The Malicious Titans Theory

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

Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby Housellama » Thu Dec 08, 2011 9:20 pm

Glynth wrote: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.


Heh. There's a reason I tend to speak in terms of 'my position'. I've taken a few logic and debate classes. I'm good at it, but it's harder over the internet. There are no rules here, and no one cares about what actually, you know, makes sense? While there is an art to twisting and ignoring facts in debate, there are proper and improper ways to do it.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby Kreistor » Fri Dec 09, 2011 12:49 am

Housellama wrote:Heh. There's a reason I tend to speak in terms of 'my position'. I've taken a few logic and debate classes. I'm good at it, but it's harder over the internet. There are no rules here, and no one cares about what actually, you know, makes sense? While there is an art to twisting and ignoring facts in debate, there are proper and improper ways to do it.


"Twisting and ignoring facts" isn't a positive, to me. If a fact is relevant, then it matters, and it shouldn't be allowed to be twisted to serve an individuals agenda.

Even up to three years ago, I could find people that thought, "It's great to debate on the Internet. No one can prove your facts wrong." To which I proceeded to pile on quotes from texts already converted and made available. In truth, the INternet had placed enormously effective debating tools in our hands against those disingenuous enough to think they could outright lie about what people said.

"makes sense", eh? I kinda wonder how anything based on twisted and ignored facts "makes sense".

Internet debating does have its rules. Don't claim victory. Insulting your opponent has consequences. But what it comes down to is that Internet debating is really about the same thing as classic debating. You are trying to impress the audience, not the opponent. And that is what a lot of trolls miss. They think that they don't lose if their opponent can't prove, to the troll's satisfaction, that the troll is wrong. Debating has never been about convincing the opponent: it's about converting the audience. The opponent can simply say, "No, that's not good enough" forever. But they still lost, and they don't understand how or why.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby ParsonIsOP » Sat Dec 10, 2011 4:47 pm

BLANDCorporatio wrote:
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.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judeo-Christian#Judeo-Christian_concept_in_interfaith_relations

Am I being flippant? Probably. But my point remains that the term was widely adopted because for basically ignoble and artificial political reasons. And by "ignoble," I mean making a cheap show of solidarity where it never existed before. The real obscurantists are the people who made the term popular in the first place for reasons of expediency.

That it is also currently used as a term to exclude Muslims shows that it is basically a social club of one member and one honorary member. The rest of the world is not invited on the implicit and unspoken assumption that they're all immoral heathens.

- Faith is not unique to Christianity, so any Christian virtues that praise it as morally exemplary is not enough to establish it as part of a unique tradition.
- Most modern values involving democracy and human progress is vaguely ascribed to the Enlightenment, but it certainly didn't have religious origins.
- Most common laws about theft, murder or other basic principles related to the social contract are not unique to Christianity. Many religions sensibly enshrine some or many of these concepts, though not always to the same implementation.
- Guilt-tripping yourself for impure thoughts, is again, not unique to Christianity. Many religions do this too.

And nobody bothers saying Christo-Islamic. Though it wouldn't surprise me if "Abrahamic" were to become popular for similar reasons, though the label isn't at all flattering as you might think. I speculate that Islam is going through growing pains and will somehow rationalize the more barbaric parts of its history away to the point that nobody will second-guess the more liberal claims they might make.

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.

The definition I'm using is either implied or stated. Read between the lines.

Also compatibilism is equally incoherent precisely because of the lack of a hard-and-fast definition for "free will." This is entire problem in the first place. It's a mishmash collection of cultural assumptions with no real agreed upon meaning. I'm not a compatabilist in the strict sense of the term because I don't regard it as coherent enough to be descriptive.

So when people tell me that it's a useful approximation. Well, no it isn't. In the average philosophical conversation about "free will," it is always implictly assumed that you get to confuse your entitlement issues as a justification for some weird condition of infinite freedom.

There is none of this ambiguity if you just say "liberty" or "rights" or "freedom." But say "free will" and ohhhh boy.

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.

Oh, I'm feeling pretty enraged by this point alright, but not by any aggression. I know what definitions are being raised by other people and am specifically saying that this is how they're not colloquially used.

I have no other specific disagreement with the concept that a will is a deterministic event that might approximately be called "free will" because we've always done things that way. Nor is it hard for me to comprehend that they can be unpredictable. I've been saying as much all along. But none of that challenges or enhances my understanding.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby ParsonIsOP » Sat Dec 10, 2011 5:20 pm

Balerion wrote: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.

I know what it is. Now actually read what I said.

Your argument is that evil (of a given value) choices are actually good because it is a necessary condition of free will. No it isn't. You haven't actually established that. It's a total non-sequitur.

Utility, broadly speaking, is concerned with human progress. That is, it's concerned with increasing quality of life and a person's sense of well-being without having to short-change somebody else's in the process. Your rights end where another person's begins. You can have freedom and still have your choices limited, because in any practical implementation, it simply means that you aren't unduly tyrannized by other humans or forced to accept the "natural course" of things like famine or disease (for wholly arbitrary made-up reasons like "Fate" or "Providence").

You're arguing that choices that people make which impinge upon utility are actually necessary as a part of achieving liberty or freedom. That reasoning simply does not work. Again, your personal expression shouldn't have to hurt another person. But we live in a universe where such expression not only can harm other people, but is often a matter of life or death.

If you were born in a universe where murder is intrinsically impossible, would you still complain that your free will is somehow being violated? Would you even notice or care? Or would you be too busy just bothering with whatever satisfies your sense of free expression in that particular universe? It's simply possible that it simply doesn't top your list of human priorities.

You don't need to satisfy your yearning for freedom by necessarily giving somebody the short shrift. That's idiotic. Even in this universe.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby ParsonIsOP » Sat Dec 10, 2011 6:06 pm

Glynth wrote: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).

Wikipedia wrote:No true Scotsman is an informal logical fallacy, an ad hoc attempt to retain an unreasoned assertion.[1] When faced with a counterexample to a universal claim, rather than denying the counterexample or rejecting the original universal claim, this fallacy modifies the subject of the assertion to exclude the specific case or others like it by rhetoric, without reference to any specific objective rule.

Which is exactly is what is happening when one Christian accuses another of not being a True Christian.

If I say that True Christians aren't racists, then that meets all listed criteria.
1) There is a counterexample: Some Christians genuinely are racists and will get special recognition as Christians such in all other respects, however "misguided" they may be.
2) Most sane people will agree that the universal claim could not work. And there's no way to deny the veracity of the claim unless you suddenly want to exclude the vast majority of people who call themselves Christians. The claim that somebody isn't *really* a Christian is crassly elitist.
3) There is no objective rule in effect defining what a True Christian is. My guess? The person made the rule up "ad hoc." This is often the case since most Christians aren't even aware of what's in their Bible or that The Law isn't just the Ten Commandments.

I might also point out that the No True Scotsman is based on a hypothetical Scotsman complaining that no real Scotsman could ever be a murderer. Being Scottish *is* subjective, given that national identity mutates and evolves with the culture. For practical purposes, the subjectivity or objectivity of the designation is irrelevant. It's enough that the criteria of exclusion a person might use are arbitrary and irrational

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?

Yes, they regard religion as a good thing in general. But my claim was never that they thought it was a bad thing, but that they were Diests. The position that America was intended to be a Christian nation is ridiculous. They wanted it to be religion-friendly. I don't really agree with them on the benefits of religion, and I think, given a different historical context, they woudn't either. But that's neither-here-nor-there.

George Washington's personal beliefs were never particularly clear, but I'll grant that he was a Christian in some generic non-denominational sense for the sake of argument. However, the actual wording of his address never directly mentions Christianity, just "religion." I'm not shitting you. Just do a word-search of his address for "Christ" or "Christianity." You won't find it. GW wanted to be all-inclusive and may have shared similar views with other founding fathers that while the project of religion was generally noble, none of them could claim to be authoritative or even particularly well-implemented moral philosophies.

However:
John Adams was a Unitarian.
Ben Franklin flatly identified as a deist. Though he did regard himself as Christian in perhaps in some sense of moral philosophy.
Thomas Jefferson was "inclined towards deism," believed in a material god and hated organized religion. He did however identify with "Christian moral philosophy," whatever that means (nothing actually).

Flatly: Yes, most of them were diests and believed in a non-interventionist and impersonal diety. Hell, even George Washington would seem to qualify, given his non-ritualistic tendencies and general non-denominational views.

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.

Soooo . . . you agree with me? I don't understand your point. Do you even know what seperation of church/state means?

This isn't a Christian nation except in the strictest sense that they are the majority, in the way that white people are a majority. One religion is not favored over another and cannot be favored over another. (And no, don't start making flatulent noises about how it's Christian to be tolerant. The liberal Muslims are already doing enough of that as it is. And I've probably heard more than a few Buddhists say the same.)

A non-interventionist government cannot promote or favor one religion over another using government funding or property. So no, you ought not have a nativity scene on government property because that is flatly promoting Christianity over Islam or Judaism or even the worship of Greek gods. None of the latter examples have a particular reverence for Jesus. (Though Muslims regard Jesus as *a* prophet, it's doubtful the nativity scene would be their first choice.)

If you're offended by the idea of Christian Chaplains using our armed forces as a place to preach and gain converts, you should be. Because that's what's actually happening in America. If you're Wiccan, atheist, Jewish or anything else, there's a good chance you'll be pressured into conversion.

If I suddenly put a scene of Buddha sitting under a palm tree on govt property what do you think would happen with the Christian majority when they found out? I can guess. They'd probably complain about how Christians are being persecuted.

Anyway freedom of religion means freedom from religion. You must necessarily have the choice to opt out of religion.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby Balerion » Sat Dec 10, 2011 11:28 pm

ParsonIsOP wrote:Your argument is that evil (of a given value) choices are actually good because it is a necessary condition of free will. No it isn't. You haven't actually established that. It's a total non-sequitur.


I see the problem. I have either done a terrible job of explaining, or you have horrendously misinterpreted what I have been saying. Or I was right the first time, and you are not understanding utility theory. Of course the evil actions are bad. The evil choices are never good, which is why we are calling them evil. What is good is the power to make such a choice, because it is the same power as that which lets you make good choices. Using that power for evil is always disutility; but the times it gets used for good heavily outweighs the resultant evil. If you could have one without the other, that would be awesome. But unless you have an idea on how to pull that off, we are stuck with putting up with a little evil for a lot of good. And utility theory says a net utility gain is a good thing.

ParsonIsOP wrote:Utility, broadly speaking, is concerned with human progress. That is, it's concerned with increasing quality of life and a person's sense of well-being without having to short-change somebody else's in the process. Your rights end where another person's begins. You can have freedom and still have your choices limited, because in any practical implementation, it simply means that you aren't unduly tyrannized by other humans or forced to accept the "natural course" of things like famine or disease (for wholly arbitrary made-up reasons like "Fate" or "Providence").


Utility for an individual has nothing to do with who gets shortchanged as a result. Utility for a group of people will; most evil actions come from that fact, where an individual can increase their utility at the expense of another. But notice: he still got utility. Perhaps more than he costed. You are adding a very complicated moral judgement to utility theory without backing it up. In fact, it is pretty much never possible to avoid shortchanging someone on a decision; if I give lots of poor people health care, someone has to pay for it, decreasing their utility. But if the NET utility goes up, that would make it a good decision. But there is also a very complicated balancing act of avoiding too much burden of disutility on any particular group, so as to avoid creating disutility when they fight back or we feel guilty etc. Trying to hand wave that we can never cause disutility as our actions though... I will be giving a thought experiment later on down that shows how crazy that idea is.

ParsonIsOP wrote:You're arguing that choices that people make which impinge upon utility are actually necessary as a part of achieving liberty or freedom. That reasoning simply does not work. Again, your personal expression shouldn't have to hurt another person. But we live in a universe where such expression not only can harm other people, but is often a matter of life or death.


Bolding is mine.So lets try this idea out.
Spoiler: show
It's back when the Wii first came out. I am the last one in line at the store's overnight line who will get one (spot 200). I see another person come up to the line with a little kid, gushing about how he can't wait to get a Wii. I now have a choice: do I get out of line, or do I remain? According to your theory, my personal expression shouldn't have to hurt anyone. Since staying in line will hurt that little kid, I should therefore get out of line.

But wait; the father knows that by putting me in this position, he forces me to make a choice that lowers my utility. He made a choice that hurt me by coming to the store with his kid (and if not me because there is room behind me, then whoever's spot he gets in line/keeps them from getting). But his other option was disappointing his kid, also causing harm. He, in fact, does not have a decision that doesn't harm someone. So it is impossible for him to express himself without causing harm. And what the hell am I doing in line? By being there, I am depriving people of their happiness. But what if by not getting one, my own kid will be terribly disappointed? Now I have an impossible decision too!

Clearly, you blame the shoddy construction of the universe for this fact. Everyone should have all the Wiis they want, given to them by our omnipotent god himself. Children who are raised this way (in extreme luxury) are generally considered spoiled, and quite often are horrible people. One might suppose, in fact, that some level of struggle to acquire items like Wiis helps with character development. Disutility, in small amounts, might actually have a purpose.


End of thought experiment.

ParsonIsOP wrote:If you were born in a universe where murder is intrinsically impossible, would you still complain that your free will is somehow being violated? Would you even notice or care? Or would you be too busy just bothering with whatever satisfies your sense of free expression in that particular universe? It's simply possible that it simply doesn't top your list of human priorities.

You don't need to satisfy your yearning for freedom by necessarily giving somebody the short shrift. That's idiotic. Even in this universe.


If I have power to act in a way that involves the happiness of another person, I have the power to harm them. There is no getting around that. And I think in the end, that is the part you are not getting. That somehow, I can have power to act involving other people, but not the power to inflict evil upon them. The only way to protect them from my actions is to make their happiness not dependent on what I do; you limit my power to effect the world, which would be how the no-murder universe worked. But what the hell does a world look like where people cannot effect each other's happiness (which is the only way to eliminate evil entirely)? Do you really want to live there? Do you really think it is better than this world? Would we be much more than rocks, when you got right down to it?

Cause its not just physical action; words can hurt too. Communication with you allows me to have influence over your happiness. I can use it for evil, either by trolling you, or even something a simple as making a group that refuses to include you. So if I am going to have free will and the guarantee that I cannot harm another being, I can't communicate with another being. And that world? I think it sucks a lot more that ours.

And if you still want to insist on say no murder and a few other things, at that point we are arguing about the balance point of how much power we should allow with free will. And if you want to go down that road, I can go and add the parts I deleted from here (as its way too long already) discussing how the no-murder thing is an incredibly complicated undertaking, affecting utility in all sorts of ways I am willing to bet you didn't think about.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby BLANDCorporatio » Sun Dec 11, 2011 8:05 am

ParsonIsOP wrote:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judeo-Christian#Judeo-Christian_concept_in_interfaith_relations

Am I being flippant? Probably. But my point remains that the term was widely adopted because for basically ignoble and artificial political reasons. And by "ignoble," I mean making a cheap show of solidarity where it never existed before.

That it is also currently used as a term to exclude Muslims {snip} And nobody bothers saying Christo-Islamic.


While the lack of "Muslim" in "Judeo-Christian" is telling ("Abrahamic religions", or less accurately "monotheist religions", are terms that appear less often than Judeo-Christian), the fact that there is a cultural/religious connection between Judaism and Christianity was aknowledged at least since Nietzsche, and if that link you supply is accurate, gained "political" prominence in the 20s. If we insist on accuracy then let's be accurate and not undermine points by sloppyness.

ParsonIsOP wrote:The definition I'm using is either implied or stated. Read between the lines.


That's not the point. You have your definition, upon which you base arguments that prove free will is inconsistent gibberish, and proceed to loudly declare the conclusion as immutable fact. It would be better, if you want to show free willers wrong, to proceed from their definitions (this may require some teasing out), visibly apply your arguments to those if possible, and only then feel entitled to declare that it is gibberish.

You say that you have a good idea of what the "colloquial" definition is, or what the idea means to whoever you're discussing it with here, but I really doubt it. You've been called on this by MarbitChow, for example. You yourself declare that "free will is a mish-mash of cultural assumptions with no real agreed upon meaning" which betrays a deep incuriosity about how others think about it. And yes, curiosity is warranted to tease meanings out. "Justice" is colloquially an equally problematic notion, that for one can be rigidly defined by law, and for two requires the ability to think from outside the law so as to see whether the law is in fact just.

So in the end, all you have is at best a linguistic point. "Let's say liberty instead of the potentially confusing free will". To which I'd say, it's obviously confusing to you, so you're free to avoid it. You don't get to deny its use to others though.
The whole point of this is lost if you keep it a secret.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby Housellama » Sun Dec 11, 2011 4:40 pm

You're giving mixed signals here, man. You start saying one thing and end saying something else entirely.

Kreistor wrote:
Housellama wrote:Heh. There's a reason I tend to speak in terms of 'my position'. I've taken a few logic and debate classes. I'm good at it, but it's harder over the internet. There are no rules here, and no one cares about what actually, you know, makes sense? While there is an art to twisting and ignoring facts in debate, there are proper and improper ways to do it.


"Twisting and ignoring facts" isn't a positive, to me. If a fact is relevant, then it matters, and it shouldn't be allowed to be twisted to serve an individuals agenda.


Key word: Shouldn't. Ideally, no one would do what they shouldn't. But try getting a consensus on what shouldn't be done. Also, try getting people to agree on what facts are relevant and what facts aren't, and if the facts that are relevant matter.

Twisting and ignoring facts or statements is a major tool in debate and rhetoric. It happens all the time, and is used by most debating agents, both good and bad. It is, in fact, usually expected. Look at any political, academic or other major debate. Look at any courtroom. It's part of daily life. The part where the internet most often gets it wrong is that there are ways to do it that are proper and ways that are just plain stupid.

Kreistor wrote:Even up to three years ago, I could find people that thought, "It's great to debate on the Internet. No one can prove your facts wrong." To which I proceeded to pile on quotes from texts already converted and made available. In truth, the INternet had placed enormously effective debating tools in our hands against those disingenuous enough to think they could outright lie about what people said.


This is my point exactly. There's a difference between using effective debate techniques and lying. Again, look at court rooms. Perjury is a crime. Debating your point well enough to get an acquittal is being a good lawyer. You may well argue that a guilty man goes free, but that blade cuts both ways. There are people who put innocent men behind bars using the same techniques.

Facts are value neutral. They exist without context. They happened and that's it. What matters is the way that people interpret them. Facts alone are merely things. Without interpretation they are worthless. E=MC squared is simply an equation. Numbers and letters without meaning. Facts alone. Only through the brilliance of Einstein interpretation did they acquire context and value. And interpretation is a matter of interpretation.

Kreistor wrote:"makes sense", eh? I kinda wonder how anything based on twisted and ignored facts "makes sense".


See the above.

Kreistor wrote:Internet debating does have its rules. Don't claim victory. Insulting your opponent has consequences. But what it comes down to is that Internet debating is really about the same thing as classic debating. You are trying to impress the audience, not the opponent. And that is what a lot of trolls miss. They think that they don't lose if their opponent can't prove, to the troll's satisfaction, that the troll is wrong. Debating has never been about convincing the opponent: it's about converting the audience. The opponent can simply say, "No, that's not good enough" forever. But they still lost, and they don't understand how or why.


And here's where your post goes off the rails. Up til now, you were sticking to the point that facts have meaning and value. Right here, however, you completely abandon that position. Now it's suddenly the audience that matters, not the facts. Facts can say anything, or nothing. It doesn't matter anymore, so long as you win the audience.

What happened Kreistor? Why did facts suddenly lose their value? Or are you meaning to imply that the audience should be swayed by facts alone? Are you arguing that facts have some sort of inherent value that allows them to carry the audience by themselves? Or is it that it simply doesn't matter, as long as you get the audience to agree with you instead of them?
(Edit: I just realized this sounds extremely confrontational. It's not meant to. I'm genuinely curious about your shift of position. In my experience, these two positions don't play well together. Can you shed light on how you reconcile these two?)

This is exactly why I said that there are proper and improper ways to use facts. Debate and rhetoric is an art form that has been honed over many millennium of practice and refinement. Which means that the things that work have been found and turned into quantifiable techniques, and the things that work have been thrown out. This is why there are textbooks and courses on debate and rhetoric. Because it works.

Facts are flexible. Always have been, always will be. Why? Because facts find their value in people, and people are flexible. There's a plethora of facts out there. There's a whole booping WORLD of facts out there on the Internet. You can find a fact saying pretty much anything you want. Which means that facts are more or less worthless here. That's part of the problem. Another part is that people are stupid AND that no one wants to believe that they are stupid (yes, I'm including myself in that. I've been in arguments where I've realized at the end that I've been a flaming boophole and was wrong the whole time). Finally, anyone can say anything. It's not a debate, it's a screaming free for all where the winner is often the person who can scream the loudest and cares the least. The signal to noise ratio is terrible.

That's why I tend to stick to "my position" or "my opinion". That's something that everyone is allowed to have on the Internet (often whether you want them to or not). It's one thing trying to debate someone who is reasonable and rational and intelligent, and another thing to try to have an actual debate with the screaming, anonymous horde.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby ParsonIsOP » Sun Dec 11, 2011 4:41 pm

BLANDCorporatio wrote:
ParsonIsOP wrote:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judeo-Christian#Judeo-Christian_concept_in_interfaith_relations

Am I being flippant? Probably. But my point remains that the term was widely adopted because for basically ignoble and artificial political reasons. And by "ignoble," I mean making a cheap show of solidarity where it never existed before.

That it is also currently used as a term to exclude Muslims {snip} And nobody bothers saying Christo-Islamic.


While the lack of "Muslim" in "Judeo-Christian" is telling ("Abrahamic religions", or less accurately "monotheist religions", are terms that appear less often than Judeo-Christian), the fact that there is a cultural/religious connection between Judaism and Christianity was aknowledged at least since Nietzsche, and if that link you supply is accurate, gained "political" prominence in the 20s. If we insist on accuracy then let's be accurate and not undermine points by sloppyness.

I understand the idea of a common historical ancestry. I just think it's stupid. Jews and Christians don't even interpret the OT the same way or approach it under the same cosmological assumptions. And most of either don't even understand that Yahweh and El Elyon were separate gods, much less that Yahweh was a petty war god.

So technically you're right. I just don't care. You may have noticed this from my dismissive attitude.

If you think the historical connection is somehow ethically or philosophically meaningful to the religions, make your case. Again, my point has been that the historical connection is an extremely weak one. And bluntly I think Nietzsche probably enjoyed poking fun at Christians and Jews for not getting their common history at a time when being at odds with each other was more popular than getting along.

But with regard to their having a common system of morality derived from some kind of rich religious tradition . . . that's crap.

That's not the point. You have your definition, upon which you base arguments that prove free will is inconsistent gibberish, and proceed to loudly declare the conclusion as immutable fact. It would be better, if you want to show free willers wrong, to proceed from their definitions (this may require some teasing out), visibly apply your arguments to those if possible, and only then feel entitled to declare that it is gibberish.

You say that you have a good idea of what the "colloquial" definition is, or what the idea means to whoever you're discussing it with here, but I really doubt it. You've been called on this by MarbitChow, for example. You yourself declare that "free will is a mish-mash of cultural assumptions with no real agreed upon meaning" which betrays a deep incuriosity about how others think about it. And yes, curiosity is warranted to tease meanings out. "Justice" is colloquially an equally problematic notion, that for one can be rigidly defined by law, and for two requires the ability to think from outside the law so as to see whether the law is in fact just.

Marbit Chow actually hasn't. If you had read those posts, he basically told me that determinism *does* determine choice. I agree on that point. He also made clear that this doesn't make those determinant factors predictable. Again, I agree. He then claims that the concept of free will is at least useful for some reason I don't recall. Something about it reminding us about the power of choice? I wasn't impressed and don't agree.

The difference between free will and justice is that it's not universally assumed that laws are a necessary component of justice. Some people might think so and you might have a hard time getting them to agree, but it isn't anywhere near as culturally ingrained. You can at least sensibly point out that unjust regimes make unjust laws. And many people have morals that have no force of law. It's a rather clear and straightforward dialogue there.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby ParsonIsOP » Sun Dec 11, 2011 5:29 pm

Balerion wrote:I see the problem. I have either done a terrible job of explaining, or you have horrendously misinterpreted what I have been saying. Or I was right the first time, and you are not understanding utility theory. Of course the evil actions are bad. The evil choices are never good, which is why we are calling them evil. What is good is the power to make such a choice, because it is the same power as that which lets you make good choices. Using that power for evil is always disutility; but the times it gets used for good heavily outweighs the resultant evil. If you could have one without the other, that would be awesome. But unless you have an idea on how to pull that off, we are stuck with putting up with a little evil for a lot of good. And utility theory says a net utility gain is a good thing.

Modern enlightened society measures utility by things like liberty, health and psychological well-being. I don't need the tedious lecture about outweighing pros and cons. In the sense that I am using utility I'm using the rather basic broad definition of the humanitarian concept of "maximum good."

You're also still not addressing my main point. It's a false dichotomy that you only get maximum utility by allowing for evils to exist. It's a false dichotomy to say that either we have absolutely freedom or we have no utility at all. Free choices and liberty doesn't mean you get unlimited options. It means that your basic need for autonomy is adequately met. It doesn't mean total perfect empowerment, which is why we jail murderers.

Utility for an individual has nothing to do with who gets shortchanged as a result. Utility for a group of people will; most evil actions come from that fact, where an individual can increase their utility at the expense of another. But notice: he still got utility. Perhaps more than he costed. You are adding a very complicated moral judgement to utility theory without backing it up. In fact, it is pretty much never possible to avoid shortchanging someone on a decision; if I give lots of poor people health care, someone has to pay for it, decreasing their utility. But if the NET utility goes up, that would make it a good decision. But there is also a very complicated balancing act of avoiding too much burden of disutility on any particular group, so as to avoid creating disutility when they fight back or we feel guilty etc. Trying to hand wave that we can never cause disutility as our actions though... I will be giving a thought experiment later on down that shows how crazy that idea is.

Of course maximizing utility has nothing to do with individual utility.

You don't get to say that either we all have infinite free choice ("free will") or we all get lower utility on the whole. That's a completely unfair and unsafe assumption. And it's a contradiction. You basically said that some people have to give up some choices in order to maximize the benefit to the herd.

Clearly, you blame the shoddy construction of the universe for this fact. Everyone should have all the Wiis they want, given to them by our omnipotent god himself. Children who are raised this way (in extreme luxury) are generally considered spoiled, and quite often are horrible people. One might suppose, in fact, that some level of struggle to acquire items like Wiis helps with character development. Disutility, in small amounts, might actually have a purpose.

Then in that universe being "spoiled" is simply an impossibility. Or just as good, make a universe where people don't want Wii's or get bored. Make it so that we don't have or need an ingrained survival instinct that doesn't care if it occasionally hurts people (just so long as it keeps the species going).

Disutility has no purpose. It is simply a fact of existence.

Why didn't the omnipotent Titans just didn't give poor King Slately the strength of character he needed in the first place instead of "testing" him? Why make him suffer under the delusion of a special fate or make him live in self-hatred at his failure to live up to his own ideals? Hell, chances are, he's too set in his ways to change all that much, no matter what adversity you throw in his face.

What you're doing is the same rationalization King Slately uses. It's the unspoken assumption that "character" and "free choice" are really just higher evidence of an ordered universe and that adversity are really actually good things given to us by the beneficent hand of Providence. It's cognitive dissonance. We know, or we should know, better. The universe doesn't care about us or care what our character is like.


ParsonIsOP wrote:If I have power to act in a way that involves the happiness of another person, I have the power to harm them. There is no getting around that. And I think in the end, that is the part you are not getting. That somehow, I can have power to act involving other people, but not the power to inflict evil upon them. The only way to protect them from my actions is to make their happiness not dependent on what I do; you limit my power to effect the world, which would be how the no-murder universe worked. But what the hell does a world look like where people cannot effect each other's happiness (which is the only way to eliminate evil entirely)? Do you really want to live there? Do you really think it is better than this world? Would we be much more than rocks, when you got right down to it.


That's flatly untrue. Not all power is used to harm or needs to harm. And as people keep yammering at me, evil is rather subjective. As such, one might hypothetically have a universe where rendering such judgments are unnecessary. People are creative, happy, free and content without needing to worry about careless unintended destruction.

Clearly that isn't this universe, so don't hasten to remind me of the various examples that prove that it isn't.

As for your existential question: Why do you even care? Will that guy in the other universe even notice that he's not "free" by your standards? Oh too bad for him, he just has alien emotions and motivations that he thinks are important. It means that he's not really alive.

Maybe he makes up stories about our universe as an example of a purely theoretical hell. "The people there die. How horrific. I'd hate to not have my completely arbitrary and overly-entitled sense of freedom forever."

And if you still want to insist on say no murder and a few other things, at that point we are arguing about the balance point of how much power we should allow with free will. And if you want to go down that road, I can go and add the parts I deleted from here (as its way too long already) discussing how the no-murder thing is an incredibly complicated undertaking, affecting utility in all sorts of ways I am willing to bet you didn't think about.

I didn't say that you should undertake a project that's well beyond your power to achieve. Only crazy people try to make utopias.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby ParsonIsOP » Sun Dec 11, 2011 6:32 pm

Housellama wrote:And here's where your post goes off the rails. Up til now, you were sticking to the point that facts have meaning and value. Right here, however, you completely abandon that position. Now it's suddenly the audience that matters, not the facts. Facts can say anything, or nothing. It doesn't matter anymore, so long as you win the audience.

Debating is just a formal ritual for persuading people.

If you think Republican primary debates are used to establish scientific consensus, then you're insane.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby Housellama » Sun Dec 11, 2011 6:36 pm

ParsonIsOP wrote:
Housellama wrote:And here's where your post goes off the rails. Up til now, you were sticking to the point that facts have meaning and value. Right here, however, you completely abandon that position. Now it's suddenly the audience that matters, not the facts. Facts can say anything, or nothing. It doesn't matter anymore, so long as you win the audience.

Debating is just a formal ritual for persuading people.

If you think Republican primary debates are used to establish scientific consensus, then you're insane.


I was never saying otherwise. I was wondering where Kreistor was going with his argument. He shifted from "facts are inherently valuable and shouldn't be twisted" to "it's about winning your audience". Those two concepts don't play well together in the real world. As you just very aptly pointed out.
"All warfare is based on deception" - Sun Tzu, Chapter 1, Line 18, The Art of War

"The principle of strategy is to know ten thousand things by having one thing." - Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of Earth, Go Rin No Sho
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby ParsonIsOP » Sun Dec 11, 2011 6:38 pm

Housellama wrote:
ParsonIsOP wrote:
Housellama wrote:And here's where your post goes off the rails. Up til now, you were sticking to the point that facts have meaning and value. Right here, however, you completely abandon that position. Now it's suddenly the audience that matters, not the facts. Facts can say anything, or nothing. It doesn't matter anymore, so long as you win the audience.

Debating is just a formal ritual for persuading people.

If you think Republican primary debates are used to establish scientific consensus, then you're insane.


I was never saying otherwise. I was wondering where Kreistor was going with his argument. He shifted from "facts are inherently valuable and shouldn't be twisted" to "it's about winning your audience". Those two concepts don't play well together in the real world. As you just very aptly pointed out.

Fair enough.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby MarbitChow » Sun Dec 11, 2011 8:58 pm

ParsonIsOP wrote:Marbit Chow actually hasn't. If you had read those posts, he basically told me that determinism *does* determine choice. I agree on that point. He also made clear that this doesn't make those determinant factors predictable. Again, I agree. He then claims that the concept of free will is at least useful for some reason I don't recall. Something about it reminding us about the power of choice? I wasn't impressed and don't agree.

It's useful to distinguish between actions that are taken "voluntarily and of sound mind" vs. actions that are imposed by external forces. The phrase "you do this of your own free will" is a colloquial way of describing this. THAT'S the version of Free Will that most people understand - the version that means 'without being involuntarily compelled'.

If someone does something wrong through their own choice, they're guilty of committing the action. If they're forced to do it, the individual that forced them to do so is guilty instead.

Erfworld appears to be set up so that its inhabitants are compelled to kill, above and beyond what we would consider 'normal' in our own military conflicts. On the assumption that the Titans set this compulsion up deliberately, is that sufficient to judge them to be evil?
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby Balerion » Sun Dec 11, 2011 9:35 pm

oooooookay. Time to take some steps back methinks,when you start assuming dehumanization as the source of my objections.

I see two main points of contention that the main argument stems off of. I think the first problem is that we have defined omnipotent differently. As I said in my first post, there are apriori things which simply are (mostly things Plato thought of as the forms). An omnipotent being has no power to affect them, because they are not physical, they are concepts, logical constructs.

I think you don't agree with that definition. Your statements of such things like "simply make people not get spoiled" show one of two things: you either really are not thinking through how complicated a change like that would be, and all of the utility effecting results that would occur (which btw are beyond either of our abilities to calculate; you cannot make the definitive statement that world is of higher utility than ours because you can't even define the theoretical equation, it's that complex). OR, you handwave those complications because the omnipotent being should be able to avoid the problem. I am going to assume its the second option.

For me, those complications cannot be just handwaved away, because they stem from those apriori concepts. 1!=2 ; no amount of power can make it otherwise, it simply is. And those concepts are going to come back to bite you as you try to make your utopia. Which is your burden of proof here btw; you said at the beginning that the presence of evil could not be explained if there is a benevolent, omnipotent, omniscient being, and that evil + omnipotence+omniscience actually mandated maliciousness. So you have to reach a no-evil world, with all the changes that requires, and then show that it has more net utility than all possible worlds with evil.

But if you define omnipotence differently, you are right for your definition. I just think it's a silly definition :)

The second point of major disagreement is that you don't think free will + power = some evil. That allowing disutility from free will is always a bad thing, omniscient beings would know better than that. In your case of omnipotence, you are right. This doesn't have to hold true, because logic itself doesn't have to hold against that kind of omnipotence. But since I reject that definition....

If you give me power and free will, you have no influence on how I decide to use that power. If I can fly, you can't stop me from flying on Tuesdays. If I can talk to an individual, I can insult that individual. When beings are granted the power to communicate with one another, they also have the power to ostracize, the power to belittle, etc. The two are linked, so long as I have free will. You could claim my tongue freezes when I try to insult; but that would override my free will, wouldn't it, if i lose my power when i have decided to use it in a particular way?

But does that mean we should abandon communication? Look at what it has done for humanity as a whole. Our entire civilization is built on it, with all of the astounding utility gains that have come with it. Clearly, the benefits outweighed the costs. The utility of the decision to grant communication, from the perspective of the omnipotent being, was a correct one, as it raised total utility. And at that point, a benevolent etc etc has allowed evil while being omnipotent. And at that point, your statement is false.

That is the specific of a general case. If I have power to make you happier, I also have the power to not make you happier. Your hypothetical where people can all live in harmony etc is basically one where no one else has the power to lower my utility. But they won't be able to raise it by much either. And that is the concern; could the omnipotent being raise the total utility by allowing us the power to interact further? to grant more ability to create happiness, even if that power comes attached to an ability to lessen happiness?

I guess a third point is if free will is even necessary to generate utility. And it's not; I will accept the hypothetical that a being without free will is capable of experiencing utility. But will it be able to experience more than a being with it? that is where I will disagree. Free will lets me discover the options which increase my utility, and partake in them. Because of my relative individuality, letting me find those options will increase the total utility I can experience, and I would contend by leaps and bounds over the automaton.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby ParsonIsOP » Sun Dec 11, 2011 10:19 pm

Balerion wrote:oooooookay. Time to take some steps back methinks,when you start assuming dehumanization as the source of my objections.

I see two main points of contention that the main argument stems off of. I think the first problem is that we have defined omnipotent differently. As I said in my first post, there are apriori things which simply are (mostly things Plato thought of as the forms). An omnipotent being has no power to affect them, because they are not physical, they are concepts, logical constructs.

I think you don't agree with that definition.

You'd be right. Plato's philosophical idealism is hack work. Most of what ancient peoples thought of as being immaterial or supernatural were really just crude abstractions or were emergent properties of natural causes. By way of example, love is a human emotion and behavior, not some weird universal constant that exist in some ideal realm beyond our own. Any speculation in that direction is just that and would be unnecessary to any discussion.

Nietzsche called philosophers of that ilk "mummy makers," since he felt they had no appreciation for history or the process of how things come to be, instead they honor the objects of their appreciation by worshipful preservation and putting it at a distance. They try to make it imperishable and eternal.

And in any case, human character is not beyond the power of human agency. So it's fair to assert that a powerful being capable of creating complex sentient life would be able to design the conditions to meet their specifications.

The question basically boils down to: Why make us capable of suffering and then fill the universe with things that do exactly just that?

Anyway, causing suffering because it serves a purpose, especially when that purpose is easily achievable by other means, is simply sadistic.

Or maybe I'm just looking at naive Taoism that asserts that arbitrarily assigns contrasting properties to objects and decide that just because they're observed, they're fundamentally necessary to the whole?

I don't know. You tell me.

Your statements of such things like "simply make people not get spoiled" show one of two things: you either really are not thinking through how complicated a change like that would be, and all of the utility effecting results that would occur (which btw are beyond either of our abilities to calculate; you cannot make the definitive statement that world is of higher utility than ours because you can't even define the theoretical equation, it's that complex). OR, you handwave those complications because the omnipotent being should be able to avoid the problem. I am going to assume its the second option.

Utility is subjective and goal-oriented. So yes, I can say that omniscient being could create a creature living in an environment where all the utility one could ever want is achieved.

Complexity of a problem is not an issue here because we're assuming said creator had sufficient knowledge to account for all aspects of his creation. Not that this is necessarily the case with Erfworld, but if you're going to assume omnipotence, that's what we got to work with.

For me, those complications cannot be just handwaved away, because they stem from those apriori concepts. 1!=2 ; no amount of power can make it otherwise, it simply is. And those concepts are going to come back to bite you as you try to make your utopia. Which is your burden of proof here btw; you said at the beginning that the presence of evil could not be explained if there is a benevolent, omnipotent, omniscient being, and that evil + omnipotence+omniscience actually mandated maliciousness. So you have to reach a no-evil world, with all the changes that requires, and then show that it has more net utility than all possible worlds with evil.

Philosophical idealism is a hack job. The philosophers who admire it as hacks.

For one thing the burden of proof is on the guys who assert knowledge of "a priori" ideas as being more real than reality and that they even exist. Secondly, it's also a separate proposition to say that these ideals are beyond the influence of any being, and also cannot be assumed even if we grant the premise that idealism isn't just nonsense.

Establish exactly how it is that suffering is a universal constant. Because there is no enigma in the idea of a universe that lacks it. By definition, a universe where beings cannot comprehend it is one that lacks suffering.

Claiming that suffering is a realer-than-real constant that maintains some grand Equilibrium is naive. "Suffering" is a name we give to a psychological human condition. It is not an object-unto-itself and it lacks any reality beyond which it is given by the people who feel it. I for one, have an impossible time of believing that the universe tilts-and-sways around our petty self-centered ideas.

And again, comparing all the alien utility standards that every existed and trying to account for some grand calculus is pointless. And this is why I find discussions of utilitarian ethical theory to be so depressingly boring and vague. People keep revisiting the text book definition instead of actually placing it in the context of history (consequentialism arises from increasing relevance of humanitarian goals in civilization).

Deonotological discussions are worse. Especially around people who have to pretend to be principled for a living.

Again by definition, if all the people are happy by their own understanding of it, then they've achieved maximum utility. That's impossible in this universe given our psychological composition and the necessary problems of survival.

If you give me power and free will, you have no influence on how I decide to use that power. If I can fly, you can't stop me from flying on Tuesdays. If I can talk to an individual, I can insult that individual. When beings are granted the power to communicate with one another, they also have the power to ostracize, the power to belittle, etc. The two are linked, so long as I have free will. You could claim my tongue freezes when I try to insult; but that would override my free will, wouldn't it, if i lose my power when i have decided to use it in a particular way?

Does that even make sense when you read that aloud?

Humans override the will of other humans all the time. If I manage to get a law passed to keep you from flying on Tuesday, then I've achieved a measure of control over your power. Assuming that there are necessary components to make you able to fly, then dismantling that mechanism directly will also keep you from flying, especially if you lack the power to reassemble it (i.e. clipping the wings of a bird).

And I can exercise a measure of control over other people's wills themselves, either by use of soft or hard force. You may have heard of this lobotomy thing.

One of the greatest human projects in any society is education and indoctrination precisely because we know we can try and at least manufacture good character and good manners.

Also, having communication doesn't mean you have the power to harm me. For one thing, I may simply have more power, such that your ability to communicate is irrelevant. For another, while you might say unkind things about me, I might just not care what you think to even be hurt by your opinion. You're trying to establish a general principle that isn't true.

But does that mean we should abandon communication? Look at what it has done for humanity as a whole. Our entire civilization is built on it, with all of the astounding utility gains that have come with it. Clearly, the benefits outweighed the costs. The utility of the decision to grant communication, from the perspective of the omnipotent being, was a correct one, as it raised total utility. And at that point, a benevolent etc etc has allowed evil while being omnipotent. And at that point, your statement is false.

Show me where I said we should abandon communication.

That is the specific of a general case. If I have power to make you happier, I also have the power to not make you happier. Your hypothetical where people can all live in harmony etc is basically one where no one else has the power to lower my utility. But they won't be able to raise it by much either. And that is the concern; could the omnipotent being raise the total utility by allowing us the power to interact further? to grant more ability to create happiness, even if that power comes attached to an ability to lessen happiness?

It's easier just to say "non sequitur" and move on.

You have to establish that lacking the power to make a person happy always also means that I am also unable to make you miserable.

Keeping all my qualifiers to a minimum, I simply lack the power to come over there and torture you. There are complex reasons for this. Throwing you a few dollars is comparatively easy.

I guess a third point is if free will is even necessary to generate utility. And it's not; I will accept the hypothetical that a being without free will is capable of experiencing utility. But will it be able to experience more than a being with it? that is where I will disagree. Free will lets me discover the options which increase my utility, and partake in them. Because of my relative individuality, letting me find those options will increase the total utility I can experience, and I would contend by leaps and bounds over the automaton.

See above. Utility is subjective and you must have agreed-upon standards if you want to be remotely objective about it.

And bad news buddy, we are automatons. Overdesigned automatons with terrible R&D documentation. I bet doctors would love documentation. And maybe a design that's physiologically a little more simple and robust.

One of the other great human projects is pretending that our material form isn't somehow vital to our sense of identity, while hiding or suppressing its various functions.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby ParsonIsOP » Sun Dec 11, 2011 10:45 pm

MarbitChow wrote:
ParsonIsOP wrote:Marbit Chow actually hasn't. If you had read those posts, he basically told me that determinism *does* determine choice. I agree on that point. He also made clear that this doesn't make those determinant factors predictable. Again, I agree. He then claims that the concept of free will is at least useful for some reason I don't recall. Something about it reminding us about the power of choice? I wasn't impressed and don't agree.

It's useful to distinguish between actions that are taken "voluntarily and of sound mind" vs. actions that are imposed by external forces. The phrase "you do this of your own free will" is a colloquial way of describing this. THAT'S the version of Free Will that most people understand - the version that means 'without being involuntarily compelled'.

If someone does something wrong through their own choice, they're guilty of committing the action. If they're forced to do it, the individual that forced them to do so is guilty instead.

Erfworld appears to be set up so that its inhabitants are compelled to kill, above and beyond what we would consider 'normal' in our own military conflicts. On the assumption that the Titans set this compulsion up deliberately, is that sufficient to judge them to be evil?

That definition I have no problem with. But it too comes with baggage since definition #2 is often given as cause for #1. Basically, english sucks. Our philosophical history sucks. Just see the other guy I'm talking about to see what I mean.

All the unnecessary ambiguity goes away if you use words like "consent" or "autonomy" or "voluntary."

As for your question: Yes. Emphasis on the word "deliberately." Motive is important in assigning blame.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby Housellama » Mon Dec 12, 2011 12:16 am

ParsonIsOP wrote:
Balerion wrote:If you give me power and free will, you have no influence on how I decide to use that power. If I can fly, you can't stop me from flying on Tuesdays. If I can talk to an individual, I can insult that individual. When beings are granted the power to communicate with one another, they also have the power to ostracize, the power to belittle, etc. The two are linked, so long as I have free will. You could claim my tongue freezes when I try to insult; but that would override my free will, wouldn't it, if i lose my power when i have decided to use it in a particular way?

Does that even make sense when you read that aloud?

Humans override the will of other humans all the time. If I manage to get a law passed to keep you from flying on Tuesday, then I've achieved a measure of control over your power. Assuming that there are necessary components to make you able to fly, then dismantling that mechanism directly will also keep you from flying, especially if you lack the power to reassemble it (i.e. clipping the wings of a bird).

And I can exercise a measure of control over other people's wills themselves, either by use of soft or hard force. You may have heard of this lobotomy thing.

One of the greatest human projects in any society is education and indoctrination precisely because we know we can try and at least manufacture good character and good manners.

Also, having communication doesn't mean you have the power to harm me. For one thing, I may simply have more power, such that your ability to communicate is irrelevant. For another, while you might say unkind things about me, I might just not care what you think to even be hurt by your opinion. You're trying to establish a general principle that isn't true.


Okay, I wasn't going to get involved in the great Free Will debate, but this is one of my serious philosophical pet peeves.

There is a big difference between coercion and the actual removal of free will. A freaking HUGE difference. Especially when you start talking in terms of higher powers.

Let me define my terms here.

Free will is the ability of an agent to make decisions about his or her actions and the ability to initiate those actions. This does not mean that they have to be successful in the goal of their actions or that the consequences of their actions are not harsh, but the ability to decide and then act on that decision.

Anything that applies to the consequence of an action does not limit free will. The agent still has the free will to decide to take that action, even with the severe consequences. Someone can choose to break a law. Someone can choose to face the consequences. Someone being restrained can struggle. Their options have been limited by their situation, but they still have the free will to act as they may within that situation. Humans have a very hard time actually limiting the free will of another human. We can remove choices and set very high consequences, but actually removing free will is difficult. Now there are arguments to be made about deception and manipulation in regards to free will, but that's an entirely different ball of wax and not relevant to this particular topic. (Hit me up privately if you want to discuss that. I'd really love to actually.)

That's humans on each other. When you bring a higher power into the picture, it gets more complicated. If a higher power sets a system in motion where everyone plays under the same rules and an agents ability to choose is limited only by the situation, then free will exists. A higher power can make non-desirable outcomes impossible to achieve by simply making the rules so they don't occur. The 'physics' of that particular universe do not allow for that choice to be made. Free will is not limited because every agent still has the right to choose for themselves, there is simply less choice.

Now, if a higher power makes an outcome possible for an agent within the system, but removes the agent's ability to choose it, then we have an issue. Agents are physically able to wear blue coats, but are unable to choose to wear blue coats. If a circumstance happened where an agent happened to find his coat blue, he would be able to wear it, but if he took it off, he would not be able to put it back on because agents aren't able to choose to wear blue coats. That's a violation of free will by the higher power because there is a possible outcome that is denied to our agents.

In terms of Erfworld, I believe that what happened is that the Titans set a system in motion where the rules are consistent across the board. Units have free will. They have the ability to do anything they choose within the rules that are set. Everyone plays by the same set of rules. There are no exceptions. Parson's 'hacks' are perfectly legal, if completely unorthodox. Erfworld's physics are as solid as ours. They can't violate them even if they wanted to. I believe that the Titans did not set up a system where there is a point where agents have a valid choice under the rules and are arbitrarily unable to make it. I haven't seen anything like that.

I know the first thing that's going to come up is led vs unled units. When dealing with free will, you have to deal with each individual. Which means each Stabber individually. Take Wrigley, the one unled unit we know of that has died in combat. From our point of view, the rule is that unled units must fight to the death. Must. We view that as no choice. That free will has been violated because the unit has no other choices. Well. Choice is defined by situation. I cannot fly by flapping my arms. Does that mean that God or Allah or insert deity of choice has violated my free will? No. It means that the laws of physics in that situation dictate that I don't have the lift to fly. I can flap my arms all I want, but I won't get the lift needed to counter my own weight. I have the choice to flap my arms. I don't have the choice to fly. Wrigley didn't have the choice not to fight because his unit did not have anyone with the Leadership special. Without that, they had no other orders. Their choices were limited. The laws of Erfworld dictated that they had but one choice, which was to fight.

But Wrigley did indeed see it as a choice. One he, and all of those with him in the unit, made willingly. To fight for Gobwin Knob. They chose to stride forward and meet their end, and did so with their hearts and heads high. I don't say that free will was removed, because they chose to fight. Now you can get into a chicken and egg debate, but in the end, Wrigley and his unit chose to die, rules or no rules. They walked to their deaths willingly and gladly. Free will man. You just can't beat it.

Summation. Coercion does not remove free will. Laws do not remove free will. Exercising your will over another human does not remove free will. The other agent is still free to choose whatever they wish within their situation. Gods can remove free will, but I don't believe the Titans did. This says nothing about their malevolence or lack thereof, but I hate it when people confuse consequence with ability.
"All warfare is based on deception" - Sun Tzu, Chapter 1, Line 18, The Art of War

"The principle of strategy is to know ten thousand things by having one thing." - Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of Earth, Go Rin No Sho
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby Balerion » Mon Dec 12, 2011 12:51 am

And we're done. I made an attempt to move things back towards civil, and you respond with vitriol. Not only that, but you deliberately interpret what I've said along the stupidest possible grounds, in ways that I don't think any sane person would ever try to argue. And I'm tired of finding new ways to say it. I can only assume that because you think the idea is stupid, you expect the arguments for it to be stupid and read to find what you want. And if you are that determined not to have a discussion, fine by me.

My parting words are this: 90% of what you wrote was complete non sequitor to the point I was actually making. And given how long I've been trying to make the point, you aren't ever going to get it. And I no longer care.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby drachefly » Mon Dec 12, 2011 11:49 am

ParsonIsOP wrote:Also compatibilism is equally incoherent precisely because of the lack of a hard-and-fast definition for "free will." This is entire problem in the first place. It's a mishmash collection of cultural assumptions with no real agreed upon meaning. I'm not a compatabilist in the strict sense of the term because I don't regard it as coherent enough to be descriptive.

So when people tell me that it's a useful approximation. Well, no it isn't. In the average philosophical conversation about "free will," it is always implictly assumed that you get to confuse your entitlement issues as a justification for some weird condition of infinite freedom.


Have you ever heard that it's a useful approximation before? If you have, well, my useful approximation could well be different than theirs, and if not, why did you just jump to conclusions? Just because in the 'average', i.e. utterly ridiculous, philosophy conversation, someone dared to misuse a term left undefined for that purpose? By that criterion, quantum mechanics doesn't mean anything either.

The only useful and coherent start on a definition of Free Will I've ever encountered is (note: the following is not a formal definition, but a pointer in the direction of one - all of these have further refinements and caveats, but given the overall shape it's a useful framework) as a compound property of decisions and the systems that made them, designating aspects of the process by which the decisions are made: the decision-making system should have a boundary, should model itself and the outside, should keep a set of motivations on its inside, and should justify its decisions based on those, including any changes to its motivations.
A Free Will is said to be frustrated to the extent that its decisions involve tradeoffs between its motivations, e.g. handing over your wallet at gunpoint (majorly frustrated), or having to choose only one flavor of ice cream (slightly frustrated).

If you take it as limited in this way, it won't be misused, and the specific definition ceases to matter such a great deal. We haven't enough cognitive science to do that completely anyway, but we've laid some warning tape around the minefield as it were. We can definitely say a great many things that are and aren't instances of Free Will, without abusing anything. And this definition is strong enough we can hinge moral consequences on it.

Definitions can't be abuse-proof, but they can be useful.
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