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  1. says

    on a different topic:
    Americans who had a shitty secondary education and never went to college, and consequently had to self-educate to become knowledgeable, sometimes have the most surprising knowledge gaps. My boyfriend is an otherwise very well-rounded, knowledgeable person, but until 15 minutes ago, he didn’t know that ERA was never ratified. huh.

  2. says

    one of these days I might stop using German punctuation rules for English. But not separating out subordinate clauses with commas looks wrong :-p

  3. The Mellow Monkey says

    Jadehawk, I have the exact same problem. English just looks like it desperately needs those German commas, damnit.

  4. says

    English just looks like it desperately needs those German commas, damnit.

    true that. Sometimes when I read “properly” punctuated English sentences, I have to put them in in my mind for the sentence to make sense, because otherwise I get confused (esp. since verbs and adjectives often look the same in English)

  5. chigau (違う) says

    Use, as, many, commas, as, you, like.
    I have spent two weeks reading archaeological reports.
    Those people treat punctuation as random events.

  6. Esteleth, Ficus Putsch Knits says

    On the topic of Europeans knowing more about American history than Americans:

    Not long ago, I decided to look into the history of the May 1 labor celebrations. Y’know, thing that every country on earth except the US seems to observe.

    I discovered that International Worker’s Day commemorates the May 4, 1886 Haymarket affair.

    Y’know, the riot/massacre that took place in Chicago, Illinois.

  7. Esteleth, Ficus Putsch Knits says

    Jadehawk, I pondered deeply, and could not remember if I learned about Haymarket in school. Since I remember my American history jumping from “the Wobblies were terrorists” to “The Communist Manifesto to “the Bolsheviks as led by Nikolai Lenin [sic] killed the Emperor of Russia and his crippled kid,” I’m gonna bet that this was left out.

    And yes, my history teacher insisted that Lenin’s first name was Nikolai. And yes, referred to Alexei as “crippled.”

  8. Esteleth, Ficus Putsch Knits says

    Also, it says something that I, a reasonably educated junior in college, had only this as a definition of “Haymarket” when I learned about the massacre.

    In my defense, the Haymarket has really good pastries.

    But that is a pretty crappy defense.

  9. says

    And yes, my history teacher insisted that Lenin’s first name was Nikolai.

    O.o

    Mind you, my highschool history education was only ok, too. “World” history was mostly “these European countries conquered these non-European countries; also, WWI and WWII”. Still, that’s pretty screwy.

  10. Taylor says

    What’s the point of the AWB? Nobody seems to think that it will stop mass shootings or homicides, why is it so important?

  11. Esteleth, Ficus Putsch Knits says

    ‘Course, this is the same history teacher who, instead of lecturing, would sit on the edge of his desk and reminisce (in strikingly blunt language) about his days in ‘Nam, when he would go “charlie huntin’” and opine as to the relative merits of Glocks and Berettas (specifically as to their ability to kill skunks).

  12. John Morales says

    Taylor, the Australian Wheat Board was sold off to a Canadian company years ago, and it never had much of a mandate to stop mass shootings or homicides.

    (Of course, if you are referring to some proposed automatic weapons ban, then something is better than nothing, and it’s detractors recognise if for a camel’s nose)

  13. Janine: Hallucinating Liar says

    I discovered that International Worker’s Day commemorates the May 4, 1886 Haymarket affair.

    I knew this. But I have been known to visit the monument of the Haymarket Martyrs. And Emma Goldman is buried just a few yards from them.

    A side note, the American Bar Association knows May Day as Law Day.

  14. strange gods before me ॐ says

    Jadehawk, I vote that the commas in your first comment are fine. The only one I might drop would be after ago, as it’s the most optional.

  15. Esteleth, Ficus Putsch Knits says

    Nobody seems to think that it will stop mass shootings or homicides

    Actually, they do.

    Here’s how it works:
    Bobby Criminal wants to shoot up the local mall. He does not have an assault rifle. He needs one in order to do what he wants to do. Where can he get one?
    (1) a local gun store
    (2) the black market
    (3) theft

    Let’s start with (1). The AWB would eliminate this as a possibility. Okay.
    (3) presumes that someone in the area around Bobby Criminal has an assault rifle. If they are banned (due to the AWB), then Bobby Criminal’s law-abiding neighbor Joe Responsible Gun Owner doesn’t have one for Bobby Criminal to steal.

    Which leaves the black market. How does stuff get on the black market? Either (1) it is funneled there straight from the manufacturer, (2) it is stolen and resold, or (3) it is bought legally by a middleman, then resold. The AWB, by eliminating the pool of legally-owned assault rifles, shrinks the pool of steal-able weapons, and eliminates the possibility of a middleman.

    So: Bobby Criminal cannot buy one legally, and Joe RGO doesn’t have one for him to steal. Bobby Criminal thus has two options:
    (1) Try to find one on the black market, or
    (2) Not have an assault rifle.

  16. John Morales says

    “Americans who had a shitty secondary education and never went to college, and consequently had to self-educate to become knowledgeable, sometimes have the most surprising knowledge gaps.”

    vs.

    Americans who had a shitty secondary education and never went to college and consequently had to self-educate to become knowledgeable sometimes have the most surprising knowledge gaps.

    Both sentences parse the same to me; I find no ambiguity has been removed by the commas.

    (I too generally overuse commas)

  17. says

    I find no ambiguity has been removed by the commas.

    In this case, it wasn’t about ambiguity, but about readability. Apparently I need speedbumps in my text to understand what the fuck I’m reading, because I find comma-free or comma-sparse sentences hard to read for comprehension :-p

  18. Esteleth, Ficus Putsch Knits says

    For what it is worth, while “shitty secondary education” applies to me, “never went to college” does not.

  19. strange gods before me ॐ says

    StevoR,

    That logic fails how exactly? Were I really genuinely racist why would I be a fan of any melanin-enriched non-Caucasian folks? Doesn’t the fact that I *do* admire and respect many people of “races” (a concept I don’t even believe in or consider valid) disprove the idea that I’m somehow bigoted against people based on their skin colour or inherited traits? What possible logic would say otherwise?

    A white nationalist at Stormfront says,

    “I myself greatly respect MLK Jr.for the things he fought for (despite blacks today forget how it was 50 years ago, and piss all over what MLK Fought for)… it took a lot of balls to do what he did. he stood up for what he believed was right, and thats why he is one of my heroes”

    So there you have it: a white nationalist,

    at Stormfront,

    the site with the logo reading “WHITE PRIDE WORLD WIDE”,

    is also a fan of one of your favorite black people.

    Whatever’s wrong with using ‘melanin-enriched’ as a new technically accurate and positive term btw?

    This was already explained to you, throughout a previous thread. You should read all the replies to you.

    I will remind you of two. 1) It is not a term chosen or preferred by the people you’re referring to. 2) Partly out of exasperation and perhaps in an attempt to get through to you, a guy with more melanin than you is already mocking you for your presumptuousness.

  20. strange gods before me ॐ says

    StevoR,

    Therefore as someone who strongly disagrees with the notion that there is even such a thing as “race” in terms of actual human sub-species or varieties I cannot be racist.

    Read the following quotes and tell me who you agree with.

    Ian Cromwell agrees with the quote:

    «The fact that race is socially constructed does not mean it is not real. It means that it is not reducible to biological traits. Race is a very real idea and has real, tangible implications on peoples’ lives.»

    Ian Cromwell says himself:

    «that is NOT AT ALL the same thing as saying “race doesn’t exist” or “race isn’t real”. It’s REAL, it’s just not biological.»

    DMHCO at Stormfront says:

    «To be a racist, one has to hate another person only because of their race (or their race has to be a big contributing factor in their hate).

    If “race is just a social construct”, “there is no such thing as race”, “race is only skin color”, and/or “there is only one race, the human race” there cannot be racism as race doesn’t exist.

    So which is it?
    Either race exists and we’re “racists” or race doesn’t exist and we’re not “racists”.»

    +++++
    StevoR, in advance of asking these questions again, I refer you to this reply and this reply.

    Are the African-Americans meaning to say by terming themselves that that they hold African values or are of African culture – because Africa is a whole great continent with a range of different cultures from Libyan and Moroccan at the Northern end through to South African at the southern tip. Which African culture and what African elements are they meant to be identifying with – the ones of their long vanished distant tribal ancestors and Arab Slavers who sold them into slavery? The modern African cultures with dictatorships and tribal warfare like that most horribly displayed in Rwanada in the Hutu-Tutsi genocides? Why? Are they not now fully melded into the melting pot that is American culture?

    Yes, I know there was the whole sorry episode of civil wars, segregation and so on, I know the’re’s been past extrme racism and suffering. I’m not meaning to deny or minimise that – but that is all long over. Martin Luther King had a dream that all people be treated equally. Nowadays in US culture being black-skinned is if anything an advantage or so I gather. They get the benefits of “affirmative action” and they and their sub-cultures are celebrated in many different ways.There’s hardly any racism left – otherwise the ACLU would have better things to do than carry on about Hallmark cards that mentioned “black holes” like somehow *that* was racist?

    Would Obama have been elected if he had been a purely white-skinned man rather than a bi-racial one who is generally but dubiously considered – and applauded for being – “black”, I wonder?

    Were you a racist when you said that? Was it a racist comment?

  21. strange gods before me ॐ says

    Jadehawk,

    I don’t know the fancy words for grammar; I was only taught how to do, not what to call it. I had to look up “subordinate clause”. All I know is the state taught me to use those commas, so it’s acceptable English.

  22. says

    SG, are you quoting a recent comment by StevoR?
    because the following juxtaposition is breaking my brain:

    I know there was the whole sorry episode of civil wars, segregation and so on

    that is all long over.

    Nowadays in US culture being black-skinned is if anything an advantage

    There’s hardly any racism left

    vs.

    I’m not meaning to deny or minimise that

    Also, the day I see the ACLU of all things complaining about (supposedly) racist speech, I’ll eat a broom.

  23. strange gods before me ॐ says

    Jadehawk,

    Monday will be the two year anniversary of that particular comment.

    Also, the day I see the ACLU of all things complaining about (supposedly) racist speech, I’ll eat a broom.

    But then how will we feed our livestock?

    Yeah, the stuff the ACLU actually involves themselves in is tiny compared with right-wingers’ storytelling about them.

  24. John Morales says

    Actually, in #812 of the previous thread StevoR wrote: I’ve admitted some things I said in the distant past were wrong and I now regret saying them – not that they were actually racist.

    I take that as an implicit “no” to ॐ’s repeated inquiry as to whether StevoR considered those comments to be racist; that is, I take it to mean that he denies those comments he wrote were racist.

    (He’s just too pusillanimous to actually come out and say it straightforwardly)

  25. says

    If the barrel were upright, a bunghole at a certain height would also stop the water level rising too far – but I think there would have been a greater likelihood of Diogenes having been woken by the rain and done something about it, like finding a lid or cover, or tipping the barrel on its side like the Waterhouse painting.

  26. chigau (違う) says

    Well, that was fun.
    Now I’m for bed.
    Tomorrow evening, I will go to listen to a children’s choir.

  27. Tethys says

    Note that the barrel is not made of wood, popular depictions aside.

    :D I had the exact same thought, and then asked google where wooden barrels were invented.

    The painting in the link shows a large, ceramic, coil style pot , turned on its side. (in case you can’t click it)

  28. says

    @ Tethys

    I was thinking more of the cost. Even if he could build such a newfangled thing. (It would require expensive wood and employing those evil blacksmiths, who are league with demons.)

    {theophontes tries to think of a witty reposte to John Morales. Concerning wit. Thinks better of it, and exits stage left.}

  29. Owlmirror says

    Re: Strine (from previous thread)
      “Do not attempt to use Australian slang, unless you are a trained linguist and good in a fistfight.” — Jeremy Lee, aka Orinoco

  30. testostyrannical says

    The thing Diogenes is reputed to rest in is not technically a “barrel,” but a large clay jar. The picture does it justice. Not sure why the popular term for it is barrel-maybe that seems more hobo appropriate than vase.

  31. ChasCPeterson says

    A barrel? A barrel?
    We would have loved a bleeding barrel!
    We lived in a cardboard box–12 of us, and some dogs–in ther middle of the road!
    etc.

  32. joey says

    I don’t have the time right now (I almost never do) to reply to every response, so for now I’ll pick and choose…

    ———————
    LykeX:

    I believe there is such a thing as intrinsic worth of human beings, and that you don’t need other people to value another human being for that human being to possess value.

    To who? Value to who? Presumably they have value to themselves, but besides that, you very much do need me to value someone for them to have value to me.

    You simply cannot talk about value without a reference to who gives value. It simply makes no sense. There’s no such thing as “value”. The term, in isolation, is simply meaningless. When you ask about right and wrong “in and of itself”, it’s like asking about up and down without reference to gravity. It makes no sense. It explicitly contradicts the actual meaning of the words.

    I already claimed the existence of an absolute morality based on the real existence of human dignity. So “value” is referenced to this absolute standard that exists. Exactly what this absolute standard is and where it can come from are worthy discussions. But at least when I speak of value it is not reference-less.

    Otherwise a Jew among ten genocidal Nazis ultimately has no real worth, other than what the Jew values himself/herself.

    That IS real worth. What other kind is there? Worth isn’t a fucking majority decision. If something has worth to me, then it has worth to me, regardless of what anybody else thinks; just like in every other case.

    If worth is only subjective, then worth is ultimately a “majority decision” as viewed through the lens of society, at least in a democratic one. Intrinsic worth means that society cannot take away what is already there.

    Even if, for the sake of argument, we accept that there’s some objective value to human life, separate from our feelings and thoughts about it, what practical difference does it make? Since people are apparently perfectly free to ignore this objective value and routinely act instead from their own subjective point of view, how will this change anything?

    First of all, it has already been pointed out by sgbm that intrinisic does not exactly equate to objective.

    Secondly, what changes is precisely how things are considered. Instead of an action being only considered wrong for you or wrong for me or wrong for him/her, an action can be considered simply as wrong…full stop.

    Rape is wrong, not because I consider it wrong or the victim considers it wrong or someone else considers it wrong, but because it is intrinsically wrong. Rape is wrong in and of itself. I can make such an assertion because of my belief in the intrinsic value of human beings. For those that don’t believe in intrinsic worth, then the most they can claim is that rape is wrong “because some person(s) feels that it’s wrong”.

    There is a fundamental difference between saying X is wrong and X is wrong according to so and so. And I disagree that is doesn’t make a practical difference. I think viewing morality as something entirely subjective is very dangerous. As long as I don’t consider an action wrong, then what’s the big deal?

    —————————-
    Amphiox:

    Also, the way you so glibly dismiss the value that the Jew gives to himself/herself, such dismissal without which your entire argument falls completely apart, is appalling.

    Explain to me how my argument falls apart? The Jew is simply outnumbered in this miniature society consisting of these eleven people. Why exactly should the Jew’s subjective thoughts of his own self-worth trump the ten’s subjective thoughts of the Jew’s lack of worth?

    And didn’t you say here that…

    Human dignity is a GIFT that society gives to individuals.

    Doesn’t this society of eleven people choose not to “gift” the Jew human dignity?

    And telling.

    Lol. Please explain to me why this is “telling”.

    ———————————
    strange gods:

    So at the very least, there is one type of intrinsic value: the valuing of the self by the self.

    The problem with this notion of intrinsic value is that some people are simply incapable of valuing themselves, or are at least not sentient/self-aware enough to do so. Infants and some of the mentally disabled come to mind.

    Also, some people have been so brainwashed by society/community/government to feel that they don’t have any self worth, but rather the only value they possess is precisely how they are valued through their society/community/government. Citizens of communistic totalitarian regimes come to mind.

  33. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I already claimed the existence of an absolute morality based on the real existence of human dignity.

    Fuckwitted Joey, absolutes don’t exist. Except in the minds of preachers and other godbots. Meaningless drivel. After this, you have no rational argument. Just worthless presuppositions, and therefore nothing cogent to say.

  34. says

    @ Chas

    You were lucky!
    I had to get up in the morning at ten o’clock at night half an hour before I went to bed, drink a cup of sulphuric acid, work twenty-nine hours a day down mill, and pay mill owner for permission to come to work, and when we got home, our Dad and our mother would kill us and dance about on our graves singing Hallelujah.

    /Yorkshire accent.

  35. says

    @ joey

    I already claimed the existence of an absolute morality based on the real existence of human dignity. So “value” is referenced to this absolute standard that exists.

    {theophontes cringes at presupositional apologetics bullshit}



    Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu!

  36. says

    @ joey

    absolute morality

    I shall repost this here: Moral behavior in animals.

    Do yourself a favour and watch this.

    Then answer: Is there an “absolute morality” for animals other than the human animal? Is there a presupposionalist argument for each (very different) type of animal in turn? You don’t think these social animals have resolved this issue by themselves in the absence of monkey gods, and elephant gods and the like?

  37. says

    For those that have stopped following lee coye’s brilliant performance art as a dribbling sphincter, he has finally revealed why he brought lynching into the conversation. It’s depressing how far some people are willing to stoop to try and make a point.

  38. UnknownEric is just a spudboy, looking for a quantum tomato. says

    For what it is worth, while “shitty secondary education” applies to me, “never went to college” does not.

    In my case, it’s a shitty secondary education and a mostly shitty college education (with the exception of Dr. Jane Fisher, who shaped who I am today more than any other educator I had).

    a bunghole at a certain height

    Snicker snicker snicker…

  39. strange gods before me ॐ says

    joey,

    The problem with this notion of intrinsic value is that some people are simply incapable of valuing themselves, or are at least not sentient/self-aware enough to do so. Infants and some of the mentally disabled come to mind.

    You appear to be making the mistake of imagining that for animals to have any kind of mind, they must be capable of something like language, even if only internally expressed. You imagine that in order to value something about themselves, they must be able to have thoughts which resemble “I am me and I value myself.” But you are wrong.

    A value is a preference. To self-value is to have preferences (feeling differentials) about the self. If an animal experiences relatively positively the sensation of having a full stomach, or of being gently touched, or of being warm, then the animal is valuing these ways of the self being; that is self-valuing.

    Also, some people have been so brainwashed [...] to feel that they don’t have any self worth

    Already addressed; it’s unfortunate that you overlooked this:

    “I would add that the values consciously available to the narrative self, like everything else consciously available to the narrative self, are only a small minority of all the values actually existing within the whole self. So even if your narrative self-valuing is low and another person’s is high, your total self-valuing is likely to be very close to the other person’s total self-valuing.”

    As usual, Antonio Damasio is recommended here if you’re having trouble thinking about subconsciousness.

  40. wonderboy says

    We now interrupt this thread for some wonderboy therapy.

    I just got censored by my local paper for using these words:

    “Your governor is a tea bagger.” – GOD

    “I should have made the penis bigger.” – GOD

    “Have you seen what the Mormons did with that verse? Sheesh. Now folks like Mitt Romney think they will be a god and rule over their own planet when they die. How crazy is that?” – GOD

    (Trust me, they are much more witty with context but apparently too outrageous for the local paper.)

    TEABAGGER, PENIS, ROMNEY AND MORMONISM ARE BOTH IRRATIONAL,TEABAGGER, PENIS, ROMNEY AND MORMONISM ARE BOTH IRRATIONAL!!!!

    ahhhh.

    Thanks Prof. M!!!!

  41. says

    Rape is wrong, not because I consider it wrong or the victim considers it wrong or someone else considers it wrong, but because it is intrinsically wrong. Rape is wrong in and of itself. I can make such an assertion because of my belief in the intrinsic value of human beings. For those that don’t believe in intrinsic worth, then the most they can claim is that rape is wrong “because some person(s) feels that it’s wrong”.

    No. Rape is wrong not because it’s wrong; this doesn’t make any sense. Rape is wrong because, in the act, the rapist takes away or disregards the agency of the victim. It’s a violation of the victim’s body, and it causes damage. There are many reasons rape and other acts of violence are wrong, but “cuz it just is” is insufficient.

  42. Janine: Hallucinating Liar says

    Rape is wrong, not because I consider it wrong or the victim considers it wrong or someone else considers it wrong, but because it is intrinsically wrong. Rape is wrong in and of itself. I can make such an assertion because of my belief in the intrinsic value of human beings. For those that don’t believe in intrinsic worth, then the most they can claim is that rape is wrong “because some person(s) feels that it’s wrong”.

    So, rape is wrong because the way you view your deity lets you think your deity disapproves. HOW FUCKING ARBITRARY IS THAT?

    I say rape is wrong because one’s autonomy and body has been violated. And I base this on my belief that all people have equal worth. Not because “some person(s) feel that it’s wrong”.

    And still poisoning the well, still putting yourself up as being of so fucking more ethical than the atheistic rabble you deem to converse with. Still in the running for the vile person award.

  43. consciousness razor says

    Plural you is an inferior word, lending itself to unnecessary ambiguities.

    They’re unnecessary, but that’s because you can say things like “all of you,” “both of you,” “the three of you” or “some of you,” which are less ambiguous than “y’all.” I would interpret it literally as “you all,” but sometimes that’s not what people mean by it, as jadehawk’s mention of “all y’all” indicates.

    ———

    I wonder how Diogenes slept in a barrel without drowning when it rained.

    Call me cynical, but I bet he had an extravagant palace hidden somewhere outside of town.

    ———

    Rape is wrong, not because I consider it wrong or the victim considers it wrong or someone else considers it wrong, but because it is intrinsically wrong.

    What do you mean by the word “wrong”? Apparently, it’s not something like having a negative effect on something which is capable of suffering because of it. Does it relate the wrong thing with anything else in the world, or is “wrongness” somehow isolated from everything else?

    Explain it to me. How am I supposed to understand this “wrongness” concept you’re using, if it doesn’t have anything to do with what people or other sentient beings think or feel? We should presumably avoid doing things which are intrinsically “wrong,” but why should we act that way?

    So at the very least, there is one type of intrinsic value: the valuing of the self by the self.

    The problem with this notion of intrinsic value is that some people are simply incapable of valuing themselves, or are at least not sentient/self-aware enough to do so. Infants and some of the mentally disabled come to mind.

    If they don’t have that sort of “intrinsic value” (which is arguable, and sgbm already raised some of those issues), that does not imply they have no value at all.

    Let’s make this much more extreme and take the example of a cat. Some people like cats, some don’t. Even many who don’t like them think a cat should not be tortured. For people like us considering whether we should or shouldn’t torture cats, it makes no difference whether the cat is self-aware, whether it can value itself, or whether it’s capable of reasoning about moral decisions it would make toward us. (And you can toss in “freely willing” those decisions, if you like: doesn’t matter.) It’s an open question to what extent cats are aware or self-aware, but we can be certain the cat can’t engage in most (if not all, in a strict sense) of that kind of reasoning. Yet that doesn’t imply we shouldn’t engage in such reasoning about it, because the relevant fact (about why we shouldn’t torture a cat) is that it’s capable of suffering, not that it’s capable of acting as a moral agent toward others. If it can’t do that, then so what? It can still suffer, which is why we should act a certain way toward it. It should’ve been obvious from the start that we weren’t talking about how the cat should act if we torture it, but about how we should act. And the answer is that we shouldn’t torture it.

    However, notice that I am talking about the cat’s subjective state, which is what I think makes it wrong to the cat. Yet that doesn’t imply there is no fact of the matter about that state or that it’s impossible to know what that state is. (This is not Schrodinger’s cat.) The cat does have some particular state, so there is some fact of the matter about it, which is to say that there’s some objective answer to the question “should we fucking torture this cat or not?”

    Next question on the list: should we beat dead horses?

  44. thesandiseattle says

    @ 4:

    don’t panic! is the ad slogan for the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
    tho somebody may have said that already.
    (sorry, in hit and run mode today. just scanning thru)
    Good advice sometimes.

  45. Amphiox says

    Doesn’t this society of eleven people choose not to “gift” the Jew human dignity?

    If that “society” of eleven people were the only eleven people in existence that pitifully dishonest hypothetical you raise, no different from all the pitifully dishonest hypotheticals that you have always raised, might be relevant to ask. But if it were, YOU would not be here to ask the question at all, so it isn’t.

    The very fact that YOU raise that hypothetical and WE discuss it, proves my point. It is WE, the observers who consider the hypothetical, who create the idea of human dignity in OUR MINDS, and grant it to the hypothetical individuals in the hypothetical situation. Whether we are motivated to grant it by emotional or rational reasons does not change the fact that the value originates in our brains, and is thus not “intrinsic” in the transparently absolutist manner in which you have tried to pigeon-hole that term, to the hypothetical individual independent of our outside observation and consideration of the situation.

  46. Amphiox says

    Has anyone noticed how joey’s current hang-up on “intrinsic value” is yet another display of the same type of absolutist thinking he has consistently demonstrated in everything else he has ever chosen to try to comment about?

  47. Amphiox says

    So at the very least, there is one type of intrinsic value: the valuing of the self by the self.

    That still isn’t “intrinsic” value, at least in the sense that I have been using the word. The value was still created and granted after the fact.

  48. Janine: Hallucinating Liar says

    Damn! A sandiseattle sighting. And he is explaining a reference that, I assume, over ninety percent already got.

  49. wonderboy says

    If rape is wrong in and of itself, why does the god of the bible condone such a horrible, dehumanizing act?

    If something is wrong in and of itself, then there must be morality without god. Thus god becomes constrained to only will those things that are moral. They cannot be moral simply because he is one who wills them. God becomes superseded by a higher morality, no?

  50. ChasCPeterson says

    yeah…thanks, sandi! a lot!

    Jerry Coyne has joined the list of speakers at TAM, and it strikes me as a revealing list in both inclusion and ommision:
    link

  51. consciousness razor says

    Tony:

    The answer is obviously that the god of the Bible is intrinsically wrong in and of itself. Fractally wrong, you might say.

    That still isn’t “intrinsic” value, at least in the sense that I have been using the word. The value was still created and granted after the fact.

    After which fact? The fact that the self-evaluating person exists, or what do you mean? What other fact are we talking about?

    Would you say density is an intrinsic property of an object? If someone ‘created’ an object with a particular density, would that change whether the density’s intrinsic or extrinsic? (I just don’t know what the “fact” would be to make it analogously “granted after the fact,” but an example of that would also help.)

  52. Amphiox says

    It is also not about numbers. It is about translating mental constructs into real world practical reality. The values we construct in our minds do not mean anything in practical reality unless we act to make it so. Unless we FIGHT, if necessary, to make it so.

  53. Amphiox says

    Would you say density is an intrinsic property of an object?

    I find this question surprising, since I thought it was obvious from context that I wasn’t talking about physical properties.

    Density is in fact an intrinsic property of an object, because it exists from the instant of the object’s own existence, regardless of how it is created (can you even envision a physical object that does not possess density, and keep in mind that a density of zero is still a density?), AND because the property has real world effects (and indeed is DEFINED by those real world effects) that will exist independent of agency. Whether said object floats or sinks in water does not depend on any entity willing it so.

    In fact, density is not even a “value”, in the same sense as self-worth is.

  54. Amphiox says

    Perhaps absolutist thinking is an intrinsic quality of joey?

    In a non-absolutist, relative consideration of the meaning of the word “intrinsic”, it could be.

    Not that joey would ever grok that.

  55. consciousness razor says

    I find this question surprising, since I thought it was obvious from context that I wasn’t talking about physical properties.

    You were talking about a kind of intrinsic property, which could be a physical or non-physical property.

    In fact, density is not even a “value”, in the same sense as self-worth is.

    But it’s a property: an intrinsic one, as we seem to agree. A value is also a property, which may or may not be intrinsic and may or may not be physical.

    We evidently both think self-value is a kind of a value, but I’m asking you to explain your reasons for claiming it’s not intrinsic. Until you brought it up, I wasn’t concerned about whether it’s a physical/non-physical property, but I certainly wouldn’t say its dependence on agency implies it’s non-physical or has no real-world effects. (What’s the alternative to that? It might have fake-world effects?)

    I don’t think that implies it’s extrinsic either, because as I said before, the agency it depends on is the same thing as what’s doing the evaluation. It’s not in relation to something else. It doesn’t need to be a decision or something you really “grant” to yourself in some conscious way, so I’m not getting what the before-and-after part of your comment is about either.

  56. vaiyt says

    I already claimed the existence of an absolute morality based on the real existence of human dignity.

    Well, find human dignity out there, outside people’s minds, and show it to me. Then we talk.

  57. John Morales says

    I’d like someone who believes in “human dignity” in the vague metaphysical sense (not actual dignity, which some people exhibit and others don’t) to try to define what it is.

    (The way I’ve seen it used in ethical (morality) discussions boils down to ‘human rights’, and these exist only when someone believes they exist)

  58. Amphiox says

    You were talking about a kind of intrinsic property, which could be a physical or non-physical property.

    The kind of which I was talking about was intrinsic value, which belongs to a subset that does not include the other subset which includes physical properties such as density.

    The difference between the two subsets as I see it is this:

    One subset includes properties which have real world effects that do not require the actions of agency. As I said before, a sufficiently dense object will sink in a liquid regardless of whether or not there is an agency that wills it to sink, or not, and no agency can actually prevent it from so sinking by willing it not to.

    But the other subset to which human dignity and other such concepts belong are different. They have no real world effects, and can have no real world effects, unless there is an agency that wills it and chooses to act to make/create those effects in reality. If humans who believe that other humans should be treated as if possessing of the property of human dignity do not act to create a reality that differs from that which pre-existed without any consideration for the property of human dignity, then the property of human dignity will have no effect on reality. And that which has no actual effect on reality cannot be said to exist.

  59. Amphiox says

    We evidently both think self-value is a kind of a value, but I’m asking you to explain your reasons for claiming it’s not intrinsic.

    It is not intrinsic in the absolute sense of the word intrinsic. Since I was commenting on our resident absolutist thinker’s absolute usage of the term “intrinsic”, I was using it in that context.

    The individual’s self-value did not exist when the individual was an embryo, and ceases to exist when the individual becomes a corpse. It is therefore not inherent purely to the mere existence of the individual as an entity. It has to be granted separately by a deliberate act of agency, and cannot exist independent of that agency.

    It can be considered “intrinsic” in a more relative usage of that term, but that is not the manner in which that term was being used by the absolutist thinker whose comments were the ones that originally prompted my responses.

  60. Amphiox says

    I’d like someone who believes in “human dignity” in the vague metaphysical sense (not actual dignity, which some people exhibit and others don’t) to try to define what it is.

    (The way I’ve seen it used in ethical (morality) discussions boils down to ‘human rights’, and these exist only when someone believes they exist)

    In fact the choice of using that term is also quite problematic. A person had exhibit/possess dignity while suffering and enduring oppression. It is a passive term. Thus by using it one to some extent absolves oneself from the need to act to actually change anything. One can get away with only passive and symbolic responses.

    So one can just feel bad when observing someone else’s human “dignity” being disregarded, or one can sit back and admire an oppressed individual’s “dignity” in enduring oppression. But the term does not call upon any sort of obligation to act to end the oppression. One is released to stand by passively and feel all noble about it.

    Human “rights” of course is the opposite. Rights exist to be exercised. The term calls for action.

    It is telling that our resident troll chose the start off using the term “dignity” rather than “rights”. Very telling.

  61. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Everybody who isn’t totally brain dead knows Joey wants to include feti as those having “human dignity”. Never mind they aren’t totally human yet, and won’t be until out of the womb and breathing on their own…A concept he can’t/won’t accept, but doesn’t have scientific/medical/legal evidence to redefine on his own. Just a presupposition that his imaginary deity exists, which tells us all we need to know about how irrational he is….

  62. consciousness razor says

    It is not intrinsic in the absolute sense of the word intrinsic. Since I was commenting on our resident absolutist thinker’s absolute usage of the term “intrinsic”, I was using it in that context.

    But this is confused. Why not talk about “absolutism” if what you’re saying is actually about absolutism?

    See, joey’s not just saying things which are false (though he does a lot of that too), so that we’d be safe just saying the exact opposite of all of his claims. He’s confused and bullshitting his way through his confusion. I don’t see the point in adopting his confusing terms and bullshitting right back at him. He doesn’t understand what “metaphysical” means, for fuck’s sake, so why he’d be the go-to guy to figure out what a godless position is like (or ought to be like) on values, intrinsic properties, philosophical terms of art, etc., is completely beyond my understanding.

    People who read this conversation (unlike joey, who’s just preaching at us) could come away with some understanding of what the terms mean, what the subject is about, what their positions on it are, whether or not it makes any sense at all to talk about stuff like “intrinsic value,” and so on.

    Or we could just gainsay him by claiming, “Secular morality isn’t like Nazism. No such thing as intrinsic values either. So there. Nyah-nyah-nyah!” until we all run out of breath. That’s got fuck-all to do with the philosophical issue the conversation seems to be about, but that is something we could do.

  63. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Same applies for this one :

    http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/politics/why-julia-gillard-should-stay-20130220-2eqvz.html

    as well.

    Ostensibly on Aussie politics and the (media -driven) debate over the governing ALP leadership there’s a few good points there on feminism too.

    Like :

    We are still not used to seeing women in positions of power and, therefore, the media, opponents and public still judge women in power differently. Were Gillard to be replaced, her demise would be greeted with considerable joy by the real misogynists. I still get too many calls from journalists asking me whether the failure of one senior woman proves women can’t hack it. No one ever blames all men for the failures of those who stuff up. More is the pity. .. (snip) .. Gillard being there, however, is already putting some feminist issues on the agenda as she and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott fight for women’s votes.

  64. says

    @ Amphiox

    [dignity | human rights] Human “rights” of course is the opposite. Rights exist to be exercised.

    Reading the Declaration of Human Rights ¹, they very clearly refer to dignity as being intrinsic. It is only one of many rights that are protected. What I think they mean by “intrinsic”: “that which we shall all grant each other at birth and shall regard as inalienable and non-negotiable thereafter”. Essentially it is something that is granted, at birth, by the whole community² of humankind.

    Dignity is not really such a vague term to weild. We are pretty sure when it is being witheld. Slavery, discrimination, abuse and the like we easily recognise as depriving the victim of the dignity that is their (birth)right.

    ¹ Quoted in previous iteration of this thread: linky.
    ² In (Southern) African philosophy, Ubuntu: “It is only through other humans that we become human”. In this sense dignity is very much intrinsic. (This is the sense in which I read the refence in the South African constitution.)

  65. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    The genocidal Islamophobic bigot is posting again. Engage GreaseMonkey/Killfile….

  66. Amphiox says

    What I think they mean by “intrinsic”: “that which we shall all grant each other at birth and shall regard as inalienable and non-negotiable thereafter”. Essentially it is something that is granted, at birth, by the whole community² of humankind.

    Yes. This would be one of the “relative” (or “metaphorical”) definition of intrinsic I previously alluded to. But it is quite different, when you think about it, to the absolute view of the term that our resident absolutist thinker is trying to conflate with it. (Said absolutist definition without which none of his arguments have any meaning whatsoever).

  67. joey says

    evilisgood:

    Rape is wrong because, in the act, the rapist takes away or disregards the agency of the victim.

    True, the rapist disregards/takes away the agency of the victim. But who says this “agency” has any value at all, thus making rape wrong?

    ————————
    Janine:

    I say rape is wrong because one’s autonomy and body has been violated. And I base this on my belief that all people have equal worth.

    Please elaborate on this “equal worth” of which you speak. Do people have this worth because you and others bestow it on them, or do people have worth simply because they’ve always had it?

    ————————–
    consciousness razor:

    What do you mean by the word “wrong”? Apparently, it’s not something like having a negative effect on something which is capable of suffering because of it. Does it relate the wrong thing with anything else in the world, or is “wrongness” somehow isolated from everything else?

    “Wrong” in this sense simply means disregarding/taking away real value/worth.

    If they don’t have that sort of “intrinsic value” (which is arguable, and sgbm already raised some of those issues), that does not imply they have no value at all.

    And I’m not suggesting they wouldn’t. The question is whether we recognize in them the same dignity they have as human beings.

    Let’s make this much more extreme and take the example of a cat.

    I’m not sure what your point is regarding your cat example. A cat isn’t a human being. Although a cat isn’t a human being, that doesn’t mean it’s okay to torture a cat. But that also doesn’t mean it’s okay to treat a human being like a cat.

    ————————–
    Amphiox:

    It is telling that our resident troll chose the start off using the term “dignity” rather than “rights”. Very telling.

    Why do you think we have “rights” to begin with?

    —————————
    theophontes:

    Reading the Declaration of Human Rights ¹, they very clearly refer to dignity as being intrinsic. It is only one of many rights that are protected. What I think they mean by “intrinsic”: “that which we shall all grant each other at birth and shall regard as inalienable and non-negotiable thereafter”. Essentially it is something that is granted, at birth, by the whole community² of humankind.

    How exactly did you arrive at this opinion? And this contradicts what you thought in the earlier post. You previously said…

    In the above it is treated as intrinsic, rather than something (humanistically) ordained.

    You had it right the first time. Here is Article 1 again…

    Article 1.

    All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

    Humans are “born” with this dignity. Nowhere does it say dignity is “granted” to human beings by society.

  68. says

    @ joey

    And this contradicts what you thought in the earlier post.

    No. From the line under what you then quote :

    I am not sure that I understand what they mean.

    I indicated clearly that I was not sure what they meant. I have since had more time to go through the issue at hand. There is no place for presuppositionalist nonsense, such as yours, in such documents (they are essentially humanist after all). The conclusions I have since reached, are the one’s I currently propose. I stand corrected (by reconsideration of the facts at hand).

    We can really short circuit this entire discussion if you would only watch the video I linked to in #61. There really is no need for pressuming some imaginary sky-god.

  69. says

    Also:

    Do you understand what I wrote wrt Ubuntu? Our very humanity is defined in our relationship to other humans. It is not, in any way, defined by our relationship with an imaginary sky-god.

  70. consciousness razor says

    I’m not sure what your point is regarding your cat example.

    Are you sure what your point was? You said this:

    The problem with this notion of intrinsic value is that some people are simply incapable of valuing themselves, or are at least not sentient/self-aware enough to do so. Infants and some of the mentally disabled come to mind.

    Why would it be problematic if that notion of intrinsic value doesn’t hold for infants, or for anyone or anything in particular? If they can’t value themselves, so what? It makes no difference, for any normative claim you can think of. We can still treat infants with however much dignity, care, respect, etc., as we ought to, just like we could for cats, llamas, robots or whatever the fucking thing is.

    And if they don’t have your special bullshitty version of “intrinsic value,” which somehow manages to be both absolutist and (ostensibly) anti-fascist, while having nothing to do with intrinsicness and perhaps not even value? What happens in that case? That doesn’t change anything either. So I’m still not seeing a problem, at least when it comes to ethics. Maybe without it, the planet will stop spinning, but I haven’t checked. Is the problem simply that your concept is basically useless, because it’s not effective at atheist-bashing?

    A cat isn’t a human being. Although a cat isn’t a human being, that doesn’t mean it’s okay to torture a cat. But that also doesn’t mean it’s okay to treat a human being like a cat.

    Fascinating. Do let me know when your next ethical treatise will be published.

  71. says

    @ Sally

    Indeed. Or raised by wolves. Or by an AI robot…

    And we would not need a Declaration of Human Rights that needs to be upheld by humans (not gods, notice.)


    (Actually, being raised by robot-wolves could be pretty interesting.)

  72. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    Also, some people have been so brainwashed by society/community/government to feel that they don’t have any self worth, but rather the only value they possess is precisely how they are valued through their society/community/government. Citizens of communistic totalitarian regimes come to mind. – joey

    Many more have been so brainwashed by religion that they don’t feel they have any self worth, but rather the only value they possess is in obedience to the arbitrary dictates of an imaginary being and its supposed representatives.

  73. says

    Jerry Coyne has joined the list of speakers at TAM, and it strikes me as a revealing list in both inclusion and ommision:

    In-fucking-deed. It’s a declaration.

  74. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    As for the Declaration of Human Rights, what is important about it is the specific rights it details, such as freedom of speech, assembly and religion. These do not rely on any claims about whether people have “intrinsic” rights; rather, they form, explicitly, a specification of how “every individual and every organ of society” should behave. The declaration is, in its own words:

    a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

    The guff about “intrinsic dignity” and being “born free and equal in dignity and rights” is of no significance whatever: it would make no practical difference at all if these words were removed.

    Joey,
    Suppose you could actually articulate what it means to have “intrinsic worth”, and convince me that people do. Now suppose I say: “OK, you have intrinsic worth and rights, but I don’t give a shit about them – indeed, the fact that I’m trampling on them is going to enhance the enjoyment I derive from torturing you.” How exactly would you make use of your concept of “intrinsic worth” to persuade me that I should not do so?

  75. Janine: Hallucinating Liar says

    Joey, unlike you, I have no problem with the idea that people give each other worth. Fuck, just a brief look into history shows that most people were not even granted this thing you claim is “intrinsic”. Hell, plenty of religions (Including the one you follow) also denied dignity to outsiders and the underclass.

    I said this very simply and I will repeat this again, very simply. I wish to treat other people with dignity because other humans have the same right of survival as I think I have. Or, to put it very simply, treat other people as you wish to be treated. Call it the golden mean.

    Now, please do your normal thing and imply that perhaps I thing some people should be denied their humanity or that somehow, this sense had to be place their by someone.

    And I will end as I have been ending these thing with you.

    You are vile, joey.

  76. says

    Joey:
    You seem unable to understand that humans grant one another this value you speak of. Given that your god condones rape and slavery, we know he does not grant equal value to all humans. In fact, for all his talk, he does not highly value many humans at all. He even treated his chosen people shitty (btw, chosen people also carries the implication that anyone not chosen is inferior or of lesser value). I really do not think you are thinking things through. It is just like the discusiion about the influence of rigid gender roles in society. It is like your religious indoctrination has erected a brick wall in your brain which stops all critical thought after a certain point.

  77. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Joey, your deity is imaginary. Your babble is a book of mythology/fiction. Any argument based on those twin fallacies is fallacious by definition. Which is everything you argue. Based on twin lies. Who can’t believe what you claim is anything other than lies?

  78. chigau (違う) says

    I would like for this episode of The [Thunderdome] is All About joey to be over.
    but I can’t think of anything to talk about

  79. nightshadequeen says

    <rant>

    So this lovely video got sent to a dormlist…last night? Night before last? Where by “lovely”, I mean, definitely actually not lovely at all.

    With the comment that something similar should be [redacted's] i3 video, which is the video that MIT sends out to all pre-frosh in like May that lets is supposed to give them an idea about each dorm*.

    Someone responded with “hey guys, harassment isn’t okay, and definitely not okay for the i3 video”.

    Cue: “Why are you accusing [redacted] of being sexist?”

    …I’m increasingly getting pissed off at the people who can’t tell the difference from being “sex-positive” and “pro-harassment.”

    <\rant>

    *Whether these are accurate or not is a good question. I didn’t watch those of my year; I was at USABO, so I kind of picked dorms randomly. Now that I’ve gone back and watched them, I’d picked the dorm I currently live in, and not the dorm I lived in Freshman year.

    ….that said, this is not a double-blind test.

  80. Janine: Hallucinating Liar says

    On Twitter, someone linked to the thread that gave us the definition of Hoggling, masturbating in anger. I went through the year and a half old comments and found one by carlie. What is funny/sad is that not one word needs to be changed.

    Hm. That comment about ERV made me go over there and browse a bit just out of curiosity, and none of the posts she’s made this entire month so far has more than 45 comments except the one about Elevatorgate. It’s still going strong, and is still almost entirely people who are looking at Pharyngula posts and comments and whining about how awful PZ is and how mean and “illogical” we all are. That seems to be a bit of an unhealthy level of obsession on a group level.

  81. says

    Tony, that’s exactly how I stumbled across him. Bad form, Youtube!

    Joey,

    True, the rapist disregards/takes away the agency of the victim. But who says this “agency” has any value at all, thus making rape wrong?

    You say so. I say so. We are fortunate enough to have been born, or have escaped, into societies that say so. The reality on the ground is, if you’re not that fortunate, you may be treated as if your agency has no worth. Hell, I’ve been treated that way in this society, because my attacker didn’t share the opinion that my agency had any value.

    He was mistaken, because I value my agency. Honestly, I don’t know why I do. Maybe my parents taught me to value it, or maybe it’s cultural. It could be an evolutionary thing, a survival mechanism. I’m not smart enough to know exactly why it is. What’s clear is that someone has to value X for X to have value. Doesn’t really matter what X is. The key term is “value.” It’s a measurement placed on the importance of something, and requires the regard of conscious creatures to exist.

    And that is my rant for the day.

  82. Janine: Hallucinating Liar says

    Isn’t that so sweet. I have my first slymie as a follower. And it is Rocko2466.

  83. says

    @ Janine # 115

    [linky]

    My first impression was that it looks like Chris Clarke turning into a werewolf. (Apparently it is not nearly as interesting as that.)

    @ joey

    I’m not saying that it is impossible that John Peters Humphrey really took “intrinsic” in the sense that you mean it. But he would be wrong in doing so. (I can find no mention of him being a goddist, nor of being otherwise irrational, so think it likely that he did not.)

    Is religion überhaupt compatible with human rights to begin with?

  84. Janine: Hallucinating Liar says

    So. Who wants to dredge the pit to find slymies defending the FREEZE PEACH of The Onion?

  85. Aratina Cage says

    Twitter has just had a “cunt”-splosion. Thanks, Onion! I can’t fucking believe it. Atheists of all stripes going on and on about how horrible “being offended” is, as if offense is a sign of someone’s incapacity to reason. Lots and lots of smug “Dear Muslimas” out there right now.

  86. Janine: Hallucinating Liar says

    Don’t bother, Tony. It is more of yubal’s shit about how atrocities happen all over the world and so how dare you get critical of charities that engages in discrimination.

  87. Janine: Hallucinating Liar says

    Tony, Twitter can be both useful and entertaining if you manage it right.

    Also, you have to keep in mind that Aratina Cage is engaged in a running fued with the Slymies on Twitter. It is just that The Onion’s attempted cunt joke feeds into one of the main reasons for the existence of the pit.

  88. Aratina Cage says

    Tony, it was really weird how it happened. First, Seth McFarlane hosted the Oscars, and he kept making really flat and sexist and racist and etc. jokes all night. At the end, apparently he used Helen Hunt’s last name as an allusion to “cunt” and directed it at a nine-year-old girl who was also up for an Academy Award with Hunt. The Onion decided to go ahead and make sure everyone got it, and called the girl a “cunt” on Twitter under the #Oscar2013 tag that everyone watching the livetweeting was reading. It wasn’t funny and by then no one was listening to McFarlane so no one knew he had said that (I’m still not clear he actually did it, but that’s the story being passed around). Then you add intent isn’t magic and the fact that it’s about time a major website called a young Black girl a “cunt” on the closest thing to national broadcast television on the Internet, and the Onion really screwed up big time tonight.

    Then you get the defenders. The would-be slimepitters, basically, going on about how OK it is or how it was nothing or even using the England defense as a reason to not be upset about it. It’s the same crap reasoning we’ve been arguing about for the last two years almost nonstop.

  89. says

    Tony,

    I was hoping for a daily Evil Rant.
    Howzabout a BiDaily?

    That was a very kind thing to say, and you’ve given me warm fuzzies. No promises, but I’ll try to rant slightly more often for your entertainment.

  90. Aratina Cage says

    John, here is the first news report about it I can find: http://www.buzzfeed.com/kateaurthur/the-onion-called-quvenzhane-wallis-a-horrible-word

    Tony, much obliged. *downs it* Things seem to have calmed down now. I actually had the pleasure of arguing about it with someone who ended up accepting that it is OK to be offended by the Onion’s tweet even though much worse things are happening in the world. I’m feeling a bit numb to find out how reasonable people can be outside of the silmepitters when it comes to such topics.

  91. John Morales says

    Janine, what do you mean, “What do you mean”?

    What I wrote, of course.

    This is the first I’ve heard of this tweetery.

    (And I haven’t seen Aratina around for ages)

  92. throwaway, promised freezed peach, all we got was the pit says

    At the end, apparently he used Helen Hunt’s last name as an allusion to “cunt” and directed it at a nine-year-old girl who was also up for an Academy Award with Hunt.

    I discovered this was not true. The epithet was initially toward Anne Hathaway whom is also taking her fair share of abuse from more than just the Onion with regard to the C… derogatory epithet.

    I think the lyric went something like “Amy … so-n-so… Helen Hunt, Anne hathaway stole your statues, isn’t she A-dorable”

  93. Aratina Cage says

    Of course, the AP can’t end their story without mentioning all the people who absolutely loved the Onion’s shrewd twittery: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/onion-criticized-joke-about-quvenzhane-wallis

    (And I haven’t seen Aratina around for ages)

    Turns out I’m a better lurker than commenter. ;)

    Obviously, I don’t tweet.

    Tweeting is fast becoming one of the best ways to forge online friendships outside of blog comments IMO. It’s not made for in-depth conversations, but it works surprisingly well for social talk (including sarcasm and its nastier cousin, snark, which are my favorites) and for hyperlinking to things. I especially like to use it for meta commentary about stuff said on blogs like Pharyngula myself.

  94. John Morales says

    theophontes, I perused the article

    Actually, if you look at wrestling storylines years back, you’ll see how the script matches or tries to catch up with the political zeitgeist.

    and watched the video.

    Informative.

  95. John Morales says

    Aratina,

    Turns out I’m a better lurker than commenter. ;)

    Thank you for being informative in more ways than one. :)

  96. Aratina Cage says

    I discovered this was not true.

    Thanks for checking on it, throwaway. So the Onion, of its own volition, thinks that nine-year-olds are fair game for misogynistic epithets all in the name of over-the-top satire, does it? That’s very… unimpressive.

  97. throwaway, promised freezed peach, all we got was the pit says

    Thanks for checking on it, throwaway. So the Onion, of its own volition, thinks that nine-year-olds are fair game for misogynistic epithets all in the name of over-the-top satire, does it? That’s very… unimpressive.

    Not necessarily of their own volition. It did kind of meet the tone which MacFarlane set all night, unfortunately, and it was in reference to her refusal to being called ‘Annie’ by someone who was interviewing here because Quevenzhané was just too much hassle for him to learn to pronounce, which is outrageous in and of itself. But there were of course people blaming HER for her attitude, and not the journalist’s lack of respect. I’m not sure what was going through the person’s mind who came up with that ‘twit’ but it was not charitable to Quevenzhané at all.

  98. Aratina Cage says

    Re: throwaway

    it was in reference to her refusal to being called ‘Annie’ by someone who was interviewing her

    Ah, I see. She got the role of Little Orphan Annie, and so the reporter dismissed her real name by calling her “Annie” (because Quevenzhané is too hard to even try!), and the Onion was saying what the reporter really meant–MacFarlane style. That’s a really big fail when the Onion fucks up enough to become a legit news story.

  99. throwaway, promised freezed peach, all we got was the pit says

    Ah, I see. She got the role of Little Orphan Annie, and so the reporter dismissed her real name by calling her “Annie” (because Quevenzhané is too hard to even try!), and the Onion was saying what the reporter really meant–MacFarlane style. That’s a really big fail when the Onion fucks up enough to become a legit news story.

    I don’t think that’s quite it, but close enough. The reporter didn’t actually mean anything by Annie (consciously). It was cultural bias on the reporter’s part. The reaction to her reaction is what The Onion was attempting to satirize. But the satire only only worked if everyone knew that whole backstory. If it had been a satirization of MacFarlane using the word, and MacFarlane ending up looking like the douche (as usual) then it might have been punching-up satire. But merely alluding to the attitudes of people toward her desire to not have her identity purified is not enough context, and doesn’t address the right failures in the right frame, for it to be poignant/biting satire.

  100. thumper1990 says

    @Aratine Cgae #137

    The would-be slimepitters, basically, going on about how OK it is or how it was nothing or even using the England defense as a reason to not be upset about it.

    As an Englishman born, raised, and currently living in England; I can assure you that we do not consider it OK to call a little girl a “cunt”. Or, indeed, to even use the word on telly.

  101. strange gods before me ॐ says

    My favorite variant of the England defense:

    “It’s not a sexist term; I would never call a woman a cunt.”

  102. Aratina Cage says

    @thumper1990

    As an Englishman born, raised, and currently living in England; I can assure you that we do not consider it OK to call a little girl a “cunt”. Or, indeed, to even use the word on telly.

    Funny you should mention that. Here is one set of responses I got to my meddlesome tweet that “Plenty of people living in the UK would flat out disagree with your “fact” [that people in England call each others "cunts"].“:

    I didn’t say everyone in the UK, I said young girls, teens, an young adults. They call each other cunts all the time, through text messaging, word and social media; it’s not a taboo amongst that age/gender group. they use it interchangeably with moron, they use it playfully and they use it in it’s derogatory fashion. Look if you don’t want to acknowledge that behaviour then that’s you, words have meaning based on culture and context. They use it how they please and the only time I call it out is when they use it insult someone. … If you can’t understand the fact that I’m bringing up a problem in my country’s demographic use of the word then you are a moron.

    Don’t you just love how backhanded that is? Right after equating “moron” with “cunt”, the tweeter calls me a moron. Anyway, in the USA we had a period where everything was “gay” this and “gay” that amongst young people. I never had a problem condemning it and I did not go around pretending it was a harmless cultural artifact.

  103. throwaway, promised freezed peach, all we got was the pit says

    OK my synopsis last night was pretty wrong too.. Shit. Sorry Aratina. the simplest explanation is that they were just going for opposites, that they call her a C because she isn’t really a C, because she’s actually the opposite of a C.

  104. cm's changeable moniker says

    Or, indeed, to even use the word on telly.

    True. It’s reserved for Radio 4. ;-)

    Plenty of people living in the UK would flat out disagree with your “fact” [that people in England call each others "cunts"]

    This is silly. Of course (some) UK-nians call each other that; you can’t deny that in some sub-cultures it’s become normalised. (The youth of the M4 corridor spring to mind.)

    To say that it’s generally acceptable is wrong, though. Google “Ben Goldacre Sweary Mary” for example.

  105. says

    If any ontario peoples want more shermer it sounds like he’s bringing the left’s war on science stuff to TV ontario’s the agenda tomorrow night.

  106. joey says

    theophontes:

    We can really short circuit this entire discussion if you would only watch the video I linked to in #61.

    I did watch the video. Yes, we can observe moral behavior in animals. But that doesn’t necessarily make animals moral beings.

    Our very humanity is defined in our relationship to other humans. It is not, in any way, defined by our relationship with an imaginary sky-god.

    You’re making the presumption that having intrinsic value/humanity necessitates the existence of a “sky-god”. Does it have to be so? Why can’t one simply claim the existence of intrinsic value without making any claims about a sky-god? Is it impossible for an atheist to believe in intrinsic value?

    ——————————-
    consciousness razor:

    The problem with this notion of intrinsic value is that some people are simply incapable of valuing themselves, or are at least not sentient/self-aware enough to do so. Infants and some of the mentally disabled come to mind.

    Why would it be problematic if that notion of intrinsic value doesn’t hold for infants, or for anyone or anything in particular? If they can’t value themselves, so what? It makes no difference, for any normative claim you can think of. We can still treat infants with however much dignity, care, respect, etc., as we ought to, just like we could for cats, llamas, robots or whatever the fucking thing is.

    Are you serious? Because if I get hungry enough I would have no qualms about killing cats and llamas (and maybe even robots) so that I could eat them.

    Fascinating. Do let me know when your next ethical treatise will be published.

    Likewise.

    ——————————-
    Sally:

    Humans are “born” with this dignity.

    And yet, if a human is born into a society that enslaves her, that’s not true.

    Well, no. She still has human dignity, even if everyone in the world refuses to acknowledge it. That is absolutely the reason why everyone should acknowledge it, because she has it. Otherwise, choosing to treat her as a human would only be a preference instead of an absolute should.

    ——————————–
    Nick Gotts:

    Now suppose I say: “OK, you have intrinsic worth and rights, but I don’t give a shit about them – indeed, the fact that I’m trampling on them is going to enhance the enjoyment I derive from torturing you.” How exactly would you make use of your concept of “intrinsic worth” to persuade me that I should not do so?

    It won’t. If you’re completely aware that you’re committing intrinsically wrong acts and yet you willingly/gladly continue doing such things, then there is absolutely nothing that I could say that would help.

    Many people commit evil acts simply because they’re not aware or refuse to believe that what they’re doing is intrinsically wrong. If all morality is entirely subjective, then nothing can be intrinsically wrong…by definition. I’ll commit rape because I don’t think it’s wrong. I don’t believe this woman has value, so why treat her like she has value?

    I always thought the danger of this mentality is obvious. People who don’t believe that morality is absolute still go around acting/pretending as if it were. You see evidence of that throughout this entire blog. Because the alternative is dangerous.

    ——————————
    Janine:

    Joey, unlike you, I have no problem with the idea that people give each other worth.

    I wish to treat other people with dignity because other humans have the same right of survival as I think I have.

    But to you, that must simply be your own preference. You must also feel that treating people without dignity cannot be intrinsically right or wrong, but only an opinion/preference no more intrinsically right/wrong than your own.

    Keep in mind, if you don’t believe in intrinsic value/rights, then there can be no such thing as an “absolute right” to whatever. In fact, the entire notion of “rights” becomes pretty darn meaningless.

    ———————————
    evilisgood:

    Hell, I’ve been treated that way in this society, because my attacker didn’t share the opinion that my agency had any value.

    I’m sincerely sorry to hear that you have been treated as if you had little/no value.

    ———————————
    theophontes:

    I’m not saying that it is impossible that John Peters Humphrey really took “intrinsic” in the sense that you mean it. But he would be wrong in doing so. (I can find no mention of him being a goddist, nor of being otherwise irrational, so think it likely that he did not.)

    Again, let’s talk more about this. Why would it be “wrong”? Is it because he must be a “goddist” to believe in intrinsic dignity, and that because he is a goddist he is wrong? Or is he wrong simply for the belief in intrinsic dignity…by itself.

  107. Janine: Hallucinating Liar says

    Funny how joey ignores my contention that other people have the same right to exist as I do, that I point out the ancient idea of the golden mean.

    But joey has to have his god granting an absolute right, so what I said get reduced to just a preference.

    You are fucking vile, joey.

  108. says

    Really, Joey? That’s what you got out of my rant? Am I that terrible a communicator? The whole point was, that’s not the point. Don’t be sorry for me; I’m totally good, except apparently sucking at making a simple point in two paragraphs.

  109. Janine: Hallucinating Liar says

    Evilisgood, don’t put much stock in how joey presented your words. His goal is to show that his god is needed to give us humans dignity. Other wise, it is all just preference.

    Also, joey has a history of arguing in bad faith.

  110. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @102. theophontes (坏蛋)

    [slut shaming] Any articles on non-Westerner shaming?

    None I could see but then I wasn’t looking for any either.

    BTW. I don’t shame non-Westerners.

  111. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    NB. Not (always) agreeing with their non-Western values & cultural practices, preferring Western ideas instead is *NOT* the same thing as “shaming” them at all in my view.

    If you disagree with that, then can you please elucidate and explain why?

  112. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @36. John Morales

    Actually, in #812 of the previous thread StevoR wrote: I’ve admitted some things I said in the distant past were wrong and I now regret saying them – not that they were actually racist.

    I take that as an implicit “no” to ॐ’s repeated inquiry as to whether StevoR considered those comments to be racist; that is, I take it to mean that he denies those comments he wrote were racist.
    (He’s just too pusillanimous to actually come out and say it straightforwardly)

    Because perhaps it ain’t so straightforward after all?

    Because, among other things, SGBM isn’t arguing in good faith and has admitted here :

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/01/26/thunderdome-16/comment-page-2/#comment-548853

    That xe’s using it as a trap of some kind. Its the equivalent of asking the notorious “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?” question where however one answers one cannot win because the question itself is misleading and involves cherry-picking and rhetorical trickery.

    Since I have already answered this question multiple times for instance here :

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/02/04/thunderdome-18/comment-page-1/#comment-554392

    Comment #225 an old thunderdome thread on the 5th of February 2013 at 11:33 pm and since SGBM clearly has prepared at least one if not two answers of her own; maybe SGBM and others wfi they wish can answer me these :

    1) a) If I – hypothetically – said ‘yes’ how would you reply?
    b) If I – hypothetically – said ‘no’ how would you reply?

    2) How would you reply -what is your opinion and why and what precisely about what I wrote in those comments even mentions “race” as such? (Hint : Ethnicity / culture and political perceptions aren’t “race” I don’t even think such a thing as “race” is biologically real at all. Humans are human.)

    3) I know I’m not racist. By now you should have realised I’m not racist. How can Iprove that fact though? What evidence would convince you that I’m not what I’ve been falsely and offensively accused of being by some commenters with reading comprehension issues here?

    NB. Yes, I know I’ve had occassional outbursts and could have put some things better and communicated some of my thoughts more clearly at times. I’ve already said so and clarified since.

  113. athyco says

    Rant, which may be hard to follow because relating stupid things is much harder than relating intelligible things:

    According to Brian Allen, Reap Paden, Al Stefanelli, and Lee Moore on Ep 47 of ReapSowRadio, they’ve been contacted by a reporter from Time Magazine, Inc. about this internet conflict. Reap Paden wrote on the ‘pit Saturday that the interview has been done (and they’re popping popcorn). Supposedly there’s 70 (why do I figure that number is pulled out of somebody’s anus?) ready to have this discussion on their side to 0 on the other, and Lee Moore wants the reasons for that to be the reasons he’s thinked up in his oooown bwain. Especially since the lurkers support him in email. With those reasons made public, the FTB side is doomed, I say, doomed.

    The consensus of the quartet on the podcast is that there is a group “who just want to keep the conflict going,” folk who “do not seem to like the idea of rational and civil discourse,” and those who need to “stop being leaders in our movement.” Lee Moore’s summation was “But the crazy people in our movement who want to try to make us some kind of fringe movement, who do not want to have rational and civil discourse with the rest of us, we have to do everything in our power to [become garbled as Reap Paden can't let him finish a fucking sentence].” And I know you aren’t wondering which side that is.

    I’ve listened to three ReapSowRadio podcasts in my life. If I were told I could, by listening to the 44 others, make a thousand bucks for every accurate, specific thing that they mention during this moaning about “hypocrisy and lack of skepticism” and the “they” who “won’t be able to garner money to do things” and “the venom of radical feminism,” I’d be forced to turn it down. To wade through that much willful cluelessness for so little reward would be torture. Even the humor in hearing them project so blatantly wears off quickly.

    Reap Paden once again could not go an episode without having a swipe at Stephanie Zvan. He is such a fucking asswipe. Of course, he waits until Lee Moore has signed off to do it, to help Lee Moore retain his comfortable illusion about the nature of his co-host’s “tiffs.”

  114. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @26. strange gods before me ॐ :

    I’ve read your comment there. I’m getting too pissed and tired to reply immediately. Will do so later. Tomorrow or so my time.

    However, I will just say that I think there is a very big and significant difference between race (DNA-genetics) and culture /ideology. (Tradition / mindset.)

    I think you are using the wrong definition fro “racism” (& bigotry too) and are missing some vital nuances.

    I do *NOT* ever judge people by the colour of their skins.That’s fact.

    I do think that what they and how they *think*, what cultural practices and ideological beliefs they hold, matters. That’s fact.

    (Eg. MRAs whatever their skin colour have a toxic rape culture – & so do Muslims. A culture that says homicide-suicide bombing is a good idea is horrendously wrong regardless of the colour of the skin of folks who belong to that culture. Ditto cultural practices such as human sacrifice, Female Genital Mutilation, female infanticide, totalitarian rule, theocratic govt, etc ..)

    Skin colour = irrelevant to how we should consider and interact with other humans.

    Ideology / culture / way of thinking = very relevant irrelevant to how we should consider and interact with other humans.

    We should consider how ethical / successful / logical cultures and ideologies are – right?

    Don’t you agree?

    If not, why not?

    PS. As for citing the quoted words of some genuinely racist stormfront scum – really? You really goanna take that quote seriously?

  115. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    That’s :

    Ideology / culture / way of thinking = very relevant to how we should consider and interact with other humans.

    Natch.

  116. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @27. SGBM :

    So which is it? Either race exists and we’re “racists” or race doesn’t exist and we’re not “racists.”

    That’s a zero sum, false dichotomy.

    Race does NOT exist biologically but is a powerful albeit false mythology / pseudo-science that has severe negative political and cultural impacts despite its scientific and logical non-existence much like religion does.

    The sooner we all realise that race, like religion, is rubbish and move on from it the better.

    Humanity is, broadly speaking, hamstrung by our own flawed erroneous thinking not by biological reality much as the technology could already exist to get us beyond the Moon and into a much better future if we but had the political / cultural / economic will and focus to use and apply it.

    (On which note, I really am departing for tonight my time. Catch y’all later.)

  117. John Morales says

    StevoR:

    Because perhaps it ain’t so straightforward after all?

    By which you mean perhaps it is.

    … and since SGBM clearly has prepared at least one if not two answers of her own…

    You’re remarkably inattentive.

    I’ve already said so and clarified since.

    You’ve waddled around any answer, and I stand by my summation, which you don’t dispute.

  118. John Morales says

    … “elucidate and explain why”

    <snicker>

    (pretentiousness would be adorable, in a puppy)

  119. John Morales says

    StevoR:

    Since I have already answered this question multiple times for instance here :

    Was the answer ‘yes’ or was it ‘no’? :)

  120. John Morales says

    StevoR:

    That’s a zero sum, false dichotomy.

    I stand in awe of your mighty intellect!

    (Not just a false dichotomy, but one yielding a zero sum!)

  121. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    Now suppose I say: “OK, you have intrinsic worth and rights, but I don’t give a shit about them – indeed, the fact that I’m trampling on them is going to enhance the enjoyment I derive from torturing you.” How exactly would you make use of your concept of “intrinsic worth” to persuade me that I should not do so?

    It won’t. If you’re completely aware that you’re committing intrinsically wrong acts and yet you willingly/gladly continue doing such things, then there is absolutely nothing that I could say that would help.

    Many people commit evil acts simply because they’re not aware or refuse to believe that what they’re doing is intrinsically wrong. If all morality is entirely subjective, then nothing can be intrinsically wrong…by definition. I’ll commit rape because I don’t think it’s wrong. I don’t believe this woman has value, so why treat her like she has value?

    Right, so you admit that even if you could convince everyone that there is such a thing as “intrinsic worth and rights”, or “objective morality”, it would make absolutely no practical difference…

    I always thought the danger of this mentality is obvious. People who don’t believe that morality is absolute still go around acting/pretending as if it were. You see evidence of that throughout this entire blog. Because the alternative is dangerous.

    …yet go on to claim, with zero evidence, the exact opposite. All this demonstrates is that you are wholly unable or unwilling to understand any viewpoint different from your own – as you’ve demonstrated numerous times here. It is clearly not necessary to believe in an objective morality in order to follow a moral code, because many people do so, and there is no evidence at all, as far as I am aware, that those who believe in objective morality behave any better (or worse) than those who do not. I’m sure you have no evidence for your claim, because if you had, you would have produced it. I try to follow the code I do because other people will be better off if I do, and I am not a psychopath – I care about the interests and preferences of others. That is all that is necessary. Moreover, the code I follow is far from arbitrary, because I am willing to modify it (and indeed, have done so) in response to rational argument.

  122. thumper1990 says

    @Joey #163

    tl;dr, but the first point in the whole thing is so egregiously stupid that I just have to ask:

    Yes, we can observe moral behavior in animals. But that doesn’t necessarily make animals moral beings.

    Exactly what criteria are required to designate something a “moral being” if not the exhibition of a moral code?

  123. Lofty says

    Exactly what criteria are required to designate something a “moral being” if not the exhibition of a moral code?

    Provision of a soul by his imaginary friend, of course.

  124. consciousness razor says

    Why would it be problematic if that notion of intrinsic value doesn’t hold for infants, or for anyone or anything in particular? If they can’t value themselves, so what? It makes no difference, for any normative claim you can think of. We can still treat infants with however much dignity, care, respect, etc., as we ought to, just like we could for cats, llamas, robots or whatever the fucking thing is.

    Are you serious? Because if I get hungry enough I would have no qualms about killing cats and llamas (and maybe even robots) so that I could eat them.

    Yes, I’m serious. You’re seriously saying you would only have such qualms if they value themselves? Why? What difference would that make? You have yet to answer those questions, so I’ll keep pestering you with them until you at least acknowledge that they’ve been asked and that you have no answer. (Of course, you could attempt an answer, but I don’t set my hopes high with you anymore.)

    Suppose they value themselves, but you don’t value them. Is that impossible? Is it somehow necessary that you must know and believe and accept exactly what other people think about themselves? If their self-evaluation doesn’t logically imply or physically force your evaluation of them, then what do you think their self-evaluation does to you when you make a moral decision about them? (Notice the emphasis, because I’m not asking about what god or the universe might dish out in terms of “ultimate” justice because it’s wrong in some “absolute” sense. I wouldn’t expect you to know the answer to that, since there is no such thing to know about. I’m just asking how you should act.)

    What I was saying, since I apparently have to repeat it, is that even if something (like a cat) can’t self-evaluate in whichever ways you think are necessary, that doesn’t imply it can’t suffer. There’s no reason to think infants can self-evaluate, yet we still shouldn’t hurt them because they’re capable of being hurt: they can suffer. By the standard you’ve given so far, it would be okay to make something suffer, so long as it doesn’t think or care about itself the way you do, as an ordinary adult human being. (Why are you — or people like you — supposed to be the standard anyway, and how “subjective” would you rate your reasons for that on a scale from 1 to 10?)

    Instead, I think we should cause as little suffering as possible, whether or not the person or animal which is suffering has a different set of cognitive abilities than you or I do. If they can’t self-evaluate, that doesn’t matter. If they’re not good at algebra, that also doesn’t matter. If they’re color-blind, that also doesn’t matter. Pick any cognitive ability besides the ability to suffer, and tell me why that should change whether those with or without it are considered morally significant.

    Many people commit evil acts simply because they’re not aware or refuse to believe that what they’re doing is intrinsically wrong. If all morality is entirely subjective, then nothing can be intrinsically wrong…by definition.

    If nothing is “intrinsically wrong” (by which you mean absolutely, not intrinsically or objectively, for people who understand the terms), then it isn’t necessarily the case that morality is entirely subjective. We don’t need your absolutist godbotting nonsense to have an objective morality.

    But besides not needing it, notice that what you’re doing is not good for either of us, joey. Some people reject moral realism because they think your absolutist nonsense (or W.L. Craig’s, e.g.) is the only way to go, which simply isn’t the case. And you can only reinforce that mistake every time you spew out more garbage without having a clue what you’re talking about. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be able to talk about this, but please realize that the less garbage you spew out without really thinking about it, the better.

    I’ll commit rape because I don’t think it’s wrong. I don’t believe this woman has value, so why treat her like she has value?

    And if the woman doesn’t value herself, then what? Should you no longer value her, so that you should be able to do whatever you want to her?

    And how do you know that she doesn’t value herself? For example: suppose a woman gets an abortion. Would you consider that a sign that she doesn’t value herself, so that you should be able to do whatever you want to her, including rape, murder and cannibalism?

    And if you wouldn’t consider that sufficient evidence, what sort of thing do you think would count? How about being homosexual, because that’s “against nature” and thus you’re not valuing your True Self™ and your potential for making nice Christian babies? How about being bullied or depressed, which can lead to having “self-esteem” issues? How about not loving Jesus enough, in whatever way for whatever reason, because as we all know he’s the Absolute Source™ of all value and thus that must undermine how one values oneself? It doesn’t matter if any of those accurately reflect your views, because you’re the one who has to do that. I just want you to draw a clear picture of exactly what you think your nonsense is supposed to be about.

  125. ChasCPeterson says

    I think you are using the wrong definition fro “racism” (& bigotry too) and are missing some vital nuances.
    I do *NOT* ever judge people by the colour of their skins.

    dude. First you claim race has nothing to do with biology, then you define race as skin color, then accuse others of missing nuances?
    srsly?

  126. strange gods before me ॐ says

    StevoR,

    Because, among other things, SGBM isn’t arguing in good faith and has admitted here :

    Inaccurate. I quote:

    «I am sincerely seeking answers because I am dissecting your mind, and I want to know whether my hypotheses are correct.

    I am also asking because I have prepared a new argument depending upon your answers. Rhetorically, it is really of no concern to me whether or not you answer. If you neglect to answer, I repeat the question and thereby remind everyone what a terrible person you are. Win-win.

    But simply as a matter of curiosity, I do sincerely look forward to learning the answer. If you would cooperate with my dissection of you, I might learn how to prevent others from ending up like you. It is a small possibility, but nonzero.»

    Its the equivalent of asking the notorious “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?” question

    Inaccurate. I quote:

    «They’re not the equivalent. The problem with answering “no” to “have you stopped beating your partner yet” is that it suggests you are still beating your partner.

    What is the equivalent problem with answering “no” to “[Were you] a racist when you said that?” and “[Was it] a racist comment?”»

    cherry-picking

    Nope; that’s not what cherry-picking means. If I was cherry-picking, then you would be able to point out comments by yourself from the same time which somehow contradicted them.

    Since I have already answered this question multiple times for instance here :

    No, you have not answered the questions I am asking now. I am asking them for a reason, which is different from the reason I asked different questions earlier.

    Again, I quote:

    «Nope. I checked your links again just to make sure. They address different questions than the ones I’m asking now. They do not contain any answers to the questions 1) were you a racist when you said it, and 2) was it a racist comment?

    since SGBM clearly has prepared at least one if not two answers of her own; maybe SGBM and others wfi they wish can answer me these :

    1) a) If I – hypothetically – said ‘yes’ how would you reply?
    b) If I – hypothetically – said ‘no’ how would you reply?

    2) How would you reply -what is your opinion and why and what precisely about what I wrote in those comments even mentions “race” as such?

    Haha! You want me to tell you how to answer? Sorry, StevoR, that would defeat the purpose of this exercise.

    3) I know I’m not racist. By now you should have realised I’m not racist. How can Iprove that fact though?

    You could stop saying racist shit.

    NB. Yes, I know I’ve had occassional outbursts and could have put some things better and communicated some of my thoughts more clearly at times. I’ve already said so and clarified since.

    So, if you had advocated genocide with more clarity, that would be okay?

    PS. As for citing the quoted words of some genuinely racist stormfront scum – really? You really goanna take that quote seriously?

    This quote?

    Of course. I’m going to take it as seriously as when any other racist mentions a person of color who they count as ‘one of the good ones’.

    I personally know plenty of racists who make exceptions like that; as far as I know, offline I’ve never met a racist who doesn’t. The quote from Stormfront just allows all of us to read and confirm those words.

    The guy I quoted was putting his own reputation at risk; the standard party line at Stormfront is that MLK was a bad person who has been propped up by liberal and/or Jewish lies. This particular white nationalist spoke contrary to his peers’ expectations, because he believed what he was saying and felt strongly about it.

    Someone who there is argument over his birth nation, [...] someone who only half identifies themselves as American (the hyphenated prefix) [...] you really saying there aren’t some valid questions to be asked about *that* particular candidate’s suitability for the office of President of the United States?

    I’m seriously asking whether [Obama] would have had a chance of winning the Presidency if it wasn’t for the reverse racism implicit in the “Let’s have a black President! Any Black president!” mood with the last US election.

    Were you a racist when you said that? Was it a racist comment?

  127. thumper1990 says

    @Lofty #183

    Provision of a soul by his imaginary friend, of course.

    Oh, so Joey is a godbot? I was kind of getting that vibe.

    Do you think it’s worth asking how he plans on detecting said soul?

  128. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Do you think it’s worth asking how he plans on detecting said soul?

    Ask away, but Joey has an aversion to real evidence to back up his claims. I don’t think he even understands the concept.

  129. thumper1990 says

    @Joey

    How would you go about determining whether or not an organic being has been provided with a soul by the Lord your God? Is there some papally-mandated procedure, or is it arbitrary?

  130. mythbri says

    @StevoR #175

    Race does NOT exist biologically but is a powerful albeit false mythology / pseudo-science that has severe negative political and cultural impacts despite its scientific and logical non-existence much like religion does.

    The sooner we all realise that race, like religion, is rubbish and move on from it the better.

    You don’t get to erase people’s identities like that, StevoR.

    Race is a social construct. So what? It’s still a part of people’s identity. It doesn’t mean that it’s right to think you’re superior for your skin color and others are inferior for theirs, but it’s not wrong to have a racial identity, particularly when it’s a social construct that has been used against you, and has historically been used to oppress your people.

    You don’t magically make that all go away by saying race doesn’t exist (or at least, that it’s not biological). There is a social identity aspect that is important, and you don’t get to disappear it in order to delude yourself into thinking that you just have ethnic and cultural prejudices, which are so much better than racial prejudices.

    So, your list of “Black People I Really Like” – that was just some random collection of folks you admire, since race doesn’t exist? The fact that they were all “melanin-enriched” was just coincidence?

    My (white) aunt adopted a (black) baby. She loved her daughter dearly until she (my aunt) passed away suddenly due to the side-effects of medication she had to take for an autoimmune disorder.

    I also heard my aunt joke once, making an equivalence between adopting (black) children and adopting a litter of puppies.

    Was this a racist thing for her to say? Or was my aunt magically immune to making racist comments because she adopted and loved a (black) child?

    By the way, StevoR, I don’t like the way you appear to throw out the feminist lifeline when people challenge your racist comments. I don’t like the way you bring up misogyny in other cultures to justify your prejudices. Cultural misogyny is obviously a bad thing, but there is no culture that is immune to it. And your remarks on the matter come off as paternalistic and Great White Savior-ish, and frankly as an attempt to rally other commenters here to your “side”. I doubt very much that you’ve acquainted yourself with the different feminist voices from those cultures.

  131. thumper1990 says

    @SGBM #192

    Yeah, I assumed Catholic too, though I’ve no idea why… perhaps something in the tone of his writing?

  132. thumper1990 says

    @Beatrice,

    Thanks, mucho interesto!

    @SteveoR

    Spotted this in the comments thread of the post Beatrice linked too. I’m not sure if it will count as a threadrupt or not, but this being the Thunderdome:

    Hamas fire rockets into Israel aimed at innocent Israeli civilians then hide behind their own innocent(~ish) Palestinian civilians and blame any casualties that result on Israel. Go figure.

    If you had rockets being fired at your family, friends and nation and home how do you think you’d respond and what do you think you’d expect your government to do to stop such rockets?

    A little thought excercise, Steveo. Say your country is invaded, your people treated abominably; you and your family are forced from your homes and relocated to a ghettoised area surrounded by high fences and guard posts where small children are regularly shot for going too close to the fence. Would you be firing rockets?

    Your thought excercise is, of course, equally valid. But you don’t seem to have considered the Palastinian point of view. Colour me shocked.

  133. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    My #180 was somewhat mangled: my first response should come after a single paragraph of what I’ve quoted from joey.

    Consciousness razor,

    If nothing is “intrinsically wrong” (by which you mean absolutely, not intrinsically or objectively, for people who understand the terms), then it isn’t necessarily the case that morality is entirely subjective. We don’t need your absolutist godbotting nonsense to have an objective morality.

    But besides not needing it, notice that what you’re doing is not good for either of us, joey. Some people reject moral realism because they think your absolutist nonsense (or W.L. Craig’s, e.g.) is the only way to go, which simply isn’t the case. – consciousness razor

    Could you clarify for me what you mean by “objective morality” and “moral realism” here? (I’ve looked through your comments on this thread and the last before asking this.) I seem to recall that we’re quite similar in our meta-ethics – holding that the dichotomy between an absolutist view such as joey’s and pure subjectivism is a false one, because while there is no “gold standard” of morality, moral claims can be rationally debated) but I wouldn’t describe myself as a moral realist.

  134. strange gods before me ॐ says

    But you don’t seem to have considered the Palastinian point of view.

    StevoR has considered and even promoted a pro-Palestinian point of view.

    It’s unclear exactly how he ended up rejecting it, but I suspect it has something to do with feelings of guilt.

    We know that he was also anti-Semitic at the time. We can’t just take his word for it, as he apparently calls most criticism of Israel anti-Semitism now. But if we look at what he actually said then,

    try reading some thing from the Palestinena side of the story rather than mindlessly succumbing to the Israeli lobbies lies and propaganda. You’ll be surprised at how completely different the reality is from what the Jews whould have us believe.

    it’s clear that he was equating Israel with “the Jews” and thereby blaming the Jews for Israeli war crimes. Yeah, that’s anti-Semitic.

    (I consider him still an anti-Semite today, because he still equates Israel with the Jews. If he ever encounters another Israeli atrocity so horrible that it shocks his conscience and makes him turn against Israel, he will also turn against Jews. He is an anti-Semite in hibernation.)

    I believe he somehow came to feel guilty about being an anti-Semite, and simply inverted his loyalties to try to “make up” for it.

  135. thumper1990 says

    @Beatrice

    My favourite standpoint with US citizens who genuinely take that view: The British gave Israel to the Jews. Are you saying that Britain is God?

    Does their nut in, it’s hilarious :) Sometimes I like to add “I’m British. Am I God?”. Then watch the veins in their neck get bigger.

    @SGBM

    But that directly contradicts the above statement, also by him :-S Whut? Surely that sort of cognitive dissonance would make his head asplode?

    I don’t know enough about his views to judge whether he is anti-Semitic or not, though judging on what I have seen of him I strongly suspect he may be a wee bit Islamophobic; but commenting on the “Israel= ALL THE JEWS” thing ;it is an easy one to fall into. It’s true Israel was set up specifically as a homeland for European Jews, because we all felt guilty for refusing to believe what the Nazis were up to, but to suggest that the policies of Israel are a fair reflection of the views and opinions of every Jew, or even every Israeli citizen, is of course ridiculous.

  136. Beatrice says

    sgbm,

    Thanks for that link. His comments on that thread from 2009 are fascinating, considering his current positions.

  137. strange gods before me ॐ says

    But that directly contradicts the above statement, also by him :-S Whut? Surely that sort of cognitive dissonance would make his head asplode?

    Probably there is no cognitive dissonance, because probably he is not believing all these things at the same time. It may be sufficient to understand StevoR as (like pretty much everyone, ahem) driven by group identification.

    His politics are only a little more transparent than more sophisticated people’s group identifications. He starts off: “am left-winger, therefore oppose Israel and support Palestine because Palestinians are the underdogs.” Something(s) changes his group identification; I’m still unsure what this series of events was. Afterwards: “am right-winger, therefore oppose Palestine and support Israel because Israel is authority aligned with my own recognized authority (Australia and USA).”

    I don’t know where he’d be today if someone had linked him to That’s Funny, You Don’t Look Anti-Semitic before he turned right-wing. Maybe it wouldn’t have done any good; if the reader isn’t consciously at least sympathetic to socialism, it’ll probably go in one ear and out the other.

    PS, the Balfour Declaration predates the Nazis’ rise to power. The founding of Israel was probably overdetermined.

  138. consciousness razor says

    Nick Gotts, #198:

    Could you clarify for me what you mean by “objective morality” and “moral realism” here? (I’ve looked through your comments on this thread and the last before asking this.) I seem to recall that we’re quite similar in our meta-ethics – holding that the dichotomy between an absolutist view such as joey’s and pure subjectivism is a false one, because while there is no “gold standard” of morality, moral claims can be rationally debated) but I wouldn’t describe myself as a moral realist.

    I mean that there is a fact of the matter about what is a good or bad moral action in a given circumstance. It’s either true that P should do Q or false that P should do Q, as long as it’s a coherent proposition so that P and Q are well-defined.

    It isn’t entirely mind-independent, in the sense that people’s minds have nothing to do with it. They obviously do: our pleasure, suffering and moral reasoning (not to exclude other relevant factors) are products of our brains, which are themselves partly a product of our cultural environments. It’s also not necessary for all normative claims to be absolute, or intrinsic to the thing/act itself, or universally binding on all sentient beings everywhere at all times. There could be things which are morally justifiable or obligatory or supererogatory for one person, while that isn’t the case for another in a different situation; yet there is a fact of the matter about what is justifiable or obligatory or supererogatory for each person in each circumstance which can (but may not) be determined. And not everyone needs to understand or agree with a particular truth-claim, not even “rational” people who “know” how to evaluate a truth-claim “correctly,” just as scientists don’t always need to agree about what is the best theory or which observations are relevant or important, if there’s a choice between more than one valid and credible possibility. Being reminded of our earlier discussions about this, I’ll add that I’m only referring to normative claims about what a person should do, not all evaluations about someone’s or something’s “worth” which sort of look vaguely moralistic (e.g., “Colbert is the best,” “American cheese is good,” and the like).

    But the core of it is basically that they are a kind of truth-claim. They don’t belong in some other category, like meaningless confused dribble or an emotional ejaculation with no “logical” or “factual” content.

  139. vaiyt says

    @StevoR

    BTW. I don’t shame non-Westerners.

    That’s rich coming from a person who literally uses “non-Western” as a synonym for “barbarians who hate freedom”. By all means keep backpedalling, it just makes you look more stupid.

    I do *NOT* ever judge people by the colour of their skins.

    And since Arabs are more or less white, it doesn’t count, right?

  140. says

    StevoR:
    (fuck, I was doing my best not to respond directly to you, choosing instead to talk *about* you, but your stupid shit is pissing me off)

    That xe’s using it as a trap of some kind. Its the equivalent of asking the notorious “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?” question where however one answers one cannot win because the question itself is misleading and involves cherry-picking and rhetorical trickery.

    It’s not a trap in the way you are thinking.
    What you fail to accept is that many of the things you’ve said in the past (and recently) were racist. Until you admit that you *have* said racist things in the past (and recently), there are going to be many of us calling you out for that racism.
    That you do not accept what you’ve said as racist speaks volumes of your shitty character.
    Your problem (one of them at any rate; another would be your desire to drop daisy cutter bombs all over certain Middle Eastern countries–oblivious or uncaring about the innocent lives that would be lost) is that by dismissing the concept of race, you get to dismiss racism. You’ve never had to deal with racism, so you have redefined racism intellectually, which dismisses the very real issues of racism that millions upon millions of people (probably BILLIONS) have faced throughout history.
    As was explained to you:
    RACE is a real concept. Biological? No. It’s a social construct.
    You can deny it until you’re blue in the face, but you’ll continue to be wrong.

    Keep talking about how Western ideals improved those Eastern cultures, or dismissing the contributions to science from people of other cultures, and you’re going to be considered a racist.

  141. says

    StevoR:

    That xe’s using it as a trap of some kind. Its the equivalent of asking the notorious “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?” question where however one answers one cannot win because the question itself is misleading and involves cherry-picking and rhetorical trickery.

    Comment #225 an old thunderdome thread on the 5th of February 2013 at 11:33 pm and since SGBM clearly has prepared at least one if not two answers of her own; maybe SGBM and others wfi they wish can answer me these

    Why the switch of pronouns to refer to SGBM?
    (and I agree with John, you *are* inattentive)

  142. strange gods before me ॐ says

    Better people than StevoR have gotten the impression that I’m a woman. I’m not irritated about it unless I get the feeling that it’s being done with the intention of irritating me. As a cis man, being accidentally misgendered is no more a problem to me than being assumed to be a Canadian.

  143. strange gods before me ॐ says

    thumper1990,

    In another thread, you are being targeted by a couple of bullies who have a lot of friends here and no regard for the Reset rule. The appearance of those two together is not a coincidence; they entertain each other by finding a target who they can claim deserves to be called names and then doing so. Your safest move is to ignore them, and also to pretend you never read this comment from me.

  144. strange gods before me ॐ says

    Now that I think about it, I don’t know if anyone’s ever taken me for Canadian. Tbh I don’t know how I’d react.

  145. strange gods before me ॐ says

    It’s not an arbitrary assumption though. It’s pattern recognition based on my interests. A commenter with an ambiguous nym and an interest in feminism is more likely to be a woman. Anyway, it’s an error, but not a moral error, and I’d feel hypocritical if I don’t say something in defense of StevoR after I’ve ignored the same error made by people who I like.

    Of course he was drunk though. That goes without saying.

  146. Portia, snowbound says

    that’s because race doesn’t exist, Tony. And you’re the racist for saying it does. Racist.

    ….no this Snark Hat’s mine for the moment, get yer own!

  147. throwaway, promised freezed peach, all we got was the pit says

    You only need like 3 browser tabs, and tweetdeck to see how various cross accusations line up with reality. I save you some time here: Not very well. But I’m happy that the next season has been picked up. My favorite sitcom after Big Bang Theory.

    Am I right in assuming this is a fence-shitter statement? It sure reads that way… Just making sure.

  148. throwaway, promised freezed peach, all we got was the pit says

    I do see them pop up with obfuscated remarks such as the ones I’ve quoted now and then. I think they are dancing around the three-post/thread reset rule.

  149. chigau (違う) says

    Portia and Tony
    You both seem to have missed the Memo.
    This Thread is for my entertainment.
    fightFIGHTFIGHT

  150. says

    Tony
    You are not the first to be tripped up. Both are apparently referring to a figure from German myth, using alternate translations of Eulenspeigel. Owlglass has been ask to change to a different ‘nym, as Owlmirror has seniority, but has not acknowledged such requests AFAIK.

  151. throwaway, promised freezed peach, all we got was the pit says

    I have no decoder ring, but I love your response to the comment :)

    Thanks Tony!

    I’m pissed they’re trying to introduce charter schools in KY… So between that and the prayer that happened in Boyle County’s public meeting and that, I’m feeling particularly motivated to show up and complain in person in Frankfort.

  152. throwaway, promised freezed peach, all we got was the pit says

    Hopefully I won’t be nearly as redundantly redundant when I do show up. Unless it’s a chant.

  153. chigau (違う) says

    So the Portia vs Tony ‘fight’ is going to be as captivating and enthralling as chess-by-mail.
    [but way more interesting than anything involving StevoR and/or joey]

  154. chigau (違う) says

    and here I thought that if I limited myself to the Lounge and the Thunderdome I’d be able to keep up, to make sense of everything…
    meh
    *hugs**hugs*hugs*
    sorry, Thunderdome
    fightFIGHTFIGHT

  155. strange gods before me ॐ says

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/02/24/lounge-405/comment-page-1/#comment-570725

    [Portia:] They say that if only we were nicer, and held their hands, and didn’t deny them access to our spaces, then we’d all be on the same happy side and they would be the best allies they could be! But what they fail to acknowledge is that by barging in and acting entitled to entrance or explanation or education, they are not fighting unearned social privilege, they are exercising it.

    [Azkyroth:] I don’t know. Speaking as someone who predominantly experiences privilege from the other side as the (lived-experience, I’m sure this isn’t “intentional”) calculated withholding of explanations of things that my failure to “just get” is treated as a deep, devastating character flaw* I find this sort of phrasin g really difficult to get behind.

    I’ll try to think about it more.

    *we HAVE collectively grown the fuck up and admitted that people not on the autism spectrum have nontrivial privilege, right?

    Azkyroth’s behavior in the I’m glad I’m a cis guy thread is the sort of thing he’s trying to excuse here.

    People not on the autism spectrum are also told they’re not owed explanations. Indeed everyone is told this. Being on the spectrum doesn’t entitle you to extra time and attention, from people who are less privileged than you on some axis, for the sake of explaining to you the nature of your privilege.

  156. Beatrice says

    Oh, this is on two threads now. I have to acknowledge that one can be on the spectrum while having male privilege too. So things become complicated.

  157. thumper1990 says

    Well, this thread has moved on somewhat :)

    @SGBM

    His politics are only a little more transparent than more sophisticated people’s group identifications. He starts off: “am left-winger, therefore oppose Israel and support Palestine because Palestinians are the underdogs.” Something(s) changes his group identification; I’m still unsure what this series of events was. Afterwards: “am right-winger, therefore oppose Palestine and support Israel because Israel is authority aligned with my own recognized authority (Australia and USA).”

    Ah yes, I’ve noticed this phenomenom before. It’s almost like your stance on Israel is some sort of litmus test to establish your left or right credentials. Immigration and Benefits are often treated in the same way , at least here in the UK. I guess Abortion would be the other big litmus test in America. It’s annoying, because it simply polarises the issue, resulting in two camps with two opposing views that neither will budge from, and the whole world is reduced to black and white. Of course when someone comes along who is capable of realising the real world is more complicated than that and takes a more nuanced position, they simply end up catching flak from both sides. *sigh*.

    In another thread, you are being targeted by a couple of bullies who have a lot of friends here and no regard for the Reset rule. The appearance of those two together is not a coincidence; they entertain each other by finding a target who they can claim deserves to be called names and then doing so. Your safest move is to ignore them, and also to pretend you never read this comment from me.

    Oh, thank you, I wasn’t aware. Which thread? I may be feeling argumentative later; though considering I appear to have caught a cold and my head feels like it’s stuffed with cotton wool, it may be better to avoid arguments today.

    What’s the reset rule?

  158. thumper1990 says

    @Tony the Queer Shoop

    I’d like to know how he knows humans have intrinsic value.
    Which Chapter & Verse is that found in?
    Anywhere near the various rules on how women can be raped or how to handle slaves?

    I’m not sure the Bible ever bothers to explain why humans have intrinsic value. I think it’s just assumed to be self-evident, despite the fact, as you say, that the book then goes on to contradict that self-evident truth. #muddle-brained religionists.

    Perhaps he’ll respond to your questions about that post…
    I’m going to guess “I wasn’t a racist when I said that. That wasn’t a racist thing to say.”

    Well in fairness, I don’t think what he said was racist. Knee-jerk, certainly; thoughtless, lacking in empathy… etc, all of which could certainly be caused by Islamophobia. But not racist in and of itself, though obviously taken in the wider context of his other posts it could be used as evidence to suggest he is.

    I take his point. If I was a citizen living in Israel I certainly would want my Government to be doing their utmost to stop such rocket attacks. I like to think that I would want them to find a better way of doing it than simply raining bombs down over whatever area they suspect the Hezbollah commanders to be hiding in, but that’s just me, limp-wristed Lib’rul that I am. However while he seems to be trying to empathise with the Israelies he does not appear to have made any attempt to empathise with the Palastinians firing the rockets… a situation made all the more perplexing by the evidence provided by SGBM, which shows he used to take exactly the opposite stance :-/

    Has he disregarded the Palastinian point of view due to Islamophobia? Entirely possible, and it wouldn’t suprise me, especially given the opinion of others who have commented here far longer and had far more contact with SteveoR than I have.

  159. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I’m not sure the Bible ever bothers to explain why humans have intrinsic value. I think it’s just assumed to be self-evident, despite the fact, as you say, that the book then goes on to contradict that self-evident truth. #muddle-brained religionists.

    It’s probably found in his Sophistimicated Theology™. You know, the bullshit based on the twin fallacies of his imaginary deity existing and his holy book not being a book of mythology/fiction. Making it a total pile of dreck. Things he can’t and/or won’t prove with evidence…

  160. thumper1990 says

    @Nerd

    Ah, Sophistimicated Theology™! Why is it sophistimicated? Because it’s right! Why is it right? Because it’s sophistimicated! I don’t think it’s right. That’s because it’s too sophistimicated for you to understand! Checkmate.

  161. says

    Folks, I could use a bit of help dealing with an idiot.

    These are her words –

    “[The state] does not owe them [prostitutes and their families] a safe way to engage in selling sex because…to participate in prostitution when there is a real, meaningful exit is to willingly participate in the belief that men should be able to buy access to our bodies–and that is wrong. If you insist on doing that despite having real options, at some point you have to face the fact that you are choosing to be vulnerable to the violence and cruelty and degradation that are absolutely inherent in prostitution”

    She is of the opinion that the only reason someone would say this –

    “Sex workers are entitled to basic human rights, including safe working conditions and medical care should every effort to provide a safe working condition tragically prove insufficient, the right to a non-hostile work environment, the right to enter and leave the industry as they so choose, and the right of final refusal regarding clientele, production, or scene. They also have the right to not be looked down upon by the rest of society for their career choice.”

    is that they have a “stake in maintaining a pool of women whom men can terrorize, torture, rape, and murder–more or less at will?”

    It’s been going on 833 posts now and I still can’t get any coherent answers to questions out of her.

    Anyone happen to have any research handy for A) what percentage of porn is geared for non heterosexual male audiences, B) what percentage of porn in the US is produced legally by porn studios vs what percentage of porn is produced using underage models or others who are unable to or have not consented?

  162. thesandiseattle says

    @121: sorry for the mistake. But natural mistake when you start talking ancient history. :)

  163. strange gods before me ॐ says

    thumper,

    Oh, thank you, I wasn’t aware. Which thread?

    I refer to Ms. Daisy Cutter and Happiestsadist in the I know this feeling thread.

    +++++
    For the amusement of the Dome, consider how this began.

    [Anthony Mullen:] I realize that most people would think I am unqualified to sit on such a committee because I am not a doctor, I have never worked in an emergency room, and I have never treated a single patient. So what? Today I have listened to people who are not teachers, have never worked in a classroom, and have never taught a single student tell me how to teach.

    [thumper1990:] This. Yes to all of this. All of the yes. I am so sick of hearing people who know nothing about medicine opine on how the NHS can do better, or people who’s extent of educational knowledge extends to half-remembered French lessons opining on how education policy can be better. You know who needs to be asked? Teachers, and possibly some people who have just left education who can remember what it was like and have a valid opinion on how it can be improved. Not middle aged Conservatives who want the A level system to go back to how it was when they were kids, when 20% of people failed.

    Because obviously, more people aren’t passing now because we found better methods of teaching people, Oh no! More people are passing because they’re easier! Stupid Tories.

    Emphasis mine.

    For Americans, the NHS is sort of like a Medicare-for-everyone system, A level exams are for getting into university, and this is a Tory.

    Obviously, from writing five times as much about education policy than about medical funding, we should conclude that thumper1990 is a health-care professional.

    This is like accusing an American complaining about Republicans demonizing public education of being an arrogant teacher who believes teachers are deities who should never be questioned. And then “self-righteous assclown”, “smug smegmapudding”, and “privileged bag of suppurating assholes made sentient.” Because fair game.

  164. ChasCPeterson says

    The headline would not be out of place in any spam file.

    Yeah, I knew what you were getting at. Just feeling prickly. Sorry.

  165. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    But the core of it is basically that they are a kind of truth-claim. They don’t belong in some other category, like meaningless confused dribble or an emotional ejaculation with no “logical” or “factual” content. – consciousness razor

    Ah, then we disagree. Certainly, many people regard their moral judgements as objective truth, so they are making “truth-claims”, but I have never seen any line of reasoning that shows how any such claims can be correct. Can you provide one?

    I agree that moral judgements are not meaningless confused dribble or an emotional ejaculation. Rather, I think they are best analysed as akin to “requirements specs” for a piece of equipment or software: they specify how the person making the judgement judges or intends to judge actions.

  166. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    Incidentally, consciousness razor, do you take the same line on esthetic judgements? So if I claim Chagall for a better artist than Picasso, there is some objective fact of the matter?

  167. cm's changeable moniker says

    this is a Tory

    LOL. Gotta love the Mirror. Illustrates DC’s “reaction to” a vote in Parliament with “photo from” the “2012 [Olympic] Organising Committee” which was clearly taken at the World Economic Forum.

    Pravdaaaaaaa! ;-)

  168. Esteleth, Ficus Putsch Knits says

    No, because “better artist” is an inherently subjective judgement.

    You could say, “Picasso sold more pieces of art in his lifetime than Van Gogh,” because that is objectively true. Likewise, you could say, “Picasso’s Guernica was valued at $1.6 million a few years ago.”

    But “better” is subjective, unless you’re defining exactly what you mean by “better.”

  169. Esteleth, Ficus Putsch Knits says

    Pravdaaaaaaa

    Well, you know what they used to say: there is no news in Pravda and no truth in Izvestia.

  170. David Marjanović says

    Darren Naish @TetZoo tweeted 55 minutes ago:

    It’s late February 2013. You might not believe it, but 102 #rhinos have been poached so far >>THIS YEAR<<. One rhino per 11 hrs. HELP!!!

  171. David Marjanović says

    Sun Wukong must exist!

    China: where the emperors and even the gods have surnames !!

  172. David Marjanović says

    “Americans who had a shitty secondary education and never went to college, and consequently had to self-educate to become knowledgeable, sometimes have the most surprising knowledge gaps.”

    vs.

    Americans who had a shitty secondary education and never went to college and consequently had to self-educate to become knowledgeable sometimes have the most surprising knowledge gaps.

    Both sentences parse the same to me; I find no ambiguity has been removed by the commas.

    I find that largely true – but without the commas, which are (I must insist) just fine in English, it’s not immediately obvious where the sometimes goes.

    More importantly, without the commas it reads in monotone. In long monotonous sentences I lose track at some point. Yes, people, commas are generally pronounced – the voice goes up. Where that’s optional is exactly where the orthographies of different languages differ in their rules about commas.

    (Example: “the A that is B is C” becomes “the A, that is B, is C” in German – relative clauses must be surrounded by commas like every other insertion into a sentence.)

  173. Lofty says

    It’s late February 2013. You might not believe it, but 102 #rhinos have been poached so far >>THIS YEAR<<. One rhino per 11 hrs. HELP!!!

    I think it’s optimistic to expect anyone can halt more megafaunal extinction, merely slow it a little. I expect it will be some time after humans have disappeared off the planet before evolution replaces this trashed biosphere. Very sad.

  174. says

    @ joey

    Yes, we can observe moral behavior in animals. But that doesn’t necessarily make animals moral beings.

    We have solid empirical evidence that a large number of different animals (humans included), display moral behaviour in their dealings with each other and somehow they are not moral? What is the extra something that the little subset of animals – displaying moral behaviour, and also called “human” – have that the others lack?

    You’re making the presumption that having intrinsic value/humanity necessitates the existence of a “sky-god”. Does it have to be so?

    We cannot be fully human in the complete absence of other humans. If you are raised by wolves what are you? If you are raised by an AI robot it could get very interesting. As a stand in for a human, it might work. As a foil, a means to feedback on the “intrinsic humanity” of a developing person, I cannot imagine it will end well. (We imagine that the “feedback” robots act as parents from birth, in the complete absence of other humans.)

    (Something like this was tried. Check out Fredrick II’s, language deprivation experiments. (Link to Pffffft)

    “But he laboured in vain, for the children could not live without clappings of the hands, and gestures, and gladness of countenance, and blandishments.”

    Why can’t one simply claim the existence of intrinsic value without making any claims about a sky-god?

    In order to have a value we would need to have something or someone to find value. In the absence of another living creature this is impossible.

    Even a diamond ring has no value in an empty universe. Its (economic) value is also a social construct. It has no value until it is thus ordained by people (De Beers actually, but that is a long story).

    Is it impossible for an atheist to believe in intrinsic value?

    In the hard sense (as opposed to a metaphorical sense, say), that you appear to subscribe to, I would think it highly unlikely they accept something metaphysical. On the other hand we are all capable of believing crap.

    She still has human dignity, even if everyone in the world refuses to acknowledge it.

    This is where I think you are going wrong. Dignity is something that is given. It is a construct of interaction between people. We cannot have this interaction without people. “Respect” is a similar such thing. You can have “self-respect”, but what is it that will “respect” you in the absence of other people?

    @ StevoR

    I don’t shame non-Westerners.

    You appear to grock it with misogyny, but not with other forms of bigotry. Why is this?

    :/

    @ David Marjanović

    China: where the emperors and even the gods have surnames !!

    That is the proper way to do things. Imagine if others followed suite: Jesus McYahwe ! Muhammad Ibn `Abd Allāh Ibn `Abd al-Muttalib !

  175. says

    @ thumper

    Do you think it’s worth asking how he plans on detecting said soul?

    Check my previous linky. This experiment has actually been undertaken:

    Amongst the experiments included shutting a prisoner up in a cask to see if the soul could be observed escaping though a hole in the cask when the prisoner died…

    @ chigau

    Overcast.

  176. Janine: Hallucinating Liar says

    You have to love it when Abbie Smith repeats a Hoggle joke.

    Well, we dont have to mail him any straw. At the next conference he speaks at, someone could just slip some hay into his jacket pockets…

    [/old joke]

    She means PZ’s pocket.

  177. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    Incidentally, consciousness razor, do you take the same line on esthetic judgements? So if I claim Chagall for a better artist than Picasso, there is some objective fact of the matter? – me

    No, because “better artist” is an inherently subjective judgement. – Esteleth

    I asked the question of consciousness razor (not that I object to you answering of course), because esthetic and moral judgements appear to have a lot in common; but I rarely if ever find that believers in objective morality are also believers in objective esthetics – although I’ve never had one explain the relevant* difference, as far as I recall. My own view is that both are neither objective in the sense that matters of empirical fact are objective, nor purely subjective in the same sense as a like or dislike of strawberry ice-cream – because moral and esthetic judgements can be rationally criticised and defended, but there is no definitive fact of the matter, since the criteria on which a judgement is made can always be disputed**. Another way of putting this I’ve seen somewhere is that the “objectivity” of such judgments is a matter of process: that they have been reached through critical and self-critical reflection, doing the best one can to consider difficulties and contrary views fairly.

    Incidentally, my meta-meta-ethical view is that meta-ethics very often makes no practical difference – I’m far more likely to find it easy to work with someone who agrees with my ethics but disagrees with my meta-ethics than vice versa.

    * Obviously there are differences – ethics, unlike esthetics, is often a matter of life or death; but I don’t see that this bears on objectivity.

    ** So in the case of Sam Harris, for example, he thinks an objective morality can be based on a notion of “human flourishing”, but it is neither obvious that this is or should be the sole basis of moral judgements (what about non-human but sentient animals, for example), nor would different people agree on what constitutes “flourishing”, or on how we should discount the more distant future relative to the more immediate. I’ve also seen some respected moral philosopher (Railton?) claim that an objective morality can be based on whether a particular action or moral code encourages social stability! We know from past examples that highly patriarchal, slave-owning societies can be very stable.

  178. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    And yes, my history teacher insisted that Lenin’s first name was Nikolai. – Esteleth

    Reagan also referred to “Nikolai Lenin”. I’ve read somewhere that at some point Lenin used a pseudonym with Nikolai as the personal name, but I don’t recall any more, and it doesn’t seem to account for the error. Is there perhaps something “intrinsically” socialistic about the name?

  179. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    On Diogenes, I’ve always liked his reported response to Alexander “the Great”. Alexander fancied himself an admirer of philosophy, if not a philosopher himself (and having had Aristotle as a tutor, presumably did know something of the subject). Visiting Diogenes in his barrel, he enquired whether there was anything he could do for the cynic. “Yes”, Diogenes replied, “Stand aside a little – you’re blocking the light.” I’ve always assumed that this had a metaphorical, political meaning as well as the literal one.

  180. says

    Nick Gotts,

    ** So in the case of Sam Harris, for example, he thinks an objective morality can be based on a notion of “human flourishing”, but it is neither obvious that this is or should be the sole basis of moral judgements (what about non-human but sentient animals, for example) nor would different people agree on what constitutes “flourishing”, or on how we should discount the more distant future relative to the more immediate.

    Harris mentions animals quite a bit in The Moral Landscape. He folds animals in with humans using the phrase “conscious creatures,” which I like and have appropriated. Though he does focus mostly on human flourishing, animals are a concern within this philosophy. You’re right that there is disagreement about what “flourishing” entails. This is a bug of most utilitarian systems, which Harris attempts to work around with the “peaks and valleys” idea. I’m not sure if you’ve read the book, so I’ll stop there in case you have and you know all this stuff. But yeah, animals are in there.

  181. thumper1990 says

    @SGBM #270

    Epic :) that’s a handy thread to know about, thank you. I’m not familiar with the specific rules, so I’ve just been going with “Don’t be an arsehole”, which seems to work fairly well, but I’ve messed up once or twice with the whole “Lounge is a safe space” thing. I thought it was just a topic-less thread, and when I realised it was more than that I cast my mind back and realised I’d dropped a couple of innappropriate comments in there. So I shall be referring to that more often :) thanks.

    Also, Reset rule; I assumed it was something like that, seems sensible to me. I still haven’t found that thread you were talking about :)

  182. throwaway, promised freezed peach, all we got was the pit says

    http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/moving-forward/#comment-51087

    That “The Horde™” has changed at least some of its ways is certainly good news, and something which more than a few have noted: the leopard can change its spots, although it is still an open question whether or not those changes are only skin deep.

    So much for charity.

    However, I have to wonder whether you – and they – have ever given any thought to the idea that “The Horde™” has contributed very substantially to the poisoning of the well that is, arguably, a very substantial cause of the roiling of the waters at the intersection of atheism, skepticism, and feminism?

    Can’t say that I’ve ever wondered about that. If you show your work as to why you believe that way and bring it to my desk I’d be willing to consider it.

    And that you – collectively – bear a very substantial burden of responsibility for that state of affairs?

    No, I don’t presume that and don’t see any indication of it being true. If you show your work, then I may consider it.

    And that, more specifically, many of those languishing in Myers’ dungeon are there because they happen to have disputed and criticized that porpupine “joke” along with other equally unsavoury “standards” of behaviour there?

    What a beautifully painted picture you’ve made up, what with actual people actually languishing in dungeons and all, as if PZ has taken away some fundamental right or human dignity.

    That that contribution is ongoing as evidenced by Myers’ recent [Dec 6] assertion that, in effect, of those who criticize and reject his definition of feminism, “every one of them has the name Marc Lepine”?

    That is a disingenuous quote mine if I ever saw one. PZ didn’t say those rejecting his definition of feminism nor people who simply criticize feminism. Here is the full quote

    PZAnd these anonymous monsters on the internet who shriek affrontedly about women and feminists and moan that any feminist allies are ‘manginas’ — to me, every one of them has the name Marc Lépine, and is just hiding it in shame and fear and hatred and cowardice.

    This has been deconstructed so often in the comments on that very article that I’d direct you to read those.

    A contribution and view of feminism that is underlined by his offer to discuss feminism [An experiment: why do you despise feminism? Dec 21] that was subsequently proven to be a “poisoned chalice” by his banning of someone merely because she happened to have commented on the SlympePit. That isn’t rationality and skepticism but demagoguery and dogma speaking.

    Again, you presumed PZ was asking for anti-feminists from the Slymepit to come converse. The direct quote from PZ is:

    PZLet’s hear from some of these anti-feminists.

    Not: Let’s hear from the people who put a T’s in people’s names to make a gendered slur. He didn’t say that at all. The only way it could be a poisoned chalice is if PZ was speaking directly of the ‘pitters when he made that invitation. That was nowhere within the blog post.

    In addition, while I’ll readily admit that sexism is unfortunately rather ubiquitous, your suggestion that the simple use of gendered epithets always qualifies as that betrays the use of a definition that is not supported at all by the dictionary – as I’ve argued in some detail here – and that motivates totally discreditable accusations directed at a great many people, including Michael Shermer.

    ( I hope when you click on that link you aren’t disappointed. Apparently to ‘steersman’ or ‘oaringabout’, arguing in some detail means giving a dictionary definition asking where the sexism is along with other such gems as providing the definition for stereotyping. What a treasure this boatswain is. I really don’t have the heart to tell them how unimpressive that was.) Le sigh.

    And while I quite agree with you that we, as skeptics if not as humanists, should be addressing each others’ arguments, and not their physical attributes, I also figure that FTB in general, and Pharyngula in particular, has a substantial amount to make amends for before much progress can be made.

    Here, I’ll dedicate a song to you about what I think about ‘amends’ which need to be made by Pharyngulites and FTB: http://youtu.be/BVXTmav24Wk

    Shine yer halo for a sixpence mistah!

  183. thumper1990 says

    @SGBM #269

    Silly Wabbit, read the thread before replying!

    Yes, I did find their er… responses on that thread. However, I couldn’t see how they had broken the Reset Rule (or rather what I assumed the reset rule to be, which as it turned out was reasonably accurate) since they haven’t referenced anything I said on another thread, so assumed you were referring to another thread.

    Yeah, xe does seem to be under the impression that the only person who would defend healthcare professionals would be another health care professional… which is rather a strange opinion. Xe also seems to have some sort of phobia of healthcare professionals in general based, apparently, on a few pieces of anecdotal evidence extrapolated to cover the whole profession. On top of everything you mentioned in your summing-up of the situation (thank you for that), it’s all a bit confusing.

  184. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    Harris mentions animals quite a bit in The Moral Landscape. He folds animals in with humans using the phrase “conscious creatures,” which I like and have appropriated. – evilisgood

    I admit to only having read a shorter presentation of his ideas, so thanks for that. But how do we weigh the interests and preferences of humans with those of members of other species? Where’s the objective measuring rod that enables us to do this?

  185. ChasCPeterson says

    jeez w/ the double-sekrit messages.

    I expect it will be some time after humans have disappeared off the planet before evolution replaces this trashed biosphere.

    “conscious creatures”

    *2 eyerolls* (1 for each word)

  186. thumper1990 says

    Found something on Comrade Physioproff I thought might tickle the horde members.

    An East Texas school maintenance worker was in fair condition Thursday after being accidentally shot during a district-sponsored handgun safety class, according to local media.

    The concealed handgun license class is part of an effort to permit teachers to carry firearms in schools in Van, Texas, the Tyler Morning Telegraph reported.

    KLTV identified the maintenance department employee as Glenn Geddie, and reported him hospitalized in fair condition.

    …”during a district-sponsored handgun safety class”. I laughed. I’m not sure if I should be ashamed of that or not.

  187. ChasCPeterson says

    oops, looks like I forgot the intended response to:

    I expect it will be some time after humans have disappeared off the planet before evolution replaces this trashed biosphere.

    Great read on this very subject: ‘Planet of Weeds’ by David Quammen (pdf).

  188. says

    Nick Gotts,

    But how do we weigh the interests and preferences of humans with those of members of other species? Where’s the objective measuring rod that enables us to do this?

    According to Harris, the measuring rod is the capability of a given species to suffer/ feel pleasure. So, for example, a dog would take higher priority than an ant, because the dog has a more complex nervous system and has more going on upstairs than does the ant. A human would take higher priority than a dog, because human, I guess? The nervous systems of dogs and humans don’t seem to be much different on the whole AFAICT, but we do have more complex brains than they do. Presumably, by this metric, if an alien species were to come along with a more acute capability to suffer / feel pleasure than humans, or a more complex nervous system and brain, that species’ interests and preferences would take priority over those of humans.

    ChasCPeterson,

    What? Alliteration is cool!

  189. ChasCPeterson says

    Hey, I like alliteration as much as the next nerd, but ‘creature’ implies creation, which I can’t get past that, plus also spawned the odious ‘critter’, ditto; and ‘conscious’ is highly problematic applied to nonhuman animals, to say the least.

  190. ChasCPeterson says

    argh: one of Jerry Coyne’s pinch-bloggers posted a post about ctenophores that contains a number of errors…but I’m banned. SIIIIIWOOOOOOOOTIIIIIIIIIIIII

  191. strange gods before me ॐ says

    thumper,

    However, I couldn’t see how they had broken the Reset Rule (or rather what I assumed the reset rule to be, which as it turned out was reasonably accurate) since they haven’t referenced anything I said on another thread, so assumed you were referring to another thread.

    Sorry, I should have been more clear about why I was bringing that up. It’s not that they have, but they will later. You’re fair game now.

    So you’ll see behavior like this: an individual already considered fair game says something illogical, and so an otherwise fair response gets a gratuitous “dumbass” thrown in. Merely attacking the argument might not hurt the person by proxy, and commenting is far less intriguing when nobody gets hurt.

    Xe also seems to have some sort of phobia of healthcare professionals in general based, apparently, on a few pieces of anecdotal evidence extrapolated to cover the whole profession.

    I don’t know. You made blanket statements which are not true of certain sectors. Nurses and aides who work in retirement homes and inpatient mental health facilities, for instance, tend to have contempt for those in their “care”. There the default is the reverse of what you said; those who keep patients’ best interests in mind are the exceptions. Doctors at inpatient mental health facilities tend not to despise patients to quite the same degree, but they understand that individuals are of secondary importance. Their primary duty is to keep unsettling sights away from the public’s view; these facilities function as an extension of the guard labor industry, and are particularly useful because their mandate does not require a criminal offense or even probable cause.

    I didn’t speak up to agree with you, only to point out that the personal attacks were unfair.

  192. David Marjanović says

    Reagan also referred to “Nikolai Lenin”. I’ve read somewhere that at some point Lenin used a pseudonym with Nikolai as the personal name, but I don’t recall any more, and it doesn’t seem to account for the error. Is there perhaps something “intrinsically” socialistic about the name?

    I rather think some people are prone to confusing Lenin with the last tsar.

    “Yes”, Diogenes replied, “Stand aside a little – you’re blocking the light.” I’ve always assumed that this had a metaphorical, political meaning as well as the literal one.

    + 1

    promised freezed peach, all we got was the pit

    I sit in awe.

    cagematch

    I think the thing to write is カワイーーーーー ?

    *2 eyerolls* (1 for each word)

    *nodnod*

    argh: one of Jerry Coyne’s pinch-bloggers posted a post about ctenophores that contains a number of errors…but I’m banned. SIIIIIWOOOOOOOOTIIIIIIIIIIIII

    Link, please!

    What got you banned?

  193. Esteleth, Ficus Putsch Knits says

    Reagan also referred to “Nikolai Lenin”. I’ve read somewhere that at some point Lenin used a pseudonym with Nikolai as the personal name, but I don’t recall any more, and it doesn’t seem to account for the error. Is there perhaps something “intrinsically” socialistic about the name?

    I rather think some people are prone to confusing Lenin with the last tsar.

    Interestingly, that same teacher referred not to “Tsar Nikolai” but “Emperor Nicholas.” Also had the odd habit of referring to the Tsarina as “Alice.” Her birth name, of course, was Alix, but she was known in Russia as Alexandra. Likewise, the Tsarevich was known (inaccurately on more than one count) as “Prince Alex.” There was very little mention of Alexei’s sisters.

    I have a theory as to the Anglicization of some people’s names and not others. And this kindasorta dovetails with the reluctance to mention the names of Olga, Marie, Tatiana, and Anastasia.

    ‘Course, this teacher also said that the significance of იოსებ ბესარიონის ძე ჯუღაშვილი (Ioseb Besarionis je J̌uḡašvili) rebranding himself Иосиф Виссарионович Сталин (Iosif Vissarionovič Stalin) was that it marked him as a thief. “Stealin’,” you see.

    Because Russian – or Georgian, for that matter – has both that exact cognate with English, and that pattern of colloquially modifying nasals.

    RIGHT THEN.

  194. ChasCPeterson says

    Here‘s the ctenophore link.

    What got you banned?

    uh, well, the first time was because in a situation much like this one (Coyne had posted about coelacanths) I criticized some errors in too uncivil a tone. The other time (new nym) was for mildly insulting a favotite commenter. *shrug*

  195. David Marjanović says

    RIGHT THEN.

    Are you sure he wasn’t trying to deadpan a bad joke?

    (BTW, the Russian language is a ng-free zone. Even words like bank and tank are pronounced with [n].)

  196. Esteleth, Ficus Putsch Knits says

    A bad joke? Maybe.

    Y’know, it is interesting. Of all the bad things that can be said of Stalin’s character (genocidal, totalitarian, authoritarian, bad taste in facial hair, genocidal, spouse-abusing, genocidal), “thief” does not immediately come to mind.

  197. David Marjanović says

    Done, but I only found two errors: the blatant misstatement about what “biradial symmetry” means, and the claim that having a nerve net and eyes is “striking” when cnidarians have all the same. I don’t know ctenophores well; what other mistakes are there?

  198. David Marjanović says

    Y’know, it is interesting.

    Yep. Perhaps it’s a bit like the mysterious urge some people have of calling The Enemy a coward regardless of how much courage they display: it’s just the first thing that comes to mind in a Klingon mindset.

  199. Esteleth, Ficus Putsch Knits says

    Actually, I stand corrected. I remember learning of how at some point, in 1917 or thereabouts (y’know, in the early days of the Revolution), Stalin wanted more office space for himself and his staff. So he went into the building in the middle of the night and hung office signs.

    I suppose this does qualify as “theft.”

  200. ChasCPeterson says

    Yes, the biradial thing. Also ctenophores have anal pores at the opposite end of the gut from the mouth (though this is probably not homologous to the complete gut of bilaterians, unless it is), and he seemed to interpret a phylogeny depicting an unresolved trichotomy as showing a clade of sponges and ctenophores (now thoat would be weird!). And there are more recent studies than cited that resolve a nice Radiata clade of Cnidaria + Ctenophora.

  201. Lofty says

    Chas C Peterson

    Great read on this very subject: ‘Planet of Weeds’ by David Quammen (pdf).

    How low will we go (in species diversity) before the extinction rate drops back to “normal” levels? To be sure I won’t be around to observe the moment.

  202. ChasCPeterson says

    a clade of sponges and ctenophores…a nice Radiata clade of Cnidaria + Ctenophora.

    of course, talk about your long branches!

  203. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    Of all the bad things that can be said of Stalin’s character (genocidal, totalitarian, authoritarian, bad taste in facial hair, genocidal, spouse-abusing, genocidal), “thief” does not immediately come to mind. – Esteleth

    He raised money for the Bolshevik cause with a series of bank robberies.

    I’ve found the reference to “Nikolai Lenin” I half-remembered. It’s from Helen Rappaport’s Conspirator: Lenin in Exile, the Making of a Revolutionary, p.56 in the Windmill Books edition:

    But by early 1901, Ulyanov had taken up a new pseudonym that had gained favour within Iskra* as the year progressed.
    It had been January that year when he first wrote to Plekhanov in Zurich signing himself ‘Lenin’, and in December he published the first four chapters of a pamphlet on the agrarian question in Zarya under the same name. He favoured the name again in March 1902 when ‘What Is To Be Done’ appeared under the same pseudonym – N. Lenin, – the ‘N’ signifying literally “nothing”, but widely misunderstood in the West as representing the name Nikolay.

    * ‘The Spark’ – a Russian revolutionary exiles’ periodical.

  204. David Marjanović says

    have anal pores

    Oops, yes, wanted to mention that but forgot. Fixed it now.

    though this is probably not homologous to the complete gut of bilaterians, unless it is

    Wise words!

    seemed to interpret a phylogeny depicting an unresolved trichotomy as showing a clade of sponges and ctenophores

    No, I think he interprets the tree as having a trunk, so sponges and ctenophores “first branched off from the rest of the animal kingdom” – from that trunk. A common misconception.

  205. David Marjanović says

    He raised money for the Bolshevik cause with a series of bank robberies.

    I had no idea, but it sounds totally in character for him. :-D

    widely misunderstood in the West as representing the name Nikolay

    Oh!

  206. strange gods before me ॐ says

    dontpanic,

    Take care with this bit of well poisoning:

    It’s not that they have, but they will later. You’re fair game now.

    How is that well poisoning? I didn’t suggest that Ms. Daisy Cutter or Happiestsadist’s substantive arguments would be wrong because they are bullies. Indeed I argued against thumper’s substantive arguments, so there shouldn’t be any accidental implication. Lest there be any lingering confusion on your part, I’ll be explicit: sometimes their arguments are sound.

    But they are bullies with no regard for the Reset rule, they coordinate as a team (with the occasional backup from RahXephon), and new targets should be made aware of this. If they want to provide counterevidence, great, they can do so by declining to go out for rabbit season.

  207. Tethys says

    Stalin wanted more office space for himself and his staff. So he went into the building in the middle of the night and hung office signs.

    I suppose this does qualify as “theft.”~esteleth

    Ummmmm, forced collectivization of the Ukraine qualifies IMO.

    Many of those farms were owned by German immigrants. Nickel or Nick in German means devil, demon, satan.
    So calling him Nikolai is accurate in both languages.

  208. consciousness razor says

    Incidentally, consciousness razor, do you take the same line on esthetic judgements?

    Not all of them, but I don’t take that line on all ethical judgments either.

    So if I claim Chagall for a better artist than Picasso, there is some objective fact of the matter?

    A better artist for doing what? This is why I said I was only referring to what people should do, not anytime a value term gets thrown into the mix, so that it isn’t clear what the purpose of it is. (I can’t give an answer, nor can you, when we don’t know what the point of the statement is supposed to be.) If by that you meant something like “Picasso should’ve painted like Chagall,” then I’d ask your reasons for that and see where it goes. There may not be a fact of the matter, but it depends on what the goal would be in claiming Picasso should’ve done something differently.

    For example, suppose Picasso were a raging bigot who painted things which were hurtful to people, so you think it would be better for him to be like Chagall who didn’t do that sort of thing. (I use this so we won’t have to argue about whether raging bigots are generally not good.) There is a fact of the matter when it comes to that sort of judgment about their artwork, its value and its effects. It wouldn’t be simply “I don’t like Picasso’s work,” as an isolated aesthetic preference based on your personal experience of it, because it’s bound up with the context of the work and what it does to people/society. Of course, you might say that’s “obviously” ethical not aesthetic, but your aesthetic judgments could easily inform what makes it hurtful. If he painted demonizing caricatures of black people, it’d be your aesthetic experience of the painting which is responding to that, evaluating what it means and what place it has in the work, so that you can say whether or not he should do that (not to mention whether it accomplishes what the artist’s goal seems to be).

    No, because “better artist” is an inherently subjective judgement.

    You could say, “Picasso sold more pieces of art in his lifetime than Van Gogh,” because that is objectively true. Likewise, you could say, “Picasso’s Guernica was valued at $1.6 million a few years ago.”

    But “better” is subjective, unless you’re defining exactly what you mean by “better.”

    So you give reasons why we can’t assume “better artist” is inherently a subjective judgment, but your answer is still no, because you assume that anyway? Because you’re not defining exactly what you mean by “better”?

    Incidentally, my meta-meta-ethical view is that meta-ethics very often makes no practical difference – I’m far more likely to find it easy to work with someone who agrees with my ethics but disagrees with my meta-ethics than vice versa.

    Agreed, but I think it can make a practical difference when someone doing something you think is wrong (trying to use neutral language here) goes into some spiel about nihilism or relativism, about how you can’t tell them not to be a bigot because that’s just your opinion or because you’re being emotional or because that’s just how they were brought up or whatever. My point is just that you have to be very careful about what you mean by saying it’s subjective (or objective, I admit, with joey as a prime example), because people can believe all sorts of shit is acceptable, thinking you’d back them on it when you actually wouldn’t.

  209. cm's changeable moniker says

    Google Doodle. St David’s Day? Already?!

    I did see the first of this year’s daffs today yesterday, though.

    I guess we plod, snow-struck now and then, towards Spring. (And weeding. Bah.)

  210. carlie says

    and that, more specifically, many of those languishing in Myers’ dungeon

    Interesting. Do you think he or they realize that it’s not actually a metaphorical dungeon, but a metaphorical door that they’ve been metaphorically kicked out of, back into the whole wide metaphorical world? It’s only a metaphorical dungeon if they metaphorically sit there and pout rather than get off their metaphorical asses and go hang out ANYWHERE ELSE ON THE INTERNET.

  211. Esteleth, Ficus Putsch Knits says

    Consciousness razor,
    My argument is that you cannot say “x is better than y” unless better is rigorously defined.

    Better how?

    Is the “better” artist the one who was most productive? Sold the most? Made the most money? Produced the most works currently housed in world-renowned museums?

    The various statements I offered are not statements of better. They are statements of productivity, number of pieces sold, money earned, valuations of pieces, etc. Good is subjective, it is inherently so. Metrics like productivity, sales, earnings, etc are not statements of whether something is good, they are statements that they are perceived to be good.

  212. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @281. theophontes (坏蛋) :

    @ StevoR – “I don’t shame non-Westerners.”
    You appear to grock it with misogyny, but not with other forms of bigotry. Why is this? :/

    Well, as you might easily predict, I’d disagree with that premise.

    You imply that I’m somehow bigoted, I deny that.

    I treat people – I certainly consciously try to treat individual people – fairly and equally reagrdless of their gender, sexual orientation, ethincity etc…

    Have I *really* ever said or implied otherwise? If ‘yes’ then examples and citations please.

    Yes I disagree with and strongly oppose some ideologies and belief / value systems where these strongly conflict with my own (eg. the cultures that argue that women,trans* and non-hetero-normatives should be discriminated against & not treated equally and fairly, the idea that cultures that are riddled with anti-Semitism and seek to destroy other nations are ok,) but that’s not bigotry.

    I’m not claiming to be any sort of expert or anyone special here – just voicing my views. I’m really not a bad person or the strawmonster that some here have wrongly painted me as being. I’m NOT what some here accuse me of being. That I’m not perfect either I’m well aware of.

    PS. Just started reading backwards upstream through the Amazon river of comments here, already tired and drunkish and getting drunker as per usual, heading round to my brother’s place now so this’ll prob’ly be all from me for tonight my time. I will reply to others here later, please have patience with me.

  213. ChasCPeterson says

    Stevo, my guess is that most people around here aren’t really interested in your responses any more–if ever–because it’s always the exact same shit. Now sg is going to post those simple, straightforward, yes-or-no questions yet again because you won’t answer them and this annoys me too. Please quit with the nuh-uh nuh-uh asserted self-defense thing. It’s very tedious.

  214. ChasCPeterson says

    oops- I did not mean to link to IJoe’s blog, but rather to an earlier comment of his about being a ruff-tuff Marine who could really kick ass. That gives a wrong impression of my meaning.
    (I ‘ve never read his blog so I don’t know whether it’s dick-waving or not.)

  215. strange gods before me ॐ says

    StevoR,

    the idea that cultures that are riddled with anti-Semitism and seek to destroy other nations are ok

    1) strawperson

    2) please share your thoughts on http://www.jta.org/news/article/2010/10/18/2741341/rabbi-yosef-non-jews-exist-to-serve-jews

    +++++
    Chas,

    Now sg is going to post those simple, straightforward, yes-or-no questions yet again

    For your sake, I’ve been trying to limit that to once per page. Wait another another 140+ comments.

  216. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    consciousness razor,

    A better artist for doing what? This is why I said I was only referring to what people should do

    What people should do in order to achieve what? Is there not a clear parallel here? I agree that if it has already been specified what is desirable, or to be achieved, then there is indeed a fact of the matter about what they should do – but the same is true whether the goal is world peace, personal happiness, or the establishment of a theocracy.

    So you give reasons why we can’t assume “better artist” is inherently a subjective judgment, but your answer is still no, because you assume that anyway? Because you’re not defining exactly what you mean by “better”?

    First, Esteleth didn’t say selling more pieces made someone a better artist – rather, I interpret her as contrasting subjective and objective judgements. Second, I reiterate the point above: you’re not specifying what it is that makes one course of action rather than another, what people should do.

    My point is just that you have to be very careful about what you mean by saying it’s subjective (or objective, I admit, with joey as a prime example)

    Since my whole point is that this is a false dichotomy, I never say either with regard to moral judgements.

  217. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    I don’t know.

    I’m fucked up.

    (Not a reply. Haven’t read comments. Apologies.)

    ‘Spect most folks are. Me more’n’most maybe.

    G’night ‘yall.

  218. says

    @ StevoR

    Have I *really* ever said or implied otherwise? If ‘yes’ then examples and citations please.

    I must now scroll up this thread for the next half hour and then, upon presenting you with the evidence, you will then ignore my links and my following questions. SGBM has already done this for us. If you can link to your own responses to his questions, that would be great as we can all move forward.

    This is getting tedious.

  219. says

    @ John Morales
    I am responding to your comment in the lounge (link) wrt drones here rather, as the subject matter that I raise is unpleasant:

    I have been thinking a lot about drones lately. What would perhaps be more useful than flying drones (flying is cool but) is to set out lines/networks of intercommunicating drones. They could be super-cheap and solar powered, with low energy requirements as they seldom (if ever) need to fly.

    The way flying drones are deployed by the military, for example, is ridiculous. They work superbly for short periods of time, whereas all the rest of the time is gaps in the information stream. These gaps are lethal, as we see in places like Pakistan and Afghanistan.

    Gaps cause ill-informed and irresponsible deployment of the current drone systems with the effect that although the net effect is percieved by the military as effective, they are literally acts of terrorism by being in large part random and indiscriminate. This could (at least we can hope) be ameliorated with a constant awareness of the situation on the ground. It is the porousity of the current solution that allows militants to undertake attacks on unarmed civilians. It is the same porousity that causes the loss of civilian life through (criminally) poorly informed drone atacks by the ‘Merkins.

  220. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    Gaps cause ill-informed and irresponsible deployment of the current drone systems with the effect that although the net effect is percieved by the military as effective, they are literally acts of terrorism by being in large part random and indiscriminate. This could (at least we can hope) be ameliorated with a constant awareness of the situation on the ground. – theophontes

    The US military and political authorities don’t give a shit about Afghan civilian casualties other than from a PR viewpoint. Really, theophontes, your naivity is shocking.

  221. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    That’s the thing about dick waving, often it’s really fucking cold out there.

  222. consciousness razor says

    Good is subjective, it is inherently so.

    I see no argument for this, just an assertion. Just about every time I see anyone claim it, it’s accompanied with little or no argument. It’s apparently a fact people learned somewhere, but I must’ve missed that day in school.

    It’s frustrating. Not you in particular, but frustrating in general.

    Metrics like productivity, sales, earnings, etc are not statements of whether something is good, they are statements that they are perceived to be good.

    I’d say things like productivity, sales, earnings, etc. have nothing at all to do with whether or not an artwork is good as an artwork. Yes, there is that perception among some people; but in that case they’re not thinking about it in terms of its aesthetics (how it affects experience, of the work, oneself, maybe life in general), which is how they’d have to think about it if they’re going to say anything relevant about its aesthetic value.

    You can talk about the aesthetics of a landscape at sunset, for example, because that’s an experience you can have and can evaluate as an experience. You cannot talk about the aesthetics of some guy made lots of money, because there is no such thing. You’re presumably not concerned with the experience of making money (although I guess you could be, but that’s just weird), just with monetary value, which isn’t a kind of aesthetic value. And notice that the artwork has completely left the picture anyway — why are we talking about money or the guy who made the money, rather than the painting itself?

    ———

    What people should do in order to achieve what? Is there not a clear parallel here?

    Yes, there is. They’re both kinds of values.

    I agree that if it has already been specified what is desirable, or to be achieved, then there is indeed a fact of the matter about what they should do – but the same is true whether the goal is world peace, personal happiness, or the establishment of a theocracy.

    World peace? Well, I’m a pacifist, so I guess that would be nice. However, we can only do so much, and it’s unreasonable to claim we should do something we can’t. Theocracies rely on bad epistemology, so what constitutes that is an ethical issue in itself, but they’re factually wrong and can’t justify a belief in a supernatural being.

    I don’t think you’re doing anything like ethics if the goal is merely personal happiness, assuming that’s supposed to mean selfishness no matter what happens to anyone else. Perhaps if would be reasonable if paired with solipsism, but it’s similarly not a serious problem and not one most people entertain for any length of time anyway.

    We do at least need to have some baseline where “ethics” means something close to the way most people use it, although most people could be wrong about a lot of things. You can’t have a goal like “eating potato salad” and say that’s the fundamental good according to your ethical theory, not if you want anyone to take you seriously or to have any way of providing a reasonable justification for it. As far as I can tell, that’s an issue no matter what kind of meta-ethical view you have, unless you’re a hardcore nihilist (or a hardcore potato-salad-eater, I suppose). I mean, I don’t really see what would be the point in calling it ethics, if I were wasting my time contending with the potato-salad-eaters and their ilk. It might be a little funny, but that’s about it.

    Anyway, what sort of goals would you consider “ethical” and what sort of goals wouldn’t count? I’d say that if your goals aren’t more or less taking the welfare of sentient beings into consideration and trying to minimize how much they suffer, you’re not doing ethics.

  223. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    consciousness razor,

    Why is it you made no attempt whatever to answer this question;

    What people should do in order to achieve what?

  224. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    consciousness razor,
    To expand a bit: you are the one claiming that there is a fact of the matter about what people should do. Unless you can specify what they should be aiming to achieve, in terms considerably less vague and woolly than:

    taking the welfare of sentient beings into consideration and trying to minimize how much they suffer

    and then justify your answer, your claim can simply be dismissed as empty noise.

  225. consciousness razor says

    Why is it you made no attempt whatever to answer this question;

    What people should do in order to achieve what?

    I did answer it eventually:

    taking the welfare of sentient beings into consideration and trying to minimize how much they suffer

    The reason I say people “should” do something is in order for something like that to be achieved. People should do ethical things, and that’s basically the point of doing ethical things. That’s the goal.

    If your answer is substantially different, I’d like to hear it. And like I said, that seems like an issue for basically everyone. I get that you want to pick on a moral realist — I honestly don’t mind — but I don’t see how it’s relevant to whether ethical claims can be true or how it wouldn’t be an issue for you as well.

  226. consciousness razor says

    Unless you can specify what they should be aiming to achieve, in terms considerably less vague and woolly

    Just saw this. I’m not sure how to make it general enough to encompass all of ethics, yet specific enough to answer whatever your question is. If you want me to say “the point is that everyone aims to achieve X,” I don’t know what kind of X you’re looking for, if it isn’t something fairly vague.

  227. says

    @ Nick Gotts

    The US military and political authorities don’t give a shit about Afghan civilian casualties other than from a PR viewpoint. Really, theophontes, your naivity is shocking.

    As I indicated, their policy of engagement amounts to terrorism, as it is indiscriminate. I am well aware that the US cynically accepts large numbers of civilian casualties on the Afghan side. I do not dispute this. They get to take out the occassional militant, at no cost in American lives, then downplay and spin around the civilian death toll. At the same time the very intermittent nature of using aerial drones means that the militants still have ample opportunity to unleash their own violence on the Afghan (and, not forgetting, Pakistani) public.

    You point out the issue of public relations in this regard. It is disappointing and upsetting that this issue has so little traction in the media and in public dabates. The situation is currently immoral and ineffective. If I can point out why the drone policy is a failure in military (not just moral) terms then perhaps I have managed to make a tiny contribution to raising and contributing to the debate.

    Do I trust the US to act as the “Good Cop”? No, I can’t say that. The illigitimate means that they current endorse in these regions too strongly indicates otherwise. Part of the problem is that the US is prepared to “go it alone” without any support from the rest of the planet. In large part because no-one else is willing to cross that moral boundary and take up such a blunt and iniquitous weapon. What would happen if a means could be devised that could allow the prosecution of their legitimate goals (ie: of freeing such regions from militancy and terrorism) without impacting negatively on the civilian population?

  228. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    cr,

    I’m trying, so far unsuccessfully, to get to the basis of your claim that there is such a thing as objective morality, or a fact of the matter about what people should do (without first having specified what they are aiming to achieve). I’m not “picking on” a moral realist unless that covers trying to get a coherent account of how moral realism can be true, which you have thus far completely failed to provide, as has every moral realist with whom I have ever argued. Really, I’d be quite happy to be a moral realist if it could be shown that there are good reasons for believing the position to be true.

    You must be well aware that many people, now and in the past, do not accept that ethics should be based on:

    taking the welfare of sentient beings into consideration and trying to minimize how much they suffer

    Theists will often claim that ethics should be based on the will of God, Nazis and others would say it should be based on “the good of the race”. Even if we agree that the welfare of sentient beings is the goal, how do we weigh the interests of different kinds of sentient beings, or that of those living now with that of those who may do so in future. (Indeed, if your aim is simply to minimise suffering, it would surely be right to destroy the universe if that were possible.)

  229. thumper1990 says

    @SGBM #333

    Philosophical question: is Improbable Joe threatening someone?

    I’d say no, just expressing frustration. Even if he’d specified a target, i.e. “I’d love to punch you in the face”, that still wouldn’t be threatening because he’s merely expressing a desire to do so, rather than indicating actual intent to carry out the act, i.e. “I’m going to punch you in the face”. That would be threatening.

    So if applying the same phrase to a specific person isn’t threatening, I certainly don’t think applying it to some nameless group of “bullying assclowns” can be.

  230. thumper1990 says

    @SGBM #306

    So you’ll see behavior like this: an individual already considered fair game says something illogical, and so an otherwise fair response gets a gratuitous “dumbass” thrown in. Merely attacking the argument might not hurt the person by proxy, and commenting is far less intriguing when nobody gets hurt.

    Oh, that’ll be fun.

    I didn’t speak up to agree with you, only to point out that the personal attacks were unfair.

    Fair enough; sorry.

  231. ChasCPeterson says

    huh…seems I am no longer banned at Coyne’s.
    I regret saying otherwise (several times)…I swear I was for a while there! I tested!

  232. vaiyt says

    Do I trust the US to act as the “Good Cop”?

    Did they ever? American actions in Latin America alone is evidence that America always liked to play the Cowboy Cop.

  233. strange gods before me ॐ says

    I’m exhausted, so, for now, a repost.

    +++++
    I think I first mentioned this article [on TET] 31 December 2011; it may be useful in some discussions peripheral to recent topics.

    Contrary to the many accounts of the destructive effects of strong emotions, this article argues that the most serious problems facing the world are caused by a deficiency rather than an excess of emotions. It then shows how an evolutionary account of emotion can explain when and why such deficiencies occur.

    Reflecting on some of the most critical problems facing humanity at present, and drawing on an evolutionary perspective on emotion, I question whether the most pervasive and important problems associated with emotions may be characterized [by] an insufficiency of conscious emotions. Like the proverbial dog that didn’t bark, the absence of strong emotions doesn’t naturally come to mind as a major problem. Once one begins thinking along such lines, however, I believe the argument becomes compelling.

    http://emr.sagepub.com/content/2/3/234.abstract
    https://cdn.anonfiles.com/1361090085455.pdf
    http://www.cmu.edu/dietrich/sds/docs/loewenstein/InsufficientEmotion.pdf

    </foreshadowing>

  234. consciousness razor says

    Theists will often claim that ethics should be based on the will of God, Nazis and others would say it should be based on “the good of the race”.

    And they’re simply wrong about that. Those theists are wrong. Nazis are wrong. I don’t think I was ambiguous about that. Those kinds of things are not what ethics is about, despite their claims. Do I really have to go into depth debunking every other view? Or can you just consider the reasons I gave for my own and tell me what you think is unreasonable about them?

    Again: What do you think ethics is about? What alternative is there supposed to be? You clearly do care about ethics and engage in it (or something very close to it), so don’t you need to have some kind of answer too? If not, why not? If you think it’s relevant, then what’s your response to the Nazis, for example?

    Even if we agree that the welfare of sentient beings is the goal, how do we weigh the interests of different kinds of sentient beings, or that of those living now with that of those who may do so in future.

    That’s a tough issue, but that’s normative ethics for you. It didn’t say it’s easy to figure out in every case.

    (Indeed, if your aim is simply to minimise suffering, it would surely be right to destroy the universe if that were possible.)

    Surely not. First of all, it’s not possible, so it’d be unreasonable to say we should. The question is whether anyone’s action is causing the suffering or can reduce it, because if not, there’s no use in talking about what “should” happen.

    If it were possible, no one would benefit from the lack of suffering, which is why it completely misses the point. I think that should’ve been obvious, even though I didn’t make it explicit. Dead people or nonexistent people don’t benefit from anything. They have no interests to take into consideration. So that means there’s no reason to do that, because doing that wouldn’t be for anyone.

    It’s as if you thought I said “Have a headache? Don’t bother taking aspirin. I should kill you instead, because that will minimize all your suffering, all the way down to zero suffering. Because that’s what taking your interests into consideration must be like.” What makes you think I meant anything that ridiculous? I admit I didn’t give the most rigorous possible answers earlier (for one reason, because commenting here isn’t my job), but I think you could be just a little bit more charitable with your interpretations of them.

  235. consciousness razor says

    I fee like I have to add that I’m not in any way opposed to assisted suicide. That is taking someone’s (and their loved ones’) interests into consideration. I probably shouldn’t have to, because “destroy the universe” isn’t even remotely like assisted suicide, but there you have it, in case you were wondering or in case you thought that’s relevant to whether or not ethical claims can be true.

  236. broboxley OT says

    posting an interesting rant from FB
    by DRoss Lunsford
    Nothing could better describe the abject poverty of modern physical thought that Peter Woit’s latest blog entry, posted below – and remember, the guy Woit is discussing got a $3 million dollar prize to help him peddle his personal confusion! I find it very interesting that no army of Russian or Chinese spies could ever have weakened our political structure, but that it has crumbled from within, rotted to the core by the acts of self-styled “patriots” – while at the same time, a never-ending parade of mediocrities have corrupted the culture of science so much that it has become unrecognizable, and indistinguishable from a sort of cult.

    http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=5575

  237. drusillagorilla says

    From the Lounge:

    Niceness you say?
    Well, in that case I can really only post my comment to the Thunderdome.

    Yeah-heah!

    Let’s eat their insides .And make gloves from their pelts – so much more exclusive than calfskin. And door-stops from their bills! You know, honouring the animal by using their whole body. Any why not? As long as we take a pause to silently thank these little ones for their contribution, it’s all OK.

  238. John Morales says

    drusillagorilla, it’s certainly no worse than your pelt — or your organs.

  239. broboxley OT says

    while many may ardently disagree with the subject, the tech is neat

    While it may be easy to paint Wilson as a 2nd Amendment-touting conservative, the 25-year-old second-year law student at the Univeristy of Texas, Austin told Ars on Thursday that he’s actually a “crypto-anarchist.”

    “I believe in evading and disintermediating the state,” he said. “It seemed to be something we could build an organization around. Just like Bitcoin can circumvent financial mechanisms. This means you can make something that is contentious and politically important—not just a multicolored cookie cutter—but something important. It’s more about disintermediating some of these control schemes entirely and there’s increasingly little that you can do about it. That’s no longer a valid answer.”

    http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013/03/download-this-gun-3d-printed-semi-automatic-fires-over-600-rounds/

  240. joey says

    Nick Gotts:

    It won’t. If you’re completely aware that you’re committing intrinsically wrong acts and yet you willingly/gladly continue doing such things, then there is absolutely nothing that I could say that would help.

    Many people commit evil acts simply because they’re not aware or refuse to believe that what they’re doing is intrinsically wrong. If all morality is entirely subjective, then nothing can be intrinsically wrong…by definition. I’ll commit rape because I don’t think it’s wrong. I don’t believe this woman has value, so why treat her like she has value?

    Right, so you admit that even if you could convince everyone that there is such a thing as “intrinsic worth and rights”, or “objective morality”, it would make absolutely no practical difference…

    Um…where did I admit this? If you paid attention to the first paragraph of my quote, I stated that if one is aware an act is intrinsically wrong AND still willingly does it with that full awareness, then nothing would help.

    The reason I think the understanding of intrinsic worth/rights would make a practical difference is explained in the next and subsequent paragraphs. Many people treat others like garbage precisely because they’re not convinced these people have actual worth. Yet if they somehow get convinced these people are actual human beings with value (just like themselves), then it’s very possible they may reconsider treating them badly.

    Are you a parent? If you see your kid bullying another kid, wouldn’t you try to convince your kid that it’s wrong to do so? Or would you think it would make no practical difference?

    It is clearly not necessary to believe in an objective morality in order to follow a moral code…

    I never claimed this either.

    …and there is no evidence at all, as far as I am aware, that those who believe in objective morality behave any better (or worse) than those who do not.

    First of all, as I mentioned above it can make a difference whether one is convinced that something is wrong or not. Secondly, that really isn’t my main point. My main point is that intrinsic worth/rights exist, and many live their lives as if they do absolutely exist.

    I try to follow the code I do because other people will be better off if I do, and I am not a psychopath – I care about the interests and preferences of others.

    You’re not being fundamental enough. Why do you care about the interests and preferences of others to begin with, which would motivate you to do things that would make other people better off?

    ————————
    thumper:

    Yes, we can observe moral behavior in animals. But that doesn’t necessarily make animals moral beings.

    Exactly what criteria are required to designate something a “moral being” if not the exhibition of a moral code?

    As I said, observing moral behavior in a creature doesn’t necessarily mean the creature is a moral being. I consider a moral being simply as a being that is capable of having concepts of right and wrong (in the moral sense, of course).

    ————————–
    consciousness razor:

    Are you serious? Because if I get hungry enough I would have no qualms about killing cats and llamas (and maybe even robots) so that I could eat them.

    You’re seriously saying you would only have such qualms if they value themselves?

    Um…no. What I’m seriously saying is that I would have qualms about eating babies even though they can’t value themselves.

    Suppose they value themselves, but you don’t value them. Is that impossible?

    You’re still talking about cats and llamas, right? No, I don’t think it’s impossible, whatever “value themselves” actually means in those cases. Though, I don’t think it’s possible that cats and llamas value themselves precisely the same way and the same degree as humans value themselves.

    Is it somehow necessary that you must know and believe and accept exactly what other people think about themselves?

    Um…no. Where are you getting this?

    What I was saying, since I apparently have to repeat it, is that even if something (like a cat) can’t self-evaluate in whichever ways you think are necessary, that doesn’t imply it can’t suffer.

    And all I’ve been claiming is that a human being doesn’t need the ability of self-evaluation to have intrinsic value. And I never suggested that the ability to self-evaluate necessitates the capability of suffering.

    By the standard you’ve given so far, it would be okay to make something suffer, so long as it doesn’t think or care about itself the way you do, as an ordinary adult human being.

    And the straw men continue.

    And if the woman doesn’t value herself, then what? Should you no longer value her, so that you should be able to do whatever you want to her?

    I still have no idea where you come up with these straw positions. I’m going to be charitable here and just assume that you completely misunderstood me from the start. Let’s go back to my reply to sgbm in #56

    So at the very least, there is one type of intrinsic value: the valuing of the self by the self. -sgbm

    The problem with this notion of intrinsic value is that some people are simply incapable of valuing themselves, or are at least not sentient/self-aware enough to do so. Infants and some of the mentally disabled come to mind.

    …why do you think I responded the way I did? How can you arrive at the conclusion that I believe infants and the mentally disabled don’t have intrinsic value because they can’t value themselves?

    ————————–
    theophontes:

    We cannot be fully human in the complete absence of other humans. If you are raised by wolves what are you?

    A human being.

    In order to have a value we would need to have something or someone to find value. In the absence of another living creature this is impossible.

    Even a diamond ring has no value in an empty universe. Its (economic) value is also a social construct. It has no value until it is thus ordained by people (De Beers actually, but that is a long story).

    That’s basically another way of saying that human value is entirely subjective. If that’s the case, then the concept of human rights must also be entirely subjective. Rights don’t exist unless they are “ordained” by other people. If I think I have the right to live but the majority of society feel I do not, then do I legitimately have a right to life?

    Is it impossible for an atheist to believe in intrinsic value?

    In the hard sense (as opposed to a metaphorical sense, say), that you appear to subscribe to, I would think it highly unlikely they accept something metaphysical. On the other hand we are all capable of believing crap.

    Does the belief in inalienable/inviolable rights fit in your “crap” category?

    This is where I think you are going wrong. Dignity is something that is given. It is a construct of interaction between people. We cannot have this interaction without people.

    This is obviously where we fundamentally disagree. But given your description of dignity, do you think people should give people dignity? If so, then what would be the fundamental reason why you feel everyone should be doing so?

  241. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Joey the sophist idjit, still no evidence for your imaginary deity, or your mythical/fictional babble. Makes everything you say irrelevant until you provide the conclusive physical evidence for your fallacious presuppositions….

  242. chigau (違う) says

    I word ‘disintermediating’ is annoying.

    joey is boring.
    Really fucking boring.

  243. says

    @ vaiyt

    the Cowboy Cop

    Sadly they seem to have bought into this to the effect that it clouds their judgement. I don’t think any of these problems can be resolved with the current levels of machoism (even if less than in the Bush era) that are so clearly on display. And/or they are happy with the status quo in Northern Pakistan and Afghanistan. An interminable war they are quite happy to keep going. One they perhaps do not even intend to win. (There’s money in them thar hills!)

    @ joey

    A human being.

    The few cases where people have been raised by animals, it has not gone well. People cannot develop properly without other people and this is borne out in such examples. The children are usually severely mentally impaired and unable to interact properly with others ever after.

    (Check out Oxana Malaya, who was partially raised by dogs.)

    Rights don’t exist unless they are “ordained” by other people.

    Aaaah, you are starting to get it.

    If I think I have the right to live but the majority of society feel I do not, then do I legitimately have a right to life?

    In practical terms (and history more than bears this out) you do not have a “right to life” in such a case. We all may find this idea abhorent, but can only hold the concept of “right to life” as a goal, not as a given. A thing does not become true because we so desperately want to believe it.

    Does the belief in inalienable/inviolable rights fit in your “crap” category?

    Yes that would fit into the “crap” category if seen in absolute terms. These rights only become “inalienable/inviolable” if the society in question has the capacity and will to make it so. No more than that.

    But given your description of dignity, do you think people should give people dignity? If so, then what would be the fundamental reason why you feel everyone should be doing so?

    We should all grant each other (and expect of each other) a modicum of dignity. For what this holds, you can refer to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These are “rules of the game” we should hold to if we wish to see a just and humane society about us. History is replete with examples of what happens when societies do not have a universal standard of dignity for all their members.

    For example, look to the pain that has been caused in the USA by the withholding of the same standards of dignity for gay people as for cis people. Look further back to the days of institutionalised racism. These are the kinds of things that can be avoided. But only if societies at large grant them. (Note the negative role the religiously minded have played in both these examples. It is humans, not gods that ameliorate such indignities.)

  244. drusillagorilla says

    Trigger warning: Reference to domestic violence

    Chigau@370

    What are you on about?

    It was an outburst in response to PZ’s pic of two platypi at the Lounge. I thought it inappropriate for that setting. It is a response I often have to persons posting pictures of animals to connote niceness or cuddliness or cuteness or similar (maybe I’m off the mark with that interpretation?). I’ve never voiced it, until now. End of a long week.

    John Morales@367

    drusillagorilla, it’s certainly no worse than your pelt — or your organs.

    Despite not wishing to have my existence ended for the purpose of having my insides or outsides utilised in these ways, I agree with you.

    broboxley OT@368

    366 drusillagorilla poking fun at indigenous people again?

    I sincerely hope not – not now or ever. Do you have a link to the previous instance you are referring to? Because I have no idea what you mean.
    Next, are you going to ask me if I’m still beating my wife?

  245. drusillagorilla says

    broboxley OT@368

    If you were referring in this case to my use of the phrase ‘honouring the animal’:

    One of the reasons I hear (white, western privileged) people use to justify their use of animals is that it is OK as long as they give thanks to the animal ‘like Native Americans’, or make sure to ‘honour’ the animal by using as much of hir as possible. My reference is not to indigenous persons – that interpretation didn’t occur to me at the time of my comment, but I see it now. In the internet circles I more commonly inhabit the ‘honouring the animal’ is understood without explanation to mean white industrialised privileged persons seeming to model or appropriate a practice of indigenous persons. I can see how in this setting that would have been unclear – so my unreserved apology if this caused hurt to anyone reading.

    But apparently I’m mocking indigenous persons ‘again’? When was the last time? – because if anything else I’ve written is out there perpetuating microaggression, I’d like to deal with it ASAP.

  246. drusillagorilla says

    Nepenthe@377

    Wait, platypuses aren’t cute? What?

    Platypi are plenty cute. Like lambs and piglets and bobby calves and puppies. I just think they have more important attributes than their cuteness or similar. So seeing them objectified for their cuteness on a skeptical blog – or anywhere really – but particularly here, where other kinds of statements of objectification and privilege and so forth are so easily recognised (and eviscerated), makes me want to scream – so why do we fucking eat them and wear them then??? (not the platipii exactly – but what they represent, which is ‘cute’ animals).

    Why the outburst? This space is normally a relief for me to lurk in, as a feminist atheist skeptic, and the animal objectification stands out (to me) like a sore thumb. And today I was tired and said something about it – normally I wouldn’t.

  247. drusillagorilla says

    Chigau@379

    You’re new in these parts, neh?

    Yeah. New to commenting, semi-new to lurking. Came to Thunderdome from the Lounge because I thought I might transgress fewer rules here and hopefully cause less harm while I’m thrashing around in my own incompletely examined privilege while getting familiar with the specific etiquette of this site.

  248. Amphiox says

    But given your description of dignity, do you think people should give people dignity? If so, then what would be the fundamental reason why you feel everyone should be doing so?

    Gooey still perseverating with the absolutist thinking, I see. There are no “fundamental” reasons. Only relative ones.

    And the relative reason is simple. I want other people to treat me with dignity, and to treat the people I care about with dignity. And the best way to ensure that is to encourage everyone to treat everyone else with dignity.

    And to put in into even simpler practical terms, this is just a version of the Iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma, and mathematical modelling has demonstrated that the best strategies for that are either Generous Tit for Tat or Win Stay Lose Shift, and both those strategies begin with cooperation, ie, the first move is to treat others with dignity.

  249. chigau (違う) says

    … seeing them objectified for their cuteness on a skeptical blog…

    Nope.
    I still don’t get what you’re on about.

  250. Amphiox says

    These are “rules of the game” we should hold to if we wish to see a just and humane society about us.

    Indeed. Notice the IF. It is all relative to that IF.

    If on the other hand one desires a different kind of society, then treating all humans with dignity is not necessarily the way to go about it.

    The second key word here is WISH. What that means is there does not actually have to be any specific reason for wanting a just and humane society. Any and all reasons suffice equally, and every person is free to have whatever reason he or she so wishes. You could come to that desire by a rational analysis of a variety of utilitarian measures, or it could be for emotional reasons. Or it could be because it is dictated by your faith. Or it could even be a whim. IT DOES NOT MATTER. All that matters in practical reality is that you want it and you want it enough to be willing to act to make it so. Human rights, human dignity, all of it FOLLOWS from that decision to ACT. Without that decision to act, neither can exist.

  251. says

    @ Amphiox

    My guess is that joey simply does not want to believe that we, as mere humans, made up these rules by ourselves. Somewhere, above the clouds (“beyond the moon”?), there must be some Divinely Inscribed Tablet that sets these out clearly and with Authority ™ .

  252. says

    joey #372

    You’re not being fundamental enough. Why do you care about the interests and preferences of others to begin with, which would motivate you to do things that would make other people better off?

    It comes all down to my survival, and the survival of what is most important to me (genes). This includes my safety, contentment, and ability to flourish.

    On a fundamental level, everything we do is an effort to further our own aims. At the most fundamental level, our decisions, at the moment they are made, provide the least painful, most fulfilling, emotional release.

    I’ve always thought that the deepest flaw to most libertarian(political, lol) thinking, is not realizing that our own happiness is most assured when everyone else is happy, or safe and secure.

    “I’ve never seen a man with reason to raise his hand to another, who was happy.” (I can’t remember who said this, and of course, ‘person’ should be used instead of ‘man’)

  253. says

    I’ve never seen a man, who is happy, with reason to raise his hand against another.

    That’s sounds better!

  254. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    joey,

    Are you a parent? If you see your kid bullying another kid, wouldn’t you try to convince your kid that it’s wrong to do so? Or would you think it would make no practical difference?

    Stone me, but you;re stupid. Of course I would – but I wouldn’t start babbling about “intrinsic worth” because it’s just meaningless noise. Rather, I would draw on the capacity for empathy which all non-psychopaths have, trying to get my child to imagine what it would be like to be bullied. As it happens, I am a parent, I have never babbled to my son the sort of nonsense you spew, and he is a very considerate young man who has never been accused of hitting or bullying anyone.

    and there is no evidence at all, as far as I am aware, that those who believe in objective morality behave any better (or worse) than those who do not. – me

    First of all, as I mentioned above it can make a difference whether one is convinced that something is wrong or not. Secondly, that really isn’t my main point. My main point is that intrinsic worth/rights exist, and many live their lives as if they do absolutely exist.

    You have provided zero evidence that it can make a difference. In fact, we see that in times when belief in such things was practically unchallenged, slavery, religious persecution, the suppression of women, barbaric punishment for minor crimes end so on were also practically unchallenged. You have provided absolutely no argument for the existence of these “intrinsic worth/rights”, and it’s quite obvious that you can’t, or you would have done so.

    I try to follow the code I do because other people will be better off if I do, and I am not a psychopath – I care about the interests and preferences of others.

    You’re not being fundamental enough. Why do you care about the interests and preferences of others to begin with, which would motivate you to do things that would make other people better off?

    If that’s a causal why – how does it come about that I care about others – then the answer would be a complex one, involving evolutionary biology, cultural history, and my own biography. If it’s a request for further justification, none is either necessary or possible. If you need more than concern for the interests and preferences of others to motivate you to behave well towards them, you are a psychopath.

    It comes all down to my survival, and the survival of what is most important to me (genes). This includes my safety, contentment, and ability to flourish.

    On a fundamental level, everything we do is an effort to further our own aims. At the most fundamental level, our decisions, at the moment they are made, provide the least painful, most fulfilling, emotional release.- mikmik

    Well, apparently mikmik is completely selfish (or rather, has convinced xerself xe is), but I’m not and nor are most people.

  255. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    consciousness razor,

    Those theists are wrong. Nazis are wrong. I don’t think I was ambiguous about that.

    What made you think I was suggesting you were ambiguous?

    Those kinds of things are not what ethics is about, despite their claims. Do I really have to go into depth debunking every other view? Or can you just consider the reasons I gave for my own and tell me what you think is unreasonable about them?

    We’re arguing about meta-ethics, not ethics – on the latter I suspect our views are very close. On what grounds do you claim that “Those kinds of things are not what ethics is about”? Merely asserting that simply won’t do. My examples were not particularly well-chosen, as both theistic and Nazi views do involve false beliefs – that there is a god or a worldwide Jewish conspiracy – and it is certainly legitimate to criticise ethical stances on the grounds of inconsistency with the facts or internal contradiction – but let’s consider some other cases. There are people who would put the ability of human beings to spread beyond the earth as their highest priority, for example, and be willing to divert large-scale resources from reducing human suffering in the next few decades to the space programme. That view, I would say, is not obviously based on false beliefs about fact. It’s nevertheless one I disagree with, but I can’t see how it could be the case that the judgement they make is objectively wrong. Again, I saw a news item yesterday about a campaign to exterminate rats on Southern Georgia, in the interests of conserving native species. I support this, even though I’m sorry for the rats, but many animal rights activists would oppose it, and to do so, need not hold any factual beliefs I would regard as false. Again, how can it be the case that either side is objectively wrong? Where could the objective facts that would make this so be hiding? What sort of facts would they be?

    Even if we agree that the welfare of sentient beings is the goal, how do we weigh the interests of different kinds of sentient beings, or that of those living now with that of those who may do so in future.

    That’s a tough issue, but that’s normative ethics for you. It didn’t say it’s easy to figure out in every case.

    You’re begging the question. The issue is whether there can be objectively correct answers at all, not just that they are hard to find. You have given no argument whatsoever for supposing that there are such answers – you’ve simply asserted it repeatedly, just like joey with his “intrinsic rights/worth”.

    What do you think ethics is about? What alternative is there supposed to be? You clearly do care about ethics and engage in it (or something very close to it), so don’t you need to have some kind of answer too? If not, why not? If you think it’s relevant, then what’s your response to the Nazis, for example?

    Of course I have answers – although not simple ones. Yes, I base my ethical judgements on the interests and preferences of sentient beings, but I don’t fool myself that these criteria are in any sense objectively the correct ones. You seem here to be falling into exactly the same error as joey, thinking that if I don’t claim my ethics to be objectively correct, I can’t care passionately about them and strive to uphold them. Which is simply false. My response to the Nazis is to oppose them. I might try to demonstrate the falsehood of some of their factual claims, I might try to engage their empathy (individual Nazis sometimes do abandon their vile values as a result of some experience of empathy, e.g. Ray Hill), but I can’t demonstrate the falsehood of the underlying attitude that it is right for the strong to exercise unlimited power over the weak, because it’s a matter of value, not fact, and hence is neither true nor false.

  256. says

    It comes all down to my survival, and the survival of what is most important to me (genes). This includes my safety, contentment, and ability to flourish.
    On a fundamental level, everything we do is an effort to further our own aims. At the most fundamental level, our decisions, at the moment they are made, provide the least painful, most fulfilling, emotional release.- mikmik

    Well, apparently mikmik is completely selfish (or rather, has convinced xerself xe is), but I’m not and nor are most people.

    Explain

  257. says

    Question for Nick Gotts (formerly KG):
    What single thing, the very last in a chain of events leading up to it, causes us to act on a decision? I mean, on a fundamental level.
    Answer: Emotional pay-off.

    Do we not choose the most satisfactory option any time we decide something? That is referenced with our values. If we are altruistic, it is because we value others’ well being. Why? That is the fundamental part I wish you would address. Why do we value other’s well being and satisfaction? Because we feel good about caring for others, when we show compassion.

    If a person operates at a fundamental level by not choosing actions that are the most personally fulfilling, then they are either deluded about what they are thinking, or drifting into the deep outer regions of irrationality. I think.

  258. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    mikmik,

    You’ve said yourself that:

    It comes all down to my survival, and the survival of what is most important to me (genes)

    That’s an expression of complete selfishness. I don’t believe it, of course, but many people have been persuaded by neoclassical economists’ rhetoric that everyone is really completely self-interested*, so they come up with absurdly convoluted reasons to be nice to other people, when the simple fact is that most people do care about others for their own sake, and are not completely self-interested. Suppose you could ensure yourself an extra day of life, or the enhanced survival of your genes, by allowing someone you don’t know to be tortured to death – secure in the knowledge that no-one would ever know, and that your own memory of doing so would be wiped. Would you do so? I certainly wouldn’t.

    Incidentally, why do you care about the survival of your genes? How does it benefit you?

    *The point of this rhetoric is to obscure the distinction between people who really are wholly selfish, and those who are not, and thus remove any ethical grounds for criticising capitalism’s promotion of unlimited greed.

  259. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    Further to #396, neoclassical rhetoric employs what I call the “neoclassical shuffle”. It is trivially true that, when we act deliberately at all (rather than out of reflex or mere habit):

    On a fundamental level, everything we do is an effort to further our own aims.

    That’s just what it means to act deliberately. However, these “aims” may include the good of others, without any consideration of how this benefits the self. Neoclassical economists’ models generally make the assumption of complete selfishness – and the assumptions that everyone assumes this of each other, assumes that everyone else assumes it, etc.. If challenged on this, on the grounds that people observably do sometimes act in very unselfish ways – by sacrificing their lives for others, for example – they retreat to the position that what they mean is that we always pursue our own aims, and there’s nothing in their view that rules out these aims being altruistic – but in fact, their models usually break down if this is permitted, because they depend on individuals knowing each others’ motivation, so as soon as you’re not looking, they revert to the assumption of complete selfishness.

  260. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    mikmik,

    What single thing, the very last in a chain of events leading up to it, causes us to act on a decision? I mean, on a fundamental level.
    Answer: Emotional pay-off.

    How do you think you know that? In fact, it’s almost trivially false, because the “very last thing” that causes us to act is the passage of electrochemical impulses along peripheral motor nerves. More generally, there is no reason at all to suppose that we have some kind of reliable internal calculator of what will make us feel best, let alone that we always rely on it in making decisions. Over what timespan would the calculation be made? How? How could such a system have evolved? Always making decisions on those grounds would be extremely dangerous.

    Why do we value other’s well being and satisfaction? Because we feel good about caring for others, when we show compassion.

    Dear me, you have drunk the neoclassical Kool-Aid. Certainly it’s part of the answer, but the assertion that it’s the whole answer is sheer dogmatism. Consider the impulse to help someone in an emergency, for example, which sometimes leads people to risk their own lives by dashing back into a burning building to get someone they don’t know out. Do you really think they calculate how much of a buzz they will get from feeling virtuous, and decide it’s worth more to them than avoiding the risk of death or permanent disability?

    If a person operates at a fundamental level by not choosing actions that are the most personally fulfilling, then they are either deluded about what they are thinking, or drifting into the deep outer regions of irrationality. I think.

    You’re wrong. There is nothing irrational about holding the good of others as a top-level goal. You are simply equating rationality with selfishness, in the typical neoclassical fashion, but there is no justification for so doing.

  261. says

    Nick Gotts, WHY are people altruistic? I care deeply about others, and I get criticized for thinking of others too much. Fuck the critics. I am proud of my loyalty to helping others to the point that it makes some observers uncomfortable. I value helping others very, very deeply(Kruger-Dunning warning lol). If I notice that I am spending too much money on material things for myself, I feel bad, and then I give money to Oxfam and Save the Children.
    This takes us into Ev-psych territory, and I surmise that it harks back to our security that comes from co-operation and helping those close to us. If someone valuable to us gets injured, it is practical to help them and care them back to health. We may care about them because they are a leader that inspires and provides critical decision making for our group, or anyone. This probably applies to primate groups long before there were Homo sapiens, but this is all basic group selection talk.

    In the here and now, it sure seems to me that every decision I make is the one that is the most fulfilling – to me. I don’t choose to do things I wish I wasn’t going to do in the face of options that make more sense, and that I desire to happen. My actions are voluntary. My volition is instigated by choices that I want to choose. I WANT TO MAKE THOSE CHOICES TO HELP AND CARE ABOUT OTHERS. That is what I mean by saying that ultimately I am only doing what I fucking well feel like doing, LOL.

    *Pure capitalists/free market proponents, are fucking short sighted – at best! They seem to lack the ability to abstract the consequences of greed, which is an inappropriately developed sense of wealth acquisition, not realizing that that wealth is going to be meaningless if the future of society is not secure.

  262. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    Interestingly, mikmik, when he was pretending to be an atheist, joey took exactly the line you are taking, arguing that it would be rational to have his own child tortured if the reward for him was a life of bliss in a virtual reality where he wouldn’t know that he had made that decision. I eventually got him to admit that he would not in fact do so, although he continued to claim, IIRC, that the decision not to do so would be irrational. Would you do so? Would it be rational to do so?

  263. says

    Over what timespan would the calculation be made? How? How could such a system have evolved? Always making decisions on those grounds would be extremely dangerous.

    What induces us to act? Ever? Our emotions. That is how we tell what we want to do. It is the emotional response.
    I agree that unhindered and impulsive decisions are dangerous. I’m an ex junkie, I know all about that shit, lol.
    But yes, I think it comes down to instincts. If there is a traffic accident in front of us, don’t we wonder if anyone is hurt, and strive to find out, and help? Without even thinking about it? Generally, I mean, some people are selfish and think only of their own safety. However, because society is such a cushion against primitive conditions, people are able to be so self centered that they are useless to us humans(snarky much? lol) precisely because of the overall compassion of society’s morals.

    I really think we agree, I am just talking about the millisecond time frame when we begin an action. But overall, I am just saying that it it always comes down to an emotional response at the most fundamental level, on top of this tricky-pedia bit:

    In psychology, philosophy, and their many subsets, emotion is the generic term for subjective, conscious experience that is characterized primarily by psychophysiological expressions, biological reactions, and mental states. Emotion is often associated and considered reciprocally influential with mood, temperament, personality, disposition, and motivation,[citation needed] as well as influenced by hormones and neurotransmitters such as dopamine, noradrenaline, serotonin, oxytocin and cortisol. Emotion is *often the driving force behind motivation, positive or negative

    * I think it always is. Proper reasoning is what brings us to the point of activity, or behavior.

    There are three ‘fundamental’ levels going on: the chemical in our physical brain operation; the subconscious; the thinking, conscious part of choosing how to act. I believe that the three are all just parts of the same process and happen in concert.

    I still think that we only choose the option, to act in the manner, that is most preferable, TO OURSELF.

  264. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    mikmik,

    If you’re asking a causal question about why people are altruistic, then yes, the answer is rooted in our evolutionary history; and there are a number of possible explanations of altruism in those terms. But there is no reason to suppose that this requires the evolution of the sort of internal calculator of what will provide the most emotional satisfaction that you are assuming must exist, nor that such a thing is even possible.

    In the here and now, it sure seems to me that every decision I make is the one that is the most fulfilling – to me. I don’t choose to do things I wish I wasn’t going to do in the face of options that make more sense, and that I desire to happen.

    In the first case, neither you nor anyone else is a reliable introspecter – what “seems to you” to be the case about your internal workings is not necessarily actually the case. The syntax of the second sentence I quote is so mangled I’m not sure what you mean, but do you never take a decision reluctantly, because rational calculation indicates it will serve some goal you hold or is in line with some principle you adhere to, even though your emotions are pushing you in the opposite direction? If so, I’d avoid any close involvement with you like the plague, because you’re dangerous to yourself and others.

  265. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    mikmik,

    If there is a traffic accident in front of us, don’t we wonder if anyone is hurt, and strive to find out, and help? Without even thinking about it?,/blockquote>

    Exactly: we are not calculating, consciously or unconsciously, what will give us most emotional payoff; we are thinking: “Fuck, I hope that guy’s OK, how can I help?”

    I really think we agree,/blockquote>

    Then I wish you’d start trying to understand what I’m saying, because we most certainly don’t.

    I am just talking about the millisecond time frame when we begin an action.

    There is no such timeframe: Libet’s experiments indicate that motor impulses precede the awareness of a decision to act by tens of milliseconds.

    Emotion is *often the driving force behind motivation, positive or negative

    * I think it always is.

    So your own quote contradicts your view, for which you have given no evidence.

    I still think that we only choose the option, to act in the manner, that is most preferable, TO OURSELF.

    Again, just as with the neoclassical shuffle, this has two meanings, one trivially true – that we always take the decision we take – and one false – that we always take the decision that makes us feels best.

  266. mildlymagnificent says

    Why do we value other’s well being and satisfaction? Because we feel good about caring for others, when we show compassion.

    I very much disagree with this notion. It’s just plain silly to think that there’s anything but the remotest hope of personal satisfaction – at some indeterminate, unknown time – when carrying out projects arising from a sense of duty or commitment. Let alone those events of urgency and instant action diving into flooded waters or returning to dangerous fires, mines or earthquake sites.

    We know these altruistic impulses are held by the vast majority of people because emergency service operators have to give public service announcements telling people that the best way for them to help is to a) stay out of the way and/or b) go to specific places to get the equipment and advice needed to be effective in helping others. The sense of duty or obligation or other form of commitment for other people involved in helping refugees or other people in need, in setting up refuges for women or children subjected to violence, or in unions organising membership or representing members’ interests is a bit different because of the chronic stresses and personal difficulties – including risks of violence. But people still do these things – often for little or no financial reward.

    I think Nick Gotts (formerly KG) gets it right.

    There is nothing irrational about holding the good of others as a top-level goal. You are simply equating rationality with selfishness, in the typical neoclassical fashion, but there is no justification for so doing.

  267. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    Ow. Sorry about that. Repost:

    If there is a traffic accident in front of us, don’t we wonder if anyone is hurt, and strive to find out, and help? Without even thinking about it?

    Exactly: we are not calculating, consciously or unconsciously, what will give us most emotional payoff; we are thinking: “Fuck, I hope that guy’s OK, how can I help?”

    I really think we agree

    Then I wish you’d start trying to understand what I’m saying, because we most certainly don’t.

    I am just talking about the millisecond time frame when we begin an action.

    There is no such timeframe: Libet’s experiments indicate that motor impulses precede the awareness of a decision to act by tens of milliseconds.

    Emotion is *often the driving force behind motivation, positive or negative

    * I think it always is.

    So your own quote contradicts your view, for which you have still given no evidence.

    I still think that we only choose the option, to act in the manner, that is most preferable, TO OURSELF.

    Again, just as with the neoclassical shuffle, this has two meanings, one trivially true – that we always take the decision we take – and one false – that we always take the decision that makes us feels best.

  268. says

    Googling the concept of absolutes in the xtian blogosphere, I can see where this fixation comes from. Granting absolutes somehow *Shazam*’s GAWD into existence. (The god of semantics/circular logic at least.)
    Conversely “subjectivism” is poisonous to deities. And by extension godbots.

  269. broboxley OT says

    drusillagorilla okay, that seems reasonable. The reason I mentioned “again” is usually folks of that bent that post it is not their first time?

    Question about auto accidents and willingness to help, wonder if they are hurt. I wonder if that is a western trait.
    In many cultures the process is “fuck, lets get out of here! We could be arrested attacked or kept as a witness and sued!”

  270. Nepenthe says

    @Rev BDC

    *fidgets* *holds breath* *commences hand flapping* VENOMOUS! Not poisonous! Venomous!

    Sorry, I tried not to.

    I still think that the platypus is an elaborate hoax. No real animal could look that… wrong.

  271. consciousness razor says

    Yes, I base my ethical judgements on the interests and preferences of sentient beings, but I don’t fool myself that these criteria are in any sense objectively the correct ones.

    I didn’t mean to suggest those are supposed to be “criteria” which are particularly useful for evaluating normative claims. That’s simply what ethics is about, what it means. I’m not saying that by itself is supposed to give you all the answers. If you claimed “it’s about my personal happiness” or “it’s about eating potato salad,” you’re definitely wrong; but otherwise, it doesn’t need to imply everything you could ever want to know about ethics.

    Why am I talking about that? Because you asked this vague question about what “should do” is intended to achieve. So I answered with that, which I think gives a fairly accurate description of what ethics is for. I don’t consider that some “ultimate goal” in a grand, cosmic scheme I have to make everything right in the end. It’s just a very rough definition of what the subject is. So if we’re basically on the same page about that, I’m pretty sure there’s not much to argue about on that front.

    You seem here to be falling into exactly the same error as joey, thinking that if I don’t claim my ethics to be objectively correct, I can’t care passionately about them and strive to uphold them.

    That’s not even close to anything I’ve said, whether or not it seems that way to you. In fact, I said you do seem to care about ethics, and I meant it. Joey can go fuck himself for all I care. You and I have gotten along fine for quite some time, as far as I’m concerned. I wouldn’t have this discussion with you if I thought you didn’t really care about ethics and just wanted to troll me (or whatever the point would be), because it’d be a waste of my time and because I’d think you’re total scum. But I don’t think either of those things.

    You know, you’ve been raising all sorts of different issues, one right after another. I don’t see how any of them are relevant to whether or not the type of claim it is can be true or false. It may just be my fault, but it’s hard to figure out how you think one thing is supposed to connect to another. You’d only need to have one argument anyway. But this bit does finally look like it’s approaching the subject, even though it’s just an assertion:

    but I can’t demonstrate the falsehood of the underlying attitude that it is right for the strong to exercise unlimited power over the weak, because it’s a matter of value, not fact, and hence is neither true nor false.

    Maybe you could explain which value it is that leads you to oppose it anyway, then explain why you think it isn’t true that yours is a good value to have (which is distinct from the only good value, or the very best one ever, or about which nobody could possibly claim the opposite). This may not be an ideal example for you again, because it’s not clear to me that there’s no factual issue with categories like “the strong” and “the weak.” But I could just ignore that too, if it doesn’t make a difference to your argument.

  272. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    Maybe you could explain which value it is that leads you to oppose it anyway, then explain why you think it isn’t true that yours is a good value to have – cr

    Concern for the interests and preferences of others. Something can only be assessed as a “good value” given the acceptance of that value, or a related one. Thus concern for the interests and preferences of others is a value I want people (including myself) to hold, because a person holding it is more likely to behave in a way that takes into account the interests and preferences of others. But of course I want them to behave in such a way only because I do in fact hold that value.

    If you want, you could say it’s true that it is a good value within the context of my system of values, but it isn’t within (say) a Nietzschian value system (if I understand the latter correctly – I only have second-hand knowledge of Nietzsche). Rather* as a particular statement in first-order predicate calculus may be true within the context of one theory, and false within that of another. So conditional statements of the form:

    If you accept value V, then you should do X.

    can certainly be true. But these are little different in logical form from other conditional imperatives such as:

    If you want to get rich, buy cheap and sell dear.

    It’s when you want to say that V is “a good value to hold” without giving a context that already assumes commitment to some value that I say your claim is neither true nor false, just as, if I say:

    forall x, A(x) or B(x)

    it is neither true nor false because I haven’t specified the theory within which I’m working.

    Now, I will repeat once again my request that you explain how it is, in your view, that such a statement as “concern for others is a good value to hold” or “you should take into account the interests and preferences of others” can be assigned a truth value without already assuming commitment either to that value, or some logically related value. You have repeatedly failed even to attempt an answer, and as far as I recall, most of the points I’m making have been attempts to get you to do so. Why won’t you? Can there be any other reason, other than that you don’t have an answer?

    *I don’t want to overstress the mathematical analogy, because I don’t believe that many, if any people reason to their moral judgments from a fixed set of ethical axioms; rather, we start from intuition and specific ethical questions, and formulate general principles later, if at all.

  273. says

    strange gods before me
    2 March 2013 at 5:42 am
    mikmik,
    Your trolling is grotesque and I have lost respect for you.

    Eh? What I said was in the article. WTF is your problem, anyways. If you have something worthwhile to contribute, I’m all for it.
    Personally, I am trying to understand how others see their decision making process. What are you all about today?
    – - -

    Ow. Sorry about that. Repost:

    If there is a traffic accident in front of us, don’t we wonder if anyone is hurt, and strive to find out, and help? Without even thinking about it?

    Exactly: we are not calculating, consciously or unconsciously, what will give us most emotional payoff; we are thinking: “Fuck, I hope that guy’s OK, how can I help?”

    Well, that’s an unconscious reaction, isn’t it? And, now listen carefully(wink), this is my point. You have an immediate and extremely strong emotional reaction, and if you don’t go help, – let’s put it this way: How do you feel if you don’t help, and does that make you want to help. The initial unconscious, instinctual reaction has passed, so what motivates you to help, or not?
    Look, I already know you are wrong about emotions not being the final arbiter on our actions. Our emotions can, and are, reactions to our thoughts.
    You say I am not trying to understand you. I am trying to understand you, and so far, you seem to think that out emotions do not play a part in our behavior. Is this right? I think that’s partially right, at least, for you.
    You don’t think that our emotions play any part as incentive to act in split second situations/time frames. Is this correct?
    -

    I really think we agree

    Then I wish you’d start trying to understand what I’m saying, because we most certainly don’t.

    I wish you’d understand that it seems to me that it is you that is not putting forth much of an effort to understand. I can tell by your abrupt insults and write-offs, and your inclination to use totally refuted conclusions from Libet, for starters.
    Also, claims that “you don’t understand” are big red flags for ingenuous and shallow thinking. WTF exactly am I not understanding, and how would be able to know whether I am trying or not? I am refuting your points, trying to clarify mine, and you are what…
    -

    I am just talking about the millisecond time frame when we begin an action.

    There is no such timeframe: Libet’s experiments indicate that motor impulses precede the awareness of a decision to act by tens of milliseconds.

    So, let me get this straight. Firstly, you talking about self reports based on milliseconds, which you take as valid, while saying that we don’t operate on millisecond time frames.
    See, I think I am starting to get why there is a problem here. That is that you think I think that we consciously and methodically ruminate before every action we take. In fact, I said these things work in concert, at the same time. A person can consciously override the initiation of an action after it has begun, and if, for some reason, you are not aware of the faults with Libbet’s MRI studies, here is the criticism.
    Now, if this is correct:

    For Libet, these subjective referrals would appear to be purely a mental function with no corresponding neural basis in the brain. Indeed this suggestion can be more broadly generalized:

    The transformation from neuronal patterns to a subjective representation would appear to develop in a mental sphere that has emerged from that neuronal pattern. [...] My view of mental subjective function is that it is an emergent property of appropriate brain functions. The conscious mental cannot exist without the brain processes that give rise to it. However, having emerged from brain activities as a unique ‘property’ of that physical system, the mental can exhibit phenomena not evident in the neural brain that produced it

    So, what I surmise from this, is that our consciousness is a reflection of what actually happens in our brain. This means that the chemicals and neural activity that induce action, are seen as conscious evaluation, and emotions. In fact, and this is a major criticism of mine against determinism/no free will, why the fuck do we need to experience emotions in the first place then????
    We all agree that emotional, impulsive actions are irrational, so what the fuck do we have emotions for, if not to initiate desire to act?
    Whether conscious thought comes first or not, the chemicals etc. that occur in the brain, what we perceive as emotions and thought, still determine our decisions to act!

    That’s the fucking immediate, momentary, instantaneous like time frame. Now what about longer term? When you insist on being condescending, are you doing it because it is the logical thing to do, or because you are miffed?! You want to try telling me that emotion doesn’t drive our behavior, or decisions to act, FOR FUCKS SAKE?

    You still have not addressed my example of guilt driving my decision to make donations to charity. Is there something wrong with that example so far? Is trying to avoid a negative feeling self centered, or what? Being charitable – desiring to help people – may arise with, or without, thought, but how do you, Chris, how do you know when you are being altruistic, or not. In your own mind, before you decide to act. How do you know, ex-KG(I like it!), you WANT TO act.

    Want to. You want to act. That is the selfish bit. You want to, because it satisfies an emotional need you have, that of addressing a situation in a compassionate matter. You feel better afterwards. Psychotic a-socials don’t have any imperative to act a certain way because they get no emotional distress or satisfaction from doing, or not doing, things for others.
    But that is why we act, because we know, through our emotions, when we have done the correct thing by helping someone without expectation of any reward whatsoever.
    It is OUR EMOTIONS that tell us what to do, that provide the feedback we need to make decisions, and..
    it is because of our emotional state that we act in altruistic manners. Ours.

    We care because we have emotions, and those personal, subjective, emotional states must be satisfied, or how else would we know we care or not?
    -

    Emotion is *often the driving force behind motivation, positive or negative

    * I think it always is.

    So your own quote contradicts your view, for which you have still given no evidence.

    What was that you said before you spoke? LOL

    I still think that we only choose the option, to act in the manner, that is most preferable, TO OURSELF.

    Again, just as with the neoclassical shuffle, this has two meanings, one trivially true – that we always take the decision we take – and one false – that we always take the decision that makes us feels best.

    Trivial. False. Whatever.

    PDF: Does emotion mediate the relationship between an action’s moral status and its intentional status? Neuropsychological evidence*

  274. broboxley OT says

    mikmik #413

    If there is a traffic accident in front of us, don’t we wonder if anyone is hurt, and strive to find out, and help? Without even thinking about it?

    Exactly: we are not calculating, consciously or unconsciously, what will give us most emotional payoff; we are thinking: “Fuck, I hope that guy’s OK, how can I help?”

    if you were in mumbai your subconcious should be “fuck, get away from here as fast as possible” or if you are in an accident in mumbai get out and run away as fast as you can. Emotional states are driven by nature and are not inherently moral

  275. Amphiox says

    My guess is that joey simply does not want to believe that we, as mere humans, made up these rules by ourselves.

    And of course, even we didn’t actually “make up” many of these rules. A lot of them evolved in our lineage long before we attained the capacity to make up rules of any kind. And then we added to, codified, modified, and extended those evolved tendencies once we gained the ability to do so.

    But there is no reason to suppose that this requires the evolution of the sort of internal calculator of what will provide the most emotional satisfaction that you are assuming must exist, nor that such a thing is even possible.

    To produce altruistic cooperation the internal calculators don’t have to be anywhere near that sophisticated. Game theory pretty convincing demonstrates that you only need very basic strategies that follow very simple, probabilistic rules of thumb. And when you think about it, that is exactly how our emotions work in real life. They don’t “make” us do anything. But feeling a particular emotion increases the probability that we will behave in a particular subset of ways, relative to how strongly we are feeling that emotion and the external circumstances in which we find ourselves.

  276. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    mikmik

    You have an immediate and extremely strong emotional reaction, and if you don’t go help, – let’s put it this way: How do you feel if you don’t help, and does that make you want to help. The initial unconscious, instinctual reaction has passed, so what motivates you to help, or not?

    You’re missing the point: the immediate emotional reaction, which I agree in this case motivates you to help, does not concern the emotional payoff for you, but the fact that someone else is in danger – i.e., it’s as far as we can tell, altruistic. Certainly in some cases the feeling of shame can also motivate; but you are the one dogmatically insisting that self-referential emotions are always the determining factor.

    Look, I already know you are wrong about emotions not being the final arbiter on our actions.

    No, you don’t. You think this is (always) the case, but have given no evidence that it actually is.

    You say I am not trying to understand you. I am trying to understand you, and so far, you seem to think that out emotions do not play a part in our behavior.

    Where did you get that from? I am arguing against your dogmatic and unevidenced insistence that self-referential emotional reactions always determine action.

    WTF exactly am I not understanding

    How should I know? I deduce that you are not, because you think we agree, when clearly we don’t: I think altruism is sometimes real, you think it’s always, at bottom, selfish – or alternatively, always should be, on pain of delusion or irrationality, as you say @395.

    We all agree that emotional, impulsive actions are irrational, so what the fuck do we have emotions for, if not to initiate desire to act?
    Whether conscious thought comes first or not, the chemicals etc. that occur in the brain, what we perceive as emotions and thought, still determine our decisions to act!

    So when I put one foot in front of another when walking, you think I need emotion or thought in order to initiate that act?

    That’s the fucking immediate, momentary, instantaneous like time frame.

    Decisions to act are not momentary or instantaneous. They appear to take place over hundreds of milliseconds, not milliseconds, and this is so whatever the precise interpretation of Libet’s experiments, which are most certainly not “wholly refuted”, although it’s quite true their interpretation is disputed. Dennett’s conclusion is that we have to abandon the idea that there is a precise time we become aware of something (such as a decision).

    See, I think I am starting to get why there is a problem here. That is that you think I think that we consciously and methodically ruminate before every action we take.

    Where do you get that from? I’ve said, and believe, no such thing.

    You don’t think that our emotions play any part as incentive to act in split second situations/time frames. Is this correct?

    Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t – again, it’s you who dogmatically insists that every action is initiated in the same way. If you see something coming towards your eye, you will blink – and that’s much too fast a reaction to depend on an emotional response. Other times the actions you initiate are pure habit, as when I turn to lock the door after going out – again, no emotion or thought involved.

    You still have not addressed my example of guilt driving my decision to make donations to charity. Is there something wrong with that example so far? Is trying to avoid a negative feeling self centered, or what?

    Yes, obviously.

    Being charitable – desiring to help people – may arise with, or without, thought, but how do you, Chris, how do you know when you are being altruistic, or not.

    Who is this Chris of whom you speak? But I, Nick, don’t have complete access to my motivations any more than you do. My position is not based on introspection.

    it is because of our emotional state that we act in altruistic manners.

    Sometimes it is. Sometimes not. We may do so purely because we think we ought to, in terms of some principle we hold; we may do so from habit.

    I still think that we only choose the option, to act in the manner, that is most preferable, TO OURSELF.

    Again, just as with the neoclassical shuffle, this has two meanings, one trivially true – that we always take the decision we take – and one false – that we always take the decision that makes us feels best.

    Trivial. False. Whatever.

    So you’re admitting that your claim is trivial or false, depending on how it is interpreted? That’s what I’ve been arguing all along.

    Finally, what makes you think the study you link to supports your position? It’s about how person A’s emotion toward person B affects (or not) their attribution of intention to person B. Here’s the final paragraph;

    Based on neuropsychological evidence, this study demonstrates that
    asymmetric intentional attributions emerge despite dysfunctional emotional
    processing. The finding thus refutes the strong hypothesis that the
    asymmetry in intentional attributions can be explained entirely by the
    emotional responses we have to actions with moral value.

    It appears to have no relevance whatever to our discussion.

  277. strange gods before me ॐ says

    mikmik,

    Eh? What I said was in the article.

    No, you excused Gilberto Valle by saying maybe he was just joking around, even though he was planning to torture and murder his girlfriend. And you objected to the blogger even talking about it.

    WTF is your problem, anyways.

    I told you: your trolling is grotesque and I have lost respect for you.

    I have noticed your antagonistic stance toward what you term “The New Feminist movement”, and your subsequent trolling.

  278. strange gods before me ॐ says

    Finally, what makes you think the study you link to supports your position? It’s about how person A’s emotion toward person B affects (or not) their attribution of intention to person B.

    Knobe effect, or related to it. I’m saying this without looking at the paper yet. Now I’ll go check.

  279. strange gods before me ॐ says

    Yep. I shall reward myself with a brew of the expensive coffee.

  280. Ichthyic says

    for those interested in a good summary of the research regarding emotions and their involvement in the decision-making process, there was an excellent talk given by Marc Hauser (yes, that Marc Hauser) at the evolution conference in Chicago a couple years back.

    the link to his talk is still there:

    http://darwin-chicago.uchicago.edu/List%20of%20Video%20Talks.html

    it’s a .mov file, but it’s really worth downloading and watching.

  281. strange gods before me ॐ says

    drusillagorilla,

    I think what’s important is whether looking at pictures of cute animals tends to cause people to do more harm to animals, or whether it tends to have either neutral or positive effects. (I’ll group neutral and positive together, since either is tolerable.)

    It’s a tricky question, but charismatic megafauna effects would be evidence for the neutral/positive hypothesis. (Not to say that platypuses are megafauna; this is just to say that looking at some animals makes people want to protect them.)

    The focus on charismatic megafauna is of course annoying to researchers and activists concerned with less charismatic animals, but there’s no evidence that it’s anything other than annoying. The options seem to be “most people will care very little about most animals” or “most people will care somewhat about charismatic animals and very little about most other animals” — it’s only additive and there doesn’t seem to be a corresponding reduction in care for the plain and homely ones.

    It would be nice if everyone could be motivated simply by the logical arguments in Animal Liberation or The Case for Animal Rights (consequentialism and deontology, respectively), but what frequently happens is they’ll agree the arguments make sense, yet feel unmotivated nevertheless.

    This problem of motivation is not unique to nonhuman animal rights. It happens with other humans too — this is the focus of theorists of sentiment including Rorty and William James.

    I believe it results from a relative deficit of cognitive resources dedicated to modeling others’ feelings, especially others who are significantly different from ourselves; and this can deficit can often be corrected (though more easily in young people, of course).

    To that goal, videos of animals are probably the most effective tool after physical interaction or in-person observation. We need to observe their behaviors in order to model their experiences and feelings in our own minds via mirror neurons. Still images are probably much less effective, but they do excite mirror neurons and might call to mind the sentiments learned from earlier video or in-person observations. Although still images presented without an invitation to action probably verge on useless, I don’t know of any evidence that they could be counterproductive.

    TL;DR: the pictures probably do no harm and each might do a tiny bit of good.

  282. strange gods before me ॐ says

    “expensive coffee”. Does it involve civets? o_O

    Lol. I’m cheap frugal; my idea of expensive is “costs more than Folgers”.

  283. Ichthyic says

    it’s only additive and there doesn’t seem to be a corresponding reduction in care for the plain and homely ones.

    actually, that isn’t the case at all from my experience.

    shark overfishing has been horrendously bad for decades, yet few environment groups ever took up the cause until very recently.

    While I was a grad student, it was very carefully and thoroughly explained to us that if we worked in biology on a non-charismatic animal, funding would in fact be less available.

    it makes a difference.

  284. says

    Interestingly, mikmik, when he was pretending to be an atheist, joey took exactly the line you are taking, arguing that it would be rational to have his own child tortured if the reward for him was a life of bliss in a virtual reality where he wouldn’t know that he had made that decision. I eventually got him to admit that he would not in fact do so, although he continued to claim, IIRC, that the decision not to do so would be irrational. Would you do so? Would it be rational to do so?

    Sorry, Nick Gotts(formerly KG), I meant to get to this one.

    On this, and gun control, joey and I differ, I guess. I don’t care if it was my children, or an elderly person I did not know, I could not possibly make the decision to have someone tortured. If there was that power given to me, I would rather get tortured than make someone else, if it came down to that.
    Is that rational? This is not a concrete situation that has a correct answer, like in arithmetic. It would almost certainly be immoral if all I was facing was bliss, and that if I did not order the torture there were no consequences.
    I place far more weight on the distress of torture than I do on a state of perfect bliss, and anyways, I WOULD be aware, at the time I made the decision, of my betrayal of my own morality.

    It depends on the who is in the situation whether it was rational or not. If your highest goal is to achieve bliss, then of course it would be rational. For me, it would be irrational, because my goal is to protect others, and avoiding torment, more than to seek pleasure.

    This, the train platform dilemma – it is impossible to sway how I would react or choose to act in those situations, but almost certainly I place the immediate situation with more weight than an abstract one to come in the future.

  285. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    *fidgets* *holds breath* *commences hand flapping* VENOMOUS! Not poisonous! Venomous!

    Sorry, I tried not to.

    Sorry, you are of course correct. Pedantry is not something to shy from. Thanks for the correction.

  286. strange gods before me ॐ says

    While I was a grad student, it was very carefully and thoroughly explained to us that if we worked in biology on a non-charismatic animal, funding would in fact be less available.

    Less available relative to funding for charismatic research. That’s so obvious that I’m surprised you thought I was saying otherwise. What’s unevidenced is the notion that there’d be more money in absolute terms for non-charismatic research if people didn’t care about charismatic animals. There might just be less money alloted to animal research in the first place; it’s not as though the absolute amount of money available is independent of the public’s interest in charismatic animals.

  287. strange gods before me ॐ says

    In fact the original edit of that phrase was

    it’s only additive and there doesn’t seem to be a corresponding reduction in absolute care for the plain and homely ones

    but it came out because I worried someone would be confused — or negatively primed; when joey’s around there might be a sentiment of “‘absolute’, we hates the word.”

  288. chigau (違う) says

    I like this.
    The Japanese character 魂 translates to ‘soul’ in English.
    The Japanese character 鬼 translate to ‘demon’ in English.

  289. says

    Nick(not Chris) Gotts:

    1. I am trying to say that emotion arbitrates every decision to act. I am not say it does it over the long term at the expense of NEAR Instantaneous decision making, nor am I saying it the other way around, as you seem to think at times. I say it is part of every action we take – it is you that says that only sometimes it is. I say that if we have emotions that lead to our doing something in one situation, then it follows that we do in all situations as you shorten the time frame.

    2. If, IF! it is the case that emotions motivate our actions, then that is called having a desire to do something, and then doing it.

    3. Therefore: We always have a desire to act before we act.

    This(3) is what I am trying to say, in order to build the foundation for arguing that all our actions are selfish because we act to satisfy that desire within ourselves.
    – - -

    Based on neuropsychological evidence, this study demonstrates that
    asymmetric intentional attributions emerge despite dysfunctional emotional
    processing. The finding thus refutes the strong hypothesis that the
    asymmetry in intentional attributions can be explained entirely by the
    emotional responses we have to actions with moral value.

    It appears to have no relevance whatever to our discussion.

    Sigh, that article is all about the role that emotion takes in our decisions. Furthermore, it EXACTLY supports my point, and my point is that we act in a way that is symmetrical to our selfish desires, and not our morals. WE ACT THE WAY WE MOMENTARILY WANT TO UNDERNEATH, not according to our rational, or irrational, reasoning.

    That is what we are talking about, whether or not we are ultimately, fundamentally, acting according to our PERCEIVED morals with no reward to ourselves, or whether THERE IS A REWARD TO OURSELVES that we are acting to achieve.

    I think it is supremely interesting to explore why we act the way we do, at the most basic level of functioning. I take the position that emotions motivate every action we take, and I am trrying to see if anyone can show me different.
    I want to understand how we work. Because I am flawed, and my introspection is necessarily suspect for many reasons, it seek to discuss this with you, and anyone else.

    The reason I said that I already know that we act to satisfy our own emotional desires, is because I have been taught, over and over, that we get an emotional payoff for everything we do.
    You may not be aware of it, Nick(fuck, I almost said Chris who TF is Chris? lol), but maybe you really do have times when you get zero emotional response to something. I highly doubt it.
    I don’t mean sweeping waves of euphoria or grief, I mean countless little, at times unnoticed, motivations and satisfactions.
    -
    Let’s take the walking example.

    So when I put one foot in front of another when walking, you think I need emotion or thought in order to initiate that act?

    It’s funny you use that, because I actually was trying to observe my free will while walking one day. I was trying to see at what point did an decision to move my foot occur, and if there was a time that I could still voluntarily override my volition and action with an opposite one.
    At no point did I feel like I was not choosing what to do. At no point was I in a position where I did not have(seemingly) complete control of where my feet where placed, where they were going to land when stepping, and if I could stop. The only hindrance I could see was my balance was difficult to override.

    Now, every time we are walking we have a desire to be walking. Every time we are walking somewhere, at every point in that path, we have a desire to get to the destination. At every point in our travels, we have a desire to not fall over, step in front of a bus, grab someones purse – any number of things, but one thing is certain, that we have a desire to be doing what we are doing at that moment in time.
    So: In response to your walking question, I can say with extreme confidence that I refute your claim that there is no emotion involved. I say that there is always an emotional situation that we are trying to satisfy, every second of our existence.
    – - -
    Okay, you are right about this:

    See, I think I am starting to get why there is a problem here. That is that you think I think that we consciously and methodically ruminate before every action we take.

    Where do you get that from? I’ve said, and believe, no such thing.

    Sorry, that was a stunned thing to say!
    – - -

    You still have not addressed my example of guilt driving my decision to make donations to charity. Is there something wrong with that example so far? Is trying to avoid a negative feeling self centered, or what?

    Yes, obviously.

    Being charitable – desiring to help people – may arise with, or without, thought, but how do you, Chris, how do you know when you are being altruistic, or not.

    Who is this Chris of whom you speak? But I, Nick, don’t have complete access to my motivations any more than you do. My position is not based on introspection.

    Then how do you know you are altruistic?

  290. consciousness razor says

    Now, I will repeat once again my request that you explain how it is, in your view, that such a statement as “concern for others is a good value to hold” or “you should take into account the interests and preferences of others” can be assigned a truth value without already assuming commitment either to that value, or some logically related value.

    What do you mean by “some logically related value”? That’s casting a rather large net.

    Ethics is “taking into account the interests and preferences of others,” in so many words. Even if your concept of ethics is somewhat different (since that description’s not meant to be rigorous), whatever it is, it does imply certain kinds of things are ethically-relevant while others aren’t. So the assumption I’m making is that you’re doing ethics, and I think it’s a reasonable one to make.

    It’s similar to the aesthetics example I talked about above: you can evaluate a painting based on its monetary value; but if we’re going to make any sense when we’re talking about it, we ought to mean something in particular when we’re claiming that is or isn’t an aesthetic value. Given what we know people generally mean by “aesthetics,” that implies monetary value is not a kind of aesthetic value, because it’s not about an experiential relation between a subject and the object they’re evaluating. Whatever else that might entail, that’s not the point of monetary value, and it is the point of aesthetic value.

    Or, you could make a claim like “purple + pumpkin pie = horseshoe” which may even be useful somehow, but I’m not going to agree that you’re doing a legitimate form of mathematics just because you say so, or just because I’m naive enough to believe I’m making no assumptions about math, or because we shouldn’t make any such assumptions. (I suppose there could be some numerical and logical structure underlying a pseudo-equation like that, but since I just made it up, I’ll stipulate that in this case there’s not.)

    What you seem to be asking is basically “why should people be ethical?” or “why is it good to be good?” Which you can’t really answer without doing ethics. But the point is that you can’t accept just any arbitrary answer no matter what form it comes in, because we do in fact have certain assumptions about what all of those terms mean, and because we should have something like them if our goal is to understand what ethics is and attempt to answer the question. (If the goal isn’t to answer the question, then I have no idea why it’s being asked.) That doesn’t mean ethical claims can’t be true or false; at least, I don’t see how you’re getting from A to B or what all of the steps are supposed to be.

    In short: yes, of course we start off with some assumptions. You could list a thousand of them if you wanted to spend the time. So what? I don’t think they have the significance you’re apparently giving them.

  291. says

    strange gods before me 2 March 2013 at 5:45 pm

    mikmik,

    Eh? What I said was in the article.

    No, you excused Gilberto Valle by saying maybe he was just joking around, even though he was planning to torture and murder his girlfriend. And you objected to the blogger even talking about it.

    I did not. I didn’t object to any such thing. I like it when Naslima posts these tabloid type reports. It was about one guy, not fucking civilization. That is a Hasty Generalization. I always object to the usage of logical fallacies, that is all.
    Article.
    What I said: “It is one guy, not civilization. And maybe he just has a very twisted sense of humor.
    Sheesh.

    o.O ???
    Trolling? Why didn’t you engage me on the thread, in the comments, then? You might have changed my mind, because I didn’t see the part about him breaking into the databases. Fuck.

    WTF is your problem, anyways.

    I told you: your trolling is grotesque and I have lost respect for you.
    I have noticed your antagonistic stance toward what you term “The New Feminist movement”, and your subsequent trolling.

    Trolling = disagreeing with anything you types(not feminists, your particular sect that gives feminism a bad name sect ~ A+)

    I fucking joined A+ because I wanted to make it work. This was, in part, my trying to make amends for denigrating A+ at the outset, when I was fucked up about my brother dying. I thought about what I said, and I decided that instead of being such a self righteous, negative fuck that takes his hate out on others, that I would join a good cause, and show my humility.
    I am completely behind feminism 100% – equal treatment of women. Equal pay, the right to safety and security of their person, all of it.
    If I were to agree with you hardliners that Rebecca never says anything regretable, yet I mispelled two words while doing it, you would accuse me of trolling.

    Why are you so afraid/suspicious of me that you de3fame me by calling troll all the time?

    Why are you not out proving all the criticism that you are a bunch of wankers is wrong by ignoring it, and actually concentrating on positive accomplishment and attitude?. That`s what groups with integrity do. You seem to be a bunch of hysterical haters intent on slandering, and over reacting to, anyone that disagrees with you.
    I notice that almost every single response to people that criticize Rebecca involves: telling the person that they are uptight about an offhand remark; are INTENTIONALLY interpreting it wrong; are trolling; are immature; are menz whining; are MRA`s whining; are haters; are actually thinking devious thoughts and are only motivated to destroy.

    You will slander me, call me a troll, tell me what I think, tell me what I was really doing.

  292. says

    PS I long ago lost respect for the way you present yourself, not for you. Any other topics around here and it is likely that I am in general agreement, or at lest method.

  293. strange gods before me ॐ says

    It was about one guy, not fucking civilization. That is a Hasty Generalization. I always object to the usage of logical fallacies, that is all.

    There was no logical fallacy. There was no statement about any civilization.

    All Taslima wrote was “Unbelievable! [tag:]Brutality It is a true story. [newspaper excerpt] I do not know what to say. Do you know? .”

    You pretended to read words she didn’t write. You were bullshitting.

    Trolling? Why didn’t you engage me on the thread, in the comments, then?

    Why would I? I don’t owe you anything. I’m only telling you to fuck off now because you showed up where I hang out.

    Trolling = disagreeing with anything you types(not feminists, your particular sect that gives feminism a bad name sect ~ A+)

    I’m not A+. Never have been.

    Why are you so afraid/suspicious of me that you de3fame me by calling troll all the time?

    I’ve never called you a troll until now.

    I noted you are taking up an antagonistic stance at Taslima’s blog — and spinning and bullshitting to do so; that’s what makes it trolling rather than critique.

    I noted you had apparently done so as part of some obsessive project you’ve taken upon yourself to oppose something you call “The New Feminist movement”. This indicated your motive for trolling.

    Now I note I was correct, and in your mind it’s all got something to do with Rebecca Watson.

    Why are you not out proving all the criticism that you are a bunch of wankers is wrong by ignoring it, and actually concentrating on positive accomplishment and attitude?

    Is this still about A+? I’m not A+, and I didn’t respond to criticism about A+. I responded to your trolling and your weird obsession with something you call “The New Feminist movement.

    But let me suggest you take your own advice right there. However your issue with Rebecca Watson and A+ started, you’ll probably be happier if you let it go. This weird path you’re on is not doing you any good. Do something that frees your mind from this obsession.

  294. Ichthyic says

    it’s only additive and there doesn’t seem to be a corresponding reduction in absolute care for the plain and homely ones

    So, when I informed you from personal experience that indeed, this relative difference of funding input does translate to a lack of absolute funding available for research on non charismatic animals, and gave sharks as the perfect example of that.

    …your conclusion is I don’t understand what you wrote?

    that’s pretty pathetic, seriously. You really don’t have a clue what you’re talking about here.

    well, I tried.

    proceed with your misinformation campaign captain. You have a lot of people you’ve managed to fool here.

  295. Ichthyic says

    here, in simple terms so even you can’t twist it:

    Funding is not additive, like you seem to think it is.

  296. says

    @ mikmik

    Hint: You can easily win your argument by pointing out to SGBM the incontrovertable and obvious truth – as clear as the nose on one’s face!- that Taslima is a sockpuppet of Rebecca Watson.

  297. strange gods before me ॐ says

    So, when I informed you from personal experience that indeed, this relative difference of funding input does translate to a lack of absolute funding available for research on non charismatic animals, and gave sharks as the perfect example of that.

    …your conclusion is I don’t understand what you wrote?

    That was the generous conclusion, yes. If I was clear enough the first time and you still thought you were saying something relevant, then that’s unfortunate for you.

    Here, I’ll help you out. You in fact cannot know what you’re saying by experience, because to do so would require communication between two universes: one where charismatic effects occur and one where they don’t. If you’re a god or something like that, please let me know and I’ll consider the possibility that you do experience multiple worlds.

    You’re claiming to experience the counterfactual. That’s nonsense. What you can do is give reasons to think the world would probably be different in absence of charismatic effects, like I have done; but it’s just impossible to actually know by experience.

    Funding is not additive, like you seem to think it is.

    By the way, I wasn’t initially talking about funding. I was talking about caring-what-happens, and you responded about funding. So this is a tangent.

    But fine, you still don’t understand when funding is or isn’t additive. I’ll explain for you. You’re assuming that in a world without charismatic effects, the opportunity cost of funding for charismatic animals would typically be the lack of funding for noncharismatic animals. But this ain’t necessarily so. It’s also possible that in a world without charismatic effects, the opportunity cost of funding for charismatic animals would typically be the lack of funding for impoverished humans. If the latter, then charismatic effects are additive to animal funding. If the former, then they are not additive. And we can’t know by experience which it would be, because we do not experience a world without charismatic effects.

    It’s obvious what your thinking is. You’re seeing, for example, $100m for animal funding and $80m of it going to charismatic animals with $20m left over for the rest. And you think, if only people weren’t so concerned with the charismatic animals, there’d be more left over for the other animals. But you don’t know that. It might instead be the case that there’d only be $20m for animal funding, full stop.

    So if you want to give reasoning that would support your expectation, go right ahead. My reasoning is pretty simple: people generally just don’t give a shit about the plain and homely critters, and there’s no reason to imagine they’d care about them more in a world where they don’t care about the charismatic ones so much. But? Maybe there is some reason to expect they’d care more? That would be interesting to hear, and maybe even compelling, if you can imagine such a reason. But it just isn’t your experience.

  298. strange gods before me ॐ says

    And before you go all how dare you tell me I don’t know about shark protection, let me just point out ahead of time: I’m not saying that.

    A person can be smart and well informed and very experienced and still have some idiosyncratic ideas that don’t affect their abilities, ideas which don’t need to be correct precisely because they don’t affect the person’s abilities.

  299. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    mikmik,

    I am trying to say that emotion arbitrates every decision to act.

    I know. You’re wrong.

    I say that if we have emotions that lead to our doing something in one situation, then it follows that we do in all situations as you shorten the time frame.

    No, it doesn’t. You might as well say that because some deaths are murders, it follows that they all are as you shorten the time frame.

    Sigh, that article is all about the role that emotion takes in our decisions. Furthermore, it EXACTLY supports my point, and my point is that we act in a way that is symmetrical to our selfish desires, and not our morals. WE ACT THE WAY WE MOMENTARILY WANT TO UNDERNEATH, not according to our rational, or irrational, reasoning.

    This is complete crap. It’s about the relationship emotions play in the attribution of intention to others, which has zero to do with whether selfish desires, or emotions generally, motivate all our actions. Moreover, if it did relate to that issue (and ignoring the fact that the proven scientific fraud Marc Hauser is a co-author), it would count against you. I quote:

    Contrary to the emotion hypothesis, we found that the intentional
    attributions made by the VMPC participants conformed to the same
    basic pattern of intentional attributions made by normal participants…
    Based on these results, we conclude that the emotional processes subserved
    by the VMPC are not necessary for mediating the effect of an
    action’s moral status on its intentional status
    . Furthermore, the hypothesized
    role of emotion is to increase attribution of intent in the harm
    case, suggesting that patients should show deficits in judging the harm
    case, in particular, by judging the featured action in the harm case as
    non-intentional, and yet every one of the patients judged it as intentional. [emphasis added]

    Evidently, you are unable to read for comprehension.

    I actually was trying to observe my free will while walking one day. I was trying to see at what point did an decision to move my foot occur, and if there was a time that I could still voluntarily override my volition and action with an opposite one.
    At no point did I feel like I was not choosing what to do.

    You really can’t see that this is entirely different from the situation when you are walking along, as we usually do, without introspecting about it?

    Now, every time we are walking we have a desire to be walking. Every time we are walking somewhere, at every point in that path, we have a desire to get to the destination. At every point in our travels, we have a desire to not fall over, step in front of a bus, grab someones purse – any number of things, but one thing is certain, that we have a desire to be doing what we are doing at that moment in time.

    No, it isn’t. Do you never find yourself humming or whistling a tune you hate, but which you’ve heard recently? Have you never accidentally followed a familiar route, rather than taking a turn to the destination you intended when you set out? I certainly have, numerous times. If my “desire” (I’m not sure what you mean by that word, and frankly, I don’t think you are either – is a “desire” necessarily something you’re aware of, a mental state you may or may not be aware of, or do you just mean an intention?) was operative at the point where I needed to turn, I’d surely have done so.

    So: In response to your walking question, I can say with extreme confidence that I refute your claim that there is no emotion involved.

    Yes, I know you are prone to say with extreme confidence things for which you have no evidence or argument. I’m puzzled as to why you think that asserting something confidently counts as an argument.

    I say that there is always an emotional situation that we are trying to satisfy, every second of our existence.

    I know you say that; but you have given no reason to think it is true.

    Then how do you know you are altruistic?

    I don’t, absolutely, but I do know that someone who rushes into a burning building to rescue a stranger at obvious risk to their own life is (an example I gave earlier and which you completely ignored).

    I won’t be continuing this argument with you any further, both because you are clearly determined to stick to your dogmatism, and because I prefer to keep my conversational interactions with anti-feminists (which I didn’t realize you were – thanks SGBM) to a minimum, except where necessary to combat that and kindred bigotries. So you can have the last word.

  300. says

    Yes, I know you are prone to say with extreme confidence things for which you have no evidence or argument. I’m puzzled as to why you think that asserting something confidently counts as an argument.Yes, I know you are prone to say with extreme confidence things for which you have no evidence or argument. I’m puzzled as to why you think that asserting something confidently counts as an argument.
    Yeah, that is BS, isn’t it?
    – - -

    I am trying to say that emotion arbitrates every decision to act.

    I know. You’re wrong.

    I know you think I’m wrong. So, saying I am right, whether with extreme confidence or not, is the same thing. It doesn’t really mean anything.
    It is neither here nor there, just an observation that it is incorrect when either person does it.

    I say that if we have emotions that lead to our doing something in one situation, then it follows that we do in all situations as you shorten the time frame.

    No, it doesn’t. You might as well say that because some deaths are murders, it follows that they all are as you shorten the time frame.

    No, that analogy is not proper. No one claims that all deaths are murders at any time frame. I am extrapolating, not make comparisons.

    Contrary to the emotion hypothesis, we found that the intentional
    attributions made by the VMPC participants conformed to the same
    basic pattern of intentional attributions made by normal participants…
    Based on these results, we conclude that the emotional processes subserved
    by the VMPC are not necessary for mediating the effect of an
    action’s moral status on its intentional status. Furthermore, the hypothesized
    role of emotion is to increase attribution of intent in the harm
    case, suggesting that patients should show deficits in judging the harm
    case, in particular, by judging the featured action in the harm case as
    non-intentional, and yet every one of the patients judged it as intentional. [emphasis added]

    Evidently, you are unable to read for comprehension.

    Evidently, you are correct, perhaps! I was trying to support the idea that all our decisions involve the emotional centers of the brain, and that when these are damaged, , our moral thinking becomes damaged as well, but mostly, that yes, our altruistic responses, being moral in character, are emotionally driven.

    The article also says that we improperly ascribe intention to certain decisions as being intentionally unmoral, where no such intention exists.
    That is the point of the article, and I picked a bad one to illustrate what I’m trying to get at, namely, that all decisions are emotionally based, even unconscious decisions.

    I draw your attention to this: Emotion and Decision:

    We make many decisions, and sometimes we are more or less logical about them. And it is arguable that all decision are, ultimately emotional.
    [...]
    Damasio’s research

    Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio studied people who had received brain injuries that had had one specific effect: to damage that part of the brain where emotions are generated. In all other respects they seemed normal – they just lost the ability to feel emotions.

    The interesting thing he found was that their ability to make decisions was seriously impaired. They could logically describe what they should be doing, in practice they found it very difficult to make decisions about where to live, what to eat, etc.

    In particular, many decisions have pros and cons on both sides. Shall I have the fish or the beef? With no rational way to decide, they were unable to make the decision.
    The point of decision
    Always emotional decision?

    So at the point of decision, emotions are very important for choosing. In fact even with what we believe are logical decisions, the very point of choice is arguably always based on emotion.

    We talk about decisions that feel or seem right. When logical decisions are wrong, we will often feel that this is so. Emotions are perhaps signals from the subconscious that tell us a lot about what we really choose.
    Subconscious in charge?

    An even stranger factor is research where the subject’s brain was wired up to recorders and the subject was asked to simply press a red button at any time. The notion was that if the conscious mind was in charge, then that part of the brain would be seen to change first, an if the decision started in the subconscious, then electrical activity in that part of the brain would work first.

    And the answer was…that the subconscious started activity first. The shocking conclusion is that the subconscious is in charge of the bus, and that we are living an illusion of conscious choice. As emotions also stem from the subconscious, then this makes it even more likely that decisions have a strong emotional influence.

    At this point let me say that this is what I am trying to establish, that 1, our decisions are emotionally based, and 2, that this is likely sub-conscious!!! I am saying that we do not have to be aware of our decisions in order for them to be based, at least in part, on emotion

  301. says

    Okay, this is going to be difficult to explain, but the point I am going to make is that expectations of reward and punishment are crucial parts of decisions, and our brain simulates the reward/punishment payoff that was learned in subsequent decisions.
    That makes sense, doesn’t it? That’s how we learn, and the reason we learn is so we can make decisions quicker, and more correctly, the next time a similar situation arises.
    SO: Even if we don’t consciously think about the emotional payoff, it is present in our decisions, and that applies to ‘altruistic’ decisions, as well.
    The role of emotion in decision-making: Evidence
    from neurological patients with orbitofrontal damage

    Abstract
    Most theories of choice assume that decisions derive from an assessment of the future outcomes of various options and alternatives through some type of cost-benefit analyses. The influence of emotions on decision-making is largely ignored. The studies of decision-making in neurological patients who can no longer process emotional information normally suggest that people make judgments not only by evaluating the consequences and their probability of occurring, but also and even sometimes primarily at a gut or emotional level.

    I am trying to establish the first premise of my argument. 1: all decisions have emotional pay-off. 2:altruistic decisions are emotional in nature. 3: Altruistic decisions have emotional pay-offs. That is my first premise: Altruistic decisions have emotional pay-offs

    10. Conclusions
    The somatic marker hypothesis provides a systems-level neuroanatomical and cognitive framework for decision-making and its influence by emotion. The key idea of this hypothesis is that decision-making is a process that is influenced by marker signals that arise in bioregulatory processes, including those that express themselves in emotions and feelings. The orbitofrontal cortex represents one critical structure in a neural system subserving decision-making. However, the orbitofrontal cortex alone does not mediate decision-making. Decision-making arises from large-scale systems that include other cortical and subcortical components that include the amygdala, the somatosensory/insular cortices, and the peripheral nervous system.

    Okay, now comes the ‘other’ components, and the implications:

    However, are decisions always associated with emotion and body states? The answer is ‘‘no’’ because somatic markers may influence decisions via a ‘‘body loop’’ or ‘‘as-if-loop.’

    Wait, this DOES NOT contradict what I am arguing:

    In the body loop mechanism, an appropriate emotional (somatic) state is actually re-enacted, and signals from its activation are then relayed back to subcortical and cortical somatosensory processing structures, especially in the somatosensory (SI and SII) and insular cortices.

    The ‘body state’ means active emotional involvement.

    The enacted somatic state can then act consciously or non-consciously on the neural processes that enable the person to do, or to avoid doing a certain action. However, after emotions have been expressed and experienced at least once, one can form representations of these emotional experiences in the somatosensory/insular cortices. Therefore, after emotions are learnt, one possible chain of physiologic events is to by-pass the body altogether, activate the insular/somatosensory cortices directly, and create a fainter image of an emotional body state than if the emotion were actually expressed in the body.

    We are altruistic because it feels good when we do it.
    Even if we don’t consider the emotional pay-off, Nick, it is still present in our altruistic decisions.
    My Conclusion: Therefore, we make altruistic decisions because it feels ‘good’ to make them, this is an internal process, and thus, a selfish one

    I am not saying that our compassion does not cause our altruism – not at all. It does. But I am saying that this creates an emotional need that cannot be separated from what we want to see as a purely moral decision when we decide to help people, or run away when in Mumbai, LOL!
    – I will give a little, Nick, and I now think that I am incorrect to say that altruism is a purely selfish gesture at heart, but I think we give ourselves too much credit for being ‘selfless’.

  302. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    consciousness razor,

    What do you mean by “some logically related value”?

    More precisely, some value from which you can deduce the given value.

    Ethics is “taking into account the interests and preferences of others,” in so many words.

    That’s your definition, and one which I happen to share. It’s not by any means universal, as I’ve already pointed out. We don’t get to define it by fiat. Would Nietzsche have agreed?

    Even if your concept of ethics is somewhat different (since that description’s not meant to be rigorous), whatever it is, it does imply certain kinds of things are ethically-relevant while others aren’t. So the assumption I’m making is that you’re doing ethics, and I think it’s a reasonable one to make.

    I’m puzzled by this. Why do you think I think I’m not doing ethics? Or have I misunderstood you here?

    What you seem to be asking is basically “why should people be ethical?” or “why is it good to be good?”

    Nope. That would be silly. I’m challenging you to support your contention that ethical judgements have truth values, which you haven’t done, presumably because you can’t.

    we do in fact have certain assumptions about what all of those terms mean

    Who is “we” here? Would Nietzsche, for example, have agreed with the formulation we are both happy with? From what I know of his “transvaluation of values”, he wouldn’t.

    In short: yes, of course we start off with some assumptions. You could list a thousand of them if you wanted to spend the time. So what? I don’t think they have the significance you’re apparently giving them.

    So what? So you’ve just conceded the argument, as far as I can see, because unless you can show that those assumptions are the correct ones, someone with different assumptions could just as validly assign the opposite truth-value to some moral judgement to the one that follows from your assumptions. But then, they’re not really truth-values.

    I don’t have any epistemic obligation to prove that ethical judgments can’t have truth values, any more than I have to prove to joey that there can’t be such a thing as “intrinsic worth”. You are making the positive claim, and so have the epistemic burden of showing how moral judgments can have truth-values. I see an exact parallel between your claim and joey’s: you are both claiming the existence of something that you can’t demonstrate or explain, which itself plays no explanatory role, and which remains entirely obscure.

  303. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    Sorry, blockquote fail at the end of #446: all but the first paragraph of the last blockquote, should not be blockquoted.

  304. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    It’s similar to the aesthetics example I talked about above: you can evaluate a painting based on its monetary value; but if we’re going to make any sense when we’re talking about it, we ought to mean something in particular when we’re claiming that is or isn’t an aesthetic value. Given what we know people generally mean by “aesthetics,” that implies monetary value is not a kind of aesthetic value, because it’s not about an experiential relation between a subject and the object they’re evaluating. – consciousness razor

    Perhaps we can get somewhere by looking at the esthetic case in more detail. First, your account of “what we generally mean” certainly doesn’t apply to Plato’s conception of esthetics: as I’m sure you’re aware, he thought things were beautiful because they participated in the transcendent form or idea of beauty. Second, your formulation, with which I would agree, implies that esthetic judgements are not objective (as Plato thought they were), because they depend on the subject or subjects you have in mind: what one person or culture finds esthetically valuable, another will not – and hence, esthetic judgements do not have truth-values independent of some cultural framework of assumptions. But nor are they purely subjective, because we can be persuaded to change our evaluation, taught to appreciate types of beauty or esthetic significance we previously did not, and can argue rationally about esthetic judgments. I consider that the case with ethical judgments is exactly parallel.

  305. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    The lost post on this blog was placed there a half hour ago by me. I am afraid I broke the blog.

  306. Arawhon says

    Some silliness I just found from facebook. apparently Ray Comfort really hates

  307. says

    drusillagorilla:
    Do you take issue every time PZ starts a new iteration of The Louge, complete with a cute animal pic?
    Do you take issue with people who show cute pics of their animal companions on their phones?
    Do you get irritated flipping through a coffee table book with pictures of cute animals?
    Do you get pissed off going to a veterinarian’s office and seeing cute pictures of animals?
    Is it the picture you take issue with or are you assigning some devious motive to the photographer?
    Please explain why showing a picture of a cute animal is objectifying (and therefore, harmful in some way toward the animal).
    In addition does your position relate only to non-human animals? If not, you may never want to look at a photo album of cute baby pics…

    (Those of you who frequent The Lounge, I guess we are contributing to the objectification of kittens when we link to images of them.

    Fuck. This has been my response to” Insipid Comment of the Week”.
    Tune in next week when joey struggles to regain that glorious title.

  308. ChasCPeterson says

    PSA: have your snarkmeters calibrated often. It takes practice to read them even when they’re accurate.

  309. strange gods before me ॐ says

    Unfortunately, someone is wrong on the internet. I will attempt to approach cautiously.

    Tony,

    Please explain why showing a picture of a cute animal is objectifying

    No further explanation is necessary than that which was given. For readers who already understand objectification theory, the meaning is clear by implication; the primary question is how much to care about it.

    (and therefore, harmful in some way toward the animal).

    Here’s the SIWOTI. The theory does not propose that objectification necessarily harms the specific target. For instance, it does not propose that Page Three girls are harmed by being objectified. Your parenthetical is a non sequitur.

    I can’t help but notice that you’ve got your ingroup/outgroup goggles on, as you’re responding to drusillagorilla in that

    short sentence, linebreak
    short sentence, linebreak

    pattern that you don’t use with recognized regulars, even when you disagree with them.

    Do you want to make drusillagorilla feel unwelcome here, just for delurking with a debatable comment, admittedly at the “end of a long week”?

    I tell you, while I dislike the ingroup/outgroup practices around here, I’m entirely capable of recognizing who’s who — drusillagorilla is someone who can be accepted as belonging here.

  310. says

    @ SGBM (link to drusillagorilla)

    [cute animals] So seeing them objectified for their cuteness on a skeptical blog …

    Actually this raises an interesting topic.

    In the case of cats, is it a coincidence that kittens are so incredibly cute? Their oversized heads (relative to their bodies, like human babies) and plaintive wailing seem perfectly contrived to endear them to the very humans on which they depend. Surely any animals which got their pitch a little better than others would stand a better chance of acceptance and hence survival? These animals appear to have rapidly evolved precisely in a manner that objectifies them in the eyes of a species that can massively benefit them – if they can pull it off.

    Objectification need not necessarily be cute. They also manipulate fear responses by hissing, baring fangs and flattening ears to illicit that which is feared in primal fashion: Mrs Snake.

  311. says

    sgbm:
    Chastizing PZ for using an image of platypi as representative of ‘cuteness’ indicated-to me- that drusillagorilla saw that objectifying them is somehow wrong. Looking back at hir statements, they still read like xe is criticising PZ for posting pictures of two animals and calling them cute-as if there is something wrong with that. If they are not being harmed, why was the posting of that pic in any way wrong? That also leads to the follow up questions that I asked.

    I had to look up objectification theory as my understanding of objectification was limited to human interactions. I still do not understand the problem in showing a picture of an animal and saying ” awwww, how cute “.

    As for your comments about ingroup/outgroup–I see your point and agree somewhat. I had viewed objectification as a concept that was human related, so what I saw was someone trying to draw a parallel between [what I viewed as a ridiculous and nonsensical] the objectification of animals and the same for humans. I associate objectification with dehumanizing someone (typically women), so I view it in a negative light especially since women are harmed by being objectified. Given that I do not see any harm in objectifying an animal by using it as a standin for cuteness, I cannot see the two being in any way equivalent. Since I saw no argument to support them being equivalent, I got snippy…resulting in that short response you noted.
    I am torn here.
    I can see what you mean about how I responded, but I did not like how drusillagorilla came in and acted as if pictures of an animal is anything similar to treating a woman as if she is a Sony handheld device.

  312. strange gods before me ॐ says

    Tony,

    I did not like how drusillagorilla came in and acted as if pictures of an animal is anything similar to treating a woman as if she is a Sony handheld device.

    Any subject can be objectified. While we are most familiar with the term being used in reference to the sexual objectification of women, there is nothing about the term that limits its appropriateness only to that context.

    If a nonhuman animal’s subjectivity is being disregarded or forgotten, and the animal is only being treated or thought of as a means to an end, what else should we call that but objectification?

    It’s the activity which is being named; but nothing is necessarily implied about the severity of that activity when directed at different targets. For comparison: we don’t have to believe that kicking a dog is quite as bad as kicking a human, but we can recognize both as kicking.

    So for instance,

    Given that I do not see any harm in objectifying an animal by using it as a standin for cuteness, I cannot see the two being in any way equivalent.

    Nothing was said about equivalence. But here is an example of harm resulting from the objectification of animals: http://www.examiner.com/article/easter-amnesty-chicago-rescue-asks-for-halt-of-rabbit-sales-before-easter

    I’m not really invested in defending all of drusillagorilla’s argument; as I’ve indicated, I disagree with the conclusion. My interest is pretty much limited to seeing that this new commenter is not scolded for saying things they didn’t actually say. Thank you for listening to my #457, by the way; as I said, I was trying to approach cautiously, nevertheless a couple hours later I was worrying that I came off as rude.

  313. says

    mikmik,

    Eh? What I said was in the article.

    No, you excused Gilberto Valle by saying maybe he was just joking around, even though he was planning to torture and murder his girlfriend. And you objected to the blogger even talking about it.

    WTF is your problem, anyways.

    I told you: your trolling is grotesque and I have lost respect for you.

    I have noticed your antagonistic stance toward what you term “The New Feminist movement”, and your subsequent trolling.

    Disagreement is not trolling. Another non response.
    Like I said, if you would’ve had the sense to address me on the thread with the butcher thing, I would have changed my tune when I read about breaking into the databases.
    The other thread, I was complaining about all men being lumped in as rapists, and I defended my right to say I felt offended.
    It was when I got told to fuck off, etc, that I stood my ground. I did not go there to troll, I go to Taslima’s blog all the time because I enjoy it.
    It is new trend, perhaps not restricted to what I characterized as new feminists, that you employ here now that I was choked about then, and that is out of the blue defamation.
    You want to call someone that disagrees with you a troll, that is your problem. If you have a specific problem to bring up, then quote it. It is underhanded to accuse people of shit and not quote or cite what it is you are on about.
    Another bitch I have is the over-use of the term troll. Give me a break already with that one.

  314. says

    @ mikmik

    Hint: You can easily win your argument by pointing out to SGBM the incontrovertable and obvious truth – as clear as the nose on one’s face!- that Taslima is a sockpuppet of Rebecca Watson.

    You are a sly tartigrade and I best watch my step ;)

    Is this still about A+? I’m not A+, and I didn’t respond to criticism about A+. I responded to your trolling and your weird obsession with something you call “The New Feminist movement.

    But let me suggest you take your own advice right there. However your issue with Rebecca Watson and A+ started, you’ll probably be happier if you let it go. This weird path you’re on is not doing you any good. Do something that frees your mind from this obsession.

    This has some merit. My obsession, though, is with people that abandon rational discourse and divide and alienate. THAT is what I’m on about.

  315. mythbri says

    @mikmik

    Another bitch I have is the over-use of the term troll. Give me a break already with that one.

    Gripe, complaint, issue, quibble, objection, annoyance, beef, criticism, grumble, whine, grievance, bee-in-my-bonnet, hair-in-my-coffee, ash-on-my-tomatoes.

    There are plenty of other words available to use that fit better than the term you’ve used here, which is particularly distasteful to a lot of regular commenters (myself included). Why not use one of those?

  316. mythbri says

    @sgbm

    For comparison: we don’t have to believe that kicking a dog is quite as bad as kicking a human, but we can recognize both as kicking.

    It’s a pretty well-worn adage, but you can judge the character of someone more easily by how they treat their “inferiors” than how they treat their equals or “betters”. Kicking a child or kicking a dog, both of whom are perceived to have low societal value, is more wrong than kicking someone who is capable of fighting back and does not face significant social condemnation for doing so. While the action is the same (kicking), the harm inflicted varies in magnitude.

    I know that this is pretty much exactly what you’re saying, but I’d say that for me personally, I would consider kicking a dog to be worse than kicking a human (for some degree of human).

  317. strange gods before me ॐ says

    mikmik,

    Disagreement is not trolling.

    I noted you are taking up an antagonistic stance at Taslima’s blog — and spinning and bullshitting to do so; that’s what makes it trolling rather than critique.

    Like I said, if you would’ve had the sense to address me on the thread with the butcher thing, I would have changed my tune

    So the fuck what? It’s not other people’s responsibility to control you after you fuck up; it’s your responsibility to control yourself in the first place.

    Earlier you claimed your reason for trolling was:

    It was about one guy, not fucking civilization. That is a Hasty Generalization. I always object to the usage of logical fallacies, that is all.

    I already pointed out that you’re bullshitting:

    «There was no logical fallacy. There was no statement about any civilization. All Taslima wrote was “Unbelievable! [tag:]Brutality It is a true story. [newspaper excerpt] I do not know what to say. Do you know? .” You pretended to read words she didn’t write. You were bullshitting.»

    and yet you are still not taking responsibility for your fuckup. You are trying to shift responsibility onto other people to rein you in.

    The other thread, I was complaining about all men being lumped in as rapists, and I defended my right to say I felt offended.

    Bullshit. Even after Taslima expressly clarified that she was not talking about all men, you spent your time there

    making baseless internet diagnoses and accusing people of having “anger towards men [that] is so overwhelming that you cannot possibly participate in a discussion like this and stay grounded in reality”,

    accusing various unnamed women there of hating men,

    complaining about the “stereotyping” of MRAs and objecting to the use of the word “allies”,

    and claiming that talking about rape culture “is just an excuse to blame every man alive.”

    If you have a specific problem to bring up, then quote it. It is underhanded to accuse people of shit and not quote or cite what it is you are on about.

    I did cite it. In my #406 I linked directly to an instance of your trolling. In my #418 I explained what was wrong with it. In my #436 I showed that you were misrepresenting what had been said.

    Your trolling is being criticized. You don’t have to like it. There is no lack of clarity about the specific criticism.

    My obsession, though, is with people that abandon rational discourse and divide and alienate.

    You are doing exactly that, by making up an unbounded category you call “The New Feminist movement” which you can fill at your whim with no true Scotsman methods. If you don’t like what some feminist is saying, you can place that person into the category; if you do like what some other feminist is saying, you can leave them out. You thereby create a conspiracy in your own imagination, and you use your own creation of that category as an excuse to go on a crusade.

  318. David Marjanović says

    In the case of cats, is it a coincidence that kittens are so incredibly cute?

    Nope.

    This has been today’s edition of Simple Answers To Simple Questions; come back tomorrow, same time, same channel !!

    These animals appear to have rapidly evolved precisely in a manner that objectifies them in the eyes of a species that can massively benefit them – if they can pull it off.

    Young mammals, birds, and even crocodiles look like that more generally. Textbook wisdom is that their parents have evolved to find this cute – it makes them care more, which increases their Darwinian fitness.

    Objectification need not necessarily be cute. They also manipulate fear responses by hissing, baring fangs and flattening ears to illicit that which is feared in primal fashion: Mrs Snake.

    Is that “feared in a primal fashion”? I seem to lack that reaction. :-| Of course, maybe it’s just me.

  319. says

    Nobody is kicking anybody here, except maybe we’re kicking each other because joey’s not around to kick (metaphorically) at the moment. Cute baby animals: definitely not being kicked here.

  320. says

    Another thought. I volunteer for a number of animal rescue networks,and one of the biggest problems is that everybody wants the cute little pit bull/rottweiler/mastiff puppy. Then the cute little puppy grows up into an enormous (and still cute!) beast who takes up space and bumps into things and needs a lot of food and attention. The ignorant owners, who apparently forgot that little beings often grow into big beings, then send the sweet dog to a shelter or abandon them on the side of the road. Most shelters in the US do euthanize after a period, and much of my volunteer time is spent trying to save them,and other animals, from death row.

    So, SGBM’s link at #463, I get that. Being upset about cute baby animal pictures does fuckall to change it.

  321. says

    sgbm:

    Nothing was said about equivalence.

    I took this to mean drusillagorilla was drawing an equivalence:

    So seeing them objectified for their cuteness on a skeptical blog – or anywhere really – but particularly here, where other kinds of statements of objectification and privilege and so forth are so easily recognised (and eviscerated), makes me want to scream – so why do we fucking eat them and wear them then???

    Drusillagorilla says that here at Pharyngula objectification and privilege are shredded, and xe finds objectifying platypii to stand out, because it is not criticized. I see no comparison between treating women as sexual objects and showing a picture of cute platypii.

    Am I falsely seeing a false equivalence?

  322. cm's changeable moniker says

    So, happy what’s-left-of National Grammar Day.

    My favorite bit:

    Arika Okrent tapped into a universal feeling of realization and dread when she wrote her winning entry for the 2013 National Grammar Day Tweeted Haiku Contest:

    I am an error
    And I will reveal myself
    After you press send

    Soon after, she tweeted an amendment:

    Make that “send”

  323. says

    sgbm:

    Thank you for listening to my #457, by the way; as I said, I was trying to approach cautiously, nevertheless a couple hours later I was worrying that I came off as rude

    I try to make a point of listening (reading) what you have to say, as I generally see posts by you that have a very clear idea that you’re trying to get across (quite often it is something I find worthwhile to read).
    Also, I didn’t feel you came off rude.

  324. says

    mythbri

    There are plenty of other words available to use that fit better than the term you’ve used here, which is particularly distasteful to a lot of regular commenters (myself included). Why not use one of those?

    Done. No more b***h.

    Sorry, mythbri

  325. says

    You are doing exactly that, by making up an unbounded category you call “The New Feminist movement” which you can fill at your whim with no true Scotsman methods. If you don’t like what some feminist is saying, you can place that person into the category; if you do like what some other feminist is saying, you can leave them out. You thereby create a conspiracy in your own imagination, and you use your own creation of that category as an excuse to go on a crusade.

    It IS only a few women. I never really remember names because I don’t want to prejudice myself, then I am at a loss.
    Look, I wasn’t upset about Talima, I knew what the headline meant, and I /was/am fine with it. There are men in every random group of men, or culture/subculture is better, that are sicko’s. That is what she meant. It is the other ones there that started with all men are potential rapists, and two of us said that that wasn’t true. Then I got grief, and that is what I was back and forthing about with some there. I even took every link I was given, and reported back.
    This link above, is me replying to malo, and it isn’t about Taslima ‘making’:

    Bullshit. Even after Taslima expressly clarified that she was not talking about all men, you spent your time there
    making baseless internet diagnoses and accusing people of having “anger towards men [that] is so overwhelming that you cannot possibly participate in a discussion like this and stay grounded in reality”,

    – - -
    This is the shit I was getting:

    Seriously, most men and boys I know couldn’t care less about the damage that rape jokes do. And you’re one of them, no doubt – a bitter, stupid mra.

    This is what I said about Taslima (she):

    Malo

    January 5, 2013 at 1:49 pm (UTC 5.5)

    Reply

    I’m pretty sure Taslima isn’t concerned about losing any MRAs as “allies”.

    What’s your point? You have stereotyped MRA’s already, as if standing up for their rights precludes them from standing up for everyone’s rights.

    She should be more concerned with her allies right now.

    Curious, that you think in terms of ‘allies’
    That statement speaks volumes, but you wouldn’t understand. Carry on. Have some more rope.

    I was talking about Malo, and the women there as the allies she should be worried about, because as I keep saying when this shit breaks out, the fucking ones that start with the “poor menz” and “just another MRA” and stereotyping anyone that disagrees with them, those ones are making fools out of themselves and giving the new feminism* movement a bad name. That is what I am concerned about. It’s not my sorry little ass, it’s fucking incompetent all the hysterics and slimy arguing tactics look to outsiders. That is my problem. I have been feminist for fucking 40+ years. Go to facebook, other blogs, take a look at my input. I AM SICK OF THIS SHIT, strange gods before me ॐ.

  326. says

    Fuck, not submit, PREVIEW LOL!

    I was talking to Malo, and the women there as the allies she(Taslima) should be worried about, because as I keep saying when this shit breaks out, the fucking ones that start with the “poor menz” and “just another MRA” and stereotyping anyone that disagrees with them, those ones are making fools out of themselves and giving the new feminism* movement a bad name. That is what I am concerned about. It’s not my sorry little ass, it’s (how the) fucking incompetence and all the hysterics and slimy arguing tactics look to outsiders. That is my problem. I have been feminist for fucking 40+ years. Go to facebook, other blogs, take a look at my input. I AM SICK OF THIS SHIT, strange gods before me ॐ.

    I’ll continue with the rest of your post, but so far you have already misrepresented what I said, strange gods before me .

    I want to thank you for bringing that blog post up, for it is one of the two that Avecenna wrote that insulting faux apology about, and I couldn’t respond to that. Now I get to, and now we will see what I really said and see how I acted.

    I stand by my integrity, sgbm, and I like not being worried about what I’ve said all over the ‘tubes. I haven’t heard back from Maureen yet, if you know what I’m talking about.

    How about we just bury the hatchet. I would like to just quit the accusations and pigeon-holing, and just be able to let the guard down instead of trying to guess who is mad at what. Let’s just be some examples, okay!?? I would like that. I will promise not to include anyone into A+ and/new feminism any more. It’s wrong to begin with, to lump people in with groups with reputations or infamies(?).

    I make my mistakes. We all do, but I suppose an above avg amount in my case, ha ha. But let’s, you and myself, just get on, and if I am out of line, I will work it out with you, and anyone else. I always will work shit out, if I don’t get choked because I am feeling attacked.

    Sound okay, Strange Gods Before Me?

  327. strange gods before me ॐ says

    evilisgood,

    Nobody is kicking anybody here, except maybe we’re kicking each other because joey’s not around to kick (metaphorically) at the moment. Cute baby animals: definitely not being kicked here.

    Nobody said that cute baby animals were being kicked here.

    So, SGBM’s link at #463, I get that. Being upset about cute baby animal pictures does fuckall to change it.

    Nobody said that being upset about cute baby animal pictures does anything to change it.

    +++++
    Tony,

    I see no comparison between treating women as sexual objects and showing a picture of cute platypii.

    And so I explained what objectification means more generally than the specific usage of the term you’re accustomed to, and I asked you a question about it:

    “Any subject can be objectified. While we are most familiar with the term being used in reference to the sexual objectification of women, there is nothing about the term that limits its appropriateness only to that context.

    If a nonhuman animal’s subjectivity is being disregarded or forgotten, and the animal is only being treated or thought of as a means to an end, what else should we call that but objectification?”

    Am I falsely seeing a false equivalence?

    Yes. I’ll try again, substituting “eating” for “kicking” for another example:

    “It’s the activity which is being named; but nothing is necessarily implied about the severity of that activity when directed at different targets. For comparison: we don’t have to believe that eating a dog is quite as bad as eating a human, but we can recognize both as eating.”

    Quoting myself may get annoying, but I don’t know what else to do when I’ve already explained exactly what you’re asking about and you aren’t addressing my explanation. If something I’m saying doesn’t make sense, please let me know what it is.

  328. consciousness razor says

    Nick Gotts:

    I’ve had a busy couple of days, so I’m sorry it’s taken a while to reply. I think we’re both “conceding” the argument to one another. We could count that as losses to each side, I suppose, but I’d prefer to say we both won. ;) Our views don’t seem to be very different on a substantive level, as far as I can tell, yet we’re talking past each other for whatever reason. Pretty much how it went the last time, as I recall.

    I don’t think values are entirely independent of minds or cultural frameworks or assumptions. They are partly dependent; but you could say very much the same about what most people (probably not Plato!) would consider “objective” truth, like ones about whichever empirical phenomena we happen to think are interesting or useful. I think it’s a difference of degree, not of kind. So ethics may indeed have more (or somewhat different) subjective aspects than a field like biology or psychology, but I wanted to be clear that I do agree with you that it isn’t “purely” subjective (or “purely” objective). We can argue about what the impurities are; but if we just have different intuitions about what the significance of “objective truth” is and don’t intend to find some common ground there, I don’t see how we’d get much of an answer that we’ll both understand (much less agree on).

    I’m more than willing to call the sciences “objective,” despite the fact that to do so can lend the impression that I’m disregarding all of its subjective aspects. I’m not trying to do so, because what I mean by it is just that it’s as close to a purely- and ideally-objective process as is possible. When it isn’t as close as possible, that’s when we could meaningfully claim that scientists “are not being objective” in their work. I think that kind of criticism is useful and needed in ethics as well as other fields, to weed out more of the garbage and make some progress, but simply characterizing the whole field as “subjective” undermines this and obscures the issue for no good reason.

    We can have scientific “knowledge,” practically speaking, even though there’s always some room for doubt and disagreement and dependence on our own minds. That’s just how knowing works, if you ask me; because I don’t see the use in saying we can’t really Know™ anything because of our limitations. Science doesn’t have access to a “God’s-eye-view” of reality itself, just our view from our perspective, so I take it that means objectivity doesn’t require eliminating it entirely.

    So, I’ve tried to approach ethical, aesthetic and other non-scientific knowledge with a consistent standard. Perhaps they shouldn’t all get the exact same standard, but I think they can and should be consistent with one another. What I’m trying not to do is compartmentalize how I evaluate scientific knowledge on the one hand and everything else on the other, because I think it’s a distorted view which doesn’t benefit either.

  329. says

    @ David Marjanović

    Would people simply be drawn to anything with juvenile features (relatively large head, underdeveloped facial features…) even if from another species? It seems such a broad brush. Then again, we do readily anthropomorphise in such cases.

    Perhaps the case of vocalisations is more clear cut then. In the case of kittehz, both in kittens and adults (kittenspeak is the basis of their manipulation of us poor humans.) bamboozle us. I have done a bit of homework and come up with an article that goes into just how devious our Fluffy oBerlawds are: The cry embedded in the purr (this triggers feelings of urgency in the hapless human host, who then feels compelled to act.)

    Here we report how domestic cats make subtle use of one of their most characteristic vocalisations — purring — to solicit food from their human hosts, apparently exploiting sensory biases that humans have for providing care.

    … Embedded within the naturally low-pitched purr, we found a high frequency voiced component, reminiscent of a cry or meow, that was crucial in determining urgency and pleasantness …

  330. says

    Ad in the upper left screams “FEMA COFFINS REVEALED”, has pic of large man sitting in a plastic tub big enough to hold 4-5. If I click it does it cost the dofuses $? ::eyeroll::

  331. says

    @ chigau

    the cute response

    I have no doubt this is what teh kittehz seek to exploit. But how they do it – with diabolical subtlety – sneaking wave forms upon wave forms, like little furrier-series mathematicians … dang!

  332. joey says

    theophontes:

    Does the belief in inalienable/inviolable rights fit in your “crap” category?

    Yes that would fit into the “crap” category if seen in absolute terms. These rights only become “inalienable/inviolable” if the society in question has the capacity and will to make it so. No more than that.

    Alright. Here in America women do not have the “right to bodily autonomy” since there exist laws restricting abortion. So what you’re saying is that American women fundamentally don’t possess this right to bodily autonomy until society grants them the right? So when abortion advocates use rhetoric saying that women have this fundamental right, then this is actually false because women don’t have this right to begin with? Rather, it’s that society should grant women this right?

    And exactly at what point would you say a particular “right” exists in society? Is it simply majority vote or when there is actual legislation by the government (if there is a government at all) protecting this “right”?

    These are “rules of the game” we should hold to if we wish to see a just and humane society about us.

    Who is “us”? What if the goal is simply to see a just and humane society about a certain group, such as the Aryan race? Who says that everyone should be included if a particular society doesn’t want everyone included? It certainly has happened throughout history.

    History is replete with examples of what happens when societies do not have a universal standard of dignity for all their members.

    No doubt.

    —————————
    Amphiox:

    But given your description of dignity, do you think people should give people dignity? If so, then what would be the fundamental reason why you feel everyone should be doing so?

    Gooey still perseverating with the absolutist thinking, I see. There are no “fundamental” reasons. Only relative ones.

    And the relative reason is simple. I want other people to treat me with dignity, and to treat the people I care about with dignity. And the best way to ensure that is to encourage everyone to treat everyone else with dignity.

    That seems like a pretty selfish reason. But let’s buy this reason, for now. Given such, I would disagree that the “best way” to ensure that other people treat me with dignity is to encourage everyone to treat everyone else with dignity. No, the best way to ensure that other people treat me with dignity is to encourage (or better yet force, if you have the means) everyone to treat me with dignity. If someone not being treated with dignity never gets around to adversely affecting me, then why exactly should I care?

    So no, I don’t buy your selfish reason at all. Rather, I would say that the reason we should treat others with dignity is because they actually have dignity.

    ———————
    Nick Gotts:

    Are you a parent? If you see your kid bullying another kid, wouldn’t you try to convince your kid that it’s wrong to do so? Or would you think it would make no practical difference?

    Stone me, but you;re stupid. Of course I would – but I wouldn’t start babbling about “intrinsic worth” because it’s just meaningless noise. Rather, I would draw on the capacity for empathy which all non-psychopaths have, trying to get my child to imagine what it would be like to be bullied.

    But the notion of human value underlies this “capacity of empathy” of which you speak. Let’s say my son is bullying a child and I want to draw upon empathy in order for my son to stop bullying. The assumption is that my son first values himself as a person and wouldn’t want to be bullied himself. Empathy results if my son comes to recognize the bullied person as another person with value/worth just like his own. Otherwise, if my son doesn’t recognize the same amount of value in the bullied person, then little to no empathy would result.

    For example, I don’t value cows the same way I value humans. As a result, I don’t nearly have the same amount of empathy for the cow that prematurely lost its life to be the main ingredient in my dinner as I do a person who got murdered by a bunch of thieves. (It’s not that I don’t have any empathy at all for the cow, but not nearly enough that would cause me to stop eating beef.)

    Also, where was the empathy of the slave-owners to the slave? There was little to none simply because the slave-owners didn’t recognize the same amount of value/worth in the slaves. Same can be said in any society (past or present) where the “undesirables” (whether they be women, children, Jews, black people, the handicapped, etc.) are inhumanely treated.

    You’re not being fundamental enough. Why do you care about the interests and preferences of others to begin with, which would motivate you to do things that would make other people better off?

    If that’s a causal why – how does it come about that I care about others – then the answer would be a complex one, involving evolutionary biology, cultural history, and my own biography.

    A much simpler response that would also have answered my question is that you simply value others. Is that not true?

    If you need more than concern for the interests and preferences of others to motivate you to behave well towards them, you are a psychopath.

    And so what if someone is a psychopath? You keep repeating that word to serve as some sort of mental backstop, but let’s actually explore it. Let’s say someone doesn’t care about the interests and preferences of others, or at least a certain group of people. Is that wrong?

  333. says

    OK: Fourier series allows us to create wave forms of our choosing, by adding simple waveforms together. Essentially a complex waveform can be broken down into a series of far simpler component waveforms.

    Diagram here. The complicated wave forms seen from figure 2 onwards can all be assembled from series of simple equations based on the sin wave (per figure 1). The maths then becomes really easy (we can calculate each term in the series with little effort, for example with a simple computer program) and we can stop computing at any point in the series once the results are sufficiently accurate.

  334. says

    @ joey

    So what you’re saying is that American women fundamentally don’t possess this right to bodily autonomy until society grants them the right?

    In practical terms: yes. If the right is taken away by their society, they then lack that right. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights only has effect when a society has the will, and the means, to apply it. Though women and allies in the US may struggle for that day, it does not apply … well… until it does. (joey, you realise it is not magic? Unlike the magical bible|koran|tora -right? /snark)

    So when abortion advocates use rhetoric saying that women have this fundamental right, then this is actually false because women don’t have this right to begin with?

    The advocates grant women these rights – as they should – and will deal accordingly. Unfortunately a majority in society do not (or a powerful enough minority). I am afraid you are trying to make this a game of semantics, whereas it is a very down-to-earth practicality: you can only exercise your claim to anything if you have the power to do so. (I shall happily grant you the air you breath. The wave that crashes down on you might not. Your “right” to breath is not magical in any way.)

    Rather, it’s that society should grant women this right?

    Indeed. Appeals to authority “Rights of Mankind”, “Morality”, higher powers and whatnot, have no real meaning before this.

    And exactly at what point would you say a particular “right” exists in society?

    When it can be applied. If I, as a slave, say I have a right to freedom, that is all very well, but to all intents and purposes meaningless until my slave-master can (be forced to) concede to this. This does not mean it is not a very important goal to strive for in any case. I might even, while a slave, state: “I have a right to dignity and freedom”. But this is, given the actualities, little more than stating an opinion. It is meaningless unless borne out by the fact of my actual freedom.

    Is it simply majority vote or when there is actual legislation by the government (if there is a government at all) protecting this “right”?

    Though legislation is hugely helpful to people who’s rights are denied by their societies, it is certainly not sufficient.

    South Africa is a case in point. The constitution guarantees the rights of all citizens and residents of the Republic. The law has been amended accordingly. And yet, even today, there are attacks on gay people in certain communities. Obviously the victims of such attacks do not have the capacity to enjoy their rights in those communities. This, in practical terms, means they have not yet achieved those rights, in spite of all the political and legislative efforts and the respect of these rights by society at large. (If such an attack were an aberration, it would still – in the moment- be depriving the victim of hir rights.)

  335. John Morales says

    joey dismisses Amphiox out of hand:

    [1] Given such, I would disagree that the “best way” to ensure that other people treat me with dignity is to encourage everyone to treat everyone else with dignity. [2] No, the best way to ensure that other people treat me with dignity is to encourage (or better yet force, if you have the means) everyone to treat me with dignity. If someone not being treated with dignity never gets around to adversely affecting me, then why exactly should I care?

    1. Not only would you do so, but you have done so by implication.

    2. But isn’t attempting to coerce people insulting their dignity?

    So no, I don’t buy your selfish reason at all. Rather, I would say that the reason we should treat others with dignity is because they actually have dignity.

    You would, would you?

    (I’m not surprised; making shit up is the religious modus, and misusing the subjunctive is typical of bombasts)

  336. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    Let’s say someone doesn’t care about the interests and preferences of others, or at least a certain group of people. Is that wrong? – joey

    Joey, joey, joey. It obviously doesn’t matter how many times someone explains their viewpoint to you, you are utterly determined not to understand anything different from your own – presumably because you realize at some level that your own cannot withstand critical scrutiny. Yes, in terms of my system of values, it’s wrong. What I mean by that is that I will try to stop them harming others by trampling on their interests and preferences. If I have the opportunity, I will try to find and nurture any latent capacity for empathy they may have. I will support research into the causes of psychopathy, and what if anything can be done to prevent or change it. What I don’t do is try to fool myself that my values are somehow written into the fabric of the universe.