• L'éléphant
    1.5k
    Is the real world fair and just? — Gnomon

    Yes; however, we h. sapiens have not been "fair and just" enough – too often at all – to one another for the last several (recorded) millennia at least.
    180 Proof

    The world is not fair and just because some people are unfair and unjust hence why we have a justice system for serious breaches of injustice.kindred

    Is unfairness or injustice really just the product of human action? Nature is not created equal or fair, and as a result, some human population had fared better than others.

    So do we only address those unfairness caused by human actions? Or do we also address those that are the products of the natural world? Our judgment of fairness and justice clearly has a physical foundation -- whether caused by civilization or by the natural world.
  • 180 Proof
    14.7k
    Nature is not created equal or fair, and as a result, some human population had fared better than others.L'éléphant
    From a human perspective, non-human nature can seem "unfair and unjust" ... to some less fortuitous "human populations".
  • L'éléphant
    1.5k
    From a human perspective, non-human nature can seem "unfair and unjust" ... to "some human populations".180 Proof

    Please provide an example.

    So, if a volcano is about to erupt -- being that a volcano eruption is totally non-human caused, and the lives of people living nearby are in danger. Would you do something about helping those people? If so, what is your reason for helping? Is it because you don't want them to die?
  • apokrisis
    6.9k
    You and I can choose Gaussian or scalefree -- but that's not the philosophical question. the question is: Which do you choose?Moliere

    This is a quite normal political question. Any fool would say we want a society that is balanced, fair, equal and just. The question then becomes well which version of a society is that which you have in mind? One that is steady-state or one that exponentially grows?

    On the whole, folk have voted for growth. And yearned for steady state. They want 3% as a basic forever rate of economic improvement and then they bellyache at the yawning inequality gap that such a regime creates simply as its equilibrium outcome. They remember the good old days when incomes were almost Gaussian flat. The good old days being the post-war anglosphere and not the pre-industrial era when GDP had flat-lined for millenia.

    So there is the moral conundrum. The physical world foots the entropic bill. Fossil fuels are the explosive basis of modern economics and its scalefree social complexification. Peasants and serfs can now be pickleball professionals and influencers.

    We are theoretically all equal in terms of being able surf the same entropic wave gushing through human affairs. We all have the same starting opportunity just by being born into a deregulated entrepreneurial modern society, especially now there is the scalefree information medium of the internet to let anyone and anything "go viral".

    But then we have the bellyaching that goes with wiring ourselves for accelerationism – the wonders of exponential growth. Maybe the fossil fuels aren't such a free lunch and have an eco-services cost we never factored in. Maybe psychologically humans are still genetically programmed for the non-growth economics of stone age foraging. Fair and equal take on a different meaning within a different context of expectations.

    Yesterday, the right was for every mouth around the campfire to have a feed. Three boxes for the adult and one for the child.

    Today the right of every person is to be an influencer and star of their own superstar life. Equality comes in the form that the medium rewards the dipshits and victims as much as the beautiful and brainy.

    So to draw a line from physics to moral choices is a complex and evolving tale, but perfectly doable.

    My argument here is that to start the discussion, you first need to realise that we are indeed already caught in a choice between two poles of the "distribution game".

    In one panel of Banal's diptych is everyone standing on the equality of a ground that never changes for anyone. The other panel represents the "fairness" of everyone being allowed as many boxes as take their fancy.

    Assumed is that the world has some supply of boxes in the first place. And this particular world as pictured further assumes that only three boxes are enough to make everyone equally happy so long as the said boxes are distributed with the "fairness" of a maximum inequality.

    So much to unpack as so much has been already assumed in the parable of the three boxes. As usual Bang-on pretends something is so obviously true it needs no further explication on his part. And as usual, he could not be more wrong.
  • apokrisis
    6.9k
    Yet you seem to think that this somehow answers ↪Gnomon.

    How?
    Banno

    [Querulous voice from the back seat] Dad, are we there yet? Are we there yet? Dad? Dad?
  • 180 Proof
    14.7k
    Non sequitur & category error.
  • Moliere
    4.3k
    On the whole, folk have voted for growth. And yearned for steady state. They want 3% as a basic forever rate of economic improvement and then they bellyache at the yawning inequality gap that such a regime creates simply as its equilibrium outcome. They remember the good old days when incomes were almost Gaussian flat. The good old days being the post-war anglosphere and not the pre-industrial era when GDP had flat-lined for millenia.

    So there is the moral conundrum. The physical world foots the entropic bill. Fossil fuels are the explosive basis of modern economics and its scalefree social complexification. Peasants and serfs can now be pickleball professionals and influencers.
    apokrisis

    I think this expresses a good contradiction, and helps me understand between the two -- I really wasn't sure.

    My guess is we're all on board with the Gaussian economy, yeh?

    Enough of that, please.
  • L'éléphant
    1.5k
    Non sequitur & category error.180 Proof

    No. Please answer my question. What is the act of saving those people for?
    I am trying to get to that sense of something that we humans use when we're making a judgment call for fairness or just.
  • 180 Proof
    14.7k
    Please answer my question.L'éléphant
    Given the context (our two posts at the top of this page), ask a question that makes sense.
  • Captain Homicide
    48
    No. It’s only fair and just if we make it so and even then there’s only so much we can do as humans. A theoretical benevolent afterlife on the other hand is a different story. I certainly hope one exists for my sake and the sake of the countless billions who’ve lived terrible lives of misery, toil, want, abuse etc.
  • Gnomon
    3.6k
    Yet, do you find the "mind of the observer" to be any less real than the physicality which it observes and thereby knows? And, if not, are not both then equally real aspects of that which constitutes "the world" as-is.javra
    Yes. If you define "real" as anything that can interact with other things, then the human mind is real. A rock is inert in itself, but can be used to break a window. An idea is subjective and invisible, but it can be used to affect other minds. For example, your post elicited this reply.

    However, for philosophical purposes, it's often useful to distinguish Ideal from Real, even though both can be found in the "real" world. Ideas are not material, but are products of material brains. And Ideals, such as "Justice", are not located in some heavenly realm, but right here in this forum. :smile:
  • Gnomon
    3.6k
    That's all very clever, but tells me very little. — Banno
    Clean out your ears. This was the OP that I was addressing. I was pointing to the third option of the pragmatic/semiotic view that stands beyond the impasse of the idealism vs realism debate.
    apokrisis
    Pardon, my intrusion. But I suspect your failure to communicate with may be foundering on the notion of "transcendent" ideas. If he is an Immanentist regarding abstract concepts --- God being just the most common example --- any reference to something transcendent may be meaningless to him.

    You can ask him if that is why your argument "tells me very little". Some philosophers seem to believe that abstract ideals, such as Justice, exist eternally in a transcendent realm of perfect Forms. But others think that Ideal realm is just a metaphor based on our experience with things we know are on the other side of a wall, but can't see or touch. Metaphors are the lingua franca of philosophy. But some speak different dialects, making communication complicated.

    If I'm guessing wrong, he will tell you, in no uncertain terms. :smile:
  • Banno
    23.7k
    Is unfairness or injustice really just the product of human action?L'éléphant
    I've been thinking along similar lines since my last reply to
    There’s also a sort of latent animism in some of our expressions in that we do attribute intent to things around us as well as to people.Banno
    Human actions are what we have control over, and so we ask what we should do.
    So do we only address those unfairness caused by human actions? Or do we also address those that are the products of the natural world?L'éléphant
    The only way in which we can "address those that are the products of the natural world" is by human action.
  • Banno
    23.7k
    But you have to clear up why your saccharine image illustrates anything in the first place.apokrisis
    I'm sorry if the image shows you nothing. For others, it shows the difference between equal and fair. There is considerable literature on this topic - you might be familiar with John Rawls and Martha Nussbaum. But of course these are but two in a multitude.

    Your trivialising them does not do you proud.

    This is a quite normal political question. Any fool would say we want a society that is balanced, fair, equal and just. The question then becomes well which version of a society is that which you have in mind?apokrisis
    The question then is "What do we do?". Answering that might well involve being clear about what is "balanced, fair, equal and just".

    My repeated question to you is, how does thermodynamics help us here?

    And while you have presented an interesting account of why economics might benefit from considering thermodynamics, you have not explained how this helps with equity, fairness or justice, nor shown how physics helps with the ethical problems commonly discussed hereabouts, such as antinatalism, run-away trams, and keeping promises.

    There are profound and important issues here that remain unaddressed by mere thermodynamics.
  • apokrisis
    6.9k
    If he is an Immanentist regarding abstract conceptsGnomon

    My impression is he just wants to be a metaphysics basher and to avoid at all costs having then to address the metaphysical inconsistencies that are buried in what he then asserts about the world, the mind, truth, etc. He wastes your time and does no work in return. So is not worth the bother. He can't even say how equal and fair are different things, let alone in what sense they are not the same.

    But my position is immanentist and I would argue that importing "the divine" or "the mind" is always to be a closet transcendentalist as it does raise these natural processes to the status of standalone existences. The idea can be named independent of the ground that is its genesis.

    In the Aristolelean tradition of the systems scientist and natural philosopher, we assume reality to be the product of immanent creation. That is, it self-organises into being. It arises because order is what emerges when disorder starts to cancel away its own irregularity and start to fall into dynamical patterns – "lawful" habits – that it simply cannot avoid. In some sense, nature has to find its way to a fair balance that is good in the sense that it is self-stabilising and persistent enough to exist. It is a process that can run down some gradient, some direction, for a very long time.

    And clearly the Cosmos, life and mind have turned out to have just that kind of self-organising logic. And thermodynamics – as a general label for a vast field of maths and science now – is all about systems that self-organise. So thermodynamics is how we can bring 21st C precision to a metaphysics of immanence.
  • Tom Storm
    8.7k
    Human actions are what we have control over, and so we ask what we should do.Banno

    Seems clear.

    While I don't want to invoke the naturalistic fallacy, it's hard for a human to look at nature and think that we inhabit a fair world.

    Nature is a bloodbath predicated on killing and suffering. Animals slowly devour each other alive over hours, enduring extreme pain. Babies of animals and birds are torn apart and eaten by predators in front of their mothers. The mere weather regularly freezes or burns to death scores of creatures. Something deplorable is happening in our backyards as I write. Imagine an omnipotent deity who decided that of all the methods possible for creating life, he'd settle on one where suffering and predation are built into the fabric of reality.
  • Banno
    23.7k
    If he is an Immanentist regarding abstract concepts --- God being just the most common example --- any reference to something transcendent may be meaningless to him.Gnomon
    It's your thread, so your response is welcome.

    I would not describe myself as an "immaterialist". I've argued that what are sometimes called abstract concepts are better understood as institutional facts. They manifest our intentions, so to speak. The "our" here is important. And the issues involved are complex.

    I think the issue you raised in the OP can best be thought of in terms of direction of fit. The term comes from Anscombe, but has been developed by others, including Searle.

    There are two directions of fit. The first is that we find the things around us to be in such-and-such a way. We can set out how things are in our theories and language, changing our minds to match what is going on around us. This is more or less the process of science. The second direction is that we can change how things are to make them as we want. We alter how things are in order to match our theories and language. This is not the province of science so much as of ethics.

    We can change the words we use to set out how things are. And we can change how things are to match the words we use.

    I take this to be what lies behind ideas such as Hume's guillotine and the is-ought problem and the naturalistic fallacy.

    So a description of how things are, even if complete, does not tell us what we ought to do about it.
  • Banno
    23.7k
    While I don't want to invoke the naturalistic fallacy, it's hard for a human to look at nature and think that we inhabit a fair world.Tom Storm
    Hmm. I'm wondering what you think the naturalistic fallacy is. It is not an appeal to nature.

    You probably agree, but I thought I'd check.
  • Tom Storm
    8.7k
    I'm no philosopher, so I may be wrong. I was alluding to it here because people will argue that because nature can be understood as violent and full of suffering it is therefore ok for humans to behave in ways which cause violence and suffering. It's natural and ipso facto ought to be allowed.
  • apokrisis
    6.9k
    Your trivialising them does not do you proud.Banno

    But I asked you to present your case in your words. As usual, that is far too risky. And now you are resorting to your usual defence of "everyone who is my friend agrees with me without further question."

    My repeated question to you is, how does thermodynamics help us here?Banno

    The case was put. The burden is on you to explain how it does not.

    nor shown how physics helps with the ethical problems commonly discussed hereabouts, such as antinatalism, run-away trams, and keeping promises.

    There are profound and important issues here that remain unaddressed by mere thermodynamics.
    Banno

    These may be examples of the profound real world problems that are keeping you up at night, but really? Antinatalism, run-away trams, and keeping promises! Don't you just groan seeing these trivialities rehashed time after time on PF?

    Let's get back to the issue you actually raised in this thread. By force of Hallmark card meme, you wanted to suggest that fair and equal are somehow distinct in some fashion for which you want a thermodynamic explanation.

    I pointed to an obvious thermodynamic distinction – the one between powerlaw and normal statistical distributions. Equality could mean either the closed system symmetry of one box for everyone, or the open system asymmetry of a 0,1,2 distribution of the three available boxes.

    Now you want to continue to pretend I made no case and that I have to ring up Rawls and Nussbaum to explain your own counter-case to me.

    What are you smoking?
  • Banno
    23.7k
    Ok. That's the pop understanding of "naturalistic fallacy".

    I'm not enamoured with the description of "nature red in tooth and claw", with the emphasis on competition. I think it a culturally driven narrative. Studies of ecosystems also tell a story of cooperation. This is the bit of @apokrisis' account that perhaps has value.

    The naturalistic fallacy in philosophy "is the claim that it is possible to define good in terms of natural entities, or properties". Saying that the good is what is pleasurable, or what makes the greatest number of folk happy, and so on.

    Again, I'd analyses this in terms of direction of fit. Saying how things are - that they induce pleasure or happiness - is very different from saying how they ought to be.
  • Banno
    23.7k
    The case was put. The burden is on you to explain how it does not.apokrisis

    I was waiting for that. The next rhetorical move, after abuse and ridicule, is to claim that you already answered the question.

    You still have not shown how thermodynamics helps with ethical issues. How does thermodynamics tell us what we ought to do?
  • apokrisis
    6.9k
    The second direction is that we can change how things are to make them as we want. We alter how things are in order to match our theories and language. This is not the province of science so much as of ethics.Banno

    Except we have to live together in the actual world and so that roots any utopias in the realities of thermodynamics. Any action we take is going to have an entropic cost that has to be budgeted for in any ethical system.

    The cost to ecosystems was something that humans living simpler and less techological lives could afford to ignore.

    But now that human aspirations are about constructing a planetary level of civilisation, this thermodynamic reality is all up in our faces. To not have it front and centre of an ethical debate is itself unethical in any non-trivial ethical discussion.
  • Banno
    23.7k
    Except we have to live together in the actual worldapokrisis

    Sure.

    So what does thermodynamics tell us about the distribution of boxes?

    It seems to me that your description of how things are does not tell us how they ought be.

    Unless you claim that how things are is how they must be, that we cannot change what we do. But that does not seem correct.
  • apokrisis
    6.9k
    I was waiting for that. The next rhetorical move, after abuse and ridicule, is to claim that you already answered the question.Banno

    Your one trick. Pretend there have been no answers so as to cover your own failure to respond in good faith.

    You introduced fair vs equal as some kind of relevant distinction. You still haven't explained what that was except take the attitude of "its obvious from someone else's picture".

    I, by contrast, have pointed out that an asymmetric distribution of boxes is what would constitute "fair and equal" as a powerlaw thermodynamic balance – the one of a growing system. While a symmetric distribution is "fair and equal" as the Gaussian balance of a no-growth system.

    I think the meme is trite as it mixes up two kinds of systems – the growth curves of humans with in a "world" of a fixed number of boxes to distribute. Confusion follows, as is illustrated in just thinking how the same three figures would "fairly and equally" distribute food around a campfire. Etc.

    There is much that could be unpacked if you really wanted a dissection.

    But still that is where we are. You memed. I gave the obvious retort. You clammed up on why you thought there was any merit in this illustration of "what is equal vs what is fair". I gave a fuller explanation. You pretend there is no reason you should have to either tackle my approach or go back and fill in the blanks on the distinction you claimed to demonstrate that ethics ain't applied thermodynamics.

    Proud of yourself?
  • Tom Storm
    8.7k
    Ok. That's the pop understanding of "naturalistic fallacy".Banno

    Cool. That's the only one I have heard of.

    The naturalistic fallacy in philosophy "is the claim that it is possible to define good in terms of natural entities, or properties". Saying that the good is what is pleasurable, or what makes the greatest number of folk happy, and so on.Banno

    Ok, that's interesting. I wouldn't know G.E. Moore from Dudley Moore. I've just read a ChatGPT account of it but I still don't quite understand the concept.

    Maybe what I was thinking of was the is/ought problem.
  • Banno
    23.7k
    I, by contrast, have pointed out that an asymmetric distribution of boxes is what would constitute "fair and equal" as a powerlaw thermodynamic balance – the one of a growing system. While a symmetric distribution is "fair and equal" as the Gaussian balance of a no-growth system.apokrisis

    You've made the claim. You have not presented a case. Nor have you shown why we ought adopt - what is it, a "powerlaw thermodynamic balance" over a "Gaussian balance of a no-growth".

    But this is tiresome.
  • apokrisis
    6.9k
    It seems to me that your description of how things are does not tell us how they ought be.Banno

    My description was of how things are fundamentally constrained. There are pragmatic limits that shape our individual degrees of freedom.

    So is/ought is a false binary from the systems point of view. You just haven't understood the force of that.

    Is/ought is a problem for a reductionist metaphysics that can't reconcile the divide it makes between mind and matter.

    But for the naturalistic holism I argue, we are all contextual beings who have the right instincts because we are being shaped by our lived environments to make choices that on the whole – statistically speaking – lead to the continuing repair and reproduction of that system.

    We reconstruct the system of constraints that are what shape us to be active agents of change in the first place.

    Is/ought drops out of the equation. Constraints and freedoms become complementary rather than antithetical in the systems view of reality.
  • Banno
    23.7k
    Maybe what I was thinking of was the is/ought problem.Tom Storm
    They are not unrelated.

    But "naturalistic fallacy" is headed the way of "begging the question", losing its original meaning and so reducing our capacity to express fine distinctions. A bit sad.
  • Gnomon
    3.6k
    And clearly the Cosmos, life and mind have turned out to have just that kind of self-organising logic. And thermodynamics – as a general label for a vast field of maths and science now – is all about systems that self-organise. So thermodynamics is how we can bring 21st C precision to a metaphysics of immanence.apokrisis
    seems to be one of the most philosophically knowledgeable posters on this forum. But his arguments tend to be rather terse, as if he has a canned answer for common problems. So, some fraught terms may be trigger-words for a succinct reply. Based on his dismissal of your arguments, I suspect that he equates both "Metaphysics" and "Transcendence" with other-worldly religion and spiritualism, instead of with abstract concepts and philosophical metaphors.

    My own non-religious philosophical worldview is based on the notion of a "self-organizing logic" that serves as both Cause and Coordinator of the physical and meta-physical (e.g. mental) aspects of the world. For material objects, that "logic" can be summarized as the Laws of Thermodynamics : Energy ->->-> Entropy --- order always devolves into disorder. And yet, the Big Bang has somehow produced a marvelous complex cosmos instead of just a puff of smoke.

    For philosophical concepts especially, that thermodynamic metaphor could be mis-interpreted. So, I have coined a neologism -- Enformy*1 -- to describe the positive force that physicists mis-labeled as "Negentropy". My coinage combines physical Energy and Platonic Form (design), to describe the ability of Nature to integrate isolated things into whole systems, including living organisms and thinking beings. I suppose you could call it a "metaphysics of immanence". But Banno might hear it as an oxymoron or paradox. :smile:


    *1. Enformy :
    In the Enformationism theory, Enformy is a hypothetical, holistic, metaphysical, natural trend or force, that counteracts Entropy & Randomness to produce complexity & progress. [ see post 63 for graph ]
    1. I'm not aware of any "supernatural force" in the world. But my Enformationism theory postulates that there is a meta-physical force behind Time's Arrow and the positive progress of evolution. Just as Entropy is sometimes referred to as a "force" causing energy to dissipate (negative effect), Enformy is the antithesis, which causes energy to agglomerate (additive effect).
    2. Of course, neither of those phenomena is a physical Force, or a direct Cause, in the usual sense. But the term "force" is applied to such holistic causes as a metaphor drawn from our experience with physics.
    3. "Entropy" and "Enformy" are scientific/technical terms. Yet, while those forces are completely natural, the ultimate source of the power behind them may be preternatural, in the sense that a First Cause logically existed before the Big Bang, to program the potential for an almost infinite Cosmos into a sub-atomic Singularity.

    https://blog-glossary.enformationism.info/page8.html
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