Day 24: Not that much going on

15-16 Sep 2010

I woke up at 3:00 PM and took 1 piracetam and choline, and again at 9:00 PM and 3:00 AM. I would have posted this last night, but I was pretty tired and had a persistent headache, so I went to sleep early. I still felt alright for most of the day, and in a good mood. I don't really have much to talk to you about today! This is more of an obligatory update than an interesting-for-you-to-read update. I'm still settling back into the usual groove of sleeping whenever I want to, not really having to go outside very much, the typical way of life that I'm accustomed to.

I was planning to record the next video last night, but I didn't get a chance to, so I spent some time editing a long video that's still in production, and working my way through Zendegi. I did find something during the day that I just had to write about, as you probably saw. It disgusts me how reluctant people are to take action in the face of obvious problems, just because of prevailing societal bigotry. Even if you hate gay people, that doesn't make it more acceptable to let gay students be bullied without interference. Just like how if you disagree with religion, that still doesn't mean you can ignore it when religious students are bullied. I'm seriously concerned about how easily people can make a leap from "I don't like these people" to "they have less worth as a person than any other human being and deserve no protection from whatever might happen to them". That isn't right, and I wish more people could realize that.

Anyway, I'm going to be on dprjones' BlogTV fundraiser for Doctors Without Borders (MSF) this Saturday at 8 PM Eastern/7 PM Central. I suppose I should put together a video to publicize that. He's featuring some awesome people: James Randi, PZ Myers, Matt Dillahunty, philhellenes, Laci, AronRa, AndromedasWake, Peach, Criss, Darkmatter2525, NonStampCollector, Liberalviewer, FactVsReligion, and lots more. It should be pretty interesting. I hope you'll stop by and donate!

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4 responses to Day 24: Not that much going on

  1. Scott (Bouncer9000) says:

    I'll see if I can stop by, it'll be a pleasure to donate! :)

  2. Deggial says:

    People in general do seem pretty apathetic towards social causes, they get so comfortable with where they are that they fail to understand that life is at it's best when we are trying to learn, grow or improve our current circumstances. They try so hard to learn to become complacent with they own inadequacies; it seems that all of society, is designed to keep us from growing stronger, or to stop us from thinking for ourselves.

    Christian morality, which even many atheists still try to follow, is designed to break everyone down to the lowest common denominator, to eclipse the mind from it's reasoning faculties and block its innate moral creativity by giving us an objective morality that is especially designed to keep us weak and controllable.

    Some atheists say "even though there is no God we still have the capacity to be good people," but this could not be further from the truth. Without God, anything is permitted. I am not a christian by any means, in fact I only oppose this aspect of mainstream atheism because I see it as too closely related to the teachings of Christianity. The part that allows man to be just an inverted form of God, and the sacredness of faith to be replaced with the sacredness of science, mainly in the fields that involve the human subject.

    While I think it’s true that some of ‘God’s’ prescriptions are very problematic, even amoral (like gay rights), I think these are really issues with religion. And confusing God with religion is an error both sides of the debate make.

    I want to suggest that God is believed to be the keeper for morality is because he represents the existence of an objective perspective, an absolutism in the universe. Without the existence of such a perspective, the concept that something is wrong in the ultimate sense that we want things to be wrong becomes very difficult to ground. Moral realism becomes extremely hard to argue.

    Let’s take utilitarianism, for example, as you say a morality that exists without God. But how do we know what maximizes pleasure/happiness? What’s the ‘right’ pleasure, and for whom, and why? And how do we answer these questions in a satisfying way without referring to some kind of objective standpoint? That’s what I think is the relevant and interesting place God enters into the discussion.

    • I've got two things to point out to you that may not seem obvious.

      First, if God exists and is in any sense a mind with opinions and feelings, however knowledgeable he may be, his perspective cannot be objective. Something "objective" has be true independent of any minds thinking it, and like I said, if god is a mind, this disqualifies his opinions for objectivity. He may be really well informed as to the states of affairs in the universe, but he's still biased towards his definition of good (assuming this to be the case for now, even though I have no idea how you would come to that conclusion reasonably). From this we can establish that there is no objective definition of good and bad, since good and bad are only measurable in terms of how they affect beings who care about good and bad (which makes it purely subjective).

      Second, you claim that moral realism is hard to argue without an objective perspective. It isn't as hard as you may think. Take utilitarianism, the example you brought up. Although I cannot truly know what it's like for other people to feel pain, I am capable of asking them, and if they say they don't like it I'm capable of emphasizing and inferring that even though their pain can be totally qualitatively different from mine, it's still something they want to avoid. If you make the case that there's doubt as to whether anyone but you feels pain at all, this can be shown to be scientifically untenable. There's definite evidence of certain states of brain activity that indicate the subject is in pain, and THAT is an objective fact.

      I'll concede that without knowing an objective perspective, ethics may never be as accurate a science as, say, chemistry. That said, it doesn't have to be, it just has to do its best to maximize the good and minimize the bad. I consider myself a Preference Utilitarian. If you asked me to punch you in the face and swore to me that it was what you wanted, even though it would cause you pain (assuming I believed you), I'd do it because it's what you want. My definition of an ethical decision is one that allows the preferred states of the most people to be realized and that prevents the states that people prefer not to be in from being realized. I don't need an objective standard whatsoever, and I get along fine.

      Thanks for making me flesh this all out, I found it quite enjoyable, and I'd love to hear any thoughts you or other people have on this.

  3. Deggial says:

    As a Preference Utilitarianian you define "a morally right action as that which produces the most favorable consequences for the people involved. However, preference utilitarians interpret the best consequences in terms of 'preference satisfaction'. This means that 'good' is described as the satisfaction of each person's individual preferences or desires, and a right action is that which leads to this satisfaction." In a pragmatic sense this works fine, but it looks to me to be just a reiteration of "the golden rule". Sure, this will get you through your day, and it may be necessary to survive in modern society; where it breaks down though, is on a more global scale.

    Let's say 60% of a nation's people want to elect a president that will do harm to 55% of the world's total population. What does the Preference Utilitarian do? You could say that he or she deems the presidents actions immoral, the world's population certainly doesn't want to be hurt, but that course of action denies the preferences of 60% of that countries population, a ratio that just isn't very Utilitarian either way. You could even go so far as to say that the world's preferences outweigh the preferences of any one given country, but than their would have to be a global community with one central government. However, this breaks down because than Australians would take part in deciding if Iranians should have extra Mosques in their communities, which I am sure the majority of them could care less about.

    The point of departure here is human nature. I do not want to sound cynical, but the vast majority of people are petty and happily ignorant, with no intention of improving. They are a herd and have their own morality, but mostly they resent great people and spend their lives trying to become complacent in their unhappiness. Are all humans like this? Of course not. Human nature is not fixed, but the reality of the situation is that many choose to be this way. This system of morality won't work for them, it does not serve their selfish ends. People have drive to master, a will to power. Most just try to dominate others and their environment, few posses the wisdom needed to understand that the only true power is power over oneself

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