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What essentially is Good and Evil?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Justme, May 6, 2012.

  1. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

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    Economics is imperfect too. Thus the existence of poor people.
     
  2. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Arguing that the explanation cannot be grasped in no way implies that the explanation is not God.
     
  3. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

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    *shrug* and?
     
  4. Ankari

    Ankari Hero Breaker Moderator

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    Alright, I want to jump in on this. Before we continue down this endless wormhole I would like to see what parameters we all agree on. Allow me to list some observations about the nature of man and his condition. This is to applied to mankind in general:

    1. Man possess a conscience.
    2. There was A begining
    3. There will be AN end.
    4. Man is aware, and thus responsible for his actions.
    5. Man seeks justice when wrong has been done to him/her.
    6. There is a purpose to life.
    7. Mankind is rational (or strives to be rational).


    Can we agree to these parameters before we continue on this topic? I would like to join in, but the way its been done is chaotic.
     
  5. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I'm not at all convinced of #6. From our frame of reference I think numbers 2 and 3 are good enough to be assumed for sake of argument. I'll go along with 6 for purposes of discussion, with the caveat that I don't necessarily think it is true :)
     
  6. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    While I accept all of those, I'm not actually sure an atheist would accept any of them. For instance, our sense of awareness and responsibility may be a product of genetics and upbringing, and not something that would make us responsible for something which conflicted with those two sources. And a conscience could be an internalization of the social construct, an evolutional whatever. And while even cosmologists now hypothesize that time had a starting point, and may have an ending point, that doesn't actually preclude a time-before-time.

    So . . . . I agree with your assumptions, but they're not difficult to question at all.
     
  7. I'm not sure what "scientific reductionism" is.

    I believe that claims should be supported by evidence. If there is insufficient evidence for me to provisionally accept a claim, then I (provisionally) reject that claim.

    I'm not aware of any other approach to the world that makes any sense.
     
  8. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Yes. I was thinking of an oscillating universe scenario. But I think we can still say that for use, time will have a beginning and an end (in other words, the current embodiment of space-time). Although if you believe the universe ends in a cold death instead of oscillating, does time continue beyond that cold death? Seems like it would in some way.
     
  9. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I generally follow the same approach. Where it becomes interesting with religion is that people feel there are personal ways of "knowing" that can't be communicated to others. So even though someone may not be able to offer you evidence, they view their own experience and ways of knowing as evidence sufficient unto them. So it's an impasse.
     
  10. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

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    1) If by conscience you mean feelings of guilt and empathy then yes, barring certain mental conditions
    2) Hm... if you count the big bang then yes, though I kinda think that there was something before it.
    3) Agreed
    4) Agreed
    5) Agreed
    6) If you count life being it's own purpose then agreed
    7) I wouldn't say this is universal, but in all modern day cultures then yes.
     
  11. Presumably if you've decided that you're okay with the consequences, there probably aren't any arguments that will change your mind. I mean, I could go over all the plausible arguments you might make to someone to convince them that they shouldn't rape and murder, and a person could (theoretically) validly disagree with all of them.
     
  12. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    There are theories that there might have been something "before" (though in this context the word "before" is strange), but there is no way to test it so it remains speculation (e.g. oscillating universe).
     
  13. I can't generally agree with these because--and I mean no disrespect--many of them are poorly phrased or are simply not supported by evidence.

    I don't know of any evidence that supports 3, and I don't consider it reasonable to accept it axiomatically. For all we know, the universe will continue indefinitely, eventually grinding down to maximal entropy, and it will stay that way for eternity.

    5 would be more accurately phrased "Sapients typically seek what they consider justice when they perceive that wrong has been done to them."

    I don't agree with 6 at all. Purpose is imbued by sapients. Many people's lives served no apparent purpose at all. (This doesn't mean they don't have a purpose, but if there is no way to conceivably determine that purpose, then for all practical purposes it doesn't exist.)

    7 would be more accurately phrased "Sapients typically act in a rational fashion."

    1, 4, 5, and 7 are all really aspects of the same thing: the emergent behavior of sapient brains.
     
  14. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    There is "evidence" for it. Any of the various oscillating universe models support this. But it isn't proven, of course.
     
  15. It actually doesn't have to be an impasse, if the person with the non-communicable "knowing" accepts the premise that non-communicable knowing is useless for purposes of convincing anyone else.

    For example, Bob has a "religious experience" where he perceives a deity talking to him. But he knows that nobody else perceived it, and that claiming it happened will not convince anyone (let's assume Bob and all his friends are strictly rational). Bob had the experience; he knows it's possible it was a neurological hallucination, but it felt so real that he simply cannot accept it was anything other than actual divine contact.

    But Bob can still choose to ignore that experience when debating with others; his claim that he had this experience is not evidence of anything, and Bob knows that.

    Unfortunately, most people who have such experiences don't really understand that a non-repeatable, non-measurable experience is not evidence of anything, and will say things like "I know God exists because I had a vision!" which is of no use to anyone.
     
  16. Sorry, you're right; I was mis-thinking. As I recall, the current reigning model is of the open-ended universe declining to maximum entropy. Could be wrong.

    Even if we do accept 3, I'm not sure how it affects morality, though (in other words, I'm not sure why Ankari thinks it needs to be accepted in order for us to have a discussion).
     
  17. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    It is an impasse for purposes of getting at the truth. It may be that Bob is right, whether he can convince anyone of it or not. He isn't going to be persuaded otherwise, and the person Bob is trying to convince isn't going to be persuaded by him, but there's no way to ultimately know who is correct.
     
  18. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I think you're right in that the open-ended model has more support. There have been a few new models of the oscillating universe proposed in the last decade or so, but I don't know that they've made much headway, and I'm not knowledgeable on the subject to know what the assumptions are that have to go into the model to make it work :)
     
  19. Fnord

    Fnord Troubadour

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    That's not exactly right either. Benjamin addressed the other points in the same way I would have (and I'd say better than I would have). Economics is the study and the acknowledgement of choices in a world of scarce resources. People are poor for a multitude of reasons, but people are a lot less poor in absolute terms today than they were for the majority of human history. What Queshire seemed to be pointing out that money itself has value only insofar as humans give it value. This is true as well, though on a macro scale value comes from usefulness/desirability of the currency against the ease with which the currency can be acquired. Either way, money doesn't have an objective value and, I'd argue, neither does morality. Steerpike is right in saying that it's hard to prove either way, but reasoning points us toward relativism (societal construct) rather than divine mandate since the latter is a positive claim and that claim has not (and likely cannot) be proven.
     
  20. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Splitting hairs, but I'm not asking if such an argument would be persuasive, I'm asking if there is such an argument that would be logically sound. If morality is a social construct, as I accept the consequences society provides, is there a logical reason not to kill? Or maybe I should ask, if you somehow decided that you wanted to kill someone more than you cared about society's consequences, is there a logically sound reason for you not to?

    Note: I'm not saying you would ever reach that point, or implying anything but that I want to see a logically sound reason for restraining yourself.
     
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