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Good and Evil: Assumptions Thread

 
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This thread outlines the assumptions of the other threads in the Good and Evil discussion.
Assumptions:
1. We have free will
2. Our actions have consequences
3. We are not simply responding to biological urges

For the discussion threads, I was thinking of a theoretical thread and a practical thread, because it seems that the biggest rift we've been having in the discussion to date is about possible consequences of practically applying the theoretical concepts were discussing. I'd like to try to keep those issues separate, and I address that at the end of this post.

With that in mind, I thought this assumptions thread might include the following discussions:
1. The assertion that this is a clockwork Universe
That is, that everything in the universe is simply chance interactions of physical laws. In this view, humanity is simply a blip on the radar of chance between Big Bang and Heat Death (or whatever your cosmological model may be) and thus there is no Right or Wrong, no Good or Evil, no nothing. We have no responsibility for our actions because they are essentially meaningless and, in that light, anything goes.
If you believe this, then any discussion of personal responsibility is moot, and so any arguments along those lines should remain in this thread.

2. The assertion that we are bound by our animal nature
That is that everything we THINK is free choice is simply a byproduct of various biological urges such as preservation of the species. Like assertion one, reduced to its final conclusion, this theory says that we have no responsibility, since we are simply acting as our nature tells us.
It seems to me that any iontroduction of our animal nature can ultimately have only one of two outcomes: either we succumb to it and have no responsibility (and thus Right and Wrong are simply matters of biology) or we overcome it. Therefore, any discussion of animal nature remains here.

That's my view on it, anyway. I think over time we may need to modify this post to add additional "assumption" topics, because given the highly intellectual and vocal nature of this group, I'm sure the conversation will veer again. But I'd really like to try to keep the other two threads on topic.

And what is on topic?
Well, in the theoretical thread, I'd like to address, without any practical social application, whether or not there really is an ultimate Right and Wrong. This is a discussion about whether there are actions that are inherently Wrong, so that they should never be accepted, even if by some chance they are or were culturally acceptable. By removing the discussions about mechanism and biology, we can focus on the specific concept of Rightness, and whether there is really a Platonic ideal. And by divorcing the issue from the practical aspects, it might allow us to better examine the actual topic. One of the big issues in the last thread was the fact that, if we have moral absolutes, we could use those as excuses to persecute others. I don't want that issue to cloud the discussion.
Meanwhile, in the practical thread, I thought we could cover the social aspects of morality. No matter how we come to a set of moral standards, what does that mean to our society and to others? How do we apply those standards in a Democracy, or in other governmental forms? How do we deal with countries that don't apply our standards? This can cover a wide range of topics, from civil rights to geopolitics.

Let's hear what you all think.
 
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I would like to make a note that the "Good and Evil" thread is largely about challenging the very basic and fundamental assumptions, and I actually believe that it progressed quite well (thanks to all who participated). Setting the initial assumptions would simply choke the discussion whose primary goal is to debate (and perhaps even revise) the first principles (i.e. the assumptions).
This is not to say that I am categorically against any form or structure within which a debate should be held. The "Good and Evil" thread, however, due to its nature, would be better off if it is not bound to any particular format.
I see your point, Joe, -- we did, indeed, go to many different directions and dimensions in that thread, and some of us perhaps misinterpreted what others tried to communicate. Yet the discussion never went off the main course, -- its just the points of view were different, and the subject itself is multidimensional.
 
Joe Pluta
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Originally posted by Eugene Kononov:
I would like to make a note that the "Good and Evil" thread is largely about challenging the very basic and fundamental assumptions, and I actually believe that it progressed quite well (thanks to all who participated). Setting the initial assumptions would simply choke the discussion whose primary goal is to debate (and perhaps even revise) the first principles (i.e. the assumptions).


That's what the assumptions thread is for, Eugene. If you want to challenge the assumptions, do so there. If you ACCEPT the assumptions, post on the discussion threads. This keeps the multi-dimensionality, while allowing people to focus on one dimension at a time.
Joe
 
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You talk about a theoretical thread and a practical thread. Which threads are you talking about? Are these threads you're about to start, or threads that already exist? I'm not sure which is which.
I'd also note that Eugene is the one who started the original Good and Evil thread - questioning his notion of what the thread is about seems, well, a little odd. Perhaps starting new threads yourself is the way to go here.
If you believe this, then any discussion of personal responsibility is moot, and so any arguments along those lines should remain in this thread.
This assertion, I have a problem with. "Any discussion of personal responsibility is moot" because I believe in a clockwork universe? (Albeit "clockwork" with lots of random number generators.) Bologna. We're still living beings who experience pleasure and pain, and have hopes and desires, and have an interest in living in a society that's a pleasant place to live in, and will be pleasant for our kids. And "personal responsibility" is a very useful meme for bringing achieving this, IMO, even if it's not backed by some notion of underlying Good and Evil. Sorry if my motives for being interested in "personal responsibility" don't exactly match yours, but I don't appreciate the notion that my opinion on the matter would be "moot" as a result.
Separation of issues is fine, but asserting that others' opionions aren't relevant isn't going to achieve it well. It just encourages us to post about why you're wrong.
Now of course there's a good chance I've misunderstood your intent here,so I'll shut up now.
 
Joe Pluta
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My plan is, if people agree, to start two new threads, Jim.
You're right that Eugene started the Good and Evil thread, but because most of us sort of missed his point about the mechanistic nature of the universe (see the byplay between Map and Eugene), I think we in effect hijacked HIS thread! Thus my desire to start a new discussion.
EK: Good and Evil do not exist in the sense of the meaning that we apply to these phenomenas. They are just the existantial interpretation of the concept of motion that human mind is trying to rationalize.
Eugene consistently compares human actions to attributes of the physical universe like photons. He says calling a person's actions Evil is akin to calling a photon Evil. This is because, in his view, we're all just vibrations on strings. This is this mechanistic view that I'm saying makes personal responsibility moot.
The discussion of whether our thought processes and motivations actually exist and are under our control and thus are subject to moral scrutiny, or are instead simply incidental byproducts of natural causes of the universe stays on this thread. If, however, you let stand the assumption that we are responsible for our actions, then the discussion moves to one of the other threads. Neither position is inherently better than the other, but they are, to my mind, mutually exclusive.
If Eugene agrees that we still have responsibility for our actions, then I'm cool with the concept, and photons should never come into the discussion, eh? This is not saying that Good or Evil ideals exist, but that human thoughts and motivations are more than vibrations on a cosmic string (or biological urges).
Does that help?
Joe
 
Jim Yingst
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Does that help?
Yup. Thanks.
 
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JP --- My plan is, if people agree, to start two new threads
Let's give it a try.
 
Joe Pluta
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Alright. I'll see if I can put together something tonight for the other two threads.
Joe
 
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[deleted]
[ September 17, 2003: Message edited by: Jim Yingst ]
 
Anonymous
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Thats not me, u can check the IP
[ September 23, 2003: Message edited by: Thomas Paul ]
 
Joe Pluta
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Hey moderators? What the heck is going on here? If IKK doesn't mind his getting deleted, can we clean the last two posts out of this thread (well, three including this one )? I already deleted my last one.
Joe
 
Anonymous
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Originally posted by Joe Pluta:
Hey moderators? What the heck is going on here? If IKK doesn't mind his getting deleted, can we clean the last two posts out of this thread (well, three including this one )? I already deleted my last one.
Joe


Like mods are gonna consider my posts they are gonna delete mine any way. Like I have always said they have a boner for you and jump to delete mine
 
Jim Yingst
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Hey moderators? What the heck is going on here?
Well, it looks like IKK and IAKK are not the same person. I left the shell of IAKK's post to show what had happened. I could delete more posts, but for now will leave them so that the involved parties can more clearly understand what happened.
So, to the "real" IKK: this is a good example of why anonymous posts are not a good idea if you want to be taken at all seriously, or if you plan to stick around. It's too easy for any jackass who wants to, to post something and make people think that you're the jackass. The moderators here have some ability to see through this, but it's not guaranteed. More importantly, we don't want to get in the habit of having to verify the identity of people who post anonymously and then have their anonymous "identity" compromised. That's what registered accounts are for. Why should we spend extra effort? Moreover, what would it matter if people think that IKK is a jerk or not? IKK doesn't mean anything; he's a fiction. What people think of Joe Pluta or Eugene Kononov or Thomas Paul may matter, because those are real peole with real identities. What people think of a person with a made-up name in a registered account may matter too. Because even though that's not his real name, if he uses a registered account, we know at least that it's the same person each time, and we can use the person's past history to evaluate that person's future posts. Is this person someone whose opinions matter to me? There are many people here whose opionions I respect, even thought I have no idea who they "really" are. Because I've seen enough posts from them to be able to form an opionion anyway.
Personally I'd prefer we ban anonymous posts entirely in this forum, but the current decision is that we won't. So, by default I just assume that any anonymous poster could be anyone, and their opionion doesn't really matter much to me. If they're funny, cool; if they're offensive, they can be deleted with much less regard than I would give a registered account. If they say something profound and meaningful, that's cool, but it doesn't give them any increased credibility the next time I see the name, because it could be someone else entirely. So far the IKK "handle" hasn't registered too high on my annoyance list. But if you want to stick around here and have people consider your opinions seriously, you'd be well advised to start using some sort of registered account. Cheers...
 
Anonymous
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Originally posted by Jim Yingst:
Hey moderators? What the heck is going on here?
But if you want to stick around here and have people consider your opinions seriously, you'd be well advised to start using some sort of registered account. Cheers...


I wanted to register as 'I Killed Kenny'. Since JRanch does not allow that i will keep posting like this. when JRanch allows i will register. u folks, either care enough to delete them or choose to ignore that aint my problem. Anyways thanks Jim
 
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