Select Page
Poker Forum
Over 1,256,000 Posts!
Poker ForumFTR Community

At its core,

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 75 of 123
  1. #1

    Default At its core,

    the idea of god is the idea that the human individual is not subservient to those with material or hierarchical power over them. This idea is exemplified perhaps best in the American Constitution, which declares that all humans have inalienable rights granted them by god by nature of them being made in the image of god. Even if not a literal or physical truth of the universe, the idea is that the king or the state or the aristocracy is not of inherent greater humanity than other humans. Within this framework, god is the real humanism while statism is the real god reigning over subordinate humans.
  2. #2
    OngBonga's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    16,010
    Location
    England
    Yeah wuf's back!

    And blabbering something about god. And statism.

    All I know is the state isn't the spirit. I couldn't give a fuck about god, it's a ridiculous concept. But the spirit... well that's kinda ridiculous too, but ask yourself... do you have free will? Do you manipulate the universe around you? Or are you following a path which was determined at the instant of the big bang? I subsrcibe to the former. Rocks floating through space follow paths determined by their "initial conditions". The path I take is determined by the choices I make. So yeah, the spirit exists.

    Is this even relevant to your point? Fuck the state, that might swing it.
    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    ongies gonna ong
  3. #3
    In my estimation, the concept of free will may require the concept of there being metaphysical truth. Scientific truth gets us to determinism, and that's that.
  4. #4
    Does anyone ITK actually believe in free will?
  5. #5
    OngBonga's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    16,010
    Location
    England
    Is anyone ITK when it comes to free will?
    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    ongies gonna ong
  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by OngBonga View Post
    Is anyone ITK when it comes to free will?
    Yeah loads of people, which is why it's basically confirmed nonsense. Why would you think you're so special that you get to control things that go on?

    Explain to me what makes you think free will is a thing.
  7. #7
    OngBonga's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    16,010
    Location
    England
    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    In my estimation, the concept of free will may require the concept of there being metaphysical truth. Scientific truth gets us to determinism, and that's that.
    Metaphysical truth is no less a concept than scientific truth. There is metaphysical truth... that there is time and space. Why should I abandon the concept of things existing outside of physical reality? Pi doesn't exist in a physical form, but it's extremely useful when it comes to describing the physical world.

    I grant the deterministic nature of the universe is a logical concept, unlike free will. But consciousness is illogical if the universe is deterministic. Why would I need to feel pain when I touch fire? Surely I was always going to touch it then immediately move my hand away, why does my brain need to be told to move my hand?

    The bottom line really is that life just seems utterly pointless if we don't have free will. I choose to believe in the more optimistic possibility.
    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    ongies gonna ong
  8. #8
    OngBonga's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    16,010
    Location
    England
    Quote Originally Posted by Savy View Post
    Why would you think you're so special that you get to control things that go on?
    Who said anything about me being special? There's billions of other humans all excercising their free will, constantly. Then there's the question of lesser lifeforms. Perhaps even plants.

    One thing is for sure... I'm more special than a rock floating through space. They can't talk shite on the internet.
    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    ongies gonna ong
  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by OngBonga View Post
    Who said anything about me being special? There's billions of other humans all excercising their free will, constantly. Then there's the question of lesser lifeforms. Perhaps even plants.

    One thing is for sure... I'm more special than a rock floating through space. They can't talk shite on the internet.
    What happening in you isn't governed by the same shit that is governing a rock floating through space? You're more complicated yes but not different.
  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Savy View Post
    Does anyone ITK actually believe in free will?
    Yes.
  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by OngBonga View Post
    I grant the deterministic nature of the universe is a logical concept, unlike free will.
    Speaking of religion, how about that religion espoused by those who don't remotely understand the mechanics of the universe positing that they know the mechanics say there is no free will.
  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    4,595
    Location
    UK
    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    t This idea is exemplified perhaps best in the American Constitution, which declares that all humans have inalienable rights granted them by god by nature of them being made in the image of god. .
    Until someone proves that God exists and humans were made in god's image, does that mean that that the american constition is illegal as it is based on the presumption that god has granted those rights and if God is not shown to exist the god can't grant those rights.
  13. #13
    There are good reasons not to believe in free will, unlike the reasons to believe in free will which boil down to 'i feel like i have it'.

    1. Brain activity related to making a decision occurs in a predictable pattern in a predictable part of the brain several hundred milliseconds before the person reports having 'made a decision.'

    2. Self-control (i.e., 'free will') can be compromised by brain damage - if damage occurs in the premotor cortex, 'alien hand' syndrome results which essentially means the person loses control over one hand. If damage occurs in the prefrontal cortex, the loss of will is more general, and the person has difficulty making decisions.

    3. Karl Pilkington sums it up.

  14. #14
    OngBonga's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    16,010
    Location
    England
    Alien hand syndrome is interesting as fuck. It's like a battle between free will and something else.

    I agree with you that free will is less intuitive than determinism. But that doesn't change the fact that free will is the more appealing belief. I guess it's an almost religious thing to me... I'm gonna need pretty convincing proof before I accept what I consider a depressing worldview.
    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    ongies gonna ong
  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Keith View Post
    Until someone proves that God exists and humans were made in god's image, does that mean that that the american constition is illegal as it is based on the presumption that god has granted those rights and if God is not shown to exist the god can't grant those rights.
    God is an idea. The idea exists. It appears that Christianity has pushed for an idol version of the idea, which is folly in my estimation.
  16. #16
    Determinism appears to be deduced from the nature of causality. That may not be the only interpretation of the nature of causality, however.
  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by OngBonga View Post
    Alien hand syndrome is interesting as fuck. It's like a battle between free will and something else.

    I agree with you that free will is less intuitive than determinism. But that doesn't change the fact that free will is the more appealing belief. I guess it's an almost religious thing to me... I'm gonna need pretty convincing proof before I accept what I consider a depressing worldview.
    If you'll indulge me, here's a portion of what I'm working on now:

    I agree with the framework presented in the abstract here: http://www.simulation-argument.com/simulation.html . My personal interpretation of reality is that (1) and (2) are not likely; therefore I think the probability that we are living in an ancestor simulation converges on 1 (without actually hitting 1). If we are living in an ancestor simulation, it may be necessarily the case there is a mode of being by which we become sufficiently advanced enough to create our own ancestor simulations. This would be a mode of being in mimicry of the ancestor simulators. As far as I can tell, religious ideas, particularly ones of the archetypal meta-heroes like Christ or Marduk or Buddha -- which are biologically embedded into the human psyche (by way of evolutionary selection in the dominance hierarchy) -- may be the modes of being for the human portion of species advancement that achieve the state of the ancestors.
    Last edited by wufwugy; 06-03-2017 at 03:37 PM.
  18. #18
    bigred's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    15,462
    Location
    Nest of Douchebags
    God, similar to conspiracy theory, exists because humans need to feel in control. We crave it. The idea of a multitude of biological beings floating on a big rock in the middle of a sparse vacuum existing in a seemingly random* existence is terrifying. Hence, the need for a wide range of Gods from the level pulling omnipotent dictator to the benevolent spiritual life force depending on each religious/spiritual person's level of control needed. These Gods control the randomness* that scares us thus we can be in control by putting our faith into God.

    Also, victim mentality is a choice that is prevalent throughout the world's cultures. The idea that someone else is in control and you're simply a passenger to some divine path is appealing. It is liberating and pacifying to the human need for control. Anything that doesn't go your way is because God has a bigger plan you can't understand (i.e addresses the randomness we can't comprehend) and works in mysterious ways.

    Personally, I think religion and God is a bug in our biological programming that is slowly being remedied over time as we further our understanding of our universe. Will we ever be rid of it? Probably not but I hope for it.

    *I will acknowledge randomness is more attributed to the lack of understanding of incredibly complex systems interacting with each other in a way we cannot comprehend or interpret. Nothing is purely random imo. It's just how we define the outcomes we cannot ascertain.

    Not sure how relevant my post is given we quickly swerved to discuss free will. To me free will discussion seems irrelevant given the outcomes but ok.
    LOL OPERATIONS
  19. #19
    bigred's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    15,462
    Location
    Nest of Douchebags
    As an aside, why does the free will discussion matter? I haven't researched the arguments (including the simulation theories) but it seems counter-productive. Either I'm writing this because it was already determined as a result of a myriad of variables in my biological chemistry and existential influencers leading to this post or I "chose" to write this post. Potato Potahtoh?

    It seems like another appeal to the "someone [or something] else is in control, so why worry?" mentality.
    Last edited by bigred; 06-03-2017 at 04:29 PM.
    LOL OPERATIONS
  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by bigred View Post
    Personally, I think religion and God is a bug in our biological programming that is slowly being remedied over time as we further our understanding of our universe. Will we ever be rid of it? Probably not but I hope for it.
    It might be the ethical framework adapted to for hundreds of millions of years. Let's hope Nietzsche was wrong about the discarding of this framework leading to the demise of western civilization. Religion appears to be a way of putting into words the principles that our ancestors used to survive. Logos, self-sacrifice, etc.. Evolution may have selected for archetypes most able to adapt. Take a tribe of people and select their best characteristics and write a story about one person with those characteristics. That's a hero. Take a bunch of heroes and select their best characteristics and write a story about one person with those characteristics. That's like a religious meta-hero. Even though I do not believe in a scientifically true god, I'm wary to throw out the bedrock of the human spirit. I'm wary to assume that science and reason can inform us how to act. But the archetypes, they tell us how to act. The monkey who could kill the snake, he was a great guy. He was probably like a hero to other monkeys. He probably bred more. Eventually we get the knight who slays the dragon and saves the virgin. Eventually we get the religious meta-hero like Christ, who slays the snake in humankind itself by sacrificing his life to speak the truth so that others can speak the truth without having to sacrifice their lives. These archetypal modes of being are in our biology.
    Last edited by wufwugy; 06-03-2017 at 05:22 PM.
  21. #21
    a500lbgorilla's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    28,042
    Location
    himself fucker.
    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    the idea of god is the idea that the human individual is not subservient to those with material or hierarchical power over them. This idea is exemplified perhaps best in the American Constitution, which declares that all humans have inalienable rights granted them by god by nature of them being made in the image of god. Even if not a literal or physical truth of the universe, the idea is that the king or the state or the aristocracy is not of inherent greater humanity than other humans. Within this framework, god is the real humanism while statism is the real god reigning over subordinate humans.
    Well, nature and nature's god not god and by nature of them being made in the image of god. And also, that was in the Declaration of Independence.

    Though, spirituality is one aspect of life that I'm trying to open up to these days, so I'm not gonna knock you for trying to put things in these terms.
    <a href=http://i.imgur.com/kWiMIMW.png target=_blank>http://i.imgur.com/kWiMIMW.png</a>
  22. #22
    a500lbgorilla's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    28,042
    Location
    himself fucker.
    Quote Originally Posted by OngBonga View Post
    Pi doesn't exist in a physical form, but it's extremely useful when it comes to describing the physical world.
    Nice.

    I grant the deterministic nature of the universe is a logical concept, unlike free will. But consciousness is illogical if the universe is deterministic. Why would I need to feel pain when I touch fire?
    Genetic survival. Plants have an intellect in that they respond directly to their chemical environment. They're structured specifically to respond in the way they do. Worms only have 3 types of neurons, some to sense light, some to relay signals from the skin to muscles, and some to communicate across muscles. They manage to squirm around successfully enough. Then there are the higher ordered life forms with huge bundles of neurons near the sense organs and an arbor which stretches through the body. There are entire neuronal organs which only interface with other neurons, some of them trying to predict the future.

    Surely I was always going to touch it then immediately move my hand away, why does my brain need to be told to move my hand?
    Surely. If only God could have seen it coming, how sure was it?
    <a href=http://i.imgur.com/kWiMIMW.png target=_blank>http://i.imgur.com/kWiMIMW.png</a>
  23. #23
    a500lbgorilla's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    28,042
    Location
    himself fucker.
    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    God is an idea. The idea exists. It appears that Christianity has pushed for an idol version of the idea, which is folly in my estimation.
    Nice.
    <a href=http://i.imgur.com/kWiMIMW.png target=_blank>http://i.imgur.com/kWiMIMW.png</a>
  24. #24
    a500lbgorilla's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    28,042
    Location
    himself fucker.
    Hahah, are we living in a computer simulation?

    I'm sorry, but I'm going to bet no. Shit's complicated enough, just let it be what it is. Stop trying to put an over-arching narrative behind it, because you'll always get it wrong.
    <a href=http://i.imgur.com/kWiMIMW.png target=_blank>http://i.imgur.com/kWiMIMW.png</a>
  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by a500lbgorilla View Post
    Hahah, are we living in a computer simulation?

    I'm sorry, but I'm going to bet no. Shit's complicated enough, just let it be what it is. Stop trying to put an over-arching narrative behind it, because you'll always get it wrong.
    The funny thing is I am convinced of it merely due to the argument. I agree that the 3 proposed subsets make up 100% of possible sets, and because I personally estimate that the first two are likely not true, I have little choice but to acknowledge I think we are living in a simulation.

    Interesting to note: our reality being a simulated universe isn't any less ridiculous than our reality being an original organic universe.
  26. #26
    oskar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    4,377
    Location
    in ur accounts... confiscating ur funz
    I find the simulation argument pretty convincing. The only footnote I would add is that maybe a civilization advanced enough to create such a simulation would deem it pointless. But it's also conceivable that we could reach that point technologically without gaining much insight in the nature of the universe.
    An interesting thought is that there will be a species on a planet a billion years from now when the universe has expanded to the point where there is no cosmic background radiation and everything is so far apart that they will look up into a black night sky and all they know about the universe is within their solar system. What image of the universe will they have? The point is that these guys might be tempted to go down the simulation rabbit hole, so there's always that. Another good point which I claim my own is that the deeper you would go down the layers of simulations of simulations the more simple, the less complex it gets. The stupider, the uglier it gets. Looking out the window I can imagine that this world is pretty far down that hole.

    I've heard Daniel Dannett present the fact that decisions are finalized in our brain before we realize it as evidence against free will, but I'm not sure I find that all too convincing. What I do believe is that we have much less autonomy than we would like to think we have and we would be better off acknowledging that, but on the other hand a purely deterministic world view could be dangerous, especially to purely deterministic beings, so let's better keep our greasy fingers off that pandora's box imho.
    Last edited by oskar; 06-04-2017 at 05:17 AM.
    The strengh of a hero is defined by the weakness of his villains.
  27. #27
    MadMojoMonkey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    7,004
    Location
    St Louis, MO
    If the machine running the simulation uses discrete mathematics, there will be unavoidable artifacts as waves propagate through the discrete lattice.
    These artifacts are not observed. I.e. there are not preferential directions in the universe. Waves propagate in the same way in all directions. E.g. there is no direction-based attenuation, which is an unavoidable artifact of a body made of discrete "lobes" - like atoms in a crystal.

    Just to preempt any mention of the Planck Length: that number is a trick of mathematics and has nothing to do with physics, as such.

    Summary: if the universe is a simulation, the graphics are fucking crisp!


    Interestingly, by information theory, if the universe is a simulation, then the device running said simulation has at bare minimum as many particles as the universe it simulates.

    If you're going to build anything in this universe which simulates another universe, that simulated universe will likely be many orders of magnitude smaller in scale than the universe in which you exist.

    Summary: simulations are smaller and smaller as you nest more simulators inside simulations.

    ***
    Does the "feeling" being preceded by other chemical processes in a brain mean that the feeling is wrong?
    I'm not sitting here questioning if I should have chosen different weather for today. My brain is not simply asserting the feeling that I've made a choice over arbitrary things in my life.
    Does it fit the observed data to posit that a brain makes a decision, and only after said decision is made takes the luxury of "feeling" like it made a decision?
  28. #28
    MadMojoMonkey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    7,004
    Location
    St Louis, MO
    Quote Originally Posted by oskar View Post
    An interesting thought is that there will be a species on a planet a billion years from now when the universe has expanded to the point where there is no cosmic background radiation and everything is so far apart that they will look up into a black night sky and all they know about the universe is within their solar system. What image of the universe will they have?
    Way more than a billion. The sun will still be burning in a billion years. It'll have expanded to larger than the size of Earth's orbit, as it will be in its red giant phase, but it'll still be here.

    There will always be CMBR, but it is ever more red-shifted over time, such that detection will eventually be impossible.

    Assuming that the acceleration due to dark energy that we observe today remains constant or decreases:
    They will see the stars in their galaxy. Also, they will see the galaxies in the neighborhood they reside within their galactic supercluster.

    Dark Energy is so weak that it only acts over ludicrously long length scales. Galaxies are gravitationally bound together into clusters and those clusters are bound into superclusters. Only on length scales greater than this does the accelerated expansion overpower gravitational acceleration of attraction.

    It's not too dissimilar to talking about the electromagnetic forces compared to the gravitational force. On particle scales, gravity is negligible. The dominant forces are orders of magnitude greater, so while gravity's effect isn't truly 0, it's not causing any bad predictions to ignore it. Move out to big enough scales, though and the electromagnetic imbalances average out and you are left with "large" objects which have effectively 0 electric charge, so they don't interact via electromagnetic forces, and the weaker force of gravity expresses dominance.
  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    Does the "feeling" being preceded by other chemical processes in a brain mean that the feeling is wrong?
    If those brain states precede and predict the feeling of making a decision, then I would hazard to say 'yes the feeling is wrong'; your feeling of having made a decision is a phenomenological artefact of the activity in your brain, nothing more.

    We constantly make decisions without any sort of rumination. Are these decisions 'free' in the sense that we could have done something else? It seems hard to agree with that idea. And I'm not speaking solely about reflexive or automatic actions - just think of the next conversation you have with a friend - how much of what either of you say do you actually think about before you say it? Not much if you're like me and my friends, you both just blather on.

    Surely you've done things where you've had no idea wtf fuck compelled you to do them.


    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    I'm not sitting here questioning if I should have chosen different weather for today. My brain is not simply asserting the feeling that I've made a choice over arbitrary things in my life.
    That just shows you understand what is possible and what isn't. Other people do sit around thinking they can affect all sorts of things they can't affect. But what you think you're in control of and whether you have the free will to decide to change it seem orthogonal to me at least.


    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    Does it fit the observed data to posit that a brain makes a decision, and only after said decision is made takes the luxury of "feeling" like it made a decision?
    In a sense, yes, but I think you're ascribing too much sophistication to what the brain is doing - it's basically just a bunch of 1s and 0s that are programmed to follow certain patterns - e.g., respond in such a way so that the person turns their eyes and head towards a loud noise, for example.

    The real mystery is why we have consciousness at all, since our brain could arguably pull all the right levers without us ever having any sort of phenomenological experience of even existing, never mind feeling, thinking, seeing, being happy or being sad, etc..
  30. #30
    Here's another way of looking at it - if you take out a person's visual cortex, their experience of vision is basically that they are blind. If you take out a person's dlpfc (part of the frontal lobes), their experience of decision-making is analogous - they are 'blind' when it comes to making up their mind.

    e.g., This poor bastard can't even decide what he can't decide about. He can talk about things he is going to do in the future but chances are he won't do any of them.

  31. #31
    MadMojoMonkey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    7,004
    Location
    St Louis, MO
    It was interesting the way he immediately answered "both" when asked if this appointment was something that bothered him or was of benefit to him. (paraphrasing)

    ***
    Not sure if derailing:

    Re. 1's and 0's.

    Is it meaningful that the brain certainly gives the feeling that these decisions are self-directed? I.e. learning is a thing. By "choosing" to change your future choices, you alter the truth tables which those 1's and 0's follow.

    It is appropriate to ascribe those sub-conscious brain activities as unrelated to your conscious choices?

    E.g. we are all probably licensed drivers, here. You probably have mentally practiced what you'd do to control your vehicle in a myriad of potentially dangerous situations.
    Should one of those situations occur, you may need to physically respond to the hazard faster than you could consciously choose to do so. However, you've already chosen to do so in advance. So in the moment, you don't have time to choose, but that's not really indicative of any lack of free will, is it?
  32. #32
    CoccoBill's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    1,363
    Location
    Finding my game
    ^Agreed. Our subconscious is every bit as much a part of "us" as our consciousness, I feel this talk of free will is just semantics.
    Our brains have just one scale, and we resize our experiences to fit.

    You wake me up early in the morning to tell me that I'm right? Please wait until I'm wrong.

  33. #33
    oskar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    4,377
    Location
    in ur accounts... confiscating ur funz
    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    Way more than a billion. The sun will still be burning in a billion years. It'll have expanded to larger than the size of Earth's orbit, as it will be in its red giant phase, but it'll still be here.
    ...
    Ok that's interesting. and disappointing. I guess what I'm remembering was someone talking about the CMBR and how much it would suck for astrophysics if you couldn't see it anymore.
    The strengh of a hero is defined by the weakness of his villains.
  34. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post

    Re. 1's and 0's.

    Is it meaningful that the brain certainly gives the feeling that these decisions are self-directed?
    The brain/mind is incredibly smart in some ways (e.g., problem solving) and incredibly dumb in others. It's certainly capable of interpreting reality in its own way irrespective of the true reality - e.g., visual illusions. Self-insight is something its not renowned for.

    (I recommend turning the sound down unless you enjoy Japanese jingle pron).





    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    I.e. learning is a thing. By "choosing" to change your future choices, you alter the truth tables which those 1's and 0's follow.
    If you didn't 'choose' to change your choices, but it was done mechanistically through biology and physics, the same alterations would occur.

    A lot of learning goes on passively fwiw. It's obvious that children learn to move over their development because everyone starts out so clumsy. But we also learn to see, hear, recognize objects and all sorts of other things. None of this requires conscious intervention on our part, or 'will'.


    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    It is appropriate to ascribe those sub-conscious brain activities as unrelated to your conscious choices?

    E.g. we are all probably licensed drivers, here. You probably have mentally practiced what you'd do to control your vehicle in a myriad of potentially dangerous situations.
    Should one of those situations occur, you may need to physically respond to the hazard faster than you could consciously choose to do so. However, you've already chosen to do so in advance. So in the moment, you don't have time to choose, but that's not really indicative of any lack of free will, is it?
    Well I'm not sure this relates to 'will' per se but what you've done here is train your brain (or it's trained itself) to automatically respond to a stimuli with what it reasons is an appropriate response. The re-wiring that goes on to make this happen has been documented (at least on the level of small numbers of neurons), so there's a biological correlate to this training - iow, it seems the mind is the brain is the mind.
  35. #35
    How does neurochemistry signaling a choice before the choice is consciously signaled demonstrate lack of free will?
  36. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    How does neurochemistry signaling a choice before the choice is consciously signaled demonstrate lack of free will?
    Cause precedes effect in any rational model. So if the change occurs in the brain at a point in time before we have the phenomenological experience of 'will', then the latter must have been caused by the former.

    Moreover, since we can't directly introspect about the activity of neurons in our brain, the logical conclusion is that their activity gives rise to our decisions, which we (the mind) then interprets as itself exercising free will.

    To elaborate on a previous example, if you're driving down the road and suddenly find yourself taking a left turn for no apparent reason, do you think that's more likely an instance of 'free will' without conscious decision (which seems oxymoronic), or that the brain made up its own mind (speaking metaphorically) to go down that road?
  37. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by OngBonga View Post
    The bottom line really is that life just seems utterly pointless if we don't have free will.
    Don't know if I would agree with that. And even if it were true, who says life needs to have a point, or that it would have one if we were free to choose our destinies. In a million years the universe is not going to miss any of us, I can promise that.

    Just enjoy the ride, marvel at it all...


    Quote Originally Posted by OngBonga View Post
    I choose to believe in the more optimistic possibility.
    I would deign to suggest you prefer to believe in free will because you think its the only thing keeping you from stabbing yourself in the eye with scissors. Fact is, evolution is what you should be thanking for quelling that offhand urge.
  38. #38
    I should add that I don't necessarily think of free will as the conscious will. Can it be the case that neurochemical behavior that precedes conscious behavior is itself caused by something not predetermined?
  39. #39
    A reason I've been questioning my belief of determinism lately is I have come to side with the idea that we really, really, REALLY don't understand the universe. The determinism case, in my estimation, assumes sufficient understanding of the universe.
  40. #40
    OngBonga's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    16,010
    Location
    England
    Fact is, evolution is what you should be thanking for quelling that offhand urge.
    Not if you subscribe to the Many Worlds Interpretation. If so, I have probability to thank. Assuming, that is, unless I'm destined to do it in the future. In which case, fuck my luck.
    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    ongies gonna ong
  41. #41
    MadMojoMonkey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    7,004
    Location
    St Louis, MO
    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    How does neurochemistry signaling a choice before the choice is consciously signaled demonstrate lack of free will?
    The most common argument in favor of free will is "It feels like I have it."
    However, it's shown that the feeling of making a decision comes after the making of the decision.

    So the feeling is ruled out as evidence of free will... and what do we have left?
  42. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by OngBonga View Post
    Not if you subscribe to the Many Worlds Interpretation. If so, I have probability to thank. Assuming, that is, unless I'm destined to do it in the future. In which case, fuck my luck.
    I thought your view was that you had complete control over yourself in every possible universe, and that therefore the p(Ong blinds himself with scissors) was precisely = 0.

    Or are we talking about it as being an infinitesimally small number (which as you'll recall is also infinitely large).

    Omg, wait a minute...

    Nooooooo!
  43. #43
    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    However, it's shown that the feeling of making a decision comes after the making of the decision.
    To be fair, although I'm personally in objective agreement with this narrative, I wouldn't say the evidence is entirely unequivocal. And deep down I'd rather think we have free will than we don't.

    That said, it sure seems a lot easier to find someone speaking intelligently about there not being free will than doing the same for the other side.

  44. #44
    Quote Originally Posted by Poopadoop View Post
    it sure seems a lot easier to find someone speaking intelligently about_______ than doing the same for the other side.
    I thought the same thing about lots of stuff before I came across Dr. Jordan Peterson. This isn't about free will specifically (although he probably would argue for its existence), but that our contemporary narratives appear to have base in groupthink or hallucination, roughly speaking. In my estimation, Peterson seems to have gotten so wildly popular in such a short period of time due to saying things that nobody else is saying yet making a whole lot of sense doing so.

    An example is that I agreed with Sam Harris that reason and science can get humankind to a moral mode of being until Peterson came along and executed a battleship bombardment on that beach. Now my thoughts are changing. To what, I don't know.
  45. #45
    Don't know who Petersen is but if his argument is that morality is subjective, and thus on a different mental plane from science and reason, and so the two ways of thinking can't really guide each other, then I'd be inclined to agree. Though I admit to not having spent much time thinking about it.

    OTOH, if his argument is that religion can guide morality then I'd say that ship hit an iceberg a long time ago.
  46. #46
    Quote Originally Posted by Poopadoop View Post
    OTOH, if his argument is that religion can guide morality then I'd say that ship hit an iceberg a long time ago.
    The short of his argument is some of what I've mentioned ITT. Religious and mythical archetypes are descriptions of evolutionary adaptation -- primarily through the dominance hierarchy -- that yield the greatest mode of being (morality and behavior) for species survival. For example, the flood myths are about corrupted peoples being destroyed by God, just like how Hurricane Katrina's devastation was due to corruption (everybody knew the levees would break but society was too corrupted to fix them) leading to inevitable destruction by an act of God. The archetypes in religion are such old and biological stories, like how Medusa has a head of snakes that petrifies anybody who sees them, just like how our literal critter ancestors were petrified by literally seeing a literal snake, and perhaps like how the snake of the human soul petrifies that human when confronted.

    His argument relevant to postmodernists like Harris and Richard Dawkins is that they think we can discard the moral ideas that have evolved over hundreds of millions of years and instead know what morals are through scientific examination. Peterson argues that science only tells us what is, not how to be; whereas religion and myths are symbiotic in human nature and tell us how to be. An example I like is the idea of sacrifice of oneself for the greater good. This is the core teaching/exemplification of many religions, that the mode of being that is best for the person and best for the society is sacrifice of oneself for the greater good/logos. Science doesn't get humans to that point, but hundred of millions of years of evolution has, and our ideas embedded in our myths and our religion do.
  47. #47
    If interested this may be a good starting point for Peterson. A clinical psychologist lecturer has never risen in popularity so much so quickly.

  48. #48
    MadMojoMonkey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    7,004
    Location
    St Louis, MO
    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    Peterson argues that science only tells us what is, not how to be; whereas religion and myths are symbiotic in human nature and tell us how to be.
    I agree in broad context, but not this wording.

    A) That's not what science does.
    B) While those technically count as cultural and moral guides, I wouldn't call them up-to-date sources.
    It's folly to assert that people of long ago had some secret wisdom which is directly applicable to modern life.

    The world of humans was largely the same for ~400,000+ years. Very little changed for humans during that time. In the past 12,000 years or so (start of the neolithic era), there was a burgeoning change away from nomadic tribalism and toward more permanent settlements. Even still, the pace of change for most of that time was glacial. The neolithic era lasted for 6,000 - 8,000 years, depending on who you ask and where they divide the eras. That took us from the stone age to the dawning of metal used for tools. We're still ~2 - 4 thousand BCE, now.

    Look at how dramatically different our lives are from our grandparents. Our grandparents lives were largely the same as their grandparent's lives. In the past 100 year or so, industrialization and communication have dramatically changed our lives.

    My point is that this may have been a viable way to keep future populations safe for a very long time. I don't see how it's directly relevant today. The notion that someone living without modern education, public health awareness, or medical knowledge is somehow an expert on my life ... doesn't make sense to me.
  49. #49
    Humans are biologically about the same as pre-civilization. The archetypes exemplified in old stories may be manifestations of the modes of being best suited for human biology. Are circumstances different now? Maybe. Are they different such that the innate function of the human is different? ...
  50. #50
    MadMojoMonkey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    7,004
    Location
    St Louis, MO
    Genetically modern human remains have been found and dated to over 490,000 years old.
    So, not 'about the same'... just 'the same,' as I understand it. This is not my field of expertise, obviously.

    Modes of being best suited for human biology? IDK exactly what you mean, but doesn't the outrageous innovation in modern biology make you stop and wonder if those ancient people might have different things to say if they were around today?

    Things are definitely different now. Most people have magic communication computers in their pockets and access to grocery stores, and can travel between distant cities in a morning's time if they wanted to. Is our current conversation really that close to a fire-side chat? Closer to a pen-pal kind of thing, but w/o the weeks in between responses. That really does change the nature of the conversations.

    All that said... "genetically modern human" means if you wash them up, dress them like the locals and teach them how to communicate, they'll fit right in soon enough...

    So IDK... good question.

    Still, my point is that there is no directly applicable moral guide. History, if anything, has shown that morals are fluid and tend to favor ruling authorities' agendas. If the ruled people can make that work, it will work. If not, bad times for everyone involved.

    IDK.... mythology is different from history. Mythology is a crafted tale... whose value is evident in the fact that generation upon generation of people have seen value and quality in the stories. So there are elements to these stories which seem to resonate with many people, despite separation by culture and time.

    IDK... too many IDKs in this post.
  51. #51
    CoccoBill's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    1,363
    Location
    Finding my game
    I think it's fairly clear that there's some things in old folks' cultural wisdom and religious teachings that may be applicable today, just as there's a large amount that absolutely isn't. While our understanding of medicine evolves from blaming demons to blaming microbes, and we go from sacrificing virgins and goats to sacrificing our time and effort, so should every other previous notion be updated to fit our current surroundings and societies. What mechanisms are there, apart from science, to do that?

    Flat earthers are a good example of what happens when you discard the science and just go with conventional wisdom and what "feels right". I'd certainly lean towards science being able to answer questions of morality, pretty much the only limitations to that are our knowledge and understanding. It's a simple algorithm really: which option minimizes net suffering (priority 1) and maximizes net happiness (priority 2).
    Our brains have just one scale, and we resize our experiences to fit.

    You wake me up early in the morning to tell me that I'm right? Please wait until I'm wrong.

  52. #52
    bigred's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    15,462
    Location
    Nest of Douchebags
    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    It might be the ethical framework adapted to for hundreds of millions of years.
    So was the belief that the Earth was the center of the universe. Paradigms need to be constantly challenged. I don't think this is a good argument but I understand you're also providing context. Also, I would argue that our societal/productive stage of evolution was far different. Nomadic tribes vying for resources vs our industrialized current economy where ideologies like "find a job that makes you happy" can exist are drastically different.

    Let's hope Nietzsche was wrong about the discarding of this framework leading to the demise of western civilization.
    Meh. I think this is easy to dismiss. The great classical philosopher, Socrates, once famously quoted the younger generation were morally bankrupt and would ruin the country. I think Nietzsche's belief is more indicative of an opinion of the western civilization's feebleness with which I disagree.

    Religion appears to be a way of putting into words the principles that our ancestors used to survive.
    And now we have technology platforms that enable the dialogue and continued evaluation of our principles and values. We've progressed.


    Logos, self-sacrifice, etc.. Evolution may have selected for archetypes most able to adapt. Take a tribe of people and select their best characteristics and write a story about one person with those characteristics. That's a hero. Take a bunch of heroes and select their best characteristics and write a story about one person with those characteristics. That's like a religious meta-hero. Even though I do not believe in a scientifically true god, I'm wary to throw out the bedrock of the human spirit. I'm wary to assume that science and reason can inform us how to act. But the archetypes, they tell us how to act. The monkey who could kill the snake, he was a great guy. He was probably like a hero to other monkeys. He probably bred more. Eventually we get the knight who slays the dragon and saves the virgin. Eventually we get the religious meta-hero like Christ, who slays the snake in humankind itself by sacrificing his life to speak the truth so that others can speak the truth without having to sacrifice their lives. These archetypal modes of being are in our biology.
    Can you clarify how these archetypal modes are in our biology? I think you're making some very large assumptions to your arguments which makes it difficult for us to have a conversation about the above.

    Frankly, Wuf, I think much of this comes down to a fundamental belief regarding human nature. Your arguments, to my interpretation, are predicated on a belief that humans are weak-minded and need ethical frameworks like religion in order that they don't eat each other alive. In my opinion, this is a major underlying assumption of the conservative ideology.

    I, on the other hand, think humans are incredibly advanced creatures who continue to iterate on the foundations built over time through shared knowledge and understanding that evolves into wisdom. This wisdom continues to evolve and iterate over time. We're still working on some of the bugs (the fight or flight mechanism, for example) that leads to some of our uglier outcomes.
    LOL OPERATIONS
  53. #53
    MadMojoMonkey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    7,004
    Location
    St Louis, MO
    Quote Originally Posted by CoccoBill View Post
    I think it's fairly clear that there's some things in old folks' cultural wisdom and religious teachings that may be applicable today, just as there's a large amount that absolutely isn't.
    Agreed.

    I'd argue that whatever is applicable today is only applicable through interpretation. I.e. the actual facts in the story aren't a moral guide. Rather, the way we interpret and react to those facts is the moral guide. Which means that the specifics are not what's useful to us, but our modern, contemporary reaction is.

    The genius is in the fact that, like wuf hinted at, these stories have managed to encode something meaningful to us, despite large separations in culture and time.

    Quote Originally Posted by CoccoBill View Post
    I'd certainly lean towards science being able to answer questions of morality, pretty much the only limitations to that are our knowledge and understanding. It's a simple algorithm really: which option minimizes net suffering (priority 1) and maximizes net happiness (priority 2).
    Until and unless you can quantify and measure "net suffering" and "net happiness," science has nothing to say on these topics.

    Furthermore, you'll need to find a way to demonstrate, via incontrovertible, observable data, that utilitarianism is always the superior moral framework above all other moral frameworks.
    Last edited by MadMojoMonkey; 06-06-2017 at 11:03 AM.
  54. #54
    CoccoBill's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    1,363
    Location
    Finding my game
    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    Until and unless you can quantify and measure "net suffering" and "net happiness," science has nothing to say on these topics.
    How I see it is that science is a tool. With homo sapiens wielding it circa 2020, no, we most likely can not exhaustively and precisely quantify and measure those. Still, I'm sure we could make pretty good qualitative assessments on many issues, far better than what eg. religion does currently. It might take a long time to perfect it, but what scientific endeavor doesn't? Science totally can (=could) answer if not all, at least most moral questions.

    Let's try it the other way around, which moral question can not be answered by science?

    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    Furthermore, you'll need to find a way to demonstrate, via incontrovertible, observable data, that utilitarianism is always the superior moral framework above all other moral frameworks.
    I believe there's more flavors of utilitarianism than there's of Ben & Jerry's, I'm not at all sure what I'd endorse, most likely some version of consequentialism. I'd be satisfied with just showing whatever we'd decide to go with is better than what we currently have.
    Our brains have just one scale, and we resize our experiences to fit.

    You wake me up early in the morning to tell me that I'm right? Please wait until I'm wrong.

  55. #55
    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    Modes of being best suited for human biology?
    I will have to find a short segment of one of Peterson's lectures that can illustrate this. My understanding and ability to explain it is in infancy.
  56. #56
    Quote Originally Posted by bigred View Post
    Meh. I think this is easy to dismiss. The great classical philosopher, Socrates, once famously quoted the younger generation were morally bankrupt and would ruin the country. I think Nietzsche's belief is more indicative of an opinion of the western civilization's feebleness with which I disagree.
    I think I disagree with Nietzsche on this too, though I don't think his concern is wrong. I think my disagreement is that I think God actually isn't dead, meaning that the moral foundation of the West remains even though the church undergoes change, or something to that effect. I think there is great resilience in the human world, and I can't actually say that it's a loss of moral fabric that collapses civilizations (though that degradation is very alarming and we've got plenty of it).

    Frankly, Wuf, I think much of this comes down to a fundamental belief regarding human nature. Your arguments, to my interpretation, are predicated on a belief that humans are weak-minded and need ethical frameworks like religion in order that they don't eat each other alive. In my opinion, this is a major underlying assumption of the conservative ideology.

    I, on the other hand, think humans are incredibly advanced creatures who continue to iterate on the foundations built over time through shared knowledge and understanding that evolves into wisdom. This wisdom continues to evolve and iterate over time. We're still working on some of the bugs (the fight or flight mechanism, for example) that leads to some of our uglier outcomes.
    That's roughly accurate. The way I've seen it described, and I agree with it, is that one side thinks humans are basically good and that institutions corrupt; whereas the other side thinks that humans are not basically good and that institutions reform. I tend to lean more towards the latter. In politics, this whole thing is a mess due to very weird marriages of ideas and galvanizing people. For example, an evolutionary biologist should probably think in terms of the latter, yet today it seems many of them think in terms of the former.
  57. #57
    An example of how the old stories are every bit as relevant today as they were is Harry Potter. The most popular books of our time, and they're a close retelling of some of the most fundamental archetypes. If I come across Peterson discussing that specifically, I'll post it. Here's a bit of a lecture in which Peterson discusses the Egyptian Gods and how they are an eternal story to humankind. The Lion King is a retelling of their story too.



    An example of the timeless nature of the stories he presents is how society is at its nature old and ostracizing and its ruling elements inherently corrupt. This may be why we have elections today, to dampen the dying mode of ruling with fresh ones. Elections may be a relatively new innovation attempting to deal with the timeless nature of humanity. Even with changing circumstances, we may deal with the same fundamental problems as our ancestors.
  58. #58
    Since time is precious, check out this one if you want something shorter. It's 7 minutes. A brief summary of the story of the snake in the garden and what it might mean to the core nature of humanity.

  59. #59
    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    God actually isn't dead, meaning that the moral foundation of the West remains even though the church undergoes change, or something to that effect.
    I'd like add that I don't think the church or even church traditions appropriately represent God. They try to. But I can think of two examples I think they get grossly wrong: (1) idolizing God, meaning they have turned it from an idea of nature to a literal man, and (2) the idea that sin is an indiscretion, meaning that they have turned what seems to have originally been an idea about "misalignment with a mode of being" to "doing wrong and being bad."
  60. #60
    Sounds like bollocks to me.
  61. #61
    Give it a go, find something you like.
  62. #62
    MadMojoMonkey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    7,004
    Location
    St Louis, MO
    Quote Originally Posted by CoccoBill View Post
    How I see it is that science is a tool. With homo sapiens wielding it circa 2020, no, we most likely can not exhaustively and precisely quantify and measure those. Still, I'm sure we could make pretty good qualitative assessments on many issues, far better than what eg. religion does currently. It might take a long time to perfect it, but what scientific endeavor doesn't? Science totally can (=could) answer if not all, at least most moral questions.
    Science is a tool to help us avoid being tricked into believing something foolish, even when the person trying to convince us of the foolish is our past self.
    As such, science deals in phenomena which can be unequivocally confirmed by any observer, without nuance. The only way to ensure that this is the case is to deal in quantifiable measurements. The application of statistics allows us to compare disparate quantities and determine whether or not those differences are significant.

    Without this property, science loses any robustness of predictive power.

    Quote Originally Posted by CoccoBill View Post
    Let's try it the other way around, which moral question can not be answered by science?
    All of them. Morality and ethics relies on how individuals feel about various potential actions and outcomes. There is no objective right or wrong. Only what it preferred and what it not.

    E.g. we like to believe that murder is wrong, and punishable. However, state-sanctioned life-taking (of fellow humans) is OK, so long as enough of us (12 on a jury) agree that it's OK to take the life, or 1 special guy (POTUS) says it's OK to go "over there" and kill a whole bunch of people.

    If it wasn't all shades of gray, then there wouldn't be any reason for continued debate after all these millennia of study.

    Quote Originally Posted by CoccoBill View Post
    I believe there's more flavors of utilitarianism than there's of Ben & Jerry's, I'm not at all sure what I'd endorse, most likely some version of consequentialism. I'd be satisfied with just showing whatever we'd decide to go with is better than what we currently have.
    You're kind of making my point. There is no objectively "right" moral framework which can be incontrovertibly demonstrated to be superior to others.

    The whole point of ethics is that it is a muddy affair where no single decision is going to increase happiness and/or reduce misery for all parties involved. (Not that we've yet demonstrated that this is a morally upright goal of our decisions.)
  63. #63
    MadMojoMonkey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    7,004
    Location
    St Louis, MO
    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    Give it a go, find something you like.
    Wuf, meet Savy. He hates everything.

  64. #64
    MadMojoMonkey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    7,004
    Location
    St Louis, MO
    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    I will have to find a short segment of one of Peterson's lectures that can illustrate this. My understanding and ability to explain it is in infancy.
    I may have talked myself in a circle in that post with all the IDK's in it.

    On one hand, our actual daily activities are monumentally different than the vast majority of humans who lived before us.
    On the other hand, the sheer longevity of thousand-year-old stories, games, and other human activities certainly seems to indicate that there is a common thread which ties all these disparate (loving that word today, I guess) cultures and peoples.

    So sure, there seem to be elements of humanity that resonate throughout ages. Does that mean that we can just take any old "wisdom" from thousands of years ago and directly apply it to our lives today? No, I don't think so. I think the parts that stick with us from those stories is much more akin to the dramatic power of, say, Beethoven's 5th Symphony. There are no words, but the music bears this gravitas. How each individual interacts with that music is going to vary, but there is also a vast amount of overlap in all of that.
  65. #65
    CoccoBill's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    1,363
    Location
    Finding my game
    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    All of them. Morality and ethics relies on how individuals feel about various potential actions and outcomes. There is no objective right or wrong. Only what it preferred and what it not.
    I agree that there are grey areas, but I'd argue that in majority of cases there are quite clear objective verifiable rights and wrongs.

    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    E.g. we like to believe that murder is wrong, and punishable. However, state-sanctioned life-taking (of fellow humans) is OK, so long as enough of us (12 on a jury) agree that it's OK to take the life, or 1 special guy (POTUS) says it's OK to go "over there" and kill a whole bunch of people.
    Ok let's try. First, a crime has taken place and we need to decide what to do with the offender. Does killing the suspect 1) produce less suffering and 2) produce more happiness than not killing him? Killing him may give some small sense of justice and resolution for the loved ones of the victim (if there is one), but produce incredible suffering for the suspect. I would say this is a great example where morals of some people are completely out of whack, and it would be somewhat trivial to demonstrate it.

    In the war scenario, again, will starting a war minimize suffering (of humans, or life on the planet, not just some arbitrary bunch of people) and maximize happiness? I can't think of many scenarios where this would be the case. Another great example where a more accurate moral compass would be needed.
    If it wasn't all shades of gray, then there wouldn't be any reason for continued debate after all these millennia of study.

    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    You're kind of making my point. There is no objectively "right" moral framework which can be incontrovertibly demonstrated to be superior to others.

    The whole point of ethics is that it is a muddy affair where no single decision is going to increase happiness and/or reduce misery for all parties involved. (Not that we've yet demonstrated that this is a morally upright goal of our decisions.)
    You're giving me way too much credit. Just because I can't come up with one on the spot doesn't mean it can't be done.
    Our brains have just one scale, and we resize our experiences to fit.

    You wake me up early in the morning to tell me that I'm right? Please wait until I'm wrong.

  66. #66
    How do you quantify this happiness? You need some objective measure if science is going to provide an answer. Say you adopt a utilitarian approach - Do you ask people 'rate your happiness on a scale of 0-10 for options A and B, and the add up the scores? That's pretty subjective - how do you know my '8 happiness' is the same as your '8 happiness'? Also, the statistics would rely on their being some linear relationship between the values - iow, '8 happiness' needs to be four times as much as '2 happiness'. This seems like a difficult assumption to defend.

    Reason can be useful in pointing out the grey areas. For example, if someone is in constant pain with terminal cancer, applying a universal 'thou shalt not kill' moral code seems questionable (to be fair, the code is really 'thou shalt not kill humans', since no-one would think twice about putting an animal out of their suffering). In that case, one could argue that the universal code makes no sense, since the person's quality of life is going to be awful, and no life is almost certainly better than a life of constant suffering with no hope of improvement.

    But pointing out the grey areas is about as far as reason can go. It can't quantify things like happiness or well-being or justice, as these are subjective qualities.
  67. #67
    CoccoBill's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    1,363
    Location
    Finding my game
    Of course there are grey areas, but like I said, there's plenty of questions where the differences between two options are clear as day. Happiness is hard to measure, for sure, suffering is a little bit easier. For example insurance companies and justice systems have already for a long time put numeric values on loss of life and mental or physical harm. Obviously these are not perfect and they likely never will be, but they're a start.

    For most questions we don't need to measure these things exactly. Take for example capital punishment, genital mutilation of children, honor killings and banning contraception. Consider the subjective suffering they cause and weigh it against the subjective happiness they cause. You're absolutely right, I personally do not have a complete formula to objectively demonstrate which one's greater, but for most people I think it should be crystal clear. Even a pretty crude algorithm could easily deal with these issues.

    When we get to the grey areas, say, is it worse to kill one child or two pensioners, or whether it's ok to physically hurt someone to make 10 million people happy, there maybe isn't a clear answer, not from science and not from anything else, since as mentioned, these are subjective questions and depend on a variety of things. I'd still claim that however imperfect, at least for now, science is better equipped to answer these questions than anything else. Science can describe the norms of different cultures, and use set rules with adequate safety margins to compare them, then make decisions on the clear cases. This could be done right now, and get rid of an enormous amount of unnecessary suffering and injustice, the most glaring cases.

    I see no fundamental reason why moral questions could not be subjected to rational empirical scientific examination just as well as other social branches of science.
    Our brains have just one scale, and we resize our experiences to fit.

    You wake me up early in the morning to tell me that I'm right? Please wait until I'm wrong.

  68. #68
    MadMojoMonkey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    7,004
    Location
    St Louis, MO
    Quote Originally Posted by CoccoBill View Post
    I agree that there are grey areas, but I'd argue that in majority of cases there are quite clear objective verifiable rights and wrongs.
    Are they so clear that you'd expect widespread consensus agreement from all people?
    Or is tyranny of the majority enough?
    Is tyranny of the majority moral?
    If so, by what argument? (Recall: majorities have decided that slavery is moral, genocide is moral, etc.)

    I.e. that guy thinks murdering humans is a fundamental human right, and necessary to the growth of human cultures. Is it morally OK to disregard his position on this? Is it morally OK for a majority to assert moral dominance on others simply because they outnumber them?

    Quote Originally Posted by CoccoBill View Post
    Ok let's try. First, a crime has taken place and we need to decide what to do with the offender. Does killing the suspect 1) produce less suffering and 2) produce more happiness than not killing him? Killing him may give some small sense of justice and resolution for the loved ones of the victim (if there is one), but produce incredible suffering for the suspect. I would say this is a great example where morals of some people are completely out of whack, and it would be somewhat trivial to demonstrate it.

    In the war scenario, again, will starting a war minimize suffering (of humans, or life on the planet, not just some arbitrary bunch of people) and maximize happiness? I can't think of many scenarios where this would be the case. Another great example where a more accurate moral compass would be needed.
    For the criminal, see above. Is tyranny of the majority an acceptable way to determine which moral argument is "really moral."

    For the war, similar problem. The problem is that the people you're warring with have congruent arguments about why it is YOU who is the morally corrupt aggressor, while they are the righteous defenders of their cultural and traditional way of life.

    Quote Originally Posted by CoccoBill View Post
    You're giving me way too much credit. Just because I can't come up with one on the spot doesn't mean it can't be done.
    That's fair, but not at the same time. You assert this should be possible, but you have no idea how to make it happen.
    This is certainly worth exploring and noting that you are not the first to posit this idea. It's worth examining how and why other similar suggestions have failed to yet yield any fruit.

    I assert that this is a common human feeling / reaction to this topic, and that when you dig past what seems moral in one culture seeming immoral in other cultures, and neither has any convincing reason for their opinions, it becomes less clear. I.e. I assert that it seems simple when you assume that what is moral in your local area is the only working moral framework.
    Last edited by MadMojoMonkey; 06-07-2017 at 09:41 AM.
  69. #69
    MadMojoMonkey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    7,004
    Location
    St Louis, MO
    Quote Originally Posted by CoccoBill View Post
    I see no fundamental reason why moral questions could not be subjected to rational empirical scientific examination just as well as other social branches of science.
    You can certainly apply scientific method to study anything.

    Scienctific method, simplified:
    observe, hypothesize, experiment, analyze, evaluate
    repeat

    Being able to formulate scientifically stable models which make specific, unambiguous, verifiable predictions is a whole other issue.
    Having those predictions reproduced by independent scientists, who are diligently trying to disprove your assertions, is a high bar that ethical and moral questions simply have never been able to surmount.

    ***
    Note, in science, a single counter-example to a posited model is enough to disregard the model.
  70. #70
    An essential ingredient of our old moral stories is that they work. The archetypes have been passed down for many thousands of years, possibly because their lessons stand the test of time.

    As to what they say about what you guys are discussing, I don't know. But they probably say something, and it's probably of a wisdom developed with lots of trial and error.

    Note: the stuff modern people like about the modern world came out of the Renaissance and Enlightenment (reason, humanism, individualism, etc.), and those were a reversion to the classics. The idea that we may be linearly progressing out of the ways of our ancestry may be folly.
    Last edited by wufwugy; 06-07-2017 at 11:46 AM.
  71. #71
    CoccoBill's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    1,363
    Location
    Finding my game
    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    Are they so clear that you'd expect widespread consensus agreement from all people?
    Or is tyranny of the majority enough?
    Is tyranny of the majority moral?
    If so, by what argument? (Recall: majorities have decided that slavery is moral, genocide is moral, etc.)
    Absolutely not, I definitely wouldn't ask people or trust their moral compasses. Slavery and genocide are great examples of why not. The whole point is to not ask anyone but base morals on neutral data. I don't mean using statistics to find out which morals are most popular, but find out what's "right", the collective best outcome for everyone and everything.

    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    I.e. that guy thinks murdering humans is a fundamental human right, and necessary to the growth of human cultures. Is it morally OK to disregard his position on this?
    If it can be proven that murdering creates less suffering and more happiness than not murdering, no.

    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    Is it morally OK for a majority to assert moral dominance on others simply because they outnumber them?

    For the criminal, see above. Is tyranny of the majority an acceptable way to determine which moral argument is "really moral."
    Not automatically. If option a creates x amount of suffering for 1 person and option b x amount of suffering for 5 people, option a should be taken every time. Not because more people are affected, but because of less total suffering created.

    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    For the war, similar problem. The problem is that the people you're warring with have congruent arguments about why it is YOU who is the morally corrupt aggressor, while they are the righteous defenders of their cultural and traditional way of life.
    If you're starting a war, it's only moral to do so if starting it will minimize suffering and maximize happiness (ms&mh from now on) for everyone, also the people you're warring with, or more generally everyone involved. Morals should have absolutely nothing to do with race, religion, geography or other arbitrary and irrelevant things. If someone else is starting a war against you, it probably wouldn't and shouldn't be morally acceptable to start fighting back, unless it would ms&mh compared to surrendering.

    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    That's fair, but not at the same time. You assert this should be possible, but you have no idea how to make it happen.
    This is certainly worth exploring and noting that you are not the first to posit this idea. It's worth examining how and why other similar suggestions have failed to yet yield any fruit.
    Oh I absolutely am not, I just happened to watch Sam Harris's Ted talk on the subject a few years back and it resonated.

    https://www.ted.com/talks/sam_harris...w_what_s_right
    https://www.edge.org/event/the-new-science-of-morality

    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    I assert that this is a common human feeling / reaction to this topic, and that when you dig past what seems moral in one culture seeming immoral in other cultures, and neither has any convincing reason for their opinions, it becomes less clear. I.e. I assert that it seems simple when you assume that what is moral in your local area is the only working moral framework.
    I by no means think my local or even my own moral framework is right. Rather, I would posit no one's is, that's exactly why we'd need an impartial neutral judge. Morals are just about what's right and wrong, they should not at their core be up for debate but objective clear facts. The only reason it gets murky is that our personal experiences vary, feelings are subjective. Still, I see that just as a challenge (maybe in some cases a limitation), not as an immovable barrier. Or, I guess, maybe there could be some things in this that could be solved by statistical surveys, such as metrics for perceived suffering and happiness.
    Our brains have just one scale, and we resize our experiences to fit.

    You wake me up early in the morning to tell me that I'm right? Please wait until I'm wrong.

  72. #72
    MadMojoMonkey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    7,004
    Location
    St Louis, MO
    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    An essential ingredient of our old moral stories is that they work. The archetypes have been passed down for many thousands of years, possibly because their lessons stand the test of time.
    Do they work? As evidenced by what?
    What specific morals from what specific stories have worked?
    What do you mean by asserting they "work?"

    What does the 2nd sentence mean? Possibly... (, but possibly not, so...)

    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    As to what they say about what you guys are discussing, I don't know. But they probably say something, and it's probably of a wisdom developed with lots of trial and error.
    Are you asserting that what feels right to you is going to be shown by the data, while not looking at the data?

    Even if you're right (not saying you are), in what way does "developed with lots of trial and error" imply good quality results?

    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    Note: the stuff modern people like about the modern world came out of the Renaissance and Enlightenment (reason, humanism, individualism, etc.), and those were a reversion to the classics. The idea that we may be linearly progressing out of the ways of our ancestry may be folly.
    Stuff modern people like and why they like it is as subjective as anything comes, man.

    Are you trying to incite a discussion about the nuances of why any statement which groups so many people's subjectivity under one banner will always be false?

    A reversion to the classics? Hmm. So these classics were a thing, then people moved away from that thing, to a different thing, and they came back to the classics.
    Seems like if the classics had it all sewn up, there would have been no side-track to anything else.

    ***
    There's good stuff to interpret from old stories. There's a connection to people who lived eons before you facing similar difficult choices, finding love, failing at it, and finding new love.. etc.

    There's also ridiculously bad stuff in old stories. The Bible is full of rape stories, the old Greek tragedies are full of rape stories, etc.

    I agree broadly that there are common threads to humanity, but I don't agree that simply because something is old, it has intrinsic value, or that the value it claimed to have when it was originated is still the value it has today.
  73. #73
    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    Do they work? As evidenced by what?
    What specific morals from what specific stories have worked?
    What do you mean by asserting they "work?"
    They survived. My hypothesis is that the archetypes and the morals that are widely distributed and prevalent in old literature that developed over millions of years exemplify ideals that humankind evolved for. Here's an example of the type of thing I mean:

    Why does the knight kill the dragon to save the virgin? Probably because our ancestors' survival came in part by adapting to a dominance hierarchy in which the bravest and strongest males -- who killed or figured out how to kill predators -- were sexually selected for by and reproduced with females. It can be extracted from this that discarding the morals of this story and others like it probably leads down a path of poor survivability and poor happiness (due to misalignment with natural being). If there is any moral that is objective amongst humans, it might be the kind we evolved for, the kind that aided our survival. How do we discover what those morals are? Old stories is one way.

    It should be noted that lots of old stories are probably poorly interpreted. For example, the traditional Christian view of the Garden of Eden is eating the fruit is a loss of innocence and a transgressing against literal father-God-creator. If we use Jordan Peterson's interpretation, which in my estimation is far more astute, the view of the story is along the lines of to see the snake in your own heart you have to open your eyes. The Bible and lots of other myths track this idea roughly, such that it appears the deepest moral for human survivability is some sort of amalgamation of the logos, of honesty, of sacrificing oneself for the greater good/truth.

    Seems like if the classics had it all sewn up, there would have been no side-track to anything else.
    They for sure do not have it all sewn up. Using what we can from archetypes and morals that are millions of years in the making is a good start.

    There's good stuff to interpret from old stories. There's a connection to people who lived eons before you facing similar difficult choices, finding love, failing at it, and finding new love.. etc.

    There's also ridiculously bad stuff in old stories. The Bible is full of rape stories, the old Greek tragedies are full of rape stories, etc.

    I agree broadly that there are common threads to humanity, but I don't agree that simply because something is old, it has intrinsic value, or that the value it claimed to have when it was originated is still the value it has today.
    I agree. My words are regarding caution towards discarding them so easily. I'm not saying you're doing that. I don't think you are. I do think contemporary western culture has sunk its head in the postmodern ground and stuffed ears full of sand by discarding old stories at large. The popular idea that humans are progressing to greater morality away from the caveman morality of the past is just not sophisticated enough for me.
    Last edited by wufwugy; 06-07-2017 at 04:10 PM.
  74. #74
    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    A) That's not what science does.
    I think I'll take advantage of having access to somebody who understands science better than anybody I know (you), and ask the question: how does "science tells us what is, not how to be" not an accurate characterization of science?
  75. #75
    I think I've let this conversation run long enough. Now it's time for spoilers.

    Yes, there is a god. I am it. That's not me being egotistical, it's just a fact. You're a god too, just not as good looking of a god as I am.

    Moving on. EL OH EL at this idea that science has anything to say about any of this. There's already an entire field of "science" that deals with human behavior. 99.9% of what they do are profit-motivated efforts to mitigate bad feelings. Almost none of what they do has anything to do with cultivating good feelings. Who the fuck would trust that?

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •