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Re: FT

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  • walto
    ... That analogy is problematic for a number of reasons. It s entirely off-topic for this forum, but as you ve brought it up I ll briefly try to explain why.
    Message 1 of 111 , Nov 16, 2012
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      --- In LandCafe@yahoogroups.com, "mattbieker" <agrarian.justice@...> wrote:
      > --- In LandCafe@yahoogroups.com, "walto" <calhorn@> wrote:
      > >
      > > I'm not industrious enough to point out all the instances of the genetic fallacy in Roy's comments below. I just point out that whenever one wants to suggest a new meaning for some term already in use the burden is always on him to show why such a change would be better. It doesn't matter where the current usage came from or where his new one was developed. All that is actually irrelevant.
      > >
      > > W
      > I don't think he's really trying to redefine "rights," so much as he is trying to present an alternate hypothesis for their basis. To follow his "memory" analogy, we all know what memories are, but science has provided a better understanding of their basis, and what they are in actual reality.

      That analogy is problematic for a number of reasons. It's entirely off-topic for this forum, but as you've brought it up I'll briefly try to explain why.

      First, I'll waive all the difficulties surrounding the claim that some memory that someone has just IS a "memory trace" (some neurological feature of the brain). For the sake of argument, I'll assume that your memory of a cow in a meadow a couple of miles from the house you grew up in is simply identical to something in your brain, in spite of the fact that, leaving out politics, religion, and other valuative fields, it's hard to come up with any claims that are as controversial. The literature on it is absolutely humongous and there's nothing like a growing consensus on the matter. But, as I said, let's let that go and just assume it's right.

      How was this identity shown? What was the research project that demonstrated it? There were correlations between the occurrences of various memories and memory traces of various kinds (and in various places). When traces were removed, the memories would disappear and when new memories were made, new traces were discovered. In fact, it seemed there was more than a correlation: a good case for a causal connection had been made.

      The next step was to argue that parsimony required the application of Occam's Razor. We could claim that, while memories display intentionality (i.e. are OF things like cows) and pieces of grey matter don't seem to be, no explanatory power is lost by claiming an identity. The terms may not mean the same thing, but they may (like "water" and "H20" or "Cicero" and "Tully" refer to the same items anyhow. Thus, from zinging rat brains, do we finally get to the proposition that your memory of that cow is nothing but a memory trace in your head.

      Now we turn to the claim that a natural right (say to some amount of land) just IS some sort of evolutionary success (or success story or something else--the claim has never been made very clearly here). What will be the analogous research program that will produce evidence of this theory?

      The first and foremost obstacle to their being any such program is that, unlike in the case of memories, there is a reasonable doubt that there are any such things as natural rights to be shown to be identical to ANYTHING. Nobody doubts that there are memories of cows, but lots of people doubt that there are natural rights. So before any research program can be developed to show that what these thingies are can reasonably be asserted to be identical to some other things (or events, or values, or stories, or whatever it is exactly that Roy or anybody else is claiming that they are identical to) there must first be some demonstration that there's anything there at all? What is there identity criteria. When do we have one natural right, and when two?

      Of course, there are BELIEFS in natural rights, but we're not here interested in a theory of where those came from (that's the genetic fallacy at work) or what those mental events may be identical to. Presumably the similar sort of program that we used for memories may be engaged to push the identity of beliefs with neurological processes. But our claim is not about the beliefs. Beliefs in unicorns and lollipop fairies may also succumb to that research program: but that wouldn't show that the entities to which such beliefs refer are actually in the world. That is the nature of intentionality--beliefs may be false.

      Anyhow, that's enough for now. The point is, even granting the memory/memory trace identity (and that's generous), it doesn't take any claims about natural rights very far.

    • Harry Pollard
      JDK, Those who survive are presumably the fittest to survive for the fittest just describes those who have survived. With regard to your last sentence –
      Message 111 of 111 , Nov 23, 2012
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        Those who survive are presumably the fittest to survive for the "fittest" just describes those who have survived.

        With regard to your last sentence – Stalin got there first.


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        On Sun, Nov 18, 2012 at 9:54 AM, JDKromkowski <jdkromkowski@...> wrote:

        Evolution is not really: the survival of the "fittest" It is just survival of that which survives. Evolution is a way of describing the process of how variation within a population will lead to variation eventually of species.  There are plenty of genes along for the ride which are not particularly "the fittest".  

        Yes the survival of the two apostolic lungs of Christianity (Catholics and the Eastern church) despite its massive weakness and in fact embracement of weakness of the god who becomes human and is rejected and put to death is a puzzle and crazy on its face. It drove Nietzsche crazy (well that and syphillus drove him crazy).  It also drove the communists crazy too.   Massive defense? How many tanks does the church have?


        Sent from my iPad

        On Nov 16, 2012, at 11:26 PM, "mattbieker" <agrarian.justice@...> wrote:


        --- In LandCafe@yahoogroups.com, John David Kromkowski <jdkromkowski@...> wrote:
        > On Fri, Nov 16, 2012 at 12:01 PM, mattbieker <agrarian.justice@...
        > > wrote:
        > >
        > > The catholic church has one real function: serving the clergy. When it
        > > was able to, it dominated a large swath of the earth in an imperial form.
        > > It can't now, so it fills out whatever niches it can; but the main thing is
        > > ensuring that members of clergy don't have to go and get real jobs.
        > >
        > Thanks for sharing this one too. I'm getting better picture of Land Cafe.
        > It really is best if we get it all out in the open. It's for the same
        > reason I won't hide my background.
        > This isn't a cocktail party, where we need to avoid the topic for
        > charitable purposes - or at least for the purposes of not interfering with
        > mutual love of beer or gin or your choice. I'd still have a beer in
        > Baltimore (once), with any of you clowns.
        > JDK

        *shrugs* Whatever one thinks of Roy's evolutionary basis for morals, I think there's fairly clearly a pseudo-evolutionary basis for ideas and institutions. Dawkins made this case in his "The Selfish Gene." Basically, ideas are duplicated, with variation, in the minds of individuals; from there, it's survival of the fittest. The conceptual equivalent to a gene being a "meme." Why do religious institutions survive despite being a load of crap that generally act as a drain on society? They're very advanced critters in the world of memes; they've evolved a whole host of defenses to offset their massive weaknesses, such as the notion that it's not polite or even acceptable to question a man's faith, or that without beliefs in these memes, we have no basis for social behavior.

        Catholicism isn't necessarily the most egregious case of this sort of memetic virus (that has to go to Scientology, don't you think?), but that's what it is, and all the bottom line of them all is the same: enrichment (both financial as well as emotional) of clergy. Still and all, its senseless and generally ad-hoc opposition to contraception, even in the light of AIDS epidemics, is horrible enough in and of itself to give me a fairly thoroughgoing distaste for it in particular, and I'd pretty much rather not see any meme I deem useful or good to be mixed up with it.

        Personally, I think one of the best parts of online discussion is that there's less tendency to hold back one's beliefs; many lament this, saying that the internet just makes everyone rude because they don't fear social repercussions, but I believe there's inherent value there, as it allows for a more rapid evolution of memes. The noise and nastiness comes with the territory, and I think people will just eventually find a new normal.

        One common Christian meme is certainly right though: hate the sin, and not the sinner. I agree, I'd have a beer with any of you. It's worth making a conscious effort not to take attacks against our beliefs too personally, because it turns out everyone tends to be wrong quite often.

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