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The first principle of Unitarian Universalism: Is it soggy?


Off-Topic Discussions

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Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Charlie Bell wrote:
Are you suggesting the use of mirrors as a benchmark of sentience? ;p

They are a benchmark of self awareness, which is a somewhat different question. It's a measure of whether an animal can think "I hurt" instead of "It hurts"


Evil Lincoln wrote:
meatrace wrote:
Just because you haven't seen them doesn't mean they haven't done it.
I think that in this case, though, any exception that exists works in my favor, no? If a cat does not make this mistake, then that is some kind of awareness.

Possibly, but how can we be sure? See 3rd link above re: "mark test"


jocundthejolly wrote:
CourtFool wrote:
Again, we would have to define 'respect'. As I understand it, many native American cultures 'respected' animals and yet they ate them.
Would respect mean that we are obligated to prevent infanticide, coercive copulation, and warfare among what used to be called higher primates?

You mean the Chinese? Oh…oops. (bashful smile)


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Andrew Turner wrote:


Sorry, Samnell--I really meant this tongue-in-cheek. I made a study of Continental philosophy because no-one in the US does...but I despise Kant (as do all the good philosophers of the last 200 years;-).

Nonetheless, I understand and agree with your remarks. As a physicalist, it's all highly organized meat and electricity to me.

You know, I've tried a few times but Kant just doesn't make much sense at all to me. Way back in Intro to Philosophy the prof started on about the brilliance of synthetic a priori and I just blinked and said, "What?" But the same guy felt compelled to give us a stirring defense of Aquinas on the grounds that were he alive today he would still be a Catholic apologist. I suppose he knew this from consulting with Aquinas's corpse, but he never told us how exactly he came to learn such things. Anyway, we were to believe this was admirable.

We didn't bother much with moral philosophy, which probably would have been way more entertaining than all the ontology that went out the window with Newton, but I know I'm not wired for deontology. Little I've read on it even seemed coherent, let alone moral except by accident.

Andoran

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Deontology works as long as you can accept that somethings are right and wrong just because.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
TriOmegaZero wrote:
Deontology works as long as you can accept that somethings are right and wrong just because.

That's about all I've been able to get out of it too. Reducing morality to inherently meaningless categories just seems, you know, the exact opposite of what one would want in a moral philosophy.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
Deontology works as long as you can accept that somethings are right and wrong just because.

Yeahhhh. I can't.


I don't know. Torture? I'd say that's exhibit A for "somethings wrong just because". You do realize you don't have to accept a whole list, just one thing is enough. If torture doesn't do it for you, how is a government nuking its own population? Wrong just because, or things you need to discuss before you can condemn it? Selling radioactive waste packaged as breast milk substitution?

Everyone has a limit, if you go far enough. Deontology is accepting that that limit exists.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Sissyl wrote:

I don't know. Torture? I'd say that's exhibit A for "somethings wrong just because". You do realize you don't have to accept a whole list, just one thing is enough. If torture doesn't do it for you, how is a government nuking its own population? Wrong just because, or things you need to discuss before you can condemn it? Selling radioactive waste packaged as breast milk substitution?

Everyone has a limit, if you go far enough. Deontology is accepting that that limit exists.

If we free to condemn without discussion, what does that say about the merit of the condemnation?


Charlie Bell wrote:


Corporations aren't people, but they are groups of people. I think a lot of people who are anti-corporate forget that. You can't harm a corporation without harming its stakeholders, by which I mean shareholders, employees, suppliers, and customers.

I don't think people hate the individuals involved in corporations, nor do I think they intend people who could well be their neighbors any harm. The question is not whether the individuals who work for corporations are worthy people. It is whether corporations themselves - with their incredible power, wealth, and influence, not to mention potential for destruction - ought to enjoy a greater influence and voice in the halls of power, than individuals do. Since you seem to understand that corporations are not people in and of themselves, you ought to understand why the rights and protections of the individual ought to come before those of a very powerful - and again, destructive - corporate entity.

I'll break that down into something more easily understandable.

If I were exempt from laws against polluting and littering, could dump toxic crap into your kitchen sink on a whim, got to file my taxes offshore so that I paid a pittance, shut down all of my American businesses to reopen them in other countries with no regard to the jobs lost here, got off the hook for my shoddy record keeping, made a mint in the stock market, then pulled everything out based on insider trading, and broke about fifty other laws every day, but not only was exempt from punishment due to a slew of technicalities but then also got more tax breaks and stimulus money from the government, you might get upset that I got more time from my senator or congressman than you did. That time means I am likely getting what I want, which is going to be more of the same above, while you, not to put too fine a point on it, get to suck it.

"Corporate Personhood" as a legal fiction definitely has its place. It allows corporations to bind others to contracts, and to sue and to be sued and so bound. And that is good. But in terms of how much a corporation can influence politics via media and their endless bucks, as was the issue with Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, there is a disparity that I think anybody can see. Corporations hold incredible influence, based on monetary contributions hardly any single other citizen can match (unless he happens to also be the head of a corporation). Thus, through use of money and influence, corporate entities representing the rights of only a handful of individuals, can end up deciding huge issues for vast numbers of citizens, who even together can find themselves without a say in it.

It's an effective means of keeping the majority enthralled to the minority. Or, an obvious analogy for, and likely cause of, the terribly lopsided distribution of wealth in this country, where some dude with the right connections might find himself earning tens of millions a year to just prop his feet up on a desk, while the lowest guy on the totem pole earns a pittance from that guy, handling the most dangerous substances in the world, and having much more understanding of, and experience with, the business the company they represent, is involved in.


Samnell wrote:
Sissyl wrote:

I don't know. Torture? I'd say that's exhibit A for "somethings wrong just because". You do realize you don't have to accept a whole list, just one thing is enough. If torture doesn't do it for you, how is a government nuking its own population? Wrong just because, or things you need to discuss before you can condemn it? Selling radioactive waste packaged as breast milk substitution?

Everyone has a limit, if you go far enough. Deontology is accepting that that limit exists.

If we free to condemn without discussion, what does that say about the merit of the condemnation?

Is there then NOTHING that would make you consider someone's actions despicable, given that you know enough about them to judge, even if you can't discuss it with someone else first? Is there NOTHING you would not do, merely due to a desire to be able to look yourself in the mirror? We humans (most of us, anyway) have a very fine-tuned and important system of social interactions, including guilt and shame. And yes, if I knew that a CEO made the decision to start selling radioactive waste as milk substitution, that would indeed colour my view of him/her sharply. Can you honestly say it would not do this with you?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Sissyl wrote:


Is there then NOTHING that would make you consider someone's actions despicable, given that you know enough about them to judge, even if you can't discuss it with someone else first?

If I know enough about them to make any judgment I'd consider worth making, I'd have already done the work. While we can't foresee every possible event, the likely range of human despicably is fairly well-attested in history and in our daily lives. A government nuking its own citizens is just a class of violence, differing not that much from strategic bombing and differing only in scale from things like police brutality. It's easy enough to analyze it, realize it's the same stuff, and apply the judgments worked out previously to obviously applicable cases.

Really you would have to come up with some situation utterly without possible parallel, alien to our experience, completely sui generis. Faced with that unnamed and perfectly singular scenario I think the import of discourse would be at its absolute highest. It's the least likely place for me to accept "just because" as a condemnation.

Sissyl wrote:


We humans (most of us, anyway) have a very fine-tuned and important system of social interactions, including guilt and shame.

Which are only reliable if we assume the cultural baggage and the crazy sparky meat in our skulls we inherit is are infallible guide to morality, since it's what creates guilt and shame alike. Why would we think that about morality when we ought not think it about anything else? Surely you've had misplaced feelings of guilt and shame before. I know I have. Even a person who somehow worked without acquiring culture (in which case that person is probably a vegetable, but for the sake of argument) human emotion is about the least reliable thing ever. We're not omniscient or infallible, so we're always going to need another brain on the job. And we are the easiest people for ourselves to lie to.

Sissyl wrote:


And yes, if I knew that a CEO made the decision to start selling radioactive waste as milk substitution, that would indeed colour my view of him/her sharply. Can you honestly say it would not do this with you?

Sorry, but your example's no good. I don't need to discuss a corporation poisoning people because it's already been done. The harm is obvious. It's right there in the word: poisoning. So I'd think less of your CEO, but I'd think less of him for actual reasons and that's the exact opposite of "just because". Furthermore, since I have those reasons (which I can lay out but I'm guessing they're obvious) if it turns out they're crap, I can toss them and change my position.

What kind of data coming in could make my flip my position around:
1) The only alternative to nuclear milk is something even worse. (Say it's drink nuclear milk or be tortured forever. Or it's the only way to save a small percentage of people from a disease actually more lethal than the radiation poisoning.)
2) The people drinking the nuclear milk know it's poison and are drinking it because they really want to die that way.
3) It turns out that radioactive waste isn't actually a poison, despite a century plus of really strong evidence that it is.

And probably other things that don't immediately come to mind. Are these situations all likely to occur? No, but we make judgments based on balances of probabilities all the time and we should be honest about doing so.

Shadow Lodge

Samnell wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
Deontology works as long as you can accept that somethings are right and wrong just because.
That's about all I've been able to get out of it too. Reducing morality to inherently meaningless categories just seems, you know, the exact opposite of what one would want in a moral philosophy.

have you considered clonkism?

I don't like being hit in the head.

From the way other beings act, they don't like being hit in the head either.

If other people shouldn't hit me in the head, then i shouldn't hit other things on the head either.

Shadow Lodge

What if someone likes being hit on the head?


TOZ wrote:
What if someone likes being hit on the head?

That is fine as long as they do not expect special privileges like being allowed to marry.

Shadow Lodge

TOZ wrote:
What if someone likes being hit on the head?

Well thats what it comes down to. What is the general underlying principle about being hit in the head?

Its that its something that I don't like.

You don't do things to sentient beings that they don't like. Its not that there's any divine mandate, its simply that there isn't usually any good cause to violate the wishes of another being. (but it happens)

arrrr.. these be guidelines. Not rules.

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