Comments

  • Does Consequentialism give us any Practical Guidance?


    Not necessarily. In a more limited scenario, you can make an informed choice. I can make informed choices about what to have out of my fridge, as I know what's in the fridge just now. I can make an informed choice about the (professed) values of candidates in a general election, as I can read their manifestos. It's a further stretch to say I can make an informed choice about either

    [a] the actual values of the candidates (as politicians can lie, after all - the answer would be whether overall we can trust enough of what they say to say that voting on a manifesto tracks sufficiently how governments then go onto act. I'd estimate it probably does - governments (in the UK at least) can be forced into a general election if it is seen they are departing overall from manifesto promises, as may be the case in the current Tory leadership race depending on who is the winning candidate.

    whether voting for candidates who have certain values will actually lead to the promotion of those values, or whether it may actually lead to ironic outcomes with regards to those values. For instance, certain far left wingers think that right wing governments actually make left wing values winning out in the long run, as they increase disatisfaction in the long run with the status quo (which for the far left is by necessity right wing), where as voting left forstalls the change in the status quo away from the right to the left.
  • Genuine Agnosticism and the possibility of Hell


    I don't think I have quite made my decision - though I do appreciate your post, and the supportive tone in which it is written. I suppose I am afriad because I cannot logically rule out the possibility that hell exists. And if it exists, I'm going there. I can't morally justify not going there, as I can't morally endorse God's decision that hell should exist.

    I'd like to simply accept the common-sense (for me) position that hell doesn't exist. But my mind doesn't work like that. Well, it does some days, but not all.

    I suppose I just resent all these believers who ultimately, in my eyes, seem very self-serving and condemnatory of others. I don't even care whether heaven exists - but I'm left with their hell. But I am to respectful of the idea that we cannot KNOW that God doesn't exist in exactly the way these people describe to dismiss this as simply their own psychodrama.

    I will be very happy if God isn't like this, but then I don't see the reason to worry. I don't care about heaven, after all. These people seem very hateful who endorse hell - but if they are right, then in my eyes, the creator of the universe is hateful. But that's not going to get me off. He's got more power than me. I'm just going to be his plaything, and he will have me tortured for all eternity, because a) I'm not perfect and/or b) I won't worship him. Because he condemns people to eternal suffering - perhaps there is a circularity here.

    If this is the wrong conception of God, then these Hell-happy believers are actually doing alot to keep honest people away from him, interestingly.

    I like your attitude much more - of doing good in the world as it's the right thing to do.

    I don't know what these people get off on, and I don't know why they are so cowardly. I completely understand the fear - at least, I do quite a bit - but why are they so ready to be on the all-powerful's side? It's like siding with the playground bully over the kids picked on.
  • Does Consequentialism give us any Practical Guidance?


    I'm not sure a consistant consequentialist - whether negative or positive - would agree with you here. The whole point of this perspective is it gives us one principle ("Maximise the good" - I guess the negative alternative would be "minimise the bad"), which technically always gives us a single result.

    The problem is our situation doesn't give us enough information to make an informed choice. This in itself doesn't make the principle wrong. It simply means we can't follow it. If I lock the code for my safe in a car then lose the keys, it doesn't mean there isn't a way to open my safe with the keypad. It means, in practical terms, I don't have access to that method for opening the safe.

    Consequentialism must apply in times of war, or any other extreme situations, basically. The whole point of siding with it against "common-sense" morality is to decide an outcome when common sense leads to contradictions, or gives us no clear and consistent advice.

    A consequentalist, faced with a war causing 10,000 deaths, or 1 million deaths, wouldn't go "Oh no - no moral choices in war!" They would - assuming more death means less of the good, choose to wage the first war.

    We may not agree with the theory - I don't - but that's what it is.
  • Myth-Busting Marx - Fromm on Marx and Critique of the Gotha Programme
    Ok - well if you want to do that, I'd start with a short paragraph saying what you're doing.
  • What Capitalism is Not (specifically, it is not markets)
    So, has anyone here actually read some attempts to define what makes an economy capitalistic? Because it would probably cut down alot of verbage. I'm not seeing many references.

    So, starting from the top (i.m blanking on who started this thread), here's a question. Where is the capital in this definition of capitalism? By capital, I mean resources or money which are employed in order to purchase the materials for the production of commodities (raw materials, tools) and labour, commodities being items being produced to be sold on the market at a profit (hopefully, for the seller). This doesn't seem to be in the definition above, but if we don't have this, we can't distinguish between capitalism, and some kind of society where everyone is self-employed.

    This is what we get in Marx, and other classical economists. Now I don't want to say other economists aren't available, but this is what I'm most familiar with at least.

    We need to get the basics right before going off into what kind of effects these economies have on people, where they come from historically, and so on.

    Also - command economies aren't market economies. There is a whole - very famous - economic debate about whether central planning can compete with the market in terms of information distributions between the producers, with Friedrich Hayek, Von Mises etc. on one side, and Oskar Lange and others on the other. Check out the wikipedia entry on "Economic Calculation Problem"
  • worldpeace
    So the people who roll in aren't safe or wealthy, and that gives them willpower to take over

    I wish my experience of people not having safety or wealth was like this.
  • Dialectical materialism
    Yeah, that too. Or at least, both of us are glossing it. If you're specifically interested in it, definitely look into it. But don't worry too much if you have a load of Marxists telling you you don't understand the essential nature of dialectic etc. Maybe they're right, but if they are, it's so abstract, that I don't see how it's essential for the goals of the socialist left, which is the democratic transformation of society. We can't surely expect everyone to understand this guff. It's not exactly "Punch Up, Not Down" is it?

    I read a great book which had alot of Hegel in it (surprisingly) recently - it was In The Long Run, We're All Dead:Keynesianism, Political Economy and Revolution, by Geoff Mann. Also good on Keynes, Robespierre, and the guy also knows his Marx well.
  • Pessimistic Communism v.s. Pessimism
    Just a minor point - it's disputable whether China is a capitalist state.

    The argument is this. In a capitalist state, privately own capitalist firms calls the shots - certainly with regards the the economy at large, in general terms.

    China has extensive ownership of all the major firms, a police state which exerts control on them and civil society, and a central bureaucracy which is able to set the rough outlines for the direction of production. Not perfectly of course, but just imagine the Chinese equivalent of the UK chancellor Richi Sunak yesterday asking the business community to increase business investment (i.e. in R&D). Xi's economic minister wouldn't ask them - he'd tell them.

    Also, on pessimism - "Mankind Lives by Monstrous Deeds". I used to think just like you do. Schopenhauer was one of the first philosophers I read. Then I got over it, accepted we're kind of shit, and got on with my life. I hope you can as well. Just listen to the sentiment in "Tears of Rage" by The Band. Would you rather empathise, or do you think those people are silly? It's never too late.
  • Dialectical materialism
    However much stupid racism Marx and Engels came up with (not to diminish it) this isn't a good refutation of dialectical materialism, unless you think that some having even deeply ingrained racist views invalidates all their other views (this cannot be true without qualification).

    As for what it is - it's roughly the idea that the world has a materialist basis (i.e. we don't need to invoke God, or immaterial souls, or transcendental ideas, to explain it), but this materialist basis itself changes under it's own interactions with itself. In contrast, non-dialectical materialism takes it that the material basis is unchanging, and simply changes in shape and arrangement. I've got no idea whether it's true or not, or whether it's an integral part of Marxism or not - the economics of which I'm very sympathetic to.
  • worldpeace
    From what I understand about nuclear war, there would be very few people out of the world population left. And WW3 would most likely go nuclear. I mean, that could be an anarchy, but it's unlikely all the little enclaves of survivors would go the same way, to me.

    Thinking on the recent situation in Ukraine, I've basically decided that I'm not as against war as I am against nuclear weapons. Wars have happened throughout history. They are horrible. But they won't be as horrible as wiping out most of the human race, and the biosphere. Unfortunately, the powers that be won't just fight conventional wars. They think they are making their own side safer by having nuclear weapons, but this just serves to make the overall situation more dangerous.

    Just look at Ukraine now. They are going through some horrendous shit. But if the alternative were nuclear obliteration, what would they choose (most of them at least, I hope). That's why it seems to make no sense to me why Finland and Sweden are trying to protect themselves by joining NATO. You have to juggle in that part of the world, repelling possible attacks from Russia, and not contributing to a situation which leads to NATO and Russia fighting directly. Joining NATO helps the second but doesn't help the first, at least in my view.

    World peace may come in time. Who knows what may happen over aons. Read some science fiction to get the long view - that is my advice. I suggest First and Last Men by Olaf Stapledon.
  • Philosophy: Who Needs It?
    Right, Elric, you've got a great name, so I'm going to call on Arioch to give you some persuasive power

    I've never read Ayn Rand, and I'm never going to. Make your case for why what she is saying in this essay (beyond the basic idea that everyone has a set of philosophical assumptions - I think that's pretty much a platitude), and I'll tell you what I think.
  • Exploitation of labor in core nations
    My instinct is towards open borders - but then if trade between nations actually worked so all tried to support each other, rather than competing to placate corporate and military interests, then I doubt that migration would produce many problems. I suppose this is in part because I don't see a reason to favour my country much over any other. In the future, though, none of these practices are going to keep people such as I in the west very safe anyway. The majority of our population will become more impoverished, but if we carry on as we are going we will still cleave to the interests at the top which are causing this.

    I've also never really got the whole cultural concerns. Most of the cultural things I loved which have vanished have been from business striving for profits (so ripping down old shop fronts, buying up old follys, etc.), rather than a mosque or china town being built. Obviously that's just pissing in the wind though - the people who are concerned about these things are opaque to me. The only things which vaguely make sense are some PC take downs - such as the fact I can't watch The League of Gentlemen on BBC iplayer if I want to, because a character in it wears blackface. But I have it on DVD anyway.
  • Myth-Busting Marx - Fromm on Marx and Critique of the Gotha Programme
    I don't really understand the purpose of this post. Could you explain a little, please, then others may benefit more
  • Nuclear Weapons, the Centre and the Right
    So, lots of points here, so thank you everyone.

    The first thing I would like to note is that no one seems to be engaging with one of my main interests - are there many conservatives who are also advocates of nuclear disarmament?

    To move onto the responses - Given that my main concern here is avoiding Nuclear armageddon, I don't think I could have an objection to some powerful nation (at least powerful in a kind of crude, violent sense) creating an impregnable weapons system. Even if it only protected a reasonably large part of the world, that would be part of the world. I don't really agree with one, or a group of countries, having this kind of pre-eminent position, but in terms of long term species/biosphere protection, beggars can't be choosers.

    It may be utopian to get rid of the nuclear weapons. Looked at another way, it may be utopian to have the kind of world-wide social change which would probably be required to remove the incentive from states to develop or keep such arms.

    However, I don't think the response to this is to say "We will never get rid of nuclear weapons, therefore it's best that my country keeps nuclear weapons." You need additional premises to claim that, in your country's hands, they will never be wrongly used. I don't think it's easy to claim that.

    Another point is that: no leader, even despotic ones, want to kill millions of citizens of opposing nations. Why not? Because strategically it makes no sense. You don't want to get into that situation - you want to win out, or at least reach a stalemate, without this happening. Because if you are in that situation, you are already in extreme danger. The reason I'm saying this is that it's a lazy gloss to see even dictators in these terms. For the vast majority of cases, even if these people are insane, they aren't malicious in this way, but rather ruthless and paranoid. It plays into a simplisitic good and evil narrative to say this - where as the more nuanced good and evil is when we see that we, as easily as the enemy, may be the source of the evil. In my world view, with regards the current situation - which I don't want to focus on, admittedly - both Russia and NATO are both my enemies, because both possess the power and the motivation to use these weapons if they deem the situation warrants it. But they are mutually enforcing each other in this regard, and so they are both responsible. I would fight in a war against an agressive Russian Federation without these, but I won't fight in the current situation, as I don't believe you can justly - or even rationally - fight for a side which is willing to use weapons of mass destruction.

    The sad thing in this, for me, is that people are currently being sold the idea that nuclear weapons keep them safe. They do not. If they go up, it's the end of Europe, North America, and Asia, at least. Fighting a war - even losing a conventional war - is nothing in comparison. The costs on the latter are genocide, displacement, massive casualties plausibly, loss of some or all homeland. But the alternative is literal obliteration.

    I won't comment on the technicalities of whether a missile defence system can work or not - I was a moral philosopher, not a ballistics expert.
  • Nuclear Weapons, the Centre and the Right
    I am familiar with that - thanks very much for your response Nickolasgaspar,

    I've got three immediate responses.

    1. That's only considering the situation over a very short period of time - not even a century. If we are concerned with the long term future of the human race, we want, I think, to think much more in the long term. It would only take one nuclear exchange to destroy our civilisation. Odds on that never happening in 1000 years? What about 10,000 years? Etc.

    2. Russia isn't a western military power. Neither is China. My point isn't dunk on these states. The risk is between exchanges between any nuclear powers of sufficiently sized arsonals (it's not clear if China is in the running here, from what I remember - but it could always expand it's nukes, technically at least (I'm not an expert on China so I have no idea what Beijing is thinking with regards this)

    3. I'm not as concerned about wars as I am about large scale nuclear exchanges. W\ars are horrible but they don't last forever. We have peaces and then wars - in most countries as well. I'd rather have millenia of war than obliteration.
  • The New "New World Order"
    The most important thing is to avoid at all costs a NATO-Russia nuclear exchange. Everything else is secondary, and if anyone thinks differently - feel free to go and martyr yourself on either side, but don't drag the rest of humanity and its entire future with you.
  • How to Choose Your Friends
    Jesus ... I don't really think I've chosen a friend in my life. They've just kind of come along, we've got on, and you get the feeling they'll be on your side when it counts. There are a few people I've decided I couldn't stay friends with, but it's not like I think I've had to shun them in order to maintain some kind ideal for myself. It's just that being friends with them was doing my head in - I don't see that as something to be proud of, but it happens.

    I don't think God is going to judge you for having friends who aren't perfect. If he does - he's a twat, and not a friend himself.
  • Dark Side of the Welfare State
    If we want to get rid of welfare, and not have some people simply die through lack of resources, then there needs to be zero unemployment. But capitalist economies never reach zero unemployment, and periodically have high unemployment when there is a depression.

    If we could solve this problem (big if), then we may still have people who could work, but don't. First, how many people would this be? Maybe it wouldn't be worth worrying about. Second, if these people are committing fraud in order to claim more than their entitlement - fair enough. Things like that can be investigated. Finally, we have the worry of a significant number of people who could work but won't, but aren't living on so much individually. Well, given we have solved unemployment, we might not worry about this so much. But assuming we do, and assuming we can successfully identify these people and not confuse them with the people described below, well - I don't know what to think. We have a well-functioning economy that provides good work for everyone who wants it, and supports those who can't (see below), and we have this large rump of people who won't work. I think if you're still annoyed by these people at this stage in our thought experiment, you need to get your priorities straight, as you seem to be pretty resentful. But yeah, sure, if they are offending you so much, I guess they could have some pressure put on them to do a bit of work. Won't kill them, after all. That's assuming the pressure doesn't amount to something which could seriously ruin their lives. Because if they are only just above that happening, and then you take more from them, I would imagine they weren't using many resources anyway.

    In addition to that, some people just can't work. They are ill, or lack the capacity. If you think these people should just be left for their families and friends to look after and the rest of society owes them nothing, fair enough, but I'm still going to support taking funds off you to support them - in the form of general taxation - whether you like it or not, because you're basically psychopathic, and you're lucky to be tolerated. Let me know when you get in power so you can slough off all the weak people who's existence - and the existence of your responsibility to them - offends you so much: I'm sure it will be a very wonderful place to live.
  • Anti-science is treason
    Treason?! That's what I would commit against her majesty and her government, here in the UK.

    I wouldn't normally do this, but as this is a philosophy forum, I think this kind of pedantry is acceptable - treason isn't the correct word here, and you're verging into rhetoric, not philosophy, by it's use.
  • POLL: Why is the murder rate in the United States almost 5 times that of the United Kingdom?
    Is the murder rate in Canada still much lower than the US? I remember it was from that Michael Moore documentary back in the day (Bowling for Columbine). Admittedly, I don't know how many guns per head of the population comparing the two.

    Also, is the murder rate uniform over the US? It's a humongous country.
  • Ukraine Crisis
    (without having read the entire thread, as it's massive).

    There are lots of clashing values here. The Ukranian administration obviously has popular support, and (if you're fan of states - I'm luke-warm, myself) if they want to join NATO, as a sovereign state, why should they not be able to?

    A rejoiner is that you can't expect Russia to be happy with this. Whatever proportion of the Russian population actually supports The Kremlin, simply from fear most probably wouldn't want NATO forces (including potentially nukes) right next to them and encircling them - for (as someone pointed out) the same reasons that it was intolerable to the Americans to have soviet nukes on Cuba.

    From the perspective of myself, as a CND member, this situation is especially tragic. Ukraine voluntarily gave up it's nuclear weapons in the 90s, on basis of an agreement involving both Russia and the US that they would not infere with it's future political development. Perhaps this was naive (of the Ukrainians), but it hardly encourages other regimes to give up their weapons now, does it?

    One thing at the back of all this is: if the West hadn't been so stupid when the U.S.S.R. collapsed in their economic reconstruction advice, perhaps things may have been different. But then, that this the same economic approach which continues to widen inequality and to increase poverty levels in any place where it is unchecked, east or west.

    From my perspective, we have an anti-democratic kleptocracy and it's adjuncts, verses a number of genuine democracies but which are quite imperfect as democracies (as illustrated by how their civil society's are decaying), but which are also imperial actors on the world stage (just look at what has been done to Africa etc.) The only defence the Russian regime can give is "if you let the West in, it will be even worse." And you know what, when we were last there, it was worse. I think if I was forced into a binary choice, I would choose to defend liberal democracy and self-determination, and so Ukraine, as at least that has the chance of improving our situation by democratic means. But that is a bitter pill to swallow. As this entire system keeps billions of people in poverty around the world, and is quickly ruining our environment. So perhaps we should simply let these monsters we support with our taxes - on both sides - exhaust themselves, and hope we survive to the other side.
  • Why the ECP isn’t a good critique of socialism


    Right - thank you: I'll take you saying you don't advocate dictatorship as saying that you would condemn Franco. That's all I wanted - at least by this stage.
  • Why the ECP isn’t a good critique of socialism


    I do not want anyone to be killed off. I am not so naive as to believe that people aren't going to make war in this world, and I may have take sides to defend what I believe in, but that is far from wanting people who infuriate and offend me and who go against the values I believe in to be executed.

    All I was asking from you was some kind of acknowledgement that the Franco regime needs to be condemned, not viewed as "someways bad, someways good" because he killed communists, whoever else he killed - and even whatever those different communists believed, given how many different stripes there are. Dictatorship=bad. Do you agree, or is what you think more qualified? Because if it's more qualified, that's not good, and you aren't a consistant democrat.
  • Why the ECP isn’t a good critique of socialism


    To say that someone is sanguine about a fact isn't to say they deny it - it is to say they are at ease with it. You seem at ease with it. You seem untroubled by it. You seem untroubled that he overturned a government committed to democracy, that he killed off political rivals on the left and centre of all stripes, and that the explicit aim of his regime was to destroy any of the values of the enlightenment and social progress which - even as a right-winger - I would expect you to be committed to. You seem happy that he did this just so long as he killed communists - however many other people even vaguely connected to them seems irrelevant to you - or at least an acceptable price you aren't going to bother yourself about. In a similar situation, you would no doubt be equally sanguine about someone like me being killed off, and almost all my friends. It is a disgraceful attitude to have, from anyone, left or right.
  • Why the ECP isn’t a good critique of socialism


    So Franco wasn't a nazi or a racist - fine. You seem quite sanguine about the fact that he was a dictator who had his political opponents - and not just on the left - executed. It was explicit that his regime was against the enlightenment, in any sense, in Spain - women's equality, religious toleration, liberal rights, union recognition, etc.
  • Why the ECP isn’t a good critique of socialism


    I'm sorry, but Spain under Franco was a far-rightwing dictatorship. The only reason it wasn't explicitly fascist was because the fascists where one of the far-rightwing factions that Franco played off against each other. "The Spanish Civil War" by Paul Preston is an excellent history book on this which I happen to have read. he also makes it clear how these combined forces then carried out numerous executions once in power - not just communists, but liberals and centrists of all stripes. The aim was to roll back any progressive forces forever.

    And describing the 1945 Labour government as "filled with communists and socialists" is similarly not accurate - at least as regards you appear to understand this. It was a centre-left government which was willing to take areas of the economy into public ownership - frankly, the conservative party in the UK was doing the same thing.

    You do appear to be correct that America and the West supported the USSR economy to some degree. The USSR was required to take loans from the Paris Club, for example. I don't know why you are being sceptical about the amount of trade that Wikipedia lists as existing between the US and the USSR - even if the USSR statistics aren't accurate, surely the US ones are? This is obviously a complex issue - I don't think I have at all gotten to the bottom of it, but there is more to be said.
  • Why the ECP isn’t a good critique of socialism


    Also, on the earlier comments about the USSR being reliant on trade with the US, how does this sqaure with what is related on the wikipedia article on "Foreign Trade in the Soviet Union"? According to that, trade between the two countries averaged 1% a year.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_trade_of_the_Soviet_Union#United_States

    Was most of the transference aid? I can see that was significant during WW2, but was it for the entirity of the history of the USSR?
  • Why the ECP isn’t a good critique of socialism


    So do you think there is anything lacking in the Nordic countries, from the perspective of a capitalist, or are they not capitalist enough, or actually are they preferrable even from a capitalist perspective? And yes, I did have those countries in mind, but I could also talk about different aspects of lots of european countries.

    I actually do think that the capitalistic element of those countries would ultimately win out, but that is because they are living in a capitalist world. Right now, they are arranged in a mixed manner between capitalism and something like socialism.

    I think if you think that most of "those who call themselves" socialists "hate" social democracy, then you haven't talked to a wide enough section of socialists. I happen to think that social democracy is better than nothing but doesn't go far enough, but that doesn't mean I hate it. Admittedly, the often belicose language of some socialists and communists may given that impression overall!
  • Why the ECP isn’t a good critique of socialism
    I explicitly stated that the eastern bloc was one version of authoritarian communism. Given that most attempts at communism have followed that model, and failed, that doesn't mean that doesn't, in itself, show that any form of communism won't work. Also, I, perhaps unsuccessfully, tried to indicate a distinction between communism and socialism (say "market socialism", to be clearer). There are countries which at least lean in this direction, which work. You haven't addressed this at all. You've just talked about the Eastern Bloc and China. Furthermore, as much as I don't want this, Cuba has not collapsed, and is communist. If you say "it hasn't worked" - well on my metric, capitalism hasn't worked, given world inequality and poverty - and as capitalism is a global economic system, this is an acceptable move to make. Anyone who thinks this level of human suffering is an acceptable outcome of an economic system is obviously wrong. Better to just say that life stinks and we have no defendable options, get on with our lives, and give up arguing, if that is our only option.
  • Life is getting easier with less money.
    The way to investigate this would be to look at a retail price index for different kinds of goods. Certainly electronic goods appear to be getting cheaper, but food prices still fluctuate, utility bills and rent are increasing, and it is much more difficult to buy property. Wages are also stagnant. Plus out economic system is not sustainable, so things will get worse, absent any changes.

    If you look into world trends in poverty, absolute poverty at the bottom of the income brackets decreased for some time but is now increasing, from memory, while those just above the poorest people - but still poor, have largely seen little change. The wealthiest, and those comfortably well off, increase their wealth year by year - can't remember if they increase income as well, but it hardly matters as the wealth is staggering. These are the people in control, of course, so it is on their watch that the world is heading for catastrophe as well.
  • Why the ECP isn’t a good critique of socialism
    As an intro to this discussion, the novel Red Plenty by Francis Spufford is good - it's also a great novel.

    I hadn't heard about the extent of US trade/support to Russia and China, so thanks for that.

    From what I've picked up from economics and economic history - from the economic base the inherited from the Tsarist regime, the different kinds of command economies the bolsheviks adopted up until about the 1960s were effective at developing the GDP of the USSR. The records of this may be somewhat inaccurate, but it's undeniable their economy did expand rapidly. They got in to problems, I have heard, when they attempted to continue with the same 5-year-plan, production-focused, centralised model as the economy became more complex. There are those who argue that if they had had access to modern computer power, they would have been more successful (than they were - may still have collapsed).

    One thing which Red Plenty makes clear is that corruption - at least as we understand it as mainly a financial phenomenon - was very low in the USSR. This is because, internally, their economy made very little use of money. If you have to do all your chicanry with goods in kind, running a black market is very hard. I don't mean to say there wasn't lots of nepotism, bad and misleading bookkeeping, plus obviously immense human rights violations - there obviously were.

    Socialism is not obviously a failure - many societies have socialistic elements, particularly in europe and asia, which work well. What level of socialism can be achieved is an open question, and obviously these states exist with a capitalist world order. Communism may not be possible, but then there are also lots of possible systems which qualify as communist, of which the eastern block displayed a few authoritarian examples. You need to show all of these are both impossible AND undesireable, and the same for socialism, to defend capitalism.

    Even then, this doesn't obviously defend capitalism. This world system is currently failing to sustain a sustainable world for humanity in general. If it collapses - which I think is likely - then we will be left with things similar to feudal and hunter gather societies. Many of the latter actually have alot to support them - the most egalitarian, peaceable societies that have ever existed are hunter gatherer ones. Of course, we have to go through a holocaust and a mass extinction event to get to them.

    Basically, we have no good options - but we maybe have some which are less worse than others.
  • Avoiding War - Philosophy of Peace
    I don't have much to add - I'd just point out that I remember reading that North Korea and China already provide mutual support, though the relationship is often strained.

    Reducing war in a economic system which tends towards recurrent crises, and in a world of increasing environmental and resource depletion, is very difficult. You would need some kind of international movement which basically undermines the ability of equivalently sized militaries on all sides to prosecute war - this is very difficult in itself, as they are the people with the arms. There's good historical evidence that sometimes militaries are unwilling to use their arms on their own country-persons, but asside from that, these people, if unconscripted, are willing to kill. I can't see that such a movement exists effectively internationally - if it did begin to form, this would probably precipitate a backlash from governments and militaries themselves.

    Any movement hoping to reduce the power of militaries would probably to a degree have to be willing to use arms and to a degree be organised into a fighting force. However, it's open whether these organisations could be more like civil militias and citizen armies - which may also explore options for non-violent fighting strategies as well as violent ones. Historically, state funded standing armies are fairly new - many revolutions in history were pushed forward by citizens taking up arms, without looking to becoming professional soldiers.

    That's the most honest answer I can give. I too would like to think that peace could come about through less confrontational approaches, but I don't think that's supported by the evidence of how the world is currently.
  • Meta-Anarchism
    I'm sorry to hear you have been having a bad time. Just do whatever you can - that's all any of us do. After a head injury, I can't sustain prolonged debate on the internet and hairsplitting, for instance. I mean - I physically can't do it, I just get tired. So, without knowing where you're coming from - I get where you're coming from.
  • permanent vs temporary property
    It's easy to get bogged down in this, but basically, I think your worry is well founded. If you think that this world - with it humungous disparities - is largely justified, you basically think that the people who have most of the wealth should have been allowed to ascend to such a position, where they have the power to determine how extensive resources are used, to use their money and power illegally and immorally (as they can, mostly, get away with it), and, conversely, that most other people, who simply have to try to work and survive in this rat race, are worth very little compared to these people we are happy to enthrone as gods. It's an extremely servile attitude - mascarading as a forthright and respectful one. The billionaires and millionaires get defended to the hilt, and can do whatever they like with other people, while most people are viewed with contempt unless they "get in line".

    In a certain way, it's about caring more about the standard of living and dignity of humanity - all humanity. But in another way, if property rights conflict with this - well, so much the worse for that understanding of property rights. It's made a world which is a hell, and which so many people struggle to even live in. But no, that's not the problem - the problem is people questioning whether some clever guy who got lucky on the market should be able to own the equivalent of the wealth of several countries.

    Unfortunately, our economy, legal systems, international order and societies are currently configured in such a way as mean we can't even simply tax these people more. In order to properly protect ourselves - and by ourselves, I mean most of humanity, we need to dismantle this entire edifice.
  • Question about relationship between time as discussed in Relativity in Physics, and time perception
    Thanks to all the people who brought up the point that mass increases as velocity increases - exponentially, I guess, if it tends towards infinity (though i do hope I am using "exponentially" correctly here) - which explains in part why things travelling at the speed of light cannot have mass. I wasn't trying to say that they could - I just think it's legitimate for philosophers (and physicists) to try to image "well, put that aside for now - what would happen if that wasn't true".

    Keith W - thanks for your reply. I'm still a bit confused, unfortunately. Is what your saying this: Light and other massless particles must travel at light speed, but objects with mass can travel at varying speeds - up to but not including the speed of light? As it is possible, given how they are arranged in relation to each other, that from the perspective of a photon, another photon is stationary, so long as they are moving in the same direction, so that can't be the distinction, but that speed can vary for mass but not for massless particles.

    Also, can't a body with mass travel at the same speed in all frames of reference (except light speed) providing it is provided with sufficient energy to produce the momentum. But then, if it is gaining mass as velocity increases, maybe it isn't correct to say it is the same object after a while. Presumably, if I take a dead cat, eject it into space, and being to accelerate it to near-light speeds, after a while it isn't a cat anymore.
  • Wondering about free will and consequentialism


    Thanks for your comment, Gnomon.

    Your position seems compatible with free will allowing an arbitrary choice between options. But how does morality become involved?
  • Wondering about free will and consequentialism


    Thanks for your comments Aleph Numbers, and thanks also as I don't think I was clear enough.

    "If people have free will, they can chose to act on reasons", as you write. But then we have to ask the question, do they so choose arbitrarily, or do they choose on the basis of said reasons. If they choose abitrarily, then presumably they could chose to something else equally abitrarily, and if free will is possible, then this kind of choice does nothing to militate against it. However, if they choose on the basis of those reasons, we can then ask whether they can choose otherwise. Perhaps their are come other separate reasons for taking another course of action? Let's call the first reason or set of reasons Reason A, and the second set Reason B. We now want to choose between Reason A and Reason B. If there exists a rational way to choose between them (let's call this, Reason C), then if we follow this, then ultimately we are choosing on the basis of Reason C. If this is our only choice, if we are to be rational, then we are left with a Hobson's choice. We choose, of course - choosing doesn't imply nor is incompatible with not having free will - it's just an aspect of being the kinds of creatures with the kind of psychology of whatever we have. Having a Hobson's choice isn't having free will. If the Reason A and Reason B can't be compared - if there is no rational way to choose between them - then the choice is arbitrary again. If the question is between someone acting on reasons, or acting in some way which has no reason for it (let's assume it's acting on some irrational desire), if you are rational you will act on the reason. If your free will stems from your rationality, your rationality is really only giving you one choice. If your free will isn't linked to being rational, then you can choose to act irrationally or rationally. But on what basis do you choose? Rationally, or on some other basis opposed to rationality? Whatever basis it is, if you choose on that basis, that basis won't sanction you choosing the other option, so again you aren't free to choose between these two options (on the basis of the reason you have chosen on). If there is no basis on which to choose between your options, you are choosing abitratirily again.

    More generally, it's not about whether people who freely choose act on reasons or not. And I don't think it's whether the basis of your action is some kind of alien force. You can completely identify with being a rational person, and hence choose the rational choice. Or you might just have a character which is, unreflectively, rational, and so always judge in favour of the rational choice. But none of this implies that you can freely choose between the rational choice and some other option and that choice not be arbitrary.

    You're right, my third paragraph is too condensed. Roughly, I was just trying to think through the consequences for consequentialism of having free will or not having free will. MY rough observation is that most people tend to think about consequentialism as if they have free will be other people in society don't. We talk about what actions will bring about the best outcomes - but how can we presume what the outcomes will be, if we can't know how people are going to behave, because we all have free will (the fact we seem to make sociological predictions about how large groups of people will behave which are often accurate perhaps tells against free will, perhaps not - we might expect more randomness, but in a certain sense, but is randomness the same as abitrariness in this context?)

    Thanks again for your comments. Hope this makes more sense.
  • Wondering about free will and consequentialism


    Thanks for your comments, Friendly.

    On your first comment: I don't see how whether we are intrinsically malevolent or benevolent links to whether we have free will or not. We can imagine creatures whose actions aren't freely chosen of both types.

    On whether we have evolved to act morally - I agree we must have, though I also say that we have evolved to act immorally. In a certain sense, anything human beings do is something they have evolved to do, given that as a species we are the products of natural selection. More specifically, however, we can ask what aspects of ourselves are the result of being selected for, and which simply came along with the way our ancestors (and our) gene's mutated, whether those mutations lead to survival benefits for ourselves or not. On the former characteristics, I agree that, to a degree, traits which helped the species survive in our typical society-based way will have been selected for, and many of those traits are associated with morality. Some of them are associated with immorality, perhaps, however, such as nepotism, for example. Finally, we can always ask the question, of any common human behaviour, whether it is immoral or not, or moral or not.
  • Looking for suggestions on a particular approach to the Hard Problem
    Thank you Enrique! I work through things like this slowly, as I often get tired using a computer, but I'll will try to work through these, then get back to you. Best. R
  • Looking for suggestions on a particular approach to the Hard Problem
    Hello Ernestm, thanks for engaging in the conversation.

    Could I just check - your post implies Schopenhauer is disagreeing with me, but I couldn't see that. Should I be looking at the thread that Schopenhauer posted before I answer you. Just to flag it up, I may not get round to that tonight. Thanks very much.