An interesting bit of history, which becomes much more revealing given the last news, is the misleading answer Obama gave to Jon Stewart last year concerning wiretapping and surveillance:
" STEWART: I think people have been surprised to see the strength of the Bush era warrantless wiretapping laws and those types of things not also be lessened—That the structures he put in place that people might have thought were government overreach and maybe they had a mind you would tone down, you haven’t.
OBAMA: The truth is we have modified them and built a legal structure and safeguards in place that weren’t there before on a whole range issues.
Yeah, you have "modified" them alright. One can only imagine what safeguards are those that allow such sweeping collection of data.
Comrade Anklebiter wrote:
These are great news. The unwholesome persecution of political activists has been pretty ruthless. Good that once in a while something like this happens.
Concerning the constitution: I understand what you're saying. But the problem I have with this is you cannot call something which is not a war a war just to be exempt of the difficulties associated with legal issues. Imagine if the same logic is applied to the "War on Drugs".
Yeah, I know what you mean. I don't think Obama is going to do anything of the sort either. But don't you agree that by establishing secret criteria for strikes, using drones in domestic security, punishing people who try to keep the government's actions accountable, all the tools are being put into place for that? It doesn't matter that Obama is not going to do anything of the sort, personally. He's giving a big step in the direction of furnishing the tools for someone down the road doing just that. And it doesn't even need to get there. It is already pretty bad without the doomsday scenario.
I'm starting to think that LazarX has no idea about what are signature strikes, since his mention of a specific named target directly contradicts the nature of signature strikes.
First of all this "War on Terror" stuff is absurd. You make war against nations and you prosecute individuals and gangs. But let's forget that for a while and go with the idea that you're at "war" against terror, same as "war" on drugs. I'll concede you even that, for the absurdity of these "signature strikes" does not depend on this discussion.
No, that is not what I think. What I think is that if your criteria for killing people is secret, you can kill whoever you like without need for consequences or review. At this point you basically have to blindly trust the guy who is wielding that power. And EVEN if you do, which I guess is a stupid stance to take, someone else will get that same power eventually. It's the secrecy and the falseness in play here. Have you actually seen how the WH is counting "militants" killed as in opposition to civilians? And you agree with that crap?
And what I don't want is that at some point in the future, other countries decide they can play the same game and start sending drones to kill "terrorists" in the middle of civilian populations.
Let us talk about "signature strikes", then. How about, "you fit some hazy profile, though we have no idea who you're" strikes?
And indefinite detention? Without review?
Edited for tone :p
It seems you took the bait here. If you reread the original post and my follow ups you'd see that I have done nothing of the sort. Comrade is exagerating, hopefully for the sake of humour. Wherever I was convinced I might have been wrong, I have pointed that out.
It is slowly becoming clear the debate tactics some people use: ignore posts which describe stuff you cannot defend or explain away and go for the easy jabs.
I guess Thoreau might have an idea or two...
You guys feel so powerless to stop your government from doing things you disagree with and you argue that the other side is so bad that it is basically a non-option. It means that there is no real choice but one, right? So how does it feel to be in a democracy that is working like this?
First, I have to say that, given the crappy mainstream media you guys have, being "fringe" is not that much of a downer.Second, it's a mistake to think the Republicans would criticize anything like this, because this is actually stuff you expect from them. They want to seem "tougher" than Obama, not softer so I don't think that would work so well, not with people going crazy with "national security";
Third, I'll concede the point I did not research this story so well. Maybe I already grew accustomed to what I've seen happening with the erosion of civil liberties that it did not strike me as particularly unbelievable. There're, however, the stories of Bradley Manning and Laura Poitras, which are not "small" and are being ignored by MSM. What about those?
That's not my point at all. As any citizen worried about the future of our world, I pay some attention to how things transpire in your country, given the power and influence it has and that it has been known to exert abroad. In my opinion, Bush's government was disastrous and I was very, very excited with Obama's election.
The thing is, as I watched things progress, I started to see that Obama was actively pushing a number of policies I could only expect from someone like Bush. And he is being quite successful, and is going practically unopposed in pushing those.
I can definitely see why you feel you have to vote for Obama again. I just think that if you guys feel so powerless in relation to what is possible to do to influence policies in your country, maybe there is something wrong about how things are working.
Just to be clear, I'm not naive or uninformed about this. I am just working under the assumption that some people there actually give a damn about this, are against this kind of behavior, and actually care if their elected representative uses their collective power to bully others.
I am not oblivious to these mechanisms either. I am talking about people, who, apparently, are aware of them and yet think that Obama is, in some way, not abusing people's propaganda-generated trust in the same way
I might have sounded a little naive, so let me express my ideas in another way:
There are indeed ideals to go back to, even if they never have been fully or even partly accomplished. The thing I sympathize with is not the "good things" the US did in its past (though there are some), but the lofty ideals which are present in its constitution. You can always strive for them. Unless, of course, we fall into a nightmare scenario where dissent is impossible.
To put it into the context of the topic at hand, unless you do want and are comfortable with a surveillance state which assassinates people abroad with no regard for concrete consequences and international law (It's good to be king, right?), I would think that a better evaluation of what Obama actually means to do and, more importantly, his ability to carry it out, would be important.
Bush was only able to carry out a good part of his worse policies because of the terrible tragedy that was 9/11. Without it, it is very unlikely that he would have the political muscle to be able to fight the opposition on his dangerous agenda.
Obama is in a different situation. He is a smart guy and he faces no opposition in his foreign policy/domestic surveillance programs, because the other party is basically ok with them. And Obama is being very cunning in the way he is implementing those things and not losing the support of his base. You are getting dangerously close to Oceania and applauding the guy for doing so.
There is one good thing of a Romney election: bad things your president does (which probably would be plenty) would be considered bad again. If Romney tried to send killer robots to murder people, allowed the wiretapping of whole communities based on their ethnicity and religion, searched peoples homes for political material, we would have people criticizing him for it instead of congratulating him on his strategic shrewdness.
To sum it up, unless you manage to escape your two-party system gridlock quickly, you will probably find yourselves in serious trouble.
Maybe you didn't read the report
Is this anything like life in US? I am not an american, but I hardly think so.
If you don't bomb families to pieces, then bomb people who try to rescue them AND don't ocuppy their countries, maybe there will be less people inclined to go through all those lenghts to do such things.
If the moral perspective on the issue cannot convince you, maybe the economics of it might: there are many life risks for human beings. Does the direct and indirect cost of gaining a modicum of safety against terrorist attacks is reasonable given that other much more present risks can be mitigated with a fraction of the money spent on purchasing weapons?
And for that modicum of extra safety you are ok to enable a surveillance state in your country? I remember someone in US having some words about trading liberty for safety...
And even that modicum of safety cannot be taken for granted after all this, because there is no available concrete evidence (except from speeches of government heads) that this is actually helping or not.
In terms of international law it sure seems illegal. Unless the US is some rogue state which can ignore such concerns or has declared itself Empire of the World I think it is pretty important. Specially if it wants to keep using international law to chastise other countries...
Yeah, you're probably as equally worried of being killed by terrorists as those guys with killer robots flying over their heads day and night...
Besides, everything is pointing to the direction that these strikes are actually helping terrorist recruitment by creating victims looking for revenge.
And the idea that it is legal for the US to attack unilaterally citizens from any country that they are not at war with simply by declaring that there is a terrorist among them is, frankly, ridiculous.
That "war is messy" line can only be used because the US is one of the few countries which have the capacity nowadays to wage so many wars while keeping the damage at its territory to a minimum. Do you think that the same cool posturing would be possible if enemy nations started sending drones after military in the us and killed lots of civilians while doing it?
Scott Betts wrote:
It really takes a special kind of trust to see a man:
a) ordering the killings of thousands of people in a country you are not at war with via remote control;
and even then, trusting deep down that this man has the best intentions without a mind reading machine.
And even if you're right and Obama is, in fact, a good guy, what will happen when some *sociopath* gets hold of the power Obama conveniently gave him by setting these sorts of precedents?
But notice the statement: "sometimes characters commit EVIL acts for the greater good". The fact that the intended outcome is good does not make that action less evil. Thus, good characters can, sometimes, make evil actions. How do we know that he is a good guy? Probably his actions will haunt him; maybe he'll revisit that day in his memory, looking for what he could have done differently in order to save the day without having to taint his soul.In other words, an evil act does not become good because it is done by a good person, or with good intentions.
The idea that you can torture sentient beings and remain in the "good" side makes good meaningless. If you define "hurting good people" as an evil action and "hurting evil people" as a good action you make "good" and "evil" just team names, devoid of meaning.
It is usually argued that usually evil beings first commit an evil act before the good guys decide to do the same to them. Well, this reduces the meaning of being "good" to "people that don't pick fights", because after it starts, they are as capable of doing crazy stuff to the other team as the evil guys.
Evil actions are evil. It is not a matter of who is on the receiving end of them.
We cannot even use Orwell's work as reference anymore because it has been surpassed by reality. Scary. I really hope you people sort this out before it starts spreading to more countries =/
There are no 'conclusions based on observation' without a good dose of rational thinking. Many philosophers tried to establish the conclusions you could derive and those you could not from a purely empirical standpoint (without other assumptions besides what we get from our senses). It is not as easy as it appears. For instance, after much work on it, it is well known that science is, quite clearly, NOT a purely empirical endeavour. The idea that science can be strictly defined as something like "man observes - man hypothesizes about the observed - man observes again to see if their hypotheses are correct" is wrong, for instance.
And pragmatism is a philosophical position. The fact that we live in a time where this position had already been thought through, appeared in books, influenced literature leads us to believe that it is the "natural" way we deal eith the world. It is not. Many societies without a codified pursuit of different philosophical positions did not and do not function based on the tenets of pragmatism. Not even our societies are completely pragmatists, and much of our knowledge and way of life derives from other types of philosophical positions.
I think he said 90% of philosophy was malarky and the good 10% was common sense.
I was talking about other poster (Darkwing Duck), but I re-read his post in context and it appears he was saying that some results in science may appear as common sense for the modern person, when it would not for people before those discoveries were made and accepted by society.
I agree. The universe is too weird for common sense alone.
Yes it is. And no amount of data collecting can lead to scientific knowledge.
You don't test random hypotheses. Something has to give you an idea that the hypothesis is true. Look at the discovery of LSD. The guy who discovered it was pretty sure that it was the chemical he was working with that was causing his hallucinations and not a bad lunch, tiredness, brain tumor etc. He had to test it to be sure though, so he delibrately dosed himself with it and he was right. (unfortunately the poor guy was less correct about the right dose...)
I presumed you were talking about this, but I wanted to be sure. You are scratching the surface here. Observations usually act merely as a motivator. Only rarely can one derive strict hypothetical statements from data. See, for instance, Newtonian Mechanics. Newton did not look at a bunch of data and created that set of hypothesis. In fact, the data used by Newton was very scarce. Observation cannot explain the construction of hypothesis in science. The role of observationial data in science comes AFTERWARDS, and it is never (or at least very, very rarely) purely observational in nature. All observation in science is "laced" with theory.The scientific method is much more fluid than we are led to think by textbook descriptions of it (which, of course, were first proposed by philosophers). It is a quite interesting intellectual endeavour to try to understand its logical and philosophical foundations. Many philosophers have tried to do exactly that and the result for those who decide to learn about it is a better comprehension of the activity. It is interesting even when the philosophers are wrong, because you end up seeing the process from other angles.
Philosophy doesn't help decide between different matters of thought either. Philosophy has been working on the existence of God for how long now?
From this quote I can tell that you are primarily concerned with "philosophy as a tool for verifying what is real and its behaviour". Well, tinkering with philosophical ideas throughout the ages led to the concept of a scientific method and it helped with this part of the problem. Philosophy already contributed to it. Now, try to use the scientific method to derive moral laws. Or understand art, knowledge, ethics and politics. You cannot, because philosophers did not design this tool for those activities. Philosophy, on the other hand has been used and is used for all those. And let me tell you, our history has been shaped in the way it has in great part, for good or evil, because of philosophical ideas.
Well, we've never not had realism. People have always known that stuff is here. What we haven't had is sola realism or only realism: the idea that this stuff is ALL we've got.
Yup, that is basically what I said, realism was here since forever. Though it's consequences were not thought out and made explicit for centuries. It is called naive realism, as in opposition to critical realism.
I agree that humans have this characteristic. But if scientific inquiry is natural, it should have ocurred to many people before thousands of years of human history came to be. One might argue we did not have the means then, and there were lots of 'scientific minds' waiting for the opportunities to create...
Experimental science is expensive. For the vast majority of human history we've been largely subsistance. We haven't had the ability to produce large numbers of "spare" people who are sitting around learning for their entire lives.
Well the greek high castes, for instance (and this is only an example), had loads of spare time. And they used it quite well, but not with science. The closest they had to it was 'natural philosophy', which ended up being quite important for science, but nowhere near in form to what we think of as science. So I have to disagree with the 'lack of time' explanation.
Furthermore the people we did have learning didn't talk to each other much. I don't think its a coincidence that the scientific revolution and the printing press* happened together. Ideas take a lot of people to form well. What one person thinks sparks something else in another person which someone else pass it on... people could stand on the shoulders of giants because the giants were shouting HERE I AM! in the light rather than hiding behind secrecy and ritual in the dark.
The press certainly helped A LOT the process. But it took at least two centuries for science to start taking the shape we came to know. And philosophers like Bacon and Descartes, and the 'natural philosopher/scientist' Galileo, all had an important role in taking the singular method used by astronomers with their own considerations to forge ideas which would shape our world forever.
There are few movements of world history which were not anticipated by philosophical ideas. The fact that many of those which helped forge the future acknowledge it should give you a hint that, perhaps, philosophy is not that limited, small, useless thing you have come to think. The very foundation of US law, its Constitution, was strongly inspired by philosophical thought.
This topic is itself a statement in favour of philosophy. Namely, it would help people who are interested in science, or even scientists themselves not to grossly misrepresent its logical foundations.
For instance, the claim that "science is solely based on observation" and that "science is basically an extension of common sense" could not be farther from the truth.
Science is a theoretical activity concerning reality. It implies a philosophical stance (namely, realism), whether the scientist likes philosophy or not, or he recognizes it or not. Many scientists and scientific-minded folks claim to follow or believe in sets of principles which are in fact based on the philosophy of positivism which is antithetical to the very scientific activity it tried to defend.
The failure to understand scientific activity in philosophical grounds led many scientists to make absurd assertions concerning their very job. This was most notable during the development of quantum mechanics.
Science as an area of knowledge demands a set of presuppositions and is guided by some logical imperatives which can only be properly understood by philosophical inquiry.
You appear to have the wrong idea about science. Evidence does not "prove" theories. It supports them. This is as true for Darwinian Evolution as it is for Electromagnetism or Newtonian Mechanics. Kirth just laid for you evidence which supports Evolution theory and you say scientists give it credit due to "blind faith".
Hill Giant wrote:
I also dislike the term "scientist". It implies that only certain people can do science, when in fact everyone does science (to various degrees of rigor). It also tells me nothing about the person, since it does not speak to how he or she applies science.
Well, we do need a name for our job ;)
I partially disagree with the "everyone does science" statement. The use of the scientific method, however loosely defined it might be, is implicit in the construction of scientific knowledge. It is, of course, possible to not have any formal degree, or education, and be a scientist (take Faraday as an example). But doing science is not something which is associated to all means of rational or empirical knowledge pursuit.
On the other hand, I completely agree with your second statement. The mere fact of being a scientist doesn't exclude the possibility of being sloppy or (worse) a moron.