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Re: A Modest Request

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  • Otis
    James, Thanks for your response. It was a reasonable attempt, but I would say it not only fails to explain why the Holocaust was universally wrong, it gives
    Message 1 of 22 , May 1, 2009
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      James,

      Thanks for your response. It was a reasonable attempt, but I would say it not only fails to explain why the Holocaust was universally wrong, it gives rational justification for what the Nazis did.

      "To allow harm on to others is to invite others to allow harm on to us."
      This statement implies that it would be acceptable to harm other people if it were necessary to prevent them from doing harm to others, including ourselves. I would agree with that statement. Just consider the hundreds of thousands of Germans that were killed in order to defeat Nazi Germany and stop the Holocaust. However, your statement is exactly the argument used by the Nazis for what they did to the Jews. If you read Hitler's "Mein Kamph" and other Nazi propaganda, you will find lengthly arguments as to why the Jews were a menace and harm to the German people, and needed to be dealt with. So this statement, far from being a universal argument that the Holocaust was wrong is in fact a justification of the Holocaust from the Nazis point of view.

      "To do harm to others is to invite others to do harm to us."
      I would agree that, in practice, this statement is generally true. But it does not explain why doing harm to others is universally wrong. Perhaps I am willing to deal with harm being returned to me; I will just carry a weapon. That is just the logic of criminals. If harm were inflicted on them for the harm they did, then your statement would give them reason to carry a more effective weapon.

      "If you wish to avoid others doing harm to you then causing harm to others is the 'wrong' course of action."
      I would agree with this statement. If we avoid harming others, then we lower the probability that harm will come to us. But your's is a conditional statement and does not explain why the Holocaust was universally wrong. Perhaps I am willing to deal with the increased chance that harm will be returned to me. That is exactly the logic followed by Hitler when he re-armed Germany after World War I.


      "The Holocaust was an act of doing great harm to others and so was a great wrong for people who do not wish to be harmed or protected from harm."
      This statement obviously fails because it does not demonstrate why the Holocaust was universally wrong, but was only wrong for "people who do not wish to be harmed or protected from harm."

      Finally, your statements are unnecessarily anthropocentric and thus cannot be considered scientific.

      Regards,
      Otis


      --- In naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com, "JRS ." <jrs300@...> wrote:
      >
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      > To allow harm on to others is to invite others to allow harm on to us.
      >
      > To do harm to others is to invite others to do harm to us.
      >
      > If you wish to avoid others doing harm to you then causing harm to others is the 'wrong' course of action.
      >
      > The Holocaust was an act of doing great harm to others and so was a great wrong for people who do not wish to be harmed or protected from harm.
      >
      > -James
      >
      > To: naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com
      > From: ldg994@...
      > Date: Thu, 30 Apr 2009 14:05:29 +0000
      > Subject: [naturalismphilosophyforum] A Modest Request
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      > Could you naturalists please provide a convincing universal argument from science that the Holocaust perpetrated by Germany was wrong.
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      > I would especially like to hear an argument from Tom Clark.
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      > Thanks in advance,
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      > The new Windows Live Messenger has landed. Download it here.
      > http://download.live.com/
      >
    • Ken Batts
      Otis: Given the historical facts, you might better ask: Why did the German Christians (Lutherans and Catholics) so horrifically break their commandments
      Message 2 of 22 , May 1, 2009
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        Otis: Given the historical facts, you might better ask: Why did the German Christians (Lutherans and Catholics) so horrifically break their commandments against stealing and killing? Not just killing Jews but Gypsies, Slavs, Gays, the mentally ill, the physically handicapped. Hitler's willing executioners were church-going christians, driven by the anti-semitic scapegoating they'd heard from the pulpits for hundreds of years, starting hundreds of years before Lutheran's "The Jews and their Lies," in which he urged his followers to steal the Jews property and drive them from their homes, get rid of them any way possible.

        Your attempt to pin the Holocaust on secularism might be amusing if it weren't so dangerous. Learning the correct lessons from history is the only way to avoid repeating it.

        Ken


        --- In naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com, "Otis" <ldg994@...> wrote:
        >
        > James,
        >
        > Thanks for your response. It was a reasonable attempt, but I would say it not only fails to explain why the Holocaust was universally wrong, it gives rational justification for what the Nazis did.
        >
        > "To allow harm on to others is to invite others to allow harm on to us."
        > This statement implies that it would be acceptable to harm other people if it were necessary to prevent them from doing harm to others, including ourselves. I would agree with that statement. Just consider the hundreds of thousands of Germans that were killed in order to defeat Nazi Germany and stop the Holocaust. However, your statement is exactly the argument used by the Nazis for what they did to the Jews. If you read Hitler's "Mein Kamph" and other Nazi propaganda, you will find lengthly arguments as to why the Jews were a menace and harm to the German people, and needed to be dealt with. So this statement, far from being a universal argument that the Holocaust was wrong is in fact a justification of the Holocaust from the Nazis point of view.
        >
        > "To do harm to others is to invite others to do harm to us."
        > I would agree that, in practice, this statement is generally true. But it does not explain why doing harm to others is universally wrong. Perhaps I am willing to deal with harm being returned to me; I will just carry a weapon. That is just the logic of criminals. If harm were inflicted on them for the harm they did, then your statement would give them reason to carry a more effective weapon.
        >
        > "If you wish to avoid others doing harm to you then causing harm to others is the 'wrong' course of action."
        > I would agree with this statement. If we avoid harming others, then we lower the probability that harm will come to us. But your's is a conditional statement and does not explain why the Holocaust was universally wrong. Perhaps I am willing to deal with the increased chance that harm will be returned to me. That is exactly the logic followed by Hitler when he re-armed Germany after World War I.
        >
        >
        > "The Holocaust was an act of doing great harm to others and so was a great wrong for people who do not wish to be harmed or protected from harm."
        > This statement obviously fails because it does not demonstrate why the Holocaust was universally wrong, but was only wrong for "people who do not wish to be harmed or protected from harm."
        >
        > Finally, your statements are unnecessarily anthropocentric and thus cannot be considered scientific.
        >
        > Regards,
        > Otis
        >
        >
        > --- In naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com, "JRS ." <jrs300@> wrote:
        > >
        > >
        > > To allow harm on to others is to invite others to allow harm on to us.
        > >
        > > To do harm to others is to invite others to do harm to us.
        > >
        > > If you wish to avoid others doing harm to you then causing harm to others is the 'wrong' course of action.
        > >
        > > The Holocaust was an act of doing great harm to others and so was a great wrong for people who do not wish to be harmed or protected from harm.
        > >
        > > -James
        > >
        > > To: naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com
        > > From: ldg994@
        > > Date: Thu, 30 Apr 2009 14:05:29 +0000
        > > Subject: [naturalismphilosophyforum] A Modest Request
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        > > Could you naturalists please provide a convincing universal argument from science that the Holocaust perpetrated by Germany was wrong.
        > >
        > >
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        > > I would especially like to hear an argument from Tom Clark.
        > >
        > >
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        > > Thanks in advance,
        > >
        > > Otis
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        > > _________________________________________________________________
        > > The new Windows Live Messenger has landed. Download it here.
        > > http://download.live.com/
        > >
        >
      • Ken Batts
        ... Otis: Perhaps in addition to answering my question in the previous post, you care to explain how the following information fits in with your theory that
        Message 3 of 22 , May 1, 2009
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          --- In naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com, "Ken Batts" <ken@...> wrote:
          >
          Otis: Perhaps in addition to answering my question in the previous post, you care to explain how the following information fits in with your theory that the Holocaust was somehow the product of atheism and secular humanism:

          Martin Luther, from his diatribe "On the Jews and their Lies":
          >
          > "I wish and I ask that our rulers who have Jewish subjects exercise a sharp mercy toward these wretched people, as suggested above, to see whether this might not help (though it is doubtful). They must act like a good physician who, when gangrene has set proceeds without mercy to cut, saw, and burn flesh, veins, bone, and marrow. Such a procedure must also be followed in this instance. Burn down their synagogues, forbid all that I enumerated earlier, force them to work, and deal harshly with them, as Moses did in the wilderness, slaying three thousand lest the whole people perish. They surely do not know what they are doing; moreover, as people possessed, they do not wish to know it, hear it, or learn it. Therefore it would be wrong to be merciful and confirm them in their conduct. If this does not help we must drive them out like mad dogs, so that we do not become partakers of their abominable blasphemy and all the their other vices and thus merit God's wrath and be damned with them. I have done my duty. Now let everyone see to his. I am exonerated."
          >
          > As for the Catholic church, one needn't dig too deeply or too long. Start with the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition.
          >
          > From Anglican English Kings to Orthodox Christian Russian Czars, the Jews have been blamed for everything; disease, war, governmental corruption, the weather, drought, etc. All supported and sanctioned by the clergy, who had mostly just read one book, and that one extremely unreliable regarding facts.
          >
          > For example, Catholic Ferdinand and Isabella's Alhambra Decree: of 1492:
          >
          > "We order all Jews and Jewesses of whatever age they may be, who live, reside, and exist in our said kingdoms and lordships … that by the end of the month of July next of the present year, they depart from all of these our said realms and lordships … under pain that if they do not perform and comply with this command and should be found in our said kingdom and lordships and should in any manner live in them, they incur the penalty of death and the confiscation of all their possessions."
          >
          > Ken
          >
        • Rich Lawrence
          Otis, Here is an equally modest answer. Science, specifically the science of genetics tells us that each and every human is a confluence of genetic inputs.
          Message 4 of 22 , May 1, 2009
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            Otis,

            Here is an equally modest answer. Science, specifically the science of genetics tells us that each and every human is a confluence of genetic inputs. You would find it most enlightening to have your own genome mapped and find out the different genes from every corner of the world that makes up your own genetic code. There is no such thing genetically as a "pure" anything; we are all "muts", a genetic cocktail of various ingredients from all corners of the world.

            Since the elimination of the Jews by the Germans was motivated by the religious belief that there are "pure" and "unpure" races, these terms being defined specifically by a combination of phenotype and Norse mythology, and given this metaphysical assumption was the driving force behind Hitler's final solution, the facts of science flatly contradict that belief and the resultant actions derived therefrom.

            Hope that helps! :)

            Rich

            --- In naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com, "Otis" <ldg994@...> wrote:
            >
            > Could you naturalists please provide a convincing universal argument from science that the Holocaust perpetrated by Germany was wrong.
            >
            > I would especially like to hear an argument from Tom Clark.
            >
            > Thanks in advance,
            > Otis
            >
          • Ron Cecchini
            ... And your inability to comprehend Otis simple question, and responding with a critique of Christianity, et al, might be amusing if it weren t so typical.
            Message 5 of 22 , May 1, 2009
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              Ken:

              > Your attempt to pin the Holocaust on secularism might be amusing if it
              weren't so dangerous.

              And your inability to comprehend Otis' simple question, and responding with a critique of Christianity, et al, might be amusing if it weren't so typical.

              Far be it from me to defend the religious-minded Otis, but his question is not only perfectly valid, but you didn't even begin to address or answer it.

              Naturalism might be good at tearing down many sacred cows, but it has yet to put forth a "proof" of sorts for why people should adhere to the tenets or interpretations of some of its proponents.  Until it does so, the CFN and any "Naturalistic movement" are doomed to fail.

              > Learning the correct lessons from history is the
              only way to avoid repeating it.

              To reiterate my last sentence above: you might be able to show me why certain opinions are not valid, but until you can *prove* why your way is the only way (and good luck with that!  "proving" a morality or ethics?!?) you have no hope for success.

              Tearing down certain opinions isn't a way to prove yours is right.

            • twclark2002
              Ron, Otis, Below is part one of a recent two part reply from me to
              Message 6 of 22 , May 1, 2009
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                Ron, Otis,

                Below is part one of a recent two part reply from me to Tom Gilson at Thinking Christian about the naturalistic basis for morality. Part two is here, and the whole debate between me and Gilson, about epistemology and ethics, starts here. See also the morality page at Naturalism.Org, and two brief overviews are here and here.

                best,

                Tom 
                CFN

                 

                ....Ethical principles as we talk about them and try to justify them are also abstractions, but of course they find concrete expression in human behavior. You raise the question of how naturalists can justify ethical principles, for instance the principle that we have an ethical obligation to one another to be empiricists, or the principle that all human beings, whatever their characteristics, should be granted the same rights. Given that I say naturalism is based in empiricism, you ask if there is sufficient empirical basis for these ethical principles: "Do these values flow from empirically-based knowledge?" And you raise the question of how naturalism bridges the notorious is-ought gap. Given the nature of this forum, I'll just sketch an answer to these questions, which will still be too long.

                For naturalists, values flow from human nature as modulated by human culture since we hold there is no supernatural source of value. It's empirically the case that human beings share a genetic endowment that builds into each of us strong desires for things such as self-preservation, self-actualization, companionship, community, etc. We each have a set of value-creating motives that defines us as simultaneously self-interested and socially interdependent beings. It's also the case that we are hard-wired to have behavioral dispositions related to such things as harm, fairness, reciprocity, loyalty, authority and purity, see Jonathan Haidt's empirical work on what he calls the 5 foundation model of morality. Moreover, we're hard-wired to take our moral intuitions very seriously – indeed, to see them as universally binding, as Ted Slingerland pointed out at Beyond Belief 2.

                The evolutionary basis for such dispositions – what's sometimes called the moral sense – is the focus of considerable research and theorizing. See for instance Steven Pinker's New York Times Magazine article The moral instinct, plus the many recent books on the natural origins of morality by Robert Wright, Franz de Waal, Mark Hauser and others. We can safely say, therefore, that there's good empirical evidence for a robust natural motivational basis for the problem morality addresses: conflicts of interests and values among self-interested individuals who can only survive and flourish within a group – and the behavioral dispositions that help to solve that problem: intuitions about harm, fairness, reciprocity, etc.

                But of course the question remains of how the naturalist justifies a particular set of moral principles, perhaps exemplified by a particular culture, against competing principles. For instance, how does a liberal-progressive Western naturalist like myself justify the proposition that all humans have equal claim to the same set of rights against the opposing conservative-regressive claim, advanced by some Eastern Muslim theocracies, that certain classes of humans (gays, women, minorities, non-Muslims) should not be granted equal rights? This is a quintessentially normative, not empirical question, but it is informed by empirical considerations. The basic argument, some of which you kindly quoted, is that all classes of human beings have, in empirical fact, more or less the same desire for self-preservation and actualization – for human flourishing – and there's no empirical basis to deny any class the opportunity for such flourishing. So, absent any countervailing considerations, they should be granted such opportunities.

                But you say:

                The principle of equality was never one of empirical observation, but of theological reflection. The only relevant sense in which humans are equal is in worth, but worth is not an empirical concept at all. How is it measured? How could it be?

                The claim that all humans are of equal worth flows from the fact that each of us has more or less the same desire for flourishing, and the fact that there's no basis to suppose some classes of humans should be thwarted in that desire. The value, the worth of each human being, is rooted in human nature itself, namely in each and every person's strong innate desire to live and thrive. It doesn't need a supernatural basis. That people are often dissimilar in other respects, such as intelligence, talents, productivity and personality, doesn't affect the principle that they should be treated equally with respect to human rights.

                How do we get an ought from an is, under naturalism? As suggested above, moral oughts are motivated by the existence of human needs and desires, and they are shaped by our innate moral sense as modulated by culture. For instance, given the universal desire to flourish (an is), we should behave in ways that maximize flourishing for all persons (an ought). And, regarding the ethical obligation to be empiricists: given our need and desire to model the world accurately for the sake of each others' well-being, we should be empiricists. As a matter of observational fact, we can see that oughts come naturally into existence as normative recommendations about how best to achieve the objects of desire. But of course the difficulty, again, is how to justify both the ends (the particular desires) and the means (the oughts) against competing conceptions of human flourishing. Owen Flanagan takes up the question of flourishing ("eudaimonia") in his book The Really Hard Problem: Finding Meaning in a Material World.

                For the naturalist, justifications for moral principles must ultimately flow from human desires since they have no other basis. So for instance, we appeal to the universal desire for personal flourishing as the reason we should grant all persons equal human rights. But of course there also exist human desires to dominate, enslave, and marginalize others, or perhaps to subordinate the welfare of particular classes of individuals in order to pursue certain goals (e.g., to perfect the human species via eugenics, the example you raised). Why not premise our oughts on those desires? Naturalists admit that there's no cut and dried, non-partisan argument that can decide this question in favor of the liberal or the conservative; there is no naturalistic counterpart to God's command. If there were, the whole project of naturalistic philosophical ethics extending back 2,500 years wouldn't exist – it would be superfluous. But it does exist, and the naturalist must perforce engage in it to make her case, whichever side of the debate she's on.

                Because there's no value-neutral criterion (such as God's authority) by which to decide between competing moral principles, arguments for them necessarily involve appeals to pre-existing values. So, progressive naturalists appeal to the innate moral sense (Is it fair to marginalize or exploit those who are just like you in their desire for freedom? How would you like to be enslaved, denied marriage and reproductive opportunities, etc.?), and they cite the virtues of existing cultural traditions and political arrangements based in progressive values (see Naturalism and normativity for more on this). And of course we will challenge the non-empirical justifications for supposing some classes of people are not of equal worth, a challenge which involves normative claims about how best to ground beliefs about reality (the burden of Reality and its rivals). However, given sharp differences in cultures and worldviews, there is no guarantee such arguments will cut any ice with the opposition, and sometimes we are forced to use force in defending our principles. This point gets elaborated here.

                I don't expect this sketch of the naturalistic basis for (progressive) morality to persuade you and others convinced of the necessity for and existence of supernatural justifications for moral principles (of course there are much better sketches out there, not to mention full treatments such as Flanagan's book). I only hope to have shown that it's at least somewhat coherent and that it's non-circular: morality, based in human nature, arises from a non-moral natural process, evolution. As I argued in our exchange on epistemology, I don't think we have good reason to suppose God and the supernatural exist, and the fact (if it is a fact, which I doubt) that God could supply compelling reasons to hold particular moral principles doesn't count in favor of his existence – that question has to be decided on independent cognitive grounds.

                Agreeing with Kevin Winters, it's empirically the case that non-Christians (pre and post Christ) have been and can be moral in all the ways that Christians endorse, which shows that belief in God and exposure to the Christian tradition isn't necessary to be good. Absent God and given naturalism, justifications for that way of being can't involve appeals to non-partisan authority or the intrinsic goodness of ultimate reality. But, given our natural moral endowment and the recent progress in expanding human rights to all classes of individuals, we can still find non-theistic justifications for liberal ethical principles persuasive.


                --- In naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com, Ron Cecchini <RonCecchini@...> wrote:
                >
                >
                >
                > Ken:
                >
                > > Your attempt to pin the Holocaust on secularism might be amusing if it weren't so dangerous.
                >
                > And your inability to comprehend Otis' simple question, and responding with a critique of Christianity, et al, might be amusing if it weren't so typical.
                >
                > Far be it from me to defend the religious-minded Otis, but his question is not only perfectly valid, but you didn't even begin to address or answer it.
                >
                > Naturalism might be good at tearing down many sacred cows, but it has yet to put forth a "proof" of sorts for why people should adhere to the tenets or interpretations of some of its proponents. Until it does so, the CFN and any "Naturalistic movement" are doomed to fail.
                >
                > > Learning the correct lessons from history is the only way to avoid repeating it.
                >
                > To reiterate my last sentence above: you might be able to show me why certain opinions are not valid, but until you can *prove* why your way is the only way (and good luck with that! "proving" a morality or ethics?!?) you have no hope for success.
                >
                > Tearing down certain opinions isn't a way to prove yours is right.
                >

              • Chris Keelan
                ... ...convincing...universal...from science... There s no possible argument that will convince someone who rejects the foundational tenets of CFN-naturalism.
                Message 7 of 22 , May 1, 2009
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                  On Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 3:05 PM, Otis <ldg994@...> wrote:
                  > Could you naturalists please provide a convincing universal argument from science that the Holocaust perpetrated by Germany was wrong.
                  >

                  ...convincing...universal...from science...


                  There's no possible argument that will convince someone who rejects
                  the foundational tenets of CFN-naturalism. Never mind the absurdity of
                  demanding a universal explanation from people who reason from the
                  assumption that no two sets of circumstances *can* be identical. And
                  then to pretend that CFN-naturalism is entirely delimited by science
                  and has no philosophical or ethical dimension that could bear on an
                  issue...

                  Sorry Ron, not only is this not a simple question, there is no
                  possible "convincing" argument for Otis. His past participation in
                  this group provides ample evidence of this. Except as an exercise in
                  naturalistic ethical reasoning, what's the point of responding to such
                  obvious bad faith?

                  I'll ask Otis (and he'll refuse to respond, as usual): assuming a
                  society broadly follows CFN's tenets of Naturalism, as outlined at
                  naturalism.org, how would the Nazi genocide even be rationalized in
                  the first place?

                  ~ C
                • JRS .
                  Otis, Explain to me how you can justify the holocaust from a philosophy of doing minimal harm? Do you believe killing Jews would be the correct course of
                  Message 8 of 22 , May 1, 2009
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                    Otis,

                    Explain to me how you can justify the holocaust from a philosophy of doing minimal harm?

                    Do you believe killing Jews would be the correct course of action in a world without god?

                    Your argument that people used a philosophy of doing minimal harm to justify the holocaust misses the point. The issue is whether a philosophy of doing minimal harm does in fact justify the holocaust. Anything can be used to justify anything if you don't understand or care about the methods of reason and logic. Our brains are highly prone to logical fallacies, especially when we like the conclusions they seem to support. Logical thinking is a discipline, it does not come without effort.

                    Just because someone says killing Jews is supported by a philosophy of doing minimal harm does not make it so.

                    Do you deny that the idea of god has been used to justify many atrocities throughout history?


                    -James



                    To: naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com
                    From: ldg994@...
                    Date: Fri, 1 May 2009 13:20:48 +0000
                    Subject: [naturalismphilosophyforum] Re: A Modest Request



                    James,

                    Thanks for your response. It was a reasonable attempt, but I would say it not only fails to explain why the Holocaust was universally wrong, it gives rational justification for what the Nazis did.

                    "To allow harm on to others is to invite others to allow harm on to us."
                    This statement implies that it would be acceptable to harm other people if it were necessary to prevent them from doing harm to others, including ourselves. I would agree with that statement. Just consider the hundreds of thousands of Germans that were killed in order to defeat Nazi Germany and stop the Holocaust. However, your statement is exactly the argument used by the Nazis for what they did to the Jews. If you read Hitler's "Mein Kamph" and other Nazi propaganda, you will find lengthly arguments as to why the Jews were a menace and harm to the German people, and needed to be dealt with. So this statement, far from being a universal argument that the Holocaust was wrong is in fact a justification of the Holocaust from the Nazis point of view.

                    "To do harm to others is to invite others to do harm to us."
                    I would agree that, in practice, this statement is generally true. But it does not explain why doing harm to others is universally wrong. Perhaps I am willing to deal with harm being returned to me; I will just carry a weapon. That is just the logic of criminals. If harm were inflicted on them for the harm they did, then your statement would give them reason to carry a more effective weapon.

                    "If you wish to avoid others doing harm to you then causing harm to others is the 'wrong' course of action."
                    I would agree with this statement. If we avoid harming others, then we lower the probability that harm will come to us. But your's is a conditional statement and does not explain why the Holocaust was universally wrong. Perhaps I am willing to deal with the increased chance that harm will be returned to me. That is exactly the logic followed by Hitler when he re-armed Germany after World War I.

                    "The Holocaust was an act of doing great harm to others and so was a great wrong for people who do not wish to be harmed or protected from harm."
                    This statement obviously fails because it does not demonstrate why the Holocaust was universally wrong, but was only wrong for "people who do not wish to be harmed or protected from harm."

                    Finally, your statements are unnecessarily anthropocentric and thus cannot be considered scientific.

                    Regards,
                    Otis

                    --- In naturalismphilosoph yforum@yahoogrou ps.com, "JRS ." <jrs300@...> wrote:
                    >
                    >
                    > To allow harm on to others is to invite others to allow harm on to us.
                    >
                    > To do harm to others is to invite others to do harm to us.
                    >
                    > If you wish to avoid others doing harm to you then causing harm to others is the 'wrong' course of action.
                    >
                    > The Holocaust was an act of doing great harm to others and so was a great wrong for people who do not wish to be harmed or protected from harm.
                    >
                    > -James
                    >
                    > To: naturalismphilosoph yforum@yahoogrou ps.com
                    > From: ldg994@...
                    > Date: Thu, 30 Apr 2009 14:05:29 +0000
                    > Subject: [naturalismphilosop hyforum] A Modest Request
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                    > Could you naturalists please provide a convincing universal argument from science that the Holocaust perpetrated by Germany was wrong.
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > I would especially like to hear an argument from Tom Clark.
                    >
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                    > Thanks in advance,
                    >
                    > Otis
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                    > ____________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _
                    > The new Windows Live Messenger has landed. Download it here.
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                  • Alice
                    Hi Otis, I would be very curious as to how you provide a convincing universal argument that the Holocaust was wrong. The concepts of wrong and right are very
                    Message 9 of 22 , May 1, 2009
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                      Hi Otis,

                       

                      I would be very curious as to how you provide a convincing universal argument that the Holocaust was wrong.

                       

                      The concepts of wrong and right are very much to do with personal perspective.  I don’t believe there is any universal wrong or right – it all depends where you stand.  According to determinism there is reason and cause for all events and so events are neither right or wrong, they simply are.

                       

                      Alice J

                       


                      From: naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com [mailto: naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com ] On Behalf Of Otis
                      Sent: Friday, 1 May 2009 10:51 pm
                      To: naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com
                      Subject: [naturalismphilosophyforum] Re: A Modest Request

                       

                      James,

                      Thanks for your response. It was a reasonable attempt, but I would say it not only fails to explain why the Holocaust was universally wrong, it gives rational justification for what the Nazis did.

                      "To allow harm on to others is to invite others to allow harm on to us."
                      This statement implies that it would be acceptable to harm other people if it were necessary to prevent them from doing harm to others, including ourselves. I would agree with that statement. Just consider the hundreds of thousands of Germans that were killed in order to defeat Nazi Germany and stop the Holocaust. However, your statement is exactly the argument used by the Nazis for what they did to the Jews. If you read Hitler's "Mein Kamph" and other Nazi propaganda, you will find lengthly arguments as to why the Jews were a menace and harm to the German people, and needed to be dealt with. So this statement, far from being a universal argument that the Holocaust was wrong is in fact a justification of the Holocaust from the Nazis point of view.

                      "To do harm to others is to invite others to do harm to us."
                      I would agree that, in practice, this statement is generally true. But it does not explain why doing harm to others is universally wrong. Perhaps I am willing to deal with harm being returned to me; I will just carry a weapon. That is just the logic of criminals. If harm were inflicted on them for the harm they did, then your statement would give them reason to carry a more effective weapon.

                      "If you wish to avoid others doing harm to you then causing harm to others is the 'wrong' course of action."
                      I would agree with this statement. If we avoid harming others, then we lower the probability that harm will come to us. But your's is a conditional statement and does not explain why the Holocaust was universally wrong. Perhaps I am willing to deal with the increased chance that harm will be returned to me. That is exactly the logic followed by Hitler when he re-armed Germany after World War I.

                      "The Holocaust was an act of doing great harm to others and so was a great wrong for people who do not wish to be harmed or protected from harm."
                      This statement obviously fails because it does not demonstrate why the Holocaust was universally wrong, but was only wrong for "people who do not wish to be harmed or protected from harm."

                      Finally, your statements are unnecessarily anthropocentric and thus cannot be considered scientific.

                      Regards,
                      Otis

                    • Otis
                      James, Your post (below) is a collection of strawman statements. I never tried to justify the Holocaust and I never mentioned god. And I never in anyway
                      Message 10 of 22 , May 1, 2009
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                        James,

                        Your post (below) is a collection of strawman statements. I never tried to justify the Holocaust and I never mentioned god. And I never in anyway tried to put forth a philosophy that justified the Holocaust. Those are strawmen that you constructed.

                        The key problem with your original response is that harm is a relative concept. Someone's harm is someone else's advantage.

                        You have yet to provide a logical, rational and scientific argument as to why the holocaust was universally wrong.

                        According to Tom Clark and the Center for Naturalism, "naturalism is premised on taking science as our way of knowing about the world."

                        The Holocaust is perhaps one of the most significant recent events in the history of humanity. So if the Holocaust is generally regarded as wrong, please provide the science that demonstrates that it was indeed wrong.

                        The ball is in your court.

                        Regards,
                        Otis

                        --- In naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com, "JRS ." <jrs300@...> wrote:
                        >
                        >
                        > Otis,
                        >
                        > Explain to me how you can justify the holocaust from a philosophy of doing minimal harm?
                        >
                        > Do you believe killing Jews would be the correct course of action in a world without god?
                        >
                        > Your argument that people used a philosophy of doing minimal harm to justify the holocaust misses the point. The issue is whether a philosophy of doing minimal harm does in fact justify the holocaust. Anything can be used to justify anything if you don't understand or care about the methods of reason and logic. Our brains are highly prone to logical fallacies, especially when we like the conclusions they seem to support. Logical thinking is a discipline, it does not come without effort.
                        >
                        > Just because someone says killing Jews is supported by a philosophy of doing minimal harm does not make it so.
                        >
                        > Do you deny that the idea of god has been used to justify many atrocities throughout history?
                        >
                        >
                        > -James
                        >
                      • Otis
                        Chris, Your response is one long ad hominem attack (Latin: argument to the man ). You attack me instead of making a reasoned response. And no, I will not
                        Message 11 of 22 , May 1, 2009
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                          Chris,

                          Your response is one long ad hominem attack (Latin: "argument to the man"). You attack me instead of making a reasoned response.

                          And no, I will not attempt to rationalize why the Nazis committed genocide. If you read their literature, they did a good job of that already.

                          As for why the Holocaust was wrong, I am not asking for an argument that convinces me. Just make an argument from science.

                          Regards,
                          Otis

                          --- In naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com, Chris Keelan <ckeelan@...> wrote:
                          >
                          > On Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 3:05 PM, Otis <ldg994@...> wrote:
                          > > Could you naturalists please provide a convincing universal argument from science that the Holocaust perpetrated by Germany was wrong.
                          > >
                          >
                          > ...convincing...universal...from science...
                          >
                          >
                          > There's no possible argument that will convince someone who rejects
                          > the foundational tenets of CFN-naturalism. Never mind the absurdity of
                          > demanding a universal explanation from people who reason from the
                          > assumption that no two sets of circumstances *can* be identical. And
                          > then to pretend that CFN-naturalism is entirely delimited by science
                          > and has no philosophical or ethical dimension that could bear on an
                          > issue...
                          >
                          > Sorry Ron, not only is this not a simple question, there is no
                          > possible "convincing" argument for Otis. His past participation in
                          > this group provides ample evidence of this. Except as an exercise in
                          > naturalistic ethical reasoning, what's the point of responding to such
                          > obvious bad faith?
                          >
                          > I'll ask Otis (and he'll refuse to respond, as usual): assuming a
                          > society broadly follows CFN's tenets of Naturalism, as outlined at
                          > naturalism.org, how would the Nazi genocide even be rationalized in
                          > the first place?
                          >
                          > ~ C
                          >
                        • Otis
                          Tom, Thanks for your response. I will read the links that you provided. And thanks for your efforts to explain naturalism. I consider you and the CFN to be
                          Message 12 of 22 , May 1, 2009
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                            Tom,

                            Thanks for your response. I will read the links that you provided. And thanks for your efforts to explain naturalism. I consider you and the CFN to be a valuable resource.

                            Regards,
                            Otis

                            --- In naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com, "twclark2002" <twc@...> wrote:
                            >
                            >
                            > Ron, Otis,
                            >
                            > Below is part one
                            > <http://www.thinkingchristian.net/2009/03/tom-clark-empiricism-and-ethic\
                            > s/#comment-12425> of a recent two part reply from me to Tom Gilson at
                            > Thinking Christian about the naturalistic basis for morality. Part two
                            > is here
                            > <http://www.thinkingchristian.net/2009/04/tom-clark-empiricism-and-ethic\
                            > s-part-two/#comment-12670> , and the whole debate between me and Gilson,
                            > about epistemology and ethics, starts here
                            > <http://www.thinkingchristian.net/series/tom-clark-and-naturalism/> .
                            > See also the morality page <http://www.naturalism.org/morality.htm> at
                            > Naturalism.Org, and two brief overviews are here
                            > <http://www.naturalism.org/systematizing_naturalism.htm#ethics> and
                            > here <http://www.naturalism.org/landscape.htm#morality> .
                            >
                            > best,
                            >
                            > Tom
                            > CFN
                            >
                          • Chris Keelan
                            ... I shouldn t be surprised at your inability to understand an argument in context, Otis and to misread my challenge to the basic validity of your question as
                            Message 13 of 22 , May 1, 2009
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                              On Sat, May 2, 2009 at 3:56 AM, Otis <ldg994@...> wrote:
                              > Chris,
                              >
                              > Your response is one long ad hominem attack (Latin: "argument to the man").  You attack me instead of making a reasoned response.

                              I shouldn't be surprised at your inability to understand an argument
                              in context, Otis and to misread my challenge to the basic validity of
                              your question as an attack on you. Apparently you missed: "Never mind
                              the absurdity of demanding a universal explanation from people who
                              reason from the assumption that no two sets of circumstances *can* be
                              identical...". It's aimed directly at the argument you advance through
                              your question's form and substance.

                              > And no, I will not attempt to rationalize why the Nazis committed genocide.  If you read their literature, they did a good job of that already.

                              Were you able to parse the meaning of a sentence, you'd understand
                              that I at no point asked you to justify the Nazi genocide. I asked you
                              to assume, just for the sake of argument, that the foundational tenets
                              of CFN naturalism were true and applicable. I asked you to
                              subsequently try to step through Nazi reasoning to understand that,
                              were the Nazis CFN-style naturalists, they couldn't have argued in
                              favour of genocide and still remained consistent with naturalistic
                              tenets. The "scientific" arguments they advanced in favour of the
                              "final solution" were wrong even by the science of the day. Could you
                              possibly have missed my point more?

                              Here's my original statement, since you seemed to have glossed over it
                              in your haste to deploy a latin phrase:

                              "...assuming a society broadly follows CFN's tenets of Naturalism, as
                              outlined at naturalism.org, how would the Nazi genocide even be
                              rationalized in
                              the first place..."

                              "Even be rationalized in the first place" does not directly nor
                              implicitly create the expectation that you will be able to provide
                              such a rationalization, assuming that German society valued and
                              adhered to the tenets of CFN naturalism. I explicitly expected you to
                              fail, were you to have attempted this honestly. But you declined the
                              fight: colour me surprised.

                              > As for why the Holocaust was wrong, I am not asking for an argument that convinces me.  Just make an argument from science.

                              You'd need to approach Tom's links and material with an intention to
                              understand them instead of mining them for quotes. Asking a group of
                              people who do not argue for universal, "objective" truths (as a theist
                              would understand them) to provide moral arguments based on universal,
                              "objective" truths is a bare-faced con. The www.naturalism.org site
                              shows that what the CFN means by "science" and "scientific basis" is
                              emphatically different from the spin you're trying to put on them. The
                              naturalistic argument for morality is necessarily more nuanced than
                              you want it to be. Again, your behaviour reminds me of a creationist
                              insisting that "Polonium halos" are proof of a young earth.

                              Instead of skimming these materials for quotes you can mine, try
                              reading the articles at www.naturalism.org, with the intention of
                              understanding what they're really saying.

                              ~ C
                            • JRS .
                              Otis, The key problem with your original response is that harm is a relative concept. Someone s harm is someone else advantage. You did not ask for a proof
                              Message 14 of 22 , May 2, 2009
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                                Otis,

                                "The key problem with your original response is that harm is a relative concept. Someone's harm is someone else advantage."

                                You did not ask for a proof that causing harm is wrong, you asked for a proof that the holocaust was wrong.

                                My original response was an attempt to show why a philosophy of minimal harm is the most rational. Not that you could not find valid reasons for causing harm. I would regard the imprisonment of murderers as doing them harm but one that there is a strong case for.

                                If you agree that a philosophy of causing minimal harm is the most rational the question becomes whether the holocaust fits with that philosophy. If it does not then a philosophy of causing minimal harm would appear to be sufficient to explain why the holocaust was wrong. Nothing outside science is required to validate this.

                                Also, my arguments are only straw men if they do not address your true position.

                                Do you believe that the concepts of right and wrong require the existence of a god? If not then I will concede those arguments as straw men. 

                                -James


                                To: naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com
                                From: ldg994@...
                                Date: Sat, 2 May 2009 02:46:40 +0000
                                Subject: [naturalismphilosophyforum] Re: A Modest Request



                                James,

                                Your post (below) is a collection of strawman statements. I never tried to justify the Holocaust and I never mentioned god. And I never in anyway tried to put forth a philosophy that justified the Holocaust. Those are strawmen that you constructed.

                                The key problem with your original response is that harm is a relative concept. Someone's harm is someone else's advantage.

                                You have yet to provide a logical, rational and scientific argument as to why the holocaust was universally wrong.

                                According to Tom Clark and the Center for Naturalism, "naturalism is premised on taking science as our way of knowing about the world."

                                The Holocaust is perhaps one of the most significant recent events in the history of humanity. So if the Holocaust is generally regarded as wrong, please provide the science that demonstrates that it was indeed wrong.

                                The ball is in your court.

                                Regards,
                                Otis

                                --- In naturalismphilosoph yforum@yahoogrou ps.com, "JRS ." <jrs300@...> wrote:
                                >
                                >
                                > Otis,
                                >
                                > Explain to me how you can justify the holocaust from a philosophy of doing minimal harm?
                                >
                                > Do you believe killing Jews would be the correct course of action in a world without god?
                                >
                                > Your argument that people used a philosophy of doing minimal harm to justify the holocaust misses the point. The issue is whether a philosophy of doing minimal harm does in fact justify the holocaust. Anything can be used to justify anything if you don't understand or care about the methods of reason and logic. Our brains are highly prone to logical fallacies, especially when we like the conclusions they seem to support. Logical thinking is a discipline, it does not come without effort.
                                >
                                > Just because someone says killing Jews is supported by a philosophy of doing minimal harm does not make it so.
                                >
                                > Do you deny that the idea of god has been used to justify many atrocities throughout history?
                                >
                                >
                                > -James
                                >




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                              • Rich Lawrence
                                Otis, I m curious as to your take on my response which was the genetic evidence, which is derived by science, shows there is no empirical basis for the ideas
                                Message 15 of 22 , May 2, 2009
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                                  Otis,

                                  I'm curious as to your take on my response which was the genetic evidence, which is derived by science, shows there is no empirical basis for the ideas of racism or the actions that are derived from racist beliefs. This is applicable to both the specific instance of the Nazis and can be applied to any instantiation of racism or racist action and can correctly be viewed as a universal ethical principal based on empirical evidence obtained through the scientific examination of the world, in this case, the scientific study of humans.

                                  Rich


                                  --- In naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com, "Otis" <ldg994@...> wrote:
                                  >
                                  > Could you naturalists please provide a convincing universal argument from science that the Holocaust perpetrated by Germany was wrong.
                                  >
                                  > I would especially like to hear an argument from Tom Clark.
                                  >
                                  > Thanks in advance,
                                  > Otis
                                  >
                                • Ken Batts
                                  Though Chris is right, Otis history with us is tainted, which makes answering his questions a quite unattractive exercise, you are right, I didn t answer
                                  Message 16 of 22 , May 2, 2009
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                                    Though Chris is right, Otis' history with us is tainted, which makes answering his questions a quite unattractive exercise, you are right, I didn't answer him, and perhaps I should have. After all my answer would have been read by others so should have been more thoughtful.

                                    I don't think the information about Christianity's contribution to the nazi worldview and subsequent genocide was irrelevant, given Otis' past contention that the Holocaust can be blamed on atheism and secularism. It was perpetrated by Lutherans who'd been raised on anti-semitism for generations. But it didn't directly address his question.

                                    No "movement" can rely on proof, unless its subject is mathematics or logic. For the rest of humanity's pursuits, we need to depend on lesser degrees of certainty.

                                    We are a movement more akin to the civil rights movement or the movement toward universal human rights, or the labor union movement. We cannot prove that jettisoning the belief in free will will be a boon to humanity, but we can try to persuade people, and some have been persuaded. Some will be get it, most won't; the belief in free will is so deeply embedded in our culture and perhaps to a degree in our genes.

                                    Our movement is as important as the anti-creationist, pro-evolution movement, but it will be even harder to succeed, because we can't produce hard evidence (lines of fossils, for example). Even hard evidence doesn't convince many people who've been taught that the bible (or Koran or other book) is the word of god and to question it is a punishable offense.

                                    Still, I'm confident that, unless we blow ourselves up first, no-free-will naturalism may prevail. The chief barrier seems to me to be conservatism, which needs the doctrine of free will to blame the weak for their failings in order to concentrate power in the elite. Countries like those in Scandinavia, where wealth is distributed more fairly, not only seem to function much better than our country but have less trouble believing that people's troubles are fully caused and therefore should be compassionately addressed.

                                    As to Otis' question, I believe that morality involves maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain, which, since no one is metaphysically privileged over another, must be sought utilizing the Golden Rule, in other words fairly, minimizing pain and maximizing pleasure for all. The Holocaust breaks all these rules so I consider it immoral.

                                    Ken
                                  • Ken Batts
                                    Whoops, I blamed the Holocaust on Lutherans. I left out the fact that Catholics also participated. Ken
                                    Message 17 of 22 , May 2, 2009
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                                      Whoops, I blamed the Holocaust on Lutherans. I left out the fact that Catholics also participated.

                                      Ken





                                      --- In naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com, "Ken Batts" <ken@...> wrote:
                                      >
                                      > Though Chris is right, Otis' history with us is tainted, which makes answering his questions a quite unattractive exercise, you are right, I didn't answer him, and perhaps I should have. After all my answer would have been read by others so should have been more thoughtful.
                                      >
                                      > I don't think the information about Christianity's contribution to the nazi worldview and subsequent genocide was irrelevant, given Otis' past contention that the Holocaust can be blamed on atheism and secularism. It was perpetrated by Lutherans who'd been raised on anti-semitism for generations. But it didn't directly address his question.
                                      >
                                      > No "movement" can rely on proof, unless its subject is mathematics or logic. For the rest of humanity's pursuits, we need to depend on lesser degrees of certainty.
                                      >
                                      > We are a movement more akin to the civil rights movement or the movement toward universal human rights, or the labor union movement. We cannot prove that jettisoning the belief in free will will be a boon to humanity, but we can try to persuade people, and some have been persuaded. Some will be get it, most won't; the belief in free will is so deeply embedded in our culture and perhaps to a degree in our genes.
                                      >
                                      > Our movement is as important as the anti-creationist, pro-evolution movement, but it will be even harder to succeed, because we can't produce hard evidence (lines of fossils, for example). Even hard evidence doesn't convince many people who've been taught that the bible (or Koran or other book) is the word of god and to question it is a punishable offense.
                                      >
                                      > Still, I'm confident that, unless we blow ourselves up first, no-free-will naturalism may prevail. The chief barrier seems to me to be conservatism, which needs the doctrine of free will to blame the weak for their failings in order to concentrate power in the elite. Countries like those in Scandinavia, where wealth is distributed more fairly, not only seem to function much better than our country but have less trouble believing that people's troubles are fully caused and therefore should be compassionately addressed.
                                      >
                                      > As to Otis' question, I believe that morality involves maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain, which, since no one is metaphysically privileged over another, must be sought utilizing the Golden Rule, in other words fairly, minimizing pain and maximizing pleasure for all. The Holocaust breaks all these rules so I consider it immoral.
                                      >
                                      > Ken
                                      >
                                    • Ken Batts
                                      And by blame I of course mean causal attribution. Ken
                                      Message 18 of 22 , May 2, 2009
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                                        And by blame I of course mean causal attribution.

                                        Ken


                                        --- In naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com, "Ken Batts" <ken@...> wrote:
                                        >
                                        > Whoops, I blamed the Holocaust on Lutherans. I left out the fact that Catholics also participated.
                                        >
                                        > Ken
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >
                                        > --- In naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com, "Ken Batts" <ken@> wrote:
                                        > >
                                        > > Though Chris is right, Otis' history with us is tainted, which makes answering his questions a quite unattractive exercise, you are right, I didn't answer him, and perhaps I should have. After all my answer would have been read by others so should have been more thoughtful.
                                        > >
                                        > > I don't think the information about Christianity's contribution to the nazi worldview and subsequent genocide was irrelevant, given Otis' past contention that the Holocaust can be blamed on atheism and secularism. It was perpetrated by Lutherans who'd been raised on anti-semitism for generations. But it didn't directly address his question.
                                        > >
                                        > > No "movement" can rely on proof, unless its subject is mathematics or logic. For the rest of humanity's pursuits, we need to depend on lesser degrees of certainty.
                                        > >
                                        > > We are a movement more akin to the civil rights movement or the movement toward universal human rights, or the labor union movement. We cannot prove that jettisoning the belief in free will will be a boon to humanity, but we can try to persuade people, and some have been persuaded. Some will be get it, most won't; the belief in free will is so deeply embedded in our culture and perhaps to a degree in our genes.
                                        > >
                                        > > Our movement is as important as the anti-creationist, pro-evolution movement, but it will be even harder to succeed, because we can't produce hard evidence (lines of fossils, for example). Even hard evidence doesn't convince many people who've been taught that the bible (or Koran or other book) is the word of god and to question it is a punishable offense.
                                        > >
                                        > > Still, I'm confident that, unless we blow ourselves up first, no-free-will naturalism may prevail. The chief barrier seems to me to be conservatism, which needs the doctrine of free will to blame the weak for their failings in order to concentrate power in the elite. Countries like those in Scandinavia, where wealth is distributed more fairly, not only seem to function much better than our country but have less trouble believing that people's troubles are fully caused and therefore should be compassionately addressed.
                                        > >
                                        > > As to Otis' question, I believe that morality involves maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain, which, since no one is metaphysically privileged over another, must be sought utilizing the Golden Rule, in other words fairly, minimizing pain and maximizing pleasure for all. The Holocaust breaks all these rules so I consider it immoral.
                                        > >
                                        > > Ken
                                        > >
                                        >
                                      • Jack Angstreich
                                        There is no possible universal argument, either naturalistic or theistic, that the Holocaust was wrong ; this is because categorical imperatives cannot exist,
                                        Message 19 of 22 , May 2, 2009
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                                          There is no possible universal argument, either naturalistic or theistic, that the Holocaust was "wrong"; this is because categorical imperatives cannot exist, logically. Only hypothetical imperatives can be coherent.

                                          --Jack Angstreich






                                          On Apr 30, 2009, at 10:05 AM, Otis wrote:



                                          Could you naturalists please provide a convincing universal argument from science that the Holocaust perpetrated by Germany was wrong.

                                          I would especially like to hear an argument from Tom Clark.

                                          Thanks in advance,
                                          Otis


                                        • Tim Beardsley
                                          Otis, I am sympathetic to the thought implicit in your request: that naturalism cannot provide a direct basis for a moral judgment. I agree that cannot be
                                          Message 20 of 22 , May 6, 2009
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                                            Otis, I am sympathetic to the thought implicit in your request: that naturalism cannot provide a direct basis for a moral judgment.
                                            I agree that cannot be done. But that naturalism cannot do so directly does not make it irrelevant. Naturalism is powerful because it can point ways to procedures that will lead to shared moral judgments. 

                                            I do have to protest at your writing about "the absurdity of zoologists observing animals in order to determine proper moral 
                                            behavior." I don't believe any respectable scientist is doing that. We can learn a lot from non-human primates about the emotional dispositions and types
                                            of thinking that characterize them, and that can be instructive with regard to how similar processes might occur in humans. But even such a 
                                            champion of research on primate behavior as Frans de Waal would not suggest for a second that we determine proper moral behavior from observing animals.
                                            De Waal has a much more nuanced view; he makes clear that he thinks humans have capabilities for morality that are beyond the reach of chimpanzees or any other animals.

                                            Naturalism is a set of beliefs (some might say a theory) about how the world works. To develop rules about how we should behave you must refer to how you want the world to be. Naturalism itself doesn't provide
                                            that, but it suggests that we can use science to understand ourselves better. That understanding in turn points to ways to make durable agreements.

                                            Research on animals has helped us understand how different we are from them in certain ways (as well as how similar in some other ways). One way we resemble chimps is in some of our emotional attitudes
                                            and the stimuli that trigger them. One way in which we are very different is in our ability to record and manipulate abstract ideas and to codify agreements.

                                            What we've learned gives me ground for hope that we can devise systems of law, through democratic process, that minimize violence to peoples' emotional dispositions. The systems won't be perfect, but
                                            we can see that we should be able to devise rules that lead to something better than the struggle of all against all. There is the possibility of progress.

                                            Because naturalists are thoughtful people and tend to share some attitudes, there's a tendency to assimilate those attitudes to the label of naturalism. I am sympathetic to those attitudes,
                                            which often include a praiseworthy sense of universal benevolence, but cautious about assimilating them to naturalism in the strict sense because I think that can spawn various confusions.

                                            Reflecting about naturalism can give rise to beatific feelings, as well as a desire to minimize anger and perhaps forgive transgressions. I don't minimize these worthwhile benefits.
                                            But I am prepared to accept that you can get similar feelings from reflecting on your belief that Christ died so that we shall be forgiven, and that someone else will get the same feelings from
                                            thinking about the bhodisattvas waiting to guide us to nirvana. So I think naturalists risk getting ahead of themselves if they imagine that their reflective practice is unique in fostering benevolence or
                                            any other moral attitude. Naturalism's strength is its ability to point us toward practical solutions to real-world problems.

                                            That doesn't mean we're left without morals. It just means people must debate to foster trust and devise acceptable ways to live, including laws. Those laws will embody moral judgments. 
                                            Society must sometimes punish those who deliberately violate--must make the consequences unpleasant--so that others will know that they too will face unpleasantness if they violate. 
                                            (A  naturalistic perspective leads me to the view that that's going to be necessary for some people, unpopular though that conclusion is, because people invent reasons for their actions that are in many cases 
                                            beyond our ability to attribute to external causes).  So I don't think naturalism threatens the moral quagmire you fear.

                                            Hitler's abomination excluded large parts of humanity from its perverted logic and so was fundamentally at odds with a naturalistic perspective, which does not privilege one group of people over another.

                                            Best wishes

                                            Tim Beardsley


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