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Baron Scarpia's Profile

Baron Scarpia's Avatar Joined almost 6 years ago
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Go to: Romney to give commencement speech at Falwell’s Liberty University

Baron Scarpia's Avatar Jump to comment 21 by Baron Scarpia

I usually like to say that it's not a proper University if it was founded after the Twelfth Century (so as to exclude that nasty little poly in the Fens that was granted its charter in 1231).

That's a little mistaken, I think. Clearly Oxford was the experimental prototype, with all the faults and flaws such things have. Cambridge was the finished product, after the faults of the design were smoothed out...

However, I can't bring myself to call Liberty Kindergarten a 'university'. I just can't.

Fri, 20 Apr 2012 07:42:43 UTC | #935973

Go to: Atheists for Jesus

Baron Scarpia's Avatar Jump to comment 174 by Baron Scarpia

In summation, Jesus is an ideal role model for Humanity, but only those with rationality and logical thought can divorce him from the hateful dogma that makes up so much of religious doctrine today.

A man who curses a fig tree to die because it hasn't produced figs out of season, who won't allow a disciple to bury his dead father (Matthew chapter 8) and who won't give a potential follower time to say goodbye to his family (Luke chapter 9) may be admirable in other regards, but an ideal role model he is not.

The trouble with using fictional people as role models is that they inhabit a fictional world. It is quite easy to create a vicious character and stack the narrative deck so that all he touches turns into sweetness and light. If you endlessly repeat that someone is perfect, a few people will end up believing you, despite al contrary evidence.

For my part, I think Jesus is too unconcerned with human relationships to be a good role model.

Mon, 30 Jan 2012 19:45:45 UTC | #912777

Go to: The Blind Watchmaker-Maker

Baron Scarpia's Avatar Jump to comment 207 by Baron Scarpia

Morality is still a subject for philosophy, I suppose, but we now know that the reason we have moral convictions at all is that evolution found it useful for helping us deal with our environment and having a better chance to survive and reproduce by cooperating with others. At this point most of us have concluded that there is no absolute objective morality, just generally accepted moral principles among those who empathize with others. Of course it's worthwhile arguing about ethical issues, but we always need to state the principles upon which our moral arguments are based, and at that point it turns into a logical exercise.

So there's no chance of non-natural reductionist moral realism, where the realist believes that you can have moral facts, but they can be reduced to non-moral facts? That's very different from expressivism.

If our morality arose through our evolution, why should we bother following it today? Why should we think that it's equipped to handle things like stem cell research, when it was never built to do so?

If you believe that something is morally wrong because it has bad consequences, doesn't that conflict with a theory of rights? Which should we go for?

How can we ever tell when a miracle has happened? Is it even possible for a miracle to happen?

Do numbers exist?

In classical logic the following argument is valid: '2+2=5, therefore Paris is in Germany'. Clearly something has gone very wrong. How can we repair it?

Consider 'Alex is writing a book'. 'Alex' is a unigrade predicate. 'Alex and Timothy' is a multigrade predicate. Predicate logic breaks down with multigrade predicates. What should we do?

A detective, looking over a murder scene, says 'The killer is deranged'. Later on, looking at Jones (the alleged killer) in the courtroom, I say 'The killer is deranged'. The detective and I say the same sentence, but we appear to be using it in different ways. How important is this?

I create an exact copy of you - all your genetics, all your personality features, all your psychology, all your memories, all your physical features (including anything acquired, such as scars). Are you and your copy identical? If you think that you are your psychology, you're going to have to answer yes.

At what point could we say that a machine emotionally felt something?

If I know something, do I have to know that I know it?

Sun, 29 Jan 2012 11:56:54 UTC | #912457

Go to: [Updated 15th Jan]- Atheists have no right... - Atheists face Muslim-led censorship from UCL Union

Baron Scarpia's Avatar Jump to comment 96 by Baron Scarpia

I don't want the alternative version of Imagine banned, I just think it's damned silly.

I don't want prayer banned, I just think it's damned silly.

I don't want Holocaust deniers thrown in jail just for denying the Holocaust, I just think they're damned silly.

I don't want to censor Ratzinger's claims that I'm a threat to humanity (because I'm queer) and have no morals (because I'm an atheist), I just think they're damned silly.

Go Jesus and Mo!

Tue, 10 Jan 2012 19:01:45 UTC | #906991

Go to: What's wrong with human extinction?

Baron Scarpia's Avatar Jump to comment 210 by Baron Scarpia

All ethics (or any norm) is transcendent in nature. It resides in one or more minds. If you don't believe this, try to come up with an example of an "ought" in nature or in the lab.Then your next issue is in whose mind does the ethical system reside? If we are discussing universal and transcendent ethics, then you have to find a mind that exists in a way that can hold such a system of ethics.

Um. So, if I'm understanding you correctly, anything we can come up with in our heads (imagination, abstract concepts, mathematics and so on) is transcendent in nature and therefore it must come up in god's head. Or his mind. Because he doesn't have a head. Which makes it tricky to have a mind, but let's ignore that for the moment.


No, seriously, why? You don't provide any argument for this. All you are entitled to say is that we have ethics, and our ethics have something to do with the content of our heads. If ethics reside in any mind, it seems to be the human mind.

And it's quite easy to provide 'ought's in laboratories. Get together a group of volunteers and ask them if we ought to refrain from widespread infanticide. I'm betting that they will agree that we ought to refrain, and that some of them will be able to provide jolly good reasons.

On the other hand, let's assume that we say that God must appeal to another mind for his ethics? What exactly would nature of this ethics be and whose mind exactly would he be appealing to? The God of the bible never appeals to another source of ethics.

Neither does Albert. Albert came up with his system of ethics entirely on his own, and it contains rules such as 'throw custard pies at Mount Snowdon on Tuesdays' and 'imitate Scottish grandmothers whenever passing by a branch of Barclays Bank'. I think you'll agree that this does not, in itself, make for a superior source of ethics.

Though it is far superior to god's ordering the slaughter of Canaanite babies in the Bible, so maybe Albert does come out ahead.

The naturalist worldview is left with a desire to have ethics as something more than a preference of the moment and still have something that can judge others by. The desire for universal/transcendent norms is enormous. If you don't believe me, just look at how many norms are thrown around on this forum as though they had value greater than the grey matter in the head of the person writing them. It is as though they realize there are universal norms for ethics, but realize that the consequences of admitting what they know are too great.

So speaks a man who has never studied metaethics. Quasi-realists like myself are quite able to condemn infanticide as strongly as you, whilst still able to maintain that ethics is a human creation (why should that make ethics any less compelling?). So can other expressivists. Reductionist natural moral realists believe that moral facts really exist, and that they can be analysed entirely in non-ethical terms. Even non-natural moral realists and moral intiutionists can get by happily without conceding they need anything from god.

But let's concentrate on my position. Yes, morality entirely resides in grey matter. So what? Do you have any idea what grey matter is? Do you know what it is capable of? Do you know what it is naturally inclined to do, or to favour? Do you know what happens when something goes wrong in it? Stamp the foot, bang the table - Infanticide is wrong! It is wrong because it hurts children! I strongly condemn it! I don't want to live in a society where it is practised, and if someone does that just shows how ethically blind they are. Lots of people would argee with me for good, coherent reason.

That's how my brain works. Tell me why on earth I should think the psychopath's brain is something I should treat on an equal level.

And while you're at it, start studying ethics a little before rushing to conclusions.

Sat, 31 Dec 2011 10:41:33 UTC | #904004

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