6:45 pm - Wed, Aug 27, 2014
14 notes
Q: Hi there, I'm pretty sure as an academic you love to acquire knowledge and to see other people's perspective. So, can I suggest, if you please, that you read "Mere Christianity" by C.S Lewis. Just read it. If you're so certain of your stance, I believe you have nothing to lose by doing so. C.S.L used to be an atheist before he became a Christian, so maybe you would relate to him more and see what made him later believe in Jesus. Even if it's just to satisfy your curiosity, please do read it
belleamour

academicatheism:

First, let me briefly address this misconception with my blog’s title. I aspire to be an academic. I don’t yet consider myself an academic. On this blog I share academic perspectives as they concern atheism, religion, and science and philosophy as they relate to atheism and religion. I do love to acquire knowledge and understand other perspectives no matter how erred, but that doesn’t stop me from exposing folly. Now to the thrust of your inquiry.

Some would say that “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis is required reading for a Christian. People in one of the congregations I attended raved about the book a lot, so I decided to read it some five years ago. The book provides some insight into modern Christianity, but it doesn’t threaten atheism in the slightest. Lewis has always been an anti-naturalist* and that’s precisely because he was never an atheist. Pagans aren’t atheists; they simply believe in gods other than Yahweh. To be an atheist, one must lack belief in all gods—not just Yahweh. That Lewis called himself an atheist implies he wasn’t familiar with the definition of atheism or called himself one to discredit atheism or more specifically, to show people that it’s possible to become a Christian after having been an atheist. Never mind how many Christians have become atheists. No amount of converts in either direction will make Christianity or atheism true. That’s a fallacy—namely argumentum ad populum. That which is true is that which corresponds to reality (i.e. correspondence theory of truth).

With that said, I don’t care if atheism is true or not. I lose nothing if atheism turned out to be false. You, on the other hand, would lose a crucial part of your identity if you realized that Christianity is false. Unfortunately, nothing about reality corresponds to Christianity. Jesus Christ, your lord and savior, was definitely not the Christ of the Gospels; it is doubtful that he ever existed historically speaking. If he’s the basis and founder of your religion, what’s left of your religion if he isn’t (roughly) the Christ depicted in the Gospels? What’s left of your religion if he wasn’t a historical person? Atheism, on the flip side, corresponds to reality. Any evidence people claim for gods is trivial and/or circumstantial (e.g. personal revelation; hallucinations). There’s simply no solid evidence for any of the gods that have been conceived. There’s nothing supernatural or paranormal about reality. The Earth, the solar system, the galaxy, the entirety of the cosmos didn’t require a creator. Reality dictates that there’s no gap for a god to crawl into.

*If you’re interested in a discussion on Lewis’ Argument Against Naturalism, read here. Gertrude Elizabeth Margaret Anscombe’s rebuttal proved fatal. Lewis’ revision of the argument proved even less cogent than the original. It’s no surprise that anti-naturalists are always the same people that believe in the supernatural. Alvin Plantinga, for instance, though a philosopher I respect far more than C.S. Lewis, is also an anti-naturalist. His Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN) is better than Lewis’ argument, but Plantinga’s argument, though widely discussed, is also unconvincing (see here and here). Ultimately, it’s difficult for me to respect an opponent who hasn’t matched my research. It’s like expecting a well-trained fighter to fight a person with no training. The people I respect less are them who ask me to read this or that book as if they’re willing to read any of the books I would recommend. That’s the pivotal difference between me and my opponents: confirmation bias is squarely on their side of the fence. That’s because I’m seeking the truth; my opponents think they’ve already located it.

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Oh snap!

12:10 pm - Sun, Aug 24, 2014
52 notes
academicatheism:

by-grace-of-god:

"It used to be that we could hate the sin and love the sinner, but the problem is now we’re not allowed to hate the sin anymore!  We have to love the sin, celebrate the sin, and above all, stop calling it sin! …It’s not intolerant to make the judgment that something is morally wrong and oppose it.  Just as sex does not equal love, neither does tolerance!  There is such a thing as sin, and it leads to death, and Love demands that we tell our brothers and sisters the truth so that they might decide to reject sin and gain life." - Jennifer Hartline
Truth, Tolerance & Relativism

See, to have a discussion, there are terms that have to be met. One, for example, has to listen to their opponent. One shouldn’t ascribe views to an opponent, especially when an opponent doesn’t actually advocate them. Some Christians hate being equated with creationists and fundamentalists and as an atheist, one shouldn’t equate all Christians with those specific groups. Likewise, Christians shouldn’t ascribe moral relativism to all atheists because the notion that all atheists are moral relativists is simply false.
Before I get into my previous reply, it’s useful to point out that Christians who ascribe moral relativism to atheists are basing that notion on a false dichotomy. In other words, these Christians feel as though objectivism and relativism are the only options—as if there’s no middle ground between the two or more importantly, as if there aren’t other versions of realism that aren’t substantive realism. This brings me to my previous reply—one that went unaddressed.
In my previous reply, I mentioned that I am a procedural realist. I defined the term so that you can see the difference between your version of realism and mine. I added that your version begs the question by merely assuming that morality is objective and that it’s contingent on god. Neither of those propositions are justified on your view. You may feel warranted in considering both assumptions to be axiomatic, but it isn’t clear to everyone that morality is objective. Furthermore, it’s definitely not clear to everyone that morality is contingent on your god. Thus, to establish the former, you need to flesh out examples showing that morality is objective. To establish the latter, you have to establish the existence of your god. Then you have to show why morality is continent on him. It isn’t enough to assert that this is the case. Quod gratis asseritur, gratis negatur.
My view succeeds where yours fails—at least on the former count. The latter isn’t necessary on my view because whether or not god exists has no bearing on the objectivity of morality. My view accomplishes this by essentially inverting your proposition. You posit that there are objective answers to moral questions because there are moral values and duties that exist apart from procedures which answer moral questions. I posit the opposite: there are objective answers to moral questions because there are procedures that assist us in answering these questions. Are the procedures themselves objective?
The procedures themselves are objective given the similarity of human brains. We have the same needs and desires. Citing examples of abnormal brains doesn’t harm procedural realism. Sure there are psychopaths and narcissists. There definitely are bad people. However, generally speaking, humans are moral agents. This, in part, can be traced given evolution. There are, for instance, empathy, cooperation, and care for kin in nature. Therefore, the rudiments of morality can be seen in nature and not surprisingly, it is mostly seen in mammals—the phylum we pertain to. Given our common ancestry and given the congruence of our brains, whatever procedures (e.g. problem-solution; CI procedure) we employ to answer moral questions will be objective. Even if it doesn’t start out that way, it will get that way (e.g. Kant’s Kingdom of Ends). Given that morality is an example of crowd-sourced knowledge, the peculiarities of this or that individual or group will eventually be weeded out.
Lastly, there are different versions of relativism. The version some Christians want to ascribe to atheists is normative relativism. It’s this have-it-your-way sort of morality that the graphic alludes to. Unfortunately, if you knew anything about us, you’d quickly realize that that is far from the case. Atheists are utilitarians, consequentialists, contractualists, constructivists, procedural realists, etc. That’s the beauty of philosophy: even if one doesn’t realize that one advocates a certain view, that doesn’t change the fact that one holds a given view. In other words, some atheists are utilitarians though they’re not familiar with Jeremy Bentham or John Stuart Mill. They need not be familiar with their attitudes in order to adopt them, and that applies across the board when speaking of philosophy.
Ultimately, I stated my view. I defined it. I contrasted it against your fallacious view. Regardless of that, you continue to ascribe a view to me that I certainly don’t advocate. Not only do I not advocate normative relativism, I can write a thesis explaining why I strongly disagree with the view. Like you, I’m concerned with the propositions inherent to normative relativism. On that view, in what meaningful sense can we say someone is wrong for committing a misdeed? It follows that objectivism and realism are necessary. So we have common ground. The issue is that you’ve ended the discussion with what amounts to pejorative and sweeping generalizations. You do so because you think being pro-choice is an endorsement of normative relativism. It’s not. That’s another discussion and given past attempts, it’s not one you want to have. So I’ll link you to a discussion in where your fellow Catholic failed to make his case. By some estimates, Niko is one of the best Tumblr Catholics have. I beg to differ!
By the way, another condescending thing some Christians ascribe to atheists is the love of sin. First and foremost, we don’t believe in sin. I maintain that certain actions are wrong and as such, I avoid committing them. One doesn’t need to believe in god to know that murder, rape, and theft are wrong. Atheists do not love to sin so get that stupid idea out of your head. On the Euthyphro dilemma, belief in god makes everything permissible given that god is either allowing or commanding it. Your version of realism cannot escape the absurdity that is Divine Command Theory.* Therefore, if god sanctions the murder of a child, then the murder of that child becomes moral because it’s being done in obedience to god. There are two examples of this in the Bible—one where god stopped Abraham’s hand and another where god allowed Jephthah to sacrifice his daughter. This is another reason why procedural realism is more cogent.
*I suggest reading Utilitarian Command Theory, which is a reducio ad absurdum of Divine Command Theory.

academicatheism:

by-grace-of-god:

"It used to be that we could hate the sin and love the sinner, but the problem is now we’re not allowed to hate the sin anymore!  We have to love the sin, celebrate the sin, and above all, stop calling it sin! …It’s not intolerant to make the judgment that something is morally wrong and oppose it.  Just as sex does not equal love, neither does tolerance!  There is such a thing as sin, and it leads to death, and Love demands that we tell our brothers and sisters the truth so that they might decide to reject sin and gain life." - Jennifer Hartline

Truth, Tolerance & Relativism

See, to have a discussion, there are terms that have to be met. One, for example, has to listen to their opponent. One shouldn’t ascribe views to an opponent, especially when an opponent doesn’t actually advocate them. Some Christians hate being equated with creationists and fundamentalists and as an atheist, one shouldn’t equate all Christians with those specific groups. Likewise, Christians shouldn’t ascribe moral relativism to all atheists because the notion that all atheists are moral relativists is simply false.

Before I get into my previous reply, it’s useful to point out that Christians who ascribe moral relativism to atheists are basing that notion on a false dichotomy. In other words, these Christians feel as though objectivism and relativism are the only options—as if there’s no middle ground between the two or more importantly, as if there aren’t other versions of realism that aren’t substantive realism. This brings me to my previous reply—one that went unaddressed.

In my previous reply, I mentioned that I am a procedural realist. I defined the term so that you can see the difference between your version of realism and mine. I added that your version begs the question by merely assuming that morality is objective and that it’s contingent on god. Neither of those propositions are justified on your view. You may feel warranted in considering both assumptions to be axiomatic, but it isn’t clear to everyone that morality is objective. Furthermore, it’s definitely not clear to everyone that morality is contingent on your god. Thus, to establish the former, you need to flesh out examples showing that morality is objective. To establish the latter, you have to establish the existence of your god. Then you have to show why morality is continent on him. It isn’t enough to assert that this is the case. Quod gratis asseritur, gratis negatur.

My view succeeds where yours fails—at least on the former count. The latter isn’t necessary on my view because whether or not god exists has no bearing on the objectivity of morality. My view accomplishes this by essentially inverting your proposition. You posit that there are objective answers to moral questions because there are moral values and duties that exist apart from procedures which answer moral questions. I posit the opposite: there are objective answers to moral questions because there are procedures that assist us in answering these questions. Are the procedures themselves objective?

The procedures themselves are objective given the similarity of human brains. We have the same needs and desires. Citing examples of abnormal brains doesn’t harm procedural realism. Sure there are psychopaths and narcissists. There definitely are bad people. However, generally speaking, humans are moral agents. This, in part, can be traced given evolution. There are, for instance, empathy, cooperation, and care for kin in nature. Therefore, the rudiments of morality can be seen in nature and not surprisingly, it is mostly seen in mammals—the phylum we pertain to. Given our common ancestry and given the congruence of our brains, whatever procedures (e.g. problem-solution; CI procedure) we employ to answer moral questions will be objective. Even if it doesn’t start out that way, it will get that way (e.g. Kant’s Kingdom of Ends). Given that morality is an example of crowd-sourced knowledge, the peculiarities of this or that individual or group will eventually be weeded out.

Lastly, there are different versions of relativism. The version some Christians want to ascribe to atheists is normative relativism. It’s this have-it-your-way sort of morality that the graphic alludes to. Unfortunately, if you knew anything about us, you’d quickly realize that that is far from the case. Atheists are utilitarians, consequentialists, contractualists, constructivists, procedural realists, etc. That’s the beauty of philosophy: even if one doesn’t realize that one advocates a certain view, that doesn’t change the fact that one holds a given view. In other words, some atheists are utilitarians though they’re not familiar with Jeremy Bentham or John Stuart Mill. They need not be familiar with their attitudes in order to adopt them, and that applies across the board when speaking of philosophy.

Ultimately, I stated my view. I defined it. I contrasted it against your fallacious view. Regardless of that, you continue to ascribe a view to me that I certainly don’t advocate. Not only do I not advocate normative relativism, I can write a thesis explaining why I strongly disagree with the view. Like you, I’m concerned with the propositions inherent to normative relativism. On that view, in what meaningful sense can we say someone is wrong for committing a misdeed? It follows that objectivism and realism are necessary. So we have common ground. The issue is that you’ve ended the discussion with what amounts to pejorative and sweeping generalizations. You do so because you think being pro-choice is an endorsement of normative relativism. It’s not. That’s another discussion and given past attempts, it’s not one you want to have. So I’ll link you to a discussion in where your fellow Catholic failed to make his case. By some estimates, Niko is one of the best Tumblr Catholics have. I beg to differ!

By the way, another condescending thing some Christians ascribe to atheists is the love of sin. First and foremost, we don’t believe in sin. I maintain that certain actions are wrong and as such, I avoid committing them. One doesn’t need to believe in god to know that murder, rape, and theft are wrong. Atheists do not love to sin so get that stupid idea out of your head. On the Euthyphro dilemma, belief in god makes everything permissible given that god is either allowing or commanding it. Your version of realism cannot escape the absurdity that is Divine Command Theory.* Therefore, if god sanctions the murder of a child, then the murder of that child becomes moral because it’s being done in obedience to god. There are two examples of this in the Bible—one where god stopped Abraham’s hand and another where god allowed Jephthah to sacrifice his daughter. This is another reason why procedural realism is more cogent.

*I suggest reading Utilitarian Command Theory, which is a reducio ad absurdum of Divine Command Theory.

(via bluejewofzsouchmuhn)

6:12 pm - Sat, Aug 23, 2014
120 notes
Q: I'm sure your church/cult is very proud of yoir idiotic behavior here on tumblr. Your maturity level is pathetic for an adult. Stay creepy my friend.
theoriginofthespecies

academicatheism:

fatherangel:

academicatheism:

The level of snark and lack of compassion is unbelievable. If this is one of your fathers, I don’t want to know what your parishioners are like. If this is a Christ-like example, I want nothing to do with the “Lord’s chosen.” What’s my point? Some people are turned away from Christianity because they’re aware of the reasons Christianity isn’t true; others are turned away not because they’re informed but because they’re marginalized or even demonized by people who claim to be “washed clean as snow by the blood of Jesus.” I’ve my reasons for knowing there was no such sacrifice, but assuming there was, it was ineffective. The minute your beliefs are questioned, everything that’s vile comes to the fore. Justify it however you want, but regardless of your pretenses, you people are no better than non-Christians and non-believers. Keep deluding yourselves.

If you don’t like being put in your place, do not assume to preach a moral high ground while calling people idiotic, pathetic, and creepy. Otherwise, this is Tumblr. This is the internet. People who are religious, and fellow atheists too, will just tell you off and give you a dose of your own medicine. 

Seems your senility is seeping through. The admin over at theoriginofthespecies and I are two different people. In any case, two wrongs don’t make a right. Learn some logic because tu quoque is no justification for your actions. The real issue is you’re generalizing atheists and that’s why you feel it apt to speak to us as if we’re all the same person.

Attempting to throw the “You’re not Christ-like” around and worrying about people being turned away rings hollow. You cannot speak for Christ and what is “Christ-like” except insofar as that “Christ-like” adjective is convenient for you when you preach down to someone. More so, people who invade the inbox and leave nasty messages simply have no credibility with which to say they were “turned away.”

Along the lines of the previous section, your nasty inbox messages have nothing to do with me. Calling us “creatures” is puerile pejorative and no matter how many messages you pull out of your inbox, nothing you say can justify your behavior. On one thing you’re right: I can’t speak for Christ and that’s for two reasons: 1) I don’t believe in him 2) I think it’s safe to say he never existed and thus, the notion of him still being alive is nonsensical. In a nutshell, I can’t speak for a myth or alternatively, a long-dead, mediocre, first-century Palestine who was mythologized by a band of fanatics. But hey, you don’t want to practice what you preach; I’ll let you fall victim to your own hypocrisy.

fatherangel:

Atheist creature, your opinion is neither desired, nor required.

Go away, preferably back to the land of the lost.

You are in no position to preach about idiotic behavior or maturity.

YOU HAVE SOME SERIOUS EVOLVING YOU NEED TO DO. Go evolve.

Grow up. Maturity is not waiting for others to tip toe sensitively around your easily hurt feelings while you get to operate on a different standard of atheist sanctimony. Maturity means seeing both sides of a conflict and seeking to reconcile people that you do not judge—it is not adding to your already self-righteous judgments (yes, commenting on a person’s parishioners says more about you than about a crowd of people you have never met).

I’m more grown up than you are and I assure you, my feelings aren’t hurt. Your pseudo-comedy may be entertainment for your drone followers, but it’s petty to me. There isn’t a conflict here. There’s your hurt feelings, your taking offense to some messages, and your generalization of a diverse group of people. Lastly, I don’t have to meet your parishioners to judge them. They cheered you on while you made comments in poor taste. Again, I’ll leave you to your hypocritical devices.

6:39 pm - Sun, Aug 17, 2014
38 notes

Christians Should Give Up On The Moral Argument

academicatheism:

wisdomfish:

If atheism is true, there’s no basis for objective moral values and duties. And if everything’s ultimately reducible to physical processes and matter just behaving according to law, it seems pretty tough to build a moral foundation that doesn’t leave you as a total subjectivist.

Here’s what I mean: If there’s no good and no evil, like Richard Dawkins says in his book, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life, then there is “no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference” in our universe. How’s that for a description of reality?

What this means is that if atheism’s true, then what’s “good” or what’s “evil” is basically just you saying what you happen to like or what you happen to not like. So as an atheist, you could say “I don’t happen to like the idea of human trafficking” or “I don’t prefer to be the victim of spousal abuse.” But you couldn’t have any kind of real, moral grounding to call it objectively evil—if atheism is true.

Mikel Del Rosario

Usually, for the moral argument to work, the Christian first has to paint his opponent as a normative relativist—as if that’s the only position available to opponents who reject your sort of substantive realism. I’m an atheist. I’m also not a normative relativist. Furthermore, Dawkins isn’t my voice. I have my own and thus, I will disagree with him about some things though as I show later, he’s not actually saying what Rosario thinks he’s saying.

Once setting aside the normative relativism you want us to accept, the next thing to do is to address the moral argument as usually formulated. To that we now turn. Thankfully, I’ve already addressed this argument before and at length. 

Let’s consider the argument as commonly formulated:

P1 If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.

P2 Objective moral values and duties do exist.

C   Therefore, God exists.

Without providing any alternatives just yet, I’ll attack this argument directly. Starting with P1, it’s useful to point out the predilection that’s hiding in that sentence. How can you know that objective moral values and duties can’t exist even without a god? You can’t know that. Thus, you’re simply assuming that that’s the case; it follows that you’re imposing faith rather than knowledge. I agree with P2. P2 is the only sound premise in the argument. However, it is possible to have true premises and a false conclusion. That makes for an invalid argument.  Let’s assume both premises are true. Though this would require a separate discussion, C is demonstrably false. The Judeo-Christian god doesn’t exist. God, according to Christianity, is triune. Thus, I can demonstrate that there’s no father or no son or no holy spirit. Those are my options. I am very adept at demonstrating the nonexistence of the father and the son based on the empirical methodology of history. By default, the holy spirit is cancelled out since they’re one.  It follows that the argument is then invalid.

You argue that morality becomes relative if god doesn’t exist. Yet we seem to agree that it’s objective though, on my view, it can be demonstrated that the Judeo-Christian god doesn’t exist. The question is, how then is it objective without god? Can we offer an explanation?  Ethics has become one of my focuses for precisely this reason and I’ve come across a few explanations that are compelling. Granted, some are incomplete. Some are less compelling than others. But the fact that an explanation is incomplete is no reason to reject it and it certainly doesn’t warrant certainty that there is no possible explanation. That’s precisely what Rosario claims, however: without god, not only can we not have objective morality, but we can’t offer an adequate explanation for its existence. This is false. Thus, relativism isn’t the consequence of morality without god.  

Also, towards the end, he mentions moral ontology and seems to imply a distinction it has with moral epistemology.  Relativism and objectivism do not have to be at odds.  After all, even William Lane Craig acknowledges what I call moral classes (compare that to socioeconomic classes).  For instance, the West has more moral knowledge than the Korowai in Papau, New Guinea and thus, Westerners are a higher moral class than the Korowai are.  This relativistic knowledge rests on moral epistemology and not on moral ontology.  Something can be objectively wrong though some culture or some person refuses to recognize it.

The Moral Argument for God rests on what Christine Korsgaard calls substantive realism—the view that states that “there are correct procedures for answering moral questions because there are moral truths or facts, which exist independently of those procedures, and which those procedures track.”1 Like Korsgaard, I agree that substantive realism begs the question since it assumes moral standards without providing a basis for them. What’s worse is that theistic substantive realism also assumes the existence of god and thus, further begs the question. It’s viciously circular. So, in light of this, what’s my alternative?

Korsgaards’s view—a view that I share—is procedural realism, which states that “there are answers to moral questions because there are correct procedures for arriving at them.”2 You can consider for example Kant’s CI procedure, a few of which are compatible with human moral behavior. This is a point argued forcefully in my recent essay on the possibility of a pluralistic moral algorithm.3 Also, the view is compatible with societal norms, moral universals, and the emergence of law at different times throughout history. If the procedures come before the answers, then there’s no need to assume that we know the answers before we find them. It follows that Adam Smith’s problem-solution idea is another procedure we can consult. I expound on that idea and formulate a working model that aligns with our moral behavior.4 Given what I’ve surveyed, it should be obvious to anyone that the apple has fallen far from the relativist tree.

Lastly, there’s something I need to correct in Rosario’s quote. He misquoted Dawkins and misunderstood what Dawkins is saying.  Dawkins said the following:

"The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly being devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst, and disease. It must be so. If there ever is a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in the population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored. In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”5

He’s not speaking of this relativism Rosario invokes. He’s clearly alluding to nihilism—both existential (made obvious by “no purpose”) and moral (made obvious by “no evil, no good”). Those are completely different views; they have no place in Rosario’s presentation. Apologists fancy themselves philosophers, but in my experience they’re always missing a key characteristic in every good philosopher: an attention to detail. To confuse relativism for nihilism is an egregious error.

Notes & Works Cited

1 Korsgaard, Christine M., and Onora Neill.The Sources of Normativity, p.36-37. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996. Print.

2 Ibid.

3 The notion of a pluralistic moral algorithm and consequently, an individualistic moral algorithm can be related to procedural realism. Procedural realism states that “there are answers to moral questions because there are correct procedures for arriving at them.”Korsgaard adds that because people are rational agents, they have an ideal person they want to become and they thus guide their actions accordingly. What’s most important on her view is that moral agents self-legislate. Self-legislation aligns perfectly with the notion of both an individualistic and a pluralistic moral algorithm. It also aligns perfectly with Kant’s autonomy formulation of his categorical imperative which states that one should act in such a way that one’s will can regard itself at the same time as making universal laws through its maxims. Arguably, something much simpler than Kant’s formulation can be at play when speaking of autonomy and self-legislation. However, Kant’s formulation of the Kingdom of Ends takes us from individualistic to pluralistic because the formulation states that one should act as if one were through one’s maxims a law-making member of a kingdom of ends.

Continue Reading

See Here

5 Dawkins, Richard. River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life, p.120. New York, NY: Basic Books, 1995. Print.

6:33 pm
27 notes

There is No Problem of Good

academicatheism:

wisdomfish:

So, becoming an atheist doesn’t seem to help us make better sense of evil. But even more than this, the atheist position’s got another problem to deal with: The Problem of Good. In other words, naturalism has the challenge of providing a sufficient moral grounding for goodness itself—in addition to making sense of evil in the world. And that’s a pretty tall order for a philosophy with absolutely no room for God.

— Mikel Del Rosario

In my experience, a lot of Christians seem to think that an inverse argument defeats an argument. In other words, if one can simply turn an argument on its head, it’s defeated. Before showing you why there’s no Problem of Good, I want to point out that it is based on a false analogy.

The Problem of Evil cites an incongruity between an omnibenevolent, loving deity and the existence of evil in the world. The Problem of Good, on the other hand, cites a supposed incompatibility between naturalism and the existence of good—as if naturalism is somehow equivalent to a perfect, all-loving deity. The analogy is simply false.

The strongest version of The Problem of Evil doesn’t point at all evil but at gratuitous evil. In other words, even in a world where god existed, it’s reasonable to expect murderers. However, in a world where god exists, can one expect genital mutilation as a religious practice (note: I am not caricaturing Judaic circumcision but rather highlighting the practice as seen in extremist Islam)? In a world where god exists, can one expect child sex rings? Some evil is too gratuitous to be compatible with such a deity.

On naturalism, however, this is what you would expect. If humans are susceptible to functional and structural abnormalities and thus susceptible to various psychological shortcomings, it is reasonable to expect a pedophile, a psychopath murderer, and so on. In a world without god, one’s personality isn’t due to a divine soul but rather to whatever state the brain is in; furthermore, one’s personality is subject to change because of neuroplasticity and the possibility of damage or adverse effects from sleep deprivation, drug and/or alcohol abuse, and so on. We would also expect some people to be born defective. Thus, evil is explained quite simply on naturalism.

How about good? That’s also not a problem. Earlier I showed that it’s based on a false analogy; however, another thing that’s clear is that it’s a variant of the Moral arguments for god. Instead of saying that morality has no grounding if not in god, this argument states that good can’t arise naturally. The notion is simply false. If evil can arise naturally due to neurological, psychological, and, one might add, genetic abnormalities, good is simply the default state in the absence of the aforementioned. Altruism arises in nature. Empathy, cooperation, and a care for kin arise in nature as well, so it’s no surprise they exist in a social animal like humans. Such cooperation is the very basis of nuclear families and ultimately societies. There have been and are societies and cultures that have had no contact with even the notion of the Judeo-Christian god, so a believer would be hard pressed to explain how those people are good. To say they have in them a god-infused soul or primordial goodness is to beg the question. The naturalist need only remind you that kindness toward each other is expected. If this is truly the only life one has, assuming said person is normal, why would you lead a life of discord, lack of empathy, and so on? It’s simply not conducive to your continued survival or well-being.

Given this brief survey, it’s safe to conclude that there’s no Problem of Good. Good and evil are to be expected in a world of psychological beings subject to neurobiological and genetic plasticity. Evil, however, is incongruent with your beliefs and given the vast literature on the subject, it’s a tough philosophical problem to address. On my view, if one simply presses against my amygdala, I’ll be dubbed evil.

For as long as evil has existed, people have wondered about its source, and you don’t have to be too much of a scientific reductionist to conclude that the first place to look is the brain. There’s not a thing you’ve ever done, thought or felt in your life that isn’t ultimately traceable to a particular webwork of nerve cells firing in a particular way, allowing the machine that is you to function as it does. So if the machine is busted — if the operating system in your head fires in crazy ways — are you fully responsible for the behavior that follows?1

If you damage or impair my orbifrontal region, I might display an inordinate lust for children.

In a celebrated 2003 case published in the Archives of Neurology, for example, a 40-year-old Virginia schoolteacher with no history of pedophilia developed a sudden interest in child pornography and began making sexual overtures to his stepdaughter. His wife reported his behavior, and he was arrested and assigned to a 12-step program for sex offenders. He flunked out of the course — he couldn’t stop propositioning staff members — and was sentenced to prison. Only a day before he was set to surrender, however, he appeared in a local emergency room with an explosive headache and a range of other neurological symptoms. Doctors scanned his brain and found a tumor the size of an egg in the right orbitofrontal cortex, the region that processes decisionmaking and other so-called executive functions. The tumor was removed and the compulsive sexuality vanished along with it. Less than a year later, the tumor returned — and so, almost in lockstep, did his urges.2

Simpleton apologetics is never well-thought out. People like Rosario and certainly bloggers like yourself seek to misrepresent competing views—to reduce them in such a way as to make them appear ridiculous. Yet naturalism, despite your wishes, isn’t ridiculous. It’s, in fact, far more cogent than your beliefs. Your beliefs are actually ridiculous and persist only because you’ve simplified them the way modern Christians are fond of doing. “God is good” is a modern phrase that finds its roots in selective reading. If taken as is and when adding the fact that there’s no way to read the entire Bible as allegory, it’s impossible to believe that your god is good. He, on many occasions, purportedly murdered children callously for no reason other than the fact that their parents worshiped other deities or committed some act he considered abominable. Therein lies the most demented aspect of Christianity: the belief in inherited sin; the notion that a child can pay ransom for the crimes of his forefathers. The problems are completely on your end. It’s high time you accept that.

Works Cited

1 Kluger, Jeffrey. "Evil Brains: Can Science Understand Them?"Time. 3 May 2013.

2 Ibid.

8:00 pm - Thu, Aug 14, 2014
9 notes

academicatheism:

In the last part of my philosophy series, “Thinking about the ‘Metaphysics’ in Metaphysical Naturalism,” I discussed cosmology and the origins of our universe from a naturalist and atheistic perspective. In this next part of the series I will be focusing more particularly on the origin of life in our universe (at least on the only planet currently known to host life, i.e. Earth), and the evolution of lifeforms from simple states to the intelligent minds of human beings today. This journey will require discussing: 1) the abiogenesis of life from non-living matter, 2) the evolution of biological diversity from common descent, 3) and the mind-body physicalism of human minds in a naturalist universe.

Continue Reading

10:20 pm - Wed, Aug 13, 2014
135 notes
Q: Hello father. I am often called upon to represent the Catholic Church positions. Some days ago, someone said me that Catholic are homophobic, because in the Bible they are some verses who condemn homosexual relations. I don't know what I should answer. Can you help me ?
worldofwallerant

generic-scrubnoob:

theraginghottruth:

badbatbattler:

kenbrasai:

badbatbattler:

liberscarian:

classicliberalme:

fuckconservatards:

classicliberalme:

fatherangel:

Hello,

Homophobia is defined by Merriam-Webster as an “irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals.”

However, the person you were arguing with was thinking in their mind with a completely different definition. That person was redefining homophobia as irrational fear of, aversion to, and discrimination against homosexual relations, as in homosexuals having sexual intercourse.

I would simply say to that person, “You keep using the word homophobic. I do not think you understand what that word means, because you are using the word incorrectly.”

The Bible teaches certain things about sex, and that God has a plan for sex that can be observed by studying nature and biology. Based on this Biblical teaching, the Catholic Church rejects all sexual relations outside of natural marriage between a man and woman.

Homosexuals who have sexual intercourse are not singled out for condemnation. Heterosexuals also are accused of sin if they commit masturbation, fornication, adultery, and bestiality.

But getting back to the point, when people suffer from homophobia as an injustice, they are not suffering this because someone caught them in the act of having sexual intercourse and condemned their sexual intercourse. They are suffering homophobia because someone rejects them simply for being homosexual.

To sum up, homophobia is being against people, not being against their sexual activity. You can be for someone and accept them, without accepting their sexual activity. Try to see if the person you are arguing with is able to appreciate this distinction, because if they cannot grasp this distinction, they will continue to misuse the word “homophobia.”

God bless and take care, Fr. Angel

Progressives don’t really like it when we challenge theiir believes aout us conservatives. The personal attacks on Father Angel for this post are utterly absurd and ilogical even. As a catholic myself, this has been my position is this issue since day one, but they choose to see this as “hating gays” because they have no justification to continue victimizing these group. This is a culture of vitimization.

Must be why Father Angel blocked my colleagues before they responded to his comments. Also, nice sociopathy there; no, it’s not a culture of “victimisation” when you assholes are responsible for death and violation of human rights.

“To sum up, homophobia is being against people, not being against their sexual activity. You can be for someone and accept them, without accepting their sexual activity. Try to see if the person you are arguing with is able to appreciate this distinction, because if they cannot grasp this distinction, they will continue to misuse the word ‘homophobia.’” Read once in a while. It’s good for you.

Telling someone their sexuality is unnatural and scorned by God… is still homophobia.

Hetrosexism is a much better word, because no one is afraid of homosexuals, but this post was just weird, where do you find these people?

As previously stated in a reblog, “homophobia” still applies, because “phobia” isn’t exclusive to fear.

Phobia - a persistent, irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that leads to a compelling desire to avoid it

Etymology - from phobos “fear, panic fear, terror, outward show of fear; object of fear or terror

I’m trying to stop myself from replying to these, and didn’t mean to when I came here, but this one was easy.

Nice cherry-picking of your definition. According to the merriam-webster dictionary, which I’d like to remind everyone is the same source father angel used, -phobia as a noun combining form can also mean “intolerance or aversion for”, as in say, homophobia. Looks like you were trying to sneak an ambiguity fallacy past us.

Also, everyone here who uses the argument ‘the Merriam Webster dictionary definition of’ or any substantially similar variant is guilty of the etymological fallacy. (Though to say that makes you auto-wrong would be the fallacy fallacy)
However, because you know exactly what your opponent means, but choose to disregard their argument in favor of the fallacy, you’re also digging on semantics to avoid an actual rebuttal. Which is a diversionary tactic, and an instant forfeit or penalty in most debates.

But really, how can you honestly claim to respect a person (a dwarf for example) while being hostile towards them because you criticize their defining characteristic (dwarfism)? Replace dwarf with Arabic, or Red Haired, or Homosexual, or any other defining characteristic that you would criticize.
One cannot fully and honestly respect a person, while holding them in contempt for being what they are.

4:15 pm
135 notes
Q: Hello father. I am often called upon to represent the Catholic Church positions. Some days ago, someone said me that Catholic are homophobic, because in the Bible they are some verses who condemn homosexual relations. I don't know what I should answer. Can you help me ?
worldofwallerant

badbatbattler:

kenbrasai:

badbatbattler:

liberscarian:

classicliberalme:

fuckconservatards:

classicliberalme:

fatherangel:

Hello,

Homophobia is defined by Merriam-Webster as an “irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals.”

However, the person you were arguing with was thinking in their mind with a completely different definition. That person was redefining homophobia as irrational fear of, aversion to, and discrimination against homosexual relations, as in homosexuals having sexual intercourse.

I would simply say to that person, “You keep using the word homophobic. I do not think you understand what that word means, because you are using the word incorrectly.”

The Bible teaches certain things about sex, and that God has a plan for sex that can be observed by studying nature and biology. Based on this Biblical teaching, the Catholic Church rejects all sexual relations outside of natural marriage between a man and woman.

Homosexuals who have sexual intercourse are not singled out for condemnation. Heterosexuals also are accused of sin if they commit masturbation, fornication, adultery, and bestiality.

But getting back to the point, when people suffer from homophobia as an injustice, they are not suffering this because someone caught them in the act of having sexual intercourse and condemned their sexual intercourse. They are suffering homophobia because someone rejects them simply for being homosexual.

To sum up, homophobia is being against people, not being against their sexual activity. You can be for someone and accept them, without accepting their sexual activity. Try to see if the person you are arguing with is able to appreciate this distinction, because if they cannot grasp this distinction, they will continue to misuse the word “homophobia.”

God bless and take care, Fr. Angel

Progressives don’t really like it when we challenge theiir believes aout us conservatives. The personal attacks on Father Angel for this post are utterly absurd and ilogical even. As a catholic myself, this has been my position is this issue since day one, but they choose to see this as “hating gays” because they have no justification to continue victimizing these group. This is a culture of vitimization.

Must be why Father Angel blocked my colleagues before they responded to his comments. Also, nice sociopathy there; no, it’s not a culture of “victimisation” when you assholes are responsible for death and violation of human rights.

“To sum up, homophobia is being against people, not being against their sexual activity. You can be for someone and accept them, without accepting their sexual activity. Try to see if the person you are arguing with is able to appreciate this distinction, because if they cannot grasp this distinction, they will continue to misuse the word ‘homophobia.’” Read once in a while. It’s good for you.

Telling someone their sexuality is unnatural and scorned by God… is still homophobia.

Hetrosexism is a much better word, because no one is afraid of homosexuals, but this post was just weird, where do you find these people?

As previously stated in a reblog, “homophobia” still applies, because “phobia” isn’t exclusive to fear.

Phobia - a persistent, irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that leads to a compelling desire to avoid it

Etymology - from phobos “fear, panic fear, terror, outward show of fear; object of fear or terror

I’m trying to stop myself from replying to these, and didn’t mean to when I came here, but this one was easy.

Nice cherry-picking of your definition. According to the merriam-webster dictionary, which I’d like to remind everyone is the same source father angel used, -phobia as a noun combining form can also mean “intolerance or aversion for”, as in say, homophobia. Looks like you were trying to sneak an ambiguity fallacy past us.

1:23 pm - Tue, Aug 12, 2014
212 notes
academicatheism:

cultureshift:

by-grace-of-god:

Pro-choice is the essence of misogyny via Jill Stanek

'Pro-choice' is the degradation of women and the disfigurement of motherhood. 'Pro-choice' turns women into disposable sex objects by encouraging the destruction of their children after their father's orgasm has faded away.
Never shy away from speaking the unfiltered truth.
Stand for Life.

The quote is seriously demented and meant to misrepresent our view. Pro-choicers do not argue that women aren’t equal unless they maintain the right to abort a pregnancy. It is their choice to either keep or abort the pregnancy; it is their choice to raise the child or put it up for adoption. Misogyny is obligating a woman to continue an unwanted pregnancy. I understand that conception via rape is uncommon, but it’s pro-lifers who argue that even in those instances a woman should continue the pregnancy. That is misogyny!
Abusive relationships are far more common and it’s sometimes the case that a woman doesn’t want to have a child with her abusive counterpart. It is her choice to abort such a pregnancy. It is pro-lifers who argue that she should keep the child regardless of the circumstances. You, for example, don’t account for quality-of-life issues. You don’t care about poverty, jobs, stability in a relationship, and so on. You don’t even care about the age of the potential mother. You’ve made it quite clear that you’ll impose pregnancy on a child! You are anti-choice because your view is based on the idea that women should have one option: give birth. That is misogyny!
Pro-choicers hold that women should have access to abortion—safe and legal procedures. Why do we maintain that position?

A comprehensive global study of abortion has concluded that abortion rates are similar in countries where it is legal and those where it is not, suggesting that outlawing the procedure does little to deter women seeking it.
Moreover, the researchers found that abortion was safe in countries where it was legal, but dangerous in countries where it was outlawed and performed clandestinely. Globally, abortion accounts for 13 percent of women’s deaths during pregnancy and childbirth, and there are 31 abortions for every 100 live births, the study said.
The results of the study, a collaboration between scientists from the World Health Organization in Geneva and the Guttmacher Institute in New York, a reproductive rights group, are being published Friday in the journal Lancet.
“We now have a global picture of induced abortion in the world, covering both countries where it is legal and countries where laws are very restrictive,” Dr. Paul Van Look, director of the W.H.O. Department of Reproductive Health and Research, said in a telephone interview. “What we see is that the law does not influence a woman’s decision to have an abortion. If there’s an unplanned pregnancy, it does not matter if the law is restrictive or liberal.”
But the legal status of abortion did greatly affect the dangers involved, the researchers said. “Generally, where abortion is legal it will be provided in a safe manner,” Dr. Van Look said. “And the opposite is also true: where it is illegal, it is likely to be unsafe, performed under unsafe conditions by poorly trained providers.”[1][2]

Your silly “culture shift” pseudo-campaign is looking to ban abortion. Banning it, as in making it illegal, won’t work. Furthermore, as evidenced above, it’s a health hazard to women. Not caring about that is misogyny. I understand you want to ban it in the sense that you want to make it unthinkable. Assuming abortion is murder, as pro-lifers seem to think, your goal is unrealistic. It’s unrealistic because you’re not addressing deeper issues in human psychology. If abortion was murder, you’d have to make murder unthinkable. Before that, you’d have to make hate and animosity unthinkable. You’d have to ensure that people aren’t easily offended. So even if we assumed that abortion was some heinous act, you’d be chopping away at weeds rather than getting to the root. It follows that your goal is unrealistic. So next time you wonder why I consider you unintelligent, reread what I just wrote—particularly in this section. I respect basic intelligence; what I don’t respect is ignorance parading as intelligence or in other words, an uninformed buffoon with pretenses of being informed. You don’t show any capacity to think critically and clearly. You’re not as informed as you think you are.
By the way guys, he started another Facebook page. Let’s take it down again. His kind of misogyny, sexism, misrepresentation, and sensationalism has to be met with force.
Works Cited
1 Rosenthal, Elisabeth. "Legal or Not, Abortion Rates Compare". New York Times. 12 Oct 2007.
2 Anne, Libby. “How I Lost Faith in the “Pro-Life” Movement”. Patheos. 29 Oct 2012.

academicatheism:

cultureshift:

by-grace-of-god:

Pro-choice is the essence of misogyny via Jill Stanek

'Pro-choice' is the degradation of women and the disfigurement of motherhood. 'Pro-choice' turns women into disposable sex objects by encouraging the destruction of their children after their father's orgasm has faded away.

Never shy away from speaking the unfiltered truth.

Stand for Life.

The quote is seriously demented and meant to misrepresent our view. Pro-choicers do not argue that women aren’t equal unless they maintain the right to abort a pregnancy. It is their choice to either keep or abort the pregnancy; it is their choice to raise the child or put it up for adoption. Misogyny is obligating a woman to continue an unwanted pregnancy. I understand that conception via rape is uncommon, but it’s pro-lifers who argue that even in those instances a woman should continue the pregnancy. That is misogyny!

Abusive relationships are far more common and it’s sometimes the case that a woman doesn’t want to have a child with her abusive counterpart. It is her choice to abort such a pregnancy. It is pro-lifers who argue that she should keep the child regardless of the circumstances. You, for example, don’t account for quality-of-life issues. You don’t care about poverty, jobs, stability in a relationship, and so on. You don’t even care about the age of the potential mother. You’ve made it quite clear that you’ll impose pregnancy on a child! You are anti-choice because your view is based on the idea that women should have one option: give birth. That is misogyny!

Pro-choicers hold that women should have access to abortion—safe and legal procedures. Why do we maintain that position?

A comprehensive global study of abortion has concluded that abortion rates are similar in countries where it is legal and those where it is not, suggesting that outlawing the procedure does little to deter women seeking it.

Moreover, the researchers found that abortion was safe in countries where it was legal, but dangerous in countries where it was outlawed and performed clandestinely. Globally, abortion accounts for 13 percent of women’s deaths during pregnancy and childbirth, and there are 31 abortions for every 100 live births, the study said.

The results of the study, a collaboration between scientists from the World Health Organization in Geneva and the Guttmacher Institute in New York, a reproductive rights group, are being published Friday in the journal Lancet.

“We now have a global picture of induced abortion in the world, covering both countries where it is legal and countries where laws are very restrictive,” Dr. Paul Van Look, director of the W.H.O. Department of Reproductive Health and Research, said in a telephone interview. “What we see is that the law does not influence a woman’s decision to have an abortion. If there’s an unplanned pregnancy, it does not matter if the law is restrictive or liberal.”

But the legal status of abortion did greatly affect the dangers involved, the researchers said. “Generally, where abortion is legal it will be provided in a safe manner,” Dr. Van Look said. “And the opposite is also true: where it is illegal, it is likely to be unsafe, performed under unsafe conditions by poorly trained providers.”[1][2]

Your silly “culture shift” pseudo-campaign is looking to ban abortion. Banning it, as in making it illegal, won’t work. Furthermore, as evidenced above, it’s a health hazard to women. Not caring about that is misogyny. I understand you want to ban it in the sense that you want to make it unthinkable. Assuming abortion is murder, as pro-lifers seem to think, your goal is unrealistic. It’s unrealistic because you’re not addressing deeper issues in human psychology. If abortion was murder, you’d have to make murder unthinkable. Before that, you’d have to make hate and animosity unthinkable. You’d have to ensure that people aren’t easily offended. So even if we assumed that abortion was some heinous act, you’d be chopping away at weeds rather than getting to the root. It follows that your goal is unrealistic. So next time you wonder why I consider you unintelligent, reread what I just wrote—particularly in this section. I respect basic intelligence; what I don’t respect is ignorance parading as intelligence or in other words, an uninformed buffoon with pretenses of being informed. You don’t show any capacity to think critically and clearly. You’re not as informed as you think you are.

By the way guys, he started another Facebook page. Let’s take it down again. His kind of misogyny, sexism, misrepresentation, and sensationalism has to be met with force.

Works Cited

1 Rosenthal, Elisabeth. "Legal or Not, Abortion Rates Compare". New York Times. 12 Oct 2007.

2 Anne, Libby. “How I Lost Faith in the “Pro-Life” Movement”. Patheos. 29 Oct 2012.

6:45 pm - Mon, Aug 11, 2014
21 notes

The Moral Algorithm

academicatheism:

There are two ways in which morality can be viewed as an algorithm. One way is individualistic, which will be briefly discussed. The other way is pluralistic. Prior to moving forward, it will be useful to define what an algorithm is. It is a set of rules that defines a series of operations such that each rule is definite and effective and such that the series ends in a finite span of time.1 From an individualistic view, some knowledge of the philosophy of mind is necessary—in particular, a knowledge of Computation Theory of Mind (CTM).

Hilary Putman was the first to propose CTM—which is the view that likens the mind to a computer.2 Since its inception, CTM has been developed further. A notable contribution, for example, is Guilio Tononi’s Integrated Information Theory of Consciousness.3 If one assumes that CTM is correct, then the mind is computational. If the mind is computational, there might exist a number of algorithms within the mind. The moral algorithm would be among these algorithms. An interesting feature of morality is that the moral agent doesn’t think about moral action. The algorithm develops along with an individual’s theory of mind and as it develops, it learns to put out the correct solutions with increasing accuracy. This is because the algorithm starts off at an initial state in where it’s first input is received. This roughly correlates with parents teaching children right from wrong and instilling their cultural values into them. Harold Stone stated that “for people to follow the rules of an algorithm, the rules must be formulated so that they can be followed in a robot-like manner, that is, without the need for thought.”4 Therefore, an individualistic moral algorithm would be one built for automated reasoning, which roughly aligns with how humans reason when concerning morality. Far from the careful exercise of deduction or mathematical abduction, moral behavior does appear automated. It appears intuitive if not impulsive. Whether or not the mind aligns with CTM Is an open question. Assuming that’s the case, whether or not morality is an algorithm in the mind is another open question. Therefore, it is better to approach the idea of a moral algorithm from a pluralistic angle.

Algorithms, for one, are given instructions—an initial input. If applied to an individual, then this works just as well for a group. Without intending to endorse normative relativism5, it is interesting that cultures differ from one another in their moral values. Though they differ, however, a moral algorithm, assuming it is given sufficient distribution (D), it will eventually sift out moral values that aren’t conducive to the good of the individual or the group. With that said, if the moral algorithm is viewed as an instance of crowdsourcing, as pluralistic, then it will be self-improving. A good example of a self-improving algorithm is the one belonging to Google’s search engine.6 An advantage of crowdsourcing is that it rules out the idiosyncrasies of certain individuals and groups.7 Marcus, a character in Rebecca Goldstein’s Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won’t Go Away, states the following:

There’s some ideal algorithm for working it out, for assigning weights to different opinions. Maybe we should give more weight to people who have lived lives that they find gratifying and that others find admirable. And, of course, for this to work the crowd has to be huge; it has to contain all these disparate vantage points, everybody who’s starting from their own chained-up position in the cave [Plato’s cave analogy8]. It has to contain, in principle, everybody. I mean, if you’re including just men, or just landowners, or just people above a certain IQ, then the results aren’t going to be robust.9

The crowd this algorithm can draw from consists of over seven billion individuals and thousands of groups—cultural, religious, ethnic, etc. In theory, the algorithm has significant D stemming from billions of individual agents and thousands of groups. Furthermore, it won’t face the issue of unknown since the contents of morality are generally understood. That is to say that even a run-of-the-mill psychopath understands right from wrong though he chooses not to adhere to moral norms. Given that it has substantial D, it’s running time has already been optimized. The next step is machine learning nature, which is pivotal to self-improvement.10 Also, the algorithm can use extraneous information to improve performance. Thus, the moral algorithm can use information gathered from a group like the Nazis to improve performance. This would be a perfect example of unacceptable behavior. Unlike Goldstein’s EASE (Ethical Answers Search Engine), which like the individualistic moral algorithm, is one built for automated reasoning, the pluralistic moral algorithm would be one built for data processing. Like Google’s search engine, it will use data to self-improve.

The notion of a pluralistic moral algorithm and consequently, an individualistic moral algorithm can be related to procedural realism. Procedural realism states that “there are answers to moral questions because there are correct procedures for arriving at them.”11 Korsgaard adds that because people are rational agents, they have an ideal person they want to become and they thus guide their actions accordingly. What’s most important on her view is that moral agents self-legislate.12 Self-legislation aligns perfectly with the notion of both an individualistic and a pluralistic moral algorithm. It also aligns perfectly with Kant’s autonomy formulation of his categorical imperative which states that one should act in such a way that one’s will can regard itself at the same time as making universal laws through its maxims.13 Arguably, something much simpler than Kant’s formulation can be at play when speaking of autonomy and self-legislation. However, Kant’s formulation of the Kingdom of Ends takes us from individualistic to pluralistic because the formulation states that one should act as if one were through one’s maxims a law-making member of a kingdom of ends.14 Morality, as a self-correcting algorithm, will, like Goldstein stated, cancel out the peculiar views some individuals hold. Thus, an agent can’t will an immoral law—let alone an immoral universal law. Self-governance, like knowledge, would be subsumed by crowdsourcing—thus becoming the self-government of the people rather than just this or that individual. This is Kant’s Kingdom of Ends.

Ultimately, though morality can be considered an individualistic algorithm, it is best to view it as a pluralistic algorithm. In other words, it isn’t agent-specific but rather species-specific. Compelling arguments can be made defending an individualistic moral algorithm, especially in light of CMT. However, even if CMT isn’t the case, given how people have crowdsourced knowledge and given that humanity can be viewed as something akin to a computer network that allows for the sharing of data among individuals, a pluralistic moral algorithm could be the case even if an individualistic moral algorithm is not. That is to say that a pluralistic moral algorithm doesn’t require an individualistic algorithm to emerge. A pluralistic moral algorithm can easily explain moral universals; furthermore, it can explain the common discomfort one feels when being exposed to moral values that differ drastically from one’s own. In other words, disapproval and approval can be explained from the lens of a pluralistic moral algorithm. From that, it need not follow that there is a pluralistic moral algorithm, which processes moral data so to speak. Nevertheless, morality does appear to have an inherent feature of self-improvement, which could arise from agent-specific autonomy, individual self-legislation, and the self-legislation of the general population. This idea can also transfer to law, which also features self-improvement (e.g. Constitutional amendments).

Works Cited

1 Harold S. Stone. Introduction to Computer Organization and Data Structures, 1972, McGraw-Hill, New York. Cf in particular the first chapter titled: Algorithms, Turing Machines, and Programs.

"The Computational Theory of Mind." Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 1 Jul 2003

3 Tononi Guilio. "Integrated Information Theory of Consciousness: An Updated Account." Archives Italiennes de Biologie, 150: 290-326, 2012 

4 Ibid. [1]

5 Pecorino Philip. "Chapter 8 Ethics: Normative Ethical Relativism." Queensborough Community College. 2000

6 Goldstein, Rebecca. Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy won’t Go Away, p.105. New York: Pantheon Books, 2014. Print.

7 Ibid. [6] (p.102)

8 Cohen, Marc. "The Allegory of the Cave." University of Washington. 2006

9 Ibid. [6]

10 Ailon Nir, et. al. "Self-Improving Algorithms." SIAM Journal on Computing (SICOMP), 40(2),pp. 350-375. 2011

11 Korsgaard, Christine M., and Onora Neill.The Sources of Normativity, p.36-27. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996. Print.

12 Ibid. [11]

13 Pecorino Philip. “Chapter 8 Ethics: The Categorical Imperative.” Queensborough Community College. 2000

14 Ibid. [13]

6:43 pm
62 notes

academicatheism:

The truth about science vs. religion: 4 reasons why intelligent design falls flat

The devil’s in the details

Of course I believe in evolution. And I believe in God, too. I believe that evolution is how God created life.”

You hear this a lot from progressive and moderate religious believers. They believe in some sort of creator god, but they heartily reject the extreme, fundamentalist, science-rejecting versions of their religions (as well they should). They want their beliefs to reflect reality – including the reality of the confirmed fact of evolution. So they try to reconcile the two by saying that that evolution is real, exactly as the scientists describe it — and that God made it happen. They insist that you don’t have to deny evolution to believe in God.

Continue Reading

6:42 pm
100 notes
The idea of the sacred is quite simply one of the most conservative notions in any culture, because it seeks to turn other ideas - uncertainty, progress, change - into crimes

Salman Rushdie

(via chou-kuroi-blossom)

(via academicatheism)

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