Posts by damntheirlies

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    Completely agree again. There should be no belief or position that is not open to critical examination. So, while as you said we should try to respect all people - there beliefs on any matter, be they scientific, political or religious should be open to question by anyone at any time.

    I also agree that Dawkins talks as he does to attempt to drag this issue more into the public spotlight. In fact he may even present himself purposefully as the extreme end of the scale in order to inspire more attention for the subject. However from what Dawkins has said on air and in print, I have never come across any words that are not justified, or that he does not provide adequate enough reason for using.

    Quote from glassic89

    6) To say that something is a theory and not a fact does nothing to show that we should not endorse the theory - that we should not believe what ever it is that the theory claims. The atheist, in using evolution as a weapon against creationists, is, of course, putting forward a theory, just as the creatonist is putting forward a theory. But this is not the point - the point is to decide which theoryis better and surely, the victory must go to the evolutionist.

    Though you are entirely correct about this, I feel it may be slightly open to misinterpretation. Though evolution is a theory, it is in such a way no different from any other scientific position. Science works either on induction (observing numerous instances and inferring a fact), or on falsifiability (holding a theory until evidence to the contrary arises). Thus every scientific position we have - from evolution, to the reproductive actions of plants, to the water cycle are theories.
    Despite the fact that strictly speaking, all scientific theories are only 'theories' (on this understanding, only a priori things like 2+2=4, or 'an uncle is a man' are facts) - it is a mistake to conflate 'theory' in this usage with 'theory' in the sense of a kind of guess.
    Therefore as you have said - as in all scientific theories - both evolution and creationism are theories, in the same way full earth and hollow earth are both theories - but as is clear from this latter case, this does not entail that they are by any means equal - nor that they should necessarily be given the same respect (there are few groups calling for inclusion of hollow earth, or flat earth theory in schools on the grounds that it is unfair to teach only full earth, or round earth theory. This is not the case with creationists who argue along those very lines). The accepted theory should be the one with the overwhelming evidence - and this is certainly evolution.

    I completely agree - the psychological impact of religion would be a very interesting study. Along with the damaging effects you have mentioned, I would be intrigued to see the impact of the suppression of critical thinking in these people.

    As far as Dawkins being arrogant goes - I agree with you that he is not, in fact whenever I have seen him on TV, he has always seemed very calm and not at all preachy (more so in fact than some other famous atheists). I think the 'arrogance' that people refer to is the rather unpolitically correct way he openly refers to religious belief as delusional and so on. However, this is entirely hypocritical as such people openly talk of widely accepted delusions such as scientology in the same way. Dawkins merely dares to be consistent, and this is what people feel unable to cope with.

    Quote from Coyote

    Lets leave the digs out then if thats the case? :rolleyes:

    No digs, I was just a little sceptical as to whether you could control yourself.

    Quote from Coyote

    You post suggested an independently existing morality to be perceived....

    Actually, I was just suggesting two alternatives to religion being the source of morality (as is becoming clear, my definition of religion does not entail that morality comes from it by definition). I wasn't suggesting that morality existed in an independent sense - obviously if there are no sentient beings (conscious beings), then there is no morality (in a sense)- rather I was suggesting two possibilities in which morality may exist without being sourced from religion.
    I don't think you should respond to this suggestion without reading my 'essay', as I have explained what I think the problem may be. If you do respond without reading my previous post, you will take this response out of context.

    Quote from Coyote

    and I have better things to do than run through that essay you have posted - please write shorter posts if you wish a response! :eek:

    That's fine with me. Enjoy doing your things.

    Ok, considering Atomik's diplomatic efforts, I'm willing to tone it down a little. I wonder if Coyote will be able to as well.

    Quote from Coyote

    That assumes an actual absolutism to morality rather than a percieved one;

    No it doesn't, what it does do is assume morality can exist (as I've set before, not necessarily in a realist sense) independently of religion, and religion could potentially either merely tap into it, or blindly comment on it.

    I anticipate your response to be that I am missing the point and that it by definition can't exist independently of religion (you seem to presuppose that if it exists in this way it absolutely must be realist), and that therefore I am suggestion a nonsense idea of the sort where someone might suggest a flower growing without a seed (for the sake of argument, I'm going to assume that all flowers spring forth from seeds, so please don't respond that there is some particular species that does not). But this is the very point in question. If you do respond in this way, then you are taking it as given that the ONLY possible source of morality is religion - in which case, you have won by fiat. But the idea that morality is the ONLY possible source of morality (or a possible source at all) is the issue in question - where I am arguing that it is not (nor could be), and you are on the side that says it is (although I suspect we may find ourselves in agreement once you have provided the definition of 'religion' you are using). Thus, you cannot merely stipulate from the outset that morality is by definition derived from religion anymore than I can stipulate from the outset that by definition it is not.

    Quote from Coyote

    and fails to understand that rules for behaviour come from a perception of good and evil, and a desire to bind the world into a new shape corresponding with that perception.

    What is being perceived in this case? Or do you mean that good and evil (I'd rather refer to it as 'good and bad' if possible) are invented by persons, and henceforth followed. If this is the case, I would ask on what grounding you would say these persons decide what is good and what is bad. Do you think it so that they merely indiscriminately choose, or do you think that their decisions may be based on something else - for example happiness and suffering (utilitarianism), or maybe rationality, or something else? It seems to me (although you are free to disagree), that your only option is to say that they merely indiscriminately (that is randomly) label some things good and some bad, for if you say they choose on any other basis, then we will have a system of ethics (of the sort that ethicists use and I have previously mentioned) that works independently of religion (utilitarianism etc.)

    Quote from Coyote

    Yet addressing these is fundamentally meaningless without understanding that they are rooted in Religion - that is, a desire to bind the world anew in relation to certain percieved values of "good" and "evil"; to create a new "good" order in crusading replacement of a percieved "evil" "chaos".

    I think I might have worked out what your definition of religion is. Is it simply the making ordered out of chaos? If this is so, perhaps it would explain why you have offered no argument thus far as morality generally is based around bringing order (which leads to happiness and the relieving of suffering) out of an unordered (full of sources of suffering) existence. However in all honesty (and not at all intended to reignite your anger) I truly do not believe that this really is the definition of religion as used by almost anybody else. If it were so then religion would be nothing more than utilitarianism - as this is the striving to produce as much happiness as possible, and to prevent as much suffering as possible. Also, the social contract is based around this very theme - where in order to relieve your own suffering, you agree not to cause suffering to others on the understanding that they will do the same for you. In a sense then it is probably so that all systems of morality aim to provide the most happiness and the least suffering (actually that's probably not the case, but to make 'morality' mirror 'order out of chaos' let's assume that it is), however if we admit this then we can derive what's moral simply by finding out what would cause the most happiness and what would cause the least suffering.

    Now I know what you are going to say - religion just is doing this, and if you wish to say this then that is fine. If religion is nothing more than the practice of finding out what causes most happiness and least suffering, and then acting accordingly, then morality (at the very least in a utilitarian sense) does require religion (as religion would be the very practice of utilitarianism) - however as I said earlier, I really do not think this is the definition of religion, and I don't think most people believe it to be so. As I said before, if this were so then religion would essentially be utilitarianism - and thus the practice of morality would be fluctuating not just in different religions, but internally as the amount of happiness against the amount of suffering would vary depending on each individual case. Also, there are many rules (as I have said before, I don't think rules do exist in utilitarianism, apart from the obvious maximise happiness and minimise suffering, but let's suppose there are for now) within religions that really do not appear to maximise happiness - for example, the first of the ten commandments - you shall not have any other God before me. As there are similar rules in other religions, it seems inevitable that more suffering will ensue than if there was an 'each to their own' style rule - however we know which one is in the bible.

    Quote from Coyote

    They remain rooted in abstract binding rules though; utilitarianism, for example, being "the moral worth of an action is solely determined by its contribution to overall utility". They still remain part of a crusading mentality in service to a daemon.

    I have to agree with my friend that that is irrelevant.

    [quote=Coyote]* do you realise the vast majority on here have not studied academic philosophy? And please could you remember that when replying and not slip in polysylabic tongue-twisters usually found spouted by the intellectually insecure :)

    To my mind, as I have said, you were the one being overtly pretentious and attempting to appear profound. I would be happy to translate any of the 'polysylabic tongue-twisters' I have used for you if you would kindly mention them in your next response.

    I just had to reply to this: -

    Quote from Coyote

    That being "is something good because god says so, or does god choose it because it is good (and therefore goodness is independent of divine will)"?

    The answer, if you replace "god" with "the religion" (to make sense in the context of this discussion), is that it is both and neither. Something is "good" because a religion defines it and the religion defines it because it is "good" (that is, is harmonious with the essential spirit of that religion).

    Good start - to translate into less ambiguous wording - religion sets what's good, and it sets it that way because that's what good is.

    That's a brilliant answer - it certainly deals with the question. And hey! It also works with chicken and egg!

    What cames first, the chicken or the egg?
    The egg came first and became the chicken, but it was there because the chicken was there first.

    Far out.

    Quote from Coyote

    The "good" is such because it is an extension of the religion.

    But now we're saying that the good comes out of the religion - so it turns out religion did come first after all, not 'both and neither'... just brilliant.

    Quote from Coyote

    Note: I consider "good" to be a nonsense concept (its a transmution of the the relativist expressive concept "right" to the absolutist crusading concept "good" in the typical creation of a morality out of objectifying the subjective).

    I've never heard so many words say so little. Still just brilliant.

    Quote from Coyote

    Religion says what the world should be and what should not be, in a crusading, "reforging the world in line with an abstract intellectual plan", manner. Morality, that is, rules of right conduct, arise from religion, in order to both be possessed by, and communicate, this "abstract intellectual plan" (daemon).

    So there is another way to say what you said in the first place. Any more?

    "Religion is the transmutive springing trough, the quasi-distillation if you will of the nonsense concept 'good' with the relativist 'right' into a system of thought that both melds and stops the melding of a chaotic universe into unification of practical instrementation. As such morality is the expression of this in a distangular and entirely (in my view) incandescent fashion" - how about that?

    Quote from Emsy

    I've signed the petition, I think it's a great idea.

    However, I can think of various groups of society who would not agree with it, as teaching Little Jimmy to think for himself from a young age means he might get his own ideas on religion, and not want to be a good little Christian boy any more. Although I have to say religious tolerance is much better here than in "The President was chosen by God" USA.

    Absolutely right - My God, it feels good to hear someone talk some sense.

    Quote from Coyote

    They do what they do because they believe it is Good according to abstracted principles (the tenets of that particular fiath) - actively making the world good (by following that rule) and fighting evil (by obeying the rule as well - to not follow the rule would result in "evil").

    Ok - let's just assume that you are right, and what a religion is is the arbitrary partitioning of the world into good and bad (the tenets of whatever 'faith') - and from there, the requirement to follow what the religion has deemed good, and refrain from what the religion has deemed bad.

    It does not follow from this that therefore good and bad necessarily are derived from religion. It is possible that either religion simply sets down in writing the good and bad that already exist (in a realist, anti-realist, quasi-realist form or whatever), having come across them intuitively, or that religion merely stipulates a good and bad, which may well have nothing to do with actual ethics.

    A parrallel example of the first case would be, say, if a car mechanic's textbook explained what are the necessary tenets (to use your word) of having a good working car - here the textbook would merely be iterating the pre-existing facts about what the requirements of a good working car are, rather than being the source of these facts in itself. The facts would exist independently of the textbook (set by what it is that makes a car work in good order), and the textbook would merely put these rules in words.

    A parrallel example of the second case would be, say, if my non-mechanic friend simply gave me a list of rules he had written up on what makes a car work in good order. Here, I would have a list of rules of what makes a car work in good order, which may well bear no resemblance to the actual case of what makes a car work in good order.

    It is clear to see that in this latter case, there is no reason whatever (in fact complete reason not) to think that my friend's list is the definer of the rules that a car in good working order should meet - likewise, it does not at all follow necessarily that if religion provides us with a list labelled 'good and bad' that that list is the definer of the actual good and bad.

    In the former case, religion may well tap into some truth of good and bad, via intuition as mentioned earlier, just as the textbook would contain truth of good and bad car maintenance via observation of proper practice - however for this to be the case, the good and bad would have to preceed the religion, otherwise it would have nothing to tap into - just as what it is to provide good car maintenance must preceed any textbook which explains it.

    PS. It's probably necessary to point out that it does not follow from religion tapping into good and bad intuitively, that good and bad; that is morality, must be realist. There is a lot of evolutionary psychology that provides theory on how the conditions of social contract can become psychologically ingrained (and thus gain the sense of being intuitive) - this clearly does not at all entail moral realism.

    Quote from Coyote

    I think you will find that all of those are rooted in the wholesale binding, or at least attempted wholesale binding, of the "chaotic" world into an order.

    Well, to use less melodramatic tones - social contract is all about self preservation and the prisoner's dilemma (in an iterated game) - it explains how pure selfishness can still lead to basic 'moral' rules - and combined with evolutionary egoism, it explains how such a thing can become so ingrained that it develops into what on the face of it is altruism.

    Consequentialism is about maximising the good - and works on calculus.

    And finally utilitarianism, being a form of consequentialism, also works on calculus but takes the position that happiness is the only good, and so holds that moral action is to maximise happiness.

    Quote from Coyote

    The basic principle of morals is a set of rules as to how people should or should not act

    That certainly isn't a given - some forms of consequentialism and utilitarianism despise 'rule worship' - that is saying that something is either right or wrong in every case. For instance, in utilitarianism, it is not always right or always wrong to kill a human, but rather (in act utilitarianism), it is dictated by what degree of happiness will result should either action (or inaction) take place. From someone who claims such extensive philosophical knowledge (from your dabble into it alongside 'religious studies') I'm suprised you wouldn't have known this.

    Quote from Coyote

    contriving the world consciously rather than simply expressing semi-conscious impulses.

    Maybe if you put this into less ambiguous language I may understand more accurately. At present, I assume you mean morality is acting non-instinctively, by which I assume you mean rationally. Which I would agree with, but of course if this is the case - that morality comes out of rationality, then we've jettisoned the religious basis idea.

    Quote from Coyote

    Morality/religion is the act and method of looking at the world, saying what is Good and Evil and then actively pursuing the good, remaking the world in that image. The fundamental basis of morality is a religious act.

    Here (as you have done so many times before) you have repeated what you said first of all in different words. Essentially, you have decided that it just is the case that until religion makes it up, good and bad do not exist. And you've also decided that it just is the case that religion is the only motivating factor to do what is good rather than bad. Both of these claims are the very points under contention, and thus simply saying them again in escalatingly quasi-profound ways is of no benefit whatsoever.

    I'm particularly pleased by the way you begin with 'morality/religion' - in other words defining the two as interchangeable - which is exactly what I'm questioning.

    Quote from Coyote

    To that religiosity, yes. Each decider of Good and Evil holds their definition of it to be absolute.

    They may well hold it to be absolute, but the very fact that you have said that they all (that is more than one) hold their position to be absolute demonstrates the fact that they cannot all be right - as absolute means true universally.

    However, you have missed the point - I was attempting to appeal to your intuitions in a common test that works on the basis of the euthyphro dilemma. I don't know what religion it is you are following - but imagine if you found a part of it's special book that stated in a clear cut way that child abuse was good and necessary. Would you on that basis, instantly change your view of child abuse and see it as truly good and necessary, or would you still be reviled by child abuse and therefore be holding a moral position that existed independently of your religious special book?

    Quote from Coyote

    The active drive to remove religion is itself religious - a crusade, if you will, which is a clear image of what religion and morality is about.

    Well, I completely disagree with that. The drive to remove religion is based entirely on the idea that it does far too much harm to justify it's existence. Not only does it do harm in the obvious manifestations of terrorism etc. but also in instilling faith/blind assumption and closing of (and often condemning) critical thinking abilities in the young. The drive to remove religion is on the basis that it would provide greater happiness by removing the short term harm it does, as well as the long term damage it does to the minds of the young.

    A religious crusade on the other hand is based around doing what is written in a book on the basis that the book says to do it. In no way is it based on a reasoned process, as is the drive to abolish religion, rather it works on the assumption that whatever special book you believe in is true, your special book says different to someone elses special book, therefore their special book isn't true and they must be led to believe your special book.

    The fundamental difference then, as I feel needs to be spelt out, is that a religious crusade is one based on faith, which is short hand for a blind and entirely trusted assumption, while the drive to remove religion (at least in the good cases) is based on a reasoned basis that religion does far too much damage of many sorts to justify its existence.

    Quote from Coyote

    I have; you have not understood it. :)

    I have heard many times that you think a religion is something that sets the rules of good and bad, and that morality is, I don't know, the following of good and bad. Please do not just repeat this again in more convoluted wording. You have to tell me what reason you have for thinking this the case - not just that you think it is the case.

    Quote from Coyote

    Religion is about binding the world, bringing an alleged "good order" to a percieved "evil chaos"; this is at essence what religion is. Its reforging a "faulty/evil" world into something manufactured and refined into "goodness" by imposition (Order).

    Morality is about conforming to the definitions of good and evil set up by the religion's "world view". According to a religion you are moral if you accord to its view of good and immoral if you dont.

    First of all, I'm not entirely sure that is what a religion is. It probably is with some of them, however with the Abrahamic religions, the focus is not so much on making the world good, but rather fulfilling God's will. If you read about the massacres and rapes etc. in the Old Testament, it is difficult to read the overwhelming message as 'do good', but rather as 'do as God commands'. However, if you want to simply say what God commands is good, then for now we can leave this aside.

    The problem, again, is that you're simply declaring all this to be the case when in fact it is the very issue in question. Even, as I said in the previous paragraph, if we afford that religion is the partitioning of the world into arbitrary good and evil, where is your argument to show that it is this arbitrary distinction that morality is appealing to? You are simply taking it as given that morality applies only to the arbitrary distinctions of religion, and therefore, you have dismissed the question "can morality exist without religion" before you even begin. As I have said before, there are many systems of metaethics that do not attempt to rely on religion - utilitarianism, consequentialism, the social contract and prisoners dilemma etc. But on top of that, there are even realist systems of ethics that do not rely on religion, and perhaps best of all there is the quasi-realist system of Simon Blackburn.

    If you wish to say that morality simply must rely on religion, then you have to actually provide an argument for that being the case, not simply declare it so in various different wordings.

    PS. Just to test this idea that morality only exists on the basis of religion - consider if The Bible (or whatever religious book you're following) stated that practicing sex with young children was good and necessary - would this make it so? Or rather, do people think religion is moral because it appeals to their already existing intuitions about what is and isn't moral? If sometime in the future we abolish all religion and attempt to live rationally instead, does this mean we will no longer have morality?

    Quote from Lotus Leaf

    When you say early infancy what age are you referring to?

    It's difficult to say exactly - I make no claim to be an expert on the subject - but I would have thought certainly by about year 3 at the latest. The essential point is not to place it only at the higher end of secondary school, as critical thinking ability needs to be trained from an early age before dogmatic and irrational thinking become too hard to overcome.

    Incidentally, there have been studies into the effectiveness of teaching critical thinking early, with very positive results both in the attitudes of the children, and in their academic results - there is more on this in Stephen Law's book: 'The War for Children's Minds' (Stephen Law has also signed the petition).

    Quote from Coyote

    Morality deals with the notion of abstract concepts of right and wrong and as such is inseperable from Religion (religion being the active binding of the world by rules and the seperation of parts of the world into good and evil (with the world being evil and needing seriously modifying by human contrivance in order that it not be so)).

    The two matters are inseperable; in fact they are part and parcel of the same thing (morality, as a set of rules of behaviour, is a servant of Religion).

    Can you put that any more clearly? because right now it sounds like you're pretty much repeating what you said in the first place. In essence your first paragraph says that morality deals with right and wrong (roughly so far so good), but then you make the claim that religion is the 'seperation of parts of the world into good and evil', and therefore win by fiat as essentially, you have defined morality as religion. However this is useless as even if religion is the arbitrary partitioning of the world into good and evil - this in no way proves that it is the basis of morality - I can arbitrarilypartition the world into good and evil in my head, in any form I like, but it does not then follow that I am the creator of morality:

    "Morality deals with the notion of abstract concepts of right and wrong" and:
    "religion being the ... seperation of parts of the world into good and evil".

    The problem with this is the same thing that I said last time you made such a claim - firstly, it simply takes it as given that ethics is realist (as opposed to anti-realist or quasi-realist), and what's more, it takes it as given that realism can only function if religion exists (ignoring the many realist ethicists that form theories exempt of religion, and also ignoring of course the fact that this is the very claim in dispute). Essentially then, you have attempted to argue that morality requires religion by taking it as given that morality requires religion - and as I'm sure you've come across in your extensive philosophical training - that's what's known as begging the question.

    Quote from Coyote

    Strictly speaking, it (morality) cant (exist):)

    I have to disagree with you again here, pretty strongly. Morality may not(that's may not - there are still philosophers that argue it does) exist in a realist sense, as an independent thing that's 'out-there' non-relative to humans, however even if they're wrong (which I suspect they are), there are many many systems of morality that work on the understanding that ethics only exists as consequence of humanity. You've all been talking a lot about Bentham, so I'm suprised you don't know about utilitarianism (which was heavily improved upon by J. S. Mill), or what about the social contract (someone mentioned Hobbes earlier), and prisoner's dilemma? And if you don't like those, what about Simon Blackburn's quasi-realism?

    Surely if you have studied philosophy, you would have had something to do with ethics. Such a field at no point defers to religion but still manages to find something to talk about regardless. How is that possible if it can only exist within religious boundaries?

    Also, just as a side, have none of you studied analytical philosophy? You mention a lot of continental, but not much else. If not, have a look into that, I think it's far better - not at all airy-fairy like the continental stuff. Also far more mathematical and formal.

    ps. What kind of philosophy is there as opposed to academic philosophy? Unless you just mean studying philosophy in an academic setting.

    Well, though I disagree that three quarters of the subject are dull, I wasn't really thinking that it would be a study of the history of philosophy, as you seem to be thinking. Though I think it'd be good to include some study of different particular philosophers (just as in English, different writers in particular are studied), the main aim would be to develop the rational and critical abilities of British people in order to both rationalise society as a whole, and to provide protection for individuals against rational error or sophistry (as well as to improve academic ability).

    To make my point a little clearer, the kind of thing that I would hope to be taught in such philosophy and critical thinking studies would include teaching an understanding of fallacious arguments, that would thus be valuable in every individual's life and by extension, lead to the prosperity of society. That teaching may include, for example, showing the fallacy of authority that is often applied to the Public.

    It is often seen on television, or in general conversation, that someone supports their side of an argument by saying things like 'everybody does it', or 'everybody agrees', or more formally, something like '93% of the Muslim community is in favour of...', or 'an overwhelming majority of women believe...'. Due to the inadequacy of most people's reasoning ability, such statements can seem compelling, however they are fallacious in that they are merely appealing to an ungrounded authority.
    An appeal to authority is when one says something is right because a certain authority says so. This can be reasonable if the particular authority actually is a suitable authority on the subject, for example if I say 'you should brush your teeth twice a day because the dentist says so', this is reasonable because a dentist is the most knowledgeable person when it comes to dentistry. Conversely however, I am not reasonable if I say 'homosexual adoption shouldn't be allowed because my mother says so'. This is because my mother isn't an authority on the subject of gay adoption - she knows an inadequate amount about the consequences of such a thing, and the practicalities of it etc.
    The same goes for when the 'Public' are appealed to. The Public are not an adequate authority on most (if not all) subjects. For example, saying 'the majority of the public were actually in favour of fox hunting' is an entirely fallacious argument and offers absolutely nothing to the debate - this is because the Public do not have an adequate grasp of all the necessary ethical factors that must be considered in such a case.

    If people had been raised from early infancy to be able to identify such fallacies, and the many others that are used by Politicians, the media, friends and family, swindlers, corporations and so on and so forth, they would be far safer, would force politics into a more rational framework (rather than a mere play to the mob), would improve society, and would also be less likely to use fallacious reasoning themselves.

    It shocks and annoys me to see people make such blatant errors, especially when they are in important positions of government or the media. Most people can't tell you how morality can exist without religion, a lot of people will fall victim to the scams of pyramid schemes or the like, many people on Jury duty will be duped by sophistry rather than rational argument from lawyers. It is these kind of errors, and the countless others that exist, that I think making critical thinking and philosophy a central part of the education system would help to rectify.

    Hey guys, it's been a while since I was last on here.

    I've created a petition on the official 10 Downing Street page regarding Philosophy in the education system (details on the page), and been approved.

    Apparently, the government replies to every one of the petitions brought about in this system, so I'm looking to get as many signatures as possible.

    Please take a look and sign if you agree. Also, please tell as many people as humanely possible.

    The petition link is:

    Thanks again.


    Quote from Atomik

    I think this is the route of the problem I have with your philosophical approach. It's very rigid and out of pace with modern quantum theory. For example, you seem to be using what are effectively logic gates to arrive at your conclusions, yet quantum theory is illustrating the flaw in this model of thinking. For example, quantum uncertainty allows for particles to exist in two apparently mutually exclusive states - which is pretty far from the either/or model that your arguments generally seem to presuppose. If a particle can exist in a state of quantum indeterminacy pending the interaction of the observer, then that would seem to challenge the 'cause and effect' model of the universe.

    Indeed it does, it may even imply that to a certain degree, the universe is random. But my point isn't that everything must be one or the other, it is that one or the other are all that anything can be - and so even if the universe, or what we call free will or anything else are partially determined, partially random - it certainly seems undeniable logically (would you disagree?) that things are either caused or uncaused. Perhaps on certain occasions particles move because of a causal chain behind them, perhaps on other occasions particles move completely randomly (as quantum physics supposes), but in either case, the action is either caused or uncaused - determined or random (undetermined).

    I don't think I explained myself very well in the part you quoted. It's not a case of a scale with determined at one end and random at the other - it doesn't make sense to say an action is half determined and half random - though there may be parts of the action that are of one or the other, these parts will never be a combined grey area.

    Perhaps a simpler way to put it is that an action is either caused or uncaused - that is an action is caused or not-caused, or to formalise it, an action is P or Not-P. If an action is caused (P), then it is determined (by its cause), if it is uncaused (Not-P) then there is nothing to define what it'll be - it is random.

    It's quite clear that there is no alternative to P and Not-P - you can't have a combination of the two, and there is no third alternative (logically).

    Thus, as free will is such a case, there is no alternative to determined or random. This is not to say that we haven't discovered an alternative, it is to say that there isn't one by definition (as there isn't an alternative to P and Not-P by definition).

    Quote from PeacePiper

    Of course you may be right, but you haven't proved that there can't be another option - only that there aren't any obvious answers. This to me leaves the subject open to other possible ideas - chi/life/tree of life/temporal streams/karma/greater consciousness/"G*d" (all these things represent the same sort of thing to me) - this/these things may exist and until you can prove otherwise (or maybe just suggest logically) then my point still stands :p :harhar: although, I won't be bothered if you don't humour such a spiritual viewpoint - it's all probable/possible to me and I can't prove it does exist, just seems the most rational way to explain phenomena related to life (including free-will)

    The point is though that it does prove there isn't another option as they are two logical poles. It's like saying there may be another option other than P and Not-P.

    Even if what we know as free-will came out of Chi, or Karma or one of the other things you mentioned, it'd still face the same logical conclusion, which is the one set out at the top.

    1. Open Your Eyes - Nature of happiness (particularly Mill's utilitarianism)
    2. Pi
    3. Star Wars (mainly the Jedi) - There're a number of Buddhism related references, but perhaps you're right that that doesn't qualify it. In the third film there are also references to relativism.
    4. Princess Mononoke - Relativism, and virtue ethics between the three distinct groups - the natural, the army, and that woman's iron works.
    5. 28 Days Later - Human nature, and the philosophy of psychology (although again, maybe you're right).
    6. Donnie Darko
    7. Happiness - Subjectivism and virtue ethics, as well as the nature of happiness.
    8. Minority Report - Determinism
    9. Bicentennial Man - The nature of self and sentience
    10. Rashomon - Subjectivism

    Plenty mate. I don't think you've done The Matrix justice, it deals with far more than just reality.

    To name but a few:

    1. Open Your Eyes
    2. Pi
    3. Star Wars (mainly the Jedi)
    4. Princess Mononoke
    5. 28 Days Later
    6. Donnie Darko
    7. Happiness
    8. Minority Report
    9. Bicentennial Man
    10. Rashomon

    Quote from sixty_monroes

    I do agree with you. I think its impossible for people nowadays to really not be aware that animals suffer terribly in many cases, but like most of these people I've refrained from delving too deep into this and visiting PETA website etc, for fear of what I might see! I've been the classic meat eater who sees a cute farm animal in the field and then tries to forget that that's what I'll be eating later.

    But I can't be such a hypocrite anymore, so today's gonna be my first day of going veggie. I'm going to make myself take a long hard look at the information which I've always known was available so I'm put off for life. I'm looking forward to not feeling guilty anymore and choosing a more ethical lifestyle! :)

    I do know what you mean. Despite all the rational arguments etc. the thing that eventually turned me vegetarian was seeing a piglet locked up alone in Greece (where they treat animals even worse than we do here). It's never easy to choose the ethical choice over the one that'll satisfy our immediate urges most - but it's something we must do nonetheless, and it is commendable that you are doing so now.

    So well done.

    Quote from Milo

    This is stuck on the back bumper of our van, but I'm worried now that folks will think I'm of the Christian persuasion when all I wanted to do was to tease. How do you think it'll be interpreted?

    Lol, I use that too - seems pretty clear to me.

    The feet make it pretty obvious that you're an evolutionist (which means you can't be a christian since it's contrary to the claims in genesis), not to mention the big DARWIN writing.

    Keep it on there mate, I love it.

    Quote from Atomik

    That's my whole point though. The scientific theory for the origin of life is also unproven and the evidence flimsy at best.

    I can't contribute a lot to this as I don't know much about evolutionary theory (that's the debate over how evolution occured, not whether or not it did).

    Because I don't know much, I'm uncertain whether or not you're right about the lack of evidence for the origins of life, however there is a lot of evidence for development there after. Evolution from period to period is very well supported, and fits in very nicely in areas where any alternative would seemingly have seen it blundering.

    The same is true for the big bang, we have an enormous amount of evidence for that, and it explains much of science that would be an absolute mystery should the big bang have not occured, yet it seems that at the point of the big bang, our current understanding of physics make the event mathematically unsound.

    So, despite the lack of supporting evidence when it comes to origins, the evidence there after has to count for something - besides, I'm not so sure that evolutionary scientists do claim that life simply emerged uncaused. Surely, one of the biggest debates within the scientific community is what it was that caused the development. What environmental changes led to acceptable conditions for it to develop.

    But like I said, I don't know much about this, and I may be mistaken.

    You're right to consider this a moral issue, and, like truth, morality is universal and categorical. If it were not, then the very meaning of the word would be lost. Truth can't vary otherwise it means nothing to say something is true, and the same goes for morality.

    Now having said that, vegetarianism and animal equality are the more rational positions to hold (I've written about this in detail on the 'Vegetarian Ethics' thread. Considering this, we're under as much moral obligation to hold to this as we are to refrain from murder of human animals, or theft.

    This gives the issue the importance it deserves. When people talk about it being a lifestyle choice they really detract from the importance of the case at hand. A lifestyle choice is something like living in a commune - there is nothing ethically obligating you to live this way, nor vice versa - and no one will be harmed whether you live this way or not (aside from perhaps yourself - which is not an area of morality). Vegetarianism and animal rights on the other hand are very different areas. There is an ethical obligation to one option (namely being vegetarian and supporting animal equality), and someone (many millions in fact) will suffer as a consequence of people choosing to disregard the ethical decision.

    When we consider being vegetarian in this light, we see it is not an unimportant consideration, but an imperative need which must be fulfilled as soon as possible. Much like slavery in days gone by, the longer we refrain from living ethically, the more will suffer every single day.

    Once we see the importance of this issue, it takes the coldest of hearts not to act upon it.

    That could well be true, but since the New Testament is almost the only source we have with regards to Jesus' alleged actions - we can't just pick out the bits we like and accuse the Jews of adding all the rubbish.

    In any case, whether or not Jesus was as bad as the religion his followers spawned - christianity (and all dogmatic religions) need to be overcome if people are ever going to focus on rationality and philosophy again.

    Quote from Elfriend

    When we talk about the earth being destroyed arn't we really talking about the environment we live in being destroyed? The earth will always be there, maybe not in the form we know but despite what we can throw at it, it will keep on going ( and when it does fail it won't be because of us). I don't believe we have the power to completly eradicate life on earth.
    So when people say they don't care about sustaining their planet they're really saying they don't care about people or the future of the human race (all obvious i know).
    So that granted, I think the only way to go is to allow the system to crash and be ready to look after ourselves ('cos most people won't have a clue how to live in the "real" world).
    Just allow for evolution then.

    I couldn't agree more. Humanity can't destroy the earth, it's only through the self importance it puts in itself that such a notion arises.

    Not that we shouldn't make an effort to minimise environmental damage, for the sake of those who'll suffer as a result of our blunders and self-righteousness, but essentially - humanity is not the master of the planet, and it does not have the capacity to overcome it (nor will it ever).

    You really should read 'Straw Dogs' by John Gray. He sets out roughly your thinking in a very frank manner, with reference to many mistakes of philosophers and other groups.

    Well this is correct, but does this really lead to the agnostic position?
    I don't think you're correct that agnosticism is simply acknowledging you can't be certain, as anyone with an ounce of rationality will be able to see that. The only people who would say there was no such possibility of error would be under the false impression that their reliable senses were infallible - something that is not true.
    So the knowledge of the possibility of error belongs to all schools of thought.

    Rather, I think the agnostic is someone that acknowledges this possibility of errors and thus concludes that they shouldn't lean towards either view. Unlike a sceptic, they don't claim that they have no reason to believe anything, rather, they claim that since they can't conclusively prove any position false - all are equal.

    This is where the error comes in. It may seem to make sense to some to say that since atheists can't outright prove god doesn't exist (although they have far more evidence on their side), and since theists can't prove god does exist - the best position to take is that either view could be right and we shouldn't lean towards either.
    However, if we apply this thinking then we'll have to admit equal weight to the view that invisible fairies exist and the view that they don't, as well as the view that if you jump out of a plane, gravity will drag you down, and the view that it won't. Since it's possible for any of these positions to be true, by an agnostic's thinking we need to accept all of them as equal possibilities, yet surely they're not equal. All are possible, but only one option in each of the pairs is the rational position to hold.

    Therefore, reliabalism seems to be the strongest position to me. All positions can see the lack of certainty - but it's a mistake to think this margin of error leads to equality as agnostics assert.