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General => Philosophy => Topic started by: xSilverPhinx on January 27, 2020, 02:41:49 PM

Title: Moral Nihilism
Post by: xSilverPhinx on January 27, 2020, 02:41:49 PM
Help me understand a couple of things about moral nihilism: if the nihilistic viewpoint is that there are no moral facts, then how can someone who calls themselves a nihilist ever state that something is good or bad/evil? Wouldn't those be in the realm of moral realism?

I'm curious about this philosophical position. It seems appealing to the maverick in me, but at the same time doesn't seem to be a very sturdy position.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Siz on January 27, 2020, 03:26:11 PM
Quote from: xSilverPhinx on January 27, 2020, 02:41:49 PM
Help me understand a couple of things about moral nihilism: if the nihilistic viewpoint is that there are no moral facts, then how can someone who calls themselves a nihilist ever state that something is good or bad/evil? Wouldn't those be in the realm of moral realism?

I'm curious about this philosophical position. It seems appealing to the maverick in me, but at the same time doesn't seem to be a very sturdy position.

I think you've got the gist of it.

For the sake of communication, I will refer to something as 'good' or 'bad'. This is an opinion based on how positively or not I view a thing on a personal, subjective level. My good or bad is expressed knowing that my 'opinion' is not objective, but also expressed in the knowledge that the person opposite me most likely has a similar experience of a thing as I, or might view the thing similarly if unfamiliar.

Extract from a post I made on the Satanist forum a while ago:

The Nihilist Dilemma suggests that a 'pure' Nihilist doesn't exist... or at least doesn't stay alive for long once confirmed as such. I recognise the Nihilist dilemma, but I do still refer to myself as a Nihilist with the following premises:

1. I live under the assumption that what I perceive (sense) IS reality. That is pragmatism stripped to it's most naked state!
2. There is no objective meaning within or for existence within a multi-/uni-versal context.
3. "Morality" and "existential meaning/purpose" are human/animal abstracts informed by organic firmware and social software.
4. I am limited by my human/animal programming.

As a human I am limited in my compulsions to act/not act DESPITE my beliefs/understanding. I believe that it really doesn't matter in a grander context if I breathe or eat or procreate or move, but I am programmed to do so. And I allow myself to do so without resistance because there are rewards for all of those things (or penalties for their neglect). Also, I have learned - apparently indelibly - emotional responses to the people and objects around me. But underlying is the KNOWLEDGE that it all amounts to nothing. I can't act on that knowledge (or remain inactive) because of the survival reflexes over which I have no control and the motivator of fear (fear of hurting myself or loved-ones and fear of loss (of leaving the earthly party and missing out on rewards)). The human/animal compulsions are stronger than my rational brain. I bare no shame in that, or apologise for it, but I do rejoice in the thought of the time after my ultimate demise when I'll be free from the shackles of emotion and animal compulsion.

I recognise that MY Nihilism isn't the purest philosophical stance, but I use it to distinguish myself from a regular Atheist/Satanist whereby I view the value of my life being lived in equal measure to the value of it not being lived. That is to say pretty valueless.

So, while I'm *here* and too scared and too human to allow myself to drop to the floor in apathetic pure nihilism. I'll take what rewards I can - smile and laugh and eat and procreate and love... and take the shitty stuff on the chin until I am enveloped by the comfy pillow of death.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: billy rubin on January 27, 2020, 09:37:30 PM
Quote from: Siz on January 27, 2020, 03:26:11 PM
As a human I am limited in my compulsions to act/not act DESPITE my beliefs/understanding.

^^^this is central. evolution doesn't care whether anything makes any sense, but it's always there squirting out the endocrines.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: xSilverPhinx on January 27, 2020, 10:27:33 PM
Quote from: Siz on January 27, 2020, 03:26:11 PM
Quote from: xSilverPhinx on January 27, 2020, 02:41:49 PM
Help me understand a couple of things about moral nihilism: if the nihilistic viewpoint is that there are no moral facts, then how can someone who calls themselves a nihilist ever state that something is good or bad/evil? Wouldn't those be in the realm of moral realism?

I'm curious about this philosophical position. It seems appealing to the maverick in me, but at the same time doesn't seem to be a very sturdy position.

I think you've got the gist of it.

For the sake of communication, I will refer to something as 'good' or 'bad'. This is an opinion based on how positively or not I view a thing on a personal, subjective level. My good or bad is expressed knowing that my 'opinion' is not objective, but also expressed in the knowledge that the person opposite me most likely has a similar experience of a thing as I, or might view the thing similarly if unfamiliar.

Extract from a post I made on the Satanist forum a while ago:

The Nihilist Dilemma suggests that a 'pure' Nihilist doesn't exist... or at least doesn't stay alive for long once confirmed as such. I recognise the Nihilist dilemma, but I do still refer to myself as a Nihilist with the following premises:

1. I live under the assumption that what I perceive (sense) IS reality. That is pragmatism stripped to it's most naked state!
2. There is no objective meaning within or for existence within a multi-/uni-versal context.
3. "Morality" and "existential meaning/purpose" are human/animal abstracts informed by organic firmware and social software.
4. I am limited by my human/animal programming.

As a human I am limited in my compulsions to act/not act DESPITE my beliefs/understanding. I believe that it really doesn't matter in a grander context if I breathe or eat or procreate or move, but I am programmed to do so. And I allow myself to do so without resistance because there are rewards for all of those things (or penalties for their neglect). Also, I have learned - apparently indelibly - emotional responses to the people and objects around me. But underlying is the KNOWLEDGE that it all amounts to nothing. I can't act on that knowledge (or remain inactive) because of the survival reflexes over which I have no control and the motivator of fear (fear of hurting myself or loved-ones and fear of loss (of leaving the earthly party and missing out on rewards)). The human/animal compulsions are stronger than my rational brain. I bare no shame in that, or apologise for it, but I do rejoice in the thought of the time after my ultimate demise when I'll be free from the shackles of emotion and animal compulsion.

I recognise that MY Nihilism isn't the purest philosophical stance, but I use it to distinguish myself from a regular Atheist/Satanist whereby I view the value of my life being lived in equal measure to the value of it not being lived. That is to say pretty valueless.

So, while I'm *here* and too scared and too human to allow myself to drop to the floor in apathetic pure nihilism. I'll take what rewards I can - smile and laugh and eat and procreate and love... and take the shitty stuff on the chin until I am enveloped by the comfy pillow of death.

Thanks for that interesting reply!

So...do you think it's actually possible for a human who isn't completely disconnected from their emotions and animal compulsions/instincts be a 'pure nihilist?'
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: xSilverPhinx on January 27, 2020, 10:32:50 PM
Quote from: billy rubin on January 27, 2020, 09:37:30 PM
Quote from: Siz on January 27, 2020, 03:26:11 PM
As a human I am limited in my compulsions to act/not act DESPITE my beliefs/understanding.

^^^this is central. evolution doesn't care whether anything makes any sense, but it's always there squirting out the endocrines.

Those damn endocrines! :lol: But yes, I believe that to be true. Though I also think as a species we are generally capable of rationally curbing a lot of hormone-driven behaviour, unlike most other animals. 
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Siz on January 27, 2020, 10:51:23 PM
Quote from: xSilverPhinx on January 27, 2020, 10:27:33 PM
Quote from: Siz on January 27, 2020, 03:26:11 PM
Quote from: xSilverPhinx on January 27, 2020, 02:41:49 PM
Help me understand a couple of things about moral nihilism: if the nihilistic viewpoint is that there are no moral facts, then how can someone who calls themselves a nihilist ever state that something is good or bad/evil? Wouldn't those be in the realm of moral realism?

I'm curious about this philosophical position. It seems appealing to the maverick in me, but at the same time doesn't seem to be a very sturdy position.

I think you've got the gist of it.

For the sake of communication, I will refer to something as 'good' or 'bad'. This is an opinion based on how positively or not I view a thing on a personal, subjective level. My good or bad is expressed knowing that my 'opinion' is not objective, but also expressed in the knowledge that the person opposite me most likely has a similar experience of a thing as I, or might view the thing similarly if unfamiliar.

Extract from a post I made on the Satanist forum a while ago:

The Nihilist Dilemma suggests that a 'pure' Nihilist doesn't exist... or at least doesn't stay alive for long once confirmed as such. I recognise the Nihilist dilemma, but I do still refer to myself as a Nihilist with the following premises:

1. I live under the assumption that what I perceive (sense) IS reality. That is pragmatism stripped to it's most naked state!
2. There is no objective meaning within or for existence within a multi-/uni-versal context.
3. "Morality" and "existential meaning/purpose" are human/animal abstracts informed by organic firmware and social software.
4. I am limited by my human/animal programming.

As a human I am limited in my compulsions to act/not act DESPITE my beliefs/understanding. I believe that it really doesn't matter in a grander context if I breathe or eat or procreate or move, but I am programmed to do so. And I allow myself to do so without resistance because there are rewards for all of those things (or penalties for their neglect). Also, I have learned - apparently indelibly - emotional responses to the people and objects around me. But underlying is the KNOWLEDGE that it all amounts to nothing. I can't act on that knowledge (or remain inactive) because of the survival reflexes over which I have no control and the motivator of fear (fear of hurting myself or loved-ones and fear of loss (of leaving the earthly party and missing out on rewards)). The human/animal compulsions are stronger than my rational brain. I bare no shame in that, or apologise for it, but I do rejoice in the thought of the time after my ultimate demise when I'll be free from the shackles of emotion and animal compulsion.

I recognise that MY Nihilism isn't the purest philosophical stance, but I use it to distinguish myself from a regular Atheist/Satanist whereby I view the value of my life being lived in equal measure to the value of it not being lived. That is to say pretty valueless.

So, while I'm *here* and too scared and too human to allow myself to drop to the floor in apathetic pure nihilism. I'll take what rewards I can - smile and laugh and eat and procreate and love... and take the shitty stuff on the chin until I am enveloped by the comfy pillow of death.

Thanks for that interesting reply!

So...do you think it's actually possible for a human who isn't completely disconnected from their emotions and animal compulsions/instincts be a 'pure nihilist?'
In a word, no.

To clarify, I don't think they exist. We all have our compulsions, for better or worse. What makes us human is what keeps us from nihilism.

So, pragmatic nihilism is the best I can hope for. And the rest of the world can please itself   ;D
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: xSilverPhinx on January 27, 2020, 11:13:44 PM
Quote from: Siz on January 27, 2020, 10:51:23 PM
Quote from: xSilverPhinx on January 27, 2020, 10:27:33 PM
Quote from: Siz on January 27, 2020, 03:26:11 PM
Quote from: xSilverPhinx on January 27, 2020, 02:41:49 PM
Help me understand a couple of things about moral nihilism: if the nihilistic viewpoint is that there are no moral facts, then how can someone who calls themselves a nihilist ever state that something is good or bad/evil? Wouldn't those be in the realm of moral realism?

I'm curious about this philosophical position. It seems appealing to the maverick in me, but at the same time doesn't seem to be a very sturdy position.

I think you've got the gist of it.

For the sake of communication, I will refer to something as 'good' or 'bad'. This is an opinion based on how positively or not I view a thing on a personal, subjective level. My good or bad is expressed knowing that my 'opinion' is not objective, but also expressed in the knowledge that the person opposite me most likely has a similar experience of a thing as I, or might view the thing similarly if unfamiliar.

Extract from a post I made on the Satanist forum a while ago:

The Nihilist Dilemma suggests that a 'pure' Nihilist doesn't exist... or at least doesn't stay alive for long once confirmed as such. I recognise the Nihilist dilemma, but I do still refer to myself as a Nihilist with the following premises:

1. I live under the assumption that what I perceive (sense) IS reality. That is pragmatism stripped to it's most naked state!
2. There is no objective meaning within or for existence within a multi-/uni-versal context.
3. "Morality" and "existential meaning/purpose" are human/animal abstracts informed by organic firmware and social software.
4. I am limited by my human/animal programming.

As a human I am limited in my compulsions to act/not act DESPITE my beliefs/understanding. I believe that it really doesn't matter in a grander context if I breathe or eat or procreate or move, but I am programmed to do so. And I allow myself to do so without resistance because there are rewards for all of those things (or penalties for their neglect). Also, I have learned - apparently indelibly - emotional responses to the people and objects around me. But underlying is the KNOWLEDGE that it all amounts to nothing. I can't act on that knowledge (or remain inactive) because of the survival reflexes over which I have no control and the motivator of fear (fear of hurting myself or loved-ones and fear of loss (of leaving the earthly party and missing out on rewards)). The human/animal compulsions are stronger than my rational brain. I bare no shame in that, or apologise for it, but I do rejoice in the thought of the time after my ultimate demise when I'll be free from the shackles of emotion and animal compulsion.

I recognise that MY Nihilism isn't the purest philosophical stance, but I use it to distinguish myself from a regular Atheist/Satanist whereby I view the value of my life being lived in equal measure to the value of it not being lived. That is to say pretty valueless.

So, while I'm *here* and too scared and too human to allow myself to drop to the floor in apathetic pure nihilism. I'll take what rewards I can - smile and laugh and eat and procreate and love... and take the shitty stuff on the chin until I am enveloped by the comfy pillow of death.

Thanks for that interesting reply!

So...do you think it's actually possible for a human who isn't completely disconnected from their emotions and animal compulsions/instincts be a 'pure nihilist?'
In a word, no.

To clarify, I don't think they exist. We all have our compulsions, for better or worse. What makes us human is what keeps us from nihilism.

So, pragmatic nihilism is the best I can hope for. And the rest of the world can please itself   ;D

Ah, ok.  ;D That's the main question I had about nihilism I guess.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: billy rubin on January 28, 2020, 12:22:41 AM
Quote from: xSilverPhinx on January 27, 2020, 10:32:50 PM
Quote from: billy rubin on January 27, 2020, 09:37:30 PM
Quote from: Siz on January 27, 2020, 03:26:11 PM
As a human I am limited in my compulsions to act/not act DESPITE my beliefs/understanding.

^^^this is central. evolution doesn't care whether anything makes any sense, but it's always there squirting out the endocrines.

Those damn endocrines! :lol: But yes, I believe that to be true. Though I also think as a species we are generally capable of rationally curbing a lot of hormone-driven behaviour, unlike most other animals.

sure, we can do that. but rationalism is irrelevant, in the end, silver. it's a meaningless search for meaning. there's no more reason or advantage in seeking rationalism than there is lying on your back and making up animals out of the shapes of the clouds that sail by. self-preservation is a rational practice, or example. but why do we want to preserve ourselves? what do we gain if we do, or lose if we don't? nothing.

we can control our instinctive and chemically-driven behavior, if we want, and if there's some pattern of behavior that we prefer for some reason, we can pursue it. but there's no apparatus to hold it together into a pattern that isn't mechanical.

some people say that this a bleak outlook, but it's only bleak if you're looking for meaning that you think is there. in the end, even working at understanding and defining nihilism is a meaningless enterprise. there's nothing there to understand.


Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Siz on January 28, 2020, 12:30:29 AM
All of what I wrote was with reference to existential nihilism.

Moral nihilism (or amoralism) is a different animal and is a valid position IMHO.  But even that, for me, is mitigated by a notional nod to The Golden Rule, however arbitrarily I choose to apply it.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Siz on January 28, 2020, 12:51:37 AM
Quote from: billy rubin on January 28, 2020, 12:22:41 AM
Quote from: xSilverPhinx on January 27, 2020, 10:32:50 PM
Quote from: billy rubin on January 27, 2020, 09:37:30 PM
Quote from: Siz on January 27, 2020, 03:26:11 PM
As a human I am limited in my compulsions to act/not act DESPITE my beliefs/understanding.

^^^this is central. evolution doesn't care whether anything makes any sense, but it's always there squirting out the endocrines.

Those damn endocrines! :lol: But yes, I believe that to be true. Though I also think as a species we are generally capable of rationally curbing a lot of hormone-driven behaviour, unlike most other animals.

sure, we can do that. but rationalism is irrelevant, in the end, silver. it's a meaningless search for meaning. there's no more reason or advantage in seeking rationalism than there is lying on your back and making up animals out of the shapes of the clouds that sail by. self-preservation is a rational practice, or example. but why do we want to preserve ourselves? what do we gain if we do, or lose if we don't? nothing.

we can control our instinctive and chemically-driven behavior, if we want, and if there's some pattern of behavior that we prefer for some reason, we can pursue it. but there's no apparatus to hold it together into a pattern that isn't mechanical.

some people say that this a bleak outlook, but it's only bleak if you're looking for meaning that you think is there. in the end, even working at understanding and defining nihilism is a meaningless enterprise. there's nothing there to understand.
I see it as liberating rather than bleak.
Applying meaning to the world is like a nicotine addiction; you're taking the drug, not to feel good, but to stop yourself feeling bad (withdrawal). Remove the drug and the default 'without drug' neutral state is eventually restored.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: billy rubin on January 28, 2020, 01:13:36 AM
Quote from: Siz on January 28, 2020, 12:30:29 AM
All of what I wrote was with reference to existential nihilism.

Moral nihilism (or amoralism) is a different animal and is a valid position IMHO.  But even that, for me, is mitigated by a notional nod to The Golden Rule, however arbitrarily I choose to apply it.

i see one as leading inevitably to the other, siz.

morals are based on the notion that there is such a thing as right and wrong, whether that is basedon emotionalism, or religion, aesthetics, or social cohesion, or just-making-shit-up. in order for morals to be anything other than opinion, they must be derived from a source that transcends their application. existential nihilism denies that any such thing exists, so moral nihilism is a natural consequence.

if one is a moral nihilist, on the other hand, one may still believe in meaning, just not in a moral context.

does that make sense?

Quote from: Siz on January 28, 2020, 12:51:37 AM
I see it as liberating rather than bleak.
Applying meaning to the world is like a nicotine addiction; you're taking the drug, not to feel good, but to stop yourself feeling bad (withdrawal). Remove the drug and the default 'without drug' neutral state is eventually restored.

an interesting analogy with drugs. i'm not sure what a neutral state of meaninglessness would look like on a large scale. people in groups are generally very uncomfortable with it.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: billy rubin on January 28, 2020, 01:22:26 AM
i made a double post, so here is a picture i took of the grand tetons instead

(https://i.imgur.com/NY3eqNml.jpg)
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Siz on January 28, 2020, 08:21:59 AM
Quote from: billy rubin on January 28, 2020, 01:13:36 AM
Quote from: Siz on January 28, 2020, 12:30:29 AM
All of what I wrote was with reference to existential nihilism.

Moral nihilism (or amoralism) is a different animal and is a valid position IMHO.  But even that, for me, is mitigated by a notional nod to The Golden Rule, however arbitrarily I choose to apply it.

i see one as leading inevitably to the other, siz.

morals are based on the notion that there is such a thing as right and wrong, whether that is basedon emotionalism, or religion, aesthetics, or social cohesion, or just-making-shit-up. in order for morals to be anything other than opinion, they must be derived from a source that transcends their application. existential nihilism denies that any such thing exists, so moral nihilism is a natural consequence.

if one is a moral nihilist, on the other hand, one may still believe in meaning, just not in a moral context.

does that make sense?

Quote from: Siz on January 28, 2020, 12:51:37 AM
I see it as liberating rather than bleak.
Applying meaning to the world is like a nicotine addiction; you're taking the drug, not to feel good, but to stop yourself feeling bad (withdrawal). Remove the drug and the default 'without drug' neutral state is eventually restored.

an interesting analogy with drugs. i'm not sure what a neutral state of meaninglessness would look like on a large scale. people in groups are generally very uncomfortable with it.
Using people's own guilt and desire to fit in has been a useful control tool in religion and government since forever. My own aversion to coercive authority (no doubt born of being subject to coercive authority through childhood) has led me to this place. Yes, humans are social creatures, but are we not disserving ourselves by toeing the morality line unquestioningly? Of course we are, but it is in the interests of 'authority' to deny that.
The transhumanist movement is all about seeking emancipation from animalistic, evolutionary tunnel vision. I'm sold - the implications are boundless, the possibilities awe-inspiring. I'm not saying moral nihilism could/would work on a global scale (at least not while we're still in our biophilosophical nappies), but worth exploring. And certainly an idea, as a duty to oneself, worth examining on a personal level.

That's my take anyway. I've possibly lost perspective rather than gained insight over the years, but what can you do?!

Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Recusant on January 28, 2020, 03:42:59 PM
I think it can be said that moral nihilism aligns with theism, positing a point of view which is superior to that of humanity. In theism, the superior point of view is a god's, while the nihilist dismisses the human perspective from an equally imaginary god-like place.

For both of these positions, mere human morality and understanding are arbitrary, deficient and unworthy of bearing any "real" significance. The theist dismisses human morality because they claim that only their god can be a "real" source of morality, while the nihilist does the same because they claim that there is no "real" source of morality. The moral nihilist essentially agrees with the theist, supposing that morality must exist in some exalted realm like that of Plato's Ideals, else it carries no weight.

Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: billy rubin on January 28, 2020, 04:26:47 PM
sure.

the argument is reminiscent of the geocentrism controversy, in which one side claims that the earth must be the central point in the universe because it is the most important object, while the other asserts that the earth cannot be the most important object because it is not at the center of the universe. both sides accept that a central position in the universe must indicate something of importance.

but this is interesting. i have already defined "real" morality as something that exists externally to a  frame of reference, in the same way that a law of physics must apply to all matter irrespective of scale, or a the definition of a set must assert a boundary that separates members from non-members.

in order to deny "real" morality, one must first define something to deny. otherwise is to simply deny the coherence of the phenomenon in any context, which i don't think is what you'e doing.

on what basis would any morality carry any weight, "real" or otherwise?




Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: billy rubin on January 28, 2020, 04:55:38 PM
nm
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Recusant on January 28, 2020, 05:51:06 PM
As I was typing a reply, I see that there's been an edit above. I'll carry on and post what I wrote (basically attempting to provide a definition of morality), then will consider any new material.

No theists presenting their position here, so I'll put the god hypothesis aside. With that in mind, I think it can be said that all ethical systems known to humanity are human creations. Morality is a set of variable principles and guidelines that color and to some extent govern the interactions of our species.

Considering the question of existence, I think that we exist most significantly as a species, just as any other organism does. By that I mean, individual members of the species are evanescent manifestations. They can affect the course of the species' existence, but the existence of the species as a whole doesn't depend on any individual. Rather, the individual's existence depends on that of the species.

I think it's realistic to describe Homo sapiens as a conscious social species. As such, we describe and understand interactions between individuals and groups on a level we call morality. Some actions are "worthy," "proper," or "good" while others are not. This seems integral to the functioning of the species. Certainly, moral values vary widely over the planet and over time, but where there are human beings, there are moral values. In our species this understanding overlays (and to some extent has supplanted) instinct, which governs most other species. Just as instinct is a real thing, so is morality.

I would also say that each individual person operates within society in accordance with ethical principles. In some cases there's a single principle that the only genuine moral good is gratification of the individual's personal needs and desires. Such a single-minded person might not acknowledge the existence of any moral principles, but their actions take place in a moral context, given that is how the species works.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: billy rubin on January 28, 2020, 06:55:47 PM
the post i deleted was just distracting from the interesting stuff.

let me make sure i understand, recusant. i think you're asserting that human societies are shaped by evolution for sociality, and also exhibit modifications due to individual variation. and that the result is what we call morality, which in the end is defined a posteriori as being whatever behavioural mores a society exhibits.

if that is true, then the society that gassed the jews in auschwitz has as justifiable a moral underpinning as the society which today repudiates it. not meaning to choose a callous example, but the anniversary of its liberation has brought it to mind. then the decision today as to what constitutes moral or immoral behaviour would appear to be based strictly on whether the behavior departs from currently and locally accepted standards.

this has implications for whether it is right or wrong to impose behaviors on other societies. if that's what morals are, and no more, then there would appear to be no right or reason to interfere in foreign genocides or social oppression, since those things are demonstrably moral there by virtue of being accepted practice. yet we do that all the time, citing moral imperatives.

how would your definition address that question?

by the way, i wouldn't say that morality "overlays" instinctive human behavior. i think most all of our intraspecific relationships are behaviorally identical to those we describe as "instinctive" in other organisms. we just dress up our own instincts in an intellectual roccoco that we don't grant other animals.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Siz on January 29, 2020, 02:07:37 AM
Quote from: Recusant on January 28, 2020, 05:51:06 PM
As I was typing a reply, I see that there's been an edit above. I'll carry on and post what I wrote (basically attempting to provide a definition of morality), then will consider any new material.

No theists presenting their position here, so I'll put the god hypothesis aside. With that in mind, I think it can be said that all ethical systems known to humanity are human creations. Morality is a set of variable principles and guidelines that color and to some extent govern the interactions of our species.

Considering the question of existence, I think that we exist most significantly as a species, just as any other organism does. By that I mean, individual members of the species are evanescent manifestations. They can affect the course of the species' existence, but the existence of the species as a whole doesn't depend on any individual. Rather, the individual's existence depends on that of the species.

I think it's realistic to describe Homo sapiens as a conscious social species. As such, we describe and understand interactions between individuals and groups on a level we call morality. Some actions are "worthy," "proper," or "good" while others are not. This seems integral to the functioning of the species. Certainly, moral values vary widely over the planet and over time, but where there are human beings, there are moral values. In our species this understanding overlays (and to some extent has supplanted) instinct, which governs most other species. Just as instinct is a real thing, so is morality.

I would also say that each individual person operates within society in accordance with ethical principles. In some cases there's a single principle that the only genuine moral good is gratification of the individual's personal needs and desires. Such a single-minded person might not acknowledge the existence of any moral principles, but their actions take place in a moral context, given that is how the species works.
I can't disagree with any of that.
However, all of the above refers only to the practical functioning of an evolving society - still a work in progress. Contemporarily valid and pragmatic as that is, looking beyond our flawed, animal programming, it is the understanding and practical acceptance of universal truths that will help humanity - as individuals and collectively. Discarding the notion of an unassailable set of arbitrary, fluid and subjective codes* is a worthy, proper and good endeavour. And it is to that end that I plead amorality.
(*oxymoron intended - that's morality! )
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Magdalena on January 29, 2020, 04:20:52 AM
Quote from: billy rubin on January 28, 2020, 06:55:47 PM
the post i deleted was just distracting from the interesting stuff.
...

(https://media2.giphy.com/media/CIIeqW5dYxCJG/source.gif)

:grin:
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Bad Penny II on January 29, 2020, 10:48:51 AM
Quote from: Magdalena on January 29, 2020, 04:20:52 AM
Quote from: billy rubin on January 28, 2020, 06:55:47 PM
the post i deleted was just distracting from the interesting stuff.
...

(https://media2.giphy.com/media/CIIeqW5dYxCJG/source.gif)

:grin:

"Distract me. Please"

(https://i.ytimg.com/vi/E23Nhl_XNrw/maxresdefault.jpg)

(https://static.boredpanda.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/cute-miniature-baby-donkeys-fb20__700-png.jpg)

Those donkeys are cute, I say they are and so does Google as do all right thinking people.
Have donkeys judged by some to be cute got anything to do with nihilism?
Of course they do, nihilists hate cute donkeys.
Nihilists shouldn't hate anything.
Yet they do.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Siz on January 29, 2020, 12:08:53 PM
Quote from: Bad Penny II on January 29, 2020, 10:48:51 AM
Those donkeys are cute, I say they are and so does Google as do all right thinking people.
Have donkeys judged by some to be cute got anything to do with nihilism?
Of course they do, nihilists hate cute donkeys.
Nihilists shouldn't hate anything.
Yet they do.
We're all only human!
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: billy rubin on January 29, 2020, 03:49:21 PM
you think donkeys are cute? maybe they are when they're young, but as they age they turn into . . .

barnyard nihilists!

(https://i.imgur.com/BCMAKcGl.jpg)

^^^this is dude, an ethical nihilist. he's not a cute baby equine any more. dude is around 25 years old, and he doesn't take kindly to people projecting that his morals have some hoity-toity underlying foundation of truth and meaning. dude knows that what is important is much simpler: eating, and shitting.

eating and shitting is all that dude does. i tried to ride him once when i had too much to drink, to see whether he had a purpose, and he planted a horseshoe-shaped bruise in the middle of my chest to signify his unwillingness to participate in a life with meaning. although he is supposedly broke to both riding and driving, he prefers to spend his time eating and shitting. and cooperating grudgingly for the camera. and sometimes running out his 18-inch pecker to amuse the occasional strangers driving by his fence.

(https://i.imgur.com/YB1ZsYzl.jpg)

dude is king in his own barnyard. he hates dogs and coyotes, and doesn't like baby goats jumping on him when he's trying to sleep. because he considers kindness meaningless, he occasionally loses his temper and chases after the baby goats, which they enjoy until he catches them.

(https://i.imgur.com/ZedjoZsl.jpg)

among the other barnyard nihilists he tolerates is susan, who is queen of the goats

(https://i.imgur.com/ejJVmdYl.jpg)

and her daughter THX

(https://i.imgur.com/ustEVv5l.jpg)

both susan and THX are existential nihilists, and see no meaning in the barnyard beyond hay, water, and occasional debates about whether they would be better off trying to figure out david hume. in the end they conclude that it doesn't matter anyway, and eat more hay.

although both susan and THX don't believe that their lives have meaning, they do observe a system of good and evil to exist in the world, and question whether their lives would be philosophically more coherent if they lived on the other side of the barnyard fence. so when i bring them all hay in the evening and open the gate, susan and THX burst out to the road, exulting in the symbolic triumph of discovering a purpose in life other than the repetitive cycle of just eating and shitting that they share with dude.  once they are on the outside of the gate, they discover that the hay i just brought is now on the inside, and dude is eating their share. once clamoring for lives of freedom and purpose, they soon begin clamoring for penal meaninglessness again, having discovered that a life with meaning but no dinner is inferior to one with dinner and no meaning. like sisyphus, they turn once again to their purposeless lives, ones of empty philosophical debates, dinner, and futile and repetitive plots to escape. perhaps someday someone will drive by as they burst into the road and they will be able to answer the most important nihilist  question of all, which is whether suicide is preferable to dinner.

and all the while the turkeys look on, and judge.

(https://i.imgur.com/m9Ucl6Tl.jpg)



Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Magdalena on January 29, 2020, 04:03:53 PM
Bad Penny II and billy rubin...Donkeys and barnyard nihilists!
(https://i.imgur.com/sXWDlzG.gif)

:lol:
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Siz on January 29, 2020, 04:29:32 PM
That's beautiful, Man!
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Recusant on January 29, 2020, 09:13:38 PM
Quote from: billy rubin on January 28, 2020, 06:55:47 PM
the post i deleted was just distracting from the interesting stuff.

let me make sure i understand, recusant. i think you're asserting that human societies are shaped by evolution for sociality, and also exhibit modifications due to individual variation. and that the result is what we call morality, which in the end is defined a posteriori as being whatever behavioural mores a society exhibits.

if that is true, then the society that gassed the jews in auschwitz has as justifiable a moral underpinning as the society which today repudiates it. not meaning to choose a callous example, but the anniversary of its liberation has brought it to mind. then the decision today as to what constitutes moral or immoral behaviour would appear to be based strictly on whether the behavior departs from currently and locally accepted standards.

this has implications for whether it is right or wrong to impose behaviors on other societies. if that's what morals are, and no more, then there would appear to be no right or reason to interfere in foreign genocides or social oppression, since those things are demonstrably moral there by virtue of being accepted practice. yet we do that all the time, citing moral imperatives.

how would your definition address that question?

by the way, i wouldn't say that morality "overlays" instinctive human behavior. i think most all of our intraspecific relationships are behaviorally identical to those we describe as "instinctive" in other organisms. we just dress up our own instincts in an intellectual roccoco that we don't grant other animals.

Is there any reasonable basis for morality at all? Is it merely whim and happenstance?

Given the foundation I attempted to construct above, I think that morality can reasonably be based on the well-being of the species and the ecosystem upon which it depends. In our species systems of morality serve at least part of the function taken by instincts in most other species. I'd say that instinct's overall purpose in other species is improving chances of survival of the species. (I say "most other species" because there are indications that other intelligent social species may have rudimentary forms of morality.)

I would acknowledge that reasoning from well-being of the species and ecosystem to narrow moral questions is not straight-forward. However, I think that it makes sense to work in the other direction: Is any given moral precept likely to promote well-being of the species?

In your example of genocidal fascists, their local moral system did indeed view the mass slaughter of groups that the fascists have deemed harmful as a moral good. The rest of humanity disagreed. The fascists may say that they think they're promoting well-being of the species with their actions, but there is no scientific basis and no rational basis for the prejudices upon which they make that judgement.

On the other hand, an attempt to exterminate a group of people merely because of their bloodline could in fact be harmful to the species. Diversity in a species is an important element in the toolbox the species can make use of to promote its survival. Secondly, in intelligent social species, I'd say that mental health is an important part of the continued survival of the species. I think a species that believes that it's a moral good to kill each other en masse because of irrational prejudices is not mentally healthy. If such a belief were to rule the day unopposed, I think the species may not have much of a future. In this light, opposing those who promote that belief appears to be a reasonable thing to do.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: billy rubin on January 29, 2020, 10:17:17 PM
Quote from: Recusant on January 29, 2020, 09:13:38 PM

Is there any reasonable basis for morality at all? Is it merely whim and happenstance?

i think ^^^this sums it all up. in my opinion, the answer to the question is proximataly tbat morality is whim, religion, or evolution, and ultimately that we are all  just making shit up. there is no basis for any moral system that is more reasonable than for any other. i say this because i can find no independent scale of values that could be used to judge one system against another, and so all are equally valid or invalid. to judge one system as morereasonable than another, or more real, or more valid, and so on, requires that i first establish what i am going to call "reasonable," or "valid," or good," and assert that my scale is " better "than others. the result is inevitably that morality is no mo9re than what  i say it is, today, and maybe something else tomorrow.

Quote
Given the foundation I attempted to construct above, I think that morality can reasonably be based on the well-being of the species and the ecosystem upon which it depends. In our species systems of morality serve at least part of the function taken by instincts in most other species. I'd say that instinct's overall purpose in other species is improving chances of survival of the species. (I say "most other species" because there are indications that other intelligent social species may have rudimentary forms of morality.)

I would acknowledge that reasoning from well-being of the species and ecosystem to narrow moral questions is not straight-forward. However, I think that it makes sense to work in the other direction: Is any given moral precept likely to promote well-being of the species?

In your example of genocidal fascists, their local moral system did indeed view the mass slaughter of groups that the fascists have deemed harmful as a moral good. The rest of humanity disagreed. The fascists may say that they think they're promoting well-being of the species with their actions, but there is no scientific basis and no rational basis for the prejudices upon which they make that judgement.

On the other hand, an attempt to exterminate a group of people merely because of their bloodline could in fact be harmful to the species. Diversity in a species is an important element in the toolbox the species can make use of to promote its survival. Secondly, in intelligent social species, I'd say that mental health is an important part of the continued survival of the species. I think a species that believes that it's a moral good to kill each other en masse because of irrational prejudices is not mentally healthy. If such a belief were to rule the day unopposed, I think the species may not have much of a future. In this light, opposing those who promote that belief appears to be a reasonable thing to do.

sure. all this makes perfect sense, after one decides that " the continued survival of the species" is the good that the moral system is intended to maximize. and i think that many moral systems aredesigned to do just that. social evolution created it, kin selection refines it, religious and legal systems are set in place to enforce it, and most all of us accept it as axiomatic, unquestionably. after all, anything that enhances our survivability is going to be favored by natural selection.

i think any moral queztion can be reduced to adaptive fitness, either directly or as a rezult of linkage wuth zomething else that doez increase fitness.

but if i decide that morality must be based on survival of a planetary ecosystem, rather than the continued survival of my own species, then the greatest moral act i could perform might be the extinction of the human race. after all, human beings are not good for a balanced, self-sustaining natural ecology. and so on.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: xSilverPhinx on January 30, 2020, 12:13:01 PM
Quote from: Siz on January 27, 2020, 03:26:11 PM
1. I live under the assumption that what I perceive (sense) IS reality. That is pragmatism stripped to it's most naked state!
2. There is no objective meaning within or for existence within a multi-/uni-versal context.
3. "Morality" and "existential meaning/purpose" are human/animal abstracts informed by organic firmware and social software.
4. I am limited by my human/animal programming.

:chin:

In the case of your first premise would you say that when you perceive (external stimuli translating to subjective experience) someone doing something you feel is the right thing to do in a certain situation then such 'moral action' is real? If yes, then what are the implications for moral nihilism?
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Siz on January 31, 2020, 08:25:50 AM
Quote from: xSilverPhinx on January 30, 2020, 12:13:01 PM
Quote from: Siz on January 27, 2020, 03:26:11 PM
1. I live under the assumption that what I perceive (sense) IS reality. That is pragmatism stripped to it's most naked state!
2. There is no objective meaning within or for existence within a multi-/uni-versal context.
3. "Morality" and "existential meaning/purpose" are human/animal abstracts informed by organic firmware and social software.
4. I am limited by my human/animal programming.

:chin:

In the case of your first premise would you say that when you perceive (external stimuli translating to subjective experience) someone doing something you feel is the right thing to do in a certain situation then such 'moral action' is real? If yes, then what are the implications for moral nihilism?
The action isn't moral. I might subjectively agree or disagree. I might diasgree on a primary, immediate personal level, but accept the validity of the action in light of secondary or tertiary implications with which I do agree/accept.

I percieve the notion of morality to be unacceptable (where morality is considered inherrent). However good or bad I judge an action, my subjective experience does not preclude a belief that there are better modes of existence (both personally and as a species). I do not appreciate being the subject of the prejudice associated with another's opinions where they assume those opinions to bare the weight of some higher authority (predominantly objective morality or god). I recognise the need for social cohesion, which requires a fair code of behaviour. The Golden Rule is the fairest code there can be (notwithstanding it's own contentions). I simply seek to make The Golden Rule understood to be the authority, instead of a presumed autocratic higher authority which trumps subjective opinion by default. The new, preferred Golden Rule World Order then becomes my reality.

Contrary to Recusant's theist-like comparison, surely it is the moralist whose codes of conduct exist in some exalted realm?!

I do not assume a superior position as an amoralist - there is no superior. But there is equity, parity and fairness.

Or, I can do WTF I choose as it suits and risk exclusion or penalties.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Bad Penny II on January 31, 2020, 11:37:33 AM
Quote from: billy rubin on January 29, 2020, 10:17:17 PM
Quote from: Recusant on January 29, 2020, 09:13:38 PM

Is there any reasonable basis for morality at all? Is it merely whim and happenstance?

i think ^^^this sums it all up. in my opinion, the answer to the question is no. there is no basis for any moral system that is more reasonable than for any other. 

Yes there is, I want a moral system that serves my interests, that's quite reasonable I think.
No eating your neighbour's children.
It takes a lot of effort to raise a child and there isn't much meat on the neighbour's kids anyway.

   
Quote from: billy rubin on January 29, 2020, 10:17:17 PMi say this because i can find no external scale of values that could be used to judge one system against another, and so all are equally valid or invalid.
I couldn't give flying fork about external scales of value, I want a system that best serves me.
Here in 2020 I have a view of many past societies that I am external to and I pass judgement on them as is my right as being external to them, apparently.  So I think I'll apply these judgements to my now.

     
Quote from: billy rubin on January 29, 2020, 10:17:17 PMto judge one system as morereasonable than another, or more real, or more valid, and so on, requires that you first establish what you are going to call "good," and assert that your "good" is better than other "goods."

No, fk "good" I want what was serves me and it's reasonable to expect compromise will be necessary.

Quote from: billy rubin on January 29, 2020, 10:17:17 PM
morality is a sticky subject, and in my opinion no system is more meaningful than any other. some are more useful, once one decides what "useful" means, and some are more congenial to whatever animal drives we might indulge. but whether any one has a fundamental reality that others lack is something iwould deny, based on my lack of belief in abstract "good" or "evil."

Wait wait wait, I never put meaningful in my cart, useful yes, NO! I didn't put no fundamental reality in, what the fk is that anyway?
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: billy rubin on January 31, 2020, 12:12:19 PM
^^^all that makez perfect sense to me. if your moral sense iz based on your own aezthetic or material or genetic self interest, then you are free to practice whatever suits your digetstion and that you can get away with.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Bad Penny II on January 31, 2020, 12:32:13 PM
Quote from: billy rubin on January 31, 2020, 12:12:19 PM
^^^all that makez perfect sense to me. if your moral sense iz based on your own aezthetic or material or genetic self interest, then you are free to practice whatever suits your digetstion and that you can get away with.

You don't make any sense to me.
There's no supernatural, never has been.
There's just us happy or resigned to being us and the fantasists.
And disaffected fantasist refugees.
Ye, if the answer doesn't come from on high there is no answer.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: billy rubin on January 31, 2020, 02:17:44 PM
Quote from: Bad Penny II

You don't make any sense to me.
There's no supernatural, never has been.
There's just us happy or resigned to being us and the fantasists.
And disaffected fantasist refugees.
Ye, if the answer doesn't come from on high there is no answer.


where did i say that your moral sense was supernatural?
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Bad Penny II on January 31, 2020, 02:28:38 PM
Quote from: billy rubin on January 31, 2020, 02:17:44 PM
where did i say that your moral sense was supernatural?

I didn't say that you said that.

I think you've thrown the baby out with the bathwater.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Bad Penny II on January 31, 2020, 02:43:43 PM
Quote from: billy rubin on January 31, 2020, 02:17:44 PM
Quote from: Bad Penny II

You don't make any sense to me.
There's no supernatural, never has been.
There's just us happy or resigned to being us and the fantasists.
And disaffected fantasist refugees.
Ye, if the answer doesn't come from on high there is no answer.


where did i say that your moral sense was supernatural?

You repeatedly look to some outside authority to legitimise rules and you find none and you declare the whole rule declaring thing intrinsically lacking.  Did you used to have a god? 
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: billy rubin on January 31, 2020, 04:03:04 PM

what frame of reference is there to distinguish between your baby and your bathwater. penny? can you explain to a cannibal why he shouldn't eat your baby, in terms that he will accept?

ive been an atheist/agnostic most all of my life. but id be a hindu if it msde sense. the food iz good, although only the aghoris eat babies.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: TallRed on January 31, 2020, 04:52:34 PM
Quote from: billy rubin on January 31, 2020, 04:03:04 PM
ive been an atheist/agnostic most all of my life.
Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha!
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Magdalena on January 31, 2020, 07:18:47 PM
Quote from: TallRed on January 31, 2020, 04:52:34 PM
Quote from: billy rubin on January 31, 2020, 04:03:04 PM
ive been an atheist/agnostic most all of my life.
Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha!
billy rubin, why is your friend laughing so hard at your comment? Just curious.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Kusa on February 01, 2020, 12:35:40 AM
Quote from: Magdalena on January 31, 2020, 07:18:47 PM
Quote from: TallRed on January 31, 2020, 04:52:34 PM
Quote from: billy rubin on January 31, 2020, 04:03:04 PM
ive been an atheist/agnostic most all of my life.
Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha!
billy rubin, why is your friend laughing so hard at your comment? Just curious.

Because his "friend" is a window licker.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Bad Penny II on February 01, 2020, 12:36:24 AM
Quote from: billy rubin on January 31, 2020, 04:03:04 PM

what frame of reference is there to distinguish between your baby and your bathwater. penny?

My frame of reference, the baby has value, rules have value so I'll keep them.
Dirty old water and the idea that rules come from on high don't have value so they can be tossed.

Quote from: billy rubin on January 31, 2020, 04:03:04 PM

Penny? can you explain to a cannibal why he shouldn't eat your baby, in terms that he will accept?

If he does it's likely he'll go to prison.  It's an expensive meal all things considered and boneless shoulder pork can be had for $7 kg.
I don't have a problem with others eating human flesh if the person was going to die anyway.  If you're going to kill your enemies you may as well eat them, to do otherwise is wasteful.  Has your cannibal considered a career in the funeral industry?
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: TallRed on February 01, 2020, 02:59:01 AM
Quote from: Kusa on February 01, 2020, 12:35:40 AM
Quote from: Magdalena on January 31, 2020, 07:18:47 PM
Quote from: TallRed on January 31, 2020, 04:52:34 PM
Quote from: billy rubin on January 31, 2020, 04:03:04 PM
ive been an atheist/agnostic most all of my life.
Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha!
billy rubin, why is your friend laughing so hard at your comment? Just curious.

Because his "friend" is a window licker.
Keeping it classy, I see. You gotta be you.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Magdalena on February 01, 2020, 03:20:46 AM
Quote from: TallRed on February 01, 2020, 02:59:01 AM
Quote from: Kusa on February 01, 2020, 12:35:40 AM
Quote from: Magdalena on January 31, 2020, 07:18:47 PM
Quote from: TallRed on January 31, 2020, 04:52:34 PM
Quote from: billy rubin on January 31, 2020, 04:03:04 PM
ive been an atheist/agnostic most all of my life.
Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha!
billy rubin, why is your friend laughing so hard at your comment? Just curious.

Because his "friend" is a window licker.
Keeping it classy, I see. You gotta be you.

(https://media0.giphy.com/media/ylnKFlrk1s6go/source.gif)
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Recusant on February 01, 2020, 03:26:37 AM
Quote from: Kusa on February 01, 2020, 12:35:40 AM
Quote from: Magdalena on January 31, 2020, 07:18:47 PM
Quote from: TallRed on January 31, 2020, 04:52:34 PM
Quote from: billy rubin on January 31, 2020, 04:03:04 PM
ive been an atheist/agnostic most all of my life.
Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha!
billy rubin, why is your friend laughing so hard at your comment? Just curious.

Because his "friend" is a window licker.

The three of you may know each other from elsewhere, and maybe this is an example of friendly banter. Or maybe not. This is a friendly reminder that the first rule (http://www.happyatheistforum.com/forum/index.php?topic=1522.0) of this site is that civility is important. Yes, it's couched as a suggestion, but that doesn't mean there are no standards. If you want to insult your fellow members, Siz has thoughtfully provided a place for that (http://www.happyatheistforum.com/forum/index.php?topic=16403.0). It would work out best if you go there if you need to exercise your ability to insult people. There are places on the internet where flame wars are all part of the fun, but this isn't one of them.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Recusant on February 01, 2020, 03:36:00 AM
It looks to me like there has been little attempt in this thread to unpack the statement: "Morality has no objective meaning." I think the concept of "objective meaning" is irrelevant, and a distraction. "Meaning" as I understand it, is not something that can exist independently of a mind or minds. "Objective meaning" therefore is an oxymoron. I don't think it logically follows to assert that because this oxymoronical thing doesn't exist, neither does meaning itself. As if it were possible to compare meaning as a aspect of mind with some true or genuine source of meaning that exists independently of minds, this comparison showing that the meaning with which minds are familiar doesn't actually exist.

"Meaning" is a quality of thought. I'd say that it exists, just as minds exist. Is it even possible for a conscious mind to exist without meaning being an integral component? Doesn't meaning define the very existence of consciousness?

I think it makes sense to say that absent minds, meaning doesn't exist in this universe (nor does morality). There's at least one logical step missing if you go on to say that therefore meaning doesn't exist. One candidate for this step might be "all aspects of minds do not exist." Or perhaps as a syllogism:

P1. Minds are immaterial, as are all aspects of minds, like meaning and morals.

P2. Only material things exist.

C. Neither minds, meaning, nor morals exist.

Hmm, that seems to contradict reality. Maybe a nihilist will come along and point out how I can find a way to divorce meaning from minds, so that it makes sense to come to the conclusion that meaning doesn't exist.

Morality is a phenomenon of the interaction between minds, or between conscious beings. I question whether morality or ethical principles can exist in a unique and completely isolated mind interacting with the inanimate universe.

Groups of people develop moral systems, but different groups develop different systems. Should we then assert that there's no way to evaluate systems of morality? To me, viewing our species as a whole provides a reasonable means of developing a metric for such an evaluation. Some people may tell me that they don't give a fuck about our species, or don't give a fuck about any people outside their particular group. Fine for them, but that doesn't negate the perspective.

I agree that there is no absolutely objective way to evaluate morality, but I don't agree that this means that evaluation of morality is impossible, or meaningless. In this context I don't think there's any such thing as an absolutely objective point of view, anyway. To me, it doesn't make sense to arbitrarily set an impossible standard then use that standard to justify a claim that any other standard than the impossible one is meaningless.

I wouldn't say that my proposed means of assessing morality is better than any other, but I think that it may be more useful than asserting that any attempt to assess morality fails because everything is meaningless.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: billy rubin on February 01, 2020, 01:32:16 PM
Quote from: Bad Penny II on February 01, 2020, 12:36:24 AM
Quote from: billy rubin on January 31, 2020, 04:03:04 PM

what frame of reference is there to distinguish between your baby and your bathwater. penny?

My frame of reference, the baby has value, rules have value so I'll keep them.
Dirty old water and the idea that rules come from on high don't have value so they can be tossed.

well there you are. personal aesthetics is one way to do it. but the cannibal may have other aesthetics. and not care about yours. valuez differ from place to place and time to time.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Bad Penny II on February 01, 2020, 02:26:38 PM
Quote from: billy rubin on February 01, 2020, 01:32:16 PM
Quote from: Bad Penny II on February 01, 2020, 12:36:24 AM
Quote from: billy rubin on January 31, 2020, 04:03:04 PM

what frame of reference is there to distinguish between your baby and your bathwater. penny?

My frame of reference, the baby has value, rules have value so I'll keep them.
Dirty old water and the idea that rules come from on high don't have value so they can be tossed.

well there you are. personal aesthetics is one way to do it. but the cannibal may have other aesthetics. and not care about yours. valuez differ from place to place and time to time.

Hallelujah, and may the better aesthetics prevail.
You know Billy, there's not many cannibals around these days.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: billy rubin on February 01, 2020, 10:07:41 PM
hey recusant

Quote from: Recusant on February 01, 2020, 03:36:00 AM

I think it makes sense to say that absent minds, meaning doesn't exist in this universe (nor does morality). There's at least one logical step missing if you go on to say that therefore meaning doesn't exist. One candidate for this step might be "all aspects of minds do not exist." Or perhaps as a syllogism:

P1. Minds are immaterial, as are all aspects of minds, like meaning and morals.

P2. Only material things exist.

C. Neither minds, meaning, nor morals exist.

Hmm, that seems to contradict reality. Maybe a nihilist will come along and point out how I can find a way to divorce meaning from minds, so that it makes sense to come to the conclusion that meaning doesn't exist.


i would suggest that the syllogism fails because the minor premise isn't true-- mindis certainly material, and morals have no basis for storage or transmission through other than material means.

see, you can hit me in the head with a brick and my mind can be altered, consciousness being an elctrochemical process within a physical organ. interestingly, so can my morals, if you recall the dynamite tamper who took an iron bar through the skull. his brain injury changed him from a responsible hard-working laborer to a drunken gambler, i think. a shift in his morals occurred due to a material change. so if morals are not material (as memories, stored electrochemical information in brain neurons, or other conditioning) this could not have happened. if we say that his behavior changed but his actual morality did not, then we have to explain where that moral information is stored, if not in those same synapses.

but meaning is purpose. to have purpose is to interpret a cause and effect relationship as one derived from a mind. a tree holding back erosion does not have purpose in doing so. it is simply there. but if go live under the tree and allow the tree to hold the slope away from my house, then nothing has changed but the introduction of my mind, and the tree now has purpose it did not have before.

similarly moralities of all kinds can have purposes, and so can have meaning. the purpose of protecting my children from harm is to increase my genetic representation in the next generation. the purpose of flying airplanes into buildings is also to increase the success in territory or possessions of my tribe, and lead to the same thing. the purpose of being honest is to aid my neighbors and by that means to aid myself and my kin, while the purpose of lying to strangers is to injure them to the advantage of the same people. all moral acts, in different contexts.

meaning always exists. but it's an after the fact application of purpose. providing help and providing injury are both moral and immoral in different contexts. therefore, any act can be moral today, here, and immoral tomorrow, there.

so when i say meaningless, that's what i'm referring to. not that morals can't be useful, but that no moral precept and no moral act is in itself identifiable as being moral, independently of context. anything i do can be moral today, and depraved tomorrow. there is no meaning inherent in the moral act that correlates with anything other than local and transient purpose.

Quote
I wouldn't say that my proposed means of assessing morality is better than any other, but I think that it may be more useful than asserting that any attempt to assess morality fails because everything is meaningless.

your system of assessing morality is useful for the purpose your mind has assigned it-- the good of the species. if the purpose of someone's morality is something else, some other system might be more useful. i think morality can always be assessed, if we are clear about just how far that assessment reaches. no morality has its own inherent meaning-- it's always imposed from outside.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: billy rubin on February 01, 2020, 10:27:14 PM
Quote from: Bad Penny II on February 01, 2020, 02:26:38 PM
You know Billy, there's not many cannibals around these days.

only because non-cannibals imposed a foreign moral code.

we can thank western religion for that.

then there's that guy in milwaukee
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Recusant on February 02, 2020, 12:28:35 AM
Quote from: billy rubin on February 01, 2020, 10:07:41 PM
Quote from: Recusant on February 01, 2020, 03:36:00 AM[snip]

P1. Minds are immaterial, as are all aspects of minds, like meaning and morals.

P2. Only material things exist.

C. Neither minds, meaning, nor morals exist.

Hmm, that seems to contradict reality. Maybe a nihilist will come along and point out how I can find a way to divorce meaning from minds, so that it makes sense to come to the conclusion that meaning doesn't exist.


i would suggest that the syllogism fails because the minor premise isn't true-- mindis certainly material, and morals have no basis for storage or transmission through other than material means.

see, you can hit me in the head with a brick and my mind can be altered, consciousness being an elctrochemical process within a physical organ. interestingly, so can my morals, if you recall the dynamite tamper who took an iron bar through the skull. his brain injury changed him from a responsible hard-working laborer to a drunken gambler, i think. a shift in his morals occurred due to a material change. so if morals are not material (as memories, stored electrochemical information in brain neurons, or other conditioning) this could not have happened. if we say that his behavior changed but his actual morality did not, then we have to explain where that moral information is stored, if not in those same synapses.

Brains are material. The chemical reactions and electrical impulses that course through them are material. We can observe them and measure their physical characteristics. I am unaware of any equivalent physical measurement of minds. A mind is the product of a large number of chemical reactions and electrical impulses interacting in an immensely complex way. Those things produce the mind but they are not the mind.

A brain is not a mind, any more than a guitar is music. You may say, "but music is vibrations in the air and physical objects, therefore it's a physical thing." I don't think so--music is the interaction between vibrations and sentient sound sensors. Without ears to hear and minds to appreciate, music doesn't exist, even if the physical vibrations are there. Jupiter has been producing vibrations for billions of years. But Gas Music From Jupiter (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3fqE01YYWs) didn't exist until there were minds to appreciate it. Similarly, a mind is the interaction between a brain and its environment. In essence, a mind is what happens in a sentient brain--a multitude of events occurring in the brain. It isn't a material thing, but something that happens as the product of a material thing.

Quote from: billy rubin on February 01, 2020, 10:07:41 PMbut meaning is purpose. to have purpose is to interpret a cause and effect relationship as one derived from a mind. a tree holding back erosion does not have purpose in doing so. it is simply there. but if go live under the tree and allow the tree to hold the slope away from my house, then nothing has changed but the introduction of my mind, and the tree now has purpose it did not have before.

Is purpose a physical thing?

Quote from: billy rubin on February 01, 2020, 10:07:41 PMsimilarly moralities of all kinds can have purposes, and so can have meaning. the purpose of protecting my children from harm is to increase my genetic representation in the next generation. the purpose of flying airplanes into buildings is also to increase the success in territory or possessions of my tribe, and lead to the same thing. the purpose of being honest is to aid my neighbors and by that means to aid myself and my kin, while the purpose of lying to strangers is to injure them to the advantage of the same people. all moral acts, in different contexts.

meaning always exists. but it's an after the fact application of purpose. providing help and providing injury are both moral and immoral in different contexts. therefore, any act can be moral today, here, and immoral tomorrow, there.

so when i say meaningless, that's what i'm referring to. not that morals can't be useful, but that no moral precept and no moral act is in itself identifiable as being moral, independently of context. anything i do can be moral today, and depraved tomorrow. there is no meaning inherent in the moral act that correlates with anything other than local and transient purpose.

I think we're more or less in agreement. I maintain that to deny meaningfulness is nonsensical. There is no meaning other than what minds assign. Since meaning is a quality assigned by minds, I'd say it's a category error to attempt to deny its objective existence by placing it in a context independent of minds.

Quote from: billy rubin on February 01, 2020, 10:07:41 PMyour system of assessing morality is useful for the purpose your mind has assigned it-- the good of the species. if the purpose of someone's morality is something else, some other system might be more useful. i think morality can always be assessed, if we are clear about just how far that assessment reaches. no morality has its own inherent meaning-- it's always imposed from outside.

Outside of what, though? Morality comprises an analysis of actions that takes place only in minds. It has "inherent meaning" because meaning is an inherent quality of the way that minds operate.

It won't surprise you when I say that if someone's morality has as its final objective something other than the good of the species, it's a dysfunctional morality.  :blue smiley:
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: billy rubin on February 06, 2020, 10:47:39 AM
perhaps the useful point to continue is the material/immaterial queztion.

i assert that mind is in fact material, being exactly the brain in motion, electrochemically.

the working of the mind--consciouness-- can be observed with electronic instruments. when the physical signals cease, the mind is observed to cease as well. when they return, so doez the mind.

memory is the foundation of consciousnezz. without memory the mind becomes mere reflexive responses to stimuli. memory is physical, and can be located physically in various portionz of the brain.

because mind is consciouznezz worki g with memory, and consciousnesz and memory are material, the mind is material.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Davin on February 06, 2020, 04:16:57 PM
Quote from: billy rubin on February 06, 2020, 10:47:39 AM
perhaps the useful point to continue is the material/immaterial queztion.

i assert that mind is in fact material, being exactly the brain in motion, electrochemically.[...]
The mind is a complex mix of emergent properties from the material brain.

It's easy to simply say that things are simpler than they really are. A painting is only a bunch of goop drying on a canvas. A house is just a bunch of material stacked up. An internet forum is just a bunch of posts.

But in this, even you must see that there is more than merely reducing things down to the parts that make up the whole. Otherwise why are you here having discussions with other people? Just for your personal fun? I mean I can get that, but where is "fun" inside the few chemical substances that make up your person? Is fun something simply material or is it an emergent property? You have your same three choices ahead of you now, admit that you were wrong and accept emergent properties, double down and point to the material that makes fun, or your usual choice of avoiding it altogether.

A software program is only a bunch of on/off bits getting run through a machine that simply follows the instructions. And yet here we are arguing over the internet. Without emergent properties, computers would be still be huge and mostly useless. And yet here we are.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: billy rubin on February 06, 2020, 04:27:10 PM
Quote from: davinYou have your same three choices ahead of you now, admit that you were wrong and accept emergent properties, double down and point to the material that makes fun, or your usual choice of avoiding it altogether.


i'll select choice number four, davin.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Davin on February 06, 2020, 04:55:28 PM
Quote from: billy rubin on February 06, 2020, 04:27:10 PM
Quote from: davinYou have your same three choices ahead of you now, admit that you were wrong and accept emergent properties, double down and point to the material that makes fun, or your usual choice of avoiding it altogether.


i'll select choice number four, davin.
That's actually choice number three, your usual.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: xSilverPhinx on February 06, 2020, 09:00:58 PM
Quote from: Siz on January 31, 2020, 08:25:50 AM
Quote from: xSilverPhinx on January 30, 2020, 12:13:01 PM
Quote from: Siz on January 27, 2020, 03:26:11 PM
1. I live under the assumption that what I perceive (sense) IS reality. That is pragmatism stripped to it's most naked state!
2. There is no objective meaning within or for existence within a multi-/uni-versal context.
3. "Morality" and "existential meaning/purpose" are human/animal abstracts informed by organic firmware and social software.
4. I am limited by my human/animal programming.

:chin:

In the case of your first premise would you say that when you perceive (external stimuli translating to subjective experience) someone doing something you feel is the right thing to do in a certain situation then such 'moral action' is real? If yes, then what are the implications for moral nihilism?
The action isn't moral. I might subjectively agree or disagree. I might diasgree on a primary, immediate personal level, but accept the validity of the action in light of secondary or tertiary implications with which I do agree/accept.

I percieve the notion of morality to be unacceptable (where morality is considered inherrent). However good or bad I judge an action, my subjective experience does not preclude a belief that there are better modes of existence (both personally and as a species). I do not appreciate being the subject of the prejudice associated with another's opinions where they assume those opinions to bare the weight of some higher authority (predominantly objective morality or god). I recognise the need for social cohesion, which requires a fair code of behaviour. The Golden Rule is the fairest code there can be (notwithstanding it's own contentions). I simply seek to make The Golden Rule understood to be the authority, instead of a presumed autocratic higher authority which trumps subjective opinion by default. The new, preferred Golden Rule World Order then becomes my reality.

Contrary to Recusant's theist-like comparison, surely it is the moralist whose codes of conduct exist in some exalted realm?!

I do not assume a superior position as an amoralist - there is no superior. But there is equity, parity and fairness.

Or, I can do WTF I choose as it suits and risk exclusion or penalties.

:thumbsup:
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: xSilverPhinx on February 06, 2020, 09:07:37 PM
This is getting very philosophical :tellmemore:
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: xSilverPhinx on February 06, 2020, 09:22:28 PM
How exactly do you define the 'mind' though? I'm under the impression that it means different things in this billy rubin versus Recusant and Davin debate. :notsure:
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Davin on February 07, 2020, 03:09:16 PM
It probably means different things to everyone. Some versions deny reality, some make unfounded assumptions, some make founded assumptions, and some are based on demonstrable facts. Most versions are a mix of all of the above. To say that a mind doesn't exist because it's resides in a material shell, is equivalent to saying that software doesn't exist because it runs in a purely material and physical shell. And to deny emergent properties is contradictory in its nature, because there is no particle for denial.

I know that I can't fully define mind, but I think I did well enough with the mind being a complex mix of emergent properties, and would add the implication that it results in a consciousness.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: billy rubin on February 07, 2020, 04:30:35 PM
i dont see any emergent propertiez from tbe phyzical brain. everything i know about the mind iz consistent with a material hypothesiz.

but then i dont see "emergent properties" anywhere, az i understand the term.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Davin on February 07, 2020, 05:02:02 PM
Quote from: billy rubin on February 07, 2020, 04:30:35 PM
i dont see any emergent propertiez from tbe phyzical brain. everything i know about the mind iz consistent with a material hypothesiz.

but then i dont see "emergent properties" anywhere, az i understand the term.
If I heat up a piece of wood in an environment with enough oxygen, do I simply get hot wood or does something emerge from the mixture?
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: billy rubin on February 07, 2020, 05:49:35 PM
you firzt get hot wood.

then as volitile compounds vaporize in the presence of accumulated heat, you get outgassing from channels or interstices.

if their temperature exceeds their flashpoint, they combine with the oxygen to yield heat, light, carbon dioxide, water, and chemical byproducts from non-oxidized compounds.

the increased heat from the exothermic reaction ignites non-volatile fuels, which continue to burn until tbey are exhausted, generating 8more light and more heat.

when nothing is left but carbon, it continues to oxidize at a lower temperature until the remnant consists of non-combustible ash, which cools.

nothing emerges from thiz scenario that cannot be predicted and explained from ordinary material procezzes. if thats what "emergent propertiez" means, then i dont see anything with mind and consciousnezz that cannot be explained in a similar way.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Davin on February 07, 2020, 07:56:27 PM
Quote from: billy rubin on February 07, 2020, 05:49:35 PM
nothing emerges from thiz scenario that cannot be predicted and explained from ordinary material procezzes.
Emergent properties are things that exist within a grouping of things that do not exist in the individual parts. Whether it's currently explainable or not doesn't matter to the definition. Alone, the heat, wood, and oxygen do not have fire. Combined they do. So fire is an emergent property of that combination.

I know it's explainable, that's why I chose such a basic example, so that it would match our level of discourse. If you want to have a higher level discussion, then I'm down for that too.

Quote from: billy rubin on February 07, 2020, 05:49:35 PM
if thats what "emergent propertiez" means, then i dont see anything with mind and consciousnezz that cannot be explained in a similar way.
I'm not even talking about whether we have any choice in the matter. We could very well be mindless automatons acting out our commands from genetics and environment in response to stimuli, and that wouldn't make "fun" not an emergent property. What chemical, particle, or whatever material thing does "fun" come from? Does "fun" exist on its own out in the universe, or does it only exist in a complex system like a brain? You don't have many options to this question. Either you can point to a material thing that is "fun," you accept that fun is an emergent property, or you continue to avoid.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: billy rubin on February 07, 2020, 10:44:11 PM
Quote from: Davin on February 07, 2020, 07:56:27 PM
I know it's explainable, that's why I chose such a basic example, so that it would match our level of discourse. If you want to have a higher level discussion, then I'm down for that too.

let's keep it basic, davin. i don't see anything complicated in it. there is nothing that you can call "mind" which cannot be explained in material terms. "fun" consists of biofeedback that results in stimulation of the pleasure centers in your brain.

by the way, i'm going to make a suggestion for you to consider.

your posting style is personally aggressive and makes you seem to be a socially challenged individual. maybe you are a socially challenged individual, or maybe you just don't have the self-awareness to see how you appear to other people.

i'm here for civil conversation, and to learn things that i don't know. i'm not into enabling people with a compulsion to spread their bad attitude or petty malice. so if that's what you plan on continuing, this is my last response to you, ever.

make a decision, davin, and we'll take it from there.

Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Recusant on February 08, 2020, 09:03:04 PM
Quote from: billy rubin on February 06, 2020, 10:47:39 AM
perhaps the useful point to continue is the material/immaterial queztion.

i assert that mind is in fact material, being exactly the brain in motion, electrochemically.

the working of the mind--consciouness-- can be observed with electronic instruments. when the physical signals cease, the mind is observed to cease as well. when they return, so doez the mind.

memory is the foundation of consciousnezz. without memory the mind becomes mere reflexive responses to stimuli. memory is physical, and can be located physically in various portionz of the brain.

because mind is consciouznezz worki g with memory, and consciousnesz and memory are material, the mind is material.

I wrote a response to an earlier version of this post, but the same response works for this version, so . . .

Nobody has mentioned mind-body dualism, but I want to be clear that I don't think the position I've advanced is dualist. I don't think that minds can be separated from brains. Rather, I'm asserting that minds can be understood as a manifestation of events and actions taking place in brains. Physical actions and events are not physical objects, nor are they material in the sense that physical objects are.

As an illustration: a bat striking a ball is a physical event. That event is not the same type of thing as either a bat or a ball. You can hold a bat or a ball in your hand, but you can't hold the striking of a ball by a bat in your hand. An event is not a material thing, but a physical occurrence in space-time. In the same way, a mind is not a material thing, but a large number of events taking place in a brain. A brain does thinking, but brains are not thought.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: billy rubin on February 08, 2020, 09:42:17 PM
i for one wasn't thinking you were proposing a dualism, as in body/spirit, for instance.

but yes, i agree that a physical object is not the same as the events that include that object. a ball rolling down a hill is not the act of rolling, it is a ball.

but then it gets fuzzy, it seems to me. memories are clearly physical--stored information. the act of retrieving them and processing them into the present is not an object, but is rather a manipulation of objects. when does the process of juggling become distinct from the juggled objects, or even from the juggler? i'm not sure.

what about a smell, or a touch? where does process separate from components? but what about the memory of the smell of the grass you cut yesterday? the memory of the smell is a physical bit oif coded data, stored electrochemically between neurons. to retrieve the memory into thought, you pull the physical chain and then re-live a series of experiences that exist only as material. the actual process of experiencing the memory is inseparable from the physical, material reactions needed to bring it into existence.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Recusant on February 08, 2020, 10:06:20 PM
I have not suggested that minds and their constituent components are separable from brains. Rather I dispute the assertion that minds are material things. I think I've explained clearly why I don't agree with an assertion that they are, and I have yet to see a sound argument against my position here.

There is no fuzziness in this, in my opinion. Certainly memories must be in some way physical (I don't think it's fully understood just how they're "stored"). However, memories are something that minds utilize; they are not equivalent to minds. The mind can be understood as the product of electrical and chemical events occurring in a brain but these events are not material things, while a brain is a material thing.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: billy rubin on February 09, 2020, 01:25:52 PM
im thinking about this
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: billy rubin on February 09, 2020, 08:41:54 PM
.i think the difference here is partly just terminology.

when i use the term "material," i explicitly refer to electrochemical processes as included. the mind is the electric current that illuminates the light on your porch. material electrons in motion. when abzent, your light goes out.

still thinking. im trying to decide whether the current that runs through the wires can be considered a separate component from the functioning circuit itself. im not sure it can.

ive brought this up before and deleted it. but its appropriate. think of a river. a river is not a static object like a ball or a bat. if you remove the process, the events, as you say, from a river it is no longer a river. what we call a river requires active traction, flow, turbulence, erosion, deposition, meandering, floods, ebbs, and lots of other things that must be dynamic to exist. take them away and the river ceases to exist as a river. perhaps it haz become a cutoff meander, or an oxbow lake. whatever it is, excluding process haz made it into somethi g else.

in cases like these, material is inseperable from immaterial in the nature of the subject.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Dark Lightning on February 10, 2020, 02:35:44 AM
Quote from: billy rubin on January 28, 2020, 01:22:26 AM
i made a double post, so here is a picture i took of the grand tetons instead

(https://i.imgur.com/NY3eqNml.jpg)

Only a horny French man on an exploration would have seen teats in those mountains, but since they were pointed out, they seem to be there.

Doesn't look like that from the other side, btw.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: billy rubin on February 10, 2020, 09:43:57 AM
gros venture is a bit east of them

The Big Belly

i like th t image. four different horizons, stacked. i should have waded out to stomp that dead bush and make the image completely without depth, but the znow was preetty deep
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Davin on February 10, 2020, 03:12:47 PM
Quote from: billy rubin on February 07, 2020, 10:44:11 PM
Quote from: Davin on February 07, 2020, 07:56:27 PM
I know it's explainable, that's why I chose such a basic example, so that it would match our level of discourse. If you want to have a higher level discussion, then I'm down for that too.

let's keep it basic, davin. i don't see anything complicated in it. there is nothing that you can call "mind" which cannot be explained in material terms. "fun" consists of biofeedback that results in stimulation of the pleasure centers in your brain.
Right, we have to take this a step at a time because you keep doing things like this. We have to create a foundation of things we agree upon, and build up from there. But you consistently avoid making that foundation and jump straight to knocking the whole thing down. So do you agree with the definition and example of emergent properties, can you point to the element that makes fun that is not emergent, or are you going to continue to avoid having any semblance of a rational discussion?

I mean, look in the second bit:

Quote from: billy rubin
there is nothing that you can call "mind" which cannot be explained in material terms. "fun" consists of biofeedback that results in stimulation of the pleasure centers in your brain.

You claim that fun exists in a system, great. The question is, does fun only exist in a system like that, or does it exist on its own outside of a system?

I'm not trying to trick or deceive. If fun only exists in the system, then it's an emergent property. If fun exists outside of a system, on its own, then it's not an emergent property.

Quote from: billy rubin
by the way, i'm going to make a suggestion for you to consider.

your posting style is personally aggressive and makes you seem to be a socially challenged individual. maybe you are a socially challenged individual, or maybe you just don't have the self-awareness to see how you appear to other people.
I appreciate your opinion. I see that you're trying to open up this personal suggestion stuff and are attacking me directly, but I feel like that's not a very civil way to behave so I will refrain from responding in kind.

Quote from: billy rubin
i'm here for civil conversation, and to learn things that i don't know. i'm not into enabling people with a compulsion to spread their bad attitude or petty malice. so if that's what you plan on continuing, this is my last response to you, ever.
I'm here for civil discussion. That's why I engage and consider all the points you respond with. But you do not, you avoid and ignore a major majority of my posts, which makes me think that you're not really here for civil discussion.

Quote from: billy rubin
make a decision, davin, and we'll take it from there.
Aside from taking things as far as you do, I'm following the basic rules that if a person treats me a certain way, then they tacitly agree to be treated the same way. See how I treat other people. I respond in kind because I assume that how people treat other people is how they want to be treated. You've made your decision on how you to treat me, if you don't like it coming back at you, then you can stop at any time.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: billy rubin on February 10, 2020, 04:50:50 PM
that was your last strike, davin.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Davin on February 10, 2020, 05:14:39 PM
Quote from: billy rubin on February 10, 2020, 04:50:50 PM
that was your last strike, davin.
Sounds serious.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Recusant on February 10, 2020, 06:37:54 PM
Quote from: billy rubin on February 09, 2020, 08:41:54 PM
.i think the difference here is partly just terminology.

when i use the term "material," i explicitly refer to electrochemical processes as included. the mind is the electric current that illuminates the light on your porch. material electrons in motion. when abzent, your light goes out.

still thinking. im trying to decide whether the current that runs through the wires can be considered a separate component from the functioning circuit itself. im not sure it can.

ive brought this up before and deleted it. but its appropriate. think of a river. a river is not a static object like a ball or a bat. if you remove the process, the events, as you say, from a river it is no longer a river. what we call a river requires active traction, flow, turbulence, erosion, deposition, meandering, floods, ebbs, and lots of other things that must be dynamic to exist. take them away and the river ceases to exist as a river. perhaps it haz become a cutoff meander, or an oxbow lake. whatever it is, excluding process haz made it into somethi g else.

in cases like these, material is inseperable from immaterial in the nature of the subject.

I think that you would agree that to the best of our current knowledge, minds do not and cannot exist without brains. However, can brains exist without minds? Belated though it may be, perhaps it's worthwhile to agree on a definition (hat-tip to Davin) here.

I usually consult two dictionaries initially when I'm looking for a reference from which to attempt to build consensus on definitions: Merriam-Webster and the Oxford English Dictionary. Merriam-Webster is online, though one needs a paid account to get their unabridged version. Oxford English Dictionary is as well, though for that one needs either a paid account or access through their library. I prefer the OED itself, though there are a couple of free dictionary sites (Lexico (https://www.lexico.com/) and the Oxford Learner's Dictionaries (https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/browse/)) run by the same organisation.

So, for mind--

From Merriam-Webster (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mind):

Quote2a: the element or complex [. . .] of elements in an individual that feels, perceives, thinks, wills, and especially reasons [. . .]

b: the conscious mental events and capabilities in an organism

c: the organized conscious and unconscious adaptive mental activity of an organism

From the Oxford English Dictionary:

QuoteThe seat of awareness, thought, volition, feeling, and memory; cognitive and emotional phenomena and powers considered as constituting a presiding influence; the mental faculty of a human being (esp. as regarded as being separate from the physical); (occasionally) this whole system as constituting a person's character or individuality.

From Lexico (https://www.lexico.com/definition/mind):

QuoteThe element of a person that enables them to be aware of the world and their experiences, to think, and to feel; the faculty of consciousness and thought.

I think we might conclude that a mind requires a particular level of consciousness to qualify for the name. It would warp the meaning of the word to claim that a flatworm or an ant have a mind, while to deny that dogs, dolphins, bonobos, ravens, etc. have minds seems much too restrictive.

With the above in mind :sidesmile: I will assert that functioning brains can exist without minds, but minds cannot exist without functioning brains. A river that doesn't do "rivering" does not remain a river, agreed, but a brain that doesn't do "minding" remains a brain, despite the fact that it doesn't have the capacity for consciousness and thought. I think it's almost certain that the majority of brains on this planet are not conscious, and do not think. They don't have the capacity to bring something novel into the world. Many of them don't even really have the capacity to learn and understand things on an individual level, though at least some of them must contribute to the evolution of instinct.

The fully functioning brain of a human being is qualitatively different from the fully functioning brain of an ant. The difference being that the human being has a mind while the ant does not.

A mind is not separable from a brain (at least as of now--there are speculations about transferring minds from brains to sufficiently complex non-biological substrates, and perhaps at some point there will be computers with minds), but a mind is not the same thing as a brain, either. It seems that you may be acknowledging here that a mind is not a material thing like a brain.

Whether you do acknowledge that or not, we might return to the question of whether meaning really exists. To me the statement "there is no meaning in the universe" is nonsensical because there clearly is meaning in the universe--that which is assigned by minds. It follows then that the claim that "morality has no meaning" fails as well. I already explained why I consider "objective meaning" to be inherently self-contradictory and therefore of no utility in understanding this topic.

I agree that from some mythical "objective" point of view, using the well-being of the species as a basis for morality is arbitrary. However, I think that the well-being of the species is as close to being "objectively" superior to any other basis for morality as we are going to achieve.

I'll return to another earlier point as well--

Quote from: billy rubin on January 29, 2020, 10:17:17 PM. . . but if i decide that morality must be based on survival of a planetary ecosystem, rather than the continued survival of my own species, then the greatest moral act i could perform might be the extinction of the human race. after all, human beings are not good for a balanced, self-sustaining natural ecology. and so on.

I don't think this actually refutes the basis for morality that I've proposed. We know that in the past, the planetary ecosystem has been wiped out by the strike of a meteorite. The survival of the planetary ecosystem may at some point in the future be dependent on the intervention of Homo sapiens to prevent another such event. A morality based on survival of the planetary ecosystem is required to take that into account if it's going to be self-consistent. Regardless, our species is part of the planetary ecosystem, and a morality based on the well-being of the species would of necessity encompass ensuring the well-being of the ecosystem, as I said previously.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: billy rubin on February 10, 2020, 08:25:45 PM
gawd my worst nightmare

a post even longer than the ones i write

recusant, im thinking about this, but would you pleaee clarify what you mean by "objective," as in objective morals, objective meaning, and so on? ive seen the term used so many ways (along with subjective) that i no longer know what people mean when they use it.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Tank on February 10, 2020, 08:28:28 PM
Quote from: billy rubin on February 10, 2020, 08:25:45 PM
gawd my worst nightmare

a reply longer than the ones i write

:rofl:

This is why I don't get involved in the blood bath known as philosophy.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: billy rubin on February 11, 2020, 07:00:04 PM
i will be concise . . .
i will be concise . . .
i will be better than i am . . .

spoiler: i failed

Quote from: Recusant on February 10, 2020, 06:37:54 PM

I think we might conclude that a mind requires a particular level of consciousness to qualify for the name. It would warp the meaning of the word to claim that a flatworm or an ant have a mind, while to deny that dogs, dolphins, bonobos, ravens, etc. have minds seems much too restrictive.

i would assert that the dfinitions you listed are biased to describe a human mind, rather than mind in general. in fact, the second and third definitions specifically pertain to human brain function. in contrast, take the flatworm which you have mentioned. a planarian can learn to navigate a two-way maze. the flatworm has enough of a mind to distinguish left and right, remember the decision, and apply the learning to new experiences. what they do not have is a human mind, but it's nonetheless a directing consiousness-- an awareness of their existence and their surroundings-- that can identify a choice, make a decision, and act on it.

or take the ant. ants learn their way around the world by basically counting their footsteps and remembering directions. but they also can learn to use landmarks to correct the cumulative errors, and combine this informtion to navigate. they don't write sonatas, so if that is what a mind is, they don't qualify. but they take information in from their world, process it, and apply it to novel  situations. that seems to me to qualify as a reasonable non-anthropomorphic definiotion of "mind."

i would define  "mind" more broadly than a human-focused analyst would, as just a term for the non-autonomous intformation processing activity of a nervous system, espcially as applied to learning and behavior. some organisms have more complex minds than others, and i suggest that a mind sufficientlly more complex than our own might look like nothing we could recognize as a mind at all.

Quote
Whether you do acknowledge that or not, we might return to the question of whether meaning really exists. To me the statement "there is no meaning in the universe" is nonsensical because there clearly is meaning in the universe--that which is assigned by minds. It follows then that the claim that "morality has no meaning" fails as well. I already explained why I consider "objective meaning" to be inherently self-contradictory and therefore of no utility in understanding this topic.

I agree that from some mythical "objective" point of view, using the well-being of the species as a basis for morality is arbitrary. However, I think that the well-being of the species is as close to being "objectively" superior to any other basis for morality as we are going to achieve.

i don't know what "objective" means.

to me, meaning exists only by assertion. to the extent that we assign value to our own assertions, then meaning exists to that degree. if i decide, a priori, that i believe in morality, on any foundation, then moral choices i make are meaningful--to me. if i choose not to believe, then moral meaning does not exist--for me. so the claims "morality has meaning," or "morality has no meaning" have truth value only in light of the premises of the claimant. i would say that they have no external existence beyond that.

so sure, meaning exists, in that sense. i find meaning in the notebooks of leonardo da vinci. my cat finds meaning in his dinner. neither is a higher or a lower meaning than the other. similarly, there is moral meaning in any thought or any act, or not, depending on my own view, which need not be shared by anybody else.

Quote
I'll return to another earlier point as well--

Quote from: billy rubin on January 29, 2020, 10:17:17 PM. . . but if i decide that morality must be based on survival of a planetary ecosystem, rather than the continued survival of my own species, then the greatest moral act i could perform might be the extinction of the human race. after all, human beings are not good for a balanced, self-sustaining natural ecology. and so on.

I don't think this actually refutes the basis for morality that I've proposed. We know that in the past, the planetary ecosystem has been wiped out by the strike of a meteorite. The survival of the planetary ecosystem may at some point in the future be dependent on the intervention of Homo sapiens to prevent another such event. A morality based on survival of the planetary ecosystem is required to take that into account if it's going to be self-consistent. Regardless, our species is part of the planetary ecosystem, and a morality based on the well-being of the species would of necessity encompass ensuring the well-being of the ecosystem, as I said previously.

well, there isn't any way to "refute"  a moral system assigning human or planetary survival as the guiding principal, any more than there is a way to refute a moral system aimed at spreading the colour blue throughout the universe. to refute a moral system requires that it be compared for consistency with a superior frame of reference, one that can supply a standard against which it can be judged. if there is no higher frame of reference to use in assigning relative value, no moral system can be assigned a higher or lower value thn any other.  what would be the higher frame of reference that gives human survivability any value that exceeds the spreading of the colour blue? if i am the measure of my morality, then i vote for blue, and human survivability can be valued by other people to the identical degree, but no more.

to be more specific, on what basis is the survival of the human race of any importance? or comparatively, how is the survival of human beings more morally valuable than survival of planarians or ants? as human beings, we favor our own gene pool, because heritable traits that increase survivorship or fecundity are selected and increase in frequency in subsequent generations. we are hard-wired to look out for our kin, and by extension, to apply those mechanical traits to the well-being of our species over that of others. and the moral system of an ant might be identical, and equally valid, if we were smart enough to be able to ask one. looking out for humans over ants is like rooting for manchester city over manchester united.

if all moral systems are indistingushable in terms of meningfulness, then all are equually meaningful or non-meaningful. to me, this situation can be most conveniently described by saying that morals have no meaning.

but it would be just as correct to say that all morals are equally meaningful.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: billy rubin on February 11, 2020, 07:10:13 PM
by the way, this discussion reminds of th emost visually beautiful motion picture i have ever seen, tarsem singh's the fall

(https://screenmusings.org/movie/blu-ray/The-Fall/images/The-Fall-0784.jpg)

to film this scene, singh supplied a small village with enough paint to re-do much of their buildings-- in blue.

was it a moral act? if increasing the color blue has moral meaning, and i say it does, is it any different from saving the world from a meterorite?
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: billy rubin on February 11, 2020, 07:39:49 PM
now i'm distracted. it's my day off.



if you have never seen this motion picture, you need to. my wife hates it because there's so much death. but the the use of composition, color, and motion is spectacular, especially because there is zero CGI. it's all real.

and i'm a sucker for the seventh, too.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Recusant on February 12, 2020, 03:13:56 AM
Quote from: billy rubin on February 11, 2020, 07:00:04 PM
i will be concise . . .
i will be concise . . .
i will be better than i am . . .

spoiler: i failed

Quote from: Recusant on February 10, 2020, 06:37:54 PM

I think we might conclude that a mind requires a particular level of consciousness to qualify for the name. It would warp the meaning of the word to claim that a flatworm or an ant have a mind, while to deny that dogs, dolphins, bonobos, ravens, etc. have minds seems much too restrictive.

i would assert that the dfinitions you listed are biased to describe a human mind, rather than mind in general. in fact, the second and third definitions specifically pertain to human brain function. in contrast, take the flatworm which you have mentioned. a planarian can learn to navigate a two-way maze. the flatworm has enough of a mind to distinguish left and right, remember the decision, and apply the learning to new experiences. what they do not have is a human mind, but it's nonetheless a directing consiousness-- an awareness of their existence and their surroundings-- that can identify a choice, make a decision, and act on it.

or take the ant. ants learn their way around the world by basically counting their footsteps and remembering directions. but they also can learn to use landmarks to correct the cumulative errors, and combine this informtion to navigate. they don't write sonatas, so if that is what a mind is, they don't qualify. but they take information in from their world, process it, and apply it to novel  situations. that seems to me to qualify as a reasonable non-anthropomorphic definiotion of "mind."

i would define  "mind" more broadly than a human-focused analyst would, as just a term for the non-autonomous intformation processing activity of a nervous system, espcially as applied to learning and behavior. some organisms have more complex minds than others, and i suggest that a mind sufficientlly more complex than our own might look like nothing we could recognize as a mind at all.

Quote
Whether you do acknowledge that or not, we might return to the question of whether meaning really exists. To me the statement "there is no meaning in the universe" is nonsensical because there clearly is meaning in the universe--that which is assigned by minds. It follows then that the claim that "morality has no meaning" fails as well. I already explained why I consider "objective meaning" to be inherently self-contradictory and therefore of no utility in understanding this topic.

I agree that from some mythical "objective" point of view, using the well-being of the species as a basis for morality is arbitrary. However, I think that the well-being of the species is as close to being "objectively" superior to any other basis for morality as we are going to achieve.

i don't know what "objective" means.

to me, meaning exists only by assertion. to the extent that we assign value to our own assertions, then meaning exists to that degree. if i decide, a priori, that i believe in morality, on any foundation, then moral choices i make are meaningful--to me. if i choose not to believe, then moral meaning does not exist--for me. so the claims "morality has meaning," or "morality has no meaning" have truth value only in light of the premises of the claimant. i would say that they have no external existence beyond that.

so sure, meaning exists, in that sense. i find meaning in the notebooks of leonardo da vinci. my cat finds meaning in his dinner. neither is a higher or a lower meaning than the other. similarly, there is moral meaning in any thought or any act, or not, depending on my own view, which need not be shared by anybody else.

Quote
I'll return to another earlier point as well--

Quote from: billy rubin on January 29, 2020, 10:17:17 PM. . . but if i decide that morality must be based on survival of a planetary ecosystem, rather than the continued survival of my own species, then the greatest moral act i could perform might be the extinction of the human race. after all, human beings are not good for a balanced, self-sustaining natural ecology. and so on.

I don't think this actually refutes the basis for morality that I've proposed. We know that in the past, the planetary ecosystem has been wiped out by the strike of a meteorite. The survival of the planetary ecosystem may at some point in the future be dependent on the intervention of Homo sapiens to prevent another such event. A morality based on survival of the planetary ecosystem is required to take that into account if it's going to be self-consistent. Regardless, our species is part of the planetary ecosystem, and a morality based on the well-being of the species would of necessity encompass ensuring the well-being of the ecosystem, as I said previously.

well, there isn't any way to "refute"  a moral system assigning human or planetary survival as the guiding principal, any more than there is a way to refute a moral system aimed at spreading the colour blue throughout the universe. to refute a moral system requires that it be compared for consistency with a superior frame of reference, one that can supply a standard against which it can be judged. if there is no higher frame of reference to use in assigning relative value, no moral system can be assigned a higher or lower value thn any other.  what would be the higher frame of reference that gives human survivability any value that exceeds the spreading of the colour blue? if i am the measure of my morality, then i vote for blue, and human survivability can be valued by other people to the identical degree, but no more.

to be more specific, on what basis is the survival of the human race of any importance? or comparatively, how is the survival of human beings more morally valuable than survival of planarians or ants? as human beings, we favor our own gene pool, because heritable traits that increase survivorship or fecundity are selected and increase in frequency in subsequent generations. we are hard-wired to look out for our kin, and by extension, to apply those mechanical traits to the well-being of our species over that of others. and the moral system of an ant might be identical, and equally valid, if we were smart enough to be able to ask one. looking out for humans over ants is like rooting for manchester city over manchester united.

if all moral systems are indistingushable in terms of meningfulness, then all are equually meaningful or non-meaningful. to me, this situation can be most conveniently described by saying that morals have no meaning.

but it would be just as correct to say that all morals are equally meaningful.

This demonstrates the usefulness of agreeing on definitions. The standard definitions that I've checked all refer to terms like "consciousness," "imagination," "thought," and other qualities that are mostly specific to human beings. Again, I don't think it's reasonable to claim that only human beings have minds, but neither do I think it's reasonable to claim that all multicellular animals have minds.

It looks to me like you're positing a non-standard definition of the word because you disagree with common usage. Where do you draw the line? Do all multicellular animals have minds? How about interesting animals like amoebas?

You tell me that you don't know the meaning of a word (objective) that has been used in this very discussion and in previous discussions of this topic. Are we to act as if the word doesn't exist because you claim that you don't know its meaning? If you're going to reject the standard definitions of words, it will make the discussion more difficult than it already is, perhaps to the point of making it impossible.

"expressing or dealing with facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations."

"having reality independent of the mind" (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/objective)

Am I expected to adopt your idiosyncratic definitions and/or personal deletion of words for the purpose of this discussion? If not, do you have something else in mind?

It seems like you're attempting to deny the fact that we are a social species. We live and die through our interactions with other members of our species, and those interactions are not random nor arbitrary--they are governed by morality. I previously placed morality in this context: as something that pertains to people collectively. An individual's denial or acceptance of moral precepts does not negate or affirm those moral precepts.

To me, this fact can serve as a basis for understanding morality as something other than a purely arbitrary whim. I don't think one can reasonably deny that it exists in our species because it enhances our survival as a species: morality is clearly a trait that arose as our species evolved. Moral choices made by an individual are not just meaningful to the individual, but to people collectively. In the same way, an individual's denial of moral meaning is irrelevant to the larger question of moral meaning. You are not the measure of your morality, because though moral choices can be made by individuals, morality is something that is determined by humans collectively.

An assertion that the well-being of the species is not a superior frame of reference because you happen to prefer "spreading blue" fails when morality is understood as a intrinsic, evolved component of the existence of the species. An individual's rejection of the survival of the species as a superior frame of reference is irrelevant to that fact.

Claiming we might talk to ants, "if we were smart enough" to talk to them (and thereby show that "ant morality" is puts human morality in its proper perspective) is an appeal to absurdity. We're human beings, discussing human morality. This goes back to my initial post (http://www.happyatheistforum.com/forum/index.php?topic=16439.msg396748#msg396748) in this thread, in which I pointed out that moral nihilists think they can deny morality has meaning essentially because there is no god to give it meaning. People give morality meaning. Not some person arguing on the internet, people.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Davin on February 12, 2020, 02:19:54 PM
I agree with Recusant.

The survival and well being of the individual is dependent on the species. If you're eating food that did not solely come from your own efforts, then you depend on society and have a vested interest in its success. If you drive a car, you didn't make that yourself. If you have boss, you're not paying yourself. If you're your own boss and are making money directly from other people or companies, that's not much different. If you're wearing clothes that you didn't make, or made but didn't create the fabric they are made from... etc. then you depend on society and the species. If you're arguing on an internet forum with internet strangers, I guarantee that you did fuck to create any of the infrastructure necessary to enable that, so you're depending on the species and society. And if you gain any enjoyment or your work requires the internet in any way, then you have a vested interest in the success of the species that created and maintains it so that it keeps maintaining the internet.

We are not alone doing things on our own and depending on only ourselves, we are part of and depend on the success of our species.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: billy rubin on February 12, 2020, 10:10:40 PM
hi recusant

Quote from: Recusant on February 12, 2020, 03:13:56 AM

This demonstrates the usefulness of agreeing on definitions. The standard definitions that I've checked all refer to terms like "consciousness," "imagination," "thought," and other qualities that are mostly specific to human beings. Again, I don't think it's reasonable to claim that only human beings have minds, but neither do I think it's reasonable to claim that all multicellular animals have minds.

It looks to me like you're positing a non-standard definition of the word because you disagree with common usage. Where do you draw the line? Do all multicellular animals have minds? How about interesting animals like amoebas?

definitions for the same thing vary in quality and emphasis. i think any definition of "mind" that includes "human being" in it is going to exclude other organisms even if they satisfy all the requirements in every other way. if a defintion says that bagpipes are instruments played by scotsmen, then a frenchman picking up the same instrument won't have a set of bagpipes in his hands. the definition would be a poor one, and i think defintions of "mind" that specify only human beings make the same mistake.

but i would exclude animals from having a mind if they don't physically possess the hardware. google tells me that a human brain has some 86 billion neurons, while an ant has some 250,000. so an individual ant is not going to be comparable in raw processing capacity to a human being. but does an ant have a lesser mind in the same way a human has a greater one, leaving out the requirement that it must be human? i think that it does, as well as do other insects. some examples:

-insects can learn. insects can take in and process knowledge—both implicit and explicit—to their own benefit. honeybees learn the locations of nectar, pollen, water, and nest locations from other bees, with specific measures of distance, dircection, and desirability, using various dances accompanied by sharing samples of the target. the dance language is instinctive, but the learners must consciously pay attention to the teacher and process the information. so insects can use mental capacity to percieve, store, and use information. attending to a dance is not automatic. the bees must be the correct age and not otherwise occupied. it must decide to learn, and many bees alongside it don't so choose.

-insects can teach. the volitional dances of bees transmit explicit knowledge, the sort that humans communicate by language—information coded in some way and transferred by sharing the code. but insects can also teach implicit knowledge, the kind that doesn't use a code, but is transferred by observation or repetition. in human beings, it might be the act of teaching someone to drive a car, or to make a bed. foraging ants consciously teach other ants the location of resources by literally leading them there in an activity called tandem running. the knowing ant physically slows down and prods, pulls, and pushes a naive ant towards the target that the knowing ant is already aware of. once the naive ant learns the location, it can travel there on its own. so insects will consciously transfer knowledge of their surroundings to other insects who did not percieve it directly, and who are not using an instinctive mechanism to learn. this is the same thing that humans would say requires a mind, if a human was involved.

insects can innovate in novel situations. bumblebees can learn to pull a string to access a reward that is out of reach, and other bumblebees can learn the task by simply watching them. string-pulling is not a natural skill, but bumblebees that consciously pay attention can learn it, transfer it to other individuals, who themselves can transfer it further. this is what we call culture in human beings, and so the bumble bees have culture as well. unless we are going to specify humans-only in the defintion. i would say that you have to have a mind to have what we call culture.

insects can improve on what they learn. in humans we call it cumulative culture, the refining of skills. bumble bees that learn how to pull an object from another bumblebee are capable of improving on the task, by improving  the route they take to a reward. so not only is there teaching and learning, but a formerly naive learner can optimize the task beyond what is learned. in bumblebees, it consists of pulling a ball from one place to another. in human society, it might consist of a piano teacher being surpassed by his student.

so insects can learn, teach, innovate in novel situations, and improve on what they are taught,  in my opinion, this constitutes "thinking," and "consciousness," in any reasonable way we might define it. i don't know about "imagination." but because there's no test that we could apply to look for it, i don't see how we can evaluate whether an ant has imagination or not. so if thinking and consciousness are what generate a mind, then these insects have one.

i don't think that amoebas have a nervous system at all, so i would have to say that if they do think, it's different enough from what we call thinking that we might as well exclude them. but i think some insects most definitily think, and if thinking is what defines a mind, then insects can have one as much as i do.

Quote
You tell me that you don't know the meaning of a word (objective) that has been used in this very discussion and in previous discussions of this topic. Are we to act as if the word doesn't exist because you claim that you don't know its meaning? If you're going to reject the standard definitions of words, it will make the discussion more difficult than it already is, perhaps to the point of making it impossible.

"expressing or dealing with facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations."

"having reality independent of the mind" (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/objective)

Am I expected to adopt your idiosyncratic definitions and/or personal deletion of words for the purpose of this discussion? If not, do you have something else in mind?

no, of course not. but sometimes people use "objective" when they mean "absolute," or "descending from natural law," or "having been found in a dictionary (!)," and you've used the word repeatedly without clarifying just what you meant. i asked you in an earlier post to define it, so thank you.  i've already shown how a defintion of mind that specifies only humans has been distorted by athropomorphism to the point where mind cannot be concieved of in other contexts, not by nature but by defintion. that doesn't make sense or seem useful to me.

Quote
It seems like you're attempting to deny the fact that we are a social species. We live and die through our interactions with other members of our species, and those interactions are not random nor arbitrary--they are governed by morality. I previously placed morality in this context: as something that pertains to people collectively. An individual's denial or acceptance of moral precepts does not negate or affirm those moral precepts.

To me, this fact can serve as a basis for understanding morality as something other than a purely arbitrary whim. I don't think one can reasonably deny that it exists in our species because it enhances our survival as a species: morality is clearly a trait that arose as our species evolved. Moral choices made by an individual are not just meaningful to the individual, but to people collectively. In the same way, an individual's denial of moral meaning is irrelevant to the larger question of moral meaning. You are not the measure of your morality, because though moral choices can be made by individuals, morality is something that is determined by humans collectively.

An assertion that the well-being of the species is not a superior frame of reference because you happen to prefer "spreading blue" fails when morality is understood as a intrinsic, evolved component of the existence of the species. An individual's rejection of the survival of the species as a superior frame of reference is irrelevant to that fact.

i deny the unproven premise, recusant, the one upon which your argument depends:

morality is understood as a intrinsic, evolved component of the existence of the species.

says who, respectfully?

morality is enforced by cultures of human beings, generally by the winners of wars or genocides against other cultures.

i don't deny that humans are social, or that i am subject to evolved social forces. what i deny is the assertion that somehow enhanced sociality is a more moral situation than increases in the colour blue. what you have done is elevated social cohesion to a position of  being "morally good." but you have so far just asserted this over and over while never explaining why social cohesion should be regarded as a universal good. yes, it is a force that increases the number of human babies in the world, but is that "good," or is that just "adaptive?"

if what is adaptive defines what is good, i can point to many adaptive behaviors most human moralists reject.

on what basis does good for human beings overrule good for norway rats, except in the self-centered minds of human beings? when we assert morality-according-to-species-survival, we are  selecting a measure and claiming that there is a universal foundation that we all should automatically agree with. but it isn't there. selecting species survival as good is only non-arbitrary within the limits of our species. this is logicvally the same as a nazi saying that what is good according to nazis must naturally overrule what is good according to jews. you are most certainly not a nazi, but you must see the logic here.

Quote
Claiming we might talk to ants, "if we were smart enough" to talk to them (and thereby show that "ant morality" is puts human morality in its proper perspective) is an appeal to absurdity. We're human beings, discussing human morality. This goes back to my initial post (http://www.happyatheistforum.com/forum/index.php?topic=16439.msg396748#msg396748) in this thread, in which I pointed out that moral nihilists think they can deny morality has meaning essentially because there is no god to give it meaning. People give morality meaning. Not some person arguing on the internet, people.

yes. i agree.  it's people that give morality whatever meaning it is capable of having.  i've already asserted that any particular meaning exists wherever and whenever someone says it does, and ceases to exist wherever and whenever someone else can force a different one. this is not an appeal to absurdity, but simply an observation of how real human societies work. your argument depends on one morality being the correct one—yours, where all others must be wrong-- because you say so. but everybody else with a different morality also asserts that theirs is correct, with the same justification that you have so far presented to support your own.

not all human moralities hold that the survival of the "human species" is the highest good. most tacitly assert only that the survival of their particular tribe is good, and let the rest of the world go to hell. christian morality looks forward to the destruction of the earth, and there are more christians than atheists in our society. it is inarguable that moralities differ, so they cannot all be correct, although all can be wrong. and so far as i know, there is no standard available that all parties will agree on. so when i say that morality is meaningless, i am pointing to the reality that none have greater or lesser meaning than any other, whether they agree or contradict.

Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Recusant on February 13, 2020, 03:20:58 AM
Quote from: billy rubin on February 12, 2020, 10:10:40 PM. . . sometimes people use "objective" when they mean "absolute," or "descending from natural law," or "having been found in a dictionary (!)," and you've used the word repeatedly without clarifying just what you meant. i asked you in an earlier post to define it, so thank you.  i've already shown how a defintion of mind that specifies only humans has been distorted by athropomorphism to the point where mind cannot be concieved of in other contexts, not by nature but by defintion. that doesn't make sense or seem useful to me.

Understood. You don't wish to use commonly understood definitions, so we'll leave it at that. I'll have to keep it in mind in future that you may have decided that some word used in a discussion means something different from what it is commonly understood to mean. That should be entertaining.

Quote from: billy rubin on February 12, 2020, 10:10:40 PMi deny the unproven premise, recusant, the one upon which your argument depends:

morality is understood as a intrinsic, evolved component of the existence of the species.

says who, respectfully?

We observe our closest related species exhibiting a relatively primitive morality. They are less dependent on instinct to guide their interaction than other animals are, and we have evolved further in that direction.  I don't think you believe human morality was handed down from the sky, and it must have come from somewhere. Where do you think human morality came from, if it didn't evolve?

Quote from: billy rubin on February 12, 2020, 10:10:40 PMi don't deny that humans are social, or that i am subject to evolved social forces. what i deny is your assertion that somehow enhanced sociality is a more moral situation than increases in the colour blue. what you have done is elevated social cohesion to a position of  being "morally good." but you have so far just asserted this over and over while never explaining why social cohesion should be regarded as a universal good. yes, it is a force that increases the number of human babies in the world, but is that "good," or is that just "adaptive?"

I'm not talking merely about "social cohesion," nor have I asserted that increasing the number of human babies in the world is in and of itself desirable from the point of view of the good of the species. I'm pointing out that the species stands in a superior position to any individual, or indeed to any particular fraction of the species. The species as a whole deserves more consideration than the whims of any individual or group. You may deny that, and if so, I don't think there is much more to be discussed on the issue.

Quote from: billy rubin on February 12, 2020, 10:10:40 PMwhere is the code of hammurabi for this belief?
I've advanced the well-being of the species as a means to evaluate moralities in general. I don't need no stinkin' Code of Hammurabi; it's a simple principle.

Quote from: billy rubin on February 12, 2020, 10:10:40 PMon what basis does good for human beings overrule good for norway rats, except in the self-centered minds of human beings? when you assert morality-according-to-species-survival, you are  selecting a measure and claiming that there is a universal foundation that we all should automatically agree with. but it isn't there. selecting species survival as good is only non-arbitrary within the limits of what you control. this is logicvally the same as saying that what is good according to nazis must naturally overrule what is good according to jews. you are most certainly not a nazi, but you must see the logic here.

So here's where we are: Rats have minds, their point of view is equal to that of humans, therefore we humans have no "meaningful" way by which we might evaluate morality. There is no god, so morality is meaningless. Spread the blue!

Quote from: billy rubin on February 12, 2020, 10:10:40 PMyes. i agree. but it's people that give morality whatever meaning it is capable of having.  i've already asserted that any particular meaning exists wherever and whenever someone says it does, and ceases to exist wherever and whenever someone else asserts a different one. this is not an appeal to absurdity, but simply an observation of how real human societies work. your argument depends on one morality being the correct one—yours, where all others must be wrong-- because you say so. and everybody else with a different morality also asserts that theirs is correct, with the same justification that you have so far presented to support your own.

I haven't proposed a "morality" but a means by which it seems sensible to evaluate moral codes and their implications.

Quote from: billy rubin on February 12, 2020, 10:10:40 PMnot all moralities hold that the survival of the "human species" is the highest good. most assert only that the survival of their particular tribe is good, and let the rest of the world go to hell. christian morality looks forward to the destruction of the earth, and there are more christians than atheists in our society. it is inarguable that moralities differ, so they cannot all be correct, although all can be wrong. and so far as i know, there is no standard available that all parties will agree on. so when i say that morality is meaningless, i am explicitly acknowledging that reality.

You say that morality is meaningless because of your conception of reality. That conception may be faulty, just as mine may be.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: billy rubin on February 13, 2020, 11:12:53 PM
Quote from: Recusant on February 13, 2020, 03:20:58 AM
Understood. You don't wish to use commonly understood definitions, so we'll leave it at that. I'll have to keep it in mind in future that you may have decided that some word used in a discussion means something different from what it is commonly understood to mean. That should be entertaining.

lol

recusant, two of the three defintions for "mind" that you supplied specified "human beings" and "persons."  but you have said that you want to include "dogs, dolphins, bonobos, ravens, etc.." as having "minds." it seems that neither of us has an understanding of "mind" that fits with the dictionary defintions you propose. so i think it is already entertaining.

but i'll concede the point: insects do not have minds. because most all the defintionss of "thinking" or "thought" that i read include "mind" in the defintion, i will also exclude thought from their abilities: insects cannot think, because they do not have minds, by definition.

however, they do have brains, and those brains are capable of fairly sophisticated cognitive function (https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02751/full).

there's a wiki (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insect_cognition) on it, in fact.

a discussion of  whether thinking is the same as cognitive function is one we might have at a later time.

Quote
We observe our closest related species exhibiting a relatively primitive morality. They are less dependent on instinct to guide their interaction than other animals are, and we have evolved further in that direction.  I don't think you believe human morality was handed down from the sky, and it must have come from somewhere. Where do you think human morality came from, if it didn't evolve?

i think any particular morality might derive from five sources, often more than one at a time:

--- natural selection, the evolution solution you mentioned
--- personal aesthetics and emotions, like sartre and camus, etc
--- making shit up, like your average joe
--- a deity, like the hebrews, muslims, pentacostals
--- a fixed characteristic of the physical universe, like nobody, but it's a possibility . . .

in my opinion, the various moralities human cultures follow come from natural selection and making shit up, crediting a deity afterwards. individuals who decide their own framing of right and wrong might credit any of the five. we could explore this further, if you're interested.

Quote
I'm not talking merely about "social cohesion," nor have I asserted that increasing the number of human babies in the world is in and of itself desirable from the point of view of the good of the species. I'm pointing out that the species stands in a superior position to any individual, or indeed to any particular fraction of the species. The species as a whole deserves more consideration than the whims of any individual or group. You may deny that, and if so, I don't think there is much more to be discussed on the issue.

whoa, there, my friend!

a species "stands in a superior position to any individual?" a "species as whole deserves more consideration than any individual or group?" seriously, lets skip the rest of the exchange and explore this idea. see, this stuff is why i have to ask you to define the words you use, not because i don't know what they generally mean, but because you have specific usages in mind that aren't always immediately understandable to me.

i do not want to put words in your mouth, so would you please explain why a species stands in a superior position and deserves more consideration than a group or individual? i'm thinking you might be talking philosophy or metaphysics, because you certainly aren't talking evolutionary biology.

what do you mean?

QuoteYou say that morality is meaningless because of your conception of reality. That conception may be faulty, just as mine may be.

yes, i'm wrong about all sorts of things, all the time. just ask my lovely wife. that's why i'm here, to find out better answers to my questions.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Recusant on February 14, 2020, 03:50:38 AM
Quote from: billy rubin on February 13, 2020, 11:12:53 PM
[spoiler]
Quote from: Recusant on February 13, 2020, 03:20:58 AM
Understood. You don't wish to use commonly understood definitions, so we'll leave it at that. I'll have to keep it in mind in future that you may have decided that some word used in a discussion means something different from what it is commonly understood to mean. That should be entertaining.

lol

recusant, two of the three defintions for "mind" that you supplied specified "human beings" and "persons."  but you have said that you want to include "dogs, dolphins, bonobos, ravens, etc.." as having "minds." it seems that neither of us has an understanding of "mind" that fits with the dictionary defintions you propose. so i think it is already entertaining.

but i'll concede the point: insects do not have minds. because most all the defintionss of "thinking" or "thought" that i read include "mind" in the defintion, i will also exclude thought from their abilities: insects cannot think, because they do not have minds, by definition.

however, they do have brains, and those brains are capable of fairly sophisticated cognitive function (https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02751/full).

there's a wiki (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insect_cognition) on it, in fact.

a discussion of  whether thinking is the same as cognitive function is one we might have at a later time.

Quote
We observe our closest related species exhibiting a relatively primitive morality. They are less dependent on instinct to guide their interaction than other animals are, and we have evolved further in that direction.  I don't think you believe human morality was handed down from the sky, and it must have come from somewhere. Where do you think human morality came from, if it didn't evolve?

i think any particular morality might derive from five sources, often more than one at a time:

--- natural selection, the evolution solution you mentioned
--- personal aesthetics and emotions, like sartre and camus, etc
--- making shit up, like your average joe
--- a deity, like the hebrews, muslims, pentacostals
--- a fixed characteristic of the physical universe, like nobody, but it's a possibility . . .

in my opinion, the various moralities human cultures follow come from natural selection and making shit up, crediting a deity afterwards. individuals who decide their own framing of right and wrong might credit any of the five. we could explore this further, if you're interested.

Quote
I'm not talking merely about "social cohesion," nor have I asserted that increasing the number of human babies in the world is in and of itself desirable from the point of view of the good of the species. I'm pointing out that the species stands in a superior position to any individual, or indeed to any particular fraction of the species. The species as a whole deserves more consideration than the whims of any individual or group. You may deny that, and if so, I don't think there is much more to be discussed on the issue.

whoa, there, my friend!

a species "stands in a superior position to any individual?" a "species as whole deserves more consideration than any individual or group?" seriously, lets skip the rest of the exchange and explore this idea. see, this stuff is why i have to ask you to define the words you use, not because i don't know what they generally mean, but because you have specific usages in mind that aren't always immediately understandable to me.

i do not want to put words in your mouth, so would you please explain why a species stands in a superior position and deserves more consideration than a group or individual? i'm thinking you might be talking philosophy or metaphysics, because you certainly aren't talking evolutionary biology.

what do you mean?

QuoteYou say that morality is meaningless because of your conception of reality. That conception may be faulty, just as mine may be.

yes, i'm wrong about all sorts of things, all the time. just ask my lovely wife. that's why i'm here, to find out better answers to my questions.[/spoiler]

If an animal is capable of expressing a personality, to me that indicates something that can legitimately be called a mind. I don't know if all animals with that capability qualify as a person in the same way that human beings do, but I'm inclined to think that the most intelligent of them do. Take Koko the gorilla. I think to claim that she was not a person, and did not have a mind, is definitely problematic. To hear her tell it, she was a person (http://www.happyatheistforum.com/forum/index.php?topic=15856.msg376624#msg376624). She was just a gorilla though, so what did she know. So yes, my understanding of the concept of mind is not in exact conformance with the dictionaries. I'd concede the point that strictly speaking I'm incorrect in my usage. 

Your examination of "particular moralities" strikes me as a diversion. Regardless of which human culture you care to mention, you will find a moral code. Its particularities and the mythology associated with it don't change that. It's part of how we operate as a species. We're discussing the concept of morality here, not any particular moral codes, as I understand it. You seem to agree that human morality is an intrinsic, evolved component of the existence of the species since you state that it comes from natural selection and making shit up.

I agree with you in thinking myths are created to illustrate a moral code. To put some furniture in the room, so to speak. The room (a moral code) is always there though. Individuals operate using their own versions, sometimes lacking any focus at all except self-gratification, but it seems apparent that moral conception is integral to our species.

Quotei do not want to put words in your mouth, so would you please explain why a species stands in a superior position and deserves more consideration than a group or individual? i'm thinking you might be talking philosophy or metaphysics, because you certainly aren't talking evolutionary biology.

When I say that a species stands in a superior position, I mean that the course of the species through time is of more significance than that of any particular individual or group. A species is a greater entity than any individual or grouping of the species. Which brings me to the conclusion that a species deserves more consideration than individuals and groups.

As far as evolutionary biology goes, I'd say the same applies. Biologists may study individuals of a species, but in doing so they're almost always trying to learn about the species, because the species is more significant than the individual. This is just as valid when applied to our own species.

Earlier I claimed that "objective meaning" is an oxymoron. However, there is a question of whether we can to an extent divorce our perspective from our personal opinions while acknowledging that we will never entirely succeed: The concept of perspective requires the existence of somebody looking. I think it's useful to try to gain a wider perspective, but that's just, like, my opinion, man.

I'm going to loop back--

Perhaps some would dispute this, but it at least appears that instinct governs the behavior of most animals, including interactions within their species. Yes, insects can learn, but it's extremely unlikely that they're thinking about what they're doing; making choices about what they learn, for instance. They learn only as much as is required to achieve basic goals, and they do it instinctively. Why does instinct exist? To enhance the chances of survival of the species.

We also know that the influence of instinct in humans is considerably decreased in comparison to the overwhelming majority of species. In our species intellect has largely taken the place of instinct, though of course we haven't left it behind entirely. To govern interactions within our species, we've evolved the capacity to invent and use moral codes. So, moral codes have to a considerable extent replaced instinct in determining how members of our species interact. They serve the same purpose for us that instinct does in other animals, that purpose being enhancing the chances of survival of the species. Analyzing Homo sapiens from a dispassionate perspective which doesn't give our species a "special" place (a mythical position as a god's children) seems to lead inevitably to this conclusion.

I'd say that we can use this conclusion to evaluate a moral code from a fairly close approximation of an objective point of view. The measure of value being how well it serves its function. But again, just my opinion, bearing no more weight than any other person's. I don't think I have answers to life's deep questions, but I'm occasionally willing to discuss them.

Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: billy rubin on February 14, 2020, 04:55:08 PM
Quote from: Recusant on February 14, 2020, 03:50:38 AM
When I say that a species stands in a superior position, I mean that the course of the species through time is of more significance than that of any particular individual or group. A species is a greater entity than any individual or grouping of the species. Which brings me to the conclusion that a species deserves more consideration than individuals and groups.

As far as evolutionary biology goes, I'd say the same applies. Biologists may study individuals of a species, but in doing so they're almost always trying to learn about the species, because the species is more significant than the individual. This is just as valid when applied to our own species.

id like to parse this out for a moment, with yoyr permizsion. im ztuck in a service station for a bit and dont have a lot of time.

"species" is a taxonomic entity, not something that exists in nature except as a unit of convenience for systematists. in nature the functional unit is a breeding population, which will never correspond to any theoretical speciez and in many casez is not even easily diztinguished az being part of it.

therez nothing of "greater" significance about speciez when compRed to individualz, any more than a family or an order is of greater significance in any way than a species. at least that i know about. all are artificial categories that nature doesnt recognize. so im not sure what consideration a speciez deserves as a function of something.

biologists study organizmz , and group them into species as a means of conveniently lumping what theyre talking about. there are various different definitionz of speciez, and not all organizmz match up into them neatly. one definition specifiez succezzful interbreeding of members, and so vannot be used for azexual or fossil organizmz. others specify only gross  morphology, and ignore significant differences that separate subspeciez or cladez within the "speciez."

i once asked an ichthyologist what a speciez waz in her field, and she replied,

a speciez iz whatever a competent specialist in the field zayz it is.

at any rate, biologists typically study breeding populationz rather than species, unlezz theyre taxonomistz, as i was. what is significant about animalz to an evokutionary ecologist or a palaeontologist typically is a quite coarser grain than "species" can encompass.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Tank on February 14, 2020, 05:00:46 PM
tl;dr

Do we have an answer yet?  ;)
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: billy rubin on February 14, 2020, 05:02:59 PM
lol

i m sorry

i think the clutter is mostly because of me. i find it hard to focuz
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Tank on February 14, 2020, 05:41:34 PM
Quote from: billy rubin on February 14, 2020, 05:02:59 PM
lol

i m sorry

i think the clutter is mostly because of me. i find it hard to focuz

LOL!

I'm teasing. I suspect there will never be an answer, let alone one upon which at least 3 people agree!
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Recusant on February 14, 2020, 11:19:52 PM
Quote from: billy rubin on February 14, 2020, 04:55:08 PM
[spoiler]
Quote from: Recusant on February 14, 2020, 03:50:38 AM
When I say that a species stands in a superior position, I mean that the course of the species through time is of more significance than that of any particular individual or group. A species is a greater entity than any individual or grouping of the species. Which brings me to the conclusion that a species deserves more consideration than individuals and groups.

As far as evolutionary biology goes, I'd say the same applies. Biologists may study individuals of a species, but in doing so they're almost always trying to learn about the species, because the species is more significant than the individual. This is just as valid when applied to our own species.
[/spoiler]

id like to parse this out for a moment, with yoyr permizsion. im ztuck in a service station for a bit and dont have a lot of time.

"species" is a taxonomic entity, not something that exists in nature except as a unit of convenience for systematists. in nature the functional unit is a breeding population, which will never correspond to any theoretical speciez and in many casez is not even easily diztinguished az being part of it.

therez nothing of "greater" significance about speciez when compRed to individualz, any more than a family or an order is of greater significance in any way than a species. at least that i know about. all are artificial categories that nature doesnt recognize. so im not sure what consideration a speciez deserves as a function of something.

biologists study organizmz , and group them into species as a means of conveniently lumping what theyre talking about. there are various different definitionz of speciez, and not all organizmz match up into them neatly. one definition specifiez succezzful interbreeding of members, and so vannot be used for azexual or fossil organizmz. others specify only gross  morphology, and ignore significant differences that separate subspeciez or cladez within the "speciez."

i once asked an ichthyologist what a speciez waz in her field, and she replied,

a speciez iz whatever a competent specialist in the field zayz it is.

at any rate, biologists typically study breeding populationz rather than species, unlezz theyre taxonomistz, as i was. what is significant about animalz to an evokutionary ecologist or a palaeontologist typically is a quite coarser grain than "species" can encompass.

How to proceed then? Eschew the word species in this discussion because I'm not qualified to talk about it, and anyway the word doesn't mean what you believe I think it means.  :lol:

Homo sapiens is a name for a population of animals that share a very specific genetic heritage. That population exists "in nature."

Do you believe an individual member of a population of animals is of equal significance to the population as a whole, and should receive equal consideration? If so, why not just say that?
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: billy rubin on February 14, 2020, 11:31:43 PM
Quote from: Recusant on February 14, 2020, 03:50:38 AM
If an animal is capable of expressing a personality, to me that indicates something that can legitimately be called a mind. I don't know if all animals with that capability qualify as a person in the same way that human beings do, but I'm inclined to think that the most intelligent of them do. Take Koko the gorilla.

i think that definiton is a practical one, but the weakness is still the use of a human being as the measure. if the animal is different from us, it may still have the necessary cognition to behave in its own world with great complexity, sophistication, and success, using its brain, but it will never have a personality detectable to us. any definition of mind that requires humans as a baseline will never be able to examine cognition in other species, no matter how sophisticated. i would suggest that a miniature human being in a colony of ants would be regarded as a mindless animal too, by the ants.

i never met koko, but i worked for a while in the lab where washoe (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washoe_(chimpanzee))lived. she was generally not a nice chimp. i did work with nim (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nim_Chimpsky), as a therapy human. he tore up my motorcycle helmet.

Quote
Your examination of "particular moralities" strikes me as a diversion. Regardless of which human culture you care to mention, you will find a moral code. Its particularities and the mythology associated with it don't change that. It's part of how we operate as a species. We're discussing the concept of morality here, not any particular moral codes, as I understand it. You seem to agree that human morality is an intrinsic, evolved component of the existence of the species since you state that it comes from natural selection and making shit up.

I agree with you in thinking myths are created to illustrate a moral code. To put some furniture in the room, so to speak. The room (a moral code) is always there though. Individuals operate using their own versions, sometimes lacking any focus at all except self-gratification, but it seems apparent that moral conception is integral to our species.

there are morals that are instinctive, and there are morals that are not. the difference i'm pointing out is th eone between instinctive moral codes-- care for your offpring, be faithful to your mate-- versus all the various others:

Lev_11:10  And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you:

Deu_7:26  Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thine house, lest thou be a cursed thing like it: but thou shalt utterly detest it, and thou shalt utterly abhor it; for it is a cursed thing.

Deu_17:1  Thou shalt not sacrifice unto the LORD thy God any bullock, or sheep, wherein is blemish, or any evilfavouredness: for that is an abomination unto the LORD thy God.

Deu_22:5  The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.


. . . and so on. none of the moral codes like ^^^these are evolutionary. they are strictly created, for various reasons. so morality goes quite a bit farther in human societies than evolution can take it. something else is going on in addition to it, which is where making shit up and aesthetics/emotions come in.

i don't distinguish between moral codes at a species level and particular moral codes than an individual might develop as being different in kind. species-level codes require evolution to develop, but humans modify evolutionary codes all the time, even as individuals. adolph hitler modified german moral codes to match his particular view with great success. had he won the war, his morality would now be normative for our species.

Quote
I'm going to loop back--

We also know that the influence of instinct in humans is considerably decreased in comparison to the overwhelming majority of species. In our species intellect has largely taken the place of instinct, though of course we haven't left it behind entirely. To govern interactions within our species, we've evolved the capacity to invent and use moral codes. So, moral codes have to a considerable extent replaced instinct in determining how members of our species interact. They serve the same purpose for us that instinct does in other animals, that purpose being enhancing the chances of survival of the species. Analyzing Homo sapiens from a dispassionate perspective which doesn't give our species a "special" place (a mythical position as a god's children) seems to lead inevitably to this conclusion.

evolution (at least natural selection) doesn't give two cents about the survival of the species. the species isn't even visible as a unit of natural selection. evolution cares only about diverse individuals within breeding populations, which are the real subsets of any theoretical species, and if a non-reversible characteristic has a positive selection coefficient in the short term but leads to inevitable species extinction in the long term, the species will go extinct.

second, i don't see where humans have left instinct behind at all. all of the generalized human behavior we can talk about is mostly just dressed-up instinct. we go war for resources, while a band of chimps drives rivals away from the waterhole. we love our children and provide for their education, while a dog feeds her pups and teaches them to hunt. we like to say that reason governs our behavior and instinct only controls lower animals, but in reality all that is happening is that we are decorating our instincts with pseudo-rational justifications. watch a couple of red deer battle it out for a mate in the woods, then  go to the pub and watch the chavs preen for the dollie birds. same thing.

Quote
I'd say that we can use this conclusion to evaluate a moral code from a fairly close approximation of an objective point of view. The measure of value being how well it serves its function. But again, just my opinion, bearing no more weight than any other person's. I don't think I have answers to life's deep questions, but I'm occasionally willing to discuss them.

i would suggest that the correct way to evaluate a moral code is to decide what you like. it doesn't go any deeper than that.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: billy rubin on February 14, 2020, 11:47:58 PM
Quote from: Recusant on February 14, 2020, 11:19:52 PM

How to proceed then? Eschew the word species in this discussion because I'm not qualified to talk about it, and anyway the word doesn't mean what you believe I think it means.  :lol:


lol

of course you're qualified.

this is the internet.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Recusant on February 15, 2020, 04:24:34 AM
Quote from: billy rubin on February 14, 2020, 11:31:43 PM
[spoiler]
Quote from: Recusant on February 14, 2020, 03:50:38 AM
If an animal is capable of expressing a personality, to me that indicates something that can legitimately be called a mind. I don't know if all animals with that capability qualify as a person in the same way that human beings do, but I'm inclined to think that the most intelligent of them do. Take Koko the gorilla.
[/spoiler]

i think that definiton is a practical one, but the weakness is still the use of a human being as the measure. if the animal is different from us, it may still have the necessary cognition to behave in its own world with great complexity, sophistication, and success, using its brain, but it will never have a personality detectable to us. any definition of mind that requires humans as a baseline will never be able to examine cognition in other species, no matter how sophisticated. i would suggest that a miniature human being in a colony of ants would be regarded as a mindless animal too, by the ants.

We know that some animals exhibit behavior that can be understood as evidence of a mind. We also know that some do not exhibit anything like it. Moreover, they do not have the neural capacity that would support the components of a mind. We're not completely in the dark here, and presenting a fantastical hypothetical (ants thinking about whether another animal has a mind) carries no weight at all. I'm not buying something that smells of panpsychism.

Quote from: billy rubin on February 14, 2020, 11:31:43 PMthere are morals that are instinctive, and there are morals that are not. the difference i'm pointing out is th eone between instinctive moral codes-- care for your offpring, be faithful to your mate-- versus all the various others:

[spoiler]Lev_11:10  And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you:

Deu_7:26  Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thine house, lest thou be a cursed thing like it: but thou shalt utterly detest it, and thou shalt utterly abhor it; for it is a cursed thing.

Deu_17:1  Thou shalt not sacrifice unto the LORD thy God any bullock, or sheep, wherein is blemish, or any evilfavouredness: for that is an abomination unto the LORD thy God.

Deu_22:5  The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.
[/spoiler]

. . . and so on. none of the moral codes like ^^^these are evolutionary. they are strictly created, for various reasons. so morality goes quite a bit farther in human societies than evolution can take it. something else is going on in addition to it, which is where making shit up and aesthetics/emotions come in.

First, a when I say "moral code" I'm referring (https://psychologydictionary.org/moral-code/) to "a set of rules or a code of conduct which governs how an individual should act within a community or group." Individual clauses are not "moral codes" in my understanding. Second, I'd say that while human morality is to some extent inspired and driven by our social instincts, it's created by people, and mostly consciously so. We frame our lives, from basic things like taking care of our children to arcane things like not wearing a mix of cotton and linen, in terms of morality. We think about moral questions, even about basic ones, while an animal like an ant that is driven entirely by instinct does not.

Quote from: billy rubin on February 14, 2020, 11:31:43 PMi don't distinguish between moral codes at a species level and particular moral codes than an individual might develop as being different in kind. species-level codes require evolution to develop, but humans modify evolutionary codes all the time, even as individuals. adolph hitler modified german moral codes to match his particular view with great success. had he won the war, his morality would now be normative for our species.

It sounds to me that when you talk about "species-level" morality, you're using the term in the same way that you so kindly corrected me on. Am I hearing it incorrectly?

Unless Hitler managed to kill outright any appreciable opposition to his regime in the world (doing a lot more than winning WWII, in other words) his dysfunctional morality would never become "normative" for human beings.

Quote from: billy rubin on February 14, 2020, 11:31:43 PM[spoiler]
Quote
I'm going to loop back--

We also know that the influence of instinct in humans is considerably decreased in comparison to the overwhelming majority of species. In our species intellect has largely taken the place of instinct, though of course we haven't left it behind entirely. To govern interactions within our species, we've evolved the capacity to invent and use moral codes. So, moral codes have to a considerable extent replaced instinct in determining how members of our species interact. They serve the same purpose for us that instinct does in other animals, that purpose being enhancing the chances of survival of the species. Analyzing Homo sapiens from a dispassionate perspective which doesn't give our species a "special" place (a mythical position as a god's children) seems to lead inevitably to this conclusion.
[/spoiler]

evolution (at least natural selection) doesn't give two cents about the survival of the species. the species isn't even visible as a unit of natural selection. evolution cares only about diverse individuals within breeding populations, which are the real subsets of any theoretical species, and if a non-reversible characteristic has a positive selection coefficient in the short term but leads to inevitable species extinction in the long term, the species will go extinct.

You're very careful about how I use a word like species, but then you talk about evolution caring or not caring. We both know that it does nothing of the sort. I had no trouble understanding what you were describing though.  While I enjoyed your lesson, I think you understood what I meant when I used the word "species." I think it's worthwhile to agree on definitions where possible, to aid in communicating clearly, and it definitely helps to ask for definitions when there appears to be a failure in communicating.

Is the American Museum of Natural History incorrect when they say (https://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/darwin/evolution-today/how-does-natural-selection-work) that "Natural selection is a simple mechanism that causes populations of living things to change over time"? They don't mention natural selection having anything to do with "diverse individuals." Am I incorrect to understand natural selection as an evolutionary driver that affects populations?

In any event, you haven't really addressed my point. Do you accept the statement that instinct serves a function in most animals which may be accurately described as helping ensure the survival of a breeding population? If not, on what basis do you deny its accuracy?

Quote from: billy rubin on February 14, 2020, 11:31:43 PMsecond, i don't see where humans have left instinct behind at all. all of the generalized human behavior we can talk about is mostly just dressed-up instinct. we go war for resources, while a band of chimps drives rivals away from the waterhole. we love our children and provide for their education, while a dog feeds her pups and teaches them to hunt. we like to say that reason governs our behavior and instinct only controls lower animals, but in reality all that is happening is that we are decorating our instincts with pseudo-rational justifications. watch a couple of red deer battle it out for a mate in the woods, then  go to the pub and watch the chavs preen for the dollie birds. same thing.

I actually said that the influence of instinct in humans is considerably decreased in comparison to the overwhelming majority of species breeding populations of other types of organisms. I believe that is correct. The behavior of most breeding populations of animals is determined entirely by instinct.  Human beings, while definitely being influenced by instinct, regularly act in ways that cannot reasonably be considered instinctual. I'd go so far as to say that most of what the average human being does each day has nothing to do with instinct. Driving a car, riding an elevator, typing on a keyboard, chopping wood with an ax, watching a theater performance, none of these things are instinctual. There's a lot more going on than "pseudo-rational justifications" for instinctual behavior.

Quote from: billy rubin on February 14, 2020, 11:31:43 PMi would suggest that the correct way to evaluate a moral code is to decide what you like. it doesn't go any deeper than that.

I didn't expect you to change your opinion. I appreciate the opportunity to discuss the topic.

Quote from: billy rubin on February 14, 2020, 11:47:58 PM
lol

of course you're qualified.

this is the internet.

I'll repeat the question. Do you believe an individual member of a population of animals is of equal significance to the population as a whole, and should receive equal consideration? If so, why not just say that?
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: billy rubin on February 15, 2020, 07:16:26 PM
hi recusant

Quote from: Recusant on February 15, 2020, 04:24:34 AM

We know that some animals exhibit behavior that can be understood as evidence of a mind.

^^that says it all right there. a "mind" isn't a presence/absence faculty-- i've been saying all along that the idea of mind is much more complex than a dictionary defintion can handle, and that other organisms have something that we can call a mind in proportion to their neural complexity. you're reluctant to share the term "mind" with non-humans, which is okay. so i've switched to "animal cognition," which says as much as i think is necessary.

Quote
. . . Second, I'd say that while human morality is to some extent inspired and driven by our social instincts, it's created by people, and mostly consciously so. We frame our lives, from basic things like taking care of our children to arcane things like not wearing a mix of cotton and linen, in terms of morality. We think about moral questions, even about basic ones, while an animal like an ant that is driven entirely by instinct does not.

i think we use our big brains to decorate our animal instincts and call them morals, for the most part. taking care of our children is our lizard brain, not our cerebrum. not mixing wool and linen, or making marks on our bodies, or avoiding the houses of the sodomites in jerusalem are just local cultural roccocco slathered onto a fundamental animal protocol that we follow fairly blindly.

and i'll continue to take issue with the assertion that ants are "entirely driven by instinct." behavioral studies show that that is clearly not the case. here are the just the first search results from google scholar on the string "learning in ants," that show that simple instinct is insufficient to explain ant behavior:

https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/abs/10.1098/rspb.2007.0138 (https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/abs/10.1098/rspb.2007.0138)
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-3032.1987.tb00756.x (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-3032.1987.tb00756.x)
http://learnmem.cshlp.org/content/20/8/417.short (http://learnmem.cshlp.org/content/20/8/417.short)
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0096300307010971 (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0096300307010971)

we as humans, do think about moral questions. but nobody knows what an ant is thinking, and to say that it doesn't think is a species-centric assertion, not an observation. in my opinion, ants use a much less complex process of cognition to manipulate internal and external neural input in much simpler ways. in humans we call a more complex form of that same process "thinking." i don't care what we call it in ants, so long as we are aware that it exists. i don't think they're devising philosophy,but neither are they simple instinct machines.

Quote
It sounds to me that when you talk about "species-level" morality, you're using the term in the same way that you so kindly corrected me on. Am I hearing it incorrectly?

nope, you are correct. "species" is a complex concept, and you have to use the correct version for any discussion. i'd be delighted to open a whole new thread on what people mean by biological "kinds," if you're interested. technically, there is generally one and only one individual (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holotype) that everybody agrees belongs to any particular "species," and that one individual is a dead specimen in a museum tray or glass jar somewhere.

Quote
We also know that the influence of instinct in humans is considerably decreased in comparison to the overwhelming majority of species.

no. i see no evidence of that. what instincts are we suppressing?

Quote
In our species intellect has largely taken the place of instinct, though of course we haven't left it behind entirely.

no, for the same reason.

QuoteTo govern interactions within our species, we've evolved the capacity to invent and use moral codes. So, moral codes have to a considerable extent replaced instinct in determining how members of our species interact.

no, again.

QuoteThey serve the same purpose for us that instinct does in other animals, that purpose being enhancing the chances of survival of the species.

no. once again, "survival of the species" is not a drive in the natural world. it's an important distinction because there are forces of selection that operate at a higher level than that of the individual, but "species" is still beyond them.  a typical "species" consists of a vast archipelago of genetically isolated breeding populations that can potentially interbreed, but may never do so. they have no effect on each other, and natural forces treat them independently--unless they interbreed. natural selection acts only to increase representation of particular genes in subsequent generations, in order to make more babies that carry those genes. that's all it is. the unit is the individual, and the effects are seen in the breeding population, not the species.  selection acts only to make a particular gene more common in the breeding population.

it's certainly possible that "species" and "breeding population" can be the same group of individuals, but it generally isn't. thinking about the evolution of populations went through a major shift in  theory starting with ernst mayer in the 1950s, who first proposed that evolution took place in small isolated populations of a species, which then became the ancestors of all subsequent members. today we call it "punctuated equilibrium."  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punctuated_equilibrium)

QuoteAnalyzing Homo sapiens from a dispassionate perspective which doesn't give our species a "special" place (a mythical position as a god's children) seems to lead inevitably to this conclusion.

no. while denying it, it appears to me that you are continuing to elevate Homo sapiens to a special position in the natural world, one where natural drives such as instinct are not in force. i don't see it, recusant. we're animals, with big brains. we're not very different from animals with smaller brains, except in our own fancy.

Quote
Is the American Museum of Natural History incorrect when they say (https://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/darwin/evolution-today/how-does-natural-selection-work) that "Natural selection is a simple mechanism that causes populations of living things to change over time"? They don't mention natural selection having anything to do with "diverse individuals." Am I incorrect to understand natural selection as an evolutionary driver that affects populations?

no, they were exactly right. but here is the whole defintion, from the previous paragraph, which includes the requirement that diverse individuals be present:

Those individual organisms who happen to be best suited to an environment survive and reproduce most successfully, producing many similarly well-adapted descendants. After numerous such breeding cycles, the better-adapted dominate.

natural selection certinly is an evolutionary driver, working on individuals that show diversity, and resulting in changes within breeding populations.

Quote
In any event, you haven't really addressed my point. Do you accept the statement that instinct serves a function in most animals which may be accurately described as helping ensure the survival of a breeding population? If not, on what basis do you deny its accuracy?

it helps to ensure the survival of individuals, and breeding populations containing these individuals survive better as a result. species survive better to the extent that they are interconnected as breeding populations.

Quote
I actually said that the influence of instinct in humans is considerably decreased in comparison to the overwhelming majority of species breeding populations of other types of organisms. I believe that is correct.

i disagree. i know of no evidence for that. i like chicks with big knockers. that is not an intellectual decision.

QuoteThe behavior of most breeding populations of animals is determined entirely by instinct.  Human beings, while definitely being influenced by instinct, regularly act in ways that cannot reasonably be considered instinctual. I'd go so far as to say that most of what the average human being does each day has nothing to do with instinct. Driving a car, riding an elevator, typing on a keyboard, chopping wood with an ax, watching a theater performance, none of these things are instinctual. There's a lot more going on than "pseudo-rational justifications" for instinctual behavior.

i think the behaviour of most breeding populations is a mixture of instinct and cognition. humans drive a car, and a snail crawls across a leaf. neither act is specifically instinctual, but both organisms have it within their behavioural repertoire. humans perform specific behaviours in order to satisfy instinctual drives, and so do snails. a human decorates the nursery. why? to satisfy an instinctual drive to provide for the offspring. a snail deposits eggs in a small protected hole in the earth to satisfy the same type of drive. a human strikes out at a robber intent on taking his wallet. why? for the same reason that two ants struggle over a piece of food on the sand. just because we apply our big brains to our instincts doesn't mean we're not acting instincively. what's more rational about world war 2 than two ant colonies fighting over the remains of a dead grasshopper?

and sure, we as humans do things that aren't instinctive, like write a symphony. that's because we have big brains. but howler monkeys sing to each other in the treetops, and there are cultural aspects (https://www.nature.com/articles/srep13400) that imply creativity in ways that parallel humans. maybe creativity will be the next new way to try to separate humans from animals, now that tool-using, tool-making, and using-tools-to-make-tools have all gone by the wayside.

Quote
I'll repeat the question. Do you believe an individual member of a population of animals is of equal significance to the population as a whole, and should receive equal consideration? If so, why not just say that?

"equal significance? equal consideration?" you're using terms without defining them again. "significant" meaning what, how, and to whom? same for "consideration." what is the system of values that i should  use to answer your question?

two animals weigh twice as much as one animal. if you think weight is significant, then you have your answer. one animal possesses one genotype, and a species possesses a genepool. if a genotype is worth one dollar, and a genepool is worth three dollars, then a gene pool deserves more consideration than a genotype. i'm not dodging your question. you'e not defining your terms, and so your questions can't be answered.

here is my question.

in what way is any organism "significant?" what is the relationship you cite that provides a measure of "significance" that can value one individual less than two, or one individual less than all members of a given population, or less than all members of a given species?

why do you think a species is important in the first place, in order for there to be any reason to assign a value at all?

ill happily give you a value if you will tell me what coin it is we re spending.

by the way, thank you for this discussion. i appreciate the opportunity to clarify things like this in my own mind, and challenging discussions are useful for helping me understand when things i believe are true, and when i'm just talking rot

btw, i think our posts may have crossed while editing. feel free to ignore anything i've written that doesn't apply to your final thoughts.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: billy rubin on February 15, 2020, 09:20:15 PM
tldr:

-- i think all animals with enough of a nervous system might have cognitive function. in humans we call it a "mind," and what it does is called "thinking." to the extent that we are willing to recognize similar functions in other organisms, they have minds and can think too. the difference is in complexity.

-- basic morals exist in human beings as decorated instincts which can be acted on by natural selection. we like to think of ourselves as higher in some way than lower animals, and so when we do the same things they do, we assign more pretentious descriptions.

-- humans have a more complex culture than other animals, and so we also have developed cultural behaviours that we lump in with our biologically-derived morals, without noticing the difference.

-- there is no biological mechanism that recognizes or acts on plants or animals at the level of the species. humans lump populations of breeding individuals into artificial groups that we call species, but nature is blind to that taxon except in rare instances.

-- there is nothing in the natural world that recognizes or acts on living organisms in any way that can be described as "the good of the species." the effects of natural selection and of the other types of evolution reinforce only greater representation of a particular characteristic in subsequent generations.

-- "significance" and "consideration" imply human judgments that nature does not make.


by the way, this conversation has ranged pretty widely and is pretty diffuse. perhapz we might focus on one or two of the issuse we ve touched on and return to the others at another time? i m easy, but i m also pretty boring, i think.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Inertialmass on February 16, 2020, 10:15:42 AM
Quote from: Magdalena on January 31, 2020, 07:18:47 PM
Quote from: TallRed on January 31, 2020, 04:52:34 PM
Quote from: billy rubin on January 31, 2020, 04:03:04 PM
ive been an atheist/agnostic most all of my life.

Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

billy rubin, why is your friend laughing so hard at your comment? Just curious.


Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

I just ran across this exchange.  Did Kev -- "billy rubin" -- ever explain to you Magdalena why his claim to being atheist/agnostic, at this Forum, is so funny?


Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Magdalena on February 16, 2020, 06:15:47 PM
Quote from: Inertialmass on February 16, 2020, 10:15:42 AM
Quote from: Magdalena on January 31, 2020, 07:18:47 PM
Quote from: TallRed on January 31, 2020, 04:52:34 PM
Quote from: billy rubin on January 31, 2020, 04:03:04 PM
ive been an atheist/agnostic most all of my life.

Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

billy rubin, why is your friend laughing so hard at your comment? Just curious.


Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

I just ran across this exchange.  Did Kev -- "billy rubin" -- ever explain to you Magdalena why his claim to being atheist/agnostic, at this Forum, is so funny?

Hi Inertialmass, yes,
billy rubin explained everything to me via PM.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Davin on February 17, 2020, 05:13:25 PM
Quote from: billy rubin on February 15, 2020, 07:16:26 PM
"equal significance? equal consideration?" you're using terms without defining them again. "significant" meaning what, how, and to whom? same for "consideration." what is the system of values that i should  use to answer your question?
And for that matter, define what you mean when you use "answer" or "question". You use "defining" what does that mean? What do you mean by "system?" And while you're at it, define what "values" means. And if it's not too much trouble, what do you mean by "terms?"

;D
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: TallRed on February 17, 2020, 10:01:36 PM
Quote from: Davin on February 17, 2020, 05:13:25 PM
Quote from: billy rubin on February 15, 2020, 07:16:26 PM
"equal significance? equal consideration?" you're using terms without defining them again. "significant" meaning what, how, and to whom? same for "consideration." what is the system of values that i should  use to answer your question?
And for that matter, define what you mean when you use "answer" or "question". You use "defining" what does that mean? What do you mean by "system?" And while you're at it, define what "values" means. And if it's not too much trouble, what do you mean by "terms?"

;D
Worth the price of admission!
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Bluenose on February 17, 2020, 11:33:28 PM
Here's and idea:  Instead of creating our own idiosyncratic definitions of words, why don't we agree on using the dictionary definitions?
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: xSilverPhinx on February 18, 2020, 01:50:06 AM
Quote from: Bluenose on February 17, 2020, 11:33:28 PM
Here's and idea:  Instead of creating our own idiosyncratic definitions of words, why don't we agree on using the dictionary definitions?

I think that's an excellent idea! Keeps those pesky goalposts from moving all the time. :grin:
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Recusant on February 18, 2020, 03:06:18 AM
Quote from: billy rubin on February 15, 2020, 07:16:26 PMyou're reluctant to share the term "mind" with non-humans, which is okay.

That is an inaccurate description of my position.


Quote from: billy rubin on February 15, 2020, 07:16:26 PM
Quote from: Recusant on February 15, 2020, 04:24:34 AM[spoiler]I'd say that while human morality is to some extent inspired and driven by our social instincts, it's created by people, and mostly consciously so. We frame our lives, from basic things like taking care of our children to arcane things like not wearing a mix of cotton and linen, in terms of morality. We think about moral questions, even about basic ones, while an animal like an ant that is driven entirely by instinct does not.[/spoiler]

i think we use our big brains to decorate our animal instincts and call them morals, for the most part. taking care of our children is our lizard brain, not our cerebrum. not mixing wool and linen, or making marks on our bodies, or avoiding the houses of the sodomites in jerusalem are just local cultural roccocco slathered onto a fundamental animal protocol that we follow fairly blindly.

and i'll continue to take issue with the assertion that ants are "entirely driven by instinct." behavioral studies show that that is clearly not the case. here are the just the first search results from google scholar on the string "learning in ants," that show that simple instinct is insufficient to explain ant behavior:

https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/abs/10.1098/rspb.2007.0138 (https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/abs/10.1098/rspb.2007.0138)
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-3032.1987.tb00756.x (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-3032.1987.tb00756.x)
http://learnmem.cshlp.org/content/20/8/417.short (http://learnmem.cshlp.org/content/20/8/417.short)
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0096300307010971 (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0096300307010971)

The first link shows ants rejecting a new nest site and adopting another of equal quality. I'd say that their continued rejection of the first nest site was based on an instinctive protocol. Because the two nest sites were of equal quality, it certainly appears that there was no thought behind their adoption of one over the other.

The second link doesn't demonstrate thought on the part of the ants either. It does demonstrate an instinctive sense of time and an ability to determine that there was no longer food available at a location and time they had previously found it. Again, nothing that cannot be explained by instinct.

The third demonstrates learned response to a stimulus, and a different response to stimulus by ants with different tasks within the colony. The ability to learn very basic things is not inconsistent with instinctive behavior, nor is a difference in response by different castes of ants.

The fourth, as I understand the abstract, shows that humans can stimulate learning behavior in ants making the ants more efficient in their allocations of resources. Again, not inconsistent with instinctive behavior on the part of the ants.

Quote from: billy rubin on February 15, 2020, 07:16:26 PMwe as humans, do think about moral questions. but nobody knows what an ant is thinking, and to say that it doesn't think is a species-centric assertion, not an observation. in my opinion, ants use a much less complex process of cognition to manipulate internal and external neural input in much simpler ways. in humans we call a more complex form of that same process "thinking." i don't care what we call it in ants, so long as we are aware that it exists. i don't think they're devising philosophy,but neither are they simple instinct machines.

The contrary claim that ants think in any way beyond following their instinctive protocols is not supported by the evidence you've presented. They are not machines, but neither do they demonstrate any ability to transcend instinct, or to act contrary to their instincts. Their behavior appears to be fully governed by instinct.

Quote from: billy rubin on February 15, 2020, 07:16:26 PM
Quote
We also know that the influence of instinct in humans is considerably decreased in comparison to the overwhelming majority of species.

no. i see no evidence of that. what instincts are we suppressing?

For one, most animals have an instinctive fear of fire. We seem to have been able to suppress that instinct fairly effectively. Rather than fear fire, we've learned to respect it and use it. Human children generally don't fear fire, but have to either learn or be taught to respect it. Chimpanzees appear to show a similar tendency (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091222105312.htm), which I think shows that with sufficient mental capacity, a species can act contrary to an instinct that formerly governed its behavior, and eventually lose the instinctive reaction entirely.

Quote from: billy rubin on February 15, 2020, 07:16:26 PMonce again, "survival of the species" is not a drive in the natural world. it's an important distinction because there are forces of selection that operate at a higher level than that of the individual, but "species" is still beyond them.  a typical "species" consists of a vast archipelago of genetically isolated breeding populations that can potentially interbreed, but may never do so. they have no effect on each other, and natural forces treat them independently--unless they interbreed. natural selection acts only to increase representation of particular genes in subsequent generations, in order to make more babies that carry those genes. that's all it is. the unit is the individual, and the effects are seen in the breeding population, not the species.  selection acts only to make a particular gene more common in the breeding population.

it's certainly possible that "species" and "breeding population" can be the same group of individuals, but it generally isn't. thinking about the evolution of populations went through a major shift in  theory starting with ernst mayer in the 1950s, who first proposed that evolution took place in small isolated populations of a species, which then became the ancestors of all subsequent members. today we call it "punctuated equilibrium."  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punctuated_equilibrium)

It depends on perspective. In the nihilist's view, the only things we can claim to know for certain are the thoughts and understandings in our own heads. Nothing that we believe we know is "really real." Going by this, if species exist only in our heads, then individuals exist in exactly the same way, and neither of them exist "in nature."

I don't think you're taking that position though. It seems to me you're claiming "in nature" as a stand-in for "in reality." The world exists, and we can to some extent understand it, however imperfectly. If so, then that is a position we both hold.

I agree instinct serves to enhance the survival of individual animals. Instinct thereby enhances the survival of species, however you choose to define the term. Species exist in nature, just as individuals exist. We observe the characteristics of species just as we do with individuals. I think you're tring to pull a half-nihilist, claiming that while individuals definitely do exist, species is a human concept and therefore species don't exist "in nature." The problem with that is, individual is just as much a human concept as species.

The perspective which sees a specific group of animals intertwined through heredity existing over multiple individuals' lifetimes is no more or less a true version of what occurs in nature than the perspective which sees individuals existing, unless one is claiming that only the most superficial and minimal perspective is correct.

Quote from: billy rubin on February 15, 2020, 07:16:26 PM
QuoteAnalyzing Homo sapiens from a dispassionate perspective which doesn't give our species a "special" place (a mythical position as a god's children) seems to lead inevitably to this conclusion.

no. while denying it, it appears to me that you are continuing to elevate Homo sapiens to a special position in the natural world, one where natural drives such as instinct are not in force. i don't see it, recusant. we're animals, with big brains. we're not very different from animals with smaller brains, except in our own fancy.

I have not made that claim. You made nearly the same assertion about my position in the very post to which you're replying, and I explained why that assertion was inaccurate.

Quote from: billy rubin on February 15, 2020, 07:16:26 PM
QuoteIs the American Museum of Natural History incorrect when they say (https://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/darwin/evolution-today/how-does-natural-selection-work) that "Natural selection is a simple mechanism that causes populations of living things to change over time"? They don't mention natural selection having anything to do with "diverse individuals." Am I incorrect to understand natural selection as an evolutionary driver that affects populations?

no, they were exactly right. but here is the whole defintion, from the previous paragraph, which includes the requirement that diverse individuals be present:

Those individual organisms who happen to be best suited to an environment survive and reproduce most successfully, producing many similarly well-adapted descendants. After numerous such breeding cycles, the better-adapted dominate.

natural selection certinly is an evolutionary driver, working on individuals that show diversity, and resulting in changes within breeding populations.

I think we're agreed that natural selection is a phenomenon which affects individuals, breeding populations, and species. I would say that it doesn't "care" about individuals any more or less than it cares about breeding populations or species.

Quote from: billy rubin on February 15, 2020, 07:16:26 PM
QuoteIn any event, you haven't really addressed my point. Do you accept the statement that instinct serves a function in most animals which may be accurately described as helping ensure the survival of a breeding population? If not, on what basis do you deny its accuracy?

it helps to ensure the survival of individuals, and breeding populations containing these individuals survive better as a result. species survive better to the extent that they are interconnected as breeding populations.

Are you claiming that the survival of a species is not enhanced by the survival of the individuals and breeding populations which comprise the species?

Quote from: billy rubin on February 15, 2020, 07:16:26 PM
Quote[spoiler] The behavior of most breeding populations of animals is determined entirely by instinct.  Human beings, while definitely being influenced by instinct, regularly act in ways that cannot reasonably be considered instinctual. I'd go so far as to say that most of what the average human being does each day has nothing to do with instinct. Driving a car, riding an elevator, typing on a keyboard, chopping wood with an ax, watching a theater performance, none of these things are instinctual. There's a lot more going on than "pseudo-rational justifications" for instinctual behavior.[/spoiler]

i think the behaviour of most breeding populations is a mixture of instinct and cognition. humans drive a car, and a snail crawls across a leaf. neither act is specifically instinctual, but both organisms have it within their behavioural repertoire. humans perform specific behaviours in order to satisfy instinctual drives, and so do snails. a human decorates the nursery. why? to satisfy an instinctual drive to provide for the offspring. a snail deposits eggs in a small protected hole in the earth to satisfy the same type of drive. a human strikes out at a robber intent on taking his wallet. why? for the same reason that two ants struggle over a piece of food on the sand. just because we apply our big brains to our instincts doesn't mean we're not acting instincively. what's more rational about world war 2 than two ant colonies fighting over the remains of a dead grasshopper?

and sure, we as humans do things that aren't instinctive, like write a symphony. that's because we have big brains. but howler monkeys sing to each other in the treetops, and there are cultural aspects (https://www.nature.com/articles/srep13400) that imply creativity in ways that parallel humans. maybe creativity will be the next new way to try to separate humans from animals, now that tool-using, tool-making, and using-tools-to-make-tools have all gone by the wayside.

Your reductive approach dismisses a wide range of behavior exhibited by human beings for which no instinctive basis can be discerned. Your example of a fairly closely related species exhibiting creativity shows that our mental capacity is a product of evolution, but does not demonstrate that our behavior is governed by instinct to the same extent that most other animals' behavior is.

I don't separate humans from other animals except in terms of degree. The evidence shows that we have at least one capacity to a greater degree than those of other animals, just as other animals have capacities beyond our own. This is the invention of ways to achieve things that other animals are capable of and beyond, by the use of our intellect. We can move about rapidly (even more rapidly than the fastest of the other animals). We can fly (even beyond our own atmosphere). We can perceive things beyond the normal range of our senses. I don't think we're the only animals that can invent things, but we clearly are able to invent things that none of the other animals can invent.

Quote from: billy rubin on February 15, 2020, 07:16:26 PM
QuoteI'll repeat the question. Do you believe an individual member of a population of animals is of equal significance to the population as a whole, and should receive equal consideration? If so, why not just say that?

"equal significance? equal consideration?" you're using terms without defining them again. "significant" meaning what, how, and to whom? same for "consideration." what is the system of values that i should  use to answer your question?

two animals weigh twice as much as one animal. if you think weight is significant, then you have your answer. one animal possesses one genotype, and a species possesses a genepool. if a genotype is worth one dollar, and a genepool is worth three dollars, then a gene pool deserves more consideration than a genotype. i'm not dodging your question. you'e not defining your terms, and so your questions can't be answered.

Significance is a concept used by our species to differentiate things. You may claim that because it's a human concept, it has no "real" existence. This seems another instance of the half-nihilist move. Either concepts exist or they don't. If they do exist, then we must be able to determine which concepts provide a useful perspective on our environment and which do not.

The concept of significance provides a useful perspective on our environment. Note that I said "useful" and not "fool-proof," or "valid." There may not be any unequivocally fool-proof or valid concepts, but I think it is unequivocally useful to be able to differentiate things by their significance. Their significance to ourselves and our species. There is no significance other than that which animals apply. That doesn't mean that there is no "real" significance, as if mere animal significance is unreal.

Again, we're humans, talking about human morality here. We are as real as anything in the universe, and our understanding (however faulty) is a real understanding of the universe. Our continued existence as a species is evidence of that. If our understanding had no basis in reality we'd be essentially a species that had gone insane and we'd have died off long ago. We will eventually die off, and perhaps we're an evolutionary dead end. That may happen because our understanding is insufficiently in accord with the world, but even if it does happen that way, it doesn't negate everything we've understood up till now.

I reject solipsism because I think it's nonsensical (and useless) to deny the reality of the world in which I live. As I understand it, the nihilist view goes beyond solipsism to claim that not even our own thoughts have any basis in reality. It's a philosophical dead end, even more lacking in utility than solipsism. We are human beings. It's useful for human beings to perceive significance in the world, and that's all the justification for the concept that I need. Nihilism isn't useful for anything except perhaps as a justification for suicide or rejecting the validity of all moral codes. I'm not interested in achieving either of those goals.

I already explained why I think that a species is more significant than an individual member of the species. A species exists as an entity composed of individuals. It's more significant in the same way that a cat is more significant than a cat hair. The cat is a more significant entity than any individual cat hair if for no other reason than the cat has a wider range of influence on the world.

Quote from: billy rubin on February 15, 2020, 07:16:26 PMin what way is any organism "significant?" what is the relationship you cite that provides a measure of "significance" that can value one individual less than two, or one individual less than all members of a given population, or less than all members of a given species?

why do you think a species is important in the first place, in order for there to be any reason to assign a value at all?

ill happily give you a value if you will tell me what coin it is we re spending.

I think it is impossible to reconcile the nihilist position with the concept of value, or that of significance. That being the case, I don't expect you to agree that there is any such thing as significance. But I reject nihilism.

Quote from: billy rubin on February 15, 2020, 09:20:15 PM"significance" and "consideration" imply human judgments that nature does not make.

"Nature" is itself a human concept--a judgment by humans that there is such a thing as nature. However, unless you're going with the claim that nature makes some judgments, just not human judgments, then there is no basis to differentiate between natural and human judgments. In my opinion, nature does not make judgments; there are only judgments made by animals, including humans.

Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Recusant on February 18, 2020, 03:33:28 AM
Quote from: Bluenose on February 17, 2020, 11:33:28 PM
Here's and idea:  Instead of creating our own idiosyncratic definitions of words, why don't we agree on using the dictionary definitions?

Because dictionary definitions, while useful as a starting point and anchor, do not always convey all the possible legitimate ways of understanding the meaning of a word. Dictionaries are authoritative only in that they describe how words are most commonly understood. Worthwhile discussion can arise in regard to differing understanding. 

For example, billy rubin and I agree that the dictionary definition of mind is too restrictive in its human centrism. We both think that other animals exhibit evidence of having minds. We diverge in that I include only animals that are fairly intelligent, while I think he would say that nearly all animals have minds.

I think that perhaps eventually dictionaries will acknowledge that animals other than humans have minds. Meanwhile, referring back to a point I made earlier, I am not going to say that since Koko the gorilla isn't a member of our species she didn't have a mind, merely because of the species-centric definition presently found in dictionaries.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Davin on February 18, 2020, 02:51:53 PM
Quote from: Recusant on February 18, 2020, 03:33:28 AM
Quote from: Bluenose on February 17, 2020, 11:33:28 PM
Here's and idea:  Instead of creating our own idiosyncratic definitions of words, why don't we agree on using the dictionary definitions?

Because dictionary definitions, while useful as a starting point and anchor, do not always convey all the possible legitimate ways of understanding the meaning of a word. Dictionaries are authoritative only in that they describe how words are most commonly understood. Worthwhile discussion can arise in regard to differing understanding. 

For example, billy rubin and I agree that the dictionary definition of mind is too restrictive in its human centrism. We both think that other animals exhibit evidence of having minds. We diverge in that I include only animals that are fairly intelligent, while I think he would say that nearly all animals have minds.

I think that perhaps eventually dictionaries will acknowledge that animals other than humans have minds. Meanwhile, referring back to a point I made earlier, I am not going to say that since Koko the gorilla isn't a member of our species she didn't have a mind, merely because of the species-centric definition presently found in dictionaries.
There is a point, and I think it's been crossed, where having someone define what they mean by a word/term ends up being more work for one side than the other. If we look at the discussion, bill rubin here has you jumping through a lot of hoops, and getting you to do a lot of extra work, only to ignore what you've said and continue to claim that you think a term means something you've clearly said doesn't mean that in your usage. That's why we have the suggestion in the forum guidelines of taking the most generous interpretation. I think you've been honoring that, and I like to honor it, but billy rubin has been doing the opposite.

True, there are problems with taking only the dictionary definitions, but those problems tend to go away with the principle of charity and a few quick corrections here and there. There are also problems with making discussion dictionaries, like what we've seen here where one side seems to be asking for clarification on usages that are already clear based on the context of the usages for anyone with a reading level above grade school. Now I don't think that billy rubin is that terrible at reading, I think that billy rubin does not like to have its ideas actually challenged and uses this "define this for me" as an avoidance tactic to temporarily dodge things that directly challenge their claims.

I think the first time you clarified what you meant by mind, was clear enough to understand that you did not mean only humans. And yet... they seem highly resistant to accepting what you say you mean. Then there's the claims about you saying things that you've never said. Ignoring and avoiding direct questions that could clarify things and reduce the amount of work you're doing with all these needless paragraphs of clarification. But if they did answer those direct questions, it would pin them down and they seem to like being unclear and love these muddy waters they've created. I mean there's a lot of stuff going on here where billy rubin is demonstrating that they are not arguing in good faith.

I've had many discussions with nihilists who have no issues with understanding and using common terms. Even value is not something that nihilists have no concept of, if anything, they only need to qualify it. It is possible to understand what another person means and still not agree with them. However, billy rubin seems to be taking the tact they don't have the faculties to even understand you, therefore what you say is meaningless. It's like you're either arguing with a black hole or a pigeon, neither results in a useful discussion after a point. You seem to like stretching your muscles with the basic challenges here, so there's at least that utility. I like that too from time to time, and it's also personally useful to me to roll out the concepts I've been working on and/or haven't had to pull out in a while. I never got past the basic point with billy rubin of merely agreeing to the definition of a common term because they buried their head in the sand.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: billy rubin on February 18, 2020, 03:31:03 PM
Quote from: Recusant on February 18, 2020, 03:33:28 AM
Quote from: Bluenose on February 17, 2020, 11:33:28 PM
Here's and idea:  Instead of creating our own idiosyncratic definitions of words, why don't we agree on using the dictionary definitions?

Because dictionary definitions, while useful as a starting point and anchor, do not always convey all the possible legitimate ways of understanding the meaning of a word. Dictionaries are authoritative only in that they describe how words are most commonly understood. Worthwhile discussion can arise in regard to differing understanding. 

For example, billy rubin and I agree that the dictionary definition of mind is too restrictive in its human centrism. We both think that other animals exhibit evidence of having minds. We diverge in that I include only animals that are fairly intelligent, while I think he would say that nearly all animals have minds.

lol

i'd agree with all that. i don't think "mind" is a very useful term.

Quote
I think that perhaps eventually dictionaries will acknowledge that animals other than humans have minds. Meanwhile, referring back to a point I made earlier, I am not going to say that since Koko the gorilla isn't a member of our species she didn't have a mind, merely because of the species-centric definition presently found in dictionaries.

the problem with dictionary definitions is that they are by definition casual and temprary in nature, and don't encompass the nuances of terms that specialists in a field take for granted. in a technical discussion, a general dictionary definition will immediately be left behind.

i used to collect dictionaries, back before i lost most of my books in a series of floods. i had dictionaries of biology, palaeontology, physical geology, sedimentology, ecology, taxonomy, archaic slang, current slang, and so on. the same words appeared in different dictionaries with different definitions, depending on the interests and levels of background knowledge of the perceived audience. dictionary definitions are useful starting points, as you say, but they don't go far.

i never met koko, by the way, but i once worked as a therapy human in the primate institute that housed washoe. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washoe_(chimpanzee)) washoe most definitiely had a mind, not a particularly cooperative one. she could be a real bitch, as a matter of fact, and i wouldn't go into the cage with her.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: billy rubin on February 18, 2020, 05:47:38 PM
hi recusant.

please forgive me if i am misunderstanding anything you have said here in this reply. i have difficutly in keeping more than a few thoughts in my head at any one time. my wife claims it was all the drugs i did when i was younger. maybe she's right.

anyway, here is a definition of instinct, pulled from wiki. it is subject to all the usual limitations of definitions:

QuoteInstinct or innate behavior is the inherent inclination of a living organism towards a particular complex behavior. The simplest example of an instinctive behavior is a fixed action pattern (FAP), in which a very short to medium length sequence of actions, without variation, are carried out in response to a corresponding clearly defined stimulus.

Any behavior is instinctive if it is performed without being based upon prior experience (that is, in the absence of learning), and is therefore an expression of innate biological factors. Sea turtles, newly hatched on a beach, will automatically move toward the ocean. A marsupial climbs into its mother's pouch upon being born. Honeybees communicate by dancing in the direction of a food source without formal instruction. Other examples include animal fighting, animal courtship behavior, internal escape functions, and the building of nests. Though an instinct is defined by its invariant innate characteristics, details of its performance can be changed by experience; for example, a dog can improve its fighting skills by practice.

the learning process that occurs in tandem running (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tandem_running) in ants does not fit this definition of instinct. it is not a fixed action pattern, it is not based on prior experience, and it is definitely based on the presence of learning. it is not an invariant innate characteristic that is improved by experience.

if tandem running in ants is going to be defined as instinctive, then i think that there is no behavior in any organism that cannot also be defined in the same way, using the suitable exceptions, and the term instinctive loses any useful meaning. i maintain that discovering this single exception to the statement that "ants are completely guided by instinct," falsifies the assertion. but quibbling over the definitions is not useful. what is important is what they do, which is to display cognition.

Quote
For one, most animals have an instinctive fear of fire. We seem to have been able to suppress that instinct fairly effectively. Rather than fear fire, we've learned to respect it and use it

i think that any dog that lies by the camp fire to stay warm has accomplished the same thing, so humans are no excption here.

QuoteI think you're tring to pull a half-nihilist, claiming that while individuals definitely do exist, species is a human concept and therefore species don't exist "in nature." The problem with that is, individual is just as much a human concept as species.

i don't see how nihilism is involved in this question. "definition" does not imply "value," which is only part of the concept of "meaning." i'm not asserting that.

but regarding species and individual, the "individual" does exist in the world and can be pointed to-- i can hold an individual in my hand.  "species" has no existence at the sme level. for example, the "species" of leopard frog absolutely is a human concept, one  that has changed in defintion repeatedly over time. there used to be a single "species" of leopard frog in north america, but currently there are fourteen. the individuals and their breeding populations have never changed. only their "species."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leopard_frog (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leopard_frog)

there are thousands of examples of individuals and of breeding populatins that at one time constituted "species" and at other times haven't. "species" is a fluid concept.

Quote

I think we're agreed that natural selection is a phenomenon which affects individuals, breeding populations, and species. I would say that it doesn't "care" about individuals any more or less than it cares about breeding populations or species.

i agree, so long as we avoid the word "species." natural selection is a mechanical process, like water flowing the quickest way downhill.

Quote
Are you claiming that the survival of a species is not enhanced by the survival of the individuals and breeding populations which comprise the species?

no, the "species" would cease to exist if the individuals and breeding populations used to define it cease to exist. but the survival of species is no more consequential than the survival of a genus, family, order, and class. species is a human-defined  taxonomic group which may be erased by a single publication in the scientific literature.

note that a nominal species can cease to exist through evolution even if there is no lack of survival of interbreeding populations.

loosely speaking,  a species is often synonymous with breeding population. i've already pointed out that in the real world, sometimes they are, and sometimes they aren't. we are no longer speaking loosely, and so the distinction arises.

Quote
I don't separate humans from other animals except in terms of degree. . . . I don't think we're the only animals that can invent things, but we clearly are able to invent things that none of the other animals can invent.

i agree completely.

Quote
Significance is a concept used by our species to differentiate things. You may claim that because it's a human concept, it has no "real" existence. This seems another instance of the half-nihilist move. Either concepts exist or they don't. If they do exist, then we must be able to determine which concepts provide a useful perspective on our environment and which do not.

i am merely pointing out that if you aren't going to define what you mean by "significance," and how it might be "useful," whatever i substitute might or might not be what you mean. the existence of a nominal species is not at all significant to the existence of a breeding population unless they are the same.

Quote
I already explained why I think that a species is more significant than an individual member of the species. A species exists as an entity composed of individuals. It's more significant in the same way that a cat is more significant than a cat hair. The cat is a more significant entity than any individual cat hair if for no other reason than the cat has a wider range of influence on the world.

you have NEVER explained it until now, you have just asserted it.

that's why i've asked for clarification. it finally appears that your definition of "significant" is "to have a wider range of influence on the world," specifically in terms of enumeration (individuals versus group) or composition (parts versus whole ). so a pile of rocks is more significant than a single rock, and a tree is more significant than a leaf. i would guess that a world war is more significant than a single death? that works so long as we aren't talking about the archduke ferdinand and his wife, where a single death caused a world war, and can be seen to have been equally "significant." but now that i understand what "significant" means, to you, i can discuss it without misinterpreting you. im still not sure how it applies to "zpeciez" though.

Quote
I think it is impossible to reconcile the nihilist position with the concept of value, or that of significance. That being the case, I don't expect you to agree that there is any such thing as significance. But I reject nihilism.

i agree on the insignificance of significance. i see value and significance as local concepts that don't have any meaning that transcends local usage. i see nihilism as the only unbiased view of the universe. but in conversation i can work with any defintion of value or significance that can be defined, but every conversation will likely have a different one.

Quote
"Nature" is itself a human concept--a judgment by humans that there is such a thing as nature. However, unless you're going with the claim that nature makes some judgments, just not human judgments, then there is no basis to differentiate between natural and human judgments. In my opinion, nature does not make judgments; there are only judgments made by animals, including humans.

i agree with that.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Bluenose on February 19, 2020, 12:25:06 PM
I'm tired of reading these endless meaningless diatribes, billy is now on my ignore list
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: billy rubin on February 19, 2020, 01:28:17 PM
Quote from: Bluenose on February 19, 2020, 12:25:06 PM
I'm tired of reading these endless meaningless diatribes, billy is now on my ignore list

well, ignoring me won t change the number of diatribes you read, scout.

perhaps you should consult a dictionary definition.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Davin on February 19, 2020, 07:09:45 PM
Looks like that was your last strike, billy rubin.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Recusant on February 20, 2020, 10:52:38 PM
Quote from: billy rubin on February 18, 2020, 05:47:38 PMhere is a definition of instinct, pulled from wiki. it is subject to all the usual limitations of definitions:

QuoteInstinct or innate behavior is the inherent inclination of a living organism towards a particular complex behavior. The simplest example of an instinctive behavior is a fixed action pattern (FAP), in which a very short to medium length sequence of actions, without variation, are carried out in response to a corresponding clearly defined stimulus.

Any behavior is instinctive if it is performed without being based upon prior experience (that is, in the absence of learning), and is therefore an expression of innate biological factors. Sea turtles, newly hatched on a beach, will automatically move toward the ocean. A marsupial climbs into its mother's pouch upon being born. Honeybees communicate by dancing in the direction of a food source without formal instruction. Other examples include animal fighting, animal courtship behavior, internal escape functions, and the building of nests. Though an instinct is defined by its invariant innate characteristics, details of its performance can be changed by experience; for example, a dog can improve its fighting skills by practice.

the learning process that occurs in tandem running (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tandem_running) in ants does not fit this definition of instinct. it is not a fixed action pattern, it is not based on prior experience, and it is definitely based on the presence of learning. it is not an invariant innate characteristic that is improved by experience.

The definition you cited states that honeybees instinctively dance to communicate directions to food sources. I honestly don't see anything about tandem running that differentiates it qualitatively from the honeybees' dance; it appears to me to be an equally instinctive behavior on the part of ants. The tandem running article clearly states that in Temnothorax albipennis (a species that appears repeatedly in the article references), all age groups, including young ants, engage in the activity. In other words, they don't have to be taught to engage in the process, though with experience they improve their performance. Just as with honeybees, there is teaching and learning going on, but the article doesn't present any evidence showing that the process is not instinctive.

Quote from: billy rubin on February 18, 2020, 05:47:38 PMif tandem running in ants is going to be defined as instinctive, then i think that there is no behavior in any organism that cannot also be defined in the same way, using the suitable exceptions, and the term instinctive loses any useful meaning. i maintain that discovering this single exception to the statement that "ants are completely guided by instinct," falsifies the assertion. but quibbling over the definitions is not useful. what is important is what they do, which is to display cognition.

What is it about tandem running that you believe distinguishes it from other teaching and learning behavior displayed by insects which is considered instinctive? It doesn't appear to me to be an exception.

Some species of birds build amazingly engineered nests. They weren't taught how to do it, but they do learn to improve their technique in successive years. The first sentence of the definition you cited is clear: "Instinct or innate behavior is the inherent inclination of a living organism towards a particular complex behavior." Perhaps you have some insight into this that I do not. I really do not understand why you think tandem running in insects is not instinctive.

As I understand it, instinctive behavior does not and could not eliminate volition. A bird builds a complex nest. Its choice regarding materials is guided by instinct, but the bird still must remember and/or seek out the locations of the materials. Though the bird's choice of materials will be guided by instinct, a locality will require a particular approach by the birds there. Birds of the same species in a locality with a different set of resources will adopt a different approach. In the end, both groups will build nests on the same basic plan. To me, this result shows that the nest-building is an instinctive activity. A bird that manages to live long enough to reproduce will build a nest. It didn't go to nest-building school in the mean-time.

In the same way, certain species of ants exhibit tandem running. They learn how to do it more effectively with experience, but the behavior itself is not taught to them. Given instinctive teaching/learning behavior in other insects, it's reasonable to say that the ants are born with an inherent inclination to do tandem running.

Quote from: billy rubin on February 18, 2020, 05:47:38 PM
QuoteFor one, most animals have an instinctive fear of fire. We seem to have been able to suppress that instinct fairly effectively. Rather than fear fire, we've learned to respect it and use it

i think that any dog that lies by the camp fire to stay warm has accomplished the same thing, so humans are no excption here.

In my opinion, dogs are a special case. When I was a child, I did some experimentation with the dogs in the kennel (Alaskan malamutes and a few Siberians). Though most of them had spent some time in the house, they were not by any means house dogs, and would have had practically no experience of fire. Talking cheerfully to the dogs, I held a stick with a definite ember, perhaps half an inch in diameter, emitting a fair quantity of smoke, at the door of a dog's run. (I couldn't manage to keep a flame on the stick, but didn't think it would matter that much to the results.) The dogs were not confined to proximity with the ember--they could easily retreat to the back of the run. None of them did. At least none of the ones I tested did. They all seemed cautiously interested and not fearful. Even when the stick was inserted through the wire mesh of the door, the dogs did not retreat.

I didn't manage to get a full data set, though. My father saw me in the midst of the procedure, and I paid the price. He burned the back of my hand with my scientific equipment, then gave me a good licking.  :lol: Whatever, I was genuinely curious about how dogs actually reacted to fire in a novel situation (a curious boy coming to their house holding a stick with a glowing, smoking ember), and was doing them no harm. I think that there is no question that the millennia they've spent in our company have modified their relation to the instincts they inherited from the wolves.

Quote from: billy rubin on February 18, 2020, 05:47:38 PM
QuoteI think you're tring to pull a half-nihilist, claiming that while individuals definitely do exist, species is a human concept and therefore species don't exist "in nature." The problem with that is, individual is just as much a human concept as species.

i don't see how nihilism is involved in this question.

"definition" does not imply "value," which is only part of the concept of "meaning." i'm not asserting that.

but regarding species and individual, the "individual" does exist in the world and can be pointed to-- i can hold an individual in my hand.  "species" has no existence at the sme level. for example, the "species" of leopard frog absolutely is a human concept, one  that has changed in defintion repeatedly over time. there used to be a single "species" of leopard frog in north america, but currently there are fourteen. the individuals and their breeding populations have never changed. only their "species."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leopard_frog (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leopard_frog)

there are thousands of examples of individuals and of breeding populatins that at one time constituted "species" and at other times haven't. "species" is a fluid concept.

Yes, I see that we haven't agreed on a definition of nihilism yet.  :sidesmile:

QuoteNihilism is the belief that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated.

[source (https://www.iep.utm.edu/nihilism/)]

Specifically, I was referring to epistemological nihilism (https://philosophyterms.com/nihilism/): "The philosophy that we cannot know anything for sure.  Also known as radical skepticism."

You're willing to propose that the existence of individuals is a sound concept, given the evidence, yet appear unwilling to accept that the concept of the existence of species is equally sound, given the evidence. The epistomological nihilst would tell us that neither concept is sound. Regardless of evidence, no human concepts regarding the universe have any real validity. We observe the evidence for the existence of species (by any modern scientific definition you care to adopt for the moment), just as we observe the evidence for the existence of individuals. The fluidity of the concept does not detract from its usefulness. Nor does its fluidity detract from its validity. Both concepts are human constructs, based on evidence observed by humans. In the half-nihilist view, we can know for sure that individuals exist, but we can't know for sure that species exist. In the epistomological nihilist view, all explanations differentiating the concept of species from that of individual run aground.

Quote from: billy rubin on February 18, 2020, 05:47:38 PM
QuoteSignificance is a concept used by our species to differentiate things. You may claim that because it's a human concept, it has no "real" existence. This seems another instance of the half-nihilist move. Either concepts exist or they don't. If they do exist, then we must be able to determine which concepts provide a useful perspective on our environment and which do not.

i am merely pointing out that if you aren't going to define what you mean by "significance," and how it might be "useful," whatever i substitute might or might not be what you mean. the existence of a nominal species is not at all significant to the existence of a breeding population unless they are the same.

QuoteI already explained why I think that a species is more significant than an individual member of the species. A species exists as an entity composed of individuals. It's more significant in the same way that a cat is more significant than a cat hair. The cat is a more significant entity than any individual cat hair if for no other reason than the cat has a wider range of influence on the world.

you have NEVER explained it until now, you have just asserted it.

Hmm, you must have misunderstood what I was doing when I wrote (http://www.happyatheistforum.com/forum/index.php?topic=16439.msg396752#msg396752) the following:

QuoteConsidering the question of existence, I think that we exist most significantly as a species, just as any other organism does. By that I mean, individual members of the species are evanescent manifestations. They can affect the course of the species' existence, but the existence of the species as a whole doesn't depend on any individual. Rather, the individual's existence depends on that of the species.

Quote from: billy rubin on February 18, 2020, 05:47:38 PMthat's why i've asked for clarification. it finally appears that your definition of "significant" is "to have a wider range of influence on the world," specifically in terms of enumeration (individuals versus group) or composition (parts versus whole ). so a pile of rocks is more significant than a single rock, and a tree is more significant than a leaf. i would guess that a world war is more significant than a single death? that works so long as we aren't talking about the archduke ferdinand and his wife, where a single death caused a world war, and can be seen to have been equally "significant." but now that i understand what "significant" means, to you, i can discuss it without misinterpreting you. im still not sure how it applies to "zpeciez" though.

If the cat analogy and the explanation quoted above are insufficient, then I think any further manipulation of my keyboard is going to be as well.

Quote from: billy rubin on February 18, 2020, 05:47:38 PM
QuoteI think it is impossible to reconcile the nihilist position with the concept of value, or that of significance. That being the case, I don't expect you to agree that there is any such thing as significance. But I reject nihilism.

i agree on the insignificance of significance. i see value and significance as local concepts that don't have any meaning that transcends local usage. i see nihilism as the only unbiased view of the universe. but in conversation i can work with any defintion of value or significance that can be defined, but every conversation will likely have a different one.

Local usage is all we have. There is no universal usage; that's an appeal to the realm of gods, or Plato's Ideals. What is significant to thinking sentient beings is significant, full stop. There is no other source of significance of which we are aware.

The Christian claims to have access to the only genuine view of reality: "God is our Lord. Lord Jesus died for our sins." The nihilist also claims to have access to the only genuine view of reality: "Human beings are incapable of a genuine understanding of reality." Both display a marked bias. One toward religious faith, the other toward a negation of rationality in the name of rationality.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Recusant on February 21, 2020, 12:28:11 AM
Quote from: Davin on February 18, 2020, 02:51:53 PM
Quote from: Recusant on February 18, 2020, 03:33:28 AM
[spoiler]
Quote from: Bluenose on February 17, 2020, 11:33:28 PM
Here's and idea:  Instead of creating our own idiosyncratic definitions of words, why don't we agree on using the dictionary definitions?

Because dictionary definitions, while useful as a starting point and anchor, do not always convey all the possible legitimate ways of understanding the meaning of a word. Dictionaries are authoritative only in that they describe how words are most commonly understood. Worthwhile discussion can arise in regard to differing understanding. 

For example, billy rubin and I agree that the dictionary definition of mind is too restrictive in its human centrism. We both think that other animals exhibit evidence of having minds. We diverge in that I include only animals that are fairly intelligent, while I think he would say that nearly all animals have minds.

I think that perhaps eventually dictionaries will acknowledge that animals other than humans have minds. Meanwhile, referring back to a point I made earlier, I am not going to say that since Koko the gorilla isn't a member of our species she didn't have a mind, merely because of the species-centric definition presently found in dictionaries.[/spoiler]

There is a point, and I think it's been crossed, where having someone define what they mean by a word/term ends up being more work for one side than the other. If we look at the discussion, bill rubin here has you jumping through a lot of hoops, and getting you to do a lot of extra work, only to ignore what you've said and continue to claim that you think a term means something you've clearly said doesn't mean that in your usage. That's why we have the suggestion in the forum guidelines of taking the most generous interpretation. I think you've been honoring that, and I like to honor it, but billy rubin has been doing the opposite.

The generous interpretation is that billy rubin is endeavouring to achieve clarity. My sometimes prolix wittering may on occasion be less than transparent.  :sadnod:

Quote from: Davin on February 18, 2020, 02:51:53 PMTrue, there are problems with taking only the dictionary definitions, but those problems tend to go away with the principle of charity and a few quick corrections here and there. There are also problems with making discussion dictionaries, like what we've seen here where one side seems to be asking for clarification on usages that are already clear based on the context of the usages for anyone with a reading level above grade school. Now I don't think that billy rubin is that terrible at reading, I think that billy rubin does not like to have its ideas actually challenged and uses this "define this for me" as an avoidance tactic to temporarily dodge things that directly challenge their claims.

While I admire the willingness to use the "singular they" (I've been advocating its use for some years), billy rubin is clearly a man, and identifies as such. It's "they/their" not "it/their," though.

Should temporary dodges be resorted to, they may be overcome with patience. If not, no problem--there is still entertainment value, and the possibility of things being learned in the course of the discussion. Those are the primary objectives as far as I'm concerned.

Quote from: Davin on February 18, 2020, 02:51:53 PMI think the first time you clarified what you meant by mind, was clear enough to understand that you did not mean only humans. And yet... they seem highly resistant to accepting what you say you mean. Then there's the claims about you saying things that you've never said. Ignoring and avoiding direct questions that could clarify things and reduce the amount of work you're doing with all these needless paragraphs of clarification. But if they did answer those direct questions, it would pin them down and they seem to like being unclear and love these muddy waters they've created. I mean there's a lot of stuff going on here where billy rubin is demonstrating that they are not arguing in good faith.

I've had many discussions with nihilists who have no issues with understanding and using common terms. Even value is not something that nihilists have no concept of, if anything, they only need to qualify it. It is possible to understand what another person means and still not agree with them. However, billy rubin seems to be taking the tact they don't have the faculties to even understand you, therefore what you say is meaningless. It's like you're either arguing with a black hole or a pigeon, neither results in a useful discussion after a point. You seem to like stretching your muscles with the basic challenges here, so there's at least that utility. I like that too from time to time, and it's also personally useful to me to roll out the concepts I've been working on and/or haven't had to pull out in a while. I never got past the basic point with billy rubin of merely agreeing to the definition of a common term because they buried their head in the sand.

Even if everything you say about the discussion is accurate, it does not detract from the entertainment value to me. Nor from the things that I've learned, like some instinctive behaviors of ants that I didn't know about.  ;)

I don't fault people for preferring not to engage in such discussions, and realize that in reading them, they don't get the same entertainment value (in fact, may find reading them to be frustrating). Probably best that they turn away from such self-indulgent displays.   ;D
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Bad Penny II on February 21, 2020, 07:47:29 AM
Quote from: Bad Penny II on January 31, 2020, 02:43:43 PM
Quote from: billy rubin on January 31, 2020, 02:17:44 PM
Quote from: Bad Penny II

You don't make any sense to me.
There's no supernatural, never has been.
There's just us happy or resigned to being us and the fantasists.
And disaffected fantasist refugees.
Ye, if the answer doesn't come from on high there is no answer.


where did i say that your moral sense was supernatural?

You repeatedly look to some outside authority to legitimise rules and you find none and you declare the whole rule declaring thing intrinsically lacking. Did you used to have a god?

Quote from: billy rubin on January 31, 2020, 04:03:04 PM

ive been an atheist/agnostic most all of my life. but id be a hindu if it msde sense. the food iz good, although only the aghoris eat babies.

Quote from: billy rubin on February 20, 2020, 07:22:13 PM

i bitched at the brewery back when i was a theist for doing that and the owner promised to take "society of friends" off his packaging. l

So you did (as an adult I assume) have a god.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Inertialmass on February 21, 2020, 12:14:19 PM
Ha, ha.

Why would anyone ever gratuitously announce to the world "I never tell lies!!!" unless... ?

Look for the massive quaker christer quotes sprinkled throughout "Why Won't God Heal Amputees?" and "Is God Imaginary?" Forum archives, coincidentally all in lower case and claiming ad nauseam that morality absent god is illogical.


Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: billy rubin on February 21, 2020, 12:37:45 PM
Quote from: bad penny
So you did (as an adult I assume) have a god.
,
sure, as ive said. for what thats worth. i grew up in a religiously apathetic household, with various hinduz, muslimz, roman catholics, atheists and so on. in my forties i experienced a series of highly improbable experiencez which i interpreted as mozt likely associated with gods. so i gave godz the benefit of the doubt for about 15 years. the experiences have ceased, and so has my belief.

rheres only one world, as i see it, and so i modify my interpretations to reflect what i experience.

sorry about my stalkers, by the way. giving them attention just encouragez them, but its unfortunate that they try to draw in other people.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Magdalena on February 21, 2020, 02:14:25 PM
Quote from: billy rubin on February 21, 2020, 12:37:45 PM
...
sorry about my stalkers, by the way...

(https://media.tenor.com/images/bce44acb6e293172f9cd3086922a0218/tenor.gif)
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Davin on February 21, 2020, 02:25:45 PM
Quote from: Recusant on February 21, 2020, 12:28:11 AM
The generous interpretation is that billy rubin is endeavouring to achieve clarity. My sometimes prolix wittering may on occasion be less than transparent.  :sadnod:
I think it's better to use the principle on what is said than assuming intentions.

Quote from: Recusant
While I admire the willingness to use the "singular they" (I've been advocating its use for some years), billy rubin is clearly a man, and identifies as such. It's "they/their" not "it/their," though.
I don't remember reading anything about billy rubin's gender, and I don't really care that much, in most posts I ignore them. I don't see an issue with using "it."

Quote from: Recusant
Even if everything you say about the discussion is accurate, it does not detract from the entertainment value to me. Nor from the things that I've learned, like some instinctive behaviors of ants that I didn't know about.  ;)
Yeah, I figured.

Quote from: Recusant
I don't fault people for preferring not to engage in such discussions, and realize that in reading them, they don't get the same entertainment value (in fact, may find reading them to be frustrating). Probably best that they turn away from such self-indulgent displays.   ;D
Doesn't bother me, I'm just pointing out the bad faith argument red flags.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Davin on February 21, 2020, 02:27:07 PM
Quote from: Magdalena on February 21, 2020, 02:14:25 PM
Quote from: billy rubin on February 21, 2020, 12:37:45 PM
...
sorry about my stalkers, by the way...

(https://media.tenor.com/images/bce44acb6e293172f9cd3086922a0218/tenor.gif)
That looks like more drama. Like billy rubin is trying to stir shit with their "stalkers."
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Magdalena on February 21, 2020, 02:44:19 PM
Quote from: Davin on February 21, 2020, 02:27:07 PM
Quote from: Magdalena on February 21, 2020, 02:14:25 PM
Quote from: billy rubin on February 21, 2020, 12:37:45 PM
...
sorry about my stalkers, by the way...

(https://media.tenor.com/images/bce44acb6e293172f9cd3086922a0218/tenor.gif)
That looks like more drama. Like billy rubin is trying to stir shit with their "stalkers."
I don't think the problem is billy rubin. I don't really care what he said at the "Why Won't God Heal Amputees?" and "Is God Imaginary?" Forum. Do you? Does anyone, here? Why would Inertialmass even want us to go there? Again, billy rubin hasn't responded to the constant, "ha ha ha ha's" and the gossiping they bring. I admire his patience.
~Good thing this is the most BORING forum in the whole wide world!
:smilenod:


:levitate:
There will be no drama.
There will be no drama.
There will be no drama.
There will be no drama.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Inertialmass on February 21, 2020, 03:32:40 PM
^^^^  Now that's drama.  All I offered were a couple very terse suggestions.  Which you were obviously totally free to ignore.  Speaking of which, is pleading the Fifth, thus ignoring one's interlocutor, more often symptomatic of innocence or guilt?  Openness or secrecy???

Now, were I a contemporary woman posting regularly on this sort of Forum I'd seriously have reserved my energy and my wrath for the rape jokes and the "he, he, he" emoticons to follow.

Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Tank on February 21, 2020, 03:53:26 PM
Quote from: Inertialmass on February 21, 2020, 03:32:40 PM
^^^^  Now that's drama.  All I offered were a couple very terse suggestions.  Which you were obviously totally free to ignore.  Speaking of which, is pleading the Fifth, thus ignoring one's interlocutor, more often symptomatic of innocence or guilt?  Openness or secrecy???

Now, were I a contemporary woman posting regularly on this sort of Forum I'd seriously have reserved my energy and my wrath for the rape jokes and the "he, he, he" emoticons to follow.

Inertialmass

Stop shit disturbing now. You've made your point. If you continue I will consider it trolling and that is against the rules.

Tank
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Magdalena on February 21, 2020, 03:56:54 PM
Quote from: Inertialmass on February 21, 2020, 03:32:40 PM
^^^^  Now that's drama.  All I offered were a couple very terse suggestions.  Which you were obviously totally free to ignore.  Speaking of which, is pleading the Fifth, thus ignoring one's interlocutor, more often symptomatic of innocence or guilt?  Openness or secrecy???

Now, were I a contemporary woman posting regularly on this sort of Forum I'd seriously have reserved my energy and my wrath for the rape jokes and the "he, he, he" emoticons to follow.
(https://tenor.com/view/oblivious-gif-7883152.gif)
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Inertialmass on February 21, 2020, 04:27:49 PM
'Case ya ain't noticed I been wholly indifferent to membership in this embarrassing club for near on a decade.

Listen Tank bud, so long as I'm a Member here I'm gonna call a fibber a fibber, I'm gonna call you out when you ignorantly label a planet-sized asteroid a planet then giggle. 

Or when you chortle emoticons following a rape joke, you little friggin' troglodyte.



Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: hermes2015 on February 21, 2020, 04:29:36 PM
Quote from: Magdalena on February 21, 2020, 03:56:54 PM
Quote from: Inertialmass on February 21, 2020, 03:32:40 PM
^^^^  Now that's drama.  All I offered were a couple very terse suggestions.  Which you were obviously totally free to ignore.  Speaking of which, is pleading the Fifth, thus ignoring one's interlocutor, more often symptomatic of innocence or guilt?  Openness or secrecy???

Now, were I a contemporary woman posting regularly on this sort of Forum I'd seriously have reserved my energy and my wrath for the rape jokes and the "he, he, he" emoticons to follow.
(https://tenor.com/view/oblivious-gif-7883152.gif)

:thumbsup:
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Magdalena on February 21, 2020, 04:37:02 PM
Quote from: hermes2015 on February 21, 2020, 04:29:36 PM
Quote from: Magdalena on February 21, 2020, 03:56:54 PM
Quote from: Inertialmass on February 21, 2020, 03:32:40 PM
^^^^  Now that's drama.  All I offered were a couple very terse suggestions.  Which you were obviously totally free to ignore.  Speaking of which, is pleading the Fifth, thus ignoring one's interlocutor, more often symptomatic of innocence or guilt?  Openness or secrecy???

Now, were I a contemporary woman posting regularly on this sort of Forum I'd seriously have reserved my energy and my wrath for the rape jokes and the "he, he, he" emoticons to follow.
(https://tenor.com/view/oblivious-gif-7883152.gif)

:thumbsup:

:lol:

:hug:

Learned that one from you, my friend.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: xSilverPhinx on February 21, 2020, 04:47:33 PM
Inertialmass has been banned for repeated trolling and inflammatory remarks. Just a "keyboard warrior" trying to get a rise out of people.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Davin on February 21, 2020, 04:53:11 PM
He had a lot to say, he had a lot of nothing to say.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Magdalena on February 21, 2020, 05:00:21 PM
Quote from: xSilverPhinx on February 21, 2020, 04:47:33 PM
Inertialmass has been banned for repeated trolling and inflammatory remarks. Just a "keyboard warrior" trying to get a rise out of people.
(https://vgif.ru/gifs/142/vgif-ru-17804.gif)
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Icarus on February 22, 2020, 12:11:12 AM
I have never understood the motivations of people whose main thrust is to create controversy.  If I was a psych major perhaps I would know more about the role of protagonist in fruitless, meaningless battle sessions.

Sure enough I have met and conversed with a few of those marginally (or severely)  disturbed individuals. I have not learned much of substance from those experiences.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: billy rubin on February 23, 2020, 09:34:19 PM
i think some people simply feed on attention, of any kind. the more intense, the greater the gratification and the desire for more.

Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: billy rubin on February 23, 2020, 09:45:23 PM
Quote from: recusantWhat is it about tandem running that you believe distinguishes it from other teaching and learning behavior displayed by insects which is considered instinctive? It doesn't appear to me to be an exception.

Some species of birds build amazingly engineered nests. They weren't taught how to do it, but they do learn to improve their technique in successive years. The first sentence of the definition you cited is clear: "Instinct or innate behavior is the inherent inclination of a living organism towards a particular complex behavior." Perhaps you have some insight into this that I do not. I really do not understand why you think tandem running in insects is not instinctive.

as i understand instinct, behviourists generally use it to refer to (mostly un-learned) complex behavior. absence of specific learning is often a key distinction. so a sea turtle hatchling running into the surf is clearly instinctive. passerines that fly towards and away from the equator with the seasons do so insticnctively, even following geographic landmarks and stellar patterns that are selected instinctively. organisms defend their territories, their mates, their offspring, using fixed action patterns, or instinctive drives.

learning does exist in the expression of instinct. but it seems to  be as a direct modifier of the instinctive behaviour. birds that build a nest instinctively can learn to build them better. animals that fight instinctively can learn to fight more effectively. a bullfinch with an instinctive drive for singing can learn human melodies instead:

https://www.bl.uk/collection-items/bullfinch-pyrrhula-pyrrhula

all these learning exampls are modifications in the expression of an instinct. but the intentional transmission of abstract information, which does occur in tandem running, seems to me to present a higher level of behaviour. when a teacher ant leads a student ant to a food source, it is certainly exercising an instinctive drive, as is th estudent ant which learns the route. but there is complex information being passed between the two, the route itself, which is not instinctive at all, and might be different every day. the drive to learn and to teach is instinctive, but recognizing highly specific information that corresponds to a mental map to a food source and transferring that route to a naive user appears to me to be cognition, not instinct.

its not tbe same as dancing in bees, which can be argued is entirely mechaniztic, although i have doubts. tandem running in ants iz like teaching a bus driver a new route-- sure he knows how to drive already, but the route itsekf is a complex mix  of specificand temporary knowedge, not an insinctive behavior to improve.

cog·ni·tion
/ˌkäɡˈniSH(ə)n/

noun
the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses.


i also consider tandem running to be an example of non-human culture.

this stuff isn't limited to ants. you ve mentioned dogs having a more complex apprehension of the world, and i'm sure we could come up with lots more examples. my point isn't to say that instinct doesn't exist,  but to propose the argument that what passes for cognition in humans should sometimes pass for cognition in other animals, even those as different from us as ants.

regarding nihilism, the defintion that i would use to express my use is only the first half of the one you quoted:

Nihilism is the belief that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated.

i do not believe in absolute values, but local (relative?) values exist anywhere someone say they do, and cease to exist in the same place as soon as someone asserts them differently. meaning is what falls from my personal bag of values when i dump it out, and goes away when i pack it back up and leave. then a different set of values is dumped out of the next visitor's bag, equally valid, and equally temporary.

on the exclusion of  "knowing," i think lots of things can be known, but perhaps eventually they might all boil down to knowing our own existence. if i have to doubt my awareness of being aware, then there isn't anything of substance to be aware of anymore. or at least nothing can be held to be genuine. i think we are pretty much in agreement on these poinst:

Quote from: recusantLocal usage is all we have. There is no universal usage; that's an appeal to the realm of gods, or Plato's Ideals. What is significant to thinking sentient beings is significant, full stop. There is no other source of significance of which we are aware.

on significance, especially of species when you wrote this, you asserted that several things were significant but i didn't understand your system of values, hence my question:

QuoteConsidering the question of existence, I think that we exist most significantly as a species, just as any other organism does. By that I mean, individual members of the species are evanescent manifestations. They can affect the course of the species' existence, but the existence of the species as a whole doesn't depend on any individual. Rather, the individual's existence depends on that of the species.

why is the "course of a species exiztence" in any way "significant?"  youve cited influence, but there are many different usages for that word.

"numbers" is possibly correct only for one understanding of "species," which would be the set of currently living breeding populations all grouped together under the same name. the chorus frogs that will soon call near my house are individuals, but they do belong to the same species, in several senses. but i don't understand why a group of living organisms is more significant that a single living individual, or more than millions of fossilized ones. why do you think so? i can come up with all sorts of examples of individuals that have more influence than the groups they belong to-- the king of england versus his subjects, the instagram celebity who affects the behavior of many other people, or the single bullet that kills you, versus the thousands of other bullets in the crate it came from. it all depends on what exactly we consider "significant," which varies. i know what "significant" means, but not which ruler you measure it with, and i don t think one answer will satisfy all usagez.

a second and equally pertinent defintion of "species" depends absolutely on an individual, one which is more important for this purpose than every other member of the species together. this single individual is the type specimen, without which the species cannot be identified. no matter how many gray tree frogs are collected and studied, there is one and only one specimen in a jar somewhere that has the defining firzt use of the name Hyla chrysocelis on the label. that single individual is the only one to which the identity of that species surely belongs, by definition. losing that one specimen influences the "course of the entire species" more surely than any group of millions of them elsewhere can possibly do, because the entire species-- the taxon-- can no longer be identified with certainty. in addition to the holotype,we have syntypes, lectotypes, neotypes, and so on. all are more important than the rest of the species.

so which is the most significant "species?" one iz the groups of breeding populations all considered to be sufficiently similar, a morphological species. another is all of  those groups sufficiently closely related to interbrees, a biological species. a third is thse groups supposedly sharing a sufficent number of ancestors, a clade. a fourth would be the single individual that defines the entire species by name? as i zaid, i can hold an individual in my hand. if you then ask what a speciez iz, i have to ask whether you are a cladist, a morphological biologist, a palaeontologist, or a population ecologist. "species" is different for each.

QuoteThe Christian claims to have access to the only genuine view of reality: "God is our Lord. Lord Jesus died for our sins." The nihilist also claims to have access to the only genuine view of reality: "Human beings are incapable of a genuine understanding of reality." Both display a marked bias. One toward religious faith, the other toward a negation of rationality in the name of rationality.

for my part, i wouldn't say that nhilists  are incapable of a genuine understanding of reality, because i concern myself less with that part of the definition. i would say that whether we understand reality or not, it doesn't matter. so i dont negate rationality, i negate the concept of relative value. especially of "species."

this is interesting, and i need to think some more about it:

QuoteYou're willing to propose that the existence of individuals is a sound concept, given the evidence, yet appear unwilling to accept that the concept of the existence of species is equally sound, given the evidence. The epistomological nihilst would tell us that neither concept is sound. Regardless of evidence, no human concepts regarding the universe have any real validity. We observe the evidence for the existence of species (by any modern scientific definition you care to adopt for the moment), just as we observe the evidence for the existence of individuals. The fluidity of the concept does not detract from its usefulness. Nor does its fluidity detract from its validity. Both concepts are human constructs, based on evidence observed by humans. In the half-nihilist view, we can know for sure that individuals exist, but we can't know for sure that species exist. In the epistomological nihilist view, all explanations differentiating the concept of species from that of individual run aground.

^^i do recognize speciez, once we agree on the subject within which tbey are to be discussed. but i dont see significance except in a converzational and transient level.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: TallRed on February 23, 2020, 10:05:07 PM
Quote from: billy rubin on February 23, 2020, 09:34:19 PM
i think some people simply feed on attention, of any kind. the more intense, the greater the gratification and the desire for more.
Attention-craving takes on many forms.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Magdalena on February 24, 2020, 12:15:36 AM
Quote from: TallRed on February 23, 2020, 10:05:07 PM
Quote from: billy rubin on February 23, 2020, 09:34:19 PM
i think some people simply feed on attention, of any kind. the more intense, the greater the gratification and the desire for more.
Attention-craving takes on many forms.
(https://miro.medium.com/max/800/0*3tQEkx5YJPmkbOHd.gif)
Been there.
Done that.
:grin:


Now you see what you did?
You two made me open another bottle of wine!
Chingado!

:grin:

I'm not lying.
It's a 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Ironically called, Predator.
:yum:
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: TallRed on February 24, 2020, 12:22:47 AM
Quote from: Magdalena on February 24, 2020, 12:15:36 AM
Quote from: TallRed on February 23, 2020, 10:05:07 PM
Quote from: billy rubin on February 23, 2020, 09:34:19 PM
i think some people simply feed on attention, of any kind. the more intense, the greater the gratification and the desire for more.
Attention-craving takes on many forms.
(https://miro.medium.com/max/800/0*3tQEkx5YJPmkbOHd.gif)
Been there.
Done that.
:grin:


Now you see what you did?
You two made me open another bottle of wine!
Chingado!

:grin:

I'm not lying.
It's a 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Ironically called, Predator.
:yum:
The irony is not delicious but I'll bet the wine is.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Magdalena on February 24, 2020, 12:26:45 AM
Quote from: TallRed on February 24, 2020, 12:22:47 AM
Quote from: Magdalena on February 24, 2020, 12:15:36 AM
Quote from: TallRed on February 23, 2020, 10:05:07 PM
Quote from: billy rubin on February 23, 2020, 09:34:19 PM
i think some people simply feed on attention, of any kind. the more intense, the greater the gratification and the desire for more.
Attention-craving takes on many forms.
(https://miro.medium.com/max/800/0*3tQEkx5YJPmkbOHd.gif)
Been there.
Done that.
:grin:


Now you see what you did?
You two made me open another bottle of wine!
Chingado!

:grin:

I'm not lying.
It's a 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Ironically called, Predator.
:yum:
The irony is not delicious but I'll bet the wine is.
:lol:
You like wine, TallRed?
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: TallRed on February 24, 2020, 04:48:57 PM
Quote from: Magdalena on February 24, 2020, 12:26:45 AM
Quote from: TallRed on February 24, 2020, 12:22:47 AM
Quote from: Magdalena on February 24, 2020, 12:15:36 AM
Quote from: TallRed on February 23, 2020, 10:05:07 PM
Quote from: billy rubin on February 23, 2020, 09:34:19 PM
i think some people simply feed on attention, of any kind. the more intense, the greater the gratification and the desire for more.
Attention-craving takes on many forms.
(https://miro.medium.com/max/800/0*3tQEkx5YJPmkbOHd.gif)
Been there.
Done that.
:grin:


Now you see what you did?
You two made me open another bottle of wine!
Chingado!

:grin:

I'm not lying.
It's a 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Ironically called, Predator.
:yum:
The irony is not delicious but I'll bet the wine is.
:lol:
You like wine, TallRed?
Sometimes. It depends on the meal.
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: Recusant on March 01, 2020, 05:13:28 AM
Quote from: billy rubin on February 23, 2020, 09:45:23 PM
Quote from: recusant[spoiler]What is it about tandem running that you believe distinguishes it from other teaching and learning behavior displayed by insects which is considered instinctive? It doesn't appear to me to be an exception.

Some species of birds build amazingly engineered nests. They weren't taught how to do it, but they do learn to improve their technique in successive years. The first sentence of the definition you cited is clear: "Instinct or innate behavior is the inherent inclination of a living organism towards a particular complex behavior." Perhaps you have some insight into this that I do not. I really do not understand why you think tandem running in insects is not instinctive.[/spoiler]

as i understand instinct, behviourists generally use it to refer to (mostly un-learned) complex behavior. absence of specific learning is often a key distinction. so a sea turtle hatchling running into the surf is clearly instinctive. passerines that fly towards and away from the equator with the seasons do so insticnctively, even following geographic landmarks and stellar patterns that are selected instinctively. organisms defend their territories, their mates, their offspring, using fixed action patterns, or instinctive drives.

learning does exist in the expression of instinct. but it seems to  be as a modifier of the expression of the instinctive behaviour. birds that build a nest instinctively can learn to build them better. animals that fight instinctively can learn to fight more effectively. a bullfinch with an instinctive drive for singing can learn human melodies instead:

https://www.bl.uk/collection-items/bullfinch-pyrrhula-pyrrhula

all these learning exampls are modifications in the expression of an instinct. but they don't involve the intentional transmission of abstract information, which does occur in tandem running. when a teacher ant leads a student ant to a food source, it is certainly exercising an instinctive drive, as is th estudent ant which learns the route. but there is complex information being passed between the two, the route itself, which is not instinctive at all, and might be different every day. the drive to learn and to teach is instinctive, but recognizing highly specific information that corresponds to a mental map to a food source and transferring that route to a naive user appears to me to be cognition, not instinct:

its not tbe same as dancing in bees, which can be argued is entirely mechaniztic, although i have doubts. tandem running in ants iz like teaching a buz driver a new route-- sure he knows how to drive already, but the route itsekf is a complex mix  of specificand temporary knowedge, not an insinctive behavior to improve.

You may argue that the bees' dance is "entirely mechanical," but I don't think such an argument would be useful for supporting the claim that tandem running is not an instinctive behavior. If the bees' dance behavior is entirely mechanical, then so is tandem running.

The bees are communicating a "mental map" to a food source in a more abstract form than one ant following another. It could be argued that a bee who learns the directions to a food source from another's dance is if anything performing a more complex instinctive task than an ant that follows another to learn a route. Yet your own source specifically describes the dance of the bees as instinctive. Given this, it seems apparent that both behaviors, though they involve teaching and learning, are instinctive.

Quote from: billy rubin on February 23, 2020, 09:45:23 PMcog·ni·tion
/ˌkäɡˈniSH(ə)n/

noun
the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses.


i consider tandem running to be an example of non-human culture.

this stuff isn't limited to ants. you ve mentioned dogs having a more complex apprehension of the world, and i'm sure we could come up with lots more examples. my point isn't to try to divide the world up into animals-driven-by-instinct versus animals-not-so-driven, or to say that instinct doesn't exist,  but to propose the position that what passes for cognition in humans should sometimes pass for cognition in other animals, even those as different from us as ants.

I think that there are non-human cultures, but I don't see it in ants. I see it in things like songs of animals (birds, wolves, whales) and the differentiation in orcas (https://ptmsc.org/programs/investigate/citizen-science/completed-projects/orca-project/resident-and-transient-orcas) between "transient" and "resident" lineages.

I don't question the fact that we are still subject to instinctive drives. How we act on those drives is rather often done in a non-instinctive mode though. For instance, I'd say that we instinctively seek comfort--a safe, sheltered place to relax. That's an instinctive drive, but building a house is not an instinctive act.

Nor do I dispute that our morality is to some extent a manifestation of our instincts as an intelligent social species. I advocated that position here years ago and still subscribe to it. It also clearly goes beyond instinctive motivations, for better or worse, and often bears on non-instinctive behavior.

Quote from: billy rubin on February 23, 2020, 09:45:23 PMregarding nihilism, the defintion that i would use to express my use is only the first half of the one you quoted:

Nihilism is the belief that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated.

i do not believe in absolute meaning, but local (relative?) meaning exists anywhere someone says it does, and ceases to exist in the same place as soon as someone asserts it differently. meaning is what falls from my personal bag of values when i dump it out, and goes away when i pack it back up and leave. then a different meaning is dumped out of the next visitor's bag, equally valid, and equally temporary.

I agree. Generally, meaning that is understood collectively has more staying power than an individual perception, but even that is temporary.

Quote from: billy rubin on February 23, 2020, 09:45:23 PMon "knowing," i think lots of things can be known, but perhaps eventually they might all boil down to knowing our own existence. if i have to doubt my awareness of being aware, then there isn't anything of substance to be aware of anymore. or at least nothing can be held to be genuine. i think we are pretty much in agreement on this:

Quote from: recusantLocal usage is all we have. There is no universal usage; that's an appeal to the realm of gods, or Plato's Ideals. What is significant to thinking sentient beings is significant, full stop. There is no other source of significance of which we are aware.

on significance, especially of species when you wrote this, you asserted that several things were significant but i didn't understand your system of values, hence my question:

QuoteConsidering the question of existence, I think that we exist most significantly as a species, just as any other organism does. By that I mean, individual members of the species are evanescent manifestations. They can affect the course of the species' existence, but the existence of the species as a whole doesn't depend on any individual. Rather, the individual's existence depends on that of the species.

why is the "course of a zpecies exiztence" in any way "significan?"  youve cited influence, but there are many different meaningz for that word.

Is it your contention that as a general principle a hair of an organism is equally significant as the organism as a whole? I think that isn't a particularly useful approach, though it may be justified on occasion to find an individual hair on a cat equally significant as the cat as a whole. For significance here, I find the Oxford English Dictionary sufficient: "The quality of being worthy of attention; importance, consequence."

Quote from: billy rubin on February 23, 2020, 09:45:23 PM"numbers" is possibly correct only for one understanding of "species," which would be the set of currently living breeding populations all grouped together under the same name. the chorus frogs that will soon call near my house are individuals, but they do belong to the same species. but i don't understand why a group of living organisms is more significant that a single living individual, or millions of fossilized ones. why do you think so? i can come up with all sorts of examples of individuals that have more influence than the groups they belong to-- the king of england versus his subjects, the instagram influencer who affects the behavior of many other people, or the single bullet that kills you, versus the thousands of other bullets in the crate it came from. it all depends on what exactly we consider "significant," which varies. i know what "significant" means, but not which ruler you measure it with, and i don t think one answer will satisfy all usagez.

It's possible to find exceptions to a general principle, but that doesn't negate the principle. However, nor is there any requirement that the proposal of a general principle be accepted. I perceive significance in this instance while it seems you don't, and that's an acceptable place to leave the issue as far as I'm concerned.

Quote from: billy rubin on February 23, 2020, 09:45:23 PMa second and equally pertinent defintion of "species" depends absolutely on an individual, which is more important for this purpose than every other member of the species together. this single individual is the type specimen, without which the species cannot be identified. no matter how many gray tree frogs are collected and studied, there is one and only one specimen in a jar somewhere that has the defining firzt use of the name Hyla chrysocelis on the label. that single individual is the only one to which the identity of that species surely belongs, by definition. losing that one specimen influences the "course of the entire species" more surely than any group of millions of them elsewhere can possibly do, because the entire species-- the taxon-- can no longer be identified with certainty. in addition to the holotype,we have syntypes, lectotypes, neotypes, and so on. all are more important than the rest of the species.

I think I've been clear that I'm not using the term in that way.

Quote from: billy rubin on February 23, 2020, 09:45:23 PMso which is the most significant "species?" one iz the groups of breeding populations all considered to be sufficiently similar. another is all of  those groups sufficiently closely related. a third is thse groups supposedly sharing a sufficent number of ancestors,. a fourth would be the single individual that defines the entire species by name? as i zaid, i can hold an individual in my hand. if you then ask what a speciez iz, i have to ask whether you are a population ecologist, a morphological biologist, a palaeontologist, or a physical taxonomist. "species" is different for each.

Yes, we could dissect the various ways that the word is understood in technical specialities. Or we could satisfy ourselves, for the sake of discussion, with the understanding that a reasonably scientifically literate person has of the meaning of the word. Something like the entire population of organisms sharing an identifiable genetic heritage (usually capable of interbreeding in instances of sexual reproduction), often distinguishable by a characteristic morphology. It appears that you'd rather carry on with the former, so again, as far as I'm concerned we can leave it at that.

The well-being of the species is unimportant from an imaginary impassive "objective" god-like perspective, as if the universe were watching. That perspective has no practical application, if we discard the god hypothesis. There is no objective perspective; it's essentially the same oxymoron as objective meaning. Discarding the notion of objective perspective, perspective itself remains.

We are animals well endowed with imagination, theory of mind, and the ability to use an evidence-based approach to understanding our environment and other vital topics. Our perspective isn't limited to our individual lives. We can for instance, justifiably take the perspective of life as a generalized entity. Each of us is representative of life in general. We are living things, and in examining evidence, we inescapably view it from a perspective of living things. We cannot realistically do otherwise. Life strives, it endeavors to reproduce successfully and continue through time. In this view, "maintain life" is simply and objectively what life does.

We can justifiably take the perspective of our species as well. Our species does what life in general does. If we understand that human morality is an integral aspect of our species, and that it serves to regulate not only individual actions but our collective behavior, then I think it's reasonable to draw at least one conclusion. Human morality is part of how we as a species endeavor to reproduce successfully and continue through time. With this as a reference, we can also reasonably evaluate the various ideas of morality: Are they fit for purpose?

I'm just repeating myself, though. I think there's little to be gained from that and to me it's a strong indication that carrying on is unlikely to be productive. Thank you for a diverting discussion. 

ETA:  :lol: Literally striking through half of an offered definition of "nihilism" when responding to a post in which the term "half-nihilist" is used.   
Title: Re: Moral Nihilism
Post by: billy rubin on March 02, 2020, 12:48:25 AM
Quote from: Recusant on March 01, 2020, 05:13:28 AM
Quote from: billy
why is the "course of a zpecies exiztence" in any way "significan?"  youve cited influence, but there are many different meaningz for that word.

Is it your contention that as a general principle a hair of an organism is equally significant as the organism as a whole? I think that isn't a particularly useful approach, though it may be justified on occasion to find an individual hair on a cat equally significant as the cat as a whole. For significance here, I find the Oxford English Dictionary sufficient: "The quality of being worthy of attention; importance, consequence."

i contend that there is no such thing as a general principle in this matter. "significance" must be put into a specific context every time it is used. sometimes that context may be assumed to be shared, sometimes not.

to use your example, an individual hair from a cat is as significant as the cat itself, if the issue of significance is a forensic determination of whether a cat has been prsent. before my floods, i used to have keys to the dorsal guard hairs of north americab mammals, like this one

https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/2422262.pdf?seq=1

a single hair is as good as the whole animal, depening on its purpose.

interestingly, i once read a taxonbomic treatis in which the author pointed out that losing a museum skin of an animal was generally of less consequence than losing the label that had been tied to its foot. without the label, the skin was useless, but the label was still significant even without the skin.

[spoiler](https://www.sbnature.org/uploads/pages/Misc20180427-90forDAMforWebsite-1545179368.jpg)[/spoiler]

"significant" merely means "worthy of attention," as you point out. but "worthy" is completely situational.

Quote from: recusant
Thank you for a diverting discussion. 

sure.

Quote from: recusant
ETA:  :lol: Literally striking through half of an offered definition of "nihilism" when responding to a post in which the term "half-nihilist" is used.

lol

i never said i was perfect