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Comment I'll stop glorifying them when they stop crucifyin (Score 1) 479

Maliciously cracking into systems so you can violated the privacy of rich, powerful and/or famous people is, well, still wrong, but not really much more wrong than papparazzi-ism in general. People who resent those higher on the social ladder are gonna have sympathy with--even if not outright endorsing--anyone who makes trouble for those on the top. Those on the top are going to be absolutely enraged by them. Thus you have internet commenters who glorify hackers, and government leaders and the wealthy who absolutely crucify them in response. I don't know what will happen to Guccifer in Romania, but if he were arrested in America he'd probably be looking at decades of time--for a 42-year, probably a life-sentence. What he did was wrong, but he doesn't deserve to lose his freedom for the rest of his life.

Comment Re:This could *help* fix diaspora but... (Score 1) 124

Social network programs are, themselves, tools, so by this logic you shouldn't take anything Diaspora, Buddycloud, or anyone else proposing a replacement for Facebook seriously. For an open source project, if you're looking for both users and developers, the choice of programming language is inseperable from the product--it is a product designed to be re-programmed, therefore it is absurd to analyze the product's merit without looking at the tools we would have to use to do that re-programming.

Comment Re:Yes, they are (Score 1) 287

Maybe that's just hubris, but at every place I've been, there were a lot of really passionate gamers who were always interested in making things cooler, better, and more interesting.

You've either been working in unusual places, or that interest is failing to come across in the product those places make. From the consumer's perspective, mainstream video gaming hasn't seen much innovation besides better graphics (good), some gimmicky hardware peripherals (meh), and metrics-driven psychological manipulation of players on social networks (ugh). My perspective is that the larger companies have already stagnated, but elements of dissatisfaction among some consumers is pointing them towards indie developers and smaller companies--where there might be some hope of revival.

Comment Re:Yes, they are (Score 1) 287

You're dividing three phenomena that are tightly linked--complainers, lost sales, and writers with a high number of eyeballs. There have definitely been times when I made purchasing decisions on the basis of discussions with other gamers--if everyone is complaining about something that sounds like it will bother me, I'll avoid the product.

Further, for websites like Rock Paper Shotgun, the complainers, or people who at least sympathize with some of the complaining, ARE the eyeballs in question. They have a particular vision of what computer gaming should be, or at least a vague sense that it could be more than it is, and write from that perspective. That vision and perspective don't exist in a vacuum--it's something that their writers have developed not just playing games but also listening to what other people (some of them complainers) had to say. And, ironically, that complaining can lead to increased sales--when someone who shares some of my complaints expresses an interest in a different product, I'm more inclined to check that product out.

Single complaints (especially like "this should be longer" or "this should be cheaper") don't add much, if anything, but taken together they have an effect on gaming's ecosystem.

Comment Re:Well, that's one way to advertise.... (Score 4, Interesting) 548

Not sure that I'd call Facebook a monopoly, but "market share" is a bad way to think about social networks, since if you add up everyone's market share you end up with more than 100%--people are on more than one network. Network effects are key here--people don't want a Facebook account because of specific features of Facebook, they want a Facebook account because everyone else has a Facebook account. So if you're looking for a competitor to Facebook, you don't just want a different social network, you want a different social network that all of your friends also belong to. And depending on who you are and who your friends are, Facebook may very well have a monopoly on that product.

Really, when you join Facebook, you aren't just becoming a customer, you're becoming the product--you're becoming the reason other people want to join Facebook, and the reason advertisers and app developers want to do business on Facebook.

Comment Re:It's not that the price increase is so great... (Score 1) 722

I could be wrong (if I am please correct me), but I don't think Netflix offers pro-rated pricing if you change service levels mid-month. Poking around their website I can't find confirmation one way or the other, though, so I'm not sure. If they do, I guess that would solve the problem

Comment It's not that the price increase is so great... (Score 3, Insightful) 722

...it's the non-uniformity of it. If you currently have a streaming-only plan, there's no price increase. If you only watch DVDs and never stream, you could even save yourself $2. But if you do both, you could be paying 60% more. It doesn't really make sense to pay double the price, because the DVDs and streams are competing uses of the customer's time--if I stream a movie this evening, I'm probably not going to also watch a DVD. Ultimately the service isn't that expensive and if they just want to charge more then it's no big deal. But the new scheme seems designed to punish people who only primarily use one half of the service but occasionally use the other. If you most just stream movies but occasionally there's a DVD not available for streaming that you really want to see (and isn't at RedBox), or if you mostly just watch DVDs but someone visits your house and you'd suddenly like to watch a movie without waiting a couple days for it to arrive, then you have to pay a lot of money (relatively) just to dip a toe into the other half of the pool.

Comment Re:Unfortunately.... (Score 1) 887

No True Scotsman is the term for a particular fallacy,

It's a reference to the well-known fallacy, that doesn't mean I called it a fallacy. It does mean that I think your definition is ridiculous, as any Christian not having your exact beliefs regarding war and violence is apparently not a Christian. It's one thing to say that other Christians are incorrect on this point, it's quite another to say that someone who believes in the divinity and resurrection of Jesus Christ and agrees that his words are necessarily true but disagrees with the meaning of those words is not a Christian.

In any event, continuing to harp on this point is a sign of weakness in your argument. Theists and nontheists alike disagree on the question of violence in pursuit of the greater good. Your definition of Christian has nothing to do with it, because there's a whole lot of other people calling themselves Christian who disagree with you, and Jesus himself is not, for the moment, descending to tell us which of you are the actual Christians.

Rationality is somewhat different anyways, because it isnt really something you argue about whether someone "has"; not being a philosopher, I would hazard that rationality are rules of communication that are inherent in the way we think, not something that we think we deserve (ie, something external to us).

A being is acting rationally when it pursues its goals in the best way possible. Having selected a goal, you can choose which way to achieve it, but you can't choose which way is the best way--reality itself decides that for you. You pick a destination on the map, and you can pick which route to take, but you can't decide which route is shortest--the world itself decides that for you. I can't reliably make a decision rational by having really huge muscles or yelling about it really loud--it either is or isn't rational. The quality of an action being rational is not determined by arbitrary human will.

It is a plausible hypothesis that respecting other people's rights is rational for human beings, or even sentient life in general. It could be useful to uphold a norm that you may need to take advantage of as the wheel of fortune turns and you wind up on the bottom. It could be that respecting the rights of persons is good for our culture or our species. Or it could be that beauty is an objective part of the physical world (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56o2n8sVvM8) or even part of the space of possible worlds, and ethical behavior would be, in some sense, beautiful.

The point is that there is quite a lot of room to find a basis for morality and rights, other than divine command, that is independent of human will and still gives reasons for humans to comply with it. Whether those reasons are "absolute" or "universal" is a question that I don't think has a meaning. The Naturalistic Fallacy (and here I do mean fallacy) still holds even if God exists.

Comment Re:Unfortunately.... (Score 1) 887

I also repeatedly quoted *you*, that certainly doesn't mean I agreed with what I was quoting. And I only would have done it once right at the beginning of my first post, except you kept going back to re-argue it.

Look, it's like this. X said "I think that bird's a swan. Y said "there's no such thing as black swans". Z says "X didn't say anything about *black* swans but as a matter of fact black swans do exist." There is no contradiction in what Z said.

I did not use the word fallacy. I did use "No True Scotsman" to imply that I don't take your definition seriously, as you use "Christian" to mean not merely one who follows Christ's teachings, but one who interprets those teachings exactly as you do.

But, again,whichever definition you use here is besides the point.

I should note that if you agree with me when I say "that people might disagree over what is rational doesn't mean rationality is meaningless", then that's basically my whole point right there. If I can show that it is rational for you to respect a certain right, then that's the whole game right there. I don't need a "higher authority", all a higher authority would do is make the demonstration of rationality much simpler ("do it or else").

Comment Re:Unfortunately.... (Score 1) 887

All right, your post is short, I'll reply. From my first post:

Your post is trying to redefine what the parent said. You're the one talking about "rights in an absolute sense", but that's not the only meaning of the term "rights", and countertrolling made clear that this isn't the meaning he or she is using.

I then discussed how society can declare certain rights, and whether or not society is fulfilling its stated obligations is a descriptive fact of the world. I followed this with:

That said, I can think of several possible non-theist sources of rights other than simple human decision.

I then listed those possible sources. To sum up, I pointed out that you had changed the subject, then I engaged you on the new subject. You then repeatedly misunderstood my words. You'll probably misunderstand this.

How can one claim to follow christ if you know nothing of what the man says, what he did, or who he was?

Your No True Scotsman definition of Christian is besides the point., Your counter-example (mass killing for greater good) is something on which theists disagree with each other just as much nonbelievers do. That people might disagree over what is rational doesn't mean rationality is meaningless, anymore than disagreement of Christ's words makes those words meaningless.

Comment Re:Unfortunately.... (Score 1) 887

This is my last post here, because, hey, if you want me to tutor you any further you're gonna have to write me a check.

That may be countertrolling's claim

Right, that is countertrolling's claim, and whether or not you agree with that claim it makes clear that countertrolling isn't talking about absolute rights--that to countertrolling, the concept of "absolute rights" doesn't make any sense (except trivial "rights" like gravity). This whole set of posts of yours is just you changing the subject and me shamefully going along with it.

Dissenting opinions are not precedent. They do not affect the law, only potential future decisions. Precedent on the other hand does carry legal weight. If SCOTUS clarifies what "interstate trade" is, that carries the force of law until it is overturned by a future SCOTUS. This is built into our system, dating back at least to Marbury vs Madison a mere few years after our country's founding.

None of this contradicts anything I said. It's not about what's binding law, it's about what's true. And if the majority opinion were not merely binding law to lower courts, but true by definition, then dissenting opinions would have no purpose, not even for future decisions--future opinions would also be true by definition and could be determined by arbitrary whim. Also note that Marbury v Madison wasn't decided until after the constitution was ratified, so even if courts did, bizarrely, believe that their declarations defined truth itself, our nation's social contract doesn't requires us to agree with them (even to the extent it even makes sense to "agree to" a descriptive falsehood.)

Which is entirely counter to countertrolling's usage.

No, the definition of "rights" has nothing to do with this argument. Substitute "universal entitlement" if it makes you feel better.

You are arguing both sides of the coin. ... You just stated they were granted by the government. Either you are contradicting yourself, or you are equivocating.

My first post made clear that my position was different from countertrolling's. In fact, I'm defending three positions that differ from yours. My post numbered them and labeled them as "possible", so I'm not sure why you didn't get this. There are more than two positions regarding the basis of our rights. And both countertrolling's position as well as all three independent positions I defend make more sense than yours.

If they are granted, it seems to me they are by definition not entitlements.

You seem to have invented your own definition of entitlements. Neither "entitlement" not "right" implies anything about its origin, only its universal applicability.

And people have long argued whether hiroshima was justified. This isnt proof one way or the other.

You were the one talking about the horrors of mass killing for the greater good. You were the one who was trying to use it as proof, not me. In fact, many Christians, perhaps most American Christians, think bombing Hiroshima was justified. So trotting this out as a problem with secular moral reasoning doesn't make sense.

Such polls about religion can be highly misleading in a culture that has raised millions to claim to be christian without knowing what that religion actually teaches

No, such polls would accurately reflect that Christians don't know what their religion teaches. And if Christians disagree over what God wants while God himself maintains radio silence, that means your higher court of appeals doesn't actually help resolve disagreements--at least, not until its too late.

Thats a longer discussion

Really? So much for that "strict ethics even at the expense of the war" thing. In any event, longer discussion is a bad idea. You need to do more listening/reading and less writing/talking.

and hinges on whether you accept what the Bible says as true.

No, one can certainly point out that Bible says evil things without accepting what the Bible says.

And yet, if I remember correctly, the push for abolitionism centered on whether anyone had the RIGHT to own another human being.

Yes, on whether people had the right, not on whether it was included in the definition of what a "right" was.

Then im not at all clear what youre saying

And that's entirely your fault.

because you seemed to spend a large portion of your post defending the idea that rights are granted by the government, and then you claim that this entire discussion is over natural rights

Obviously, rights CAN be granted by the government, or even by individual code of conduct. "Absolute rights" or "natural rights" are special kinds of rights that have a basis other than arbitrary human decision. I disagreed with your claims in two ways--that you equate "absolute rights" and "rights", and that you deny that there could be any basis for rights other than divine will. Look, you need to be better at reading and thinking before I bother with you anymore. Have a nice day.

Comment Re:Unfortunately.... (Score 1) 887

Countertrolling said:

And I understand that absolute rights are determined by pure physics (if you get pushed out of an airplane, you have the absolute right to fall to earth), nothing to do with deities or human 'morality'.

So, absolute rights have nothing to do with human morality. That makes it pretty clear that "absolute rights" aren't what the post was talking about--it seemed to argue that we should make our decision based on what kind of society we would prefer to be. You just misread the post. You're changing the subject, but I'm humoring you so I guess I'm part of the problem.

As to whether the rights are absolute or government granted, the problem is that the "contract" that we have with our government partly includes the provision for judicial review and precedent.

Judicial review determines how laws will be interpreted by the government. It doesn't redefine what words actually mean. Otherwise it would make no sense for SCOTUS to issue dissenting opinions--the majority opinion would, according to you, be true by definition.

That is less than satisfying, because that is not how people use the term "rights"-- it is used in a manner similar to "entitlement" or "guarenteed privilege".

We're talking about the basis for rights, and yes, the argument I use here can uphold entitlements or privileges. We could avoid violence and theft so that people don't have to waste resources defending ourselves individually from these threats. We grant certain rights to the accused so that people will have faith in the rule of law--they'll have confidence that if they live under our laws and work that the fruits of their labor won't be taken away arbitrarily. The meaning of the term "rights" doesn't imply anything about the origin of those rights.

Further, lets say I could demonstrate conclusively that a benevolent dicatatorship that involved a purge of 10million people was the most beneficial to human endeavors (and in certain scenarios, Im sure that is the case).

Not sure that's a great example--in times of war our own government has been prepared to kill hundreds of thousands of civilian non-combatants. Scenarios in which an American president (even a Christian!) would be willing to kill tens of millions of Americans aren't unimaginable (e.g. "Fail-Safe"). I've seen polls showing Christians even more willing to do violent "for the good of the many" actions than nonbelievers. There are interesting arguments to be had here--you can research the difference between Act Utilitarianism and Rule Utilitarianism if you're interested.

Whats best for human males might therefore be large-scale rape and pillage, and the elimination of competitors.

Or best for ancient Israelites, for that matter.

Surely that would not be defined as a right, even if I could demonstrate the above to be true.

No, societies can certainly recognize evil rights--a right to own slaves for example. Like it or not, that is definitely consistent with how the word is used. And this logic you're using doesn't work "even if I could show that assuming X would prove falsehood Y, Y would still be false. Therefore X is false" makes no sense.

Again, the word "rights" is not the same as "wants"; the two words have distinct usage.

"rights" isn't the same as "wants" just like "candy" or "sex" isn't the same as wants. Rights are another thing that people might want--either they want to live in a society where people have those rights, or they want to be the kind of person or culture that treats people with the dignity consistent with those rights.

It would make no sense to speak of rights as restricting others' actions if rights were simply those things you desired to do.

This is doubly false. Society can choose to respect whatever rights it wants to respect. The definition of "rights" or "how the word is used" is not in question here.

Of course, this argument isn't over "rights", it's over "natural rights". And if people had an instinct to respect certain rights of others, or if they were happier for having followed it, then it makes perfect sense to call those natural rights.

And once more, without that theistic higher standard, by what rationale can you declare this to be a universal truth that all have this "instinct"?

You and you're weird height obsession. We don't need Our Tallest to tell us what's in our own heads--if you have the instinct, act according to it. If other people's instinct tells them you're wrong, they'll try to stop you. Sometimes truth comes from within rather than from above.

But if they differ from person to person, it makes no sense to object to ANY action on the grounds of "rights violation", because what might be a sacred right to one might not for another.

We're talking about what rights would be rational to respect. And disagreement over rationality doesn't imply meaninglessness. Experts disagree over business plans and military strategies, that doesn't mean that all plans and strategies are equally valid.

Comment Re:Unfortunately.... (Score 1) 887

The word "higher" is inapplicable--being higher than something doesn't make you more correct than that something. That's an authoritarian mindset.

Again, the claim is that someone acting contrary to natural law is being irrational. You can choose whether or not to take the rational course of action, but you can't choose which action is rational.

Comment Re:Unfortunately.... (Score 1) 887

According to non-theistic natural law proponents, you would appeal to the natural law as other rational beings surrounding you perceive it. It's not a matter of higher and lower authority, it's a matter of correct or incorrect judgment. Note that if all ethical judgments are arbitrary than there's nothing that makes God's judgment any less arbitrary--we would just be compelled to obey it by his greater power and strength.

Comment Re:Unfortunately.... (Score 1) 887

Your post is trying to redefine what the parent said. You're the one talking about "rights in an absolute sense", but that's not the only meaning of the term "rights", and countertrolling made clear that this isn't the meaning he or she is using.

If we as a society have already said that people are entitled as human beings to a certain right, then if we later deny that right we're violating our own word. You can argue whether we really said that in the past or whether we really are denying it in the present, but those are arguments about descriptive facts about the world. (Unless you're gonna get all Wittgenstein on me.)

That said, I can think of several possible non-theist sources of rights other than simple human decision.

1. As others suggested, respecting certain rights may be more compatible with the success of human endeavors. If capitalism works better than communism, that's not a fact that the powers that be can wish away by sheer force of will. (If it were, the Soviets would have wished it away--they had a whole lot of will.) One possible objective basis for rights is rationality--if you would be poorer for not recognizing them, then it's irrational for you to fail to recognize them.

2. One could also invoke rationality in a higher-order sense--if you're a human being, it makes sense for you to do what's best for human beings. Depending on your view of group selection, voter's paradox, Newcomb's paradox, etc you might be forced to acknowledge the Golden Rule.

3. Call it aesthetics, psychology, or herd instinct, but people want to feel good about themselves. Some people might find pleasure in upholding someone else's rights or pain in violating them. We can choose to ignore such instincts, but we can't choose to not have them--at best, we'll have to live with the cognitive dissonance of violating the right while pretending to ourselves that we're still upholding it.

Now you can argue over whether these are "absolute", but the important point is that they are <i>unchosen</i>, at least by the individual. And they aren't really any less absolute than the theist arguments for absolute rights--either doing what God says because He is powerful, doing what He says because we are obligated to obey our Creator, or doing what God says because we love Him.

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