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  1. #141
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kadayi View Post
    You can physically demonstrate addition. Multiplication requires a person to engage with the abstract, and make a jump beyond the perceivable. Addition and multiplication are distinct concepts.
    And they're both abstractions. For instance, you can't add two apples and two oranges. One is simply dependent on the other. Sadly, because I don't have the ability to literally download thought into your head, this particular tangent ends here.

    outoffeelinsobad is in the right of it: You don't need to be Christian or human or a carbon-based life form for four times three to equal twelve.
    Last edited by Nalano; 23-05-2012 at 12:43 AM.
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  2. #142
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Fumarole's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by soldant View Post
    You can replace "faith/god" with "morality" and get a similar answer because there is no definitive, objectively-verifiable answer.
    Sam Harris disagrees and addresses this very topic in The Moral Landscape, which I just so happen to be currently reading. It's quite interesting and has made me think about morality in a way I never have before.
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  3. #143
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fumarole View Post
    Sam Harris disagrees and addresses this very topic in The Moral Landscape, which I just so happen to be currently reading. It's quite interesting and has made me think about morality in a way I never have before.
    With all due respect to Sam Harris, he can point to commonly-held moral concepts, but they are neither universal nor objective.
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  4. #144
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kadayi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by outoffeelinsobad View Post
    4*3 is 12 in any culture or lack thereof, just like 3 is a prime even if no one is around to point out the fact.
    I'm on about the abstract nature of the concept. You can slice it and dice anyway you want, but it's still an abstract that requires a cognitive leap of understanding beyond the immediate. The model only exists because we conceived it, and now subscribe to it. That wasn't always the case, or was it universal across all cultures.

    The ideas of love and morality, however, are essentially only narrative devices, which exist because we have to communicate with one another. That being said, and going back to what Soldant said, they can be addressed in a scientifically verifiable manner, unlike gods, by determining the relative well-being of conscious animals. Morality is not the same thing as a system of beliefs. This is something I've tried to explain to theists a few times, but I've yet to come up with a decent, short-winded explanation.
    What's 'well being'? have to do with 'love' exactly? Zen buddists seem to get by perfectly well without recourse to what many would view as the latter.

    Also, your relentless desire to be subtly belligerent is somewhat offset by your use of the word "chortle", Kadayi.
    Subtly belligerent? Is there even such a thing? I have to say that seems like an oxymoron. Perhaps alternatively your assessment of my character is simply off?

    For instance, you can't add two apples and two oranges.
    You can if you call them fruits.
    Last edited by Kadayi; 23-05-2012 at 01:34 AM.
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  5. #145
    Network Hub MD!'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fumarole View Post
    Sam Harris disagrees and addresses this very topic in The Moral Landscape, which I just so happen to be currently reading. It's quite interesting and has made me think about morality in a way I never have before.
    This sounds interesting. From a bit of Googling, though, I get the impression that Harris basically takes consequentialist, wellbeing-of-sentient-beings-is-the-fundamental-good moral principles for granted, and then points out that science can objectively point us toward the best way to live, given these principles. This accords pretty well with my beliefs, but I don't see a way around the fundamentally arbitrary nature of those initial assumptions. Anyone can reject my or Harris's entire moral edifice by rejecting its base, and telling us that they have a different idea of what truly matters. Am I wrong about his book? Does he really tackle the question of moral foundations?

  6. #146
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MD! View Post
    This sounds interesting. From a bit of Googling, though, I get the impression that Harris basically takes consequentialist, wellbeing-of-sentient-beings-is-the-fundamental-good moral principles for granted, and then points out that science can objectively point us toward the best way to live, given these principles. This accords pretty well with my beliefs, but I don't see a way around the fundamentally arbitrary nature of those initial assumptions. Anyone can reject my or Harris's entire moral edifice by rejecting its base, and telling us that they have a different idea of what truly matters. Am I wrong about his book? Does he really tackle the question of moral foundations?
    This basically sounds like Sociology 101, when students are introduced to utilitarianism. I remember freshman year. The topic kept changing after I pointed out that if "greatest good for greatest number" involves killing you, suddenly you're against it. That said, if you protest, we can ignore you because once you're dead you're no longer even part of the "number."
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  7. #147
    Network Hub MD!'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    This basically sounds like Sociology 101, when students are introduced to utilitarianism. I remember freshman year. The topic kept changing after I pointed out that if "greatest good for greatest number" involves killing you, suddenly you're against it. That said, if you protest, we can ignore you because once you're dead you're no longer even part of the "number."
    If I needed to be killed in order to avert the equally-painful deaths of two people who were equivalent to me in all of the relevant ways, AND that killing wasn't going to do more harm than good in the long run (e.g. by spreading fear and mistrust, encouraging other people to take the law into their own hands in harmful ways, weakening some useful human and social instincts, etc.), I would agree that it was right. I wouldn't submit to it, because I'm not a perfect moral being, and my will to live is too strong. But my disinterested moral opinion wouldn't change just because I was personally under threat.



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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    That said, if you protest, we can ignore you because once you're dead you're no longer even part of the "number."
    I don't think this is a meaningful objection to consequentialist/utilitarian thinking in general, but only to certain (silly?) formulations. (I know I'm just stating this rather than arguing it, but to argue efficiently I'd need to know a bit more about what you meant, and what you were arguing against.)
    Last edited by MD!; 23-05-2012 at 02:25 AM.

  8. #148
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MD! View Post
    If I needed to be killed in order to avert the equally-painful deaths of two people who were equivalent to me in all of the relevant ways, AND that killing wasn't going to do more harm than good in the long run (e.g. by spreading fear and mistrust, encouraging other people to take the law into their own hands in harmful ways, weakening some useful human and social instincts, etc.), I would agree that it was right. I wouldn't submit to it, because I'm not a perfect moral being, and my will to live is too strong. But my disinterested moral opinion wouldn't change just because I was personally under threat.
    And just like that, you see the political infeasibility of attempting to create an "objective" morality.

    Quote Originally Posted by MD! View Post
    I don't think this is a meaningful objection to consequentialist/utilitarian thinking in general, but only to certain (silly?) formulations. (I know I'm just stating this rather than arguing it, but to argue efficiently I'd need to know a bit more about what you meant, and what you were arguing against.)
    Slight tangent: A certain amount of any public school's budget must be spent, under the current rules of our illustrious mayor Marcus Crassus, on educational experts to teach the teachers how to be more effective. One such consultant came in and declared that the most efficient model would be that of a business, and his analogy was that of picking blueberries.

    The teachers' union representative raised her hand and asked what these efficient berry pickers did with the blueberries that were sour or discolored or over-ripe.

    "Throw them out, of course."

    "Ah. We can't do that."

    Any metric depends on what you count as the "population." Most atrocities, discrimination and general inequity are caused by the simple declaration that those who are victimized or disenfranchised under the system aren't people. Once you've decided that getting rid of me is for the greater good, you cease to take my view into it. Once I'm gone, you don't need to consider me in any further calculations, either: I can't vote from the beyond.

    Likewise, I hate our city planner with every fiber of my being because she's effectively defined away gentrification by neglecting to consider that people lived in the neighborhoods prior to her planning: Great for yuppies, sucks for everybody else.
    Last edited by Nalano; 23-05-2012 at 02:39 AM.
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  9. #149
    Network Hub MD!'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    And just like that, you see the political infeasibility of attempting to create an "objective" morality.
    Not sure whether this is directed against me, or just using my words to make a point, but as I said before, I can't see a way to reasonably assert the existence of an "objective" morality.

    Perhaps the best we can hope for is to find, and demonstrate to others, that our subjective moralities are more similar at their roots than is obviously apparent.
    Last edited by MD!; 23-05-2012 at 02:32 AM.

  10. #150
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Not a direct refutation of you, no; just a general comment.
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  11. #151
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    With all due respect to Sam Harris, he can point to commonly-held moral concepts, but they are neither universal nor objective.
    You have either not read the book, or so completely missed the point that you must have read it upside-down. I mean, that's the entire argument! It's where the phrase "moral landscape" comes from!
    Last edited by outoffeelinsobad; 23-05-2012 at 03:01 AM.

  12. #152
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by outoffeelinsobad View Post
    You have either not read the book, or so completely missed the point that you must have read it upside-down. I mean, that's the entire argument! It's where the phrase "moral landscape" comes from!
    It's almost like you didn't read any of the posts after the one you quoted!
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  13. #153
    Lesser Hivemind Node icupnimpn2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kadayi View Post
    Indeed. There's a bunch of concepts we believe in that can't actually be demonstrated, yet we subscribe to their existence as a matter of course. Most people buy into the notion of 'love' (even the Dawkins), but it's kind of arbitrary. Multiplication is a weird one as well. We all understand the concept, but you can't take 4 apples and 3 apples and physically make 12 apples out of them.
    Agreeing with Nalano is not my favorite past time, but you seem to be misunderstanding multiplication.

    The x sign isn't a magic box were you put things in, put other things in, and suddenly get way more than you had.

    Think of multiplication as a description. Say I have four apples. Say I have three baskets of four apples. How many apples do I have? Three physical baskets, four physical apples in each. There is no abstraction there. Twelve apples is the total.

    Your problem is that you're thinking of the three and the four as both describing apples, and that really doesn't make sense.

    Three baskets, four apples. Three baskets, four apples. Your new mantra. Three baskets, four apples.

    Same with division. Say there are 12 apples. I'm not going to take four apples out of 12 apples and suddenly be left with only three apples. I'm going to look at 12 apples and say, how many baskets of four apples can I make? Well, I can make three baskets of four apples.

  14. #154
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by icupnimpn2 View Post
    Agreeing with Nalano is not my favorite past time, but you seem to be misunderstanding multiplication.
    That sentence made me laugh out loud. Thank you. :D
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  15. #155
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kadayi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by icupnimpn2 View Post
    Think of multiplication as a description.
    The point is that multiplication is serial addition. It is mental shorthand. If the test were how did I arrive at 12 apples? then 3x4 or 4+4+4 are equally valid answers.
    Last edited by Kadayi; 23-05-2012 at 08:20 AM.
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  16. #156
    Network Hub MOKKA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    Maybe - just maybe - because the discipline has evolution in the title?
    I know it's probably a bit late, but I would love to see you elaborate on this a bit further.

  17. #157
    Network Hub Rakysh's Avatar
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    With the whole of the weird-ass world of maths available, why would you go with multiplication? Imaginary numbers, now they're unintuitive.

  18. #158
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MOKKA View Post
    I know it's probably a bit late, but I would love to see you elaborate on this a bit further.
    There's a whole spectrum of difficulty for Christians attempting to reconcile their faith with scientific studies: Physicists have it easiest. Biologists have it hardest.

    A Christian has two general choices when confronted with the quite obviously conflicting implications of the theory of evolution: Deny it in favor of the literal doctrine of the bible, or deny the literal doctrine of the bible in favor of the theory. Nowadays, most people choose the latter, but neither of those is a scientific choice: Both are political choices. In effect, from scientific creationism to intelligent design, Christianity has had to concede ground in a political stage in order to stay relevant in the conflict. Its struggles to find acceptable versions of evolution that it can find palatable are not steeped in science but in theology.

    As Christianity has nothing to add to this or any other scientific discipline, its influence is either neutral or regressive. Hence, there have been around 90 years of lawsuits in this country based on that conflict, from Scopes to today. They started from attempts to ban teaching of evolution, but have shifted to effectively have creationist doctrines taught alongside evolution or, as Dubya put it, "teaching the controversy" of the conflicting "theories." Aside from Scopes itself, just about every court battle has ended in a defeat on the side of the Christians, on the basis of the Establishment clause that government can't show favoritism to any one religion.

    The only thing that's changed in all this time is the shifting of tactics by Christian organizations to strip their theories of obvious theological references in order to effect legislation that undermines that clause. Again, such is a political choice, not a scientific one, as their goal is the same, and many have argued that this form of attack is really only explained by the Christian mandate to evangelize, which is why they're going after schoolchildren in the first place. In effect, faced with a flagging relevancy in the modern world, Christians and Christian organizations have attempted to retard the processes of science by politically hamstringing it.

    They do this in other fields, too - stem cell research comes to mind - but in general terms the conflict is the same: The scientific endeavors are in direct conflict with Christian doctrine, and Christians have either had to twist interpretation of Christian doctrine to accommodate such (leading to the greater irrelevancy of Christian doctrine) or they've taken to battle with it in the political arena. These competing doctrines are not scientific, but are the desperate measures of a sect being left behind.
    Last edited by Nalano; 23-05-2012 at 03:34 PM.
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  19. #159
    Network Hub Rakysh's Avatar
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    What about Christians in countries where there is no controversy and the Church isn't actively trying to get creationism taught? Rowan Williams I'm fairly sure came out explicitly against teaching anything but evolution in biology over here.

  20. #160
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rakysh View Post
    What about Christians in countries where there is no controversy and the Church isn't actively trying to get creationism taught? Rowan Williams I'm fairly sure came out explicitly against teaching anything but evolution in biology over here.
    The Christian doctrine either has a neutral or a regressive influence. Either it concedes ground or it obstructs progress.
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