• The Implication of Social Contract on Social Relations
    It is forced not directly, but indirectly in that not participating in these institutions is a non-starter.schopenhauer1

    er, one can argue that institutions are actually self-perpetuating and may not have the individual in mind so much as perpetuating the social contract.schopenhauer1

    One can also go the path of questioning whether institutions, hierarchies, governments, etc are justified to begin with. Is any harm or manipulation or coercion of the Other ever truly, infinitely justified (here we see the hypocritical and aggressive nature of affirmative normative ethics)? Such a negative perspective on political theory and life in general is almost always tossed out immediately as a "non-starter", as you said, because "life" is considered "immutable", "self-evidently valuable", "obviously worth continuing", etc. You can't exactly have a political theory of life if you reject the innocuous ethical view of life, or so it is assumed.

    Affirmative societies take Being to be intrinsically valuable (despite it being simply a hiccup in between non-Being), and yet simultaneously obscure it; in other words, to affirm Being requires the concealment of Being by these same institutions you are referring to. But life, Being, is indefensible. One must point to beings within life to justify life, or take the Nietzschean route and point out the contradiction inherent in rejecting the vital essence by use of the vital essence, "life's vengeance" so to speak, the way life affirms itself by denying the validity of the opposition.
  • Counterargument against Homosexual as Innate
    Just because it 'feels right' and it's not hurting anyone doesn't make the cut.
    Someone could presume that it's sinful and that it 'feels wrong' and that it will hurt the person/society/God/children.

    Right, but to live in society requires one to make compromises. I could just as easily say that I am offended and scared by followers of x-religion, and point out how following x-religion is entirely optional and voluntary, and claim that it of utmost importance that those following x-religion cease and desist or gtfo of my homeland.

    The fact of the matter is that individuality rests upon deviance, and that a society that promises individuality to its members must place limits on the expression of this deviant behavior. So long as someone is not a legitimate threat to the freedom of expression of yourself and everyone else in society, this person cannot seriously be prosecuted.

    Is there a way we can justify homosexuals?NukeyFox

    At any rate, your argument doesn't seem to be consistent. You say it's against homosexuality as innate, but really you're trying to point out an apparent inconsistency between the social reaction to two deviant behaviors, homosexuality and pedophilia/psychopathy.

    As far as I'm concerned, we shouldn't technically blame pedophiles or psychopaths for their harmful actions. But we live in society and as such these sorts of technicalities get thrown out as we end up focusing more on our rational self-preservation and the general well-being of the community. Like it or not, society will always be insufficiently moral, to whomever you talk to. It's just the way things are; people exist in close spaces and with limited resources and end up bumping and squishing and sliding and bouncing off each other as we all try our best to achieve our desires and fulfill our biological needs.
  • 7 New Earth-like Exoplanets Discovered, NASA announce
    Intelligent life!TheMadFool

    A contradiction in terms? lol
  • Justification for continued existence
    To ask such a question seems to presuppose not only that we have an adequate understanding of what personal identity is, but also that personal identity is concrete enough to be something that can be gained or lost.
  • The value of others' lives
    Perhaps the answer is more psychological than philosophical.TheMadFool

    I suspect this may be the case.

    Perhaps there's an absence of the implication of a personal defect in a general statement.TheMadFool

    Yes, interesting point. It is quite strange that we normally would be insulted by an attack on our personal dignity (say, if someone proclaims I am an insect (metaphorically)), but are not insulted when someone attacks the human race as a whole (we're all insects).

    Say a super powerful race of aliens zooms into our atmosphere and proclaims that the human race is quite a sorry lot and that we should stop expanding our civilization. Although I normally would actually agree with that statement, I nevertheless would be quite insulted by such a statement. Like, who are you to tell me that my life is not worth living, that's my job!

    But if the super powerful race of aliens comes with a message that all sentient life, not just human life but the alien life as well, is such-and-such and what have you, the sting goes away. It's as if, if someone admits that their own life is generally not worth living, it's no longer a serious transgression. It's more like a confession.

    How an idea like this is presented seems to be important, too. If I present empirical, factual accounts of the human condition but leave out any substantial value-laden claims, I'm not really doing anything wrong. But this also is a bit too open-ended; the pessimistic conclusion from the data is not presented. But if the conclusion is presented too forcibly, it suddenly becomes way too aggressive. It's as if sometimes philosophical accounts like this have to be presented in a certain way. There's an art to finding the right balance between honesty and respect.

    Perhaps a defining feature would be a passive evaluative claim. If I say "human existence is such-and-such", I am saying that I believe that human existence qualifies for whatever predicate I use. But there seems to be an element of passivity that prevents me from enforcing this evaluation. From my perspective I obviously believe I am correct in my evaluation, but I can't treat it as a factual claim, even if it is. For some reason there seems to be an ethical requirement that evaluative claims like this are held on a person-by-person basis, even if they objectively aren't subjective.

    Although this is a big blow to heart and mind it also opens up the possibility of finding a personal fulfilling, enjoyable subjective meaning to life. As an added bonus we also, despite the suffering that is real and unavoidable, find moments of happiness, no matter how fleeting how small, that make us feel our lives worth living.TheMadFool

    I agree, a certain aesthetic surrounding the paradoxical nature of human existence can be cultivated to make a pessimistic life meaningful. Perhaps there is no logical connection between the value of life and the factual descriptions of it. Without trying to be cliche, it would seem to be that life is what life is, but the interpretation of this, the essence of life, is up to the individual to decide.

    This also seems to be a decent argument for antinatalism - if I'm not morally allowed to tell people whether or not their lives are personally worth living, then surely nobody is allowed to force someone to live a life they may or may not feel is personally worth living. Of course, this is kind of a mask for the more fundamental issue, the disvalue of suffering, the same disvalue that I just said potentially isn't objectively shown to be of disvalue. Confusing.
  • The Shoutbox
    I remember reading this in an SEP article on a Buddhist philosopher, but I can't remember which one.
  • The Shoutbox

    Story time!

    I've actually been interested in the problem of universals for a while now, it was my very first substantial issue introduced to me when I began studying analytic metaphysics. At first, the idea of universals seemed mystical and strange, but that was only really because I hadn't ever considered why things were similar and different. The whole question of similarity was unanalyzed by me, back in the day, and so universals initially seemed very strange and awkward.

    After making my way through the first chapter or two of my intro book to analytic metaphysics, which were on universals, I read the next two chapters, which were on various nominalist positions. I was excited that maybe my suspicion of universals would finally be vindicated. But by the end of those chapters I was increasingly convinced that nominalism was just not adequate for a multitude of reasons.

    Afterwards I began studying "properties" in more depth, and I not only began to understand the positions in more detail but also saw the motivations behind the positions, which surprisingly enough were oftentimes political. For example, early Buddhists wished to cut ties with the Hindu caste system, and so they adopted an austere nominalism in order to undermine the idea that people have "essential" properties that "place' them in the caste they belong. Or the Aristotelian natural law ethic tradition, which ascribes teleological goals to substances that have certain (universal) properties. And then you have the modern-day SJW-types that like to pretend that there's no difference between having a penis and not having a penis, which is just batshit crazy. I also don't think the move to nominalism is even necessary to maintain social freedoms and whatnot.

    From my perspective, the tension between universal realism and nominalism, of whatever flavor, is largely due to a preconceived notion (desire) that the universe be a certain way. Universals, in my opinion, make sense and allow the universe to "hang together", however the admittance of such things can lead to sense that we have no freedom or that we're constrained or something. So nominalism pops up and tries to remove all universals from the world and locates them in the mind or in language or something like that. The dynamic arises between two extremes: mind-independent Platonic Forms and mind-dependent concepts or ideas.

    It's very interesting, to me, how the mere location of things has such a massive effect on worldviews. And it's also interesting, to me, because I think Platonism and nominalism are both extremes that try to cut reality down into a dualism of sorts, isolating one half of reality from the other, when I think they're actually deeply connected. I think someone like or would probably agree with me on this.
  • The Shoutbox
    It means I'm not a nominalist. I'm not sure what universals exist or how they instantiate themselves but I do believe that universals do actually exist, and that a hell of a lot of problems arise when this is denied.
  • A child, an adult and God
    Given the hard facts above wouldn't it be utter hubris and foolish to boot to claim one can understand god's mind?

    Does this argument refute the problem of evil?

    God moves in mysterious ways...Cowper

    No, because it begs the question.

    You claim one cannot understand God's mind. Yet by saying so, you claim to understand an aspect of God's mind - it's apparent inability to be understood.

    The religious leap of faith seems to be, then, that jump when someone recognizes the everyday, common-sense implausibility of what they believe, but also understands the technical internal coherence of the religion. That, despite the great chance of the opposite, it just might actually be correct. There's no way to rationally justify it. You just have to take the leap.

    Much of theology and theodicy are not really proofs of God's existence or goodness or whatever, but rather defenses against criticism. Apologetics. To show that a belief in God is technically compatible with whatever criticism is brought up. It doesn't prove anything definitively, it just shows that it's not entirely incoherent.
  • Utilitarianism and morality
    Per utilitarianism good is what makes us happy. Its apparent simplicity and appeal to our subconscious instincts (''happy'') makes the idea sound reasonable. However I think the issue is far more complex than that. If good is only about happiness then a serial murderer on a killing spree is good since he's doing what makes him happy. This clearly shows there's more to being good than just happiness.TheMadFool

    Some of us might be willing to bite the bullet and accept that the serial murderer's apparent happiness is "good" - at least, it's intrinsically good for the murderer. It's bad for everyone else.

    Good feelings are good feelings. Bad feelings are bad feelings.

    Another problem is the ''maximize'' and ''overall'' terms. It assumes we can quantify happiness in a meaningful practical way. I don't think that's possible. Also it commits the fallacy of appeal to majorit e.g. in ancient times the Carhthaginians performed child sacrifices and I'm willing to bet that the majority of Carthaginian folks thought the practice was at least acceptable. Yet child-sacrifice is unimaginable to modern sensibilities.TheMadFool

    The use of thresholds and priorities are helpful when "calculating" utility. Scanlon, I believe, argues that welfare ought to be measured in terms of resources. I prefer to measure utility based on freedom. The happy man can take care of himself. Those who are worse off typically are those who are not able to fulfill needs.

    Even though utility can be ambiguous, if you get a large enough gap it becomes quite clear when there is a difference in utility.

    Also, re the Carthaginian child sacrifices: the Utility Monster is a direct consequence of classical, positive utilitarianism. Negative consequentialists avoid this, although they have other issues they have to deal with themselves.

    After all a cursory glance at nature shows that it is ''amoral'' - unconcerned by human concerns such as morality.TheMadFool

    Yet saying nature is "unconcerned" nevertheless anthropomorphizes it, in the same way calling genes "selfish" or predators "merciless" ascribes some sort of agency to a non-agent (or is it a non-agent...?).

    No matter how hard we try, we will never be able to fully describe nature in a way that isn't tainted by human values. And if teleology is a real aspect of reality, then it stands that we might actually be coherent in calling some things in nature legitimately malignant or harmful.
  • Do arguments matter?
    So evidence seems much stronger than argument. However, absence of evidence doesn't equate to absence. Something can be true but unobserved or unobservable.Andrew4Handel

    But evidence is only strong when it is pieced together through rational deliberation. Observation doesn't just magically lead to knowledge. What we perceive has to be disassembled, reassembled, and interpreted. The same observation can be interpreted in many different ways. The way we move forward in inquiry isn't simply by making more observations, but by returning to the premises and analyzing those as well. Paradigm shifts.
  • Utilitarianism and morality
    Reviewing the fact that utilitarianism seeks the ultimate option that maximizes the overall happiness in society, Is there any place for morality?musimusis

    Utilitarianism is a moral theory. That we ought to maximize happiness (and minimize suffering) is a normative prescription.
  • The Shoutbox
    Nominalism needs to die. We should take it out back and shoot it, put it out of its misery.

    Also Leopardi's aesthetic of the spontaneous explorer is quite moving.

    That is all.
  • The experience of understanding
    A warning here - don't get all 'mystical' about it - stick with reality. You can imagine things, but know that it is most likely sheer make-believe. You can spend time, money, and energy testing them, if you think they are worth further investigation. but don't go playing the IS GAME - where you claim your speculations are correct without tests and verifications (unless your purpose is deception and fleecing people out of their money, like a celebrity guru).Numi Who

    I don't know why you seem to be so resistant towards metaphysics. This also isn't even metaphysics, it's an attempt at phenomenology, the science of consciousness from the first person perspective.
  • Metaphysics as art

    I don't get this, astrology isn't metaphysics, and metaphysics isn't astrology.

    I call it the 'IS GAME' - when you claim that your speculations are correct, for whatever knavish reasons (and there are many).Numi Who

    Hence why epistemically productive metaphysics is far more conservative and based upon dialectic and not just the speculation of a single mind.
  • Scholastic philosophy
    Interesting theory. In regards to how Christianity engenders atheism, I would qualify this and say that it engenders reactionary atheism. To get as far away from religion as possible by denying the existence of the most central doctrine of (most) religions. It's not based on perfectly rational inquiry, but more on skepticism motivated by social and political concerns. It's telling that modern atheists often try to appear suave and rebellious - they clearly aren't just responding to a philosophical view but are actively trying to separate themselves from what they see to be an oppressive and backwards aspect of society.

    Of course a lot of philosophical debates are really just masked politics. For example, the problem of universals is irrelevant to those who aren't specifically interested in it, unless of course someone claims things have essential universal properties that influence moral reasoning. Then you get thoroughly-nominalistic positions that are really implausible and aren't motivated by plausibility but simply a rejection of what is seen as the inevitable consequence of the acceptance of the alternative.
  • Resisting intrinsic ethical obligations
    Second-order morality takes its ground to be unquestionably justified, and as such suffers from inconsistencies, hypocrisy, aggressive-ness, and tendencies to compromise.
  • Resisting intrinsic ethical obligations
    This is understandable as it's not really a "thing" in moral philosophy. A first-order moral agent can act in first-order moral ways. A second-order moral agent can only recognize first-order morality, but can only act in a second-order, or bastardized first-order, moral way.