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Comment Re: most researched subject in the field. (Score 1) 285

At best, an adherent to your system could say “according to how the majority of people’s appetites seem, it is probably wrong to murder.”

Not at all, in several ways. One, majoritarianism doesn't matter. Nobody gets to tell anybody else that their appetites are aberrant and don't count; the objective good must account for all appetites, just like the objective truth must account for all observations.

Second, this seems to confuse what an appetite is: I can't have an appetite about whether or not it is wrong to murder you, so it's not like it would be possible to even have a unanimous-minus-one consensus of appetites that murdering the one objector is good; appetites aren't desires, or intentions, they're experiences. The most relevant appetites in determining that matter are those of the would-be victim, and the job of the rest in trying to answer the question of whether murdering them is OK would be to consider what it's like to be murdered and it that seems good or bad according to their hypothetical appetites as the hypothetical victim. In more contentious cases you'd want to actually go and experience the thing someone else experiences and see if that feels good or bad to you in those circumstances, but with something like there's experience enough to draw from to make that inference without further testing -- we've all been injured at some point or another, to some extent or another, and we know whether that feels good or bad, and since murdering someone would involve injuring them we can conclude a lot about it without having to be murdered ourselves, obviously.

Third, there don't have to be broad absolute rules for things to be objectively true or false, so the conclusion wouldn't even need to be "murder is (probably) wrong", but more along the lines of "it is usually wrong to murder"; it might be (though in the case of murder, it isn't) the case that some times a thing is right to do and some times it's wrong, but each particular case is objectively right or wrong, even though there isn't a pattern to them -- or rather, even though that pattern isn't the one that applies to them.

On top of all that it assumes uniformity of nature when your system can’t provide an absolute basis for that either. You have to accept it as an axiom to even begin to use your system.

Every system must take some things as axioms. I actually kind of misspoke when I called it an axiom of my system earlier though, as it's not taken without any justification, it's taken as a consequence of even more fundamental principles. Even these aren't really the ultimate starting point, but those more fundamental principles are essentially: we ought to try to figure out what's true and false, good and bad, etc; and to try try anything, we must assume neither success nor failure is inevitable. Denying uniformity of nature would mean failure at figuring out what's true and false was inevitable, so consequently we cannot deny it. (The deeper principles still answer the question of why we ought to figure out what's true or false, good or bad, and the answer to that is essentially that no matter what we do, we're attempting in one way or another to employ truths as means to achieve good ends, so no matter what we do it behooves us to figure out what's true and false, good and bad).

I believe that a consistent materialist worldview does reduce to skepticism.

It's interesting that you read my Codex, because just the other day I was thinking "wow, this guy is a walking almost-self-admitted example of my contention in the Codex that fideists are just nihilists hiding behind God, and nihilists are just godless fideists". (Of course that last part isn't very new, Neitzsche concluded more or less that, but that's not well-known about him). You and a nihilist (or radical skeptic if you like) share so much philosophical framework in common, and it all looks equally faulty to me; it hardly makes any difference that you believe in God and a nihilist doesn't, because introducing God into the picture doesn't fix the problems with the underlying philosophical framework. Take ethics for an example. Even supposing God exists, and that we have any way to know that, how does that ground morality? I ought to do something... because a book says that God commands that I do so? First of all how do I even know that book accurately conveys the word of God? God says it does? According to whom? The book in question? But even supposing the book can be taken as reliably reporting the commands of God: why should I do what he says? Why is that good? Should I just do whatever anybody says? If not, what's special about God? Is it because God is all poweful and will punish me if I disobey? Should I do anything that anyone sufficiently threatening says, in that case? (Also, in that case you've reduced your morality to egoism, and as just appealing to my own self-interest now). Or is it because God supposedly created me and I owe it to him? Well for one, owing is a moral concept, so how are you grounding that? And furthermore, my parents were at least intermediary creators of me, does that makes me beholden to their every command (so long as it doesn't contradict God's, I guess)? Or is it rather because God is all good and it's contrary to his nature to issue bad commands? Setting aside how we would know that, what does it mean to say that "God is all good" if "good" just means "in accordance with God's commands"? Is it just that God is consistent with himself? Should I then obey the commands of anyone who's consistent with themselves? No? Why not? (And even if it were yes, still I'd ask: why?) If God is good by some other standard besides just obedience to his own commands, then that standard is where you've really grounded your notion of morality, and God is just an intermediary conveying truths about that to you. And then we're back to where we started: where does that standard of morality come from? And at that point, why do we need God for it anymore? If we're evaluating God himself by that standard, it's clearly independent of him.

And so you end up in what seems more like blind faith because you don’t want to be a skeptic.

That's a lot coming from a theist, especially one whose theism is so central to their entire philosophy and not merely incidental. But to the extend that there's any truth to that claim, if I have "blind faith" in anything, it is "faith itself", though I'd rather say "hope itself" to avoid other connotations of the word "faith". My personal motto is "fortasse desperato sed conor nihilominus", which is Latin for "it may be hopeless, but I'm trying anyway". It all boils down to that pragmatism. We're alone in the dark -- or at least we might be, we have no sure way to tell -- and we have no idea whether there is any truth or falsehood, goodness or badness, or if everything is just a meaningless amoral chaotic figment of our own possibly-non-existent imaginations. Maybe there's no sense at all to be made. Ab initio we have no idea, and no way of even trying to get an idea; from that place of absolute nothingness (which we can arbitrarily plunge anyone into with an infinite regress argument), there's no way possible to prove, one way or another, even whether it is possible to prove things one way or another, much less if there is anything to be proven one way or another. We just don't know, at all, and have no way of knowing, and all we can do to start with is assume; everything else, if there is anything else, follows from those first assumptions. We could assume certain answers at random, and dust off our hands and call it done, but then we might be wrong on our first guess and never correct ourselves. We could assume there are no answers at all, and give up, and sit in the dark moping in despair, or thrashing about meaninglessly. Or we would assume that there are some answers, but admit that we have no idea what they might be, take a stab in the dark at what they could be, try as best as we can continually forever to find and fix and faults in those guesses, and hope that in time we make progress at figuring things out. We're going to assume something or another, all equally with no basis. So why make any assumptions other than the ones that, if acted upon, give you some hope, some chance of success, if there is any chance to be had. There might not be, you might just be fucked anyway, but that's not the way to bet.

You don't have to have faith in the supposed truth of some specific answer just to trust that there is some answer or another out there to be found and then go about looking for it.

Comment Re: most researched subject in the field. (Score 1) 285

To say that something seems good or seems evil implies that goodness or evilness exists. Though moral judgments can be made prescriptively, you have used these terms descriptively through this conversation. If you claim it exists...

This is the fundamental thing that I think is at the root of a lot of philosophical issues, ethics especially. The truth of a proposition only implies anything about the existence of something if the proposition is saying something about what does or doesn't exist, and not all propositions do that. We casually use the word "exist" in modern English in places where strictly speaking we probably shouldn't, and to avoid obnoxious circumlocutions I let myself do that too, like I have been in this conversation. But in an ideal language we wouldn't do that.

For analogy, consider the proposition that 2+2=4. Where is the number two? Where is the number four? Do numbers "exist", at least in the same way that rocks and trees and tables and chairs do, and if so, where, or what other objects constitute their existence? Does there need to be some singular cosmic table of addition somewhere out there to make propositions about addition true? It seems kind of a nonsense question. We can say true things about the relations between different quantities of things without there needing to be a, or the, number two out there somewhere. Because despite the superficial grammatical appearance of it, the proposition 2+2=4 isn't attempting to describe concrete facts about the world, but rather just the relations between concepts, that might or might not apply to any things that actually exist. Mathematicians can and frequently do just make up conceptual structures that so far as anyone knows have no bearing on reality, and then figure out true statements about those structures' relations to other structures.

I'm not saying that ethical propositions are the same kind as mathematical ones, but just that, like mathematical ones, they're not the same as the kind of propositions as those that that tell us things about real rocks and trees and tables and chairs and the like. Mathematical propositions are just an example of another kind of proposition that isn't like that, and doesn't depend on things actually existing to be true, even though we casually use the word "exist" when talking about them.

Of course there are mathematical Platonists who think that there really is such a thing as the number 2 that actually exists in some immaterial realm of forms, but I think that's just another prime example of this kind of confusion. Not all sentences have to be reduced to descriptions of the world to be able to be true or false.

Reductive materialists take all propositions to be trying to describe what exists, then say that only that matter exists, which gives absurd results. People like you do the same reduction of all propositions to descriptive ones, and then appeal to all kinds of immaterial things existing to avoid that absurdity, just falling into a different one instead. I say not all propositions reduce to descriptive ones -- when it comes to descriptive ones, yeah, the only kind of stuff that exists is "material", broadly speaking (physical), but there's lots of important things to talk about besides what does or doesn't exist.

How do you objectively ground prescriptive statements?

How do you objectively ground descriptive statements? This is a major point here and maybe I breezed past it too quickly before. People disagree about what is or isn't real, all the time -- maybe a little less now in the scientific era, but in ancient times especially, look at conflicting creation stories from different religions for a great example. Religions aside, people look at things with their subjective senses and make immediate subjective judgements about what is or isn't true based on those. People aren't even born with the concepts of object permanence and three dimensional space -- young children actually have to learn over time the idea that when a ball disappears behind a chair it hasn't ceased to exist, that the world is not just the flat 2D sensory impression that they see right now at this moment but that it extends in space and time and that the parts that they see right now aren't thereby more real than the parts that other people in other places and times can see. And then even when they have that, it takes even adults quite some time and effort to get used to the idea that their immediate judgements about what is or isn't true based on what they have senses so far are not indisputable. (The parable about the three blind men and the elephant illustrates this well, I think; the one touching the trunk thinks it's a snake, the one touching the tail thinks it's a rope, the one touching the leg thinks it's a tree, because from the limited amount of sensory information they have about it, it sure seems like those things to each of them -- and they're all right, each part of it sure seems that way; now what could possible seem that way to all three of them at once? Maybe an elephant?) And then it's taken all of humanity thousands of years to figure out a way to reliable mediating the disputes that arise out of that realization. And still hardly anyone, even philosophers who study this stuff, can put forth a better rebuttal to infinite regress arguments than "if you keep asking questions of things you don't honestly doubt then you're just being an asshole, stop it".

That last bit is also really important. Say you tell me something is true, about the world and what exists in it. I question your assertion, ask you why would you believe it; why should I believe it? So you tell me something else, and say that that something else implies the first thing. Assuming your inference is valid and I've nothing to question there, I can still then ask of that something else, why do you believe that, or why should I believe it. You can tell me something else to justify that, but I can keep doing this forever. At some point I start to sound like an obvious troll doing this just to be a pain, because at some point you get down to screams of exasperation like "just look at it! you can see it for yourself!" but I can still say "why should I believe my eyes?" and things like that, and carry it on to whatever level of absurdity I want. You need an unquestionable (or at least unquestioned) descriptive proposition to start from to build a justification for any other descriptive proposition (just like you need a prescriptive or moral proposition to start from to build a justification for any other prescriptive or moral proposition). If we were to say that we shouldn't believe anything unless we can justify it from the ground up, then this problem would leave us concluding that we shouldn't ever believe anything at all, because justifying anything from the ground up is impossible, there is no ground, it's turtles all the way down.

One important response to that is the one taken by Kant, echoed somewhat by Popper but largely ignored even (or especially) by lots of self-proclaimed rationalists: you don't have to justify your beliefs. Believe whatever you want, and that's fine, by default. Ab initio anything is possible so every belief is epistemically permissible. But even then, to retain any degree of rationality and not be reduced to effective nihilism by another route -- the nihilism of saying, rather than "no beliefs are true", instead saying "all beliefs are equally true", which is to say "not really true at all, they're just opinions, all equally baseless" -- we need some way of saying, even if all beliefs are justified by default, that some of them can be shown to be unjustified, or maybe it'd be better to say "dis-justified"; disproven, falsified, even if nothing can be positively proven or verified. In doing that, the burden is on whoever wants to change someone else's mind, and say that their prior beliefs are false; and the only ground they need to do that is common ground. Sometimes a lot can be done without any common ground just by showing that even if you shared all of your interlocutor's assumptions, you could use some of those assumptions to show the others (or some conclusions) to be false; disproof by contradiction. But beyond that, you just have to appeal to something you both agree on, and show how that implies things contrary to what they believe. It doesn't matter how fundamental that level of agreement is. But if the disagreement is wide enough, or your interlocutor is just contrary enough, you may end up having to go very, very deep, and the deepest you can get is down to the sensory level: ask them whether certain very basic things just seem true or false to their own senses, in the same circumstances, etc etc as I described before, and whatever agreement you can find there, that is what you ultimately have as common ground to build on, nothing more. And if they still say "yeah it seems that way to me but I don't believe it!" then they're just giving up on any hope of discerning truth from falsehood and retreating into their own fantasy land where you'd be right to ignore them. If they don't give up but just say that no, it really doesn't seem that way to them on that most fundamental level, then you've got a really thorny problem to solve, but that brings us back to the pragmatic issue: do you assume that this is an insurmountable problem, and give up, and guarantee you never solve it, or do you assume it's mere a problem you haven't solved yet and keep trying to figure it out?

The point of all that being, descriptive matters face all the exact same problems as prescriptive ones. Yet most people think the obviousness of reality's objectiveness is unquestionable except by the most pedantic of philosophical trolls, and still many of those same people happily apply the exact same troll logic to try to question the equally "obvious" objectivity of morality. No duh, most people will say, the world you see with your eyes and such is real, and not just your subjective perception of it. But how is not equally "no duh" that suffering is bad and flourishing is good? In some sense neither of them is a "no duh" -- there wouldn't be need for all this philosophizing about it if they were -- but to the extent that either is problematic, so is the other, and to the extend that one is a "no duh" matter, so is the other. And if the problems one faces are surmountable, so are the problems the other faces.

What makes a certain appetite seem good or bad?

The appetite is the seeming-good-or-bad experience. Pain is the quintessential example: pain just can't help but seem bad. In a very fundamental way, painfulness is kind of the essence of badness.

Why should we pay attention to flourishing and suffering?

Why should we believe our eyes?

You even state “never positively affirming one specific model to be the absolute indisputably correct one, but continually and forever narrowing in on a smaller and smaller set of models that might be correct.” This system is not a reasonable basis to make objective claims about morality

You're confusing certainty with objectivity. We don't have to be able to say that some specific thing is, with absolute certainty, the right thing, to be able to say that there is some right thing or another, whatever it may be. You can't even have an argument over what it might be if you deny the latter. Then again you can't even have an argument about what it might be if you assume with certainty what it is, either. Which is sort of another way of framing my whole philosophical paradigm. We need to be able to argue about what's right or wrong, true or false, good or bad, in order to figure out the answers to those questions, and if we either assume some specific answer or that there is none, then we won't, and we can't. The cost of that is that we can never, ever be absolutely certain, but we can get continually more and more certain, closer and closer to the right answers, which is a lot better than being stuck with however right our wrong the first conclusion we jumped to happened to be, or worse still, be guaranteed wrong by rejecting all conclusions.

Comment Re:Skinny? (Score 1) 107

You call $30/mo skinny? $30 for a lifetime is skinny..

Well, compared to the average US cable bill which is WELL over $100/mo.....$30 a month is skinny!!

Don't get me wrong, I like a bargain as much as anyone and am always looking for a good deal. Even though I make a healthy living, I try not to over pay for things. I look for bargains on everything I, clothes, toys...etc.

However, most all LEGAL things have a price, and you decide what is and isn't reasonable.

I don't mind paying for things that are valuable to me, as that I know other folks have to make a living too.

However..if $30 a month for a TV service is too MUCH for you to afford, then I suggest your time would be better educating yourself or working harder to get a better paying job so that $30 isn't a burden for you to pay a month after necessities of life.

Comment Re:Non sequiturs? (Score 3, Insightful) 125

The unnecessary use of at best slightly applicable philosophical terms made me do a double-take too, but after applying the principle of charity (another philosophical concept: try to interpret a text in such a way as it makes the most sense possible) I think that they were going for is "positivism" as in "verificationism" as in "only the things we can (easily) measure matter" as in "all we care about are the numbers (that we've chosen to care about, e.g. the number of people on our mailing list, and not any of that hard-to-quantify-but-maybe-more-important stuff)", and then "utilitarianism" as in "the ends justifies the means" as in "it doesn't matter what else (e.g. that hard-to-quantify stuff) we have to sacrifice, we'll do anything to get our special chosen numbers higher!"

Comment Re:cost too mcuh (Score 1) 108

Yeah, but at least you get an SD card slot (I think they skipped that with the S6). And a headphone jack. I'm sure Samsung is planning a UFS slot in their next phone, which will completely blow the iPhone out of the water. Apple really needs to start giving people what they want if they want to grow their market and start capturing die-hard Android users.

Comment Re:Samsung tablet user still waiting for Android 6 (Score 1) 108

Updates are the exact reason I left Android and I'm not going back until the problem is fixed. My last phone was Android 2.3 when I bought it, and it was only released 6 months before Android 4 came out. I never saw a single update to that phone. And it was an LG with the Google logo engraved on the back, so you think that Google, or LG, or somebody would stand behind the phone and offer updated software. But nope. Not a single update.

Comment Re:Scottish so can't vote but... (Score 1) 463

The problem at the moment is that to do such we need to get something through Congress - either a law, or (more likely) a constitutional amendment. And the people who benefit most from the current system are those currently in Congress.

Heck, we can't even get every American citizen a representative in Congress because it doesn't benefit Congress. (Washington D.C., the 22nd largest city in the country, has no representatives in Congress because it's not a state. To get it representatives would require an amendment - which no Republican will vote for because it's one of the most heavily Democratic areas in the entire country.)

Comment Cut my service by 2/3 yesterday (Score 1) 68

From 197 (not even near a full package) to $70 with tax.

That's $50 for 25mb plus 10 for basic cable & hbo plus 10 for taxes.

It's a one year deal with a contract that runs 1 year (I was very specific- no 1 year deals with 2 year contracts).

Can't tell the difference.

That's about 1500 per year. That's a ski trip. maybe 2 with buds. Or it's a new car every decade.

Submission + - US Government to Pay $2 Million for Automatic Hacking System (

An anonymous reader writes: At this year's DEF CON security conference, DARPA has organized a CTF match of AI systems that will attempt to hack opposing systems and automatically patch and protect their own network. The competition follows classic infosec CTF (Capture The Flag) game rules, but because we're talking about AI, it requires half the time and ten times more security vulnerabilities to fix/protect.

Three DARPA-funded teams qualified for the final round, and four self-funded teams. Each team that reached the final will receive $750,000, and the winner will receive $2 million. DEF CON organizers have invited the winning team to participate in the official DEF CON CTF the following day, marking the first ever CTF match that pits human hackers against AI systems.

Comment Re:"What Difference Does It Make?!?!?!" (Score 1) 693

Agreed. And there is a very disturbing tone.

Extreme commitment combined with strong cognitive dissonance.

Sort of like the republicans who are homosexual who condemn homosexuals.

It's kind of like the stockholm syndrome.

What I don't understand is christians lining up behind him.

Matthew 16:26 - Bible Gateway

What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?

Comment Re:"What Difference Does It Make?!?!?!" (Score 1) 693

Our standing with all but 10% of other countries has increased enormously under obama's terms of office.
Those countries are notable for almost all being our direct competitors and enemies.

The u.s. can't do it alone. The u.s. had no hope of winning ww2 alone.

The u.s. military has repeatedly lost battles started by overconfident cowboys who ducked military service when it was their turn.

The U.S. military itself says it can win one war where it has overwhelming numbers and where we are committed to have soldiers die on the ground.

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