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Uke Blue 00:53, 20 June 2012 (UTC)

Classical liberals[edit]

I like many of the philosophers who are lumped into this camp (e.g., Smith, Mill), though they're often misinterpreted (or appropriated might be more accurate) today as market fundamentalists. Some of their alleged followers also tend to forget that they were arguing against the system of mercantilism at the time -- they didn't live to see the rise of corporate power in today's world. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 06:40, 3 July 2012 (UTC)

For the record, I love you. JS Mill's Harm Principle is probably the "prime directive" of my philosophy. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 07:00, 3 July 2012 (UTC)
The devil is in the details. The difference I have with so-called libertarians is that I reject a strict distinction between positive and negative liberties in addition to the warped idea that only the gummint can do harm. Anyone whining about the nanny state should take a look at life in the company towns ca. the late 1800s. Doesn't get much more "nanny" than that. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 07:13, 3 July 2012 (UTC)


Good catch on Locke. I agree for what it's worth. AceThe Rep Grows Bigger 01:31, 14 July 2012 (UTC)

Thanks. By the by, I'm new to wikis, so I ask: what is the philosophy for wikis, and this one in particular, regarding defunct and/or irrelevant edits, like this one, and perhaps the one on the talk page for Libertarian regarding Locke? Just leave it be for all time? LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 01:38, 14 July 2012 (UTC)
just leave as is. AceThe Rep Grows Bigger 01:40, 14 July 2012 (UTC)


LiquidThread. Тytalk 02:21, 14 July 2012 (UTC)


Some friendly advice -- you might want to read up on methodological naturalism before you put something in your profile that might get you mistaken for a cdesign proponentsist. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 04:46, 21 July 2012 (UTC)

I don't quite understand the article - is it saying that "methodological naturalism" should be understood as the implicit rejection of religious propositions while doing science? Ok ... how does it propose to define religious propositions except as by cultural convention or by falsification? I addressed specifically this in my rant - denying propositions according to arcane and arbitrary cultural conventions is bogus, and denying untestable propositions is inherent in the definition of science and thus superfluous. I'm denying the usefulness of the whole natural-supernatural dichotomy. It has too many orthogonal connotations to make use of it. Instead, the useful dichotomy should be testable and not-testable. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 04:53, 21 July 2012 (UTC)
It means this is not allowed in science. Besides that, it is not used as an "anti-religious code word." Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 05:01, 21 July 2012 (UTC)
So, your claim is that natural in this case is definitionally equivalent to testable? Because that's the only way I'll agree. My rant was about the other possible fluff that goes into it, and how poor of a choice of words "natural" vs "supernatural", because that unfairly biases the term against religion, which I think is wrong. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 05:03, 21 July 2012 (UTC)
"... which means they can be measured, quantified and studied methodically." Just sayin', if you claim to be a scientist and then call methodological naturalism "bullshit" on your page, it might elicit a few chuckles. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 05:08, 21 July 2012 (UTC)
Also, just because I like to upset the apple cart, what you call "physics reductionism" is usually referred to as "physicalism." However, this position does not entail the reduction of all the "special sciences" to physics (if that's indeed what you are arguing). Check out Jerry Fodor's arguments pertaining to this (see here for the original paper). Also check out eliminative materialism for another perspective on that. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 05:29, 21 July 2012 (UTC)
Except that the page says: Although there are many questions about how physicalism should be formulated and understood—for instance, what “physical” means and whether the relevant determination/dependency relation is “supervenience” (Kim 1993) or “realization” (Melnyk 2003, Shoemkaer 2007). I want supervenient on physics. That's the key proposition, and the only proposition to "physics reductionism", and there seems to be disagreement on whether physicalism means that.
Ah, it's talking about the supervenience/multiple realizability debate in philosophy of mind. (Fodor's main work is in that area.) Calling the combination of supervenience and physicalism "physics reductionism" is an oxymoron -- it would obviously be supervenient physicalism. Unless you're actually claiming that everything can be reduced to physics, which would be a hard form of the unity of science argument. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 02:45, 1 August 2012 (UTC)

Miracles are not allowed explanations in science[edit]

Quoting Nebuchadnezzar: "It means this is not allowed in science."

I must disagree most strongly. While there is a kernel of truth in there somewhere, that you post that, I think that you grossly miss the point so far that I'll call it incorrect. A miracle is a perfectly allowed explanation in science. For example, if in the next release of the journal of Science, the words to a specific prayer were published, that when said, turned any water in any held cup into wine, and other people could do this on demand, then "a miracle" is a perfectly apt and correct description of it. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 05:48, 21 July 2012 (UTC)

Let me try to deconstruct that picture. First and foremost, it's a god of the gaps argument. However, a god of the gaps argument is not a priori incorrect. The water-to-wine prayer, if existent, would be science. However, god of the gap arguments almost invariably are not testable. That's why they're not science. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 05:48, 21 July 2012 (UTC)

Second: There's another possible interpretation, that "a miracle" is insufficiently precise, that there is an underlying cause. This is also bogus. I think this is endemic of of a complete misunderstanding of science. Please see: Feynman 'Fun to Imagine' 4: Magnets (and 'Why?' questions...). In short, all scientific explanations will eventually resolve down to "I don't know. It works that way. I know this because the evidence says so, but I don't know why or how". Miracles in this sense are perfectly acceptable explanations, just as acceptable as the existence of gravity and the equations of quantum mechanics. Again, the reason why miracles almost invariably fail as legitimate scientific explanations is that they're not testable nor repeatable. Again, to use the water-to-wine prayer example. If the student was writing up the constituent parts of water, wrote "-> miracle ->", then wrote the constituent parts of wine, then he would be fully correct and fully scientific. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 05:48, 21 July 2012 (UTC)

Thirdly: there's the possible interpretation that miracles do not happen. Again, this is not a priori reasoning. It's not a methodology. It's a result, a conclusion, based on our evidence and our pre-existing methodologies. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 05:48, 21 July 2012 (UTC)

Then we're arguing over definitions. Again, methodological naturalism deals with what "can be measured, quantified and studied methodically." Supernatural "miracles" in the sense that you're using the word then become "natural" causes or phenomena. But this still precludes science from dealing with metaphysical entities that are posited in such a way that they don't have any of the above characteristics, e.g., Last Thursdayism. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 03:00, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
So, methodological naturalism is merely the prohibition against untestable and unrepeatable explanations? Do you believe this is the common understanding of the term ("methodological naturalism", "natural", "supernatural")? I believe there is great confusion and disagreement over the terms - see the PZ Myers thought experiment above. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 03:28, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
The thought experiment begs the question by assuming that some scientific explanation could be given for the existence of the 300 ft. Jesus. If it could be, then the 300 ft. Jesus can be said to be a natural phenomenon. If it can't be, then we have two options. One, our scientific instrumentation is currently insufficient to be able to explain the 300 ft. Jesus. Two, the 300 ft. Jesus operates in a realm beyond scientific explanation (i.e., the supernatural) by being inexplicable in principle by naturalistic methods and interacts with the natural universe by temporarily suspending its laws. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 03:38, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
You still fail to grasp your fundamental error. I again suggest to (re)watch the Feynman video linked above. You have some sort of mental block similar to "if science cannot explain it in terms of physics or some such, then it's not science". I've been trying to emphasize that this is simply wrong. It doesn't matter if the 300 ft tall Jesus violates physics in every way, warps space, teleports around, and otherwise does crazy things. If we can observe it, we can form predictive models based on our observations, and do new observations to test those predictive models. We do not need to reduce it to some simpler model. Perhaps the model is "free floating". It can still be science. "Any sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from science!" Science is not the same thing as physics reductionism. To further emphasize and explain the Feynman video, how does science explain magnets? No really, how do magnets work? You could try to talk about the electromagnetic field, photons, and so on, but at each step I'll just ask how that works. Why does a changing electric current induce a magnetic field, and vice versa? How does that work? We don't know. It is, because the evidence says so. Similarly, how does that 300 ft tall Jesus work? Perhaps we don't know, but we can still form falsifiable predictions based on past experience concerning the 300 ft tall Jesus, so it's still science. Finally, there is a hidden insinuation in there somewhere that perhaps it's just not subject to inductive reasoning. I reject that. I must reject that. Inductive reasoning is all we have. It is perfectly legitimate to say "well, he just eye-lazored the last 10 people who approached it without fail, so I figure that the next person who approaches it will also get eye-lazored". I completely fail to even comprehend what it would mean for inductive reasoning to not work. It would be a universe of "pure chaos". It's beyond human comprehension. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 08:16, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
"You have some sort of mental block similar to "if science cannot explain it in terms of physics or some such, then it's not science"." Not at all, I've been precisely arguing against this idea in the previous section. This is also the reason why I'm trying to move away from meaningless neologisms like "physics reductionism," which are, IMO, obfuscatory at worst and redundant at best.
"If we can observe it, we can form predictive models based on our observations, and do new observations to test those predictive models." Again, begging the question. Why can we assume this? What if 300 ft. Jesus' actions are not predictable in any way whatosever? And why should we assume that they are predictable? If they are not predictable, then obviously there is absolutely no way to build predictive models based on observation. I never said anything about reducing it to a simpler model. Also, you can have deterministic processes that are unpredictable.
As for the "why-regress," this is not equivalent to "magic." See, e.g., Lipton's What Good Is an Explanation?
"Similarly, how does that 300 ft tall Jesus work? Perhaps we don't know, but we can still form falsifiable predictions based on past experience concerning the 300 ft tall Jesus, so it's still science." This is what I'm contesting. So we have the explanandum, i.e. 300 ft. Jesus, and the explanans, i.e. the explanation of 300 ft. Jesus. Why is there any reason to suppose that that there is an explanans (or a scientific explanans, at least) in this case? All you're doing is assuming phenomenon x must have an explanans, because you said so. I don't know how else to phrase this if you can't see how this is not just a massive case of begging the question. (BTW, falsifiability is not a universally accepted criterion for a solution to the demarcation problem, but then again, nothing is.)
" Finally, there is a hidden insinuation in there somewhere that perhaps it's just not subject to inductive reasoning. I reject that." Meet my friend David Hume and his problem of induction. Tell me when you've solved his problem.
My basic point here is that you're glossing over massive amounts of complexity. If the entire theoretical apparatus you're building up here is an attempt to put everything that is conceivable within the realm of scientific explanation, you might as well say so straight up. You're going to run up against a number of brick walls, i.e. unsolved philosophical problems, in the process, though. Lots of fun stuff to think about, though. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 09:00, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
All conceivable "things" are subject to science? Not necessarily. All observable "things" are subject to science? Of course yes. What sort of "unsolved philosophical problems" do you think I should look at / which are relevant? LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 10:41, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
Depends on your definition of "observable." You are correct in saying that the why-regress ultimately leads to the circular answer of "science works because it does." However, that doesn't make an explanans equivalent to "miracle" in terms of its own level of explanation. (Again, see Lipton.) A consistent philosophical description of science remains elusive. Two of the big problems here are the demarcation problem and the problem of induction. The latter is where the 300 ft. Jesus argument hits a very large brick wall, because we have to either assume or argue by induction that 300 ft. Jesus will yield to some kind of scientific observation. I wouldn't say that that's an unreasonable argument, but it doesn't definitively preclude the supernatural, because you've either excluded that a priori or used induction, which results in a circular argument because induction itself is based on circular reasoning (Hume). Demarcation and induction are two of the ones I'd look into, because every attempt to ground science in a logical framework more rigorous than "Well, it's worked better than making shit up" seems to have failed. A third fun problem is causation, which Hume and Russell wrote lengthy deconstructions of. There's also more recent interesting work on causation as folk science, actually similar to what Feynman is talking about in some ways. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 22:15, 1 August 2012 (UTC)

"A consistent philosophical description of science remains elusive." I politely disagree. The problem of induction is not a problem. The problem of induction is invoked only by wangsters or contrarians. It is entirely without merit. You take induction axiomatically, or I consider you clinically insane. "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again, getting the same result each time, and expecting a novel result the next time." The demarcation problem has been solved since Popper. Finally, the cited paper on causation is too confused to be understood. It reminds me of sophisticated theology, saying nothing but sounding impressive while doing so. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 23:09, 1 August 2012 (UTC)

"The latter is where the 300 ft. Jesus argument hits a very large brick wall, because we have to either assume or argue by induction that 300 ft. Jesus will yield to some kind of scientific observation." This is too confused to make any sense. Of course the 300 ft tall Jesus is open to scientific observation. Can you see the 300 ft tall Jesus? If yes, then it is open to (scientific) observation. Is it invisible, intangible, inaudible, and the eye-lazors don't actually do damage? Then you don't have something observable, "scientific observable" or not. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 23:14, 1 August 2012 (UTC)

"I politely disagree." [citation needed] If such a thing existed, I'm willing to bet it would be the most cited work in philosophy of science.
"The problem of induction is not a problem. The problem of induction is invoked only by wangsters or contrarians. It is entirely without merit. You take induction axiomatically, or I consider you clinically insane." LOL! Argument by assertion much? Induction has a bad habit of breaking down when you're dealing with non-linear phenomena. Just ask the guys at Long-Term Capital Management. I guess you might as well file Hume, Popper, and me in with the clinically insane 'wangsters and contrarians.' And so much for the polite disagreement, unless that was just a bit of subtle snark.
Is there a page for "naive induction"? Because that's what you're doing. And I'm deadly serious. If you deny that "induction works", then there is absolutely no starting point for a shared conversation. How else are you going to model and describe long term capital management? You're going to base it off the evidence, right? Not some Austrian free-floating scheme that blithely ignores reality? The use of evidence is induction. This is definitional. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 06:23, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
"The demarcation problem has been solved since Popper." [citation needed] again. Popper's principle of falsification annoys many people because it allows obvious pseudosciences like astrology to be considered "science," albeit falsified and really terrible science, but science nonetheless.
Yes, and? I don't see this as a problem. I see it as a strength. We can evaluate these terms in the context of science and thereby call them wrong. This is just the worst kind of semantic wordgames. I see absolutely no merit at all to this point. None. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 06:23, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
Don't get me wrong, I love me some Popper, but there are also loads of other problems with falsification. There's the problem raised by the Duhem-Quine thesis (although I'd say Popper anticipated this to some extent).
Yes. I also don't see this as a problem. You cannot falsify a hypothesis in isolation. You try to instead go with the most consistent and predictively accurate model(s). I don't see a problem here. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 06:23, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
There's also the fact that falsification was devised as a work-around for the problem of induction! Popper wanted to get rid of the idea of induction from science (or, more accurately, he actually thought science didn't work by induction at all anyway). But never mind Popper, he's just a clinically insane wangster!
Meh, I'm sorry that Popper is silly. I clearly claimed (IMHO) that anyone who denies induction or questions induction (ala invoking the "problem of induction") is a wanker. If someone instead merely wishes to use an equivalent axiomatic framework, then I won't be calling them a wanker. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 06:23, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
"Finally, the cited paper on causation is too confused to be understood. It reminds me of sophisticated theology, saying nothing but sounding impressive while doing so." Which one? Or all of them? Causation (at least in its folk form) has long been dead. See SEP on this for an outline if those don't make sense -- although I'm not sure how far you'll get if you're just going to blow off philosophy as some kind of secular theology. BTW, love this quote from Russell (yeah, that one) on the page: "The law of causation,… is a relic of a bygone age, surviving, like the monarchy, only because it is erroneously supposed to do no harm." Pretty harsh -- and you won't find many who were stronger supporters of science than guys like Russell and Hume.
I don't see how this is relevant at all. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 06:23, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
"This is too confused to make any sense. Of course the 300 ft tall Jesus is open to scientific observation. Can you see the 300 ft tall Jesus? If yes, then it is open to (scientific) observation. Is it invisible, intangible, inaudible, and the eye-lazors don't actually do damage? Then you don't have something observable, "scientific observable" or not." No, it's really pretty simple. Seeing something does not mean the thing in itself is open to scientific investigation, and vice versa. If someone else is actually hallucinating the 300 ft. Jesus, I can't see it but it's certainly open to scientific investigation via psychology. If everyone can see the 300 ft. tall Jesus and we say for the sake of argument that it is interacting with the natural world, then it may either be fully natural (perhaps it's just some ultra-advanced piece of technology) or it could be some type of natural-supernatural interaction. There are all sorts of metaphysical escape hatches and trump cards that can be cooked up for this (e.g., 300 ft. Jesus is the avatar of some deity outside of space and time who doesn't obey any of the laws of the universe, and the 300 ft. Jesus does not act in any predictable manner such that any meaningful observations can be made about it.) There's always some metaphysical escape hatch that can be invoked to confound science, e.g. again Last Thursdayism. Is it really shitty philosophy? You bet, but it can't be disproved.
You of all people should know why this is wrong. You're conflating science with some sort of scientific realism. You're implicitly claiming that without a "grounding" of "physical reality" that you can't practice science. I say "you of all people" because you've already agreed with me elsewhere that we could be in The Matrix or Last Thursdayism and we would never know. That doesn't stop the application of science, aka inductive reasoning, to predict future events. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 06:23, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
This is why 300 ft. Jesus does not work as an argument. I don't see how it can be made any simpler: You have to a priori assume away any variants of 300 ft. Jesus that are not explicable in terms of science, or make an inductive leap equivalent to this. The problem here is that you take induction as axiomatic, but there's no logical reason to do so. And this is what I mean by just glossing over massive complications, i.e. asserting that the problem of induction isn't really a problem (not to mention claiming that the demarcation problem has been "solved," although that's somewhat tangential to 300 ft. Jesi). All you have here is one massive argument by assertion.
"All you have here is one massive argument by assertion." Yes, that's what an axiom means. I will call anyone a wanker, yourself included, if you disagree with the axiom that inductive reasoning is the only viable method to achieving knowledge about observable things, and that while not perfect it works on all observable things. Yes, it's a naked fiat. I don't have a problem with this. Finally, you missed a memo when you said: "The problem here is that you take induction as axiomatic, but there's no logical reason to do so.". Pray tell, please explain to me the "logical" alternative to using an axiomatic belief system. You're making it sound like having axioms is a bad thing. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 06:23, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
You also have to bite the bullet on Popper and induction. Either he was just some crazy old foolish wangster who didn't understand science and induction is valid, leaving you with the unsolved problem of demarcation, or Popper's criterion was correct and you have to give up induction as axiomatic. Which will it be? Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 02:47, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
As I explained earlier, I was reserving the "wanker" insult to anyone who denies inductive reasoning. I am not using it for those who want to use an equivalent axiomatic framework. I can have my cake and eat it too. Falsification is right, it solves the demarcing problem, and induction is taken axiomatically. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 06:23, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
Ah well, I thought we were getting somewhere here, but I guess not. Let's try again:
"Is there a page for "naive induction"? Because that's what you're doing. And I'm deadly serious. If you deny that "induction works", then there is absolutely no starting point for a shared conversation." Er, no, it's perfectly reasonable to go out and try to get that sample from the 300 ft. Jesus based on prior knowledge. My argument is that it's begging the question to assume that the 300 ft. Jesus must yield to scientific investigation and thus we can throw out the possibility of the supernatural altogether. The problem of induction precludes us from assuming that every observable phenomenon must be amenable to scientific investigation.
"You of all people should know why this is wrong. You're conflating science with some sort of scientific realism. You're implicitly claiming that without a "grounding" of "physical reality" that you can't practice science." No, I'm really not. You can practice science (in this case, try to give a scientific explanation for 300 ft. Jesus), but you can't assume that all observable phenomena (in this case, 300 ft. Jesus) must yield to scientific explanation due to the problem of induction.
"...inductive reasoning is the only viable method to achieving knowledge about observable things..." Uh, what about deductive and abductive reasoning?
"As I explained earlier, I was reserving the "wanker" insult to anyone who denies inductive reasoning." Some choice quotes from Popper's "Problem of Induction": "I hold with Hume that there simply is no such logical entity as an inductive inference; or, that all so-called inductive inferences are logically invalid - and even inductively invalid, to put it more sharply...I agree with Hume's opinion that induction is invalid and in no sense justified...Thus if induction is 'inductively valid' it will almost always lead to false conclusions; and therefore it is inductively invalid." Read the whole thing, as they say, but Popper is pretty clearly denying inductive reasoning here. Popper the wanker?
"I am not using it for those who want to use an equivalent axiomatic framework. I can have my cake and eat it too. Falsification is right, it solves the demarcing problem, and induction is taken axiomatically." Is Popper's framework equivalent to induction? Doesn't sound like it to me. And no, it still doesn't solve the demarcation problem. You can even check Wikipedia -- try Lakatos' and Laudan's replies for starters.
It's been a good BS session, though I'm not sure how inclined I am to keep BSing (either this week or last week) if you're just going to keep blowing off arguments you clearly don't understand as "insanity" cooked up by some "wangsters." Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 08:22, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
1- One quick aside: I doubt Popper denies that using evidence to construct predictive falsifiable models is "bad" or "doesn't work". At this point, Popper is playing some semantic word games, and in practice he still uses evidence, so if he doesn't want to call that "induction"; whatever. It's just topicality arguments, arguments over definition, and those are the worst kind of arguments. - 2- On to the main point. You're disagreeing with my axiom with your own naked fiats, so yes the conversation is about over. I do not understand what it means for the methods of science to always produce wrong models when trying to create falsifiable predictive models when observing the 300 ft tall Jesus. You're just saying "no it's not" because of some arbitrary and ill-defined label of "supernatural". Thus far, your claim is "well, there might exist supernatural things, and by definition supernatural means not subject to science". It's your own naked fiat. Thus, we're at a war of axioms, and thus the conversation is probably nearing its end. At this point, I can only try persuasion and a "polite" form of ridicule, aka to point out "apparent" absurdities in your arguments. For the 300 ft tall Jesus, are you saying that the models will always be "wrong", or perhaps "always 50% right and 50% wrong" aka orthogonal? I don't think you've clearly thought through the implications here. We can refine our predictive models with the more prior experience we obtain. The idea that the model will always remain the same amount of "wrong" even as we further refine and redo it is completely nonsensical. The idea that the model will always remain the same amount of "wrong" even as its changed is fast approaching Russell's self referential paradox. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 19:17, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
Addendum. Last Thursdayism isn't enough if it's an isolated event. I admit that if you go with full-on real-time mindrape, then sure, science may not work, because you cannot practice inductive reasoning while being constantly mindraped. I guess I'll willing to acquiesce that point. So, science only works when you're not being constantly mindraped. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 19:40, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
As for Feyerbend, perhaps he can find instances of historical things being called "science" which violates the idea that "you gather evidence, form falsifiable predictive models, test models by gathering more evidence, repeat", but that in and of itself is not an argument of the lack of an objective bright-line distinction. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 19:48, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
Lauden is even worse. I'm not quite sure from the pithy summary, but it sounds like he's attacking the strawman "only scientific beliefs can be well-founded". "None of the past attempts would be accepted by a majority of philosophers nor, in his view, should they be accepted by them or by anyone else." If the criteria is to exclude astrology as "not scientific", then I happily and proudly disagree. Again, it's one of science's strength to help us distinguish between truth and falsehood, so I am quite happy that it applies and falsifies astrology, Christian young Earth creationism, and so on. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 19:48, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
All right, let's have a little more fun. First off, I never said that science will always produce incorrect models of the 300 ft. Jesus. I said that there's a probability that science may not be able to produce any models of 300 ft. Jesus due to the problem of induction (i.e., we can't inductively conclude that science can solve this problem because it has solved similar problems in the past). Furthermore, although this is tangential to my main point, I even said that by Bayesian reasoning, it would be reasonable to attempt to perform many rigorous scientific tests on the 300 ft. Jesus, and on top of that, failure to produce an explanation may be due to the fact that our technology is too primitive rather than the 300 ft. Jesus being truly supernatural. I don't see how you get "science will always produce incorrect models" from this.
Acceptable. So, you claim that something is "truly supernatural" definitionally iff "the methods of science do not produce useful correct predictive models when studying it". Meh - sure. I don't think that's the consensus definition of "supernatural". Then again, I don't even know if there is a consensus definition. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 21:30, 23 August 2012 (UTC)
Now, let's say I grant you that induction and Popperian falsifiability are not mutually exclusive for the sake of argument. Falsifiability cannot be used as the sole criterion to demarcate science from non-science/pseudoscience. The Kuhnian notion of paradigm shifts throws a monkey wrench into this in terms of how science operates in the real world. Falsifiability could perhaps serve as a means of demarcation in an ideal world, but we don't live in that world. Though you don't need to buy Kuhn wholesale to accept this argument. This was one of my reasons for mentioning Lakatos -- his synthesis of Popperian falsification and Kuhnian paradigm shifts is excellent. He argues that a "research program" always has a non-falsifiable "hard core" of tenets. (See Falsification and the Methodology of Scientific Research Programs.) Thus, Lakatos offers a strong argument that neither Popper nor Kuhn solved the demarcation problem. This is what I mean when I say you arbitrarily declare massive philosophical problems "solved" and thereby gloss over massive amounts of complexity and problems with the arguments. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 20:44, 23 August 2012 (UTC)
I think we've strayed pretty far from my original claim. I claimed that science will work on the 300 ft tall Jesus, or perhaps more weakly we ought to operate as if science will work on the 300 ft tall Jesus. You've then thrown around what I consider to be only tangentially related, rather academic and arcane points. All of these various philosophers will probably agree on specific instances of what is and is not good scientific practice, but they're disagreeing over the formalization and which axiomization is "correct". I think that's largely irrelevant to whether I can claim that we ought to use science to form predictive models of observable phenomena, and that we ought to operate as though the process of science (largely) produces correct predictive models. -- Having said that, this side conversation is still fun. From your Lakatos paper, a quote: "inductivists held they had probably [for Euclidean geometry and Newtonian mechanics]. For the dogmatic falsificationist, however, empirical counterevidence is the one and only arbiter which may judge a theory." As I understand this, that means Popper denies the utility of judging theories based on their correct predictive power, or lack thereof. That's just silly. Perhaps pedantically correct in a certain sense, but just silly. "Invisible garage dragon" theories and "deist god" theories, etc., are not falsified, but they lack all predictive power. Whereas Newtonian mechanics and General Relativity have "verified" or "confirmed" predictive power. I am going to differentiate between "good" or "useful" theories and "bad" theories using that criterion. (And of course other criteria too.) (I recall reading this reply on wikipedia or somewhere else. Sorry for forgetting the source.) LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 21:30, 23 August 2012 (UTC)
Hey, it seems Lakatos is a pretty cool guy. I'm continuing to read, and he's making more or less the same complaints against Popper which I am. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 22:13, 23 August 2012 (UTC)
Ok, I went back and reread it, looking for what must be the critical part that I missed. It seems that the critical argument only a reference via a footnote, and the main argument is not present. That's annoying. Page 171: "Of course, replacing proof by probability was a major retreat for justificationist thought. But even this retreat turned out to be insufficient. It was soon shown, mainly by Popper's persistent efforts, that under very general conditions all theories have zero probability, whatever the evidence; all theories are not only equally unprovable but also equally improbable.[6]". The footnote reads: "For a detailed discussion, cf. my [1968a], especially pp. 353 ff.". I think this is the critical piece where I disagree. I don't accept right now such an outrageous statement. Is this just pandering again to the problem of induction? Uggg, I hope not. I'll have to see if I can track that down later. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 22:22, 23 August 2012 (UTC)
"...or perhaps more weakly we ought to operate as if science will work on the 300 ft tall Jesus." Ah, now I think we almost agree! The thing is, you want to eliminate the possibility of the supernatural altogether as I'm reading it. I'm saying that, while I accept all the arguments against supernatural causation make it seem unlikely, the possibility can never be totally ruled out. I am using these "arcane points" (e.g., problem of induction) to make this argument. The demarcation problem is a bit tangential, though still relevant because we're talking about what kinds of questions science can answer. In short, you say "Any sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from science." I say, "True, but this only applies to 'magic' we can sufficiently analyze. There remains a possibility that we may at some point encounter 'real magic' (i.e., the supernatural) that cannot be scientifically analyzed. While unlikely, there is no logically valid way to disprove it." Similarly, this is why I bring up Last Thursdayism. Yes, it's silly from an evidential standpoint, but it is still logically valid. By analogy, it seems to me that you're just defining Last Thursdayism as false a priori, which I object to. Perhaps that clears things up a bit.
"Hey, it seems Lakatos is a pretty cool guy." Heh, maybe I should have started out with him! He takes the best from Popper and Kuhn and combines it. In terms of the argument about probability, I don't have the paper he cites but this page may help a bit. The relevant part is about halfway in. Basically, he's saying given the data alone, there are an infinite number of hypothetical theories that could explain it. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 06:54, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
Meh, just sounds like another version of arguing by the problem of induction. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 07:09, 24 August 2012 (UTC)

Why does objective morality annoy you so much?[edit]

The annoyance is clear. But the reasons why, you are not as clear as you could be. Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 08:12, 23 August 2012 (UTC)

Mm. I'll see if I can add a succinct version. In short, I see it as a wholly illogical and inconsistent kind of belief that religious people use to try and claim moral superiority to us atheists. They try to claim a categorical difference in how they justify their morals, and then claim that this categorical difference means they're more moral. They then go straight to "if you don't have objective morality, then what stops you from raping or killings if you wanted to?". I think there's a third option besides cultural and moral relativism and "objective morality" - it's called standing up for what you believe to be good, and telling the other asshats that they're asshats. -- To be clear, I will not impose any arbitrary "moral" or cultural norm on someone else. However, as Sam Harris has said, if we can say anything, it is that the Afghanistan Taliban way of life is demonstrably and clearly worse for human happiness and well being. If you're willing to concede that, and you're not a divine command theorist, then you're already in my camp. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 08:36, 23 August 2012 (UTC)
Belief in objective morality isn't inherently religious. While undoubtedly it is most common among the religious, it is possible for an atheist to believe in objective morality, and it is possible for a theist (or whatnot) to disbelieve in it. It sounds like at least some of your opposition is based on people claiming objective moral status for moral views you disagree with; but belief in objective morality is separate from what that morality is. A person could believe in a socially liberal objective morality just as much as a socially conservative one. I myself, I believe in objective morality, but my objective morality is socially liberal — I support marriage equality; I'm pro-choice; I'm reasonably positive about feminism (it's not perfect, but overall it's done more good than harm); etc, etc. Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 08:51, 23 August 2012 (UTC)
But your 'objective' morality is based on 'subjective', or possibly relativistic, presuppositions. I believe that hurting people is wrong. However, that is an absolute presupposition. I have no objective basis. Oh, I could go all utilitarian but then that's a subjective presupposition. In the end it's turtles all the way down. Bad Faith (talk) 09:20, 23 August 2012 (UTC)
Now you are switching to what we might call philosophical or logical arguments against objective morality, which is a rather different kettle of fish from what seems to be driving LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant here. I would say that objectivity/subjectivity is not about what "base" or "presuppositions" one has; a class of statements (not directly referring to people's beliefs) is objective if it is capable of being true or false independently of whether people believe it to be true or false. For me to believe that morality is objective, I just have to believe that moral statements as a class have that property. The question of the causes or justifications of my moral beliefs is not directly related. Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 09:32, 23 August 2012 (UTC)
No no, I think Bad Faith has it right. If you define something as "objective if it is capable of being true or false independently of whether people believe it to be true or false", and it's not discoverable aka falsifiable, then I'll call it philosophical masturbation. It's entirely orthogonal to reality and practicable policy if it's not discoverable and falsifiable. If it's not discoverable, then it is a naked fiat claim (Hume's Is-Ought distinction and all). It's no better than Kalam's Cosmological Argument. Now, it annoys the crap out of me because of the association I have with certain kinds of people who wrongly claim moral superiority by trying to claim their morality is categorically different - even though it's not. It also annoys me because of the sheer bad logic of it all. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 19:34, 23 August 2012 (UTC)
"Belief in objective morality isn't inherently religious." Mara has a point here. (Hell freezes over!) Philosophically naive atheists often fall into the trap of arguing against philosophical positions just because many religious people endorse them. See, e.g., the recent Sam Harris/Jerry Coyne anti-free will/pro-naive determinism campaign for a really egregious example of this. But AFAIC, I haven't seen any convincing counter-arguments to anti-realist work like Mackie's Ethics, so it's moral skepticism for me! Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 20:15, 23 August 2012 (UTC)
@LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant: I did indeed say "objective if it is capable of being true or false independently of whether people believe it to be true or false". But the "and it's not discoverable aka falsifiable" part was added by you. I didn't make any comment on the topics of "discoverability" or falsifiability. To me, that is a separate and subsequent issue from objectivity/subjectivity. Surely there are many types of statements which you agree are objective - statements about science (Gravity exists whether we believe in it or not), statements about mathematics (1+1=2 whether we believe in it or not), statements about history (the World War II happened whether we believe in it or not). The question is just whether ethical statements should be added to that list of objective types of statements or not. Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 22:23, 23 August 2012 (UTC)
I don't see the value in asking that question. Gravity exists whether you believe in it or not - I have the evidence. -- 1 + 1 = 2 is not "objective" in the same sense. It's pure logic, definition, and notation. It's true by convention. Now, the idea that 1 + 1 = 2 is an accurate model of the physical world is supported by evidence, and I'll grant the description "objective" to that. You see - math is not "objective" in the way you want it to be. We can invent whole fields of math that are just as "true", but not applicable to the real world. I remember back in high school when my pre-calc teacher showed me a geometry he invented - perfectly consistent, perfectly logical, but entirely divorced from the real world. -- The existence of WW2 in history, you try to partition it away from science. I believe this is wholly wrong. You are trying to make a distinction between "operative" and "historical" sciences, just like a young earth creationist. And you're not wrong because young earth creationists say it - you're wrong because the idea is wrong, and the young earth creationists coincidentally happen to be wrong on the same point. -- Is morality objective? What does it matter? How would the world be different if it were true or false? How could you tell? If you can't distinguish between the truth and falseness of a (objective) claim, then you don't have a claim. You may have a pseudo-coherent string of English words in a grammatically well-formed sentence, but you don't have a claim. See: Not Even Wrong. I have a little rant on my User page of exactly this under "only science works". LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 22:37, 23 August 2012 (UTC)
You seem to be using a different definition of "objective" from me, as "an accurate model of the physical world... supported by evidence". To me, that is an overly narrow definition of "objective", and I think most adherents of objective morality would agree with me on that.
You seem to adopt what might be called a formalist or conventionalist philosophy of mathematics — mathematical statements are purely conventional, and contain no deeper truth. There are alternative viewpoints — one is mathematical platonism (see IEP and SEP), the claim that mathematical objects have a real existence independent of the physical world. Such a viewpoint is not incompatible with science — quite a number of mathematicians and theoretical physicists adhere to it (Max Tegmark is the most radical example among physicists; Kurt Gödel made outstanding contributions to mathematics with a strong Platonist viewpoint, but he contributed to theoretical physics as well, e.g. the Gödel metric in general relativity).
Regarding your example "I remember back in high school when my pre-calc teacher showed me a geometry he invented - perfectly consistent, perfectly logical, but entirely divorced from the real world" - you can never say any mathematics is "entirely divorced from the real world" - all you can say is that practical applications have not yet been discovered. Riemann developed his geometry in the 1850s, and at the time it was lacking obvious practical use — it was a piece of pure mathematics, motivated by axiomatic concerns about whether Euclid's fifth postulate was truly necessary. Yet, over 50 years later, Einstein used it to great success in formulating the theory of general relativity. So whatever your pre-calc teacher invented, we cannot say that it is "entirely divorced from the real world", just that he was not personally aware of any real world applications, or maybe no one yet is, but it is entirely possible that decades or centuries hence, a real world application will be discovered.
As to the distinction between history and science — I don't see it as trying to drive a wedge between "operational" and "historical" sciences, or as having any particular relationship to the creationism issue. It's about acknowledging that the natural sciences and human history are different disciplines, practised by different practitioners, with very different methods. It is based on opposition to the kind of methodological monism that wants to pretend there is a single "scientific method" which is the same across all disciplines, as opposed to a methodological pluralism which acknowledges that different disciplines (both among the natural sciences, and apart from them) each have their own distinctive methodology. Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 23:12, 23 August 2012 (UTC)
Interesting points, some I agree with, some I don't, but no where in there did you address the central problem that "objective morality" is either 1- meaningless, or 2- useless, undiscoverable, and untestable. Are you trying to argue in favor of objective morality? Ok - for the purposes of future discussion, I grant you that claim, that there are moral truths which are true independent of whether people believe it or not. Now what? How do we discover them? Why does it matter? How is this fundamentally different than proposing the existence of garage dragons? LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 23:19, 23 August 2012 (UTC)
Maybe I should start by addressing the question of "Why does it matter if morality is objective?" And then we can address the "How can we know what it is?" question a bit later. As to the first question, consider a group like the Taliban who believe in executing adulterers. Now, this is bad enough as it is, and then gets only worse when they consider adulterers to include 14 year old rape victims. Now, there is a moral disagreement here. The Taliban say that executing 14 year old rape victims for "adultery" is undoubtedly morally very good. Myself by contrast (and I assume you will agree with me) say that doing so is morally very evil. Where does objective morality become relevant? Well, they can say that their moral judgement is objective, and I can say the same with respect to mine. But if you deny that your moral judgement is objective, and say it is purely subjective — why then should anyone else care what your moral judgement is? If morality is subjective, then morality is nothing more than our own private opinions and fancies, so why should anyone care what our moral beliefs are? If morality is subjective, no one could possibly be wrong, unless we redefine "wrong" to mean "disagreeing with me" (or with the mainstream of my society, or whatnot). If we are serious and consistent about it, subjective morality must seriously neuter our powers of moral persuasion. If morality is objective, then it is possible for someone's moral views to be wrong. When a moral subjectivist says that the Taliban has the wrong moral view, all they are really saying is "My moral view is different". When a moral objectivist says that the Taliban has the wrong moral view, they are claiming that there exists an objective standard of morality, and the Taliban are gravely mistaken in their understanding of it. So as an idea, objective morality has definite pragmatic and rhetorical advantages. And if you really believe that X is immoral (e.g. X=executing 14 year old rape victims), then you morally ought to do all you can to discourage X, thus you morally ought to adopt any belief system which gives you a pragmatic and/or rhetorical advantage in opposing X (insofar as rationality permits). So belief in objective morality is morally advantageous. Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 06:09, 24 August 2012 (UTC)

(Continued here:) Zack, to be explicitly clear, repeat after me: The desirability of a claim has nothing to do with the truth of that claim. To do otherwise is to have belief in belief. Now, I recognize that's not exactly what you said, but I fear that this is a large part of your justification, and thus I fear that your reasoning process is horribly atrociously flawed. I'm sorry for asking the question "why would it matter if morality is objective?". The heart of my complaint is that morality, even if it were "objective" (whatever that means), it remains entirely unclear as to whether it's knowable or discoverable. No - that's not right. I do not recognize what it could mean for "objective" morality to be knowable or discoverable. To repeat an earlier point, I take Hume's Is-Ought distinction near axiomatically: you cannot show me physical evidence to demonstrate an objective moral "fact", or a moral "fact" or any kind. And if you can't discover it through science (on sensory experience), then I am unable to distinguish a claim of "objective" fact from something you just pulled out of your ass. Again, see not even wrong: "Not even wrong (or the full version "That's not right - that's not even wrong") refers to any statement, argument or explanation that can be neither correct nor incorrect, because it fails to meet the criteria by which correctness and incorrectness are determined. \ The phrase implies that not only is someone not making a valid point in a discussion, but they don't even seem to understand the nature of the discussion itself, or the things that need to be understood in order to participate." Your claim is not only not right - it is not even wrong. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 06:30, 24 August 2012 (UTC)

Well, let me put it this way - why not consider pragmatic concerns, ethical concerns, etc., in forming our beliefs? What is a belief anyway? As I see it, a belief is a habitual disposition to assert the truth of some proposition in our private thoughts and in our external communication to others, and otherwise to act as if the proposition were true. So, as I see it, belief is fundamentally about a disposition to act (understanding "act" broadly to include speech and also private thoughts). So why shouldn't belief be subject to pragmatic and ethical concerns, just as any other action (or disposition to act) is? Of course, our beliefs should be subject to rationality — if clear evidence from sense-experience, or a valid mathematical or logical proof, demonstrates that an idea is false, then no amount of ethical or pragmatic considerations should bring us to believe it. But where sense-experience and logical argumentation leave our options open, then I think it is entirely proper to turn to pragmatic and/or ethical considerations. Another relevant consideration is whether the insufficiency of sense-experience or logical argumentation to decide the issue is likely to be merely temporary or nearer to permanent; I would suggest considering pragmatic or ethical concerns is more sensible in the later cases than in the former.
"Well, let me put it this way - why not consider pragmatic concerns, ethical concerns, etc., in forming our beliefs? " Really? Because I actually care about what is true. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 10:03, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
So do I. So what? While giving unlimited sway to pragmatic or ethical concerns in our belief formation will surely take us away from the truth, there is no evidence that being more moderate in so doing will. Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 10:17, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
I don't think the form of reasoning "X ought to be true therefore X is true" is universally invalid. Of course, you can cite many examples of specific cases where it is undoubtedly invalid, but a bunch of specific cases being invalid doesn't by itself establish a general rule that every possible case must be invalid. I think establishing objective morality might be a case where such reasoning is acceptable.
This is definitionally wishful thinking. I can't believe you're saying such things. I have no useful reply. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 10:03, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
So, you choose to define something as "wishful thinking" - so what? Maybe wishful thinking isn't always wrong? Maybe wishful thinking is a good thing in moderation? Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 10:19, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
I am not having this conversation. I am going to have a conversation about what is true, not about whether wishful thinking is sometimes "good" in this undefined and ambiguous sense - that, or I am not going to have a conversation at all. Do you have reasons beyond "it would be useful / good if it were true" for believing in objective morality, what are those reasons, and what methods do you have for ascertaining what is true of objective morality and what is false? If you do not have that, then I am not interested. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 10:23, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
Didn't you start out by implying or assuming that "wishful thinking" is "bad" (in some undefined and ambiguous sense)? The way you use the word, you use it as a snarl word. But I guess you are so fixed in your views on the issue, and so certain that you are right and that everyone who sees things differently is wrong, that you are unwilling to discuss that issue further? Fair enough then. Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 10:28, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
If you do not have a method or process to reliably distinguish between objective moral truths and objective moral falsehoods, then begone from my talk page troll. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 10:31, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
You want to emphasise "knowability" and "discoverability", but you already have a certain idea in your mind about what knowability and discoverability are — sense-experience, which you identify with science. I don't deny those are knowledge, but there may be other forms of knowledge beyond those. Myself, I see knowledge as being justified true belief (plus whatever extra is needed to handle the Gettier cases). In order to justifiably believe that I know something, I need to believe I believe it, to believe it is true, to believe I am justified in believing in it, and to be justified in the three preceding beliefs. If moral reasons can count as epistemic justification, then I can justifiably believe that I know objective moral truth. Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 08:39, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
If you can show me a way to learn "objective" morality, then I might give you the slightest shred of respect and interest. As is, you have done nothing to advance practicable ideas of how to form personal and public policy. -- "but there may be other forms of knowledge beyond those." Again, listen to yourself. You're sounding exactly like a religious idiot. Same argument. It's just as bogus now as it is when they use it. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 10:03, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
If you are looking for "practicable ideas of how to form personal and public policy", then if my acceptance of objective morality is useless, then your rejection of it must be equally useless. And if I am right that belief in objective morality has pragmatic and rhetorical benefits — surely those benefits are relevant to personal and public policy? And I don't see what is so wrong with the idea that there may be other ways of knowing than sense experience and rational argument. It sounds like you think you have epistemology 100% worked out; even if we think we've identified all the valid sources of knowledge, unless we feel justified in claiming epistemological infallibility, we should always remain open to the possibility there are other ways we have not yet considered. One might call it philosophical humility. Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 10:23, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
(In the interests of fairness, I will attempt to answer your specific questions directed at me.) "And if I am right that belief in objective morality has pragmatic and rhetorical benefits — surely those benefits are relevant to personal and public policy?" I believe that claiming to know something when I lack good reason is willful dishonesty. I believe that being willfully dishonest to people is a moral harm. I try not to lie. I value the truth for the truth itself. I grant the plausibility that lying can have positive practical benefits (probably short term only). It is still lying. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 19:51, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
Lying is stating something as true when I know it to be false (or have good reason to believe it is false, or am reckless or negligent as to its truth, etc). If I believe something to be true, on the basis of moral and/or pragmatic reasons for doing so, and neither sense experience nor logic indicate it is likely to be false, how am I lying? I'm stating something I believe to be true; which I don't know to be false; which I don't have a good reason to believe to be false; I'm not reckless or negligent as to its truth; how am I lying? Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 22:11, 24 August 2012 (UTC)

Mara's Taliban Example[edit]

This, to my mind, spotlights the fundamental problem with a belief in objective morality. There is an underlying assumption that the Taliban are wrong and Mara, or to be slightly more fair, the rest of the world, are right. Now there are plenty of arguments about fairness, plenty of arguments about equal treatment, but they all rest on the values of the society we are brought up in. Our western values are not right in some sort of god given hewn in tablets of stone way, they're just what we believe at the moment. Just as we are appalled at the way that, quite recently, slavery was morally allowable, it is quite possible that the moral certainties that we live by may be overturned in the future.

But, more importantly, if you oppose the Taliban under the banner of "we are right and you are wrong" then they fight back under exactly the same banner. As far as they are concerned we are the moral reprobates because they are just as certain that they know the moral absolutes. As such the gulf is unbridgeable and the conflict never ending. Once you appreciate that morals are relativistic then you can discuss the underlying principles and whether they are the way you want to live your life.

Too many people have lost their lives under "right on their side" when, at the end of the day, "right" has been shown to be inconstant. I don't know about LOAUV but that's why I have serious problems with those who believe in moral absolutes. Bad Faith (talk) 08:54, 24 August 2012 (UTC)

If morality is objective, then there is an objective moral reality, which my moral beliefs may or may not be in conformance with. So it is perfectly possible for me to be wrong on ethical issues. But, if morality is subjective, then how could anyone ever be wrong in their moral views? All we can say is, their moral views are different from our own; but if there is no objective right and wrong, then it is impossible for ourselves or anyone else (in the past or present or future) to be more or less right than anyone else. It is possible for individuals and society to morally progress over time (if their moral views become more accurate); if morality is subjective, then moral progress is a meaningless concept.
You are right that saying "we are right and you are wrong" is no way to win in practice against the die-hard Taliban; but in practice "morality is relative" isn't going to convince them either. But for someone who is inclining in the Taliban direction, but still capable of redemption (consider the disaffected young Muslim toying with the Taliban philosophy, but not having yet closed the options to a more moderate form of Islam), what viewpoint is more likely to turn them away from that path: (1) morality is subjective and relative (in which case, how does it matter what I do? and why not join the Taliban anyway?) or (2) morality is objective and absolute, but the Taliban have a mistaken idea of it. I think in practice (2) is more likely to work than (1). Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 09:12, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
Moral progress? Morality evolves but I'm not necessarily convinced it progresses any more than we are 'better' than Neanderthals. We may be more 'evolved' but better? And how do you know that the Taliban aren't right? What arrogance to think that you've got it right and they've got it wrong! If you believe in objective morality then, maybe, stoning fourteen year old rape victims is "right". Why do you presume your morality is so superior to theirs? I'll tell you why, it's because (a) it's the morality you were brought up in and (b) it's the morality you're surrounded by. In short, your thoughts on objective morality are entirely relativistic. Bad Faith (talk) 09:32, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
Considering the issue of "is it ethical to execute 14 year old rape victims for adultery?", I think anyone who answers "No" is clearly better than anyone who answers "Yes". I know that "Yes" is a better answer than "No". I know this even if I might struggle to explain how exactly I know this; many people know that 1+1=2, yet would struggle to explain how they know that, or to prove wrong someone who disagreed with them. I don't claim my moral views are 100% right — I'm sure I have got some things wrong — but if saying "No" is better than "Yes" to this question is a form of arrogance, then I am proud to be arrogant on that, and sincerely hope as many people as possible would join me in my arrogance. You can say that my beliefs on morals are determined by my upbringing and my environment; no doubt that is true, but it is true for many non-moral beliefs also, and ultimately is a form of the genetic fallacy. The reason I believe in (e.g.) the theory of relativity, is because (a) it's a belief I was brought up in, and (b) it's a belief I am surrounded by. Like the vast majority of people, I have no practical way of independently determining the truth of the theory of relativity myself; I simply believe it because that's what I grew up believing. If your argument makes my morality relativistic, it makes very many other beliefs of mine just as relativistic too; maybe even belief in relativism itself is relativistic? (Just so there is no confusion, obviously ethical or factual relativism is unrelated to the theory of relativity, despite both having "relative" in their names.) Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 10:32, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
And therein lies the root of the problem. You just "know" you're right. Oh, my golly gosh, don't you just know you're right and heaven help anyone who disagrees with you. Look how heated you just got. Now, translate that to, lets say, the abortion debate where the issues are a little less clear cut. There are a great many who "just know" that abortionists are baby killers. No relativism for them, no sir! And, if the baby killers won't listen to reasoned argument then, well, it's fire-bomb time because, well, they just know they're right.
Morality is not like relativity nor 1+1=2. I know you don't like scientism but both relativity and 1+1=2 can be subjected to testing and proving, morality can't. Morality is about what you believe to be right and different people have different beliefs. Bad Faith (talk) 11:18, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
Incidentally, the nearest I've come to a moral absolute is that the best policy for the iterated prisoners dilemma is a slightly forgiving tit-for-tat. From that "do unto others as they do unto you but allow for the occasional mistake". Doesn't fit very well on the banner but it's good enough for me. Bad Faith (talk) 11:27, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
@BadFaith, when did I propose to fire bomb anybody? Never once have I called for firebombing anybody at all, not even the Taliban. (While the Taliban are a morally reprehensible bunch, I think that Western military forces should have left Afghanistan years ago.) You seem to be trying to tar me with some association with anti-choice extremists. They and I do share a belief in objective morality, but belief in objective morality by no means necessarily leads to violence (moral objectivism and total pacifism are completely compatible.) How exactly do you test whether 1+1=2? And the theory of relativity can't be tested by me; the vast majority of people who believe in it have no ability to test or prove it, and likely never will either. Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 12:02, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
I'll have to add this to my main page, considering I see it enough, and I never see it well described. Psychology is a science. The art and practice of using past observation of human behavior to predict future human behavior is a science. It's like asking "How do you know Australia really exists?" (or insert some large country where you've never been). The answer is trust. Not faith, trust. Trust is evidence based, aka psychology. You know that people tend to not lie under certain conditions. For Australia to not exist, significant numbers of all of the humans you know must be willfully lying, part of a massive conspiracy. You might as well be in The Truman Show. Thus, while you have not personally confirmed relativity, you do have sufficient evidence to deem it probably correct. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 19:46, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
While you don't like it, I think mathematic Platonists are silly in the exact same way I think you are silly for believing in objective morality. Both of you claim the existence of some things, but you never give any method or procedure for distinguishing between things in that class which do exist / which are true, and those which are not. You can't distinguish between which maths are applicable to the real world, and which are not. (And don't even try to claim that all geometries are applicable to the real world. As long as logic holds, that is impossible. There are an infinite number of consistent geometries, and the majority of pairs of possible geometries are wholly inconsistent with each other.) This is what I'm hearing from you: "Yes, I am objectively right. How would you be able to judge that I'm objectively right vs pulling shit out of my ass? Dunno." Prove me wrong. Show me the method or procedure you use to distinguish between the two. Otherwise I cannot distinguish between your specific claims of specific objective moral facts, and someone just claiming their preferences. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 19:46, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
Mathematical platonists will say "All consistent mathematical objects exist", completely independent of real world application. If one wants a procedure to distinguish between existent and non-existent mathematical objects, then a procedure is to attempt to prove consistency or inconsistency. (An attempt which will not always succeed, but existence checking procedures for physical objects don't always succeed either.) A few might even drop the criteria of consistency, and state that all mathematical objects exist, even inconsistent ones, in which case the existence checking procedure is essentially null.
You do know about Goedel's Incomplete Theorems, right? You cannot prove the consistency of most interesting mathematics using the system itself, and if you do then you've proved its own inconsistency. The test is unimplementable. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 23:01, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
Gödel's second incompleteness theorem says you can't prove consistency using the system itself; it doesn't say you can't prove inconsistency. If we look at it in terms of the verifiability vs. falsifiability dichotomy, Gödel's theorem prohibits verifiability but not falsifiability. Which is fair enough, since the same is true for many physical questions. Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 23:19, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
So, which are you advocating? Circular reasoning, or a non-terminating regress of reasons? I believe both are obviously stupid. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 23:24, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
No, I'm saying that although we can't prove that a putative mathematical objects exists (verifiability), we can prove that a putative mathematical object doesn't exist (falsifiability). If I construct a formal system, I can't prove it consistent. But if I can discover a proof of a contradiction using it, I can prove it inconsistent. For any natural number n, I can prove that there is no valid inconsistency proof of length less than n (just generate all possible proofs under that length, throw out the ones which don't end in a contradiction, run the rest through a proof checker, keep the valid ones). However, absent an infinite amount of time, I can't do that for all n. This is like trying to prove "There are no unicorns anywhere in the universe"; I can search arbitrarily large subsections of the universe, but I can't search all of it. Gödel's theorem basically says there is no shortcut; well, supertasks would constitute a shortcut if physically realisable (they probably aren't, but there is no conclusive proof of that). Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 23:39, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
Ugg - whatever. We've wandered so far that I don't even care about this asinine fork anymore. It's almost unrecognizable even what we're arguing about. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 23:43, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
If you want to judge whether my moral claims are objectively right, start by consulting your own conscience. If your own conscience agrees with mine, that is suggestive (but not conclusive) evidence that my moral claims are objectively right. If very many other people accept them, that is again evidence but not conclusive evidence of their correctness. Another item of evidence is whether they are a product of extensive deliberation and reflection (both rational and emotional) or if they are pre-reflective; whether myself or yourself or others who hold this view have given the opposing side a fair hearing or not, etc. None of this conclusively proves the objective correctness of any moral view, but these are items of suggestive evidence. Yet I don't think the inability to conclusively prove or disprove matters is a fatal flaw - there are many questions about the physical world which we cannot conclusively answer, and may not ever be able to either. Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 22:30, 24 August 2012 (UTC)

Two points. First, as a simple factual manner, most humans do share some innate moral "desires" or "claims" or "behaviors". Google the trolley problem. Second, I have yet to meet a person who thinks how we should behave is somehow independent of human well-being. I take Sam Harris's position (sort of) on this point - again as a matter of facts we can all basically agree that we ought to act to make ourselves happy, content, sufficiently materially wealth off, and so on for other aspects of well being. (Some people disagree as to the facts, such as what behaviors will get what results, ex: the existence of heaven and hell is a relevant factual dispute.) This isn't a claim. It's an observation. We're arguing about something which no one really disagrees about. It's useless. It's worse than useless. It's inane drivel that distracts us from the actual important questions. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 10:07, 24 August 2012 (UTC)

OK, sure arguing about whether objective morality exists or not is insane drivel. So your rejection of the concept must be just as much insane drivel as my endorsement of it? Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 10:24, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
Inane*. It's a different word. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 19:38, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
(In the interests of fairness, I will attempt to answer your specific questions directed at me.) I am not rejecting the concept. I am claiming the concept is ill-defined. There is a difference between "X is factually true", "X is factually false", and "Your claim of X is not even wrong". You will remain not even wrong at least until you give a method or procedure for distinguishing between true and false objective moral claims which I may employ to see if you are making true objective moral claims or whether you are merely pulling shit out of your ass. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 19:55, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
To continue and clarify, you have not yet described how "it" might be appreciably different if there were objective morality and if there were not. You have clarified how we might use the claim as rhetoric, but we can do that whether or not the claim is true, or even whether or not the claim is well defined and meaningful. To honestly make a claim, you must be able to describe what it entails, and equivalently what it denies. Thus far, it's been tautological and empty. You have to describe to me what might be different - about the world, anything - what might be discoverably different, different in any reliably knowable way, anything. Give me anything by which to judge whether your ideas are right or wrong (see: not even wrong). Thus far, (in a certain sense), your claim of objective morality has no meaning. Your claim has no more meaning than the claim "the square root of a pork chop is jealousy". I have no standard, no method, no way, to determine whether it's true or false, precisely because it entails nothing. It is vacuous. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 20:51, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
Precisely because of that argument, I believe the predicate "exists" simply does not apply to morality and "ought" claims, and in a certain strict sense neither "true" and "false". True and false imply a standard by which we might determine whether it's true or false, and as I adopt Hume's Is-Ought distinction, it's almost axiomatic that there can be no such standard except an a priori moral claim. -- Now, the idea of "objective morality" is trying to go a step further. It's a claim of platonic ideals, except claims of platonic ideals are retarded. They're not even wrong for precisely the reasons laid out in my above "post". In trying to make a claim of the existence and truth of objective morality, one is doing more than simply saying "we ought to do something". They're trying to make a claim that there is something more, a standard, a universal measure. However, any cursory probing on the issue shows that it's mere rhetoric. They have no such explainable, demonstrable, "objective" standard. They just wish they did, and worse, if Zack is any indicative example, they are willing to go to great lengths to lie and knowingly falsely claim that they do. It is belief in belief. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 21:04, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
There are many claims that could be made about the physical world which could never be answered. For example, what was the precise population of homo sapiens on this planet at midnight UTC today. No one can answer that question — sure, we can estimate, but I asked for the precise population. Many developing countries don't regularly practice birth registration; maybe one day in the future, birth registration will be universal, and the incidence of unregistered births will become so rare, that we could actually answer this question. My question has some ambiguities — what about those who are in utero? (Let's say leave them out.) How to define death exactly? However, even if we could give precise standards to resolve these ambiguities, we still couldn't answer that question, and it is likely we never ever will be able to. If we installed a tracking chip in every human on earth, to inform a central computer of their current life status (where are they? are they alive or dead? are they pregnant? are they giving birth?), we might be able to answer this question; but that won't help us answer it for times (such as today) prior to the universal installation of such chips. If no one can answer the question, does it follow that the question is meaningless? Not even wrong? We assume that any point in time the earth has a precise human population, even if we can never know what it is; but if we can't ever know what it is, it is no better than Platonic idealism or objective morality. If we take seriously your positivist approach of demanding a standard for truth and falsehood, we end up with a kind of idealist position in which truth is limited to whatever humans can know, and what is forever beyond human knowledge (including an endless number of questions about the physical universe) is forever beyond truth and falsehood.
Another one of my favourite examples... is in some distant galaxy, which we will likely never visit, which is so distant we struggle to make out individual stars, we certainly couldn't see in any detail individual planets... but surely these planets exist.... what is there geography? Do they have a geography? Based on our knowledge of physics, one would say they do. But we could never possibly know any detail about their geography at all. Does it follow then that their geography, almost certainly unknowable to us forever, is non-existent, beyond truth and falsehood, not even wrong?
Missing the forest for the trees. There are objective standards to answer those questions, both in practice and in principle - depending. Sure, we can't agree that there is a practical way to count the grains of sand on a beach, but we have good reasons to believe there are in fact a specific finite number of grains of sand on a beach. You have not demonstrated anything even remotely similar for objective morality. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 23:03, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
Why do we have a good reason to believe there are in fact a specific finite number of grains of sand on a beach? What evidence do we have to support that assertion? For how many beaches has this assertion been tested? I think the answer is zero. Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 23:21, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
Every time we have ever looked at sand, we have seen that it is made up of small finite number of particles. This experiments have been done with relatively small amounts of sand. However, every time we pick up a small amount of sand, and look at it, we do indeed see there is a particular finite number. The induction and extrapolation is quite straightforward, and I claim that you would have to be perverse to deny the obviousness of the extrapolation and induction. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 23:26, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
What evidence do we have that such an extrapolation and induction is correct, especially when dealing with such large numbers? Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 23:30, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
As what with happened in the discussion between Nebuchadnezzar and myself elsewhere on the talk page, I refuse to take seriously the proposition that induction does not work. I call you perverse in your denial of obvious scientific facts, and I will have nothing more to do with this particular line of argument. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 23:35, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
You aren't willing to question induction? I don't deny it often works, I just question whether it works in every case in which you do. Is it an unshakeable article of faith for you? Like the biblical literalist who refuses to take seriously the proposition that the bible contains errors: "I call you perverse in your denial of obvious scriptural facts, and I will have nothing more to do with this particular line of argument." Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 23:42, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
Yea, that sounds about right. Inbefore "that makes you better than religious people!". Everyone has an axiomatic belief system (or stupider options like abandoning logic, having non-terminating infinite regresses, circular reasoning, and so on). There is no way to logically argue about axioms. You're welcome to try some emotional persuasion, ridicule (polite or not), etc., but the sheer intuitive absurdity of science not working makes your task quite difficult. You want me to abandon using evidence-based reasoning? Good luck. You'll need it. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 23:50, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
Here's an argument for you: let's treat the specific number of sand particles on the beach as a quantum state. |n> represents the beach containing n sand particles. By claiming that it has a specific finite number N of sand particles, you are essentially asserting that the amplitude of |N> is a lot higher than all other n ≠ N. Whereas, by denying that it contains a specific number of sand particles, I am saying that there are at least two M, N such that amplitude of |M> ≈ amplitude of |N>, and there is no O whose amplitude is much greater than that of M,N. Whereas, when we look at a small subset of beach sand, we might say it collapses the quantum superposition, so the amplitudes are rather different. Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 00:01, 25 August 2012 (UTC)
Quantum effects are negligible for real sand particles on a beach. The probably of any sand particle "disappearing" or "merging" is so low that we'll never ever see it, for some stupidly high probability. We both know this. Thus, this is an asinine pedantic point at best. -- Worse, we both know that for purposes of conversational ease, certain conventions are adopted, such as speaking with classical physics terms when classical physics approximates the quantum mechanics to a very high probability. You broke this convention to win a completely minor asinine point. -- EVEN WORSE, you just did a bait and switch. You realize this right? When you realized that the problem of induction argument wouldn't hold water, you decided instead to switch to some completely asinine pedantic point involving quantum mechanics? It'd be nice if you could admit where you were wrong before moving on to a new argument. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 00:15, 25 August 2012 (UTC)
Actually, my use of quantum theory is basically to introduce another idea, which is similar but not the same - idealist superposition theory. As an idealist, I believe that physical objects are merely patterns in the experiences of minds. As such, if we have X possible configurations of matter, all of which induce identical experiences in minds, we cannot say that any of those X are actual more than any of the others. In effect, reality exists in a superposition of all possible states compatible with the experiences of minds. There are a large number of finite specific values of beach sand particle count equally compatible with whatever observations we make, so the beach exists in a superposition of all of those - until some further observation collapses it into a smaller superposition. As you can see, this idea is inspired by quantum theory, but isn't the same as it or dependent upon it (idealist superpositions and quantum superpositions aren't necessarily coincident). My point against induction, is that your attempted use of induction must assume that a theory like the one I espouse is false, but we have no evidence that is the case. Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 01:04, 25 August 2012 (UTC)
And I'm not lying, and I'm not knowingly falsely claiming anything. To lie, I have to state something which I know to be false. What do I know to be false that I am stating? You say my belief in objective morality is unjustified, meaningless, not even wrong, etc; I don't agree with you on that, but even if you are right, that doesn't make my statements knowingly false (i.e. lying), just honestly mistaken; because I honestly believe what I say. Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 22:47, 24 August 2012 (UTC)

Zack's objective morality[edit]

Ok, finally. We're getting somewhere. Zack claims that we can discover objective morality by consulting our conscience and then applying the rule of popularity. I'll make this reply short, because of the obvious conclusion of stupidity by a mere passing glance. Again, the problem is that we're disagreeing over axioms, and I have no resort but ridicule (polite or impolite). LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 23:18, 24 August 2012 (UTC)

1: Zack, you claim that the truth is somehow democratic, that widely held personal moral convictions are somehow representative of greater moral truths. First, the truth is not democratic. Then, consider every historical and present day regime where masses of people believe wildly evil things. Take Godwin's Law Nazis, Mao's regime, and whatever other group you don't like. Your rule produces inconsistent results - at least the results of your rule are dependent on the culture, the species, and thereby on accidents of history of evolution by natural selection. That does not sound objective to me.

2: Zack, you claim that our conscience is somehow special or magic, and has magic access to the platonic ideal of objective morality. Reality check: our conscience, like the rest of our mind, is merely the result of physical processes in the brain. There is no soul. Dualism is dead. Your mind is the result of evolution by natural selection and by the particular environment in which you were raised. Both your genetics and upbringing created your conscience to which you appeal. I can show you other animal species which don't have our morality. Reciprocal altruism is not universally present in animal species. It's a particular solution to the game theory problem for which there are other solutions in the real world. It is an accident of history. Moreover, I can change your conscience by changing the neural, biochemical, etc., properties of your brain. I see absolutely no given reason in this discourse why your conscience can reveal "objective morality" but that of a "amoral" species, or a human sociopath, cannot. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 23:18, 24 August 2012 (UTC)

I never said that the fact that a view is endorsed by the majority means it is right. I said that endorsement by large numbers of people is one piece of evidence, but merely a suggestive not a conclusive piece of evidence. We might say, the percentage of human beings which believe X is one contributor to the probability of X being true. And surely that's correct - if you know nothing about a proposition except how widely it is believed, clearly the more widely believed proposition is more likely to be true than the less widely believed one. That doesn't mean it is true; simply it is more likely to be. And, rather than focusing on culture-bound beliefs (such as the moral beliefs of the Nazis or Maoists), I'd rather focus on the much more universal beliefs. Take the following claim: "It is wrong to kill people if your sole reason for doing so is sheer pleasure in killing". Who disagrees with that? Even the guards at Auschwitz would have surely agreed with that. They were involved in the murder of countless innocents, but their murders weren't caught by that prohibition, since they had reasons (however stupid or immoral) beyond sheer pleasure in killing as a sole reason. I think, the only people who would disagree with such a moral claim, are likely to be serial killers, mass murderers, etc; and even many of those will admit that what they do is wrong.
I almost refuse to believe that anyone can be this stupid. Are you trolling me? Are you serious that "I said that endorsement by large numbers of people is one piece of evidence, but merely a suggestive not a conclusive piece of evidence. We might say, the percentage of human beings which believe X is one contributor to the probability of X being true."? To quote every popular rationalist thinker ever: We - the rationalists - do not respect beliefs. We respect reasons. We do not respect a person's beliefs. We evaluate their reasons for belief. That a large portion of the population believes something is entirely meaningless for whether it is true. You need to evaluate their reasons (or lack thereof in your case) for belief. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 23:39, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
Think about it in terms of probability theory. P(everyone believes X|X is true), P(X is true|everyone believes X). When we average over all possible Xs, both these conditional probabilities must be greater than 0.5 but less than 1, surely? What do you estimate them to be? Widespread beliefs are more likely to be true than rare ones; universal beliefs are even more likely to be true. If we assume the average human is a rational agent, albeit an imperfectly rational one, if a large number of rational agents all reach the same conclusion, that is evidence for the truth of that conclusion — and the larger the number (both absolutely and proportionally), the better the evidence — not certain proof by any means, but probabilistic one. We have to acknowledge that humans are imperfectly rational, so that acknowledgement will cause us to reduce the weighting of that evidence — but it isn't rational to reduce that weighting to zero. Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 23:47, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
You assume that humans are perfectly rational agents. You assume that access to information is "perfect". You would do well to read up on the meme theory of religion. That many people base their whole, entire life on a factual lie, on a demonstrable, factual, real falsehood, I think is plenty evidence against your naive premises. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 23:58, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
I never assumed that humans are perfectly rational agents. I said the complete opposite: If we assume the average human is a rational agent, albeit an imperfectly rational one; We have to acknowledge that humans are imperfectly rational. Of course humans are imperfectly rational and have imperfect access to information, and this will lead us to discount the conditional probability that P(X is true|everyone believes X) compared to a hypothetical world in which humans were perfectly rational and had perfect access to information. But it won't discount it all the way down to 0.5. Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 00:04, 25 August 2012 (UTC)
The brunt of your argument is one of the most asinine points I have ever heard. Admittingly, I don't know the best way to rebut it formally to your satisfaction (yet), but it is obvious that appeal to popularity is one of the worst ways imaginable to discover truth, barely better (or maybe even worse) than flipping a coin. Perhaps I should focus on developing the point that the probability of being right on non-trivial matters is close to 0.5, and thus ignorable. I think the problem rests in your completely naive and overly simplistic formulation that requires us to ignore complementary information and instead do this completely ignorant deduction alone. Was it Popper who said this: that you cannot falsify a scientific idea in isolation. There's too many definitions, assumptions / conclusions, etc., that make it so intertwined that you can never falsify something in isolation. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 00:23, 25 August 2012 (UTC)
"Appeal to popularity" is a way of discovering truth. It behaves better than flipping a coin. Think about it, if I took a list of random questions, and tried both coin flipping and an opinion poll, to determine their truth, the opinion poll will be more accurate. Consider questions like "Does fire cause burns?", "Does 1+1=2?", "Are dogs animals?" - the opinion poll will perform much better than the coin flip for these questions. For other questions, e.g. "Did Pharoah Necho I kill King Josiah of Israel in 609 BC?", the opinion poll won't work so well (the answer is No on two accounts - it was Necho II not Necho I, and Josiah was King of Judah not Israel). But still, it's hard to imagine it will go much worse than the coin flip on such questions. There is a small subset of questions (e.g. objects of popular misconceptions, conspiracy theories, or hatreds) where the opinion poll may well go worse than the coin flip, but those questions are the exception not the average case. I agree completely that there are much better ways than either coin flipping or opinion polling to determine truth, but if none of those other ways are available, opinion polling performs better than coin flipping (which essentially counts as nothing). Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 01:47, 25 August 2012 (UTC)
Secondly, I'm not a materialist, nor am I a dualist, I'm an idealist. I believe that all reality is fundamentally mental, and that the physical universe is just a pattern in minds. You like many seem to be trapped in the materialist-dualist dichotomy; idealism is neither. Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 23:29, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
I would also call that claim vacuous. It does not limit my sensory experience, nor other possible discoverable or knowable aspect of my life, and thus it both vacuous and philosophical masturbation. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 23:36, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
If my idealism is vacuous philosophical masturbation, your materialism must equally be so. Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 23:39, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
It is not. It has falsifiable predictions. See my user page on "physics reductionism". LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 23:44, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
Your "physics reductionism" has falsifiable predictions; materialism itself does not. Your "physics reductionism" is equally compatible with idealism, and thus does not demonstrate materialism over idealism. Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 23:50, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
I've given examples that if seen would show I am wrong. What are yours? LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 23:54, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
You've given examples that if seen would show that your physics reductionism is wrong. You haven't given any examples that if seen would show that your materialism is wrong; you acknowledge that materialism could be right even if your "physics reductionism" was disproven; and you haven't demonstrated that "physics reductionism" is incompatible with idealism either (I say it is not). I never disagreed with your "physics reductionism" (it might be right, it might be wrong, I don't know), just with your materialism. Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 00:07, 25 August 2012 (UTC)
You seem to have a hard time keeping up. Let me recap: I claimed your claim of idealism is vacuous - barring some .. thing .. that would demonstrate it to be wrong. You implicitly claimed I was being hypocritical because my belief in physics reductionism (you called it materialism, your mistake there) is also vacuous. I corrected you, and showed you how my claim is not vacuous. So, the onus is now on you to back up your implicit claim that I was being hypocritical, or to retract the claim and admit that my claim is not vacuous and your claim is vacuous, or to give a way which might show your idealism is wrong thus making it not vacuous. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 00:18, 25 August 2012 (UTC)
Right, so to clarify then you are not a materialist? You don't accept materialism? If you are not a materialist, then sorry for misinterpreting you as being one. Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 00:55, 25 August 2012 (UTC)
I don't know. I think we have differing ideas of materialism means. I deny common mind-body dualism, aka magic souls, as either wrong or vacuous (as explained on my user page under "physics reductionism"). I don't think we need to try to "define" materialism, as I think "physics reductionism" is a much better formulation of much of the desire and intent behind the use of the word "materialism". LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 01:00, 25 August 2012 (UTC)
Definitions I use: Materialism: matter alone has fundamental, independent and self-sustaining existence; the existence of mind is wholly dependent upon that of matter. Idealism: mind alone has fundamental, independent and self-sustaining existence; the existence of matter is wholly dependent upon that of mind. Dualism: mind and matter each have separate and independent existence; the existence of one does not depend on that of the other. Materialism can be transformed into idealism (and vice versa) by exchanging the roles of matter and mind; dualism is more of a hybrid between the two.
Two simple questions to decide which you are: (1) Would the physical universe exist continue to exist if there was a permanent cessation of existence of all minds to observe it? Materialists say "Yes, of course it would", idealists say "No, that's impossible", dualists would generally say "Yes, that's possible". (2) If the physical universe ceased to exist, could minds continue to exist without it? Materialists say "No, that's impossible"; idealists and dualists would generally answer "Yes they could". Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 01:09, 25 August 2012 (UTC)

Zack, The basic problem with your objective morality claims, is that there is no way to show you are wrong. If you cannot show that you are wrong, then the claim is definitionally vacuous. It lacks information content. If you cannot show that you are wrong, then you cannot be right. To be right implies that certain things are favored and certain things are denied. If you deny certain things, then there remains the coherent position that you are wrong. Thus far, you've committed the "equivocation of the word good" described on my user page. You have defined objective morality according to an arbitrary set of conditions, namely appeal to conscience and appeal to popularity. You have yet to demonstrate to me that I should behave according to this classification. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 23:55, 24 August 2012 (UTC)

Sorry for not posting for a while. Took a break, and the argument became less interesting. I think I've heard about all you have to say, and I am not impressed nor persuaded. Your argument from popular "conscience" is laughable for the reasons listed else-where. I think I am willing to acquiesce that popular opinion is more often right than wrong (provisionally - I'm not sure, but let's go for it for now). However, the problem remains that the claim is not well-defined. Specifically, it is vacuous. You can provide all of the "evidence" you want for an ill-defined claim, but that doesn't suddenly and magically make the claim well-defined. Until you can describe to me what might be different, observably different, visibly different - something - between a universe with objective morality and a universe without, then I say you are not even wrong. My basic objection has not changed. You have yet to define "objective morality" sufficiently rigorously to differentiate it from "the square root of a pork chop is jealously", and in light of that I can blithely ignore whatever "evidence" you have to bear. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 23:52, 27 August 2012 (UTC)
Surely you agree that there might be universes without objective morality, or at least it is coherent to speak of a hypothetical one. In that universe, one like you could invoke the rule of appeal to popularity and appeal to intuitive conscience. In fact, right now, I cannot tell whether I'm in universe A or universe B. Your argument works equally well in both. See what I'm getting at here? You haven't even yet sufficiently defined your claim so that it can be judged right or wrong. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 20:33, 28 August 2012 (UTC)
If you cannot differentiate between these two hypothetical universals, then you do not have a claim. Your pithy attempt invoking argumentum ad populum has no value as evidence unless you can give any sort of convincing argument why we might expect the populace to hold a different position in the (hypothetical) universe without objective morality. If you cannot, then I am forced to conclude for this and other reasons that the people's beliefs are wholly divorced from reality in this case, and thus conclude that your argument has zero merit. I am still waiting. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 23:31, 30 August 2012 (UTC)

Argumentum ad Hitlerum[edit]

So in this case it's the Taliban instead of Hitler, but the idea is the same. Playing the Nazi (or Nazi Substitute) card against anti-realist positions is just a really tired and cheap straw man. Anti-realism is much more sophisticated than "Yeah well, that's just like, your opinion, man." Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 01:59, 25 August 2012 (UTC)

I like how on one hand you can admit the coherent possibility that induction might not work, and that the probabilistic approach to scientific knowledge that I adopt can be wrong, the one which Popper showed was "wrong", and yet accept it as factually true for most intents and purposes. (See quote in the link: "The Moon is made of green cheese" and "the Sun is made of mostly hydrogen and helium" are both uncertainties, but they are not the same uncertainty.) No no, I'm not complaining, just smiling about it. I'm not even noting you're actually being inconsistent. I just found it funny, and it put a smile on my face. Oh philosophy. And thanks for the link. I like that name, "the fallacy of gray". LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 00:13, 28 August 2012 (UTC)
Is it bad that I immediately thought of the cult mechanicus from 40K when I read the following from the above link? It's a most peculiar psychology—this business of "Science is based on faith too, so there!" Typically this is said by people who claim that faith is a good thing. Then why do they say "Science is based on faith too!" in that angry-triumphal tone, rather than as a compliment? And a rather dangerous compliment to give, one would think, from their perspective. If science is based on 'faith', then science is of the same kind as religion—directly comparable. If science is a religion, it is the religion that heals the sick and reveals the secrets of the stars. It would make sense to say, "The priests of science can blatantly, publicly, verifiably walk on the Moon as a faith-based miracle, and your priests' faith can't do the same." Are you sure you wish to go there, oh faithist? Perhaps, on further reflection, you would prefer to retract this whole business of "Science is a religion too!" LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 00:19, 28 August 2012 (UTC)
"I like how on one hand you can admit the coherent possibility that induction might not work..." "Essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful." -George E.P. Box Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 00:26, 28 August 2012 (UTC)
I was unaware there was a distinction (between "useful" and "not wrong"). ~smile~ LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 01:39, 28 August 2012 (UTC)


In fact Zack, this might be one of the causes of our contention (materialism as you define it). As you define materialism, it is the claim that the "universe" would continue without minds to observe it. You believe this is wrong. This is interesting. I believe the evidence is abundantly clear that "rocks" became single celled creatures, which then evolved through evolution by natural selection to the present variety of life. Thus, I believe that life came from non-life, and things with minds came from things without minds. -- I can also attack this from another stand point. By taking out pieces of your brain, I can take out pieces of your mind. I can remove your ability to recognize faces, to do basic math, to understand spoken language (but funnily enough without taking away your ability to form grammatically correct spoken language), and so on. If I remove that one part, then you cannot recognize your grandmother's face, so I find the idea to be laughable that after you die, after all of the brain is gone, you will go to heaven and recognize dead grandma's face in heaven. (Thanks Sam Harris for this particular argument!) While this is not exactly your claim, I find it a sufficiently close approximation to apply. You believe that you can continue to have certain functioning parts of your mind that we can demonstrate will be gone if we remove certain parts of your brain. -- In light of all of this, how can you not be a materialist? LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 23:58, 27 August 2012 (UTC)

The usual work-around for this is what I like to call the "antenna theory" (drawing a blank on the actual name here), which goes something like: 1. Posit a non-material mind. 2. Posit that the brain acts as an "antenna" receiving "signals" from this mind. 3. Therefore, if part of the brain is damaged, the mind remains intact and only the material "antenna" is damaged. Of course, like most forms of dualism, this suffers from being massively in conflict with the laws of physics. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 00:36, 28 August 2012 (UTC)
But, that might make some sense if we're talking about sensory input or bodily control only. However, drugs can make you a compulsive gambler (sometimes), damage to the brain can remove your ability to do basic math, and so on. The metaphor is just entirely inapplicable to losing the ability to do basic math, parse and understand spoke language (not hear, but parse), and so on. The "antenna theory" does not apply. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 01:36, 28 August 2012 (UTC)
Arguing for materialism based on evolution/abiogensis/etc is circular. That position assumes non-idealism (either materialism or dualism) to begin with. I question whether evolution is literally true. I see it as potentially a useful myth — as such, my view is very different from that of the biblical creationist, which sees it as a pernicious myth rather than a useful one. Taking out pieces of the brain is no argument against idealism; the brain is simply a pattern in the experience of minds; the self or others losing certain cognitive capacities is a pattern in the experience of minds; the correlation between the two is itself a pattern in the experiences of minds; there is no need to posit any matter existing independently of mind to explain this. Dualism may conflict with the laws of physics, but idealism and dualism are very different positions. Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 08:37, 28 August 2012 (UTC)
You are wrong. Here's the catch. Reread the grandma story. If you grant that destroying part of the brain destroys part of the mind, then it follows the mind cannot survive brain death. You are trying to skirt this issue. On the one hand, you claim "idealism" is functionally identical to science, but on the other you want a small little out. Classic case of special pleading. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 20:12, 28 August 2012 (UTC)
I don't believe that the mind has "parts", so I don't grant that destroying part of the brain "destroys" "part" of the mind. I think the mind has certain capabilities; clearly, destroying certain parts of the brain can be correlated to an interruption to certain of those capabilities. But we don't know whether those capabilities can exist independently of those parts of the brain — quite possibly they could; and the cessation of certain capabilities of the mind says nothing about the cessation of the existence of the mind itself. Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 05:44, 29 August 2012 (UTC)
"I don't believe that the mind has "parts", so I don't grant that destroying part of the brain "destroys" "part" of the mind. I think the mind has certain capabilities; clearly, destroying certain parts of the brain can be correlated to an interruption to certain of those capabilities." Modern neuroscience has the beginning of a good physics explanation of the brain. Certain parts perform certain functioning, and when you take out those parts you lose that functioning. The evidence seems good that we're just a bunch of semi-independent processing "units" or heuristics - speech, vision, abstract and spatial reasoning, language parts, etc. Thus, you're trying to define your way out of it. It's a capability of the mind to have short term and long term memory? It's a capability of the mind to do basic math? To parse language? Another piece to form language? You're just in denial now. Everything that you are is represented in a piece in the brain. Memories, "capabilities", higher reasoning skills, desires, morals - everything. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 07:29, 29 August 2012 (UTC)
"But we don't know whether those capabilities can exist independently of those parts of the brain — quite possibly they could;" You are just floundering about now. What the hell would it mean for a part of the mind to exist, but to not function? You're trying to redefine the words to win the argument, instead of accepting reality. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 07:29, 29 August 2012 (UTC)
"and the cessation of certain capabilities of the mind says nothing about the cessation of the existence of the mind itself." Asinine. Perhaps the standard religious trite of wishful thinking too. You seem to display a lot of that "wishful thinking" in your arguments thus far. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 07:29, 29 August 2012 (UTC)
Neuroscience provides lots of evidence that certain mental states are correlated with certain brain activity. It provides no evidence that those mental states are identical to that brain activity; or that the brain activity is the cause of the mental state. Correlation between mind and brain is compatible with the mind being a product of the brain, but it is equally compatible with the brain activity being a product of mind. Also, maybe you should tone down your rhetoric a bit (e.g. "You are just floundering about now...", etc.), I don't see how it helps if the pursuit of the truth is to be our aim. Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 08:34, 29 August 2012 (UTC)
There is a difference between correlation and causation. (In before Nebuchadnezzar the contrarian pops in to tell us we don't have a working model of causation.) You cannot magically disappear parts of the brain by willing it. You can make parts of the mind disappear by removing parts of the brain. The conclusion is obvious. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 19:33, 29 August 2012 (UTC)
@Liberal: You can't get anywhere arguing against idealism with science any more than you can against solipsism or Holocaust denial Last Thursdayism. Just prepare yourself for lots of rehashed Berkeley and you'll be fine. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 09:39, 29 August 2012 (UTC)
You too? No. Idealism is making a claim. That claim is soundly refuted by science. If you want to bring up Last Thursdayism, that's fine. I've made my position on that clear earlier, that I will operate as if science works, and I will call bullshit on anyone who disagrees with science. You are right that I'm just repeating myself now, and this conversation gets less interesting as time goes on. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 19:31, 29 August 2012 (UTC)
Also Nebuchadnezzar, you're the one bringing this stuff up. Zack already admitted that he's for science, and he believes his position is consistent with science. We were having at least a somewhat worthwhile discussion of scientific fact, and then you came in to be a contrarian and question whether science works. I can appreciate that meta discussion from time to time, but I have little patience for people who dodge real world issues with such empty philosophical banter. And make no mistake, this is a real world issue. Our policies "in this world" will definitely change whether or not we believe the mind exists past brain death. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 19:58, 29 August 2012 (UTC)
You can have a discussion about science all you want, but it's going to boil down to an argument over god in the end. Berkeley's idealism requires a literal deus ex machina for some form of external reality to be saved, i.e., the universe existed prior to humans because it was conceived in the mind of god. I never said anything about science "not working." Arguing over neuroscience is not going to get you anywhere when the entire philosophical system relies on god. See also Bertrand Russell's objections. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 20:40, 29 August 2012 (UTC)
Arguing over neuroscience is not going to get you anywhere when the entire philosophical system relies on god. That's like... your opinion man. If you show a person that their belief in god implies stuff contradicted by science, then I tend to think the person is going to side with science. At the very least, Zack said that his idealism is compatible with science, so it would be a minor accomplishment for me if I at least got Zack to admit the incompatibility. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 22:00, 29 August 2012 (UTC)
"If you show a person that their belief in god implies stuff contradicted by science, then I tend to think the person is going to side with science." Heh. Well, have fun with that, but don't say I didn't warn you! Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 22:11, 29 August 2012 (UTC)
It is my hope and my belief about factual matters that most people are not like Kurt Wise. Most people are reachable, just ignorant about the scientific facts. Still - even if I got them to honestly admit the contradiction like Kurt Wise, that would be a good step. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 22:27, 29 August 2012 (UTC)

Anti-Reductionism Slaps Back![edit]

This paper from Ned Block gets at some of the problems I was talking about above (it cites the Fodor paper) concerning reductionist physicalism. I think Kim has written a book with some replies in it fairly recently that I haven't read yet, though. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 04:50, 16 September 2012 (UTC)

Interesting. So that's what Fodor is on about. Fodor doesn't like how a single thing such as "pain" might have two different reductions to basic physics. I don't see a problem here. I'm having a problem explaining in great detail why this is silly, but I do want to explore this. So, let's talk about the ability to do computations. We can make a purely mechanical hand calculator - it's been done - and we can make a hand calculator out of electronic silicon semiconductor circuits. Here, the principles underlying the operation of the two calculators are completely different, but we might apply the "abstraction" of "calculators" to both. Would Fodor think that this example destroys reductionism? I have to conclude yes. It's just silly. Also, for some reason, I see a kind of Platonic Ideals reasoning going on with Fodor. One way to describe it is he's annoyed that a Platonic Ideal such as pain can have perhaps an infinite number of reductions to basic physics, as pain may be realizable in perhaps an infinite number of different kinds of computing devices / brains. Again, I can't quite put into words why this is silly yet, but it is. -- This makes me want to clarify physics reductionism even more. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 21:08, 16 September 2012 (UTC)
Thanks again. I think I greatly clarified my general idea on my main user page based on what I just read. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 21:55, 16 September 2012 (UTC)
Yeah, that (i.e., multiple realizability) is a big part of Fodor's beef with reductionism. One of the obvious objections that Kim makes is one from "local reduction." That is, "pain" in general may not be reducible in the sense Fodor is talking about, but "locally reducible" in the sense of "human pain," "octopus pain," etc. But I think that the larger problem with certain types of reductionism is that they have trouble handling top-down causation. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 23:08, 16 September 2012 (UTC)
Also, here is a good article on Donald T. Campbell's original formulation of downward causation. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 03:53, 17 September 2012 (UTC)
Is my new physics reductionism entry clearer? I'd like to think so, but I might be missing some obvious point of misunderstanding. LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 07:28, 18 September 2012 (UTC)

3500+ words[edit]

You take yourself very seriously. OnTheInternetNobodyKnowsYou'reAGod (talk) 03:19, 12 October 2012 (UTC)

Meh, sorry. I'll try to keep the number of edits down. Mostly just jotting notes down. And yes I do take myself seriously. Paraphrase: "You serious [...]?" "[Egon:] I'm always serious." -Ghostbusters LiberalOfAnUnknownVariant (talk) 03:27, 12 October 2012 (UTC)

An advice[edit]

Please be aware that making personal attacks against other users is not acceptable behavior. Please refrain from insulting other users as you did at the Saloon Bar when you called another user an asshat. Be aware that continued harassment will result in more severe sanctions. ఠ_ఠ Inquisitor Sasha Ehrenstein des Sturmkrieg Sector 05:58, 25 January 2013 (UTC)

(EDIT: fixed) Can I call you a sexist pig? Is that a personal attack? I'd call it an accurate description. EnlightenmentLiberal (talk) 06:01, 25 January 2013 (UTC)
This isn't wikipedia. TyJFBANBSRADA 06:06, 25 January 2013 (UTC)
So, I can't call a sexist pig a sexist pig. Could I instead say "Your words are becoming of a sexist pig?". What about "That is a very sexist thing to say, and you offend me greatly by your harassment of my gender and reinforcement of cultural gender roles?. PS: How do I bring this to the coop? Seems while banned I can't edit it. Reading on how to contact admins... EnlightenmentLiberal (talk) 06:09, 25 January 2013 (UTC)
Try editing now. You got caught by autoblock. TyJFBANBSRADA 06:10, 25 January 2013 (UTC)
So, I wasn't banned by Inquisitor Sasha Ehrenstein? Seems like I was. My ban information btw: "Your current IP address is, and the block ID is #59220. Please include all above details in any queries you make." EnlightenmentLiberal (talk) 06:12, 25 January 2013 (UTC)
You were. However you were caught by the autoblock function despite Mikal's changeing of your block time. I've removed the autoblock. TyJFBANBSRADA 06:15, 25 January 2013 (UTC)
I don't like the idea of men becoming effeminate. However, I realize that not everyone feels that way, and I tolerate people who have an effeminate lifestyle. In fact some of my friends have been rather effeminate. I would appreciate returning the tolerance. Maybe I did a crap job explaining how I felt. If so, I'm sorry about doing so, and I try to be more clear to avoid problems with ambiguity. ఠ_ఠ Inquisitor Sasha Ehrenstein des Sturmkrieg Sector 06:18, 25 January 2013 (UTC)
Quoting you from the Saloon Bar: If you think it's unfair that you have to register for the draft, be a man and deal with it. -- No. You cannot say that. Michael Shermer just got eviscerated by the sensible online community for the exact same thing, such as when he said "skepticism, it's a man thing" (more or less). You cannot do exactly the same thing and except any respect from me, though I will try to refrain from personal insults and inflammatory language. EnlightenmentLiberal (talk) 06:21, 25 January 2013 (UTC)
So you took yourself to the Coop? Que huevos! nobsSay hello to my leetle friend 06:32, 25 January 2013 (UTC)
No, he took Ehrenstein to the coop for blocking him. Peter Droid whisperer 07:06, 25 January 2013 (UTC)
Maybe it would have helped if we had sarcasm tags. While that wasn't really the greatest thing to express, there's a lot of things that men need to deal with, unless things change radically in ways that don't seem realistic. For example, men get the short end of the stick in many ways in dating relationships and trying to find women. There's a lot of components to that, possibly genetic behaviors, and it's unlikely that will change. I don't believe that men or women are better than the other, only that there are differences, and in an equal society, they end up about the same. ఠ_ఠ Inquisitor Sasha Ehrenstein des Sturmkrieg Sector 06:55, 25 January 2013 (UTC)
Sarcasm tags in what sense? There's nothing stopping you from explicitly marking your sarcasm like you did if it's too ambiguous, plenty of people do that. Peter Droid whisperer 07:06, 25 January 2013 (UTC)
"men get the short end of the stick in many ways in dating relationships and trying to find women. There's a lot of components to that, possibly genetic behaviors" A small part of me died. Uke Blue

I remembered this when I discovered the page. Are you an MRA or do you support them? ఠ_ఠ Inquisitor Sasha Ehrenstein des Sturmkrieg Sector 16:03, 12 February 2013 (UTC)

Who? Me? Goodness no. EnlightenmentLiberal (talk) 19:35, 12 February 2013 (UTC)
LOL, that's good. ఠ_ఠ Inquisitor Sasha Ehrenstein des Sturmkrieg Sector 20:20, 12 February 2013 (UTC)


Apparently you were never made one. You are now (read this). We apologise for the oversight. Peter Droid whisperer 06:39, 25 January 2013 (UTC)


I changed the name of the dating life section. It wasn't intended as an attack or anything like that, and I wasn't sure how you felt about it. Anyway, I felt that the heading was a little hard on you; I figured you named it, but it wasn't my intent. ఠ_ఠ Inquisitor Sasha Ehrenstein des Sturmkrieg Sector 07:57, 30 January 2013 (UTC)

That's fine. I'm not really mad. I like a little self deprecation humor. It is true that I am a complete and utter social failure. So meh, whatcha gonna do? I'm just going to enjoy life, and be happy. Whatever. I've accepted forever being alone, or at least I'm trying to. EnlightenmentLiberal (talk) 08:37, 30 January 2013 (UTC)



I just had to check out your User page after our discussion on the 2nd Amendment. I have the same issue, trying to explain to people how you can be a socialist and a capitalist at the same time, and for along time I was worried that I was the only one to run into that problem. I was wondering how you addressed the percieved "conflicts" between the two systems, as well as your specific views on how those two systems can work sympathetically. I think that this would make for a most engaging discussion with you, especially since it is so rare for me to fnd someone with that view. Reverend Lucifer (talk) 22:37, 31 January 2013 (UTC)

I'll get to this and other point eventually. I have family visiting. A day or two probably. EnlightenmentLiberal (talk) 02:10, 1 February 2013 (UTC)
No rush, I have all the time I need. Reverend Lucifer (talk) 22:12, 1 February 2013 (UTC)
Sorry, been putting this off, for various reasons, some good, some bad. Anyway, how do I reconcile this? I care about the happiness and self determination of people. Thus I also care about the material wealth of people. Thus I want policies that will achieve these desired ends. Thus, as best as I can determine, a mix of "unbridled free markets", government wealth redistribution, and government social programs is the best way to accomplish this. It's really that easy. The hard part is the science and evidence to figure out which particular policy is the best. EnlightenmentLiberal (talk) 13:23, 10 February 2013 (UTC)
You take as much time as you need in responding to me. I'd rather have a well-reasoned answer that takes a week or more than to have you pound out some half-assed response in 15 minutes. I have a relatively Keynesian view of economic theory. I have limited knowledge on economics, but I can tell you what I have learned from what I have researched. Even Adam Smith, the father of "free-market capitalism" understood that a certain amount of government intervention was necessary to keep the market running correctly. I disagree vehemently with the assertion that government employment has no impact on the economy; a job is a job, after all, and government employees have to buy things the same way that private sector employees do. Hell, the majority of the Reagan Recovery was due to an increase in job numbers; public sector jobs. While the private sector was still shrinking, the overall job numbers were improving because of an expansion of the public sector, and those jobs helped cement in the recovery that Saint Ronnie is lauded for so often on the right.
I think the biggest hurdle we face is the fact that so many people feel that any program that does not benefit them is wasteful. My favorite example is my brother-in-law. He is an avid marijuana user, but he supports mandatory drug-testing for welfare recipients under the premise that he "[doesn't] want people on welfare to be spending his tax dollars on drugs." He even continues to hold this belief when faced with the fact that many states who have implemented a similar program have ultimately scrapped it because the savings from rejecting benefits to drug users was less than the cost to administer the drug testing. That means that as counter-intuitive as it may be, it costs less to give welfare to drug users than it does to make sure they don't get that money in the first place through drug testing. Despite that, many (my brother-in-law included) would still prefer to spend more money in order to ensure that no drug-users get benefits. That is the disconnect we need to fix; seemingly counter-intuitive policies like that can actually be more cost-effective than the common-sense policies people would "prefer." Reverend Lucifer (talk) 20:38, 18 February 2013 (UTC)


My goal is actually reform of the voting system to ensure fair and non-partisan elections. I think that we need a series of changes to the system for this to be effective, but to give you a basic idea of my stance:

1) I would like to change the districting process to eliminate political bias; I was looking at some of the various methods of objective districting, and I think the "shortest line" method would be workable if the algorithm was modified to account for geographic and political divisions (counties, tribal areas, urban vs. rural, etc.). This eliminates gerrymandering and other political trickery from the process. I understand that it eliminates the ability to specially create "minority-majority" districts, but combined with other reforms, that wouldn't be needed.

2) I would like to modify the voting process to use a form of the "Instant Runoff Election." This allows for a more robust field of candidates, and gives 3rd party candidates a better chance at election (example, Green party voters won't have to worry about losing to Republicans because they peel off votes for the Democrat). This allows people to vote their conscience, and eliminates the need to form a voting coalition to elect the least offensive candidate, which typically means Democratic or Republican control of the elected office.

3) I would like to institute voting as a civic duty, rather than a priviledge. Mandatory voting is de rigueur in many democracies, and ensures that elected officials actually reflect the views of the electorate, rather than just the most motivated part of the electorate. Also, who wouldn't want another free day off work? (most places with mandatory voting either make it a national holiday, or conduct it on the weekend.

4) I would like to normalize that voting process for national offices. The process, including the credentials needed to cast a ballot, the times and days that polling locations will be open, and the distribution of electors throughout the states. My specific idea for presidential elections is to allocate electors based on congressional district (but only with the objective districts advocated above, not the gerrymandered districts), with the final 2 electors being divied by statewide popular vote, with the electors being split unless either side managed a 66% majority of the statewide vote. This process would help ensure that the electoral vote would more accurately affect the popular vote, and if it was adopted by all 50 states, would ensure that the race is not concentrated to a few "swing states" that effectively decide the election every 4 years.

With these 4 reforms, I feel that we can fundamentally remake the electoral landscape so that it more faithfully reflects the will and desire of the populace. I look forward to hearing your opinions on that, and any alternate suggestions that you may pose. Reverend Lucifer (talk) 22:37, 31 January 2013 (UTC)

I am sadly very ignorant. A big problem is Arrow's Law, so we're just trying to do the best we can. Whatever we can do to enhance voter knowledge, increase time horizons past 1 year or sound bites, and get real political discussions going again. Whatever we can do to remove demagoguery. I believe that winner take all single district is a big part of it, but I also think this anti-intellectualism in the US, along with near fervent faith in laissez-faire, is hurting too. I don't know what to do about that. I'm sorry that I'm not addressing your specifics. Frankly, as I said, I'm ignorant. I would need to gather evidence to see which is the best plan. I will say I'm dubious that making voting required is a good way to go. I like the idea of lazy people or idiots staying away from the polls. Then again, maybe this selection pressure is bad, and it favors idiotics zealots. Why do you think that we'll get better votes if we have mandatory voting? EnlightenmentLiberal (talk) 13:27, 10 February 2013 (UTC)
I don't know whether mandatiory voting would necessarily improve voting, but I look at it this way: a truly representative government requires a robust and diverse voting pool. As it stands, you are correct in that the electroal process is dominated with the people who get the most motivation to vote, and those are the people at the fringe of the political spectrum who believe that the (relatively) centrist government we have is too far to the left/right of whatever they think is the right way to govern. Also, the poor and undereducated are less represented because of a lack of ability or desire to vote, while those are the people most likely to have their lives severely impacted by the government; raising taxes on the wealthy will not reduce them to sub-poverty levels, but cutting benefits for the under-priviledged would have a significant impact on their quality of life. Those same people are discouraged from voting (it takes a long time in some places, it's hard to get educated on the issues, taking time off work loses them money, etc.) which limits the impact they can have on the things that affect them in the government.
As I said, though, mandatory voting alone won't fix that. It's only if it is coupled with the other ideas you discussed, such as voter education and the elimination of demagoguery, that mandatory voting can have any sort of positive impact on the electoral process; the only truly effective way to keep the ignorant away from the polls would be to reintroduce civic literacy tests, and I don't think anyone wants to go down that road again. I had toyed around with modifying the districts from being winner-take-all, but I don't see how that would ultimately fix problems on a national level. It's very effective for smaller, local elections where the pool of candidates is more limited, but on larger levels, like for the US House, I only see it as eliminating some of the diversity. For example, if you combine 5 districts which typically split 4/1 in favor of Republicans into a single district with 5 possible seats, it's as easy as fielding 5 Republican candidates to eliminate the remaining Democrat. I really think that the Instant Runoff/Winner-Take-All method is the better way to go because it should start to add a more diverse set of political parties, much like other European-style democracies have.
Even without that, though, the two biggest changes I think would have the most impact (and also be the easiest to implement) would be to eliminate gerrymandering and to normalize the electoral process for national offices. The parties have dedicated themselves to gaming the system to create an artificial advantage, and it is those two tactics that I find most antithetical to a fair, representative government, as evidenced by the results of the US House electoral results in 2012, where the Democrats received over 1.5 million more votes nationally (a margin of 1.2% of the total votes) than the Republicans, but since the Republicans got to draw the electoral districts, they kept a 33 seat majority (a margin of 7.6% of the number of seats in the House). Couple that with the fact that a 2-party system prevents people from voting their conscience when they support a 3rd party candidate for fear of diluting the voting pool that supports the candidate from the closer of the two political parties (i.e. votes for Libertarian candidates pull support from the (reltively) more centrist Republican candidate). The ulitame result from that is that in districts that would vote heavily Libertarian, the Democratic candidate has a better chance because the far left Green party voters would likely not even have a candidate, consolidating the votes on the left and diffusing them on the right. Neither of those situations is indicative of a truly representative government.
And don't apologize for not addressing specifics. Part of the joy of discussion and debate is to present new and novel ideas (or reintroduce previously dismissed concepts) that can then be researched, and discussed further, so that a consensus can be reached as to the best course of action. I'm not trying to claim to have all the solutions, but I've looked at the problems and how different governments address them, and tried to present what I consider the most ideal solutions based on what has been done so far. Reverend Lucifer (talk) 19:59, 18 February 2013 (UTC)

I'm genuinely curious.[edit]

Why do you have such a visceral reaction to the idea of sex workers? Polar Bear in the Jungle Peter Tosh > Bob Marley 21:48, 10 February 2013 (UTC)

I don't want just sex. If I wanted a one night stand, I probably could have accomplished this by now. I also want a loving monogamous relationship, and I figure that is the height of hypocrisy if I look down on someone who likes sleeping around when I sleep with prostitutes. EnlightenmentLiberal (talk) 21:49, 10 February 2013 (UTC)
I think I see where you're coming from, but I don't get the idea of looking down on someone because of their sexual behavior (assuming consenting adults all around, of course...) Polar Bear in the Jungle Peter Tosh > Bob Marley 21:52, 10 February 2013 (UTC)
They're welcome to do whatever they want, but I don't want to date them. Of course, it never gets that far that I might learn of this - I don't ask - so largely irrelevant to my current problems. EnlightenmentLiberal (talk) 21:55, 10 February 2013 (UTC)
Having had sex once might make it easier by giving you more confidence so it won't seem quite as much like your heading off into the unknown. It isn't a magic cure for confidence though. ఠ_ఠ Inquisitor Sasha Ehrenstein des Sturmkrieg Sector 14:16, 12 February 2013 (UTC)

John Locke: Silver Bug[edit]

An interesting tidbit about Locke, which I've ripped from David Graeber's Debt: The First 5000 Years. Locke argues against clipped coinage:

From whence we may see, that the use and end of the public stamp is only to be a guard and voucher of the quantity of silver, which men contract for; and the injury done to the public faith, in this point, is that which in clipping and false coining heightens the robbery into treason.

According to Graeber, the British government restruck the currency following Locke's logic and subsequently tanked the economy in the late 1690s. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 05:43, 1 March 2013 (UTC)

lols. I surely do not get my economic advice from anyone of that era. Then again, I don't get it from anywhere. I am sadly ignorant of what economic policies work. EnlightenmentLiberal (talk) 06:17, 1 March 2013 (UTC)

Sunstein on Mill[edit]

Cass Sunstein does not like the harm principle. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 23:14, 3 March 2013 (UTC)

Yeah, this came up somewhere else for me already, forget where. As I say, I care about human happiness and human self determination. If they come into conflict, I generally side with human self determination. Her example minors is not terribly compelling. Her basic argument is "In the specific case where if they were fully informed and full rational and they would choose differently, then it's permissible to use force to make them do otherwise". It's not a wholesale rejection of the harm principle. It's a rejection that people are sufficiently well informed or that they make decisions which they will like in 10 years time. It's actually a very narrow disagreement IMHO. It doesn't attack the basis of the harm principle which is that each individual is the judge of their own happiness. It just says that perhaps the individual's preferences in 10 years time are more important than their preferences today. It's an interesting point. I don't have a really good reply yet. Depends on the exact details. Her example of sugar drinks is sketchy at best IMHO. Is it obviously true that people would be happier if they didn't drink soda? Life is full of risks. Life is all about risk management. Sometimes you can get more pleasure by taking more risk. That would be one of my main replies to that article. (Another is my perhaps-misplaced knee-jerk reaction against tyranny via slippery slope arguments.) EnlightenmentLiberal (talk) 23:32, 3 March 2013 (UTC)

Getting laid[edit]

I was thinking about what you said. One of the things that I've realized is that most of our social problems are to some extent voluntary; they're emotional rather than simply being unable to function socially. Anyone who leaves the house without masturbating probably already has all the social components necessary for interaction. The problem comes from lacking the confidence to engage in interaction, as well as not engaging in interactive activities. There are a lot of socially unaware Autistic people who have far more friends than Autistic people who have knowledge of all social skills, but who don't interact with other people out of "not knowing how." The socially ignorant Autistic people have more friends because they have the confidence that they can interact, and even though they say some of the craziest things, they're expressing themselves. Plus the fact that they often don't try to reconstruct their thoughts into something more "politically correct" or "socially acceptable" shows confidence and can be entertaining. Really, you're your own roadblock when it comes to social interaction. If you want to get laid, then just put yourself out there and talk girls. Don't be obvious and seem like you're trying to get laid. Don't just talk girls you find attractive who you want to bang; it won't give you a good sense of natural interaction. Making friends with all the girls you get the opportunity to will give you more natural interaction, and allow you seem like you're not trying to get laid. If you genuinely seem like you aren't interested sex (and when you aren't interested either) is when you'll be most likely to get laid; trying too hard is bad. At your age, you don't want girls picking up on the fact that you're a virgin until you get to the bedroom. It would raise too many questions about why you've never been laid before. It could be because you're creepy, not strong minded enough, too awkward, low social status, or some other problem. Plus, taking your virginity could be seen as an agressive move that most girls wouldn't be comfortable with. You'll also want to ask the girl to show you what to do. You should take the opportunity learn how to be good at sex, and to also not be the stereotypical terrible virgin who lasts a minute and doesn't do anything for the girl, other than use her as an object to lose his virginity. Being good at sex will also help you in subsequent relationships. Really, you just need to put yourself out there. If you need to boost the confidence you have, you can do that by being increasingly social. Nothing bad is going to happen. You need to talk to people like you're Patton at Argentan. You need to charge ahead with reckless abandon. You are the SPESS MAHREENS! You are the Emperor's fury! If you think that losing your virginity would help your confidence, a one night stand could help you. Just be aware that while you might make non virginity out to be a social club, that goes away once you have sex. You will be on top of the world for the first day, and possibly rent a billboard to announce it. That will be gone in a month. If you don't work on confidence and only wanted "to not be a virgin," your desperation will just manifest itself with a different goal, such as actually finding a girl friend, and you'll just become equally desperate about that. You'll quickly realize that there isn't a massive wall separating the virgin and non virgin world.

Whatever you do, don't end up like the people at

ఠ_ఠ Тод Зенос ан форфар фор 18:24, 10 March 2013 (UTC)

I'm sorry. I'm ignoring everything you say because you are unable to read and remember what I said. Thanks for the effort to help though, but your time would be better spent elsewhere. EnlightenmentLiberal (talk) 23:41, 10 March 2013 (UTC)
Forum:Wherein_I_try_to_avoid_"whining" ఠ_ఠ Тод Зенос ан форфар фор 00:13, 11 March 2013 (UTC)
If you had a point to make, I missed it. EnlightenmentLiberal (talk) 00:36, 11 March 2013 (UTC)
it doesn't really require understanding anything else. It's just social advice really. ఠ_ఠ Тод Зенос ан форфар фор 01:46, 11 March 2013 (UTC)
Protip: The part that you seem contractually bound to not understand is that I don't want "to get laid", and I'd rather stay a virgin than do a one night stand. EnlightenmentLiberal (talk) 02:09, 11 March 2013 (UTC)
I understand it. I guess I should have retitled the post. I only suggested a one night stand once in a general sense as something that might quickly boost confidence. Of course, it's not a silver bullet and it doesn't do magical changes to you that a lot of desperate virgins think it does. That said, I've wondered about how much that's true and whether having had sex is important for some sort of emotional development. I base this on the fact a lot of old virgins have odd and child like auras. It's not necessarily being immature, but some far more subtle child like quality. Although that does get into correlation and the fact that I'm just observing strange people. It also is massively subject to the tupee fallacy. ఠ_ఠ Тод Зенос ан форфар фор 06:36, 11 March 2013 (UTC)
I don't have confidence problems. I'm not sure if I should take that as offensive or thank you for saying that I have a childlike aura. EnlightenmentLiberal (talk) 07:05, 11 March 2013 (UTC)
I wasn't saying that you had one. I was saying that I've seen that there are people who have it. I don't know if it's accurate. ఠ_ఠ Тод Зенос ан форфар фор 14:05, 11 March 2013 (UTC)

Relationship advice I remembered[edit]

I remembered this and realized it could do good to share it here. Maybe this is depends on the person or location, but I've noticed, and so has Dondrekhan, that having a one night stand is a lot harder than getting laid by having a girlfriend. When it comes to getting drunk and having sex with drunk people, that often doesn't turn out the way most people think. As for having a one night stand when sober, that's unlikely to happen to anyone who isn't well socially connected, and even then, it's not going to be common. The easiest way is going to be to go out with a girl. On that, I've been reading on websites related to the love shy forum that it's bad to "act like you don't want to have sex" because it's "creepy." I think that might be referring to something specific, but it seems to fly in the face of experience. I think it means don't act like a nice guy, a friend, and want sex, because it sends the message that you were only interested in being a friend in order to get laid. The important thing is to not seem desperate; girls will not have sex with you if you seem like you're trying to get laid. The times that you are with girls and you are actually disinterested from sex are going to be the times when you get laid. I would say the most important thing would be to disinterest yourself from sex somehow; just view interaction as social interaction. –Inquisitor Sasha 14:29, 30 March 2013 (UTC)

I am so socially stupid that I really have no clue what you're saying. I can repeat it verbatim, because I've heard it many times before, but I do not understand what it means such that it is actionable for me, or so that I could identify which behaviors are meant to qualify. Frankly, I think it's largely bullshit, and people just gain experience in school which I never did because I was busy reading, doing school work, hanging to myself to not get beat up and to avoid teasing, or otherwise being unsocial. ... For the benefit of both of us, it would be better to drop this topic I think. EnlightenmentLiberal (talk) 21:22, 2 April 2013 (UTC)
I was saying that if you haven't been able to get a girlfriend, it isn't likely that you could have had a one night stand. I know a few guys who have had a one night stand as their first time, but it's not the easiest way. It can be a shortcut to bypass forming a relationship with limited social skills, but only under very specific circumstances, and even then, you still need to be at least basically socially competent and on the ball. As for developing social skills in school and being frakked if you miss out on that, I wouldn't consider that accurate at all. None of my friends had any effective social skills building in high school, and yet all of them are fairly socially successful. In fact, the kid who completely lost his crap every time someone said penis... vagina was the first guy out of our social group to get laid. I could let you go, but I know you can do it. I can't just leave you behind. All you have to do is change, and it's not bad. Where do you live? If you live anywhere near where I do, I'll help you out at a party or something like that. Not just to get laid, but to make friends, which will lead to that. –Inquisitor Sasha (Talk | contribs | block) 05:26, 3 April 2013 (UTC)
Between San Fransisco and San Hose, California, USA. EnlightenmentLiberal (talk) 05:51, 3 April 2013 (UTC)
Richmond and Fredericksburg. Completely on the opposite side of the country. –Inquisitor Sasha (Talk | contribs | block)


As a neo-marxist, I'd like to hear your interpretation of Locke. While it was true that he was trying to argue against Mercantilism, it's hard to argue against interpreting his work as anything but trying to argue for a more libertarian idea of government (i.e. the protection of property being the greatest function). Also, by definition, socialism is public ownership of the means of production, while capitalism is private production. Not sure how those two mix unless you're using some obscure definition... Captain Swing (bringer of nachos) 01:13, 13 April 2013 (UTC)

It's been a while since I've read Locke. AFAIK, he had a cheap excuse to justify his theories of property. Namely, it does no irreparable harm to others if I gather apples and waste them, because there are plenty of apples out there for the taking. More concretely, he pointed at America, the new frontier, with all of the free land you could ask for (after you kill the people already there). Obviously that weak excuse no longer exists, and the problem is laid bare. So no, I think that if you gather apples and waste them, and someone else is hungry, then you are doing harm to that person. So, while I don't subscribe to everything Locke said, I think he has some good firm foundations for what make a good government. EnlightenmentLiberal (talk) 06:53, 13 April 2013 (UTC)
To continue, I think a lot of the basic ideas of Locke still apply, though not the exact conclusions. His major flaw was to not recognize that the available property is all already partitioned, and in a particular sense finite. Sure, property can generate more property, but if you're at the bottom of the social ladder then you have no property and you are screwed. Similarly, I cannot justify the mere existence of billionaires. I do not see any justification whatsoever for them to enjoy so much property when it means that it denies the use of that property by other people. Especially when most billionaires are born into it. That's why I'm a huge proponent of progressive taxation and heavy estate taxes, as a start. I think most sane people can agree to that, and if that was kept on the books for a generation or two, it might help a lot to redistribute some of this wealth in a just fashion. EnlightenmentLiberal (talk) 07:00, 13 April 2013 (UTC)
Having said that, I was using a very loose definition of socialist. I was using it to at least include progressive taxation, spending more money to lift people out of poverty, some interference in the economy. In short, I'm for whatever policy best achieves a happy, free, materially wealthy society. From the facts currently in my possession, I think the best way to achieve that is a regulated capitalist economy, with a lot of government social programs. Still, I am a huge proponent of limited government when it comes to civil liberty issues, and I am against "hypothetical" or "real" cases of people choosing not to work and living comfortably, buying cars and all of the new toys, etc. I'm all for lifting people out of poverty if they're willing to work, and work is available. If there is work available and they do not work, then I don't think the government should be buying them X-Boxes. Reminds me of a friend I have who owns a video game store, and he says the busiest day is Wednesday(?), or whatever day it was when the welfare checks came in. So, I still want welfare programs, but I wish they were better managed, and more aimed at lifting people out of poverty instead of the sometimes perverse incentives which exist which penalize people when they get a job and they're on welfare. However again, I am grossly ignorant on how these things are actually implemented and how frequently they're abused, so I'm not in a position offhand to judge any current policy. EnlightenmentLiberal (talk) 06:53, 13 April 2013 (UTC)
As for the government owning the means of production, sounds like an interesting idea. Can you name some actionable concrete policies so I might be able to evaluate if it's a good idea? I'll still want competition in the marketplace, because competition helps ensure decent quality at an affordable price. As I said, I'm still a capitalist, when it works. EnlightenmentLiberal (talk) 06:53, 13 April 2013 (UTC)
Normally, I'm usually high on civil liberties, though some things I do not consider civil liberties (guns for instance). Overall, I personally value pragmatism above all else though, since rigid ideology is wonderful until it leads you to genocide. And the key here is not necessarily government. Could be owned by trade unions or other such groups. As for welfare queens, they're more myth than reality, the boogeyman of the right that ignores the fact that for every person abusing the system, there are many more who genuinely need the help. As for actual implementation, the closest models I've seen work well are in Scandinavia, though these are far from true socialism. Captain Swing (bringer of nachos) 04:57, 14 April 2013 (UTC)
Locke did not justify property on the basis that wasting resources does no harm, AFAIK. If he did, it was a secondary argument to his "labor mixing" argument, i.e., property ownership was justified when that property was used in some form of labor.
Also, re: welfare, the perverse incentives argument doesn't really hold water. For example, most people on food stamps have jobs. Welfare queens are just a myth. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 05:30, 14 April 2013 (UTC)
I need to review my Locke, it's been two years since I last read him. Also, in response to one other point you raised, the way I view it is more of a production, responsibility, and self-interest. No one person gets to the top of the heap by themselves. Sean Hannity may never have gotten a job from a poor person, but millions of relatively poor people give him his living. We must all accept that we got to where we are thanks to a bit of luck, a lot of help, and others around us supporting us whether we like to admit it or not. This individualism shit has got to go. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the people who are wealthy to give back to the lower classes who are responsible for their fabulous wealth. However, due to their own self-interests, they refuse to do so. And this is where I start to get into Marxism. Captain Swing (bringer of nachos) 05:36, 14 April 2013 (UTC)
A true Marxist would not beg the bourgeoisie for table scraps, but call for revolution, comrade! Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 05:51, 14 April 2013 (UTC)
As I said, I haven't read any Locke in forever, but I do strongly recall some of his work using the apple examples, or something like it. Looks like I have reading to do. EnlightenmentLiberal (talk) 07:08, 15 April 2013 (UTC)

You have new messages at Forum:Wherein I try to avoid "whining" ––Inquisitor Ehrenstein (Talk

Being creepy[edit]

I would suggest strongly that you not view yourself as creepy, as this will affect your confidence. It's also important to remove what ever is causing you to be creepy. Provided that you're reasonably attractive and not creepy, girls will approach you at parties. I wouldn't count on it if you aren't well connected, but it will happen, which is good if you have trouble approaching people. This isn't only useful for looking for a one night stand, as it will allow you to get to know girls who you might consider going out with. Also, know that the "friend zone" is bullshit and plenty of people have been married to girls who were their "friends." –Александр(а) Ehrenstein (Talk | Contribs | Ragebox) 23:28, 1 June 2013 (UTC)

Hate speech and all that[edit]

Hey, you may well have read this piece already since it covers a subject that seems to be of particular interest to you, but there's a superb article written by Flemming Rose on hate speech laws and their inefficacy here. Grumblejaws (talk) 07:10, 19 July 2013 (UTC)

Mmm. I don't know if I actually agree that the hate speech laws significantly helped the Nazis - I don't know - but I can probably agree that hate speech laws were and are woefully ineffective. Thanks for the link. EnlightenmentLiberal (talk) 08:29, 19 July 2013 (UTC)

Moving my response here[edit]

Since this has become a conversation between you and I, I figured I'd avoid cluttering the Bar.

Do you vote? How do you plan to keep your religious beliefs out of voting entirely? I do vote, but since my politics came before my faith, I've yet to see a need to change the former because of the latter. My faith tells me I should work for the same things my politics tell me I should work for, what would generally be thought of as a social-democratic system free of racism, sexism, other forms of discrimination, etc, etc.

Suppose you think abortion is murder. I don't.

Furthermore, are you not taking part in a public conversation right now, trying to defend your delusional beliefs as acceptable? I suppose I am, but mostly because you brought it up in a way that I found problematic. I really don't care if my beliefs are acceptable to you. I do wonder why you would be so invested in them, especially not having shown any curiosity into what they really are.

For example, if you are a Roman catholic, I will ask you why you provide support to a criminal organization whose official policy is to protect child rapists from prosecution? I'm not.

...if you're a christian in general, I will ask you if you believe in hell, annihilation, or some mere temporary purgatory, but regardless of which option you choose, I would have to ask the christian how is it that they can consider it just and desirable and acceptable that someone will receive some punishment, or equivalently someone will not receive some gift, simply on the basis of whether or not you accept some ridiculous claims on no evidence, and furthermore on the basis of whether you submit yourself as a slave to a celestial tyrant. The teachings of Jesus are one way in which I'm trying to make sense of my belief in God; my church -- I'm a Unitarian Universalist -- encourages its members to draw on any number of faith-based and/or secular philosophies as they fit our own personal needs and outlooks. "A covenant, not a creed" is a central part of our approach. With that in mind, I approach those teachings, like I approach any text, as critically as I can, and I understand them as being rooted in the intellectual, philosophical and moral dynamics of their time and place, and look for the ways in which they may work here and now. Any particular faith tradition is but one of many ways that people have tried to understand their lives and to craft a way to get through what is often a painful life. What works for one won't necessarily work for another. I'm finding something that works for me -- and part of that is trying not to be so bold as to say that I have any certain knowledge of the nature of God. But I am on a path that has allowed be to approach that question in a way that I find spiritually and intellectually satisfying, and the people close to me have commented on how much more at ease I seem. I sleep better and cry less. If you're happy with your own outlook, I see no reason for you to try mine. PowderSmokeAndLeather: Say something once, why say it again?.Moderator 23:17, 31 July 2013 (UTC)

These are some of the differences between me and you. ... I am honest. I only claim to know things for which I can provide good evidence and argument. You are not honest. You claim to know things which you cannot possibly know. Faith itself is inherently dishonest. ... I care about other people. "Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion." (Steven Weinberg.) I know that having a culture where the norm is for people to claim to know things which they do not know is a surefire way to damage that society. Good public policy and private policy and any plan in general depends on us having a sound basis in facts. You can't have a rational discourse if people are allowed to invent claims out of thin air, which is the essence of faith. EnlightenmentLiberal (talk) 23:31, 31 July 2013 (UTC)
You also didn't answer my pertinent questions. Am I going to be punished because I am not a gullible slave-minded person? Is this a just system? Is this not the central tenant of christianity? If you call yourself a christian, I would think that you have to at least accept this belief. If you're not a christian and more of some weird quasi-deist or pantheist, then hey! Your beliefs are far less noxious. I would need to know what you believe, and why you believe it, but if at any point you cannot justify those beliefs, then some of my earlier criticisms remain. I will call you deluded, guilty of wishful thinking, and I will say this is not a path that leads to sustainable happiness, in the hope that I can change your mind for your benefit and mine, and chaneg other people's minds for their benefit and ours. EnlightenmentLiberal (talk) 23:31, 31 July 2013 (UTC)
You claim to know things which you cannot possibly know. Where have I done that? I'm curious about things, and I may believe things, but I know that belief is not knowledge. Plus, I pretty clearly stated that I don't want to say that I know the nature of God, because I don't.
Am I going to be punished because I am not a gullible slave-minded person? I don't think so. The UUs believe that everyone can find redemption. That's what the "Universalism" part is about. What shape that redemption takes, and if it happens in this life or beyond, is up to the individual to figure out.
I've never heard of Wineberg, I'll have to look him up.
If you call yourself a christian, I don't.
some weird quasi-deist or pantheist, I wouldn't really say that. "God" is a convenient human shorthand for a bunch of things that there are no easy answers for. There have been a lot of ways to try to understand those concepts and craft a way to live with and around them. That's what I'm trying to figure out. That's not to say all of those approaches are equally valid. If some guy tells me that "God" wants him to have someone cut off his daughter's clit, I would tell him that maybe he could make better use of the rationality that "God" gave him. But if Desmond Tutu says that "God" told him that apartheid was bullshit and he should be willing to lay down his life to bring an end to it, i'm in no position to judge that. PowderSmokeAndLeather: Say something once, why say it again?.Moderator 23:47, 31 July 2013 (UTC)
So, you use "god" like a lot of people use "spiritual". It's like a dog whistle, and you use it as such. The concept is so watered down that you have no coherent description of your beliefs. I don't know what you believe, and at this rate, you probably don't either. Let me invoke my other favorite quote: "Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus." (Thomas Jefferson). Sure your idea isn't exactly the Trinity, but the same applies. I still see you as guilty of wishful thinking, though at least you're honest enough to not pin down any specifics, but precisely because of that I also lack respect for your ideas because the ideas are not. It's just a list of words stringed together without any particular meaning. It's feel-good all the way with no substance. ... Now, as soon as you might present a specific idea which is unsupported by evidence, I can go back to delusional, but I can't quite apply that to you now. "Confused" I think is a much better description. Maybe wanting to fit in somewhere, and you found some place that can do that for you. ... At worst though, if you identify as religious, you give tacit permission to be religious to others, which I still find quite distasteful. "Religion" is by common understanding the application of faith, and as I said before, faith is inherently dishonest (paraphrasing Aronra), and faith leads to the erosion of critical thinking in many other areas. It's inherently dangerous. EnlightenmentLiberal (talk) 03:35, 1 August 2013 (UTC)
Also, I will call you deluded if you hold beliefs which lack sufficient evidence and especially in spite of contradictory evidence. I will call you dishonest if you share those beliefs ever with any sort of tacit nuance that you believe it to be true. I was not trying to distinguish between "belief" and "knowledge" previously. Frankly, that this even came up is horrible. Why would you ever want to hold a belief which you could not call knowledge? The usual definition of knowledge is "justified true belief". If your belief is not justified, then drop it! EnlightenmentLiberal (talk) 03:42, 1 August 2013 (UTC)
Okay. PowderSmokeAndLeather: Say something once, why say it again?.Moderator 04:33, 1 August 2013 (UTC)

"you are not going to attack someone for providing material and moral support to an international child rape ring."[edit]

You want to know why im going to live in that world? Because my grandparents are catholic, my Moirail is catholic, and several of my other close friends are catholic, of varying shades of liberal. My girlfriend is also religious, she seems perfectly fine with the fact i'm not. I don't do what you do because i value my ties with them and don't see the benefit at all of losing those bridges just because dont like the organization/beliefs they belong to. It's anti-theists like you, who go on the offensive not only against those who deserve it but those who have done no wrong, that make my life as an atheist difficult. Because people assume "oh your atheist you hate all religion" abd suddenly life is cold for me, when no, i don't. I'm extremely bitter and distrustful of organized religion but am fine with letting it co-exist alongside me so long as it doesn't make me be part of it,. --MikallakiM 16:14, 4 August 2013 (UTC)

So, you're ok with living with child rapists and those who prevented their prosecution, and those who give money to an organization whose official position is to obstruct justice and protect child rapists? And you're going to diss me for speaking my mind plainly about the horribleness of anyone who could voluntarily give money to an organization whose track has been this for a hundred years, at least. You do understand that the Vatican sent out official orders to all cardinals, bishops, and other church leaders that anyone cooperating with the police in these matters would be excommunicated? That literally means in Catholic-speak that they will go to hell and suffer eternal torment. Not the child rapists. Not the people protecting the child rapists. But the goddamned children themselves who were raped will be sent to hell if they speak out under that official Vatican order. I'm sorry. Your position is completely unacceptable. I have no time to waste on scum like you who will protect child rapists from justice, and worse I have no time to waste on scum like you who diss those who are working to stop it. Fuck you. EnlightenmentLiberal (talk) 10:01, 5 August 2013 (UTC)
My tax dollers are being shuffled off to a lot of things i probably don't support, should i stop paying them and spend my time actively denouncing and fighting the government as a vagrant? I've not met a single. SINGLE catholic who doesn't condemn the abuse, being a member of its group makes them no more enablers of it than me being a citizen makes me a supporter of the government's policies.--MikallakiM 13:17, 5 August 2013 (UTC)
Wait, you mean as an American I'm not personally responsible for the dropping of Agent Orange on Vietnam? Shocking. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 16:20, 5 August 2013 (UTC)

Helping you get laid[edit]

First, you're going to need to find someone who you are attracted to. Are there any girls who you are interested in, who you have thought about having sex with? –Александр(а) (Talk | Contribs | Ragebox) 04:01, 20 August 2013 (UTC)

I am more excited about this thread than the birth of my first-borne. Inquisitor you must ration out the wisdom lest you create an amoral sex machine who beds women and ruins lives as easily as he breathes. Tielec01 (talk) 04:24, 20 August 2013 (UTC)
You fool, now that he's aware of it you've made it worse. We must flee to our shelters now and wait out the chaos. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 04:30, 20 August 2013 (UTC)
To clarify, I'm asking if there are any girls who you find interesting/attractive, and this should not be taken to mean that it's ok to have obsessive creepy fantasies. –Александр(а) (Talk | Contribs | Ragebox) 05:33, 20 August 2013 (UTC)
I'm pretty sure this fella LANCB over something about us offering support to baby rapists. --DamoHi 06:23, 20 August 2013 (UTC)
I quickly figured that when I saw leaving and never coming back'. –Александр(а) (Talk | Contribs | Ragebox) 22:11, 20 August 2013 (UTC)
Or a creepy offer to help him get laid accompanied by creepy personal questions from a complete stranger? Nutty Roux100x100 anarchy symbol.svg 22:18, 20 August 2013 (UTC)