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Atheism and Political Philosophy - Secularization - Comments

QuestioningKat's Avatar Comment 1 by QuestioningKat

For a long while I disliked any slamming of related beliefs of my former church. It was a good place. The people were great, the teachings were positive, it was actually a fun and enjoyable place. The teachings actually helped me a great deal.

Now that I'm better at rephrasing some of the teachings and acknowledge the pitfalls, I'm OK with people bringing up the BS as long as it's fair.

Mon, 23 Apr 2012 12:12:40 UTC | #936657

Anvil's Avatar Comment 2 by Anvil

Anyway, I was wondering if there is something like a rational philosophy of state. How should the state function in relation to its people? Is there a more reasonable and less reasonable way for states to be run? To what extent should the state care about the poor? Determine the level of education of its population? etc.

Hi Bobwundaye.

Whilst I agree that secularism is a benchmark for any forward moving state it is of worth doing a bit of homework here on the nature of the state, and of the state of nature.

I'm not sure where you're starting from so forgive me if I'm teaching you to suck eggs here but it is essential (especially if you are coming from a recent religious background) to understand the move from absolutism to liberalism during the Enlightenment and how this impacted on the role of the state.

I'm not suggesting you read Hobbes defence of absolutism 'Leviathan' (it bored the arse off me) but would recommend at least reading someone who has read Hobbes, if only to understand how nature and the state were seen by the pre-enlightenment world and, indeed, how Hobbes' defence of absolutist monarchies paradoxically contained the seeds of representative democracy.

It is only by understanding this worldview that one can see/appreciate the revolution that was to come with the birth of classic liberalism in the form of John Locke and the separation of church and state which thoroughly overturned what political legitimacy and social contract meant - especially to the people of the new world.

Jefferson thought Locke a hero of the enlightenment, of the modern state, and of secularism. Although he died in 1704 the words 'Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness' could have come from his very lips - indeed, in a way, they did.

You want to know about physics - you have to at least start with Newton. The same has to be said of Locke with regards to any understanding of the state, nature, and freedom.

Again, hope I'm not teaching you to suck eggs. Perhaps another poster could suggest a decent (and probably later) reader on the subject?

Anvil.

Mon, 23 Apr 2012 12:13:05 UTC | #936658

pablo_mac's Avatar Comment 3 by pablo_mac

I've followed the posts you refer to over the last few weeks, and the reaction to them. A very interesting opening statement there - the scepticism and self-doubt displayed in publicly asking that question puts you, in my eyes at least, well over to the rational, scientific end of the spectrum on thinking; it's very difficult to stick to a dogma when one is asking questions such as this.

That leads me on to your questions in your second-last paragraph. They are all political questions, and people with differing political viewpoints will no doubt provide a plethora of answers to each. Which is where secularism comes in as the "gold-standard", as you so aptly put it; I can't see any other option if you want to live in a democracy (which is, arguably, the gold-standard of political systems).

From the point of view of religion, we are all outsiders to some other group's beliefs/faith or lack thereof. So to run a country along the lines of not allowing any of those groups to force their beliefs on any other group, whilst being free to believe, is surely beyond doubt the gold standard, no?

If anyone out there disagrees I would be genuinely interested to hear what alternatives could possibly be suggested.

Mon, 23 Apr 2012 12:33:57 UTC | #936665

Bobwundaye's Avatar Comment 4 by Bobwundaye

Comment 2 by Anvil

Thanks for the pointers. I'm doing some cursory reading on them now, and would like to do more in the future.

Comment 3 by pablo_mac

So to run a country along the lines of not allowing any of those groups to force their beliefs on any other group, whilst being free to believe, is surely beyond doubt the gold standard, no?

I don't doubt that secularism is the best philosophy in theory (or in practice). However, to what extent should it be pursued?

In social contract the question of natural verses legal rights is at issue. Let's take the example of the issue of schooling. Is it a parent's natural right to teach their children the knowledge of their choice, or is it merely a right granted by law? Different socieities answer that question differently, but I think, despite being an atheist site, and despite much hullabaloo about religion being child-abuse, most people here would argue that it is the right of a parent to raise their child according to their belief system.

Now, if it is a natural right to raise your kid in your belief system, and you do pay money to the government to help educate your kids. Should you not have some say in how to educate your kids? In other words, should the state, who is not suppose to support any particular religion, allow a particular religion in its school?

Mon, 23 Apr 2012 14:01:48 UTC | #936688

Stephen of Wimbledon's Avatar Comment 5 by Stephen of Wimbledon

Hi Bob,

Anvil gives good advice. Just to add a little to that; John Locke was one of three (philosophers even call them 'the triumvirate of British empiricists'), the others being David Hume and Francis Bacon.

I'm not necessarily advising that you read Bacon, and Hume had little to say about politics specifically, but both put religion into it's social context.

John Stuart Mill is worth every waking moment of study and contemplation.

In order to understand why religions are not needed as moral guides in politics you could try reading Herbert Spencer and his various writings on natural law - though much of his writing is very disappointing.

Niccolò Machiavelli has much wisdom to impart on religion and power. It is instructive rather than modelled. He is very easy to read - his writing almost literally drips with a biting satire that is as relevant today as it has always been. Politics has not come far in the last half millennium, and so too religion.

One cannot mention political philosophy without mentioning Karl Marx. Marx's ideas have been tested - literally - to destruction several times over. Although his ideas were coherent, detailed and uncompromising that doesn't make them true - as hundreds of millions of ghosts, and the histories of so many failed states, testify. On the other hand, the very fact that his ideas were so coherent and thorough makes Kapital worth a look as an example of systematic political philosophy. It's a tough call. Don't worry - just like reading the Bible, reading Kapital will not convert you - if anything rather the opposite.

I'm only an amateur philosopher, so I may easily have missed several important political philosophers who have studied or considered religions in their main works.

It seems to me that the numbers of philosophers who consider the contemplation of religion and politics to be relevant, or even interesting, drops off dramatically after the early 20th Century. Indeed, I cannot think of a truly modern and well-referenced philosopher who mentions religion in anything more than the intellectual equivalent of a dismissive, foppish, wave of a hand.

The positivists were totally dismissive of religion, but many other modern philosophical models treat religion far worse - they simply ignore it all together. It seems to me that the philosophers' implicit message is that religion has no place in modern politics?

I stand ready to be corrected.

That's my advised reading list, for what it's worth.

Peace.

Mon, 23 Apr 2012 15:02:17 UTC | #936705

zengardener's Avatar Comment 6 by zengardener

Secular is only one aspect that any fair and just society should have, but it doesn't really define anything, except to say what it is not, Theistic.

A fair and just state should rely on logic, reason and evidence. Though democracy has brought us a long way, it has it's weaknesses.

Mon, 23 Apr 2012 17:56:06 UTC | #936749

rrh1306's Avatar Comment 7 by rrh1306

Hi Bob.

I can vividly remember when I was 9 years old and in school thinking, all those books I checked out from the library say that dinosaurs are millions of years old but the teacher here is saying that there's lots of evidence showing man and dinosaur coexisted. How could I have been so wrong? If you allow parents and teachers to openly inject their religious views into the classroom your going to be hearing a lot more stories like that.

If parents want to keep their children perpetually occluded from reality then home school them are put them in a religious school. They shouldn't ruin education for everyone because their not a fan of facts.

On this thread Alan4discussion did a fine job arguing with a person that vehemently believed that because religious parents pay taxes they should be able to teach creationism in the school, even though he him self did not believe in creationism. They cover pretty much every permutation of the arguments for and against.

Tennessee Passes ‘Monkey Bill’ To Teach The ‘Controversy’ On Evolution And Climate Science - Comments

Comment 4 by Bobwundaye :

Now, if it is a natural right to raise your kid in your belief system, and you do pay money to the government to help educate your kids. Should you not have some say in how to educate your kids? In other words, should the state, who is not suppose to support any particular religion, allow a particular religion in its school?

Mon, 23 Apr 2012 19:45:48 UTC | #936788

mmurray's Avatar Comment 8 by mmurray

Comment 4 by Bobwundaye :

In social contract the question of natural verses legal rights is at issue. Let's take the example of the issue of schooling. Is it a parent's natural right to teach their children the knowledge of their choice, or is it merely a right granted by law? Different socieities answer that question differently, but I think, despite being an atheist site, and despite much hullabaloo about religion being child-abuse, most people here would argue that it is the right of a parent to raise their child according to their belief system.

Now, if it is a natural right to raise your kid in your belief system, and you do pay money to the government to help educate your kids. Should you not have some say in how to educate your kids? In other words, should the state, who is not suppose to support any particular religion, allow a particular religion in its school?

Before I could agree or disagree with this I would like to know what a belief system is. Do you mean morals, standards of behaviour or beliefs about reality ?

You have missed so far in this discussion the rights of children. Are children property to be moulded as the parent sees fit ?

Michael

Mon, 23 Apr 2012 21:33:39 UTC | #936811

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 9 by AtheistEgbert

Anyway, I was wondering if there is something like a rational philosophy of state. How should the state function in relation to its people? Is there a more reasonable and less reasonable way for states to be run? To what extent should the state care about the poor? Determine the level of education of its population? etc.

"Enlightenment is man's release from his self-incurred tutelage. Tutelage is man's inability to make use of his understanding without direction from another. Self-incurred is this tutelage when its cause lies not in lack of reason but in lack of resolution and courage to use it without direction from another. Sapere aude! "Have courage to use your own reason!" — that is the motto of enlightenment."

That is a translation of Immanuel Kant's opening to his essay What Is Enlightenment? And it perfectly sums up how politics ought to be understood.

It follows on from reason then, that there is no special authority of one human over another, that we are all equal and free, with the exception of when we break a special code that we all agree on, called Law, which represents justice.

It really is that simple. The principle of equality is the gold standard for a democratic state. Since humans are unenlightened in general, allowing their will to dominate their reason, we usually have the very opposite in reality, a state and a world that is unjust and unequal.

Mon, 23 Apr 2012 23:19:29 UTC | #936842

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 10 by AtheistEgbert

Is it a parent's natural right to teach their children the knowledge of their choice, or is it merely a right granted by law?

Do parents own their kids, or are they responsible for them? Two vastly different views.

Mon, 23 Apr 2012 23:26:58 UTC | #936845

Splog's Avatar Comment 11 by Splog

Comment 10 by AtheistEgbert :

Is it a parent's natural right to teach their children the knowledge of their choice, or is it merely a right granted by law?

Do parents own their kids, or are they responsible for them? Two vastly different views.

Agreed. I would also add that as far as I'm aware in the UK although you can tell your kids whatever you want you are required by law to ensure they get access to a certain standard of education (e.g go to school / prove you can homeschool). Elementary education is a human right under the UN declaration of universal human rights.

And natural rights? What are these strange things you speak of.

On secularism the OP could start with Plato's Euthyphro. In pointing out that morality is not necessarily what Gods (or their priests) dictate it undermines a foundation of religion's influence on public life / government.

As has been pointed out modern secularism has been born/derived from liberalism. The most influential liberal political philosopher of the past century was John Rawls and his work A Theory of Justice. Notably he establishes an atheistic basis for a liberal state. I found it as dull as ditchwater to read so I'd recommend reading a synopsis.

As has also been suggested God is sort of a dead topic in Philosophy. Surveys indicate that, for example, amongst academics Philosophers are less likely than almost every other discipline to believe in god (beaten by anthropologists IIRC).

Tue, 24 Apr 2012 06:26:49 UTC | #936926

Pete H's Avatar Comment 12 by Pete H

You’re on the right track. You need a foundation that is reliable, from which reliable deductions can be made.

The best explainer of this stuff I've come across is Hans-Herman Hoppe. He has an excellent analysis and criticism of the important contributing philosophers and also makes his own contribution, taking things forward by identifying some flawed assumptions that confuse matters. He’s a relative unknown, and partly marginalised owing to his unfortunate (and incorrect) public portrayal as an extreme right wing gay basher. Hoppe also has some interesting things to say about the relative value of various popular religions to the quality of a civilisation.

A taste of some of Hoppe’s ideas: Democracy (or monarchy) should not merely be assumed to be the gold standard – just because that’s what happens to the prevailing preference. Freedom and states are fundamentally incompatible. Hobbes’ view is a rarely articulated version of the myth upon which all states are based. And more recent ideas like the protection of ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’ are corruptions of what was originally considered the fundamental requirements of any protector of freedom (the state) being rights to life, liberty, and property (a crucial difference from happiness). Unfortunately states cannot exist without jeopardising property, hence the happy compromise. Happiness is also a politically conveniently immeasurable substitute concept which is therefore difficult to object to. Like motherhood and apple pie, it’s difficult to be opposed to ‘happiness’ and still be taken seriously.

Who’s views are paramount and are directly or indirectly imposed on others is the substance of real political power. Crude force is only ever a short term expedient. Real power requires belief, not just fearful or pragmatic compliance. This is what political power really is: control over information and belief. A state’s existence critically depends on the extent its participants/adherents/victims think Hobbes’ myth of the state is true. Which is similar to the concept of religion: the idea of a powerful entity who facilitates order and justice. The reason religious people find atheists abhorrent is not because atheists claim no purpose for existence but because atheists are effectively anarchists, if only on the supernatural administration of order and justice aspects.

The question of preventing some people forcing beliefs on others is key: but who could intervene to mitigate this? Reality automatically weeds out seriously false beliefs eventually, but at the inconvenient expense of weeding out the false believers along with their false beliefs. According to the likes of Karl Popper the real purpose of a free, science-based civilisation is to avoid people dying along with one’s failed theories/beliefs. Which enables people to replace failed theories with truer theories, without penalty of death. Hence the progress of civilisation.

A state’s key players, and primary beneficiaries (who normally sit behind the scenes – they’re not just the politicians or senior bureaucrats), indirectly command serious political power. Just like religion used to have and might seek to reclaim. The state’s concentration and distribution of resources, essential to its existence, means that expensive activities of the academy, like contemplating and compiling rational philosophies of state, tend to be slightly biased. So you’d need to be cautious of any generally accepted philosophy involving states.

Various types of states are more alike than they are different. Theocratic states depend on wacky stuff, but this is really no less irrational than the underlying beliefs of autocratic or democratic states. The idea of a relatively good state based on achievements can be misleading. We are accustomed to attributing the fruits of the scientific and industrial revolution to our western liberal democratic political traditions. But correlation is not causation. Even tangible outcomes can be a misleading standard of comparison. E.g. Thousands of witches burnt by religious fanatics vs millions burnt by democratically elected fanatics. So the philosophical / logical / scientifically consistent view becomes most important, in the inevitable absence of other unbiased, meaningful, and measurable statistical comparisons like happiness, wealth, health, economic growth etc.

(Incidentally, even the word ‘statistics’ really just means stuff that ‘states’ might be interested in. I read somewhere that the original purpose of compiling ‘statistics’ was to illuminate crucial planning questions like how many fresh boys would come of age to be available for cannon fodder in the next fighting season.)

Tue, 24 Apr 2012 10:46:20 UTC | #936972

Anvil's Avatar Comment 13 by Anvil

Comment 9 by AtheistEgbert

It follows on from reason then, that there is no special authority of one human over another, that we are all equal and free, with the exception of when we break a special code that we all agree on, called Law, which represents justice.

Well, in a sense. Remember, Hobbes sets out his precepts then reasons his defence of absolutism - this was a good thing, by the way, as it formulated the debate taken up by Filmer's Patriarcha and then refuted, line by line, by Locke in the first of his Two Treatises, forever destroying the Divine Right of Kings.

This new revolutionary Lockean concept of society - of the nature of self and the tradition of the social contract - that runs through Bentham and Mill's utilitarianism, Owens socialism, and other Rawlsian forms of justice, can only claim to be superior to forms that precede them (such as absolutism) if they can assume these idological constructs to hold demonstrable truths.

Herein lies a problem with regards to the state of nature, and the nature of the modern state:

An ideological constuct such as 'We hold these truths to be self evident' can equally be shouted from a pulpit in Saint Peter's. These truths need to be demonstated, hence the utilitarian formula 'The greatest good for the greatest number' and John Rawls attempts at his 'two principles of justice', to say nothing of the above mentioned opus that is Das Kapital.

What all of the above have in common is that these are all attempts to view the organisation of society scientifically.

What is the formula that equals 'Happy'? What is the formula that equals 'Justice'?

This problem - which is a problem of political philosophy and the humanities in general - exists because the study of such is, or rather was, fairly new (that's why, Bob, you need to read Hobbes et al) and the data simply wasn't in. Axioms simply didn't exist. Where was the evidence?

That said, there is now a wealth of data available on societies and how we organise them - as well as a growing synthesis of ideas between the physical sciences and the humanities (hence the interest in the debate on ethical science, or indeed, the biological nature of altruism - look at the bun fight regarding E.O. Wilson's new paper regarding kin selection/group selection!)

Of course whether or not the evidence is looked at - or not - ultimately comes down to vested interests (look at AGW) and power (look at arguments, Bob, against written constitutions).

Still, the truth is out there. Thankfully it seems innate:

(...) It really is that simple. The principle of equality is the gold standard for a democratic state. Since humans are unenlightened in general, allowing their will to dominate their reason, we usually have the very opposite in reality, a state and a world that is unjust and unequal.

Yes, it really is that simple. We're still in a process of enlightenment.

Anvil.

Some research on Equality

Tue, 24 Apr 2012 13:00:24 UTC | #936989

wtfbbqsauce's Avatar Comment 14 by wtfbbqsauce

Remember the path dependent nature of evolution (and society along with it) when asking what sort of traditions to hold onto. Religion has costs and benefits like anything else, and how the cost:benefit turns out will be dependent on current states of scientific infrastructure, non-religious tradition, on international relations, and pretty much everything else.

Basically, to answer your question, you're gonna wanna game theory it with a bunch of different models over a few thousand iterations and see what combination works well, and what don't.

Tue, 24 Apr 2012 14:40:20 UTC | #937005

pablo_mac's Avatar Comment 15 by pablo_mac

Comment 4 by Bobwundaye :
most people here would argue that it is the right of a parent to raise their child according to their belief system.

I don't share your confidence that most people would agree with that.

In fact the state already intervenes when parents' beliefs fall short of certain tests of reason. For example parents who don't believe in blood transfusions, or who use corporal punishment - even in the home.

These are measures designed to protect the CHILD's rights. So when parents have religious, or any other, beliefs that put their child's life/health (including mental health) in danger, in my opinion the state wouldn't be doing it's duty to protect the child if it didn't step in.

That being said, I put the religious belief indoctrination subject in the same bucket as parents who push their child into following Daddy into being a doctor when what the child really needs to be is, say, a stand-up comedian or a soldier. It's just (very) bad parenting; and from that, it follows that there will become a point when the parenting is so bad that it's tantamount to child abuse.

Tue, 24 Apr 2012 15:12:38 UTC | #937010

александр курицын's Avatar Comment 16 by александр курицын

I live in Russia. In the Soviet Union, the Communists did not like religion. And I have to learn their history and culture, d 90-year B37 years, received the sacrament of baptism and the church was left to work in all 19 years I was a fervent Christian, but many questions for me nebyli resolved and a way of life of the faithful led me to the bewilderment and confusion However, the Internet and book blgodarya Dokkinza Richard "God Delusion" turned my world on 180 * and I was a teacher of physics. Knowledge and only knowledge is the main criterion of truth is now reading "The Blind Watchmaker," Great thanks and appreciation to the human and lyubovRichardu How nice that you are Thank you and your family!

Wed, 25 Apr 2012 13:24:59 UTC | #937204

александр курицын's Avatar Comment 17 by александр курицын

And still in the Soviet Union was not all bad. Lenin called religion "the opium of the people"!

Wed, 25 Apr 2012 13:35:38 UTC | #937210

александр курицын's Avatar Comment 18 by александр курицын

And now democracy in Russia and the constitution of the secular separation of church and state, but funded by the allotment of the State Agency Fund budget in the country is full of people obalvanivanie posle70 years of atheism and the rise of scientific achievements of the Soviet ideology, "Knowledge is power," I am very grateful to free secondary and higher education Soviet Union

Wed, 25 Apr 2012 13:49:30 UTC | #937214

mmurray's Avatar Comment 19 by mmurray

Comment 17 by александр курицын :

And still in the Soviet Union was not all bad. Lenin called religion "the opium of the people"!

Actually that was Marx

"Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people".

Welcome to RDnet.

Michael

Wed, 25 Apr 2012 13:55:14 UTC | #937215

александр курицын's Avatar Comment 20 by александр курицын

Comment Removed by Author

Wed, 25 Apr 2012 13:55:52 UTC | #937216

александр курицын's Avatar Comment 21 by александр курицын

Sechas policy in the country, making slaves of the people and zombies in the Union because there was no

Wed, 25 Apr 2012 13:57:28 UTC | #937217

Anvil's Avatar Comment 22 by Anvil

Yup. Marx.

I second Michael's welcome, александр курицын

Speaking of which, Bobwundaye, no analysis of the nature - and history - of the development of the state would be complete without a read of its most powerful documents. The first three which come to mind are:

The Declaration of Independence -

'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

The Constitution of the United States -

'We the People...'

The Communist Manifesto -

'Die Geschichte aller bisherigen Gesellschaft ist die Geschichte von Klassenkämpfen.' ('The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.')

I'd personally start with The Communist Manifesto. In many ways it is the most interesting.

That said there are many others that would change forever the nature of this Leviathan.

One of my personal faves was the trial of Charles I (January 1st 1649) - "tyrant, traitor and murderer; and a public and implacable enemy to the Commonwealth of England. (...) out of a wicked design to erect and uphold in himself an unlimited and tyrannical power to rule according to his will, and to overthrow the rights and liberties of the people of England. (...) he, the said Charles Stuart, as a tyrant, traitor, murderer and public enemy to the good of this nation, shall be put to death by severing of his head from his body."

They cut the head off a fucking King! Like wow!!!

Happy reading.

Anvil.

Wed, 25 Apr 2012 16:30:38 UTC | #937254

Sample's Avatar Comment 23 by Sample

Here is the Preamble to the Antarctic Treaty: The original 12 signatories to the treaty are mentioned here. Since then, there are now 48 additional countries working together (fairly well) on The Ice.

The Governments of Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, the French Republic, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, the Union of South Africa, The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America,

Recognizing that it is in the interest of all mankind that Antarctica shall continue forever to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes and shall not become the scene or object of international discord;

Acknowledging the substantial contributions to scientific knowledge resulting from international cooperation in scientific investigation in Antarctica;

Convinced that the establishment of a firm foundation for the continuation and development of such cooperation on the basis of freedom of scientific investigation in Antarctica as applied during the International Geophysical Year accords with the interests of science and the progress of all mankind;

Convinced also that a treaty ensuring the use of Antarctica for peaceful purposes only and the continuance of international harmony in Antarctica will further the purposes and principles embodied in the Charter of the United Nations;

Not a bad start. A continent for science and peace, only six more to go.

Mike

Wed, 25 Apr 2012 17:32:51 UTC | #937270

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 24 by Ignorant Amos

Comment 23 by Sample

Wasn't the Falklands conflict a surreptitious dispute on a claim for Antarctica? Re-taking the Falklands would bolster the Argentine claim for territory, especially as Argentina, Chile and the U.K. dispute each others claims on the same bit.

It was a 'rumour' going around when I was down there in 1982...perhaps it was a moral booster. The story went, that at the time of making a claim, the country claiming was required to 'own' coastline directly opposite the Antarctic's coastline. Chile prevents Argentina from qualifying if there is any truth in this, but by having sovereignty over Las Malvinas, they're in with a shout. The UK has some bits a pieces down there so are alright...and of course, Britain's claim is older.

Maybe it was a bit far fetched, but it made perfect sense at the time. I can't seem to find anything handy on the web to say it is so or otherwise, but if it isn't a criteria, then everyone could've claimed a bit of the Antarctic pie.

Wed, 25 Apr 2012 18:07:50 UTC | #937276

Anvil's Avatar Comment 25 by Anvil

Comment 24 by Ignorant Amos

Comment 23 by Sample

Wasn't the Falklands conflict a surreptitious dispute on a claim for Antarctica?

I'd always thought the falkands was a surreptitious refuge of a scoundrel that surreptitiously gave refuge to another.

Anvil.

Wed, 25 Apr 2012 18:27:03 UTC | #937281

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 26 by Ignorant Amos

Comment 25 by Anvil

I'd always thought the falkands was a surreptitious refuge of a scoundrel that surreptitiously gave refuge to another.

Fair point...piracy was rife in the 18th century though...folk were very mercenary in them there days.

Wed, 25 Apr 2012 18:34:51 UTC | #937283

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 27 by Ignorant Amos

Great discussion topic btw Bobwundaye. I will sit back and lurk as I am one of your main antagonists on the subject. Glad to see that you recognise there is an important question to ask and you asked it, excellent.

Wed, 25 Apr 2012 18:58:35 UTC | #937290

Sample's Avatar Comment 28 by Sample

Ignorant Amos,

Well, there are all sorts of interesting terminologies as far as claims go (there really are) for Antarctic land, and seabed. There are multitudes of maps showing different pie sections depending on the proponents' paradigm. And yes, there are overlapping claims for sections of Antarctica between the UK and Argentina. I'm not up on all the reasons for the Falklands war. The coastline comment you made does not ring a bell for me, but I will look into it now. Sounds like countries working outside the treaty to form alliances, which is still going on today.

The Treaty (backed by dozens of countries representing a gigantic section of the world's population), trumps all so-called claims, however.

Mike

Wed, 25 Apr 2012 19:00:43 UTC | #937293

Bobwundaye's Avatar Comment 29 by Bobwundaye

Thanks all for the reading list. Although I currently have a couple of books to get through before I move onto anything new, I've made notes (and done some wikipedia-ing) on most of those philosophers and ideas mentioned.

Comment 8 by mmurray

Before I could agree or disagree with this I would like to know what a belief system is. Do you mean morals, standards of behaviour or beliefs about reality ?

You have missed so far in this discussion the rights of children. Are children property to be moulded as the parent sees fit ?

Firstly, with regards to defining belief system, I would define it as any integrated system of beliefs about the nature and state of reality, and how the individual should respond to that reality. This may or may not include a belief in the supernatural.

Secondly, as to your question of whether I see children as property to be molded as the parents see fit (a question echoed by AtheistEgbert in comment 10). Well, I certainly don't see children as property, but I do think parents should have a far larger say than legislators.

I heard about an idea about 10 years back (if anyone can tell me the origin I'd be grateful) regarding setting up the ideal state. Imagine a big room (sort of the pre-heaven waiting room referred to in jokes, except here this is a pre-society waiting room) where everyone is talking about how to set up a society. However, in the society they set up, they have no idea what position they will hold - street sweeper, doctor; politician, garbageman, teacher, policeman, unemployed, handicapped, male, female, etc. Once they leave the room, they have to live in the society they set up, being randomly assigned a position to take hold. Apart from the many shortcomings of this illustration, the idea at least makes one think, what about what I would want in someone else's position.

How this relates to children is that, in this scenario, I think that placing the primary responsibility of educating and raising kids, including beliefs that may or may not be founded in reality, would probably still be assigned to the parents, since the parents are the ones that spend most of their income on raising the kid and presumably want the best for the kid. Of course, there are times government (society) needs to step in, but I doubt teaching a certain belief would be on the wrong side of the line.

Comment 11 by Splog

And natural rights? What are these strange things you speak of.

From wikipedia:

Natural rights are rights not contingent upon the laws, customs, or beliefs of any particular culture or government, and therefore universal and inalienable. In contrast, legal rights are those bestowed onto a person by the law of a particular political and legal system, and therefore relative to specific cultures and governments.

Even if as atheists we don't believe these rights are God-given, we do believe that there are certain rights which can be axiomatically stated and accepted at some level. Rights like, freedom of association, freedom of speech, the right to life, liberty and some other stuff too ;)

Comment 15 by pablo_mac

most people here would argue that it is the right of a parent to raise their child according to their belief system.

I don't share your confidence that most people would agree with that.

Perhaps I stated my claim a little strongly based on the belief that people wouldn't jump to use extremes to negate a legitimate point. Then again, we're discussing politics and that seems to be what politics is all about ;)

So let me restate my claim: I believe, barring a few extreme examples (e.g. currently accepted definitions of child abuse), most people here would believe it is the right of a parent to raise their child according to their own belief system. Of course, there are those who would seek to call religious teaching child abuse, and prevent parents from teaching that too, but I think most people here are sensible enough not to legislate that despite their belief that it is abuse.

Thu, 26 Apr 2012 12:09:01 UTC | #937454

Bobwundaye's Avatar Comment 30 by Bobwundaye

Comment 27 by Ignorant Amos Great discussion topic btw Bobwundaye. I will sit back and lurk as I am one of your main antagonists on the subject. Glad to see that you recognise there is an important question to ask and you asked it, excellent.

Thanks. Although, I intend to lurk a little here too, since I'm picking up great little bits of information and pointers to various philosophers and philosophies, please don't hold back.

Thu, 26 Apr 2012 12:13:09 UTC | #937455