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Tyris



Joined: 14 Apr 2008
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 11:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Asa wrote:
Don't be so literal, you know what I mean.
We really don't... and your subsequent explanation is making things even less clear.

Tamir wrote:
Many choices aren't clear-cut simply because we lack understanding and knowledge, and those are open to opinion.
That almost begins to make sense... you are saying that it is the situation which we are perceiving differently and thus try to apply different rules to it?

Gah, this is the kind of thing you need a whole brain to discuss.
*abandons topic and jumps into a lifeboat*
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Asa



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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 11:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry. I think the problem might be that you're thinking about it on a physical level, and I'm thinking about it on a spiritual level. Yes?
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Tamir



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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 11:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tyris wrote:
That almost begins to make sense... you are saying that it is the situation which we are perceiving differently and thus try to apply different rules to it?

Yes! ^_^ I'm saying that we mostly agree on morality (though we may not agree that we agree on morality?), but since we perceive the situation differently we think different things are correct and moral.
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theBSDude



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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 11:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm thinking about it on all levels. I'm of the belief that there's no real separration between spiritual and physical. If you believe in an intelligent Creator, then the physical world is a logical extention of the spiritual world. If you don't believe in a Creator, than the spiritual world is an abstract reflection of the physical world. If a discussion like this is going to work, then all parties have to be willing to admit that, as of yet, there is no way to prove anything. Maybe in the future we'll be able to quantify spiritual matters (we might be getting close), but until then, we can't really know.
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Nem



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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 8:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tamir wrote:
I'd like to argue that choices do indeed have an existance of their own. When a human body can do two different things, and does one rather than the other, something made it do so. Whether that's a few particles in the brain or whatever else, it still exists and has an observable effect on the world. These are the things I am assigning morality to.
Note - the existence of choices is entirely dependent on the existence of free will. If you remove free will, then choices would either be everything or nothing. My definition of choice is in a being with free will.

So if you were to destroy all sentient life, there would be no choices, but that doesn't mean that assigning morality to the choice is the same as assigning it to the agent. A single agent may have many choices, and each one has its own morality.

As someone studying to be a physicist, I find that statement quite bothersome. We do not know that there are scientific (mathematical) laws which govern the interactions of matter and energy. We think and hope so. We empirically prove so, but that's not real proof. For all we know, the universe is random, and we just happen to be fooling ourselves into seeing patterns.

That said, free will may well be possible within the confines of physics as we know it. Newtonian physics had no place for it, but quantum theory leaves large gaps. We treat particles as probability waves without knowing what ultimately chooses the result we obtain.


As someone who hasn't really had any formal instruction in science. (Don't need much science to go and be a dog of the government ^_^) I don't see how that profits you. Yes in quantum physics we don't know but assuming that the universe isn't random it still has to be something causing it. And if it's caused, well what more moral a bearing does that have than a rock getting rolled down a hill? The rocks actions have a cause, and that cause rather removes any moral responsibility from the rock. Now if you'll forgive the gramatical hash I'm about to make of this next bit:

If the decisions of a free will have cause then that will is not really free being no more than a subject to its various causes and has no more moral bearing than the aforementioned rock falling down a hill.

If the decisions of a free will have no cause then they're simply random occurences. And what moral worth does random chance have?

If a free will falls somewhere inbetween these two points, which seems impossible but for the sake of argument, then what morality does mixing two things void of morality yield?

CBB wrote:
Now, in a society where lying is allowed, is it guaranteed that all those terrible things would happen? Of course not. But how would you know?


It's called trust because you don't know. Indeed some of the train crashes in England have been caused by what can only be described as gross negligence with a side of lies. Morality doesn't provide a surety against lying, or murder, or theft; you never really know. That's why we have consequences like a legal system in place to provide a greater degree of surety, at the end of the day we trust in force to keep us safe from others misdeeds, not morality for all it might be useful to control the masses.

Many societies share these ideals but it's not because they're right or wrong but simply because they're practical, and there seems little reason that these things should be allowed a higher moral standing than any other act of practicality. Rather than saying these things are wrong of themselves we're simply advised against an excess of them. If you can overcome the mental conditioning that places them on the individual, or simply never develop it in the first place then as long as it doesn't completely destroy the society you're in it automatically becomes allowed to you. The individual can murder as long as they don't kill too many, can lie when it's convenient but not all the time, can steal but not in excess; just as long as they don't make it become a universal rule.

It's not even ultimately the things themselves that are morally wrong under this account, simply that the practicalities of their universal implementation might be unpleasant to many. That given what moral impact should practicality have other than to say it is prudent to do certain things, to perhaps yield to a greater force? As Rousseau pointed out if a man accosts him armed with a pistol and asks him to surrender his money for sure it's an act of practicality to do so but in what sense can it be a duty? For if it is a duty then all that matters is to set yourself in a position such that you can get away with disobedience and you instantly becomes justified to do so. The destruction of society is the pistol in this example, for sure it's a force but in what sense does it exact a duty?
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Squeeself



Joined: 23 Mar 2008
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 26, 2008 4:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nem wrote:
If the decisions of a free will have no cause then they're simply random occurences. And what moral worth does random chance have?


Dark Knight Spoiler (highlight to read): Apparently quite a bit if you're Harvey Dent...

Sorry, couldn't resist that one. The movie does have some interesting things to say on morality though Smile
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theBSDude



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PostPosted: Sat Jul 26, 2008 3:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How many of you are familiar with the theories of psyco kinesis (PK)? It's scientifically proven that people can influence their environment by what can only be described as "force of will." ESP and simple Luck have also been proven, certain people are capable of consistently beating the odds of carefully controlled and monitored tests. My theory is that our bodies are essentially extremely advanced machines, running on instinct and chemicals like binary code. A person's conciousness (or soul, if you prefer) exists in semi-independence from their body, controlling it by a means similar to PK. PK abilities require training to perfect, but if our souls begin practicing at birth (or perhaps before, as shown in ultrasounds), then the ease of control over our bodies is not much of a stretch. This doesn't have much to do with the nature of morality, but it is my reasoning for applying morality to human behavior, rather than blaming chemical reactions.
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Tamir



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PostPosted: Sat Jul 26, 2008 6:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nem wrote:
If the decisions of a free will have cause then that will is not really free (...)
If the decisions of a free will have no cause then they're simply random occurences.

Um. Can you not imagine a cause that isn't governed by a mathematical equation? One that isn't entirely predictable? One which is, y'know, free?

Besides, this isn't an argument about free will. This is an argument about morality. Obviously if there's no free will, then morality is moot. So if we're going to stay on topic, you need to assume that free will exists. Razz

Nem wrote:
As Rousseau pointed out if a man accosts him armed with a pistol and asks him to surrender his money for sure it's an act of practicality to do so but in what sense can it be a duty? For if it is a duty then all that matters is to set yourself in a position such that you can get away with disobedience and you instantly becomes justified to do so.

Neglecting some small side-points, I would say that it is indeed a duty. But setting yourself in such a position purposely just to be able to disobey is immoral, so taking your actions together, you were not justified.
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Nem



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PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2008 2:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tamir wrote:
Nem wrote:
If the decisions of a free will have cause then that will is not really free (...)
If the decisions of a free will have no cause then they're simply random occurences.

Um. Can you not imagine a cause that isn't governed by a mathematical equation? One that isn't entirely predictable? One which is, y'know, free?


I can imagine such a thing but it's random and random has no moral value. If it's caused then it follows laws of causation, if it's not it's random. And like I said: the two extremes don't really make freewill meaningful so why would anything inbetween make it so? It's like if you've got zero, whatever multiple you make of zero is still going to be zero.

Tamir wrote:
Besides, this isn't an argument about free will. This is an argument about morality. Obviously if there's no free will, then morality is moot. So if we're going to stay on topic, you need to assume that free will exists. Razz


My point was that morality is essentially moot, relating more too whether it makes you look like an unpleasant person than any real right or wrong. Razz


Tamir wrote:
Nem wrote:
As Rousseau pointed out if a man accosts him armed with a pistol and asks him to surrender his money for sure it's an act of practicality to do so but in what sense can it be a duty? For if it is a duty then all that matters is to set yourself in a position such that you can get away with disobedience and you instantly becomes justified to do so.

Neglecting some small side-points, I would say that it is indeed a duty. But setting yourself in such a position purposely just to be able to disobey is immoral, so taking your actions together, you were not justified.


Most of the examples of the conventional horrors of humanity are then legitimised by force and the actions that were taken to end them condemned as immoral. If force makes right, compels not only an act of prudence but one of a duty and that duty not only to obey but never to escape that obedience, then morality simply means a world enslaved.

Though that said there seems little reason to accept the argument that while force makes right we should be forbidden from reaching for that force ourselves, presumably by some other moral precept asides from force which would rather defeat the original statement that it was force and a prudent approach thereto which compelled obedience and not some other moral precept.
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Squeeself



Joined: 23 Mar 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 29, 2008 12:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

theBSDude wrote:
How many of you are familiar with the theories of psyco kinesis (PK)? It's scientifically proven that people can influence their environment by what can only be described as "force of will." ESP and simple Luck have also been proven, certain people are capable of consistently beating the odds of carefully controlled and monitored tests. My theory is that our bodies are essentially extremely advanced machines, running on instinct and chemicals like binary code. A person's conciousness (or soul, if you prefer) exists in semi-independence from their body, controlling it by a means similar to PK. PK abilities require training to perfect, but if our souls begin practicing at birth (or perhaps before, as shown in ultrasounds), then the ease of control over our bodies is not much of a stretch. This doesn't have much to do with the nature of morality, but it is my reasoning for applying morality to human behavior, rather than blaming chemical reactions.


K, Squee's gonna call this one out. Peer-reviewed sources please. Seriously, ESP/Luck/Psychokinesis/soul/etc. has NEVER been proven by science, at least by any reputable scientists, with double-blind tests, following the scientific method and all that entails (reproducability, empirical data, etc.) It's not that science says these don't exist (science can't prove they don't); just that as far as Squee is aware, they've NEVER been proven to any degree. Please prove Squee wrong here. Cause if anything you mentioned WAS proved in science, it would be HUGE news in many a circle.

That's not to say that other interesting effects of the mind haven't been proven (but not fully explained). The placebo effect being a prime example or something that's a known proven in science, although no one knows what causes it yet. If you wanna call the cause the soul, by all means do so, but science hasn't discovered the existence of soul yet. (Who knows? One day it might.)

Sorry, but if there's one thing that gets Squee's hackles raised, it's pseudo-science.
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CBB



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PostPosted: Tue Jul 29, 2008 1:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nem wrote:
Morality doesn't provide a surety against lying, or murder, or theft; you never really know. That's why we have consequences like a legal system in place to provide a greater degree of surety, at the end of the day we trust in force to keep us safe from others misdeeds, not morality for all it might be useful to control the masses.


Of course morals don't provide a surety, but they do stabilize societies so that they can exist. Force is useful to reinforce morals, but a murder victim is going to take little comfort in the fact that their killer will be punished. They trust that the murderer won't kill them in the first place. And in the end, there is only so much force that any society can apply before it exhausts its resources. It must depend on the masses controlling themselves. There may be 3 million soldiers and between 15-20 million policemen in the United States, but that leaves 277 million people, or a ratio of 12:1.

Nem wrote:

Many societies share these ideals but it's not because they're right or wrong but simply because they're practical, and there seems little reason that these things should be allowed a higher moral standing than any other act of practicality. Rather than saying these things are wrong of themselves we're simply advised against an excess of them. If you can overcome the mental conditioning that places them on the individual, or simply never develop it in the first place then as long as it doesn't completely destroy the society you're in it automatically becomes allowed to you. The individual can murder as long as they don't kill too many, can lie when it's convenient but not all the time, can steal but not in excess; just as long as they don't make it become a universal rule.


Darn it, you picked right up on the weak point! XD I don't really have an argument against it, because it's true. Being human, we all do it, to one extent or another, even murder in indirect ways, by withholding funds from the poor or needy. But even though we do not adhere to morals 100%, does that mean that they don't exist at all?

And...I'm sorry, but I've read that last paragraph five times and I don't understand it at all. It breaks my brain!
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theBSDude



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PostPosted: Tue Jul 29, 2008 2:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

@squee: I've heard a few people talk about this kind of thing. I should have checked their sources myself, but I'm extremely lazy.

Actually, I have an arguement for the side of nebulous morality. Specifically, sometimes it's good to lie. I'm an engineer. Companies want to save money and use the least amount of material as possible. Unfortunatly, that kind of strategy leads to collapsing bridges, unstable ceilings, and thin rad protection. Part of the job of designers is convincing the clients that the minimum requirements are quite a bit higher than they actually are.

Edit: Magical post merginess - Nem
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Maeniel



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PostPosted: Tue Jul 29, 2008 3:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Asa wrote:
Morality doesn't apply to animals - they don't have free will. They can't make choices, they react on instinct. So because of my higher-functioning brain, I can handle such concepts as morality.


Mmmmm.... I have to disagree, at the very least on the free will part. I think that animals are incredibly intelligent--more so than we give them credit for. I don't think I know enough to say whether or not an animal has something like morality, but you have to wonder if there's something there. Animals can and will make their own choices--they can at the very least have personal preference on the kibble they eat, and will switch it up when they get tired of it. Then you get into incredibly stories like dogs that drag their owners out of a burning building when they could easily escape themselves--and you get stories where the dogs do indeed escape the fire and leave their owners to die. Is that any different than the human dilemma of self preservation vs. self sacrifice?

Tam: I'm gonna go with Nem here and say that as far as free will in general goes, I'm not sure if I believe it. I think that one molecule will hit one molecule, propelling it in this one direction so that it hits this other molecule which will propel it in another direct. And the cycle continues. If you hit one thing with another, it's going to go in a specific direction depending on what angle you hit it at and what forces are already in place (gravity, IMFs, etc). So really, randomness is just our inability to perceive these incredibly complex games of pool that the molecules are playing.

Now translate that to morality. You're going to do what you're going to do because chemistry and physics demand it. That means that you're going to steal/kill/lie/etc because chemical reactions in your brain compel you to. And you're going to justify it. You can't escape it.

Now that isn't meant to be nihilistic. I believe I'm a "good" person, and I strive to be the best person I can be. I just think that our personal moral codes (and the general populace's conception of morality) was predetermined when the universe was born and quarks, leptons, bosons, atoms, molecules, and the rest of matter/energy was born. We (and our actions) are all just a mess of chain reactions.
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Tamir



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PostPosted: Tue Jul 29, 2008 6:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maeniel wrote:
Now that isn't meant to be nihilistic. I believe I'm a "good" person, and I strive to be the best person I can be.

I'm annoyed that I lack the time to write a proper post in this thread (I write slowly). Hopefully tomorrow. In the meantime, curiosity begs me to ask - why are you a "good" person? Why aren't you Nihilistic? And don't say "my atoms compel me", though I doubt you would have. With your pseudo-free will, why do you choose to be "good"? What is "good" to you?
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YatesOfYore
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2008 12:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maeniel wrote:
... Animals can and will make their own choices--


Maeniel wrote:

Tam: I'm gonna go with Nem here and say that as far as free will in general goes, I'm not sure if I believe it. ... You're going to do what you're going to do because chemistry and physics demand it. ... You can't escape it.

... I just think that our personal moral codes (and the general populace's conception of morality) was predetermined when the universe was born and quarks, leptons, bosons, atoms, molecules, and the rest of matter/energy was born. We (and our actions) are all just a mess of chain reactions.


I see someone likes to have his cake and eat it too. Wink

Despite being a religious person, I generally believe that predetermination is a load of bunk, regardless of what angle you're coming at it from. Sure, there are genetics and whatnot that compel a person to do certain things - I wouldn't argue that there's not. But to sum up our entire existance into a "mess of chain reactions" is to dismiss what makes us what we are: our sentience. We make choices beyond what our instincts and genetic structuring demand of us. We can fight back, in a sense, against both nature and nurture. That's what makes us "human", I think.

(And even though it's rather after the fact, I should just like to comment that I found Nem's argument that morality is often just the name we give to standardised practicality to be very ... astute. Yes, that word will do.)
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Last edited by YatesOfYore on Thu Jul 31, 2008 2:14 pm; edited 2 times in total
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