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Heroes Community > Other Side of the Monitor > Thread: Philosophy
Thread: Philosophy This thread is 2 pages long: 1 2 · NEXT»
Svarog
Svarog


Honorable
Supreme Hero
statue-loving necrophiliac
posted July 17, 2004 01:20 AM

Philosophy

I don't know if there's been a thread like this. Well, maybe random stuff scattered around, when some of the members' minds are aroused by more thought than the usual "go home, turn tv on"; but nothing to the extent of a seperate thread dedicated to philosophy.

It's not even a subject in school these days, and it's popularity is going down, but maybe some of you do know something and I would be happy to share what we all think about issues such as life, its purpose and meaning.

What are your favourite philosophers? What school of philosophy would you belong into? What about your stance on epistemology? Or pick any particular issue and lets talk about that.

My philosophy is built basically from my own personal experience, but I do have some basic knowledge about the science of philosophy. My beliefs would match Marx and Sartre the most. I also love David Hume very much. And Freud.

Cant write any longer at the moment. But will add much more later when I have more time.

What about you?
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viking
viking


Known Hero
Rock'n'Roll
posted July 17, 2004 01:42 AM

My favourite philosopher is Socrates, I think that its because I know him better than the others, and he was an ancient Greek (thats one reason for sure). I sometimes get into the subject and set some really good philosophical questions, this is usually when I am reading about history or physics, more often when its history. To answer the question "why are we here" in my opinion in two ways:

Scientific way
Well it was an accident life formed someplace and it accidently fell on Earth, being transported on a comet. So it was all an accident, we could have appeared on Mars as well (or maybe not because there is no good conditions for life).

Religious way
God, the almighty one, was feeling lonely and tried to make the world live. He created Earth and the Heavens, then the plant and animals, and finally us, humans.

This is just an opinion.

Now what I think:

I think that life is a gift given to us not from God, not from any substances, but that the universe couldn't stand being lonely. Thats why mother nature created us, to be unique.

Now how about this:

What if everything else was alive and we didn't know, they might not have to move, but they can still be alive. I am reffering to all the objects we see around us that we think arent alive.

These and many others are all philosophical questions, if they are answered and the answer is confirmed and proved, then they would not be philosophical questions anymore.

That is my opinion.
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bjorn190
bjorn190


Responsible
Supreme Hero
Jebus maker
posted July 17, 2004 02:07 AM
Edited By: bjorn190 on 17 Jul 2004

Changed my mind

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Svarog
Svarog


Honorable
Supreme Hero
statue-loving necrophiliac
posted July 17, 2004 06:08 AM

bjorn, I might be the only one who read your entire post. In the future (and that goes for all of you guys) don't post articles written by others please. Just say what you have to say. It would be easier (and faster and more interesting) for all of us to read and actually understand.

As for Pataphysics, I can see bits and pieces there from Hume's philosophy, and the ethics part is most closely related to existentialism. I havent heard before of pataphysics or the guy who wrote it, so it sounds to me like some of the many new instant new-age philosphers. Of course, I might be wrong, but I think that no serious philosopher would claim complete originality of his ideas (esp, cos this one was full of old school stuff) and would not even mention one of the names of his predesecors.
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Svarog
Svarog


Honorable
Supreme Hero
statue-loving necrophiliac
posted July 19, 2004 07:08 AM bonus applied.

My philosophy

Since everybody's a bit shy to expose their thoughts on the table, I figured I'm gonna have to do it first and give you guys some material to work with.

First of all, as you might or might not know, I am atheist. I don't belive in the existance of God or any spiritual force. I think that everything that exists is made of some kind of matter and is the result of interacting particles of some kind. Therefore, I'm philosophical materialist. Thoughts, ideas, abstract cencepts don't exist independantly, but are the result of the particles engaging in biochemical reactions with each other. In this respect, I would mention Democrit, as one guy who I have respect for, since he was a hard-core materialist even then, in the time of Ancient Greece when people had no means to know about molecules, or how substance is transformed; and his theories proved pretty much correct a long time after his death (just in the 19th century), which requires a lot of guts and wits to come up with in the first place. Meaning I would disagree with the idealists, like Socrates or Plato, and even with the dualists for that matter.

The next big dilemma is about the episthemology. I consider that all knowledge is gained through experience, which is acquired through the senses and adapted to the human mind according to the way it functions. However, I belive you cannot possess any knowledge that would be self-created, i.e. through reason. Therefore, all knowledge is subjective, but it's no big deal, since it still serves its purpose. There cannot be an objective standard for anything. We start out as tabula rasa and act in the way as we are taught, certainly relying on our natural predispositions also. Here again, Hume completely corresponds with what I think.

There's an interesting line of continuity in my philosophy, which I only discovered after I formed my beliefs. In a way all the philosophers I respect are considered successors to one another and compose a red thread which follows a common way of thinking, developing their ideas from the point where their predecessor stopped.
Hegel, though rationalist in many ways, spoke of the dialectic method, that actually was the basis for the theories of Marx. Marx claimed that the material interest is what drives and dictates society, and the core that stands behind its every element. Even more, it progresses as the two opposing groups with material interest (the oppressors and the oppressed) struggle for their causes(actually for $$$). Eventually, the oppressed classes should realize their position and overthrow their oppressors and establish a classless society (ah, not any time near I guess. Damn capitalists!). The dialectical opposites suddenly end, which kind a confuses me. Any ideas how to resolve this?
As for Freud, it would be probably be best if he stays in the science area, but I like mentioning him from time to time, since he's like a confirmation for my strong empiricism.

And ethics, which is maybe the most practical part of philosophy and most important for everyday life. My ethical thinking is mostly existentialist. Take responsibility for your choices, dive into your individual being and build a strong relationship with it. I also support self-indulgence and complete freedom. But (big BUT), that doesn't mean that we should be selfish bastards that have no compassion for the needs of the others. Therefore, a guy named Jean Paul Sartre invented a thing called socialist existentialism, which is my ultimate "thing" for now. A self-serving ego, but with an empathetic face, and feeling for the need of the others and comittment to the society's well-being. Education is the key here, and if all people are considerate about the society they live in, a functional socialist society is very likely to happen. The criterion - utalitarianism, the biggest amount of heppiness for the biggest amount of people.
I don't believe in code ethics, and I think choices people make should be always practical and without prejudices or emotional limitations imposed by socialization. This is also in accordance with my stance of objectivity, more precisely the lack of it. So, all kinds of behavior are allowed as long as they don't breach into other people's rights.

Hmmm, did I missed anything? Ahhh, methaphysics. Frankly, I don't know nor do I care. We exist and that's enough for me. In the short time I have at disposal I wanna live to the fullest. Laugh, jump, dance, have sex, get drunk, travel, and all the things that make life cool. Peace.
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draco
draco


Promising
Famous Hero
posted July 21, 2004 08:35 PM

eventually if you go far back enough, something came from nothing, and the only way I can comprehend this as being something greater then us (GOD) creating us (and by us, i mean the universe, he may not even know of our existance)

(although i guess if you go even farther back then that something would have had to make GOD)

and now ive gone crosseyed

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Frick
Frick


Known Hero
and eternal n00b.
posted July 25, 2004 06:46 PM

I dislike almost every philosopher on the planet. At least the "first" ones. Why? Because they all rely on their own minds too much. Sure, some of them had interesting ideas (especially the nature-guys), but mostly I consider them to be selfish persons that have waayyy to much time to waste on stupid questions about things that are quite clear. Like the origin and the ways of the universe.

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Bodhisattva
Bodhisattva

Tavern Dweller
posted July 25, 2004 10:52 PM

books

one of my favorite writers is Sartre too. i read some Nietzsche and some philosophers from my country. now i'm readind "the history of religion and religious concepts" by Mircea Eliade... verry interesting!
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Svarog
Svarog


Honorable
Supreme Hero
statue-loving necrophiliac
posted July 26, 2004 08:22 AM

Quote:
I dislike almost every philosopher on the planet.[Oh, do you know anyone?] At least the "first" ones. Why? Because they all rely on their own minds too much. Sure, some of them had interesting ideas (especially the nature-guys[who are these, please?]), but mostly I consider them to be selfish persons that have waayyy to much time to waste on stupid questions about things that are quite clear. Like the origin and the ways of the universe.[i hope this is sarcasam, in which case you're throwing away one of man's most important traits - to think for the things he doesnt know]

If you just said that you didnt like philosphy and leave the thread, I wouldnt mind. BUt since you go as far as giving a reason for that (stupid one imho), I just have to comment.
Thats the type of comment, only uninfomed people could give.
Please, the rest of you, if you intend, dont post something like this. I'm still waiting for the first serious post here.
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Frick
Frick


Known Hero
and eternal n00b.
posted July 26, 2004 09:29 PM
Edited By: Frick on 26 Jul 2004

EDIT: I deleted this entire post, and now I'm writing a new one. But first you should know that I'm not that good in english, so I have troubles with names on different things. Forgive me. With nature-guys I meant Pythagoras (or whatever you call him in english, and some say he was not an philosopher, but I think he was) and the one with the body fluids and those guys. I wrote nature-guys, because in swedish their names is nature-philosophers, so I beacme unsecure and wrote nature-guys. Anyway:

I often get accused for not like philosophy. I even once got accused for lack of imagination! Both are wrong. Philosophy is very good because it’s a search for knowledge and wisdom (as it comes from the Greece word philos which means knowledge (right?) and so on). A quest to find answers to things that has no answer. This is where dialogues enter. That’s how great ideas and great inventions (how did they make up the wheel, really?) are brought up. Socrates once said that dialogues lead to uncovering of knowledge (I think he said that, but I’m not sure). That’s true. Two, or more, people sit and talk about everything and exchange ideas and thoughts. That’s also a great way to grow as a person. Of course, you also need study. Lot's of study. But it's easier to see things from different perpectives when you talk about them with others. It's easier to come to good conclusions. And that’s philosophy, at least in my own private world: A quest for knowledge and understanding. But the thing is, wisdom does exist (as in … at least not physically), all we need to do is to find it and bring it into our lives. That’s what true wisdom is. Knowledge about important things, and when we embrace it, there’s the wisdom. This means we shouldn’t make up wisdom for ourselves. Everyone can embrace true wisdom, and it’s still the same.

Now, what I don’t like is the theories most philosophers come up with. Why? Because often I totally disagree with them. Like when Karl Marx compared religion and drugs. Well, I just say what the MAD Magazine once said: “He never saw TV!” Something like that it was. So let’s make this very clear: I’m religious, I believe in God, I try to live by the Bible. I try to follow morale, ethics and everything as they are in the Bible. That’s why I dislike most philosophers: They deny God. They rely on their own wisdom (I wrote above that wisdom is a thing to be found, not be made up). They make up their own rules of living. That’s so wrong in my eyes.

So, except for God and the Bible, what do I believe? Sometimes I agree with ol’ Svarog here: Thoughts and that stuff are chemical reactions, and these reactions also in some ways decide how and what we are. And you’re right, Democrit was quite cool. He was suprisingly correct. And you do have some points about ethics. You should build up yourself and know yourself and all that, but as I believe in the Bible, I think concern about other people is more important. But of course, that does depend on the situation. I also agree with the thing about the society’s well-being. That’s important, and it’s kind of a Utopia. Impossible to reach without God’s help.

Ethic codes… We do should react with other people without prejudices, but this doesn’t mean we should allow everything. As an example: Gay people. I have nothing against them. I even have some great friends that are gays. But still I think their way of life is wrong. Simple. I don’t dislike a person that does not do what I believe in, but I think it’s wrong. Again, here is the Bible..

And for the metaphysic… We live to serve God. That’s the way it is. Not by fear or greed (you can make a lot of money by fooling people), but for love towards God. Simple. This doesn't mean that we'll live boring lifes without adventures, music, dancing and those things. I'd say I appreciete these things even more since I found out that I actually am religios! Now I know there is an allmighty God that loves me and want me to feel good. I try to, by loving him and try to do what he want me to do = the Bible.

That's it. Peace.

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Svarog
Svarog


Honorable
Supreme Hero
statue-loving necrophiliac
posted July 27, 2004 07:41 AM

Thanks, Frick. That was a very reasonable and compact post you made. Although I dont share your values, I will just point out to some references.
Quote:
Philosophy is very good because it’s a search for knowledge and wisdom (as it comes from the Greece word philos which means knowledge (right?) and so on).

"Philosophy" comes from philos meaning "to love/like/want" (or one of those) and sophia meaning wisdom, so basically what it means is love for wisdom.
Quote:
That’s why I dislike most philosophers: They deny God.

Actually there were hardly any philosophers prior to the Enlightenment that denied God. Even today, there are many defending the existance of a supernatural being. Although not all of them in the Christian interpretation of the word.

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Khaelo
Khaelo


Honorable
Supreme Hero
Underwater
posted August 02, 2004 04:04 AM

by Svarog's request

Testing the limits of how long a post can be on Heroes Community...

This is my final exam paper from Political Philosophy class.  It's an academic paper; be warned!  It uses utilitarianism to answer the question, "In a democratic society, can a majority be wrong and a minority right?"  Utilitarianism, in its most basic form, posits that the best policy is the one that causes the greatest happiness.  However, I found a way to make modified utilitarian theory allow for a majority to be wrong.  The issue is topless women (do I have your attention now? ).  Copyright 2004 by me.  Don't plagerize, etc.  

~~~

One of the most perplexing questions facing political philosophers of democratic theory is the status of majority rule.  It seems to be the most efficient way of running society, but is it possible for this method to go astray?  Is it possible for a minority to be right and the majority in error?  A simple utilitarian argument, based on the principle of greatest happiness, seem to deny this possibility.  The majority knows what it wants, and therefore pleasing the majority is always the correct course of action.  However, if one takes into consideration the principles of external and internal preferences, as articulated by Ronald Dworkin in Do We Have a Right to Pornography and Rae Langton in Whose Right? Ronald Dworkin, Women, and Pornographers, one discovers that things may not be so simple.

For example, consider Imbetal, a democratically run city-state in the fantasy world of Phym.  The dominant cultural group is the Jalecta, but a minority population of Esti tribespeople also lives in the city.  The Est are permanent residents and voting citizens, but they have brought their own cultural norms to Imbetal, including a looser dress code.  Scandalized Jalecti legislators propose a law forbidding the exposure of female breasts in public.  The Esti population objects to the law; the Jalecti population supports it.  A simple democratic vote will result in the implementation of the law.  Is it possible for this result to be wrong?

I will use Dworkin’s formula for evaluating an argument, as quoted by Langton (102), to explore this situation.  The first step is to construct a good utilitarian argument.  In the case under question, the most straight forward argument is that in favor of the new law.  A majority of the citizen body expresses unhappiness with bared breasts, and a minority expresses unhappiness with clothing restrictions.  Therefore, enforcing clothing restrictions and prohibiting bared breasts will make more people happy than doing the reverse.  To promote the most happiness possible, the law should pass.

Now, however, I look at the second step of Dworkin’s process:  “[L]ook at the individuals who appear to suffer as a result of the policy, and ask whether the policy violates the rights of those individuals” (Langton 102).  The losers of this policy are the Esti tribespeople, particularly the women.  How so?  Here, one turns to John Stuart Mill, who notes in On Liberty that “Where, not the person’s own character, but the traditions and customs of other people are the rule of conduct, there is wanting one of the principal ingredients of human happiness” (124).  Humans cannot be happy, and therefore suffer, when they are forced to do things against their own will.  The proposal of the indecent exposure law in the first place suggests that when left to their own will, many of the Esti women prefer not to cover their breasts.  As well as being framed within Mill’s discussion of individual autonomy, this preference also fits into Will Kymlicka’s argument of the rights assigned minority cultures (Will Kymlicka, Multicultural Citizenship, pp.83-84) .  Kymlicka argues that meaningful choices are based on one’s understanding of values, which is in turn based upon one’s culture.  This makes cultural identity an important component of meaningful individual choice.  Whether or not one follows Kymlika’s arguments further, it is apparent that culture and choice are linked.  To deny an element of culture, such as native dress codes, is therefore to take a degree of meaningful choice away from the culture’s inhabitants.  Again, one may safely assume that Esti dress codes, unlike those of the Jalecta, permit the female breast to be left bare, and that prohibiting this feature would artificially restrict options available to the native costume in general.  From these two arguments, one may conclude that the indecent exposure law causes suffering to Esti women by robbing them of both their individual autonomy, and their freedom to make choices within their culture.

This brings me to the third, and perhaps most pivotal, step in the process: examining preferences.  Some types of preferences trump others.  This ordering of preferences – external and internal – prevents the egalitarian neutrality of utilitarian theory from collapsing in on itself via the intrusion of non-egalitarian desires (Dworkin 86-89).  This principle must temper the simple utilitarian argument for greatest happiness, because utilitarianism bases itself upon equality of all individual voices.  Inequality, even inequality by majority desire, undermines the foundations of the utilitarian system.  Therefore, a sophisticated utilitarian argument must take into account the various types of preferences which manifest themselves in public discourse and discard those which undercut the egalitarian basis (86-89 again).  Internal preferences are those which an individual carries for themselves.  External preferences, on the other hand, are desires imposed upon others.  In particular, Dworkin specifies external preferences as those which assume a non-egalitarian view of others’ value as people, and those which assume a non-neutral view of others’ morality in practice (86).  These are the kind of desires which individual rights must trump, regardless of numbers, because these are the kind of desires which undermine the utilitarian egalitarian theory.
 
So, what preferences are in play in the scenario detailed above?  One might claim that both positions support themselves on internal preferences.  The Est wish to wear minimal clothing; the Jalecta wish to avoid seeing female breasts while going about everyday business.  However, as Dworkin points out (Langton 96), the distinction between preference types is often elusive.  Therefore, one should re-examine each position as if it were based upon external preferences.  The Esti position does not lend itself to external preferences very well.  Particularly given that the dress code is an import from a region where such practices were tolerated without complaint, it seems unlikely that the Est dress as they do for the purpose of imposing the sight of breasts upon helpless Jalecti neighbors.  Even if one presumes an attitude amongst the Est that covering the breasts is immoral, they are not in a position to actually inflict this desire upon others.  In that case, a preference which may be external in nature is internal in practice due to realistic constraints.  The Jalecta, however, face no such constraints.  Their desire that all people should cover their breasts fits very easily into a moralistic model in which one particular “conception of the good life” is valued over another (Langton 95).  This qualifies as an external preference.  Furthermore, morals are not only a plausible justification for the new law but a likely one (see below).
The final phase of this examination is to “conclude that the individuals concerned do have rights that are trumps against the policy in question” (Langton 102).  The pivotal terms to consider here are the rights of the Esti women to individual autonomy and cultural choice, as noted in the second step, and the opposing preferences of the Jalecta, as noted in the third step.  Under the new law, the minority Est will suffer infringements upon personal preferences and the circumscription of their rights.  This balances with the majority Jalecti, who will enjoy the fulfillment of preferences which may be internal but which are likely to have an external component imposed upon the Est.  The conclusion?  The Est’s rights trump the Jalecta’s policy.  In this case, therefore, the minority will be correct in defiance of the majority’s will.

In order to truly test this conclusion, one may turn the entire argument around and see if it works in reverse.  The first step is already complete; I have a utilitarian argument in favor of permitting bared breasts.  The second step examines who suffers under this policy.  This, it appears, would be the Jalecta, as they cannot now avoid exposed breasts.  The policy causes them harm in the form of distress.  With regard to insult as harm, however,  Dworkin notes, “Everything depends…upon whether the feeling of insult is produced by some more objective feature that would disqualify the policy even if the insult were not felt” (quoted by Langton 103).  Insult alone is not sufficient grounds to discontinue a policy.  If the factor of insult is set aside, what remains to implicate the lenient policy as improper?  Langton finds several such factors in her issue of pornography, but the bare breast policy under consideration here seems to lack them.  Freedom of clothing, or lack thereof, does not qualify as propaganda nor does it systematically devalue particular groups.  The Jalecta retain all the rights they have now regarding their own freedom and choices.  If one removes their insult from the table, the restrictive policy is left with little justification at all.

Without an object apart from itself, the Jalecti distress “must be based on a misperception” (Langton 103), and therefore continuing the argument into a discussion of preferences becomes rather moot.  Even if the Est do adopt loose dress codes for the sole purpose of irritating the heck out of their neighbors, and this is construed as an external preference, the rebutting Jalecti internal preference is quite weak.  Based on little other than moralistic concerns, it cannot have very much legitimate force upon the behavior of others.  Therefore, the right of the Jalecta to avoid the sight of breasts may not be considered a fatal blow to the lenient policy.
From these arguments, it appears that the answer to the original question is the reverse of what may be expected of utilitarian theory.  A majority can indeed be wrong and a minority right, even if this situation is determined by fair democratic process.

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 Cleverly
disguised as a responsible adult

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Svarog
Svarog


Honorable
Supreme Hero
statue-loving necrophiliac
posted August 05, 2004 04:29 AM

Hi Khaelo! Sorry for the delay in posting my reply. I told you I'd like to debate utilitarianism with you and I will. By the way, thanks for the extremely insightful article.
First of all, let me tell you that I'm impressed by the way you managed to disapprove utilitarianism at first, and then logically reaffirm its validity with the more insightful interpretation. I'm in favor of it pretty much, and I've been thinking about the inconsistency in utilitarian practice; but I didnt view it in terms of scientific standards and principles that apply when it comes to unclear interpretation.

Yes, utilitarianism is not just a simple majority rule, as it might appear to people unfamiliar with it. Specifically, because it deals with the issue of greatest happiness, which is not always (though in most cases - yes) achieved by complying with the majority. And what I find extremely difficult to determine, is just that - the amount of happiness. How can you measure happiness? In my opinion you can't. And although I find some of the standards you (or some other guy) set for that rather intriguing, I'd like to point out the several "holes" that they might have in certain cases.

The first happiness evaluation method was about the internal/external preferences. You seem to claim that internal preference trumps the external one. I don't think that's always the case.
Let's take a look at this example: You have a group of few wackoes that have a strong internal drive to go around and kill people, and on the other side, you have the majority who normally are not quite happy about that. (It is my understanding that when discussing code principles, all cases must be taken into account, including the most extreme ones; so excuse me for my a bit insane examples. Also, one must think with absolute objectivity; so no preconceived ideas about the immorality of killing are allowed; even more, the wackoes' desires are just as legitimate as those of a group of kids wanting to eat ice-cream. ) Now, back to the example: Is it not infringement on the wackoes deep internal killing urge, the imposing of a law that very naturally makes murder a crime? On the other hand, it is in theory an external preference for the majority, since they want to impose that on the wackoes. So, in my reasoning, it would be that not always an internal preference should trump an external one.

However, I'm glad that you mentioned the third trial for the argument, and that is the objective feature, other than solely the insult, that disqualifies the policy, i.e. is harmful to one of the groups. And in this case, there's clearly one, and that is the extermination of life, which by itself (the insult factor aside) is enough to encourage the implementation of such a law.
In the end, we have to wage two different, but still legitimate arguments: the one about the internal preference on the side of the wackoes, and the one about life itself on the side of the majority normal people. And although it's apparent to us, who's the side that would prevail, there is no objective standard to make that decision. And that's what really frustrates me (but also supports my practicality and indifference towards rationalism ).

If you think that this case was apparent and extreme, then replace the group of murdering wackoes, with a group of people who do boring stuff in public (say, like weaving ), and the majority finds them annoying (not insulted, but annoyed). Who's to be right this time? Oops, guess the harm done is miniscule compared to the internal preference, no? Again, subjective reasoning!

And a third example, that I personally have troubles qualifying, is about a minority group (say, a tribe) that enjoys cursing others. It's in their centuries long culture to do so. Are they to be prevented from doing this? But isn't the harm done to the majority in this case just "an insult and nothing more", which would term it as invalid? So no harm - no law. So, am I concluding that under utilitarianism, we should allow everybody to curse and swear as much as they want?! This doesn't seem right. (or does it?) I might have missed a spot in this last analysis though. I'm open for suggestions.

In few words, as much as it would be so cool to let utilitarian guide us, I think ultimately it's subjective too. What matters to me is the principle of right. (Right being what is best for all the people, rather than the hedonistic or the even worse religious view).
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Wiseman
Wiseman


Known Hero
posted August 05, 2004 09:33 PM

"Also, one must think with absolute objectivity; so no preconceived ideas about the immorality of killing are allowed"

Then why are you calling them wackoes?

Wouldn`t the preferance of ordinary people about non-killing
be (at least partly) internal because they are afraid for their own safety.

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Truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.

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Svarog
Svarog


Honorable
Supreme Hero
statue-loving necrophiliac
posted August 06, 2004 12:21 AM

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Then why are you calling them wackoes?

For fun?! (and btw, my infinite objectivity doesn't say "wackoe" is a negative word )

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Wouldn`t the preferance of ordinary people about non-killing be (at least partly) internal because they are afraid for their own safety.

I would term it as the harm, not internal preference, since internal preference would be expected to arise in a system where the individual is completely independent of other groups (where the murdering wackoes wouldnt exist). This is not the case.
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Khaelo
Khaelo


Honorable
Supreme Hero
Underwater
posted August 07, 2004 04:58 AM

for the record...

My background in philosophy is quite weak, as I've already warned you.  The very basics of utilitarianism are understandable, but I didn't complete the readings to get all the nuances.  This paper represents about all I know about utilitarianism.  So, if you (Svarog) still want to debate me, be prepared to win by a landslide.  

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And what I find extremely difficult to determine, is just that - the amount of happiness. How can you measure happiness? In my opinion you can't.

In my opinion, this is the "fuzziness" that allows utilitarianism to be such a flexible theory.  People on either side of various debates, like the pornography one, can measure happiness in all sorts of ways, can speculate on what causes more happiness, and so on.  I don't know if that's a good thing for practical policy, but it allows the philosophers to set common rules for their discussions.

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You seem to claim that internal preference trumps the external one. I don't think that's always the case.

Richard Dworkin (one of my sources for the paper) had reasons for why internal preferences matter and external ones should not.  He argues that utilitarian theory must be egalitarian -- "utilitarianism bases itself upon equality of all individual voices" (it's been a while since I read the article ).  If you give equal credit to external preferences, they can ruin the neutrality.  The examples he used were A) People claiming Suzy Wonderful should have more votes than everyone else and B) Nazis claiming that certain races should have fewer votes than everyone else.  In both cases, fulfilling the preferences will make some voices more influential than others.  Never mind morality qualms; utilitarian theory simply cannot stand for inequality of voices.  Everybody has to speak for their own internal preferences, and external preferences need to be left out.

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The example: Is it not infringement on the wackoes deep internal killing urge, the imposing of a law that very naturally makes murder a crime? On the other hand, it is in theory an external preference for the majority, since they want to impose that on the wackoes.

No.  In this case, one could argue that the majority's desire is an internal preference not to be killed or to be deprived of loved ones.  That renders your example into two competing internal preferences.  Even without resorting to objective harm, the non-wackoes have the advantage (assuming they're the majority).  Unless your public weavers are blocking sidewalks or whatnot, thereby thwarting others' internal preferences to get to X location, their opponents have far less ground for a competing internal preference.

In a broader sense, though, you're right.  Utilitarianism has subjective soft spots.  After all, the two articles I used as main sources for my paper were arguing opposite sides of the pornography debate.  My brother got an even trickier problem in his class, in which he had to discuss a (hypothetical) tribe that killed its members before the age of 40 so that their spirits would be strong enough to battle demons in the afterlife.  How do you deal with something like that???
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Svarog
Svarog


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Supreme Hero
statue-loving necrophiliac
posted August 10, 2004 03:30 AM

Quote:
1. What is defined as: "Philosophy Sex" ?
2. Is that what you guys are doing? Are you doing it intellectually?

?! Are we having sex intellectually ?!
Well, are we, Khaelo? lol
Oh, baby, you are the best!

Everybody, have in mind what goes through Consis' mind next time you enter in an intellectual discussion with him. And remind me not to, ever, enter in one with that guy. Nothing personal, Consis. Not that I dont like sex with you, but I dont like sex with guys generally. Even if it's just intellectually. lol

Khealo, I'm exhausted now, baby. Sorry. I'll go and take my viagra, and continue the wonderful sex we're having soon.
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Svarog
Svarog


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Supreme Hero
statue-loving necrophiliac
posted August 11, 2004 04:43 AM

Khaelo, I'm back and we can continue the sex.
Quote:
My background in philosophy is quite weak, as I've already warned you.

Come on now. Don’t be that harsh on yourself. You’re making me feel stupid, cause I havent read those books you quoted. Even more, I havent read a single book about utilitarianism, only articles. Honestly, competence shouldn’t be an issue here. I value what you say, no more and no less than what those books might say. Big names don’t matter to me, it’s what they (or you) say that matters, especially in an area as touchy and subjective as philosophy. I hope you do the same. ;0

I think we had a bit of misunderstanding about the preferences. I will carry on a bit in a seemingly off-topic babbling. I hope you won’t mind.
Philosophers have always tried to set an order in the thinking process. Standards, morality, theories… It was this very same type of reasoning that made all the ancient philosophers believe that women were lesser beings. The same reasoning that set the morale principles for centuries up till now, and today that seems like a pile of dogmas and empty beliefs. There was one man named Hume in the XVIII century who said “Off to the flames” for all of that accumulated garbage, and denied the standard for objectivity. He was also a contributor to the basis for the development of utilitarianism, precisely because of his firm attitude that something is considered good when the community finds it as useful.
Now, few centuries later, some other philosophers got frustrated that the utilitarian theory didn’t constantly show them the way, and they decided to embark on the philosophical task to devise a set of rules and standards again, forgetting the core principle of utilitarianism, that in a lack of objective standards, the happiness of the community is the ultimate judge for everything.
And this is where we come to the books you mentioned. The moment they deny the principle of greater/lesser happiness with some artificial categories like “preferences”, “egalitarian” “always” etc, is where rationalism begins to rear its ugly head.
Now let me go one by one:
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Richard Dworkin (one of my sources for the paper) had reasons for why internal preferences matter and external ones should not.

He automatically sets the standard that external preferences are always more important than internal. But first, we need a definition for those two terms.
What he does, as we can see in this quote:
“In particular, Dworkin specifies external preferences as those which assume a non-egalitarian view of others’ value as people, and those which assume a non-neutral view of others’ morality in practice (86)”
…is that he connects the external preferences with non-egalitarianism. And this is where I misunderstood what “external preference” meant. I thought you were talking about a clear definition, i.e. when something is imposed on other groups (logically, it wouldn’t happen if there were no other groups). What he defines as “external preference” is the premisis that some groups are of lesser value, which we’ll all agree is no good (to put it bluntly). But even if we agree with the denotative definition, then again comes the defining problem. How can you tell the existence of a non-egalitarian view? A non-egalitarian attitude for the sake of its own existence doesn’t exist in my opinion. It is artificially born in the minds of some people, because justifiably or not, they feel threatened by a preference of certain group. And the non-egalitarian view is always connected (more correctly, caused) with corresponding internal preferences on behalf of the group which has that non-egalitarian attitude. In some cases it’s about insult, annoyance or for dear life (as was the case in my examples). Who’s to judge the order of preference of those? A philosopher?! Pufff…

Or to rationalize the theory a bit, don’t you think that it’s a non-egalitarian view of others at work, when the murdering wackoes are prevented from expressing their strong internal urges? Of course, you might argue (as you are arguing, in fact), “no, cause they only want to live and that’s a legitimate internal preference.”, but still, is it not viewing the wackoes’ preferences as less important than their own internal preferences? It’s a non-egalitarian thing, no?
Of course yes, if using that logic, but I would say that there’s no non-egalitarian view that exists just by itself. A so called “non-egalitarian” view of others always arises when there’s some threat of a harm felt by a group. To value the impact on overall happiness of the harm and the preference fulfillment, that’s the trick. And there are no objective standards for that.

What we only did now, is relocating the objectivity problem from the harm/internal preference dilemma (as I wrote in my first post commenting your article with misunderstanding), to the non-egalitarianism dilemma, which for me is a fictional category and boils down easily to the same harm/internal preference dilemma, as you can see in the previous paragraph.

I can only give some credit to that guy’s theories, and I think here lies the key to your entire article, for the highly subjective judgment that insult as a harm should be treated as irrelevant. And that was the magic word here. Since with the lack of insult, there’s no harm, it turns out that indeed a non-egalitarian view exists, for no reason at all. And this is the point where he develops all the subsequent theories, but I think he’s doing it upside down, if you know what I mean.
But still, I will question that subjective judgment about the insults again, because I don’t think that always (although imo in 95% of the cases, yes) the insult impact should be sacrificed for the sake of fulfilling internal preferences. As a badly explained, but still relevant proof, I gave the example with the guys who swear a lot (see among the last paragraphs in the previous post).

And one last thing, I might not be clear enough in this post and I’m sorry for that. English is my second language after all.

Quote:
My brother got an even trickier problem in his class, in which he had to discuss a (hypothetical) tribe that killed its members before the age of 40 so that their spirits would be strong enough to battle demons in the afterlife. How do you deal with something like that???

Wow! I have no idea, but I would like to hear your brief opinion.

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doomnezeu
doomnezeu


Supreme Hero
Miaumiaumiau
posted August 11, 2004 10:15 AM

I was expecting a thread of this kind, since there seem to be some intelectually... challanged people arround here Actually, I wanted to make one myself, but since I am so damn lazy to think when I am in front of my computer (well, maybe except the times when I play a good RPG game), I thought that somewone else should do it. Oh, and so you did it

You have an interesting phylosophy there Svarog. Mixing Max and Sartre could become one's best guidance to mental peace and relaxation and, I must say, I like Marx. Not the same about Sartre, though, mostly his phylosophy. I read through his books when I was in highschool and didn't really find a ground base for most of his affirmations. I'm into atheist existentialism myself, but more on the Camus point of view. So that may explain my "love" for the likes of Sartre. But when I came to his short stories (The Wall, etc), I was quite amaised to realise that I actually liked them. Surprise. The guy has more talent for beletristics than for sharing his "vast" and "unique" ideeas with the world.
Marx, on the other hand, was one of the reasons I went to a University of Philosophy in the first place. Well, actually not Marx, but Nietzsche, but he was there too. And he was also the guy that got me into the most trouble with the romanian weird mentality.
Explanation: romanian weird mentality is that witch only occurs in ex-communist countries, where people say communist is bad but they still think like your average communist, living by the same principle Mother Russia inoculated in them, but denying it sistematically. Other members may know what I am talking about. Due to my Marxist/Nietzschean approach on every field of philosophy (witch, by the way, is a terrible combination, sometimes impossible, but hey, I did it and mine it's viable), most teachers would regard me with desgust, telling things like: "you communist, rasist, yada yada"... Actually I am not rasist. I have some communist beliefs and some funny insights about racial differences, but that does not make me rasist as long as I dont run arround berseked killing tons of jews, or americans, or black people (notice I didn't use the term "snow"). I used to live by the golden rule: "My beliefs and my beliefs only", but that may change at times. I used to be a fanatical adept of Nietzsche's superman, and I still am, because I think evolution is what keeps this world going so smoothly. But I also think there is a drawback of this evolution, and I call it involution. My opinion is that allways exist a maximum point in everything - in this case, evolution - from where things start not to be so "pinky" after all. So I belive that man will reach a certain amount of, let's say, smartness (how dumb does that sound), after witch the self contempness will overcome his natural lust for evolution, and things will get *really* nasty.
Well, due to my rather unusual beliefs, i found it really hard to keep in line with all those Kant lovers, Aristotle lovers (philosophers witch I have read, nevertheless, but witch have never made a good impression on me due to their lack of originality. Some would say I am wrong, that Kand was rather unique and the best there is, the father of all modern philosophy, but I tell ya, he was only unique in being very hard to comprehend). My path also crossed with Plato. Here I would like to say an interesting thing. I have come to the conclusion that either Plato or Socrates is a fraud. Why? Because, If Socrates was who Plato said it was, then Plato would be a mere scribe with no insight on philosophy, but, if Plato invented Socrates to etalate his genious (but rather old) iddeas, well... then Socrates does not really exist.
Well, that's it. Two more things to add:
1. Svarog, look what you made me do, write a long post that no one will read
and 2. No, we are not having sex right now  
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Khaelo
Khaelo


Honorable
Supreme Hero
Underwater
posted August 11, 2004 11:19 AM
Edited By: Khaelo on 11 Aug 2004

in over my head

Svarog, the articles (not even whole books) cited were required reading for my class, and I only completed them in order to write the paper.    No need to feel stupid, especially since you've thought through the implications of Dworkins's argument better than I did.    I really have no response to your explaination.  Seeing as I don't believe in complete ethical objectivity as a feasible goal, it's very hard to defend any theory as solidly objective.


My "philosophy" for pretty much everything is based on the color/light spectrum.  Maybe I'm repeating myself, but here's the extended version.  There is an obvious, measurable difference between red and blue.  There is a less obvious, less measurable difference between blue and green.  The line between them sort of exists (this is blue, that is green) and sort of doesn't (that is ...turquoise?)  Also, different languages pick different sections of the spectrum to name.  In other words, I object to a strictly categorized universe (i.e., this is okay, that is not) because there's always something to blur the mix.

In practice, of course, people have to draw lines all over the place.  That veers into ethics, which I don't want to deal with here.  Suffice to say, I am forced to recognize a plurality of options.

The other cornerstone of my "philosophy" is the impossibility of perfection.  To use the same symbol, even the reddest object has a touch of blue.  Both of these basic concepts stem from my experience of the world.

I am a theist.  To me, denying the spiritual realm is as unintuitive as denying the material realm -- having experience with both, I accept neither as mere illusion.  My polytheism is directly a result of experience with multiple gods.  In hindsight, it is impossible for me to reconcile a single creator with the universe I see.  Nothing is pure, but everything carries evidence of ideal purities now tainted with one another.  To snip the mythos to its bare bones, there had to have been plural creation forces, each of which contributed its own "energy" (for lack of a better word) to forming the world as it is now.

Hopefully, that is at least somewhat comprehensible.  Now, on to the tribe...I don't have an answer either, which is why I brought it up.  My inclination would be to let the tribe do as it does, as long as the subjects are willing and the tradition is not inflicted upon other peoples.  A person in their thirties is an adult, after all.
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