The Malicious Titans Theory

Speculation, discoveries, complaints, accusations, praise, and all other Erfworld discussion.

Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby Balerion » Mon Dec 05, 2011 9:33 pm

ParsonIsOP wrote:1) If you're all-powerful testing people is unnecessary. Just make them perfect. You have that ability and you don't need to resort to trial-and-error training to get what you want out of people.


And what if a person with the free will to kill other people is perfect? you will have a world with murder (ie evil), despite your all-powerful nature. If you give a being free will, it pretty much by definition has the choice to do evil. So is it worth taking everyone's free will to create a world without evil? or is it worth accepting some evil in order to allow free will? I would say yes.

And if you decide it is worth it to give people free will, you would be remiss if you didn't then try to guide them as they grew, to make them understand how they should use that will. I think Erfworld crosses the line as to molding through hardship, but we don't know what it looked like in its initial state.

Some of this gets into exactly what we mean by all powerful; I think there are a priori logical truths that can't be altered even by an all-powerful being, because they simply are (1=1 etc). What free will is would be one of those things; it is a concept, a definition, not a creation. A being that could make 1=2 (conceptually, not just be making 2 another symbol for 1 :P ) doesn't make sense, and I don't include it in my definition of all powerful.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby Kreistor » Mon Dec 05, 2011 9:43 pm

ParsonIsOP wrote:Buddha was supposed to have said that everybody should be able to attain Enlightenment and was also said to have female disciples. It didn't keep sexism out of the religion though.


Couldn't care less. You're not making a point, just spouting irrelevant history.

So basically, you don't know because of "missing context." Great.


Obviously, I do know. I couldn't have explained it if I didn't.

Now explain the bits where people also used it to justify woman's subservience to man. That and a creation story where a woman was at fault for Man's fall. But I'm sure I'm just taking those "out of context." And explain how it's only recently that women priests are becoming more common (and even then, are relatively rare).


Don't need to. It's not Judeo-christian, because modern Christianity and Judaism rejects it.

None of these "true intentions" excuses how the religion *has* behaved because that just goes into the usual accusation of orthodox/conservative believers by more liberal/progressive believers as not be True Scotsman. If you get to use that excuse, so do Muslims.


How does this relate to the correlation of modern Jewish and Christian values?

Am I allowed to vilify you for the actions of your ancestors? Are you German and can I accuse you of the actions of the Third Reich? Spanish, so I can vilify you for the anti-semitism that drove all Jews out? English, so I can vilify you for treatment of the Indians (Hindu)? American, with the horrid theft of land from Natives, and the starvation, rape, and pillage of reservations? Sometimes merely for the hint of gold in the land?

My point is that I am not guilty of the activities of Christians in the past, just like you are not guilty of the actions of your ancestors. Expecting me to apologize for their actions is absurd... and irrelevant. My morality would not permit me to commit the acts they did.

And again, you are bashing Christians for their history, not discussing the term Judeo-christian. Judeo-christian is based on the modern interpretation of Christianity, not ancient.

And I'm pointing out that a term like "Judeo-Buddhism" would be equally forced and artificial as "Judeo-Christian." One has slightly more overlap than the other, but ideas like the "Golden Rule" are hardly uncommon (and even then I don't find the Golden Rule all that impressive as far as moral insight goes).


Again, that does not invalidate that there is overlap. It does not invalidate that the American Constitution draws much of its morality from the Christianity of its authors, and that it was the tolerance of the Protestants that fled persecution in Europe that created the most permissive society in the World.

There's speculation that pigs bear an eerie resemblance to humans in many ways and so it felt uncomfortable like cannibalism.


Oh, no, that one is scientifically proven. The last tests for medical experiments are on pigs, because of our similarities. Any doctor will tell you pigs carry the most parasites that are dangerous to us of any other animal, which is why they are so heavily medicated. Sorry, but the science on that one is 100% solid.

But that's irrelevant because none of those health reasons actually are the stated reasons for not eating pork. Religion provides a supernatural explanation for why you shouldn't eat pork, not medical ones. We know that it's not medical motivations that drive contemporary kosher practice.


Again, totally irrelevant to modern morality. You're bashing religion, not making points against the term Judeo-christian.

I honestly don't care about the theology given about eating pork, it's still a supernatural explanation, not a medical or scientific one.


Actually, I'm demonstrating that you haven't done any study at all on this issue, and are talking out your derriere. Making things up as you go, instead of studying the issue. I know why these decisions were made, and you don't, but you're demonstrating that you will vilify people from a position of ignorance. That's not a positive character trait.

And there's basically my point. If it's "broad spectrum" then you can claim nothing as being particularly unique morality-wise about "Judeochrisanity." You don't get around it by pretending that some "true intent" was perverted.


No, it is all the more important that similar morality be identified. It demonstrates the core values, which would be Judeo-christian when Judaism is included. It is that core that unites Christians of different denominations, and unity is very important to a group.

I will also point out that while "Judeochristianity" has a prohibition against murder, it is sometime very immoral about what constitutes sanctioned killing and not murder. There are lots of objectionable bits about genocide and it God does some killings, nobody can call him out on it on the assumption that he's got some "mysterious plan."


God has never killed anyone. Prove otherwise.

Oh to be fair, there are plenty of modern Christians who don't think those bits ought to be "taken literally" but it does take the idea that they have some unique system of morality and put it through a wood chipper. And I certainly don't think Jews and Christians have that much in common except that which they were going to have in common anyway outside of any religious considerations.


Uhm.. outside of religious considerations? Judeo-christian is an inherently religious term, so why is that relevant?

Anyway, that's my last post on this. Have the last word if you must. It's clear that you're just looking to bash on Christians specifically and religion in general, and you can't tell that 30% of the people walking past you on the street go to Church every Sunday. Those are the Christians with Judeo-christian values, and that's why they're relevant.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby drachefly » Mon Dec 05, 2011 9:48 pm

Kreistor wrote:
I will also point out that while "Judeochristianity" has a prohibition against murder, it is sometime very immoral about what constitutes sanctioned killing and not murder. There are lots of objectionable bits about genocide and it God does some killings, nobody can call him out on it on the assumption that he's got some "mysterious plan."


God has never killed anyone. Prove otherwise.


... Can we use the bible as evidence, here?
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby Housellama » Mon Dec 05, 2011 10:01 pm

Balerion wrote:
ParsonIsOP wrote:1) If you're all-powerful testing people is unnecessary. Just make them perfect. You have that ability and you don't need to resort to trial-and-error training to get what you want out of people.


And what if a person with the free will to kill other people is perfect? you will have a world with murder (ie evil), despite your all-powerful nature. If you give a being free will, it pretty much by definition has the choice to do evil. So is it worth taking everyone's free will to create a world without evil? or is it worth accepting some evil in order to allow free will? I would say yes.

And if you decide it is worth it to give people free will, you would be remiss if you didn't then try to guide them as they grew, to make them understand how they should use that will. I think Erfworld crosses the line as to molding through hardship, but we don't know what it looked like in its initial state.

Some of this gets into exactly what we mean by all powerful; I think there are a priori logical truths that can't be altered even by an all-powerful being, because they simply are (1=1 etc). What free will is would be one of those things; it is a concept, a definition, not a creation. A being that could make 1=2 (conceptually, not just be making 2 another symbol for 1 :P ) doesn't make sense, and I don't include it in my definition of all powerful.


Thank you Balerion for framing part of my reply for me.

Here's the other part of my reply. What is your definition of 'perfect', ParsonIsOP? Does it include free will? If so, how is it regulated? If it denies the ability to do evil, then is it really free will, or is it something else?

I don't believe that the Titans are perfect. I don't believe they could make perfect creatures. I think that the Titans want what every parent wants for their children: for them to be better than they were. To make a better world than they did. Why else did they leave the Arkentools there? What reason, other than simple gross negligence, would possess the Titans to leave behind the very tools of creation on Erf for the inhabitants to find? I'm sure MarbitChow will suggest that it is for their own sadistic amusement, but I don't buy that. There are better ways to do that than giving them the tools used to build the world.

It is possible that the Titans are indeed malicious and built the world as a great big fishbowl to watch their little free-willed Erfworlders scrabble and kill each other with no way out of their maze. However, I see a lot of inconsistencies with that. They haven't involved themselves in the game. Maybe they can't, but why would they build a game that they can't take part in? If they really are sadistic enough to do that in the first place, it is reasonably safe to assume that they would want to actively play rather than just watch. It is also reasonably safe to assume that any attempt to escape the fishbowl would be smacked down. Maybe Parson is going to get smacked down later, but it seems inconsistent that his summoning would even been allowed in the first place. Finally, why would they leave the tools that they used to build their fishbowl inside? I cannot find a good justification for that.

However, if we assume that the Titans are not malicious, then things appear to come into a bit better focus. Free will loses its futility. The Arkentools gain a more justifiable reason for their existence. The lack of Titanic involvement can be more easily supported. I'm not saying that they MUST be benevolent, but from where I'm sitting, willful maliciousness seems harder to support with the story so far.

As always, YMMV.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby MarbitChow » Mon Dec 05, 2011 11:48 pm

Housellama wrote:The first tenant in every Buddhist sect is to strive not to kill any living thing. Pain, however, is everywhere. Life is suffering is the first belief of pretty much every Buddhist sect. And the ones where it isn't the first, it's pretty high up there. So inflicting pain on a student to teach would be acceptable. A man who intentionally killed a student would, by definition, not be a Zen master. Period. He may call himself a Zen master, but calling yourself a priest does not make you holy.

Replace 'Zen Master' with, simply, 'Teacher'. If a teacher kills a student in order to teach the rest, is he evil? Erfworlds lessons all appear to reinforce that killing is a positive force. Even love (as in romantic interaction between willing equals) seems to be rare, if not impossible, the way Erfworld is set up currently.

Housellama wrote:The lessons you learn are based on the things you seek to find. You seek to find evil in the Titans, and so you will. I choose to see the possible positive outcomes of Erfworld. Like I said, your mileage may vary. I never said my way was the right way. I simply said it was one way. Take it as you will, or leave it by the roadside.

People can learn life-affirming lessons after being subjected to psychopaths and surviving. It doesn't make the psychopaths less evil. Does Jigsaw (from the Saw series) get a pass for those people who survive and embrace life afterwards?

People on Earth learn that cooperation trumps competition in the long run; Civilization flourishes from that lesson. Such a lesson can be learned through game theory and observation, as well as through the scriptures of most religions. The history of mankind continually reinforces it.

But people in Erfworld seem to learn that killing is good, and the most efficient way to get what you want. Can you site examples where the nature of Erfworld itself in any way communicates a positive message?

Housellama wrote:I don't believe that the Titans are perfect. I don't believe they could make perfect creatures. I think that the Titans want what every parent wants for their children: for them to be better than they were. To make a better world than they did. Why else did they leave the Arkentools there? What reason, other than simple gross negligence, would possess the Titans to leave behind the very tools of creation on Erf for the inhabitants to find? I'm sure MarbitChow will suggest that it is for their own sadistic amusement, but I don't buy that. There are better ways to do that than giving them the tools used to build the world.

So far, the 'Tools in the hands of the inhabitants have lead only to destruction. Charlie uses his tool to gather intelligence and stir up trouble. Wanda uses hers to justify killing instead of turning, since it's more expedient. Even Stanley uses his Tool only for conquest. The Titans may want the inhabitants to be able to build a better world, but it sort of looks like they've done the equivalent of handing power tools to toddlers.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby ParsonIsOP » Mon Dec 05, 2011 11:56 pm

Housellama wrote:
Balerion wrote:
ParsonIsOP wrote:1) If you're all-powerful testing people is unnecessary. Just make them perfect. You have that ability and you don't need to resort to trial-and-error training to get what you want out of people.


And what if a person with the free will to kill other people is perfect? you will have a world with murder (ie evil), despite your all-powerful nature. If you give a being free will, it pretty much by definition has the choice to do evil. So is it worth taking everyone's free will to create a world without evil? or is it worth accepting some evil in order to allow free will? I would say yes.

And if you decide it is worth it to give people free will, you would be remiss if you didn't then try to guide them as they grew, to make them understand how they should use that will. I think Erfworld crosses the line as to molding through hardship, but we don't know what it looked like in its initial state.

Some of this gets into exactly what we mean by all powerful; I think there are a priori logical truths that can't be altered even by an all-powerful being, because they simply are (1=1 etc). What free will is would be one of those things; it is a concept, a definition, not a creation. A being that could make 1=2 (conceptually, not just be making 2 another symbol for 1 :P ) doesn't make sense, and I don't include it in my definition of all powerful.


Thank you Balerion for framing part of my reply for me.

Here's the other part of my reply. What is your definition of 'perfect', ParsonIsOP? Does it include free will? If so, how is it regulated? If it denies the ability to do evil, then is it really free will, or is it something else?

I don't believe that the Titans are perfect. I don't believe they could make perfect creatures. I think that the Titans want what every parent wants for their children: for them to be better than they were. To make a better world than they did. Why else did they leave the Arkentools there? What reason, other than simple gross negligence, would possess the Titans to leave behind the very tools of creation on Erf for the inhabitants to find? I'm sure MarbitChow will suggest that it is for their own sadistic amusement, but I don't buy that. There are better ways to do that than giving them the tools used to build the world.

It is possible that the Titans are indeed malicious and built the world as a great big fishbowl to watch their little free-willed Erfworlders scrabble and kill each other with no way out of their maze. However, I see a lot of inconsistencies with that. They haven't involved themselves in the game. Maybe they can't, but why would they build a game that they can't take part in? If they really are sadistic enough to do that in the first place, it is reasonably safe to assume that they would want to actively play rather than just watch. It is also reasonably safe to assume that any attempt to escape the fishbowl would be smacked down. Maybe Parson is going to get smacked down later, but it seems inconsistent that his summoning would even been allowed in the first place. Finally, why would they leave the tools that they used to build their fishbowl inside? I cannot find a good justification for that.

However, if we assume that the Titans are not malicious, then things appear to come into a bit better focus. Free will loses its futility. The Arkentools gain a more justifiable reason for their existence. The lack of Titanic involvement can be more easily supported. I'm not saying that they MUST be benevolent, but from where I'm sitting, willful maliciousness seems harder to support with the story so far.

As always, YMMV.

Kind of busy writing a paper now, but I'll try to address the general thrust of the discussion as summarily as I can before later giving a more-detailed response, if called for.

I have and will maintain that free will is an illusion. I have an in-depth summary of my views elsewhere, but suffice it to say, it's a made-up abstraction that clumsily asserts that you have absolute freedom from circumstances of birth, upbringing, genetics and other contingent event you could name. But for the sake of argument, a system in which an all-knowing creator knows all the conditions of your life and how they will unfold is by definition a deterministic system. Just because you have choices doesn't mean those choices aren't caused and predetermined. Really what you savor in this process of decision-making is the savory feel of control, which is largely subjective.

I also don't get exactly where people get the notion that free will is supposed to be a good thing. It's one of those cultural assumptions that always annoys me. As people keep rightly pointing out, people ought to behave, but don't. And the rest of society then has to proceed with the challenge of using force to play out the best decision on the Game Theory social contract thinga-ma-bobber. (This by no means should be taken as an endorsement of authoritarianism, as I consider myself far-and-away the opposite.)

As for "perfect" pick an agreed-upon a criteria and go from there (see my explanation of the Problem of Evil in my last post). Generally, I assumed this meant that people's character, for the most part, wouldn't need or want or thrive off of some kind of zero-sum cruelty or sadism. Part-and-parcel to this interpretation is creating a world in which such a character trait simply doesn't exist or need to exist. Mortality and suffering, for the most part, are impossible (or mostly impossible).

If decision-making is really that valuable part of your ideal world, then why exactly do those decisions need to lead to somebody else's loss, instead of say . . . opening up intriguing and mostly benign life opportunities? At what point does having "free will" imply that somebody else has to lose out on the deal?

Lastly: Neither of you know if the Titans are benign or malevolent. To address part of Housellama's more immediate reasoning, how do you know that the Titans don't actively take part in their creation at present? And the simple answer is that you don't. Okay, then let's grant that they DO NOT take an active part in their creation. It still doesn't exclude the possibility of malevolent motivations, since maybe they thought it'd just be a funny practical joke they could chortle about afterwords. Or maybe they just like watching it happen, sort of like reality TV.

My opinion here is simply that both of you are picking options that you feel or want to be true.

In any case, I think it's supposed to be deliberately ambiguous, so that Erfworld will directly mirror the Problem of Evil as it applies to *our* reality.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby ParsonIsOP » Tue Dec 06, 2011 12:25 am

Kreistor wrote:]Again, that does not invalidate that there is overlap. It does not invalidate that the American Constitution draws much of its morality from the Christianity of its authors, and that it was the tolerance of the Protestants that fled persecution in Europe that created the most permissive society in the World.

Are you serious? Most of the founding fathers were diests.

The seperation of powers, freedom of speech, religion and so on are not Christian values by any stretch of the imagination. These are Enlightenment values.

I'm sorry, but I cannot let this go. You don't get to say this about a country that's about separation of church and state. Historically, churches wanted theocracies, not a secular seperation. Just ask the Church of England, Russian Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Church. And even in America, Baptists and Puritans wasted no time persecuting each other. Event today, there's a significant American majority today that want to undermine the First Amendment and establish foreign and domestic policy based on their favored theology.

You remind me of moderate and liberal Muslims who keep parroting on-and-on about how Islam really is actually religion of tolerance. And to be fair, that has some precedent, but it's basically just a case of the believer making up what they want their religion to be. Their religion always supports their own favored code of morality, regardless of the historical track record or the what actually happens to be in their own Scriptures.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby Housellama » Tue Dec 06, 2011 12:32 am

ParsonIsOP wrote:My opinion here is simply that both of you are picking options that you feel or want to be true.


That's the absolute truth, in my case anyway. I never claimed it wasn't. I made what I consider to be a decent case based on the evidence at hand and some not unreasonable suppositions for the benevolent Titans argument. It may be right, it may be wrong. Only Rob knows. What you think is your business. I'm not out to change anyone elses mind.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby Balerion » Tue Dec 06, 2011 2:28 am

ParsonIsOP wrote:I have and will maintain that free will is an illusion. I have an in-depth summary of my views elsewhere, but suffice it to say, it's a made-up abstraction that clumsily asserts that you have absolute freedom from circumstances of birth, upbringing, genetics and other contingent event you could name. But for the sake of argument, a system in which an all-knowing creator knows all the conditions of your life and how they will unfold is by definition a deterministic system. Just because you have choices doesn't mean those choices aren't caused and predetermined. Really what you savor in this process of decision-making is the savory feel of control, which is largely subjective.


I would disagree on both points. First with your definition; no version of free will I know of claims that there are not factors which help influence your decision. but that is what those things are: influences. None of them are determinative. None of them force you to make a certain choice. My will is the thing which sits weighing factors of societal approval vs personal gain vs harm/gain to loved ones vs.... Secondly, what kind of piss poor omnipotent being is confined to a linear view of time :P? The "how does the omniscient being know what i am going to do if i have free will" problem only exists if you assume they can't simply look into the future... which omnipotent beings should be able to do?

As to the largely subjective... I will change my tune when we can statistically predict an individual's decision. Until then, I would say that feeling I have that I can make my own choices (like for instance to finish this post or not) exists. And claiming that the decision to finish this post is a result of my birth/upbringing/genetics without influence of my will seems a bit silly to me, in addition to unsupported.

I also don't get exactly where people get the notion that free will is supposed to be a good thing. It's one of those cultural assumptions that always annoys me. As people keep rightly pointing out, people ought to behave, but don't. And the rest of society then has to proceed with the challenge of using force to play out the best decision on the Game Theory social contract thinga-ma-bobber. (This by no means should be taken as an endorsement of authoritarianism, as I consider myself far-and-away the opposite.)


If you are not a fan of authoritarianism.... what exactly do you think a desirable alternative to free will is? I would say people are a fan of it because the alternatives are horrifying. Also, why is punishing those who transgress against free will? We don't try to take the decision from them, merely help to define the outcomes. We then assume that people will make a rational choice... but they still have that choice.The idea that "free will" means "freedom from consequence" is false. But it means you have the ability to risk those consequences.

As for "perfect" pick an agreed-upon a criteria and go from there (see my explanation of the Problem of Evil in my last post). Generally, I assumed this meant that people's character, for the most part, wouldn't need or want or thrive off of some kind of zero-sum cruelty or sadism. Part-and-parcel to this interpretation is creating a world in which such a character trait simply doesn't exist or need to exist. Mortality and suffering, for the most part, are impossible (or mostly impossible).

If decision-making is really that valuable part of your ideal world, then why exactly do those decisions need to lead to somebody else's loss, instead of say . . . opening up intriguing and mostly benign life opportunities? At what point does having "free will" imply that somebody else has to lose out on the deal?


Because if you have free will, you have the power to do evil. You can't have one without the other, because if there is something in my head that censors my ability to decide to commit evil, I don't have free will. And when people have the power to commit evil, at some point someone will. If no one does, I am highly suspicious of the claim that they actually can.

Lastly: Neither of you know if the Titans are benign or malevolent. To address part of Housellama's more immediate reasoning, how do you know that the Titans don't actively take part in their creation at present? And the simple answer is that you don't. Okay, then let's grant that they DO NOT take an active part in their creation. It still doesn't exclude the possibility of malevolent motivations, since maybe they thought it'd just be a funny practical joke they could chortle about afterwords. Or maybe they just like watching it happen, sort of like reality TV.

My opinion here is simply that both of you are picking options that you feel or want to be true.

In any case, I think it's supposed to be deliberately ambiguous, so that Erfworld will directly mirror the Problem of Evil as it applies to *our* reality.


The titan's could very well be evil. We need to know a bunch more about what they are and what their goals are before we can decide if they are malicious or not. But the current evidence I don't believe is definitive. The Problem of Evil has a big flaw: it assumes the world could be better. I think that is a pretty major assumption, especially if you need to prove that free will either doesn't exist or isn't worthwhile to make it, which I think is necessary.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby drachefly » Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:34 am

ParsonIsOP wrote:I have and will maintain that free will is an illusion.


Free will is a useful approximation.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby ParsonIsOP » Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:45 pm

Balerion wrote:I would disagree on both points. First with your definition; no version of free will I know of claims that there are not factors which help influence your decision. but that is what those things are: influences. None of them are determinative. None of them force you to make a certain choice. My will is the thing which sits weighing factors of societal approval vs personal gain vs harm/gain to loved ones vs.... Secondly, what kind of piss poor omnipotent being is confined to a linear view of time :P? The "how does the omniscient being know what i am going to do if i have free will" problem only exists if you assume they can't simply look into the future... which omnipotent beings should be able to do?

An influencing factor which is also non-determinative is a contradiction. "Influence" is a subjective judgement about the importance of a prospective cause and typically refer to those causes which are not sufficient in-of-themselves to cause an outcome. This is a nice way of saying that every event has multiple factors which go into making an event happen.

And your will is an event. I can crudely change the shape of your will simply by getting you addicted to some narcotic or by drilling a hole in your brain in just the right place. I can do the same even more crudely by lopping off one of your limbs and letting the trauma (such as it is) of that event take its course. The lack of prenatal care can also alter your character for the rest of your life, whereas a more privileged person would never suffer in the same fashion. Certainty, there are other factors that may mitigate the extent of the damage, but that's not saying much.

Likewise, I know that people pick and choose comfortable beliefs because it is easy to do so. Because those beliefs fit in. Challenging or questioning them in any intellectually honest fashion often leads to consequences such as the loss of loved ones and friends that keep a person emotionally grounded. That or they never get the opportunity to. People pick up a lot by cultural osmosis that shape their character. And that too, was never "decided" upon. Not really. Not consciously at any rate. Certainly one person may take the loss while another won't.

People are too used to the philosophical idol that their will is somehow the doer and causer of everything important in the world. It is not. It is a bottleneck or engine for events, but hardly more important than anything else except what our own pride assigns to it.

For the sake of discussion, realize that I regard "free will" as a inarticulate and self-contradictory bit of gibberish. So when I use it in a sentence, realize I use it tongue-in-cheek.

As to the largely subjective... I will change my tune when we can statistically predict an individual's decision. Until then, I would say that feeling I have that I can make my own choices (like for instance to finish this post or not) exists. And claiming that the decision to finish this post is a result of my birth/upbringing/genetics without influence of my will seems a bit silly to me, in addition to unsupported.

1) Free will is not a necessary condition of being able to make decisions. Basically, you don't get to pretend that there is no alternative explanation for cognitive decision-making on the chance that your explanation is wrong.
2) Whether we can predict an event says nothing about whether those events are predetermined. Our (in)ability to predict things is really just a commentary on our knowledge and the limits of our intellect.
3) As established, your will is an emergent property. It is also an abstraction. It is the sum composition of all the factors you just listed. Your will isn't magic. It's just something your mind happens to do to occupy itself. The reason some people have weak wills is because they never had the opportunity to better themselves, simple as that. Education is a big factor here.

If you are not a fan of authoritarianism.... what exactly do you think a desirable alternative to free will is? I would say people are a fan of it because the alternatives are horrifying. Also, why is punishing those who transgress against free will? We don't try to take the decision from them, merely help to define the outcomes. We then assume that people will make a rational choice... but they still have that choice.The idea that "free will" means "freedom from consequence" is false. But it means you have the ability to risk those consequences.

I made that specific statement because authoritarianism is closer to a political and ethical philosophy than it is a metaphysical belief. Basically, I want to avoid annoying discussions about how one necessarily follows from the other.

Secondly, it isn't about what you want to believe, it's about believing what is true. Either you understand this or you don't. Honestly, I have no idea what's so bad about existential dread that you feel that I need to lie to other people to protect them from it. Existential dread is good for you. It builds character.

Thirdly, I didn't say free will was freedom from consequence. My point throughout is that free will is not in-of-itself, a good thing. People don't cherish free will because it is good (in a broad utilitarian and human progress sense), they cherish it because it makes them feel powerful and in control.

Because if you have free will, you have the power to do evil. You can't have one without the other, because if there is something in my head that censors my ability to decide to commit evil, I don't have free will. And when people have the power to commit evil, at some point someone will. If no one does, I am highly suspicious of the claim that they actually can.

That's a common rationalization. Bluntly, it's a dumb one. It's a silly way to try and establish that an unjust universe is in some way necessary and good. It isn't. Injustice has no utility and it isn't good. Stop trying to square-that-circle.

If you already accept that there are limitations on your power of choice, I don't exactly know why'd you notice a difference or care in a universe that doesn't permit or enable certain choices. I certainly cannot fly by flapping my arms, but I don't complain about how this is such an intrusion upon my autonomy.

drachefly wrote:
ParsonIsOP wrote:I have and will maintain that free will is an illusion.


Free will is a useful approximation.

It's also an annoying piece of obscurantism.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby MarbitChow » Wed Dec 07, 2011 1:08 am

ParsonIsOP, you can certainly hold the position that, if every conceivable factor were known, the outcome of every decision would be able to be determined. A belief in a Newtonian universe can easily lead you to such a conclusion. Subatomic theory casts doubt that the universe is Newtonian, but we're really just arguing semantics at this point.

You can state that Free Will is an illusion, but we cannot model all of the inputs into the brain that would allow us to accurately predict the actions of any individual, so it's a perfectly functional short-cut. Even knowing that the system is completely deterministic, drawing the analogy of chaos theory to consciousness means that, even if we knew all the inputs completely accurately, the future state of that consciousness is unpredictable.

So even if 'Free Will' is in fact an illusion, it's a useful one, since it reminds us that these independent consciousnesses, while potentially deterministic, are not predictable.

In an attempt to steer this back on topic, society has assigned positive and negative values to methods of restricting the complete exercise of free will. For example, children are rewarded when they behave 'properly', and punished when they behave improperly. Violent individuals are restrained or killed to prevent them from hurting others. But it's wrong to beat a child severely as punishment, even though they might learn the lesson faster.

If the Titans exist (we assume that they do for this argument), and if they created the world the way they wanted it to be (again, we assume that they did for this argument), their motivations appear to fall into one of two broad categories:

1) They do this for entertainment. Playing a game, running a simulation, whatever you want to call it - the Titans are doing this to primarily alleviate their own boredom.
If this is their primary motivation, based on how they created Erfworld, would they be considered benevolent or cruel?

2) They do this to teach the inhabitants. What is the lesson may depend entirely on your own perspective - some may see them trying to create a world for them to rise above spiritually; like Job, the more they suffer, the greater their reward eventually is. It is also possible that they are being trained to be the best possible killers.
If teaching is the primary motivation, how would you judge them? Are they the equivalent of nurturing or abusive parents?
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby ParsonIsOP » Wed Dec 07, 2011 3:03 am

MarbitChow wrote:ParsonIsOP, you can certainly hold the position that, if every conceivable factor were known, the outcome of every decision would be able to be determined. A belief in a Newtonian universe can easily lead you to such a conclusion. Subatomic theory casts doubt that the universe is Newtonian, but we're really just arguing semantics at this point.

You can state that Free Will is an illusion, but we cannot model all of the inputs into the brain that would allow us to accurately predict the actions of any individual, so it's a perfectly functional short-cut. Even knowing that the system is completely deterministic, drawing the analogy of chaos theory to consciousness means that, even if we knew all the inputs completely accurately, the future state of that consciousness is unpredictable.

Oh no, no, no, no. You're not going to start mangling quantum mechanics with pop culture ideas in this discussion. That's just going to piss me off. Your latter paragraph stands quite well on its own without the former.

As for your latter paragraph:

Free will is inarticulate garbage. We wouldn't even need the word "determinism" to compare it to if we had done away with this concept centuries ago. People would just simply accept that there are causes for everything. It's just a badly-disguised superstition anyway that humans believe in for the same reason humans used to believe that the Earth is the center of the cosmos.

Responsibility works quite well without free will to explain it. The value of freedom doesn't need free will to explain it. In effect, free will explains nothing and does nothing but muddy conversation. It's a stop-gap explanation. You don't need to find the causes of why people have the personality or character that they do. You don't need psychology or an appreciation of history. Just make wooing noises and say "will" with the appropriate amount of awe and you don't need to know anything else.

So even if 'Free Will' is in fact an illusion, it's a useful one, since it reminds us that these independent consciousnesses, while potentially deterministic, are not predictable.

That's not what people really believe when they hear the phrase. What they believe is, "I am entitled to infinite power." There is no "maybe" or "perhaps" involved here. It's quite literally the belief that you have a special exemption from the rules of causality.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby BLANDCorporatio » Wed Dec 07, 2011 9:14 am

ParsonIsOP wrote:
drachefly wrote:Free will is a useful approximation.

It's also an annoying piece of obscurantism.


Yaaawn. Whoever thinks the term "Judeochristian" stems from Holocaust guilt should not speak about obscurantism.

If you think "people" (who?) are being vague when they understand free will, look no further than your own filosophy freshman style for fine examples of the art of vaguery, lumping stuff together and oversimplifiyng with little care for nuance.

ParsonIsOP wrote:For the sake of discussion, realize that I regard "free will" as a inarticulate and self-contradictory bit of gibberish. So when I use it in a sentence, realize I use it tongue-in-cheek.


Now this is a sensible thing to say. OTOH, most people would not start from the assumption that free will is inarticulate and self-contradictory gibberish; in fact, the reasons why you think it is may have been considered and dismissed by them as irelevant. If you really want to discuss free will, it would be better to first define what it is, for that is the real problem of the notion, not that it's a mental blanket to shield us from cold causality. At least in the compatibilist interpretation, it isn't.

So what I'm basically saying, in probably too aggressive a tone than was warranted, is that if you want to debate anything (say, free will) then you'd better be open to the idea that others understand the concepts differently than you think they do. So rather than bashing reflexively when someone mentions, for example, "free will", agree to be speaking the same language first.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby MarbitChow » Wed Dec 07, 2011 10:01 am

ParsonIsOP wrote:Oh no, no, no, no. You're not going to start mangling quantum mechanics with pop culture ideas in this discussion. That's just going to piss me off. Your latter paragraph stands quite well on its own without the former.

The only concept I wanted to lift from quantum mechanics was the idea that we couldn't actually observe everything enough to be able to fully predict events, so we can only discuss probabilities about how people will react.

ParsonIsOP wrote:
So even if 'Free Will' is in fact an illusion, it's a useful one, since it reminds us that these independent consciousnesses, while potentially deterministic, are not predictable.

That's not what people really believe when they hear the phrase. What they believe is, "I am entitled to infinite power." There is no "maybe" or "perhaps" involved here. It's quite literally the belief that you have a special exemption from the rules of causality.

I disagree with your assessment. In my experience, Free Will (at least in modern discussions) simply refers to the ability to act free of external influence at the moment of action, and assumes that the brain is operating properly (not damaged or insane, for example).

I understand the value of semantics and definitions. I've been using "acting under Free Will" to mean that the individual is not under any form of enforced external compulsion. Most people acknowledge that decisions of an individual will be determined by what they've previously learned, as well as current biological and environmental factors:

People who were otherwise good can be reduced to cannibalism in cases of extreme hunger.
Fight or Flight instincts tended to dominate reactions unless the individual has been trained to ignore them, as soldiers are.
People are taught early on to obey /trust people in certain clothing - doctors, medics, police, firemen - even suits confer a level of authority or respect.

But we don't legally excuse someone who murders someone else just because a man in a suit told them to. We DO excuse it, however, if the brain doesn't appear to be processing input correctly (insanity).

Erfworld, unlike our own world, has a large number of mechanics (or at least a single, very versatile mechanic) that directly controls brains. Suggestion spells, Duty compulsions, Orders from superiors - all act as overrides to the brain.
Based on our Western sensibilities and civilities, would we consider such an environment 'good' or 'evil', and what does that say about the creators?
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby drachefly » Wed Dec 07, 2011 10:13 am

If this forum had a 'co-sign' feature, I would apply it to BlandCorporatio's most recent post in this thread.

tl;dr: +1
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby BLANDCorporatio » Wed Dec 07, 2011 10:14 am

drachefly wrote:If this forum had a 'co-sign' feature, I would apply it to BlandCorporatio's most recent post in this thread.

tl;dr: +1


:lol: Aww man, you're right. Brevity is the soul of wit and I am truly witless.

Here's to hoping that writing a lot is an exercise for developping concision.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby Balerion » Wed Dec 07, 2011 12:54 pm

Going to let the rest slide by, cause I think bland hit the nail on the head with definitional differences. But two points I didn't like enough to hit them specifically:

ParsonIsOP wrote:That's a common rationalization. Bluntly, it's a dumb one. It's a silly way to try and establish that an unjust universe is in some way necessary and good. It isn't. Injustice has no utility and it isn't good. Stop trying to square-that-circle.


Your understanding of utility theory is flawed. You have two options, A and B. Utility theory says that you should pick the highest utility option; it does not say you need to pick an option that has no disutility (yes, it can get more complicated when you start factoring in how the disutility is spread vs how the utility is spread, but the basics are good enough for this). Injustice sucks, no doubt about it. But the benefits gained by allowing people to find for themselves what they actually do get utility from, and then choose to take part in those activities? Those gains are massive, massive enough to outweigh the disutility. You make a sacrifice in order to achieve bigger gains.

If you already accept that there are limitations on your power of choice, I don't exactly know why'd you notice a difference or care in a universe that doesn't permit or enable certain choices. I certainly cannot fly by flapping my arms, but I don't complain about how this is such an intrusion upon my autonomy.


A physical limitation of form has little to do with limitations of will... And given the choice between hands and wings, I want to be in the group that is not regularly fried.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby Glynth » Thu Dec 08, 2011 5:05 am

It's sad that this sort of thing is what's caused me to "delurk" on the forums for this wonderful comic, but ParsonIsOP has successfully pushed two of my biggest anti-fallacy/anti-myth/anti-revisionist "pet peeve" buttons here. I was about to let it go at one, but then I read the second, and no one has called you on them yet from what I've seen. Your vitroilic, combative (one might say "militant") attitude makes it clear you're the exact sort of person that reason and actual facts (not "facts") are not likely to reach as I've used them with your ilk many times before (usually to no avail), but other readers deserve to see the truth even if you're not receptive to it. I'm not about to let these particular points of nonsense stand unchallenged.

First:
ParsonIsOP wrote:None of these "true intentions" excuses how the religion *has* behaved because that just goes into the usual accusation of orthodox/conservative believers by more liberal/progressive believers as not be True Scotsman.


The "no True Scotsman" fallacy doesn't apply to subjective things like what makes someone a proper adherent of a religion. The real fallacy going on here is trying to conflate an objective, unchangeable status (like where you're born and what your ancestry is) with a subjective status that can change over time (one's religion and how one lives up to the moral standards of one's professed religion).

Second:
ParsonIsOP wrote:Are you serious? Most of the founding fathers were diests.


Utter and total nonsense. Who told you that? I certainly hope it wasn't a history teacher; one who'd spout such lies should be fired. Not only were the majority of the Founders unquestionably Christian (a fact that history revisionists want to expunge from the record, for reasons I won't go into here, but they're certainly not benevolent), but famous "deists" like Jefferson aren't even deists by today's standards. That you act as though you are in disbelief shows just how well the revisionists' lies, indoctrination, and echo chambers are working; you're aghast that someone dares utter the facts, and that those facts don't fit into the narrative you've been spoonfed. Need I go on to quote the various Founders and their statements about religion and its indispensable support to a moral and fair government? How about Washington's Farewell Address, for a start?

I'm sorry, but I cannot let this go. You don't get to say this about a country that's about separation of church and state. Historically, churches wanted theocracies, not a secular seperation. Just ask the Church of England, Russian Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Church. And even in America, Baptists and Puritans wasted no time persecuting each other. Event today, there's a significant American majority today that want to undermine the First Amendment and establish foreign and domestic policy based on their favored theology.


You have no idea what "separation of church and state" means or where it comes from, do you? The phrase was coined by Jefferson in a letter to a church, assuring them that the federal government wouldn't intervene in the church's affairs. Clearly the church was concerned about government interference! More history the revisionists want gone! "Separation of church and state" is a good thing, but it does not mean what your ilk says it means. (For crying out loud, the people who wrote and passed the First Amendment held regular Christian Sunday services in the Capitol building; today you can't even have a Nativity scene put up by private citizens in a public space, according to some people.) This separation, when using original meaning instead of activist rewriting of terms, is for the good of both the church and the state, for power corrupts: Political power can corrupt the clergy, and the government (which, let's be honest, hardly needs some clergyman's help to cultivate corruption) should not be able to take up the guise of religion to strengthen its hold on its subjects.

Finally, in response to a third pet peeve of mine I have to contend against all too frequently (word games, semantics, and other sorts of spin to skirt the accepted definitions of terms), I'll join the others agreeing with this:
BLANDCorporatio wrote:if you want to debate anything (say, free will) then you'd better be open to the idea that others understand the concepts differently than you think they do. So rather than bashing reflexively when someone mentions, for example, "free will", agree to be speaking the same language first.


Amen. Debate 101, right there. If only the rules of logic and debate were more seriously studied before people ran off to the Internet to spread their various flavors of ill-considered positions, from groupthink to the more "unique" inanities.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby MarbitChow » Thu Dec 08, 2011 10:54 am

Glynth wrote:It's sad that this sort of thing is what's caused me to "delurk" on the forums for this wonderful comic

Welcome to the Magic Kingdom! Take everything posted here with a 4 lb. salt lick block. :D
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