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Everything posted by disarray

  1. Well, whether it is long gone or not does not detract from my point about morality, ethics, and justice being culturally relative. But, before I do a little research, are you sure that the days when people think that stoning a woman for such things as adultery is fair and reasonable are long gone? Ok, I feel like you are feeding me straight lines here, as they say, but here are just three out of any number of articles, complete with photos/video: 2015: Muslims Butcher Woman By Crushing Her To Death With Giant Rocks As She Screams In Agony for eloping after she was married to someone against her will. http://shoebat.com/2015/11/23/video-muslims-butcher-woman-by-crushing-her-to-death-with-giant-rocks/ 2013: Woman being stoned to death somewhere in Africa. Video at http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=176_1364022789 2016: Two teenage girls are stoned to death by ISIS after they were found in a house with two men. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3465227/Two-teenage-girls-stoned-death-ISIS-house-two-men-flogged-50-times.html But yes, if one studies the culture and looks at interviews of people involved, it is obvious that those who stone women nowadays firmly believe that the are serving justice and that the women deserve torture and/or the death penalty for what people in other countries might consider to be common events that are no big deal. As for drugs, again, depends where you are: Iranian pair face death penalty after third alcohol offence https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/jun/25/iranian-pair-death-penalty-alcohol
  2. Dimreepr I gather that the your purpose in posting the clip is to illustrate that punishments are dealt out unfairly to minority groups such as African Americans. I agree that justice is supposed to be blind, though this pertains to weighing the evidence (as in the scales of justice). I agree that justice should be impartial, as in giving the same punishments to people regardless of race, religion, etc. Nevertheless, I maintain that what is a reasonable and just/fair punishment is a matter of individual and cultural opinion, so that one cannot at some point say that justice is or is not taking place in a country that stones a woman to death for adultery or is or is not taking place in a country where someone who is arrested for a DUI is given the death penalty, etc., regardless of whether it is the first time offense or not.
  3. If I may interject, I don't see what difference it makes whether other punishments/measures have (or should) be used. If a guy goes in and out of prison and rehabilitation programs several times and continues to rob gas stations to support his heroin addiction, should we just increase prison terms (under the assumption that doing so would make any difference) or try a different form of rehabilitation, or should we at some point just throw our arms up in the air and say, "Gosh, we tried everything, but you are incorrigible, so we are forced to take your life." I don't understand this line of reasoning...am I missing something? Ah, but how does this definition then define fairness...I believe Socrates had a field day with this question (Plato's Republic), where he shows that pretty much any definition is arbitrary and open to exceptions. Indeed, the next sentence in Wikipedia after the one you quote is that "The concept of justice differs in every culture." I think it fair to conclude then, that the concept of fairness likewise varies. Indeed, further down in the Wiki article it clarifies what it means by "Fairness" by pointing out that the concept typically deals with distribution: "we would endorse Rawls's two principles of justice: Each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive total system of equal basic liberties compatible with a similar system of liberty for all....According to meritocratic theories, goods, especially wealth and social status, should be distributed to match individual merit, which is usually understood as some combination of talent and hard work. So I am not sure how this sort of "fairness," as explained in the wiki article has anything to do with the propriety of the "punishment fitting the crime" or that punishment with an unbalanced consequence is revenge. I would agree, however, as I pointed out before, that relatives of victims (e.g., of a murdered child) tend to demand the most severe punishment that comes to mind (often the death penalty), which, to the court (given perhaps mitigating circumstances) sees such a demand as excessive, coming as it were, from a person who is severely distraught. In practice, there may be some correlation, but I fail to see that this provides us with a definition that suggests that justice is based on reasonable punishments and revenge is based on unreasonable punishments.
  4. Ok, well you haven't answered the question as to why you thought I was not addressing the point made by Ten Oz, as I clearly showed that I was. I don't know where you are getting your definitions. Can you cite any evidence to support the notion that this is the or even "a" meaning of justice? Of course, one hears the dictum that the consequence should fit the wrongdoing, or that the punishment should fit the crime. Indeed, that is where the 8th Amendment comes in, one should not chop off a person's hand for stealing a loaf of bread, as was practiced both in the Middle East as well as Britain (as recently as about a little over a century ago as I recall). But the difference between punishment and revenge is not in the magnitude of the consequences doled out to the transgressor, it is the motive behind the consequences. If a shopkeeper chops off the hand of a starving little London boy, he might feel sorry for the boy, but still think (owing to the social beliefs of the time about punishment) that cutting off his hand is the best way to discourage him from stealing another loaf. On the other hand, an vindictive shopkeeper might not be thinking so much about reforming the boy as to just venting his anger, particularly if the boy ate a bit of the bread so that it couldn't be sold...as if the shopkeeper was meting out an eye for an eye type of vengeful justice. But the distinction between punishment and revenge. in practice, often times is not that great, I would suggest. Justice, in terms of the degree of sanctions and doling out consequences for ones actions is a matter of personal and cultural opinion....in ancient societies and even in some socieites today it is seen as quite acceptable and reasonable to stone a full grown woman to death for such minor things as going out with a man without parental permission. So again, the magnitude of the sanction has nothing to do with justice. And this seems to be the problem with the OT, as it reflects (as does the Quran) a vindictive sort of justice that was prevalent in ancient times, and it is this sort of vindictiveness that people such as Stephen Pinker (The Blank Slate) says that we need to continue to eradicate if we are to evolve as a modern society.
  5. Memammal: I think we are on the same page here. I think that the concluding statements I made in my last post hold. Between such figures as Irenaeus, Paul, Augustine, Calvin, and Luther, it is really just a matter of emphasis and terminology, but the bottom line is that unless one believes that Adam and Eve were actual people who existed in history (as the first humans) within the time parameters set forth in the Creation narrative of Genesis, then, it seems to me, that there would be no need for Jesus to have been on the cross in the first place, with the result that Christianity would have no purpose, since people would have no sins that needed to be forgiven or overcome. Not to be trite, but if Adam and Eve didn't actually exist, Christianity would be like a doctor who claims that one has an illness that one really doesn't have, merely so that one can give you a tablet (or wafer, as it were) in order that you are cured. That is perhaps a main reason that I can't fathom how there can be those who claim to be Christians but who do not take the story of the Creation or the story of Adam and Eve literally, as if it were just some sort of significant allegory. In any cases, scientists are undecided as to whether there was just one (mitochondrial Eve) or whether there were several parallel Eves. If one persists in fudging the time spans, obviously one can suggest that the Bible is not in contradiction with science, but that says nothing at all about the story being true or having any substance whatsoever. If anything, an actual first-modern hominid, scientific Adam and Eve would probably, I suspect, not be evolved enough to carry on a complex dialogue with God (or Satan for that matter) about the ethics of eating fruit from a particular tree of knowledge in order to maintain their relationship with him. Indeed, I doubt that the nature of such a dialogue would be passed down through the centuries in any way so that Church Fathers could, with various interpretations, recount what transpired.
  6. Ten oz, on 21 Jul 2016 - 04:59 AM, said: Exactly, I don't want my Gov't "punishing" its citizens. I want my gov't protecting citizens. We should be locking people up when they are dangerous to protect society from them. Punishment is not a business I think the Gov't needs to be in. I replied: In what ways might one argue that a non-punitive view of incarceration is consistent with the supposed secular (as opposed to religious) nature of the constitution of the U.S. I responded to Ten Oz’s remark directly by agreeing that the Government should not be punishing citizens. Indeed, I suspected that the U.S. Government might incorporate such an anti-punishing attitude in the Constitution, and thus posed the question. Indeed, the Constitution does have the Eighth Amendment as the part of the United States Bill of Rights prohibiting the federal government from imposing excessive bail, excessive fines, or cruel and unusual punishment. (My casual question about parents was just an aside, of course). So how am I not addressing his point?
  7. Theologians are not consistent as to whether Adam or Eve is more to blame for the transgression. Eve is often blamed and feminists often site this as an example of the church's bias against women. However, Augustine, for example, hones in on the fact that Adam became aware of Eve's nakedness, as I recall, and, in any case, came to know "lust" or "concupiscence." Giving this sexual dimension to the meaning of the story of the Fall made it easier to claim that the sin could be passed down in a rather sexual/physical manner from generation to generation, so that all after were born into and tainted by this original sin. To be more explicit: "Augustine argued that erections were the physical expression of the sin of lust (libido) which came about after Adam's sin of disobedience in the Garden of Eden. Erections, and spontaneous sexual desire associated with them, were the proof and penalty of original sin. They were contrary to man's pre-lapsarian nature, to Adam's lustless state before the Fall, and therefore were to be associated with sin.... man, in effect, loses full control over himself, and whatever his mental and spiritual aspirations may be, in the presence of sexually attractive females he is reduced to baser thoughts and physical urges.Under these circumstances, his power is effectively usurped by the woman. Herein resides the fundamental threat posed by women to all heterosexual men. Unable to control their own bodies (a result of Adam's disobedience), men seek instead to control the bodies of women..The sin of Adam and Eve, he argued, has been passed down intact to every member of the human race, transmitted through semen in the act of sexual intercourse." http://witcombe.sbc.edu/davincicode/original-sin.html The notion of Original Sin is not really connected with Paul: "St. Paul does not say anywhere that the whole human race has been accounted guilty of the sin of Adam and is therefore punished by God with death. Death is an evil force which made its way into the world through sin, lodged itself in the world, and, in the person of Satan. The moralistic problem raised by St. Augustine concerning the transmission of death to the descendants of Adam as punishment for the one original transgression is foreign to Paul's thoughts. The death of each man cannot be considered the outcome of personal guilt. St. Paul is not thinking as a philosophical moralist looking for the cause of the fall of humanity and creation in the breaking of objective rules of good behavior, which demands punishment from a God whose justice is in the image of the justice of this world. Paul is clearly thinking of the fall in terms of a personalistic warfare between God and Satan, in which Satan is not obliged to follow any sort of moral rules if he can help it. It is for this reason that St. Paul can say that the serpent "deceived Eve. The theory of the transmission of original sin and guilt is certainly not found in St. Paul." http://www.romanity.org/htm/rom.10.en.original_sin_according_to_st._paul.01.htm In a nutshell: Paul thinks in terms of humankinds Fall from grace and therefore one receives redemption as part of a group (e.g., congregation) that is redeemed through Christs victory over Satan, who had previously deceived Eve and somehow gained control over people. Augustine reinterprets the story to mean that individuals need to be saved as individuals because of the actual guilt that they acquire as humans who have descended from Adam and Eve, who willingly defied God and thereby became guilty and lustful. In this sense, Christ was indeed a sort of scapegoat who was punished for our sins in order that they we be washed away and that individuals are saved if they individually accept this gift of absolution.
  8. Bank issue: Losing your money, whether done at the point of a gun or by manipulating the stock market is still a danger as far as I am concerned....semantic red herring. Stalking: Again, the law deals with gray areas by using concepts such as imminent danger, probable cause, degree of intent, etc. ...so another semantic red herring. Torturing animals: Nowadays we tend to include animals in our definition of society, e.g., 'you hurt my dog, I hurt you' attitude as if they are part of family, and indeed, there can be serious legal sanctions against killing even your own dog. Ironically we don't blink an eye when it comes to slaughtering millions of animals to feed ourselves. Regulations: There is no need for regulations to be seen as punishments, so am not sure what your point is. Regulating the stock market, for example, is still keeping stockholders out of financial danger. Danger need not be just hitting someone with a club. That said, I agree that our government routinely uses punishment in all walks of life, e.g., the behavioral conditioning associated with getting a speeding ticket, parents being allowed to hit their children as they see fit in many states, religious leaders warning people that they might be punished in hell if they don't toe the line, etc. . So the question then becomes whether prison sentences are effective "positive punishment"...e.g., does jailing a woman in El Salvador for several months for having a miscarriage serve to prevent such "behavior" in the future? I would suggest not. But maybe sentencing someone to 5 years in prison for robbing a gas station would make him think twice before doing it again (but then we might ask if a year in jail would have served the same purpose just as well). When it comes to life in prison or the death penalty, there is no rehabilitation connected with the positive punishment, since we will never know if the person would ever do it again. We can hardly say to someone in prison on their death bed as they take their last few breaths, "I betcha won't shoot anyone else again now that you have learned what happens to people who kill".. So in that sense, the death penalty or even life in prison seems like a rather pointless exercise in punishment, so that one can only conclude that, apart from keeping someone off the streets, the whole point is to get revenge. (just my two cents worth)
  9. Thanks, sorry if I missed the drift of the discussion. But again, it seems the point is to establish the credibility of the Bible. I presume that if we can show that if the existence of an Adam and Eve is not inconsistent with science, that somehow lends credibility to the claim that original sin is a valid concept. Even if we can establish that Adam and Eve were historical characters, it is a huge leap (of faith?) to suggest that such a 'fact' would somehow give a degree of credibility to the notion of original sin that Church Fathers created centuries, or rather thousands (or billions) of years later. Though I might have been a little off track, i don't see how you can say that the story of the creation is off track...one is still ultimately trying to establish the accountability and credibiltiy of the Biblical account set forth in Genesis, n'est-ce pas? So my first question would be how old does Raider think the earth is....and how long ago did this alleged Garden of Eden incident take place?
  10. Geordief asked: Can there be such a (useful) thing as an inverse model where you start with a reality and create sub realities? Is that perhaps what art is ? Geo Perhaps the term you might be seeking is "sub-representations." By "real" we perhaps mean that there is something that corresponds to our (representational) mental image, or something that corresponds to Gogh's (representational) pool table, or some physical medium that corresponds to Mike's (representational) water photos. In that sense one might say that the models (mental images, equations, photos, paintings, etc.) are sub realities of what we encounter apart from our own images, art pieces, and artifacts. We can link up any model with anything else really, e.g., Debussey Claire de Lune with the moon. (The representational theory of art is not universally taken as entirely valid). But in a larger sense, all of these things are "real" in that they exist and take part in reality. To mimic Gertrude Stein, a reality is a reality is a reality. The problem is that it is non-reality or 'nothingness' that is hard to imagine (or perhaps is just meaningless).
  11. The chronology gaps argument is similar to the argument that a "day" in the Bible (with reference to the creation of everything in 6 days) stood for huge periods of time, so that, therefore, science can't criticize the Bible. Never mind that the general order of what happened on these days: Day 1: Heaven and Earth Day 2: The sky (earth's atmosphere) Day 3: Dry land. Day 4: Stars, sun, moon....help people keep time. Day 5: Sea creatures and birds. Day 6: Land creatures and humans to rule over living things. Day 7: Rest day, not that God was tired, but to set an example: "keeping of this day will eventually be a distinguishing trait of the God’s chosen people (Exodus 20:8-11)" All in seven 24 hour days! http://www.gotquestions.org/Genesis-days.html In any case, trying to show that Biblical accounts of the age of the earth or the duration of creation, among numerous other things, is in keeping with modern science is quite a Herculean task indeed, if that is what is being attempted. My question was rather why one would want to show that information in the Bible were non inconsistent with modern science, which is actually what one would be doing if one was trying to show that the events were plausible.
  12. i agree, that any hope that science will ever know everything about absolutely everything or about the entire universe is a rather fanciful idea to say the least, but the term ToE is, I think, seriously used, though,perhaps, in a somewhat different manner. I don't usually refer to Wiki, but its article on ToE illustrates that this term is often taken seriously. The acronym typically refers to efforts of mathematics, e.g., with reference to Godel, or to efforts to unify quantum theory and relativity; "In parallel to the intense search for a ToE, various scholars have seriously debated the possibility of its discovery" (followed by list of scientists and their efforts): 'Stephen Hawking was originally a believer in the Theory of Everything but, after considering Gödel's Theorem, concluded that one was not obtainable: "Some people will be very disappointed if there is not an ultimate theory, that can be formulated as a finite number of principles. I used to belong to that camp, but I have changed my mind.'
  13. Good research Raider, though it would be nice if you had added a little explanation as to what your point was and which particular passage(s) supported that point. It seems to me that the author is, in part, trying to explain how a literal interpretation of Genesis would hold up in terms of what we know now. Hence, the author's point might be that Genesis is in keeping with modern science because neither the chronology nor anything else in Genesis can be used to date the earth as being only a few thousand years old. Another point the author makes is to suggest that it is quite possible that people at that time could literally live to be 900 or so years old (e.g., Methuselah at 969), as if that is biologically possible. The explanation is that people at the time were probably excited about a coming kingdom, and that God had people live longer in order to populate the earth more quickly: "My wife and I have had six children in our 17 years of marriage. Imagine what could be done in 900 years?" Personally, I would find it hard to be having children with someone older than (oh I don't know), say, 300!" I know of nothing in the works of, say Richard Dawkins, that would support the idea that any hominid could live, say, over 130 years of age. Nor do I know of anything in science to support the idea that humans were made holus bolus in a blink of an eye, or that Eve was made from the rib of Adam. And again, despite exceptions, most Biblical scholars and exegetes do indeed come up with a figure of, say, 5 or 6 thousand years old for the earth (and the universe as well, I gather), as opposed to the scientific estimate of 4.5 billion years for earth and 14.7 billion years for the universe. As a reminder, a billion is a thousand, thousand, thousand years. So if the author is trying to make the point that Genesis is a reasonable document for modern people, I don't see how this was accomplished. I tried to find some concluding statement, but the conclusion seemed not to fit the body of the article. Indeed, the main point that the author seemed to be making was that women were responsible for the Fall: "it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being quite deceived, fell into transgression" with the result that women should make up for this transgression by having children: "she shall be saved through the bearing of children" so that (following the words of Paul), "“The most important work of all is for a godly woman to raise godly children.” So the article is not particularly about the age of the earth per se, but rather about how one can understand Genesis. If nothing else, encouraging women to have children in order to reverse humankind's expulsion from the Garden of Evil sounds like a "good line," but then again, giving corny lines to a woman seems like a rather serpentine thing to do. In any case, I am not sure what the point of your apparent efforts to show that the Bible can be taken literally actually is? Are you trying to show that the Bible is in keeping with modern science? Are you trying to show that everything in the Bible can be taken literally, or that there is only one possible interpretation of everything in the Bible, or that the Bible is the Word of God and other religious scriptures are not?
  14. Serious question: In what ways might one argue that a non-punitive view of incarceration is consistent with the supposed secular (as opposed to religious) nature of the constitution of the U.S. Casual question: What would a non-punitive parenting style look like?
  15. As for the Mike's water experiments and the aether or physical medium with regards to gravitational waves, a concise article entitled "Why Does Gravity Wave and Why Does it Matter" begins with a discussion of ripples on water and concludes by noting that "in the late 1800s it was found that the speed of light was always the same regardless of ones motion through the aether. This is a deeply un-wavelike behavior. If light really moved through the aether at a particular speed, the Earth’s motion through the aether should make the speed of light appear faster or slower at different times of the year. An unchanging speed of light meant our assumption about the aether must be wrong."
  16. Yes, one has to distinguish between causality, association, and reverse causality, and this is a good example of it. I am particularly interested in the idea that 25 years mighty be sufficient, given the low crime rate in the country that has that as a maximum. Perhaps the idea that we need to give a 20 year old murderer a life sentence is in part based on the idea that people who murder are basically evil, and that such evil will never go away, and thus the murderer will never change and will always want to murder again. In reality, I suspect that most murderers are not likely to murder again, but the murder they commit is a one-off event based on revenge, jealousy, rage, or whatever temporary emotion related to some situation that will never be repeated in their lifetime. Indeed, serial killings account for no more than 1 percent of all murders committed in the U.S. Hence, the murder rate in a country that has a maximum penalty of 25 years would be much the same as the rate in a country that had a life sentence or death penalty. Rapists, however, have a much higher rate of recidivism, perhaps around 30%, but again, one wonders what percent would repeat after 25 years in prison....not because time in prison had reformed them, but, more likely that they no longer have the motives and desires for raping that they once had. "In some countries, drinking and driving is punishable by death. A first time offense in El Salvador leads to execution by firing squad, while a second offense in Bulgaria also leads to execution" though in El Salvador the usual sentence for rape is 6 to 10 years, with 'women not reporting incidents of rape for reasons including "ineffective and unsupportive responses by authorities toward victims, fear of publicity, and a perception among victims that cases were unlikely to be prosecuted'. http://www.refworld.org/docid/560b8b294.html El Salvador authorities apparently do not distinguish between abortion and miscarriage, and in both cases hold the woman responsible for what they see as murder, with many women who miscarry women imprisoned for miscarriages usually serving sentences of up to 40 years. Even last year, "abortion – or miscarriages treated as suspected abortions – can be regarded as murder, which can carry a 40-year sentence." https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/dec/17/el-salvador-anti-abortion-law-premature-birth-miscarriage-attempted-murder Why so harsh to women? "Although Pope Francis said this year [2015] that priests have the capacity to pardon women who have abortions, it will take a long time to shift attitudes in El Salvador. Polls show public opinion is strongly against any change in the law even in cases of incestuous rape of minors." https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/dec/17/el-salvador-anti-abortion-law-premature-birth-miscarriage-attempted-murder As for murder, El Salvador is described as the murder capital of the world: "According to new figures produced by the Institute of Legal Medicine in El Salvador, there were 6,656 killings in the country last year. That translates into a national homicide rate of almost 116 per 100,000, more than 17 times the global average." What is to be done? "Getting El Salvador's homicide problem under control requires more than...improved prison conditions. It also demands preventive measures that curb family disruption and protect the most vulnerable members of society. The country's elite need to avoid the temptation to impose stiffer penalties and throw more people in jail. If they want to reduce crime, they should improve the lives and opportunities of working families and unsupervised youth. (Other steps being taken include offering credit to households headed by women, refurbishing community centers and upgrading slum areas, and regulating drug trafficking. In short, rather than focusing on existing conceptions of guilt and punishment in societies such as El Salvador, it seems that focusing on defusing situations likely to cause violence, rehabilitating offenders at a young age, and changing archaic attitudes are more likely to be productive.
  17. I am not in the habit of making personal observations, but I would note that astronomy/astrology, astrophysics, quantum physics, and relativity deal with such grand narratives that they often strike a mystic chord with those trying to peer into the depths of chemicals, cosmos, and creation, in search of ultimate and arcane meanings from the lips of any wandering modern day Delphic oracle. Apparently such alchemania can afflict even the most intelligent, Newton being a case in point, not to mention the tons of quasi-scientific books on the spiritual significance of quantum theory and the like that one finds on the shelves of any New Age bookstore.
  18. Yes, the use of capital punishment/death penalty has certainly diminished as time goes by, and this suggests that abolishing it is an advancement of some sort: An increase in human rights and a decrease in both torture and capital punishment occurred with the fall of the Nazis, the dissolution of the USSR, and the abandonment of Apartheid in S. Africa. The notion that death is some ultimate punishment arose, in part, over the centuries because death was often preceded by various forms of torture. Even in "modern times" prisoners were routinely beaten in the U.S. (Alcatraz), (e.g., with blackjacks) and place in solitary confinement for up to 22 months, despite Federal law mandating a maximum of 19 days (which is still rather horrific). (By the way, a typical cell in Alcatraz measured 9 feet by 5 feet and 7 feet high (45 sq feet) with at least 2 occupants, and even today, the average cell is around 6 x 9 feet (54 sq ft) with two occupants, even though the American Correctional Association standards call for a minimum of 70 square feet in single cell housing! So even life imprisonment should not, in reality, be seen as some sort of less punitive option than death. Indeed, even if we claim we are just trying to isolate them from society, such treatment can hardly be seen as humane.) Given that "the great majority of statistical comparisons indicate that the presence or absence of capital punishment does not visibly influence the rate of homicide," one wonders why anyone would wish to advocate its use. Indeed, "an overwhelming majority among America's leading criminologists believe that capital punishment does not contribute to lower rates of homicide." https://www.dartmouth.edu/~chance/teaching_aids/.../JLpaper.pdf Perhaps taking away a person’s life gives the most satisfaction to some atavistic desire to be avenged. Certainly when listens to the relatives of someone who has been brutally killed, for example, one often hears heated rhetoric that reflects the need to dole out punishment and get revenge. Whether people or their representatives base their voting choices on such raw emotions when it comes to determining whether the death penalty is legal is an interesting question. Since there can be no consensus as to whether the death penalty is "ethical," given the aforementioned abundance (or plethora) of ethical frameworks held by citizens who determine what is ethical and what is not, I think that it is worthwhile examining the motives of those who are in favor or against it.
  19. Markus. I have perused your website on relativity, and I defer to your superior understanding of Relativity, and I take your point here, but I don't think that a discussion about whether space(time) is essentially mathematical or physical in nature, or a discussion about the basic constituents of the universe is necessarily idle speculation or asking for an unanswerable "why" or based on a presumption that one can get beyond models to some ultimate reality. For example, according to G.S. Sandhu, the physical discovery of gravitational waves suggests a return to a more physical approach to understanding space. Relativity is a wonderful model, but a paradigm is a paradigm is a paradigm, and we need not assume that there may not be some further breakthroughs regarding the compatibility of Relativity and quantum theory, in our understanding of gravity, or in our understanding of the nature of space and time (and whether it or they needst be 'bundled' with other items).
  20. Mike, Speaking of bundles, I gather that some mathematical constructs favor the "bundled" approach and others suggest that time, for example, might exist independently of forces, matter/energy. Admittedly as a lay person, I prefer the notion that the basic ingredients, whatever they might be, are inherently present from the 'beginning', so that there is no such animal as time or space without "force," etc. If so, the concept of a universe that is pure space and nothing else would be an oxymoron. Much like the proverbial acorn with its DNA potential just waiting around for rain, one might picture the Higgs Boson field just waiting around for some perturbation or density fluctuation giving birth to mass. But speaking of Lucretius, it is amazing that he can relate that "it is hard to believe that anything in nature could stand revealed as solid matter" over two thousand years ago. In any case, it does appear that the initial "forces," including gravity, came rather bundled together circa the Big Bang, does it not:
  21. Mike: I do not pretend to be a professional quantum physicist, so I am out of my depth when it comes to discussing waves and water mediums (pun intended). However, I find it easy to follow pretty much everything that you are saying since I share your philosophical/poetic streak. To some mathematicians, such cosmic soul-searching seems inane: "The glory of mathematics is that we do not have to say what we are talking about" Richard Feynman It does seem that the "Being" of space, along with its inelucatably concomitant bedfellows (e.g., energy, forces, gravity) is something that can be said to have "Existence" in itself, not only from a linguistic standpoint but also from a physics one. I suggest this primarily on the basis of two widely accepted concepts: First, that there is nothing (no "space" or "spacetime"...nothing at all) that is supposedly "outside" of the universe (again, both from a linguistic and physics standpoint). [i am putting aside the speculative possibility of a multiverse and other universes here]. Secondly, that space is expanding at a speed near, at, or beyond the speed of light. Conclusion...Some "thing" is expanding. "Nothingness" on its own does not expand. I am not sure whether the idea of spacetime as a medium is necessarily what is meant by "aether," and the issue may have more to do with whether there are some sort of absolute coordinates (Forgive, or rather, tolerate my ignorance). In any case, there are those scientists who take the pragmatic stance that "for all practical purposes," the universe not only can be best understood, or only ever understood, in terms of a mathematical framework, but also, taking it a step further, the universe may ultimately be nothing more than mathematics, in some sort of neo-Platonic manner of speaking. Thus gravitational waves are not ripples in a medium like waves in water, but are perhaps just ripples in the mathematical construct of spacetime. In short, we might just cut to the chase and say that said ripples are just (predictable) effects of, and in, both 'mathematic reality' as well as our mathematical model of the 'mathematic reality' of the universe. In short, we have our own numbers modeling the intrinsic numbers that constitute (at bottom) literally all of reality (which is the universe). If this be the final answer that physicists are wont to give us, should we not retort that if that is the case, then, in the manner of the Ancient Greek philosophers (e.g., Pythagoras, who is reputed to have said that "Geometry is knowledge of the eternally existent.... Number is the within of all things."), then the medium that we seek is none other than "numbers" themselves. If so, what this ultimately means, at least for me, would be that the particle theory of nature, espoused by such physicists as Victor Stenger, seems less convincing than Brian Greene's musings: "How is it possible that mathematics "knows" about Higgs particles or any other feature of physical reality? Maybe it's because math is reality...Perhaps if we dig deep enough, we would find that physical objects like tables and chairs are ultimately not made of particles or strings, but of numbers." http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/ciencia/ciencia_consciousuniverse257.htm Similarly, philosopher, James Ladyman of the University of Bristol says that, "These are very difficult issues, but it might be less misleading to say that the universe is made of maths than to say it is made of matter." Ultimately, the medium of math, so to speak, may be the end of the line, as far as looking for some ultimate medium. It is the medium forming the backdrop to every other medium, as if water, for example, was just a sub-medium of the mega-medium of the math of spacetime. We can't look any further because there ain't any medium that is a substrate medium of spacetime. Given that we are used to sub-mediums such as air and water having tactile qualities accessible to our senses, we naturally feel reluctant to accept that the mega-medium of spacetime is so....well, darn ethereal. To say that spacetime or that reality is ultimately just numbers says nothing else, really, than that reality is not only (sometimes amazingly well) organized, but organized in a way that our own number system(s) replicates it with astonishing precision (which should not be that great of a surprise given that life forms mimic their environment), and that its "turtles all the way down" until one gets to the bottom turtle, which is, not surprisingly, so elusive (aka, immaterial, abstract, insubstantial, gossamery, diaphanous, evanescent, ethereal) that it seems to not have, or indeed, doesn't have any (particular) qualities at all.....How could it be elsewise?
  22. I agree. I guess one train of thought might be to discuss whether any given negative sanction is ethical in some deontological sense above and beyond popular opinion. But that would most likely be something of a never-to-be-resolved discussion since people have various religious and/or secular ethical frames of reference, and therefore no resolution to such a debate is likely to be found....unless everyone adopts the same philosophy/religion, which obviously ain't a goin to happen. But yes, conflating various reasons for incarcerating or terminating the life of those who have been convicted confuses research on the issue by virtue of the sheer plethora of confounding factors (e.g., punitive, rehabilitation, deterrence, isolation approaches), and therefore reduces the likelihood that the effectiveness and efficacy of any approach will ever be enhanced, and therefore the unlikelihood that crime will be reduced in any given society, which after all, should be the ethical goal of any criminal justice system. Thus one might ask what evidence is there, or what evidence/data could be collected to determine the efficacy of various approaches in terms of reducing crime, e.g.: Does a guilt-increasing/public shaming approach (e.g., the sort of shaming done by TV judges such as Judge Judy and the like) effectively prevent people from repeating crimes or others from committing them? Note: This is a general question, but does have some relevance to the manner in which murderers are treated in a society, e.g., whether the justice system tends to treat murderers, for example, as individuals who are ill and need treatment, or whether they are treated as evil people without conscience who deserve no mercy or treatment. Does a system that emphasizes the vindictive/punitive nature of incarceration/death (e.g., taking a murderers life because he/she took someone elses) effectively prevent others from committing them? Note: I would suggest that the question as to what percentage of inmates would prefer death or life imprisonment is only relevant here in terms of giving them what they would least prefer. Of course, a person sentenced to death cannot repeat their criminal acts, but is this fact offset by the number of people were innocent in the first place? Does a system that emphasizes rehabilitation (e.g., counseling and treating recidivist heroin users, murderers, or rapists) instead of a death sentence effectively prevent people from repeating such crimes or others from committing them? Given that some can be rehabilitated, is it worth eventually taking the risk of letting them back into society given that there will probably always be a certain degree of recidivism, even after what appears to be successful rehabilitation? If not, should life-long inmates receive (more?) counseling and therapy, anyway, just in terms of being humane? Unless one qualifies the question of the thread and parses out the possibilities for research, it seems unlikely that the justice system will change or improve. Hmmm. Personally, I didn't realize that assumed misinterpretation on my part was such an egregious transgression. It did seem to me that you were summarily dismissing Gilga's view point (i.e., that "plenty of inmates try to kill themselves, apparently agreeing with my viewpoint") by opposing it with your own observation(i.e., that "People on death row appeal the sentence hoping for life in prison instead. They presumably know more about it than you do") which could only possibly serve at all to refute Gilga's comment if you were blindly ignoring his use of the word "plenty" and assuming that he meant "all" and then referring to "all" yourself. Moreover, in logic, omission of the essential qualifying terms of either "some" or "all" traditionally means that one presumes that one is referring to "all" and thus making a generalization. Your failure to qualify your statement in the first place, which was essential unless you were just giving an obvious opposing example in a captious manner, prompted me to attempt to explore the ramifications of the issue in greater detail and length. Merely stating that one refuses to read further is hardly in itself dealing with the question at hand, but for the record, my humble apologies,
  23. You may be trying to talk 'realpolitiks' here, but that is not the concept behind a pure democracy or even a representative democracy last time I checked. What you described sounds more like a dictatorial or monarchic setup. (Unfortunately, in some countries, even here in the U.S. which purports to be among those countries that have carried the torch of democracy across the ages from Ancient Greece, the idea that people are in some sort of ongoing and multifarious conflict with their own government seems to be growing by leaps and bounds.) But in a representative democracy, a representative of the people would supposedly attempt to help pass a law banning capital punishment if that were the overwhelming wish of the people he/she represented. In practice, yes, competent representatives of the people research issues, and perhaps bring such things as their expertise and knowledge of legal precedent to the table as well; but the essence of what they do is to expedite matters while implementing the values and opinions of their constituents. In a country that supposedly holds life sacred (be it from humanitarian and/or religious reasons), and in a country that purports to reform and rehabilitate the wayward in an effort to successfully reintroduce them back into society, it would seem that its people and government should take the least invasive means of attaining such ends (unless one is 'into' vengeance' and 'scare tactics'). Furthermore, if such a society reaches the conclusion that an individual has committed acts that are so heinous that they should be permanently isolated from society, it still seems (to me) that the least invasive means of doing so should be instituted. Given the alleged sacredness of life that many societies claim to hold so dear, the least invasive sanction (as opposed to punishment) would be life imprisonment, as opposed to the death penalty. As to whether a person would choose to die rather than spend his/her life in a (perhaps maximum security) cell is, as I mentioned above, an issue that essentially comes under the umbrella of euthanasia. On this basis, I agree with Ten Oz that a government that expeditiously dispatches human lives in order to punish or cull (apparently extreme) criminals, particularly in this day and age of DNA and other forms of testing that frequently exculpate the condemned, does not set a very good example or model for citizens.
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