not the case that people’s emotional reactions to moral issues are fixed for all time and cannot be changed. (My own have changed considerably over the years, for various reasons.)

    But that doesn’t mean that the emotions themselves are susceptible to rational debate, as such. I can try to change people’s feelings about, say, factory-farming by trying to make them better-informed about it. But if someone watches a video of cruelty at a factory farm, has no emotional reaction at all, and continues to eat factory-farm-produced animal products with no qualms, there is no argument by which I can prove that that person is objectively wrong to feel that way, or that I am objectively right to feel the way I feel.

  112. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    Walton,

    On priming justice, I guess it might be complicated. Maybe not settled what’s the best way of going about it. But the important thing is that emotional reactions are amenable to influence, and that can be studied, and techniques refined.

    Plus I’m sure you’ve come across some studies which show that knowing a gay person decreases anti-gay attitudes.

  113. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    I agree, but I don’t think that necessarily contradicts my claim.

    I think it contradicts part of it; the “non-resolvable” thing may be too strong. When it’s possible to influence enough lawmakers, some issues can be effectively resolved.

  114. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    Obviously I wrote #144 before seeing your #143,

  115. Ichthyic says

    his hijacking a thread

    plus fucking infinity.

    these endless philosophical debates that have fuck all to do with the topic of the thread were WHY the endless thread was kept going.

  116. Walton says

    Walton,

    On priming justice, I guess it might be complicated. Maybe not settled what’s the best way of going about it. But the important thing is that emotional reactions are amenable to influence, and that can be studied, and techniques refined.

    Yes, that’s true. I think we’re simply talking about slightly different things here. You’re addressing the empirical question of whether and how people’s moral convictions can be changed; I’m addressing the meta-ethical question of whether it is possible for a moral conviction to be right or wrong in any objective sense, and, if so, how we tell which moral convictions are right and which are wrong. Both questions are important; I’m certainly concerned with how to convince other people to adopt my point of view, but I’m also concerned with whether my point of view is right in the first place.

  117. says

    Here, Eric Hovind (not Sye) did write, in response to Kel:
    Yes, it is wrong to misrepresent scientific theories to preach the word of God

    By maintaining the misrepresentation of science that is drdino, Eric Hovind is doing what he has acknowledged is wrong.

    Presumably, he also has no problem in doing other things he knows are wrong, like committing false witness, or breaking his word, or lying.

    I think this comment, more than anything, showed more that Eric was willing to say anything to show himself to be reasonable. I don’t think for a minute that he actually believes that – only that if he says no to that then he’s automatically lost any claim to be reasonable.

    I don’t think he’s clueless that what he says is not what biologists talk about when they talk about evolution; it just doesn’t serve his purpose to represent biology fairly. He’s not out to overturn evolution, only to stop belief in it. Why represent something fairly when the people who are to be converted don’t have a fair conception of it?

  118. NuMad says

    ॐ,

    If they care about character. I don’t.

    Well, that you care about character or not isn’t relevant to how character is defined in the first place (I think it should even go the other way around;) and I was objecting to the way you were defining it just then. I think it’s safe to say that people in general care.

    Cipher,

    You’re just going to assert that you know more about SG’s wish than he does?
    That seems unwise.

    No, I thought I was implying that I trust my guesses about his motives more than I trust his characterization of them.

    What was unwise of me was letting myself be drawn into bullshit, when what I wanted to say in the first place wasn’t really substansive enough to warrant discussion. I should have told myself “you know, I didn’t really articulate my offense at this really effectively, and I’d best just drop it.”

    Or maybe I just censor myself too much on here, which is a little odd.

    This is true. In this case, both character and behavior are available to be assessed (although you probably can’t really get much out of just one behavior in terms of assessing character, for various reasons). But what’s the point of assessing their character? Does the first case matter by itself?

    The first case? I’m not sure I know what this is a reference to.

    Anyway, I don’t get the apparent puzzlement over “character” as I used it. You ask “what’s the point of assessing it?” Here I was thinking it was the basic currency of human interaction. I know “character” is just this shit colloquial word (like “wish”,) but people have opinions about how other people tick.

    Anyway, character assessments about Bruggencate and Hovind: I have some.

    Azkyroth,

    This is the third time I’ve heard of anyone else having a problem with his behavior[…]

    I have a generalized issue with it too, for what it’s worth (which I figure is not much.)

  119. Louis says

    I don’t care who said what to who, who likes who, who hates who, who derailed what or even what the derail is.

    Well….much.

    I do care that people use mental illness/handicaps* as insults.

    It’s not cricket.

    I do it. I fuck up. I make mistakes even though I know I should not. I know what I am doing and I know I am wrong. Is that really such a hard thing to admit?

    If you describe someone as “psychotic” it is using a technical term with a well defined meaning. You might as well be describing them as “electrophilic”, except for the general irrelevance of chemistry terms to psychology! It’s a term with clear implications, and the only difference, relevance aside, between misusing “psychotic” and “electrophilic” is familiarity. We feel entitled to bandy about psychological terms because we feel so much more familiar with them than (on average) we do with (for example) chemical terms.

    This really does matter, and it’s important not to have a tin ear on the subject. Mental illness** suffers from woeful misunderstanding, even within the medical profession. It also suffers from a huge amount of stigma. This is not news I know. We have plenty of insults available to us, and we’re all more than bright enough to find them. We’re even typing, something that has a delete function available, unlike speech. We can simply not do this.

    Kids get called “nutter” in playgrounds, or “spastic” or “retard”, not “cancer sufferer” or “cold haver”. They also get called “gay” or “Aids boy” or “welfare” or “bitch” or “paki” for different variations on an identical theme: partly the desire to associate the abused with an undesired sub-population.

    As I said, I fuck this up all the time, this screed is not that of an angel, but of a flawed human being. But I think we flawed human beings can recognise our flaws, and try not to repeat every instance of them all the time, or defend them as if they were universal virtues.

    Louis

    * Include all usual niceties and caveats as read please.

    ** Or, given the recent posts by SC and others, whatever people want to call it. I’m going to continue using “mental illness” for the sake of argument just because it’s simpler. If every discussion is derailed by extensive deconstruction of this term we end up talking about nothing but the deconstruction. Which I think is fascinating, useful in the right context, but also potentially harmful in the wrong context.

  120. Louis says

    Oh and:

    1) Hovind and Bruggencate? Wankers. Not the good kind. This is NEWS? ;-)

    2) I now return you to your regularly scheduled on topic derail.

    Louis

  121. KG says

    If it can have experiences then it’s a person. – LILAPWL

    Really? If (say) frogs or wasps have experiences, you count them as people? I don’t think you get to redefine words for your own convenience to that extent.

  122. Lars says

    It’s almost interesting how the old news of the fraudulence of these two creationist nidings are uninteresting enough for the comments in this thread to be almost entirely about an unrelated topic.

    But only, as I said; almost.

  123. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    Ichthyic, again, the usual reply about sexism applies here too: when people stop doing it, other people will stop objecting to it.

    +++++
    NuMad,

    Well, that you care about character or not isn’t relevant to how character is defined in the first place (I think it should even go the other way around;)

    Of course whether I care about character or not isn’t relevant to how character is defined in the first place. But this discussion of “what is character” has arisen because you claimed that I was “wishing for a scrutinization of Azkyroth’s character,” which is not true, because I don’t care about it.

    and I was objecting to the way you were defining it just then.

    You said: “In the latter case, the people who hear them express their disappointment would conclude something about their character, as well. The context of a scientific test is pretty unrepresentative as an example, since exceptionally the consideration of “character” is disconnected from behavior.”

    But since I don’t believe that this kind of “character” exists — since it is essentialist hogwash, the Fundamental Attribution Error writ large — I’m not wishing for any scrutinization of anyone’s non-existent character.

    A scrutinization of the absurd incoherence of the very concept of character as such, that’s great, but I also wasn’t “wishing” for it. I’m surprised at it.

    I think it’s safe to say that people in general care.

    Yeah, people in general believe in souls and plenty of other dualist illusions.

    No, I thought I was implying that I trust my guesses about his motives more than I trust his characterization of them.

    This conversation would go a lot easier if you’d just assert that I’m lying rather than insisting that I must believe in your definitions and that I must implicitly be using them.

    What was unwise of me was letting myself be drawn into bullshit

    Here’s what tripped you up:

    “Anyway, I don’t want to cause a scrutinization of anyone’s character. I’m a consequentialist. I want Azkyroth’s behavior scrutinized, and I want my behavior scrutinized. I don’t give a hoot about anyone’s character or intentions; only consequences are relevant.”

    I was perfectly clear about that. And if you had specified then that as far as you are concerned, there is no distinction between character and behavior, then you would have been perfectly clear in your disagreement, and we both could have already walked away from this thinking “what a silly definition.”

    Don’t blame me for your attempt to bait me.

    I have a generalized issue with it too, for what it’s worth (which I figure is not much.)

    That’s right. What you’re effectively asking of me is that I stop objecting to ableist insults — unless I focus only on ableist insults about autism, I guess, which would apparently be fine.

    I’m not going to do that.

  124. bigbear says

    ॐ:

    I’m a consequentialist.

    Delurking. I’ve been following your views here somewhat and I am just curious: could you qualify that a little? Consequentialism is a broad category. What kind of a consequentialist are you specifically?

    I’m not entitled to an answer, but would be glad if I got one.

    Thanks.

  125. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    Utilitarian. But “happiness” as currently construed, that one intensely positive emotion (as distinguished from others like exhilaration), doesn’t capture all of what constitutes utility. It should be understood more broadly as inclusive of all the positively-valenced affects. So “being interested”, as when getting sucked in to a book, is also utility.

  126. bigbear says

    Hmmm. Okay. I was guessing you’d say rule consequentialism or some such with a fair bit of consideration for deontological ethics.

  127. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    I think it’d be neat if I could, but the reason I don’t is that I share this kind of thinking.

    A descriptive approach to utilitarianism allows what is either an end-run around is/ought problems, or the real resolution to those problems; I don’t know or much care which. But it goes like this — if we ask why should people prefer positively-valenced affect(s), it’s something like asking why water should be wet. We prefer them because they’re positively-valenced. Not only do we do it automatically, it’s not clear what else preference could even mean. Likewise if we ask why is it better if there’s more utility in the world, it’s trivial; more good is better, that’s just what people mean by better.

  128. bigbear says

    In # 158 above I obviously meant guessedhoped.

    ॐ :

    Yes I see why utilitarianism would be appealing if you want to formulate an uh, how shall I put it? An Activist ethics? Or IOW, as a basis for acting ethically? Forgive my inarticulateness here, but I hope you catch my drift.

    Even setting aside concerns about how practical or how satisfying emotionally a strict utilitarianism would be, when it comes to evaluating ethical statuses of actions and actors, utilitarianism seems to fail our intuition in some ways, esp. vis-a-vis intention.

    Of course you could say say “so what?” and all that ties in neatly with an absence of free will in actors, so why bother judging them anyway.

    I know you disregard the notion that intentions have any relevance, but it sometimes feels, a better moral system would not have this limitation. Maybe rule consequentialism, I dunno.

  129. bigbear says

    I know this is waaay off-topic and ethical theory and free-will threads have been done to death and kingdom come, here and elsewhere. I just had to scratch this itch, sorry.

  130. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    Yes I see why utilitarianism would be appealing if you want to formulate an uh, how shall I put it? An Activist ethics? Or IOW, as a basis for acting ethically? Forgive my inarticulateness here, but I hope you catch my drift.

    Sure, but deontology works just as well for that. It just involves a bit of finagling why people have such-and-such a “right”, which should then be respected by others. Tom Regan does a very impressive job of this.

    My reason for not going with anything deontological is that I can see the total made-up-edness of such projects and the apparent impossibility — since so many great thinkers now have tried and failed, I don’t imagine I can do better — of building any logical foundation for them.

    Even setting aside concerns about how practical or how satisfying emotionally a strict utilitarianism would be, when it comes to evaluating ethical statuses of actions and actors, utilitarianism seems to fail our intuition in some ways, esp. vis-a-vis intention.

    That’s true, but our intuitions about intention are just plain wrong — google the Knobe effect — probably because they evolved as heuristics that kept us alive at the expense of accuracy.

    Probably the reason we care about intentions is because doing so helps us predict future outcomes. So we want to punish someone more harshly if they deliberated and knowingly hurt someone, rather than if they did so accidentally, because the person who acted deliberately may act predictably in that way in the future.

    That only explains why we have these intuitions, though. It doesn’t follow that it’s actually more wrong to cause the same amount of pain deliberately or accidentally.

    Of course you could say say “so what?” and all that ties in neatly with an absence of free will in actors, so why bother judging them anyway.

    I could give reasons to bother punishing people even when everyone agrees they did not act with malice, forethought, free will, or anything else that current justice systems tend to care about. (For instance, I said we should punish Gelato Guy even though I was convinced that his apology was sincere.)

    Punishment needn’t be coupled with the illusion that the person could have chosen to act otherwise. I do expect we would be more humane if we kept in mind the total lack of free will when we punish, though, because at least we’d be thinking realistically about what we’re trying to accomplish and why.

    I know you disregard the notion that intentions have any relevance, but it sometimes feels, a better moral system would not have this limitation. Maybe rule consequentialism, I dunno.

    A coherent rule consequentialism won’t offer anything to say about intention either though. In any deontology, what matters is whether certain rules of action were followed, not why they were followed. The racist who refrains from committing a hate crime because of fear of imprisonment is obeying the same rules as the anti-racist who has no desire to commit a hate crime.

  131. Walton says

    I could give reasons to bother punishing people even when everyone agrees they did not act with malice, forethought, free will, or anything else that current justice systems tend to care about. (For instance, I said we should punish Gelato Guy even though I was convinced that his apology was sincere.)

    Punishment needn’t be coupled with the illusion that the person could have chosen to act otherwise. I do expect we would be more humane if we kept in mind the total lack of free will when we punish, though, because at least we’d be thinking realistically about what we’re trying to accomplish and why.

    This is true, but it’s an argument I have difficulty with. It’s obviously true that punishment serves practical social functions: it acts as both an individual and a general deterrent, conditioning people to act in particular ways, and thus enforcing respect for social rules. To accept this, it is not necessary to believe in free will or in moral desert. The basic concept is the same as that of conditioning lab rats to run a particular way through a maze by giving them electric shocks; it doesn’t mean that the rats have “free will” or that they “deserve” to be punished for running the wrong way. It’s just a means of controlling their behaviour by conditioning.

    But the problem is that, having accepted that there is no free will, holding people accountable for their actions and punishing them feels fundamentally unjust – because it feels unfair to make someone suffer for something they could not have chosen otherwise than to do. If we accept that there is no free will and yet continue to punish, we have to accept that we are deliberately making people suffer for things that are not their fault; we are thus intentionally sacrificing fairness to the individual in order to serve a broader social goal. I chose the lab rat analogy advisedly, because it is just as dehumanizing as it sounds; people are punished not because they “deserve” it, but because we, as a society, want to control them for our own ends.

    You, as a utilitarian, must be comfortable with that, because utilitarianism, by its nature, sometimes demands the sacrifice of the individual for the greater good. But I’m not comfortable with it, because I have a problem with the sacrifice of the individual. I don’t want to be sacrificed for the greater good, and fairness and empathy dictate that I cannot impose on anyone else something I would not accept for myself.

    This isn’t an answer to anything, and I don’t have a well-thought-out alternative moral philosophy. I abhor violence, and I strive for a society which is as non-violent as possible. That’s probably the only overriding moral conviction I have any more, having abandoned any attempt to come up with an ethical theory which withstands scrutiny.

  132. bigbear says

    ॐ :

    Sure, but deontology works just as well for that.

    No it wouldn’t, precisely because,

    My reason for not going with anything deontological is that I can see the total made-up-edness of such projects and the apparent impossibility — since so many great thinkers now have tried and failed, I don’t imagine I can do better — of building any logical foundation for them.

    I was trying to imply that when I said I understood its appeal. That consequentialism is, like you said, almost tautological as a foundational system for ethical action, since it is more rigorous and robust and empirico-rational than deontological or other systems. Though I admit I didn’t explicitly elaborate this, and left it as an unsaid assumption that only systems of thought that passed muster in this way are what I had in mind when I said “appealing”.

    I have to read around a little more about the Knobe effect and evolution-of-intentions-as-heuristics hypothesis before I can say anything intelligent about them.

    Anyway,

    That only explains why we have these intuitions, though. It doesn’t follow that it’s actually more wrong to cause the same amount of pain deliberately or accidentally.

    This is what vexes me about utilitarian evaluations. Sure, far as consequences are concerned, it makes not a smidgen of difference. But if “punishments” are going to be utilitarian in character, you would need to do almost virtually impossible ethical computations, in many cases if not all, while meting it out to actors who can not be innocent, due to their lack of intentionality. How fair would that be to the actor, even if it meant a world of good? How do you make that choice?

    I am probably rehashing the same point, and you’d be perfectly in your right to “so what? thats how it is and if everyone saw that, they’d get with it and these vexations would fade away” me.

    But I’m not so confident in our ability to run these sorts of ethical calculuses to rank utilitarianism above other systems, which are more sympathetic to these concerns and which do not require us to make impossible evaluations.

    A coherent rule consequentialism won’t offer anything to say about intention either though. In any deontology, what matters is whether certain rules of action were followed, not why they were followed.

    No, not if rules are set up based not only on consequential considerations but also encompass justice and fairness. In fact this is what sets rule consequentialism apart from other utilitarianisms.

    And if its demonstrated that there are serious flaws in rule consequentialism, well there’s always pragmatic ethics.*shrugs*
    We don’t have to be beholden to ethical systems that don’t pan out in the real world or systems that cause serious infractions on our moral intuitions which can’t be redressed by rational analyses.

  133. bigbear says

    ॐ :

    Oops. Didn’t see you’ve rightly moved this to TZT. I’ve crossposted this response there.