Saturday, October 31, 2009

02 On Cultural Relativism

Relativism is always attributed to others and almost always as a criticism. Like skepticism it has a bad name for some reason. And today we'll talk about cultural relativism, which is more or less equivalent to moral relativism.

One of the interesting aspects of it is, that it is quite new: a product of the 20th century. Of course before the 20th century we find traces of relativistic thinking, but that tends more to skepticism.

At the beginning of the 20th century most people were convinced that that our Western moral values were superior to the moral values of other cultures.

Few thought all moral values had equal or relative validity, or anything of that sort. So we sent out missionaries with mirrors and beads to convert the pagans.

But then came the anthropologists. They were fascinated with the diversity of cultures, and they produced detailed empirical studies of them—especially “primitive,” non-Western ones.

And with them came cultural relativism, the conviction that saying that Western civilization was superior to other "primitive" cultures was sheer respectless arrogance and cultural imperialism.

We find scientists like Ruth Benedict and Margaret Mead on our Path. Ruth Benedict, an influential American anthropologist who lived from 1887 to 1948, specialized in the study of native American cultures.. Margaret Mead studied South Pacific and Southeast Asian traditional cultures.

In 1947, on the occasion of the United Nations debate about universal human rights, the American Anthropological Association issued a statement

declaring that moral values are relative to cultures and that there is no way of showing that the values of one culture are better than those of another.

Or to quote Ruth Benedict herself: "Most organizations of personality that seem to us abnormal have been used by civilizations in the foundations of their institutional life.

Conversely the most valued traits of our normal individuals have been looked on in differently organized cultures as aberrant. Normality, in short, within a very wide range, is culturally defined.

It is a point that has been made more often in relation to ethics. We do not any longer make the mistake of deriving the morality of our own locality and decade directly from the inevitable constitution of human nature. We do not elevate it to the dignity of a first principle.

We recognize that morality differs in every society, and is a convenient term for socially approved habits. Mankind has always preferred to say, “It is a morally good,” rather than “It is habitual,” and the fact of this preference is matter enough for a critical science of ethics. But historically the two phrases are synonymous.

The concept of the normal is a variant of the concept of the good. It is that which society has approved. A normal action is one which falls well within the limits of expected behavior for a particular society." (1934)

Important words of an anthropologist which resound in the statement of 1947. Cultural relativism and along with it, moral relativism, was put on the map.

In moral philosophy we can look at moral relativism from different angles. The first one is the empirical:

As a matter of empirical fact, there are deep and widespread moral disagreements across different societies, and these disagreements are much more significant than whatever agreements there may be.

The second one is the meta-ethical one: The truth or falsity of moral judgments, or their justification, is not absolute or universal, but is relative to the traditions, convictions, or practices of a group of persons.

And the third angle is the implicit normative idea of relativism, that we ought to be tolerant with respect to other opinions and moral ideas.

As you see, cultural relativism is not just a simple observation of anthropologists. We still are allowed to ask, whether they are right or wrong, or to what extend.

To be continued next week…

The Discussion

[13:18] herman Bergson: So much for a start :-)
[13:18] Gemma Cleanslate: it is really easy to agree with all that isnt it but then comes the questiong of "truth " again
[13:18] herman Bergson: yes...
[13:19] Gemma Cleanslate: back to square one
[13:19] herman Bergson: Next lecture I will elaborate in these three ways of looking at cultural relativism...
[13:19] Repose Lionheart: seems like a good corrective to cultural absolutism...
[13:19] herman Bergson: all look plausible, untill you begin asking questions
[13:19] Gemma Cleanslate: yes lol
[13:20] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:20] herman Bergson: But to reveal one secret.....
[13:20] herman Bergson: the end of the discussion is that a number of philosophers support a 'mixed' theory...
[13:21] herman Bergson: the idea that some moral standards are absolute and some relative
[13:21] Gemma Cleanslate: lolololol
[13:21] Repose Lionheart: that seems reasonable...
[13:21] Gemma Cleanslate: oh dear
[13:21] Myriam Brianna: Oo
[13:21] herman Bergson: Yes Repose....I think so too....
[13:21] Repose Lionheart: i love ambiguity
[13:21] Repose Lionheart: grin
[13:22] herman Bergson: the closer you stick to the human being as biological organism the more universal are his traits, I would say
[13:22] herman Bergson: The more you get involved in culture (especially religions) the more relative it all becomes
[13:23] Repose Lionheart: ahhh...i see
[13:23] Kurk Mumfuzz: is there not another angle that can exist within the context of a single culture, and that being situational or conditional relativity...? the notion that normal or routine situations my dictate a certain mode of behavior and other circumstances might allow an entirely different response...? this is not insignificant as much conflict within our culture -- i.e. the polarities -- comes from this...
[13:23] herman Bergson: One problem of our way of thinking is that we LOVE binary is either absolute or relative
[13:24] herman Bergson: If you 'd said it in less words, Kurk, what would you have said then :-)
[13:25] Kurk Mumfuzz: not ok to kill somebody in a "civilized" setting... but might be ok in self defense...
[13:25] Kurk Mumfuzz: ㋡
[13:25] Kurk Mumfuzz: within the same culture...
[13:26] Repose Lionheart: moral obligations contend
[13:26] herman Bergson: but that happens all the time, doesnt it?
[13:26] Kurk Mumfuzz: yeah... so is killing ok...?
[13:26] Gemma Cleanslate: no that is the problem
[13:26] herman Bergson: But that is one of the arguments in support of all weapon possesion in the US...You have to be able to defend your life
[13:27] herman Bergson: Last time I asked the question ...does justified killing exist?
[13:27] Gemma Cleanslate: some say it does some say it does not
[13:28] Repose Lionheart: true
[13:29] Kurk Mumfuzz: well, there is the notion that ethics defines a mode of behavior... may have arisen originally as the prescriptions for survival... so it could go both ways...
[13:29] herman Bergson: Yes....some who tend to support some kind of objectivism in ethics are inclined to believe that there are universal standards
[13:29] oola Neruda: when the culture is divided on a subject then what is the norm?
[13:29] herman Bergson: for instance the preservation of your own life
[13:29] oola Neruda: not even situational... just outright different beliefs
[13:29] herman Bergson: yes oola, when a society is divided on that subject.....
[13:29] herman Bergson: you really get in trouble with moral relativism
[13:30] Repose Lionheart: maybe there are "universalish" standards (grin again)
[13:30] herman Bergson: somehting like that, yes, Repose
[13:31] herman Bergson: This brings up this idea of tolerance which is often associate with moral relativism...
[13:32] herman Bergson: should we tolerate that a group in society thinks that killing is justified.... for instance if it as the death penalty?
[13:32] Gemma Cleanslate: good question
[13:32] Gemma Cleanslate: like here in the usa
[13:32] herman Bergson: exactly
[13:33] Kurk Mumfuzz: that would introduce a number of issues into the discussion to examine justice and just treatment...
[13:34] Repose Lionheart: too much "moral relativism," and greater or lesser degrees of "tolerance" can't be evaluated...
[13:34] Kurk Mumfuzz: and yeah, those would be cultural assumptions...
[13:35] herman Bergson: yes....and accepting relativism doesnt seem to be satifactoy as an explanation
[13:35] Kurk Mumfuzz: exactly...
[13:35] Repose Lionheart: agreed
[13:35] Gemma Cleanslate: who are some of the philosophers that we have studied that advocate relativism
[13:35] herman Bergson: Next lecture I'll give an analysis of the three standpoints I mentioned
[13:36] Gemma Cleanslate: trying to recall
[13:36] herman Bergson: there are so many pros and cons related to them
[13:36] Repose Lionheart: sounds very interesting!
[13:36] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[13:37] herman Bergson: Well I'll reveal in advance already that I am a bit biased.....:-)
[13:38] herman Bergson: I think that this mixed approach, which is of recent date, makes a good chance to stand a test
[13:39] Gemma Cleanslate: i hope the time change will fill the class again
[13:39] herman Bergson: So, I guess I now can thank you for your interest and participation....
[13:39] Gemma Cleanslate: ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:39] Kurk Mumfuzz: ㋡
[13:39] herman Bergson: not much controvery yet , I guess ㋡
[13:39] Repose Lionheart: Thank you!
[13:39] Gemma Cleanslate: not yet!
[13:39] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:39] Repose Lionheart: nope...
[13:40] Gemma Cleanslate: early dismissal
[13:40] herman Bergson: welll..then....class dismissed :-)
[13:40] Gemma Cleanslate: ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:40] Repose Lionheart: Thanks, everyone!
[13:40] herman Bergson: PARTY TIME .....Visit Gemma and Qwark today at 3 PM
[13:40] Kurk Mumfuzz: thank you, all... ㋡
[13:40] Gemma Cleanslate: oh yes
[13:41] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:41] Repose Lionheart: oh...
[13:41] Gemma Cleanslate: hope he makes it by 3!!!

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

01 An Introduction in Modern Theories of Ethics

Today we begin a whole new philosophical adventure. Our goal is to gain insight in the ethical discourse of our time. It will not be an easy journey.

If we look at Western civilization we only can conclude that we hardly can recognize a prevailing moral philosophy. We have Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, a collaped socialist system, an economic system that almost collapsed because of the greed of the few.

We have terrorists of all kinds, fundamentalists, indifferent consumers, only looking for personal pleasure, a decayed influence of churches, a growing influence of extreme right-wing politics and among all this noise we live our life.

I am not at all a pessimist or doomsday philosopher. In fact the world is quite an interesting place to observe. How do we get it organized every day? We do…..

But to find any coherence in all this, to find an answer on the question "What should I do?" , not just a personal answer, but a kind of generally accepted and justified answer, that will be a huge enterprise.

Where it will lead us, what we will gain, I have no idea. Of course, like in all epistemological and philosophy of science debates I have a personal philosophical perspective.

But for me this will be a discovery as much as it can be for you. I have some personal convictions, fundamental philosophical views, but how they will fit in with the ethical discourse of today, I have no idea yet.

Moral concepts change as social life changes. I deliberately do not say "because social life changes," for this might suggest that social life is one thing, morality another, and that there is merely an external, contingent causal relationship between them.

This is obviously false. Moral concepts are embodied in and are partially constitutive of forms of social life. One key way in which we may identify one form of social life as distinct from another is by identifying differences in moral concepts.

Eighteenth-century English moralists and nineteenth-century utilitarians write from within a society in which individualism has conquered.

Hence they present the social order not as a frame- work within which the individual has to live out his moral life, but as the mere sum of individual wills and interests.

Sartre, the prescriptivists and emotivist do not trace the source of the necessity of choice, or of taking up one's own attitudes, to the moral history of our society.

They ascribe it to the nature of moral concepts as such. And in so doing, like Sartre, they try to absolutize their own individualist morality, and that of the age, by means of an appeal to concepts.

And thus there emerges already a philosophical perspective, ethics as an individual responsibility, ethics as conceptually justified or ethics as being embedded and defined by the social framework we live in.

Or we may take it even a step further. We assert things like “Generally speaking, you mustn’t tell lies” and “Cloning humans is a terrible thing and mustn’t be permitted,” and these assertions fail to be true.

They fail to be true not because lying or cloning are really okay, but because they employ predicates like “. . . is forbidden” and “. . . is morally good” which are (in senses to be explored) vacuous.

Roughly, when one reflects carefully on what it would take for an action to instantiate a property like being morally forbidden, one sees that too much is being asked of the world .

There is simply nothing that is forbidden in the specifically moral sense of the word. The thought that morality is a fiction in this way is hardly an original thought,

enjoying a long history that can be traced back through Camus,Wittgenstein, Russell, Nietzsche, Hume, Mandeville, Hobbes.

So, a long journey ahead. A few vague beacons at the horizon to head for, but I think it may be "a long and winding road, that leads to [the] door". We'll see….

The Discussion

[13:17] herman Bergson: So...get ready ^_^
[13:18] herman Bergson: If you have a question or remark...tell us :-)
[13:18] Gemma Cleanslate: I have a feeling it is going to bring on heated discussions
[13:18] Repose Lionheart: Fascinating start!
[13:18] herman Bergson: thank you Repose....
[13:18] herman Bergson: I actually agree with you :-)
[13:19] Repose Lionheart: :))
[13:19] AristotleVon Doobie: morals and ethics...if you could just hold them in your hand :)
[13:19] Gemma Cleanslate: :-)
[13:19] herman Bergson: When I started to prepare for this lecture, digging through a lot of literature to find a good WAS fascinating
[13:20] herman Bergson: Yes Aristotle.....especially in these days where they look like water..
[13:20] AristotleVon Doobie: indeed a great analogy, Herman
[13:20] Frederick Hansome: Professor, would you please distinguish between "morals" and "ethics"?
[13:20] Gemma Cleanslate: I looked at the wiki and also some other sites for an idea of direction but there are many directions
[13:20] Zen Arado: isn't morality just a consensus of a bunch of guidelines that help ppl to live togethter well?
[13:20] herman Bergson: Yes Gemma..I know.....
[13:21] Gemma Cleanslate: maybe that is why we have so much trouble living together Zen
[13:21] herman Bergson: But I realized that it is my personal perspectives that set the direction here.
[13:21] Gemma Cleanslate: globally i mean
[13:22] herman Bergson: It is not that I am so special....but it gives a structure...
[13:22] Repose Lionheart: morality is lived, ethics is the reflection upon that lived experience?
[13:22] Gemma Cleanslate: lol one i hope you can control
[13:22] herman Bergson: The problem is, Zen
[13:22] herman Bergson: that we lack a justification for that consensus
[13:22] AristotleVon Doobie: as long a morals are a consensus, then there will a minrotiy with different morals
[13:23] Zen Arado: just trying to find a start
[13:23] herman Bergson: In the times that the world (Western world) was dominated by christianity there was that justification
[13:23] oola Neruda: may i repeat the question... what is the difference between morals and ethics
[13:23] Gemma Cleanslate: :-)
[13:24] Qwark Allen: ;-)
[13:24] herman Bergson: so one of our big questions is: Is there a common justification for moral views.
[13:24] herman Bergson: Hi Qwark :-)
[13:24] Qwark Allen: Helloooooo!
[13:24] Qwark Allen: Hey!
[13:24] Qwark Allen: ;-)
[13:24] AristotleVon Doobie: Q-man :)
[13:24] Zen Arado: should it be a practical justification?
[13:24] herman Bergson: And I think that it is our present task to find one
[13:24] Zen Arado: or an abstract theory?
[13:24] Qwark Allen: nice to be back
[13:25] herman Bergson: That is hard to say at this point, Zen...
[13:25] herman Bergson: We only know that we have lost that justification ground of christianity...
[13:26] herman Bergson: but that happened only 150 years ago or so
[13:26] Zen Arado: but moral guidelines are in all religions
[13:26] herman Bergson: Say...with Darwin
[13:27] Zen Arado: and are similar
[13:27] herman Bergson: Yes...they are....what at least gives us a start with the observation that the human being is a moral animal
[13:27] Zen Arado: some seem obvious
[13:27] herman Bergson: well....there the questions begin......what is obvious for instance?
[13:27] Lovey Dayafter: moral - principles, standards, or habits with respect to right or wrong in conduct; ethics.
[13:28] AristotleVon Doobie: I suspect that religion only attempts to manipulate and use mroal code to maintain power, historically be must successful than contemporairy
[13:28] Zen Arado: do not kill, steal
[13:28] herman Bergson: Yes Lovey....and what is right and what is wrong?
[13:28] AristotleVon Doobie: more*
[13:28] Zen Arado: though how you interpret is not obvious
[13:28] herman Bergson: It isnt that simple Zen.....
[13:28] Zen Arado: I know
[13:29] Zen Arado: just thinking....
[13:29] herman Bergson: When you have to keep your children alive and the only way to get food is stealing, what would you do ?
[13:29] herman Bergson: The US still has a death penalty...
[13:29] herman Bergson: in war people kill
[13:29] herman Bergson: does justified killing exist?
[13:29] AristotleVon Doobie: religion is not the originator of himself is responsibility for ethical thought and then his reasoning right and wrong
[13:29] Zen Arado: there are exceptions...thats why they can only be guidelines
[13:30] herman Bergson: I agree Aristotle
[13:30] Repose Lionheart: me too
[13:30] Myriam Brianna: hello all
[13:30] herman Bergson: But there again we have a problem Zen
[13:30] herman Bergson: exceptions....
[13:30] Zen Arado: but man is the originator of religions too :)
[13:30] Lovey Dayafter: Hi:-)
[13:30] herman Bergson: who decides what the exceptions are?
[13:31] Repose Lionheart: we do by our best lights
[13:31] Zen Arado: we have to make a decision in the experience
[13:31] herman Bergson: No Repose...'we' do not exist :-)
[13:31] Repose Lionheart: ahhh...
[13:31] Repose Lionheart: I do...
[13:31] herman Bergson: If death penalty is an exception, it is not you who decides about the justification
[13:32] herman Bergson: But you could demonstrate against it for instance
[13:32] Zen Arado: ah yes that is a state policy
[13:32] Lovey Dayafter: are u against the death penalty?
[13:32] Zen Arado: yes Herman
[13:33] AristotleVon Doobie: hhmmm, all states are representative of their citizenry
[13:33] herman Bergson: Am I against death penalty.....?
[13:33] Zen Arado: law is morality frozen into rules
[13:33] herman Bergson: yes..I am....for when even one innocent person is killed by it we are murderers
[13:33] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:34] Zen Arado: yes
[13:34] Zen Arado: miscarriages of justice
[13:34] Gemma Cleanslate: i believe that too
[13:34] AristotleVon Doobie: Florida executes folks so I am just as guilty
[13:34] Repose Lionheart: and the state should not have the power to kill...
[13:34] Gemma Cleanslate: so many executions are now being proven wrong
[13:34] Gemma Cleanslate: by dna
[13:34] Qwark Allen: omg
[13:34] Gemma Cleanslate: wrong person
[13:34] Lovey Dayafter: so all murdrerers should be let free to kill millions of innocent people then?
[13:34] herman Bergson: On the other hand...people that are sentenced to death are that vicious that they have to be removed from society, but not by killing them
[13:34] AristotleVon Doobie: all have the poser to kill, not one has the right
[13:35] AristotleVon Doobie: power
[13:35] Gemma Cleanslate: that is ok with me'
[13:35] Gemma Cleanslate: but then there are those that think humans should not be caged
[13:35] AristotleVon Doobie: laws are instituted to protect society from harm
[13:35] Lovey Dayafter: people are never removed they are put back into society
[13:35] herman Bergson: That might be true, Gemma, but I would see it the other way around....
[13:36] herman Bergson: society should be protected against certain individuals
[13:36] Zen Arado: what do you mean by 'new'ethics Herman?
[13:36] Gemma Cleanslate: i know i believe that also
[13:36] herman Bergson: Did I say "new" ethics?
[13:36] Zen Arado: seems to me we bring back o;d theories of morality
[13:36] Zen Arado: modern theories?
[13:37] AristotleVon Doobie: and then there is the advent of false evidence and mistaken eyewitnesses.....who can justifiably condemn a person to death?
[13:37] Repose Lionheart: science sometimes offers new input into ethics
[13:37] herman Bergson: With modern theories I mean the answer on contemporary developments
[13:37] Zen Arado: oh how Repose ?
[13:37] Zen Arado: ok Herman
[13:37] herman Bergson: one of the major issues here is the meaning of the evolution theory
[13:38] Repose Lionheart: well, the physiological development of the brain
[13:38] Repose Lionheart: implies a moral development, too
[13:38] herman Bergson: and the position of the human being in this world in relation to that
[13:38] AristotleVon Doobie: yes Repose
[13:38] Zen Arado: doesn't explain behavior though?
[13:38] AristotleVon Doobie: and it is that evolutionary transformation that allows for civiliation
[13:38] Repose Lionheart: no, not fully, or so I believe...
[13:38] herman Bergson: That is one of those issues, Repose..
[13:39] herman Bergson: did we developed a 'better' moral sense through the ages?
[13:39] herman Bergson: ith there evolutionary ethics for instance
[13:39] AristotleVon Doobie: the evolutionary state of the brain explains good and bad behavior
[13:39] AristotleVon Doobie: good
[13:40] Zen Arado: does our understanding of the mechanism of evolution change our moral beliefs?
[13:40] Repose Lionheart: yes, deep questions, for sure
[13:40] herman Bergson: that is one of the questions I hope to deal with Zen...
[13:40] AristotleVon Doobie: it does for me, Zen
[13:40] herman Bergson: it is a fascinating question
[13:41] Zen Arado: ok how?
[13:41] Lovey Dayafter: i don't think we've developed morally
[13:41] herman Bergson: well Lovey, I wonder....
[13:41] Gemma Cleanslate: oh wowo to some extent we have
[13:41] herman Bergson: yes Gemma I would agree with you
[13:41] Zen Arado: I think it only helps us understand why we behave certain ways
[13:42] Zen Arado: not whether or not that is a good way?
[13:42] Gemma Cleanslate: or do we behave certain ways because of it
[13:42] AristotleVon Doobie: we have been transformed from animal to human because of hte evolutionary development of our cerebral cortex
[13:42] herman Bergson: We may be still the same greedy and selfish animal, but we have learnt to control oursels, unless you are a banker :-)
[13:42] Gemma Cleanslate: ah yes ari
[13:42] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:42] Zen Arado: :)
[13:42] AristotleVon Doobie: yes, Herman .....control
[13:42] AristotleVon Doobie: we can control that primal self
[13:42] herman Bergson: in a way control in this context is another word for ethics
[13:43] Lovey Dayafter: i'm not an animal
[13:43] AristotleVon Doobie: we know what is right and wrong
[13:43] Lovey Dayafter: never have been never will be
[13:43] AristotleVon Doobie: we are all half animal still
[13:43] Lovey Dayafter: haha
[13:43] Startwinkle Aya: only in your opinion do you think you know right from roung
[13:43] herman Bergson: I know what you mean, Lovey
[13:43] AristotleVon Doobie: you just keep yours caged better :)
[13:43] herman Bergson: Non of us is an animal in a literal sense
[13:43] Lovey Dayafter: haha
[13:44] herman Bergson: We are only pixels actually ^_^
[13:44] Lovey Dayafter: haha
[13:44] AristotleVon Doobie: lol
[13:44] Repose Lionheart: we're animals and something more...
[13:44] Zen Arado: I thought evolution shows we are just another species of animal?
[13:44] Repose Lionheart:
[13:44] Myriam Brianna: no, we have strong emotional markers on acts and non-acts that let us think of them as right or wrong. No knowing there. And we have less control than we think - as empirical psychology shows
[13:44] AristotleVon Doobie: if you have ever been so angry you had to walk away, you were control that beast
[13:44] Lovey Dayafter: you can be an animal if you want to lol
[13:44] herman Bergson: But no kidding...we have the same biological structure as a lot of other primates
[13:44] Gemma Cleanslate: even as mice
[13:44] Repose Lionheart: evolution is a creative process...we're something new
[13:45] Repose Lionheart: deeper
[13:45] herman Bergson: those others we call animals , what they call idea:-)
[13:45] Zen Arado: we elevate our own qualities
[13:45] Zen Arado: make a distinction
[13:45] Lovey Dayafter: why animals, why not gods?
[13:45] Repose Lionheart: possibly
[13:45] AristotleVon Doobie: our power to reason elevates us up above the animals
[13:45] AristotleVon Doobie: I am god too :))
[13:46] Gemma Cleanslate: :_))
[13:46] Lovey Dayafter: oh you're everything lol
[13:46] Zen Arado: if we regard reason as all important
[13:46] AristotleVon Doobie: I am the center of my universe , yes
[13:46] Myriam Brianna: no, we are animals that (sometimes) have the power of reason
[13:46] Lovey Dayafter: haha
[13:46] Zen Arado: which we do :)
[13:46] Qwark Allen: heehheheh
[13:46] AristotleVon Doobie: :)
[13:46] Gemma Cleanslate: lolol
[13:46] herman Bergson: least we are biological organisms
[13:46] Repose Lionheart: agree with
[13:46] herman Bergson: so..controled by biological processes
[13:47] Myriam Brianna: i.e. animals
[13:47] AristotleVon Doobie: yes Herman
[13:47] herman Bergson: right myriam....or plant...
[13:47] Repose Lionheart: yes..can start there
[13:47] Lovey Dayafter: i'll look up human and animal in the dictionary
[13:47] Myriam Brianna: no contradiction in being human _and_ an animal
[13:47] Zen Arado: I think ppl just used evolutionary theory to excuse bad behaviour
[13:47] herman Bergson: no ...not at all
[13:47] Zen Arado: like social Darwinism
[13:47] Myriam Brianna: Human: Primate, ... etc
[13:47] Repose Lionheart: sometimes, for sure...
[13:47] Gemma Cleanslate: really zen???
[13:48] Repose Lionheart: eugenics
[13:48] Zen Arado: yes
[13:48] Repose Lionheart: excuse for racism
[13:48] Frederick Hansome: social Darwinism is a fallacy
[13:48] Zen Arado: that too Repose
[13:48] AristotleVon Doobie: animals innately know how to survive as do wee....we have the great power to reason which controls (hopefully) rampant survival inclinations
[13:49] Qwark Allen: and exterminate most of them
[13:49] herman Bergson: We can not deny that our mind makes the difference..
[13:49] Qwark Allen: ,-)
[13:49] Zen Arado: our ability to reason makes us very powerful
[13:49] AristotleVon Doobie: powerful and dangerous LOL
[13:49] Zen Arado: but also gives great responsibility
[13:49] Repose Lionheart: morality and ethics may not just function as social controls
[13:49] herman Bergson: powerful....? I would start with 'different' :-)
[13:50] Zen Arado: we are so powerful we can wreck this planet
[13:50] AristotleVon Doobie: no, Repose I think they are self-rewarding
[13:50] Repose Lionheart: there may be something innate that gets occluded by social expectations
[13:50] Lovey Dayafter: animal - a brutish or inhuman person, beast
[13:50] Frederick Hansome: I would still like to be able to distinguish clearly between morality and ethics
[13:50] AristotleVon Doobie: we pride ourselves on how ethical and moral we are
[13:50] Gemma Cleanslate: well there are those who will not let us wreck it
[13:50] herman Bergson: I would say, that we lack the power to prevent this to happen, Zen :-)
[13:50] Repose Lionheart: self-rewarding?
[13:51] Repose Lionheart: i don't understand
[13:51] Zen Arado: wonder how much morality is innate how much conditioned...
[13:51] AristotleVon Doobie: sure, everything we do is based on the 'self'
[13:51] Repose Lionheart: oh...i think i see
[13:51] herman Bergson: Ok, Zen.....after this project we might have a better insight in that question
[13:51] AristotleVon Doobie: morality is not Innate
[13:51] Repose Lionheart: ahhh...but it might be
[13:52] AristotleVon Doobie: it is nurtured
[13:52] Zen Arado: psychopaths don't have much innate morality
[13:52] AristotleVon Doobie: either externally or internally
[13:52] herman Bergson: As I said in my lecture...morality is a social phenomenon...
[13:52] Repose Lionheart: ohhh...that's true Zen
[13:52] AristotleVon Doobie: psychopaths are defective
[13:52] Repose Lionheart: yes, i see
[13:53] Zen Arado: still feel some is innate
[13:53] Startwinkle Aya: are they broke? or missing something?
[13:53] AristotleVon Doobie: nothing innate but survival skills
[13:53] Zen Arado: has genetic advantages
[13:53] Qwark Allen: most of time its a defect at neurotransmittors
[13:53] AristotleVon Doobie: yes, they are defective brainly
[13:53] Startwinkle Aya: so basicly then no helping them?
[13:54] Zen Arado: ability to co-exist well has genetic advantages?
[13:54] Qwark Allen: medication helps
[13:54] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[13:54] Startwinkle Aya: i disagree
[13:54] Repose Lionheart: no cure though
[13:54] Startwinkle Aya: medicine are just bandaids
[13:54] AristotleVon Doobie: I think medication can cover up some of the defects
[13:54] oola Neruda: there are some people who actually do not have a conscience…
[13:54] Qwark Allen: no cure so far
[13:54] Zen Arado: would psychopaths agree to meds? think not
[13:54] AristotleVon Doobie: ahhhh, where does conscience come from?
[13:55] Qwark Allen: depends on the issue on defect
[13:55] Myriam Brianna: yes Oola. No "interior" even. People who would easily pass a Turing test, but no test of "morality"
[13:55] Startwinkle Aya: i think the drug companies have fooled people into being drug adics
[13:55] Qwark Allen: all are different
[13:55] oola Neruda: literally.. built in... born with... no conscience.. they are very scary... when you meet one
[13:55] AristotleVon Doobie: is the the results of ethics/morals?
[13:55] Startwinkle Aya: they drug your children to send to school
[13:55] AristotleVon Doobie: you are not born with a conscience
[13:55] herman Bergson: Let's not get lost in extremes and exceptions
[13:55] Gemma Cleanslate: good idea
[13:55] Startwinkle Aya: nods
[13:55] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:55] Gemma Cleanslate: we will never get anywhere
[13:55] Zen Arado: could be too much moral conditioning?
[13:56] AristotleVon Doobie: it is so interesting Herman ...all the connections :)
[13:56] Zen Arado: nanny state?
[13:56] Startwinkle Aya: i think so
[13:56] herman Bergson: Well...I think you now have a taste of what is ahead of us....
[13:56] AristotleVon Doobie: :))
[13:56] Zen Arado: a maze :)
[13:56] Repose Lionheart: great stuff
[13:56] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:56] herman Bergson: A lot of questions are boiling up ...
[13:56] Gemma Cleanslate: maze good
[13:56] Lovey Dayafter: is there something we can look up for next week?
[13:57] Zen Arado: BBC prog called the 'Moral Maze'
[13:57] Gemma Cleanslate: really??
[13:57] Repose Lionheart: aptly titled!
[13:57] Lovey Dayafter: what are we doing next time?
[13:57] Zen Arado: radio prog on BBC4
[13:58] herman Bergson: For next class (Thursday) you could do some readings on (cultural) relativism.
[13:58] Gemma Cleanslate: ok
[13:58] Zen Arado: ha ha have a book on it :)
[13:58] Gemma Cleanslate: wiki has
[13:58] herman Bergson: In our blog there are already a few lectures on relativism too
[13:58] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[13:58] Gemma Cleanslate: next week everyone will be back on track with the time like abraxas lol
[13:59] herman Bergson: We dealt with relativism already
[13:59] Gemma Cleanslate: one hour late
[13:59] Lovey Dayafter: haha
[13:59] herman Bergson: that next week?
[13:59] Lovey Dayafter: better late than never
[13:59] Zen Arado: it is interesting subject
[13:59] Gemma Cleanslate: we change here on sunday morn like you did last week
[13:59] herman Bergson: I must say that this time we managed quite well
[13:59] Gemma Cleanslate: still have to gt thru thursday lol
[13:59] herman Bergson: I recall giving two classes once...
[14:00] Gemma Cleanslate: i remember
[14:00] AristotleVon Doobie: sorry folks I have to take off....great class Professor
[14:00] Qwark Allen: :-)
[14:00] AristotleVon Doobie: good bye all
[14:00] herman Bergson: at 1 PM and 2 PM...due to that timeshift ado
[14:00] Qwark Allen:Bye !
[14:00] Gemma Cleanslate: yes time
[14:00] Qwark Allen: ari
[14:00] Abraxas Nagy: bye Ari
[14:00] Myriam Brianna: by Aristotle
[14:00] Qwark Allen: nice to see you back to
[14:00] Gemma Cleanslate: Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!!
[14:00] Gemma Cleanslate: herman
[14:00] Justine Rhapsody: bye everyone
[14:00] AristotleVon Doobie: :))))
[14:00] Qwark Allen: abraxas m8
[14:00] Zen Arado: yes thanks Herman and everyone for discussion
[14:00] herman Bergson: SO thank you all for your participation again
[14:00] Abraxas Nagy: Hey Qwark m8
[14:00] Repose Lionheart: Thank you, Professor!
[14:00] Qwark Allen: you got one hour late
[14:00] Qwark Allen: eheheheh
[14:00] herman Bergson: Class dismissed :-)
[14:00] Abraxas Nagy: hello everybody

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

16 Aren't paradoxes fun?

Suppose you have already published the first volume of your opus magnum and are almost ready with the second volume.

Then you receive a letter in which the writer explains that there is a problem in the system you just have developed: a paradox!

That is what happened to Gottlob Frege in 1902. He had developed a completely new symbolism and had attempted to derive, by use of his symbolism, all of the laws of arithmetic from axioms he asserted as logical.

He thought he had succeeded in his project and then came this letter from some wisely, named Bertand Russell from the UK. It must have been a real shock.

Before receiving the famous letter from Bertrand Russell informing him of the inconsistency in his system, Frege thought that he had shown that arithmetic is reducible to the analytic truths of logic

A paradox is an argument that derives or appears to derive an absurd conclusion by rigorous deduction from obviously true premises.

Let's take the popular description of what Russell showed Frege. The barber of Seviella is the only barber in town who shaves all men who don't shave themselves.

And who shaves the barber? If he shaves himself the thesis is not true, for then the barber shaves a man, who shaves himself too.

If he keeps his beard, then the barber doesn't shave all men who don't shave themselves. Again the thesis is untrue.

His wife!!!! His wife shaves him! That doesn't help for then the barber does not shave all men who don't shave themselves either.

This is what Russell found out when he strictly applied the rules, which Frege had formulated. Well, no this barber story, but something which sounds more mathematical.

How Russell professionally would have said it about the paradox concerning the set S of all sets x such that x is not a member of x. He would ask: is S a member of itself? A moment’s reflection shows that S is a member of itself if and only if S is not a member of itself - a contradiction.

Due to a renewed interest in logic and the decline of Aristotelian logic around 1900 paradoxes became a well known companion in the logical discourse.

The most devastating paradox is this simple sentence: "This statement is not true."

A variation Russell describes: take a piece of paper and write on it:

"What is written on the backside of the paper is not true". Then turn the paper and write there the same statement. Then start pondering about the truth of the statements.

For 2300 years now philosophers are puzzled by this paradox. Yes, that long, for it were again the Greek, who loved to think about paradoxes.

These are what we cal logical and semantical paradoxes, but you have all kinds of (seemingly) paradoxes in all kinds and flavors. Wikipedia offers you a wide range.

Not only in logic and semantics you run into paradoxes. Also ethics confronts you with serious problems.

Suppose it is a fundamental principle of yours that you never will steal. Your fellowmen are not that ethical. They steal really everything, also all the food.

When you stick to your moral rule, you will starve to death. On the other hand to survive you have to steal food too.

And those who have attended a long range of lectures here certainly remember how we time and again ran into the paradox of thought about thought.

Our attempts to measure the ruler in my hand with the rule in my hand. It has something to do with Tarski's Undefinability Theorem.

It is about what he calls semantically closed or not closed languages. Informally, the theorem states that arithmetical truth cannot be defined in arithmetic.

When you take the statement "This statement is not true." then, to keep it simple, this "true " should be semantically a word of a higher level, which makes it possible to refer to that statement, so to speak a word from another language.
Like in "Es regnet hier" is German.

So Tarski, like we did several times, concluded that you can not express everything regarding truth values in a natural language like English.

This suggested to him that English itself may not be semantically closed, or, if English is closed, then it is self-contradictory.

This shocking result indicates to some that our thought about our thoughts is incoherent.

And here we see the true value of paradoxes in philosophical thinking. It is a lot of fun to puzzle and try to figure out a solution,

but in essence they show us the incompleteness of the functioning of our mind, our thinking and reasoning.

The Discussion

[13:26] herman Bergson: so much on paradoxes
[13:26] herman Bergson: this was the last lecture in the series on Adventures in Thinking...
[13:27] herman Bergson: if you have any questions or remarks, feel have the floor
[13:27] Kurk Mumfuzz: are you suggesting that paradoxes make ethical relativism an acceptable form of thought... that, for example, it is ok in SOME cases to steal to survive, say...? and if so, where are the limits...?
[13:27] herman Bergson: A good question....
[13:27] Paula Dix: hi all :)
[13:27] Frederick Hansome: Is it that the human mind has difficulty in wrapping itself around something that is "true" and "not true" at the same time, or is it just a problem with the language?
[13:27] Abraxas Nagy: Hey Paula
[13:28] Lovey Dayafter: Hi:-)
[13:28] herman Bergson: One thing seems apparent and that is that we cant create a consistent 'ethical calculus" so to speak
[13:28] herman Bergson: I think that this does not imply an argument for ethical relativism
[13:29] Kurk Mumfuzz: butitis used that way...
[13:29] Kurk Mumfuzz: witness american politics...
[13:29] Kurk Mumfuzz: hehe..
[13:29] herman Bergson: I see....
[13:30] Ludwig John: to avoid paradoxes in ethics therefore it is the best to have not so strict principles
[13:30] herman Bergson: If you would accept that view than all rulings of courts are just plain relativism too
[13:30] Kurk Mumfuzz: but that is inherent in the administration of "justice", is it not...?
[13:31] herman Bergson: No I wouldnt agree with that...
[13:31] herman Bergson: In the first place you have a definition of being human
[13:31] herman Bergson: from there you start to build your epistemological and ethical identity, I would say
[13:32] herman Bergson: For instance..the definition asks for a meaning of life
[13:32] herman Bergson: a meaning of being a social individual
[13:33] herman Bergson: so ...before you come to the question what is right and what is wrong you have to answer al lot of other questions first
[13:33] Kurk Mumfuzz: there is the cynic in me that suggests that law does not define what is right and what is wrong but, rather, what we (or a privileged few) can get away with...
[13:33] herman Bergson smiles
[13:34] herman Bergson: I don think that that is the starting point of the law giver....but maybe that of those who have to obey the law
[13:34] Kurk Mumfuzz: and therein are found many paradoxes...
[13:34] Ludwig John: life itself is paradox: I have to kill other beings in order to survive ?
[13:35] Lovey Dayafter: doesn't each individual decide what is right and wrong?
[13:35] : llStopAnimation: Script trying to stop animations but agent not found
[13:35] Lovey Dayafter: decide
[13:35] herman Bergson: If it were only the individual you can join Kurk in his relativism
[13:35] Paula Dix: lol kurk, a friend here says the same, laws are made so riches can stay rich
[13:36] Lovey Dayafter: i don't want someone deciding for me
[13:36] herman Bergson: got some point there...
[13:36] Kurk Mumfuzz: anybody paying attention the creation of law in the US will affirm that, paula... „ã°
[13:36] Kurk Mumfuzz: unless they were part of it... *laughs*
[13:36] Lovey Dayafter: where r u from Kurk?
[13:36] Paula Dix: lol
[13:36] herman Bergson: Let me give you a Dutch example in this context.....
[13:37] Paula Dix: i guess anywhere its the same...
[13:37] Kurk Mumfuzz: san francisco... the left coast of the US... „ã°
[13:37] herman Bergson: They have reformed tax laws here such that as a citizen you hardly had posts you can use for tax reduction...
[13:37] Lovey Dayafter: don't use the US as example
[13:37] herman Bergson: They never did such a reform for the Multinationals....
[13:38] Paula Dix: lol herman this is looking like brazil!
[13:38] herman Bergson: Result..the citizens pay taxes...the Dutch multinationals keep 16 billion dollars a year in their pockets by legal tricks
[13:38] herman Bergson: It is a known fact
[13:38] Frederick Hansome: left coast? Only if you are considering it from a certain perspective
[13:39] herman Bergson: and not a paradox at all...
[13:39] Kurk Mumfuzz: ??
[13:39] herman Bergson: But I want to get back to the subject.....the epistemological meaning of paradoxes for philosophical thinking
[13:39] Kurk Mumfuzz: yes..
[13:40] herman Bergson: that is what I find most interesting actually
[13:40] Paula Dix: it means our thinking is flawed?? in essence we cant really be "right"?
[13:40] herman Bergson: well...within given contexts we can think perfectly and correct without flaws
[13:41] Paula Dix: but not in a whole
[13:41] herman Bergson: otherwise we werent able to land a man on the moon for instance
[13:41] Paula Dix: lol yes
[13:41] herman Bergson: Yes..Paula...the overall system doesnt seem to be waterproof..
[13:41] Paula Dix: i mean, it means the whole of universe isnt really a whole, some "pieces" are missing from the "puzzle"?
[13:42] herman Bergson: I dont know....
[13:42] herman Bergson: but I come to another observation....
[13:42] herman Bergson: the more symbolic the language is we use, the more accurate we can be...
[13:42] herman Bergson: I mean ..
[13:42] oola Neruda: poetry
[13:42] oola Neruda: art
[13:43] Paula Dix: ah, interesting!! I knew there was a reason for me to choose art :)
[13:43] herman Bergson: everything that is describable mathematically against what only cna be expressed in language
[13:45] herman Bergson: matybe a matter to look into
[13:46] herman Bergson: At least natural language is less efficient than mathematics
[13:46] Paula Dix: i wonder if this "problem" is human only or general...
[13:46] herman Bergson: general in what sense. Paula?
[13:46] herman Bergson: That your dog has the same problem?
[13:46] Paula Dix: like if any intelligent aliens would find them too :)
[13:46] Paula Dix: lol
[13:47] Kurk Mumfuzz: some languages seem to be very figurative (english for example has many words to express the same things, some with nuance and some with none) and other languages, particularly asian languages based on "pictures" tend to be more literal... is one laguage in an advantage over another...?
[13:47] Lovey Dayafter: if we knew what aliens thought
[13:47] herman Bergson: Yes..that is what I wondering about myself too now and then
[13:47] oola Neruda: excellent point Kurk
[13:47] Paula Dix: oh, our dog here is amazing, she saw the cat running and being able to pass thru the bars on the window so one day she tried running and jumping... got a nice cut on her nose :)))
[13:47] herman Bergson: I would say all languages have the same semantical problems
[13:48] oola Neruda: i am not so sure they do
[13:48] Myriam Brianna: no, I would say they have different semantical problems :)
[13:48] oola Neruda: agreed
[13:48] herman Bergson: Well the question this kind of problems inherent to intelligence in general..
[13:49] herman Bergson: Here you run into the paradox of thinking again I am afraid
[13:49] oola Neruda: i think our view of the world is very much a part of our language... and vice versa
[13:49] oola Neruda: and as Kurk said... there is a concreteness to the asian languages... that the romance languages do not share
[13:49] Paula Dix: yes, how we think before we can talk??
[13:49] herman Bergson: Yes….and we can not think about thinking from outside thinking
[13:50] Kurk Mumfuzz: the impact of language on culture is significant... and that has a lot to do with the way we thin... i think...
[13:50] oola Neruda: nods
[13:50] herman Bergson: Or should we say...the impact of culture on language is significant?
[13:51] Kurk Mumfuzz: maybe...
[13:51] Paula Dix: lol a case of feedback?
[13:51] herman Bergson: maybe the chicken- egg paradox?
[13:51] oola Neruda: they probably affect each other
[13:51] Kurk Mumfuzz: hehe...
[13:51] herman Bergson: does language create our world or does our world create language?
[13:52] Lovey Dayafter: what do you think?
[13:52] Paula Dix: lol biologists says the egg came first, the chicken is just an egg carrier :)
[13:52] Lovey Dayafter: the egg had to come first
[13:52] herman Bergson: Anaximander 600 BC already thought about that..
[13:52] herman Bergson: he asked..where did the egg come from?
[13:53] Lovey Dayafter: does it matter?
[13:53] Paula Dix: my bet would go to paradoxes being universal...
[13:53] Kurk Mumfuzz: we need language to make our world meaningful... but what we find in our world often prompts the creation and expansion of language...
[13:53] oola Neruda: this will sound strange... but consider the way maps came into being... is it not a bit like how language came into being
[13:53] Myriam Brianna grumbles - I wish you all a good time. Gotta go *waves*
[13:53] oola Neruda: out of necessity
[13:54] Paula Dix: bye Myriam!
[13:54] herman Bergson: Bye Myriam...
[13:54] Ludwig John: we have our language to describe and explain the world
[13:54] Paula Dix: its language is built in in the brain
[13:55] Paula Dix: all humans have it
[13:55] herman Bergson: And in the context of todays's lecture we see that language is an incomplete system
[13:55] Paula Dix: and most probably many other species also
[[13:56] Paula Dix: exact, its imprecise... but it wonders me that math is also like that!
[13:56] herman Bergson: So…always work to do for a philosopher
[13:56] Paula Dix: lol
[13:56] Kurk Mumfuzz: hehe...
[13:56] Lovey Dayafter: you will always have a job to do
[13:56] herman Bergson: So I would saugest to conclude that we have to stay sharp and philosophical
[13:57] herman Bergson: as paradoxes show is that there are some flaws in our system
[13:57] herman Bergson: But we can live with them perfectly
[13:58] herman Bergson: For we stall havent solved the Lair paradox after 2300 years and we are still here
[13:58] Lovey Dayafter: what is the next discussion about?
[13:58] herman Bergson: This weekend I will do the final count on the voting...
[13:59] herman Bergson: at the moment most votes go to the Modern theories of Ethics
[13:59] Kurk Mumfuzz: (sorry, folks, gotta go... thanks for an interesting hour... )
[13:59] Paula Dix: yes, its really amazing that we can go to the moon even with paradoxes showing the system has flaws!
[14:00] Paula Dix: bye Kurk
[14:00] Ludwig John: bye I have to go too - good night
[14:00] herman Bergson: Well Paula, in former lectures we already had concluded that there is no absolute truth and yet some things are true
[14:00] Paula Dix: bye ludwig
[14:00] Frederick Hansome: Thanks, herman
[14:00] Violette McMinnar: good night all
[14:00] : llStopAnimation: Script trying to stop animations but agent not found
[14:00] herman Bergson: Bye Ludwig
[14:01] herman Bergson: Thank you all.....class dismissed for today

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

15 How do I discover fallacies?

All cows have four legs. My table has for legs, so my table is a cow and because cows give milk, my table will give milk too. It wont take much to discover why this is an invalid argument.

However, there are many fallacies that are much meaner and harder to discover. And even when you find one……when you are in the audience, believe me, 90% of the audience will be applauding. Take this one for instance.

"If science admits no certainties, then a scientist has no more certain knowledge of the universe than does a Hottentot running through the bush."

This is true, but is intended as an abusive analogy so that the hearer will be more sympathetic to the possibility of certain knowledge.

The fallacy is a subtle one because it relies on the associations which the audience make from the picture presented.

Its perpetrator need not say anything which is untrue; he can rely on the associations made by the hearer to fill in the abuse.

The book "How to win every argument - the use and abuse of logic" by Madsen Pirie (2006) teaches you more than 75 different fallacies, with which you can trick your audience.So let's look at some more good old fallacies.

The local taxes went up and see!, that same year the crime rate went up too. They never should have increased the taxes! Applause !!!! However, this is the famous post hoc propter hoc fallacy.

I means that two events happen after each other, but the speaker suggest a causation. It is what Hume already said about causality. We only see that B happens after A. And we are easily inclined to say that A CAUSED B.

Terrible things may happen because of this fallacy. Every evening your husband comes home late from work, the wife of your neighbor gets home a few minutes later. Has happened now three times….. Up to you to make up the rest of the story.

Let's do a card trick. I show you four cards. Now, what is the quickest way to test the truth of the next thesis: Of these four cards, cards with a vowel have an even number on their backside.

The cards show : E - F - 2 - 5 What do you say…………….?

You may be inclined to suggest E and 2, but you should have turned E and 5. If there is an uneven number at the back of E the thesis is wrong.

If you turn the 2 there has to be a vowel at the back according to the thesis, so you are just confirming, what you learnt from turning the E.

You have to turn the 5 to see if there isn't a vowel at the back. If that were so, the thesis is false too.

A politician running for major claims that lowering the taxes will lower vandalism against municipal property. His assistants do research and indeed find a number of towns where taxes were lowered and vandalism decreased.

What is doing the trick here, is that we seem to have a natural inclination to look for confirmation of our ideas, but Karl Popper has taught us

that confirmation of a hypothesis only increases probability, but never makes it true. So, don't look for confirmation only, but especially for refutation of your ideas.

When we allow people to choose the gender of their unborn child, the next thing they will ask is to be allowed to choose the color of the eyes, and in no time we'll have 'design babies'.

This is an often used fallacy. We even have a saying for this on: Give him a finger, and he'll take the whole hand in no time. The same fallacy in a popular proverb. You could call it the domino fallacy.

The improper dilemma is beloved by politicians..….. Either we cut down on social welfare or the government will get into the red figures. And that we can not allow. Therefor we have to cut down expenses on social welfare. This is a period of global crisis, so we all have to be willing to make a sacrifice.

The second half of this text (crisis) is in fact a second fallacy, a red herring, trying to set the hounds (audience) on the trail of a continued debate about the crisis, so that the real issue - a cut in expenses for social welfare - is forgotten.

Does this one ring a bell….ever heard such a kind of statement? You are with me or against me! An other one famous in this category: the improper dilemma.

These past few weeks the numbers 3, 7 and 28 appeared time and again in the Lotto results, so I wont use them now. Or as the gambler says….I have lost 10 times in a row now, so the next game I certainly will win.
The gambler's fallacy.

God must exist!
It is what the bible says.
How do you know that the bible is reliable?
Because it is God's word, of course!

John is always honest to me.
How do you know that?
Tom told me.
How do you know Tom isn't telling lies?
Jane told me!
And how do you know that Jane is honest?
From John, he told me.

A classic: the circular reasoning ……

Listen, John is playing the piano. When he feels happy , he always plays the piano. Oh, am I so glad John feels happy again…..

Elas, the correct reasonig should be: if John feels happy, he plays the piano. John feels happy so he plays the piano.
Confirmation of the consequence doesn't make the antecedence necessarily true. So maybe John is still unhappy, even while he plays the piano.

What did I say in the beginning, more than 75 ways to fool your audience? You see how easy it is to use these tricks in political speeches and manipulate the audience.

In writing you have to hide your fallacies much better, for the written words stay and can be read and reread. Eventually they will catch you…:-)

So…good luck to you all in these matters ^_^

The Discussion

[13:25] Paula Dix: oh, that explains, so many neurolinguistics seminars and few books
[13:25] herman Bergson: This was to give you a taste of verbal manipulation possibilities
[13:25] herman Bergson: who knows, Paula :-)
[13:25] Paula Dix: lol
[13:26] Myriam Brianna: but in speech: Hide them better than your opponent, and expose his. If you are out to "win" an argument, that is
[13:26] herman Bergson: Great strategy Myriam
[13:26] herman Bergson: at least it implies that you have to be smart for that
[13:27] Sunfire Langer liked that Myriam put win in "inverted commas"
[13:27] Frederick Hansome: Here's another: "Cheer up" a friend told me, "things could be worse." So I cheered up, and sure enough, things did get worse!
[13:28] herman Bergson: well Sunfire, you are right, but we are constantly exposed to those fallacies
[13:28] Sunfire Langer: constantly?
[13:28] Paula Dix: lol frederick
[13:28] herman Bergson: lol....that is no fallacy....just the truth
[13:28] Myriam Brianna: they are in part inbuilt. Us falling for them, I mean
[13:28] Sunfire Langer: I'm not convinced
[13:29] herman Bergson: Yes Myriam, like we are inclined to look for confirmation, not refutation....
[13:29] herman Bergson: Cognitive dissonace isnt appreciated either
[13:29] Myriam Brianna: and I do think that it is a good idea to train yourself in sophism / rhetorics in general. Being able to consciously use fallacies to your own advantage makes it perhaps more likely to spot them, when it is of importance
[13:29] Paula Dix: like that guy who says thats safer to buy a gun than building a pool since more children die in pools than being shot??
[13:30] herman Bergson: A great one Paula...
[13:30] Sunfire Langer: I agree with using the knowledge to not be fooled by it. But I'm wary of using it to deceive others
[13:30] herman Bergson: Well Myriam, you could read the book I mentioned...more than 75 tricks...and classics :-)
[13:31] herman Bergson: The problem is Sunfire....
[13:31] herman Bergson: when you are in front of an audience, like politicians,
[13:31] Paula Dix: how can we train ourselves? debates?
[13:31] Repose Lionheart: maybe an imagination in evil is req
[13:31] Myriam Brianna: hehe, Schopenhauer created a "textbook" for the dishonest argumentator
[13:31] Repose Lionheart: o be good...
[13:31] herman Bergson: and your opponent uses these fallacies all the time while you dont
[13:31] Repose Lionheart: sorry
[13:31] herman Bergson: you will loose the debate, I would think
[13:32] Daruma Boa: hehe
[13:32] Repose Lionheart: maybe an imagination in evil is required to be truly good
[13:32] herman Bergson: Schopenhauer did, Myriam...that is fun..we should search for it
[13:32] Repose Lionheart: so learn to use fallacies to avoid them
[13:32] Sunfire Langer: then let politicians use this for swaying opinion if that is what we want. I dont think its the business of philosophers to be deceitful
[13:33] Paula Dix: on the contrary, the idea is being conscious of them
[13:33] herman Bergson: No is a philosophical business to expose these tricks
[13:33] Repose Lionheart: yes, conscious fof them...
[13:33] Repose Lionheart: of
[13:33] herman Bergson: yes...and it is pretty difficult
[13:34] herman Bergson: And where did Sunfire go.....or did he crash?
[13:34] Paula Dix: all the time i dislike something someone said but cant say why
[13:34] Paula Dix: i guess he crashed
[13:34] herman Bergson: In a way I hope so :-)
[13:34] Daruma Boa: *GIGGLES* :)~~~~
[13:35] Paula Dix: lol he is offline... :)
[13:35] itsme Frederix: thats nice about sl, you always can crash instead of loosing the debate
[13:35] Paula Dix: lol
[13:35] Abraxas Nagy: lol
[13:35] Repose Lionheart: lol!
[13:35] herman Bergson: lol....great isnt even dont need a fallacy for that
[13:35] Abraxas Nagy: hahaha
[13:35] Daruma Boa: thats not nice
[13:35] Daruma Boa: +i
[13:36] herman Bergson: Actually Itsme uses a fallacy...
[13:36] itsme Frederix: which does not include Sunfire did it that way !
[13:36] herman Bergson: an abusive analogy actually
[13:36] Paula Dix: lol yes
[13:36] herman Bergson: There you didnt imply him, but the audience hears something else
[13:36] itsme Frederix: the problem might be .. from now on everything is interpreted as a .. fallacy
[13:37] herman Bergson: isnt that itself a fallacy?
[13:37] itsme Frederix: I quit
[13:37] herman Bergson: the kind of domino fallacy?
[13:37] Paula Dix: there is a list of fallacies on wikipedia!
[13:37] herman Bergson: oh yes...
[13:37] Repose Lionheart: oh, good
[13:37] Heinzi Gabe: on the other hand ... how can we decide wether its an abusive argument or valid? maybe the claim is correct and A leads to B in a specific case
[13:38] herman Bergson: I would suggest we all pracice the use of fallacies :-)
[13:38] Paula Dix: yes we have to practice!!
[13:38] herman Bergson: yes is not a matter of fact tho it is suggested that way
[13:39] itsme Frederix: The point might come up, that you yourself are only fallacy
[13:39] herman Bergson: that cant be....
[13:39] Myriam Brianna: "Schopenhauer - Eristische Dialektik. Oder: Die Kunst, Recht zu behalten" (dunno what it would be titled in English)
[13:39] herman Bergson: if all is a fallacy there is no fallacy
[13:39] itsme Frederix: thats a fallacy
[13:40] Abraxas Nagy: haaaahaaaahaaaahaaaahaaa
[13:40] herman Bergson: lol
[13:40] Paula Dix: lol
[13:40] Myriam Brianna: ^^
[13:40] itsme Frederix: which does not mean my statement becomes true - but it overcame one falsification
[13:40] herman Bergson: I thought that this subject wouldnt give rise to much debate, but this debate is really fun and instructive
[13:41] Paula Dix: yes!
[13:41] Daruma Boa: die kunst recht zu behalten is that the next lesson??^^
[13:41] Frederick Hansome: I think it is more important to be abl;e to recognize a fallacy than to practic it
[13:41] herman Bergson: No the next class will be on a creepy thing: paradoxes.
[13:41] Repose Lionheart: agreed
[13:41] Abraxas Nagy: ah nice
[13:41] herman Bergson: there were our understanding ends:-)
[13:42] Daruma Boa: so cool!
[13:42] Daruma Boa: ah, thats
[13:42] Paula Dix: lol
[13:42] Daruma Boa: i love paradoxes
[13:42] Repose Lionheart: yes, interesting topic
[13:42] Abraxas Nagy: very
[13:42] herman Bergson: they are the greatest challenge for us :-)
[13:42] Myriam Brianna: well, making yourself conscious of something is always a dangerous thing. But worth it. In language: Not to be led around by a leash (formed out of linguistic structures and our in-built biases), but to lead on a leash
[13:42] itsme Frederix: there are some classic ones, always interesting though
[13:43] herman Bergson: yes Itsme...:-)
[13:43] herman Bergson: So for the next lecture....practice fallacies to solve a few paradoxes :-)
[13:43] Paula Dix: lol
[13:43] itsme Frederix: Herman you most certainly know that Russell classified a lot of paradoxes and came up with a language for them
[13:43] Abraxas Nagy: ah yes
[13:43] Repose Lionheart: :))
[13:44] Myriam Brianna: ^^
[13:44] Daruma Boa: aways do every day^^
[13:44] Daruma Boa: +l
[13:44] herman Bergson: Yes, Russell was one of the best in it
[13:44] itsme Frederix: and failed
[13:44] Daruma Boa: *GIGGLES* :)~~~~
[13:44] herman Bergson: yes unfortunately..:-)
[13:44] itsme Frederix: well looking forward, understanding afterwards
[13:44] herman Bergson: ok :-)
[13:44] Daruma Boa: true itsme
[13:45] herman Bergson: then I thank you all for this very entertaining discussion...
[13:45] herman Bergson: and I hope that you're more aware of fallacies now :-)
[13:45] itsme Frederix: well I just parafrased about life,: living forward, understanding backward
[13:45] Paula Dix: :))
[13:45] Repose Lionheart: Thank you, Professor
[13:45] Daruma Boa: is there another way itsme?
[13:46] itsme Frederix: Herman THX, each time (well most) it's a good time spend here
[13:46] Heinzi Gabe: and enjoy the presenece, itsme
[13:46] itsme Frederix: keeps me sharp
[13:47] herman Bergson: Yes...lest begin with enjoying the presence ^_^
[13:47] herman Bergson: Anyone wants a beer? ^_^
[13:47] Paula Dix: :)))
[13:47] Daruma Boa: mmh, yes me
[13:47] Abraxas Nagy: gimme 3
[13:47] Daruma Boa: but i have only wine in rl here
[13:47] Frederick Hansome: Yea!!!
[13:47] Abraxas Nagy accepted a beer.
[13:48] Daruma Boa accepted a beer.
[13:48] Myriam Brianna raises the Belgian beer she enjoys at the moment - cheers
[13:48] Abraxas Nagy: ah ty Herman
[13:48] itsme Frederix: that questing might have been retoric
[13:48] Draft Beer whispers: CHEERS!
[13:48] Draft Beer whispers: CHEERS!
[13:48] Daruma Boa: cheers^
[13:48] Draft Beer whispers: CHEERS!
[13:48] itsme Frederix: Myriam good idea, I've a bottle of Maradouce somewhere.

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