Famine and Cannibalism: Ethics in Extreme Circumstances

Should you think about your duty, or about the consequences of your actions? Or should you concentrate on becoming a good person?

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Terrapin Station
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Re: Famine and Cannibalism: Ethics in Extreme Circumstances

Post by Terrapin Station » Mon Oct 24, 2016 5:08 am

vegetariantaxidermy wrote:
Terrapin Station wrote:
vegetariantaxidermy wrote: So no such thing then.
No one feels that way? Haha.
Well I said pretty much the same thing in the previous post. And people who agonise over what 'morality' is must be psychopaths. It's pretty obvious there is no such thing, just look at how it changes, sometimes practically overnight.


It's a way that people feel about behavior. Obviously not everyone feels the same way. That doesn't mean that people do not have feelings, preferences etc. about behavior. Obviously they do.

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Re: Famine and Cannibalism: Ethics in Extreme Circumstances

Post by Terrapin Station » Mon Oct 24, 2016 5:10 am

Lacewing wrote:
Terrapin Station wrote:I don't believe that at least out core moral dispositions are intentionally invented or created any more than we intentionally invent or create how our hearts work.
I've just responded in a post to Gary, to try and further clarify what I'm referring to. I find it interesting that my communication somehow led you both to believe that I was talking about some sort of "on the spot" morality adjustment. :) Hopefully my latest post (prior to this one) has cleared that up.
I was just clarifying in light of common connotations of the terms.

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Re: Famine and Cannibalism: Ethics in Extreme Circumstances

Post by Lacewing » Mon Oct 24, 2016 5:21 am

Terrapin Station wrote:
Lacewing wrote:I've just responded in a post to Gary, to try and further clarify what I'm referring to.
I was just clarifying in light of common connotations of the terms.
Oh good... now that both of us have clarified various things, I'm sure ALL is perfectly clear! :D Woohoo!!

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Greta
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Re: Famine and Cannibalism: Ethics in Extreme Circumstances

Post by Greta » Mon Oct 24, 2016 5:35 am

It seems to me that, as with slavery and torture, it's going to happen no matter what we think. At some point things will be desperate enough for some to break the taboos.

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Re: Famine and Cannibalism: Ethics in Extreme Circumstances

Post by Lacewing » Mon Oct 24, 2016 5:48 am

vegetariantaxidermy wrote:It's pretty obvious there is no such thing, just look at how it changes, sometimes practically overnight. I was watching (accidentally) the other night an old 'Carry On' film. Lecherous old men in lifts sqeezing women's breasts and bums, making sleazy, suggestive comments to every young female they encounter, the female 'victims' twittering with delight-- and people apparently laughed uproariously at these 'jolly japes'. Move on a couple of decades and men are being arrested left, right and centre for doing the same sort of things that at the time were considered 'a hoot' but are now considered 'immoral'.
And how recently were homosexuals being arrested for 'immorality'?
Really good examples!
vegetariantaxidermy wrote:If humans are that bloody fickle and insincere about what they consider to be moral then what's the point in even using the stupid, religiously-charged word?
I think it's another example of how we humans are seemingly always in one stupor/tangle or another of our own creation. We make up stuff to hold ourselves and others to, and then forget what's made up and how many other possibilities there are. We really want to live in a box.
vegetariantaxidermy wrote:Give me empathy, kindness, and fairness any day.
I agree. It's not that hard... well, maybe for some. I remember feeling it early on as a child. No one had to tell me. I felt it while the adults were oblivious and out of control on their own trips. That's why it seemed kind of offensive later for theism to tell me how I was supposed to be... as if I was faulty or couldn't know for myself.

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Re: Famine and Cannibalism: Ethics in Extreme Circumstances

Post by Gary Childress » Mon Oct 24, 2016 6:33 am

Terrapin Station wrote:
Where is the pain? Is it in your big toe, or is it in your brain
Not at all a difficult question. The pain phenomenon occurs in your brain. Apparently you're unfamiliar with anaesthesia.
If the pain is in your brain, then it would be more akin to a "headache" and not a "toeache", wouldn't it? The way you are tracking your mind in the "physical" world is entirely through inference from a third person perspective. You infer that the pain is in your head because anaesthesia works when placed there. You infer that the pain is located in a particular region of the brain and not the toe because a brain scan locates activity there when feeling pain. Why is it infered to be in the brain but not experienced to be in the brain? Because your "mind" is not "physical" in nature. It cannot be located in space/time and cannot be perceived by anyone but you. In fact when it comes down to it most of the world is not "physical". Atoms consist of far more "empty space" than anything else. "Physical" is ultimately an illusion. A "brain" is an illusion. How can an illusion contain your experience of the color "blue" or be at all cognizant?

If someone transplanted your brain in another body, "you" would probably "inhabit" that other body, right? Because that's where your brain states are now, in the body your brain has been transplanted into. Now suppose someone only transplanted part of your brain into that other body. Which part of the brain would need to be transplanted in order for "you" to inhabit that other body? (Meaning you experience the world from within that other body, using its eyes and nose, etc.) No one but "you" will ever know the answer to that because there is no way to verify that "you" are in that body from a third person perspective. Why? Because "you" are not physical in nature and cannot be perceived in the physical world. "You" are a mind. Unless of course you're an unconscious zombie. I know I'm not an unconscious zombie.

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Re: Famine and Cannibalism: Ethics in Extreme Circumstances

Post by Impenitent » Mon Oct 24, 2016 9:19 am

perhaps not an unconscious zombie, but definitely a brain in a vat...

-Imp

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Re: Famine and Cannibalism: Ethics in Extreme Circumstances

Post by Terrapin Station » Mon Oct 24, 2016 12:40 pm

Gary Childress wrote:If the pain is in your brain, then it would be more akin to a "headache" and not a "toeache", wouldn't it?
No, of course not.

The phenomenal experience of pain is a brain state, but the brain state is a report of where you're injured. That's the whole reason it evolved--it gives you a report of injuries in progress and injuries that have occurred but that are still healing throughout your body. That doesn't imply that the phenomenal pain experience is located in the injured area. It's clearly located--we know this from empirical evidence, too--in one's brain.
The way you are tracking your mind in the "physical" world is entirely through inference from a third person perspective . . . Why is it infered to be in the brain but not experienced to be in the brain?
But the pain experience, or phenomenal pain IS experienced to be in my brain, by me at least. Again, you're conflating the report of injury with what is reporting the injury. They do not experientially seem to be the same thing to me. If I drop something on my foot, experientially, it's the case that "Ow that hurts" is in my head, but what got hurt is not. And having to explain this seems, to me, to be like having to explain something to a five-year-old . . . who is maybe kind of slow.
Because your "mind" is not "physical" in nature.
Of course it is, and that's exacerbated by the fact that the very idea of a nonphysical existent is incoherent.
It cannot be located in space/time and cannot be perceived by anyone but you.
On your view your mind is perceived by you? What the fnck?
In fact when it comes down to it most of the world is not "physical".
Hahahaha
Atoms consist of far more "empty space" than anything else.
They don't "consist of" empty space. "Empty space" isn't some sort of container existent in the first place, anyway. It's just that there's a lot of space--that is, relational distance, between the matter that functions in conjunction as an atom.
"Physical" is ultimately an illusion.
I can see now why you'd be prone to not feeling that religious views are completely absurd.
A "brain" is an illusion.
Great, so it's turning out that you're probably a sock account for that Dontaskme moron.
If someone transplanted your brain in another body, "you" would probably "inhabit" that other body, right?
Yes. You, in the sense of your consciousness, your conscious experience, etc. would be in another body (minus your brain of course, which would be the same).
Now suppose someone only transplanted part of your brain into that other body. Which part of the brain would need to be transplanted in order for "you" to inhabit that other body?
All of it. Mental phenomena obtain via neurons, synapses, etc. that are spread throughout the entire brain working in conjunction.
Why? Because "you" are not physical in nature
No. It's because it's a first-person phenomenon.

Alright, you're turning out to be one of those persons who ignores a lot of stuff that was already said, stuff that was asked, points that were brought up, etc., and who will keep expanding responses into more and more topics, so next time around, I'm probably going to the one-point-at-a-time format with you, which I'm just telling you so you know. You can type as much as you want, of course, but I'll only respond to one point at a time until it seems there's some possibility of you moving away from the telemarketer approach.

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Re: Famine and Cannibalism: Ethics in Extreme Circumstances

Post by Gary Childress » Mon Oct 24, 2016 2:18 pm

Terrapin Station wrote:
Now suppose someone only transplanted part of your brain into that other body. Which part of the brain would need to be transplanted in order for "you" to inhabit that other body?
All of it. Mental phenomena obtain via neurons, synapses, etc. that are spread throughout the entire brain working in conjunction.
How do you know that ALL of the brain must be transplanted in order for "you" to be in that other body? How do you know that the brain alone would be all that is required to transfer you into that body? And how would anyone other than you discover whether or not "you" were there in that other body if all or part of your brain were transplanted?

The point I'm trying to make is that there is something we call "experience" and it cannot be "reduced" to what we call "physical" reality. It cannot be accessed in the third person. If it were "physical" then wouldn't it be accessible to everyone?

Are you not famliar with Frank Jackson's thought experiment about the color blind neuroscientist named Mary or Thomas Nagel's "What is it like to be a bat"?

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Post by henry quirk » Mon Oct 24, 2016 2:37 pm

Necessary cannibalism: do unto others before they do unto you.

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Re: Famine and Cannibalism: Ethics in Extreme Circumstances

Post by Gary Childress » Mon Oct 24, 2016 2:46 pm

henry quirk wrote:Necessary cannibalism: do unto others before they do unto you.
Without any sort of divine authority to enforce a moral code, that does seem to be the opperative principle for many of us, what morality boils down to in a world without divine authority.

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Post by henry quirk » Mon Oct 24, 2016 2:49 pm

Yep...ain't nice, but it is what it is.

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Re: Famine and Cannibalism: Ethics in Extreme Circumstances

Post by Terrapin Station » Mon Oct 24, 2016 3:05 pm

Gary Childress wrote:How do you know that ALL of the brain must be transplanted in order for "you" to be in that other body? How do you know that the brain alone would be all that is required to transfer you into that body? And how would anyone other than you discover whether or not "you" were there in that other body if all or part of your brain were transplanted?
I explained this already. You're not hinging this questioning on the idea of knowledge-with-certainty are you? Focusing on certainty is a silly waste of time in my opinion.
The point I'm trying to make is that there is something we call "experience" and it cannot be "reduced" to what we call "physical" reality.
You can attempt to make that point until the cows come home. The problem is that it's false. The idea of nonphysical existents is incoherent. That doesn't imply that there is no experience of course.
If it were "physical" then wouldn't it be accessible to everyone?
No, not at all. Strictly speaking, there is nothing that is accessible, identically, to any two people, or to any two different reference points (we don't have to be talking about people). Everything extant is different from different reference points, and no two things can occupy the same reference point at the same time. We don't have to be talking about mind for this. It goes for things like rocks, too. A rock from reference point A is different than the same rock from reference point B, where A does not equal B. This is the case even if we're just talking about scientific instruments, say, measuring things about the rock at A and B. Also, there are no "reference point-free reference points." Any place we pick is just another reference point where at least some properties will be different than at other reference points.
Are you not famliar with Frank Jackson's thought experiment about the color blind neuroscientist named Mary or Thomas Nagel's "What is it like to be a bat"?
Yes, of course. I can explain the problems with those thought experiments to you if you like. (Although explaining the problems with Nagel's paper is a lot more complicated than explaining the problems with Mary's Room, since the problems with Nagel's paper are mostly "meta" problems, having to do with the contextual milieu Nagel is responding to (and to some extent, they're not thus problems with Nagel, they're problems that occured with the comments of the people he's responding to), while the problems with Mary's Room have to do with some simple reasoning gaffes in the description of the thought experiment itself.)

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Re: Famine and Cannibalism: Ethics in Extreme Circumstances

Post by Gary Childress » Mon Oct 24, 2016 3:45 pm

Terrapin Station wrote: I can explain the problems with those thought experiments to you if you like.
Please do. The "Mary" thought experiment can essentially be expressed as modus tollens:

If X, then Y
Not the case Y
Therefore not the case X

1. If brain states = mind states (X), then to know everything about brain states is to know everything about mind states (Y). [if X, then Y]
2. Mary knows everything there is to know about brain states but it is not the case that Mary knows everything there is to know about mind states. [Not the case Y]
3. Therefore: it is not the case that brain states = mind states [not the case X]

It appears to me to be a valid argument--that if you accept the two premises you must accept the conclusion. You would need to determine which premise is false. I welcome your explanation of which one is false.

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Re: Famine and Cannibalism: Ethics in Extreme Circumstances

Post by Terrapin Station » Mon Oct 24, 2016 4:21 pm

Sure, the simple gaffe with Mary's Room is that it's question-begging. The only way that Mary acquires new information once she experiences color is if we assume that "all the physical information there is to obtain about what goes on when we see ripe tomatoes [etc.]" does NOT include the experience of seeing color. But that's just what the thought experiment is trying to argue for. Thus it's question-begging.

Another way to look at the problem is this: what physicalists like me posit is that Mary's experience of seeing color IS (identical to) physical information (or rather a physical state). Jackson wants to argue against that to show that (at least intuitively) Mary's experience is not identical to a physical state or physical information. Well, on the view he's arguing against, "[Mary acquires] all the physical information there is to obtain about what goes on when we see ripe tomatoes [etc.]" isn't in fact true just in case Mary doesn't know what it's like to experience color, because that is physical information or a physical state. So once Jackson gets to "It seems just obvious that she will learn something about the world and our visual experience of it" what I think is rather, "No, it doesn't, not at all. That can't be the case or it's necessarily false that Mary knew all the physical information."

It would be like someone saying "Joe is familiar with every Rolling Stones album," and then later saying, "Joe was surprised to discover Love You Live." Well, if Joe was surprised to discover Love You Live, then "Joe is familiar with every Rolling Stones album" was false. We're not making Love You Live NOT a Stones album just because we stipulated that both (a) Joe is familiar with every Rolling Stones album, and (b) Joe was surprised to discover Love You Live. (If that were sufficient to make something not belong to some class, or to make something not have some property, then we could just dictate whatever properties we like for anything by stipulating two sentences: "For everything that will die, Frank knows that it will die. Frank doesn't know that Frank will die. Hence, Frank will live forever."--if only it were that simple.)

Of course, one could say that the physicalist view being described is question-begging in that regard, too, but then all it really comes down to is whether someone is pledging allegiance to the physicalist or the dualist camp when we get to interpreting the sentence that Mary knows all of the physical information. Physicalists will read that so that if it's true, then necessarily, there's nothing else that Mary can know. Dualists will read it so that necessarily, that knowledge excludes some information--namely, information about nonphysicals. And that's no successful argument. All it is is getting the folks who already agree with you to agree with you some more, because you're kowtowing to the assumptions they make.

A bit more subtly, some of the problems here hinge on just what we take information or knowledge to be. Definitions of information often specify that it involves knowledge ("knowledge that you get about someone or something : facts or details about a subject," for example, as a definition of "information" from merriam-webster.com), and knowledge is usually parsed in contexts like this as propositional knowledge as opposed to knowledge by acquaintance. There's a big problem with that, though. Propositional knowledge about ANYTHING doesn't give the whole picture. Propositional knowledge is actually just a set of (subjective) meanings (I'm a subjectivist/internalist on meaning) attached to particular sets of words, and stuff that isn't meaning attached to particular sets of words isn't really like meanings attached to particular sets of words. So propositional knowledge about rocks can't give a complete picture of rocks. Rocks have properties, from various reference points, that propositional knowledge can't capture--pretending that it somehow "captures" anything about rocks. Knowledge-by-acquaintance with rocks is always going to be different than propositional knowledge about rocks. That doesn't lead us to speculate that rocks thus can not be physical--as if whether something is physical were to somehow hinge on propositional knowledge in the first place.

Mary's room thus makes the additional mistake of equivocating propositional knowledge and knowledge by acquaintance. Mary experiencing color is knowledge by acquaintance. But Jackson is obviously not talking about knowledge by acquaintance when he stipulates that Mary knows everything physical that there is to know about color. (He says, for example, "She discovers, for example, just which wavelength combinations from the sky stimulate the retina, and exactly how this produces via the central nervous system the contraction of the vocal chords and expulsion of air from the lungs that results in the uttering of the sentence ‘The sky is blue.'") He's talking about propositional knowledge. What Mary acquires when she experiences color, though, is knowledge by acquaintance.
Last edited by Terrapin Station on Mon Oct 24, 2016 5:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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